Title: The Price You Pay Sometimes.
Series: part 6 of the Destiny's Childe Series.
Author: Voracity
email: voracitys@hotmail.com
Archive: sure, if you really want to.
Rating: R
Fandom: Buffy
Pairing: Xander/Oz

Disclaimer: I know not who owns these people or wherefore they doth reside so I'll just drop a not mine here, sorry I've always been confused over ownership (creators, and directors, and producers, oh my!)

Summary: Oz gets majorly sick and Xander copes the best he can.

The Price You Pay Sometimes by Voracity

Xander woke up, stretching. He turned around, looking around in confusion when his arms didn't hit another body. "Oz?" he called softly. He didn't get an answer so he tried their little bond thingy. //Um, Oz, are you running away?// He smiled at the snort that came through. //You okay?//

//Yeah, just wanting privacy,// the older teen sent back.

//Um, okay, I'm gonna go take a shower then.// He crawled out of his sleeping bag, going over to the bag of most commonly used stuff and pulling out the little shower bag. He made a gross face as he felt the pain over their link, and the straining that went with it. "Too much information," he muttered, crawling to the side door and getting out, heading for the campground showers. He was in the middle of washing his back when a feeling of relief came over him, making him grab a wall so he didn't fall over. When he was steadied, he hurried out to the bathroom to let it all go.

Xander walked out of the showers, heading for the spot where the van was parked, frowning when he didn't see it. "Okay," he said slowly, checking around to make sure that he was in the right spot, not an uncommon problem he'd had. When he figured out he was in the right spot, he scrunched up his face. //Oz? Are you dumping me?// He didn't get an answer so turned around slowly, looking at all the other open camping spots. //Um, Oz?// he tried again, louder. He felt a faint twinge across his mind, a hint of pain. //You okay?// He didn't get an answer so headed for the office, hoping that Oz had at least driven by there. He was halfway down the not-quite two-lane road when he found the van off to the side, tilting. He ran over to it, opening the driver's side door to check his friend over. "Oz, man, what's wrong?"

The older teen moaned. "Hurts," he said, sitting up. "Stomach."

Xander nodded, stepping back to look at the situation of the van. He shrugged and got in, sliding Oz over to the other seat with a grunt, and sat down to get them out of there. After the third rock of the heavy wheels, the van hit the pavement again, heading down the road. "Is it something you ate?" A small nod. "Okay, hospital?"

"A Quick Care sort of place, cheaper," was the quiet reply, just before the older teen rolled down the window to throw up out it.

The younger man shuddered, making a face. "Your call," he muttered, pulling out the brochure the campground had given them. He stopped at the intersection, flipping through it, then back to the map at the back, then back to the page. He pulled out onto the not-busy larger road, heading out to the bigger main road where he hoped he could find the place.


"Food poisoning?" Xander asked, worried. "But we've had the same things and I'm not sick."

"Not," Oz called, sitting up with some help from the doctor. "Hamburgers yesterday. You weren't hungry."

The younger man nodded. "True, mine's in the cooler." He tipped his head to the side. "Did you eat it?" He got a small head shake. "Then it must have been caused by that." He looked at the doctor. "Do you need my burger to look at?" He got a nod so jogged out, coming back in with the small wrapped package to hand off. He stood beside his friend, rubbing his back. "What do I need to do for him?"

"You need to let him sleep for the next few days," the doctor said. She handed over a small box of pills. "He told me you guys were on a roadtrip so I'm assuming that you don't have much money. This sample needs to be taken twice a day, with a small amount of food, for the next five days. One section per dose please. I want him to rest so you can go be on your own for a few days." She got mixed responses, a head shake from Xander and a nod from Oz. "Don't argue with him, he's the sick one."

Xander shrugged. "Okay, if that's what you want, Oz, I'll leave you alone and go do stuff." He rubbed over the tense back. "Come on, let's get you back to the campground so you can sleep. We'll stop to pick up some soft munchies on the way." He helped the older teen off the table, leading him out to the van and getting him settled, getting pushed away when he tried to buckle him in. "Okay," he said, frowning. He walked around to the driver's side, getting in. "Supermarket's on the way. Then we'll get you set for the day."

"I don't think the campground's gonna do it now," the older man whined. He turned his head, letting it rest on the back of the seat. "Cheap motel?"

The younger man shrugged. "I'll ask at the supermarket. I'm sure someone there knows one." He pulled out onto the street, heading for the small grocery store he could see down the street. He parked and hopped out, heading inside to get the things he needed.

When he was standing in line at the checkout, he smiled his best pathetic grin at the lady behind the register. "Is there some sort of cheap motel around here? Some place kinda decent for a few days while I'm passing through?"

She popped her neck, looking up while she thought. "Well, there's the sex pit off the interstate but that can get expensive if you're around for a few days. The nearest one is in the next city, about thirty miles from here." She took the cash he handed her, making his change for him. "We really don't have any here. This place is too small for a real motel, even a sleazy one." She shrugged. "Sorry."

Xander nodded, picking up the bags. "That's okay, I can understand that. It's the same where I live." He grinned and walked out to the van, putting the bags in the back before getting behind the wheel. "Bad news. The nearest is in thirty miles unless we want to stay at somewhere like Nick's, which the cashier said would be expensive." He got a small nod. "You gonna be okay to travel that long?"

"Just let me go lay down," Oz said, getting into the back and getting into his sleeping bag. "Go for it. Just so long as it has a bathroom and a bed in the same twenty feet, I don't care."

The younger man shrugged, starting the engine. "Okay, the next city it is." He pulled out onto the street, heading for the interstate on-ramp.


Xander looked at the motel in disgust. "You sure?"



"Whatever," Oz said, leaning back in the seat. He opened his eyes and looked up, his face showing disgust too. "Not here. Please, just somewhere decent." He looked at the younger man. "Where's the next place on the list?"

Xander looked down at the list in his lap, shaking his head. "Last one." He flipped over the paper. "Got a few 'by the hour' places but those can get expensive." He shrugged. "Your call, you're sick." He looked at the older teen.

"Got to find a hooker and ask her," Oz mumbled. "They'd know." He looked around, then got out, walking across the street to stop a young woman wearing very tight shorts and a halter top. They talked for a few minutes then he walked back, getting back in and buckling up. "Three blocks down, take a right, then two more blocks. On the left. Small place, clean, cheap." He closed his eyes as the van started. "They always know the better places," he said quietly.

"How do you *know* these things?" Xander asked in awe. He followed the directions, pulling quickly into the parking lot of the small motel and stopping before the office. "You wait here, I'll go check us in."

"Tell her Marta recommended us. It might get us a discount."

Xander just nodded, sliding out onto the asphalt and slamming the door so he could walk in. "Hey," he told the young girl behind the register. "We need a room, my friend's sick."

She pushed over a form, brushing her blonde hair behind her ears. "How'd you hear about us?" She smiled at him, leaning a little forward. "We don't really advertise."

"Well, to tell the truth," he said slowly, filling in the last line and handing it back, "my friend in the van found someone to ask. He said that she knew what she was talking about." He grinned bashfully. "I don't know how he comes up with his theories of life."

"Ah, Marta," she said, nodding. "Yeah, she's a regular customer. She lives here actually." She looked over her shoulder toward the sound of a television and someone moving. "If you guys could do just one bed, then it'd cost you less." She looked at the form. "I'd not tell and if he's sick, he won't. And Daddy, he don't mind men doin' that here, that's how we make most our money." She stood back up, depriving him of his view of her cleavage.

"Um, sure," he said, nodding, still stunned by the hint of naughty tattoo he had seen. "How much?" He shook his head. "For the room, how much for the room?"

"Thirty a night," she said, taking the money. "How long you guys staying?"

"Until he's better," Xander said. He took the key with a small grin and walked back to the van, getting in and pulling down before a room, stopping the van. "Hey, Oz? We're here. Time to get up and go inside." He nudged the firm shoulder then smiled when he heard the small snore. He got out quietly, heading around to the back to get their things and carry them inside, leaving the older man for last. He was on his last trip when the passenger's door slammed, alerting him that the short nap was over. "Morning," he said, dropping the last two bags of food. He pointed at the bed. "Climb in, I'm going to go see if I can't go find something to do for a few days so we don't run out of money."

"Why one bed?" Oz said, lying down across the covers with a sigh of pleasure. "Nice."

"Cheaper. The," he cleared his throat, "girl in the office," he blushed just a little, "gave it to us for thirty."

"You used the last of the stash then?" He looked up to see a nod, his hand stilling in its appreciation of the bed. "I don't need it that bad," he said, getting back up.

Xander pushed the older man back down, frowning at him. "Shut up and climb in. I'm going to go see if I can't find something to do to make sure that you can sleep for a few more days." He held up the key. "I have it so just lay there and relax." He closed the door behind him, smiling at the sound of the chain getting thrown as he got into the van. He pulled back out onto the street, looking down both sides, then picked the direction that he'd come. "Porn always has need of people for a day," he muttered, heading for the nearest shop. "Or maybe they'll he'll know one that does," he reasoned.


Oz woke up as the door was knocked on, getting up to trudge over and open it, after looking out of course. He frowned at the package of soup he could smell. "Tell me you didn't spend the last of the money on food when we have some," he said softly.

"Nope the girl in the office made you some soup." He set the bag down on the dresser, looking at the bed then at the older teen. "How'd you sleep?" When the door was still open, he walked over, closing it. "Oz? Bed, man, before you fall over." He led him back to the soft sleeping surface, grinning at the grunt from the falling body that he'd pushed onto it. "And no, we're not out of money anymore so relax." He pulled off his shoes, scratching his ankle.

"What did you find?" That got him an embarrassed blush. "Xan? Wanna share the knowledge as well as the soup?" The younger man turned around, getting him something to eat. "Tell me you're not doing something dangerous," he said, accepting a bowl and spoon. He looked into the deep brown eyes then grimaced. "What?" he asked tiredly.

"I'm just shelving movies and putting new ones into the booths and things. Nothing seriously bad." Xander sat down with his own bowl, sipping it slowly. "It's good, you should try it," he tossed over his shoulder. When there was no answer, he got up, turning on the tv to cover the silence.

Oz ate his soup, staring at the younger man's back. When he was done, he set the bowl onto the side table, moving up behind him and taking the empty bowl from his friend's hands to put on the floor. He laid his head on the firm shoulder, watching the tv too, noticing the scared expression in the mirror behind it. "What were you thinking?" he asked softly. "I don't want you to do something dangerous so I can nap in a soft bed. We coulda gone home instead."

"I'm not ready for home and you have another week of vacation left before you absolutely have to be back." The shoulder moved in a small shrug. "And I'm not doing something dangerous. I don't even come in contact with people. I just change tapes and stuff."

"Stuff?" He saw the embarrassed blush come back. "Stuff?" he repeated.

"Making sure that they leave the booths clean and that there's stuff that they need in there," the younger man muttered. He looked into the deep eyes in the mirror, frowning. "Not a word."

"No, I'm going to say something about this, I think I have the right as a friend." Oz pulled back, sitting back down and making the younger man look at him. "Xander, where you're at is dangerous. You don't know what that man will make you do. He could decide not to pay you if you don't do other stuff." The younger man shook his head. "Getting paid each day?" That got a nod. "Wise, but still dumb. He could still force you to do stuff for those people. Some of the guys that run those places can be pretty sleazy."

"It's a her and I'll be fine." He leaned over, resting on a firm shoulder. "Do you want me to stay up here with you or camp on the floor?"

"We could both use the bed, I don't want you to be uncomfortable," Oz said softly, running a hand through the thick hair, making it stand up a little. "Go take a shower and come lay down with me." He removed his hand, watching as the firm body stripped on the way into the small bathroom. "Oh, Xander," he sighed, laying back down, "this is so not good." He closed his eyes, still not liking it at all.

Xander leaned against the bathroom door, shaking his head. "I'm not telling him," he said softly. "Not a chance in hell." He looked down at his stomach, grimacing at the marks on it. "She needs a manicure," he said, climbing into the tub and starting the water.


Oz rolled over, not running into a body like he expected. He opened his eyes, looking around the darkened room, sniffing the air lightly. "Xan?" he called softly. The light in the bathroom was on, he could see it under the door, so he got up to head in there. He tapped lightly, frowning at the man bent over the sink. "You gonna be in here all night?"

Xander spit out his toothpaste. "Oz, it's morning. Go back to bed and I'll be back when you're awake again." He wiped off his mouth on the small towel, turning to face him. He frowned at the unmoving body. "Bed, Oz, you need to rest to feel better."

"Yeah, and you need to tell me what's really going on." The older teen crossed his arms. "And I mean really, not that nice story you told me last night."

"That's the truth," Xander said softly, walking over to touch his shoulder. "Want me to stay while you shower in case you fall?" He got a small head shake. "Okay, then I'm heading out for a fast food breakfast. The granola bars you like are in the bag beside the bed, try to eat one and don't forget your medicine." His hand moved up to the side of the older man's face. "It's nothing bad," he said softly. "You worry too much." He grinned slightly as he walked around him. "Night, Oz. Have a nice nap." He picked up the keys, walking out the door.

Oz sat down on the end of the bed, feeling very helpless. "Why do you do this to me when I can't protect you?" he asked the floor. "We shouldn't be here and I should be beside you, protecting you." He stood up, stretching. "I just have to get better so we can go." He headed for the bathroom, turning on the shower.


Xander leaned over the bed, grinning at the still body on it. "Oz," he said softly, then made an 'oomph' sound as he was pulled down beside the older man. "Morning," he said, handing over the slightly squished fast food bag. "Food?"

"Yeah, I'm feeling better." Oz sat up, opening the bag, holding down his nausea at the smell of the chicken. "You eat it, I had a few bars earlier." He handed the bag back, watching as the younger man ate heartily. "So, how was work?" he asked, running a hand over a suddenly tense leg. "Did something happen?"

"No," Xander said, swallowing quickly. "Not at all. It was just kinda long." He took another bite, looking his friend over. "How's your stomach?"

"Better. It's good enough for us to leave and start home." He grimaced at the head shake. "Yes, it is," he said. "It's my stomach and I should know."

"I know that but if you're still sleeping so much then it's not fine. And we do have a few more days of leeway." The younger man licked off his fingers, grimacing at the bitter taste on it. He picked up a napkin, wiping them off some more. "Want to watch tv?" His 'eep' was the only sound heard as the older man picked up his fingers to lick at them. He pulled his hand away quickly, standing up to pace. "What? Cleaning chemicals, just like I said."

"Just wanted a taste of the chicken." Oz watched the quickly moving body. "Why you so upset if it's just chicken and chemicals?" he asked softly, making the body stop in mid-step. "Come sit. Tell me."

"I found another one of Hila's crew, her sign out front had the symbol on it. She's running the store I'm working in." He took a deep breath, sitting down beside his friend to lean against his side. "And she likes me. I don't like her but she's taken a definite interest in me." He closed his eyes as the older man's hand was raised, sighing as it went into his hair. "I'm sorry, I should have told you that part but I knew you'd throw a fit."

"What is she doing to you?" Oz asked quietly, soothing him. He looked over the tense body. "Xan? An answer please?"

"Nothing much. Just a lot of hints and stuff." He pulled up his shirt, showing off the scratches on his stomach. "A simple spell yesterday." That got him a short hair pull. "I wasn't hurt, it was just a scratch to bring up some pain." He looked up into the worried gray eyes, nodding. "I'm fine," he whispered, clinging now. "I only have one more day that I said I'd be there." He laid them back down, snuggling down on the firm chest. "Then we can head back to our normal lives and stuff."

Oz sighed. "Xan, I don't want you to get hurt because of me. We can leave tonight."

"I have to be there tomorrow." The hand in his hair made him turn around to look up. "I promised," he said weakly.

"Is this something to do with the spell?" That got a small, more felt than seen, nod. "I'm coming in with you then."

"Then she'll try to coerce you into staying too." He covered his mouth. "Didn't say that," he mumbled. He was rolled off as the older man sat up, scowling at him. "What? It's just words and those I can ignore."

"You're not going back," Oz said, very firm now in his convictions. "I don't care what'll happen to her if you don't." He saw the small pained look. "Or will it be you?" he guessed.

"Me," Xander said finally with a small sigh at the end. "I'm the physical part of it." He looked into the gray eyes, trying hard to get lost in them. "I'm helping her summon back up her love who ran away from her. He should be back tomorrow."

"And if he's not?" An eyebrow went up at the non-answer. "Xan, truth here please."

"Then the spell backfires and she'll be hurting, it won't be my fault." He shook his head, looking down at the carpet. "I only get stuck in the middle if I run right now." He coughed lightly. "But I also wasn't supposed to tell you."

"Let me guess, she knows Giles?" A small nod. "Did she threaten him?" Another small nod. "With?" No answer. "With?" he tried again, getting impatient.

"Contracting something to hurt him," was the soft, almost whispered reply. "She'll send that blue guy after him to get him." He looked up. "See, I have to stay. I didn't even know that she would make me help her do anything besides clean and do the movies and stuff." He went back to his watching the carpet. "And now I'm stuck."

"I'm coming in with you tomorrow," Oz said. That got him an immediate head shake, a frantic one, and his body being covered and laid on as he was pushed back into the mattress. "What?" he asked, wary now from the response.

"She'll think it's you because she never saw his face during their time together and I don't want you hurt," Xander whispered. "I've got it, just rest tomorrow and we'll be on the road the next day." He looked into the gray eyes, seeing the pain and frustration in them. "She won't hurt me, she's looking for the guy from that Halloween you met us."

"Ethan? She's looking for him?" Oz yelled, pushing the body off him. "You're summoning *him* to come back to her?" He looked at his friend. "How bad have you become? That man's dangerous!"

"I know!" Xander shouted. "Now please quit yelling," he said quietly. "I can leave anytime after noon tomorrow, just not until then. And I have to be in the store during those hours." He made a gross face then cleared it up. "He's not going to be there before then, so I'll be safe enough." He stood up, walking around the room. "I know it's bad but we needed to have the money. You needed to get better and we wouldn't have had enough to get back anyway, not with gas and stuff for the two days it'll take us."

"We didn't need it that much," Oz said hotly, kneeling on the bed to grab the moving body as it passed by him. He turned the younger man to face him, tipping the head down. "We didn't need it that much. I didn't need this bed that much for you do this." He stroked down an arm. "What else was there, I can tell you're still not being honest."

"I, um, saw the most amazing kid today. She was reading this dusty old tome and smiling." He shook his head. "In a very Giles-like manner." That got him a gasp. "I wasn't sure if I should mention it or not when we get back."

"He'd want to know," Oz said, letting go and leaning back. "Sit, Xan. Now." He waited until the order was followed, ignoring the 'not a dog' mumble. "Is she all right? Being hurt?" A small head shake. "How did you know?"

"She looks like him. Got the same hair and stuff." He lay down, shifting his head to make his hair lay right and not bother him. "It coulda been a miniature, girly him." He closed his eyes. "And I don't know what to say."

"You don't, I'll tell him." He picked up the tense, soft hand, working over it. "Relax. I'm not *that* upset with you. Not to do more than yell, which I've already done." The brown eyes focused on him. "We'll leave tomorrow when you can go, I'll wait in the van for you. At noon sharp you'd better be in the thing and we'd better be ready to go or else I'm coming in for you." That got him a small nod and a little smile. "I mean it. This is a bad situation and I don't want you involved in it." That got a bigger grin. "Hey, I care, shoot me." He leaned over, dropping the hand to lay his head on the firm chest, rubbing over the scratches. "I mean it. You'd better be out by then or else."

//I will be,// Xander sent. //If not, you'll know.// He grinned at the surprised look. "What?" he asked, that little impish twinkle coming back as a hand came up to run over the smooth, naked back of the older man. "I know you care, even if it's a moot point at the moment."

//It's never not a consideration in my life, Xan, so relax. We'll *discuss* this again while we travel home.// He looked into the dark eyes. "Won't we?"

"Sure, Oz, we'll discuss this on the way home." Xander lay down on the firm chest again, snuggling down into it. "How's the belly? Getting better?"

"Much. We won't need to stay any longer." He rubbed over the firm shoulders. "Want to cuddle?" he asked softly, not expecting the body above his to move.

"No, I want you to sleep, Oz, and I mean it. I can sleep on my own but you need to rest so we can make it home." The bed was patted and he shook his head. "No, not even." He looked at the single chair then the floor. "I'll sleep down here, you need uninterrupted sleep so we can leave in the morning." He made a startled noise as he was pulled back down, shaking his head. "Oz, just leave off the nice stuff, okay?"

"Nope, I need held. I'm feeling better but I don't sleep as well when I'm not being used as a pillow all night." The older teen wrapped his arms around the firm chest and squeezed lightly. "Now, nap with me." He closed his eyes, not letting go.

Xander sighed, feeling very safe and protected as he fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.


Oz looked up as the younger man walked over to the van, getting in. "Hey," he said. He checked his watch. "Done? You still have ten minutes."

"And he'll be here in five," Xander said, starting the van and pulling away. "Did you know that sometimes kids happen as a result of spells?" He glanced over at the older man as he choked. "You okay?"

"*The* kid?" He saw the small nod. "Oh, well, but still. I'd want to know."

"She said he does and that he's agreed to let her have the baby." Xander turned the van onto another street, heading back down to the motel. "I need to stop in and get something that I left in the room, you wait here." He hopped out, jogging into the office then down the walkway to the room.

Oz watched, checking his watch every few seconds to see how long it was going to take him. He grinned at the short five minute span as the younger man closed the door, dusting off his knees. He pulled his book up, pretending to read it. "So, good casting?" he asked once they were moving again.

"Yup," Xander said. "Very." He pulled out onto the interstate, speeding up as he headed off the ramp. "Home or do you want to kill that last day somewhere?"

"Hmm, not a big either way." He leaned the seat back, listening to the new music as it floated over the inside of the van. "Home, I miss Will."

"Me too," Xander said, "but I know you want cuddles so lets see how far we can get tonight before stopping."

"Where did you plan on doing that?"

"Um, LA actually." He grinned, turning on his blinker to change lanes. "We should get there around midnight. Then an easy trip the next day." He sped up some more, catching up to the average speed of the traffic around them. "Nap, Oz, it's a boring stretch of highway." He glanced over to see the older teen already asleep, small smile on his face. "Dream of Willow, man, she's waiting for you," he whispered, reaching down to switch tracks.


Xander grinned as he walked into Angel's office, jingling his keys in warning. He frowned at his ex-girlfriend as he walked past her since she didn't even look up. "Hey," he said, walking into the office. "We're back."

Angel started, turning around. "Oh, it's you. Nice trip?" He walked over to the desk, pulling out the top drawer and tossing over an envelope that jingled. He looked over the mortal, frowning. "What? You look disgusted at something." He checked himself then the window. "What?"

"I was just thinking back to something that Giles told me about the people that unlocked my gifts." He sat down in a chair. "And about that night you showed up for no reason to check on Oz and I." He raised an eyebrow, staying calm. "Anything you want to share since I know what she does with her usual students, including Dru by the way." He crossed his ankles.

"I told her no," Angel said, walking over to loom over him. He relented when he didn't get a response, going back to sit in his chair. "I told her one of us would end up dead and it'd be me." He smiled a little, mostly looking like self-depreciation. "She said that she'd had a few offers for you and that there was another promising candidate coming soon after." He looked into the brown eyes. "Ease your mind any?"

"On a few things but not on others." Xander leaned forward, picking up his keys. "That other student disappeared during lunch one day and hasn't been seen since and Hila was being very overprotective of me when I ran into her in San Francisco a few weeks back. I'd like to know what you know."

"Just that there were a few people that wanted to ask for you and she told me that I had first option, something about a prophecy."

"The ascension maybe?"

"Probably," Angel said, nodding, leaning back. "She told me that the other ones she wasn't too sure of since most of them would have to turn you to their sides."

"So, I'm a treat for them? Why?"

"Because something about you is unusual and no one can figure it out. I'm sure that she's given up on you by now, it's taken a bit too long and there's something different about you now." He looked him over. "What did you do?"

"A few spells, took part in one over the last few days while Oz was sick." Xander shrugged. "What do you see that's different?"

"More confidence," Cordelia said from the door, tossing her ex an envelope. "It came yesterday. I kept it for you." She walked back out to her desk.

"I'm guessing that you needed a connection?" Xander asked, nodding after his ex as he slit it open. He read the contents then frowned. "I'll be damned," he muttered, putting it into a pocket. He looked up, frowning. "What's so different, besides that?"

"I don't know, something a little less pure maybe." The vampire shook his head. "I can't tell, it's just *something*." He stood up. "Heading home?"

"Yeah, Oz is in the van waiting for me to come out. Is the car still in the same parking garage?" Angel nodded so he stood up, walking over to lean on the desk. "You'd tell me, right? This isn't some hiding-it-from-him thing, right?"

Angel shook his head. "Why would I bother, Harris? I don't want to protect you, otherwise I might have taken her up on her offer." He turned back to the window. "Have fun." He turned back around but the office was empty. "When did he learn to do that?" he asked the furniture.

Xander climbed back into the passenger's side of the van, buckling up. He pulled the envelope out, tossing it at Oz. "How's that for weird? That came here for me, yesterday." He pulled down the visor. "Let's head home." He leaned back, closing his eyes.

Oz looked at the envelope, an eyebrow going up at the name on it. He opened it to read the letter, then started to frown. "How did they know you'd come here?" he asked as he handed it back then started the van. "Which way to the garage?"

"Right at the light when we came in." Xander looked at it and frowned. "I have not a clue here man but I want a second opinion of this once we get home so I'm going to stop at Giles' first then head home." He stuffed the thing back into his pocket. "No way am I going for that." He closed his eyes again, waiting until they'd gotten to the garage.

Xander finished putting his stuff down in his trunk then looked at the older man. "Why do I feel like I'm leaving?" he asked, walking over to get a hug. "This is strange, we'll see each other tomorrow."

"But you won't be snuggled up against my back," Oz whispered, relaxing as he leaned into the hard body. "It's not a good bye, more of a this-is-changing but we're still together."

Xander chuckled briefly. "Is that like we'll still be friends after a breakup?" Oz nodded, cracking up now too. "Thought so." They leaned against each other before going to their separate cars, Xander following his friend out into the day and home.


Xander slammed through the door of Giles' apartment, frowning at the people sitting at his table. "Giles, need to talk to you now." He followed him into the hall outside the bedroom, handing over the envelope. "This went to Angel's," he said softly. "Cordy gave it to me when I went for my keys." The waited until the older man had read it. "What do I do?" He made a face. "And we gotta talk about something that I saw recently."

"Ah, then that was you that helped her summon the bastard." Giles reached over, slapping him across the back of his head. "Don't do that again, it's too easy to get caught up in that side of the power." He looked back down at the letter. "I.." He closed his mouth, taking off his glasses to clean them. "I want you to go home and forget you saw this. Don't go out, don't throw a party, just be alone. I'm sure Oz will be with Willow all night so you'll not have any problems there." He put the glasses back on. "Did you learn anything else about her?"

"Just that I'm different now, or so Angel said. He couldn't tell why but I am." He grimaced. "I talked with him and he told me she offered me to him." He shuddered. "Thankfully he turned her down."

"Just go home, Xander, and stay alone for the night. Once the time is gone, nothing should happen to you." He patted the firm shoulder. "Do tell me about her though, how was she?" He got an embarrassed blush as an answer. "I knew she existed, that's always a hazard of that form of magic, but she's where she belongs."

"Her mother's one of Hila's." That got him a gasp. "And she's running a porn store with a nice large altar room in the back." That got him a frown. "Sorry, I didn't know whether or not to tell you even and I guess I botched it. She was pulling a major you the last time I saw her though, reading a big, huge, dusty book and all."

"No," Giles soothed. "Not at all. I'm glad to know that she was fine." He patted the shoulder again. "Now go get settled in for the night and turn off the phone." He walked back down the hall, not watching the younger man leave.

Giles sat back down in his seat, picking up his cup of tea. "Just a minor emergency," he said quietly. "Willow went home?"

"To Oz's," Buffy said. "More stuff I need to fix or other stuff?"

"Other things I'm afraid." He set down the cup, looking at her. "We do have to make some plans for you though, don't we." He patted her hand, picking up her form to look at it. He ignored the heavy envelope that sat in the middle of the table.