Returns, the Sequel.

Miri picked up the phone, hitting the buttons like Daddy did when he wanted to talk to somebody. "'Lexi?" she said when she heard another voice on the line.

//No, princess, not Alexi,// Spike said. //Hang up the phone, Miriam.//

She put the talking thing down, frowning at it. She liked Spike, but she wanted her friend. She touched another button, but it didn't do anything until she picked up the talking thing and did it again. "'Lexi?" she asked, a little more hesitantly.

//No,// Auntie Cordy said with a small sigh. //Don't keep calling people, Miri, it's bad.//

Miri frowned at the machine and hit another button, then slammed down the talking thing when all it did was make pretty noises. She picked it back up after a few seconds of staring at it like she did her blocks when she wanted them to move, rubbing her forehead as she hit another button. "'Lexi?"

//No,// Auntie Sam said, laughing. //Hi, Miri, how are you?//

"'Tay," she said happily, swinging her feet off Daddy's bed. "No 'Lexi?"

//No sweetie, Alexi's not here. Maybe you should talk to Blair, I bet he knows where he is. Hang on.// Some pretty music came on and then Uncle Blair's voice came over the line.

//Miri?// he asked.

"Me," she said happily. "'Lexi?"

//Sweetie, remember how he had to go live with someone else's mommy? Well, he's still there and we don't have his number.// He heard the first sniffle so hurried on. //I'm sorry, Miri, but I don't have it to give to you. How about if I get him to draw you a card or something and send it to you instead? Would that be okay?//


//Yes, little one, like through the mail. Those big white things you get from the mailman. How about that?//

Her face scrunched up as she thought about what he said. "'Tay, cards pretty." She nodded and started to hang up but remembered her manners, just like Daddy Giles taught her, and said, "Night," before she did so. She leaned back onto the comfy pillows, staring up at the pretty colored ceiling.

"Ah, here you are," Daddy Giles said, walking in to pick her up. "I thought you'd like a bath, why did you run out?"


"Ah, I see." He sat down beside her, making her look at him. "I know you miss him, Miri, but he's fine I'm sure. Very safe and happy. He's probably thinking about you right now too. We'll talk to Blair to see if he can't give you an address to send pictures to," he said to ease her pout, patting through her curls. "Now, come with me, it's time for your bath." He picked her up, carrying her back to Oz's apartment.


Xander looked at the slip of paper his therapist had given him then looked up in confusion. "What's this?"

"Alexi's address. Send it there, I'll forward it on to him." He waved at the couch. "She called us two days ago and we've managed to set this up." He smiled at the groan. "She was polite. She told us goodnight and everything. She's just lonely," he explained.

"She's rotten," Xander said, looking at the older man. "But this may help some of that, she's been really lonely, doesn't even want to play with the other kids in the playground when she goes."

"That's normal. I'm sure you would have done the same thing if you had lost a friend at that age." Blair shrugged. "It's very normal for her to feel upset that she lost him."

"Yeah, but I'm wondering who else she bothered."

"Not a clue but I'm sure your phone bill will be very enlightening." He grinned at the disgusted snort. "So, how's your week been?"

"Some deep thoughts. Giles and I took the weekend to be alone, we talked, we snuggled, we found out something. Giles wants to have a baby of his own, do the whole bloodline thing." He shrugged. "I'm okay with that and so's Oz, so we told him that was fine but we were going to share." Blair nodded. "But he's checked into the surrogacy agencies around here and they won't take him on because there are three of us. One said they wouldn't do it because he was gay." Xander slumped into the couch. "He just wants it so bad and it's hard to see him that disappointed."

"I'm sure it is. Has he checked into private surrogates?"

"I think he's doing the internet search today with Oz. Those two have really gotten tighter while looking for someone suitable."

"I can understand that, but how do you feel about it?"

"Actually, I'm really okay with it. I mean, I love both of them and I don't feel left out of this. They have the tools and the desire to do this so I'm doing the silent support thing. I'm being there for them."

"That's a very mature outlook," Blair told him with a small smile. "What else did you two talk about?"

"Um, college and stuff. Oz is trying to get me to take some bookkeeping classes and maybe a few business ones too." Xander ran a hand through his hair. "I'm not sure that's the wisest thing though. I like the business, but I get bored with it. I don't want to do it all the time."

"Are you?" Blair asked.

"No, not really. Giles does most of the ordering because I screw them up horribly. Oz does a lot of the stock management, did a database to track what we use and how much of it so Giles can order easier. I do the physical stuff. I stock and deal with the register. I put in the special orders most of the time, unless it's something Arcane then Giles does it." He pulled his feet up under him. "We're happy with the way it works right now and I seriously think that changing things will only hurt what we're happy with so I don't want to change it."

"Then don't, but will it not change on it's own?"

"You know, you sound just like that priest guy on that tv show, the one they show on TNT." Xander frowned at his counselor and friend. "All you need is some martial arts moves and a son that you slap, in love, every time he figures something out." Blair shook his head, laughing. "Hey, you do. You sound a lot like him."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Blair said, still smiling. "What about Miri? How's she doing otherwise?"

"Oh, fine. She's not really learning any new words or stuff. She's doing the plateau thing according to her doctor. She'll start using new words again in a month or so."

"At least you don't have to worry about her being abnormal."

"Wouldn't her block lifting trick be considered that?"

"Yes," Blair said slowly, "but only if you tell others about it or if you teach her it's not normal."

"No, we tell her it's normal but outsiders can't know about it." He grimaced. "She's stopped using it in the store now at least. No more worries there."

"That's good," Blair told him. "How about you and Oz? Getting better?"

"Yeah, muchly." He blushed. "They, um, used a mirror to show me..." He waved his hand in the air, giving his lower body a pointed look when Blair looked confused.

"Oh, that. Did it help? Are you more comfortable with it?"

"Yup, very. They taught me so much when they did that, and it didn't even come out as a lecture."

"I'm glad then."

"Me too. I have a better understanding of the thing now, and have a nice appreciation for what they see in it."

"And you."

"And me, but I'd like to think that they saw more of me than that one little part."

Blair nodded, holding up a finger as he answered the phone. He handed it over to Xander, who frowned. "Giles."

"Hey, what's up?" Xander asked his lover. He smiled and leaned against the edge of the desk. "That was nice of them to push it back another day." He nodded and hung up. "You know how they pushed the trial back by two days as a stalling tactic? Well, they just got another day."

"John's already back there so I'm sure he knows." The counselor smiled up at his patient. "But I guess it's good news. Especially to your men since they're worried what you're going to do and how much trouble you're going to get in."

"I don't get into trouble, Blair, it just happens around me." Xander sat back down, looking at the older man. "How's Sam?"

"Well, she's gotten some bad news recently so she's at the VCTF office to deal with it."

"Oh, tell her I'm sorry."

"Can do."


Xander held back the sniffles from his leave taking, still not wanting to let it out. He saw his faithful guardian so headed for him. "Hey, John, what's up with the trial?"

"Nothing, kid, absolutely nothing." He nodded behind him. "Come on, I put you up at a decent hotel that actually has security I would trust."

"I don't go looking for trouble," Xander told him, flustered. "And I'm going to spank Oz later for telling you that."

"He just gave me dates, I looked up things on my own, including what you're doing here this week." He frowned at the younger man as they walked out of the terminal. "I still would like to know why that psycho came after you."

"Not a clue," Xander said dully, sliding into the cab behind his new friend. "Why are you really here?"

"Faith's escaped." The younger man blanched and hissed. "Sam knows, she's had people watching your place since it happened, but she and Blair both thought that someone should guard you since you'd be the vulnerable one."

"Do Giles or Oz know?"

"Blair paid them a visit as soon as they got home." He patted the tense arm. "Relax, we have some of our best people watching over your family. Even Jim's taking turns."

"Why didn't you tell us sooner?" Xander asked quietly. He looked up. "She's in town, right?"

"We think so but we also spotted other people watching you and we wanted to check them out first."

"The Council," Xander muttered. "Like to blow them up."

"Just ask the psycho nicely, I'm sure he would do it for you, but it wasn't them." The younger man looked confused. "This was a *long* term thing."

"The Initiative?"

"Possibly. Or it could be another group that you've dealt with in the last few years. Your little group seems to draw some bad people to your area."

"Wasn't us, it was the Hellmouth," Xander told him quietly. "I'll explain it later."

"Okay, I look forward to that one."

John ran a hand over his face, brushing away the numb feeling. He glanced around the hotel room then back at the young man who had just filled in the gaps of his knowledge about his friends. "Why do I get the strange things?" he asked, shaking his head. He stood up, patting Xander on the top of his head. "Rest, kid, you deserve it after living there so long."

"I didn't realize anything was different until I met Buffy," Xander said, looking out the window. "I hadn't even heard of anything being wrong. I guess the things that inhabit Sunnydale decided not to pick on the kids."

"There are plenty of things that prey on kids already," John told him quietly, "and most of them are human. They didn't want to fight for the territory." He headed for the door. "Night, kid."

"Night, John." He picked up the phone, dialing down to room service. "Hi, this is Harris in 359, is the kitchen still open?" He sank back into the chair. "No, something like comfort food. I miss my baby."


Giles passed the bowl of potatoes to Blair, smiling weakly at him. "I do wish you had told us earlier."

"We wanted to but we had to make sure who else was watching you," Blair told him, dumping a spoonful of the fluffy stuff onto the baby's plate since he was sitting next to her. "We couldn't endanger our case by tipping off people who would work against us."

"The Initiative would do that," Oz admitted. "They got Buffy for a while." He watched his daughter try to feed herself. "I'd watch out, she flings food when she gets frustrated with the spoon because it won't feed her." His warning was finished about a half second too late.

Blair smiled. "I can see that," he wiped off his sleeve, "but I think that's a universal baby thing." He picked up her spoon, loading it and handing it to her. "Now put it in your mouth." He guided her hand in the right direction. "See? Much easier that way. Now you don't have to inhale them."

Giles smiled gently at his child. "It would be of great help when we clean her up." He grabbed Oz's hand lying on the table. "Is that why Sam sent John with him?"

"Yeah, Munch worked in New York for a few years. He was in Baltimore before that and he has a lot of safe places he can hide them if he needs to." Oz nodded. "That, and the man is paranoid. He'll be very careful about who comes up to Xander and who doesn't."

Oz snorted. "Good. I really didn't want to tell Miri about how her father got into trouble once to often when he traveled." He intently watched his daughter eat. "Any word on where Faith is?"

"Somewhere between here and LA."

"Does Angel know?" Giles asked. "He'd have a few sources of information that could look out for her."

"Sam went to him first. She didn't want to tell you right away, she knew we'd lose track of you when you all ran away." He frowned at his plate, one finger holding his ear piece in his ear. "Jim?" he asked, pulling his microphone down. "Jim?" He looked up at Giles and shook his head, watching the older man take the child with him. He headed out of Oz's apartment, heading down to where Jim was watching them.

Giles locked Oz and their daughter into his cage, tossing the keys in with him and turning the keypad toward them too. "There, safely away." He turned to find Spike standing there, jumping. "What? Why are you here?"

"They have Red," Spike whispered, punching Giles and knocking him out. "I didn't want to do that," he told Oz, "but they'll kill her."

"It's probable they'll do it anyway," Oz noted, holding Miri close. "You can't have her."

"The git, Faith, has some worse things comin' after me," Spike told him. "Would ya rather lose everything and be trapped in there or just hand her over?"

"You can't have her," Oz said again. He kissed the top of Miri's head. "She's not Faith's."

"She's her Ma, no matter how much it hurts to say it." Spike squatted down in front of them. "Just let me have her, I'll protect her."

"Until Faith stakes you," Oz said coldly, clutching his daughter tighter.

Miri frowned up at her father, pointing at her sitter. "Spike!"

"No, he's not Spike, he just looks like him," Oz told her. She gave him a confused look. "You can't go with him, precious, he'll hurt you, give you boo-boos."

"No," she said, shaking her head, sticking her tongue out at Spike. "No boos."

"What's taking so long?" another demon said as he walked in. He smiled at the cage. "Ah, the werewolf has her." He frowned at Spike. "That soul really hinders you, doesn't it?" Then he laughed.

Spike growled, getting up and punching the demon. "Not as much as you think," he said coldly, taking the demon out by throwing him through the window. "Now then," he said, turning back around to look at his usual pseudo-family. "We can do this the hard way or the easy way. We have a flamer downstairs, he'll just melt through the bars and the lock, or you can hand her over." His eyes begged for forgiveness and the mortal saw it because he inclined his head subtly.

"You burn the bars, you hurt Miri," Oz said simply. "You're not getting her." He looked toward the door when he heard the footsteps. "More friends?"

"Yes, though I know your stance on parties." Spike smiled, until he found the crossbow bolt sticking out of his stomach.

"Don't threaten my child again," Faith said coldly. She walked over his groaning form, heading straight for the cage. "Oz, give her to me."

"No way in Hell."

"I can arrange that," she told him, leaning against the bars, "or we could do this the easy way." She turned the keypad around, pressing the numbers in sequence. "Some of my new friends have this way of getting information," she said when the lock popped. "Now then, where are the keys."

"Red," Spike groaned, pulling out part of the broken arrow and tossing it away.

"She's living," Faith told him, "but only for a little while longer."

Spike looked from Oz to Faith and back but Oz nodded "You can't have the child," he said, standing up and pulling the bolt out. One good thing about his soul was that it was used to pain, it understood that sometimes pain was the only thing that held him to reality. "If you hurt Red, you're not getting her." He smiled at the baby. "She won't stay with you, whereas she likes me."

Faith laughed. "I'm her mother."

"And she's gifted. She puts Wesley down for fun. What do you think she'll do to someone that she doesn't trust?" he sneered. He pulled her back, slamming the Slayer into one of her demon consorts. "She won't stay with you, Faith, and I doubt you'll be able to take her from this building no matter how much power you pull in." He glanced behind him, seeing the baby behind her father now. "If you want your child that much, I'd expect Red to not be hurt." He turned, smiling. "I'll have her."

"Yay," Oz said coldly. "Not going there either." He flinched as a crossbow bolt came flying into the cage. "You ready to hit her with one of those?" he asked Faith.

Faith frowned. "Give me my child, you have no claim on her."

"She recognizes me as a father." He saw Giles coming around but didn't call attention to him, going back to taunting Faith. "Why couldn't you just die? She's the only good thing you've ever done and we won't let you taint her with you evilness."

"Yet you let *Spike* babysit her?" Faith nodded, grabbing one of the bars and pulling it. "Give me my daughter. You shouldn't be allowed to touch her."

Oz snickered. "Not that strong? And besides, he was harmless. She had him wrapped around her little fist. We *trusted* him with her, something we can't do with you." He backed up a step as another demon, a very large one, walked up to the bars, grabbing hold to help shake it apart. He screamed, holding his hands. "Silver."

Someone walked in, firing at the people/demons standing around. They got Faith, and Spike, but the other demon turned on him, throwing Jim into the wall with a grin. "Goody, play," the demon ground out.

"Hey," Oz said, "leave him alone, it's his job." He stepped forward, making sure Miri was behind him. "Leave, Faith, she doesn't even know you."

"I'm going to fix that though," Faith snarled, kicking the lock. It bent but didn't open. "What is with this thing?"

"It's made to restrain a werewolf, which is usually stronger than you."

"Yeah, too bad it can't come out now."

"Your charm," Giles called. "It will release the wolf." He got to his feet, glaring at Faith. "You can't have her. Not even if we die."

Faith shrugged and tried to hit him but he ducked under her swing, hitting her in the stomach then the back of her head, knocking her to the floor. "Damn, when did you get good?" she whined as she got up. She knocked his feet out from under him, pulling out a knife as she landed on his chest. "I should just do you now," she growled. "You've tainted my daughter."

"I've only done what the Council commands me do with her."

Miri frowned from behind her father, taking the knife. She knew that was a bad thing people shouldn't have, Daddy had told her that when he caught her playing with one. She brought it to her, giving it to her Daddy Oz, who smiled down at her. "Bad," she told him, nodding.

"Yeah, it's bad, Miri, thank you," Oz told her, picking her up to kiss her. "Faith, stop or I'll bite her."

Faith got up, standing there looking at her. "And? So she'll be furry three days a month."

"Magic and werewolves are an unpredictable combination," Giles said as he got up. He picked up a metal statue from Oz's desk and hit her across the head with it. "Whore," he muttered. "You deserve that for harming Xander."

"And more." Oz nodded at Jim, making Giles go over and check on him.

Giles bent down, checking the agent, grabbing his radio. "Hello? Is anyone else out there? Jim seems to be badly injured and could use some ..." He never finished the sentence, the bullet hitting him in the arm and making him pass out.

"It's between us," Buffy said as she walked in, dragging Faith out. "Protect the squirt, Oz."

"Buffy, don't become her," he warned.

"She's not a person, not an issue."

Oz looked down at his daughter, kissing the top of her head. "Spike, go get Willow, we're staying in here."

"I need her to get her back," the vampire pointed out dryly. "I'll bring them both back."

"No," Oz said firmly. "Go kill them all and get her back." He stared down the newly-souled creature, who walked out, muttering. "Giles?" he called. The older man groaned. "Damn. Miri," he said, turning her around and pointing at the cordless phone on the desk. "I need that, can you bring it over?" She looked up at him then at what he was pointing at, or what she thought he was pointing at, bringing the letter opener, clapping. "Okay, I can use this too, but I need the phone. That thing you called Uncle Blair with, okay?" She frowned, playing with her hair but got it for him. He dialed quickly. "Hi, this is Boca, we've had a break in up in the apartments above the store. Yeah, up those stairs. No, we have a Federal Agent down and one of the owners. No, I and the child are safe, just please send some help." He hung up, sitting back down, knowing he couldn't come out of the cage yet.

The emergency crews came in, frowning at the man in the cage. "Which one is the Federal Agent?" the lead one, a pale blonde that they had seen before, asked.

"The guy that's not Giles. He was slammed into the wall. Giles was shot in the arm by one of our friends as she broke in." He clutched Miri closer to him. "Xander's in New York."

"We'll handle it." The paramedic looked at the other creature on the floor. "What is that?"

"Get a priest, ask him," he said calmly. "He slammed Giles into the floor so he might have a head injury too." The Paramedic nodded, carefully rolling him over onto a board.


Oz walked in from the hospital, Miri asleep in his arms, when he was hit. He didn't even have a chance to see who it was, he was knocked unconscious immediately.

The cloaked man picked up the little girl, frowning down at her. "You're a bit of trouble," he said, his voice very deep and dark. His yellow eyes glanced over the man. "You've been a good guardian but she's not yours," he told the man on the floor as he stepped over him, heading down the stairs. He chanted before he got to the door, making sure no one would see him.

Oz woke up, holding his head. He looked around in alarm, then grabbed the phone. "Blair? Oz, no she's gone. I was knocked out as I walked in." He pulled himself up onto the couch, holding his throbbing head. "Just find her, please," he begged.


John looked at the note and frowned at the young Agent handing it to him, dragging him out of the courtroom. "How?"

"We don't know, sir. The middle father was just coming back from the hospital," John started to frown more so he handed over the folder he carried. "The complete details. All we know is that no one saw the child leave."

John read it quickly then walked in, tapping Xander on the shoulder. "Hall," he said quietly. The judge cleared his throat so he looked up. "Sorry, sir, but this is necessary."

"Is it? May I be told also?"

"If I may approach?" The judge nodded so he walked up to where he was sitting, handing over the folder with the simple phrase, "It's the witness's child."

Xander stood up, clutching the back of the pew. "Miri?"

"Gone," John said, looking at him. "With a lot of firepower it looked like." He turned back to the judge. "I have to take him home."

"I can see that..."

"I object," the Prosecuting attorney, a man with silvering hair, said as he jumped up. "You can't release the witness, we need him."

"I'm sure," the Judge said calmly, "but his child was stolen. I think that may take some precedence. We can do his testimony by phone or something." The attorneys nodded. "Mr. Harris, you are released, but do keep in touch with the Prosecuting Attorney's office." Xander nodded, grabbing his jacket. "I hope she's unharmed."

"Me too, I'd hate to end up in jail for hurting her mother," he said as he walked out. John stopped him at the elevator. "Who and where?"

"Faith was stopped," he said, handing over the folder. "She was taken on the second try."

Xander read it, his stomach falling. "The Council?"

"Maybe, no one *saw* her leave."

Xander walked into the elevator, pushing the button. "Gee, magic can do that. Willow was working on something like that." He glanced at the other passenger, who was studiously ignoring them. He waited until they got in the car to say anything else. "How are we getting home?"

"Easy," John said as he pulled out his phone, dialing a number. "Bailey? John, no I have Xander with me and we need to get him home. No, his daughter's missing." He nodded and hung up. "Plane'll be at the airport in two hours. Just enough time to pack." He started the car, heading out of the garage.


Xander leaned over Giles, kissing his forehead. "I'll find her and make Faith pay," he whispered.

"Wasn't her," Willow said, holding the ice pack over her still throbbing face. She pulled it off to look at him, making him wince at the bruises. "Buffy took Faith to deal with her. This was after that."

"Where's Buffy?"

"Not a clue," Oz said from his position on the bed, eyes closed to minimize the headache. "Whoever hit me was real strong, got me on the first swing." He opened an eye to look at Willow, shaking his head. "She was taken by Faith's people to make Spike help," he said quietly, looking at Jim, who was frowning at them. "This is going to get weird, just accept it."

Jim shook his head. "I don't think I can do that." He turned his glare on Xander. "You're..."

"Shut up," Xander said coldly, standing up. "You're in no shape to help right now and I'm not taking you from your family or Blair. If I need help that badly, I can steal John." He tugged his shirt back down, looking down at his lovers. "I'll get her back," he promised. He kissed them each, being very gentle, then dropped a small kiss onto Willow's hair before leaving, John and Jim following him. "Blair, get your dog," he called as he passed by the waiting room on his way to the elevator.

"Whoa," Blair said, jogging to catch him, grabbing Xander to stop him. "You can't do this alone, let us help. Jim's combat trained..."

"And so am I, in this sort of situation. Magic isn't something he's going to be able to deal with." He stared down his friend and counselor. "I'll see you later," he said, getting away and slipping into the elevator.

John held up a small monitor after the elevator had closed, making Blair smile slightly. "He'll have the help when he needs it."


Xander leaned over the man he had pulled out of his car into the park. "Who has her?" he growled. The Council's man tried to back away from him but he stomped a foot in the middle of the man's stomach. "Who has her?" he asked again, his voice's temperature dropping.

"She does. She got away from Buffy and had someone more major come after her," he moaned. "You're going after her?"

"She's *mine*," Xander told him coldly. "Your job should be to keep the Initiative off us." He backed away, spitting beside the man. "Never come back. You won't like what I do to you next time." He turned, jogging off into the night.

Xander smiled cruelly at the vampire that was now tied to the chair. "You know, threatening my child apparently brings out the bad in me." He sharpened the stake, glancing at Spike. "Now then, where?"

"She's in the caves outside'a town," he said, trying to move away from the demented looking human. "I'd not have hurt her, I would have kept her and given her back after Faith was done for."

Xander nodded. "I know you didn't try to hurt anyone, besides hitting Giles, I've seen the report Oz gave Blair." He leaned closer, pushing the point of his knife into the cold chest. "Now then, which one?" He looked directly into the blue eyes. "And don't think that I won't break Willow's heart. My child's *much* more important than her."

Spike swallowed. "Angel's tracking her. I got a message to him before Faith tried to break in, he said he'd come get her."

"Thanks, now which cave?" Xander stepped back, smiling again. "I could leave you there, that window faces east." The vampire shook his head. "Yeah, it does. Unless I screwed up my directions again."

"I don't know. She got me from Willow's room, we were only in there. Find Angel, I'm sure he'd know."

"Thanks," Xander said, walking away.

"Hey, the window," the vampire called.

"I'm sure Willow will be here in a while. I'll call her from the store." He headed down to Giles' private stash of weapons and 'things' as he called them, selecting what he wanted to bring with him, including a knife he knew was enchanted to pull souls away from whomever it hurt. He finished strapping on what he wanted then picked up the phone, closing the special door. "Willow? I have Spike tied to a chair in Oz's cage room with the shade up." He hung up, walking out the back door of the store. He disappeared into the night, his dark gray clothes that he had changed into blending in well now.

Jim looked at Blair, who nodded, then followed the young man carefully. Grieving parents were always unpredictable.


Xander snuck up behind where Buffy was tied to a post, using the knife to let her go. "Helping or not?" he whispered. She nodded. "Thanks." Buffy smiled at him, patting his arm. Then she threw a punch at him, but he hit her with the pepper spray in his other hand. "Oops," he said, moving farther into the room as she tried to clean the burning substance off her face. "Oh, Faith," he called, walking toward his daughter. He heard movement behind him but ignored it, smiling at his daughter. "Hi, Miri. Are you okay?" She nodded, moving to the side of the cage to touch him.

"Me," she said, nodding. Then she scowled at someone behind him. "Bad you."

Faith laughed. "Yeah, kid, I'm not nice. Quit sucking your thumb, that's not good."

Xander turned to face her. "Shut up. You don't know shit." He looked her over. "Gee, aren't you psycho looking." She made a move toward him and he flinched but not much. "Feel better?"

"Yeah, actually, I do." She went for him for real this time, trying to hit his jaw. She gagged as the spray hit her face, backing away and rubbing her eyes. "That's not fair."

"No, I'm through playing fair." He pulled out the knife, the demon that had been standing behind Faith turning and running. "Gee, you're scary?" he asked it. He looked over his shoulder, seeing Angel standing there. "Oh, he ran from you. Grab my daughter and wait outside." The vampire started to say something but did as he was told so Xander turned his attention back to Faith, who was running. He started after her, ducking around Wesley when he tried to grab him. He caught her at the entrance to the cave, tackling her to bring her down. "Stupid ho," he whispered, cutting the back of her neck, watching the blade glow. "I brought stuff more powerful than you." He dropped the knife on top of her back as he got up, stepping away from her as she tried to move and screamed. "That's how I felt when I found out Miri was gone," he told her, picking the knife back up when it had stopped glowing. He saw Spike and Willow standing there so handed the knife to Spike. "Here, this soul should cure your priest problem. Get Willow to put it in you." He turned around to find Angel holding his daughter and stole her from him before she could be handed over voluntarily. "Shh, sweetie, you're safe now and she'll never touch you again." He spit on Faith's still body, walking over her and heading toward where he could see a car. "We're going to the hospital," he told Blair, who was standing in the door, as he slid in.

"Okay, I can deal with that. What was with the knife?"

"Steals souls." Xander nuzzled his daughter's head, smelling her. "We'll take you to see Daddies in a minute, after I make sure you're fine."

She smiled up at him. "Me?" He nodded. "Daddies?" He nodded again, this time smiling. "'Tay." She patted his chin. "Me Daddies."


Oz groaned as he accepted his daughter, clutching her tightly against his chest. "You're okay," he whispered, looking up at Xander, who nodded. "How?"

"Big shiny knife. Some pepper spray. She's fine and Faith is back in custody."

"And you?" Giles asked, holding up his non-restrained arm to get a hug, the youngest man laying on top of him. "Are you all right also?" he whispered, kissing him.

"I'm fine," Xander said, looking up at him. "I took all that fear and turned it into anger before I went after her. And your knife is with Willow, I thought she could do something useful with *her* soul."

John cleared his throat from the chair. "We'll have to go back to New York."

"They can call," Xander said. "I'm not leaving yet."

"You can bring them with you," he reminded them, sighing as Blair and Sam walked in. "Just reminding him of his duty."

"I think he's had enough of that," Sam said, smiling at the family then at her co-worker. "We'll get them all back there. Oh, and Bailey wasn't pleased that you asked to use the plane that way."

"It was an emergency," he said with a small smile. "If it was his kid, or John's kid, he would have okayed it."

"Very true," she said with another smile. "He even admitted as much when I pointed it out to him, but he did say not to make a habit of it." She turned back to the family. "Xander, next time let people help you, that was very dangerous. For both of you. Even with Angel there."

"Yay," he said with a small yawn. "It won't happen again. I had a talk with the Council's guy to make sure it wasn't them." Giles snickered. "Yup, he wet himself and ran home."

"Not quite," Blair told them. "It's a different person watching the store but they're still there. She told Jim she was there for protection of Miri and all of you since not all of Faith's helpers were picked up."

"Buffy?" Xander asked quietly.

"Was she helping?"

Willow walked in, tossing a bag of pills at Blair. "When we were moving me we found these in my desk." She kissed each of the trio's head's then Miri, then slapped Xander's. "Don't harm my Spike again."

"Next time leash him better," he muttered. She snorted. He looked at his counselor and friend. "Drugs?"

"Speed," he said.

Giles nodded. "It's happened. She's used to the rush of fighting constantly and it has slowed down over the last few years."

"Since graduation," Willow noted. "Though she was using before that." She looked down, watching Giles pet Xander to keep him calm. "Sorry."

"No, this isn't one of those times for delicacy," Giles told her. "She had said that Faith started her on things, mentioning alcohol."

"Beer, the true gateway drug," Blair quipped, putting the bag into his jacket pocket. "We can recommend some good rehabs."

"She's a casual user," Oz told them, passing Miri over to Giles to take Xander. "It's on again, off again, for a few weeks at a time."

"Still need to fix her," Xander said with a small yawn. "You're cuddly, can I use you as a pillow?"

"Sure," Oz told him, rubbing his back. "You had a bad night, rest, babe." He looked at Giles. "When can you go home?"

"As soon as all of you get out of my bed," he said dryly. Sam walked over to take Miri from him and help him stand up. "I'll get dressed, you let him rest for now." He walked into the bathroom, where the nurse had put his clothes for him, and closed the door.

Blair looked at Oz. "We don't have a *true* account of this," he told him, staring into the gray eyes. "I wrote it."

"Okay," Oz told him, nodding. "Whatever is best." He rubbed down Xander's back, smiling at the snore. "We'll need to roll him down too."