Giles watched as the tranquilized werewolf was put into the back of a van, smiling at the other Watcher and his helpers. "Thank you for this. He really does need some help. Oz thinks that he's lost himself to the wolf."
"I'm sure we'll find out what he needs soon enough." The Watcher stopped and looked around. "Where's the girl?"
"Sileya's at school. She had to hand in a paper today for History class. A very good one at that." He saw the pity in the other man's eyes. "To her, that's important." Giles looked deep into his old friend's eyes and got a very bad feeling about what was going to happen to the man they had saved. "You're going to study him, aren't you?" he said softly. When he got a nod, he shook his head, chanting under his breath as he headed for the house, knocking the men out. He walked back out with a set of handcuff keys, Xander's hostage insurance as Oz called them, and unlocked the unlucky man. He stood him up, looking into his eyes. "You're not going with them after all. You don't need to die so they can study one of us." The other werewolf hugged him. "I know, we'll call Blair." He walked him up to the house and into his private office, dialing the phone as he sat them down. "Blair? Yes, it is. Yes, I know I have to come see you today. I need to bring a problem to your attention though. No, I think it's something that your vast network of contacts may be able to handle." He looked the other man over, seeing he was starting to come out of his drugged and dazed state. "No, we had an attack by another werewolf, out of the normal pattern, and he's here now. He's been lost to the wolf. No, I tried the Council, they wanted to *study* him," he sneered. "I doubt that I'd let another human being go through that." He chuckled. "Yes, something like that would be perfect, Blair. I'll bring him in with me today?" He nodded and hung up. He leaned closer to the other wolf, patting him on the side of the face. "Don't worry, Blair's got many friends and he knows someone who can help you find your way back again." He leaned back in his chair, smiling out the window as he watched the Council's people wake and start to sort themselves out. "Go away," he called. "You're not ripping apart a human just to figure out what sort of virus this is." He watched with loathing as the Council left.
Giles handed Blair's wife, Sam, the box of books he had brought to help Blair deal with Spike, letting Jim handle the tranquilized werewolf. "He changed in the car, the vibrations scared him I think." He patted the wolf's arm, getting a weak growl for it. "Don't do that, these people are good and will help you find yourself again. You can *trust* them, Peter." Blair raised an eyebrow as he came out of his office. "We had to call him something," Giles said with a shrug.
"Okay, Peter it is until we can get him to remember his own name," Sam said with a shrug, giving her husband a smile. "I've got the books. Want me to start looking through them?"
"Please," Blair said, opening his office door. "Jim, Elder StoneFeather will be here tonight. Let's put him somewhere he can sleep and guard himself. And somewhere manageable."
"Storage closet?" Sam suggested.
"That would work if we can put down some cushions or something. It has a sink that we can leave a trickle of water running in."
Everyone turned to look at Giles for his opinion. "That would be excellent as long as there's space for him to lie down in. We've been erring on the side of over-cautious with his medication for now and I think he'll need to sleep some of it off soon." He reached into his jacket pocket and handed over a bottle of pills. "This is what we've been using if it helps you any. Just make him comfortable and give him a space that he can defend if he panics."
"Storage closet," Blair said with a nod, heading back into the office. "Come on, Rupert."
"Coming." Giles followed him in, shutting the door behind himself. "Ah, Spike," he said, coming over to stand in front of the emotionally injured vampire. "I've brought them your Chronicles and a few books that should help them get you back into a more normal attitude." He sat beside him. "I've had a discussion with Willow. She seemed upset but that was before we talked to you that night." He reached over to pat Spike on the arm. "We'll figure out how to fix you for real this time."
"Get off!" Spike growled, shifting away from him. "If you had fixed me the first time when I came to you, none of this would've happened!"
"Spike," Blair said gently, "can you see why they did it?"
"Yeah," he sighed, going limp. "I can. I woulda done the same bloody thing." He looked at Giles. "The chip?"
"I thought Willow shorted it out?"
"Yeah, but her spell acts like it, only it adds an emotional part too."
"Hmm," Giles said, getting comfortable. "I'll need to know more about the spell. It's very possible that we could counter it if we knew the spell itself." He looked out the window. "I doubt an average reversal spell would work on this, it's much too specific. We'll have to find a copy of the spell and then work on it from there." He turned to look at Spike again. "It should take us a few days once we have a copy of the spell."
"I thought the whelp got the spellbook?"
"He did, but when I looked through it, it wasn't in there. Your thrall spell was, but not this one."
"Oh." Spike glared at a potted plant. "You gonna beat it outta her?"
"No, I'm going to try a different approach," Giles said with a cruel smile. "This goes well beyond what I was willing to tolerate from her." He patted Spike's shoulder again. "Have you told your Sire yet?"
"The poof," Blair cleared his throat. "Sorry, picked that up too fast. *Angel* knows that Spike's in my care but not why. Spike didn't want him to know and I wasn't going to force the issue." He smiled at his patients. "We're only going to him for supplies."
"Yeah, he even shared when a blood bank truck was brought into the community. Gave me his share, he did." Spike smiled at Blair. "Was the best I've 'ad in a bit."
"I'm sure it was, but I still have some issues about letting you go hunt humans."
"I *said* I'd stick with the bad ones," Spike pointed out.
"I doubt the LAPD would ignore such bodies," Giles reminded him. "It's not often that you run into somewhere like Sunnydale, where no one wants to know."
Spike sighed and threw up his hands. "I know, but this is annoyin'. There's way too much *love* in here," he spat. "It's sickenin', Rupert."
"I understand," Giles said calmly, "but it could be worse. You could be doing this in the vampire community at large and then everyone would know."
"At least then they'd be warned," Spike muttered.
"If you'd like, I could drop in on Angel before I go home and tell him about her spell," Giles offered.
Spike turned to look at him, considering the man sitting in front of him. "You'd not tell him about me?"
"Not if you don't wish. Just that I know that one has been used as a guinea pig and what the spell's for."
Spike nodded. "Please. He can spread it around." He turned back to look out between the blinds. "Tell him that it makes the demon sleep."
Giles' mouth fell open. "Truly?" Spike nodded, not turning back around, and Giles cleared his throat. "I see. Then I shall definitely tell him, and Homer as he's a halfie." He looked over at Blair. "There's another complication, Spike has a soul in him, t-two actually."
"She never put Faith's in me. The knife's under her pillow. Seems Red fancied the bint." Spike turned and glared at him. "The priest actually feels sorry for me right now, I can hear 'im."
"Oh, dear," Giles sighed, shaking his head. "You're closer to human than you've been since you turned, Spike. We have to get this off you before it permanently corrupts your demon and you slowly fade into nothingness." He looked at Blair. "With your leave, I'll go talk to Angel. He would have a better grasp of this situation than I. Maybe he'll know some way to make the demon wake up."
"It's not a literal sleep," Spike told him, coming back over to sit down. "It's more of a paralysis. I can 'ear it, but I can't feel it. I've had one that slept before for a few weeks, Dru did somethin' to it, but this is different." He looked deeply into the brown eyes, then nodded. "Tell him it's me, maybe he'll understand if you tell him it's different than what Dru did."
Giles stood up. "I will." He nodded at Blair. "I have Oz's cellphone if you need me. The werewolf is due another dosage in about six hours, but it's safe to do in another four if you need to. Don't go near him with a tranq gun though, he tends to attack them." He looked over at Spike. "Maybe you could keep him calm? He's immersed in the wolf, we're not even sure he's still mentally available."
Spike shrugged. "I can try, but I won't guarantee I won't bite 'im."
"That would be fine, as long as you don't kill him," Blair reminded him. He waved a hand at Giles. "Have fun. How are things in your house?"
"Good," Giles said, giving him a warm smile. "Xander and I are getting along better than ever. We've not been fighting and I'm trying to be supportive of Xander's hobby...er, job. We're working on it," he said to ease the growing frown. "I'd best go, Angel should be about to get up." He walked out, hurrying to his car.
Angel shook his head, pulling one foot up to rest on his other thigh. "How long has this vampire been affected?"
"Not over a week. It's been four days since he went to Blair." He looked down. "He said it's not like his demon is sleeping, but more like it's in a coma, or paralyzed, even though he can still hear it."
"And I bet Spike remembers *real* well what Dru did to him too," Angel said dryly, smirking at the distressed look the former Watcher was giving him. "It's been obvious. I was letting him salvage some of his pride."
"That may not be possible," Giles told him firmly. "Spike's not able to do anything. This spell has went *far* beyond a normal thrall spell, or even something to quiet the demon." Angel's mouth opened but he went on relentlessly. "Spike's not in any shape to do anything. He's worse than Xander was when he was suicidal. He's so bad that even Blair's worried about him being able to be cured, even after we remove the spell. He can't hunt, he can't fight this, and he can't do many things without supervision. He's not the same Spike you knew. This ...neutering spell of hers has changed him so badly that he's a new person, one that's much more desperate than you."
Angel shook his head. "Do you have the spell?"
"No, but I'm going to try and get it tonight. Before she can work it again. And she never gave him the soul that Xander put into the knife. He said even the priest's soul he has is sorry for him; he can hear him now you know."
Angel stiffened. "He can?" Giles nodded. "Damn it, this has gone too far." He picked up a vase and threw it against the stairs as his game face flashed with his anger. "This has really gone too far." He stood up. "I'm going over to Blair's office to see him. You get the spell and work on the counter. I don't want my childe to die this way." He walked up the stairs to his office, leaving Giles to make his own way out.
Giles stood up, slowly walking up the stairs, stopping in the office to smile at Doyle and the two boys. "How are they?"
"Fine," Doyle said, blinking up at him. "Sleepin', for once."
"Yes, well, if you'd like, you could bring them to us for a night off. After this tragedy in the making is done of course, but we'd be happy to watch over them for you and Cordelia both. We're more than happy to do so." He smiled down at the boys, chuckling as one sneezed and his spikes came out. "Oh, Doyle, could you talk to a young man for me? I don't know how to handle some of the more ... delicate things for him and he's dating Sileya."
"The new Slayer?" Doyle asked in amazement. "What is it with them an' us?"
Giles smiled. "It's Willow's cousin, Homer. He's a very nice boy. We don't mind the union at all, but I feel that there are things that we can't discuss with him. And there have been a few incidences at the high school with half-demons being beaten. I think that he could use some support from a more experienced, older, and wiser person."
Doyle smiled. "Sure, next time I'm in town, I'll stop in and chat him up." He rocked the basket the babies were lying in. "Gonna go beat the kid's cousin?"
"Oh," Giles said, his cruel smile coming back out, "I may do more than that. What she's done has no reasonable excuse, especially since she's doing it on Buffy's orders." He nodded at Doyle and left, heading home.
Giles finished casting the last of the spell as he stepped up to Willow's door and knocked, smirking at Tara as she let him in. "Girls, I do believe we need to have a talk. Sit, dear," he ordered, pointing at the couch beside Willow, who now couldn't move.
Tara sat down, her face a blank. "Yes, Giles," she said, ready to obey him, as was Willow.
"Girls, I'm most distressed about what I've heard of this new neutering spell. It's gotten to the point where I cannot ignore this any longer. I realize you thought this was a good idea for a long distance offensive spell, but it's much too dangerous to let you use it again. I will have a copy of the spell and I will know where Buffy is."
Tara stood up, her face still blank as she walked into their bedroom, coming back with a scroll. She handed it over, kneeling before him. "Is there anything else?"
Giles unrolled the scroll, reading it. Then he looked up and waved a hand across Tara's face, breaking the spell for both of them, and waited.
"GILES!" Willow shrieked, "you had *no* right to do this!"
"Now you know how it feels to be Spike at the moment," he said, getting up and leaving. "Don't try it again, Willow, I'd hate to have to hide your magic from you." He slammed the door, heading down to his car, meeting Homer and Sileya there since they were leaning on it. "Hello," he said, giving them a smile. "How was school?"
"Better than it looks like your day was," Sileya said dryly. "How did the hand-over go?"
"Not well at all, I'm afraid. I couldn't let the Council take him, I doubt he wanted to be torn apart to his basic components so they could study the virus." Homer shuddered. "Yes, well, he's with Blair now." Sileya smiled at him. Giles looked down at the scroll in his hands. "Homer, do be *very* careful up there. A-actually, why don't you come home for dinner with us tonight? I think it'd be s-safer." He cleared his throat. "We have to work on the spell your cousin worked on Spike."
"I was starting to wonder about the whole cousin/aunt thing," Sileya said, frowning.
"It's a both, from different sides of my family. Paternally, she's a cousin. Somehow, my maternal side is related to her. Aunt should be more in quotes than anything else." He looked at her. "How do you feel now?"
"Fine, better actually."
"Did something happen at school today?" Giles asked, alarmed.
"Yeah, we had to break up a fight between a halfie and half of the basketball team," Homer said softly. Sileya reached over to rub the back of his neck. "She's not real great right now, but the Principal sent her back to class instead of to the nurse's."
Giles turned to glare at the street. "Then you're definitely coming out with us tonight. We have to fix this." He nodded toward the car. "Get in, the both of you. I have to have a discussion with Buffy tonight anyway so she can come out and get you for patrol, Sileya." He pulled out his cellphone, dialing the house as he slid into his seat. "Xander? Yes, it is. No, Homer's coming for dinner and could you please call Buffy and have her come out? I'd like to yell at her for a bit." He smiled and hung up. "Doyle's at the house, he just got there." He started the car and backed out of the parking space, heading for the house. He pulled the scroll out of his lap and handed it to Sileya. "Look that over, see if it has a counter built in."
"Um, I'm not real into magic," she reminded as she unrolled it. "My, what pretty nonsense," she said, showing it to Homer.
"Ah." Giles smiled. "Proper precautions. Just roll it up then and hold it safely." He turned onto Guild road, heading as fast as he dared for his house and the safety that it represented. He frowned as he saw a third car in the driveway. "I wonder who that is?" he muttered as he pulled in. He got out, heading up to the house, letting the young couple come up after him. "Xander?" he called as he walked through the back door.
"Library," Xander called. "Have the spell?"
"Yes, well Sileya does," he said as he walked into the library, nodding at the half-demon, but glaring at Sileya's father. "Ethan, do you feel it necessary to keep dropping in for some reason or are you being obnoxious?"
"I was pulled here," he said with a shrug and a point toward Doyle.
"My vision showed you two countering the spell," Doyle told him, looking up from feeding one of the boys. "Sileya," he said, giving her a smile as she walked in. "Come help me with the royal ones."
She snickered, handing Giles the spell as she picked up the other fussing baby, holding him close. "Throwing fits again?"
"Tempers," he corrected. "Been doin' it all afternoon." Doyle looked over at Giles. "I was just tellin' Xander here that I heard from Father Philip today. Blair called him for some help too." He nodded his head at the scroll. "That what she did ta Spike?"
"Yes, it is," Giles said, sitting across from him. "What vision?"
"I had a vision, she's gonna cast it tonight. You'll need help to fix it all, but I have to be here." He smiled at Xander. "I was offered use of the trailer tonight, until we could find a spot."
"Of course you can, but what about Cordelia?" Doyle shook his head. "Oh, dear," Giles said, sighing at the fight that was probably going to happen.
"No, she knows," Doyle said quickly. "She even agreed to the trip, she'll be up next week ta help me start the new school."
"Do try to keep up, Ripper," Ethan said smugly. Which got him glared at by everyone, even his daughter. "Fine," he sighed. "The powers that run Doyle's life have said that this charming little burg," his voice dripped with sarcasm, "has already gone to Hell. He's here to," he cleared his throat, "mentor the little halfies like himself so they continue to thrive."
"You're one too?" Homer asked.
"Yup," Doyle said, giving him a smile. "And I expect you ta help me when I'm startin' all this up." Homer nodded. "The both o'ya?"
Sileya shrugged. "I could. I do have extensive experience with an alternative school. If I could get a comparative education, then I'd gladly switch over."
Giles reached over to pat her on the arm. "We'll discuss it once the school is up and running. For now, why don't you go help Xander in the kitchen? I doubt either of you want to hear about this spell work."
Homer nodded, pulling Sileya from the room. "Thanks, man, get enough of that at home." He gave her a kiss once they were in the hall. "You and your dad can talk in a few, let them do the magic thing without us, huh?"
Xander walked out past them, shaking his head. "Give Doyle back the kid before you two go at it and don't wake Miri up, please," he said as he walked into the kitchen. "And use protection."
Sileya blushed and shook her head with a light groan. "I'm not sure I should take his advice."
Homer leered at her. "Sounds like a good idea to me." He took the child from her, going back into the library to hand the baby back to his father. "We're going to go... work on homework." Giles chuckled. "It was Xander's idea." He waved and jogged out, shutting the door behind him. "Come on, let's go see your room."
"We have the paint to redo your room if you'd like it," Xander called from the kitchen.
"Later," Sileya called back, heading for the stairs, pulling Homer with her.
Xander looked over at Oz, who was peeling potatoes at the table, giving him a smile. "I remember being in that state."
Oz grunted. "When did you stop that?" He looked up just as the towel hit him. "Thanks. Needed this." He wiped his hands off, coming over to kiss the back of his lover's neck. "Love you when you're horny, you know that, right?"
"Yeah, I do," Xander said, turning around to get a real kiss. "You think the salad will go well tonight?"
"Yup. Rupe won't want something heavy until after the spell." Oz gave him one last kiss and went back to his peeling duty. "What are you doing with these anyway?"
"Potato chips." Xander grinned at the grunt. "And I'm going to pout at Rupe until he makes his cheesy potatoes too."
"Ah," Oz said wisely. "I'm sure he'll succumb easily to your charms."
"I hope so," Xander whispered, going back to washing the lettuce. "It's been too long since he has."
Oz pretended he didn't hear, but he did think the whole situation over.
Giles sat across from Ethan at the table in the dining room, glancing up occasionally. "You're really not his father?" he asked finally, shutting his book and shoving it aside so he could get the answer he needed to touch his lover again. He didn't doubt what Xander told him about his parentage, but there was a doubt that Oz told him what he did to protect him.
Ethan considered the man in front of him and what he knew of the man who he knew was his son. "Not if he didn't say I was," he temporized. "I told him what happened but I'm not sure what he's told you."
"He said it was one of your nephews. Something about a road trip?"
"Yes, that's correct." Ethan brushed through his dark hair then crossed his hands on the table. "He was taking a road trip through the states to find himself when he ran into the boy's mother. She came onto him in a bar one night, very drunk, and then they went at it. I called home to ask him once I saw the boy - that first time back at Halloween - and realized he was a relative."
Giles blinked a few times then took off his glasses. "Thank you, Ethan." He pushed across the papers he had been making notes on. "This is what I've found." He had his answer, and he loved his boys for trying to protect him. He had to remember to tell them that later.
Ethan read it over and shook his head. "Most likely this won't help. I still think my idea of appealing to a higher power would work better."
"I won't do any more demon summoning, especially not with our families in this house," Giles said firmly. "Besides, to counter this, you'd almost have to reopen the Hellmouth and call something out. Which means that your daughter would have to fight whatever else came out."
"Or there is another way," Ethan said smugly. "There are higher powers running around on this plane, Ripper. We could call upon them."
"I'm not calling on a fallen angel, Ethan, get over it."
"I wasn't actually talking about one of them, but we do need some help with this." Ethan picked up his glass of water and took a sip. "We could do something drastic and actually use the power that you hold in check. Especially if we could get Xander into the room at the same time."
"You can't siphon off him, he's a holding spot. It passes onto his children."
"Yes, I'm aware of that." Ethan grimaced. "Most unusual considering his father's prowess in the craft." He shrugged. "I'm sure his Aunt Jane had something to do with that." He finished his water and leaned back in his chair, staring at his glass. "There are other powers walking on this plane, many that are more powerful than fallen angels, Ripper. All I'm suggesting is that we alert them to this situation before it gets out of hand. I'm sure your protégé will be calling on help from her Goddess to aide her with the spell."
"Most likely," Giles sighed, rubbing his forehead. "I'll not do it but if you want to pray for help, then by all means do it outside." He stood up, taking both their glasses into the kitchen. He stopped on his trek to the refrigerator for a kiss from Xander, getting a hug also. "How are you feeling?" he asked, seeing the flushed skin.
"Fine," he mumbled, putting his head back on the table. "Just tired."
"I'm sure you are," Giles soothed, putting down the glasses to rub over the sweaty forehead. "You're running a temperature, maybe you should go to bed, love."
"Can't, have stuff in the oven." Xander looked up at him. "And it's my turn to go muck stalls."
"Ah. Well, I'm sure you could impose on Sileya if you'd agree to switch with her some night." He went for the pitcher of water, coming back to refill the glasses. "Go to bed, Xander," he gently ordered. "You're in no shape to deal with life tonight."
"Can't," Xander yawned, then jumped as the timer beside his head went off. "Have stuff in the oven." He slid around his lover, heading for the oven built into the wall. "See," he said, pulling one out, but frowning at it. "You're not done," he accused it.
Giles came over, taking the cold pan from his fingers. "You forgot to turn it on, Xander. Go to bed. We'll eat later." He patted the hunched back, watching as the young man left the kitchen. "And go straight to bed, young man."
"Yes, dad," floated down the hall.
Giles snorted. "I doubt your father would feel this way about you." He looked toward the dining room. "Then again...." He looked down at the pan of batter, smiling as he set it into the oven and turned it on, setting the timer so he could bring it with him. He shoved it into his pocket so he could carry the glasses, heading back to find a counter for that blasted spell.
Ethan looked up at the half moon, closing his eyes. "We really could use a higher power this time," he prayed. "I can't counter a Goddess-driven spell and all of your minions will be affected. Even those that don't know that they are." He shivered as a wind started, turning to face away from the source. He saw the most beautiful red stallion sitting out in the paddock and smiled as he instinctively recognized the spirit trapped in it. "You're a horse now?" he asked it, walking over to talk to the one person he knew could help them.
//Lost a bet,// came the thought into his mind. //Chose this form. What's gonna happen this time?//
"Just a small spell that will emotionally and mentally crush all demonic offspring. With a little help from a Wiccan or two that mean well as they help the Slayer."
//Ah.// The voice left his head and the horse went back to it's grazing.
"I hope that's a helpful sound," he sighed. "I can't fight this one alone and I really don't want to be crushed tonight. At least not by them." He headed for the house, missing the light glow around the horse's body.
Buffy walked past the old school, stopping when she felt the vibrations of the ground. She glared at the spot where the library used to stand, shaking her head. "Why can't you stay closed?" she whined, heading for the spot at a jog. She got there as a small portal opened in the air and spit a person out, then closed again. "Okay, not typical at all," she sighed. She bent down to check the man over, smiling when she found a pulse. "Hey, just be okay for a little while longer. I'll get you to some help."
"Rupert," the man sighed, eyes squeezed tightly shut. "I have to talk to him."
"Of course you do," Buffy said, her smile falling away. "Why does everyone that comes out of this town need my Watcher ?" He opened one eye and glared at her. "Okay. Can you stand? I'll bring you to my mom's and have her drive you out." She helped him up, letting him lean on her for the six block walk to her house.
Giles answered the door, his mouth falling open. "Oh, my goodness," he said, waving the two people inside, but stopping Buffy by grabbing her. "Put him in the library, Joyce. I need to discuss something with you daughter for a moment." He shoved her into Xander's office, the closest private spot to the front door. "What were you thinking when you had Willow write that spell?" he asked harshly.
"It sounds like a good idea?" she guessed.
"All except for the part where it will affect those that are half-demon. Like her cousin!" He glared at her. "Buffy, you will stop this spell from going off. If you do not, I will make it my life's work to have you fix this problem. You will be forced to watch all of the people that are affected as they have to heal."
"It's not my fault!" she complained.
"She said you told her to write the spell."
"Na-uh. She came to me with the idea and I liked it." She shook her head. "I'll stop her from casting it. I just wanted the vampires to all act chipped. The way Spike was originally."
"Well, it goes a bit farther than that. It crushes them emotionally." She gave him an 'and' look. "And it will work on those that are born demonic, or half-demonic in origin. Including people like Doyle."
"Oh." She looked down at her hands. "I'll stop them. Okay?" She looked up and he nodded. "Just don't make me watch them if I'm not in time."
"You'd best be in time, I have no idea how to counter it. If someone outside the town hears of this, then I'm sure that someone bigger will come in to take over. This would be a prime moment to take the town over. Are you prepared to deal with something stronger than has ever been here?"
She shook her head. "Not really. I'll have Mom drop me off at Will's." She looked around the room. "Where's Xan?"
"In bed. He has a touch of the flu." He waved at the door. "Go."
She nodded and left, meeting her mother by the door. "We have to stop at Willow's so I can stop her before I'm forced to babysit psycho demons."
Joyce groaned. "What's going on this time?"
"I'm afraid Willow's devised a spell that will emotionally and mentally crush all vampires and other demonic elements, including those children who are born half-demons."
"Yeah, he said I'm gonna have to babysit them all, and fight the whatever it is that comes in to take over when they hear what happened."
"Oh." She nodded. "All right, I'll drop you off at Willow's on the way home. But no staying out all night, young lady. You have classes in the morning."
"Yes, ma'am," Buffy sighed, waving at Oz when he poked his head out of the library. "I'm gonna go stop the Willow-type person. Give my regards to the guy, whoever he is."
Oz nodded. "Have fun. She has a ticklish spot on the back of her neck if it'll help."
"It might," Buffy said with a shrug, heading for the car. "Tell Xan I said feel better."
"He's feeling bad?" Oz asked.
"He was almost asleep on the table and was running a bit of a fever," Giles explained, walking past him. "Who's our guest?"
"Derek Rayne," he said, walking out of the library to shake hands. "That's the *Slayer*?"
Giles chuckled. "Yes, she's been so successful because everyone underestimates her." He waved at the library. "Come, let me call Father Philip. I'm sure he'll want to see you soon."
"Why would you know Philip?" Derek asked, following him in. He smiled as he looked around the room. "This looks very familiar.
"So Nick told us," Oz said from the chair he picked out. "Xan's in bed?" Giles nodded. "Okay, I'll do a tour of the barn before I go too. What can I do to help with the spell?"
"Not a thing," Giles said firmly. "It's bad enough I have to work with Ethan, I doubt I want you to be there if something backlashes." He looked up as Ethan walked in, glaring at him. "Those were for the children," he said, pointing at the brownie the other sorcerer was eating. "And to answer your question, Doctor Rayne, I'm a former Watcher, Buffy's."
"Sorry, I needed a bit of sugar." He smiled at Oz. "Whomever made these is very good."
"Xander did," Oz said, watching his face. "Any word on a counter?"
"A bit," Ethan temporized as he sat down, putting his glass of milk on the table beside him. "Actually, I've found the spell she altered." Giles turned and stared at him, the phone falling from his fingers. "It's a very old one, made by someone in the Watcher's Council."
Derek took the phone from Giles' limp fingers, smiling at the voice on the other end. "Philip? No, I think we could use you here. Yes, it's me. No, *don't* tell Nick yet. Please, Philip, don't tell him yet."
Giles shook himself. "Nick was most adamant that you were still alive and that he was going to rescue you. Maybe you should let him be told that you're fine."
Derek hung up. "No, I know how Nick reacts. We'll need his energy once he gets here, not the nerves that he'll work himself into over me coming back." He nodded at Giles. "Could I possibly borrow a shower and some clothes? I seem to be a bit dirty." He looked down at himself, wincing as he saw the slime on him.
"Of course. Oz, please lead him up to the last room, the one Xander favors when he wants to be alone? The bed should still be made up if he wants to rest."
Oz nodded, putting his book aside and getting up. He nodded at the door, letting the strange man follow him. "I'll check on Xander while I'm up there."
"Thank you." Giles sat across from his old friend, and worst enemy, studying him.
"You really shouldn't stare. I'm sure your father taught you manners, no matter how much he couldn't make you conform to the Watcher's ideal."
"I'm trying to find the traces of Xander in you." He relaxed with a nod. "At least he doesn't look like you."
"It truly was a moment of drunken lechery, Ripper. I had no intention of starting a lineage at that point."
"I know." Giles looked around at his books. "Ethan, I don't care if you stay in town, but I do not want you at this house again. Unless something tragic happens to Sileya, o-or the rest of the family and you're forced to come save her," he looked down at his hands. "I don't want you around my family. I have no desire of them being corrupted by you."
"I wouldn't dream of it," Ethan said, finishing his brownie. "I've told the boys that." That got a look. "I've also told them that I may be the key to starting the prophecy about my grandchild." He smiled gently. "Ripper, I have no intention of harming your family. Fun as you are to tease, I don't go after children."
"Halloween?" Xander said from the doorway. "Is that who I think it is?" he asked.
"Yes, that's Nick's Derek." Giles patted his lap. "Come here, Xander. You still look horrid."
"I feel kinda icky too," Xander admitted, coming over to sit on Giles' lap and cuddle up. "So you know, huh?"
"I have since Oz made that story up for me, love. It was nice of you to try and save me some mental anguish over this, but that really has nothing to do with us. He didn't raise you."
"Yeah, but since that day, you haven't done more than cuddle me," Xander pointed out, stealing an ear kiss.
"That's been simple stress, nothing at all to do with your heritage. I really can't see you in him at all, or the reverse." He gave the younger man a simple squeeze. "Now then, why are you ill? You were fine earlier."
"I know. Not sure why I'm sick. Just am."
"It's not...." Giles let his voice fall away, knowing Xander caught the implication.
"Nope, not a Blair moment. Maybe a stomach pump moment, but not a Blair moment."
"Ah. Good." Giles continued to rub down the hunched back, soothing his lover back into sleep. "Ethan, I meant it. I won't let you corrupt him. He's too innocent to do that to."
"I won't. I have all that I want from him." He shrugged at the glare. "I wasn't there when he was growing up. The sorceress we're fighting tonight has more claim on him than I do. I'm going to leave it that way. I doubt he'd come to call me father anyway, no matter how much I worked at it." He cleared his throat. "Did you know that the Council came to me the other day? They practically begged for me to take Sileya from your care. Something about you not letting her be all the Slayer that she could be, actually hinted that you were harming her chances of surviving by caring for her." He smiled, just a little. "I doubt they like the form he went back in, but still. I was most insulted for you."
"Thank you." He inclined his head slightly. "I almost made the biggest mistake the other day by giving them a werewolf that we caught. I foolishly thought that they might have helped him." He shook his head, giving Xander's forehead a kiss. "At least you're no longer warm."
"Xander," Oz said as he walked into the library. "Why were you going for pain pills?"
"Hurt my back again," Xander mumbled. "Why?" He blinked up at Oz as he came closer. "You're fuzzy."
"No, you took one of my tranqs." He shook the bottle. "Found it open in the bathroom." He pulled Xander into his lap as he sat in the chair next to Giles. "Why did you hurt your back?"
"Hay." Xander snuggled in. "Can I nap?"
"As long as we can watch over you, yes you may," Giles said. "How many did he take?"
"One." Xander looked over at him. "You're kinda fuzzy too. Not real solid."
"That's a side effect of the drug," Oz assured them, giving Xander a hug. "You rest. Rupe, can you make him a bed on the couch? I really don't want him outta my sight for now. Those are werewolf strength, the ones I used to use when we had the store."
"What are you going to do with the property?" Ethan asked.
"We're going to leave it alone for now," Giles said, getting up to grab some of the extra blankets from the laundry room. "I'll be right back."
Ethan waited through the silence, watching how the two men cared for Xander, amused and touched at how much they loved his son. No one had told him that they were that together, the last he had been told by his informants they were still routinely fighting.
"No, not wanna go to bed," Xander protested, struggling to not be covered up. "No dreams!" He swatted Oz on the side of the face, then covered his mouth. "Oh, god, I'm sorry, Oz, I didn't mean to." He pulled Oz down, hugging him. "So sorry, didn't mean to hurt you."
"Shh, you didn't hurt me," Oz told him gently. "Just a little ouchie." He kissed his lover softly and stood up, covering him and tucking him in. "Just sleep, babe, I won't let the dreams hurt you." Xander shook his head, clutching the hands nearest him. Giles grunted as he tried to get free. "Shh," Oz whispered, kneeling beside the couch to run his fingers through the dark hair. "I know the dreams are bad and strange but they're just dreams. They can't hurt you, Xan, I won't let them. Neither of us will." That got a small nod. "Okay?" Oz grunted in irritation as the younger man shook his head. "Why not?"
"Because I saw you. The hunters had you and they were laughing and everything."
"It won't happen, I promise," Oz assured him. "No hunters here and we're going to be magically touching the cage too. Many locks and magic. No hunters should be able to get in." Xander shook his head. "No?"
"No," he whispered. "I wasn't fast enough."
"Ah." Giles sat on the side of the couch, rubbing the hand that was squeezing his too tightly. "I would doubt that could ever happen, Xander. You've always been on time to save us in the past and you will be if hunters should ever come for us again. Besides, I doubt that the hunters would be able to do much to us. After all, we're very well guarded every month." He smiled down at the slightly pleased look. "It was just a very realistic *dream*, precious. It isn't going to happen. You don't have that gift." He kissed the hand he had been rubbing. "Now then, I want you to rest for a bit. We'll be over there working with Ethan, all you have to do is say something and we'll be right back here." Xander nodded, starting to blink. "That's a good boy. Sleep now, love. You're safe." He waited until his hand was released to get up and follow Oz back over to the chairs. "Sorry about that, he's been a bit worried recently." He looked over at Oz. "Do you think he'd like to talk about it with us tomorrow?"
"Sure, but I want to know about his back. He's been hurting it a lot recently." Oz shifted, getting comfortable so he could start reading again. "Sileya and Homer have the kids. Doyle's in the trailer with the boys. Philip and Nick are on their way up. What else do we have to do?"
"I have to work up a counter for that spell," Giles sighed, leaning his head back. "I'm not sure we can fashion one so quickly."
"May I see the spell?" Derek asked from the doorway. The table between them was waved at so he picked up the scroll. "Oh, my," he said, shaking his head. "Have you had much trouble out of this practitioner?"
"Not recently," Giles said, giving him a faint smile. "She's one that aids Buffy in her fights. Willow's actually one of my former students."
"And my ex," Oz noted, not looking up. "And the twin's mother, and Xander's best friend." He shrugged at the unhappy sound Ethan made. "He's just an annoyance."
Derek smiled, shaking his head. "I'm sure it will all be fine." He looked around the room. "Do you have Chroms Anthology?"
"No, I lost that a few years back," Giles said, looking at the shelves.
"Willow has it," Oz reminded him.
"I had forgotten about that," Giles sighed. "She had this nasty habit of borrowing my books and forgetting to return them."
"At least she doesn't have the sexual demons handbook." Oz glanced up, seeing the shock. "She did a paper out of it but I stole it back."
"Ah." Derek shook his head lightly and sat down, looking over the spell again. "A reasonable counter could be fashioned but I'm not sure if it would protect all of the people."
"If it could protect the halfies, we'd be happy," Oz pointed out, putting down his book. "There's a lot of kids around here that are half-demons. Including her cousin, Homer, who's upstairs right now." He looked around then pointed at a picture. "That guy in the picture with Buffy is one, he's in the trailer. The school's full of them at the moment but there's been a lot of violence to them recently."
"I wouldn't be so worried about the demons and vampires if I knew something bigger wouldn't come in and take over as soon as it was done," Giles told him. "Even with two Slayers here, and one of them relatively untrained at that, I still wouldn't feel right about letting the town in for that."
"Hmm." Derek looked around the room, reading the titles of the books as he walked. He stopped to pull a few down, bringing them back over. "I think these should have something we might use in them." Oz picked up a book, flipping through it. "He helps?"
"He helped Buffy too," Oz told him, looking over the index. "This is in Latin, right?" he asked, letting Giles see it.
"Yes, it's one of the ancient Chronicles...." He snapped his fingers and hopped up, heading for his private office, coming back with two dusty, peeling books. "Here, look through this," he said, handing one off to Derek. "Ethan, do look through the rest of these. Only three of the old Watchers could have done this."
"If you say so." Ethan took the book Oz held out, letting him sort them out between them. "Which ones?"
"Eigen," Derek said. "The spell sounds like something he would write."
"The original spell wasn't attributed to anyone," Ethan told them, making them both look up. "The spell is an adaptation of one of the old Watcher's."
"Which means it was probably Eigen," Giles reminded him. "Watcher's aren't into new things, unless it's a new way to torture vampires or a new weapon that they can use against those of us who went rogue. Watcher Eigen was the last of us that actually did something new."
"Point," Ethan sighed, flipping through the books.
Doyle watched as Willow cast her spell, holding the charm Giles and Ethan had made for him as tightly as he could. He felt the spell creep and flow across his body, closing his eyes as he waited for the pain that should follow. When nothing more happened, he brought the charm up and kissed it before heading for the girls and their work space in the park. "Willow," he called, smirking as she jumped in fright. "Why'd ya do that?" he asked, moving closer.
"Doyle?" She turned to Tara. "I thought you said it should work against demons."
"It should," Tara said, frowning at the second copy of the spell.
"Oh, it woulda if I hadn't been prepared." He shook his head as he snatched the copy of the spell. "This was somethin' ya shouldn't have done, girls. Do ya know what'll happen now?"
"Just because you get bits and pieces of the future doesn't mean you actually *know*," Willow said, dismissing him.
"Ah, but I do. There's always someone bigger who'll come in and take over when they see weakness." He bowed to them, taking the spell and leaving.
"Hey! We need that!" Tara called.
Doyle flipped them off and kept walking, ignoring the chanting they were doing. He kissed the charm again, heading for what would be his new home for a bit.
Giles took the copy of the spell, shaking his head. "I do hate that they could remember this so well." He handed it to Derek. "Do we have the counter ready?"
"Yes," Ethan said, pointing at the fire beside the house. "All set. All we have to do is invoke the spirits to help them all."
"Which could backfire," Derek reminded them.
"It's not my favorite idea either," Giles sighed, "but I still don't see another way. How much longer before Father Philip gets here?"
"Shouldn't be long," Doyle assured him. "I'm gonna go watch the kids. Sileya's in the kitchen and Homer's got Xander." He jogged up the stairs, heading back inside.
Ethan looked Giles over, nodding. "I'm glad you kept up with the practice," he said, clapping his friend on the back. "It makes everything so much easier."
Giles stepped away from him. "Ethan, I still don't like you."
"I know, but that's the price I paid for almost letting you get eaten." He shrugged and headed for the bonfire.
Derek stopped Giles with a hand on his arm. "Do you trust him?"
"Not in the least," he said with a smile. "Not since he offered me as a treat for a demon he was trying to cull favor with." He waved at the fire. "Shall we?" They looked toward the driveway as a car started up it. "Come, they're here. We'd best start. There's no telling how long it will take something bigger to get here."
In a tomb under Sunnydale, a statue rocked, it's base cracking to show two feet. As the cracks started rising up the body, the crypt it was in started to shudder as well, rocking from the very core of the earth. Finally, one arm broke free, and with it a dark gray wing.
Xander walked out onto the porch as Giles started his part of the chant, closing his eyes as he listened to the deep voice intone words he didn't understand. He could feel a small tug inside him and went with it, assuming it was the magic flowing around them touching him. After all, he knew he was holding some magic to pass on. His aunt's letter had been specific about that. So when he started to feel weak, he didn't think anything of it, he'd felt the same way whenever he got too close to Giles casting a spell. Actually, he was a little surprised he wasn't feeling worse. This spell was a major spell, something that Giles wasn't even sure could be done; he thoroughly expected everyone in town to be feeling miserable in the morning, himself included. When the chanting was done, he walked the tray he had made out to the men next to the fire, stopping in front of their guests to smile at them. "I read my letter from my Aunt Jane. She had some really nice things to say about you guys," he told Father Philip.
Derek looked at Nick, who nodded, then over at his host. "Jane? Was she from Boston?"
"Yup. My maternal aunt." He picked his necklace up off the tray, showing it off in the firelight. He wanted the stranger to know it was in good hands. "She left me this."
"Oh, my," Derek said, fingering the pendant gently. "You're the head of your family now?"
"My Uncle's still in protective custody. He can't do it and the thing liked me." He shrugged, walking over to give his lover a hug. "Hi. Feeling okay?"
"Much better than I expected," Giles said, kissing Xander's cheek. "When did you come out?"
"Right before you started."
"Ah." Giles frowned, the words sparking some little piece of memory, but it wouldn't come forward. He mentally shrugged and pushed it aside. He'd think on it later.
Ethan was staring at his son, eyes partially closed as he considered them. Then he nodded. "I think I'd best be going home now. Tell my daughter that I'll pick her up from school tomorrow for tea." He bowed to Giles, then to Derek. "Gentlemen." He headed for his car, leaving them alone.
"Okay, what's with that guy?" Nick asked once they were alone.
"He's a ranking Chaos mage," Giles told him, "and the new Slayer's father."
"And your worst enemy," Xander reminded him. "Who brought you his daughter because the prophecy said so."
"Prophecy?" Giles asked.
"Well, he said someone read her future and said you had to do it or she wouldn't live."
"Ah. I was going to say, I hadn't seen anything yet about a prophecy regarding her reign." He gave Xander another squeeze. "How are you feeling now?"
"Just a little on the down side. The tranq's almost out of me." He turned his head as a horse snorted nearby. "Hey, Strife," he said, getting free and walking over to pat Sileya's favorite horse. "How's the big red guy doing?" The stallion snuffled him then lipped his cheek before trotting off
"There's something odd about that horse," Philip muttered.
"What's his name again?" Derek asked, walking over to stand beside the rail. He held out his hand, making clucking noises to call the horse over to him. He flinched as he patted the warm nose, looking deeply into the gray eyes. "You're very interesting, aren't you?" He jumped as his mind was invaded, but he smiled, bowing to it. "If you wish." He turned to find everyone looking at him. "It's a supernatural creature. He lost a bet. It was this or a mouse." He shrugged and walked back over to stand beside Nick. "Dear one, I need to do something. Do you still trust me?"
"You came back," Nick said simply. He took his friend's hand, letting him do what he wanted.
"Good. Winston, I call upon you!" he called, reopening the cut on his hand to drip some into the fire. "Father!" A fuzzy outline appeared in the fire. "Father, I want you to leave Nick alone. It was most cruel to tease and use him that way. None of us will ever open a portal so you can get out." He stepped back as the fire crackled. "As I called you to fire, to fire you go. Off to your final resting place," he said, banishing the spirit with a muttered, "Jackass," at the end.
Nick snickered. "I heard that."
"I'm sure you did. And I heard everything he did to you, love. Let's hope he moves onto his final reward now that he has no hope of succeeding."
"If your father's as stubborn as you, I doubt it," Doyle said as he walked closer. "What's with the one horse? He's watchin' us."
"He's fine. Just a bit odd," Derek assured him. "You're Doyle, right?" Doyle nodded. Derek looked over at Nick and Philip, who both nodded. "I think we need to discuss a few things with your boss. Do you think you could get him to talk to us?"
"Sure," Doyle said, waving it off. "He's broodin' all the time now that Spike's so badly off."
Xander looked over at Doyle. "At least he wasn't here tonight."
"Point. Angel'd of lost his soul again and come after her for it." He chuckled. "I can just see that one now. Him stalkin' Willow 'til she came ta ya all for help and Buffy being forced ta deal with him again."
"Lost his soul?" Derek asked.
"Again?" Philip asked.
"Yup," Xander said, nodding. "Brood boy went all stalker on Buffy because he got a little too happy." He gave Giles a kiss. "I'm going to go sleep the rest of the drug off. Coming up?"
"Soon enough. Sleep well, Xander, love." He smiled at his lover's back as he walked away, turning to face the assembled people. "Angel is a souled vampire. H-he's perfectly fine as long as he doesn't have happiness. Then, of course, he turns back into Angelus, who thinks it's fun to stalk us all and make our lives miserable." He shrugged at the frowns he got. "He truly was cruel before he got his soul. Willow put it back once, but I think he'll keep it this time."
"At least for another couple hundred years," Doyle pointed out. "Well after you are all gone." He smiled at the shocked looks. "He's still havin' nightmares about Hell, where his ex sent him I might add."
"Good," Giles said, smirking slightly. "We need to put out this fire before it can spread. There are guest rooms for all of you if you'd like. Father, the room you and Nick stayed in last time is still free. Derek, I believe that the room you showered in should be perfect for you. Nick, you may pick either the room beside Miri or somewhere else to sleep."
Nick nodded at the fire. "I can do that, go sleep with him."
Giles bowed and left them alone.
Derek looked at his friends. "What's going on here?"
Doyle snickered. "More'n ya think most o'the time." He waved and walked away. "Night. I'm in the trailer if ya need me."
Nick smirked at Derek. "They're a lot like us, only there's love and kids with them." Philip slapped him on the arm. "Okay, and this is the American Hellmouth, where the old high school used to stand from what we've heard. Our hosts are the older Slayer's former Watcher, and her helpers."
"Slayers with helpers?" Derek asked, his face showing his shock. "I thought that wasn't allowed."
"It's not, she made her own rules," Philip said, walking away. "Nick, please bank the fire. I'll see ya in the morning."
Nick leered. "Grab one of the buckets and help me so I can give you a backrub?"
"I think I'd like that," Derek sighed, grabbing one of the buckets of dirt that was sitting beside the porch.
Angel finished the rite, putting down the dead mouse and bowing his head. "Hear me," he pleaded. "I ask for retribution not for myself, but for my childe." He felt the air grow warmer and kept himself from flinching. "What they did to him was wrong, they must be punished as harshly as they acted."
Floating through the wind were quiet words, telling him what to do. He sighed and stood up, blowing out the candles before bowing to them. "As you wish. I leave it in your hands." He turned to find Cordelia standing behind him. "I got an answer. We have to go home."
She nodded. "I kinda figured that. The van's outside." She tossed him the keys. "It's still dark, you drive. We'll stay with Doyle at the trailer tomorrow." She turned and left him alone, letting him pick up Spike, who was mostly unconscious.
Angel heard the groan so put his lips near the warm ear. "Soon, Spike, soon they'll pay for this. We're going to get you fixed." He carried his childe out, his mind set on what needed to be done.
The End, this story, To Be Continued in part 11.