Doing Whatever It Takes.
Xander looked across the desk at the lawyer's office, taking in Giles' normal appearance. It was like he wasn't affected at all by their breakup.
The lawyer cleared his throat. "Are you *sure* you don't want part of the stores, Rupert?" the lawyer asked. They had decided to settle the issue of the palimony agreement with him, there was less stress with someone else being in the middle.
"No, I want no part of them."
"You could force him to sell a few of the them," the lawyer advised. "That would be legal under the agreement you three drew up, a judge would uphold this."
"No, I want no part of that filth. Besides, I am more than able to see to my own needs." He gave the lawyer his 'serious' look. "There's no need to take money that would be feeding the children from them."
"All right." The lawyer made a note on the paper. "You are aware that you're allowed to pick a spot on the other side of the property and build or move a house there so you can have visitation?" he asked.
"I am, but I'm not going to live that close to them. The children and I don't get along like that."
"I see," the lawyer said, glancing at Oz. "Then we should probably settle the matter of visitation."
"I'd like the opportunity to see them one weekend a month," Giles said calmly. The lawyer looked at him in shock. "As I stated earlier, the children and I don't get along that well. Xander has truly raised them without me. I would like to continue to see and watch over them, but I doubt the boys would be willing to give me longer or more frequent visitations."
"Gee, you did kidnap them," Xander noted.
"I stopped myself from taking them past Los Angeles," Giles said stiffly. "I was confused, Xander, and hurting."
"You were selfish and wanting to hurt us," Oz corrected quietly. "You came back too quickly to really have been confused. Besides, you got to LA the next morning. That would have been forcing yourself to go on instead of coming back. It's only a two hour trip."
"Save it," Xander said coldly. "If he wants to see them every two weeks for a weekend, that's fine with me, but I want a clause in there that they're not to leave this town except for prior arrangement and emergencies."
"That would be a stipulation that you have the right to make," the lawyer agreed. Xander looked confused. "This will all have to be finalized in front of a judge. I thought Oz had told you that."
"No, Oz had forgotten about that part," Oz admitted. He looked at Xander. "An informal hearing where the judge hears what we've worked out. Unless he sees a serious problem with our arrangements, he won't say anything."
"Compensation and visitation are the two most hotly contested and watched over parts of the process," the lawyer told Xander. "As long as it looks fair to him, he shouldn't say anything." He looked at his watch. "We actually have the preliminary meeting in about an hour. If we can get all this agreed upon now, then that might be the only meeting that we'll need."
"I only want them one weekend a month," Giles said firmly. "Any more than that and they would be too attached to me again. This way I can slip back into being an uncle."
"And William?" Xander asked, staring into his eyes. He saw the answer there before Giles said anything. "And Blair?"
"I will allow the experts to guide me on my opinions of her remaining open."
"What?" the lawyer asked.
"One of the twins is a herm," Oz told him. "We, with the doctor, agreed not to have her closed. Giles has been on a kick to get Xander closed though, that's one of our major problems."
"I would never harm our daughter." Xander got up and left the room. Giles looked away from Oz's cold stare. "I will not mention anything to Blair about what she is," he agreed quietly, looking at the lawyer.
"And are you going to insist that she be closed?" Oz asked.
"No, I won't," Giles said coldly, looking at him. "Though I fear for her mental state, I will not mention that to the Judge when we appear before him."
"Guys," the lawyer said, breaking up the staring contest. "Is it really better for her?"
"Yeah, it is," Oz told him, looking at him. "Actually, it's supposed to be more mentally healthful than closing it and never telling her, or making her face up to it when she's eighteen." He leaned back in his chair. "That's why Xander and I decided to leave her open until she's old enough to make that decision for herself. Our therapists, and hers and Xander's doctor, sat down and discussed it and then talked to us. They presented all the evidence and we considered it. Giles was all for it at first, and then he got pissed at Xander, who had to have his reopened due to bad workmanship when it was closed originally." He tapped his fingers restlessly on the table then looked at the lawyer again. "Giles didn't start wanting to have both of them closed until around the same time Xander and he started to get real bad again. Somehow it became a punishment for Giles, to want Xander to be closed off. Even though it's impossible," he said, glaring at Giles. "Blair's now almost three and everyone agreed that it can't be done now, not without hurting her psychologically and physically."
"I see," the lawyer said, staring at the document in front of him. "Then we won't bring that up. All right?" he looked at Giles, who shrugged. "If you do decide to pursue this issue, it will probably come down to a real trial, with witnesses and all that. I'm not saying this to discourage you, but to make sure you understand the ramifications of your decision." He looked at Oz. "You understand?"
"Yup." Oz stared at Giles. "Of course, if it does come down to that, there's going to be some very pissed people in this town." He saw Giles blanche and stroke his ribs. "Ones who might even take it out on us again, just like they did at the store."
Giles glared at him. "I would never do anything to encourage the town to try and kill you, Oz. You know that."
"And I know some people only need an excuse," Oz said with a light shrug.
"What about arrangements for the children's education," the lawyer said, breaking into their little argument. "How is that going to be settled?"
"Miri's in pre-school. The twins are going to be able to go next year when Miri starts at Doyle's school, if he's able to take them on. If not, we're looking at the options now." Oz looked at the lawyer. "Our nanny is very good at helping the friend that's staying with us right now with some extra lessons."
"Spike?" Giles spat.
"Wesley. Actually, he and our nanny seem to be getting very close."
"You're letting Wesley near the children?" Giles asked in shock. "That's much worse than Spike."
"Not really. Wesley's working on his 'can't feed' problem somewhere safe. He already reached bottom when he attacked Angel and Cordy to feed."
"Do I really want to know?" the lawyer asked.
"No," Oz told him. "Our friend is a vampire who's having fights between his mind and his inner demon. He's been having problems feeding. Spike brought him to us after he attacked another vampire and drained him."
The lawyer laughed. "Oz, if you didn't sound so serious," he snorted, "I'd say you believed that."
"He does," Giles said, his eyes narrowing.
"From one werewolf to another, Giles, shut up. You aren't going to be allowed to hurt the pack." Oz went from glaring at Giles to giving the lawyer a concerned look. "You never wondered why we have such a high death and disappearance rate in this town?"
"I try to ignore those things," the lawyer mumbled as shifted some of the papers around. "Is this...person dangerous?"
"Not now. We've got him on a feeding tube so he doesn't have to drink it from a bag or anything." Oz shifted so he could put his feet up on Xander's chair. "Spike actually found our nanny for us, she's a cat demon, and mostly the kids love her. Miri's a little pissed at her because she picks on Spike, but otherwise we're good on the education and raising angle."
"How do you afford a nanny?" the lawyer asked.
"Xander pays her a little bit out of his trust fund from his father and she lives in the house. Besides, she owed Spike a life debt. She's young and from the few hints she dropped he saved her from going out with someone very nasty while drunk for the first and last time."
"Is the trust only in his name?" the lawyer asked.
"I want nothing of Ethan's," Giles spat, glaring at Oz. "Except his books."
"Which he left to Xander and Miri," Oz reminded him cooly. "We found a letter for you and we've put it aside. I think Xander has it out in the SUV."
"These books would be...."
"Magic books," Oz told him, giving him a faint smile. "Yeah, we deal in the strange. Miri has the gift, passed down through Xander. Xander and I have a very firm grasp on Miri's education in that area too. Besides, we got these just before we kicked Giles out. They're Xander's, held in trust for Miri when she's old enough to learn from them, as stated in Ethan's will as sixteen. The age of consent in magic."
"And what will she be doing with *chaos* magic books? Learning to be like her grandfather?"
"Better that than someone who hates what he is and tries to abuse others with the powers he hates," Xander said as he walked back in. He tossed an envelope onto the table in front of Giles, everyone watching as it slid off. "In his journal, he said it was an explanation for you. He said he found an older prophecy about Miri and that she would need to know what Chaos can do to counter it." He sat down in the seat next to his old one, letting Oz keep his feet up. "Basically, Giles, I'm not sure why you care so much about Miri. She's *my* daughter. I could almost see it if we were talking about Tigger, but not Miri. You've known she's had that particular gift since she was four months old." He tossed a worn, hardbacked journal onto the table. "By the way, you left this in my sock drawer," he noted, watching as Giles slowly blanched and reached for the book. "Not knowing what it was, I started to read it. It's really fascinating." He looked at Oz. "Did you know that Miri used to make things glow when she was younger, until Giles stopped her from doing it by spanking her?"
"No, I didn't," Oz said, glaring at Giles. "Supervised custody for right now."
The lawyer sighed. "I have no idea what you three are talking about. Can we please get back to the *mundane* and deal with it for a few minutes. Xander, he's asked to take custody of those books."
"By state law, since Xander inherited it, he can't have them," Oz reminded the lawyer. "It's in an iron-clad trust. Xander's allowed to hold and maintain them, but he doesn't officially own them."
"I see," the lawyer said, tapping his pens a few times. "So, unless Giles wants to file as a trust- holder for Miriam, then there's nothing he can do about this one?"
"Technically, I am a trustee for one of Miriam's trusts, from my people."
"Yup, you are," Xander said mock-sweetly. "And I checked on that. How much of it is left, Rupert?" he asked.
"I haven't touched it since we put the money in from the sale of her lands when we bought it," Giles said stiffly. "We've lived off what Oz and I could bring in."
Xander snorted. "Gee, then how did we live when I was the only one working? Or when we were building the house and we had the insurance money from the store?"
"Well," Giles said, shifting. "I do admit to having the insurance money...."
"And he did support us for a few months," Oz joined in quietly. "His stripping was what was got us through a few months. There were some months in there that I was worried about eating, not to mention Xander's therapy bills."
"That brings up another subject," the lawyer interrupted quickly before the three men got into a physical fight. "Are there any outstanding bills that are held by the family?"
"There's a few blemishes on our credit history," Oz told him. "I got a copy of my credit report and there was a credit card on there that I don't remember."
"I had one of those," Xander admitted, "but I put it on your dresser when I realized it had your name on it. I thought it was mixed-up mail. We were still living above the store."
"I don't remember that. But I could be mistaken and that might have been part of the case of theft that we had in the store. I've contacted that company and told them that I never got a card and I just now found out about it. I'm making payments on that."
"Do you..." Xander started to offer but Oz shook his head. "Okay." He looked at the lawyer again. "Anything else I need to impart?"
"We do need to work out some of the final details," the lawyer said quietly, staring at him. "Can you handle that or are you willing to let Oz do this part also?"
"I'll be here," Xander told him. "Later, I might not be all there, but I'll be here during this part."
"All right then. About the title to the house?"
"We're keeping it," Oz said, offering Giles a chance to protest. "We live there and we're not selling the house. His name on it's a formality, it was bought with the insurance money from the store and the store was in Miri's name."
"I see." The lawyer made a note on the papers in front of him. "And the horses?"
"Mine," Xander said quietly. "We ride more often." He considered for a second, tipping his head off to the side. "I want to hear his demands so we can counter them. He's devious enough to blast all this away."
"I will want part of the ranch's proceeds if it ever starts to make money," Giles said stiffly. "I'd also like to have a once-monthly visitation with the children, though I am amenable to Xander's stipulation. I want all of Ethan's books removed from the house and put into storage so no accidents happen while Xander's using them." He swallowed at the hard, cold look Xander was giving him. "I also want to have my name taken off the title for the land so I'm not responsible for any money that might be owed on the estate."
"That would knock you out of the running for any proceeds from the farm," Xander pointed out. "Not that we have plans of expanding it into a business. I have enough working on the small one I'm starting again." He looked at the lawyer. "That's another thing I haven't heard mentioned. I had started a small candle making and distribution business, but it was waylaid while I was in the hospital. I'm working on starting it up again, but it was never covered in the palimony agreement. Is he entitled to some of that?"
"He may be," the lawyer said cautiously. "How massive is this?"
"He's earning about a three percent profit," Oz told him. "Not much, about what you'd expect from a home business in it's first year."
"Ah. Then I'm not seeing much of a matter for him to want."
"I think Xander's wondering if Giles is suddenly going to become vindictive again," Oz explained. "He's been known to get very petty about Xander at times, up to and including keeping the truth of his parentage from him since they'd first met."
"Oh." The lawyer looked at Giles. "Really?"
"I thought it for the best. Ethan was not the best sort."
"And you are?" Xander snorted. "Try it, Giles, and watch how fast I can talk about how the twins refused to be near you for the first six months of their lives." He leaned forward. "Or how you sent me to therapy. Or even how you tried to pressure me into switching from someone who was helping us to someone who would want me to be on medication that I don't need?"
"Is this true?" the lawyer asked.
"Yup," Oz said dryly. "We have a therapist, Blair. He started out as Xander's, he had some issues about his suicide attempt in high school and becoming suicidal again. The issue of him being a herm and having to be reopened due to a problem with the original closings came up, which led to more confusion and frankly to Xander becoming suicidal again." He swallowed hard. "When we started to have problems, Blair agreed to talk to all three of us, trying to help us work it out."
"I went through *four* other attempts at therapy, all of which thought I was delusional because I had been raped," Xander said cooly. "Blair's the first one who said that not only was a woman raping a man possible, but he managed to make me see how very deeply I had been hurt by that and everything in our relationships. Blair's not only our therapist, he's our best friend. He's let me call him at all hours of the night with doubts, no questions asked. He's even come to us when I was in the hospital with my knee injury. I *hit* Giles that day for what he said. And Blair stuck up for me."
"And that would be after Giles asked to go to another therapist?" the lawyer asked. Everyone nodded. "I see. Is Blair still helping you?"
"I see him once a month now," Xander admitted. "Just to have someone to talk to about the stresses of getting better and stuff." He touched the head of his cane. "I have gotten nothing but shit from Giles for most of our relationship, ever since we moved out to the farm really. I will admit this much, if he tries something hurtful, I will talk about the mental and emotional abuse I've been through at his hands. And I'm not going to be delicate and nice about it. I can very graphically describe what it's like when you hear your lover admit that you don't exist to someone." He looked at Giles. "Do you understand?" he asked softly.
"You can't threaten him," Oz said gently, laying a hand on Xander's. "Yeah, he deserves it, but you can't do that. If you want to talk about it to sway the judge then I'm behind you, but you don't want to stoop to his level and become manipulative."
Xander looked at him. "Oz, for my children, I will go to hell and bring back the worst demon I can find to kill him. No questions asked and no thought given."
Giles shuddered when Xander looked at him again. "I have no intention of harming the children," he protested. "I do want what's best for all thre...four of them."
The lawyer checked his watch and stood up. "Maybe we should start for the courthouse, we don't want to be late." He looked at Oz, who put his feet on the floor. "I'll see you there, boys."
"Sure," Oz said, standing up and helping Xander to stand, handing him his cane. He gave the lawyer one last look. "I know you're going to pick a side, we're not pissed." He and Xander walked out together.
The lawyer looked at Giles. "Are you sure you want to fight with them? They're insane you know."
Giles smiled. "I know. Both of them have a touch of it. Xander's also very emotional. Something to do with his hormones." They walked out together.
Xander stood up in front of the Judge. "You can't do that," he argued. "*My* daughter was left those, not him." He glared at Giles. "I hold them in trust for my daughter. Miri is not Rupert's daughter and never has been! He's been trying to keep her from becoming happy ever since we lost the store."
"Be that as it may, he says those books contain dangerous things," the Judge said, talking down to him.
"I'll show you dangerous," Xander said, turning to look at Giles. "Out, Oz." Oz didn't move. "Out, Oz!" he shouted, then pulled a bag out of his pocket. "You want to see dangerous?" he hissed, opening the bag and tossing it on Rupert's chest. He felt Oz hop up behind him and step away from him. "Like I said, *Rupert*, I will go to Hell and bring back the worst demon to deal with you if I have to for my family."
Everyone watched in horror as Giles started to change, his fur sprouting along his bare arms and around his collar.
"Xander!" Oz yelled, grabbing him and making the younger man look at him. "What did you do?" he hissed.
"I'm protecting the children," Xander said calmly. "Unlike Giles, I worked on the translation about Miri. It wasn't about demons, it was about her choices and her upbringing. He was going to make her into the worst thing he could think of with how he was training her. He was going to turn her into Ethan."
Oz looked at him in shock. "You never mentioned that."
"I got the official version of the translation from the Council a few weeks back, along with a letter with this substance." He pointed at where Giles was starting to cry. "They told me what was really going on. His journal told me that he knew. He was either going to take her abilities from her or he was going to ruin her from being good. Neither of which I can allow to happen to the children." He got free of Oz's hands and looked at Giles, then at the Judge. "As you can see, dangerous is nothing at all like those books. Giles has managed to infect himself with a few things that aren't human. Including what caused most of our problems, correct Rupert?"
Rupert started to cry for real. "I had to," he screamed, glaring at Xander.
"No, you had to be honest with us," Xander told him. "I would have accepted the fact that Miri could become dangerous if not trained properly. Breaking her spirit isn't training her properly though, you were making her a puppet to your will."
"She would have been *safe*," Giles spat.
"No, she would have been dead, she's still fighting it," Xander told him. He looked at the Judge. "He and my daughter share an affinity, but hers is much different than his. I have talked to the people who know about these things, and have ignored most of them when all they said was to kill her spirit." He took a deep breath. "Even if you order me to hand over Ethan's things, they won't go to him. My father spelled them so Giles can never hold them. They're also spelled so that no one but Miriam, myself, Oz, and any other such affinitied people in the house can open them. They pose no risk to her, or to anyone in the household. I use them for research purposes. Miri, when she's older, will have to choose how to use them herself. I will be guiding her if at all possible, but I hope she'll be making the correct choices from how we raised her."
The judge looked startled and he glanced at Giles. "What is that? The thing that you threw at him?"
"It was something to show my true nature," Giles complained. He glared at Xander. "Who gave you the recipe for it?"
"Your aunt," Xander told him. "The younger one. She said she knew I'd need it." Xander crossed his arms and glared at the judge. "If we want to get technical, I can put forward an abuse reason for our breaking up. I was hoping to spare myself that humility."
"Your honor," the lawyer said, jumping up. "We all know Mr. Harris isn't that stable. He's routinely seeing a therapist."
Xander pulled something out of the briefcase beside him. "And I have documentation here from my therapist about why I was seeing him. The most irrational I was during our whole relationship was two suicidal periods." He handed the paper over to the bailiff, who handed it to the judge. "I also have a statement from his wife, who he's in practice with, about some of our relationship problems."
"Are you changing your reason for the filing, Mr. Harris?" the judge asked.
"Please. I will protect my children, even if it means humiliating myself and everyone in this town."
"I see. And what about Mr. Giles' feelings on the subject?"
"He who as much as chained me to the house, took away all my self-esteem, and did everything but beat me physically shouldn't have say in the matter." He pulled out another group of papers and handed them over. "This is an issue we've been dealing with for the last few days. This is the adoption agreement the twin's biological mother signed."
The judge took them and read them through. "She didn't sign her last name?"
"No, and we've been trying to rectify that part," Oz said, coming out of his shock. "Xander," he hissed, looking at him. "Do you know how dangerous that was?"
"And I would like to know why you didn't want your other lover near you," the judge said calmly.
"Because I'm the same thing he is," Oz said dryly. "Only I've been actively looking for control over the wolf. I've kept myself safely hidden away when I was dangerous, striving to keep ahead of Miri's ability to pick locks."
"You lock yourself up?" the judge asked.
"I have a very nice concrete building where I go when I feel myself losing control. It has a keypad lock and a key lock on both sides. I've always done my best to keep myself and everyone around me safe."
"Then how did I become this way, Oz?" Giles snarled.
"Miri let him out one night," Xander explained. "She still gets out at night, but now she's more controlled, she just visits the horses."
"I see," the judge said carefully. "And can you explain how you did what you just did in scientific terms?"
Xander nodded. "It all has to do with chemical triggers. What he and Oz are come out when certain chemical triggers in the blood are activated. This substance starts a basic allergic reaction which also triggers those chemicals. At least that's how it was explained to me in the letter Giles' aunt sent."
Oz cleared his throat. "We are amenable to a reasonable settlement of our assets and such, but we do also have a right to be concerned about Giles' relationship with the children. His recent ability to blame whatever's wrong with him on something else has become monumental. I, personally, have no concern about mine or my children's safety, but then again I'm not the one who was psychologically damaged by this relationship. Not the way Xander was. I also have no fear of Xander, or his studies. The only problem I have is that Giles seems to be manipulating Xander into extreme action."
"He's too emotionally unstable to be left alone," Giles countered.
"Who said I'm leaving him?" Oz asked quietly. "Xander doesn't do well when he's alone, but I'm not leaving him alone, Rupert. I'd never do that to Xander or our children. And yes, if we have to, we can have the issue of Blair out here and now. I'll send Xander out of the room so he doesn't have to listen to any of your prejudicial remarks about being a herm."
"Blair is the therapist?" the judge asked.
"No, Blair is our daughter, who we decided as a *group* to keep open. Giles has suddenly decided that he regrets the decision because he know it hurts Xander. It's some weird way of punishing Xander."
"I see," the judge said, putting down the papers. "You kept her open?" Oz nodded. "Why?"
"Because of the trauma of learning what you really are when you're sixteen or eighteen," Xander sighed, sitting down and putting his injured leg up. "Sorry, but I can't stand anymore. It's starting to ache."
"Need your pain pills?" Oz asked gently.
"No, I'm good," Xander told him, giving him a faint grin. He looked at the judge again. "Our therapist, my doctor, and we all sat down and discussed current theories, what might happen while she's in school, and the problems that I had when I found out at sixteen. We decided, together, that it would be for the best to keep her whole until she could make that decision for herself."
"Also, at the time, we weren't sure which biological side she fell on," Oz noted for him. "We're raising her as her biological gender but we're not hiding what she is from her, not the way most kids are."
"And your therapist thought this was a *good* idea?" the judge asked.
"Both Blair and his wife, Samantha Waters," Oz told him, sitting down also and taking Xander's hand. "They were very real when they reminded us of what children can be like to each other. Which is why none of our children will be in public schools if we can help it."
"Also," Xander put in, "Blair's too old to be fixed now. We didn't find out she was genetically a female until it was really too late to have her fixed. Not that I'm happy with the idea of fixing her. I would have gladly taken the teasing for being what I am if I had known, instead of wondering why they were picking on me when I supposedly wasn't any different." He shifted uncomfortably. "I was always told I was one when the other kids picked on me. Hopefully, our daughter won't feel that she's bad once she finds out what she is and the other kids taunt her."
"Which they'll do anyway you think?" the judge asked.
"We know," Oz countered. "We're a gay couple. She's going to get it just for that. She'll get it for being our daughter anyway, with who we are, and she'll get it doubly for not having what all the other kids consider to be a necessity. We've raised our girls to be very careful about what they ask us for, not only in toys but also in silly clothing choices and the other faddish things that kids can come up with. They're very aware that we don't have unlimited money and that we want them to have the best, but not everything."
"Our last splurge was a few sets of lawn toys," Xander told him. "Because Miri hopped on my replaced knee and dislocated it. That was a matter of me still wanting to play with the girls, but not being willing to be put through that sort of pain again."
"Ah, yes, I'd heard something about a physical disability," the judge noted. "How bad is it?"
"I have a replaced knee. I have nerve damage around that knee. I have very little remaining damage in my other leg, which started out with the greater loss of feeling. I have some problems with my back and with standing for long periods of time. I'm back in physical rehab because they had to replace my replacement knee recently." He squeezed Oz's hand. "I was still partially paralyzed, but starting to recover, when I found out Giles had gleefully kept my father from me all these years. I was so upset that I had a major set-back over that week. It took Spike and Oz to get me back on track of wanting to walk again. I actually got so lost during my first bout of rehab that I punched Giles for some of his hurtful comments, the first time I had fought back. People had been trying for over a year to get me to fight back against him, and then I snapped. It took Blair *weeks* to get me to say his name again. It took my physical therapist three days to not let me come back until I was calmed down again. And he was right, I would have hurt myself trying to prove Giles wrong."
"He knew who your father was?" the judge asked. Xander nodded. "For how long?"
"From what he said that one day, since the day he first saw me. He said I looked exactly like him." He leaned forward. "Judge, you've got to understand. High school is usually pretty rough for guys. For some of us, it was rougher than most. At one point in time, I was suicidal due to all the stress I was under, and yeah, a caring ear would have helped, even if my father might have had his own agenda. Maybe if my father had been allowed to know that I existed, and vice-versa, then I wouldn't have gone through two years of mental hell with Giles. All I really needed was someone outside the situation that I could have really leaned on and I might have left him soon enough to know who I am now." He laughed bitterly. "Now, I have to go back through the whole process of finding myself again. This time, I won't have to worry about others think, but I will have to worry about my children and Oz. According to my therapist, if I had let this go on any longer, I would never have been able to break free. Having my back and knee crushed by that ceiling forced me to become strong enough to kick him out of my life. And admittedly, I gave him one last chance, and he blew it." He glanced at Giles. "Personally, I think he only deserves a kick in the ass, but we are willing to compensate him for not killing me." He relaxed, having said all he wanted to. Except one thing. "Though, I want in writing that he will not take the children out of the town on his visitation unless it's an emergency or it's prearranged. I already went through the hell of him kidnaping the twins once. I don't want to go through that again."
The judge looked between the two groups. "This is one of the messiest split's I've ever seen, inside or out of marital bonds." He cleared his throat. "I will be basing my decisions on the palimony agreement you three signed." Giles started to open his mouth but he was poked by an elbow. "Yes, I've heard how you never read it, Mr. Giles, you should have. As for the matter of the equity in the house and surrounding lands..."
"If I may, we're more than willing to put everything into the children's names," Oz said quickly. "We and they love the house and we'd like to keep it."
"That's fine. Then you can pay Mr. Giles a third of it's value, as assessed by the tax assessors. As for the matter of Mr. Harris' trust from his father, uncle, and aunt, I see no evidence that suggests that any attempt was made to share with the other members of the family. As most of it's in an irrevocable trust, there's nothing I can do about that, including those books. Young man, I would have you be very careful with how you train your children though."
"I am," Xander said softly. "I'm training them to respect what they are and what they can do. I hope they'll never willingly hurt anyone, they've been taught to defend but not to attack unless it's necessary."
"Good," the judge said calmly. "I will be watching the local papers for incidents that have to do with your daughter, and if I find one that bothers me I will be calling you back in here to explain that to me." Xander nodded. "That leaves the matter of Miriam Harris' estate, and Mr. Giles' guardianship of it." He cleared his throat. "Have you any idea what the people who gave it to her would have wanted?"
Xander nodded. "Definitely," he said, pulling out one last paper. "This is the statement I got from them. Her phone number's on the bottom if you'd like to talk to her physically." He handed it to the bailiff.
The judge took it and read the complex statement. "I see," he said quietly, putting it down. "We will be deciding on visitation rights and a few other things during our next meeting. I want to have a chance to talk to this person."
"That would be fine," Oz agreed for them. "Our days are pretty hectic, but we can make an exception for this. The college will allow me to have more excused absences for court dates."
The judge smiled. "Good. Mr. Harris?"
"All I have is therapy and the kids," he said with a shrug. "We do have a nanny now. She lives with us so that's not a problem."
"Good. I'll set you next date at..." The judge flipped through his calendar. "Three weeks from this Tuesday. I will expect to see briefs on what everyone wants?" Everyone nodded. "And Mr. Osbourne and Harris, I'll expect you to come in with a lawyer." He glanced at the one in the room with them. "I realize that this switch happened earlier today, so I will give you enough time to find someone decent to represent your interests." He leaned back in his chair. "We will also be taking up the issue of custody." He held up a hand before Xander could get out a word.
"No, I don't want them that way," Giles said, rubbing his ribs again. "The children and I could never get along for that period of time. I really only want visitation once a month and those books." He puffed himself up. "They are dangerous, and it is something that I'll end up having to fix someday," he said as self-importantly as he could before walking out.
The judge looked at the lone lawyer in the court room. "Maybe you should calm down his histrionics," he suggested blandly.
Xander snickered. "We always knew he had a bit of drama queen in him," he noted, almost smiling. The judge glared at him. "What? He said he acted while he was in college to earn extra money." He heaved himself up and grabbed his cane. "Was there anything else we needed to do?"
"Yes, become sane," their lawyer noted dryly. "Your Honor, can you really trust any motive of this obviously emotionally unstable man? He has admitted to being suicidal in the past."
"Yes, in the *past*," Xander said in a 'hello' voice. "As in over two years ago. All I am right now is actively..." Oz put a hand over his mouth.
"What he's trying to say is keep baiting him and you won't like the consequences," Oz explained dryly. The judge coughed. "Sorry, but we do have people who really...like Xander and have been known to want to help him stay ... pure. I have no doubt that we're going to have to hide what happened today, otherwise our former lawyer will need some medical attention." He removed his hand from his lover's mouth. "Right?" he asked, giving Xander a hard look.
Xander nodded. "True, we do have some friends who would do anything to keep me from having to beat the crap out of Giles for hurting the kids again." He stepped into the aisle and started for the door. "And no, that wasn't a threat, it was a warning. Do be careful," he called over his shoulder before he left.
Oz shook his head as he gathered up their things. "He meant that in the nicest possible way of course," he told the judge, who still did not look pleased. "Rupert was actually beaten up once by one of our friends because he didn't like how Rupert was treating Xander. Some people feel very protective of Xander and then don't tell him after they've done something like that." He left the courtroom too, going out to find Xander talking to ...someone in a trench coat. "Yeah, that was *real* smooth," he noted as he tossed their bags into the back seat. He turned and the guy in the coat was gone, and Xander was climbing into the car. "And that was about?" he asked.
"Get in," Xander ordered.
"Oh, one of those sort of things." Oz climbed in. "And?"
"That was someone who's been watching out for me for Ethan. He said he's *seen* Giles getting his for what he's doing." He shrugged. "He also to trust the twins when the time came, it would all work out okay."
"Oh." Oz blinked a few times. "Ethan's going to come back and beat up Giles?"
"Nope, not what he said. He said he saw Giles being beaten up by a few him's and a few Spike's."
Oz shook his head. "Whatever, I don't want to know." He started the engine and pulled away from the curb, heading for home.
Xander looked up as he felt someone enter the room, giving Homer a grim look. "How was patrol?"
"Better than usual. We actually had a few demons stop us and tell us to pass on hugs for you and Oz." He smirked at the confused look. "That's what we felt like too. Sileya's out in the barn, doing a last pass through."
"So's Oz." Xander put aside his book. "Listen, Homer, this is going to become a messy split and we don't want you guys in the middle."
"Oh, yeah, I remember those from a few friends at home. Don't worry, I'm firmly on your side." He patted the older guy on the shoulder and then went up to his room.
Sileya walked in a few minutes later and stopped long enough to give Xander a hug. "We're supporting you guys." She followed her boyfriend up to their room.
Xander was still looking stunned when Oz walked in. Oz snickered and pulled Xander in for a hug. "It's okay." He sat down beside him, carefully moving the book aside. "Are you okay with this?"
"Yeah, I am," Xander admitted, giving Oz a faint grin. "I said I was willing to go to Hell to stop him from hurting the kids. I guess I proved it, huh," he said, losing his smile and looking down at his feet. "Are you pissed.... I mean about the powder?"
"Just warn me next time," Oz said calmly. "I would have liked to have known what you had up your sleeve. That was kinda a very bad surprise."
"Sorry." Xander gave him a perfunctory hug. "I'll tell you next time."
"Good. As long as we got some communication going." Oz tipped Xander's head up. "We okay?"
"We're good," Xander said with a grin. "Oh, look at this," he said, picking up the book. "I found another reference to that statue, the one that traps witches and sorcerers." He showed Oz the page.
"It says it's in town," Oz noted with a frown.
"But's it's supposed to be in benevolent hands. This and other books said it's supposed to have a guardian." He kissed Oz's cheek. "So I was wrong, it's not something that Sileya'll have to worry about this year."
"As long as the guardian holds, I don't see why she'll have to deal with it at all," Oz pointed out.
"Because we have a prophecy stating that she'll have to deal with it."
"Ah. Okay." Oz shrugged and picked up one of Xander's feet so he could rub the swollen ankle. "Do we know when?"
"Just sometime in the next decade." Oz looked at him. "Yup, I said *decade*, Oz," he said happily. "And there's stuff in there from later on too."
"Whoa," Oz breathed, then shook himself. "So she's going to last a long time?"
"A very long time. Though," he said with a devilish twinkle, "it did say that her wedding was not going to be the celebration she had always wanted. Apparently a vampire was going to come in and object while very toasted."
Oz snorted. "Wonder if it's Spike," he said, then shook his head. "Never mind. Have you told her yet?"
"I'm going to let some of it slip, but I don't want her getting cocky. Even these can be changed if she gets too cocky and doesn't pay enough attention."
"Good point," Oz agreed, digging his thumbs into the hardened muscle. "What is wrong with your ankle today?"
"Too much walking."
"Oh." Oz leaned over and kissed his lover. "You feeling okay?"
"I'd like a long soak," Xander said, giving his lover a shy look. "Want to come help me?"
"I can do that. Let me lock up."
"Oh, let me," Sileya said, coming down the stairs. "Cocky?" she asked snidely.
"Yup," Xander said calmly. "That would be where you quit paying attention to your surroundings and make out in the cemetery again." He waited until she blushed. "Or it could be when you quit paying attention to your surroundings and walk out in front of a car again. Or even when you don't pay enough attention to a fight to come and give me a hug. Cocky."
She hung her head. "Got it."
"Good. End of lecture, just be more aware."
"No more doing patrols with your discman, young lady." Oz grinned at her shocked look. "Spike told us he snuck up on you."
"He did?" Xander asked.
"Okay, he told me he snuck up on her. He also told me he yelled at her and scared off a few fledglings."
"I haven't done it since then," she defended.
"Good," Xander told her, holding out his arms. "Come give me a hug and tell Homer that I saw a prophecy about your wedding and a drunken vampire objecting."
She snorted but gave him a hug and ran back up the stairs. "We'll lock up," she called from upstairs.
"Cool. Bath?" Oz asked, standing up and hold out a hand.
"Love one," Xander grunted as he heaved himself up. "Oz, when are the pool guys supposed to come?"
"Next month. You get your gym equipment first."
Oz and Xander looked at the lawyer Spike and Kaiya had called for them, not at all wondering if he had any problems in the court because he was blue and had feathers on the sides of his face. Xander was actually thinking it was rather sweet of Spike to have found them a really good lawyer. Especially on such short notice and one that was ready to refute anything that Giles might do. They only had a week until the next hearing and it was time to do some serious planning. The library was the perfect place to do it, all of Oz's law books were now in here and he and the lawyer could plan their attack while Xander looked on.
That's when they felt it. A big magic 'hand'.