New Friends Needing the Old Friends. NC-17, x/o/g
Joyce jumped up. "Excuse me!" She glared at her daughter. "Didn't we have this talk *already*?"
"Joyce, do calm down," Giles said quietly. "This wasn't something she planned. In fact, she's not sure how it happened." That stopped Buffy's mother cold. "All she knows is that she's clean and that she's had a few nights she doesn't remember clearly." He patted Buffy's tense hand where it lay on her lap. "We've already set things in motion so she won't have to fight and no one will be in danger from it."
"Good." She nodded, sitting down. "Is that true, Buffy?" Her daughter nodded. "You really don't remember?" That got a head shake. "What are you planning?"
"I can't not have it, but I'm not sure otherwise." She looked up at Giles, giving him a faint smile. "I'm kinda almost sure that his guys were figuring that part out before I was."
"Well, we do know Blair and Sam were thinking about trying for a chid," Giles admitted, "and your duty would become extremely difficult as a single mother." He relaxed a little, considering. "Though, I'm sure there are many people who are looking to adopt children, especially if you'd feel comfortable letting a gay couple adopt as most agencies that handle such things don't."
Joyce cleared her throat. "Rupert, what about that thing...." She cleared her throat. "I noticed something while I was watching Blair for you..." Her voice trailed off at his slumping in on himself.
"It's something that's relatively common here in town. About a third of all children born have extra...parts. Mostly it seems to be females with extra ovaries but in some cases it will go both ways. Genetically, Blair is female, she's an identical twin to Elizabeth, but we're not sure why that happened to only one of them."
"And it's the Hellmouth's fault?" Buffy asked.
Giles nodded. "Unfortunately so. It seems to radiate somehow. You may be lucky and have it miss you, or however you got pregnant may cancel it's effects out. No one's sure why, just that it happens." He reached over to stroke down the back of her hair. "We do hope that your child is normal but that may be a factor, as well as who or what the father is."
"Point," Buffy said quietly. "What if it was the Initiative? I've seen one of their former members around, looking at what used to be the store actually. It could have been them and I could be carrying..." Her voice trailed off and a hand went protectively over her stomach. "I don't know what to do here, especially not with this."
"What you do is up to you, Buffy," Joyce said, giving her a faint smile. "I'll support you no matter what you decide, as long as you stay off the drugs." Her daughter nodded. "Were you planning on moving out of the dorms?"
"I'm not sure. The Student Health Center is really close by if I stay."
Giles shook his head. "I believe you should see a real doctor, not student doctors from UCLA. At least for a thorough check-up. After that, you could even choose to go through a midwife to have the child."
Buffy gave him a small smile. "You just wanted one of us to deliver at home," she teased. "I know Wills was planning on doing it on your bed so you guys would have to deliver them." She punched his arm. "I'm glad that you still care."
"Of course I care, you're still like my own child," Giles told her, giving her a hug. He stood up. "If worse comes to worse, Joyce, we have a fully functional trailer behind our house that we lived in for almost two months while the house was being fixed. We've agreed that she could rent it from us."
Buffy's mother smiled at him. "I'll keep that in mind in case I need to leave on assignment for the gallery in a few months." She stood up, walking Giles to the door. "Thank you for coming with her, I might not have let her get out the rest of the message." They shared a hug and he left. Joyce turned to look at her daughter. "You really don't remember?"
Buffy shook her head. "Not a thing, mom. Honestly, it's like I have all these blank spots and no reason for them. And I know it wasn't drugs because I wasn't using them." She sighed, looking toward the stairs. "How am I going to tell Anya?"
"Oh, I'm sure you'll find enough rope to tie her down," Joyce said with a mean smile. "It should last long enough."
Giles walked into his house, smiling at the pair waiting on him. "Yes, Miri, Xander?" He kissed his daughter. "What's wrong? I know it's well past your bedtime."
"It is but she just said something when Oz was putting her down that we think you should hear." He nudged her and kissed her ear. "Tell him too."
"Which one? Ours?" She shook her head. "No?"
"No, one earlier. Her's blue." She nodded and wiggled to get down, running up the stairs once she was free. "Nighties, Daddies!"
"Night," they called together.
Xander pulled Giles closer, kissing him gently. "We think that the baby's blue means something more along the lines of the baby's got blue skin or something."
"It's entirely possible." Giles looked around. "Did everyone else go home?"
"Nope, they're all out on the back porch. Blair's telling stories." He gave him another kiss, nuzzling against his throat. "Can I?"
"Of course you may, but I believe Oz wanted you more tonight." Giles pulled him into a hug. "Maybe we should go steal Oz for a bit."
Oz jogged down the hall. "Come on. I'm all for that." He winked at Giles. "Jim heard you guys." He pulled Xander away, dragging him up the stairs. "I've been waiting all day for this."
Xander chuckled as he was pulled through their bedroom door, his breath catching at the sight of what had been done to their room. Around the room someone had strung Christmas lights, pale blue ones, wrapping them around the bed's posts also. There were also plants spread around, and a lot of candles that Oz was lighting. Chocolate and orange scents floated across his senses, making him smile. "Wow. When did you do this?"
"Today while you were gone." Oz walked over, shutting and locking the door behind Giles. "Are you willing?" he asked, licking across Xander's lips for him. He got a small nod. "Would you strip for us? Let us watch?"
Xander stepped away from them, slowly taking off his shirt, shifting slightly in the absence of music. When the cd player from the bathroom was turned on, he moved to the music, gently swaying as his pants were released and let fall, stepping out of his shoes and socks before kicking his pants off. He walked over to stand in front of Oz, smiling at him. "Did you want more?"
"Take them off," Giles commanded gently from behind him. His hands went around the bare waist. "Please, Xander."
Xander slid his briefs down, not stepping out of them yet. He closed his eyes as Oz went down to finish taking them off him, sighing at the gentle kiss to his stomach. He pulled his lover back up, kissing him even as he felt a warm, naked body slide against his back, allowing himself to be sandwiched between his men. "What's planned?" he whispered as he shifted around to kiss Giles and let Oz hold him for a minute.
"Whatever we want," Oz told him, smoothing Xander's back with some lotion he picked up, rubbing his muscles gently. "We're just going to do what feels right." He leaned over to kiss the back of Xander's neck, stopping to take a small lick over a scar. "No plans and no hurry."
Giles smiled, pulling back. "Indeed, we have no plans tonight except to pamper each other with attention." He took some of the lotion from Oz's hand, using it to cover Xander's chest, rubbing with one hand. "I would like to continue this and I believe the bed is prepared." Oz nodded. "May we lie you down?" Xander nodded. "Thank you, love." They walked him over to the bed, laying him down on the section that had towels draped over the sheets. "There we are," Giles said as he straddled his lover's waist, working his chest with the scented lotion. "Is this edible? It smells like it should be."
Oz held up the tube. "Is. Is meant for times like this." He climbed onto the bed beside Xander, stealing kisses as he squirted more lotion onto the younger man's chest. "You play up here, I want to start working on preparing him."
"Not yet," Xander said, catching his wrist. "I like this. All the touching and stuff."
Oz flopped down beside him. "Do you only want to go this far tonight? We'd be okay with that if you did."
Xander shook his head. "But I want us to just *enjoy* this, just relax and let it happen again." He grinned. "I miss the spontaneity we used to have, when I could just fall into you and it'd happen."
"So we'll let it happen," Oz agreed. He took a long, slow kiss, slowly getting Xander used to him again. "I missed it too," he whispered before diving in for another one. "Forgot how addictive you were." He grabbed a third one, passionate and fiery this time. Xander was wiggling under him so he let him up for breath. "Problems?"
"Ticklish," he said as he tried to wiggle away from Giles' fingers and his wicked grin. He grunted as he was flipped over, snuggling his head onto Oz's legs when he moved to sit under him. "Hi," he whispered, looking up.
"Hi." Oz ran his fingers through the dark hair, watching his fingers play. "Like this view, you've got an incredible body going."
"It's all the lifting I did during the construction stuff." Xander sucked in his breath to make his stomach muscles stick out better. "See?" he said as he let it out.
"Yup, you've very handsome." Oz leaned down to get another kiss, pushing Xander's head up so they could connect. "Hmm, you need a pillow so I can do this."
"But I like laying on your...legs." His voice went up with the last word as Giles leaned down to lick across the head of his cock. "Nice," he murmured, closing his eyes. "More?"
"In a moment," Giles said softly, working the lotion into the well-built legs. "I agree though, you've been building yourself nicely."
They all groaned as one of the infants started to scream downstairs. "No," Xander moaned, covering his eyes with his arm. "I'm not into being the daddy now."
"Shh, Blair and Sam have them," Oz told him, stroking over the tense arm. "Just relax or you'll undo all the good work Giles has done."
"Guys?" Jim called from the hall. "I hate to do this but you've got a problem downstairs."
Giles sat up, pulling on his robe. "I'll go and see what it is. Maybe I'll be able to fix it by myself." He looked at Oz. "I expect for you save me some of his kisses."
"Definitely," Oz said, giving Xander a small smile.
"Yup, like Giles kisses just as much as I like Oz ones."
Giles walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. "What sort of problem?"
"A young guy who just collapsed on the porch that Sam said wasn't actually alive."
"Oh, it must be Wesley." He walked down the stairs, stopping when he saw the young man on the couch. "That's Xander?"
"It looks a lot like him," Sam said, standing up from where she had been bending down over him. "I can't tell the difference."
Oz groaned, shaking his head as he pulled back from his kiss with Xander to look down at him. "Your doppleganger from vamp world just came back."
Xander grunted and slithered out from under Oz, grabbing his robe. "Later?"
"Of course." Oz sat up and grabbed the robe Xander tossed him, following him out of their bedroom and down into the living room. "Ah, the vamp problem's back."
Xander looked down at the man who was so much like him, up to one incident, and shrugged. He put his wrist down in front of the other Xander's mouth. "Come on, I'm still nummy." His wrist was grabbed and bitten. "Good," he sighed, pulling back after a few seconds. "Is the portal open?"
"You're not me," the other Xander said, looking up, "you're older."
"Oh, and it's a temporal one," Oz sighed in frustration. "Where is it?"
"The Bronze. Please, I can't go back." He gave Xander a scared look. "Please?"
Xander looked up at Giles. "If he goes back, he'll die," he reminded. "We saw it happen."
"That's a good point," Giles told his lover as he wrapped a hand around him. "I suppose we could call Wesley and put that Xander into his care."
"A former Watcher that's been turned recently. He's having some problems with his soul, it likes the violence." Xander looked at Oz, who shrugged. "Will the portal close?"
"It should," Giles suggested. "I'll go into town and bring Willow and Buffy with me to go check it out." He let his Xander go, heading back up to his room.
Oz took his spot, looking down at the vamp Xander. "No leather?"
"Decided I needed to sneak out so I changed," Vamp Xander explained. "I came looking for myself, I knew I'd understand."
"He does," Oz assured him, letting Xander go. "You going with him?"
"No! If they come for me, they'll take him instead."
"I doubt that," Xander said with a small frown. "But I am going." He gave his twin a small grin. "Don't worry, I'm not going to leave my kids." He turned and ran up the stairs. "I'm coming!"
Giles got out of his car, leaning against the roof. "Xander, who's that? He looks vaguely familiar."
"Um, he's the Priest that blessed Tigger. You probably met him in the hospital." He hopped out, letting Willow out of the back. He strolled over with the bag of herbs he was holding. "Um, Father? I know your faith is great, but this may be a little out of your realm." He looked over his shoulder as Buffy and Giles walked carefully over to where he was, over the debris in the alley, Willow not far behind. He turned back to see a tolerant look. "What're you doing here?"
"I was called to come fix this." He pointed at the man leaning against the wall. "Nick."
"Hi." Xander waved then looked over his shoulder. "You know Rupert."
"Enough of this," Buffy growled. "This is taking me away from a killer backrub. Buffy Summers, Rupert Giles, and Willow Rosenburg."
Philip smiled at her. "I know of you and your Watcher, my dear. I'm only here to help."
Giles smiled, holding out his hand. "Father Philip Callaghan, it's nice to finally meet you. Are you here to help close it?"
"I am." He waved at the portal. "It's being held open."
"The other me's on our couch," Xander said, handing Willow the herbs. "Where do I stand?"
"Um, left corner." Willow pointed at a spot. "Around the purple plastic bag." She looked at Buffy. "Guarding or participating?"
"Guarding. Though if my almost-former girlfriend shows up, I'm going to be fighting with her formerly demonic ass."
"Buffy," Giles sighed. "Your language is most inappropriate in this circumstance."
"I've hear' worse," Philip said with a small smile. "Go wait with Nick."
She walked over, giving the other man a hard look. "You still living?"
"Usually." He patted the wall next to him. "We can watch from here and not be sucked in when they close it." He looked her over. "You're the Slayer?"
"Yup, but I'm on maternity leave." He frowned. "I don't remember it, don't give me that look."
"Sorry," he muttered, patting her arm. "I didn't mean to seem so disapproving. It's your life."
"Yeah, but it not being blacked out would be nice." She leaned against the wall, looking toward their car. "You another Priest?"
"Nope, I used to do this stuff for a living. Until a very big bomb went off." He closed his eyes briefly then forced himself to pay attention. "How's things been here?"
"Good, quiet for a change. Especially since the Initiative seems to have left again."
"Please be quiet," Willow called. "I already have a headache."
"Sorry," Nick and Buffy called together, then laughed.
Philip rolled his eyes, matched by Giles.
Xander leaned closer to Willow. "Gee, our other halves in another place?"
"Probably." She handed him the slip of paper that she had written his part of the spell on. "Say this when it's your turn." She handed another to Philip. "You too. And thank you for blessing my child and Xander so they weren't killed."
"Any time. Can' let a little one like her be hur'." Philip looked at the words. "Why're we usin' this one?"
"Because not all of us are magic users," Xander told him absently. "For some of us, this is just our lives." He looked up and nodded. "Okay, got it."
Giles nodded, pulling a candle out of his jacket pocket and lighting it, putting it down in front of the small portal. "Then let us begin."
Buffy and Nick watched the group work, Buffy keeping an eye out for her girlfriend. When Anya finally showed up, she pushed herself off the wall, wandering over to her. "Did you really have to interrupt my backrub this way?" she asked, glaring at the former vengeance demon.
"I just wanted to go home." Anya pouted at her. "It won't work, not everyone's back there."
"Oh, but they are," a Willow-ish voice said from behind them.
Buffy spun, glaring at the leather-clad woman behind them. "Why me?" she asked, looking up. "Listen, all we want to do is close the portal. If you're wanting to stay too, just say so and we won't force you back either." She didn't watch Anya slip off into the shadows.
"I'm not going back. I refuse to die."
Nick looked from the dark forest green leather clad body to the one casting and back. "Alternate realities?"
"Very," Buffy told him, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder. "Willow, I don't want to stake you so if you're willing to live here in peace, you can make a deal with the new Slayer in a few days."
"Going soft?" Vamp Willow sneered.
"Not, just tired of fighting for a while." She put her hands on her spreading hips. "I'm not in the mood to fight, all I want to do is go home and argue with my girlfriend."
The vampiress considered her options. "I opened this," Vamp Willow said, looking down at her feet, "I can close it." She looked towards Giles and the group working against her spell. "Let me go help them." She strolled over there, standing beside the her from this world, and began to chant with them.
When it was all over and everything was almost back to normal, Nick looked at the two Willows then at Philip. "What're we doing?"
"We need ta find shelter for the night," Philip reminded him.
"We have a nine-room farmhouse," Giles offered. "I'm sure we'll have a room left tonight. If worse comes to worse, we do have a number of couches."
Xander frowned, looking up. "If we could rotate the two vamps out to the barn for the night, they could hunt animals as long as they didn't eat the cats."
"Miriam would be most pissed if they ate her cats," Giles agreed with a smile. "The barn is sunlight proof, so that is workable. We could call Wesley tonight and have him come up to get them and take them somewhere safer tomorrow."
Vamp Willow looked at her other half. "Do we know this Wesley?"
"He's a former Watcher, he's turned though. He's fighting with his soul. He doesn't like the violence and it does."
"Oh." She nodded. "That would be a nice change then. He would be able to find us somewhere safe."
Nick coughed, bringing attention to him. "Sorry, dust."
Buffy nodded. "True." She held out a hand. "Friends?"
"Yup, friends," he said, shaking it. "We'll talk later?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm planning on come out to bother Xander tomorrow anyway. Got to wait on the new girl and she's being sent out there."
Xander hit himself on the forehead. "We need to call Oz and warn him."
"We'll do it from the car," Giles soothed, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "Come, Xander, let's get you home. We'll drop Buffy and Willow on the way. If Father Philip and Mr. Boyle would like to follow us, they may." He pointed toward his car. "Go get in the back, girls."
Everyone started for their cars, willing to leave the discussions for the morning.
Oz looked up from watching the bottle warmer as the back door opened. "Vamp Xander is outside already, and warned about the cats. Miri actually came down to frown at him then started to cry for her kittens. He got upset and guilty enough to pick her up and hold on tightly." He nodded at the two new men. "We do have one room free, but it's only got a double bed in it. Jim and John decided to go home. Sam and Blair are in the main guest room."
"We're still getting the last of everything set," Xander explained as he headed for the fridge. "Buffy's okay, got some back pains. It was Willow and Xander trying to escape the slaughter before the Master died." He pulled out a bottle of beer, popping it open with his hands. "I'm going to bring this to Giles. You coming up soon?"
"As soon as I show them where to sleep." Oz handed off the bottle. "Drop this off with Blair."
"Cool. Soon." They shared a kiss then Xander disappeared up the stairs.
Oz looked at the two men. "Vamp Willow?"
"Has already been given the rules," the younger-looking man said, rubbing through his short, light brown hair. "I'm Nick and he's Philip."
"Okay." Oz nodded toward the hall. "We can go up unless you want something to eat. We had barbeque tonight and there's still plenty."
Nick shook his head. "No thanks."
"If ya wouldn' mind, could we take a plate up? Nick does need to eat," Philip asked gently.
"Sure." Oz walked over to the fridge, pulling out a few tupperware containers. "Plates are beside the sink, grab one and you can fix it yourself." He walked into the pantry, leaving them alone. When he came back, he found Nick resting against Philip's back. He silently handed over a loaf of bread. "We're real okay with everything here, just don't upset the kids, please. Miri's a little strange and she's been upset all night for some reason."
"I won'," Philip said. "How's Tigger?"
"She's fine," Oz said with a proud smile. "Been doing great actually. You're the one Xander said blessed her?"
"A travelin' one." Philip turned to look at him. "Thanks for takin' us in."
"Least we could do." Oz nodded toward the hall. "Come on, let's get you settled." He walked up the stairs, listening to make sure the men followed him. "This is about the only spare room we have a bed for," he noted, opening the door. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Philip told him with a grateful smile. "It beats goin' back ta the rectory tonigh'."
Oz nodded. "I know, midnight trips to LA are tough." He nodded down the hall. "We're in the second room on this side if you need anything." He walked away, heading down to his room. He found Xander being cradled on Giles' chest as he locked the door behind himself. "Hey," he said, stripping and climbing into bed beside them, laying his head and arms on top of Xander's still body. "We okay?"
"Yeah, fine," Xander said with a small yawn. "Tired. Wanted cuddled."
"Yeah, me too," Oz told him, wrapping them both in his arms, one arm behind Giles and the other around Xander's waist. "Sleeping like this?"
"Could," Giles murmured, almost asleep himself. "Night."
"Night." Oz closed his eyes, falling asleep comforted by the lack of crying infants and the unexpected feeling of his mates warmth.
Nick waited until they were alone to look at Philip. "We could have gone home."
"I wanted ta talk ta them," Philip reminded him quietly. "Come eat, Nick, ya need it more'n I do."
The tired looking man walked over to the bed and lay down on his side. "I'm not hungry."
"Eat or be forced."
"Fine." Nick picked up one of the ribs and nibbled on it. "This is good. Gotta ask for the recipe."
"I'm sure they'd give it to ya," Philip said with a smile. He picked up one of the ribs and started on it himself. "Hmm, you're right."
Someone knocked on the door so Nick got up, heading over to open it. He smiled at the little girl standing on the other side. "Yes?"
"Nap?" she asked, sucking her thumb.
Philip looked up and waved her inside. "Ya must be Miri."
She nodded, giving him a big grin. "Me story?"
"Would you like one?" Nick asked, squatting so he was down on her level. "We don't have a book in here but I could tell you one."
A young man walked down the hall, his curly hair pulled back in a ponytail. "Miri," he sighed, "why are you bothering them?"
"They special," she said, giving him a serious look and a nod. "Need huggies." She grabbed Nick around the neck and hung on as he stood up. "See, huggies good."
The other man held out a hand. "Blair Sandburg, the boy's counselor." He smiled at Miri. "She's just very knowing."
Philip walked over, looking him over. "You're the man with the Sentinel?"
A woman walked down the hall. "Tell them. I had a flash, they're here to help." She held out a hand. "Sam."
"Nick," he said, shaking it. "That's Philip."
"Father Philip? The one that's been having the fights with the church?" Sam asked, giving him a small, private smile. "Glad to meet you. Miri, I think he's had enough hugs, you can give him more in the morning."
"Him too," she said, pointing at Philip. Nick transferred her over so she gave him a short, hard hug. "'Tay." She looked around. "No whee?"
"Nope, the ghost is down in the library," Blair said as he picked her up. "Good night, gentlemen, we'll be here in the morning if you'd like to have breakfast with us. The family usually gets up earlier because of work and the kids." He headed back down the hall.
Sam looked at Nick, giving him a confused look. "What was the explosion for?"
"Sam, later. Let them get some sleep," Blair reminded. "If they want our professional help, we can do that over breakfast."
Sam smiled. "I'm sorry, I just saw something and I was wondering."
"It was where the rest of my family was," Nick told her quietly, leaning against the edge of the door. "The man who was my lover and father figure was in it." Philip rubbed down his back. "I can't go back."
"Are you sure he's dead?" Sam looked at Philip. "This may or may not seem strange but I am seeing him around you, even though my gift isn't like that usually."
Philip smiled. "That would be Derek's gift. He may well be here, Nick was the only one who ever made him stop working." He bowed to her. "We'd love ta talk ta ya in the morning."
She nodded. "In the morning. We're across from the boy's room if you need us." She walked back down the hall, leaving them alone.
Nick closed the door. "We're back where we started?"
"A bigger but more family oriented group," Philip corrected. "They love each other more'n we used ta." He rubbed down Nick's arm. "Go eat, Nick, we'll figure it out in the morning." He walked back over to the bed, setting the plate on the desk under the window. "I'm gonna sleep, come ta bed when you're ready." He stripped down to his boxers and slid under the sheets.
Nick sat down at the desk, looking at the plate and the view. He picked up a rib, eating it as he watched two shadowy figures explore the night.
Blair grunted at Nick and Philip as his wife refilled his coffee cup, giving them a small nod. "You've got to excuse Blair," she said with a fond smile and a pat to his head, "he's not been the same since finishing his final degree. He found caffeine as a religion and it's very strong first thing in the morning."
"Kids kept ya up?" Philip asked with a smile.
"Yup," Blair muttered. "One then the other, then back and forth, and diapers and bottles." He finished that cup and stood up, grabbing Sam to dip and kiss her. "Morning."
"Thanks. Which one of the guys is home?"
"Xander's down talking to himself and helping Miri check on her kittens. Oz is in the library trying to get the ghost to give him back his book. The twins are in there with him."
"Ghost?" Philip asked, looking back down the hall. "Dangerous?"
"Not," Xander said as he walked in the back door. "She's nice, the mother that used to live here. We introduced Jim to her last night and he told her he was married to her granddaughter, which made her happy. She likes to torment Miri with vegetables though." He smiled at Blair. "Have enough coffee?"
"Yup." He looked around the kitchen. "I gotta admit, whoever you had design the place did a great job. The colors are soothing and restful and everything is comfortable even as it has the hint of being familiar somehow." Xander beamed. "You did?"
"Yup. I picked out the stuff I liked and ran it past the other two and I did the furniture, though Oz had a say in the style."
Blair patted him on the shoulder. "You're damn good. When we redo the office next year, we're calling you."
Sam shot Xander a small smile. "I like it too. It's not exactly what you'd expect in a house this old but it's almost an updated style. I like it." She looked at her husband. "We could use his help if you wanted, but no more wood, Blair."
"Fine. But I still need some more bookshelves."
"Ah," Xander said, hopping up to sit on a counter, "there are plenty of ways to get bookshelves without adding more wood. Including painted wood and covered wood. Or even clever little resting nooks like some people do for knick-knacks or wicker. Oz has a program to help you design things like floor plans on his laptop. We can use that."
"Sure," Sam said, rubbing his knee as she walked past him toward the island and the refrigerator. "Later. We don't have to leave until tonight."
"Coolness. And the new girl'll be here in a while, so will Buffy I bet."
"She called a while ago to make sure you guys were up," Blair told him. "She said she'd be out right before lunch to brief her." He looked at one of his former patients. "You look much happier."
"I am. My loves care about me and everything's starting to go right again. We just heard that the hospital's settlement was applied directly to Tigger's medical bill, paying it in full for us so we didn't have to mess with the paperwork. The check is being delivered today for the rest of it."
"The LAPD?" Nick asked.
"Is going to bend over backwards to not have you take them to court," Blair snorted. "They were ready to lick asses the other day."
"Blair," Sam said with a rather large frown. "Don't say things like that."
"It's okay," Xander said, giving her a naughty grin, "I know people who like to do that." He hopped down off the counter. "I've got to run into town for a while, does anyone need anything?"
"Nope," Sam and Blair said together, giving each other a smile and a kiss.
"Not really, but thanks," Nick said quietly, pushing around his cereal.
Philip shook his head, reaching over to take the spoon from Nick's hand and put it down. "No' really, thank ya though."
"Welcome." Xander walked out of the kitchen, heading for where he supposed Oz was.
Blair looked at the pair and pulled out his wallet, simply putting a card down in front of them. "We worked with the family here for almost a year. If you need us, we know about strange things and we're more than ready to accept it all."
Nick looked up. "I've been having visitations in my dreams. Derek's still alive."
"Nick, he was blown up," Philip said gently, touching the back of his head. "He can' be more than a ghost."
"He's still around," Sam told them, sitting across from Philip. "I feel him. He's not *here* though." She tipped her head off to the side. "What sort of dreams?"
"He's trapped in the middle of a portal, being held there by the energy from the blast. His father sucked him in before it was closed by the blast," Nick said, not looking at her but instead staring down into his bowl of cheerios. "I need to find someone who can reopen the portal but not let it explode when the energy leaks."
Blair coughed. "Willow. I think you met her last night? She and Giles are both ..." He looked at his wife. "How would you put it?"
"They do magic," she said simply. "Willow's actually apparently very strong. She called on the Goddess to help her get pregnant with the twins for them and it worked very well. It even affected Xander for a while." Nick's mouth hung open and Philip smiled. "I'd ask Rupert, he may be able to help somehow, or he would know who to ask."
Nick nodded. "Thanks. When will he be back?"
"I think he comes home around four," she said, standing up. "Can I fix anyone anything? The boys have eggs and not much else but I could cook."
"No thanks," Philip said. "We're fine, Nick jus' needs ta eat somethin'."
Blair shook his head. "Nick, if you want to talk, I'm going to be in Xander's office. It's the third door from the front door on the left." He headed for the coffeepot, pouring himself another cup and heading for the specified room. "Later."
"Bye," Sam called, waiting until he was gone to pick up the phone and dial home. "Sweetie, did we call you yesterday?" She smiled. "Good, I'm glad I remembered. Things were a little complicated. No, Chloe, we'll be home tonight. Yeah, he's down the hall right now. Let me bring him the phone."
"I got it," Blair called.
Sam chuckled. "Okay." She waited until she heard him pick up to hang up. "My daughter."
"Ah." Philip pushed his chair back so he could cross his legs, one ankle going over his other knee. "How old?"
"Sixteen. She's really sweet, until things start turning strange." Sam looked down. "She's not had the easiest life. Blair's my second husband and she loves him, but she can never forget the man who killed her father."
"Jack?" Nick asked, looking up. She nodded, giving him a concerned look. "I just heard the name whispered, with a 'be careful'." He shrugged at Philip's astonished look. "I told you he was alive."
"So I can tell," Philip said. "Ya gonna report this?"
"Do I look insane?" The other two people shook their heads. "Not until I have him back."
"Good." Philip stood up. "I wan' ta talk ta the ghost." His gentle lilt cracked a little. "Ghosts can be a bad thing."
"Very," Nick agreed. "She's probably just wanting her family and can't find them all." He picked back up his spoon, eating some of the cereal. "Yell if you need me." He looked up at Sam after they were alone, staring back. "I'm fine, Doctor Waters, really. I just miss him a lot."
"He's still here," she said, standing up. "I'm going to check on the twins. Yell if you want to talk to me." She headed down the hall, leaving him alone.
Nick looked at the empty chair beside him. "Can she see you?" When he got an answer, he shrugged. "Bummer. We'll fix it somehow." He ate another bite.
Giles walked into his back door, and stopped, dropping his briefcase. He rubbed his eyes to make sure he was seeing things correctly then slowly inched toward where Xander was suspended in mid-air by a ghost that wasn't their's. "Um, may I have him back? He's most important to my continued existence." Xander was carefully put down on the floor. "Thank you. How may we help you?"
"Derek!" Nick said as he walked in, frowning at the ghost. "Don't piss off the person that could free you." He put his hands on his hips, glaring at the image of his former lover. He looked at the young man on the floor. "He okay?"
"Yes, or ...or at least so it seems." Giles waved down the hall. "Come, let's go talk in the library, Nick. Oz!" he called, knowing his other lover was outside because he had stolen a kiss on the way up from the driveway. Oz strolled in with the babies. "Do watch over Xander for me, please." He grabbed Nick's arm, walking him down to the library, pushing him inside first. "Now then, what was that and how much help do you need to fix it?"
"Tol' ya it wasn' Derek," Philip muttered, not looking up from his book. "Our former boss, Derek Rayne, ended up blowing up his house ta keep a hell portal from openin'. Nick swears he's still alive."
"He is! He just saw him, Derek was holding Xander up." Nick glared at his care-taker. "Philip, I *know* he's alive."
Philip put down the book he had been reading, staring at his friend and bond-brother. "Nick, would Derek do somethin' like that?" he asked quietly. Nick sighed and shook his head. "Then why would he hur' him?"
"He wasn't," Nick protested. "Derek wouldn't hurt anyone."
"It may not have been him," Giles said gently, pushing Nick down into a comfortable chair with a footstool in front of it. "It may be that he's still alive somehow but that apparition may not be him." He looked at the shelves and picked out a book, handing it to the young man after opening it. "It's happened before and this being the Hellmouth's area it could be strengthening the spirit's will." He glanced over at Philip. "If we need to, I can reopen the Hellmouth so one of you could go in and find him. We'd have to fight off a few things that are trying to come out but it could be done."
"Nah, it needs ta be done at the house," Philip said, standing up to read over Nick's shoulder. "Tha's interestin'. Which book is this?" He lifted the cover to look at it. "Huh. Wanted ta read that for a while now. May I borrow this?"
"Yes, of course, Father. I don't usually have need of that book and I'm sure if I suddenly do I can come borrow it back." He gave them a lighthearted smile. "I'm going to check on Xander, feel free to browse our library for a solution. If you need it, both Willow and I are gifted in the area of magic." He walked out of the library, heading toward the kitchen. "Is Xander all right, Oz?" he asked, looking around.
"Yup. He's in the bathroom upstairs." Oz stole a second kiss. "Do you think it's possible?"
"With the man they mentioned, most anything is possible. Derek Rayne is rather well known in the field of the paranormal. He's someone I would have went to when I had a question. Since those two worked with him, I'm sure they're both on the right side and that we can trust them around the house and all the artifacts." He looked at the urn on top of one of the cabinets. "I still wonder what might have happened if we hadn't sealed that spirit in there."
Oz looked up and shuddered. "Giles, let's not talk about bad things. It was bad enough Xander had just run to hide with Miri when it showed up, I don't want to remember that thing coming for my throat in the middle of the night because it thought I was him."
"I'll not mention it again," Giles told him with a smile. "They found out who was stealing today. They caught him at it." He hugged Xander as he walked back in. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, but my necklace came off." He rubbed his throat. "That wasn't the one they wanted, right?"
"No, the man they want back is most special, Xander. He's one of the top people in the same field as we are." He messed up Xander's hair. "Go help them find what they need, and let Father Philip look through my copy of the Absicon. I'm sure he might find it interesting." Xander nodded, walking back out. "I'll help them if they ask."
"Sure, just yell and Xand and I have your back," Oz told him, heading back out onto the porch. "Got the kids looking at the paddock someone's had out there before."
"Oz, remind Miri we can't have horses yet, we're not ready for them," he called after him, shutting the back door. "Please, no animals yet." He scratched the back of his neck. "We should probably call Wesley, our changing tomorrow night won't be eased by those two being here," he muttered, picking up the phone and dialing Angel's office number. "Cordelia? Yes, it is. No, I need to get in touch with Wesley rather badly. No. Do you remember when you made that wish?" His smile increased. "Yes, well, the Willow and Xander from there have escaped and are seeking sanctuary so they didn't die in the final battle with the Master. Yes, I know, that means that they jumped time, but it has happened. No, they're in our barn." He checked the calendar to make sure. "No, Cordelia, tomorrow night is the first night of mine and Oz's change. Having them in the barn with us wouldn't help matters any I believe." He looked up as someone walked in, giving Philip a curious look. "Really? Yes, that might be nice. I still have to thank him for helping me save Xander from that place. Good day." He hung up, looking at the Priest. "Is there a problem?"
"No, just wonderin' how ya got so many books out before the store burned."
"We had a premonition. Xander actually became a conduit for the event from a future when we didn't save anything. In it, Willow and the twins which she was carrying, died. We apparently lost almost everything. This time, we had an hour to clear the most important things out."
Buffy walked in the back door. "Hi. Do you have any ranch dressing?" The refrigerator was pointed to so she gave Giles a bright smile. "Thanks. Needed it." She walked over, grabbing the bottle from the shelf, and headed for the library. "Yell when she gets here, I'm reading a Xander book." She poured the dressing over something she pulled from her pocket, eating it with a big smile as she walked.
Giles shuddered. "I remember when Willow did that." He looked at Philip. "As for why it had to happen, I'm not sure. We didn't get all of my books out, most of them were in the backroom we had set up so people could come in and research. Some others were in boxes in the basement. I really do wish that we could go through the wreckage, but we've not brought ourselves to be able to go down there yet."
"We can go today," Xander called down the hall. "The Fire Department's called again to have us look at something strange the investigator found." He wandered into the kitchen, stopping to give his lover a kiss. "Thank you for last night. I felt really loved."
"I'm just sorry we were interrupted."
Xander gave him a confused look. "Uh-huh. I slept all night in your arms again, it was nice. I don't think I moved all night."
Giles smiled at him. "It was just that act that made you feel loved?"
"The other was going to be great, but I need cuddles, Rupe." Xander grabbed a quick kiss and got a soda from the fridge. "I'm working with Sam and Blair on their office design if you need me." He walked back out, giving Philip a smile too. "Don't forget to check the cage."
"I won't," Giles called after him. "I had no idea it was the simple things he missed."
"I'm sure he missed the other things," Philip said diplomatically. "He just needed the reassurance." He smiled, a naughty, wicked looking one. "Though, with the three of ya bein' how ya are, I'm sure it must be a riot sometimes."
"Oh, definitely. Though we've been fighting over the little things again." Giles shrugged. "I'm going to go pick through the wreckage, do you need something?"
"The check's in the bank," Xander called. "We're going shopping later."
"Thank you. Did you call the Fire Department and tell them I'd come check things over?"
"Thank you." Giles stretched and grabbed a bottle of water from the cabinet behind him. "I'm going into town, if you need some help finding something, all of the younger people have a lot of experience with those books." He looked down at himself and shook his head. "I'm going to go change clothes. Tweed and soot don't work well together." He headed for the hall and the stairs. "If you need anything, yell."
Philip smiled to himself. "This is a good substitute," he whispered, going back to his studies. "Maybe we'll do this in LA."
Giles looked through the pile of things that the investigator had already pulled out. "I hadn't known that we still kept things in those," he muttered, touching a blackened metal box. He looked up as a fireman walked towards him, standing up and holding out a hand. "I'm sorry it's taken so long, we've had a few other priorities recently."
"Yeah, we heard your kid had chicken pox and the other two were born early." He shook Giles' hand. "So, what are those?"
"I used to store important, old books in them but I had thought I emptied them years ago." He shrugged. "I'm not complaining, it's nice to have them back." He looked around the blackened shell of the building. "I'm just glad we were able to get the important things out."
"We were kinda wondering about that. How'd ya know?"
"Well, the woman had the most horrific look on her face when she ran out and we got worried so I had the boys pack the cars with our things." He looked at the young man. "It was prompted by fear, but I really didn't want to chance what happened without being prepared."
"A little paranoia can be helpful," he agreed, nodding. "Need help?"
"No, thank you. Though if there appears to be a lot of stuff, I might need some help loading the car." He walked toward a standing wall and doorway. "I would have thought that this room might have burned totally." He walked through and gasped.
"Yeah, that was the other thing we wondered about," he said with a large smile. "What's with the room?"
"I have no idea," Giles said, looking at the glassed in bookcases with all the books still in place. Most of the bookcases were still in good shape. "Oh, dear, I have no way to get this home today." He turned around. "I'm going to get a trailer, can you wait?"
"Yup. I've got the whole afternoon to help you."
They both turned as someone honked a horn behind them. The family's lawyer got out of Xander's explorer and walked over to them. "I just picked it up from the garage for you," he said, giving them a big smile. He handed over the keys. "You just saved me a trip out there, though I gotta admit, after riding in that thing, I want one myself."
"Xander was most fond of that car," Giles admitted, also with a smile. "I'm sure he'll be glad to get back in it today." He shook the other man's hand. "Thank you. I'll call one of the boys down to come get it." He looked around. "We're picking up the things that miraculously didn't get burned."
"Yeah, we'd all heard that some things survived." He looked at the standing wall. "That room for instance."
"I had no idea," Giles said with a larger smile, "though since I inherited most of those I am most pleased about the development." He pulled out the family cellphone, dialing the house. "Xander? Could I get a few of you down here to help? No, your Explorer is here and so's the backroom." He hung up. "They'll be down in a while. I'm going to get us a trailer." He jogged out to the Explorer, getting in and driving away.
The fireman looked at the lawyer and shook his head. "Those guys got someone major watchin' over them." He looked toward the stairs. "Maybe I should have told him that most of the upstairs was saved too."
"It must have been good for them to have you guys two blocks away."
"Yeah, but the fire wasn't spreading very much when we got here. It was almost totally contained." The fireman shrugged. "I'm looking at it as someone blessed them greatly. Those boys deserve it after all they've gone through." He looked toward the back room. "As for those books, I bet whomever's real happy to let them keep them for some reason."
The lawyer smiled. "It is a strange collection but apparently it works for them. They're doing great, the children are all healthy. They were even warned about this."
"Even *we* were warned about this. A bunch of the guys started to get dressed a good twenty minutes before we were called out, said they felt they needed to be." He shrugged. "Whatever." He smiled as Giles pulled back up outside with a large trailer. "I think we should help him move out to their farm. It's got to be better for us to have that stuff out there instead of here in town."
"True," the lawyer said. "Having them out there is safer for us all. Near enough to get help of their kind if we need it again and far enough away so none of this stuff has to touch us."
"Good point," the fireman muttered. "That thing at graduation the year his lovers graduated was pretty big. I wouldn't wanted to have faced it. Damn glad they did it instead." He stopped, giving Giles a smile as he walked back inside the shell of the building. "Think that'll be big enough for the furniture upstairs that survived too?"
"Furniture?" Giles stopped his careful walking. "Really?"
"Yup, the fire was really confined to this part of the building. Part of your apartment was burned too but the two at the top are almost untouched. You guys are *real* lucky that we're only two blocks away from here."
"Indeed," Giles said with a dreamy smile. "I know that I feel so right now." He looked over his shoulder as a car pulled up outside the store and people started to get out. "Jim? I thought you were back in LA."
"I was," Jim said, walking inside. "Blair called me this morning for an update and found out that we've been given the day off as a team so he suggested I come out with the wife whose family had the house and show her around."
"Please, anytime you know that." He nodded at Jim's wife. "Thank you for agreeing to let us have it. It's a most special environment to us now."
She smiled and waved it off. "You're happy and the house is being used by a family. That's what matters to me." She looked around. "You guys are so lucky."
"More than you know," Oz said, walking up and wrapping an arm around Giles' waist. "Blair's helping Xander get back into the Explorer and start it." He looked around. "What do we need to move?"
"All the bookcases are in tact it seems, as are the books from the backroom." Giles smiled as Xander and Blair walked in. "The upstairs apartments also are mostly together still it seems." Xander cheered and headed for the stairs. "Be careful, Xander, the floor may be weak from the fire."
"Let him go," Blair said gently. "Where are we starting?"
"The books?" Oz suggested. "They'll need packed so we can lift the bookcases."
Giles looked around. "Who's at home?"
"Buffy," everyone said at once.
"And Philip," Nick said quietly. "He's got his nose buried in a book."
Oz tugged on Blair's and Nick's arm. "We'll go start on the books, Jim, go help Xander and take most everyone else with you. Giles, you're carrying things out to the cars and the trailer with whoever wants to help." Everyone went where they were supposed to go, splitting up.
Nick stopped just inside the door of the back room, looking at the titles of the books. "Some of these look really familiar." He looked at Giles and Blair. "You guys really deal with this stuff?"
"I do," Giles said. "I'm a former Watcher. I've needed most of these books at one time or another just to solve the town's problems." He checked to make sure they were alone. "Let Xander tell you about some of our escapades some day, Nick, it's most fascinating the range that we've dealt with in the early years." He patted one bookcase. "I always liked these."
Oz looked around. "Boxes might help."
"I have the bank cards on me, I could go get us those nice plastic ones," Giles suggested. "They'd be easier to pack the books in."
"Xand had a bunch upstairs that he never used when we moved out. Might want to start with those first."
"Good point. I'll go ask him. If not, I'm sure we can find a good number at Walmart."
"Yup, and they're on sale this week. Five dollars for the small and eight for the large." Oz glanced up. "The apartments really survived?"
"All but some of mine, or so I'm told." Giles walked out of the room, meeting Xander by the door. "Do you have any more of those plastic containers upstairs? Oz suggested we pack the books in those."
"They're all damp," Xander told him with a shrug. "Oh, and all but your kitchen and the immediate area survived in your apartment."
Giles smiled, patting down his pockets for the keys. "I believe I'll go out to Walmart with the Explorer to get some of those tubs, will you need anything?"
"Nope, not yet. Most of my stuff was the big stuff, I got all of Miri's clothes and most of mine out. I didn't have that many little things either. Oz might need a few, he had some small stuff around his apartment."
"Good point. I'll get as many as I can then." Giles frowned as he patted his pockets again. "Where is my wallet?"
"I've got mine and it has money in it," Xander said, pushing his hip against the older mans' hand. "Take it and go get the stuff we need." He smiled as his wallet was removed. "I think we'll deserve a bath later too."
"I think it's a definite possibility." Giles hurried to the Explorer and drove away.
Xander looked at Blair as he walked out to join him. "I'm going to start loading this stuff into the trunk of Oz's car. Since you guys can't really do anything yet, wanna help get Oz and my stuff out until Giles comes back?"
"Sure," Blair told him. "How did all of this survive?"
"The Fire Department's only two blocks away. The fire started in the store so we were really lucky." Xander shifted his box of stuff and headed out to where the back of Oz's car was open and waiting on him.
Oz looked out from the back room. "Like his plan too. Let's go get the heavy stuff now and then we can sit and put boxes into containers." He walked out with Nick. "Come on, he's got a killer bed, literally."
Giles looked at the room upstairs that they had stuffed full with furniture, smiling at the mess the conglomerated styles made in the large space. "We'll sort out which styles go in each room later," he told Oz, who was leaning against the wall behind him. He looked when he didn't hear a sound. "Are you all right?"
"Just tired," Oz murmured, his eyes almost closed.
Giles smiled and picked his lover up, carrying him into their room and laying him on the bed. He pulled Oz's shoes off before covering him with the quilt, stepping back to look at his peaceful and calm face. "You rest," he whispered. "We'll be downstairs." He walked back out as silently as he could, managing to close the door without slamming it. He walked down the stairs, checking on the plastic tubs of books that Philip and Nick were helping Xander and Blair go through in the library. "Oz is taking a nap. He almost fell asleep standing up. We'll sort the furniture out into the empty rooms tomorrow?"
Xander looked up and shot him a grin. "Of course. But my bed is going to go in the end bedroom, the one that looks out over the barn."
"That's fine. It's got the sitting room also so we can put some of your other furniture in there. Mine could conceivably go out into the trailer tomorrow so it's there if we need it."
"Is someone going to rent it?" Blair asked.
"Not really. We've offered it to Buffy if she needed it. Otherwise, if some of you'd like to just show up and wander around the lands, we'd be most happy to either put you up or let you live out there."
Jim walked up behind him. "Thanks. Oh, and the wife said she loved what you guys have done with the place. She's taking a nap."
"Well, Maria would need one," Blair said absently.
"Chief," Jim warned, shaking his head. "She's not."
"She's not." Jim walked away to stop the argument.
Blair looked up. "She is. I know I'm right."
Jim just groaned.
Giles smiled and headed for the kitchen where Sam and her daughter, who had come up with Jim, were cooking together. "Ladies, do you need any assistance?"
"No, we got it," Sam said with a smile. "Chloe's a great helper." She ruffled her daughter's hair. "Blair still buried in the books?"
"Oh, yes. I'm just glad that we have a few rooms that we can put those extra bookcases into to store the books that won't fit in the library." He smiled at Chloe. "If you find anything that we need, we were going to go shopping tonight after taking back the trailer."
"Xander said he was going," Sam said, looking around. "Did Blair suck him into the books?"
"Yes, he was in there helping. He knows how I liked to have things organized so he's doing it while they unpack each book."
"Ah." She nodded and looked at her daughter. "We could go with you. I've not been in a Walmart in forever."
Chloe snickered. "That's because Blair won't let you. He says they're evil and are taking over the world."
"They are," Blair justified as he walked in. "They're driving all the small, good businesses out of everywhere and making sure that you have to put up with what they have because there's no where else to shop." He kissed the back of her head. "I can go shopping. Most of those books are things that I wouldn't read or need to read."
Sam rolled her eyes. "You just want to escape Jim."
"Well, yeah, but I could bring him with me. Whaddya say, Chloe, want to go shopping with us?"
"Sure." She rubbed her hands together to clean them. "We need stuff for supper anyway. Otherwise I'm going to end up eating beans."
Giles shook his head with a smile. "I'll go grab the keys for the Explorer from Xander and we'll take that. It's the only thing that will hold everything we'll need."
Blair snickered, turning his head so it was quieter. "Oz told me about grocery shopping with the van and having it full."
"There are more of them and they only go once a month," Sam said, slapping his arm with her fingers. "Chloe, go get your shoes." Her daughter walked out, leaving them alone. "We don't mean to intrude, Rupert."
"It's not a problem, we actually enjoy having company. We're a bit isolated out here and the townspeople are still doing their best to avoid us."
Blair nodded. "They won't soon forget what they did. It's embarrassing for the whole community and you didn't play along with the script by moving away so they could forget easily." He rubbed down his wife's back, smiling at his step-daughter as she jogged back in, her blond pigtails flying. "Ready?"
"Yup." She dangled the keys. "I got them." She tossed over a wallet. "Xander said to take his since yours is still somewhere but that his bankcard and credit cards are in there and free."
Giles looked inside and smiled. "Yes, he is always prepared for everything." He started to slide the folded leather into his back pocket but stopped and dug in there instead, frowning. "I would like to know who's doing that." He pulled out his wallet, looking at it. "This was much bigger earlier." He heard laughter and frowned. "We do need these to be normal," he muttered, looking up. "Would you please quit that?"
"Torry!" Miri called with another giggle. "Not me. Whee."
Giles looked at the normal-sized wallet in his hand, opening it to make sure everything in it was back to normal also. "Thank you. Please ask her to stop, Miri." He waved outside. "Shall we? Before the ghost figures out how to do something else?"
Blair nodded, walking behind Giles, his eyes very large and making sure he knew what was around him at all times.
Xander looked up from his unpacking, frowning at his daughter. "Miri, that was bad," he whispered. "Tell her to stop it. That worried Daddy Giles sick."
Miri pouted. "Tay, joke?"
"No, it wasn't a joke, it was a bad thing. Your ghost would be grounded if we could do that." He stared into his daughter's eyes. "I mean it, no more."
She nodded, sucking her thumb. "No more. Whee good."
"Thank you." He looked over to find Philip and Nick watching him. "Our ghost recently found the magic books and she's been experimenting."
"Ah." Philip nodded, eyes closed. "Are ya doin' somethin' about her?"
"No," Miri said, glaring at him, letting her thumb drop. "My whee."
"They just want to make sure she's not going to hurt anyone," Xander told her, reaching over to play with Miri's dark, shoulder-length braid. "Did Auntie Sam do your hair this morning?"
"Unclie Blair," she said with a nod. She looked at Philip again. "No whee?"
"I don' think that'll be necessary, but we do need ta warn her. Some of these things can be dangerous." He looked up as someone cleared their throat from the door. "I'm sorry, we didn' mean ta wake ya."
"You didn't," Jim's wife said softly, coming in to sit beside them on the floor. She pushed her glossy black hair behind her ears, giving Miri a smile. "My grandmother just needed a family again. She was the last one of her own family and she always said she missed her family. Most of us grandchildren weren't well accepted because we married outside the faith and race." She rubbed down her strong nose. "My grandmother was very proud of her Mexican heritage and she was very disappointed that most of us chose to marry whites. The ones that didn't married men who were worthless so she was even more upset." She picked up Miri to put her on her lap, holding onto the wiggling little girl. "I think she would have liked Jim if she hadn't died when I was six, but I think she's considering Miriam like she used to do me. That's why she's so protective of her. She'll protect her family, even after death. My mother's still around when I need her, it makes sense that my grandmother would show up as soon as there was a family out here again."
Xander sighed, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin on his fists. "I can understand that. My maternal aunt was powerful and I think she's still around to watch over me. She only died recently though so I can't be sure. We don't want to hurt her, but your grandmother's been playing practical jokes. She shrank Giles' wallet earlier."
"Ouch." Jim's wife put her head up, frowning at the ceiling. "Grandmother! That's not nice. Behave!"
The ghost appeared, frowning at her. "No!"
"Yes. These people are guardians. This one," she pointed at Xander, "is a Golden Child. You have to leave them alone." The ghost looked at Miri. "Yes, you can protect her, but you can't act against her fathers. If they're upset things could start to fall apart. You've seen what that girl was." Her grandmother nodded, disappearing. "Sorry about that. It should all be fine now." She kissed Miri's head and put her back down.
"Thanks, Maria," Xander said, looking at her. "How did you know?"
"Jim came home and complained about you and the strange stuff." She smiled at him. "And I hate to tell Jim this, but Blair's right. I'm going to go back to my nap." She stood up with a grunt. "Miriam, would you like to grab a book and come tell me a story? The twins are in my room so I can practice with real little children."
The little girl grabbed one of her books off the lower shelf next to her and followed Jim's wife out of the library. "Really?"
"Yup. I could use a good bedtime story. Jim's so worried it's hurting my sleep patterns," floated down the hall.
Philip looked at Xander, clearing his throat. "Ya are?"
"Yup and head of my family now." He pulled the pendant out of his pocket, handing it over. "This was my Aunt's, the one I mentioned."
Philip smiled and handed it back. "I knew her, she was a great woman."
"Did I?" Nick asked, craning his neck to look at the pendant. "That looks familiar."
"It was Jane's."
"In Boston?" Philip nodded and Nick groaned. "She hated me."
"Of course she did, ya weren't her." He patted his friend's hand. "Now, help us set these things into their proper spots so we can use them later to find out if Derek's still around."
Xander looked at Nick. "You really knew my aunt?"
"Yup. Worked with her sometimes. She was very demanding." He picked up a book. "Reede's Anthology of Demonology?"
"Last shelf, after the Abiscon series," Xander said automatically, taking it and putting it into the right place.
Nick opened the front door to the man clad in silver leather, looking him over. "Let me guess, you're Wesley?"
"Yes, I am," he said stiffly. "Where's Rupert?"
"He's in the kitchen." Nick let him in, watching as he walked past. He let the three people behind him in too, watching the tall, dark, emotionless-looking one. He smiled at the young woman, who was looking around, and the normal looking man behind her. "Everyone else is in the kitchen or the dining room except Blair, he's changing the twins." He shut the door behind them.
"Who're you?" the normal looking man asked, his accent much lighter than Philip's.
"Just another stray the boys picked up," Xander said as he walked out. "Hey, Doyle. Buffy's in the kitchen too." He stopped to consider the young man. "Can I ask you something?" Doyle nodded. "Do you have any blanked out times? You or Cordy?"
Doyle and Cordy both nodded, Angel turning around and walking back to glare at Xander. "Why?" Buffy walked out, and he stared at her. "Oh, god, no," he muttered, grabbing her to look over her and sniff her. "You're pregnant!"
"Yeah, and I have this nice blanked out night about the right time and no contact with a man since forever." She pulled away from him to glare at her ex-boyfriend. "Why?"
Cordy cleared her throat. "Then we've got to have a talk, Buff." She walked closer. "What's your thing with Ranch dressing?"
"Cheese sticks so far, but I grossed myself out with the pickle thoughts." She looked at her former Slayerette. "You are?"
"With the same blanked out time."
Doyle cleared his throat. "You're not the only one, princess."
Miri chose that moment to come running out of the kitchen. "Buffy!" She screeched, hiding behind her. She noticed the new people, giving them smiles. "Blue guy!" She hopped up and down in front of Doyle, arms raised to be picked up. "Blue guy, blue guy!"
Doyle looked at Xander in alarm. "How does she know that?"
"She's like that," Cordelia reminded him, picking her up. "Miri, do you know about Buffy's baby?"
"He blue too. You too." She kissed her auntie's cheek and wiggled until she was dropped. "No nighties, auntie," she said, grabbing her hand. "Eats then kitties. Not-daddy no eat them." She drug Cordy with her into the dining room. "No whee!" she yelled in frustration. "Babies sit there."
Xander looked at Doyle. "You have blanked spots?" He got a nod. "I think you three need to have a talk. She was crying and isn't real sure about anything yet." He nodded back toward the kitchen. "The not-uses are in there." He turned and headed for the dining room. "Come eat, guys, no work at the table."
Doyle looked at Cordelia then at Angel. "I don't have a clue. It's not like I had a vision." He followed Xander. "We'll figure it out," he reminded them. He took an empty seat at the table, looking down it. "Doyle," he said with a nod.
Philip smiled at him. "Oh, some of us remember ya," he said quietly. "How ya feelin' now?"
"Fine father, didn't know ya knew the kids."
"Yup. He blessed Tigger so we didn't die in the wreck," Xander said with a small smile and pat to Oz's hand since he had stopped drinking. "Wes, I'll understand if you don't want to eat with us, the other vamps have blood in the kitchen, you and Angel can eat in there or bring a glass in here to drink with us." He looked at the other end of the table at Giles. "Ready to begin again?"
End this Story, to be continued....