(6 Months later)
Xander dragged himself through the door, flopping down onto one of the breakfast nook's chairs. "Okay, done," he sighed, taking the cup of coffee Oz pushed across the table to him. "Thanks."
"Welcome." Oz looked over Xander's very understated outfit, the one Giles had helped him buy, and shook his head. "Go change and become yourself again."
"Hey, good things happened because of this outfit, I get to wear jeans at work. I won't have to do remote broadcasts because the morning team demands that right."
"So, what's the hours on your job at the radio station?" Giles asked as he walked in, giving Xander a hug and a kiss. "Did it go well?"
"Yup, very well, and the manager liked my tie," Xander said, holding out his dog tie to look at it. "Huh, got a spot." He worked at it with his thumbnail.
"We have stuff to take that off," Oz told him, reaching over to take the tie off his lover. "What else?"
"I'll have the ten to four shift. Apparently, one of the other people has a child that's starting kindergarten this fall and she'll be in an afternoon-only program. She'll be taking the afternoon to early evening, someone takes over from her at three to me at ten, then the morning crew comes in at six. They pick up programming for the other hours." Xander smiled at Giles. "So I'll get off at four, get home by five, take a long nap before you go to work at ten, then take a nap after supper when everyone's home again."
"We won't see much of you," Oz noted.
"Actually, I could do it with just my morning nap if you could get classes that start at noon, then we'd have all evening together until I have to leave for work."
"Which would be best," Oz said, giving Xander a smile. "I can do that. That only leaves the question of Blair not sleeping through the night yet."
"He'll have to eventually," Xander sighed, resting his head against Giles' conveniently placed stomach. "He may be in school by then but he'll have to sleep through the night sometime."
"He may just be a night person," Giles told them. "I was. My parents originally had to arrange my sleep schedule so that I slept after dinner until about two or three in the morning then stayed up throughout school. It worked rather well until my father decided I should learn to play sports."
"That might work for him," Oz pointed out, "but Tigger won't sleep without him being next to her."
"Eventually, they'll be in separate beds," Xander said, blinking hard. "She'll have to adapt sometime. And they're together the rest of the time."
"Why don't you go rest, love," Giles said, pulling Xander up and pushing him gently toward the hall. "We'll wake you up for supper."
"Thanks. Oh, and I start in a week."
"That will be fine," Giles assured him. "Go rest and don't worry about it, Xander. Let us worry about the house for a bit."
"'Kay," he mumbled as he dragged his feet upstairs to their room.
Giles smiled at Oz. "I'm sure it will all work out, it may take some adjustment but we'll be fine."
"Unless he has to do daytime remotes," Oz reminded him. "Then we're screwed."
"I could conceivably bring the children in with me for a bit. At least for a few hours."
"They'd drive you insane and you wouldn't get anything done. You'd be chasing Miri."
"I may, but I think I could get her to sit and color or draw the artifacts if need be," Giles said with a faintly pride-filled smile.
"Maybe, but soon the twins will start walking."
"Don't remind me," Giles groaned. "We'll have to consider baby-proofing the house soon."
"Gates and outlet covers," Oz said, pulling over a notepad to make a list.
"A separate gate for the library so they can't get in there. We'll have to check the plants Xander's been spreading around the house to make sure thy aren't poisonous."
"He'd know and I think he checked," Oz said, making another note. "We used to have a book about how to do all this. Maybe we should check the stuff stored in the attic."
"We might want to do that anyway as I've been feeling a breeze from the trapdoor recently. I think we may have a broken window up there somewhere."
"Ouch, and it's been raining," Oz said, looking up. "We'll go do that tonight with Xander."
"Do what with me?" Xander asked as he padded back into the kitchen in sweat pants, a T-shirt, and socks, coming over to sit in Giles' lap. "What's up?"
"We're talking about preparing for when the twins start to walk," Giles told him, rubbing down his back. "Why aren't you in bed?"
"Because I couldn't sleep. I needed a bedtime story." He yawned. "I'm so tired I'm not sleepy any more."
"Ah." Giles pushed his young lover up and stood, pulling him back up to their room so he could tuck him in. "There we are," he said as he sat next to the lump under the covers that were Xander's knees. "What sort of story would you like?"
"Story?" Miri asked, sticking her head into the room. "I need story." She jogged in and hopped up onto the bed, snuggling down on top of her father's still body. "Me story too?"
"Of course you can," Xander told him, grinning at Giles as he ran his fingers through Miri's hair. "Daddy Giles is good at telling stories. He used to have to do a lot of it to explain what Auntie Buffy was doing out of school."
"No, she did most of those," Giles said with a smile, "but I could tell you a story. Would you like to hear about a beautiful princess?" Miri nodded. "Well, the princess felt she was meant to do something so she went to the royal advisors, to ask their opinions. They tried to tell her she was too important to go on a quest but she shrugged it off and went to her fathers, who backed her fully." He leaned down to give Miri a kiss on the side of her heed. "Her fathers gave her a horse and their best map, and were even talked out of sending a guard with her when she protested about needing protection." Xander yawned and Miri was blinking hard. "The princess set off to find out what she was supposed to be doing, not sure that this was even the right course. She searched night and day all over their vast kingdom to find her purpose. Finally, she couldn't stand to be alone any more so she went back to her home. Her parents were thrilled and threw her a welcome home party and made sure that all her friends had been invited." Xander started to blink hard and Miri was yawning. "During the party, it hit her. She had needed to prove to herself that families were important and she had. She had known it before but she had needed to prove it to herself. As she turned to look at her fathers, they surrounded her to give her a hug. That's when she knew that they knew what she had been after. Though she was royally pissed at them for it, she did love them for letting her figure it out on her own. She gave them each a hug in turn then went to have fun on the dance floor with her many friends." Giles smiled when he saw Xander was sleeping and Miri was just staring at him with sleepy eyes. "Maybe you should take a nap too, princess," he told her, picking her up to carry her into her room.
Xander whimpered and grabbed for her. "No, mine," he said, trying to pull her back down.
"Shh, let me put the baby into bed, Xander, I'll come back and cuddle you." He walked their daughter into her room, tucking her into her own bed. "Sweet dreams, love. We'll wake you in time for supper." He pecked her on the forehead and went back to his room to find Oz lying on the bed with Xander wrapped around him. He closed the bedroom door so he could strip down to something comfortable to sleep in, climbing in behind Xander, smiling as the sleeping body snuggled back against him, one arm reaching back to pull him closer. "Yes, I'm here too, Xander. Sleep, love." He kissed each of his lovers, gently reassuring himself that it was all real. "Good night."
"Night," Oz whispered, rubbing over Xander's arms and shoulders, his eyes drifting slowly closed too.
Giles didn't try to fight the nap, he merely followed it down, clinging to Xander as he went into pleasant dreams.
Xander dragged in from his first day of work, falling down to sit on the floor against the cabinets in the kitchen. He blinked at Oz as he walked in with Elizabeth, too tired to wave. "Problems?" Oz asked, sitting down in front of his lover's tired body.
"Yeah, big ones." Xander blinked again. "The woman who does afternoons was in a crash. They scheduled me there."
"You can't do that," Oz reminded him.
"Told them that, got fired." Xander blinked again. "This is bad, right?"
"Yeah, it's not a good," Oz said gently, standing up to put the baby in the kitchen basinet. "Come on, let's get you up," he said, turning to help Xander off the floor. He picked up the baby, walking both of them up the stairs and into their bedroom, laying the baby down in the crib. "Shoot, forgot the bottle."
"I'll get it," Giles said, sliding out from under the blankets. He walked over to give Xander a hug. "What's wrong, love?"
"Got fired because I couldn't do afternoons. Told the manager why, he didn't care." Xander looked up at him. "He said that's why most people have wives."
Giles pulled Xander into his arms, hugging him, rocking him slowly. "It'll be fine. You'll find something else to do soon enough." He looked at Oz. "Let me go get the bottle, you can have Oz comfort you for a few minutes." He handed over his precious bundle, heading down to the kitchen to warm up another bottle.
"They hated me," Xander sighed, relaxing into Oz's arms. "He said he didn't want to hire me but someone had told him it would be a good idea."
"Huh. Wonder who?" Oz worked on getting Xander undressed and lead him over to their bed, pushing the young man down under the covers. "There," he said as he finished tucking him in, "you rest while we feed the kids."
"I can do that," Xander said, trying to sit up, but Oz held him down.
"We'll bring them over here," Oz told him, looking over his shoulder as Giles walked in. "We're going to feed them on the bed."
"That would be an excellent idea," Giles said with a smile for Xander as he handed off the bottles. "Let me grab the little darlings." He picked up the twins, working with their wiggling from much experience, and carried them over to the bed, handing Elizabeth off to Xander. "Here we go, you feed Tigger. She seems to take food better from you anyway."
"We have to start planning their birthday," Xander said, sticking the bottle in the opening mouth. "Yeah, you eat, we're going to talk about you like you don't understand us again."
"I want to do the same thing we did with Miri's," Oz said, shifting so he was cradling Blair a little better. "The chocolate cake/family/embarrassing pictures thing."
"Ah, tradition," Giles mock-sighed. "What an outstanding idea. I've already sent out invitations to the extended family, the party's planned for two days after their actual birthday because I didn't want to have it on a day that Xander was supposed to have worked."
"Can I not be real disappointed here?" Xander asked.
"Of course you can," Oz told him, leaning over to kiss his cheek. "You can feel any way you want right now."
"Thanks." Xander looked down at their daughter, smiling at her as she yawned and spit out a dribble of milk. "My, you're messy tonight," he whispered, using his shirt to wipe off her spit trail. "Ready to go back to bed?"
"Yeah, I think they all are," Oz said, shifting so he could get up, but Giles walked around the bed to take the children and put them into the crib again. "Thanks, babe." He yawned, lying down with his head on Xander's shoulder. "Ready to sleep yet?"
"Yeah, lots ready." Xander snuggled into the offered neck, burying his nose as far into the crevice as he could. He took a long smell of his lover, eyes closed to savor the simple pleasure. "You smell like Giles' soap," he whispered.
"I ran out. I would have used yours if you hadn't run out too." Oz reached down, rubbing over the tired back. "You rest, babe, we'll nap with you. You won't even have to get up for breakfast."
"Me!" Miri called from outside their door.
"Bad timing," Xander groaned, but he didn't move. "Let's see what's wrong?"
"Nightmare, probably," Giles said with a yawn. He let their oldest daughter in, picking her up when she hugged his legs. "What's wrong, precious?"
"Nightymares, daddy." She clung tightly to him. "Me no sleep."
"Okay, you don't have to sleep in there. Would you like to curl up beside Daddy Oz for a bit?" She nodded, allowing him to put her down after they had made it over to the bed. "There we are, cuddle in." Giles climbed over the trio to get to his usual spot, cuddling Xander from behind. "What was your nightmare about?"
"A girl?" Oz asked, shaking his head. "Was she bad?" Miri nodded. "Did she do bad stuff or was she just bad."
"She bad," Miri said, curling up on his chest so she could be cuddled by all her fathers. "She mean."
"Ah." Giles shook his head. "Miri, it was just a nightmare. We all have them at times. It can't hurt you, love."
"But she bad," Miri protested, raising her head.
"Yeah, but it's only a dream," Xander mumbled, one eye peeking out of its protected spot behind Oz's neck to look at her. "Dreams can't hurt you, Miri. Not even her."
"Tay, me still sleep you?" She blinked at them, showing off her version of her father's begging look.
"Of course you may," Giles told her, patting the back of her head. "Anytime you need to, we're here for you, Miriam. Never doubt that."
"Tay, me sleep," she said firmly, wiggling her body, butt up in the air, until she was comfortable.
Oz looked over at Giles, shaking his head. "I could never sleep like that."
"Only the young can sleep with their necks at that angle," Giles sighed, making sure they were all covered. "Let's sleep, tomorrow's going to be a busy day."
"Yeah, it is. I have a test."
"And I fear we have an upcoming trial to deal with." He rubbed down the back of Xander's head. "But we'll deal, we always do."
Giles looked over the bills, frowning at one. "Why did we pay the water company an extra fifty dollars this month?" he asked Xander, who was at the stove.
"Because they wouldn't reconnect when they shut us off by accident without it." Xander flipped his eggs out of the pan and onto a plate, carrying the plate over to the table to sit across from his senior lover. "That day that we didn't have water? They were supposed to cut off someone else but got us instead. She wouldn't reconnect without the deposit."
"I'll have a discussion with them soon then," he said, pushing that bill aside. "A statement from your bank account," he said, pushing it over. He watched as it went sailing into the trash can. "Don't want to know how you're doing?"
"That one's empty," he said in between bites. "I emptied it last month. Everything's in my investment accounts." Xander looked up to see the confused look. "We knew that it wasn't going to last forever."
"Yes, but it seems like it should have lasted longer."
"It's all in my investment account," Xander reminded him. "I'm doing okay there."
"I'd like to see your account summaries tonight, if I may," he added at the frown coming out, "just to make sure that everything is truly fine with your finances."
"Okay. Whatever. I'm not good with money." Xander looked up at the urn sitting on top of the cabinets. "What's that? I noticed it the other day and Oz wouldn't give me an answer."
"It was something that was sent after you," Giles said, grabbing Xander's hand to hold. "We trapped it in there but we felt it best if we could keep an eye on the urn to make sure that it didn't open itself."
"Oh, okay." Xander shook his head. "Why would someone send something after me?"
"I have no clue, but I don't want to take a chance of it happening again." Giles stroked over the palm of the hand he held. "I really do wish that you could have found a job you could do."
"Yeah, me too," Xander sighed, pushing aside his empty plate. "I'll find one eventually or I'll have to make due with what I can find."
"I'm sure you'll find the perfect job, Xander, it's just a matter of time."
"Yeah, but how much time," Xander countered with a small grin. "I have another job lined up, at least for a while. I'll be gone from eight at night to about three or four." Giles opened his mouth but Xander held up a finger. "We can't afford for me to not work anymore. I'm going to go do this job as long as I can while I look for another one. And if I end up being fired again, then oh, well. I won't be torn up over losing this one."
"I see. Would you care to enlighten me about the nature of this job, considering the only type of work I know where you'd have those hours you've recently lost or is one that I've asked you to never return to." He looked the younger man over, his chest starting to hurt. "Tell me you're not going back to that club, Xander. Please tell me you're not going back there."
"I was asked to come back, seems they can't keep dancers. I'm only going to dance, not going to mingle or anything. It'll be fine, Giles, really," Xander explained, taking his hand to hold. "One of you could even come the first few times to make sure that it's a safe environment."
"Absolutely not," Oz said as he walked in. Xander gave him a begging look. "No. I don't want you to go back to stripping. End of discussion." He sat, pushing Xander over. "No."
"But I need a job, I need to work so the household has enough money. I'm almost tapped out of my settlements."
"Then we'll make due without," Oz said firmly. "I refuse to have you go back to stripping, I don't care how good the money is."
"Up to six hundred a week," Xander said softly, looking at his hands. "If I sell enough drinks."
"I thought you didn't have to mix," Oz said, taking his hand to squeeze. "I don't like this idea at all, babe, let's consider an alternative, all right?"
"What alternative?" Xander asked, looking at him, giving him a tired look. "I'm not seeing one at the moment."
"We can make it for a few weeks on what Giles makes," Oz assured him, using his thumb to stroke over the palm.
"No, we can't," Giles sighed, slumping in on himself. "Especially not since I've asked for shorter hours."
Xander opened his mouth but Oz put a finger across it before he could say anything. "I still have some money left over from the beginning of the semester."
"How much?" Xander asked, pulling over the shopping calculator. "'Cause, each week in groceries is about a hundred and fifty for all of us. Plus bills. Plus gas and your school needs." He punched in the numbers as he talked, showing off the end product. "That's a month, Oz."
"Okay, so we're not doing okay financially," Oz admitted, mirroring Giles position. "But that doesn't mean you have to go back to a dangerous job."
"I don't particularly want to but I don't see another option. None of us could be hired in town without a fight and some mysterious person's suggestion. Or at least I can't."
"I asked and found out that my job was the result of one of those suggestions also," Giles said, sitting back up. "I'd like to think that this person, whomever it may be, is trying to make up for past mistakes, but I can't be sure of it." He looked over his lovers, shaking his head. "I really don't see an alternative at the moment. I do want a promise that you're not going to stay there any longer than you have to, Xander."
"Hey, not an issue," Xander said, holding up his free hand. "I don't want to work there at all."
"Then why do it?" Oz asked gently. "You could start school with me until you find something that you like to do, maybe even the design program."
"Because I suck at school. Haven't we had this fight before?" Xander frowned at Oz. "I'm sorry, guys, I know I'm a disappointment in the academic area but I hate school. I don't want to go to college and flunk out."
"We'd help you," Giles offered, giving him a hopeful smile. "Both Oz and I will tutor you if you'd wish it."
Xander shook his head. "Unless one of you is going to take my tests for me too, it's out of the question. There's a reason why I almost didn't make it to graduation."
"What about one of those study at home programs, like the ones on the television late at night?" Giles asked.
"I might be able to do something like that," Xander admitted. "As long as I don't have to compete against the other students and no one looks over my shoulder all the time."
Oz snapped his fingers. "Trade school."
"That runs back into the scheduling problem thing again," Xander reminded him, "and I know what's offered out there, there's nothing I really want to take." He swallowed. "Okay, maybe the computer programming one. I always thought that was kinda cool. Typing in strings of nonsense to make programs go."
"One of those study at home things had computer programming on it," Oz offered. "I could help teach you, as long as you promise not to hack."
"I won't go hacking into things. I'm not going to pull a Willow."
"Yeah, well, she agreed not to too when we got caught. We were given warnings because we were doing harmless things like looking at the town's sewer system, but the Feds did catch us. I can't teach anyone how to program for another year unless I know that they won't hack."
"Hey, then I'm safe," Xander said with a small grin. "I doubt I'll get that good."
"I was hoping you'd pick something more practical," Giles sighed, shaking his head as he got up and headed for the refrigerator. "Would you like a drink?"
"Sure," Oz said, squeezing Xander's hand. "There isn't much demand in this area for programmers, but he could take a few classes at least."
"Or you could teach me while I do something practical, like computer repair?"
"Yeah, that would work," Oz said, giving Xander's cheek a kiss. "Actually, some of the best repairmen know how to program so they can fix interference problems."
"That would be most acceptable to me," Giles said as he sat, putting a glass of water in front of Oz. "We'll get the number tonight and call in the morning."
"Um, tonight?" Xander asked, looking at the calendar. "Tonight isn't a good thing, Giles." He pointed out the red-marked days. "Tonight you both get to turn furry and mean."
"No be mean," Miri said as she walked in the back door. "Me bored, daddies."
"I know," Oz told her, picking her up to start the hugging circle. "Why don't you go watch TV?"
"'Cause not on."
"Oh." Xander shrugged, nudging Oz after handing Miri to Giles for a hug from him. "I'll go turn it on and you can watch something cool, okay?" She nodded, wiggling down off Giles' lap and following him out to the living room.
Oz winced as he heard the TV come on, wiggling a finger in his ear. "Someone must have been watching videos while he vacuumed again," he noted.
"Sorry," Xander said as he walked back into the kitchen. "I was listening to it while I dusted the library." He pushed Oz over, taking his seat. "Where were we?"
"Discussing what to do about us tonight," Giles said dryly. "We'll follow up on getting that number in three nights' time if you haven't. Then we'll look over the options you have to see if anything might interest you."
"'Kay," Xander said with a shrug. "I don't know why you guys make such a big deal of this."
"Because it's important to be happy in your life," Oz reminded him. "Think of a whole life spent as the househusband here. That's what choosing the wrong job is." Xander shuddered. "Exactly."
"Okay, I'll let you guys help me look at the options. What if. . . ." He had to stop because Giles leaned across the table to kiss him. "Hmm, nice change of subject."
"Sorry, felt I had to. We'll cross those bridges when we come to it, Xander, don't worry yourself to death about it."
"Okay, I'll worry when you guys tell me it's time to worry." He stood up, shaking out the hand Oz had been holding earlier. "I have to go get ready."
"Tonight?" Oz asked sharply.
"No, for you guys. I have to go get the tranq gun ready and things. You guys have to eat so you don't get out and go after the neighbors." He grinned at them. "I don't start at the *place* for another four days. I thought that would give me enough time to talk one of you into coming to the club with me."
Oz nodded. "Oh, yeah, I'm not letting you go alone. I may even buy you a drink at those horrible prices."
"I'm not mixing in that manner," Xander said, shrugging. "Apparently my dancing makes people want to drink. I get the same commission as everyone else if I sell drinks like that." He waved and headed out to the backyard. "Gonna be in the barn checking the cage."
"Okay," Giles called after him. He looked at Oz and both of them shook their heads. "I think he's going to be cheated rather quickly."
"Not necessarily," Oz pointed out, "his bartender and manager may be a little more honest. I am going to be there, no matter what."
"I agree. I think one of us had better go each night until we're comfortable with this."
"Or until he quits," Oz added, standing up. "I'm going to fix steaks, want one?"
"Yes, please, but make mine rather rare this time. I feel the need to hunt this time."
"Yeah, me too," Oz said as he pulled a bag of steaks out of the freezer, tossing them toward the microwave. "Guess he'll have to watch us tonight."
"I dare say he'd better. I really don't feel like going out to hunt down a deer again this month."
"Was gross," Oz agreed, putting the steaks in to thaw.
Xander groaned as he watched the two strong, furry shapes run out of the barn, shaking his head. He checked the tranq pistol, heading out onto the porch, leaving the door open so he could get back inside as fast as he could. He fired off one dart at one of the roaming bodies, hitting it, but the second dart missed, making him run back inside as fast as he could to avoid Giles' nearly white body. He really didn't want to be torn up that night. He waited until the body was pounding on the door to lift the mail slot, firing it into the werewolf's stomach at point blank range, wincing as he heard the pained cry. "Sorry," he said, standing up to watch Giles fall over. "Really very sorry." He tucked the gun into the back waistband of his jeans and started to unlock the door when Miri came rushing down the stairs. "What's wrong, sweetie," he asked, catching her as she jumped into his arms. "Another nightmare?"
"Yup, mean girl." She buried her face in his neck. "Where daddies go?"
He shifted her so he could sit on the edge of a couch. "You know how daddies turn furry every month?" She nodded. "Well, they're very bad during this time, they like to sneak out and play in the woods when they're not supposed to, so we put them in the barn. Of course, both of them just escaped again but that's something we can deal with."
She shook her head. "No shooties daddies, daddy. That's bad."
"I wouldn't if they wouldn't get out."
"They want to play too."
"Oh, I know, but werewolves playing involves hurting people. We don't want them to bite people so they can't go play."
She nodded. "They be good."
"No, sweetie, they won't be good, that's the way the wolf wants it when it's in control." He put her down on the couch. "What did the mean girl do this time?"
"She say stuff. Bad stuff." She nodded. "Mean to daddies."
"I'm sure I can protect Daddies."
"No, she like you." Miri bit her bottom lip, looking very much like a young Willow as she thought. "You friends."
"I am?" She nodded. "Well, now I know it's a dream. I could never be friends with someone who would say mean things about the other daddies, no more than I could love someone who didn't love you." He hugged her tightly. "See, not a bad dream. Just a strange one. If you want, you can go curl up in our bed tonight." She nodded. "Okay, go nap in our bed. We'll toss you back into yours when we come in." He gave her a kiss and let her go, turning to look out the window. "They're gone," he said in amazement, standing up check for the passed out furry bodies, turning on the outside light to make sure Giles wasn't hiding in the shadows of the porch. "We need stronger tranqs," he muttered, going back to his watching, turning off the outside light so he would be able to see the furry ones as they ran past the house again.
Oz grunted as he stood up, looking around the clearing he had been lying in, frowning at the greenery. "We need stronger tranqs," he muttered, checking the itchy spot on his thigh for a hole. "Yup, need stronger ones." He sniffed the air, heading for the bacon smell. Once he got to the edge of the clearing, he figured out he was going in the wrong direction, Xander never made pies. He turned around, heading for what had to be his house.
After what seemed like an hour, he came to a familiar road, groaning as he caught sight of a mailbox down the road to his right. "Wandered farther than ever," he told himself, heading back into the scrub brush next to the road so no one driving past would see that he was naked, hurrying as fast as he could for his house.
Giles woke up in the barn, in the cage with the door open and shook his head. "Why did this happen to me," he groaned as he stood up. He checked himself over, rubbing the sore spot on his stomach, but headed up to the house, frowning when he emerged into the sunlight. He wasn't at home. The house in front of his didn't look much like his house, it was much more new and it was painted tan. His house was still a dingy white. He molded himself into the shadows of the barn, checking for other people, then headed off into the woods, hoping he was going the right way.
Xander woke up from his spot on the couch, yawning and stretching. He opened the door, looking out into the early morning brightness. "Guys?" he called, heading down the three steps of the porch. He started to worry when he didn't get an answer, heading for the barn to check on his lovers, making sure they had stayed somewhere around the home the night before. Even when they got out, they stayed near the house. He started to panic when he found the barn empty of everything but a few kittens, heading back to the house at a trot. He stopped long enough to wake up Buffy by pounding on the trailer door. "They went really far last night," he called, heading back to the house to turn on the radio. If someone had spotted them, they'd hear about it soon enough.
"Wha's up?" Buffy asked as she trudged into the kitchen rubbing her eyes. "Who's out?"
"Both of them. They're not in the barn and I tranqed them last night." She nodded, yawning. "They could be as far away as twenty miles by now," he said, grabbing her to wake her up.
"Let me call Willow, maybe they went hunting her." Buffy picked up the phone, dialing, tongue hanging out as she thought about the number. "Hey me, Spike. No, they're not here. No, Xander is. The other two are somewhere." She handed the phone to Xander. "Spike."
"Spike? Man, they got out." He nodded, turning to look out the window. "Yeah, woods, I know, but one thing? We have over twenty acres. Most of it's wooded." He grunted. "Okay, so go troll the roads?" He nodded, grabbing his keys. "All right, I'll go do that, tell Willow when she gets up to call and make sure they're back. Oz has a test today in the class they're sharing." He hung up. "If Miri gets up, feed her cereal, I'm going to go ride along the road to make sure one of them is not walking back." He jogged out the back door to her listless wave.
"Have fun," she muttered, grabbing the coffeepot to start some. "I need this. He can be that energetic without it."
Xander drove toward the main road first, going slowly so he could check the sides for bodies, walking or not. His chest started to feel heavy the longer the search went, until, when he turned around, he felt ready to be sick. He headed past their driveway, going down the road in a direction he'd never taken before. He slowed even further as he came to a fork in the road, looking down both directions, then taking the left because it looked more walkable. He went a few miles, using a weed-filled driveway to turn around in, heading back to the main road, going down the other fork, taking the same amount of time. He turned, heading for his home again, his stomach in knots, his chest heavy, tears just starting to leak from his eyes. He did one last drive- by down to the main road, then turned and went to his house, trying to figure out what he could have done differently. As he got out of the Explorer, he looked up, wincing at the barking going on up near the house, jogging up to see what was going on.
He found one of his neighbors and a naked Giles standing on the porch. Xander ran up to his senior lover, hugging him as tightly as he could.
"There, there, Xander, I'm fine. Just a bit of sleepwalking again," Giles comforted, smiling at their neighbor. "Thank you for giving me an escort back. I wasn't really sure where I was."
"You're safe," Xander whispered, clinging tighter.
"You're home, that's what matters. Take care of your boy there." He winked at Buffy, leaving them alone to walk back through the woods.
"Wow, neat guy," Buffy said, turning away from the hugging twosome. "I've got breakfast ready when you guys are," she called over her shoulder as she walked through the door.
Xander looked up. "I shot you and you still got up."
"Then we'll look into a stronger cage and tranquilizers," Giles told him, giving him a smile. "Have you seen Oz?"
"Nope, I was driving looking for the both of you." Xander stepped back, pinching a soft tit. "Get inside and get dressed, I'll go look some more for Oz."
"Who?" Oz said from the doorway.
Xander sighed, walking into his arms as the door opened. "Where were you?"
"I was on the other side of the lot. There's a really nice hunting and game trail that way." He looked at Giles. "You?"
"As far as I can tell, about three farms over to our left." Giles pointed. "I ran into our neighbor as I tried to sneak past his barn, he showed me the trail and walked me home when he noticed my state." He took the robe Buffy tossed him with a slight blush. "Thank you." He slipped it on, heading inside. "Oh, good, no children yet."
"Miri's on your bed," Buffy said from her place in the refrigerator. She pulled out an orange, walking over to the table to sit. "It's okay if I snarf food over here today, right?"
"Sure," Xander said, patting her shoulder as he walked past her. "Eat away." He sat on the island, looking at his lovers. "I did tranq you both. You got up and walked away."
"We'll fix the cage," Oz told him, giving the reassurance with a pat. "Go rest. We'll be up in a few."
"I've got baby duty," Buffy called out. "Miri and I are going to pick out names and stuff."
Giles looked alarmed but kept his mouth shut, heading for their bedroom. "Come, Xander, let's put you to bed so you can rest. I have no doubt that you didn't get much sleep last night."
"Nope, but Miri's had the nightmare again." Oz coughed and he turned to look at him. "She said the girl in it was mean to you guys but we were friends so I tried to explain to her that wouldn't happen. I couldn't be friends with someone who was mean to you guys."
"We'll deal if it happens," Oz told him, waving. He waited until he and Buffy were alone to look her over. "You call Wills?"
"Yup, Spike was about to wake her up." Buffy handed over part of her orange. "No, I'm not sure about anything yet, but a reasonable adoption should allow me to name the baby first. Especially if I get to pick the parents."
"Maybe," Oz sighed, grabbing a muffin and tearing into it. "Got a test in two hours, can't go nap." He headed for his office, closing himself in.
"Yeah, back to our version of normal," Buffy sighed, finishing her breakfast.