Heirs story by voracity
Summary: This story is now LIST ONLY.

Basically, some people aren't who you think they were. they're a bit..different. more wild and fun.
Categories: Buffy/Angel Crossovers, Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Supernatural, Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Other TV Characters: None
Genres: Action/Adventure, AU
Warnings: Slash
Challenges: None
Series: List Only Stories
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 75890 Read: 19941 Published: 2010.07.29 Updated: 2010.09.29
Story Notes:
I'm moving this to list only status because i'm not fond of how it ended on me. i think it was good until the wedding and then the ending kinda crapped out so i'm leaving it on here and only here.

1. Teaser by voracity

2. Second Teaser by voracity

3. Chapter 3 by voracity

4. Chapter 4 by voracity

5. the rest of it by voracity

Teaser by voracity
The older woman looked down at the guards. "Our heir, through that stupid curse, has now lived two full lives and is in his third. If he doesn't get found this life, we have lost him for good and will have to live life under his brother. None of us like that idea." They all nodded. "All we know is that he has maintained as a male. We know that he is reborn on the human world. We know that the curse means he does not have any memories of us." She sat down, looking at the guards. "You are our last, best hope. Last life we nearly got him but he was killed before we could."

"Will he have any of the physical markings?" one asked.

"No, everything of ours has been covered. As yours will be when you're reborn so you can find him." They stared at her. "You must be. It is the only way to find him. Most humans don't believe we're not evil. They would kill you once you exposed yourself. We've arranged to send you to lives where you can search easily. Lives where he might run into you even. With the way he was before, it's more than possible. It will be made so you are about your same age. I hope one of you succeed. We need our heir to ascend before his brother makes everyone everywhere suffer." She waved a hand. "You know how to test him?" They all nodded. "Then I hope you find him and perhaps he'll pick some of you as his own."

They left her to mourn her nephew being gone. The other priests moved them to their new lives.

***

John Sheppard woke up. He hated being 13, but now he knew why he wasn't like the others around his own age. He checked to make sure his door was locked then looked at himself. He took off the small ring he could feel restricting him for the first time. The small, teenage penis turned into a tentacle and he stared. "That's definitely not like the others," he muttered. He put it back on and decided he'd process for now. Then he'd deal with things in the morning. When he could think about tentacles without giggling.

***

John met up with Cam Mitchell for the first time right before Atlantis, staring at him. Cam stared back but shrugged a bit. "So I heard you're going on the great suicide mission," Cam said dryly.

"It needs to be done."

"I know that feeling." He walked them off. "They'll be pissed," he sighed quietly.

"We're protecting him as well as everyone else. We need to do it."

"We do," he agreed. "She might not see it that way."

"With his former nature, it's a good bet he's doing something military," John said. "He'd probably be drawn to here."

"He might be." Cam shrugged. "I don't know. Others of us are in law enforcement or federal service." He took him to see the head guy, again. Jack looked up. "Sir."

"Boys." He let them shut the door. "I haven't seen a single hair of him that I know of."

"Will they penalize us for doing this?" John asked. "It has to be done and we're better suited than most others."

"That's why I'm here," Jack admitted. "I'm much too old but you two, I think he'll understand." He stared at them. "I've had our geeks doing a subtle search for people who we could recruit that aren't military. I figure he's among that group but he hasn't shown up yet."

"We're sure someone didn't screw things up and make him female?" John asked. "You remember when he was younger and that one blessing went wrong? It turned everyone mauve for six months."

Jack smirked. "I remember laughing my butt off because I was off on maneuvers and got missed." He leaned back in his chair. "I do think, and this is personal opinion, he's younger than you two. I have the feeling he's about early-twenties instead of later twenties like you two."

"Which might actually play into getting him somewhere safer," Cam pointed out. "What sort of areas can't we search?"

"I don't know. We should be able to search anywhere," Jack said. "I've been looking for hints overseas but if we're all in this area he has to be somewhere close by." He stared at them. "I doubt he'll fault you two, or me, for doing this since everyone had to be protected. I know in my gut he'd be pleased." Both younger guards relaxed. "Keep an ear out. Sheppard, we'll tell you if there's anything new coming up."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. We need you there. You're one of the few who can handle it. Otherwise I wouldn't have asked."

John nodded. "I get that it's important. I agree, it is. Too important to mess it up." He shrugged. "We'll figure it out I guess." He left, going to do his own searching. Cam joined him later, sitting down against his back, mimicking his position and calmness. They searched out from their area. He wasn't in their immediate vicinity. Or else more of the guards would have migrated there. The ones on the east coast had done this many times. They caught a slight tingle and searched that way. They felt him. They almost made contact with his mind but it was disorganized. He was going into a battle. They hopped up and headed for the general together. He was busy but they gave him dirty looks until he excused himself. "He's on the west coast, sir."

"He's about to go into his first real battle," Cam added. "Within days."

Sheppard nodded. "He was making plans."

Jack smiled. "Any idea where on the west coast? Directly on the ocean, high or low?"

"Lower, just off the coast," Cam said.

"I'd say southern California but I can't pinpoint it exactly either." He noticed the other general listening and pulled their boss away. "He was angry, sir. Really pissed. Kinda scared but he was letting his anger run it," he said quietly.

"I also got the feeling of 'soon it'd be over with and I can go'," Cam warned.

"There's no training grounds out that way," Jack said.

Cam shook his head. "He's not."

"But he is thinking in terms of plans, patrols...."

"It's something to go on," Jack said. "Good job, boys. Let me add that to our searches." He clapped them both on the shoulder then went to tell their researchers. They had to find the kid before he died doing something noble. He came back to his meeting. He had no idea what sort of battle was going to happen in lower California with teenagers.

***

John walked into the lab on the second day on Atlantis, staring at the scientists. "Guys, none of you have eaten or slept in a day. Unless we're all going to die, we can't have you that tired because then we'll all going to die." They grimaced. "So set up a rotation of who's up and who's napping." Rodney McKay, head scientist, did that and shooed them off to rest for a while. He waited until they were alone to stare at him. "Giant brains are wonderful but you have to sleep too." McKay stiffened. John closed the doors around them then stared at him. "We were told your people were all but mythical now," he said quietly.

Rodney stared. "You're...."

"On search but this is too important and our heir would die too," he said quietly.

"I thought I got that feeling from Mitchell," he complained quietly.

John smirked. "Yeah, probably." He moved closer. "Big Brained One," he said in his native language, which translated as their species name. Rodney shivered. "We'll do what we can to make sure we all make it." He patted him on the back. "If you need help, let me know. Some of us studied the stories of your people as a great myth."

"I'm one of the last left," he said. He looked at him. "Prove it."

"Here?" John asked with a teasing grin. "Where just anyone could come in?" He moved closer, brushing his stomach against Rodney's shoulder, letting him feel the protective barrier he wore. Rodney shivered. "Carson is a healer. I got that off him."

"He is. He knows about the alternative systems." He kept his hands from drifting toward his stomach. "Is he military?"

"No. Cam and I think we spotted him in the dream realm. He was shining a bright, angry light and was going to hit a battle within days." Rodney moaned. "Jack knows."

"He is?"

"Yeah. From the last round of search."

"I never realized that."

"Maybe because you never wanted to check out his tentacle," he said in his ear. It got him swatted and he laughed, smirking at him. "Or not." He stepped back. "If you need us, call."

"I will. Is it going to bother you being up here?"

"No. It's too necessary and it's protecting him too. He probably won't. If he does, well, I'm still his guard."

"True." He patted him on the wrist. "I need to get back to work."

"Of course you do and I'll be around. Just yell." He walked off, leaving the lab's doors open.
Second Teaser by voracity
Author's Notes:
because i like being a huge, mean tease.
***

Tony grimaced at the elder guard that had called him up. "There's been no battles. There was an unconfirmed report that a school blew up but they said that was a static discharge and a gas leak."

The head of NCIS, Tom Morrow, grimaced. "You're sure? Nothing covert?"

"No, nothing. Not even Abby could find anything except that school thing. Though, they would not let her get into the files and the story was pulled after only a few hours."

"That sounds unusual."

"It is and there's no reports from any agency out there."

"Damn it," he muttered. "All right, do what you have to do, DiNozzo."

"I think he's on the move, I can feel him stronger now. So wherever he was somehow shielded him from us."

"There's not supposed to be any way to shield things from the search and calling."

"Yeah but apparently we're wrong. Is there anyone we could ask?"

"One of the Big Brained Ones."

"They're myths."

"No, I've heard from one of my fellow guards that one of your fellow guards found one on his military project."

"Interesting." He considered it. "Very interesting. Why go military?"

"Scientist. Astrophysicist to be exact."

"Do we have a name? Maybe more of their family is down here?"

"I have no idea."

"Damn." He walked off, thinking about it. He was done for the day. Even Gibbs was at home. Tony knew the local area and he might know someone who might have a clue so he went to see him. The club was nice looking, it was loud, but it made the guy money. For being a demon prince, it wasn't a bad gig. Better than his some days. He rubbed gently over his newest scar then put his hand down. "I need to see the Prince," he told the guards.

"He's not taking visitors."

"It's only a simple question and it's for the Search."

They stared at him while one called. That one nodded and they patted him down before letting him in. He walked in. "They're paranoid, did your ex come back?" he joked.

"DiNozzo," he said, sounding tired. "No, my son did."

"Ah." He sat down. "A question. Which you might not have the answer to but someone you know probably does. The heir was in a shielded place. He's out of it right now and we can feel him better but he's on the other coast. Though still slightly blocked from view. We can't get a firm feeling or vision of him."

"Shielded?"

"Yes. And we know he was in a battle recently but there's been none showing up anywhere."

"West coast?"

Tony nodded. "Why? Did you hear about the battle? Was it with one of our kind?"

"No, the kid was probably at the ascension that got stopped a few days back." Tony gaped in horror. "The hellmouth, Tony."

"The what?"

"Hellmouth. Thin spot between dimensions. It sits in this small town called Sunnydale. Has a slayer on it."

"Them I've heard of."

"She had to fight their former mayor the other day when he decided to change to a pure demon." Tony's mouth fell open. "From what I heard, the mayor's people shut down speculation pretty quickly."

"That gas explosion Abby found out about?"

"Yes." He sipped his drink, grinning some. "I'm surprised you guys didn't look for him there first. With that curse, I would've bet all three of his lives would've ended up there because it's likely it'd end really quickly."

"I didn't even know it existed. I can report that though. Thank you. Need help with your son?"

"If you want to arrest him."

"Is he a Marine? Or in the Navy?"

"No. Pity, he went Army." Tony wrote down a name and phone number, sliding it over. "Thanks, DiNozzo."

"No, thank you, that helped a whole hell of a lot." He winked and got up, going back to his car so he could drive home. He called his overseeing guard. "Morrow, DiNozzo. Hellmouth?" He listened to him spill about speculation. "That gas leak the other day was a slayer fighting off an ascending mayor. So he was probably at that." He smirked. "Yeah, the prince did. By the way, his son is in town."

He hung up, deciding to drive a bit faster. The others had to know! It was the first good lead they had! He was just graduated and that would give them better search areas, like colleges and military intakes. Hopefully. He finally parked and got out, heading upstairs to shed his clothes and drop into the meditative sharing state. He got all but Cam, who was closest. "Damn it," he muttered. "Cam!" He flickered but wasn't nearby. He told the others what he now knew. That would help them a lot. One promised to tell Cam once he got back from wherever and John when he got back from whenever. It could only help. They tried to reach out to him but he was still slightly shielded. He was definitely in lower California.

***

John and Cam faced down their sender about a year later. "My lady, it was necessary," John told her. "Or else everyone, including our heir, would have died. It would have spread to our people as well."

Cam nodded. "The gou'ald are an ancient enemy of ours as well as the humans'. The Ori coming are the same."

"The wraith in my section of space can feed on us just as well as they do humans," John agreed, rubbing his chest.

Cam patted him on the arm. "I saw that report."

"I don't want to think about it."

"The heir would appreciate such sentiments but we need you both on the search. You're closest to his area, Cam."

"Yes, ma'am, but he's back to being shielded again. So he's somewhere on the hellmouth or very close to it." She shuddered. "We have the feeling, and this is from rumors, that there's a few out there with unnatural skills, which could be his breaking out, who help the slayer. I can't get close enough to check."

"None of us can be on that dreaded town," she admitted. She considered them. "If we could find a way to confirm it is him I would be happier."

"If we can find out who or what is shielding him beyond that hellmouth, we'd all be happier," John told her. "I know when they found him the first time, he was still so shielded they couldn't get a clear lock on him. That speaks of magic or of the hellmouth trying to claim him."

"Either of which is bad for us," she said. "I can send a few of the younger ones that way. That is not a problem. They have been taking out their frustration by ending the worst of the hell spawn that come after people."

"With our heir's luck, they'd come after him too," John agreed. "Is there any way to get him off the hellmouth? Or is there any way to break that magical shielding on him?"

"I will ask but neither is good for us and our needs." She slumped. "Thank you, boys, and you have done a very good job. Even if Cam did nearly die from his noble deed."

Cam shrugged. "My duty is to protect our people. The gou'ald winning down here is not going to keep us safe."

"No, it will not. Keep us informed, boys." They nodded, bowed, and left. She went to talk to their scholars. That damned curse from his brother was annoying them all and worrying everyone but his brother's people.

***
Chapter 3 by voracity
Sam and Dean Winchester looked at each other then nodded. That was a clear order from on high they had just gotten. Dean called his 'father' John, who was an older search guard. "Hey, Dad, us," he told the voicemail. "We have a head's up on where the boy is. We're going to need some major backup. Call us ASAP." He hung up. "This is not good."

"That town's a cesspool," Sam said, looking it up. "We have to get the heir off there." His phone rang. "Hey, Dad. Yeah, we're good but the High One said he's on the hellmouth." John swore and Sam waited it out. "They think he's shielded too. We need to see if we can spot him. Well, they have a slayer," he admitted, finding a site online that gave a head's up view from the demon perspective. "Yeah, that's why. Please." He hung up. "He'll meet us there in two days."

"We can do that if we hustle," Dean promised. They packed up and left. This was going to be a nasty trip. Hellmouths were dangerous.

***

Dean slid onto a stool at the demon bar's bar. "Hey." The demon stared at him. "Beer me."

"You're human."

"Yes and no," Dean said dryly, staring at him. "We were told there was someone in town we needed to find and help."

"Who?"

"Our heir," he said quietly. The demon behind the bar stared at him in horrified shock. "So yeah, beer me?" He got given one and the money waved off. "We know he's here, he's shielded by both the area and some other way." He took a sip. "Good beer, thanks. Got any ideas?"

The bartender shook his head. "Half the town has radiation from the hellmouth covering them. Demon and human."

Dean nodded. "I realize that. This one's leaking like a sieve."

"We'll tell the witch and she'll tighten it down again hopefully."

"Which witch?"

"The slayer's witch. She works with a witch, a construction worker-hunter, her watcher, the hunter's girlfriend sometimes. They just brought her back from her death from fighting Glorificus." Dean shuddered. "Her witch has a witch of her own but something's going on there. We can pass on a message. Any idea what he looks like?"

"We know he's definitely human but when he left, the shields on him prevented us from seeing him."

"Huh." He considered it. "You know, with that luck, the one you're looking for is Harris, on the slayer's team, but I doubt it. He's so normal he's mundane. Though a demon magnet."

"Can we meet with them? We have a legitimate hunt out here." The demon stared at him. "Hi, Dean Winchester."

"Shit," he said in awe.

Dean smirked. "Well, not today. Maybe later." He finished his beer in a few gulps. "Can we chat with her and her crew?"

"They're at the Magic Box, like always. Who are you guys supposedly here for?" Dean put down the notes they had. "That's bad," he decided. "She's by the college most of the time." That got a nod and Dean left. "Lords help him, above and below," he muttered. "He's going to need it with that task at hand."

Dean talked to his father and brother and they went there together. "Howdy," he said as he walked in. The blonde in the fashionable outfit stared at them, palming a stake. "Relax, we're here on a hunt. We were told we could come talk to some people here."

"Who are you three?" the redhead asked.

"I'm John Winchester, these are my sons Dean and Sam. We're hunters, ma'am."

"I've heard of other hunters," the blonde admitted. "A former watcher went to you guys for some training. Why are you in my town?"

"We know the town has a slayer and we've been asked to get a specific being," Sam told her. "We don't want to step on any toes or anything so we've come to talk about them. Is she here, ma'am?"

"I'm not that old," she whined.

"And it's her," Willow said with a point and a grin. "I'm Willow, her main witch. Xander's in the shelves fetching for us."

"Cool," Dean said, coming down to shake her hand. "Thank you, I heard about the ascension a while back." The blonde beamed at him for that. He put down his notes. "Do we know her?"

"Oh, dear." She looked at Willow. "What did you do?"

"Nothing!"

"Really?" She held up the notes. "Look familiar?"

Xander came down to read over her shoulder. "That's Amy, not her," Xander said quietly. "Once they deratted her, she kinda went to a magic dealer and started to drift again." He nodded at the guys. "What's she done that's that bad?"

"A few things. Including stealing items with power and damaging some people," Sam said. "Is she a friend of the group?"

"She's my former pet rat, but she turned herself that way," Willow said, handing it over. "What items did she steal? We might be able to help you get them back." John produced his notes on them. "Oh, yeah, I've seen a few of those." She looked up the one she hadn't seen. "That one's at a pawn shop," she said with a point.

"Your pawn shops take mystical artifacts?" Sam asked.

"This is the hellmouth," Buffy said dryly. "I'm sure at least one does."

"Two do," Xander told her. "The one on sixth will only take smaller, amulet sorts though. They had something possessed a few years back and the owner ended up with it inside him, sacrificing his virgin daughter for the being's needs. But I'm told she and the baby are very happy together and she's keeping the baby from going back to his evil former self." He walked off. "Let me know what I can do to help."

"It looks more like capturing her and cleaning up her mess," Willow said. "You have to work early tomorrow."

"I know I do, but it's not like I'll get any sleep if I go home. Anya's still stuck in her soap opera binge. She's worried she'll be knocked into a coma and get amnesia now." The girls all laughed. "Don't even start since it was you two who introduced her to them." He gave them dirty looks and went back to his sorting and shelving.

"You've gotta excuse him," Willow said quietly. "He's kinda normal and magic goes screwy around him so we don't like to include him in magical things."

"And yet the last two spells I helped with didn't," Xander called. "And they haven't since before graduation, thank you. You also might want to remember, I do have *fantastic* hearing so you're now without a birthday present."

She huffed. "You wouldn't dare."

He glared at her. "Yes I would."

"You're being mean on purpose."

"I can paddle your ass," he offered. "Because hey, normal people are people like Giles, before they got trained." She shrank down at that. "As for magic going screwy. Hasn't happened since I went to Oxnard. So probably something to do with being in the highschool overtop of the hellmouth itself. Huh?"

"Enough," Buffy called. "This argument is too stale to even make into croutons."

"I didn't bring it up," he shot back, grabbing his jacket and walking out.

She sighed. "Sorry. This has been an ongoing thing on and off for years."

"Though he is right," Spike said dryly. "And probably vamp bait sometime soon since no one teaches the boy anything." He smirked at the hunters. "Winchesters."

"Spike," Sam growled.

"Easy, he's unable to hunt so he's on our side now," Buffy said. "Who did he kill that you knew?"

"Three of my frat brothers. His *girlfriend* made them his slaves for a whole weekend and then they killed them to get the rest of us."

Dean looked at him. "You never told me you had to handle that while at Stanford."

"Yeah, well, not the most shining moment since I had to build traps to get two of them."

"It's always hard when it's friends," Buffy said gently. "Trust me, I know this very well." She stood up. "Let's go find Amy. She should be at home about now." She walked them out before anything else could happen that was bad.

"How are things going around here?" John asked. "When we looked up the town we saw it's still got a pretty high death rate," he said at her look.

"It's half of what it was when I got here," she offered.

"Want us to stick around and help for a few days?" Dean asked. "Not like we have to hurry off once we handle her."

"Nah, we're cool most of the time. It gets tiring, because it's nightly here, but we can handle it outside of apocalypses. Which seem to happen all too frequently."

John patted her on the back. "If you need our help, you can call us, Miss Summers." She stared at him. He smirked. "A few of the hunted demons sites have your name and no pictures."

"Ah." She nodded. "That's probably a bad thing but I know they have their own gossip network. That's why I go threaten Willie now and then for information." She pointed. "She's in the back apartment on the right. There's a back and a front door. Fire codes," she said with a grin.

"I'll take the back," Dean said. "Dad, you and Sammy get the front." They nodded and spread out that way. He heard someone knock and it sounded like her instead of one of them. Slayers were forceful little things. He hadn't run into one before. They got the witch, her stolen artifacts, and handed her off to some people waiting outside of town. Then they checked into the motel to search. "That witch has anti-magic blocking on the shop," he said. "Everything but hers."

"Which might be protective," John pointed out.

"Maybe but it felt wrong too." Sam's amulet was glowing but in an overloaded way. He put it aside and they cast out to search. Beings of power were set aside. Then the ones that read fully human.

"Huh," Sam said.

"What?" Dean asked.

"Their helper, he's not fully human. He's got mermaid taint."

Dean looked then nodded. "I got told the kid was a trouble magnet." They kept going and found a few who it could be. And that one kid. "We'll keep him on the list." They nodded and made the list. Something very odd was going on in this town and they weren't sure it was entirely the hellmouth's fault.

***

Cam took the list with a sigh. "You can't get it narrowed down any further?"

"No," Sam said, shaking his head. "We tried. There's too much energy there to do an effective, good search. We narrowed it down that far but that's all we managed. This one," he said with a point. "Felt highly unstable. Mentally going wrong sort of highly unstable." He looked at him and grinned. "This one actually helps the slayer. He has mermaid taint."

"Oh, that's wonderful, but at least she hasn't killed him for it." He went back over the list. "Well, shit. That's only ten names."

"We'd have to get them outside the town," Dean said. "Even standing next to them we couldn't search them."

"My search amulet nearly exploded," Sam told him.

"We did start with background checks," John offered, handing those over. "That hunter she works with? He is the demon magnet of the universe. Worse than Sam is."

Cam looked at them. "You're joking, right?" They shook their heads so he flipped to that one. "No, you're not joking." He stared at it then at them. "Do we think he's a possible one?"

"He's in the right age range, he showed up during the search," Dean offered. "I'd say we have to consider him. He did leave town in that right time. All of those did. He went to Oxnard. Apparently he broke down and ended up at a strip club there."

"There is heavy magic floating around him," Sam said with a small shrug. "That could be their witch or it might be another one. They said magic went wrong around him when he was younger but he did point out the former high school was right on top of the hellmouth. I doubt anyone doing any magic there wouldn't be highly tainted." Sam suddenly grabbed his head and went to his knees. "Oh, god, it's Rosenburg," he muttered, trying not to puke.

Cam helped them as best he could.

"Thanks to that demon that got involved with us, Sammy here has visions now," Dean said dryly. "We have got to kill that fucker soon."

Sam blinked at them, staring hard. "Rosenburg just lost it. That was real time, guys." They all moaned as the power started to build around them. "Oh, please, let someone go stop her," he prayed. They all felt it when someone did answer that prayer. It was their prince and they felt each time she belted him with magic. It was like it was ripping into their souls. He wasn't dead, but he wasn't in great shape either.

Dean called that bar. "Willie, Dean Winchester. My brother just had a vision of Rosenburg pulling a 'no one will live' thing. Who stopped her?" He listened. "You're sure?" He gave him a report. " Shit, dude, thanks. Do you guys need help? We're only in Colorado." He nodded. "Good deal. Thank you." He hung up. "Harris stopped her."

"He's our prince then," John murmured, helping calm Sam down. "We have to tell him."

"We can't officially note him without that magic around him going down," Dean countered. "Which I'm thinking was Rosenburg's thing." He got Sam sitting and looked at his father.

"She lost her soulmate, was pulling up a temple to an ancient goddess to destroy everyone so they'd know her grief. She's a black magic addict and we didn't even feel it."

"Then we've got to get him out of there," John said.

"He won't believe us without proof," Sam said, looking at him. "I got that later on. He'll turn away from us and go do something truly stupid and die." They all shuddered. "For right now, we have to get that magic taint off him but that would mean a lot of time off the hellmouth." He looked at Cam. "You're our head."

"Let me get in touch with the Big Brained One I kinda work with, see if he has any idea. For right now, go watch."

"I have to get that one that killed my human wife," John told him. "It's bad and it's killed a lot of others."

"Go," Cam ordered. John nodded and headed off. "Boys, can you lurk conveniently up the coast?"

"Not that close. There's a few who want our asses now, like the FBI," Dean said dryly.

"Shit," he said, staring at them.

"Hunting isn't cheap," Sam quipped.

"No, I guess it's not. Okay, you guys do whatever you can. I'll alert the others we have a probable match and it's a problem by every definition." They nodded and Cam left to go back to the Mountain. He called the general since the new General had taken over, thankfully. O'Neill was crap at paperwork stuff. He was a field general, not an office general. "Sir, found him." He listened to the smug tones. "The Winchesters found him and just now, that shock? Was him stopping a problem." He listened.

"Yes it was." He read off the social security number. Then he listened to him swear. "We spotted him before? Ah! Someone saw him dancing. Got it. Well, what do you want to do?" He typed in what he had and sent it via email. "I sent you his profile from them." Jack got into it and swore on his end. "Exactly, sir. So they need orders. Because right now we only have issues." He listened to the orders and then Jack told him he'd give more concrete ones tonight. To check with McKay.

"I can, sir." He hung up and got into the connecting mindset. John wasn't going to be happy. "It's bad and good news together," he sent. "We found him and that's both sets." He sent over the full information he had, getting a shudder of horror. "Exactly. Ideas? O'Neill's gathering some. I need some." He broke out of it when the alarm went off. "Oh, not today!" he complained, running off to help stop that issue. Whatever it was this time.

***

John relaxed himself, looking at the demon scientist in his bed. "We found him," he said.

"You don't look happy."

"He's helping a slayer on a hellmouth."

He stared. "Harris?" John nodded, looking amused. "That kid is a screw up of the most epic proportions. Also, they're not going to like the fact he was tainted by mermen DNA or he was possessed by a primal."

"Oh well. They stuck him there." He licked over the small, mushroom-like head on Rodney's stomach. It was an alternate sexual organ and it was very delicate. Even the most firm of licks could induce pain. It also leaked a honey colored and slightly tasting sap that was like human come. He cleaned up the mess he was making, earning a few shakes and Rodney grabbing him by the hair. "Too much?" he teased, smirking at him.

"Much too much! Join with me!" John took off his own protective barrier and settled on top of him. Their little heads rubbed and it was so good. The way it was meant to be. Their saps were joining and each rub brought exquisite pleasure but also a hint of pain. "More!"

John took the band off his tentacle, turning it back from his human penis disguise. He wiggled it into Rodney's body, which was already prepared for him. Rodney yelped and squealed but it was so good. They rode together and the tentacle got to tease all John wanted. He kissed him, letting his true nature out. Rodney stared and let out his true nature as well. This was dangerous but it was...special and necessary between them. Rodney traced the dark lines on him. Like cat's stripes, they showed up underneath the skin but had been there from birth. It marked his heritage, his family, and who he was. Some said they could read the whorls, spires, dots, and lines like tea leaves but he didn't want to think about that. He and Rodney were good together and Rodney reading them with his fingertips was special enough for him. John finally shot off and Rodney moaned, doing the same. "Oh, God," he moaned, moving down to clean him up. They had gotten messy with their sap. His tentacle was long enough to still be inside his lover's body.

"This could be a problem," Rodney whispered.

"I can be a guard, Rodney, not part of his harem," he soothed. "We don't know that the prince will want us as his harem. So you're mine. Even if I do go, you're coming with me." Rodney smiled at that, tracing a few more lines. John cleaned him up and sat up, staring at him. "You never taste me."

"You never let me." John shifted, having to pull out of him, earning a hiss. "That is not the normal tentacle," he teased. He licked the messy areas, moaning at the flavor. Then the insides before finally going over the head. He sucked around it, it was too big to fit into his mouth all at once. John shivered and shook, clutching the bed to keep him from shouting, screaming, or lunging up at his mate. "Rodney."

"Hush." He got finished and stared at him. "Fully clean."

"I didn't need it that clean." He took a kiss. "I don't mind carrying some of your sap and scent around. Even if Ronon can smell it sometimes." He took another kiss. "Merge with me?" he asked quietly.

Rodney stared at him. "That's dangerous if we split."

"We could die tomorrow. Hell, we could die while doing this."

"True." He sighed and let out his own tentacle, smiling at the responsive wiggle John's gave when he saw it. "You're sure?"

"It'll be like we're engaged," John said with a smirk and a wink.

"No, if I do this, we're more than engaged." He stared at him. "Remember, we are addictive."

"Yes you are and that's just from watching you berate your people." He took another kiss. "We'll be whatever we are and whatever we decide."

"We'll be bound, John. For good."

John moved down to tease and play with the tentacle. He couldn't do more than suck the head in because it was so long. His peoples' heads were tiny, just barely a rounded end at the end of his tentacle. Rodney's people were built closer to the human style but they had an elongated head. Rodney gasped, flopping down to let him do whatever he wanted. John pulled back to look at him. "I know." He got back to work and it was wonderful. Both tentacles were active, wiggly, wet, and wanting buried inside of their mates. Thankfully they could grant that wish very easily.

***
Chapter 4 by voracity
Xander walked into the Magic Box the next night, looking exhausted. The girls all stared at him. "Some funny dreams. Nothing major."

"Is it like the ones I had to block off before?" Willow asked. She strengthened her shield over his mind. He relaxed and she silently cursed whatever had caused those. Nothing like that should be going after her friend. He needed to be protected from all that stuff. No matter who might say what, she knew she was right. Look how much happier he was and now he could sleep. As long as Anya held off for a bit. She had a spell for that too. Xander needed his sleep or else he might get hurt.

***

Dean slammed his fist into the steering wheel. "The damn link was cut," he growled.

"I felt," Sam said, considering it. "Could it be the hellmouth acting up or is it a witch? Might he be having someone block him from us on purpose?"

"He clearly has no idea about us, dude. That means we'd just be like odd dreams to him."

"Which can be disquieting," Sam pointed out gently. "We hate nightmares for the same reason."

"Maybe." Dean pulled into a diner and got out to get lunch. Sam joined him. This sucked and they'd have to find some other way to tell him before he died. Then they'd all be in hell with him.

***

It was nearly a year later when Cam woke up in a cold sweat, panting and holding his face. "Oh, god, no," he muttered, getting up and calling. "General, Cam. What happened?" He listened to the report that it was an injury, not a fatality. Jack had been through the last death and it wasn't the same. "Can't we rescue him?" he demanded. No, because Sunnydale was off limits for all military personnel thanks to some crackpots they had out there a few years back. "Even as civies?" he asked. "Dean and Sam?" He groaned. "Damn it!" He held his eye again. "No, it's clearly an injury to his eye. I know he has to be healthy but we can't make sure of it there, can we?" He got told to calm down and think. They'd handle it somehow. Cam took some advil for his new headache and settled in to calm himself and talk to the others in his search team. Something had to be done. Soon.

***

Tony sent out a silent shove to all the members of the team that were on earth. Sunnydale had fallen. He was watching it with Abby in the lab. Gibbs stomped in. "Boss, this whole town just sank," he said quietly.

"Busses," Abby said, starting to bounce. "There's busses so there's survivors." They watched as busses pulled up and people got out to mill around at the line the police had formed. They had no idea why they were forming one and aid stations. He had no idea how anyone had known. A last few busses pulled up and he saw a blonde girl he had been briefed about. He nearly fell over in relief when he saw the dark hair of his prince. Though, the eye patch wasn't a good sign. He sent that around and they all groaned. That might count as being unhealthy. Which meant they were all screwed. He watched, the people got sorted out by the Feds on site. Cam was closest physically but he was also off-planet. Dean and Sam were wrapped up in the demon that was trying to destroy them, especially Sam. He was free though. "Boss, permission?" he asked quietly.

"Denied. They won't be settled anywhere and it'll be a hunt," he said, patting Abby on the back. "How bad is the destruction?"

"They pulled all helicopters from the air in the last hour," she said, getting into the former film. "Look, Gibbs, it's pulling the ground in."

He stared. "Go left." She did. "That's a huge sink hole or something."

Tony knew that wasn't. The only way a hole like that was open there was probably magic. Bad, evil magic. "Call Dean, see if he can get us any answers."

"I did. He's wrapped up in that thing that wants Sam."

"Shit." He watched the film. They had a helicopter in the air and the devastation was horrifying. The town had been pulled in and eaten. Only a few buildings remained and those had been farther out by the pictures. She gasped and went over the feed more slowly. That was horrifying. It was literally a graveyard now. Gibbs shuddered and she leaned against his arm. "Tony?" he asked quietly.

"Shielded, still," he complained, considering it. "That damn redhead," he decided.

"Probably," Gibbs agreed. "We'll figure it out. You know we will." Tony nodded and they watched for now. Their heir was found, kinda. He got in touch with their Higher and she was pleased but very upset about that shield and his eye. She had an idea though. Surely the new slayer army would need a roaming hunter? That would let her people casually run into him.

***

Xander stared at the shaman across the fire from him. "What do you mean things hide me?" he asked quietly.

"Things hide your true nature, young pup." He smiled a mostly toothless smile. "There are ways around that."

"What if my true nature isn't one I can stand and that's why it was hidden?"

"Then you delude yourself and need to get beaten over the head by a hyena," he said bluntly, staring at the young thing. "Come, we will fix that." The boy nodded, following him into the hut he used. He sat him down and started a smaller fire in there. He looked him over, nodding at his shirt. "Take it off. The pants too. There's probably going to be some shocks."

"Am I going to grow into a huge monster?" he asked, looking upset at that thought.

"No, I know what you are. We have seen many of you." He patted him. "It is how you were born, young one. Also, we must talk about that which hides you. She is not supposed to do that."

"Willow," he said. The shaman nodded. "Crap."

"Yes she is at it. It has left you vulnerable for years now." He made him some tea that tended to weaken magic, both in and on subjects. The boy drank it and it calmed him down. He sat in front of him, nodding at something. "Run your fingers there." Xander did, running into a bump he hadn't seen before. "Some of the magic on you is very ancient. Revenge motivated. We will find out why."

Xander nodded, looking down. "Thank you for this." He released the small barbell earring looking thing. Suddenly his skin had lines. Pretty, swirling, a few dots, but underneath his skin. "I've never seen this pattern in nature."

"Not all natural creatures come from Africa." He nodded. "You have two others. One is in your hair, under the back on top of your neck. The other is around your manhood."

Xander looked down, seeing the faint shine of the ring. It was clearly hidden. He felt around it, blushing some, but undid it. What he saw shocked the hell out of him. "I'm a demon!" he hissed, staring at him.

"From a long line of noble protectors," he said. "That's what those lines mean. They are your family, history, and destiny all in one." He traced over a section. "This part marks that you were cursed by a relative. To get you out of his way." He stared at the single eye. "If he succeeds, the whispers of the wind say no one will succeed in having a destiny."

"Because the future will be ripped or because there won't be any people?" he asked.

"Both. Even the one that played with you that one night is scared of what he would do." He smiled. "You can keep that ring on until you're more used to it. We have to get rid of the one under your hair however. It is blocking memories you may need."

Xander drank more of the tea and clipped the ring back on. He had his penis back again. "That's an interesting trick." He turned, bowing his head. The shaman found it and cut it out with a bone and raw metal knife, making the young one hiss. "There, it is done," he offered. He handed it over. The boy opened it and suddenly he knew. He stared at him. "I can't do that."

"You have done more than that already. All that means is taking a step. A single step."

"I'm not what they need."

"You are. Even if you aren't, you are. They hold great hopes of it being you." He stared at him. "Tomorrow you can travel to a local higher beast who can tell you more. I will watch the young one while you're gone."

Xander bowed his head. "She'll hate me."

"She thinks of you like those cookies the missionaries bring if you listen to them babble," he countered with an evil smirk. "She could tell all along. So could your original slayer friend." He patted him on the head. "Then you shall train."

"I need to train then go see him."

"If you die, then you'll curse us all to your relative, Xander."

Xander slumped, looking at his lap. "Do you think Anya knew?"

"I don't know." He patted him on the head. "Finish the tea. Let us work on freeing you from the evil influences of those who would harm you to keep you little and protected." Xander grimaced but finished his tea. The shaman got him more while he set up a safe place for him to rest in. He knew the dreams would come. They had to come. They had waited much too long.

***

Cam and John found themselves on the dream plane, finally. They walked up to where the young one was sitting and thinking bad thoughts. They could see them going around in his head. "The tentacle isn't so bad," John said, sitting on one side of him. "Really, guys love it because it gets deeper and it's a bit slick so they don't need as much preparation."

Cam sat on his other side. "Tattoos are hip now so you don't have to worry about those either."

Xander looked at them. He could tell they were like him. "The welcoming committee?" he guessed, sounding sarcastic.

"Each time you got reborn, guards were sent out to search for you. Hoping that we could bring you back," John said, patting him on the back extra hard. "Last go-round you nearly got it. But your brother killed you."

"The curse said if you weren't freed back to yourself by the end of your third life, we're all screwed," Cam added. "So we're a few of your guards."

"Then why haven't I seen you two before?" He hopped up to stare at them. "Why now?"

"Because before there was interference from that damnable hellmouth and a witch," Cam said bluntly. "Also, John and I decided to take on the duty to save everyone, including you, because there's bad things coming from the rest of the universe. You may not fully appreciate it but it needed to be done and we are both very strong warriors."

Xander stared at them. "I'm not ready yet."

"What will it take to make you feel ready?" John asked. "Because you're in the most dangerous place, Xander. You can die from an infected cut, an animal, an attack, anything like that. Then we're all fucked with something a lot bigger than a tentacle."

Xander blushed. "I don't want to think about tentacles. God, the girls are never going to let this happen. They're going to kill me."

"Buffy's instinctively felt this for years," Cam told him. "That witch of yours did it to keep you as her friend like you were when you were younger."

"I know. She has pretty bad mommy syndrome sometimes." He stared at his chest then at theirs. They took off their shirts and showed off their markings. "They're similar."

"Some," John agreed, pulling him down so he could look them over. "What do you need to feel ready?"

"I'm not a great warrior. I have no idea how to lead things."

John smiled. "You were a very good warrior, one who protected others for years, before the curse. That just needs retrained."

"I trip and fall into graves!"

"Xander, this isn't the hellmouth and you can work on that later," Cam pointed out.

"But...."

John kissed him. "There will be a combat test if I can see what your brother is thinking. Especially with your eye. You're right, you need to be able to compensate for it, but if you accept your destiny it will be easier on you."

"Like in Mortal Kombat?" he joked weakly. "And what's with the kissing?"

"It is expected that you'll bring those that you want more than as guards as your harem," Cam said. "Your guards would be among the first you look over. Though, do I see a bonding mark, John?"

"Um, one of the Big Brained Ones and I have joined but he knows this is my duty and said if I got chosen, he would come. He could do great things helping." He smiled at Xander. "He has agreed."

"That sucks for you two."

"No, a harem is often a collection of sub families attached to yours." He stroked his cheek. "Just accept it and it will become easier. You have guards to protect you."

"I have slayers to train," he countered.

"You'll have a shitload of slayers to train," John agreed. "But if you get your training then they'll be better slayers."

"How am I supposed to learn these things? Giles wouldn't even teach me how to use a sword. I had to learn on my own."

Cam grimaced. "We do have allies over there but not all of them are of the same thought process. Some of them would think that you needed prepared more for the ascension or the bonding than you would the tests." He stole him, staring at him. "Your eye will not matter. You can learn how to compensate, but you have to accept it. Soon. Before he kills people you like or you."

Xander hung his head. "How do I do that?"

"Tell us yes," John said simply.

Xander thought, really thought, his chest aching. This was worse than Buffy's duty. Being the only one who could save all of humanity sucked. "Yes." They smiled and both kissed him. A flash of light happened and he looked down. His markings had changed, become deeper mostly. A few new spots had been added. He didn't feel any differently though. Cam and John got up, helping him with his fighting. The boy had to be ready. His brother was an ass who would attack any day now and take out any humans around him.

***

Xander woke up, looking at the shaman. "How do I hide this from others? She'll be freaked out."

"She knew. She came in earlier to check on you. She still thinks of you like those chocolate cookies. She thinks the artwork is very pretty on you."

"They are very pretty," he admitted, looking down at himself. "But there's still some freaky stuff I'm not going to get used to anytime soon." He stared at the older man. "You have some."

"My grandmother was half." He shrugged and grinned. "There is an ally close by but he will want to work more on your ascension. There are things you must be prepared for."

"Like the harem?" he hissed.

The old man laughed. "That's just fun."

"Only if there's a lot of horny women in skimpy clothes."

He stared at him. "Probably not that many. A harem would be part family and part guardians for you."

Xander stared back. "I have no idea what to do with another guy. Especially not one with freaky stuff like that," he said, pointing at his lap.

"Hmm. That can be learned. He may try to teach you that as well." He stood up. "Come, get breakfast, and then you can travel. It's about a day from here."

Xander came out to get some oatmeal. He had brought it with him and the village loved to make it. It was hearty and different than what they usually had. Then Xander cleaned up and got redressed, heading for the hidden cave his shaman had told him to find. He stared at his slayer when she came partway with him. "I want you to be safe. Do not take on anything that could harm you until you're trained well enough to handle it."

"I know. Nothing twice my size, nothing with more tentacles than I have arms, and nothing too evil until you've taught me how to kill them." She smiled. "So, tentacles?"

"No damn clue," he admitted, cracking her up. "Never saw it before last night. Still a bit freaked out."

She gave him a hug. "You'll do fine. It will be good and you'll find many who would like that." She smiled and ran back to the village. She had chores to do.

Xander kept hiking, trying to think positive thoughts. He spotted the cave long before he got there. "Why can't I teleport?" he muttered. "And hey, not the cave from Tomb Raider." He shifted his pack and got a drink, but kept going. This may suck but apparently he had to so whatever his brother was wouldn't destroy everyone. He walked into the cave, staring around. He whistled. Cobwebs. Giant spider demon? A large, furry thing came out and he stared. "We never saw one of you in Sunnydale," he said. "How do I address you?"

"Joaw is fine, Great One."

"Right now, I'm just Xander."

He stared at him. "Being human has changed you."

"Hunting with a slayer on the hellmouth changed me." The demon stared then nodded. "I'm told you have things I need to know about this situation."

"I do. Many things." He led him back to his living quarters. "We must teach you how to act graceful when the change happens."

"Am I going to turn into a giant demon worm?" he asked. The demon gave him a funny look. "The only ascension I know was Richard Wilkins' and we had to stop him."

"Not that sort of ascension," he assured him, making the boy relax. "There is still much magic around you."

"Hellmouth, Willow, Tara, or Dawn? Tara and Dawn's can stay because they'd only be protective and harmless."

The demon stared. "A few by those. They glowed slightly when mentioned." He patted another area on the boy's head. "This whole area is infected by black magic however."

"That was probably Willow during her bad phase. Can we remove them without hurting the other two's? That is the last we have of Tara."

The demon nodded. "Perhaps." He went to get some things, bringing them back. "What do you know of fighting?"

"What seven years of fighting beside a slayer, the memories of a soldier that I got given, and what my guards taught me last night."

The demon stared at him. "That may be a good place to start. Your brother will challenge you to combat. Perhaps we should look at regrowing the eye."

Xander felt a twinge in it. "No. It won't help."

"You're scared of that sort of magic?" he snorted.

"No, I mean when it popped it opened a latent seer's gift," he said quietly. The demon stared in awe. "Even regrowing it won't help that stop. No matter what I see."

He bowed slightly. "Of course. You know best. He can complain."

"Not like losing an eye is a cold. It doesn't make me sick, make me take medicine, or anything like that. It's a physical deformity, like having an extra part would be."

"Well stated," he agreed. He handed him the juice. "Drink. It will help us loosen that black magic but not the rest." Xander nodded and drank. Again, it relaxed him. "What do you know of your harem?"

"What I've seen on tv, sex movies, and stories?"

"Not quite. He will make you prove that you can use your tentacle."

"I'm still getting freaked out by it."

"Really?" He shrugged. "It will make you happy. So will the spot on your stomach."

"What spot on my stomach?" He looked down, raising his shirt. "I don't see a spot on my stomach. Well, I see a spot where the marks don't go." He poked it and felt something different this time. "What is that?"

"That is the covering to protect it. It is a very fragile system." He leaned over to try to peel up an edge but it would not budge. "We will have to soak it off then we will teach you to care for it."

"There's special care instructions?" Xander asked.

"Some who have been hit there without the protective covering have died of shock to their body."

"So, like my balls only more sensitive. Got it."

"Much," he warned. He laid a hand over it and pushed gently, making the boy gag. "As you now see. There is a spell over it but it is negated because you're trying to remove the cover."

"Why is it stuck?"

"Because that system exudes a sap like women exude scent and fluid."

"So it's like female juices? Does that make me a woman?"

"All of your kind have them. Breeders have a flap on their back for the pups to come out of." Xander patted his back and sighed in relief. "No, one such as you could not be a breeder." He smirked. "Come, we will soak that off. You can examine that later in a mirror and see what the fluid feels and tastes like if you want. Then you can also get used to your tentacle." He walked the boy to a hot spring and had him strip to get into it. The boy hissed but looked happy. "There, soak for a bit. That will loosen the sap." He walked off to get that glass of juice and then what he needed to remove all that magic from him.

Xander stared back at him. "Not Tara's and not Dawn's," he reminded him.

"You read minds?"

Xander smirked. "I have had half the demons in Sunnydale try for me at one point or another," he said bluntly. "I'm very good at reading body language."

"Interesting. It might get tangled up."

"So we'll move it, not remove it." The demon sighed but nodded. He realized the boy had done so and not realized it. He was definitely going to need some tutors to break the illusions that his bad witch role model had given him.

***

Xander stared at the new opening on his stomach. It was a slit, like an eye slit, but it opened more when he was happy. Behind the flat head that looked and felt spongy was a dark area. "What's that part?"

"The part where the sap is generated. If you had offspring creation roles, it would have more things like egg storage."

"That's good it's blank." He touched it again, wincing at that. He eased it and felt around the edges and the bottom 'stem' for lack of a better word. He felt something sticky and pulled his fingers out to look at it. "It looks like honey."

"It's slightly sweet. Many find it more tasty than that of human output." Xander stared at him. "Yes, your tentacle will spurt some. If you noticed you only put out a little bit before, that is why."

"Okay, good to know why Anya complained about that."

"Anya?" the demon asked.

"My former fiancee who I stood up at the altar and then we were almost getting back together when she died in the battle," he said quietly.

"Anyanka?" he asked. Xander nodded. The demon stared. "First you hunt with a slayer, then you date vengeance demons, mean ones at that. You really truly are either very brave or that curse did bad things to your mind." He walked off shaking his head. "We should go over how to care and play with tentacle, young one."

"Why? I know not to play too hard with mine."

He looked back and sighed. "Your people do not rightly care and there really is only one gender. Well, and a breeder subset I suppose." Xander grimaced. "They all have tentacles, just some have breasts as well. We can fix that for you."

"No thank you. I think I'll learn that when it's time and I'm comfy in a bed with someone."

"You'll have to be mated before or during your ascension."

Xander grimaced. "How would I know anyone who's not going to screw me up?"

"That is why you have guards and guardians."

"I met two. One's bonded to some big brain species?"

"They're nearly mythical. Which guard?"

"He said to call him John. He was military."

He stared at him. "That does figure with what that one gets into," he said as he walked off shaking his head. "It would also explain the loud one with him." He shook his head faster. The boy's people might find that amusing and a good omen. He wanted a drink to take that image out of his head.

Xander went back to examining his belly flap. He wasn't sure what to call it and he thought it was really weird. "Why do we have these instead of everything going through the tentacle?" he muttered. He had no idea and he doubted there was a health class book around to explain it to him.

***

Cam shot the demon from behind. "Are you two fucking stupid!" he shouted. "Endangering yourself this way!"

"He was going to start an apocalypse!" Dean shouted back "Using Sammy! That's why he tried to taint him. Why he killed the human mother, ended up possessing John to get us, all that!"

Cam sighed. "Fine. Sam, are you all right? We all felt you die."

He shook his head. "No, I'm not. Especially not with the deal Dean made."

"Hello, he won't be here in a year if we're lucky," Cam said sarcastically. "Plus, they can't exactly claim our souls, Sam."

"We think one of the even higher demons is behind that," Dean said quietly. "She sounded pretty hot to get me."

Cam stared at him. "Don't make me shoot your ass too, Dean." He slumped, nodding, hanging his head. "Now, let's go!" They trooped back to the cars. "Xander's in Africa." They groaned. "He's been taken in by an ally of ours. One who's more focused on teaching him what's going to happen. Apparently he's been making passes at him by showing him his stomach entrance and all that." Dean shivered. "He was a bit disgusted but he knows it's better that he's not a breeder." Sam blushed. "I don't care," he said firmly. "Do your duty."

"What about yours and John's?" Dean demanded.

"Hello! We've got enemies that are going to destroy everyone! Even if he does go up, we're still fucked if we can't fight them! Unless you want to deal with them for us? Or watch him do it?"

"Can he?" Sam asked.

"Probably not for years. Otherwise I'd beg. John's the same way. We've both been helping him at night."

"We haven't been sleeping much," Sam admitted, rubbing his face with his hand. He hauled off and punched Dean. "For that fucking deal!"

"I don't care, stop it!" another male voice ordered.

"Thank you for having some common sense," Cam said, glaring at the boys. "You have a duty already."

"They...."

"Slayers," he said bluntly. "There's dozens in Cleveland." They both stared at him in awe. "Yeah, that's what happened when Rosenburg 'helped'. So yeah, get a few. Train them." He shrugged. "Get on with it. We have four months. He's never been trained beyond what we're doing and learning from jumping in." The other guy gave him an odd look. "Doesn't concern you, sorry." He glared at them.

"We'll do what we can," Sam offered. "If this is a higher thing...."

"Slayers," Cam repeated. "There's dozens in Cleveland. That's kinda *their* job, right?"

"Good point," Dean agreed. "What's the time difference?"

"A shitload. He's just now in bed."

"Let's hit the motel and relax, then we'll take stock and move on," the other guy ordered. "Nice tattoos. How did they do those so deeply?"

Cam smiled. "It's tribal." He looked at the boys. "Yeah?" They nodded. "Thank you." He walked off and disappeared. Sometimes he hated being in charge. John should be in charge, if he wasn't in another galaxy. They really had to fix that problem and kill all the wraith. Quickly.

"Who was he?" the older guy asked the brothers.

"Family friend," Dean said dryly. "From way, way, way back when. Back when Dad was still a kid." The other guy gave him an odd look. "Yeah, he knows. We've been helping another hunter who's having issues."

"In Africa?"

"He worked with the slayer out in California," Sam told him. "He's on training down there and he's grieving, a lot of stuff."

"I'm hoping he didn't mean the kid's been taken by a military ally," Dean said, thinking about that. "That might suck."

"Probably didn't work that way," Sam pointed out. "He's in a relatively safe area, kinda." He shrugged. "I don't know. We can check on him." They nodded and went to their cars, heading for the motel. They ached. Dean and Sam had to have a real fight that came with at least black eyes. Their family friend needed to defrag, grieve for his hunting companion, and hopefully keep them sane for a bit longer. This was going to be bad.

***

Xander woke up in an awkward position. His legs were up and his ankles were tied. There were some soft ropes going up his legs to hold them in place. His back was barely supported. He recognized the device. Anya's porn tapes often had one in them. He grimaced. "This is not how I wanted to wake up," he said sarcastically. "Maybe a cup of coffee, a good morning..."

"Your brother is going to try to claim the tests sooner," the demon said.

"Then I need more time training, not to be in a sex sling."

He walked closer. "All of your people are the same gender," he pointed out. "They all have tentacles and you have to be one of your people." Xander blushed. "So yes, you have to learn. It won't hurt you. They're fairly thin but this will get you used to it."

"If it's my harem, why am I taking it?"

"To fully bond, you do each other at the same time," he said dryly. "Tentacles are that way, boy." He started the swing going. It had guide lines to keep it in position where he wanted it. The boy gently swung, getting him used to it. He had taken off that silly ring as well. The boy had to get used to having a tentacle instead of the inferior human penis. He smiled at the yelp and shaking the boy had when the swing pushed him onto the first, smallest outcropping he had created. It was special wood. Very soft, well sanded, built the same way they were. Blunt, rounded head instead of the human version. The boy was stiff and not liking it but he would learn to like it. "You must appear comfortable with it. It's this or bringing you someone to play with you."

"I don't like this," he noted. "This is not fun." He got pushed back onto it again and growled. The straps held. The demon stared. This might be a good thing. The primal spirit had to be purged before someone noted it.

Tony appeared. "Uh-uh. No." He got the swing stopped. "This is not allowed." He stared down their ally. "Thank you for your help but he's ours now." He took the boy with him, back to the camp. He set him in the same soaking pool while the demon pouted. "Are you all right? Sore? Feel like there's bleeding?" he asked quietly.

"No, I'm a bit shaken but nothing else," he said quietly.

"Good." He stroked over his hair. "He has the right idea, you do need to seem more comfortable with it, but the wrong method, my prince. I know you're not comfortable with yours yet. Once you are, the rest will come. Because we all know that you may have lost some memories from the curse that made you human." The boy leaned into his petting. He smiled. "I'm Tony, one of your guards."

"I've met John and Cam."

"They're the leaders of our search team but what they do is too important for everyone, including you. They decided they could be punished if necessary, they had to do it." He petted him again. "You've met two others. Sam and Dean?" Xander stared at him. "It was a legitimate hunt," he said quietly. "But they were still searching for you. You'll be seeing them soon enough the same way you see Cam and John."

"Do I have more than them?"

"There are a few others down here. Not specifically on the search team but a few who have helped the team in the past. A few others who have migrated to get away from your brother." He gave him a smile. "We'll handle it, my prince."

"I'm not real comfortable with that name," he said quietly. "The other guys call me by name."

"We're still respectful because we don't know who you'll pick as your harem."

"That's another uncomfy subject," he said with a grimace.

Tony smiled. "There's a better way to explore that subject than that way. Especially not to wake up to it."

"I'm still not real comfy with looking down and finding something other than my dick that I've known forever there."

Tony grinned. "You should learn it like you did the illusion. It's the same organ, only now it's longer." He stood up. "After this, we're bringing you to an ally that has more training that you'll need sooner."

"Fighting?"

"You know all that. You only have to be reminded." He smirked. "You always were hell on everyone's nerves by running around everywhere with your sword once you got it."

"I was?"

"Yeah, you were." He helped him out and grabbed his stuff. "All of it?"

"Not quite." He got a few things from the other room, including his journal. He grimaced. "Thank you for your hospitality." He left with Tony. Anything left behind would come back because of Willow's spell. Tony took him to that master, who stared at him. He was a fairly scary looking demon, but Xander had seen others of his species petting and saving kittens from the poker circuit. He nodded politely and greeted him in his own language. "That's about all I can say but I do learn those things."

The master smirked. "You knew one of us?"

"Yorin. We met him many times when he was rescuing cats from the kitten poker circuit."

"I have seen that annoying habit of his many times," he admitted, smirking some. "It did overload his temple with many too many cats over the years." He looked the boy over. "That eye is damaged?"

"Caleb popped it."

He stared. "Caleb, minion of the First?"

Xander nodded. "That's what happened to Sunnydale."

"You were there?"

"I'm Buffy's Xander."

"Oh." He stared at Tony. "You bring me interesting challenges."

"His memories might not fully be back yet. He doesn't remember his sword."

"Interesting. How many spells are on him?"

"I want to leave the ones from Tara and Dawn. Tara's a much missed member of the group and Dawn's like my sibling. They're both nothing but protective."

"They flashed when you mentioned them. That doesn't count all the hellmouth taint you carry, the black magic that's clouding you, or the other magics."

"Which would be from Willow, and are welcome to be removed," Tony told him. He looked at him. "We felt her hit you when she went psycho," he said quietly. Xander sighed and took off his shirt. Both of them stared at his side and stomach. His markings were warped around a few areas. "How did you not pass out when that hit your core?" Tony asked.

"We had to soak that covering thingy off it," Xander said.

"Yeah, I can tell. You need a new one." He moved closer to look at one. "Do you have any feeling there?"

"Yeah." He moved back some. "I always have."

"We're worried about the magic poisoning you," the other demon told him.

Xander shrugged. "As opposed to the hellmouth?"

"That may have saved you," Tony said. He patted him on the shoulder. "Master Orat?"

"I can work with what he has."

"John and Cam have been giving me some training."

"Good! Because I'm not sure how you managed to hunt with that much magically induced damage. It should have made it nearly impossible for you to do anything."

Xander shrugged. "I was born there."

"Wonderful. We can start there. It should help a lot of things." He led them back to the interior. "Are you all right? You're walking oddly."

"The last one was concerned that he might not enjoy his bonding night," Tony said grimly. "He woke up to some toys."

"Hmm, stupid of him." He got the boy settled in the natural steam chamber with the proper herbs. "Think about them and their spells. It will stay." Xander nodded, stripping down to sit and inhale the mystical smoke. "He is used to witches."

"Rosenburg."

Master Orat just nodded and walked off. That was a subject many had sworn about and he could not add anything new so he wouldn't swear about it.

***

Xander walked into the cavern. He already didn't like this test. His brother was an asshole.

A man in a robe came out. "You're injured."

"A missing eye doesn't hinder my skills. It's not something that's going to cloud my mind, make me take further treatments, or anything like that. It's not a cold."

"Perhaps," he said. "But our leader must be fit."

Xander stared at him. "Just because I'm a bit blind on one side doesn't mean I don't *see*." The man gasped. "By the way, the one sneaking up on that side, just don't. I'm without chocolate again today. I'd be really mean." That one pounced and pity for him. Xander broke both his legs and stared down at him. "I warned you." He sighed and healed him. "You're not an enemy as far as I know." He looked at the hooded one. "I also healed the drugs you gave him."

The other demon stared at him. "You are nicer now than you used to be."

"Humanity and all that," he quipped, waving a hand. "Growing up surrounded by girls."

"I can see how that would be warping, yes." He walked him on. "I am to guide you to your combat test."

Xander nodded. "Of course you are. I expected that." He looked at him. "I'm still not pleased with this brother of mine."

"You'll face him eventually." He looked him over. "You may have no hidden areas on you."

Xander looked down then at him. "What hidden areas?" The demon pointed. "I'm told that's not a hidden area, it's protective. Beyond that, Rosenburg hit me with magic there during her fit." The demons all gasped and backed away. "I'm still living and it's staying. If he doesn't like it, he can come blow me. Not like I've had any good women recently." They all backed up a few steps. Xander looked at the huge demons waiting on him. "Hey, guys. Don't you still owe about four cats?" They merged back into one demon and bowed, lumbering out complaining. "Pay the mini slayers. They'll like that and it'll drive Buffy nuts." He looked around then at the watching ones. "You said a fight?"

The demon blinked then stared at him. "You are not what we expected."

Xander smirked. "I never am." He put his sword on his shoulder. "So?"

The demons all bowed to him. The one leading him swallowed. "We would have you looked over by our physician."

"I could probably use one. I haven't had one since before Willow went over the deep end of the dark pool. They removed all the magic from me finally though."

The robed one nodded quickly. "I will gather her. And your guards that are physically present. Some are off doing...things."

"Protecting everyone, including our people, from higher threats. Yes, that's something I appreciate," he said bluntly. "It's something I would do." They all nodded at that, looking away. "Not like I haven't been while helping a slayer." That got a low moan from a few of them. He smirked. "Yes, I'm *that* Xander. Hi. Do you owe me kittens too?" They all stomped off. Xander went back to his waiting. Soon a short, redheaded woman came out. He stared at her. "You don't use magic, right?"

"No, I'm nothing like her and she gave redheads everywhere a bad name when she lost it."

"She's better."

"She'd better be. People want her to pay for that to this day." She moved closer. "I'm Doctor Frasier, Mr. Harris."

"Nice to meet you, Doc." He shook her hand.

"I work with Cam and John's project."

"Wonderful." He grinned. "It's been a while."

"I understand why." She led him to a side room. The one in the robe followed. "That way the others can make sure I don't do anything strange to help you. I'm supposed to be neutral."

"That's fine. I bared it at least once in my life for someone." She smirked at that. "So... blood work too?" he asked with a wince.

She laughed. "Even the toughest of tough guys hate needles." She pulled things out of her bag to look them over. She started with one. "Not all the magic is gone."

"Those were protections against dream demons and those sorts done by people who I miss and one who was a sibling. I'm not giving them up," he said bluntly.

She stared at him. "They can challenge that."

He shrugged. "That's nice. If they want them gone that much they can bring her back so she can put them back on later on." She smirked and got back to it. She frowned at one thing. "What?"

"The warping of your lines."

"Willow's thing."

"I heard." She checked, no damage. "The protections on him are harmless and let him be protected from a few dream demons and from the hellmouth's full power if it should open again," she reported.

"They must come off," the robed one said.

"Then I'd be bringing her back to replace them once this shit is done with," Xander said bluntly. "They're not being removed and anyone who tries I'm going to kill."

She stared at him. "He's immortal."

"Everything dies somehow. I'm sure the bits and pieces I'll chop him into won't regrow if I put them in HCL." She gasped. He looked at her. "I'm not the nicest if you screw with me. I never have been."

"Good to know." She finished the rest of her exam. "He's in good health. He could use a better diet. He skipped breakfast, but otherwise I don't see anything wrong with him."

"Master Orat had mice for breakfast. Yeah, I missed those."

She smiled. "I don't blame you." She repacked everything and stared at him. "Cam and John said to show your ass," she said quietly. "They're watching but are at work." She left.

Xander looked at the robed one. "So."

"They must come off."

Xander kicked him into a wall. "Then I'd remake the one that's dead," he said bluntly. "And if you remove the other one, the senior slayer will know and show up to kill you all for me. She'll think it's a threat."

The demon swallowed. "Your brother will not allow it."

"He can go suck on Buffy for all I care," he said bluntly. "She could use a dick and he seems like one."

The robed one moaned, walking out to report that. Xander followed. The doctor had given a report on what they were. Alarms and protections against some dream demons. All harmless, not helping him in any way, and not going to hurt their people. Many of them had such protections. The problem was his brother protesting.

Xander looked at the doctor. "Test him for the same spells," he told her. She gasped then nodded, doing so. He stared at his 'brother'. He was ugly. Really, really ugly. Like his evil was warping his body ugly. Scarred by choice from what he could tell of the marks. All knife marks and most of them looked like he had done them himself. He was runty, about to Xander's shoulders. A bit darker and broodier. If Angel had become a scarred troll under a bridge it'd be that guy.

"He does have the same sort of spells and three others. One to promote his healing ability. I can only say it's because of his habit of self mutilation. One to promote his taste buds since it looks like he burned his mouth on purpose years ago. One to promote a more normal look for him." She put things up and moved back.

"You lie," the brother said, his voice like velvet.

Xander stabbed him. "I doubt that." He kicked him off the end of his sword, making him laugh and gasp as the pain started. "Yeah, like I don't know how to do that from past battles." He stared at him. "Thank you, Doctor. Have a good rest." She nodded and hurried off before he could try to grab her or something. One of the others tried to stop her so he threw a knife, getting him in the eye, making him scream. "I said let her go." Sam came down and escorted her off. "Thank you, Sam." He looked at his brother again. "What? You couldn't wait? You had to jump in early? Sounds like you have premature ejaculation too. Pity for your forced women."

His brother stood up. "You are nothing."

"You know, people have tried to say that for years and look what I became." He waved a hand around. "Seven year veteran of fighting on the hellmouth. Six months here in Africa training the slayers. Not someone you'd expect to be a nothing."

"You're being turned into a watcher."

"Not really. They won't teach me the secret handshake," he quipped with a sneer. "They said they won't until I can stand to drink tea." The other demons moved closer. "Bring it, bitches. I've fought badder than you. Hell, I fought gay strippers worse than you guys." A few attacked and Xander put the new and old skills to use. His brother hung back but he had no idea who or how decent Xander was. Finally all the minions were down and he looked at his brother, flipping open a new vial of holy water to rinse off his blade. He flipped it over to get the other side and looked at him. "Next?"

His brother glared. "You won't win. I'll make sure of it." He pulled up magic. Xander stabbed him in the stomach. "No!" he shouted, holding it. "That's not good combat!"

"There's no such thing as fair combat. Only winning against things that're bitches and trying to hurt others," he said coolly. He kicked him back onto his back. "Have fun with that." He walked over him. "I believe this part is ended," he shouted. "Let's move on." He was let into the next room, which had dinner. He sniffed, looking around. "I need to clean up. I'm sweaty and goo covered. That's probably not polite."

Sam walked in. "Three of the dishes are poisonous," he said bluntly. "It's to prove that you know about our people."

Xander stared at him. "What's poisonous to them isn't poisonous to me, Sam. I ate sushi for years." Sam gaped. "Even after being on the swim team." He picked out all the good stuff and they heard cheering. He looked up. "But I'm still immune to the others thanks to the hellmouth," he called quietly. He picked up something to eat on his way to his room. He liked sushi. Sam gaped in horror. He smirked. "Mermaid taint, Sam."

"Clearly," he said, looking awed.

Xander smirked. "Nice that it covers most of the weaknesses this species has." He finished it before walking into the bedroom. He stared at them all. "Guys, let me shower and then we'll talk? Because I have no idea about the harem stuff."

Tony nodded. "That's fine. The bathroom's that way," he said with a point and a smile. "Though I'll warn you they're probably finding a way to watch."

"Yay." He went that way, going to shower and relax for a bit. His guards would not attack him. He knew that. Cam had sworn a blood oath that they would not attack him. He finally came out and found them all lounging around or talking. John and his friend were talking. Xander sat on the foot of the bed. "What exactly are they looking for here?"

"A stable family to support you," Tony said, moving to sit beside him and rub his back. "We protect you even as you protect and cherish us," he said quietly. Xander looked at him. "I know this is a bit different than a human relationship but it's very comforting in many ways. We keep you safe, we help you with things, and you have us when you need us or want us."

Xander nodded. "So... anyone against this?"

"I'm usually a chick magnet," Dean quipped with a smirk. "Tony too. John and Cam both get more than their fair share too." Xander nodded at that. "But some day you'll want a breeder so you can have a few sons and they can go through this."

"Actually, I only seem to shoot girls from what I've found out." They stared. He smirked back. "Not my fault. Blame the hellmouth."

"Wow," Tony said. "Okay." He shrugged. "It won't matter. There's a few females and you can talk to the Already Ascended about that." He smirked. "So, we should show you what we're good at?"

"No, I want to hear how you guys would integrate yourselves. I figure they wouldn't have picked you if you weren't good and willing." They all smirked and nodded. "So? Tell me about your lives." He scooted back to sit against his headboard and relax. They gathered closer to talk to him and let him get to know them. He saved John for last. When the others went to get dinner for them he looked at them. "You two are kinda in a unique situation," he said.

"It's not unheard of," Rodney said. "It's fairly usual so your politically aligned spouses don't get bored."

"Which I realize the guards would be," Xander assured him. "It's like an arranged marriage." John nodded. "Some of which work. But that should be between both of you if that's what you want. I can't make the decision for your relationship."

John and Rodney looked at each other. "His people are nearly mythical they're so rare, Xander. I like, respect, and learned to love him for who he is."

"That's something you guys will have to tell me," he repeated.

Rodney nodded, bowing to him. "I would be honored to be part of your harem as John's husband."

John poked him on the side. "Pain in the ass."

Xander grinned. "Sure, we can do that then." They both beamed and went to get dinner. "Let me rest, guys. I'm exhausted." They nodded and left him alone to think. This was still weird to him. Especially his tentacle.

***
the rest of it by voracity
Author's Notes:
this story is now LIST ONLY! because i'm so tired and my wrists ache so damn much right now, i'm giving you this now. this is the rest of the story.
Xander looked at the snotty people in the room with him. He was between Tony and Dean this time. "What are they looking at?" he hissed to Tony.

"You to see if you're that different," he said, grinning a bit. "Ignore them."

"I hate being stared at."

"People, he's on a trip to grieve," Dean said firmly. Most everyone quit staring.

"Thank you," Xander said quietly.

"Not a problem." He led him to the high table. "This is the rest of the higher ups," he hissed in his ear.

"Aunt," he said with a nod. "I see you healed him."

"He does have his place," she admitted.

"No he won't." He stared at him. "Because he's killing himself." The demon glared at him. He smirked back. "The mirwood smell." She gasped, looking at him. He looked at the few others at the table, nodding politely since he had no idea who they were. Then at Tony. "Food? Dinner was fairly scanty."

"Snack tray in the rooms," he said with a smile. "Later."

"Sure." He walked off with them, going to join Rodney and John in a corner. "So, this bonding stuff they were all trying to get me to understand," he said quietly. "What the hell?"

John and Rodney both snickered. "It's not bad," John assured him.

"Nigel was trying to get him more accustomed to it and had him in a sling for a few minutes," Tony said extra-quiet.

John moaned, shaking his head. "That idiot. We'll go over the details tonight, Xander." The boy relaxed and beamed, nodding at him. "It's really not bad once you get the hang of it."

"Anya said I was a viking in the sack but this isn't the same." He sat down on a ledge. "I'm still wondering if she knew."

"Not unless she did many telling spells," Rodney said.

"She was a witch but I don't think she could have without Willow smacking her around."

"Hmm," John said. "Let's not mention her name. A lot of people speculate she was working for your brother."

"No, she was grieving for Tara. She lost her better half." John hissed, shaking his head. "She was in horrified shock, guys, not doing it on anyone's say so."

One of the nearby people sneered. "Prove it."

Xander sneered back. "I'm the one who held her through her better half's funeral and stopped her from ending everyone," he shot back. "I've known her for ages. She was in the shock of grief and a magic addiction. He had nothing to do with that unless he made Warren Meers snap and go after Buffy? And miss his shot to hit Tara?" The demon gave him a horrified look and backed away. "You're going to trip over a table. I suggest no one go to bother Willow, Buffy, or any of the other slayers. Because I do protect them since the current ones take out those causing problems and no others." The man turned and ran. "Good. I feel better now." He sipped his water, looking at it. "What is that?"

John tasted it, handing it back. "Vodka."

"Eww." He put it aside. "I don't usually drink."

"It's not safe in your former life," John agreed, smiling slightly. "Though probably healthy once in a while to have a night free of thoughts."

"Maybe but I don't do it often enough to need more than a few beers."

"That's a good thing though," Dean assured him. "Sammy's the same way. " Sam looked over from his talk. "He's another light drinker."

"Sometimes it's better for you," he said, going back to his talk about the demon they had ended with Cam's help. He finally came over to help Xander feel more comfortable. "It's awkward getting attention," he said quietly.

"It is. For years, no one saw who I was. Even the girls sometimes, and then suddenly there's people looking up to me. I'm not sure how to take it."

"We'll be around you, even if we do all have mundane identities," Dean quipped with a grin of his own.

"Yeah, mine's going to be barking soon," Tony complained.

"At least we have O'Neill to cover our rears," John told Cam.

"Thankfully but Landry will never understand."

"No, he's a bit uptight," Jack O'Neill said from behind them. They grinned at him. "Finally," he told Xander. "You had no idea how much stress you caused, kid."

"Not my fault," he said quietly.

"I know. Quit stressing."

"People want to watch us have sex," he hissed.

"Yeah, they will this time," he agreed. But he was smiling. "It'll be fine."

"My only thought of a harem is porn." The guards cracked up. "And I'm not real comfortable with guys yet. Or with not looking like a guy."

Dean bumped shoulders with him. "It's not bad. Really a lot of fun."

"I'm not used to not being *me* there, Dean."

Dean nodded once. "Good point but it's a lot of fun. It'll be fine." He handed him a drink. "That'll help. It's mixed very lightly." Xander nodded, taking a drink. "I agree, we need more food."

"Definitely," Xander agreed. "Food makes the awkward silences better."

Jack glared at the staring people, making them go talk to the others on the other side of the room. Xander grinned at him for that. "They'll quit staring soon, kiddo." He patted him on the arm. "You've got to make some decisions soon though," he added quietly.

"I thought it was made for me," he admitted sheepishly.

"Somewhat. Do any of them not suit you?" Xander shrugged. "Okay, any you hate right off?"

"No."

"Good." He smiled. "It means the ones who picked us for our jobs did a good one."

"I figure it's like an arranged marriage," Xander admitted.

"It is," Jack agreed. "But you do have some choice in the matter. Though, are you all right?"

"I'm supposed to be training slayers and I'm grieving over my former fiancee dying during that battle."

"Crap." He went to talk to the boy's aunt. "He's grieving for a lost former fiancee."

"How close did they come?" she asked. "And who was she?"

Xander walked over when Jack waved. "Yes, ma'am?"

"Who were you engaged to, nephew?"

He swallowed. "Anya."

"Anya...."

"Anyanka," someone supplied, walking up behind him. Sam smiled at Xander. "She had lost her power center for a while."

"I heard that. Then I heard her mate left her at the altar?"

"They showed me how miserable we would be," Xander said quietly.

"Ah." She smiled. "It was said that she lost her powers again when she had too much conscience for the job." Xander nodded. "How did she fall, nephew?"

"During that last battle in Sunnydale. She took a blow for someone else," he said quietly. "Right now I'm supposed to be training the not-found slayers and grieving."

She stared at him. "We would still need you now and then for your duties."

"Of course. I also need to do this. They need to know what I can teach them. They'll die sooner without it."

"Agreed." He smiled. "Will you tell them about this?"

"Can I not tell Buffy? She can be...judgmental at times. I'll never hear the end of the picking on me."

She smirked. "I think we can handle that. The announcements would be made there too." He shuddered. "We'll let you go tell them first. You can be escorted by your guards, Xander." He nodded at that. "I believe a few of them are known to them already." Sam nodded. "Good. Then you two may go with him. We will arrange things so you won't have problems with training the young slayers either. It is a worthy cause. Slayers handle much that could get in our peoples' way." He nodded once. "Good thinking to bring this to me. Would you like to go tonight?"

"Depends, is she in a bad mood?"

"I do not know." She waved one of her guards over. "My nephew needs to tell his friends about this."

"She's in a really cranky mood tonight," he told Xander. "Rosenburg is fuming."

"About this?"

"No one's sure."

"Probably a bad date," Xander muttered. "Pantyhose or jeans? Hair pulled back?"

"Jeans for both, sneakers, hair pulled back."

"Ah, higher demon and a bad date. Probably interrupted the dating. Can I...." He waved a hand. She nodded. "Dean, we've got to tell the girls."

"Coming." He put down his drink and walked off, joining up with Sam. They got a portal made for them and walked through into a not very pleasant scene. "We need shotguns," Dean said, staring at the demon.

"No we don't." Xander walked over there. "Do you mind?" he demanded. The demon stared at him then slowly backed away. "How did you get over here? The last time I knew I shooed you off my present trainee's panties." The demon mumbled something before turning and running.

Buffy stared at him. "How did you do that?" she asked a bit too calmly.

"The last time I ran into him with the junior slayer, I nearly castrated him for trying to grope her while she was unconscious. He's sure I'm going to finish it because I will. I even asked a shaman to make a permanent cockring spell for him."

Buffy blew out a breath. "Okay, that's a good reason for a guy to be scared of you."

"Well, there may be another slighter reason," he admitted. "How much of a bad date was it?"

She snorted. "Am I that readable suddenly?" He looked her outfit over and she huffed. "He turned out to be a zombie maker," she complained. "He was planning how to do one of me and Willow over dinner."

"Eww. Well, I have news you're going to want to hear from me."

She shifted her weight, crossing her arms. "I notice the two hunters behind you. Were you turned? Gathering a troupe?"

"No. I was adopted. Kinda."

Buffy made go-on hand motions. "You're way too nervous for that to be the issue considering how badly Willow hates your parents."

"Apparently I was born a demon but my brother decided to hate me and had me put into a human life. The curse had three go-rounds as a human or else I'd be truly dead. This is the third."

She squinted her eyes, staring at him. "Prove it." Sam removed the blocking thing covering Xander's lines. She stared, blinking a few times. "Whoa. Way tribal."

"We're all born with them, Buffy," Dean admitted. "When the curse hit, his aunt got his guards to find him. Sammy and I are part of the guards in this third-go-round's attempt to find him."

"So that's why you guys showed up?" she guessed.

"No, we really did have the hunt," Sam said with a grin. "Finding him was a secondary objective but at the time Willow had it blocked so we couldn't be sure."

"Okay," she said, staying calm. "What's this going to matter to us, Xander?"

"I'll have to bug out to do some things now and then but my aunt agreed working with the slayers is good for my other people too. We're apparently a peaceful people," he said, looking at Dean.

Dean nodded. "We're one of those very old societies that just is."

"Anything else I should know?"

"Well, apparently I have a tentacle," Xander said. She stared at him. "Yeah, that sort. It's been hidden by magic that's not Willow's. Plus a funky stomach pouchy thing that she nearly killed me hurting on that cliff but they're not sure how I survived it." He lifted his shirt and moved the cover. "See?"

She stared then at him. "Uih-huh. So no stomach blows?"

He re-covered it. "That's what that's there for. To help protect it."

"Good." She nodded, smiling some. "We knew you were strange, Xander."

"One last thing." She sighed and slumped. "Apparently my guards are kinda going to be like an arranged marriage too. Kinda. Something like that," he finished weakly.

She blinked a few times, looking at Sam and Dean. "Aren't you brothers?"

"Yup," Dean agreed with a grin. "But I won't be married to the big dork there. We'll all be married to our leader."

She looked at Xander. "Leader?"

"My aunt."

"Ah." She nodded slowly. "Hold on, you said all of us? He has a harem?"

"Cam, John, me, Dean, Tony, and Don were his guards for this life. Our dad was actually a guard the last life but he's not going to even offer. Jack was too, he's Cam and John's boss. We're not sure about him. They're the last two left of their group."

"It's a totally politically arranged thing," Dean assured her since she was giving them odd looks. "We're his guards and this way he has people he can trust implicitly."

"So, six husbands," she said flatly.

"Well, John kinda has a mate of his own but his race are nearly mythical and we've already talked. They're together and the wedding to me is a formality. Mostly to protect them."

"Ah. So seven husbands," she said, then shuddered. "Way more gay sex than I even want to think about going on, Xander. Eww, gayboy butt sex." She rubbed her forehead.

"With tentacles," Dean added with a grin.

She looked at him. "For that, you get to tell Willow."

"Um... no. We want Dean to still be human," Xander told her.

"Good point. I'll tell her. Wedding?"

"Sometime. They said it's still good that I'm training the minis. That it'll help them and us."

"Wonderful." She nodded quickly. "Tell us what to get you for the wedding and if we can come." He grinned and nodded. "I'll... tell Willow and make her leave you guys alone. How's your girl right now?"

"I'm on break to take my rightful spot and then I'll be going back in a few days. She knows though. Her shaman told me."

"That would probably be why she giggled when we called your satellite phone." Xander nodded. "Okay. Well... bring her where you are? That way she's safer?"

"Of course. I was going to do that or go back to her day after tomorrow, one way or another."

"Even better," she decided with a smile. "Well, I guess it's congratulations and Anya would *so* be having a fit about the gay sex not including her."

"No, he can have women. Some day we'll add one or so to give him heirs," Sam said with a happy grin.

"I don't want to think about Xander babies. Xander babies would be worse at everything that he gets into. Is this why you were a demon magnet?"

"No." Dean grinned. "That was just him being his loveable self. Him being on the hellmouth so it tainted him was part of the curse."

"Oh. Okay." She nodded. "You guys go back to the happy making stuff." She waved a hand. "Willow's due here soon." They nodded and Xander hugged her before going. She sighed, leaning on a tree with her forehead to the bark. "Why him?" she moaned. "He drives me nuts."

Willow appeared in a slight flash of light. "What happened? Was the demon too big? Did you get a concussion, Buffy?" Buffy gave her a dirty look. "Did it offer to marry Xander?"

"No, apparently Xander's getting married because the curse that made him human is now broken so he'll be marrying all his guards in an arranged marriage thingy." Willow burst out laughing. "Not kidding," she said flatly. "Dean and Sam Winchester, those hunters? They're two of his guards." Willow stopped to stare at her. "He has neat tribal tattoo-looking lines all over him. Apparently has a tentacle and a belly pouchy area he said. He showed it to me."

"Huh? Xander?"

"Yeah, apparently his big brother hated him so cursed him to die after three human lives. They've been looking for him." Willow slumped. "So we're going to be marrying him off soon. We can probably go to the wedding. He said he's going to go back to training in a few days or bring the girls to him so they're safer." She shrugged. "So apparently he is Xander, he's just not completely the Xander we thought he was."

"Is that why bad, evil girls like him?"

"No. Dean said that was just him being him."

"Oh." She grimaced. "Eww. Arranged marriages in this day and age?"

"With seven husbands."

Willow stared at her. "Excuse me?"

"His guards. That way he's protected and safe at home. Sam said someday they could add a few breeders for Xander kids too. So we have to figure out what to wear and what to get them."

"Can't we stop this?" she said.

"No."

"Why not? Xander's not like that!"

Xander reappeared with a sigh, Tony and Cam behind him. "Cam, that vamp there is technically a friend," he said with a point. "Spike?" He looked then tipped his head to the side. "Please?" He came over, looking confused. "Can you please tell Willow about my big brother's curse and all that?"

Spike looked him over then at her. He told her exactly what had happened, including stuff Xander didn't know. Then he looked at the whelp. "You are?" Xander nodded, grinning some. "So I take it these are your shagging committee?"

"Two of my other guards," Xander said. "Buffy, Willow, these are Cam and Tony. Cam's Air Force protecting us all from things that're too classified to know about, nothing Initiative like because I asked to make sure."

"I would've kicked their asses all over their base," Cam said bluntly.

"Tony is a Fed."

Buffy stared at them. "At least you're cute enough. Are you already gay?"

"To us, it's about the same," Tony admitted with a grin. "Beauty in the natural form. A good mix of personalities and traits is more important."

"Ah." She nodded once. "What do I get you guys for a wedding present? I mean beyond getting Xander a _Joy of Gay Sex_ book."

Xander nodded. "I could use one if you find one that has tentacles. Because that part, still freaking me out some." Willow's mouth flopped open and she simply stared. He snapped his fingers a few times. "It was news to me until my mini's shaman told me," he said when she blinked. She whined. He shrugged. "This is who I am. I'm told it's not a problem helping you guys or anything like that. I'm told I'll get used to having a tentacle too. I'm not so sure they're right about that." Cam patted him on the back. "Anyway," he sighed.

"Wedding's probably in about six months," Tony told them. He smirked at Spike. "We can make sure you can attend if you want to and Xander invites you."

"Thanks, bloke." He lit up and looked at the stunned witch. "She's gonna blow."

Buffy looked. "Yeah, she is."

"We're going to .... go back to the formal staring-at-me party thing then," Xander said quickly and they disappeared again.

Buffy nudged Willow once they were gone and Spike was behind her. Willow let out a shriek and some magic. The ground around her died. "If you go all black magic again, I'm going to let Spike eat you," she warned.

"We can't!" she huffed, pointing at where Xander was.

"No, we can't stop them. He's apparently high in their people. We can support our friend since he didn't know anything of this and make sure it won't bother the hunting stuff." Willow glared at her.

"It's been an arranged marriage since they named them guards," Spike told her. "He could turn them down but probably won't because it'd be safer and mean he had helpful sorts around when he needed them. Doesn't mean he's gonna shag them all each night."

Willow glared at him. "It's wrong to force him to marry anyone and he's not a demon!"

Xander sighed, reappearing again by himself this time, all his markings out. "Really?" She stared at him, letting out a slight whimper. "We're born with them, like zebras. I'm told this area where it's all sharp angles instead of swirls and stuff is from the cliff." He pointed, letting her look at them. "Now, can we move on? Please? It's my job to freak out about the tentacle and them viewing us on the wedding night. Not yours." He stared at her.

"But...." He glared. "Fine. So.... " She huffed. "Then you'll have to leave the Council, Xander."

"No I won't. They've agreed hunting the problems and helping train for apocalypses, all that stuff I do now, is good for my people as well as you guys. You can ask Giles about us if you want." She stomped a foot. He gave her a hug. "It changes nothing. Only now I have husbands I won't have to see most of the time because they do important things for a real life." He looked at Buffy. "I could use that book if you find one with tentacles," he mouthed. "I have *no* clue what to do with it!" She smirked and nodded. "Thanks." He looked at his oldest friend. "I'm still the same Xander. Only now I've got markings like tattoos and I have a tentacle. I'll check in soon." He shrugged and disappeared again.

Willow slumped, looking at Buffy. "He's not Xander."

"He is Xander. We can ask Giles. He'd know, right, Spike?"

"Probably. The myth of that curse reached pretty well everywhere." He followed them back. Neither one would be able to stop a fight in their present states. On the way through the building Faith tried to stop them but he shook his head. "Whelp showed up for a few."

"Problems?"

"He totally scared the hell out of the demon I was fighting," Buffy told her. "Giles!" His office door opened and they trooped in there. "Dawn!" she bellowed, letting her in then shutting the door, which raised all the privacy spells Willow had put on for him. "Xander's adopted, kinda."

"Excuse me?" Giles asked. Spike got a book and flipped until he came to it, handing it over. He read that section. "I've heard of this myth."

"That's the whelp," Spike said with an evil smirk. "Gonna be married to his guards in about six months."

"All seven of them," Buffy added then shuddered and shook her head. "Eww, gay orgy sex thoughts again."

"Back up for those of us on the slow kid bus?" Faith suggested. Spike explained things to her. She nodded once. "Okay. Is he retiring?" Buffy shook her head.

"No, their people have never caused the Council or the slayer any problems," Giles told her. "They've always taken care of their own problems and they have created some of the best warriors in this world through the centuries. I dare say that if Xander's training comes through he'll be an excellent combat teacher for the slayers."

Buffy sat down, looking at him. "What do we get him beyond a book to teach him how to use his new tentacle?"

Giles blushed, looking at her. "I'm sure we can find something more appropriate."

"He asked for one," she defended. "So in about six months we need to go to his wedding."

Giles cleared his throat. "That would be fine. It's not usually a problematic time of the year. We can leave some of the younger girls that he hasn't really interacted with here while we go to it. It should last about four days from the stories I've heard." He blinked a few times and got up to look at another book. "Ah, here. About four or five days. It's closer to Indian and Hindu weddings than it is to Christian ones. A lot of food, a big party. The higher ups will be viewing their wedding night." He cleared his throat and put the book back then the other one. "Well, that's certainly different. Did we meet any of his future spouses?"

"Interestingly enough, those hunters that showed up about Amy and the magic artifacts? They all are but finding him was a secondary objective Dean said. We met a Cam, who is Air Force and doing freaky non-Initiative style stuff, and a Tony, who is a federal agent, as well."

"Interesting. I'd like to meet them sometime soon. Is he going back to the girls shortly?"

"In the next few days or he'll bring them to him."

"Even better." He smiled. "It's a big shock but not a horrible one and he will eventually learn to at least get along well with his spouses. It doesn't preclude him from finding one he likes more and adding them to the marriage either." Buffy blushed at that, ducking her head. He looked at Dawn, who was in shock. "I'm sure Xander's going to be very happy and he'll tell us if he's going to have a problem with a hunt or anything."

Dawn nodded. "I always knew there was something different about Xander." She stood up. "He's still a Xander to me, funky tentacles for a dick or not." She shrugged and left them to talk about it. She went to write Xander an email telling him she still liked him as a big brother and she wanted pictures of his husbands or to meet them.

Buffy looked at Giles. "What would we get him?"

"Weapons are probably appropriate," he admitted. "We'll see where he registers." She nodded. "Plus I'll check about any formal customs so we don't cause problems during the ceremony." She nodded and left, dragging Willow with her. Giles looked at Spike. "Did you know?"

"Like Nibblet, I knew something was different but it could've been the fish stuff for all I knew." He shrugged and walked off then came back. "He said she nearly killed him on that cliff hitting his extra sex organs on his stomach." Giles moaned. "She's gonna be a problem."

"I'll talk to her once she's calmed down a bit, Spike. Thank you for getting them back here safely." Spike went to the kitchen to get some blood then left to finish patrol since the girls weren't in any shape to. Giles sat down to think. Things like this could only truly happen to Xander.

***

Xander looked around breakfast the next morning. "We're missing some? Are they training? I should go to that before I go find the other girl and train her too."

His aunt smiled. "The young slayers will be here in a few hours, Xander." He beamed at her. "We have many excellent fighters for them to train against, and you to finish your own training." He nodded once. "Good boy." She patted him on the hand. "We'll work on the wedding arrangements in a few hours?"

"Must we?"

She stared at him. "It's usual to be nervous."

"I wasn't this nervous before I nearly married Anya," he admitted quietly. "I have no idea what to do with a tentacle."

"It will come back, as the other memories will, nephew. It's also not that different. It's just...longer." She patted him again. "There's a few formal things we'll have to plan now for the wedding in six months' time." He nodded once. "I know you're used to the more Western church ceremony but ours is a bit different."

"That's fine."

"Good boy." She smiled. "We'll do that once you guards are back. That way you've checked on your girls and all that."

"Will I have to shop for presents for them? Because I think I should talk to them more before I do that and I have to check my bank account in Cleveland first too."

"No, dear. They have to gift you. There's seven traditional gifts so they may break them up and give one each. I'm not sure how they'll do that. You will look stunning though." She ate a bite of breakfast and nodded for him to do the same. He politely shoveled in food and she didn't chastise him. Being human ruined all the manners she had trained into the boy but she'd gradually train them into him again. Then he went to talk to his guards about things and the girls. She mentally sighed. He'd have to get used to public life a bit sooner.

***

Dean looked at the girl he had gotten, Xander's last trainee. "We're going to take you to the one he hasn't met yet. That way you can give her the new slayer speech and she won't freak out about us."

"That's reasonable," she assured him. "You should show your marks. Most of the local peoples know of your kind."

"She might freak out," he pointed out. "Even if they know it doesn't mean they like us."

"True." She let him whisk her off once she had her things packed. The magical transport was very nice. Very quick too. Made her a bit nauseous too. They landed and she looked at her sister slayer. "Sister."

The girl stared at her. "I do not know you. Are you from my father's marriage before my mother?"

"No, we are the same." She walked closer. She stared at her. "You've felt the dark things." The girl shuddered, hugging herself. "I'm a hunter, like you are." An old man walked their way. "Healer."

"Slayer."

"She is my sister."

"I know." He looked at Dean. "You are not normal." He exposed his stripes and the old man smiled a toothless smile. "One of your kind long ago saved our people."

Dean smiled. "I'm sure they were happy to do so, Elder. For right now, the one training the girls is actually our prince. Xander was just found thanks to that curse."

"I have heard of such whispered through the tree spirits." He looked at the girl. "Go pack."

"I'm to be married soon."

"You're to be trained to protect us all. I do not know why you're active when another lives though."

"To fight the First Evil when she came out, a witch had to activate more slayers," Dean told him. "She ended up activating all the line." The old man shuddered. "That's why Xander has been traveling. She was to be the last one gathered as he worked his way south. Since we found him as our prince, we're bringing all the girls home to train with him and our trainers. It will make them stronger fighters."

"That is an excellent idea," he assured him. He smiled at the girl. "Go pack. I'll tell your mother myself." She nodded, letting the other girl help her. "Wait here?"

"Of course. I'd never want to bother your people." The elder smiled as he limped after the girls. Dean watched the villagers watch him and saw something bad nearby. He pointed. "Is that a pet?" he asked.

One of the middle-aged men looked then shuddered. "No. He has been shadowing us to create death shadows."

Dean pulled his gun and shot it. "No it won't." The men all stared at him in awe. He smirked back. "I'm a guard for our prince, who is also a Watcher as it turns out. He sent me to gather the girls so he could train them with him for now."

The girls came back smiling and happy. "We can go," the first one said. "Please go slower so I don't get as sick?"

Dean smiled. "I can do that." He nodded at the elders. "She'll be back soon. He's a great trainer and we do hunt bad demons." He bowed and took the girls with him. The others had gathered the other girls and were waiting. "Here we go. The last one he hadn't seen yet and his last trainee."

Sam grinned. "C'mon, we're picking rooms, girls. Then I'll figure out where Xander's hiding from the staring sorts so we can talk." They followed him.

Cam went to find Xander. Tony had stayed behind so it wasn't that hard. Tony was in the library reading so Xander was somewhere nearby. Tony pointed without having to look up. Cam looked in the cubby, smiling. "The girls are here," he said quietly. Xander smiled and put up the books, following him back. Sam led them back out to the sitting area. "One Xander, as promised."

Xander grinned. "They just told me when I was with Aria." The girls all stared. He grinned. "I know, shocked the hell outta me too, ladies." He sat down and they sat around him. "Since I have to be here for a few weeks, you girls can train with me here. That'll give you time to train against each other, and the guards here since they're better than even I am." They all beamed at that and looked at Cam, who nodded. "Then we'll go back to the villages and I'll travel between the groups as I can."

"It'd be easier if you didn't," Cam offered quietly.

Xander looked up at him. "Then who's going to protect their people if they're here?"

"That's a good point and one I didn't think of."

"I'll do fine and if I have problems, I'll yelp," he assured him with a smile. "I know you guys have to do important job stuff."

"Actually, I think we're all off this week," he said dryly. "That way you can get used to having us around." He patted him on the head. "Did your aunt talk to you already?"

"She said something about the wedding and presents. Otherwise, nope."

"That's something we have to think about too." He walked off, going to find Jack and talk to him. He had no idea what to give his boss/future husband.

Xander shrugged. "I'm told I'm marrying my guards in about six months." The girls all smirked at him. "All six or seven of them." That got a few gapes and an odd look. "It's something we'll work out so I don't have a freak-out on you girls." He grinned. "For today, anyone need anything before we work with the newest one of you?" They shook their heads so he took them to an outdoor courtyard to work on identifying and strengthening her natural gifts. Each slayer got different parts of the gifts.

They'd make them stronger then work on the weaker ones later on. That way she wasn't unprotected. By lunch, the girls were sweaty but doing fine. He went to find them lunch. His aunt gave him an odd look when he gathered a pitcher of cold water and glasses. "Lunch with my girls." He walked out to hand that off then came back to get sandwiches. The girls dug in and talked to each other about what demons they had seen, explaining them to the newest one. Xander added in his own stories of demons he knew were peaceful and some he was friends with.

John walked out and grinned. "Xander?" He looked up. "You know you don't have to marry Rodney as well, right? That would make him your spouse instead of mine?"

"No idea and I figured someone would tell me." He shrugged. "However that works, John."

"Coolness. Thanks." He sat down and went over things with the girls as well. He had a lot he could teach them about combat and how to fight. Plus his future spouse. They got to sparring after lunch and it was good for them. They weren't bad. Xander had done a decent enough job, but the girls clearly outstripped his own abilities so they needed to fight with someone faster and stronger. A few of the camp guards came out to help them. The girls looked nervous at first but then the guys started to crack jokes, which went over Xander's head most of the time, so they let them help them. It was a good afternoon sparring session. Xander was down soon enough but that was fine. They'd work on his skills.

***

Cam found Jack in an unexpected spot, the library's back room. "Um...."

Jack looked at him. "Did he already do something that confusing?" he taunted with an evil smirk.

"He's insistent, and correct, that he has to get the girls back to their peoples soon."

"True, it's better for them and their people."

"But that means one of us should follow."

"Also true."

"Unless Dean and Sam stay though...."

Jack considered it. "You have to give him gifts to prove that you can protect, provide for, show affection for, help raise a strong family, follow his lead in family matters, treat him well as a spouse should be treated, and honor him."

"We were going to break those up among us, one each," he admitted.

Jack smiled. "Protecting him can be done in many ways. Weapons. A dog maybe?" Cam's face lit up. "Remember, he'll be down here for years yet."

"I know. I know a few types he could use. Maybe a beagle?"

"They don't tolerate heat perfectly and they're not really for more than occasional hunts. But maybe. Get him a spoiling dog and a hunter to follow him around?"

"Maybe." He went to the other guards/future husbands. "Jack gave me an idea about how to give Xander something that would help protect him."

"One of the ones you traditionally have to provide," Rodney agreed, looking up from his reading. "What was he thinking?"

"A hound to help him hunt? Since he's going to be going back to the traveling watcher role soon."

The guys stared at each other, then nodded. "I think that'd be a great idea," Sam decided. "We still have to pick which one gets which present."

"What're we thinking? One of our friends has a mastiff," Dean offered. "We can ask him to help us."

"I have a few breeds but I'm going to check a breed selection site," Cam admitted. He sat down to do that, finding a few. "Do we want to give him one for when he's here and out there or just the one?"

"One present each," Rodney reminded him. "If he wants a palace dog, he can have one for a spoiling him present or something." He looked over his shoulder. "Beagles are good dogs, but he'll be walking a lot."

"Basenji are native dogs. They're good hunters for small game and are playful. Or I'm thinking a Pinscher." He selected that one to look over. "It says they're nosy, playful, full of energy, and good hunters plus protectors." They all nodded. "Not the miniature one, though it's cute."

"No, the full sized," Dean agreed. Tony looked and smiled at the picture. "Not too heavy either. Thirty-five pounds. Boy or girl?"

"Girl, get him another mother hen," Rodney suggested. They all smiled and Cam looked online to find a good Pinscher breeder. "Black and tan or fawn to reddish colors seem to be most common," he said quietly.

"The black and tan look more like a doberman," Tony said. "The fawn is a nice color." Cam looked at that picture, nodding some. "It won't get mistaken for a lion or anything."

"No, and it's a good camouflage color," Cam agreed. "For everything but snow, but he won't have to worry about that all the time."

"I know someone who had one. Whenever it would tear up something, it'd grin at him," Sam said with a grin of his own. "The thing chewed on half of everything, even after obedience training. And it followed him everywhere but you couldn't yell at the thing. It's sensitive."

"Xander doesn't do much yelling at anything," Dean pointed out. "He holds his temper in a lot." They all nodded. "The girls will play it to death though."

"It says they're high energy dogs," Cam said with a small shrug. "Dean, know anyone that specifically trains demon hunting dogs?"

"Bobby will." He called. "Hey, it's Dean. Yup, we are." He looked at Sam. "Dad told him."

"That's cool." He shifted on the couch.

"Sam said hi, Bobby. No, small thing. We're thinking about getting him a dog as one of the presents. Germie. Yup. No, standard sized and he's in Africa right now training slayers so we were hoping for a brown one if you knew someone who has one trained." He listened, making a note. "You sure? Cool. Thanks. Yeah, it works. I'm on it now, Bobby. Thanks, man." He hung up. "He knows one in service, and that they have at least one in training for their son. He'll talk to him." Cam beamed at him. "So I guess that's his protective present. His 'show affection for' one is traditionally next, right?"

Sam nodded. "I was thinking maybe something goofy he'll smile at? Since we don't know what he'd think about things like mushy presents. I know he likes graphic novels."

"That's not really a showing affection sort of present," Tony said. "Now, I can see that being a 'I like you as you are' sort of present. Affection is usually something they can wear or something to make them coo. In the past I gave girls music boxes or small jewelry."

"I doubt Xander would like either," Rodney said. "You have to remember he'll want to bring it with him."

"What about something like a date instead then?" Sam suggested. "Maybe a picnic?"

"That's not a present, though it's a good idea," Dean admitted. "We need to get to know him better." They all nodded at that. "It would be easier if he was female," he said.

"Yeah, they get mushy over other stuff," Tony agreed with a grin.

Cam shrugged. "The curse made him be reborn this way, guys. Besides, he's cute." They all nodded that Xander was indeed cute. They'd figure it out. They had six months.

***

Xander looked up from a listless dinner a few days later when he heard someone coming into his room. "Am I disappointing people?" he asked when he saw it was Cam.

"No. Why would you?"

"I can't do all that being in the public eye stuff."

"Even your aunt needs time alone and it's a big thing to wrap your mind around," he assured him. Xander nodded, going back to his eating. "C'mon, a few of us are having a picnic."

"You guys want me there?" he asked, looking hopeful.

Cam smiled. "How else are we supposed to get to know who you are, Xander?"

"Maybe you shouldn't then," he sighed.

Cam scowled. "C'mon." He helped him up and walked him out there, sitting him down. "Unlike those friends of yours, we know what you've been doing and appreciate it, Xander." Xander gave him a shy grin and his heart went mushy. Yeah, they'd be fine. He sat down and the others came out to join them with the picnic stuff. They sat, ate, talked about movies since Tony started off on that pretty inclusive target, and it was good. Easy to get to know Xander. The camp guards could chaperone from their spots, and the slayers from theirs chatting in the courtyard they had taken over. It was good and let the kid relax and be more like himself again. None of them really wanted the public life either but when you're chosen it's an honor and they had decided that Xander was worth the stress, even if he didn't realize it yet. They talked for a lot of hours, until Xander fell asleep against Dean's arm. They all grinned and watched him but they did get him up and to bed.

One of the slayers stopped Sam. "You will not hurt him."

He smiled at her. "We'd never hurt him, Kuria."

She stared into his eyes. "The slayer spirit likes him as much as we girls do ourselves."

He patted her on the cheek, still grinning. "That's a wonderful thing and we have no intention of hurting Xander. We're not like that. It may be arranged but we're learning to like him a lot already." She nodded at that and backed up. He grinned. "You should've been in bed *hours* ago. You know the head guard's going to come work with you girls tomorrow."

"We'll pout if he gets us up too early. After all, slayers work at night." She left, going back to her friends and sister slayers. Xander was like a big brother to all of them. They would make sure his husbands were good to him.

***

Cam finally got the dog and it sniffed him, staring at him. The hunter was talking with Dean but Cam squatted down to look less threatening. "The boy you're going to help hunt will love you and take good care of you," he said quietly. He let it sniff him, getting a funny look. "I know but we're good people." He slowly reached over to pet the ear and the dog let him. Then it ran back to its master's side to sit and stare at Dean. Dean grinned and patted it too. The dog looked at the human.

"I know," he told the dog. "Figures something was up with the Winchester clan."

Dean shrugged. "Higher callings and all that but we are fantastic hunters and our people have been keeping problems down for centuries."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah. The one she's going to was with the slayer out in Sunnydale." The man slumped, shaking his head. Dean grinned. "She's going to Xander, yeah."

"He's still alive?" he asked, looking amazed.

"Yeah."

"Damn!"

"He's training girls in Africa right now. He's lonely part of the time and I think she'll do him very good. He needs someone to love him unconditionally."

"The mini slayers are going to squeal," Cam agreed, standing up and coming over. "Somehow they learned that without having it be part of their native culture."

"They say each slayer gets a bit of the slayers before her," Dean quipped. "So it probably came from Buffy." Cam snickered, shaking his head.

The other hunter shook his head. "Probably," he agreed. "She's the most fashionable hunter I've ever met." He handed over the leash. "If he doesn't treat her well...."

"We'll kick his butt for you and make sure she spends a lot of time with Bobby," Dean promised with a grin.

"That'll work. Thanks, Dean."

"It's not a problem." He looked at the dog. "Wanna go home?" It ran for the hunter's truck. "No, the new home, dog." He put the leash on her, making her go to attention and watch around them. "Good girl." He petted her ears, turning the leash over to Cam. Cam smiled and got them back to the palace. Sure enough, the girls spotted the dog and squealed. "Ah!" Dean ordered. "No rushing the dog! She'll panic." They settled down to sit in front of the dog and let her sniff all them. They cooed and petted her, making her a happy dog to have so many human slaves to play with. "C'mon, girls, let's learn some classification." They pouted but let him lead them off.

Cam went to where Xander was hiding. He always hid about this time of day to give the girls some free time. He walked into the library, where he was slowly working his way through a history book. He sat down near him and waited for Xander to notice. Sam smiled and petted the dog before leaving them alone. The dog sniffed the new human, giving the leash holder a look like 'is he a threat?' Cam smiled and petted her.

Xander looked up at the new noises, looking around until he spotted Cam and the dog. "We have guard dogs?" he said quietly. He shifted closer. "You look very fast and very smart."

"This is Cane. She's trained to hunt demons." He smiled. Xander just stared at him, looking confused. "Part of the before-wedding celebrations are presents from the spouse or spouses. One to show that we want to and will protect you in her case." He handed over the leash, letting Xander fall to his knees to play with the dog. "We'll work on her training with you so you understand how to call her off and things. The girls have already approved by squeal." Xander beamed at him, sniffling slightly. Cam took a quick kiss. "Play with her, Xander. German Pinschers need a lot of playing and they're very smart."

He cooed and petted the dog. "Do we have a tennis ball? Jesse's mom's poodle used to like a tennis ball." One got bounced in by a camp guard, giving Cam a pointed look. The dog caught the ball and brought it to Xander, dropping it on him. Xander beamed and tossed it, making it a happy dog. The leash got undone when she trailed it back. They played a few more rounds of fetch before going outside to play out there. Cam followed, watching Xander play with his first real friend outside of Jesse and possibly Willow. The dog adored him. They'd learn to get along very well together. When Xander got played out, he sat there and Cane sat in his lap, getting all the love she wanted. Cam knew she'd overrun her human and take charge but he'd learn to resist the dog pout. "We can get her more toys later?" Xander asked.

"Sure. We can go to Cleveland so you can introduce her to your other friends too," he promised, getting a happy, bouncy boy. Who kissed him without warning and walked off. The dog followed. "The command for that is heel," he called.

"Heel, Cane. Let's go shower so we can wake Buffy up and show her how pretty you are." The dog trotted happily with her new master.

Tony grinned when he came out to check on Cam. "Xander's one happy boy."

"We're going to get Cane more toys soon."

"That's cool." He punched him on the arm with a grin. "You did a good job." Cam beamed. "Help me?"

"Of course." He got up and they went to work on Tony's present together. Dean and Sam could go or Don and John. Xander didn't do much with those two right now.

***

Buffy looked up at the padding sound, frowning. "Where did you come from, Poochy?" She let it sniff her hand and got a bark but petted her. "Andrew, did you adopt a dog for the slayers to cuddle to death?"

He looked over, shaking his head. "No. You said I couldn't and that breed's usually really aggressive." Xander walked in. "Xander! Watch out for the dog."

"Cam gave her to me," he said with a pout. "Don't beg Buffy for her breakfast, Cane, she bites back." The dog barked at him and stared at Buffy.

"Cane's grinning," she pointed out.

"The guy at the pet shop said they do that when they're being naughty puppies. Cane." He patted his thigh and she came back to get attention. He handed over a puppy treat he had in the bag and his dog was a happy puppy again. He grinned at her. "Isn't she a great present from Cam?"

"She's a beautiful present," Buffy agreed. "Will you have problems with her in Africa when you're roaming?"

"Cam said she's meant to hunt," John said from behind Xander. He moved the boy and dog out of the way so he and Don could get in. "Hi. John Sheppard."

"Hi, Buffy, but you probably knew that."

"Dean described you well but he does have an eye for pretty girls," he assured her with a grin. She blushed but finished her breakfast. "This is Don Flack."

"Hi," she said with a smile and a wave. "We hadn't met you two yet."

"Exactly," Don agreed with a grin. "Xander, you're going to spoil her."

"I am not. Dogs are naturally spoiled because they're good dogs." He grinned at his dog, giving her a squeaky toy. Buffy groaned but the dog was playing happily with it. "I'm told she'll go through many of those, and anything stuffed probably."

"Watch the pillows then," Buffy quipped. "She's adorable. A present already?"

"There's some traditional meanings behind seven presents he's to get before the wedding," John told her. "Cane is meant to protect him."

"Ah!" She nodded, grinning at him. "I'm sure she's very protective. The girls are going to pounce her and cuddle her to death though."

"The ones with us squealed and petted until someone pulled them off for lessons," John said smugly. "Apparently they got the squeal with the slayer essence."

"Probably my fault then," she said dryly. "Dawn?" She came bouncing in and cooed. The dog looked up from chewing on the squeaky toy to stare at her. "That's Cane. She's a pre-wedding present from one of Xander's new husbands."

She hugged Xander, getting a small growl from the dog. "I can hug my big brother. You behave." She let the dog sniff her and patted it gently on the head. "I'm a good little sister to him." She looked at Xander. "Do we have to help you find a tux?"

"Not our culture's dress of choice for weddings," John told her. "It's much more Eastern and the like."

"Like the Japanese costume ones or like the Hindu saris?" she asked.

"Closer to the sari ones, though not red or gold. Blue, grays, greens."

"Cool!" She beamed. "We need to know how to dress for it and how many days to pack for."

"We'll make sure someone sends you a suggestion guide," Don assured her, getting a happy punch on the arm from Dawn. "You're how old?" he teased.

"Not near old enough for you," she taunted back with an evil smirk. "What's her name, Xander?"

"Cane." The dog looked at her. "She wanted to know how to spoil you," he cooed, petting her. She went back to her squeaky toy chewing. Until the squeaky hole got opened by a tooth. "Awww. Already? We'll have to get you more."

"I got some bell balls," Don offered with a grin.

"Wonderful!" He grinned at Buffy. "So, this is a prezzie and a wonderful one. Huh?"

"She's a great present, Xander, and I'm sure you're going to be very protected by her for a long time." He beamed. She heard a toot. "That's the school bus. The other minis are back." They left in a hurry. Buffy watched Andrew wipe up the drool spot from the toy, looking at her sister. "How do you wear a sari?"

"You know that movie you were watching with the subtitles?" Buffy nodded. "Those are saris."

"Oh!" She nodded. "So it's wound around you, huh?"

"It's also tucked in to take up the extra fabric. We'll go to the girl from India to help us find something good to wear."

"Cool." She looked at Andrew. "Thank you for breakfast."

"You're welcome." He smiled as the sisters walked off talking about clothes and colors. He slumped in relief. The dog made him nervous but Xander would never let it hurt him. He was a nice guy most of the time.

***

Xander walked into dinner that night, Cane right beside him.

"Nephew, what is *that*?" his aunt asked impatiently.

"She's Cane. Cam gave her to me." He grinned. "Isn't she a beautiful, loving friend?"

She looked then at Tony since he was behind Xander. "His first present?" Tony smiled and nodded. "Then she's a good choice. Though, she should not be at dinner."

Xander sat down and Cane snuggled up to his feet under the table. "I'm not going to make her be bored in the rooms. I just met her today. She might get separation anxiety."

"That's fine," she decided. "Don't feed her too much of your dinner, Xander."

"Yes, Auntie," he said with a grin. He looked down the table. "I see you came out of your rooms," he told his brother. Who glared. Xander shrugged and smiled at the servers, taking his plate. "Thank you. Can I have a small bowl of water for Cane?" He nodded, going to get one and put it under the table. The dog barked in thanks but sniffed it before taking a drink. Xander dropped food for her and she was a happy, spoiled dog.

His aunt shook her head but dug into her own food. It was a good sign that the boys were already gifting him, and she had heard rumors about a midnight picnic as well. That was very good for her nephew. "You left the palace earlier?"

"We went to introduce her to Buffy and Dawn, plus Andrew - who is scared of dogs thanks to his black magic using asshole brother, plus get her some toys. Buffy cooed at her and Dawn petted her too." He ate a bite then chewed and swallowed. "Buffy said Cam did a very good job and I love her."

"That's good," she agreed with a smile. "Are you going to breed her?" The confused look on his face made her sigh mentally. "She's purebred."

"She's trained to hunt demons with me," he told her.

"Ah, so it was the protection gift instead of the affection one," she realized, smiling at him. "That is a very protective breed and I'm sure she's going to spend many years hunting with you, Xander." He smiled and nodded, getting back into his food. "Did your trainees like her?"

"They all squealed," Tony said quietly. "They saw her first since Xander was doing his history reading time." She smiled at that and nodded. "They are very well behaved young ladies."

"Of course they are. It's only Western teenagers who get into the sort of trouble that gets you on the news," Xander told him. "Or so I've been told."

"Good point. They don't have the same opportunity to club and all that stuff."

Xander ate a bite of steak and chewed, then grimaced and delicately spit it into his napkin. "They probably got the memories of that from Buffy too. Maybe even from Faith." Tony snickered and nodded. "I should spend more time with them. I'm used to spending all the time with my current trainee."

"The girls are doing great helping each other with their weaknesses," Tony assured him. "One's a bit homesick but they cuddled-piled her last night."

"Did she bring her phone?" Tony shook his head. "Then she can use mine to call them. I have all their numbers programmed in."

"I'll....."

"I'll go remind them of that tonight and we can have a slayer night in watching supposedly scary movies." Xander smiled. "You guys can join us if you want."

"I think we might like that," Tony agreed. He dug in. "The beef is Kobe beef, Xander."

"No, that piece tasted like draino."

He took it to sniff then went to the kitchen. Soon someone screamed and guards went rushing that way. Tony came back out, taking the water bowl to sniff but it was just water. He put it back with a pet for Cane then went back to his own seat. "He'll be questioned," he told the aunt. He smiled at Xander and traded plates with him with a wink.

"I can handle it if I accidentally get a bite," Xander protested.

Tony stared at him. "Don't tell me that. I'll go find your human parents, beat the shit out of them, then arrest them." Xander stared, mouth slightly open, head tipped to the side. Tony grinned. "Cane gives me that same look," he teased with a grin. "Should I get you the ball too?" Cane barked and came out from under the table. He got tossed a toy by one of the camp guards, who was looking fondly tolerant of the dog again. He tossed it and Cane grabbed it from midair, settling down beside the daddy to gnaw on it.

"Good girl, and nice jump," Xander praised, petting her. "Very good girl." He looked at Tony. "I give you looks like my dog does?"

"That confused, play with me look, yeah."

Xander blushed, ducking his head some. "I'm not sure I'd know what to do if you did take me up on that offer, Tony," he said quietly.

Tony kicked him under the table. "We'll figure it out together." Xander smiled and nodded. They dug in and thankfully Xander's steak hadn't been poisoned more than that little piece. Must've transferred off his brother's steak since he routinely ate hazardous things for pleasure. They really had to see if Xander had a plan for him.

***

Xander walked up to where Willow's mother was waiting on him. He smiled and kissed her on the cheek. "Hi, Mrs. Rosenburg."

"Xander." She looked him over. "What happened to your eye, young man?"

"Evil cult leader."

"Oh." She grimaced. "In Sunnydale?" He nodded. "Well no wonder we had so many problems. You needed to see me?"

"I've found new family," he said, walking her off.

"That's wonderful news! I know you've had problems with your parents."

"As it turns out, they adopted me."

She snorted. "Probably for some sort of payment, unfortunately. You could have been quite the man with a better upbringing."

"I'm actually training some special forces trainees at the moment and it's pretty cushy job," he told her with a grin. "Anyway," he said, pulling out a picture. "This is my new brother as it turns out." She gasped and stopped them walking to stare at him. "My aunt doesn't want to admit that he has ...issues. Those were all self-inflicted cuts. He's tried to eat fire in the past. We had to stop him eating draino on his steak last night," he said quietly. "She doesn't know we're talking but I personally think some of your kind of people should probably have him before he's a serious problem and threat to more than just himself."

"Yes, he should definitely be in a facility," she said firmly.

"Which is why I need you to tell me where. We're technically not in the US. I'm not sure about the facilities where I am and doing it here in the US would get him healed better and probably be a more thorough job, even if they did end up drugging him for the first few months until he could admit he was suicidal. I don't want to hurt my aunt but I don't want to watch someone else disintegrate in front of me either."

"Of course not." She pulled out her PDA, looking up numbers and considering colleagues she had talked to. "I have two good choices. Is he closer to the midwest or the east coast?"

"Whichever is better. The family has some money. If they won't I'm sure we can work something out about insurance."

She smiled and patted him on the cheek. "Then we'll go with the one in the Midwest." She wrote down the address and name. "I'll call him in a few minutes while you get him there tonight?"

"Of course I can. The family has a few very loyal retainers. I'm sure they'd love to help." He smiled. "One got me a dog." He bounced a few times on the balls of his feet. "Cane is great and she helps me train plus plays with me all the time."

"Wonderful, Xander." She patted him on the cheek. "Tell my daughter to call me?"

"I can find her tonight. She's in Cleveland."

"Interesting."

"You saw Sunnydale fell in, right? Huge earthquake?"

"Of course."

"She moved there with her current girlfriend right after that."

"Ah. Another person I should meet. Here you go, dear." She handed it over and he kissed her on the cheek before walking off. She waited until he was out of the area to call her friend. "Bill, Sheila Rosenburg." She smiled. "Yes from the conference. No, I'm asking for a slight favor. One of the children my daughter played with just found some new relatives and he's dreadfully worried about his brother. Apparently he's very suicidal. Ate fire a few times, Xander said he was trying to eat draino last night of all things. Self-mutilation.

"They're from outside the US, but he said they did have some money and they had a few loyal family retainers that would help him sneak the poor thing to your custody for treatment so their aunt didn't have to watch him self-destruct." She listened. "Exactly. No, I visibly flinched at the level of scarring. The thing is mutilated beyond torture victims, Bill. Tonight if possible. Xander Harris. Thank you, Bill." She hung up and felt better about herself. She had truly helped her pseudo-son's new family and had done her duty as a psychotherapist. It was a good day for her. She had to tell Ira.

***

Xander got Dean and John to help him capture his brother. His brother's guards gave them horrified looks but they disappeared. Xander knew where the clinic was and had a portal ready. He walked out and they carried him around the building. "Hi, Sheila Rosenburg called in to get one of her colleagues to talk to my brother," he said, letting the receptionist see his face. She shuddered and looked away. He handed over the name. "Him? Is he in?"

"Yes, sir. Let me get an orderly to help you move him. How did you sedate him?"

"Neck pinch," Dean told her.

"That's fine. It won't counteract any medicines they might want to use." She made a few frantic calls. That one was clearly dangerous to himself. The doctor came down to talk to Xander and his guards once the body had been taken. He went in to look his new patient over and came out pale and writing orders. So apparently it was a very good idea to bring him in knocked out. Xander smiled and shook his hand, handing over an insurance card. The doctor smiled at the knowledge that it was the boy's insurance card but they'd take it to help this one.

Xander left after checking on him one last time. They went back to the palace. Xander called Giles to warn him that his insurance was going to show him in a thorazine coma in a mental facility in the Midwest and why. Then they went to have a dinner with the slayers and Cane. The dog bounced over to them, ball already in his mouth. Xander cooed and tossed it, sitting down to play with the dog and teach the girls some more things they needed to know.

***

Xander got called before his aunt and a few of her people later that night. He smiled, petting his dog's head. "Yes, Aunt?"

"I'm told that you kidnaped your brother?"

"With how clear it was that he had turned suicidal after I beat him and took my rightful spot, I thought it healthier for him to get some help accepting that he can't be me." He stared at her. She gave him an odd look. "He's in a very good hospital in the US. Willow's mother recommended his new doctor highly. Talked to him for me even." He grinned. "They're going to talk to him about his ingestion of toxic chemicals, all the cutting he's done on himself, the bad things he's done to the rest of his body, all that, and he'll come out much healthier mentally and probably happier as well. I'd love to see my brother being happy and healthy."

She cleared her throat. "You could've challenged him to a duel and killed him if you were worried about him."

He stared at her for a minute. "I think that's an improper response to him being suicidal. Suicidal intentions should be handled by helping him see that whatever reason he's upset isn't that bad and helping him be comfortable with himself again." He smiled. "It's why therapists were invented."

"He might have preferred you just kill him," one of the elders said.

Xander smiled. "I'm told even he has a place to play in our society. Therefore he should be healthy enough to do so. That way his mental problems and the suicidal intentions he had don't hurt others as well."

The elders all stared at him for a minute. "That's very...mean, Xander."

Xander grinned. "He clearly needed help. He tried to put draino on my steak last night instead of just his." He beamed. "I'm sure they'll help him find his happy place and help him get on a good mental footing so he's helpful to our people again." He beamed at his aunt. "Dean and Sam can check on him while they're off hunting."

"That's fine." She cleared her throat again. "It was very good of you to help him instead of aiding in his...suicide attempts, nephew." He beamed and walked off with the dog. She looked at the elders. "Have we found him?"

"No, ma'am. Not yet."

"Well... Hopefully it won't hurt him too much. Every society has some dark ones."

"With that move, and with how his brother will see the therapy, that might count for Xander himself, ma'am," another said. "That was a move worthy of torture in some circles."

She nodded. "And he is a fighter," she agreed. "Therefore he has some darkness. Well, I suppose he could be a balance in and of himself. His spouses will help him stay more on the light than not." They all smiled and went to spread this news. The boy hadn't wasted the spare heir. He had him in a safe place where he couldn't hurt himself any further, or anyone else, and was keeping him occupied so he couldn't plot against anyone. It was nearly a brilliant move. Better than killing him or locking him in a tower somewhere to rot.

The queen went to take something for her headache. That boy was seriously evil minded. Therapy was cruel to one such as her other nephew.

***

Xander bounced into the Council kitchen with his minis later that night. "Guys, this is Andrew. He cooks for everyone and is the house mom." The girls all smiled and waved. "Andrew, these are my minis from Africa. I'm introducing them to others." Andrew looked around. "Cane won't bite you, Andrew. Cane?" He came over and the dog followed. "Here, squat down." Andrew slowly did. "Put out a hand. Flat palmed." The dog sniffed him then bowled over Andrew to lick him. Xander smiled. "See, she won't hurt you." He petted his dog. "That's right, he smells like people food." He stood up. "Willow? Buffy? Faith?" he called loudly. Cane got off and went to sniff these new people, scaring Faith by jumping up to lap her. "Down, Cane." She sat, staring at Faith. "Let her sniff you."

Faith let the dog sniff her then petted her. "Good puppy." She looked at Xander. "I heard you got her as a present."

"Yup, from Cam," he said with a grin. "These are my minis. I'm introducing them to you guys."

"Coolness. 'Drew, you good?"

"Yeah," he said, getting up. "She's a good dog, Xander." Xander helped him stand back up. "Thank you."

"I remember helping pull you out of that tree after your brother's hellmutt tried to eat you," he said quietly. "You can't be scared of Cane." He grinned. "Willow, your mom wanted a call."

"When did you run into my mother and whose dog?"

"My dog. Cam gave her to me to hunt with me and help protect me and the minis." He pointed. "My minis from Africa."

She smiled. "Hi, girls." She looked at Xander. "When did you see my mother?"

"I had her help me commit my brother to a secure facility for his suicidal tendencies." He beamed. "He was trying to eat draino last night."

Willow blinked a few times. "That's mean." She looked at the girls. "C'mon, Buffy probably ignored the call. She's doing the 'no boyfriend' sulk in front of a girly movie." She and Faith led them around, the dog following along behind them with Xander following her to keep the other slayers off his dog.

Buffy looked down when her popcorn bowl was invaded by a wet nose. "Cane!" She put it out of her reach. "Why are you back here?" She looked up, spotting all the younger slayers. "Hi, girls." They all smiled and waved. "Yup, Xander's training you ladies well." She got up, taking the popcorn bowl before the dog could claim it again. Then she got the dog off a pillow. Xander bounced a jingly ball. She ran off to chew and thrash it around for a bit, driving them all nuts with the bell noises. She finally had to take the ball from the dog and handed over a pillow she could replace. The dog barked and pounced it to play with. Xander beamed at her. "Torturing me is wrong, mister, and gets you embarrassing wedding presents."

"She's a very playful and helpful dog, Buffy."

"Next time, no noisy toys." She handed the ball back. Cane came to sniff her and her bowl so she sighed and let the dog have it. She walked the slayers off to talk to them and get to know them. They were in some of the most dangerous areas so she might not get to meet and talk to them any other time. She heard one of the younger ones spot Xander and pounce, then a growl, wincing. No slayer yelling so Xander had apparently called off the dog or Dawn had cooed her into not biting. She could coo anyone into mush-mindedness. It was an amusing gift sometimes.

***

The group finally had to break apart to do real world things again. Xander took the girls and his dog back out to regular Africa. The rest went to their jobs. Fortunately some of their bosses were very understanding. Jack was smiling happily when John, Rodney, and Cam showed up at the Mountain. John Winchester just hugged his boys and clapped them on the shoulders for being happy and able to settle down. Don's boss wasn't too happy but he'd live with the knowledge that Don was a happier detective for now. Gibbs, not so happy that Tony had went on vacation but oh well.

"Nice to have you back, DiNozzo," Gibbs said sarcastically. "You're late."

Tony looked at his watch then at his boss. "Sorry, boss, plane was a bit late." He sat down and logged onto his computer. "It was a good vacation though."

"You look tanned and like you worked out the whole time."

"I did. I went to see a friend and his trainee. He's training her in self-defense and things so I helped." He grinned. "It was a lot of fun since she's learning how to be girlish at the same time." He found what he needed to do and got into it. "I see we've got court later this week."

"I saw that," Gibbs agreed. "McGee said you didn't use your passport?"

Tony looked at him. "No, I didn't. He had a way of getting me there so no one would know where he was."

"Is he Special Forces or a spook?" he demanded.

"No. He's kinda an important person." He got back to work. "Don't worry, boss, even the FBI knows about him. They don't know why they know about him but they do." He smirked to himself. The girls had sniffled but knew they'd see them all soon. They had nearly tried to claim Dean and Sam. It had been cute to watch.

"Quit thinking about the girl, DiNozzo," Gibbs complained.

"I'm not, boss. Just how she tried to claim another guest there at the same time." He sent him something. "There you go. Because I'm sure she'll want to know why I'm not filing for anything for my vacation. The director is probably just as nosy." He got into something else. "Current case?"

"Not right now," he grumbled, reading the form before passing it up. He was right, the Director wanted to know where Tony had been as well. "Which country were you in?"

"A very tiny one."

"On which continent, DiNozzo?"

Tony looked at him. Then he smirked. "Classified, boss." He got back to work. Madam Director was a bitch and had just taken over so she was pulling her weight all around the building. "Boss, I'm seeing a memo on ties?"

"Ignore it."

"Hair?"

"Yours is still regulation."

"Abby have a fit over the heels and dress?"

"Yup. Had to be taken out by ambulance."

"Good, maybe all the power flexing will stop soon then." He got to another one. "Hergava's funeral? She died?"

"Last week," he sighed. "It's today."

Tony looked at himself. "I have a darker suit in my bag in my trunk," he said quietly. "How?"

"Suspect running shot backwards. She wasn't in pursuit. She was getting coffee. Local LEO's were in pursuit."

"I'm sorry to hear that. She was a pretty good agent." He got back to work. "Abby knows I'm back. I got an IM, boss."

"I'm sure she had the cameras on, DiNozzo. What are you doing?"

"Cleaning up my files. Since I have two new programs on my computer that I didn't before and neither one is something that's work appropriate." He restarted his system after noting that to Abby then settled in to watch it reboot. "Hmm. Where's McGeek?"

"Up the hallway waiting on me to yell."

Tony looked at him. "Why?" He looked around the separator. "Probie!" He jumped and came over. "What did you do to my machine?"

He looked it over, wincing. "She had computer services put it on," he said quietly. "It's caused nothing but problems and computer crashes." He got into the registry to clean it up then restarted it. This time it worked. "So how was wherever? You look tanned?"

"It was a great vacation." He smiled. "My friend got a dog from his new boyfriend. His trainee is turning a bit girlish but she's still pretty strong and in training. She's going back home and he'll travel to her for a bit now." He nodded at that, sitting at his own desk. Tony smiled. "Thanks." He got back to work cleaning up files. "Why do I have files related to a pedarest arrest, boss? I didn't handle this case."

"I don't know. They showed up on mine too."

Tony saved them to CD then deleted them. "That way there's no lost copy," he noted, writing that on the notes section of the case. Then he tossed it at McGee. "Since you know computer services better." He got back to work cleaning up the extra crap that had mysteriously appeared on his computer. He finally found a good reason for it and got Abby to fix it for him from the lab. She shut everything down, remotely, and reinstalled everything for him. "Boss, Abby's doing a full system restore since I had this problem with files that weren't mine appearing. Especially since it listed me on cases I was never on. Including a drug ring and a gay Airman arrest."

Gibbs looked at him. "Excuse me?"

"Abby saved it down. She's restoring my system. It'll take about an hour."

"That's fine. Any idea whose cases they were?"

"Nope. No clue." He pulled out the rule book to look something up and walked it down to the lab to show her. She smiled and filled out that form for him. By the time he came back, his system was working again. He sat down and she let his system go. "Done," he said. "Abby filled out the proper forms to note that it was not my case, had been put erroneously on my computer, and someone was going to get her foot up their asses for tampering, boss."

"That's fine. Any idea?"

"No. Who's the mustache gremlin down there?"

"Her new helper, Chip," McGee said. "Madam Director gave him to her."

"Huh. He looked familiar but I'm not sure from where. I know he ran from me when he saw me in the lab." McGee looked at him then got into his personnel files, tracking him back. Then he stomped off. "What?" he called.

"Stay," he ordered. "Boss, problems." Gibbs looked confused but followed. McGee filled him in during the ride down to the lab. Oh, someone was going to be*very* unhappy Tony had come back from vacation!

Tony got up to look at McGee's screen. "I remember that case," he said dryly, going back to his own computer. He stopped the file transfer someone was trying to do and turned it off, then called computer services to report he was being hacked after Abby had cleaned up his system earlier. He got a sigh but they saw her reports and came up to get into his system themselves. Yeah, someone wasn't going to be happy to have him back. Tony switched to McGee's desk for now. He filled out forms for them to report the incidence so they had all the documentation they wanted. The director was staring from the catwalk but oh well. Tony could ignore her. Before he took a page from Xander's book and had her committed somewhere as a danger to herself and others. Computer services finally got done and he got his desk back. He exchanged his keyboard for the forms. They smiled and walked off to write their reports. Tony sat down to a completely clean computer. He reloaded his backup CD of report files and that was all he needed to do. Abby came up. "Computer services just stopped a hack attack."

"I heard." She smiled at him. "You owe me lunch."

"Fine, I owe you lunch," he teased. "You can help me figure out a present for someone."

"Oooho, new friend?"

"Arranged but he's a friend," he said quietly." She blinked a few times. She knew about him so he smiled. "We found him."

"Oh, that's wonderful." She hugged him. "Good job, Tony." She beamed. "What do you need a present for?"

"Traditional present."

"Ah." She nodded. "What sort?"

"That I can show affection for my chosen one."

"Hmm. That might be difficult. Well, I'm a giant brain and you're pretty smart about those sort of things, so we'll figure it out. Have you told him yet?"

"No. Have you seen the fit?" he asked quietly.

"Good point. Tonight? Full disclosure?"

"Maybe." He spotted the director coming down the stairs and winked. "Where do I owe you lunch from?"

"Hmm. The vegetarian place and we can make it dinner?"

"That's not a bad choice," he decided with a smile. Gibbs stomped back into their row. "Boss, need my help yet?"

"No. He had plans to set you up for murder, DiNozzo."

"Huh. According to McGee's background check, he was discredited when I testified against him back in Baltimore."

"I heard that part." He stared at him. "You seem different."

"Vacations should relax you, boss." He glanced in the direction of the director, who was listening. Gibbs gave him a cue that he had seen it. "Abby says I owe her dinner from the vegetarian spot, boss. Want to eat with us later?"

"I might." He looked at the director. "We have a serious personnel problem, Director. That person you hired to help Abby has plans written out to accuse DiNozzo of murder." She flinched then stomped off.

"I wonder if that's in her plans," Tony said at a normal voice. "And if it is, why." Abby stared at him in awe. He smirked. "Xander had to have his brother committed."

"Why?"

"Draino on his steak."

"Eww."

"Very. Plus his past habits of hurting himself and others." He smirked. She smirked evilly back. She bounced off with Gibbs. He got back to his websurfing. He had no idea what to get Xander to prove he had affection for him.

***

Tony and Abby showed up at Gibbs' that night, finding him alone. "Boss?" he called. He came up the stairs. "We gotta talk. You're going to yell, maybe."

"Why would I yell, DiNozzo?"

"Because I'm about to tell you stuff that Morrow knew but you don't," he admitted. Abby got to work pulling the drapes. "Including that I'm not just Tony DiNozzo."

Gibbs stared at him. "I heard something cryptic about that." Tony released his illusion, letting his stripes out. Gibbs stared, mouth open. The coffee cup fell from his hand. "What the hell is that?" he barked.

"I was born with them. All my people are, Gibbs." He took off his shirt. "Also, fair warning, this spot on my stomach, if it's hit, it can kill me." He looked at him. "This isn't the end of the strange, but want her to get you a glass of bourbon, boss?"

"Put those away before someone sees." Tony muted them again. "How do you do that?"

"It's an innate gift," he admitted, putting his shirt back on. He smiled slightly. "What I am is also a guard for the one I went to visit," he said quietly. "I was chosen for that position at a very young age when we were still searching for him thanks to his brother." Gibbs nodded once. "I'm not his only guard. Two are Air Force, one's a detective, two are roaming hunters."

"Okay, go on," he said slowly. "And? This is important to tell me why now?"

"Well, my vacation was because we had found our prince." Gibbs nodded once at that. "With what I am, as his guard, it's my job to guard him for the length of our lives."

"It sounds like you're going to be married to him," he said bluntly.

"All of us. All six of us."

Gibbs took the bourbon from Abby and slugged it back, letting her pour him another. "Six of you?"

"Six guards plus Xander, yeah. Including me." He shrugged. "It's the way these things work, boss. So in six months I need about another two weeks free. We're still settling the final date."

"I ...see." He sipped this glass of bourbon slower but still downed the full thing and let Abby pour him another one. "When were you going to tell me this?"

"When I thought it would become pertinent. I wasn't going to admit to it before then, just in case we never found him and our people went to hell under his brother's mercies." Gibbs nodded once at that and took another sip of bourbon. "Xander had him committed for being suicidal since he was cutting himself and things. So no worries there for now, but it now becomes important that you know some things that're going to make this seem normal."

"Why?"

"Because I can't do my job with you if Xander's not known to you," he said bluntly. "And to do that I have to tell you stuff and show you stuff that you probably don't want to hear about. That way you know who I am more often." Gibbs nodded slowly at that. "Xander... well, to start with, he's twenty-two. He's from that town that fell in out in California."

Gibbs sat down, looking at him. "Are we talking freakish things that will make me get drunk?"

"Well, technically my people are considered a peaceful demon clan," he admitted. "We've produced a great many warriors and those who've kept the world moving when necessary. Xander was a demon hunter before then." Gibbs dropped that glass. Tony sat down, staring at him. "It's a long story, boss, and I need you to know now because it's important now," he said quietly.

"I agree, though I should've heard about this before now."

"Morrow knew."

"Why did he know?"

"Because he was on the last generation of search team," he said bluntly. "He thought it was fated to bring me onto the team. Thought it was funny too." He grinned slightly. "You can ask him about Xander. He was at the party to introduce him."

"Why wasn't he easily findable."

"His brother cursed him to live a human life and if he died, he died totally. Therefore giving him the power position."

"Magic," he snorted. Tony nodded. "Why?"

"Not much in our people, Gibbs. Hiding the markings, some transport spells in some of us. Some of us are very good warriors. Being a chosen guard for the search team means that I'm not bad but I'm not the best. You had to leave them at home to guard them."

"Are you honestly a DiNozzo?"

"By rebirth."

"I see."

"I was pretty young when chosen though." He shrugged. "I was looking like a good guard, I'd be about the same age as he was when he was found, all that. I'm a bit older, but all of us are. Except Sam, I think he's within months of his age." He stared at his boss. "I could also use a friendly ear since I'm about to be married to a guy who's never played before, and I'm not that learned in that area myself," he admitted. "Abby's good but I have to run things past a guy sometimes and have someone else to talk to."

"You also had to know in case he got seriously injured again," Abby reminded him. "Because now you'll know who to call and how."

"That's true," Tony agreed.

"Are you leaving NCIS after the wedding?"

"No. Xander wants us to do our normal jobs. Right now, he's training female hunters in Africa." He smiled. "For one of his traditional wedding gifts, another of us just got him a German Pinscher named Cane. She's an adorable dog and loves him already."

"That was probably the best present to give him," Abby agreed with a grin. "It gives him someone to fuss over, someone to help him hunt, and to be with him when he's lonely."

"Yup. Mine is to show him that I can hold affection for him."

"Jewelry?" he suggested.

"If he was a girl, yeah. Since he's not and he's kinda insecure about such things now and then, I think he'd run from it."

Gibbs got up to get more bourbon and gulp it down, looking at him as he poured another. "If the director hears, she'll fire you with prejudice. For multiple reasons."

"I know."

"You're willing to hide it? Most people can't hide being in love, DiNozzo. Or they're not really in love."

"I'll learn to love him, boss. Right now, we're moving into a comfortable friendship."

"That's not a bad idea since it's arranged." He sat down again. "You still should've told me sooner. What if it had mattered when you had the plague?"

"One of the nurses knew what I was," he admitted with a slight smile. "She kicked you all out to check my stomach pouch. It's basically an extra sexual organ, boss. It's just *real* sensitive to any shocks. We've seen people get hit there, without the protective covering, and die from a heart attack."

"I heard of someone dying when you kicked their balls too hard," Abby admitted.

"Same thing only about twice as sensitive."

Gibbs swallowed a small sip. "The cover?"

"Protective and takes a lot of shocks out."

"Good. At least that makes sense with that sort of weakness. Are you a sort of cat?"

"I think we're descended from one but no." He smiled. "No fur." He exposed them and got up to move closer. "The ethereal living beings say they can read our future in them." He shrugged. "We know they can be warped by some things." He pointed. "That one warped when I got the plague."

"Interesting." He gently touched a line with his finger. "It's like a tattoo."

"It is. Under the skin." He hid them again and sat back down.

"Did Kate know?"

"Hell no." He snorted. "Did you hear the fit and her calling me a demon every day?"

"No," he admitted. "McGee?"

"Nope. Abby found out somehow. Ducky knows about us, may know specifically about me. Morrow knew."

"So that's why you dated that way?"

"No. Because it's arranged, if I had a spouse then, I could still perform my duties and protect him. It would be our family sheltering under his protection. Basically she'd be a second spouse to us unless he married her directly to have someone female. One of the other guards has that going on."

"That's.... I guess a bit strange but it is an arranged marriage," Gibbs said. "Would that make you the wife?"

"No." He smirked. "I'm a husband."

"Oh." He took another drink. "Huh. You're still going to keep working?" Tony nodded. "Any other problems I should know about?"

"Frustration with the wedding coming up and I have no idea what to give him?" he suggested. "Plus, Xander's human parents... not great and alcoholics. He's been fighting out in Sunnydale since he was sixteen and now he's off training other fighters." Gibbs shuddered. "They were hunting the bad sort of demons, Gibbs. Not ones like I am. We're peaceful and actually helped stop a few apocalypses."

Gibbs held up a hand. "I don't want to know about that tonight." Tony nodded. "When do I get to meet him?"

"Whenever you want. I can call him to come visit for a night. Right now he's taking the slayers back to their native peoples so he can roam around and teach them. We had them brought to the palace to work with them but he was right, it was time for them to go home and get used to protecting their peoples."

"Good I guess." He drained that glass, staring at his senior agent. "Does this make you a better shot?"

"No. It means I can fight with a sword," he offered, grinning slightly. "It means I'm fairly stubborn."

"I knew that," he shot back. He looked at Abby. "How did you know?"

She grinned and kissed him on the forehead. "My maternal grandmother was a demon, Gibbs. She was one of the Big Brained ones."

"John's mate is one of them," Tony said with a smile.

"Really? I didn't think there were any full ones left."

"He's working on his project and he has a sister, who has a daughter with a normal human."

"Huh. I need to write John to introduce myself to him in case he needs help." She beamed at Gibbs. "They're really smart."

"Yes, McKay is," Tony said quietly, then shook his head quickly. "And snarky."

"Oooh! I heard about him," she said, looking awed. "That so figures!"

Tony nodded. "Yup, especially if you meet him." He pulled something out of his pocket and sent that message to John's specially charmed phone. Rosenburg had done it for them so they could rush back and protect Xander as she had put it. Apparently she didn't know how good Xander was at protecting himself. He put it back with a smile. "I told him."

"Cool beans." She smiled at Gibbs. "Want helped upstairs or down to the boat?"

"Boat," he said, letting her help him up. "We'll talk about him tomorrow night, DiNozzo."

"Sure, boss. Thanks for not shooting me."

Gibbs looked at him. "Don't give me a reason to." She helped him down to his recliner by the boat and they left. He heard them lock the door even, that was nice of them. He got another drink and thought. Demons and magic was going to drive him to stay drunk. He had to get over this revelation before it got him dead too.

***

John looked at his phone then at his coworker. "Abby, who works with DiNozzo, and is basically their whole lab, had a grandmother that you might've known," he said, putting it back.

"What's her last name?" he asked as he read.

"Scuito."

Rodney's head popped up. "Abby Scuito? Forensic tech?" John smiled and nodded. "Yes, my mother knew her grandmother. Tried to set up a breeding arrangement between us." He shook his head, going back to his book. "Where is she?"

"Tony's lab in DC." Rodney shot him a dirty look. "NCIS."

Rodney shook his head quickly. "I'll tell my sister so she can talk to her. It might help my niece." He got back into his book. They had a few hours before they could leave and it wasn't safe to have sex on the base. Others were too nosy. "What are you getting him for the present showing that you can provide for him?"

"I'm not sure yet. Maybe a fruit tree?"

"He's not settled down yet."

"Once he is, or if he sets up a training house, I might get him one for that. He was thinking about that but it'd mean he was too far away from things most of the time." Rodney nodded. "I don't know. I was going to ask Teyla's advice."

"How does she know?" Rodney demanded.

"Sparring practice," he said dryly. "Then she told Ronon." Rodney rolled his eyes and shook his head. "He finally quit giving me funny looks."

"That's what those were for," he realized, shooting him a dirty look of his own. "Maybe this will keep you from all those nice women who throw themselves at you?"

John smirked. "I was hoping you'd start to protect me from them," he said dryly. "Since they bother you so much."

"You are so getting it once we get back on the city," he hissed.

John smirked. "Sure, if you want."

"I don't mean that in a pleasant way, Sheppard."

"I'm sure you don't, McKay." Jack walked into the room they had decided to wait in, staring at them. "What? We're being good for once."

"No treat shopping in the base store?"

"I went to the grocery store," John said. "It's much cheaper, sir."

"Good point." He smirked at McKay. "Yours?"

"Mine's already on the ship since I wisely had it ordered."

"Hmm." He looked at John. "Which is yours?"

"Providing."

Jack grimaced. "If he was settled that'd be easier." John nodded. "Any ideas?"

"I'm going to ask Teyla."

Jack snickered. "Are you going to tell her why?"

"Nope. That will definitely change things. She decided my stomach sensitivity came from the bug."

"Oh." He nodded. "Decent cover story then. Cam's team is leaving for a while."

"That's the job and he agreed it was important."

"Yeah, he did." He smiled. "Remember to write if you need advice, Sheppard. After all, I got into all the trouble you're now getting into first with my anthropologist."

"Are you going to tell him, sir?"

"I'm not sure I want to survive that inquisition," he admitted, leaving them alone. "Danny," he called, spotting him. "Call me for beers when you get back." Danny smiled and nodded. Jack went back to his office. That had been a good reminder that he was now free to find his own mate and screw them into any convenient mattress. Jackson's questions would take years before they got into bed, but he was almost used to that. He could survive that he decided.

***

Gibbs walked past Tony the next morning. He didn't look hungover but Gibbs never did. Tony nodded at him from behind his monitor. "Case?" he asked.

"Computer services report on who got into my system. Not all of it was the troll down in the lab." He forwarded one of them. Gibbs read it over and glared. Tony shrugged and got back to it. "I don't know, boss, but it's starting to tickle that spot on the back of your neck that tells you a sniper is aiming for you."

"Mine too," he admitted. He printed it and put it aside. Tony had already printed his he was sure. In case the electronic copy got eaten mysteriously. "Have you talked to Morrow?"

"Yup. Last night. Told him I was back, all about the mental health warrant issue, all of that. He cackled long and hard over that."

"Why did he need one?" Tony tossed over his camera so he got into the pictures section. He shuddered. "The scarred troll?"

"Him." He smirked.

"Africa?" he asked quietly, tossing the phone back.

"That's one house." He shrugged and put it back into his pocket. "We have some in colder climates. Since he was there, his aunt moved most everyone there." He went back to his reading. He forwarded another report. "On the stuff that Abby pulled off and those cases I had been made part of, boss."

Gibbs read them and printed them then looked at him. "That's a dangerous allegation to make."

Tony stared at him. "Putting me in those files wasn't exactly ethical," he pointed out. "Or right."

"No, it wasn't." He heard the elevator up there ding and the director step off. "Looks like Ziva rode in with her."

"Maybe they shared the same broomstick," Tony muttered, earning a dirty look. "Morning, McGee," he said when he heard him come off the elevator. "Are you late?"

"Backed up line at the gate, boss." He put things down and logged onto his computer. He stared. "I think all the stuff from yours migrated, Tony."

"Possibly. I had computer services protect mine."

McGee called down there. "It's Tim McGee. I logged on and found things that shouldn't be on my computer." He hung up and the agents from yesterday came up to fix his system. That kept the chain of evidence intact in case it became a case. He saw the dirty looks and looked over their shoulder. "That's not my case. Boss, pedophile in the Pentagon?"

"I got that put onto mine too, and my name inserted into the case files," Tony said dryly. "I'm about to shoot the reason why."

"Give me one shot too," McGee complained.

One of the computer service agents looked at him. "It's against the law to threaten any federal agency director, Agent McGee. You should know that by now."

McGee grimaced. "No wonder. She put the other two on the computers that keeps them crashing." He printed out that file and walked off, going upstairs. "Excuse me, Madam Director?" He walked into her office with a grim look. "It was brought to my attention that someone is using your log-in to falsify case records and then insinuate them onto agents' systems. I thought you should know that since one of the cases they're contaminating is a pedophile that's presently appealing his case. If his lawyer finds out, it will lead to a more successful appeal. I'm sure none of us want that so I thought you'd like to know so you can stop whatever hacker that is." He handed over the forms. "That's the copy that got sent to my system last night so you can have someone track it back." He left. "Ziva, boss is in."

The director huffed. "How dare he," she muttered.

Ziva stared at her. "I would not like that sort to go free either. I would have to shoot him if he got free." She left. She found Tony at his desk. "When did you get back?"

"Yesterday, since you apparently had it off," he said dryly. "I spent most of the day with those same charming computer service techs who got the same hacked stuff off *my* system. By the way, his lawyer has heard. I have a very nice email from his lawyer saying he has a warrant, boss." He forwarded it. "If he's not lying, that would give him the right to look at all those hacked files and send it to the other lawyers involved."

"I doubt he has one, DiNozzo."

One of the computer geeks shook his head. "No, Agent Gibbs, he presented it to us this morning. We had to comply." Gibbs moaned. "We did include the reports we sent to Agent DiNozzo about where the hacking had come from and all that so it could be checked over. The lawyer did not look pleased to have to do his job however," he finished more quietly.

"A lawyer with ethics, who would've thought," McGee said dryly. "That means he'll probably have one for mine as well."

"Probably but it's all for the same log-in, McGee."

McGee smirked at him. "I told her how her log-in had been hacked." They all smirked and got back to work. That would let her cover her ass and she knew that they knew it wasn't a hacker. That would be stopped soon then. They finished stripping his system and let him reload all his own software since he was more than able to do that on his own.

"I want those reports as well," Gibbs said.

"The ones from yesterday are in your inbox, Gibbs," one told him as they walked off. "These will be in there by tomorrow morning."

"Thank you." He looked at his two male agents. They both looked back and shrugged. "Reload anything that needs to be done and then go get coffee." They nodded and McGee let that copy while they went to get coffee and complain somewhere the new director couldn't hear. He didn't want to prompt Tony to do anything strange that he might not have told him about. He did call Morrow. "Should've told me about him, Tom." He hung up and got back to his own reports. "Officer David, do we have anything?"

"No, not at the moment." She searched her computer for more spyware than had been there. She disabled the new tracking software and it crashed her computer. She didn't even have to call, she had a sighing computer services geek up there before she could pick up the phone. She smiled and got out of his way. She had no idea what to do about such things. Gibbs stared at her. "Tracking software I found."

"While you're at it, please scan mine and end any on there too," Gibbs ordered. "I'm going to the lab."

"Sure, Gibbs." He got back to work on her machine. For some reason she didn't have half the problems that McGee's system had and maybe a third of DiNozzo's. Well, it seemed the new director did play favorites after all.

***

Xander walked the girls into the first village, smiling at the old woman who was staring oddly at them. "I brought her back since she's ready to take over again. I'll travel between them."

"That's a wonderful idea, Watcher." She went to find the girls' mother since it was milking time. "Your daughter is back." She hurried to meet her so the old woman took over the chore for her.

Kuria smiled at her mother. "I'm back."

"I can see and you've gotten different clothes."

"Buffy, the senior slayer, gave me this outfit." She ran a hand over it. "It's what American girls wear."

Xander nodded, but then shook his head quickly. "Buffy relates best to other girls by popular things."

"That is fine. She can add some fabric so the skirt is not too short." She pulled her daughter closer to look her over. "How did the training go?"

"She did wonderfully," Xander assured her with a grin. "She beat the guards around us a number of times. She was actually second-best in hand-to-hand." He patted the back of another girl. "She picked up some special moves that seem to work very well against them."

"That is good." She looked her daughter over then at Xander. "Can she still marry?"

"Yes, but I wouldn't suggest children without a plan in place to protect her." Her mother grimaced but nodded. "You know how your body changes while pregnant. There's many who would see that as being vulnerable. As long as she takes good precautions there's not going to be a problem. Let me know if she does and I'll do my best to hover around her as well."

Kuria grinned at him then at her mother. "His guards are very pretty."

"It's arranged, Kuria."

"I know." She beamed at her mother. "He'll be married off to his guards soon until he can find a wife to bear him children."

"Why?" she asked.

"So I don't get attacked," Xander sighed. "They told me that night." Kuria's mother shook her head. "The girls are invited, there shouldn't be anything too radical there outside of my six guards all being male and me having to find a wife sometime in the future."

"We'll see," her mother assured him with a faint smile. "No wife at home?"

"I'm over here grieving for my former fiancee. She died in the battle that sank our town."

"Oh. I'm sorry."

He shrugged. "Everyone loses people they loved. I'll find another wife some year."

She nodded. "That is a good thing then." She gave her daughter a hug. "What else did you learn?" She walked her off. "Are you staying, Xander?"

"No, we're moving on today. We're going to be at Pua's village tonight." She gave him an odd look and he grinned. "We will."

"If you're sure. We're pretty far away."

He winked. "It's already sure." He checked his dog, who was laying down in his shadow. "Maybe I'll think about getting a Range Rover or something to travel in so we don't have to walk."

"Will Cane be able to do all that walking?" Kuria asked him.

"She's got a lot of energy and I figure she can as long as I take good breaks a few times a day," Xander said. "If not, I'll arrange something."

"Good," the girls agreed. Xander waved at Kuria. "I'll be back in a few weeks as I head north to Siva."

The girls all smiled at him. The guards appeared and got them to Pua's village. Kuria's was a bit more conservative, which Xander knew, so he wouldn't want to bother them. Pua's parents welcomed all the girls and him like long-lost children. Cane got mobbed by the village children to pet and Xander tossed a ball for her. The kids cheered when she caught it mid-air and brought it back. They tossed it for her until she got tired of it so the adults could talk.

Pua talked about her training and the palace, plus the guards that totally spoiled them with sparring times. Her parents and the village elders all were happy with how good she had done. They had a good dinner and the girls settled in Pua's room to spend one last night together and talk about the other slayers Xander had taken them to meet with Pua's mom. They got the dog too because she decided to come cuddle for a bit. She even was nice enough to get the snake that was trying to sneak in through an open window. She brought it back to daddy, making him coo and pet her.

***

John looked up as the guard appeared near him and Rodney. "What's up?" he asked quietly.

"A suggestion was made. Cane probably can't walk as long as her master can," he said.

Rodney smirked. "That is a good thing to plan for." He looked at John.

"Range Rovers would work, right?"

The guard nodded, handing over a booklet. "From a speciality company in Dubai, John." He winked and left to finish his shift watching over the girls and his prince, plus the dog. She was an adorable helper.

John looked at the brochure, nodding. "That would prove I can provide for him." He called and made arrangements, getting suggestions from Dean and Sam by text from Rodney's phone. The specialty custom-design company's rep understood exactly what he wanted when he told him who it was for and that it was for his future spouse as a pre-wedding present. Mentioning Xander's name meant that he had suggestions for weapons too. He arranged for the payment and it was done. It'd be delivered soon. With a card from John since he had to leave in a few hours. John hung up and relaxed, grinning. Rodney smirked. "That was an excellent idea."

"Did you pick a color he'll enjoy?" Rodney teased.

"Sand. It'll fit in and be a bit camouflage."

Rodney snorted, going back to his book. John took it to read the dust cover summary. Rodney took it back with a grunt of complaint but oh well.

***

Xander came out of Pua's the next morning, finding a demon he didn't know waiting on him next to a large wooden box. "Good morning," he greeted quietly. Cane padded out to sit beside his ankle. "Heel, Cane. He might not be dangerous." He looked at the demon.

"No, Lord Xander, I'm not dangerous. I'm a delivery person," he said with a happy smile. He handed over the card. "From your future spouse John."

Xander opened the card to look, sniffling. "Awww. He got me something to help on my trip." He looked at the box. "What is it?"

He handed him a hammer. "We figured the locals could use the cheap wood for fires or something," he said, nodding at Pua's father since he was in the doorway.

Xander opened the back panel and gasped. "Is that.... Are there gas stations out here?"

"It runs on a solar battery," he explained, coming back to help him open the rest of the container. "Those shiny things on top are the recharge panels and the antenna so you can use your satellite phone, plus the radio, sir." He helped him remove the panels and smiled. "It's already charged. It's a model we mostly keep on hand. We had to up the hunting cabinets and install some foam holders, but the rest was standard. He said you'd worry about the cost but that he had it to spare and that it was mostly a standard package."

Xander hugged him. "Thank you. Is John...."

"He's went back to work already I'm told." He opened the trunk to show him the hunting cabinet. "We left some free for your own weapons. Underneath the back seat and this level is a large compartment in case something...large was needed to be carried. Or you had to evacuate someone without border guards knowing," he finished more quietly. He handed over the keys with a smile. "We pre-programmed the satellite radio with rock stations from California. She's also got a special safety harness in the back if necessary." He showed him. Cane hopped up to sniff, barking at him, wagging her tail as she laid down.

Xander cooed and petted her. "I'm very happy with this." He smiled at the demon. "It means she doesn't have to wear herself out walking and we can keep food in her."

"We threw in a large bag of dog food as well. John told us what breed she was for the harness. It's a good brand for her breed and activity level." Xander beamed at him. "Happy travels, sir." He nodded at the watching people and disappeared.

Xander smiled at his girls. "Come see. This is John's pre-wedding present." They came to look over everything. One of them found the dog food and poured out a generous bit for the dog, who scarfed it. Xander added some water once he found the pull-down bowl for her. The girls all cooed and patted it. "I think it was a great gift."

"It was," Pua's mother agreed, coming over to look. "Husband?"

"It's to protect him," Pua told her. "Until he can find a wife, his guards will be his spouses to make sure no one can hurt him."

"I've seen others who did that," she promised with a smile.

"The girls are all invited when we do it in about six months," Xander assured her. She beamed at that, hugging her daughter. "Well, this will definitely help me a lot, make faster trips too." The girls all cheered. He grinned. "Pua, keep practicing."

"I am," she promised. "Be safe and happy travels, Xander." She gave him a hug. The other girls got into the back and he tooted as he drove off. "I want a husband who has to give me presents like that," she told her mother.

"Then you would need to be adopted, daughter."

"I know but it's very good of his husband. A way to show he cares and can provide for his spouse. Cane was a gift from one of the others - to protect him."

"Hmm. She's a good one." She smiled at the others standing around. "The delivery demon said we can burn the wood for whatever we need." They smiled and gathered the wood sheets. They could use them in a few different ways. Pua and her parents went to talk to the other elders so they could tell Pua what needed to be done around the village to help protect them.

***

Tony hung up and groaned, shaking his head. "Boss, I need advice pretty soon on that present."

"Why?"

"John had his delivered today. It's a Range Rover that runs on solar power, has a built in recharger on the roof, and a hunting cabinet."

Ziva stared at him. "Why do you need such presents?"

"Tony needs to deliver one in a few weeks," Gibbs told her. "Don't worry about it." He looked at Tony. "Which one?"

"John. Providing for."

"Hmm. Interesting. Keeps the dog from hiking all over Africa with him too." He considered it. "We'll figure that out after work, DiNozzo." He got back to work on the wrap-up of the case. That was a seriously nice present for an arranged marriage. More than he'd expect. "What sort of hunting cabinet?"

"Special inserts, some new weapons, all hidden in the back."

"Where is he?" McGee demanded, looking at him. "What is he hunting? Dinosaurs?"

"He's training some people in Africa, Probie." McGee shuddered. "Protectors but younger ones who're related to his calling." He looked at the curious looking Ziva. "He started in Algeria and moved south. The one furthest south is in Botswana. He's responsible for training eight girls. He walked all the way down to all but one of them before he had to take a break and they got brought to him where he was breaking."

"He walked three-quarters of the length of Africa?" McGee asked, looking amazed. "How? And how long did it take him?"

"Seven months so far and he was motivated to find them." He leaned back in his desk chair. "He did take some trains when they were available but they're not all over that area."

"Did he walk straight down?" Gibbs asked.

"No. I saw some of his travel pictures. He has some from the weekend he spent on the Ivory Coast beach with his trainee there talking to some people who fish."

"That is a lot of walking," Gibbs said patiently.

"Yup, but he was grieving for his lost former fiancee when he left to go training. She had fallen about three weeks earlier."

"Fallen?" Ziva asked.

"He's from that town out west that fell in," he told her. "She died in that."

"Oh. I'm sorry, that seemed horrible."

Tony nodded. "It was." He looked at Gibbs. "The dealer even put in a bag of dog food for Cane."

"I heard he got one."

"Cane's a fawn colored German Pinscher, boss. She's very sweet, but hell on toys. The girls all played her into naps each day." He found a picture and showed it to him with a grin. "That's the day after he got her."

"She's a pretty dog." He handed it back with a small smirk. "I'm sure she loves him."

"She's even trained to help him." He sat down again, putting the picture away again. "The others still have to deal with their portion soon and I have to find someone to do my outfit," he muttered, getting online to find someone.

Gibbs stared at him. "Not a tux?"

"No, boss, not a tux."

"Anything strange?"

"His people are more Indian leaning."

"Huh." He got back to work. "We'll talk after work, DiNozzo. I'm sure Abby could help with the clothing stuff." He wrote her an email too. Then he went back to his paperwork. Gibbs mentally shook his head. DiNozzo was turning into a twittering future husband; it was something he didn't think he'd do for an arranged marriage. Not that he had considered him the sort to accept an arranged marriage. He thought he'd never see DiNozzo settle down at all actually. Yeah, the guy clearly needed help. "DiNozzo, paperwork. Worry later."

"I am, boss. I'm trying to figure out how to describe the chase through the hospital." He got back to typing. It had been a short case with an insane chase. Thankfully not after an all-nighter.

***

Dean hung up and grunted, grimacing. "John showed his wallet and ass."

Sam looked over at him. "How?"

"His present was a solar powered Range Rover."

"Awww. I'm sure Xander's nearly sniffling. That's a great present. I hope it has a/c."

"Probably since he said it had a satellite radio."

Sam grinned. "Probably then." He went back to his reading of the local paper. "This ghost seems to be pretty predictable."

"Good." He came over to look at the research they had gathered. Hopefully it'd be an easy case. They didn't need bruised right now. Xander might be upset and try to help. He wasn't trained for ghosts, just demons.

***

Don hung up from the shared call and sighed, shaking his head. "Stella, I need help," he said quietly, looking at her across the scene.

"With what, Don?"

He pouted. "You know..." He looked around. "Later? Dinner? I'll buy?"

"Sure." She smiled. She'd get the full story out of him later and they'd see what he needed help with. He was nearly pouting so it was probably something with his current girlfriend.

***

Cam's magic-rigged phone rang, which shocked the hell out of his teammates. He pulled it out to check then answered. "Yeah?" He walked off smiling. The joint-call from Xander was happy making. He was going to kick John around for going that expensive and showy for his present but it made him happy that someone had thought about that and the dog's welfare. He hung up as he walked back.

"How are you getting a cellphone signal on a planet that doesn't even have electricity!" Sam Carter demanded, snatching it to look over.

"It's special," he said, taking it back and putting it into his pocket. "It's experimental. I'm trying it out with a few others." He saw the other funny looks and grinned. "What?"

"You're not telling us something," Daniel noted.

"Yeah but it's personal." He walked off, hiking his backpack up higher again as he walked. "Come on, kids. We've got to finish this trade deal."

"Who called?" Sam demanded, stomping after him.

"Xander." He smirked. "Jack, John, and McKay all know him. That was actually about a present John got him."

"John Sheppard?" Daniel asked to make sure.

"Yeah. Longer than average story but I think Jack was going to tell you about that, Jackson." He grinned and put on his sunglasses. They freaked out the locals but it would keep the people on his team from being too nosy. Even Vala, who was the Queen of Nosy when she wanted to be. He fully expected to wake up tied up so she could interrogate him once they got back home. So he needed a short downtime when they got back, until they had calmed down. And Jack had told the General.

***

Vala looked at Cam later that night. She was on guard and he was trying to pretend to be asleep. "So this Xander?" she asked quietly, moving closer to him.

"You're supposed to be on watch, Vala, not talking," he complained quietly.

"Have I met Xander?"

"No."

"Are you sure?" He stared at her. She stared back. "You are not the same as you were before your vacation."

"True. Things happened then."

She tipped her head to the side. "I remember when you were sick and the things that came out," she said.

He grunted and flipped onto his side facing away from her. "So?"

"Does it have to do with that?"

"No comment."

"Fine." She went back to her position to watch for attacks. It was an important job but she had quit a puzzle to think on. Cam was not the sort to share but she would get it out of him, one way or another.

***

Jack looked at his replacement general once he was in the office. "Hank, we've got to talk."

"Why?"

"Because some things are... different than you think."

"Would this be about the marks you're not hiding very well today?"

Jack looked then nodded, strengthening his hiding. "Yup." He got comfortable, passing over a computer CD. Hank Landry ran the program, looking it over. Finally he stared at him. Jack smirked a bit. "Yeah, it's important but more secret than our program."

"You're....."

"Born from them."

"Are you the only one?"

"No." He crossed his feet. "Technically, those of us who're here are reborn. We were born to humans on purpose."

"I saw that myth. I think someone else saw that myth on another planet." He found it and handed it over.

Jack read it over, but nodded. "Yeah, they're a realm, not a planet." He tossed it back. "Those of us who were chosen to be reborn...."

"So you were reborn human but the marks come out?"

"And a few other things. Frasier knows. She has known. She probably told Lam."

"Okay." He considered it. "Are you one of the guards?"

"For the last go-round he had. This time's.... not me. I'm going to tell Jackson later though."

"Sheppard?" he asked calmly. "His ATA gene is nearly as strong as yours."

"Yup. Mitchell too. McKay is... related but not quite the same."

"Okay," he decided, thinking about that. "Would that be why Sheppard and McKay are so tight?"

"No, that's them being them." He grinned.

"This myth...."

"His name is Xander."

"Ah. So he's found."

"He is in Africa right now thanks to his town falling in after an apocalypse."

Hank considered that information. "All right. Cam Mitchell's last leave paperwork mentioned going to check on a friend named Xander Harris."

"Yes, it did."

"Ah." He looked up that name and snickered. He turned his computer monitor to let him see the 'do not approach' rating. "How?"

"He was part of a group that took out an NID related project of hell." He shifted. "He's a nice kid. Twenty-three in a few weeks."

"That's pretty young for that."

"He's been doing it since he was sixteen."

"Poor kid. Is he being recruited?"

"No."

"Then why tell me?"

"Did you finish the rest of the story?"

"How, at the end his guards.... Oh, shit," he said, staring at his boss, who nodded. "You?"

"No."

"Them?"

"They are his guard, it is arranged, and they cannot be outed," he said quietly. "In any manner."

"Then I'd make Sheppard be meaner to McKay ," he complained quietly. He leaned back. "When?"

"Six months. He has no idea what to do and he's insistent that they stay doing the important work we do. He's heard rumors about our project and told Cam and John that what they do is too important."

Hank Landry relaxed some at that admission. "That's good."

"But in six months.... They'll have to be here for a few weeks. So schedule some meetings?"

"I can do that. Are you going?"

"Hell yeah."

"Good. Am I going?"

"If you want. Cam did suggest that you meet Xander so you don't have to worry about him."

"I might like that."

Jack grinned. "They're doing the pre-wedding presents right now. Cam got him a dog named Cane."

Landry smiled. "Really?"

"She's trained to hunt demons with him."

"Doesn't that bother..."

"Our people are phenomenal warriors, Hank. We've stopped apocalypses. We've helped past slayers. He helps a slayer and is training some in Africa. He's still a bit confused about what to do with a husband but he'll work it out quickly enough that night." He scratched behind his ear. "I might bring Danny with me. He would probably like to witness it. It's his thing."

"Sure," Hank agreed. "Is that why Sheppard called someone?"

"Probably. He had to arrange his own present." He called the kid. "Xander, Jack. How's it going?" He listened, grinning. "That's one hell of a present, yeah. That's wonderful, kid. No, I'm going to tell my anthropologist buddy once he gets back. They're off but write him an email and he can get it in a few days." He smirked. "It's wonderful. Thanks, kid. Be careful and safe. Call if you need more help." He hung up. "Sheppard's present is a special Range Rover," he told him.

"That's practical."

"Solar powered."

"Even more practical in Africa." He smiled. "My wife would've killed for one." He leaned back, relaxing. "As long as it doesn't happen on base, I can't really complain. I won't bust them with the DADT regs either."

"Thanks." He stood up. "We wanted to make sure of that."

"I still want to meet the kid, make sure he's not a threat."

"If he was, it's Cam's job to distract him." He stared him down.

"Good to know." Jack smiled and left, going back to his office. Hank Landry considered this enigma. He really had to look up this kid in a way that wouldn't get notice from others in the military or the government. This was possibly more screwed up than aliens wanting to kill them.

***

Xander delivered the other girls and started back to visit them in reverse. Kuria was going to freak out over his present. She had only seen them from the traveling doctors. He stopped at each village on the way there, making sure no one had any problems. Of course he ran into some but he could handle them. Mostly. He got banged up on one but Cane was a lot of help because the demon gave her odd looks, which meant Xander had the time to blow his head off with his new shotgun.

They sat there and panted, watching the body to make sure it wasn't going to regenerate while they calmed down. He petted his best friend while she leaned against him, giving him an occasional lick to the cheek to make sure he was all right. Xander looked at her. "Someday we'll be too old for this," he told her. "I guess then, we'll get a vacation, huh? Maybe have some puppies? Your puppies, my puppies? They can play together?" The dog licked him again. "Yeah, I know. My puppies would be strange to look at because I am."

He stood up with a groan, staring at the demon. No regeneration so he poured lighter fluid on him and set him on fire. He looked around, noticing a few eyes in the dark. "Car," he ordered. The dog ran for the open door and leapt inside. Xander backed up slowly, looking around. "All right, who are we?" he called. He heard a growl. "Shit." He reloaded the shotgun and closed the back door.

The passenger's side door wasn't open and was actually locked. His door on the driver's side was open so he carefully moved around with his back to the hood. One of the beasts growled and came into the dim firelight. Xander growled back. It leapt and he shot it. He moved faster, back still to the car. He checked the dog, but she was fine. There was netting up so she couldn't be bounced around and he couldn't distract himself by reaching back to pet her while driving. He made it to the door and had to kick it shut when the next thing leapt to get inside.

Another shot, another dead beast. He shifted to the right side of the door opening. He reopened it one-handed and guarded it before sliding in. One of them managed to get his leg before it got pulled into the safely and he yelled, slamming the butt of the gun into its head. He pulled his leg in and shut the door, panting. He checked, Cane was staring at him. "I know. It sucks." He reloaded the shotgun and took off his shirt to wrap around the bite marks.

He saw a human walking his way and the beasts ran back to him. "Aww, they're owned." He got out, limping over, shotgun in his hand. "Your fucking beasts attacked me."

"You took out our protector," he said snidely. "Eat him, children." Xander shot the others of them snarling at him. "How dare you!" He lunged but Xander slammed the gun into his face, making him fall down. "You have no right!" he panted.

Xander stared at him. "I have every right to defend myself against your beasts," he sneered.

"You got attacked because you took out our protector!"

Xander stared at the burning pile of demon then at him. "He was bothering innocents."

"So!"

Xander kicked him in the chest, making him keen. "So? So? So how about this?" He kicked him again. "You don't bother innocents and not get a slayer or a knight up your ass." He kicked him again, sensing someone else was coming toward them. "You'd better hope like hell they're less whiny than you." He turned to look at the female warrior. "Are you going to whine at me too?"

"You owe us a forfeit for shooting our beasts. We choose yours."

Xander shot her in the stomach. "No. You can't have my wedding present." He let his stripes out. "Your demon thug was bothering the local village." She gasped at him. "It is *my* job to train the local slayers and to help them protect the normals. Your thug took out a quarter of the local villages." He stared at her. "You come near me, them, or my dog and I will make your whole species sorry. I will call every single slayer down on your people," he sneered, moving closer. "I'd fucking move territories." She pulled herself back away from him, looking scared. "Am I understood?"

"You're one of them?" she begged.

"I'm Xander," he said smugly, sneering at her. "I'm the Slayer's Knight." She moaned, whimpering and looking at the other hunter, then beyond him. Xander looked. "Hey, guys. We're having a polite talk about how I'm going to ruin them for taking out a quarter of the normals around here." He glared at her. "Take your other bitch and go, lady. Now." She whimpered. "Call your buddies to help you," he said, leaning on the hood. She whistled and other demons came out and grabbed her then the other and ran off into the brush. Xander looked at the guards. "Can you guys help me bandage my leg?" He limped to the back gate and pulled it down, sitting on it to pull up his pantsleg. The guards came closer slowly. "I'm not in a bad mood. Just doing what was necessary."

"Their bites can be dangerous," one of them said, coming over to help him. "We can ask the doctors to look at it."

Xander looked then pulled out a vial and poured it over the bites with a hiss and a wince. "Herbal drool and germ killer." He tossed it into the case and pulled out bandages. "Kuria's not too far from here. Her mom will help me bandage it if it gets infected," he promised with a slight grin. "I had worse than this on patrol, really."

"Don't say that. Our queen will go destroy those that hurt you."

Xander patted him on the arm. "I'm a hunter, guys. We get banged up. It'll be fine." They nodded and helped him bandage it. He relaxed once they were done and looked at them. "I don't want anything to happen to them unless they get pushy," he said quietly. "As long as they leave and don't bother anyone else, I'm good with their continued pouting."

The guards all nodded. "That is reasonable, Lord Xander," the head guard said quietly. "Are you sure? The doctor will yell if you don't let her look at it. She does at your future husband Cam and his people."

"It's cool. I'll be home in a few days." They nodded and smiled, disappearing to report. Xander got out and closed the back gate then got in to drive. Kuria's mother probably still hated him for the upcoming marriage but Kuria would help him if no one else would. He didn't want to have to run home to anyone about a little bite mark.

***

Xander parked and got out, looking at Kuria's mother. "I'm here to check on her. How is she?"

"She moved in with her new spouse but they do not believe in protectors, Xander."

Xander stared at her. "How can you not believe?"

"They will not allow it."

"You know this means they're at risk for attack, right?" She nodded. "Do they?"

"They do not believe."

He sighed. "Where?"

"I cannot let you bother her. It will hurt her. They could track you because of what you are."

Xander stared at her, shaking his head. "My people have fought battles for years helping people. We've stopped apocalypses and all that, the same as the slayers have."

"She will not see you."

Xander snorted. "Uh-huh. Well, that's great, but I just took out something that was heading this way last night." She gaped. "It had already hurt seven villages on this road. How is she going to defend herself from that?"

"Her husband will protect her."

Xander snickered. "She can beat most any warrior. That's what slayers are."

"Still, he will protect her. They will have nothing to do with you." She walked off.

Xander rolled his eyes and got back into the Range Rover, heading off to follow the tracking device he had on her. Her phone registered back in her home village but the dot was up the road. Unfortunately he had met that village in the past. He'd wait until dark. He parked and checked his bite wound then got Cane to help track her after everyone in the village was asleep. He woke her with a small nudge and a nod, getting a grateful smile and her following him. Cane growled and he turned to punch someone. "I'm a Watcher," he told him.

"You're a demon!" he shouted.

"I'm a Bat'then," he corrected. The man gaped and backed up. "She's my student and you're keeping her from her duties."

"Her mother did not tell us." He looked down.

"I don't mind her being married if she doesn't, but I won't let you hurt her. If you hurt her, I'm going to repay it. We're going to talk. I'm out in the treeline. Cane." The dog followed, making sure no one touched them. No one else in the village woke up so he had done a good job. He got her into the Range Rover, watching her look around it. "John's present," he said quietly. Cane hopped up to lick her and get petted. "You good?"

"My mother had me married off to stop my gifts," she told him.

"I'll talk with the village elders or your new father-in-law tomorrow." She relaxed. "If you wanted to be normal, I'd help you. There's ones to fill in for you until you're attacked personally."

She shrugged. "I do not know."

"I know, sweetheart." He patted her on the cheek. "Sleep in the backseat." She nodded, climbing back there with the dog. Cane would protect her even if Xander napped too. She got comfortable and he tossed a folded up space blanket back for her. "There's a bottle of water too." He handed one back. She smiled and sipped. "Did you eat tonight?"

"Yes. They didn't starve me, just treated me like I was a cow."

Xander snorted. "You're not a cow, Kuria. If we have to, you can travel with me." She smiled, settling in to pet the dog and nap. He tipped the seat back some, pulling out a booklight and a book to read. When daylight started to come up he checked himself in the mirror and looked back at her. She was awake. He smiled. She got out, letting the dog mark the bushes. He followed, gun on his hip, dagger at his back. They walked back to the edge of the village. Kuria's mother and father were there. She snubbed her family by turning away. She led him to her father-in-law. "I'm her training Watcher," he said in the local language. "Xander Harris. I helped the slayers Buffy, Kendra, and Faith." The man stared, mouth open. "This is my trainee."

The older man stared at him then at her. "Her mother claims that this is all a fantasy of hers." Kuria picked up a thick piece of wood and broke it bare-handed. He swallowed. "I see. She is strong. This will probably not be a happy and productive marriage?" he asked Xander.

"That's up to her. There's more than one called right now due to a very bad battle that nearly ended everyone." He pointed at his eyepatch. "I lost that due to her minion." The old man nodded at that. "If she wishes to be married, that is up to her. I would warn that any children she wants to have will need her to be specially guarded. That way nothing can attack her."

He nodded at that, looking at his wife. They talked and looked at the girl. The mother stepped forward. "You are not happy," she said.

"Because of my mother. I was not ready to be a wife yet. I have much to learn and you told me I could not protect here."

She considered it. "We would welcome the protection. We have heard that things happened to some local villages."

"Yeah, it's gone," Xander assured her. "Very tall, green, banged them against trees?" She nodded, clasping her hands together tightly. "I killed it and burned it the night-before-last."

She smiled. "Thank you."

"It is what I do."

"He is not like us," Kuria's mother shouted.

Xander looked at her. "I told them that already." He looked at her. "Technically I'm one of the striped ones reborn."

She smiled. "You are a good fighter?"

"Pretty good but I learned fighting demons on the thin spots that draw bad things to them. I grew up on one." She moaned. He smiled. "She knows her sister slayers and protectors. I made sure of it. That way she knows if she wants time to be a happy wife, she only has to guard this local area. There are others in the surrounding countries to help her."

The old woman smiled at that and nodded, motioning Kuria's husband forward. "You may not have children for a while."

"If she wishes, I'll check on her more firmly and be around a lot more often to check on her," Xander promised him.

"She is truly a protector?" She pointed at the broken wood. He nodded at that.

Xander pointed. "That will be you if you ever hurt her," he promised. "Think of me like a fond uncle to her. One who will make sure that she is happy and treated well." The younger man nodded at that, smiling some. He looked at the mother. "As I'm sure you had brothers to do."

"I did. They did much the same sort of threat." She looked at the dog. "You have a beast?"

"This is Cane. She was a present from ... well... my guards are arranged to marry me to protect me," he said quietly. "In about five months." She smiled and patted him on the wrist. "Cane was a present from one."

"More than one?" Kuria's husband asked. "Can I do that, Father?"

"If this one falls to protecting us, then you can remarry," he said firmly. Xander grinned at that. "I know some do."

"I've met some that have," he agreed. "As long as they're happy I don't care who marries who as long as they're old enough and consent." He shrugged. "It is not my business."

"That is a wise thought," the mother agreed. She smiled at Kuria. "She is a very nice girl."

"She is. She's a very good fighter too." He grinned at her. "I show up every few months to check on her and if she needs me, I gave her a phone to get in touch with me. I think her parents still have it though."

"I will get it from them," her husband assured him.

She smiled. "Then we will work this out." She nodded at the two older men who were walking their way. "Xander, these are the local elders."

"Elders," Xander said, bowing to them. "I'm Xander Harris, her training Watcher."

They stared at him. "You are striped."

"I'm reborn."

"You are the one they were looking for."

"I am." He grinned. "I'm also her trainer."

"Your people are said to be good fighters," the other said. He looked at Kuria then at him. "She is a chosen hunter?" Xander nodded. "There are others though."

"Yes, due to a very bad apocalypse, one that sucked in the town where I lived and fought, a witch called more of the girls into duty."

"It was necessary?" the one who knew he was a demon asked. Xander nodded, removing his eyepatch. He hissed and winced. "I see."

"One of her minions." He put it back on and adjusted it. Kuria shifted it some for him. "Thank you, dear."

"You're welcome, Xander." She smiled and looked at them. "Xander has made sure I can protect those around me if necessary."

"Will this hurt her marriage?" one of the older women in the village asked.

"If she wants children she'll have to be careful. Make sure she'll be safe if something thinks she's vulnerable. Carrying a child changes how you stand, how you sit, how you walk, all that." The old woman nodded. "Other than that, if she wants to have children that is between her and her husband. I would welcome seeing any little mudcrawlers she gives birth to." He smirked at her. "Like your sister was when I first met her." She giggled. The old woman snickered too. "If she does get pregnant, I'll be around more often to protect her or she can get one of the other girls in the duty to help her."

"That is a sensible idea," the old woman said, looking at her. "But you should probably wait for a year or so, child."

"If possible I would like that. Xander taught me to read." The elders all smiled at her. "I have much I can learn to help my new family."

"Of course you can," Xander agreed. "Including some books on healing. That way you learn how to stitch and bandage."

The old woman beamed at him. "We have one who does but he is getting old. If she wishes to learn, that is something we would welcome."

"I can get her books that doctors learn from," Xander promised. "Have the traveling doctors talk to her as well." They all smiled at that. "That would at least be good enough to help with the minor things and keep someone until they could get him to a real doctor. Since I'm sure she won't leave the village long enough to go to medical school to get formal education."

"No, that would leave them vulnerable," Kuria assured him.

Her mother-in-law smiled and hugged her. "I would welcome that being a skill you learn, Kuria." Xander went back to the car and came back with a pack, handing it over. "You do not need it?"

"She can learn to change bandages when I change mine later," he said with a smile. "I got a bite." They all stared. He showed them. "From the people of the demon that was hurting those villages." He looked at the elders. "Her parents have a satellite phone that has my number programmed in so she or anyone who needs it can reach me if there's problems. I'd come as soon as I could or send her help."

"We will get that from them," the elders agreed. "Thank you. Are you here to train her more?"

"To check on her, make sure she's fine. I ran into her mother last night." They all smiled. "So I snuck in last night to talk to her and get her to safety so we could talk this morning."

"We agree," her father-in-law said. "Though I think she may try to claim your dog."

"No, she knows Cane's mine but if Cane ever has puppies, my slayers would be able to ask for one once they were trained." They all smiled. "Now, let's sit down so I get to know her husband and new family?" They all nodded and went to the family home. Xander and Cane sat down to teach her how to change bandages and check wounds for infection then they ate and talked the rest of the day.

***

Xander sighed as he walked into the palace. It was his weekend off. The girls could call. He ran into the short, redheaded doctor who was scowling. "What?" he complained. " I just barely got here."

"You are to call me if you get even the *smallest* injuries, young man."

Xander stared at her. "Doc, I don't call any doctor for most any injury," he told her. "I never have. Personally, most of the time I don't trust doctors thanks to how bad the hospital where I grew up was." She gaped. "I know how to treat most anything and if it was serious I'd have called. I can treat cuts, bruises, bites, all that, and not need to make you stress and fuss. Really. I'll call if it's too bad for me. I'm realistic about that."

"You got what?" she demanded. She stomped closer. "You got bitten?"

"Yeah. It healed perfectly. So did all the cuts." He stared her down. "I'm okay."

"Bull. Come on." She pointed. "Now."

"You're not my wife," he pointed out gently. She growled. He glared and growled back. "I'm fine, Doctor. I'll call if it's too big for me to handle."

"You'll come now or I'll have your guards pull you out of your shower," she promised.

He snickered. "Uh-huh." He walked around her. "If you must, you can come see me after my shower, but I have nothing that needs fixing right now." He grinned back at her. "I've done my own stitches since I was eleven, Doctor." He went to his room to shower. She came in with Don. "Hi." He got out and wrapped a towel around his waist. She took it and walked around him to check him for injuries. "Are you evil?" he quipped. "Usually only evil women want me naked, Doc."

She swatted him. "No. I don't want to see you naked, but you're not cooperating, are you."

He snickered. "I love you too." He gave her a hug. "You fuss nearly as good as Willow. It must be the red hair." He let her go and smiled at Don. "Hi. How's your work?"

"Eh, same as usual," he said with a small grin. "She spanks hard, Xander."

"She spanks me and I get to get her back and then find video of it and show Cam." She pinched him but he grinned. "Huh?"

"Unless you need it I probably won't." She noticed the new scars. "Sit. Let me look at your ankle."

"Let me get underwear?" He blushed some when he glanced at Don.

"Don't dress on my count, Xander. I don't mind." He grinned back. "I think it's cute that you have a vampire bite on your bellybutton." Xander blushed harder and sat down, letting her have his ankle. "What did that?"

"The beasts I killed after killing the bigger-than-me demon. They tried to claim they were going to kill Cane but I proved them wrong and sore."

"Your aunt heard and wondered why you didn't make a bigger message like your brother."

"As long as they move and quit picking on normals, I don't care if they exist. If they start picking on normals and humans again, then they're in deep and they know it."

Don nodded. "That's what we thought you'd explain. She may ask later but maybe not." He petted the dog since she got out of the shower. "We love you too, Cane." The dog barked and hopped up to sit next to her human. The doctor handed him the towel so he dried her off. "She's being good?"

"Yup, she's been very helpful and helps me track the slayers too." He grinned at him then at the doctor. "See, I'm okay."

"I'm going to have something put on you that calls me automatically if you get too injured." She walked off.

He rolled his eyes. "Okay then. Sure, she can fuss like a girl." He looked at Don. "I'm not pulling you away from stuff, am I? Because if I am, I can handle myself. You do important things as a detective."

"You do too."

"I do but it's not on par with what you, John, and Cam do," he pointed out. "Unless it's an apocalypse."

Don stared. "It's just as important. You protect people too." Xander opened his mouth. "You put yourself down and I'm gonna have to yell at those friends of yours for teaching you that bad habit," he warned. Cane barked at him. He looked at her then at the boy. "You do important things. Don't put yourself down again." Xander shrugged so he pulled him up to stare into his eye. "Please?" he asked quietly.

"Fine."

"Thank you." He grinned. "You should get dressed. Not that I mind but you can't go to dinner that way."

"Something formal?" he groaned.

"No. Not in the least. Just dinner." Xander nodded, grabbing jeans and underwear. Don got him a nicer shirt and the boy grinned at him. "C'mon. Cane?" She followed, jogging ahead when she smelled the food. "Here you go, one nephew, ma'am."

"Xander." She looked him over, kissing him on the cheek. "You're still well, I'm glad."

He sat down with a smile. "I'm fine. The girls are doing good. There haven't been that many problems. Did you see John's present to me?"

"I did and it's a wonderful present. Very thoughtful and useful." She let the dog sniff her and petted her. "Good evening, Cane. Have you had fun in the car?"

"She's totally spoiled by lounging in the backseat," Xander said with a grin. He looked around, nodding at the guy he didn't know. "Are you the new advisor?"

"No, Tony sent me ahead. He had to take a phone call. Jethro Gibbs, Mr. Harris."

"You're Tony's boss," Don said, shaking his hand. "Don Flack."

Xander shook it with a grin. "I'm not making Tony slack, am I? I know he does important stuff too, like Don does."

"You put yourself down again and I'm *so* going to get my friends to teach yours how real women don't nag," Don warned. Xander shot him a dirty look. He stared back. Xander huffed but let it drop. Tony strolled in with a smile. "Good news?"

"Very good news." He sat down on Xander's other side, petting the dog. "Boss, this is Xander and Cane, who Cam gave her." Gibbs petted the dog when she came to investigate him. Tony smiled at Xander. "You made Doctor Fraser pout?"

"I handled my own injuries because I'm competent to do so," he told him. "When I need to, I'll call her for stuff I know I can't handle. I'm realistic about that stuff. Really."

Gibbs snickered. "DiNozzo does the same thing to us." People brought food out and Tony tasted it first. He nodded and the rest dug in. Cane got snuck some bites from the trio and Gibbs just patted her on the head when she came to investigate him again. "No, I don't give in to begging. Try that with Abby when you meet her." Tony snickered but hid it behind his hand since his mouth was full. "You know she'll want to."

"I know," he agreed once he swallowed. "She's like Rodney, Xander, only less pure."

"That's cool. We worked with a lot of half-demons and crossbreeds in Sunnydale. I still owe Clem two kittens too I think." Don snickered at that, shaking his head. "Yeah, Spike taught me kitten poker." He ate a bite and chewed then swallowed. "I can play normal cards with you guys, right?" They both nodded. "Cool." He ate another bite. "So, are you here all weekend, Gibbs?"

"Probably. You?"

"I'm heading out early on Monday to do another round of checking on the girls."

"Sometime this weekend we must take measurements for your outfit," his aunt said.

"Yes, aunt." He ate another bite and snuck another carrot to the dog. His aunt coughed so he sighed and ate some. She smiled and ate some of her own. "Do I have to do any funky rites before the wedding?"

"You'll have time to think and meditate but you'll probably worry instead." He nodded. "That is normal. Otherwise, you'll have help putting on your clothes and jewelry. You'll have an honor guard. They'll have an honor guard if they want one. It'll be a huge party that everyone will envy for years." She ate another bite and choked, spitting it out. "Tony, I believe you need to threaten someone again."

Xander took it to sniff then lick. "Not draino but clearly something bad." He let Tony have it. "Tastes like that stuff they put in the rat traps."

"How would you know that taste?" Don asked casually.

Xander grinned. "Because I used to try to gum on them when I was teething I'm told."

Don stared at him. "Seriously?" Xander nodded. "Okay then." He'd be doing something about the boys' parents soon. Tony went to the kitchen, guards going with him this time instead of having to come running. Cane followed too.

"Cane, let me get you puppy food." He went out to the car and came back with the bag, pouring some into his empty salad bowl. She chowed down and munched noisily.

His aunt stared at him. "She could eat in your room."

"If we're having a family dinner, she's family," Xander told her. "That's why Cam gave her to me."

"I suppose that's fine. Try for some softer food tomorrow? Something not so noisy?"

"Dry food is good for her." He pouted some. "I'll look into it. She could use a new b-a-l-l because hers got lost again. We can go visit Buffy for a few minutes." He grinned.

"That would be good, you can go when everyone else is napping." She ate a bite, chewing carefully. Tony came out with something, handing it over. "What is this?"

"That new herb from that newly opened realm. It tastes like it but isn't poisonous I'm told. He won't use it again," he told her. He sat down again, giving the dog a smile. "I take it we're all having dinner?" He ate again.

"Yup, it's a family dinner and she's family," Xander quipped happily.

"Cool." He looked at Gibbs then at Xander. "You two can talk after dinner if you want."

"Okay. I was going to curl up in my room and rest. He can join me. I have that couch."

"Good idea." They finished up and Gibbs followed the boys and dog back to his suite. It was decorated practically, nothing that spoke of the boy's interests. Clearly he didn't live here often. So he was probably more practical than most princes. After watching how the boy acted at dinner, he wondered if he realized he was a prince. They sat down and the boy turned on some quiet classic rock to talk over. He learned a lot about the boy. Later that night, when DiNozzo was walking him back to his room he looked at him. "If you get caught killing his parents, I'll have you in jail so fast it's not funny," he said quietly.

Tony smiled. "We'll do it legally," he promised. "We'll have fun taunting though."

"I can get behind that." Tony grinned and let him into his room then went back to talk to his...boyfriend or whatever he was at the moment. He had no idea what boyfriends called being engaged. He settled in and got comfortable, hearing the dog sneaking around and the boy with him. He waited, no Don or Tony. No, there they were and they weren't happy. Then the dog went running past and the boy too, cackling. Gibbs had to smile. That wife of Tony's was going to drive him nuts.

***

Buffy looked over the side of her bed at the grinning dog. "That had better not be my pillow, Cane." She took it back and the dog hopped up to lay on her stomach. "Kinda heavy, dog." She yawned and the dog licked her. "Eww." She stared at it. "Is your human impatient?" She barked. "Fine, we'll get up." She groaned and the dog moved, running down the stairs. She pulled on a bathrobe and followed. Xander was eating cereal. Andrew was cooing at the dog, teasing her with a new toy - it still had the tags on it. She flopped down and looked at Xander. "Were you impatient?"

He nodded. "I need that book you mentioned." He ate another bite. Cane looked at him. "No milk. You get the runs." He finished it quickly and put it in the dishwasher then turned around. "One of Tony's buddies asked me how I thought the sex stuff was going to be and I had to admit I had no idea what gay guys did. He looked really confused. Apparently he thought I was a gay hunter."

She sighed, staring at him. "They don't have dirty bookstores in Africa?"

"No. They have very strict Muslim cultures where I am mostly. Some highly restrictive Christian ones. A few that want to burn me alive for apparently being a witch. No dirty bookstores though. The Council's 'net service has them blocked."

"Because the girls got a year's pass to a mixed video site that also had anime," Andrew said with a grin. "I go through another provider."

Buffy looked at him. "If they get your laptop again, you can go help Xander in Africa for a few months too. I did not want to know about Superman porn." She looked at Xander again. "Take Faith?"

"I thought she was in Mexico."

"She is," Buffy sighed. "I don't usually go into those places."

"I'd offer to take Dawn but you have to be eighteen," he said dryly.

"She does have that dirty mind," Buffy agreed. She sighed again. "Let me get dressed." She got up and went upstairs. When she came back down, Xander was tossing the toy up the hall so Cane could fetch. "They won't let us bring her unless she's a service animal."

"Dawn and I can watch her," Andrew promised. "It shouldn't take too long, right?" Buffy shook her head. "Then we can." He grinned. The duo walked out together. Cane went to lay and stare at the door. Even giving her the toy didn't make her pout less. But that was all right. Dawn would make her play in a few minutes when she came back from her grocery shopping run. Sure enough, Cane followed the bags in and wanted to play then. She even let Andrew play with her for a bit.

***

Buffy walked Xander into the store and back to the well-labeled 'gay section'. The people around her gave her an odd look. "We're not together," she told one. "He's not my type." She went to look at the girlier stuff. She was boyfriendless so it was a good investment of her allowance. Xander was still staring at the magazines, books, videos, toys, helpful kits, and a few straps but he kept inching away from any of those. Buffy watched and sighed, coming back to hand him a book. "Start there," she said.

"Should I...." He pointed at a video. "They'll want that, right?"

She looked then at him. "Do they have VCR's in Africa? Or DVD players?"

He swallowed. "Technically I have one in the car."

She shook her head. "No, that's trashy ho talk." She walked him and his book up to the counter, letting him pay for all of them since he had made her come. He scowled at her but she just grinned back. "What?"

"I thought it was my wedding present."

"You're not married yet. I'll find you something better, like the next step book." She walked him out to the Council car, letting him drive them back to the house. Cane came rushing out to meet them, barking a bit. "Aww, did you miss me? Why didn't you play with Andrew?" She ran back to bark at Andrew until he smiled and threw the toy for her. Then she got all sorts of happy with him.

Tony showed up in a small flash of light. "Here you are," he said, giving him a look. "You snuck off."

"She needed more food and treats," he said with a small grin.

Buffy looked at him. "Tony, how soon can we get a style guide or at least hints on what to wear? That way we have enough time to find something classy?"

"I can check on that after we get back so it can be emailed to you, Buffy." Andrew pouted but Tony smiled. "You can play with her the next time Xander has to come back for another bag of dog food."

"Am I coming to the wedding?"

"Well, you are like a pesky cousin," Xander teased with a grin. Andrew beamed back and nodded. "I'll make sure you guys get something with at least hints since I've got to be measured this weekend." He picked up his bags from the pet store and the large bag of dog food then nodded at his dog. "C'mon, Cane. Let's go home." The dog woofed and came over to travel back with them. Once back at the palace she ran off to water her bushes then to sit next to the daddy and his husband. He was doing strange things with people she had never met.

Xander put things down and sighed, stepping up on the stool when the stranger in there pointed. "Fittings too?" he asked.

"If we measure correctly we shouldn't need one," he said quietly. He measured his height then around various parts before doing the lengths.

"No hats, turbans, nothing like that?" he asked.

"Not for you, Lord Xander."

Xander looked at him. "Why do I have the feeling I'm the wife?"

The fitter looked at him. "The higher spouse always wears the more expensive jewelry and veil."

"No skirt?"

"We do have a wonderful sari," he offered.

"I'd rather not. Pants? Even like harem pants or something? Like you saw on those movies?"

"I will see what we can come up with." He smiled and finished up, measuring Tony since he was there. He went to find Don to measure him, then the others could be gotten in the next few days.

Xander got down with Tony's help, staring at him. "Are they going to want me in a dress and veil?"

"Sari and veil but I think we can handle pants," he offered with a grin. He was so glad he didn't have to wear one! He could wear real clothes! Xander stared at him so he took a quick kiss. "What did you get the spoiled furry child this time?" Xander showed him the new toys, letting Cane snatch one to walk around with. "Sure, you chew on that one." He saw the other bag then looked at him. "What's that?"

Xander blushed and had to clear his throat. "Instruction manual."

"Oh." He took another kiss. "It'll work itself out, Xander. I promise." He stood up. "Want to go walk in the gardens?"

"Sure. Cane, gardens?" She settled in her chair to chew on the toy. "Okay, come find us if you get bored." They walked off together to talk and relax. "I hope she's not sick. Usually she follows me no matter what I'm doing."

"It's time for a puppy nap and toy time I guess," Tony said with a smile. "She knows I'd never do anything to upset you." They put on sunglasses once they walked out. "Have you thought about setting up a localized slayer house or three?"

"Not yet," Xander admitted. "They're really not grouped that way."

"I know but this way you had a home base for the girls to run to, even if we're not at this palace."

"I don't know. I'll talk to Giles about that I guess." Tony nodded. "You think I need to head back to the US?"

"No. I think it'd be nicer if you were closer but no." He patted him on the shoulder. "Being here has been good for you, Xander. We want you to be happy." Xander relaxed and nodded, smiling a bit. They kept walking, Tony telling him about some of the plants he didn't know about. It was a good stroll.

***

Cam came through the gate happier than he had been when he had left. Now he could escape Sam and Vala. He saw the general waiting and looked at him. "Sir, permission to skip medical since we didn't do anything? I could use a shower."

"Denied. Do that, shower, then come debrief." They walked that way, but the doctor was nice enough to let him escape first when he pouted at her. Doctor Lam had apparently heard.

"I'm still looking at that phone," Sam yelled after him. She huffed. The doctor gave her a few extra tests since she was clearly out of sorts. By the time she was done, Cam had done the debrief and disappeared. She tracked him down and went to get that phone so she could examine it. She ran into Jack first, who delayed her and distracted her. So Cam was off-base by the time she got to his room. When she broke in, she found he had taken the phone with him. So she'd get him on the way back in. She went to make a report on that call to Landry, who looked confused. So she got to be huffy some more. Jack walked her off to distract her some more but she didn't see him wink back at the new general. Jack got her into a new problem with the ship fleet so she was distracted when Cam came back too. She remembered about two in the morning and snuck in to grab that phone so she could scan it.

She nearly screamed when it looked like a normal phone and acted like a normal phone.

No extra tech in it.

So how had it gotten that call? It made no sense.

***

Xander walked up to Pua's mother a few months later. Of all the slayer moms he had met, he liked her most and she'd probably be able to tell him what he needed to know. "Pua's mom?" he asked quietly. "Do you have a few minutes to give me some advice?"

She looked at him. "Is my daughter confusing you?"

"No, I understand girls. I don't have a clue about marriages though." She giggled but led him back inside and let him spoil her with the food he had brought for this talk. Little cookies, tea leaves in a mix that tasted good, sandwiches that were already made. She sat him down. "What do you not understand about marriages, Xander?"

"How about anything? My last real girlfriend, who was my fiancee for a while, wasn't like these guys. She was kind of demanding. A lot. And wanted a lot of sex. Always." She giggled and made the tea. "I had Buffy take me to a store so I could get a book that explained how I was supposed to sleep with my new spouses."

She smirked at him. "It's mostly the same."

"Anya was more interested in what I could do for her pleasure instead of mine. I'm not sure if I should be that way with them or not."

"Have you talked to them about that matter?"

"No. They know I'm confused but the wedding night.... the higher ups are going to, um, well......"

"My mother's people had the same habit," she assured him. She ate a bite of the sandwich then looked at him. "What meat is that?"

He looked. "Turkey. I was back in Cleveland for a few minutes so I went to the deli." He grinned. "I'm used to spoiling Anya. Whatever she nagged for she got."

"Your spouses probably will not be that way. My daughter has said much about how kind they are and how nice." Xander nodded that was true, eating his own sandwich. She considered it. "Many boys play before being married."

"I had a few girlfriends but I never got to play with boys. With how geeky I was, I wasn't really a great big catch for the lovers."

"Ah. What is geeky?"

He grinned. "Kinda awkward and likes book things and strange things...."

"Oh, like our shaman?"

"He is a huge geek and if anyone ever introduces him to comic books I can see him walking across the continent to get a convention about it," he admitted. She laughed but nodded. "I was a bit less geeky than he is, yeah. Girls, American girls, aren't really attracted to that sort."

"Ours other mostly," she admitted, eating another bite. That meat was strange. "Can you raise these turkeys?"

"They run wild in our country but people do raise them like chickens. They lay eggs and all that."

"Huh. Do they take a lot of work?" He shrugged. "Ah. Are they bigger than chickens?"

"Much. Some get as big as thirty pounds." She nodded at that. "I'll see how hard they are to raise for you if you want." She smiled and nodded, eating another bite. "What ...how should I approach the wedding night?"

She chewed while considering it then put down the sandwich again. "I would let them show you what you should be doing. They probably know, right?"

"I think so."

"Then they should know what you need and will want to do."

"The book was a little bit confusing and talked about stuff I didn't even know you could do with a girl."

She giggled. "They make books for that?" He went to get it and brought it back. She blushed as she read it over, looking at him. "Someone studies this?"

"Yeah, there's a few sorts like that." He took it back and put it under his leg since he could hear the kids coming closer. "I don't want to hurt them and I don't want to worry about this."

"Then you could ask one to show you."

"I'm not sure if they would or not. They all treat me very well but some of them don't want to hold hands or anything."

"Hmm. Many men are like that."

"Anya trained me to get used to it."

"You were trained well in how to do wifeish things," she teased, making him blush. She giggled and ate another bite. Her children, including Pua, ran in. "Go wash off," she ordered. Pua gave Xander a quick hug but went to do that. "Some day I'll want to get her a husband," she sighed.

"Kuria's mother married her off and I had to talk to her new family since her mother doesn't believe in protectors." She rolled her eyes. "Kuria says she's very happy now that they've worked that out and her new village respects her for protecting them. She might talk to Pua before her wedding."

"I might like that." She smiled and Xander ate another bite. "As all newly formed couples do, learn by doing, Xander. You'll learn what they like and what foods they like for meals and if they snore fairly quickly, though I'm not sure how you'll all sleep in the same bed."

Xander squeaked and blushed, ducking his head. "I don't know either. A lot of them are doing very important jobs so I won't make them stay with me instead."

"That is generous of you." She finished her sandwich. Pua came back and sat beside Xander, taking the rest of his sandwich. "Daughter, have manners."

"He doesn't mind if we take his food, Mother. He knows protectors are usually hungry."

Xander nodded. "Buffy eats more than some farm beasts," he agreed. "Mostly of cheeseburgers and pizza."

"When he took us to meet them, they told us about them," Pua agreed.

"How did you get to America?" her mother asked.

"Some of the guards brought us," Xander admitted. "I have to learn that trick." Her mother smiled and nodded. "You think I should ask one? Won't that seem like I'm playing favorites?"

"Perhaps but they should understand. Especially if you tell them in advance."

"I think I can do that." Pua looked at him. "Talking about the marriage stuff."

"Oh. I'll do that some day maybe."

"Kuria just got married."

"I talked to her. We called." She smiled. "Her husband was jealous that another village's elder kept watching her." He rolled his eyes. "She said he's a good husband otherwise."

"I think he is. He knows not to be mean to her. The same as your future spouse will." He grinned.

"I would swat like the Tony did to Don."

"He told me Gibbs taught him that. Gibbs is his boss at work. He brought him to meet me."

"Wonderful!" she agreed happily.

"This swatting?" her mother asked. Pua did one to Xander but got it right back, and a grin. "Interesting."

"It's how he keeps Tony from making bad jokes while he works," Xander said with a grin. She giggled and the kids came out to ask Xander questions. He did test the little girl when she demanded to be tested but she didn't come up. Her mother sighed in relief and sent them off to play or weed the garden. Pua took them to weed because she knew it needed to be done. Xander smiled at her. "None of us want any family to be hit twice. Though at the main building there is a set of triplets that were chosen." She shuddered. "Their mother is very loud and very against killing anything, including animals for meat. They'll probably be going home to protect their towns in a few more months."

Her mother smiled. "I wish her mother well finding husbands for her girls and them staying safe." Her husband walked in. "Husband."

"Wife. Xander." He shook his hand and spotted the book when he leaned forward. "For the daughter?"

"No, for my upcoming marriage. I have no idea what to do with them. I had to tell my aunt I wasn't a wife." Pua's father burst out laughing, going to clean up from his work.

She patted his hand. "It might be nice, give you someone to spoil you instead of you spoiling them."

"They wanted me to wear a dress for the wedding." She giggled again and gave him one of the cookies. He took it to put the book back before one of the kids got into it. Cane followed him back. "She was napping and watching the kids up the street fight." She sighed and went to break it up, again. Xander followed in case she needed help. Since it was two much older kids picking on the little ones, yeah, he got to carry them back to their parents and scowl all he wanted at them.

***

Xander was let into his aunt's rooms the next time he was back at the palace, sitting in front of her since she was seated. "Is there a problem?"

"It is time to figure out which sets of jewelry you'll wear, nephew."

"Did they work out how not to make me wear a dress?"

"Slightly." He grinned at that. "You'll still be beautiful and the more blessed spouse is always the decorated one." She pointed at the boxes in front of her. "Do you favor any of those? If not, we may have to shop."

"I hate shopping," he pointed out. "The girls dragged me with them all the time." He looked and gasped. "Those are much too fancy...."

"Shut up, dear. They are family heirlooms and you will wear some of them."

"Yes, aunt." He looked and pointed out a few things. "Those?"

She stared at him. "On my wedding day, I wore every single one of those," she told him. He whimpered. She smiled. "We will have to pierce your ears soon, dear." She patted him on the hand. He gave her the pitiful look but she was sure it'd be fine. "Do you think a nose ring?"

"I think I'd look strange with one."

"Hmm. Well, your navel will be showing I'm sure. We can add one there. I'm told they're fun."

He looked at her. "I'll look like one of those strange kids at the mall."

"You won't be wearing them all the time, just that day. We can heal any holes you don't want the next day," she said patiently. He nodded quickly. "Now, let's see." She held up a few pieces against his skin. "Hmm. Do you have any jewelry you favor?"

"I have Anya's ring. I was going to put it on a necklace," he said quietly.

She beamed. "I think that would be appropriate. Most would take it as a symbol of future wives."

"If I marry a woman, can she wear the dress?"

"Yes," she assured him. "She can be dressed up as fine as you will be this time."

"I knew I was going to be the wife," he muttered. She swatted him. He gave her an odd look. "Did you learn that off Gibbs too?"

"Off Tony, so basically." She smiled and tried another one. "I think that jade and emerald piece will be wonderful for a navel ring." She made a note and tried another one to see where it should go. He shut up and let her because she wanted it to be this way and he was going to let her have this wonderful wedding. It was his duty after all.

"What color am I wearing?"

"Blue and silver."

"Will the green go?"

"We'll see." She considered the others. A few were more yellow, one was yellow gold. They'd have to check them against the fabric samples later. Maybe she would get to go shopping after all. She'd take his new husbands though, they had good taste. Much nicer than her nephew's baggy jeans and t-shirt was.

***

Xander walked up to the girls on patrol later that night, hugging Buffy. "If you ever get married, my aunt will do it for you," he said.

She snickered, patting him on the back. "It can't be that bad."

He looked at her. Then at one of the girls. "How many pieces of jewelry did your sister wear when she got married?"

"Fifteen rings, six necklaces, three more joined to make a pretty belt, eight pairs of earrings in various spots, and the piece that went through her hair," she said.

Xander sighed. "I was hoping for a nice five, six. Nope, I'm wearing twenty-nine pieces," he said. "Including single earrings." She giggled and gave him a hug too. He looked at Buffy. "Teach her how to wear a sari, please?" he asked the girl from India.

"I'm already working on theirs. They said no red?"

"I'm told I'm wearing blue and silver. Tony said green was considered a good color too."

She beamed. "I saw a wonderful one in blues. Is purple all right? Or teal?" He shrugged and looked at the guard that had followed him, one of his aunt's. He handed over a sheet of paper his aunt had written out for the girls. She read it, nodding. "I can definitely do that. No yellow gold unless it's a wedding set, Buffy."

"I don't have that much jewelry anyway," she admitted. She read it too. "We can do that." She smiled at Xander. "Did the book help?"

"I'm hoping I'm not going to turn as freaky as some of it was." Buffy snickered at that. "I'm still not sure how to do some of that, even the interesting sounding stuff. I heard Dean was around?"

"Other side of the cemetery. Help us hunt and we'll run into him so you two can talk about gay boy stuff." He nodded, and the group moved on. "No Cane?"

"Lounging. She's in heat." Buffy shuddered. "No puppies this year but she's happily taken over my bed for me. I may have to sleep in the tub or on the couch." The girls all giggled. He stared. "Zombies tonight?"

"Yeah," one sighed. "I hate zombies."

"Me too," Xander agreed. "Especially the ones that like me." Since it was leering at him. He shot the thing's head off. That worked. They moved on to behead the rest of the zombies. They ran into Dean, earning Xander a smug grin and a kiss.

"Why are all the hot hunters gay?" one slayer asked Buffy.

"It's arranged in their case."

"Oh. Pity." She looked at Dean. "Does this mean I can have Sam?"

"No, we'll both be married to him but not each other. Then Sammy can find himself a girly girl like Jess was and have her while Xander gets to fuss over their kids." The girl looked confused. "It's like a pinwheel. Each fan blade is independent outside the connection to the stick. He's the stick."

"Oh!" She nodded. "Still sucks that you're sharing a spouse with your baby brother."

"Yeah but we'll manage. Time-share maybe." Xander was bright red now. "No Cane?"

"In heat. Lounging on the bed. I might have to sleep in the tub."

"Maybe," Dean agreed with a smirk. "So, why the visit? We didn't need help with the zombies."

"Well, two things. I have a huge shithead of a demon bothering Kuria." Buffy growled at him. "Seriously! It covers its head with its crap to draw a mate." She shuddered. "And it can't be shot, burned, or stabbed. Has to be staked but she can't get close enough and neither can I. Crossbows didn't work either before you ask." Buffy whined. "And I came to talk to you," he told Dean quietly. "I'm confused."

"We know." He patted him on the shoulder. "How about Buffy and I come handle the shithead demon and then we talk?"

Xander grinned. "I'd adore that."

"Let me change into not so good clothes," Buffy ordered, heading for the council cars. The girls followed. When they got back, Xander went to talk to Giles about that demon while she changed into things that could be soaked and washed a lot if necessary. If they were that nasty on the outside, they probably sprayed nastier stuff. Dean got them to Kuria's village. Kuria hugged Xander and Buffy, pounced Dean and hugged him, then led them to the demon. "Eww, it stinks," Buffy complained.

"You'll draw its attention," Kuria said.

Buffy looked at her. "Better us than normals." She walked up to it, Dean and Xander behind her, Kuria guarding them. "Yo, you stink. Go away."

"It'll put nasty crap in the ocean if it swims to Antarctica," Xander pointed out.

"Don't remind me. I won't want to go lounge on a beach." She stared at the demon, who burbled something.

"It asked who you were to annoy it," Dean said. "And it's a girl."

"I'm Buffy. The slayer Buffy." The demon bowed to her and burbled something else.

"He said it's an honor to meet and kill you."

"As if," she snorted and stabbed the damn thing. Yup, it sprayed. As a matter of fact, it exploded. "EWWWWWW!" she shouted. "This is more gross than slime!" She tried to wipe it off but it was no use. She was covered. It was sticky and not coming off. She looked at Kuria. "Want to come back to the council to bathe with us since I doubt your village has enough water to soak this off?"

"We can go to the palace. We have plenty of water," Dean assured her. They trudged back to the village. One of the in-laws were waiting on them. "We're going to bathe this off. Kuria's coming to get cleaned up too."

"That way her husband can't complain about the smell," Xander added with a grin.

The old woman nodded. "That is wise, Xander. Thank you for handling that so quickly."

"Anything that explodes like this is really dangerous," Buffy assured her with a weak smile. "C'mon, Dean. Make with the portally thing before I toss back up dinner. Please?" Dean grinned and brought them back. Everyone within smelling distance stepped back. "It was nasty," she told the guards with a grimace. "But mean."

Kuria nodded. "I couldn't do more than dent it."

"The soaking baths are free," one said with a wave and a bow. "I will make sure it is vented properly." He jogged off to do that and warn the staff they were disgusting.

On the trudge there, Xander's aunt showed up with Cane. "I know of their species. It was probably young and stupid. Most of the older ones gave up going around humans because they tend to be killed or driven off thanks to their peculiar habits."

"I can see why," Kuria agreed. "Thank you for letting Xander get Dean and Buffy to help me, and letting us bathe off, ma'am."

"I would let no friend of my nephew suffer that way. Girls, I'll put some special soaps in there and one in the boys' tub as well." Cane wouldn't go near Xander. She petted her, smiling at the poor thing. "I'll let her sleep with me tonight, boys. You probably won't make it to bed anyway." She walked off to get some fresh air to breathe. Her staff could get the special soaps.

Dean got them into the shared bathing rooms. "Girls, take that one. We'll be in here," he said. "You can pull the curtain so no one can peek, Kuria," he said when he saw her looking around at all the windows. She beamed and did that so the could strip off and get into the bubbles waiting on them. It relieved some of the stink and softened the goo so it was easier to wash off. Dean and Xander got into their own soaking tub of bubbles and relaxed. Dean looked at Xander. "So why the visit?" he asked quietly.

Xander shifted closer. "I'm confused."

"About...."

"Gay guy stuff and tentacles."

"It'll be fine, Xander."

"Buffy helped me get a book and I'm still confused."

Dean gave him a manful pat on the arm. "It's good and it'll be wonderful that night."

"Can you at least explain things to me?"

"Do we know what a blow job is?" Dean asked.

"Yeah but none of my girlfriends have ever wanted to give them." He slumped down in the water. "I did a lot more pleasing of them than they did of me. I don't know how to do that with a husband."

"Well.... At least we're not all going to be pouncing on the same night," he decided, making Xander whimper. "Have you gotten friendly with the tentacle yet?" Xander shook his head. "Why not?"

"Too damn busy and I'm not going to stop in the middle of nowhere to just do that. The dog would be very amused."

"Yeah, she probably would." He considered it. "Why come to me?"

"I figured you were probably more open than the others, even if you were hunting you probably had a few hours free sometime soon, and the other guys are all older with really important jobs that give them stress. I don't want to stress them out on top of that. Plus I know what hunting's like. Or at least what we did of hunting."

"Hunting stresses us out plenty," Dean said patiently.

Xander looked at him. "We don't work overtime and then lose a case because we forgot a single piece of paperwork. Don did."

"True. We stress for different reasons." Now he knew what Tony and Don had meant about Xander's view of their jobs being more important. Huh. That so totally had to be his low self esteem manifesting in strange ways. He knew hunting saved lives, just like being an officer or a military guy did. He'd talk to Xander about that after they got un-stinky. And probably again after he helped him realize tentacles were more fun than a dick. He was a lady's man but hey...Xander was going to be his wife too.

***

Buffy showed up at noon the next day and Andrew immediately grabbed the air freshener. "I soaked for ten hours. I know I still stink." She walked into Giles office, making him start to choke. Behind her, Andrew was spraying everything. "That craphead demon exploded. You didn't say that they explode."

Giles stared at her, his eyes watering. "They do?"

"I soaked for ten hours, Giles." She pouted. "You're so helping me shop for their wedding present for not telling me that they explode. I would've worn a raincoat if I had known that. Something burnable." She pouted all the way up to her room and the lye soap she had waiting on her thanks to one of the minis that had smelled her coming. They had even replaced the bottle of strawberry bubble bath they had stolen from her. That was sweet of them.

Andrew was busy spraying every inch of the house from the door on. He'd have to add this one to the list of creatures to drive off instead of kill. Before someone else stunk like Buffy did.

***

Xander showed up at Tony's house and started on dinner. Tony came home, giving him a confused look. "I thought we should probably talk and get to know each other better," he said quietly.

"I kinda have a date tonight," he admitted.

"Oh!" He nodded. "Well, you can feed her dinner then," he offered. "We can talk some other time."

Tony moved closer. "With this being a political marriage, I didn't think you'd want things like that, Xander."

"I figured I should get to know you guys since we're going to be stuck together," he said. "But I guess I can talk with you some other time. It's cool." They heard a knock and he waved. "Put in the pork and the sauce, it's really good." He disappeared.

Tony sighed, going to let his girlfriend in. It was for an undercover. He'd have to explain this to the boy. Though, he was right, they did need to talk about a few things. He wasn't sure if Xander had the same lines of thought about their upcoming marriage as he was. He would guess not though. "Hi, Jeanne," he said as he opened the door, making himself smile at her. "I've got dinner started."

"I thought we were going out."

"I'm bushed after work today," he admitted. He let her in and took her jacket for her, then went to finish dinner.

She came in to look over his shoulder. "What's that?"

"A dish a friend introduced me to. It's the first time I'm trying this recipe," he said with a smile. "Set the table?" She nodded, doing that. He added the pork cubes that were waiting and the sauce from the jar. He tasted it. It was good. A bit sour but good. He checked the other pan, finding some rice that was done and waiting. That'd work well. He dished it up once the pork was cooked and let her taste it. She beamed and dug in, so he did. Apparently it was going to be a good date.

***

Tony walked into the dream talk with the other guards. "We gotta talk to Xander about what he expects this to be like," he said once Sam was finally there.

Dean looked at them. "He did approach me for time figuring out what the hell to do with us," he admitted. "I was gentle about it. Said we'd be nice and easy on him that night."

"He showed up to make me dinner so we could talk," Tony said.

"He just lost the woman who was his fiancee," Sam pointed out. "He walked away from her at the altar and they were still friends and possibly moving back together." The others nodded at that. "I think Xander's the sort that only knows one way of having a relationship. The girls all said the same thing; if we hurt him, there was nothing that is going to save us. They meant it too."

Dean nodded. "They did. A few made sure I knew it was a serious threat."

Cam looked at them. "If we're married to him, there's only one way to do that, even if it's a political marriage," he pointed out. "Either you're there or you're not there." They stared at him. "Guys, this is a marriage. We'll be married to him. Spouses to him. Yeah, we're going to have to man up and be a husband. Even if you have to date for some strange reason," he told Tony.

Tony shrugged. "I'm napping next to her. Talk to me later."

"Oh. Okay then." He looked at Dean. "Yeah, if you're going to be there, you're going to be there. Unless you do what John is and find a true mate."

Dean slumped. "I'm not used to thinking about these things. It's not how we hunt. It's been years since I had a girl I thought I could date for more than a weekend."

"Well, yay," Cam said dryly. He crossed his arms, looking at them. Sam shook his head, moving away. "Dean, I understand. I do. If you're not comfy, then tell us and him, and be a man. Walk away and just be a guard."

"I'm not sure I can make that sort of commitment. It's not the stuff I planned for. We still have to hunt more evil bitches."

"So maybe you should hunt with him," Tony offered.

"I don't think I could handle all that harshness," Sam said quietly. "But yeah, I think someone should beyond the dog. He could use it."

"He came to get Buffy and me to help Kuria with the last hard one," Dean said.

"Yeah," Cam snorted. "Because he got bitten by the hunting demon hounds the last one's posse had." They all stared at him. He nodded. "He's taking on a lot of bigger things between getting the girls ready." They all stared at him. "John knew that too. He knew Xander's not going to go running for help unless he thinks he absolutely has to have it."

"But he...." Tony started.

"Hunters take on what we have to," Dean agreed.

"No!" Tony said firmly. "He doesn't have to. He can travel with one of the girls."

"No, he can't. They have to protect their areas," Sam said. "He's doing what we do." Dean nodded. "That's the same thing we do but he's got a lot of higher demons. He should have someone with him."

"Exactly," Tony said.

"And then we have to figure out which one of us is giving up our own duties," Dean said. "We've got stuff we've got to handle. You can't leave your job," he told Cam. "Or Tony or Don or John."

Cam sighed. "That's a good point but he should have backup."

"If he calls or asks, we go," Sam assured him. "He hasn't asked outside of that one he came to get Kuria backup for."

"Does anyone think that's a problem?" Cam asked.

"Yeah," Don admitted. "I'd go if he asked."

Tony shrugged. "I've went to meet him and all that. He's never asked. He showed up to make dinner."

Cam slugged him on the arm. "Straighten that shit out."

"I can't. Not yet."

Cam stared at him. "Are you *working*?" Tony nodded. "Shit!"

"Yeah."

"Fuck," Dean muttered. "Well...."

Cam stared at him. "How did you two talk and work that out?"

"I didn't just play with him if that's what you're asking."

Tony sighed. "Yet you probably slept with how many waitresses in the last month, Dean?" Dean glared back. "Figure it out and decide if you're going to be there. The same as I have to figure some things out."

"I know. I will." He disappeared.

Sam shrugged. "I don't know, guys. If Xander wanted, I'd go help him." He left, going to help Dean, even if he was sulking and throwing a fit in the motel room bathroom.

Cam looked at Tony. "Figure it out soon. We need to make the final lists within a week or so." He disappeared, going to find someone else to talk to. O'Neill was in town with Jackson. If not, he had the feeling he had talked to Jackson. He knocked on his on-base room, getting him. "Is the general still here?"

"No, he had to go back to DC this morning for a meeting. Why?" He let him in and stared at him. "Jack told me," he said bluntly.

"Good. I need to talk."

"Problems with him?"

"No. Problems with some of the other asses I deal with." He sat down, looking at him. "You know what's going on, right?"

"Yeah, including that I should congratulate you. By the way, Jack told Landry."

"Cool, that'll make it easier." He sighed, shifting and then deciding to stand up. "Tony's apparently on an undercover, long term undercover, dating sort of assignment. The kid's trying to connect with us but Tony had to brush him off earlier. Dean's not really connecting all that well. The kid tried to get closer to him and Dean turned him down. And I want to get closer. There's only one way to do this. Right?"

"Yeah. You can't keep him at arm's length."

Cam nodded. "Exactly." He turned and found one of the guards with the dog. "Why do you have her?"

"Xander's locked her out of his room," he said. "And we're not real sure he didn't leave the palace without her."

"Why?"

"I don't know. The car's there too, Cam."

"Uh-huh." He got down to pet the dog. "Daniel, this is Cane. I gave her to Xander." She whimpered. "I know, baby. Let me talk to the other daddy. I'm sure he's just upset." He petted her. "Here, pounce Daniel. Thanks." The guard nodded and left. He petted her, letting her crawl into his lap. "You're way too big," he complained lightly but petted her. "C'mon, let's find the daddy." He looked at Daniel. "We'll be back." He disappeared from there. He found Xander, he could always find Xander. Of course he found Xander fighting something huge that was trying to kill him. "Shit," he muttered. The dog barked and ran over to help the daddy. Cam shot it.

"Hey!" Xander complained. "It'll grow with lead!"

Cam stared at him. "Then cut off the head or whatever." Xander huffed but did that once he got the dog out of the way. Xander dropped the sword and petted the dog, getting lapped. "So, we had a talk." He moved closer. Xander didn't look up from petting the dog. "Hey." Xander looked up at him. "Tony's undercover," he said quietly. "Dating her for it." Xander shuddered. "Dean.... has an issue he's considering." He pulled him up, looking at him. "The rest of us agree. We're here with you. If we wanted to not be here with you, we could've turned it down. I don't know what Dean's thinking. I have no idea but we told him to sort himself out earlier. Tony too." He made the boy look at him again since he was staring at the dog. "I wouldn't have given you her if I didn't believe in what's going to happen. I could've backed out." Xander relaxed some. "You disappeared?"

"I didn't want to be in this mood around people."

"I understand fully. I've had that same sort of mood in the past with my team." He smiled and kissed him. "It'll work itself out."

"I only know one way to be with someone, Cam. I can't be with someone who doesn't understand that."

"I understand fully. This is going to be a relationship that we're going to be in for a very long time." He kissed him again, making the boy relax. "Tony and Dean will figure their own shit out. You and me need to spend some time talking anyway."

"You're doing important things."

"Yeah, and I'm going to introduce you to the important people in my life. Especially since Jack told our general." He smiled. Xander relaxed some more. "What we do is important but so is what you do."

"Not as...."

"Shut up, Xander. Just because daily hunting may only save a few lives doesn't mean it's not as important. It's just as important and a lot more scary than anything but John's job. We all wish you could do things that were less harmful to you."

"I'm not...."

"Bull. You're not the guy you could've been if you weren't hunting."

"If I didn't hunt, I'd probably be dead."

"I know." He stared at him. The sword was picked up and Cam came back. "It still changes a guy. Same as any battle does." He took him and the dog back to the Mountain. Daniel gave him an odd look. "If Landry knows, it'll be cool. He needs to meet you guys." He looked at the dog. "Go pounce, Cane." She sniffed Daniel again then hopped up to steal the bed. He handed Daniel the sword. "Daniel Jackson, this is Xander Harris."

"Hi," he said, smiling and shaking his hand. "Jack just told me about all this stuff."

"Hi." He shook his hand back. "I'm still confused."

"It's reasonable with what happened." He smiled at Cam. "Sam, Teal'c, and Vala are all around here somewhere."

"That's fine. We can introduce them." He smiled at Xander. "I think you and Vala will get along really well. Sam, maybe not so much. A lot of the time, her broomstick riding skills aren't that great." Xander grinned a bit at that. "C'mon. Daniel, bring the dog with you to my room." He took them back there.

"Okay," he said. "C'mon, Cane. Let's go to daddy's room." Cane hopped up and followed him. He ran into Teal'c and Landry, both of them staring at the dog. "This is Cane. She's Cam's."

"I see," Landry said. "Is he.... around?"

"We're going to his room right now. Teal'c, can you get Vala?"

"Of course. I have seen a bigger version of that sort of dog."

"Yup." Daniel grinned. "It's a long story." He walked off with the dog. "C'mon, daddy has chew things." The dog barked and followed. A few people gave him strange looks but he was who he was and this was the SGC. They were used to strange things. Dogs... nothing too unusual. He knocked and got let in. "Landry, Teal'c, and Vala are coming."

"That's cool. Cane, bathroom," he said with a point. "Bed. Don't chew on the bed." He handed her something. She barked and settled down to gnaw on that. Cam grinned. "Thanks, Daniel."

"Welcome, Cam. So, Xander. I'm told you're from that town that fell in?"

"Yeah, I was born there."

"How was living there? Jack said it was really dangerous."

"Yeah, but helping the slayer hunt the dangerous things kept me a bit safer. Dangerous is relative. If you're in by dark, don't go out, don't let in delivery boys or girls, things like that it's a bit safer as long as you didn't go to the hospital."

"Huh. So hunting is what?"

"Just what it sounds like," Cam told him. "Right now he's training slayers in Africa."

"Wow. Back to the motherland." Xander smiled and nodded. "Where have you been?" Xander got a map and pointed at spots, telling him about them. The others got there and Xander tensed up a bit but they were calming.

Landry looked at Cam since he was the last in. "Is that him?" he asked quietly.

"Yes, sir." He closed the door. "Xander, this is my general, Hank Landry. Jack told him recently so I'd stay out of trouble."

"Hi," he said quietly, staring at him.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Harris." He shook his hand. He sat down and the dog stared at him. "Hi, dog. Is that Carter's indestructible thing?"

"Yup," Cam agreed with a grin and a pet for the dog. "It won't hurt him and if it can survive Cane it's really indestructible." He sat down beside Xander. "Xander, this is Teal'c and Vala. They're on my team." He waved with a grin. "Teal'c can kick any warrior's ass, even Buffy's probably."

"She might like to meet him."

"He's taken," Cam admitted with a grin. "But yeah, I can see them sparring sometime." He gave him a slight nudge. "My team has picked up members on assignment. Teal'c was one. Vala's another." Xander looked at her. She grinned. "She's a lot like you sometimes."

"Do you like weapons?"

"No, I like shiny things," she said with a smile. She knew what this was. It was Cam introducing them to his spouse, which was an interesting tidbit with what the military thought about such things. Daniel smiled at her so she'd ask him later. She settled in. The dog came over to investigate her. "Hi, sweetie. Who're you?"

"She's Cane. Cam gave her to me," Xander said. "She's a very good dog." The dog barked and lapped him, jumping up to attack them both with her tongue. They laughed and got her pointed at Vala, who let her lap her. Vala also got her to lick Teal'c, who patted her gently. She decided she liked Vala so she stayed to chew on that new thing with her. They talked about his travels, getting to know the young man. He slowly relaxed and got comfortable but that was good for all of them.

Landry left last, staring at them. "I think this is a good reason to bend the rules a bit and I think you two will be just fine, boys." He smiled and left, making sure the dog was still in there.

Cam stretched out. "I have one other teammate but she's a science person and I'm not sure how you two will get along. She's not like Rodney, but she's got his sort of brains." He stroked over Xander's arm. "We'll introduce you tomorrow. If she's up this late, she's absorbed in the lab." He grinned when the boy shivered. "Strip down and let's rest?"

"Here?"

"Here. Landry won't say a word. No one will dare bust into my room." He got up to lock the door and came back, helping Xander out of his shirt. They got down to their boxers and Cam spotted something. "Take the thing off, Xander. It's time you get used to the tentacle too," he said quietly. He laid down. Cane hopped up to share the bed with them. He patted her. "Come on." Xander did it then dove under the covers. "I have one too." He got comfy, letting Xander move wherever he wanted. He bet the boy cuddled when he wasn't nervous. He cuddled him instead and the boy finished relaxing. He turned off the lights and got comfy again. The dog got his daddy's back and it was good. Xander shifted a few times but Cam stroked over the boy's stomach. "Relax. Get used to being cuddled." He kissed him on the forehead. "Nothing else is going to happen tonight."

"I still don't know what to do with it."

"I know. We'll figure that out." The boy nodded against his shoulder so he let him fall asleep. Cam smiled and let himself sleep too. It was very comfortable. Even if the dog was taking up half the bed.

***

Tony walked out of his bedroom the next morning. Jeanne was off at work. Tony was confused. He was upset. He was being torn between duties. And damn it, he hated his job right now. It wasn't good and he was getting too attached to Jeanne. He went to see Gibbs. It was five in the morning but he'd probably be up. He spotted him jogging and parked, getting out to join him. Gibbs looked at him when he fell into step with him but other than that it was a quiet jog. They made the few miles and back to Gibbs' house. Tony was panting, bending down to catch his breath.

Gibbs walked in to get some coffee, coming out to hand Tony a mug. "So?"

Tony sat down on the couch, staring at his coffee. "Xander came over to make dinner and talk last night."

"Okay," Gibbs said, taking a sip.

"So did Jeanne." He looked up. He saw the dirty look. "She didn't tell you," he said flatly.

"About...."

"Jeanne is an...assignment," he said quietly, leaning back. "It's supposed to be need-to-know, boss, but I thought you would since it could interfere with work stuff."

Gibbs stared at him. "Excuse me? You're dating someone as an assignment?"

"Yup."

"Why?" He took a drink.

"Le Grenuille."

"That arms dealer?" he demanded, putting down his cup, hard.

"Yes," he sighed. "And I had to send Xander away last night because we were having a date. I got yelled at for it." He took a sip of the coffee and grimaced. "Brewed before you went for a jog, boss?"

"Yes." He stared at him. "Which way do you want this to go?"

"I... I want to get to know Xander. I know it's my duty."

"No, not as a duty, DiNozzo. If you're going to be married to him, you're going to be married to him in all senses of the word."

"Then I get fired."

Gibbs stared at him. "Which one do you want?"

"I don't know. I agree with Xander, we need to get to know each other, but I knew when I had to tell him last night that it was the wrong thing to do, but I have to do that other one."

Gibbs stared then shook his head. "Break up with her. Or make her break up with you."

"The director...."

"Is getting my foot up her ass. She had no business sending you out like that."

"Technically it's the job, boss."

"If I had been there...."

"She probably would've went to someone else," he agreed with a sigh at the end. "I don't know what I want, boss. If I tell her, then I'm fired automatically. If I don't, then I've got problems with my upcoming spouse and her. I have no idea how far this assignment is supposed to go. I can't exactly introduce them."

"Does she know what you do?" Tony shook his head. He groaned. "This is screwed up, DiNozzo."

"If I had any idea it was this in-depth, I would've turned her down, boss."

"Good! At least that shows some sense!" He took another drink of his coffee. "Does Abby know?"

"No."

"The second cellphone?" Tony nodded. "Talk to Xander today, let him know about this, and his aunt if you must. I'm sure they can keep secrets. They deserve to know." Tony relaxed and nodded, disappearing. Gibbs went to shower and dress for the day. He and the director needed to have a long discussion. Hopefully at the top of his lungs. She did not do that to his team.

***

Tony appeared, staring at Cam and Xander, petting Cane when she woke up to stare at him. "Hey, baby." He sat on the foot of the bed, staring at them. He could like Xander. He hated that he was hunting and risking himself but he could like Xander a lot. Cam blinked at him. "I came to talk."

"Good." He nudged Xander, getting a sleepy grin. He pointed. "He wanted to talk."

"Tony," Xander said, sitting up. Cam pulled him back down so he was comfy. "Did something happen?"

"I owed you an apology for last night and an explanation. This is seriously breaking the rules to tell you," he said quietly. He took a deep breath. "My date last night is part of a long-term undercover op, Xander."

"Oh, shit. Did I screw it up?"

"No, and we both loved the pork dish," he admitted with a small smile. "I'm a bit torn right now because I don't know what I'm doing. I need to get to the arms dealer behind her."

"Which one?" Cam asked.

"A french guy."

"Le Grenuille?" Xander asked. "I know someone who bought something off him."

Tony stared at him. "Don't tell me you're dealing arms, Xander. I can't hear that and not arrest you."

"No, I bought a gun off him and he was bragging to a higher contact about that buy. He didn't realize I don't only speak english."

"Oh. Okay. Can I hear about him?"

"No. He's getting the girls weapons. Sorry."

"No, that's okay." He sighed. "I don't know what to do. I have to go through with this probably. It's screwing things up all over my life," he told them. "My team leader didn't know and should have. It's compromising my performance on the team. It's hurting stuff among us. I don't know what I'm doing right now."

Xander nodded. "I know what you're doing is important. If we have to, we can let you out of the marriage stuff," he offered. Tony slumped. "Or make yours later. I don't know but I'm willing to work things out with you."

Tony grinned. "Thanks, Xander. Let me head to work. I'll figure out what I'm doing this week. That way plans can be made." He took a kiss and sent himself home to shower and change and then to work. He ran into Gibbs there. "We talked."

Gibbs stared at him. "Can you always do that?"

"No one's supposed to know I can," he said quietly.

"Uh-huh. I'll think about that when we need it."

"Okay." He moved closer. "We talked and Xander's willing to let me do my part later or opt out if I have to, boss."

"He's more understanding than I would be."

"We're still getting to know each other."

"True." He walked him up to the director's office, knocking before walking in and kicking the door shut behind them. Tony locked it. "We need to talk."

She looked at them then glared at Tony. "You told him?"

"I had to. It's been getting in the way of cases. I've had to call off casework to do this."

Gibbs nodded. "That's just one complication." Tony gave him an impatient look then they both stared at her.

"I've heard rumors about how close you two are," she said blandly, leaning back in her desk chair.

"Not hardly," Gibbs told her. "But he is about to be married off in an arranged marriage."

Tony slumped. "Boss!"

"When did we find this out?" she demanded.

"That week of vacation I had? Then."

"So you were already involved," she said. She considered it. "I can't really replace you. Can they push it back?"

"Things are progressing but I've still got to get to know them. Last night, they nearly collided."

"That would be a problem," she agreed.

"Which is why I told Gibbs this morning. Because this is getting too complicated and I'm not sure how far I have to take this. Do I have to take it to the point where we're living together? She was talking about buying a house."

She blinked a few times. "That would be successful for the operation."

"But soul sucking for him," Gibbs pointed out. "I need him as an agent, Director. He can't keep his mind on cases thanks to yours. It's impacting solving cases. It's impacting his life to the point where he's going to have to make a choice soon."

"Then the obvious choice has to be made," she said.

"I'm being married off in six months," Tony told her with a sigh of relief. "I'm starting to feel things for her, director. If we keep going, it's going to be a problem for me." She stared at him. "What?"

"You'd be willing to give up your job here for an arranged marriage?"

"Firing him for that would mean he'd get to sue us," Gibbs assured her. She glared. He glared back. "It was wrong to ask him to do it, Jenn. You knew it wouldn't fly when you asked him. That's why you waited until I was away to ask."

"His job...."

"Is as a field agent," he said, overriding whatever she wanted to say. "You're putting my agent in a position where he's got no backup, no way out, and expecting him to form an emotional tie to a subject of an operation, and then suddenly break it. Even your former bosses wouldn't let that happen. It's done."

"If he breaks up with her, it will ruin years of work."

"Then you'd better hope she's a lesbian so you can go out with her," Gibbs said.

"He agreed...."

"At the time," Tony said. "I didn't know how deep I was going to have to go with this. I found myself signing my fake name to a case the other day." She glared at him. Something appeared behind him and he turned, looking at it. "What are you doing here?"

"The prince will not ascend. His brother said so," he sneered and tried to claw him. Tony dodged and shot the demon. It lunged at the director and Gibbs pulled his own gun to shoot it. No effect.

"I need a sword," Tony muttered, summoning one to take it out. The demon died while the director was trying to get away from him. Tony pulled the sword out of the demon's heart and beheaded it with two swings. He sneered. "I'm sure his aunt will like to hear about that." He called someone. "It's Tony. Someone tried to attack me to get Xander." He hung up and guards showed up to grab it. "His brother sent that one to stop the wedding." They nodded and left with the body. The director was staring at him. He checked, his stripes were still hidden. He calmly went into the bathroom to clean the blade then came back out wiping it with a paper towel. "Sorry, he wants a friend to not marry and take his rightful spot."

"What was that?" she demanded.

Gibbs went to answer the pounding on the door. "It escaped. It's handled. We'll track it," he told the guards. The guard came back and Gibbs stared at him. "Bad timing."

The NCIS guards stared at him and one bowed. "It was trying to get Lord Xander's guard. It was handled." That one nodded and walked off. The others stared then followed their fellow guard to hear what had happened. He looked at Tony. "We should put another guard here."

"No. I'm good. Gibbs will watch my back," he said quietly.

The guard stared at him. "If you're sure."

"I am. It's cool. Thank you." He shook his hand with a smile. He handed back the sword. "One of Xander's."

"Of course. Where is he?"

"Cam. With the dog."

"Good." He nodded at the director. "That one won't be tried again." He left.

Tony took a deep breath and kicked the door shut, locking it again. "Anyway. Xander's going to have a fit on his people."

Gibbs nodded. "He should. This brother?"

"Xander had him put in for psych evaluation." He smirked. Gibbs snickered. "Exactly. So it's an older plan. We'll have to figure out who else he paid." He looked at the director, who was giving them a strange look. No, his stripes were still hidden. "What?"

"What was that?" she asked.

"A demon sent to kill me so Xander couldn't do the usual wedding rituals. I'm one of his hereditary guards. Another complication to this undercover."

"Is your upcoming marriage related to his?" she asked.

"Yes."

"I see."

"It's in six months. Gibbs and Xander have met. I took him for dinner one night so Xander would know him and Gibbs would feel comfortable if something happened and he had to notify him."

"I like the kid. He's a nice guy, very tough really," Gibbs agreed. He got himself some coffee from the pot in there. "He's a bit goofy. Just got his first pet as a pre-wedding present. He's with the underground hunting community."

She stared at him. "You're taking this very calmly."

"The night I found out I got drunk," he admitted. "DiNozzo should've told me sooner." Tony shrugged. "I understand why he didn't though." He took a sip. "Now, how can we extract him from this very bad idea?"

"I still need him there, Jethro."

"Director, I'm getting too involved," Tony said simply. "We're talking about buying a house. It's not going to help anyone if I'm sucked in too far. Then I'd be considered compromised."

She stared at him. "It probably won't go to trial."

Abby knocked then walked in with a smile. She put her lockpick back. "I got a message this morning from a hacker in spook city." She handed it to Tony, then pinched him on the arm. "You need to change shirts. I saw it on the cameras and the guys on guard detail are confused." She looked at Gibbs, smiling. "Did you get to meet the Xander?"

"Tony brought me over for dinner."

"That's very cool. I want to meet him," she said, pinching Tony again. She bounced off.

Tony read the message then handed it to Gibbs, who read it and handed it to her. "I think that may settle that matter."

She read it and glared at him. "We are not under CIA control, DiNozzo."

"No, we're not." He stared at her. "I may be willing to die on the job, Director, but I'd rather not make it a sure bet when they decide I'm in the way. Because they will." Gibbs nodded. "So give me some idea, please. Before things get further out of hand." He walked off.

"Don't come near my team again, Jenn. It's wrong." He left too.

She huffed and pulled up the security camera footage to see if she could find anything on that ...being. Clearly someone was keeping other secrets from her.

On the stairs, Gibbs looked at DiNozzo. "Have a long think tonight, no matter what she wants. Talk about Xander a bit too."

"I can talk about Dean. He's not sure." He sat down, looking at the two filled desks. "What?"

"We heard gunshots," McGee said quietly.

"It's dead."

"Ducky didn't go up," he said.

"No, he didn't," Gibbs agreed. "Drop it, McGee."

"Yes, boss."

Gibbs looked at Ziva, who looked away. He caught Tony's eye and glanced at Ziva then back, getting a slight head shake. She had no idea about demons. "Boss, if I'm going, I still need help on that present."

"Yeah, you probably do," Gibbs agreed. "We'll talk to Abby. She's good at that stuff, DiNozzo."

"True." He started his computer, getting back to work on the present case's paperwork.

***

Cam had Xander wait and went to find Carter. "Sam," he said when he ran into her. "We gotta talk." She stared at him. "There's things you have to know, Carter, and I'm introducing them to you today." He nodded. "It's in my room."

"If this is some sort of strange prank," she said. "Save it. I'm not in the mood."

"It's not. It's about that phone call." She followed, closing the door behind herself. "Xander, this is the last member of my team, Sam Carter."

"Hi," he said, waving and smiling. "How are you?"

"Who are you? And how did you get on this base?" she asked.

"Landry knows," Cam told her. He sat down. "A long time ago, I was kind of promised to him as a guard and a spouse," he told her. She gave him a confused look. "We're due to be married to each other in about six months, Carter."

"I thought this wasn't a prank," she complained, scowling at him.

"It's not a prank. O'Neill knows too. He told Landry. Since you were somewhere else or in a lab last night, we introduced him to the rest of the team last night." He petted the dog. "By the way, that indestructible thing? Not fully." He held up the halves. "Not dog proof."

Xander petted his dog, cooing in her ear, getting a bark and a lick back. "She's a good dog. She goes through rawhides the same way," he told Sam with a grin.

"Jack, our general, knew about this?" she demanded.

"Yeah. That phone call was from him." She gaped. He called Landry down. Landry knocked then walked in. "Sir, we were just informing the last member of my team."

Landry closed and locked the door. "Breathe, Doctor Carter." She glared at him. "He and Xander are actually a lot alike."

"This breaks so many rules," she complained.

Xander stared at her. Then at Cam. "The ..." His phone rang and he answered it. "Yeah, it's me." He listened, scowling. "Is he all right? Thank you for telling me, Abby. Yeah, I'll check on him later. Thank you." He hung up. "Someone attacked Tony, paid by my brother," he told Cam.

Cam grimaced. "He good?"

"He's fine. He handled it. It attacked in front of his director."

"Oooh, that's going to be a problem."

"She said he didn't want to worry me." Cam patted him on the shoulder. "But he's fine and I'll talk to him later." He relaxed, looking at the huffy blonde. "Buffy took it better so it's not a blonde thing," he said quietly. Landry snickered. "Have you met my friend Buffy, sir?"

"Not yet. It sounds like we should talk since she's so important in stopping some issues down here." They stared at him. "I did a good background check after O'Neill told me, boys. I wasn't about to accept it without knowledge."

"I fully understand," Xander said with a smile. "Please ignore anything the Initiative bastards said because they're whiny."

"I did. I found some things that came from the community itself." Xander beamed at him. "What I found gave me a headache, heartburn, and hope that the girls are going to be around for years to come."

"I'm training the ones in Africa right now," Xander told him.

"Which all our minds like to flinch at because you don't have backup," Cam told him. "Maybe you could ask Sam to come with you?"

"I...." she started.

"Not you," Cam assured her. "Another Sam. He's in the same line of work."

"I might but won't Dean need him?"

"I don't know. You can ask." He shrugged and they got comfortable. The general sat down too. Carter kept staring. "You can ask questions," he told her. "Blurt it out if you have to, Carter. We'll understand."

"You're not gay," she said.

"Neither is he. It's arranged. I'm one of his hereditary guards."

She stared at him. "Why do you need one?"

"Apparently I have a position of power and a brother who's an ass who wants the power. He's presently in a hospital for things like eating poison often and cutting himself for fun." She shuddered. "I got sent away by my brother. Cam was one of the ones sent to find me."

"One of?" she demanded.

"Yeah," Cam agreed with a grin.

"Then why isn't he marrying them?" she asked.

"He is. Then some day he'll find a wife or a true mate and bring them in. The same as I will."

"So it's an arranged marriage of protection," she said. Cam nodded. "But you two are cuddling."

"We're still being married, Carter. There's only one way to do that."

She blinked a few times. "Are we sure it's not a prank?" She took the former rod of unbreakable stuff from the dog, looking at it. "She chewed through it?"

"Yeah, she does it to many chewtoys," Xander said with a grin. "Cam said it wasn't going to hurt her or break."

"I thought it wasn't." She stared at him. "So, in six months you're retiring?"

"No," Landry told her. "There's more to this story than just this part but you don't need to know that, Carter." She glared. He stared back. "O'Neill said so."

"Fine." She sighed and looked at Xander. "So, what are you doing?"

"I'm training some village and regional protectors in Africa right now." Her mouth hung open. "It's a very important job."

"Are they revolutionaries?"

"No, and they're higher classified than we are," Landry told her. "It's an important duty. Including what he does."

"Cam has a really important job and I'm not going to take him away from it," Xander told her.

"Then how are you guys going to be married?"

"Long distance until I decide to come back to the US," Xander told her. "I don't know when that might be though."

"Okay," she said, considering that. "What, generally, are they protecting people from?"

"Bad things that attack," Xander said. "The same as I do."

"Huh." She looked at Landry. "Is there some biological exposure that might explain some of this?"

"No."

"Have we checked?" The dog growled. "Call it off," she ordered.

Xander shrugged. "I'm not prompting her to growl at the bathroom." A demon appeared and Xander grabbed Cam's gun to shoot it before it could come out of there. "Bitch, don't try it again," he ordered, getting up to check it. "Cam, I need that sword. This one needs hearted and then beheaded." Cam went to get it from Daniel's room. The demon tried to start regenerating so he shot it again. The dog barked. "What?" he asked her. He shrugged. "It's a bad one." She settled down. "You can help me hurt the next one, Cane." Sam came over to look in there, giving the body a confused look. "Yeah, whole species like this," he said. Cam brought the sword back and an MP. Xander beheaded it with a swing. The guards all winced. "Has to or it regenerates." He came out, handing Cam his gun back. He got dressed. "Let me get this thing to Buffy and them." Landry nodded. "Cane, heel." He looked at Cam. "Dinner soon?"

"Dinner soon," he agreed with a smile. "How's the plans?"

"My aunt is insane and wants me to wear a dress." Cam snickered. "I'm not but I'm still going to be overly decorated." He shrugged and took the dog, the demon, and himself to the Council building thanks to Cam sending him. "Andrew." Andrew looked at him then at the demon. "Tried to attack my spouses. There was another one but Abby said one of the guards got it."

"Who's Abby?" Faith asked as she walked in.

"Works with Tony."

"Oh. Okay." She looked at the demon then at him. "Neat work."

He grinned. "Thanks. Sent by my brother."

"Coolness. Want help?"

"Yeah but I don't think I want to bring all the girls on an invasion." He got off the body. "All yours. You might warn the girls since they could be attacked for being close to me."

She nodded. "I can do that. Head. They're getting ready for school." He and the dog disappeared. She called Giles down. "They're attacking Xander's future spouses thanks to his brother."

Giles grimaced. "It was killed correctly, even if whoever did shoot it. Help me drag it off, Faith." She nodded, grabbing the body to haul while he got the head.

Andrew got the mop to clean up the mess it had left. Things like that happened around the Council. Demons always made messes. Thankfully this one didn't stink. You could still tell Buffy when she was coming because she still stunk from that one demon.

***

Tony looked up as the director stopped in front of his desk before he left that night. "Yes, Director?"

"I think we need to talk about this unique situation you're in, DiNozzo. Now."

He nodded, walking up after her. Gibbs followed. She tried to get him to go away but Tony shook his head. "No, I want my team leader here." She glared but oh well. They walked into the office and found the Secretary of the Navy waiting. "Sir."

"DiNozzo. I'm told that there's a problem that has cropped up? An arranged marriage?"

"Yes, sir." Gibbs shut the door. "Sir, have you heard anything about a young woman named Buffy Summers?" He blanched but nodded slightly. "I'm arranged to guard Xander."

"Oh! I heard about his ascension from O'Neill."

"Yes, sir."

"So that means..."

"Yes, sir, and right now I'm on an undercover for our director that is going in a troubling direction. Especially since I'm starting to get very confused about things, especially my involvement with her since she's not a target, merely a means to the target." Gibbs handed over the message Abby had been given earlier. "That also showed up."

He read it then nodded. "What, exactly, is this undercover operation, Sheppard?"

"To get an arms dealer that is selling current military issue weapons."

"Why did you not work with the people who're already on it?" he asked her. She handed over the file. He read it over, nodding slightly. "Okay. DiNozzo, is this op getting to you that much?"

"Yes. We're talking about buying a house, sir. In normal circumstances, I could find myself entangled quite readily." The man looked at him. He stared back.

"All right," he decided. "I agree. This is unfair to her since she's not a target." Sheppard opened her mouth. "Yes, her father is a legal target but this is getting to the point where it's not a legal op." He looked at Gibbs. "You know?"

"Everything, sir. I've met Xander. He's a very nice young man."

"So I'm told. Is there anyone else who's entangled in that situation?" he asked Tony. Who nodded. "You'll tell me?"

"He has other guards, sir."

"I figured he did."

"O'Neill would know more about them."

"Never mind," he decided. "O'Neill does things that rot my brain." He shuddered. "Anyone else?"

"Two in the same field, one detective from New York."

"Interesting. Six months?" Tony nodded. "Are you retiring to guard him more closely?"

"No, sir. He insists that we're doing important things and should continue. We're still trying to get him to realize that what he does is just as important. Personally, I think that's the fault of Miss Summers."

"Quite possibly," he agreed. "She's said such things to the people in Homeland a few times."

"Sir, did you hear *why* she knows agents in Homeland?" Tony asked.

"No. Did you?"

"Yes, sir." He wrote down a file number, letting him look that up. And then swear profusely. "Exactly, sir. Her ex, Mr. Finn, is not someone I want to run into in a dark alley."

"Agreed." He cleared the search and looked at him. "Are you looking forward to it?"

"I am."

"Decent. Are you planning on working?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Gibbs needs you." He looked at Sheppard. "Let the CIA handle it." She glared. "DiNozzo, handle it gently. She doesn't deserve this."

He nodded. "I have it planned, sir."

"Good man." He walked around the desk and shook his hand. "I hope it's a happy one." He left.

Tony relaxed, looking at Gibbs. "Thanks, boss."

"Welcome but I didn't call him. Ducky maybe, but I didn't." Sheppard huffed. "Sorry."

"I don't like the sound of this other duty of yours, DiNozzo. There are rules about things."

He looked at her. "I've always been his guard, ma'am. It's never mattered in the past. As a matter of fact, Director Morrow knew and helped me quite a few times." Her face turned purplish-red. "Sorry, ma'am, but I was picked very young to be his guard."

"This arranged marriage?" she demanded.

"I'll be married at the same time he is. On the same weekend." She stared. He shrugged. "All his guards will be."

"To him?"

"Ma'am, by federal regulations, you're not supposed to ask that," Tony said dryly. "Though, no, I'm being married to one of his other guards."

"I see." She stared at him. "Why does he need a guard like you?"

"Because of the beings that attack like earlier." She growled. He shrugged. "They do." He walked off. He wasn't going to ask any other questions. He ran into the Secretary of the Navy out there. "Sir, am I going to have problems?" he asked quietly.

"Hell no. Your duty is to him and Gibbs. It's probably not going to cause a problem." He smiled. "That marriage might settle you down." He looked at Gibbs. "I want whatever he has on that op."

"It's on my desk. Has been for hours."

"Are you sure about that?"

"Unless Ziva took it and shredded it," Gibbs said. The other man smiled and went to get it from her. She wasn't shredding it but she had taken the folder to hide. The Secretary of the Navy left with the information. Tony shut down things and left, leaving his extra cellphone on his desk. Gibbs took it to look at the numbers. It would be settled easily enough.

Tony found Jeanne at work and sighed, nodding her to come join him. She held up a finger and came out of the patient room a few minutes later. "Can we talk?" he asked quietly.

"Sure. I can take dinner." She went to make her notes and left with him. They went outside to the smoking area. She sat down when he helped her sit, staring at him. "What happened?"

"First, I do adore you."

"This sounds bad," she said.

He nodded. "I recently found out that my family job, my family duty, is coming calling."

"So you're joining the service?" she guessed.

He sat beside her, taking her hand to hold. "Parts of my family have been guards for a fairly important family for centuries." She nodded slowly. "The most recent one, Xander, was just found where his brother had him kidnaped and adopted, basically. It was a power move. I've been looking for him for years but now we've found him."

"Okay," she said slowly. "So you have to go help him? Is this going to go on for over a month?"

"Part of the guarding duty, well...." He thought about it. "Part of the guarding duty is being...close to him most of the time. Though he's told me he wants me to keep working."

"It sounds like you're going to be traveling with him?" she guessed.

"It's an arranged thing," he told her, staring into her eyes. She gasped. "Remember when I had to take that week off?" She nodded slowly. "I found out during that. I've been considering things for the last few weeks." She slumped. "If I could stay with you, I would. Actually, if I wanted to I could marry you and him, taking him basically as a family protector over us, but it'd mean that you'd have to have kids sometime soon and I know your mother hates that idea."

"Why?"

"Because our family would be his and he needs to show family soon to prove he's stable and providing for the future. Xander's a really nice guy. He's twenty-two. We've been talking for the last few weeks and I've been thinking because I was torn. Really torn. Then I realized I can't ask you to join us because you wouldn't be comfortable."

"He has how many others?"

"There's six of us. One already has a mate." She nodded once. "I also have to tell you something else." She looked at him. "I'm not a professor. I lied to you about that because I didn't want what I do to endanger you."

"What are you?" she asked.

"I'm a federal agent." She winced. "I've had a few cases that have come back to haunt and harm a few of my girlfriends so I didn't want you to get hurt. I wanted to tell you earlier but I couldn't. I'm at NCIS, which is Navy and Marine crimes." She stared at him oddly. He smiled. "I know, doesn't quite go, huh? I'm on a major crimes response team. Senior agent."

"Did you look at my background?" she asked.

"Recently but that wasn't really anything that bothered me. Hell, my father's a big wig on Wall Street. We all have bastards in our families." She glared. He grinned. "It wasn't anything to do with this, Jeanne. It has to do with that duty and the arranged marriage. If I could keep you, would you come with me?"

"I...." She considered it. "No, I can't even think..." She shuddered. "Would you have to share me?"

"No. Not unless we both married him. If I married both of you, it'd be like he was protecting our family or I brought in a woman to have kids with."

"Not something I could really handle. Is he from the Middle East?"

"No. The family has holdings all over the place. Right now, he's working in Africa so most of us are in Africa." He smiled. "I didn't think you would and you deserved the truth. If I could... I'd go looking at condos with you this weekend." She sniffled but nodded. He kissed her on the cheek. "I'm sorry. I am."

"Why lie?"

"Do you know how often people come after agents and officers to make sure they can't testify?" he asked gently. She shuddered. "Exactly. Not even my team knew that I was dating you, Jeanne. It was to protect you."

"I understand. I would too if I was in that situation." She patted him on the hand. "Thank you for telling me."

"I really did weigh the option of turning it down," he offered, giving her a sad smile. "This morning, someone tried to attack my director and myself because of him; trying to keep him from making it to his marriage. At the office. I couldn't risk you that way."

She nodded. "I understand. He needs your help and I... If things were different," she said, trying to smile.

He kissed her again, then stared at her. "If things were different," he agreed. He took off the bracelet she had given to him, handing it over. "If you need me, I'll be here." She nodded and went back inside. He relaxed, staring up at the sunset. If things had been different he definitely could've loved her. He saw Gibbs waiting and got up, walking over there. "She's probably crying."

"Probably," he agreed. "It was a good talk. A good reason." He opened the car door. "Since you left yours by my house."

Tony nodded, letting him drive him that way. The neighbors glared at Tony when he walked toward his car. "Sorry. Had to protect Gibbs. Federal agent stuff." He got in and went home, going to sulk to a movie. This really blew the big one. He hated that assignment. He hated the director for making him do it. Right now, he could really harm the director for sending him at her. But he wasn't that sort of guy.

***

Xander walked up to his aunt, staring at her before looking at one of her advisors. "You fucking piece of shit," he said bluntly. "Sending those nice demons at my guards to kill them." He gasped, shaking his head. "Really? A few of them told me who paid them on my brother's behalf." He snapped and waved. The guards who had went with him brought in the one sobbing. "Point at the one who paid you." He pointed, then fell on the queen's feet sobbing.

She looked at him then at the guards. "Is the threat dealt with?" she asked.

"Fully, my queen," one reported. "Lord Xander took care of the problem. A few tried to attack us when we showed up to talk to their leader. It was handled efficiently by him before we could even draw a weapon."

She nodded, looking at her nephew. "Are they going to cause more problems?"

"No. Their queen of the hive said she did not allow such a contract and wished me many happy returns on my upcoming marriage."

She nodded. "Very well. Is he going back to his people?"

He looked then at the guards. Who all shrugged. He looked at the sobbing being, then looked at his aunt. "I'll let you decide that." He glared at the advisor. "You and I need to have a talk about my safety issues." He tried to run. The guards stopped him. His aunt waved and they took him away. Xander looked at her. "The other two contracts she had been told about are also canceled." He pulled out two things from his pocket, laying them on the ground in front of her feet. "There's not going to be many more problems." He walked off.

She looked at the two hearts and winced. She knew what those belonged to. It was not a good thing. She looked at the being. "Will you vow not to attempt to harm him again?" He shook his head. "If you cannot, I cannot let you go." He nodded, but bowed his head. "Guards." They took him to end him since he was going to be a threat. The hearts got taken to the chemistry and potion lab to be preserved. Someone might like them as diplomatic presents some year. Or they might come in useful.

Xander went to the gym to work out and calm down. One of the guards shoved him in the pool area and locked the door. Xander smiled, stripping down to swim some laps. He needed to calm down. The dog was put in with him and she came to swim too, happy to be with the daddy.

***

Buffy got done calming down the sobbing demon and walked off calling Dean. "Dean, Buffy. Can you please go beat the hell out of your boyfriend for attacking some demons?" She listened to him complain. "No, big, huge, apparently tried to attack a few of you but he went with only two guards. He's still human, Dean, not a slayer. He can't do things like that because he'll get hurt and die." She listened then snorted. "No, that's a slayer job, Dean. Not a Xander job, not a hunter job, that's a slayer job. Even with a few guards. Or get me to where he is so I can swat him for getting into trouble?" She huffed when he said no and hung up. "I'll get him the next time he shows up," she decided.

***

Dean hung up and threw his phone across the room. His brother and father stared at him. "What did Buffy want?" John asked.

"To get to where Xander was to beat the snot out of him for handling the ones that went after a few of us."

"Xander did what?" Sam asked calmly.

"I don't know yet." He dropped into the meditative state, going to see who was available. He found Tony and dragged him to talk. "What happened?" he demanded.

"Huh?"

"Buffy called me to help her get to Xander to go beat his ass for taking on some demons that attacked some of us?"

"Oh, that. His brother paid a few to take us out before the wedding so it couldn't happen. One attacked me in front of my director." Dean glared. "Why was Buffy concerned?"

"Because apparently he went to handle it with a few guards."

"I didn't go."

"Neither did I."

"Huh." He left, going to call Cam and see if he had went. No, he hadn't.

Dean woke himself and disappeared to the palace. One of the guards pointed. "What happened?"

"Lord Xander did not want to take those who could be a target with him when he went to fix why some of you were targets," the guard told him. "It was very efficient."

Dean growled. "Where is he? Even if we're targets, we're supposed to go with him."

"He's calming down in the pool with Cane," Xander's aunt said. "He took some of the palace guards to protect you and the others, Dean."

"It's still my job!" He walked that way. They got out of his way, apparently he was clearly pissed off. He unlocked the pool door and walked in, finding Xander swimming while the dog paddled around. "Xander, you should've taken us. That's our job."

Xander flipped over to look at him. "I'm not going to take someone that they want to kill to deal with the issue, Dean. That's endangering you guys. Get over it. You can go the next time as long as you're not under a death threat by those demons." He dove back down and flipped to swim in the other direction.

Dean paced beside the pool until he came up for air. "It's our job to protect you, even if they want to kill us."

"You were busy on a hunt. Cam was on a mission. Tony was at work and so was Don," he said impatiently. "For that matter, I would've went by myself but the guards got picky. Not like they had to do anything besides stand there and look imposing."

"You're not a slayer."

Xander stopped swimming to stare at him. "I hear enough of that shit from Buffy. If you're going to give it to me too, go away, Dean." He turned and got out, the dog following, happily wagging her tail. Dean walked around to stop him. "Let go."

Dean backed off, staring at him. "We would've went and should have went."

"It was my brother's shit, Dean. I can handle it."

"It's still not a solo hunter situation." He stared at him.

Xander moved closer. "I had enough of Buffy and Willow treating me like shit because I'm normal," he said coolly. "I'm sure as hell not putting up with it in anyone I plan to be with for an extended period of time." He stared him down. "I'm well aware of my limits, no matter who thinks what about me." He walked around him, the dog following. "C'mon, Cane. Let's visit the outside then go watch tv." The dog barked, following him and his naked body outside and then to their room.

Dean seethed for a few minutes, making himself calm down before he followed him. He found him curled up around the dog in bed, petting her while they watched a sitcom. "I know you're able to hunt, Xander."

"Really? Can't prove it by earlier."

"That wasn't hunting. That was a war action."

Xander stared at him. "I was totally peaceful until something attacked me." He went back to watching it. "I don't need the self-esteem rotting, Dean. So if you're going to whine or bitch, go do it at Sam. I'm not going to be that sort of wife."

"The guards are here to help you with situations like that," Dean said more calmly. "That's our job."

Xander stared at him. "Not when they would instantly attack you because they wanted to kill you. Then you bring people who aren't targets."

"They weren't going to go after you?" he asked sarcastically.

"That's why I didn't bring the dog. I could handle myself and you guys were going to be accessory targets. Therefore I didn't bring someone else I'd have to worry about."

Dean stared, glaring some. "It's still our job to follow you."

"I'm not going to take you guys into something dangerous unless I have no option. I'm not that sort of wife either." He glared. "I'm also not going to discuss this any longer. You can tell the blonde thing that sent you to mind her own business. I'm perfectly able to handle that sort of thing, even being *normal*." He changed the channel. Cane barked. "Fine, we'll watch the next one." He turned it back. She settled in to watch the stupid human tricks show. "I know, they need to be able to play fetch," he told her, giving her a belly rub.

Dean huffed. "I would've went."

"You were still a target."

"Then it's my job to handle that for myself and Sammy."

Xander gave him a look then went back to watching the stupid humans try to show they had talent. "You can go with me during the next apocalypse."

"I think that's a 'duh' situation," Dean said dryly. "Of course we will be." He huffed, staring at his future mate. "I'm not helpless."

"I know that. I'm still better with a sword."

"One of them told Buffy."

"Yay," he said flatly. "You can tell her to suck me for all I care about it."

"Fine." He walked off. He went back to the motel, flopping down. "His brother put out a contract on us," he told Sam.

"I heard. I called Tony and he told me which ones it was. Is it ended?"

"Probably. He's huffy about it too. Trying to defend not bringing us because we'd have been a target. He said the palace guards didn't get to help either."

"He has to have some skills since he survived so long in Sunnydale," Sam pointed out.

"I don't care!" Dean shouted. "He still went without us. We're his guards."

"He may have a point if you boys were the target," John said. "Though I'd have went anyway."

Dean nodded. "Exactly! He's not seeing that though. He said we can go with him to the next apocalypse."

"We're due one in six days," Sam pointed out. "We've kept that from him so he can't show up and get killed."

Dean stared at him. "I don't think he's heard about that one."

"Good!" John agreed. "He'd be a target and you'd be doing the same thing he just did to you." They stared at him. He smirked back. "The exact same thing, boys." They slumped and shook their heads. "Any other points he made?"

"He said he's not that sort of wife if I wanted to keep bitching," Dean said dryly.

"No, probably not." John got up. "Get some rest and apologize tomorrow, Dean. Before you possibly die." He went to his own room to take his own advice. He didn't want to be in an apocalypse situation but oh well!

Dean and Sam stared at each other. "We need to tell the others," Dean said.

"They probably already know," Sam pointed out. "They've spent time with Xander and talked to him a lot more than we got to, Dean."

Dean slumped further. "I don't know what's going on."

"We'll figure it out," he promised, patting his brother on the shoulder.

***

Xander answered his phone. "Yeah, Pua?" He listened. "Oh, shit. Okay, call the other girls. Let me get some help." He hung up and called John, but his went to voicemail. He called Sam, voicemail. Tony, voicemail. "Huh, I guess it's us." He hit the mark that sent the Range Rover back to the palace and walked inside. "Pua's village is being attacked by higher demons," he announced to the first guard he saw. "Get healers, get me some soldiers, meet me there. I'm going after the girls."

"Let us get the girls, you go help," he ordered. "It'll be faster." Xander nodded and grabbed some weapons then headed. The guard sounded the alarm and sent out orders, then followed their prince. He searched for the other guards but they were in their own battle. "Lord Xander, the others are in a battle in a large city full of demons."

"Probably LA," he sighed. "Which means it's probably an apocalypse." He nodded once. "We can handle this." He got Pua's family to lead the others out of the way of the battle. The town would be destroyed but they'd live. The other girls showed up with more guards and more warriors. He handed out weapons and they went to face down the battle. This was not good. Xander said a silent prayer to the lost slayers that his would survive and dove in to attack the first one.

***

Buffy grimaced, looking around. "Some of us are in trouble," she told the slayer nearest her.

"Yeah but it's not here. I think it's one of the ones that couldn't get here, Buffy."

"I hope they're all right." She dove back into the fight against the invasion. "Goddess, this sucks!" Buffy complained.

"Amen," Sam called from his spot. "Let's hope the hole gets plugged faster."

Buffy caught a clue. "Sam, I think Xander and his girls are having a battle too."

Sam grimaced but nodded. "They tried to get us there but we were already here." He killed the next demon. "Any who can will show up there. Cam's people just showed up here."

"Damn it! He's only got seven girls!"

"He'll be fine," Dean called. "He has the palace guards until we can get there."

"Sure. He'll be fine," she agreed, getting back into the battle. She had to live so she could kill Xander for having an apocalypse somewhere with mini slayers and him being the only warriors.

***

John Sheppard looked around then nodded. "Something's wrong," he said quietly.

"Here?" McKay demanded.

"No, Xander. He's fighting. We need to get to him." He went to get some weapons and Ronon and Teyla. It was time Xander met his team anyway. He got them down there, even though they were horrified, but oh well! "It's an emergency, ask later," he demanded. He let his stripes come out, shocking them. "Let's go. Xander's in a battle too." They rushed off to help him. He found a bloody mess. "Teyla, pull the girls back. Now. Get the two on the ground to the healers. They're in blue." She nodded, moving to do that. He joined in the fight beside his future spouse, getting a grateful look. "Where are the others?"

"LA's having their own apocalypse apparently," he said. He panted and swung his axe then shot the next demon. "We've been doing this for three hours. I want the army!"

"Me too," John agreed. "I brought me and two others who can really kick ass."

"It may be enough," he agreed. He killed the next one and they moved back to the head of the force. He was pulling a stupid move on a shiny throne. "I want artillery," he complained. "Just one fast, hard rocket." He passed between two that were fighting guards. He was closest to the damn thing on the throne. And it was his! He rushed and killed the thing before he could do more than laugh. His head started to reattach so he set it on fire. That ended it and the other demons wailed, most fled, and the rest got cleaned up. Xander panted, leaning on the chair, looking around. "Girls?" he called, heading for them. Two were down. He moved to check on them first.

"They'll live but they're injured, Lord Xander. Let us work," the healer demanded.

"Sure." He moved to check his other girls. "Are we good? More than scratches? I can do stitches and bandage if I have to." They sniffled and he hugged them. "I'm sorry you guys had to see an apocalypse. I really am." He got them calmed down. John came over, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Can we help?"

"Of course." He got the other guards back to be checked over and help them. Kuria had a serious head injury. He and Xander moved to help clean up the girls and then the others. More healers showed up and got them out of the way but they did what they could to help. The other girls as well.

Kuria looked at Xander. "We match," she said quietly.

He hugged her. "I'm sorry, Kuria."

"It is not your fault that we were attacked. They were bad for attacking." She shoved him off. "You blame yourself and I will have my husband spank." He smiled and nodded. "Go help the village. They'll need it." Pua tried to move but the healer doing her stitches made her sit. "He can go check, Pua. That way he can fuss."

"Please, Xander?"

"Of course." He went to do that. He found the guards, nodding at them. "The girls wanted me to quit fussing and check on the village."

"They're fine. No injuries but a few are crying."

"Thank god. Can I have the elders? That way they can look at the damage?"

"Of course." A woman pushed her way past. "Are you an elder?"

"Pua needs some stitches but she'll be fine," Xander told her. She nodded and burst out crying, letting him hug her and calm her down. "Kuria got a hit to the eye and lost one," he said quietly. "Sian is fine but she's not waking up. They were saying she had a small skull fracture." She looked up at him. "She's with the healers." He pointed. She ran off to check on her daughter. The elders came out. "We got them away from as much as we could. There's no more meat beasts though," he said quietly.

"Why did they attack?"

"I don't know. There's a few left alive. We can ask." He walked them that way, stopping his guard from killing one. "Why did you attack today?"

"The others are having their own fun. All the slayers would be there," he sneered. "That would make this a good place to take over. Weak, fertile, plenty to eat and play with." Xander stabbed him.

"There's an invasion in a city in the US," the guard told the elder. "A full plane opened a portal to invade."

The elders all nodded. "That sounds bad. I'm glad ours was smaller." They went to look at the damage. The beasts were all dead. A few of the houses were destroyed. The people were fine and they would live and move on. They always did. Xander's aunt showed up. The guards all bowed and the elders stared at her. "Xander?"

He looked and walked over. "Aunt. We won. My girls are mostly all right. Thank you for letting me have the extra healers."

"It is no problem, Xander." She looked around. "Those foul beasts. Why attack now?"

"LA's having an invasion by another plane of demons."

"I had heard."

"I hadn't. Or else I might've been there instead." She sighed but patted him on the cheek. "We managed it though."

"We did," John agreed. "I needed to be here sooner."

Xander pinched him on the arm. "You got here in plenty of time to help, John. Please don't beat yourself up. You helped a lot." John smiled and patted him, making him wince. "I'm fine."

"I say the same thing and our doc makes me get checked anyway," John assured him, walking him over there. One healer was only bandaging so he let her have him.

"Lord Xander." She looked him over. "Take off the clothes." He groaned but did that. She looked over the wounds and sighed, getting what she could to help him. John, Ronon, and Teyla had already been handled. It was his turn now. The girls were clustered around those two tables. Pua's mother as well. She looked at him. "I can send someone to get their families."

"In a few hours. Let them rest and calm down first." She nodded and he let her stitch him and bandage a few other cuts. He took off his eye patch and handed it to the nurse. "She'll need to cover that since you can't bandage it." She nodded, taking it to her. Xander looked down, concentrating on his calming down.

John walked over, tipping his face up to look at him. "Missing it doesn't upset us," he said quietly. "At all, Xander." He kissed him on the forehead. "Where's the car and the dog?"

"Palace. I wasn't going to risk her here."

"Good." He smiled and kissed him on the lips then looked at him. "Are you nearly done?"

"Nearly," the healer agreed. She finished and let Xander put back on his pants. He had a few cuts bandaged and stitched but he'd be fine. They walked over to the girls, who all smiled weakly. The healer followed. "We need to move these two and a few others to a hospital instead of a field tent."

"Of course," Xander agreed. "If my aunt will let us."

"Of course you can, Xander."

"Thank you, Aunt." The girls, and the mother that wouldn't let go, got taken to the hospital to tuck those two in. The others got taken as well. The guards and Xander moved to pick up dead demons to burn them. That way they couldn't cause any diseases and wouldn't foul the ground with their blood. Xander's aunt sent for a few meat beasts from the palace to help the village then they disappeared as well. By nightfall, things were cleaned up and the village could rebuild and relax again.

***

Xander showed up in a village, looking at the man waiting. "She's injured but not dead," he said quietly. The man sighed and called Kuria's husband. He came jogging out. "She got hit on the temple with a claw. It took out her eye." The man shuddered. "She's alive, she'll heal, but she needs the patch."

"I want to see my wife."

"Of course. That's why I'm here."

He nodded and yelled something at his mother, letting Xander bring him to the hospital. He walked in and Pua pointed. "It was bad?" he asked.

"Over three hundred demons," Xander told him. "All trying to invade Pua's village."

Kuria's husband shuddered. "Then that was truly something she was needed for." He sat beside her, shifting her hair back. "We will move on from here and I will nag if you do not rest," he said in her ear.

Xander smiled and left to get the other set of parents. He found them outside their house. They lived in a smaller city's suburbs. "She's alive but she's not in great shape," he said as he appeared.

The mother stared at him. "Is she going to live?"

"Yes but it'll take a few weeks for her head to heal." He sat down, looking at them. "Three hundred demons decided to take the opportunity for an invasion in Pua's village." They shuddered. "She got hit on the head very hard by something, it cracked the skull slightly. We have her at the palace hospital. She'll heal but it'll be a few weeks. Do you want to come visit?"

"Of course," her father said. He went to get a few things and Xander brought them with him. He walked them to her bed. The others were filled with people who were banged up, cut up, and in pain. He looked at Xander. "We won?"

"We did," he agreed. "I got the head demon myself."

"Why today?" her mother asked quietly.

"Because in the city where I'm from, a whole demon world tried to invade. They decided it was a good day." She nodded once and hugged her daughter. "She's being kept asleep so she's not in pain. The healers will be in soon." He walked off. John caught him and hugged him. He relaxed against him. "If they had told me, I would've been there," he said quietly.

"I know."

"Dean's still probably pissed I didn't bring him the other night."

"I heard and I agree with your reason for not doing so but you should've brought more guards." He smiled. "Be the biggest threat you can when you have to be."

"Yeah, but they didn't get to do anything."

"I heard." He kissed him on the forehead. "C'mon. Let's go talk to my teammates and the dog. Ronon's staring at it like it's strange."

"Sure." They walked out to the courtyard, finding Ronon being licked and jumped on. "Cane." She ran over to sniff him and bark. He smiled, petting her. "You're such a good girl. If you weren't so important, I would've brought you too." He sat down, getting comfortable and letting her sit in his lap. "Thank you both for helping us today," he told them.

"It's what we do," Teyla said. "I have not seen that sort of being before."

"Hopefully no one else will see them again," Xander told her. He looked at his dog then at her. "I'm glad you guys could come with John. I know he depends on you guys a lot."

"These are Ronon and Teyla." He smiled at them. "I told you guys something about Xander. This is Xander. And Cane. Cane was given to him by Cam." They smiled at him and sat down to get to know someone important to their friend. Other guards came out and Xander had to go talk to them. They all insisted they were fine and he fussed anyway. They had to escape to dinner to not get fussed at. John smiled. "Xander, come back here." He came back to talk to them some more. That would let the guards escape better. Tony showed up, staring at them. "How is LA?"

"We survived. A few of the slayers are banged up but we all lived," he said, looking at Xander. "What did you do?"

"We had a small invasion force of our own taking advantage of yours," John said.

"Shit," he muttered. Cane barked. "I know, it's a bad word," he complained. He sat down, looking Xander over. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine and the girls are mostly fine. Two are seriously injured." He looked and waved them out. They came out to cling to him and get some comfort and fussing in of their own.

Pua spotted Teyla and smiled. "Are you a slayer as well?"

"Teyla is a good warrior of her people," John told her. "On par with a slayer but not gifted."

"Oh." She moved over to talk to her. The other girls let Xander go and came to talk to them too. Ronon got just as many questions. They both relaxed as the girls asked them all sorts of questions. One of the guards brought out a basket and put it down then fled from the fussing people.

***

Xander appeared with a paper. Buffy glared. "Don't even start."

"You're not a slayer," she said firmly.

He popped her on the side of the head. "Shut up. I don't wanna hear it." She looked confused. "I had enough over the last few days. Your bitchy fit that you sent with Dean was no more welcome than the current one. Yeah, I know I'm not a cranky female." He stared her down. "It doesn't mean that the girls I train aren't some of the best." He handed it over and disappeared to sulk. Maybe it was on the slayer gene. One of the girls had tried the same speech and lost it when he had scowled. John had taken his teammates back to their base late last night so he was basically alone with the girls. They had all called their families since none had brought their phones. So they were good to wait on the other two to get out of the hospital. He went to sulk with the dog and maybe a snack. He was hungry. The dog was usually hungry. It worked well. It was sunny in the courtyard so they could sit and nibble until the girls found them.

Back in Cleveland, Buffy was pouting. "Xander's mean," she told Giles, who had been in the kitchen with them.

"He did have a point. Reminding him that he's not a slayer has always upset him because you always use it to put him down." He read over the account, going pale. "Beyond that, I'm glad he was there with those girls." He let her read it when she snatched it from his hand. "Did he say if all the girls survived?"

She skipped to the end. "One skull fracture, healing well. Kuria's missing an eye." She went back to her spot and finished reading. "Damn it!" she shouted. "We need to send more girls that way."

"A lot of the girls couldn't handle Africa," he pointed out gently.

"I don't care!" she complained. "This isn't the first huge demon Xander had to handle!" She stomped off to talk to Faith. Some of the girls that were in her troupe would do well down there. "Faith!" She came out of the classroom. "We have to send Xander some reinforcements."

"Why? More bad things?" She took the report and read it over, grimacing. "The girls could definitely use some backup. We can ask Dean and Sam to go."

Buffy relaxed. "That would get them closer to Xander for a bit too." She smiled. "Thank you."

"Welcome, B. We'll start prepping some to head that way too." She went to pick out some girls to ask their trainer to work on desert skills. Faith knew she wouldn't do well there but some of them were from some pretty harsh environments at home so maybe.

Buffy went to think and consider if Xander and Giles had been right. Was she down on them for not being slayers? Or was she just worried because they weren't slayers?

***

John Winchester showed up at the palace, looking around. "Are we all good?" he asked the guard.

"Yes, sir. Xander's with the girls before he brings them home tonight."

"That's fine. The two injured?"

"Still injured." He pointed. "Fussing like you would not believe."

John smiled, walking to check on the girls. "Ladies, Buffy said congratulations on winning and she hopes you girls are all right. If not, you can call and talk to her." They all smiled at him. He sat down, looking at the boy. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. The stitches are healing well. Did everyone live through the invasion?"

"Yeah, they did fine, kid." He smiled, patting one of the girls on the back. "Relax. Before you cramp." She relaxed again. "Buffy's planning on sending a few girls to help for a bit. That way you can worry about other things."

"I think we're doing fine," Kuria said.

"She has this theory that Xander needs to be protected," he told her. "This is her way of worrying. In truth, it's not a bad idea for around the wedding. That way he can fuss and worry here while you girls are still covered." They grinned at that. "Buffy wanted to know if you needed any gear replaced."

"We have gear?" Xander asked.

"Weapons?"

"I think I've been borrowing out of here," Xander admitted. The guard with them nodded. "Is that a problem?"

"No. By the way, the shotguns for the girls are in. We gathered them already and have a pack to go home with them." Xander beamed at him for that. "Including ammo."

"Rock salt?" John asked.

"Doesn't really work with a lot of the demons down here," he said. "Not too many spirits and not too many water demons." They all nodded. "The others are covered." He smiled at the two stomping in. "Boys."

"Hey, Bob," Sam said with a grin. He looked at Xander. "We're here to help you for a bit. That way you can make sure no one else gets a bright idea while they think you're all recovering." Xander smiled and nodded. "Think you'd mind traveling with us?"

"It'll be cool. One of you can help Cane nap in the backseat." They grinned and the girls all hugged them. Xander looked at one. "You can't go home yet. The healer said no."

"I heard." She pouted. "That'll leave us unprotected."

"I can go hang out around there," Xander assured her.

"Thank you, Xander."

"You're welcome." The girls all got things and lunches to bring back with them so the guards could take them home. John made notes so they could get more gear shipments when needed. He suggested a few things and the guards went over the ideas with him. Most would help.

Dean looked at Xander. "Are we good?"

"I'm fine."

Dean leaned down. "Not what I asked," he said quietly.

"I think that's up to you," he said, looking at him.

"True." He patted the dog on the head, then the boy. "We'll work things out while we're traveling." Xander nodded. "Are we going tonight?"

"Tomorrow. Give the girls a night with their families before we show up. Their moms will be worried and I don't want beaten."

"That's a good plan," Sam agreed, smiling at the dog when she padded out. "Hi, Cane." She sniffed and got petted then went to cuddle the daddy. "Is she okay?"

"She's fine. Just up from her nap and I'm not playing." The dog barked, looking at him, tail starting to wag. "Get them to play. They have balls." One got tossed and Dean caught it, setting in to play fetch with her. She was a happy puppy once again. Xander relaxed, getting comfortable on his cushion. Cane pounced him with the ball so he laughed and threw it for her. She loved playing with him the most. Wouldn't give the ball back to Dean or Sam. They sat, relaxed, didn't talk, and just played with the dog for a bit. It was a nice way to unwind from an apocalypse.

***

The guard that brought Kuria back sat down with her family to tell them how to help her adapt to not having that eye, including how to adapt her fighting. It was a welcome bit of advice and they got told Xander would be by soon with Dean and Sam, that they were in the town of the one girl that was still too injured to go home. They understood and agreed it was fine. They could work with her for now. The guard left them to fuss over her for the night. Her husband was getting good at it. Even Xander thought so.

***

Xander appeared in the street, looking at the people, smiling from his spot against his Range Rover. This was a small community and it ran on the village principle even though they were near a semi-major city. "She's still got a week or so of healing so I'm going to temp for her for a few days," he told them. The elders smiled at him. "Her parents will come back with her." He moved forward. "Elder, she'll need some reduced duties for a month or so."

"What happened to her, Xander?"

"Her skull has a small fracture, an open spot," he explained. The elder shuddered. "Slayers heal faster or else she'd still be in the hospital. She's allowed out of bed for a few hours at the moment."

"I can make sure she doesn't overwork herself if her mother doesn't," he promised. "You can watch their children?"

"Sure. Why not. They're all older, right?" He nodded. "Then that's cool." He brought Dean and Sam over, with the dog of course. "These are Dean and Sam, two of my guards."

"Welcome to our village," the elder said with a smile. "We don't usually have many problems. Only one over the rise and into the foothills."

Xander looked that way. "We'll figure out what sort of threat they are," he promised. The elder smiled and let them into the house, making Xander grin at the kids. "Hey, kids." They all jumped up to hug him. "She's fine. Your parents and your sister will be back in a few days. I'm going to stay until she's back. All right?" They nodded. "What's got to be done around the house today?"

"We gathered eggs," one of the older two said. They were thirteen-year-old twin boys. Xander smiled at him. "I've managed to feed them so far with some help. I had no idea cooking was so hard."

"It can be," Xander agreed. He sat down. "These are Dean and Sam, two of my guards." The kids all smiled at them. "Let me work on dinner while Dean gets me some firewood and Sam makes sure the camp is safe?" Sam and Dean nodded, going to do that for him. The kids got settled down and he sent one of them to go milk the goat for him. It would be handled and they'd be fine. Xander could get some experience with kids now. Sian's mother would be thankful she didn't have to come home and clean up a mess. Xander got the others cleaning the house and it was better. He fixed dinner and the kids settled in for the night. Sam sat with them and read them something, which made them happy kids. Dean told them a story too and it was even better. The kids went to sleep and they arranged themselves in the living room area. That way the kids were protected.

***

Sian came back six days later with her parents, holding her head because the transport had made her dizzy. "Elders," she said when they came out to greet them. "I'll be fine."

"Xander told us, Sian." One patted her on the cheek. He looked at Sian's mother. "We have let them spoil your children so they wouldn't worry. Xander has also scouted that problem in the foothills and told someone official that they were there since it is a human threat."

"That's very nice of him." She smiled and walked to their house. Dean stood up when they walked in. She looked around. "Someone cleaned very well, Dean. Thank you."

"Not a problem. We'd never let you guys be uncovered if possible." He looked at Sian. "Go lay down. I know how dizzy you are." She smiled and went to do that. "Xander and the boys are out back learning how to braid baskets from one of the other women. Sam's helping with a trade situation by driving them to the other village." Her father beamed. "The goats were milked this morning, the eggs all gathered as well. Xander made bread last night and there's some left." He pointed. "He might've made too much of the other stuff too." He patted her on the arm. "We'll leave tomorrow." She nodded, letting him go get the other children. They ran in to show her their baskets, getting praised for how nice they were, and they went to check on their sister before going back to their lessons. Xander came in and gave them a hug then turned over the house to them. They could spend the night in the Range Rover, like usual. It had enough room to camp in the back if they put down the back seat.

Sian's mother looked around. "They have truly covered our family well while we were gone." She went to check on the food, finding it nice things. The daughter was already resting so it was good. They sat down to talk to their eldest sons. That way she knew what needed to be done. They had told Xander and them so it all got done. She was impressed. He would make a good mother some year.

***

Dean got summoned back to the palace, looking at the queen. "Yes, ma'am?"

"Dean, rumors are going around that you may not be joining them?"

"I'm still working on some things," he admitted. "Including some confusion of my own, ma'am."

She nodded. "You have been alone for a long time."

"Yes, we have, but also because Xander's more...independent than I would normally expect. We've had a few fights and I'm not sure I can get close to him. We're working on it while we travel."

"Good idea," she praised with a smile. "You'll let me know?"

"Of course. Very soon, ma'am."

"Good boy." She smiled at the advisors that were coming in then at him. "How is he settling into his role?"

"He leads very well."

"He does, even if he does ask my permission for things." Dean nodded. "Do you think he'll be able to handle things?"

"I do."

"Even better then. Did you have someone measure you for your wedding outfit?"

"Yes, ma'am. Mine'll be made last in case. I've already talked to them."

"Good. Your present?"

"I'm doing the honoring him present. I have no idea how but I am."

She patted him on the head. "It'll be fine, Dean. You'll make a very good husband." He nodded, smiling some. "Go back to him before he finds more trouble. He seems to be able to find it in the strangest places."

"Him and Sammy both," he agreed dryly, making her giggle. He went back to them.

She looked at her advisors. "So it is set?" They nodded. "Good. His brother?"

"Still confined in a place we know not," one told her grimly.

"Then things will happen as they will," she decided. "The remaining reception ritual?"

"Is planned and ready to happen," they agreed.

One coughed to get attention. "Xander has asked for someone of his troupe to add to the wedding." She nodded at that. "Then we will see what that becomes." They went to go back to their planning. That poor boy was still so confused about things.

***

Xander stopped to talk to the chaos sorcerer he had summoned, walking him away from his guards. Dean and Sam were curious but they accepted it was strange Xander business. The man nodded and said something quietly before leaving and Xander came back. They'd see what happened from that later on. Xander went to the local market to get them something to nibble on. It was good for them and even the dog got to stretch and walk some. She was tired of sitting today.

***

Willow was still researching when Dawn found her that night. "What are you doing now?" Dawn asked. "We don't have an upcoming apocalypse and you've been researching non-stop for days."

"I'm finding a way to get Xander free of this wedding."

"You really can't, Willow."

"I can so." She glared at the younger woman. "Xander's not like that."

"What? Not gay? Or not able to make a commitment? Because I think Xander will do just fine being married." She walked off to talk to Buffy. "Willow's having an issue."

"Do you have to nark right now?" Buffy complained, with a sigh at the end.

"That depends, do you want your female best friend to ruin your other best friend's wedding?" Buffy stared at her. Dawn nodded. "She's researching to find a way to get him free of the wedding, her words."

"Crud," she muttered, walking off. "Willow!" The library's door slammed shut. She was a slayer, she could kick it down. And did. Then took the books from Willow and hauled her out of the library. She dragged her all the way to the coven members they had in residence. "She's trying to stop Xander's wedding."

"We thought she was jealous," one of them said.

"Xander's not like that! He would never let himself be married off that way!" Willow complained.

Buffy looked at her. "He seems pretty content. It means someone's going to be there for him all the time. I think he's mostly happy but a bit nervous since he can't figure out what to do with his tentacle." She turned when she felt the air shift. "Cam." She smiled.

He smirked. "She's doing what to Xander?"

"Trying to stop the wedding."

"Ah." He looked at her. "I can find you a spot where you'll be a good benefit to the world until you die." She shrank away from him. "We could use someone on our project who can handle problems without freaking out." She moved closer to the witches. "Don't bother Xander, Willow. You won't like it when we conscript you for the rest of your life." He looked at Buffy. "He said what?"

"He's still a bit confused about the tentacle stuff."

"That's fine. I can talk to him about that." He smiled. "Thank you for stopping her." He disappeared, going to where Xander, Dean, and Sam were. He sat down next to his mate, looking at him. "If Tony hadn't interrupted, I would've gladly shown you what it was for," he said quietly, getting a blush back. "Nothing too intense, because we have to be careful of noise, but maybe just simple hand jobs." He took a kiss. "How's this trip going?"

"It's going pretty good. Even if Dean hates my music."

Dean shrugged. "I'm used to real rock. Xander listens to modern rock and some country."

"That's something you guys can work out. Find some way to decide who gets the stereo control." Cane came over to sniff him, putting her nose down his shirt. "Hi, baby." He petted her, making her a happy puppy. "So, why camp here tonight?"

"It's about time and we didn't want to impose on the next village," Sam said with a small shrug. "This way we're not causing problems and the next village gives us dirty looks according to Xander."

"The last time someone asked me if I was a witch," Xander said with a small shrug of his own. "It'll avoid problems."

Cam nodded. "That makes sense." He let the dog go pet the daddy. "If you two need to check on something, I can stay tonight," he offered.

Don appeared, looking at them. "This is a cute gathering." He grinned, sitting down on Xander's free spot. The dog sniffed and let him pet her too. "Hi, Cane." He grinned. "Guys, go check with your dad." They gave him a dirty look but they gave them some privacy. Cam looked at him. "Night off?"

"For now. We'll see about later." He grinned. Xander relaxed. "I know, we're cute." Don nodded. Cane barked. Xander got up to get her some food, making her a happy, bouncy puppy. Xander fed her and sat down between them again. Cam smiled. Don grinned. They got closer and gently got Xander used to them. Don and Xander had to talk to get used to each other. Cam and Xander got to the cuddling point. So they could do that tonight.

The back of the range rover was set up to camp in and they cuddled up together. Don apparently liked cuddles too. Cane got the front seat and occasionally leaned back to lick the daddy's head whenever she woke up. It was a good night. Not sexual good but cuddling and a bit of touching good. When Sam and Dean came back, Don groaned but headed home to shower and go to work. Cam went to shower and hit the morning briefing. Xander got up and stretched, letting the boys help him undo the back so they could get back on the trail. They could talk during the driving.

***

Dean looked at Xander after subtly getting rid of Sam for a bit. "So I guess we should talk?"

"Yeah, we probably should," Xander agreed. Sam was walking Cane off to find something for dinner. He shifted closer. "I'm sorry if I was bitchy the last time we talked."

"No, I get that." He smiled. "In the future, remember that we're here to help you destroy things that need it." Xander nodded. He patted him on the wrist. "We'll be okay."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm certain." He grinned. "I can still flirt, right?"

"Of course."

"Thanks." He built the fire up higher and looked over as Sam came back with the dog. "Find anything?"

"Small rabbit?" He held it up. Cane barked. "She was very helpful."

"She's helped me hunt too," Xander agreed, taking it to spit and put over the fire.

"Most people who don't hunt aren't used to rabbit and things like that," Dean said.

"I've eaten worse than rabbit since I've been here," Xander admitted. "Lizard, monkey...." Sam shuddered. "You eat what you can catch sometimes." He looked up as someone crunched through the brush. "Company." They looked and Cane went on alert. Xander casually grabbed her collar. "We're friendly," he called. "If you are." A man walked out, scarred heavily and carrying a weapon. "Evening." He clipped the leash on. "Join our fire?"

"Who are you?" he sneered. "Those that touch men?"

Xander smirked. "I'm a Watcher." The man gave him an alarmed look, backing away. "I'm traveling between my charges. These are two of my helpers. We're cooking dinner. Would you like to join our fire?" The man shook his head. "That's fine. We didn't want to take any food from the local village since it's the thin times."

"I can understand that. Are there girls around here? Protectors?"

"Next country over," Dean said. "Another one to the south."

He nodded. "Thank you. If we have problems?"

"You can tell me and we'll handle it," Xander assured him. "I have other things."

"Most of you would not."

"Most of those sort are dead thanks to someone attacking us."

"Oh. There is a thing on the other side of this village. They are causing problems."

"Demons or humans?" Dean asked.

"I do not know or care."

"We'll look into it tomorrow morning," Sam promised. The man nodded and walked off. "Where is it? What time of day does it show up?" he called.

"To the east and it's watching, but no idea otherwise."

"Sure," Xander agreed. He turned the rabbit. Dean took the leash and Xander got his stuff to scout. "Who...."

"Me," Dean said. "Sammy, put her in the car for now. Watch the camp." Sam nodded, letting Xander do it. He cooed and the dog pouted but oh well. They merged into the brush, going to check on that thing.

Sam turned the rabbit, making it burn on the other side too. It'd be good and done by the time they got back. He did give the dog a treat, getting lapped for it. He put some food into her bowl too. That made her happier with being left behind. "If he didn't love you so much, you'd go with him," he assured her. He closed her back in and locked it, then went back to looking over the campsite.

Dean and Xander came back, limping and a bit bloody in spots. "Don't ask," Dean ordered. "Let's go." Sam poured the bucket of dirt they had ready over the fire. The rabbit was brought with him and they got into the range rover to leave. Dean relaxed in the passenger's seat, pulling out the first aid kit. "I had no idea there were so many militias around here."

"Yeah, there are," Xander admitted. He pushed the button on his visor. "Call State Officials," he ordered the phone. "Chad." A phone dialed and a man answered in the native tongue. "This is IWC Agent Harris."

"Yes! I have heard of you!" he said, sounding happy. "Is there a problem?"

"Yes. A village just told us about a problem that turned out to be a militia unit. One that looked fairly young. They're definitely not peaceful. They've been watching that village from what they said."

"Which village?"

"I have GPS coordinates if that'll help."

"That will." Xander read it off. "On that site?"

"Just to the east. That's our camp spot and we're to the west of the village," Dean said.

"That's fine. Thank you for telling us. I'll alert the proper people in that area, Harris."

"Thank you. We're going to the south to see the next protector. Have a better night."

"You as well." He hung up.

Xander pushed the button to hang up and sighed, starting the engine. "Let me," Sam ordered. "You two bandage each other." He wrapped the rabbit up and put it into the back then switched places with Xander. Dean climbed over the seat to help, letting Cane sit up front. He checked the injuries and creamed what should be before bandaging. Xander did the same for Dean. "We good? Need more medical?"

"We're fine," Xander assured him. "Just a few grazes and a few branch lashes."

"Yup," Dean agreed. "Damn, I've never seen anything like that."

"I've unfortunately seen three others," Xander sighed. He petted his dog. "I love you. That's why I make you stay in the car sometimes." She quit pouting and licked him. "Thank you, baby." He petted her and relaxed. Dean grabbed the rabbit, tearing off a piece for them. Cane barked but only Xander gave her a piece. He got another lick. "Thank you, dear." He ate another bite. "Good cooking, Sam."

"Thanks, Xander." He turned on the radio, changing it to an oldies station. They relaxed, eating on the way to a safer spot. They could camp at an actual hotel in the city that was a few hours away. It was safer. Plus it'd have a bathroom. No more peeing in a bush and hoping you didn't piss off a snake.

***

The day had finally come. Xander was in a room hoping like hell the dressers weren't going to piece anything else. He had more jewelry on than Buffy and Dawn both owned, combined. He was staring at the box of jewelry and seriously hoping he had enough on. "No more holes?" he begged quietly.

The guard helping him dress laughed. "Only necklaces and rings left, Lord Xander."

"If I must clank when I walk. Why can't I wear chainmail instead? It's more manly."

The others laughed and finished getting him dressed. He had one piece laid down the part in his hair. It looked like a small snake. It attached to his veil, which he didn't really like. He was feeling more and more like the wife. Which he seriously wasn't. Sam made a better wife than he did. They helped him into the pants and tight shirt, laying the veil around his shoulders. It was a long, woven, patterned silk instead of a lace veil. Finally he was done and got led out. "I'm being carried?" he asked dryly.

"Yup," one of the guards said, smiling at him. He helped him into his seat and out to the starting point. They had a good walk ahead of them. They picked up the litter and carried him off. The others were being led in by their honor guards/friends/family. The litter was put down and he was helped out by John, who handed him to Cam to help him into the seat. He arranged himself, making sure he wasn't sitting on his veil and it wasn't covering his face. The new husbands settled around him, letting him nod at them. They smiled back. He grinned slightly.

The priest stepped up to ask them pertinent questions. They all answered them and they shared the small plate of meat and rice with herbs. Xander fed it to each one and they fed him a bite. He got to sit down again. The priest asked more questions and then he got to feed them some wine, then they fed him a sip. Then his chosen priest stepped up. He heard the gasps and looked at Buffy, who settled down. Ethan Rayne read the spell to bind them, putting other benedictions around it. He did a separate one between John and Rodney. They were bound and Ethan smirked, but sat back down. Then the priest tied them together and had them walk around the feast set in front of them. Then they sat down and everyone cheered.

They were walked into the feast and sat down on the dias on cushions. His aunt smiled and brought up their food with her guards and went to their own tables. Xander served his new husbands food and the rest dug in and ate, talked, and drank. Xander looked and then at his mates. They all stared at him. John looked at something and Xander nodded. They had no idea they were supposed to be poisoned after being married off. That wasn't the sort of ascension they wanted to go through. Xander laid a hand on John's arm. John smirked and repeated what Ethan said to figure it out.

They all ate and his aunt smiled. Until they started to glow. They all flashed out then back, looking much more calm. Rodney looked at Xander. "How?" he asked quietly in the sudden silence from the room. Xander just grinned. "Fine, later?"

"Of course." They got back to eating and Xander smiled. "My aunt did say that we would ascend." A few people gasped and the rest just talked and chatted about what that might mean. At the end of the dinner, Xander got up and walked over to his aunt, bowing before taking the crown off her head. He kissed the center seal and put it on his own head, over the veil. "Thank you for holding that for me, Aunt." She sniffled but nodded. "We will decide if I'm staying here later tonight." He bowed and walked off, going to the slayer table. "Come see us in the morning," he told Kuria in her ear, getting a nod and a smile. "Have a good night tonight with Buffy, Dawn, and Willow." He winked and walked back up there, letting Tony help him into his seat again. He fed them something else, which he had changed. The rice dish was a bit too spicy for him but mini hamburgers were a good thing. They all smiled and ate. Finally they grew tired. "Who?" he asked.

Cam nuzzled him. "Me?"

"Deal," he agreed with a smile. He stood up and took Cam's hand, helping him up. "We're going to retire and relax. We'll send for dinner. Party without us." The watching people laughed and they walked off. The other husbands followed, going back to Xander's suite. Cane was waiting and they settled in to play with the dog while Cam and Xander went to bed. They knew it was being viewed so Cam put a lot into it. Cam helped Xander out of all the jewelry. Piece by piece taken off carefully and put away in the proper box. Then out of the outfit, the veil first. The shirt was a bit of a struggle since it was so tight but he managed it without ripping it. Xander did the same for Cam, though he wasn't wearing many pieces of jewelry beyond his dog tags. Xander gave him a shy look. "Are you ready?"

"Of course." He laid them down, touching, stroking down Xander's side while they kissed. Cane jumped up on the bed, barking at them. "Hi, Cane," Cam said, petting her. She laid down, staring at them. "No, go play with Tony. He needs played with." Tony tossed a ball past the end fo the bed, making her bark at it as she raced to catch it and bring it back to them.

"Sorry."

"It's all right," Cam promised, shaking his head with a smile. He took a kiss, making Xander relax again. He stroked over his stomach, taking off the protective cover. Xander made a small whimpering noise. "It's all right," he promised quietly. He took off his own and shifted closer to kiss him again. He slowly moved his way down, teasing his nipples. Then his belly button. Then his stomach pouch and at that Xander keened and arched up, pressing against his mouth. Cam smiled, tonguing it gently because it was delicate. One hand drifted slowly down to tease the tentacle that was starting to wiggle on its own. He chuckled when Xander tried to wiggle away but that was just him being shy. They could handle that. He left off, coming up to take a kiss, still stroking with his free hand.

Xander panted, staring at him. "Feels different."

"Slightly." He grinned. "You sure you can handle this?" Xander gave him a dirty look so he rubbed their stomach pouches against each other, making Xander flinch, swear, and grab him. Xander even tried to get on top. That wouldn't be as easy so he kept him down and took his mind off things. He could sneak up on him. He shifted his weight to the other side, grabbing the lube and putting it in easier reach then went back to distracting Xander. He felt the bed dip and looked but it wasn't the dog, it was Dean. Who winked and opened the bottle to help him. Xander swore and shifted again when Dean started to work the lube in but that was fine. Cam could take his mind off things very well. He moved back down to play with the stomach pouch some more. Xander had liked that.

Dean swatted at Cam's tentacle. "Dude, not your wife," he complained quietly. Thankfully he was wearing pants at the moment. He got Xander ready and left them alone.
Cam smiled, taking advantage of the longer length to shift up slightly and insert the tip. Xander tensed so he gave him another lick. "Relax."

"It's...."

"Relax, Xander. It doesn't hurt." He licked over it again and Xander shifted. Cam shifted back up so they were face-to-face and slowly inserted more of himself. Xander was staring at him so he grinned. "See? Doesn't hurt. Can feel really nice," he said quietly. He felt something whip against his leg. "Later on, we can do it together," he said in his ear. "Right now, we have to do it this way." Xander nodded and let him take full control of everything. It was nice. It was working. Xander was getting happy and loud. Cane barked a few times but they closed the bedroom door on her so she couldn't come 'save' her father from being loud. Finally Xander got off and went limp. Cam let himself come and relaxed too, holding onto him. "See, not bad," he whispered.

"Not like I'm used to," he said weakly.

"Later on we'll explore other things. When others aren't watching." Xander smiled and nodded, shifting to cuddle. Cam liked that idea. You should cuddle after your first time with someone, especially your new spouse.

Yeah, they could handle this.

***

Xander walked into his sitting area for breakfast, finding the slayers, with Buffy and Dawn, waiting plus someone else. He looked at him. "What?"

"The day's agenda, Lord Xander?"

"Why?" he complained.

"Because it is protocol."

"I'm on my honeymoon. Unless it's an attack, I don't give a damn." The man looked shocked. "We all know I'm not formal. I'm not going to make speeches, throw grand balls unless the husbands want to, none of that formal stuff. So anything today is probably going to be a no-go and unless it's an emergency; I have to talk to my trainees, my friends, and my new spouses. We have some things to settle, like where I'm going to be living."

"Oh, I see. There's some other leaders who want to wish you well, Lord Xander. It would insult them horribly."

"Oh." He grimaced. "Are they willing to wait until this afternoon?"

"Yes. We had planned for you to have a long breakfast with your spouses." He bowed and left to tell them that. It was a different management style certainly.

Xander sat down with a sigh, looking at his girls. "Well, I'm married. It's strange." They all laughed. "I wore *way* too much jewelry too."

"Just think, some day you'll have kids and can make them do the same thing," Sam joked, handing him a plate. "Cane's pouting."

"Cane?" he called, bringing the dog running to jump into his lap. He grunted at the impact but petted and cuddled her. She tried for his food but he diverted her attention and it was a good thing. She finally got down so he could eat and went to play with Buffy and beg Dawn. She was a nice one and would give in. "If she's grinning, she knows she's being naughty," Xander warned.

Dawn smiled, kissing the dog on the nose, getting lapped for it. "You're not naughty. You're a sweet thing. You should tell daddy to give you jerky or something." She ate a bite and Cane jumped to try to get it. "No." She fed her a bit and then tossed the ball. She ran after it and came back to beg some more. "Go beg Sam." She pointed and Cane carried the ball to Sam.

"You're so smart," he teased, petting her and making her happy. He had eaten already.

"We do have to talk about residences," Cam sighed. Xander nodded. He looked at the slayers from the local areas. "I know he doesn't want to leave you girls."

"We may have a solution," Buffy admitted. "We talked last night. John, Dean and Sam's dad, is willing to come over and take up the route for him. He's got the experience and military experience they might need." They all nodded at that. "Can we try it for the month of your honeymoon, Xander?"

"That'd be cool actually." He smiled at her. "Thanks."

"Not a problem. He's the one that pointed out the future problem of your spouses wanting you closer."

"My girls know they only have to call to get me to back them up," he reminded them. "Even if John's doing all the training stuff." They smiled and hugged him. He hugged back. "I'll miss you guys." They grinned. "That leaves the question of where in the US am I going."

"Well, Tony and I are east coast," Don said. "Dean and Sam wander. Cam is in Colorado Springs. John's nowhere near the US but if he is he's in Colorado Springs. So somewhere between those two areas?"

"Sounds good to me," Buffy agreed. "We have a few trainees in St. Louis."

"No can do," Dean said quickly. "Sorry."

She looked at him. "Why? It's a pretty city."

"A demon took Dean's identity and killed some people," Sam told her.

"Oh. They can do that?"

"Skinwalker," Dean told her.

"Huh. I'll have to look into that." She considered it, looking at Dawn. "You've been in Chicago, St. Louis, and Omaha for some reason."

"Nera's grandfather moved there."

"Oh." She nodded. "Got a good area to suggest?"

"He can move to LA," Cam suggested. "Wherever he goes will have a higher demon population from the ones coming to see him."

"No, Angel wouldn't like that," Buffy said. "He'd get all sorts of upset with that idea."

"Why?" Tony asked.

"Because he's jealous," Dawn said dryly. "Always has been." Buffy nodded. "Topeka's kind of in the middle of that triangle."

"It always seems to begin and end for us in Kansas," Sam said quietly. Dean nodded.

"Topeka would freak about the demons," Tony said. They all nodded at that. "Plus no underground that I know of there."

"Not many," Cam said. "New York is out because it'd destabilize the hierarchy that you already have there." Don nodded at that.

"DC is out because people who shouldn't know about him will find out and cause problems or freak out because of the demon issue," Tony added.

"Riley will tell people just to get back at me," Xander added.

They all nodded at that. It was like Finn to do something like that. "What about him moving to Colorado Springs?" Buffy asked. "I know Tony and Don would have to travel but you guys can teleport, right?"

"The problem might become getting them back to their jobs if they're called out suddenly," Dean told her.

"We'd have to keep an apartment anyway," Don said, looking at Tony. Who shrugged.

"Cam's not always....around here. Neither is John," Xander pointed out. "Plus that would mean a lot of traveling for you two and Dean and Sam."

"We could settle down a bit more," Dean offered. "Or you could have a linked apartment in each city." They all smiled at that. "One of the diplomats might be willing to trade a favor to make one for you."

"So each one could open it in their city and be home?" Buffy guessed. They all nodded. "That might work. Where would the actual apartment be?"

"Linked to one of the palaces," Sam said.

"I like that idea best," John said. "Though I'd like to have a link off-base for us."

"Unlike you two, I have an off-base apartment," Cam said with a grin for John and Rodney.

"If we were closer, we might too," John shot back with a wicked smirk. "But unfortunately we're not on base as often as you are, Cam."

"Cane, they're being mean," Xander said with a point. She barked and came to jump on John and lick him fiercely.

"Hey!" John complained, getting free of the tongue. She got Cam then Dawn, who giggled and rolled around playing with her. John looked at him. "That's mean, Xander."

Xander grinned. Pua shook her head. "He taught the dog to do that to our siblings when they picked on us or Kuria's husband when he picks on her."

"She's not half as mean as Xander promised he would be if my husband was mean to me," Kuria told them with a grin. "He knows not to be mean to me." They all grinned back.

"I'm glad he gave your husband the shovel talk like he gives my boyfriends," Buffy told her.

"Shovel talk?" Pua asked.

"If you treat her wrong, I'll beat you to death with a shovel then use it to bury you," Dawn told them. They all beamed.

Kuria shook her head. "No, he told my husband he would make him beg for any and every God to come save him if he was mean to me. That he was the one who would destroy him so much that he would never want to be a man again."

"I don't think I put it in those exact words, but yeah, basically," Xander agreed with a smile for her. "Who do you want to fill in for you while you're on maternity leave?" She blushed and covered her stomach, ducking her head some.

"We have five girls that John's gotten ready to come help us over here," Buffy told them. "We can set one in her village, not a problem there."

"I will see if my husband will give her a room," Kuria promised with a smile. She got up and went to find her husband, who was probably in the gardens. He liked plants and helping plant their vegetable garden.

"Nera would do well," Dawn said. "She's from a tiny village in Pakistan," she told the other girls. "She'll be more surprised that the rainy season doesn't bring floods."

"She might fit in and we have to discuss what we're paying them," Buffy told Xander.

"Not much use for money in most of their villages, Buffster." The girls nodded at that. "But they do usually need meat beasts like cows or chickens or goats. Maybe some fabric and things. We could work it out so it's a stipend and you go shopping for them."

"That might work," she agreed. "I'll get with John on that tonight before we all go home." The girls smiled at her for that. "I know you guys are going to be busy," she said dryly, looking at Xander.

"I'm still trying to figure out why I had to wear the girl clothes," he complained.

"It's a matter of status," Rodney told him. "If John and I were to have a single ceremony, I'd have to do much the same because I'm higher in status than he is. Simply because most everyone believes I'm mythical." He smirked at his mate. Who cuffed him on the head before taking a kiss.

"At least Abby's not allergic to citrus like you are," Tony told him. He got an evil look back. "She's quarter."

"I heard. I've emailed her a few times actually. She and my sister have talked as well. That way my niece and nephew can talk to someone who knows what it's like to be a halfling."

"I thought all halflings had elf ears," Dawn said.

"No more talking with Andrew about D&D," Buffy complained with a minor swat at her sister.

"I'm so proud Andrew warped you," Xander cooed, giving her a hug. "That's how I taught Pua's brothers the different demon species so they could help a future guardian when one's born nearby."

"Mine too," Sian told them. "My mother said he kept good house like a wife but he clearly had funny mental problems in some things. That must be why he was a Watcher." Xander nodded. "She also said it was nice that the boys learned a skill to help their wives and it was very nice that he taught them a bit about cooking so they could help her feed all of us."

"Some day they'll have wives who'll be unable to cook and things right after she's given birth. They'll have to be able to handle things and a wife would be appreciative of that sort of skill," Xander told her.

"She agreed when my brothers explained it to her. She said she'd tell their future wives so they appreciated it quite a lot. Not many men can cook in my village."

He grinned. "You can go from weaving baskets to weaving fish traps as well," Xander told her.

"My father realized that and taught them how to do that instead. He said it's a good start and the baskets were handy around our house. Especially for my weapons." He grinned at her for that.

Buffy shook her head quickly. "You taught them how to weave baskets?"

"No, I traded cooking for one of the elderly women that didn't have any kids for teaching them how to weave baskets."

"You can cook?" Buffy asked, looking confused.

"Yeah, pretty decently actually." He smirked. "Anya never bragged about that skill?"

"No." She patted him on the knee. "That's why you're the wife," she assured him with a grin.

He swatted her on the head. So did Tony. "Most professional chefs are male," Tony assured her. Kuria came back with John. "Did he like that idea?"

"Very much and I told him about the idea for our paychecks. He was very appreciative of it," she assured Buffy with a smile. "Can we do that soon? I know Pua's village is rebuilding."

Pua nodded. "We have the houses back and have been able to get a few more meat beasts," she told Xander. Who nodded. "It was nice of your aunt to give us a few to start with."

"You guys needed it. I would've if I knew we had some." She gave him another hug. "You guys will do just fine, Pua. John, her village was the one that was attacked."

"I heard about that." He sat near her. "How is the rebuilding going?"

"Fairly well." She drew out the village to explain what was going on.

Xander looked at one of the other girls. "Have the raiders been back your way?"

"Once but we managed to drive them off. The shotguns were very helpful for that."

"I turned them in for it," Xander assured her.

"I know. The army was pleased that we fought back but wanted the traveling doctors to tend to them instead of us." He rolled his eyes. "It was fine. They only wanted fed, not to steal the crops and meat beasts, or the girls."

"I would've shown up and killed their asses," he assured her. "If one of you gets taken, you let me know and I'll make sure they won't do it again."

Sian sighed and smiled. "You were very good getting me free of them, Xander."

"You're welcome. It's wrong of them to do that." Everyone else was staring at him. "What? That was before you guys told me."

Pua smiled. "He ran off the one near our people too. The local military took care of them before they made it across the border."

"Really?" John and Cam asked together.

"He'll yell at you like he did me the last time if you remind him he's not a slayer," Buffy warned.

"I wasn't going to say anything about not being a slayer. Not being a soldier maybe." Xander just looked at him, taking a sip of his juice. "You're not."

"I handled it pretty damn well."

"You're still not," Cam agreed. "For that, ask us for help planning and we will."

"I didn't know you guys yet."

"Uh-huh," Cam said.

Buffy giggled. "Now you see why we fussed so often back home."

"Okay, gotta ask, what was with the glowy?" Dawn asked.

"She fed us something that was poisonous," John said. "She said once that he'd have to ascend after his wedding. We did."

Rodney shook his head. "It's different than the last time."

"It was nice in a way," John admitted.

"If they figure it out, we'll get bitched at," Cam said. "I'm certain Jack is waiting to yell somewhere."

"Let them try," Xander pointed out. He looked at his spouses. "What're they going to do? Whine you to death?"

"Make us help in ways that we may not. The other ascended might complain too," John pointed out.

"They're probably worried about what Xander will fix in his special, unique way too," Buffy said. "What's an ascended?"

"Long story that's partially classified but shouldn't bother you any," John told her.

"So, nothing to do with the demony thing? Or the tentacles or anything?" Rodney gave her an odd look. "Xander was confused so I had to help him get a book."

"No, it's something beyond the demon and tentacles problem." She smiled and nodded. He looked at Xander. "How did you know?"

"Someone handed me a list of things being ordered. Under the flowers was that special spice she used." He smirked. "Figures she was making her family as immortal as she was. Otherwise, wouldn't I have more than one aunt?" They all nodded at that.

"I'm still worried what the other ascended will say," John told him. "They're able to fix this problem and take away the gift."

Xander smiled. "In humans." John groaned. "Anyway," he said, smiling at his girls. "I need sparring time soon to make sure I'm not slower again."

"Not today," Cam told him.

"Yeah, today is for husbandly snuggles," Dawn quipped with a grin. "They probably want you to do the giggling things with the other spouses." She looked at Rodney. "How will that work for you two?"

"He only has to be in the same room that once," he told her. "Though, they will expect you to consummate with the other spouses today as well." Xander nodded at that, looking at the others.

"Hmm, lots and lots of butt sex then," Buffy said. The other slayers all giggled.

Dawn nodded. "Sucks to be your butt, Xander. You're going to be sore." She got up and helped Buffy up. "C'mon, girls. Let's go lounge outside." They brought their breakfasts with them to the courtyard. Cane followed, peed on a bush, then came back. John Winchester followed to get to know his new charges better and to give the family some time alone too. He'd talk to Xander later.

Xander shrugged. "I guess. Anyone in the mood?" Dean groaned and kissed him, then handed him food. "Sure, I can eat." He settled in to nibble and talk to his spouses. "Why did I have to wear the girl clothes?"

"Because you looked so adorable," Dean teased with an evil smirk. "Otherwise Sammy would've had to wear it."

"Hey!" Sam complained. "I'm just as male as you are!"

John looked at Rodney. "Maybe we'll get the one who did his wedding clothes to do yours?" he asked quietly.

Rodney elbowed him. "I don't believe in that institution of ownership."

"Does this mean I have to meet with the minister of the pins about more clothes?" Xander asked.

They all smirked and nodded. The crap that came with ruling an empire was like that sometimes.

***

Cam finally made it back to base and sighed in relief of having the whole mountain around him to protect him from Xander and the dog. Cane was super bouncy to get back somewhere a bit chilly. Xander was super bouncy because he had rediscovered cable tv. They were doing aerobics together today apparently. Then maybe some sheet shopping. Cam walked into the labs, finding Daniel working on something being translated on a blackboard. He could see what the other Ancients had done so he walked up behind him, putting a hand on his head. Well, it appeared he'd have to do something rash to fix that. So he brought Daniel with him back to the ascended state and fixed it, then they reappeared in the lab. Daniel looked at him. "What?"

"Thank you."

"Welcome." He grinned. "That should help some things and maybe you'll cause me less problems."

Daniel hit him on the arm. "I don't try to cause trouble; it finds us. That's why we're SG-1." He got back to work, smiling now. "Am I still...."

"Probably. Back in human form, like I am," he said quietly.

"Great. Now I don't have to worry if we're captured again."

"Don't you mean when?" John Sheppard asked as he walked in. "You guys get captured more than my team does."

"That's why you're SGA-1. Each prime team does the dangerous stuff and makes us new friends," Daniel teased with a smirk.

"Quite probably." He looked at Cam. "Cater and McKay are talking."

"Should we be worried about nuclear destruction?"

"No. She's asking him about Xander."

"I'm going to let them meet later on. Provided we don't have problems."

"Cool." He looked at Daniel, easing out a block that still existed. Daniel stared at him then snickered. "What?" he asked with an evil smirk.

"Thank you for that as well."

"Welcome."

"How...."

"Xander's aunt wanted us to ascend." They both smirked. Daniel snickered. "Yeah, she's presently in Europe pouting."

"Well, at least he hasn't committed her yet," Cam quipped.

John laughed. "I don't think he could. Think his brother is still drugged up?"

"The last I checked, they tried to lower it some and he instantly started a blood sacrifice circle to get himself out of there. So they put him back at the higher dosage."

"Awww. That's so nice of them. Well, maybe some decade," John decided. McKay and Cater walked in together. "I see we don't have to worry?" John asked.

"Not today," Carter said, staring at him oddly.

John looked at McKay. "What did you tell her?"

"She wanted to know how the wedding had went."

"I'm trying to picture him in something flimsy and harem pants," she admitted. Daniel cracked up, shaking his head.

"Nothing that skimpy I'm afraid," John said dryly. "Xander's....." She groaned, shaking her head. He looked and pulled out the picture that had just appeared. Xander was bored apparently. "Here, Xander sent it."

She looked then at them, mouth slightly open. "You too?" she squeaked. "I thought it was just Cam from around here and you were attending!"

"No. I've been one of his guards too." He looked at Rodney, who shrugged. "He wasn't."

"But he's on the same dias."

"Yeah..... That's probably going to be a bit more warping, Carter."

Cam nodded. "Definitely. Oh." He snapped his fingers. "Tony said Abby's fussing because she couldn't come due to her mother throwing that fit."

"I've already talked to her and her mother," Rodney assured him. He rolled his eyes. "Abby's mother is a very nice lady but she didn't want her anywhere near someplace that could cause future deaths as she put it."

"Ah," John said with a nod. "Others suspected that his aunt might try that."

"Is that how...." Carter said. Cam smiled and nodded. "So, how did you stop it?"

"As Xander put it, we went glowy squid boys."

"Huh?" she asked. "Never mind," she said when Daniel opened his mouth. "I'll ask him so I can figure out how to translate him into normal english." She handed the picture back. She looked at John. "So you two?"

He shrugged but grinned. "Kinda."

"Interesting." She looked at Rodney. "Is he like you?"

"No."

"Huh. So there's whole cultures down here that we have no idea about?" Daniel nodded. "Did your sort know?"

"If they talked about demon societies they probably got put away," Daniel pointed out.

"Good point. Should we know? Are they going to cause us problems? Could they help us more? Any that can defeat an Ori if they show up?"

"Well, I don't think the Priors are going to be as problematic as they were," Cam said dryly. John chuckled and shook his head. "And the wraith might just be getting a hell of a shock too."

"Definitely," Rodney agreed. "Especially since they had no idea why ripping John's clothes revealed a tentacle. They said it was odd."

"Thankfully Xander's finally more used to his," Cam sighed, shaking his head.

"Tentacles?" she squeaked.

Cam nodded with a grin. "Yeah."

"No!"

"Yeah."

"No way." She stared at them. Then shook her head.

"We'd show you but then we might get in trouble," John quipped. She hit him on the arm too, making him laugh. "You used to hit harder, Carter. Getting weak in your old age?"

"Too much time in the lab," Rodney told him. "It does it to all of us."

"You still have to requalify with your sidearm," John reminded him. He grumbled but went to the armory to do that. He rolled his eyes. "Don't ask me. He's been pouty all day."

"There's a way to cure that," Daniel said. "It worked with my wife."

John smirked at him too. "Maybe I already tried that." He went to follow his mate.

Cam nodded, looking at Daniel. "He did."

"I don't believe this tentacle story," Carter complained.

Cam flicked off the cameras in there again and adjusted his belt. She blushed but squeaked and backed away. He put it back up and turned back on the cameras. "There's a stomach system but it's delicate. We have them covered."

She stared at him. "Do the doctors know?"

He shrugged. "Probably not and won't."

"Uh-huh. How do you hide something like that?"

"Special ring," he said with a shiteating grin. "Makes it appear like something they would expect."

Her mouth fell open. "What?" she demanded. "I want to see that." He stared at her. "It has to be built on technology."

"No."

"Yes. Not like magic is real," she snorted. He nodded. "No it's not."

"Yeah, Carter, it's just as applicable. Sorry." He left, going to the office to check in. "Sorry, sir, got sidetracked by Doctors Jackson and Carter."

"I had reports of the cameras in there glitching twice," he said, staring at him. "Are you all right to go back on duty?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where is he?"

"Home. We've all linked our homes to one of the local palaces. One of the people with the Council took his place. The dog is really happy and bouncy because it was chilly this morning."

"Dogs can like snow, especially after all the heat he probably got in Africa." He looked at his colonel. "Anything else you need to admit to?"

Cam smiled. "No, sir."

"Jack was swearing over something."

"Probably a lot of things, sir."

"Then let me be blunt, Colonel. Are you still....what you were before?"

"Somehow, between the chaos sorcerer and the poison at the reception I did change a bit, sir. Not that much though." The general stared at him. "What was noted?"

"Between curse words something about glowing....."

"We went glowy squid boys as Xander put it, sir."

Landry repeated that phrase silently. "So you ascended momentarily?" he guessed. "Or something like that?"

"Yes, sir."

"Are you still?"

"I'm not glowing, sir."

"Good point." He stared at him. "Fine, if it comes up, try to warn me first."

"Of course, sir. The same as if I have to expose my true nature to others."

"Thank you. Go back to taunting your team into working, Colonel." He smiled and left, going to do just that. John was back there teasing Sam too. It was a fun game to frustrate her just enough that she huffed but didn't throw a fit.

***

Xander looked up from his sorting things out. One of the guards said that someone was showing up to talk to him. Rumors had been going around all day long. He went back to Cam's house, meeting him. "Hey, Connor."

"You know me?" he asked.

"Yeah." He grinned. "No, we haven't met yet, but I knew Cordelia and she told me."

"Oh. I didn't know Cordelia dated demons." He stared at the obvious demon.

Xander snickered. "We dated *long* ago, Connor." He pointed at a couch and sat down on one end of it. "I've known Cordelia since high school."

"Oh, you're from Sunnydale," he said. That explained some things. He sat down too. "You two dated?"

"Yes, but I totally screwed it up by cheating on her, only at the kissing level but she caught us and it's a bad story." He looked at a corner. "Why can you still come see me?" he asked her since she was floating around.

"I have no idea," Cordelia said. "I can't talk to anyone else in my former life."

Xander nodded. "Well, I was a bit different then," he decided, looking at the confused looking young man sitting across from him. "She's hanging out in the corner." He shrugged. "So, anyway, why come see me?"

"We've been hearing rumors about your ascension and your future plans in the LA demon community." Wesley had told him how to talk to demon lords and not get them pissed at him. Since they had heard various rumors about this one's powers, they weren't sure what he could do yet so he'd be threatening later.

Xander snorted. "I have no intention of doing anything with LA unless you guys need me to show up and help you fight something. I showed up to do some sheet and towel shopping. Like in New York, some uptight people in the hierarchy think I'm like them and will be taking a spot. I couldn't care less about that formal bullshit." Connor gaped. He smiled. "I'm not like that. I never was." He shrugged a bit. "But if you guys need me or my guards to come help, let me know and I'll show up."

"You'd....." He shook his head. "You're a demon."

"Yeah, I know that now." He faded back to his human look. "I still will come help. I wasn't in LA for the invasion because I was in Africa helping with the girls down there."

"You're ...."

"I'm yeah." He grinned. Connor looked *so* confused.

Cordelia looked at Connor. "I don't know if I told him about you," she admitted. "I know I told Fred."

"She said she told Fred about me but maybe not you." He smiled at her then at him. "So, did you two.... date?"

"No!" He shook his head quickly. "She's more like the only mother I had."

"Ah. Well, unless you shop like a Chase or a Summers woman she didn't warp you too much."

"Shop?"

"Yeah. Cordelia taught me about shopping along with Willow and Buffy. Dragged my tired butt along plenty of times to talk about how they looked, carry bags, drive them places...."

Connor shuddered. "She never did that around me."

"Then you're a lucky boy she never got to warp you that way."

"Hey!" she complained.

Xander smirked. "She's not happy that I said that, but oh well."

"Why can't she come talk to us?" Connor asked.

"Because she said she can't talk to anyone she used to know thanks to the Powers That Be," Xander told him. "I'm not exactly the same as I was thanks to Willow shielding me back then."

"You're .... Willow Rosenburg?"

"Yeah." He grinned. "So, how's people? Wes?"

"Um, had to die to defeat something."

"Pity. Angel? Spike?"

"Gone and gone."

"Damn. Angel got his reward from the higher ups?" Connor nodded. "Well, I guess I'm happy for him then. I heard it's like a second chance. That way he can get slightly possessive and jealous about whoever." Connor gave him that same confused look. "Back when he was dating Buffy, he was a bit jealous."

"He was?"

"Yeah."

"Yes he was," Cordelia sighed, shaking her head. "Then again, Buffy was a bit weirder too."

"True," Xander agreed, smiling at her. "She was a bit weirder." He looked at Connor again. "Buffy got all sorts of creepy and weird over him."

"Buffy? The slayer Buffy?"

"Yeah. You'd have been shocked. She's a lot more calm now. Still nags, but calmer." Cordelia cackled. "So, why show up beyond making sure I'm not going to make your lives more difficult?"

"Mostly just that," he admitted, still looking confused. "You're not like most demon lords."

"I wasn't one before the wedding. I didn't even know I was a demon until just under a year ago."

"Okay," he said. He stood up. "But if we have another apocalypse, you'll help?"

"Yeah, of course." He stood up. "C'mon, I'll get you back to LA faster. Unless you have stuff in a hotel room?"

"No, I don't."

Xander grinned and took them back to the Hyperion, steadying him when they landed. "Hey, Gunn."

Gunn looked at them. "Connor. You're... I've seen your picture."

"Xander."

"That's the new demon lord," Connor said, getting away from him. "He said he was sheet shopping and got tackled by rumors."

Gunn stared. "You're Cordy's Xander."

"I was. Until I got stupid and Willow panicked and we ended up kissing. Unfortunately she caught us when Spike had us hostage."

"You're *that* Xander!" Connor realized.

Xander smirked. "Bit slow on the uptake, Connor?" he asked dryly. "Don't worry, Cordy did the same thing sometimes."

"But you're a demon lord," Connor said firmly.

"Yeah, Willow had it shielded so I didn't know, no one knew, and the people searching for me couldn't tell when in the same room with me. I didn't find out until I was in Africa. Then I found out the rest of the plot to get me married off to my guards."

"Guards?" Gunn asked.

"Yeah, guards. All six of them." More guards appeared with weapons. Xander stared at them. "What are you guys doing?"

"You called for guards," one said.

"Noooooo. I said the word guards, if I yell for you guys it's a lot louder." They slumped. "Sorry!" He shrugged. "We'll go over that stuff later, guys. For now, relax." They did that and sat down. He grinned at Gunn. "Still getting the hang of this stuff. Anyway, if you guys need me, yell?"

"Yeah," Gunn agreed. "We'll gladly yell. Your guards look really well trained."

"I'm going to start taking more lessons with them since John Winchester took my place in Africa for right now." He leaned against a column. "Anything I need to hear about that I can help with?"

"Not right now," Gunn said. "You getting any new threats?"

"Not since the wedding. I'm betting some people are confused." He saw Cordelia phase in. "Oh, great glowy squid girl, do you have information or are you here to snark?"

"Both," she assured him. "Tell them Dru's not dead."

"She said Dru's not dead."

"Wolfram and Hart's head board isn't gone."

"Wolfram and Hart's board isn't gone."

"They're going to appear soon."

"They're going to appear soon," Xander repeated, looking at her. "Anything else?"

"Yeah, send Willow to Devon," she said, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Now. Right now."

Xander snapped at the guards. "Get Willow to Devon ASAP. Cordelia said there's an issue and she needs her there now." Two disappeared to kidnap her and take her there. "Thank you," he called. He looked at her. "Anything else?"

"Not yet. They don't seem to know you're you." She disappeared.

Xander shrugged and grinned at them. "I'm different than the PTB thought I was then so she can still appear to me."

"That's good to know," Gunn said. "She can't appear to us?" Xander shook his head. "Okay, I can accept that."

Connor shook his head quickly. "Dru's not dead?" Xander shook his head. "We'll get ready for her to show up."

"Watch out for her mind screwing. She did it to us a few times." He heard a roar and looked outside. "Were we expecting three large demons?" They shook their heads. "Huh." He walked that way, letting his stripes come back out. He gave the guards a look. "Hello. Are we having problems? Something we can help you with?"

"Lord Xander, we came to talk to you about your legal counsel options," the one in the middle said with a smile. "A ruler such as you should have a good legal counsel on hand for problems."

Xander stared at them. "Why would I need one? I tend to handle most problems myself."

"There will be people that will cause lesser problems, ones that even your future reputation won't be able to dislodge," the center one said. "Mr. Ram, Mr. Hart, and I all believe we can give you great service at a decent price. We can assure you that our highest minions would be on hand to help you with any legal needs. Including setting up trusts for any future spouses or children."

Xander stared at them. "I know some day soon I have to find a wife, but right now I'm getting used to my husbands and guards." They rushed out to surround and capture the demons. Xander got the center one down by tackling him into a guard. They tied them up. "Thank you for your offer though." He smiled, going back to human looking. "I'm sure I'll need a lawyer some day. I'll be sure to scan them and their backgrounds very well. Connor, do you want the three heads of Wolfram and Hart?"

They came out looking mad. The guards smiled. "We're glad we could help you capture them," he told them. "Should we take them to the slayers?"

Connor looked at them. Then nodded. "Sure. They can kill them just as much as we can. They're mad at them for the invasion too." They beamed and took them off. Connor looked at Xander.

"They've been a bit bored," he said quietly. "I haven't been in any fights, no major demons...."

"No dating?" Gunn asked dryly. "Because the princess told us about that."

Xander smirked at him. "Did she tell you how she created a wishverse to get me back for calling her by Buffy's name? The love spell when she broke up with me and I was trying to get her back? Or some other story?"

Gunn gaped. Connor moaned, shaking his head. "I heard about a vengeance demon."

"Yeah, Anya."

"She was a really powerful vengeance demon," Connor pointed out.

"Then she granted a wish for Cordy after I accidentally called her Buffy. Anya's power center got broken during that so I later dated Anya and left her at the altar. Someone told me how miserable I'd be and I couldn't do that to her so I walked off." Both men were giving him awed looks. He smiled. "Strangely enough, we nearly got back together after she lost her powers the second time."

Connor shook his head quickly. "Now I know you're that Xander. Buffy said you warped minds." He walked off rubbing his forehead.

Xander smiled at Gunn. "Now he can take a vacation since he was too tense when he showed up," he said quietly.

"You'll come if we call an SOS?" Xander nodded. "Thanks."

"NP, Gunn. Never a problem." He winked and disappeared. He had to check on the Council's actions.

Gunn went to check on Connor. Xander was right, the guy was too uptight sometimes.

***

Buffy looked up as the alarm sounded, heading for the entry way/hallway/kitchen area. She found the demon guards for Xander holding three demons. "Guys?" she demanded. "What's going on? Why the emergency?"

The young slayer in there alone was backed against the fridge. "She set it off, Miss Summers," the lead guard told her. "Xander and the LA duo said to give them to you to kill. These are Mr. Wolf, Mr. Ram, and Mr. Hart."

She gave him an evil smirk. "Why did Xander send them?"

"They tried to get him to hire them as legal counsel," another said, handing that one over. He looked at the young slayer. "It's a good reaction when strange demons appear but some of us are peaceful, young lady. We are very peaceful and not here to hurt you. You can quit trying to climb the fridge."

Buffy turned off the alarm, looking back at the younger slayers. "Take them to Giles. These are the assholes behind the invasion." The girls snatched them and stomped off being mean to them. She looked at the guards. "Thank Xander for us." They smiled and nodded. They disappeared too. Buffy looked at the young one. "Good use of the alarm," she said quietly, calming her down. "Xander's warping another species too much." She walked her off to talk about how to kill those three demons. She really wanted to beat their asses for the invasion.

***

Xander walked into the palace, looking at the people. "You two," he said, spotting two of his aunt's advisors. "Swear your loyalty to me." They stared. "Now!" They vowed their loyalty to him. "Good. Go make out thank you notes for any presents since I haven't seen any wedding presents?" They nodded and went. He went to find someone else. He stared at him until the demon realized he was there and hopped up to bow. "Quit." The demon stopped. "Swear your loyalty to me."

"Sire.... What of my family? It could be accidentally tripped."

"Why would I care about your family?" Xander countered. "They're them. Unless they're going to drug you, it won't matter."

"Most oaths like that call upon the family to uphold it."

"I'm not. I doubt they'll cause you problems. I just want you more loyal to me than to my aunt."

"I will try to be, but she may ask me things, Lord Xander."

"That's fine. She can ask as long as you don't let her dictate things."

"Then I gladly swear fealty to you, Lord Xander, and not to your aunt." The oath hung then got accepted by the magic of the palace. "Did you have work for me to do?"

Xander nodded, grinning some. "We all know I'm not good at the mundane running things. I can't run anything larger than a work crew really." The demon nodded slowly. "You did the same for my aunt. Therefore you'll do the day-to-day piddling shit running for me and let me handle the bigger things."

"You're sure, Lord Xander?"

"Until I find you're screwing things up. The better you do, the better both our families' lives get." The demon nodded more quickly at that. "Good." He smiled. "Let me know if I have anything I need to handle myself. I'm going back to working on the bedroom issue." He left, going to his new suite. It had one huge bed for him and whoever, plus a five separate rooms for the others that didn't want to cuddle up with him and the dog any night. He had bought sheets for all the beds, comfortable t-shirt sheets. He had even taken into account how each of the rooms were decorated. Now each room had three sets of sheets waiting and new towels in the bathroom. His room needed repainted because it was gold and cream. It looked like Buffy's ideal wedding dress with the flowery, gauzy lamp shades and curtains. He was taking down the decorations when Tony walked in taking off his jacket. He smiled at him. "I did all the other rooms. Now I need to paint this one."

"Cane's not helping?"

"She's staring in the kitchen hoping to be able to sneak in and steal another steak," he said dryly. Tony snickered, shaking his head. "Help me remove stuff so I can redecorate in here?"

"Gladly." He helped him and they packed things away for a closet somewhere. Maybe some day some wife would like them. Or a daughter. Xander pointed at the paint cans he had picked up while sheet shopping and they got to work covering the cream-colored older paint. They got a full coat before anyone else got there. Dean and Sam walked in, Dean kissing Xander until he moaned, earning a smirk. "Painting, guys?" Tony said with a smile. They helped do the trim work. The new color was a light blue. Not quite baby blue but not exactly a medium blue. Xander replaced the lamps with wooden ones that looked like tree branches holding bulbs and small shades. He put a few pictures in silver frames around. Then they got called to get the dog away from dinner. Cam sighed as he walked in with Vala. "Hey," Dean said with a nod. "Cane!" She came running, spotting Vala and hopping up to lick her and bark at her.

"Hello again, sweetness," she said with a smile, petting her. "Are you happy to see us?"

"Sit," Xander ordered. Cane sat, staring at them. Vala smiled, getting down to pet her some more. He smiled at Cam. "Long day?"

"Very long day." He took his own kiss with a smile. "I see we're painting?"

"My room. The other five rooms were painted nice colors already so I only redid the sheets and towels." He took another kiss. "You guys can decide who's going to curl up with me and the dog whenever in that *huge* bed." He winked at Sam, who snickered. "You guys can argue over which room you spend in each night or curl up with me whenever you want." He walked off. "Dinner?" They followed.

Vala went to clean off the dog drool then joined them. So did Gibbs as it turned out. "I haven't met you yet. Vala Mal Doran." She held out a hand with a smile.

He shook it. "Jethro Gibbs. I work with Tony." He sat down, looking at the food on the table. Then at the boy. Who shrugged. "They think you like fussy things?"

"I'm hoping this is like the salad before the meal," Xander admitted. "Guys? Do I need to come cook?" They rushed out more food, noticed the two guests and brought some more. "Ah! Real food!" He dug in and passed the bowls and plates down so the others could get their own food. Don came in during it and got his own plate from the kitchen and more food brought. "I'll go over menus tomorrow," Xander told the cook, who nodded. "Good job tonight though." He smiled and the cook bowed then left. "I've gotten someone to help do the day-to-day boring stuff," he said before eating another bite.

"Good!" Don agreed. "It'd drive you nuts."

"I got two of my aunt's advisors to write wedding thank you notes too for any presents. Then I'll sign them."

"I didn't see any presents either," Sam realized. Xander nodded. "Okay. I can take some of them."

"I have no idea what we got," Xander admitted. "I'll look over them tomorrow, after I paint another coat." He ate another bite and chewed, then looked at his plate. He looked at Vala, who was next to him. "I needed salad?"

"Yes. It makes a boy strong enough to make his husband squeal. Or it did with me," she said smugly.

"If I make them squeal is up to them," he assured her but ate it anyway. "If they want to curl up...."

Dean looked at him. "Your bed is huge, Xander."

Xander smiled. "Yes it is. Much too big for me and the dog." Vala added more salad, getting a hug. "Just don't use me as a shopping helper like my other female friends do."

She laughed. "I don't like to shop that way." She winked and dug in again.

"A contender for the wife?" Gibbs asked.

"No!" she said firmly, shaking her head. "I work with Cam."

"That's good to know."

"We're waiting on that for about a year," Xander told him. "That way I get used to the relationship I have before I start to date to find someone nice to add who wants a lot of kids."

"Define a whole lot of kids?" Sam asked.

"I don't know," Xander admitted with a smile.

"Remember, they'll probably fight to get your spot," Dean pointed out.

"So maybe two kids but none of them will be like my brother." He ate and a few people came in to bow. "What's up, guys?"

"Lord Xander, there's a few people here to talk to you."

"Can they wait until I'm done with dinner?"

"Probably not," they admitted.

Xander wiped his mouth, got a drink, and walked out. He walked into the throne room. "Guys, what did you want to talk about?" They attacked and he fought them off, getting a small cut on the arm by a sword. Fortunately his was in there. A few more minutes and they were down. Xander looked at the announcing guard, who swallowed. "Any others?"

"Your aunt, Sire. She is the rightful ruler."

"Yeah, until she tried to kill me," he pointed out. "If she wants to come back, she's going to have to apologize and possibly give me a really good reason." He slumped but nodded. "Otherwise, she wouldn't have searched for me that way."

"Our ways aren't like yours," he pointed out.

"Why?"

"Because we don't let enemies go free. We don't make friends the way you do. We're a very insular species."

"Well, some things have to change. I've worked with the slayer for *years*. I know that there's plenty of peaceful ones out there. If we trade things, that'll make the people more prosperous." The guard groaned. "If not, maybe we can find something like that to help the people do more than fight. Or hey, maybe we'll take in some others who want to learn for training. Allies help you when you're attacked." The guard stared at him. "The team had to lean on our vampire members and their allies more than a few times. The only enemies I want to make are the ones who want to kill me or all of us."

"I can understand that. Your aunt was very interested in showing off our wealth."

"I could care less about bragging and balls. I would rather we be a self-supporting culture that didn't have to suck up to people for things."

"That is a good point," he admitted. "Your aunt could do some diplomatic work."

"Possibly. After she apologizes and if she has a really good reason for it. Now, anything else?" He shook his head. "Are we sure? Any more movements to get me dead?"

"No, Lord Xander," he said quietly, staring at him. "Are you going to smite me?"

"No, I'm going to make you tell my guards this." He blanched. "All of it." He walked off. "Tonight before bed so we can make plans." He went back to dinner. "I mean it," he called before sitting down. He sighed, looking at them. Cam was staring at his arm. "My aunt sent some people."

"Really?" Cam demanded. He got up.

"I said he had to tell all of you tonight," Xander told him simply. "That way we can make plans and make sure nothing's going to hurt everyone." They all nodded at that. Don went to find that guard and bring him back so they could talk. Xander fed Gibbs and Vala more food and ate his own. "Eat, please, people. I'm not mean. I try very hard not to be mean." They nodded and dug in. The others came back and dug in to dessert. Dean handed it down to Xander with a smile. "We good?"

"We're fine," Dean assured him.

Cam nodded. "It's something we can handle and I agree. Your aunt has to beg before we think about letting her do anything."

"And make her take a blood oath," Xander said very quietly. "Oh, talked to Connor earlier," he announced. "On the LA team." Sam choked. He smiled, waiting until he was done to go on. "He was very confused. Took him nearly a half-hour and Gunn to figure out I was that Xander." They all smirked at that. "The three heads of Wolfram and Hart showed up to try to get hired as our legal counsel. The guards were very good and took them to the Council building." They all smirked evilly at him. "Told him to call if they needed more help."

"Good," Don decided, nodding some.

"I like how Connor got confused," Tony said.

"He never met me," Xander said. "Cordy told him some stuff but otherwise we've never been introduced." He leaned his elbows on the table. "Other than that, Willow is in Devon on orders of Cordelia. She showed up to tell me and him that Dru is alive and to get her to Devon today. Which the guards did."

"Why?" Tony asked.

"From what I've heard, Willow wasn't happy and trying to find a way to save me," he told them.

"So she was probably trying something," Don decided.

"We'll talk to Buffy and get her to call them later," Sam decided.

Dean nodded. "Definitely. By now the old biddies would have gotten the story out of her." He ate a bite of dessert, smiling. "This is good. Any word from Dad?"

"Sian called. Said he was more scowling than I am. He's a bit tougher too. She sparred with him, made him impressed. He went over the new weapons with her. Sian's apparently not a great shot yet but good and working on it. She said she heard from Pua, who complained that John was a bit mean to her since she and her mother were talking about marriage for her. Kuria said the same when he scowled about her having kids. She told him it was what real women were meant to do, beyond protect people. She could still fight for a while and she had someone to cover for her. I agreed. John's uptight but he ran into his first major problem from humans, who thought he might be a slaver. He got free of them and got them tied up before calling the proper people. They handled it when they heard he was my replacement for now. The nice official wished him a lot less militias than I saw."

"We hope so too," Dean assured him. He shook his head quickly. "Don't tell us about those, we'll get upset that you didn't call."

"Most of them were from before I knew you," Xander said patiently. "Don't turn into Buffy, Dean."

"I'm not. Still, you could have called for backup from the other humans."

Xander shrugged. "I did fine." He dug into his dessert, smiling when Vala ate some and moaned. "Good?"

"Very good." She ate more. The dog came over to nudge her hand so she smiled and petted her. "You've been very good too but I didn't know dogs could smile."

"That means she's been into something," Cam said, shaking his head. "What did you chew up this time?"

Cane barked and let the pretty one pet him all she wanted. It was good for her. She was a good dog. Her people wouldn't have to worry about anything anymore, she would make sure of it. That's why her human loved her.

The End.

John
Cam
Tony
Dean and Sam, John an older guard from the last go-round
Don
Jack was a former guard.


gifts:
to prove that you can protect - Cane (Cam)
provide for - traveling kit and range rover (John)
show affection for - (Tony)
help raise a strong family - (Don)
follow his lead in family matters - (Sam)
treat him well as a spouse should be treated - (all)
and honor him - (Dean)
This story archived at http://imagine.e-fic.com/viewstory.php?sid=417