Yup, not a good. By Voracity warnings: violence!
Xander looked up in frustration as all the kids clung to him. "Guys, I'll be back, I promise." They all started to sniffle, a truly pathetic sight while he was trying to leave to go to the Bahamas on assignment. He sat down in the middle of them, instantly being shoved onto his back and covered with small warm bodies.
Oz squatted down beside the pile of them, raising an eyebrow. "Want to stay?"
"I should." A mass cheer went up. "Do you have a clue here?"
The older man nodded. "Serena's very worried that you'll leave. The others just picked it up." He stood back up, looking at his long time girlfriend. "Will, can we do this alone?" She nodded, sniffling a little. He walked over, taking her in his arms. "Hey, it's not that they don't want you to go, but they really don't want him to go. Serena just got to them." He looked at their boss as he walked down the stairs. "Just us I guess."
Derek looked at the pile on the floor and sighed. "If you feel that's best." He sat down on the bottom step, pulling Serena up to look at him. "Was this your idea?" She pouted at him but he didn't cave in that easily. She stomped her foot and pouted harder, adding a little whimper.
Xander looked up at Derek, shaking his head. "She's been corrupted by the Buffy pouting theory." He sat back up, moving the kids to the floor beside him. "Serena, you know I'm coming back, why do this now?" She walked over, crawling into his lap and holding on like he was going to turn into dust. "Babe, I'm coming back. We're just going somewhere sunny to look at something." He pulled her back some. "Why all the fuss? You were fine last night."
Serena glanced at Precious, then at Derek and shook her head. "No go," she said, with a strong hint of command. "Bad go." She nodded and got up, walking over to her parents. "You no go, bad," she told them, then walked over to Derek, patting his arm.
"Did you see something?" Oz said, getting down to sit beside her. She nodded, coming over to hug him. "Bad something?" She nodded again, hiding her head in his neck. "Was it badder when Dada Xander was there?" She looked up, making the little whimpering noise again so he looked at Derek. "Did you get anything?"
The Precept shook his head, frowning. "Not a hint." He looked down at Precious, seeing her frowning at her sister. "Did you see the bad thing?" She shook her head, and most of her body too. "Okay," he told her, patting her head. "I don't know what to tell you." He shrugged, getting up. "I'll have them check the plane over again before you get there." Serena frowned at him. "Is it the big plane?" She scowled. "Is it where they're going?" She laid her head back down, burying her nose in her father's neck again.
Willow sighed, sitting on the floor. "Guys. This is getting weird. Precious is supposed to do that, not you." She looked at Serena. "Will it matter if only one of us goes?" She saw the small head shake. "Is it the getting there or the there part?"
"It's the there part," Alex said, walking down the stairs. She handed over the weather report she'd pulled off the net. "Tropical storm expected tonight." All the younger people shuddered. "Yes, so it might be a better chance not to go." She looked at Derek. "Or at least put it off."
"We can't. The person that has the artifact made that very clear. Either we come and get it or he'll give it to someone else." He stood up, looking at the couple. "Do you and Oz feel comfortable going, Willow?" She looked at her boyfriend, who nodded, so she did. "Then you two go. I'll keep Xander here with me. If something happens, I'll send him down to come get you. Is that acceptable to everyone?"
"No," Xander said, "but I'll deal." He looked at his lovers. "We okay with that?" They nodded slowly. "Then you guys got a plane to catch and I have to get them settled."
"Me!" Precious yelled, getting up to jump up and down. "Me go!" She saw the round of head shakes. "Yes! Me *go*!" She stomped her little foot, making it known she was going to throw a fit if she didn't get her way. She squeaked as Derek picked her up. "Me go!" she yelled again, making him wince. "Torry," she said, more normally, patting his forehead.
Derek looked at her mother, then at Alex. "I don't think you'll need to go, Precious. Mommy and Daddy will be fine without you there. I'll send Auntie Alex with them. Okay?" She scrunched up her face. "Don't give me that look. She's more than able to take care of them on the trip."
She nodded, wiggling to get down, going over to hug Alex's leg. "Go? Pwease?" Her Auntie nodded, kissing her fingers and laying them on her head. "Tay, she go." She looked at her mother. "She *go*!"
Willow nodded, getting back up. "Okay," she said, holding up her hands. "Alex can go with us." She watched Oz get up. "Do you have a complaint?"
He shook his head. "Just a wonder why." He looked down at Xander. "Be safe and we'll be back in a week." The younger man nodded so he took their bags out to the airport van, tossing them in the back. He came back for a round of baby and lover kisses, holding his lover tightly before letting him go. "We'll be careful," he said softly, before letting him go, "I promise."
Xander grinned, just a little. "You'd better. I don't want to come down and rescue you." Oz nodded, taking Willow's hand and walking out. He saw them to the door, watching as the van pulled away, taking them from him for the first time in a long time. He turned back to look at Derek, feeling the gentle hand on his shoulder. "They'll be fine, right?"
The Precept nodded, pulling him back to close the door. "They'll be fine. None of the people in the house with the Sight saw anything." He looked down at the younger man. "Get them back upstairs then come to the office. We'll make sure of it." He gave him one last squeeze then left them alone, heading for his office.
Alex nodded her head at the empty hall. "They all ran upstairs like someone called them to ice cream." She patted his shoulder. "Go to the office, I'll go put them down. Then I'll pack so I can join them to lay on the beach."
Serena looked around the top of the stairs. "Nap us?" she asked her Auntie, grinning her favorite person's smile.
The older woman smiled, walking up. "I can't promise to lay down and nap with you but I'll read to you so you nap, how's that?" She followed the happy baby up to their room.
Xander walked into the office, sliding down into a chair and slumping immediately. "Alex is putting them to bed." He looked at the intense look of concentration. "What's going on?"
"I'm checking field reports. We've not had one from the dig in India recently."
"So Giles is in trouble?"
"Not necessarily," Derek said quickly, leaning back. "There have been problems with the generators and the like out there, mostly from the trapped spirits at the temple we think, and they're not always able to check in." He leaned close enough to tap a few more keys. "I'll link to the plane, make sure that they're not sending us a distress message." He leaned back, watching the screen, then smiled. "Willow says to take a nap with them. It'll make you feel better." He heard the quiet snort so looked up. "It might. You can't worry if you're asleep."
"No, then I'll have nightmares, which she knows." He rubbed over his forehead, sighing as he slumped down a little more. "What do I do since I'm staying?"
"Your brother had a few cases open, you could do something on those. Most of them are dead ends and research, but it will give you something to do. I'll deal with Serena, see if it was something real." He frowned, moving the touch pad to activate something else. "Rupert just checked in," he informed him. "That's not good," he muttered as he read. He stood up, turning the computer around. "Here, you talk to him while I go find a book." He hurried out of the office, letting Xander take his seat.
Xander looked at the message and frowned. "Giles, it's me," he said as he typed. "What's going on?" He bit his lip, reading the new message. "Spirit or demon? And was it trapped? Derek said that there was some trapped spirits there." He snorted. "Yeah, and that happens, but what is it? Vamp, spirit, or demon?" He leaned back, watching the new letters form. "Hmm, not a good." He leaned forward, typing some more stuff in. "Any oak? Sounds like a Banshee. Or maybe a Siren, I get those mixed up still." He nodded. "Okay, so now what?" He looked up as Derek walked back in. "It's a spirit, was trapped behind a stone monumental wall. It's eaten two men already." He looked back at the screen. "Okay," he sighed. "Um, Derek, try things that look female and like men." He typed quickly. "There, he's okay. She's left them alone for a while longer after her last snack." He stood up, letting the older man have his seat back. "Sounds like the Sirens from Greek mythology." He sat on the edge of the desk, watching him type. "I can do that while you look," he offered.
"No, but that was a fairly good guess." Derek looked up momentarily. "Go find a reference on Succubuses for me. I think it's something like that. We've run into one before." He looked back down, typing in a question.
Xander walked out, heading for the library. He found the book on sexual demons quickly, having shelved it earlier that day, and brought it back to the office. He found Derek passed out over the keyboard. He moved him back, looking at the last message on the screen. "Giles?" he typed. He nodded when he got an answer. "Okay, we're having minor difficulties here, give me a sec while I look up Succubuses." He flipped though, hitting the chapter. "Okay, did she have chains or another restraint," he said as he typed, pushing Derek's chair back with his foot. "Or was it just behind the wall?" He grunted at the answer. "Is she singing/yelling/talking?" he muttered, typing it in. He nodded, putting the book on the desk to flip to a new chapter. "Knew it wasn't something simple," he told it, looking over the section. "I wonder if we have a case file dealing with this." He hit the button on the phone, waiting until he heard the dial tone to hit a memory key. "Guys?" he called, using the speaker.
"Yes, sir?" the guard at the gate said.
"I could use some help up here for a sec. I'm in Derek's office and he's knocked out and I'm dealing with a frantic call from India. Please?" He made a happy sound as he found something, hanging up. He looked over his shoulder at Derek, then back at the screen. "Giles," he said as he typed, "you know, this would be so much easier over the phone, but here's what I found right away. It's a Siren. She's enchanting then feeding off them. You need to retrap her in or behind something sealed, gagging her if possible." He looked up as the door opened. "Thanks Jose, can you take him over to the couch or something?" He moved out of the way, pulling the computer around to keep typing. "You need to not be able to hear her, plug your ears or something." He read the next message. "No, that might not work then. Hmm." He stood up, popping his back and shoulders. "Then you need to not hear her," he said, grinning. He leaned back down, typing quickly. "Is someone there deaf?" He shook his head. "Of course not. Can you ignore it?" He made a happy noise. "Then it's your job. You have to convince her to do it. You can't do it against her will." He looked at the security guard and smiled. "Siren, attacking the India dig." Jose nodded and walked out, carrying Derek with him. "Thanks man, I'll check in with you guys in a while if it's still strange up here," he called after him. He pulled the desk chair over, sitting down and turning the computer around to face him again. He read the new message. "I don't know," he said. He looked at the book, flipping through a few pages. "Yeah I do, " he muttered, turning to type in the information. "Give her a reason that she can't refute or so it says." He leaned back, waiting.
It was almost an hour later when he got a happy message, standing up to yell and cheer. He typed in a short message then signed off, logging onto the other window to check for stuff from Willow and Oz. He smiled at the short message of them being safe so walked out into the kitchen. He found Dominic asleep on the table, making him run over to check him, just to make sure. He sighed, looking around the kitchen, then walked over to turn down a pot that was boiling over. He pulled a pan off the heat, wrinkling his nose at the burnt meat. "Fun," he muttered, running up the back stairs to his floor, slamming into the nursery.
"Jonathan," he said, sliding to a stop beside his chair, shaking him lightly. The nanny looked up at him, silently questioning his sanity. "No one else is awake or will wake up but us. See if you can't wake Alex. I'll be in the office after I check on Nick." He nodded so Xander walked back down the stairs, stopping at his brother's room, knocking lightly. When he didn't get an answer, he opened the door slowly, putting his head around it. He heard the shower going so walked that way, knocking on the bathroom door before walking in. He looked at the man in the shower, seeing him sleeping too, before turning off the water and pulling the towel down off the rack. "Bro, this is more than I ever wanted to know about you." He dried him off then grunted as he picked him up, carrying him to the bed, dumping him on it and almost falling over himself. "You weigh tons," he complained, picking up the older man's feet to put under the covers. He looked at his handy work while he wiped off his forehead then turned, walking out of the room. He made it to the office to see Jose standing there, waiting on him. "Well, most of the house is asleep. How's the guard situation going?" He sat down in Derek's chair, swinging it a little and frowning.
Jose shook his head. "I did a check as I walked out. I'm one of two that's answering." He sat down in a chair on the other side. "What's going on?" Xander shrugged. "Nothing unusual?"
The younger man snorted. "For this house?" That brought a smile. "I don't have a clue, seriously. All I know is that Derek, Dominic, Alex, and Nick are all sleeping. The kids were napping before so they might not be affected but Jonathan is still up so we'll be okay on that level." He yawned and waved off the panicked look. "It's not that. Had nightmares last night." He sat forward. "I'm calling one of the other houses, maybe ask a question or two. Can you two handle the guarding things and get them up here to a room?" He got a slow nod. "Okay, you'll do that, I'll do this stuff, " he waved at the computer, "and we'll get through this. Okay?" Jose nodded and stood up, walking out, turning on his mic as he went. He looked at the computer then at the door as Jonathan walked in. "Kids and Alex out?" He nodded, sitting down on the couch. "Okay, I want you to stay with them. I'll deal with the house stuff and we still have guards so we're fine." The nanny nodded but didn't get up. "What?" he asked, wary of a reason coming out.
"Are Will and Oz all right? And where's Buffy?"
"She's at class and I just got a message from them telling me that they're joining the Mile High Club." He grinned, just a little. "We'll deal and everyone will be fine. Just try to give me some warning if you feel like you're going to crash too."
Jonathan nodded, getting up and heading out of the office. Xander looked at the computer, debating whether or not to tell his mates about this new development. He shook his head, typing in a cute message about kissing each other for him then turned back to the one that Giles had been on, telling him. He frowned at the message, but had to accept it. He could do this for three more days. He picked up the phone, checking Derek's personal phone book to call William. Someone else had to know, just in case. "William? No, I need an anchor right now. For the next three days at least." He leaned back in the chair. "You won't believe this one...."
Xander looked up to check on the camera he'd set to show on the main screen, looking at the still bodies laying on the couches. He looked back down at his search results, then swore mildly under his breath. He tried another few words, looking at the screen to make sure they were still all right, then jumped when he saw a face on it. "Giles," he said, holding his chest. "You scared me, no beep."
"It broke last month, as you told me" he reminded him. "Are they all living?"
"Sleeping soundly." He leaned back, grimacing. "At least I'm not having to diaper them or anything." He shuddered. "Not a pleasant picture." He looked at the room behind the older man. "Bombay?"
"Yes, I was lucky enough to catch a train in time to get here today instead of tomorrow." He took off his glasses, frowning at the mud on them. "I'll be catching a Legacy jet tonight and should be there in the morning." He wiped the frames off, putting them back on. "How is everything?"
"I'm down to me, Jonathan, and Jose, one of the guards. Buffy didn't wake up this morning and the other guard didn't show up for work. I called his wife but she said he's awake." He sighed. "What do I do now? I can't even figure out why I'm not affected."
"You keep searching. Even if nothing's showing up yet, there has to be a reason." He looked over his shoulder. "Could it be magical? Rachel perhaps or another enemy of the house?"
Xander shrugged. "It's not like I'd know. And Will and Oz are in the Bahamas on a case. William knows, just in case, but he wouldn't know and he can't travel, the baby's got measles." He looked at the screen then canceled the search. "I'm afraid to call anyone else in. Precious and Savannah especially."
The former Watcher nodded. "I understand but it may be necessary." He looked over his shoulder again. "I'll be back in a moment, hold on."
Xander typed in a new search command string, tapping the desk while it ran. He looked at the only entry that came up, shaking his head as he read it.
"Not finding anything still?" Giles asked, reappearing in the camera again.
"Nope. Not a single thing. Well, one thing but it's not possible. There's no village of Little People here at the moment and we're not Rips." He shrugged, looking up. "What's up on your end?"
"You'll have to do a little longer without me. The weather here is atrocious and the jet can't take off anytime soon. I'm afraid I can't leave yet."
"Train?" he begged. "Go to a calmer weather city. Then you can come help me not go insane."
The older man nodded sympathetically. "I'll see what I can do but I may still not be able to get there very soon." He moved out of the way so someone else could get into the picture. "Xander, this is Marisa. She's the Precept in charge of the dig." He gave him a look.
"Hi," the younger man said. "Did he tell you?" She nodded. "Okay, so how long before I can expect him?"
"The weather here is acting very strange at the moment. He may not be able to get out of here for a while yet." She looked at Giles. "Sorry, but I can't authorize you to take off in this, it's too dangerous."
"But how long?" Xander asked again desperately.
"I'm not sure. It could be days before we can get him back." She shrugged a little. "I'm sorry, but I can't do better at the moment." The link was turned off.
He turned around to look at the room around him, seeing all the sophisticated equipment. "Okay, I'm on my own. Everyone is asleep right now. What would I be doing if I was a bad guy?" He snapped his fingers, turning around to run a location search on Rachel. "Her boyfriend's bad enough to do this and he's the only one I know by name." He stared at the screen then shook his head. "Can't be." He ran the search again and stared at the screen. "When did that happen?" He dialed the London house, smiling at the single person he knew who answered the call. "Hey, I need to do a locational search on the members of the Corrigan clan. Is Kat still over there?"
She shrugged but turned to look at the computer, typing it in. "She's on holiday with her father." She looked up. "Which we both know can't be right." She did a quick search of her own then held up a finger, pressing a button to call someone else in. She held a quiet conversation with the man that walked in then looked back at the screen. "What's going on over there?"
"Do you want the truth?" He got a frown and a curt nod so he patched the picture from the security camera he had watching everyone into the link. "That. Nobody will wake up. I've called Giles back but he's stuck in Bombay because of freaky weather."
The new London Precept walked in. "Harris," he said, glancing at the picture. "How long has this been going on?"
"Um, two days and maybe a few hours. I've been in contact with both Giles and William Sloan, just in case something happened to me too, but Giles can't come home because of the weather in Bombay and William's granddaughter has measles." He shrugged. "I've been doing my best with the security guys and the nanny." He looked at the camera image then back at the screen. "I can handle it just as long as..." He covered his mouth. "Never mind," he mumbled, "I didn't say that, none of it." He took the hand away, shaking his head. "I should know that lesson by now." He looked at the Precept. "What do you want me to do? You've got seniority at the moment since Derek's out."
"I want you to keep doing what you're doing at the moment. I'll try to get Giles out of Bombay faster. Marisa didn't say anything to me about the weather when we talked a little while ago." He frowned down at one of his people. "Check that for me." He looked back at the screen. "I know you're about ready to panic, but let us handle the extra things. I'll even have someone looking into Katherine. Is that acceptable?"
"Sure. I'll keep you updated." He hung up, severing the link to the camera by accident. By the time he got it back up, something had changed. He stared at the picture, trying to figure it out. When nothing came, he started to get up. Then his leg gave out on him, cramping again. He moaned, falling to the floor, trying to rub it out. By the time he was able to focus on something else, the picture of the room looked very normal again. He walked out to check on them anyway.
Xander slapped the alarm off, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. He looked around his empty room, missing his family again, for the forth day in a row. He swung his feet out, hissing at the cold floor. He pulled on his robe, going downstairs immediately to make sure everyone was all right. He walked into the room that held them, stopping to look over the now sleeping man leaning against Alex's side. "Jon?" he called softly. There was no answer so he walked in, shaking him lightly. Still nothing. He brought out the extra blankets, covering everyone in two before heading for the thermostat in the office.
It stared back at him, or not since it looked dead. He opened it, trying to start it going again. When that didn't work, he pulled out the backup battery, sliding in a new one. He got an error message, making him frown and go over to the desk to hunt for the book. The phone rang so he picked it up, sighing in happiness at hearing another voice. "Luna Foundation?" He fell down into the chair, his whole body numb. "Can you find it?" He shook his head. "No, I'm the only one here right now and they're mine so I want to be kept updated. Yes, I'll be here all day. Just find them. I need them." He hung up the phone, the task at hand forgotten. He turned on the teleconferencer, dialing London. "They went down," he told them. He started to shake, curling up in the chair.
Giles looked up as the teleconferencer on the desk beeped, answering it. He nodded at the London Precept, putting down his cup of tea. "What's happened?" he asked, noticing the worried look.
"Your house has fallen apart." A picture was patched through. "We don't know what happened. All he said was that they went down?"
The former Watcher blanched. "He told me Willow and Oz were on assignment away from the house. In the Carribean somewhere. Can you check on them?" He looked at Marisa as she walked into the room. "I've got to chance it, Willow and Oz may have gone missing." He flinched as the gun went off, knocking him unconscious. He didn't even notice as she reached around him to turn the machine off.
Xander pulled himself back together slowly, wiping his eyes, straightening his clothes. He stood up, taking a few shaky steps over to check on the thermostat. He closed the cover, seeing the normal, expected reading sitting on it's screen. "At least something's working," he told it. He looked at the desk, then at the phone. He picked up the handset to check it, dialing William again. "Willy? No, it's me. I need some major help now. Their plane went down over Georgia. I'm alone now." He sat down in the chair again, turning to look out the window. "No, I broke down in front of the London House." He shook his head. "Sorry, but I have emotions." He scowled, hanging up. "Never mind," he said. He looked at the teleconferencer, activating it again. "Hi," he told the London Precept quietly. "I'm back. What's going on?"
"Harris, I'm afraid it's all bad news at the moment." He looked up, crossing his hands. "We can't spare anyone to come to help you. We've just had a problem in Bombay." He waited until the younger man stopped throwing up. "Quite, but as far as we know he's still living so don't worry." He took a deep breath. "I've also talked to the people about their plane. They've located the wreck but they're not there. Which is a good sign," he went on quickly. "The only problem we may have is that it's the full moon day after tomorrow, the reason they were heading back." He took a deep breath. "If I can spare someone to come there, you'll have to go hunt Oz. We can't let him hurt anyone."
"Willow can handle him. She does it all the time. Not even chaining him most of the time." The London Precept nodded. "That's what that paper was based on, our animals. Oz and I have a mutual alpha thing going and we're sharing Willow as a mate." Another nod. "Is he really all right?"
"As far as we know. We just know that the screen went black before we could determine how badly injured he was."
"If he's not too badly hurt, bring him straight here. I can leave the house to him while I go look for Oz." He hung up, turning around to grab the phone. "Luna Foundation." He sighed, leaning back. "Are they okay?" He nodded. "Okay, but I need them to come back here." He shook his head, sitting back up. "No, they're parents of five small children. I can take care of any injury, but one of the kids is under a year and she's breast-feeding her." He shook his head again. "Just trust me on this, all right? Their doctor is here and he'll be able to take care of them once they get here." He hung up, looking up the number to Marcus' house. "Hi," he said. "You busy? Good, Willow and Oz need to be brought back here and they need to talk to someone more forceful than me to get it done." He tapped his fingers. "No, but night after tomorrow is the full moon and he's having to be sedated already. Like in a big hospital." He snorted, then smiled, nodding. "Okay, just bring them here. We still have the cage set up and I'm still awake." He hung up. "Okay," he said, activating the teleconferencer again. "Hi," he said, a little more happily. "They found Will and Oz, and our doctor is calling where they are to get them brought home." He tipped his head, looking at the picture that was sent to him. "Why is he bleeding?"
"We've got confirmation that he was shot," the London Precept said. His picture came back. "Some of the nearest house went in. He's on his way back to you." He smiled a little. "He's not going to be able to use his arm for a while but he should be fine shortly. And I'll call those people to arrange for them to be sent to the house tonight. Be safe until then." He hung up.
Xander got up, running to the room to check on them, then upstairs to get dressed. By the time he came down, it was almost dawn and the bad night was over for him.
Marcus looked up from his examination of Derek, frowning. "Why didn't you call me immediately?" He stood up, walking over to look at the younger man. "Xander, how are you holding up?"
"Fine," he muttered, yawning. "I'm beat, my back is sore, the kids are awake and a handful as always." He looked into the other man's face. "Can you stay so I can nap?"
"Sure, I can be here...." His pager went off. "Or not." He looked down at it. "Nope, that's a good thing. Willow and Oz are back, they're on a chopper out here. Go make the bed and I'll have them brought up." He patted a tense shoulder as he walked toward the backyard.
Xander ran up the stairs, stopping to catch his breath between flights. He made it to their room, walking over to start pulling the covers down. He looked at his little helper, grinning. "Thank you, Brandon. They'll be up in a few minutes and you can hug them, 'kay?" The little boy nodded, crawling up onto the bed. "No sweetie, you need to wait until they're up here to snuggle down in the bed." He lifted him off, grunting at even that minor exertion. "I need to soak," he told him. He tickled the baby lightly then set him on the floor, watching him walk over to the door. "Listen for the helicopter, Bran, and they'll be up then." He walked out of the room, going down to close the door to the room where he had everyone else stashed. Less questions that way.
He caught the kids as they went yelling past him, pulling them all into a hug and out of the way. "Mommy and Daddy will be home in a few minutes so why don't you guys go watch some tv until we get them to bed. Then you can go up and hug them really hard." He let them go, watching as they walked down the hall to the tv room, listening for any trouble that they might be getting into. He heard the helicopter coming so walked toward the kitchen, seeing if he could help. He was pushed into a chair by Marcus, made to watch as his mates were carried in and put up in their room. He listened to the herd of little footsteps go running after them, laying his head down to rest for a minute.
Marcus had it.
The house Doctor walked into the kitchen, searching for Xander, taking control of his hands back from the kids. He bent over to check him, smiling when he heard the soft snoring. "Xander," he said softly. "You'll hurt your back sleeping like that. At least go to bed. I'll take the kids with me and stop to pick up Precious on the way."
Xander looked up, blinking in confusion. "I woke up?"
"Yeah, you did. Willow and Oz are upstairs asleep and it looks like you could use a nap. Why don't I take the kids to Precious and her lover? You trust them."
"No, we'll be fine. When will one of them be able to get up? So I can sleep, I mean." He rubbed his eyes, looking down at the kids. "Where's the other one?"
"Tim's in the living room, looking at Derek again," Marcus said with a small smile. "He's poking his chest, holding a book." He helped the younger man stand. "Willow's already awake but she needs to rest quietly, something she can't do with five kids bugging her. You sure I can't take them for you?"
"No, I'll deal." He yawned, stretching. "Come on guys, lets go see if I can't get a hug too." He herded the kids out of the kitchen. "Can you check on them again for me? I haven't done it since I went upstairs."
"Sure," Marcus called, heading to the living room.
Xander tapped on his door, walking in. "Hey," he said softly. "Can I have a hug too?" She opened her arms, letting him slip into them. "Thank God you're here, I was about to lose it." She stroked through his hair, making him feel better before he stood up. "Thank you. Now you rest. I'll deal with the kids." He looked around the room. "Where are they?"
"You slept for about five minutes and Marcus came up to grab them." She smiled, patting the bed. "He said to nap for an hour or so. He can spare that much time." He nodded, laying down after setting the clock. "How did you do this by yourself?"
"The kids only woke up this morning," he mumbled, laying his head on her stomach. "It was just Jon and me and Jose that first night after you left, then just me since two mornings later. I dealt." He yawned. "Can I use you for a pillow."
"Sure, Xan," she said softly, working through his hair some more. "We'll talk when you get up again."
He didn't hear much past his name, falling back into a deep sleep.
Marcus looked up as the living room door opened, raising an eyebrow at the man standing there. "And you are?" he asked, setting the boys on the floor to get up.
"I'm the new Montreal Precept," he said, holding out a hand. "I'll take over for a while."
Marcus never even felt the small needle hidden in the palm. He just fell over, neutralized for now.
Victor Arkadi looked at the kids. "What have we here?" he asked them, wincing at the screaming they started. "Don't do that, I'm not here to hurt you. Or your parents. Much." He looked down as one stepped in front of the others. "Very brave, my dear, but I won't hurt you."
"You bad," she said, nodding. She pushed one of the boys back away from her. "You bad guy, you go!" She put her hands on her hips just like Mommy and Auntie Alex did. "Meany!"
He laughed, getting down to talk to her on her own level. "Only if you misbehave." He didn't hear the footsteps behind him but he did feel the teeth as they punctured his arm, making him scream in agony. He turned to face his worst nightmare, a big hairy monster, snarling and trying to kill him.
Xander woke up to the sounds of yelling, looking around the room. He glanced at the fuzzy Oz, then at the door, nodding. He stopped long enough to grab the guns from the closet, making sure each was loaded then he looked back at Willow. "Stay." He turned, running down the stairs. He stopped as he saw the scene, pulling out the tranq gun to shoot Oz before he could eat him alive, waiting until he was down to walk over, nudging the whimpering body with a foot. "Victor Arkadi," he said, frowning. "I wanted to meet you ever since you trapped me on the dream plane." He fired another tranq into him, making him stop moving. He looked at the kids. "Go see Mommy. She needs to talk to you." Precious nodded, getting the other kids out and up the stairs. He heard a footstep so spun, holding the guns up. "Rachel," he said coldly. "You're not welcome here."
She nodded, walking around him. "How are you doing, Xander? You don't look so well."
"Yeah, I need more sleep. But what you did to all of us has been most instructive from a personal strength standpoint." He cocked the regular gun. "Leave. Now. I'm not letting you hurt them." She shrugged, not trying to walk closer. "You ought to know, Oz bit him."
"I've gotten what I want. He can die now." She moved a step closer, still walking around him, stroking a pendant hanging around her neck. "What's this about? I just want to check on him."
"Rachel, I'm not as stupid as I look." He heard movement behind him but he didn't risk a look to see who it was. He felt a familiar warmth walk up behind him, taking the non-tranq gun from his fingers and walk around so he could see it was Buffy. "Buff? You okay?"
"Yeah," she said, turning to look at him. "But you're not." She shot him, hitting him on the thigh. "Oh, well." She looked at Rachel and smiled. "Nice of you to come for us."
Willow heard the regular shot and got out of the bed, being as quiet as possible. She locked the door, then looked out the window as she lowered the emergency ladder/swing Oz and Xander had rigged for them. She could kiss her paranoid men at that moment but she had to get the kids out safely and herself. She dressed, then grabbed the emergency bag from the closet, putting it over her shoulder before lowering the first kid out the window. After the last one, she climbed down herself, knocking the ladder down after she hit the lawn. She herded them toward the caves, a safe place most of the time.
She made sure she was safely away before pulling out the cellphone packed away for emergencies. She dialed the only number she knew by heart, the Montreal House. "Hi," she said quietly. "I need to talk to the Precept. This is San Francisco and we're having major problems." She stopped Serena from walking out of the cave and sat down. "Kristen? Are you heading up the house right now?" She shook her head. "No, everyone's asleep. Oz and Xander walked down to see why the kids were screaming and then there was a shot. No, we're hiding." She nodded, hanging up. She checked around the caves then led the kids down to the boat docks, getting them on the boat and casting off. She might not know how to sail it but it was safer and nobody could get to them while it drifted.
Giles looked up as his cell door opened and a body was thrown in next to him. He moved, checking the familiar body over. "Xander," he said softly, brushing across his face to wake him. "Wake up. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," was mumbled. "Just no sleep." He opened an eye then looked around. "Well, this sucks." He sat up, grunting in pain. "How are you? The last thing I heard, you'd been shot." He looked at the bloodstained rag around the older man's arm. "Okay, so we're both injured. Who else do they have?"
"All of your house," Rachel said, walking back over to them. "All but the unimportant ones." She smiled, pulling on the bars. "Very solid, even after all this time." She tossed something at them. "Now you can't whine about your treatment. Enjoy it while it lasts." She walked away, her footsteps fading down the stone corridors.
Giles looked at the younger man, picking up the roll of bandages to wrap his leg. "Who else knows?"
"London and William. I've been in touch with both." He winced as the blood caked jeans were moved from the wound. "Do you have to do that?"
"Only if you want to heal." He finished wrapping the wound then tied it off. "There, now you should be healthy enough if we're lucky enough to escape." He looked him over. "What was going on before you were shot?"
"Oz had bitten Arkadi. Willow and the kids were upstairs." He coughed a little. "Buffy woke up and shot me. I'm supposing they had something to do with the naps." He looked at the older man. "She wasn't herself."
Giles nodded and looked him over again. "Who, exactly, might she have?"
"Everyone but Philip was in the house but Willow was upstairs with the munchkins." He closed his eyes, brining a hand up to draw an air diagram. "Derek was on the far couch, Alex and Nick were on the ones perpendicular to the fireplace. Jon had fallen asleep next to her so he was in the comfy sick person chair. Dominic was in the other one and Buffy had been camping on the floor on pillows and blankets. Oh, Marcus!" Xander opened his eyes. "He was there when I fell asleep."
"Then he may be able to do something." He checked the younger man's forehead. "You're running a fever already." He looked up as someone walked towards them, her pointy heeled shoes echoing around the stone halls. "Rachel, may we at least have some Tylenol?" She tossed them bottles of water and a small bottle. "Thank you."
Xander took his, swallowing them quickly. "You gonna do the standard bad guy thing and tell us why?"
She laughed lightly. "You read too many comic books, but I could indulge you." She wiped off a section of bars to lean against. "We're going to fix a problem that Victor had, using your friends and family." She smiled. "I'm sure healthy guys like Derek and Nick could do it right. Do me right."
Xander shook his head and looked at Giles, who shook his head. "If you really think they'll do something for you, okay, but I wouldn't hold my breath."
"Ah," she said, "but you're like a son to him and Giles is an old friend." She walked back down the hall. "Have fun guys, I'm not watching. Nor do I care."
Giles looked at Xander. "This might buy us some time to come up with a plan or be rescued."
"Rescued, this is Alcatraz. I don't think we can escape." He finished off his water, tossing the bottle off to the side. "So, plan?"
Oz woke up, looking around the room. He hopped up off the still body, making a gross face as he pulled out the dart. "What happened?" When no one answered, he walked over to the sleeping bodies to check on them; when no one would wake up, he ran to the control room, flipping on the security cameras to check the house. He didn't find anyone so dialed the guard house, not getting an answer, then tried the number taped to the side of the keyboard. "William! What's going on?"
"Oz? You're all right?" He activated the screen, looking down at him. "Patch the cameras into me." He waited until it was done. "Okay, it looks like some people are gone. Who's the body?"
"Um, not sure. I was tranqed on top of him when I woke up. I didn't look." He got a nod. "Let me focus on him." He worked the mouse, bringing his picture up. "Do you see who I do?"
"Yes, switch control to me." He got a confused look. "I'm on the plane. I'll be there soon." He still was getting a confused look. "Blue book in the drawer beside the Master console."
Oz pulled it out, looking through it. "I need a code." He flipped to the back. "Never mind." He typed in a command, then the code, then sat back. "Done."
"Okay, go search for..." He watched as the younger man went pale and ran out of the control room, hanging up once he was alone.
Willow crawled back up the ladder, pushing Precious back onto the boat. She spanked her, once, then let her go. "I told you to stay away from the railings! It's dangerous and you could have drowned!" She looked at the other four. "Go sit below. Precious, you too. Now. It's nap time." She waited until they were down in the cabin then locked them in. "No more unscheduled dips for you guys," she sighed as she sank down into the Captain's chair and picked up the cell phone as it rang. "Rosenberg swimming academy. We teach tots how to paddle." She sat up, smiling. "Oz! Where are you?" She looked at the shore. "No, we're on the boat, about a thousand feet off the dock, near those rocks." She hung up, leaning back to watch. Pretty soon he appeared and dived into the bay. She got up, tossing the life preserver out so he wouldn't have to swim so far, pulling him in when he reached it, grunting at the weight. She fell into his arms as he made it onto the deck. "Thank God for werewolf speed healing," she whispered.
Rachel walked back over to their cell, scowling. "Why can't I control them? What did you do?"
Xander glanced at Giles, who nodded. "Three flaws," he told her. "Nick's infertile. Derek's pretty sure he is. And Nick's recent bout with amnesia that he's still in has led him to swear off women." She grimaced, then made a grossed out face. "Hey, I coulda let you keep failing." He shrugged, moving to lean against Giles'. "Not my fault my bro thinks he's doing the boss."
She moaned then hit the bars, hard. "We were *normal* before you came!"
"Our lives have ever been like this," Giles said. "The chaos of the Hellmouth has invaded our very being." He looked at his former student. "She is right though. Their calm methods have infected our lives as much as we have theirs."
"So *that's* why it's not as much fun or on the fly action."
Rachel slammed her hand into the bars and stormed away.
"Precious took a dip, they're down below. We're all safe."
Oz nodded, pulling them to a chair so he could sit. "William is on the way. You okay too?"
"Yeah. And I called Kristen once we were safe." She pulled back. "What's going on? All I heard was gunshots."
"Everyone's sleeping but I couldn't fine Derek, Nick, Buffy, or Xander." He took a deep breath. "And I bit someone, Arkadi." She shrugged. "Will, I think I killed him."
"He's the bad guy. You were protecting. I'm not going to throw a fit." He frowned at her. "Don't even. What would have happened if he'd won?" He shuddered, closing his eyes and pulling her closer. "Exactly, so I'm not going to complain." She got up, pacing the small area. "We need to find them, this can't be a good sign." He pulled her back down onto his lap, letting her think against his chest. "We need to break into the security cameras, see what happened," she said finally.
Oz pulled her head around from it's staring at the island. "I don't know how to drive a boat." She rolled her eyes. "William has control of the compys, he's on the plane so he'll be here soon." She sighed. "But, if you brought the bag, we can get in and check." She hopped up, unlocking the lower cabin door and going down. She came back up long enough to hand over the spare laptop then went back down to the kids. He hooked up the laptop to the cellphone, starting the computer while he dialed the house. He called up the main menu, clicking off the warning, then bent down to concentrate as he got around the system again. It was almost ten minutes later when he yelled, "Willow? We got probs." He fast forwarded through the part that had made him sick, not wanting her to see Buffy shooting their lover and mate.
She jogged back up the stairs, leaning over his shoulder to look at the picture. "All dry and napping," she told him, looking at the security footage. "Rachel did it?" He nodded. "Then they've still got to be close by."
He stood up, stretching his sore muscles. "Let me go change, you read lips." He headed down to the closet sized shower, grabbing his spare clothes from the bag on the way. By the time he came back up, the boat was moving back toward the dock, William Sloan steering. "What and where?" he asked him, moving quietly up behind him.
"They're on Alcatraz," Willow said, still grimacing and pissed, "and we're staying according to him."
"If Hell froze without help maybe." He raised an eyebrow at the dirty look. "I'm going." He weathered the negation. "I'm going, he's mine. Deal or be bitten and I'll still go."
Kristen jumped onto the deck, tying the boat off. "She needs your help with the kids."
"Blow me, I'm going." He felt Willow nodding. "She dealt for a whole day and a half without me, she can do it now." He stood a little straighter. "Let's go get armed." He walked off onto the dock, heading for the house.
Giles looked up as Buffy walked toward them. "Having fun?" he asked.
"Yup, just like Faith did." She grinned, leaning against the bars where Rachel had cleaned. "Why? Aren't you?"
Xander grunted and flipped over onto the older man's thigh, not waking up. "No," Giles said, "not really. Would you like to tell me how you suddenly woke up evil?" She shook her head. "Very well then, I believe we'll be talking when we all get home."
Rachel walked up behind the younger woman. "She's not going back. I need her for my plan." She unlocked the door, walking into the cell. "Now, don't fight me on this, Rupert, you know you've wanted to since the day you met us." She pulled him up, shoving him toward the door, stepping over Xander's sprawled body.
He opened his eyes, latching onto the ankle passing over his head with his teeth, not letting go. He was kicked but he held on, tasting the blood he was drawing. He was pulled off by Buffy, who kicked him in the lower stomach then his injured thigh. He curled up on himself, holding back the tears of pain.
"Xander, really," Giles said. "You don't know what she has. One can never tell what one would get from one like her." He raised an eyebrow. "I'll be fine, you rest."
The younger man looked at his friend, then at Buffy. "Did you tell her about your surgery yet?" he asked snidely. She frowned, kicking him again. "Oh," he coughed, catching his breath. "Not so nice, Slayer. I won't bring you chocolates next time you're in the hospital."
Buffy stomped off, her hair waving behind her as she left. Rachel watched her then looked down at him. "You're very brave and stupid, I'm just not sure which is dominant."
"I am," he said, getting up slowly. "Just ask Oz." He grabbed her arm, twisting it up behind her back since she hadn't been expecting him to do anything. "Giles? Lets go." He spun her around, limping out of the cell. He turned to punch her so they could close the cell door, taking the keys. He looked at his mentor. "Where to?"
"I'd say a large open space would be the most likely, but we should check the cells on this hall just in case the others are here." He caught the younger man as he started to slump, eyes brimming with tears of pain. "I know, just a bit longer and we'll get you taken care of."
"Shoot me if I fall to them," he whispered, leaning against the wall. He started to walk the way Buffy had went, clinging to the solid surface for support the whole way. He ran into his brother first, handing over the keys so he could be set free. "Nick," he said, falling down next to the still body. "Man, you've got to get up. You're way healthier than we are." The bright eyes opened, looking at him.
William looked at the weapons laid out as he walked into the game room, shaking his head. "Oz, you've been in a plane crash in the last few days. Let us handle it." He stopped him from slipping into a holster. "Let me bring him back."
Oz shook him off, scowling. "Would you if you were me?" The older man shook his head, sighing in defeat. "Then get stuff on and lets go." He walked out of the room, picking up the guns laying in the hall on the way and putting them into the gear bag he carried. He made it down to the dock, tossing the bag over to Kristen and getting back on. "We could leave him here," he reminded her, tired of waiting.
She shook her head. "Derek's there. He'd come back from Hell for him, actually he did come back from Hell for him." She started the boat, seeing a figure walking toward them. "We've got it covered if you want to go be with them," she said quietly. "I know you must be torn."
"They're safe, Xan's not. End of inner turmoil." He sniffed the air then turned, pulling a gun out to shoot the person walking toward them. The body fell and he turned back to look at her. "Cast off, we've got to go. He's got the house." She shook her head, looking back at the body. "That wasn't one of ours. Cast off or I'll toss you off the boat." She started the motor, pulling away from the dock.
Nick looked up in confusion. "Where are we?"
"Do you remember anything?" Giles asked him, leaning down to help Xander back to his feet. The other man shook his head, sitting up. "Then you'll just have to help us fight our way out."
"How?" Nick asked. "I don't remember that part of my life yet." Giles groaned so he looked at his brother. "Didn't you tell him?"
"Forgot in all the rush of escaping." He check the hall then went back to his wall hugging. "Come on, we've got to go." He started down the hall again, still holding on for dear life and support. "Hurry up and save us Oz," he whispered. "This *so* isn't a good." He tossed over the keys to Nick, pointing at a cell. "Get them, follow us." He picked up a bar from the floor, holding it as a bat as he walked, hearing the voices coming nearer.
"You can't do this to me," Derek yelled. "I won't allow it."
"Oh, shut up," Buffy said. "If it wasn't for you, none of this would have happened." The sound of a slap reverberated down the hall.
Xander hid in the shadows of the doorway, looking at the scene in front of him. Derek strapped to a table naked from the waist down, Buffy above him, fully naked with things painted on her. Marcus was chained to a wall but didn't look conscious. He glanced over his shoulder as Nick and Giles walked up behind him, nodding at the scene. "What do we do?"
"We rescue them," the former Watcher said. "Then ourselves." He nodded at the unconscious man they'd rescued. "The boat captain that brought us here." He looked back outside, squinting as the sun came out behind the fog. "Buffy," he shouted, walking out. "Don't. You don't know what you're doing."
She frowned, then looked down at her captive. "Don't go away, I'll be right back." She hopped down off him, flipping over to come up in front of where her former teacher stood. "How did you get out?" She looked at the doorway. "Never mind, you'll do just as well." She slapped him, then punched him in the stomach. He didn't do more than flinch and let out a long breath. "Damn, I'm getting weak. I've got to get someone better to train with." She punched him again, knocking him down this time.
Xander spun around, as best he could and not fall, as he heard someone come up behind him. He swung at Rachel, using the pipe as a weapon, making her step back to avoid it. She frowned and limped closer so he did it again, this time connecting with her hand, which made a wet 'pop'. "Bitch," he said, "why can't you get it through your head that we don't want you? You're a slimy ho." He dodged her weak attempt at a punch, hitting her with his forearm and knocking her back. "I'm sure I'm getting tested just as soon as we get off this place." He swung at her again, and it would have connected if someone hadn't grabbed the pipe. "Nick?" he asked, backing away. "What did she do to you bro? You're not on her side."
Nick tossed the pipe aside. "How do I know that?"
"Because." Xander pulled off his shirt, turning to show off the scar. "She did this to me. Actually, this is the fixed version, she did a crappy job." He took a half step nearer. "She's against Derek. Could you really care for a man who let someone do this to you?" He saw the light go on in the eyes. "Look at him," he said, pointing to where the Precept was tied down to the table. "She's having Buffy do this, she did this to you. You can't be on her side." He didn't get anything else out, Buffy having come over to kick him in the injured thigh and making it open again. "Nick," he moaned, falling to the floor. "Help me man. We've got to stop them." He blacked out, the pain was too much this time.
He didn't get a chance to see Nick punching Buffy out or slamming her head into the wall. Or to see her hit him back.
Oz looked at the island they were approaching. "This is it, right?" Kristen nodded. "Okay, where are they?"
"We have a satellite photo showing the inner courtyard being used, someone being chained to a table in it." She pulled the boat alongside the dock there, shutting off the quiet motor. "Come on, lets go." She strapped on her gun, making sure the fastener was unlatched, then looked up, seeing no one with her. "Oz," she muttered, "you're worse than I am."
Oz snuck up the outside staircase, heading to where his sensitive nose could smell blood. Very fresh blood. He stopped to look down at the courtyard, cursing himself silently for going up to far, but took up position to watch what was going on.
Buffy was just now strapping Xander to a table, Nick and Giles were laying in a heap on the ground, Derek rolled beside the table. She looked around, pushing her hair back from her face, then bent to check the straps.
He'd seen enough, moving back to the stairs to go down to that level. He walked cautiously into the outer courtyard, moving through the shadows on a wall toward the other door. He glanced back to see Kristen behind him now, nodding at the door, then looked back, starting as he found Buffy in front of him. "You better hope this spell wears off," he told her. "You're not going to live otherwise." He started to draw his gun, trying to fake her out. It worked, she went for that hand, missing the punch from the other one. He grunted in satisfaction as she went down, jogging around her to the doorway. He made it through to see Rachel with a knife, holding it over his mate's chest. He pulled his gun for real now, aiming at her just like Xander had taught him while they were working through his shooting nightmares. "Drop it Rachel. Bullets are faster." She shrugged, closing her eyes. The knife wavered and he cocked the pistol, moving closer. "Drop it," he warned her again. The knife moved and he shot, hitting her in the shoulder.
Xander rolled his head to the side, grinning a little. "You always were a bad shot," he whispered, falling back into his head.
Oz worked the straps quickly, getting him undone. He watched Rachel as Kristen went to get everyone else, leaning against his mate's side to make sure he was all right. "We need to go. Dark's in two hours."
She nodded, getting Marcus undone, watching him fall to the ground. "We need more bodies here to help," she told him. She walked over to where Rachel was laying. "What do we do with her and Buffy?"
"Cuff 'em." He looked around. "Or stick them in a cell. We can come back." He felt a hand at his belt so looked down, smiling. "Hey. I stole your gun. Do you mind?"
"Nope, not when you're being my big strong protector." Xander grabbed him to steady himself as he pulled himself up. He looked at the bodies on the ground, then at his own injury. "Can we make it home in time?"
"Forty minutes to sail," Kristen said. She pulled out her phone, calling the House. "Hi, it's me. Everyone's living but we could use some help." She looked up. "Oh, no. Don't even tell me that. We've got gunshot victims here." She frowned, hanging up. "London called and ordered him to stay there and we have the only boat, the other sprung a leak and it's in the boathouse." She put the phone away. "What are we doing?" Oz shrugged, looking around.
Xander held up a hand. "We have the keys to the cells. Rachel had them last we knew. We could chain everyone up, me and who ever's up watching over you." He got a head shake from his mate. "Oz, we can't get you home in time and I'm bleeding. You'll attack me for it. No, don't argue, you know how you are about blood." He slid off the table, moaning in pain as his leg hit the ground. "Put them in the cells. We can all watch." He limped over to the pile of bodies, checking them over. "Giles' arm wound is open too." He looked up. "Buffy?"
"I attached her to a ring in the wall," Kristen said, "with my plastic cuffs." Both of the guys shook their heads. "Hey, it was only supposed to be temporary."
"Go check on her," Oz said. He made a snap judgement, looking at his watch. "His is the only plan we have." He walked over to the bodies, putting the gun into it's holster and picking up the first person. "Sit, Xan, I don't want you to move for a while. You're taking first watch." He carried the man inside, setting him in front of a cell.
Xander looked at Kristen as she walked back, looking at the surrounding stone building. "Get away?" She nodded, frowning. "Don't worry, she can't leave either." He nudged Giles on the chest. "Get up, we have plans." The older man grunted but didn't move. He tested his forehead then his own, then Derek's since he was close by. "He's got a fever. Do we have a first aid kit?" He watched as she ran back down to the boat, shaking his head. "Okay, an interesting night all around." He laid back, closing his eyes. "Oz, want me to stay conscious?"
"Nope, I got it," floated out from the building.
"Good," he whispered, falling asleep.
William looked up as Willow joined him in the Control room. "They're fine. I just got a call from Kristen." She nodded, sitting down to look at him. "What?"
"Why couldn't I go and you sit?"
"Because you're their mother and that's a more important job at the moment." She shook her head. "Yes, it is."
"No, that's just a chauvinist excuse for women not being able to fight. A handy excuse but you could have kept them just as easily." She turned the chair around, typing in a command, reactivating the computer system. "There, we're up and running." She stood up, walking out. "I'm not cooking, it's not in my job description."
He shook his head, calling his former second in command. "I think she's protesting too much," he told the keyboard. "Hello, we could use some help here at the moment. They're all out at Alcatraz and we can't go to them to help. And it's the full moon." The London Precept winced. "Very. What should we do?"
"Getting everyone woken up would be a start," he said dryly.
Xander slid down the wall, wincing as the pain in his leg got worse. He looked down at the bandage, seeing the blood still dripping a little from where it had reopened when he tripped. He started to black out and yelled, only being answered by howls. He looked at the cell phone, his method of last resort, then shook his head. When he could see again, he looked at the cages, seeing the unconscious people in them. He picked up the phone, holding it in his hands, weighing his options. "I can call, get help, and they get away and Oz and Kristen get shot or I can try to tough it out for a while longer," he said quietly. He stood back up, bracing his back against the wall, sliding the phone into his front pocket. "No, I can do this for a while longer. William promised us some help in the morning when the ferry started to run." He looked at the man on the floor of the nearest cell, a worried look coming over his face. "Giles, wake up time," he called again. The body on the floor grunted but didn't move. He started to go into the cell when he was tackled, held tightly against a womanly chest. "Buffy, lets be real here. You hurt me, Oz and Kristen break out and eat you. None of us can leave. Let me go check on him." He broke her hold, looking at her. "What?" he asked when she didn't move. "You've got the scary look again."
She shook her head. "Vamps." She smiled, a mean and nasty one. "But you're right, you're not worth my energy." She started to walk past but his hand on her arm stopped her.
"Protect us tonight. We can do this again tomorrow but just do your job tonight. That's all I ask. I can't fight." She shrugged. "Please, just this one last time. I'll let you hide in the morning when they come. Just don't let us get eaten."
She nodded, breaking his hold. "For old times sake." She walked away, whistling.
He slid back down to the floor, sighing in relief. "Figures. If something's bad, vamps show up to make it worse." He shook his head, clearing it a little more. "Just a few more hours," he told himself, "then we can be saved by non-scary or demented people."
Willow jumped at the sound of the doorbell, running out to answer it. She smiled, leaning against the frame. "Angel," she sad, "why are you here?"
He looked around the foyer. "I got told I was needed." She frowned at him. "The Powers That Be told me with a vision." He shifted his feet, looking anxious. "Where is she?"
"Alcatraz," William said, walking up behind them. "You must be Angel." They shook hands and he was waved in. "We could use the help."
He handed over an envelope. "The person with the vision told me I needed to find this and bring it or else I'd have been here last night." He looked at Willow, seeing the difference. "How are you really?"
"Oh, we're fine. The kids are great." She headed back for the room with the still sleeping people. "Welcome to the present problem. They're all stuck there until tomorrow." She sat down next to Jonathan, touching his foot. "Why come?"
"Because. The vision was very specific. That's what'll cure her, bring her back from the spell." He turned, looking at the paintings. "You fit in well here. How's Giles?"
"He's on the island with them, as are Oz and Xan," she said, frowning. "What is it, William? I could use something to do."
He opened the envelope and smiled, holding up the keys and rental notice. "Boat and a necklace?" He held it up, turning to look for the vampire, but he was gone. "Does he do that..."
"Yup," she said, taking the keys from his hand. "Lets go. They need us."
"Oz and Kristen will have to stay," he reminded her.
"Nope, I can move him." She looked at the house, then at him. "You stay this time, let me go." He tried to stop her but she turned, snarling and growling. "This is *my* family. Deal with the kids." She turned and ran off down the drive, meeting Angel at the boat. "Hi," she said, walking on. "Lets go, he'll watch my kids." He just shrugged, pulling away.
Oz looked up and sniffed as a familiar scent walked down the hall toward him. He howled, pounding on the bars until his female mate came into view, stopping to let him sniff her. He lapped her hand and arm then growled at the man behind her.
"Whoa," Willow said, "he's here to help us. Calm down, Oz." She saw a body laying in the shadows, running over to it. "Xander!"
Angel walked over, looking at him, sniffing a little. "He's still living." He looked at the cages. "As is everyone else so far." He turned, pulling out the necklace as he heard footsteps. "Company," he told her. She nodded, going in to check on Giles, a little more protected in the cell with him. He walked forward, out of the shadows, smiling when he saw who it was. "Nick," he said, shaking his hand. "How'd you get here?"
"I was called." The Detective shrugged. "Savannah called and woke me up." He looked at the bodies. "Want me to get them home?" Angel nodded. "Okay, she's upstairs on the roof. Have fun." He walked around him, heading for the only steady heartbeat he could hear. "You must be Willow," he said, holding out a hand. "Both Oz and Xander know me. I helped them get the person who shot Buffy." She nodded, stepping closer. "I'm a good guy, relax." He looked at the man on the floor of the cell. "Let's get them to the boat. He and Xander both need attention as quickly as possible." He picked up Giles effortlessly, carrying him down the hall and outside.
She smiled, wiping her brow. "Okay." She took the keys from Xander's limp hand, going to the other cells to open them for the people in her family.
William was fuming as a boat pulled back up at the dock. He stood up, walking out to the doorstep, waiting on the van he'd driven down there to come back up. When it stopped beside the door, he opened the back of it, wincing as he saw the condition of the people in it. He looked up to see an unfamiliar man standing there, the breeze whipping through his dark blonde hair. "And you are?"
"An old friend whom the two boys know." He picked up one, handing him over. "I won't even try to get in, don't worry."
William shrugged. "I don't think it really matters at the moment and we can always respell the doors. Grab one and follow me." He carried Nick into the living room, laying him down on an empty couch. "Just set them anywhere," he said, walking back out.
Buffy looked up as someone walked up behind her, smiling. "Come back to me again, Angel?" He shook his head. "Oh, why not? It's not like my life can't use more misery." She stood up, facing him. "Why are you here?" He held up the necklace, letting it hang from a finger. She snorted, putting her hands on her hips. "Not my style, thanks."
He grabbed her, pulling her closer, arm around her throat. "Who cares? And fashion is anything today," he said, going to his game face and catching her flailing hand with his teeth to drain her until she was weaker. When she couldn't fight anymore, he dropped her, putting the necklace around her throat and stepping back.
Her whole body arched up as it spasmed. He caught her foot to make sure she didn't fall but otherwise let it work it's magic, taking the spell off her so she could regret her life as much as he did.
Willow looked up at the first yell, shaking her head. She looked at Oz, clutching a stake and the keys. "Not a good, huh, Oz?" she asked him, watching him pace in the small space. "But we'll all live. We will, I promise." She stood up as she heard movement around her, looking around fearfully. She backed against the bars, putting the key in the lock in case she needed to let him out.
"Oh, ho," a male voice said from the shadows. "It's been a while since we had fresh food out here." The vampire walked out, game face out. "And who might you be, deary? I keep a diary of my food's names." He watched her fumble with the key then looked up at the nearly vibrating body in the cage behind her. "And strange things too. Maybe I should keep you." He ran over to her, catching her before she could get it open. "Got you," he whispered.
Willow tried to bring the stake up, trying to get him, but he was much stronger. She kicked him in the nuts, able to back up now and take a wild swing, which he ducked away from. "Go to Hell," she told him. "I'm tired of all of you!" She ran at him, stake high, more than ready to kill him. Then she hit the front of the cage when he hit her, her shirt catching on the key.
Oz rattled the door, feeling the difference now. He hit it hard, reaching his paw around to where it was stuck. It encountered something strange so batted at it, his hand turning it a little each time. He turned it for the last time just as the vampire bent over his mate, opening the door and going out to fight for her.
Xander moaned, grabbing his stomach. He didn't know what was wrong, but something was. He opened his eyes, seeing the house and worried eyes looking at him. "Will needs help," he whispered, his mouth very dry. "Oz is out and she's being attacked." He passed back out, his job done as well as it could be.
William looked at the vampire, seeing his thoughtful look. "You're the expert on one part of that."
"We go," Nick said. "I'll drive." He walked out of the castle, then looked around. He tossed the keys to the other man, nodding. "Never mind, I've got a faster way." He looked up, flying up. "Meet me there," he called down.
William shook his head. "We need to get information from him. It's obvious we don't have it all." He jogged down to the boat dock, not worrying about the kids at the time. He had some other things to do and Dominick was up now.
Oz slapped the vampire away, knocking him onto his rear across the room. He looked down at Willow then at the creature, growling and putting himself between them. He stopped to sniff the air, then turned his head to growl some more.
Willow crawled backwards into the cage, closing the door after her. She watched as the three other vamps converged on Oz, silently praying to all the Gods she knew to help him. Then she saw the dark leather of a black trench coat, sighing in relief. "Angel, help!"
Their old ally came into the fight, taking on one of his own kind before it could bite the werewolf, spinning him away. He didn't look at Oz, making his position known by his actions. He turned on another vamp, going to game face and grabbing him.
Willow watched, safely tucked away at the moment. She staked the one that landed against the bars, then backed up as the next one tried to grab her. "No, shoo," she said, beating it's hand with the blunt end of the stake.
The other vampire from earlier came to her rescue, biting the one trying to get to her, tossing its used body away and looking at her. "I can make you forget," he offered. She shook her head, so he waded into the fight.
William parked the boat, running up to where the lights were. He pulled out his tranq gun, aiming at the loose werewolf and firing before he could bite someone.
"Nice shot, but he was helping," Willow called. She waved him over to her cage, opening the door for him to get in with her. "Just let them handle it for now. That's six more in the last ten minutes." She went pale as Buffy walked past the cage, going to help. When she saw her stake the first one, she smiled. "Buffy, stake?" She got a nod so tossed it to her. "She's better now," she told William. He just nodded, watching.
Derek woke up, holding his head. He rolled off the couch, looking around at the bodies, dropping down beside Nick to check him first. He got a pained grunt so tried to wake him again, smiling in satisfaction when the younger man opened his eyes. "Nick," he whispered, running a hand through his hair. "Are you all right?"
"Head hurts," he groaned, sitting up. He looked at the others in the room. "We look like a war zone." He looked down at Derek, then at the hand on his knee. "Did I do something that you wanted to tell me?"
The Precept looked confused but then smiled. "I take it you have your memory back?" The younger man nodded patiently. "Goot, help me get them up." He took back his hand, looking around. He crawled over to Xander, his smile falling away when he saw the red bandage. "Go find the medical kit. He's been hurt badly." He lifted up an edge of the bandage, looking at the wound. "Gunshot?" The young man groaned but didn't wake up, prompting him to check his forehead. "Fever," he muttered. He was handed the book kept in the first aid kit, flipping to the quick and easy chart. "Gunshot wound, thigh. Fever." He traced down the chart. "I know that. What do I do now?"
Nick walked over to look at Marcus, shaking him lightly. "Hey, you're needed, get up."
The doctor opened an eye to look at him then sat up quickly, looking around. He turned to see Giles, and his bandage, so went over to check on him. "We need to have them admitted," he told the two awake men. "I don't know what happened, but this is old and he's already infecting. I can't even tell what it is without removing the bandage."
"Come here," Derek said, moving out of the way so Marcus could look at the young boy. "Work on him, I'll see to the others." He stood up, heading for the kitchen and the other supplies they kept around. He came back carrying the things he would need to bandage the wounds carefully and sat down beside Giles to look at him. "Nick, check Jonathan, then have him get any others." He lifted off the old bandage, hissing as the wound started to bleed, wiping it gently with the warm cloth.
"Call an ambulance while you're at it," Marcus said. "Tell them it was a kidnapping and we have one..."
"Two," Derek said, "gunshot wounds." He looked at Marcus, tossing over a spare washcloth and the other bottle of chilled water. "Are you all right?"
"I should be, don't worry about me." He bent back down to look at the wound he was caring for. "Really nasty. Wonder who did it?"
"Buffy," Giles said, sitting up. "I'm fine, go fuss over him."
"Shut up," Nick said. "I've called, they'll be here in a few minutes by chopper." He shook the nanny lightly, hearing the grunt. "Up and at 'em Jon. We don't know where the kids are."
"Upstairs," Xander said, still not conscious. "They're fine." He sighed, leaning into the gentle touch. "Just make it not hurt please."
"Sure, Xander you know that," Marcus said. He looked at Derek, who was frowning. "Worry about what it means later, get Alex up." The Precept nodded, pushing on her shoulder as he rewrapped Rupert's shoulder.
Nick went out to let the Paramedics in, leading them back to the living room. He was sat down and looked over, then the one that checked him looked over the others that could move. He had to watch as his brother was loaded up and taken out, Marcus walking beside him, working to stabilize his leg.
Oz sniffed the two people looking at him, growling at them, walking over, but his mate came flying at him, hugging him tightly as she cried on him. He sat down, licking over her face to comfort her and make her stop.
Angel and Nick looked at William and Buffy. "Want us to go or stay?" Angel asked. "She's cured, just keep the necklace on for a while longer."
"Stay, please," William said. "I want to talk to you both." He looked at Nick. "Especially you. Your..." he cleared his throat, "ability wasn't mentioned anywhere."
"They're different types," Buffy said. "Giles would know." She looked at her former boyfriend. "Thank you. You saved me again." She held out a hand, which he shook it a short pause. "You can do your mysterious disappearing into the night thing if you want. We need to get back to the castle." She looked at Nick. "No radio?"
"No," he admitted. "It's on the boat." He looked at William. "I'm around, they know how to find me." He walked out after Angel, nodding at Willow on the way.
"I feel like asking who was that masked man," Willow said. She took a deep breath and stood up, backing away from her boyfriend. "Sedate them and let's go. I need to get back."
William pulled out his tranq gun, resedating Oz then turning to hit Kristen with one. He handed it off to Willow, taking the key out of the cell door to get the female werewolf out. "Buffy, get him. We've got two boats now."
Together they started the long trek home.
Giles looked up as his hospital door opened, frowning at the man standing there. "Ethan," he said dryly. "I'm not dead yet, so you must be here to extract something from me."
"Contrary to popular opinion, I'm here as a goodwill ambassador." He shut the door, walking over to sit in the chair. "I've found a wonderful woman and we've settled down. She's here visiting her son and I heard your name mentioned so I thought I'd pop up." When silence greeted his admission, he stood up. "Of course, if you don't want me to stay, I won't."
"No, sit. You're not being harmful and I'd like to hear the news of home." He shifted on the bed. "And if you've truly changed, I'll know before you leave."
"That's the spirit, give the misunderstood one another chance." Ethan smiled, pulling the chair closer. "She's a wonderful woman, a bit older but very kind. She made me see how bad I had become, making me want to turn around for her." His smile turned soft, romantic. "Quite a woman, my Barbara is."
Derek looked up as Xander's door opened, Nick walking in with some coffee. "He's still out," he said quietly. "The infection's down but they are still keeping him under until Marcus is sure he'll be all right." He sat forward to take the cup. "How are Oz and Willow?"
"They're fine. She's mostly recovered from her ordeal and they'll be okay." He looked at the still form on the bed. "This one was close, Derek. Way too close for someone his age." He sipped at his own cup. "We should make them full time students for a few more years." He looked at his boss. "Nobody should have to face dying at twenty-one."
"He'll be fine but you can suggest it when he's better." He reached over to touch Nick's arm. "What else is bothering you? The memories?" Nick nodded. "I understand and we'll talk when you're ready."
The younger man leaned back, watching the body on the bed. "I did want it, I just couldn't say it to you."
Derek nodded. "Then we'll figure it out." He drank his coffee, watching the young man on the bed.
TO BE CONTINUED....