Junior looked at his desk, then sighed in frustration. He was trying to study but he had laid down to get comfortable. Now he'd have to get up yet again. He blinked as the book he wanted floated over to him, catching it and looking at it. "No wires," he noted, flipping it around. "No devices." He frowned and set it down, considering it. Then he concentrated really hard on wanting it to float up and spin around. It did, going very fast. He slowed it down, then caught it and grinned. "Wow."
"Dinner!" Brandon yelled from the common area.
"Coming." He put his book down and headed out, deciding not to tell anyone about this for now. He wanted to do some more thinking about this neat new thing. He was twelve, it was a really cool gift. Almost as cool as having real x-ray vision for clothes would be. He sat at the table, watching as his greedy older siblings took most of the food, but his father handed him his favorite stuff first so he got more of it. He didn't like baked chicken that much anyway. He glanced up the table again. His relatives were all really pale. He wasn't. He had this smoky, dusty tone to his skin. He cleared his throat and his parents both looked at him, giving him a smile. "Dads, am I old enough to know about my real fathers?"
Oz nodded. "Yeah, I think so. Here or upstairs?"
"I don't care, I'm sure the older kids already know."
"Xandra was only a year old when you came, Junior," Xander pointed out.
"Still, most of us do know Mom screwed around," Brandon agreed. He looked down at Junior. "Mom got really drunk and left."
"Brandon," Oz said sharply. He sighed as he looked at their youngest son. "Your mother was having a lot of problems back in those days. She was drinking heavily. She was messing up her life and trying to drag us down with her. Your father and I used to be with her too, but we ended up sending her away because of her crap." Junior nodded, taking a bite of dinner. "It was decided that she'd be sent to London so William Sloan could straighten her out. He and your grandfather were old friends and he was a really strong willed man so we all thought he could straighten her back out. He lost track of her and she went out on the party circuit."
"They, um, found her at a few different people's apartments," Xander admitted calmly. "You came from one of them. The closest we could figure is that your father was either Hispanic or Indian, and I personally think Indian looking at you now."
Junior grinned. "Okay, that explains why I'm so dark and my hair is red. Did she ever tell him?"
"I don't think anyone ever told anyone," Oz admitted. "Though, the people who went to take Willow back never made it a secret who they were working for as they busted in."
"We demanded the right to take you in," Xander assured him gently, giving him a warm smile. "We wanted you from day one, Junior." He beamed at them and nodded. "But we don't know who your natural father is."
"I'm not looking for him, I just wanted to know if it was something I needed to worry about," he admitted. "Did you guys formally adopt me?"
"Yup, sure did," Xander agreed. "In a round-about way. See, your mother disappeared from the hospital before she could sign the papers giving you to us. Alex was over there because most of the London House was having problems."
"And the judge actually gave you to Alex, saying she had to marry someone. She married Derek, and they've kept the paperwork all this time. But you're still ours."
"Wow." Xandra smiled at them. "So, technically he's theirs, but he's ours really?"
"Basically," Xander agreed dryly, smirking at her. "You were so much easier. Everyone knows you're mine. And those that know about your real father assume he's signed custody over to us."
She laughed and nodded. "He probably has the paperwork in his safe."
"If not, he will by tonight," Oz said dryly. "Just in case. It's about time for another real, family level problem to show up."
"Hey, as long as it's not the little silver aliens, I don't care," Xander told him.
"Good point," Oz agreed, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Eat."
"Eating," Xander pointed out, taking another bite. "Anything else we can kinda tell you, son?"
"Can I grow my hair longer?" Junior asked.
"Sure," Oz agreed. "But if it gets too long, you'll have to start tying it back."
"Okay." He dug into his vegetables, eating heartily like the preteen he was. He looked up again. "When do I get to start special training?" he asked suddenly.
"When you show an affinity beyond that of your age," Xander said firmly. "The others showed that they had affinities very early on and we moved them toward them to make sure they'd have something to do. You've never shown anything like that, son."
"Good point," he said, frowning. "I like the security stuff, but I'm not sure I could do it full time."
"Which is why we haven't pushed you to take any extra classes," Xander reminded him. "When you do, we'll push you toward them and we'll see." Junior nodded, going back to his dinner.
"He shows some affinity for research," Serena offered. "And for copying things."
"He might not work for the Legacy," Oz told her. "Not all the kids will. Most of the other offspring seem to run away screaming." That got some laughs from the kids. "If Junior wants to do something more mundane we'll gladly help and support him doing so. Even if he wanted to get an art degree," he said, grinning at his son, who blushed. "I saw your last homework, son. Interesting but your perspective was off."
"Sorry. I don't know why I was drawing breasts," he admitted with a faint blush.
"You're twelve," Xander reminded him. "It's natural." Junior giggled and blushed brighter. "We'll be talking about that stuff soon too."
"Yes, sir," Junior agreed. He noticed Precious was glancing in his direction and frowned at her. He really didn't like her. She had always hated him for no reason. It wasn't his fault his mother had gotten drunk and fooled around. He considered showing off his new ability to bring the juice to the table but decided against it and got up to get it. "Dad, isn't mom magical or something?" he asked as he brought it back and handed it to Brandon, who also had an empty glass.
"She was," Oz agreed. "That's where Precious gets her nature from. Why?" He looked at their youngest. "Are you feeling stirrings in that way?"
"I don't know. What would it feel like?"
"A tingle in your belly," Xander told him. "I've studied a very little, but the power is like molten gold going through your body."
"Not for me," Precious told him. "For me, it's more like breathing. I expel it as naturally as I do used air. I haven't had a buildup in a while."
"That's because you use it for *everything*," Timmy reminded her. He cleared his throat and glanced at Brandon. "We caught your hair braiding in math the other day, Precious."
"That teacher knows, she's attuned to chaos."
"Still not a wonderful idea," Oz told her firmly. "Magic is one of those things you've got to be careful while using. Not something that's for every little thing."
"Yes, father." She bent back over her food, eating again. "Someone on the island was using magic earlier," she said finally. "It felt farther off."
"Wonderful," Xander said dryly. "Thank you, we'll start looking to see who it was."
"Dad, when can we start taking driving lessons?" Brandon asked suddenly. "We're fourteen, we can get our learners on our next birthday." Both fathers shuddered. "Or we could go ask Grandfather," he offered dryly.
"We're having a Buffy leaning to drive flashback," Xander mused, grinning at him. "We'll see, son."
Xandra gave him a little look. "Me too?"
Oz snorted. "Think again." He looked at the quad. "Even if you did get your learners, you'd still only have two months on it before you'd have to get your license."
"So, can we get our books on our birthday, go for our learners halfway through and get our licenses as a sixteenth birthday present?" Serena suggested. "As a rite of passage?"
Oz gave her a look. "We'll consider it, daughter."
"Thank you, dad." She gave him an innocent look. "We know we'd have to beg for the car for a few years anyway." Both fathers nodded. "But it would be safer if we were legal."
"That way we could escape if necessary," Precious agreed. "Or I could go for my lessons without making you two leave work."
"We'll see," Xander said firmly. The quad piped down and Xander looked at his little girl. "They will ask to see your birth certificate," he pointed out. "This is one of those times your age is going to bite you on the ass."
"Yes, daddy," she sighed. "I can watch them and not make their mistakes though."
"Very true," Oz agreed, grinning at her. "I still don't know who'd teach you to drive." He took the juice to pour himself some then put it back when he went to add more food to his plate. He'd shudder in revulsion later.
Brandon tapped on his grandfather's bedroom door, smiling as Nick opened it and let him inside. The trio was lounging around reading. "Dads said to come ask you this one," he admitted. "We'll be fifteen in two more months. That means we'll be able to get our learners permits." All of them groaned and shuddered. "Why do you do that? Dads did the same thing."
"We're having flashbacks to your Aunt Buffy learning to drive," Nick said dryly.
"She's the one who cracked the gargoyle in the garden," Philip shared. "William came in and got really drunk after working for an hour with her." Brandon's mouth fell open.
"She made me pass out once too," Nick admitted. He laid down on the bed again. "Who did you guys want to teach you?"
"Neither of the fathers are sure who'd be doing that," he admitted. "We'd like to get our licenses as soon as possible of course, even though we'd have to beg for the car until we were off to college." Derek gave him a smug look. "Or beg you for one of the extra ones," he agreed dryly. Derek shook his head. "No?" he asked, looking hurt.
"Putting you on our insurance would triple it for each of you," Derek told him.
"For each car," Nick added. "I already cost you guys enough." Derek nodded, giving him a look.
"Okay, so we'd be put onto the fathers' insurances," Brandon agreed, smirking at them. "If they relent. Who would that duty fall to?"
"Your fathers," Nick told them. "I finished Buffy's driving lessons."
"I doubt I have the patience," Derek admitted.
Philip snickered. "No, ya don't. I don't drive that often," he admitted. "Otherwise I'd offer."
"What about Auntie Alex?"
"She's a very goot driver," Derek agreed. "You can ask her. She might get Precious through at the least." Brandon grinned. "You could also ask your nanny or Adam."
"Good point. Thanks, Grandfather." He blew a kiss as he stood up. "I'd better get back. Oh, Precious felt someone using magic somewhere on the island. She couldn't pinpoint it though." He waved and left, closing the door behind him.
"Hopefully it was benevolent," Philip said grimly.
"If it wasn't, then we'll be warned," Derek soothed, stroking his arm. Nick came over to lay behind Philip, holding him. Derek took his front, soothing him the old-fashioned way.
Junior looked up as his math teacher walked up to his desk and dropped a note onto it, then walked past. He tucked it under his test, going back to it. That was strange, but nothing too out of the ordinary. It clearly wasn't to his parents though. He'd read it after he got done, during the break between classes. As soon as he handed it in, he headed into the hall to read it.
See me before you leave. We need to talk about your new abilities.
"Hmm." He crumpled it up and tossed it away, heading for his next class. "Abilities? Plural?" he asked himself. He concentrated on his locker's dial, opening it before he got there. "That is really cool," he hissed as he opened it. He made sure no one had seen him then grabbed his next few books, slamming once it was done. Then he went to wait outside his English class. This bore some thought as well.
Junior knocked on his classroom's door then walked in at the grunt. "You wanted to see me, ma'am?" he asked politely.
"Come in, Junior." She put down her pen and looked at him. "First, you nearly flunked your test. I expect better from you," she said firmly. He sighed and nodded. "You can take the makeup tomorrow."
"Why? I mean, if I flunked it, I did."
"I have the feeling you were too busy to study last night," she said, leaning back in her chair. "I believe you've learned how to do some new things and you were probably playing with them all night. Am I correct?" He blushed and nodded, ducking his head. "Am I also right that it's something harmless?"
"I'm telekinetic," he admitted.
She laughed. "No, you're not. That's a totally different sense of power. You're magical, boy." She stood up. "As I am, as your oldest sister is." He looked at her. "It's also very clear that you'll be following in my path. The fact that chaos floats around you like the wind during a monsoon storm is very telling."
"My mother's a chaos witch, now," he told her. "Precious isn't."
"No, she's selfish," she agreed, giving him a smile. "You, on the other hand, have quite a future ahead of you, young man. Even if you do take training from your fathers and uncles, you've still got a very bright future within the world of chaos magic. It glows around you." She tipped his face up, making him look at her. "You must be very careful about whom you approach about this knowledge. There are those who would drain you and use it." He nodded, getting his chin free. "I'm not like that."
"I'm sure you're not, ma'am, but I'd have to go to whomever my parents choose for me," he said, backing away from her. "Speaking of, Jon'll be here soon. I'll be very careful, ma'am," he promised, heading outside at a dead run. He panted as he ran into Timmy. The girls weren't there yet so he was still okay. "I'm in deep shit," he said, looking up at his big brother. Timmy frowned and led him away to talk to him. "I'm either telekinetic or magical." Timmy's mouth fell open. "So is the math teacher." He nodded briskly. "She just approached me about her training me. I kept getting 'tasty morsel' vibes from her. I don't know what the hell is going on but you can't tell Xanny or Precious."
"Xandra would understand," Timmy said gently, calming him down. "She really would."
"She *hates* Precious for what she does and the teacher said I'm a chaos person, that it's floating around me."
"Then we'll go talk to Uncle Philip. He'll know what to do and won't tell the dads." He gave him a hair ruffle. "It's possible since Mom had you while she was changing over." He walked him back to the van. "A girl hit on him," he explained. Brandon grinned at him. "How was your math test?"
"I nearly flunked. She's letting me do the makeup tomorrow." Timmy looked at him and he nodded. "Yeah, I am. I didn't even have to ask. She thought I didn't study."
"Well, now you've got an extra day and we can help," Timmy said firmly. Brandon nodded. "Uncle Philip wanted to give us a book anyway. He wanted us to go to college for more than our areas. Wants us to take some sort of wacky career test." Jon came out with the girls, chatting with them. They had a conference with a teacher that he had been attending. The girls had been fighting in the halls again because Serena was embarrassed by Precious and Xandra had been trying to mediate. "We ready? Junior's got to study hard tonight because his math teacher's making him do the makeup test tomorrow because he nearly flunked the one today."
Serena gave him a hug. "I'll help if I can," she promised, giving him a smile. "Let's go home and get that stuff with Uncle Philip over with." She shooed the boys into the van in front of her, noticing Jon was giving Junior's back a funny look. "Something wrong?"
"I didn't know this was a second-chance school about tests," he admitted.
"It's not but the math teacher is pretty odd sometimes," she shared, getting into her usual seat.
Philip smiled as the kids all wandered in from school, settling them around the large table in the library. "Here," he said, handing out copies of the test. "Try these. We'll see what comes of it," he promised.
"Uncle Philip, Junior and I need to talk to you anyway," Timmy told him. "He got hit on today." Philip blushed. "I think it'd be better if he came to you *first*." He gave the man a meaningful look. "I really do. We don't want any mom-sorta accidents to happen."
Philip swallowed. "Sure. Take this and let me score it. We'll do that after I grade 'em. Remember, there's no right or wrong answers. Do them honestly. This'll help some of you find other areas you'll want to look at." He sat down to watch them, glancing at Junior. He wished he had the Sight. Timmy's words had been more of a clue than needed. Was something like a banshee or a siren coming after the boy? He got up, going to get them some sodas and talk to Derek. "Derek," he said as he walked in. "Timmy said I needed to talk ta him and Junior about girls?"
Derek coughed. "If they want you to do so, do the best you can."
"He said something about not wanting another Willow incident."
Derek sat up straighter. "I doubt it has anything to do with girls then," he said, more than certain now.
Timmy walked in and locked the door. "No, it actually does. Junior was approached by our math teacher to train him. He got 'tasty morsel' feelings from her." Derek's mouth fell open. "He said he's either telekinetic or a chaos person according to her. He's freaked, he came running out of the school. She's letting him take a second chance at the math test he nearly flunked today." Derek's mouth fell open. "Seeing the problem?"
"Very," Philip agreed. "Is he all right?"
"He's a good boy," Derek told him. "It'll be fine." He smiled at Timmy. "We'll handle it."
"I'll handle it," Philip agreed.
"All right," Derek agreed. "You can test him for that?" Philip nodded. "Fine. Report back to me." Philip nodded and led the boy out to get the sodas. Derek put down his head, shaking it. "Why me?" he complained into the old wood.
Philip sat Junior down, looking him over. "Timmy told me what's really going on," he said gently. Junior relaxed. "It's entirely possible you're a chaos person. We've got some minor tests to tell that. We'll do those this weekend. First, I need ta know if you're gonna explode with it. Are you feeling a pooling or a building sensation?"
"No, not at all. I floated a book and I undid the lock on my locker at school," he told him. "I'm not sure I'm not simply telekinetic."
"We can test for that too," Philip agreed with a small smile. "That'll be something else. We do it around the teen years so your da's don't get upset." Timmy relaxed more. "If it turns out ya are, we'll have to have a *long* talk about responsibility."
"I'm not like that," Junior complained.
"I know, and we'll make sure you'll never turn into your sister," he said firmly. Junior gave him a grateful smile. "I'm not sure about teaching you though. We'll deal with that later. When did it manifest?"
"Last night. I floated over a book."
"Hmm. Your sister?"
"Possibly. She glared at me all night," he admitted. "I can do it again if it'll help her."
"No, she reported feeling one an hour ago," Philip admitted.
"I didn't use it an hour ago," Junior told him.
"I noticed," he promised, sitting beside the boy. "This can be a dangerous power, Junior. We don't want to see ya hurt or any of it. I definitely don't want ya usin' it before you're fully trained without telling someone. All sorts of things can go wrong in chaos."
"Yes, Uncle Philip," he agreed.
"Good boy." He gave him a hug. "Go home, get ready for supper, then we'll talk some more tomorrow since it'll be the weekend." Junior nodded and hugged him back before rushing off. "Why me?" he asked, looking up. "Will he be okay? Please let him be okay? He shouldn't pay for his mother's mistakes." He felt peace steal across his soul and knew it'd be fine. He graded that one's test first. Maybe he'd be able to find a normal job and not go bad.
Junior looked up from taking his retest, frowning at the clock. Was it frozen in place? He finished his last problem and stood up, but felt a wave of dizziness overtake him. He clutched the desk as hard as he could, coughing loudly. The teacher looked up and grimaced. "I'm done but I'm really dizzy, ma'am. May I please be excused now?"
"Go," she said with a wave of her hand.
Junior started to feel better immediately so he grabbed his bag and pencil, handing her the test as he walked out of the classroom. He checked the clock in the hall, it was twenty minutes later than it had been in the classroom. He frowned and went to the rest of his lunch period, needing to find his big brothers now. Instead, he found Precious waiting against his locker. "Hey." She got out of his way. "How hard is it to stop time?" he asked quietly, not looking at her.
"Teacher." He glanced at her. "There was a twenty minute difference between math class's clock and the hall clock when I came out," he said quietly, glancing around. The other students in the hall were really noisy. "Why were you waiting on me?"
"I figured out something last night when you were brushing your teeth," she said dryly. He had the grace to blush. "How long?"
"A day." He closed his locker and looked at her. "I've already told Uncle Philip. He's testing me."
"Good." She tipped his chin up. "Stay away from her. I mean it." He nodded so she let him go. "Good boy. Go eat." He jogged off, going to scarf his food while she went to have a ...talk with the math teacher. She knocked politely, then walked inside and locked the door. "Leave my brother alone," she said quietly. The teacher gave her a heated glare. "I mean it. You don't know who his mother is or how overprotective our fathers are. You have no idea what'll happen if you mess with Junior. Oh, and that whole time stopping thing? I'm not the only one in the school who felt it. I wouldn't be surprised if someone, like say our nanny, felt it as well." She unlocked the door and walked out, slamming it behind her.
The teacher smirked at the closed door. "We'll see who controls that one," she sneered. "We shall see, Precious."
Precious walked into the computer lab and signed in, checking her email. Her mother's last one had an email address to write to her at, a formal one. She wrote to it there, then responded to the last message as well, just to make sure she got it somehow. She wasn't qualified to deal with the teacher, but her mother sure was. She finished sending it and checked her other ones, finding the new one from Oz. She smirked as she opened it and answered it, telling him to ask Philip about what was going on with Junior. She also noted that his scary father routine might not go amiss sometime soon. Then she checked the other ones. Nothing from her mother. Damn! She sighed and wrote a second message to the formal address, hoping she was checking it daily still. The bell rang so she logged off and signed out, heading back to the math classroom for her own session. Not that she took her books or anything, she wanted to watch the woman in action.
Oz tapped on the doorway, walking into the lab. "What are you doing with our son now?" he asked. Philip stiffened. "Philip?" he asked calmly.
Philip sighed and looked at him. "Junior told me he'd been floating things now for two days."
"Okay." He looked at the printed off email message, then handed it over. "What does that have to do with his math teacher?"
"She's a chaos person and said he was," Philip told him calmly. "We can't be sure yet."
"Fuck!" Oz said, shaking his head. "I had hopes when Precious turned out to not love chaos." He walked out, sighing in defeat. "Xan?" he called. "Need to talk to you."
Philip walked into the room they were in. "Not all chaos people are bad, Oz. Some have done good, it's just the manner of their powers."
"I know, but I want to be braced for the worst," Oz reminded him.
"Still. He's not having a buildup. Willow did so much being a chaos person."
"Yeah, and then the power overwhelmed her," Xander said from the doorway. "Who's going that way?"
"Junior," Oz said bitterly. Xander slumped a little. "His math teacher apparently approached him."
"He went to tell Timmy as soon as he got away from her and Timmy told me so we can test him," Philip promised. "We're doin' that this weekend. He didn't want you two ta know yet."
"Well, yeah, we might throw big fits about it," Xander said firmly. "No building?"
"No, not yet," Philip told him. "Only some minor floating and manipulating locks."
"Okay. I can deal with that. He'll need a good teacher," Xander said, walking into the room. Oz gave him a disbelieving look. "You'd rather have him learn it on his own?"
"No," Oz told him. "I'd rather not have to worry about another band candy incident, or another Halloween incident."
"Junior won't turn that way," Philip said firmly. "You two've raised him right. He's damn scared what this means already. If you two have problems, then get 'em out now." He stood up again. "Derek already knows. He told me to test the boy. Junior was right, he's a responsible little boy, he won't go bad like his Ma."
"Willow started out good too," Oz reminded him. "Ethan Rayne probably didn't start out using it for shits and giggles either."
"We can't tell Rupert," Xander said quietly. "How did you find out?"
"I intercepted a message from Precious to Willow." He looked at Philip. "This math teacher?"
"I checked this morning, she's not in the database. What did Precious say?"
"That she was bad news and had offered to teach Junior," Oz said, slumping against his mate's side. "I don't think she likes her. She asked her mother to send in someone better for the kid."
"If she doesn't, we'll have to," Xander admitted. "Chaos powers are too unpredictable to leave untrained. Though I doubt he'll be working for the Legacy."
"No, he won't be able to," Philip agreed with a small smile. Xander was always practical. "His interest tests came up interesting. Art, archeology, and related fields."
"Which suits him, he's always doodling," Oz admitted. He looked up at his mate. "Should we ask Precious' trainer?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so. She's too straight." He stroked Oz's back for him. "We'll worry when we have to worry, not before." Oz nodded, relaxing totally. "Anything else come up yet?"
"He's not the one Precious is feeling going off," Philip told them. Derek cleared his throat from the doorway. "Yes?" He smiled at him. "We're discussing Junior."
"We'll do what we can to soften the blow of him not being allowed near any Legacy property," Derek said.
Xander glared at him. "Please rephrase that. It sounded like you wanted us to send our son away from our house."
Derek shook his head. "There's no need of that. I meant the control room, Xander. Nothing further. He's not allowed into the database, the control room, or anything else that you didn't know about before we told you." Xander relaxed again. "The *tradition* is that a minor child is still allowed at home, until he either commits an overt act of magic against the Legacy, or until he turns eighteen. Then he's usually sent away from the house he was raised in."
"Fat chance," Oz said firmly. "He's still our son."
"That's why I said traditionally. With your house being down there, it shouldn't be much of a problem."
"I doubt he'd create an overt action, unless we forced him to," Xander said bitterly. "I'm not giving up my children for the Legacy, Derek."
Derek nodded, holding in his shudder. "I've heard that before and I agree," he said calmly. "We all do what we must and make the decisions that feel right to us." Xander nodded and they left to talk to their son. Derek sat down, pulling Philip closer to hold him. "Rachel said the same thing once," he admitted quietly.
"I doubt they'll go her way," Philip reminded him. "Xander could never do that."
"True," he agreed, smiling up at him. "How is the boy?"
"Junior's fine, Derek. He's not very powerful that I can tell." He got free. "I'd best get back there before he's forced to start doubting himself." He headed back to the testing lab, going to reassure the boy and make sure he knew he was still loved and wanted by his family.
Derek put his head back, staring at the ceiling. "There have been some very powerful priests and nuns who have been chaos people," he reminded himself. "Including a few healers."
Junior faced down his math teacher on Monday, giving her a bland, yet interested look like his sister Xandra had suggested. She gave him a sideways look but he ignored it. He knew what was going on at the house, Philip had explained it to him. Then his fathers had explained it to him and how they were going to break some of the rules for him. His teacher glanced at him again but he ignored her to continue taking notes. Serena said math was important to doing chaos magic so he needed to get better at it quickly so he could harness his powers and not become a danger to everyone in the world. He looked up as the teacher called his name, getting up to do the problem on the board. He grimaced when he saw what it was. "This is the thing we went over first?" he asked. She nodded, arms crossed as she watched him. He could feel her working a bit on him and he resisted it. He could do this problem, even though he didn't understand. He started slowly, doing as well as he could. He finally finished and looked at her, handing back the chalk. "Is that correct?"
"Nearly. You forgot the negative," she pointed out, making him frown at the board. "Oh, I forgot it," she said when she noticed it wasn't there. "Sorry. Go back to your seat, Junior." He nodded and went back, going back to his note taking. She put another one on the board and let another student come up to do it, staring at Junior. He was strong, he had resisted her attempts to help him.
Junior sat on the playground, watching his sister flirt with an older boy with disgust. He felt a nudge and looked back to find Timmy behind him. "Precious is being obvious, I'm taking tips so I don't fall for someone like her."
"Good." He sat beside his brother, giving him another nudge. "You okay?"
"Fine. Uncle Philip explained the corporate mindset and then the dads explained how and where they were willing to break it." He grimaced. "I still say it sucks."
"It does," Timmy agreed, "but you've never really gotten into the work anyway, Junior."
"I know." He shifted, curling up on himself. "I don't want to be sent away either. They all said the rules forbid me from entering the house once I reach majority."
"So we'll come visit you," Timmy pointed out. "They can't stop any of us from visiting you."
"Yeah, I guess." He groaned when he saw Xandra walk out with the boy who was fascinated by her. "Can't I get him?"
"No, Junior. Those urges are wrong," Timmy said gently, staring him down. "Even if I want to as well, we can't. We have to wait until he proves he's a shitbag." Junior grinned at him. "Then, of course, he becomes a legal target for the family if he hurts her." He winked and grinned back. "Got it?" Junior nodded. "Good boy." He ruffled his hair. "You need a hair cut."
"I know. We've been so busy I haven't wanted to bother anyone."
"Please! Do you honestly think Daddy Xander won't want a few hours away from the work if it's not critical?"
"Yeah, but it has been," Junior pointed out.
"I know. So we'll beg a stop on the way home tonight at the nearest mall. Jon'll take Precious and Serena shopping while Brandon heads for the bookstore and I head for the computer store. You and Xandra can get your hair cut."
"I could probably manage that myself," Junior pointed out.
"Yeah, but why bother? This way you've got someone to talk to," he shared, reaching over to pinch him on the nose. "Also, that way you don't get snatched while we're at the mall. You're still a pretty little guy."
"Good point," he agreed dryly. "Of course, you saying that means I'll be the tallest of all of us."
"True, you will," Timmy agreed, smiling at the girl who was walking over to them. "Yes?"
"I heard you two were brothers."
"Half," Junior told him. "Our mother slept around after her divorce."
"Oh." She blinked a few times. "I guess that explains why you're so different looking." She smiled at them. "Can I steal Timmy?"
"Only if he agrees. Otherwise I'll have to sic Brandon on you," Junior told her, looking deadly serious.
Timmy laughed. "Quit, Junior. She won't kidnap me in the literal sense." He winked again and followed the girl from his science class off to talk to her. "Sorry, he's very protective."
"Of course he is. As are your sisters. Serena warned me off talking to you too."
Timmy snickered but he did glare at his sisters where they were gathered on the other side of the yard. "They're fun, but not necessarily that smart." He grinned at her again. "What can I help you with?"
"The biology notes from last week. I spilled soda on mine. Can I get yours to copy?"
"I'm storing all my past notes at home but I can copy them for you," he offered. She grinned and nodded. "Not a problem. We've got a copier in the office. Which day?"
"Sure." She kissed him on the cheek and hurried off. He touched his cheek, watching her walk away. "Wow. A girl kissed me and she wasn't related to me." He shook his head before one of his siblings could say anything about his head and inflation, watching as Xandra had to slap the guy who had been following her because his hand had tried to go up her skirt. One of the teachers came over to yell at her while he was heading over to help.
"He stuck his hand up my skirt!" Xandra said angrily. "Feel lucky I only slapped him! I could have taken his head off!"
The teacher looked at both children. "Fine. What he did was wrong. You could have complained instead of hitting him however."
"I'm damn well going to hit the next one who does it too," she said, starting to glare. "I don't need some nasty, grungy male touching me under my clothes. I'm not ready for that yet and I don't like him. I've tried being nice all week about it, but he still follows me around panting like some cartoon wolf. If this keeps up, I'm going to file a harassment claim. I don't need boys yet!" She stomped off, heading into the bathroom.
"She's a year younger than us," Precious told the boy, who looked stunned. "That year shows in some things. I suggest you leave her alone."
"Yes, as do I," Brandon agreed from behind him. "Xandra is very particular about the guys she likes. She only likes smart men with good senses of humor and who can work out with her. Being obvious is not the way to go with her if you *really* must have her." He looked at Timmy. "Is that the sound of inflation I hear?"
"I'll get you for that later," Timmy noted dryly, looking at the boy. "Don't try that again. I saw the so-not-subtle slide up her skirt from across the yard. You touch Xandra over all our dead bodies if she doesn't like you. The same as Precious' boyfriend does." That boy swallowed. "Got it?" The boy in question nodded, looking at his feet. "Good. Go away." He nodded, following the teacher to the office. "Serena, Xandra could probably use a shoulder. I have no doubt she's confused."
"She likes boys," Serena noted.
"I know she does, but she's been having one of those tough bitch weeks. She's never really understood guys and I'm guessing she's panicking." Serena nodded, walking off to find their younger sister. "Junior and I wanted to stop at the mall on the way home. Anyone got a problem with that?"
"I do," Brandon admitted. "They need us at home to help. Can't you order it?"
"Junior needs a haircut."
"Oh." He grimaced. "Maybe this weekend then," he said with a shrug. "Soon definitely. If not, we can help him trim it or something." He wandered off, going back to his book.
Precious looked at her boyfriend, who looked very worried. "Don't worry, the boys are only protective against the bad people in the world," she said with a smile. "As long as you're good to me, you never have to worry."
"I'll try," he agreed, still looking stunned. "I know you and Xandra can both kick my ass."
"And then some," she agreed smugly. She settled herself down again, getting comfortable until their break was over with.
Xandra looked up as she walked into the training room that afternoon, giving her teacher and mentor a pitiful look. "Is it wrong for me to assert my claim to pick who tries to grope my thighs?"
"No," he said, frowning at her. "Did someone try?" She nodded, still looking miserable. "Did you hit him?"
"A minor slap. I got detention for it." She sat down with a miserable sigh. "The teacher said I should have reported him."
"I'd have kicked his bloody ass," Methos told her, giving her a hug. "He would have deserved it." She gave him a hopeful look. "Do your fathers know?"
"Yup, I got the nice note and had to explain myself to Daddy Oz already." Methos nodded. "He said the same thing, but I've still got detention." She cuddled against his chest. "Why can't I find a nice guy like you to follow me around?"
"Because men like I am are rare," he pointed out. He rolled his eyes. He wasn't ready for her to have a crush on him. She pinched him. "Yes?"
"I don't like you like that. I like the qualities you show around me, Uncle Methos. How you listen and how you joke and spar with me. The brains and the brawn, with some beauty thrown in. That's what I want in a mate."
"I'm sure you'll find someone who's enough of all three for you," he soothed, pulling her closer. "You are a remarkable young woman, Alexandra. Only someone very special would ever understand you and you should never settle for anyone less." Nick Boyle walked in and gave them a long look. "She had a boy at school try to grope her today. It's nothing more than that."
"I know you'd never even consider hitting on her," Nick agreed.
"Eww, Uncle Nick. He's ancient in more ways than one," she protested. "Find me a younger version of him and I'm for it, but not him. He changed my diapers. That's just icky." She stood up and headed out of the training room. "I'm going to get ice cream to erase that image from my mind before I have nightmares."
Nick chuckled. "Good. I was worried she might have a crush," Nick told him. "We've got another book in Sumatran if you wanted to look it over."
"Sure," Methos agreed, standing up and following him back to the house. "I agree, I changed her diapers, that is an icky thought."
Nick smirked. "Good." He patted him on the back, leaving him in the library while he went to tell Derek about what he had heard. He walked into the office. "Xandra got groped against her will at school today."
Derek frowned at him. "I heard. She slapped him."
"Good! That's what she should have done!"
"The teacher gave her detention with the admonishment to tell her next time."
"Bet me! Girls should handle that on their own," Nick said firmly. Derek smiled at him. "Anything new with Junior?"
"Just that the boy needs a haircut," he noted, going back to his paperwork. "Did Methos get the book?"
"Yup, and he was comforting her after school today." Derek looked at him. "She said he's ancient and it's an icky thought because he had changed her diapers. He agreed."
"Excellent. I know I worried about a possible crush on him." Nick grinned at him. "Was there anything else?"
"We're set up for tonight. Xander is already there with Alex and Philip."
"Excellent. Go eat, it'll be a long night." Nick nodded and headed out and Derek finally got back to his desperately needed paperwork.
Junior looked up as the calling feeling started, grimacing. "No," he said, firming up his shields like his sisters had taught him. He wasn't going to follow it. He didn't know who it was but they weren't familiar. He went back to his comic book, firmly putting them out of his mind. It got stronger, bleeding through his shields. He glared at the door nearest him. "No," he said more firmly. "I'm not going."
"Not going where?" Methos asked as he walked in to check on him.
"Someone's outside calling out to me," he said, looking at him. Methos was looking confused, not a normal sight. "We just found out, I have chaos abilities."
"Ah." He nodded. "Do you know who it is?"
"No, which is why I'm not going." He settled himself more firmly on the couch, going back to his comic book. Methos sat down near him. "I won't go."
"I don't think you would," Methos agreed, giving him a small smirk. "You're much smarter than to take the first offering given to you. You're more than smart enough to look at all your opportunities and pick the one that would best suit and help you." Junior relaxed. "Of course, you might want to let the person know that you know they're there."
Junior snorted and shook his head. "He knows I can feel him." He turned the page, moving on with his reading. "Methos, is there a lot of math in magic? Serena said there was."
"Measurements I suppose," he said, considering it. "Herbs, potions, things like that." Junior looked at him. "Possibly some area and that sort of measurements."
"Cool." He grinned then he went back to his reading. "The real Methos doesn't have any silver in his hair. Which one are you?"
"Not the idiot outside," he noted, getting comfortable. "Though I was being honest. You should consider all options, young Derek." Junior looked at him again, putting down his comic book. "I can teach you, but I'm not offering. You're not of my sort of magic really." He smirked. "You're much more like your father from what I can see. Young Philip outside isn't of that school either, he's more like your mother. You're an elemental chaos person. I am a neutral, play-both-sides sort. Your mother is a nature witch underneath it all. Do you understand the differences?" Junior nodded, sitting up to stare at him. "There are hardly any teachers with your style of magic. Your natural father is one. His twin brother. His youngest sister is as well but she's not highly trained." He smiled sadly. "Unfortunately you'll be spending most of your training on your own or working with someone who is at best imperfect for your needs and at worst will screw you up horribly." He stood up and pulled a list out of his back pocket, handing it over. "These are the books you should start with. They're mostly readily available and if you can't find them, call your mother. Occult books are easier to find in Europe." He smiled and patted the boy on the head. "Welcome to the community, young Derek William Harris-Osbourne. Call on us if you have any problems."
"Who are you really?"
"I'm Ethan Rayne," he said smugly. "A cousin of Derek's." He winked. "Don't worry, your fathers know me and hate me."
"Cool. So does Uncle Rupert. He's back in Japan right now." He curled up a little bit. "Does my mother know you're here?"
"No, she's trying to find your father to see if he has any teachers in mind. He's being a bit stubborn." He gave him another smug look. "On the other hand, I've seen a few of you in the past. Try not to boil a fountain. It's flashy and showy, but people will complain if it cracks the thing. Trust me on this." He nodded and left, heading into the night to have a word with the young idiot in the garden. He grabbed him, returning to his usual form. "He's an elemental."
"He's Willow's son!"
"He is. He's also his father's son. You would know that if you had ever looked on him. He won't be coming out. You might as well give up." He walked away, heading off to find his car and leave this island before one of the guardians found him and had him thrown into the bay again. Xander was quite fierce about his children.
The other guy frowned but followed suit. If Ethan had talked to him and knew what his area was he didn't have a chance. Ethan Rayne was famous and one of the top people in the field so they nearly respected him.
Inside, Junior got up to go back to his room to search the books on Barnes and Noble. They were even listed in order to be read. That guy had been very helpful. He wrote his mother a quick email, copying the list into it to see if she wanted him to add to it.
Everyone trooped back into the house, finding Junior floating above the couch in the kids' common area. Xander coughed and woke Junior up, making him fall with a squeak of alarm. "Morning, son," he said dryly, giving him a long look. "Having a good dream?" His son blushed. "Thought so." He patted the other kids and sent them to their rooms before he came over to give him a hug. "Did anything happen?"
"Two things," Junior admitted. "Someone tried to get me into the garden to take me on as a student but I resisted and someone pretending to be Methos came in and told me where my abilities laid and what books to read. You know him, he's that cousin of Grandpa's."
"Ethan?" Oz asked. Junior nodded. "Huh. Gonna kill him."
"He didn't offer, daddy," Junior swore, getting to his knees to look at them. "He told me he wasn't offering and he told me I've got elemental magic." Both fathers looked impressed. "Then he went and stopped the guy in the garden. He said I'm a lot like my biological sperm donor. That mom was looking for him at the moment to see if he wanted to teach me long distance. He said I'm pretty rare but that I'm not going to find many teachers. He gave me a book list," he said proudly.
"Congratulations," Xander told him, giving him another hug. "It's good that you know those things."
"I'm still going to kill Ethan," Oz noted, giving his son a grin. "Find any online?"
"Most of them. I ordered the first one so you guys could look it over before I did." They nodded. "That's okay, right?"
"Definitely," Oz agreed, coming in to give him a hug. "We still love you, even if you do belch and make the bay surge up sometime." He patted him on the head. "Go to bed. School tomorrow and a haircut afterwards now that the problems are over."
"Yes, daddy," he said, giving them both hard hugs before heading into his bedroom.
Oz looked at Xander. "Do you want to track Ethan or tell Derek?" he asked as they walked out.
"You tell Philip, I'll look him up online," Xander suggested. "Then if we have to hack a database we can." Oz nodded, going to do that after kissing his mate.
Xandra looked up as the new boy at school sat down next to her and squeaked. "Hi," she managed finally. "Needed something?"
He smiled. "Relax, I'm a nice guy." He saw her relax and smirked at her. "I know of your family, Xandra, and I wanted to introduce myself and see if we could become study buddies. I need to catch up in English and I hear that's your field around here."
She swallowed. "Serena does it very well too but she's a year higher than we are." She smiled. "How do you know my family?"
"Oh, this and that, but mostly because we do some minor magic. We knew your mother but we respect your fathers and the work they do." She relaxed totally and beamed at him, making him feel funny. "Can we study together?"
"Sure," she agreed. "It might take some arranging. How's your schedule?"
He pulled it out and compared it with the one she had written in her notebook. "It looks like we've got study hall together," he offered.
"I tend to spend that one napping but I'll forego it for a brilliant mind." He chuckled and blushed. She grinned. "Sorry, couldn't resist."
"Hey, it's okay. As long as you like me for more than my mind."
"We'll see," she told him, grabbing her books as the bell rang. "I'll see you at study hall. Most of my notes are at home so we'll go over the plays we've done so far so I know what to copy and bring you."
"Thanks, Xandra." He stood up and brushed back his dark hair before leaving for his math class.
She watched him walk away with a goofy grin on her face. "Wow. Beauty and brains." Brandon walked past and nudged her, giving her a look. "What?" she asked defensively.
"Nothing," he said with a small smirk. "Nice to see you like the guy. He's really nice." She fell into step beside him. "I've seen nothing but good things of him," he assured her. She smiled at him. "Class," he said when she passed by the door. She hurried in there and went to stare out the window of advanced physics. He chuckled and went to his computer class with Timmy. "Xanny likes someone," he whispered in his brother's ear.
Timmy put a 'brb' in his open chat window and looked at his twin. "She does what?"
Brandon smirked again. "Yeah. Someone *I* approve of from what I've seen of him."
"Interesting," he said smugly. "Of course she'll kick our asses if we pick on her about it."
"Of course," he agreed. "Junior will start having jealous fits as well."
"Good point," Timmy admitted, looking up as the teacher walked in, then back at his brother. "We'll have to watch this carefully and get daddy to talk to her about choices and offering stuff."
Brandon nodded, his calmness returning. Xandra wouldn't be the one who would offer her first boyfriend inclusion into the pack, she wasn't like that. She would be more careful than that but they probably should keep an eye on her. As the pack's alpha bitch, her mate would automatically have a high spot in the hierarchy. He turned on his own computer. "Your girlfriend is waiting," he pointed out.
Timmy typed in a response to her latest message and got back into his chat window. "We probably shouldn't tell Precious either."
"No, not a good idea," Brandon agreed. "Talk about jealous snits."
Timmy snickered. "I won't tell her you said that about her."
"Thanks. Think she'll like him enough to bring him home to meet the other teacher?"
"Let's hope he'll agree. He's pretty protective of Xanny."
"True," Brandon agreed lightly. That was the one adult who could make Xandra give up anyone or anything. Methos was the one advisor she always went to for advice and she would listen if he said to dump the boy. He'd have to pull him aside later and talk to him before Xandra told him herself. He needed to be prepared.
Methos looked up as Xandra jogged in directly from school. He could see Jon parking the van out the window, then turned to look at her. "Another groping attempt?" he hazarded.
She beamed and shook her head. "No, a guy who likes the same characters in the same plays I do, and believes that there's more depth to them than the teacher gave them credit for," she said happily.
He kept his face calm and smiling, even though he wanted to interrogate her. "Tell me more," he said, coming over to put an arm around her shoulders and lead her away to talk in his rooms.
Willow finally found the object of her former desire in the pub he was supposed to be in and walked up to him, putting a picture next to his free hand. He looked at her, then at it, then back at her. "Yeah, it's me. I barely remember you, and you probably feel the same about me."
The father of her baby boy shook his head. "I remember quite clearly, Willow Rosenburg. What of the boy?"
"He's got your abilities, not mine," she said quietly. He sighed as he put down his beer. "I can't teach him elemental anything. His fathers are gathering around to protect him from their job. I figured you might know someone who I can recommend to teach him."
He turned to look at her. "There aren't any. My brother and I are it." She slumped a little. "However," he said bitterly. "I probably should at least talk to the boy."
"I doubt Xander will let you anywhere near him. He's very protective of all my kids." He gave her a dirty look. "All I need is how best to train him. If you want to meet him, then that's between you, him, and his fathers."
He nodded. "Understandable. I'll watch over the boy for a bit. Have you heard anything else?"
"Ethan went to him, gave him a list of books to start on. Fairly comprehensive, all theory and little to do with practice. He sent me the list." She pulled out the email and handed it over. "I know he's got the first one ordered but he'll let his fathers read it first. His math teacher is trying to suck him in. A few of the other practitioners in 'Frisco have tried for him but Ethan let it be known he had your gifts instead of mine. It hasn't stopped his math teacher yet," she admitted. "There's no teachers?"
"Not a single one," he admitted. "My brother is a horrible teacher of the basics. I do very well in that but we haven't had many students come to us. There aren't many of us." He stared her down. "I will have to start a relationship with him."
"That's between you, him, and his fathers," she repeated. "I only protect Junior. His fathers adore him, but the quad is mine more than anything else."
"I had heard of your daughter, the chosen one." She grimaced. "I hear she's very strong."
"Plus well protected. They're a pack." He looked awed. "Like I said, Xander is very protective of his children."
He nodded. "That's fine. I'll watch the boy and meet with him around the holidays. He should know about my side of the family at least." He looked at the picture. "He looks almost exactly like my brother."
"And you," she pointed out. "It took a DNA test for me to figure out which one of you I had jumped." She snorted when he gave her another dirty look. "What? I admit I was young, stupid, upset, and drunk. I'm just glad someone cared enough to protect him from my stupidity. That's why I let Xander and Oz have him."
"Which was very decent of you," he agreed dryly. "Thank you, Willow."
"Welcome. Try not to confuse or hurt the kid. His father's job would be trying to kick him out of the house sooner. I know they're fighting it but there are those who would have him sent away, even at his age." She walked out, leaving this in his hands. She did write back to her son so he could be on the lookout. Then she sent a warning to the witch trying to lure her son in against his will. Her wrath would be felt by the math teacher if she continued.
The man stared at the picture, then put it into his pocket and waved for another drink while he called his brother. "You were correct, Rosenburg was looking for me," he admitted in greeting. "My son is just like us." He chuckled meanly. "True. He does need a teacher. He is strong from what I've heard. I've agreed to look the boy over. Perhaps he's what we need to go against the family?" He listened to the wise advice. "If you say so. She said they're very protective, emphasized it even. Said they're a pack." He laughed again. "Very well. I said I'd introduce myself near the holidays. Of course you can pop around to look in on him, brother. I would be delighted in your opinion." He hung up and paid for his drink as soon as it was brought over, taking it to a dark corner to drink while he made plans on how his son could get him what he had wanted, a way to take down the Legacy.