Oz walked back into his house, heading up to the library. He nodded at the people around the table as he dropped his bag and backpack. "Go get the spell, Derek."
Derek closed his mouth, getting up to hug him. "You're all right?" he asked softly.
"Yup. Go get the spell." Oz got free, heading down the stairs to where his mate was caged. He opened the door, gladly accepting both furry bodies that bowled into him.
Upstairs, Giles and Derek started the spell to change the weres back to human and block further changing.
Downstairs, Oz watched as his mate and daughter changed back, gladly accepting their hugs.
"You're home," Xander whispered, clinging to his mate as hard as he could.
"And you're human again." Xander looked up. "The spell can be worked at moments of absolute joy or personal pain." He rubbed over Serena's head. "Go get hugs."
She smiled, holding up her arm. "Me have boo-boos."
"I know. Go let Grandpa fix it."
She nodded and ran upstairs, smiling at everyone clumped around the door. "Me no growlies!" she called, holding out her arms for a hug.
Xander kissed his mate tenderly, taking the time to relearn his taste. "You're home," he repeated.
"Yeah, finally." Oz soothed the tense back. "Come upstairs with me?"
"They'll want to hog you and make you tell them what happened. Can't we stay?"
"They can have me in the morning," Oz said gently. "I need you, need to reconnect with you."
Xander stood up, holding out a hand. "Please?"
Oz let himself be pulled up, willingly following his mate up to their room. He took charge once they were in the bedroom, laying them both down so he could hold him. Oz smiled as Xander fell asleep in his arms, so soothed by his presence that he let his control go instantly, just like that.
Derek walked in a few minutes later, coming over to sit beside Oz's still body. "It's a miracle," he whispered. "Both the fact that he's finally really sleeping and that the spell worked. Even my mother couldn't get him truly to sleep."
"The remaining priests said that we're weakest to it at moments of absolute joy or total personal pain," Oz said in his normal voice. "He won't wake up, not until noon or so," he explained at the quizzical look. He patted the smooth back. "I'm okay, Derek, really."
"Yes, I just realized that." Derek smiled. "I'll see you both in the morning so we can catch you up with what's been going on."
"Adam told me. I got two messages weekly from him. He told me all about the things my mate left out." He joined the hands with their rings, watching the stones twinkle in the muted light. "Oh, in my backpack I have research material from the order. It's copies of what they saved when their temple was burned." Derek nodded. "Take Junior with you tonight, I need to be alone with him."
"Don't hurt him."
Oz growled. "Derek, you know I would never do that."
"Yes, but you seem different now."
"I'm more in control, that's all. He'll be my mate until we both die, dad; nothing's changed and it won't."
"Then I'm very glad," Derek said, patting his son-in-law's legs gently. "Reassure him, he's been full of doubt recently."
"He'll be fine now."
Derek nodded, standing up. "Call if you need any of us. We'll talk when you get up." He left them alone, taking the baby with him.
Oz slid out from under Xander, smiling when his mate woke up. "I'm going to deal with the Willow problem. Rest."
"We still have to resoul her," Xander whispered, holding up his hand. "Tomorrow night?"
"If you'd rather." Oz took off his clothes, sliding under the covers. "Come nap."
Xander smiled, getting up to strip and join his husband. "Love you." He kissed him. "I missed you." He kissed him again. "Want to cling and not let go." He kissed him again. "Need you."
"And you're going to get me. After you sleep. Adam told me about your's and Buffy's lack of nappage." He pulled his husband closer, letting Xander wrap around him. "Sleep, babe. I'm back, you can relax all that nasty self-control again."
Xander nodded, slowing down. "I know. I'm too keyed up."
Oz shook his head and rolled his eyes. "You haven't slept in so long you're not tired, huh?" Before his mate could nod, he had latched their mouths together, giving back all the love he had felt from the bi-weekly messages Xander had sent him. Xander slowly relaxed, then fell asleep again, so Oz pulled back. He kissed the tip of the wiggling nose, wrapping him in his arms so the younger man could sleep safely.
Derek smiled as he walked into his office, noting how Oz was sitting in Xander's lap, nose buried in his son's neck. "Everything's back to normal, I see."
Oz pulled his head up. "We're giving her a soul today so we can send her away again."
Derek started to shake his head but Xander cut in. "It won't hurt Philip, not according to what I read. I refuse to have Willow this close to the kids."
Derek thought for a second then nodded. "I can understand your feelings on the subject, but I'm not sure pulling her soul back won't hurt him."
"It isn't pulling her soul back, it's pulling a random soul from thin air," Oz told him. "No harm to your mate." He slid off Xander's lap, pulling them both up. "We're going to eat, call when you're ready to do the spell."
Derek smiled, leaning back in his chair. Things really were getting back to normal. Oz was firmly in control of his family again. "All right."
Oz pulled Xander out of the office and own the short hall to the kitchen. "Food?" he called.
"There's a plate in the refrigerator," floated out of the walk-in freezer.
Xander pulled the plate out, handing it off so it could be microwaved. He grabbed a fork, looking down into the drawer.
Oz reached over and took the fork, shutting the drawer. "Come on." He pulled the plate out, letting his husband lead the way to the table. Oz picked up some of the pasta, feeding his husband. "Nothing's different," he assured him. "We're both not furry, but everything's the same."
Xander swallowed so he could answer. "I was just worried. You're quiet again."
"I love you, Xander, nothing's going to change that. Not a short absence where I meditated for over a month, not me going back to being more quiet. Not even our ex wanting to come back will tear us apart." He kissed the opening mouth. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah. I guess." Xander ate the next bite, looking out the window. "Everything seems different somehow."
Oz made Xander look at him. "Nothing's different. I promise, nothing's different with us." Xander nodded. "Why are you feeling off?"
"Not real sure," Xander said slowly. "I just feel like everything's going to go 'boom' with us under it."
"Then I'll catch it and fix it," Oz reassured him. Xander relaxed against his body. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah, the pressure snapped." Xander looked around. "Maybe that means *she's* fixed."
"Could," Oz agreed, taking a bite of food himself.
"Hey, that's my job!" Xander stole the fork, feeding his husband, carefully lifting the pasta and sauce up to Oz's mouth. "There, how's that?"
"Good. Needs something though." He stole a kiss. "Now it tastes right." Xander grinned. "Ah, cuteness."
"Was that forced?"
"Not totally," Oz admitted. "Can we finish breakfast so we can go finish reconnecting?"
"That's what it is!" Xander exclaimed, sitting up. "We're not as close." He kissed Oz gently, deeply. "Want to go walk and cuddle?"
"Sure." Oz took back the fork. "We'll steal a lunch and go picnic." He looked toward the stairs as he heard one of the kids stomping/running down them. "Hi, Brandon," he said softly, holding out his arms.
"DADDY!" Brandon screamed, hopping into his arms. "You're really, really back?" Oz nodded with a smile. "You're not an anglie?"
"Why would I be an angel?"
"He's been seeing them," Adam said as he walked out of the freezer. "We thought it best to wait for both of you to be here and be calm before we dealt with that issue."
"He's nice," Brandon said, giving his father another hug.
"I'm sure he is." He looked at the butler. "Can we have a take-out lunch?"
Xander tweaked his nose. "How about we all have lunch then your father and I get some time alone until supper?" The child thought, then nodded. "Okay. Where's the others?"
"We just get back. I come give Adam our list." He waved a crumpled piece of paper.
Adam took it, reading as he walked back to add the content to his grocery list. "There, we'll get you this when I go tomorrow."
Brandon nodded, wiggling until he got down. "I go tell others." He ran up the stairs screaming, "Daddy home!"
Oz looked at Xander, smiling. "Yeah, I'm home."
Xander nodded, giving him a hard, tight hug. "You're home."
Derek smiled as his family walked into the dining room, waving down the table. "Sit, tell us about your trip."
Oz shook his head as he pushed his seat closer to his mate so they could eat and cuddle at the same time. "Not much to tell, dad." Derek beamed. "The temple had been ransacked and burned about a year ago." Nick winced. "And the local army came back to finish off the village where the remaining priests were hiding. I spent the time meditating, rebuilding houses, and generally feeling lost." He squeezed the hand he held. "The local pack leader was nice once he figured out I wasn't happy as a wolf and that I wasn't coming in to challenge him for his pack; he helped me gain a lot of insight into my life and what I needed."
"Serena and I hunted," Xander told him quietly. Oz just nodded, turning to look at him. "That first night I wasn't changed fully. I still remember the hunt."
"The thrill of the chase, the rush as your prey fell," Oz added. "We hunted all three nights for the village. I understand, Xander, but did you want to stay that way?" His mate shook his head frantically. "No regrets then."
"No regrets," Xander agreed, squeezing their joined hands.
Oz looked across the table at the young woman he didn't know. "Hey. Oz."
"Flame," she said, waving. "Are you permanently fixed?"
Derek coughed delicately. "At moments of extreme emotional stress the wolf may return, but at no other time." He saw Xander opening his mouth and shook his head. "Son, we'll discuss that matter later also."
Oz looked between the two men then nodded. "The pack leader was much older than he looked." Derek smiled. "We'll deal."
"What about carriers?" Buffy asked.
"There's stuff in my backpack on that too." She nodded, glancing at Derek. "Yeah, I know," he told her, looking into her eyes. "We can tell." She nodded, going back to her dessert.
Nick dropped his fork, breaking the silence that sprang up. "Sorry," he mumbled.
Oz looked at him. "No big." He glanced around the table, seeing everyone looking at him. "Yes? More questions?"
Giles cleared his throat. "We were just wondering...."
"Everything's back to normal," Xander said quickly.
Oz squeezed his hand to give his mate comfort. "I'm back to human. The spell can be done when you're at an emotional peak." Everyone nodded and Derek started to smile. "We're back to normal too." Buffy grinned at that. "Ease some fears?"
Derek gave him a bright smile. "We were afraid things had changed too much and that your relationship would be harmed or changed somehow."
Xander stood up, getting free. "Derek, everyone, in this case, I've got it." He walked out.
Oz stood up. "We're reconnecting. He was worried too." He headed out after his husband, but Derek caught him by the arm. "We've got it, we just need some space together." He was released and tracked his husband out to the garden. He sat down beside him on the bench, taking his hand again, smiling when Xander switched hands so their rings were touching. "Want to take a weekend away? Just us?"
Xander nodded, frowning down the path that led to the guest house. "After she's gone. I feel a threat to the family from there, her."
Buffy cleared her throat as she walked toward them. "They applied the soul-sticky spell this morning."
Oz stood up, heading down the path, his mate right behind him. "Thank you, we'll talk soon," he called. They walked down there silently, each lost in their own thoughts and memories of the old Willow. Oz led the way into the guest house, heading for where he could hear the tv going. "Out," he growled as he stepped into the doorway.
Willow jumped up, looking at them in shock. "How? I...."
"Out," Oz repeated, slower this time, the growl a little more evident.
"You have a soul and you're not coming back into the house," Xander said from his position right behind Oz's left shoulder.
She shook her head. "No, I don't." She glanced up at the moon shining through the miniature windows. "You're not furry," she accused.
"None of us are now." Oz took a step closer. "They did the soul restoration, Willow. Out. I'm not letting you get near my family. Leave, now."
She shook her head. "I didn't feel the soul take."
Brandon walked in with Adam. "Anglie tell me she going." He switched hands so he could get between his fathers.
"Angels?" Willow asked with a frown. "Why are you talking to them?"
"Because he needed to," Adam said calmly. "Derek sent us to bring you both back to the house. He was going to evict her in the morning."
"But..." she started. She stopped when she saw the rage in her ex's eyes. "Tonight," she agreed. "I'll write the kids."
Xander shook his head but Oz stopped him. "I don't want them to have contact."
Oz shook his head slightly. "Writing is fine, we can monitor letters." He looked down at his son. "She's leaving again. You okay?"
Brandon nodded. "Angelie say it okay." He smiled at Adam. "We go make brownies while daddies talk?"
"Yes, we shall. Boys?"
"Coming," Oz said. He looked over his ex. "Later."
Xander waved, walking after him. "Later," he parroted. He stopped Oz in a dark patch on the path. "I don't feel better," he admitted. "I don't feel worse, but it's not over with."
"It won't ever be over with," Oz told him, giving him a short hug. "Not even after she's dead and gone." He saw the sad look and lowered his voice. "Xander, she was important to both of us when we were younger. I feel sad that she turned out like that. But I can't let it cloud what she's become. If we leave the rose colored glasses on, she'll hurt us more, maybe even drive a wedge between us. I don't want that to happen." He almost smiled as Xander lunged and clutched him tightly. "Shh, I don't want it to happen," he repeated. "I never want to be away from you. Never again. Not even the old Willow could take me away from you now."
Xander relaxed. "Nothing's really changed?" he whispered.
"Nothing at all." Oz nipped him on the shoulder. "Well, except that I find the taste of your skin more intoxicating now than I did before I left."
"Boys?" Derek called from the garden.
"Let's go tell everyone goodnight," Oz suggested, getting them moving, "and then I want to lay around and cuddle you. We'll spend tomorrow talking and with the kids, and this weekend we're running away."
"Sounds like a plan to me."
"But we go see *furniture*," Precious protested.
"And pretties," Xandra added, giving her fathers a pout. "We no go?"
"No, you guys can go," Xander sighed, leaning down to hug them, careful not to hurt Oz in the process since he was sitting in his husband's lap. "We'll be here when you get back."
"Sorry, dudes," Jon said as he pulled on a shirt and tucked it into his jeans. "We've had this planned for a few days. Even Adam agreed to come with us." He ruffled Timmy's hair. "We'll be back early though. They can reacquaint themselves with you guys later." He waved, herding the kids out of the room. "Junior's with Derek," he called before closing the door after him.
"Maybe we should escape today," Oz said, closing his eyes as he wrapped an arm around Xander's waist. "Let's nap instead."
"Nope, nap lag." Oz yawned, burying his nose into Xander's hair. "Why were you using my shampoo?"
"Because it smelled like you and I missed you," Xander told him, flipping over to nap on his chest. "Better."
"No fair, I was comfy," Oz complained, pulling Xander's limp body up so he could rebury his nose. "Comfy?"
"Very," Xander sighed.
"Good, 'cause I'm not moving."
Derek walked in a few minutes later with Junior, who was fussing, and stopped to smile at them. "Boys?" he called quietly, just in case they were resting and not sleeping. His son flipped him off behind his back. "I'm taking Junior outside," he whispered. He left them alone, still smiling, even after he ran into a muddy Nick in the hall. "They're asleep," he said, patting his friend on the shoulder.
Nick shook his head as he headed up the stairs. "Only those two can make him grin like that."
Oz woke up stiff and feeling crushed, but he was happy. He had missed the big, heavy butt that was resting on him. He looked around the room and wished for Precious' talent of telekinesis so he could have grabbed a book or a magazine, or even turned on the tv, but he contented himself with cataloging his mate's scent.
Which is when the problem arose.
Why did Xander smell like saline solution? He didn't wear contacts. No one in the house did. He considered the man on him, frowning at him. Xander was the sort that would simply go and get contacts and not tell anyone. As a matter of fact, he probably wouldn't want anyone to know that he needed glasses, he had said that he thought they were dorky when he was younger. Oz shook his head and sighed, giving his lover a squeeze.
"You awake?" Xander shook his head, shifting some, letting one of Oz's leg have circulation again. "Oh, pins and needles," he complained, trying to shake the feeling out.
Xander rolled off, grabbing the leg to rub the pain out. "I'm sorry. Next time you can lay on me." He gave the knee a little kiss and looked up, resting his head on the firm thigh. "What else did you want to do today?"
"I wanted to do more of that, but I couldn't."
"I'll be on the bottom. You can listen to my heartbeat."
"Nope, if we're going to nap, we're going to go up to our room and do it." Oz reached a hand down, running it through the dark hair. "What's wrong? You're still kinda hesitant to talk to me."
"I'm..." Xander looked down at his own legs and shook his head. "Just some mental bugers."
"Uh-huh," Oz said, nodding. "Why don't I believe that?" he asked gently, sitting up and pulling Xander up beside him. When nothing was said, he stole a kiss. "Do you want to help me figure you out?"
"Not really," Xander sighed, leaning into him. "I'm just not sure if I want to do some of the things we have planned."
"Grad school." Xander rolled his head so he could see the expression on Oz's face. "I want to do something with my life, but I finally realized that I still don't like school. The only reason I'm going is so that Derek will be proud of me." He looked down again. "And so that you will." He sneaked his hand into Oz's, looking for some comfort. "I'm happy with the way things are right now, I don't want them to drastically change."
"So don't," Oz said, sounding very reasonable. "Do you want to graduate?"
"Just finish out this year and I'll be happy," Oz told him, sneaking in another kiss. "After all, we're going to be around for a *long* time, Xander. We have to start making a few plans soon for that uber-future Adam warned us about."
"We'll be secure," Xander mumbled. "I want to be a live at home daddy though."
"Well, yeah, and you're good at it too." Oz gave his mate a smile after making Xander look at him. "Get your bachelor's. No one's going to make you go to grad school if you don't want to." Xander gave him a small smile. "I, on the other hand, am still not sure I really want to be a doctor anymore."
"We could slack for another year or two," Xander suggested, grinning like the imp Oz called him.
"We could," Oz agreed, relaxing. "I'd actually like that. Have a life without triple stresses for a while." Xander nodded, relaxing totally. "You want to tell your dad?"
Buffy walked in and gave each of them a hug before sitting on the other side of Xander afterwards. "Can I talk?"
"Sure," Oz offered. "We were just discussing taking a year or so off to remember how young we are."
"Yeah, that'd be nice." Buffy handed over a book, opening it for them to the page she had marked. "I came across this and I don't know what it is or if I should show it off to anyone else."
Xander read, cheering up a little more. "Definitely. Dad said he was taking Junior outside." He put the marker carefully back in place. "Yeah, go show this to Derek, make him read it if you have to. Who knows, maybe this person had a cure for the birthday curse."
"Yeah, let's hope so," Buffy said, picking up the book and walking out of the room with it.
Oz sighed, leaning into Xander's body. "It'll be good if she doesn't have to die."
"It'll be good to see her happy and not worrying again," Xander corrected. "She slept beside me. A lot, Oz," he confessed.
"I figured she would." Oz gave his leg a little squeeze. "We're her only real links to her past; back when she fought every night and felt really useful and right. Her coming to us was something we figured she would do."
"So it's okay?"
"Did you two have sex?"
"Nope, just gave her cuddles."
"Then it's perfectly fine. That's why you're such a good friend, Xander," Oz said, looking into his eyes. "Because you're willing to go that extra two feet for them." He smiled as he saw the outlines of contacts. "So, when were you going to tell me about needing glasses?"
"Um, never?" Xander guessed.
"I think you're perfect," Oz whispered. "Whether or not you need them. Even if you needed bifocals."
"Eww." Xander pulled his mate into his lap, giving his cheek a kiss. "I didn't think you were going to think less of me, I thought someone was going to pick on me," he explained. "But not you," he hurried in with.
"That's good, because I'd only pick on you if you picked out really gross frames." Oz stole a kiss then stood up and pulled Xander with him. "Come on, we should go figure out where the rest of the house is." Oz towed Xander behind him. "Then you're going to take me upstairs and make love to me."
"Okay," Xander said cheerfully.
Derek watched his sons check for him but he wanted to spend more time with his grandson so he kept them hidden in the roses, pointing out all the various types to him.
"Found you," Xander said cheerfully, diving into the patch to get kisses from the baby and to give one to his father's cheek. "We're going to go hide in our room, we just wanted to make sure that Buffy found you and that the world still existed for other people too."
Derek snorted then started to chuckle. "Well, I can guarantee the second part, as for the first, I haven't seen her yet."
"She found a reference to a Slayer that lived to be older and kept her powers," Oz said quietly. Derek's mouth fell open. "Yeah, that's what we thought."
"Actually, it mentioned that her powers had flickered out for a day or so and then come back stronger," Xander noted. "I was thinkin' maybe that he had some other info on the problem she's coming up on. Maybe even a way around the birthday thing." He shrugged and waved at his son, who giggled. "You be good. We're going up to our room to hide from people while we cuddle," he glanced at Oz, blushing slightly, "and more." He pulled Oz out of the patch of roses, heading for their room. "Oh, and Daddy? We're taking a year off of school," he called.
"Just call us slackers," Oz agreed.
Derek groaned and shook his head. "Of course you are. Neither one of you have been bitten by the professional bug." He kissed the top of the baby's head. "And that one, Junior, is an American Beauty," he taught as he pointed at the rose to their left.
Oz pulled Xander into the kitchen, stopping them to get something to drink before they went upstairs. Unfortunately, as they were making their escape, Adam and Serena walked into the kitchen.
"Daddies," she cried, running after them. "We have desks and beds!" She grabbed Oz's leg and held onto it as tightly as she could.
Oz looked at Xander, who was grinning. "Really," he said, sitting down, careful as always not to sit on top of her. "Why did you guys need new beds?"
"Because we get big," she said, nodding. "We needed big beds. Even baby get one."
"I think he's a little too little for a big bed," Xander told her.
"Nope, he get traveling bed."
"Playpen," Adam translated. He walked over to the bottom of the stairs, smiling at them. "Your mate had a wonderful idea, Oz, and I'm going to retire as the butler and start to teach them instead."
"No more eggies?" Serena asked, pouting at him. "We like eggies. You make good eggies. We like you."
"Oh, bloody hell," Adam muttered, walking away. "You tell her."
"We will," Oz called after him. He looked down at her. "He can't go until we can find a replacement for him, Serena. That'll take months." He kept in a grin at the grumbling coming from the kitchen.
"He'll have to do both for a while," Xander added, giving her hair a gentle tug. "What were you guys gonna do this afternoon?"
"Cuddle you?" she asked, shifting so she was wrapped tighter around her father's leg.
Oz nodded. "So I can tell." He looked over at his husband, who was smiling. "Later?"
"Yup. After supper."
"We no eat yet," she scoffed. "It not even nap time."
"Oh, nap time," Xander and Oz said together, giving each other smiles.
Xander snuck up on his mate, grinning as he dived on top of him and grabbed a long, hot, passionate kiss. "Got you," he whispered, squeezing his prize.
"Yeah, me too," Oz said, winding an arm around Xander's waist. "So, what should we do?"
"Um....cuddle?" Xander suggested, giving him a bigger grin.
"Well, yes, we could," Oz said, screwing his face up in an attempt to do the Xander thinking-face. "Or we could do something with these," he suggested, putting a hand on the hard cock his husband had. "Maybe even something that required both cuddling and those."
"Hmm, so we could," Xander agreed, wiggling to get up. He stripped, putting on a short show for his mate. He ran over to make sure the door was locked and came bouncing back, hopping back into bed. "Your turn."
"But I was watching the show," Oz complained, getting up and turning to face the bed. "I'm not used to stripping for you. Or anyone."
"But you'd look so *hot* doing it," Xander whispered, getting up on his knees, teasing the clothed nipples by scratching over them. "Please show me? I want to see." He looked up, giving his mate a sexy little half-smile. "Pretty please? I missed seeing you naked and sweaty," he licked his bottom lip, "and hot and bothered," another unsubtle scratch down the hard chest, "and giving me those looks that you give me when you want to throw me across the bed and claim me."
Oz shivered. "Okay, I give." He leaned down, taking a long, slow kiss. "You missed the sex more?"
"No, silly," Xander whispered, leaning against Oz's chest. "I missed all of you. Yeah, the sex was a part of the whole missing thing, but I missed smelling you in the morning before I'm really awake, and I missed talking with you, and cuddling. Let's not forget the cuddling. But I missed you most of all," he looked up, "I missed you being here."
"Oh, babe," Oz sighed, pulling his husband in for a hug. "I didn't want to go, but you were right, I needed to go. We needed me to go. I'm sorry it took so long." He kissed the top of Xander's head. "Now," he pushed him back some, "let me try to do this as well as you did."
"Daddies!" floated through the door.
"Not right now," they called together. Then they grinned at each other.
"Granpa say you have to come now. You have visitors. Bad ones. Unclie Nick is holding him so he doesn't kill anybody."
"Shit," Oz muttered, picking up Xander's outer clothes and handing them to him, humming in appreciation as his lover didn't hesitate to go underwearless. He unlocked the door, following Precious downstairs, Oz putting an arm out in front of Xander to stop him from moving. "Who let you in?" he asked Willow, not letting either one of them move.
"I have some information that you need," she said calmly, nodding a greeting at Xander. "I really need to talk to Giles though."
"Tell us, we'll get the message across," Xander told her, crossing his arms on his chest. "What's so important that you risked getting killed by coming back here?"
She swallowed. "I saw Ethan in town. He was talking to himself about why his spell went wrong. A spell to warp you, Xander. He thought it was Giles that ended it, but he couldn't be sure and he's going to go onto something bigger. He was buying stuff."
Oz nodded. "We'll tell him. Anything else you know?"
"Just that he was having things sent to the warehouse district. The saleswoman looked surprised at that. Not the one near the water, the one closer to the edge of the city." Oz nodded again. "Oh, and he's got someone's credit cards. Someone named Kat."
Xander's eyes narrowed. "How do you know?"
"He said his helper was paying for it, and that's what he called her, said she was a darling little person." She shrugged. "That's all I know, but I thought it was important enough to come tell you. You'll tell him?"
"I'll tell everyone," Xander told her. "We don't face threats alone. A problem for one is a house problem."
Oz looked up at him. "It took you this long to get that phrase memorized?"
"No, it took me this long to realize it was true," Xander corrected, uncrossing his arms so he could wrap them around Oz's waist. "Thank you, Willow. You have the page addy?" She nodded. "I'll update it every few months. Good bye."
"Bye," she said quietly, turning and leaving.
Derek walked out of the hall. "It took you this long to learn that lesson?"
"Hey, I'm a slow learner, deal with it," he said dryly. Until Oz pinched him. "Sorry, only in personal lessons."
"Goot point," Derek said, heading past them up the stairs. "Giles was called as soon as she showed up. Come up to the library, boys, so we can make a plan. It will take him about half an hour to get back here."
"We're never going to get reconnection sex," Xander muttered, letting Oz go so he could walk up the stairs. "I really want a vacation now."
"Oh, we're still running away together soon," Oz said, pinching the tight cheek in front of him. "Want to finish getting dressed?"
"Nope, I'm comfy." Xander glanced behind him as he stopped on the stairs, sticking out his tongue. "Underwear is overrated and an inconvenience. I'll prove it to you later."
"Boys!" Derek called from the library. "Sound still carries through the heat registers down here."
"Yay," they called back, together as always.
Giles got up and started to pace. "Why can't Ethan Rayne go away and stay there?"
"Because no one's eaten him yet?" Xander suggested. He flinched at the glare. "Sorry, but it's true. And maybe something we can fix."
"The Legacy doesn't do that, Xander," Derek admonished. "No matter how tempting it is some days." He caught Giles' wrist on his next pass. "This is as much about me this time as it is you, Rupert. I got quite a few nasty letters after I broke my mother and him up. Even she got a few. Of course, William took care of those for her."
"Not well enough I'm afraid," Giles sighed as he retook his seat. "How should we deal with this matter? Frontal attack or not?"
"Or both?" Oz suggested. Everyone looked at him. "A frontal attack might distract him."
Xander snapped his fingers and sat up straighter. "Giles, you said you found a portal. Could that have been him?"
"Indeed, it may have been," Giles said, leaning back. "Actually, the timing would make it seem that it was all him. All those sleeping problems you and Buffy had. All the other problems that started to happen in this house, the unraveling feeling we all got."
"Some of that was Oz being gone," Buffy reminded him. "And my not wanting to miss out on any time." Her Watcher patted her hand. "Thanks. Did they show you the book?"
"Yes, dear, and I'm starting a search for her through the Chronicles. If a Slayer by that name existed, we'll find her."
"Aren't there missing parts?" Xander asked. "When we were still back at the high school you used to complain about them not being complete."
"We're starting a search through the Legacy database also," Derek told him. "We've been watching the girls for a while now too."
Oz shook his head. "I think we should look up the author, see what else he's written. That passage looked odd, but it seemed really familiar somehow."
"We'll let you do that," Derek decided, patting the top of the table. "Back to the other harsh business at hand, please."
"What about Kat?" Xander asked. "If that was her, wouldn't her husband be with her? Or at least near her?"
"No," Derek said, shaking his head. "Chaos isn't his path. His is one of greed but not one of confusion." He looked over at Nick, who shrugged. "As for Katherine, if that's the same one, we're going to have many problems with this assignment. She grew up in this house from the time she was eight."
"Yeah, I guess it'd be like one of our kids going bad." He picked up Oz's hand to hold. "Want us to do that part?"
"If you wouldn't mind," Nick said quietly. "I can't."
"Then I will," Oz said. "I've never met her, it'll be okay for me." He looked around the table but no one objected. "Got a plan?"
"Figuring out his plans would be a great starting spot." Giles leaned forward, stretching his back. "Oh, that hurt," he complained as it popped.
"You should get that fixed," Buffy said, standing up so she could get behind him and work on it. "Yup, needs realigned. I can do that tonight."
"Thank you, dear," he said as she sat back down. "I may take you up on that offer."
Derek shook his head as he turned to look out the windows. "Boys, I want you to research Kat, anything you can find on her or her husband. We've been keeping a tight rein on her, she didn't complain about it until the day before she eloped though. And I want to know about this husband of hers. Nick, I want you to research Mr. Rayne, starting by asking William for what he has on him. Rupert, I want you to help him." Everyone but Buffy and Alex got up, heading for the control room. "Women," he said, turning back around to look at them. "Alex, I want you to take Oz's suggestion and look for the author of that passage. I want to know who the author was, what he was, and why he knew these things, as well as if there was anything to that passage. Buffy, since you'll look the hardest, I want you to work with Alex, but to listen to her." Buffy frowned. "I know, it will be hard to restrain yourself to do things like sleep, but I want you to listen to her. Let Alex help you find this out."
Buffy nodded. "Okay, boss." She looked over at Alex. "Want to start in the control room or in a living room reading?"
"Why don't you go read and mark things, I'll start with what everyone else has pulled up about that book," Alex suggested. Buffy nodded and left the room, heading for her designated reading spot. "Are you sure this is wise?" Alex asked her husband softly.
"Yes, I am," Derek said, giving her a faint smile. "She's the most motivated to find the answer, she'll find every mention of this person and that Slayer in existence. This time, we harness the energy instead of wasting it."
"If you say so." Alex got up and headed into the control room, coming back after a few minutes. "No working stations. I'm going to hog your office."
Derek sighed and relaxed, sure he could take five minutes to contemplate the young woman that he had watched grow up. He needed to know what he and Nick had done that had warped her so.
Xander tapped on the hotel room door, nodding at the woman answering it. "Kat, Derek sent me." She let him in, closing the door behind her. "We alone?"
"Mostly. My husband's in the bathroom." She waved at the couch. "What does Doctor Rayne want?" She sat, looking him over. "You look much better than you did the last time I saw you."
"Yeah, you too." He cleared his throat. "Want me to be honest?" She nodded, giving him a smile. "Ethan Rayne worries us. We know he's after Derek, and Giles, and we're going to stop him. But Dad didn't want you in the middle."
She sighed and waved a hand in the air. "Xander, I have no intention of hurting the house." She got comfortable. "Ethan is a mere convenience to me at the moment. The person I want to get is in this city and I want them. They're not affiliated with the house, and I'm not really planning on letting him work anything against the house."
"Too late," he told her. "His last spell worked part-way but it was harmful. I didn't sleep for over a week. I got tense enough to almost snap because I didn't have an anchor when he did it." He turned his head to cough. "Sorry, I've got a little bit of a cold." He blinked. "Kat, don't try to work things on me. I know when people do it. I used to date a powerful witch."
She snickered. "It's not me, it's my husband. He's trying to protect me. He really hates the Legacy." She looked toward the bathroom. "Honey, don't hurt him, he'll bring the house down on us."
Xander nodded as the feeling of power around him went away. "Thank you." He looked around the room. "You've done well for yourself."
"You too," she noted. "Are you happy?"
He nodded. "Very. My mate, my family, my adopted father. And I'm not going to let anyone screw with them. Not even for a decent revenge."
"I'm not going near the house."
"Yeah, but you're funding someone who is. If you let him work on the house, Derek's made it clear that he's going to have to consider you a threat. And we both know he's not going to send Nick out after you."
"Yeah, I know," she said quietly, looking down at her lap. "Xander, truth? I really don't want Ethan around anymore."
"Hey, gift wrap him and give him to Rupert. We'll turn him over to the sorcerers in the Legacy and let them judge him. He's a Chaos sorcerer, we're more than happy to do something to keep him from doing more harm. After all, we did it to Willow, we can do it to him."
She snorted. "I'm not so sure of that. He has some very powerful people behind him."
"Kat, this is the Legacy we're talking about. We know *all* about what he has behind him and we have better."
"Point." She gave him a small smile. "I'll make sure his spell fails and that he's found by one of you in the next few days." She stood up and led him to the door. "Will Derek back me in my want of revenge?"
"I don't know. You'll have to ask him personally. If it's who I think it is, maybe. He's gonna be torn though."
"Good point." She kissed his cheek. "Be safe. Tell him what I said. Tell him I'll call on him at school soon." She let him out the door, leaning against it. "Dear?" she called. "Never screw with the Raynes." Victor Arkadi walked out of the bathroom. "You knew better than to mess with his family. That boy's something he'll fight for. Even more than he did the Legacy."
"Yes, I know," he said smoothly, walking over to give her a kiss. "I refuse to tangle with the Raynes ever again, but I want your mother. Even if I have to go through them."
"Oh, I doubt Derek's going to harbor her. Not after what she almost did to his house." She kissed him lightly. "Just leave Xander and that part of his family alone. There's something strange about him." She walked past him, missing his sneer. When she looked at him again, he had a normal, pleasant smile on his face.
Xander shook his head as they finished their conversation. He headed down to his car. Derek had to know about this.
Derek groaned and held his head. "This is not goot," he said, looking up at his son. He looked over at Nick, who was slumped on the couch. "Do you have any ideas?"
"We can't do it," Nick reminded him. "She's like our daughter, Derek. I can't harm her, you can't do anything against her."
Xander cleared his throat. "Gee, but I've only met her twice and Oz has seen her once I think. And then there's the anxious Buffy around here and Rupert. If it has to happen, we can be that way."
"Yes, son, but even the thought of hurting her farther makes me ill. Much the same as I would if I had to harm one of your children if they went bad."
"Point. So let us do it."
Derek shook his head. "Son, I'd have to know."
"No you won't. You'd only have to know if we screwed up."
Nick nodded, giving his brother a bland look. "That's a good idea, but afterwards, I probably couldn't speak to you. Ever."
"Hmm," Derek sighed, looking at his phone. "I could call in another house. There's a precedent for letting another house take care of a rogue member when you feel you couldn't."
"Which would look really bad for the head of the organization," Xander pointed out. He sat down and crossed his feet. "Dad, let us. We're not going to hurt her. We're going to block her, and Victor, and then we're going to get Ethan out of our way. We can do it, all you have to do is to let us."
"Son, that would be one of the hardest things I've ever done. I can't let you harm her."
"Daddy, not going in that direction. Binding maybe, but not harming."
"I don't think that Rupert's that strong," Nick said.
"Oh, but there is the whole principle of working in tandem. I'm learning magic, binding her from doing harm to the house members wouldn't actually harm her so we could let Derek help us with that." Derek nodded, giving him a brighter smile. "And then we go after Arkadi, while she's confused and fighting it."
"Which is an excellent plan tactically," Nick agreed. "Could you do that much, boss?"
"Definitely. Binding her from doing harm to the Legacy is something I could gladly take part in."
"What about who she's here to get revenge against?" Xander asked quietly.
"I'm staying out of it," Derek decided after a few second's thought. "She's not a member anymore so the binding wouldn't go against any plans she might make."
"I would gladly help her," Nick offered. "I still want to have a talk with Rachel about a few things that she's done to us."
"No," Derek said firmly. "This is between her and her daughter. We're staying out of it." He stared at Nick until he nodded and looked away. "Goot. Son, get Rupert and let's plan this. I think it's time that we let this happen."
Xander got up and headed out of the office, going for Giles' room. "Oh, Ripper," he called as he got to the door, smirking as Giles opened it. "Gee, Dad thinks that we should do a few things, would you like to hear the plan?" He walked in and closed the door, grinning. "You're gonna like this one."
Giles wrapped the ribbon the last time, handing it over to Derek to seal with wax. "It's done," he said, hugging Xander. "How do you think your mate's doing?"
"Just fine," Xander said with a secret smile.
Oz busted through the door to Ethan's work space, leveling the tranq gun at him. "Up," he ordered, bringing enough of the wolf forward to scare the sorcerer slightly. "My husband wants to talk to you about his lack of sleep a few weeks ago." He waved the man out, letting Nick put him into the back of the Jaguar.
Giles stared down at his oldest enemy, his face showing nothing but pity and cruelty. "Hello, Ethan," he said, kicking him in the side. "Having fun were you?"
"Much," he gasped, "until you bollixed it up again." He rolled away, getting to his feet. "You don't do this, Ripper, this isn't you."
"No, you're right, this is my job," Oz said, walking into the clearing and cracking his knuckles. "After all, you messed with *my* family." He looked over the aging body. "You look way older than the last time we saw you. Not having a good time?"
"I was doing fine until you people took my Barbara away from me!" He glared at Giles. "You have no idea how happy that woman made me. I'd have given up most of my magic for her."
"Yes, well, that's not gonna happen," Xander said from his seat on a fallen log, munching another bite of popcorn. "I may think William's a stuffy guy some days, but it beats having you around my kids."
"Ours," Oz corrected.
"Ours," Xander agreed, shooting him a smile. "Now then, should we get down to business, or do you need more playtime, Giles?"
"No, I think I've had enough. He's obviously gotten a lot of bruises." He looked Ethan over. "You have a choice. I can vent the rest of my pent-up rage on you or you can help us by stopping Victor Arkadi from harming this house. If you help us, we'll let you go with only the promise that you never come near this family again. If you don't.... well, let's just say that the boys are going to go back to their honeymooning behavior and leave you with me." He looked over the frail- seeming body again. "Your choice, old lad."
"Ripper, you're an absolute git," Ethan spit. "What do I have to do?"
"We're fighting him," Giles said, moving closer. "He's taking control of someone that most people in this house feel paternal towards. We also know that he's not going to stop at his little revenge. He'll hurt her, and then he'll move on and try to get us again. We want to stop him. You have the *perfect* contacts for that."
"He consorts with higher demons than I do," Ethan pointed out, stepping away from Giles, only to be tripped by Xander. He sighed as he looked up at the man who used to be his friend. "What can I do?"
"You can call on this one," Giles said, handing over a piece of paper. "I believe he owes you. I also believe that he'll have much...fun with Victor. Much more than he would have if he stayed with us."
Ethan looked at the paper and nodded. "Well, you've done your homework. But he won't come for this. He'll know. He doesn't operate that way."
Xander smiled and stood up, handing his bowl of popcorn over to his mate before bending down and grabbing Ethan's shirt to stand him back up. "Bet us. We've met him, he's *desperate* for a lackey right now because he screwed up with another soul." He walked around the man, dusting him off. "Now do you get it?"
"I get to score major points by offering someone that I can't rightfully offer?" Ethan guessed.
"But you can," Xander said, holding out an envelope. "It's amazing what a raid into a hotel room will find."
Ethan looked inside at the hair and blanched. "This place doesn't work like that."
"Who said we were working with the house's knowledge," Xander whispered in his ear. "You're messing with my pack. *He's* messing with my pack, including my father Derek." Ethan swallowed, then nodded. "And my daddy doesn't have to ever find out," he sighed, patting the sorcerer on the back. "All you have to do is suggest it, Rayne. You don't have to *give* him the hair. All you have to do is suggest that Victor Arkadi is looking for more power. Let the demons go after him for it."
"Which doesn't technically violate any rules," Giles pointed out. "We don't get in trouble, you score points with the demon hierarchy. We all win."
"Yes, well, I guess I could contact him for a chat and all," Ethan said carefully as he backed away from the three men. "Can I go now?"
"Of course," Giles said amiably. "Never come back, Ethan. If I so much as think I feel you around here, I'll come after you. After all, I doubt you want a werewolf pack to come after you?" Xander and Oz both waved and he blanched. "I thought not. Good bye, Ethan. It's been a nice chat but it's time for you to go." He pointed at the path, watching as the sorcerer hurried down it.
"Boys," Derek called, walking into the clearing. "That isn't how the Legacy deals with things."
"Ah, but it's not us doing it. And I have no doubt that he'll find a few reasons to go after Arkadi once he thinks on it," Giles said, giving Derek a smile. "It's all in his head, Derek, we're not doing anything but giving him a possible way of escaping the city with his powers intact."
"Yes, but the Legacy doesn't condone that act."
"So go stop him and tell him we're wrong," Xander said, walking over to give his father a hug. "Nick's going to do that, apologize for us and everything." He stole his bowl back, looking down inside. "You ate it all."
"You had more than half," Oz pointed out. He wrapped his arms around Xander's waist. "Got it covered, Derek, relax. No compromising of the house."
Nick waved the sorcerer over, opening the necklace as he stepped close enough. "You've never seen us or heard of us," he said softly as the ferry pulled closer to the dock. "There's no such place as the Legacy, no such woman as Barbara Rayne, no such man as William Sloan or Derek Rayne." He closed it, watching for the sorcerer to come back to himself. "Thanks for visiting the Luna Foundation," he said cheerfully, shaking his hand. "Next time you want to tour the artwork, just call and we'll set up an appointment." He got out of the way so Ethan could get on the ferry.
He even stood there as William and Barbara drove past, watching as the sorcerer looked at the car with great confusion.
Sometimes his brother could be a sneaky little guy.
Derek walked into the house to find William sipping tea in the kitchen. "Oh, dear," he sighed dramatically. "Boys, the ogre's here."
"Yes, and he came to warn you that Arkadi is actually living and he's in town." He set down his tea cup. "What was Nick doing with that man?"
"Erasing all knowledge of us," Xander said as he walked in. "That locket downstairs that mesmerizes works well for that job." He hugged his grandmother as she walked in. "My Oz is back," he said happily before jogging up the back stairs.
"And he's kidnapping his husband as soon as all this is over for a few vacation days," Oz said as he walked in, kissing Barbara's cheek. "Thanks for taking care of my baby. Dad? It all good now?"
"Yes, Oz, it's fine," he said, shaking his head. "A bit unorthodox, but it's technically fine." He waited until everyone else had left before leaning down and telling William exactly what was going on.
William saluted him with his cup. "It's technically within the rules. And it's imaginative, I'll give them that. Warn them not to step that close to the line again."
"Oh, I will," Derek said as he sat down. "This was a special circumstance. Mr. Rayne had worked magic on Xander and the rest of the house. That's what all the lack of sleeping was about."
"Then I'll gladly let Ethan take care of Arkadi," William said with a smile. "After all, we've all ridden that fine line, Derek, and sometimes it's necessary to avoid the bloodshed."
"Yes, but will the block of the knowledge hold?"
"Yup." Oz walked down the stairs, heading for the refrigerator. "Giles just made sure of it." He nodded at William. "We carefully scripted this part. The next part is all this house's." He filled a big glass with ice water and headed back up there. "I'm getting cuddles. If you really want to yell, at least give us an hour. We haven't had much time alone."
Derek shook his head, eyes closed. "I'm ignoring this whole incident."
"You can't," William reminded him. "Just put it in a closed file. No one but another Precept that takes over for you will ever know." He looked around the kitchen. "Where's the kids?"
"In town. Adam's agreed to start working for us in the capacity of a teacher. He's found us a replacement butler already, he's training him by shopping with him and the children." He smiled. "Oh, did you hear? The developer blew his trailer up."
"Yes, we heard. We also heard that you had filed an injunction that morning. That made the Council wary until they called to check on the case. Once they were told Xander wasn't involved, they decided to continue to give your house enough rope to hang itself."
"Yes, well, I'll gladly let someone else handle all the mundane chores. I had no idea that being named lead house would make all of the activity in the area desist."
"Yup, that's why I traveled."
"Eww," Nick said as he walked in. "Don't do that, Derek. You remember how much you hated it when he suddenly showed up." He looked around. "Speaking of which, was this a planned trip?"
"No. This was a trip in warning and Barbara wanted to visit the grandkids." William smiled at Nick. "How are you feeling, Mr. Boyle?"
"Bored but I'll be going to New Delhi in a few days to work with their new security system. Oh, and Derek, your mother's in your office, watching the wedding tape. She doesn't look very happy."
"I'll go talk to her." He got up, squeezing Nick's shoulder as he walked past the younger man. "Go check on the rest of the work being done, please."
"Sure, bossman." Nick looked at William. "Are we in deep?"
"Not really. Actually, Kristen suggested as much should be done at the Precept's meeting last week when this thing with Victor was found out. All the other Precepts agreed that something had to be done and getting another, outside, person to do it would be best. Though, if he lives, we want him."
"He may live," Nick said with a grin. "He may even come begging for help."
"At which point, I'm to take him back to the Geneva Archival house. Most of the magic-users in the Legacy will be there for a meeting in three weeks. We'll confine him then."
"Cool." Xander peeked around the end of the stairs. "What's wrong with grandmom?"
"She's not feeling well," William said. "How are you?"
"The spell finally worked," Nick said, giving his brother a smile. "No more furry brothers or Oz's. Or even furry kids." William smiled at them both. "And, I gotta admit, bro's getting much better at some things recently. He and Oz reconnected almost immediately when he came back."
"Not quite," Xander admitted with a blush. "Um, bro, do you...."
"Derek's bedside table," William said, getting up to pour himself some more tea. "He always keeps a stash of things in there." He ignored the shocked looks. "Trust me, Xander. He won't mind."
"Okay. Um, Nick?"
"I'll tell him you raided. Go finish reconnecting." He waited until they were alone to turn on William. "How do you know?"
"Because, my boy, I was on that hall with him." William smiled at the shocked look. "What? It was the seventies, things were much different back then."
"Does your wife know that?"
"Oh, yes. I told her a few years back, one night while I was drunk. She said she knew that already but it was nice that I could finally admit it." William smirked as Nick left, holding his laughter in so no one knew how much fun he was having.
Derek walked into his office and immediately went to his mother's side, pulling her into his arms. "Mother, what's wrong?" he asked.
"One of your half-sisters has decided that I should take responsibility for Winston's lack of control," she said quietly. "She's suing the family for part of the fortune."
"Let her have some," Derek said. "We have enough."
"Yes, but if we do that, then who knows how many of the others will come around?" She faced her son. "Derek, I never wanted you to know about them. I always held that they were Winston's problem and that I shouldn't even have to know about them."
"Yes, but they are my half-brothers and sisters, mother. I could no more ignore them than I could Ingrid." She glared at him. "Mother, I've known for a few years now that she was my half-sister. It doesn't mean that I love her less, or that you and father did." He brushed a few of the tears away. "All I'm saying is that we can't judge her motives without talking to her. Maybe she's in desperate need of the money and we can settle this without bringing the courts into it."
"I'm going to leave that up to you. I do not want to know about your arrangements with any of these other children."
"That I can do," Derek assured her. "I won't tell you at all. I'll tell William so you can find out if you want to, but I won't directly tell you. Do you have a way of contacting her?" She pulled an envelope out of her purse and gave it to him. "Thank you. Let me do this now. Why don't you bring the tape up to your usual room? There's a VCR and TV in there I believe."
"Thank you, son, for understanding." She kissed his cheek and left him alone, taking the tape of Xander's and Oz's wedding with her.
Derek waited until she had been gone for a few minutes before going over to his desk and sitting down. He pulled out the letter inside, dialing the number on it. "Hello, is Clarisa DuMontre there? This is Derek Rayne."
Xander peeked around the edge of his father's bedroom door, sliding inside and shutting the door. He flipped on the lights so he wouldn't trip as he walked over to the bed, sitting on it and pulling open the drawers. He shuddered at what he saw and got up to look in the other side.
Then he jumped because someone opened the door.
"Sorry," Oz said. "Smelled you in here, wanted to know why."
Xander held up the tube he had found, shutting the drawer. "William said we could steal some since we're out."
Oz walked over to look at the tube. "Wow. I never really thought Derek would need to use this stuff." He shrugged. "I guess it's like thinking of your parents as sexually active."
"Sorry, babe." He pulled Xander up, giving him a probing kiss. "Come on, we don't want to make a mess in here. Derek would never forgive us if we had sex on his bed." He tugged on Xander's free hand, pulling him out of the room and up to their's. Once the door was shut and locked, Oz turned to look over his mate's body. "I believe you were naked earlier?"
Xander tossed over the tube and stripped as fast as he could, kneeling in front of his husband's body to help undress part of him, working on swallowing him down as soon as he got Oz's cock free.
Oz smiled and tugged on the dark hair. "Let me lie down first," he begged. "I don't want to end up on the floor."
"But a hard surface would be a good thing," Xander protested, allowing himself to be pulled up but helping Oz with the rest of his clothes. "Get on the bed," he ordered.
Oz smiled but he did as he was told, letting Xander work out all of his built-up energy. He was still smiling as he came down his husband's throat, just floating blissfully on the calm he felt.
Xander took the tube, starting to stretch himself for his mate, kneeling across Oz's body to make sure he could see what he was doing through his half-lidded eyes. "I'm gonna feel so *tight* around you," he hissed as he spread two fingers in himself. "You're going to wish that you would never leave this bed."
"Too late," Oz sighed, grabbing him around the waist to pull Xander down and kiss him. "Relax, we'll get there. I promise we will. No one's going to interrupt us. Dad'll make sure of it."
"Yes, we will," Xander said as he leaned down for a kiss. "Or else Dad'll lose his mind when I do you at dinner tonight."
"No food in the bedroom," Oz complained. "The champagne was enough, we don't need to do the dining room."
"But it could be fun," Xander protested. "Big, warm wood. Hard surface underneath me." He looked up after getting a poke in his side. "What?" he asked innocently, his grin getting mischievous.
"No," Oz said, drawing out the word.
"Living room? On the big, soft, comfy leather couch?"
"No." He stopped and thought for a second. "Well, okay, but only if we have the house to ourselves."
"Cool. How about the office again?"
"Your father would kill us this time. He's still complaining about having to replace the couch in there after last time."
"But you always look so *good* in the light in there," Xander said, giving his husband a short lick down the cheek.
"Maybe," Oz said, then shook his head. "Derek would really kill us for that."
"For what?" Xander asked, starting to nibble on his mate's lips. "What naughty thought did you just have?"
"His desk chair," Oz whispered, kissing his husband and pulling his body in closer. "I get really warm thinking about you in that chair."
"Hmm, we can do that," Xander agreed, trying to get up. "Come on!" he said, trying to pull Oz up but he resisted. "No?"
"Not today. I'm pretty sure your father's in there right now. That's where he usually hides from William."
"Yeah, point," Xander said, lying across Oz's lap. "Maybe we can sneak down there tonight."
"Maybe it'll happen when it does," Oz countered.
"That'd be kinda cool," Xander agreed, turning his head to smile at his husband. "What should we do now? You're not ready."
"Yeah, but you're tense," Oz complained, pushing him off and straddling the wiggling hips. "Hold still, let me work on your back." He worked over the tense muscles, getting turned on as his husband started to purr. He leaned down to get next to his husband's ear and whispered, "You sound happy, babe."
"I am," Xander agreed, wiggling under the still hands. "Can you do more?"
"Yeah, I can do as much as you want." Oz grabbed some of the lotion off the bedside table and went back to his backrub, smoothing and stroking the hard body.
Derek tapped on his son's door, smiling at the disheveled, naked man that answered it. "Oz, next time, please ask before you two raid my stash of lubricant." He walked in and pulled a chair over to the bed, sitting beside Xander. "Son, have I told you about my father?"
"That he was a cold and ignoring sort that liked to fool around." Xander asked. "Nothing more."
"Well, yes, he was that," Derek admitted with a small smile. "And one of the children he sired has run into a lot of monetary problems recently."
"Do you need that stuff that you gave me after the wedding back? I can have all the investments pulled and leave you most of it if you can give me a week," Xander said, sitting up and reaching for his backpack and planner.
"No," Derek said, stopping him. "There's more than enough money in the family for me to manage this without taking your dowry from you." He patted the side of his son's face. "As I just found out, you have three aunts and an uncle that are still living. They've been in contact with each other, apparently my father picked a few friends to sleep with when he cheated." Oz groaned. "Yes, well, they seem to get along, but they wanted to be recognized as being Winston's children officially. That isn't a problem really, but I wanted to tell you before you read it in the papers tomorrow."
"Hey, it's not their fault your dad did that to their mothers and grandmom. They never asked to be the children of an affair. Are we giving them much?"
"Not really. One needs money for her own child's operation. It appears she has a tumor around her spinal cord." Oz hissed. "Yes, and it's an expensive proposition since the person that could do it and hopefully save some of the feeling and movement in the little girl's body is here in the US."
"Are they coming here?"
"No, they'll be going to LA. Did you want to meet her?"
"If she wanted to, I wouldn't mind. I mean, we kinda do have a little in common." He reached out to pull his father closer when he backed away. "I meant that Winston didn't know her as a child and you didn't know me either. You got lucky though because you got a chance to try and figure me out," he finished with a smile.
"Yes, I am very lucky in that," Derek said, hugging him. "Thank you, son, for not being prejudice against her."
"Hey, this is family. Something I'm just getting used to, but it's supposed to be one of the most important things to people. Help her, dad, I'll understand. And if you need that stuff back, just ask," he whispered in his father's ear as he hugged him.
Derek pulled back and shook his head but he was smiling. "Son, really, we have enough money to fund a small country for a few years. The Rayne fortune has been building for many generations. There's enough in the family to dress you and your family in different jewels daily and still have enough left over to fund a small country for at least a year."
"Wow," Oz said, blinking at him. "Really a lot of riches. Really shiny picture."
"Xandra would love it," Xander quipped. "She lives for shiny and pretty things."
"Yes, and I'm sure she'll have plenty from my mother," Derek said, standing up. "Go back to being together. I'm sure you'll be taking next weekend away?"
"Oh, yeah," they said together.
"We need it," Xander said with a slight grin. He held up the mashed tube. "Here. We saved you some."
"Keep it," Derek groaned. "And go buy more. You'll definitely need some soon." He put the chair back and left them alone.
"Very cool of him to acknowledge and help those other kids," Oz said as he slid back into bed. "Do we have any left?" He picked up the tube.
"A few drops," Xander said, rolling over to kiss his mate, licking over his lips as he pulled back. "Maybe enough even."
"Hmm, we really have to go shopping tonight. We're going to need a lot of lube."
"Very cool," Xander whispered as he moved down to suckle on a spot that he knew drove Oz insane.
Derek looked up as his mother tapped on his bedroom door, waving her inside and putting his book aside. "Did he tell you?"
"That one of them had a sick grandchild," she admitted, sitting on the side of his bed. "What else did they really want?"
"To be formally acknowledged as his children. I agreed to sponsor her into the country for her daughter's medical treatment. The others didn't want money, but one does have a rebellious teenager that she threatened to send here. She thinks that you were living the old ways, mother, but they do understand." He patted her hand. "The one leading the others admitted that she probably would have done the same thing back then."
She nodded. "They really didn't want any of his money?"
"No, only that one that needs it for her child."
"Did you tell them I'm sorry?"
"Mother, they understood how things are in upper class families. They're all from a similar background; their mothers did the same thing." She smiled at that. "It's all going to be fine. They would like to meet you sometime soon. Maybe get a picture of Father for reference. Probably to tell their children what a philandering ass he was, but they don't mind."
She laughed lightly. "Thank you, son. I knew you'd deal with this for me." She stood up. "Where's Nick?" she asked, looking around.
"He's in his room, Mother. We don't force him to come in here. He's not ready for that yet."
"Ah." She patted him on the top of his head. "We'll figure it out, son, all of us will sometime." She left him alone, letting him go back to his reading.
"One can only hope that everything works out," Derek said, smiling at his book. "It should all be fine, if only Nick would come to me."
TO BE CONTINUED...