Fixing it. Again by Voracity

Alex opened the trio's door slowly, peaking her head in to look at Oz. "We okay to come in?" He nodded, pointing at the man curled up across the foot of the bed. "What's happening now?"

"He's a predator, he sleeps when he's not hunting," Oz told her. He shifted some, earning him a soft slap to his leg. "I can't call him back yet and we have two more nights."

"We're going to lock you back up downstairs." He shook his head. "Oz, this is not a optional request. You tried to kill him last night."

"Dominance. I wouldn't kill him. I'd turn him into a beta but I wouldn't kill him." He reached down to move the velvet throw over the tired body. "We'll be fine, keep Serena elsewhere tonight." He looked her in the eyes. "He needs me as much as I need him."

Buffy tapped, bringing in a tray to put on the table. "You got out to go to him," she reminded them. "You'd do it again tonight." She looked at Alex. "He's the only one that can bring Xander back, so we have to accept. And we still have the first night spell so even if he does bite him, we'll fix him."

Alex shook her head. "It didn't work on Kristen."

"She'd been bitten before but it wasn't enough to turn her," Oz reminded her. He looked down at the body, seeing it tense. "Um, Alex, out." He looked at Buffy. "Are you in heat?" She shrugged. "You remember what happened last time."

She backed out of the room, running into Derek and hissing at his new stitches. "You okay?" she asked quietly.

He nodded, walking in. "Oz," he said quietly. "We have to do what's right for both of you. You almost attacked Serena last night."

"Predators often kill off their rival's children when they become the alpha." He looked down at the now really tense body. "I wouldn't be here, he's awake." Derek didn't move. "I mean it, I can't save you if he decides to eat you." He moved toward the body, making soft noises in his throat. "Out, Derek. Now." He stared him down. "You can't help and you'll only get hurt worse."

The Precept nodded, heading back to the door but not leaving. "We still need to talk."

"He'll attack Willow." He brushed over the dark hair. "I'm here Xander."

The younger man looked up, growling when he saw the unfamiliar male in his territory. He lunged off the bed, trying to reach him. Oz was faster, holding him down on the carpet. Xander let out an enraged howl, raising the hairs on all of their necks.

"Xander," Derek said calmly, walking a step in. "I won't hurt you unless you try to hurt someone else." He got down to be on eye level with the younger man. "I did what I had to to protect your cub. I know you didn't want her or your mate hurt." He frowned at the renewed howling, looking at Oz. "He's not come out at all?"

"Not yet." He reached down to pet the soft hair, running his hands over the smooth back. "Hopefully tonight. All I remember is that I fought him then went to cleanse the bloodline." He shuddered. "We've got to keep us separated for now. I can't hurt her." Derek nodded. "When I tried to make him beta, he snapped, coming out fully. Xander, the human versions, probably knows what he's done so he's not wanting to come back but I'm working on it. If he's not back in two days, I'll bring him downstairs." He looked into the older man's eyes. "It's my duty Derek, he's my alpha, my pack member, and my mate."

The older man nodded, standing up. "You two are the experts here, I'll leave it to you to handle." He stared down at him, wanting to make sure his next point was gotten. "If you're not successful, something will have to be done."

Oz shook his head. "I can't let you do that. I'd join him the minute you tried to take him away from me." He looked into the dark eyes. "Trust me on this, you won't be able to separate us ever. Not now."

"It'll have to be done. He's dangerous."

"Not to us." He looked at Willow, waving her over. "Get out, Derek, we need to be alone." He watched as the door was shut. "You okay?" he asked quietly.

She nodded, biting her bottom lip. "Is he more normal?" He shook his head. "Now what? Last time it was exposure."

"This time had different causes." He looked her in the eyes, not wanting but needing her to know. "I won the dominance fight for a while." She paled. "I'm sorry but for some reason the wolf decided to challenge him. He came out to protect her."

Willow sighed, reaching over to pet his hand. "I know that it happens but I don't want her hurt."

"Me either. Have Derek keep her tonight and until this is settled."

"If you're not going to push him then she could come back. She might even help." He shook his head. "Think about it Oz. She and/or Xandra may be the only things that can bring him back. He loves them enough to let this happen." She rubbed over his chin. "Eat," she said quietly, "I'll discuss it with Derek."

"No. It stays here." She shook her head. "He wants to take him away."

"If he's dangerous to people then maybe it's the right idea." He shook his head. "Maybe someone more professional could do it through hypnosis."

"Will," he sighed, "it won't happen without us. He trusts us to protect him in any state. Any one else and he'd go into hiding in his mind." She started to shudder. "I know, not a good thought, but it's the truth." She nodded, wiping her cheeks. "He's not dangerous to us. We're his pack. What happened to Derek anyway? He was limping and it looked like I scratched him."

She smiled, moving closer. "When he came in, Xan saw him as an external threat so he tried to protect you. He got a shot, I got the chains on you and you were tranqed too. But Serena had seen what happened so she walked over to him to finish what Xander's bite to his leg didn't. Her claws got him, not yours."

He shook his head, a slight grin being hinted at coming out. "He bit Derek?"

"On the ankle. Pretty deeply." She kissed him. "What do you need me to do?"

"You're the mate. Only you for right now though." He looked down at the still body. "Want food?" He got off the tense back, watching as the younger man sprang up to standing. He looked up at him. "I couldn't let you attack him. He protects us."

Xander started to pace around the room, sniffing and rubbing up against stuff. He came to the table, sniffing at the food there, then knocked it over, snarling at it.

Willow walked over, picking up a piece to look at but he batted it out of her hand. When she looked up at him, she saw the fear so she stayed on her knees, resting her head against his stomach. "Okay, you win. We won't eat that."

Oz came over to look at it, pushing a piece around. "Drugs," he said, holding up a piece of steak with a suspicious hole. He looked at the younger man. "He's protecting us still, he remembers us on some level." He came over to do what Willow was, sniffing him lightly as he leaned against him. "Thanks Xan. We love you too." He covered his ears as another howl rang out. "What's wrong," he asked, rubbing over a tense leg. "They won't hurt you."

Willow looked at him. "I'll go make you guys food." She started to stand but he kept her down. "Xan, if you want food, I'll have to get up."

Xander did something strange, he fell down between them, rubbing his face against theirs, humming lightly. When he was done, he walked away, going back to curl up on the bed and watch them.

"Marking us with his scent?" she suggested, but he shrugged. "Now what?"

"Now you go fix us undrugged food and we'll be up here for a while longer." He crawled over to the bed, too tired to get up to walk the five feet. He climbed up behind the younger man, laying his head on the small of his back. "Night Xander." He got a wiggle but nothing else.


Derek looked up as Willow walked into his office.

She leaned across the desk, punching him hard enough to send him out of his chair.


"If you *ever* send either one of them drugged food again, we will leave and take the kids. You will *never* see them again." She walked out, heading for the kitchen.

Derek got back into his desk chair, rubbing his jaw. "I didn't know you could hit like that," he muttered, moving his jaw around to make sure it was still whole. "Next time I'll be more subtle." He looked up as Nick walked in. "You want a shot too?"

Nick looked at him then grabbed some ice off the bar, wrapping it in a towel. "Here." He sat down, watching as the older man rested the cold pack against his face. "What happened?"

"Willow found out that I tried to tranquilize both of them to separate them." He leaned back, resting his now throbbing head. "She was most displeased."

Nick shook his head. "Why even try? You and I both saw how they protected each other against you last night. It'll only bring them both to harm." The older man shook his head. "Derek, explain that to me. I really don't understand what's going on."

The Precept sat back up, wincing as his head moved. He pulled out the bottle of pain reliever from his desk and took a couple with his glass of scotch. He looked over the younger man. "Are you sure you want to know?" He got a nod so he steepled his fingers, resting his chin on them. "Your brother was possessed by an animal spirit a few years ago. A hyena to be exact. He and Oz have been fighting for dominance on and off but Xander generally wins. It's never been violent, never more than a staring or silent pressure sort of fight before. This has happened once before and Oz cured him of it by submitting to him, bringing out his alpha side so the man underneath could contain him again." Nick nodded. "Last night, the dominance fight turned violent for some reason and Oz won for a minute. Unfortunately, most predators tend to kill off the old alpha's cubs so he went for the little girl. Your brother's animal came out then, and fought him. That's where we came in." He leaned back again, putting the ice pack on his jaw again. "You're right that they're fighting to protect each other because what's between them is much stronger. They've faced almost every adversity together for the last three, almost four, years. They're pack members and mates. And he's the only one that can bring your brother around."

"So why separate them?"

"I thought that if they were separated tonight then tomorrow Oz could start to rebuild him again like before." He shrugged. "It worked before but neither Oz nor Willow would agree to it."

"So you had them drugged, or tried to, but Xander found out?"

"It could have been Oz. He has particularly acute senses on these days." He moved the pack to a scratch. "We'll be keeping Serena away tonight."

"But if it came out to save her, then wouldn't it be better if she were there?" Derek shook his head. "Why not?"

"He could hurt her. They might start fighting again. Oz is many more times powerful than Xander when he's turned. Eventually he'd win and try to harm her again."

"No he won't," Oz said. He looked at Nick. "That's what Willow thought too but I won't let her in tonight unless I know we won't fight." He leaned on the desk, frowning at Derek. "If you *ever* try that on us again, I will bite you and then tear you up so turning you won't be on my conscience. I won't have you hurting Xander. Never. Do you understand that?"

Derek nodded. "He's like my son, Oz, I never want to see him harmed but you can't stay together tonight. A night's separation could help him come back."

"Or it could bring him farther down. Hyena's are pack animals, same as people and wolves. We need the rest of the pack to survive." He stared into the dark eyes. "You can't sedate him all night, he'd die, and you can't have him watched because he'd eat whoever did it. Drop it and let us handle it. As you said, we're the experts on this here."

The Precept in him wanted to fight about this but the latent father in him that loved Xander like his own knew that the younger man was right. "What happens if it doesn't bring him around?"

"Then we try again tomorrow and next month until it happens." He stood back up. "If you hurt him, you hurt me. Period. End of discussion." He walked out of the office, going back to his duty.

Nick looked at Derek. "He seems to know what he's talking about. I'd let him go and watch as it happened."

Derek nodded. "I know. I want to but I'm not sure that's the wisest of ideas." He looked at the computer. "We could set up a camera in there to monitor them. That way we could go sedate them if they start to fight." He pushed a button on the phone. "Alex?" He smiled when he heard Buffy's voice. "I want you to put a camera up in their room so we can monitor them tonight. I won't let it be turned on until he changes but I think it's the best idea yet." He hung up, looking at Nick. "You've not changed this much. That was a suggestion worthy of your usual self."

Nick grimaced. "I'm not a different man, Derek, I just don't remember most anything." He got up, walking out of the office."

Derek leaned back again, putting the ice pack on his hurting face. "We'll fix you too, Nick, don't worry."


Oz's screams echoed through the house as he changed, his howling soon following. He stopped, looking in the corner as he heard a soft click. He walked over, looking up at the dark spot on the wall. He looked at Xander, who was watching him from the soft sleeping place, then jumped to hit it, making it fall on the second try. He picked it up to look at it closer, trying to bite it, then threw it against the wall when it hurt his teeth. He wandered over to the sleeping place, laying beside his mate and alpha, sniffing quietly at him.

Xander reached down to pet his head, stroking through the fur. He grunted when the door opened, his other mate that he wasn't pleased with coming in with their cub. He tipped his head to look at her, watching as she closed the door.

Willow walked over slowly, carrying the baby facing away from her so they could see it was their cub. "Hi," she said softly, laying on the bed beside the duo. "I brought her in to you." She put Serena down on Xander's stomach, nervous as she watched them looking at her. "She's fine," she said.

Xander looked down at the cub then at it's mother, then back down. He reached a hand down, patting her head, hearing the baby noises, watching her smiling at them. He held her up so Oz could see her. The werewolf sniffed her, then him, but didn't do anything else. Until he was frowned at then he licked her face. The younger man put the cub between him and Oz, rolling to his side to cage her in between their bodies.

Willow sighed in relief as she watched them getting along and not harming the baby. The noise caught the attention of Oz, a yellow eye coming over the shoulder of the alpha mate to look at her. "Hi," she said, reaching out a hand to pet him. He growled but relented when the baby bit him for it. She rubbed under his chin, then over his head. "I'm not going to hurt you, I was trying to protect you and her."

Xander grabbed her, pulling her over to rest on top of Oz. He sniffed her then licked her face, frowning as she tried to move away. He pushed her back in her place, doing it repeatedly until she stayed still. He bent down to lap the cub's face, looking her in the eyes. She turned them away so he grunted in pleasure at having his pack back in working order again.

It was almost morning when the quad awoke to someone pounding on the door. Xander got up, it being his job, and went to it, pounding back. His human side was starting to re-exert itself so he didn't jump on the man that opened the portal, just snarled at him, scowling at the male that dared to enter his territory.

"Xander," Derek said softly. "I just want to check your mates and you cub, make sure they're all right." He walked in, closing and locking the door behind him so none of them could get out.

Willow got up, rubbing her eyes, carrying the cub with her other arm over to her dada. "Morning," she said quietly. "Wanting to get bit again?"

The older man shook his head. "No, I was making sure they were all right. I went to check on her and she was gone." He looked over the cub. "She looks fine but you took an awful chance doing this."

"Mine," Xander growled, pushing Willow behind him. Unlike the animal on the bed, he remembered what had been done. "Mine," he snarled, moving on the older man.

Oz walked over, sniffing at them. He growled at Derek because the alpha was, moving to flank him.

Derek unlocked the door behind him, opening it and stepping out. "We'll talk later," he told her, closing the door before he could be attacked.

Willow looked at her mates, rubbing over their necks one at a time. "Come to bed guys, it's not dawn yet."

They all cuddled up on the soft sleeping place, Willow on the bottom since she was the most comfortable pillow.

Oz yawned, looking around at the mess of his room. He looked down at the person he was laying on, expecting it to be Xander. "Willow!" he yelled, waking all three of the others up.

She sat up, looking around in alarm. "Huh?" She looked at him then rubbed over his stubbly chin. "What?"

He picked up his daughter, putting her onto the floor. "We agreed," he said. He stared into her eyes. "He or I could have attacked either of you."

She smiled slightly. "We came in to let Xan reexert his alphaness over us. He licked the cub, accepting her back and I submitted to his will." She leaned up, grabbing a quick kiss. "He spoke last night when Derek came in, calling us ‘mine'."

He shook his head. "It was still dangerous." He got off the bed, getting dressed. "Come on, I want to talk to you."

Xander grunted, looking him in the eyes, rubbing over Willow's stomach. "Mine," he growled.

"I *know* that Xander but she put the cub in danger by bringing her in." He looked at him. "You spoke?"

Xander crawled across the bed, stopping in front of him to butt the older man's stomach with his head. "Mine." He looked up into the dark eyes. "No go."

Oz fell down in front of him. "Oh, Xan, you're coming back." He hugged him then looked at Willow. "We'll be discussing this later." She nodded. "Thank you."

"I knew what I was doing, I was careful. I don't want her hurt anymore than you do." She got under the younger man's arm, kissing Oz. "I was worried but it had to be done." She flipped over to look up at Xander. "Hi."

He grunted, licking over the tip of her nose before looking at Oz again. "Me," he said, pounding the bed under his hand. "Now."

Oz got back up on the bed, watching his daughter walk around the room. "Serena, play, now." She looked over her shoulder at him. "Yes, go wake them up and go play." She nodded, heading over to the door.

Xander got up, sniffing her before letting her out. He looked at the pair on the bed then out the door.

"No," Willow said, patting the bed. "Come lay with us, my mate." She smiled at him then leaned down to kiss Oz.

Xander frowned, walking back over. He took her mouth in a punishing kiss. "Mine," he growled, looking at Oz.

"You first," Willow affirmed. She kissed him again then Oz to show him. "See?" He grunted and laid down, inhabiting the top portion of the bed, on top of the pillows. She leaned over, licking her first mate's throat. "Love you," she told the older man.

Oz looked briefly at Xander. "We shouldn't, he might hurt you or try to prove that only he should have you." She smiled. "What?" he asked, suspicious.

"We have to appeal to his human side," she said simply, taking off her shirt. "Remember last time?" He nodded. "Well, we were both part of what brought him back." She shimmied out of her jeans so she didn't have to get up. "I want us to cuddle naked." She blushed slightly. "Maybe it'll bring him back some."

Oz shook his head. "He and I both need showers." He licked over her throat. "Put on something soft and lay there for us." She nodded and he rolled her off him, moving up to where the younger man was watching them. "Want to go bathe?" He laughed as his stomach was licked, the rough tongue hitting his ticklish spots. "Not like that," he said, pulling on the younger man's hand, getting him up and pulling him into the bathroom. He got them both stripped then turned on the water, watching as this new thing was examined. "Shower," he said, getting in, holding out his arms. When the younger man was finally in them, he closed the shower door, adjusting the spray to hit them better. He picked up the shampoo, working it through the wet hair that had just felt the water. "Better?" He took down the hand held unit, rinsing it out carefully, covering his eyes. "Hmm, how about some soap?" He put back the unit and grabbed the brush, soaping it up. Xander remained docile, turning when prompted, almost purring at the feelings. He bent over when his rear was done, silently asking for more. "Not yet," Oz said quietly. He thought about his next move, but kissed the spot between the loose shoulder blades, same as he did every time they made love, well what they did. Neither could let the other top him so they were up to rubbing and the like. He turned the younger man, soaping over his front and legs, going to his knees to do the latter. He looked up from his position, almost smiling at the very human expression in the dark eyes. "Want more?" He heard a grunt and got a nod so he rinsed off the morning erection, bending to kiss it after it was just wet.

Xander grabbed onto a bar and held on as his body remembered it's human side. He came with a howl, arching into the welcoming space.

Oz stood up, rubbing over the wet chest, looking into the dark eyes, seeing them as more human now. "Hi," he said.

Xander grabbed him, hugging him. "Oz," he groaned. "Help?" He let the older man's head pull back, looking down into his light gray eyes. "Please?"

"Sure," he said, comforting him. "Same as last time." He rubbed over the stubbled cheek. "Want me to get my electric razor and do your beard? Will's waiting for us in the other room."

The younger man shook his head. "Still too far gone," he groaned, mating their bodies. "Stop me?"

"No," Oz said forcefully. "We'll *both* help you come back this time." He stole a kiss then stepped back. "Got to shower, I smell."

Xander sat on the cold porcelain, watching him do what he had to do. He pushed the animal instincts back down, not wanting to hurt or scare Oz by turning him around and making sure that he was his. "Hurry?"

Oz looked over his shoulder, seeing the reaction he was getting. "Just a few more minutes." He opened the door as someone walked in. "Will?"

She climbed in with them, sliding past him. She knelt in front of their lover, rubbing over his jaw and shoulder. "Back more now?" He nodded. "Come to bed with me?" He shook his head. "I promise you won't hurt me. I want to do this." She stood back up, running into Oz with her rear. She turned to steal a kiss then helped Xander out of the shower, pulling him after her.

Oz hurried up with his preparations, deciding that he had to do something, had to make a decision. He grabbed the hose, attaching it to the spigot.

Willow led Xander to the bed, laying down and spreading out for him. "Come to me, Xander," she said. He looked over her but she could see him fighting with himself. "Please? I want this, want to help you come back." He slowly got onto the bed, sniffing over her body. "Yeah, with me, here and now, mostly human."

Xander grunted, laying on top of her. He looked down into her eyes. "Don't?"

She nodded. "You won't hurt me," she promised quietly, hugging him. "Remember what it's like to be a man instead of the animal," she whispered, opening herself to him.

He bent to lap at her neck then moved lower.

Oz came out to the pleasured yelling of his girlfriend and mate. He stopped to look at them, seeing the intense pleasure his tongue was giving her. "Hmm, he couldn't?" he asked, walking over.

Xander looked up, leaving her taste for now. He moved to the edge of the bed, sniffing the older man. "Mine?"

He opened his arms. "Yours and hers." He knelt on the bed, pulling him tightly. "We love you Xander, and we want you back." He grabbed a kiss then laid down next to Willow. "You okay?"

She sighed and nodded. "Oh, yeah." She looked up at the man watching them. "Want more?" He started to go back to what he had been doing but they stopped him, pulling him up to lay on her. Oz guided him into her, watching as the younger man got the idea quickly. Willow moaned as he entered her, but didn't attack him and take charge like usual, she let him do what he thought was best.

Xander started to move, some things weren't that different. He placed small sucking bites on her shoulders and neck, marking her. He glanced over at Oz seeing him watching them from the edge again. "No," he said, patting the bed beside them.

Oz laid down, snuggling up to Willow's shoulder. "Is this what you wanted?" Xander nodded, starting to pant and move faster. He looked at his girlfriend's face. "Liking it much?"

"Very," she moaned, pushing up against him, hissing as he started to go faster. "Slow down, Xander, this isn't a race," she said. He looked down at her and did so. She smiled, rubbing her hands through his wet hair, giving him what she wanted. She looked at Oz, seeing his glistening body. "What are you planning?"

"Nothing until you're very passed out," he said softly, running a hand down the sweaty back. He watched as she got off, her voice getting higher and higher with each thrust until the final chant of her lover's name was almost silent and supersonic. He caught Xander as he fell, seeing that he still hadn't finished, so he laid him on his back, bending his head down to lick at the sweat trails across the younger man's body.

"Oh, very nice," Willow murmured, watching and yawning. "I could watch that."

"No," Oz said. "Nap." He watched as she pouted but turned over. He looked down at the younger man, sighing as his chest was caressed. "We do love you, you know." He grabbed a kiss then went back to what he had been doing.

"Oz," the younger man groaned. "No, I will hurt you." He felt the head shake but didn't see it. "Please?"

Oz moved back up his body, straddling his lover's body. "You can't do that," he said, grabbing him and positioning him for the best angle. "Let me bring you back."

Xander shook his head but it turned into a moan as the body sank down, the well oiled hole attesting to the older man's preparation while he'd been with his female mate. "God, Oz," he said. He looked up, fully human again. "You're doing this for me?" He wiped at a tear of his then of the older man's. "Don't let me hurt you."

Oz leaned down to give a kiss, taking his time as he sunk lower. "You're not. I never expected it to feel like this." He finished going down, resting. "Are you okay in there?"

Xander grinned, nodding. "Oh, very." He rubbed up the tense back. "You don't have to."

"Want to." He moved up then back down, taking the first step on this new path.


Buffy knocked on the trio's door before starting to open it. She heard the outraged yell of her name so stopped, holding the tray patiently. Willow came to the door but she could see the reflection of the bed in the mirror. "Breakfast?" she asked, holding it out. "Derek said it's not drugged but he needs to see you and Oz downstairs later." She handed it over and stepped back. "Is he okay?"

"Get in here," Oz yelled.

She smiled as she walked over to their covered forms. "Are you guys all right?" She looked at Xander when she said it, making sure he understood the question.

The younger man grinned, a little twinkle coming out. "Why? Worried I'd jump you again?"

Buffy squealed, bending down to hug him. "Oh, you're back," she said. She blushed as she stood back up, seeing the wariness in Oz's eyes. "You guys are meant for each other. No one else could do this and just cuddle." She grinned at him. "Or whatever, but that's none of my business." She tweaked Xander's arm. "Derek would like to see all of you later." They both nodded. "Can I tell him?" The trio shook their heads. "Oh, come on," she pouted.

Oz wiggled a finger at her, prompting her to come down. "Our secret?" She nodded, kissing his cheek. "Thanks." He let her get back up then looked at the door. "Nick's coming up." She jogged out of the room, closing the door after her. He looked over at his lover, and the word fit now, seeing the worry. "She's not gonna tell them."

"Not what I was thinking." He looked at Oz. "Are you sure you're okay?" He got a nod and a cuddle. "Oz, don't ever let me hurt you."

The older man looked into the dark eyes. "You didn't. You can't hurt me unless you pull a Philip and have a sudden bout of guilt or you try to leave us." He licked over the strong chest. "I liked, very much liked." He leaned back up for a quick kiss. "Come on, you've got to be hungry after she wore you out like that."

Xander shook his head. "Not really."

"Get over here and eat," Willow called. "I don't want you passing out if you decide to do whatever again." She grinned at them. "Of course, I expect to have some of you both soon."

Oz got up, pulling Xander with him. "Come eat." He walked in front of him, letting him see he wasn't more than a little sore and he could handle it. He sat down in the chair, hissing at the cold seat on his rear. "Cold," he said in explanation at the worried look. "Sit, Xan."

"We should talk." He looked at Willow. "Could we...?" She got up, heading into the bathroom to give them some privacy. "Oz, what were you thinking? I wanted your first time to be special."

"Are you saying that you've done that before?" He took the younger man's hand at the head shake. "It *was* special. It was my body that brought you back around fully." He grinned slightly. "I'm thrilled and honored, and if I could, I'd do it again right now, okay?"

Xander shook his head. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why did you let me do that? We agreed."

"Hey, I decided. You have no pressure to reciprocate, but I want to be able to use my finger, okay?" He saw the wary look so held up one. "This one?"

Xander grinned. "We'll see." He looked up as Willow walked in. "Hi," he said, wrapping an arm around her waist. "I didn't hurt you either, right?"

"Xan, honey, you licked me for almost half an hour. That didn't hurt me." She grinned, stealing a kiss as she sat on his lap facing him. "You proved that I can lay back and let you go at me." Her smile got wider and brighter. "Matter of fact, if you're not doing anything later with Oz, I'd like to have you do it again."

He shook his head. "We'll see." She nodded, getting up and getting into her own chair. He looked at the food. "Drugged again?"

Oz sniffed it then shook his head. "Normal as far as I can tell." He dished out some eggs, eating them. "Tastes okay too." He dished them both out some, handing over the full plates. "Eat."

Xander took the first bite cautiously, not wanting to take an unscheduled nap. He smiled when he didn't feel drugged, eating heartily, finding his hunger easily.

Willow smiled, eating a bite, watching her men eat. "This is nice, we should do this more often."


Derek looked up as the three young people walked into his office. "Are you all right?" he asked the youngest member of his house. He never expected the hug or the slap across the back of the head. "What was that for?"

"Hug for being so understanding, slap for telling Oz something might have to be done about me and trying to drug us." He sat down in one of the chairs, pulling Willow onto his lap. "Please let them handle it if it happens again."

"Better not," Oz said, taking the other chair. "How's the leg and the face?"

Derek touched the bruise on his jaw, grimacing. "Willow's got quite a punch." He picked up a mirror, looking at the twelve stitches in his face. "And Serena needs mittens." He smiled at Xander. "You *bit* me," he said.

"Sorry man but you were an outsider trying to take on my pack. I didn't remember how to hit." He took Oz's hand. "Could have been worse."

"True," Derek admitted. He looked at them, seeing the easy comfort. "I see everything's back to normal?"

"Yeah," Xander said. "Just like the last time. My pack's safe and will be that way forever. No threats from inside or out." He grinned at Oz. "We talked about everything before we had food so we're okay too."

Derek nodded, looking at Oz as he shifted, and something clicked in his mind. He blushed a little but ignored it. "I'm sure everything will be fine tonight then." He picked up a paper, handing it over. "I think you should all take a working vacation. This case just came in from the Bahama's and they needed a few people to handle it." He looked at Willow, seeing her frown. "They'd be fine for the week it should take. They're all eating food now and I'll watch them myself." She shook her head. "Willow," he said, leaning on the desk, "you need a break as much as they do. You know you can trust me with the children. We can let you talk to them every night and Nick is doing well with them. We'll keep them safe." He looked up and smiled as Nick walked in with two of them. "See? Even Xandra likes him."

Willow looked at the young man, seeing the happy smiles. She picked Precious out of his arms, sitting her on her lap. "Precious," she said, "mommy and daddies need to go away for a week. Will you guys be okay?"

"Bye-bye?" Willow nodded. "Us?"

She shook her head. "You'll be here with Derek and Uncle Nick and Aunts Buffy and Alex." She hugged her. "I don't want to leave you."

"It has to happen sometime," he pointed out. "They're old enough to deal with small separations. They do well on your day trips away."

Willow shook her head. "Over night is something else."

"Story tapes," Oz suggested. "We could all do a few so they could hear our voices." He looked at Derek. "I don't like the convenient timing."

The Precept shrugged. "I admit to stealing it from Paris but they don't need anything besides a short investigation that I think you three would handle very well." He looked at Willow. "I know it's hard but it has to happen sometime. You'd be leaving in a few days so it would be possible to try a single night first." She nodded, wiping her eyes. "You'll be coming back," he assured her.

Xander rubbed over her back. "Will, they're going to love it. We'll call it a slumber party in Derek's room and Jonathan will be back in two days." She nodded so he kissed her cheek. "He's right, we're going to have to do this sometime. They're smart kids, we'll explain it to them and I'll cuddle you on the ride to the airport and on the plane."

She stood up, walking out. "I'm going to go talk to them."

Oz watched her go. "That's actually a good plan. They've spent the night in there before so wouldn't realize until the next night and we'll have called by then."

Derek nodded. "That might be best. We'll deal with it though."

"Serena," Xander said. "She's not really fond of him right now probably." Oz nodded. "I'll talk with her."

Derek sighed. "Thank you. You'll leave in about four days so you'll have plenty of time to deal with this." He looked up at the bright eyes staring over Nick's shoulder. "She'll come back," he said. Xandra stuck her tongue out at him, making him laugh. "You're so like your father," he said.

"Thank you," the guys said together, then Xander cracked up laughing and Oz grinned.