Title: Protective Instincts
Author/pseudonym: Voracity
Email address: voracitys@hotmail.com
Rating: Pgish (possibly up to R for violence)
Pairings: Derek/Philip, Willow/Oz/Xander, Nick/Buffy
Fandom: P:TL/BTVS xover
Status: new; complete
Archive: Sure, if you really want to.
Archive author: Voracity
Archive email address: hcompanion@hotmail.com Or above
Other website: (being worked on)

Disclaimers: Not mine (sigh). I gain nothing but pleasure from writing. No copyright infringment intended. Yes, writing is therapy for me.

Summary: part 17: Xander finds the kids being hurt so he does something about it. A gossip problem too. Oh, and Buffy gets to drive Nick's Mustang!

Warnings: M/M (not that this should have to be a warning), Incidence and discussion of child abuse.

Protective Instincts by Voracity

Oz sat on the side of the pool, watching his lover do laps. "Three more," he called as he turned. He squeaked as he was pulled in. "I've already had a bath," he said, grabbing a kiss.

"I know but I need a cheerleader, not a coach." He lifted the older man back up, pushing on his rear as he turned to sit on the side again. He flipped over, tapping the wall before starting down the length of the pool again.

Buffy walked in with Nick, sitting on the side of the pool next to Oz. "How much longer?"

"Two," Oz called, then looked at her. "Less than five unless he decides to float for a while.

Nick stripped down to his swimsuit, sitting down to dangle his toes in the pool. "You're going too slow," he called, watching his brother flip and come back. "You swim like a girl." He smiled as he was flipped off between strokes.

Xander came up next to the wall, scowling at his brother. "Then why do we do the same amount of laps but I'm outta here faster?" He flipped over, going back for his last one. Nick dived in, racing him to the other side but the younger man felt the waves so he sped up. He crowed when he beat his brother back to the original wall, bouncing up and down. "You're slow and you're old," he gloated, dunking the older man under water.

Nick came back up, shaking his head. "I let you win." He grinned at his brother, shaking his head. "You had the head start."

"By about three body lengths and he was tired," Oz pointed out. "He's done a hundred and fifty this morning." He stood up, going over to bring back the younger man's towel and robe. "Come on, you deserve a leg rub."

Xander started to push himself up, but groaned, falling back down into the water. "Yeah, I do." He stroked slowly over to the ladder, climbing up it slowly to fall onto the cold tiles. "Maybe now?" He groaned again, grabbing his leg that was cramping.

Nick pulled himself out of the water, checking over his leg as he rubbed the cramp out. "You're fine, it was just that extra last push. I shouldn't have raced you on your last one." He patted the firm calf then let it go. "Better?"

Xander nodded, sitting up. He smiled as he took his towel from his lover, wiping off his chest and head. "Thanks. Let's do that again when I'm not tired, okay?"

Nick grinned but nodded, heading back over to the pool and diving in.

Xander looked up at Oz. "Hand up? The floor's cold." He grabbed the offered hand, getting up and limping over to the bench. He looked up as Buffy walked over to them. "It's just a cramp, get them all the time."

She nodded, sitting down beside him. "I have some muscle rub in my room if you want it." He shook his head. "Okay, it's on my dresser if you want it." She walked over to the side of the pool, sitting down to wiggle her toes in the water.

Xander stood up, limping out of the pool room and up the back stairs, the warm hand on his back a comfort. He grinned as he was pushed inside, kissing Willow as he limped past. "Hi, how are we?" He was pushed down onto the bed, the older man picking back up his leg and rubbing it hard, earning a hiss.

"Happen's all the time?" Oz asked, working on the knot of the cramp. "Since when?"

Willow walked over, laying her and a baby on the younger man's chest. "Cramps?" She looked down his body. "Gee, you don't look like a woman."

Xander pinched her shoulder gently. "From the swimming. Nick challenged me on my last lap and I cramped up once I stopped." He shrugged. "Not a big." He stroked through the baby's hair, moving the red curls around. "You're so pretty today. Are we going to have picture's taken?"

Willow grinned. "Yes, if I can keep them clean."

"That's easy, bring a change of clothes," Oz suggested, letting the sore leg fall. "I don't like this."

"Oz, it's nothing but a cramp. A nice, normal cramp from overworking it." He sat up, holding in his wince. "Now, I believe you need to get dressed too for the aforementioned pictures so why don't you do that while I shower." He walked into the bathroom, turning on the shower and closing the door to lean against it and show the pain he was really in.

Oz looked at Willow and shook his head. "Doctor's?" he suggested.

Willow nodded. "Definitely. We'll drag him with us." She looked down, seeing the spit bubbles Serena was blowing. "Dear, stop it or wear a bib and listen to Barney all day." Her daughter dirtied herself in protest. "Oooh, that was mean, Serena." She got up, carrying her daughter over to change her again.

Oz patted his daughter's head as he passed on the way to the closet. "The Barney did it. I'd crap too if you threatened me with him." He pulled out the outfit she had picked out for him earlier.

She looked over her shoulder, smiling at him. "Me too, but it's an effective baby quieter." She smiled at the outfit. "Yes, that one." She bent back over, finishing cleaning the bare bottom before her.

They both spun at the crash from the bathroom, Willow putting the baby back in the basket quickly, not putting on a new diaper. She walked in to see Oz trying to bring Xander back around from the fall he'd taken.

"What happened?" She helped pick him up out of the tub, laying him on the floor. "Hit his head?"

Oz nodded. "It seems to attract hard surfaces." He knelt down beside the younger man, patting his face. "You can wake up now, we know you're in there."

Buffy tapped on the door, blushing and turning around when she saw the state of undress her friend had. "Um, what happened this time?"

Willow tossed Oz the towel on the rack, watching as he covered the younger man. "What's up, Buff?"

The blonde turned around, handing over the bottle of muscle rub without looking down. "For his leg. Thought he might like it after all." She walked out of the bathroom, going over to the kids. "Want me to finish changing Serena?"

"Please," Willow said, kneeling down beside her other mate. "So, his leg cramped again?"

Oz ran a hand down the limb, nodding. "Pretty badly." He grabbed the legs, looking at his girlfriend. "Bed?"

She put the bottle on the sink and picked up the younger man's shoulders. They carried him out to the large bed, covering him with his favorite throw and stepping back. Willow walked back into the bathroom, bringing out the bottle and tossing it to Oz before walking out and down the stairs to go find Nick.

She knocked on his door, blushing as he answered without a shirt. "What causes that sort of cramps?"

He let her in, pulling on his t-shirt and sitting next to her. "He have another one?" She nodded, frowning. "Let me guess, his head attracted another hard surface?"

She grinned. "The shower hand rail." She rolled her eyes. "Seems to be a magnetic affair." She crossed her legs. "So, you were going to tell me what caused them?"

"Usually, just overworking the muscles. Did he do more today or has he started a new workout?" She shrugged. "Well, that would be my best guess, it's what does it to me." He shrugged, standing up. "Want me to go look?"

She shook her head. "He's laying barely covered on the bed right now. We were discussing whether or not he should go to the doctor."

"Only if you think it's been happening a lot and he's not been telling you."

Willow grinned. "Xander, tell us he's in pain?" She shook her head. "You two aren't programmed that way." She walked out of the room, heading back up to hers. She walked in, slamming the door when she saw he was awake. "What caused this?" She sat down beside him. "New workout, over working, what?"

He kissed her cheek, pulling the throw with him as he stood. "It's nothing, I'm fine, just a little bit of extra stress." He limped into the bathroom, tossing back out the throw once he was inside.

Buffy looked at Willow. "Big bad or little bad?"

"Depends on how much he's lying," Oz said, doing up his shirt. "Now, I believe we should go have breakfast and then go so pictures. We can deal with the guy in there later when he feels like not lying to us." He picked up the basket, smiling as Buffy kept that one to save him the weight. "Let's go."

Willow waited until they were gone to change into her outfit, knocking on the door to the bathroom before going in. "You sure you don't want to take them with us?"

He opened the door and stuck his head out. "No, go ahead. I'll be in the next one." He withdrew back into his steam.

She shook her head as she pulled back her hair, then left him alone. She'd talk to the great meddler before they left.


Derek looked up from his computer as Xander limped into the control room. "Nick had said that you had a cramp this morning. Does it still hurt?"

Xander grunted as he sat down. "Not so much. Nice hot water hitting it did the trick, then some liniment." He shrugged. "I'm fine. Don't worry so much." He brought up his latest report, handing it over after printing it. "I'm done."

Derek nodded, reading over it. "Fine, go have a free day. You need it." He smiled kindly. "Though I would have guessed you would be in the pictures with them."

Xander shook his head. "I look bad in pictures." He grinned as he got up, trying hard not to show how he was hurting.

Derek pulled him back into his chair, frowning at him. "I want you to..."

"Yeah, yeah," Xander said over top of his request about doctor's. "I'll go see Marcus if it get's worse. With the way you worry, your hair should be red." He stood up again. "Anything else?"

"Yes, don't drive. With your leg cramping you don't have the control necessary to drive." He patted his pockets then held out his hand. "Keys, I'll take you."

Xander frowned as he handed them over. "You're such a parent some days."

Derek's smile was genuinely bright and happy. "Thank you. That's the nicest compliment I've gotten in quite a while." He stood up, offering Xander his arm. "Come on, we'll take your car and I'll drop you off at Marcus' on my way to lunch with Philip."

"Sure but remember to put gas in it and no tickets." He held onto the firm arm as they walked out, limping the whole way.


Marcus frowned at his patient. "A very nice tear, young man. What *have* you been doing out there?" Xander shook his head, rolling his eyes. "I know, you're a Boyle, you never feel pain, right?"

"That's me. Rough, tough, and ready to go crawl through another drainage ditch tomorrow." He grinned. "Anything else?"

"Crutches." He handed them over without looking. "And I mean it Xander, use them." He looked up. "Don't even think about swimming for the next week." He smiled. "No more outbreaks of silver spots?" His smile got broader at the shudders. "I'll take that as a no." He looked up. "I mean it. *No* swimming, *no* working out. No *anything* strenuous for at least a week." He stared at him until he got the nod he was looking for. "Good man." He handed over a prescription. "Pain meds. Take them religiously and don't argue." He stood up. "Anything else of note?"

"Not unless you can tell me why my head keeps attracting hard things." He frowned as he rubbed the small knot on the back of his head. "Started to cramp in the shower and I fell. Was out for almost ten minutes."

Marcus shook his head, bending over to check it. "It's you and your magnetic personality. Maybe you should start showering with someone." He grinned as he walked out, closing the door gently behind him.

"I know someone who would love that suggestion." He climbed off the table after pulling his pants back on, doing them up as he stood. He started to limp away but he knew he'd get beaten by Willow if he left the crutches there so carried them out.

"Use them," Marcus yelled down the hall, without looking back at him. "I mean it." He disappeared into another exam room.

Xander grunted, using them to brace against as he walked. "Yeah, yeah. Too many parents in this world." He frowned when he saw Derek sitting in the waiting room. "I'm fine," he protested.

"I'm sure, but my lunch was canceled by a car accident. He was needed at the hospital." He looked at the crutches. "Precaution?"

"Yeah, and a pain killer." He waved toward the door. "Shall we?"

Derek smiled. "Yes, we should." He held the door so the younger man could limp out. "Shouldn't you be using them?"

Xander grunted, handing them back. "Yeah, and?" He limped out to the car, getting in to the passenger's side.

Derek put them in the space behind the seats, getting in to the low seat. "Where to?"

"Lunch, someplace fattening and gross."

Derek nodded, grinning. "I know just the place." He looked down at their attire. "Not too low brow." He started the engine, listening to it purr for a second before pulling out. "I'm sure the Majordomo won't frown at us too much."


Derek pulled out Xander's chair for him, helping him into the chair. He sat himself, smiling as they were handed menus.

"Derek," Xander whispered, "everyone's looking at us like I'm your toy." He leaned closer. "Do something."

Derek smiled up at their waiter. "My colleague will take the special with a salad and I'll take the fish." He handed back their menus, smiling at the younger man. "Relax. Most everyone knows that you work for me. Your picture was in the paper from the last reception, clearly labeled as a researcher." He smiled as a woman walked up to them. "Hello, Miriam, how are you?"

"Oh, fine, fine." She sat down between them. "Who is this delightful young man?"

"Xander Harris," he said, shaking her hand. "I'm a researcher out on the island."

She smiled at Derek. "My, Derek, you get better taste every year. Keep this up and I may leave you my paintings too." She stood up, walking away.

"Slut," Derek muttered when she was out of hearing range. He leaned closer to the younger man. "She's nobody, don't worry about it." He patted his hand, leaning back so the waiter could put their food in front of them. "Eat, you need it. Your leg will never heal if you don't." He took the first bite, humming in appreciation. He looked up, seeing the younger man still looking around. "Eat," he said quietly.

Xander took a bite, smiling. "Very good," he said, wiping his mouth. "Thanks."

Derek nodded, eating another bite.


Xander screeched in outrage. He picked up a copy of the paper, storming down to the office. "Did you *read* this!" he yelled, tossing the offending opinion down.

Derek smiled benignly, nodding. "I've seen it." He waved at the chair, watching as the younger man sat down. "I've also called and threatened to sue them for libel." He turned to look out his window. "If we ignore it, they'll eventually move on to someone else."

Philip walked into the office. "I see you've seen the paper," he said, taking the couch as his. "Nice ta know they bother other people too." He smiled at Xander. "Relax, it'll blow over in a few days."

"That's a few days that people will think we're..." He frowned as he stood up. "Make them stop Derek, I'm not your toy." He limped out of the office, going back to his breakfast.

The two lovers looked at each other, shaking their heads.


Xander walked out of the drug store, frowning at the person leaning against his car. "Wanting to be arrested?"

The man smiled. "Harold..."

Xander pushed him out of the way. "That's nice." He unlocked his door. "Leave me alone and don't touch my car again." He got in, staring the engine, pulling away from the curb. He made it all the way back to the ferry before anyone else stopped him.

"Mr. Harris?" The woman smiled at him. "I'm with the Sun..."

Xander turned around, getting back into his car. "Go away," he growled, locking the doors and turning on the radio.

He frowned at the man waiting at the Angel Island ferry station, driving past him before he could ask him anything. He almost snarled as he saw the major paper's car in front of the castle, pulling around to park but going in the back door through the kitchen and garden. "Hey, Dominick, what's for food?" He slid down into his seat at the table, putting down the bottle the butler had asked him to pick up. "That's it, right?"

The older man nodded, smiling. "Yes, definitely." He set a plate of salad down in front of the younger man. "Sorry, sir, the women decided that you need to eat healthier and I *refuse* to argue with them."

Xander grinned. "Yeah, she can be pretty scary on occasion." He looked around. "Where is everybody anyway?"

"Library sir. The local paper's doing a story on the Hall of Antiquities." He smiled, sitting down beside him. "Although your name has been mentioned a few times." He patted the younger man's back as he choked. "I understand sir. Your brother had the same problem for a few days also." He stood up, hearing someone coming down the hall. "I do believe someone's looking for you."

"Ah, the man of the hour," Nick joked, walking over to the table, ignoring the scowl. "Lunching without us?"

Xander nodded. "Just got back from picking up stuff for people and decided I needed something before I fell over again." He speared the last piece of lettuce, eating it quickly. "Done, let's go work."

Nick shook his head. "Nope, reporters in there." He picked up one of the carrots. "You should eat those too, you've been squinting."

"Tough," the younger man said, standing up. The butler handed him a pain pill, and a glass of soda. "Thanks Dominick. I'm gonna go hide outside."

Nick laughed lightly as he watched him disappear down the jogging trail. "Yeah, that'll work." He looked at the butler. "Was I that outraged?" The older man nodded. "Hmm, maybe someone should tell him not to hit the reporters."

"Or to aim their cars at them," the older man chided gently. He looked down at the list in his hands. "I wonder if he'd want to go back into town."

"I think he was ambushed," Nick said, standing up. "What was the pill for anyway?"

"Pain. Doctor Marcus gave them to him because of the cramping." Nick scowled out the back door. "I've been led to understand that he's supposed to be on crutches also but apparently he takes after you too much." He smiled and walked into the pantry.

"Yeah, but I'm not that bad." He walked out, heading back to the reporter's ambush innuendos.


Xander looked up from his quiet place on the beach, smiling at Philip. "I see you've found my hiding place." He patted the rock he was on. "Come enjoy the silence with me?"

The Priest sat down, wiping at the sand littering the top. "They're no' tha' bad."

"Bet me." He snorted. "I was ambushed by two and bypassed another one before he could say anything." He looked at the older man. "Didn't they get you too?" He shook his head. "I guess the office kinda precludes it, huh?"

Philip nodded. "Yeah, mostly." He patted the younger man's shoulder. "They'll go away soon." He stood up. "We shoul' be gettin' back. Supper's soon."

Xander looked at his watch. "Hmm, been hiding for three hours. I didn't even realize." He stood up, brushing off his pants. "Thanks for finding me. They all have the most distressing habit of frowning at me when I'm late for a meal."

"Tha's because you're the eater in tha family. Jus' like your brother." He helped him up the small incline. "Crutches?"

"Safely stored away. I don't need them." He picked his way carefully back up the path beside the older man. "I'm fine."

Philip nodded. "I'm sure." He shook his head. "Jus' like your brother."

Xander grinned, looking at him. "You think?" He wiggled his eyebrows.


Nick put down the paper, frowning at his boss. "Seen this yet?" He turned it around, showing him the headline that screamed, "Priest dating young man, fighting head of Luna Foundation over him". He put it down, smiling at the very dark look. "Still want to tell him that it's dying down?"

"I should bring a date to the next formal. A nice blonde leggy one." He sipped his coffee, looking at Nick. "I could borrow yours."

"Na-uh. I'm not going to be put down as being in a love triangle with you. They already think we hold mass orgies in the living room." He smiled as Philip walked in. "How does it feel to be fighting over a man with Derek?" At the frown he handed over the paper, starting to laugh at the muttered swearing. "Father, for shame. Just think about all the penance you'll have to do now." He got up before Philip could retaliate, heading into the pool area.

Philip read the headline, snorting. "He'll kill ‘em," he remarked, balling it up and tossing it at the door. He picked up his tea, frowning at Derek. "Ya should do somethin' before he does. Remember how Nick reacted?"

Derek nodded around his cup of coffee. "Oh, very well. I still have nightmares about not getting him released from jail for trying to run someone down." He put down his cup, looking around. "I don't know what to do. That wasn't the gossip column, it was the front page."

Philip shook his head. "‘Cause of me." He sipped some more of his tea then buttered his bagel. "I shoul' go back ta the Church. It'd kill some o'it." He took a bite, raising an eyebrow as the young man in question walked in, frowning. "Mornin'."

"At least you didn't say good with that," he muttered, sitting down. "I'm gonna hit the next one. I swear to .." He looked at Philip. "Sorry."

"S'okay, I understan' tha'." He patted the strong shoulder. "Aren' ya supposed ta be on crutches?" He looked under the table. "I noticed ya limpin' again."

"I'm fine," he said with a little too much force, making him blush. "I'm sorry, I'm just stressed." He looked at Derek. "Please fix them."

Derek shrugged. "I've done all I can. They won't leave it alone." He finished his coffee. "I'll call the editor today, threaten her with a lawsuit if she doesn't retract. Just stay in today and hide." He walked out, heading for his office.

Nick walked in, frowning, sitting down. "Pain pills?"

"Cramps, leg, sound familiar?" Xander sipped some of his milk, tearing into his usual muffin. "Drop it, I'm fine."

"Bet me." He looked up at the butler. "What's really wrong with him?"

"I'm not sure Master Nick, all I know is that it's having to do with his left calf." He set a plate in front of the youngest man, smiling. "Eat something. You'll need it for the day ahead. Mr. Sloan just called." He walked away, going back to his duties.

Xander looked down at the plate, eating quickly. "I'm gonna go hide," he said after the last mouthful. He limped out of the kitchen, heading for the control room.

Nick took the phone the butler handed him, smiling. "Marcus?" he asked, hearing a voice on the other end. "What happened to Xander? He's not said anything and he's taking pain pills."


Nick walked calmly into Derek's office, carrying his air cast. He waited until his boss put whoever on hold before leaning over the desk. "He's torn a muscle and didn't tell us. Marcus said to superglue it to his leg." He stepped back, smiling at the nasty one Derek was giving him.

"Just like you," the older man said, reconnecting to the call. "No, I'm quite sure I'm not dating either of them. Both of them help here, that's all. And yes, I'm very sure they're not dating each other." He hung up, looking for Nick, who had slipped out.

Nick walked into the control room, whistling. He pulled on his brother's ear, making him stand up, then tossed him to the floor and attached the air cast to his injured leg before walking out, still whistling.

Xander looked at the two women in the room with him, shaking his head. "He's overreacting," he muttered, getting back into his seat to continue his search.


Oz grabbed the role of duct tape Nick had given him earlier, after telling him what was really going on with his friend. He'd waited until Xander was taking a short nap before doing this. He wrapped the last turn, looking down at his handy work before walking out to let him nap some more.


Derek smiled as Xander limped in. "I see Nick found you," he said, pushing out his chair with a foot. "Next time I'd follow orders."

"Still too many parents in this house," he muttered, dishing food out onto his plate. "I'm fine," he told the assembled house members. "Some people just fuss too much." He looked at Oz. "Duct tape? Could you have found an uglier alternative?"

"Very." He set down his fork. "They make this wonderful flourescent plaster tape..." He let the comment dangle, raising an eyebrow. "Take care of it or I'll get some pink." He picked up his fork, taking a bite of broccoli.

Nick shook his head. "You're so mean," he said, grinning. "Welcome to the family." He looked down the table, still smiling. "And I'll draw on it in that green paint that made you want to puke the other day."

Xander shook his head. "Mean and overly concerned. I knew this was a mistake." He took a bite of supper, shutting himself up.


Derek looked up as the Arch Bishop walked into his office. "Excellency," he said, raising to shake his hand. "What can I do for you today?" He waved at a chair, waiting until the other man had sat down. "Or are you here about that lie the newspapers have started to print?"

The other man smiled. "Yes, actually I am." He looked around the office then leaned a little closer. "I've known of your's and Philip's... relationship for a while now, but I'm concerned about what this is doing to him and the church." He sat back. "I believe Philip should come back with me."

Derek leaned back, nodding. "He was saying the same thing the other day." He smiled as Nick walked in. "The Arch Bishop would like Philip to resume his duties."

"I'm sure but won't that just add fuel to the fire?" He took the other seat, looking at the man in the robes. "If it looks like you've pulled him back with you, then it'll just lend credence to the rumour as it stands." He passed over the paper with it's allegations of abuse. "Someone's got a telephoto lense and saw his cast from the mainland." He frowned then turned back to the other man. "Not to belittle your ways or anything, but if you pull him back, it'll make him look guilty."

"I know," the Arch Bishop said, sighing. He shifted to get comfortable. "I just don't see an alternative. If he stay's, it'll continue, if he comes back, it'll continue."

Derek frowned. "We have offices world wide, I could send him on assignment to one of them. It would at least slow the rumours some."

Nick shook his head. "Only for Philip. The rest of us it won't affect." He nodded at the paper. "Third page too." He watched while Derek flipped pages, frowning at the picture. "You tell me when that was taken."

"Last month," Derek said. "That's the last time he was shopping with her." He casually balled up the offending material, throwing it away. "I'm going to sue them."

The Arch Bishop smiled. "That would stop them, possibly, but what if you sent him somewhere? It would die down much faster."

Nick shook his head. "Can't. He's needed here to help care for his best friend's children." He frowned at Derek. "I don't want to tell Oz or Willow that you're sending him away." The Precept nodded. "Besides," he turned back to the other man, "he's my brother and he's hurt his leg. I'm sure he won't be able to travel for a while yet."

Derek spread his hands out on the desk, standing up. "I'll deal with this, your Excellency. Never fear about that. This ... garbage will stop." He shook the man's hand, waiting until he was gone to look at Nick. "I don't know what to do except to sue or send him away."

"Make a statement. Have *him* make a statement." He grinned. "That or get married." He stood up, ducking out before the frown killed him.

Derek shook his head. "I'd hope there was a less drastic means of fixing the situation."


Derek paid special attention to Buffy as they waltzed around the room. "Thank you for going along with this. I'm most embarrassed that this was the only alternative."

She smiled up at him. "I'm sure they'll get over it soon." She smiled as they walked off the floor to where everyone else was standing, minus Xander who was outside on the balcony with the phone. She smiled at Nick. "Idea boy again?"

He shook his head, handing her a glass of champagne. "Not me. Was a last effort at that." He looked around to make sure they weren't being overheard. "I'm sorry, Buffy, I couldn't think of another means without Alex killing me."

She patted his arm. "Hey, I'm all for saving lives. ‘Cause Xan was gonna shoot someone soon." She looked around, smiling at Philip as he walked over with the Arch Bishop. "How's the Church Father? Glad to be back?" She leaned up, kissing his cheek then wiped off her lipstick.

He nodded, smiling. "Very." He shook Derek's hand. "Interestin' way ta solve it." He looked around. "Where's he anyway?"

"Phone and balcony," Willow said. "Oz is in Montreal to help them while Kristen's in New York." She pouted briefly. "I wanted him here but Derek said no." She looked at their boss. "Meany."

He patted her shoulder, making room for Xander. "I could have sent both of them," he reminded her. She shook her head forcefully, sinking into Xander's side. "I didn't think so." He smiled at her. "How's the nanny working out?"

"He's okay," Willow said, cautiously. "I'm just not sure I like him."

Derek nodded. "I know but soon you'll feel much better about him." He looked at Xander. "Did you rent the same one?"

"Bought it," he said, looking around and taking a sip of his water. "Thought it would come in handy and save money in the long run."

Buffy shook her head, fluffing out her hair. "We should make you spend more of your check. You'll be rich soon and leave us."

He smiled at her. "Buffy, you know I'd never leave you." He touched her hand briefly then looked at Willow. "I'm going upstairs to check on them. Want to come?" She shook her head so he put her hand on Nick's. "Okay, watch the brother for me." He walked calmly up the stairs, heading for the door to the living quarters.

William Sloan walked over, smiling. "Derek, Buffy, how nice to see someone finally came to their senses." He smiled at Philip. "I'm sure someone's glad they're not the object of attention anymore."

Nick frowned and held his earpiece closer. "Come on, Willow, we'd better go find him."

Everyone watched as they ascended the stairs together.


Xander opened what had become their bedroom, walking inside. He stopped when he saw their nanny bending over the bed, diapering Precious. He knew it was her because she was wearing the outfit he'd put on her earlier. As he walked closer, being silent for some reason, he overheard the quiet conversation they were holding.

"Yes, you were named just right, weren't you?" He ran his finger across her rear, dragging his nail across her sensitive flesh. "You're just right for me, yes you are."

Xander had heard enough, grabbing him and slamming him against the wall. "You touch her again and I'll kill you," he said quietly. "Any child and I'll make sure you never move again." He slammed him into the wall again, getting very angry. He never even noticed Nick and Willow walking in or the security guard that made it a few minutes before them. He was slowly choking the man that had been hurting his child, making sure he'd never hurt another child again.

Nick looked at the scene and walked over to pull his brother off the man. "Let him go, Xan, tell me what he did."

Willow took her child from the guard, cuddling her since she was crying. "What's going on?" she asked him.

He pointed at the man Nick was trying to get Xander away from. "He said something about touching her. I did back up her diaper when I found her naked."

Willow laid her on the bed, looking over the tender flesh herself. "You sick bastard," she said, reaching around Xander to grab him and try to get him herself. "You were *touching* my kid?" She pushed Xander out of the way, shaking him herself.

Derek and William walked in, the Precepts pulling the outraged parents away from the man. "What's going on here," Derek asked.

Willow spun on him in Nick's arms. "He *touched* her. She's got scratches and stuff on her butt." She lunged for him again but Xander got in her way. "No, he's mine."

William stepped between them. "Willow, let us handle this," he got her attention, "let us handle him," he said again, more quietly. She nodded, still ready to kill him herself. "Thank you." He looked at the man, sizing him up. "You'd better have a very good explanation for those marks and I'd give it soon. I'm more than willing to cover for her."

Xander rediapered the baby, handing her back to Willow. "Precious needs you, Will, take care of her, let me handle this," he said quietly, standing in front of her. She nodded, holding her daughter to her chest, sniffling. "Go to my room and take Jose with you. Carry the kids for her," he told the security guy. He got a nod so he reached across the bed, pulling the velvet throw up to hand to her. "Go cuddle her Will, she needs her mom." They left together, and everyone sighed in relief until Xander rounded on the offensive man. "I saw you, and heard you, you sick bastard. You were touching her, dragging your nails over her skin and telling her how perfect she was for you." He blanched. "If you do not get him out of this castle and make sure he never touches another child again, I will make sure of it for you," he told Derek, taking a step closer. "You can come visit me in jail," he said hotly, trying to get around the restraining hands of the London Precept. "Let me go William. You don't want to become an accomplis so leave."

Derek nodded. "He'll never touch another child again," he told the younger man. "Nick, calm him, I'm going to get the very nice Detective from downstairs." He handed the man to William, watching as the other Precept frowned. "Just keep them separate," he said quietly, heading out of the room and down the stairs.

Nick turned Xander around, making him face away from the molester. "Go see to the kids. If he so much as moves I'll shoot him myself." Xander shook his head, gritting his teeth. "Go," he said, pushing him in that direction, closing the door behind him.

Xander looked around the hall before slamming his fist into the wood paneling, putting a nice dent in it. He went to his room, slamming open the door then throwing it closed. He knelt on the floor in front of Willow. "You okay?" he asked quietly. She nodded, still crying. "Shh," he said, pulling her into his arms, holding both of them, rocking them to calm them down. When she was back down to sniffles, he let her pull back. "Did you check Serena?" Her eyes got very wide but she shook her head. "Let me, comfort her." He picked up his favorite of all them, cradling her in his arms as they walked toward the bathroom. He took a deep breath as he opened the diaper covering, then the cloth diaper, frowning at the marks he could see on her skin. He took another breath and held it as he did what he least wanted to do, checking her over for signs that she'd been hurt more that what Precious had been. When he saw the marks on her inner skin and the ones that said she'd been hit, he growled but put back on her diaper gently, holding her and calming her with quiet murmurs. He walked back out, handing her off to mom, nodding his head. He calmly walked out of the room and down to theirs, tossing open the door and stalking over to where the man was now cowering in the corner. He picked him up, slamming him shoulder first into the wall. "I will kill you," he promised, slamming him again before Nick and William could pull him off. He looked at them, his eyes very cold at the moment. "Get him out of here! Now!"

Nick pulled him farther away, sighing in relief as Derek and the Detective walked in. "Xander, let justice take it's course," he said quietly, pulling him farther away. "He can already bring you up on assault charges, don't make it premeditated murder."

The Detective looked around then at Xander, seeing the cold look he was shooting the man on the floor. "What did he do?"

Xander pulled her down the hall, taking her to his old room. "He abused them," he said quietly. "Check Serena's rear, she's been hit and," he swallowed, "other stuff." He took his favorite niece from Willow's arms, soothing her as only he could. "Ssshh, baby, that man won't ever touch you again. I'll make sure of it." He looked at the Detective. "Take a statement, arrest me, but if you don't get him out of this house, I *will* kill him in as many ways as I can."

She nodded, backing away from his cold gaze. "If they were mine I'd do that too," she assured him. "But I need to check them over and maybe take some pictures." Willow started crying again. "You can be there, but I have to do it or it's just his word." She nodded, handing over Precious. "Okay, come with me, ma'am, and we'll look together." She looked at Xander again. "Let her carry that one and let the guard get the other two in the basket. I want you someplace to calm down."

He growled, "I *am* calm," at her, but he handed over the baby he held, watching as they walked into what had been Oz's room. He paced around his old room, muttering about how much he wanted to kill the man, how he was going to do it. He didn't look up until he ran into Derek's chest. "What?" he snarled.

"They've taken him away." He pulled him down to the bed. "He's not going to press charges against you. The nice Detective promised to tell everyone what he'd done to them if he did." He made Xander look at him. "Calm down, you stopped him before he could really harm them." The younger man shook his head. "No?"

"Serena was.. touched." He spat the word, trying to get the taste out of his mouth. "I want him. He's mine," he said, getting up to pace again.

Derek waved William out, waiting until the door had been closed. "I know he hurt your pack but you can't have him. The system has to first. If he get's off by some miracle of Satan then he'll be dealt with," Derek promised, catching his arm and making him look at him. "I promise. If he get's off in the court system, then he'll be dealt with." The younger man nodded but didn't say anything. "Willow needs you now more than ever," he said quietly. "With Oz gone she's feeling very vulnerable."

"She'll blame me," he said.

"She won't. She'll blame herself for not acting on her instincts that said something was wrong." He rubbed over the tense arm. "Pull yourself together and go to her, she needs you to help her with them."

He nodded, walking out and heading into her room. He knelt beside her on the bed. "Will?"

She looked at him, tears still falling. "Why didn't you stop him sooner?" she asked quietly, hugging both girls to her chest. "Why didn't you know?"

William walked in. "It's not his fault," he said, trying to stop her before she destroyed him. "He didn't know. If he had, the man would have gone out the window long before now." He knelt beside her. "None of us knew or we would have stopped him."

She shook her head, holding them closer. "Don't touch us."

Xander got up. "If that's what you want." He walked out of the room and down the back stairs, heading out through the kitchen and out to the jogging trail. He disappeared into the night, not looking back.

William looked at her, shaking his head. "Do you really think he knew?" She shrugged. "He's just as upset as you are. He tried to *kill* the man. Told the Police he was going to kill him." He tried to touch her hand but she pulled away from him. "I'll dial Montreal so you can talk to Oz." He picked up the phone, wiping the blood off the handset from where Xander had slammed him and broken his jaw next to the appliance. He dialed quickly, talking in quiet tones. "I need to talk to Oz. Pull him into the office and leave." He waited, then grimaced. "Oz, sit, and make sure everyone's gone." He handed the phone to her but she wouldn't say anything, just cried so he put it back to his ear. "Xander found the nanny hurting the kids," he said quietly. "I'm calling you home. I'll have the jet there in under an hour." He hung up, redialing it. "Hi, it's William Sloan. I need one of the jets in Montreal within an hour. There's an emergency in San Francisco and their member there needs to come home." He hung up. "It's in route, he can meet it in half an hour." He pulled her into his arms, doing what any good father would do, soothing her


Oz slammed in through the back door, running up the back stairs to his room. He ran into the room, landing beside her on the bed. "Hey," he said softly, wiping at her cheeks. "What happened?"

"He found him touching them." She wiped over the girl's heads, playing with what hair they had.

"Where's Xan now?" She shrugged. "What happened to him?" She shrugged again but Derek walked in.

"He's out in the woods. She asked him why he didn't stop him sooner." He sat on the edge of the bed, touching her ankle. "You need to talk to him." She shook her head, gathering her daughter's to her chest again. "It's shock," he told the younger man. "She's been like this since she was pulled off him." He frowned. "Xander, on the other hand, tried to kill him, twice, then went outside when she asked him that."

Oz nodded, bending down to kiss her cheek. "I'll go find him." She clutched at his arm, giving him a panicked look. "No, we need him." She shook her head. "Want to come with me?" She shook her head again. "I can put Buffy up here with you?"

Willow opened her mouth then pulled him closer, hiding in his shoulder. "I shouldn't have said that," she said quietly, "but we can't leave them."

"I'll go," Nick said. "That's my trail and I know it like the back of my hand." He tossed his mic to Derek. "Be back in a few." He walked out, dropping a soft kiss on his girlfriend's forehead as he passed her in the halls.

"What happened," Buffy asked. "When I asked, everyone shook their heads but didn't tell me." She looked at the bed then around the room. "I'm guessing here, but who killed who?"

Derek looked up at her, then stood, pushing her down into his former spot. "Xander found the children being abused and he tried to kill the man. Nick's gone to get him from the woods."

She shook her head. "I heard his car go by not an hour ago." She looked at Will. "Want me to cuddle one?" She got a silent head shake. "You sure?"

Oz nodded. "We've got it. You sure it was him?"

"The Jag's engine is kinda distinctive. It snarled as he pulled out. I was on the front steps being bothered by the Mayor about Derek and his so called other relationship." She frowned up at him. "I don't think it worked."

He shook his head. "It's not important now. Finding him is and so's stopping him from doing something stupid."

Nick walked back in. "He left," he said quietly. "Oz, we have to go find him."

"Nope," Buffy said, standing up. "I'm the girl of the hour, let me go change." She looked down at the bed. "Willow, what should I tell him?"

"I'm sorry," she said softly. "I didn't mean it. It was wrong and I was reacting ‘cause he got here first."

Buffy nodded. "All right." She looked at Nick dragging him to her room. "I'm changing into sensible clothes, why don't you. I'll meet you at the Mustang." He nodded, walking out. She looked at the clothes littering her room then down at herself, kicking the door shut as she picked up her outfit and unzipped her gown.


Xander roamed the park, looking around at all the nasty creatures that came out to play at night. He saw the type he wanted, heading over to break up a feeding session, twirling the stake in his fingers. He staked the first one without warning, smiling at the others. "Wanna play?"

The first one rushed him and he kicked it, spinning around to hit the one behind him.


Buffy heard the fight, hurrying to where it was. She stood, staring, as Xander took on another vampire, his clothes attesting to the one's he'd already gotten by the amount of dust covering them. She walked forward but Nick stopped her. She looked at him. "He can't keep going."

"He's working it out. Step in if he needs it," he said quietly. He handed her a stake. "See, reinforcements." He pointed at the new ones walking through the woods toward them.

She walked over to the new group, smiling. "Sorry, show's closed. But I can entertain you if you'd like." She staked the first one then started on a second.

Xander whirled, looking for another attacker. He snarled when he saw Buffy being over run, running over and jumping on one of the two she was taking on. He killed that one then turned to face the rest, picking out his next target. His smile became more predatory with each one, looking around in confusion when no more were there. He snarled at Buffy, walking towards her, trying to menace her with his attitude.

She pulled him into her arms, hugging him to her. "Ssshhh, Xander, let your pack deal with this." She let him pull back. "See, pack member, female, remember?"

He sniffed her then the air. He looked at Nick, his eyes narrowing. "Not him." He started to advance on him but she stopped him.

"No, he's not a threat," she said, putting herself between them. "Not a threat. A friend. One of your betas," she assured him. "Smell him, you know who he is, right?" She gave him a hopeful look. "Please remember him."

Xander walked slowly over to the other male, sniffing the air as he walked. He sniffed around Nick, pulling back a few times when he didn't move. "Hmm, not mine." He snarled, raising his stake.

Buffy jumped on Xander's back. "No, Xan, you can't hurt him. He is a member of your pack, just a new one. He vowed to protect your pack too." She slid down his back when he relaxed, moving to stand in front of him again. "Come on, the cubs and your alpha female need you."

Xander sniffed her neck some more then at Nick. "You're leaving the pack?" he asked her, pushing her back. "No, I won't allow it." He started toward her, but Nick hit him across the back of the head, trying to stop him. He spun on Nick, swinging at him. "Not mine," he snarled, connecting with a good hit.

Buffy groaned and pulled the younger man away, pulling out Nick's cell phone since she had on his jacket. She speed dialed the castle, smiling when Derek answered. "Put Oz on. He's in full animal mode." She waited, struggling to keep Xander off Nick and to not drop the phone. "Oz? Thank god, talk to him." She put the phone up against his ear, watching as the voice that had always calmed him started to again. When he was sitting on the grass, clutching it like a lifeline, she walked over to her boyfriend, using the edge of her shirt to stop the bleeding from his nose. "You all right?" she asked quietly. He nodded, sitting up. "Good idea to play dead there, it stopped him from ripping your throat out with his teeth." She looked up but the younger man was gone. "Xander?" she called. When no one answered her, she walked over to where he'd been sitting but the phone was gone too.

Nick walked up behind her. "He took it?" She nodded, turning to frown at him. "Which way was his car?" She led him back toward it, not seeing it. She took the keys from his pocket, sliding across the hood and getting in to drive. He tried to stop her but she just patted his hand, pushing him to the passenger side. "It's my car," he protested as she started it and put it into gear, pulling out of the parking spot doing twenty already. "Easy!" he yelled as she put it into first, peeling out with much leaving of rubber. "Now I know how Derek feels," he muttered, putting on his seat belt. "You drive worse than I do."

She shifted again, flooring it as far as she could. "He's gonna try to leave again. We've got to stop him." She shifted again, getting onto the highway. She flipped off a cop stopped to give someone else a ticket, checking her speed then her rearview mirror. "Stupid," she muttered, shifting up again.

Nick was white by now, holding onto the door bar for dear life. "We're not doing this again," he promised her. "Who taught you to drive?"

"I was taught?" she asked, hitting fifth gear with a growl and cruising toward the airport. "Shut up and sit there like a good man," she told him.

Nick shook his head. "That's it, you're gonna pay when we get home."

She smiled as she caught sight of the silver Jaguar in front of her. "Yeah, yeah, all men say that and then they roll over and demand tummy rubs." She maneuvered next to his car, looking briefly in the window. When she was sure it was him, she pulled in front of him, making Nick cover his eyes and yell like a little kid.

Xander had to slow down when she did so she slowed them down, eventually getting them both down to a normal speed instead of close to a hundred, then blocked him when he tried to shift lanes, making him move to the right. She did it again, and the last time, making him stop on the shoulder.

Nick grabbed the keys out of the ignition once the car was stopped, getting out to escape her before she could hurt him or his car again. He got into Xander's, sitting beside him. "She's insane," he remarked, pulling his keys from the engine too. "Feeling yourself yet?"

The younger man turned to snarl at him. "Go home," he said, his voice cold and calm.

"Yup, with you in tow if we have to." He jingled the keys. "Now, get out and walk up to where she is." He heard the growl but never expected the hit to the side of his head. He didn't even realize when he was pushed out of the car and the keys taken from his hand.

Xander looked at the two sets then tossed the ones that weren't his out before he shut the other door. He was just inserting his key when he felt the gun pressed to his neck. "Bitch," he muttered. "Shoot me, go ahead, you're leaving anyway."

Buffy shook her head, running her fingers through his hair to calm him. "I'm not leaving you but I won't let you leave us." She opened the door, pushing him over. "I want to drive your car." She sat on his lap when he wasn't being cooperative, frowning at him. "Xan, I mean it. You're not allowed to leave." She closed the door, still sitting in his lap. "No, we're a pack and you can't leave us defenseless." She could hear voices from the phone so she bent to pick it up, not expecting to be pushed over or bit, but she was. She pointed the gun at him once she was able to, rubbing her neck. "Damn that hurt." She got into the seat, having to do much creative wiggling to do so. "Now then, calm down." She held the phone to his ear. "Talk to Oz and Will."

He grunted but the soothing voice on the other end started again, calming him down against his will. He could hear a baby crying in the background, which made him growl. He looked at her, then opened the door to push her out too. He closed the door again, starting his car, heading for his pack. One of his cubs needed him.

Nick woke up long enough to realize he was back in his car and that he wasn't driving. He closed his eyes tightly, the lights whizzing past them giving him a headache. "Please slow down," he murmured, then mercifully passed back out.

The next thing he knew they were in front of the castle and the door was open. He looked at the solid wall of ivy, never so glad to see the damn stuff. He grabbed his keys before the speed demon could come kidnap him again, passing back out, clutching them tightly.

Xander pulled up in front of the castle and ran upstairs, leaving his car running. He burst through their door, bending to take Serena into his arms, sitting with her in the corner, quieting and cuddling her.

Oz walked over to him slowly, not sure what state he was in. "Xan," he said softly. "Hi," he said when the dark eyes focused on him. "Yeah, she needed you." He knelt down in front of the younger man. "Hi," he said, reaching out to touch the dark hair. He almost frowned when it was moved away from him. "Smell me, you know me, I'm a pack member too." He put his arms out, letting the younger man sniff him, then laid down beside him to show his submission. "Hi," he said again.

Xander reached down, patting the offered stomach. He frowned as Buffy burst through the door, growling and moving the baby away from her.

"Out," Willow said. "He's not recognizing you right now." The older woman backed out, closing the door quietly. Willow walked over, following Oz's example of how to approach him. "Hi," she said, laying down between his legs to rest her head on his thigh. "Thank you for coming back," she said quietly. "I'm sorry."

He grunted, stroking over his cub's soft red fur. She waved at him, batting him on the face repeatedly so he sucked her fingers into his mouth, nibbling on them. She smiled at him, then laid down on his shoulder, snuggling down on her favorite person.

That's how Derek and William found them almost an hour later. Xander was just starting to come back around; Willow, Oz, and the babies congregated around him on the floor. Derek stepped into the room, hearing the soft growl. "I'm not going to hurt them," he promised. He knelt down in front of the grouping. "How close to being back is he?"

"Not enough to not bite you," Oz said. He looked up, touching his daughter's hand, earning a small growl and a frown. "See?"

Derek nodded and sat down. "Xander, focus on me please," he said quietly, bringing a hand up. He waved it some, watching as the deep brown eyes focused on it. "Goot, now hear my voice," he said, lowering it. "Oz, start talking him back now."

"Xan," Oz said softly. "Come back man, we need you not the hyena here." He rubbed over the free thigh, earning a grunt. "Come on man, listen to my voice and come back for me." He looked up, seeing the intelligence coming back. "That's it, come back to us. We need you. She needs her other dad." He took the free hand, linking their fingers. "Come on man, come back to the here and now, not the animal."

Xander shook his head then looked around then down. "Oz?" He started to get up when he saw Willow but she stopped him, refusing to let his thigh move, moving more of her body on top of his leg. "How'd I get here? I remember the park, the animal." He looked down at her. "I tried," he said quietly.

She sat up, straddling his leg. "I know that was unfair of me. I didn't mean to take it out on you." She kissed him lightly, then took her daughter from his hands, grinning at the resistance. "She needs changed, Xan, you gotta let her go unless you want to do it."

He let her go, watching as she walked the baby over to the bed. He looked down at the assembled family, frowning. "I did it again, huh?" Oz nodded. "I'm sorry, man. I shouldn't have left."

Willow came back over, sitting at his feet. "You did that because I wasn't thinking." She handed him back his former cuddler, watching as she fell back asleep on his shoulder. "As for how you got from the park to here, only Buffy and Nick would know that."

William cleared his throat. "Only Buffy. He knocked Nick unconscious but I take it, from what he was saying, that it was a merciful move." He dangled both sets of keys from his fingers, smiling. "She drove his car."

Oz winced. "Oh, god, he's got to be motion sick by now." Willow pinched him. "Hon, she drove the van at seventy around Sunnydale. Imagine what she did with his hot rod?"

Willow smiled. "From what I hear, that's how he drives too." She looked at Derek who was shaking his head. "No?"

He burst out laughing. "Nick was asking us to protect him, and his car, from her before she killed them both." He looked over his shoulder at William. "The trooper said he clocked her going how fast?"

"One ten," he said, grinning. "Xander was only going ninety or so." He tossed over the Jag's keys. "Be more careful to not get caught young man. None of us want to go bail you out of jail."

Xander cleared his throat. "Did I... did I hurt him bad?"

Derek nodded but was still smiling. "I think he'll never underestimate you again." He stood up. "It also seems, from what Buffy said, that you took on a goot portion of the vampire community."

Xander looked down then brushed at the gray fabric that was supposed to be black. "Wow. I didn't think I did that." He looked at Willow. "You're not mad at me?" She shook her head, tearing up again and hugging him. "Okay," he whispered, letting himself be cuddled. "Thanks Derek," he said as the Precept walked out. The older man just nodded and closed the door.

Oz hugged both of them, working his head between their chests. "Come on, we can do this better in bed with the kids in theirs," he said, running a finger down the younger man's cheek. "You scared us earlier when you didn't respond to me."

Xander gave him puppy eyes. "I'm sorry."

"Ssshhh," Willow said. "We love you and it's okay." She backed up, standing and picking up her children to put them to bed. She lifted Serena last, letting him give her one last kiss and hug before laying her down with them.


Derek walked into Nick's room, watching as Buffy wrung out the wet cloth and placed it back over his forehead.

"I'm sorry," she said, almost rolling her eyes. "But you drive like that too."

Derek handed Nick his keys. "She was only going ninety or so." Nick frowned at her. "On the highway."

"Not even I do that," he muttered. "I also don't position myself using the formula one method." He pulled on a lock of her hair. "You're not driving my car *ever* again." He looked at Derek, who nodded upstairs. "Or Xander's. His is much more powerful and I *refuse* to let you drive his car." He pulled her face closer. "Hear me?"

She nodded, but frowned at him. "But I did good, I caught him and everything."

Nick shook his head. "You cut off other drivers. You almost crashed us when you pulled in front of him to get him to slow down." He saw Derek wince. "I won't let you take that chance again. Not with me, not with you, and *not* with my car." He grinned, patting the side of her face. "Now, go to bed." He waited until she'd kissed the end of his nose and left. "I know what ninety looks like, try again."

"One ten or so according to the trooper," he said, sitting on the bed and lifting the cloth to look at the ear. "You're going to see someone tomorrow," he said, commanding once again.

Nick nodded but shuddered. "Derek, she was a demon, I swear. She flipped off a trooper as we went by. She switched lanes like she was in a pro race." He swallowed. "I've never seen the city go by like that."

Derek patted the clutching hand. "Now you know how Alex and I feel when we ride with you." He smiled gently. "She didn't wreck at least." He listened to the conversation outside. "William's coming. Want me to tell him to go away?"

Nick grinned, his evil little grin that meant trouble. "Sic him on her, let him teach her how to drive."

Derek started to laugh, hugging Nick to his chest. "Oh, she'd hate you for that." He let him fall back to the bed. "I love it, I'll suggest it to him in the morning."

"Oh, do it now," he said, patting the cloth over his ear. "Still bleeding?"

Derek shook his head. "No, and I couldn't see a rupture. It just looks like a cut or something."

"He was pure animal, boss. Really and totally. In the park, he tried to attack her, bit her almost, because he thought she was leaving his pack." He looked up at the ceiling. "He was really out of control. Only the animal was there and somehow it knows how to drive at ninety or so."

Derek nodded. "Apparently, but we can't tell him that. He feels terrible right now." He patted the strong but trembling hand once more then stood. "It took Oz and I both to bring him back down. She hurt him that badly."

Nick nodded. "I know. I was there, remember?" He tried to sit up but ended up laying back down, clutching his head once the world started to spin. "Yeah, I'm staying up here tomorrow. Can you drive me to Marcus'?"

Derek nodded in sympathy. "Of course." He walked out, running into Alex and William arguing in the hall. "Quiet, he needs his rest." He pulled William aside. "Nick's asked me to sic you on Buffy to teach her how to drive properly."

William smiled, walking up the stairs to her room.

Alex tapped him on the shoulder. "That's so mean," she whispered. Then she giggled. "I don't think she'll be doing that again." She ran into her room before anything else could happen.

Derek laughed slightly as he headed for his room, his smile getting brighter when he heard Brandon yell for his food.


Derek smiled as Rupert Giles walked in the door and dropped his bags. "Long flight," he asked, shaking his hand. He stepped out of the way of Buffy, who was squealing and jumped up to hug him.

"Very." He patted his former student on the head. "Calm down. You're acting like a puppy."

"I got to drive Nick's car last night," she said happily.

Giles looked at Derek. "Dear God, you let her *drive*?" He paled. "Are you possessed?"

William walked up behind her. "No, they were chasing Xander." He put a hand on her shoulder, stopping her bouncing. "I'm teaching her how to do it right today."

Rupert laid a hand on his. "I attempted that feat also and soon found out that there was not enough scotch in the entire world." He frowned down at his student. "I do hope you'll try to not kill him too."

She pouted. "Meany. I didn't try to kill you. How was I supposed to know that trucks turned like that."

William groaned but held his course. "Come Buffy, time for your first lesson."

"Would that be about speed?" Nick said snidely from the top of the stairs. "Rupert, you wouldn't believe what the city looks like at over a hundred miles an hour." He smiled sweetly at William. "You called your wife and kids right, told them you loved them."

William arched a brow but didn't say anything.

"See what I have to put up with?" she told Derek. "Totally unsupportive." She hugged him. "Do you think I could get a car too?"

Nick snorted. "When did you stop spending your whole check?" He sent back her dirty look. "Hey, cars are pricey. Xan paid a good couple of grand for his."

"But... but I could get a little one like Giles' for not too much." She smiled at him. "It wasn't anywhere near this decade and ran pretty cheaply."

William frowned as he patted her shoulder. "I think you first ought to prove to me that you *can* drive before we start talking cars." He pushed her out of the house. "We'll be back in a while." Everyone waved, humming a funeral march, Oz accompanying from his hiding spot upstairs. Then they all burst out laughing.

Oz stuck his head over the rail. "I'd bring out the bottles Derek, he'll need ‘em." His head disappeared behind the railing again and they could all hear quiet baby laughter along with the music.

Nick looked at his boss. "I agree. I could use one and that's just in remembrance."

Giles shook his head. "Quite. I could use one too." He looked around. "What else happened while I was in New York?"

From up above a guitar string snapped and a quiet ‘don't ask' floated down.

Derek led both them toward his office, making sure Nick was sitting. "Xander went up to check on the children last night during the reception and he found the nanny abusing the girls." He poured them all stiff drinks, handing Nick the smallest one. He sat down behind his desk and faced them. "He almost killed him, twice, then went primal when Willow's first words were to ask why he hadn't protected them better." He took a sip. "That led to Nick and Buffy finding him fighting in the park."

"He took down a good ten while we were standing there and his clothes were gray by then." He winced as he heard the squeal of tires from outside. "Hope his insurance is paid up," he said quietly, taking another sip to calm his nerves. "He tried to attack her because he thought she was leaving his pack then took off once he heard Oz's voice." He started to shake for real now.

Derek walked around to hold him tightly. "As Nick had been knocked down during the fight she drove. A very nice trooper that knew his car decided that it wasn't worth the life he was probably trying to save to chase him clocked her at one ten." Giles winced. "Very. When she caught up to him, she pulled in front of him, cutting him off basically, then started to slow down to make him. She got him off the road, where he broke a small vein in Nick's ear and bit her on the shoulder. For some reason he headed home and ran upstairs, still the predator, where it took both Oz and I to bring him back around." He frowned down at Nick, who had fallen asleep against his stomach. "He was unconscious most of the trip back but we found him in the car begging to be saved from her and to save his precious car too."

Rupert finished his drink, getting up to pour another one. "I can quite agree. I tried to teach her how to drive on my Citron. A very old one at the time." He sat down, sipping his scotch slowly. "She pulled around a semi as it was trying to turn left, did sixty through a school zone, and almost didn't stop in time to avoid running over the concrete bumper in the high school's parking lot." He heard the sound of a crash, getting up to look out the window. "Oh, dear." He turned to look at Derek. "Do you remember that nice gargoyle in the garden?"

Derek's mouth hung open. "That's a good thousand feet into it." He tried to move but Nick clutched at him. "Tell me she didn't hit it."

William walked in, grabbing the bottle of scotch and upending it, gulping it down as quick as he could swallow. He sat down on the couch, letting the now empty bottle drop from his nerveless fingers. "God, never let me do that again," he begged, covering his eyes.

Derek and Rupert laughed as a quiet, "I didn't do *that* bad" floated down the hall, making the London Precept shudder.

Giles held up his glass in a salute. "To the unchangeable Buffy. May she learn how to drive some day, far from us."

Derek drank to that, stroking through Nick's hair.