Screwing the Family Tree.

Derek smiled at the people getting off the helicopter, squeezing his mother's hand gently. "Mother," he said, kissing her cheek. "Goot to have you back. We could use your strength right now." He led her back up to the house. "I know you heard."

"Yes," she said, frowning. "Any word on what happened to the infant?"

"The baby's fine, Mother, and Willow's awoken. This morning actually." He let her into the house, letting her see the four little darlings looking very depressed still after a week without their sister. "As you can see, everything's not well here though."

William cleared his throat and Tim looked up at him, waving listlessly. "What's wrong guys?"

"No talk to sissy today," Precious said. "Not even 'Rena."

"Then we'll just have to go call London," he said, holding out his hands. "Come on, we'll use Derek's office." He took Tim's hand, leading him down the hall, the others following quietly after him, a truly scary sight if you knew these children.

"How have the boys taken it," Barbara asked as she sat down. "I noticed you're the only one that looks remotely alive."

"I have to be," Derek sighed as he sat down. "It's hurt them greatly, mother. Xander's not gotten out of bed in two days, he's made himself sick over this whole thing."

"Thought I heard you," Xander said, stumbling in. He air-kissed her cheek. "Don't want to make you sick too," he said as he sat down. "Kids?"

"With Willy trying to reach London," Barbara told him, taking his hand gently. "Grandson, I'm sure it will all work out for the best. She'll prove how bad she is and you'll get her back. And the infant."

"She spelled the judge," he told her. "She didn't even mention the one she's carrying." He picked at the muffin that was put in front of him. "I'm not hungry," he said, getting up. "I'm going to go do that report. Oz is somewhere outside." He walked out, his shoulders slumped, his whole body screaming about the pain he was in.

"We'll just have to fix this then," she said, picking up the muffin to eat. She smiled at the children as they walked back in. "Your father's up."

Brandon nodded. "Saw him. He tick." He slid up into his chair. "You 'kay?" She nodded. "Good, no want you tick too." He went back to pushing his eggs across the plate.

"She's not there and neither is the baby," William said as he walked back in. He sat down beside Derek. "I talked to them and they said she's out at the zoo."

"Sure she is," Oz said as he walked in. "Where's he at?"

"Control room," Derek said.

"Thanks, gotta go have a fight." He walked out of the kitchen, heading down the hall. He walked in to find his lover bent over the keyboard, squinting at the letters. "Lose something?" he asked quietly as he sat next to him.

"Yeah, piece of the pen I was taking it out on," Xander muttered, picking up the keyboard to turn it over and shake it. He picked up the spring, putting it back into the carcass of the pen. "What's up?"

"That's what I was going to ask you," Oz said, taking his hand to stop the fidgeting. "You're so upset you're sick? I thought that was my thing." He turned his husband to look at him. "I'm not mad about that," he said quietly, "I know why you did it. And I accept the rationale, I just wish you had told me about it first."

"Oz, it was a spur of the moment thing. I really didn't expect her to spell the judge to give her Xandra."

"But the spell was weaker than her will," Oz said. "That's why she only got long visitations."

"And how long do we have to wait before she hurts one of them?"

"Not long," he said. He looked at the screen. "Xander, no one wanted to tell you, but she was hospitalized a few days ago. A broken bottle of liquor beside someone's bed, and Xandra at the house still." The younger man blanched. "Everyone asked their Gods to protect those two."

"She okay?"

"Yeah, she's fine. So's the baby, which I still don't know the gender of." He brushed through the dark hair. "I want you to go back to bed, love, I need you well. I really do." Xander shook his head. "Yes, I do."

"No, I need to talk to her."

"William said they were at the zoo."

"Oz, she's always early, and I know she'll be early this time too." He looked toward the screen. "It'll be today. It's about the same time that she delivered with the others." His mate shook his head. "Yeah, it was. If you count, she carried Xandra almost as long as she did the quad. Two weeks more actually. She'll be dropping it anytime now."

"And Alex is there, Xan, she'll protect them too." He saw the small protest starting in the dark eyes but the younger man shook his head, getting up. "Go shower at least," he whispered, catching his hand, linking their rings. "For me?"

"For you, anything," Xander said with a small kiss to his forehead as he let his mate's hand go.

"Good, then go eat something after your shower," Oz told him with a small smile. "You need to. You didn't keep down supper."

"I'll try," Xander promised, walking out. He walked up to the living quarters, stopping in front of Rupert Giles' door, knocking gently. The older man opened it, looking at him. "You really want to help me do that?"

"Yes, Xander, I do. I think that a plea from you would be powerful enough to heal you both." He let him in, closing the door behind them. He watched the younger man sit at his desk. "Your own energies have been building up as this whole thing went on, and you need to release it. And I know your children could use the healing energy right about now. We've all seen how badly this hurt them. I think a dedicated plea would help you all, if done right." He sat down on this bed, facing the younger man. "I know we all worked a protection for the children already but I also know that you'll add a small one for Willow, to help her heal as well, and I believe that's what we all need. To heal."

Derek knocked on the door and walked in. "Rupert," he said, shutting the door. "That isn't the answer."

"Maybe it is," Xander said, looking up. "Derek, she was my best friend for my entire life. I love her like a sister, now, and she needs help. If this is the only way, then I need to do it. And everyone else that might has way corrupted feelings."

"And so do you," Derek said, getting down in front of him to meet his eyes directly. "Your anger at her will hurt her as much as ours would."

"I don't hate her, dad, just what she's become. For whatever reason." He shuddered. "I still think there's something in her or something making her do this. I don't think Willow is capable of this level of bad."

"And you may be right," Derek told him gently, "but you're not in shape to do this." He looked at Rupert. "Do you really think he could handle this?"

"I think he's the only one who might be able to. I'd do the casting of course, but the plea would be his. The sentiment and the emotion would have to be his."

"So be it," Derek said, standing up. "I'll do what I can to help. Just do it soon. We all know she's about due."

"Today probably if she follows the pattern," Xander muttered. "Tonight?"

"Is your childrens' birthday party," Derek reminded him. "Go get ready, we'll do it tomorrow."

"Tomorrow, Oz changes, Derek and I won't do it behind his back." He frowned at his father. "I refuse to keep this sort of secret from him."

"Gee, then you could start by telling him what's going on," the man in question said from the doorway. He walked in, slamming the door shut behind him. "Before he throws a major fit here."

"I felt something last week when Willow hit me," Xander said quietly. "That's why Derek and Giles came in. Something's wrong with her." He looked into his husband's eyes. "Something not booze."

"And you're going to do what?" Oz asked, walking in to look at him directly. "You don't do the spell thing."

"No, I don't, but Giles does. And he agreed with me. He thinks we can heal her. Make her normal." He grabbed his husband as he tried to turn away from him. "I don't want her back, Oz, I only want you, but I do want my friend back. I wouldn't wish what she's become on anyone."

"So, you're going to try to heal her," Oz said calmly. "Do you know how dangerous this can be to you? You saw what the power did when she lost control, something you don't even understand the concept of."

"Oz, I know more than you think I do," Xander said coolly. "A lot more. I have read, and while I don't practice, I do understand the principles behind it." He let his husband go, moving away from him. "It'll take me a little while tonight. After the party." He looked at Giles. "Yes?"

"Fine," he said, nodding. "As a matter of fact, the later the better possibly, as we might catch her more vulnerable early in their morning." He looked at Oz. "I asked him not to tell you until I could do some research. Both of you actually. But he refused to do this behind your back, Oz, and so do I." Giles stood up. "Hiding it will take his focus from what needs to be done."

"Whatever," Oz said, walking out.

Xander followed, watching his back disappear down the stairs, not following for once. "Just see it my way," he whispered, heading up to his room.


Derek watched the two dark forms walk across the garden, holding himself in his chair. He hadn't been asked to help so he wouldn't go to them. He looked at the door as someone entered, frowning at Oz. "Not going with them?"

"I can't help. I can't be that nice to her." He sat down across from the older man. "Why does he love her that much?"

"Those two share a deeper friendship than most. It's almost sibling-like at times really." He turned to look at the younger man fully. "He doesn't want her back, Oz, never. And he'll never go back to her."

"Then why is he helping her?"

"Because it's his job, or so he feels. He feels like there's some responsibility there to protect her as he did when they were children. No matter how evil she becomes toward him or others."

"Even if he's right and she's the reason Precious manifested so early?" Derek nodded. "And do I stand behind him?"

"Only you can decide that."

Xander laid the plea he'd written out into the fire, sighing as it caught. "Goddess," he said quietly. "I'm not one of yours, and may never be, but she is and she needs you now. She needs to be healed so she can heal herself and the traumas she has caused in all of us. We all need to heal from what she's done to us." He looked up as someone walked up to them, smiling faintly at Oz. "As I proclaimed her to be my sister at one time in our lives, so I ask now to join us in that manner. May my sister heal so she is again whole and right. May we all heal from her wrongs. May the children be protected, and the lovers healed." He felt the strong arms come around him, so familiar even from their short absence. "May we all be healed by your generous spirit and will."

He bowed his head, closing his eyes, and silently turned to lean against his husband's shoulder. "I had to do it," he whispered. Oz nodded, sitting them both down while Giles finished casting.


Oz helped Xander into their bed, covering him gently with a small kiss to his forehead. "I'll be back," he whispered, watching his husband move toward his voice. He stepped away from the bed and watched him sleep, his chest hurting with the conflict he felt. He looked up as the door opened, Brandon walking in. "Hey," he said, picking him up to hug him. "What's up?"

"Dada tick?" he asked, looking over his shoulder.

"No, just sleepy now. Shouldn't you be in bed?" The little boy nodded. "Then why aren't you?"

"'Cause." He looked at the bed. "Love him," he said, wiggling to get down. Oz let him down and watched as he walked over to pat the limp hand. "Love you, Dada," Brandon said quietly, giving him a gentle kiss to the hand. Then he walked out, closing the door behind him.

And Oz suddenly knew what was wrong. He lay down beside his mate, kissing his lips as gently as his son had. "I love you too," he whispered, "no matter what you do. No matter how much you protect her. I'm here, forever." And his mate rolled against his body, snuggling hard, just like usual, except for the last week. Oz just held him as tightly as he could, gently rocking them back and forth as he let his emotions out about all this, letting the still body soothe him as only Xander could.


Serena answered the phone, as usual, and smiled. "Xandra!" She sat down in the chair beside the small table in the hall, listening to her sister talk. Really? Baby 'tay?" She smiled at Dominic, bouncing her feet off the legs of the chair, something he had told her not to do but that she liked anyway. "Really?" She nodded and giggled. "'Tay, me tell them." She hung up. "Auntie Alex say hi," she said, heading for the office and where Grandpa was. "Granpa!" she yelled, running through the door. "Xandra call me." She climbed up into his lap, waving at the people on the screen. "Hi peoplies." She looked up at Granpa. "Xandra call me."

Derek smiled at the screen. "Give me a second please," he said, turning back to her. "What did she say? Is everything all right?"

"Yup, Mommy fine and baby's cocoa-looking." His mouth fell open. "You 'tay? Baby fine," she said, patting his hand. "Oh, and Auntie Alex say hi." She nodded, sliding down. "Me tell daddies?"

"Yes," Derek said, distracted, "go ahead and tell them. I think they're upstairs getting ready to go out for a day off." He looked back at the screen, seeing one of Alex now too. "She's fine?"

"Mostly. Labor was a little rough this time." Alex smiled. "Later, Derek, alone."

He nodded. "Then lets get back to the yearly budget, shall we?"

Serena ran into her daddies' room, remembering to knock when she saw them cuddled together. "Hi," she said, crawling in with them, between them actually. "Me talk to Xandra." Daddy stopped kissing Dada and looked at her. "Baby cocoa baby," she said with a nod. "But baby 'tay and Auntie Alex say hi. Oh, and Xandra say to huggie and kissie both of you." So she did. Then she snuggled down between them.

"Well, the reports were right," Oz said quietly, looking at his husband. "Want to try again?"

"The appeal was filed already. We have a date in the morning." He looked down, stroking through the baby's hair. "What else did she say, Serena?"

"Mommy 'tay, she in ho'pital. Baby home now. Auntie Alex cuddle her all the time. Both of them."

"Is the baby a girl?"

"No, baby boy."

Oz smiled gently. "A little boy?" She nodded. "Thank you. And what else was there?"

"Oh, baby born during big, huge storm. Like bad one. Lots of lights go out." That made her daddies frown. "But he 'tay and so's Mommy," she said, patting their joined hands. "And baby have name. He's ..." her face scrunched up. "I not remember," she said, pouting. "Have to call her again."

"Sure we will," Xander said quietly, running his fingers through her hair. "Later we will." She nodded, giving them one last hug before climbing down. "Why don't you go tell Grandma? I'm sure she and Uncle William are outside wandering to get away from Timmy."

"'Tay," she said happily, bouncing a few times. "Me drag Bran with me. He wanted to see her." She nodded and left.

Oz rolled back into his husband's side, snuggling in as hard as he could. "Don't know if I'm up to a talented little boy or not," he said.

"Hey, we'll deal. Derek and Giles will help train him. Wonder what she named him?"

"She always said she wanted one named after Derek so maybe..." He looked up at the cleared throat from the door. "Hey, Derek, what's up? Serena find you?"

"Yes, and apparently she gave you more information than she did me," he said, sitting down in the chair he pulled over form the table. "A little boy?" They nodded. "What else was there?"

"She said he was born in a large storm, lots of lights, which is lightening. We were thinking that he was the cause of it."

"He may well have been. Alex can't get the phone system there working again full time yet." He rubbed over his brow. "What else was there?"

"That the baby was home but she was still in the hospital so Alex was caring for both the kids," Xander said. "That Willow was fine and that the baby was, indeed, bi-racial. And that he was fine. That's all we got. I'm thinking Xandra called and she answered it." The older man nodded. "So, the tapes catch anything else?"

"Yes, some static. Actually, it appears to be some sort of interference." He stood back up. "Weren't you two going out today to look at cars again?"

"Yeah," Xander said, nodding. "But I wanted to cuddle for a few minutes. We need some cuddle time."

"Well, you'll have those three days next week in Florida," he reminded them. "And hopefully, the appeal will be over by then." He returned the chair to the table before walking out.

Timothy crawled out from under his daddies' bed and popped up beside them. "'Prise!" They both jumped and he laughed. "Got you!"

"So we can see," Nick said from the doorway. "Won't keep me from taking you to the doctor's though." The baby tried to pout him away. "No, come on," he said, walking in to pick him up. "No shots today, I promise."

"Thanks, bro," Xander said.

"It was a boy," Oz told him.

Nick shook his head. "Healthy?"

"From what Xandra said, yeah. She and Serena talked." That made the older man smile. "A little boy, and they're calling him the cocoa baby so that's who you'll probably hear about all the way there."

"Hey, hold on, thought you two were coming in with me so I could drop you off at car places."

"Could," Xander said, looking at Oz, who nodded so they got out of the bed. "Thanks, bro."

"Hey, understandable." He ruffled Oz's hair, grinning madly. "Maybe you two ought to get haircuts while you're out."

"Could," Oz told him, running his fingers through his husband's growing hair. "Don't like you with long hair." He grabbed their wallets, handing them over, then took his mate's hand, following Nick down the stairs.


"Ooh, the S series," Xander purred, running his hand down the sloping hood of the car. "What about these, Oz?" he called, turning around to find him right behind him. "I thought you were looking over there."

"I was, but it's a bunch of old guy cars." He looked at the interior, seeing the real wood dashboard and cockpit seats. "Like your old one," he said, opening the door to slide in. "Comfy. Just like your two-seater."

The salesman cleared his throat. "May I help you?" he asked.

Xander pulled out his wallet, showing off a picture of his old car, very aware that what he was wearing was bad looking in this upscale a place. "I need something to replace my poor car," he said, putting the wallet back. "It has to say power, animalistic power, and it has to be understated." He wrapped an arm around Oz's waist as he got out of the Jaguar.

"Well, this series is very good for that," he admitted. "Very good power under the hood. Very nice all around statement. It's meant for the younger generation, such as yourselves." He smiled at them. "May I ask, was your last one used?"

"Slightly," Oz said. "Two years old when we got it. But my brother-in-law crashed it a few months back."

"Ah, I had heard about that one. A fine car it was too," he smiled gently. "I knew the former owner. He moved onto a bigger model also. May I ask if you have children? I seem to remember one being in there?"

"Actually, we have six," Oz sighed, "but we have a van for them. We need a car for us. One that says us." He smiled, giving his best feral smile as he looked up at his mate. "Don't we, Xan?"

"Yup, a big, animal purring car just for our pleasure," he said, stealing a quick kiss. He looked back at the salesman. "We're in the middle of a custody battle right now but we'd be willing to start the paperwork today. We both have good incomes."

"Very well, let's get started," the man said, smiling happily as he waved them toward the office. "With any luck, we have what you want here so you don't have to wait."


"I didn't know the fondness for British cars was inherited," Nick joked as he walked out to meet the boys and their new car. Their black Jaguar S-series V-8 sedan actually. He popped into the back seat and sighed as he felt the dark forest green leather mold around his body. "So nice," he purred. "Can I drive it? Even though it isn't as dangerous looking as your last one."

"Promise not to miss any more puppies," Xander said, looking in the rear view mirror. He opened up the door when he heard the knock, letting Brandon up into his lap. "Hey, you, how do you like it?"

"Shiny and dang'rous," he said, nodding. "Good." He smiled up at them. "Love you both," he told them.

"Well, we love you too," Oz said, leaning down to kiss his forehead, until someone knocked on his window that was. But he flipped them off, pulling the baby over to cuddle.

Derek smiled at Buffy as he walked around her, bending down beside Nick to look inside. "Very nice," he said. He looked at his son as he got out to lean on the roof. "Goot deal?"

"New, so little dealing involved. Took one there, can put the cd changer in from my old one since it was salvageable." He shrugged. "Not too bad though."

Nick climbed out, letting Buffy slide in in his place, grinning at her sigh of comfort. "So, how bad are the payments?"

Oz winced as he got out, letting Derek hold Brandon. "Don't ask. Tolerable but a little bit more than the last one would have been."

"But I didn't like that last one we looked at," Xander nearly-whined, "it was one of those old guy with chauffeur cars." He looked up at Derek's snort. "No offense, dad."

"Me drive?" Brandon asked, hopping up and down once he was put down by Grandpa. "Me drive?"

"No, you can't drive it until you're older. That is, if Uncle Nick leaves this one alive." Oz looked innocently at the man in question after Nick hit his shoulder. "What? He can."

Nick walked back into the house, shutting the door behind him, shaking his head the whole way.

Xander tossed the keys to Derek, getting out of his and Rupert's way. "I'll be nice, you guys can put the next mile on it." He watched as they pulled off down the driveway, Buffy refusing to get out of the back. He leaned against his mate, watching them go. "You know, the leather seats were a luxury."

"Not really."

"And so was the mega security system."

"Not in this city."

"And it probably gets atrocious gas mileage."

"You're worrying again," Oz told him, turning around to kiss him hard. "Now quit that or I'm going to have to make someone pay it off for your birthday." He turned, following his son inside. "Have we gotten a link to London going yet?" he asked Brandon.

"Yup, talk to baby already. He pretty." He pulled his father to the 'working room', the control room, and walked in with him, sitting in his lap as he they watched William talk to his house.

"No, I want to know the extent of the damage and..." He groaned. "Just put Alex on, Winthrop. Now, please."

"Temper, Willy," Barbara warned quietly from the corner. "You'll set a bad example for the young ones." She smiled at Brandon. "You're not Timothy are you?" He shook his head. "Didn't think so. Would you like to come sit with me instead?" Brandon nodded and slid off his father's lap to walk over to her and climb up her. "My, you're agile, aren't you?"

"Yes, we need to get them a playground here so they can stay home more," Oz told her, wiggling his fingers at his son. Until someone cleared their throat that is. He turned, looking up at the woman on the screen and the two children that were in her lap. "Oh, hey, Xandra," he said with a bright smile. "Are you okay? I heard there was a storm."

"Yup, me fine," she said, patting the little bundle of baby. "Cocoa baby 'tay too."

Alex rolled her eyes. "He has a name and I wish you would quit calling him that."

"But he looks like cocoa. The really good kind that daddies and Unclie Dominic makes." She pouted. "No call him that?"

"No, sweetie, call him by his name." She turned back to the screen. "Which, by chance, happens to be Derek William Rosenberg." Derek and William both groaned, the one just having walked in. "Well, we have a link working but I was told that if I turned it off, we may never get it back."

Xander walked in and stopped, grinning madly at his children. "Hey guys," he said, waving at his daughter. "Who's that beside you?"

"Derek," Xandra said, patting his foot again, making him fuss. "He fussy today," she said softer, leaning closer to the camera.

"Well, at that age so were you," Oz told her. "That's a normal baby thing." He smiled up at his mate. "The other baby put away safely?"

"Yup, let Giles drive it into the garage and everything." Xander turned to look up at the screen again. "We got a new car too, so we'll come pick you up at the airport and drive you home in it."

'Tay," she said. Then she pouted. "Nick said we fly though."

"Okay, you can fly then," Oz told her, "we'll drive you around once you're back." She nodded, starting to suck her thumb. "Tired?"

"Noise keep me 'wake."

"Then maybe you should take a nap?" Grandpa suggested.

"Me no nap," she said, glaring at him. "He nap, me no need nap." She started to pout, adding just a hint of lip quivering.

"Okay. So go lay on the couch and watch tv," Oz suggested. "Put the baby in a car seat or something so you can explain it to him."

"Sesame Stweet?"

"Hey," Alex said, "if you can find it on, you can watch it." She handed the baby off to someone off camera. "Okay, guys, now that we're alone. Brandon, why don't you go tell Serena about the baby?" He nodded, sliding down and leaving them alone. "And now that we're truly alone," she started again, "got to tell you something. She disappeared from the hospital. Walked right out. No discharge orders, no funny stuff, just her. And no one saw her."

Derek frowned. "Isn't that unusual?"

"Oh, yeah. Especially on a ward system like they have over here. They said one minute she was in her bed and the next, she wasn't. And," she paused to take a sip of water. "Rachel's over here. Since we finally found Kat, she's been getting strange messages from somewhere near Stonehenge, with warnings about her mother and this child."

"You sure it's this one?" William asked, starting to frown.

"Watcher's village perhaps," Giles suggested at the same time.

"Warnings?" Derek asked over top of them.

"I'm sending them, guys, but to answer the questions. If not this child then one born really soon in this house. One who's bi-racial, or as the messages said, a child split between two destinies."

"That may be goot though," Derek said thoughtfully. "That may mean that he has a destiny to choose, only two paths."

"Yes, but that'll make his training harder," Giles noted. "With just one clear one, you never have to worry about which path."

"So you treat him like a normal kid, you do the best you can, and you hope, like every parent," Xander said calmly. "No big." Everyone frowned at him. "Oh, get over it. It's a baby, harmless. The only way someone could hurt us through him would be to use his powers, if he has any."

"Or to try to take him from us," Oz amended. His husband nodded, looking down at him. "Which we won't let happen with any of them." He turned back to the screen, the comforting hand held tightly in his. "What else was in there?"

"Well, for one thing, yes, the warning came from the same village that the Watcher's Council used to live in, from one of the families as far as we could tell without the records. But someone there recognized Kat." She shuddered. "That's actually where William sent her and the family she was staying with was not the most pleasant of people."

"They were there to give her guidance, not to baby her," William told her. "She had the rest of us as a family, they were simply teachers."

"Railroading children so they can't make a choice is as harmful to them as giving them too much freedom," Alex rejoined.

"Enough," Derek said tiredly, "what else was there, Alex?"

"That storm was a magic based one. Centered around where he was born. Xandra was right about that much." She bit her lip, looking at the door. "What?" Someone said something quietly off screen. "You sure?" Then she nodded, turning back to them. "Okay, small update. Willow's reappeared, fine, perfectly healthy, and knowing everything that happened, but she's different now. No more harsh Willow. The girl that came into the house is back."

And the link went dead in a hail of static.

"Damn, get that back," Derek said, looking over Nick's shoulder as he worked. The link returned but Alex wasn't there. So he picked up the phone, calling, listening to the one on the other end ring. There was no answer, not even after thirty rings.

Nick looked up at his boss. "Want me to call someone? Paris can be there in under an hour."

"Call," William and Derek said together..

"Scary," Barbara noted from her corner.

Xander looked up at his father. "What do you want us to do?"

"Hold tight while we find out, and keep the link open," Derek said, walking out of the room.


Derek frowned at the man on the screen. "What do you mean Alex and the children were the only three people in the house? Where's Willow and everyone else?" The man on the other side shrugged. "That isn't goot enough, I want answers." And he hung up on him, turning to look at the person walking through the door. "William, you're heading home. No one's there but Alex."

"I'll send her back with the kids," he promised, handing over something. "From your mother and I, son," saying the last word with a small smile. Until the knife embedded itself in the desk next to his hand. "Now, now, Derek, let's not get testy over this." He pushed the envelope further across the desk. "Just accept it, and get on with life." He turned, walking out. "I'm leaving now," short pause, "boss."

"That man will be the death of me yet," Derek muttered, opening the envelope to look at the contents. "MOTHER!"


Alex smiled hopefully as the Custom's official at Heathrow Airport read the custody award letter, bouncing the fussy baby to quiet him. "Shh, Junior," she said, kissing his forehead. "You're going to your dads and all's going to be okay."

The woman nodded, handing it back. "Congratulations." She took the baby so Alex could put her bags up on the counter, helping Xandra with hers. "Why'd you come all the way over here for him though?"

"Oh, well, his mother is a friend of mine, a co-worker actually, and when we found out she was pregnant and that the child would be bi-racial, my boyfriend and I jumped at the chance. But then she got transferred over here." She shrugged. "I love the little guy but he's had a few rough days so far." She looked down at Xandra and smiled. "Huh, princess?"

"Yup, bad days. Big stormy when he was borned and everything." She opened up her little bag. "Me buy stuff for sissies and brothers. That 'tay?" The man checking them nodded, smiling at her. "I glad." She took back her little carry-on and her wheeled suitcase Auntie Alex had bought her. "We go home now?"

"Yup, after a really long plane ride, Xandra. Then you can see daddies and brothers and sisters again." She patted the top of the dark hair. Then she took the baby back, and her bags, and they walked out to the Legacy jet that William was getting off of. "All yours," she sighed, handing him the keys to the car she had brought over. "Have fun."

"How're you getting them home?" he asked.

"I told the judge I'm a Godmother and mom's disappeared again. Had to give her the old custody agreement from the boys and mentioned that it was up for review because of the mother's problems. She said she wanted me to adopt him, mostly because she wasn't sure the boys could. So Derek and I adopted him." She smiled sweetly. "I'll tell him at the airport."

William laughed, shaking his head as he walked away. "Better you than me, Alex," he called back. "Hello," he told the Custom's officials cheerfully, pulling out his passport.


Derek smiled at Alex, taking the baby from her hands as she exited Customs. "Oh, what a goot boy, yes we are," he said, opening the blanket to look down at him. "Do we know who his father was?"

"Nope," Alex said, handing Xandra over to the parents, pulling Derek aside. "The judge over there wouldn't give Oz custody. Said it was too much of a stretch. But she let me adopt him instead."

"Um, repeat that please?" Oz said, looking at her.

"I'm sorry guys, but with the former custody agreement, she said that there wasn't any real way she could give custody to you. So I adopted the baby instead and he'll be yours. No matter what, he's yours." They nodded slowly. "But, I had to tell a small fib." She looked at Derek. "And I know we're going to get caught eventually."

"What?" he asked, dreading the answer. "What did you do, Alex," she said when she winced.

"They only allow married couples to adopt," she said quietly, backing away from him. Right into his son, who steadied her before she could fall.

"Well, it's certainly an interesting approach," Xander said calmly. "So, step-mom, now what?"

Derek frowned, handing over the baby, pulling Alex aside so they could talk more privately. "Why did you do that? You had to know that was impossible."

"Not really. And it was the only way. They were going to put him into an orphanage." She looked down at the baby pulling on her hand. "Yes, Xandra?"

"Me throw flowers?"

"Sure you can, if we have an occasion to do that," she told her. "Now go tell your dads all about the baby." She waited until they were alone. "It was a desperate plea, Derek and I had to do it. Now, you can either follow suit or fold here, in which case the judge made it very plain that he was going to go back until Willow was found and then he was going to be handed over.

"Then I suggest we do something before that happens," Xander said, wrapping an arm around each of their waists. "Dad, Mom, get over it. Desperate times and all that stuff. You can always have it annulled. Eventually." He stepped back at the glare from his father. "What? I'd rather have him than not and this is the only way to do that it seems. If possible, we'll look into adopting him from her and then you can fix your thing back." He shrugged, walking back over to where Oz was standing, looking down at their son. "He okay?"

"Yup, just watching him sleep." He handed him over, pulling the blanket back more so they could both look. "What do you think his daddy was?"

"I think he's the gorgeous redhead that loves me dearly and anybody else with such a small claim as mere genetics can get their own." He looked down. "But if I had to guess, I'd say some Indian and some Hispanic, with some African-American thrown in."

"That's what the doctor said too," Alex said, walking back over. "You guys okay with that plan?" They both nodded. "Okay, we'll wait the six months for the divorce to be final and then see if we can't switch him over. But I'm making one thing clear here, he's yours. Your son, end of story. I am Auntie Alex and will stay that way."

Oz smiled at her, patting her hand. "I understand. I felt the same way when she first told me she was pregnant with the quad." He looked down at his daughter. "Ready to fly home?"

"We drive then?"

"After dinner. We'll take you out to see the sunset from the beach." She cheered, running over to where Uncle Nick was walking up to them.

"Wondered what was taking you guys so long," he complained. He looked down at the baby. "Cute, what's his name again? Junior?"

"That's what I've been calling him," Alex said, dodging Derek's swat. "Well, he is. And he makes the same disgusted faces that you did at the formula."

"We'll figure the rest out later," Derek told her, holding Nick back. "We all need to sit down and talk tonight. Before supper." They both nodded so he let them go ahead. "Why me?" he asked silently.


Philip spit his tea across the living room, onto Nick actually. "What?" He looked at Alex. "That was low."

"Hey, no other choice," Buffy said. "We wanted him safe, both of them safe, and that was the *only* way. Trust me, Alex is one sneaky lady, she woulda thought up something else if she could have." She looked up at her from her position on the floor with Xander and Junior. "Right?"

"Oh, yeah," Alex said, nodding frantically. "I'm not too thrilled by this plan either but it had to happen this way. It was the only way the judge would allow." She looked at Philip. "I'm sorry, but it really was the only way. He was going to be placed in an orphanage instead. And I knew we all would have hated that."

Xander nodded. "Yup." He tickled his son's stomach again. "Right, Junior? You're much happier here, even though your family tree is kinda messed up." He looked up at Philip. "It's an act, it's not like she's going to be taking your place."

"Socially maybe," Derek said, "but no one's thought that he and I were together for a while now." He smiled faintly at his lover. "This thrills me no more that it does you, Philip. I've thought of Alex as a daughter for a long time now. But if we have to do it to keep the child, then we must."

"And I talked with our lawyer," Oz said, coming in and sitting down beside Derek. "It's mostly bad. I faxed over the judgement Alex got and he said we can't adopt but that they can wait two years and divorce or annul, either way. He did say he was faxing over a pre-nup so you could fully do the whole act thing, and that he would file the judgement as soon as it was done."

Philip sighed. "If ya have ta, then do it. As long as the other things don't change between ya."

"Oh, no," Alex said, shaking her head. "Have no fear of that. I'm not even *thinking* about taking your place, Philip. You make him happy in a way that no one else can. No one will ever take your place in his life." He smiled. "Now that that's settled, how are we going to do this?"

"Group vacation?" Oz suggested.

"We have to be in Florida in two days," Derek reminded them.

"Vegas," Nick said, shifting away from Barbara. "Some people have proved it works."

Derek's mother smiled sweetly at him. "Yes dear, and some people proved they overreact."

"Hey, he had me kick in the door. Wasn't my idea."

"Tell me you didn't," Buffy said with a small laugh. Nick nodded so she broke out in giggles, rolling around, eventually landing on Xander's back.

"Hey, get your own," Oz said, pushing her off his man. "I'm highly possessive."

Buffy smiled up at him. "Good, he needs you to be." She patted Xander's back gently. "You're good for him so I won't object."

Xander growled as her hand came back. "Buffy, hands off the merch. I'm taken. So very taken I'm going to get it tattooed on me again." He flipped her over, looking down at her. "Besides, you couldn't handle the Xander experience." Then he licked the tip of her nose, making Oz growl. So he looked up at him. "So, hon, what say we find her someone interesting? Maybe some big stud-like person to curl up against?"

"Xander!" the whole house shouted, rolling their eyes. All except Oz, who nodded smiling down at her.

"Jonathan, pack the kids up, we're going to Vegas for two days," Oz yelled.

"Man, just when I was getting them all to bed too," the nanny complained from the hallway. He looked in on them. "Why we going to Sin City?"

"Alex and Derek have to get married so Junior's legit," Xander said, holding him up from where he was now resting on his stomach. "Say hi to Jonathan, he's going to help us take care of you, yes he is." He waved the baby's arm for him. "And besides, I want to take a vacation with my family this time, you know, do the normal people thing?"

"None in your family?" Nick asked.

"Nope, not us. My vacation was running away to camp at Willow's." He handed the baby off to Buffy so he could sit up. "Someone should tell Giles though."

"Um, guys, ewww," Buffy said, handing the baby back. "I don't even want to guess what that smell is."

"Biological functions," Oz said, taking him. "My turn." He walked out of the room.

"Like I'm going to argue," Xander said quietly.

"I heard that."

"Sorry love."

"Derek, don't ever do that to Philip, it's disgusting," Alex said. "Only honeymooning guys like those two can pull it off." She smiled at the kiss to her cheek. "So, what should I pack?"

"I'll help," Buffy said, standing up. "Or really, we can help each other. Should we bring formal type stuff?" Derek shrugged. "Okay, I'd say that's a yes, in case." They walked out, talking quietly but Buffy had to get the last word, yelling it over her shoulder. "Thanks for taking us to Vegas, Derek. It's really nice how you sponsor all of us." Then she ran up the stairs after Alex.

"Women," Derek muttered, hiding his head in Nick's shoulder since he had moved closer. "Why do I have to keep getting involved with *women*?"

"Because it's the way nature made you," Nick soothed. "That's what bisexual means. And we know Alex won't turn you totally het." He screeched as he was tickled by Philip, who sat on his lap to kiss him.

"Quiet, tease. Or pay the penalty." He tickled him more, holding him still with a little help from Derek.

Barbara just smiled as she got up, shaking her head as she walked out to go gather her things too.

To be continued....