Dealing With New Issues.

Xander mentally crossed his fingers as he pulled the first candle out of the mold, cheering when it came out fine. He put it aside, pulling the rest of the molds, not looking up when Giles walked out to sit beside him on the porch.

"Those look normal," Giles said, picking up one to look at it. "Are these more magic-quality ones?"

Xander shook his head. "Normal ones. The materials for the working ones are more expensive so I was waiting on doing any more of those." He carefully put the candles into their box, sealing it tightly. "There, all done. Oh, and the nice lady at the magic shop wants some more of the working quality ones. I'll have to work on those tonight." He puckered up and lifted his head, getting the kiss he was silently asking for. "Thanks, Rupe."

"You're welcome," Giles said, patting him on the head. "I have a phone call with my new boss in an hour. May I steal one of your scented candles? I would like to relax before then."

"Take one of the ones in the back, they've been there longer." Xander patted his knee. "Don't worry, I'm sure it's not a bad."

"Oh, it is. The person supervising me edited my information and someone died from it. I'm going to send them the information I sent him to show that it wasn't my fault first, then defend myself." He stood up. "I'll see you inside. Just leave the library to me for a bit please."

"Sure." Xander waited until he was alone to pull the last, special, candle out of it's mold, dropping it into a cloth bag. "Yeah, that'll go nicely," he told himself, gathering his things together so he could clean his molds and get things ready for the next batch.


Xander put down the magic book, finished with his notes for now. He reached over to slide it back into place, then stood up and stretched.

"What, exactly, are you doing with the magic books?" Oz asked, looking up from his book.

Xander jumped. "When did you get in here?"

"While you were busy making notes. Do I need to repeat the question?"

"Certain spells take special candles. If I know what sort of candle is needed, then I can have one made in advance for most of them. Except the ones with blood in them. Not going there."

"Okay." Oz put down his book, patting his lap, which was instantly filled with babbling toddler. "Hello, Blair, I wanted your daddy to cuddle me."

"It's okay," Xander said, sitting down next to Oz's leg, putting his head on the firm thigh. "How's the cage coming?"

"Plans are done. Don't change the subject."

"Sorry." Xander looked up at his lover, then blinked. "If I can have some of the more special candles made up then I can do better business, right? People will think that I'm thinking about what they do and that it'll be fine."

"Probably," Oz said reluctantly, "or they could think that you're trying to throw them off or thinking too much about what they do."

"Yeah, but I'm doing it in a way that won't show that I have it on hand, maybe give it a day unless it's an emergency."

"Oh." Oz thought for a second then nodded. "Which would cover a lot of the problems with having them on hand, but would still be good for business. I like that idea." He patted the baby's back when he tried to chew on his throat. "Don't do that, Blair."


"Stop it," Xander warned, tapping the back of his hand. "Don't say that word." Blair started to sniffle. "No, don't do that either. We love you," he pulled the baby down into his lap, "we love you and you're very special, but you cannot say that word. That's a bad word." His son just stared into his eyes. "No say Hell," he tried.

"Hell!" the baby repeated.

"No," Oz said firmly, glaring at him.

Blair burst out crying, clutching Xander to hug.

"Okay, I give up," Oz sighed, shaking his head. "I'm gonna let Giles deal with that."

"Yup, me too." Xander looked up as Sileya walked in, shrugging when the baby went to her immediately and quit crying. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." She sat in the chair Xander had been sitting in, patting the baby's back. "Is there something I can do to help? I'd like to put off writing my paper for another day."

"We were going to put the primer coat on the basement," Xander offered.

"You were," Oz corrected. "I have to start laying blocks for the cage."

"I thought you were going to dig the foundation down."

"Did that this morning." He patted the top of Xander's head. "You could come help. Or you could bring the kids outside."

"I'd like that," she said, looking down at Blair. "Would you like to go outside and watch your father sweat?" Blair babbled at her. "My, what language," she sighed, shaking her head. "We'll just have to break that nasty old Spike of that habit, shall we?" She stood up, heading out of the library. "We'll meet you outside. I'm going to get Elizabeth."

"Cool," Oz said, giving Xander a small smile. "I'm really starting to like her."

"Yeah, me too," Xander said, putting his head back down on the firm thigh. "Can I do this?"

"For a few more minutes, then I have to go lay blocks." Oz let his hand fall into the dark hair, gently stroking through it.


Giles looked at the foundation of their new cage, shaking his head. "It's a little small, Oz," he said gently, giving his shoulder a squeeze. "It doesn't look big enough for even one of us."

"This is just one side. The other's raised a little so we have a small hill." He pointed to the other spot he had been laying blocks on. "The other end's there."

"Oh, I see," Giles said, walking over that way. "Well, this will certainly be big enough for us." He turned with a smile for his mate. "I think this will do quite nicely."

"If we could get the blocks laid and set in the next week, we could stay in here this month, even though it's going to be a bare room."

"As has been our cages," Giles reminded him. "Can I help?"

"Only if you can mix more mortar. Xander was doing it but he got a call from Blair and had to help him with something."

"The inquest about the serial killer exploding into flames?"

"Nope, something psych related." Oz shrugged. "That's all he said." He picked up the bag of mortar and handed it over. "Directions are on Xander's card on the porch."

"All right. Let me change first and I'll come help you. Where're the children?"

"Willow." Oz picked up the next block, starting on the wall to join the two sides. "I'll need that by the time I finish this length."

"I'm sure that'll be fine." Giles headed into the house, leaving the mortar on the porch, so he could change into something he could get dirty in.

Oz fell onto his rear, looking at the waist-high walls. "We did good," he said, nodding at Giles to sit beside him.

"Very good. How are we doing the roof?"

"Not sure yet. I was thinking a tin roof or something like that. We'll be able to attach it to the bars running through the blocks."

"It will be a great and strong structure, Oz," Giles said, giving his cheek a kiss, after wiping it off. "We'll be fine. No more getting out."

"And no more hunters getting in," Oz said softly. "Not unless they come with lots of lock picking equipment."

"I'm sure they'll not come for us again. After all, how many times is average?"

"But one time's too many," Oz reminded him, turning to look at him. "I did my will the other day."

"I had noticed your somber mood and wondered about it," Giles admitted. "Do you think it's necessary?" Oz nodded. "Do you think that now it's done that something will happen?"

Oz shrugged. "I don't know. I don't think so."

"Then why worry about what might be?" Giles asked, pulling him into his arms. "There's no need to worry about anything, Oz. The hunters won't come for us again and even if they do, we'll be very well protected. It'll take a small army to get through this building once it's finished."

"Or a grenade launcher," Xander said as he hopped down the porch steps. "Of course, Giles is going to reinforce the walls with magic so it still might take something more. And I doubt that I'm gonna let some skanky hunter come near you again." He stole a kiss from Oz before sitting down. "We need to have a talk with Willow."

"Why?" Giles asked.

"The psych thing?" Oz asked.

"Yup. Got it in one. But I can't tell you more. Blair says she'll know why but I have to go talk to her and I think that Giles should back me up on this. He has the higher reasoning I don't and the power to enforce it with her."

Giles groaned. "I think I know what this is about." Xander leaned closer so he whispered in his ear, getting a nod. "Is he fine?"

"Mostly. Blair's gonna help him become who he was again. Oh, and he said that if we ever needed anyone to deconstruct anyone mentally again, we should ask her. He's seen kidnapping cases and abuse cases that weren't that changed."

"Did you fax over the Chronicle?" Giles asked.

"I scanned it in and sent it by email." Xander leaned over, giving Oz another kiss. "If you can watch the twins, then we can go do what we have to at Willow's. Sileya only took the time to drop them off before she ran out the door for the barn."

"Sure. We're done for the day anyway." He looked around, staring at the paddock. "Where's Sileya and Miri?"

"In the woods, she told me where they were going while you were in the bathroom." Giles pushed Oz to his feet, then stood up himself, following Xander to the cars. "Spike's really that bad off?"

"She's totally changed him. Blair said he was the last resort Spike was going to take." He slid in behind the wheel, holding a hand out for the keys. "Blair said he's going to have to rebuild him from the bottom up. First his freedom was taken, then he was chipped, which screwed with him, and then Willow started to screw with him. He might have stayed normal if Willow hadn't turned him into a lapdog, but now he's so far from himself that he can't even build up the will to hunt."

Giles pulled the keys out of his pocket and handed them over. "I'll talk with her while you pack for him?"

"Sounds good to me. Spike told me where his stuff was. And a few things that he wanted me to take of her's too. Including the spellbook that she was working his lapdog spell from."

"Which I'll reverse," Giles said firmly. He buckled himself up, watching the road go by as they started for town. "Xander, I think we should talk about you getting into my magic tomes."

"I've been looking up the candles that certain spells use. I remember that you used to have to hunt for certain ones."

"True, but magic is a dangerous practice. I really don't think that you have the passion for it that people like Willow do."

"Hey, I don't want to use it. Knowing a few things to protect myself is a good, but otherwise I'm not into the learning of the craft."

"Ah. I see." Giles smiled at his lover. "You've been studying wards?"

"Some. I know about three spells, all of them minor things. And I did learn a few wards too. Things like not letting things back in the house sort of things."

"Ah. Very good." He patted Xander's arm. "I was concerned that you were going to try and teach yourself."

"Not at all," Xander said quickly. "I'm not interested in that area. I have all I really need, and enough understanding to know when I need something more powerful that I could never do."

"Good." Giles smiled, stroking down Xander's thigh. "How are things otherwise with your business?"

"Good. I'm giving the magic shop some candles tomorrow. I called and told her I could give her the extra twenty she wanted if she could give me an extra day. She happily agreed." Xander turned onto Sunnydale's main street. "Her apartment?"

"Yes, she should be home by now. If not, Tara will be."

"What do you know about her?"

"Not a lot. We've had a few discussions over the last few months. Willow let me tell her about the Hellmouth once she was sure they were going to stay together for a bit." He shifted. "I can't say as I'm comfortable at the moment with her, but she seems very nice."

"Yeah, she does. Very quiet and gentle, but nice."

"Which would give Willow another chance to dominate," Giles said, starting to frown. "I'll talk with her also. Maybe include her in the discussion with Willow."

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking about. Willow needs someone to mother, but I'm not sure if her girlfriend can handle that sort of thing or not."

"You never know, Tara may be the dominant one in their family," Giles pointed out, laughing when Xander stuck his tongue out. "It's very possible. Some of the best dominants are ones that you never realize have power over you."

"Which is how Spike got into this mess?"

"Not really. He realized that she had power, but I doubt he saw how much she had over him. He underestimated her basically, and now he's got a long road of recovery before him."

"Blair said he was going to have to teach Spike how to hunt again. That he's lost all abilities in that area. And the desires that went with it."

"Which is a lovely thought," Giles said dryly, shaking his head. "I'm not sure I want Spike to go back to being the bloodthirsty creature he was."

"Blair said he has some moral qualms about releasing a killer back into society but he said he was going to tread a very fine line. He wasn't going to hurt Spike any more than what he already was, but he was going to try and encourage him to not hunt very often."

"Which is reasonable. I'll call Blair tonight and give him some information that he might need."

"Cool. I have his email addy so you can send it to him too."

"Which might be a better idea," Giles added, smiling at his mate for the subtle attempt to make him use the computer more often - something Xander and Oz were always happy to push for. "You worry too much about the Council, love. They won't get onto me because of Spike's recovery."

"They might if they find out that you gave Blair the information." Xander pulled up in front of Willow's apartment. "She's here," he said, pointing at a car two spaces away. "Ready?"

"Not really, but we'd best do this now." He unhitched himself and slid out, leading the way up the stairs. He let Xander knock but he accepted the fact that he was going to have to lead during this engagement. "Tara," he said warmly as she opened the door. "We need to speak with you and Willow. Is now a convenient time?"

"Sure," she said, waving them in. She watched as Xander headed for the bedroom, giving Giles a confused look.

"This is about Spike, Tara, he's been having problems and he's leaving. Could you get Willow? I need to have a long discussion with her about her dominance issues."

Tara blanched and jogged for the extra bedroom that they used to meditate and cast in, dragging her out. "Here," she said, sitting them both down. "What's wrong with Spike?"

"He's no longer himself. Actually, he's changed so much that he can no longer find himself." Giles sat opposite them. "Girls, you destroyed him. He was ready to walk outside this morning before he left."

Willow sniffled. "I thought I was doing good." She gave him the big eyed look.

Giles, no longer doubting how his twins knew how to pout and beg so well, shook his head. "Don't do that, dear. You were too harsh on him. You turned him into someone he's not and he's badly damaged mentally."

"He's with Angel?" Tara asked.

"I'm not sure. We've been asked to clear out his things for him and for me to take the spells off that you cast on him. I figure you're never going to see him again, but he will be closer to the Spike that you used to know by the time he's healed."

"We can take off the spells," Tara offered.

"He wanted it to be Giles," Xander said as he walked out, handing over the full bag. "Wills, I talked to him on the phone. He sounded worse than Angel on a broodfest. You *wrecked* him psychologically. The person he's with said he was worse than long-term abuse cases and kidnapping victims that like their captors. Way worse actually." He sat on the arm of Giles' chair. "He's really not even Spike anymore."

She nodded, starting to cry now. "I didn't think I could hurt him. I never meant to make him wear the apron." She hid her face in her girlfriend's shoulder, crying harder by the second.

Giles shook his head. "Vampires still have human minds and emotions. You played a bit strongly with his." He looked at Tara, considering her, but she shook her head. "As long as you're sure that it isn't going to happen again, we can leave it at this. I'll return your spellbook tomorrow when I go shopping, but you may not have another victim that way."

"Yeah, we'd hate to have to get Jim up here to talk to you," Xander quipped.

Willow glared at him. "It's not like I meant to destroy him. I only wanted him to be a little nicer."

"Hello? Demons and vampires? Nice?" Willow's glare got hotter. "Wills, he's not a puppy anymore."

"I know." She stood up, storming into the bedroom and slamming the door.

Tara stood up. "We're really sorry. Tell him that, okay?"

Giles stood and brought Xander up with him. "Of course we will. Just be careful of how you work your will on any others that you might want to take in, all right?"

She nodded and walked them out, heading into the bedroom, shaking her head at Willow. "We need to be more careful. Those spells are going to catch attention now."

"But we have Buffy's approval. Spike was just a test." Willow held up her arms. "Did I act okay?"

"Perfect," Tara said, lying down on top of her girlfriend and giving her a kiss. "Pretty soon, we'll have a spell that we can throw out offensively that will neuter any vampire emotionally."

"Yeah, it'll be a great help to the Slayers."


Giles said the last word of the spell, and Xander pulled the phone away from his ear, nodding. "It worked," Xander said, handing the phone over.

"Spike?" He smiled. "Just don't eat Blair, Spike. I'm sure you wouldn't want to be hunted down by Xander or by Blair's mates." He chuckled. "Really?" His smile fell away. "Truly?" He shook his head. "Then I'll put a stop to it. Thank you. Yes, just behave yourself. No, you can't eat the person stalking Samantha. Unless she says it's all right that is." He laughed again and hung up, but turned a very serious face on his lovers. "Willow's spell on him is something that she's been working on for offensive means. Using it would destroy all the vampires caught in the radius, turning them into pathetic lumps of demonically possessed dead flesh."

Xander shuddered. "Not a good. Well, kinda a good, but not really."

"And not real fair either," Oz put in.

"It's something that I would rather not have at our disposal," Giles said firmly. "It's not very ethical, though I doubt that the Council would feel that way if they heard about it. They'd see it as a great tool I believe."

"S'not," Xander said, sitting beside Oz and putting his head on Oz's shoulder so he could snuggle. "It could majorly affect everything that goes on in town though."

"Turning them all into pathetic lumps, as Spike put it, would be of great service, until someone else came into town to take over because they'd heard of it," Giles reminded them. "There is always something worse that could come in and take over, boys, remember that."

Xander raised a hand. "If we have to call you by your first name, can we not be boys?"

Giles frowned at the sudden topic change, then slumped in on himself. "I'm sorry, b...Xander. I had no idea how insulting that could be."

"Wasn't, but it's not something I want to be. Besides, if you keep thinking of us as boys, then you'll start thinking about your age relative to ours again."

Oz nodded. "And it's creepy. Makes me feel like some teen that's being hit on by an older man again." He smiled at Giles, who simply shook his head and took the chair across from them. "We could call you a boy."

"I think not."

"Aw, come on, Rupe," Xander begged. "It'd make you feel younger."

"I'm afraid it would make me feel older. Especially if you did so, Xander. You're still much younger mentally and emotionally than you seem to be."

"Am not. Take that back."

"Shh, it's not a bad thing," Oz told him, pulling Xander's head around to nip at the pouting lips. "It's what keeps you innocent, the way we like you."

"Oh. Okay then. Do I have to grow up?"

"Never," Giles vowed. "We'll stop anything that will force that particular menace on you."

"Good." Xander grinned at them both before he stood up and jogged out. "Gonna get cocoa."

Giles and Oz looked at each other and shook their heads, laughing.


Sileya looked down at Homer, shaking her sweaty hair out of her face. "What should we do now?" she asked with a grin. She rolled off him, letting both of them cool off.

"I can't do it again," Homer sighed. "I may be young, but I'm not that young." He turned his head to look at her. "I like your definition of friendship."

She started to laugh, then bent over, clutching her stomach. He tried to help her but she pushed him away, glaring at him. "You're not human," she accused, straightening up.

Homer stood up, pulling the sheet to cover his nudity. "Does it really matter?"

She shrugged. "I'm not sure it should, but it just hit me that you weren't."

He sat down beside her, brushing her damp hair back from the side of her face. "I'm actually half- demon, like that guy Doyle that has Buffy's son." She nodded slowly. "Not the same species, he's a plant demon and my background's in water and electronics. My father was something like a demonic electric eel, if that makes sense."

She shuddered. "Can we leave out how you were conceived?" He smiled and nodded, chuckling lightly. "I'm sorry, Homer, it just came to me. It was a very heavy flash." She looked at the wall behind the bed. "And there's a demon over there."

"You're the new Slayer now," he told her gently. "We've got to get you home." She nodded, hopping up and grabbing her clothes, heading into the bathroom to clean up so she could dress. He lay there for a few seconds, silently cursing his luck. The first woman he had loved, and now she was probably going to demand he leave her alone.

"Come on," she said as she walked out of the bathroom, glaring at him. "We have to tell Rupert, and I doubt you want to meet him wearing nothing."

"I'm coming inside?" Homer asked.

"You'd better be," she warned. "If you try and leave me now, I'm not sure what sort of fit I could throw but I do know it will be horrid."

He smiled and stood, kissing her on his way past her to use the bathroom himself.


Giles looked up as the library door was opened, giving both teens a nod. "I've heard. How are you feeling?" He pointed at the chairs across from him. "Do sit. Oz is making us all a snack."

"I'm okay," Homer said, standing behind Sileya. "Is this..." He looked around.

"Buffy was often helped, and occasionally tormented, by Angel. Your input is still valued, Homer." He pointed at the chair again. "Sit, please."

Homer sat, giving Sileya a pat to the hand.

Giles put down his book, giving them a stern look. "I don't have to discuss safety with you two, do I?" They shook their heads, looking away from him. "Good." He clapped his hands as Oz walked in, taking the tray from him. "Thank you, love. Would you like to help me with this?"

"Nope, I got an offer of Xander cuddles in water." He nodded at Homer. "Just don't knock her up. Pregnant and Slaying are two things that don't work well together. And don't use the health department condoms, they break." He waved and walked out, leaving them alone.

"My, that was blunt," Giles muttered, handing over glasses and sandwiches. "Eat, you'll both need it. We need to make some plans about how you're going to start your reign."

"Isn't Buffy staying in town?"

"For now," Giles agreed, "but not even she can stay around forever." That got a nod so he took a bite. "He used Xander's chicken salad," he said with a grimace, putting it aside. "A bit on the strong side for me."

"S'great," Homer said, grabbing the sandwich to eat. "You didn't want that, right?" he asked, pausing before he added it to his plate. Giles waved it away. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." Giles turned his attention back to Sileya. "I know you've scheduled yourself a great deal of homework, but you'll have to start patrolling soon. Which means that you'll have to take driving classes."

"I'm scheduling my classes for next semester next week," she said. "I could add it. If you'd sign the permission slip that is."

Giles nodded. "I'll do that. It will be a bit tough driving you back and forth to town every night. Buffy had the advantage of all of us living in town at the time. I have no idea what we'll do with you and only two cars."

"I could get a car for my next birthday," Sileya suggested with a twinkle in her eyes. "My father would do that if I asked."

"Yes, he would. But you can't own a car yet in this state. Actually, I'm not sure that even if you got your license that you could drive at night. I'm not sure about this state's licencing policies about minors."

"I'm sure that's something we could look up," Homer suggested helpfully in between bites of sandwich. "Is she going out alone?"

"I don't think that it's a wise idea, at least for now. I, or the others, will go out with her for now, until we see that she can handle herself." Sileya nodded. "We'll start tomorrow night as there's no prophecy and no activity to speak of right now."

"Oh, my aunt is working on...." Homer stopped when he saw the frown. "What? Did you and Willow have a fight?"

"Not exactly, but I do know about the spells she's working on for offensive purposes. We had to take Spike away from her so he could heal from her attentions." He considered the young man, dredging up all he knew about him. "Does Willow know what you are?" he asked gently. Homer shook his head. "I think it's best that we not tell her yet. There's no telling what she may do with that knowledge."

Homer shook his head. "Willow's sweet."

"She may be, but I'm still not sure what she'll make of the knowledge. One of the recent spells she was working on was possibly harmful to demons also."

"Oh." Homer put the last few bites of sandwich aside, considering Giles. "What are you suggesting?"

"Nothing yet, but we don't know if she's considered demons, or half demons, in her new spell works." He looked Homer over. "If you feel something strange going on over there, I want you to call us immediately, and if you ever feel that you're not safe, you are more than allowed to come out here."

"I doubt she's gonna hurt me," Homer protested.

"Not intentionally," Sileya told him, putting a hand on his thigh, "but if she doesn't know what you are, then her spell could bounce off you too."

He nodded, relaxing. "Okay. If something like that happens, I'll call as soon as I can. Good enough?"

"That would be perfect," Giles said, giving him a slight smile. "I had no intention to worry you, just to make it known that we won't discriminate against you for your heritage."

"That's cool. More than I could say for the Principal." He cleared his throat. "That thing the other day, the fight in the halls? The one we weren't sure about?" Sileya nodded slowly. "It was a halfy, like me, coming out. He sneezed or something and his scales came out and his hat came off. He has these little nubs for horns." He looked down. "Had, from what I heard today. A few of the jocks went after him."

Giles sighed, closing his eyes. "This town can be like that. It seems that no one pays attention to what's going on around here, but when they do things like that happen." He looked at one of his books, one of the precious ones that had miraculously been saved from the fire at the old store. "There are some that do pay attention, they're generally glad to let someone else handle the problems that the Hellmouth creates."

"Of course they are," Xander said as he walked in, giving Homer a pat on the shoulder. "Listen, there's a kid I want you to watch out for. She's probably down in Special Ed still, but Melody is a halfie too. She's mute, but she's otherwise normal."

"Wasn't she able to become a shadow?" Giles asked.

"Yeah, she could turn herself into a shadow when she wanted to sneak around." Xander sat on Giles' lap, giving him a hug. "Oz is napping." He looked over at Sileya, seeing the pain in her eyes. "It happened, huh?"

"Right after...." Homer blushed and looked down at his feet again. "I'll see if I can't find out about her and see if I can't help her out some."

"Do be careful," Giles said gently, "there was a possible Slayer down there also."

"And bringing attention to yourself or her could be *real* bad," Xander reminded him. "Laying low is the only option in this town." He gave Giles a squeeze. "That's why we only go into town when we have to."

"So *that's* why we only go shopping once a month," Sileya said, giving them a smile. "That's eminently reasonable, but why do we do it?"

"Because the town found out that Miri could lift things with her mind and they decided to do a little bit of arson," Xander said calmly, clinging to Giles. "We managed to make it out because I was a conduit for the event, but we thought we lost everything." He looked around the room. "Someone major was looking out for us. We only lost the store. All the books and our stuff were saved from the fire." He rubbed his face against Giles'. "We can do this tomorrow. Homer, call Wills and tell her you're staying in a guest room tonight." He stood up, heading out of the room. "Everyone else is down, the horses are comfy, and I'm going to go join Oz in bed. Night, guys."

"Night," Homer called, reaching over to squeeze Sileya's hand. "It'll be okay. We'll do this together."

"Just like everything else," she sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder.


Giles woke up to screaming, looking around even as he reached for his glasses. He grabbed his robe as he headed for the door, glancing at the sleeping bodies on the bed to make sure that the heavy sleepers were still that way. He walked down the hall to Sileya's room, frowning when he heard the sound of her typing. He tapped on her door, getting her to answer almost instantly. "Did you hear something?"

"Yeah, it's outside. I was just making a note until one of you got up."

Xander walked down the hall rubbing his eyes. "What was what?" he asked, leaning against Giles' shoulder.


Sileya winced as the sound happened again. "Damn, the horses," she yelled, jogging out to try and stop whatever it was from hurting them. She stopped just inside the barn's doorway, glaring at the furry creature standing there. "Are you off schedule or are you just hungry?" she asked, picking up a pitchfork and advancing on the wolf.

"Careful," Giles said, putting a hand on her arm. "We can't be sure that one won't attack you too." He looked over the horses. "They must have been screaming in fright." A small shape moved in the shadows and Giles watched it, realization coming to him. "Miriam!" he yelled, heading for her, but the wolf got between them, growling.

Xander walked in with the tranq gun, shooting the wolf a few times. "She okay?" he asked, dropping the gun and heading after Giles. He held his arms open, letting his daughter crawl into them. "What were you thinking?" he asked, squeezing her.

"She's been bitten," Giles told him. He looked over at the wolf. "She was protecting her kittens apparently. How she knew there was going to be trouble, I'm not sure."

"She's been making visits out here every night," Xander said, looking up. "Go call someone, I have her. Sileya, you watch the wolf."

She sat down on a bale of hay, taking off her jacket to hold out to him. "Here, wrap her up." She visually checked each of the horses, saving Strife for last. She kept glancing back at the wolf, then over at Miri. "Is it a bad one?"

"Not really. It looks like it was trying to pull her out of her hiding place." He looked down at his daughter, who was still crying. "Shh, Miri, it's okay. The wolf can't hurt you again."

"No, kitties!" she cried, pointing.

Sileya got up, coming over to look down in the space between the bales of hay. "They look fine, dear." She reached in slowly, stroking down the mother's head. "See, they're fine. You protected them."

Miri wiggled until she could see, cheek resting against her father's chest. "They really 'tay?" Sileya nodded. "Me good?"

"Oh, I'm not sure how to answer that one," Sileya said, backing away, falling over the wolf's body. She scrambled up and sat back down on her bale of hay. "It's still breathing," she noted.

"It's just tranqs, it's not supposed to be dead," Xander reminded her. He pushed Miri back some. "What you did was very brave and good, but I never want you to do it again. You do *not* get between a wolf and it's prey."

She shook her head. "Me kitties!"

"I know they are, but the wolf would have hurt you just as much as he would have the kittens."

"Um, Xander?" Sileya squeaked. "The wolf's moving."

Xander turned around, and groaned. "Go tell Giles it's a were." He stood up, setting Miri on the bale beside the kittens. "Stay!" he said firmly. "Don't go near the wolf." He jogged to where he dropped the gun, coming back to stand between the wolf and his daughter. "Come on, want to see who you are," he muttered as they waited.

Finally, a man was exposed. He blinked around him, then up at Xander. He opened his mouth and made a whimpering noise, sliding on his side towards him.

"Shit," Xander said, squatting down, gun where it could still be fired again if he needed it. He slowly reached out to the werewolf, nodding when his hand was batted away. "Okay, I won't touch you. Do you know your name?" The man whimpered again. "Damn. Giles!" he yelled.

Oz came running in, buttoning his shirt. "I heard, he's letting me do this. What's his name?" The man howled. "Or not," he sighed, getting down in front of him, staring into his eyes. "We're the same," he told him, "tell me who you are. You invaded my pack and my lands." The wolf whimpered, nudging Oz's knee with his head. "Oh, hell, you're primal still." He reached out, scratching the werewolf under his chin. "We'll figure this out. Don't worry about it." He looked up as Giles walked in. "Rupe, he's totally gone over. He's letting the wolf stay in control."

"Well." He looked thoughtful. "I'm not sure what to do about that." He looked down at Miri, who was huddled behind Xander, one hand on his leg. "How's her arm?"

"Fine," Xander said. "Big bite mark, lots of pulling it looked like." He turned, picking her up, handing the gun to Giles. "Whose coming?"

"Paramedics and police. All I said was that something bit her." He looked down at the man whimpering on the floor. "We can change out of time?"

"I did," Oz reminded him. "All it took was a hate so pure that I wanted the wolf to kill for me." He looked up. "I'm guessing it's possible to change out of time for other reasons. Either that, or he got lost in the wolf and it's working on instinct."

"Yes, well, we can't keep him," Giles said briskly, opening the barn door as he heard sirens. "I do believe that's the police, the ambulance shouldn't be far behind them. What do we tell them?"

"He bit her," Xander said simply with a shrug. "I'm taking her out to meet them. You guys deal with him." He walked Miri out, smiling at the paramedic. "Gee, you guys got here before the police?"

"Yup, sometimes," the lead paramedic said as he took Miri from her father's arms and sat her on the ground. "Just this one bite?"

"As far as we could tell. The guy who did it was tranqed, he's inside." The other paramedic ran for the barn. "We don't know why she was out in the barn, but she was protecting her barn kittens."

"Kitties babies," she said, blinking at the paramedic. "No ouchies?"

"I can't promise that, but I can give you something for the pain if the hospital says it's okay," he assured her, giving her a smile. "The bite's not horrible. Some of the muscles' pulled away from the bone. Looks like she was hiding and he tried to pull her out by the bite." Xander nodded. "Okay. One question." He looked up. "We heard animal?"

"Um, okay," Xander said, sitting down next to him. "What do you know?"

"I've seen a few."

"He's primal, totally," Oz said as he walked out. "He turned back after we tranqed him. He's not recognizing human speech much at all." He leaned down, giving Miri a kiss to the top of her head. "Want me to come to the hospital with you?"

"Depends, do you want to deal with *him*?" the paramedic asked. Oz shrugged. "Do you know anything about them?"

Oz nodded. "Personally." He looked down at the bite. "And now, so might she."

"I doubt it," Xander said. "You went all funny after you were bit. You got real hyper-aware for a few days."

"It's only a week before the moon, we may still have another month for her," Oz reminded him. He patted Miri on top of the head. "I'll follow you guys in the car. Giles is going to stay home and see if he can't find a resource for the poor guy." He watched as the man was carried out between Giles and the second paramedic. "Don't let him bleed into an open cut, or let him lick them," he told her, getting out of their way. "Giles, I'll follow, you look for people?"

"That would be fine," Giles said, putting the man down. "The other screams we heard were Strife trying to get out to protect Miri it seems. Sileya found kick marks in his stall when she went in to check on him." He looked his daughter over. "Only a week before we know," he said sadly.

"Maybe not," Oz reminded him. "Could be next month."

"Ah. I hadn't thought about that." Giles reached out a hand, getting it squeezed by Oz. "You go, we'll deal with this here."

"He's staying?" Oz asked.

"The locals won't have a place for him," the second paramedic said, brushing a stray hair out of her face. "They'd lock him up in a psych ward and if he turned, that'd be the end of him."

"Ah." Xander nodded. "Well, we still have the trailer. We have the porch. We do have woods." He shrugged. "I'm not in this discussion, it's not my problem." He waited until the loose dressing was taped to Miri's arm to pick her up. "Ambulance?" he suggested. He looked down at the man. "As long as he isn't rabid."

"He's not," Oz said. "He'd smell funny if he was." He watched them go. "I'll go pick them up. Rupe, this isn't a great idea."

"It'll only be until I can find someone to take care of him."

"And if you can't?" the second paramedic asked, packing up her bag.

"Then we know someone who knows a lot of natives and I'm sure one of them might have a suggestion."

"Or Philip and Nick might," Oz pointed out. He waved at the driveway. "Go ahead, I'm going to follow to bring them home." He waited until she had left to turn on his mate. "Giles, bringing another wolf into the pack is going to cause us problems this month. He's not able to interact with people. He's *dangerous*!"

"He's not that dangerous," Giles countered. "We can tranq his food. He can stay on the porch. We'll just have to watch him a bit." He stood up. "It will be *fine*, Oz. I think I know of someone who can take him and help him. I'll call them tonight." He headed for the house. "Help him onto the glider on the porch."

Oz grunted in irritation, glaring at Giles' back. "You'd better know what you're doing," he muttered, pulling the other werewolf up and dragging him to the porch, setting him on the glider. "Stay!" He headed into the house to grab some keys, then went to follow the rest of his family.


Oz helped Miri into her sling, practicing the maneuver under the careful eye on the nurse. His daughter smiled up at him as he got finished, still trying to fight the medicine they had given her. "Good enough," he said finally, adjusting the cuff. The nurse nodded, handing him over the prescriptions. "All of them?"

"Except the pain one that your man went to go fill," she agreed. "He's probably out working on the paperwork again."

Oz nodded. "This hurts him a lot." He picked Miri up, putting her head down on his shoulder. "You nap, we'll be home soon." He gave the nurse a small smile. "Thanks."

"Oh, you're welcome, sweetie. She's a tough little one. Didn't hardly cry at all."

"She'll cry at home," Xander said as he walked in. "She's like that." He held his arms out but Oz didn't hand her over. "Okay. The car seat's all set and the pain meds are in the glovebox. We're all set if she's released."

"Yes she is," the nurse said, waving at Miri, who gave her a sleepy smile. "Go home and let her sleep it all off. She'll know when she can get up again." She watched them go, shaking her head. "I don't know why these things happen to your family," she sighed, cleaning up the cubicle so it could be used again.

Xander hitched Miri in, making sure she was comfortable for the ride home. "You nap," he told her, closing the door as gently as he could. He slid into the passenger's seat, looking over at his lover. "She'll be fine," he reminded Oz, who had his head resting on the steering wheel.

"We're apparently keeping the other werewolf until one of Giles' friends comes for him," Oz said quietly. "I'm not real fond of the idea." He turned his head to look at Xander. "You gonna be okay?" he asked when he saw the pale complexion.

"I'm not sure," Xander admitted, forcing himself to relax. "I don't want to be, I think, but I could handle it for a few days."

"That's all he has. The other wolf has to be gone before we change. Otherwise, there'll be major problems." Oz sat up, starting the car. "I have the other prescriptions. Want to stop at WallyWorld on the way home?"

"Yeah, we'd better. She'll want stuff to be spoiled with. I'll run in if you want to watch her."

"Sure. I think I could use the cuddles."

Xander leaned over, kissing his lover on the cheek. "When we get home, Oz. I promise."

Oz nodded, pulling out onto the street. "Thanks."


Miri snuck down to the dining room, giving the resident ghost a big, pitiful look as she held up her sling. "Me bitted," she said, nodding, sitting in the chair that the ghost pulled out for her. "Big owchies."

The ghost made soft noises as she floated closer, one misty hand coming down to touch the bite. She pointed at the wall the dining room and the library shared, then headed in there, pulling a few books down to flip through them. When the little girl came in, she pointed at one of the comfortable chairs and brought the book down near her. She put a hand over the cut, her mouth moving but no words coming out.

A vapor started to rise from the injury and Miri clapped.


Giles walked into Miri's room with a tray for her breakfast, giving her a smile. "How are you feeling this morning, love?" he asked as he set it across her lap and sat on the end of her bed.

"Itchies," she said, holding up her restrained arm. "Lotion?"

"No, it isn't that sort of itch, you don't need the benadryl lotion." He reached over to brush down a lock of hair that was trying to stick out. "How does it feel beyond itching? Does it hurt?" She shook her head. "All right, if it does, you need to tell us immediately, understand?" She nodded. "Good. Now eat your breakfast."

He watched as she broke the yolk of her eggs, smiling as she chased the yellow, runny substance around with her spoon and toast, laughing when she decided to use her fingers to pick up the toast and drop it into the puddle instead of continuing the futile chase. He patted her on the top of the head when she remembered to use the spoon to pick it up and eat the soggy mess, getting up and leaving her alone to eat in peace. He headed for their bedroom, tapping before he walked in, smiling at the picture his sleeping Xander made. "Love, it's breakfast time," he said softly, sitting on the side of the bed. "Time to get up."

"Aw, mom," Xander complained, wrapping an arm around Giles' waist. "Don't wanna get up." He blinked up at his lover, giving him a good impersonation of begging. "Can I have breakfast in bed?"

"No, precious, only our daughter can do that. You have to call the woman at the magic shop today, she called yesterday for you."

"Talked to her," Xander said as he slithered over to curl around his oldest lover's body. "I need to drop something off with her today and pick up a new order. The last batch of candles sold really well."

"Good. I'm very proud of how you're handling this." Giles ran a hand through the dark hair. "Get up and take a shower, I'll fix you some food before I drive you into town."

"We've got to get the Explorer back from the city," Oz said as he walked in with Blair. "Just got off the phone with Dr. Adams. He said we could have a conference with big Blair and him tomorrow at eleven. He's going to go over Blair's workups to see if changing him back to female usage would be okay."

"Cool. I need to go in soon anyway," Xander said, yawning even as he waved at Blair. "Hey, little person. We awake?"

"Not really," Oz said, handing the baby over. "He wanted to wander around. Found him in Miri's room sharing her toast while he snuggled up to her."

Giles snorted. "I see. Maybe we should feed you again?" He stood up, dislodging Xander. "Go shower and come downstairs, Xander, I'll feed the lot of you." He walked out with the toddler, chatting with him.

Oz shook his head. "We'll be okay on that front at least," he quipped. He reached into the closet for a shirt. "Want to get up now?" He turned to find Xander fast asleep, lying just as Giles had shifted him. "Or not." He shrugged, heading down to the kitchen, with a quick stop to kiss Miri good morning. He pecked his lover on the cheek as he walked through the kitchen. "Xan went back to sleep. I'm going to check on the horses."

"I believe Sileya's done that already, and that Miri's snuck down to check on the kittens." He turned to look at Oz. "I think we should take the kittens in to be fixed. There's going to be a third litter soon from the first's mother and I think it's about time."

"You explain it to Miri and I'll back you up on it," Oz said, grabbing his jacket as he walked out the back door. "Be back in a few."

Giles smiled at the door, feeling decent about his life at the moment.