Note: I'm really sorry if someone who is reading this one likes child beauty pageants. Frankly they creep me out and they'd probably creep Xander and John Winchester out just as much.
"You should do pageants, you're pretty enough," the woman in the mom jeans said from next to where Olivia was looking at magazines full of pretty clothes.
Olivia looked up at her, shaking her head. "I'm more than just pretty and those girls only seem to want to be pretty and throw fits."
"I'm sure you are and that would be good, show other girls how good it was for them."
Olivia mentally huffed. She knew she wasn't supposed to talk to strangers without permission and her auntie was across the aisle helping someone. "They wear really ugly clothes. Especially the poufy bottomed dress that makes them look like they have huge butts," she said. "That's not very pretty. They're not sparkly or twinkly in the right ways. They wear *way* too much makeup. Alexis doesn't even wear that much and she's eighteen. Also, the hair is really poufy and dumb looking. Simpler is always better," she said at the horrified look the woman was giving her. "Simple, nicely twinkly and sparkly, and matching is always the best thing." She picked up a magazine. "See, nicely twinkly and sparkly without the big butt effect."
"That's something the judge expect," she said firmly.
"Why are people staring at girls in dresses that make them have big butts? My uncle said that people like that are bad."
"No they're not," she said firmly. "They're not like that, Olivia."
Olivia fell back on something she had heard her auntie say. "If you're sure but I'd still rather not. Thank you though."
Tara came back. "What did I say about talking to people you don't know?"
"She wanted me to wear the poufy dresses and hair and way too much makeup."
Tara glared. "I don't think that's healthy for children. It teaches them that being pretty and slutty is the only thing that's good in life. Olivia has brains and she'll do fantastic things for the world. Thank you anyway." The mother huffed off. She looked down at her.
"I told her I'd look like I had a big butt and there were bad people who watched girls like that."
"Yes there are but you never have to worry about them because they're scared your uncle Xander will beat them up."
She beamed back. "Good! People who hurt babies are bad!" She held up the magazine. "Please?" she asked with the puppy eyes and a grin.
"We have that one at the library. Get the one with the coloring pictures and the mazes." Olivia got those from her stack. Tara weeded out the rest and put them back properly then took Olivia to check out. Olivia bounded off. "'Liv!" she complained.
"Unclie Peter!" She pounced him with a cackle. He smiled back at her. "Are you signing things so we can sell more books and go shopping or are you buying a new book to read to Uncle Xander?"
"I am buying new book to read to myself. I have plenty to read to him, as I do you." He kissed her on the temple. "Should you not be with your aunt?"
She giggled. "She can find me." She hugged his arm. "We need cookies."
"No, no cookies today," Tara complained as she joined them with the bag of magazines. "Cookies are for when you follow the rules. Not when you talk to people we don't know and not when you run off."
"She started it," Olivia said.
"Then you tell her you're not allowed to talk to strangers," Peter said, staring down at her. "That it gets you in trouble." She pouted but nodded. "Why was she talking to someone?" Peter asked.
"Because the woman wanted her to do child pageants," Tara snorted.
Peter shuddered. "I accidentally watched that show. Was horrified." He looked down at his niece. "You will do many things while being pretty but that is not one." She smiled and nodded. "Good girl." He patted her on the head. "Go with your aunt." She took Tara's hand and they walked out together. Peter shuddered. "How can anyone want to objectify their children that way," he muttered, heading for the history section. Someone glared at him. "I have ended many people who smuggled girls for being cute and tiny," he shot back. She shrank back. Clearly Olivia had more sense than this full-grown woman. It was wonderful of his niece. Sad for society, but hopefully his niece could cure that as well some year.
Xander looked at the woman huffing up to him in the grocery store. He and Sam were grocery shopping - Sam for the Winchester apartment and him for theirs. "Yes?" he asked with a slight smile to show he was approachable and nice, which his readers liked.
"Your niece is rude."
"Not usually. Unless she's yelling at someone who's flirting with one of her uncles or bothering her. What did she say?" He shifted the carry basket to his other arm.
"She told me that child pageants were full of people who like to stare at big butted girls."
"Well, she's right, the dresses and makeup does sexualize little girls," he said dryly. "I've never really understood why all the girls have to have poufy, southern waitress hair either. Then again, her aunt and I, and my husband, all particularly hate that they dress two-year-olds in flashy, twinkly bikinis and then make them dance on a stage in front of a few adults who judge them simply on how cute they look. Personally, we all feel that those sort of events create future problems. Including girls who decide to rely only on their beauty and have way too much plastic surgery when they're older to fix supposed flaws that aren't. We'd rather Olivia rely on her mind and her skills, which are great things. Even if she is pretty."
"You'll never understand," the mother sneered. "I'm sure her mother would."
"Olivia's grandmother was a book writing shrink," he said dryly. She flinched at that. "Yeah, same Rosenburg." He smirked. "I sincerely doubt that considering she hates that girls are encouraged to wear makeup and heels as teenagers. Much less as toddlers." The mother stomped off. He waved. "I hope your little girl grows up to be as great a force for humanity's progress as Olivia will be," he called after her with a grin.
"Though I doubt it will be," Sam said quietly, making Xander give him a look. "Are her parents still around?"
"They exiled Willow from the family after that whole 'burning at the stake' thing back in high school."
"So they don't want to meet her?"
"Nope. She called once and I told her the truth, Olivia's got her mother's gifts and she's a happy, smart baby. If she wanted to talk to Olivia, we'd set up some video conferencing stuff since they're in the Bahamas. She decided magic was still a mental delusion we were all sharing and hung up."
"Magic was covered and gone over during each of the battles," Sam said.
"Willow's parents have their own little thing going on, Sam. They always have. That's why they felt it was a good thing to leave Willow alone so often. There were a few years in there where my parents saw more of Willow than her parents did." Sam looked at him. Xander nodded. "Really."
"Damn. Dad would've thumped someone."
"My dad said something to Willow's father once about all that and he had my father arrested for it." He smirked. "Then the cops told them he was right so they went on another book signing tour." They moved down the line of fruit. "Sunnydale was the only town where something like that was overlooked. Cordelia's parents never showed up for parent-teacher conferences because they were too busy with their lives. Jesse's mom did when she could, mine never did, Willow's never did. Starting in second grade the teachers asked us if they should even bother making copies and sending them home with us. A good quarter of the class had parents who never showed up and barely signed report cards. When Willow's mother did show up it was to complain about things."
"Dad would've thrown fits at the other parents."
"Probably. A few teachers tried but they got shut down by the Mayor or eaten or something." He shrugged. "There was nothing we could do about it in grade school and we didn't understand why the teachers quit reacting to that stuff until after we had met Buffy."
"Still sucks and I'm glad the demons took it over for their own safety and use."
"They're much more active about that stuff. If a kid's missing classes, the demon school sends someone to the home to find out why. They have their own version of CPS and they're *fierce* about things. I heard one kid had drunk parents like mine did and they took the kid, had the parents eaten, and gave the kid to relatives who were *way* uptight about school. The demon school is about a thousand times harder than the old human Sunnydale system too. They're so hard even some of the Asian demon schools are wincing in sympathy for the kids. They go ten hours a day. They have three classes a day. One of them an hour of gym. They have mandatory lunch there. They're absolute hardasses about the education for their little kids."
"That seems odd but they know they have to be the best to get anywhere I guess."
Xander nodded. "Quite a lot. And they have a whole separate school for those kids they find out are artistic and things so they learn differently." Xander picked up a bag of oranges to look at, putting it down and picking up another.
"Is that school local?" a father on the other side of the fruit asked.
Xander shook his head. "That's the new demon school system that took over in Sunnydale. Even that Tiger Mom chick would consider it harsh." The father shuddered. "Though, if you're looking for good schools, I liked Trinity, over by the Village. It's got high academic ratings and a band. It's a junior and high school, but Olivia's going to be starting kindergarten in a year and a bit."
He smiled. "I'll look at that one. Thank you." He picked up some apples and left.
Sam reached over and got a few apples too. "I was looking at the rating book. They are highly rated."
"Yup." Xander grinned. "Olivia will get a say in which one she goes to. By then she'll hopefully know more about what she wants to do beyond being smart and pretty." Sam grinned back. They finished picking out fruit and moved to meats, then got milk, crackers, bread, ice cream, and chocolate sauce so they could go home. The cashier gave Sam a funny look. Xander smirked at her. "The kids only really like fruit and veggies. Olivia taught them about fruits and veggies. Half the time we can't get them to eat anything else."
She smiled. "A lot of parents would like that problem. I know some that only eat chicken nuggets."
"Olivia loves nuggets but only if we're pre-grocery shopping lunching at the fast food places. She said the ones at home don't taste the same." The cashier smiled and nodded at that. "Though, they're going to drive me nuts wanting special fruit that's not in season. I swear I taught them about milkshakes to make them eat less fruit." She cackled and took Sam's money for his, handing him the reuseable bags he had carried in.
Xander paid for his and they left together, Xander dropping Sam off at the Winchester apartment. Xander got up the elevator and Shannon snatched the bags to dig through them. "Help me put them up, Shannon, and you can have a snack," he said patiently, cracking John up. "Sam picked up some too for when he babysits you guys tomorrow night." She followed the fruit into the kitchen, climbing up to help him sort things out. She pouted at him. "There weren't any cherries. We have the frozen ones." He showed her the bag.
"Mooshy," she pouted.
"I'm sorry. They're not growing right now. When they start growing again I'll buy some more for us." She was still pouting.
"Shannon, remember how we talked about carrots taking three months to grow?" John asked. She smiled and nodded. "Cherries take four or five months." She slumped. "There'll be some out in about a month and a half. Before the snow all melts." She came over to cuddle him. Xander handed him a bowl of the frozen ones. "They're still chilly so it's like cherry popsicle pieces." She grinned and sucked on them until they melted then chewed them up. It was good for her. Even if her fingers were purple.
Xander grinned. "Thanks." He went back to it. "Some woman told me Olivia was rude for telling her how it was bad people who liked to watch pageant kids in dresses that made them look like mini southern waitresses."
"Tara called and said someone had tried to talk to her about them in the bookstore."
"Wonderful," Xander said dryly. "I gave her my viewpoint on that too." They shared a look.
"I didn't even know that there were pageants outside of fairs and things," John said. "Is this something big and new?" Xander got into the 'on demand' box, finding the show listed. He turned on the first ep and let John have the remote while he finished putting up groceries and starting dinner. John watched with Shannon, who was scowling at the girls. John noticed and smiled. "You're right, Olivia would do it with more class and be prettier. What is with the hair?" he demanded.
"Just wait," Xander quipped. "Some of them have a bathing suit portion."
"Excuse me?" John demanded. Xander smirked and nodded so he watched a few more until he came to one episode about a pageant that did. "Oh hell no!" John shouted.
"Eww!" Shannon called. "Ugly!"
John hugged her. "I know it is. And wrong. Very wrong." He turned it off before it hurt his head any more. He looked at Xander. "I can't believe mothers want their kids to do that stuff."
"All the way up to Miss America if they're lucky. They spend *thousands* of dollars on pageants and their special outfits. Then get really happy when the kid wins five hundred and a cheap crown."
"Uh-huh." John hugged Shannon. "You'll never do that." She shook her head. "We'll make sure you're pretty like your family, not like that." He kissed her on the temple and put her and her bowl of frozen cherries next to the coffee table. Xander was looking something up online. "What's that?" he asked when he got handed the laptop.
"One of the supposed superstars in that world." He went back to cooking.
John shuddered as he watched the Eden Wood video. "I'm so glad I had boys."
"Some of the pageants boys can enter."
John looked at him. "I never would've let Dean do that and he was my prettier son." He put the laptop down and shut it down. Before Shannon got into it and accidentally got exposed to that. He texted Rick Castle to see if that was really something that happened all the time. Rick sent back that he had a case at one locally, there were about nine hundred pageants a year across the US, and yes, they were a bit creepy. Even Beckett had to say a few things to a few of the overbearing mothers. John sent back a thanks and put his phone up. "If I'm ever lucky enough to get granddaughters beyond you and Olivia, I'll make sure their parents don't want them to do that either." She grinned at him.
"Dean and Sam have sense," Xander quipped.
"Yes but their wives might not." He slumped down some, trying to find something to banish that thought from his mind.
"The CSI elves are going to go home to their elfhame to crown the new harvest princess soon but she's going to be an adult."
"That's nice," John said, shaking his head quickly.
"And the detective and baby story is going to have to get done soon too." He shrugged and finished putting everything into the pot for stew, going to work on that in the office.
John shook his head because he was still certain that Xander needed help to control those 'muses' of his. He had tried to find what sort of demon sent them but he hadn't been able to yet. Or else the poor young hunter was just mentally unstable maybe? That was possible and probable due to what Xander had dated before. But how had he warped Peter in such a short time?
Hopefully it wouldn't happen to Sam or Dean. He didn't want them to become *writers* too.
Olivia came out of the daycare and found people taking pictures. "I'm not that pretty today," she complained, pouting at them. "I'm sweaty because I was playing!"
"You look fine," one of them assured her. He found Xander between them and swallowed. "She does look fine."
"Why are you at their daycare?" he asked calmly.
"We were following you to get pictures for the papers. There's some new news," he offered hesitantly.
"You don't come to a daycare and take pictures of the kids. Really." The reporters backed down. "Now, what new news? Olivia, car." He undid the alarm with his keychain remote.
She opened the door and got her siblings in then in and shut the door. They got into their carseats for her and she buckled them in. Then she sat in hers and their uncle could get hers. She looked back there then at her siblings. "They shouldn't take pictures of us when we're not pretty." The two kids nodded because she was always right.
Xander turned back on the alarm and looked at the reporter again. "New news story involving me?"
"There's a story saying that you and Peter married?"
"Everyone else has known that for months. That's not really *new* news."
"The entertainment people just got it today," the other reporter said.
"They knew then too. It came out during a book signing event, guys." They shook their heads, took one last picture, then left. Xander called Paula to tell her about the weird thing and got the kids settled into their seats. "Good job, Olivia." He hitched her in and then closed the door and got in to drive. He also decided to park the car inside the warehouse this time. So they didn't have any new weird things. He got the kids up the stairs and they pounced John since he was reading an ancient book. "Some reporters just heard that we're married," he told Peter. "They were taking pictures of the girls as they came out of the daycare."
"I'm all sweaty," Olivia complained. "Not pretty enough for pictures." She bounced off to get snacks for all of the kids.
"I parked inside the warehouse," Xander told his husband, who smiled and took a kiss.
"It will be fine. If things get too annoying we can visit new houses to see if we want to decorate." Xander gave him a naughty grin and strolled off to take the fruit back from Olivia before they inhaled all of it and no dinner. "Is story time," he said to make the kids leave the fruit bowl alone. They rushed over and sat in front of him, letting him read to them in Russian. They enjoyed it and they learned new words. It was good for everyone. Xander was grinning too because he liked it when Peter read to him in Russian when they were lounging in bed.
Olivia walked out to where her favorite uncle was, standing in front of him. He looked up and finished his sentence by feel, saving and putting the laptop aside. She climbed up into his lap and snuggled. "What if the kids in school don't like me?" she asked very quietly.
"They'll love you, Olivia. We all love you."
She looked up. "Missy said that not all kids got along at school."
He considered it. "No, not all kids do. I don't see that being a problem with you. You're very smart and you do very good in your lessons so you're going to do fine. If there's a bully or something, we'll handle it together and you'll be okay. Even if everyone doesn't love you like we do, it'll be okay. You'll make friends and be acquaintances with the others, like I am with the romance writers we have around here."
"Oh." She played with his free hand. "But what if they don't?"
"They will. Why wouldn't they?"
"They might think I'm too smart or bossy or something."
Xander hugged her. "Did I ever tell you how I met your mom?"
"No." She looked up at him. Uncle Xander hardly ever talked about her mom.
"Our first day of school, we started kindergarten together." Olivia grinned and nodded. "Well, just after lunch, I was playing with some clay stuff and looked over at the sound of a quiet sniffle. Your mom was in a corner hiding holding a crayon." He adjusted her shirt on her. "See, she had broken it and was too scared to tell the teacher that. Not that we thought the teacher would be mean but she was so scared and shy that she wasn't really able to talk to anyone in the class." Olivia relaxed and grinned. "So I went over and offered her my yellow crayon. Then we switched her broken one with one of the ones in the classroom's boxes. She eventually learned how to speak up, because just like Hermione in that movie? She answered *every* question."
"So it's okay if they don't all like me right away?"
"I'm pretty sure that even if a few don't like you at all, it won't matter all that much. You'll have friends. You'll have family and friends. You'll have lots of fun and be able to ignore those few kids that don't have enough smarts to realize that you're a great friend to have, especially when it comes to helping with homework and stuff." He gave her a squeeze. "They will adore you, Olivia. If they don't, then they're dumb."
"Stupid heads," she said. He nodded. She grinned. "Can I wear something pretty my first day?"
"Your mom always wore a dress on the first day of each school year to make a good impression on the teachers. You can do that if you want." She smiled and nodded. "You still have nine or ten months left though."
"We can pick it out right before then. Like everyone else doing school shopping?"
"Yup. We'll be doing that too. By then we'll know about uniform and shoe rules. Because some schools do have uniforms."
"Like the guys in the military on tv?"
"Not quite that much of a uniform." He shifted his laptop over and opened a window to do a quick search on school uniforms. He showed her the pictures. "This is what most wear."
"Tough." He grinned. "You can put up with a school uniform to get a great education so you do great things. And even some of the public schools around here require uniforms."
"Eww." She snuggled in again. "What about Shannon and Brad?"
"We'll be testing them at the same time. Shannon might not get to join you until first grade. Brad too. They're making a lot of progress but they're still a few months behind were you should be." She nodded, looking up at him. "We will deal with that when we come to it."
"Yes, Uncle Xander." She looked at their hands then at him. "Will Daddy be better by then?"
"I'm not sure. We can ask his doctors."
"Okay." She was quiet for a minute. "What if he is better? Do we have to move?"
"Not for a while. See, the judge said that you're living with me until he changes his mind."
"We had to ask a judge? I don't remember a judge."
He poked her on the side with a grin. "I had to ask a judge because your parents were over there. When your Daddy came back that first time, the judge and I talked but he had just taken that long nap period so the judge said that you three are mine and Peter's until he's better or your mommy is back."
"Will Mommy have to ask a judge?"
"Yes she will. The judge will decide if she's got things together and is able to be a mom properly, like feeding you things and stuff. He'll also make sure that she has an apartment set up and that she's handling the whole 'new mom' thing pretty well. It's not going to be an instant thing. It'll be a long, slow thing. You'll start with visiting for a few hours, like you do Daddy right now. Then you'll move onto visiting overnight and weekends. Then the judge will take that into consideration when he tells us who will keep you for at least another few months."
"So if she comes home we won't be leaving right then?" He shook his head. "Good. Brad was worried."
He cuddled her. "Brad, and you girls, do not have to worry. I will always do what I think is best for you three. Even if it seems a bit weird or wrong, I'm always trying to do my best for you three and Peter."
"Thank you, Uncle Xander." She blinked up at him. "Is Uncle Peter going to have to talk to the judge?"
"He'll probably talk to him but I'm the one that filed for custody of you guys since your parents had been snatched that way."
"That's good. Will the judge be mad at you for being with Uncle Peter like the guys on tv?"
"No because if he is, I'm going to get him fired for being a jackass."
She giggled and slid off his lap. "Thank you, Uncle Xander." She bounded off to talk to the other kids.
"You and the talking doctor can talk about that tomorrow," Xander called.
"Thank you." He picked up his phone and texted Peter to let him know what she was worried about. He had an interview and was conveniently near where their father was in the hospital.
Rick Castle walked out of his building and stared at the reporters. "Is me going for coffee really that big of a new story?" he quipped. He grinned a bit.
"Sir, there's a new book by Alexian Harris that has you in it?" one asked.
"Which one? Now and then he'll include us as minor characters. I'm told I'm a wizard and an elf both."
"No, the new one is on his demon hunter as president."
"I haven't read that one yet," he admitted.
"You read each other's books?"
He grinned. "They read the kids my books for bedtime stories, but they cut out anything that wasn't PG."
"Oh," the reporter said, nodding. "Didn't he write children's books?"
"The kids get to pick out their own bedtime stories and they have fantastic taste," he quipped with another grin. "Though, the president series isn't really about a demon hunter. If you look, it's a military leader at first. The demon hunters get found out about later on."
"Huh." She looked at the other reporters then at him. "There were hints that Beckett might be in there?"
"No idea. I haven't read that one yet."
"Is it possible that you'd run for office some day?"
He cackled, shaking his head. "Not likely. That is not something I'm suited for, people. Sorry." He walked off, texting his mother that. She cackled and said she was having an early drink before that image stuck in her head. He could agree with that. That was a *horrible* idea. Though he did get a copy of Xander's newest book to see what had happened. He had been asked a few pointed questions but had let Xander handle it.
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