Title: Illness and It's Solutions
Author/pseudonym: Voracity
Email address: voracitys@hotmail.com
Rating: PGish
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 23: Xander's reinfected so they cure him and he does something really bad.

Warnings: M/M (not that this should have to be a warning)

Illness and It's Solutions by Voracity

Nick spit his water across the table and Derek started to laugh. "Guys, I meant with the aliens again!" He looked at Oz. "I've been scratching like I used to whenever I was upset again but I just now realized what it was." He looked at the dark haired man sitting next to Alex. "What was in my blood work, Marcus?"

The Doctor frowned. "I did notice some residue but it's nothing that hasn't been there."

Derek sat there with his mouth open. Nick patted his hand so he turned to look at him, closing his mouth and swallowing. "Have the pool readied tomorrow. We can do the same procedure again."

Marcus shook his head. "Won't work unless we have an external source." He looked at Xander but the younger man was shaking his head. "Would you be willing to try Rachel's cure?"

Oz shook his head. "He's too ill right now to do that." He looked at Xander, willing him to say no.

"What would you do? Just give me a nasty flu or what?" He looked at Derek. "Sorry, man, but I really don't want to go through the salt bath again. I remember the pain from the last one." The Precept nodded so he looked at Oz. "Be there?"

"Of course." They both looked at Marcus. "So?"

"His weight may be a problem but not as much of one as you think." He frowned, leaning back to think. "It'd have to be something that hit your bloodstream pretty hard. Something fast acting and deadly but not to you." He scratched his neck and looked at Alex. "Help me research it later?" She nodded. "Give us a week."

Derek nodded. "I can do that." He looked at Xander. "Any externalizations of it?" He shook his head. "Goot, then you won't have to be quarantined." He looked at Willow. "If he's had it all along then it shouldn't matter."

She nodded, taking his hand. "I know." She entwined their fingers. "I'll be there too. Happy nurse and everything."

Xander hugged her, kissing her cheek. "I know you will." He looked at Derek. "We need to test Oz."

"I wasn't as infected," he pointed out. He looked at the Precept who was nodding. "If you think it's best." Derek nodded again. "Okay."

"Tonight," Derek said, pushing back from the table. "We can use some of the extra needles around here."

"We have plenty in the lab right now," Marcus said. "Sit and eat." He looked at his boss until he did it. "One hour won't make a difference as long as they're not breaking out in the pustules again."

"Um, not at the table please," Buffy said. "Some of us have weak stomachs and it could get gross." She looked at Xander. "What about the steroids you've been taking, would that have any effect?"

Marcus smiled. "That's a very good notion Buffy. They could be bulking the suckers up." He reached across to pat her hand. "I'll check on that later. Xander, don't take tonight's shot until we know." He got a nod so he turned to Alex. "We need to do a viral infection probably. It would work faster and better."

"Measles?" Willow suggested.

"Maybe but that could have some major risks. I like his idea of a raging case of the flu." He took a bite, looking down the table. "Eat, all of you, that's an order."

Xander pushed back. "No offense to Dominick but I'll eat it later." He walked out, heading for the back door.

Oz looked at Willow then pushed back. "I'll go." She stopped him. "I don't want him to be alone," he told her.

Buffy pushed back. "I'll go, all the germ theory floating around is making me ill." She walked out, heading out after him.

Derek looked at Oz. "We all know you're worried about both of you but as it's been pointed out, you were less infected than he was. We don't even know how or why his stayed when it seemed yours didn't." He clasped his hands together, looking at him. "We will all do our best to not mention this to him. I don't think he needs the stress."

Everyone nodded but no one finished the meal.


Marcus looked up from the microscope as someone walked in, then put the results up on the screen for Derek. "Oz is clean, Xander's not very infected yet." He switched to another slide. "With all he's been through physically, it almost killed it but it went into hibernation until he started to get stronger. It's just now starting to come back around." He switched to an old one. "The only thing I can see is a massive infection again. I've ran a computer simulation against the flu and it didn't work at all in theory."

Derek sat down, looking at the old slide laced with infection. "Can you do that?"

"Yeah, it's not a big problem. He seems to infect pretty easily from his records and what Nick said." Derek nodded. "He's got a weaker immune system, not critically but I'm guessing he got every cold in existence as a child."

Derek smiled. "From what I hear." He looked at the Doctor. "How?"

"Easiest? Cut him and make him not take care of it. Do it deep enough and we won't have to culture it as much and reinfect him." He saw the frown. "Not my most happy option but it should work."

Derek nodded, standing up. "I'll send him down."

"Give him tonight to be comforted. I'll do it in the morning. I'll even reopen the one that Rachel did on his back since it healed so badly."

Derek shook his head. "She did botch that up somewhat, didn't she." He looked at him. "She did it in here."

Marcus shook his head. "No wonder. I noticed the deep cuts with no tissue taken out, the massive scraping and the tissue loss but I had no idea she'd done it unsterile." He looked up from his lower chair. "I want Oz with him. He's got that calming effect."

"The whole time," Derek said. "I'm excusing all three of them from duty until this is cleared up." He looked at him. "I want to be kept informed of each step. I don't want him hurt more than necessary."

Marcus nodded. "Okay. I can do that." He watched the older man walk out. "I'm not her, Derek," he muttered, going back to his analysis.


Xander tried to relax, he really did, but it wasn't working. He closed his eyes, doing his breathing that he did before he did his laps to calm himself. Still not working. He rolled onto his side, seeing the little person beside his bed. "Hey Precious, what's wrong?" He pulled her up beside him. "Feel me being upset?"

She nodded, laying down next to him. "Sissy," she said. She patted his chest, then poked at his shoulder until he moved and let her see his back. "Bad them." She looked up nodding. "Meanies."

He grinned, patting her head. "Yeah, they're not nice at all." He watched as she snuggled down next to him. "Staying?" She nodded, sucking her thumb. "Okay, we can do that." He got comfortable near her, her little breaths calming his and making him become calm. He shook his head as Willow walked in. "We're fine."

She nodded. "I know, I wasn't going to take her." She sat down beside him, stroking over his forehead. "How you feeling? Slimy yet?"

He shook his head, rolling both of them to lay next to her. "No, I feel normal, same as I did when we all thought I clean the last time." He laid his head on her thigh. "Why do they like me so much?"

She rubbed his shoulders, making a face. "Remember how you used to get sick all the time when we were little? Every case of flu in the school, you caught?" He nodded. "I think that they're taking advantage of that. Your body isn't fighting as hard so they do better in it."

"And where I'm run down right now, it's just making it easier?" She nodded, smiling. "I ought to take the advice I've been given and start to smoke some pot, give myself the munchies."

She pinched his shoulder. "Not around the kids." She looked down at him, grinning. "The garden is a different story though."

"We should just call them back and have them remove it or summon it or something." She shook her head. "Can't?"

"They didn't leave call back instructions. From what they can tell all that information was about them and their world, not how to get there." She looked up as someone opened the door. "Hi," she told Nick.

The older man looked down at his brother. "Xander, I hate to do this but you've got to pass the security clearance tests again. It's time."

"Can't," he said, not looking up.

"What?" He sat down on the foot of the bed. "Can't or won't fire?"

"Memories are mostly gone so can't." He looked at him. "Nick, they're both gone. I can't summon up the predator at all either."

He shook his head. "Then I'll teach you again." He saw the head shake. "No? You don't want to?"

Willow frowned at him. "I'd prefer if he didn't have a gun up here or around the kids. They're dangerous to toddlers who are too curious."

"Willow, they're mostly kept downstairs, locking in a very sturdy cabinet." He looked at Precious. "I know Derek told you not to go into doors that are locked." She nodded, still sucking her thumb so he looked at her mother again. "I'm not suggesting he has to keep one up here but that he learns how to use one again. Almost everyone in the house knows how to do the basics, even Alex." He patted her leg. "We'll talk about this at some less tense time," he said as he stood. "I just wanted you to be aware of it." Xander nodded so he walked out.

"You can't call up either of them?" He shook his head. "Since when? You've called at least one of them since we've been home."

He rolled to look up at her. "They've been fading. I noticed it the night of the reception when I tried to call up the predator. I had a hard time the night before but that night it was almost impossible." He looked down at the red hair he was carding his fingers through. "They're back behind some really strong shields."

"Could they be doing it?" She shrugged at his questioning look. "Don't ask me to explain but some sort of maternal instinct? When you went primal last time they were subdued."

He nodded. "Makes sense." He grinned. "Does that mean I'm gonna have a cleaning fit like you used to?"

She grabbed a pillow, hitting him with it. "Don't joke, it's not time for that." She rubbed over his face. "We want you to be better." He nodded so she bent over, kissing him when he came up to meet her. "I want my body back," she sighed, leaning back.

"Aerobics," he said, drawing the word out. "Make you look and feel like yourself again."

She shook her head. "I hate them. Maybe I'll find some other form of exercise."

"Could swim with me," he offered. "When you're over the bleeding stuff," he amended at her head shake.

She sighed. "Maybe, but I think I'll start in the gym first." She scooted down some, letting him rest on her stomach. "Sleep, tomorrow's gonna be hard."

He nodded, closing his eyes and cuddling Precious like his personal teddy bear. "Night Will, thanks."

"We're not leaving either," she said softly, going back to her hair stroking.


Oz winced as Marcus injected the local anesthetic. "Still say that's gross."

"If you're thinking about medical school, this is the least gross thing you'll learn." He looked up, swabbing over the younger man's back. "Really was. Cadavers were much worse and cold."

Oz shuddered. "That's it, I'm not heading for medical school. I'll do the nice normal Ph.D. route, thank you." He sat beside Xander's head. "She did the same thing but he still got infected."

Marcus nodded. "I know, I'm following her formula." He grinned. "Minus the tattoo of course."

Oz nodded. "Good idea." He looked down at the marks, seeing how much they had faded. "Mostly gone."

Marcus looked over them. "It'll never totally leave. He'll have scar ridges at the least." He went back to cleaning the area. "I want him to keep it covered, hear me?" Oz nodded. "Covered in gauze and as dry as possible. No swimming, chlorine kills infections too." He draped a sheet over the now orange area then looked at him. "You gonna be okay with this? I don't want you to pass out."

Oz took Xander's hand. "I've seen worse. What she took out looked really gross."

Marcus nodded. "And she did it wrong too." He picked up a scalpel, unwrapping it. "Okay, here we go." He bent over, looking at the spot. "Talk to him and calm him down. He can still hear you." He opened the skin and stopped to take a picture of the area underneath, making a very bad face.

"Xan," Oz said, bending down to get closer to his ear. "I know you can feel something but it's Marcus, not her. I'm right here and you're gonna be fine." He squeezed the limp hand. "He's being really careful not to make the scar look more gross and you never know, it might look better after it heals this time." He heard Marcus laughing lightly at that. "Hey, she gave him a really gross looking one." He went back to Xander's ear. "I'm here and you're safe. Will and I aren't leaving you alone for this. Nothing that happens between us will ever be by ourselves again unless we ask for it." He looked up at the scar tissue Marcus was removing. "Taking all of it?"

"Yeah, it's pretty deep and it's obstructing some muscle growth." He lifted out another piece. "Still think the shot was gross?"

Oz looked up, seeing the tissue being removed and the healthy insides of his lover's back. "Not really as gross but I still think shots are gross." He looked in interest as Marcus scraped lightly. "Why are you doing that?"

"The top layer was covering the muscles, keeping them from infecting. To have this work, we need to give him a massive infection like the one he had." He looked up. "She did it wrong Oz, I'm not."

The younger man nodded, going back to his reassurances. "I noticed Precious came to cuddle you last night. That was a switch huh?" He squeezed the hand again as a large mass of tissue was removed. "Deep?"

"Very deep scar tissue. I didn't know she went down that far." He looked down into the small incision. "He should start to regrow it quickly once he's better." He looked up as the door opened. "Uh-huh. Kids out." He waited until Willow had taken Serena out and made her stay out. "Hi," he said. He handed her the bowl. "Put that next to the scope, we're going to run the scanner next." He looked at Oz. "The paralytic will wear off in a few hours, but I'll hook him up to an IV to bring him around faster." He lowered the bar. "Back away, we need a clear picture." He looked over his shoulder at the young woman who was staring at the tissue instead of starting the scanner. "Willow, look at it later." She nodded, flipping the switch to move the bar. "Thank you."


Marcus walked into Derek's office, smiling. "Got it. Got a good one started and removed most of the nasty scar tissue she left in him." He frowned as he sat down, looking at the phone. "Who?"

Derek shook his head, holding up a finger. "No, I'm sure we don't need to go that far." He hung up. "Rachel's daughter was taken by the Legacy to be sent to school away from her. Now she's filing to get her back." He shook his head. "So, you started the infection and you removed.... Scar tissue? She left him scarred internally?"

Marcus nodded, handing over his report and the pictures. "Oh, yeah," he said. "I took out almost as much scar tissue as she left and put in a few stitches to help him heal right this time."

Derek frowned. "I should let him sue her but the nature of the disease would come out." He put it down. "Where is he?"

"Bed. Serena's pampering him by having him read to her." He smiled. "Those kids are something else. Smarter than average and advanced."

Derek smiled. "Walking at eight months. Talking just before their birthdays." He winced. "We should have been there for those."

Marcus nodded. "If you had a time machine, which event would you change?"

"This one," he said, tapping the folder. "How long before we know?"

"Two days for sure but I'm pretty sure he's going to infect. No antibiotics this time so no inhibitors." He shrugged, slouching in the chair. "Oh, I'm switching practices. Curt's being a dick so we're splitting. I'll be looking for a new office."

Derek nodded. "If you need help, just ask. I'm sure they and Alex would gladly help you." He turned to look out his window. "I thought you said he was in bed?"

Marcus got up, leaning over the desk to look out the window. "So he can't follow orders, what else do you expect from a Boyle or a Rayne." He sat back down, waiting for that to sink in.

"What?" Derek asked, turning around.

"His DNA test. I had the recent one entered into the computer so we could examine and had it pull up a ‘normal' person's. The computer pulled up yours because it was similar, which led to my beloved Alex's fertile mind jumping to a conclusion and her stealing some of your hair for a relationship test. You match almost perfectly with both of them for parenting." He shrugged. "When did you meet Xander's mother?"

"I didn't." He frowned. "I never slept with Nick's mother either." He leaned back. "Explore this for me. There may be some relationship there, a degree of cousin or something." He shook his head. "Nick will be furious."

"I'd worry more about Xander." He stood up. "If you want me, I'll be at home or looking at new offices. I'll have my phone with me and on though." He walked out. "Blood, take some from both of you tonight and I'll do the test again tomorrow." The door closed behind him.

Derek wrinkled his nose. "Not my favorite activity," he muttered but called Nick in. He waited until the younger man was standing in front of him to say anything else. "We need to talk, sit." He watched him fall into his characteristic sprawl. "Two items. Rachel's suing to get Kat back," he paused at the frown, "and Marcus thinks we may be related somehow. We both need to give some blood."

Nick raised an eyebrow. "Is there something you want to tell me about you and my mom, Derek?" The older man shook his head. "Then what's up?"

"Nobody's sure about anything but when he was comparing DNA samples from Xander before and recently he asked the computer to call up a similar sample from a regular person. It called up mine and Alex jumped to conclusions but it does seem to have paid off. Somehow we're related."

Nick shook his head. "You said you felt closer to Xander than the other three." He stood up. "I'll have Alex pull mine later." He walked over to the window. "He's out playing?"

Derek nodded, smiling. "It's making him feel better so I'm not stopping it." He came over to stand behind him. "Do you have any ideas?"

"I'll pull up the miscellaneous crap file from Rachel's personnel records. It should have something to help you within it." He turned around. "As for the other, unless you donated sperm or time traveled and did it then, not a clue." He turned back around to watch his brother play tag with his kids.

Derek looked thoughtful. "I might have an idea about that," he muttered, sitting down at his computer and calling up a file. "Thanksgiving's next week. We should celebrate," he said.

Nick nodded. "Sure. I'll tell Dominick to plan for it." He walked over. "What?"

"Something I overheard as a child," he said. "Something my father was yelling about one night before he died." He swore softly as he hit a security block. "I need William's access."

"So call the man, he owes you," Nick said, dialing. "William, what's the Legacy project?" He frowned and handed it to Derek. "For you."

"Would this have anything to do with a very suspicious result of some DNA testing?" he asked the London Precept.


Derek handed Marcus the folder he carried, sitting down across from him. "Took William's access to find out the truth but there it is." He watched as he read it, his inner happiness eclipsed by the illness he'd seen this morning at the table. "He looked like he has the plague."

Marcus smiled, eating his sandwich. "Derek, do you know what this means?"

"There's a reason none of us want our children to follow us?" He raised an eyebrow. "Those are all the papers he could find."

"It means," Marcus said, putting down his lunch, "that someone in the past was breeding for you guys. Instead of recruiting every ten years or so, they planned to just keep the children in and only take very promising non-members in." He looked up. "This is amazing. Only the federal governments of some countries have done this in the intelligence communities." He closed it. "I don't want or need to know."

"Nick," Derek said softly. "He's one, isn't he?"

"Definitely. The records were specific. As to how Xander came to be, not a clue unless you did his mom one night." The older man shook his head. "You never know Derek, what with the way you used to live." He grinned, leaning back. "Have you told him?"

"No." He rubbed over his wrist. "Nick's still upset that we may be related. To find out that his father was actually my adopted cousin who was his father's brother is a bit much." He shook his head. "This is too strange, even for my house."

"Hey, all organizations like yours need progeny." He looked up as his door was knocked on. "Yes?"

A nurse walked in, smiling at Derek but rolling her eyes at Marcus. "He's doing it again and Ms. Carmichael is here already." She walked back out. "Doctor," she greeted as she walked out the door.

"Curt," he called, closing the folder. He waited until the other doctor was in his office. "Why are you listening at my door?"

"Just wondering about what was going on." He looked at Derek. "Is this about the research you wouldn't let me in on?"

"That too. This is one of *my* patients and he's come to talk about another one that works with him. Not really anything of concern."

The other doctor nodded his bleached blonde hair. "That's nice. Want me to see her?" He reached for the folder.

"Do you really want to end up in court again?" Marcus moved both files away from him. "Out, Curt, now." He waited until they were alone then handed back the folder Derek had given him. "Such an ass some days," he said, picking up his sandwich and standing up. "I'll be out tonight. Have them keep a running check on his fever and the shoulder." They shook hands then he walked out.

Derek checked to make sure he had all of the file's contents then left also.


Xander looked up from his bed, groaning at the man standing in his doorway. "Hi Derek," he said listlessly. "Need to suck more blood?"

The older man shook his head, sitting down beside him. "I don't have to ask how you feel do I? You look horrible."

"Yeah, that's about right." He lifted his shoulder off the Willow mound of pillows to show the incision. "He did a good job if we wanted to get me really sick."

Derek patted his arm. "It's only been a week but we can't find much of it anymore." He looked around the room. "Want me to open a window? The incense is a bit think."

Xander grinned. "Yeah, kinda." He pulled himself up more, looking around. "Maybe crack a window, I shouldn't get pneumonia from that much."

Derek laughed a little. "Willow?"

"Yup. She says I'm going to keep getting sicker if I do that." He watched him as he opened the window. "Could you get me some more water and that other book too? I'm bored."

Derek handed the book over then went into the bathroom to get some more water, shaking his head at the body on the floor. "What's she doing in here," he asked as he set the pitcher down beside the bed and sat back down.

"Won't leave." He pulled out a tissue, sneezing. "I hate it when she's right."

Derek looked over him. "The infection that we gave you shouldn't be making you sneeze."

"No but going into a pool after the kids did." He looked up as Nick walked in. "Hey bro. Did you catch a cold too?"

Nick shook his head, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Does it really surprise you though?" Xander grinned, shaking his head. "Listen, we've got to talk for a second. Who else is here?"

"Precious, on the bathroom floor. Her own cold is making her miserable so she won't leave me because we feel the same." He blew his nose. "What's up?"

Nick closed both doors then walked back over. "Um, seems we've got an anomaly with our relationship." He sat down on the bottom of the bed again. "It seems I'm the product of a breeding experiment in the Legacy a long time ago." He frowned at Derek. "He's my cousin, or something like that."

Xander grinned. "So we are related," he asked Derek. He patted his hand. "That's okay, I'm not gonna mooch from you." He looked at Nick, who was frowning. "What?"

"Not getting the whole picture here, Xan. My dad didn't father me and we're still related but the guy was long dead by the time you were conceived."

"So, how are we related?"

Derek shook his head. "I'm not sure." He looked at Nick, seeing the nod. "Actually, that isn't the only thing we need to discuss on this topic. When looking at your genetic patterns, they're shifting over toward mine. Right now they almost align with them."

"Like I was your kid?" Derek nodded. "Wow. Not a strange thing at all." He sneezed again, then blew his nose, wadding it up before anyone could see the blood. "So, now what?"

"There's the possibility of testing error or that one of ours was done wrong the first time. Or that the information could be wrong."

"So, does that mean that you're not my brother and this is all being a really strange fever dream?"

Derek picked up the thermometer, sticking it in his ear. He looked at the reading when it beeped and frowned. "Too much higher and you have to go the hospital," he warned.

"They don't like the fever though." He grinned at Derek. "So, Dad, what now?"

Derek smiled, patting his arm. "We'll figure this out before you're well again." He stood up, nodding at Nick to leave first. He waited until they were alone. "I already think of you that way," he said quietly. "Never doubt that we're your family." He wiped some sweat off his forehead and left the room, closing the door after him.

"You nap?" Precious asked, crawling up onto the bed beside him. "Me?"

He shook his head. "No, sweetie, I can't nap with you. I'll make you sicker." He patted her head and got out of bed to let her out. "Why don't you go cuddle Dad, I'm sure he's home now." She nodded, looking up at him as she left. He closed the door and was walking back to bed when he sneezed again, not able to hold it back now. He grabbed a tissue, holding it to his nose to stop the bleeding. "Just a little longer," he said. "Then we can kill the suckers." He laid back, holding his nose to make it stop bleeding faster.


Xander looked around as he walked into the kitchen. Dominick had told him that the night butler wouldn't be here tonight, so he had free reign over the food stores. He pulled open the fridge, seeing all the yummy treats that were almost ready for the dinner in two days but he bypassed them for the simple pleasure of a brownie, carrying it into the freezer with him.

"Take this suckers," he slurred as the door shut behind him.


Oz woke up and looked around. It was still dark, there was no coughing from the other room, and no noise. He laid his head back down, trying to figure out what had woken him when one absence hit him again. No coughing. No sneezing. No Xander coughing and sneezing. He swung his legs out of the bed, smiling as he ran into his daughter. "Precious, where did he go?" She pulled on his pants leg, wanting him to come with her. He picked her up and they walked down the hall together, knocking quietly before entering. He flipped on the lights to check but the room was empty, he'd known as soon as he opened the door. He put her down, getting down on her level. "Where did he go?" She sneezed so he patted her head. "Is he cold?" She nodded. "Okay, I want you to go back to bed and I'll bring him back, okay?" She nodded again, heading for his bed. He watched her snuggle under the pile of blankets and pillows Willow had brought in then walked out. He undid the gate, locking it behind him before heading downstairs. He heard a noise so turned around to go back up. He took the thermometer from Daniel, looking at it. He kissed the top of his son's head, bringing it down. If it was right, Xander must be delirious by now.

He knocked lightly on Derek's door, hearing him moving around. When it was answered he simply handed over the thermometer and walked away. He'd made it all the way to the bottom of the stairs before the older man caught up. "She says he's cold," he told Derek.

Derek shook his head. "I ‘saw' him in some water. Go check the pool, I'll head out for the pond." He headed out the nearest door to the garden.

Oz walked back toward the pool. He looked around the kitchen as he passed through, not sure why, but kept going.


Xander waited until he was cold. Not regular cold or even blue fingers cold, but gonna lay down and die cold. He opened the freezer door, looking around, then headed for the shock of some warm water. He grinned when he found the pool empty and took off his slippers to dive in. "Take this too," he said quietly, diving into the deep end.


Derek's sight went off. He looked around and headed back toward the house. "He wasn't in the pool?" he asked, pulling him with him.

"Not when I walked through. He may be now. Have another vision?"

"He's in the water, very cold." He tried to get the lock open but it didn't work for his fingers.

Oz pushed him out of the way, doing it for him, his fingers being smaller and more dexterous. They walked in together, looking around. No body floating. Oz kept staring at one shadow, not knowing why. He started to walk around toward it, then dived in. "Damn," he said, swimming over.

Derek turned when he heard the splash, not seeing why Oz was in there. As he got closer, he saw the dark form hidden in the shadow, floating peacefully. "I'll kill him," he said, grabbing the tow line off the wall and hurrying over to the nearest side. "Is he still living?"

"Cold but yeah." He caught the rope, tying it around the younger man's chest. "You want first yell or shall I?"

"Oh, no," Derek said, pulling him in. "I get it this time." He lifted him out of the water, setting him on the tiles. He helped Oz out then the looked down at the shivering man. Derek pulled out the thermometer from his pocket, taking his temperature. "Below normal. Go get a blanket."

Oz walked over to the first aid kit, pulling out the thermal blanket that was in there. He handed it over. "Rachel and I both told him it was allergic to cold."

"So he got cold and then jumped in to shock them into dying?" He raised a brow. "A temperature of a hundred and four does not excuse you from common sense." He fussed with the blanket. "Not that I'm surprised after his salty bath the last time."

Oz nodded. "Very." He sat down beside him. "Hospital?"

"Oh, yes," he said. He got up to grab the phone, dialing Nick's room. "Get up," he said angrily. "Your brother just proved himself to be like you again and we need to take him to the hospital." He hung up and walked back over to check him again. "You really are a Boyle aren't you," he said, frowning.

Nick came rushing in, partially dressed. "What'd he do now?" He looked down at the shivering man. "He went for a swim?"

"No," Derek said, "his royal Boyleness, after figuring out that he had a hundred and four degree temperature decided to remember that the aliens were allergic to cold so headed to get that way. *Then* he jumped into the pool."

Nick shook his head. "Not from my side of the family. We're not that stupid." He patted Oz's head as he walked past. "Give me five to warm the chopper up."

"Huh. Now I have blackmail material over him," Oz said. "That'll stop most any needless argument." He reached over to touch his head. "Warm again."

Derek took his temperature again. "Yes, he's running a fever still, but he's still cold." He looked up as he heard more footsteps. "Figured that gate out too?" he asked Precious and Serena, who nodded.

Serena laid down on his chest, hugging him. "Me go," she told her father. He shook his head so she repeated it louder. By the fourth chorus she was screaming it as loud as she could.

Derek looked at him. "You might as well let her." He looked at Precious. "Go back to bed." She shook her head. "Then go wake your mother and tell her to call me."

"Willow doesn't understand them. It's like Lassie and Timmy between us." He looked at her. "Precious, go climb into bed beside her and take this," he took off Xander's bracelet, handing it to her, "to give her once she's awake. Tell her he's sick." She nodded, waddling back out.

"Timmy and Lassie?" Derek asked. "Wasn't that a show about a dog?"

"Yeah and only Timmy could understand her when she barked." He listened, hearing the sound of the rotors. "Let's take him down. Nick's got it started." He bent to pick up his head, looking at his daughter. "Hang on really tightly, okay?" She nodded, squeezing him, making some of the water run off.

Derek shook his head. "We're going to have a long talk when we get back," he promised. He picked up the younger man's legs, helping carry him out to the chopper.


Willow grunted as someone shoved on her chest. "I'm not dead, no more CPR please." It happened again so she opened an eye to look and see who it was. "Precious, you're in trouble if that's you." She caught the silver thing falling from her daughter's hand. "What's this," she said, sitting up and turning on the light. She looked at it, frowning. "Did he take it off?"

Precious shook her head. "Sick," she said, clapping at her job well done. "Me good?"

Willow nodded, hearing the chopper take off. "Was you daddy on that?" She nodded. "And Xander?" She nodded again, grinning. "Damn him," she said, getting out of bed. "He had to do something stupid on my first night of real sleep in a month." She looked at her daughter. "Where was he?"

"Pway!" she yelled, showing off her wet feet.

"Ah, the pool," Willow said, pulling on her bathrobe. "Come on, I'll put you to bed and then I'll go call Derek." She picked her up. "Grow up to be like Oz instead of Xander, okay?" She rubbed her eyes as they walked out, heading for the nursery. She put her back in bed then headed downstairs, knocking on Buffy's door as she passed it. "He's going to the hospital," she said during a yawn. "Maybe we should call Marcus." She walked down the last flight, grabbing the phone at the bottom and dialing his service. "Hi, this is Willow Rosenberg and my boyfriend is a patient of Marcus' and he's just been taken to the hospital with a high fever. Is he on call tonight?" She frowned at the phone. "No, we really don't like him. I guess we'll trust the ER doctors." She hung up. "Only men could do this now." She looked up at Buffy and Alex. "Curt's on call."

Alex reached over the railing, dialing their doctor's phone number. "Yeah, but he's a light sleeper." She tapped her foot as it rang. "Marcus? Get up and go to the hospital. They just took Xander in." She smiled as she hung up. "Interrupted his post-coital nap." She sat on the stairs. "Where'd they find him?"

Willow handed over the bracelet. "Pool by the bottom of Precious' feet." She sat down beside her, waiting on some word.


Marcus picked up his phone, groaning into it. "Hmm?" He sat up, looking around. "Okay, I know where they're headed. I'll meet them." He hung up and patted his lover on the back. "Got to go, got called in."

"You promised you weren't on call," the deep voice said from under the blankets. He pulled his head out. "You're not, right?"

Marcus smiled from where he was pulling on his pants. "No, but he's a special case and he hates Curt enough to kill him." He pulled on a t-shirt. "Sleep, I'll be back tomorrow after we've reduced his fever." He grabbed his stuff off the dresser and blew a kiss. "Night."

"I'll make breakfast," he muttered, laying his head back down, more than used to this.


Marcus walked into the emergency room, smiling at the nurse. "Please tell me you didn't call my partner for him?" She shook her head, giving him a look. "Thanks," he said, kissing her on the cheek as he walked past her. He walked past the waiting area, yelling out, "Derek, come," as he passed. He made it into the curtain to see Oz in there, getting bumped into by Derek from behind as he stopped. "What'd he do this time?" He took the chart from the nurse and sat down to read it. "Oh, good, hypothermia on top of a high fever and pneumonia from blood in his lungs." He looked at the two men. "You let him sleep alone?"

"He insisted," Oz said, rubbing over his lover's hand. "Want to kill him for us? Save Will the trouble?"

Marcus smiled. "No, but I want to watch her tear into him over this." He checked the temperature reading. "Going up steadily." He looked at Derek. "So, what really happened?"

Derek sat on the other chair as Oz climbed up to sit on the bed. "All we know is what Precious told us, well Oz." He shook his head.

"Precious woke me and Tim brought me the thermometer, one oh four reading, then watched as we headed downstairs. I woke Derek and he'd been having visions of water."

"Well, the thing is adversely affected by cold." Marcus looked at them. "Freezer?"

"Probably," Oz said. "Then the pool." He frowned down at his lover, pinching the back of his hand. "I ought to tell them you're suicidal."

Derek shook his head. "He's not, just desperate to get over this again." He looked at Marcus. "Pneumonia?"

"From some accumulated blood." He tossed over the chart, taking the nurse's stethoscope to listen. "He been coughing or having nose bleeds?"

Derek shrugged. "He's wanted to be left alone."

"Last time for that," Oz muttered.

"I've seen him sneezing and he was coughing lightly but without any congestion." He patted Oz's arm. "He'll be fine. If he can live through multiple head injuries he can survive this."

"Good because I want to kill him." He hopped off the bed, hearing the pained whine. "Oh, now you know I'm here?" He moved around Derek to the head of the bed. "Don't *ever* do this to me again," he said.

Xander coughed and wiggled some, trying to get closer to him.

Marcus looked at Oz. "You just proved he knows you even when he's not aware of anything else." He looked up as the nurse walked in. "Blood work?" The man nodded, but didn't hand it over.

"That abnormality is the basis of my research and it's not harmful, catching, or anything else," he assured him. The nurse nodded, handing it over. "And Curt is to never see this. He'd kill him just to examine him." He stared at the nurse until he smiled. "Yeah, it's dying now. Down by thirty five percent of yesterday's." He handed it to Derek. "Want to have him here or bring him home?"

"Home," Derek said, then looked at Oz, who shook his head. "Not going to help take care of him?"

"No. He did this, he can suffer." He walked out, heading outside.

Derek looked at Marcus and sighed. "Were we like this?" The doctor nodded. "It's a goot thing you remember because I don't." He handed back the chart. "We'll be back." He followed the younger man out, walking out to where he was leaning against the side of the helicopter with Nick. "Oz," he started but he just walked away.

"Was pretty childish," Nick said.

"He's twenty," Derek pointed out. "He's supposed to be that way. He did it to keep us from having to worry and that damned independent streak he gets from you. He wanted to spare all of us the pain of having him sick so he took care of it for us." He rubbed over his forehead then looked down at himself. "Sounds like something you would do."

Nick shook his head. "I'd lay in bed and complain."

Oz walked back around. "He didn't even do that. He didn't want us to take care of him." He turned to slam his fist into the side of the helicopter. "Why is he so independent around us? We've talked about this."

"Yes, but he's been taking care of himself for a long time now," Derek said, laying a hand on his shoulder. "We should have all expected this from him. It's the same thing he did with the salt bath back in the first bout." Oz nodded, not saying anything. "Come here," he said, pulling him into a short hug. "He'll be fine."

"Yeah," Oz said, "he will or she'll kill him." He patted down his bathrobe pockets. "Change? Should call them."

Derek pointed at the inside. "Cell phone." He watched as Oz got in and shut the door. "I had wondered who called Marcus in."

Nick shook his head. "Alex." He looked over his shoulder at the younger man holding his head as he talked with the people at home. "Need to go sign him in?"

Derek shrugged. "Are you sure we want to risk it?"

"No, but we don't have the stuff at home to deal with him."

Oz got back out, handing the phone to Derek. "Alex," he said, heading for the hospital again. "We're admitting him," he yelled.

Derek put the phone up to his ear. "Alex?" He frowned. "No, Willow, he's doing much better than expected at the moment. No, dear, Oz said to have him admitted." He rolled his eyes, handing the phone to Nick. "Talk to your sister-in-law." He headed after Oz, wanting to get away from them.


Xander woke up feeling incredibly better and restrained. He opened his eyes to look around but he was right, his wrists were tied down.

"You were fighting the nurses, lay still," Oz said. He didn't move from his corner. "I ought to tell them to medicate you because you're suicidal. No sane person would do crap like that." He crossed his feet in the other direction. "Want to rationalize this for me so I can go tell her and have her not jump me for it?"

Xander let his head fall. "Had to get rid of it and it didn't like cold." He turned his head to look that way. "I'm in deep, huh?"

"You really need that answered?" He still didn't move. "Serena's not been sleeping since you went down." He almost frowned when they were interrupted by a nurse. "Give us a sec, okay?" She nodded, leaving them alone. Oz got up, walking over to the bed, then leaned down until his head was right in front of the younger man's. "If you *ever*," he said quietly, "do something that stupid again, I will let her tear you up and use you as fodder." He released the wrist straps but then redid them only tighter. "Did you really think we wanted you to suffer alone? Are you that insecure that you think we'd do that?" Xander shook his head. "The truth?"

"Yeah," he admitted, turning his head away. It was turned back for him. "There's no reason..." He was shut up by the pillow.

"Now maybe you'll listen," Oz said, leaning on the thin white cotton. "Love means not having to be alone, even when you're sick. Even when you want to be but shouldn't. It also means that we worry about you when you don't feel good or even when you do." He removed the pillow. "Got it?" When he got a nod, he put it back. "Now then, you will lay there and whine like a good man the next time you're sick. We may not wait on you hand and foot but we will be there." He looked up as Derek walked in. "We're having a discussion, out." The older man raised a brow but left them alone. "You will not do something this stupid *ever* again because next time I'll let her follow you down." He saw the panic in the younger man's eyes so removed the pillow. "You've been out for a week and yes, she tried to go into a trance state and find you." He lifted his head, putting the pillow back where it belonged. "Do we have a clear understanding of why you're not alone and you don't have to take care of yourself anymore?" Xander nodded. "The truth, please."

"I hate being dependent..." A hand was placed over his mouth. "Oz! I need to say this," he said through it.

Oz shook his head. "Let me explain this one more time. *You* *are* *dependant* *on* *us*. That's what it means to be a couple. Same as we depend on you when we're sick or hurting, you can do the same, really." He looked down into the dark eyes. "Really." Xander nodded. "Good, you won't be doing this again because if you so much as sniffle she's treating you like one of the babies."

"A goot plan," Derek said, walking in. "He acts like one of them so should be treated like one." He looked at the restraints. "You had him tied down?"

"No," he sighed, laying on the bed, "he started to fight with the nurses while he was sedated." He looked over as she came back in. "Can I release him now? He understands that he's an idiot." She smiled and ripped them off, letting them hang off the bed. "Thanks."

"Off the bed," she said, pushing him away. "I need to listen to him not you." She waited until Oz was off the bed before checking him over. "Good news Mr. Harris, you're living." She grabbed his ear, twisting it. "End up back on my ward again for something like this and those restraints will be your fondest memory." She patted the sheet back into place then left them alone.

Derek watched her walk out, smiling. "Maybe we should bring her home to take care of you." He looked back at the two younger man, both of who were shaking their heads. "Are you sure? It could be better than William wanting to come watch over you."

Xander looked at Oz. "Are you sure this isn't hell?" He got a nod and a light kiss. "Okay." He rolled onto his side, yanking out his IV and tossing it away so he could curl up. "Night," he said softly, taking Oz's hand.

Derek shook his head, picking it up to wrap around the pole. "So typical." He walked out to tell them what had happened.

Oz looked down, stroking over the soft hair. "We'll get you working right yet," he whispered, pulling the chair over to sit and watch some more.


Willow slapped Xander then hugged him, holding him tightly to her. "Do it again and I'll find you and pull you back to kill you." She kissed his cheek. "Go sit down," she ordered.

Nick walked over, shaking his head. "Bro, you've now beaten my record for stupidity." He patted his brother's shoulder. "Don't want to be in your shoes." He opened the living room door, showing all the food laid out. "Sit, you deserve to eat too."

Xander was led in by Derek, who pushed him down into a deep and comfortable chair, watching as a little escapee from upstairs climbed into his lap. He was handed a plate and a drink, and a tray to put them on, then everyone took their own to sit down and eat.

Xander ate a bite then looked at Oz and Willow, who were watching him. He gave them a questioning look, taking the piece of turkey his daughter was trying to feed him. "Thank you Serena," he said. She smiled, sighing and leaning into his side.

"At our house," Oz said, "we used to go around and say what we were thankful for."

"My family," Xander said, looking directly at them, "who care no matter how irrationally I act." Willow nodded, starting on her own lunch.

Buffy smiled at him. "Does that mean I can have your velvet wall hangings?"

He shook his head. "No." He looked down at the bundle of comfort leaning against his side. "They're hers next."

Oz shook his head. "If she starts showing a drift toward that direction, she's going to convent school." He took a bite of his turkey. "Did great, Dominick," he said.

The butler smiled. "He does seem to inspire the unusual sit down meal." He walked out, leaving them alone.

Derek nodded, swallowing. "Very true. I don't know when we've had more meals like this." He looked at Xander. "Don't do it again. Nick likes to eat on the run."

Nick snorted. "Not me, you like to eat at your desk as William harasses you, it gives you a reason not to answer." He turned his head as the doorbell sounded. "Speak of the devil?"

Derek got up to close the door. "I didn't hear anything," he said, sitting back down. Everyone started to laugh.