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Tied up in Red

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This story is No. 8 in the series "Our Roots Run Deep". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: It's their senior year and they're stronger than ever, but what sort of madness will the Pack face this year? On Hiatus until I have the sequels finished.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-CenteredcalikocatFR181372,82729916,49924 Aug 1314 Jul 14No

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR15

Full House

Tied up in Red
calikocat
Chapter Four: Full House

Word count: 6023

XXX

Again Hannibal stared at the men gathered around him. They always came whenever he needed them. Always dropping whatever they were doing. He hated to do this, to ask so much from them, but he really needed them.

He had been content before, to simply let go, spend his final days relaxing...before he knew about Heidi. Heidi changed everything. He needed more time.

“I know you're all busy, but I have something to do, something that I need your help with.”

“What exactly is this about? We can't just drop everything Hannibal. Murdock and I have Amy and the kids to consider.”

“I know Face...and you just might want Amy to hear this...where I'm going...and what I plan to do. There may not be any coming back. But I don't feel like I have much of a choice.”

“Hannibal, what you talkin' bout?”

Hannibal sighed and handed B.A. his chart. “I don't have a lot of time.”

B.A. looked it over carefully before he met Hannibal's eyes in shock. “Cancer?”

Face and Murdock grew pale and gripped one another's hands. “How long?” Murdock asked.

“Not long enough. Not long enough to really get to know my daughter. I need more time, and the only way I'm gonna get it...is by doing the impossible.”

“It sounds like you have a plan.”

“I do Face. But I can't do this alone. I need the A-Team and that includes Amy.”

“Boss-man, our kids.” Murdock murmured. “We have to think about them.”

“Trust me Murdock, once I explain everything, you'll want her with you for this mission.”

“Whatever you need Hannibal...as long as I don't have to fly.”

“Won't that be interesting.”

xxx

It was early, so early that not even a hint of dawn was creeping in the eastern window which meant it was still very dark...but there was a ringing from somewhere close to the alarm clock. There was no way either of them would set the alarm for dark-thirty and Xander groaned, even as he hoped whoever was calling wasn't in the middle of a crisis. “Cordy, sweetheart, is that your phone?”

“Mmph.” She grumbled and wiggled halfway out of his arms and reached for the offending piece of technology blindly. Somehow she was able to find it and answer it without even opening her eyes. The talents of a teenage girl never ceased to surprise him. “Hello.”

“Hello Princess.”

The smooth chuckle, that he could just barely hear, on the other end of the line made her sit up with a gasp. “SPIKE!”

Xander was sitting up and practically on top of her in a second. “Is he okay?”

She shoved him back, which made him pout. “Are you okay? Why the heck didn't you call sooner? I know I had service the entire time we were in Japan...well almost the entire time.”

“Japan?”

“Xander has family there.”

“Have a good summer then?”

“It was different. We fell down a magic well and ended up five-hundred years in the past and got attacked by a horde of demons. What about you?”

“Oh you know...Got Dru to South America. Got her hooked up with a Chaos Demon. Wandered about a bit...”

Xander mouthed at her neck to distract her. “Is he coming back?”

Cordelia moved the phone so he could hear as well. “You get that?”

Spike chuckled again, and his voice sounded...lost. “Yeah. I'll be back soon...don't know for how long though.”

Xander's voice came out in a rush then, as if he was compelled to pave Spike's way back to them. “Everything came out in the open. Buffy won't hassle you when you come back. Also she wanted to thank you for killing the Anointed One.”

“I wasn't expecting that...I'll keep it in mind.”

“We'll be waiting.”

“Come back soon.”

xxx

Xander refocused on the conversation, when Cordelia gave him a gentle nudge, giving Willow his attention. “What about Homecoming?”

Willow rolled her eyes. “We could rent a limo.”

He made a face, his eyes moving back to the band playing on the stage. “Have fun with that.”

Willow frowned. “You don't want to go? But it’s our last one.”

“We never cared about going before.” He pointed out.

Willow gave him big eyes and repeated. “But it’s our last one, Xander. We're Seniors; there are no do-overs.”

Kyle gave her a smile and a comforting pat to the shoulder. “Larry and I are going; the four of us can split the cost of a limo.”

Buffy shook her head. “Not me.”

Cordelia grinned, as if everything was suddenly settled. “You and Oz can double date with Kyle and Larry...and you have to take pictures because I want to know about whatever monstrosity Harmony is going to try to wear.”

Kyle nearly choked on a pretzel. “Queen C not going to Homecoming? Is there an apocalypse we don't know about?”

Cordelia smirked and looked down her nose at them, though her eyes were shining in amusement. “Queen C and Xander got a call early this morning from Spike, finally, and are too anxious to go to Homecoming when he could show up at any time.”

Buffy nodded. “Understandable.”

Willow gave her a sad face. “Buffy, you bought tickets.”

“Yeah...not sure what I was thinking.”

Xander gave her a nudge and tugged at her hair gently. “You could take Faith.”

The face Cordelia made was sort of sour. “We have kind of been excluding her...even though she keeps eying my Xander like he's prime rib.”

Willow tried not to giggle. “Yeah, if Faith goes it can be a slayer bonding experience.”

“Maybe.”

Oz gave her a sort of neutral smile, the kind only Oz could pull off. “How's Angel?”

She shrugged and slumped further into her seat. “Jumpy, nervous...twitchy. But he's talking now.”

“He's strong Buff, he'll make it.”

“Yeah...we just can't...”

Xander sighed. “I know. I'm sorry.”

“Yeah...and now that I'm thoroughly depressed...I'm gonna go. Check on Angel, take him some blood. Check in with Giles. Fun stuff like that.”

xxx

The sun was just coming over the horizon, when Sammo pulled his car out of the parking lot of their apartment complex. He counted himself lucky that Louis had gotten him an apartment next to his own. It made things so much simpler and no one questioned when they came into work together, or went to the store together...or went home together which was all the time.

It had been a very long time since he had been in a relationship with someone, and what he had now with Louis was unlike anything he had ever experienced. Many years ago when they had been boys...there had been a time when he thought maybe Lee Hei could have...but that was more than a life time ago. And his wife was a distant memory as well.

He wondered what Louis saw in him. Louis who was young, beautiful in all the ways a man should be. American. So different. So out of sync with him. But Louis was willing to change, even though Sammo loved him the way he was. Every day he learned more about Sammo's life, his customs, his language, and he would eat almost anything that Sammo cooked.

It had been a long time since anyone had looked at Sammo with adoration, with that kind of love. And Louis already had his number as the American saying went. One flash of what his students called 'puppy eyes' and Sammo found himself agreeing to whatever Louis wanted.

So they were driving up to Sunnydale because Louis was curious, and there was no way Sammo was going to let the man he loved explore the Hellmouth on his own. He'd only just found the young man. He wanted to hold onto him for as long as he could. Life was too short to ignore what was right in front of him.

“You're being really quiet.”

Sammo glanced at his lover. “I thought you were asleep.”

“Nope...you okay Sammo?”

“I do not think this is a good idea. We should at least call first.”

Louis gave him a smile that made Sammo's heart skip a beat. “Relax Sammo. It'll be great. We'll stay away from the danger zones, hang with the kids, take in small town life, and then head back to LA.”

“It is the Hellmouth. It is one big danger zone.”

“We'll be okay...think there’s a decent hotel there?”

“Someone's home would be safer.”

“Xander?”

“Xander.”

xxx

They were nearly ready for school when Cordelia sort of paused and asked; “Where exactly is your mom?”

“I think she's pretty much moved in with her boyfriend.”

“Wow.”

“Just makes it easier to hide things. So, breakfast here or on the way to school?”

“Here is fine.” She smiled at him and they headed downstairs with their bags. The sound of a knock on the front door made them freeze.

His eyes met hers. “I'm not expecting anyone.”

“Don't look at me.”

Marshal ran to the foot of the stairs and looked up at them. Sammo and Louis are here. Diana, Cordelia's spirit beast, was perched on his head; it seemed to be one of her favorite spots.

They shared another look and finished walking downstairs. Xander reached the door first and opened it. There stood Louis and Sammo, each with a suitcase.

Cordelia raised a brow at them. “So are you moving?”

Louis grinned. “No. Took a couple of days vacation. Wanted to see the Hellmouth.”

Xander just sort of stared at the detectives. “Crazy much?”

Sammo sighed heavily. “I could not talk him out of it.”

Xander winced in sympathy and nodded sagely at the older man. “I know how that can be.” He grunted when Cordelia elbowed him. “Ow.”

“Can we come in?” Louis asked.

Xander and Cordelia moved as one, standing aside and leaving them room to enter. Louis gave them a confused look, but Sammo nodded in understanding and stepped over the threshold. Louis followed. Xander closed the door behind them. “Sorry, but it’s a rule of the Dale. You never invite someone in verbally; they could get vamped at any time. And all a vampire needs to get in your house is a spoken invitation.”

Louis swallowed. “Got it.”

“Cordy, show them to the guest room? I'll call Buffy and get started on breakfast.”

“Sure, come on guys.” She led them upstairs and Xander headed toward the kitchen phone.

He dialed Buffy's number before peeking in the fridge; she picked up on the first ring. “Hey Buff. We have company and I have just the thing to get your mind off those Homecoming blues.”

xxx

Buffy stared at him. “So you just left them at your house?”

“Well ya know they're not like Kagome, they can't blend in with the high school crowd.”

“Don't worry, we have it covered.” Cordelia grinned. “Marshal can play tour guide, and that way Diana can get out in the sun without the neighborhood cats trying to eat her.”

“Who's Diana?” Willow asked.

“Finally named my spirit beast.”

“It’s a pretty name...are the three of you sure about Homecoming?”

Buffy nodded. “Yeah.”

“Besides, there's always Prom.” Cordelia looked at him pointedly. “We are going to Prom aren't we?”

He gulped and nodded, figuring it was safer. “Prom is a go. Now, let’s get those yearbook photos taken.”

xxx

“Xander.”

He paused and took a few steps back until he was even with Amy. “What's up?”

She wouldn't meet his eyes. “Back before, before Raizen fixed me...I was spiraling.”

Xander focused on her further, taking in her body language, her scent...whatever she was about to tell him was something she wasn't proud of. “Amy? Come on Ames, you can tell me. I won't judge.”

Amy swallowed. “There's this guy named Rack he's got a space in the bad part of town...he deals in black magic.”

“Is he giving you trouble?”

She nodded. “It's my own fault. He had a taste of my power, and knew my mom's really well. He's calling me back to him...and I'm not sure I can resist.”

A chill settled in his stomach. “What are you trying to say Amy?”

“Rack deals black magic like a drug. I was starting to get addicted. I'm clean now, thanks to Raizen...and Rack doesn't have his claws in me now...but...”

His heart pounded in alarm as he realized Amy was fighting that addiction...unlike their father who just let the alcohol take him, just knowing she was fighting it made him proud of her. “You can feel the pull.”

She nodded and her eyes met his. “I don't know what to do.”

Xander pulled her into his arms and hugged her. “I'll take care of it. You just tell me where to find him.”

“He's human Xander...or at least I think he is. Killing humans is bad.”

He ruffled her hair and held her tight. “Don't worry about it. I doubt he'll die. Besides, I wasn't going to handle this one alone.”

xxx

“I just don't understand why you won't give me a chance.”

Buffy hid her grimace. She had been avoiding Scott for ages now...but he'd finally managed to corner her. Darn. “Scott, listen, I'm sure you're a great guy. I'm just not ready for a relationship...with anyone. You know, I had a really bad break up and my ex is still sort of hanging around.”

“Can't we at least get to know one another better?”

“I'm sorry...I'm just not...interested.”

“Is it because of what I had with Faith?”

And suddenly Xander was there, crowding into Scott's personal space and slipping an arm around his waist. “Or maybe, it’s because you've been telling people she's gay because she keeps rejecting you.” He tugged Scott closer to him and Scott blushed. “But I'm thinking you might be the one having an identity crisis.” He cupped Scott's cheek and looked closely at his face. “Keep it up and it'll count as stalking. Now be a good boy and leave.”

He released Scott and they watched as the guy tripped over his own feet in a daze as he walked away. Xander's expression was...amused. He glanced at her. “What do you think? Maybe he'll leave you alone now.”

“After that he might just start panting after you instead of me. How'd you know he was spreading rumors anyway?”

“Tor and Heidi. They always hear the gossip first...even before Cordy.” He tilted his head a bit and frowned. “You okay?”

She shook her head and barely suppressed a shiver. “Xander, I think I'm being watched.”

He gave her a slow blink with a raised brow. “Well, that's not surprising...you're a pretty girl after all.”

She smacked his chest, “ow.” “Not in an admiring way...more like a predator way.”

“Well you're a pretty slayer, unless you mean in a sexual predator kind of way...are any other high school boys stalking you?”

Buffy glared at him, hands on her hips. “You have an answer for everything today don't you?”

Xander gave her an unrepentant grin. “I try.”

Jonathan appeared a ways ahead of them in the open corridor; he waved when he saw them before heading toward them. As he reached them he gave a small, nervous smile. “Hey guys.”

Xander grinned. “Jono! What's up?”

“Can I talk to you?”

“Sure, what's on your mind?”

Jonathan gave Buffy a shy glance. “Just you Xander, it’s kind of...guy stuff.”

Buffy shrugged and smiled. “Then that's my cue. I was going to meet Faith in the library anyway. Later.”

Xander waved her off and focused on Jonathan. “What's up?”

“I'm dating.”

“Okay. Congratulations.”

“Like serious dating...and he's...and please don't think I'm crazy...not human...and it’s getting serious.”

“You said that part already, but I get it.” Xander nodded. “Rinku is courting you huh.”

Jonathan blinked and nearly glared at him. “How did you know? I haven't even told anyone...except my mom and she totally adores him.”

“Saw him meet you for lunch a while back.”

Jonathan nodded and blushed. “Oh...so uh...do demons mate for life?”

“Some do...If it helps Rinku is our age and has never courted anyone before.”

“It does...but what if he wants me to go with him to the Makai after Graduation?”

“What were your plans for next year? College? Work force?”

“I didn't really have any.”

“Then you could give it a chance.” Xander shrugged. “I've been told that the air there can really mess with humans...but then again we are Hellmouth born. You might take a trip there and see how you do.”

“But it’s a demon realm.”

“And some of the cities there have wicked technology straight out of a comic book.”

“Whoa.”

Xander grinned. “Talk to Rinku about it and congrats. Also, if you'd rather live on a Hellmouth, but want a change of scenery, there's a Hellmouth in Cleveland.”

“Hellmouth? Rinku mentioned it...is that really what makes everything so weird?”

“Yep.”

Jonathan grinned back. “Thanks...so you're really a prince?”

“Technically...and you know...Amy Madison is my half sister and that makes her a princess. Crazy huh.”

“Whoa. So uh...any advice? Since you're like a demon prince.”

“Hey, I'm mostly human. But, if you're not comfortable with Rinku you tell him to slow down.”

“No, I'm totally comfortable with him.”

“Okay...tell you what, why don't you take him to Homecoming. You haven't done that yet right? Gone out in a group?”

“No. We've always gone on our dates alone.”

“Well Kyle and Rinku know each other, Larry is in the know, so you guys and Willow and Oz can all go to Homecoming together.”

“You're not going?”

“Cordy and I are gonna stay home.”

Jonathan stared at him in disbelief. “Cordelia Chase isn't going to Homecoming?”

“Crazy huh?”

“Did we fall into an alternate reality while I was talking?”

Xander laughed and slung his arm around the smaller boy. “Not today, Jono. Come on; let’s go find Kyle and Larry.”

xxx

Cordelia peeked into Jenny's classroom, and found exactly who she was looking for, finally. “Hey, Giles, Jenny. I looked in the library for you first. Imagine my shock when you weren't in there.” She grinned when Giles jumped a bit. “I need the two of you to go on a double date with a couple of cops from LA.”

Giles looked at her like she was nuts as he waited for Jenny to gather up her things. “Why on earth would Jenny and I go on a double date with two policemen from LA?”

She smiled brightly at him. “Because you're in their age bracket, and when I say that I mean Sammo is your age and Louis is Jenny's age, also most of us are patrolling tonight while some of us are getting ready for Homecoming.”

Jenny smiled. “Are you excited about Homecoming?”

“Not really, but then Xander and I aren't going, we got a call from Spike so we're waiting for him to mosey into town. Anyway, our spirit beasts are babysitting the guys today.”

Giles sighed. “And you're volunteering us for the night shift.”

“Bingo. Besides, if a vamp shows up the guys could probably handle it. They're both really good fighters who tend to Kung Fu their opponents into unconsciousness before ever reaching for a gun.” She brightened her smile a touch more and added the icing to the cake. “And Sammo dives a Caddy, a classic convertible, powder blue.”

Jenny grinned at her, her eyes twinkling...probably because any car was better than Giles' midget freak show, Sammo's car being a classic was just window dressing. “I'm in.”

Giles however gave his lover a look that was almost a pout. “But I have research.”

Jenny gave his cheek a consoling pat. “There's nothing world ending going on right now. We should have some fun. With people closer to our own age...and not high school kids. No offense Cordelia.”

“None taken, trust me, the last thing any of us want to do is go on a double date with old people.”

“You do realize Spike is older than me.”

“That's different. He's ours.”

“Rupert, please stop arguing with Cordelia's logic. You know you won't win.”

Giles caved, almost instantly at the look Jenny gave him. “Alright. You win Cordelia. We'll go out...as long as it’s not Monster Trucks.”

xxx

Patrol had been quiet, normal even...right up until a black limo turned onto the street they were walking on. Goody.

Xander pulled Cordelia aside as the limo approached them, as it could be the Mayor, or a new bad in town. He relaxed just a bit when the Mayor stepped out. Better the evil you're just getting to know than a completely new and unknown threat.

“Mr. Mayor.”

“Xander. I thought you should know there are some unsavory characters in town.”

“We had suspected that.” He nodded in appreciation; it was a lie but it seemed better than letting the man know he'd been caught off guard. “Thank you for confirming it. I'm guessing they're up to something heinous? Something that you actually disapprove of?”

The Mayor's smile reminded him of...well to sound cliché, like a used car salesman. “Indeed they are. They're planning a little game with your slayers.”

Cordelia gave the Mayor a puzzled look. “What kind of game?”

“I believe they're calling it Slayer Fest ‘98.”

Xander groaned. “Some kind of hunting game? Really?”

Mayor Wilkins stepped forward and handed Xander a folder. “I'll admit it lacks a certain class.” He chuckled. “This is all the Intel I have on them.”

Xander accepted the folder, Cordelia however had another question. “Why?”

“Well you kids do such a good job of cleaning up our town and showing the riff raff the door. It’s good to see today's youth giving back to the community.”

“In other words we're keeping any and all competition you have out of the way...But Mr. Mayor, whatever it is you're planning we will stop you.”

Wilkins just smiled, got back into his limo, and rode away into the night.

Cordelia gripped his arm. “Now what?”

“We go through the packet. Take out the trash.”

xxx

Sammo and Louis were cuddled on the couch in front of the TV when they got home. Louis looked up. “You two are late.”

Xander gave a half sort of wave as he shrugged. “Patrol. How was the double date?”

“It was fun, but I think next time Sammo would rather go see Monster Trucks.”

“What is wrong with that? I have never seen Monster Trucks before.”

Louis gave his leg a pat and grinned at them. “So, you patrol every night?”

Cordelia made herself comfortable in an armchair. “Less people die that way.” Xander sat on the floor at her feet, leaned against her legs, and opened the folder.

Sammo frowned at them. “Did anything happen?”

He nodded. “Some unknowns are in town, they want to do a little slayer hunting. We may have to remove them from town before they make their move.”

“You need some help?”

Louis nodded. “We worked a case where some guys were bringing in large game for hunts here in California. Sammo ended up getting hunted.”

Cordelia looked at him. “What do you think?”

“That actually sounds like a good idea. I have their stats here.”

Sammo shifted and held his hand out. “Then let’s get to work.”


Much later after Cordelia was asleep Xander slipped downstairs with his communicator and called Yusuke.

“Xander? What's up?”

“You want a chance to play the protective big brother and beat up a bully?”

“Who's giving you trouble?”

“Not me...Amy. Seems she was fighting a black magic addiction before she worked the gypsy curse for us. Her drug dealer has been putting out feelers, trying to reel her back in...and she's not the only magic user in our group.

“Tor and Willow.”

“Yeah.”

“I'd planned to visit anyway. I'll take care of it.”

“Thanks. Later.”

“See you soon Xander.”

Xander closed the communicator and slumped against the wall at the bottom of the stairs, sliding down. He'd called Yusuke because he wasn't sure he could handle a drug dealer...that was unknown territory. Vampires? No problem. An Apocalypse? Give him a few hours to scramble a plan together. But drugs? Addictions scared the crap out of him, and he didn't want Amy to turn into Tony. Hell, he didn't want to turn into Tony.

Was it wrong to cry for big brother in this case?

xxx

“So what's the deal?” Buffy asked at their latest meeting the next morning, noticing most of the pack was present.

Xander placed a folder on the table. “Mr. Mayor is content to let us be for now and continue cleaning up town like we have been. But it looks like you were right about being watched. We have some work to do.”

Heidi leaned forward eagerly. “We get to hunt?”

“Yep. Wills, I need you to find where these guys have been staying.” He pushed the folder toward her. “Some of them are pretty tech savvy.” Willow accepted the folder and headed directly for the computer. “Now, Sammo and Louis offered to help. So we'll need to keep this as clean as possible.”

Heidi pouted. “Damn.”

Cordelia ruffled her hair. “You can still kill the vamps and the demon.”

“Oh. Good.”

xxx

The Germans' dependence on their technology was their downfall and pretty much everyone else's as they were all in the same place. Willow was able to track their movements and Xander broke a window and tossed in a couple of tear gas canisters.

The group of hunters barged out coughing and choking, the Germans were taken down easily by Sammo and Louis. Their wheelchair-bound boss received a conk over the head from Cordelia. Willow stayed out of the fray itself but took out the fur covered guy with a tranq dart. Buffy and Heidi staked the vamps...and Xander decapitated the demon.

They all looked at one another and Heidi pouted, hands on her hips. “That's it? I thought these were pros. Baby vamps are more challenging than this.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Let’s just get Daniel Boone here loaded into Oz's van. We'll put the Hellmouth Scare in him before we kick him out.”

“And these three?” Sammo asked, as he gestured to the two hit men and their boss.

Xander gave a shrug. “They have records all over. I'm sure your boss won't ask too many questions if you bring them in.”

Louis gave him an amused look. “Police work isn't quite that easy.”

Cordelia waved him off. “Duh, that's why we're vigilantes. Less legal clean up.”

An idea chose that moment to ping in Xander's brain. “The Mayor won't ask any questions if you drop them off at City Hall...actually...Cordy hand me your phone.” She pulled it out of her little purse of awesome and handed it to him. He dialed the most recent number he'd memorized.

“Hello? This is Allan Finch, Deputy Mayor.”

“Hello Mr. Finch. This Xander Harris. Mayor Wilkins and I had a meeting about the new characters in town. I just wanted him to know that they've been taken care of. However, some of them have outstanding warrants and should be dealt with in a more legal capacity.

There was an awkward moment before, a very nervous Finch answered. “Of course, if you would just give me your location I'll send the police to take care of it.”

Xander rattled off the address and gave everyone thumbs up. “Thank you Mr. Finch, have a nice night.”

“Um yes, thank you so much Mr. Harris.”

Xander hung up. “So we're letting the local police deal with the crazy people who have the law after them.”

“Xander...”

“What is it Heidi?” He blinked at her and the wad of cash she was holding up. “Where did that come from?”

Louis frowned at the bloodstained money. “That's probably what one these guys paid to play the game.”

Heidi grinned. “There's more inside...lots more. I think this was just part of one payment because there is more bloodstained cash in there.”

Xander bit his lip in thought before finally nodding. “Everyone do a quick sweep, if there's any more money I want it found.”

“The money is not yours Xander.” Sammo told him. “But I understand it would be awkward to hand it over to the police.”

He looked at Sammo and Louis closely; Heidi had already gone back inside. “We end up hurt more often than we like or let on. That means hospital bills and medical supplies...not to mention the clothes we lose when we get covered in demon ick.”

Buffy shuddered. “Like that time I got covered in pink slime. So...this is going to go toward a pack fund?”

He nodded. “Seems like a good cause to me.”

“I don't like it.” Louis muttered. “But I can understand why you would need it. We'll just tie up these guys while you do that.”

“Thanks Louis.”

xxx

Homecoming was Sammo and Louis' last night in Sunnydale and Xander and Cordelia had decided to stay in and watch a movie with them, having already made a sweep of a good portion of town. Heidi, Tor and Rhonda were in full patrol mode while everyone else was at the dance, with plans for their own quick sweep later.

They had only just started the movie when there was a knock on the door. Xander did a cursory feel with his senses and grinned before he opened the door. Botan floated through the open doorway on her oar, Amy following after on foot.

Amy's smile was the brightest he'd ever seen it. “Guess who we brought to meet you?”

“Who?”

Yusuke and Keiko stepped over the threshold, and in Keiko's arms was a tiny baby dressed in pink. Yusuke smirked. “Xander, this is your niece. Urameshi Kazumi.”

Xander stared for a moment. He was an uncle. It really hit him for the first time...it was a real thing. He reached out just barely touching the rosy, pudgy cheek, and Kazumi opened her eyes. And for a second he could feel Raizen's presence, could feel the old man looking through his eyes at his newest descendant. He could feel the pride and the love Raizen had for them all, a father's love. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

xxx

“So what did you think?”

Rinku tightened his hand around Jonathan's knowing that how he answered was very important. “It was fun...sorry if I embarrassed you though.”

“You didn't...why would I be embarrassed?” Jonathan stopped to look up at him. “There's nothing embarrassing about you.”

“I didn't dance very well.”

“You caught on.”

“My clothes weren't like Kyle's or Larry's...”

“Oz was dressed more casual too.”

“He was in the band.”

Jonathan rolled his eyes before he reached up and around Rinku's neck and pulled him down for a kiss. The move surprised Rinku and he stumbled a bit as he fell forward and into the kiss. He wrapped his arms around Jonathan to steady himself and pulled his boyfriend closer.

The kiss was brief, just a touch of tongue and then Jonathan pulled back a bit to look into Rinku's eyes. “It was perfect. Stop apologizing.”

Rinku snorted and leaned in to kiss him again. “Still...I'll do better at Prom.”

xxx

Xander was alone in the living room when Yusuke slipped back inside, pausing in surprise when he saw his little brother waiting up for him. “Xander? It’s late.”

“Were you taking care of Amy's problem?”

Yusuke nodded. “Botan and I dealt with Rack. She stripped his power from him and I made my own impression. If he ever remembers his own name he won't want to come back to Sunnydale...not that he can make it back.

“I don't want to know.”

“No, you really don't.” Yusuke sighed. “Listen, I'm glad you came to me for this...but I don't want any more surprises like what happened with Acathla. We live in this world too and I'd like to have a heads up if the world is gonna end.”

Xander nodded; a sick feeling settling in his stomach. “I didn't think of that.”

Yusuke sat in front of him on the coffee table. “I know, you were still recovering, you'd just lost a friend, and Giles was kidnapped and being tortured. You were in the middle of a crisis and didn't have time to think. But that's why I wanted to talk.”

“Okay?”

“I spoke to Mukuro, and some of the others, the more powerful demons in the Makai. They've started construction on some cities...towns really with barriers. Barriers that will let humans living in them slowly get used to the atmosphere of the Makai.”

“Refugee towns.”

“Yeah. Hiei planted the idea in Mukuro's head first and by the time your little crisis happened she already had one town almost done. She's recruiting help from all over, so next time, at least give me a call so I can get Keiko and Kazumi out, and my mom, Keiko's parents...okay?”

Xander nodded. “Tor said his and Botan's parents live in a pocket dimension...he has access to it here in the Dale...so that may be where we go if we can't save the world...it all depends on if Merlin and Nimue mind putting us up for a while.”

Yusuke ruffled his hair. “Don't try to take on so much. You have a lot of people to shoulder the burden.”

“Yeah...I guess.”

xxx

Cordelia was awake and on her cell phone when he finally made it up to his room. “What's up?” He asked as he sat by her on the bed.

She held her hand up for a moment as she spoke to whoever was on the other end. “No its fine. Thanks for not slaying them...we can give you a list of the friendlies later. Night Faith.”

She hung up and Xander quirked a brow. “Faith?”

“She was patrolling and ran into Rinku and Jonathan. She recognized Jono from school and just had some questions, especially since she attacked them and Rinku was stronger than her. But they called a truce...and ended up hanging out.

“Huh. Ya know it might be good for her to have friends outside out little group.”

“Especially since you have her set up in that cute little house all to herself. She can have friends over...should we have her over here? For a movie night or something?”

“It’s something to think about.”

XXX
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