Matters of Family and Protection
Precious opened her email, glaring at the junk mail she had gotten. She stopped at one message, one without a sender's name. She opened it, checking to make sure her virus detector was on. Her mouth fell open as she read, getting more and more shocked. Finally, she got up and started to pace, needing to think about this.
Her mother had written her.
Her mother was reaching out to her.
"My mother wants to teach me," she told herself. Then she shook her head. "I can't. She's a chaos witch. I'm supposed to be on the side of good." She looked at her monitor again. "But I miss my Mom," she sighed, going back to reread the message. "Huh, wonder if the Dads know about this," she asked herself, starting to chew on a thumbnail. "And do I have to tell them about it? If I don't, Alex will tan my hide, and she spanks hard." She chuckled. "Boy, wouldn't the Dads go ballistic if they found out Alex had spanked me when we were little. Though, I guess I did deserve it, trying to drown Junior was not the best of all ideas." She shrugged her thoughts off and went back to rereading her mother's message. She carefully saved it and moved on to finish deleting her mail. She only had an hour online to do this. She came to the last piece of mail in her inbox and frowned, opening the letter from her old Headmaster. "Adam!" she screamed, backing away from her computer. She knew the teacher was right outside her room, waiting to take the phone cord back.
Adam ran in and looked at where she was pointing. "I'll be damned," he muttered, printing the message out. "Did you get any more?" he asked her, stopping her pacing.
She shook her head. "Not that I saw. You can check the trash if you want."
He sat down and clicked on her trash, ignoring the one without a sender's address. He checked a few more messages and printed a few of those out too. He took the printouts with him, taking the time to make her look at him. "Do not go out alone," he warned her. "Sick people like this will come after you." She nodded so he left, going to find her fathers. He found them in the dining room, patiently staring down the hallway. He slapped the papers down on the table. "I want his head," he said coldly.
"Get in line," Xander told him, taking the messages to read. He handed them over to Oz when he was done. He took a deep breath then started to get up, but Oz slammed him back into his chair. "I want him," he told his husband, trying to sound calm and reasonable.
"No, this time we do it by the books," Oz told him, looking at them both. "Derek's back tomorrow. We'll let him handle this."
"I know you can, but I don't want you to start having problems with your stomach again. Or be in jail for manslaughter," Oz amended at the hurt look. "I'd miss you for those five to twenty years."
"May I help Doctor Rayne?" Adam asked.
"Sure. After you check the other kids' messages," Oz agreed. "Please, feel free to threaten him for us." He looked at Xander. "We both know that we'd turn furry as soon as we saw him, and I personally don't want to have to eat him to get rid of the body."
Xander nodded. "I don't either," he agreed. "But if Dad...."
"Then we'll handle it," Oz agreed, reaching over to touch Xander's hand. "We'll pounce on him as soon as Dad gets through the door."
"Or," Adam said smoothly, "there is another alternative. Have Philip go to him."
"Nope, a priest that left the Church wouldn't have enough clout to get things done," Oz told him.
"Ah, but I bet Philip has kept up ties within the Church. Have him put a word in someone's ear." He handed over the last paper, the first message he had seen. "This should about put him out of our misery."
Xander tried to take it but Oz snatched it first. He read it and then got free, going to hit something repeatedly before he tracked down this sick bastard. Xander watched his husband for a second, then looked at Adam. "What did that one say?" he asked calmly, sounding reasonable.
"It's best you never see that one," Adam told him, gathering the papers to take them up to the house. He could hold them quite well until the morning.
Xander counted to twenty then went to find Oz and fine out what that one message said. If it was that bad, he wasn't going to wait until tomorrow.
Derek braced himself as he saw his sons running down the halls, hoping to get a hug and not a problem. He was not pleasantly surprised. "What happened?" he asked.
Oz just handed over the messages and stepped back. "Precious found those in her email," he explained. "We're letting you handle this before we eat him."
Nick read over Derek's shoulder, eventually taking the messages to read, snatching them from his lover's hands. "Excuse me," he said, holding one up. "What's with this guy?"
"Keep reading," Oz suggested. "We finally got the one message back from Adam. You'll *like* that one."
Derek took the letters back, skimming the next few, until he came to the last one. He growled. "That man is dead," he swore, his accent coming back. "I want him gone."
"Adam suggested we let Philip handle it," Xander said, glaring at the papers. "I want to eat him, but Oz said it's not a good idea."
"And I got another one," Precious said as she walked in, handing it off to Nick. "I don't want to touch it," she told him, taking the time to hug her favorite person. "Hi, Grandpa."
"Hello, dear one," he said, smiling down at her. "How are you feeling?"
"Did they tell you *that* too?" she whined.
"No, it was just a general question," Derek said, giving her a brighter smile. "Did something happen?"
"Don't ask," Xander told him. Everyone looked at him. "It's taken care of," he said calmly.
Derek stared at his son for a moment then nodded. "As long as it's taken care of." He looked around the foyer. "At least the house is still standing," he said lightly.
"Yup, standing and flourishing," Oz noted. "We thought we'd give this to you now, instead of over dinner, that way you get to have a night off before you get to be mean and you don't choke on dinner."
"Of course, if you don't want him, I'll gladly go after him myself," Xander noted, smiling sweetly and innocently.
"No, I think Oz had the right idea," Nick said, grimacing at his half-brother. "Trust me, you wouldn't want to eat him, he'd taste funny." He folded the messages up and put them in his pocket. "I'll handle this," he told everyone, grabbing his suitcase. "Upstairs?"
"Yes, I could use a nap," Derek said, gratefully accepting the hugs the couple gave him. He preceded Nick up the stairs, going to get over his jet lag.
Nick waited until Derek had walked through the door. "Guys, next time, give us an hour."
"We didn't have an hour," Oz reminded him. "She's already gotten another one."
"Point, but it's more nails in his coffin."
Oz shook his head. "Nope, sorry."
"Why not?" Nick asked.
"Because security saw him cruising around the island," Xander told him. "Hence my wanting to get him first."
"Oh." Nick drew in a deep breath. "All right. I'll deal with this now. Go comfort your daughter."
"She's just disgusted," Oz told him with a shrug. "Got a plan?"
"Oh, I know some things that would make him regret doing this," Nick agreed with a wicked smile. "Let us handle this, guys. Trust me, we can more than ruin this guy." He carried his suitcase upstairs, going to nap with his lover.
Xander looked at Oz. "No fair, I wanted to be the one to torture him."
"I'm sure you'll get your chance with the thumbscrews," Oz said, trying to calm his mate down. He walked them toward the kitchen, where they were helping prepare a special dinner. They hadn't wanted to spring it on him, but this really couldn't wait. The Headmaster had tried to get in the gate just an hour earlier.
Xander raised his glass to toast his father. "To the Dads of the world, who finally got to take a real vacation."
Alex chuckled. "And I bet he'd like it to go on for at least another few days."
"No, I'm ready to come back to work," Derek said, smiling at the people around the table. "I missed you all," he smiled at Precious, "and even though I did get a problem as soon as I walked in, there's more than enough around here that I find relaxing."
Xander's grin got brighter and he stood up, coming up to hug his father. "For you," he said, pulling out an envelope.
"What's this?" Nick asked, snatching it.
Derek took it back. "He gave it to me," he scolded lightly. He opened the envelope carefully and pulled out the letter it contained, his mouth falling open. "Boys," he sighed, looking up at Xander. "When did you two plan this?"
"All the other Precepts are online," Oz told him. "You're the last one to find out." He took a sip of his wine. "Quit hovering, Xan."
"Yes, Oz," Xander said, giving Derek another hug before going back to his seat. His and Oz's hands found each other on his thigh and held each other. "We know that protocol demands that at least one Precept stay out of group activities like that. James has decided it's his duty this time."
"What is it?" Buffy asked.
"Almost all of the Precepts are going to a resort to hold meetings and destress," Oz told her. "A week of almost nothing to do and a prepaid package at the local spa to regenerate some of the boundless energy that Precepts need."
Alex looked impressed. "I like it. We used to have things like that."
"Then all the Precepts meetings became more work oriented," Nick agreed. He craned his neck to look at the form. "Just for you?" he asked, looking hurt.
"Sorry, bro, but the Precepts that set it up said that it was only for them. No spouses." Xander shrugged. "We tried to convince them that you could use the weekend too, but James laughed and said that the spouses could probably use the vacation from the Precepts just as much as the Precepts could use the vacation from work. But I'm staying. I'm on the list of those that can't go," he told Derek, who had just looked up at him.
"Him, James, and Cairo's new one. She's got too many problems to leave her house right now."
Derek folded up the paper and put it back into the envelope. "I thank you for signing me up, boys, but we might be too busy too."
"Nope," Xander told him, giving him a brighter smile. "James planned it all and demanded that you be there. He also said it gives the second-in-commands a chance to get some experience." Oz nodded his agreement. "And also, it gives the houses a chance to get to know some of the more specialized houses again. James pointed out that there has been a rift forming between the work houses and the other ones."
"We can handle whatever is thrown at us," Oz reminded Derek. "Especially with Nick and Philip being back then."
"And Alex and I will be here too," Buffy put in. She grinned. "I promise, we won't throw a party and trash the house."
Derek chuckled. "I didn't think that you would, Buffy. All right, I will go, but I will expect to have daily emails about the house."
"Hey, emails are good. Not so loud that you can't ignore them, unlike your cellphone," Xander said, grinning at Alex, who had helped them secretly. "And they can be read on the plane back."
Derek shook his head but he was smiling. "Yes, son, I can ignore emails. I do it on a daily basis." He looked at the people around the table. "Would there be any argument about my going?"
"Not a bit," Alex said quickly. "And it'll give Oz a chance to run the house."
"Hey," Nick protested. "It's my turn."
"Bro," Xander said, leaning over to pat him on the arm. "One word. Paperwork."
"Never mind, it'll be time for the yearly reports then." Nick said, grinning at Oz. "Have fun."
"Always," Oz said dryly.
"Better you than me," Buffy agreed. She frowned as a buzzer went off. "Is it my turn to play big bad security officer?" she asked Nick.
"Sure, have at it," he offered, watching as she got up and went to see what was needed. "So, tell me about this new bad guy?"
"New bad guy?" Alex asked.
"The Headmaster at the kids' former school is sending Precious obscene material and letters," Oz told her, ignoring the children's look at their sister. "He tried to get in the gate earlier today."
"I thought you said he was cruising the island," Nick said, glaring at his brother.
"Well, he was. And then he tried to get in," Xander told him. Derek frowned at him. "What? You wanted me to really ruin your day?"
"No, thanks for that," Nick said, patting him on the arm. "Relax, I've got it. I even called Philip and asked him who to talk to about this priest. I've got an appointment in the morning."
"You won't believe it," Buffy said as she stepped back into the dining room. "It's Willow's protégée with someone who needs our help."
"Since when did she take on a full-time student?" Oz asked.
"Recently," Buffy said succinctly. "The poor boy's passed out. Her student's left but she gave me a letter to give to you, Derek." She waved it in the air when he held a hand out for it. "Shouldn't someone else open it, in case she put a spell on the letter?"
"Probably," Nick said, getting up and taking the letter to open it. He handed it over, his frown making deep wrinkles in his face. "That is not good."
Derek read the letter and frowned. "Buffy, go put him in a room as soon as he wakes up." He looked up. "Alex, I want you to research this boy's background. He's got foresight."
"All right," Alex agreed, standing up and taking the rest of her dinner with her to the Control Room.
"He's passed out, boss. He had a vision on the ferry ride."
"All right. Nick, go help her." He looked at everyone else. "This boy's had a few visions about the Legacy and he's being hunted by one of us. London was supposed to be watching him, but Willow managed to get him away from them and over here." He stood up. "Children, he's about your age, a few years older, and I expect you to make him feel welcome."
"Sure," Serena said, giving him a calm smile. "Is he used to having powers?"
"Willow said yes in her letter," he said, tossing it down to Xander. "This one is *your* case."
"Good by us," Oz told him.
"His, Oz," Derek clarified. "Something he's seen is important for Xander."
"Also cool," Oz agreed. "I can fall back and play Dad for him."
"Good." Derek smiled at them. He left the dining room, heading to his office to go make a few calls. If the letter had been correct, it was time for another attempted coup in the Legacy and he suspected he knew where it was going to be coming from.
Xander looked down at five of his six children, the other wouldn't be back until tomorrow. "I'm going to go talk to him, you guys will not all bounce into him tomorrow. Got it?"
"Sure," Precious said, giving him a smile. "Alex and I are scheduled for a long talk tomorrow anyway. She said that there's something she's got to warn me about with my skills."
"Yup, us too," Oz told her. "I guess dinner's been postponed. Finish up and head home." He stood up. "I'll go get the butler and tell him that we had to break it up early. You go to work." He kissed Xander's head then walked away.
"And no picking on your father either," Xander told them as he stood up and headed out to go check on this boy.
"I wonder what's going on," Junior said artlessly.
"Something big," Serena promised him.
"Yup, and once again, we'll be left out of it," Timmy concluded, looking unhappy. He looked at his sister. "What's up with your *skills* anyway?"
"I don't know," Precious admitted. "Alex said it had something to do with my magic and my hormones." She shrugged. "I'll find out tomorrow and I'm sure the Dads will tell you if you need to know." She finished off her dinner and got up, heading to go back to her room. She didn't want to get in trouble again, she really didn't.
Xandra looked at Timmy. "Can you still get the mirrors from her visions?" He nodded. "Good, I'd like to know if she gets any about this."
Timmy shrugged. "Sure. You always were the most empathic among us." He pushed back. "I've got a date to chat." He jogged out of the house, going back to theirs.
Serena wiped her mouth and looked at her little sister. "Just because Precious is mean and stupid doesn't mean she's going to harm the pack," she counseled.
"No, but I think I know what Alex is going to talk to her about," Xandra told her. She smiled at her older sister. "Why didn't you ever want to fight me for leadership?"
"Because I like being the strength behind the power," Serena told her. "What do you know?"
"I found one of Mom's diaries too," Xandra said, leaning back in her chair. "It was her one from her senior year in high school. In it," she stopped when the butler came in. "Hi, Fred," she said cheerfully, giving her sister a meaningful look. "We're almost done too."
"Ahh, I wanna hear about that," Junior complained.
"You're much too young," Serena chastised. "I want to see that book," she noted, finishing off her water and standing up.
"All good by me, Ser," Xandra agreed. "It's under my pillow. I was rereading it last night." Serena nodded and left, going out to do exactly what her sister wanted her to do. Xandra smiled at Junior. "Always know people's strengths," she told him. "It comes in handy when you don't want to do something yourself." She smiled at the butler as she handed over her plate. "It was great, Fred, thanks." She got up and left, leaving Junior to inhale whatever food he could talk the butler into leaving.
Fred smiled down at Junior. "Also remember, young man, that not everyone has an agenda, but if they do, knowing what it is is most important so you can use it to your advantage."
Junior nodded. "I know. Strife's told me that." He held up his plate. "Can I clean up the leftovers?"
"Of course. Let me fix up a few plates for later. I'm sure Nick will need something to eat." He dished up a few plates worth of food then let Junior have the rest. "Don't be too long, your fathers will get worried."
Junior nodded, his mouth was full and he had better manners than to talk through the food.
Serena looked up as Xandra walked into the bedroom, holding up the book. "I hope you don't mind, I got engrossed and didn't make it back to my room."
"Hey, fine by me," Xandra agreed. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine. My period so far is rather light." She smiled. "Poor Precious. If she's going to get this any worse, she'll go insane."
Xandra snorted. "I used to think she already was." She flopped down into her desk chair, nodding at the book. "Find it yet?"
"The part about sexual release?" Serena asked. Xandra nodded. "Yes, I read it. I have no idea how she would ward herself from that though." She put the book aside. "Where did you find that?"
"Junior was in the third auxiliary attic and found a box of Mom's stuff. That wasn't the only diary, but it was the only one I've read so far."
"Where's the rest of the stuff?"
"In the blue wooden box in my closet," Xandra said, pointing at the door. "It's under the boots I bought with Aunt Buffy but I'm not allowed to wear."
Serena got up and went into the closet, going to search for the box. She dragged it out, sitting down on the floor to dig through it. "Her spell books," she said in surprise. "I thought Precious found the only one."
"Nope. Mom left a big box of stuff upstairs when they left the house the first time. Grandpa and Uncle Philip had it packed up for her and it ended up in the farthest attic nook Uncle Philip could find." She got comfortable, kicking off her shoes so she could put her feet up. "Strifecat led Junior right to it, Junior told me he felt something bad from the box."
"Did we ever find out what?" Serena asked.
"Yup, and it was dutifully turned over to Uncle Philip to deal with the spirit she had trapped." Serena nodded. "I wasn't going to mess with her spell books, but I did want to read the diaries."
"When did he find these?"
"Two years ago. I keep forgetting I have them," she said with a slight shrug when her sister looked at her. "Sometimes I get the urge to get into the box and look at something in it, that's what drew me to that particular diary." She shifted uncomfortably. "Do you really think that breaking her virginity will create a crater of energy?"
"It might," Serena said carefully. "I think we should talk to Alex about this."
"Or Grandpa," Xandra offered.
"No, I would be embarrassed to go to Grandpa," Serena admitted, pulling her knees up under her skirt as she stared in the box. "This was Mom's working stuff, Xandra."
"Not all of it. I remember Mom packing a bag of stuff that she was using before she left for London that final time."
"So, this is her early working stuff, back when she was riding the line between good and chaos?" Serena shuddered. "It's a good thing that you didn't give it to Precious. I have no clue what she might do with some of this." She picked up a book to look at it. "This one has some markings...." she started as she turned the cover to see it better. "Damn, she stole this one." She rubbed at the sticker glue that was still on the cover.
"Maybe not," Xandra reminded her. "Mom and the Dads made pretty good money back then."
"They still do," Serena admitted. She looked at the door, then at her sister. "Are you thinking about joining when you're old enough?"
"I'm not sure," Xandra admitted. "I think I could be happy in the Legacy, but I'm not sure what I'd do. My skills don't lend themselves well to peace." She scooted down a little in the chair. "I'm thinking about it, after I get some more specialized training."
"I'm seriously thinking about it," Serena admitted. "I can see me taking over Alex's spot as head art researcher."
"That'd be a killer job for you," Xandra agreed. "You're way art heavy right now and you've got the advantage of being able to study the art up at the main house." She looked out her window at the woods. "I'm not sure I'm ready for the responsibility that the Legacy would give me," she admitted.
"Well, you do have a few years yet," Oz said from the doorway, smiling at his daughters. "What's that?"
"Junior found it a few years back," Xandra told him. "It's some of Mom's stuff, from her earlier period, not the later."
Oz walked in and sat down next to Serena, shifting so Xandra could peer down from her new perch on the bed. He picked up the books Serena had pulled out, flipping through them. He stopped when he came to the diary. "Have either of you read this?"
"Yeah, and it's got some stuff in there that Auntie Alex really should talk to Precious about," Xandra told him. Her father looked up at her, silently asking for an explanation. "There's something in there about virgins creating energy craters, her words, when they're broken in."
"Huh," Oz said, flipping through the pages again. "I wondered why I passed out that night." He laid that one in his lap and started to look through more of the materials in the wooden box. He pulled out the other diaries in there and added them to the stack in his lap, and the special spell book he knew Willow had started in her early twenties. "I'll give the diaries back," he told them, looking over at them.
"What about the spell book? Will it go to Precious?" Xandra asked.
"I doubt it. Willow started to collect chaos-based spells back in her senior year because she wanted to be able to counter them. This one," he said, patting the spell book's cover, "was her research spell book. She started out with a chaos spell then figured out how to warp and change it, often well enough that she could send it back at the person originally casting it." He looked down at the book. "I have no idea what's in here and I'm not going to let anyone touch it until I'm sure it's safe." He picked up the small pile of books. "If you girls want, you can split up the rest of the stuff in the box, the candle holders and stuff." He smiled at them. "No one gives Precious a spell book though, okay?"
"She's already got one of Mom's," Serena admitted. "She found some of Mom's stuff in another attic up at the main house last year."
"Huh. I'd better go look through that too," Oz said, reaching over to stroke over each of their cheeks. "If you had the gifts that your mother had, I'd gladly let you both study magic. I know neither of you would be very tempted to go to the dark side." He smiled at Xandra. "Even though you inherited more of your other father's dark side."
"But if she's grandpa's," Serena started.
"She is, but Xander insists that she's more his than genetics can account for. He used to joke that the hyena left him about the same time she was born."
"So, he used to joke that I got the dark and scary parts?" Xandra asked.
"Cool!" Xandra said, grinning brightly at her sister. "It just so much explains me."
"Too true," Serena said, mirroring the smile. "So, Daddy," she said, turning her shy grin on her father. "You would approve if I said I wanted to learn from Auntie Alex and someday take over her position?"
"I wouldn't mind," he corrected. "I would never not accept what you chose to do with your life unless you decided to become a serial killer." He leaned over and kissed Serena on the forehead. "Did you need to go to town tomorrow to pick up something?"
"I borrowed some off Xandra," Serena told him.
"Okay. Just tell us when you need more." He kissed Xandra on the forehead. "You'd be surprised at what you can learn from some people around here," he told her. "Nick used to be a Navy SEAL."
"Wow. He never talks about his life before he came to the house," she said thoughtfully. "You think he'd help Adam give me special training?"
"I think it'd be good if you asked him," Oz told her. He stood up, smiling down at them. "Remember, we love you, even if you do become one of the Legacy's Guardians and end up a bully." Xandra snickered so he left them alone.
"He's right," Serena said quietly. "Adam's probably got tons of stuff he hasn't shown you yet because he thinks that the Dads will be upset. Maybe if you ask him, and explain that you're looking for training, he might talk to the Dads about it."
"Maybe," Xandra agreed, rolling onto her back. "Every other time I've asked, he's gotten really upset."
"He's still seeing the little six year old that used to follow his movements when he was practicing with his sword. You need to have an adult conversation with him. Show him that you've grown up some since then." She got up and walked over to the door. "Relax about Precious, Xandra, let the Dads handle it. That's what they're here for." She walked out, closing the door behind her.
"Good point, but I'd feel better if I could keep an eye on her," Xandra muttered to herself. "I want to know about trouble before it hits us." She huffed as she stood up and went back to her desk chair, going to start on her homework for Adam's lessons tomorrow. He was not forgiving when she slacked off.
Xander looked up as the boy on the bed groaned. "Hey," he said quietly. "Just relax and let it happen." One eye opened, showing it was golden-green in color. "I'm Xander," he said quietly. "I'm the one who's going to be working with you while you're here."
"But I'm supposed to be talking to a Rayne," the boy muttered.
"I'm Derek's all-but-adopted son," Xander said with a smile. "That's why Dad gave me your case file." He leaned forward. "Willow's student told Buffy that you have visions. Will one of them affect us?"
"Yeah," the boy said tiredly. He rubbed his eyes. "Do you have anything to drink?"
"I can get you a soda and some dinner if you'd like," Xander offered. The boy smiled at him. "I've got five nearly-teenagers," he explained. "That's the other reason I'm up here instead of Derek."
"Derek? I hear that name whispered to me." He shook his head after getting a faraway look. "Do you know a Rayne named Winston?"
"That would have been Derek's father," Xander said carefully. "Have you seen him too?"
"No, but in my visions, his name's always overlying one person's words." He shrugged. "It's nothing, I think."
"Let me be the judge of that." Xander stood up and walked over to the phone. "Hey, Fred, it's me. Could you please bring up a tray for our guest, and some soda? Yes, please." He hung up. "All we've got is diet at the moment," he said in apology, "but it's all caffeinated."
"I guess that's okay," the boy said quietly. "You really believe in all this stuff?"
"Yup. I've even seen it before," Xander told him, going back to his chair. "What's your name? She never told us that."
"My name's William," he said, looking confused. "She knew that."
"But she never told us. She knew she's not allowed in the house. Her teacher was sent away from here for working against us."
"Oh." He looked at his hands. "She said she wanted to help, that it'd help her atone for some of her earlier bads."
"Oh, it will," Xander agreed, "but Willow will never be able to walk into this house again. Not after what she did when she was here."
"She really used to work here?" William asked.
Xander nodded. "Yup. Matter of fact, all our kids are hers. Oz, my husband, and I used to be best friends with her. We also used to date her."
"Whoa, big time stress I bet," William said.
Xander grinned. "You have no idea." He got up to answer the knock at the door. "Hey, Fred, please put it beside the bed." He smiled at the boy. "William, this is Fred, the nighttime butler. He's way cool and almost always ready to help you have munchies." William smiled at that. "Thanks, Fred."
"Anytime, Master Harris." The butler left them alone.
"Eat, we've got time to talk. From what little we've been told, we've got time to figure this all out before it comes crashing down on our heads." He sat back down. "Want me to leave while you eat," he offered when the boy didn't touch the food.
"Bathroom?" he asked. "I was taught to always wash my hands first."
"Through the other door," Xander said, pointing at it. "I'll be back in a few. I'm going to go talk to Dad. You eat and if you get done before I get back, come downstairs. We'll take a walk though the garden." He got a nod and left the room, going down to make a preliminary report to his Father. He tapped on the office door, smiling at the grunt he received. "Hey, ready for a prelim?"
"Of course," Derek said, leaning back, after putting the screen on hold. "How is he doing? And does he have a name?"
"His name's William. He knew he was supposed to be talking to a Rayne. He knows your name from his visions. And Winston's." Derek's mouth opened. "He said it floats over one person in his vision's voice. Just the name though."
"I see," Derek said finally. "Did he go back to sleep?"
"No, I had Fred bring him some food. Oh, and we've *got* to break the girls of only buying diet soda."
"That's fine also," Derek said with a smile. "Was there anything else?"
"He's very polite and very confused about where Willow fits in all this. She told him she's helping him to atone for some of her past bads."
"Oh, dear," Derek sighed. "Do you think she is?" He saw his son fidgeting and one eyebrow went up. "Was there something else you needed to share with me?"
Xander took a deep breath. "What have you heard about Precious while you were gone?" he asked carefully.
"Not much. Just that there was a big personal change for her while we were gone."
"Yeah, there was that too," Xander said. "Um, how do I put this. Precious did something bad enough that I almost went furry on her." Derek's mouth opened. "Just wait before you chastise, Dad. She deserved to be beaten for what she did to Xandra with her gifts. So Oz and I decided we wanted her to start conversing with Willow to see how thin the line she's treading on is," he finished quickly.
"Oh, dear," Derek sighed. "Most witches have at least one step over the line in their early life. I'm sure it wasn't that bad, son."
"Dad, Alex said that not even an atonement and appeasement ritual would help her this time," Xander said quietly.
"What did she do?" Derek asked, sitting up and crossing his hands on the desk. "Xander?" he asked when he didn't get an answer. "Son?"
"Dad, she cursed Xandra because she thought Xandra had cursed her and started her period off early and hard," Xander said, looking out the window, unable to look at his father. He wasn't so sure now of his choice to have Willow converse with her.
"Oh no," Derek sighed. "How badly?"
"She changed Xandra's personality. We're talking one of Serena's more femme dresses and picking flowers, making bad puns, and everything," Xander said, looking at him. He saw the support in the warm eyes. "Oz made me go take a walk when I found out. I was going to go fuzzy on her and beat my own daughter."
"Son, if she had been mine, I wouldn't have hesitated to have at least spanked her," Derek said, giving him a warm and reassuring smile. Xander snorted. "The thought crossed your mind?"
"Oh, yeah. But Oz decided she had to atone for it now, before it built, and Alex said nothing would wipe this black mark away."
"There's not much that will," Derek agreed. "While this was bad, it wasn't mass murder or high- mass sacrifices."
"No, but she was willing to go that far," Xander told him, finally able to look at his father again. "She decided Xandra was responsible for her hormonal problems. Not even Adam and Jon telling her not to do it stopped her. She waited until that night and did it anyway."
"I see. So you're having Willow talk to her on the sly?"
"Yeah. And I know Willow's emailed her. She sent a copy of the letter to me too. Said it was the only time she was going to do that if she and Precious started to talk unless it was important."
"Has Precious told you about it yet?"
"Maybe in all the excitement from those other letters she forgot to mention it," Derek suggested. Xander gave him a look. "I know you don't want to think the worst of your own daughter, but if she's meant to go wrong for a bit, you'll be able to pull her back."
"Dad, she's not going to go wrong for a bit. If she's going to stray, she's going to be one of those that likes it. She likes her power trips. She liked being in the last school because she was the most popular. Everything about her says she's about to embark on the wrong side."
"And you think Willow might tempt her to the more simple side of the dark?" Derek asked. Xander nodded. "What about her possibly being a Slayer, son? How do you see that fitting into all this?"
"I think it's another way she can get a power trip," Xander told him honestly. "Can you honestly see her not liking the power she's going to be getting if she's called?"
"No, I can't," Derek admitted, "but I was hoping to be able to temper her a bit with the influence of her family."
Xander snorted. "The rest of the family nearly withdrew their protection from her after she cursed Xandra that way."
"I see." Derek leaned back again. "Are you sure she's headed down the wrong path?"
"Fairly," Xander admitted. "I can't be totally sure, but I know she's damn close to the fork in the road right now."
"Do you think she'll try to corrupt an innocent?"
"She can't do it in the family, but who knows what she's doing at school. I have no idea how many of her friends are into playing with the craft."
"And if she does, what are you prepared to do about it, son?" Derek asked gently. He saw the hard swallow and nodded. "We'll let Philip talk to her when he gets back, all right?"
"Please," Xander agreed, giving him a weak smile. "I'm glad I told you," he said quietly. "This isn't something I can lay on Oz, he's got enough worries of his own right now. Precious started Xandra's cycle off, and Serena shortly followed, and he's been more involved with the kids lately."
"Which can be a goot thing," Derek reminded him. "Son, trust me, if she goes bad, we'll deal with her as humanely as possible."
"Yeah, but how could you lock up her powers in a way that wouldn't kill her if she was called?" Xander asked.
Derek's mouth opened but he didn't have an answer for that one. He closed it and his eyes, thinking for a moment. "There are ways around that without having to lock away her powers, Xander. Never fear, the Legacy has dealt with wayward witches for many years. We have ways of monitoring their activities."
"So, you won't have to lock her up like she's insane?" he asked, sounding hopeful.
"No, son, we won't have to do anything that drastic unless she starts to go terribly wrong. If she starts making sacrifices of something that she's specifically gotten for that purpose, such as an animal or the effects of someone else, or if she starts to work on a larger basis, then we will definitely find a way to deal with her."
"Thanks, Dad," Xander said, getting up to hug him. "I knew I could trust you." He calmed himself down. "I was thinking about taking William for a walk in the garden and talking to him out there. The house probably scares him greatly."
"If that's how you want to talk to him, that's fine with me," Derek said, giving him a pat on the back before letting him go. "Don't worry so much, son, there are many worse things that could be happening." He waited until the door shut before turning on the monitor again. "Sorry about that, James, we've just gotten a new case and Xander wanted to give me a briefing. How are things in your house?"
William looked around the dark garden, then up at his guide. "Why did she send me here? I don't believe in this stuff. It's just funny daydreams that give me headaches."
"Ah, denial," Xander said in fond remembrance. "I remember that state very well." He stopped the boy so he could look at him. "Listen, I used to feel the same way until one of my kids started having visions, just like you do. They're not daydreams, and the fact that they give you headaches proves it." William opened his mouth. "No, don't argue, trust me for now. You've never had one come true, have you?"
"No," William said, stepping back. "Why would I?"
"Who was it?" Xander asked him calmly. The boy glared at him. "I was a pysch major, kid, there's not much you can get past me that way. And if I don't catch it, everyone else will."
"Then tell me why it suddenly started to happen again!" he demanded, getting angry. "I took medicine to get these things to go away and now they're back, even through the medication! And it's killing..." He gasped and fell to his knees, starting to cry. "It's killing people."
"Shh," Xander said, kneeling next to him. "Nothing about your visions killed them, William. All you did was see it happening."
"But I warned them," he sobbed.
"Hey, it was *their* decision to not heed the warning," he said, pulling the boy into his arms for a hug. "I promise, just because you saw it didn't make it happen." William nodded so he pushed the boy back some so he could look at him. "Your visions are an early-warning system, a way of telling you what *might* happen if something isn't done to fix it." The boy blinked at him, but shook his head. "I promise, you get them before it happens so you can try to prevent it. Did you tell your parents?" The boy nodded. "Did you tell them that you knew something bad was going to happen?" He nodded again. "Then you did all you could and they should have listened to you. Parents are human, just like you are," he said, giving him a smile. "They get to be afraid of what they don't know and understand too. Yes, they should have listened but they didn't. That wasn't your fault. If you told them about it then that's all you could have done."
"But the people in the home said...."
"They who don't understand and are afraid of gifts like this are often very hard on those that have them."
"This is a gift?" William snorted, sitting down after getting free. "I'd say it's a curse."
"It's both, mostly because people won't believe you when you see things, but it is a gift. You have the ability to try and change the future so the bad things that you see don't happen."
"Do you believe in visions and stuff?"
"One of my daughters has them and two of my sons can see them with her," Xander said calmly. "I've learned to listen to them when they say something's going to happen."
"Oh. Do you... do you believe in other bad stuff, like demons?"
"Oh, yeah." Xander shifted so he was sitting too, getting comfortable for this discussion. "Do you know what a Slayer is?"
"Um, I met one, I think," he admitted. "Willow introduced us. Her name was Flame, I think."
"Yup, we know Flame. She trains here when she's well."
"A building fell on her," Xander said with a one-sided shrug. "It happens. Those who are chosen to be special never have an easy life."
"Oh. Is that why I spent so much time in the hospital?"
"Yup." He gave him a dry smile. "Trust me, the normals do not understand and they do not like it when this stuff happens. If it doesn't fit in their categorized little compartments, it's obviously unreal and in need of medication."
William nodded. "I have some of that in my bag," he admitted. "It's not working anymore. I went for almost a year without having any of the day...visions."
"Ah, but you don't need those. At least not to stop them all together. We can train you to harness that gift and to use it."
"Is this like a cult?" William blurted out.
Xander snickered. "Not quite. It is an organization, and in this house a family, but there's no religion involved unless you want to start attending church with Philip."
"What denomination is he?"
"Oh." William looked around the garden. "No brainwashing?"
"Only mild hypnosis if you're blocked and need some help, and we'll explain it to you and make sure you know what was done. Alex and Philip both know how to do that and Alex learned very quickly when she hypnotized me once that she had to let us know what she had done."
"Why? What happened?"
"I had been possessed a few times and she let out the taint of one of the spirits," he said honestly. "It was an animal spirit so I went primal. Had to be locked in a cage and everything for a while. My husband Oz helped fix me. So did Willow."
"She really used to be here?"
"Yup. She really used to live and work here."
"What do I have to do?" he asked.
"Go to school. Learn how to harness your gift. Be a normal boy otherwise. Don't pick on the daughters, they're tougher than they look." He grinned at the shocked look. "I told you we weren't a cult. There's no gardening, no cleaning except of your room, and no other menial chores associated with our help. We do this just to be of help."
"Oh." He looked down at his feet. "That's okay, I guess."
"Good. Now lets get you back up to your room so you can get some real sleep. You can meet the teacher tomorrow."
"You have your own?"
"Yup, all our kids were home schooled until they were ten. We didn't want to inflict a set of quads on an unsuspecting school system. Besides, they're in the middle of switching schools. So for the next month, they'll be taking classes here again and then they'll be going to a private school."
"Do you guys fund that too?"
"No." Xander stood up and pulled the boy up with him. "Come on, back into the house you go before the fog comes up and swallows you. You can come wander around out here tomorrow when you can see the flowers and ogle my daughters." He led the boy back into the house and up to his room, showing him the easiest way to get up there. Then he went home to face down his family, who probably had a lot of questions.
Upstairs, William unhooked his wire and put his tape recorder away.
Precious looked around her room, smiling when she saw the email she had printed out earlier. Her fathers had a policy of letting them have an hour back for good behavior while grounded, maybe they'd let her go to that. She chose her clothes carefully, not wanting to seem too fresh or too eager. Eagerness was something that got you denied. She chose her most demure outfit, a pair of cotton workout pants and a cropped t-shirt, then went to find her fathers, taking the letter with her. "Daddy?" she called from the kitchen.
Oz walked out of the laundry area, giving her an expectant look. "Aren't you supposed to be staying in your room except for meals?"
"Yes, but I wanted to know if I had earned back enough time to go to this," she said innocently, handing over the paper. "It is a cultural event, and it'd be a good thing for me to connect with the local Wiccan community."
"It might be, but you're not going this time," Oz said, putting the paper down. "With the stunt you pulled, there's no way you're earning back that many hours." He pulled her over to the table and sat her down, sitting across from her. "Listen, your father and I are both very wary of letting you continue your magical education with what you've recently done," he told her calmly. "I'd like to believe that you won't do it again, but I'm not that trusting."
"But, dad," she protested.
He held up a hand. "Hear me out, Precious. There is no way that you're going tomorrow night. Your father and I are both having trouble wrapping our minds around your skills."
"You're scared of me?" she asked quietly.
"No, I'm scared *for* you, Precious. For all that you can do, you don't have a means of controlling yourself yet. You're only thirteen and you don't have a lot of self-control yet. It comes with the age mostly, but from what I've seen of your attitude, you're not growing any anytime soon."
"But, Dad," she protested.
"Stop," Xander said as he walked in. "This is for all of us to discuss." He looked at the paper on the table and shook his head. "Not a chance," he told his daughter as he sat down. "Not this year anyway." He looked at Oz. "Precious, both of us feel that you're following the wrong side of the
street at the moment. We're very wary of what you'll become when you get called." She opened her mouth. "No, you will listen this time. Your powers are great, they're very powerful, and you've misused them over eight times in the last six months." He glanced at Oz again. "I, personally, have been thinking about having some of them put back into storage again until you pass completely through puberty because your hormones are about to overtake your life and your mind. This is the most dangerous time in your life with your skills, and if you don't watch out, you're going to end up being a lot more like your mother and Faith than you are Alex and Buffy."
"You don't trust me?"
"Should we?" Oz countered.
"After what you've done?"
"Daddies, I haven't done that much. I admit to cursing Xandra."
"Yup," Xander said dryly, "and you hurt the bunny in the garden by changing it's fur color and getting it caught."
"I was six then," she protested.
"I was talking about the one last month," Xander told her.
"There's some other witch on the island?" Oz asked her.
"Like I would know," Precious said with a shrug. "All I know is that I didn't do it."
"Well, someone turned it from pale brown to white," Xander told her. "It was one of the tagged ones and Buffy found it with Junior."
"He could have done it," she said quickly.
"Yes, he could have," Oz agreed, "he does still have some taint from when he was possessed. He doesn't have the desire to hurt things though."
"And he doesn't have magic either," Xander pointed out. "Even a taint wouldn't let him call on the demon's power to do that unless he was working in concert with the demon."
"He's scary," Precious noted.
"He's nine," Oz countered. "All boys are like him at his age." He took Xander's hand. "Precious, we're going to think about all of this tonight and then we will talk again tomorrow."
"What we decide will be binding," Xander added. "For at least a year."
"And if we decide to have your magic locked away again, then it will happen, whether or not you like it," Oz finished. She opened her mouth. "No, it will be so. There's much more at stake here than you realize, Precious, and we are trying to protect you."
"By taking away what's rightfully mine?" she snorted, standing up. "No way. I'll fight whomever tries."
"Hey, so be it," Oz agreed. "We expected that. Same as we expect any day now to get someone coming after you for your skills."
"It's not like it's something you need to use daily," Xander offered. "The year will give you time to work on your other skills and your training."
"You've already decided," she accused.
"No, but we have been thinking about it," Xander admitted. "Even before you pulled your stunt the other day. That just cemented the need to make a decision."
"It sounds like you've already made a decision," she said sullenly.
"No," Xander told her, sighing as he shifted in the hard chair, "I'm the one holding back the decision." She looked shocked. Usually it was Oz that stuck up for her. "If you're called in that year, it could be disastrous for you to be locked up that way. Also, we're not sure that it's the best of all ideas at the moment, what with your hormones starting to take over your body. It could cause some side effects we aren't aware of which could also be harmful to you."
She slumped a little. "Were you going to tell me or was I going to wake up during the containment ceremony?"
"No, we were going to tell you and explain our reasons to you," Oz told her, pulling her in for a hug. "We would never do anything to hurt you without telling you about it first," he reminded her quietly. "Now go to your room and think about this." He let her go, watching as she walked down the hall. "How did it go?"
"He got put in the hospital because of his visions," Xander sighed. "His parents died because they didn't listen."
"Crap," Oz muttered.
"Basically." He looked over at where his husband was plucking at his pants. "Problems?"
"She's still bleeding," Oz noted, getting up to go throw those jeans in the wash too. Hopefully, the doctor would put her on medicine and stop this heavy bleeding.
Xander smiled at his husband's back, then got up to get a snack. He was shaky all of a sudden.
Xander groaned as he woke up. The shakiness hadn't gone away. "Oz, I don't feel good," he whispered.
"Up," Oz ordered, helping him sit up. "Nauseous, dizzy, or otherwise?"
"Shaky and dizzy but not the flu." Xander looked down at his hands, which were visibly moving. "I think something's really wrong."
"Let's try something," Oz suggested, getting up and putting on a robe. "Stay there," he ordered, heading down to the kitchen. He grabbed a snickers bar out of the freezer and brought it up to his husband. "Here, eat this," he ordered.
"I'm not hungry yet," Xander complained but he opened the wrapper. "You know I'm going to need a nap later."
"Yup, and I know why," Oz told him, sitting on the edge of the bed to watch his husband eat the sugar. He waited until Xander was done. "A long time ago, you told me you were going to be diabetic someday," he said quietly. Xander stopped moving and looked at him. "I know you've been doing very well with your diet but it may be time to go in and talk to the doctor and get an update on when this might go further." He saw the worried lip-biting. "Hey, I'm not saying that it's happening now, but it is time to get an update and see if it's related. I don't want to lose you," he whispered, stealing a kiss. "Just a checkup to see if it's related?"
"Sure," Xander agreed reluctantly. "We'll call Marcus today."
"Thank you," Oz agreed. He stole another kiss. "Is the shaking gone?"
"Yeah," Xander said, giving him a smile. "What if...."
"Then we deal," Oz said, cutting him off. "Same as we have with everything else. But remember, it could be that you just need to do a little better diet management," Oz said, standing up. He pulled Xander up into his arms and nestled into the firm arms. "I like doing this," he said as they started to sway.
The phone rang.
"Screw 'em," Oz whispered when Xander reached for it.
"It might be dad," Xander reminded him. He answered it with a surly 'Yeah'. His shoulders slumped. "Really? Did you get the tape? Okay. No, give me an hour or so," he said, giving Oz a smile. "Sure. Oh, and have Dad set us up an appointment with Marcus, it's time for my yearly physical and he always feels better when he can bully Marcus into telling him how I'm doing." He smiled and hung up. "That was Nick," he said, going back to his slow dancing with his mate. "William, the boy, was wearing a wire. Alex went in to make sure he was up and found him taping it down."
"Did Willow send him to bust us?"
"No, he has visions. I'm sure he does. Doesn't mean that he won't try to bust us himself though. He asked me last night if we were a cult." He kissed the tip of Oz's nose. "Shower with me before I have to go up there?"
"Sure," Oz agreed, dancing Xander into the bathroom.
Xander slid into his usual seat at the table in the kitchen, smiling at the young man eating. "So, who were you getting information for?"
"No one," William said, nearly pouting. "I was getting information for a paper." Xander gave him his best 'dad' look. "Really, I wasn't going to sell the information."
"Uh-huh. You know, William, this works better when you're honest with us. Willow wouldn't have sent you to us to bust us with publicity." He picked up a muffin from the plate the butler was holding. "Thanks, man," he said, shooting him a smile. "So, anything else you wanted to tell us?"
"No," he said, continuing to eat. "I'm still not sure why Willow sent me here." He took another bite of breakfast.
"Easy, she knew that you needed our help," Xander said as he tore into his muffin. "Great as usual," he said after his first bite. "Milk?"
"Of course, sir," the butler said, bringing him over a glass. "Master William, would you like anything else? Some more eggs perhaps?"
"No thanks," he said, giving the guy a smile. "You're a great cook."
"I'd better be," the older man joked, "no one in this house can cook, especially not Mr. Boyle. He makes the most horrid food combinations and ruins my good omelet pans." He smiled at Xander. "Anything else for you? I'm making up the weekly grocery list."
"Um," Xander hummed as he swallowed his milk. "Call Oz, he's got the list this time."
"Me?" Oz asked as he walked in, waving the list. "Here's ours," he said, handing over the list and some money. "Thanks, man." He sat down between the two men at the table. "Hi, I'm Oz," he said, shaking the boy's hand. "Whenever you're ready, I'll take you down to the school today." He looked at Xander. "You're talking to dad today?"
"I talked to him last night," Xander admitted.
Oz nodded. "I figured." He shrugged. "It happens. We'll deal with her too." He looked over his shoulder when he heard a cleared throat. "Hey, Derek. I was just telling William that whenever you're done with him, I was going to take him down to the classroom."
"That would be fine, Oz," Derek said, giving him a fond smile. He walked over and handed Xander a slip of paper. "Here you go, son, your annual appointment, which Marcus' nurse said you weren't due for another five months?" He intentionally made it a question, wanting an answer.
"You remember how his blood sugar may be causing a problem in a few decades?" Oz asked. Derek nodded, his happy expression fading away. "Well, it's time to check on that again. He's moving a little further up the scale. He woke up with sugar shakes this morning."
"Ah. A very good reason. I'll expect to be told if there's anything that will need to be changed."
"It's probably dietary," Xander told him. "There's still a lot of sugar in my diet."
"Soda," Oz agreed, nodding when Xander groaned. "You too can drink diet."
"But it tastes bad," Xander complained.
"You'll get used to it," Oz said dryly. He looked at Derek again. "So, testing?" The Precept nodded. "Want me to run the machines for him?"
"If you'd like, you can help him write out his dream journal," Derek said, patting him on the shoulder. "I'll be leaving this afternoon if you wanted to come to the old school with me."
"No," Oz sighed. "If we do, we'll end up killing the guy."
"We're letting you threaten him so we don't do something drastic that takes us away from you," Xander agreed, giving his father a smile. "Thanks by the way. You play the muscle guy very well when we need you to."
Derek leaned down and gave Xander a hug. "I'm always happy to help you pressure someone into therapy, son. I've also taken the liberty of contacting someone I know in a certain department in town about the letters. He was most anxious to come with me this afternoon."
"Cool," Oz said, nodding. "The law can handle this if they want." He looked at William. "I'll come get you after you finish breakfast," he said as he stood up and headed out of the kitchen, Derek right behind him.
"Don't worry, the tests are easy measurement things," Xander assured him as he got up to get himself some more milk. "Need some?" he asked.
"No thank you," William said politely. He scraped his plate clean and looked down the hallway. "Where do I go?"
"Down the hall and to the right," Xander said, pointing at the hallway. "Get to the small hallway and call Oz's name. He'll come out and find you." He watched as the young man left, then went back to his breakfast, staring down at the slip of paper with his appointment day and time.
Xander looked over the psi test results, frowning. "He doesn't have a bit outside of his visions," he announced to the room at large, who was Alex because she was still tracing his background.
"Are you sure he's got visions?" Alex asked.
"Yup, I read Willow's letter. He has them. Had one in front of her." Xander leaned back in his chair, checking his watch. "Damn, I've got to go. Here," he said, gathering up the test results and handing them over. "Have at them if you want." He ran out of the Control Room, going for the front of the house and the car that Oz undoubtedly had waiting. He ran into his mate in the foyer. "Hey, sorry, I was looking over the test results," he said, stealing a kiss as they walked out to Oz's BMW convertible together. He let Oz drive, it was his car after all, and snuggled down into his seat, trying very hard not to think about the upcoming doctor's appointment.
"You're going to be okay," Oz promised as they pulled through the gates with a wave to the guard. "Everything's going to be fine. You've got to believe that or you'll go insane."
"Point," Xander agreed lightly. He laid his head on Oz's shoulder, getting one last cuddle in before they had to leave the island and enter the real world, where a lot of people didn't like them. Being gay was not easy sometimes. As they pulled up to the ferry docks, he grabbed Oz's free hand and held it while they waited.
Precious looked up as the gate alarm went off. Her room had a funny smell in it, and since her father had agreed with her she was doing her homework on the kitchen table. She closed her book and stood up, going to find anyone else in the house. Xandra was at her practice with Adam but Brandon and Timmy should be here. "Guys?" she called as she walked into the common area between their rooms. "The gate alarm went off."
Brandon's door opened and he and Timmy walked out together. "It did?" Timmy asked.
"Yeah. It went off in the kitchen."
"Okay, you stay in the house," Brandon said.
"I do know how to fight," she called after them.
"Yeah, which is why you're staying up here," Timmy called from the hallway. The boys ran out together. Their Uncle Nick had made sure they knew how to use every weapon on the property, just in case, and if something happened they knew it was their job to protect their house. Even though the fathers had said it wasn't. They ran into the house through the kitchen, both looking around for the butler. "Crap," Timmy muttered, going to search the walk-in pantry and freezer. "Nowhere," he told his brother.
Brandon nodded and nodded at the hallway. They were both fixed werewolves and it was time to put the hunting instinct to work. They walked down the hallway together, checking each of the rooms they came to. Brandon slipped into the Control Room, he was the only one of the kids with access, accidently given by Philip. "Grandpa?" he asked, breaking Derek's concentration. "Xandra said the gate alarm went off in our house."
"I know," he said grimly. "I don't know why." He looked at the boy. "That's Timmy?"
"Yup. Want him to run down there?"
"Please. I can't raise the guards at the gate. The fence yes, but not the gate. I've moved others to go the gate but it's going to be a few minutes before they get there. Then you both go home."
"Yes, Grandpa," Brandon said, walking back out of the Control Room. "Head to the gate and check the people there."
Timmy nodded, going to grab the first aid kit just in case. He had his CPR card, it had been an elective to get out of gym class.
Brandon went back to the house, slowing down when he saw Precious standing out on the porch shivering.
Precious went to check the security system for the house, frowning at the man she could see coming up the lawn. "Fuck me," she muttered, going out to stop whomever it was. The person certainly wasn't any member of the Legacy *she* knew of. "What do you want?" she called from the front door.
"I'm here to see you, dear," he said, giving her a condescending smile. "You were withdrawn from my care."
"You're psycho," she noted, backing up toward the safety of the house. "Get off our land!"
"But, my dear," he said, taking a step towards her, "you need to be in my care or you'll be fallen for eternity. I can help you repent."
"Bet me," she said snidely. She realized she wasn't going to make it into the house but she did have skills to protect herself with. "Leave or I'm gonna hurt you," she warned, holding her ground as he walked closer. Just one more step and he would be *very* sorry.
"Come, dear, let me help you," he said, reaching out to touch her.
She sent her strongest bolt ever of pure psycho-kinetic energy at him, knocking him out. "Like I said," she panted, already paying for it, "bet me." She wrapped her arms around herself when she saw he wasn't moving. "Get up!" she screamed, sending another bolt at him, at his chest most specifically. She could see a small furry form out of the corner of her eye but didn't pay any attention to it until the man on the ground gasped as he regained consciousness. "Get off our land!" she ordered, her voice as firm as she could make it. "You are not welcome here!" When he didn't move, she shoved him backwards. Her head was now throbbing but it could be worse, he could have wanted to touch her again.
"Precious!" Xandra yelled, breaking into a run as she came around the side of the house.
"Sis?" Brandon called, coming across the bridge from the house.
They both got to her as Precious had to sit down because her legs gave out. She looked up at them. "He tried to touch me," she whined, her voice a mere whisper now. "He's sick. Wants to help me repent."
"Well, what have we here?" Adam asked as he looked at the man. "What an idiot you are," he noted, walking closer, his sword in his hand. "What's your name?" he questioned.
"I'm here for the girl, she has to repent!" he said, getting up and glaring at the teacher. "You have no sway here, demon."
"On the contrary," Xandra said, letting Brandon help their sister so she could turn and look at the stranger. "You have no sway here." She stalked up to stand in front of him, glaring up at him with her best impersonation of Xander's icy stare. "You should not be here. My sister is none of your business."
"Leave him alone," Adam warned her. "He's not your concern, Precious is."
"Such a lovely name," the stranger said.
Xandra growled and her eyes started to turn gold. "Leave, before you pay the price for touching my sister."
"Xandra," Brandon said sharply. "Let Adam handle it. You know the chain of command."
She looked over her shoulder, and that's when he grabbed her. She struggled then went limp and as soon as he relaxed his grip she flipped just like her teacher had taught him. "Bastard," she muttered, spitting on him. "Leave our lands before you die," she warned him.
"No," Adam said, pushing her behind him. "Go help Brandon, Xandra," he ordered, his voice holding the unmistakable tone that she had better listen to. She nodded and walked away, sure he could handle it now. And if not, she had seen some of the security guards running this way around the main house.
"Coming here is the same as challenging me," Methos told the man, moving his sword back into a more prominent position. "It's your decision. Get up now and never come back or die."
The stranger got up. "This isn't over. I am her only chance at redemption." He walked away, allowing himself to be grabbed by the security people and led away.
Adam took a deep breath to calm down and looked at the children. "Xandra, you are not old enough to take on people like him yet. Never do it again until I give you permission," he told her. She glared at him but the look in his eyes made her hang her head and nod. "Thank you. Maybe in a few years," he told her, giving her a hug. "We'll work on that soon enough." He looked down at Precious. "Is she breathing?" he asked.
"She's in backlash," Brandon told him. "We need Grandpa," he told the older man. "And we need someone who can ease her back with their gifts."
"Where's Timmy?" Xandra asked.
"Oh." She looked around. "Serena could if she were here."
"I can," Junior said from inside the house. Everyone looked at him. "What? I can feel feelings. I can help her if Grandpa wants to help me do it."
"Yes, maybe we should. Brandon, get your grandfather."
"He's in the Control Room," Brandon told Junior. "Call and make sure he saw. The cameras aren't pointed this way." Junior disappeared into the house. "Her bed?" he asked his sister.
"Yeah, or the dads, whichever one will keep her more calm."
"Let's get her up to your father's room, they've got the better bathing facility if we need it," Adam suggested, putting up his sword so he could help pick up the young girl and carry her upstairs.
Oz opened his phone. "Yeah, Dad?" he asked. He groaned. "All right. Yeah, we're here right now. Want him there?" He grunted and hung up. "Marcus, we need you at the house as soon as you can get free."
The doctor looked over at him. "Why?"
"Precious just had a power explosion." He looked at Xander. "Some strange old man. Security tossed him out after Precious protected herself."
"We're linking our house's security setup to the main house's," Xander noted. He slid off the table. "Coming?"
"I've got another patient," Marcus told them. "I'll be out within an hour. I'm sure Adam can hold on for that long," he sad with a faint smile. He knew that other immortal very well, they'd shared a few pints since they had met. "I'll bring out the results of everything tonight?" Xander nodded, pulling back on his shirt. "Good. Go check on your kids."
"Definitely," Oz agreed, patting the doctor as they walked past him. "How do we link them?" he asked as they walked out to their car.
"Easy. Nick's figured out how to do it, he was going to ask you tomorrow." Xander slid into the passenger's seat, letting Oz have control over his car again. "Do we need to stop and pick up anything?"
"Maybe some juice," Oz noted as he started the car. He pulled out of the parking lot, heading for the nearest convenience store.
They went inside together, Xander needing something to occupy his mouth on the way home so he didn't chew a hole through his lip in his worry. While they stood in front of the juice case, outside a car blew up.
Oz groaned, "Was that mine?"
Xander peered up over the racks of chips. "Yup."
"Damn," Oz sighed. He pulled out his phone and dialed home. "We're fine," he said once it was answered.
Derek bent over Precious, checking her eyes for reaction to the light and using his own gift to sense her mind. "She definitely had a power surge?" he asked Junior, who was helping him as part of his training.
"Yeah, I was watching from inside the TV room. She whammied him pretty good with the first bolt, when she let him touch her, and then she kicked one into his chest when it looked like he might have died, then she pushed him back. She was shakin' pretty bad." He sat on the foot of the bed, touching her bare foot. "She feels funny."
"Most magic users do," Derek agreed.
"No, I meant funnier than usual," he noted. "More like an echo now."
Derek's face wrinkled as he tried to interpret that remark. "Deeper?" he suggested.
"No, more like a mirror image but with depth and resonance."
"Oh." Derek nodded. "Now I understand. It's entirely possible that she's burnt her powers out for now." He looked at the door as it slammed open. "She's fine so far, boys," he said, relinquishing his position before the boys could push him out of the way. "She did an admirable job of defending herself."
"Was it him?" Oz asked as he pulled his daughter up for a hug.
"Yes, it was," Derek said calmly. "I've called the officer I talked to in the Sex Crimes unit and he's gone to arrest him for coming here. We do have legal recourse against him."
"Thanks," Xander said, giving him a hug then going back to helping Oz hug their daughter. "She's really fine?"
"She's got an echoy mind," Junior told them. Xander looked at him. "Like a reflection, only with a resonance and some depth."
"Oh. Okay." Xander nodded. "Is that good or bad?"
"Unusual," Derek told him, patting Junior on the head. "He's done very good so far. She woke up briefly then passed back out after taking a few sips of water." He looked around the room. "I like what you've done with this," he told Oz.
"Thanks." Oz let go a little bit when he heard the groan. "Come on, Precious," he whispered.
"Come on, daughter," Xander seconded. "We want to see you open your eyes." He held her a little tighter, pulling her into his lap and leaving Oz only able to touch her hand. "Come on, Precious, it's time to wake up now. You're starting to scare us."
"Yes, speaking of scary," Derek said, frowning at Oz. "What was it that Nick was talking about? Your car blew up?"
"Way to go, dad," Junior said, nodding in appreciation.
"Wasn't planned," Oz said, giving Derek a shrug. "The cops came and hauled it off after they got the fire put out." He looked over at his daughter as she blinked a few times, groaning. "I know your head hurts," he said quietly, "but please wake up and look at us so we know you're all right."
"Daddy?" Precious whispered, opening her eyes to look at him. She looked up at her other father, grimacing at him. "You don't like me like this."
"I love you because you're our daughter," Xander corrected. "You've preferred Oz since the day you were born though." He kissed her on the forehead. "How's the hurt?"
"Doesn't, not like it had been," she admitted, struggling to sit up. "Dad?"
"Let her up, you can hold her in a few moments, Xander," Derek advised. He helped his granddaughter to sit up on her own. "No headache?"
"Not really," she said, looking up at him. "Am I supposed to have one?"
"If you had truly had a breakthrough, then yes you probably should," he said, giving her a reassuring smile. "I'm sure you'll be back to normal with a little rest." He caught Junior's head shake. "No?"
"No, her mind still feels different."
"I'm sure it's just a minor case of burn out," Oz told him, pulling him up to give him a hug too. "Did you help?"
"Yes, he did," Derek said, giving the young one a fond smile. "He steadied and monitored Precious' mind."
"Can you retest her?" Xander asked. "Just to see if this has broadened her abilities?"
"Of course," Derek agreed. "We'll do it within the next few days." He looked at the bedroom door. "Where's Marcus?"
"He still had a patient to see," Oz told him. "He'll be out tonight to check her over and to finish Xan's exam."
"I'm sure he'll find everything's fine," he said. He checked his watch. "Would you like to come up to the house for dinner?"
"Sure," Xander said, looking at Oz.
Oz shrugged. "I'm all for not cooking tonight. You might want to check with the kids though, they might want to eat here."
"I'll check on my way out," Derek said, giving them each one last touch before leaving.
"That was strange," Junior said. Oz looked at him so he clarified. "The way Grandpa kept touching you guys."
"That's because the car blew up and he wanted to make sure we were all right," Oz told him, giving him a squeeze. "Go down and feed your cat. We'll be down in a few."
"And clean the litter box," Xander called as their son ran out of the room. He looked down at their daughter. "Do you feel different?"
"Not really," she said, wrinkling her nose. "Just like I did earlier, only..."
"Only?" Oz asked.
"Maybe I'm a bit more receptive or something. I can *feel* things from the bed." She grimaced. "Eww." She climbed off the bed and glared at her fathers. "Aren't you two too old for that stuff? That's way gross."
"Okay, so apparently you've grown new depths of power," Oz said, looking at his mate, who nodded. "And no, dear, men are *never* too old for that. There's been men who have sired children in their nineties. We're only in our thirties. Deal with the fact that we do have a physical part of our relationship."
She shuddered and shook her head as she walked out. "I'm going to hose off the sweat, I'll be at dinner soon."
"Okay," Xander called after her. He looked at Oz, who was trying to look emotionless. It might have worked if they hadn't been married for nearly seven years. "What?"
"I'm worried Junior was right," Oz said, looking up at his mate.
"That's why I asked to have her reevaluated." Xander scooted closer to his husband, cuddling with him. "It'll be all right, I promise. Even if she's suddenly become lots more powerful, we'll deal with that too. We dealt with her magic abilities coming out at the age of two. We dealt with her being locked up and having to have her blocks blown off when she was eight. We even dealt with her first crush. We can deal with this too." Oz relaxed into his arms. "See, it's manageable. It's not like she's becoming a God or something."
"Good point," Oz agreed reluctantly. "Did you read any of those diaries yet?" Xander nodded. "And?"
"And I think we've got a lot more to think about than just having her powers locked up again for a year," Xander admitted. He looked at the window. "If what Willow wrote is true, then we need to find someone to talk to us about what might happen."
"Alex didn't have anything like a 'magic crater' happen, or at least not that anyone's said."
"She was only a psi until she came to the Legacy."
"Does this mean you want to go find another witch and ask them?" Oz asked, looking up.
"Yeah, I think we should," Xander agreed. "Precious' namesake may have moved away, but we know there's a large Wiccan community in the area."
"Hey, there's that meeting tonight," Oz said, checking his watch. "We can just about make it to the beginning."
"Let's go," Xander agreed, getting up and grabbing Oz to drag him off the bed. "Let's hope these are the real Wiccans."
"If it's the wanna bes , there's probably going to be at least one watching," Oz rationalized. "We'll bring Brandon if you think it'll help."
"Yeah, lets," Xander agreed. As he walked out the door, he started to jog up to the house. "Get my car," he called.
"Yup," Oz called back, going back into their house for the other set of keys.
Philip and Brandon got out of the car and headed right for a woman who was watching the circle being cast. They sat down on either side of her while Oz and Xander were walking over.
"Are you a wise one?" Brandon asked. He had always been able to tell if someone used magic, just like his father Xander could.
She looked at both sides of them and smiled at the two walking up behind her. "You resemble your father," she said in greeting. She smiled at Xander. "I've seen your picture. A young witch once asked me to watch over you and her children should something happen to her."
"We split up," Xander said as he sat down. "Many years ago now."
Oz grunted as he sat down too. "Sorry, feeling old."
She laughed and pushed some of her dark hair behind her ear. "I understand that fully. My knees are not happy with how damp it is tonight." She turned to look at the small group. "Why did you come tonight? None of you worship our way."
"No, but we have a unique problem," Philip told her, giving her his best 'little boy' smile. "We've got a young girl."
"My sister," Brandon said. "We're a quad."
"Who's deeply into the craft and is quite powerful," Oz finished.
"And has other powers besides," Xander added. "And she's just hit puberty."
"Ah," she said, nodding. "I understand now. You need a woman's touch?"
"No, we need a witch's touch," Oz corrected. "Her mother, the one who asked you to look out for the kids and us, left us some diaries that have some problems listed that Precious, our daughter, will be going through soon."
"That's true," she agreed. "All witches, if they have their powers when they reach this stage, go through a few problems."
"Willow's diaries mention things like her powers becoming uncontrollable," Oz noted. She nodded. "And something about her powers having sudden surges." She nodded again. "It also mentioned a problem with her burgeoning sexuality."
"Willow's words were something to the effect of a magic crater?" Xander asked.
"Ah, then she would be powerful," she noted.
Xander and Oz both nodded but it was Brandon who answered her. "Today, she beat up a guy who was trying to get to her. She may have had some sort of break through in her powers. Our youngest brother said her mind seemed different."
"We also have another problem," Philip told her. "She's been riding the thin line. Her mother became a chaos witch."
"Oh well," the witch said. "We all have to make that decision."
"She's not quite thirteen yet," Brandon told her. "She's not equipped to make that decision."
"We're not asking for you to change her decision when she makes one, we're asking about how to deal with the problems that are going to crop up in the next few years."
"So, you only seek information, not help?"
"No, we seek both," Brandon said, reaching over to touch her. "Test me, know what I know if your powers run that way," he offered.
She smiled and patted him on the face. "They don't. I don't know of any real telepaths."
"We do," Oz told her. "We know of three girls who are, all under sixteen right now. Our group's training them."
"Then you do work with that group on the island?" she asked Philip.
Philip nodded. "I'm the unacknowledged mate of the one who runs it."
"I'm his all-but-adopted son and this is my mate," Xander told her. "This is our son, and we *really* could use some information about what to do with our daughter." He gave her his best helpless look.
She burst out laughing. "I will tell you what I can. Please, don't give me that look anymore." Xander gave her a grin. "Thank you." She touched his hand. "Think of your daughter."
Xander thought as hard as he could about Precious, her age, her recent acts. Her upcoming problems.
"Ah. She's already on the path to being in the middle," she said finally, letting his hand go. "There is much you need to know. If all parents were as concerned and bright as you are, we'd see less accidents among our young." She looked at Philip, then at Brandon. "I think I know who to take him to, Chosen. There is a new teacher at the Asian Center, a Taoist I believe. I think he would be an appropriate first step to teach your student the ways of the world."
Philip bowed his head to her. "Thank you. I hadn't heard of him. I'll call on him tomorrow."
"Uncle Philip took me to meet a few of the more odd members of his family," Brandon told her. "He wanted me to see just how diverse the world of faith could be."
"Did you agree with any of their ways?" she asked him.
"Not quite. I found something that drew me to each, but I also found a lot that bothered me. I came closest with the faith of one of his aunt's but it's a woman's only faith. I'm not ready to give up being a guy to go there," he said with good humor.
Philip chuckled. "Anessa did say that you woulda been perfect if you'd been a girl."
The witch smiled. "I'm sure. There's many mysteries that are only shown to women. There's a few that are only given to men though." She patted him on the side of the face again. "You've done a good job so far, Brandon. Don't worry so much, you'll find your way soon enough and it will fit you." She smiled at Oz. "Bring me your daughter tomorrow at my store."
"What store?" Xander asked.
She burst out laughing. "You approached me and didn't even know who I was?"
"Some weres can smell magic and what type," Xander said with a faint shrug. She stopped laughing. "I've been able to do that since Oz turned me. Brandon's pretty good at it too."
"Ah." She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a card, handing it to Oz. "Bring her there. My husband won't like it, but I'll be there tomorrow."
"You're a Christian witch?" Oz said.
"No, he's a Christian and I'm a witch," she said. "I do little things for his shop, like the books. I'll be there on Monday in the morning and the late afternoon."
"Cool," Xander said, leaning over to give her a hug. "Thank you." He stood up and nodded at the car. "We've caused enough problems for the group."
She waved a hand. "They didn't get the circle fully completed but there's still some power that could be generated. You can stay and watch if you want."
"No, we'd better get back and watch over Precious. We don't know what her fight today did to her. All we know is that it expanded her power base a little."
"Her level of ability is something I'll need to know about to correctly tell her what she needs to know."
"Can you tell us too?" Oz asked hopefully.
"Of course. I expected you to come with her. I doubt she'd be driving herself."
"Oh, yeah, she's very grounded - like now," Xander agreed.
"Because she cursed her sister and changed her personality," Brandon said as he stood up. "Precious thought our younger sister was responsible for her horrible cycle."
"Oh." She looked at Xander. "Did you hurt her?"
"No. Oz stopped me from beating her."
"I wouldn't have been stopped," she told Oz.
"I decided to go with rational and atonement. Beating is the next step up." He took Xander's hand. "Monday afternoon. Say around two?"
"That would be fine." She smiled as she watched them leave, then looked at Philip. "Are you staying to watch?"
"Derek wanted me to ask you a few questions," he told her. "He's very overprotective of his grandchildren."
She chuckled. "I had no doubt about that, I thought he might have sent Nick to kidnap me."
"No, Nick doesn't deal well with the occult aspect of our work. Every little once in a while, he still tries to shoot a ghost."
Her laughter brought attention even from the people in the circle.
Precious groaned as she removed the last pad from her forehead. "Are we done yet?"
"For tonight," Alex agreed, giving her a smile. "How do you feel?"
"More tired than I have since I woke up after beating that asshole."
"That's a good sign." Alex rolled over and gathered up the pads, putting them away. "Well, it looks like you've had some growth."
"Just from today?"
"That I can't tell yet." She looked at her student. "Precious, I know that what happened today was very necessary, but we need you to not use your powers until we find out what's going on with them. If we can't figure out what you can do, you might end up breaking out with a new, uncontrollable talent."
"Which can be a disaster," Precious agreed. "All right, I'll only use my abilities when I have to." She stood up and stretched. "I'm going to go take a real shower and then soak."
"Have you stopped?"
"Yup, earlier today."
"Good. Be sure to wash that area really well."
"Alex, what's a douche?"
"Something that advertising says we need because we smell," Alex answered instantly. Precious frowned at her. "Your body cleans itself out very well usually, you don't need to sluice water up there to do it too."
"I know, but doesn't it make you feel cleaner?"
"Yeah, but it's not necessary. I find that a long bath the day that I end my period makes me feel just as clean as a douche does. But we'll talk about that with the doctor, okay?"
"Sure," Precious said. "Will it hurt?"
"Not as far as I know. It doesn't for me."
"Good." Precious waved. "Night." She walked out, heading for her room and the shower next to it.
Alex continued to clean up the lab, thinking about what sort of stresses that girl was going to be going through soon.
Precious sat down in front of her computer and opened the email she had saved down. She read the letter through again, then started to write a reply. She missed her mother.
TO BE CONTINUED.