Problems Solved The Hard Way.

Giles walked out, finding Xander and Oz exactly where he expected them, looking at the kittens in the barn. He sat down beside Xander, simply pulling him into his side. Even he knew what it meant when they were gone that long. "You weren't careful enough?" he asked quietly. Oz shook his head. "What are you going to do?"

"Not sure yet," Xander said, equally quiet. "Really am not sure." He looked up at Giles. "You have an opinion?"

"Not really, though I do have a prejudice in this matter." He squeezed Xander hard. "I'll support you, whichever route you choose to go." He got up. "Come inside when you're ready, I made pizza and Willow's gone home."

Xander looked at Oz. "I'm not sure he meant the same thing you did," he said, taking Oz's hand to squeeze. "I'm pretty sure he meant the route I choose to not go."

Oz nodded. "This must be hard for him. Willow's having his and now you." He shifted closer. "I don't know what to tell you here, Xander. I'm scared for you to have it. I'm petrified of you having it. But on some level, I want it."

Xander nodded, sinking into his willing body to be cuddled. "Maybe we can find a way to transfer it to someone."


"Don't know, didn't get much past that part." Xander closed his eyes. "Just hold me for a few more minutes?"

"Yeah, I can do that."


Xander woke up, not knowing why, and looked around. He slid out of the bed, heading out of the trailer's bedroom to look out the bigger front windows, trying to find out why he had woken up. He found Miri out there, looking out the window too. "Why are you up?" he asked her, hugging her.

"No sleep. Spike." She blinked at him. "Me?"

"Yeah, I know you miss Spike but he went to be fixed. That way you can have your sitter back." She nodded, hugging him back. "Go to bed now."

"Kitties?" she asked, looking out the windows.

"I'm sure they're fine. So's Auntie Willow." She nodded and headed back to her room, closing the door behind her. He looked outside again, trying to see what it was that woke him up. No shadowy werewolf figures running around, no rampaging kittens either. He decided to sit and watch the stars twinkle, trying to forget what was going on inside him.

Until the first pain hit him. Then he doubled over, groaning in agony as his stomach ripped apart. "Ow," he complained, moving down to sit on the floor and brace himself against the wall. He closed his eyes, breathing through the pain, which was lessening minute by minute. When he could, he got up and headed into the bathroom, wincing at the blood that was now coming out of his body. He drew a warm bath, sliding into it and closing his eyes. "Not fair," he told his body, "you didn't give me a chance."

Willow put down the spell book, glaring at Angel. "Fix Spike, now," she said, deadly serious. He nodded, starting the spell to change Spike back to his normal form.


Oz woke up and stretched, then sniffed something on the wind. He forced open the cage in the barn, heading up to where the trailer was sitting, forgetting completely about clothes in his haste to find the source of the blood he could smell, fearing the worst had happened. He ran into the trailer, sniffing the air, heading for his own bedroom, then into the bathroom when he found it empty. He found Xander asleep in the tub, the water pink-tinged and cold now. He ran a hand over the warm forehead, wincing as he figured out what must have happened. "Oh, Xander," he said, lifting him out and into his lap. "I'm sorry." He rocked the younger man until he woke up.

Xander blinked, looking at the pale, bare chest holding him. Then he wrapped his arms around it. "It happened last night," he told him. "Right after I sent Miri back to bed." He looked up. "You okay?" he asked, touching the single tear running down his face. "I'm okay."

"Yeah, I know, I'm just sad." Oz lifted Xander up, carrying him out to their room. "Get dressed, I'm taking you to his office."

"He's not in..." Xander started.

Oz shook his head. "I'm sure he'll come in to see you somehow." He headed out to the phone, walking past Giles, who was guzzling milk. "I've got to take him to LA," he said quietly, picking up the phone and dialing. "Hi, this is a patient of Doctor Adams'. I need to talk to him very badly. Yeah, it's an emergency." He tapped his foot, waiting while the answering service connected him. "Hey, it's Daniel Osbourne, yeah Oz. No, he's been bleeding. I woke up to find him in a tub of water. When?" he said, looking at the clock. "Okay, we'll be there." He hung up. "He said he could meet us in about three hours. You coming or not?"

"Of course I am," Giles said, looking down Oz's bare body. "Though I think maybe you should have clothes on by then." He headed back toward the bedroom, pulling Xander into a hug. "I'm sure it'll be fine, whatever has happened." He pulled out some clothes for himself, pulling them on. "Hurry up, we'll get you something to eat on the way." He headed into the bathroom, coming back after a second. "I let the water out and hosed off the bathtub," he told him, patting him on the shoulder.

Oz walked in, handing Xander a sandwich. "All we had, sorry," he said quietly. Xander nodded, eating it as he pulled on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt, something Oz mirrored. "Ready?" he asked. Xander shook his head, heading into the bathroom and closing the door. He waited until the younger man came out to hug him, just holding him for both their sakes right then, before heading out to the car.


Xander's doctor came out of the examining room, looking at Oz where he was resting with his head against the wall. "He'll be okay," he said, patting him on the back. "It wasn't what you thought." He pulled Oz back into the exam room, pushing him into a chair beside a sleeping Xander. "He didn't miscarry but it's more than likely that he will. He wanted *your* opinion on the matter before he made a decision."

Oz rubbed down Xander's back, leaning over to rest his head on his side. "What's going to be best?"

"If I take it. It's not unhealthy from what I can tell, which isn't much, but he's not ready yet. A few hormones and he may be, but not right now." Oz nodded. "I know this one was an accident, but if you want to actually try, I'm pretty sure he'd be okay to do that, with some tinkering with his hormones." Oz nodded again. "Still in shock?" Oz nodded again. "I'll give you a few minutes while I go talk to your other side." He got up and walked out, heading out to where Giles was sitting in the waiting room. "Xander's fine, he's sleeping right now." He sat down across from him. "He didn't miscarry." He stopped when he saw the frown. "Is that good or bad?"

Giles shook his head. "It doesn't matter."

"It wasn't planned, I've heard how it happened, it was truly an accident, Mr. Giles. Don't be too hard on them for it."

"I won't be, I know they didn't do this on purpose." He ran a hand over his face. "So he's carrying it?"

"Maybe. I don't think it's for the best at the moment. They're discussing if you'd like to go see them."

Giles shook his head. "That should stay between them."

Oz woke Xander up with a small kiss to his cheek, looking down at his face. "Did he tell you?" Xander nodded, sitting up. "I don't want you to be hurt."

"He said there's a drug he could give me and make me miscarry instead of doing a full ..." He shook his head. "I can't say that word." Oz nodded. "I..."

"We're doing what's best for you. If we want to consider this later, after all the medical stuff is over, then we will." Xander nodded, giving him a small smile. "Just had gotten your mind wrapped around it?"

"Almost. I got to the part where I accepted the phrase 'I'm pregnant', but nothing else." He ran a hand over his stomach. "Did he say why?"

"Just your hormones being out of whack." Xander nodded, still looking down so Oz joined their hands. "I may want, some day, but not now, okay?" Xander looked up at him. "Not when it's a choice between you and him."

Xander smiled. "Really?"

"Yeah. Someday, when we're all steady and ready for it to happen. When we're ready to let you hide for a few months and we're not planning on lifting furniture in the near future. When the house is all done and we are *both* ready." Xander leaned over and kissed him. "Okay?"

"Yeah, I like that idea." He squeezed the hand in his. "Will you stay?"

"Of course. I'm not moving. And if you have to be admitted for something, then you're not getting away from me at all. Being furry or anything." Xander nodded, puckering his lips, which got him kissed again. "Want me to go tell him?"

"No, I want to lay here for a few more minutes." Xander blinked. "Oz, what if this is a Goddess blessed one? I mean, if it was Willow's spell that allowed this, then aren't we going to be in trouble?"

"I think she'll understand. We'll talk to Willow tonight."

Doctor Adams came in. "Well, she's in the next exam room. Her stomach's cramping." He looked at them. "What is going on with you two?"

Oz looked at Xander, who nodded. "Close the door."

Xander looked up as Willow chanted over him, smiling slightly at her. She leaned down to kiss his cheek. "Wasn't your fault," he whispered, "but I may go stake Angel for it."

She smiled. "Don't worry. I think Oz was heading over there." She saw the small panicked look so shook her head. "He's right outside. He'll go over later." He nodded, closing his eyes again, not watching as she lit the candle.


Oz pounded on Angel's door, pushing past Cordelia when she opened it. "I want him, where is he?" he growled. She backed away from him, holding up her hands. "The spell almost killed Willow *and* Xander. Where is he?" She pointed toward the bedroom so he headed that way. He dodged the crossbow bolt, grabbing the vampire by the neck. "Oh, that's not going to work on me, I'm not that scared of you." He squeezed, crushing the vampire's unneeded windpipe and vocal chords.

"Prophecy," Angel gasped.

"And that was important enough to kill both of them?" Angel nodded. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't pull you outside and play in the sun with you?"

"Stop it," Spike said, walking out of the bathroom. "They're both fine."

"Because Willow had to do something to apologize to the Goddess for interfering with Her work. They *both* almost died this morning; Xander started to bleed while we were changed. We found him in a tub full of water after sunrise. She's at the doctor's right now to make sure she isn't miscarrying from the spell herself."

Spike hissed. "He had no idea it would hurt them."

"*She* made it happen, Spike, not Willow. She called on the Goddess to help her get pregnant and it worked on Xander too. You tell me what was going to happen when she tried to make him miscarry." He shook Angel, ramming him into the wall.

"Is she okay?" Spike asked. Oz nodded, growling again. "He was going to be next, but I'm bound to her."

"Understandable. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill him."

"Because then the Powers That Be will make you take his place?" Cordelia asked. "Just like they did to me when one of our co-workers died?" She looked at Angel. "I don't agree with his actions, and I wasn't here when he made Willow do it to fix Spike, but killing him lets him off of his misery too early. Besides, Doyle will miss having someone to talk football with and he'll come do that to me."

Oz shook Angel again then let him go. "Good point." He looked at them. "You both are allowed and welcome to come to us when you need it, as is Wesley when he gets back." She nodded. "I'm taking them home. Spike, Willow said you had her keys, we'll be out at the house."

Spike looked confused. "I have no idea how to get there. I've only seen the bottom six inches of it and I was asleep when we traveled." He took the paper and pen Cordy handed him, handing them over. "A map maybe?"

"Sure," Oz said, drawing it out. "From the store." He handed it over. "Make a copy for her and Wes." He looked him over. "You okay?"

"More or less, I don't feel like chasin' cars anymore but I'll miss being petted." He smiled, walking over Angel's limp form to kick it. "Tell her the bindin' still held, I'm still not myself."

Oz nodded, heading out of the underground apartment.


Oz knocked on their bedroom door, walking in with tray for Xander, who was supposed to be sleeping but was instead reading a book. "Hey," he said, putting the tray across his lap. "How you feelin'?" he asked, kissing him gently.

"Okay. No more pains." He looked at the food on the tray then back up at Oz. "I'll be okay tonight, don't worry about it." He reached up to brush through the sweaty red hair. "Have you been chopping wood?"

"No, I've been moving things around in Miri's room. She picked up your decorating habit when she's upset." Xander grinned guiltily and picked at the chicken on the plate. "Eat for me? And if you need anything, Spike just called. He's made it as far as town. He'll be here soon." He stood up. "Okay?"

"Yeah. I hope Willow won't hurt him for painting the windows."

"She won't, he put trashbags over them." He stretched. "Be okay tonight?"

"I will," Xander said, setting aside the tray and holding out his arms. "Hug?"

Oz pulled him partially up to hold him as tightly as he could. "Anytime you need one," he told him, kissing his cheek before settling him back in the bed and putting the tray back across his lap. "You still have to eat, Xander, no fudging by feeding it to Miri." He got another guilty grin and chuckled. "I know, it's not high on the list of priorities but you have to do it. If you do it well, then we'll check on the furniture tomorrow, okay?" Xander nodded, picking up one of the chicken strips and dipping it in the ranch dressing, nibbling on it to show him he was eating. "Thank you. Do you need another book?"

"No, but can I have your computer? Just to play games on and things?"

"Sure," Oz said, walking over to the dresser to bring it back to the bed and plug it in. "All done." He stood back up. "Anything else?"

"Um, we need to call the electric company and phone people on Monday to make sure that we can get hooked up soon." Oz nodded. "Can I do that still?"

"If you can do it from a chair or in bed," Oz told him, "otherwise, no. I'll have Giles do it." He looked outside. "He's already down at the cage."

"He wanted it to happen this way," Xander said, reaching out to touch Oz's hand. "He's living in 'it's how I expected' land again so he's comfy. We'll be okay and he'll see we're upset soon." Oz nodded. "Don't hurt him."

"I won't." Oz leaned down for one last kiss. "I'll be in the kitchen for a few more minutes if you need me. I'm draining a steak for Spike." He got another grin and left the bedroom, heading out to the kitchen. "Hey, Will," he said, kissing the top of her head as she spooned ice cream out for herself and Miri. "I've got her supper ready."

"This is for later for her." She licked the spoon and put it into one of the bowls. "But thank you." He hugged her, squeezing gently.

"You're both okay, that's what's important to me." He let her go, picking up his water to drink. "Go back to bed, Spike's in Sunnydale and he'll be out soon." He saw her frown. "He put trashbags over the windows, don't worry about it."

"What did you do to Angel?" she asked quietly, looking down at Miri as she ate her chicken strips, dunking them just like her father, if a little bit more messily.

"I slammed him into the wall a few times and scared him." He walked past her. "He was living when I left." He waved from the doorway. "We'll be okay tonight, you go back to bed."

She waved as he walked off, sitting down beside Miri at the table. "Try to dunk just the edge and you'll be okay," she said, showing her how. Miri smiled at her.


Spike tapped on Xander's door, knowing he was up. He walked the bowl of ice cream Willow had insisted he bring the boy over to the bed, handing it to him. "Her majesty said you needed this," he said dryly, catching a glimpse of the screen before it was switched off. "What's that?"

"Nothing, just putting down some thoughts." Xander took the bowl, taking a bite. "Thanks. You feel better now that you're not a beagle?"

"Yes, quite. I don't have fleas." That got a small groan of complaint. "Though chasing my tail was fun." He sat on the bed. "You really okay? Oz'd have my hide for boots if he thought I had mistreated you. Not that I can with what she's done to me."

Xander licked off his spoon. "I'm fine. Not particularly fond of the blood I'm leaking but otherwise I'm okay. No more pains. At least in my stomach. My head's another matter entirely." He looked around the room. "Think the phone cord would reach in here?"

"Not hardly," Spike snorted. "Maybe the kitchen. Why don't ya email him?" He stood up. "I'm going to go sup with her majesty, you behave." He walked out, closing the door.

Xander grinned. "Hadn't thought about that." He reached over to grab the phone cord that was plugged up so Oz could check his mail last night, plugging it into the computer and searching for the button to let him connect.


Oz woke up alone in his corner, and looked around the cage. He stood up and stretched, the all important one that proved he was human again, heading out to grab his robe and sneakers and walk up to the house. He walked into the bedroom, seeing Giles bending over his computer reading something. "Hey," he said, walking over to look at it. "Didn't know he did that."

Giles nodded. "Only when he needs to. He used to keep a diary if you remember." He stood up and looked at Oz, his eyes bright with unshed tears. "I'm sorry if I've seemed cold and distant, I really didn't think he wanted it."

Oz hugged him. "It was kinda a want to but not want to." He let the older man go. "Come on, we smell like the barn." He pulled Giles into the shower, spending some time alone with him now that he understood how he felt.

Xander rolled over, shutting off the computer. "I didn't want them to see you," he muttered, getting up and heading for the kitchen. He found Miri staring at the contents of the refrigerator, door wide open. "Need something?" he asked.

"You breakfast?" she asked, pointing at the inside of the machine.

"Oh, you wanted to make me breakfast?" She nodded, grinning up at him. "Well, how about we make it together then? For the other daddies?" She giggled, running toward her room. "What?"

"Me!" she called back, closing the door behind her.

"Good idea, it's too early for both of you to be up." Oz kissed the back of Xander's neck. "What do you want to eat? I'm ready to spoil you today."

Xander turned, hugging him. "This is all the spoiling I need. Even Spike spoiled me last night, he brought me ice cream." He saw Giles over Oz's shoulder and stiffened slightly. "Morning," he said slowly.

Giles walked over, hugging Xander also. "I had no idea that you might have wanted it, I'm sorry, love. If I had known I would have been closer."

Xander shook his head. "Shouldn't have mattered. Even if I didn't and I had chosen to go... that route, I will would have wanted you there with me." He buried his face in Oz's neck, sniffing him. "You used my soap?" he mumbled.

"Wanted to smell like you today," Oz explained, turning him around. "Remember, Giles is kind of a closed off guy, he didn't know that you'd want him there. It's not natural for him to hover."

Xander nodded. "I'm sorry, that was unfair."

"No, it was very fair," Giles told him, pulling him in for a hug. "I should have been there, no matter what, and I can only look back and curse myself for my stupidity." He kissed Xander's forehead gently. "Now then, shouldn't you be lounging?"

"No, I need to do something."

"Go finish what you were writing," Oz suggested. "It'll probably help you more than talking to us could." Xander nodded. "It will?"

"In some ways. In others, no. But I've got it all down now." He pulled Oz behind him, making him cuddle him too. "I'll do the phone stuff this week and we'll be fine." Xander walked over to the phone as it rang, picking it up. "Yeah?" He smiled. "Hi, Sam. What's up on your end of the country? Well Blair said you were back in Atlanta filling in for a few weeks while your old boss ran off with someone." He pulled the phone into the kitchen. "No, I'm not okay, but I'm surrounded by loving and hovering mates right now." He nodded and handed the phone to Oz. "Here, she wants to nag you." He headed for the counter. "Miri, want to come help me fix breakfast?"

"Me!" drifted out from her bedroom, with a giggle. "No!"

Giles shook his head with a fond smile. "I can't wait until she starts talking in full sentences." He took the phone from Oz, heading down the hall with it to be alone.

Oz snuggled up behind Xander, wrapping his arms around him. "She said to give you many hugs all the time and to be here when you're ready to talk." Xander nodded. "But I forgot to tell her we've got to go to the store or else we can't eat."

Xander put down the fork he was drying off. "Yeah, we do need food, don't we?" He turned in the strong arms, hugging Oz back. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." Oz looked down at their clothes, then back up at Xander. "Super Walmart is always open. Want to go shopping?"

"Only if we can stop at the bulk store. We should stock up on some things and they'll be cheaper there." Oz nodded. "Go grab the cards and Giles. We'll all go."

Giles walked back out and hung up the phone. "I think I'll run out for breakfast materials."

"We were going to Super Walmart," Oz offered.

"I heard you but the thought of grocery shopping right now makes my stomach churn. I'll run out to one of the fast food places and get us breakfast while you boys shop."

Xander looked at Oz. "We're boys again?"

"Some days." Oz looked at Giles. "You sure?" He got a nod and a frown. "Okay, money? You had all the cards."

Giles tossed his wallet over. "I confiscated them so Xander couldn't go on a buying spree again."

Oz nodded. "True, but we need one right now." He rubbed down Xander's back. "Go get ready and things." The younger man nodded, heading back into the bathroom. "You got cash for breakfast?"

"No but I do have my own bank card. I can stop and get some." He smiled as Xander came back out. "Everything still okay?"

"Yup, the bleeding's slowed down some." He wiped his hands off. "We need to do laundry again too."

"If we could be out all day, we could hop over to the mall and check out washers and stuff," Oz said, looking at the wallet. Xander nodded. "No, you're supposed to be resting."

"Which I'll do plenty of in the car. Besides, we'll have some time between grocery shopping and being able to go over there, it's Sunday."

"Good point. Or we could look at Walmart."

"They don't deliver," Giles reminded them. "Nor do we have a truck to use for such an occasion."

"We have a van," Oz reminded him. "And if we had to, we could go rent a small U-Haul trailer." Giles nodded, waving them off. "Really?"

"If you can find something that you like that much, please do so. Are you taking the van? My car's the only one with a trailer hitch."

Oz's face scrunched up. "I really don't want to but it'd be more practical for groceries. As long as it doesn't break down."

"Again," Xander added. "If it starts."

Oz grunted. "Next one will be one of those that can go through hurricanes. That should survive in Sunnydale." He grabbed his keys. "If not, we'll come back up and drive you down and drop you back off with breakfast." They headed out to the van, sliding in. Miraculously, it started on the first try and they pulled down the driveway after a few minutes to let the old motor warm up.


Xander picked up the six pack of beer but Oz took it from him and put it back. "Hey!"

"That's an unnecessary treat, one which we're trying to cut back on." He steered the young man toward the food again. "Go pick up something to eat tonight." He watched him go, shaking his head. "No beer." Someone behind him giggled and he turned to find Buffy and Anya standing there with Buffy's mother. "Hey," he said. "What's up?"

"Grocery shopping," Joyce said. "You too apparently."

Oz nodded. "Not only for us but for Willow and Spike and the workmen at the house." Joyce smiled at him. "Two more weeks at the most. Actually, a week before the work's finished and about a week and a half before we have furniture, if we haven't angered the scheduling Gods." He looked at what Xander was carrying back over. "Thought you hated those?"

"Not really fond of them but Willow wanted some lasagne tonight and I'm not up to making mine." He smiled at Joyce and the two young women. "Hi."

"Willow's staying with you guys?" Buffy said.

"For a few days," Oz agreed. "She wasn't feeling well." He handed the cart to Xander. "Want to do the lunch meat or me?"

"Me, I know what the workers like." He rolled it away, heading for the meat aisle, waving at them. "Later."

Oz grunted at Buffy. "She's fine. Just a little scare the other day. But we did fix the mystery of missing Spike. He was Miri's dog."

Joyce shook her head. "This is where I join Xander doing normal things." She waved at Oz. "Invite me out when you're having your housewarming." She rolled away, heading for the frozen foods.

Buffy looked at Oz. "He was Miri's dog? How did that happen?"

"Long story or short one?" he asked.



She nodded. "Okay then." She looked at Anya. "Maybe you should go help Mom. She never gets the kind of ice cream you like."

"Xander would know," she sniffed, walking away.

Buffy grunted. "Hate being compared to him," she muttered. She looked at Oz. "What happened this time and do I need to fix it?"

"No, I got it. Everyone's fine and your ex is still living, if banned from our house." She looked concerned. "Not my story to tell, it's Xander's and Willow's." She nodded. "Sorry, can't divulge."

She waved him off. "If I were you, I wouldn't tell me either. I'm not near the inner circle still." She punched his arm lightly. "No big."

"Not that," he sighed. "It's really Xander's story to tell and I can't tell it without his permission." She nodded again. "Nothing to do with our split."

Buffy smiled. "It's okay, Oz, I understand."

Xander walked back over, frowning at them. "Understand what?"

"Why he can't tell me what Angel did wrong this time." She looked him over. "You look like you're from the early house husband period. You okay?" she asked when he went pale, reaching out to catch him.

"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks, Buffy." Xander shook himself. "I'm okay, really." He leaned on the cart. "Want to come out for the housewarming in a few weeks?"

She smiled. "Sure. I'm doing good in my group and I could probably take a night off to party." She waved. "I should go save Mom from Anya, they don't get along well." She jogged down an aisle where she could hear the argument starting.

Oz turned to look at Xander. "You really okay?"

"Fine," he said. "Just a little shocked by her comment."

"Well, we are both dressed in early Southern Trailer Park at the moment," he said dryly, "and you were going for beer, an unXander-like thing to do."

"I just wanted one."

"I could see that." Oz looked his lover over, seeming to consider him. "Get the good kind." He took the cart and walked away. "Come on, we still have lots to buy."

Xander grabbed a six pack of 'the good kind' and followed Oz back down to the meat section. "Can I have a steak too?" he asked as he caught up to him.

"Sure, you can tempt Giles with it."


Oz looked out at his van's hood in disgust as it stalled, again. He looked over at Xander, who was now sleeping in his seat, then back out the front window. He pulled out his cellphone, dialing home. "Giles? No, had another breakdown." He nodded and hung up, shaking his head before laying it on the steering wheel. "Why now?"

"Because it loves you?" Xander suggested, leaning over to kiss his lover's cheek. "We'll be okay. Just give it a few minutes and we'll try and start it again."

"It's not usually that complacent," Oz reminded him. "It's usually cranky and requires a trip to the mechanic to make it start again." He tried the ignition but it didn't even make a sound.

Xander got out and went around to the front, opening the hood and looking inside. After a second he shut it and came back. "Try it now, that should at least get us home. You need a new something." Oz looked at him. "Happened on Uncle Rory's car all the time. Something needed replaced but if I wiggled just the right thing, it started again. Try it before I have to go wiggle it again."

Oz started the van, reaching over to pat his shoulder. "Thanks, Xander. We're going car looking next week though."

"For how many?"

"Two if we could find cheap used ones." Oz pulled back onto the road, heading for home as quickly as he dared. "You need one, I need one, we need something bigger too. Maybe a cheap car and a cheap truck."

"I still have...."

"And you're not touching the money in the bank," Oz told him firmly. "We'll need that for more important things."

Xander nodded. "If you say so."

"I do."

Giles grunted as Xander jogged past him into the bathroom, heading out to help Oz carry in the groceries. "Did we buy up the whole store?" he asked when he saw the bags littering the back of the van.

"Partially. But he found a sale on sheets so we got some to fit on the new bed and a few other things." He handed over a bag. "Here, eggs." He grabbed a few more and a case of soda. "He'll be back in a minute, he said he needed to clean himself up." He headed toward the new house, going to put things in the bigger refrigerator and stand alone freezer. "Come on," he called, "before everything goes bad."

Giles picked up a few more bags, following him. "Did you get steak?"