Title: Oh, Hell, Not You Too!
Email address: email@example.com
Pairings: Derek/Philip, Willow/Oz/Xander, Nick/Buffy, Nick/Derek
Fandom: P:TL/BTVS xover
Status: new; complete
Archive: Sure, if you really want to.
Archive author: Voracity
Archive email address: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 25: Xander's predatory instincts come back out.
Warnings: M/M (not that this should have to be a warning)
Oh, Hell, Not You Too! by Voracity
Derek looked up as two of his favorite family members walked in. He smiled at the new tattoos each of them sported on their upper collar area, in semipermanent ink so they had to be sure and remake their vows each year, presently almost hidden by their matching t-shirts. "Making a statement?" he asked.
Xander set down his paper, grinning. "Only if you don't want to read this."
Derek picked it up, smiling at the title. "Refractive wedding vows for the new millennium based on ancient traditions?" He shook his head. "Needs work."
"It's true," Oz said, sitting down. "We compiled our research for our own ceremony for it." Derek nodded, reading over the introduction. "We want an *honest* opinion," he said, stressing Derek's habit of not telling them the whole truth.
Derek lowered it to look at them, one brow raised. "Are you saying I wouldn't?" He noticed Oz sweating in the chilly room so put down the paper, leaning forward. "What's wrong?"
"Chicken Pox," Xander said, rolling his eyes. "Or that's what Marcus said last night when he checked him." He took the older man's hand. "Gross I'm sure but he'll be fine."
"Just so long as he doesn't follow your example," the Precept said dryly. "I do hope you'll let them fuss over you Oz. I really don't want to pull you from the pool." He looked at Xander. "Speaking of which, how was your last checkup?"
"Still clean," he said, grinning. "Oz went with me and went wolfish with the scratching."
Derek looked at his calendar. "You do know that you will be changed in a week?"
"Sedate me," Oz said weakly, leaning on Xander's shoulder. "I'd rather not tear myself up." He looked up at the younger man. "Want to put me back to bed? I need a nap." He yawned then rubbed his head on the soft material.
"Stop that," Derek said. "I'm sure we have something to put on it somewhere." He opened a drawer. "We should. Nick's had his share of itches."
Xander rubbed over the slightly fevered brow. "We have some but we can't put it into his ear or under his tongue."
"Just don't give it to the children," Derek said, leaning back and picking up the paper. "Christmas party in two weeks, how are you going to do your shopping?"
"Online," Oz said, then looked up. "What I don't already have."
Buffy grinned, going, "Ohhh, how cute," from the doorway. Her smile only got bigger as all three men looked at her. "Moscow, line two."
"Why didn't you let Dominick get it?" he said.
"Because he's out shopping and it was annoying." She disappeared out the door, still smiling.
Derek watched them leave as he picked up the phone. "Derek Rayne." He smiled. "Yes, Sergei, how is your house?"
Nick looked at the young man and kids all bundled up in the foyer. "I'm taking all of you?" He looked at Xander then down at them. "They won't all fit."
"Willow's mothering Oz and Alexandra and we want to go tree shopping." He looked down at the kids. "Besides, we can all fit if we take the new van." He tossed the keys over. "Derek said not to scratch it."
"Yeah, yeah," Nick muttered. He looked at his brother. "Why do we spend more time with them than alone?"
"Because they get mean when you forget about them," he said quietly. "Besides, this will be their first Christmas here and I want it to be special."
Derek cleared his throat. "It will be but without Nick." He looked down at the children. "Why don't you go pick out a spot for the tree?" He watched as the four over bundled lumps of clothing waddled off. "Moscow just called and they need you. They've been having security breaches and a theft of an artifact on display in the house."
Nick frowned. "Derek, it's Christmas."
"I know but this has to come first. The artifact contained something and I'm not sure what or who it was." He patted Xander's arm. "He can leave later tonight so you can still go get the tree."
Nick handed back the keys. "I've got to pack."
"Got it, go get the tree," Buffy yelled down. "Don't make me pout because you're ruining their third Christmas."
Xander grinned. "Ah, the voice of semi-reason."
"I heard that."
"I know," he yelled back. He looked at Derek. "What about the party, will he be back for that?"
"If not we can have a special one for him." He patted the younger man's shoulder and shuddered as his vision went off. "Better yet, why don't you not take the kids."
"Come on," Buffy called, walking down the stairs. "Guys, let's go play in the snow."
"Tree?" Serena asked, looking up at Derek. She looked at her sister as she bumped her. "Tree!" Precious hugged her. "No tree?"
Nick knelt down beside her. "Sure, we can have a tree but we can't have it today, okay? So why don't you guys go play in the snow with Auntie Buffy and we'll get it soon." He stood back up, resting against Derek for support. "What was it?"
"A wreck," Derek said. "With all of you in the van. Sliding sideways down a hill." He looked out the window. "I don't want them going with you in it until I have it checked out." Nick nodded. "Thank you." He looked at the two men then dug around in his pocket, pulling out his keys. "Here, go get one and they can help decorate it."
Nick grinned. "I won't scratch it," he promised, pulling on Xander's jacket. "Come on, let's go." They hurried out before Derek could change his mind.
Derek turned to see his favorite student watching him. "What did you see?" he asked, picking her up.
She laid her head on his shoulder. "Dada booboo." She looked up at him. "‘Kay?"
"Yes, love, they'll be fine, just not if you're there with them." He walked back toward the kitchen with her, then let her go out to play with the others. He headed back to his office, raising his window to listen to them as he made a note in her file.
"How about this one, " Xander asked, pointing to it.
"Crappy, too thin," Nick said, pulling up a branch. "Too few needles. Don't you just hate summer droughts?"
"Not as much as the animals did," he replied, bouncing around to look at the other trees. He finally found the perfect one and Nick wasn't around. "Nick!" He grinned as he came running. "Been teaching the kids that. What do you think of this one?"
"I think you sounded like a father but I'm not your kid." He tipped the younger man's hat askew then looked over this last suggestion. "Looks good to me. What about the back?" He tipped it forward to look. "Bald spot."
"Hide it against the wall, it's the best we've seen."
Nick nodded and waved over the attendant. "We'll take this one."
Soon they were loaded up and heading home. They drove back down into the city, along a steep hill Nick and Xander had both driven hundreds of times. It was just one little squirrel that changed it all.
Derek grabbed his head as his sight went off, falling to the floor. "Nick," he groaned.
He didn't notice Buffy walking in or her grabbing the phone to call upstairs. Once she'd called Willow, she knelt beside him. "Derek, what happened?" He didn't answer so she asked again.
"Wreck, Nick and Xander," he said, groaning again. "Tree."
Buffy shook her head as Jonathan walked in. "Where would they go?"
"Lot up on the hill," Alex said, stumbling in. "Nick's hurt pretty bad."
Buffy nodded, taking Derek's keys from his pocket. "You two stay here and recuperate. Will, the kids are out eating snow and Precious didn't catch it but Tim and Bran did." She looked at the nanny. "Come on, let's go." He wrapped his sweater tighter around him. "I've got the sedan," she called over her shoulder. "And my phone."
They headed out the way Jonathan suggested, looking down over the hills as they went. It was Buffy's enhanced senses that made her pull off and run across the road to look through the dark, then to slide down the hill to the Range Rover. "Nick!" She pounded on the side of the SUV then backed off as she felt it tip. She pulled out her cellphone, handing it off to the nanny as she tried to get the door open. She saw Xander moving. "No," she yelled. "Don't move Xan, you're about to tip."
He nodded, showing he'd heard. He lowered the power windows then turned off the engine. "Buffy," he called out. "What happened?"
"Damned if we know," she said, looking up the hill as she heard a siren. "Tell them about our car," she said. He nodded, telling the dispatcher. "Down here," she called when she heard the car stop.
A police officer came down. "Are they okay?"
"Maybe one of them but it's real unstable." She turned to look at him. "Do I know you?"
He nodded. "Yes." He looked over the SUV. "I'll call for a wrecker. There's no way we can get them out without one." He looked at her. "We do know each other. Want me to turn off your car?" She nodded, studying him. "Don't ask," he said. He headed up the hill again, pulling out his cell phone.
Buffy took hers back, making sure it was off. "Who was he?"
"Um," Jonathan said, looking at her. "You know how I said I wouldn't interfere in your *other* job?" She nodded. "He's the cop that helped Oz and Xander find the guy that shot you."
"That's him?" She looked up the hill, frowning. "Great, another guilty feeling one." She grimaced at Jonathan. "How did you know?"
"He's kinda well known among us. He's done the non-traditional community a great deal of good." He smiled as the officer came back down. "Isn't that right?"
He nodded, looking her over. "Sit, you're tired." She did, letting him talk to them. "Is he living?"
Xander checked Nick. "Yeah, he's got a nasty bruise and lump on his temple though." He reached over but pulled back when the vehicle started to rock. "Never mind. He's living, I can see his breath." He rubbed his shoulder. "Really wish you were here right now," he muttered.
"Who?" the officer asked.
"Someone we know," Buffy said
"He does too," Xander said, looking at him. "Gee, you really don't age, do you?" He shook his head. "This sucks badly."
"Boulders," Buffy added. "Why did you go off the road?"
"Something ran across the road and he slowed down because he didn't know what it was. We skidded on the ice and before he could get control again, we were sliding sideways down here." He looked out the front windshield. "Gee, the news crews."
Buffy shook her head, pulling out her phone. "I'm calling home," she said. "Derek? We found them, they're both living and we're waiting on the wrecker to come stabilize the SUV so they can be gotten out." She looked at the phone and frowned. "Xan, call your mates. Willow had to be put back in bed." She hung up, watching as he carefully reached for his pocket then dialed. She smiled as she heard the soft voice.
"I'm fine," he said as soon as someone picked up. "Nick's out but I'm okay. Well maybe a wrenched shoulder or something." He snorted. "Willow, I'm not hurt that bad. I'll be home tonight if they ever get us out." He looked up as the first fireman came down. "I'll be out soon, love you." He blew a kiss then smiled as a grumpy voice came over the line. "I'm fine," he reassured softly. "They're going to stabilize the Range Rover so they can get us out. All I have is a wrenched shoulder. Nick's out cold." He grinned and hung up. "We made the news," he called.
Buffy stood up, looking at him. "This surprises you? You ought to be in some record book for most head injuries in under a year." She looked at the fireman. "Need help?"
"Only if you have a winch?" He looked her over. "I doubt it though."
"Sorry, left the jeep at home." She looked in the window one last time then backed up. "I'm the girlfriend," she said. "I'm not leaving."
He shrugged. "Fine, just stay out of the way." He caught the line as it slid down the hill. "Got it," he yelled.
The officer backed her up a little farther. "You really care for them, huh?" She nodded. "That's an unusual sight. Usually one with your job is alone."
"Oh, no. Xan, the younger guy, is a friend and the older one's mine." She looked at Jonathan. "Go to the car, Jon, you're blue." He nodded, heading up the hill.
The officer turned to watch him then watched the firemen work at securing the car. Buffy held her breath as they pulled it back, the thing bouncing a little as it hit solid ground again. She headed up the hill to wait for them to make it up, stopping one of the paramedics. "Which one? I need to call their physician."
"Mercy," he said, patting her arm. "Have your boss call them though."
Buffy nodded, getting into her car. "Mercy," she said, telling the nanny to tell whoever he was on the phone with.
"Buffy said they were going to Mercy, Will," Jonathan said. He smiled and handed it over. "Derek."
"Hi, they're going to Mercy. The paramedic said to call ahead and warn them it's Nick though." She grinned and hung up. "He'll call Marcus." She turned the car around carefully, and headed back toward town. "You steer, you're native."
Philip patted Nick's arm as he sat beside him. "Brother, ya go' a hard head." He smiled. "Goo' thing too."
Nick looked him over. "We're related?"
Philip groaned. "Please tell me your jokin'?" The man on the bed shook his head. "Nick, ya nee' better karma." He opened his bible, and made the sign of the cross over him. "A little blessin' never hur' ya ye'."
Derek frowned as Buffy walked down the hall. "Come with me," he said quietly. He pulled her into an empty room, shutting the door behind them. "Philip called earlier. Nick's had some more swelling and he's not.... he's got amnesia." He ran his hand down her arm. "He's fine otherwise but he won't remember any of us. He didn't remember Philip when he came in to visit and he's not remembering Alex or Xander."
"Have you gone in yet?" He shook his head, watching as she bit her bottom lip. "Come in with me, he might remember one person but not both." She patted his arm. "I don't want to be alone if he doesn't remember me too."
He nodded and followed her down the hall, letting her go in first. He nodded at Xander, who was holding his daughter so she could kiss him. "How's he doing?" he asked quietly.
"No change," Xander said, handing her off so he could pull on her carrier and his jacket, and his crutches. He put her into her carrier, then kissed Buffy on the cheek before he left. "Be safe," he called to them.
Buffy sat down in the chair Xander had just gotten out of. "Hi," she said, touching his hand.
"You have a very pretty baby," Nick told her, then frowned at her confused look. "She wasn't yours?"
"No, she's my niece." She looked up at Derek, who nodded. "I'm *your* girlfriend, Nick."
"Oh, I guess the kiss must have thrown me." He looked up at Derek and smiled. "Derek," he said, holding out his arms. "Hug?" he asked, with a slight pout when it wasn't automatic.
Derek was confused but leaned over to give him one, then brushed some of his hair around. "How are you feeling, Nick?"
The younger man took his hand, holding it tightly. "Better now that you're here." He glanced at Buffy. "Can you stay?"
The blonde stood up, pulling back on her jacket. "I'll go call home," she said, walking out.
Nick sighed in relief. "Derek, since when have I had a *girlfriend*? I thought you were the jealous type."
Buffy sat in the newer Range Rover, turning on the engine to stay warm while she called home. "Hey, Al, it's me. He remembered Derek but not me and he's acting way strange." She leaned back in the seat. "No, like asking for a hug from Derek way strange." She shivered, pulling her jacket tighter around her. "Yeah, he actually asked for one." She frowned. "No, not like a friend, I remember you sort of hug. Like a Xan and Oz hug." She made a face at the guard as he passed her. "What do you want me to tell Derek?" She nodded. "Okay, I'll ambush him later." She hung up, shaking her head. "Wonderful Christmas this year," she muttered, turning on the radio.
Derek's mouth fell open. "Nick, we're not together."
His face fell and he let go of the older man's hand. "We're not? When did we break up."
Derek shook his head. "Nick, we've never been together," he said, sitting on the side of the bed. "You've always had *girl*friends."
"But I remember you and I and..." He turned his head. "Never mind, must be a dream."
Derek reached out to touch the younger man's hand but he drew it away. "Nick, I'm sorry. I've never even considered that you might like me that way." He smiled slightly, catching the hand and squeezing it. "This would be a very big change for you."
Nick shrugged. "Forget it."
"You know I can't do that." He thought for a second then leaned over to brush a soft kiss over his forehead. "Rest now, we'll talk about this later." He looked up as Philip walked in. "He remembers me," he told him.
The Priest nodded. "So I noticed." He looked down at the younger man. "Res' Nick, we'll be in the hall for a sec." He walked out, waiting until Derek had followed him. "He's rememberin' ya how?"
"He thought we were together," he said quietly.
Philip nodded. "His fantasy becomin' reality." He looked at the door. "Wha'ever ya feel is bes'," he said and walked back in. "Hey, Nick," he said, sitting in the chair. "Wan' me ta turn on the tv or wanna talk?"
He shook his head, turning to watch Derek walk back in. "No thanks." He rolled onto his side and closed his eyes. "Thanks anyway."
Philip looked at Derek and nodded so he bent down to look at him. "Nick," he said. The bright eyes opened. "I do want to talk about this with you. Frankly, I've never even considered this a possibility but I want to do that now. All right?"
The younger man nodded, grinning, and reached out a hand to run over the smooth cheek. "Okay." He rolled onto his back, looking at Philip. "Are you two..." Derek nodded. "Oh, hell, I'm sorry, Derek, I don't want to..."
Philip stood up, moving to stand beside the bed too. "You aren' so qui'." He looked at Derek. "Both a'us are shocked bu' we're thinkin' okay?" Nick nodded. "Now, res', ya need it." He patted the strong shoulder and walked out.
Nick looked up at Derek. "I don't want to wreck your relationship."
"You aren't." He moved some of the hair off the wrinkled brow again. "Philip was right, you need to rest. I'll be back tonight." He squeezed the hand holding his then backed away before walking out. He headed down to the car, getting into the passenger's side. "What did Alex say?"
"Something about reality shifts and how he was having one. Seems he's been thinking but not acting and now his mind has turned those thoughts into his reality." She started the SUV fully, letting it idle for a second. "He may or may not come back fully though." She put it into gear. "If he's too far down the path that way, it'll always taint him." She looked around then started to pull out slowly, just like Nick had taught her.
Alex looked up as Derek walked into his office. "Hey, missives from Paris about what they did about their Precept in the wake of the reception." She handed it over, getting out of his chair. "New Delhi and Moscow are going to ride the deadline pretty closely." She pointed to a section. "Not too bad of a choice."
He grunted and put it down. "No, not too horrible of a replacement but not very experienced either." He looked up at her. "Why else were you in here?"
"Trying to break into Nick's personnel file," she admitted. "I thought maybe something in there would jog his memory."
Derek shook his head. "We need to wait until the swelling goes down. Until then, I want a guard on his door. He's vulnerable to the other side right now." He turned to look out the window. "I suppose she told you."
"Just that he thought you were together." She smiled. "Not in so many words but the hug gave it away." She patted his shoulder. "You'll figure that out."
"Philip said to do what I thought was best."
"I thought he went back to the Vatican."
"Three days." He looked up at her. "This isn't fair to either of them."
"Ah, but fair isn't at play here." She turned, walking out. "You'll figure it out with your heart," she said.
Derek turned to see the doors close, locking the portal so he could have some private time to think.
Buffy knocked on Willow's door, walking in when she heard the grunt. "Hey, Oz, where's Will? I need to have a girl type talk." He pointed at the bathroom, trying hard not to scratch his ear off. "Need something?"
She nodded then walked over to the door. "Will? Can I talk to you?"
"Buffy!" Willow got out of the tub, outraged voice telling the tale. "I'm *busy*," she said around the edge of the door. She looked over her friend's face and posture. "Give me half an hour, ‘kay?" The blonde nodded, walking out. Willow looked at the bed, waiting until they were alone. "Want to come play?" He shook his head, tossing a ball for the kids. "They're not dogs, Oz, they don't fetch." Daniel barked, grinning at her. "Never mind, I withdraw my objection," she muttered, pulling her head back in and shutting and locking the door after her.
Precious grinned and looked toward the door. "No," Oz said, sitting up. "You know better." She pouted but he didn't quit staring at her. She grinned at him and ran after the ball, tossing it back. "Thank you."
Buffy looked up from her brownie, frowning. "He knew Derek," she said. She waited until her friend was sitting across from her at the small table in the corner. "He thought they were together." She frowned again. "He's gonna leave me soon. I can't compete with Derek."
Willow patted her hand. "It's just temporary. Once the swelling goes down he should remember everyone."
"But Alex said that if it was too strong then he might never let it go, so I'll still lose him." She stopped, looking up over Willow's shoulder. "Girl talk, Derek, go ‘way." She sipped her cocoa.
"Willow, leave us alone for a moment please?" She nodded and got up so he took her place. "I don't want to take him away from you. That thought hadn't crossed my mind. I'd like the old Nick back too."
"But what about what Alex said. I'll still be competing with the figments and I can't *do* that." She stood up. "I'm gonna go sulk in the garden and think." She patted Willow's arm as she went by. "Talk later?"
"Sure," Willow said, sitting down across from Derek. "Every time she finds someone something happens to take him." She blew over her drink, then sipped it as he thought about that. "Even if you don't want to, you're going to. She can't fight a fantasy."
He nodded. "I know but Nick isn't like that."
"Apparently he is in his head." She took another sip. "Do you want him?"
He swallowed and shook his head. "I've never thought about it."
"Liar," she said, grinning. "Give it up, we all've seen you scoping his rear." She grinned brighter when he flushed. "Even when Philip was here."
"I try not to," he said in his defense, "but sometimes he's worth looking at."
"That's a natural thing. We all look. Even Oz and Xander look, even if it is mostly at each other, still." She took another sip and put it down. "What you really need to know is if you can give in but not hurt him or her if it helps."
"Which is impossible. He'll remember and she'll feel betrayed."
"Then you can't."
"But I may have to humor him to some degree to help him get better. I'm the only one he remembers."
"Then you've got to set limits. You can't do some stuff while he's down. That would be betraying Nick, Philip, *and* Buffy." She patted his shoulder and got up. "I'm going to go talk to her. She needs me. You just need a quiet thinking chair."
"I'm having that channel removed," he told her, grinning.
"Hey, you're the one they'll come to for books and stories and play if you do." She grinned, walking out.
He shook his head. "True, unfortunately." He turned to look around the room. "This is too complicated. I've got to break it down." He got up, heading up to his room and his quiet spot. Usually quiet spot. He found a body laying on his bed when he got up there, reading. He frowned, clearing his throat. "Comfortable?"
Xander rolled over, sitting up. "Yeah, very. Your bed's *just* right." He grinned and moved back against the headboard. "Want to talk?"
"Not really. I've already had one with your wife."
"Ewwwwww." He shuddered. "Don't let her hear you say that word. Or the ‘h' one that goes with it. She'll throw a fit." He grinned, patting the end of the bed. "Come sit. It's time I returned the favor for all that time you held my hand and walked me down the garden path of my own mind."
Derek shook his head but sat down. "I've not done this since I was in Oxford with William."
"You used to talk about personal stuff with William? And he understood?" He gave him an amazed look. "I'd hate to have seen the injury that took away that."
Derek smiled then laughed. "Thank you," he said when he was calm. "I feel better now."
"Hey, all part of the job description." He grinned, shifting to let his bandaged ankle have some feeling again. "So, he remembers you as his?" Derek nodded, sobering quickly. "And you have a Philip and a Buffy problem thrown in now but it's really simple. They'll understand as long as he get's better." He reached over to tap on the bent knee. "Anything can be forgiven if he gets better. I'll even forgive you for letting my brother lust after you." He grinned again. "Not that I can picture Nick and you kissing, but, hey, you know." He frowned suddenly. "Hurt him and I'll do you."
Derek nodded. "That's part of what I'm worried about. I'm prepared, as is Philip, to do anything that he needs to be helped to recover. Even sleep with him if it's required. The thing that stops me is that he's going to not only remember but hate me for it." Xander shook his head. "Yes, he will. When he first came here, I stopped him from dating another man, having a long talk with him about what might happen. All of which disgusted him."
"Derek," Xander said patiently, "do you think, with these fantasies he's turning into reality, that he's still feeling that way?"
Derek looked shocked. "I hadn't thought of that yet."
"See, you did need someone that saw clearly. Even if I do have to protest if I catch you rubbing up against him again." He raised an eyebrow, looking very Oz-like at the moment. "Or do you walk incredibly close to him in his tux for some other reason?" Derek sighed, holding his head. "Ah- ha, busted." He grinned. "Caught you trying to rub and cop a feel." He bounced slightly but stopped when his ankle told him that hurt. "Sorry, but I like being right."
"It's not been intentional," Derek excused, "but I believe it may have happened."
"May have?" His grin got that little mischievous hint to it. "Derek, for the last three receptions I've been to, you've managed to rub up against him in almost every direction. Not even Oz and I *dance* that close when I'm being predatory. You've got it bad man."
"No, I don't," he said forcefully. "It's unrequited."
"Nope, not really. My bro's hot for your bod and you're trying to diss him. How kind is that?"
"Xander," he sighed.
"Oh, give it up Derek, at least admit the truth. You like him as more than a friend, colleague, and research guy." He was still grinning when he was hit with the pillow. "You do," he said.
"Yes," Derek admitted, "I may." He stressed the last word. "But that only makes this more complicated, not less. If he had come to me at any other time, I might have given it serious consideration but if I do that now, it'll only push him farther away."
"Then I'd tell him that. He's still a pretty functioning guy at the moment. Confession, as Philip would say, is good for you." He got up, limping toward the door. "Oh, I left you a book under your pillow. Helped me tons." He closed the door behind him.
Derek shook his head at the stubborn young man, but moved up to retrieve the book. "How to know if you're gay," he read out loud then snorted. "I already know that. Not fully." He opened the book, reading the table of contents, smiling at the happy face beside a chapter. "Oh, Xander," he muttered, shaking his head. "Some days you're too much to be real." He lay back, getting comfortable but turning to the chapter that talked about sudden attractions to one person.
Willow caught up with Buffy, stopping her by catching her arm. "Hey," she said. "Still need to talk?" The blonde nodded so they started walking again, next to each other. "He doesn't want to hurt any of you either, he's just not seeing another way."
"But why *my* Nick? Why not someone else if he wants to go cheating?"
"Isn't this Nick's mind that's doing it?" She nodded, grudgingly. "Then Derek doesn't really have a choice. He has to do what's best for him." She stopped them, turning her around. "I know it's hard. I felt the same way when I realized Oz and Xander were attracted to each other, but I got over it because I figured out that it was best."
"But that brings up the whole other issue, what if he doesn't come back?" She frowned, kicking the light dusting of snow. "He could like it so much that he stays there instead of becoming my Nick and then he's Derek's Nick and not mine." She looked up. "I need someone too."
"There's always that detective that helped Xander and Oz."
"He's a vamp, Will, I'm not going back."
"But he might not turn bad." She grinned, pulling on a lock of hair.
"Willow!" She rolled her eyes. "Not an option, ‘kay? Drop the subject. He may be cute but he's way older."
"Alex?" Willow suggested, ducking behind a bush to avoid the snowball.
"Not," Buffy said, rolling another one. "I don't even get what two guys get." She hopped over the bush, wiping at the snow that just hit her. "Meanie." She tossed hers, ducking the one that came flying at her. And so the snowball fight was on.
Alex and Xander watched the two women from the window, smiling. "They needed it," she said.
Xander grinned, poking her on the arm. "Is Nick gonna turn into a bad guy?" She turned to look at him. "I've been reading the database files and it seems like every bad guy has a connection through Derek's bedroom, so..."
He never got to finish, she started to tickle him. "Not all of us," she said, quietly, knocking him down and attacking him.
He squealed, trying to get away. "Alex!" He grunted as a body hit hers, pushing her onto him hard. "Oz! You're supposed to be on my side!"
"Sorry, needed to play too." He tickled both of them, almost smiling at the grins and laughter.
Soon they were a mass of giggling bodies and limbs, laughing and playing. The kids stood in the doorway, watching then shook their heads. Even adults needed playtime it seemed.
Derek led Nick into the house, watching his face to see if he remembered any of it. "Not familiar?"
"Nothing." He looked at the art on the wall. "We've got quite a house here."
"Not just us live here," Derek said, "or work here." He motioned up the stairs. "Everyone's waiting for us probably." He led him up to the library, looking inside, but he couldn't find anybody. "Dominick?" he yelled.
The butler walked down the hall, flanked by the children as he was carrying their tray. "They're all *working* sir." He set the bowls out on the table, helping the children into their seats. "If Master Nick would like, I'll show him up to his room now and he can come back in a few minutes after showering or whatever."
Nick nodded. "Please, but cut the Master crap, okay? That's not me." He looked at Derek in alarm. "I'm not, right."
"No, you're not," he said, patting his arm. "It's a title of respect and affection." He smiled gently. "You fought it when you first came here too." He watched as they walked out, then walked into the control room with a chorus of clapping for disappearing from the children. "What's going on now?"
"London didn't make their check in," Alex said. "We called but there's nobody in the house." He nodded, calling up the records. "They checked in earlier."
"Yeah, but not this time," Buffy said. She turned to look at him. "Nick?"
"Upstairs getting the tour." He looked around. "Alex, you and Oz go to my office, the rest of you let's go out and look busy for when he comes back. He doesn't remember the Legacy so I don't want him to know yet." Everyone nodded and left the room but he stayed to type in one last command so the two working in his office could access the information they needed. He walked out, smiling at the children as they clapped. "It's not hard," he said, sitting next to Precious. "I want you to leave Nick alone for a few days, okay? He doesn't know you right now because he has an injury."
"Boo boo," Willow called. "Big one to his head." She turned around to look down from the second floor. "Give him some space guys, he's not remembering your stories or anything else."
Precious looked up. "No!" She threw down her spoon and walked out, running into Nick and hugging him. "Unclie," she sniffled.
Nick picked her up, carrying her back in. "There, there, baby, it's all right. You'll be okay."
"We just wanted them to give you some space," Willow said, walking down the stairs. "You may normally be their favorite uncle but since you don't remember them then it's best if they don't bug you."
"I'm the favorite uncle," Derek muttered.
"Grandpa," Xander said. "You said so. That leaves everyone else as Uncles and Aunts." He grinned. "Welcome back. Head still hurt?"
Nick shook his head. "Not really. A big foggy feeling but nothing else." He set her in front of the empty bowl. "Did you finish already?"
"No," Derek said, "she splashed it out when she threw her spoon." He poked her on the shoulder. "We do not throw silverware." She pouted, giving him big, round eyes. "No, no more."
Nick shook his head. "She's just a kid Derek, let her have some more ice cream. I'm sure she's being good."
Precious shook her head, mirroring her daddy and mother. "Nope," she said, clapping.
Willow smiled at him. "She's been a terror all day. She can't have any more. And they only get one bowl a day to prevent Dominick and Derek from stuffing them full of candy and that stuff."
"Choo choo," Serena said.
"No chocolate," Xander said. She looked at him. "No, you don't need any. You've had your treat." She pouted and he patted his lap, making her wiggle down out of her booster seat and crawl under the table to get to him, hopping up and down in front of him until he picked her up. "You don't need chocolate. Next week is Christmas and you'll be getting some then. Remember when Grandpa told you about Santa?" She nodded. "Well, he brings *good* kids chocolate. You want some right?" She nodded, sucking her thumb. "Then you can't beg and you have to leave Nick alone when he wants you to." He looked into her eyes until she nodded. "Thank you. Now get a cleaner face and I'll read to you." He set her back down, watching as she licked her fingers. "Washcloth, not tongue." He shook his head as she ignored him and used her wet hand to clean her face off.
"Two days," Willow said. She looked at Derek, who nodded. "Nick, sit, there's something we have to let you in on." She waited until he was sitting. "That one," she pointed at Serena, "and my mate are both werewolves. Her dad was bitten. It's not going to happen for two days but when it does, expect to hear some howling and rattling noises."
He shook his head. "You're joking, right?"
"Nope," Oz said, walking in. "William's in the hospital and no one told us." He stood in front of the sick man. "I'm her other mate. He's both of ours," he said, pointing at Xander, "and I'm a werewolf. Two days from now we'll be upstairs but I'll try to keep it down." He looked at Willow and nodded toward the hall. She followed him out. "Not a great idea."
"We had to tell him," she said, "and Derek said it was okay." She hugged him. "I'm so proud of you. You're getting much calmer in this pre-change time and those nights."
"Don't know why either. I'm always on guard but never anxious."
"You have us," Xander said, walking out to give him a hug. "He still doesn't believe so we'll just have to be more careful." He stepped back. "Thanks."
"Hey, this is distressing," Willow said, pulling him back against her back. "We understand." She looked over her shoulder. "Do you think you'll need to go out before that night?" He shook his head. "Your inner predator's been pretty calm."
"He likes this time. He and Oz's wolf talk." He wrapped his arms around them both but groaned when she ducked out of it. "Hey, wanted one from both of you." He smiled as she got behind him "Okay, I can deal." He pulled Oz closer. "You feeling okay?"
"Bit smooshed but otherwise yeah." He looked up, lapping over the younger man's chin. "You dealing?"
"I will be." He let himself be comforted, still not very comfortable with this stuff. "Okay, enough," he said, pulling back.
"Reached the limits," Willow said, "but it's a record. Almost ten minutes of being comforted."
"Will, drop it. He's not used to that stuff." He wrapped his arms around their waists. "Come on, let's go save them from the kids."
"You're the one that made them hyper," she pointed out. "You had the ball going again."
He nodded. "Needed something to do that wasn't a tree or snow." He led them back in. "Derek, what about London?"
"William will be fine. I just called his wife and he's just in shock. His daughter did what Willow did the first time."
"Early multiples?" He nodded at her, frowning as he looked over her body. "No, Derek, we're waiting until Xandra's in school."
Oz shook his head. "I'm getting fixed as soon as I figure out who."
Willow hit his arm. "No, you're not." She stared him down. "I want more, just not for a few years."
Nick looked at the ones grouped around his feet anxiously awaiting a story. "You have more?"
"One," Oz said, then pointed at Xander. "His." He headed up the stairs. "Be nice to him guys."
"Read!" all the kids yelled.
"Sure," Nick said, picking up the book he'd been brought. "You guys like this stuff?" He held it up so Mom could see it.
"Precious, I said no." She stared at her very talented daughter. "That's too advanced for you guys and I want you to have a *normal* childhood." She picked up the book from the tray and handed it over. "Here, a favorite." She picked up her own book and started to work on it.
Nick grinned at them. "Okay, so a train story?" They nodded, curling up against each other. "You guys gonna nap after this?" They nodded again so he opened the cover. "In a land far, far away..."
Derek looked up as someone walked into his bedroom. "Nick," he said, putting aside his book. "What's wrong?"
"I was having these strange dreams," he said, sitting on the side of the bed. "All these guns and bodies and a jungle." He looked down. "I thought you might know what it meant."
"That's one of your usual ones." He shifted over, letting Nick push back onto the bed some more. "When you were a Seal."
"Like in the circus?" Nick interrupted.
Derek shook his head, smiling. "No, the military. You know, Xander asked about the same question, only he referred to it as the ‘ball balancing on nose kind'."
Nick grinned then started to laugh. "Yeah, we are kinda similar." He looked at his friend. "So we're really brothers?"
"Half." He decided to leave out the complicated genetics information and the still present anomaly of their similarity. "You share a father."
"Gee, I hope he grew up else where," he said quietly. "I remember some of that stuff."
Derek moved closer, laying a hand on his shoulder. "He's been gone for a long time now, Nick, he can't hurt you anymore." He rubbed over the tense shoulder. "Would you like to talk about it?" The younger man shook his head. "Xander grew up with a step-father and his mother, but you're still a lot alike." He pulled him closer, almost hugging him. "I know it was hard but you've been happy since you came here, well cared for and loved."
"Then why can't I be now?" He looked into the bottomless dark eyes of his friend. "Why isn't what I remember real?"
"Because you never told me," Derek said softly. "You always hid what you were thinking behind another woman, who admittedly usually turned out to be bad for all of us." He smiled gently. "Except for Julia."
"Was she the dark haired one that I just saw in the picture?" Derek nodded. "We were close?"
"You were all but engaged," Derek said, "when she died in Ireland." He grimaced. "I can tell you about that some other time, tonight's not the time for that." Nick nodded. "Do you want to know anything else?"
He grinned. "I'm dating someone named Buffy?"
Derek laughed, pulling him into a hug. "A most amazing young woman. You help her train for her calling and she makes you less tense." He pulled back some. "Or is it the name?"
"The name," he said, still grinning. "Mothers can be cruel."
"Nicholas," Derek sighed, "I'm sure she thought it was cute but I'll let you in on a secret. The whole first month she was here I couldn't say her name, I thought I would surely start laughing if I did." His admission brought a bigger smile. "It took you almost four days not to grin when you said it." He pinched the end of the pert nose. "Now go to bed and rest. You'll never get better if you don't sleep."
Nick nodded, getting up. He impulsively grabbed another hug then walked out, heading back to his room.
Derek sighed and laid back against his pillows. "Oh, Nick," he said softly. "You really don't know what you do to me." He shook his head and turned off the light, not wanting to work anymore.
Oz looked at Xander, readying the chains they would need as an in case. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." He tossed the first side down then started on the other, looking over each link. "Why?"
"You haven't gone out in almost a month. Is he still stuck somewhere?" The younger man shook his head. "Xan, answers are a good thing."
The younger man looked up. "I'm just not having him interrupting me," he said quietly. "Drop the subject."
Willow walked out of the bathroom. "Want me to leave so you can talk?" Both men shook their heads. "Why don't you try to call him out now and see if it happens?" She laid on the bed, playing with the coiled chain. "Dance with him here."
Oz grabbed the stereo's remote, turning on the cd player to a disk they both liked. "Come here Xan." He stood up, locking the door. He held out a hand and the younger man moved into his arms. "Relax and make the call."
Xander slumped into the strong arms. "I can't," he admitted. He laid his head on the older man's shoulder. "Oz, just drop it for now, okay?" He shook his head. "Please?"
"What's gonna happen when the wolf sees you as not you?" He stroked over the slender back, moving them. They danced together quietly for a few moments. "Xan?"
"Hmm?" He took a lick over Oz's neck. "You taste nice."
Oz shook his head. "Not the point here, much as I appreciate the compliment." He pulled himself back, looking into the dark eyes. "What's wrong? Is it Will being here?" He got a head shake. "Then why can't you?"
"He's not answering," Xander said quietly, walking into the bathroom and closing the door.
Oz looked at Willow, who shrugged. "How much longer?"
"Two hours," she said, getting up. "I'll go grab Serena and bathe her now. Xandra's already in the nursery." She walked out, closing the door behind her.
"Xander," he called. "We're alone, you can come back now." He didn't get an answer so he knocked on the door. "Xan?"
"Sure." He leaned against the wardrobe sitting next to the door. He pulled the younger man into a hug as he came out. "You all right? Nothing else going on?"
"I'm fine," he said, moving away and heading over to the bed. "Just drop it."
"Too much protesting," Oz said, climbing in beside him. "What's really up?"
"I'm not hearing him. Either of them."
"Were they there after you were released this time?" The younger man nodded. "So where did they go?"
"Vacation?" he suggested, with a hint of a grin.
"No misplaced humor," Oz reminded him. "You don't have to act for us."
Xander snuggled up against his side. "We'll be fine," he said into the solid chest.
Xander backed away from the werewolf, wondering what was wrong. Oz hadn't acted like that around him in months, maybe even almost a year now. He hit the bed with his knees, falling backward. He tried to get out of the wolf's way but he wasn't fast enough to avoid the snarling body that leapt at him. He pushed at the inhumanly strong body, trying to get him off. "No, Oz."
The wolf snarled, making a lunge for his throat. Xander caught the snout, holding it away, barely. "Oz!" He got a short reprieve as the animal backed away but pretty soon, there was another attempt at his throat and this time he wasn't fast enough. He lay still as the teeth clamped, not feeling the skin breaking, just the strong pressure. "You want me to submit, be the beta now?" he asked quietly. Oz moved back, scratching over Xander's stomach. When he saw the hint of resistance, he headed for the vulnerable throat again, this time adding more pressure. Xander could feel the teeth starting to push into the skin so he went limp, giving the werewolf what he wanted.
Oz got off the bed and howled, turning around. He spotted the cub in the corner, heading toward her.
Xander yelled, turning into a roar. His inner predator came out with a vengeance, stopping Oz from hurting his cub. He threw the wolf aside standing in between them, panting and staring, shoulders hunched, fists clenched.
Oz tipped his head to the side, looking over the man he'd just made submit. He snarled, coming out for him again. Xander pushed him off to the side, his eyes narrowing. He jumped across the space, human thought no longer in evidence, and did to the wolf what had just been done to him.
Willow walked in and screamed Derek's name, backing away. She picked up the cub, handing her off to the first person at the door, then grabbed the chains beside the bed, trying to get them onto her boyfriend before he bit Xander.
Xander pushed her away, snarling at her. He looked back down at the animal beneath him, batting the snout to the side, then stood up, backing off but still staring.
Oz growled, advancing. He too pushed Willow out of the way, moving carefully around to try and grab an opening. He turned his head to snarl at the person that had just walked in and that was his mistake.
Xander rushed him again, putting him onto his back and holding him down. He growled into the face, staring directly into the yellow eyes, making his alphaness known and felt. He didn't feel the needle as it hit him but he did try to turn on Derek to protect Oz, trying to bite him. He got in one good one on the older man's leg then passed out, the drug taking over for him.
Oz got up, going to protect his pack member from the insider. It was one thing to fight amongst themselves but for someone else to do it was too much. He snapped at the men, turning on Willow as she got the chains on him. He howled as the dart hit him, falling down on top of his pack member almost immediately.
Derek looked at Willow, holding out hand, holding her as she rushed into his arms. "They're fine, just fighting for dominance. We should cage Oz." He heard the snuffling sound, looking down to see the cub at his foot. "No, Serena," he said, letting her mother go to pick her up.
She had seen what had happened to her parents and who had done it. When she was close enough to be effective, she clawed him across the face, putting a few deep gouges in. She snarled at him as she was pulled back, trying to hurt him for hurting her pack.
Nick led Derek out, sitting him in the hall. "Stay," he said, walking back inside slowly. "Will, we've got to get you out. They've worked it out." He took the cub, holding her far enough away so she couldn't hurt him. "Lock the door," he told her, walking out.
She started to sniffle as she looked at them, her heart ready to break. She picked up the playpen, carrying it out with her, but she locked them in together, trusting Nick to know what he was talking about even if he didn't remember why he knew.
Xander came to first, looking around and growling. He sniffed the air, wanting to find his attackers. He paced around the room, trying the doors as he passed, pounding on the locked one. He turned around when he heard the soft growl, snarling at the wolf laying on the floor. He moved back closer, eyes narrowed, looking for another attack.
Oz looked up and growled then sniffed. He whined, laying back down.
Xander sat down beside him, tugging on the chains and playing with them until they came undone. He tossed them toward the bathroom, patting his pack mate. Oz looked at him, his eyes showing he remembered being put back into his place. The younger man got up, pacing some more. He looked at the soft surface, seeing the wolf moving to it. He went over to sniff it then laid beside him, flipping Oz over to lay across his stomach, a pure alpha move to prove he was dominant. He heard a soft growl so stared at him until it quit then snuggled down into the springy fur to nap off the rest of the drug.
Willow ran into the room, hugging both her men. "Oh, God, you're all right," she whispered, checking Xander over for bite marks. "You're really okay?"
He backed away from her, stepping toward Oz. He remembered her part last night, not defending them. He sniffed in her direction then looked at the older man who walked over to him.
Oz held out a hand, letting him sniff it. "Not your enemy," he said softly, "we're your pack." He ended up taking Xander in his arms, patting over his back. "You're safe with her, she was protecting the cub." He heard the grunt so looked up, trying to find the spark of humanity in the cold eyes. "Xan?" He was licked. "Totally reverted," he told Willow, looking over his shoulder at her.
She nodded, backing out of the room. "I'll come back later, you try to bring him back." She closed the door, running down the stairs.
Oz looked at his mate and sighed. "Not too good." He rested his head on the tense shoulder, willing it to relax for him. "Hey," he said quietly. "Go lay down on the bed and we'll nap. She'll bring us food." He pulled him over to the bed, pushing him down and laying beside him.
Xander sniffed him a few times then landed on top of his pack mate, snuggling down with a few grunts of pleasure.
"Xan, what are we gonna do about this?" Oz asked quietly, stroking through the dark hair.
TO BE CONTINUED.