Notes: Thanks to InterTran online translating service. Dutch ahead with translations! ED UPDATE: Karin van den Dries, an Imagining list sib, is native Ditch speaker and she said InterTran got it wrong. She's retranslated the Dutch parts for us so I'm reposting this part.
Things Going SO Wrong, So Very Wrong.
Xander looked around at the people spread across the large, round table. "So, who's first?"
"I think we should start by handing out the copies we all made," Kyoto's second in command suggested.
"You made copies, Kana?" Sister Mary Catherine of the Vatican City house asked.
"Didn't you?" he asked.
Xander tapped his coffee cup on the table. "It's too early for this. Who made copies?" Half of the Precepts and seconds raised their hands. "Okay, then the rest of us should. It will make things easier to have our own copy to look at and diagram," he told Mary Catherine.
She nodded. "Yes, it would." She pushed her chair back and stood up, going out to use the copier, six other people following her.
Xander looked down at Kana, who was usually a spokesman for the archival houses. "How many do you have?"
"I've got six languages that we definitely don't recognize, with multiple books in most of those." He picked up a second stack. "Then we've got sixteen that we aren't sure of and that we'd like an opinion on." He tossed a packet from each pile down to his boss. "I put all of them together for ease of figuring out whose is who."
Oz walked in and the door slammed behind him. "Xan, you might want to go stop the nun from shooting a guard," he suggested, taking his husband's seat after Xander had left. "Apparently he hit on her," he told the others. He looked down at Kana. "Did you run off just one page or more?"
"We ran off two pages, figuring that two would give us a better chance at finding at least some sort of equivalent. I've stapled each of the books' pages together."
"Good." Oz looked down at the packs, frowning. "Isn't that top one Russian?"
The Russian Precept, Philip, looked down then shook his head. "It's an ancient form. It looks like Tartar actually, but there's not much written by them. We've only found one instance and that looked more like bastardized Chinese."
"Hey, it's a place to start," Xander said as he walked back in with the nun. "The guard is *very* sorry, and he's Catholic so he's going to go confess now." He tapped Oz on the shoulder. "Don't you have a board?"
"Nope. Nick's running the gadget's board because he thinks he knows it better than I do." Oz pulled Xander down into his lap, giving him a hug. "Nick told me to come bug you instead."
"Ah," Xander intoned wisely. "Then can you please get a vid-link working so we can bring our Philip into this?"
"Sure, babe." Oz lifted his mate up and slid out from under him, letting Xander have his seat back. "In here?"
"Yup. With a scanner if possible?" Xander gave him a cute look and Oz went to get them the computer stuff.
"I sent mine to him," Kana noted.
Sister Mary Catherine grabbed Xander's coffee and drank some of it. "Slow down, the rest of us are barely awake."
Kana smiled at her. "Don't you do dawn devotions?"
Mary Catherine snorted. "No. I'm not in a convent so I don't usually do them. I like the second mass better and it's usually less populated by the other nuns, who for some reason think I'm odd."
Kana smiled. "Then we'll help you through your sleep deprivation."
Xander coughed. "Wasn't us, guys, really." He nearly blushed when everyone looked at him. "We were actually quiet last night." He looked around. "Who was that anyway?"
Philip smiled. "It sounded like Margaret's neighbor." He waved a hand. "Half the time, there's really loud sex. The other half, there's very loud fighting. It all depends on the seriousness of the meeting. The more serious, the more sex."
Xander shook his head. "I thought Nick was joking about needing ear plugs." He looked over his shoulder as the door opened, admitting the last of the Precepts, and Oz, who was pushing a cart. "Is that the resort's?"
"Yuppers." Oz settled into one corner to set things up. "They think we're strange by the way. Some sort of society that studies aliens or something."
"Gee, we've only had one of those," Martel said from his seat, where he was half-asleep anyway. "I nominate Kana to get everything organized," he said through a yawn. "The rest of us could probably use more coffee."
Kana craned his neck to see around a few people. "I'd be more than happy to organize. Can I start with your library?"
Martel waved a hand. "They've got the slime outta the books, go for it," he agreed.
Kana's face lit up and he looked at Xander. "Does that mean I can start with a classification system?" Everyone's mouth opened. "It's not like we can use the Library of Congress system. I'd like to make something like that."
"It might be easier," Mary Catherine agreed. Philip nodded. "But we've all got books that don't fit anywhere."
"Yeah, ours has a shelf of kids books," Oz said as he pulled down a screen. The Legacy logo lit it up as he turned on the projector. "Here we go." He logged onto the server and up popped a little notice. "When did we do maintenance?"
"Last week," Martel yawned. "Bloody well buggered our system all to hell."
"It could be the virus floating around," Xander suggested. "We got hit when someone tried to send in a report."
Oz grunted. "We got that one." He fiddled around a bit then 'ah-ha'ed and started to type. Finally, a picture showed. "Hey," he called out.
Philip, of the 'Frisco house, rolled into view. "Who's there?"
"Give me a sec," Oz grumped, setting up the camera so it covered most of the table. "It's us."
"Welcome to the language board, as organized by Kana," Xander said cheerfully. His step-father snorted at that, but he looked pleased. "The issue has come up that most of us....." He stopped as a straggler wandered in. "Hey, Helena. Did you make copies?"
"Sure did," she said as she sat down, sprawling out in her chair. "Those beds are soft."
"Yes, they are," Oz agreed, pulling a chair over to sit next to his husband. "Okay, so we've got tons of copies of pages out of books. We need to know if anyone knows what they are."
Xander kissed him on the cheek. "Go swim, babe. I can do this one." He stole a real kiss, making Oz lightheaded. "I promise to come out and play in the pool with you in a while."
"Or you could always go talk to the people who think you're unnatural," Helena suggested. "They're meeting in the other reserved room."
Oz grunted at her. "I'm going to do something else to them first," he noted as he stood up. "I'll be back if you get stuck in the work."
"Okay." Xander grinned at him, then looked at Philip. "Nick took his spot."
"Ah." Philip nodded. "Nick hates sitting there listening ta people talk." He looked around. "How many books do we have?"
"We're going to send you copies of each," Kana told him. Some of the people looked at him. "What? I emailed a copy to him last night and we have a scanner."
"Good point," Xander said, leaning back in his chair. "And we did nominate Kana to handle the organization part of this board." He smiled at the Kyoto Precept. "And possibly one for the House libraries."
Philip snorted. "That'll be a chore. I've been tryin' ta figure out one now for years." He typed something on the computer in front of him. "I've got mail from Kana, Philip, Mary Catherine, Helena, and ...Tydisian?" He looked up. "Did I say that right?"
"He's the second in my house," Martel told him. He leaned around so he could be in the camera's vision too. "He took it on himself. Bright lad, very ambitious and jumpy."
Philip nodded. "We were all like that once." He looked around the room. "Who's first?"
"Let Mary Catherine go, she's got the biggest stack," Philip from Moscow suggested.
Philip from 'Frisco nodded and opened that message. "Good Lord," he sighed after a moment. "Where did we find the personal code?"
"Under the Vatican. We somehow ended up with all the books from a few of the old workrooms." Sister Mary Catherine smiled at him. "Not all of them are in code. I'd swear one's in Creole."
"We could ask Alex," Martel noted. "She should at least recognize Creole."
"She does, but this is older than the country we're in," Philip from 'Frisco said absently as he studied the records. "I can figure out what records one, six, ten, eleven, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, nineteen, and forty are," he said after a moment. "The rest might take me a few, most of them at least seem familiar."
"Hey, a start," Xander said happily.
Oz walked into one of the meeting rooms, nodding at the seven people who had stopped talking. He pulled a chair over and sat down facing them. "I know how you feel about us and I'm here to argue with you over it."
The lone female laughed. "Well, you've got balls."
An older man shook his head. "There's nothing you could say to change most of our minds."
Oz crossed his over his chest. "Let me try."
"You were born this way," a member accused.
"No, I was bitten by a two-year-old nephew while I was sitting him in my first senior year." A few people's mouth opened. "Xander's this way because I was trying to heal him right after we married."
"And the children?" the female member asked.
"Two were born carriers. All but Precious were fully brought over because Xander managed to get free and wanted them with him. The spell that keeps us from changing didn't work on my mate for a few months."
"Where were you during this time?"
"Tibet. Trying to control the wolf." He took a calming breath. "Xander forced me to go because, on some level, he knew he was going to change. He knew one of us had to find control."
The old man cleared his throat. "We've heard that Derek already had the spell."
"He did," Oz agreed, "but he didn't know all of the clauses to it. I brought back the teachings for control and a fuller copy of the spell. One of the main clauses was that it only be done at an absolute high, or an absolute low, point."
"Which is why your mate was spelled last," another male member noted. "Tell me, did you keep any skills?"
"Xander and I both have heightened hearing and smell. Occasionally, we let our urge to hunt out during cases." He smiled wryly, remember their first few weeks in their house. "And sometimes the instincts take over and we do *really* strange things like stock the house full of toilet paper." That got a weak chuckle. "The wolf comes out mainly in one situation - when one of the pack is in trouble, or might be."
"Did Xander hunt James?" the old man asked and Oz nodded.
"I've heard strange rumors about what Kristen did when she got to New York."
Oz laughed. "It was nothing compared to mine and Xander's urge to mark our new house and make it safe for the cubs. Between that and stocking the lair, even Derek was tired of us for a while." That got another weak laugh. "Between the claiming and marking urges, and Xander buying over a thousand dollars worth of groceries, it was a very...weird time."
"But you don't live in the instincts?"
"No, not usually. Xander relies on his more than I do, but his give him insight about certain types of people."
"Have you run into any other weres?"
"Xander and I have both met and talked with the top pack in town. Xander to tell them about a young were our kids had run into and to discuss routine matters; me to help them track a rogue member and to answer questions about what I learned in Tibet."
"You don't react to them?"
"We had to mentally tell ourselves that they're not enemies when we first met." A few people looked shocked. "We don't get in each other's way." Oz leaned forward, his arms uncrossing and his hands resting on his thighs. "The usual were lifestyle is very closed and underground. The packs don't get together unless there's an emergency to them."
"So, every case we've ever had were rogues?"
"Or singles, people not taken into a pack for whatever reason."
"Or sent away?" the female asked.
Oz shook his head. "You *can* leave, but most don't. No one is *sent* away, they're a danger. Anyone who acts against the pack is dealt with by the pack." He smiled. "There are packs of bad weres, but most just want to be left alone."
"What about your children?" the old man asked. "Will they go to other packs when they're of...breeding age?"
Oz shrugged. "Not a clue. Probably not. The weres I talked to in Tibet expected their children to find mates outside, but not to turn them." He sat back again, but stayed relaxed. "Most mates are made by accident, but almost all of the children will turn."
"Do these...mates know?"
"That's an individual thing," Oz said with a shrug.
"Then you're saying you're like normal people, only with extra abilities?" the old man suggested.
Oz sighed. "Did any of you hear that Xander had been possessed long before we joined?" A few of the seven nodded. "How about that Alex brought out the remaining taint?" No one moved. "Xander *used* to be able to pull up the hyena, and it was scary. Weres are much more normal and controlled than what Xander *had*."
"Did it get cured by his turning?"
"No, he finally merged all the parts of himself," Oz said. "It made him a great hunter."
The old man smiled. "You've given us something to think about."
"Thinking is always better than supposing." Oz stood up. "We're usually ready to answer questions." He left them alone.
The woman looked around. "Do we believe him?"
The old man nodded. "Yes, I felt he was telling the truth. What remains is to see if we want to try and force changes in the Legacy."
Everyone thought about what they had learned, considering the hard options before them.
Xander walked out of his board meeting and smiled at his mate, who was sitting on the floor across the hall from the doorway sipping a soda. "We made a good start. We think we know what about twenty percent of the books are in and we have a clue about another ten or so."
"Good job," Oz said, allowing himself to be helped off the floor. He handed over the rest of his soda. "Wanna take a walk?"
"Sure." Xander chugged the rest of the soda and tossed the can into a nearby trash can. "I'm leaving them talking languages with Philip." He took Oz's hand and headed them toward an exit. "They're pretty excited. They've had some of those books for years and nothing's been found on them." He squeezed the hand he held as they walked out the door. "Hiking trails or just wandering through the recreated version of woods?"
"Let's just walk," Oz suggested, leading Xander down toward the trees. "Did you call the kids?"
"Yup, and talked to Benny too. His siren's trailing not only him, but his dad and another cop. Did you know Ray was working in their 'strange crap' unit now?"
"Nope. Is he happy there?"
"Most of the time, but he hates the cases. He said that occasionally he has to switch over and do hate crimes when that unit gets overrun, but usually he works on the strange, the unusual, and the unsolvable." Xander stopped Oz and grabbed a kiss. "How did your speech go?"
"Pretty well. They had a lot of misconceptions, which I hopefully fixed." He stopped Xander to steal a kiss of his own. "Maybe they'll get to the point where they won't bug Derek anymore." He grinned. "Wanna have sex in the woods?"
Xander snickered. "Only if you brought lube." Oz pulled a tube out and waved it around. "Hey, then I'm good to go." He glanced around for the best cover. "That stand of trees?"
"Deal," Oz agreed, pulling Xander toward the trees. Maybe they'd get caught, but yay.
Neither of them saw the woman tracking them, or her gun. Just before they entered the sheltering copse of trees, a loud 'thwack' rang out, then a second. Oz fell first, clutching his lower chest. Xander, who had ducked at the first shot, felt the burning fire across his arm. "Shit!" He pulled Oz into the shelter of the trees and went to his knees beside him so he could check the wound. "Fuck me!" he yelled, pressing down to put pressure on the wound. "Help! Need an ambulance!" Someone came running, and it was a Legacy member, Philip from Moscow. "Oz got shot."
Philip ran back to the resort, just a few feet away.
Xander looked up as the hospital room's door opened, nodding the officer in. "What's up?" he asked quietly. Oz had only gotten out of surgery a few hours ago and he was still sleeping.
"Mr. Harris-Osbourne, we have to ask you a few questions," the cop told him, pulling a chair over. "The first being why whomever did it used a silver bullet."
Xander shrugged, trying to come up with a quick lie. He doubted the cop wanted the *real* reason. "Not a clue," he said finally. He ignored the itching on his arm, under the bandage. Now he knew why it was bothering him.
"Does he have anything to do with werewolves?" The cop smiled. "I know they're not real, but some of the people who shoot at people have very strange notions stuck in their heads."
Xander shrugged. "He was in a band once and it had a werewolf song. We did a report back in college on pack behavior and how it relates to society." He looked at the cop. "Other than that, not a clue. One of our papers got the attention of the FBI, they wanted us to come to profiling school when we were younger, but we never got the chance to." He looked down at Oz again, smoothing out the blanket. This was more serious than he had thought. Someone had known what they were. "I just want him to get better."
"I know you do. Besides yourselves, did you see anyone in the woods? Or perhaps smell anyone?"
Xander chuckled weakly. "I was kinda taken up with Oz and his suggestion to go have sex. I didn't think I needed to pay attention." He shook himself and absently rubbed at the bandage on his arm. "I need to call my father."
"I believe Mr. Boyle already took care of that," the officer gently informed him. "He's presently pacing outside the room." He stood up. "I hope he gets better," he said, then he left, letting Nick in.
"I want them," Xander told Nick. "They used silver."
Nick shuddered at the ice in Xander's voice. "I left London's security person, Elizabeth, searching the grounds. She's going to be reporting back any minute now." He touched Xander's shoulder. "Oz is strong, he'll come back, Xander."
"Maybe." Xander looked up. "But what about the silver? How did it affect him? It's making my arm ache and itch, and I only got a little bit of it."
"We won't know for a few hours." Nick sat down in the vacant chair. "I called Derek and had the kids grounded to the island. This is too many coincidences."
"But who are they trying to get? The ambush on the island was more a scare tactic. James defecting to the dark didn't have anything to do with that, did it?" Nick shook his head. "Then why the *hell* are we being targeted? Are they looking for a weak spot? Is this another distraction?"
"Possibly," Nick admitted. "If this is a distraction, then they're probably coming after the kids. If they're not going after them, then it's something to make Derek focus elsewhere." Xander nodded. "Think like a Precept, not a husband," Nick chided. "Who are they going after?"
Xander considered the whole puzzle, but he knew he was missing a piece. "I'd need to talk to James to figure this out," he admitted. "I'm missing something."
"All right. I can arrange it," Nick promised as he stood up. "When?"
"Not until Oz is awake."
"Xan, that could be too long," Nick warned.
Xander looked up at him and growled. "I'm not leaving his side. He wouldn't leave mine."
"All right." Nick backed away. "I'll try and arrange things for you. What about your meetings?"
"I'll deal or they can come here," Xander suggested, going back to staring at his husband's sleeping body. "I need to be here."
Nick patted Xander on the shoulder, then he left the hospital room. He stopped at the desk, handing over a card with his cellphone number. "If he wakes up, I need to know," he said quietly. The nurse looked at him. "Xander's my brother, I need to know." She nodded and clipped it to the chart. "Thanks." He left, going to see what was going on back at the resort. They'd never let the Legacy stay there again.
Margaret sat down next to an old man at dinner, smiling grimly at him. "Michael, have you heard?" He shook his head. "Oz was shot with a silver bullet." The diners around them looked at them.
Elizabeth cleared her throat from a few tables away. "They found the gun, it had two more in the chamber." She wiped her mouth off. "How is Oz?"
"I just got a call from Nick, he's still sleeping." She glanced around the private dining room to make sure they were alone. "Nick said Xander doesn't think it had anything to do with James and his stunt."
Everyone nodded. That made sense.
Michael patted Margaret on the hand. "I know you like those boys, but they'll be fine. Their constitution will prevail."
"Even with silver?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Probably. It doesn't seem to burn them exactly, not like the old tales." He sipped his wine. "I doubt that it's going to be a fatal wound."
"Yes, we'll have them around for a *long* time," Nick said as he walked over to them. Michael looked up at him in shock, that hadn't sounded normal. "No one told you that what they are have *very* long lifespans?" Everyone looked at him. "They do. We have records of six hundred years, ending from a car crash." He sat down next to Elizabeth. "Xander's engaged in profiler mode. He needs to talk to James."
"Done," a voice said from the other side. Kana looked over at him. "I'm sitting on his board, I'll send someone to get him. Does Xander want him at the hospital?" Nick shook his head. "Then I'll arrange it as soon as we know Oz will wake up." He looked at Margaret, then at Mary Catherine. "Our board will convene tomorrow," he ordered calmly. "We will give our Precept a good report when he comes back." The Archival and Specialty houses people all nodded and went back to their dinner. "I expect you'll be taking Oz's place, Nick?"
Nick grunted in displeasure. "I don't want to, but I will. No one's leaving the house until we figure this out." He looked down at his hands. "Xander was wearing Oz's ring on his thumb, I'll get it from him tomorrow."
"No need," Elizabeth told him, patting him on the hand. "I'm here without one. We can deal, we all know who you are."
"Yeah, the Head of Security for the organization and I didn't even get a hint of this."
"If it was an external threat, you wouldn't have," Margaret said practically. "None of us would have heard anything about it." That got a few nods. "Now, we should eat. Tomorrow's going to be stressful enough without worrying all day about Xander and Oz."
"They'll pull through," Nick mumbled as he stood up, heading up to his room. He needed to talk to his mates. Even a verbal hug was better than nothing.
Margaret smiled at the Precepts watching him leave. "They'll figure it out. That's why they're the lead house."
"Thank the Gods we aren't anymore," Elizabeth answered. "William Sloan drew enough problems. I can't imagine what Derek and his sons pull to them." She looked around. "I agree with Kana, we should continue as planned. It may sound cold, but the work doesn't stop because one of us is injured."
"But how did they know about using silver?" Kana asked. He looked at Martel and Mary Catherine, they were involved in the werewolf research. "And who knew that they were all but immortal?"
Both Martel and Mary Catherine raised their hands. "They told us," she told him. "They found that out from another source." She smiled at Kana. "Want me to take over the languages board for you? It's mostly my stuff that's still being looked at."
"No, I can deal with that and the library commission. You can do Xander's archeology review if Derek doesn't come online." He looked at Martel. "I want you to do the cultural review sessions for the archeology board. As the sociologist, it's your field of expertise."
"Agreeable," Martel said with a grin. "Planned on it anyway." He ate a bite of salad. "How long before Oz wakes up, do you think?"
"Tonight," Mary Catherine said firmly. Everyone looked at her. "Precious is not only chosen, but is also the recipient of her mother's *gifts*. I believe that once she hears, she's going to do something."
"She has been shown to be quite impulsive," Philip from Moscow agreed. "What about their exwife? Do you think she'll do something?"
"Willow?" Mary Catherine frowned. "Maybe. Her whole life was wrapped up in theirs. I wouldn't be surprised if she actually knew about this before it happened. She keeps a very close eye on them." She wouldn't mention Willow's offer to Xander, it would only cause the boy problems.
Everyone slowly drifted back into their prior conversations and started eating again. These conferences were too rare to waste the time. Even for such a dynamic pair.
Benny flopped down onto Junior's bed with a sigh. "Dad said we have to stay for a few more days. He said something happened at the conference and Derek needs him."
Junior frowned at his friend. "What happened?" Benny shrugged. "Well, dirt!" Junior got up and went out into the common room. "Xandra!" he yelled when he saw she wasn't already watching tv with the others. She opened her door and looked out, a towel wrapped around her body. "Something happened with the dads. Benny's dad just told him we're all grounded to the island again."
"Well, shit!" Precious muttered.
Timmy nudged her. "No algebra test." That lightened his sister's outlook on life.
"That's not the point," Xandra said, leaning against the edge of her door. "What happened?"
Benny walked out. "I don't know, all dad said was that something happened and that we were staying for a while because your grandpa needed him."
Xandra nibbled on her bottom lip. "All right. Timmy, go find out what happened. I refuse to be kept out of the loop now. And if grandpa gives you a 'you're too young' speech, remind him that they *are* our fathers and we should have been told first thing. Let me get dressed and we'll plan everything after you get back." She closed her door.
Benny looked around. "Sorry, I thought you guys knew."
"No, they didn't," Philip said from the doorway. "Xandra, hurry up and I'll tell ya what happened, ya won't have ta go bother your grandda." He turned off the tv and sat down in the free chair, smiling at Benny. "Don't worry 'bout it. We knew they'd find out sometime." He patted his lap as Xandra walked out and she slid down into it to give him a hug. It would also let him control her when she got upset. "Your das' were shot at. Xander got it in the arm, a flesh wound. Oz got hit in the stomach." He tightened his arms around Xandra when it felt like she was going to try and move. "They used silver." He smiled at Timmy. "Yeah, you're grounded ta the island, but you'll still have the tests. We're callin' your school tomorrow and tellin' them about this." Timmy sighed. "As for you, Benny, you'll be here for at least a week. Your da went home ta pack stuff for ya both." He slowly eased up on Xandra, flinching when she broke free and glared down at him. "And you're ta do nothing," he warned her. "Derek and Nick have this one."
Xandra glared at him for a second more. "Precious, in the spellbook you took out of mom's stuff, is there a healing spell?" She nodded. "Can you do it from a distance?" Precious shrugged. "Go find out. Get Jon to help you." Her sister headed into her room. She looked down at Philip. "We will be kept up to date," she said calmly. "These are our fathers and we will know what's going on, even though it's *business*."
Philip stood up and pulled her in for a hug. "You're still children and shouldn't have ta worry about such things for a few years yet. Let the adults handle it." She kicked him in the shin. "But I'll tell ya what's goin' on," he relented. "Jus' don't do anything!" He let her go and looked around. "I mean it. If'n your sister wants to do a healing spell, let her, but nothin' else. Hear me?" He got various grumbles and nods. "Good." He looked at Xandra. "You may be good enough to go out on security detail, but you're still thirteen." She nodded and he left.
Xandra flopped down into the chair. "This sucks," she announced.
Precious walked out of her room with the book. "I can do it from a distance, but it's a more complicated spell than I usually do." She sat down, studying it. "It might help some though." She looked around the room. "Should I try and talk to that witch I've been conversing with? Get her opinion?"
"Sure. Tell mom if she doesn't already know," Timmy told her.
"You've been talking to mom?" Brandon asked.
Precious glared at Timmy, then at her other brother. "Yes, and the dads know. They arranged it so mom could give me an asskicking about going bad." She smiled at Serena, who was staring at her over the top of her book. "They do know."
Timmy nodded at his room. "You can use my setup since you still don't have 'net access. Stay out of the Legacy parts though."
"Timmy!" Serena shouted. "You know better!"
Timmy looked at Benny. "You never heard that name," he told the younger boy. "Really, you never did."
"Too late now," Junior put in. "But his dad's a part-time member anyway, isn't he?" Brandon shook his head. "Really? I thought he was."
"He's our outside liaison," Serena told him. "That's why we're supposed to run to him if we're in trouble and can't get someone at the house or it's a house problem." She looked back at Benny, then at Brandon. "I believe it might be a moot point soon enough anyway." She looked over at Precious. "Go talk to Mom, send her our love and requests for at least a letter." She went back to her book.
Xandra swung one leg up over the chair's arm. "Have fun, let us know what we need to do to help."
"Deal," Precious agreed, heading into Timmy's room. His home-built system was massive; three hard drives, a dvd player, a bunch of stuff she didn't recognize, a scanner, so much memory that their fathers had to hardwire his room separately. She sat down in front of the mega system and logged into her email account, checking it for messages. She printed off the one from her mother, then logged into Timmy's special, outside the Legacy, server, going to chat with her mother for the first time in a long time.
Xander looked up as the door opened, admitting a nurse. "Any change?" he asked.
"No, but it's looking hopeful. He hasn't had any bad reactions." She checked Oz over and made notes. "It could be much worse right now." She put the chart down. "Are you sure you don't want to have him moved to a larger hospital? We've only had a few hunting accidents in here. Somewhere like Phoenix would have dealt with quite a few shooting injuries."
Xander shook his head. "I need to be near the conference in case something comes up." He stroked the back of Oz's hand. "He'll be fine."
"If you're sure," she said, exiting so he could have some privacy.
Xander laid his head down on Oz's shoulder. "I'm sure. And I'm very sure that I'm going to get the person who did this." He scratched his arm, the silver traces left in it were making him itch again.
Derek looked over as Philip walked into his office. "They not take it well?"
"Xandra's not a teen, she's thirty and her father," Philip sighed as he sat down on the couch. "She's demanded the right ta help."
Derek smiled. "She's just thirteen, she should realize this is an adult matter."
Philip shook his head. "She's got Precious workin' on a healin' spell from afar." Derek nodded. "She's also *demanded* the right ta help."
Derek leaned back and considered his granddaughter. Or daughter if you were speaking literally. "She can be quite stubborn, but she should know we're doing everything we can." Philip nodded. "Then it's probably just stress."
Philip shook his head. "There's somethin' funny goin' on and I felt it in her." Derek frowned. "Not magic, but definitely somethin' funny."
"I'll check on them in a while," Derek told him. "Or have Marcus go over and help Precious with the spell." He pushed a button, sending a signal to the Control Room. "Marcus, could you please come here?" he requested, then let the button go. A few minutes later, Marcus walked in. "Philip thinks something is wrong with the children. Could we impose on you and ask you to go help Precious with her healing spell, and keep an eye on them?"
"Sure," Marcus said, giving him a smile. "That was always my area anyway." He looked at Philip. "Funny how?"
"Xandra wanted ta help us get the people who shot her das'."
"Ah. Well, she is quite strong in the stubbornness department and from what I've seen, more than able to take care of anything that harms her family."
"It was too strong a reaction," Philip told him. "I listened after I left 'em alone. She agreed to let Precious talk to her mother about the healin' spell as it was Willow's spellbook." One of Derek's eyebrows went up. "She's found one of them, not sure which one. The other girls know."
Ray walked in, smiling at them. "Okay, so what do I do now?" he asked. "Your security teams are top-notch, and you don't really need me."
"We also can't spare the time to help Benny until we find out if this is something attacking the house," Derek reminded him. "Besides, if she's coming after him specifically, then she'll come here and we'll be better able to beat her." He smiled.
Philip looked over at him. "If this is somethin' against us, then they've seen Benny out here," he reminded the worried father. "That makes Benny a target too. We can best protect him out here."
"Okay," Ray agreed, running his hands through his hair. "So, you want to make sure my boy's safe too? Any other reason?"
"Because we've often thought about asking you to join us out here," Derek told him. "Whenever you're ready of course."
Ray glared at him. "Yeah, 'cause I handle the strange so well." He looked at Marcus. "Did they do this to you?"
"No, I was already here when I found out that strange stuff occurred. I've been the house physician for ten years now." He shrugged. "Derek sent me through medical school and gave me a place to practice." He grinned. "Nick got hurt so much that it was just handier to have me here."
Ray shook his head. "Whatever. Fine, we'll stay. But I can't sit around and do nothin'."
"That's fine," Derek agreed. "Nick usually handles all sorts of management functions for the security teams. I'm sure you could handle most of them without any problem. I'll set you up with the security Captain in the morning."
Ray nodded. "Thanks." He looked around the room. "Where's my son?"
"With the other kids," Philip told him. "He's veggin' in front of the tv right now." Ray sighed and walked out, willing to play along, for now. Philip looked at his lover. "Timmy slipped and told Benny the name."
Derek sighed. "He'll probably end up living here anyway," he noted. "Nick really could use the help." He looked at Marcus. "Precious is even now talking to her mother. Please help her."
"Okay." He left the office too.
Philip smiled at Derek. "You enjoy manipulatin' people," he accused in a fond tone of voice.
"Yes, and I haven't had this much *fun* since before we became the lead house," Derek agreed with a smile. "How did your boards go?"
"Fine. Got a lot figured out. You wouldn't believe what was in some of those books. Demon porn and all from Church texts."
Derek snickered. "Of course. They are preoccupied with the subject and always have been."
Marcus smiled at the children as he walked into the common area between their rooms. He had to ignore the creepy feeling he had when he looked at the children. Philip was right, something was definitely off with these children. "How are we tonight?" he asked as he sat down.
"Livid," Xandra said for them all.
"Are you here to help?" Serena asked, not looking away from her romance novel.
"Yes. Derek asked me to help with the healing spell since that's always been my greatest of gifts." He glanced around. "Precious?" Everyone pointed at Timmy's room. "Then I can wait. Are there any questions you need answered? I interpreted the medical reports for your grandfathers."
"How bad is father's condition?" Brandon asked.
Marcus looked at the boy. "Xander's got a flesh wound on his right arm. It does have some small flecks of silver and debris left in it, but it shouldn't keep it from healing. Oz's wound wasn't that terrible. It hit his intestines and stopped once it caused a single puncture wound to that organ." Brandon nodded. "The hole wasn't that big and it wasn't bleeding that badly. They've taken out the bullet and cleaned the wound as best they could. Oz was sleeping the last time I checked, with your other father sitting beside him." The kids all nodded.
"Then the real question is what the silver will do in relation to his healing abilities?" Brandon suggested.
Marcus nodded. This kid was creepy. Brandon was usually the serious one, but now he was sounding more like Philip. Add some guilt and a light Irish accent and you'd have the former priest in a younger body. "We don't think that it will hinder the healing, but it may act something more like an allergic reaction. Xander's been told off a few times for scratching at his wound, but the benadryl the doctor gave him stopped that. We're sure it should be the same way with Oz."
"Then why isn't he awake?" Timmy asked.
Marcus shrugged. "He could need the rest. Or it could be that the injury sapped the last of his strength. It could even be that his werewolf healing abilities are the thing that's sapping him so badly and he needs to rest to make himself heal faster."
"Does father need anything?" Brandon asked.
"He needs to know that you guys are safe and nothing's touched you yet. He's worried about too many things and it's distracting him from helping Oz." Marcus patted Precious as she came out and walked past him. "I was asked to come help you with the healing spell. It's my major area of expertise in magic."
She shrugged. "Fine. We'll be doing it later. I have to go find Jon and tell him." She walked away.
Marcus nearly said something about her arrogant cheerleader attitude, but that was just how Precious was. Only now she was more so. He stood up. "I think I'll head up to the house and grab a snack. Call me whenever she's ready or if you have any questions. I'm talking to the hospital at least once an hour right now." He got nods and left them alone, going back to Derek's office. "Philip was right," he noted as he walked in, interrupting some kissing. "Sorry, but something is up with the kids."
Derek pulled himself away and smiled at him. "What?"
"They're more, more of their favorite personality traits. Xandra's more aggressive. Brandon's more scholarly. Precious was more arrogant. Serena couldn't be bothered to come out of her romance novel. Timmy was just lounging and watching cartoons."
Philip sighed and forced himself off Derek's lap. "What coulda caused it?"
"I don't know yet." Marcus frowned. "I'm going to get together with Adam and Jon, see when this started. Until then, can you do a system's check? Do a water sweep and the like?" Derek nodded. "Thanks." He ran a hand through his hair. "You guys are very guarded, but the only thing that could get to you would be magical."
"We've had that before," Philip noted wisely. "Go talk ta them, we'll get Alex started." He smiled at Marcus' back and the closing door, then landed back in Derek's lap, starting where he had left off.
"Let me call Alex, love, then I'll do naughty things to you," Derek promised, picking up the phone to call upstairs. "Alex, Marcus needs you to do a water sample check. He thinks something's gotten to the children." He hung up before she could say anything and wrapped his arms around his love's body. "Do you think this is affecting us?" he asked between kisses.
"Probably, but we'll solve it." He shifted. "Haven't been this horny since we were turned inta teens."
Derek laughed. "Don't remind me, love. I was sore."
Xander sat up straighter when he heard the groan, grabbing his husband's hand to hold. "Oz?" he asked.
"Present," Oz moaned, opening his eyes and turning his head. "How long was I out?"
"A few hours. How do you feel?"
"Like I got shot. I hate that feeling." Oz felt along his stomach. "Isn't healed?"
"They used a silver bullet. Marcus has said that we're allergic to it."
"Huh, what a shock." Oz pressed on the hole, then looked at his mate. "You're not back at the conference?"
"Like I'm going to leave you," Xander snorted. "Get real, Oz." He shifted closer so he could steal a kiss. "Nick's running things and I have to figure out what's going on."
"We," Oz corrected. He stared at the door until it opened, admitting a nurse. "How long do I have to stay here?"
"Until your wound is much smaller," she said with a faint smile. "We figured you'd be impatient, but you won't get to go back until tomorrow evening at the earliest, and only if you get much better very quickly."
Xander frowned. "I can take care of him at the resort." He looked at Oz. "It'll be safer," he offered. Oz shook his head. "We'll have the guards there in case anyone tries again."
"It could have been one of the group," Oz reminded him.
Xander shook his head. "Nope, it doesn't make sense. Yeah, it coulda been one of us, but why? There were so many better opportunities to hurt us. The dinners. The boards. Even something in our room so we get it when we come in." Oz frowned. "I know you'll want the pain meds, but even those are portable."
Oz sighed and looked at the nurse. "Don't you hate logic?" She nodded. "Can we discharge me and send me away with good medicine? I promise we know what we're doing, we've both been here before."
She shrugged. "I'll have to get the doctor's approval." She checked his vitals. "I must say, you're very healthy for a man who was shot earlier tonight." She made notes on the chart, then smiled at Xander. "I'll call the doctor and see what he says. You may have to wait until the morning."
Xander grinned. "Great, we'll make it in time for the breakfast meetings."
She shook her head as she walked out. "You two be good. No heavy petting." The door shut behind her.
Oz looked at his husband. "Why?" he asked quietly.
"Because it doesn't make sense that this is someone in... the organization." He shifted some, moving off the numb spots. "If it was someone inside, they would have acted already. Either when they had you tied up, or when we were vulnerable some other time. We haven't been watching carefully for the last two days and there's been better opportunities."
"So why do it then," Oz finished. Xander nodded. He patted the side of his bed. "Come sit, you're giving off 'numb butt' signals." Xander gratefully climbed in next to him. "Are you sure you want to do this back at the resort?"
"Babe, I can get a lot more done back there. Including talking to James to make sure this isn't something of his." He kissed Oz on the cheek before snuggling into his chest. "We'll be protected. All my Houses will watch over us. We can even get Nick to guard you while I work." Oz snorted. "Really."
"Fat chance. We'll work together." He stroked down Xander's back. "I'm fine, really."
"I'm itching," Xander admitted. "Where the bullet left stuff."
"Yeah, I kinda itch too," Oz admitted, scratching the pad over his wound again.
"Stop that or no pudding," Xander said through a yawn. "The nurses yelled at me for it."
Oz smiled as his mate fell asleep, taking the time to catalog all he felt, knew, and his probable course of action. Xander wasn't going to be able to stick him in a bed and leave him there. Maybe they should switch to a suite. He chuckled when the nurse came in frowning. "He had a numb butt," he explained.
She shook her head. "Shift him over some, he's reading on the equipment and making it look like you've got a temperature." She came over to stop the scratching hand. "We'll get you something for that right now, Mr. Harris-Osbourne. Give us a few minutes. Your doctor's on the phone with the attending here. He'll be with you in a few minutes."
Xander smiled in his sleep. "Nummy, Ozzy."
Oz shook his head. "Hurry him up please. My mate needs his rest or he'll be grumpy and someone else will start to hate us."
She giggled and left them alone.
Xander smiled at the man standing behind the desk. "He's all right," he assured him. "We need to switch to a bigger room if possible though, that way I can work from there if I need to."
The man looked in the reservations, then shook his head. "I'm sorry, we don't have anything larger open. We can have a small couch moved up to your room for a small fee," he offered.
Xander nodded. "Okay." He looked at where Oz was flopped down in a chair. "We're going to go to bed now. Please leave a message for Mr. Boyle that we're back and want to see him first thing, after dawn."
The man smiled and wrote out the message. "We'll give it with his wakeup," he promised. "Would you like to leave messages for anyone else?" He reached into the drawer beside him and pulled out a small stack of messages. "These have been left for you."
Xander flipped through them. "Okay, these three," he said, showing them off. "Give them the same message. Michael should just be told that we're back and will be holding court upstairs. He can tell everyone else." He stuffed the messages into his pocket and nodded back at his mate. "We're expecting a medicine delivery as soon as the local pharmacy opens. Please send it up, even if we're asleep." Then he went to grab his mate, helping him to the elevators. "Here we go," he said as they got on and took the ride up two floors, getting off and slowly moving down the hall. "Few more minutes and you can rest," he promised.
"I'm not one of the kids," Oz said sullenly.
"I know, but I'm guessing that it's time for your little pill and you probably are feeling miserable." He kissed Oz's neck as he grabbed his keys. "I like to take care of you, remember?" He opened their door, checking to make sure everything was fine. He found Nick on their bed and sighed. "Bro's here." He got Oz inside and sitting on the bed, taking his jacket to toss over the desk chair. He also took the glass off the bedside table and went to fill it. He watched Oz take his pill then helped get him settled in for the night, covering both of them.
Xander yawned but he went to check his messages on the computer and talk to his father. Derek needed to know they were both fine.
Precious stomped her foot as the smoke went out. "Shit!" she muttered. "Something's wrong." She flopped down and stared at the spell again. "I'm doing something wrong."
Marcus smiled at her. "I'm sure it's a little thing. You haven't been doing this very long, Precious, and it's easy to lose some of the finer points."
Precious gave him her icy look. "I've been doing this now for a few years. I know what I'm doing."
"Then why didn't it work?" Jon asked from his seat on the chair. He agreed with Marcus, something was wrong, but he couldn't pinpoint what. "You're right, you're usually much better than that so what went wrong?"
Precious got up and stormed off. "Fine! I'll go fix it myself!" She was raging by the time she walked into the common area between their rooms. "Serena, can't you pull your ass out of that stupid romance novel?" she sneered.
Serena put her book down and stood up, glaring at her sister. "I was waiting on you to do something stupid, sister."
"Enough," Brandon said from where he was lying on a couch with a cool washcloth over his forehead and eyes. "Fighting isn't getting us anywhere." He lifted the cloth. "What happened, Precious?"
"It won't work. I did everything just like it said, even adding what Mom said she forgot to write down. Nothing happened. Not even a fizzle."
Serena sat down as soon as Precious did. "It could be outside of your range," she surmised. Brandon nodded. "Or it could be blocked."
"Who'd block a healing spell?" Timmy asked from his room. "Dad's online. They're back at the resort. He and Grandpa are chatting."
"Don't butt in," Xandra called. "Derek hates that and he'll ground you again." She walked out of her room and looked her older sister over. "Now what?" she demanded. Precious shrugged. "Another spell? Another method? Another attempt of that one?"
Precious sighed. "I need to find out why we're being blocked. Something felt really off while I was working."
"Then figure it out and we'll help," Xandra said calmly. "No one hurts the pack and gets away with it." Precious nodded and got up, walking into her room. Xandra took her spot. "Serena, what can you do to help?"
"I've got research laid out in my room," she admitted. "I've forwarded it to Alex a few days ago so they should know what we do." She picked back up her book. "I'm going to continue to veg until Precious needs us." She gently stroked through Brandon's hair. "He's getting partial mirrors of someone's visions and we're not sure whose."
Xandra growled in the back of her throat. "This is messing with the cubs." She stood up and paced. "This wasn't a concentrated attack on the dads. If it had been, they would have killed one of them, or would have tried to follow them and finish them off." She stopped and slammed her fist into a wall. "This isn't against the Legacy either." She looked back at Brandon. "What are you seeing?"
"A room with a lot of candles. Really bad lighting. A very smoky fireplace. Some idiot sitting at a table drinking blood wine." He lifted the cloth to look at her. "Nothing concrete enough to do anything." Xandra slumped a little. "You think this is against us?"
"We're powerless," Xandra pointed out. "Precious can't cast right. I'm feeling helpless. Only Timmy's good right now and that's because he's dependant on technology." She sat down again. "If it had been against the Legacy, either James or the hijackers from the other day would have succeeded. If it had been against the Dads, we'd be orphans. So neither was a serious attack."
Timmy stuck his head out of the room. "I told Dad that and he agreed. He said you're to stay here and help Grandpa and Grandpa Philip. The pack isn't to act this time." He withdrew. "And he sends his love and a bunch of hugs." He came out a few minutes later. "Grandpa kicked me off the Legacy server and suspended my access." He sat in Xandra's lap, giving her a cuddle. "What did you have planned?"
"I want this asshole," she purred. "I think I can get us some adult, driving, help." She hugged Timmy. "How was Daddy?"
"Just fine. On pain medicine, but otherwise fine. Dad said he was curled up next to Nick because Nick had crashed on their bed for some reason." He smiled at his brother. "Are you getting the blood wine flashes too?" Brandon nodded. "Who's the woman?"
"Not a clue," Brandon murmured, starting to drift off from the slow stroking through his hair. "Ask Strife, see if he knows."
"Junior's still up at the main house," Timmy sighed. "Grandpa won't let him back down here for a while now." He looked at his sister. "You got any other plans?"
Xandra gave him an enigmatic smile. "Maybe." She stood up and put him back down in her spot. "Precious!" she barked. Her sister opened her door and looked at her. "I know where they hid Mom's spellbooks."
"No," Serena advised. "The dads will kill us."
"So will Grandpas," Timmy put in. "Philip will personally skin you to make Nick a new coat."
Xandra smiled. "Not her later ones. Her ones from high school. She brought them with her and hid them when she started to work in the darker arts. She didn't want to contaminate the originals in case she needed them." She wiggled a finger. "Want her white books?"
Precious licked her lips. "I'd rather have the more powerful ones. They have the sort of spells that I could get used to."
"No," Serena advised again. "You don't need dark magic. You're close enough to going bad already." She looked up. "I might support getting into the white books, but not the darker ones."
"Mom took most of those with her," Xandra reminded her. "We watched her pack all six of them."
"Mom had about twenty books with spells jotted down in them," Precious told her. "Some were just notebooks and stuff, but she told me she put all the ones she couldn't take with her the second time in the locked attic beside the main chimney. All her working stuff went in there because she didn't feel right about dragging it to London. She told me she regretted ever touching them." She fluffed her ponytail. "We could go check."
Jon coughed from the doorway. "Not a chance. Not without someone more experienced standing there to take some of them from you." He looked at Xandra. "Where are the others stored?"
"Grandpa has a key to three vaults down in the basement. He's shown everyone one of them, but I snuck down there one day and watched him put something of Mom's in the one under the stairs. He was gone for a while so it's not a tiny room."
"And how did he get in there?" Jon asked.
"He had this special metal bar thingy that went over his ring. The spot is kinda hidden, it's sculptured. It takes the same bar as the main vault, but it uses different bumps on it as the key." She crossed her arms. "If we can lift them, we can find what we need."
Jon shook his head. "Derek will kill you, Xandra. You can't steal from him."
Xandra grinned at him. "How will he know?" She used her not-often-used telekinetic gift to knock him out. "Okay. Precious, go for the ring. The bar is in the office." They headed out together.
"Grandfather's going to kill you," Serena called after them. She picked up the phone and dialed their trainer's number. "Adam, Jon seems to have passed out. Yeah, we're at the house." She hung up, never taking her nose out of her book.
Adam walked into the common area, frowning at the remaining children. "Where are Xandra and Precious?" he demanded.
Timmy and Serena both pointed at the main house.
"A *verbal* answer," he ground out.
"Going to steal back some of Mom's stuff," Timmy said with a shrug. "They're going to find out why Precious' powers are blocked and she couldn't do the healing spell for Dad." He sipped his glass of soda. "They're either near the vaults or up in the attics."
"Or neither," Xandra said as she walked in, her face furrowed from the power she was expending to keep up her half of the platform. Precious walked behind it, holding up the rear end. "Clear the living room," she ordered. Timmy jumped up and moved their table out of the way. "We'll need a bigger spot to work."
"You can use my room," Serena told them. "But I'm still not involved. I refuse to be grounded until I'm thirty."
"Or beaten," Adam said, glaring at the girls. "What, exactly, do you think you're doing? Your mother had some very dangerous items in her possession. I don't think any of them will heal your fathers."
Precious glared at him. "No, but something in here will probably tell us what's blocking me from doing that healing spell." She flopped down and set her edge of the platform down. "Xandra," she reminded her in her snidest tone. Xandra let her half drop and walked away. "Gee, thanks. I thought you were going to go through it with me."
"I am, I just need something to drink first," Xandra retorted as she headed for the kitchen. "Give me five."
"Make me a snack," Timmy called after her, flipping the channel. He looked at Adam. "Going to nark?"
"Definitely," Adam said, starting for the phone. He fell down, the neck pinch given to him working excellently.
"See, I told you Star Trek had value," Timmy teased his twin.
"Yeah, yeah, and someday we'll all have peace and no gifts." She opened the first chest. "Watch him. He wakes fast."
Up around the ceiling, a young redheaded man shook his head. "I'm not going there," he decided, heading for the only other person who could hear him. "Philip!" he yelled as he landed in the former priest's bedroom. "Um, sorry," he said, covering his eyes and turning around so he didn't have to see Philip's rear end stuck up, or the thing sticking out of it. "I can wait for a few, but you'll need to hear this."
Derek sighed. "Philip, am I boring you?"
Philip shook his head, giving his lover a sad smile. "'Tis Brandon's angel friend." He pointed. "He's blushin' and needs somethin' bad."
Derek looked at the empty spot. "What?" he growled.
"The girls have Willow's stuff and are looking for a way to unblock Precious' abilities. Precious just knocked out Adam and Brandon's having mirror images again but they're not clear." He uncovered his eyes and turned around. "Geez, can't you put on a sheet?"
Philip smiled. "No. Get over it. God is love." Derek laughed at that. He kissed his mate. "The girls stole all of Willow's stuff and've knocked Adam out so they can find something ta unblock Precious."
Derek started off in his native language, Dutch. "Godverredomme, ze zal ons allemaal de dood in jagen. (I'll be damned, that brat will kill us all.)" He got up, tossing on a robe. "Hopelijk weet ze niets van de kluis en wat ik daar heb opgeborgen. (Hopefully, she won't know about the vault and what I stored down there.)" He flung open the door and stomped down the stairs to his office. "Ik vermoord haar als ze de krachten uit de andere teksten losmaakt. Ze weet niet
wat ze ze doet en we zullen allemaal moeten boeten als ze slecht wordt. (I'll kill her if she releases the forces in those other texts. She doesn't know what she's doing and we'll all pay if she turns bad.)" He stormed into his office and pulled out the little drawer, sighing when he saw the special key still sitting on its velvet cushion. "At least they didn't get this."
"Yes they did," floated down the stairs. "Xandra is a telekinetic too!"
"Dan zal haar met harde hand controle worden geleerd. (Then she'll learn control the hard way!)" he vowed as he headed out of the office and toward the garden.
"Clothes!" Philip yelled after him, running after him waving a pair of pants and a shirt. "Before ya traumatize them more?"
Derek grumbled some more in Dutch, but he put on the clothes. He didn't want to think about the children seeing him naked. It also gave him time to calm down and think. "Did the angel say anything else?"
"Just that Precious was getting help from Xandra, and that Xandra planned on taking it back once Precious found the way to unblock herself. They do have *all* of it though," Philip admitted. "From the candles to the trunks ya packed all the books inta." He kissed Derek's cheek. "Don't kill her, it's not worth it. Ground her and let her fathers deal with her."
Derek grimaced. "This could well push her over to the dark, Philip. We can't take that chance. Especially not right now." He stole a kiss then headed out into the garden, wincing when he stepped on a slug. He shook his foot clean then continued across the bridge and road to the smaller house. "Precious!" he yelled as he walked into the house. "Put that away!" He walked into the common area, hissing when he saw how much they had taken. "You do not have the right to get into that yet."
Precious glared at him. "Mother said I could have it. *She* knows I'm not going bad." She flipped her ponytail back over her shoulder. "Besides, I have to find why I'm blocked and I know the answer's in here somewhere." She put down the book she had been flipping through and started on another one. "Did you see Xandra? She's supposed to be helping me."
Derek walked over and took the book from her hands, slamming it down on top of the pile. "You will not get into these books ever again, Precious. It's not your right. They were locked away for a reason."
"Yes, but the reason is moot when we're being attacked," Xandra noted as she walked in, handing Timmy a plate of nachos. "Share," she ordered. He handed her one and she smiled. "Thank you." She nibbled as she made her way through the mess. "I won't let her turn, Grandfather, but I won't allow this attack on the pack to go on. In the absence of our leaders, the power comes to me."
"No, it doesn't," Adam said as he stood up. "It goes to the next adult member of the pack. Which would be Derek. He may be a carrier, but it is *his* duty, not yours." He frowned at his protégé. "I will be adding punishment onto that which your fathers give you," he told them, making sure they knew it was a promise. He saw the determined looks. "What sort of block?" he sighed.
"Methos, you can't allow them to get into these harmful books!" Derek shouted.
"Magic is based on the intent," Precious parroted, it was one of her earliest lessons. "If you want the spell to do harm, it will. If you want it to do good, it will. Even a healing spell can be turned harmful if you want to screw with it." Derek glared down at her. "Don't you feel the block?" He shook his head. "Then try something and tell me I'm wrong. If I'm wrong, then I'll help you put everything back in the downstairs vault."
Derek started to mutter again but he couldn't touch his own abilities. He tried again, concentrating harder, but still nothing. He looked at Methos, who shrugged. "Fine, *I* will look through the books, with Philip and Methos' help, but you will not touch them."
"But the attack is coming!" Xandra yelled. "We have to be ready. We don't have much time."
Derek pulled her up, staring down into her eyes. "Nothing and no one can get on this island to attack us. If they try, then we'll send them to Hell. *You* will stay in here and contemplate what has went on tonight because you and Precious are both grounded until the next millennium." She frowned. "You are not in charge when there's an adult of greater ability present. I know your fathers have told you that repeatedly." Xandra shook her head. "They should have, because it's true. You are not in charge while there's an adult who can stand in." He let her go. "Now help me get all this up to the main house. You will come back and go straight to your room, Alexandra, and you will not come out unnecessarily until your fathers get home." She frowned but helped send everything up to the house with Precious. "Thank you." He looked at the sleeping form of Jon. "Undo whatever you did to him."
"I did a carotid neck pinch," Xandra told him. "A ten second one. He's fine, I checked."
Adam/Methos bent down to check on the sleeping man, nodding that he was fine. He stood up and glared at his pupils. "Go to your room now, before I find a belt." He walked out behind Derek, thinking about all the punishments he knew and which one would be most appropriate. "Political marriage?" he suggested as they walked through the garden.
"Wouldn't last long enough," Derek muttered. They walked into the house and headed for the library. "I'm sorry I outed you to the children," he said as they sat down.
"I doubt they'll remember," Adam said with a shrug. "I can always evade the question if it comes up." He pulled over the first book. "She wrote in English?"
"And occasionally French," Derek agreed. "She didn't know how to make sure no one else could read it." He pulled over a book of his own, starting to read over the meticulous table of contents. "She was a true researcher," he sighed.
"Yes, but she needed to do it elsewhere before she blew up the house," Adam reminded him. "Much of this is probably beyond her understanding and powers too."
Derek snorted. "She's a very powerful witch. I wouldn't underestimate her. Or Precious." He put down the book. "She's too much like her mother."
Adam shook his head. "No, she's not enough like her. Willow had the focus to do this, Precious has the will but not the focus to sit down and seriously study magic. She'll never be a power user, Derek, not unless she suddenly grows up and becomes her twin sister."
"Serena didn't look up the whole time," Derek said thoughtfully.
Adam looked over at him, one eyebrow going up. "Really?" Derek nodded. "Do you agree that something odd is going on?"
"Yes, and I agree with Marcus' assessment that they're favoring their strongest personality trait also." He leaned back, crossing his legs. "Did you feel anything strange?" Adam shook his head. "Then what could it be?"
Marcus walked in from the Control Room, holding up a small tube. "That's what it is," he said smugly. "A small potion to make them their favorite traits." He handed it off to Derek. "It was in the pool water. Alex was running a systematic round of checks and remembered to dip some out of the pool." He sat down. "What's all this?"
"Willow's things," Derek said, staring at the little vial in the light.
"Were you and Philip in the pool?" Adam asked Derek, and got a nod in return. "Then what do we do?"
Brandon walked in, frowning at them. "Then we give them what they want. My visions finally came clear." He slapped down a piece of paper on the table. "We give him Precious." He smiled his most evil grin.
Derek took the paper, handing the vial back to Marcus so he could put it somewhere safe. "Oh, dear," Derek said as he read the short message. He looked at the boy. "You're sure?" Brandon's smile got brighter. "Then we'll figure out what to do soon enough." He patted the boy on the arm. "Very goot. Go call your fathers, they're back at the resort."
"Already did. Timmy allowed us to chat using his computer. The dads are fine, just worried sick about us." He crossed his arms. "I say we give him Precious. That's what he wants and it'll teach them both a lesson."
"Her powers are blocked," Adam reminded him.
Brandon picked up a small brown leather book and handed it to him. "It's in there. The original and the counter. Simple enough that even Uncle Philip could do it. Mommy said so." He nodded at everyone then left the adults alone to agree with his plan. It really was the only way.
Derek took the book and flipped through it, frowning when he came to a dog-eared page. "How did she know?" he asked quietly.
Adam picked up the account and smiled. "Here's how." He handed it over. "If it's not her, it's probably her student. Willow's not beyond using someone to destroy someone else."
Derek reread the section, then sighed. "All right. Marcus, if you would?" he asked, handing over the book. He stood up and grabbed the first pile of books, putting them back into the chests. "We'll be storing this somewhere that the children won't know."
Adam got up to help him. He didn't want these things in the hands of someone so untrained either.
Precious finished playing with her hair and stood up, walking out to the main area of the rooms. "I'm going," she called.
"Bet me," Brandon called back, coming out of his room. "Did you feel yourself being called?" She nodded. "And you know the plan?" She nodded again, putting on her 'bored' face. "All right, be careful. We don't know where this woman's loyalties lie." He gave her a hug. "Come back and we'll have a sundae."
She patted him on the back then left the room, heading out into the garden. The pull was stronger there. She walked into the circle of light on the ground, then blinked as it flashed and she was transported to a smoky, dim room. "Who are you and why do you call me?" she asked in her most haughty voice.
A man, young, not even twenty, stood up and walked closer to her. She could see his blond hair, about shoulder length and not cut in a flattering style, his green eyes, and his long robe with leather trim. "Ah, Precious, I was hoping we'd meet." He reached out a hand, but she didn't take it. "Won't you trust me just a little?"
She sneered. "I doubt it." She crossed her arms, keeping away from him. "Why did you call me?"
"Because I wanted to talk to you."
"And you couldn't have shown up at my school to take me out of Algebra why?" she asked snidely.
He chuckled, an emotionless sound. "That would have drawn the attention of your family. Your very powerful and rich family." He smiled again. "Sit, please." He pulled out a chair and watched as she carefully sat down. "Can I get you something?"
She shook her head. "I had pizza earlier. Oh, and my family already knows I'm here."
"Even your fathers? I thought they were out of town and having an...emergency."
She snorted. "Obviously you've never heard of something called the internet, or chatting. And both of my fathers are fine by the way. I've chatted with both of them in the last half an hour." She started tapping her fingers on the table. "You've got two minutes or I set off my emergency beacon and bring my grandfather."
He sat down beside her, taking one of her hands to hold. "I want to be bold and ask you to join me. To be my mate in all things." She tugged her hand away. "I will treat you well, I'll even finish your training."
"For the Slayer position too?" she asked, going for a hopeful sound. Not that she wanted the position, but....
"That I can find a way around." He grabbed her hand again. "I've found a spell that will guard you unless all the others have died. It will push you back to the end of the list."
She took her hand back. "Which is nice and all, but it'll still come to me. I've known three of them now, and I'm only 14." She shifted so she was facing him, her other hand starting to tap on the table. "What else? That's a pretty pitiful offer to align myself against my family."
He snapped his fingers and a woman walked in with a small velvet case. "I can give you anything that you desire," he told her, opening the case.
Precious looked at the ruby and diamond necklace inside, then up at the woman, whose eyes told the whole story. "I've already got jewels from my great-grandmother. And who's she? Another person you asked to *join* you?"
He waved a hand. "She's of no consequence, just a minion." He patted her on the knee and she kicked him. "That's the spirit I need!" he exclaimed, getting up, and incidently away from her. "I need a mate who has intelligence, spirit, fire!" He waved his arms around. "I can share all this with you, everything I have will be yours."
Precious stood up and gave him a 'sorry' look. "Everything you have can already be mine," she told him in her best 'talking down to an idiot' tone of voice. "What makes you think I won't take it from you? Or that my mother won't come after you for trying this when I'm still *clearly* underage?"
He laughed, a full, evil sound. "Because she didn't say anything when I asked her for permission." He grabbed her and pulled her closer. "She didn't seem to mind."
"That's because she knows I'm not following in her path." She got free by pushing him backwards, making him fall onto the floor. "Like I said, I already have all this, why should I take you along for the ride?"
"For the power," he told her simply, tipping his head off to the side. "Because I can give you what only your mother could, I can give you unlimited power. Unlimited access to anything and everything you've ever wanted. And all it will cost you is your virginity, your family, and your good-guy status."
She shook her head. "No deal. Two of those are more precious to me than anything you can offer." She stepped away from him as he stood up. "I will fight you if I have to," she warned.
"I'd expect no less, how else can I prove myself to you?" He raised a hand and a fireball formed in his palm. "Can you do this?"
She held out a hand and a glow started in hers. "No, I can do this." She threw her spell, blocking his by making it turn on him. She threw her best offensive spells at him, and a few she had only learned that night. By the end, he was gasping for breath on the floor, no longer able to do anything. She growled and threw one last one at him, then headed for the transport ring. It should still work. She smiled at the woman, who had just stood there, then activated it so it would send her back. She landed in the woods and hurried out of the way before it exploded. Then she sat down and cried. She had destroyed him, she knew she had. She waited there until her brother came down for her.
Timmy helped her up, holding her against his chest. "It'll be okay," he promised. "We'll deal with anything that happens." He tipped her head up so she had to look at him. "Xandra had to be locked in her room, she wanted to go kill the guy and rip him into pieces."
"I think I did that," Precious admitted. She sniffed one last time, then started to pull herself together. "We'd better get back before Grandpa notices."
"I fixed the alarms," he told her, leading her back to the house. "You can even hog the bathroom if you want." His sister almost smiled. "Everyone but us and Xanny are asleep. We'll talk to everyone tomorrow and Brandon's promised to run interference with Grandpa for you." He walked up onto the porch and into the house, leaving her long enough to lock the door and reset the alarm. He walked her to their rooms, leaving her at the bathroom. Once he was in his own room, he logged onto the chatroom and told his father what had happened. He would yell, but he'd understand. The calm answer he got surprised him, but he guessed his fathers knew it was necessary.
Oz logged off the 'net and looked over at his husband's sleeping body. Nick looked up from his newspaper. "They sent Precious to deal with him. She came back in tears."
"Did she turn?" Oz shook his head. "Then she'll be fine."
"Timmy said she thought she may have killed him." Oz carefully closed the laptop. As he stood up with a groan, Xander woke up. "I'm fine. Precious is back in the house."
"Good. She okay?" Oz shrugged. "Then I'll call her in the morning." He lifted an arm. "Come nap, you need to heal so we can deal with all this."
Oz climbed into the bed and let his husband hold him. "I hate it when the kids have to fight," he whispered.
"Me too, Oz. Me too." Xander gave him a light squeeze. "We'll work it out when we get back. She'll be fine." He laid his head down on his husband's shoulder and closed his eyes. "Let Adam and Jon handle it for now. We'll be home in three days."
"Yeah, we'll deal then," Nick agreed. "Does Derek know?" Oz shook his head. "Want me to tell him?" Oz shook his head. "Okay. We'll let them come to us." He folded up his paper. "I'm going to go down to breakfast. I'll be back soon." He got up and walked out, closing the door gently behind him.
Oz settled in for another nap. He needed to heal so they could deal with this.
Precious tapped on her teacher's door and walked in at his grunt. "Adam, I need you to train me," she said quietly, not looking at him, just at her clenched hands. He rolled his seat over and forced her chin up. She took a deep breath. "I killed him," she said quietly. "And I don't feel any different." He nodded and she shook her head. "No, you don't understand. Buffy told me that it means I'm dark now and I can't be." She sat down on the edge of his bed, watching as he kicked the door shut. "I need you to train me like you have Xandra. I can't be bad. If I'm bad, then they'll have to send me away, so I can't be bad."
Adam smiled at her. "Your grandfather said he wasn't dead. He might wish he were if he wakes up, but he's not dead." She slumped a little. "I will be training you harder though. Jon and I will be dominating your life for the next few years." She sniffed, but nodded. "Good. Go eat something and meet me at the usual time." He stood up and pulled her into his arms when she didn't move. "It's good that you realize what you were becoming," he said quietly. "It's even better that you want to fix it. We'll work on this and soon you'll be as well trained as Xandra is." He let her go with a pat on the back of the head. "Now go eat. You'll need the calories to train later on." She nodded and left him alone.
Adam sat back down at his desk and finished writing in his ancient journal. //Another student has realized what she could become. Unlike most of them, she didn't fight the knowledge, she simply ignored it until it hit her. Like her younger sister, her destiny is moving forward and I'm once again dragged in by the Fates' hands.// He put his pen down and closed the book. "We will make sure she doesn't turn," he told himself. "It's not like they could tempt her with much anyway." He smiled and mentally started to plan her new training schedule. "Yes, she'll not cause any trouble for a while. She'll be too busy to cause trouble." He stood up and went out to get himself some breakfast. He'd need it too.
Derek watched Precious wander through the garden from his office window. He smiled at her less-unhappy walk. Adam had apparently fixed it already. He'd have to get with their teacher and see how best to fit in their other training. It was time to start the children's real training in life. He turned back around to look at the reports on his desk. There was no way the Legacy was going to let a few of those children go, not after they had proved themselves so capable. He laughed when he saw the disgruntled report of Timmy hacking the Legacy's servers. "Yes, they're too capable to let go of for long. I'm sure their fathers won't mind. Much." He signed off on the reports and filed them away for later reference.
TO BE CONTINUED...