Title: Turning Points
Series: part 7 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: Xander reaches a turning point in his life, Oz and Giles help him.

Xander paced around his room, feeling very trapped at the moment. He looked at the clock beside his bed, sighing. "Just a few more hours and the time limit in the letter will be up and I can go do stuff," he reminded himself.

He jumped as the door downstairs creaked, running to check the lock on his bedroom door to make sure whoever it was couldn't get in. He backed away as the knocking started, shaking his head as he fell onto the bed. "Go away," he croaked/yelled. "I'm not for you." The knocking stopped but the scratching started.


Giles looked around his apartment with a sigh of frustration. It didn't feel right to him for some reason, like something was out of place. He picked up his glass of scotch, sipping it slowly to ease himself down from his panicked state. "How could she have done that to me? I never wanted that," he muttered.

His hand itched, wanting so bad to pick up the phone and call his young student over. He wanted him to fill the void of silence that had popped up when Buffy had left for patrol. He wanted him to share stories of his travels, to learn more about why he went. "Hell, admit it, Ripper, you just want him." He finished off the scotch, tossing the glass against the wall and watching as the pieces of glass slid down into the carpet. "Maybe some work would soothe me," he suggested, picking up one of the books the boys had gotten him.


Xander scooted back as the scratching on his door got intense, huddling against his pile of pillows. He took a deep breath as he reached for his book, pulling it over slowly so he wouldn't make any noise and alert whatever or whoever was on the other side of the door that he was going to try something. He flipped to a section he'd been studying earlier, looking down at the book as he recited the phrases again and again, each chant getting louder and louder.

He ignored the surprised spike over his link, not able to concentrate if he was talking to Oz, letting his abilities flow out of him toward the door. The scratching stopped, just as a pained yell sounded from the other side. "Got you," he said quietly. He closed his eyes, leaning his head against the wall. "Thank God, I got you." His breathing shallowed out, the spell having taken all the nervous energy in one brief, little moment.


Giles felt that something was wrong just before the phone rang. He picked it up, frowning around at his furniture. "Hello?" His face fell. "I see. Is everything else all right?" He nodded as he hung up. "Xander," he muttered, flipping the book closed so he could stand and grab his jacket.

He walked out of the house, opting to walk the few blocks to the younger man's house.

He met the police there, nodding at an officer he knew as he walked to the young man sitting on the rear step of the ambulance. "What happened?" he said softly, stepping back as he caught sight of the wide, scared, vacant eyes of his student. "Xander? It's time to come back now, you have to tell me what happened." He brushed through the soft hair, making the younger man relax. When he still didn't get an answer, he looked at the paramedic. "Is he in shock or was something done to him?"

"We found him behind a locked door," the officer he knew said as she walked over. She smiled at him. "We don't know what happened, all we're sure of is that he was still locked in his room when it happened. He was fast asleep when we found him." She sighed, sounding like she did it in sympathy. "We can't ask him what happened, he was like this when we found him."

Giles nodded. "I'll take him home with me and if he says something I'll let you know." She nodded so helped the younger man to his feet, walking him down to the sidewalk and away from his house. "Xander," he said softly. "You must come back now. You can't stay in your head." He looked up in surprise as Willow stopped the van beside them. "What's wrong with you both?" he asked with some trepidation.

"Get him in. I can reach him through the bond," Oz said as he opened the back door and helped get his friend inside. He looked at Giles after they'd started moving again. "I felt him trying to do something then it all went dark and calm." He looked down at his friend, rubbing over the forehead in his lap. "He was really scared before."

"Hila tried to have him mated tonight," Giles told him softly. "Maybe the charred remains they found belonged to whatever she tried to hitch him too."

"I saw the letter," Oz told him, looking into his eyes. "And I know what it said." He raised an eyebrow. "He's gonna be all right?"

"As far as I can tell, yes, he should be. It may just be the shock of it all." He looked down at the seemingly fragile body. "I shouldn't have told him to stay away from people. We might have guarded him instead."

"Or it could have been something totally different," Oz said. He touched Giles' hand. "You didn't know this was going to happen."

"I know that, but it doesn't make this any easier." He took out a corner of his own envelope, showing it off. "Now you know," he muttered after the gasp. "Most likely it was meant to scare him so bad that he would have called me to protect him."

"And instead he cast something," Oz finished. He shrugged. "Xan's always been a man of action." He looked over his shoulder as Willow pulled up in front of the older man's apartment. "You sure this is safe?"

"It'll be fine. I'm much stronger than I appear." He got out, sliding the door fully open before grabbing the teen's ankles to pull him out. "Come, Xander, let's get you to bed." He walked him inside, going to his bedroom to make him lie down. He pulled off the sneakers Xander wore and got him comfortable before turning to look at Oz. "You'll try now or later?"

"Now," the older teen said. He looked at his girlfriend. "Leave us alone, I've got to talk to him. He responds to me better." She looked confused but nodded, leaving them alone. He stepped beside the bed, not looking at the older man. "You too."

"Yell if you need me, I'll be on the stairs." Giles walked out, closing the door softly to give them the most privacy.

Oz looked at the younger man on the bed, shaking his head. "Xan?" he asked as he sat down beside him. "Time to come out of your head and talk to me." He laid his head on the firm shoulder, holding him tightly to his side. //Xan? I need you to come back man. It's time. You're safe.// He closed his eyes, becoming restful and calm. //Xander, I need you. It's time to come back now. No one here will hurt you. You're at Giles' and you're safe.// That got him a small shift of the firm body, mostly away from him. //Hey, it's over and I've got you. No one's taking you.//

Xander sat up, beating at the hands touching him, eyes still closed. He whimpered, moving off the bed to kneel in the corner behind the door.

//Xan? It's me, Oz. I'm not here to hurt you. Whoever that was is gone and you're safe.// The eyes opened but the small whimpers continued, making him long to get up and beat whomever had hurt his friend. //Hey,// he thought at him. //I'm not going to let you go, I promised. You're safe and no one will hurt you. Come back and lay beside me for a while, 'kay?// Xander nodded but didn't move. //Come on, get up and walk back over here and lay down. You're safe now, I'm not going to let anyone take you away unless you want them to.//

Xander shifted closer, letting his rear fall to the floor instead of kneeling on his legs. He sighed, lying down with a small smile. "Night, Oz," he said.

Oz shook his head, getting up and walking over to him. "Xan?" he asked softly, "come to bed?" He got a nod but not a moving body so he picked him up with a grunt and carried him back over. He let him fall onto the soft mattress, watching as the younger man snuggled down into the quilt. "Xander," he called softly. "Wakey time."

"No," he muttered, turning his head the other way. "Not time yet."

"I know but I need to talk to you." He got back into the bed, rubbing down the strong back. "Come on, wakey time so we can talk again." The chocolate colored eyes opened, looking at him in confusion. "Hey," he said, sending the rest. //You okay? And what happened? We got a call to come get you from your house after someone flamed outside your door.// He saw a small head shake. //You're not at home, we're at Giles'. He and Will are downstairs, but we need to know what happened.//

//Not sure. Was trying to push him away from the door, like a big invisible hand thing, but it didn't work then I fell asleep when he stopped scratching.// Xander yawned, rolling onto his side to snuggle into the body beside him. //Nap now, talk later,// he sent, closing his eyes again. //Tired.//

"I know, but you can't nap until we know what happened."

"Don't know what happened, just need to nap now." He brushed his head over the soft t-shirt, murmuring quiet words. "Night," he said finally.

"Was that a spell?"

"Nope, a wish."

"Xan, wake up, we need to talk." He sat up, bringing the body with him. "The time limit mentioned in your letter will be up in half an hour but we need to talk now." The eyes looked at him again. "What spell did you just cast?"

"Nothing." He rubbed his eyes, looking around. "Giles?" he guessed. Oz nodded, almost frowning at him. "What?" he asked. "I'm allowed to be confused when I wake up."

"Xan..." He stopped, taking a deep breath. "What's today?"

"Um, Thursday?" He clearly guessed. "We're back, so it must be late in the week." He looked over his friend. "Why are you wearing my shirt?"

"We got the laundry mixed up again." He tipped his head to the side, looking over the younger man. "Xan, where's the letter? The one Angel gave you?"

"He gave me a what?" Xander got off the bed, looking down at his friend. "Oz, man, drugs are bad for you. You need to quit before they eat all your brain." He looked down at himself. "Why the questions?"

"Because the cops found you in your room asleep with a charred body on the other side of a locked door." The younger man sat down abruptly. He hurried over to the edge of the bed, touching the side of the younger man's face. "Xan? We don't know what happened and we need to. And it's Wednesday man." Those eyes which he routinely fell into throughout their trip looked up at him, horrified. "Xan? Do you remember something?"

"I did it?" he whispered. Oz shook his head. "No? You sure?"

"Not about anything but you don't have a toast the person spell as far as I read." He held out a hand. "Come here, Xan, let's talk about what happened." The hand was taken and he pulled his friend up onto the bed, grunting in exertion. They settled against each other, shoulders touching. "So, you were in your room?" he started.

"I don't know." Xander closed his eyes and yawned. "All I remember is some funky sleep thing." He stretched upwards. "Like now. I'm really tired and it's a sudden thing, not a gradual tired."

"Could it be someone doing something to you?" The younger man shrugged. "Want me to go get Giles?" An emphatic head shake was his answer. "Okay, how about Willow? She's downstairs too."

"Sure, but not Giles," Xander told him. "I don't know why but I don't want him up here." He shivered. "I'm going to get under the covers, okay?"

"Sure, you get warm and I'll bring her up in a minute." He helped his friend get settled, watching as he instantly fell back asleep. "Whoever did this is gonna pay 'cause I know you didn't torch the guy." He slid off the bed, opened the door, and walked down the stairs. He met Giles at the first landing, shaking his head. "He wanted Willow to come figure out why he was suddenly sleepy, sorry." The older man nodded, getting up to get out of his way. He headed down to look over his girlfriend's shoulder. "Hey," he said softly. "Xan needs you to figure out why he's so sleepy suddenly. He's upstairs doing it now and he said it wasn't normal." She nodded, getting up to jog up to her best friend. Oz turned to look at the former Watcher. "A big, invisible hand spell?" he asked.

Giles nodded, wiping off his forehead. "Yes, it acts as a defensive barrier. Holds them away from something like a portal. Not too difficult, even for him." He sat back down on the stairs, looking at the young man. "What else was there?"

"He thought it was Thursday and the sleeping thing. He doesn't remember anything." He scratched his head. "I may remember more than he does." He got a confused look. "Our bond thingy," he explained.

Giles nodded wisely. "Yes, you might at that. What did you see or hear, as I'm not sure how it works."

"His fear. Some scratching at his door. I felt him cast, which I haven't before." Oz sat down suddenly on a dining room chair. "And I felt someone else in his mind. His thoughts were funny and they were clouded by something." He looked up in alarm. "Someone went through him to do it." He looked at the books lying on the table, the ones Giles had bought for the younger teen. "Could she have done it? Had a change of heart?"

"Not likely," Giles said. "But there are many unanswerable questions at the moment." He looked up as Willow walked out. "How is he?"

"Sleeping soundly," she said, wrinkling her brow. "He's got that possessed glow around him, but it's not real strong, like they left him, so I'm guessing he's gonna be okay." She sat down beside Giles on the stairs. "I couldn't wake him."

"It took me a while and that was with our bond." She looked at him funny. "You found out about the thought thing?" he reminded her, sure that wasn't covered under Giles' spell since it had happened before that incident. She scrunched up her face then nodded, relaxing. "Well, I can use it to hear him or to send to him. It took me almost half an hour of sending." He picked up a book, flipping through it idly while he thought. "Will, I want to stay for a while, why don't you head home," he said suddenly. She opened her mouth to protest. "No arguments, someone used him earlier, you said so. I don't want you exposed," he lied. She pouted at him but did as he asked, closing the door softly. He waited until he was sure she was long gone to bring the other disturbing thing up. "He went to hide in a corner when I was waking him up. Whimpering."

Giles frowned at him. "She might..." Oz cut him off with a head shake. "No, you're right, she doesn't need to see this. What do you have planned?" The younger man got up, walking the book he had been flipping through over to show something he'd just found. Giles read it silently, internally applauding the younger man for his intelligence. "I think this may work."

Oz stood up in front of him. "Who?"

"You have the bond."

"And you got the letter," he pointed out.

"He doesn't think of me in that way," the older man reminded him. "If you remember his reaction the day that you two had to cast that spell, you'd remember that he shuddered when my playing a part was mentioned." Oz's shoulders slumped but he started walking up the stairs. "Do we know if there could be someone else?"

"Want my honest opinion?" Giles nodded. "I think that guy wasn't someone trying to make him call you over but was an interference. A creature of some sort that wanted him more so decided to break in between you." He looked at the clock on the wall. "If I do it now, he might be mine, you know that right?" Giles nodded, his own shoulders falling. "Do you really want that?"

"No," the former Watcher admitted, "but it was a nice hope when I got the letter. Even if I never asked for it." He looked at the envelope between his feet again. "Go do what you must."

Oz walked back down the few stairs, sitting beside the older man. "No." He reached over to pick up the letter, opening it up to read it. He handed it back after a few minutes. "We have time."

"We may not."

"We do. As soon as it's past the time limit in the letters, then I'll go do something." He watched the clock on the wall, noting the five minutes of silence. "What were you thinking?" he asked softly.

"I'd always admired him, for strength of character if nothing else." Giles smiled sadly. "I envied him his disposition to the world around him, the easy quality he had whenever he had to face something bad, the way he just shrugged and said, 'okay, so we kill it how?' and never worried about not succeeding." He looked at the young man next to him. "You all had that at the beginning, but time has worn it out of some of you. Willow is a changed woman from when we first met. Buffy has become almost world-weary at times over her calling."

"But he's always had the 'okay' thing going," Oz finished. "I know, and it's what makes him special. I hope he never loses it." He patted the older man's arm, going back to watching the clock.

When Oz stood up, Giles touched the back of his hand. "I didn't ask her to do this, I was as shocked as he was."

Oz nodded, heading back up the stairs to the bedroom where his friend lay sleeping. "Hey," he said softly as he walked over to the bed. He leaned down, kissing him on the lips, really just a brush across them. "Hi," he said when those eyes opened to look at him. "Morning," he whispered, crawling over the lump his body made to lie beside him. "How you feeling?"

"Confused." Xander turned to face him. "You kissed me." Oz nodded. "But we agreed, we weren't going to hurt her."

"And I'm not." He stroked over the too serious face. "What do you remember of earlier?"

Xander shook his head. "Nothing more than what you told me." He pressed against the hand, holding it in place. "Why?"

"Because, I need to." He leaned over for another kiss, gently showing the younger man that he cared. "Giles knows and he agrees."

"What about..." His mouth was covered by a finger. "Oz," he sighed, licking over it. "We can't."

"We have to." He handed over the book. "You need more strength to push whomever out of you." He went back to his brushing over the serious face, watching him read and understand what it meant. "See? But you do have a choice here."

"Yeah, you or the whatever." He put the book down on the side table, rolling onto his back. "Why does this happen to us?"

"Because it has to. Someone bigger said so." That brought out a hint of a grin. "You remember that night you wanted to forget?" He got a slow nod. "I really did want it, that was the idea of that dare, to start something." He saw the not too shocked look. "I started to remember it while I was sick." He leaned in for another kiss, this time getting full cooperation. When he pulled back, the lips followed, taking their turn at control.

Xander pulled the older man on top of him, lifting up the corner of the quilt and sheets until he could get under. He waited until they were pressed together, only separated by clothes, to kiss him again. This time, his desire and intention was clearly known; their breaths panting, bodies shivering at the loss of contact, their minds joined as one. He could feel what Oz felt now, knew what he wanted as if it was what he wanted, smelt the desire coming off himself. He rolled them back over, letting Oz be the bottom for a while so he could take control, wanting, needing it now.

Oz let his friend do what he needed, knowing what he was thinking. He let all the unfulfilled longings and suppressed desires come out, showing them both that he'd wanted it all along, the unfulfilled part that had been making him so edgy. Xander pulled back to smile at him, getting an answering one from him. "Yeah, me too," he said softly as he brushed through the dark hair. "Always since that afternoon." He pulled the head back down, kissing him like his life depended on it. He rolled them over, showing just how much he wanted by sending it through their bond. //Xander,// he sent with it, the only word among the feelings.

//Oz,// Xander agreed, sending back the same things, adding his feelings to the mix of the older man's. "Later is later," he said, knowing about the small fears they both had concerning Willow.

"Later is later," Oz agreed, letting himself fall back onto those lips. He slid his hand up under the thin t-shirt, stroking over a firm nipple like he'd wanted to for so long now, swallowing the moan that flowed into his mouth. When he pulled back for a breath, he tugged the barrier off, needing more contact now, not able to stop himself from this. His lover straddled his hips, both of them watching the hands on his chest stroking over the firm muscles. "Take it off?" he asked quietly, lifting his head and shoulders up to help.

Xander sighed as he looked down on the bared chest, going back to his stroking over each curve, his face showing intense concentration as he memorized all of it for later. He looked up into the lighter eyes, his own showing his sadness. "I don't want to hurt her," he whispered.

"Then we won't," Oz told him. "She won't know." He pulled him back down to hold him firmly, tightly enveloping him in the safest place he knew. "We'll be okay after this too."

Xander sighed, kissing the side of the older teen's neck. He closed his eyes, consciously giving control to his body and its wants. He watched his hands tease the chest muscles with light touches, the soft hair on his stomach being ruffled. He closed his eyes again as his hands made their way down to the belt, not wanting to watch as he undid it and the jeans underneath it.

"Look at me," Oz whispered, tilting his head up. The deep eyes focused on him, watching his face as his hands followed where the hands on his body went. He watched the internal war in them, the fight for pleasure over the expected pain. "Let it go," he murmured, taking possession of his lips again. He sighed as the hands went around his waist, holding him closely as they went back to enjoying the activity they hadn't dared pursue when they were together before.


Giles looked up in alarm as his door opened, walking over to stop whomever it was from getting any further in. He frowned at Willow. "I thought you went home."

"I did but I also found a de-possession spell and I wanted to come help release him." She tried to walk around the older man but he stopped her, his hands firm on her shoulders. "Giles?" she asked in confusion. He shook his head. "What's going on?"

"Oz found a way, he's upstairs helping Xander now." She nodded, trying to get around him again. "No, they... you can't help them this time." He turned her around, trying to get her out the door before one of the boys upstairs could make a noise. "Please come back in the morning and we'll discover what it was that burned. Or better yet, have Buffy go look at it with you later tonight if you can."

She turned, putting her hands on her hips and scowling at him. "What's going on?" she asked. She looked up toward the bedroom. "Why is Oz helping him instead of you?" She looked back at him again, seeing the faint flush. "He isn't," she said, making a long-jump of a guess. "He's doing... *that* with him?" Giles didn't answer her so she screeched in frustration, trying to get around him again. "Let me go, I need to go stop them," she said, pushing him away. "How could you let this happen?" She started to sniffle, turning to walk out.

Giles grabbed her arm, closing the door. "It was the only way we knew of given the circumstances of the evening," he told her quietly. He looked deep inside himself, searching out the small voice that told him what he should do. He made a snap decision, walking her into the kitchen and picking her up to sit her on the counter. "Willow, I need you to remember something, and it won't be pleasant but it's necessary," he told her. She nodded in confusion, still sniffling. He turned around, gathering some herbs out of the cabinet. He turned back, putting down the things he'd gathered to put her back up on the counter, his hands lingering around her waist this time before moving upwards.

"Giles!" she squeaked. "Just because they're... doing that doesn't mean that..." He shut her up, holding a hand over her mouth.

"That wasn't what I was doing. I needed to know what you were wearing. Metal may absorb more energy and it'll be harder on me to reverse this." She frowned. "Trust me, just this one time. Please Willow." She nodded, sighing, then shook her head. "Thank you. Now, come to the table and let me do this." He helped her down off the counter, walking her back out to sit her in the center of a diagram he drew hastily with the chalk he'd pulled down. He lit a candle, handing it to her, then another, holding it as he picked up the first bunch of herbs to sprinkle over both of the flames. Some more went in her hair as he chanted, walking around her. More went into the inner circle of the diagram as he stepped into it. He sat before her, taking her hands and blowing out the candle. "Remember," he said softly. He watched as she blinked then her back arched in pain.

Willow was panting now, shaking her head. She looked at him, horrified. "I did that?" she whispered. He nodded, letting her find out the rest. "Do they remember?"

"They and I do, and now you, but I'll gladly try to block it again." She frowned at him, starting to cry. He pulled her closer, patting her back as she remembered everything. "Shh, I know it's hard but in there are a few things that you need to know," he whispered, kissing the side of her head. "Just let yourself remember what you learned about him."

She nodded, keeping her eyes closed as she discovered just how bad she could be.


Xander looked at the door then at Oz. "He's casting," he whispered, laying his head on a shoulder so he could watch his hand play with the sparse chest hair on his friend. He looked down at the contrast of their nude bodies, taking that memory as a mental snapshot for when he needed comfort before moving a hand lower. "I... I think I should meet Me." That made Oz laugh. "Oh, think that was funny?"

"Only the you being so drunk that you didn't know what you were talking to part." He grinned, moving his hand over the firm back. "You had such a good look on your face. All innocent and smiling." He pulled the head up for another kiss. "We're here for you, do what you want to me." He spread his arms out, watching as Xander slowly kissed his way down his body. He knew he was still scared, could feel it through their bond, but they both wanted him to do this, it was almost a singing in their blood now for them to touch each other. His eyes closed and rolled back into his head at the first tentative touch of a finger tracing him lightly followed by the braver lick to his crown. He sighed in pleasure as the tongue came back again and again, making him feel very good and forget that he ever had any doubts about anything between them.

Xander looked up, watching the expressions flow across Oz's face as he explored. He tried something he'd wanted to do for a while, after reading about it in that magazine of course, using his tongue to tease the little slit in the center. The older teen almost levitated off the bed, his eyes coming open to look down at him so he did it again, this time taking the whole head into his mouth to play with more.

"Oh, yeah," Oz said, panting. He lifted a hand up, moving it to play with the younger teen's hair, wanting him to do more, take more, but not pressuring him any. He swallowed hard as the warm, wet heat moved farther down his cock, trying hard not to force him to take more. He grunted as he was released, pulling the head back down for a kiss when it came closer. "Why'd you stop?" he asked.

"Because that's no fun when I'm the only one doing anything." He grinned. "Can we, um..." He blushed, just a little, but nodded down at his own hardness. He almost screamed in surprise as his hips were pulled forward, the warm mouth enveloping him quickly. He panted, watching how it was done. "Wow," he whispered, awed. He pulled himself out, grinning at the popping sound, turning onto his side on the bed so he could go back to what he was doing and not fall. He rolled Oz onto his side, taking what he'd seen and trying it for himself. The older teen took him back into his mouth again, mimicking what he was doing while showing him the way it should be done.

Xander almost moaned when the finger brushed across his entrance. He relaxed, pushing back against it while suckling harder. He felt himself released so looked up, seeing the intense look of concentration on his friend's face. He started to pull back but his head was held down firmly, letting him know that he was to continue. He tried to move down a little farther, take more in, as the finger came back. This time it entered him, moving rapidly in his body to prepare him. //More,// he whimpered over their bond, showing him what he wanted. He was pulled off now and pushed onto his back, the older teen sitting across his stomach. "More?" he asked.

"Yeah, just need to find a few things." He opened the only drawer he could see, sighing in relief as he saw what was in it. He chose to ignore the other things he saw, not even wanting to contemplate their uses. He dropped the condom packet onto the heaving chest, closing the drawer with the hand holding the tube of lubricant. He climbed off, moving to sit between the hard thighs, having pulled them apart by force. Oz looked up at Xander, seeing his hesitation. "We can stop," he offered, his wet finger just brushing the outer ring of the place he wanted to go. He sent reassurances over their link, letting him know that it was still his call. The body he was against relaxed all at once, the hips pushing against his finger. "Just a few more," he said softly, sliding the wet finger in to start the stretching process.

Xander relaxed, closing his eyes and feeling what was being done to him. Last time he'd done this part himself, and not as well as Oz was doing for him. He pushed against the finger, sending his desires across the bond, showing him how much he wanted it.

"Soon," was whispered to him as a thicker finger, a thumb, entered him.


Willow looked up at him again. "They're really that bonded?" He nodded slowly. "So that's what he was talking about earlier?" Giles nodded again. "Then why are they doing this now?" She stood up, or tried to since he pulled her back down before she'd gotten farther than her knees. "Giles, I need to go stop them."

"Nothing can stop it except them and they need the energy to help Xander. Surely you didn't want to take his place, did you?" She shook her head, scowling at him now. "Then just sit down and relax. I'm sure they'll be fine and you'll not remember this in the morning." She opened her mouth but he shut her up in the most primitive way he knew, by kissing her.


Xander sighed as he was filled for the second time in his life, watching the man above him tense up to give him some time to adjust. He pushed back gently, making Oz grin. "Still huge," he told him. The older teen burst out laughing, leaning down to kiss him, stealing his breath as he started to move in an easy to follow rhythm. They moved together, their bond putting them in synch, instantly letting the other know what they wanted and needed. Then Xander made the mistake of looking into the deepest eyes he'd ever seen, falling down into them. He didn't feel the end of the movements, didn't know anything else except what those eyes told him about himself, Oz, and their connection.


Giles closed the cabinet door, handing Willow the small glass of liquor. "I shouldn't give you this," he told her. She swallowed it quickly, putting the glass into the sink.

She gripped his arm, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up. "Do you feel that?" she asked quietly. He nodded, looking at the stairs. "Is it?"

He looked at her with a grimace. "It may well be. You never know what sort of energy sexual expression will bring." He saw the cute blush, shaking his head. "It's a perfectly acceptable way of raising power, I'm sure you're read about it by now." She nodded, blushing more. "Stole that book, didn't you?" he asked with a slight smile. Her blush only got worse. But something was wrong, he could feel it. He pried her hand off his arm, patting it as he led her to a chair. "You stay here, I'll go check on them." He silently walked up the stairs, opening the door a crack to peek in on his students.

What he saw amazed him. Both of them were just looking at the other, breathing in unison, blinking together. He walked in farther, shutting the door as quietly as possible to check on them. He could see where they were joined, his earlier thoughts confirmed on the mechanics of what they were doing, and he could see that they were just looking at each other. Staring intensely into the other's eyes. He sighed in frustration as he backed away from the bed, not knowing if they'd noticed his entry and not really sure how to undo this problem if they hadn't. He hurried back down to his books, noticing Willow curled up on the couch asleep. He flipped open the book Oz had been reading earlier, rereading the section he'd just glanced at.


Oz shook himself, looking around. "Huh." He looked back down at his friend, his mind still swimming from all that he'd learned in those few minutes. "You okay?" he asked. He got a gentle kiss for an answer, his mouth delicately probed and tasted. "Hmm, I'd say that was a yes." He pushed in again, earning him a true, blinding smile. "Ah, I see you like that."

"Of course," Xander said, pushing back up, still in awe of what had happened between them. "What was that?" he asked quietly. "It felt like I crawled inside you for a few minutes."

"I think you did." He let himself fall onto the hard body, resting. "Do we?" he asked.

"Oh, I'm not letting you go that easily," Xander whispered, rolling them over. He looked down at his friend, grinning. "If I remember right, this was an okay way too." He pushed down, grabbing the arms that came up to hold him steady, using them to help himself balance as he rode his friend gently, taking his chance to savor it this time. "I like this," he decided, bringing out another laugh. "Well, I do." He leaned down for another kiss, grunting as he was put back onto his back. "Oz," he said softly, sighing at the steady push into him. "Oh, yeah, nice. Like that lots too." He pushed himself up to take another kiss, grunting as he was pushed back down.

"Want more," Oz moaned, going just a little faster. "Now? Please?" His new rhythm was matched with a small grin and they moved together easily, finding that comfortable spot again. This time it was Oz that looked down into the dark eyes below him, seeing himself reflected there.

And again they fell into each other, leaning the other's essential being.


Giles walked back into his bedroom hesitantly, closing the door softly behind him. He looked at the bed, seeing them still caught, and lit the candle to put on the side table. "Should have done this earlier," he told them quietly. "You should both know this by now." He turned, walking out. "I'll discuss proper preparation with you both later," he told them as he closed the door.


Xander shook his head, looking around the room. He noticed the candle then looked at Oz. "Okay," he said slowly. "Visitors or we're more powerful together than I am." He got tickled for it. "Want to yell at him later?"

"Yeah, might be a good," Oz said, grabbing for a deep kiss as he started again. "Want to do back down or are you ready to end this?"

"Want more," Xander whined, pouting. "I'm nowhere near done with you yet." He rolled them over, wiggling his eyebrows. "You know, we could avoid that."

"Nope, don't like that, it has bad connotations for me now." The younger teen raised an eyebrow. "Think slang," he said.

Xander scrunched up his face then burst out in giggles. "Okay," he said, nodding. "I can deal with that. We'll stay in this position then." He started to ride him again, getting a little more aggressive. "So, what should we yell at him?"

"How about privacy?" Oz said, rolling them over and going at him harder. "And I know something now that I can hold over your head." He leaned down, kissing a new marking on his body. "Where did you get this?"

"While I was waiting on Hila to come back out. Her newest student does them." He brushed over the small tattoo. "Do you like it? I wasn't sure about the design but he said it was me. He drew it then and there after taking a really long look into my eyes." He moaned as his good-feeling spot was hit. "Yeah, there," he encouraged, pulling the head down to kiss again, attacking his mouth with all the hunger he suddenly felt. "More."

Oz nodded, shifting angles to hit that spot again, rubbing against it with each stroke now. He watched the small flush of arousal turn into an all over body experience of bright pink/purple color, watching as the younger man begged silently over their bond, making him want more with each small stroke. He was almost ready to go over himself, more than, he was just holding on so Xander could come with him. "Ready yet?" he panted, going harder. He joined their hands, sitting up more to look back down into the deep eyes calling to him. "Yeah, me too," he whispered, pulling out to slam in one last time, bringing them both over the edge together.

Xander looked up at him, initiating the eye and mental contact that sucked them into the other, both of them wanting it now. Oz let himself fall, enjoying both the trips he was taking.

They never noticed falling into each other when the eye contact was broken, the mental bond keeping them under now.


Giles looked at his clock in annoyance. It'd been four hours since he'd went up last and they were still up there being silent. He looked at the sleeping woman on his sofa, groaning in frustration, and decided to do something about it. "Willow," he said softly, nudging her shoulder. "Time for you to go home now." She looked up at him, blinking in confusion. "You fell asleep on my couch, time for you to go to your own bed." She nodded, getting up and straightening her clothes. "I'll try to redo that spell in the morning," he told her just before closing the door behind her.

He turned around, heading back up the stairs to knock on his bedroom door. "Boys?" he called softly. He didn't get an answer so peeked around the edge. He could see them both cuddled up, eyes closed, looking so angelic in their post-coital nap. He snuck in, blowing out the candle, taking a deep smell of the air by accident. The energy and the smell was what got him, pulling him down to the floor with an anguished grunt as the energy seeped into him, surrounded him, moved through him.

In his mind, he could see everything. Everything they had done on their trip, everything that had happened that night. He could see now what they saw in each other and felt pain because he knew it wouldn't last. Life wasn't that good to those in love. Especially not on the Hellmouth. He closed his eyes as the energy overruled his body, curling up beside the bed in exhaustion, his own energy being taken to bind with theirs without his knowing it.


Oz woke up first, glancing at the window to see the first pale light of dawn coming through the thin curtains. He looked down at the man he was sharing the bed with, watching him sleep. In his heart he knew this would only cause him pain later, but he had to admit it to himself, he loved him. As much as he loved Willow. And he knew it wasn't possible to have both. He ran his fingers through the soft hair, not minding the slight greasiness of it. His lover snuffled at his arm, rolling to face him, pushing his nose into the warm cavity between his shoulder and neck. He let him sleep, enjoying this while it lasted.

Xander took a deep sniff as he woke up, grinning at the skin under his mouth before taking a gentle taste of it. The body wrapped around his shuddered. "Morning," he said softly. He pulled his head back enough to grab a quick kiss and look into the sad eyes. "What happens, happens," Xander reminded him. "And I'll accept that." Oz just nodded, pulling him down closer to him, wanting and needing the contact now. "Me too," he said softly, feeling the emotions coming over their bond. He sent his own back, not surprised at the small hitch in breathing under his head. He held him tighter, letting him know it was all right, it would all be okay.

It was almost an hour later when they reluctantly parted, Xander letting Oz do it in his own time. He brushed over the stubbled cheek, grinning just a little. "I wish that last night would happen again, but what I saw last night will stay with me," he whispered. The older teen nodded, letting him express it since he was the talker of the pair. "And if it happens, I'll stay happy, but neither of us are going to stay this way forever." He looked down, trying to hide his sadness. "But I can accept that and will." He looked back up, taking another small, gentle, passionate kiss before going on. "We're just the same as we were, just a little more connected now. And what happens, happens for a reason. If we happen, then we'll both be happy and dancing around town for however long it lasts but if not, then we'll still be us and still happy because just us can't fulfill us both."

Oz nodded. "Yeah, that about sums it up." He hugged Xander tightly for a second. "I don't want to get up but we have to go join the world again." He kissed the younger teen's forehead gently, stroking down the side of his face. "And if it happens for us, then it does," he agreed. They both got up, Oz walking around the bed to look at what his friend was staring at. "We've got to have a talk with that man about privacy."

"Is his bed," Xander pointed out. He grinned, getting up and stepping over their mentor and friend. "Want to share the bathroom? We can always run back in here for our clothes."

"Xan, we skinny-dipped together. There's not much of your body I've not seen before." He patted the firm rear as it passed in front of him. "I get first shower though, I'm sweaty." He grimaced as he touched his chest. "And you still drool." He just laughed at the playful swat to his arm as the younger man closed the bathroom door behind them.

Giles waited until the bathroom door had closed to open his eyes. He looked around at the mess they'd made of his room and sighed, getting up to go downstairs and fix them all breakfast. "At least they worked it out," he told himself as he made it to the bottom of the stairs. He scowled at Buffy when he found her and Willow watching his tv. "Out, now," he told them. Both girls giggled, looking at each other. "Now, girls," he told them. "Come back in a few hours."

Buffy got up, nodding, still grinning. She walked up to him, patting down a piece of hair that was sticking up and gave a pointed look down his body. She and Willow hurried out as the shower started, still giggling.

He looked down at himself, groaning in exasperation. "It figures that would happen," he told himself, going to his pile of laundry to grab his robe and toss the soiled clothes in with them. "I'll do that later," he told himself, heading back to the kitchen to start a much-needed pot of tea and breakfast for the boys. He had just finished his second cup of tea and was about done with his toast when they came down the stairs, talking quietly with each other. Xander had the grace to blush but Oz just gave him a look. "Do we feel better this morning?" he asked them.

"Do you?" Oz asked. He leaned down to kiss the older man's cheek. "Or was it too much?" He walked into the kitchen, grabbing the two plates on the stove to warm. "Xan, breakfast?"

"Sure," he said, sitting down across from Giles. "Did you have to come in and watch?" he asked quietly, blushing more.

"I had to light the candle so you might come back out of the trance and focus on something else." He watched Oz as he sat down. "Did you work it out?"

"Yup," they said together. They looked at each other and shook their heads. In unison.

"I'm sure some time spent apart would cure that." He got up to pour himself another cup of tea. "Next time, do the preparation also, boys, it's a very important step."

"But it still worked," Oz said, swallowing. "We fixed it." He looked at Xander, who shrugged. "And more." That got him a questioning look. "We found out a lot of stuff while we were crawling around the other's mind." He took the younger teen's hand in his. "Lots of things."

"Yeah," Xander said, wiping off his mouth with his spare hand. "And I can accept it." He looked at Giles. "Can you?"

"Of course I can. Well, as long as it doesn't affect the rest of the group." He glanced at the door. "Maybe I should go bathe before they show up."

"Don't you mean come back?" Oz asked as the older man walked behind him.

"Quite but I wasn't going to mention it if you weren't." Giles headed up the stairs. "Eat, I'm not doing this again."

Xander started to chuckle. "I hope not," he said. "Sleeping on the floor after watching us must have been hard." Oz reached over to gently smack the back of his head for the bad pun. "Sorry, couldn't resist."

The older teen just shook his head. "Eat, Xan, got to have our strength up to deal with the girls." He took another bite of his eggs, pulling over the saltshaker to add some, handing it over. "The bond's not broken but it's softer," he noted.

"I can still feel it but it's like it's more natural now, less of a road sign in the middle of my brain pointing out the elephant." He grinned. "Not that it wasn't distracting sometimes but it was kinda nice to know what you were thinking."

"I think you still will but maybe not the dream thing anymore."

"Ah, yes, that." Xander turned Oz's head to make him look at him. "I don't like heights that much and I doubt trapezes would be that much fun. Even that way." That got him a small grin. "But the horse thing, now that was cute. Gonna try that with her?"

"Yeah, I was thinking for her birthday." He looked at his friend. "Want me to help you shop still?"

"Sure, could use the help. I just don't know her like I used to. Well, since you came really."

"I noticed the distance but I thought you guys were getting closer."

"Oz, reality check here. Fall is how soon and you three will all be gone?" He looked over to see the frown. "Yeah, you see my point. I'm guessing it's a part of growing older, the distance between us."

"It might be or it could just be circumstances." He looked at his friend, watching the shooting pain flow across his face and eyes. "We're still here," he said softly. "We're not leaving you."

"Thanks." He looked up, grinning, then frowned at the door. "Will," he said in greeting. He didn't expect the hug he got but he enjoyed it. Even when she went to hug Oz too. "How was your summer?" he asked, tickling her lightly as she moved closer. "Any big bads?"

"No, he left again," she told him, sitting down on his leg. "I'm sorry," she said softly. "I shouldn't have done that to us." He gave her a confused look. "I remember now and I'm sorry." He nodded, patting her back. "I just wanted to know things so badly and I didn't stop to think that you might have had a legitimate reason for not wanting that done." She kissed his cheek. "Forgive me?"

"Yeah, eventually." He stood her back up. "I didn't want it but I learned some stuff too." He glanced at Oz before pulling her head down to kiss her cheek. "I'm not mad anymore about it, at least not like I was. As long as you know that it was bad and don't switch us again."

"Only to confuse an enemy if I have to," she said. Then smiled at their frowns. "Gotcha." She squealed as Xander knocked her to the floor, tickling her senseless. "Xander!" she squealed, wiggling under him. "Oz, help," she called.

"Nope, you deserve it." He scraped the rest of the younger man's food onto his plate, eating it too as he watched them roll around.

Giles walked back down the stairs shaking his head. "Children," he muttered. He glanced at Oz as he walked past. "Would you like some more?"

"No thanks but happy boy over there might."

"Yes, please may I have some more?" Xander said in a very bad impersonation of Oliver Twist. Giles just glared at him, which he grinned off. "Please?" he begged, going back to his normal voice.

"What calms you down?" Giles asked him.

"Ritalin," Willow suggested.

"Nope, Ritalin is speed and so is caffeine and we all know how I respond to that."

Oz looked at Giles and sighed. "Time. He only does this for about an hour." He looked at his friend and girlfriend where they were still laying on the floor. "So, why are you so happy?"

"'Cause I'm *free*!" Xander shouted, getting up to spin around, arms up. "No more Hila and no more people coming for me." He danced around the room, ignoring the groans from his friends, even grabbing Buffy as she walked in to dance with her.

"Whoa," she said, pushing him into a chair. "Calm yourself. I'm not that happy yet." She looked at the others in the room. "Okay, who fed him chocolate." The man in question snickered. "Naughty you," she said, leaning down to kiss his cheek. "You come back and you don't even wave." She ruffled his hair, walking over to the table to steal a piece of toast. "So, what's up for today?" she asked, munching as she sat down.

Giles looked at the teens, groaning internally. "I had hoped for some quiet time to talk to the boys about what they found but if you insist on group activities, I'm sure we could find a research project for you and Willow." He smiled at his students. "Maybe some nice translating work?"

Willow shook her head. "Nope, sorry, got to go pick up stuff for school. Wanna help me shop, Buff?" she asked, desperate to not have to translate anything else this week.

"Hey, I excel at shopping." Buffy stood back up, wiping off her mouth. "Later," she said as she helped her best friend escape the dire clutches of demon languages.

Xander grinned as he came over, snatching the last piece of toast, looking down at his plate with puppy eyes. "My plate was hungry. I knew I left food on it." He looked at his roadtrip partner. "Oz, did my plate grow a mouth and really big teeth?" He got a solemn nod so shrugged. "Okay, I can deal with that." He sat down, munching happily. "But I'm still free," he said, mouth full.

"Not exactly," Giles said, a wicked little smile coming out. "You were proclaimed to be my student." He leaned closer. "You're mine now." His smile only got bigger and brighter as the youngest man choked. "I'm sure we'll come to an agreement about rules soon enough."

Oz pushed back from the table, standing up and grabbing his jacket from where he'd thrown it last night. "I'm sure you guys can handle this without me." He nodded at Xander before going to help his girlfriend escape.

Xander pouted at the older man. "I didn't do a bad." He straightened his shoulders. "And the bads that I did were for a good reason."

"I'm sure, but let's start with the first rule, shall we? You do not offer my help without my knowledge and permission. Do you understand that?"

"But Mary needed that. The whole town disappeared every time night came, and it came really early because it was a nexus thingy." He got a confused look so he pulled out his watch that he'd gotten there. "See, I got this there and time runs funny there. It got dark at three in the afternoon and was morning again at midnight by Oz's normal watch, but in between, everything turned into thin air and a motorcycle guy rode around through translucent buildings." The older man shook his head, just once. "And Oz changed out of synch." He got frowned at for that. "He did. Ask him." He leaned back. "Can I make some more toast since Oz ate my wonderful breakfast?"

"If you know how," Giles told him, watching him get up to fix himself some more food. "Was there a marker of some sort?"

"A big stone with a plaque that said it was the nexus between two planes. Page three hundred and something in my book."

"Which I can't read," Giles reminded him.

"Ooops. Okay, well, it's at home anyway and I'm sure you have another reference somewhere." He turned around, buttering the first slice of warm bread. "Do you want some?"

"No, thank you, Xander." He waited until the young man was sitting across from him again. "And what did you do?"

"I asked if there was something I could do and she said no but I gave her your number and told her that you had a lot of books about strange things that might have a solution." He bit into the first peanut buttery piece, nodding and licking his lips. "Oh, and she said someone with a book like mine had tried to help but had only made it worse.."

Giles nodded. "All right, I can see how that might have been permissible. At least you didn't tell her that I could fix it."

"I don't think I did." He got frowned at again. "Well, I don't." He finished up the first piece, getting up to go fix the next two popping up. He came back, juggling the overly warm bread, dropping them onto the plate. "I waited tables and didn't even notice the disappearing thing until Oz came and pulled me out of town to talk." He took another bite. "But I was tired all the time."

"I can see how that might happen." The older man rubbed his forehead. "I'll see what I can't find on it later, maybe get Oz to help me recall the exact problem."

Xander finished off his milk. "I wrote it down in my journal of stuff I saw, but that's at the house."

"I'll have to call and see when we can have access to it again." He watched the younger man get up to get some more milk. "Are you like this at home?" he asked gently, but the younger man immediately came back to the table, eating in silence. He sighed in frustration. "I didn't mean it as a criticism, just wondering if you were always this hungry." The younger man nodded, eating quietly. "What else did you see and, yes, if you want some more milk please have some. I never seem to drink it all before it goes bad." He watched the silent boy walk back into the kitchen, his shoulders tense as he poured another glass of milk. He stopped him as he passed. "Xander, I never meant harm by that, I'd just never seen you like this before."

"I don't get a chance to be like this," he said, shaking off the restraining hand and sitting down. "We saw a ghost at an old mission too. Was boring otherwise but I saw it. Was up in the bell tower."

"Where?" Giles asked gently.

"Just across the border. About thirty miles across really." He finished off the last of his toast, gulping his milk. "I didn't do much in New England, it was kinda chilly and I didn't have warm clothes packed. A lot of small towns and Boston and New York. Stayed a few days in each of those." He leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes to think. "I didn't do that coast much at all, I really wanted to see New York so I headed that way. Hit Montreal for a night, wandered there, didn't understand too many people." Giles nodded for him to go on, he could hear the rustle of the fabric. "Missed D.C. but I didn't really want to go there that badly. Went to New Orleans, stayed for two days. Saw a few vamps trying to do the Anne Rice thing and a few people who wanted to say that they were. Left there in a big hurry once someone there found out where I was from." He opened his eyes. "Seems like everyone knows Sunnydale is a bad place somehow. Or at least wherever there's a branch of the vamp family. Wonder why?" He grinned, just a little. "Anyway, did the Alamo and was bored. Relaxed on the beach of the gulf for a day. Stayed in San Antonio both nights as I passed back through. Passed by the rest of the southwest. Did St. Louis, and again, not a whole lot of stuff. Met some nice people in Chicago, that's when I decided to come back and talk to Oz that night." That got him a grunt. "I came back to tell him something then left again. Headed northeast, broke down where Mary was, worked there for a week. Then we went south together, then Frisco, then Vegas for about three days while sorting out the mess there with the cops. Met up with you, did the auction thing which you knew about. Went back to Frisco that night, stayed a day then went north. Stopped in Portland for a day and did the sights there, then Oz wanted to go back East and he won the coin toss. Got food poisoning in a little town, ended up doing that spell and working so we'd have enough money to let him stay in a bed instead of the air mattress in the back of the van for a few days then came back." He shifted some. "The summary of my trip, both alone and with Oz."

"You saw many things it seemed." He looked over the still tense body. "Xander, relax. I'm not mad at you nor will I be." The younger man still didn't calm down any, actually he started to jiggle his knee. "Come sit on the couch, you must be sore." That got a small blush and a head shake. "Xander, now," he ordered, putting just enough steel into his voice to make it work. He walked over to the couch, sitting on one side, watching as the young man sat delicately on the other end, as far away as he could. "Did you figure out what you needed to?" A shrug. He reached over, turning the other man's face toward him. "I want you to relax. If I'm to teach you, I need to understand you better, get to know how best to introduce new topics and work over problem areas that you might experience." That got him a small nod. "And I know I have a lot of work to do but I'd like to start now. What *exactly* did I say to upset you."

"You ..." He closed his mouth, shaking his head. "It's not important. I'm not mad." He looked at the pile of books on the coffee table. "Do you need help reshelving?"

"No, I want to hold a serious conversation without you ducking it," Giles said in irritation. The younger man tensed again. "There, I've done it again. I'm sorry, I don't know how to relate to you on such a personal level. With Willow I could just set a book down in front of her and let her innate curiosity go, with you I don't think that'll work." Xander got up, grabbing his jacket and walking out. He hurried after him. "Wait!" He grabbed his arm, stopping him and making him turn to face him. "What did I say?"

"You're right, I'm not Willow," Xander said softly. "I'll drop my book off later." He got his arm loose, walking away.

"That isn't what I meant and you know it," he called after him. He looked over his shoulder, seeing Buffy sitting at his table. "Yes?" he asked.

"Thought you might want some help. Actually, Will suggested that you should have kept Oz here to help but she wasn't about to let him go again." She shrugged. "Your first mistake was mentioning his home. I learned really early on that even the slightest mention of parental issues or family got him worked up." She stood up, walking over to stand beside him. "I'd go catch him. He won't come back." She turned, walking into the apartment.

Giles took a deep breath and shook his head, going out to catch his student and friend. "Wait," he called when he got in sight. The younger man paused but he didn't stop, just turned down a side street, heading off in a new direction. He finally caught up to him on a trail to the woods at the edge of town. "Xander, wait," he panted. He grabbed a firm arm, holding onto it while he caught his breath. "Well, shows I need to work harder," he told him. He looked up to see the cold, expressionless look in the usually expressive eyes so stood up fully to face him. "You know I didn't mean to harm you with any of it. I will not, and I promise you this, harm you intentionally but you can't just run out like that and not tell me what I did wrong. If you don't tell me, I can't not do it again."

"It's not an issue. You were right, I'm not as good at that stuff as Willow is." He pried the hand off his arm, turning to walk into the woods. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I want to go walk through the woods by myself."

"Hold it." The boy didn't so he ran after him again, pinning him against a tree. He held him still making him look at him. "I'm not letting you do that. Magic is now as much a part of you as the language you speak, which I don't understand half the time. All I want to know is how to avoid the sensitive subjects so we don't have to do this again." He let him go, taking a step back, watching as the younger man sat down. He sat down across from him. "Yes, I want to teach you, otherwise I'd not have told the man who gave you the book that I was your teacher. Such a phrase is a commitment to us and not to be undertaken lightly." He got a small nod. "Now then, since we've gotten that out of the way, we need to establish boundaries and see how best to teach you. I know you're not overly fond of books but you'll have to have them around; I need to know whether to teach you using a more lecture based approach or a more physically based approach." He got a confused look. "Did you learn better from your classes when a teacher stood in front of you and gave you a lecture or when you had to manually confront a problem?" Xander shrugged so he tried a different approach. "What was your favorite subject?"

"Knowing why people did things. Figuring out the why behind the actions." He looked up from his playing with the dead leaves, squinting at the light coming down into his face. "Can we move this around some before I go blind?"

"Certainly." Giles stood up, brushing off his pants. "I know of a nice little clearing nearby that should suit us well for this discussion." He led the way, his new student beside him. "I've noticed a few things over the years I've known you. You tend to take a more physical approach to a problem, that is, you tend to fight instead of think of a plan first." He walked into the clearing, motioning toward the boulders in the center.

Xander noticed the markings, walking over to look at them. "Who did these?" He touched one, closing his eyes as he felt a small 'zing' of power go through his hand. "They left energy."

"Yes, they did," Giles told him, very pleased. He sat down at the base of one rock, patting the one facing it. "Come sit and we'll figure out how best to teach you." The young man sat down, looking at the drawn and carved symbols around them. "No one's sure who carved these but we all know this is a powerful place, a very restful place." He looked over Xander, seeing him relaxing now. "Why were you heading here?"

"Don't know, just wanted to come this way when you yelled." He shrugged, reaching over his shoulder to scratch an itchy spot.

"Is the rock bothering you?" The younger man nodded. "Which symbol is touching you?" He watched as the younger man turned to look at it, frowning. "Well?"

"There are three grouped together," he said, moving farther away to show the spot off. "I'm not sure which it was."

"Hmm. Take off your shirt and rest against it again, let's see which one it is." He watched as his instruction was followed, thrilled that he'd caught his interest so easily. He waited for the wiggling body to move, looking at his back. "Well, I see you've been touched by the written one." He smiled some. "Most of the things you've done have been with symbols so I'm not surprised." He patted the firm shoulder. "I'll not teach you the Wiccan ways then, just the general things and let your own imagination dictate where you go next." He hit himself on the forehead. "I should have anticipated that, your imagination has always been very healthy." He looked at the younger man, smiling again. "Tell me who you think built this. Use the power of your inner voice to tell me who it was."

Xander closed his eyes. "I'm thinking Native here."

"No, don't think. I want the imaginary part, the one that turns the sky into shades of blue and the Principle into a slimy monster from a swamp. Which wasn't too bad of a story, needed a bit of editing but not much." That got him the patented grin again. "Who built this Xander," he asked quietly.

"Well, you know how all the Native peoples have all those similarities? And how no one is sure why? Well, I think those people put these rocks here, used some sort of special energy to carve the symbols and some sort of paint or a blood mixed with herbs or something. The markings are to teach, to guide maybe, some sort of interpretational lesson of unity." He opened his eyes, still smiling. "Like that?"

"Yes," Giles said, smiling now himself. "Just like that. But why put them here? Why not with the pyramids, or say the Central American Natives?"

"Because 'here' has power to sustain it. Those other place have some too but since it needs to be balanced because you keep saying nature is, they needed more negative energy to balance against their good." He tipped his head to the side. "And why not here? I mean, almost no one knows what Sunnydale is so it'd be safe here until someone like you found a reference and told the others. And I bet the vamps wouldn't come here, it'd feel too wrong to them." Giles was smiling brightly now, a look he hadn't earned very often. "Was I close?"

"You may be. No one knows who did it or why it's here but I can believe that it's some sort of teaching tool, a reader of sorts that we've yet to figure out. There are many places in the world that are like that." He reached over to pluck a stray leaf out of the younger man's hair. "If I showed you a series of symbols, what would you make of it?"


"But what if they're ideas or meant to be pictures?"

"Like on Ampata's crypt?" He shivered. "Sorry, but I can't deal with that very well still."

"I can understand that, you seemed very close to her and it must still cause you pain." He touched a jiggling knee. "Now, what was the problem this morning? Tell me what I said so I don't do it again." The younger man's whole body stiffened. "Oh, no, none of that. If you don't tell me, I can't avoid talking about it."

"Just...let's not mention my family, okay?"

"If you'd like. Unless you need to for some reason." Xander nodded. "Anything else you'd like to be off limits for a while longer?"

"Yeah, my jiggling." He removed the hand from his knee. "No offense, but I'm not... liking you that way."

"I know," Giles said, letting a little of the sadness he felt leak into his words. "It's just disconcerting to me that you're moving, constantly." He smiled, just a little. "I was put into a corner when I got too hyper to sit still."

"Yeah, but this isn't the old country and I'm not you." He looked up, daring him to say something.

"Very true, you're not me. We're very alike in some ways but we're not the same and we were both raised very differently." He picked up a leaf, handing it over after letting a little energy leak into it. He watched the younger man's eyes open in surprise at the glamour over the leaf. "But we're more alike than you may realize." He stood up, dusting off his pants. "Come, I left Buffy in my apartment and I know I won't be able to find anything if we don't stop her from cleaning."

"She's on a cleaning spree?"

"Of a sort. She's been having an orderly problem recently. Everything must be lined up and ordered and labeled." He sighed, leading the way out of the clearing. "I'm sure by now she has my books reorganized and the shelves labeled. There'll also be a handy chart or something for them." He looked at his student. "Never do that to me, I know where everything is."

"Hey, you've seen my room. I don't like to clean."

"Yes, well, a little order there might be in order." He smiled, putting an arm around his shoulder. "Come, we can come back tomorrow or the next day. After you're settled in again."

Xander snapped his fingers. "That's right. I've got to get in there to get whatever mess cleaned up." He looked at the town spread out before them, shaking his head. "Hope the 'rents aren't home yet."

"Where are they?"

"Not a clue, man, not a single idea." He headed for his house, walking briskly. "Want to come survey the damage with me?" he called over his shoulder.

"Only if you slow down," Giles called. "I'm not as young as you are." Xander stopped, waiting on him. "Thank you." He smiled at him, shaking his head. "How do you switch gears so fast?"

"Don't know. Will thinks I'm bipolar or something but I think she's nuts." He grinned at the small joke but only got a head shake for it. "You know, if you're gonna be spending so much time with me, you've got to learn to appreciate my sense of humor."

"Oh, I'm sure I'll adapt to it." They turned a corner, heading down to where the younger man's house was. They both sighed when they saw no sign of any one inhabiting the house, walking up the driveway. Giles looked around for the yellow tape he supposed should be there to keep people away but went inside anyway. He stopped as he ran into his student's back, grunting. "What?" he asked.

Xander stepped aside, pointing at the luggage littering the floor. "They're home," he said. He picked up the phone, calling the Police main number, tapping his foot in irritation. "Hi, this is Xander Harris. There was a call to my house and I was wondering if I can get into it today?" He closed his eyes, shaking his head. "Please, may I?" He paused. "I don't know. The first thing I knew, I was waking up at a friend's house and he said that the cops told him to come get me." He sighed. "Not a clue, ask them." He hung up. "They tore the tape off and went down to see what they'd arrested me for." He looked at Giles. "I'd disappear before they come home." He held up a finger, running up the stairs to his room, grabbing his book and belt, jogging back down to hand them over. "Take them and hide them for me? I really don't want them to know."

"Of course. Come over later if you can. If not, call or something." He patted the side of the younger man's face. "Xander, you always have a safe place at my house, even if it is on the couch. Never fear to come to me if you need me." He turned, walking around a tipped over suitcase, and headed home.

Xander watched his back until it was too far away to see then turned to see what he could do to straighten up the mess.