Addams Family - The College Years.

Xander grunted as he shoved the trunk through Buffy's door, leaning against the wall to catch his breath. "You know, these clothes of yours seem to be gaining weight." The rest of his witty comment was swallowed when he saw that they weren't alone in the room. "Hey," he said, waving. "Xander, one of her old friends."

"I'm Buffy," she said, shaking the other girl's hand, inspecting her. "You're not demonic or anything, right?" she asked hesitantly, remembering quite well her first roommate at college.

"No, are you?" the other girl said, her voice very cool and hard. "I'm Wednesday." She waved at Xander. "Do you need help?"

"No, he can get the last two bags," Buffy said, waving it off.

"Need I remind you who lifts the weights in this group?"

Buffy pouted at him. "But all the girls were watching you," she reminded him.

"Yeah, and the last time they did that, they thought we were dating," he reminded her.

Buffy nodded, heading for the door. "Good point. I'll go get the last two bags." She walked out, leaving them alone.

Wednesday unfolded a long piece of cloth, pulling out a very large broadsword. "Whoa," Xander said, coming over to look at it. "Is that real?" She nodded, handing it to him with proper deference for the weapon. "This is so cool." He looked around. "You know these are illegal in the dorms, right? That they'll kick you out if they find it?"

"It's only illegal if someone finds out," she said with a chilling smile, taking the sword back to hang it in the closet. "What do you do?"

"Yeah, Xander, what do you do?" Buffy said as she walked in. She stopped at the sight of the sword hanging in her closet then hung her head out the door. "RA ON THE FLOOR!" she yelled, taking the cue to drop her last bag and close the other girl's closet door. "You have to hide that or they'll kick you out. Always listen for that yell." She pulled them down onto her bed, smiling at the young man bringing in her last bag. "Thank you, Stewart."

He smiled at her, a goofy grin. "No problem, Summers, just don't lock yourself out and come knocking on my door at four am again." He nodded at Wednesday. "Mandatory floor meeting at nine tonight." He winked at Buffy. "Nice yell. Good to see someone remembers. Just remember, no alcohol on this floor." He waved and walked out.

Buffy looked at her roommate, sizing her up. "Xander, close the door. I think we need to have a discussion." She shifted so she was facing her roommate. "Listen, I don't care if you have weapons, but if you get caught, we both get tossed out without warning and without a refund. I don't want that, my mother will kill me, so just keep it under cover for me. Okay?"

Wednesday nodded. "I'll keep my weapon stash secret." She looked at them. "Do you have one?" Both of them nodded. "Maybe we can compare sometime."

"Maybe," Buffy said. She headed for the door. "I'm going to go finish my cards, you guys discuss." She gave Xander a hard look, silently asking him to fill the new girl in.

Xander closed the door behind her, leaning against it. "Wednesday, there are some things that you have to know, okay? Just don't freak and listen for a few. Never, and I mean *never* walk around town at night. It's not safe."

Wednesday snorted. "I'm perfectly able to take care of myself." She looked him over. "What sort of weapons do you prefer?"

"Guns mostly, but I do admit to having an old short sword and a few honkin' big knives." His smile faded. "Really, it doesn't matter how much self-defense you've had, it's not safe. Sunnydale looks like this nice, calm place, but at night we have roving gangs and things. If you go out, go out with Buffy or someone else. Never by yourself and never with someone weaker."

She gave him another chilling smile. "The only weaker people I keep around are on leashes." She crossed her legs, looking him over. "I'm Wednesday Addams." He shrugged. "Name isn't familiar?"

"Not really." He stepped away from the door as someone knocked, letting a small hairball in. "Um, okay," he said slowly, looking it over. "Family?"

"Yes, this is What. She's my cousin's child." She kissed the area just under the brim of the ball cap the pile of hair was wearing. "This is Xander, he's my roommate's best friend." The hairball squeaked something fast. "Yes, I think he's okay too." She smiled at him again, then at Buffy as she walked in.

Buffy stopped then shut the door, crossing her arms on her chest. "Listen, Wednesday, we gotta talk." She looked the hairball over. "Is this one harmful?"

"That's her cousin, What," Xander told her, resting his chin on her shoulder. "Tell her, I think she can handle it." Buffy shook her head so he shrugged. "Slayers and all that," he said, backing away before Buffy could kick him.


"Oh, really?" Wednesday said, standing up and walking over to her. She pulled her in, giving her a kiss. "I'm an Addams." Buffy looked confused. "We've helped the Watchers before. I was told I might be running into you." She smiled at Xander. "You're very nice. We should talk more."

Xander backed away from her, nodding. "Okay. You guys seem to fit, I'll see you tonight at your welcome home thing?"

Buffy turned, hugging him. "I'll come pay you tonight, don't worry." She gave him a tight squeeze. "Thank you. Tell Giles to call if you see him."

"Sure. No big."

"What are you doing this semester?" Buffy asked him, looking him over. "Giles said you were going to do something in his letters this summer but he never said what."

"Oh, I got talked into doing something practical. I'm going to the vo-tech center. To the beautician classes. Just until I find what I really want to do," he added quickly. "I mean, it's just a job and all. Supposed to pay well and everything too."

Buffy nodded. "You can work on me, as long as you don't totally wreck my do." She fluffed her hair. "Who talked you into that?"

"Giles," he said with a groan. "He kept onto me about going to school to do something practical that I might get some enjoyment from, or at least a living wage. I even get financial aid to buy all the expensive stuff right up front. Of which, I'll have to spend about two hundred dollars within a week at the least."

Buffy patted his arm. "I'm sure you can go to the big discount beauty warehouse place in LA for most of it so you can get it really cheap," she soothed. She looked from Xander to Wednesday, who was watching them with contained interest. "You'd better go. I need to get settled in. Mom kept me up most of the night."

He nodded, slipping out of the room. "Later."

Buffy shook her head, trying hard not to cringe when she saw What on her bed. "Um, just don't shed or anything, I'll never get to sleep if the bed is full of hair."

Wednesday smiled. "Oh, she won't. She's *very* well trained. I made sure of that." She walked over, patting What on the head. "She just wanted to make sure that I would be all right. Mother promised I could have an apartment but the school decided I couldn't since I'm only seventeen."

Buffy nodded. "Just as long as you don't get caught with weapons, I'm sure they'll relent in a few months." She lifted the first of her bags onto her bed, starting the unpacking process. "Just don't take my clothes without asking, okay?"

"Of course not. We don't wear the same styles at all." Wednesday went back to her weapons collection, carefully inserting each one where she wanted it.


Giles opened an old book to show Buffy something. "This is the entry dealing with the Addams family." He stepped away from her, looking her over. "Are you all right? They're known for having rather... odd tastes in their everyday lives."

Buffy shuddered. "Tell me about it. Her cousin What shed all over my half of the room." She pushed the hair behind her ears, frowning. "So they're really different?"

"Yes, I think you could say that with assurance," Giles said, sitting across from her. "Are you worried about her?"

"Only if she starts bringing bodies into the room." Buffy closed the book. "She's like majorly non-emotive. Even worse than Oz is." She glanced around the room. "He's not here, right?"

"No, he's back at his house." He patted her arm. "I'd like to meet with her, maybe talk with her about watching out for you when I'm gone in a week or so." Her face fell. "You don't trust her to help you?"

"Oh, I do, I just forgot you were going home for a visit in a week." She frowned at him. "It'll just be me, Xander, and her?"

"Well, Willow would be amenable to calls if you needed her help, though how much help she could be from the East Coast I'm not sure." He stroked down her arm. "I do believe, if you'd ask, Oz might want to help you also."

She nodded, looking at him. "If he wants, I'll gladly accept. I'm really sorry about our last fight. I should have realized he was lashing out because of Willow."

"Yes, well, sometimes as a friend you are a bit on the blind side." He stood up. "Would you like to set up a meeting between her and I? Or her and the whole group?"

"Yeah, I'd like that." Buffy stood up, grabbing her cardigan off the back of the couch. "Should I be worried that Xander told her?"

"No, he usually has very good instincts about who to tell. In this case, I would agree with him." He gave her a warm smile. "I'm sure you'll get along fine. You may even start to borrow each other's weapons and start to train with her instead of Xander. You never can tell how useful of an ally someone is until you get to know them better."

"Yeah, well, I think sleeping next to her is really close. She even sleeps like Dracula in those movies, her arms crossed and everything. No movement, nothing. I was tempted to check for breathing last night." That made her former Watcher smile. "I'm serious."

"Yes, but you must accept her for who she is. I believe we've had this discussion before."

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, but the last time, my roomie was a demon." She waved. "Have fun, I'll call with the meet info." She walked out, heading out into the typically sunny, cool fall day.


Buffy walked into her room, shocked by the music floating through the door. "You listen to Whitney Houston?"

"I'm trying to hide that fact, but yes," Wednesday said from her bed, typing into an older laptop that had a few dents and scratches. "My favorite uncle showed me I had a closet warm and fuzzy side so every little once in a while I let it out." She looked up, looking Buffy over. "Why do you wear such bright clothes?"

"Because it makes me happy and I look good," Buffy defended, sitting on her bed. "We're getting together a meeting of my friends that help, would you like to come? My old Watcher said it was okay to include you."

Wednesday nodded. "I'd like that. Are there many of you?"

"Me and Xander, and him, and maybe one other person that I have got to track down. We'll decide on the when and where later tonight." She smiled as the phone rang, picking it up. "Addams/Summers room?" She laughed. "Oz, I was about to come track you. Want to come to a Scooby meeting?" She looked over at her roommate. "Nope, just found out today that my roomie's family and my job have a long history. We're doing some planning if you'd like to start." She took the cordless over to the closet, going to lock herself in. "Listen, I'm really sorry about snapping back at you," she said softly when she was alone. "I didn't understand, if I had, I would have let you vent." She smiled. "Thanks, Oz. Yeah, I missed having you around too." She laughed. "Okay. Oh, and Xander's studying to become a beautician. Giles talked him into it." She snickered. "Really?" She shook her head. "At least now you'll have someone to play with hair dye with." She nodded. "Tonight is great. When and where?" She frowned. "You sure your roomies will be okay?" She laughed. "Only you, Oz. Okay. Addy?" She closed her eyes, repeating it to herself. "Got it, we'll be over after late-supper. Oh, and she's pretty cool, in both meanings. No, she's presently exploring her warm and fuzzy side." She sat up. "How did you know? He did? Wow. Coolness. Oh, well. I'll let you go so you can plan to feed the stomach known as Xander."

"Not funny," drifted through the door in a suspiciously male voice.

"Hold on, want to talk to him?" She walked out, handing the phone off. "Oz, we're meeting at his house tonight."

He nodded, walking out into the hall to get some privacy.

Buffy looked at her roomie. "Got plans for tonight?" Wednesday shook her head. "Coolness. Around eight or so, we're going to descend on Oz's house and hold a meeting. We can go bother Giles before that."

Xander walked back in, handing back the phone. "Giles has a migraine and won't be over. I went to show him my new stuff and he just barely opened the door." He shrugged. "I have stuff now. Lots and lots of stuff, most of it I'm not even sure what I'm going to use it for."

"I'm sure you'll learn," Buffy soothed, patting his arm. "Hey, Wednesday, is it true your father gifted the school with a scholarship?"

"Yes," she said, closing her laptop. "Why?"

"No reason, Oz just mentioned it." Buffy shrugged. "You've got to expect a lot of people to invite you places because of that, but we're not like that."

Wednesday nodded. "I know." She looked up at Xander. "What can you do?"

"Not a lot," he admitted. "I can cut in a straight line using a comb." She nodded. "That was the advanced lesson today and since I had done all my paperwork already, I listened in. What did you want me to do?"

"I wanted to redye my hair. My uncle helped me go blonde at one point in rebellion and I wanted to fix it again."

Xander nodded. "As soon as I'm up to that lesson, I'll tell you and help you." He looked her over. "Are you sure you want to go blonde? I could do some funky white stuff but blonde wouldn't look that good on you. You could go English red, do the whole peaches and cream thing that the girls from over there do."

Buffy shook her head. "I think maybe the white would be really striking. Especially if you just streaked her."

Xander nodded. "Definitely, don't want to do it all over, but a streak or three would be pretty cool looking."

"It's a date then," Wednesday said, leaning back on her bed. "Should I bring something to the meeting?"

"Something to drink if you don't want tea or water," Xander said. "Oz usually doesn't keep soda in his place."

Buffy shrugged. "He keeps chocolate though, which is always a good."

Xander gave her an appraising look. "Buffy, are you thinking..." He dropped off, giving her a little hand wiggle.

"No," she said quickly, shaking her head. "Thought never crossed my mind. Wouldn't mind because he's really nice and all but he's still upset over Willow leaving him for Tara and Yale. He accepted my apology over being snarky back but he and I can't do that."

Xander nodded. "Okay then, but if you did, I'd understand and support you. You're both lonely and he's a nice guy."

"Wow, sensitive Xander rears his head again," she said, looking at him. "What's up with your ex?"

"She's partying hard in Boston last I heard," he sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Can we please leave the nympho out of this discussion?"

"Sure," she said, giving him a small smile and a pat. "Didn't want to bring up bad memories of her." She scooted back on her bed. "Anything else of critical importance?"

"Yeah, your mother caught me today in the grocery store. She said you left a few things at the house and asked me to remind you she's going out of town next week so you won't be able to get into the house."

"Eww. Can we please leave the mom/Giles trip out of the discussion too?"

Xander nodded. "Definitely. Must be weirding for you." He waved. "I've got to go sort through all my stuff. Later. Eight?"

"Or so. I told him after late-supper, which ends at six."

"Coolness. We'll see you there." He walked out, leaving them alone.

"He's a nice young man," Wednesday said softly. "What's wrong with his ex?"

"That's something he'll have to divulge," she said with a smile. "That is a totally long and semi- disgusting story that only he can tell." She shuddered. "Don't worry though, it's not a bad thing. She wasn't sick or anything."

"Good. He's too nice to be hurt. Much."

"You're way into that whole pain thing, huh?"

"Pain is a part of life. Either you give it or you receive it." Wednesday pulled a book over. "Ever read his work?" Buffy nodded. "Pity, DeSade was a brilliant pioneer in the field of pain. Those of us who have built on his theories and practices revere him greatly as an early Master." She opened to her well-worn bookmark, starting to read.


Oz looked up at Buffy as she walked into his kitchen. "Your roomie's interesting," he said softly, handing her a glass of ice water.

"And then some," Buffy said with a grin. She put down the glass, giving him a hug. "You okay?"

"Okayer," he admitted, turning to be comforted. "I thought we were working it out and everything was going to be fine, then Tara got accepted to Yale. I guess she chose what was going to make her happiest, but it burst a major bubble in my mind."

"I can understand that," she said softly, giving him a gentle squeeze. "If you need a new groupie or anything, just yell."

He snorted, pulling away. "No thanks. Have plenty of those. She wasn't even one for the last year or so." He shrugged, handing Buffy her water. "So, what's up with the cold one?"

"That's just how she is," Buffy said, leaning against the counter. "Very icy, but nice about it. It's almost like she doesn't have a thaw setting."

"Huh." Oz looked out into the living room. "I think we could be friends."

"You and Xander both?" she said with a wicked grin.

"Buffy!" he sighed. "Not into underaged girls. Besides she has thing for pain, which I don't need more of."

"Point," she said with a bigger smile. "I'm thinkin' it'll all be okay again. *Especially* now that Xander's not dating Anya."

"Yeah, heard she left, what happened?"

"She got disgusted that he wasn't able to keep up with her go-all-nightness so she brought another guy home one night." Oz winced. "Oh, no, she just walked in with him, sat him down on the bed, looked at Xander and told him 'he's going to help us, you'll like playing with him too'."

Oz shuddered. "Glad I missed that fight."

"No fight. Xander walked out, came to Giles where the rest of us were, and just sat there silently staring at the books." She nudged his arm. "I think he was considering stealing one of them to do something to her. When we asked, that's all he would tell us about what happened."

"I would have." Oz grabbed the water pitcher, carrying it out into the dining room. "Water," he said, holding it up.

"No, thank you," Wednesday said, sipping the bottle of murky water. "I have mine sent from home because my system's so delicate." She scooted over so Oz could sit back down at the table. "What do you do for the group?"

"I'm the extra muscle and the other version of back up. Xander's more of a 'just do it' guy and I'm more of the thinker and planner type."

"He's also our resident hacker and genius," Buffy put in. "Xander and I are the muscle, he's the brain power. Well, him and Giles, who is busy makin' out with my mom." She frowned down at her nails. "That is still so gross of a thought." She shuddered.

"They like it," Oz reminded her, patting her hand. "You'll get used to it, especially since Giles is honorable and will make her marry him."

"Eww," Buffy and Xander said together.

"Weddings can be very emotional," Wednesday said. "Especially when they eviscerate the animals. It's usually very moving." Everyone stopped to look at her. "What? It is. It's a very moving moment, the way the animals give of themselves so the couple can mark each other."

Oz nodded. "Guess it happens like that sometimes. Here we just throw birdseed at them."


"Because it's tradition to throw rice but it makes birds explode so they switched," Xander explained quickly. "What's your schedule like night-wise this semester, Buff?"

"Um, got one that ends just after six and one that ends at nine. So I'm guessing that night's about blown for patrolling unless something critical shows up."

"Define critical," Wednesday said coolly. "Are we talking my ex or his?" she asked, waving at Xander.

"Um, depends on who yours was," Xander suggested.


"You dated a Watcher demon!" Buffy yelled. Wednesday nodded, giving her a bland look. "Okay, I thought dating a vamp was bad."

Xander grinned. "I don't feel so bad about dating a former Vengeance demon now."

"Which one did you date?" Wednesday asked.

"Angel, Angelus' nicer half," Oz told her. "You really dated a demon?"

"From the time I was fifteen until about eight months ago. He decided he wanted to be the top in his next relationship." She gave them a cold smile. "Define critical."

"Your ex," Buffy, Xander, and Oz said together.

She nodded. "I won't call him then." She shrugged at the dirty looks. "He said if I ever got bored he'd come back for a few days once he found a new pet." She smiled at Xander. "The question was for you."

"Anyanka," he said softly, looking down at the scars on the back of his hands. "She left me to go do half the world instead."

"A demon's sexual energy is often relative to their job. Hers was probably heightened as a torture while she worked since she really only cursed men." Xander looked up at her in shock. "There would have to be *some* pain with the pleasure of the job. It wouldn't have been fair otherwise."

Xander looked at Buffy. "I like her, can we keep her?"

"Sure," she said, picking up her water to sip. "You two can compare notes." She looked over at Oz. "You got an opinion?"

"Only that I'm really not sure I want to know what a Watcher demon does."

"He's over the other minor demons. Actually, Dhaklalkd was over some of the other higher demons too. Ones like the one that made your ex and the like." She tipped her head. "Did you make her miserable?" Xander nodded. "Then you were good for her and she shouldn't have thrown you away on wanton urges that are easily taken care of in other ways."

Buffy blushed. "Sex isn't something we usually discuss as a group," she told her roommate.

"Unless it was my relationship," Xander pointed out. "She always shared, all the time."

"Yeah, it was TMI," Oz told him, patting his arm. "Relax, she won't come back. If she does, we'll sic Wednesday on her."

Xander grinned. "I would pay money for that match." He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

"No contest," Wednesday said evenly, smirking just a bit. "She's still mortal and I *like* what I do."

Buffy shuddered. "Um, that's a share too much thing. Okay?"

"Of course. I thought we were an open group."

"Well, we are, but there's such a thing as too much openness, ya know?" Buffy said lightly. "Some of us are still freaked over the normal things, pain games just really squick us badly."

"Ah. I won't share as much with you then." She looked at Xander. "What about you?"

"Oh, I know all about mental pain games," he said with a shrug. "Feel free to share."

She smiled, dropping the temperature in the room by a few degrees. "Cool."


Buffy cornered Xander in her room while they were waiting on Oz to show up. "So, you like her?"

"Her?" he asked, giving her a clueless look. Buffy gave the room's other bed a pointed look then looked back at him. "Oh, *her*. Not really. I think we could be friends but nothing else. Besides, I don't think she's into my kind of man."

"Yeah, maybe. I don't think you could stand up to her for very long." She grinned, pushing on his shoulder. "So, what are we seeing tonight?"

"Depends, do you want action or romance since you're paying."

She rolled her eyes. "I think I'll let it be a group decision." She looked at the door as it started to open. "Hey, Wednesday. We're going to the movies, want to come?"

"No, thank you. There's nothing there that I can do anything but make fun of." She shrugged. "When you've seen the real monsters, the fake ones lose all but humor appeal and I'm in no mood to laugh."

"Bombed a test?" Xander asked, patting her shoulder. "Happens to the best of us, even Oz."

"No, my teacher cornered me after class and told me I should see someone, that I was obviously mentally unstable and shouldn't be allowed around normal people." She flopped onto her bed. "I wish my Uncle were closer by. He'd come down here and rip into her."

"What's he do?"

"He's a teacher at a college up north, a Doctor now. She, on the other hand, should be food for my kitten, Spot."

"Is Spot really big?" Oz said as he walked in. "New Psych teacher got onto her. Her reply is all over the department."

"Yes, he is, and he's got a very mean temperament. Maybe I could persuade my mother to bring him down when she visits."

"That'll be cool, just sneak it into the dorms. And make sure the litterbox stays on your side of the room." Buffy grabbed her sweater. "You sure?"

"Yes, thank you though. I think I'll email my uncle and get sympathy and maybe fudge." She pulled her laptop off the table between the beds, opening it up and plugging it in.

Buffy waved out the door. "Come on, let's go find something to watch."

"I want romance," Oz said gently. "Is that okay?"

"Man," Xander sighed, "I knew I was going to lose that toss up." Oz nodded, giving him a faint pleased look. "Oh, come on, can't we watch two?"

"If you pay," Buffy agreed. "I've only got a small check this semester and I needed stuff." She walked down the hall after putting her keys in her pockets. "Guys," she called when they weren't beside her.

Oz stopped Xander by putting a hand on his arm. "We all know it's not true, no matter what the other kids said. Don't stress over the stereotype." He walked after Buffy.

"Would you please warn me the next time you go telepathic?" Xander called, hurrying to catch up. "That's freaky."

"It's expected," Buffy said, sliding into the backseat of Xander's car. "We could rent movies," she suggested. "Make our own cheap popcorn and rent something that fulfills both requirements."

"Action and romance?" Oz asked, sliding into the car and buckling in. "Are you really in the mood for Lethal Weapon 3?"

"No, not really, but how about Police Academy?"

"Cool by me," Xander said, sliding in and starting the car. "I have my old copies or we could rent new ones."

"Let's rent," Oz said. "Yours have these spots where you can't see anything." He shifted so he could look at both of them. "I'll tape you new copies for Christmas."

Buffy smiled at him. "Want to make me more music?"

"Sure. Just give me a list." Oz looked out the front windshield and tensed. "I thought the commandos were gone." He pointed at a camouflage jeep parked on the sidewalk.

"That's Professor Dean's, he's a survivalist or something," Buffy said with a shrug. "He's one of the art teachers, I have him for Appreciation."

"Ah. You two get along? I heard he was a walk if you were his kind of person." Oz relaxed again, enjoying their company.

"Nope, we've been fighting all along. His sort of woman is one that sits at home and reads his manifesto."

Xander chuckled. "I know his sort. I have a teacher that would love him." He looked in the mirror. "Maybe we should try to fix him up."

"It might be his ex-wife," Buffy muttered, getting comfortable. "He said that they came to a parting of the ways because she wasn't totally into his life." She shrugged at Oz's look. "I all but fell asleep during his rant against women. Until the Chair yanked him, literally thank you, from the class for it." She smiled. "We all cheered, that's what woke me up."

Oz snorted. "Sleeping in class lowers GPA."

"Yup, it does," Xander said, nodding as he turned on the radio. "Trust me, it really does."

"I know, I did plenty of that in high school, I just did it in a comfy bed instead of on a desk." She laughed and pointed out the window. "Look. The clowns are back."

"Buffy, be nice," Oz told her, almost smiling in that way of his. "After all, they didn't go to the university, they aren't authorized clowns. You can't diss real clowns that way."

"They just dress like them," Xander quipped. "Clown wanna-bes?"

Buffy snickered, turning her head so she could cough. "Yeah, maybe. I love initiation week for the frats."

"Me too," Xander and Oz said together, cracking up.


Buffy looked up from the couch, smiling at Xander as he handed over another bowl of popcorn. "So, this is new," she said, looking around the studio apartment. "You didn't even tell us."

"Yeah, well, I owe Giles money for the deposit still but we're okay I guess." He sat down beside Oz, staring at the screen. "We could restart it."

"Wanted to talk to you," Oz told him, shifting to look at him. "Are you okay out there? I noticed you were busy walking right beside Buffy all through the store."

"One of the other students works in there." Xander ate a handful of popcorn, shutting up.

"Ah. Did she say that you were gay or something?" Buffy asked, taking his popcorn to put it aside. "Because we all know you're not."

"Actually," Xander said, looking down, "I'm not too sure of that at the moment." Buffy rubbed down his arm. "I mean," he looked up at her, "I still think about you and all, and other women, but I have this faint tingle when I look at one guy so I'm confused."

"That's what being bi means," Oz told him, giving him a hug. "You are what you are and we're still here." Xander nodded. "You could come and talk to me," he offered but stopped when he saw the embarrassed look that was given from the corner of the young man's eyes. "In that case, I'd really like to talk to you." Xander looked up at him, his face radiating shock. "Not a new subject for some of us," Oz said gently, hugging him. "No big."

Buffy cleared her throat and stood up. "Going to let you guys talk. Xander, if and when you're ready to talk to me, just yell my way. We can even do it on patrol if you want."

Oz shook his head. "No, you shouldn't be that distracted." He continued to rub down Xander's back. "Stay, we'll talk later."

"I still have lots to think about," Xander offered, waving at the couch. "Please sit and watch the movies with us? I miss the group thing."

"Hey, *I* miss the gang thing," Buffy said, sitting back down. She restarted the tape, subtly not quite watching the two guys scoot closer until they were cuddled together. She grinned, hiding it behind some of the popcorn.


Buffy wandered into her room later that night, still smiling. She had gotten to witness the guys first kiss and it was still making her feel tingly. She turned on the night light beside her bed so she could change into pajamas, not wanting to wake Wednesday, but the bedside light was flipped on. "Hey, sorry, didn't mean to wake you," Buffy said, heading into her closet to finish changing.

"You didn't, I was enjoying the dark." Wednesday rolled onto her side, watching Buffy through the crack in the door. "How was your night out?"

"Fine. Did a small patrol on the way back." Buffy walked out, grabbing a scrunchie to pull back her hair. "How was your sulk?"

"Fine, I'm getting fudge." Wednesday looked her over.

"What's wrong? Did I put them on inside out?" She checked herself then looked back up. "What?"

"Just thinking in your direction." Wednesday rolled onto her back, staring at the ceiling. "I need to find a new playmate."

"Hey, if I find one, I'll send them your way," Buffy offered as she climbed into bed. "What sort are you looking for?"

"Strong, they have to be strong. Unbreakable. And they will crave the collar, even if they don't yet."

"Hmm, male or female?" Wednesday looked over at her, giving her a quizzical look. "What? I'm supposed to notice things, and my last roommate chose Yale and her girlfriend over the group and me so..." She trailed off with a shrug.

"Ah. A female would be preferable, men tend to be weaker and more easily manipulated."

Buffy nodded. "Definitely. They can be led so easily. It must be a hormone thing, especially at our ages."

The fire alarm went off and both girls groaned. "We'll talk some other time," Wednesday said, pulling on shoes to walk out, following Buffy outside.


Buffy watched the boys play frisbee from her position on the blanket, nibbling on part of their picnic lunch. She snickered as Xander ran into the fence around Oz's backyard, covering it up by coughing when Oz looked at her. "Sorry. Chicken?" she asked, holding out the plate.

Xander walked over, dropping beside her, and stole the plate to pick out a piece. "It's nice of your mother to let you use up her food."

"She's not going to need it," she said with a shrug, looking up at Oz, who was looking through the windows to the front of the house. "What's up?"

"Roomie." He waved her back, then sat down, pulling over his salad. "Want some?" he asked Xander, holding out a fork full.

Xander leaned over, nibbling at the offered salad, smiling at his boyfriend once the fork was clean. "What sort of dressing is that? It's sweet but yet tangy and good. I'd almost be willing to eat salad if it had that on it."

"Poppyseed," Oz told him, taking a bite. "You can share." He patted the blanket beside him, feeding Xander a bite when he moved over to share it with him. "See, salad good."

"No, chocolate good, Oz's salad nice." Xander hugged him quickly then pulled back. "Hi, Wednesday," he called as she walked around the house. "What's wrong? You look upset." He smoothed out a wrinkle in the blanket, inviting her down. "What?" he asked, shifting over to touch her shoulder.

"My mother died." She blinked, looking down. "It was a horrible accident but that was the way she wanted it to be. I'm not sure if I should be happy for her or not."

Buffy reached over, hugging her gently. "It'll be okay. We can even arrange for you to take time off to go home for a while." Wednesday nodded, wiping off her pale cheeks. "It's okay," she crooned, rocking the younger girl gently, trying to soothe the hurt. "It'll be all right, I promise it'll be okay."

Xander looked at Oz, who nodded and put down his salad, both of them hugging her too.


Buffy looked up as Xander walked into her room, putting down her book with a sigh. "What's up? Have a fight already?"

"No, Oz wanted me to come talk with you." He lay on the bed beside her, letting her cuddle up to him. "He was right?"

"I don't know," she said, closing her eyes, "he's the mind reader, not me."

"He said you were lonely," Xander said softly, brushing down her back. "That you missed having someone there to balance you out." She nodded, her face buried in his chest. "Would you like to come over tonight? Oz is at my place cooking healthy food and he said he wanted you over there."

She looked up at him. "Why?"

"Because you need us," he said, brushing down the side of her face. "You need us and we need you. We're not going to be fully happy without you there and you're going to be miserable." She pinched him. "Hey, meany. I should be mean and tell him you offered to eat funny-named beans with him."

She shook her head. "No thanks." She gave him a hug, then rolled off the bed, grabbing a sweater and her purse. "Okay?"

"Clothes?" he suggested with a mild grin. She frowned at him. "No, you're staying over tonight, grab a backpack of clothes and stuff." When she didn't do it, he walked into her closet, picking out what he wanted to see her in, packing it for her. "Come on," he said, wrapping an arm around her waist, taking her out to Oz's car.

Oz opened the door, waving them inside, giving Buffy a hug. "It's about time," he said, kissing her gently. "Come on, you need to eat better so you can hunt better." He led her to the table, stealing a kiss from Xander as he walked past him.

Buffy looked from the full plate that landed in front of her to Oz and back. "Why am I confused?"

"Because you have to accept the reality that we love you on some level and that we're here with you." Xander took her hand to give it a gentle squeeze. "Oz showed me what I was thinking the other night and I agreed with him after I sulked for a while. None of us will ever find happiness outside of the group, no one else would ever understand us or what we've been through." She nodded, taking a bite of the salad in front of her. "So that means that we have to date within the group to find real happiness." She nodded again. "Buffy, think about it. This is the group, unless you want to go join Willow and Tara at Yale."

She choked. "Guys!" She slumped in on herself, nodding. "It's true, even Giles knew that. That's why he started dating my mom." She looked up. "But you guys are like brothers to me."

"Babe, we're not your brothers," Oz told her, smirking just a little at her shock. "Trust me, you've had thoughts about Xander, I've smelled them." Xander stared at him in shock. "What? Just because I don't change anymore doesn't mean I lost the heightened senses."

"Point," Buffy said with a grin. "A very right point." She took Xander's hand, then held Oz's with her other hand. "This kinda feels right," she admitted.

"Of course it does, the three of us fit together in some odd way," Oz told her gently. "Now, everyone eat. We can talk later." He dug into his salad, watching Xander as he tasted it. "It's good, try it. I put lots of cheese on for you."

Xander nibbled at a piece of the cheese, then frowned. "What sort of cheese is that?"

"Feta," Buffy said. "It's a Greek salad, very good, Oz." She got bold and leaned over to kiss his cheek, blushing as she went back to her meal. "It's really greasy and good, Xander, try it."

He nodded, taking a bite, then grinned. "I like it."

"Good, Mikey, eat." Buffy started to grin at him but Xander lunged up, grabbing her to kiss. She didn't even feel it when they fell on the floor, rolling on top of him to kiss him more.

Oz watched as he ate, subtly shifting so he could watch all the action, including what Xander's fingers were doing under her skirt. When he was done, he got up, walking over to pull Buffy off Xander, kissing her again, possessing her mouth. She went limp against him even before he could touch her anywhere else, readily accepting her place in their lives. "See," he told her. "Perfection."

"Yeah, it's great," she said, licking her lips. "More?" She pulled back, untucking her shirt to take it off. Xander's mouth fell open at the sight of her bare chest. "Come on, you knew I wasn't wearing a bra."

"Yeah, but even my dreams weren't built like that." Xander looked up at Oz, who waved him on. "Can I... Can I touch?" he asked hesitantly, reaching one hand up to brush against her stomach. "So very soft and nice."

"Thank you." She stared into Oz's eyes, smiling slightly when she saw him swallow. "We should eat."

Xander groaned. "How can you think about eating?"

"Shh," Oz said, bending down to kiss him. "Strip, let's go eat. Both of you," he said, turning his attention back to Buffy, who he found already naked and at the table. "See, good things," he told his boyfriend.

"Yeah," Xander said, licking his lips as he stripped as fast as he could. "Very good things to eat naked." He looked at his boyfriend then stripped him too. "There, now we're even again." He walked Oz over to the table, helping him into his seat, then took his own, trying not to stare at Buffy's chest as they ate. "They're good," he sighed finally, stopping his pretending. "How did you grow them so perfectly?"

Buffy looked up and shook her head. "They're not perfect, not by a long shot. They get in the way and things." She looked down at her own chest. "I really wish they were smaller."

"They're perfect to me," Xander offered, with a shy smile. "Much better than I could do if I had created them. Then they'd be lopsided."

Oz shook his head, leaning back in his chair. "Let's go watch movies, guys, we can discuss the perfection of Buffy's breasts somewhere that isn't hard wood."

Buffy hopped up, grabbing the first movie she came to. "My pick?"

"Yeah, your pick," Xander said, licking his lips, watching as she bent over to look at the movie collection, glancing at Oz to find him doing the same thing. "I thought your ass was perfect," he whispered, turning to kiss his boyfriend hard. "Thank you for being right."

"Welcome, babe," Oz told him, grabbing handfuls of Xander's pert butt. "Anytime, you know that."

Buffy stood there, watching as Oz's finger stroked the area between Xander's cheeks, blushing hard. She swallowed, turning back to the movies, grabbing one to read the back of it, hastily putting it back when she saw it was porn. "Normal movies?" she croaked. She felt a hard, warm body against her back and a hand that had to be Oz's handed her one. "Thank you."

"Welcome," Oz whispered in her ear, with a little lick down the side of her neck. "You're allowed to watch, same as we would feel free to watch you."

She nodded, closing her eyes as she relaxed into the hard body. "I never realized you were so built," she whispered, "or that you were such a dominant lover." He turned her around, taking her mouth hostage again. "Oz."

"Always," he said, letting her go, taking the movie to put in. "Xander, bring her over to the couch and get the blanket I gave you. We'll cuddle while we watch."

"Sure," he said, jogging into the bedroom, coming back with a soft wool blanket to lay across them. "Um, which side...." He waved at the couch.

"I want on one side of you and Oz can have the other," Buffy decided. "Later, if Oz wants, we can switch."

"Gee, I never knew you were so easy to get along with," Xander said with a weak grin. "Angel used to complain about your nagging habits."

"That's because he did things to be nagged about, like standing me up." She snuggled into Xander's side, one hand stroking lightly over his stomach. "I didn't know you had muscles."

"Yup, for a while now," he said softly, wrapping an arm around her neck, the other holding Oz's hand. "You sure you're okay here?"

"I'm fine," she whispered, looking up at him. "Really fine. Whole lots of fine actually." Oz nodded, leaning across Xander to kiss her. "Thank you."

"Welcome." Oz shifted so he was facing into Xander's side, rubbing down his stomach too. "This is all new to him, he's never had anyone who wanted to cuddle before."

"Anya was a ho," Buffy said firmly, "no real woman would be like that." Xander nodded, relaxing. "Hey, I'm a patient woman and I do know how to please myself. If either of you need time, then you've got it."

Xander groaned, pulling her up to kiss. "Don't say things like that, I'm still too close to my sexual peak." She grinned at him. "Think it's funny?"

"I think all teen guys are funny. Especially the way you guys ran to the bathroom after English class to take care of certain problems." She ran a fingernail over his cock, just barely pressing.

Xander shivered. "So cruel." He kissed Oz, but brought his hand up to play in her hair. "She's being mean to me, Oz, making me get harder."

"Good, then I can work on stretching you tonight." Xander nodded, pulling Oz into his lap to kiss more. "Sharing," Oz reminded him.

"No thanks, for some reason I'm finding this position real stimulating." She grinned at Xander's frown. "I am, apparently watching you guys is a good for me."

Oz nodded. "It's like that for us when we're watching two women." He kissed Xander, shifting his hips some. "We should be cuddling and learning about each other, not rushing," he said as he pulled back.

The phone rang and Xander groaned, reaching over to grab it. "Yeah?" he growled, then swallowed. "Hi, Giles. Yeah, she's here. Wednesday? No, she's home for her mother's funeral." He handed the phone to Buffy, gently pulling Oz's head over to kiss. "I think we need to get dressed, he didn't sound too happy."

"He's back a day early from his pilgrimage home," Oz reminded him. He leaned over to kiss Buffy as she hung up. "You have to go?"

"Yeah, Wednesday just got back. Giles was at my room looking for me and she was drunk." She sighed, standing up and stretching. "Tomorrow?"

"My place, dinner," Oz told her. "Middle Eastern food."

Buffy grinned. "Okay." She grabbed her clothes, sliding back into them. "I'm going to go comfort her. Oh, Giles said something about Spot having come back with her. He didn't sound pleased."

"He's allergic to cats," Xander told her with a grin. "I asked if I could get one and he vetoed it immediately."

"I'm taking care of a stray kitten," Oz told him gently, "you can help."

Xander beamed at him. "Okay." He pulled Buffy back down beside them, each of them giving her a kiss. "Be safe. We don't want to lose you."

She smiled at them. "Of course. How bad would it look to be bested by frat boys that were partying too loud." She shrugged, standing up. "I'll call later after I get her settled in, tell you guys what's going on." She grabbed her purse and walked out, making sure the door shut behind her.

Oz nipped Xander's chin, wrapping himself around the hard body. "Want to switch tapes and let me work you closer to me taking you?"

Xander nodded, burying his head in his boyfriend's shoulder, shivering as the warm hands rubbed down to his hips. "Please," he whispered.

"Anything for you," Oz said, sliding off the waiting lap to change tapes, coming to sit beside his lover as the comedy started. "I still think it's cool that you get turned on by comedy movies."

"I'm just a little unusual," Xander said, turning so he could lay across Oz's lap while they watched the movie.


"Guys, my room is not that fascinating," Buffy complained as she pushed through the people clumped around her door. She made it inside, shoving the door shut before anyone else could come in. She looked around, then focused on her roommate, who was silently reading from her laptop. "Why is the circus in the hall?"

"Spot got free," Wednesday said, slurring just a little as she typed. "My Uncle Blair says hi."

"Tell him I said hi back." The laptop was handed to her and Wednesday laid back on her bed, crossing her arms on her chest and closing her eyes, and passed out.

Buffy sat on her bed, reading the message that had just come up, typing a response about how her roomie was now out for the night. She smiled at the message and the instructions, typing a response and turning off the instant messenger program, then the laptop. She noticed the open closet door so got up to check it, mouth falling open in shock as she saw the tiger chewing on one of Wednesday's shoes, closing the door as fast as she could when the tiger looked up and almost smiled at her. She leaned against the door, staring at her roommate in shock. "Kitten?" she squeaked. She jumped as her door opened, sighing when she saw her floor's Resident Advisor. "Take it easy on the kid, Stewart," she pleaded. "Her mother just died."

He shook his head. "You know I can't do that."

"It's a first offense and she didn't drink it here," Buffy offered. "I'm going to stay in and take care of her tonight."

"Fine, you're a Junior, I'm sure you've seen your share of stress drunks by now." He waved a hand around. "Someone came running into my room babbling about a big cat? A tiger?" Buffy just shrugged. "Huh. You'd tell me, right?"

"Hey, not even I want to see a tiger in the dorm," she said with a small smile. Her RA knew she was special and he was smart enough to leave her alone about it, even though he didn't know why. "If I found something like a tiger, I'd have to do something about it, right?" He nodded, giving her a smile. "I'll deal with her, Stewart, really. This is grief and stress. One of her teachers told her she needed major help and then her mother died the same week. I'll do the girlfriend thing in the morning, okay?"

He sighed and opened the door. "Just make sure you explain the rules to her, Summers, I don't want to have to turn her in for drinking. She's way underage and would be kicked out." He waved as he walked out with a, "Get away from the door, they need to sleep too. Go back to your rooms."

Buffy sighed and relaxed. Once she had recovered, she locked the door and headed for the phone. "Giles?" she said once he answered. "No, she's just drunk. I have good instructions from her family. No, but what about her cat?" She snorted. "Oh, I don't think you'd be allergic to this one, it's a *big* cat." She chuckled. "No, like eats people sort of big." She snickered and hung up, dialing Xander's house. "Oz? What do I do with the tiger in my closet?"


Oz stepped away from the sleeping tiger, closing the door softly so it wouldn't come out of it's drugged stupor. "It's down," he said softly, joining Xander and Buffy on her bed. "You okay?"

"It scared me when I saw it but otherwise fine. Though she said it got out earlier. Maybe it ate the guys next door that like Metallica a little too much at six am." She stopped talking as Wednesday snuffled and rolled onto her side, grabbing her pillow to hug. "I'm supposed to give her the 'you shouldn't drink' lecture in the morning. I convinced my RA, Stewart, to let me do it instead of turning her in."

"Let Giles give it," Xander suggested. "He gives a pretty good one." Oz lifted his head off Buffy's chest to look at him. "He caught me our senior year and I was lectured for days on end."

Oz nodded and lay his head back down. "Good." He yawned, rubbing his face on her chest. "I think we should stay here tonight. Got plans, Xander?"

"A few for in the morning, but I'll have time to get to school. I don't start until ten."

"Coolness," Oz said through another yawn. "Sleep."

Xander wrapped his arms around Buffy's waist, snuggling into her back. "Okay."

Buffy fell asleep with a smile, it wasn't often she was the protected one.


Giles' yell brought all four young people in the room instantly awake. "Giles!" Buffy said, patting the top of the blanket. "How'd you get in?"

"Your Resident Advisor saw me and recognized me as someone who visited often. He let me in." He frowned at the two young men. "What do you two think you're doing? I had no idea that your relationship included a plan to corrupt Buffy."

"Hey," she complained. "I'm happy. We're all happy."

"I'm not," Wednesday moaned as she pulled her blankets over her head. "At least the headache is good. It'll probably be the only bright spot in my day."

"Oh, you have no idea," Buffy told her. "I get to have a talk with you instead of letting you be sent to the Counseling office. And we will be talking about your pet."

"What's wrong with Spot? I fed him before we came home." Wednesday uncovered her head. "Where is he?"

"Sedated in the closet. He tried to get out and eat people last night," Oz told her, using his usual calm, quiet tone. "I agree with Buffy, you need to talk to us."

Wednesday nodded, re-covering her head. "Whatever."

Giles frowned at them, glaring at Xander. "As for you, young man..." he started.

"Hey!" Buffy said, getting up to get in his face. "They make me *happy*, something I haven't been in so long I've forgotten what it was like. If you can't handle that, then oh well. I'm not particularly fond of you doing the same things with my mother, but you don't see me tossing a hissy over it?"


"Oh, don't you even Buffy me, Giles, you have no right to complain about me having a nice relationship with people who understand me. You didn't bitch about Angel, not much, and you didn't bitch about Riley. At least this time you know neither one of them will end up trying to kill me or put me in a little cage to study." She put her hands on her bare hips, then registered the fact that she was naked and scurried back to her bed, burying herself back under the blankets.

"We'll come discuss this tonight," Xander said quietly. "I have to get to class and so do they." He rubbed down each of their heads, tugging on Oz's ear. "We'll be over at your house later tonight, she has a late class and we've got to figure out what to do about Wednesday's pet."

"Spot's fine," Wednesday mumbled. "He's not hungry yet."

Buffy peeked out from under the blankets. "Later, Giles, when I'm decent again."

He nodded, not losing his frown. "I'm sure you will be by then. My house at seven."

"Want us to bring food?" Oz asked. "I've found I have a talent for cooking."

"No, thank you, Oz," Giles said, relaxing some. "I think I can feed you all something. Do have supper first though, we don't have much in the way of actual meals in my flat." He turned, walking out of the room, not quite slamming the door behind himself.

Buffy looked at Xander. "He saw me naked."

"Yeah, and bouncing," Xander reminded her. "You were pretty though." She blushed. "You were. You shouldn't be ashamed of your body, Buffy, it's very beautiful."

"It is," Oz agreed, "but you should probably get dressed so you can go to Art Appreciation. I doubt your teacher would like to see you like that as much as we do." He got out of the bed, heading for her closet, pulling out some clothes. He and Xander turned so she could get dressed in privacy, turning back only when she cleared her throat. Oz's eyes opened wide as he saw the underwear sitting on the bed. "Going commando?" he joked.

"Yup, I don't think I could stand to have anything that close to me." She kissed each of them before gathering her books and heading out. "Later, guys."

"Lunch," Oz reminded her. He stole a kiss from Xander, walking out with him. "Come on, I'll drop you at your place so you can go to class too."

"Thanks." Xander wrapped an arm around Oz's waist, making him smile. "I like you, lots. I'm real glad you made me see sense."

"So am I," Oz told him as they got into his car, heading for Xander's house.


"No offense, mom," Buffy said, ready to snap the table in half so she didn't hurt her mother, "but why don't you go do something like rearrange Giles' sock drawer?" Her mother glared at her. "What? This isn't really about you."

"Buffy, who you date is about me," her mother said dryly. "I do believe I should be here."

Oz coughed lightly. "Ms. Summers, Xander and I have both come to the same theory in life. None of us will ever be happy with someone who isn't in the group, for much the same reason you and Giles are together. Only someone whose been there would understand."

"And just as importantly, we're happy together," Xander added. "Shouldn't that be the most important thing?"

Buffy's mother sighed. "But three of you?"

"It could be four," Oz suggested. "Her roommate is in need of cuddles too."

Giles frowned at him. "I don't think you need to corrupt anyone else, thank you."

"Hey, she was dating a Watcher demon," Buffy defended. "There's not much we can corrupt on her. She's really heavily into pain and stuff."

Giles sighed, leaning back. "Her family has always been a bit odd, Buffy, but that is no reason to discriminate against her."

"We don't," Xander said quickly. "She's welcome to come and eat and hang with us. We've invited her and everything. The day her mother died, she sought us out for comfort. I've even arranged to help her with her hair."

Buffy nodded. "She's not being discriminated against, Giles, we're including her in lots of things. I don't even begrudge her her games. I may not want to hear about them but I think she feels the same about our sex life." Xander blushed. "Sorry, guys."

"S'okay," Xander said, looking down at where he was holding Oz's hand. "Just sharing a little too much."

"I agree," Buffy's mother said with a frown for her daughter. "I really didn't need to know about that."

"Did you say a Watcher demon?" Giles asked, sitting upright suddenly. "Do you know which one?"

"Dhaklalkd," Xander said. "Or something like that."

"No, that was it," Buffy told him, giving him a small kiss on the cheek. "She said he left her because he wanted to top in his next relationship, whatever that means."

"It means he wanted to be the dominant one," Oz told her gently, patting her and Xander's joined hands. "You see, Ms. Summers, we're good for each other. It's not many people that might understand your daughter. We do because we fought beside her."

"And with her," Xander added softly. "Which I really regret now."

"Me too," Buffy said, giving him a hug. "We're okay. I forgave you a long time ago, same as you did me. Or at least I hope you forgave me a long time ago."

"The longest," Xander assured her with a smile. He grinned at Oz. "See, we can make this a happy group again."

"Just as soon as her mother and Giles get over it," Oz reminded him. "They're still badly freaked."

"I'd say that was putting it rather mildly," Giles said dryly.

"It's not a cult," Buffy pointed out, looking directly at her mother.

Buffy's mother frowned. "Good point, but still, three?"

"Yes, mother, three of us. Three happy people who have homework to do tonight." She stood up, dragging Xander with her. "Anything else? If not, we're going to leave you alone to think and....whatever." She shuddered, dragging Xander with her out the door.

Oz followed after a small wave, getting in to drive. "Homework?" he asked as he pulled away from the curb.

"Could you think of a better reason to leave?" Buffy asked dryly.


Xander picked up a few strands of Buffy's hair to look at it in the weak light. "You could use a trim," he told her, "and your style's not that hard to do. I could trim it for you."

"Cool, just don't take length off, okay? I like having long hair, it's really nice to have hair."

"He found a sassy, modern, bi-level cut that might be cute on you," Oz suggested.

"No," she said firmly. "We leave my hair alone. I like long hair. No short, no two lengths, no funny looking things done to my hair. Deal?"

"Sure. But can we brush it?" Xander asked softly. "I seem to have this thing for hair." He leaned in, sniffing her's. "We need to get you smelly shampoos so I can play with it."

"I'll use my apple stuff tonight," Buffy promised him with a pat to his hand in her hair. "Just as long as you agree to just do a *little* trim."

"Sure, just under an inch." He dropped her hair. "We'll do it in your room if you'd like."

"We should, we have to go talk to the roomie," Oz reminded them. "She should be out of bed by now."

"Maybe," Buffy said, "but she wasn't too thrilled with the idea of supper. Said something about hunting." Oz stopped the car to look at her. "What? I made sure it wasn't Spot hunting."

"Okay. Just making sure. A tiger hunting in town isn't the best of all alternatives. Could even be worse than me hunting."

"Oz, no offense, but nothing was worse than you hunting. It kinda hurt to have to tranq you when you got out," Xander told him softly, reaching over to rub the firm shoulder. "I really hated it when you got out."

"Okay, it's not worse," Oz told him, giving him a look in the mirror. "We'll be okay." He stopped at the sign, looking around. "Um, go or beat them," he warned as a group of men walked out of the bushes beside the road with sticks.

Buffy stuck her head out the window. "I have mace, a cellphone, and a photographic memory for faces," she warned. "Bet me I'm not already calling the cops." She pulled her head back in, rolling back up the window while they milled around. "Go, we'll call the cops from the road." She pulled out her cellphone, waving it in the air.

Xander took the phone from her, dialing it. "Hi, I was just driving down tenth street and there's a group of thugs jumping out of the bushes to beat on cars." He nodded and hung up. "The nice people at 911 are getting the message out." He handed back the phone, kissing Buffy on the cheek. "Thanks for the tough stuff. I would hate to have had to gotten out of the car and gotten beat up."

She patted the back of his head, the best she could do at their awkward angle. "I would have saved you, don't worry about it, Xander." She smiled at him. "Now, relax, that's an order." She turned back to the front as they pulled into the student parking lot. "Come on, let's go face the roomie." She hopped out, checking around them, doing the whole rear-guard thing as they headed inside. She stopped to sign Oz and Xander in, then followed them up to her room.

Wednesday was sitting on the bed, licking her fingers clean. "Hi," she said, waving at the open package beside her. "Fudge?"

"No, at least not yet," Buffy told her, sitting across from her on the other girl's bed. "Wednesday, we've got to talk about what happened last night. You can't drink, this is a dry campus. And you're underage. If I hadn't been here when Stewart walked in, you'd be kicked out of school right now." Her roommate frowned. "I'm sorry, but that's the rules here. You can't drink on campus and since you're not of legal age, if they catch you drunk, they'll kick you out. Now, if you really feel the need to do that, we can provide a way for you to do that safely, just warn us, okay?"

Wednesday nodded slowly. "Okay. Was I a problem?"

"Huh? No, well Spot was kinda a little problem. I had to have Oz come tranq him before he got out again, but otherwise you just laid down and I signed off with your Uncle. Oh, and he wanted to talk to you."

"He already did," she said with a small shrug. "He understands these things."

"So do we," Xander told her gently, reaching over from Buffy's bed to stroke down her arm. "You just gotta be more careful about where you drink. No more doing it here and no more being drunk on campus. Trust me, they're serious about kicking people out. I know three frat brothers who got caught with *a* beer and got kicked out of college for it. And it was their first of the night."

"We're just trying to protect you," Oz told her. "They're serious about the stupid rules but lax on the important ones. This is one of the stupid ones. Just be more careful."

"End of lecture," Buffy said cheerfully, grabbing a piece of fudge to nibble on. "Giles is back from home and he's looking forward to seeing you. He was really kinda sorry you weren't there tonight."

"No, you were," Oz told her. "You didn't want to face down your mother and your Watcher tonight over us."

"Well, yeah, that's kinda freaksome," she reminded him. "It's like having to know what my mom and Giles *do*." She shuddered. "Please, give the mental mouthwash to me?"

"Sure," Xander said, coming over to comfort her. "Let's trim your hair and we'll be fine." He pulled her up and over to one of the desk chairs, picking up a damp towel to wrap around her neck, then grabbed the bag he had carried in with him, taking out his scissors. "Okay, less than an inch," he said, feeling her hair. "Want it done wet or dry?"

"Wet," Buffy said with a nod. "But I need to get out of my shirt. There's no way I can do laundry this week and I'm running out of clothes." She pulled her shirt off under the towel while Xander went to fill his water bottle.

"No paycheck?" Oz asked, getting comfortable on her bed.

"Not for two more weeks," Buffy told him. "Work study sucks that way."

"I remember," Oz told her. "I'm doing the whole living on my disbursement thing this semester. November's going to start the fun times."

"I have some money saved from mine," Xander told him, coming back from the bathroom, kicking the door shut. "You could borrow some."

"I'm going to try and make it. I have plenty of food," Oz said serenely. "It'll be fine." He winked at Buffy. "So, four inches?"

"Less than one," Xander reminded him mock-reproachfully. "Her hair is sexy this way." She beamed up at him. "Now, Wednesday could use a trim too."

"You could do mine," Wednesday offered, holding up one of her pigtails. "I might like something shorter and sassier."

"Hey, short and sassy we can do," he said, giving her a grin. He sprayed Buffy's hair, wetting it thoroughly, then picked up her comb, using it as a guide to cut the hair. "How's that?" he asked, handing her the piece he had just cut off.

She looked at it, then nodded. "Okay." She tipped her head forward but he put it back upright. "You don't do that?"

"Nope, 'cause then you get crooked cuts." He cut the bottom of her hair, weighing the rest. "It's good that you don't have layers anymore, I'm not too confident on those yet."

Oz scooted back until he was resting against Buffy's pillows. "You're doing fine," he told his lover. "Just take your time and do your best." He looked over at Wednesday. "So, hunting?"

"Yes, and I think I found the *perfect* pet," she said with one of her chilling smiles. "Very willing already and very able to satisfy my needs. And she said that she'd bring me some new toys tomorrow." She settled herself more comfortably and started taking down her pigtails, brushing the hair out. "Eww, I need to wash this mess."

"Go ahead, it'll take me a few minutes to do hers," Xander told her, snipping another piece, going back to measure against the other one. "Buffy, how about a little taper to the sides? It'll help it lay better."

"You mean like the rounded edge thing?" She looked up and he nodded. "Okay. Did you screw up?"

"By less than a noticeable means but it occurred to me that it'd be cuter." He put her head back in the right position, taking another bunch of hair up to trim. "Yeah, this'll look better." He looked over as Wednesday walked past him carrying a towel. "Just get it kinda dry."

"Okay," she called as she shut the door.

Xander looked down at Buffy's scalp. "How long have you had these red marks?"

"Birth mark," she told him. "No big." She shrugged, feeling the scissors dragging across her neck. "Um, Xander?"

"Sorry, trying to see if it felt good."

"Little less pressure and it'd be cool." She patted his hand. "Please finish? So I can go take a shower and you can have a clean me?"

"Sure," he said with a grin, picking up the other side of her hair to trim it, then measuring it against the first side. "Perfect so far," he told her.

Xander stepped back from Wednesday's hair, grinning and turning her around to let Buffy see. "So?" he asked when he didn't get a response.

"Very short and sassy," Oz noted, getting up to walk over and look at her hair. "Some gel might be a good." He picked some up, rubbing it into her hair to help her spike it up. "Yeah, I like that," he said, stepping back. "Buffy?"

"Yeah, Buffster, what do you think?"

"I like," she said, turning away from her mirror. "You forgot three pieces." She held them in her hand, letting him come over and snip them for her. "Thank you." She leaned into him as she gave him a kiss, smiling as he dropped the scissors and clutched at her. "Thank you," she said against his lips, going in for another kiss.

Oz went back to helping Wednesday style her hair, showing her the versatility. "Just grab some gel and spike it somehow or leave it down and look more militant." He stepped back, letting her go to the mirror.

"Wow," she said, turning to him with a smile. "I like this. We need pictures so I can send one to my Uncle and one to my father, who will absolutely *crap* when he sees it."

Oz nodded. "Got a camera?"

"No, not really. Buffy?"

"Huh?" she asked, pulling herself away. "Looks good."

"Issueage was camera possession."

"Sorry, not an owner of one. I shy away from them usually." She shrugged and went back to helping Xander kiss her. "I still need a shower," she told him.

"If we were at home, you could have one in my shower," he offered. "Complete with good smelling soap." He ran his fingers through her hair. "I like hair, I've decided this, but it's your hair I like the most." He leaned in for another kiss. "Go take a shower, dear, so I can have a clean you." He grinned and stepped back from her last kiss, pushing her toward the closet. "I want to see that hair clean and dry so I can finish the trim if I left a few stragglers." He walked over to where Oz was standing, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend's waist to lean on his shoulder. "I like it," he told Wednesday. "Very changeable daily if you want, or if you decide you really want hair again, it'll grow out okay."

She nodded, heading for the bathroom. "I'm going to take a shower too. You'll see how good it looks after I'm clean."

"Showers take out gel," Oz reminded her.

"I have plenty," Buffy said as she walked out of the closet in her bathrobe. "I don't even use it usually. I'm a mouse girl." She handed Wednesday the jar of gel. "Here, have. It weighs my hair down too much." She winked at Xander as she turned, letting her bathrobe flash them. "Give me twenty, guys, do something fun."

Oz nodded, leading Xander over to Buffy's bed to lay him down and climb on top of him. "We'll be fine. Go get clean." The girls walked out together, talking about their hair and hair products. "You did good," he told Xander, kissing him. "Very good. I'm very proud."

Xander beamed. "Thanks."


Buffy looked up from her reading as she ate when someone called her name, smiling at her Resident Assistant. "Yeah, Stewart? Oh, and I talked to her, explained it all to her."

"Good," he said, sitting across from her at the table. "Not the issue this time, Summers. This time it's about your visitors. You know they can't stay over weeknights."

"It's never been planned," she offered. He shook his head. "I could have snuck them in."

"That's the spirit. That saves me paperwork and as long as Addams doesn't mind we're fine." He got up and waved, walking away. "Thank you."

"Welcome," she said, grinning. She looked around, trying to find where Oz had disappeared to, waving him over as he walked back with his new soda. "Just talked to my RA and he said I had to start sneaking you guys in, otherwise he was going to have paperwork because you're not supposed to be over on weeknights."

He nodded. "I remember that rule. I even know how to sneak in. We'll teach Xander." He looked up as he heard a familiar step coming toward their table in the cafeteria. "Hey, you're early."

"I'm grounded," he said, sitting down. "Giles grounded me. And my teachers thought the pictures I took of Wednesday's hair were cute." He took Buffy's hand. "Giles is way mad at me, but not at you guys, for us."

"I'll fix him," she promised. "It'll be okay."

"Thanks." He stole a french fry from Oz's plate and Buffy's pickle. "Thanks for lunch, guys."

"Eat," Oz said, pushing over his plate of salad. "Now. Before I have to pout."

Xander grinned and started eating. "Thank you for adding to my eating habit."

"And we're going to continue to support that habit," Buffy reminded him. "What is wrong with you eating recently? You haven't been doing a lot of that." She poked him. "No twinkies for Xander recently."

"I've been having upset stomachs lately," he said, pushing the plate away with it mostly still full. "The stress Giles is giving us isn't helping any."

Oz grunted. "Going to talk to him. I refuse to let you be sick over this." He stood up, grabbing his bag. "Going to do that now."

"No, wait. Let's go together," Buffy said, putting a hand on his arm. "It'll come better from all of us."

"Point," Oz noted as he sat back down. "We'll go tonight." He rubbed down Xander's arm. "Eat, we'll be okay. No more stress for you."

"Or are they picking on you at school again?" Buffy asked, looking him over.

"I wish you guys would warn me when you go telepathic," Xander sighed. "I was let free today because I was so mad I was shaking. The teacher actually caught them this time, which is a good, but this means there will be a note made in my file about them doing it." He pushed the plate farther away, putting his head down on the table. "I don't know what to do. Even some of the teachers agreed with them. I can't talk to anyone else about this."

"Hey, we'll fix it," Oz told him, patting the back of his head. "No more worries." Xander looked at him. "No more worrying. It's not good for you. Eat and we'll get you something for your stomach." He looked at Buffy. "We going to skip this afternoon?"

"Yeah, I'd like that," Buffy said, wiping off her mouth and tossing down her napkin. "Come on, Xander, bring the plate with you." She got up, grabbing her bag. "Let's go drop things in my room. Then we can head right over."

Oz nodded. "Sounds like a plan. You drive?" Xander handed him his keys. "Even better." He stroked through his boyfriend's dark hair, wincing at it's texture. "What happened to your hair?"

"They poured stuff in it. I didn't stay long enough to wash it out."

"Then let's go to your place and get it out. Giving you the showers would become a little problematic in the dorm," Buffy said, looking around. "Come on. We'll get a box at the desk." She led the way, grabbing the two plates. "Hi," she told the woman checking ID's, "we've just had a small emergency, could we get boxes for the rest of this?" she asked, holding up the plates. Oz was handed two boxes. "Thanks," she said as she poured the food into them, then the plates were sent into the clean-up window and the boxes went into Oz's backpack. They walked out into the afternoon light.


Xander scratched his head as he walked out of the shower, growling as his nails dug in. "Oz," he called, "it itches."

Oz walked into the bathroom and blinked, removing the hand. "Hell, no wonder. It's bleach. Buffy, get me some Benadryll and the phone." They were handed over by a worried-looking Buffy, who stood in the door. "Dial the school then take one of these," Oz told him, handing him the phone.

Xander dialed, then handed Oz the phone, using the cup next to the sink to take the little pink pill. "Thanks, guys." He looked in the mirror, his eyes getting very wide as he wiped off the mirror to look. "Oh, my God! They bleached me!"

Oz held the phone out to him. "Your instructor."

"Hey," he said, taking the phone. "No I'm not, what did they put on me? Because I now have very nice white hair with dark brown streaks." He groaned. "Okay, and the itching? No, I took some allergy medicine. No, Oz gave it to me." He leaned his forehead against the mirror. "Can I wear a hat until one of you looks at it?" He nodded and hung up. "I have to go in, they want to look at my scalp to make sure it didn't burn me."

Oz tipped Xander's head down. "It did. Badly from the looks of it." He kissed the red forehead, gently soothing his boyfriend back to normalcy. "It'll be okay. Buffy, do you have a hat in your bag?"

"I got a ball cap, but it's a stretch velvet one."

"It'll do," Xander said, heading out of the bathroom toward his bedroom. "Give me ten, guys, and we'll go." He closed the door, shaking his head as he leaned against the door. "Everyone's gonna laugh now, even more than before," he told himself. He jumped at the knock. "Not now, Oz. Please."

"Let me in," Buffy said, tapping again.

He opened the door, heading for his dresser. "Thanks for the hat loan."

"No big," she said, closing the door. "You know, it looks kinda cool, in a fadish sort of way." He shook his head. "It does. It says 'I'm different and not afraid to show it'."

"Ah, but then it's a lie," he reminded her as he pulled on underwear. "I'm not different and I don't want to show it." He grabbed a t-shirt and shorts from his closet, pulling them on with his back to her. He turned to find the hat on the bed, along with a Hershey's kiss. "Thank you," he called, eating the little treat as he pulled on the hat. He walked out to find Giles in his living room. "Not now," he begged. "You can complain about me and them later, okay? I have to go back to school to show them what the other kids did to my hair." He pushed past him. "Am I the only one going?"

"I'm going," Oz told him. "Give us a second, I think Giles wants to say something." He stared at the older man, who looked shocked. "Don't you?"

"Xander," he said, turning to look at him, "I had no idea that I was being that harsh to you. I thought I was giving them the same amount of lectures. I'm sorry if I upset you to such a degree."

"Giles," Xander said, sitting down to look up at him, " you have no idea what sort of ego- unbuilding you've been doing to me. All I've heard is how bad it is that I've finally found people that like me for myself. And that's on top of what I'm getting at school." He stood up again. "Accept that we're together or not. I'm too tired to fight you anymore." He headed for the door, leaving it open. "I'm going to go hide under the blanket on the backseat."

"Wait for me," Buffy said, glaring at Giles. "Do you know how bad it has to be for him to not be able to eat? I mean, this is Xander we're talking about and he couldn't eat fries at lunch because you've been riding him too hard. If you want to complain about who I'm sleeping with, complain to me." She walked out, leaving him and Oz alone.

Oz cleared his throat. "Why can't you accept us?" he asked quietly, sitting on the arm of the couch.

"It's not something that I've been taught to accept. I was taught to fight for things that I thought were morally wrong. Unfortunately, I thought you three weren't serious, that you were playing with Buffy's emotions and her need to be with someone." He sighed, sitting down on the couch. "I never meant to hurt him."

"Neither did the kids at the beauty school but they did. Same as you did. We'll be over tonight, after we have his head checked." Oz stood up, heading out. "Lock the door behind yourself."

Giles relaxed, shaking his head. "How do I make up for this? I had no idea I was being this destructive to him." He stood up, heading out of the apartment, mindful to lock the door before he left.


Xander's teacher let his head come back up, shaking her own. "I'm sorry, it's fried. Your hair and your scalp both. There's no way we can overdye it to fix this, Mr. Harris."

Xander sighed, shaking his head. "What do I do? Can I wear a hat to class for a while?"

"It's against the rules. You're supposed to be living proof of your skills." He nodded, looking up at her. "I'm afraid you'll have to live with it. But I do have some good news," she said as she put her comb into the sink. "The three that accosted you have turned over the other one and they're all expelled as of this afternoon. You won't have worry about them again."

"Cool, but I still look like a freak."

"I was wondering how the stripping solution managed to get your hair that white."

"Um, I dye it about three shades darker," he said with a light blush. "That's how Giles found out I was good with hair." He looked up and shrugged. "My mother started it to make me look more like the rest of my family. Started it well before I started school."

"That's just wrong," Buffy protested.

"And dangerous," Xander's teacher agreed. "Objectively, it isn't such a terrible look for you. It's very individual and trendy right now. Basically you have two choices."

"Accept it or shave it?" Oz suggested. "Don't shave your head, you'll look really funny."

"As opposed to now?" Xander asked sarcastically.

"It's kinda cool," Buffy told him, giving him a hug. "It'll be okay, Xander. Anyone who picks on you has to go through me." She nodded, kissing his cheek. "No more bullies for you, young man, 'cause I won't let it happen."

"Gee, mom, thanks," Xander said, but he was giving her a smile. "I guess I'll just have to accept it. But you have to promise not to laugh when I scream in the morning."

"Deal," Oz told him. "We'd better go, Giles wants to apologize." He helped Xander up and gave him the hat.

Buffy smiled at the teacher. "Thanks for sticking up for him."

"He's a good student, Mr. Harris picks up concepts pretty well and he's able to be corrected. That alone makes him a better student than half of his class." She looked at Buffy's hair. "Did he trim you?"

Buffy nodded. "And my roommate's hair. Why? Is it bad?" She fluffed it out.

"No, I just caught sight of a few shorter strands."

"It's growing out from layers," Xander told his teacher. "I chose to leave those because she didn't want much taken off."

"It looks good enough. Are you satisfied with it?" Buffy nodded. "Then that's what's important." She smiled at Xander. "Very good job, Mr. Harris. I'll let you slack off during that lecture tomorrow." She waved at the door. "You should go, before the others make up more rumors." She stopped Buffy from leaving first. "Why don't you walk next to him instead of his other friend? It might stop some of the rumors."

"Gee, cuddling up next to you," Xander said, giving Buffy a grin. "I think I could do that." He walked out with an arm around her waist, tickling her lightly so she smiled. "Let's go face the other tormenter."

"He's going to apologize," Oz said from behind them. "He had no idea he was so hard on you and not on us." He followed them all the way out to the car. "We okay now?" he asked softly as he brushed up against his boyfriend getting into the car.

"Yeah, much," Xander said, giving him a true, bright smile; the first one in weeks. "Thank you, the both of you."

"Welcome," Buffy said, "but I didn't do anything. It was all you, Xander." She reached over to the front seat, brushing the side of his face. "Take off the hat, dear, I want to see your hair in the sunlight. It almost glowed."

"I have special shampoo at home to help moisturize it faster," Oz told him. "It's supposed to help it grow."

"Good," Xander said with a nod. "I could use that. Just as long as it grows out it's natural color."

"What is your natural color?" Buffy asked him. "Like a light brown?"

"About a medium, but it's been a while since I've seen it so I can't be sure."

"Your mother's a dick," Oz told him. "I bet you have beautiful hair."

"I do, but my father kept accusing her of fooling around and getting pregnant with me. That's why she started to dye it, so he'd leave her alone about that." He shrugged at the sorry looks he got. "It's okay, I'm not there anymore."

"Yeah, you're not," Oz said, grasping his hand as they stopped at a stoplight. "Seatbelt, Xander," he reminded. "Expensive ticket if you're not."

"Forgot," Xander muttered, pulling the seatbelt on. "There, better?"

"Much," Oz said, leaning over to kiss his cheek. "Much better. I don't want you to be hurt." He kissed Buffy's cheek the same way for the benefit of the people watching in the next car over. He waved as they pulled away, leaving the other driver staring at them in shock.

Buffy snickered. "That was Willow's mother."

"Yeah, and?" Oz asked. "I knew that. That's why I kissed you both. I knew it'd get back to her."

"She'll be happy for us," Xander told him, squeezing the hand that was holding his. "She wanted you to be happy. She wanted all of us to be happy."

"Yeah, she did," Buffy said, leaning back. "Oh, Giles' car," she said, pointing. "At the grocery store. Mom must have had the munchies."

"We'll lurk for a while," Oz told them. "That way he can get home first." He took a right turn, heading back toward Xander's apartment. "Let's go ditch the car for now. We can walk the six blocks."

"We may be coming back after dark," Buffy reminded them.

"Point," Oz agreed, nodding. "Hadn't thought of that." He tapped the steering wheel. "Lets go up and get CD's then. We'll head over after picking up tunes. Maybe grab a picnic and go have fun later?"

"Sure," Buffy said with a smile. "I just have to have a good excuse for teachers."

"Family emergency," Xander told her. She looked at him in shock. "What? I'm your boyfriend and I had an emergency."

"Point," she admitted with a grin. "Harassment is bad." Oz nodded, looking at her. "What about you?"

"What? I don't lie about being with the both of you." Oz parked the car, getting out. "Come on, I want music."

Xander grabbed her hand. "Oz is way comfy with us, but I understand if you're not. I'm still not comfy with all of us. Or even me really." He let her go and got out, heading up after his boyfriend.

Buffy walked up after them. "That wasn't what I meant. What I meant to say was, if my mother thinks we're bad and evil for this, what will my teachers think?"

"Ah." Oz stood up, handing her a CD. "Do you care?" She shook her head. "Then don't worry."

"Yeah," she said with a slow smile, "I guess I shouldn't worry so much about that. I don't care what they think so I can tell them the truth, for once." She hugged Oz. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," he said, clinging to her. "We're all insecure in our own ways about this relationship, Buffy. Don't be afraid to talk to us."

"Yup," Xander said from the kitchen, coming back with three glasses in his hands. "Get before I drop."

Oz took one, handing Buffy the other. "Drink. We'll need it." He took a sip. "Hmm, orange fuzzy water. Good, thanks." He went back to digging through the pile of CD's.

"You guys need to get that stuff organized," Buffy said, frowning at the leaning pile of CD's and tapes. "I think that'll be my contribution for the apartment."

"You're going to clean?" Xander asked slyly, giving her a kiss on the side of her neck.

"No," she sighed, rolling her eyes. "Just organize it a little. Get something to put the CD's in and stuff." She turned, kissing him, looking at his hair. "It's kinda neat looking. As long as it doesn't glow in the dark."

"It shouldn't," Oz told her, standing up with a smaller stack of CD's in his hand. "Okay, Giles should be done shopping. Let's head over there."

"I'm not sure I want to go," Xander said softly, looking at Oz. "Are you sure it's not just because he's sorry you yelled at him?"

"He's really sorry," Buffy told him, squeezing him. "I've seen that look, he doesn't get it often and only when he's said something really bad and mean to me. He's really sorry he's been on you about us so it's okay."

Xander nodded, grabbing the hat to put back on but Oz grabbed it. "Hey!" Xander complained.

"No, get used to it now, among friends. That way you don't feel so bad in the morning." He rubbed down the younger man's chest. "I really like it on you. It's very cool. You could even use temporary dye to cover some of it up. Maybe funky colors or something." He gave Xander a short, intense kiss. "Now, let's go. You're driving."

"You have the keys," Xander pointed out, following Oz out the door.

Buffy just smiled, following them out.


Giles looked up as the three young people walked through his door, giving them all smiles, until he saw Xander's hair. "My goodness, what happened?" he asked, pulling Xander over to look at his head under the light. "Who did this to you?"

"A few of the kids in his program," Oz said as he sat down on the couch.

"They were expelled," Buffy added, giving Xander a smile. "His teacher even said it was a neat look."

"Ah." He let Xander go, looking into his eyes before giving him a hug. "I am so very sorry that I was so harsh with you, my boy, I never meant to be that harsh to you or to any of you," he admitted as he pulled back. "I'm very sorry and I can only hope I haven't wrecked everything we've had between us."

"Nope, we're good," Xander said, giving him a faint smile. "Just no more lectures for a while, okay?"

"Of course not," Giles said, frowning at him. "I wouldn't think of it." He pointed at the couch. "Sit, you should be starved by now."

Oz shook his head. "Buffy and I had lunch."

She whapped him on the arm. "Shh, I didn't." She smiled up at her Watcher. "So, did you talk to Wednesday yet?"

"Yes, she and I had a discussion this morning. I...I called and then she came over." He looked in the kitchen, heading that way. "I should get lunch before it burns."

Buffy watched him pull a pan out of the oven then turned to grin at Xander. "Your hair kinda looks blond in this light. Getting roots may be bad for you."

"It may," he agreed, "but I could be dying it by then. My hair just needs to rest."

Oz fingered one of the dry pieces. "It feels like hay. You could use temporary dye, but real dye would make it break off." He looked over at Buffy, giving her hair a bland look. "Speaking of roots, babe."

"Hey, it's just sun bleaching. I didn't get much recently so the new hair isn't as light."

Xander coughed. "Okay. Um, if you want me to put lemon juice or something on them, just yell."

She smiled. "That's the spirit. Tactful and nice about it." She looked up, craning her neck as Giles carried a tray in to where they were sitting. "Should we be hitting the table?"

"I trust you can eat in a regular chair by now," Giles told her with a smile as he put the tray down on the coffee table. "There, dig in please."

Buffy looked at the food, frowning. "Gee, looks like Mother food. She's been a big influence on you, huh?"

Oz snorted, picking up a plate and a fork. "I like your mother's cooking."

"Is the blue one special?" Xander asked, picking it up.

"It's the least spicy piece," Giles told him. "I figured, from Buffy's and Oz's descriptions, that you didn't need the full amount of peppers or spices."

"Thanks, Giles," Xander said, giving him a smile. "We're really okay?"

"We're fine, my boy," Giles said, sitting beside him, handing Buffy the last plate. "Eat, young lady."

"Huh? Sorry, just lost in places where I didn't want to go." Giles and Oz both looked at her. "Sorry, but I'm still weirded by you and my mom."

"Would you feel the same if she were dating someone else?" Giles asked softly.

"Yeah, pretty muchly." She gave him a small shrug. "I'm sorry, it's just bad for me to think about."

"That's fine then," Giles told her, leaning over to pat her knee. "That's a normal reaction. We'd only have problems if it was me specifically you objected to."

"Nope, I realize you're a good guy to date." She took a bite of the meat, smiling. "S'great. Much better than mom's. Her's is a lot more bland."

"I made that version for Xander," Giles told her with a smirk. "I used to room with an Arabic chap and his Indian girlfriend. They taught me judicious use of spices." He relaxed, putting his arm around Xander's shoulders. "I am very proud of how well you've been doing in school, Xander. You've managed to live up to all my expectations and make me see I set them much too low for you."

Xander coughed, then looked up at him. "Really?" Giles nodded. "No funnin'?"

"No, Xander, it's not a joke. You've been doing very well. I've seen your midterm grades and I must say I'm impressed. You are definitely a good student at the more practical trades."

Buffy nodded. "He trimmed my hair and gave Wednesday her new cut." She smiled at Oz, then turned it on Giles. "So, what did you think of my roommate?"

"She's a bit odd for her family, but otherwise, she's an Addams. That's how they are."

"She said she was a closet fuzzy person," Xander told him, scraping his plate. "That was good. Thank you for supporting my eating habit too."

"You're welcome," Giles told him, giving his shoulders a little squeeze. He turned his attention back to Buffy. "She said some very nice things about how you've readily accepted her and been so very gentle with initiating her into the school. She was most complimentary of all of you."

"I like her," Oz said, putting down his empty plate and putting his feet up. "She's different but it's a good different, one that has confidence."

"I want to meet her new pet," Buffy said, pointing with her fork. "Considering who her last boyfriend was, I feel like I should check them out, just to make sure it's okay."

Giles gave her an enigmatic smile. "Oh, he's fine. Actually, both of her new pets are fine. I talked with her about them this morning and she divulged their identity with some joy. Along with the news that she's being allowed to move off campus at the end of this semester."

"Hey, then I can pay for a private room," Buffy said, bouncing a little. "No more roomies."

"Thought you did it this time," Oz asked, shifting so he was slouched a little more.

"I did, and I still have the payment coming back. I may just make them keep it for next semester."

"By the time they pay you, it'll be time to do Christmas shopping," Xander pointed out. "That extra three hundred will come in handy."

"Yup, and you're getting organizers for Christmas. One for tapes and one for CD's." She smirked at him. "And a few surprises."

"Cool," he said, giving her a smile. He turned to Oz, giving him the same smile. "I have my list of tapes I'd like copied, if you'd like it soon."

"Please," he sighed, eyes closed. "That way I don't have to do it all at once." Giles smiled, handing Xander the throw off the back of the couch, nodding at Oz. Xander covered his boyfriend, giving him a small, loving smile as he sat back up. "Thanks, I'll be up in a few," Oz said as he snuggled into Xander's side.

"Sure, you nap," Xander told him, wrapping Oz into his arms.

Buffy was still smiling. "Mom's dinners usually do that to you." She looked at Giles. "So, give. Who are the new pets?"

"She asked me not to tell you until it became germane to the situation," Giles told her with a frown. "When it's necessary, she'll let you in on the secret also." He handed her a book. "Here, you need to study this. It's the next prophecy."

She flipped to the bookmark, leaning back to read. "What are gimblets?"

"Little nasty creatures who eat everything," Giles said. "Not them, the other page."

"Oh, okay. What does this demon do?"

"It blows deadly snot," Giles said, taking off his glasses to clean them. "As with most species, the female is more deadly and it's their year to nest this century. I'm sure that a number of them are coming here to do so."

"Oh, cool, so we get to fight mommies in waiting?" Xander asked. "Why do I think that not even armor's going to help us this time."

"We'll have to make their nests unhabitable."

"What does that?" Buffy asked, closing the book. "Light, smoke, smells?"

"A combination of all three. They seem to be sickened by the smell of baking bread, something about the yeast I believe. They aren't afraid or damaged by sunlight, but their young are harmed by it while they're in egg form. Which is really just a small sac with liquid. As for smoke? Unless we can get a lot of smokers together, it's not very practical. Tobacco sickens them even worse than it does first time smokers."

"Okay, so we have to pipe in baking bread smells and light?" she said, brow wrinkling. "How do we do that?"

"Toaster ovens?" Xander suggested. "To bake the bread in."

"If there's electricity, that's an excellent idea," Giles said, nodding. "It's very doable also."

"They make 110-to-car adapters," Buffy pointed out, "that way you can run things like hair dryers in the car." Both awake men looked at her. "What? My mother has three of them for trips."

"Ah," Giles said, nodding. "That may be the best solution yet. We could get the cars near to a nest, at least in theory."

"Or we could have Wednesday go deal with them," Xander joked. "She's been wanting more playmates."

"Her present ones won't be easily broken," Giles told him, "she won't need a new one for a few more months."

"Oh, okay then. Then we're definitely going with the baking bread and UV lights?"

Buffy nodded. "Sounds best." She looked at Oz. "Did you keep him up last night?"

"No, he went to bed, it must have been stress. Or the food." Xander shrugged, trying to get a little further under Oz's body. "We'll be okay, as long as he can nap."

"I can get up," Oz mumbled, looking up at Xander. "I got up in the middle of the night. Dreams."

"Ah," Giles said, standing up and moving to the chair in the corner. "Why don't you stretch out then. Buffy and I can make plans to take on the nests while Xander plays the role of your pillow."

Oz nodded, scooting down the couch until he was comfortable with how he was lying, winking at Xander as he closed his eyes.

Xander ran his fingers through the soft red hair, then through his own, shaking his head. "I can't believe they did this to my hair."

"It'll be fixed," Buffy reminded him. "Oz has lots of cool dyes you can put on it to make it look different. Maybe even enough to match your outfit."

"Got six colors," Oz mumbled, rolling onto his side and kicking the blankets away from his feet.

Xander scooted down, pulling Oz with him, adjusting the blankets so he was able to nap too.

Buffy waited until they were asleep to smile at her Watcher. "What did you dose them with?"

"Just a little bit of herbs. They both seemed to need a rest." He opened the book again, tapping the page. "They'll pick populated areas and they hunt during the day. Maybe we'll be fine in the fact that we can slip in and scent the place with that smell."

"Maybe we can get candles or sprays of baking bread smell," she said, frowning at the book.


Buffy walked into her room, looking at her roommate, who was oiling a whip, smiling as she shut the door behind her. "So, I heard you went to see Giles today. What'd you think of him?"

"I think he's much nicer than the last Watcher we met." She looked up. "How was your day?"

"Kinda strange. Some kids at Xander's school picked on him by pouring stripping solution on his hair. He has really pretty white hair now, with a few strands of his original color." She sat down on her bed, looking at Wednesday. "Oz and he took a Giles-induced nap because they needed it. I got to plan on how to get rid of some demons that are sickened by the smell of baking bread."

"They won't be coming this year," Wednesday said. "Willie said so." She looked up. "We went in there last night to meet my new pet's toy. Her gift was most appropriate, now I have all I could want, until they break." She just barely grinned. "You might want to tell him what Willie said.

"What else did Willie say?"

"Only that he welcomed me because I was going to be good for business. And that it was about time someone broke my pet."

Buffy nodded, picking up the phone. "Okay." She dialed the number, putting the phone to her ear. "Hey, it's me. Wednesday said that Willie said that the anti-bread demons aren't going to come. No, Willie liked her, said her pets needed broken."

Wednesday held a hand out, taking the phone as it was handed to her. "Willie said that they weren't coming here this year, something about something worse that they didn't want to risk the next generation on. He also said that some of them may not spawn so therefore die unfollowed." She nodded and hung up. "He said we're having a meeting tonight, he wants you to go to Willie's and ask what's worse."

"Sure," Buffy sighed, leaning back on her bed. "I can do that."


Buffy frowned at the demon bar's owner, tapping her fingers on her hips. "I don't care about your clients, I just want to know what's worse than the anti-bread demons? Besides me. I mean, it's a little on the disheartening side that I'm not considered the worst threat around here."

Willie shook his head. "There are things not even you can beat, Slayer." He wiped off the bar, looking at the door as it opened, eyes going wide. "Her for one. The nasty little eating things are worse, but not by much."

Buffy turned, grinning at her roommate. "Hey, come to help?"

"Giles called me from playing with my pets to come make sure you were fine." She gave Willie one of her cold smiles. "I need supplies for my pets," she demanded.

"Fine," Willie said, nodding. "I'll have them sent over to their warehouse." He looked at Summers then back at her. "You two know each other?"

"She's my roommate at school," Buffy said dryly. "Speaking of pets, can I meet them?"

"Of course, but you can't complain." She whistled and Buffy's mouth fell open when her pets were paraded in. "This is my pet keeper, he's proven his worth," she said, scratching the side of his face.

Buffy stared at the bleached blond vampire holding the leash, mouth working without any sound coming out. "Spike?" she managed to gasp finally.

"Yes, he's a very good pet keeper, helps me teach them very well."

"'Ello, Slayer," he said with a grin. "Do you really want to meet her pets?" Buffy nodded numbly. "Fine. Don't say she didn't warn you." He snapped his fingers and tugged on the leash. "Ah, good pets," he crooned, patting the side of Druscilla's face as she walked in and knelt beside Wednesday's leg, rubbing her face against it.

"Very good," Wednesday said, patting her head. "Yes, you'll break very prettily." She grabbed the leash, pulling on it. "Get in here," she growled at the other pet. "No more hiding, or you'll get punishment. I'll let Spot play with you."

Buffy shuddered, freezing as she saw who was on the other end of the leash. "Angel?" she squeaked.

"Angelus," Spike corrected. "Wednesday broke him so very easily." He sneered at her shock. "What? Thought he was going to stay the good little boy forever?" He laughed at her, turning to cuff Angelus upside the head. "You know better than to disobey, pet."

Angelus looked up, nodding. "Sorry," he mumbled, rubbing both Spike's and Wednesday's hands. "Thank you for correcting me."

"You're welcome, but you will be punished tonight," Wednesday told him, leaning down to bite his cheek. "Now, be a good boy and sit." Angelus sat, looking up at her. "Good boy." She turned her chilling smile on Buffy. "Are you all right?"

Buffy nodded, backing away from them. "Yeah, um, fine." She nodded some more and ran out, listening to Spike's laughter follow her. She ran all the way to Giles', busting through the door. "Wednesday's badder than the anti-bread demons," she panted. "She broke *Angel*."

Giles patted the couch. "She assured me he wouldn't cause any problems, and neither would Druscilla or Spike be allowed to cause you problems. You can relax and think about this."

"She broke my ex!" Buffy complained. "Not even I could do that."

"Shh," Xander said, coming over to hug her. "It'll be okay. I'm sure she can teach you how she did it. Just don't practice it on us." Oz nodded from his seat in the chair. "See, we'll be okay. We just have to accept that that's her."

"Yeah, I guess," Buffy sighed, relaxing into his arms. "We'll be okay. I just have to calm down."

Someone knocked on the door so Giles went over to answer it. "Oh, Wednesday, welcome. Please leave your pets outside."

"Of course," she said, pointing at the doorway. "Stay, or no dinner." She walked inside, going over to where Buffy was huddled in Xander's arms. "Are we going to have a problem?"

Buffy shook her head. "It just freaked me badly to see Angel like that." She blinked. "Don't bring him home, okay? I like Spot a lot better than I like those two."

"I may be bringing Spike home, but he'll be good, I promise. I may even let him have a treat and give him the people who keep waking you up."

"Not a good idea," Oz said, looking up. "Dead bodies in the dorm tend to make everyone look at Buffy." Giles stared at him. "Everyone's figured out she's special but not why or how."

"Ah. Then of course they'd look to her, to see why she didn't protect them." Giles patted Wednesday's head. "Just be judicious and keep them on tight leashes, my dear. We'll be fine as long as they're careful and they don't get to hunt."

"Where's the fun of that?" Spike complained from the door.

"You could be dust," Xander pointed out, looking over his shoulder. "Chipped still?" Spike flipped him off and walked away. "Yeah, he's still chipped so we'll be fine with him coming into the room. He can't hurt Buffy."

"If he tried, he'd end up my newest pet," Wednesday told him, giving a little diffident shrug. "Is he allowed into the room?"

"Just him," Buffy said, sitting up. "No allowances for my ex."

"Of course not. You're not into that sort of pain." Wednesday nodded at Giles. "I'm going to go play with them, Angelus needs punished. We're going to show him why Spot is still my favorite pet."

Giles smiled at her. "I don't believe we need the details, but if you need us, we're here."

"The same can be said for me. I'll be moving off campus this next semester, my father made the school see sense."

"Cool for you," Buffy said, giving her a smile. "We can help you move and find a spot."

"No, I have plenty of helpers. It can be their physical chores for the day." She waved. "I'll be home before class tomorrow." Then she was gone.

"Wow," Xander said, looking at Buffy. "Way out there, huh?"

"Very," Oz agreed, putting down his book to look at Buffy. "You good?"

"Yup, very," she said with a sudden smile. "I just know she's going to make him pay for all his past bads to us."

Giles nodded. "Most likely, considering she asked for a list of them." He smiled at the young people's shocked looks. "What? I'm quite glad of it myself. Seeing Angel kneeling and ready to beg that way makes me feel very good about certain events in my past." He headed for the kitchen. "I'm making popcorn, should I make some for you?"

"Please," Buffy and Xander said. Oz just nodded.

"Good, then we'll relax for the night," Giles told them. "Someone turn on the television. There's something on PBS I wanted to watch."

"Antiques Roadshow?" Xander suggested as he turned on the TV with the remote.

"Yes, that one. I found them misjudging what a box was the other day. It was most funny."

"Yup, all happy again," Buffy said, shaking her head. "We'll be okay." She smiled at Oz. "Does this mean you guys can sneak in and get cuddles tonight?"

"Yup." Oz came over to cuddle with them. "And next semester we'll have the room to ourselves."

"And this summer, we can work on all getting a place together. Maybe," Xander amended at Giles' grunt.

"Maybe," Oz agreed, giving him a private smile. "Maybe we'll even let Wednesday move into the basement so we can keep an eye on her and her pets."

"That would be a nice idea," Giles told them, coming out with the first bag of popcorn. "Here we go, tell me when it starts."