Notes: This is AFTER Buffy dies for the second time. About a month after actually. Willow and Tara are still around. Giles is still around, if not all there. Dawn is still around, and nearly eighteen in this one.
With Friends Like These, Who Needs A Normal Life?
Xander lifted his head from where it was resting between Aphrodite's thighs, making her groan as his tongue was pulled away. "Who is it?" he yelled, having heard the door open.
"It's me and I've got company," Dawn called it. "It's really bad this time."
"Give me a sec," Xander called down. He wiggled up and kissed his lover gently. "I'll be back," he said quietly. "Keep it wet for me?"
She patted him on the head. "Xander, that makes six times, I need to nap already. You go fix this and I'll catch a nap. By the time you get back up here, I'll be ready for you again, 'kay?"
He nodded and slid off the bed, grabbing his robe as he wiped off his mouth and chin. He loved his new-found oral fixation. He hopped off the last stair, smiling at Dawn and the stiff woman standing behind her. "Hi, what's up?" he asked, pulling Dawn into his side. He knew Authority when he saw it. This could get bad.
"Mr. Harris, my name is Mrs. Gwenis and I'm a Social Worker. This young girl has been living on her own for the last month and it's been brought to our attention."
Xander squeezed Dawn's shoulders gently. "Her sister just died. That was their house and she's been packing it up. Is that really a problem?"
"Tell her Willow and Tara have been staying there too," Dawn demanded.
"Yeah, they have, they've been gone for the last week to grieve in private," he agreed. "We're all very concerned about Dawn's welfare."
"Yes, but who's her guardian?" she asked.
"Um, that's a tough question," he said, thinking fast to come up with an acceptable lie. "See, Dawn's actually my fiancee. We've agreed to wait until she's older, but we're officially together." He looked down at Dawn, who was looking stunned, giving her a smile. "We were going to wait until she had finished college to do anything about it, mostly because of her sister, but now this has become more of an issue and we're reconsidering how long to leave her free." He looked at the older woman again. "I still want to wait, give her a chance to learn about life before chaining her to my side."
"That's a beautiful sentiment. How much of an age difference is there?" the social worker asked.
"About six years," Dawn told her. "That's the other reason my sister didn't really agree to our relationship. She was one of his friends."
"I see." She looked around the room. "Does she stay over?"
"Sometimes, but we're not sexually active," Xander said quickly. "That's another thing I want her to discover without having to chain her to my side." Mrs. Gwenis gave him a disbelieving look. "You can't tell me that you don't remember every moment of your first time and that you judged your husband or wife by the standard set then."
"No, I can't tell that lie," Mrs. Gwenis agreed. She looked around the warehouse again. "Where does she sleep when she's here?"
"Downstairs," Dawn told her, going to open the trap door into the bunker. "I can't sleep with a lot of noise or light so Xander was good enough to build me a special room for when I need to get away." She walked down, frowning at Spike. "SPIKE!" she yelled, waking him up. "I've been looking for you for *days*!"
"What?" Spike asked, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Little bit, what's going on?" He looked at the stranger.
"This is the social worker that discovered Willow and Tara haven't been home in a week and that I was living alone," she told him. "She wanted to come and grill my fiancee." She looked at the older woman. "Spike's my present honey. He and Xander had a *long* talk about how Spike was to treat me. Xander's very gentle with me."
She looked Spike over. "You do seem to prefer older men," she said dryly.
"You don't know the half of it," Spike grumbled.
"I know that slightly older men have more to teach me about life, but I don't go for really older men," Dawn told her. "Spike's been a very tender lover and he's very careful with me. Never even lets me go out after dark alone."
"Too damn right," Spike told her, glaring at her actually. "Is she in trouble?"
"No, we thought it was rather strange that a young girl was left so alone after such a terrible occurrence," Mrs. Gwenis told him. "You're really her boyfriend?" Spike nodded, and she looked around the room. "This is rather cozy, not at all like a cave or a cell."
"There's a latch behind you on the wall," Spike told her. "It overrides the one upstairs when the lock's thrown."
Mrs. Gwenis turned to look at the simple handle, examining the plastic-coated sheet of instructions beside it. "All right, I can accept this as being legitimate." She looked at Dawn. "Will you be comfortable staying here until those other two women or your other guardian gets back?"
Dawn nodded. "Definitely. I've done it before." She walked over and sat on Spike's lap. "He'll make sure I'm good, just as well as Xander does."
"Good," she said, nodding as she looked around again. "I'll make a note that you're being taken care of, you were packing up the house." She looked up. "Are those stairs safe?"
"Have been for over a year," Spike told her. She nodded and went up, and he turned to look at the young girl. "What's going on?" he asked quietly.
"I got tagged for living at the house alone because I'm a minor. Xander told her all about how we're really together but we're waiting until I'm older and more experienced in life." She looked up, knowing the woman was still around, she hadn't heard the door close yet.
"Ah." Spike pushed her off his lap. "Good. Night."
"Night, Spike," she said, hopping up the stairs.
Xander looked at the social worker as she reappeared. "Good enough?" he asked.
"Very good job," she agreed. She pointed at his chin. "You might want to get a little cleaner."
He wiped at his chin, coming off with a few pieces of hair. "We agreed that I shouldn't have to wait either," he told her. "Dawn fully agreed that I should be able to take a lover until we were together. After all, I'm young too and there's a lot I've got to learn still."
Mrs. Gwenis nodded slowly, looking around again. "I would appreciate it if the girl stayed here until other adults get back." He shrugged. "You won't let her?"
"I don't care if she does, but I'm in construction and I work some pretty long hours. She's still going to end up alone through most of the early evening."
Mrs. Gwenis frowned. "I had no idea."
"She's nearly eighteen, is this really that big of a problem? There are kids that have eight-year- olds by her age."
"We know. You've done a very good job of helping her come to terms with the adult life, but I was worried about that also."
"She's been on the pill since she was fifteen," Xander told her. "And I insist that she takes them regularly. And Spike's infertile anyway," he added for good measure. "Fixed."
"If you're sure," she sighed. "No, it's not that much of an issue normally, but where she's lost her mother in the last few years, and then her sister died in that horrible accident, we do have to worry about her mental state."
"Dawn's very wrapped in wool. She's not only got me and Spike, but my friends and the other friends her sister had. We've got that part handled too."
"Good," she said, smiling more. "Then I'll leave you to it. We'll expect her to go back to school soon and start moving back into a normal routine." She let herself out.
"Why haven't you been going to school?" Xander called down.
"Because my teacher tried to punch me the other day and I nearly took his head off," Dawn said as she came up out of the bunker. She closed the door for Spike and faced off with her friend. "Thanks, Xander."
"No big, but you're going back to school. If we have to, I'll go talk to the teacher too."
"He's this big, nasty looking, biker stereotype sorta guy," she warned.
"Yeah, I remember him. I can handle him." He patted her on the head. "Go watch TV or something, I'm presently indulging my oral side." He grinned and ran up the stairs, going to jump on whomever was in his bed now. He found Strife and Cupid curled up together, and checked quickly for Bliss, then hopped onto the bed and slid as much of Strife's cock down his throat as he could.
"Oh, wow, you're happy," Cupid said, leering at his lover. "Good?"
"Yeah, but he needs more incentive," Strife groaned, holding Xander's head down as he started to pump. "'Dite was right, he's way hot today."
Cupid chuckled as he grabbed the tube of lubricant and slicked himself down, checking Xander afterwards. Yeah, he was still good from earlier. He slid into the wet hole, making the young mortal groan around the hard cock, then Cupid got to watch Strife come hard. "Better?" he asked.
"More than," Strife panted. "What's up with the Dawny?"
"She nearly got put into foster care," Dawn called up from the lounge area. "They found her living in the house alone."
"Ah, man," Strife called back. He got up and leaned on the railing. "You okay, kid?"
"Great," she said, giving him a bright smile. "Xander told the social worker we were engaged and that he was taking care of me by letting me experience life."
"Way to go," Strife said in appreciation, looking back at his lover. Who was nearly out of his mind from what Cupid was doing to him. "Good technique, gotta remember that," Strife sighed, watching as they finished up, again.
Xander reached up to Strife, pulling him back down onto the bed. He was nothing if not a willing participant in his own debauchery. And he loved it.
Giles glared as Dawn walked into the Magic Shop, pulling her into the office and slamming the door. "What was that call about?"
"It's been handled," she told him, staying calm. "Someone narked that you guys weren't staying in the house right now and we got caught. So I took her to Xander, who told her we were engaged and he's letting me experience life for a while longer." The frown got monumental and the crease in his forehead approached geologic. "It worked. I didn't end up in foster care and you didn't end up in jail for leaving a minor in that house alone."
He shook himself as he pulled her in for a hug. "I'm sorry, Dawn, but I couldn't bring myself to stay there for a while. I'll try to come over tonight."
"I'm going to be with Spike tonight," she told him. He pushed her back some. "Besides, shouldn't you face the house's memories alone?"
"No, I shouldn't. I'll start drinking again and that's not healthy for any of us." He glanced around the office. "What did Spike have in mind for you tonight?"
"A little shopping at the adult bookstore," she said honestly. Everyone around her knew that she wanted to take Dr. Ruth's place in life and they supported her in the more strenuous research she did in her free hours. "They've got my positions book and the new sex magic book in."
"I see. What about after that?"
"I was going to grill Cupid until he glared at me and then beg his mother to give me some more information."
"Ah, I see. Are you sure you won't come home tonight?"
"I can't face the house alone either," she told him. "Not while Buffy's stuff is still lying there waiting on her."
"She's not coming back this time, Dawn. I've forbidden Willow to try. Buffy deserves her afterlife."
"I know," she sighed, getting free and hopping up to sit on his desk. "Everything seems to be waiting on her though, like it's looking at me asking where she is." She looked at her hands. "I had to pack away Mr. Gordo a few nights ago because I could feel him staring at me through the walls."
"I can understand that," he said, pulling her back into his arms, ignoring the fact that stuffed pigs couldn't stare. "We all miss her. I promise, we'll pack her things together on Sunday, all right?" She nodded but didn't look at him. "I would like to spend some time with you tonight. Can you put off your long discussions?"
"I can try," she admitted. "I was gonna jump them when they showed up." She looked up at him. "You're not mad that I made Xander tell her that?"
"No, I'm not mad. It just proves to me that Xander has a fantastic imagination. What else did he tell her?"
"That we were waiting on everything until I had experienced some life, that we both had lovers outside of us so we could both get some more experience. He even made a valid point to the lady about first times being remembered so he didn't want to be my first." Giles frowned at that. "Oh, and that Spike was my boyfriend. He was sleeping in the bunker again."
"He feels your sister's loss as greatly as you do," Giles reminded her.
"Yeah, but he didn't object too much," she said with a weak smile. "He was half asleep but he didn't object at all. He even waited to yell at me until today."
"Good," he said, giving her a stronger smile. "Will you come home with me tonight?"
"Sure," she agreed. "I'll go home and we'll fight the staring house together." She slid off the desk. "What's my job today, boss?"
"Go run the register, I have to do some ordering. We've got a custom order coming in soon also."
"Okay," she agreed, heading out to man the register, kicking the part-time help back into the shelves to go dust.
Xander sighed as he had to stop doing what he liked, again, due to the door opening. "I don't exist," he called, and buried his head back into Hephaestus' lap again. He heard someone coming up the stairs, but he didn't care. He was happy. His Hephie was happy. Whoever it was could go blow themselves.
"Xander," Giles groaned, turning away before he had to watch any more of them going at it. "Can we please discuss something for a few moments?"
"In a minute," Hephaestus grunted, starting to work himself harder and harder, coming quickly. He patted the dark hair. "You can come back and do more later," he said with a smile.
"And I can have more later?" Xander asked, wiggling his butt a little. His Godly lover nodded, looking very happy. "Okay." He got up and grabbed his bathrobe, Aphrodite had broken him of wearing clothes at home a long time ago but he still couldn't run around naked in front of Giles, and wiped his mouth off as he walked out to go talk to Giles. "What's up?" he asked. "And next time, call," he pleaded.
"I shall," Giles said, forcing himself to not look over the boy's hard body. "We must make some arrangements about Dawn, just in case." He coughed and nodded at the gaping robe. "Maybe you should take care of that first. I'll go wait in the lounge area." He walked down the stairs, trying not to look like he was hurrying. Xander joined him a few minutes later, this time in a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt. "Thank you. I had no intention of intruding on your sex life, Xander."
"I know, but no one knocks anymore," he said, flopping down into one of the comfortable chairs. "So, what's up with Dawn? Besides the thing with her teacher."
"I've dealt with that," Giles said as he sat down across from him. "We need to figure out how to protect her if something should happen to the rest of us."
"Is there something Hellmouthy coming up?" he asked, starting to worry. If there was, they were all screwed, he wasn't going to let his friends fight alone. "What can I do to help?"
"No, nothing like that thankfully, but we have to figure out what to do when ..." He looked at his hands. "Xander, I don't want to stay here anymore."
"It hurts," Xander said calmly. "I can understand that." He shifted, putting his legs over the arm of the chair. "What did you want me to do? Are you leaving now?"
"No, but I have the feeling that I won't be here forever. I may not make it much past her graduating." He cleared his throat. "I do worry about her, Xander, she's so very vulnerable." He looked at the young man. "If it comes down to it, would you make your lie a reality?"
"To protect Dawn, sure," he agreed quickly. "We wouldn't be together but I'd gladly let her live here and pretend to be engaged to her. It's not like I don't know more about what she's doing than most of you anyway."
"Yes, there is that also," Giles said, frowning up at the bedroom. "Even if it meant that you had to make it a more permanent relationship?"
"Why?" he asked, looking confused.
"Because I'm old fashioned," Giles said, glaring at him. "I don't believe that you should be living together without that sort of bond."
"But we won't be *together*," Xander told him. "I won't do anything with Dawn, she's like my little sister."
"I know," Giles sighed, leaning back on the couch. "I'm more concerned about her making it through her education and getting free of this town. She'll need a stable, adult reference point around her to help her get through all that and move on. Which means you'll have to be the adult and parent for her."
"And I'm all for that," Xander agreed. "What do you really want here, Giles?"
"I need Dawn to be protected. I need you to agree to take over the care of her if you need to, if circumstances demand it." He looked up at the loft again. "That would change your life quite a lot."
"Not really," Xander said dryly. "I'm not giving up my life for anyone, not even Dawn, not that she'd demand it of me. She'd probably love to live with Cupid full time."
"Yes, I've had a few nightmares about that issue."
Aphrodite appeared in a shower of flower petals. "Chill, dude," she sighed. "We wouldn't harm Dawn. Help her on her way to her goal, but we'd never debauch her like we do our Xander." She smiled at him. "But yeah, if we have to, we'll just add her to the family." She shrugged and sat down in Xander's lap. "Dawn's a good little girl. We wouldn't let her into any of the holy orgies until she's at least eighteen." Giles looked distressed. "And besides, Dawny's already very knowledgeable. She knows what we do." She ran a hand down her chosen mortal's stomach. "We'll take very good care of her. I'll even make sure that Cupid completes her education for her."
Giles forced himself to relax. "I see." He glanced around the warehouse. "It would still involve some arrangement of your lifestyle." She shook her head. "Surely you wouldn't have sex in front of her."
"Dawn's even better at walking in while we're going at it than you are," Xander told him. "She's seen it all before."
"I'd have liked not to have known that," Giles told him. "Xander, I'm sure you don't realize what I'm asking of you."
"Oh, I do," Xander argued. "I understand, but it's not that much of an impact. She's over here most of the time anyway. She's seen us going at it before, even asked Cupid if she could play with his feathers. She's not a helpless little kid, I promise, she's a very mature young woman."
"Yes, but she still needs protected from certain things."
"Maybe you and she should talk about what she knows and does," Aphrodite suggested. "She's got a lot more going on than you think, Rupert. Dawny is not the innocent little creature you'd like to see her as."
"Yes, but as I see her like my own daughter, I'd prefer to keep that illusion," he said coolly.
She shrugged. "Your bag, Rupes. Just trying to tell you like it is. We'll all take care of her for you."
He sighed. "Thank you." He stood up. "I'll be leaving for a short vacation next week."
"And you're coming back?" Xander asked.
"I plan on it," Giles told him. "But I'd rather that someone was warned about my mental state before I left, just in case I can't bring myself to get back on that plane." Xander nodded. "Thank you. Will you be bringing her here?"
"Probably," Xander told him. "I've got enough money saved to go buy another bed and set her up a small bedroom down on the bottom floor."
"Thank you, Xander. I knew I could count on you." He smiled at them. "I'll leave you alone now." He walked out, blocking out the image of Xander's fingers sliding under Aphrodite's skirt.
Xander looked at his girl. "So, what's the big?"
"Felt you getting pissed at him," she said, removing the fingers. "I'm going to go finish the prep work for the next holy orgy." She gave him a deep kiss and disappeared before he could jump her and make her forget her duties.
"Shoot," Xander said, getting up and stripping as he walked up to his bedroom. "'Dite said she's busy," he said, lying down on the bed on his stomach.
"I can always watch you eat her out later," Hephaestus said, sliding a slick finger down his crack. "You still want this?"
Xander gave him a lusty look. "I *always* want you, Hephie. Only 'Dite wants you more than I do."
Hephaestus laughed and started to prepare his lover. "One of these days, we'll have to get out of bed and do this."
"You mean like against a wall?" Xander asked, getting harder.
"Maybe," Hephaestus said, smiling at the wantonness of his lover. He loved the fact that Xander was so eager to have a go at him however, but it looked like they had run into a new kink. "You facing the wall? Maybe naked?" Xander started to pant. "Me walking up behind you and kicking your legs apart, sliding myself into your well-used hole." His finger went down to check on said hole, just to make sure. "Me pushing myself in as deep as I can go, squishing you into the wall." He didn't get any farther, Xander clamped their mouths together as he climbed on top and rode him until they both screamed.
"Yes, please," Xander whispered once he had come down and was lying on his lover's chest.
Hephaestus smiled and stroked over the sweaty back. "We'll see," he told the young man. They had time to try every position there was, he was sure they'd get around to that one too.
Xander came out of his daydreaming as someone sat down next to him at the picnic table. "Hey," he said as he took a bite of his sandwich.
"No, just daydreaming," he told the older man.
"'Bout your woman?" he sneered.
"Yup. I miss her whenever I'm not home." He finished off his lunch and balled up the paper bag. "She's taught me a lot since we've been together." He stood up and went to throw away his trash, coming back and sitting down. "I do love her."
"Ahh, how cute," the foreman said as he sat down across from them. "Tell me, Harris, how do you keep a woman like that."
Xander gave him a long look. "Easy," he said, giving him a grin, "eight inches and a lot of talent." He stood up and went to grab his tools. He needed to sharpen his chisel again, it was getting hard to do the detail work he was supposed to be doing.
The foreman looked at the other guy and laughed. "If he says so."
"Hey, I wouldn't mind being with his woman. She's a knockout." He looked inside his lunch bag. "Who's that guy that comes to bring him lunch sometimes?" The foreman shrugged. "Hey, Harris, who's that guy that shows up here?"
Xander turned to look at him. "Guys, I've got one of *both* kinds. I'm *necessary*." He went back to sharpening his chisel. Digging out the stupid designs that the homeowner wanted was killing his wrists, but he would get a long wrist rub later. And maybe even a long soak with Cupid or Hephie. "Why?"
"I want to know how you keep them satisfied," the foreman said.
Xander came back and sat down at the table. "Easy, I found that my oral fixation wasn't just because of my wisdom teeth coming in." He grinned. "You'd be surprised what happens when you spend most of one day buried between your woman's thighs. They tend to like that." He looked at the other guy. "The only time I don't get any is when she's too tired and worn out. She doesn't start complaining until about six times though, but by then I'm ready for the more physical stuff. I get plenty." He stood up. "Anything else you wanted to know about my sex life?"
"Prove it," the foreman snorted.
Xander sent a mental call out to any of his lovers, explaining what was going on. Strife appeared down the street and calmly walked up to the site, swinging a bag. "Gee, I think I can do that," he said, grinning at his friend. He loved 'Dite and Hephie, but he and Strife were really close friends. It was good to have someone to get into trouble with. He took the bag and gave the God of Mischief a deep, sucking kiss, pinning him against someone's truck during it.
Everyone stared, unable even to blink.
"Gee, and I only brought you chocolate and a coke," Strife said once he could breathe. "I shoulda thrown in a granola bar too." He stole a quick kiss. "I've got to get back to work, the 'rents are not playing nicely today." He tapped the end of Xander's nose. "Feel better?" he asked quietly.
"Very, I just wanted them off my case."
"Good deal," Strife said, then he walked away, fading out as soon as he was out of sight.
Xander came back to the table to eat his dessert. His real lunch had been the kiss. He opened his soda and took a sip, wiping off his throat. For some reason he always sweated around his throat whenever he and Strife kissed. It was an odd effect. He smiled when everyone continued to watch him. "What?" he asked innocently. "He brought me dessert." He took out the small container of chocolate pudding and dug into it with his finger; his lover had forgotten a spoon, but that was okay too.
The foreman stared at him. "How did you *do* that?" he asked.
"Easy, she taught me *lots* of stuff," he said between bites. "I'm a very fast learner with her. Lots of good incentives and all that."
The other guys laughed and started to clean up. It was almost time to get back to work. Xander finished his pudding and went back to sharpening his chisel for the work he hated.
Aphrodite was waiting on him when he walked in the door. "Problems with earlier?" he asked hesitantly.
She waved a hand. "Not at all. Strife won the coin toss." She grinned and gave him a kiss. "We've got even worse news for you."
"Getting mugged by Strife isn't *bad* news," he told her.
"I meant other than your job's going to be ending in another three weeks."
"That I knew," he admitted, leading the way up to the lounge area. "What's up, 'Dite. Am I in trouble?"
"No, but Dawny is." He jumped up. "Relax, studly, we've handled it. She got into trouble at school. The teacher didn't like her answers on the biology test so he tried to turn her in to the Counselor's again. She told him off and nearly got expelled. She told them all that she was studying to be Dr. Ruth and they got even more upset."
"Because she's not eighteen yet," 'Dite reminded him. "She's not supposed to know anything like that."
"And this affects us how? Besides the fact that the Social Worker will be coming back."
"No, she won't," 'Dite sighed. "Willow majorly lost it when they called the store and went down there to tear them a few new assholes. She won by the way."
"Then what's the bad news?"
"Dawn's going to have to come to you. You're going to have to live the story you told."
"Hey, I was more than willing to build her a bedroom of her own anyway," Xander reminded her. "All I need to know is where to put it."
"Good," Aphrodite said, giving him a light hug. "She'll be moving in tonight. I thought about that really nice corner against the outside wall, behind the weight set?"
"That's where I was thinking too," he admitted. "We could build a really big room in that unused corner." He looked that way. "Yeah, a nice section of her own." He looked at his lover again. "So, what's the bad?"
"Um, well, they expected you to be more ...personal with her." She wrinkled her nose. "Willow agreed with the story, telling them that you were all supporting her in her ambitions and that the teachers could blow because she had a fiancee who was very tight in with her. So they're expecting to talk to you next." She handed over a paper. "Here, that's the time tomorrow that you have to go talk to them and it has to look like you're with Dawny."
"Also cool, so what's the bad?"
"Xander, this is going to change things."
"Why? She's walked in on us before."
"Not *us*," she said, smacking him on the back of the head. "For you and Dawny. They're going to be watching you. You're going to have to act the part all the time now."
"Okay, and the bad is?" he asked again. "I can act like I'm with her. That's not a big, I've done it before. We hug each other."
"And kiss," 'Dite pointed out.
"And kiss," he agreed with a shrug. "I can do that."
"Good." She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Dawny'll be moving in tonight. Oh, and on her birthday, she wants to dedicate herself to me and Cupie."
"Very cool," he agreed. "You're not leaving me, right?"
She laughed. "No, sweetie, we're not leaving you. You're still our favorite mortal." She tickled him lightly. "Don't worry about that. We thought you might be weirded out by sharing us with her."
"Why? I realize I share you two with a lot of people. People who worship you in a much less personal manner, and some that are just as close to you as I am. I made myself sit down and accept the fact that Dawn was probably going to be one of yours someday and that you two might be doing the nasty with her too. That's all good to me as long as you don't have us in the same bed."
"Nope, wouldn't do that to you," Cupid said as he appeared. He grinned down at the mortal. "So, you don't mind?"
"Nope, not at all. I'm realistic here. And you're a good influence on Dawn. I do ask that I don't taste her on you," he said dryly. "That would be just a bit much."
"No prob," Cupid agreed. "I always thought that was tacky." He smiled at his mother. "Did you tell him the other news?"
"Nope, not yet."
"Wow. Dude, dad's going to name Strife his second in command." Xander's face fell. "What? That's good news."
"I won't get to see more of him," he pouted.
Cupid snorted. "I'm sure you'll be seeing plenty of Strife, especially when Dawn dedicates herself. I plan on doing a lot of her teaching myself." That got a small smile. "Maybe she'll even take to it like you did."
"Maybe," Xander agreed, giving him a light smile. "So, any other news?" Cupid shook his head. "Wanna go soak with me? My wrists ache."
"Sure. Let me go get Bliss settled in for the night with Pop and we'll be right back." He and his mother disappeared, landing in his temple. "Did you tell him that you wanted to help him find a better job?"
"Not yet," she told him. "I'm not sure that porn star is what he wants."
"Not that one," he said, rolling his eyes. "Working on the new book you're putting out."
"Oh, that," she agreed, smiling at her son. "Yeah, I'll give that to him if he wants. He can model the positions for the people drawing it and give first hand advice on each one."
"Cool. Can I be in it?" She nodded. "And Strife?"
"Honey, there's some six-people positions. I'm sure we'll get you all into some of them." She patted him on the face. "Go soak with him. Strife said he was aching earlier."
"Coolness." He went to settle his son down for the rest of the night. He enjoyed the hell out of getting to soak with their chosen mortal. By the time he reappeared on the mortal plane, Xander had already taken a shower and was starting to run water into the bathtub that had been his present to the house. Marble, big enough to fit all five of them having sex at once, and perpetually warm. He created a few soft pillows for himself and laid down in the growing water, patting his lap so Xander would join him. The boy didn't hesitate to climb right on him and ride him while they waited on the bath to get higher.
Aphrodite looked at the area Xander had said Dawn could have, considering it. First, she painted and made a few new walls to separate out the areas, and one half-wall so she could have a sitting area to study in beside her bedroom. She changed her mind about the color of the paint, making it a nice neutral blue color. Dawn could do whatever she wanted over top of it. She turned and created an external wall and a door, giving the poor girl some privacy from all the guys that wandered through here. Then she concentrated on the furnishings; Dawn would need something so totally different from home that it wouldn't upset her. For her princess, she created a fairytale room. An oak canopy king-sized bed, complete with the softest cotton sheets she could create. Matching dresser, wardrobe, and vanity set. Out in the sitting area, a sinfully soft couch, a chair with a footrest, and a desk that stretched across the half-wall. Everything the little girl could need. She created more lights in the area, lightening it up. And then the piece-de-resistance. In the wardrobe, she left Dawn a bunch of clothes to try out; some things for school, some things to go party in, and a few things that were just fun. She wrinkled her nose and waved a hand, putting a top of the line laptop on the desk. Now Dawn would have everything she needed. She looked around the areas again, adjusting the colors a little bit to make it look more cheerful. She nodded her appreciation then disappeared. There was almost an hour before Dawny would get there.
Xander looked up as Dawn trudged up the stairs, giving her a smile and a wave at the chair. "Sit, let's set down a few rules." The girl flopped down, giving him a sullen look. "I know you don't want to be here, but it could be worse. Foster care would be worse."
Dawn sighed, "I know."
"Good. The rules are: you will go to school and pretend that everything's normal, you will not invite friends over - especially without warning - so there will be no parties, and you will go work at the Magic Box every day."
"Really?" she asked, looking a little happier.
"Really. Oh, and one more. You will tell me where you are at all times or I will have Spike start stalking you."
She nodded. "I can do that. Is that new room mine?"
"Yup, all yours. You get to use the bathroom, just lock it if you're in there so I don't accidentally walk in on you."
"I can do that," she agreed, looking around. "What about TV rights?"
"There'll be one downstairs by the time you get down there," Cupid said as he appeared under her, giving her a hug. "Mom's got everything all done for you, and it'll be okay."
"I can still dedicate myself?" she asked.
"Sure," he said happily. "I'll even give you what you wanted for your birthday."
"Yeah, what did you want for your birthday? You never told me," Xander reminded her.
"I wanted my education to become more personal," she said, giving him a smile. "Cupid agreed."
Xander nodded. "Sounds okay to me. Just don't keep me up with it."
She giggled. "I'll try," Dawn agreed. "Cupid, do I *have* to stay here?"
"Just until Giles gets back," he told her, giving her a squeeze. "I talked to the Social Worker personally, right after she went off on the teacher too." He looked at Xander. "One of the questions on her biology test was 'what sexual position is the best for conception in humans?' Dawny here answered on all fours."
"It's how animals do it and they have a much higher conception rate," she agreed. "He said it was missionary because it was the right way. So I reminded him that people had been conceiving a whole lot before the missionaries came and screwed with the natural order, which was on all fours. He's trying to have me expelled."
"There's always high school through the mail," Xander said philosophically. "It'll be okay."
"Cool. Can I go out tonight?" He laughed. "Oh, come on."
"No, you can go over to the Magic Box and spend some time working. No partying while we're being watched by the Authority woman."
"Okay," she sighed. She looked at Cupid. "Want to come help me do the inventory?"
"Nah," he said, tickling her lightly. "Inventory is *boring*."
She squealed and wiggled on his lap. "Cupid!"
Xander snickered and got up, heading down to the kitchen. "I'm going to make a snack. Come down and fix yourself something when you get done." He ignored the squeaky noises his charge was making. It was all good to him.
Aphrodite appeared on the bed beside Xander, stroking over his stomach. "Hey, babe, can we talk?" He put down his book and rolled into her to cuddle. "What did you have planned for while you were off?"
"Giles said I could come work for him if I wanted, but I'm not real thrilled with that idea."
"Why not? Willow and Tara are working there."
"I know, that's why I'm not thrilled." He looked up at her. "We've grown so far apart. It's like she's scared to look at me now."
"That's because she feels guilty for not helping you when you needed it," Aphrodite reminded him, giving him a squeeze. "You really should sit down and talk to her."
"Did you have something else you wanted me to do?" he asked hopefully. He didn't want to work in the store, even if it wasn't for Willow being there.
"Well, yeah, but there's nothing that should come in the way of your friendship."
"But she's freaked because of what I am now, what I do with you and Hephie, and Strife." He nuzzled her chest with his cheek. "She doesn't understand how I can love all of you like I do. She actually told me it was an infatuation."
"Uh-huh, but you can't hold that against her. So she doesn't know, that's nothing unusual. There's plenty of people who wouldn't understand what you mean to us, Xander." She kissed the top of his head. "Anyway, I need someone to model positions for my new teaching manual for the new priestesses and priests. It'd mean that you'd spend about six weeks getting screwed, but I didn't think you'd mind."
He squealed like a little girl and gave her the best hug and kiss. "Of course I'll do it," he said happily.
"Hey, noise levels," Dawn called up the stairs. "You said I couldn't make that sorta noise."
Spike's voice floated up. "They make more'n that," he grumped. "Should hear them when it's all five'a them. Loud isn't the word for it."
"He's going to be doing the modeling for my new teaching manual," Aphrodite yelled down. "Go to sleep! Some of you still have school in the morning."
"Shoot," Dawn said, sneaking down into the bunker with Spike. She didn't feel like going to bed yet.
Xander, in appreciation, did what he liked to do best, he went down on her.
Xander looked across the desk at the teacher and the Guidance Counselor, then to his right at the Principal. "So, why the big meeting?" he asked.
"We're worried about Dawn's mental health," the teacher said delicately. "We think she's got delusions and is not on very stable ground. Which is totally understandable with the sort of girl she is."
Xander glared at him. "Yes, she's sweet and nice, that's so very causing of delusions," he said sarcastically. "And for your information, I think she was right and I should complain to the state board of education to have your license revoked for the crap you put on your test."
"It's the right way," he said huffily.
"And I consider your way to be a liability in life," he said calmly. "If I *ever* hear about you pushing your religion on another student, I will make a complaint. Same as if I have to come back down here because you people happen to think there's something wrong with normal relations." He looked at the Principal. "You called me this time, why?" he demanded.
"We found this during a routine locker search," he said, tossing the book onto the desk.
Xander looked at the title and shrugged. "Yeah, and? It's perfectly in line with what she wants to do in life and I would rather have her reading the truth than I would have her relying on idiots," he cast a meaningful glance at the science teacher, "and people who were going to harm her over what she wants to do in life."
"Yes, well," the Guidance Counselor said, clearing his throat, "we think she's a bit young."
"She's seventeen, legal in this state," Xander pointed out. "Even though I know she's a virgin, not that it should matter." He looked at the Principal again. "There's nothing wrong with the girls who have children at the age of eleven in this school, correct?" he asked dryly. The Principal shook his head quickly. "So, Dawn, who is less than a month away from her eighteenth birthday, is having problems because she's gaining information about human sexuality? Even if she might be giving out the correct information to the other students, I'd consider that a good thing. What's your problem with it?"
"All this is a bit much for a girl her age," the Counselor said gently.
Xander laughed. "Yeah, right. You'd be happier if she didn't have any knowledge and got pregnant?" The Counselor looked embarrassed but he didn't refute the accusation. "I see." Xander stood up. "I'll put it this way, gentlemen. Leave Dawn alone. I don't take kindly to people screwing with her mental health. If she wants to replace Doctor Ruth, then by all means I'm going to stand behind her. And if you can't accept that, then I'll gladly withdraw her from this dubious institution and let her finish high school through the mail. After all, I'm sure *everyone* would be much happier if you weren't persecuting her anymore. Because if you do it again, I'm going to get *upset*." All the officials blanched. "Do we understand each other?" The Counselor went a little pink. "Yes? You had something to put in?"
"Have you any idea what sort of affect this information could have on her?" he asked, tapping the Gay Kama Sutra's cover.
"Yup, the same as her gay aunts do. The same as I, who happen to be bi-sexual, have on her. We love her, you're an annoyance who's trying to kill whatever spirit is left in her after her relatives have died. I'd appreciate it if you left her the hell alone for the rest of her senior year." He took the book. "Anything else you confiscated illegally?" he asked, his voice getting colder.
"No," the Principal said. "We gave everything else back. We didn't think letting her have that was politically correct though."
"Why? She's walked in on it before," Xander said dryly. "I think it's a good thing that she's learning about *all* sides of life. If you don't, well that's your brain's problem and thankfully I won't have to deal with it again." He nodded at everyone. "With your permission, I'm going to leave before your lack of reality and fear of gay people contaminate me." He left, heading out to get Dawn from the office, where she had been serving a days in-school suspension due to the locker check. "Come on, we're going home before the homophobic assholes come out," he said, continuing to walk.
Dawn grabbed her things and followed him, smiling at one of her teachers as she passed her in the halls. She climbed into Xander's truck, turning to look at him. "Not go well?"
"Let's see. They're concerned because you want to have information, they're concerned that you had a book about being gay in your locker," he handed it back, "by the way, don't bring that to school again and don't borrow my copy without asking, and they're concerned that you're going to spread the truth so that no one else has to get pregnant or hurt during sex." He started the truck. "How about you finish high school by mail?"
She silently cheered. "If you think it's best," she said carefully. "You want to call Giles and tell him?"
"No, he should be home in a few days," Xander said as he backed out of the parking spot. "We'll discuss it as soon as he's settled in again." He pulled out onto the street. "How did they find the book?"
"Illegal search and seizure. They claimed I had illegal material and pulled me out of class." She shifted uncomfortably. "Before I called you, I called Willow and she's calling a lawyer," she said quietly.
Xander groaned but he kept his eyes on the road. "It's all right, we'll deal with it." He reached over and patted her on the head. "It'll be okay, Dawn, I promise. If worse comes to worse, we'll get closer to the pretending angle."
"Thanks, Xander. I knew I could count on you," she said, leaning into his touch. "Can we stop and get something to eat? The caf today had some of the *grossest* slop again."
"Sure," Xander agreed, pulling into the closest fast food place. "Get whatever you want, I've got money."
"It's on me," she said, pulling out her wallet and looking inside. "Never mind, they confiscated my money too."
"They said it was from illegal possession of materials," she said.
Xander handed over his cellphone. "Call Willow, see who this lawyer guy is."
Dawn called the Magic Shop, knowing Willow was supposed to be there all day. "Hey, it's me. Xander just picked me up. He wants to know who you contacted. Because they took my money and tried to confiscate my Gay Kama Sutra."
"That's not mine?" Xander asked as they pulled up to the microphone.
"Nope, mine. It's part of the set that Spike bought me the other day."
"Welcome to Wendys," the female voice said, waving a little bit. "May I take your order?"
"One number two," Xander said, "the largest size you've got, with coke. Dawn?"
"The big chicken sandwich thing," she said, listening to the voice on the other end. "Oh, and Willow wants something with cheese and bacon if you're being really nice and buying."
Xander grunted. "And that special sandwich with chicken, cheese, and bacon."
"We don't usually put bacon it," the voice said.
"Yeah, I know, but she's a woman," he said dryly. "It's a *craving*."
The cashier snorted. "Yes, sir. Please pull around, your total is nine-eighty-seven."
Xander started for the drive-thru window, pulling out his wallet to pay the nice woman. "Sorry about that," he said, giving her a winning smile, "it's been a *long* day and I've had to deal with *men* all day."
The cashier took the ten dollar bill with a smile. "Yes, sir, I know exactly how you feel." She gave him the change and went to get his food.
Xander looked up as Strife landed on the couch beside him, leaning into his honey's side. "Hey. I hear congrats are in order." Strife pulled him into his lap and gave him a hug. "Thanks. It's been one of those days, you know?"
"I know," Strife said quietly. "Want me to go bug your boss?"
"Nah, he's been pretty good recently, even let me off early to go deal with Dawn's teacher today."
"But he fired ya," Strife protested.
"Nope, my job was ending in another two days anyway. He just gave me them off. Said he figured I'd need it to deal with Dawn."
"That's not what his mind said," Strife said carefully.
"Yup, I kinda figured that much too," Xander said, giving him a weak smile. "Think he'll take me back when the workload picks up again?"
"Maybe," Strife agreed, but he wasn't personally holding out any hope for it. Xander's boss didn't like the fact that Xander had at least two very hot looking lovers and he had one wife that had let herself to go pot, especially since Xander wouldn't introduce him so he could try and snag one of said lovers by threatening Xander's job. "Hey, did you hear what 'Dite was going to give you for work?"
Xander looked up and smiled. "And I hope you're going to be in some of them with me," he said quietly, leaning up and stealing a kiss. "I want some of them to be us."
"You'd better believe I'm gonna be in some of them," Strife told him, tickling him, making his friend squeal and wiggle. "I won't let them be just you and Cupie."
"Hephie," Xander gasped.
"Nah, he never does that. Not even when Joxie posed for a few of the drawings. He's *shy*," he said with a grin.
Xander's eyes twinkled as he looked up at his lover, liking the feel of being under the whipcord body. "Maybe I can change that."
"Maybe," Strife agreed. "Hephie does like you lots."
"Yup, he loves me," Xander said proudly. "And I love him. Maybe I can *tempt* him into it."
"You tempt me into all sorts of stuff," Strife said with a leer.
"STRIFE!" floated through the air.
"Shoot. Coming!" he called back. He grinned down at the boy. "Later." He disappeared, leaving Xander alone on the couch, hard and needy.
Xander sighed and reached down to adjust himself, but it felt too good so he continued. He closed his eyes as he started to stroke himself harder, arching up into his hand. He started to pant pretty quickly, it'd been too long, over six hours. He groaned and came as the door downstairs closed. "Go away," he called. "Just twenty more minutes." When he didn't hear anything, he licked off his hands and closed himself back up and stood up, looking downstairs. When he didn't see anyone, he grabbed his knife and started slowly down the stairs, knowing that behind the stairs was the best place to hide. He felt the air move behind his ankle and jumped down the last few stairs, turning to look at the man standing behind the staircase. "Come out or I'm going to kill you," he growled. The man, dressed in black, with a pair of pantyhose over his head, walked out, waving around his big knife, bigger than the one that Xander had. "Leave," he ordered. "You've already set off my alarm system, the police are coming." He hoped he had reset it when he had come in.
"I doubt it," he said, lunging at the younger man.
Xander sidestepped and kicked at the guy's knee, sending him crashing to the floor. "Get out, last warning," he warned. The guy got off the floor and grabbed his knife again, coming at him. "Oh, well." He disarmed the man and had the guy pinned against the staircase before he realized it. "Who are you?" he muttered, tearing the pantyhose as he tried to pull it off. He turned the man around, glaring at him. "Oh, it's *you*," he said, looking the science teacher over. He reached over to his spare keypad and hit the 'police' button, sending out an SOS. He punched the guy, sending him to the floor. The police ran in a few minutes later, and Xander waved at the guy on the floor. He kicked the knife over. "That's his too, and the pantyhose."
The cops picked the guy up and slapped him a few times. "Come on," one said, glaring at him. "What did you want with him?"
"He's defiling an innocent girl! One who should be giving herself to God."
"She will be, she's dedicating herself on her birthday," Xander said. "Just not to *your* God." He looked at the cops, then grabbed the torn pantyhose. "Here, these are his too." He waved as the man was taken away. "Bye, I'm not letting you ever teach another student again." The cops stopped to look at him. "He's a science teacher at the high school. He's been tormenting my fiancé over an answer on a science test that shouldn't have been there. We've got a complaint in to the state board of ed."
The cops grunted and continued to drag the guy out of the warehouse. One came back a few minutes later. "What's really going on?" he asked quietly. "He claims he came to keep you from sacrificing the girl to a heathen God."
Xander snorted. "Heathen God? Like his is any better." He sat down on the third step, looking over at the cop. "On a recent science test, he asked the question 'what position is best for procreation'. When Dawn, my fiancé, answered on all fours he nearly had her expelled. The school did an illegal search and I had to go in because my fiancé, who wants to be the next Doctor Ruth, had a book on gay sex." The cop sighed. "And then they confiscated all the cash on her and told her it was confiscated because they said it was from illegal activities. I threatened that guy's license and he got pissy because we're not of *his* religion."
"If I may ask, which one are you of?" the cop asked.
"I follow multiple Gods. I pray to Aphrodite, to Cupid, to Strife, and to Hephaestus. Dawn prays to Cupid and Aphrodite, and did before we started living together."
"She lives here?" Xander pointed at the separate room. "That's hers?"
"We don't sleep together. I think she should have more experience before we're fully together. You judge every other lover you have by your first one, and I don't want her to feel like she missed out on trying new stuff." He shrugged. "I want her to feel like she's done everything she ever wanted to do, and I'm not going to squash her desire to become the next Doctor Ruth."
"Did you withdraw her from school?"
"We're thinking about it, judging it on what's going on now," Xander admitted. "One of Dawn's other guardians has consulted an attorney and I think this was because of that. Either that or he's a zealot. Take your pick."
The cop nodded. "All right, do you want to press charges?"
Xander shrugged. "How long do I have to decide?"
"Ah." Xander sent a call for advice and clearly heard a 'fry the asshole' in Strife's voice. Then a dark, handsome, strong man showed up. "Hi," he said, smiling at him.
"Who're you?" the cop asked.
"Ares," he said with a smirk. "And I agree, fry the asshole."
Xander shrugged. "Please. I'd like him to be charged."
The cop nodded. "Okay." He left. "By the way, he's screaming about you violating his right of religion," he said from the doorway.
"Let him," Xander said dryly. "I didn't hinder his rights to religion, I just refuse to let him force his views on me." He waited until the cop was gone to look at Ares. "Problems?"
"Nah, but Strife said I had to come, I'd be less violent than Cupid." He grinned and looked the boy over. "Now then, what were you doing?" he asked, leaning on the railing.
"Um, I'm Strife's and Cupid's," Xander said hesitantly. "I don't want to piss you off or anything, but I've got four very demanding lovers, I don't think I could add another one."
Ares laughed, smiling at the boy. "Oh, I like you, kid. You're good. I wasn't going to even ask. I wouldn't get between 'Dite and her sex fix."
"As if," she said as she appeared. "He's not an addiction."
Xander gave her the most pathetic look. "I'm not? How do I addict you then? Just tell me and I'll do it for a few days straight as long as you let me continue to lick you every now and then."
Ares laughed some more and disappeared. She rolled her eyes and leaned over, giving him a kiss. "You're real close, Xander," she admitted. "Really close to being addicting, but I can't give in to it or I'll never get any work done." He grinned, making her shake her head and roll her eyes. "Oh, you, tease."
He stood up. "Does this mean I get punished?" he asked impishly.
She snickered and patted him on the cock. "I don't think it's time for that yet. You're still soft." She watched as he started to get hard almost instantly. "Or I could be wrong." She looked up at him. "Give me twenty to get things in order and I'll let you take another shot at addicting me, 'kay?" He nodded happily. "Okay, go lie on the bed and I'll be back in twenty minutes." She disappeared as soon as he started to run up the stairs.
Xander laid himself out as pleasingly as possible, more than willing to wait. Aphrodite appeared eighteen minutes later and took off her clothes. She climbed onto the bed and braced herself against the wall as she moved up over top of his face. She liked his fixation as much as he did.
Xander looked up as a man appeared next to his bed, where he was lotioning himself down. "Hey," he said, nodding at his equipment. "Photos?"
"Yes," he said, sitting down next to the young man. "I'll be taking some pictures, and some pictures to make drawings from later on. Is that all right? I can promise not to use most of the pictures unless they're really special."
Xander gave him a grin. "Like I care," he snorted. "I don't care if I'm plastered on every page of her training manual. This is a *great* honor, man. I had no idea that it was going to be so great."
"Well, not everything will look like you," the photographer told him. "'Dite said that not every picture could look like you." Xander shrugged. "As long as we're cool. Also, I'm going to be doing a few spot drawings. That's okay too?"
"Very okay," Xander agreed happily. "Want a tour?"
"Sure. I need to pick a few places for some of the more kinky shots."
"Hey, walls and ceilings we've got. And chains downstairs in the bunker. Spike imported them."
"Will he be in this too?" the photographer asked as he looked around the bedroom.
"Nah, he's a vampire, he wouldn't work too well."
"Vampire?" the photographer snorted. "You believe in them?" He walked down the first set of stairs. "Hey, this is a great space," he called.
Xander stood up and walked over to look over the railing. "I know. I got it because it was safer. Oh, speaking of safe, there's a security system. You need to tell me if you want to go outside so I can turn it off."
"All right." The photographer looked around the lounge area then headed down the stairs to the main floor. "What's that room?" he called, pointing.
"That's Dawn's room, it's off limits." Xander hurried down. "We can't go in there at all."
"Okay, man, it's all good to me."
"Oh, look at this one," Xander said, going over to the ring in the wall and turning it, opening the door down to the bunker. "This is Spike's space and my extra bedroom." They walked down together. "Spike, it's me and the photographer. He wanted to look at this area too since you've got the chains."
Spike grunted and flipped them off. "Let me sleep, days are unnatural for my type."
Xander grinned at the photographer. "Spike's a vampire," he said in explanation.
"Oh, really." He walked over and looked down at the sleeping man. "He looks really normal," he said, making the mistake of turning his head. He looked back and came face-to-face with a vamped-out Spike. "Oh, shit," he said, moving backwards and falling onto his butt. "What are you?"
"I'm a vampire, mate, just like the whelp said." He glared at Xander. "You had to wake me up for this?"
"Yup. We might want to take over your hole and take pictures in it," Xander said with a naughty grin. "After all, you've got all the chains."
"Point," Spike agreed, going back into human guise again. "Sorry, mate, but I hate mornings." He flopped backwards and pulled the covers over his head. "Go'way," he called. "I need my beauty sleep."
"Good, go rest in Dawn's room," Xander told him.
"She said I couldn't. Said she's break every bone in my dick."
"You don't have bones in your dick," the photographer noted as he stood up and brushed himself off. He looked at Xander. "You're the strange one, aren't you?"
Xander grinned and nodded, very happy. "Yup, that's me. Strange love slave of 'Dite, Hephie, Cupid, and Strife."
The photographer shook his head. "I have no idea how you keep up with any of them but you're my hero because you obviously do it." He looked at Spike again. "Okay, we might not need this room, but I'll keep it in mind." He hurried up the stairs, letting Xander get the door behind him. "Now where?"
"Well, what first?"
"I'd like to start with the vanilla stuff first," the photographer announced. He turned to look at Xander. "That way, if you chicken out, it's not that far into it and we can still find someone else."
Xander just smiled as he walked past him, patting him on the shoulder. "It's okay if you're delusional about who I am. I think you'll be surprised." He headed up to his bed, sending a lusty prayer to Aphrodite as he climbed on. "Dude, way hot thoughts," Strife said as he appeared, grinning at him. "Ready for me?"
"Always," Xander said, holding up a hand. He spread his legs invitingly, turning up his grin when Strife just stood there. "Not coming?" he pouted.
"We've gotta wait for the guy," Strife sighed. "Otherwise we'll never last."
The photographer hopped up the stairs and smiled at him. "Lord Strife, it's an honor to help you do this." He looked at the young man on the bed. "I figure we'll start vanilla and move up. We'll do each one and switch to the alternate positions off the main one. Is that all right?"
Strife grinned. "Sure, dude, whatever you want. How many?"
"Not more than five orgasms each day," he promised, smiling at Xander. "Is there anything you won't do?"
"Don't know, haven't gotten to try everything yet," Xander said philosophically. He got to his knees. "How vanilla first?"
"Yeah, 'cause if we start off orally, you'll have to pry him off my dick," Strife said dryly. "He's got an oral fixation."
"I like my oral fixation," Xander told him, starting to pout again. "You don't? I can not ever suck you again if you want."
Strife snorted. "Oh, I like it, and you *will* suck me again, today," Strife said, waving away his clothes and sticking his cock into Xander's mouth. "Camera?" he suggested when the cameraman didn't move.
"Oh, yeah," he said, grabbing his camera. He framed just the shot he wanted and then smiled. "All right, let's try it with him on his back." He swallowed hard as Xander pulled Strife down on top of him, not letting go of the cock in his mouth. That's the way the first day went.
Missionary, flip onto the left side, onto the stomach stretched out, onto the right side, legs up on shoulders and on back, both sides. Switch positions.
Doggy style, head up, head down, legs up on top of shoulders and lifted hips off the bed. Switch positions.
Standing up against the wall, stomach to the wall, and spread apart. Turned around and legs wrapped around the waist. Bracing against the dresser and the railing to hold himself up. Come. Small break to get a drink. Photographer stops to go whack off in the bathroom. Switch position.
Sitting on Strife's cock, facing him, facing away from him, Strife sitting up and facing him, Strife sitting up and facing away from him. Come again, panting hard because of the teasing Strife was doing to his cock and balls. Sitting on Strife's cock and leaning backwards, facing up, sitting on Strife's cock, facing the bed. Come again because of the big tease. Cupid shows up and plugs his mouth before the photographer comes over and does it for him, and the set starts over again with the three of them.
Photographer goes to the bathroom and whacks off again, this time getting really loud.
Xander grins up at his lovers. "Gee, guys, I didn't realize this was going to be *fun*," he said. "I thought this was going to be *work*."
Strife fell off the bed, giggling too hard to not roll around. Cupid just rolled his eyes. "Only you, dude," Cupid sighed. "Ready for some more?"
"No," the photographer moaned as he came up the stairs. "We're already a day ahead of schedule. We can break for the day if you want."
"Want? I can go all day," Xander said happily. Everyone looked at him in mild shock. "What?" he asked innocently. "He said I could come five times. It's only been three." He pinched Strife. "You deserved that for tickling my balls."
Cupid shook his head. "Xander, we've been through the first two days worth of positions. Give it a rest already." He lay down on the bed and pulled Xander against him, cuddling him close. "If you want, you can suck me off. I'll even hold off the big tease for ya."
"Cool," Xander breathed as he went down to done his second most favorite thing in the whole world. The first of course was eating Aphrodite until she pulled him from between her legs by his ears.
The photographer pulled out another sketch pad and started to sketch them again. "A different perspective," he told them all. "We can do this set too."
"Cool," Strife said, getting up and starting to tease Xander's hole with his tongue. "This one, right?"
"More," Cupid groaned, holding Xander's head down.
Dawn walked into the warehouse and looked up at the master bedroom. "Xander, you decent?" she called.
"Hardly ever," a strange male voice called back.
"Strife," Xander said, then he came over and looked over the railing at her, artfully covering his nudity with a hanging that was there already. "How was school?"
"Really freaky. The science teacher came back and he got pulled from the class for his rant about 'wrong people', as he called me." She sighed and came up to the lounge area. She sat down then jumped back up, grimacing at the wet spot. "Eww." It got suddenly clean and she sat down again. "Thanks, Strife."
"Not him," Cupid called down, "but you're welcome."
Dawn gave Xander a hopeful look and he nodded, scurrying back to the bed to cover them all up before she could get up there. She ran up the stairs and sat on the bottom of the bed, giving them all smiles. "How did the shooting go?"
"You have *no* idea," Strife sighed.
"That bad?" she asked, giving Xander a pout. "Were you a primadonna?"
"Nope, we got through two days worth of shots," Cupid told her, patting Xander on the stomach. "He was very good today so we gave him a treat."
"Ah, treat. Was that what was on the couch?"
"Nah, that was sitting up on Strife's cock," Xander said happily. "I'm *sore*."
Strife snickered. "Come on, butt boy, let's go get you into a hot bath."
"Butt boy?" Xander asked, sounding mock-hurt. "I hope I'm more than that to you."
"Oh, you are," Strife said, picking Xander up and putting him over his shoulder, with a light slap on the butt. "We're going to bathe. You guys have clean fun." He walked down the stairs, carrying a smiling Xander. When he put him down, he gave Xander a serious look. "You know you're more than a good fuck, right?" he asked seriously.
Xander gave him a hug. "I know. We're bestest buddies and troublemakers." He pulled back, giving his best friend a smile. "Can we go tease the straight guys in the clubs again?"
Strife laughed. "Good, I'm glad you didn't mind."
"Nah, today I was your butt boy," Xander agreed. "And tomorrow and the next day, and hopefully for at least the next week or so." He leaned up a little more. "And I'm going to try and convince Hephie to do some of the more kinky stuff. I think he'd make a great leather daddy for the pictures."
"Oh, you have *no* idea," Strife told him, stroking down the mortal's back. "Come on, into a bath with us. We smell like we've been having it off all day." He waved a hand at the tub and it filled with softly scented bubbles and water. He got in first, drawing Xander with him, and they cuddled.
Upstairs, Cupid was indulging Dawn by listening to her rant about her science teacher. If she had told Xander about what he had said, her 'fiancé' would have went and beaten him senseless and then asked Strife to help make the mortal miserable. Cupid would only plague him so he couldn't sleep with any more of his ninth grade students or masturbate to the dirty pictures of slime demons he kept in his desk at school.
Xander looked up as Hephaestus appeared beside the bed, instantly sitting up and giving him a hug. "Hi, Hephie," he said, giving him a smile and lifting a corner of the sheets. "Are you going to nap with me tonight?"
"Yup. Figured since I couldn't do any of the other stuff, I'd come help you rest for Cupid tomorrow." He changed his clothes to a loose pair of pants and climbed in but his boy pouted. "What?"
"Why the clothes?" Xander asked.
"I thought you might be sore," Hephaestus said with a tolerant smile.
Xander nodded. "I am, but that doesn't mean you have to wear *clothes*. I promise not to jump you if you don't want me to." His lover laughed and banished his pants so Xander curled up on the massive chest. "I'm comfy," he announced, one hand starting to stroke over the ripped stomach. "Hephie, can I ask you a favor?" His God grunted and shifted so the hand would quit tickling him. "Will you do the really kinky ones with me?" Hephie stiffened. "Not the minor kinky stuff, but maybe some of the leather daddy stuff?" he asked, looking up at him, giving him a hopeful look. "I'd like you to do that part."
Hephaestus groaned. "Xander, I can't do that."
"Why not? You've very dominant when you want to be." He turned up his hopeful look. "Please?"
"Xander, I'd feel really awkward doing those pictures, even with you. I'm ...I'm not into photographs."
"But the guy said that most of them wouldn't look like us." Xander climbed up so he was straddling the warm stomach, leaning down to give his lover a kiss. "Hephie, I know you're shy and all, but no one but the three of us would be here. Just you, and me, and the photographer. No one would even have to know what we did."
Hephaestus sighed, but it sounded like it was in defeat. "I'll think about it," he promised. "Now, since you're sore shouldn't you be lying down and enjoying my big, comfy chest?"
Xander laid down where he was, stretching across the big, strong, comfy body. "I'm comfy again," he told him, grinning into the chest muscles.
"Naughty," Hephie said, stroking over the warm butt cheeks. "You know I won't let you cover all of me. I have to be able to move during the night."
"So move me," Xander suggested impishly.
"But you're *sore*," Hephaestus teased.
"Yay. I'll be more sore tomorrow and it's all good. Even if I have to sleep in the bathtub. No one'll hurt me for being sore." He looked up. "And I bet if I asked, 'Dite would have something for being sore."
"Oh, she does," Hephaestus agreed, testing the loose hole with a finger. "You know, I only do my dominant act for you."
"Really?" Xander looked up at him again. "I like it when you go all dominant and growly on me sometimes. Not every time, but definitely sometimes. It's a good game."
Hephaestus chuckled. "Thank you, Xander, you just reminded me why I like being with you so much."
"Because I'm cute and I'm pushy?"
"That too," Hephaestus said, pushing in two fingers. "How sore are you?"
"I'll live," Xander told him with a slight shrug. "I can whine later and get cuddles."
"Also true," Hephaestus said, rolling them over. "You're sure? I want to bury myself in you but I don't want to make you even more sore than you already are."
Xander grinned. "I love you too, Hephie, but I want this. I missed you today. I only got to play with Cupid and Strife and you all taste different." He reached down to tease the hard cock, bringing his now-damp finger up to lick. "Besides, your taste is one of the ones I crave and I haven't had my fix today."
Hephaestus laughed and indulged his lover, making him even more sore, but they both loved it so it was all good.
Xander looked down from his very small perch on the wall, then up at the chains on his wrists. "We're sure this will hold me?" he asked the photographer.
"Yup, I've seen it happen before. The perch is so that your wrists don't have to take all your weight." He looked over the railing as the outer door opened, frowning at the cop standing there. "Just a minute," he called down, quickly undoing Xander and handing him a bathrobe. "I think you need to deal with this one."
Xander walked down the stairs, looking the officer over. "Is there a problem?"
"Sir, someone reported that you were having an orgy here and city rules prohibit you from having sex-for-money relationships within the city limits."
Xander snickered. "If I was getting paid for having sex, it'd be different." He rubbed one of his wrists. "Sorry, I was doing pictures."
"You're doing *porn*," the guy said dryly.
"No, I'm doing a favor for a friend and modeling for her teaching manual," Xander corrected, sending a 'please come help me' thought to any of the four that might be listening. "Why? And for the record, I have multiple lovers, I'm not running a brothel."
"All right, and the minor that lives with you?" the officer asked, nodding at the bedroom off to the side. "Is that her room?"
"Yes, it is. And no, you can't go in there without a warrant. I have no idea what this is about but you're freaking me badly here and I'd rather this be legal."
The cop nodded. "I can do that, but I'll be coming back with a social worker."
"Mrs. Gwenis, she's the one Dawn got reported to before for not going to school and having to pack up her dead sister's things by herself." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Why are you really here? Which one of assholes that we're being persecuted by did this?"
"Sir, it was an anonymous tip. I don't know who called it in."
"Ah. So you're going to believe someone other than the person who lives here, who's told you about what's really going in and take the word of someone who probably got arrested for coming in here and trying to kill me the other day?"
"We had a break-in by a teacher who wanted to kill him," Ares said as he appeared up in the bedroom. "You have inconvenient timing, kid, we're all in a big family meeting."
Xander looked up. "I'm sorry, but this is getting freak worthy. He wants to search Dawn's room."
"Nope." Ares walked down and looked the cop over. "Not without a warrant. It was nice of you to make the accusation first."
"I just asked a question," the cop said warily. "Do I know you?"
"Nope." Ares read the guy's mind. "Or maybe. Army?"
"Yes, sir, for about five years. How did you know?"
Ares held out his hand. "Ares, God of War. I know everyone in every army, soldier. This happens to be one of my nephew's and son's lovers. No orgies here, for pay or otherwise."
"Not that I haven't tried to convince them of that," Xander muttered. The cop looked at him. "What? I'd like to see both of the couples together too."
Ares snorted. "Never happen, Hephie's shy."
"I know," Xander said, giving him a grin. "He's going to help me though."
"I figured you'd talk him into it." Ares shrugged. "Really, there's nothing going on here. Xander here has a few lovers, but none of them pay him for the privilege. Dawn wants to be the next Doctor Ruth from what I hear, and I doubt it would look good if you went in and searched her room right now."
The cop shrugged. "All right, how do I note this in my report?"
"I'd say the truth. You came and talked to the renter and..."
"I own it," Xander said quietly.
"All right, the owner," Ares said, looking down at him, "and he told you that he had a few lovers but that it wasn't a sex operation. And that you talked about the minor but found that she wasn't involved in any of this."
"Technically, Dawn's three days away from eighteen," Xander told the officer. "She's legal to have sex in this state, though we're not doing it together."
The officer shrugged. "All right. And you say she's got a social worker already?" Xander nodded. "Thank you. I'll put that in my report." He looked at Ares. "And off the record? The guy who did this did sound like someone that we arrested recently."
"I knew it," Xander hissed. "He's trying to do something sick to Dawn, sacrifice her or something." Both older men looked at him. "He kept saying that Dawn should give herself to his God, I don't think he thinks he is God, but I do think he's going to do something bad to her."
"We'll watch out for her," Cupid said as he appeared. "You know I wouldn't let anything happen to her." He wrapped his arms around Xander's waist. "Chill, dude, we'll keep her safe."
"I know," Xander said, relaxing, "but this is getting a bit on the coincidental side, and that side doesn't exist in this town."
"Point," Cupid agreed. "I'll go look the guy over, 'kay?" Xander nodded, turning to hug him hard. "It'll be okay."
"Since I'm not needed," Ares said dryly. He looked at the officer. "You're too calm," he accused.
"Sir, there was a nice older woman named Hera who helped my wife deliver our twins last week. I have no doubt that you are who you say you are." He tipped his hat. "Thank you for straightening this out." He walked out, leaving them alone.
Cupid waved a hand and reset the alarm system. "There, all safe again. You'll go do the picture thingy and I'll go check on the creep and Dawny, okay?" Xander nodded but didn't let him go. "That means I need to be able to fly, dude," he reminded his lover.
Ares pulled Xander off him, letting Cupid escape. "He hates to be clung to."
"My mind just came up with all sorts of bad images of what he could be doing if he's trying to sacrifice her," Xander admitted. "I've got a very good imagination."
Ares laughed lightly. "I figured as much. Go up and rest. I'll take the photographer with me for the day, I doubt you'll be able to work today." He disappeared, and so did the man listening upstairs.
Xander went up and curled up on his couch, trying to make his mind shut down and quit thinking those thoughts. After a few minutes of struggling and not winning, a half of a white pill appeared on the couch beside him on top of a note telling him to take it. He gratefully took the pill and swallowed it dry, starting to feel better just because someone really was looking out for both of them.
Dawn looked up from her ever-getting-grosser lunch and nearly smiled at the guy she could see standing outside. She glanced around and one other girl was staring at him, but that was okay. Cupid had a lot of people praying to him. She stood up and tossed out the unidentifiable food, heading out to the benches outside. So it was windy, yay. She'd get to spend some time with her best friend. "Hey," she said as she walked around to where he was sitting. "Probs?"
"Someone tried to report Xander for running a brothel." He patted the place beside him under the tree. "Come sit. Oh, hey, Melody," he said, giving her a smile. "Dawn, do you know Melody?"
Dawn waved. "Hey. Becoming a priestess?" The other girl blushed and nodded. "Yeah, I'd like that too, I think." She snuggled into Cupid's side. "Make us not seeable?" He snapped his fingers and Melody rushed over, resting against his other side. "Thanks. So?"
"So, we were all in a meeting and Ares pissed off Zeus by answering Xander's frantic plea for help from a better and more dressed person." Dawn snickered at that. "It's not funny, Dawny, this guy's gonna try it again. Xander swears this is becoming too coincidental."
"That doesn't exist in this town," Melody said quietly. She looked over at Dawn. "Can I borrow your Kama Sutra? My mother seems to have misplaced mine when she confiscated it and I wanted to look up a certain position for tonight."
"Sure, it's in my locker. You walk, right?" Melody nodded. "Then we'll head toward town and you can look it up. I've got to work tonight." She looked up at Cupid again. "This is really bad?"
"Mom gave Xander back one of his pills. He couldn't quit thinking about you being sacrificed to this guy's God."
"Oh, man," Dawn sighed. "Oh, crap, Principal."
"Let him wonder," Cupid told her. "I can and will fight for you." He gave her a light squeeze. "Anyway, we thought you might like to be warned."
"Is this the skeezy science teacher?" Melody asked. Cupid nodded. "Wow, there's always been these rumors, you know."
"Rumors?" Cupid asked.
"Every year, one girl disappears on her birthday. Her eighteenth birthday. And he's gone for two or three days, but he always comes back. He's been questioned before but no one ever found anything."
"Are the girls ever found?" Dawn asked.
"One said she escaped when she came back to her parent's house. She said she ran away from the brothel owner he had put her with. But the strange thing was, the him wasn't the science teacher so he didn't really get into trouble. Especially when there were conflicting medical exams." She shrugged. "It's all really strange. It's always girls who act and seem like they know but have a rep for not giving it out for free."
"Hmm," Cupid said, looking down at Dawn. "I want you to be escorted everywhere until I get to you, got it?" he ordered. She nodded, her eyes going wide. "Want to do something before your birthday? I can give you your present before you dedicate yourself."
"I'd feel really weird about that," Dawn admitted. "Like I was fooling around, you know?" Cupid nodded. "But I'll gladly accept being watched over. I have no desire to end up in a brothel in some strange place." She rubbed her cheek on his bare shoulder. "I love you, Cupid, you take very good care of me."
Cupid kissed her on the head. "I try my best, Dawny." He smiled at Melody. "And you, be careful too. You fall into that category too and your birthday's in a few weeks."
"Yes, sir," she agreed. She checked her watch. "Shoot, I'm missing a test. Darn," she said with a smile as she snuggled in too.
"I'll make it all okay," Cupid promised her, cuddling two of his best followers to him and cutting down on the breeze so they wouldn't get so cold.
Xander looked over the railing as Spike's bunker opened. "Hey, we've got to talk," he noted. Spike looked up at him. "Really big probs with the Dawn. The science teacher's trying to sacrifice her to his God."
"What?" Spike snorted. "In this day and age?"
"Yeah, and all my worrying was proven to be true. Cupid talked with another of his followers and she told him about the rumors." He waved the vampire up. "Come on. We've got to protect her."
"All right." Spike went and got a mug of blood, then headed up to the lounge area. "What's really going on? You anxious again?" he asked as he sat down.
"No, 'Dite gave me one of my pills and I'm okay again, the thoughts have stopped swirling through my head. But Cupid has heard rumors about girls who are virgins but who know what's going on sexually disappearing every year on their eighteenth birthday." Spike's hand stopped on it's way to his mouth. "Dawn's birthday is in three days, and we're all watching her."
"I'll watch over her," Spike agreed, finishing his trip to get another drink. "Where is she now?"
"Store. Giles came back today and they're talking."
"All right, I'll deal with it tonight," Spike agreed. "Want me to just follow her and report if she's snatched?"
"Please. I know you can eat the guy, but make him a snack as the last resort, okay? I think the parents of the other girls want to know what happened to their kids."
"Fine by me, I can always torture the git," Spike agreed. "Nearly dark?" he asked.
"About an hour until sundown but it's been cloudy and windy all day," Xander told him. "Dawn probably knows you're coming. You or Strife, I think that Cupid sicced him on her to watch over her too."
"Good enough," Spike said, standing up. He finished off his mug of blood on the way to the kitchen. "Let me shower and I'll go after the little bit." He disappeared into the bathroom, silently praying to Cupid for instructions. A written note appeared on the sink so he picked it up and read it. "Huh," he said, putting it back down and watching as it disappeared. "All right, I'll watch over her for you."
Giles sighed in exasperation as Spike walked into the store. "She's fine, I'm sure this is Xander's mind getting out of hand again."
"It's a big rumor around school," Dawn told him again. "I think it's really nice that they're watching me. I don't really want to be sent to a brothel somewhere strange so I'd like the guarding." She glared at him. "You can always go home alone tonight."
"You going back to the house?" Spike asked him.
"Yeah, I promised I'd come back when he got home," Dawn said with a one-sided shrug. "Not a big. Xander knows."
"All right. I'll be over here." He nodded at a small reading group out of sight of the door and went to sit down so he could watch her work. "Oh, Cupid said that another God was in this, but he wasn't sure which one."
"Dear Gods," Giles said, going into his office. "Xander's brought it down on us again."
"Hey!" Dawn shouted, following him. "This isn't Xander's fault. This guy has been doing this longer than you've been here. Longer than I have too. Willow did a search, there's been disappearances here since the seventies, when he started. I'm not going to play with my safety, Giles, and Xander didn't do anything!"
"No, he just drew them here," Giles said reasonably.
She snorted. "They've been around for a long time, I'm sure they were here before Xander got into his thing with the loud four." She turned and stomped off, going to do her homework. "Spike, come help me write a haiku." He jumped up and followed her into the room set aside for homework.
Giles rubbed his aching head. He didn't need this on the day he got back from a vacation. Maybe he would pop on over to Xander's house and talk to him about this. Surely he could calm Dawn's hysterics a bit. She didn't have anything to worry about.
Xander checked the clock again, staring down at the front door. Dawn finally came in and he ran down to give her a hug. "You're home," he sighed.
"Yup, and you're still naked," Dawn pointed out dryly.
"Sorry, we were doing some of the kinky stuff." He ran back up to his room. "I was worried."
"I know. I made it home and Spike's following me and my friends to the Bronze until Cupid comes for me. Then we'll come back here." She headed for her room, squealing when she saw the presents on her bed. She picked up the smallest one, opening it quickly and letting her mouth drop open at the small pendant lying inside the box. "Killer gift," she called, sure it was Hephaestus' gift to her and everyone was listening to see how she liked them. She opened another one, pulling out a bodice dagger, and tucked it into her bra to make sure it'd be hidden. "Wow. Great gift, Strife," she called. She opened the next one, stunned by the filmy fabric that was sitting in there. She pulled out the outfit and looked at herself in the mirror. "Oh, yeah," she said. "I like this one." She counted the other gifts on the bed. Four? "Xander, which one is yours?" she called.
He walked into her room, looking at the outfit. "Um, change," he ordered. "That's not something that I need to see you in."
She laughed and turned away from him, changing back into her clothes. "There, better?" she asked, turning back around. "I'm done," she said when she saw his back turned. She put the outfit back into the box. "'Dite?"
"No, I know what she got you," Xander said, pointing at the gold and white wrapped package. "Which one was that one?"
"Um," she said as she found the wrapping paper. "Green." She handed it over.
He tucked it into his robe's pocket. Maybe someone would be able to track it somehow. "Open 'Dite's."
She tore into the white and gold box, pulling out a killer outfit, very much more her style and color. "Wow. She made this for me?"
"I think she had someone make it for you," he said with a smile. "Go to the bathroom and try it on, make sure it's all good." He watched her go, then looked at the light blue outfit, shaking his head. He took the box and shoved it under the bed. They'd deal with that later. He stood up when Dawn came back in, her outfit baring most of her but teasingly hiding the important parts. "Wow," he said, swallowing hard. "I think that's a killer gift. Too bad you can't wear that to the Bronze."
"Oh, I can," she said, pulling on the zip-up jacket. She was now covered but still sexy in the outfit. He nodded. "You think?"
"I think you look very tasty and you should be very careful not to spill anything on it," he told her. "Open Cupid's and mine."
She came over and sat beside him, opening the long box left on the bed. "Wow, a leather trench," she said, holding it up. "Spike promised me one of those."
"It's from the both of us but he figured he wouldn't be up when you got here, or by the time you left." He grinned. "It should fit."
"Thanks," she said, standing up and trying it on. "Yeah, it fits really well," she agreed. She took it off and laid it carefully on the bed. "Not for tonight though." She opened the last box and smiled at the small locket in it. "Wow, another one," she said, pulling it out to hold up to the light. "Oh, a belly chain." She wrapped it around her waist, watching as the clasp disappeared. "Yup, Cupid gives great prezzies." She smiled at him. "Cake?"
"Tomorrow. We're doing the whole party thing tomorrow night so you have time alone with Cupid tonight." He kissed her on the cheek. "Go light on your makeup tonight. You don't need it." He stood up and left her alone. "Happy birthday, Dawn," he called from the doorway.
She sighed. It was all so perfect so far. And Spike would be following them to the Bronze as soon as he got up to watch over her. Nothing should mar her night. She went to her vanity and started to work on her hair, trying to figure out how to do it to go with the outfit. Maybe Melody would know, if she wasn't working her spot in the brothel tonight she was supposed to show up for her party too.
All of Dawn's friends had gasped when they saw the outfit without the jacket, so she was extra cool looking tonight and it was all good here on the dance floor. She caught sight of Spike as he walked in, waving at him.
"Who's he?" one of her girlfriends asked, licking her lips.
"That's Spike, he's here to make sure I leave with the *right* person tonight." The other girl giggled. "He's really cool, I'll introduce you if you want."
"He's got that goth paleness going," another girl dismissed. "Not into vampires, sorry."
The first girl pouted. "I don't discriminate as long as they're pretty," she said, winking at Dawn. "So, is he here to make sure that you make it through the night without being snatched?" Dawn nodded, grimacing. "Even better. Introduce us."
Dawn got up and towed her friend over to where Spike was trying to play pool. "Spike, this is Alora. She thinks you're not only cute, but shag-worthy." She pushed her friend into his arms, watching as her friend latched onto his mouth. "Yay, me," she said, "matchmaker extraordinare." She winked at Spike then walked back to her table, sitting down again. "I think they'll be good for each other. He's been lonely."
"Well he won't be now," her other friend said dryly. "Alora's very clingy."
"Ooh, catty, Trisha," Willow said as she walked up to them. "Hi, more guardians for tonight." She looked down the outfit. "Who gave you that?" she asked as she sat down.
"'Dite did. It's a prezzie," she said, getting up and modeling, including taking off the jacket for a minute. "Isn't it cool?"
"Very," Willow said, forcing herself to blink and think of Tara, but not in that outfit. "Wow. Put on the jacket."
Dawn snickered as she sat down, her jacket going back on. "Yes, mom," she teased.
"This is your mom?" Trisha asked. "I thought she died."
"No, this is Willow, she's one of the people watching me until I finish school. Her and her girlfriend are very lenient."
"Want another daughter?" Trisha asked.
Willow patted her on the hand. "No thanks, we've got enough with just Dawn."
"I'm an angel," Dawn protested.
"Yup, you are, but we're still in college," Willow pointed out.
Trisha sighed. "Man, that sucks. I really wanted to hook into the lesbian community to find myself someone good to show me the ropes." Willow looked at her. "I'm figuring if I am or not."
Willow pulled out a pen and wrote down an email address. "It's the president of the local campus' gay organization. She'd know if there was some group for kids your age, or be willing to help you hook up and figure it out when you get up there."
"Cool, thanks," Trisha said, tucking it into her front pocket. "I'll mail her tomorrow. You're way cooler than most parents."
"Yeah, she is," Dawn sighed. "She's been really good about helping me with what I want to do. Got me some great books too."
"Yup," Willow said with a grin. "We've gotten you another one for your birthday party with us tomorrow." She smiled as Tara came over, her girlfriend was still shy around new people. "This is Trisha," she introduced. "She may be like us."
Tara smiled at her. "Just find someone that makes you happy," she advised. "It's worth waiting for." She held Willow's hand. "Want to dance, Dawn? Scandalize everyone by dancing with us?"
"Sure," Dawn said, standing up.
"With the jacket," Willow insisted when Dawn unzipped it again. She caught Tara looking and nudged her lightly. "Come on, I'll ask 'Dite if she'll tell me where she got it. You'd look cute in a blue one," she told her girlfriend as they walked onto the dance floor.
"Killer outfit," Trisha agreed, smiling at her. "If I didn't know you were straight, I'd offer to pop both our cherries."
Dawn leaned over and kissed her. "I'm straight but I still love you." She walked out onto the floor, zipping the jacket up again so no one would see the knife in her bra as she bounced around.
Trisha sighed, touching her lips lightly. "Wow. Still too straight for me." She watched as her best friend got between the couple, making them both pant. "But it's a worthy dream."
Dawn looked up as she felt a pressure in the air, smiling at the blonde man that was walking towards her. She turned to face him, dancing with him now. "Hi," she said happily. "No more meetings?"
"Nah, it's all a formality now. Mom and dad have got it."
Dawn almost stopped dancing. Cupid didn't really call either of his fathers 'dad'. "That's good though, right? Less paperwork means more fun time?"
"Very true," he agreed, wrapping an arm around her. "Why don't we blow and go do this?"
She stepped away from him. "Because you're not the one I'm leaving with," she told him, mentally sending out a call to Cupid. She saw the guy flinch so she sent one out to Strife too, just in case. She looked over as someone started to push their way through the crowded floor to her, then decided hiding was the better thing. She forced her way over to where Tara and Willow were dancing, joining in with them. "That's not Cupid," she said breathlessly, hiding behind Tara.
"It looks like him," Tara told her.
"It's not, he called one of his fathers 'dad'. He wanted to 'blow and go do this'."
"Not Cupid," Willow agreed, sending her own silent plea for help. "Where's Spike?"
"In the bathroom getting some," Dawn said, getting upset. "I pushed her at him. I thought he should have some fun too."
Willow shrugged. "Okay." She took Tara's hand and started the words to a spell to break illusions. At the end, the guy still looked like Cupid. "Maybe we're wrong," she said.
"Willow, we couldn't counter something from a God," Tara said quietly. She sent her own prayer, but to a different source, and felt someone answer. "Maybe we've got help coming," she whispered, putting Dawn in the safety of their arms. "Boys," she said, nodding at them. "We know you're not our friends."
"Don't I look like him?" the blond asked, his dark haired friend nodding behind him, slouching off to one side as he rested, obviously trying to imitate Strife.
"Yeah, but you don't talk like them," Dawn pointed out. "Cupid, I dedicate myself to you, in every need you have let me be your tool. With every tool you need, let me be your user." The blond made a grab for her but she ducked. "With every need you have, let me be the one who soothes it, and take this humble woman into your service to use as you would."
"Dawny, way bad timing," Strife said as he appeared. He looked at the two men who were supposed to be him and Cupid. "Huh. Someone much more powerful than I am did it." He held out a hand. "Cupid's kinda a little busy right now. We're doing the proofs of the photos."
Dawn took his hand, Willow and Tara letting her go once she had his hand. "Thank you, Lord Strife. I have no idea who these two skeezers are but they're trying to stand in the way of my giving myself to Cupid."
"Hey, not a big," Strife told her, giving her a hug. He grinned at the witches. "Later. She'll be at Xander's tonight if we let her come back to this realm." He disappeared, taking Dawn with him.
Willow and Tara kept one hand together as they faced off with the two men. "Leave or die," she told them. They disappeared too, turning into sludge and puddling up on the floor. "Eww."
Tara pulled her away. "At least they're gone," she said lightly. She kissed her girlfriend on the cheek. "Want to go home?"
"I want to steal that outfit and have you wear it," Willow told her, giving her a real kiss. "You called on Strife?"
"No, I called on Hecate and told her what was going on. She apparently called Strife." She giggled. "I wonder if he realized he was hanging out."
"With a lover like Cupid, I'm sure he's like that most of the day," Willow said, drawing her girlfriend back to their table. "Trisha, she's gone safely away," she announced, gathering their things. "We'll tell Spike, did you need a ride anywhere?"
"Nah," she said, sipping her drink. "I'm okay. My mom said she'd come pick us up." She sighed. "I want what you two have."
Tara gave her a hug. "Find someone who makes you happy, no matter what they are, and you'll have it," she told her, following Willow back to the bathrooms.
"Spike, she's gone and so are we," Willow was calling into the guy's room.
Spike stuck his head out. "Yeah?"
"Yeah, slight problem but Strife came to bring her to Cupid. It's all good again. The bad guys turned into puddles without us doing anything." One eyebrow went up at that. "Yeah, so be careful tonight, huh?" She poked him on the nose. "We'd miss you if you dusted." She took Tara's hand and left with her, heading out to their car.
Spike pulled back in and went back to kissing the young girl. "Well, whaddya know," he said lightly. "They do like me."
She laughed. "Well, I certainly do, even if they didn't." She wrapped her legs around his waist. "Come on, Spike, you were in the middle of something and I'm missing it already."
He sucked a bigger hickey on her neck as he started to pound into her again, giving her exactly what she wanted.
Dawn landed on her bed with a bounce and a squeal. "Cupid!" She heard a laugh so got up to go look in her closet. She had about twenty minutes before he could get free and she wanted to put on something hot for him. She opened the wardrobe and looked at the clothes inside, shaking her head. "Too demure. Too trashy, but great for clubbing and teasing." She pulled out a leather minidress but put it back quickly. "Leather burns are not fun," she reminded herself as she kept searching.
Cupid appeared and snuck up behind her, rubbing his hard cock against her rear. "Don't worry about the clothes, I'm sure you won't be needing them." She moaned and leaned back into his arms. "Come to bed, Dawny, we'll do this the right way. You can dress up for me next time." He turned her around, looking down at her outfit. "Did Mom give you that?"
Dawn nodded and smiled as she took off the jacket, tossing it onto the half-wall that separated her bedroom from her lounge area. "Everyone's really liked it so far. I even made Willow wet I think," she said, her grin getting brighter. She turned around for his inspection and he grabbed her again, kissing her this time. She hummed into his mouth and leaned against his body.
He picked her up and tossed her onto the bed, smiling down at her. "How do you feel? Older yet?"
"Not yet," she sighed. "I don't even feel legal." She grinned. "You could come lay down with me, I mean I took a shower this morning and everything."
He shook his head. "Not the point." He leaned down, giving her another kiss. "Your lover should appreciate you, Dawny, not rush through this, especially not your first few times, they're meant to be more special than the rest." He picked her back up. "And I have the perfect way to start this night off. A long hot soak and tease."
"But I'm not *that* sweaty," Dawn said as he carried her toward the bathroom.
"Still not the point. See, anything you do *can* be erotic, if you want it to be."
"Oh, so that's *that* sort of bath, you're not saying that I smell." She smiled. "That's okay then."
He laughed as he opened the door, letting her stand as he started the water running. "No, I'm not saying that you smell, but you really should let me handle this without all the worry, 'kay?" She nodded. "Good, then strip for me," he said as he walked over and closed the door, leaning against it so he had a good vantage point.
She dropped the top onto the edge of the sink, smiling at him as she took off her bra. And the knife that was buried in it. "Sorry, Strife's birthday prezzie," she said with a shrug.
"I've pulled more than one off him before we had sex," Cupid said easily. "Bodice daggers are an okay form of protection, especially in that outfit." His smile picked up as she started on the buttons for the pants. "Yeah, doing good," he said, nodding as the pants fell down.
She laughed nervously, covering that part of herself with her hands.
"Never cover yourself," he told her, walking over to move her hands, intentionally looking down her body. "You've got a beautiful bod and you shouldn't be ashamed of it. You have nothing to be ashamed of." He leaned in and gave her a kiss, running his fingers through her bush. "See, I like it."
"I can tell," she said, laying a hand over his crotch. She looked down at the water, then back at him. "This'll take forever," she noted.
He snapped his fingers and the bath was filled with bubbled-covered hot water. "In you get, and you get to watch me strip," he told her, starting with the harness he wore instead of a shirt.
Xander listened with a smile as Dawn started to pant and chant at Cupid, rolling over onto Strife's stomach to get comfortable. "Hi," he said, breaking into the God's thoughts. "Big think?"
"Just a small one," Strife admitted. "He really likes her."
Xander lifted his head up. "You're jealous of Dawn?" Strife pinched him. "Ow!"
"Sorry, but you're bein' nosy."
Xander frowned at him. "That'd be like being jealous of me, Strife. Neither one of us can ever take him away from you, you're too important to him. You won't ever lose him again." He laid his head back down. "I know because you have part of my soul in you and I'm irresistible."
Strife smiled and ran his fingers through Xander's hair. "Yeah, you kinda are that." He flipped Xander over and rolled until he was on top of his mortal. "See, Cupid left me once."
"He was a butt and young," Xander said firmly.
"Yeah, he was that too. He shot himself with his own arrow."
"Then he was really dumb. How old was he?"
"Not over five hundred or so," Strife admitted, "but he'd been workin' for almost three hundred years."
"Everyone gets careless now and then," Xander soothed, stroking through the pointy hair his lover usually had. "Even Gods can get careless and get hurt. Ares had a big bruise the last time I saw him."
"Yeah, he and Jox had ta defend themselves from 'Dite, who was throwin' stuff at 'em." He looked up. "He had Bliss with that woman, the one he left me for."
"And how long did that last?" Xander asked. "How long after the effects of his arrow wore off before he came running back to you, begging for forgiveness?"
"Well, running back took almost a week becausea the divorce proceedings." He grinned at the thought of that. "Hera was not pleased with him, said he was a child and had no business making promises and having children in the first place, but she granted it." He lost his smile. "Begging for forgiveness has taken longer."
"How much?" Xander asked quietly.
"I'll let ya know when I hear one," Strife said lightly, but he was hiding his frown.
"I'd beg for forgiveness and do all sorts of mushy stuff to get you back," Xander told him, continuing to play with the dark hair. "You could expect a daily picnic of interesting foods, and maybe even bad poetry."
Strife snickered. "I bet." He was starting to feel better now. "Maybe I'll go jump on him tomorrow and ask him for some bad poetry." He poked the stomach his head was on. "You're a good mortal, ya know that?"
"Nope, no one's ever told me that I make a good mortal," Xander said, giving his lover the comfort and acceptance he needed.
"Well, ya do. You're a good mortal and a good friend." He poked the stomach again. "What're you gonna do about the job thing? I know you don't have that much in savings."
"I'm looking for another one," Xander admitted. "I went down to the employment office and looked through their listings, but there wasn't anything that wasn't nearly professional and wanted you to have at least some college."
"Are you gonna go? To college I mean," Strife asked when he got a grunt.
"Strife, I suck at school. I don't relate well to people who talk to me to give me information. Lectures either put me to sleep or make me daydream."
"Ah." Strife lifted his head to look at his friend. "So, what sorta job are ya lookin' for?"
"I don't know. I could bartend again, I'm actually old enough to do it legally now." He shrugged. "I'll find something or I'll go back to the crappy minimum wage jobs. It'll happen, one way or another."
"You sure? I could pull a few strings, make someone sick enough to leave their job."
Xander pulled Strife up and kissed him. "It's not necessary," he said quietly. "I'll find a job, even if it's humiliating. I always have in the past and I will again. You don't have to go make someone quit for me, honest. Not that it's not a nice thought," he said quickly when Strife looked upset.
"Gotcha," Strife said, grinning. He was tickled for it, and they rolled around for a few minutes. "All right," Strife said finally, "I give. I'll be nice and not kill someone to get you a job."
"It's the thought that counts to me," Xander said, nipping him on the shoulder. "Thank you for being willing to do that for me."
"Hey, anything for my buttboy," Strife said with a leer.
Xander's eyes narrowed and he attacked his lover again, making him squeal as he was tickled and ignoring his begging to stop. At least until Strife flashed away. He came back a few minutes later and found Xander curled up under the covers. He popped himself under the young man and held him tightly. "No one's ever tickled me hard enough to make me wanna pee," he said in awe.
Xander giggled. "Hey, I'm a good mortal, you said so yourself."
Strife groaned but he continued to hold his friend, watching him as he fell asleep. "Yeah, you're a great mortal," Strife whispered once Xander was asleep.
Hephaestus appeared in the lounge area, pulling Xander into his arms. "What did you and Strife talk about?" he asked quietly.
"Strife told me about Cupid leaving him. He said that Cupid hadn't apologized."
"Oh. That again?"
"It still hurts him," Xander said, looking up. "All this time and no apology? He got a little worried about Dawn last night."
"'Dite noticed," he said softly. "She said she felt bad about the whole thing but she wasn't sure how to make it up to him. Not after so long."
"An 'I'm sorry' seems to work for us," Xander suggested gently. He jumped and spun about when he heard something breakable hitting the floor. "What was that?" he called. He didn't get an answer so he headed down to Dawn's room to check on her. "Dawn? What was the crash?" he asked as he opened the door. It turned out to have been her window. "Gee, that's not nice," he said, frowning at it. He ran to the outer door, going out to look, but Hephie was standing in his way. "She's gone."
"You're naked," Hephaestus pointed out. "I'll go look, you put on clothes." As soon as Xander hit the stairs at a dead run, he went outside to check around the side of the building. No Dawn. Tire marks but no Dawn. "Somebody's going to pay," he told the air. "Cupid, a word?" he quietly called, not wanting to bring too much mortal attention to the situation.
Cupid flashed in beside him, his wings hidden. "What happened?" he asked, looking at the window. "Huh, someone's gonna die. Strife?" His lover appeared. "Someone took my Dawny away."
"Aren't they the stupid shmucks," he said with a cruel grin. "You gonna call your mom now or later?"
"Oh, I'm not even going there yet," Hephie told him. "Can you track her?"
Cupid and Strife both shook their heads. "I didn't think I'd need to," Cupid pointed out. "I claimed her and all but branded her my high priestess."
"Xander, Dawny," Aphrodite called from inside the warehouse.
All three men groaned and shook their heads. You did *not* tell the female side of the family about a crisis like this, they got really *upset*.
"Xander, where's Dawn?" Aphrodite yelled. Then she shrieked and looked out at the men. "Well?" she demanded.
"I can't track her, I didn't think I'd need to," Cupid told her.
"Ford Fairlane," Strife said, pointing at the tire tracks. "Rare car."
Hephaestus shrugged. "I'm trying to locate her now, dear," he said calmly.
Her eyes narrowed and she braced herself on the open window. "We go. Now," she ordered. "Strife, go get Ares. I want the big guns on this one. Boys, track the stupid asshole. He's *mine*." She disappeared in a dark flash and all three men sighed in relief. It could have been *much* worse.
Strife grabbed Xander as he joined them and pulled him closer. "Never, ever, let Aphrodite in on a crisis and never let her plan a party," he said quietly. "You won't like the results." He let the mortal go with that advice and went to find his Uncle, who had probably heard *all* about it by now.
Ares appeared, running his hands through his hair, his Consort not far behind him. "So, Dawn's gone?" he asked Cupid. "Who told your mother?"
"Xander did, we think," Cupid said, giving him a helpless look. "He didn't know, Pop. He still thinks Mom is this nice, sweet lady who only wants to deal with the pleasures of life."
Strife shook his head. "I'll warn him before we go in and fight. He can stay in the car."
"*I'm* staying in the car," Ares told him. "We'll just let 'Dite do her thing, shall we?" He looked at the other men. "Well, find her before she goes on a rip."
The Gods disappeared, going to find Dawn before Aphrodite got *really* mad.
Xander looked over at Strife and Cupid, who were locked in the car with him. "I'm sorry, guys, I didn't know."
"Don't worry, dude, it's a rare thing for Aphrodite to be pissed enough to rip a door clear off the frame," Cupid soothed. "Next time, just call on us though. Mom is *the* killer bitch when something or someone of hers is taken."
"Joxer," Strife groaned. Aphrodite had had to hit him pretty hard to knock him out so he could be locked in the car. "She about killed two towns lookin' for him when she lost him that time."
"I thought Greece was done for that time," Cupid agreed with a smile.
From inside the Mexican brothel a voice drifted out. "Yeah, you'd better pray for your mother, not that she's listenin'. It seems you haven't visited her recently and she's about as pissed as I am!" Aphrodite apparently smashed something else, little bits of wood flew out the door. "And yeah, I *am* the Mother Goddess, and I'm *pissed off*!"
A middle-aged man came running out, his pants held up by only one of his hands, the other being busy crossing himself for protection. He ran off into the afternoon desert heat, it was probably safer for him to be out there than getting in 'Dite's way.
"One john down, thirteen more to go," Cupid quipped.
Strife groaned again, holding the side of his poor, abused face.
"Baby, you okay?" Cupid asked, leaning over to give him a little kiss. "Don't worry, as soon as Mom releases us from the car, I'll take you to see Apollo.
"No, Unc and Hephie," Strife groaned, pointing at where the two Gods were standing, watching the fight.
"That is so not good," Cupid told himself. "If Ares is standing there, someone's never gettin' any again."
"Half of these guys probably have some funky disease anyway," Xander opinioned. "It's probably better that she rips their cocks off and makes them eat them raw." He banged on the door again but it stayed stubbornly closed. "I need to be in there," he told himself.
Cupid sighed and knocked the mortal out. "There, one less problem."
"He's not a problem," Strife told him, glaring at him. "He's got really good ideas."
"I know he does," Cupid said, rolling his eyes. "I've heard about most of them." He ran a finger across the main bruise, trying to heal it a little bit. "I'm sorry my mom beat you up, man."
"Doesn't hurt as much as some stuff does," Strife said quietly, turning to watch what they could of the fight. "'Dite's gone quiet," he pointed out. "Unc and Hephie are both staring at the building."
Cupid looked over and saw his fathers, both of them with weapons in their hands. His mother must be in trouble. He focused on the door of the car, sending a powerful blast of energy into it and knocking it off the car. He climbed out, walking over to join the two older Gods. "Need help?" he asked.
"Go wait in the car," Ares told him, staring intently at the walls.
"No! Dawn's mine!"
"Go wait in the car, Cupid!" Ares said harshly.
"Go take Strife to Apollo," Hephie suggested. "'Dite did a number on him."
"He's already gone that way," Cupid said, waving him off. He headed for the door, striding through confidently. His mother glared at him. "I *am* a Love God too," he pointed out coolly. "And Dawny is mine." He stomped his foot.
"Fine," she said, turning away to go back to her torturing of the brothel's owner. "Where is she?" she asked, a fireball resting not even a hair's width away from the man's naked genitals. "I want Dawn and I want her now!"
The man shrieked then he started to babble.
Cupid headed up the hidden staircase, going to release his favorite worshiper from her little room. He knocked the door out of his way and strode in, smiling down at the drugged Dawn. "Good, I won't have to kill him after all." He released her and picked her up, carrying her back down to the car. Which for some reason had the door back on it. He put Dawn in the back with Xander, then went back to go deal with these stupid people. "We need to know who did it," he reminded his mother. "I don't want this sicko doing it to another girl."
"Fine," she agreed, handing over the slightly singed brothel owner. "You get it from him, I'm going to go get the rest of the girls somewhere safe."
"Good deal," Cupid said, smiling cruelly down at the stupid human. "You're mine now," he told him. The man wet himself, crying when the wetness hit his new burns. "Yo, Pops, wanna help me with this guy? You always were the best at interrogation and we've had some strange shit comin' outta this so far," he called. Ares walked in and looked down at him. "I want to know who did this."
"Fine with me," Ares agreed, and the three of them disappeared.
Xander woke up and found Dawn lying next to him. He sat up and pulled her closer, patting her on the side of the face. She moaned and reached a hand up, but it fell after a few inches. "Shh, Dawn, it's Xander. We have you back. It's all okay again," he soothed, checking her for injuries, besides the black eye he could see. "Come on, Dawn, wake up for me. It's time to rejoin reality." She moaned and reached for him again, and he grabbed her hand to hold. "Shh, it's me. You're safe. 'Dite killed them all."
"Not quite," she said as she appeared in the front seat. "But they're all very sorry."
Xander looked down at Dawn. "Let her feel safe. It'll make her feel better." He glanced up and the Goddess shrugged. "Thanks."
"Hey, we love you guys," she reminded him, patting him on the head. "She's probably drugged."
"We need to get her home."
"We could stay down here for the night. Give her a chance to recover some."
"No, she'll want to wake up at home. I would."
"Okay," she agreed, handing him the car keys she had made disappear. "Take her home. We'll meet you somewhere around the border."
He looked up at her. "I want whomever took her," he said quietly.
"After we get done with them," she said as she disappeared.
Xander carefully put Dawn down on the backseat and then climbed over to get in the driver's seat. He started the car and drove off, wanting to get her somewhere more familiar. She'd appreciate it when she woke up.
Giles looked up in shock as the door to the Magic Box was kicked open. "Xander!" he reprimanded, then he saw what he was carrying. "Dear God, put her down."
"She was taken and drugged," Xander told him, putting her down on the small couch. "She's starting to wake up." He looked over at Giles. "Just my mind making things up?" he asked coolly.
Giles patted him on the back. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you, Xander. Do we know what they gave her?"
"It's lasted from Mexico, about two hours south of the border. She's semi-conscious, she can hear me now. She couldn't when she was rescued."
"What's going on?" Willow called from the back room. She and Ilaria walked out, both of them running over when they saw who was on the couch. "It happened?"
"Aphrodite kicked their asses," Xander told her. "We have her back and she's going to need some closer support now." He looked over at Willow. "She was drugged. Can you do something about that?"
"The only spell I've ever seen to help clean out someone's body is very dangerous," Willow said quietly. "Time should help."
"Or I could do it," a voice said, and then the body attached to it appeared in a golden light. "Asclepias," he said, nodding at Xander. "I'm Apollo's son. May I?"
"Sure," Xander said, getting out of his way. "All we know is that it's been acting for a long time. She hasn't regained consciousness yet."
"That's fine," he said calmly, getting down to look her over. Dawn disappeared after a moment. "I'm going to go help clean out her system. She'll be back later tonight." He looked Xander over, then pulled him a little ways away to talk to him. "It wasn't your fault. You did the best you could and you had her guarded. You thought she was safe in your own home." That got a small nod. "You can't blame yourself."
"Oh, I know," Xander told him, giving him a weak smile. "I don't really blame myself. The asshole who did this is mine, but I don't blame myself."
Asclepias nodded. "Good. As long as you don't beat yourself up over this. Oh, and Strife's fine. He decided to sit next to Dawn when I brought her up. He said he'd come check on you tonight." Then he disappeared too.
Xander turned back to the group, looking at them. "I'm going home," he told them. "Let's put off the birthday party until tomorrow." He turned and left, slamming the door after himself.
Giles looked at the two young woman. "I agree, though I do believe he's going to do something stupid."
"No, he'll have Spike help him do something stupid," Ilaria told him. "He won't go after this guy by himself." She looked around the office. "I think it's time I called a member of my family. Dawn could probably use a little bit of protection." She headed for the phone and dialed an international number. "Bro?" she said quietly. "Yeah, I need help. A girl here needs a guard and I can't do it." She sighed and smiled. "Thanks. Yeah, I'm still in Sunnydale." She hung up and looked around but everyone else had left. "My will be done," she said quietly, glowing briefly. Then she shook herself and went to go put up some of the birthday gear.
Xander finished pounding the last nail into the wood over the former window and stepped back to look it over. The wood disappeared and the window was rebuilt before his eyes so he turned to find Ares standing behind him. "Which one of them did it?" he asked.
"The counselor," Ares told him. "The science teacher seems to be the one to go after them and tries to save them. This time, he was still in jail." He pulled Xander over and forced him to sit down on Dawn's bed. "Kid, you can't go after this guy."
Xander glared at him. "Bet me. Dawn is my responsibility. I promised her sister."
"And now she's ours too," Ares pointed out. Xander shrugged and went back to looking down at his hands. "Kid, I know you want this guy's ass as a rug, but let us handle it this time. Next time you can kill someone." He smiled at the small nod. "Good. I'm glad we won't have to come visit you in jail." Xander looked up in shock so Ares laughed. "What? You think we'd get you out?"
Xander stood up and faced down the God. "Do you really think that a little bit of prison time is going to phase me anymore?" he asked, then he walked away. He headed up to the living room area, where Spike was lounging in front of the TV. "Not going out?"
"Can't. Can't get through the door," Spike told him, looking up at him. "You?"
"I haven't tried but I was going to."
"Nah, let them. It'll give them a spot'a fun," Spike advised. He smiled. "They'll leave us some."
"I don't want some, I want the whole," Xander said mock-sweetly. "They can go leap." Spike sat up and stared at him. "We both promised Buffy to look after Dawn."
"And we have," Spike pointed out carefully. He'd never seen Xander like this, and it was fairly scary. Xander wasn't the one for homicidal rages. "We'll get her captors after your woman and them get done with him."
"I want them now," Xander told him.
"I know, but I can't let you get out to get them." He grabbed the human and held him still. "They get him first. They're Gods and she gave herself to them. Same as if something happened to you, they'd go after them for you."
Xander shrugged off the hands. "He's mine."
"Huh," Aphrodite said as she appeared. "Xander, I thought you trusted us."
He smiled up at her. "I do, but this is my fight, not yours. I promised to protect her, and since she was taken from mine and Spike's care, it's our duty to get this scumbag." He stood up. "You can come help if you want." He walked away, heading down to the door. When was locked, he couldn't get it open. "Release it," he called up.
"Not a chance," Cupid said as he appeared. He found himself pinned to the door and a pissed Xander holding him there. "Hey, friend," he pointed out.
"Let me out, he's mine. It's my duty to avenge the action."
"It's my duty too," Cupid reminded him. "She put herself in my service."
"And I promised her family."
"Point," Cupid agreed, and Xander let him go. "But I can't let you out. If you go after him, the cops'll get you. They're looking for it this time. They know you're going to lead them right to the idiot. If you go out that door, you'll be arrested."
"Then I'll get arrested," Xander said coldly. "She is worth it."
"Dude, not the issue," Cupid said reasonably. "I know she's worth it. She's very worth it, but you can't go out there because we can't lose you too!" Xander stepped back at that. "Yeah, you. Dawn could very well decide to leave our lives because of this, but you're the one we came together over. If you keep doing this, you're going to lose us all. Do you know what that'll do to Strife and Hephie?" He laid a hand on Xander's cheek. "Really, dude, we can't lose you too."
Xander shook his head. "You won't be losing me, Cupid, but it's my duty to go beat this asshole."
"No, it's *our* duty, together, Xander, to get him and we will. Use your brain, not your brawn this time. We need to plan a way to get this asshole once and for all."
A wicked thought came to Xander's mind. "If you could manage to get a certain prisoner back into Sunnydale, we could get them both."
Cupid stared at him. He'd never seen this side of Xander.
Strife appeared and hugged Xander hard. "Done," he agreed. He grinned at his lover. "It's so very good, simple even." He disappeared with an, "I'll go talk to her."
Cupid shook his head. "Do I want to know?" He caught the thought out of Xander's head and shuddered. "That's just bad, man."
"Not really. She'd do it for Buffy." Xander looked around his apartment. "Yeah, she'll do it for us." He walked away, heading for the kitchen. He hadn't eaten recently and he needed a snack.
Cupid looked at his mother, who shrugged. "It's not him," he pointed out.
"Which is good," she agreed, "but it's still not what we hoped for. He should trust us to get revenge."
Cupid shook his head. "Mom, he does trust us, but this is about a vow he made. You and I have seen things like this before, you know he won't let it go."
Strife reappeared. "She's game." He hugged Cupid tightly. "And Dawn's awake. The drugs are slowly being leeched out of her body and she'll be fine. 'Pol even said nothing had been done to her yet."
Aphrodite and Cupid both relaxed. "That's great news," she said. "Let's go see her, 'kay, guys?"
They both nodded, watching as she left. "She's really okay?" Cupid asked.
"Yeah, Faith's good with the idea." Strife went to give Xander a hug then went back to Dawn's bedside, Cupid beating him up there.
Xander grinned. This was one fight he'd want to know about. If he couldn't be there, picking his champion was the next best thing.
Xander picked up the paper and smiled at the headline. "Man beaten while in jail cell," he read to Dawn, who had just come home. "No witnesses to the attack." He handed over the paper and she gave him a faint smile. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, just a little wobbly," Dawn told him, kissing him on the cheek. "Thank you, Xander."
"Hey, it's all good to me," he told her, pulling her over for a hug. "Whatever you need, I'm there." He let her go, watching as she went back to her breakfast.
Hephie appeared, frowning down at the newspaper. "Xander, we would have gotten him for you."
"Hephaestus," Xander said calmly, he had never called his lover by his proper name but now seemed like the time. "I made a sacred vow as her sister was dying in a car crash that I would protect Dawn, with my life if necessary. Spike made the same one. It was my duty to get revenge."
Hephie sighed and sat down, pulling Xander into his arms. "I know you felt the need to do it, but that was bad, kid. She nearly killed him."
"Good," Dawn told him. Both men looked at her. "He drugged me, gave me to a brothel owner, and if I had been conscious I would have been repeatedly raped until someone had killed me during one of their times with me. If whomever beat him up nearly killed him, then it's all good. He's merely paying for all the other women he's done this to."
Hephie hung his head a little. "I'm sorry, Dawn. You're right." He stood up and kissed her on the forehead. "Are you going to school today?"
"No, the school was *informed* that I would not be attending for the rest of the week," Dawn told him with a slight smile. "When asked, I told them *exactly* what had happened to me and how two of their teachers had played a part in this little drama. There's not a question of me getting in trouble. The Principal said so."
Xander grinned. "Good going. Does the article say either of them have talked about the other girls?"
Dawn picked it up and read it, then suddenly smiled. "Both of them are talking to the Feds about it."
"Yeah, kidnapping is a Fed thing," Xander said thoughtfully. "You going to be okay if they come and ask?"
"Sure. My friends rescued me," she said with a shrug, grabbing her last piece of toast and the paper. "Gonna go read in my room. Don't be too loud." She wandered off, going to her little corner of the warehouse.
Xander looked at Hephie once she was out of hearing range. "That's the same thing I'm feeling," he said quietly. "As long as he's able to tell everybody about what he's done and all about how he's fucked up, then it's all good to me."
Hephie nodded. "All right. 'Dite's mad that she didn't get to castrate him using the full ritual but she'll deal I guess. She can always do it after they're in jail for good." He kissed Xander on the cheek. "If you had asked, Joxer would have passed judgement on him."
"That would have let him off too lightly," Xander said with a grin. "Now he'll know exactly how all those girls felt."
Hephie shuddered. "I have no doubt he's suffering greatly."
"Any word on who the fake Strife and Cupid were on her eighteenth?"
"Oh, yeah, we did find that out. There's another God involved in all this, the Science teacher's. He really was told to save all those girls and to consecrate them to His image, but none of them lasted that long. It seems he used them up pretty quickly. We've gotten some back from him too."
"So, see, Aphrodite could get her revenge, and not have to pick on the little mortals. That wouldn't have been very fair to her, making her deal with a puny mortal scumbag."
"She doesn't see it that way, kid, and you know it." He squeezed Xander then disappeared. "Later."
"Okay." Xander finished his breakfast, fairly content with the world. For now.
Ares and his consort Joxer popped in next to where Xander was sitting on the couch, Joxer smiling at him as he grabbed a cheeze puff. "Hey," Xander said, handing over the bowl. A God with munchies was a powerful force and you never hogged the goodies. "What's up?"
"Nothing much," Ares said, smiling at his mate. "Joxer wanted to talk to you."
"Am I in trouble?" Xander asked, sitting up and turning off the TV.
Joxer grinned and shook his head. "Not very much. It was a very inventive ploy, turning a rabid slayer on the idiots. I would have made him relive it over and over again, but I guess he'll be doing that in prison anyway."
"Physically," Xander pointed out. "Not just seeing it in his head, but becoming just like one of his own victims."
Joxer nodded and ate another cheeze puff. "Like I said, an inventive ploy." He put his feet up on the coffeetable and looked over the young man. "Did you like passing judgement on him?"
Xander shook his head. "No, but I had vowed to protect her, and if I couldn't, to get even with whomever hurt her." He glanced at Ares, then returned to Joxer's attention. "I've been fighting for a long time now, Joxer. There are all sorts of bad guys, and some of them are human so beyond my meager reach. I'm not going to suddenly become a vigilante, but it was the right thing to do. Even if someone does trace it back to me and I spend some time in jail, it was the right thing to do."
Hera appeared, smiling down at him. "Yes, it was," she agreed, glaring at Joxer. "Wasn't it?"
"It was," Joxer agreed. "Reading him showed me that he wasn't going to become some sort of vigilante and break everyone's heart."
"Except Strife's," Ares put in. "He has good relationships with them. He'd understand."
Hera nodded. "I think he would probably still dote on the boy." She smiled at Xander again. "How is she?"
"Fortunately, she seems to be healing," Xander told her. "She's able to talk about it. We spent a long time last night talking about it. I made the right decision getting her home, she said it made it easier." Hera nodded. "It also helped that she has almost no memory of being there and that no one touched her while she was there."
"Good," Hera said, smiling at her son now too. "Are you going to teach her self-defense?"
"I'm going to offer," Ares corrected. "Once she's past the reaction stage." He clapped Xander on the back. "Just like I did for him."
She nodded. "Excellent. Xander, how would you like to name yourself a high priest?"
"Of which one?" Xander asked.
"Any of them," she said lightly.
"But then I'd have to choose," he pointed out. "I don't want to choose."
She smiled at him. "Yes, you would, but that might be agreeable to them all, even if you wanted to continue your...relationship with them all."
Joxer nudged Xander. "I'll tell him about it," he told her. She beamed at him and left. "Don't, just don't," he said quietly. "It'll end up breaking someone's heart."
"I don't want to lose any of them," Xander told him, leaning a little closer to him. "I like them all, I'd miss it if any of them left me." He looked over at Ares. "Do they know about this?"
"No, if they did, Strife would have been throwing fits by now."
Joxer snorted. "Is that what you call him throwing stuff around your temple and screaming? I used to call them temper tantrums."
Ares smiled at him. "So?"
Joxer shook his head. "He's in too good of a mood to tease," he told the young man. He grinned at Strife as he appeared. "Not throwing a fit?"
"Nah, I know what Hera's doin' and while it pisses me the hell off, I don't mind that much." He pulled Xander up and disappeared with him. They landed up in the bedroom and Xander got pushed onto the bed. "Now then, what are ya gonna do when she forces the issue? She did with Joxer."
"I'm not Joxer," Xander pointed out, reaching up and removing Strife's shirt for him. "I have no desire to lose any of you. Not matter what reason, I'm not losing any of you. They can go leap." He moved forward, sucking the pale, salty skin. "I don't want to give any of this up." He sucked a small mark around the pierced navel. "I refuse to give any of this up, Strife. Not even if you dumped me. I'd beg someone to get me up there to come kidnap you and hold you hostage until you saw sense."
Strife sniffled. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me," he said happily. He pulled Xander up and kissed him as hard as he could.
Downstairs, Ares and Joxer shared a look and left. Maybe they could talk to Hera, she was the only one pushing for a monogamous relationship for chosen mortals.
Aphrodite stomped her foot and glared at her adoptive parents. They were getting annoying. "Forget it," she told Zeus. "If you try and take Xander away from us or make him choose just one of us, we'll revolt and you'll be sucking dirt."
Hephie nodded. "I'm not losing Xander. He's a very good mortal. He cares for all of us. He's even gotten into the middle of Strife and Cupid's relationship errors." Aphrodite looked at him in the classic 'huh' look. "Strife told him about how Cupid still hasn't apologized for the whole Psyche thing."
"Oh, that," she said with a wave. "Strife's gotten over it."
"No, he hasn't," Hephie told her. "He's still upset that Cupid hasn't apologized. He really needs to do that."
"Cupie thinks that it's all solved and that if he does apologize then it'll just reopen the fight."
"It might, for a while, but Strife's feeling uncomfortable with not being apologized to. He thinks things went back to where they had been," her husband pointed out. "Maybe a more subtle apology. A card or something."
She rolled her eyes. "A card? Would you accept that?" He shook his head. "I'll get onto Cupie about it." She looked at the reigning monarchs of the realm and frowned. "Anyway, we're not giving up Xander. You can bitch and whine all you want, Xander stays with all four of us."
"It's unnatural," Zeus pointed out.
"Like, yay," she said, putting the most disgust she could into her voice. "Unnatural is staying in a loveless relationship where all you're there for is to be able to bitch and to keep your position."
"Aphrodite," Zeus warned coldly.
"Yay. Hera, you're the Goddess of Marriage. Is this the example you want to set? Being miserable is better than being happy and content?"
Hera relaxed. "No, it is not the example I want set but I do not think that the boy is content."
"He is," Hephie pointed out. "Go scan him. He's happy, as happy as he can be without us being there full time."
"With the exception of the job thing," Aphrodite added. "We need to fix that too."
"We'll help him with that too," Hephie assured her, pulling her in for a hug. "Strife's offered to make someone sick so he could have their job. Xander turned him down."
"Then we'll have to be sneaky about it," his wife said firmly. "We're still not giving him up."
"Aphrodite, the rule is 'one chosen mortal per God', though we have seen fit to make an exception for couples who share one."
"Yay," Aphrodite told him. "You're not shutting us out and you're not hurting Cupie and Strife. We won't let you. If you try, then you're gonna have a war on your hands." The couple disappeared together, going to discuss and snuggle.
Hera looked at Zeus. "She's right. We can't force this situation like we did Joxer's. When we did it then, it almost killed them all. Ares quit paying attention to his surroundings while he sulked. Hephaestus refused to make anything for anyone. Aphrodite refused to let anyone get together in her temples. It was not a good time to be one of theirs."
He sighed. "It's still unnatural. How can one person be in love with four others?"
"Apparently for this one, it's relatively easy. Xander is an unusual mortal."
Zeus touched the collar he was wearing, courtesy of Apollo and Hephaestus. "Yes, he certainly is."
She frowned but dropped the subject.
Xander looked up from his reading of the classifieds as Hera appeared, giving her a smile. "Coffee?" he offered, holding up his cup. "I make pretty good coffee. There's no food, but plenty of caffeine in this house."
She smiled and sat down next to him. "No, Xander, I don't need any coffee. I'm here to talk to you about your unusual predicament." She started her scan of him. "You see, there's a rule saying only one chosen mortal per God, and one God per chosen mortal." Xander frowned. "You're putting us in a very hard place."
"I'm not giving them up," he said simply. "You'll find I'm one stubborn asshole when I want to be." He stood up and went to get himself some more coffee. "There's nothing on this plane, or probably any other but I haven't visited them all yet, to make me give any one of them up. I like my relationship the way it is, Lady Hera, and I *refuse* to give any of that up. If your husband doesn't like it, then he can stay a goat for all I care." He sipped his new cup of coffee. "Was there anything else?"
"Xander, we could give you wealth, as much as you needed to satisfy yourself for the rest of your life. Zeus and I can give you anything your heart desires if you'll only follow the rules."
He snorted. "And I would trust this coming from you two?" He took another sip. "Hera, you know very well he let the nasty twosome out to come and attack Strife and I. I wouldn't trust anything he gave me to not attack me to. As for you," he smiled at her, "I'm willing to trust you, but I'm still not going there. Ever. I'm not giving up one of my lovers for anything. Even if I end up homeless and babbling to the voices in my head." He walked back over to the table. "I'm sorry I'm messing with the rules, but I'm not going to give any of my four up."
"And Ares and Joxer?" she asked.
He chuckled. "We're just friends, Lady Hera. Nothing more. I respect them both, especially Joxer for all he's been through and for the God he is." He shrugged. "Not a big, but I'm not sleeping with them. On Ares for a few hours in the car on the way to Mexico but not with them." He picked up the paper. "Was there anything else you had to try and convince me of?" She left in a pale shimmer of light. "Later," he called after her. "I'm going to be here." An ad in the paper caught his eye and he picked up a pen to circle it, going on with his job search. He knew this wasn't over, it was far from over, but he could be really stubborn when it was important.
Hera watched her husband's face as she walked up to him. "I've scanned the boy," she told him, taking her usual seat beside him. "He's truly in love with them. There is no way to break them up without causing a major war." Zeus grunted in annoyance. "Also, he isn't sleeping with Ares or Joxer, he holds a great deal of affection for them though. More of a fatherly-son type. It seems he admires Ares for helping them with Hercules the first time," she finished, sounding casual. "Joxer is more of a big brother figure in his mind."
"He can't keep them," Zeus reminded her.
"Zeus, he's willing to die for them," she said quietly. "If you try anything then you will be sorry. You'll be losing what little support you have left. Even Apollo admires that boy for all he's been through." She knew he was planning something by the look in his eyes, but she felt she had to say it. "If you do something, you do it alone and without my support. I'll still be here, even after you've joined your bastard in confinement." She stood up but he zapped her. "Don't even," she warned. "You have *no* power over me anymore."
"I am *still* the King!" he yelled.
"And in the last century, there's been this development called Women's Liberation," Hera countered. "That means that you don't control me and I'll be damned if you're going to destroy our children's lives. You do something to the boy and you'll have most of the Pantheon on you. I won't stick up for you this time," she hissed, disappearing before he could hold her there, but not going where she wanted to. Instead, she went to Apollo's temple. "Would you please check a burn for me?" she asked quietly.
He nodded and checked her back, frowning at the obvious power burn. "Zeus?" he asked her. She nodded. "Over Xander?" She nodded again. "He *does* know that we'll all take him out if he goes after the boy?" She smiled and nodded this time. "Good." He sent a healing wash of energy across her back. "All fixed," he told her, helping her back into her robe. "Have you told any of them yet?"
"No, I started to go to one of them and he got me for it. I did remind him that he would stand alone against the rest of us if he tried anything but I think he's too far gone into his revenge plans to hear reality." She sighed. "I should probably go warn Joxer that he's going to have to hear Zeus again someday soon." She disappeared, but ended up in Love's temple instead of War's. "Yes, Aphrodite?" she asked. "You summoned?"
"No, I yanked," Aphrodite said with a smile. "Is Xander okay?" Hera nodded. "And does Zeus know that I'll personally fuck up everything good in his life if he tries to mess with my poor little Xander?"
Hera chuckled. "I tried to warn him that he would be attacked by everyone, he's not listening."
"Of course not," Ares purred as he popped in. "Why would he listen? He never has. Xander's not in trouble, 'Dite, I've had someone watching over him. Ilaria's brother is coming to Sunnydale to watch over Dawn and him both."
'Dite cooed and smiled. "Thanks, bro. I know Xander looks up to you."
"He sees Ares as somewhat of a father figure," Hera informed them. "I scanned him and I did agree that he shouldn't be taken from any of you. He's managed to fall in love with each of you for yourselves, not what you could give him, and it's a deep enough feeling to be permanent." She watched as the two younger Gods silently cheered up some. "Though, he does think of Joxer as somewhat of a big brother. It seems they've gotten into trouble together."
Ares snorted. "Is that what you call it? My consort, Strife, and Xander all enjoy going out together and teasing the straight men at clubs. Not to mention the odd bout of fighting demons and the like." He looked up at the Goddess of Love. "Do you have anything you want me to put into place? I'm headed down there now to touch base with Ilaria."
She waved a hand. "I've got tons of stuff in place down there to warn me if another God pops into Xander's house." She looked at Hera. "You don't like coffee?"
"I prefer tea," Hera said, smiling up at her. "I'll leave you to your planning, I've got something I want to study on the mortal realm. This new openness is very invigorating." She disappeared.
Ares looked at the empty spot, then at Aphrodite. "You're sure?" he asked quietly. The Goddess of Love nodded, giving him her nastiest grin. "All right. I'll be down there working with Ilaria and Dawn." He disappeared too.
Aphrodite leaned back on her throne and sighed, going over her and Hephie's plans in her head. Zeus was going to try something, she knew he was. She had better be ready or Xander would end up paying the price again.
Ilaria looked up as the Magic Box's door opened and admitted a young man with dark hair and a casual slouch. "Hey, bro," she said with a smile. "You missed the excitement. We had to steal someone back from a brothel in Mexico, and to make sure that this one God didn't get her." He strolled over and she looked him over. "What, no jeans?" she asked, noticing how he was wearing dress pants and a t-shirt. "You look like you're mafia."
He smiled and kissed her cheek. "Thanks. It was suggested that I dress a little more formally this time." He looked around the shop. "Anyone else here?"
"Just two in the back room," she said, pointing behind her. "And one customer hiding in the herbs. Come on, let me tell you about Dawn and Xander," she offered, taking his hand and leading him back to the office.
Giles stuck his head out of the training room. "Ilaria, are you going to be long?" he called.
"Yes." She shut the office door.
Giles sighed and walked out, going to man the register. He smiled at the lone customer as she walked around the edge of the shelves. "Nice day, isn't it?"
She nodded. "Very. You do certainly run into strange things," she said casually.
He laughed. "You have no idea. Did you need help finding anything?"
She shook her head and went back to browsing through the books.
"Reporters," he sighed, shaking his head. "Always around the holidays." He leaned on the counter.
The dark haired man strolled up behind one of his targets in the grocery store, tapping him on the shoulder. "Relax, the Ilaria person sent me," he said quietly when he saw how the man had stiffened. "You've been well trained," he said, moving around until he could look at Xander's face. "Who hit you?" he asked, reaching out to touch the split lip.
"It was an accident," Xander told him, brushing the hand aside. "I slipped and hit my face on the car door." He shrugged and started to push the cart again. "Why did Ilaria send you to me?"
"Because you both need guarded," he noted, following along. He frowned at the white rice going into the cart. "How do you eat that?"
"With sprinkle cheese mixed in," Xander said dryly. The other man smiled. "So, what do you do? And what's your name? I like knowing who to yell for during a fight besides 'hey, you'."
The man laughed. "I'm Derek, and I'm an assassin," he told him. "It's an honorable family tradition."
"She told me about Jett," Xander told him, grabbing one of the cans of sprinkle cheese off the shelf and tossing it into the cart. "I need to hit the frozen foods."
"You need to get something for that cut," Derek countered. "Maybe some meat? Or an ice pack."
"Have one of those at home. A little bruising is nothing unusual in my life." Xander headed for the frozen section, grabbing some of the generic pizzas from the bottom shelf with a groan. "Ow," he complained as he stood up.
"What else did you hit?" Derek asked, starting to pat him down.
"Hey! I'm taken." Xander looked around then shook his head. "Sorry, but I have jealous lovers and I really don't want to get anyone in trouble."
Cupid appeared in the aisle, his wings fanned out to balance him. "What happened?" he asked as soon as he saw Xander's lip. "You look like we beat you!" He stroked a thumb over the split, healing it as much as he could. "We'll get you some popsicles on the way out."
"Can't afford it," Xander said quietly, glancing around again. Cupid grabbed his chin and made him look at him. "I can't. My savings are starting to get thin again."
"I think I can buy you some popsicles," Cupid told him gently. He looked at the meager contents of the cart and frowned. "We're going to sit down and talk about this tonight. You can't keep living off your savings and we hate to see you so upset about such a little thing." Xander nodded. "You'll let us help?"
"Sure, I guess. As long as my Strife-buddy doesn't make someone sick." Xander leaned in and gave his lover a kiss. "I'm sorry I've been in such a grouchy mood lately."
"Hey, job hunting is enough to make anyone grouchy," Cupid said, wrapping Xander in his arms. He felt his lover stiffen and laughed. "Relax, only very special people can see us." He let Xander go, kissing him on the tip of the nose. "Now, go get what you and Dawn want and I'll buy." He smiled at the happiness in his boy's eyes. "Hurry up. I need to go see Dawn soon." He manifested to everyone, but hid his wings. He looked Derek over, then nodded. "Good. We're very glad you're here. Grandpa is not playing fair and Mom's about to bust a vein." He followed Xander through the store, smiling when he made the big stop at the nuts and through the fruit aisles. He laughed at the chocolate popsicles that made it into the cart, then grabbed some of the fruit bars he liked too. He mentally yelled for his lover to bring him his wallet and some cash, and felt it appear in his back pocket. When he took it out, it was just paper. So he yelled for his father to come *bring* him some, explaining what was going on. By this time, they were headed for the checkout. He saw Ares walk in and gave him a smile of thanks as the man walked past him, slipping him some cash. "Thanks, Dad," he called after him, earning a head shake from the ultra-cool looking Ares.
The cashier looked at him, then at Ares' rear as it walked away. "He's your daddy?" she asked. Cupid nodded. "Is he free?"
Cupid chuckled. "No, he's a very demanding lover. He expects all sorts of worship." He nudged Xander. "Unlike mine, who happens to demand the right to worship me." Xander blushed. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Xander said, letting Cupid pay for the groceries, grabbing one of the cheesy magazines at the last moment. "For the bathroom in the tub," he explained, tossing it onto the pile.
Cupid hugged him. "I promise, you'll have something to do tonight in the bath." He handed over the money, giving the cashier a happy smile. "He likes me."
"Those are always the best relationships," she agreed, handing him back the change. She watched his butt leave the store, then turned to hurry through the next customer at the cough from the manager.
Xander flopped down into his chair at the table, looking at the bills that had mysteriously appeared there while he had been gone. "Why do I have to pay property taxes?" he asked Joxer, who had come to join him. "And where did this bill come from? I thought I had paid the water bill through next year when I lost my job."
"I think I have an idea why things are starting to mess up," Joxer told him calmly. "We're looking into it. Just relax, Xander. Now, what sort of job are you looking for?"
"I'd like something I can do," he noted dryly. Joxer pinched him. "Sorry, but there's so many things I can't do. I'm not great with computers. I'm more of a physical labor guy, even though I hate it."
"Hmm." Joxer looked through the stack of papers he had found upstairs in the lounge, then grabbed something from the local job office, flipping through it. "Here's one," he said, handing the book over. "Carpenter."
"I checked, they wanted more experience. And the lady down there told me it had been filled last week." Xander flipped through the book, frowning at all the entries that he was qualified for. "She said that they didn't have anything."
"It appears this is just another thing that's going wrong in your life," Joxer told him, staying calm. He was going to have a discussion with Strife soon. Maybe Strife's mother too. "Is there anything in there that strikes you?"
"Yeah, a few," Xander said, writing down the information on all of them, putting stars next to the ones he really liked the sound of. "Okay, I'm done," he said, handing the book back, and away it went. "Do you really think that this has something to do with why I fell earlier?"
Joxer nodded. "I really do. There's something at work here and I'm not sure what. I will find out what though. Don't worry about that." He patted Xander's hand. "Are there any that you can call about right now?"
"No, but I've got a few for tomorrow. If the phone works." He picked up and threw the balled- up phone bill. "That was another one that I paid in advance. If someone's screwing with my money, I'd like to gut them personally."
"We'll see what's happened, then we'll plan for justice." He stood up. "You should probably go rest. I'll be back in a little while." He disappeared, heading to find Strife and ask him what was going on.
Xander grabbed the trashy magazine and went to run himself a bath. He always thought best in the water.
Strife picked up the cup he had been drinking from and threw it across the room. "How *dare* he," he hissed. "Messin' with *my* area!" He stood up and looked around the room. "Where's Cupie? Has he heard yet?"
"No, not yet," Joxer told him. "Are you sure this isn't your mother?"
"Nah," Strife said, waving the idea off. "She likes Xander, thinks of him as a new son-in-law. She'd never hurt him after he gave up part of his soul to bring me back." He started to pace. "We've got to answer this like the challenge it is. Has anyone else had any problems?"
"Cupid did earlier," Joxer admitted. "It seems he decided he wanted to spoil Xander by buying him a lot of groceries. When you sent him money, it came out as blank paper. Ares had to go hand him some cash so it couldn't be changed." Strife shook his head. "I wasn't sure if you had heard about that yet."
"No, but that makes me doubly sure who's behind it. Who else could screw with another God's work?" He frowned around the small room in another worshiper's house. "I've got to answer this challenge. He's fucking with my happy life."
"Strife, is everything okay?" a female voice called.
"Not really," he called back. She stuck her head in the door, showing that her hair was six different colors and almost everywhere that could be pierced was. "Someone's messin' with one'a you guys. I'm about to go rumble." He created a jacket and put it on, then nodded at Joxer. "We'll be back tomorrow. Keep it warm for me." He blew her a kiss and then left, Joxer following him back to Olympus. "Oh, shitbag!" he called as he walked into the meeting area. Zeus stared down at him impassively. "Yeah, you. You fucked with my area."
"Strife, I've always had some of your powers. It's my right as King of the Gods."
"Yay," Strife said. "This is the fair warnin' I always promised ya. You fucked with what's mine. The rumble's on and you're goin' down." He glared at Hera as she materialized. "Did he tell you about using my powers?" he asked her.
She shook her head. "No, but it doesn't surprise me. You starting a fight with another of us does. You should know better."
"Then make him stop, or I'll make him sorry." Strife bowed to her and then left the area, going to the mortal plane. Zeus couldn't touch him down there, not directly. And his first stop was to ward Xander and Dawn so he couldn't touch them directly either.
Strife was lying beside Xander as he woke up, so he smiled over at his Godly friend. "Hey," Xander said sleepily, snuggling in. "Joxer found out that the job lady lied. I've got interviews today." He rubbed his face on the tense, pale chest. "What's wrong?" he asked when Strife didn't even touch him.
"Just thinkin' about how to do Zeus in for what he did to you," Strife said quietly. Xander lifted up his head to look at him. "He's pissed me off, he touched what's mine."
Xander kissed him gently. "Then let me help." Strife shook his head. "But you said I'm good at planning stuff."
"And you are, but this has got to be really more spontaneous. If he sees it comin' then he'll deflect it and I'll get hurt." He pulled Xander back down, hugging him tightly.
A plan formed in Xander's mind. He would have time to help his lovers later. Some outside help might not be so bad. For now, he snuggled in and let Strife hit the snooze button on the alarm clock.
Xander walked into the grove that was the site of his worse defeat and sat down in front of one of the flower gardens. He started to pull the little weeds, praying to Demeter as he did so. This was one of her sacred groves, his mother had once prayed here. Maybe it would make her notice him.
"Not the ones with the feathery tops," a soft female voice said from behind him.
Xander looked over at her, smiling because he remembered her from the night of the fight. "Lady Persephone. I was hoping to talk to your mother." He carefully pulled another weed. "I think I need some help that's a little stronger than my lovers. They're thinking emotionally."
She sat down beside him. "My mother is aware of the situation but she's decided to stay out of it."
He turned to face her. "My mother was one of her priestesses for a while," he said quietly. "All I really wanted to do was to ask for her to stick up for my guys. I realize that it's putting her in a difficult spot, but if I lose them, then I'm gone. I *need* them in so many ways, if only for companionship."
Demeter appeared sitting on the bench underneath her tree. "And why should I help you? There are great risks to me if I side against Zeus and he wins."
Xander turned to look at her. "Lady Demeter, I know I'm not one of yours, but you must know what love is like. I love them, all, with everything in me." He looked at her daughter again. "I've heard that you weren't fond of her relationship, but maybe you can see the same sort of love in her that I have."
Demeter smiled. "Where did you hear that?"
"All the mythology books. Though I'm assuming that you've settled it somewhat since your daughter was first taken away from your care."
Demeter nodded. "We have, mostly. I'm still not fond of her husband, but I do understand her desire for him." She looked him over, then motioned him closer, touching him on the forehead. She frowned but sat silent for a few minutes. "What would be in it for me?"
"What would you have me do?" Xander answered.
"Would you leave one of them?"
Xander shook his head. "I can't and I won't. Besides the fact that it would negate the reason I'm here, it would destroy all the joy in my life. They bring such happiness into my life, all four of them."
"What about Joxer and Ares?" Persephone asked. "We've heard you were with them."
Xander smiled and shook his head. "I think of Ares like the father I've always needed. He praises me when I do good, he listens to my ideas when we have a big problem and I have to plan an assault. There could never be anything there, nothing more than a serious case of worship because he's seriously like the father I always wanted." He grinned. "Joxer and I are buddies. He, Strife, and I all go get into trouble together." He saw Demeter's frown. "Nothing major. Sometimes we go tease straight guys in bi bars. Sometimes we just cruise around town and heckle some of the people." He shrugged, looking down at his dirty hands. "They're friends, and I don't want to give them up either. They've been there in ways that my friends haven't since I fought Hercules and Xena." He looked at Demeter again. "We were all changed by that night. I changed *so* much and most of my old friends can't really see that. Besides Dawn, they think I'm going through some phase, but I'm *not*. All I want is a decent job and lovers. I'll be happy then."
Demeter smiled. "Would you plant some of my sacred plants at your house?"
"Sure, if you teach me how to keep them alive," he said quickly. "I haven't had the best record with plants. I've killed a Wandering Jew plant before," he explained at her amused look. "I think that's one skill that skipped a few generations."
She shook her head, but she looked amused. "That's fine. I'll give you ones even you shouldn't be able to kill." She looked him over. "Does your mother know you're here?"
He shook his head. "I told her about meeting my guys and she freaked so I've left her out of the loop for the longest time." He slumped a little. "She wouldn't understand."
"I know, but it's good to have some support."
Xander looked up at her, his eyes dark and sad. "If they're forced to leave me, this town is going to go up with Zeus in it," he told her calmly. "No one's taking them from me." He leaned over and kissed the back of her hand. "Whenever you want me to plant something, come see me. I've got a nice corner with some light in it." She nodded and he left.
Demeter looked at her daughter. "I've seen that same look in your eyes when I tried to take you away from Hades," she said quietly.
"Then you'll help him?" Persephone asked.
Demeter nodded. "Definitely. I may be a semi-virgin Goddess, and him nowhere near that ideal, but no one deserves to have that sort of pain." She held out a hand to her daughter and they disappeared, all the 'weeds' replanted back into their herb garden.
Xander walked into his warehouse and gently closed the door. Then he turned around and attacked the door, kicking and hitting it.
"Problems?" Ares asked from the table. He put down his newspaper.
"I didn't get the jobs," he said sullenly. He trudged over and sat down. "It went really bad. They didn't even look at my resume, they looked at my age and asked why I wasn't doing 'more with my life'," he said snarkily, using finger quotes around the important part. "I told them that college wasn't for everybody, that I'd rather be working. No one thought that was very smart."
Ares nodded. "Some people think that they know best for the whole world." He pushed his paper out of the way. "Why did you go talk to Demeter?"
"To ask for her support. My mother used to be one of hers." Ares nodded. "They're not mad, right?" he asked hesitantly.
Ares shook his head. "Not at all. Hephaestus was confused, but I think he'll understand." He patted Xander on the head. "You'll make it, kid. Don't worry so much." Xander looked up at him. "By the way, there's a whole stack of letters from all those bill places again today. I think they're good news though. Strife looked happy when they got here." He smiled when Xander relaxed. "Good boy. What else did you have planned for today? Or for the assault for that matter?"
"For the assault, I just thought we could use some more support, maybe someone in the background. As for now, I've still got to find a job. At least the phone still works."
"And there's food in the kitchen. 'Dite's feeling maternal after spending all day with Dawn." He yawned and stretched backward. "As for me, I've been listening to idiots all day. No one these days understands the benefits of small group combat. I can take five people and teach them to take over a country. These mortal generals think that they need bombs and tanks, and too many soldiers."
"You only need five people to take over a country?" Ares nodded, looking at the boy. "I would have thought ten or so, just to cover all the bases in the branches of the government."
Ares shrugged. "If you do it right, you don't have to worry about the judicial branch, and most countries don't have real houses of Congress. You can do it with five if you know what you're doing and you've planned it. Ten people would work for most of the industrialized nations though, you're right. Maybe eleven to be safe, in case someone chickens out or gets the flu." He patted Xander on the head again. "Good thinking." Xander smiled. "Now, what were you thinking? And how were you going to get Zeus here and blow him up?"
Xander grimaced. "That last part, I'm not so sure of, but I bet I could do it. Maybe I'd piss him off or something." He looked at his mentor. "I have no idea yet, but I will if it becomes necessary."
Ares chuckled. "Good, I thought you had already planned to lose." Xander shook his head fiercely. "Then what have you planned?"
"Strife won't let me help. I just thought I'd get some support outside of the group. Maybe they could talk to some of the others. I don't know how things really work up there, but from what mythology reported everything is a political tug-of-war. I hate causing another one, but I'm still not giving them up."
"Good, stick to that and everything will be fine. The stronger you believe, the more power you give to your four and your friends." Xander nodded, giving him a serious, but adoring look. "Good boy. Just remember that you love them, no matter what."
"Is Zeus going to pick up the pace of trying to ruin my life?"
Ares nodded. "Probably. He can't lose, he'll lose everything if he does." He patted Xander one last time then stood up. "Cupid will be right down. 'Dite's got a function tonight."
"Oh, yeah, Dawn's prom is tonight," Xander sighed. "I forgot. I would have liked to have gotten a picture of her in her gown."
"Aphrodite helped her get ready. I'm sure there are plenty of pictures." He waved and walked off, disappearing after a few steps.
Xander slumped down some. He really wanted to be doing something about this. He hated having to sit around and wait. A book appeared in front of him and he grinned at it, opening it to flip through the new job openings. Sunnydale was always losing people so there were always openings.
Dawn twirled, sent off into a spin by her best friend, and caught sight of someone standing against the wall. "Spike followed me to the prom?" she muttered, then she laughed as her friend poked her. "Look who's here," she said, pointing at him. She gathered up her dark purple full skirt and trotted over to him.. "Hey, Spike, aren't you bored?"
Spike looked her over, then leered. "Of course. You look tasty tonight."
Dawn giggled. "Of course I do. Aphrodite helped me get ready." She dodged some drunk boy's hands and kicked him out of her way. "Want to take a turn on the floor?"
"Sure," Spike said, letting her lead the way out to the edge of the dance floor. "Used to do this for my Dark Princess. She loved to dance." He frowned at the choice of music, but went with the slow ballad.
Dawn started to get prickly feelings and glanced around, then up at her dance partner. Definite prickly/wrong feelings. She saw another friend heading towards the snack table so waved at her. "I'll be back," she said.
"No, stay for the whole dance," Spike grumbled. "It's rude to leave your partner in the middle of a dance."
Dawn started thinking of Aphrodite, who had promised to be listening for her tonight. She just hoped the point got through. As the song started to stop, Dawn felt herself being relocated. She fought against it, but there was no fighting when a God wanted you to be somewhere else. She landed in a small cave, in front of an older man, and Spike was gone. "And you are?" she asked coldly. "I was enjoying myself and I'd like to go back there."
Zeus laughed. "You'll go back soon enough, little girl. Until then, I believe we should talk." He tried to grab her arm but she moved it away. "Oh, spirited, I like that in a young woman."
"Eww!" she said in her best 'hello' voice. "Not going to do that, not into old guys. Sorry." She crossed her arms, bringing out her best 'Buffy' attitude. "I want to go home. Either take me home or I'm going to start complaining to my God, Cupid."
"And what will that little boy do?" Zeus asked coolly. "He's but a babe compared to me."
"Yeah, but he's a decent God, people like him. *I* like him. Touch me and you're interfering with a chosen mortal and priestess in training. He told me you can't do that without consequences." Zeus sneered at her. "Oh, and by the way, I've also told Xander's Gods where I am. I'm sure one of them heard me."
"Yes, I did," Ares said, appearing behind Dawn, putting his hands on her bare shoulders. "You okay, kid? He didn't hurt you?" She shook her head, looking up at him. "Good. Let's get you back to your prom and then I'm going to come have a *talk* with my father." He took her back, bringing her fallen wrap as an afterthought once they were back in the gym. "You stay here, call someone to give you a ride home," he told her, then he walked out of the gym and disappeared.
Dawn shivered, grabbing her wrap and pulling it close around her shoulders. Someone tapped her on the shoulder and she jumped, but it turned out to be one of the chaperones with a glass of punch and an understanding look. "Sorry, flashback," she said, taking the punch and heading for a seat in a corner where she could put her back to the wall.
Ares reappeared in the cave and faced his father. "You know better. You can't touch a chosen mortal or a priestess. You did both by kidnapping her."
"And you're going to do what?" Zeus asked.
"Stop this," a tired female voice said from the back of the cave. An older, grandmotherly woman walked out of the shadows, smiling at them both. "I've had enough, children. Zeus, you were wrong and you broke laws. Ares, why are you involved in this matter?"
"Because the boy is under my protection. He's very good at protecting his town, does it like Joxer used to." He gave her a wry look. "The kid reminds me of Joxer, and the boy thinks of me like a father figure." He looked at Zeus. "Therefore, I'm going to act like one."
"No, this will end!" Gaia said firmly. She slapped Zeus as hard as she could. "With all that's happened in the world, you continue to act like nothing's changed. Well, it has. Get over it already. Move on with the flow of time or get off the planet." She glared at Ares. "You, no more revenge plans from your House."
"That's all Strife. Zeus used the powers of Strife's office to fuck up Strife's lover's life." Her face soured. "You'd like the boy, Auntie. He's very strong willed. Very dedicated to all four of them."
"It's unnatural!" Zeus yelled.
"And you sleeping with a cow wasn't?" Ares asked. "Or a rock, or a goat, or a tree after you turned that one woman into one? If that doesn't define unnatural, I don't know what does." He crossed his arms. "Auntie, we'd be more than happy to stop this thing against Zeus if he would reverse all the problems he's caused and forever leaves Xander and his lovers alone. Xander loves them more than his own life. He's willing to *kill* for them so they can stay with him."
Gaia sighed. "I know that sort of love. Has Aphrodite verified this?"
"She's one of his lovers," Ares said with a smirk. "Her, her husband, and Cupid have joined Strife. It's so cute it's nauseating some days. But it is love." He glared at Zeus. "I know what it feels like to lose that sort of love. Fortunately, Joxer was able to wake up finally." He sent a bolt of energy through the Hephaestian collar making Zeus jerk in pain. "I will not allow anyone to go through the *hell* I went through when Joxer went to sleep," he hissed.
"Ares," Gaia said quietly. "I know you suffered, but you can't take it out on him. It wasn't his fault that time." She walked over and gave him a short hug. "I do understand." She looked back at Zeus. "You have proven that you can't keep up with the times. I call a judgement council!" she yelled, and the cave vibrated around them.
Joxer appeared with Hephaestus, nodding at the mother Goddess. "I will hear his case," he said formally. "Do we do this here?"
Gaia shrugged. "If we could get everyone here, then I wouldn't mind." She used her power to wrap some of the rock around Zeus' ankle. "Wherever you decide, Joxer."
Joxer looked around then waved a hand, creating a large, open portal to the meeting area, where everyone else was. "As he's confined here, we'll do this here," he announced. The other Gods all settled down. "Who has a case against this man besides Ares charge?"
Hera stood up and so did Strife. "I do," they said together.
"In tandem?" Gaia asked, slightly shocked at the unusual pairing.
Hera shook her head. "No, I have a personal charge. Strife has a charge of abuse of power." She shifted so she could be seen through the portal. "I charge that Zeus has kept me in a marriage of slavery to hold his position stable, and in doing so has damaged the whole pantheon's reputation and ability to heal after the long time gone from the world."
Strife coughed, then straightened up. "I charge that Zeus did use the powers of my office to mess with my chosen mortal's life to the point where he's ready to start a war with Olympus." He grimaced at the shocked looks. "What? He loves us *that* much. Even me!"
"Sweetie, some of us had no doubt about that," Aphrodite said kindly, coming into the picture. "I second Strife's charge. Hephaestus can also."
"So can I, and I can second Ares'," Cupid said as he appeared in the cave. "You touched my mortal and priestess. I'll make you so sorry you never get laid again."
Gaia glared at him. "Not now, Cupid. Behave like an adult or leave this council." Cupid backed off and the Mother Goddess looked at the assembled Gods. "Are there any other charges?"
"I have one," Joxer said quietly, "but it would be inappropriate." He looked at Zeus. "I'm sure he knows all about Vengeance being born, his mother said that she hadn't touched anyone in years prior to giving birth." He squeezed the hand Ares forced into his fist. "Other than that, are there any other charges?" No one said anything. "Then I will hear evidence." He created a seat for all of them but Zeus and sat down. "Who first? Hera, can you prove your accusations?"
"I can offer no tangible proof, but I do have emotional proof," she told him. "I can also offer proof that none of us are as strong as we could be because of his decision."
Joxer nodded. "Though I understood why he acted to let the mortals move on with their lives, I do happen to agree that his was not the best plan. Strife, do you have any physical evidence?"
"Oh, hell yeah," Strife said, materializing a stack of bills. "These are Xander's bills, and the ones from the month before this one. He prepaid all his bills so he wouldn't get into trouble and have stuff shut off, and guess what happened? The extra seemed to disappear for a few weeks, showing that he owed them all money when he didn't." He laid the bills on the floor, letting Joxer take them. "I also offer the evidence of Xander's interviews earlier. All of his possible employers were touched by Zeus' powers and I can only state that that's why Xander wasn't given a job." Joxer nodded. "I can also offer the point that Zeus let Hercules and Xena go to harass my boy. I know that's a prior case, but it proves he's been doin' this for a while now."
Joxer looked at him. "It does establish a pattern of behavior." He looked through the bills, frowning when he came to one. "He does owe the phone company, that safety cushion is gone," he said, waving that one. He sent them back to Strife and looked at Ares. "You offered another, even more serious charge. Repeat it for the rest to hear."
"I charge Zeus with kidnapping and attempted harming of a chosen mortal and priestess-in- training of Cupid's," Ares said coldly. "He did have Dawn stolen from her prom by a substitute for one of her friends. He was trying to intimidate and touch her when I heard her prayers and came to rescue her." He straightened up and let go of Joxer's hand. "I do charge him with two counts of trying to interfere with a God's link to their chosen mortal, one for each mortal we know he has tried to harm."
Joxer nodded. "I will think on this and scan the accused." He reached forward and touched Zeus's bare arm, shuddering from the contact. When he pulled back, he was frowning. "He is guilty, but for reasons different than those that I would have thought. He will be confined and showed about the present reality."
"I will take care of him," Gaia said quietly, startling everyone. Joxer looked at her. "I do have a plan in mind and I will keep track of him by binding him to the earth, even though he will walk among mortals."
Joxer looked at the accusers. "Will that sit with you?" Everyone nodded. "Then do so," Joxer told her. "You have my blessing to punish the man, as you have my blessing to have the collar tightened until it has taken all of his powers away. He is hereby sentenced for a term of ten years on the mortal realm, to be carried out by Gaia's generosity." He clapped and Zeus disappeared, Gaia going with him. "Was there other business before us?"
"Who'll be king now?" Artemis asked.
"We have a queen, we don't need one," Joxer told her. "Hera, I charge you with the subtle and productive ruling of Olympus. There will be *no* reason for me to be called on your behalf," he ordered. "I have spoken, and Justice is a fundamental force of life, not to be abridged." Everyone walked away as soon as he said the formal words of ending the hearing. Joxer turned to look at his lover. "Does that satisfy you?"
"Mostly. I'm not sure Zeus is really going to be able to see the world as it is."
Joxer grinned. "She told me what she was going to do to him, he'll see it." He looked through the portal. "Strife, go help Xander fix this situation and tell him about the phone bill." He decreated the portal and grabbed Ares, kissing him hard. Ares, being himself, went right along with it. The bench got a little wider and Joxer allowed himself to be rolled under the stronger body, giving up control readily. He always enjoyed a dominant Ares.
Strife popped into the bedroom of Xander's warehouse, and then snuck into bed behind his mortal. "It's done, he's been punished," he whispered as he pulled Xander closer. The sleeping man snuffled in his sleep and rolled into the comforting embrace. "I'm gonna fix all the fuckups," he promised, smiling as Aphrodite appeared beside the bed. "I wanted to get a head-start."
She waved a hand. "Not the issue, sweetie. We like you two together." She waved away her clothes and climbed in on the other side of Xander, giggling as the boy's butt moved backwards to touch her stomach. "I think he wants cuddled."
"Hey, cuddling we can do," Cupid said as he appeared, climbing in behind Strife.
Hephaestus took the direct route, landing under Xander's limp form. "This okay for everyone?" he asked. Everyone grunted and grabbed their piece of Xander.
The homeless man scared the mortals he jumped out in front of and grabbed, they flinched away from him. But he told them about how unfair the Gods were anyway, and why they needed to pray to someone else, not to him. The woman pulled out her mace spray and hit him, then they ran away.
Zeus wiped off his face, glaring after the woman. Why didn't anyone believe him? Why didn't anyone believe he was who he said he was? And what was he going to do to those that had put him in this predicament. He blended back into the shadows as one of those black and white carriages started down the street, he had been told that they were full of people who would hurt him. He couldn't take any chances. As soon as they had passed, he was back out, trying to get through to anyone. Someone had to believe him and help him. He couldn't stay on the streets like this, it wasn't seemly.
Xander woke up warm, comfortable, and touched. He looked around at his bedmates, his eyes only half open, but he smiled and put his head back down. "As long as nothing's wrong," he mumbled, quickly going back to sleep.
Strife woke up and looked at the innocent face, smirking at it. "You look like such a softy," he whispered, pinching the small love handle. Xander blinked at him then blew a kiss. "Hey, you up for some good news?" Xander nodded, rubbing his face on Hephie's chest. "Zeus was called before Joxer. Gaia's taking him to task. He's got ten years as a mortal."
Xander yawned. "S'good," he mumbled, leaning over to steal a kiss. "I have a job."
"Congrats," Aphrodite said through a yawn. She snuggled in closer to her husband and lover. "Doing what?"
"Working at a custom kitchen place. I start next week." Xander grinned stupidly at Strife and Cupid. "You all came to sleep with me?"
"Yup. We love ya, stupid," Strife said, pinching him again.
"Hey! Can't retaliate, not fair." Xander shifted over, landing on top of Strife's chest, letting Cupid get his fill of full cuddles. "Comfy?" he asked, starting to go back to sleep.
"Hi-ya!" Dawn yelled downstairs, and there was a thump.
"It's early!" Xander yelled. "I'm cuddling!"
"Yay, I'm working on my self-defense," she called back.
"Keep it down, dear," Aphrodite yelled, then she winked at Hephie, who had just opened his eyes.
"It's nearly noon!" Ares yelled up the stairs. "Get up already."
"Yeah, he got me up at eight," Dawn called, jogging up the stairs. She stopped to take in the picture, giggling when Cupid waved one wing at her. "Gee, I guess someone got lucky last night," she said dryly.
"Yup. We fought the evil guy and got you both free of him for at least ten years," Cupid told her. "Go make coffee, Dawn. I'll show you that tongue thing if you do."
"Alright then!" she said, going to make them coffee.
Ares trotted up the stairs, stopping to look at the group. He shook his head. "Aw, but they look cute!" Joxer said as he appeared behind Ares, giving him a hug. "Guys, you still have to participate in the rest of the world."
"People got their morning nooky," Aphrodite said, waving a hand. "It's all good." She put her head down on Hephie's chest and snuggled into his hard body. "We'll be up soon enough."
Xander snored into the warm, and now damp, flesh of Strife's shoulder.
"Ah, love," Ares said, smirking at Strife, who was grimacing at the drool running down his chest. He took Joxer downstairs before anyone could say anything to them.
Strife nudged Xander, who grumbled and shifted, making them both hard. "Hey," Strife tried again.
Xander put his hand around Strife's cock and started to work it slowly. "Sleepy. I'll go down on you later," he mumbled, continuing to work his lover off.
"Now *that's* a good lover," Cupid said, smiling at his lover. "He thinks about you even when he's asleep."
"Aww, how cute," Dawn said as she came up the stairs with a tray full of mugs. "I didn't know you could do that in your sleep."
Cupid nodded, taking the first mug. "Yup, definitely. Strife used to suck on everything when he was younger." He grinned at Hephaestus, who had snorted. "Mom said you used to try and breast feed in yours."
Aphrodite looked at the young woman. "How was the prom, besides the obvious?" she asked as she took her mug of coffee.
"Pretty good. I danced. I managed to get the pizza sauce out of the dress." She shrugged. "I made out with a friend, who was pretty stunned to find out that girls kiss like me." She grinned. "I think she's hot for me."
"That's my girl," Cupid said proudly. "Did you get into an orgy?"
"Nope, just a small grope session with a few of my friends. We were all kinda tipsy by then." One of Xander's eyes opened and stared at her. "I didn't *drink*, Xander. Someone spiked the punch." She looked around. "Speaking of Spike, was that him last night?"
Strife shook his head. "Not at all. He's with the old dude. They were reminiscin' about the decade when everyone had bad tastes."
"Ah, the seventies," Ares said, coming back up. "Sorry, got to steal Dawn, she hits like a girl."
"That's because I *am* one, Uncle Ares," she said smartly, but she followed him back down to the open area near the door.
Xander sat up, straddling Strife's body, and grabbed Aphrodite's cup of coffee, drinking it quickly. He shuddered but both eyes finished opening. "Is everything okay?" he asked when everyone stared at him.
"You're one brave man," Hephaestus said seriously. "No one steals coffee from her usually."
"But I give her a better wake up," Xander smirked.
"Not this morning," she pointed out.
Xander tossed the cup onto the floor and buried his head between her thighs, making her giggle and squeal.