Troubles Coming Backwards. Series Title: Because Kaiya Wanted To See It, part 3 and end.

Strife sneezed. And the world changed.

Even though he had lost a bet and was now a horse, he was still a God. So his fondest desire appeared.

Him, in human form.

And a Xander who would understand.

The Xander looked around then licked his lips as he turned back to the second Strife. "We are in *such* trouble."

Strife snorted, staring at his counterpart. "Not just us. Hey, me!"

The Strife horse snorted, sending what was bothering him so much to the two Gods in front of him.

Xander sighed as he turned toward the house. "We've got to fix this, before she screws up the time line."

"Yup," the second Strife said. "Go to it, Xandman." He got glared at. "Like they'd listen to me."

"Point." Xander flinched as he felt a powerful God coming their way. "Ares," he said, holding out his arms.

"Do I know you?"

"Wrong Ares," Strife muttered, just loud enough to be heard.

"We were pulled to fix the girl who lives here," Xander told him. "She's been warping across planes."

"Let me guess, she's a relative of yours?" Ares asked dryly.

"One of her three fathers on this plane is me," Xander agreed. He turned toward the house again, testing the minds inside. "Oh, no," he whispered, turning to look at this plane's version of his consort. "Fisx it, Ares, please?" He gave him his most beautiful, pathetic, begging look, hoping to score a soft place in this Ares' heart.

Ares sneered at him. "Why should I care? They're not mine."

Strife sent something to his Uncle.

"And you," Ares said, turning on the horse. "Why are you here?" He got reminded of is part in the bet. "Remember to leave the body before it dies," he grumbled.

Xander leaned into the hard body. "Ares," he purred, giving him a smile, "we've got to fix it. You can't let them suffer. They don't deserve it. They fight every day for this world. They *deserve* your help."

"Maybe," Ares said reluctantly. He scanned the young God on him, earning a brighter smile. "You're mine? What're you over?"

"God of the Overlooked," Xander giggled. "They made me *very* powerful by accident."

"Humph." Ares sent a thought at his nephew, getting a long, complicated explanation back. "I see. Yes, I'll help you stop it."

"But they need more help than stopping Miri," the second Strife said. "They're struggling, Ares, and they need *our* help." He looked at his Uncle. "They deserve it more than most and Athena won't."

"Buffy's still around?" Xander asked.

"There's a Slayer here?" Ares asked over top of him.

"Two," the human Strife told them. "One of her fathers is a Watcher."

"If one's me, then who's the other?" Xander asked.

"Oz," Strife said with a smile. "One who's still changing. And so's the Giles here."

"I...." Xander shook his head. "I can't imagine the three of us without an absorbing body."

"They're tryin'," Strife told him as he gave him a hard pat on the back.

They both turned their most pitiful look on the God of War.

"Fisx it," Xander asked pitifully, turning up the volume on his begging.

"Fine," Ares groaned. "Just go home before you tear something important."

"As soon as we can," Strife quipped. He looked down at himself. "Guess it's not time."

The barn door opened and the Gods turned to look at the human Xander. "Um, hi," he said hesitantly. "Why are you in our barn?" The Strife horse snorted and lifted his nose at the bale of hay. "I'll feed you in the morning."

Godly Xander got the clue and walked over to pick up the letter sitting there, grinning as he read it. "Read it, me, it'll explain a few things."

"Including why you're in leather?" he asked as he took the paper. "Oh, no, not again," he moaned. "I'm going to bury that book." He looked up. "Did she come visit you too?"

"Nope," the human Strife said. "Not yet. She'd like it though."

"She and Melvin would get along great," the Godly Xander agreed.

"Enough," Ares ordered. He got four tongues stuck out at him. "I could leave." The tongues all disappeared, but equine-Strife sneezed again.

"So *that's* it," human Strife muttered, pulling a knife out of thin air to clean his nails. "Gotta get the Xander-germs outta our temple."

Godly Xander smacked him. "It's not my fault!"

"Enough!" Ares ordered again. "How do I put up with you two?" Xander sent him a series of thoughts and pictures. "Oh," he said flatly. "I'm insane there. That explains everything." He looked at the mortal. "They've asked me to help you."

Mortal Xander straightened up, staring back at him. "We're doing fine. We don't need help."

Godly Xander reached over to pat him on the shoulder. "I know you're doing okay but we can help ease a few sticky spots."

"We're fine," Xander said again, but it was weaker this time in the face of his counterpart's confidence.

"Yeah, yeah," Ares said, waving his hand and feeding the horses. "Let us help and we can all go back to bed."

Mortal Xander looked down at himself then back up. "I was looking for Miri, I thought I heard her escaping again."

"Which is a good thing since she just got back," Strife quipped.

Xander went pale and looked at the letter again. "This isn't from the first trip?"

"Nope," Strife said, hopping up to sit on a bale of hay. "This time she got sent to two other yous. Oh, and don't worry about the stones, one of the yous sent them." The Strife horse had told him about them and it was kinda funny when he thought about it.


"Just forget it until you find them," Godly Xander said. "Can we help now?"


"Dude, let it happen so we can all relax," a voice floated down as a new man appeared slowly. He turned out to be a winged God, a very tanned, handsome, winged God. "This you from elsewhere wanted to do something good for you and your stubbornness is speaking to theirs." He smiled at the four-legged Strife. "Hey, you're still here?" He chuckled as he heard the disgruntled thoughts. "Yeah, well, next time, don't be so cocky."

"Son, go home," Ares told him.

"Nope, I'm needed."

"Cupid, they're working it out," Godly Xander said quietly.

Cupid looked at his father, who shrugged. "Okay, but I'll be listening." He disappeared.

Ares leaned against one of the roof supports. "Let's hurry this up. The longer you're here, the more the boundary tears."

Xander clapped his hands. "Okay, there." He turned to the other him. "Listen, I'm going to set you up with a job interview but getting it is all you. Same for Giles."

"He has one and so do I," the human Xander protested weakly.

"Yeah, but it's not profitable yet. This'll give you a few years to grow a reputation. Giles' will last, but it's not well-paying." He grinned. "Then you three can take everything you've gained from your other selves and save it for more necessary times."

Xander nodded slowly. "Okay. Will it be something we can do?"

"Yup." Godly Xander nodded to reassure him. "I've found an apprenticeship for you to try out for. There's also an opening for Giles, one that he'll love. Get Angel to help you with getting the hard things cashed out."

"I'll accept that advice once I know what this is about," Oz said as he walked through the barn door. "What's going on?"

"Instead of Miri coming to see us, we got pulled to see her," Godly Xander said with a gentle smile. "It's okay, Oz. We're not scary."

Both Strifes gave Ares a look. "Don't even," Ares noted. "I still believe in retribution."

"Yeah, it's my Ares favorite thing," Xander said with a fond smile. "Especially when I mess up."

"*You* are a strange being," Ares proclaimed, shaking his head.

"Yeah, but I don't mind *his* version of punishment," Xander countered.

"He even made you accept his cat," human Strife said.

Ares growled, "I don't do cats."

"Furry is a good cat," godly Xander protested. He pulled Miri's new cat to his arms, stroking her. "This is the same as my Furry, only gray. Tell Miri to call her Arwynn and she'll protect her." He handed the cat to Oz. "The second Xander she saw tonight gave Arwynn to her."

"Ah." Oz looked down at the cat. "Okay." He looked up. "What else came with her?"

"Pretty things," godly Xander said solemnly. "Let Angel help you with them."

"Don't worry about it," Strife said, grinning when he was noticed. "Hi. Take care of that horse."

"Sure," Oz said, starting to feel overwhelmed now. He backed out of the barn, going back to find his sanity.

Mortal Xander swallowed hard. "Are we in trouble?" he asked. He didn't know too many people that could pull a cat to them out of thin air, and if he was right, they could be in really *big* trouble. Especially since they were with a guy named Ares.

"Only if she continues on her journeys," Ares told him with a smile. He had heard the thoughts. It may have taken the guy a while, but he liked him for some reason.

"We can block it; we can even put in an emergency axe," godly Xander offered.

"Please," Xander said with a quick nod. "We don't want her to do this either, Giles is ready to beat her and lock her in her room for good." He looked around. "I've...I've got to go ... go find...."

"Go," godly Xander said gently, waving him away. He turned to the other Gods as soon as his counterpart had run away, thankfully minus the screaming. "What else are we doing?"

"This is your show. I'm here to make sure you don't screw up too much," Ares told him, hopping up to sit beside Strife. "How long have you known him?" he asked his nephew's other.

"Since he helped bring me back. He's a great friend. He likes me for me, ya know?"

"Yeah, I can see you two are alike." Ares turned back to watching the younger God work.

Xander finally nodded and clapped once. "Done." He looked at the older Gods. "Can we go? I want my kitten."

"Furry?" Ares sneered, but lightly. If Strife liked him, any version of Strife, then the young God might be okay.

"You," Strife said as he hopped down. "Remember, me, leave the horse *before* you die. I don't think I could take subbing in for you here." He took Xander's hand and disappeared.

Ares settled in to talk to his favorite and missed nephew.


Xander wandered into his bedroom and stopped to watch his lovers sleep. He had spent a lot of time watching his children sleep, considering their newest visitors. He had even spent time having a talk with a sleeping Miri about never traveling again. He didn't feel right about crawling in with Giles and Oz right now though, it was almost like he was changed by meeting this latest version of him.

He was a God somewhere.

Where had his life gone wrong?

Oz held a hand out but didn't move anything else. Xander took it and felt a wave of comfort wash over him. He crawled in between the two warm bodies, letting them sooth his doubts.


Giles opened the lid of the washer, not paying attention to the contents as he threw them into the dryer. Until he found an emerald. Just a small one, but a dark green, shining stone was glittering up at him from the bottom of the tub.

He picked it up and went to go find his oldest daughter.

Xander stopped him in the hall and handed him the letter, pulling him to a chair as he read it. "They gave them to her?" Giles asked finally, after a fourth read.

"Yeah," Xander said as he sat across from his lover. "It seems we're doing okay there too." He took the stone to play with. "We got a visitation last night. Another me," he said with a glance up, "with a guy named Strife and one named Ares. Oh, and the winged guy, Cupid, was here for a few minutes too." He gave the older man a grimace. "Oz saw them before you tell me I need drugs." He laughed bitterly. "Where did I go wrong?" he asked quietly.

Giles went to his knees to hug his lover as tightly as he could. "Those other yous aren't always something that you could have become. I have no doubt that all these other times that Miri's visited wouldn't have happened without very specific events. These may not have been a way for you to become who you are there." He pulled back some so he could look at his young-seeming lover. Xander was so innocent in some ways, but ageless and wise in too many others. Would this have to be one of the times that his innocence was going to hurt him most? "None of those planes were very near ours, Xander. There hasn't been a visitation to any directly off our version of the time-line." He brushed some of the dark hair off the pale brow. "We don't know that this isn't the happiest you could be in this lineage. Think of all that could have went wrong, about how miserable you could be."

"Think about all the bads that've happened," Oz said from the doorway. "You could be without Miri, the twins, even us." He walked in to give Xander a hug too. "You're happy, right?" Xander looked up at him and nodded. "Then rejoice in it instead of wondering how you could have been those other yous."

Giles gave Oz a grateful smile. "It's all right to wonder but you can't let it consume you." He stood up. "Did the visitation last night bring anything else?"

"The me is going to block travel from her," he said with a faint smile. It was good when they tried to understand him. "They're going to arrange things so we get job interviews - but not jobs - and that I wanted to help us."

Oz grunted. "Okay. As long as it's something we can live with." He shrugged at the dirty looks. "There's lots of jobs that I couldn't live with you guys doing."

"Oz," Xander sighed, covering his face, "I promised that I wouldn't go back to stripping, didn't I?"

"Yup, but there are other ones too." He reached over to pat the dark head. "What're we going to do with whatever we sent ourselves this time?"

"I told me to let Angel help us deal with it." Xander stood up, handing over the stone. "We've got more of those somewhere."

"I'll check her bag," Giles said, leaving the office.

Oz held the stone up to the light. "Looks really costly." He tossed it back to Xander. "Did you want to help me search for the stuff in the cave?"

"Sure. What're we going to do if we find it? It's been lost forever and I'm not even sure who we'd tell."

"We'll call Rupe and to take care of any problems then let him call whomever." Oz nodded at the door. "He'd know best."

"Yeah, he would. What would an apprentice position be?"

"Really long hours. Which I wouldn't like." Oz wrapped an arm his lover's waist. "I want to suggest something, again. The Vo-Tech has some really good programs." Xander opened his mouth. "Including carpentry. Will you at least talk to them?"

Xander stopped and thought about it, then slowly nodded. "I'll look at what they have," he agreed. "No promises though."

"Not needed," Oz assured him quickly. "We have the catalog in my office. Let's go find that cave, I'll give it to you tonight" He led Xander from the house.


Giles dug through Miri's new bag, frowning at the handful of stones he came up with. "Surely they didn't give you all these. It's too much."

Miri stuck her head around the doorframe from where she was told to wait. "Uh-huh. The daddy twins have *lots* more. They have bigger than my bookcase more."

"I'm sure that's an exaggeration," Giles said with a frown. He watched as she walked over to her dresser and grabbed a stack of photographs. His mouth nearly fell open when he saw the pile of stones his daughter was sitting in front of, then at the man who looked like his Xander. He traced the soft-looking clothes with a finger and a sinking heart. That Xander was so different! He looked at the other pictures, smiling at all the children in one, frowning at the nearly transparent one in the other. He picked up the letter he had found in the bag, his stomach clenching as he read. No one would dare harm his Xander that way, not with him around. But apparently it had happened and that's why his picture was so transparent.

A picture paper-clipped to a letter landed in front of him so he picked it up and read it. "Oh, my," he said, looking over at Miri. "That certainly explains a lot. Would you like us to get you some picture frames and put your pictures in the library?"

Miri clapped. "Yes, please!" She looked at the new picture. "I no see him."

"He came here after you got back this morning and he's told me how to keep you from leaving again." He pulled her into his lap, giving her a cuddle. "You must never travel that way again, Miriam, not unless it's an emergency. If you do, you'll end up with the Xander that showed up last night, which would be quite bad. You must *never* do it again."

She looked up. "Me bad?"

"Yes. You could have hurt the other people who you went to visit." He gave her an extra squeeze. "I don't blame you for wanting some excitement, but you must never do this again." He let her go. "We'll get you frames tonight, all right?" She nodded. "Good. Please gather up all the things you got on your last visit so we can put it somewhere safe." He stood up and left her alone.

Miri sorted her pretties out, putting aside all the ones she wanted to keep with her.


Giles walked down the stairs with the bag they were storing Miri's 'pretties' in and held it up so Oz could see it.

"Have you checked the dryer and washer?"

"No, I was going to do that shortly." He sat down on the other end of the couch. "Where's Xander?"

"Chatting." Giles looked confused. "That instant messaging thing you do with your bosses," Oz explained. "He's got Sam."

"Oh." Giles relaxed. "I wish he'd talk to us about this."

"He can't, we're still trying hard not to think about it."

Giles nodded. "True, I've been forcing myself to ignore the possibilities that have been raised by Miri's visits. I had no idea that some of those paths were available."

"Me either," Oz agreed. "Especially the last one."

"Though he would do excellent in that... in that job," Giles said quietly, not able to mention the title. "I've told Miri that she could have picture frames for the pictures she brought back and she's agreed to put them in the library."

"There'll be less confusion that way," Oz agreed. "I got Xander to agree to look at the Voc school stuff."

"Good. Very good. Maybe he'll find something he'll enjoy doing."

"Yeah, we can only hope." Oz looked toward the library. "It's going to be weird for a while."

"Yes, but we've gotten past worse. We'll work through this crisis also." Giles stood up. "I'm going to check the laundry. Hopefully there won't be too many more.

Oz watched as he walked away then went back to considering these other paths he might have taken.


Xander sat up as he felt someone sit on the bed but there wasn't anyone there. He rubbed his eyes, his mouth falling open as he saw Oz sitting there. Only it wasn't quite his Oz, and he wasn't sure what was off. "Um, Oz?" he asked.

"Yeah, and you're right, I'm not your Oz. Want to talk? I know how badly the other you screwed with your head." He held a hand out and when Xander took it, they disappeared. They ended up in the woods, sitting on a log with Xander leaning against a tree. "This okay?" Oz asked.

"Yeah. You're from the same place...." He got a nod. "Oh. Can I ask..."

"Ares picked him as an assistant and he got given his Godhood because almost everyone loved him and wanted him to be one. There were a few problems along the way, including his relationship with Ares, but then he got us ours. Both I and Giles are Gods too."

"Over what?"

"I'm over technology and rock bands. Giles is over the paranormal. You're over the overlooked. You're a great God by the way, even Hera likes you most of the time."

"That's cool, I guess." Xander looked down at his hands. "It wasn't possible for me to..."

"No," Oz cut him off. "It wasn't possible. Ares messed with the Xander there's life to get him as an assistant. There isn't any way you'd be doing that here. As for the other ones? Giles left to go take out the Council in the one with all the kids and the other two she visited were also very specific events." He reached over, tipping Xander's face back up. "They couldn't have happened here."

"What could have then?"

"Well, you could be miserable. You could be without your kids. You could even be living outside of Sunnydale, struggling to survive after you ran away because someone found out about your secret. Oh, and that only happened here as far as I know."

"Really?" Oz nodded. "Why not?"

"Because the power of the Hellmouth isn't the same in every plane. In this one, it's strong enough to radiate because it never fully closed, that's why it's opened so many times and probably will again because of Buffy. In the one with all the kids, it's been closed permanently since you guys left for Derek's house."

"So, no other me's..."

Oz shook his head. "Think of reality as a partially constructed spiderweb, Xander. For each starting strand, you have alternates that spin off. Some of those alternates touch each other, but for the most part, they're separate until a connecting strand comes along. Miri's one of those by the way."

"So, she connected these realities?"

"Yup. From now on, it'll be a lot easier to get from here to any of the three that she visited, though you'll have to go through one of them to get to the last one since that's her route." He shifted some, pulling his legs up under him so he was sitting crossed-legged. "As for your wonderings? We got a call from someone watching Miri to make sure the block stuck. They asked us to come talk to you guys."

"Is the me from there going to talk to someone?"

"Yup, but I'm taking his place because he's worn out. See, the you there is over kids that have run away from home. He's over a bunch of people who have no one else to turn to, and he's been wearing himself out. We're helping him adjust but he's about to reach a critical point." He gave the young man a hard look. "Are you really wondering about why you're not like that?"

"I was wondering why all the other mes looked so permanently happy and I'm not," Xander admitted. "And all of them are rich or something. I'm not."

"That last part has been somewhat due to your choices. With what you guys were recently given, in a few years you could be doing really well with some good investments. Except for one accident, you'll be free of most of the stress that's making you unhappy too. Almost everything has been up to you, and only you, up to this point. Things would have been much different if you hadn't chosen to take Miri in." That got a smile. "Listen, I'm going to let you in a little secret, okay?" Xander leaned closer. "Yes, you do have some free will, and there is fate, but the two of you work together. It's your choices that determine where fate sends you. You choose the path and then you let fate drive. You do get to take over the wheel sometimes but not that often. As soon as you chose to take in Miri, your path was set. But it'll get easier. Fate's not going to lay into you the way she does some people."

"Oh." Xander leaned back against his tree. "This is all set and I'm along for the ride?"

"Yup. From now on. With a few exceptions of course." He tipped his head to the side and listened to something. "Ares is coming, I'd better leave. Just relax and let it flow, guy, it's all okay in the end. You'll be happy if you want to be." He disappeared in a flow of golden sparkles and Xander found himself back in bed, still tucked in.

Xander relaxed and thought about what he had been told.


Oz appeared behind Giles, tapping the computer to pause the progress. "Gotta talk to you, G- man, let's do this now." Giles turned to look at him. "Oh, did you talk to you here?"

"Yes, I did. He's out in the barn with the horses." Giles waved a hand and restarted the computer. "Which did you talk to?"

"Xander. He's way screwed up. He's got so many doubts and so little confidence in his decisions." Oz pulled a chair over with a thought and sat down. "Hmm, comfy."

"Xander decorated the whole house. He's got quite a gift for the parental duties here."

"Yeah, and it's going to get better too." Oz grimaced as he looked toward the living room. "Ares is talking to the me here."

Giles sighed. "We'd best get back to our home realm. I'm sure the ghosts in that one castle are ready to start a revolt any day now."

"Nah. Strife went to go talk with them. Hera sent him I think." He took his consort's hand and they teleported away.


Ares looked down at the young man on the couch. "Gee, you're not at all what I thought you'd be like from his memories."

"Not a God either," Oz pointed out. He sat up and looked at the tight body. "So, you're Ares, right?" Ares nodded. "Cool. Why are you here? Did we screw up already?"

"Nope, I got ordered to come tell you a few things." He nodded outside, walking out onto the porch and sitting on the stairs. "You guys need a dog."

"We have your nephew as a horse and cats," Oz said as he sat down across from him. "That's enough animals for now."

Ares snorted. "Maybe you're right." He looked around. "Listen, kid, this is going to sound harsh, but you couldn't have been them. Their lives aren't on the same scale as yours." Oz nodded. "There's no comparison here."

"This is the spiderweb theory of reality?"

"Yeah," Ares said, a little surprised and showing it. "Yeah, it is. How'd you know about that?"

"Its a popular theory of alternate realities. That and the pearl theory."

"Ah. Well, for each reality, that's true. Though, there are stringers that connect certain realms, turning the pearls into a web."

"And Miri's one?"

"Yeah, how'd you know that?"

"I kinda figured it'd have to be a big reason for you guys to show up."

Ares laughed, reaching over to swat at him. "Yes, it is." He looked around the farm again. "You guys have got a good thing here. A very good thing." He considered the building off to the side between the barn and the house. "That's one of the best habitrails I've seen recently."

"Thanks. We kept getting out." Oz shifted, leaning a little closer. "I'm not that confused. I'm worried about Xander but I figured it had to be something that we couldn't have become since none of them resemble what's went on in our lives."

"A good guess but the alternates aren't always like that. For this one, there's one where you married Willow right before graduation and skipped the fighting. She turned Xander into a zombie so he wouldn't have to be gone from her life and then lost control of him. He's still running the town."

"Ouch." Oz shuddered. "Bad thoughts. There's one where I didn't succeed that night too, right?"

"And one where Xander committed suicide one of the other times he almost tried. The one where you didn't get there in time, Willow went insane and jumped from that cliff the next morning and Buffy walked into a fight she had no intention of winning. Giles died of a broken heart during graduation because he wouldn't fight, and you left for parts unknown and reverted to the wolf. Things aren't always close in the alternate versions of your life."

"But the real question is, is there one in which we're happier," Oz told him.

"No, not in this line. There's a number where you've broken up and are trying again, and you're about as happy there as you are here."

"So this is our peak, huh," Oz said quietly, looking out at the paddock. "Your nephew's being attentive."

"I'll talk to him tonight." Ares sent a thought to the Strife horse, making him snort and trot away. "Better?"

"Actually, I kinda like him as a horse. He's a really good ride."

"Do he and Xander get along here?"

"Yup. After Miri, he's his favorite person. Now."

"Ah. That explains so much." Ares flipped some of his hair back. "You three will be fine, eventually. This isn't one of those planes where everything comes easily and instantly. If you knew the yous with all the kids, you'd see that even theirs wasn't that easy. They have to fight to get farther apart, you kids have to fight to get closer. It's all relative."

"Thanks, man," Oz said, standing up. "Relax about us, we'll be okay in a few days."

"Good." Ares stood up and stretched. "I miss having a lot of woods to wander around in."

"Always welcome, Ares. Just don't let us see you." Oz walked back into the house to the sound of the amused laughter. He walked up the stairs, going up to their room. "Hey," he said as he walked in, "I just got visited. You?"

"Yup. By you."

"Ah." Oz laid down beside his lover and cuddled up to him. "Are we okay?"

"Yeah. It's good to know that this is the peak of our lives though."

"Yeah, it is, isn't it." Oz rubbed his head against the firm chest. "Are you happy?"

"Usually. I'm feeling a little isolated because of all this."

"Hey, that's normal too," Oz assured him. He lifted his head and gave him a tentative kiss. "I'm majorly out of practice with this."

Xander grinned at him. "That's okay too. I wish that you weren't though."

"Yeah, I miss our baths." Oz rolled off the bed and held out a hand. "Want to take a bath?"

"Nope, I want to do this out here. Lock the door." He stood up and stripped as his lover locked them in and closed the drapes so the kids wouldn't catch them going at it. He crawled onto the bed, over to where Oz was standing and stripping.

"Do that some more," Oz said as he pulled off his shirt, ripping the collar. "I like watching you wiggle for me."

Xander giggled but did it again, this time with extra wiggle. Then he hissed as cool fingers teased his holes. "Why do you have cold hands?"

"I was outside." Oz slid up behind the warm body, wrapping himself around it. "Want me in both or just one?"

"Whatever feels good to you," Xander said with a slight thrust back. "Please?"

"Sure, babe. I'd like to have you every way." Oz let him go and kneed his way over to the dresser, pulling out the bottle of seldom-seen lube. "Hmm, this is really old. I can't remember the last time we bought any."

"A few months before Miri went on her first trip."

"Ah." Oz flipped open the cap and poured some out onto his finger to test it. "Still working well. This okay with you?"

"Whatever's good with me," Xander said, looking over his shoulder. "I could go with just a handjob if you wanted."

"Nope. I want to be much closer this time. I'll suck you later." Oz slid some more out onto his fingers and worked them into the rear hole of his lover's body. "Weren't you supposed to go in for a checkup last week?"

"Yeah, but I called and canceled it because we couldn't afford it."

"We can afford it, babe. It's not that expensive." Oz kissed him between the shoulder blades. "We're not going to ignore your care or the kids' care. Never. That's why we all have insurance."

"I've used all my coverage up for the year," Xander admitted. "I got a letter saying that I was using too many visits."

"Huh. I should get the number and yell at them."

"Tried that," Xander sighed, relaxing under the skilled fingers. "They didn't care that Doctor Adam's demanded that I come in."

"Hmm. Still should yell at them. That's the state program or the one we're under?"

"I don't qualify for that one because I have other insurance."

"Oh." Oz stopped to think about that. "I'll talk to whoever over there and see if they won't put you on my coverage then. There's a domestic partner clause." He shrugged and went back to what he had been doing. "Good enough?"

"Can you get in?"

"Could before, but this time, I can go faster." Oz wiped his hands off one of the pillow cases and tossed the bottle in the trash. "We'll get a new bottle for next time."

"Coolness." He winced as Oz slid into him, relaxing into the gentle push. "Okay, maybe I was a bit hasty in saying I was ready."

Oz leaned down and nipped at the back of Xander's neck. "I can stop and go clean off," he offered.

"Yeah, let's do that. I'm feeling really not good about us doing this part of sex."

"Okay." Oz pulled out the scant inch he had gotten in and walked into the bathroom, going to wipe himself off. He came back out a few minutes later with a warm cloth and wiped off the external lube as best he could. He gave the quivering cheeks a light kiss as he tossed the cloth away, parting the globes and sliding into the other hole.

"Ah!" Xander screamed and shuddered some more, pushing back against his lover. "More, Oz, now, I need more."

"Sure, babe." He started a hard, fast, smooth rhythm, slowly working his lover up to a screaming peak again, smiling as he went over before him. "Gee, needed it much?"

"Yes, lots more often," Xander panted, going limp under him. "Was it okay for you?"

"Not done yet," Oz told him, going slower now as he thrust into the wet hole. He came a few minutes later with a sigh, laying across the sticky, sweaty back. "Okay, I'm good for a nap now," he murmured, earning a sleepy chuckle. "Let's nap, Xan. I'll give you cuddles later."

"If you'd roll over, I'd do all the cuddling," Xander offered quietly.

Oz grunted as he pulled out and righted himself on the bed. He grimaced as he felt wetness invading his hair, so he pulled the pillow out from under his head and tossed it toward the door. "Better," he said, taking his position back up on Xander's chest. "Much more comfy than a slimy pillow."

Xander stroked over Oz's hair, missing the lubed spot, and gently fell asleep watching his lover nap.


Giles looked out the door as he heard footsteps, getting out of the blond vampire's way. "How are you feeling now, Spike?" he asked as he let him inside.

"More like myself but still less than me." He looked around. "Where's the little bits?"

"All asleep fortunately." Giles led the way into his office and closed the door behind him. "I know I was told to let Angel help us with this matter, but I doubt he'd have the resources and contacts that you would to make this transaction go through smoothly." He tossed the bag of gemstones over, watching as the vampire looked down inside, snorting as his face lit up. "We'd give you a small percentage of it of course, but I doubt that Angel could help us here."

"Nah, the poof wouldn't have a clue. He'd go the legal route and get you all buggered with the government." Spike sat down, stilling looking in the bag. "Where'd ya get 'em?" He looked up. "I need to know how illegal this is gonna be. The fee goes up by the way."

"Did you hear about Miriam taking trips to other planes?" Giles asked as he sat down.

Spike nodded. "Blair told me. Said she found a whole lot of kids."

"Yes, well, she went again and one of the Xander's there is apparently very wealthy, of this sort of wealth. He sent them with her, plus she took a few that were in her pocket, she said she was playing with them and he didn't mind when she tried to give them back."

"Oh." Spike shook off his surprise. "So these are legal?"

"Yes and no. They're not from this plane of existence. They're legal otherwise. We have a letter saying that he gave them to her as a trust fund. I've never dealt with this sort of issue though, and I will be damned if I want to go to Ethan for this."

"He's back is he?"

"Yes, he's in town to watch over his daughter Sileya." Spike looked up. "Yes, she's his daughter, and Xander's his son. I'm not too fond of that fact, but it's a reality I must face."

Spike chuckled. "I bet." He closed the bag. "Ten percent."



"Five. With that amount of stones, five percent should give you enough to live off of for quite some time."

"Yeah, maybe," Spike agreed. "I'll take five, but I get to come play with the kids."

"As long as you don't teach the children to swear anymore."

"Hey, I like the little demonic ones." Giles frowned at him so he grinned back. "They are."

"Only when they're with you. The rest of the time they're little angels."

"If you say so." Giles pointed at the bag. "Can you do that?"

"Sure. I won't even have to leave town. There's a demon here who specializes in money changing for the other demons." He stood up. "Anything else?"

"Yes, please don't tell anyone where they're from. Miri's been blocked so she can't leave the plane again. We really don't want it getting around that she's done so in the first place though."

"Hey, no one said I had to tell 'em anything," Spike scoffed. He left the office and the house.


Giles looked at the forms the bank manager had put in front of him. "Is all this really necessary? I don't remember this much paperwork being involved in opening my last account."

The woman smiled at him. "This is a special case though, and the government demands that we fill out many forms so that they can have copies."

Giles nodded and pulled out the amended letter; they had had to change the name at the bottom and take out some of the more personal information the letter had contained. Spike was very handy for many things it appeared. He handed it over to her. "This should ease some fears. It was given to Miriam by one of Xander's distant relatives."

"I wasn't aware that Mr. Harris had any," she said, looking over the letter. "Where's this one from?"

"From England. You see, his father's not quite his father." He leaned closer. "We recently found this out and we're not sure if his parents know yet or not so please don't spread that around." He went back to filling out the forms. "Anyway, this was sitting in trust for any other heirs that might be found out of a certain lineage. They were given to Miriam."


"Yes, we had to cash some of the investment out. Some of it wasn't readily available for deposit." He glanced up. "Did you need more proof than that?"

"No, this should be fine. We'll copy it and put it in the forms." She folded up the letter and put it on the desk. "How did you want to invest this?"

"We wanted something safe, safety is the most important thing. We'd like some sort of decent return for right now. We were thinking about a standard account until we decided what to do with it."

"We do have special accounts for trusts," she offered. "It's mostly untouchable by the parents, but it should be fine since your daughter's so young." Giles shook his head. "It has an average return of about seven percent."

"Seven? That's very good, but we'd like something that we could move it around in. We've got some ideas about investments and the like." He looked up, seeing her fear. "Yes, I believe I should go to our investment counselor first. Let him make this decision." He picked up his briefcase and the letter, leaving the office.

She picked up the phone and dialed the police. "Hello, this is Meridith Samms over at the bank. We just had a man trying to make a very large deposit and I'm not sure of the circumstances. Yes, I think you should investigate. It was Rupert Giles, he said they got it from a relative of Mr. Harris'." She chuckled. "Yes, I'd heard." She hung up and leaned back to relax until the police came to get the forms.


Giles tapped on Ethan's door, having to force himself to stay until it was opened. "May I talk to you?" he asked. He was let inside and stood stiffly until the other man turned to face him. "I may have just caused us all an inconvenience." He handed the original letter over to Ethan, who read it then burst out laughing. "Yes, I was trying to put it into the bank for safe keeping."

"Good job, Ripper. What cover story did you create?" The amended letter was handed to him. "Ah. That's ingenious." He waved a hand as he walked in to sit down. "Don't be such a prick, come sit down," he called when he wasn't joined.

"I was looking at your pictures," Giles said as he walked in. "When did you get those?"

"I had one of your boys send it to me, the other one, not Xander."


"Yes, I believe so." Ethan handed back both letters. "So, your precious eldest has discovered magic?"

"She's been very gifted since she was born. She's a natural telekinetic and has always been drawn to my books. How our ghost sent her places I'm still not sure of." He got comfortable on the firm couch. "This is a nice place."

"Thank you. I believe my daughter might like it better than a place that I would have preferred." He glanced around the tidy room. "How is she?"

"She's doing better. Her training with the teacher you found her is going well. She's taken to learning the theories quite well. She may break Buffy's record shortly, especially since there hasn't been so much activity since Willow's dreadful spell."

"That's who cast that damnable thing?" Ethan said, sitting up straight. "And you didn't stop her?"

"We tried, but she did it anyway. We did work together to counteract it if you remember."

"Yes, but I never knew who had cast it. How did she think of it?"

"She's blamed it all on Buffy. Said something about defensive capabilities."

"Ah." Ethan relaxed. "I'll have to go pay the chit a visit then, won't I?"

Giles gave him a cruel smile. "If you do, please go see Spike first. She's done some rather horrible things to him. Even worse than you'd do to a pet."

"Hmm." He smiled suddenly. "I could do that. How is the vampire anyway? I heard that he babysits sometimes."

"He did before Willow tried to turn him into an automaton. He's in LA right now, though he helped us with this matter."

"Ah." Ethan looked at the letters again. "I'll gladly stick up for you in this, Ripper, I know how much your children mean to you. Besides, it suits me that my son has access to funds if something happens to him."

"Yes, that's another part of this, though we're planning on leaving it alone for as long as possible. We're saving it for tougher times. I'm working for White Knight now."

Ethan smiled. "That fits you somehow. Are you a Chair Holder?"

"Not quite. I'm second in command in my section but the person over me is a former Legacy member himself so I have no problems with that."

"And how is Doctor Rayne?"

Giles smiled. "I never mentioned him."

"True, but I do remember seeing him with you."

"Yes, he was pulled out of Hell by way of our Hellmouth. Our friends in LA have been helping him regather himself and readjust."

"Good. He deserves it. I may not agree with his cause but he's a decent man, always been an honorable fighter for the side of good and all that." He smiled at the bemused look. "What? I can appreciate the other side even if I'm not on it."

"I see. But you'll help us?"

"As always. It's best for Sileya and Xander if I go along with this. By the way, I've been wondering about that prophecy. It's as vague as all the others, but I can't quite make heads or tails of it. Have you tried yet?"

"I've found three different copies and they're all different so far," Giles said, grimacing. "I need to find an original copy of the prophecy and retranslate it. Do you have one?"

"I have one in Sumerian that's available to me, but I don't think it's the original."

"No, I have one that's in one of the older demonic languages. It's much older than our civilizations are. Maybe even from the cohabitation time." He put the letters back into his briefcase. "If you find one, I'd appreciate a copy of it. There's no telling whether or not it's been activated already."

"If it has, then we'd have seen a great death of many demons," Ethan pointed out.

"Which we did with Willow's spell," Giles reminded him. "I'm not sure if they're connected though."

"Oh." Ethan stood up and led the way back to the door. "You'd best be on your way. I have a feeling you're going to be stopped on the way home."

"A police scanner?"

"Quite. It's best to be prepared after all." Ethan opened the door and smiled at the officer on the other side. "See, I knew it was going to happen." He waved the officer inside. "We'd be most comfortable in my living room. Ripper?" Giles walked back in there and opened his briefcase, taking out both letters to check for the one he wanted to hand over, but they were both taken. "I wouldn't worry about it," Ethan told him gently. "Nothing bad shall keep happening to my offspring." He sat down beside Giles on the couch. "I know it sounds strange and all but I've come to appreciate having a next generation over the last few months and I happen to like your Xander quite a lot. He's nothing at all like most of my family."

The officer looked up, staring at Giles. "She did this on her own?"

"Yes, well mostly. Our house's spirit helped her a bit we think. She's been blocked from traveling again unless it's an emergency."

"Okay then." The officer read one of the letters again then handed both over. "A relative of your lover's gave them to her? Can you tell me which side of the family?"

"Mine," Ethan said, giving him a smile. "You see, his mother was quite a drunken slut when she was younger and we enjoyed a weekend together. It's not well known, and it's best if it's not known at all, that I'm his father. There are many entities that would try for him and his children because they wanted to get back at me."

"I'm not going to tell." He looked at Giles. "I'm a transfer from the Initiative. We've been wanting to ask you a question about a former student's activities."

"Willow and her spell?" Giles suggested with a grimace, and the officer nodded. "She did it without our authorization and we tried to stop her, but we weren't totally successful in reversing it."

"Why would you want to?" the officer asked.

"Because half-demons and the children of demons were involved," Giles said coldly. "They had no business being punished for anything. As a matter of fact, we have friends who are half- demonic who have been helping us fight for years that were affected. That spell was absolutely wrong on her part and we've dealt with her." He put the letters back into his briefcase and snapped it shut before standing up. "Is that all you needed?"

"Yes, sir," the officer said quietly, watching as he left. "He's really uptight over it."

"Yes, he is, but he's correct. Do you know how many half-children there are in town? Ones who didn't deserve any of what they got? I'll admit to picking on adults but I do try and leave the little people out of it as much as possible. They haven't done anything wrong yet."

"True, but now we know them all."

"Not quite," Ethan said. "Leave please. I need to meditate." He waited until the officer was gone to get up and walk over to his altar, going to do something to make sure the man wouldn't be able to say anything about what he had learned. He really did enjoy his offspring, he needed them to be healthy and around. After all, he wouldn't be around forever, no matter how much he'd like it to be like that.