What Else Did You Expect?
Nick looked over at his brother and brother-in-law, sighing when they both stared back at him. "Why are we still up here?"
"Because Kana has it well in hand?" Xander suggested.
"Because we all got ordered to stay up here, and people would come up and tell us what was going on?" Oz suggested.
Xander looked at his husband. "I guess they do like us. Either that or it's another coup attempt and they want us where they know we're out of the way."
Nick shook his head. "I'm sure it's because they're worried about Oz and know you'd like to stay with him," he reminded his brother. Nick looked around the room for a few moments, then back at the couple. "So, any idea what you're going to be doing about Willow's offer?"
"Nope," Oz snorted. "We haven't wanted to talk about it." He looked at his mate, who was looking sad. "All up to you."
Xander shook his head. "Not up to me, it's up to us. I can't make that decision by myself." He looked over at Oz, who was giving him an understanding smile. So he cuddled in. "I want, I've always wanted, a little girl of my own. My own daughter." He blinked a few times. "If I do this, it could tear us all apart."
"You could wait, you have time," Nick pointed out.
"Yeah, we have time," Oz agreed, staring down at his husband's head. He glanced at his brother- in-law. "So, are you going to ask Derek to taint you too?"
"NO!" Nick said, standing up. "No. It's wrong." He started to pace. "Even if he offered, I wouldn't take it. I don't want to live a really long time."
"Not even for Dad?" Xander asked quietly. Nick glared at him. "All I'm saying is that Dad's going to be alone. I know you and Philip make him happy, and I'd like to see him continue to be happy for as long as he lives." He slid out of his mate's arms and hugged his brother. "I'm sorry it upsets you, and if you don't want it, we'll be there for Dad." He let the other man go. "If you feel it's wrong, then we'll support you in that."
"Thanks." Nick ran a hand through his thinning hair. "I..." He shook his head. "I know Derek's going to be upset, but I don't want it. It'd be wrong. I don't want to outlive people and I don't want to leave him alone." He sat down, staring over at Oz. "You'll really be there for him?"
Oz nodded. "Understandable. We're not really happy about having certain souled vamps be the only people who know who we were when we were younger." He patted the bed and Xander fell back into his arms. "It's a hard thought to have." He looked down at the younger man. "I've been thinking about grad school again."
"Well, there's less work now," Xander said, thinking about it. "Counseling?" Oz nodded. "I guess that's cool. If you want to, I'll support you in it and I'll even cheer you up when you get stuck on a paper."
Oz gave him a squeeze. "Thanks."
Nick smiled at him. "At least you won't be changing diapers while trying to study for finals."
Oz nodded. "A definite improvement." He let Xander snuggle into his uninjured side, his mate needed comforting, he was having difficult thoughts.
Downstairs, in the larger meeting room, everyone had gathered together. Sister Mary Catherine was mad as hell and she wasn't going to take this any more. She stood up. "Shut up!" she yelled. Everyone looked at her in shock. "Thank you." She looked at the faction of the Legacy that wanted to kick Oz and Xander out. "Is this your doing?" she asked the old man leading them.
He shook his head. "Then who's *brilliant* idea was this?"
The speaker coughed. "Sister, it's necessary. We have to change things so this doesn't happen again."
"What doesn't happen again? An assassination attempt? We've had those before," she scoffed. "People who heal quickly? We've had those too. What, exactly, is it that you think your changes will help?"
"For one thing, how about the gulf between the two branches?" the speaker told her. "Or how about the way that your house doesn't have to answer to the same rules. I know during the London episode that you were there."
She nodded. "Yup, sure was. I was heading for San Francisco with the baby when I heard there was a problem and popped around to see if I could help. When I got to the backup house, I found a witch that had left the organization...."
"She was kicked out," Elizabeth, the London Security Chief interrupted.
Sister Mary Catherine shook her head. "Willow *left*. She left right after little William Derek was born to go work for the British government as some sort of hacker. We banned her after that, after she lost her soul to the Hellmouth in Sunnydale, while she was trying to close it permanently no less." She looked at the speaker again. "When I got there," she continued calmly, "I found a witch that had left for the good of everyone, a slayer that had been kidnaped to deal with a former member coming out of Hell that had been turned to the dark by his own avarice, and a House that was just recovering from being taken off the plane. So yes, I was there. I was even there during the fighting and when Willow tried to be noble. Nothing that you've said would have kept that Hellmouth from opening. Nothing you've suggested makes any *real* sense. And nothing that you've said is going to happen because you can't get Derek, or his chosen proxy, to agree." She looked around, then raised a hand. "I only see one member of the Senior Council, and unfortunately, you need four more to get these so-called 'improvements' across without Derek spearing you with his nifty little sword."
A few people clapped and Kana, Precept of the Kyoto house stood up. "Well said. I've never thought you were so passionate." He looked at the speaker. "I call for a referendum vote to quash these notions of returning to the Dark Ages."
"I second," Mary Catherine said.
The old man in the corner stood up. "As much as it pains me to say this, the good Sister is correct. I am the only member of the Senior Council present and I won't be calling my brethren in for this." He smiled at Kana. "Are you wanting Xander's spot when he leaves?"
Kana laughed. "You actually think that any of them are going to be allowed to leave?" The old man's mouth fell open. "You actually think that someone will let Derek Rayne, his sons, and their children leave the Legacy?"
The old man frowned. "Probably not," he admitted, "but we should make plans for such a time anyway. They may want to leave some day." He looked at the speaker. "Go sit down. I'll talk with you later." The speaker trudged back to his seat, but at least he'd get a hearing. He looked at Kana again. "How did you know that Derek was a carrier now?"
Martel raised his hand. "He asked." He looked at Mary Catherine. "Think you should sit yet?" he asked dryly. She sat back down beside him. "Derek had asked my house to look into the werewolf myths, and the good Sister added her house's unique touch to it."
The nun smiled at him. "I heard the boys were planning on creating some sort of preserve. I'm sure they'd like to retire sometime."
The old man shook his head. "I agree that it will probably be a long time from now if it does happen, but we should plan for such an eventuality. Or even for the time in which the Lead House is over run."
"Again?" Elizabeth asked. She looked around at the people who looked like they wanted to say something. "Are you suggesting that they won't be able to solve it? Xander got his reputation as the man to go to when you're in trouble for a reason."
"Indeed," the older man said, glaring at her, "but it won't always be so. One of these days, he'll lose."
That brought a round of loud laughter.
Kana raised a hand. "All those that want to let Xander handle this needed 'emergency' plan?" Most everyone raised their hands. "Any other suggestions?"
"Let Derek do it," the Athens' special house called out. "He's got more experience with problems than the rest of us."
"Good point," the older man agreed reluctantly. "Then I'll get together with Derek and his chosen heirs soon and we'll work on that." He looked around. "Were there any other questions that needed to be addressed before the boards scheduled for today?"
"How is Oz, does anyone know?" Sister Mary Catherine called out.
"Fine," Elizabeth said, turning to look at her. "We forced them to stay upstairs and rest. They're probably trying to figure out if this is some coup attempt."
A few people, those who knew the couple and Nick, laughed.
Kana stood up. "Since this is done, Xander's people get the room. The rest of you get out unless you really want to discuss research problems?" The room quickly cleared, including the nun. "Going already?"
"I want lunch," she told him. "I missed breakfast because of a conference call with Derek." She smiled. "I'll be back. Save mine for last."
As the door closed behind her, Kana turned to look at the people around him. "Does anyone mind if I run this one too?" He got grunts of assent for his position. "Good. Then let's get started and we'll get the peckish nun back in a few minutes." He looked down at his notes of who had come to him earlier. "Athens? You had a problem we might have a solution to?"
Xander looked over at his husband. "I've been thinking about you and grad school," he admitted quietly. "I think I'd like to take some business classes again."
Oz looked down at him. "Feeling behind the times in the money markets?"
"That too," Xander said with a grin, playing with his mate's bandage. "But I wanted to see what was new that I missed the last time."
"Hmm. You want to go back for the vet stuff?" Xander grinned and tucked his head back against Oz's neck. "All right. Do you want to do it at the same time?" Xander shook his head violently. "Cool by me then. We'll figure it out. As Nick pointed out, we've got time."
"Yeah, but I'd like to do something with mine," Xander dryly told him. He pulled back and looked up again. "I love being a dad, but some day those kids are going to be living on their own. I'd like to have some reason for my further existence outside of the Legacy and you."
Oz nodded and let his husband cuddle back into his body. "Even better reason. Why don't you start by taking some random classes and find what fits you." He stroked his husband's back. Modern painkillers were wonderful. He was barely feeling his wound, or the itching. And hey, this was almost like a vacation. All they needed was a few random gunshots outside the window and it'd be just like their last one. Well, except that last time, Xander had been the one with the wound, a knife wound from an attempted mugging. So, maybe this was a better vacation. Maybe this was even like a normal people vacation. His musings were interrupted by Nick opening the door before the person knocking on it could get more insistent. "Hey, Sister," Oz called, not moving so Xander wouldn't have to. "Were we kicked out and you're here to evacuate us?"
"It was close," she told him, smiling at the cute couple. "But everyone made McKenzie see sense. Xander might want to pop around on him more often." She sat on the end of the bed. "Have you heard from Philip yet?"
Xander shook his head. "Not a word from the house."
"All we know is that the idiot that prompted the attack on us and the house, as far as we know, is comatose due to Precious beating him up. He challenged her," he expounded when she looked worried.
"She didn't cross?"
Xander shook his head. "She knows what'll happen if she turns to the dark. She's gotten a lot of stories over the years about dark slayers and bad guys that the family has to fight."
"Good," she said firmly. "How are you, Oz?"
"Better. Enjoying the side effects of the pain killers." He looked down at his husband, who was smiling into his stomach. "Wondering if I can take his happy drugs when we get home because I *know* Derek's going to pounce on us as soon as we get out of the car."
"Derek's picking us up," Nick said smugly. "You won't get that long."
"Keep it up," Oz warned. "I'll let Xander cuddle you too."
Sister Mary Catherine snickered. "Boys, you're so nice to each other." She patted Xander's leg. "No one knows about Willow's offer," she said quietly. "It's managed to stay hidden so far. Even though she's come up three different times in arguments." Xander grimaced. "Martel and I both took on the old guy."
"What is his name?" Nick asked.
Sister Mary Catherine shrugged. "He's a contemporary of Derek's father. No one uses his name. I'm sure he *has* one, but I don't know it. I've never heard him called anything but 'that old guy on the Senior Council'."
"He's a Rocky somebody," Xander said, rubbing his cheek on Oz's chest. "Derek had a letter to him on his desk a few months ago." He looked up. "Should we go eat?"
"We should probably eat up here," Oz reminded him. "Just because it looks bad to heal from a gunshot wound so fast."
"Oh, *everybody* knows about that," the nun told them. "And they think that you're all going to be staying inside the organization for a *very* long time." She stood up. "Want me to have something sent up?"
"Nah, we'll deal with it. Thanks," Nick told her. He walked her to the door. "Be nice," he said with a smirk. She playfully pushed him.
"Nice, me? I might be a nun, but I'm still a cranky one. I should have taught in schools, not Philip. He's too nice." She winked at him then left.
Nick shut the door. "What do we want for lunch?"
"Burgers and fries," Xander told him.
"Sounds good," Oz agreed. "And a salad."
Xander looked up at him. "You're going to eat healthily now?"
"Can you think of a better time than when you're healing?" Oz countered. He shut his mate up with a hard kiss. "I like salads."
"Okay then," Nick sighed, walking over to the desk to grab the room service menu.
Xandra woke up and stretched, then winced and relaxed. "Stupid muscle spasms," she complained, getting as far as sitting up.
"You might as well get up," Brandon called. "Grandpa's on his way down."
"Crap," she muttered, grabbing her diet soda off her bedside table to finish it off - that all important first jolt of caffeine. She grabbed some pajamas and put them on, walking out to flop down on a couch. "What happened?" she said through a yawn.
"You're in trouble," Serena told her. "You disobeyed standing orders from Derek, got into Mom's stuff, and helped Precious take on an asshole." Xandra raised an eyebrow. "You really don't remember?"
"She might not," Philip said as he walked in. "Derek doesn't remember much either." He smiled at his granddaughter. "How do you feel this mornin'?"
"Tired and sore," she whined. She leaned her head on Brandon's shoulder, cuddling up to him. "I feel icky."
"You should," Brandon told her, pushing her head off him. "You used that little telekinetic gift you have and lifted Mom's stuff out of the main house."
Philip shook his head. "Wasn't just her. Where's Precious anyway?"
"Gym," Serena and Brandon said together.
Philip nodded, that was a good place for her. He sat down facing the three children. "At least we removed the spell." Serena blushed and he smiled at her. "You coulda done worse," he reminded her before turning to look at Xandra again. "Your head hurt?" She shook her head. "Just sick feelin's?"
"Yup. Like I'm on a six-day PMS binge," she told him quietly. "I'm really sorry I broke the rules, Uncle Philip."
He smiled and reached over to pat her on the knee. "Derek understands. He said you're not grounded until the next millennium, but you're gonna be gettin' some training in your gifts." He leaned back. "Matter of fact, he told me to come down here and evaluate you for skills." Brandon groaned. "What? You've never shown any yet."
Brandon pointed to a spot behind Philip's head. "Kelly, standing there nodding and grinning at me. She just said I was as bad as Richie ever was."
"That's bad?" Serena asked.
"Ask Adam," Xandra told her. "He knew him when he was alive. And his teacher, and buddies. And something about a secret organization too."
Brandon choked. "Oh, really?" he asked his angel contact. "That's interesting." He looked at Philip, who shrugged nearly unnoticeably. "Why do I have to know?" He smiled. "Deal." He looked at Philip. "I need to bug Adam for some special training," he told his favorite uncle. "He'll see to mine."
"Good," Philip agreed with a smile, "but so will we." He smiled at Xandra. "You and your sisters are ta be up at the house this afternoon for testin'. Alex and I'll be doin' them for ya." He stood up. "Other than that, you're still grounded ta the island. There's still danger from whomever set that boy onto Precious." The kids all nodded. "Thank ya. Eat somethin', Xandra. It'll help your stomach." He left them alone.
Xandra looked over at her older sister. "How did I lift stuff from the main house? I'm not that strong telekinetically. I can barely lift my bookcase long enough to vacuum under it."
Serena shrugged. "I guess we'll figure that out this afternoon." She looked over her shoulder at Precious' room. "I'd grab a shower before she comes back." Xandra nodded, seeing the sense in that, and headed for the bathroom.
"We need more than one bathroom," Brandon told his twin sister.
She nodded. "Definitely." She glanced around, then back at him. "Do you think Dad's going to take Mom up on her offer?"
Brandon shrugged. "I don't know. I figure he won't if Xandra's going to be too hurt by it." He looked at Junior's room, the little guy was still sleeping. "I'm not sure if we should worry about that though. Dad probably can't because of the Legacy stuff." He looked at his sister again and found his grandfather in the doorway. "What do you think? Will Dad take Mom up on it?"
Derek walked in and sat down beside his grandson. "I know he wants to, it's always been a dream of his, but he's had Xandra to fulfill all those fantasies. It will come to what your other father thinks, Oz might not want another child." He ruffled Brandon's hair. "They are a lot of work."
"Maybe after we leave the house?" Serena suggested. Derek shrugged. "They'll be pretty lonely once we're in college. I'd hate to see them so lonely and lost, wandering around the house."
Derek smiled at her. "Your concern is a credit to being raised right, but they won't be alone. You won't be leaving full time."
Serena nodded. "I'm looking at a program on the East coast," she admitted. "It's a research oriented history program. It also has a mandatory semester in Europe for study over there."
"Yes, but you will have vacations," Derek said wisely. "You'll be back at every opportunity." He patted Brandon's shoulder again. "Have you had any thoughts about your future?"
He nodded. "Kelly just told me I have to go talk to Adam about that. He's going to be giving me some extra instructions." He stood up. "I'm going to do that now. I'll send Precious back up." He left them alone to talk. He liked research, but those two could get lost in the discussion of it.
Derek looked at his granddaughter. "Are you going to join when you're old enough?" he asked quietly.
She nodded. "I think I will, probably under Dad's aegis. I can't see myself handling cases, but a research house would be perfect."
He smiled. "Goot. Xandra?"
"I know she's been thinking about it and she's all but decided that her skills can be put to the best use doing something like Nick does. She's not sure what sort of extra training she wants though."
Xandra stepped out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. "I want to do security design. Maybe even learn how to break and enter." She smiled and leaned down to kiss her grandfather's cheek. "I'll be right back."
"Feeling better?" Serena asked.
Xandra shook her head as she walked away. "Not yet. I'm hoping food will do it."
"It's probably a growth spurt," Derek told her. "It will stop soon enough." He watched her until her bedroom door closed. "Do you think she'd like training from someone with Nick's skills, more survival oriented, or do you think she'll want the more technical tutoring?"
"Technical," Xandra called. "I hate camping."
Derek chuckled. "Then we'll see who we can find to teach you, Xandra." He looked at Serena. "What about you? Would you like any additional training?" She shook her head. "Nothing technical or practical?"
"I'm satisfied with my skill levels. I won't need to be able to kill anyone, so I don't really need the weapons training." She looked at her hands. "I might like some training like paramedics have, I think it might be useful." She looked back up at him. "I have no pretensions of being a healer, but hearing about the dads' early days in the house has made me see how practical it can be to have." Derek nodded. "You wouldn't mind?"
"I've all but mandated that every house should have either a physician that they work with or someone there who can make emergency medical decisions in the field. You're right, it is a very practical skill to have. Did you want to take some archeology lessons also?"
Her face lit up. "I'd love to," she said enthusiastically. "It's like my second favorite thing in the whole world. I was going to ask Daddy to send me to a house with an active dig for my internship, but I haven't gotten around to it yet."
Derek pulled her closer, giving her a hug. "I'll make sure you go to one," he promised. He let her go and leaned back again. "What about Timothy?"
"Timmy? Techno-boy? I think him and Xanny will get along great in her technical classes," Serena said honestly. "He's great with computers, even better than Dad is. I think he'd like to go in that direction." She looked toward Xandra's room. "She just fell over."
Derek stood up and walked over to her room, tapping on the door. "Xandra?" he called. No answer. He knocked again. "Alexandra? Are you all right?" Still no answer so he opened the door, frowning when it hit her on the leg. "Oh, dear. Serena, come help me," he called. He really didn't want to pick up the mostly naked young woman. Her sister came in and picked her up, putting her on the bed. "Go get Jon please," he ordered as he sat beside her, picking up the towel to cover her nudity. He checked her pulse and her forehead, no temperature. Everything seemed normal. Jon came hurrying in. "She collapsed while getting dressed."
Jon knelt beside her, checking her over, smelling her breath last. "Get Marcus up," he ordered. "I think she's having problems with her blood sugar." He waited until Derek was gone to smooth the girl's hair off her damp skin. "Come on, Xandra. You gotta wake up before your grandfather makes a panicked call to your dad." She laid there.
Marcus rushed in a few minutes later, his stethoscope already around his neck. Jon got out of his way, watching as he checked her over. "She seems normal," Marcus said finally.
"Her breath smells rancid," Jon told him.
Marcus leaned over and sniffed. "No, I think that's just soured ice cream."
"We haven't had any in a while," Serena said from the doorway. "Unless she pigged out after Precious left and it'd still be sugar-free."
Marcus nodded. "All right, check around, see what she's eaten recently." He watched, briefly, as Serena and Jon checked the room. Jon held up a stick of beef jerky. "Is that normal food for her?"
"No, someone gave it to her at school," Serena told him, frowning at it. "You don't think it's related to Precious and that idiot, do you?"
Derek shook his head. "Buffy spent most of last night searching his background. Outside of your mother's apprentice, he didn't have any helpers that we could find." He touched his granddaughter's hand. "Do we need to move her?"
"I think we probably should," Marcus agreed. "I want her to have tests." He stood up. "Serena, please get me the phone." She hurried away and came back with it. He dialed the emergency number, staring down at the young girl. "This is the Luna Foundation's physician and one of the children living here just collapsed. I need an ambulance. No, no trauma, just collapsed." He hung up. "Twenty minutes before the ferry lands." He tossed the phone back at Serena. "Let's all step out and let her sister dress her." He knew how panicky young girls could be about their bodies at this age. Derek quickly stood up and walked around him, making Marcus smile. He followed Derek and Jon into the lounge area and sat on the arm of a couch. "Shouldn't you be calling the gate?" he asked Derek.
Derek grabbed the phone and dialed the main house. "Buffy, I'm going with Xandra to the hospital. Call the gate and have them open for the paramedics." He hung up before she could ask anything and looked at their doctor. "I have medical permission when the boys aren't here."
Marcus nodded. "That's what I expected." He looked around. "Jon, pack her a small bag in case she does an overnight. Can you handle everything?"
"We'll be fine," Jon said calmly. "It's not like we haven't had sickness before, even unexplained ones." He smiled at the doctor. "You might have to sedate Adam though, he's *very* fond of her."
Derek grunted. "I'm sure he'll be joining us if she's admitted." He stood up. "Let me get my jacket. I'll meet you when they get here." He walked away, going to call his sons himself. They deserved to hear it from him, not Serena.
Jon sat down in Derek's spot, staring at the door. It was going to be a *long* day.
Nick picked up the ringing phone and handed it over. "Derek."
Oz grunted, his mouth was full. Then the food was launched at his brother-in-law. "What do you mean Xandra collapsed?" Xander stopped chewing and looked at him. "Do we know why?" He sighed. "And we know nothing?"
Xander snatched the phone. "What happened to my little girl?" he demanded. He leaned back against the pillows, moving his lunch out of the way. "And why did that happen?" he asked calmly. "I see." He looked at Oz. "Do we need to come home? Or send Nick?" He sighed. "Yes, father." He handed the phone back to Oz. "He wants someone who's not going to fly home without a plane."
Oz listened for a few minutes then hung up. "Food poisoning. They're keeping her overnight just in case." He looked at Nick. "We're under orders to keep Xander from going off on someone."
"I won't go off on anyone," Xander said quietly. He slid off the bed and pushed his feet into his sneakers. "I'm going to go down and check on Kana." He left the room, heading down to the conference rooms. He smiled at the yelling that made it through the sound-proofed doors, then opened them and stepped inside. "Shut up," he called. "You're loud!" Everyone looked at him. "Guys, I need a distraction. Give me something."
Sister Mary Catherine cleared her throat. "Problems?"
"Xandra has food poisoning, she just collapsed."
"Ah." She looked at Kana. "Give him the Athens' problem. Maybe he can figure out how to do the dig."
"Deal," Kana said, holding up a folder. "Have it, I can't deal with structural problems."
Xander walked up and grabbed the folder, looking at the others laying there. "And these," he said, snatching a few more. "I'm going back to our room. Come up and talk to us. We're bored and upset." He walked out, and the argument was restarted almost as soon as the door shut. He scanned the folders as he rode up in the elevator, smiling when he came to one of the ones that he had been interested in for a month now. He walked down to his room and tapped on the door, but it opened under his hand. He laid the folders on the floor and peeked inside, frowning when he saw it was empty. "Uh-huh." He walked in and scanned, everything was gone. He checked the number on the door, then grabbed the folders and headed down to the front desk.
"Mr. Harris-Osbourne," the desk clerk said with a smile. "Your mate was just carried out. We're glad he's well enough to go home."
Xander shook his head. "He's not supposed to be going anywhere." The clerk's smile fell. "Um, don't cancel our room and try to get someone to stop him." He ran for the conference room, flinging the door open. "Someone just stole Oz," he announced. "And Nick!" Everyone stared at him in shocked. "People, need help here." He handed off the folders. "Hold that for me." He ran back out, followed by Mary Catherine, Kana, and a few of the more sturdy Precepts and Seconds. They found the empty ambulance in the parking lot, and a few new skid marks. "Well, fuck me," Xander sighed. He looked back at his people. "Anyone want to start the hunt?"
Mary Catherine's face hardened. "I think it's time to hunt," she agreed. Kana looked over at her in shock. "What? They stole an injured man! It's time to stop this!"
Kana looked at Xander. "I'm glad she's on our side. A nun like that working for the dark would be our greatest enemy."
Xander shook his head at the weak joke. "Ask Philip, people like them are usually some of the most stubborn fighters. They never give up." He looked at the resort's security guard, who was just now showing up. "Any idea what sort of car they took?" The guard nodded. "And who it was?"
The guard coughed. "We didn't get a good picture, but we've alerted the police. They're already trying to find them." He looked at the people standing behind Xander. "What can we do to help?"
Xander gave him a cold smile. "Don't worry, we're getting him back." He turned and looked at his people. "Someone call my father. I'm going to grab the stuff I put in the safe."
"I have an extra weapon," Martel offered. Elizabeth nodded, she apparently had one too.
Xander smiled at them. "Thanks, guys, but I wanna talk to James first." Kana nodded and headed back inside. "Sister, you're on communications. Martel, I'll take that gun in a few minutes." He headed back inside, meeting up with the rest of the people there for the conference. "Someone took Oz and Nick," he announced. "We're dealing with it. Go back to your boards." He looked at the old man pushing his way toward him. "You'll be sitting there when I ask someone some very pertinent questions," he told him. "Just to make it legal." He walked away, heading for the front desk. "Did they hand in keys? Leave anything?" he asked the manager, who the clerk was hiding behind. A small envelope and a set of room keys were handed over. "These ours?"
"No, sir, a suite has just come open and we're upgrading you to it. You'll find it has a computer workstation and better security," the manager said quietly. "We're sorry you've had such a problem while here."
Xander smiled at him. "No, not really bad ones. Our last working vacation, we both ended up shot and in the middle of a coup attempt in Central America while looking over a dig." He looked over his shoulder as the old man walked up behind him, then back at the manager. "Don't worry, I think we can solve this quietly." He walked away, looking at his room keys to see where he was stashed now. "Huh, privacy wing." He pushed the button for the elevator. He felt the old man walk up behind him. "Bring me to James," he ordered quietly. "I will be talking to him about this." He looked over his shoulder and found Kana there. "I don't care if his Judicial board doesn't like it for the irregularities."
Kana nodded and handed over a piece of paper. "Tonight," he said and walked away.
Xander read the address and nodded. "Yeah, I can do this." He got onto the elevator and faced the back door. It opened a minute later and he walked down the hall, his anger giving him focus.
Someone was going to pay and pay large.
Derek looked up as the room's door opened. "What happened?" he asked when he saw Alex's face.
"Someone snatched Oz and Nick," she said quietly, coming over to lay a hand on Derek's shoulder. "Someone called and said Xander's in vengeance mode. He's demanded to talk to James."
Derek sighed. He had feared something like this. "I'll call him in a while." She shook her head. "He's not there?"
"He's not accepting calls unless it's a ransom call." She sat down on the foot of Xandra's bed. "Xander doesn't really think this was James' doing, not this time, but he's going to make sure. The local police called for his credentials. I sent them over." Derek nodded. "I also sent over his training credentials from the Secret Service and the special training he got while in Central America the first time." Derek looked at her. "I think they deserve the right to know," she explained. "It could be related. We've gotten notice that the drug lord is out of jail and gathering an army." He nodded and she laid a hand on his arm. "Xander sent me an email. He said that Nick asked you not to bite him."
Derek slumped a little. "I knew he'd say that." He looked at her. "Has anyone asked Philip?" he whispered.
She shook her head. "But I know he's thinking about it. He found his first gray hair the other day." She stood up after giving him another pat on the arm. "I left Buffy in control of the house. I'm going to get back there and deal with everything. There's been two calls from the Senior Council about this incident." He snorted. "I told them you were here with your granddaughter. Someone tried to correct me about her parentage." She walked away, leaving him with his thoughts.
Derek looked at the sleeping girl on the bed. He should be at home, but she needed him. He wouldn't leave her alone in this cold and unforgiving place. His loathed cellphone rang and he answered it. "Hello?" he asked wearily. "Philip," he sighed in relief. The short message made him smile as he hung up. His lover was there for him and was handling things so he could stay here.
Xander seated himself in the deep leather chair and crossed his feet, composing himself. His anger had no place in this interview. If James had been behind this, then someone would get him for them. If he hadn't, then pissing him off wouldn't do anyone any good. The door opened and James was led inside by a Legacy Guardian, the enforcers of the Legacy. "James," Xander said coolly. "Sit, please, I think we need to have a discussion." He waited until the Guardian had moved away to look at the former London Precept. "Did you hear that someone else took not only Oz, but Nick?" he asked.
James blanched. "Are they all right?" he whispered.
Xander shrugged. "That's why I'm here." He shifted, crossing his feet in the other direction. "If you had anything to do with this incident, I'd tell me now." James glared at him. "Before I lose my temper," Xander added, knowing that the other man knew enough about him to make him afraid. James didn't say anything so Xander leaned forward. "Make no mistake, James, I will get to the bottom of this. Your trial is being held up until I do." James went just a little paler, but still didn't say anything. "If you had anything to do with this, not even the Legacy will save your life," Xander said as he stood up. "I will not rest until I not only get my husband and my brother back, but I will get justice also."
James reached out and grabbed him. "I didn't have anything to do with this. It was a backup plan that I tried to stop," he said, glancing at the Guardian. "I didn't know."
Xander patted the hand holding him. "Then you won't be the one punished." James let him go and he sat down. "Who and where?" James whimpered. "Who and where," he demanded, turning colder again. "Tell me and I will testify that you helped to end this."
"I don't know where, it was a safety precaution. I only know a phone number." He looked back at the Guardian. "I need to write something down," he commanded. The Guardian pulled a notepad and a pen out of his pocket and walked over, watching as James wrote down the phone number. "Here," James said as he tore it off. "All I know is that they're close by and waiting for me to call."
Xander looked at the number, then at the Guardian. "Call this," he said, handing it off. "Tell them that the trial was ended, for now, and that James wants to deal with Oz and Nick himself." The Guardian took the paper and walked away. Xander seemed to relax. "If you fucked us over, you're going to get it from my own hand," he warned. The Guardian closed the door, leaving them alone. "James, if Oz is hurt any more than he was when he was stolen, then you and I are going to be locked in a room," Xander said in a conversational tone of voice. "For every inch of Oz that's hurt, you're going to get three. For every degree that his present wound is made worse, I'm going to make you feel the pain. And I wouldn't want to be you if he dies." He smiled coldly. "Then we're going to have a discussion about my brother's condition."
James started to cry. He hadn't done it in nearly thirty years, but he knew he was facing the end of his life, and his executioner was going to torture him. He could stand nearly anything, except torture. "I'm sorry. I just wanted what should have been mine. If William hadn't buggered everything, I would have been Head Precept."
Xander snorted. "William and Derek made their deal back when they first joined together," he told him. "You never would have had my father's job, not until after they both died." He leaned forward. "As a matter of fact, *Willow* had a better chance of becoming Head Precept than you did. William had you under his thumb because of your coldness during cases. He wanted to keep an eye on you. He told Derek that you weren't going to be taking the House over, much less the Legacy." He leaned back again as the door opened. "Anything?" he asked the Guardian.
"They want to meet next week."
Xander snorted. "By then, I'll have found them and gotten my husband and my brother back myself." The Guardian looked down at him. "Really, this isn't going to go much farther without me losing my temper."
The Guardian smiled. "I'm sure it will be epic, Mr. Harris-Osbourne." He looked at James. "We traced the call. There's three Guardians on their way there right now." Xander smiled. "We'll be bringing your Oz and Mr. Boyle back to your room. Would you like a ride back to the resort?"
"Please," Xander said as he stood up. "Remember, James. You won't ever want to fuck with my family again." He started to walk away, then stopped and looked at the older man. "Did you have something to do with my daughter ending up in the hospital or the asshole who tried for my daughter, Precious?" James shook his head quickly. "Huh. Didn't think so." He let the Guardian lead him away. "Only three?" he asked once they were in the hall.
"They took the local SWAT team with them," the Guardian explained. "We think it should be enough, but if not, there's another two of us here that would be going after them also." He opened the door, leading the way to the car. "Do you know why this happened?"
Xander shrugged. "Because I'm Derek's son? Because he doesn't like the fact that Oz and I were both tainted at one point in time? Maybe because we were in his way. Oz was named Derek's heir by William himself." He climbed into the back of the car. "All I know is that he's pissing me off and I'm going to kill him in the most horrible manner if someone's hurt Oz worse."
The Guardian smiled back at him. "That's why I'm here, sir, to make sure that you're in control. The Senior Council thought you might need someone to watch your back." He closed the door and walked around to get in and drive. "Back to the resort?"
"Please. I need to check on my daughter's condition. She has food poisoning." He laid his head against the wall. "Thank you for not trying to make me stop."
"Sir, we expected no less of you. If you had acted, I might have had to step in, but you managed to control your anger quite well this time." He started the car and pulled down the driveway of the rented house. "I'm sure Mr. Sloan and your father would both be quite proud of you."
Xander chuckled. "Thanks. I'll tell him you said that when we get home." He closed his eyes. He was so tired of this. This was supposed to have been an easy conference. They needed a real vacation.
The Guardian looked back and smiled, turning off the gas jets. It was an underhanded trick, but it kept the likeable young man out of the way of the rescue operation. Xander would probably understand, and if not, he'd be long gone by the time the Research Precept was aware of his gassing.
Oz looked up as his wound was checked, giving the man looking him over a bland look. "If you press really hard, I'd bet I'd even giggle," he suggested dryly.
The guard smiled at him. "I'm trying to make this pleasant, Mr. Harris-Osbourne. None of us want you to suffer."
"Yet?" Nick asked from the recliner he was tied in.
"At all," the guard told him. "We just want some concessions from your lover, Mr. Boyle. Hurting you would be counter-productive."
"Until Derek doesn't play nicely," Oz told Nick. "Then we'll be hurt."
The guard smiled down at him. "You think?" he asked, walking away. He left the room, nodding at the guards to close the door behind him. He looked at his boss. "They wanted to know when we were going to hurt them."
The boss smiled and waved a hand. "Not yet. I doubt Derek would be very receptive if we did." She walked away, going back to her phone setup. "Did you take that call?"
"Yes, ma'am," the guard called. "They're on their way."
"Good." She smiled as she closed her door. As soon as she was sure no one was going to disturb her, she left the house. There was no way she was going to be standing there when her plan fell into place. Just another way in which she could protect the Legacy.
Xander woke up as the door was opened, and he knew what was going on just from the taste in his mouth. Too many times in surgery. "Which gas?" he asked.
"One of the milder sleeping gasses," the Guardian told him as he helped him out. "I was under orders to not let you get near the rescue action." He walked Xander back into the resort, smiling at the people waiting on them. "We're working on getting Oz back now," he announced. "We'll know shortly."
The old guy smiled at him. "Excellent. I'd like a full report on this when it's done," he ordered. He looked at Xander, who looked tired. "Ready for a real vacation?" he asked with mild humor.
Xander nodded. "I'd love one. Unfortunately, my next one is to pop over to Regin's house and bug them for a few days." He yawned. "Any good news?"
The old guy nodded. "Your daughter's awake and responding well to the treatment. Derek's just called and told us not to worry about her. Also that Precious was beating up a dummy in the practice gym to work out her own issues."
Xander smiled. "Good. I'm glad she's finally gotten the clue." He leaned against the front desk. "How long?" he asked the Guardian.
"We should know something within an hour," the Guardian assured him. "We are nothing if not efficient."
Xander snorted. "And really tall and kinda bossy," he added, but he was smiling. "Thanks. I'm going to...." He looked around. "Which board is in now?"
"Dinner," the old guy told him.
"Oh. I can do that." Xander headed for the dining room. "Come on, you're not getting away from me until I hear about Oz and Nick," he told the Guardian. The other people followed him silently, wanting to know what he was going to do this time. Xander was always avidly watched whenever something went sour and he had to fix it. He always used such *interesting* methods to fix problems. Xander plopped himself down between Mary Catherine and Martel, nodding at them. He snapped his fingers at a waiter, who came rushing over. "Something soothing and protein-rich," he ordered. "And a root beer." The waiter nodded and ran off. Xander looked at his people. "Did anything get accomplished today?"
Martel wiped his mouth then put the napkin back in his lap. "A few of the problems have people to look at them, people like structural engineers." He looked at Kana, who was on the other side of the room. "You gonna name him your second and heir?"
Xander shrugged. "I think I'd like to split those duties," he told him. "I'd like Philip to have half of it and Kana the other. I think they'd work well together." He waved at Kana, who hopped up and came over to join them. "Would you be really offended if I named both you and Philip as my heirs?"
Kana smiled. "I think I'd prefer it anyway. I've never had a hand for languages, just for research. I'll gladly split it with him."
Xander grinned in relief. "Good. I didn't want to upset anyone and you are the most efficient of all of us, but I couldn't hurt Philip that way either."
Kana shrugged. "As you Americans say, it's all good for me." He walked away, going back to his own table and his dinner companion.
Xander sighed. "One problem down, sixty million to go."
Everyone in the room stopped talking as the Guardian's phone rang. He answered it and nodded at Xander. "We have him," he announced. "They're both fine." There was a mass sigh. "Someone even changed Oz's bandages." He hung up. "They're on their way back."
The room gave a small cheer and went back to eating.
Xander smiled at him. "Thanks, man." He snatched a fry off Mary Catherine's plate. "So, did you want to join the security board tomorrow?" he asked. The people around them looked at him in shock. "What? They've got to be able to get past it, no mater what. They should have some say about the new security upgrades if they're going to have to break into one of the houses." That got a few nods, but everyone was still frowning. "It's not like they don't already know. I'd rather have a harmonious whole than a fighting part that wants to kill and maim." Everyone went back to their dinners. "So?" he asked the Guardian again.
The other man shook his head. "We get a report about all upgrades," he told him. He bowed. "I'll be back later. Your husband and brother are on their way back." He walked away, heading back to his rental car and the rental house.
Xander swiped another fry, wincing when the fork smacked his hand. "Ow!"
"Manners," Sister Mary Catherine reminded him. "You can afford to buy your own dinner."
Xander grinned at her. "But food always tastes better off someone else's plate."
She shook her head. "Not this time, Xander. Behave or I'll tell Oz to spank you." She ate one of her fries. Xander looked like a kicked puppy but she wasn't going to give in. Nope. Not her. Not a nun of the highest support and a Chosen one. He turned up his whipped look and she pushed over a few of her fries. "Until your own food gets here," she said grudgingly.
Xander smiled and nibbled as he waited on his food.
Oz was walked back into the resort and gave the manager a sheepish smile. "It's all okay again. They actually arrested them this time and I was promised that they wouldn't make bail." He took the key that was held out. "Hey, a suite. Cool. Husband?"
"He's eating, sir," the manager told him, smiling at him. "You seem much better today."
"The people who had us were nice and even changed my bandages. The only problem I have is this itch." He started to scratch, but Nick slapped his hand. "Hey, no touching. I'm not sleeping with you."
"Maybe you need to," Elizabeth said as she walked up to them. "Everything all right?" They both nodded. "Good. I'll escort them up to their rooms." She looked around. "Your bags?"
"Not a clue," Nick admitted.
"Xander will buy us new clothes," Oz reminded him. "He's going to go into spoiling mode soon." He followed Elizabeth into the elevator, giving her a funny look when she faced the back door. "We're going that way?" She nodded so he turned around, nudging Nick to do the same. The back door opened and they walked down the plushly carpeted hallway to the suite. "Way cool," he said in appreciation once he saw the accommodations. Huge bed with fluffy looking pillows and mounds of blankets. An actual couch and chair sitting area. A door that was open and showing what was apparently the office area. Oz headed for the closed door, smiling at the bathroom. "Small tub," he announced. "Not perfect, but pretty good. He closed the door so he could use it.
Nick smiled at Elizabeth. "Did we get any final word yet?"
"No, and the Guardian that brought Xander back didn't stick around either." Nick gave her a skeptical look. "He went to talk to James," she explained smugly. "This was his backup plan."
"Well, gee, don't I feel special then," Nick said dryly as Oz walked out of the bathroom. "Want to go down to dinner?"
"Sure. I could eat something large and hairy. Lead the way." He pocketed the keys and walked after Nick, going slower than usual. After all, he had just been shot a few days earlier.
Xander gave his husband a grin when he walked in, holding up his arms for a hug. "You're back."
Oz stole a kiss as he pulled a chair over. "Yup, we're back. And they took very good care of us, even gave me my drugs and changed my bandages." He looked at Xander's plate and snatched a piece of his steak, then waived a waiter over. "I'll take one of those and something healthy," he told the waiter. "Some vegetable."
"Of course, sir." He smiled. "Have I passed along our chef's comment that it's very easy to please you two yet?"
Xander grinned. "We have five teenagers and a preteen. We're used to eating whatever." The waiter laughed and walked off. "So, who was it?" Xander asked casually.
Oz shrugged. "The Guardians were trying to figure that out when they came for us." He looked at the other inhabitants of the table. "Hey, guys, hope you don't mind my barging in."
"No, please, Xander's been nearly morose," Martel told him.
"And he steals food," Sister Mary Catherine complained, taking one of Xander's fries in payment. "He ate half my supper."
Oz looked at his husband. "Really? Should you be punished?"
"Once you're all better," Xander agreed with a grin. The nun just shook her head. "You said you'd get him to punish me."
"I'll tickle him for you," Oz told her, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek. "Are you coming back to the house with us?"
"No, I think I'll opt for the boredom of Rome for a while," she said dryly. "I think I've had enough excitement recently." She looked at Xander. "Please don't drop in soon."
He laughed. "Sure. Next on my list is Regin, then Kana, then you." He ate a piece of his steak, then snuck a kiss. "I'll actually get a whole month at home without a single trip anywhere."
"Good. It seems we should be needed at home by now. By the time we get there, Precious might be down off her ‘I wanna do good now' high and be back to normal." He filched another piece of steak as a plate of salad was put down in front of him. "Thanks, man." He accepted the bottle of dressing and liberally poured it on top of the greens. Then he handed it back and started to eat. "Anything happen at all while I was gone?"
"Just a few problems being addressed," Martel told him. "Xander here called for files a few minutes ago and assigned someone to read each one. We're *sharing*."
"Yes, because that means I don't have to visit you as often."
"Sharing's good," Sister Mary Catherine said quickly. Martel nodded his agreement. "I only had those language problems."
"Well, unless Athens wants it, you may also have a dig on your hands," Xander admitted. "Cairo doesn't want it and you're the closest house with a language base." He pointed at her with his fork. "If you do get it, then I'm sending two of the kids to you as an internship. Serena, because she's always wanted to go, and Xandra, because she needs a distraction and you'll need security."
"We're sure you'll take very good care of them for us," Oz agreed.
Sister Mary Catherine snorted. "I'm sure that will be fine and I won't have nearly as much trouble from them as I would from you two." She looked across the room. "Why doesn't Cairo want it?"
"Because it's a pre-Egyptian temple and they don't want to lose their good graces with the Egyptian government," Oz told her. "Derek wanted to go on it as some sort of last hurrah, but we argued that he couldn't because it was in such bad shape."
"You'll need a structural engineer," Xander added. "Very old temple; some sort of quake caved in part of the roof." He finished his steak and stole a tomato off Oz's plate. "Hurry up and eat, I want a cuddle."
"You'll get a cuddle," Oz told him, smacking the fingers heading for a clump of cheese. "Stop that or not only won't you get cuddles, you won't get a bath either."
"No fair. I deserve cuddles in water. I didn't even go on the rescue myself."
Oz nodded. "I heard they had to gas you." He quickly ate the tempting clump of cheese, and anything else that his husband might want to steal. Fortunately, the waiter had been watching and had brought his real dinner in a box. Two boxes. "Dessert?"
"A treat so your husband doesn't steal your food," the waiter explained. "The chef looked out and caught him poaching."
Xander grinned up at him. "We used to eat off the same plate with the same fork," he told him. "This is pretty standard for us." He took the boxes, but Oz slapped his hand and took it back. "Hey!"
"I still have to eat. You can nibble later." He stood up, helped by his husband. "People, we're going to our room. We expect to have a parade of people," he announced. There was minor clapping. "And bring problems so I don't have to amuse Xander." There was major clapping and some laughter. "Otherwise, someone's going to have to sleep with him tonight because I won't get any rest otherwise." Everyone howled with laughter. "We're going back to our room." He allowed himself to be led away, even relenting enough to let Xander have a stuffed mushroom out of the second box. "You'll be good or no nookie," he warned as they got onto the elevator together. "And I mean it."
"Yes, Oz," Xander said sheepishly, looking quite innocent.
Oz gave him a look. "Not working. Hasn't worked since I took you on top of your father's desk with him standing outside the door banging to be let in." Xander grinned at the memory. "That's better." He gave his mate a kiss as the doors opened, walking them past the staring elderly couple. "I'm a bride of war," he said cockily. "Xander stole me back." They kept going, ignoring the shocked looks. Xander broke out in giggles once their door was closed. Oz even got to eat before being jumped.
Kana looked at the assembled Precepts and seconds at their last meeting of the convention. "Are there any remaining problems?" he asked. Xander had graciously allowed him to organize and chair this one for him too. He was sitting in the back of the room with a possessive hand on Oz's thigh.
"I've got one," Elizabeth said, standing up and looking around. "I think we should find a way to find a better external cause." Everyone looked confused. "Like the Luna Foundation for the San Francisco group. They have an external and an internal organization going. All the houses should have something similar because some of us are being probed as to what we do."
Martel cleared his throat. "We've covered that we work for the Luna Foundation too," he admitted. "Xander coming over and telling the cops that when he saved our butts made it a better cover. But you're right, you do need one. Someone asked me a few months ago what your house did."
The Cairo Precept stood up and looked around. "I think we should all give this some thought and leave this until the smaller meeting set up in a month's time to look at any remaining issues." That got a round of nods. "Then we can agree to that?"
Xander raised his hand. "You can pretty well become an archeology-themed research foundation," he suggested. "Or a brain trust in that area. That is your major thing and it wouldn't be too hard to set up. Probably, almost everyone thinks that all the houses do independent and unusual research."
"Very true," Cairo's Precept said, smiling at him. "It wouldn't be that hard to do either. We're still not taking that temple dig though." Xander shrugged. "Can the rest of the houses come up with something like that?" he asked the assembled Precepts and Seconds. Everyone nodded. Except for Mary Catherine. "You can't?"
"The Vatican won't let us. They don't ask us what we do, but they know we do research in some of the most ancient and archaic scripts they've ever found. They won't allow us to set up independently though. Not if I'm to stay in the order."
Xander shrugged. "Sorry."
"You don't need one though," Oz put in. "You're already covered. They know you're doing funky research. It's everyone else that needed the help." She nodded and relaxed again. "Does anyone else have a problem with that?" No one said anything. "Then I guess we'll be seeing you all in a month."
Xander stood up. "Anything else to discuss?" No one said anything. "Then I hereby condemn this meeting to ashes and let's all go spoil ourselves for the rest of the night." That got a few laughs. "Last one to the spa has to have the big hairy guy work on his back?" Everyone started to pack up and Oz led Xander out of the conference room, going to the spa. "I didn't mean me, silly," he whispered. "I've been spoiled recently. You need spoiling."
Oz patted him on the back. "I don't need spoiling, Xander. You do that quite well. I just thought you might like a massage." Xander shook his head and smiled. "Okay. Then let's go pack and go face dad." He steered them toward the elevator, going to pack up what little they had bought over the last few days. With their one bag, they called down to the front desk. "We need a cab to the airport please," he requested. "Yes, we're coming down to check out now." He hung up and did one last check of the room, finding Xander's torn and thrown t-shirt from the night before's sexual romp, and stuffed it in a bag. Together, they walked out of the room, checked out, got into a cab and headed home.
Xander opened the front door slowly, not sure what he was going to find waiting on him. Derek had sent the car for them instead of coming down himself. Was he pissed? He peeked inside. "Hello?"
"Get in here," Alex called. "He's helping Philip with Jesus."
Xander and Oz walked in, giving Alex, who was reading in the living room, a hug. "We were as good as we could be," Xander offered.
She laughed. "We heard. They're upstairs in the library." She snickered as they walked away, Xander had already gone back to the sheepish pose. It wouldn't work, but Derek wouldn't be mean to them. It wasn't their fault anyway. She turned the page and started reading again, having to flip back to get the last few sentences.
Xander looked into the library and found Philip standing right beside the door. "Hi," he said, waving.
"Get in here," Philip said, giving him a tug. "Derek, they're back," he called. Derek came out of the control room, frowning at the two young men.
"What? It was a normal vacation for us," Oz complained. "You look like you expected us to not have any problems or injuries."
Derek threw up his hands, shook his head, and went back to work. "I'll expect a full, written report by tonight, boys," he called. "Your luggage is in your bedroom." The control room door closed.
Philip smirked. "Can't stay out of trouble, can ya?" he teased.
"Wasn't our fault," Xander said with a shrug. "What else did you expect? Fun times and a theme park?" He handed over an envelope. "We did it on the plane." He drug Oz out of the house and back to theirs. "We're home!" he yelled as he walked in. "Going upstairs now!" His husband walked along behind him, allowing him to be put into bed. And not alone either. Xander slowly stripped for him and laid down beside him, teasing his mate slowly.
"I'll get you for teasing," Oz warned.
"Yay," Xander said with a grin as he leaned down to lick a nipple.
The woman who had planned Oz's second kidnaping sat down behind her desk, looking at the intelligence reports lying on it. "Hmm. Time to do something to pay that schmuck back," she decided. She got up and headed to her altar. "A little bit of revenge from those he's screwed maybe," she decided, flipping through her books until she found just the right spell. "Yeah, this one," she said in approval. "I can do this."