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Lineage of the Damned 4: Back To Your Roots.

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Lineage of the Damned 4: Back To Your Roots.










Xander walked in through the external door to the library, watching the group nag each other from the shelves. He cleared his throat. "Then we need to make sure the area's defensible."

"Xander!" Buffy said, blinking at him. "You're early."

"I moved my plants out here so I'm early to take care of them." He grinned as he came down the stairs. He pointed. "There. It's easier to get away from them."

"He's going to pull external forces," Buffy said.

Xander nodded. "This gateway would be easy enough to defend against but you'll have panicking people, Buffster. They'll want to run for the nearest exit." She nodded. "That's an open wall for them to stampede through to their cars."

"Good point." She looked at Cordelia, who nodded that was doable. "We're not sure if he'll be here or not."

"Neither are we," Xander said. "Is he in the LA detention center?" She nodded with a grimace. "Okay, if so, we'll handle that. We told some hunters."

"Thank you." She hugged him. "Wow, Mr. Muscles."

He smirked. "I work out more than you do, woman." She swatted him on the arm with a smirk. He grinned back. "Hey," he said, nodding at Willow since she was staring at him. "What?"

"You're....."

"I'm what? Dressed? Yes, Hansel made me get dressed today."

"We heard rumors about you," Faith said with a smug look.

He shrugged. "I'm part dryad, Faith. Yeah, now and then I get to party as a girl. It helps when I'm baiting bad things. I learned from Buffy." Buffy huffed and swatted him but was smiling some. "I let the succuba teach me how to do my hair and stuff."

"We should shop," Buffy said.

Xander looked at her. "I don't shop. Hansel doesn't allow me to shop. All my stuff has to fit in three bags or be left at our safehouse."

"Shoot."

He shrugged. "Sorry." He looked at Giles. "That one'll be here in a few days. We heard there's a hellgate somewhere that's related to that subject and they're going to break it."

"From what little I know about it, that's a fairly good idea," Giles agreed. "I looked more into that myth. He's tried in the past."

"The one he tainted is my age. Little bit older."

Giles nodded. "Then it's an excellent idea." He looked Xander over. He was taller, more muscled, and looked well. "You've been hunting?"

"Yup. We've hunted some bad witches, we've hunted some bad demons, I took out a few nests, we hunted a few mobsters who were hurting kids and women...... which is really handy for the incubus side sometime." He shrugged then grinned again. "I hunt most nights, Giles."

"Wow," Buffy said. "Whole nests?"

"Yeah."

"How?"

"They're mostly beheaders there. 'Spoldy works well a long as I don't kill the building." He smirked evilly. "I learned a lot from some of the mobsters too. And a few smugglers about things like wine, cheese, and foreign meat."

Willow squeaked and blushed. "Meat?"

He looked at her. "Mind out of the gutter, Wills. Not that sort of meat. Though.... by the way, incubus need sex routinely or they get sick," he told Giles.

"I hadn't thought they needed more than feeding from sexual relations." Xander shook his head. "Interesting. I suppose that holds for succuba?" He nodded. "Charming."

"Hansel tends to think so," he said dryly, cracking Giles up. "Anyway." He looked at Buffy. "You're getting visitors."

"I am? Why am I getting visitors?"

"Because there's some hunters," he said with a smile. "Including ones about our age."

She beamed at him. "Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome. They'll be here soon." He patted her on the head. "Where's patrol tonight?"

"Bronze," she said. "I'll do a short cemetery...."

He held up a hand. "I can go. It's not like I don't train to hunt."

She considered it. "Fine, but if you trip into another grave, I get to laugh."

"I haven't done that in two years," he pointed out. "The last one was because you tripped me."

"Whatever." She looked at his outfit. "We need to shop. You can get one outfit to change out."

"Buffy, if I'm out in that form, I'm baiting bad guys like I'm a succuba," he said dryly. She blushed bright red. "I doubt you'd shop where I would need to go."

"We can still go!" She grinned.

"Fine. Clear it with Hansel."

"I can do that. Is he here?"

"Napping." She nodded and they made plans for tonight's route. By then Hansel was up and there, looking tired but fine. He and Giles were talking quietly at the desk about John. Xander looked over. "Buffy wants me to shop."

Hansel gave him an evil smirk. "Yes, you should. Just because you blocked me last night. You're worse than Gretel at it, Xander."

"She told me to. Something about skanky inn hos."

"She was not." He rolled his eyes, looking at Giles. "Now and then he and Gretel get along. Sometimes though, she's a bit jealous."

"I have no idea how to keep spirits away from Xander."

"He has a protection amulet."

"That's a wonderful thing. He needed it years ago."

"I told her if she possessed me again I was going to let the hyena get her," Xander quipped with an innocent, good boy smile. "She decided she really hates being prey. Not much room to run inside my head. Or places to hide."

"You have those shields down better then," Hansel quipped, smirking at him. "I should ask her to try."

"And then I'll go pick up someone so she can remember what sex is like," Xander quipped back.

"Uh-huh. You'd probably horrify her."

"You should see a few of the old resource materials the Council pulled up about you two," Giles said. "One was by a priest there who claimed she had a troll...companion."

"As Edward said, trolls help witches, but he never would've done it that way. My sister did have taste," Hansel said. "Even if she did fuck Ben a few times before he decided being a hunter was hard work and a lot of pain."

"Well, yeah," Xander said dryly. "Duh! Not like they're going to stand there and beg you to burn them most of the time."

"Only the one suicidal one," Hansel agreed. "Which was a bit weird."

Xander nodded. "Very weird."

Willow moaned. "Witches aren't bad."

"Bullshit," Hansel said, staring at her. "She just realized she had eaten her baby daughter. Like most end up eating children." Willow gagged and ran off to heave in the bathroom. He looked at Buffy. "Black magic witches tend to eat kids. Young kids."

"Eww."

"Very," he agreed. He stood up straight. "Is she better?"

"A lot. She's gotten help, she's gotten a mentor."

"Had a vision where she went to a dealer," Xander said quietly. "For black magic to clear off the hellmouth taint. Started to do memory spells."

"When you sent that, I got her a mentor, Xander," Giles said.

"Get her two, they're small. I had it again a few days back."

"I can talk to her about that vision," he decided. "Go on patrol, children." They grabbed things, Xander pulling his off his back as they walked. He looked at Hansel, who nodded. "She would never go that far."

"No, she's powerful enough to move to sorcery instead," he said. Giles shuddered. "I heard an interesting rumor about you, Ripper." Giles flinched. "I see."

"I reformed myself and I was not practicing that form of black magic," he said quietly. "I went to the Devon Coven to detoxify myself and heal."

"Good!" He stared him down. "There's still a hunt order on the remaining members."

"Which are sadly now Ethan and myself. Eyghon came back for us. He was killed because Ethan had a plan."

Hansel stared at him. "Should you go back, I will not allow Xander to see more than you self-immolated."

"Thank you. I'd never want the children to handle that sort of thing. Though I do not slide back, I have not since I got clean."

"Then you should perhaps have a 'when I was wild' talk with someone."

"I have."

"Apparently she doesn't listen. She still smells like decay."

"I'll talk to her again, Hansel."

"Thank you. Xander doesn't need more pain than the one he's already lost." He left, going to trail the kids on patrol. Buffy was chatting about fashion, which Xander still didn't really engage in. Hansel shook his head but he was looking at least tolerantly fond. "Buffy, he doesn't do fashionable. If he has to dress up that way he goes for slinky so he can bait and hunt."

She blushed. "How kinky?"

"Depends on the target," Xander admitted. "And who dresses me. Hansel has a thing for corsets. The succuba for body conscious stuff, and I picked out a few nice things with some help." He looked at Hansel. "The demon dog loves you."

Hansel turned to glare it. It whined pathetically, lifting a paw up. "I'm still a hunter." It barked and patted him with the paw. "No pets, Xander."

"I'm not." He petted the dog, reading it slightly. "It's master wants you to handle a problem at the poker hall."

"Fine." The dog trotted off so he followed. "At least it's not a troll."

Xander grinned at Buffy. "His sister got helped by a troll."

"A troll?"

"Yeah. Trolls help witches from what he said."

"Huh. Maybe Willow could use a troll. Might make moving into the dorms easier."

Xander nodded. "Probably, yeah. I'll see if there's any around here."

"Sure. Thanks, Xander." They walked on. Hansel would meet up with them later at the Bronze. Xander had clearly learned a lot, especially how to dicktease. Even if he was dickteasing Dru. Hansel walked over and grabbed her by the hair, walking her off. "Thanks, she's kinda looney," Buffy called with a smile and a wave. She looked at Xander. "Still?"

"She had a vision about us." He followed, going to save her. "Hansel, she had a vision she was sharing."

"Whatever."

"She did." He looked at Dru. "My uncle's not happy that vampires like me."

She cooed and stroked her nails down his cheek. "The naughty, tiny kitten hisses well enough for him. What will you hiss at the ones who aren't him?"

"Depends on how nice they are to me. I might make them dinner." She cackled and kissed him, but he pulled back. "Dru, I'm saving that for marriage." She laughed and winked, strolling off. Hansel shot her with a crossbow, dusting her. Xander walked back inside to get a drink. Hansel looked up to rant at his sister then went inside. Xander grinned and used him to help him bait the other suckers in there once he had changed. No one noticed it. It was Sunnydale and gender changing demons weren't anything that unusual around there. Buffy looked over and blinked, then moaned. Xander smirked and blew a kiss. "Hi, baby." Buffy came over to steal Hansel. All the vampires were crowding around them anyway. So when they started to attack it was easy enough to handle. Then they walked off talking about hairstyles.

***

The next day was Saturday and Xander was being forced to girl shop with Buffy. She came out wearing something nice enough. Hansel looked over from his first cup of coffee. "Wear something less slutty, Xander."

"I am."

"You're not. Wear that tan dress. Even though it's slightly slutty." She sighed and went to change. "Can't you wear pants?"

"I'm pretty sure I'm going to run into your next twin today."

"Great. Let me know if I need to make extra dinner."

"I can do that." She came out pushing back her hair to tie up. "This?"

"That," he agreed, looking her over. "You shaved again."

"I use nair every six weeks," she said dryly. "That way I don't have to shave. Do you know how hard it is to shave your own ass?"

"Not particularly and I doubt I want to find out," he said then sipped his coffee. Xander dropped that gender changing necklace in front of him, getting a groan. "No thank you."

"Then Gretel could take you over and remember what being a girl was like."

"No."

Xander grinned. "I'm not letting her take me over."

"Good!" He swatted him. "Behave."

"I try so hard." He blew a kiss. "I'm going to find something to make someone pounce me to swear they'll give me everlasting blowjobs." She strolled out, meeting Buffy outside.

Buffy stared. "That looks so normal and yet you look kinda hot," she admitted. She had no idea that Xander was kinda hot as a girl. Or as a guy.

Xander grinned. "I always look hot." She got them into the car and got in to drive. No one was going to let Buffy drive anywhere. Ever. "Here?"

"LA? Bergstroms or Macy's?"

"Sure. Haven't been there in a while." He drove them off, texting Hansel to let him know.

"Did you find any hotties?"

"Not really been looking. Most of the time I only go out for hunts."

"You're going to turn into Kendra?"

Xander snorted. "Not hardly, Buffy. Part of the heritage means I have to have sex every so often or I get sick. I get to go out and play before and after hunting. I get to hunt in the clubs usually." She shivered. "Yeah, pretty much." She smirked. "I've been to a few revels. They were fun but not sexual."

"Great. How do you revel?"

"You dance around in the woods. There's a reason they call it frolicking like nymphs."

"Huh." She nodded and they chatted about hair stuff on the way to the stores in LA. Xander was still having a problem with greasy hair.

***

They were nearly finished for the day when they ran into two guys in LAPD t-shirts having a problem with a demon in human form. Xander looked at Buffy, who nodded. Xander pointed and she nodded she'd get the demon while Xander got the cute guys. Buffy didn't really trust officers so the demon was better for her to handle. She tapped it on the back and smiled when it growled at her. "Hi."

"Slayer," it sneered. She sniffed at Xander. "And the changing one," she sneered. "How pretty."

Xander shrugged. "Yay me. Shoo. Go. Before we have to handle things." The demon changed, getting a lot taller and meaner. It lunged at Xander who kicked it back into Buffy. Xander nodded. "Guys, wanna move so we can handle this?"

"What the fuck is that!" one of them shouted.

Xander looked then at him. "She was probably going to drain you dry while fucking you and then let someone make you her zombie army," she said with a grin. "Shoo. Go. Be safe little officers." He pointed. One huffed off calling that in. Xander looked at the other one. The one who looked a lot like Hansel. "I'm having deja vu. I met someone who looks just like you in New York and a distant uncle of yours. We should talk after this demon whore is gone." He looked over then pulled a knife and stabbed it in the back of the neck. Which let Buffy kill it. "Move," Xander said. The family wand appeared in her hand and she burnt the creature. "Good. All gone." She tucked the wand into her bra and smiled at Buffy's odd look. "It's kinda a blessing and a curse on the family line. I'm just the present holder."

"Ah," Buffy said with a nod. "So you don't do magic?"

"No, it does some magic, whatever it thinks is necessary. Sometimes we disagree on that definition." She looked at the stunned guy again. She snapped her fingers in front of his face. "Sure, we can do this at home. You can have dinner with us tonight." She walked him off.

"You're kidnaping me for dinner?" the guy demanded, looking amused. "Not sex?"

Xander smirked. "If you want sex, you can have sex, all you have to do is ask really nicely, dear." She grinned. "I haven't had that much so I'll have to compare a bit."

"Really?" Buffy asked. "How much is not a lot?"

"Twice. The last time because I started to get weak from the lack of."

"Oh, poor thing."

Xander shrugged. "It happens." She got the guy into the backseat of the car and closed him in then looked at Buffy across the roof. "He's possessed."

"I saw the fighting."

"We can fix that too." She got in to drive. Buffy got into the other side. "Home."

"Shoes?" Buffy asked.

"I'm only allowed to have three pairs of shoes and I have four," Xander said. "Sorry."

"That's fine. I guess. Even if that's mean of Hansel."

"We have to be able to pack up and move," Xander quipped, driving them off.

In the back, the guy was starting to come out of his shock and brain hurting state. Two pretty girls had just fought off a creature that should've been in a movie to save him. He wasn't sure if he should feel insulted that they didn't think he could handle it or feel a bit warm for them being such badasses. "Who are you two?" That was a good place to start to see if he needed to kill them both to save himself.

Xander grinned back. "I'm Xander. This is Buffy. We're going home, where there's a relative waiting."

"Relative?" he snorted.

Xander grinned back at a red light. "Looks exactly like you so I'm guessing yes. He's training my hunting skills." She drove on. "Buffy, can you text Hansel?"

"Yup." She found Xander's phone in the car and sent that message. "He said he'll make more chicken and holy water."

"Cool." The guy in the back thrashed so they pulled over and Xander walked him into an alleyway, pushing him against the wall to do an exorcism. The words came up in her mind, even though she had never seen that rite anywhere, and she blew them onto the guy's forehead. The demon surrounding him went to ash and the poor guy fell down. Xander helped him up, finding something. "Yours?" he asked at the tooth that was partially sticking out.

"No." He blinked a few times. "What was that?"

"You were possessed. The demon didn't like me that much." She pried the tooth out and dropped it onto the ashes, making it go to ash too. "C'mon, Hansel does a mean baked chicken since Jason taught him how." She got him back into the car and took him home. She smiled when he tried the door handle a few times. "Sorry, didn't remember to unclick the childproof doors. Hansel does it to me to keep me from going to play sometimes. He really hates it when I go to play with idiots to make them miserable."

Buffy snickered. "Like a redneck bar?"

"Yup, a lot like them. We ran into some in Texas, upper Texas, on the drive here and they were picking on Hansel for having me with him so I kindly whammied 'em and made 'em want Hansel for other reasons. Which got me locked in the car but they quit trying to sneer at Hansel about having a cute guy with them."

"You're a guy?" came from the backseat.

Xander changed then changed back. "Sometimes." The guy was staring, mouth open. Xander shot him another grin. "Sometimes it's easier to hunt this way. They always underestimate you when you're a girl."

"Especially if you're a perky, fashionable girl," Buffy quipped with a grin for him. "You really do look just like Hansel."

"We have the family tree at home," Xander quipped. "We found another guy that looked just like him and found him on the family tree when we extended it sideways. He's an officer in New York. He sometimes runs a diner. He taught me how to carve chickens and make soup." Buffy batted him on the arm so he grinned back. "You'd like Jason. He's a bit goofy sometimes but he's a nice guy. Has a partner that's a bit uptight."

"Partner like on tv shows or partner like as in secretly married outside the job?" she asked.

"I think the first one. She doesn't nag him all that much."

"Okay. I guess that's a good thing." She looked back at their semi-captive. "Are you an officer?"

"I used to be SWAT."

"Huh. That's cool." She grinned. "We don't see too many of them in Sunnydale. They're kinda all dirty to the mayor."

"Who is on bail from the ATF," Xander quipped. "Such a charming man. Sacrificing little kids and the like." Buffy shuddered. "Did they release Devon?"

"Yeah. They got told and released him that night you called." She batted him on the arm. "You did the head vacuum thing very nicely. Even if Mom did scream a whole lot."

Xander grinned. "You're welcome. How's Faith?"

"She's getting better. The Mayor tried to get her to talk to him and she huffed off talking about evil shits who wanted in her leather pants."

"He probably wanted to turn her onto his side, not have sex with her. But who knows with that sort of jackass." She shrugged and turned off the interstate. "Mind music?"

"Rock?"

"Rock's good." She flipped it on and off the pop station they had been listening to, going to the classic rock station. The guy relaxed again. Xander grinned. "It'll be okay. It's a bit weird but we can make sure that thing with the tooth won't happen again and all that."

"Sure. If you're certain." Because he wasn't sure of much of anything beyond maybe he was a bit insane because he wasn't freaking out at gender changing girls who kicked ass.

Xander grinned. "I am. We had to do it to me once." Buffy huffed. "Oh, no, Buffster. Gretel, his former sister, came visiting a few times." She shuddered. "Oh, yes. Oh so charming of her. He took her back to Germany to dump her spirit on her body."

"Hansel and Gretel?" the guy in the backseat asked. "Are you shitting me?"

Xander shook his head. "Nope. Not in the least." The guy huffed but settled back, watching the scenery. Xander took all the shortcuts to get there sooner. He got out and opened the back door. "Sorry." He undid the childproof locks and grinned. "Hansel?" he called as he walked.

He came out and blinked. "Wow. You and Jason could be twins." He walked out, looking him over. "Hansel Kuhn."

"What the fuck?" the guy demanded, staring at him, mouth slightly open.

Buffy blinked. "I'm having thoughts I don't want so I'm going to share with Mom." She waved and grabbed her bags, heading off to think dirty twin thoughts at home.

Xander shook his head. "Sorry, it's been a while for her." She walked between them, staring at the new guy. "I told you there was a relative here." He glared at her. She smiled back and kissed him on the cheek. "Welcome to the family." She walked inside. "Let me get the family chart. What's your name?"

"Brian Gamble."

Xander looked, frowning. "Not on here." He looked at the wand. "Where?" It was highlighted. "Huh." He walked it out. "Hey, Brian, are you adopted?"

"Yeah. Why?"

He pointed. "You're from here according to the wand."

He took it to look at, blinking. "Wow, we were prolific." He wouldn't mention the sparkly wand if the kid didn't.

"A lot of beer," Xander quipped, getting swatted by Hansel. "Hey!" He swatted him back. "You have a twin named Jason."

"There's a blank box underneath mine."

"Okay, so you have another triplet brother," Xander quipped, smiling at him. "I'm over here." He pointed. "That's my mother."

He looked. "There's like seven generations in there."

"I know. Still neat." He hugged him. "So welcome to our wacky family life."

Brian looked at her. "How do you do that changing thing?"

Xander pointed at the top of the chart. "That's a maenad. That's a half-incubus. That's a half angel, not heavenly angels but another species as we found out. They're called Stone Angels. Still have the fluffy wings though. They often get confused. That one's a Titan named Eros." Brian shivered. Xander grinned. "Mine just became active suddenly. So I'm using it to hunt bad things." She took the family chart back and looked at Hansel. "Dinner? Buffy wore me out."

"In the oven. It'll be a half-hour. Did you kidnap him?"

"No. I never threatened him. He was in shock. Then I depossessed him." She walked inside. "Beers, guys?"

"Please," Hansel said. "Not the stout, Xander." She brought out two bottles of beer and handed them over then went out back. Hansel sighed. "Sometimes he's a bit impatient."

"Sometimes we all are."

"Yes, that led to many interesting things," Hansel said. Brian smirked. "So, LAPD?" he asked with a bottle-point at the shirt before taking a drink.

"Had been. Not now."

"That's fine. We're demon and witch hunters." He shrugged. "Jason's a detective in the NYPD."

"He, she......"

"Xander's pretty gender inclusive as he usually puts it. Whatever's good for him."

"Okay, then she said something about him and a diner."

"Sometimes." They went inside to sit and talk. "What rite did you use to depossess him?" Hansel called.

"The words just popped up," Xander called. "Sam and Dean are here. I'll be right back. I'm taking them to Buffy's house."

"Okay." He looked at Brian. "Buffy's got an ordained job to hunt."

"Do you find any of this strange?"

Hansel grinned. "I've been hunting demons for a very long time, Brian. Weird is relative to my sister picking up a troll."

"Hey!" Gretel complained. "Quit picking on Edward. He was a gentle soul." She faded into view, glaring at him. "Jackass."

"Are you having another of those days?" he shot back. "This is Brian."

She looked at him then at her brother. "Finally got a leg up on someone?" she asked with an evil smirk.

"I've had more than one but yes, about three generations ago." She huffed. "Xander's off introducing the Winchester side of the family to Buffy and Faith."

"Fine. I'll go nag her for looking like that without a bra on." She faded out.

Brian opened his mouth. Then sipped his beer. "You and Xander?"

"Only for very rare stress relief," he admitted. "She needs someone more exciting than I am. I save exciting for real relationships."

"Huh." He took another drink. "Dinner?"

"Baked chicken, should be about thirty minutes," he said, checking the timer. "If you want to rest, you can."

"Is there a way to prevent more people from putting me on or infecting me, however that works?"

"Yes. There's a few things that you can do to help protect yourself from that." He got up to get the book, showing him the symbols. "These work well."

"I don't mind a new tattoo."

"They can be anywhere but this part needs to be near your neck."

"I can do that." He copied them down and Hansel taught him how to ward his home too.

***

Xander knocked and walked in. "Mrs. Summers?" She leaned out, blinking at him.

"Xander, don't freak Mom out," Buffy sighed.

Joyce looked. "Xander?" she demanded, staring at him. He shifted back then back to girl form. "How on earth!" She came out to hug him. "Where have you been?"

"With your daughter earlier. I came to introduce a few guys in the same family business to her and Faith if she's here."

"She is. Buffy? Faith!" she called more loudly since she was out back. She came in and paused. "This is Xander in girl form. Can you believe it?"

"Damn," Faith said.

Xander grinned. "Sometimes I have to bait a lot," he quipped with a hand flap in the air. "Buffy, Faith, these are John Winchester and his sons Dean and Sam. John and Dean are hunters."

"Like us hunters?" Faith asked John.

He nodded. "I've been hunting demons since Sammy here was six months old, Faith. It's a pleasure to meet you both." He shook their hands.

Dean did too with a grin. "It's not often female hunters are pretty *and* competent." His father swatted him.

Sam grinned and shook their hands. "I'm more a research person."

"We have a watcher that does that for us but now and then we have to research too," Buffy said with a smile. "Xander?"

"Going home." Joyce scowled. "I found more of Hansel's family."

"Ah. So you're doing dinner?"

"Yup. After we depossessed him earlier." John looked at her chest then glared. "It's to keep Gretel from taking me over again! She's a nagging bitch at times."

Gretel faded in. "You need the nagging, Xander. You do stupid things."

Xander shrugged. "Sometimes we all do. It's part of being human." She huffed. "Let me guess, it's a bad day over there?"

"The nymphs woke me up."

"Well, you *did* piss them off." She glared. He grinned. "Keep it up and I'm going to revel tonight. I'll put Hansel in that necklace so you can have him for a while." She huffed. He winked at John then at Sam. "Going to go home to talk to the new relative. Joyce, I'll see you tomorrow. Buffy, they don't do many vampires but they do a lot of spirits and unnatural creatures."

"We have Oz, who got bitten by his baby nephew, but he locks himself up," Buffy said.

"As long as they're not out eating people and cows, we don't care," Dean quipped. She relaxed again and walked them back to the kitchen talking to them. Joyce and John were silent for a bit then they talked about how to raise hunters. If anyone understood her frustration with Buffy, he would. Even if his boys didn't go out in booty skirts and heels.

Xander walked in. "Gretel's helping them have a hunter talk."

"That's fine. I'm sure Joyce could use the support of other adults who knew and Buffy could use knowing other hunters and their specialities." Xander grinned. "Go clean up." She went to do that, showing Brian where the other bathroom was. Mentally, Hansel was pouting. She seemed to like Brian because he was a bit more wild and a bit more tough than Hansel acted most of the time. Though it might just be a fling to experiment. Who knows with Xander.

***


Xander met up with Brian the next day, later in the day. He snuck up on him and shoved a piece of paper in his pocket. "Something important I heard," he said quietly. He was in girl form so no one said anything mean.

Brian looked at him. "Is that why you showed up?"

"No." He grinned. "Well, I was going to wait and see if you wanted dinner again tonight but that's kinda important and I'd hate to see it happen here. It'll be bad enough if it happens in Sunnydale." She shrugged and walked off.

"Make steak. You'll need protein," Brian ordered. Xander shivered but smiled and went home. Brian looked at the note. //There is a prisoner in the FDC named Wilkins. He is under ATF arrest. He has something huge and harmful planned in two saturdays, during the eclipse. If he's there, it could destroy the building if his plans work.// "Yeah, that's important," he decided. He went to talk to an old *friend*. He was off duty today so it was easy enough to find the little shithead. He 'ran into him' at the bar and tossed the note down. "Someone asked me to kindly give that to someone legit." He walked off. He had a nice dinner and probably pretty damn good sex in his evening plans.

The guy he had tossed it at looked at it and then called his boss to come get it. They could talk to the ATF. His boss brought their ATF contact with him to the bar. "Someone handed it to Gamble," he said, handing it over. "He said they wanted it known."

"We've heard Wilkins had plans of some sort. Why the eclipse? We know he's got strange, occult shit in his house."

"Gamble had that 'going to get laid' look so I doubt he'd be up to answering questions," Jim Street complained. "He said it was given to him by someone."

"I'm not sure which is the better idea. I'll talk with the people who're noted on the case. There's a few agents from outside the area listed in the case notes so maybe they have a clue. Thanks, guys." He left, going back to the office to look that up and figure that out. He found one in New York listed and called him. "Someone just gave someone information about the Wilkins case that says he's got some sort of great plan." He leaned back to listen to him. "No, someone gave it to a former SWAT member out here to pass along. No clue. No other names mentioned." He listened. "Please. If it's going to be that bad, we can move him somewhere." He hung up and went to talk to the boss. He handed over the note. "They're trying to find the original source."

"Any idea what it might be?"

"No, sir."

"Nothing in his house or office?"

"No, not a thing outside some freaky occult things. We all know that town's weird, not sure if he's the reason or not."

"Okay, let me know if you find out *what* it is being planned. If it's going to impact the whole detention center we'll move him somewhere more secure."

"Yes, sir." He went to call some local contacts to see if they could find Gamble at the very least. One said he was seen with someone from Sunnydale so maybe it was first hand information that got handed on.

***

Down in the cells, an ATF agent who was technically a half-demon looked at the mayor. "Arm." He sneered. "Now, Wilkins. Because I need to do a little test." He huffed but stuck his arm through the feeding tray window. She pulled her pocket knife and cut him, watching as it healed.

"Blood is so gosh darn unsanitary. Did you have to do that?"

"Yes. Did you get to eat the spiders?"

He smirked. "I did."

"Great." She walked off, going up to the agent that was wondering. "It's strange things but if he does it exactly right, he'll be endangering everyone," she said quietly.

"The boss said we can move him."

"It won't help." He led her into the office and she sighed. The boss knew what and who she was. "Was there anything in there on Rites of Ascension?"

"Some crackpot things about Vesuvius and Pompeii," the senior agent said.

She nodded. "Not so crackpot," she told the boss. "If I'm right, and I tested by cutting his arm, which healed very nicely within seconds, he's going there if he's done everything by the book."

The boss grimaced. "So strange crackpot stuff that we'd have to ignore?"

She called someone. "Mr. Giles, this is ATF Agent Gertrude Dillette. I am half something your girl would want to hear about. We need to talk about Wilkins. I'm putting you on the speaker." She kicked the door shut and did that.

"We heard you have him in detention."

"Which version is he doing?"

"The largest," he sighed. "As far as we can tell. It's due to happen during the graduation ceremony here, which is during the eclipse. He planned it that way on purpose."

"How large?" the boss asked.

"Over a hundred meters," Giles said. "Estimated."

"Does he have to be in direct light?" she asked.

"No, not from what we've seen. He has to be able to mumble the spell during it."

"Can we stop him by sedating him?" the boss asked.

"I don't think that would work and with his newly acquired healing gifts, I doubt it would last long enough." Giles cleared his throat. "Hansel, would sedating him stop that?"

"No. Not really. The words have to be said and with that last gift he's not going to stay down. It'd have to be millisecond timing. The spell's not very long."

"If he does that here?" she asked.

"He's going to change into a huge demonic snake," Hansel said dryly. "Inside your building full of bad people in cells. Then he'll probably escape and go eat. A lot." She shuddered. "We have plans if he's out on bond up here. He's due to speak at graduation and we've made plans."

"We can take him into the desert," the senior agent said. "I don't believe this stuff but a day trip's nice."

"Have to cut off his head," Hansel said. "Or burn him all at once."

"Great," the boss said. "You sure you have plans?"

"Yes, we do. That's why my relation and I showed up. If it's there, let us know and we'll show up there to help handle it. We have some contacts coming in to help us as well, Agent Dillette. And yes, I've heard very nice things about you. So has Xander."

"Thank you, sir." She looked at her boss. "Can we move him to the desert and take him out there if he manages it?"

"I can't think of a reason to have high powered ordinance there without a good reason, and no one would believe that in advance."

"I don't," the senior agent said. "This is really weird, even for Sunnydale stuff."

"He's the main reason behind all that," Giles said. "He pushed it so it was more exaggerated than not."

"That makes so much sense," the head agent said. "What plans do you have up there?"

"You'll probably hear about it," Hansel said dryly. "Or it'll be on the news."

"Great. What's the best way of handling this?"

"To have killed him about four months ago. Before he got near this step. If I had heard then....."

"Huh." He looked at his agents. "We don't want to risk civilians."

"If we use the desert plan, we're going to have to contain him until someone military gets there or a jet," she said. "Which means agent deaths probably."

"Or strapping a heavy bomb to a sheep," Hansel said dryly. "It's worked in the past on other creatures. That would at least injure him."

"I can see us doing that," the boss said. "I'll let you know tomorrow about what we decide. Thank you for getting word to us."

"Not a problem. We don't want to see that happen in downtown LA." He hung up.

The agents shared a look. She nodded. "He got to the point of the hundred days of immortality," she said quietly. "I cut his arm and it healed immediately."

"So very bad, minorly bad, or impossible to make plans for without looking like fruitcakes," the boss said. "I hate this guy."

"If we could shoot him now," the senior agent said dryly. "I'd volunteer. I could use a few days off to get drunk."

She was looking up the case file. "He has a bond hearing in front of a judge tomorrow."

"Fuck," the boss muttered. He considered it. "Pack his surveillance team with extra ordinance if he gets out. Make them top heavy for skills. We can rush in and help. I'll have an extra team on standby to rush up and help within minutes if possible." They nodded, going to talk to the other agents they knew could handle a battle. The boss called his higher up and got the number for the strange things happening guy they had. He called him. "This is Deputy Director Soloman in the LA office. We have a bad situation coming up with a problematic case that came from Sunnydale.

"No, not a vampire that's going to turn into ashes in the cell after setting himself on fire," he answered. "We've had those. No, we have Mayor Richard Wilkins under arrest. He's due to change during the eclipse coming up. Something about an ascension and a hundred meter snake." He listened. "We have three choices and one's pretty but unreasonably hard to make good on. He can do it here, at the graduation he's due to speak at, or in the desert and then we'd have to get ordinance there to handle him."

He listened. "One of my agents knows and called up there. They said they have plans. I have no idea about most of this. He has a bond hearing in the morning. No he's in the detention center here in downtown LA. We're told he'd still be able to do it there. That's who we talked to, yes." He picked up a pen to tap a few times then tossed it down. "I'd like to use the desert option. How would I cover why we needed such heavy ordinance there?" He nodded at that wisdom.

"So go help at the graduation. Make sure there's no civilian casualties. Sure. That's my second choice but I don't like it. There's civilians there." He nodded. "Okay. Thank you." He hung up and went to tell them. "If he gets bail, he's to go to the graduation. We'll be there in force to handle things. Minimize any casualties," he said quietly.

"Agreed," they said.

"We'll tell the others," she promised. He went to take something for his upset stomach. He didn't like that plan but they had no good way of doing the one in the desert. He called his boss to talk to him. The director had to know there was going to be something huge coming up and if it got found out, they were all toast. Thankfully his boss knew he had...unusual agents and had been shown the case files on Wilkins. There was now an inclusion in it about his attempting to attack a graduation ceremony to ascend new status from the blood and death count. The director didn't know how to do it in the desert without drawing notice either.

***

Xander walked out the next morning, kissing Brian goodbye. "Be safe. If he's there, just take a higher up spot," he said quietly. "If he's transferred here, we'll run if he gets free."

Brian snorted. "He won't." He kissed him again. "Be a good boy, Xander."

"I try really hard." He grinned. Gamble smirked as he walked off. Xander sat down delicately.

Hansel looked at him. "Won't keep you from sparring, Xander."

"I know, especially since I'm supposed to be sparring with Faith, Buffy, and Dean later." He sighed and got some coffee by stealing Hansel's.

Hansel took it back. "Get your own."

"You didn't leave me any in the pot."

"You're the one who slept in."

Gretel showed up, looking at Xander then at Hansel. "He had a lot more fun than I usually did."

Xander nodded. "He was really good at it."

"We can tell by the way you can't sit," Hansel taunted with an evil smirk.

Xander kicked him under the table. "Some guys can make a girl squeal."

"Some of us save that for marriage," Hansel said, sipping his coffee.

"Aw. That's sweet." He got up with a moan and made himself breakfast then sat back down again. Gretel was still smirking. Xander grinned at her. "If you want something that fantastic, go possess someone and have someone pounce you, Aunt Gretel. Around here it wouldn't even be that unusual." He ate a bite of his toast before sitting back down.

Hansel swatted him. "Quit picking on her for being dead."

"Tell her to quit picking on me for not being dead," Xander shot back, glaring at him. "I'm sorry she's still jealous or whatever. You guys can hang out, I don't mind. You guys can have all day since I'll be with everyone at the library for hours." He ate another bite.

"We," Hansel corrected.

"Sure, if you want." He grinned. "We wouldn't mind the company either. She can even float around and nag John or whatever."

Hansel rolled his eyes. "I doubt he does much to get nagged about."

"Unlike those that have a lot of sex before training," Gretel said with a smile.

"And with the heritage, if I don't have it fairly routinely I get sick," Xander shot back.

"Hansel doesn't."

"Hansel never had it woken in him."

"Then next time...." she started.

"Sure, next time I won't try to see why people are turning into slimy monsters and attacking my classmates and sometimes friend; I can do that," he said dryly, glaring at her. "Next time I'll let them kill more teenagers." She shuddered, floating backward. "You have no fucking idea what I've done," he reminded her. "So shut the fuck up."

"I was in your head," she noted.

"I remember you screwing me up worse," he shot back. "Yay. Did you find anything?" She glared. He stared back. "Don't test me. I'll find something to eat your remaining soul. I was having a better day before I came in here so let me go shower and change for sparring." He walked off with his breakfast, slamming his bedroom door.

"I'd never put up with such attitude," she snorted.

"That's because you caused it," he said. "And you'd stomp off the same way." She glared. He stared at her. "You did plenty of that, Gretel. Go. Apologize." She huffed and disappeared. "Xander, I'm sure she's sorry."

"I'm sure she's not and has everlasting PMS and I'm about to curse her with it," Xander called back. "Frankly, I don't give a damn."

"Fine." He sighed, getting back to his own breakfast. This was all such a mess whenever Gretel showed up. Maybe what she had told him as she died about vexing the dark was about her. He had no idea what was wrong with her. Or how to calm Xander down.

***

It was the day of the battle, and Xander came out wearing the leather pants and waist cinching vest over her best shirt. Hansel looked at her. "At least this way if I die they can bury me in something nice." She checked her weapons again and walked off. "Going there."

"Hide those," he reminded her.

"I am." The wand was tied up in her hair. Everything else was concealed thanks to Willow's spell. Which would hopefully drop as the ascension happened. She walked up to where the team was, nodding at them. Buffy stared, mouth slightly open. "Hansel picked it out. He's coming."

"Wow, I need that," Buffy said.

Dean nodded. "You don't have the titties for it," he admitted. "That works best with larger ones." Xander laughed and hit him on the arm. "You sure you want to stay in that form?"

Xander nodded. "I've trained more with swords and axes in this form." They all nodded at that. "Sammy?"

"Safely outside town," Dean said quietly, looking around. "Parents are gathering." Xander grinned and went to greet a few, who said they remembered her, even though they had never met her. Dean looked at Buffy. "You ready for this?"

"Not my first battle, huge thing or not." He nodded. She got into her robe and cap, heading for the senior line up. She looked at Oz and Willow, nodding. "Our cheering section is almost all here." They nodded back, looking tense. Willow was close to spazing out about the whole graduation thing anyway. Things like that mattered to Willow. Buffy was staying calm by remembering her part of the plan. Oz looked calm, like always. She caught Giles' eye and he nodded. There were Hansel and John, acting like parents. She looked at Cordelia, who nodded it'd be okay. They spotted some of the ATF agents watching over them and sighed in relief. They could help handle the civilians. They walked in to the music as they had practiced and sat down. Everyone was okay for now. It'd be okay. Principal Snyder got up to annoy them. They yawned through most of it.

The Mayor got up to give his speech, looking up then smiling at them. "Fine day isn't it?"

Xander got a tingly feeling and looked around. A few other partial demons. He caught the eye of one and they looked away. Wilkins had laid extra people in the audience. Great. When he started to chant in Latin, Xander set off the smoke bombs. That made most people run when Oz shouted 'fire' at the top of his lungs. The agents helped herd the panicking people out of the way so the Mayor finished his bursting out of his skin to find all his food sources running. He growled and made due with Snyder's stringy body.
The hunters were already moving forward to handle this and make sure the rest of the civilians left safely. They could handle this diversion to keep the snake off people. The last few civilians were gotten out of the way by the agents. Buffy took off running. The Mayor chased her. He wanted slayer blood, it was supposed to be really tasty. Giles was in position and pushed the plunger when Buffy dove out the window. It took a heartbeat but the bombs went off. The Mayor screamed and Xander and Dean threw molotovs at him to make sure he was going to burn. Xander threw one last one and spit on the demon's tail. "Next time, don't test the students. We're always going to be a next generation." She walked off.

Buffy was panting. Xander helped her up. "Walk off the cramps," he said quietly, handing her to Faith, who nodded. She had been in the crowd helping remove people. Willow was hyperventilating against Oz about the huge felony they had just committed. Oz looked a bit tired and sweaty but was trying for calm. Xander looked at him, getting a nod back. "Scatter home," he said quietly. "Or somewhere safe. Calm down."

"Can do," Oz agreed, helping her up. She shook, looking at the mess. "C'mon." He led her away.

One of the agents stopped them and handed over two diplomas. "One of the junior agents grabbed the basket." Willow smiled and hugged it. "Nice work, Rosenburg. You as well, Osbourne." He nodded and walked Willow off. She walked over to the others, handing them their diplomas. Buffy smiled at her for it. "Nice job."

"Thank you."

"Let us clean up this mess." She looked around. "I have no idea what to call this."

"Gas main explosion," John said dryly, holding a cut on his arm. "The cops that're left are."

"We can work with that. Nice work," she told them, nodding at them. "Disappear?"

"Going back home," Xander quipped with a grin.

She smirked at him. "How do you do that?"

Xander grinned. "I'm fantastic. Why?"

"Just wondering."

Xander grinned. "There's mystical artifacts that can too."

"I heard about them."

Xander pointed at the necklace he was wearing. "It's kinda handy." He walked off rubbing a sore muscle in his arm. He looked back at the mess, nodding. "We did okay," he said when John walked up to him. "Six deaths when it could've been hundreds."

"It was a good plan," he agreed. "Most of the deaths were trampling ones or from the backup forces." He looked back there then at Xander. "You sure you want to keep doing this?"

Xander snorted. "Not like I haven't been doing this. I've been doing this since tenth grade." She walked off. "Going home to eat."

"Sure, kid."

"Don't hit the ER. They like to kill people."

"I can do that." He looked at Hansel and his nagging sister behind him. "It was a good plan."

"Xander did a lot of it while we prepared for the worst case possible. He's got some skills with planning." He smiled. "You and Dean good?"

"Few cuts, Dean's limping where he dove to tackle a victim out of the way and twisted an ankle. We're good." He shook his hand. "Thankfully it's solved." He walked off. "C'mon, Dean. You can flirt with Buffy by email for a few weeks. Sammy's going to be paranoid until he checks us over."

"I can do that," he quipped, grinning at Buffy and Faith. "Call, write, smoke signal," he quipped. "If you need us, we'll try to be here."

"We could like that. You should drop by for pie and stuff," Faith said. "That way we have others to talk to."

Dean grinned. "We can do that too." He shook their hands and limped off after his father. Once they were safely holed up outside of town that night, it was time to puke, shake, have nightmares, and get really, really drunk.

Hansel walked into their house, looking at Xander dosing her own cuts. "You did good."

"More huge then the Harvest but less huge than it could've been," he said quietly, looking at him. "Thanks."

"It's not a problem. This is the job, Xander." He stared at him. "Did you want to take a break? Stay here?"

"No. Because I'm still getting the 'you're too normal to help me' bullshit."

Hansel smiled and nodded. "We can handle that." Xander grinned and relaxed. "We need a few days off."

"We have a few weeks off," Xander said with a point. "It came in the mail." Her phone beeped twice in seconds. She looked at it, grinning some. "Brian said I should've worn that outfit instead of the tan dress." He moved to the other one after answering him. "Jason said if that was us he's going to murder us both for being there." He answered him and handed Hansel the alcohol and gauze. "I can see blood on your side."

"I got a tail whip at one point." He took off his shirt and vest to take care of it. They babied their injuries quietly but they weren't that badly off. It could've been a lot worse.

Gretel faded into view, staring at Xander. "You can let him handle the injuries for you."

Xander looked at her. "I do my own because I trust my own hand more than I do anyone else's," he said quietly but firmly. "I'm not married to him. I'm not soul bound to him. If it's one I can't reach I'd let him but I can handle my own. I mostly have since I was six outside the few that Willow stitched for me. Thank you anyway." She floated backward looking scared. He sighed and looked at the one on his ankle. "You're just a tiny scratch." He put his foot down. "Need help, Hansel?"

"No, I'm okay. They're all on my front." He looked at him. "There has to be trust between partners, Xander."

"I do trust you as much as I trust anyone anymore. The only one I trusted to do critical things to me is dead."

"I had that same feeling after Gretel died." He patted him on the arm. "You'll find it easing as you learn more about others."

"Maybe." He went to his room to lay down. He was exhausted.

Hansel looked at Gretel. "How many times have I said to leave him be?"

"He's...."

"He had his version of you, Gretel. He died. You wouldn't have trusted anyone either and I spent close to eighty years before I trusted someone enough again." She slumped but nodded. "Quit trying to fuck up Xander."

"Fine. I was trying to help!" She faded out, going to talk to that witch. She didn't like her but Xander had made a point that they needed her there to handle things, even if she was slowly going dark. They could take her out when she was no longer useful or she slipped into intentionally harming people. She'd probably know who Xander had trusted that much. Xander had said they had been friends since they were children. Of course, Willow was calming down by having sex with her boyfriend so she'd have to wait.

Gretel went to the local library. The newspapers were there and she could read them by phasing through them. She found a lot of boys that had died when Xander was about the right age. None of them noted Xander. Going further back in the archives, she found a few pictures of Xander and another kid, sometimes with the witch and sometimes without. She looked up his name in those more recent deaths, finding him. Missing, presumed dead. So maybe a vampire. She noticed someone staring at her and made sure she was not visible. Still, the witch or whatever could see her. She floated over. "I'm looking up information on some family members."

"Of course you are. On who?"

"Xander Harris."

"Xander's a little jackass," she said with a smile. "He used to play pranks on us to get extra comics checked out." She settled into her chair. "What did you want to know?"

"Who was that one boy?"

"Jesse? He was Xander's best friend. A lot of us expected them to run off somewhere to do gay things but then Jesse disappeared and a few thought Xander had killed him over something but we knew Xander wouldn't, not Jesse. Willow maybe, she liked to nag them both, but never Jesse. The one fight they got into, Xander let Jesse hit him and then walked off when Jesse realized what he had done and apologized. Took them a week and we all watched but Xander needed him. Jesse needed Xander but not in the same way."

"Because of his parents?"

"Jesse's mom was a bit...different. Xander's parents were filth. We weren't surprised they found them dead."

Gretel nodded. She had heard a bit about their death. "What do you think happened to the boy?"

The woman smiled. "Unlike most around here, I'm well aware of what goes on at night, Miss. I'm fairly certain what happened to him but I'm not sure if he left town afterward or got staked by the slayer."

Gretel nodded. "I guess that makes sense. Was anyone else that tight with them?"

"No. Willow was there but not as strongly. She's a girl and her parents are pathetic at raising anything, even plants. They proved it very well with her. The boys protected her and she helped them with stuff like homework, but Willow's never understood people things. She doesn't understand bonds or friendship that way. She might never understand that. To her, bonds between people are something that can be repaired or not as you wish, that people you're joined with are disposable at times." Gretel nodded at that. "Which means I worry about what she'll do when she finishes maturing into her powers."

"Hopefully nothing or else Hansel will burn her for it."

The older woman smiled. "What makes you think she won't go past that level? Burning doesn't work on sorcerers. Willow's a big one on books being the only right thing in the world. I'm pretty sure she'll look into runes sometime, even for protection. That means she'll find ones to keep herself off the pole."

"We could take her out now."

"Then who handles the problems for the slayer?"

"Which is why Xander had her spared," Gretel said with a grimace.

"Of course he did. Xander, he understands bonds. He understands friendship. I feel sorry for whoever he chooses as a mate, because I doubt they'll ever live up to Jesse's memory. When you save someone's life you forge stronger bonds."

Gretel nodded. "You do. I did with my brother."

She smiled. "That's always a good thing for family if they're good. For Xander, Jesse was his true family. Maybe Willow was a stepsister but Jesse was his real blood. I think they would've grown into the sort of couple that would've finished each other's sentences."

Gretel nodded. "I can see that. Thank you."

"You're welcome." She smiled. Gretel floated off to talk to her brother. The demon changed to her demonic visage and went back to her lunch. Being a vengeance demon over lost knowledge was a great thing at times. Gretel had forgotten what a bond was as well. It was time someone reminded her.

***

Xander woke up somewhere strange, looking around the building he was in. He was in male form. He was wearing clothes. He was on a cot in an empty warehouse looking space. He looked around, slowly gathering details in the gloom. "What the fuck?" he demanded quietly. "Who did this?" No answer. He sighed and concentrated. No powers to show him if there were any demons nearby. No powers at all. He looked around again, taking in the walls that were brightening as the sun crept up slowly. Posters. The walls were covered in posters. He walked over to look at them. Hunters. People he knew.

The whole warehouse was full of people who had missing posters for some reason. They all read the same date, the same location. He scanned them for certain names. John wasn't listed. Dean was but not Sam. Hansel wasn't listed but he found his watch on the cot when he looked at it because it had went off. Since that never left his wrist, he was gone. He went back to looking them over. Some people he hadn't met. A guy named Castiel. A guy named Gabriel. That bothered him and he wasn't sure why. He kept looking. He found his finally, it was on the door. "I'm not missing or dead," he noted. The poster burst into flames. That let the door open and Xander looked outside then walked back to grab the watch and hike into the sunlight. This was really bad and there was almost no noise.

Xander woke up with a gasp, looking around. His room at the house. His bed, his clothes. His gun at the foot of his bed since he had been cleaning it before he fell asleep. He got up to make notes. That was wrong on many levels. He'd never had a vision that strong or that freaky before. He checked the clock, it was four in the morning. The date was right after the battle during graduation. He walked upstairs to Hansel's room, knocking until he got groaned at. Xander walked in and handed him the paper. "Vision."

"What now?" Hansel said, sounding exhausted. He looked it over. That made him wake up. "Anyone missing?"

"You didn't have one but I found your watch. John's wasn't there, or Sam's. For some reason I had a twinge about a few. I listed them on the second page." Hansel looked at those and nodded slowly. "I don't know."

"Looks like another future apocalypse battle?" He looked up at him.

Xander shook his head slowly. "I don't know. It doesn't feel right. I don't know why it doesn't." He sat on the foot of the bed. "If I was there, why was I spared?"

"No idea," he admitted. "Why was Sam spared, or John?"

"John may've been dead," Xander said, going back over those feelings. "Jason was dead but not Brian, who was under another name by the poster. I saw the third one in there and he was missing but not dead. I couldn't read his name. I got a strong feeling about protecting him and Brian but Jason was already gone." He blinked a few times and yawned. "I don't know what it means. I woke up as I walked into the sun."

"Were you turned?"

"No. I was breathing, I was warm. I wasn't a vampire. I didn't have any of my bloodline gifts."

"Okay. Why those two angels?"

"What?"

"Castiel and Gabriel are both angels. Or I'm assuming it's that one in the second case. Castiel is a senior guardian angel."

"Huh." He yawned again. "I don't know."

"Okay. Why don't you go back to sleep and we'll see if you find out more. I'll send it to John to see if he can make sense of it." Xander nodded, already mostly asleep sitting up. Hansel pushed Xander down onto the bed and went to email John. He liked being warned of huge apocalypses instead of blundering into them.

***

Gretel woke Xander up the next morning. "Who was that older woman at the library? She could see me."

"Miss Janice," he said, still half asleep. "She's the vengeance demon over lost knowledge." That woke him up and he hopped up, grabbing a shirt and shoes. "Thanks, Gretel." He ran out, grabbing a copy of the vision and heading out.

Gretel floated out. "I kicked a thought."

"Apparently." He looked at her. "He had another vision last night." He let her see the copy he made that had his new notes on it.

She grimaced. "The world's ending?"

"Maybe."

She considered it then nodded. "Hunters. Some are missing."

"They could've already been dead. The date on most of the posters was about six years in the future."

She nodded. "It could've happened." She looked at the vision again. "That's really strange. Why all those hunters and not him? Why show him all those posters?"

"It could mean he was one of the last few left. With his gifts, the things that would normally kill one of us might not work as well on him."

She nodded. "I hadn't thought about that." She settled down to help him look. "Who's this?" she asked with a point.

"That is the other triplet," he said. "Jason and Brian's brother."

"Huh. Another officer?"

"I can't find any mention of him."

"So, maybe he works for the government," she said dryly. She looked. "Why is Brian's name crossed out and who is Aaron Cross?"

"Not sure, nothing under that name that relates back to us."

"Huh. Weird." He nodded.

***

Xander rushed into the library. "Miss Janice, I need to pick your brain." He walked her off to the bathroom area, locking them in the ladies room. He held up the vision. "Why was I one of the last left?"

She read it over, grimacing. "They couldn't kill you. The only one who probably could would be within the bloodline and Sam couldn't." She looked at him.

Xander nodded. "It doesn't feel like the normal apocalypse."

"They can't kill their own kind, Xander. Not even half ones." She handed it back. "There was a prophecy." He snorted. "They believed it enough to make it happen."

"About?"

"When the last nephililim is born. That's the start to when their days are numbered."

"I wasn't born one and I'm not a full one."

"To some that aren't the Stone Angels, that's enough. Even one drop of taint."

Xander considered it, swallowing. "They're going to take out humanity."

"Yes, they are. They're going to use Sam to do it. There's a few prophecies but the books are long destroyed."

He nodded. "Do you remember them?" She snorted, giving him a dirty look. He pulled out his phone to turn on the auto record feature. "Please?" She repeated them for him. Then added in the one about his birth. He slumped but grimaced. She patted him on the cheek. "Thank you, Miss Janice. Anything else that could help me stop that shit?"

She nodded. "With some's skills and former service, the ones who are looking for warriors for their version of the light will come for one of the family. They'll be convincing him it was his idea and it'll take him a bit to remember he's not Aaron."

"I remember writing that. Should I warn him?"

"No. You marked him so no true demon could hunt him. That will lead him back to you. He'll be angry, because he won't remember. You can fix that."

Xander relaxed and nodded. "Thank you."

"You're a sweet boy, Xander, and we all thought you and Jesse would've been a fantastic soul-bound couple." He swallowed but nodded. "You won't find that depth but it's okay to move on. Even if your aunt is a snotty bitch to you for stepping into her place." She patted him on the cheek. "Do what you can."

"I will. Thank you, Miss Janice." He kissed her on the cheek. Then he left, going home. He called John and played the phone and Hansel the recording.

At the end, John yelled for Sam. "Dean, go find your brother and protect the hell out of him before someone higher up wants to use him to end humanity more than they do now."

"Great, another one," Dean quipped from a slight distance away. "Tell them I said hi."

"I will," John said. "What's a Stone Angel? Like the things on that show?"

"No, those are weeping angels and they're hidden assassins from a faction within hell that's locked up," Hansel said. "I was highly amused someone learned about those."

"Stone Angels predate Christian writing about angels," Xander said. "Some people got them mixed up since they're where the fluffy, visible wings came from. If there's real angels then they're probably the ones that wiped them out. The Stone Angels were the ones that started nephililim. Though a few were supposed to be from that other kind."

"Any advantages?" John asked.

"Different faith, different ways to kill them. When I looked into the heritage to see what they could do, it was like angels across the various multi-god pantheons. Their messengers, their special ones. Some said they were bastard offspring of a few gods and they were loaned out."

"All of them?" John asked.

"No, I never saw any in Norse myths unless they changed to be Valkyries. They had a few that got mixed up in those myths. The only female ones noted were there and one in India as an ancient goddess that was linked to a cult but vanished after about two hundred years. It was in one area and they mostly got wiped out."

"So, pre angels." John clearly drank something. "Anything else good to know?"

"The two angels, because she agreed that Castiel and Gabriel were angels, might have something to do with it. Not sure. Though.... The picture of Gabriel had Sam just out of view but it looked like a moving picture and I saw Sam look over from the shadows at him, looking really sad."

"So maybe angels were near my kids," John said. "That's a bad thought. Not like Dean or Sam would qualify to be one."

"Sam may show the better nephililim traits," Hansel said quietly. "You said he's always been excellent at exorcisms. That would fall under that probably."

"That's probably how I knew to get the spirit out of Brian," Xander agreed. He took Hansel's phone to text him about that and to be careful. He handed it back once it was sent.

Hansel nodded at that practical usage. "We know a bit more," he said.

"We know more than just the posters. So they're going to start the apocalypse?"

"Apparently so," Xander said. "Though I don't know why they think I was born."

"Being awakened is a birth process," John said dryly. "They were probably making sure no one and nothing got to anyone in the bloodline somehow."

"Yeah, well, they apparently didn't count on the hellmouth either," Xander said dryly. "And I'm not the only one it got woken up in. Gretel had it woken in her before she died."

"And right afterward was the last Inquisition," Hansel said. John groaned. "The last one that had that sort of draw for weird and strange things was in England and came over with the Puritans. I found them right before they banished her with a hail of stones at her head."

"Those sort are already complaining about all the occult stuff going on," Xander quipped. "I'm sure you've seen the idiots on tv going off on the new Harry Potter books that just came out. And then the earth mother sort that complained back that it wasn't realistic, they didn't fly on their broomsticks that way."

"I laughed myself sick at that," Hansel admitted. "And quidditch." Xander grinned at him. "So we know about when and we'll be moving up to it."

Xander groaned and gripped his head. "Ow."

"Breathe," Hansel ordered. "What was it, Xander? Tell us?" he said soothingly.

"John, if something happens to Sam, Dean's going to step in and go to hell. That's their ultimate sign because he'll break a Seal. Like a stone one."

"Okay," John said. "I can talk to them about it. If I find more, I'll tell you guys. Thank you."

"I'd never let anyone go through that," Hansel said. Xander went to get sick. "Let me get him something for his stomach. Try to have a better week, John."

"You too." He hung up and went to find his boys. "Boys!" They came out of the woods. They were at Bobby's. "Bobby?" He came out. John had recorded the talk on his phone. He let them listen to it.

Bobby grimaced. "We know almost nothing about Stone Angels. There's a few myths of there being myths but nothing really coherent. A few bits about them being like staid, uptight incubus and succuba for the good guys. Apparently they partied like the Greek and Roman gods. They were used as messengers. A few myths alluded to them being special spouses. Others that said they were giants. If they're the basis for the nephililim then I wouldn't be surprised."

"They were probably the cause for most but not all?" Sam asked.

"Could be," Bobby agreed. He looked at him. "You okay?"

"No. If they use me to end humanity I'm going to end them. And there's no way Dean's going to hell for me!"

Dean punched him on the arm. "No, I'm not." He looked at his father and 'uncle'. "Anything concrete we need to know right now?"

"The two angels Xander saw on the posters were Castiel," John said.

"Over Thursdays," Bobby said. "Pretty strong guardian angel sort."

"And Gabriel, and that one was where he saw a hint of Sam in his picture."

"Like blows the horn?" Sam asked.

"Could be, might be more than one," Bobby said. "This is a cluster of fucks being damned."

"Yes, it is," John agreed. He looked at his younger son. "Are you sure about Stanford?" Sam huffed, glaring at him. "It might not be safe, son."

"I can take protections, Dad. I can do protections all around my dorm room and when I get to take an apartment around that too." John nodded. "You can help me set them up the first time if you want," he sighed. "As long as you don't bitch."

"No, I think it's clear that you're not meant for hunting." Bobby stared at him, mouth open. "Some things have been brought to my stubborn attention," he said dryly. "If Sam wants to hunt, he's more than welcome to come back."

"I had four years before hunting, Sammy can do the same," Dean quipped with a smirk for his little brother, who punched him on the arm. "Quit messing up the prettiness, bitch."

"Shut up, Dean."

"Boys," Bobby warned. "Not the time for you two to start tussling like little kids."

John's phone beeped with a text message, letting him look at it. "Okay," he said, showing it to Sam. Who texted that same number back. What he saw did not amuse him. John and Dean both looked and Dean growled. "That's bad."

"That's real bad," Sam said quietly. "And it'd probably draw me back." He looked at them. "Is the demon still around?"

"Can't find him in corporeal form," John said grimly. "Or else we'd have a bonfire like Hansel does."

Dean grinned. He could get behind that sort of bonfire. He might even revel when they caught that demon. Xander could teach him how. "Why was he glaring at Willow and threatening her with one?"

"Because she's slipped more than once," Sam said. "When you get that close to her you can smell a tiny bit of decay. But she's closing the hellmouth and helping the slayer." They shared a look. "Hansel might ask someone to handle it so he can shield Xander. They've been friends since kindergarten."

Dean nodded. "I'd appreciate that if I was him." He looked at the older hunters. "Now what?"

"We settle Sammy in at Stanford in a few weeks for that first summer session," John decided. "If he can arrange it?"

Sam nodded. "I was going to go for the second one. The first's got almost nothing in it."

"Good. We can handle that," Bobby decided. "Any idea on your roommate yet?"

"I've gotten a letter from them. They sent out auto form letters with our questionnaire results. He sounds....boring but okay."

"Great, just the sort of guy to get lost in the frats," Dean quipped.

"We can move off campus after a year," Sam told him with a smile. "I can find something nicer."

"Good. It might help." They considered it and nodded. "If you have to leave Stanford, go to UC Hellmouth as Buffy called it?"

"I can do that," he agreed. "It'd probably be safer there. I could help patrol around the campus." John and Bobby both nodded.

"So we have a plan, a backup plan, and a Sammy emergency plan," Dean quipped. "Now what?"

"We make sure he has what he needs," Bobby said. "College kids always need stuff."

"Not that much stuff. I don't need the mini fridge and stuff," Sam said. "I wrote to him and said I wasn't going to be bringing anything more than books and clothes because I'm on scholarship and going to have to buy those while I'm there. I was going to pick up a cheap tv at a pawn shop."

They nodded at that practical point. They could make plans.

***

Hansel looked at Gretel. "Why were they called stone angels?"

"From what little I remember hearing about them, they were built like statues of ancient winged beings that worked with or were gods."

"Huh." He watched Xander sleep. He had to knock him out thanks to that last vision. He looked at Gretel again. "He looked good yesterday."

"He did. Could've used some toning up."

Hansel stared at her. "Are you really that jealous?"

"No! It's not that."

"He's not you," Hansel said. "He'll never be my sister." She huffed but settled in again. They could handle this between them. Xander would heal from the headache and they'd move on to do something else. Still plenty of hunting that needed to be done.

TBC
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