Traveling Troubles Again. Series Title: Because Kaiya Wanted To See It, part 2.
Miri checked around her and frowned when she saw everyone else paying attention to her brother and sister instead of her. She was older, she should be getting the attention! She stomped her little foot but still no one looked her way. All they had done was walk, she did that all the time and no one gooshed over her for it. So she did what any three year old would do. She went looking for an adventure. She stormed into the library and looked around for her friend, the ghost. When she didn't see her, she grabbed the book that had sent her to her other friends, and her Strife-cat, bringing it down onto the floor. She yawned as she opened it, flipping to the page with the pretty drawings on it - the page she wanted was a few after that.
She couldn't quite read it yet, but she knew how to float things, she hoped it'd be enough. She yawned again, lying down beside the book. A short nap couldn't hurt.
Daddy Xander walked into the library a few minutes later, but she missed his glare. She almost woke up when he yelled for Daddy Giles, but not enough to register the fact that anyone had caught her. She grabbed for the book when it was moved, but her daddies were stronger and they took it.
Miri woke up in her room, frowning at the closed door. She got up and tried to open it, but it was locked. She used a trick her Strife-horsey had taught her to unlock the door, and walked directly into her Daddy Oz. "Hi," she said, giving him a hug.
"You are *grounded*," he said as he picked her up for a hug. "You know better than to play with Daddy Giles' books, especially that one."
She gave him a begging look. "Me read it?" she asked pitifully, the surest way to get anything from this particular daddy. He said she reminded him of her Daddy Xander when she did it.
"No, and if you try, you're going to be spanked. Those books are *dangerous*. *You* may not touch them."
"Either of us," Daddy Xander said as he came up the stairs. He patted his daughter on the head. "You may not be in the library without a daddy again."
She sniffled. "I'm good," she said.
"Nope, not this time." Oz shifted her to his other side. "Let's go so she can apologize." He followed Xander down to the living room. "Here, yours," he told Giles as he handed her over.
Miri looked at her oldest father, marveling at how old he was. The other daddies were old, but Daddy Giles was *really* old. He even had gray hair. She snuggled deeper into his arms, needing to make sure he was all right still. "I'm good," she declared. Everyone laughed. "I am!"
Daddy Giles patted her on the head. "You usually are," he agreed, "but not earlier tonight when you got into my books." He gave her a hug. "You must never get into my books, Mirriam."
She pouted. "I'm good," she repeated.
"Not with that book," Xander said simply. "She doesn't understand, she's not that advanced."
Miri frowned at him but she let the comment go. She saw her ghost sitting on the mantle and grinned at her. She could do what she wanted to later.
Miri snuck down to the library, glaring at the new lock on the door. She tapped her foot a few times in irritation then got an idea. She snuck out of the house and walked around to the windows. She forced open the window and grabbed the book she wanted with her mental abilities to pull to her. She clutched it to her chest and ran for the barn. Her Strife-horsey would help her find more friends.
Strife's head was hanging over his stall door as she walked in and he nuzzled her as soon as she came close enough. She opened his door so she could get inside, sitting down on a convenient pile of hay so she could flip open the book. "I want to go again," she declared. The horse walked away. She glared at his rear and shrieked, "I want to go!"
Strife turned around looked at her. He shook his head.
She got up and stomped over to him, grabbing his bridle to pull his head down. "Me go," she said, staring into one of his eyes. "Me go tonight and come back tomorrow." She let him go and stepped back, staring at him. "Helping?"
Strife stayed still for a moment then blew out a breath. He walked over to the book, looking from her to it and back. She walked over to flip the pages, stopping when he snorted. "This one?" He stomped a foot and looked down at her.
The world started to spin and she screamed, then it stopped. She grabbed her head to make it stop feeling funny.
"You shouldn't be out here," a familiar voice said from behind her.
"Auntie Buffy!" she yelled and grabbed her for a hug. The best places had daddies and aunties there for her to be around until she got used to the new place.
Xander woke with a snort. Since his change, he hadn't been sleeping so deeply. He got up to answer the door, crawling out from under Oz's arm to do so. He stomped down the stairs and threw open the door, glaring at Buffy and... the child she was holding? "Gee, she doesn't look like an emergency," he quipped as he let her in.
"She keeps asking me if I'm my twin. She *knows* me, Xander," Buffy said as she handed the little girl over.
Miri grinned at her daddy. "You younger," she said happily, looking around. "Where other kids?"
"Giles!" Xander yelled. "It's a Hellmouth problem!"
Miri frowned at him. "Me not a problem. Me your daughter back at my house."
Giles walked down the stairs, one hand covering his yawn. "What...." He stopped when he saw the little girl on his couch. "Oh, dear," he said as he walked over to look at her. "Who're you?"
"Me Miri. You a daddy twin?"
Giles looked at Buffy. "Where did you find her?"
"In the park. She was just *there* one second." Buffy shrugged. "She knew me."
Giles sat down beside Miri, looking her over. "You're not from here, are you?" he asked finally.
She shook her head. "Nope, me have adventures," she proclaimed proudly. She smiled at him. "Do you have a Strife kitty too?" she asked as she started to look around again.
"A what?" Xander asked. He walked around to Buffy's free side and leaned down, nipping her on the ear.
"You're like my Spike and Unclie Wesley!" Miri crowed, clapping. She beamed at him. "Cool! I like my sitter Spike!"
Xander looked at Giles and shook his head. "Leave me outta this. Buffy, patrolling?"
"Yeah, I should do that," she agreed, rubbing her ear now that it was starting to sting. She looked at her fingers then punched Xander on the arm. "Ask next time."
Giles frowned at Xander. "You know better."
Xander grinned. "Sorry, Buffy."
She shook her head as she stood up. "Don't do it again." She waved at Miri. "Have fun." She left the apartment.
Giles sighed and patted his pockets down, smiling at Xander when the younger man handed him his glasses. He looked for their guest, but Miri had hopped up and was wandering around the apartment, looking for new things. He looked at his student and lover, nodding for Xander to go upstairs. The halfling wandered back up to the room they shared with Oz, their other lover, and closed the door. "Miriam," Giles said quietly, "come sit and talk to me."
She walked over and sat beside him, looking up at him expectantly. "You're younger than Daddy Rupert too," she told him. "Which is very cool because he's getting old."
"Yes, I dare say I...we are," he agreed, coughing in embarrassment. "How did you get here?"
"I made my Strife-horsey send me on an adventure. I was bored and no one noticed."
Giles groaned. "How did a horse send you across dimensions?"
"Spell book. He whinnied and stomped and I came here." She smiled brightly at him. "Are you a good Daddy twin or not?"
"I suppose I am, but you shouldn't be here. There's a lot of danger in that mode of transport." He looked around at all his books, then back at the little girl. "Can you show me which book he got it from?" She nodded and hopped down, going to look at the bookshelves. He watched as she carefully pulled down one book and brought it over. "Ah, that one. I had fears that it was that one. Do you know which page?"
"One before the pretty pictures of the hole."
"Ah." He flipped through the pages, coming to rest on a spell he didn't remember having. "This one must be it. Otherwise you would have ended up somewhere very strange." He put the book down and looked at the little girl. "You have to go home, Miriam. It's not right for you to be so far away from your fathers, they must be worried sick."
"Me do it before," she said with a wave. "Me find Daddy Xander and Daddy Oz's kids. Lots of them in a *big* house with a *huge* garden. And a butler." She nodded. "He makes eggies. Smooshy ones."
Giles smiled at her. "I'm sure he does. You've traveled this way before?"
"Whee send me," she explained patiently. "Strife-kitty send me back then. Now Strife-horsey, my horsey, send me here to explore." She patted him on the knee, just like Auntie Willow used to do to Unclie Spike. "You'll understand some day," she told him.
"I dare say I will," he told her grimly. "But by then, you'll be at home again."
Xander stuck his head over the railing. "Need us?"
"Yes, please. I'll need someone to keep her here." His lovers walked down the stairs, Oz sitting on the end of the couch to pull her into his arms. "Thank you. Xander, I need these herbs." He pointed at the list. "The sooner we can send her home, the better."
"We gonna send a note with her?" Oz asked through his yawn.
"I'd want to know what she was doing," Xander agreed, coming back to the couch with a tray of herbs. "How did she get here if we need herbs to send her back? I doubt a horse did it that way."
"If the horse is the spirit of who I think it is, he didn't need it." Giles read the spell carefully and with Xander's help got everything set up in near-record time. They joined hands and chanted together, letting Oz bring the little girl over to join them. With the last words, she grabbed her head and screamed, leaving them alone.
Xander looked over at Giles. "How do we know she went home?"
"It was a return to your plane of origin spell," Giles pointed out, waving a hand at the book. He yawned and headed for the stairs. "Who's joining me in bed?"
Xander grinned and followed, but he came back for the asleep Oz, carrying him up the stairs.
Miri found herself in a strange house. A really strange house. One with a big head-thing over the fireplace. "Hi," she said cautiously, shifting closer to it. "Are you a big, scary monster, or a cool Sesame Street one?"
The dragon looked down at her. "I'm a dragon, dear. Why are you here? There aren't any children in this house."
"I'm on an adventure," she said quietly, putting a finger up to her lips. "I'm going to go hide before someone sends me home."
"Oh, all right," he said, nodding. He smiled as she disappeared from the room. "I've got to warn the Gate Master. He wouldn't like children invading his gateway. They never do." He concentrated on making his tail twitch, hopefully bringing the mortals back through their portal.
Miri found the kitchen and headed straight for the refrigerator, opening it to find beer. She made a face and began her search for real person food, not the bad stuff. She pulled out an apple and started to bite into it when she heard voices. She dove into a cabinet, wincing as the pans made noise. Her apple rolled away and she made a grab for it, but the voices were coming closer so she shut the cabinet door.
Xander walked into the kitchen. "I told you I heard something," he said, pointing at the open refrigerator door. He walked over, stopping when he saw the apple. He picked it up and showed Oz the small teeth marks. "Tell me I'm hallucinating again," he dared his lover.
Oz leaned across the bar and pointed down at a cabinet. "Pans."
Xander squatted down and opened the cabinet, smiling at the little girl who was hiding her head in her arms. "Hey," he said quietly, holding out the apple. "Were you hungry?"
She jumped and looked at him. "Another daddy twin?" she said, blinking at him. "This isn't home."
"Nope, sorry, it's not home," Xander said as he helped her out, sitting her on the counter with her apple. "Eat, I'm not a wicked stepmother."
Miri grinned and munched. "Very good. Thank you." She wiped her mouth on her arm.
Oz grimaced and shook his head as Xander looked over at him. "She has to have a mother."
"Uh-huh. She's bad. She's in prison because she 'napped me."
"Ah." Xander shrugged then turned his attention back to her. "Is her name Faith?" Miri nodded. "Okay then. And you're not home, right? You don't recognize us?"
"Nope, you look just like my daddy but I know you're not." She smiled at Oz. "You too."
Oz groaned. "Great, she crossed over through a portal too." He looked at Xander. "This is all your fault. You brought the key here."
Xander grinned. "But she's cute."
"And obviously yours," Oz pointed out.
Xander took a closer look at her then nodded. "Coolness. I'm a daddy somewhere." The girl was nodding. "Do you have a name? When your mouth's clear."
"Miri," she said as she swallowed. "I live on a farm. With a Strife-horsey. He sent me here. Well, the daddy twin from the other place did it. You were kinda like Unclie Spike."
"Gee, haven't thought about him for years," Xander quipped. "Okay, we've got to send you home." He lifted her down. "Since it's the middle of the night, we're going to let you stay until tomorrow, when we figure this out. Deal?"
"Okay. Do you have animalies?"
"Oh, yeah," Oz said, holding out a hand. "Come on, I'll introduce you to most of them." He led her from the room, missing Xander's goofy grin all together.
Miri squealed as she saw all the animals lounging on what was going to be her bed. She ran forward and jumped up to be with them, giving everyone a long hug and a kiss on their noses, then she smiled at Oz. "Lots of animalies. Even more than my barn kitties and my horsies."
Oz shrugged. "It's all Xander's fault. But you might be able to take a few with you."
"Daddy say no animalies in the house until the twins are older," she said with a pout.
"Ah." Oz walked in and closed the door, sitting down beside her on the bed. "What's your house like?"
"Well, you're there. And Daddy Xander and Daddy Giles of course." She patted him on the arm. "You guys fight whole lots." She went back to stroking the gray cat with white socks she was clutching. "We live on a farm. There's no one around forever." He nodded and gave her a faint grin. "Daddy Xander said it was so the bad people couldn't come for us."
"Ah. What bad people?"
"The townspeople. They were mean and tried to burn us."
"Wow. Do you know why?"
"Because I can do things," she said quietly. She lifted the lamp beside the bed and then put it back down. "I was really little then but I lifted someone."
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said, giving her a hug. "You have twins?"
"No, silly, brother and sister. Auntie Willow have them for daddies. I no want them, but they wanted a baby."
"Yeah, that's understandable. Who else lives in your house."
"Sileya. She's the second girl now, that's what Daddy Giles calls her."
"Huh. She's a Slayer?" Miri nodded. "Do you know someone named Buffy?"
"Yup! She's a good auntie. Not like Auntie Willow, who hurt people. Why'd she hurt Doyle? He's a nice guy."
Oz shrugged. "Not a clue, dear. Here's Willow is a vampire now."
"Oh, like Spike? I like my sitter Spike."
"Yup, like him. Do you know Angel?"
"Yup, he sit me sometimes too. Unclie Wesley like Spike too, but Auntie Cordy dress me pretty." She kissed the cat again. "You're a good kitty. I want to keep you."
"Go right ahead," Oz told her, patting her on the head. "Why don't you go to bed and we'll figure out how to get you home later."
"Do you have a Strifey horsie or kitty here?"
Oz shook his head as he took off his t-shirt. "Not that I know of, but if you find him, tell us so we can talk to him, okay?" He handed her the shirt. "Here, put this on and go to sleep, Miri."
"'Kay, but can I have a bedtime story? I have trouble falling asleep when I don't have one."
"I'll do it," Xander said from the doorway. "I used to be pretty good at telling stories." He kissed Oz as he walked past him, sitting down on the side of the bed and holding up the covers. "Get in." She slid into the nightshirt and tossed her clothes beside the bed, snuggling down under the covers. "What sort of story do you like? Fairytales?"
"Can it be a cool one and not a Disney one? Daddy Giles makes up all sorts of cool fairytales."
"Sure, I'll try," Xander told her quietly, tucking her in tighter. He felt her kick so he untucked her feet. "There, better?"
Oz watched them for a few minutes, his chest feeling a little heavier than usual, then left to go back to his room. That little girl proved Xander deserved to be a daddy to someone.
Xander slid into bed beside his lover, accepting his hug. "She's a neat little kid, but I'm glad I'm not a daddy," he said quietly. "They're way tough. She was really particular about her story. It had to have dancing maidens and everything."
"Who'd she get that from?" Oz asked.
"Faith probably. I'm only picky about my stories when I'm sick." He snuggled in harder. "Do you think she's happy?"
"Yeah, I think this had more to do with not getting attention. She has a twin brother and sister from Willow." He lifted his head. "You really don't want to be a daddy? You were doing great in there."
"Nope. Being a daddy means that you have to change your life and I like how it is now." He squeezed his lover and settled down for a nap. "We'll have to tell Meth and Ray in the morning."
"Yeah, that'll go over well. Meth hates kids even more than I used to."
Xander poked him. "Used to?"
"Yup, I'm not that great with kids, but I've come to appreciate their existence." Oz smooshed his face into Xander's stomach. "Sleep or no crossing the gate again."
"Okay," Xander said with a yawn. He fell asleep in his lover's arms, his favorite place.
Xander walked into the kitchen to find Ray and Miri in a silent staring contest. Methos was leaning against the refrigerator with his eyes closed. Xander walked over to the immortal and patted him on the arm before opening the door beside him. "What's wrong?"
"She thinks I'm the butler from somewhere else that she's gone."
"Maybe you were there," Xander told him. "She's not from this plane."
"Uh-huh," Miri said, looking over at them. "You are too. You help take care of the other kids and you make great smooshy eggies. And....and you talk with Brandon's friend, Richie, who's an angelie."
"Excuse me, he's a what?" Methos asked, radiating shock. Surely she couldn't mean *Richie*.
"He's an angelie. Brandon say that he died by a friend's hand and that he's a messenger now." She nodded when she figured out that everyone was staring at her. "He is, I met him."
Methos smacked his head against the refrigerator. "Macleod," he muttered. "How did that brat become an angel?"
"Maybe he's a messenger because he hasn't earned his wings yet," Ray suggested. "She saw me in a picture on the Xander there's dresser. I had a little boy named Benny Junior." He shrugged at Methos' dirty look. "Hey, that's what she said."
"I was there too?" Xander asked, looking down at her. "Was Oz?"
"Yup, you two were married but Daddy Giles' twin was lonely. You guys had all the kids. Oh, and Unclie Derek was nice there too. He had a *big* house with a *huge* garden. I got to play in it with my Strife-kitty."
"I thought Strife was a horse," Ray said, his face scrunching up in confusion.
"Only at home," she said, patting him on the hand. "Can I have smooshy eggies on toast?"
"Only if you leave the stories until later," Oz said as he walked in. "We need time to figure out how to get you home."
"It doesn't matter, I doubt I'm a butler."
"Well, you're teaching too, but you're a butler in the mornings. They haven't found anyone else yet who likes the kids. There's *six* of them."
Oz groaned. "Man, Meth, aren't you lucky."
"Probably," Xander said quietly. "It sounds like everyone's happy in that plane. The kids are happy, we're happy, Meth is teaching and filling in until someone else can be found. We must be driven to distraction by the kids but we sound okay." He pulled out the eggs and handed them off to Oz. "I think she wanted soft-boiled ones."
"Yup, smooshy eggies on toast. They showed me how to eat it." She looked at Ray again. "You don't have a baby boy?"
"Nope, sorry. Here I have dogs and a him," he pointed at Methos, "but no kids."
"Not funny," Methos said dryly, shooting his lover an irritated look.
"At least he's housebroken," Xander pointed out. "You don't have to train him not to beg." Methos spluttered. "I meant the *dog*, chill."
"Yeah, but *he* still needs trained," Ray joked, grinning at his lover. "I can't get him to keep his feet off the couch or to throw away his beer cans."
"Beer bad for you," Miri said solemnly. "Daddies say so."
"Yes, it is," Methos said, giving her a light smile, "but for some of us it isn't as bad as others. Some of us know how to keep it's badness from affecting us."
Ray snorted. "Is that why you fell over the last time you were drinking?"
"I didn't," Methos told him firmly. "I slipped. Nothing more. I wasn't drunk."
"If you say so," Ray muttered, then grinned at his lover when he got glared at. "What?" he said in his best 'I'm being good' voice. "Can I try smooshy eggs too, Oz? They sound kinda fun."
"It's soft-boiled eggs on toast," Oz pointed out. "Miri, do you like yours harder or softer?"
"Harder please," she said, smiling at him. "I like runny centers but not runny eggies."
"Cool. I can do that." Oz set the timer and dropped in the eggs with a spoon so that none of them would crack. "Everyone else can fix their own," he pointed out when everyone kept looking at the timer. "I made enough for the three of us, not the five of us."
"I'll share," Miri said helpfully. "I'm good at that."
"They're still going to have to make their own," Oz told her as he removed the pan from the burner and started to run cold water into it. "There, just a few more minutes."
"Um, problem," Xander said, looking in the refrigerator. "No bread."
"Use the bagels," Oz told him. "In the freezer, we'll nuke them then toast them."
"Okay." Xander pulled out the bag of bagels, looking at the label. "Onion?"
"There's a bag of egg ones in there somewhere," Oz told him. "So, Miri, do you need yours cut up?"
"Yes, please. I'm not good with a knife yet." She watched as everything was prepared, her neck craned as far out as it could be. "What do you guys do," she asked finally. "Are you studiers like the other daddy twins?"
"We'll, we're wealthy, but we like to go do things," Xander temporized. "What does your daddy do?"
"He took off his clothes a few times."
Oz choked. "He stripped?" She nodded, grinning at him. "And your Daddy Giles let him?"
"They argue, but he the only one working. The you there in school still. Daddy Giles works at home and now Daddy makes candlies."
"Oh, cool," Xander said, patting Oz on the back. "They're a lot like us."
Oz grunted something unintelligible and went back to preparing plates. "Here," he said, handing Miri hers. "Be careful, I made them big pieces and the bagels are chewier than toast."
She nodded and picked up her fork, after tucking her napkin into her shirt, and took a bite, clapping while she chewed. "Just right!"
"Thanks." Oz handed Ray his plate as he sat down with his own. "Meth, gonna keep standing there?"
"He's still flustered by the thought of Richie as an angel," Ray said, grinning at him. "I could see it, he's a good guy."
"He's a brat," Methos muttered, reaching into the refrigerator for the eggs.
"But he cares," Ray pointed out. "He'd make a good angel."
"Who would?" Giles asked as he walked in. He gladly accepted Xander throwing himself in his arms. "I got a call and got told to come here. And strangely enough," he said, looking at the little girl, "it came from another version of myself."
Miri grinned. "Was the daddy Xander like Unclie Spike?"
"I'm not sure," Giles said, looking down at Xander. "Daddy Xander?"
"She's our daughter from another plane," Oz explained before taking a bite. "Sit, eat, explain yourself to Xander before he explodes."
"I'm sorry, Xander, I had to have time to think." He sat down with the younger man in his lap, trying to soothe him. "I needed to be alone. I couldn't think with you around, you'd make me focus on too many other things." He gave his lover a little squeeze. "I can only hope that you understand what a momentous thing these last few months have been."
Xander slid off him and stood up, looking down at his lover. "I understand, but it sucks, Giles. You left, you never wrote." A pile of letters was put on the table. "It's a little late for those now, don't you think?"
"Better late than never," Giles suggested.
Xander shook his head. "We'll see." He walked out into the garden. "Miri," he called, "when you're finished come find me, I have to sort stuff and you can help me."
"Okay," she called, smiling at Oz. "Do I get to help you too?"
"Nope. I'm going to be out of the house most of the day." He looked over at Ray. "You want to help me sort swords?"
"Nope. I want to relax today. We've spent the last six days across the portal, I want to veg in front of the CD player."
"Sesame Street?" Miri asked.
"No cable, sweetheart," Oz explained, patting her on the head. "Sorry. We have tapes and music though. And plenty of things to do."
"Why you not have cable? We have cable."
"Yeah, but we're hardly ever here," Oz told her. "We don't live in this house all the time."
"Oh." She took another bite while she thought. "Daddy Giles has a sword," she said finally. "I can't touch, but it's on a wall."
"Yeah, we have a few of those ourselves," Methos said, smiling at Giles. "She lives on a farm with the three of you."
"Ah." Giles nodded. "I was wondering where she was from." He looked her over again. "We need to figure out how she got here."
"Her Strife-horse," Ray said as he scraped his plate. "These are really good. I'm gonna have to remember this," he said as he got up to put the plate in the sink. "Whose turn is it to do dishes?"
"Yours, since you offered," Oz told him, shooting him a faint grin. "Thanks, man, I hate it when Xander does dishes." He got up and handed his plate over. "I'm going to go sort swords, and maybe I'll find something like Xander's daggers." He walked out of the kitchen.
Miri grinned up at Ray. "I could help," she offered. "I dry very well."
"I think you'd rather go help Xander, he has pretty stuff for you to play with." She clapped. "Cool. Finish your breakfast and go find him."
She shoveled food into her mouth and hopped up, running out the glass doors to the garden. "I'm done," she said as soon as she swallowed.
Xander patted the seat beside him. "Come rest and digest for a few minutes. We'll go up to my room in a few minutes and sort out the jewels."
"Jewels? What're those?" Her feet started to swing as she looked up at him with interest.
"Well, jewels are what jewelry is made of. They're stones, lots of them with pretty colors. We're going to sort out what's there and make notes about it. Then we'll put it back where we found it. Got it?"
She nodded. "Okay. Can we go do that?"
"Sure," he said, standing up and holding out a hand for her. She took it and they walked inside through the ballroom, going up to his bedroom. He set her on the rug and went to the closet, pulling out the heavy bag he had found across the portal. He sat down in front of her and opened the bag, taking out a handful of the jewels. "We're going to sort them by color. Can you do that?"
"Sure. Big piles or little ones?"
"Big piles are fine, I'm going to have to check them later to make sure that they're all of the same type." She started to pout. "See, color doesn't always mean it's the same." He pulled up two of the stones in his first handful. "These are really the same stones but they've got different colors. There are some that are the same color but are different stones. So you'll sort and I'll check. Okay?"
She nodded and started to sort the stones out by colors, and by tones. The light blues went with the light blues, the darker greens went with the darker greens, and all the clear ones went into a bigger pile.
Xander watched her for a few minutes, then picked up his little eye-glass and looked at one of the green ones, sorting it into a new pile.
Xander got up and grinned down at Miri. "Want a snack?"
She didn't stop sorting but nodded. "Milk please."
"Sure." He walked out, going down to the kitchen. He ran into Oz, who was cooking something. "Smells good."
"Thanks. I thought I'd make us Thai food for lunch." He stirred the mixture in the wok. "How're you two doing?"
"Whoever gathered them had a thing for jade. Otherwise, Miri's in heaven." Xander pulled down two glasses and grabbed the milk off the counter. "Oz, I feel bad..."
Oz turned and gave him a kiss. "Whatever you decide," he said quietly. "There shouldn't be a problem with sending her home with something. I want to help them too." He went back to his lunch before it burned. "Did she say anything else about her home?"
"Just that Giles is working from home now, and that I'm not working except for the candles. You're going to school there. Oh, and we've disassociated from Willow because of one of her spells." He put down the milk and looked around for a tray, ending up with a baking sheet. "That should work," he declared.
Oz checked it and nodded. "Much better than the tray that's under the stove."
"Ah." Xander wrapped Oz in his arms. "You're sure?"
"Yeah. We have enough. But, could we send an animal with her? The gray and white cat seems to love her."
"Sure. She loves her and Miri lives on a farm. We could even send a puppy with her if you wanted."
"I think our other halves would kill us," Oz said quietly, "if she suddenly showed up with six dogs and three cats."
Xander pinched him. "I'm not sending all of them with her, but maybe one or two."
"They'd come find us," Oz told him.
"Okay, fine, one of each?"
"Would be okay by me. After all, that wouldn't be too much of a problem." Oz picked up the wok and pushed the contents out into a bowl. "Good, done. Want to bring her down?"
"Sure, but I was going to bring her a snack." Xander shrugged and put the glasses on the table, then headed up the stairs. "How about lunch instead? Oz made us food."
She looked up and smiled. "Can I bring some pretties with me? I never understood what Xandra meant before."
"She Brandon's little sister."
"Oh. Okay." Xander nodded. "Just a few though." He watched as she picked out a few and put them into her pocket, then he followed her down to the kitchen. "We're here and I allowed her to have a few pretty things with her."
She put her stones out on the table so she could play with them while she ate. "My whee would like these," she declared between bites.
"Whee?" Oz asked, trying to figure out what she was talking about. Kids said some of the strangest things. "Like a ghost?"
She nodded. "Yup, she used to be a mommy and own our house. She sent me to visit Brandon and Xandra and all of them."
"How did a ghost do that?" Oz asked.
"I no know," she said, "but it was fun. Lots more fun than this trip was. This time made me dizzy."
Giles walked into the kitchen with a book, which made Miri squeal. "I see you recognize it. Do you know where the spell is?"
She nodded and stood up on her chair, flipping pages until she came to it. "There. That's the one that sent me here." She carefully sat back down and went back to her lunch. "This is good."
"Thanks," Oz said. "What are your daddies doing right now?"
"Sleeping. I asked my Strife-horsey to bring me back in the morning." She grinned at Xander. "You guys are way cooler than my daddies. Now if only you had horsies."
Giles looked at Xander and shook his head. "I know where she's from now, but sending her back may become problematic." He sat down at the table, moving Oz's bowl an inch out of the way, earning a glare. "Sorry, didn't want to tip it with the book."
"As long as you apologize." Oz took another bite. "Problem?" he asked with his mouth full.
"Not do that," Miri scolded. Everyone looked at her. "I get yelled at for that," she whined.
"Yup, I shouldn't do that," Oz agreed, looking over at Xander. "Definitely your kid."
Giles smiled at their play. "Miri, it looks like we're going to have to send you back the way you came, through that other plane. Would that be okay?"
"I think so, but they were grumpy," she complained. "They didn't like me."
"Yes, well, they didn't get to know you." Giles turned his attention back to the adults. "We'll have to send her back there then help the Giles there fix it so she goes home."
"We want to send a furry one with her," Oz said, after swallowing. "Is it okay?"
"The less material the better. The more you send, the more likely the portal is to open again."
"Ah," Xander said, nodding. "Then we'll figure it out. The cat won't get hurt?"
"It might get dizzy." Giles looked down at the book. "This really was the best way to send her anywhere. The spell sends her to another version of her parents. It's the safest thing that whomever sent her could have done."
"That explains a lot," Oz noted. "The other time she traveled, she went to someone named Derek, who has a big house, and played with our kids." He patted Xander's hand. "We had six."
"Derek Rayne?" Giles asked.
"I know him at home too," Miri said excitedly. "Auntie Buffy bring him home one night, the same night Willow was bad."
Giles shook his head. "I'm sure he's still a good man. Very highly thought of in the paranormal field." He smiled at her. "Was he the one that had the big house?" She nodded. "Yes, then whomever sent you the first time also sent you somewhere very safe."
"I wanted to have new friends," Miri explained. "There were kids there."
"So we've heard," Giles said, patting her on the head. "Eat, dear." He picked up one of the pieces of jade, dropping it when she slapped his hand.
"Mine," she said firmly. "The Daddy Xander twin said I could play with it."
"I was only looking." He picked it up again and held it up to the light. "These aren't from here, are they?" he asked as he put it back down.
"Nope. From the portal," Oz said.
"Yup, portal." Xander scraped the last of his bowl. "Remember the vibrating stone? It's a key to a portal that lives in this house. It goes to a flipped-copy of this house that's a big portal."
"Oh, dear," Giles sighed. "Oz, were you aware of this when you bought the house?"
"Nope. But it doesn't matter. We've been categorizing." He put his fork down. "Miri, would you like some more?" he asked, looking in her empty bowl.
"I know, but you can't go through the portal. It takes a special stone to get over there and you can't deal with it."
"Okay. Is it pretty?"
"It's just like this house, only backwards," Xander told her. "It's dangerous over there so you can't go."
"Okay." She nodded. "Can I please have some more? It's real good."
"Sure." Oz got up and brought over the bowl of food, dishing her out some more. "How's that?"
She grinned and dug into the food, eating quickly.
"Slow down, dear," Giles said gently.
"Have to eat fast so I can go back to the pretties," she told him. "Want to play with the pretties some more."
"Don't worry, you can play with the pretties for the rest of the day," Xander told her. He looked over at Giles, who nodded. "How long does she have here?" he asked quietly.
"Until tonight I believe," Giles said. He looked at Xander's outfit. "Not your usual fare."
"I have to do laundry."
"It's in the dryer," Oz told him.
"Cool. Thanks." Xander gave him a kiss. "I thought you were going to do the swords."
"Ray took the key stones and hid them." Oz looked over at Miri. "You asked for it, you eat it," he told her as she slowed down. She shoveled the last three bites into her mouth at once and grabbed her stones, running back up the stairs as she chewed. Oz looked over at Xander. "Whatever you want," he said again.
"I'm going to send things home with her," he told Giles quietly. "I think we need some help there. I feel like I should help myself."
"That would be most welcome probably," Giles agreed. "Just remember how you can be about people giving you things."
"Yup." Xander nodded. "I will. Don't worry about it." He got up and headed for the laundry room, coming out with a basket of clothes. "The dryer was stopped." He kissed Oz on the head before going up the stairs to help Miri.
Giles watched as Miri picked up her bag, giving her a smile. "Are you ready?" he asked. She nodded. "Did Xander give that to you?" She nodded again. "What's in it?"
"Clothes." She put the strap around her neck and gave him a brave smile. "Do I have to be dizzy? Oh, kitty!" she squealed as Oz walked in with a pet carrier. "My kitty?" she asked him.
"Yup. For you." He nodded at Giles. "Be careful, the portal's in a room behind the fireplace."
Giles gave him a bright smile. "I'm always careful." He picked Miri up and put her in the middle of the diagram. "Here we go," he said before he started to chant.
Miri grabbed her head as she started to feel dizzy, and woke up on a couch with two sets of people looking at her. "Hi," she said weakly. "Kitty okay?" It was handed through the portal. "My bag?" It was patted. "Thank you." She smiled up at the second Xander, pulling a handful of stones out of her pocket. "Here, I have these still," she said, trying to hand them back.
"It's okay. You keep them."
She beamed and turned to look at the other Giles. "I'm sorry I woked you again."
He patted her on the head. "Don't worry about it. Getting you home is most important." He looked at the other Xander, then at himself. "GHS?"
"Yes. Aren't you?" Giles asked himself.
"No, I resisted that plan." The First Giles shrugged and looked at his copy of the book. "You said I mistranslated?"
"You need to send her to 'her' Xander, not 'a' Xander."
"Ah. I'll do that now. Would you like to watch?"
"Please. I'd like to see their farm."
Giles turned to his circle and started the spell over again, accepting the little girl and her things after a few moments. He sent her back, both of himself peering down at the barn she landed in. "No wonder," he cried, closing the portal quickly. "That was Strife," he told himself.
The GHS Giles nodded. "She kept saying her Strife-horse sent her. I almost expected that."
"Hey," a whiny voice said from outside the portal to the GHS world. "I'm being good there too."
Giles waved at himself with a smile and closed the portal between their worlds.
Miri looked around the barn. "It's not day," she complained.
Strife glared down at her from his taller height and snorted at her.
"But I don't want to go to bed." She held up her kitty, looking through the air holes at it to make sure it was okay. "We're not ready for bed yet."
He snorted again and she sighed, carrying her things up to the house. She didn't see the note that floated to the ground where she had landed. Strife picked it up and put it where her father's could see it. They needed a tighter rein on that girl.
Then he sneezed.
TO BE CONTINUED...