Not Going There!
Xander sank down into the couch, looking across the living room at his therapist. Blair had come up with Giles and Spike when he had been hurt, almost a week earlier, and it was time to get on with why they were really there. "What is Giles demanding now?" he asked casually.
"I do have some suggestions," Giles admitted, "but I wouldn't call them demands."
"Call them what you want, but spit them out," Oz told him.
"I would much rather do this part with Xander," Giles told him, looking at Blair, who looked at Oz, who shrugged.
"No." Oz looked at Xander. "Unless you want me to go."
"No, I want you here," Xander said calmly. "I might need someone to be here for me."
"That's one of the things I have a problem with," Giles told him, leaning forward. "Xander, you are very emotionally needy. I think that you need to start therapy again."
"I'm finding myself," Xander reminded him. "I'm going through a process I should have done in High School, and it's draining when you have four children and you to deal with." He looked his lover over. "You don't have to deal with me, you know. I never come to you when I need something emotional anyway. Even the simplest ones aren't something that I get from you usually. Not even a 'congratulations, you lived'." He shifted, putting his bad leg up to let it stretch out, then glanced around the room. "Blair, shut the door to the playroom please."
Blair got up and did as he was told. "Is this going to be a screaming moment? I can close the other door too."
"No, that's okay, everyone's in the playroom." Xander looked at Giles. "How many times did I save your ass back in high school?" he asked quietly. Giles looked confused. "Okay, easier question. How many times did you have to save *my* ass in high school?"
"Watch your language," Giles hissed.
"Get over it," Xander returned coolly. "I am an adult and the kids all know that they're not supposed to say those words until they're old enough to make the decision to swear. I find that it's helpful in certain situations." He crossed his hands on his stomach. "How many times, Giles?"
"Well, there was the possession."
"Which you refused to believe in until the rest of the pack killed someone," Xander added. "Go on, name another."
"Xander, we saved you many times. You never were the best fighter."
"Gee, but I always got the one I went after," he said, giving him a slight grimace of a smile. "Even when I was down on my butt on the ground, there wasn't any way I would have died. Do you know why?"
"Because Buffy was there?" Oz suggested lightly.
"No, because I was good enough then to have done what I did, and no one noticed." He put his foot back down and stood up, taking off his shirt. "Giles, do you see these scars?" His lover nodded. "I know how I got most of them, and most of them were from times like when I saved you from Angel. Or when I was taken hostage and no one noticed until it was almost too late. This one," he said, pointing at one on his side, one he liked to use to scare off new people who wanted to know what was going on at night, "was gotten from a fight, I think. If I remember right, I got staked by someone. A very human someone." He sat back down. "I don't really remember that fight, Giles, but I do remember that you attacked me during it because you were blindly going after anything that came near you." He held up a finger when Blair opened his mouth. "It's relevant. He has the same attitude when anything tries to open his world view. He panics, then he attacks. Then, he's sorry to some degree for it. Now I'm the one changing his little world and he's attacking. Next, he'll be sorry to some degree. And unless it's total, I don't want him back."
Giles coughed and leaned back in his chair. "Xander, you've got me wrong. I don't attack things that I don't understand, I research them."
"Which is a form of attack," Oz told him. "Knowledge is power. You've had knowledge over Xander for years, and you held it over him. Even when he needed a parent, you kept it hidden."
"I doubt Ethan would have helped him any while he was suicidal. His attitude only recently changed."
"How would you know?" Xander asked. "You never let him know I was me. You never told me that he was my father. He might have been decent to me then, he was to Sileya. What makes you think that he wouldn't have given a damn about me?"
"Because you were with me," Giles reminded him. "That alone makes you a target for his ill will."
"Gee, it didn't when I found out," Xander snarled. "He's never held you against me; you held him against me though. And you know what? I may always hate you for that, no matter if we work the rest out or not." He looked at Blair. "Let's move on. I don't want to discuss this right now."
"Fine," Blair agreed. "Giles?"
"Yes, well, the second suggestion I have is that Xander close up his extra parts. It's only caused problems. First, he ran away, and now we've had other problems."
Xander snorted. "I ran away before I got it opened. And what problems?"
"How about your limping?" Giles suggested coldly. "If it weren't for William, you'd be walking right now."
Xander chuckled. "Gee, and here I thought the ceiling fell on me because of shoddy workmanship, not because I did something special in having William."
"You know what I mean!" Giles shouted.
"Yeah, I do, and guess what? The drugs may not have reduced the swelling any faster. The last time I went in and saw McCregor, I asked him if it would have made a difference. He said it probably wouldn't have, not with the amount of swelling and the sort of damage I had. I might be limping *less* but I'd still be limping. Even if William were some fairytale, I'd still be limping around. And the answer to that suggestion is no." He stared at his lover. "You never minded it until I had William. It's in your head."
"Kinda gets me sometimes too," Oz admitted quietly. Xander stared at him in shock. "I don't want you to close it unless you want to, but I do have to stop and think sometimes when I see William. Not in a bad way," he justified to Blair, who was staring at him, "but it stops me and I have to think, 'this little person came from Xander's body'."
Xander shrugged. "I got over that about a week after I found out. Does it really bother you that much?"
"No, but I'm not sure I want it to happen again."
"Good, because Doctor Adams said that it probably won't. My hormones have went almost dormant again. No more PMS for a while it seems."
"Cool," Oz said, reaching over to touch Xander's hand. "I can be happy about that. Just, let's plan ahead if we want anymore. No more accidents. I fully admit William was me being too involved to remember protection, but I don't want it to happen again."
"Then it won't," Xander told him. "I'll make sure we keep a closer eye on my hormones so we know if it becomes possible again." Oz nodded so he looked at Giles. "You?"
"No, I still want it closed. I don't even want to consider that your hormones might reactivate you without our realizing it. I don't think that's fair to us, or to our children."
Xander licked his lips and looked at Giles. "What's with the *our*, Rupert."
"The twins are technically mine."
"Yeah, and they knew who you were from the first day, right?" Xander looked at Blair. "I'm not closing myself off. My hormones are sleeping peacefully. I'm doubting that they'll ever come back again. And if they do, then it's my responsibility. I won't expect Rupert to ever do anything about it."
"I won't hold it against the child," Giles said stiffly.
"Why not, you do William." "What possessed you to name him that?" Oz asked him.
"Spike was very there for me while I was sick," Xander told him. "Besides, William kicked him first. I was having some stomach cramps and he reached over to adjust my heating pad while I was sleeping. William kicked him first. I named him after Philip to provide a little balance to his nature, in case he lives up to his name."
Oz chuckled lightly. "Cool. I wanted to know why you named him that. Makes sense to me."
"It doesn't to me," Giles said coldly. "Spike should have been nowhere near you while you were in the hospital."
"Why? Because I was supposed to go through this on my own?" Xander suggested, his mood darkening. "What, it was my fault that the ceiling fell on me?"
"Yes," Giles said, standing up. "If you hadn't been there, then it wouldn't have happened."
"No, it would have been one of the other guys," Xander reminded him. "And why wouldn't I have been there? I like working. I'm going to go back to my classes as soon as I can, and when I finish, I'm going to start working again." He looked at Oz. "We need permanent babysitter arrangements."
"True," Oz agreed. "I'll look into the daycare issue again." He looked up at Giles. "Are you saying that because he wanted to leave the house that he deserved to get hit?"
Giles shrugged. "I..." He sat back down. "No, I'm not."
"Then what were you saying?" Blair asked.
"I'm saying that he didn't have to be hurt."
"Actually," Xander said, putting his bad leg back up, "when we got the visitors from Miri's traveling incident, the Oz from there told me that I had one last challenge to overcome to becoming my most fully happy. I'm guessing this would have happened somehow. Maybe another car crash, possibly with the kids getting hurt. Or maybe one of you getting hurt if you were with me." He swallowed, stopping to look out the window. Oz got up walked out of the room, coming back with a bottle of water. "Thanks, Oz." He took a few sips to calm his queasiness. He looked at Giles again, once he was calm. "I would have gotten hurt anyway. If it had happened later, then something worse might have happened."
"Yes, your father may not have helped you," Giles spat. "Why did you let him pay for everything?"
"Because we couldn't afford it," Xander reminded him. "You weren't working full time, Oz was in school. We couldn't afford for me to have the care that I needed to get better at all. And yes, before you say it, I would have paid Ethan back. As a matter of fact, I offered to pay him back just so you wouldn't feel obligated to him in any way. Fortunately, he saw through that and told me that he didn't want anything from me, just to see me taken care of."
"I don't believe it. Ethan has always told lies!" Giles shouted.
"To you," Xander said calmly and quietly. "He's never lied to me once I found out he was my father; and for that matter, whenever we ran into him, he always admitted what he had done so he could gloat. Ethan did have faults, Giles, but lying doesn't seem to be one of them."
"Then why did he give Miriam his books?"
"Because someone had to get them and neither Sileya nor I could use them. She'll learn the appropriate respect for her abilities and will be able to use the knowledge in them as she sees fit. All those are are books, not something evil. You make the contents of it fit your will."
"How would you know about magic?" Giles spat.
"Easy, because I studied." Xander looked him over. "You think that you're the only one who can pick up a book and read it for the content? Unfortunately for you, you taught me how to do that too. When Miri started showing definite signs of magic, I started to research what she would be doing. And I'm sure she's going to be doing non-harmful things when she's old enough to have those books." He looked at Blair again. "Have we beaten this to death yet?"
"No," Giles said coldly, "we have not. Miriam's gifts should be locked away from her. They never should have been released. I don't know what I was thinking."
"Gee, maybe that she was going to die," Xander suggested snidely, making him go pale. "Do you have faulty memories of our early years? Because I seem to remember Miri getting very sick and not getting better until you removed your block. And if you *touch* my children with your magic, *EVER*, you will pay, Rupert Giles. I will make sure you pay very long and very hard for working your will on them." He stood up. "I'm going to go calm down. Let him yell at the walls." He hobbled out onto the porch, sitting down on the porch swing.
Oz got up, taking him his cane, then came back and took his seat. "Giles, what's wrong with your head?" he asked quietly.
"Oz, don't accuse, ask," Blair reminded.
"I am asking," Oz told him, glancing at him. "Giles is accusing. He's accusing Xander of doing things to hurt him on purpose, things that never should have been an issue. And yeah, that's how I remember Miri's block being broken too. She was so sick that Doctor Amri was worried about her not getting better. Within a few hours of you taking off the block though, she got better. Good enough to knock us all out after a fight." He closed his eyes for a second. "Giles, what happened? We used to be so close, the three of us. What happened that ruined that?"
"Nothing happened to me," Giles said, adjusting his shirt in a nervous fidget. "I haven't changed a bit."
"Yeah, you have," Oz told him, getting up. "I'm going to start on supper. Blair, are you eating with us?"
"Please. I don't have to be back in town for another day or so." He smiled at Oz's back, then it fell away as he looked at Giles. "How could you do that to Xander?" he asked quietly. "He was being honest, and he expects the same from you."
"I am. I've not changed a bit since we got together." He got up and walked out, going down to the trailer.
"Guess that means I don't have to feed him too," Oz said from the hallway. "Chicken okay?"
"Do a salad," Xander called.
"Sure," Oz called back. "Want to help, Blair? It'd burn off some of the tension you're sending off in waves."
"Yeah, I think I'd like that," Blair said, getting up and following him into the kitchen. He washed his hands and started to peel some cucumbers.
Giles looked up at the ceiling and sighed, closing his eyes. Next thing he knew, he felt himself being moved, but he could still feel the bed underneath him. He opened his eyes but he was still in his room. Then he sat up and looked at the figure standing at the end of his bed. It was a familiar figure, but not one he had dealt with before. "What are you and how did you breach my defenses?" he asked haughtily.
"Easy, dude, they're puny." The cloaked figure moved closer, standing on the bed. "Why don't you listen?" he sighed, stomping one thick boot into Giles' chest. "I sent ya a warnin', stupid, and I gave you a physical one too. Why didn't you listen to them?" He rocked his weight forward, cracking a few more of Giles' ribs, making him scream. He grinned, his air of menace getting deeper. "Now that's a sound I missed when I was different," he sighed, using his free foot to plant it on Giles' left shoulder, standing evenly on both parts of his body. "If ya'd listen, then we coulda avoided this playtime. But I guess you don't take hints."
"Of course not, bugger's got big ego all around him. Even smells like it," a voice said from the corner.
"Spike?" Giles gasped. He looked up into the pale face glaring down at him and started to black out. "You don't exist!" he whispered.
Strife jumped down and grinned, removing his hood. "Really?" He looked over at Spike. "Was that an insult or a delusion?"
"Bit'a both probably," Spike said dryly. He grabbed Giles by the throat and squeezed. "You should have listened, mate, this'd be easier on you right now. He's not *yours*, he's your mate. No possession allowed. You aren't one of us." He grinned up at Strife. "Can you fix that?"
"Do you really want him as a minion forever?" Strife asked, sighing and rolling his eyes when it looked like Spike was actually considering it. "Think about putting up with him forever."
Spike grimaced, then spit on Giles' left hand. "Nah, that would be Hell. That's more the poof's thing than mine, thanks though." He gave the throat he held another squeeze. "You gonna take the hint now, bug fucker?"
Strife bent closer. "Then let me show you what you've been missing," he said coldly, touching the sorcerer's head, forcing images of a happy Xander and Oz into his brain. Forcing him to see what he had caused. "I'd fix it," he said as he pulled back. "Before I do." He nodded at Spike and they walked off into the shadows, Strife pulling back up his hood as they disappeared.
Giles woke with a start and rubbed the sore spots on his body. He looked down as he felt something on his hand, wiping the spit off on the sheets. He tried to move, but more of his ribs weren't broken. They only felt that way. He rubbed his sore throat slowly as he got up to get himself some water. He had to look at those pictures again, before they came back.
Xander woke up from the strangest dream and rolled over to hug his lover's body. He found him sitting up feeding their son, so snuggled below William's butt. "He okay?"
"Yeah, he's fine. He just wanted some attention." Oz reached down to rub Xander's shoulders. "You need some too?"
"Yeah, I majorly need some attention right now. Or at least I need cuddles right now, which would be killer." Xander nudged William with his head. "Can we put him between us and cuddle him together?"
"Sure. Move." Xander moved back and rolled onto his side, accepting his son as Oz moved to match him. They cuddled William between him and Xander got the hug he needed. "What's wrong?" Oz asked.
"Huh, you're not known for those." He gave his lover a squeeze. "About what?"
"Someone punishing Giles."
"Do you think he deserves that?"
"I don't know," Xander said pitifully. "But it happened. It was two figures, but I couldn't tell who they were. Though, Giles did call one of them Spike."
"Well, Spike did beat him the last time," Oz noted. "Is he okay?"
"It was a dream, Oz."
"True, but did he wake up okay?"
"Yeah, he did. They may have broken a few more of his ribs and the one he called Spike grabbed him by the throat."
"Oh. It was probably your subconscious playing out a punishment fantasy using what actually happened to him."
"If you say so," Xander said quietly. "It was really real."
"Dreams can be like that," Oz said softly, going back to rubbing Xander's shoulders. "I wouldn't worry about it." He looked out the porch door, checking on the level of darkness outside. It still looked like it was the middle of the night. "Xander?"
"Never mind, go to sleep."
Xander lifted his head. "What?"
Oz leaned over and gave him a kiss. "I'm just worried about the stress Giles is giving you."
"I'm okay. I got pissed earlier, but I'm getting over it."
"Are you going to do as he asked? Close it off I mean?"
"Nope." Xander put his head back down. "Did you want me to?"
"No, I kinda like it," Oz admitted, "but I am concerned about you having another child. Can I talk to Doctor Adams the next time you go in?"
"Sure. He suggested it actually." Xander patted Oz's back. "He said it's highly improbable, but that if it did, I'd be better this time." He grinned at Oz's frown. "Kidding."
"Good. You don't want more kids, right?"
"Not really. I think we have enough," he said dryly.
Oz snorted. "I meant deep down."
"Maybe some year, but not until Miri's Sileya's age and we start to remember the 'good old days' and forget all the times like this."
"I like these times," Oz told him.
"I meant the midnights that we've spent feeding and changing."
"Ah, those. Yeah, I'd like to forget about diapers before we start to consider having another one." He grinned. "So, when we get empty nest?"
"Yeah, maybe then. A menopausal baby."
"Cool. A woman in Europe gave birth recently at 62."
"I'm not going that far," Xander said dryly. "I can't see me chasing a kid around then. I'm too slow to do it now."
"Nah, the kids are just too fast. They'll slow down in a few years too."
"Blair may not ever slow down. Willow was hyper but she had good control over it, Blair's a lot like her."
"Yeah, I have no doubt she's going to start babbling any day now," he said as he gave his lover a pinch. "I was thinking about pre-school for Miri."
"Would be good for me," Xander noted. "If I had to, I could fall back to part time at school and be here in the other times."
"Most of my classes next semester are afternoon, with one evening. I'll get back by ten that night."
"Cool. So, daycare is an option for her, but what about the twins and Willie?"
"Don't call him that," Oz sighed. They were still arguing over a nickname for their son. Willie was not an option, and no matter how much Spike suggested, they weren't calling him Spike either. "How about Will?"
"Spike said that if we started calling him that, he was going to tell Angel to come up and torture us."
"Ah. Good. Do you like Will?"
"I like Will," Xander agreed. "It's shorter to yell when he starts crawling."
Oz snorted. "Yeah, I don't really want to have that happen, not for a few more years."
"They are nice at this age," Xander agreed, using the hand that was around Oz to stroke over his son's dark, thick hair. "It's good to have someone who wants to cuddle and thinks that you're the greatest person in the world."
"The twins still do that," Oz reminded him.
"Yeah, but they get to get up and leave when they want. Will can't."
"Yup." Oz gave them both a squeeze. "Baby's are cute and cuddly so that parents don't throw them away while they teeth."
Xander burst out laughing, waking their son up. "Shh," he whispered, calming William back down. "It's okay. We wouldn't do that to you," he crooned, helping his son go back to sleep.
"Nope, we'll go chop wood again," Oz told him.
Xander snickered. "I doubt I will. I'll do the whole cooking thing and you can go chop wood."
"And the twins can join Miri in pouting and whining about not getting any sleep," Oz finished.
"Cool. How many more months?"
"Well, he's about five months now. Give it another month before he starts to teeth." He slipped his thumb into his son's mouth, checking for the pre-tooth bumps. "Yeah, we've got a bump on top, but it's off to the side. We'll have Doctor Amri look at him when we take him in for a checkup in a few days."
"Okay," Xander said sleepily, giving a big yawn. "I think I'm comfy again."
"Good," Oz said, putting his arm back around Xander's waist so he could hold both his boys. He fell asleep a few minutes after Xander did, much to the delight of their son, who was *wide* awake, but happy at being cuddled.
Xander woke up as the camera flashed, blinking up at Giles. "What are you doing?" he grumbled. He felt a weight on his stomach and looked down, blinking at his son, who was sucking on his bellybutton. "Gee, Will, that's not real good for you," he said as he removed him, giving him a kiss on the head. "He got fussy last night," he said with a shrug as he got up. He wandered into the bathroom, kicking Oz out.
Oz came out and looked down at his son. "Did you enjoy Daddy's bellybutton?" he asked, picking his son up to hug. "Yeah, that wasn't exactly perfect for you, but I bet it was fun." William cooed and waved his arms. "Yeah, it was fun to sleep with us last night, wasn't it?" He looked over at Giles. "Why did you take a picture of William? You don't like him."
"Because I felt like it." He walked out but the camera was pulled from him. By Tigger. "What? When did you start to do that, Elizabeth? Give it back, now!"
Tigger ran into their room and gave her Daddy Oz the camera. "He sneaked in," she said, nodding. "Bad him." She stuck her tongue out at her Daddy Rupert. "Go 'way." She climbed up on the bed and held out her arms. "Me hold."
Oz carefully put William into her arms and made sure she had him before going back into the bathroom.
Xander came out and flopped down beside the kids. "Did you know that you used to do the same thing?" he asked her. She shook her head. "When we put in the nursery and you started to sleep in there, you used to sneak in all the time to get cuddles. You used to nibble on his shoulder," he told her, pointing up at Rupert.
"Me no do it again," she said earnestly. "Me no bad."
He smiled. "No, it wasn't bad. It was cute. Miri never snuck out, that was the first time you showed that you weren't going to be like her."
Tigger smiled brightly. "Yup, me no be like her. No want to be, she no like dollies."
"That's okay, she's got other things that she likes that you don't," Xander reminded her. "That's what makes her special. Same as Blair is special because of who she is and William will be special for who he becomes." He looked up as someone cleared their throat from the doorway. "Hey, Blair. Did we wake you?"
"No. I went jogging with Chloe." He walked in and sat on the bed too, patting Tigger on the head. "What was he pissed about?"
"Me take camera," Tigger told him seriously. "He take pictures of baby."
"Oh, why?" he asked Xander.
"Because Blair was sucking on my bellybutton."
"Ah. Where's the camera?"
"With Oz. William got fussy last night so we brought him over with us and cuddled him together. "He wigglie," Tigger said in panic.
Xander helped her put him down. "He just wants to get up and run," he told her, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Why would he take a picture of William?"
"I don't know," Blair sighed. "The only reasons I can think of I don't think are valid. He doesn't like William that much, no matter how cute of a moment it was, and I doubt he's going to go talk to a Social Worker."
"He'd better not," Oz said as he walked out. "He wiggle too much?" he asked his daughter, smiling at Blair as she peeked around the corner. "Come on, you can come in too." She ran in and climbed up on the bed, pouncing on William to give him a hug, making everyone laugh.
Xander got up. "I've still got to shave. Be right back." He walked into the bathroom and shut the door.
Oz looked down at Blair. "You don't think, right?"
"Not as far as I know," Blair said. "He's never mentioned wanting the children taken away. Besides, the only time you've been visited by them was because of Miri's behavior in daycare. Right?"
Oz nodded. "Yeah, they reported us for not giving her medication that she didn't need. The Social Worker liked us anyway." He walked over to the closet. "Girls, why don't you go downstairs and turn on cartoons? We'll be down by the time one's done."
"'Kay," Tigger said, dragging her twin with her.
Oz looked at Blair once they were gone. "Do we have your support if he does?"
"Yeah, of course," Blair said calmly. "Same as you have it if he tried to get someone to adopt the twins."
Oz glared. "He'd better not. We will fight him over the kids." He looked at his shirts. "I need something calming. I change tonight." He pulled out a comfortable t-shirt and pulled it on with a pair of old, frayed cuttoffs.
"Um, Oz, those are a bit high cut," Blair mentioned lightly, pointing at where the younger man was obviously going commando, he was hanging out.
Oz looked down then shrugged and threw those back, pulling on a different pair. "Better?" he asked with a grin.
"For me, yeah," Blair agreed.
"Shoot," Xander said from the doorway. "I wanted you to wear the other ones."
"Some time when it's just us," Oz promised, getting out of his way, watching as Xander braced on the bed on the way across the room. "How's your leg?"
"Much better," Xander told him. "It still feels strong enough to hold me, but not too strong." He shrugged at Blair's look. "We got a good result from the new treatment."
"Are you supposed to get another one?" Blair asked.
"Not that I know of. I wasn't scheduled for another appointment outside of my next checkup in six months." He pulled down a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
"Grab the bag, Xander," Oz told him.
Xander grabbed the plastic bag and opened it, turning to look at his mate. "Oz, I can't," he protested.
"Quiet and wear them," Oz told him. "You've got to come help me dig Strife's grave anyway."
"Point," Xander sighed, pulling on the spandex shorts. "Why did you get ones that are so tight?" he complained.
"Because I like looking at your butt," Oz said as he stood up, bringing William with him. He grabbed the diaper bag Xander had prepared earlier and took them both downstairs.
Blair stood up. "You look good in them," Blair agreed. "Don't argue too much, you'll hurt his feelings." He walked out, heading down to help with breakfast, which his daughter was fixing for everyone.
Xander made sure his t-shirt covered his pelvic region then grabbed his cane and went downstairs, coming back after a few minutes to close and lock the closet door. They really didn't want the kids to find their porn stash. He tucked the key into his jewelry box then left the room, closing the bedroom door too.
An older woman knocked on the back door of the house and Oz got up to get it, giving Blair a look as he went. "Yes?" he asked.
"Sir, I'm with Social Services," she said as she walked in. She gave him a smile. "I have a report I have to check out, you know this drill."
"Yeah, and I know who made it. I'm going to kill him." He let her past him, following her to the living room. "Xander?"
"Giles did what we feared."
Xander came out of his office, wax drips on his shirt. "He did?" He looked at the woman. "Oh, hey. What did he say we're doing?" He sat down, leaving his office door open.
"Do you have things burning in there?" she asked lightly.
"Yeah. Blair?" She popped around the corner. "Come on. You know you can't play with the candles while I'm not in there." She ran out and climbed into his lap, giving him a cuddle. "Thanks. So, what did he say?"
"Only that something strange was going on with your son. He said that he found your child in bed with you this morning, doing something abnormal to you, Mr. Harris."
"William got fussy last night so we brought him into the bed with us," Oz explained calmly. "We cuddled him between us. Giles saw him nibbling on Xander's bellybutton. He's about ready to teeth."
"Ah." She smiled. "That explains a lot." She smiled at Blair. "How are you, dear one? Aren't you Elizabeth?"
"No, that's Blair," Oz told her. "We did the genetic test and found out that she was mostly female so we decided to start treating her as that." She smiled. "You knew?"
"I guessed. I'm usually very good at telling in these cases." She stood up. "I have no doubt that it was something unusual. Where are the other children?"
"Upstairs," Blair said quietly. "In closet."
"Excuse me?" Oz asked her. "In *our* closet?" Blair pulled her thumb up to suck. "'Scuse me. They're not supposed to be in there." He ran up the stairs and the two girls ran back down, one of them carrying a tape. Which Xander took from her.
"How many times have I told you not to get into my closet?" he asked Miri, glaring at her. "You know better. Go sit and don't move." She cried but she sat in the chair in the corner and curled up. "You too, Elizabeth. Now!" She walked over and sat in front of the windows, glaring at him. "Don't *even* give me that look. There was no way you were supposed to get in there."
"May I?" the Social Worker asked, pointing at the tape.
"We keep it locked in there," Xander said, handing over the tape. "We keep the closet locked because all of this stuff is in there, except our daily usage stuff in the bedside table."
"Ah." She delicately put it down on the table, shaking her head when Blair tried to look. "I doubt you need to see that, dear." She sat back down. "You keep it locked?" Xander nodded, glaring at his children. "Where's the key kept?"
"In his box," Miri said helpfully. "I floated it down."
"Then you're doubly in trouble," Xander reminded her, making her start to cry. "You are not supposed to be using that to get into trouble, or to get the twins into trouble."
"Me wanted to see," Miri cried. "You never let us play in there."
"There's a reason for that," Oz said as he came back down. He took the case and put it into the TV cabinet, closing and locking the doors on that too. "We do keep it locked. They got into your former uniforms too," he said quietly as he joined Xander on the couch.
"Ah, yes," the Social Worker said, licking her lips. "The man who made the call also said that Mr. Harris was doing grotesque sexual things with his body."
"Used to strip," Xander admitted diffidently. "Nothing grotesque though." He handed Blair over. "It's all in the past."
"Ah." She smiled. "What are you doing now? For work, I mean."
"Well, besides working on adding to my stock of candles, I'm in rehabilitation for my knee so I can go back to my carpentry class this fall." She smiled at that. "Really, I only stripped when we first moved out here. We needed the money and things were going to hell quickly. Miri was about two then."
"Me almost five," Miri said helpfully.
"So I noticed," she said with a smile for the young girl, then she turned back to Xander. "How did she get the key?"
Oz nodded at Miri. "Grab the phone or something."
"Me do it," Blair said happily, squinting at it.
"You no do that," Miri said with a snort, bringing the phone to her. "Me do that.
"Me do that too," Elizabeth said, bringing it to her, but she rubbed her head. "Too heavy, daddy," she whined.
"I know." Oz reached over and patted her on the foot. "Stay there and rest, you're grounded for the rest of the week." He looked at the social worker, catching the phone Miri sent at him. "Thanks. You're grounded too."
"We should add to her punishment since she used her talent to get the key," Xander said quietly.
"Point. You have one more day than Tigger does."
Miri pouted and crossed her arms, giving them a look. "Me wanted to see," she complained. "You never let me see."
"That's because you don't need to be in there," Xander reminded her. He looked at the worker. "I did work one other time, it was while the twins were younger. It was another case of needing the money. I needed it to be more independent."
"Our relationship started going to hell," Oz told her. "It's still there for us and Giles. We're good though." He patted Xander's hand. "Is there anything else?"
She cleared her throat. "Was that the reason your store was burned?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah, Miri lifted the woman that the Initiative sent after her." He watched as his daughter went pale at that word. "Miri, would you like to tell us something?"
"Me not bad," Miri whispered, looking at her feet.
"I'll be damned," Oz said softly. He put Blair down and got up to pick her up and sit under her, giving her a hug. "Did someone tell you that you were?" She nodded. "Who? Tell Daddies and we'll go fix them for it."
She shook her head. "Me not supposed to tell. They say they do bad things to babies." She looked over at Tigger. "Never lift things in front of people," she chastised.
"It's okay to do it in front of good people," Oz reminded her. "People like Spike or Doyle are okay to do that in front of, as long as you're not using it for trouble."
"Oh, good," Giles said as he walked in. "I wanted to talk to you about having the twins adopted also."
Xander got up and glared at his lover. "Shedarsiaan," he hissed, using the only major spell he had ever figured out to freeze his lover cold. He fell back onto the couch, glaring at Oz. "I want him gone. Now! If he *ever* comes near the twins again, I'm hurting him."
Oz nodded. "Okay." He looked at the Social Worker. "They're his, but we've raised them since they were born. Xander got in trouble because he had a wreck while bringing Elizabeth home." He smiled at her. "That was a few bad hours, huh?" She shrugged. "Trust me, it was." He looked at the older woman again, glancing at Xander. "Blair, can you get Uncle Blair to make Xander something soft and easy to eat? Tell him daddy did something powerful."
"That's the one spell I can do, that and three wards," Xander said sullenly. "I want him gone."
"I'll do that," Blair said as he walked in. "What did you do?"
"It's a petrification spell," Xander mumbled, blinking hard. "Not supposed to do that, but it's good self-defense. He wanted to take the twins."
"Ah." Blair looked at the Social Worker. "I'm their therapist. Can I help in some way?"
"Throw him in the manure pile?" Oz suggested.
"Besides that," Blair said dryly. He sat on the arm of the couch, looking at her. "One of the major problems in their relationship was that Xander has always been forced to deal with the children. He was stuck out here raising them. And I doubt that you would get much support from their mother for adopting them considering that she signed custody over to Xander." Oz looked confused so he smiled at him. "Willow said she wasn't sure that all three of you were going to stay together, but she knew that Xander was a great father. She signed custody over to him and him alone."
"Oh," Oz said, blinking a few times. "Cool. We still have the paternity agreement too." He looked at the Social Worker. "Giles voluntarily signed over custody of the kids to Xander and I if we broke up. We have the paperwork upstairs." Blair nodded. "He was the witness."
Xander groaned and pushed himself up. "Sick," he complained quietly.
"Shh, I know," Blair said, helping him up and into the kitchen. "I'll take care of Giles in a minute."
Miri wiggled down and walked over to him, glaring at him. She kicked him in the shin, waking him up. "You bad," she accused harshly. "You leave me house and never see twins again!" She stomped her little foot.
"That's for us to decide," Oz told her calmly, looking at Giles face. "Get out. Now."
Giles walked out.
Oz held out his arms and his daughter ran over, climbing back into his lap.
Giles looked at the bare landscape he found himself. //Who knew that the boy had found that spell?// he asked himself. //This certainly isn't how I imagined the inside of my head.//
A shadowed figure came out of the gray landscape, floating up through it. He almost flinched when he recognized it as a version of Xander. Then the one from last night appeared with him. //Oh, hell is nice compared to what's going to happen to you,// the Xander told him, walking over to where he was rooted to the spot. //You had no right to do that to him.//
//Then you're not him?// Giles asked in confusion.
//No, I'm *much* more powerful than he is,// Xander smirked. //Strife, I want him punished. This is your realm. Can I help?//
//Nope, sorry,// Strife said, giving him a shrug. //Hera said that if you came to help, you could cheerlead but you couldn't help. It might tear the barrier again.//
//Ah. That'll be fine. Hurt him. A lot.// He stepped back, letting Strife in front of the sorcerer's body. He turned as he felt someone coming up behind him. //Giles?// he asked in shock.
//I felt I should be here,// the God of the Paranormal said calmly. //After all, he is me. I might be able to make him see reason.// He looked the sorcerer over. //Stupid git aren't you?// he said conversationally. //That boy has been your love for how many years and you choose to hurt him most while he's down? I wouldn't want to be in your place when you die.// He walked around the still body, nodding. //Xander did very good with that spell, it's got to have abolished his strength for the day though.// He punched the stunned man on the arm. //I will not allow you to harm those children, especially not your own.// He stepped back. //Have at him, Strife. Remember, we've got a weak spot in our left thigh.//
Strife lifted a foot and kicked him in the left thigh, watching the pained expression. He laughed when he saw the pain flare up. //Hey, this is gonna be *much* more fun than I had the other night. You should have listened.//
Xander stepped forward and put his hands on either side of Giles' face, looking into his eyes. //This isn't all his will,// he said quietly. //It's mostly his will, but there's a problem in there.// He let him go. //Giles, you need to check this out.//
Giles stepped forward and did the same thing, one eyebrow going up. //Oh, how did you get into that situation with Ethan?// he asked smugly. //If you hadn't told him how to summon the demon who had taken him, you might not be here. You're tainted, old boy.// He stepped back. //The taint is working on what he wants though. Kill him, Strife. It will stop all this.//
//The me there will be devastated,// Xander said. //Send him to Hell for a few, Strife. Maybe it'll do him more good than it did Angelus.// They disappeared.
//No fair,// Strife pouted. //I wanted him.//
//You can't have me,// the frozen Giles said. //I will get free of this, it's a fairly simple spell.//
//Not before you get back,// Strife smirked, wiggling his fingers.
Giles' consciousness fled, bringing him to a horrible place. One with his family all having been killed by his own hands. //No!// he screamed as he was brought back. He could feel the taint of the demon now. It was what took control of his mouth when he said he wanted the twins adopted. He fled the house. He needed help and he wouldn't get it there. He fled the farm after packing a few things like his passport and headed for the border. The Northern one. Only one person could help him and he was in the hospital up there.
Oz looked at the Social Worker. "Do we still have problems?" he asked lightly.
She picked up her purse and shook her head. "No, I think you're doing an excellent job in training them. I'll make a note that it was nothing, simply a matter of the child being brought in for comfort. This isn't what's worrying me. Are they safe?"
"Yeah, we're working hard at training them to be good," Oz said dryly. "They're very safe. They don't show off."
"Good. That is something I don't want to see happen." She smiled at him. "I have no doubt that you don't either. Let me know if I can help with these Initiative people. No one should be allowed to hurt a child." She walked out, leaving them alone.
"Daddy gone?" Elizabeth asked.
Blair walked into the living room with the phone. "I'm calling Grace to find out what to feed him. Giles left. He came running around the house and peeled out of here."
"Gee, what a shock," Oz said. He put Miri back down. "After you get done, I need to call Angel."
"Cool. Let me handle Xander, you deal with the kids?"
"Sure. It's something that I'm very good at." Oz walked into Xander's office, coming back with a sleeping William. "Girls, let's go into the playroom, okay?"
They followed him in, Miri asking the pertinent question. "Does this mean we're not grounded, daddy?"
"Nope, you're still grounded. I'm letting you play for now. Consider it your treat for the day."
"I'd rather have TV," she pouted.
"Hey, you know the rules. If you're good, then you can earn back a half-hour's relief a day. That includes a half-hour of TV. You've got to be extremely good though." Miri nodded and sat down, taking William from him. "Be careful, he's been wiggling a lot today."
"Okay," she said happily. "I like him."
"Good. That's a very good thing," Oz noted, giving the girls a smile. "Bring the blocks over and I'll help you play with them."
The twins squealed and went to gather their blocks up.
Blair tapped on Xander's door, walking in with a tray. "Oz decided you needed to eat, no matter what you felt like," he said as he walked in.
"I'm starving," Xander told him with a shrug. "I don't feel like eating, but I have to. Close the door?" Blair kicked it shut and walked over, handing the tray. "Oh, steak."
"Yeah, he's got to change." Blair sat on the bed. "Want to talk about it?"
"Blair, I used a skill I don't really possess to protect myself. From my lover!" He shook his head. "I don't have a problem with the concept of protecting myself."
"But against your lover is another matter?" Blair asked lightly.
Xander nodded, relaxing against the pillow. "It just seems so much worse because it was him."
"If it helps, he left again."
"Yay. Maybe he won't come back," he said coldly. "What happened to us? I never used to say things like that about him."
"But then again, things have changed recently," Blair pointed out. "Giles got cold on you and you didn't have an option. What you did saved your children a lot of grief and stress." He patted the young man on the arm. "You eat. Oz is coming up to give you William before he goes out and I'll help you downstairs after he's changed so you can watch over him." Xander nodded, pulling his tray over to cut up some of the steak. "Need anything else?"
"Something to drink?" Xander suggested. "My water's gone."
"Okay. I'll bring something up for you to drink." Blair stood up and left, closing the door behind him.
"And my sanity back," Xander said before taking a bite. "I attacked him! What was I thinking?
Xander looked at the monitoring end of the camera setup he and Oz had put out in the concrete werewolf habitat, searching for his lover. "He's gone back to hiding," he told Blair.
"He's behind the blue-looking bush," Blair told him. He had been watching for a few minutes while Xander changed William. He opened his book, making sure the baby on his stomach didn't mind if he read.
Xander chuckled. "Found him. He's chewing on the catnip plant." Blair groaned. "What? It's not like he's a cat or anything, but he likes the smell of it. He always has, even in human form."
"I guess that's cool. The one that Giles sent to us is doing better. He's started talking again. He told the Shaman he's staying with, that his name was James, he's from Seattle." He turned the page, much to the delight of Blair, who was wiggling and making happy noises. "You're going to be a clingy guy once you get old enough to have a girlfriend," he said happily. "Don't worry, women like that."
Xander snorted. "No one liked it when I was clingy."
"Xander, look at who you dated," Blair reminded him, looking up.
"Point," Xander said, grinning at him. He jumped as Oz attacked the camera. "Hey!" He tapped the monitor, shaking his head. "He knocked that one out."
"Want me to check the outside?"
"No, I'll go. I could use the exercise. Keep the doors locked, I'll knock." He walked out, making sure the tranq gun in his hand was loaded before he walked out the door. He stopped when he saw fresh footsteps, frowning at them. He walked the opposite way around the enclosure, coming to a place where a brick had been almost moved. He touched it to make sure it was still solid, dusting the broken sealant from his hands. He jumped as he heard a stick snap and brought up the gun, pointing it around. His hearing said the guy was one way but his smell... He shook his head and stayed where he was. He was in the open, whoever it was was going to have to come out to get him. "I know you're here," he called. "Come out or I'm going to come searching for you."
One of the barn cats screamed, making him jump. He fired at a shape he could see in the area around the barn. He ducked as he heard footsteps, firing into the stomach that was about a foot away from his face. The man fell on top of him, pinning him to the ground. Xander fired another round into him, making sure he was down. "Blair!" he yelled.
Blair came jogging out with his handcuffs and pulled the guy off him. He dragged him up to the porch and hitched him to the railing. He walked in and turned on the porch light, coming back out to see who they had caught. "Hey, I know him," Blair sighed. He walked back inside and grabbed his phone, dialing his home base. "Hey, darling. Yeah, I was followed up here. No, Xander tranquilized him. Look outside, Sam." He snorted. "Yeah, that's a full moon. Come get him or do I call the locals?" He nodded and hung up, picking up Xander's phone to dial the local emergency number. "Hi, this is Federal Agent Blair Sandburg. I'm out at the Harris farm and a fugitive that's been tracking me just showed up. No, he's unconscious. Yeah, they'll come get him from you. No, come get him or I'll hurt him worse." He hung up and turned to find Xander panting and leaning against the door. "You okay?"
"All but this," Xander said, turning to show him the stick sticking out of his back. "It kinda hurts, Blair."
"Okay. Spike!" The vampire came out of Oz's office, where he had been surfing the internet for demon chatrooms. "Can you help Xander? I don't have more than basic first aid."
Spike walked over and roughly turned Xander, frowning at the stick. "That's not a good thing. You got stitchin' stuff?"
"Yeah, in the first aid kit. We keep some in case we get hurt in the barn." Xander walked over to one of the sturdy side tables, sitting down on it so he could pull off his shirt with Blair's help. He liked this shirt, he wouldn't let Spike cut it off him.
Blair walked out to meet the car coming up the driveway with it's sirens and lights on. Spike came back into the living room, standing behind him. "Hit a bad spot," he noted, clamping the wood with the pliers he had found in the closet. He gently wiggled the wood out, then bent to make sure all the wood was out. He licked the wound a few times to clean up the blood coming out, then grabbed the first aide kit so he could get the stitching package. He quickly worked the needle and thread through Xander's back, ignoring his hissing and pain. "There, all done," he said, putting everything away and tossing out the rest into the nearest trashcan, including the needle. "Want me to go do a turn around the cage?"
"Please," Xander said. "I want a beer." He stood up and walked into the kitchen, his cane thumping in the quiet house.
Spike walked out and did a lap around the cage, stopping to check on the door. He walked in since it was open and saw Oz sleeping against one of the support poles. He took the drugged steak and sniffed it, making sure it wasn't poisonous, then walked out. He made sure the door was closed and locked behind him, then walked up to the house, showing the steak off to Xander.
"I wondered why he attacked the camera," Xander said as he took a sip of his juice. "I decided that a beer was too dangerous," he explained at the confused look at his glass. "I don't want to start drinking for the wrong reasons."
"Good." Spike went to toss the steak at Blair, who grimaced. "Found it in the cage."
"No wonder he attacked the camera," Blair said, handing it off to the cops. "Here, he drugged our, their, dog."
The officer looked at it, then at the house. "Sir, we know they only have cats and horses." He put it into a bag. "Don't worry, we know. I got to answer the call when that one guy was found." He looked up at Spike. "Everyone okay? He loose?"
"Nah, he's knocked out. The steak has barbiturates." He waved at the guy in the back of the car, grinning at him. "Never come up here again," he called. Then he went back inside.
Blair looked at the officer. "That's cool, that you don't spread it around but that you want warned."
"Sometime's it's just better to pretend to ignore some things in this town, sir." He handed over the paper. "Who's coming to pick him up?"
"Someone from the FBI. And if it's my wife, tell her I don't want her to do it alone and have her call me." He signed the form and handed it back, taking his handcuffs from the second officer. "Watch him closely, he's escaped custody three times already. Including out of a federal prison."
Both officers looked at the man in the car then nodded. "We will," the one said, getting back in. He got back out and hitched the guy in, making sure his hands were securely tied down to the bar in the back. Then he got back in and left. The second officer followed him, making sure nothing was happening.
Blair shook his head and walked back up to the house but had to pound on the door. Spike had locked him out.
Oz walked into his bedroom and stopped, sniffing the air. He walked over to the bed, sniffing his mate's back, which was uncovered. He saw the mark, frowning at it. He walked out, tracing the smell to the original owner of the spit, slamming Spike's door open. "You kissed Xander?" he asked, his voice deadly quiet.
"I licked off some of the blood. One of Blair's serial idiots came after him and you last night. He knocked him down and a stick got stuck in him." He backed away from the cold look. "I didn't bite 'im, Oz, I promise."
Xander walked up behind Oz and wrapped his arms around his lover's stomach. "He licked it clean. It was a free treat," he whispered. "I didn't think you'd mind. He was nice enough to stitch it for me."
Oz nodded and looked at the head on his shoulder, as well as he could. "You okay?"
"Yeah. One of Blair's serial killers tracked him up here. He drugged you and jumped me when I went out to check on you. Oh, you attacked a camera. We need to replace it."
"Okay. What about the stick?"
"He tried to jump me and I tranqed him at close range. He landed on top of me and I landed on top of the stick."
"Oh. Okay." Oz looked at Spike. "Thanks. Sorry, I was tracking the scent." He turned, taking Xander with, missing the grin Xander shot at Spike. He dragged his lover back into their room, picking him up to toss him on the bed. "Stay there while I shower off the dust."
Xander pouted. "Does that mean that you wanted something?" He looked at the clock. "We've got four hours before we have to leave."
Oz licked his lips as he looked over his mate's body. "Yeah, I want. You?"
"Hey, as long as we can find a position where I won't ache, then I'm good for it," Xander told him. Oz nodded and walked into the bathroom, going to take a shower.
Xander smirked as he got up to close and lock the door.