Ray smiled at the man meeting him and little Benny at the door. "I'm sorry I came at such a lousy time," he said as he shook Xander's hand.
"Hey, no big. You were really helpful. The kids'll miss you though. They haven't been that spoiled in a few months."
"Yeah, I kinda enjoyed luggin' the little creatures around." Ray grinned, gathering his things to him again. "Doin' it made sure I'm never havin' any more."
Xander leaned closer. "I said the same thing," he stage-whispered, "and so did Oz." They shared naughty smiles as he went back to his leaning against the newel post. "Is Adam driving you or are you using the airport shuttle?"
"Nah, I'm being brought down to the ferry then I'm catchin' a cab." He shifted the infant carrier to his other hand. "Write, will ya?"
"Of course. Remember, we're here when you need us." He walked Ray out to the steps, watching as he slid into Nick's car. "Gee, hope Nick knows," he muttered, waving at the car backed away.
Nick walked out and grabbed his brother by the neck, squeezing gently. "Hey! That's my car," he said when he noticed it. Adam waved from inside as he pulled away so he focused on Xander, who was grinning at him. "What?"
"You can call London since you're out of bed." He ducked out of the hold, walking back inside. "I'm going to talk to Jon. Have fun." He jogged up the stairs.
"Oh, yeah," Nick said dryly as he headed for the office. He sat down in the chair behind the desk and dialed the teleprompter. The London Precept appeared on the screen. "You asked us to call?"
"In the shower."
"I meant the younger one," he said with a smirk.
"Uh-huh. Xander's talking with the nanny about Willow."
"She's back?" he asked harshly. "Rayne, the older one, let that happen?"
"She and Philip fought over who would guard the Hellmouth. Her soul went with him," Nick said, trying to keep his voice and expression neutral but his face showed the pain he felt. "She's in the guest house. We're not letting her into the house."
"What about the kids?" the London Precept asked, leaning back in his chair.
"One wants to see her, two cry when her name's mentioned. The rest are blissfully unaware of her still." Nick looked away from the camera as Derek walked in. "London," he said, standing up to let his boss have his seat.
"Goot morning, Tyler," Derek said softly. "Is there a problem?"
The London Precept shook his head. "Just checking on the younger Rayne." Derek frowned at him so he smiled sweetly. "I was talking about Xander, not the one you adopted. How is little Derek William anyway?"
"He's got colic," Derek said, relaxing. "Why are you checking on Xander? Was there a problem?"
"No, not at all," Tyler said, his smile turning bright. "It was decided I'd look over his shoulder this time. He's got the makings of a great Precept."
"He and Oz will get this house eventually; they're much better together than Xander is alone." He shifted. "How are things in the other houses? William told me the research-house in Beirut was having problems."
"It's been settled. They disbanded due to radical views and rebel involvement. The three good members are going to Paris or Montreal depending on their ability to get into France."
Derek nodded, thinking. "A reasonable plan, as long as we're sure they won't be putting forward a radical viewpoint."
"They'll be watched. Your son suggested they get the same in-depth psychological reviews they would if they had been survivors of a lost house."
"Hmm." Derek sat back up and smiled. "That's a goot idea. I would also have them watched and evaluated more frequently."
Tyler nodded. "You and your son are very alike. Though he went farther and suggested that their new Precepts make them proteges and chain them to their sides, as he put it." He smiled. "You chose the right man to be your son, Derek." He waved and signed off.
"Then I'll gladly retire," Derek said cheerfully. "I'll spend my first month on a very quiet tropical island." He stood up. "Where is he anyway?"
"Wonder Boy's talking to Jon about Willow." Nick stood up, stretching. "I'm going to kill Adam for taking my car." He stopped to look at his boss and best friend. "I told him about Willow. He wasn't happy."
"He'll have to deal with it. William invited her back." Derek walked out of the office, heading up the stairs.
Xander walked into the nursery, giving the nanny a grim smile. "Where's the little people?"
"Sleeping in your bed," Jon said softly, handing over the infant he was feeding. "Junior's finally settled down."
"Good. The little guy needed some sleep." Xander sat in one of the bean bag chairs. "He misses Oz too," he said as he looked down to watch his son sleep.
"Probably." Jon shifted so he was sitting on the floor. "Have you figured out what we're doing about her?"
"Nope," Xander said simply.
"Okay, easy question then. Has Alex said she wanted to see them?"
"I only ran into Alex once and she just gave me this embarrassed look. I'm guessing Willow did something." He looked up as Derek walked in. "Hey, dad, got an opinion on the Willow thing?"
"Just that I wish the guest house was farther away. Lebanon comes to mind as a goot place for it." He sat in the rocking chair, patting Jon on the top of the head since he was now right behind him. "I've heard goot things about your rule. The London Precept was almost gushing over your abilities to fill in."
Xander shook his head. "I'm not taking Oz's job, dad." He handed over Junior, who was starting to fuss. "I guess I'd like to know if she wanted to see them, but I'm not sure I want them exposed to her."
"Especially without her soul," Jon added thoughtfully. "I'd be willing to referee if she agreed to be a decent human again."
"I don't think anyone is suggesting that she be left alone with the children," Derek said calmly, "but I don't think it should be only your task, Jon. Xander and I both have some things that need to be said to her."
"No I don't," Xander retorted. "I don't want to see, talk, or hear from her. Just because I didn't protest about her being brought back here doesn't mean I want her here." He stood up. "I'm going to check on the kids." He left the nursery for his room, which was just down the hall.
Jon looked at Derek. "This is really hard for him, especially since Oz isn't here." He took Junior back. "I'll go with them if she wants to see them."
"As will I," Derek reminded him. "I want to have some words with her." He stood up also. "I'll be looking over things in the office if you need me." He left the nursery.
Jon looked down at the infant he was holding, admiring the caramel color that his skin had aged into. "It'll all be okay, Junior, I promise." He hugged the baby to his chest, rocking him slowly as he started to fuss again.
Willow looked up and smiled as Derek walked in, taking her feet off the couch. "How's the house?" she asked cheerfully.
"Fine," he muttered as he sat across from her. "What did you need?" She blinked. "You called me," he reminded.
"I was looking at your aura," she said softly. "I really only need two things, a soul restoration spell worked on me and to see my kids."
He shook his head. "You know we won't let you harm them by word or deed. Neither Xander nor I want you to have continued contact with them, and I doubt Oz would if he were here."
"Derek, we both know none of those children are Xander's," she said with a smirk. "He has no legal say in the matter."
Alex walked into the room, glaring at the woman she was watching. "He and Oz have full legal custody and rights. They both adopted Xandra, and Derek and I have official custody of Junior. Xander also has the paperwork for the quad if something happens." She sat next to Derek. "You don't even have the right to request visitation according to the amended palimony agreement." She sneered. "Not that your children want to see you."
Derek laid a hand on her leg. "Alex, calm yourself." He stood up. "I agree with her, Willow, you're not seeing them unless Xander gives me a *very* goot reason. We will work on the soul restoration as quickly as possible." He walked out of the house, forcing himself to stay calm.
Alex stood up. "I had hoped that things would be different this time." She followed Derek out, slamming the door.
Willow snorted. "We'll see who watches over them, Derek Rayne. We will see."
Jon watched the five older kids rollerblade around the garden, smiling at Xandra and Serena as they started to move away from the group. He glanced toward the one lightly sloped path that headed down the stairs to where the helicopter was usually parked. Then he turned to help Timmy get his balance again after falling onto his butt. That's when he heard one of the worst sounds of his life.
"Whee!" Xandra called out.
Jon turned in time to see Serena heading for the stairs and Xandra heading for a tree. "Girls!" He skated toward Serena, the one in worse danger. "Serena! Stop! Fall or something!" He made it to her in time to tackle her, both of them rolling down the stairs. The next thing he saw was a very wavy Adam reaching for the baby he still held. "Cool colors," he said as he lost consciousness.
Derek, Xander, and Adam all looked up as they heard the nanny yell, all of them dropping what they had been doing and running out. Adam saw Jon head over the stairs clutching something so ran for him, his prior training as a physician coming back to him immediately.
Derek ran for Xandra, whom he had seen bounce off the tree, falling to his knees beside her to check her over.
Xander ran after Adam, knowing his father had his daughter well in hand, but realizing the odd man would have headed to the worst accident. He paused at the top of the stairs, pulling his cellphone out of his pocket to dial the emergency number. "Hey, this is the Luna Foundation. We just had a major skating accident. No, two kids and their nanny." He hit the bottom step and handed off the phone, checking his daughter for injuries. "Serena?" he called gently. She hugged him, crying and holding her arm. "Shh, sweetie, the nice ambulance guys will be here soon. We'll make the ouchies go away." He looked over at Adam. "What do we do?"
"Immobilize her arm," he said as he shut the phone and put it in his pocket. "Do the same for Jon's neck and right shoulder." He looked up the stairs. "How's Xandra?" he called
"Shaken," Derek called back. "Them?"
"Broken bones." He looked at Xander. "Do you have the paperwork?" Xander nodded, biting his lip as he held his daughter to him. "Nick's home, he'll deal with the children, as will I. Just get them to the right hospital."
"Memorial," Derek said as he carried Xandra down the stairs. He sat down beside them. "She lost a tooth and bumped her chest."
"We no stop," Xandra said, showing off her missing tooth, the one right in front on the bottom. She pointed up as a helicopter came into view. "'Blance."
Xander leaned over to kiss her head. "They're coming for you guys. It'll be okay." He kissed Serena's head. "It'll be all okay soon."
The helicopter landed and the paramedics ran over. The one coming for Serena looked at Xander and held out his hands. "I need her now, sir." She was handed over after getting a kiss. "Start for the hospital now, you can meet us there. They'll be fine."
Derek frowned at him. "Surely the father can ride along." The paramedic nodded so he pointed to Xander. "He's the father."
"Oh, I thought the red-haired guy ..." He shook himself. "All right." He held her still while his partner put on the air cast. "Take her over to the helicopter, we'll get the other two."
"Xandra fall into tree," Serena sniffled. "Jon catch me."
"We're all glad he did," Xander said as he picked her up. "Come on." He waited until they were all in the back to look at the paramedic working on his children. "I'm the adoptive father of all of them and the dark-haired one's actual father. I have the paperwork to treat."
The paramedic smiled. "We're used to seeing the other guy first. Memorial, right?" Xander nodded and put on his headset as the helicopter started and took off. He could see Derek running up the stairs as they gained altitude.
Xander let Xandra walk into the house first, then let himself be hugged by Buffy. "Hey. One broken arm, one missing tooth, and one dislocated wrist. Oh, and a bunch of bruises and bumps." He looked over his shoulder at Derek, who was carrying a sleeping Serena. "Jon will be home tomorrow, they wanted to observe him because he hit his head."
"It could have been a lot worse," Nick reminded as he picked up Serena to hug. "They had on safety equipment." He kissed the baby's cheek since she was awake now. "The gardeners and I installed a few bumps on the decline so they can't do it again." Xander nodded and Derek clapped him on the shoulder. "Let's get you guys into bed for a nap." Both girls nodded and they headed up the stairs with him.
Xander walked out of the house and down through the garden, heading for the guest house. He walked in, startling Willow when he slammed the door. "Thought you were cured." She nodded. "Yet, the kids have a bad accident the same day you threatened Derek with trying to take them back." He crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at her. "Both girls are excellent bladers and are fully trained in how to stop but suddenly they couldn't?" He grabbed her arms to shake her when she didn't offer an answer or an excuse. "How could you do that to your own children?"
She got away from him, rubbing her arms. "I didn't do anything to them! Not even the old me was that cruel."
Xander nodded. "Yes, she was," he said quietly. "As soon as you have a soul, you are so gone," he vowed. He turned and walked out of the guest house, slamming the door this time too.
"But I didn't do it," she called. She leaned against the entryway wall, frowning at the door. "I wouldn't hurt my babies like that." She walked into the kitchen, picking up her beer and taking a long drink.
Xander ran into Giles in the kitchen. "How long before we can resoul her and kick her out?" he growled.
"We can do the restoration spell tomorrow if I can get into town, and if the herb store has what we need in stock. I'm sure she wasn't responsible for their accident, Xander," he said, pulling the younger man into a hug. "They'll be fine," he assured. He looked up as Derek and Adam walked in. "He thinks Willow is responsible for what happened this afternoon."
Derek shook his head. "I didn't feel any magical taint around them or their equipment," he said gently to reassure his son as he took him from Giles' arms and hugged him. "Some things are simply accidents."
Xander shook his head. "Jon drilled them for *weeks* on things like stopping in the driveway." He pulled back some. "I'm going to page Oz and tell him they're okay." He got free and headed up the back stairs, mumbling to himself.
Derek looked at Alex as she walked into the kitchen, knowing she had heard from the look on her face. "Could she have?"
"I don't know, I'll ask her tonight while she's drunk." She headed out into the garden, going to do her duty and watch over their guest.
Derek frowned at Adam. "No more alcohol for her. We've had enough problems from her drinking." He walked out, going back to his office.
Adam took a deep, calming breath, stopping when Xander walked in. "Phone," Xander said, holding out his hand. When he got his cell phone, he pulled Adam into a one armed hug. "Thank you." He walked back up the stairs.
Adam let out a long breath and smiled. "Well, some appreciation is good." He checked the pot on the stove, turning the burner up a little.
Oz had just bowed to the local pack leader when his pager went off. He snatched it off his side to read the message, sighing in relief. "My kids are okay, just a minor accident."
The pack leader looked him over. "Your mate?"
"Is at home watching them for me. They're ours, even though someone had them for us." He held up his scarred palm. "He's one too, same as some of our kids are."
The pack leader nodded. "At least you accept the reality." He bowed back. "I've heard why you traveled so far. We can teach you what you need. The priests were overrun by the Chinese but a few still hunt beside us."
"Thanks." Oz looked around at the charred remains of the buildings. "How can I help while I'm here?"
The pack leader wrapped an arm around his shoulders and smiled. "We will train him, he is a brother forming his own pack," he told the assembled people. Howls split the air.
Xander paced his room, growling. He stopped when he ran into a warm body, turning to pace in the other direction. "What?"
"We need to talk," Adam said as he shut the door behind him. He sat at the large table, tapping it. "Sit, Alexander," he commanded quietly. The young man stopped and stared at him. "Please. There are things you don't know yet."
"There's a lot of things I don't know," Xander admitted, taking the seat across from the butler. "What?"
Adam picked up the young man's hand, rubbing his thumb across the scar. "I've met other weres, many years ago." He looked up into the warm brown eyes. "I've also kept up with them over the years. Six hundred for one of them." Xander pulled his hand back. "You're by no means immortal but with the right amount of care, you can live a rather long time."
"Are you a changling? I don't sense you like I do other weres."
"No, I'm actually an immortal." He pulled a knife out of his back pocket and slowly opened it to cut into his wrist. They both watched blue sparks healing the torn flesh. "I'm one of the unlucky few, Alexander, and your family could be also."
"Imagine outliving everyone you know, including some of your children."
Xander swallowed hard and nodded, going a little more pale. "How do you deal?"
"I've had to. There are times I've withdrawn from life. I've recently lost almost everyone I've cared for and I wanted to give you the benefit of my experience."
"How long?" Xander whispered, looking down at his scar.
"The oldest one I know is six hundred years and he died three years ago in a car accident." He took Xander's hand again. "You need to consider this in your life with Oz, and in your children's lives."
"Great," Xander said sarcastically. "Just what we needed. More stress." He took a deep breath. "What about where Oz is learning control? Is that going to affect it? What about when Serena is older and she goes off to find her own mate?" He sighed. "God, why us?"
"I have no idea," Adam said gently. He withdrew his hand but Xander grabbed it and clutched it as tightly as he could.
"I'm sorry, this is just a really big change for me." He looked up, giving the older man a pathetic look. "Thank you."
"Alexander, I am here when you need me," he said, giving the hand in his a squeeze. "You should start researching now, then bring your father into it. By the time your mate gets back, you should have a good handle on the subject." He got free and stood up. "If you need my input, I'll still be around. Even after I'm not the butler, I will still be their teacher."
Xander gave him a small grin. "You're going to set up a school? That'd be cool, at least we'd trust you not to make fun of the kids."
Adam gave him a brave smile. "I'll consider it." He left him alone.
Xander leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes. "This could cause a *lot* of problems." He reached over to touch the phone's speaker button then the key for the office. "Derek?" he asked softly, "can I talk to you?" He hung up.
A few minutes later, Derek walked in and sat down next to him, automatically pulling him into a hug. "What's wrong? Did something happen to Oz?"
"Did you know werewolves can live nearly forever?" He looked at his father, who was looking confused. "Adam knows one that lived to be six hundred or so." Derek's mouth fell open. "Yeah. Oh, and can we set him up in a school?"
"Oh, my," Derek said softly. "Oh, my Got." He squeezed Xander's shoulders, trying to pull himself out of his shock. "I... I don't know what to say." His arms fell back to his sides. "We need to research but I don't think we have any material to go through." He shook his head and gathered himself. "I'll put a call out to the other Houses for references." He stood up, pulling Xander with him. "Come on, we need to talk to Montreal. They have the most references on the subject." They walked down to the office, walking in together to find Adam in the chair behind the desk. "Time for you to go?" Derek asked with a smile.
"No, just thinking. It's nasty outside today." He stood up, waving at the chair. "Your son did have an excellent idea for my future though."
"I suggested he start a school for us," Xander said.
"That's a very goot suggestion. There's an empty building on the other side of the island, near the ferry dock. It should be calm enough to hold class."
"Oh, and I'm working at the camp," Xander reminded. "And there's that housing development trying to come in."
"Over my dead body," Derek grunted. He sat down. "We own part of that land and I *refuse* to have a bunch of whiny, suburban families as neighbors." Xander chuckled, sitting on the edge of the desk. "I do. There's a reason this house was put so far from everything. I don't think we should change it."
Xander shook his head. "Do you want me to pull my dominant act and muscle them out?"
"They have been looking for investors," Adam said smoothly. "It seems they're about to go bankrupt. According to the financial papers that is."
Derek smiled up at him, a cold and cruel smile. "Goot. We need to discuss their plans to build on our land anyway."
"On it," Xander said, standing up and walking out of the office.
Adam smiled at the door. "He is so like you sometimes."
Derek snorted. "I had hoped he would be normal."
"Yes, but he's happy. That's much more important." Adam walked out, leaving Derek alone.
Derek turned on his teleprompter, dialing the Montreal house. "Kristen?" he asked when she answered.
"The boss is on vacation, I'm filling in until I leave for New York," she reminded him. "What can we do for you, Derek?" She put down her pen and focused on him.
"I need all the were research sent here. We've just uncovered the possibility of a *very* long life for those of you afflicted."
"Oz, Xander, and a few of the children." She looked shocked. "The boys bled onto each other and the children got it from them."
She nodded slowly. "How much of a chance?"
"Two of the quad were affected, one changed and one is a carrier." She nodded again, reaching down to rub her stomach. "Oh, Kristen, I'm sorry. Have you had an amnio?" She gave him a small hint of a smile and another nod. "We've identified a marker from Oz's offspring, we could conceivably check for it in your child's."
"Please. I'll have my tests sent to you."
"To the Legacy lab," he corrected. "The lab was doing that research for us." She wrote something down. "Remember, a carrier may not change."
She smiled weakly. "Thanks, Derek. I needed to be reminded about that. I'll send it to you as soon as I have it all, including mine. You might want to check with Rupert," she said suddenly, "he got me tons of book recommendations to go through."
"I will once he gets back." Derek signed off, looking at his son's picture. "We'll figure everything out soon, Xander." He relaxed back into the comfortable seat. "At least it wasn't a problem this time," he reminded himself quietly. He turned to look out at the garden, watching the rain fall.
Xander looked at the man who walked in, blatantly checking his watch. He had changed clothes for this meeting with the housing project's developer, now wearing one of his favorite suits - one that his father had helped him buy - so he looked like an expensive lawyer.
"I'm sorry I'm late," the other man said, shaking Xander's hand. "I had thought that your boss didn't want us to build."
"Frankly, we don't. I'm here to take up a separate point from the main court action." He pulled two groups of papers out of his briefcase and tossed them on the desk. "Your plans and the last survey of our land." The other man flipped through them as he sat down, nodding. "As you can tell, your plans include some of our land." Xander leaned forward. "As you can probably guess, Derek isn't pleased about you trying to steal what is ours." He picked up the papers, putting them back in his briefcase, taking out a folded paper with a blue back and snapping the leather case shut. "I'm afraid he's had enough of dancing with you." He tossed it onto the desk and stood up. "If you do not desist in trying to use our lands, we will have you arrested for fraud and will sue you on top of that." He nodded at the developer. "Good day." He walked out to his Jaguar and slid into the leather seat, his suit jacket went into the seat next to him as he dialed his cellphone and started the engine. He hit the speaker button and put it on the holder between the seats. "Dad?" he asked as he pulled away from the construction trailer.
"Nope, me," Nick said. "Did you get through to him?"
"I showed him how he was using our land and gave him the injunction." He stopped the car as the trailer exploded.
"Fire, the guy blew himself up!" He shut off the engine and ran towards the burning trailer, calling the developer's name. He found the man on the ground, his head bleeding. "Are you okay?"
"Why?" he croaked, looking up.
"Huh?" Xander asked as he helped him sit up, making sure they were far enough away from the trailer.
"Why did you do that?"
Xander shook his head. "Wasn't me, man, I was happy with legal means." He looked up as sirens started to come closer. "That was fast. It usually takes a half an hour." He helped the man out of the way, bringing him toward a cop that was just pulling up. "I think he got thrown from the blast."
The cop looked him over. "Why are you guys here?"
"I handed him an injunction; his plans included some of the Luna Foundation lands."
"The bomb went off as he drove away!" the developer said hotly. "He did it!"
Xander snorted. "We don't need violence to stop you, Hughes. Your plans are fraudulent." The cop cleared his throat, giving him a 'please include me in this conversation' look. "We have proof he was trying to sell land that didn't belong to him. We filed an injunction this morning to stop the construction." He nodded at the Fire Chief as he walked past. "The Luna Foundation has never had need of violence to coerce in a rightful cause, especially not one where we're being stolen from." He glared at the man he had met with earlier. "I'm going home.. If there's no problem?" The cop shook his head so Xander headed to where his car had been moved off the narrow road. He got in and redialed the phone. "Nick?"
"Nope," Alex said. "You okay?"
"Yup," Xander said as he started the car. "He's trying to blame the explosion on us." He hung up as he started to get static, pulling up onto the road and heading home.
Derek met him at the door a few minutes later, immediately pulling him in for a hug. "You're all right."
"Yup, and so is Hughes. It was really convenient too." Xander looked at Nick as he moved closer to them from the hallway. "Get ready for questioning. He's adamant that I planted that bomb."
"No need. Hughes is slime, they'll get him."
Derek chuckled. "The left-over explosive is probably in his jacket pocket."
Xander pulled away as he heard another car pull up the drive. "Oh, cops," he said dryly.
Derek walked with Xander to meet the car. "Is there some suggestion of impropriety or that we're involved?"
"Nope," the cop from earlier said as he got out. "Just wanted to check something. Do you really have proof of fraud?"
Xander walked over to his car, pulling out his briefcase to open it on the hood. He handed over the papers he had shown off earlier. "I found out he was trying to sell land we owned. We filed an injunction this morning and I gave him a copy at our meeting right before the explosion." The cop nodded and took the papers, walking back to his car. "Check his sale records," Xander called. "They're not in there." He walked back over to stand between Derek and Nick, accepting the back pats he was given.
"Guess he gave up," Nick said jovially. "Let's have lunch."
Derek shook his head and groaned. "Nick!"
Xander shrugged, shooting his father a cute grin. "Sure. I missed breakfast." He followed his brother inside, ignoring his father's groan.
Oz looked at his pager, smiling at his mate's message of the week. "Cool." He put it away as one of the priests walked toward him. "Brother Li," he said in greeting.
"Reminding me that he and our children love me." He handed over his pager to show off the message. "He can be kinda mushy."
The priest handed it back. "Will you teach him?"
"If he's turning, yes, we're still not sure he's more than a carrier. And our children that are affected." He put the pager back in its leather holder and sat up straighter. "What would you have me do today?"
"We must connect you to the wolf so you can discuss." Oz nodded. "Your meditation skills are excellent, much better than most people who come looking for us."
"I've had to, to control the feelings I get when I change. The rage, the frustration with the cage. The pity I started to feel for normals the next morning."
"Good." Brother Li nodded, giving his student a tolerant smile. "You have chosen not to live as the wolf, but as a man. That is an important choice, Oz."
"I think I made the right one," he noted.
"Ah. Are you...happy?"
Brother Li smiled at him. "With six children? Filled is a better phrase."
"My children are why I'm here," Oz said seriously. "I don't want them to feel the same as I did when I found out this was permanent."
"They won't, for them it is as normal as eating."
"I need that attitude."
"Yes, you do." Brother Li stood up and walked away.
Oz considered his words, meditating before that night's hunt.
Nick looked at his brother's altered form in disgust. "Oz gets bigger and Xander gets smaller?"
"Cosmic balance," a gentle voice said from behind him.
"Philip?" he asked, in shock, turning to face him. "How ... Why... Aren't you dead?" The tranq gun fell from his fingers, going off into the wall without anyone except the furry forms in the cage knowing.
"I'm still livin', same as William was. I'm jus' on a diff'rent plane." He smiled at his lover. "I can even travel a bit for special things."
"No, like you, Nick." He moved closer. "I watched over ya both after the fight. I saw it all. I wished ya woulda gotten closer to Derek until I'm back, but I can understand why ya didn'."
Nick nodded, leaning against the table. "You can come back?"
"He knows," Philip said, pointing at the cage. "He showed me how to turn it into a useful offering." He smiled as he faded out. "Go talk ta Derek, Nick. He needs ya." Nick nodded and ran up the stairs, and Philip reappeared, walking closer to the cage. He got down to look at Xander, who was lying down watching everything. "Ya did a good job, just a little longer and ya can lean on your mate again. Jus' a few more months, I promise. He won' even hur' ya that badly, Ripper'll stop him for ya." He stood up as feet started to run down the stairs. "It's all right, I'm no' leavin' yet."
Derek stepped off the last step, looking at the man standing next to the cage. "He found that book?" he asked finally. Philip smiled so he walked closer, stopping directly in front of his former lover. "Is there a problem?"
"No, I'm bein' mushy. I jus' wanted ta see ya both." He smiled at Nick, who was right behind Derek.
Nick smiled back. "We wanted to see you too."
Derek stepped closer. "I'm happy to see you back, Philip, but I still wonder why." He dodged the attempted grab by a small paw. "Yes, I'll do the spell tonight." He looked at Xander, who gave him a pitiful look. "What's wrong, son?" He had to jump back as the claws scratched him.
"Hey!" Nick yelled, grabbing Derek to pull him father from the cage.
Philip shook his head. "The Legacy Pack is formed." He faded from view. "I'll miss ya both until ya come for me."
Derek groaned. "Legacy pack?"
Nick patted him on the back. "It'll be okay. Go do the spell." Derek nodded and headed back upstairs. Nick sat on the work table, watching the cage. As time went on, Junior and Brandon both turned back to human children. Xander lifted his head and howled as he shifted partially back. Xander looked at himself and growled, changing fully back to the wolf. Nick's mouth fell and stayed open until Derek came back. "He changed part-way then got disgusted and changed back," Nick explained, still sounding shocked.
"Xander!" Derek yelled. He saw the partial change himself and shook his head. "Why don't you have easy problems?" He walked over to where the tranq gun was lying, shooting his son so he could go in and get the two returned children. Serena lunged at him and he let her get the sleeve of his jacket as he backed out of the cage, letting Nick catch her as she tried to escape.
"Did she bite you?" Derek asked as he looked down at Nick's arm where she had been struggling to get free.
"No, she clawed me," Nick said as he handed Serena over, holding the side of his neck. "That was mean," he told her. "We should trim your claws." She howled and fought to get them, getting Derek with her back feet and Nick with her front.
Finally, Derek got her back into the cage, reaching over to grab the dart out of Xander's still body as he retreated. That's when his son proved he was still a very smart predator.
Xander lunged up, grabbing Derek by the throat and throwing him out of the way. He and his daughter made their escape, Serena shoving Nick out of her way. At the top of the stairs, the reinforced door gave them some problems, as did one of the two women on the other side, but they managed to get past Buffy with only a few bruises and headed out into the night.
Buffy screamed as Xander howled for his mate, grabbing her ears. "Giles! They're out!" She ran downstairs, going to check on whomever had wolf duty.
Nick was trying to sit up, groaning in pain. "I need more benefits," he complained. He smiled at Flame, who helped him achieve a sitting position. "Don't mind the furry ones, they're teaching the kids to hunt."
Buffy checked Derek over, wincing as she saw the foam-looking liquid covering a few of his scratches. "Oh, no," she whispered.
Giles came running down the stairs, visually checking the people as he hit the bottom. Buffy looked up, giving him her 'disaster' look so he went to where she was first. "Is he all right?"
"Drooled on." She turned the older man's head to show the marks and the foam. "Xander and Serena from what I could tell."
Nick grunted as Flame helped him to stand. "The other two changed back. Xander's able to change half-way but not totally. He living?"
"Yeah, but he got drooled on," Buffy said as she stood. "Tranqs?"
"We had to weaken it for Serena," Nick reminded her as he pointed at the gun. "Xander only went down for a few minutes."
Buffy nodded, picking up the gun to check it. "Flame, coming?" The next slayer nodded, following her up the stairs.
"Take Adam!" Giles yelled after them.
Buffy met the butler at the top of the stairs. He looked her over. "Just the usual two." He waved her on so she walked out the door, getting hit immediately. "So *mean*!" she said, kicking Xander back out the door. "Helping?" she suggested.
"Of course." Adam pulled a sword from inside his jacket, motioning Xander closer. "Come on. You don't want her, she's stringy. I'm nice and tender."
"We're not trying to kill him!" Buffy screamed as Adam took a very pretty swing as Xander's stomach.
"He'll heal," he reminded her sarcastically. "Go find the baby." She ran out to find Serena and he took another swing at Xander, knocking the werewolf to his knees. He kicked Xander high in the chest, making him howl in pain.
"Adam!" Nick yelled as he ran up the stairs.
"Methos!" Derek yelled at the same time.
Nick looked at Derek. "Methos?"
"Long story," Adam said, using his pommel to knock Xander out. "There. Buffy's out searching for Serena." He looked at Derek. "You know I wouldn't harm the boy. He'll heal. The sword's not silver."
"True, he'll heal." Derek nodded at Nick. "Go put him back, I'll go help Buffy." He stopped as she walked in carrying a not-wiggling bundle. "Is she alright?"
"Yup. Ran into the Range Rover and smacked her head." She handed the furry bundle over to Flame. "Here." She walked up to Derek, checking his eyes. "Head injury, boss. Wanna go get checked?"
Derek shook his head. "I'll be fine. It was just a little bump." He watched Nick and Giles carry the two changed people downstairs before looking at Adam. "Thank you," he said quietly.
"Any time." Adam headed for his room.
"Gee, no silver bullet?" Buffy asked. She jumped as Nick goosed her. "Hey!"
"No silver. We don't want them hurt." He walked around her, heading up the stairs. "Going to bed. Night."
"Goot night," Derek called. He scratched his neck. "Was there something else, Buffy?" he asked when he caught her staring at his scratching.
"Um, yeah." She removed his hand. "The foamy drool is gone." He relaxed. "You knew?"
"Flame told me when she helped me up. If it happens, I'll have Giles do the spell next month." He turned, going to his room. "Goot night."
"Night." She looked over her shoulder as Giles walked back up the stairs. "We all locked in?" Giles nodded. "You okay?" He nodded again. "I'm going to bed then. Flame?"
"Coming." She looked at Giles before walking up the stairs, giving him a slight smile.
Giles leaned against the door, rubbing the back of his neck. "What will we do if he does change? Xander will want to run when he hears about this."
The body in the robe looked down at the water bowl in front of him, smirking at what he saw. "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, my precious ones. Your life is now ruled by another power. His."
Giles walked down to breakfast, the ache that had been in his chest all night easing when he saw Xander hugging Derek and apologizing quietly.
"It's all right," Derek told him, gently putting his son aside. "I won't change. I promise I won't." He ruffled his son's hair. "Now eat, son. You'll have to deal with the children today."
"Not," Xander said, sipping his juice. "Test today." He picked up a muffin, wiggling his fingers as he walked out. "Later."
"Goot luck," Derek called. He smiled at Adam as he walked over with a plate for himself. "Thank you for helping us last night."
"You're welcome," the butler said softly, starting on his breakfast. "The children should be up soon. Is Jon taking them out today? I had plans of cleaning the upstairs hall carpets."
"Serena's cast should be replaced. It broke while she was changing."
"Jon's put on an air cast after she changed back. Her arm is mostly healed." Adam picked up half of his english muffin and took a bite. "The others were all fine as far as he told me," Adam said after swallowing.
"Goot." Derek nodded, sipping his coffee. "Summer break starts in a month."
"Then Xander will be working across the island," Giles reminded as he removed himself from the refrigerator and left them alone. "He starts his internship a few weeks later."
Derek grunted since his mouth was full, and put down his cup so he could answer without throwing it. "I had tried to forget about that. Actually, around the same time, the dig restarts in Florida." He looked out the window. "I wish he hadn't signed up for an internship."
"He needed a social concerns credit," Buffy said from behind her paper, her shield that hid her in her corner. "It's mandatory for him to graduate."
"I didn't know about that," Derek admitted. "They graduate in December, don't they?"
"Yup." Buffy turned the page. "Gotta start looking for prezzies soon."
Adam snorted. "I'm sure they'd just be happy to have everyone there. Will Oz be graduating?"
"Yup." Buffy turned another page. "His teachers were told his presence was requested in Tibet for work so he has to do papers." Derek snatched her paper. "What?"
"Xander told them what?"
"Oz emailed them."
"My, he is handy," Adam snorted. "How many does he have to write?"
"Xander said five but the history one was going to be the hardest. Have we heard from him?"
"No," Derek said, sipping his coffee and glancing out the windows. "Xander sends him messages twice a week."
Buffy grinned. "Good. They need to stay in touch." She stood up, wiggling her fingers at them. "Later. Got homework to do." She jogged up the back stairs.
"I could help with the history paper," Adam offered.
"No, he'll do it. Unless he asks," Derek added with a smirk. "I doubt he'll have much time to do those papers when he first comes back."
"All right." Adam scraped his plate and took his last bite of food. "I should start the eggs for the children. They'll want them as they walk in." He stood up, taking his plate to the sink. "Did you want something else?"
"I wanted to know if you've thought about Xander's school idea."
"I have. I'd have to get a new set of certificates. All my teaching certificates are under another identity." He turned around. "I could do that, but I may have to start back to school."
Derek smiled. "I think it can be arranged. As long as that other one hasn't died." Adam shook his head. "There's a procedure for those that change their names, or for those who are in protective custody. Both of which are usually kept secret."
"Ah." Adam started to smile. "So if I could come up with a good enough reason to have changed my name, I could get all of my credits transferred?" Derek nodded, giving him a brighter smile. "I could do that. If I did it correctly, I could include a few of my old identities and my various degrees."
Derek stood up. "If you'd like my help, I occasionally adjunct at Berkeley and I have contacts through there and the boy's school." He walked out of the kitchen.
"Oh, you're good," he said to himself. He put a pot of water on the stove, letting it boil. He turned as one of the children ran down the stairs. "Good morning, Xandra."
She hugged his legs. "Morning, Unclie Adam!" she yelled. She looked up at him, her missing tooth showing as she smiled. "Everyone up. Eggies?"
"Yes, Xandra, everyone's getting eggs this morning. Would they like soft ones on toast?" She nodded. "That's good. Go sit down." She let him go and ran over to sit down as Brandon ran down the stairs and grabbed him by the legs. "Good morning, Brandon."
"And so the panic starts," the robed form said, lifting it's head, showing itself as a man. "Let the separation anxiety begin and the pain grow," he whispered, throwing some herbs into a burning brass bowl, following it with a figurine. "Let him *want*. Let his want reach the ears of Janus. Let the God of Chaos decide their fates."
Xander paced around Derek's office, making small noises of pain. His father looked up, again, giving him a worried look. "Xander? Would you like to tell me what's wrong or are you enjoying tearing up my carpet?" he asked finally.
"I need to talk to Oz." He stopped, looking at the older man. "Derek, I'm feeling drifty again." His father dropped his pen, leaning back to listen to him. "Oz is my anchor. I can't concentrate without him here. I almost flunked a test yesterday because I couldn't make myself study. I can't rely on the kids and you as my anchors, it's unfair for me to cling."
"Son," Derek said gently, "you're not clinging."
"That's about half the problem though." Xander threw himself down on the couch, sprawling across the leather.
"We wouldn't mind."
"I smother Oz in attention."
"I've noticed," Derek said dryly. He got up and walked over to sit next to the younger man, pulling him in for a hug. "Son, you knew he would be gone a while. You even knew it was necessary for him to go. Didn't you expect to not hear from him?"
"It's been a month!" He looked up. "I need him."
"I know you do. Everyone you know in this world knows you need your mate, but there is something you can do to ease the ache. Get stronger for him, build your life around what else you have."
"The kids and school?"
"And work, and your hobbies, even the research you've been doing. All of that."
"My life's still empty." Xander closed his eyes, relaxing into the comforting body. "Without Oz, I'm not sure I want to keep going through school," he confessed quietly. "It all seems kinda futile right now. It's like all the stuff they're teaching us has no real meaning to me because I can't see how it relates to anyone."
Derek sighed. "I expected to have this talk with Buffy." He gave the younger man a little squeeze. "You're just reevaluating your choices as you get closer to graduation. This is a normal process, we all went through it. You're supposed to be uncertain and scared."
"But I'm not scared and I am certain. I'm certain I really don't care about grad school."
"Because you were going to start together or just for yourself?"
"*That* I'm not sure about."
"Ah." Derek let him go, turning to face him. "Were you feeling this when he was here?"
"A little, but it started to ease when we decided to start together, but now it's coming back."
"His absence is making all of your insecurities more noticeable?"
"No, they were noticeable before, but the thing holding the lid over them is noticeable in his absence."
"You're missing your wall."
"No, I'm missing my security blanket. I'm my own wall."
"I know you're very strong, Xander, but with Oz here why are you so much stronger?"
"Because I have my big, comfy Oz blankie," Xander said with a grin, shifting so he was sitting more upright. "I'm a multi-tasker. I need to have someone to wrap myself around so I can spread myself out. He's my anchor, I wrap myself around him so I can spread myself thin."
"You've said that already."
Derek smiled. "I'm thinking about what you said, Xander. I never realized you operated in that manner." He got a pleased nod. "Now that Oz is gone, the structure that you wrap yourself around is gone?" He got another nod. "How can I fix this?"
Xander stood up. "That's why I need to talk to Oz."
"At least you changed words this time." Xander stared at his father, hands on his hips. "I need to check in with him, just to touch base, just to let myself relax the control I'm holding over who and what I am. Right now, I'm a tense rubber band. I can't wrap myself around myself and then spread myself out. It doesn't work that way," he said, sounding a little hysterical.
"Please don't lose control of the wolf, son."
"Dad," Xander sighed, looking at him. "Missing the point here."
"Sorry." Derek patted the couch. "Sit."
Xander shook his head. "I can't. The tighter I have to control myself, the more uptight I get. I'm at the asphyxiating choke hold stage right now." He started to pace again. "I *need* to let go of my control soon or I'm going to snap."
"How can I help?" Derek asked quietly.
"You can't. That's why I need Oz!" Xander stopped, staring out the window at his children playing. "There's nobody here I can wrap myself around so I can let go of my control."
Derek got up, walking over to stand behind him, amazed when he felt the vibrations of Xander's tension through his fingers. "Son, I want to help but I can't make your mate materialize because you need him."
"I know, but I need him," Xander whispered.
"He'll be home soon, Xander, you just have to hold on for a little while longer." He turned the younger man around, noticing how tired and worn out he looked. "When was the last time you slept?"
"Can't," he said, getting free. "I can't relax, I can't unwind, I can't even slow down long enough for my body to consider relaxing." He shrugged. "And I can't do this for much longer. I've even taken some of the sleeping pills Marcus gave me a few years ago, I slept for three hours."
Derek shook his head, pushing Xander down into his desk chair. "We need to fix this before something tragic happens. You need to sleep." He frowned at Nick as he walked in. "Not now."
"Buffy's a wreck, she's six days into a cappuccino high so she doesn't miss a minute that she has left." He shuddered. "She's fidgeting, nervous, and not listening to me during training." He looked over his brother's stiff and still form. "You too? Is this some sort of epidemic? It's not even finals."
"No, he can't relax," Derek said. He smiled at Nick. "Bring her up to the boys' room, maybe they can help each other." He tugged Xander up, pulling up the stairs to his room, meeting Nick there. "Go in there and nap beside each other." He closed the door on the two young people, dragging Nick with him. "They're goot at fixing each other."
Buffy looked at Xander, nodding. "How many days for you?"
"A week, maybe a few hours of sleep a night. You?"
"Since Flame got here." She looked around. "Got cards?"
"On the bed, I was playing solitaire last night." He led her over, handing her the deck. "Gin?"
"Yeah, Gin Rummy." They sat across from each other, Buffy dealing.
Nick backed out of Xander's room under a hail of cards. He looked at Derek. "Still awake," he said as he pulled the Jack of Clubs out of his collar.
Derek shook his head, walking at the start of their spray string fight. "Children, you need a nap."
Buffy and Xander looked at each other then turned the cans on him. Xander laughed at the glare, dodging Buffy's attempt to beat him with pillow. "Ha ha," he called as he ran out of the room and down the stairs, Buffy right behind him.
Derek walked out of the room, glaring at Nick when he started to laugh. "I will fix this," he vowed. He headed down to the kitchen, frowning at the butler when his mouth opened. "Sedate them. Put something in their food to put them down for the night."
"I've tried," Adam admitted dryly. "It hasn't worked yet." He winced as Buffy ran past the open door to the porch, laughing manically. "I could give them a mild poison, make them sick enough to have to sleep."
"No, I think that's a bit harsh." Derek sat down, taking the wet hand towel that was held out to try and clean himself off. "Don't you know of something to fix this?"
"Not a thing. I've tried everything but laudanum to knock them out."
"We don't have any here."
"That's why I haven't tried it yet." Adam sat down next to his boss. "I had some success last week with an herbal concoction but it only worked for two days." He looked outside, watching the two young people chasing each other around with loud laughs. "Have we tried the basics? Boring art movies, bedtime stories, that sort of thing?"
"I sat down with Buffy last night to watch a Kurasawa film, but she ate popcorn through it and cheered for the fights."
"I'm all for violence then." Adam stood up, heading over to the open door. "You two settle down or I'm..." He was stopped by the garden hose being turned on him by Buffy, who had been trying to catch Xander with it.
Derek chuckled but jogged out to stop them. "Buffy!" He got away from her before she could turn the hose on him, shutting off the water. "I think we've had enough of this. Go up to Xander's room and sleep!" He pointed inside.
Buffy and Xander looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Buffy considered Xander. "Want to go see a movie? Derek introduced me to this great samurai film last night." Xander nodded, patting his wet body down. "We'll have to change anyway, no big."
Derek groaned. "You're not leaving the island until you both sleep."
Xander pouted at him. "That's not real fair."
"No," Derek said firmly, resisting the urge to stomp his foot. "Go sleep!" He grabbed them, towing them inside and up to Xander's room, pushing them inside so he could shut the door. "Sleep!" he yelled as he walked away. "I wouldn't harm the city by unleashing you on them in this state," he muttered as he walked down the stairs.
Buffy pouted at the door. "Meany." She looked down at her overly-damp body. "Can I borrow clothes?"
"Sure," Xander said as he headed for the dresser, handing her a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. He pulled things from another drawer for himself. Want first or second shower?"
"Second. You're wearing Oz's clothes?"
Xander looked down at what he held. "Yeah. They smell like him. Fortunately he likes things big." He headed for the bathroom. "I'll be quick."
Buffy sat on the floor, watching the trees outside blow in the wind. That's why she jumped when Xander walked out of the bathroom. "Thanks." She stood up gracefully, walking in and closing the door behind herself.
Xander sat on the bed, talking another pack of cards out of his husband's bedside table and laid out a game of solitaire.
Buffy came out a few minutes later and sat behind him, laying her head on his back. "Maybe he was right."
"Sleep, I'll watch." She nodded, lying down on his pillow. Buffy started to breath deeply, then started to snore. Xander smiled, laying out the physical version of a game he had seen on Oz's computer.
The man in the robe shook his head in disgust, running a finger through the water to break the viewing spell. "That's not very fair," he complained, looking up.
You could see who it was now. Ethan Rayne, the man who almost became Derek's step-father.
"Why can't they be given pain?"
Derek tapped on Xander's door, walking in with a covered tray. He smiled at his son as he walked over. "Did you take a nap?" Xander shook his head. "Why not?"
"Can't. I explained that to you earlier." Xander took a few of the sandwiches back to the bed. "Thanks. We'll see you in the morning."
Derek got tired of this so he pulled Xander into his arms, holding on until the younger man had relaxed. "Sleep," he ordered gently, pushing his son down onto Oz's side of the bed. He smiled as Buffy rolled over to hold him, backing out of the room, sure they had it now. He walked down to his office, looking up Oz's pager number to leave his own message.
The pack leader handed Oz his pager with a smile. "Your weekly reminder of home."
Oz looked down at the message, smiling at it. "From my father-in-law. My mate needs me." He read through it again, the message making his chest ache. "I need to be there."
The pack leader nodded, backing away so the priests could grab him.
The robe figure backed away from his scrying bowl, shivering as he caught sight of his oldest enemy, who was staring at him. "Oh, Ripper," he sighed, reaching out to touch his image. "I didn't want to come up against you." The image wavered as the other man said a few words, then it went dark. "Damn, how did you do that, Ripper old boy? No one should be able to do that to one of my spells."
He stomped his foot in irritation. "Janus, all I wanted was to create chaos in your name. Why wouldn't you let me harm them?"
Xander looked up as a file landed in front of him. "You really want me to do this?"
Nick sat down next to him. "Yup. I don't want Derek to have a heart attack when he goes to face off with this person." He tapped the top of the folder. "Read it, give me a plan of action, and get ready to travel."
"What about the kids?" Xander asked as he picked it up to read.
"They're fine. They've even forgotten our *guest* is here." He looked out the window. "How long will it take for those herbs to come in?"
"Few weeks," Xander mumbled, reading. "Who is this person?"
"Someone who's trying to muscle their way into the museum pieces. They want some of the artifacts we have."
"Why is Kat's name in here?" he asked, pointing it out.
"That's why you're going," Nick said gently, patting him on the shoulder. "If Derek or I go, we'll back off of her. You're not going to do that. You didn't watch her grow up. We did."
"So I have to go be objective and not get in trouble?"
"Basically," Nick agreed, standing up and leaving him alone. "Plane's ready when you are. You can even visit William if you want."
"Me go?" Timmy asked, popping up from under the table.
"No," Nick called from the hallway.
"Only if Grandpa Derek says it's okay," Xander told him. He didn't look up as his son ran out of the room, just finished analyzing the file. He did look up when the library door slammed shut behind him, giving his daughter a bland look. "Problems, Precious?"
"Me be chased," she explained, giving him a smile as someone started to pound on the library doors. "Me no want caught."
"Let them in," Xander said, going back to drawing out a plan of action, ignoring the impressive pout his daughter was leveling at him. "Do it," he said after a few more minutes of pounding. "And you'd better not be using your powers to hold that door shut."
Giles walked in, glaring at the child. "Do you have any idea what she's done?"
"Besides something that made you run down the stairs?" Xander said, glancing up and shooting his former mentor a grin. "What?" He got comfortable, sure this was going to be a big thing.
"She..." He took a deep breath. "She not only broke into my box of herbs and rearranged all the boxes and pouches in there, but she managed to find a portal by spilling a great deal of everything all over my room." He glared down at the little girl. "Then, when I closed it, she not only clapped but said that she had been *talking* to the person responsible for it." He crossed his arms and started to pace around the library table. "Then, and I do believe this is the worst yet, she picked up a handful of mixed herbs and held them out to me with this so sweet and innocent, contrite look that was clearly fake."
Xander looked at his daughter, who was giving him that look. "You're not that innocent," he reminded her. "You and Brandon are neck-in-neck for the most punishment of the month award. I want you to stop this before *I* have to get into the punishment act."
She nodded, pulling a thumb up to suck, and some hair with it. "Me be good," she said finally, looking at both the adults. "Me sorry me made a mess."
"Yes, well, I'll expect you to not get into my things again, Precious. Under no circumstances are you to get into my things, and especially not into my magical things or my books."
"Yes, tir," she said through her thumb. "Me be good." She gave him a pitiful look as she hugged his legs. "Me be good girl." She let go of him and wandered out of the library, going in search of new prey.
Giles glared at Xander. "This is your fault. She learned how to beg all too well from you. I know Oz and Willow couldn't beg like that. It must have been your wonderful influence."
Xander went back to his battle plans. "Yup, and next I'm teaching her how to whimper pitifully too. Just wait until she learns how to combine them." He grinned as Giles 'hrumped' and walked out, going in search of a more sympathetic audience. "Do it again," Xander called, "and deal with me."
Precious stuck her head through the doorway. "Me?" she asked innocently, then grinned evily and ran laughing down the hall.
"Yes, you." He counted until the first scream, giggling himself when he recognized it as Buffy's. "Oh, well. Someone's gonna get her for it."
"Xander!" Buffy called. "Do you know what your daughter just did?"
Xander got out of customs, smiling at the man meeting him. "Grandad," he said, giving him a hug. "Grandma?"
"Is waiting in the car," William grumped, leading Xander outside. "What brings you here?"
"Someone wanting what we have at the museum." Xander shrugged, slinging his bag into the trunk and getting in, giving his grandmother a hug since she was in the back with him. "Love you. Daddy sends his love and asks that you calm me down and make me nap." He grinned at William. "I tried to sneak Timmy away but Derek wouldn't let him come. He was bad. He snuck in to watch Alex and Buffy shower."
"Together?" William asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Not real sure," Xander said slowly, shooting him a smarmy grin, making sure his grandmother hadn't seen it. "All I got from the screaming the girls were doing was that he was in there with them."
Barbara coughed lightly. "I'm sure it's not important if they were together or not. They're both adults." She glared at her husband. "Some people shouldn't be wondering about that sort of thing anyway."
"Of course not," William said smoothly as he pulled out of their parking spot. "Why would I wonder about that sort of thing? It's totally uninteresting for me to wonder about."
Barbara glared at her husband's back. "I'm sure," she said dryly. She switched gears, giving Xander another hug. "How have you been without your mate being close by? I'm sure it's been pure torture."
"Yup, very," he said, leaning against her shoulder, yawning. He blinked hard, trying to stay awake. "I'm not really that tired anymore," he said, yawning again. "I don't know what's wrong with me."
"Jet lag," William said. He waited until the young man was asleep before dialing the house he came from. "Derek, your son is sleeping gently on my wife's shoulder. All it took was a grandmother." He hung up at the pleased laughter. "Now if only Alex can make Buffy take a nap."
"I'm sure she's just worried about what's going to happen," Barbara reminded him, reaching over to pat him on the shoulder. "I love you, Willy, but I really don't want to know if you fantasize about two or more women together. It's not happening in our house."
"Yes, dear." He smiled at her in the mirror. "But why would I fantasize when I have everything I need right beside me?"
She laughed, much happier now.
End...Until part 44.