**** Furry Investigations, Act I ****
Xander walked into Giles' house and looked around. "Giles?" he called, closing the door.
"Quiet," floated down the stairs. Buffy walked down and glared at him. "He's got a massive headache from the fight last night. Where did you go, anyway?"
"I didn't go anywhere," Xander told her, "I fell into an open grave and got knocked out." He looked up the stairs. "Giles called me earlier and told me to come over."
Giles peered down over the railing from his bedroom. "The legal pad," he said quietly, pointing at the table.
"Bed," Buffy ordered, stomping back up the stairs.
Xander walked over and grabbed the legal pad and the book sitting on top of it. "Is this it?" he asked, looking up. Giles nodded. "Have you thought about being checked for a concussion?"
Giles smiled at him. "I have, and I did. It's just a bruise." He disappeared. "Call me when you get back or if you need anything," he called down.
"I will," Xander said, taking both things with him as he left. He walked the few blocks to Oz's apartment/their workspace and tapped before he walked in. "Hey, Oz," he called, looking up at where Oz was painting the ceiling. "We've got a job." He waved the pad.
"Great," Oz said, rolling over so he could come down the scaffolding. He strolled over and took the paper, looking it over. "Huh. Not too bad. Did Giles have anything else to say?"
"Just to call him if we need anything and to give him a report when we get back."
"Cool." Oz walked over to their work table and started gathering pieces of equipment together. "Okay, we've got your special collar," he said, putting it aside.
Xander looked at the other pieces of equipment. "We've got the backups, in case we need them. We've got your interfaces so you can record things and burn them down to CD. Did you ever get that recording program to work?" Oz nodded. "Okay, so do we call Angel outright or do we just show up?"
"Got an idea," Oz said, looking at him. "I want to watch him for a day. Tomorrow's Friday, can we go then?"
"Yeah, it says we can. I can even take off Monday if we need me to. You?"
"Hey, my job's expendable," Oz told him. "I can always get another one." He handed over their nylon bag for the equipment. "I'll get the computer, you get the gear." He walked into the apartment part of the space, coming back with a small briefcase-looking bag. By that time, Xander had everything wrapped in bubble wrap and neatly stowed away. "Good. Now what?"
"Now, maybe I should practice my forms?" Xander suggested. Oz nodded, giving him an expectant look. "Okay, fine, let me take off my boxers first. I don't want to lose this pair." He walked over to the cabinet Oz had set up in a corner for his clothes and stowed them. Then he turned back to Oz and changed down into a kitten, sitting there waiting on his partner to come over.
Oz walked over and looked him over. "Good. Mouse?" Xander changed into a mouse, squeaking up at him. "No noise," Oz reminded him, stepping back. "Want to try the horse again?" Xander tried but he still wasn't quite the right shape. His shoulders were too high and his neck was too short. "Not quite," Oz told him, stepping back. "Lizard?" Xander shimmered and tried to change but he just turned scaly and brown. "Huh, still not able to do that. Okay. We can stay with cat and mouse."
Xander turned into a bigger cat. "It seems very appropriate somehow," he said.
Oz nodded, turning and walking over to the door, opening it so Willow could walk in. "Hey. How's Giles?"
"His head hurts. Buffy is fierce guardian of the headache right now." She waved at Xander. "I heard you're going tomorrow night. I brought you something," she said, handing a CD to Oz. "I wrote it. I'm not sure if you can use it or not, but it should help you sometime."
"What's it do?" Xander asked.
She jumped. "You can talk like that?" He nodded. "Wow. Well, it'll allow you to search for a person by name through any database that's open to the public. It'll collate the data and hand it all to you in a series of prepared, scheduled windows."
"Okay," Xander said, padding over. "And that means what?"
"Remember on Mission Impossible, how they could find information on anyone almost instantly?" Willow asked. He nodded. "Well, now you can search through any public database and find out the same things. I've programmed some windows to come up with only certain information, others with different stuff. It'll allow you to pick and choose which information you want to bring up in the preferences. If you need different stuff in the windows, like you need it reconfigured, I'll need to fix the program, I hardwired that in."
Oz hugged her. "Thanks. This will be useful." He went to add it to his computer case, making sure it was secure before reclosing it. "We're ready," he told her. "We leave tomorrow night and we're ready."
She smiled. "It's just nerves," she told him. "What else can you do?"
Xander looked at Oz, who nodded, so he tried his horse form again. "I need some help with this one and a lizard form I've been trying for. This is really hard."
"I bet," she agreed, reaching over to pat his side. "Maybe if you snuck into a field with horses and changed beside them so you can see while you're changing?"
"Maybe," Oz agreed. "We've tried an animal book." He looked Xander over. "You look like an animal cracker."
Xander snorted and became a kitten again. "Well, I had to start it on something," he told him. "I've never been around a horse before."
"Point," Oz admitted. He looked at Willow. "We have practice tonight and planning. You?"
"I have a test on Monday," she sighed. "It's a big drag, but I have to study. I have no doubt Buffy's going to ask for my help studying on Sunday." She grinned at Xander. "Have fun. Call me when you get back." She skipped out of the building.
Oz went over to make sure the door was closed and locked it. "Okay," he said, turning back around to find a six-foot Xander kitten there. "How did you want to watch him?"
"I think we should test the equipment out on him," Xander said thoughtfully, curling up so he could sit comfortably. "We can test the collar and everything. You said the digital camera should pick up vamps."
"Cool." Oz walked closer. "I want to know why your clothes disappear and don't come back," he said, looking Xander over. "I'm wondering if the collar's going to leave too."
"We can try it with a backup," Xander told him. "We bought three collars."
"Point. Shrink," Oz said as he walked over to the workbench. He came back with a black nylon collar, reaching down to latch it around Xander's neck. "Try going up slowly so you don't choke," he advised.
Xander slowly changed size and the collar went with him until he got to his half-way form. He changed lower a little. "I have a feeling, but can we try the leather one?"
Oz nodded and went over to get it, coming back to find Xander working his last collar off in kitten form. "Huh. My mother's cat used to do the same thing." He took that collar and put on the leather one, watching as Xander changed up and into human, keeping the collar. "Huh, interesting," he said, reaching out to touch the collar. "Looks good on you."
Xander grinned. "Thanks." He ran his finger under the collar. "Now the real test," he said, changing back to the kitten form and back to human. "It goes with me," he said in shock. "Why don't my clothes do that?"
"Maybe you need leather underwear," Oz suggested lightly.
Xander snickered. "I can just see the look on the dry cleaner's face when I bring them in." He went to the cabinet and grabbed his clothes, putting them on so they could have some dinner. Oz had decided that Xander needed to eat better so dinner at his house happened at least twice a week.
Oz looked around the space and remembered their cohort. "I'll call Spike later and fill him in," he said as he pulled out a carton from the refrigerator. "We'll plan tonight."
"Okay," Xander agreed, stealing a mushroom to nibble on.
Xander watched from behind a box as Angel got his ass kicked. He blinked a few times, trying to remember how to kill these demons. He decided to help when one of them picked up a piece of wood. He trotted out, changing in mid stride to his halfway, six-foot form, and clawed one of the blue, horned demons across the face. He growled at it, hissing at its partner when it turned to aid it's comrade. He swiped at the second demon, kicking the first in the shin. When it was down and Angel had gotten over his shock long enough to get up, he changed back to kitten form and jumped up onto a box to watch the rest of the fight.
Angel panted as he turned to look at the kitten, the demons firmly dispatched to wherever bad demons went when they died. "What are you?" he asked it, looking it over.
Xander trotted away, his tail waving 'bye' to the vampire. At the end of the alley, Xander turned and morphed back into his human form to wave, then back into his kitten form to run away.
Angel hung his head. "No," he moaned. "Someone got Harris." He lifted his head and looked around. He'd have to research this. He had never heard of a demon turning into a kitten before. He walked back to his car, intending on going back to his office. He was jumped as he opened the door, this time by humans. He vamped out and two of them ran away screaming. The other gave him a rapturous smile and stepped closer.
"I knew you were real, man," the guy said, smiling at Angel. "Can you talk to me? Tell me about it?"
Angel shook his head and got into the car, closing the door before the crazy kid could start talking again. He drove away, going to a demon bar he knew. He could get information there, and more importantly he could get a drink. He really needed a drink.
Xander snuck into Angel's office, pulling the same trick he had on Giles. He laid on top of some papers and meowed at Cordelia, giving her his best innocent look. In his ear, he could hear Oz giving him quiet instructions.
"Oh, a kitten," she said, sitting down at the desk to pet it. "Are you lost, little one?" She looked at its collar, snorting when she saw the address on the collar. "You really must be lost if you're from Sunnydale." She picked it up and moved it off the papers, stroking down the trice-striped head. "Why are you here?"
Wesley walked in and stopped, looking at the cat. "Where did that beast come from?"
"It's not a beast, it's a kitten," Cordelia defended. She smiled at him. "And it's from Sunnydale. It's got a collar."
"It's also got something in it's ear," Wesley said, pointing at the little black spot he could see.
She waved it off. "I saw, it's not at tick." She petted the cat. "Think Angel would let us keep it as a mascot?"
Wesley shook his head. "I doubt it. Cats are problematic creatures."
"But aren't they supposed to know things, like Witches and bad guys?" The cat meowed. "See, he agrees with me."
Wesley sighed and walked into the inner office. "You tell Angel about this, I won't." He went to get a book he needed to complete the research he started the day before for Angel.
Cordelia leaned closer to the cat. "Give, Xander, what's up?" she whispered.
He grinned and licked the tip of her nose, jumping off the desk. He knew he was being followed as he went down to Angel's apartment, and he figured Wesley would be following him too. He never expected the cage. He changed to a mouse and wiggled out between the bars, changing back to the cat form to run down the stairs. He landed on Angel's lap and head butted him. "Hey, Deadboy. The Powers sent me."
Angel shrieked and jumped up, dumping Xander onto the floor.
Wesley and Cordelia walked into the apartment, Cordelia laughing at the scared look on her boss' face. "Relax, it's only Xander. And I've got to admit, Willow and I created a cute cat." Both men glared at her. "What? We were six." The kitten's tail wiggled at her, making her laugh. "That's my part of it."
"Yup," Xander said, looking at Wesley. "Nice move with the cage. Do it again and I'll go roll around in some sand fleas." He grinned at the person he was here to help. "The Powers called me to help you by getting certain information. Where do I have to go?"
Angel shook his head and sat back down. "How are you a werecat during the day and during a new moon?"
"Oh, no," Cordelia said, coming in to sit down and hold the cat in her lap. "He's a shape changer now. Ever since we were six and Willow wished for a cat. I wished for her cat to have a lively tail to entertain her." She grinned as the tail wrapped around her wrist. "Yes, I love you too, tail." She petted her contribution to Xander's present form. "It's really pretty neat. Willow freaks whenever she sees the tail."
"Not anymore. We had to move her past that," Xander told her. "So, Angel, surprise!" he said.
Oz cleared his throat from the stairs. "Really." He handed over the outfit Xander had left in the back of his van. "Go change, we'll talk as humans." He sat beside Cordelia. "Good job. His tail likes me too." He looked at Angel, who looked like he was somewhere between scared stiff and really pissed. "We even had tags made with Giles address, it was for the best."
"Forged shot records and all?" Wesley asked. Oz nodded. "My, you two have thought of everything." He looked up as Xander walked out of the bedroom. "How do you do that?"
"Call and ask Giles," Xander told him. "I'm a shape changer, he has all the relevant books on his table right now." Wesley nodded for him to go on. "Really, go call him. We've got to talk about my spying for the Powers."
Wesley frowned but he walked away.
Xander looked at Angel. "They called me a few months ago and I'm here to do your dirty work for you. Where am I going?"
"I doubt a kitten would be able to get into Wolfram and Hart," Cordelia said thoughtfully. "But your mouse form might work." She reached out and touched his collar. "This doesn't disappear?"
"No, only my underwear," he said with a shrug and a grin. He looked at Oz. "Do we know them?"
"We've got a small file started on them," Oz noted. "And we can get building plans." He looked at Angel. "Where do you need him most?"
Angel closed his mouth. "He can't, they'll kill him," he protested.
Xander snorted. "Deadboy, no one looks at the mice in the walls. And no one notices things like cameras on their collars."
"These people would," Angel told him.
"Deadboy, you didn't see or sense me last night until I had to come save your ass," Xander said coldly. "Lawyers, even demonic lawyers, aren't that much of a difference from a vampire."
Cordelia snorted. "Too true, especially these ones." She patted the seat beside her. "Sit. Tell us exactly why they sent you."
"Because I can be small and unnoticeable, like high school only less noticed," Xander told her, relaxing into the comfortable couch. "The Powers granted me the ability to add more than my cat form recently, but I've only got my mouse form down pretty well."
"Horses aren't working for us," Oz added, looking at Angel. "Really, Angel, he was sent to do this." He handed over the handwritten copy of the prophecy from the book. "That's what was sent with me when I was sent to teach him."
One perfectly manicured eyebrow went up as Angel read the paper. He finally looked up. "You're really that good?"
"This is our first assignment," Xander admitted, "but I'm already good. I've been practicing at work. I'm doing construction now and my crew hardly ever sees me when I'm changed and haunting the site on my days off."
"And they would be noticing things like cats and mice because they shouldn't be there," Cordelia said thoughtfully. "What about other tests? Supermarkets, pizza places, that sort of thing?"
"We got a free pizza because of his mouse form," Oz said dryly, looking around her at his cohort. "He was sitting on top of the box in mouse form sniffing the cheese. We got a call saying it would be late or we could have it for free since the mouse hadn't gotten inside."
Xander grinned. "Hey, I wanted a pizza and they were too slow," he countered. "I couldn't wait and it was a fair test. No one there noticed anything until I hopped up onto the box."
Cordelia snorted. "Boys," she sighed, rolling her eyes. "What about in a crowded office?"
"There's always space in walls," Xander told her. "There's wiring ducts and the air conditioning vents. I can make my way around any building as long as there's a wall or a vent, and there's no armor plating to keep people out."
Angel grunted. "All right. What are you supposed to be doing, I can't read this. It's in Watcherese."
"It says we're supposed to be here now gathering information for you tonight," Oz told him. "Giles has been teaching me how to read those." Angel nodded. "It also says that Xander's first real test is going to be tonight, but that he won't be hurt. Our accomplis is back at the motel waiting on us to get back because he wanted to sneak in too."
"How is he going to do that?" Cordelia asked. Angel gave her a quizzical look. "Oops, I mean, accomplis?"
Xander patted her on the knee. "It's okay, we figured that you got the same call Oz did just in case the stubborn one refused to help us at first. He's our diversion tonight, he's going to talk to the lawyers about doing something." He stood up. "Who do you need to know about?" he asked Angel.
"What accomplis?" Angel asked. Xander just stared expectantly at him. Angel quickly got the point that he had already lost the battle to find out who was helping them. "All right. I need either the senior council or Lindsey McDonald listened to. Can you do that?"
"Sure, but we need a picture," Oz told him.
"I have one of Lindsey," Angel admitted, getting up to get it. "This is him."
Xander studied the photograph, touching his collar. "All right. I'll do my best. We'll be back sometime tonight, at the latest around dawn." He nodded at Oz and they walked out together, Oz stopping to wave from the stairs.
Angel glared down at his receptionist. "What accomplis?" he hissed.
"The Powers didn't tell me to tell you about him," she said with an flippant shrug as she hurried upstairs. She stopped long enough to pat Wesley on the shoulder for being ignored. "I'm sure they weren't snubbing you for a reason."
"Actually, according to the sheet Oz gave us, I'm not to be told," Wesley said, showing it to her. Oz had slipped it to him as they had walked past. "It seems I'm going to be taken hostage soon and the Powers want this team to remain secret for a bit longer." He smiled weakly. "It doesn't matter though. I know enough already." He closed the book and put it away. "It's not like we need this information now that Angel has uncovered what happened to Xander."
Cordelia smiled. "Who would have thought Willow and I could wish up a Xandercat?" she said happily, going back to her desk and her nailpolish.
"If it's a matter of will, I'm sure you could wish up as many as you wanted," he sighed, looking around the office for something else to do.
Xander slid out of Spike's pocket while he waited, heading for the nearest potted plant to relieve himself. After he was done, he looked up and found a guard looking down at him. He squeaked and tried to run away, running back into the walls through a crack next to a doorframe just as a big hand made a grab for him. He stuck his nose out and squeaked at the guard, running back into the walls. He headed for the higher floors, stopping every so often to look through another crack. The voice in his ear grumbled something and he stopped to listen.
//Spike got told that his pet escaped,// Oz told him.
Xander let out an inquisitive squeak.
Oz snorted //Yeah, you were seen and reported. Spike's letting them try to find you. Which floor are you on?//
Xander squeaked three times.
//Go up one more floor and head for the other side of the building. That's where the meeting rooms are.// The mic clicked off.
Xander shrugged and walked to the next junction going his way, working his way up into the air conditioning system. He ended up sitting over top of the main meeting area and turned his camera to catch the people under him.
"Is it taken care of?" the older male, green skinned demon said, hissing his 's's. "Is he going to be gone?"
"He will be," the human lawyer said, pushing over a photo. Xander made sure the camera got a picture of that. "The annoying one will be long gone before you need to have him out of the way. Does our deal stand?"
"Of course," the demon said, pulling himself upright. "I will make sure that you get a third of what we cut out of the wall. Why you would want that stone I don't know, but it's a profitable deal for us." He picked up the picture to look at, letting Xander see it was one of Angel. Somehow they had found out how to photograph him too. "As long as this vampire is out of our way, then you have no fear from me or my brethern. If he isn't out of the way," the demon said as he tore up the picture, "you have much to fear from me." He stood up and walked out.
The lawyer leaned back and scratched his left eyebrow, glancing around the room.
Xander scooted back into the shadows and clicked off the camera, heading for the next meeting room he could hear people in. He stopped there for a few minutes, taking pictures of the plans the woman had on the table, then went on to the next meeting area, which was much bigger and it had guards on the door. He made sure he was hidden real well before turning on the camera, watching and listening to the humans and demons planning things. He shifted closer to get a picture of the vampire currently talking, and a picture of the challis he was slurping blood from. That's when the guard saw him.
He was pulled out of the grate kicking, biting, and squeaking and showed to the partners. "This is that vampire downstair's mouse. It came out of his pocket."
The vampire at the table looked closer at him. "Well, it's an *interesting* choice for a pet, especially when one is down. Give him back his pet, I'm sure it gives him great *comfort*," he said snidely.
Xander wiggled to make sure his collar was free of the big hand, and squeaked indignantly.
One of the other partners laughed. "I'm sure his mouse has talked back to him plenty of times." He waved a hand. "Tell Lindsey that we might want to help that vampire after all. He interests me. I would like to see what fruits our earlier plans have borne." He waved the hand again. "Take him back to his master."
The guard nodded and carried Xander out, trying to keep a good grip on him. He walked down the hall and tapped on a door, stepping in to talk with the man behind the desk. He handed over the mouse, and left, wiping his hands off on his pants.
"You are not what I thought a former Master Vampire would have as a pet," he said distastefully. He picked the mouse up carefully. "I swear, if you make a mess on me, you'll be dead," he promised as he walked down the hall. He kicked on the door and it opened to admit him, and he nodded the younger lawyer out. He waited until the door was closed to hand over the mouse. "It got into the ductwork down the hall," he said dryly.
Spike petted Xander's back, smiling at him. "I like him, he reminds me a bit of me when I was human." He put the mouse back into his pocket, where all the tissues were. "So? Any word on if you sods can help me?"
"We might. We want to consider your offer for a few days. We'll contact you at your hotel." He stood up and walked out.
Spike got up and walked out, leaving with his most precious cargo.
Oz walked down into Angel's apartment waving a CD. "Would you like what we have?" he asked.
"Yeah," Cordelia said, making a grab for it, but Oz wouldn't let her have it.
Angel held out a hand. "Please," he said, smiling at Oz. "Let's see what sort of information Harris can get."
"Well, gee, how about a plot to end your life and a picture of a few of the senior partners." Oz handed over the CD to the stunned vampire. "Need help running it?"
"Please," Angel mumbled, getting out of his way. Technology hated him.
Oz leaned over the computer and clicked on the program on the CD, installing it first when he didn't see the right program to play the information with. Then the pictures loaded and Oz stepped back, letting Angel get in to see the little pictures. "It's a little dark," he admitted. "He was in the ductwork."
Angel hunkered down in front of the computer and turned up the volume, watching and listening to the pictures. He looked up but Oz was gone. So he looked at Cordelia. "We've got some major problems," he told her, nodding her over. "I know this demon."
"Play the other part too," she said, her brow wrinkling. "I want to see what else he got. We've never gotten a good idea of the senior council before."
Angel played the other parts and watched as Xander panned across the plans. Then across the meeting. He coughed as they watched him get caught, but the pictures afterwards were much clearer, giving them a much better idea of who and what was running the law firm for Hell.
Angel howled as he saw Spike, falling onto the floor laughing.
Cordelia smiled down at him. "I thought you'd like it that he was called into service," she smirked. "Can we run this again?"
Angel nodded, getting up to rewatch all the parts. There was a lot of information there that they might be able to use if they could decipher the partially overheard comments.
Xander stretched upwards, bracing against the wall he was leaning against. "Man, I don't want to be captured again," he complained. Oz nodded from his place on the bed. "Any idea what those plans were?"
"Not yet," Oz told him. "I'm running a Willow-given search for which building it looks like." He looked up at the cough. "She designed this program a few years ago to turn blueprints into a 3-D model so you can search for it. She thought it might come in handy while hunting." He went back to his computer, grunting when it came up. "It's their building?" he said, actually frowning at the screen.
Xander came over to look over his shoulder, frowning at the frozen plans. "Why would she be looking at the plans for their building?" he asked. "Which floor, can we figure that out?"
"Yeah, it's an auxiliary basement," Oz said quietly, going back to the blueprints. "It's a third or fourth level basement, having one major room with a vault in the center of it."
"The crypt kind?" Spike asked. Oz nodded and he whistled. "My, what are Wolfram and Hart doing now?" he asked dryly. "You gonna tell the pouf?"
"Yeah, we probably should," Oz said, opening a third window to send an email to Cordelia. "There, now they know what we know." He looked up at Xander, who was standing very close to him. "Yes?"
"Just wanting to know if we know anything else," Xander said, backing away.
Oz got up and gave Xander a hug. "Change and I'll give you belly and ear scratches," he offered. "You've earned them."
Xander grinned and changed down, hopping up onto the bed to get petted by his favorite petter.
Spike rolled his eyes as he got up to answer the door. He opened it and checked to make sure of Xander's form, smiling when he saw he was a mouse again. He looked at the demon on the other side. "What'd you want?" he snarled.
"I have a message," he said dully, holding out the paper. "From the lawyers." He pulled out the inhaler in his pocket and took a hit, smiling and relaxing again. "I've done my duty," he said, his eyes opening wide when Spike hadn't take it.
"Take it," Oz suggested. "They'll hurt him for using before he gave it."
Spike grabbed the paper and the demon walked away so he slammed the door. He opened the note and held it up so they could see it. "I've got a second meeting."
Oz leaned closer. "And you can't bring Xander."
"We're done anyway," Xander noted.
"Good point," Oz said. "But wouldn't you like it if we could watch over them? They seem to be in the middle of every bad thing on this coast, including Sunnydale." Spike glared at him. "Hey, I'm not saying who ran the Initiative," he noted. "Maybe they know though."
Spike grunted. "Maybe. I just want the bloody chip gone." He flopped down onto the second bed. "You're going then?"
"Yeah," Oz said, standing up. "I think we're done here. The prophecy book said only one night of work." He gathered up their things and took the gear out to the car while Xander changed back into a human and got redressed.
Xander quickly packed the clothes strewn around the room and waved as they walked out. "You coming back into town?"
"In a few," Spike waved at them. He waited until they were gone to pull out the extra collar Oz had made him and look at it. "I doubt I'll need you," he told it. "Especially not to help the great bloody pouf."
The phone rang and he got up to get it, smiling at the happy voice on the other end. "Yeah, I'll bring your shirt back, whelp, and I'll remember the collar," he said before hanging up. He rolled his eyes. Those two were just a bit too happy for his liking. He went back to the bed and laid down, flipping on the tv.
Giles opened his door and looked at the two boys on the other side. "You're back already?" he asked in shock as he let them in.
"The book said we only had one day of work," Oz reminded him, sitting down. He handed over the CD of what they had captured. "This is your copy. Angel has one too, and we have a backup."
Giles slid the CD in between a few books. "Was there anything of interest for our group?" he asked as he sat down, making sure his bathrobe covered him fully.
Oz nodded. "Wolfram and Hart are very influential in everything going on."
Xander grinned. "It's really very odd, Giles, they run *everything* that's majorly bad. And if they don't run it, they have a hand in it, know about it, or approved of it beforehand." He glanced around. "I'm thinking that the Initiative would have been part of that too." He didn't like to mention the Initiative. If Riley was still around, how many of the others were?
"We argued over that point on the way home," Oz told him. "I was thinking someone like the Watchers."
Giles shook his head. "I called and told them about this, just to warn them that we're not the only ones interested in demons. They were completely shocked, I know the woman I talked to." Both boys nodded. "It is possible, if they are as influential as you think, that they had a hand in getting the Initiative started. I'll call in a few favors to investigate that sideline of speculation." He looked at Xander, who was practically vibrating. "It went well?" he asked with a fond smile.
Xander nodded. "They got told I was Spike's pet mouse."
Giles' mouth fell open and he turned to stare at Oz. "They saw him?"
"He stopped to take a leak on a potted plant," Oz said dryly. "It's a good cover though. I took a chance to read the book on the way back and that'll work as cover for a lot of those things."
Giles closed his mouth then looked at them, suddenly smiling. "That would be most helpful. As long as no one says anything to Spike or tries to hurt you because of him."
"They shouldn't," Xander said, shifting again. "I don't know why I'm so wired," he explained. "It happened almost as soon as we left LA."
"Did you leave Spike there?"
Oz nodded. "He got a letter from the lawyers saying they wanted a second meeting, but that he couldn't bring Xander with him." He waved a hand around. "We need to get to sleep and Xander needs to wear out some energy before he vibrates through a wall." He stood up. "Anything else you need to know?"
"Just as long as I get a more formal report tomorrow," he told them with a smile. "Go to bed, boys. I think you've deserve it." He stopped Xander on the way out. "It's an adrenaline high, like the ones you used to get when you first started to patrol with Buffy. Take care of it however you did it back then." He got a nod and let go of the wrist. "I'll see you both tomorrow night," he called as the door closed. He smiled and got up to head upstairs, going back to his very patient bed partner.
Xander leaned against his shower wall, eyes squeezed tightly shut as he stroked himself. He needed to work some of this nervous tension off and he needed it gone now. He pulled out a favorite fantasy of his, his lover stroking his furry form, continuing as he changed back. He snorted as his tail got into the dream, but that was okay. His tail liked to be stroked too and it could be almost as good as a hand on his cock at times. His fantasy shifted, now it was Oz petting and stroking him, making him groan. He started to pant as the scene got more graphic and more sexual, Oz going down to blow him now while still stroking his tail.
He came with a groan of Oz's name, leaning against the wall as he panted, trying to calm down. "What was that?" he complained to himself. He grabbed a bottle of soap as soon as he quit shaking and started to clean up his mess. He couldn't sleep with cum all over his stomach, he'd make a mess of the bed.
He climbed out of the shower and dried off, walking out to find Oz in his living room. "Um, hi," he said cautiously, backing away from him when Oz stood up.
"You had the fantasy too?" he asked, looking Xander over. The younger man nodded frantically. "Is your tail actually a sexual organ to you?" he asked, looking a little confused.
"It can be," Xander admitted, blushing. "Um, Oz, this isn't the time for this, okay? That was creepy."
"I'm pretty sure that was the Powers," Oz told him, coming over to give him a hug. "Friends?" he asked quietly.
"Yeah, friends," Xander sighed, squeezing him as hard as he could. "I like friends, Oz, and I don't want to lose any more."
"Then we won't," Oz said from his squished position. He tried to look up but couldn't move. "Um, Xander?" he asked and was let go of. "Thanks, you're really strong." He looked around the comfortable apartment. "We okay?"
"Yup," Xander said with a grin. "If it happens again, I'll know it was the Powers and I won't hold it against you...um, yeah, ah. I didn't mean it like that," he said desperately, trying to figure out a way to make it not sound dirty.
Oz patted him on the arm. "I understand," he said. "Can I crash on the couch? The studio's just too far to walk right now."
"Sure. Have at it," Xander said, waving a hand at the couch. "How did you get over here?"
"I was still driving around," Oz admitted as he went to lie down. He looked down at his clothes. "Can I bum some sweats too?"
"Sure. Second drawer in the dresser, the one in the closet," he suggested. "That's the t-shirts and soft things drawer." Oz nodded and walked into the bedroom, letting Xander relax. Xander looked up and frowned. "That wasn't nice," he complained to the Powers, who he hoped were listening. "That was creepy, having the same fantasy." He got himself some juice while he waited, humming lightly to the tune on the radio he kept on to counteract the too-quietness of the building. He jumped when he turned and found Oz standing there in his sweat pants and a t- shirt, smiling at the bagginess of the clothes. "You're going to get tangled up," he said with a grin.
"I don't move that much," Oz reminded him, going to make up the couch so he could sleep.
Xander came out with a second glass of juice for Oz and sat down on the foot of the couch, looking at him. "Did I do okay tonight?" he asked.
"Besides the whole getting caught thing? Yeah, I'd say so," Oz said after drinking some of his juice. "I know why you stopped to pee, understand that feeling fully, but it was a convenient way to establish a cover for us. You," he amended.
Xander reached out and took Oz's hand. "You're still important to me and what I do," he said quietly, giving him a hopeful smile. "Really really important, Oz. I couldn't do what I do without you."
"I know. It kinda sucks that I'm stuck behind the computer, that's all."
Xander snorted. "Oz, I was scared to death tonight when I snuck out. You were the lucky one. I want you to go do this next time."
Oz shook his head. "I guess, but it's still kinda hard to admit that I'm a computer person. I started to like doing the physical stuff."
"Hey, you can have all the physical stuff you want," Xander told him. "I still don't fight all that well, so I'm going to have to depend on you and Spike to come kick some major ass when I get caught the next time." Oz looked up, looking a little happier. "Besides, there's *got* to be something in there that's going to result in a direct confrontation and I'd really like it if you had my back instead of Spike. I *trust* you, Oz, fully. I kinda trust Spike, but I trust you all the way. You're much more important to me than Spike is right now." He grinned. "Can you imagine the Powers forcing him into the fantasy we just had?" Oz nodded, blushing. "Um, I didn't see him," he said carefully.
"I saw him watching," Oz said with a shrug. "It's not a big to me right now, as long as you're not going to throw me over." He looked down at the juice he was holding. "Xander, this is a scary thought, but you've replaced Willow in my life as a reason." He glanced back up to see the shock. "That's about how I felt too when I realized it earlier tonight." He leaned over to pinch him. "Don't turn off your mic again," he admonished.
Xander nodded, not looking up. "I didn't think I had, just tapped it to the latent setting again."
Oz shook his head. "Not quite. We'll work on that for the next time, which is in another month." He shifted, draining his glass of juice. "Ready to sleep now?"
Xander looked over at him. "I should, but I don't have to get up tomorrow, it's only Sunday. It is Sunday, right?" Oz nodded and he sighed. "Good. All I have to do tomorrow is laundry."
"Maybe we'll figure out where all your boxers go," Oz said dryly. "And why your collar stays." He reached out to touch it. "It's tighter than your boxers, maybe that's the key," he suggested.
"Oz, I'm not wearing a thong to work in," Xander told him firmly. "They hurt."
"Not if you get the right size," Oz noted, giving him a hint of a smile when the younger man's eyes went wide. "Don't worry, I was thinking more along the lines of briefs or bikinis."
"Maybe," Xander agreed, getting up. "Have a nice nap, Oz. Don't worry about waking me up if you get up first, I'm usually a heavy sleeper." He took their glasses into the kitchen to rinse them out then went to his bedroom, closing the door like he always did.
Oz scooted down and covered himself, closing his eyes. He hoped the fantasy wouldn't come back as a dream, but he wasn't sure prayers were being listened to right now.
Xander floated in that nice spot between waking and sleep, or at least he thought he was, but he was being petted by someone. He purred as he rolled into the body next to him, closing his eyes as the hands worked their way down his side and stomach. He almost thought about opening his eyes to see who it was, but he didn't want to break the moment. It felt so *good* to have someone appreciate him for who he was. It had been too long since anyone had liked him for who and what he was, and whomever the hands belonged to apparently was at least liking his furry side a little bit. He shivered as the hands touched his nipples, grinning as one was pinched for him. "Hmm," he hummed, turning it into a purr when the fingers stopped. The fingers started to stroke him again, long slow pets down his stomach and side.
Xander shifted slightly, spreading his arms and legs wider so the hands could concentrate on his stomach. The voice that went with the hands chuckled and scratched lightly in circles, turning him on further. He could feel that his bottom half wasn't furry, but he didn't think that it mattered to the person who owned the hands moved one of them down there to tease his cock with a finger. He shifted again, rolling onto his back so the hands could have complete access to his stomach and lower parts. The voice hummed next to his ear again, and the scratching fingers changed pattern, going in long lines now. He wiggled to get the fingers where he wanted them but the fingers were removed until he stopped moving. When they came back, they started in the slow, gentle circles again, and the hand on his cock started to stroke instead of just holding him. Xander shivered as the two feelings collided in his stomach, making it knot in tension, pleasurable tension, the stuff that meant he was going to be coming soon. He couldn't believe that he was going to get off from having his stomach scratched, but apparently his tail wasn't his only erogenous zone. He started to buck up into the hands, his purring getting louder, almost calling out now. He heard another chuckle and the hand on his cock left, making him moan until it got to his tail. Then he arched up and whimpered, eyes squeezed even tighter shut. The hand on his stomach increased the pressure slightly and the stroking down his tail got a little firmer and that's all it took.
Then he woke up and found he was alone in the bed. He panted as he calmed down, looking down at his half-furry body. He let go of his tail, wiping his sweaty hands off on his legs, considering what had just happened to him. After a few seconds, he groaned and rolled over, vowing to wash the sheets and hoping Oz was still asleep. He didn't think he could face his friend if he had heard him going off like that. Xander shook his head. "I'm not thinking about it," he told himself quietly. "I'll figure this out later." He closed his eyes and let the lethargy settle over him, allowing himself to fall asleep again.
In the living room, Oz blinked a few times then shook his head. "That was more than I wanted to know," he told himself, shifting his own erection out of his way so he could get back to sleep.
Xander blushed as he looked across the laundromat at Oz, quickly hiding behind his book again.
Oz stopped his folding to come over and sit beside his friend. "What's wrong?" he asked. He took the book. "What?"
"I, um, did you hear anything this morning?" he squeaked.
Oz snorted. "No, I'm a heavy sleeper." He handed the book back. "You okay?" he asked, noticing the relief pouring off his friend.
"Yeah, I'm good," Xander said, grinning at him. "Thanks, Oz," he said, giving him a hesitant hug. "Are you almost done?"
"Almost. How about yours?"
"I've got about six more minutes and anything that's not dry can dry in the closet," Xander said, looking at the clock on the wall. "We can go whenever mine are tossed into the bag. Want help loading your stuff into my car?"
"Sure. Give me a few." Oz got up to go back to his folding, carefully watching his friend for more signs of embarrassment. A little lie could be helpful sometimes. He finished folding everything and Xander got up to help him carry his bags to the trunk of Xander's car. Then he walked back in to gather up the rest of their laundry supplies: books, music, detergent, notebook. He got back from loading the car in time to help Xander drag his bags out to the car and sling them into the trunk too, slamming it so he could get in. He slid into his seat and looked at Xander, who was yawning. "Bored?"
"Yeah, it's a nice day, but I could still use an afternoon nap."
"Hey, you've got a sunny spot beside the window," Oz reminded him, accepting the pinch to his arm. "Want to drop me off at home and come over for supper?"
Xander blinked a few times then nodded. "Okay. Can you call to make sure I get up?"
"Why don't you call when you get up and I can fix something as you're coming over," Oz suggested.
"Cool by me," Xander said as he started the car. He yawned again and the engine was turned off. "Huh?"
"Out. Let me drive. I really don't want to wreck in this outfit." He got out, holding the shirt he was wearing together so it wouldn't fall off him in the light breeze. He slid into the driver's seat once Xander had fully moved over, buckling up to set a good example. He started the engine and backed out slowly, heading for Xander's home first. "Why don't you take your stuff up and I'll take the car home?" he suggested.
"Your van's parked in my spot," Xander pointed out.
"Oh, yeah," Oz said, staring at it as they rounded the corner. "I forgot I had driven back last night." He shrugged. "Okay. Need help getting stuff up the stairs?"
"Nah, I can handle the few that I have to go up." Xander got out once the car was parked, waiting for the trunk to be opened. "You need help?" he asked as he grabbed the two bags.
"Nope, but those are mine," Oz told him, taking the bags from him and going over to his van to sling them into the back. He came back to get his notebook and music, then waved and headed for his house.
Xander watched the van pull away before grabbing his bags and toting them upstairs. He remembered to come down and close the trunk, but then went up to take his nap in the sun. Oz had the right idea, napping as a kitten was *the* best sensation to him most days. He shook off a tendril of his dream last night, trying hard to ignore the implications of it. As soon as his door was closed and locked, he stripped down and changed, going to nap in the sunny spot.
Oz opened his door at the knock, looking at the man and woman standing on the other side. He invited them in with a wave. "You want Xander," he said after smelling them. They were shape changers. Xander's true teachers had shown up. "He's in the kitchen eating. This way."
The man stopped him, smiling at him. "There are many things that we need to talk to you about also."
The woman cleared her throat. "I think I figured out the anomaly in the letter," she said quietly. "He's a were."
"And I'm this way because of a Wishing Stone," Xander said as he walked out, bowing to them. "You're from the settlement, aren't you?"
The man nodded. "Yes, we are. You called and we were intrigued." He bowed to Xander. "A Wishing Stone?"
"Welcome to the Hellmouth," Oz murmured, looking at the woman. "The Shaman, right?" She nodded. "Cool, can I ask you for a few pieces of advice while you train Xander?"
She chuckled lightly. "Of course. You smell as if you need it."
"You mean he was *turned* this way?" the man asked coldly. "Who would dare do that?"
"They were six," Oz said with a shrug. "His best friend wanted a cat."
"And now I can become a cat or a mouse," Xander said, looking the man over. "I'd show you but I have this problem with my underwear disappearing."
The man laughed, holding a hand out to him. "I can cure that," he said, still smiling. "We'll work on this after I get the whole of the story that you left out of your letter, young man."
Xander nodded. "Cool, Oz made extra if you'd like something to eat."
"Just a drink would be fine," the woman said, following them into the kitchen. She stopped Oz, looking at him. "You've done excellent, but we are only here for a short time," she said, touching the side of his face. "Relax and quit worrying, your scent is off."
Oz relaxed. They weren't here to take his place. He nodded at the kitchen. "I have juice or water. I'm not allowing Xander to have too much soda in here."
She smiled and took his arm as they walked in. "That might be a very wise idea, young man." She sat down at the table, listening to the tale the young cub was telling.
To Part 3: