Necessary Things by Voracity
Rating: NC-17

The male part of the trio were doing their last minute shopping, the last two weeks having been taken up with talking things over and renewing their friendship. Xander looked over the few bathing suits offered on the off-season rack and shook his head. "Oz, there's nothing here for me." The older man came over to him, looking at the small selection before picking up a metallic blue Speedo and handing it over. He felt the fabric, shivering at all the little bumps playing with his fingers as he imagined what it would do to more sensitive skin. "But I have one of these and I look funny in it." He started to put it back but his lover stopped his hand and propelled him to the changing room. "Oz," he said again, almost whining.

"For me?" the older man asked, letting his lip come out just the tiniest fraction of an inch. And that was all it took. He waited, looking through the little slats to watch him change, getting quite an eyeful, but stepping back to let him walk out. "Nice," he said, walking closer to touch the material. "Feels nice."

"True, but I look awful in these." He begged silently. "Please?"

"Only if you can find something else that I like you in better." He turned, walking away, heading back to his own swimsuit hunt. He watched his lover walk back into the dressing room oblivious to the stares of the women around the store. He looked down at the rack, raising an eyebrow as he picked up a macramé bikini. "What is the purpose of this?"

"Fun," the woman behind him said. She smiled at him, winking.

Unfortunately, Xander walked out of the changing room at that time, walking over to take the suit and look at his lover, mentally fitting him in it. "Do it and never leave the bedroom," he said, handing it back. He got a small smile from his lover and a dirty look from the woman trying to hit on him. "And I still think that it's too small and my hips are too flat."

"You're fussing when the only ones to see you will be me and Derek." Oz put back the bikini and walked back to the rack he'd been looking at. "You looked fine when you were on the swim team."

"I looked like a geek and I still do." He looked over the brightly colored fabrics but kept coming back to a simple steel gray spandex pair of trunks. He picked them up, handing them over. "Try those, would look good against your hair and light skin." His lover shook his head, moving to put them back. "For me?" he whispered, leaning closer. "All tight and outlining," he breathed, adding just a touch of lust into his voice that always made Oz blush. "Please?" That got him a shiver and an automatic return to the dressing room. He waited patiently, not looking until the slightly older man came back out in them. Then he whistled, letting his tongue hang out. "Nice," he said, swallowing hard. "Tight but...nice." He wiped his forehead off. "Very nice."

Oz looked in the mirrors, seeing the outline of everything he had perfectly. "Little tight," he said. He looked at his lover, raising an eyebrow. "If I can't find anything I like better," he said. "Or maybe just in the right size," he amended at the hint of pout. The saleswoman walked over, silently handing a larger pair to him, very busy staring. He hurried back into the changing room, coming back out in the new one, a little less tight but still very defining. "Xan?" he asked softly, looking in the mirror.

Xander walked up behind him, brushing up against him. "You're getting this one, no matter what else you get," he said softly. "Or just get this in different colors." Their eyes met in the mirror as he rubbed just a little more before backing off. "Come help me find something decent. I don't want to scare the fish off." He headed back to the rack, glancing back to wink. "I don't want to look like a lure either." He ran into a rack, looking around to make sure no one had noticed.

Oz shook his head, going back to change, coming back out carrying the one he liked and handing off the too-tight one as he walked over to help his lover look for a bathing suit he wouldn't be embarrassed in.

It was almost an hour later, and a few hundred dollars less wealthy, that they walked out of the store, heading out to put the bags into the car. Oz caught Xander squinting at the lock and silently offered his sunglasses but the younger man shook his head, getting the key in and opening the trunk. They walked back inside, heading for their favorite all-purpose clothing shop, heading straight for the sale racks of summer clothes.

Xander held up a pair of *bright* print shorts but Oz made a cross against the power of their intensity, tossing them away quickly before he went blind. "Let me dress you," he whispered, walking up behind him to pick up a pair of shorts to look at, rubbing them against the firm stomach without anyone noticing. "How about this color?" He got a hard swallow and a small nod so grabbed what he wanted to see him in, walking his lover over to the dressing rooms and putting him inside one. He couldn't watch through these doors but he could imagine. Especially when he saw the condition of his lover when he came out in the bike shorts. "Very nice," he said, walking around him. "We should get you more of these. Look comfy."

"Are, but tight." He pulled his underwear out of his crack, looking pitiful. "I won't be able to concentrate in them."

"Who said you'll be wearing them outside," Oz said very softly beside his lover's ear. "We're not digging that much. That's Derek's job while we catalog." He did another circuit around the younger man. "You're getting those." He reached into the shorts for the tag, noting the size, then walked off to go get him more pairs while he changed again. He came back to find Xander still in the dressing room. "What's up?" he called, tossing them over the door. "Probs?"

"No?" was the hesitant reply.

Oz opened the door, walking in and looking at the shirt the younger man wore. "Much too tight," he said, stroking over his lover's pec. "I'll go get you another size." He looked up into the chocolate-colored eyes, grinning. "Unless you want this one." He got a mute head shake so he walked out to get another one. He came back to find his lover redressed and sitting on a chair, looking at the clothes. "What's wrong?" he asked, handing over the tank tops. When he didn't get an answer, he squatted down in front of him. "Hey, Xan, what's up?" He brushed some of the hair around. "Are you upset?"

"No, just wanting," he said quietly. He looked at his lover. "I want, Oz, lots." He got a nod of encouragement. "I want what you get." That earned him a bright, delighted smile. "Tonight?"

"When we get there. Until then, I'll let you work up to it, just to make sure." He helped him up and to the registers, heading out to the car and getting in.

Xander closed the trunk before sliding into his seat. "We're done?" he asked sadly.

"Only if you won't close your door right now." The door was closed and locked, and the now too-tight jeans were undone for him. "Hmm, my favorite treat." Oz leaned over, licking the wet, hard cock that was begging for his attention. "We can go do more shopping later." He sucked him into his mouth, working him quickly down as far as he could. Xander moaned, playing with the older man's hair, head thrown back and mouth open. The older man nipped at a particular spot that he knew was extra-sensitive, and the next moment his mouth was filled with hot fluid. Oz swallowed all of it, slurping and licking the younger man clean before pulling off to kiss him.

"Ohh, taste," Xander muttered, taking control of the kiss so he could taste all he wanted to. When he pulled back, they were both smiling. "Are we done or do you need my help?"

"No, I'm fine. I can live like this." He brushed through some of the softest hair he'd felt, letting him come back down gently. "I want my clothes to fit over this since I'm sure to be this hard the whole time." Xander slid the key into the ignition but didn't turn it. "Whenever you're ready," Oz told him.

"You drive us to lunch and I'll nap," the younger man offered.

"Cool, haven't driven your car in forever." He got out, walking around to get in after his lover had scooted over. He looked at the ignition then shook his head. "Keys?" he prompted.

"Pocket." Xander started to snore lightly, just a hint of sound but telling enough.

Oz shook his head, patting both sides down, earning happy grunts. He went in to retrieve them, earning him a wiggle and a smile. "Lunching we go," he said softly, buckling up and starting the car. He checked behind him before pulling out.


Xander looked at his balance and grunted, shrugging. "Thought I spent more," he muttered, withdrawing some cash from his account. He felt a heavy head hit his shoulder. "Think that'll be enough?"

"To buy the waitress too," his lover quipped before backing up. Oz checked the slip, getting nosy. "Xan, congrats, you're spending more."

"I had some invested." He looked at his lover in confusion. "Why? Do you think it wasn't a good idea?"

"I worry about you sometimes," Oz said, shaking his head as he handed back the slip of paper. He nodded at the machine, prompting him to get his money and follow him to a table. They sat down facing each other, ordering quickly, then just stared.

"I think I spend tons," Xander said finally. "I need to save some in case something happens."

Oz pulled out his checkbook, handing it over to show off. All the toy store entries got a small smile. "You don't spend anything. I swear, you'll be rich soon and leave us." His lover grabbed his hand, shaking his head. "Joke, guy, relax," he said softly. "Remember, this was an old play argument? Way back when?"

Xander sighed as he handed back the checkbook. "It's not that much. I buy the kids tons of toys and my car is paid for. Unless I spoil you, I don't have much to spend it on."

"I'd like that."

"Okay," the younger man said happily, "do you like flowers?" His lover rolled his eyes. "Hmm, no flowers. Candy?" He snapped his fingers. "Okay, got it. Expect to be spoiled tonight." He grinned, kind of, looking more like his old self.

"Wow." Oz took the tapping hand, entwining their fingers. "Haven't seen that grin recently. Like it though." The younger man blushed. "Ahh, cuteness." The blush got deeper as the waitress brought their food. They waited until they were alone to go back to holding hands and giving meaningful looks.

They ate in silence, quickly scarfing down the food so they could get back to their special time together. Oz let Xander pay then they hurried out to the car, the younger man driving them toward the club district. He pulled up outside an unmarked building, kissing his lover on the cheek before running inside. He came back out with a big bag and a huge grin, sliding back into his seat so he could pull away from the curb. He kept glancing at Oz all the way to the park, where you could see the house on a clear day. He stopped in a secluded parking spot, turning to smile as he handed over the bag.

Oz raised an eyebrow as he opened it, bursting out laughing when he looked down inside. He pulled out the large box, shaking his head. "Xan, you're priceless." He petted the anatomically correct wolf after he pulled it out. "What should we name him?"

"Mini-Oz?" Xander said with a grin, earning him a kiss to the cheek. "He's got presents." He took back the bag, taking out a smaller bag that had been left in it. "And so do I."

The older man looked for a pocket or some other holding place. When he didn't find one, he slipped a finger inside his new pet, eyes opening wider as he pulled out a woven leather ball. He handed off the animal to open the ball and smiled. "Xan, you shouldn't have." He slipped the leather thong around his neck, adjusting the small pendant on it. "What's it mean?" he asked as he looked at the symbol drawn on it.

"Beloved." Xander blushed. "It's a mark of ownership but I didn't think you'd mind. Here," he said, handing back the animal and unwrapping a little box, holding it out. When it wasn't taken, he opened it, taking out another pendant, with Egyptian symbols, and a bracelet. He held them out, waiting. Oz didn't move though, so his face fell and they headed back into the box.

"You don't know how to do this, do you?" his lover asked quietly. He held out a wrist. "Put it on me so I can see how cute it is." He smiled at the hesitant fingers touching him then looked at the gold herringbone bracelet in the light of the sunset. "Cute. I like it." He leaned over for a kiss. "But why the other pendant?"

"This one means the same thing but without the ownership overtones." Xander smiled shyly. "I was going to let you choose and hide the other in the wolf."

Oz leaned over to kiss him again, gently stroking the soft cheek with his lips. "I'll wear them both and only take them off when I change," he whispered, "but I was only kidding about being spoiled. You don't have to buy me things." He pulled back, taking off the thong and untying it to slide the other pendant on. He retied it before putting it back on to model it.

"Beautiful." The younger man grinned. "I wanted to, don't fuss."

"I'm not going to fuss but I don't want you to feel obligated." He started to lean in for another kiss but the tapping at the window stopped him.

"Yes, sir?" Xander asked as he rolled down the window.

The cop looked them both over then shook his head. "This is a no make-out zone boys and your sticker's old."

"The new one's on the table at home," Oz told him. "We were in a hurry and forgot to put it on." He pulled out the current registration from his visor, handing it over.

The officer looked at it and nodded before handing it back. "Get that fixed tonight boys and go home. I don't want to catch you here when I come back through." He walked away.

Xander rolled up his window, sighing as he leaned back in his seat. "Thanks. Want to shop more or go home?"

"Hmm, think I want to go dancing." Oz looked down at himself. "Not dressed for it though."

"We could get in where Devon's working. It's mostly straight but it's teens."

The older man shook his head. "Nah, don't want to go look at women. Let's go home and we can co-opt our room."

"Will's got a class tonight," Xander reminded him. He started the car, turning around to go to the docks. "And there's always the other room."

On the ferry, they snuggled together, sharing kisses and quiet words. They hadn't done more than this since they'd gotten back together so that afternoon had marked a turning point for them. They let themselves get closer, more passionate, than they had been. Each kiss brought them back to the easier days when there were less worries and distance between them, each touch reigniting a fire they thought they had lost. By the time they got off the boat, all the distance had been crossed again and they were ready to move on.

Derek met them at the door, smiling as he saw their easy play with each other. He noticed Oz's pendants as he took a few of the bags, reading the one and chuckling. "It certainly fits," he said, hugging them both. The older member of the couple looked at him, silently asking for him to translate. "Keeper of the Heavenly flame that makes my heart glow and me live," he told them, brushing over each symbol as he read it. "It fits you both." Oz held up his stuffed wolf, grinning slightly, making him burst out laughing as he shook his head. He ruffled the younger man's hair as he walked away.

Xander looked at Oz, smirking. "I think he liked it." He rubbed his pinched arm. "Hey." He looked around the silent foyer. "Looks like everyone else went far, far away."

Oz picked up his half of the bags to walk up the stairs. He turned to look at his lover at the first landing, running his tongue over his bottom lip. "Good," he said simply. He kept walking, growing harder as he heard the hurried footsteps catching up to him.

They walked into their bedroom, playfully pushing each other now. They dropped their packages on the table and Xander pulled him into his arms, moving them slowly over to the cd player. He let his lover select a disk, setting a gentle, rocking, rubbing rhythm. They swayed through three songs, content just to be holding the other. The peace was broken when five yelling bodies careened through the door at them. They sat down to cuddle them, listening to the plot of the movie they kids had seen.

Xander looked at Oz. "I'm happy," he told him. His lover leaned over to give him a kiss but was blocked by Timothy standing up between them. They each kissed him then the other then Xander got up to get a bedtime book.

After they were all in bed and they'd spent a few minutes watching their angels sleep, they went back to their room, sitting in the middle of their new things to sort them out. They packed their bags for Florida, helping each other with quiet suggestions of other things to bring.

That's how Derek found them. He walked in, handing gaily wrapped boxes to each of them before sitting in a chair to watch his presents be opened. He smiled at the happy snorts as they read the t-shirts. "I thought it would be appropriate. The children's Gotmother helped me pick them out. Precious said she ordered them just for you two." He stood up, looking down at the bags. "I'd hope you're bringing more than that."

Xander smirked. "Bathing suits and shorts don't take *that* much room."

Derek nodded. "True, but you'll need some dress clothes for nights out and a few pairs of jeans for the days you have to go do research at a University." He smiled gently at them. "I thought you were going to skinny-dip."

Oz nodded. "But I found him a suit I want to see him in occasionally." He raised an eyebrow, grinning just a little. "Or do you really want us to run around naked?"

The older man shrugged. "I grew up in Europe around nude and topless beaches." His smile got just a touch more on the playful side. "I'm sure neither of you has anything I've not seen." He walked out, closing the door behind him.

Xander looked at his lover, bursting out laughing, leaning into the firm body for support. "I hope Nick doesn't get us," he said between laughs.

Oz shook his head, quieting him with his lips. His lover leaned into him more, matching him kiss for kiss. They ended up on the floor, holding the other tightly as they probed the individual tastes they had acquired over the day. When Xander pulled back, he licked his lips, smiling. That alone got him kissed again, the touches and kisses going from comforting to passionate now. Oz groaned as he rubbed against his lover, pulling his hips closer to get more friction through their jeans.

Willow cleared her throat as she walked into the room. "Wouldn't a bed be better for that?" She tossed her backpack down on the table, sitting in the pulled out chair. "How's the packing going?"

"Fine," Oz said from his position on the younger man's chest. "We got told we need another bag of stuff and some dress clothes but we've got the rest done."

She smiled down at them. "Want me to go sleep in the other room?" Both guys shook their heads. "Okay, so long bath anyone?" They looked at each other and smiled, nodding. She sighed, pulling her bag over to pull out her books as they disappeared into the bathroom together.

Xander was relieving himself when he felt the heat of a body press up against his back. He sighed as the damp hands grabbed his hips firmly but gasped as a hot, hard heat was pushed into his crack. "Oz," he sighed, leaning back.

"Hurry up, you're on the bottom first," the older man whispered. He backed away, turning to turn off the water, bending over to do so. He watched the flushed, tense body lower into the water then climbed in to straddle the firm legs, merging their lips. He groaned as he shifted closer to rub their hard cocks together.

They both moaned, Xander pulling his lover closer, running his hands down the sweaty back. "Want you," he whispered in between kisses. His breath caught as Oz lowered himself onto him, rocking slowly. "Oz, Oz, Oz, Oz" he chanted between kisses, hands groping and gripping his lover's skin as he went over the edge. His limp and sated body slid lower into the water, his eyes fluttering closed.

Oz smiled at him, getting up gently. He nudged the younger man, earning a sleepy grin. "Want me still?" he asked quietly.

Xander's eyes snapped open and the smile came back. "What can I do for you?" He pulled himself up. "How do you want me?"

"Any way and every way." Oz sat on the side of the tub, surveying his possibilities. "Did you mean it earlier?" He got a frantic nod. "Suck me now then I'm on the bottom." He'd barely gotten the last word out when the hot mouth surrounded him. He moaned as he wrapped his fingers in the dark hair, slowing him down. "Slow down," he panted, "want to enjoy this." That sinful tongue went to work as the head slowed down. His back arched as one hand slid down his hip to tease his hole, the other teasing his inner thighs. He swallowed hard as the talented throat worked around him. His breathing sped up, his eyes squeezed tightly shut, and his fingers tugged and kneaded the tender scalp as he came. Gentle hands caught him before he fell, sliding him back into the water. He opened his eyes to see the worried but pleased face swimming in front of him. "Wow." He held out his arms, sighing as they were filled. "Missed that," he told a pink ear. "No brains but was good." He pushed the younger man back. "Turn around, want to play." His lap was filled and his hands were pulled around the trim waist. They lay cuddled in the water, being comfortable and comforted in their afterglow.

"Would you play for me when we're down there?" Xander asked quietly as he played with the talented fingers.

"I hadn't planned on it but I can do that." Oz closed his eyes to think. "Let's use my suit bag for the mandatory dress clothes and do just one more bag together. Less to carry, even with the guitar case."

"We could use my big, wheeled one. We'd have extra room in case we bought some more stuff." That got him tummy rubs. "Ooohh, I ought to come up with good ideas more often." He didn't protest the light pinch, snuggling back farther instead. "Am I too heavy?"

"Not yet." Oz moved one hand lower, teasing the dark, wet curls. "Think we have enough suntan lotion?" His lover snorted.

"We have three gallons. It should be enough for the rest of our lives." He leaned his head back, licking over the side of a stubbled jaw. "We do need to get stuff still." A tender kiss was placed on the tip of his nose as the teasing hand moved lower. "Umm, yeah, like that."

"Like what?"

"Oh, um, industrial sized bottle of lube, gross of condoms. Ahhh!" Xander shifted his hips up, liking where the hand was going. " We're going to have to rerun the water if you keep going, Oz," he warned.

"Could do that. Turn around." His lover moved quickly, catching his mouth as soon as he could. "Eager?" he asked when he could breathe again.

"Very. Want you." Xander wrapped the talented hands around his waist as he leaned back in for a kiss. He felt the small smile as he pulled back, making him relax against the taut chest for cuddling. "It's been almost two years, Oz, and I'm ready now." He placed a gentle kiss to the heavy pulse, holding him tighter. "I've worked out all my issues and predatory problems and now I'm ready." He closed his eyes and sighed as a finger brushed across his entrance, going limp.

"So I see, but we still need to work you up to it." Oz let his fingertip enter, watching the whole back tense then go back to limp by force of will. "See?" When he got a small nod, he forced the head on his shoulder up, kissing him. "I want to make it special for you and I want to do it in the Keys."

Xander smiled, nodding. "I can handle that." He flexed his muscles around the invading finger, wiggling his eyebrows. "But can we do this?"

"I'm going to be in trouble once you're broken in, aren't I?" That got him a few happy nods.

"You'll need to start taking vitamins again," the younger man promised before he kissed him again, deeply possessive as he used his leverage to move the finger farther inside himself. He had to pull back to cough as it moved, wiggling inside him, setting off a rush of feelings. "Is...are you going to feel like that?"

"Well, I can't bend like that but you're going to feel really full." Oz withdrew his little finger to slide in his index one. "About three or four times that." He moved it, thrusting in and out, watching the younger man's look of intense concentration. "Like that?" he asked before brushing over a small bump, grinning at the suddenly tense body. "Want me to stop?"

"Not if you want attacked later," Xander whispered, licking his lips as he tried to get the finger there again. He wiggled his hips around in all directions to try and get it back there. "Oz," he whined, "please?"

"Ride it babe, let it happen." The anti-rhythmic movements became gentle as his lover worked him, going on instinct to establish a good rhythm. He slid in a second finger, setting off a shiver through the younger man that resulted in his orgasm. He gently rubbed around the tight hole to help him come down gently, his other hand stroking down the twitching back. "You okay, Xan?"

"Wow," the younger man whispered, letting his head fall onto the waiting shoulder. "Is it that intense for you?"

"Sometimes," Oz said. "And sometimes it's more so when I'm looking into your eyes and our souls connect."

Xander pulled back, grinning fully. Nobody had seen that look on his face, or in his eyes, since they'd come back here after their stint apart. His bright eyes shone down at his lover, making known exactly what he felt. "Such a poet," he teased lightly.

Oz just smiled at him as he shifted his legs so they might get some feeling back. His lover got out of the tub, making him groan in pain as the contact was lost and he regained circulation to his feet. Xander hit the drain switch as he bent down to pick the older man up, carrying him out to the bed. He laid him gently onto the soft blanket, sitting on his other side to rub the pins and needles away. As he was working on the calves, he looked at his lover's cock, the object of his desires, and his mouth started to water. He let the leg go before bending down to kiss the dark tip. He licked down the shaft before letting it fill his mouth. He worshiped this part of his lifeline, his life's meaning, trying to show how much he loved, needed, wanted, and adored him. He was so involved he didn't feel the fingers in his hair or hear the gasp from the doorway, he just let all his happiness and love pour out into the simplest of acts that he could do for the man that made him whole. He received the small reward with equal reverence, holding it in his mouth so he could taste it before swallowing. He gave the spent organ one last tender kiss to the head then moved to lay on the sweaty, heaving stomach.

Oz stared down at his lover in amazement while he caught his breath. "What did I do to deserve that?" he asked quietly. His answer was a gentle kiss to his stomach muscles. "Xander?"

"Love you," the younger man said simply. He was pulled up to look into the wide eyes of his love and friend.

"So I noticed." Oz brushed a lock of hair off the damp forehead. "I love you too. I just never expected that..." He choked up, his words caught against the lump in his throat. He pulled the younger man down onto his body, holding him, hoping to show a thousandth of the love he felt he had gotten.

Oz looked up to see Derek in the doorway, not ashamed as he wiped his eyes of the tears. The older man left them alone, closing the door silently. He walked down to his own room, contemplating what he had seen as he lay down with his loves.

Philip was the first to notice his heavy thoughts, rolling over to hold his older lover. "Wha's wrong?" he asked gently.

"I just saw the most incredible love and I think I'm envious." He watched Nick retreat into the bathroom, aware that he still felt uncomfortable with personal talks dealing with emotions or between the two lovers that had chosen him. He waited until the door was closed to roll Philip into his arms and to hold him as tightly as he could, not wanting to ever let him go. "I wanted to ask the boys about having a night out on the town while we're down there." He took a deep breath, closing his eyes, the image he had seen burned into his mind's eye. "I saw Xander *worshiping* Oz. Every action reverent, every movement of his mouth..." He squeezed the younger man, breaking off when he couldn't describe it. "It was just an act of pure and total love."

Philip nodded. "They're that close. This is what keeps tearing them apart, neither is ready for that depth and it scares them." He snuggled closer. "But they've got to work it out on their own. Without Willow getting in the way."

"I know, but just to see that... It's like the most spectacular sunburst between them."

"It makes you sad because ya don't have that?" He got a small, mute nod. "I'm not mad, what they have is so rare that we should cherish seeing it."

"It's like a fairytale."

"Then we'll make sure they get a happily ever after." Philip smiled at Nick as he walked back into the room. "Derek saw a fairytale love." He patted the bed on the other side of their older lover's body.

"The two or the three of them?"

"The boys. Willow was in the nursery." Derek stopped to consider this. "I think they might do much better without her coming between them actually. She seems able to disrupt Xander so easily." He looked down at Nick. "I didn't mean to watch them but I couldn't stop. It was just so...perfect."

Nick nodded. "I've seen it. That's why I keep getting involved in their fights." He took the other two's hands in his. "Why we do."

"Florida will be good for them," Philip told them. "All the barriers between them will come down and they'll figure it out."

Xander knocked on the door and walked in. "Hey." He walked over to the bed. "Can I talk to Derek?" Philip and Nick headed out of the room, talking about snacks. He blushed lightly but Derek cut him off.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to watch." He got a confused look then the blush got very bright so he sat up, pulling the younger man over to hug. "It was an accident."

Xander nodded. "Um, okay, I'll deal." He pulled back, grimacing. "And I'll remember to close the door next time too." He shook his head. "I just wanted to talk to you about Florida."

"All I'm expecting is for you two to disappear often to talk or work on your papers." He tickled the younger man lightly. "Or to go jump each other."

The young man started to blush again, pulling away. "What if..." He shook his head. "Never mind. That's *way* personal."

"Did you need to ask a question?" The young man nodded so he waited but nothing was said. "What did you need to know, Xander?" he asked quietly. When he still couldn't get it out, Derek pulled the young man onto the bed to sit beside him. "What is your paper on?" he asked out of the blue, knowing from long experience that the younger man would work his way back around to it if his mind was distracted by another question.

"I wanted to do one on my own this time, figure some things out that way."

"Would you like to do something on male couples? You're a Psychology major now, so that would be in line."

"Could I? I mean, I know I've turned in a proposal but can I change it?"

"Your proposal is on my desk because Oz still hasn't turned in his yet." He hugged the man who was like his son. "Do something that interests you and that will help you learn about yourself." He let the now wiggling body go. "Give another to me within a week."

Xander nodded. "Okay. Thanks." He smiled, just a hint of one. "What did you see?"

"A fairytale." Derek smiled. "The same thing Oz saw, the fact that you love him so much that it defies words." He brushed the younger man's dark hair around, messing it up. "Florida is meant to give you time to heal and to work out your problems. You're going to work everything out between yourselves. And to help me on the dig." Xander smiled at that. "Just relax and let it happen, don't force discussions. Self-discovery only happens when you're not looking."

The young man nodded, sitting back down beside the older man. "Would it be mean of me to thank you for not letting Willow come with us? I know you support our relationship and everything but..." He had to stop when the hand went over his mouth.

"I'll support you in whomever you love, but you don't want to listen to my speech on Willow's recent behavior at the moment." He got a nod. "You do?"

Xander took the hand off his mouth, playing with the long fingers. "Yeah, I do. Maybe it's just that validation stuff that the teacher kept harping on, but I know something's not right between us and I'm not sure what it is."

"She's harmful to you, Xander, and probably always has been," Derek said softly. "Not only when she hit you after your return, which thankfully she stopped once she realized she was doing it, but also with her words and her actions. As the Precept, I see her inherent value to the Legacy, but I wish she would go to another house some days after I hear her put you down or hear her start on Oz."

"She forgets that she's the one that brought me between them." He looked into the eyes so like his own, seeing the truth there which called to the truth his heart knew. "I don't want her, Derek, and I haven't for a while. I love Oz, with everything in me, but I don't love her and I can't take her problems anymore," he admitted quietly. "I just want to yell at her some days but then I see the kids and I can't because it'll hurt them or I see Oz, who she made accept me and I'm not sure that he wouldn't follow her."

"Why don't you ask him," Oz said from the doorway. He shut and locked the door, walking over to look down at his mate. "I'm not going with her. We'll get custody of the kids because of the infrastructure here so they won't be so upset." He hugged Xander to his stomach, petting him. "Why didn't you say something? I would have stopped her." He paused to think. "Huh, that was telling, I've ignored her for so long that it's become habit."

"She's always done it. I'm her whipping post when her life's not going right. I always have been so I'm used to it. Even when we were kids."

"Xander," Derek said, rubbing down his back, "you don't have to be. It's an abusive relationship and I'll help you get out of it."

Oz took off his wedding band and threw it over his shoulder. "Got the clue now? I've picked my mate and it's you, not her. It just took me longer to see how bad she can get." He dropped a soft kiss on the younger man's part and stepped back. "Your decision, Xan, and it'll stay in here no matter what until we decide how to take action."

"You'd give her up for me?" he asked, his mouth hanging open. "Oz, man, I love you." He jumped up, hugging his mate. "I want you to be my mate, and only you." He looked at Derek. "Do you think Philip could come down to Florida and do it?"

"We can do that," the Precept said. "I'll have him bring Nick and Giles also since I know you'll both want them there." Both younger men nodded. "Goot, we'll figure out how to implement this plan tomorrow." He waved at the door. "Send back in my mates if you see them."

"Nick was talking about eating," Xander said with a grin. "I'm sure he's not done yet." But he and Oz walked out together, arms around the other's waist, side by side.

Derek smiled, watching them go. "I hope this decision works for the both of you," he whispered, smiling more as Nick and Philip stuck their heads around the door. "Get in here, we need to make some plans. We have to be stealthy and concerned but mean and William-like." Nick picked up the ring from in front of the closet, silently handing it over. "They've made their decision and we're going to help them implement it."


"London?" Willow asked. "Why am I being moved there?" She looked at Alex, who shrugged. "Okay, so where's Derek?"

"Out picking up some last minute items for the trip. Said something about study journals and suntan lotion." She smiled kindly. "Don't worry, since the guys will be gone so much, you can probably take the kids with you until they get back. That way we can still see them but I don't have to become the mom when everyone's gone." The younger woman nodded with a small sigh tacked on. "He'll be back soon, I'm sure he'll tell you why. He just wanted me to tell you."

Willow walked out of the room and Alex was very glad Derek wasn't there to see the evil little glint she had in her eye. "I hope you know what you're doing," she told the keyboard, typing in the transfer request.


Derek walked back into the house and was accosted by five crying children. He immediately put down his bags, sitting in the midst of them. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"Not want to leave Daddies," Serena said, hugging him. "We go them?"

He patted her back, and hugged the other children in turn. "We told you about Florida, remember?" They nodded. "Well, they're going there and you're all going to visit Uncle William." Timothy cheered quietly, William Sloan was one of his favorite people. "You guys will like London. Lots of new places to explore and they have horses." He patted Precious' curls, his protégé very upset and still crying. "You'll be back with your fathers before you know it, I promise. Okay?"

They shook their heads and Xandra looked up at the stairs. "Daddy?" she called, running/crawling up them to meet Oz half way. "We go you?" she asked, her face truly pitiful.

He stopped to pick her up, hugging her tightly to his chest. "No, sweetie, where we're going will be too dangerous for you guys to come. But we'll be back every few weeks to see you." He caught Derek's head shake. "You're not sending them to London. Jonathan is here and he'll stay during the weeks we're all gone." He raised an eyebrow. "You'd really move them only to move them back a few months later?"

"It was the only way I saw it to happen. Jonathan has a long vacation scheduled during that time."

"Yeah, but we arranged to be back here then. All but two days of it." He pulled out his pocket calendar, flipping to the dates in question and handed it over as he hit the bottom step. "See? We already worked around that part when we planned our schedule weeks ago. Buffy and Giles have both agreed to sit those two nights."

Derek checked his calendar against the younger man's and nodded. "All right, then they can stay with Jonathan, as long as he agrees."

"He does," floated from down the hall. "We talked about this earlier." The nanny walked out, accepting the pile of smaller bodies into his and waved at the youngest, who was still in her father's arms. "I've seen it same as you have, and it's all good for me." He shrugged. "Do you have another concern?"

"No," Derek said hurriedly, getting up and walking over to him. "I have no problem at all with you watching them while we're gone as long as you don't. I just knew that you weren't going to be here for some of that time." He looked at the kids. "I guess you guys aren't going to London with your mother then." Timothy pouted at him. "I'm sure you'll see him William soon, Tim."

Brandon, the one most like Oz was when he came to the house, came in with his well thought out comment. "Visit?"

Oz grinned at his son. "I'm sure that would be nice to do. We'll arrange for you guys to go terrorize the London House while Mom's over there, how's that?" They all nodded, smiling at him, even the one in his arms. "Okay, so that's settled and we're all packed. Anything else come up?"

Derek and the nanny looked at each other and shook their heads. They looked at him and did it again, in unison. "Not that I've heard," Derek amended. "One never says that everything is going according to plan in this house because something invariably happens." He smiled. "Relax, Oz, I told you it was going to be all right." He patted the younger men on the shoulder as he passed. "I'm going to go get a snack then I'll be in my office. I believe I need a paper proposal..." He stopped as it was handed to him, both of them. "Ah, I see he did do his."

"Yup. Thought he did it a few days ago but he gave me that and told me it was his." He shrugged and looked at the kids. "What are you guys going to do this afternoon?"

"Carnival!" they shouted in unison.


Willow looked at William as he opened the door. "So, why was I exiled here again?" she asked, walking through the door and setting down her bags. "Derek wouldn't tell me."

"As far as I know, it was to learn how to run a house under me while I'm still here." He smiled, patting her shoulder. "Don't worry, dear, your children are in good hands and will be here in a few weeks so you can see them. Just go ahead up to the room you had last time and we'll get you situated later."

She nodded, walking up after the butler.

"Derek, I hope you know what you're doing," he said, heading for his office.


Xander and Oz stepped off the ferry together, holding hands. They looked around at the small island, their breath's held as they took in the mostly untouched beauty. "Wow," the younger man said. "Paradise for real."

"Yup, and we get to share it," Oz said, pulling him in for a kiss.

Derek just watched them with a small smile of satisfaction. Maybe his plan will work this time and everything would be fixed for good.