Stubborn's Pool.

Xander had waited until the weekend, when the work crew was gone, to go out and do some work on his own pool. There was a lot he could get done, including digging the hole for the foundation. He set out early Saturday morning with his equipment and a cooler full of bottles of water, and hiked out to start the digging process. The guys hadn't gotten that much of the hole dug out yet so he had some work to do. He would show them he was good enough to help them, even with a bad knee. By the time Oz came out to offer him lunch, the hole had been marked out and another corner had been started.

"You're sure they're not going to use equipment to come do this?" Oz asked as he sat on the edge of the hole.

"They can't. They can't get even a small digger in here without destroying a lot more trees."

"Oh." Oz looked around the spray painted ground. "Now what?"

"Now, I dig," Xander said, leaning on his shovel. "It feels really good to get back to work."

"I realize that, that's why I'm not complaining and I'm not trying to help," Oz told him, leaning down to give him a kiss. "We've got a meeting with the LA crew later."


"Five or so. How much can you get done?"

"This dirt's real loose. I can probably get a good majority of the hole dug out." He pointed at the pile of refuse dirt. "I have no idea where I was supposed to put that though. I'm trying to keep it out of the way but on the tarp under it."

Oz slid down into the hole and gave Xander another kiss. "You're an amazing man, Xander. Don't work yourself too hard." He stole one last kiss and climbed out of the hole, going back up to the house. "I'll bring you lunch in a few minutes."

"Okay," Xander said, wiping off his face and going back to his digging. It was good to do this in the late fall, no summer heat. He could appreciate doing this without the humidity.


Faith and Cordelia looked across the living room at the couple. "So," Faith said. "What else did Ethan say?"

"Something about another prophecy child," Oz told her. "We're discussing that now. Who wanted you to steal Miri?"

"Some little nerdly nerd who had on a uniform. Seems she might be *useful*," she said dryly.

"Initiative?" Cordelia asked.

"Not that I could tell," Faith admitted. "He never came out and said so. He did say he wanted her for her gifts though." She shrugged. "Not a clue beyond that."

"But that can be a good thing," Oz noted. "If he's not Initiative, then we might have a better chance of fighting him."

"Or not," Xander pointed out. "We don't know what this person might have to throw against us. You hear all these stories about the military taking talented people and using them against the governments of other places."

"Which makes sense," Oz pointed out. "But she's too little."

"Not to start her training," Cordelia put in. "If they could get her this young, they could make sure she was loyal to them."

"Makes me wanna run for Canada," Faith said. Oz and Xander both nodded. "So, how do we stomp these assholes?"

"I'd like to know more about them," Doyle said as he came down the stairs. "All asleep." He sat between the two groups in a chair. "We need to know if he's Initiative or not definitively before we can plan anything."

"Good point," Oz agreed. "Did you see him?" Doyle nodded. "What did you think? Military?"

"Definitely, but not Initiative," he said with a frown. "They were taken over by the hard core military at the end, this guy was more of a scientist working for them." He shifted a little bit. "I'd say not Initiative when I think about him now."

"Then what do we do?" Xander asked.

"Remember those friends we have?" Oz asked his husband. Xander nodded. "Why don't we ask them if they know anything about this sort of stuff. We know they work in the same field. He might have a clue how to stop them."

"I've got Philip's number somewhere," Xander said, forcing himself to get up and go look for the number in his semi-wreck of an office.

"What's up with him?" Faith asked. "He looks sore."

"He's been digging a big hole so he can have some work in on his pool.''

"Pool?" Cordelia asked.

"He needs it for therapy. It'll help strengthen his legs."

"Oh." She shrugged. "That's pretty cool. All you guys need is a big fence, some food animals, and you could have a big compound far away from the rest of the world."

"We've thought about that," Xander joked weakly as he walked out of his office, handing the number to Oz. "Here, that's his last posting."

Oz picked up a phone and dialed it. "Hi, is Father Philip there?" He frowned. "Do you know where he went? Or maybe how to contact him?" He looked at the phone and hung it up. "She was rude for a nun." He looked at his husband. "He's left the priesthood."

"Can you find him some other way?" Faith asked. "Willow used to be able to find anyone with a few hours on the net."

"I can try," Oz agreed. "I'll try it tonight." He looked at Xander. "How are you feeling?"

"Good," he lied as he sat down, ignoring the stiffness and soreness in his legs and back. "I'll be able to start on the hole again tomorrow."

"Sure you will, but will you be able to make dinner tonight," Oz noted.

Xander groaned and threw a pillow at him. "I'm fine, Oz." He curled up on his corner of the couch. "So, now what?"

"Now, Oz finds this guy," Faith suggested, "and then we figure out how to stomp the asshole."

"Faith," Cordelia sighed.

"What? You want to leave him alone so he can try again?"

"No," Doyle said quietly, "but she doesn't want to kill him either."

"I wouldn't make her do that job," Faith reminded him.

"Let's not plan a conspiracy yet," Oz told them, breaking up the argument. "There should be a way to stop him without killing him." He looked at Xander, who wasn't looking happy. "You know something," he accused.

"Ethan knows," he sighed. "That's one of the reasons he came back."

"And this is a bad thing why?" Faith asked.

"Because Ethan is his father," Oz told her. She shrugged. "It sucks when you find out that your father came back for this purpose."

"Oh." She looked at Xander. "Sorry."

"No, he came back to tell me something about a child we might be having, and to warn us about this. But at least I got to sit down and talk to him this time."

The phone rang and Oz picked it up, listening for a moment before hanging it back up. "He'll be back every year," he told his husband, moving over to give him a hug. "His keeper's so proud of him that he's granted you an audience with Ethan for two days once a year." Xander looked a little happier. "Ethan also said that the nerdly nerd was government, but not military, and that *he's* doing something about it."

Faith nodded. "Good deal. If he needs me to do anything, just let him tell me somehow and I'll be there." She looked at Cordelia. "Can we see Wes while we're here?"

"He's napping with Kaiya," Xander told her. "They'll be up around four."

Cordelia checked her watch. "Okay, we can hang." She looked at Oz. "If you guys say it's okay."

"It's fine," Oz agreed. He patted his husband on the leg. "You done with your hole for the day?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah, I am. I got one side dug out and I was starting to spread it further. I didn't dig down the last two inches, I thought I'd give the guys something to do on Monday." He smiled at Oz. "Can I go relax in the bathtub?"

"I can handle the girls," Oz agreed, standing up to help Xander up. No matter how much Xander might protest, he knew the other man was sore. "Everything's where it's supposed to be."

"Cool," Xander said, waving at everyone. "Bye, if you're gone by the time I'm out." He slowly went up the stairs, heading to his bathroom. "Doyle!" was yelled a moment later.

Doyle ran up the stairs, running into their bedroom. "What happened?" He stared down at his son, who was chewing on a pill bottle. "Did he get it open?"

"No, it's one of those that I can't get open," Xander told him, frowning at the little boy. "I thought you might want this one."

"Oh, I do," Doyle agreed, picking up the little boy. "Which one are you again?" he asked as he walked downstairs with the little boy. "Cordy, which one is this?"

She looked up and held up her arms. "Mine. Why?"

"He was trying to bite open a pill bottle." He handed over the baby and tossed the bottle to Oz. "Xander said he didn't get it open."

Oz looked at it, standing up. "Miri's the only person in the house that can open the lid." He headed up to give it back to his husband. He'd probably need the pain killers soon. He found Xander already in the tub, waiting on the water to get higher. "You sure you're okay?" he asked as he sat next to the tub. Xander looked at him. "What's wrong?"

"I checked the calendar," he said quietly.

Oz went pale. "And?"

"I think I need to start taking my hormone tests again."

Oz stroked his arm. "It's all right. We'll deal no matter what." Xander leaned against his side. "Should you be or are you?"

"I am," Xander sighed. "It started again."

"Okay. Monday, you set up a doctor's appointment."


"And we'll buy a big box of pregnancy tests, or of the fertility tests, one of the two."


"And we'll test everything out."


"You're okay with this?"

"Ethan reminded me how natural this was to me," Xander said quietly. "This is who I am, and I accept that, but it's still really odd sometimes."

"No hospitals this time," Oz joked.

Xander snorted. "That was one of my thoughts the other night. It was okay the last time except for the hospital." He rolled onto his side so he could cuddle up to Oz's arm. "It was actually pretty neat. The hormone surges weren't *too* bad. The cravings led me to lots of new food that I still kinda like. And I've still got my fat clothes."

"Which could be a good thing," Oz agreed, rubbing down Xander's back. He kicked out and closed the bathroom door, wanting some privacy with his lover. "We'll talk about it more in depth after we talk to the doctor. Deal?"

"Very good one," Xander agreed with a yawn. "I'm sleepy."

"You should be. You dug a really big hole today." Oz settled in as Xander started to fall asleep, wanting to spend this calm time with him. With four kids, emergencies were always close at hand and waiting to disturb them.


Wesley was frowning when Oz came down the stairs at two am. "They wanted you back?" he suggested as he sat on the porch swing next to them.

"Doyle's moving up here in a few weeks, as is everyone else," he said quietly. "Even Spike's moving back into town."

"Why? I can understand about Doyle, and maybe Cordy, but why Faith and Spike?"

"Because they've had a vision that told them to fall back to guard the Hellmouth."

"Ah." Oz shifted to look at the vampire. "Does this bother you?"

"Yes," he said, looking at his friend. Things had changed so much since the boys had been in high school, especially for him. "I want to stay and help with the children."

"And Kaiya?"

"Definitely," he said with a small sigh and a faint smile. "I would hate to leave her here at the mercy of Miriam."

Oz snickered. "I'm sure we'd try and protect her from our daughter." He punched Wesley on the arm. "If you want to stay out here, we're not going to make you live in town, Wes, we're not that mean usually."

"Thank you," he sighed, "but I'll have to start helping them again."

"Yay, and? You've been bored recently. You can talk with your adopted sire and learn more about what you are now. You can even spoil the twins again." That got a real smile. "We won't mind, Wesley, and we're still here whenever you need us. Even if you need us to come help fight something bigger and badder than Spike."

Wesley patted him on the arm. "Doyle said he would kill us all if we called on you two to come fight beside us and it wasn't a real emergency."

"So make it a real emergency, but we're still here for you." He gave the shy vampire a hug. "What's going to happen to all of Angel's stuff?"

"Spike packed it up and stole the few things he'd wear. I think he vowed to bring them to Xander so he never had to look at them again."

Doyle laughed as he walked outside. "Yup, that sounds like the boss." He sat on the porch looking at them. "I had a small vision so I came back."


"Are drivin' the Princess nuts tonight." He looked at Wesley. "You're not gonna be needed on this one, but we accept that you're stayin' here to protect them. Spike said he'd assign you here if you weren't willin' ta stay."

"No, I'd like to stay," Wesley said quickly. "My life has quickly become this house."

"Good, then we'll call on ya when we need you. There's not much activity," he told Oz, "but we still need to be here. This non-military guy is going to cause the whole town trouble soon enough."

"Hey, anything we can do, yell," Oz agreed, standing up. "I'd better get back before Xander misses me." He walked away, smiling like the other two men.

"It's good that they worked it out," Wesley said quietly. "I was afraid for them there for a bit."

"Me too," Doyle admitted. "Are they gonna have another one?"

"I have no idea," Wesley admitted, curling up on the porch swing. "It would be nice if they did, it'd give William someone younger to play with, maybe even another boy."

"The prophecy's a girl," Doyle pointed out.

"So?" Wesley asked, smirking. "They wouldn't turn away a child they had just because it was the wrong gender. They'd love him like they do the other four."

"No," floated out from the house.

Doyle snickered. "If ya say so," he called back. He looked around the farm. "We need to find somewhere safe but closer to town. Can you help us?" The vampire nodded. "Good. We don't need anything this big, but somewhere nice that the boys can run would be good." He stood up. "I'm gonna go to bed. I'll see ya tomorrow."

"Good night, Doyle," Wesley said, smiling at his back. He was accepted by his friends again. They forgave him, and it meant the world to him.


Xander looked up from his breakfast as he heard the front door of the house slam. "I'm in here," he called, knowing it was the crew's boss. He held up the pot of coffee, which was sitting in front of him. "I hope you didn't mind," he said.

Metz sat down across from him, running a hand through his dark brown hair. "Kid, you're insane. How did you dig that much of that nasty soil?"

"Wasn't hard," Xander told him. "It's really very separated right now. I left at least two inches for them to do, and the dirt's all on top of a tarp."

"Good work," Metz told him, getting up to grab a cup for some coffee.

"Second cabinet," Oz said as he walked in. He kissed the top of Xander's head. "I called and made you a doctor's appointment since you hadn't," he said, giving him a hug. "It's tomorrow afternoon, they had a cancellation."

"Thanks," Xander said, giving him a kiss before getting free. "They just saw my work."

"Yeah, he dug down an inch too far in some spots and not far enough in others," Metz said as he came back to the table and poured himself a cup of coffee as he sat. "Your man's a real piece of work."

"Thanks," Oz told him. "He did okay. Little sore the first day, the same as when he worked on the house and overworked himself because he was so happy to be working again." He sat down at the table. "So, can he help?"

"Sure. The boss may crap bricks, but this is my crew and Harris here has proved that he can at least wield a shovel." He saluted them with his cup. "Speaking of shovels, we've got a better one for you. It really eats the ground up." He smiled at them. "Go get dressed, Harris, day's already started."

"Sure," Xander said, shoveling the rest of his breakfast into his mouth as he stood up and headed up the stairs, the plate going onto the shelf near the door. "Give me thirty," he called from the stairway.

Oz shook his head. "Just make sure he doesn't overdo it. He's very enthusiastic sometimes."

"I know," Metz told him. "But we're all digging today. He can help with that."

"He sided the whole house," Oz told him. "His teacher had to leave before all the siding was up and he did most of the windows instead of the siding. Xander's not handicapped, he's just got to hold a cane and wear a brace sometimes." He stood up. "You'd be surprised at what my man can do."

"I'll watch him for you and we'll treat him like the rest of the crew," Metz agreed. "We still need the new plans."

"I'll go run them off," Oz told him, going to grab the dirty plate and put it into the sink, then he made sure the stove was off - a sleepy Xander often forgot to turn it off if he fried his own breakfast. He walked down the hallway to his office, smiling at the little person who was hiding in there. "Hi, William," he said, picking the little boy up to put him on his lap. "Want to help Daddy blow up some plans?" The baby clapped and babbled at him. "You're such a good boy," he said, kissing his son on the side of the head. He turned on his computer, waiting for it to boot, smiling when his son sang along with the music that started with windows.


Xander trudged in after work and flopped down onto the couch. "I ache," he said, looking up at Kaiya, "but I'm happy."

"That's nice. Have you seen Miri? She's hiding."

"I saw her peeking out of the library so she's probably playing with the ghost again," he said, weakly pointing in that direction. "Oz, I'm back," he called.

"He's out in the barn," she told him, patting him on the head. "Need help up the stairs?" He frowned at her. "I saw you limping, I thought you might like some help since your cane's still upstairs."

"Nah, I've got it," he sighed, forcing himself to stand up and walk up the stairs, grabbing onto the handrail as his foot started to go numb. "I'm going to soak," he called down.

"I'll tell Oz," Kaiya agreed. "Hey, Homer," she said with a smile. "William was looking for you."

"The little guy?" he asked as he stopped to look in the library, watching the little girl and the ghost have a tea party. "Why?"

"He was pouting at me but he wouldn't let me have the book."

"Ah, that reason," he said, nodding. "Give me a few and I'll find him and read to him."

"He's been with Oz all day so he's probably in the barn terrorizing the horses' tails."

He snorted but he continued up to his and Sileya's room so he could change clothes. Grape koolaide stained everything he had on. Food fights weren't as fun when you were on the losing end. He pulled Xander's door shut, hearing the bath water running, as he headed for his own. He changed and walked out, right into Xander. "Hey. How's the knee?" he asked.

"It's okay," Xander told him. "What about your paper?"

"Was accepted and I've got the topic for my next one." Xander looked happy and expectant. "Demons in literature as a metaphor."


"Yeah, but it's something I can relate to," Homer said with a grin. "I'm going to find the kids and read to them. You going to bathe?" He got a happy nod. "Cool. I'll remind Oz to come wake you up for dinner."

"Homer, if we haven't told you recently, I think you're doing a great job," Xander told him, giving him a hug.

"Wow, what happened to you?" he asked.

"Nothing," Xander told him, heading back to his room.

"Uh-huh. Sure nothing happened. That's an 'I had a brush with death' sorta thing," he muttered as he headed down the stairs.

Wesley's door opened and he looked at Xander's door, frowning. "What happened now?" he asked. He walked out and padded down to the young mens' room, tapping gently. "Xander?"

"Come in," he called.

Wesley walked in and shut the door behind him. "What happened?" The young man sighed and glared at him. "I'm sorry, but Homer was right, that wasn't a normal 'I've had a long day at work' moment you two shared." He leaned against the door. "Now, what happened?"

"I tripped," Xander told him.


*Tripped*," Xander repeated, forcing the word out.

Wesley walked over and sat beside him on the bed, giving him a hug. "It's all right, Xander, I won't go and attack the man who did this to you."

"I'm fine," he sighed, pushing his friend away. "Nothing really bad happened."

"Xander, you're still reacting to it, something must have happened. But if you don't want to talk about it, I'll respect that," Wesley said as he stood up. "Is there anything I can get you from downstairs? Oz perhaps?"

Xander pulled him back down. "I *tripped*," he said again, looking at the vampire, "and nearly fell into the deeper part of the hole, right over the new pipe sticking up out of the ground."

"Oh, my," Wesley said, looking over and sniffing Xander. "You smell fine."

"Metz caught me and chewed the person who helped me trip," he admitted quietly. "I wanted to handle it, or ignore it, but now it's become more known. And I've got to take part of tomorrow off too, which isn't very popular. I worked just as hard as they did today," he complained, laying back on the bed, covering his eyes with his arm. "Why do they hate me?"

"Because they don't have what you have," Wesley said simply. "Either that or they're thinking that you're getting favoritism from the boss because of your injuries."

"But I worked as hard as they did today," Xander repeated. "If not harder than one of the guys."

"Was that the one who pushed you?" Wesley asked gently. Xander just nodded. "Then he's jealous because he thinks you're trying to show him up."

"But I wasn't. I'm trying to prove I'm competent so I can go apply with Metz to get a real job."

"Yes, but if this chap's so incompetent that you did more work than him, then he's probably about to be fired and you'd take his place."

"I didn't think about that," Xander said, uncovering his eyes. "You think?" he asked, looking at his friend.

"Yes, I think it's very possible. Did you remind your boss that you'd be off tomorrow afternoon for a doctor's appointment?"

"Yup," Xander said, forcing himself to sit up with a grunt. "I did, and I offered to pick up some of the stuff he needed from the big home improvement warehouse place in LA too. I put the list in the truck."

"Good, then he won't mind too much," Wesley said, standing up. "Now go bathe and relax. I'll get you something to drink if you'd like."

"Please," Xander agreed, giving him a smile. "Thanks, Wes."

"You're welcome, Xander. You know I'm here for more reasons than to steal the children's attention." He left him alone, closing the door behind him.

Xander forced himself to get up and walk into the bathroom they used, going right to the tub.


Oz looked up as the barn door opened, nodding Metz inside. "Hey. How'd he do?"

"Good, besides that one guy coming after him because he did so good." He scratched his head. "Xander had a bit of an accident today, Oz. This guy tripped him and he nearly took a header onto a pipe that was sticking out of the ground in the hole." Oz dropped the feed bag and looked at him. "He's fine, I caught him before he fell, but I thought you'd like to know."

"He's fine?"

"Great," Metz said quickly. "Not injured. He worked really well all day and he's got a good touch with the shovel. Put a few of my guys to shame actually," he said with good humor. "I know Xander's hoping to get a job with us once we're out of your hair, and I'll give him a recommendation if he asks, but we won't be adding crew until next summer probably." Oz nodded. "But I will tell the boss how good he did." He scratched his damp hair again. "Personally, I think the boss was wrong. Harris is a good worker and he's not going to play sick because of his injury. Even if what happened before, with the weight gain and everything, happened again, I'd say he'd be one of the better workers."

"But you don't decide who's on your crew," Oz finished.

"Yeah, basically." Metz frowned. "It sucks, Oz, really badly, but he's got that injury."

"He can nearly walk normally. He's got a problem with ladders though."

"Which shouldn't hurt him too much if he could do the internal stuff still."

"He's good up to about five rungs," Oz offered.

"I know." He patted him on the shoulder. "I'll put in my two cents worth," he promised. "If Harris wants a job with our crew, I'd happily work with him again. Even the boss said he'd work with him if he wasn't injured."

"But this is the real world and he thinks Xander would slow up the crew," Oz finished. Metz nodded. "This sucks," Oz told him. "He's tried to get other jobs, but he's not handicapped enough for the sitting ones and he's too handicapped for anything he wants to do."

"It does suck," Metz agreed. "Maybe he should start his own company."

"Don't encourage him," Oz said dryly. "He's already thought about that. I've been trying to get him to go towards something like design, which he's great at, but he doesn't want to go to school for it."

"Hey, if he could work in architecture, he'd be great," Metz told him. "It's all about the buildings."

"And math," Oz pointed out. "Which we both know Xander doesn't excel in."

"Point, but there's the drafting angle. And if he could get past the math stuff, the field architects most big firms use only work with the crews after the design's done."

"I'll mention it again," Oz sighed. "He's getting to the point where he resents it though."

"Maybe I'll take a stab at it. He's a smart kid, he understands reality pretty well." He looked around the barn. "You've got some really pretty horses, Oz. Maybe you should concentrate on that."

"Maybe," Oz agreed, watching as the older man walked away. He'd have a talk with Xander tonight about his first day on the job. He picked up the bag of feed and kicked the stuff that had spilled into the stall. "There, you can have an extra treat," he told Caliber, their youngest horse. He filled her trough and moved onto the next one.

Homer looked down from up in the hay loft. "He's fine, Oz. He gave me a hug and told me he was proud of me."

"I figured he was okay," Oz told him, stopping to look up at him. "His crew's very good about telling us if something's wrong. They called me first when he got injured the first time, even before the ambulance." He shrugged and moved on, feeding the rest of the horses. "Storm tonight," he warned, heading out to go help Xander soak.


Xander walked out of the examination room and into his doctor's office, frowning at him. "You're sure they haven't come back?"

"I'm relatively sure. I had your bloodwork rushed and it didn't show anything out of the ordinary," he said, pointing at the chair. "Sit. Why the concern?"

Xander shut the door then sat down. "You know that I deal in the strange, right?" The doctor nodded. "Well, we've had a prophecy that I'm going to have another child. The day before I started to bleed again."

"Hmm." The doctor leaned back. "Do you trust things like that?"

"I had to fight a few of them before," Xander told him calmly. "This is just part of the strange I deal with, Doctor Adams, and it's real enough."

"All right, I wasn't going to doubt that." He cleared his throat. "Did you want to get pregnant again?"

"I didn't want to force it, but there's a definite threat of it happening again at least once. A girl this time."

The doctor smiled at him. "You really believe this?"

"This one was done over a thousand years ago," Xander told him. "I've had six different documentations sent to me about it. Everything from a new translation to the original in the original language." He shifted. "This isn't the first one I've run into. And I'm not talking about a tea leaf reader here, I'm talking people with visions and the like."


"More heavyweight. He did okay, but these have been proven to be true in the past."

"Like Cassandra," he said.

"More like her, yeah," Xander agreed. "Only not human."

"Oh." Doctor Adams blinked a few times. "And you still trust this?"

"I had to fight one of his other ones," Xander said simply. "It was fighting or the whole town went down during my graduation. This same non-human predicted that it would happen. We found that out afterwards, but the book was shipped long before the fight started. We found another way around the prophecy."

"I see." Doctor Adams sat up. "Xander, I'm not going to lie to you, I think this is very odd."

"If this was some call-in psychic, I'd understand," Xander told him calmly, "but this is the life I live. I've got ten books at home with the same subject, all saying I'm going to have a daughter sometime in the future and she's going to be a lot like I am."

"Hmm." Doctor Adams frowned. "Blair?"

"Wrong birthday, but I could see it being her," he admitted. "That was my first thought too."

"Well, if you're sure," he said, dropping that part of the conversation. His clients personal beliefs weren't any of his business. "As for your hormones," he said, picking up the chart to look at the report. "I'm showing an elevation of estrogen, but not enough to set off more than a light cycle. Not enough to be fertile."

"Okay, so how do I tell if I'm headed that way again?"

"The tests to see if you're fertile would work," he told him. "Or we could do your bloodwork more often."

"I can afford it," Xander admitted. "Once a month?"

"Once every two for right now," the doctor corrected. "Xander, how can you believe in things like that?"

"Easy. The twins were conceived using a fertility spell," he noted dryly. "I've had to come to accept a lot of things, Doc. Magic and prophecies are just part of that. Trust me, there's still stranger things than that in the world. Sometimes you just have to go where life shoves you."

The doctor nodded. "All right. Did you *want* to get pregnant?"

"Not really, at least not until I've thought a lot more about it, and talked to Oz. Both of us think that four children is enough, but I can't ignore this."

"All right. Start using the fertility tests and we'll start doing your bloodwork more frequently. And use at least a condom," he noted.

Xander saluted him. "Yes, sir," he said as he stood up. "Any other advice?"

"Yes, talk about this with someone else, Xander. Make sure they know what's going to happen and let them talk you out of it. It's not the right reason for having a child."

"Oh, I know that," Xander said, giving him a smile, "but I'd like to think that we'd make the decision to have her instead of it becoming accidental like with William."

"How is he?"

"Very cuddly still. Loving of the storytellers and readers in the house. Our nanny and he are even very good together." He grinned. "We're all good, doc, don't worry so much."

"I won't," he said, giving the young man a smile. "Have a safe trip home."

"I will. I've got to pick up some stuff on the way for the pool, but I'm going to coast home and go be with my family." He waved and walked out, heading to the home improvement warehouse to pick up the order there.

Doctor Adams picked up his phone and dialed a number in his patient's chart. "Blair Sandburg please. Yes, this is something of an odd emergency with a patient of his. No, this is Doctor Adams, Xander Harris' physician."


Xander walked into his house, and it was quiet. "Hello?" he called.

"In the library," Oz called. Xander walked in and he looked up. "Sam and Blair beat you here," he said, pointing at the chair. "Sam took everyone out for ice cream."

Xander sat down next to his lover. "Doctor Adams called him?"

Oz nodded. "Yuppers. Blair's out in the barn and looking at the pool site." He took his lover's hand to hold. "You told him about the prophecy?"

"I had to," Xander told him, getting comfortable. "How else could I explain what was going on?"

"Point," Oz agreed. "Anyway, he called Blair and Blair doesn't really understand so he's here for dinner and to talk to you about this."

"That's cool with me. We've got food," Xander agreed, shifting closer so he could get a hug. "Slight elevation of estrogen but not enough to get pregnant with. Bought a few more condoms and a few of the tests."

"Good," Blair said as he walked in. "Prophecies? You work with those too?"

Xander pointed at the main book. "That maroon leather one," Xander told him. "About page ninety. Lightening child."

Blair pulled down the book and flipped the pages until he saw a mention of the name, sitting down to read the section. He finally looked up at them. "This is real?"

"It's real," Xander told him, "and verified by at least six different sources. There's two other people that had the same prophecy."

"I see." Blair put the book aside. "And you're sure it's you?"

"He's one of the few crafters today," Oz told him. "And the only fertile one that Ethan knew of."

"Ethan knew about this before he died?" Blair asked.

"Um, he came back for a day or so, and he's not *really* dead," Xander said carefully. "See, Ethan offered himself to someone for power. When he found out he was going to get sicker fast, he went to that someone. He's still alive, but he's not *here*."

"Uh-huh," Blair said, sitting back in the chair. "Explain fully please," he ordered in his best teacher voice.

"See, Ethan's a chaos sorcerer," Oz explained. "To get bigger and better power, he offered himself to a demon."

"And to that demon he went when he started to go downhill," Xander finished. "He's kinda dead, but he's not fully dead. He came back for a few days and we had a long talk. And Sileya got to say goodbye."

"He gets two days a year to come and see his children," Oz told him. "He recently worked that part out so Xander wouldn't be so bummed about him leaving again."

Blair shook his head, trying to clear it. "Let's try this again from the top and stick with the reasonable and slow-learner lessons, okay?"

Oz nodded, leaning forward to start the explanations again.

Sam looked across the table at Xander. "So, another one?" she asked.

Blair patted her on the thigh. "Sam, trust me, this is one hell of an explanation but not one we should have in front of the kids."

She smiled at her husband. "I'm not doubting that. I was just wondering if Xander was prepared for the round of midnight feedings and diapers again."

"We're still getting midnight diapers," Oz told her. "William hates to sleep all night."

"None of the kids like to sleep all night," Xander pointed out.

"Not the issue," Sam told him. "Are you ready for another one with one so young?"

"We're not ready to jump on that bandwagon again," Oz told her, "we're considering the options we've got at this point."

Blair coughed. "You *have* some?"

"Yup, do it our way or get hit again," he agreed. "We don't really want another accidental pregnancy, but if we *have* to do this *this* year, then we will."

"The birth date given was just the month and about a week's span," Xander told him. "I have the feeling that everyone's expecting me to jump to now and fulfill this one, something like a duty, but I'm not that much in a rush. A year's good between kids."

"And we're not hard up for money," Oz pointed out. He looked at Xander, who wasn't looking happy. "We'll fix the job thing soon enough," he said quietly, giving the warm hand a squeeze.

"Point," Blair acquiesced.

"What birth date?" Sam asked.

"Sam, what do you know about what I *really* do?" Xander asked her.

"The less the better," she commented dryly.

"This falls under that heading," Oz told her. "Prophecy management."

"Oh," she sighed, looking at her plate. "How many years ago?"

"The first we've been told about? About a thousand," Xander told her. "Six different documentations so far."

"Oh, man," she sighed, then she shook her head. "I'm sorry, Xander. I wish you well."

"Thanks, Sam, it means a lot to us." Oz reached over and touched her on the arm. "We're always careful, Sam, we wouldn't even be thinking about this right now if not for Ethan and those prophecies."

"Was Unclie Ethan really a bad guy?" Miri asked.

"Somedays," Oz told her.

"Who told you about that?" Xander asked her.

"Auntie Tara," she told him. Everyone stopped to look at her. "She come over last night, after Unclie Wesley naps."

"I'll kill her," Xander muttered, putting down his fork before he stabbed someone with it.

"What else did she say?" Blair asked. "Did she tell you any stories?"

"No, she comed to say that she leavies next week sometime, when Spike moves back." She smiled at her fathers. "She said I lot like him," she said with a nod. "But she say he's not always bad, so maybe I'd take after his good side."

"I'm sure you will," Sam told her, giving her a smile. "Did she say anything else? Anything about Willow?"

"Mommy?" Tigger asked, perking up. "She talk about mommy?"

"Nope," Miri said, shaking her head. "She say they both leavies together, but nothin' else."

"We'll go find her tonight," Oz told her, giving her a smile. "Thank you, Miri, that was very good to tell us that she came."

"Has anyone else come up to talk to you?" Xander asked.

She nodded. "But I no talk to him, he stranger," she said proudly. "I yell really loudly for Kaiya, who was getting loster."

Oz grunted. "Honey, you should always stay with Kaiya," Blair told her, "especially when she might get lost. It's what big girls do, they protect the nanny." Xander coughed and he looked at his friend and former patient. "I'm sure she'll be good and stay with Kaiya from now on, right?"

Miri nodded. "Me good girl and I stay with Kaiya so she not get lost again," she said firmly, nodding some more and looking at her nanny, who was covering her face with her napkin. "It's okay," she said, smiling at the cat demon. "Everyone gets lost sometimes."

Kaiya groaned. "I swear, I picked up a box of cotton balls to compare the price and she had ran off to the toy section," she told them. "I ran after her."

"Was it the guy Cordy described?" Oz asked.

"Yes, and a I hissed at him. He didn't look surprised or impressed," she noted.

"What guy?" Sam asked.

"We've been being stalked by a nerdly nerd in a suit that works for the government," Oz told her. "He wants Miri to work for him."

"Oh, hell no," Blair said, tossing down his napkin. "Do you know who he is? Name or anything?"

"He say his name was Mister Bill," Miri said helpfully. "He say he thinks I'm special and good, and that I could solve a lot of problems for him."

"Miriam," Xander said, staring down his daughter, "you will never talk to this man again. He's bad and he's trying to take you away from us. If you see him, you are to throw the biggest fit you can and make everyone come get you. Do you hear me?" She nodded, biting her lip now. "Repeat that."

"I no talk to him, he's very scarybad, and I throw fit if he comes for me. Is he one of the people I start screaming 'not my daddy' about?" Everyone nodded. "Okay. I will." She looked at the other kids. "You too. You throw big fits if you see him. He *bad*."

"Yes, he is," Oz said quietly. "Miri, girls, if you see him at *all*, even if he's just watching you, I want you tell whomever you're with. He is *the* bad guy. Not only will he steal you from us, he'll hurt us if we try to rescue you."

"Oz," Blair warned. "Too heavy."

"He hurt Unclie Spike?" Miri asked, starting to sniffle.

"He would to try and steal you," Xander agreed.

"Guys," Sam warned. "Too much for the kids."

"Me hurt him!" Miri said, pounding her fist on the table. "He come to us and try to steal us, we hurt him!" She looked at her sister. "You hurt him too!"

"We will," Little Blair agreed, smiling at her big sister. "I give him nightmares."

Miri nodded. "Good. We throw fits if he comes near us, and we stomp him if he tries to hurt us." She nodded, and her sisters did the same. "Good. You too, William," she told him, shaking a finger at him. "You no go near him, he *bad*."

The baby burbled at her and waved his spoon.

"Guys, that was a bit harsh," Sam told them gently.

"Sam, we've told Miri that she's not to use her powers outside the house," Oz reminded her. "I want her to protect herself if she's alone and he comes for her. She still wanders at night and we're not always there."

"Not to mention school," Xander put in.

"I'll have a talk with her teacher on Monday," Oz told him, putting his hand back on his lover's thigh. "We'll make sure she's safe there too."

"Doyle will guard them with his life," Wesley reminded them.

"We know, but she's got half a year before she goes to him," Xander told him. "We've got to put something into place before then." He looked at Oz. "Ethan said he'd take care of this. I'm wondering why he hasn't yet."

"Maybe it's a slowly building sort of rolling curse," Oz suggested. "It builds the more stupid he gets."

"Maybe," Xander said, sounding unconvinced. He stood up. "I want to go find Willow and Tara. Can you guys handle bedtimes if we're not back?"

"You promised us a story," Tigger reminded him with a pout.

"We'll be back by bedtime," Oz told her, standing up. "We've got to go to town for a few minutes. Will you guys be good?" The kids all nodded. "Thank you. Sam, wait for us to get back." He followed Xander out to the car, Oz getting in to drive. Only he drove his car. "Where to?"

"The Bronze and we'll circle from there. She always had a weakness for that place." Xander slumped a little. "It used to be our lives outside of school."

"Many good things happened there," Oz agreed as he started the car and backed down the driveway.


Xander looked over Willow as he walked up to them, his cane loud in the quiet park. "Willow," he said grimly. "Stay away from my children."

She turned to look at him. "I can take them back anytime I want," she sneered. "You're letting a *demon* take care of them."

"Yeah, a cat demon. One of the most maternal species on earth," he agreed. "And we watch her very closely."

"And you've got a vampire in the house."

"And a Slayer," Xander noted quietly. "And your nephew."

She hissed. "You leave Homer out of this. He was a good boy until you encouraged him to take up magic."

"He told us he's been using since he was six," Oz said as he joined them. "Stay away from the house and our kids," he warned. "You won't like it."

"What, you'll stake me?" she snorted. "I doubt it."

"I don't," Xander told her. "Oz may have loved you, and you might have been like my sister, but I'll have *no* problem. Not if you come near the kids again, Willow."

"What's the big?" Tara asked as she walked up to them. "Willow? I told you to stay away from them."

"And we feel the same about both of you," Xander told her. Tara glared at him. "Yay. Our kids."

"She did give birth to two of them."

"Yes, and with any luck, we'll be able to keep them from going to the dark side," Oz put in. "It's bad enough she exposed one to a fallen angel, who we've had warnings about."

"You've had *Ethan Rayne* out there," Willow said hotly. "We're not any worse than he is."

"Ethan's my father, Willow," Xander told her. "He's been very good to me, through the whole thing he was here for he stood by me. He even helped me break away from Giles indirectly. I have nothing but respect for him, even though he's a bad guy. All he ever wanted was power. He never wanted to destroy a whole race of beings."

She hissed and backed up a step. "How could you! I was trying to help Buffy!"

"By turning every demon into a zombie?" he snorted. "How would that help? And how did it help the ones who died, most of whom were halfies like Homer!"

"He's not! Take that back!" she shrieked.

"He is," Tara said quietly. "And we were wrong," she admitted. "That doesn't mean that she shouldn't be allowed to see her children from afar."

"Forget about it," Oz told her. "We're not letting her near the kids to corrupt them. Either of you."

She shrugged. "I tried."

"I'll contest custody," Willow threatened.

Xander laughed. "Oh, yeah, and which judge is going to give them to you?" he sneered. "You can't take them to school, you can't make sure that they eat properly. You can't even prove that you'd be more fit than we are. The only thing that's working in your favor is the whole gay thing and even then you'd lose." He took a step closer. "Leave town tonight and never come back, or be hunted. Your choice. This is your only warning."

"We're trying to atone," Tara pointed out.

"Then go to LA, their crew is coming back here," Oz told her. "There's probably enough evil there to suit you. It seemed to suit Angel while he was alive."

"He's dead?" Willow asked.

"He is, Wesley drained him," Xander told her. "He's *killed* to protect our kids," he said quietly. "If we can't kill you, he can and will. And if he can't, Faith's coming back to town. She wants Miri protected as much as I do. *Never* come near my children, Willow, or you'll be sorry." He looked at Tara. "The same goes for you. If we hear, see, or sense you near the kids or the farm, we'll come after you both. And trust me, if not even Faith can do it, there's someone on this plane that can make you sorry you *ever* did that spell."

Oz put a hand on Xander's arm before he lunged at the vampires. "Leave," he said quietly. "Tonight. We won't chase after you."

"We will," Tara said, pulling Willow with her. "Myself and my childe apologize for upsetting you." They walked away, blending into the dark of the park.

Xander glared at Oz. "I would have."

"I know," he said calmly, nodding back at the car. "Come on. Who's the last one you threatened them with?" he asked as they walked.

"There's still a vampire me running around this plane taking a road trip," Xander reminded him. "I've got to think that he's as protective as I am about what's mine."

"Ours," Oz corrected.

"Ours," Xander agreed, wrapping an arm around his lover's waist.


Faith picked up the report on Xander's desk, reading it while she waited on him to get in from the work site. "Hey," she said as it was snatched from her fingers. "There's a vamp you here?"

"He crossed a portal," he agreed, sitting down with a groan, putting up his bad leg. "Sorry, but I hurt," he told her, pointing at the other chair. "Sit, talk. Did they leave?"

"They left and came to the office, asking to take it over for us," she said. "What did you say to them?"

"That if they came near the kids again, either I, Oz, Wes, you, or the vamp me would kill her." He shrugged at her incredulous look. "I want them nowhere near the kids. Tara came and talked to Miri the other night."

"Hey, full of understanding here," Faith agreed. "I don't want her near Miri either." She looked at all the pictures he kept of the kids. "Can I start seeing Miri?"

"I'm not sure," Xander said. "Aren't you going to see her at school?"

Faith nodded. "Yeah, Doyle's got me teaching gym," she said with a faint smile. "I wanted to get to know her though. Maybe sit down and have some supervised visitation." She gave him a hopeful look. "I promise, Xander, she'll be safe with me. I won't try to take her ever again. I learned my lesson quickly the last time. Even before Willow gave me back my soul. Please?"

"I'll talk to Oz about it," he relented. "It will be supervised if it happens. Doyle, Cordy, or Wes."

"Not Giles?"

"We're barely on speaking terms," Oz said as he came to the door. "Metz is here, wanting to know what's up."

"She wants supervised visitation," Xander explained.

"Huh." Oz stared at Faith for a moment then shrugged. "We'll talk about it tonight," he told her. "Let us think first."

She got up and hugged him. "Thanks, Oz. That's all I needed." She waved at Xander and left.

"Wow," Oz said, coming in and sitting down.

"Very big wow," Xander agreed, giving him a hug. "And?"

"Not sure. I want to think about that." Oz kissed him on the cheek. "Go back to work and be careful."

"I will," Xander grunted as he forced himself to stand up and headed back to work. "I'm back," he told the boss. "My....well whatever she was, wants supervised visitation."

Metz patted him on the shoulder. "Is she better now?"

"You know Faith?"

"Isn't she the redhead you had the picture of?"

"No, that was Willow," he sighed. "She went bad too." He went back to work, trying not to think about this dilemma as he put in wiring.