Xander bounced into Giles' apartment, grinning. "I found a semi-decent job this time," he said happily, hugging his friend. He stopped when he noticed the person standing in the room with them. "Hey, Olivia, sorry, had to share the news. Want me to go?" She shook her head, walking back into the kitchen so he looked up at his friend. "Forgot to tell us?"
The older man nodded, smiling slightly. "She's early actually. Can you take Spike?" That got him a frown. "Well, he can't very well stay here or at the girls' room. You can sing to him," he offered with a small smile.
Xander shook his head. "And I was having such a happy day too." He looked at the neutered vampire, frowning. "You're not going to like it," he warned.
"So? It's safer right now." He looked at Olivia, who was staring back at him. "She's scary, mate."
"I'm sure you think so," Giles said. He pulled the younger man aside. "I'd not ask under normal circumstances, but can you deal with him?" He got a small nod. "With *her* and all?"
"Oh, Anya? Sure, she'll have someone to babble to." Xander made a face. "Remind me again why I keep her around?" He snapped his fingers. "Oh, yeah, same reason you keep her." He was frowned at greatly. "Why torment me like this?"
"Because," Giles said. He looked over his shoulder. "Do keep him for a few minutes, I have to get him something from upstairs." He led the younger man up to his room. "Xander," he said softly as he closed the door behind them. "I had planned to break this to you gently. Yes, she's here for a long visit." He saw the hurt look. "I know, we still need to talk but it's going to have to wait until she's gone. She wouldn't understand."
"What about Oz? And our special guy's night?" He pouted.
"She wouldn't understand about either of them. Fortunately, he's changed tonight and Buffy's on patrol. Can we reschedule? I know you were looking forward to it." He nodded, the disappointment clear in his posture. "I'm sorry, I should have called you sooner."
Spike stuck his head around the door. "Getting some are we?" he asked, walking in. "Sorry, had to hide before she killed me." He closed the door behind himself. "Oh, is the poor Slayerette disappointed? Well, I'm sure I can make up for that loss." He smirked, only to find himself thrown up against the door.
"You'll do no such thing," Giles told him, all but snarling. "You'll behave or you'll fend for yourself again." He looked into the ice blue eyes, making sure his point was very clear.
"Understood. I'll be a good lad."
Xander trudged down his stairs, dreading the coming confrontation. "Buffy," he said, nodding before falling onto his bed. "You yelled?"
"Yeah, I need to talk to you, get you to stop this campaign against me."
"Didn't do anything yet," he said, yawning. "Sorry, Spike snores and kept me up most of the morning." He looked at her, seeing the tension radiating from her whole body. "I didn't do anything," he said quietly.
"Then how do they know everything?" She raised an arm, stretching, pulling her tank top tighter around her chest. He just looked away.
"Don't know, could be that Oz's friend told them. He works in one of the porn places." Xander got up, walking over to his little refrigerator. "Want a soda?"
"No, thanks." Buffy walked up behind him, reaching around to hug him. "How many have you seen?" she whispered next to his ear.
He flinched, moving away from her. "Too many now." He looked at the stairs then the windows then back to her. "I think you'd better go, it's almost time for me to go to work." She shrugged, turning to head up the stairs.
When he was alone again, Xander sat down on his bed, wondering how bad a friend he had been if he hadn't been able to see that coming.
Xander held the envelope he'd been dreading, the light weight of it much heavier in his mind. He looked at the little stubs that were left from the certified letter card, not wanting to look at the address at the top. "Why did I go roadtripping?" he asked himself quietly, walking out of the post office and down the street. He automatically headed for one of the people that would make it all better, stopping long enough to get his real travel journal. Not the one he had handed to Oz, the one that had most of the details and incidents in it. He knocked as he walked into Giles' apartment, smiling at all his friends there, even Buffy. "Hi," he said, taking his usual spot. Oz looked at the book and the letter, then up at his friend, silently raising an eyebrow. "Summons to testify," the younger teen explained, handing it over. "Open it for me? I don't want to read it."
The older teen slit open the envelope with his pen, taking out the folded papers and reading them silently. "Nope, not close enough." He flipped pages, frowning then looking back up. "Give me the book," he said softly, the underlying steel to his words showing that he was majorly pissed.
Xander shook his head, taking back the papers. He read quickly, holding his travel journal down with one hand. "That's a good at least," he said, folding them and putting it all back into the envelope. "But I'm still wanted to appear." He frowned at the renewed tugging on his book. "Don't even think about it. I told you about that."
"Give it to him," Willow said, not looking up, "or *I'll* tell him."
Buffy snatched the book, flipping through it before handing it over to Oz. "What's up with you anyway? You've been strange recently." She watched with a big smile as the older teen pulled him into the bedroom for a private discussion. "What was that about?" she asked innocently.
"His trip. Something happened and he was a witness."
Giles grunted, getting up and following the boys up to his room. He slammed the door, interrupting their heated discussion of serial killers. "I'd like to know what was going on," he said, walking over and taking the journal to read. "May I?"
Xander threw up his arms, nodding, then sat on the bed. "Sure, why not? Everyone else seems to know." He glared at his friend. "There's a reason I didn't tell you. This was it."
Giles turned the pages slowly, his frown getting deeper and deeper. "I'd not tell me this either," he said, closing the book and looking at his former charge. "Xander, why did you get into so much trouble?"
"My guardian angel was telling me to come back, I just wasn't understanding." The youngest man fell backwards, covering his eyes with an arm. "I'm fine and everything worked out okay. I wasn't hurt or anything."
"Except for the stitches that ended up in your butt," Oz pointed out. He grabbed the journal, sitting on the floor to read some more of it. "Is this the only one?" he asked after a few more pages, his face absolutely white now.
"Yup, not that stupid. I know enough to cover up after myself." Xander rolled his head to look at Giles, his arm going over his head. "It's nothing."
"If it had been nothing then you would have told us," the oldest man said stiffly. "And while I can understand why you didn't, so we wouldn't worry, all those cheerful letters you sent are now a lie and I should treat them as such."
"Just because I didn't tell you I had been stalked for a few days doesn't mean they weren't true!" Xander got up, stopping Giles from getting off the bed. "I wrote them, and yeah I didn't put everything in there. Did you want me to put all the people that hit on me in there?" He got a small frown for that. "Or how about all the other stuff that happened? Huh? Would you like to know how many times the cops thought I was someone else for a few hours?" He looked down at the carpet, shaking his head. "I didn't put that stuff in there because it scared *me* and I know it would have hurt you." He looked down at Oz. "That's why the copy of my journal that he got was the fixed version, with all the nice stuff in it and some other stuff."
"I can understand that," Giles said with a small sigh, "but I would have wanted to know. If we truly mean something to you then you've got to quit hiding the bad things from us."
Oz threw the book, standing up. "I thought we meant more to you than that," he said, glaring at his friend.
"We do," Xander said quietly. "You need to read the rest of that entry." He looked at the carpet. "I said that to protect you." He stood up. "I'm going home, you guys talk about it." He walked out of the room and out of the apartment, not saying anything to anyone. He was almost home when Oz caught up to him, spinning him around to glare at him. "Read the rest of it."
"Come back and explain it to me. I don't get that rationale."
"If you'd read the rest of it you would," Xander yelled, backing away. "Just go read it." He spun, running for the safety of his basement.
Giles knocked on his friend's door again, checking his watch. When he still didn't get an answer, he walked back around to the other door, trying that one again. He ran into Anya as he walked back to his car, frowning at her. "Where did he go this time?"
"Portland. He had to go watch the sentencing." She shrugged. "Didn't he tell you?"
Giles sighed, leaning against the aging metal. "Not hardly. We actually had a bit of a disagreement when I found out that he'd been stalked." He rubbed over his forehead, shaking his head. "I'll see him when he gets back then."
She pulled something out of her pocket, handing it over. "He said to give it to you if you seemed to care." She turned, walking away.
"Of course I care," Giles said softly, opening the folded paper. He read the note quickly, his mood lightening. "Yes, we'll discuss this and all will be well again," he said as he got in and pulled away from the younger man's house.
Xander stepped off the plane and smiled at the two people waiting on him. He walked over, smiling slightly. "I see she gave you my note," he told Giles, accepting the offered hug. He looked at Willow, who was frowning. "What?"
"Nothing, just that no one would tell me anything." She hugged him, squeezing him hard once and stepping back. "Oz said to give you that and tell you he's sorry. He'll be back tomorrow night."
The younger man nodded, switching the bag to his other hand. "Okay." He looked at Giles as he slid a hand around her waist. "Where are we off to?"
"My place," Giles said, taking the bag. "I've got a dinner preparing and you're staying the night on the couch." That got him a small smile.
By the time got back to the apartment, everyone was relaxed and all the pre-trip tension was gone. Willow was telling them about her classes and Xander appeared to be listening, even though he was watching every move the older man made, trying to gauge his mood by them. Willow finally realized no one was really listening to her so she looked at her watch. "Oops, got to go study," she said, standing up. She patted Giles' shoulder as she walked past him, smiling. "See you tomorrow night?" He nodded and she left.
Xander looked around. "Okay, you can yell now for me taking off like that." He was stopped by a hug, making him look at his friend. "You're not mad?"
"Oh, I am, I'm just happy to have you safely home." Giles stood up, walking them over to the couch. "I'd like to talk to you if I may though. About what happened. I know I can be a bit over-protective of you and I'm sorry if I hurt you."
The younger man chuckled. "That came out well, how long did you rehearse." That brought out a recently rare smile on the older man's face, making him scoot closer. "Yeah, you yelled, but I know that you cared. Even when I walked out I knew it was because you cared and I had been wrong to hold that from you." He stopped the opening mouth with a small smile, moving closer. "Don't argue with me, I'm the one doing the bad and should apologize for it."
"It's not your fault that he chose you."
"She. The other one was the he."
"She then." He frowned at the younger man. "You and I need to talk about this. I'm not letting you go out alone if this is the sort of trouble you attract."
"Me?" Xander asked innocently. That brought out a small laugh. "I'm fine. I handled it. Didn't even toss cookies at the cops when they were mean about it." He settled back on the couch. "Just don't tell Oz. That journal isn't complete either. There were things that I couldn't put in there." He looked down at the carpet. "He'd be *way* beyond pissed if he found out the rest and I'm not ready to deal with that yet." He glanced over at his friend. "Let's just say that I spent some time exploring all my sides." He got a small nod. "Nothing dangerous," he said quickly, "or... or fully or anything, just thoughts and pictures and small stuff." That got him a small nod. "Promise me he won't know?"
"I won't keep secrets from him without a good reason," Giles told him sternly. "I would have thought you'd learned that lesson by now."
"Oh, I have, but I'm thinking a good reason would be scary stuff I still don't want to even *think* about." That got a small nod. "Thanks."
"I can understand the rationale so I won't divulge this unless it's pertinent to the moment."
Xander snorted. "Hello, Library Guy," he said with a grin. "Why so stiff?"
"I don't know. I'm just a tad upset that you still think that we won't support you in whatever you do."
"It's not like that. Mainly, it's the fact that I don't want him to know that I had to hide behind someone bigger to prevent harassment. Not real manly there." Xander rolled his eyes at himself, getting comfortable. "Was out clubbing one night and one guy kept coming over to hit on me. I tried to tell him I was taken but he didn't listen, getting a little more friendly than I wanted." He felt the strong arms go around him. "Yeah, well, my first thought was 'Faith' so I ran to go hide. He followed so I hid better. He still came so I tried to leave. When that didn't work, I went up to a prostitute, the biggest one I could find and told him and asked him to pretend for a while. He did and the guy went far, far away. Apparently the guy I picked to help me had a reputation for protecting the littler kids on the street." He looked at his friend, seeing the worry. "We just talked, and yeah, I was nice and paid for the time so he wouldn't get into trouble even though he protested, but he stopped the guy from hurting me really badly and he was a good listener. Seems he had heard something like that before." Xander sighed, not wanting to move closer to the heated body but the special law of gravity that applies to people sitting on couches forced him closer, almost cuddling. "Thanks. I just don't want him to know."
"I won't tell him," Giles said quietly. "That is one secret I'll take with me to the grave." He pulled the younger man's head around. "I had no idea that Faith..." He got a small nod. "Were you badly injured?"
"Remember those marks around my neck?" He got a small nod. "That night. Angel saved me. That part was true but not that he stopped her part. Actually, he didn't do anything besides take me from her, he called Oz to come talk to me." He looked back down. "Seems I wasn't to connected to reality then and I wouldn't let him call you."
"I understand," Giles whispered, hugging him harder. "I'll not bring up her name again. I know this must hurt you."
"Oh, yeah. But I hid it really well, right?" He felt the small nod. "See, even Will doesn't know about what happened. Hell, *I* don't even know what happened, I was kinda passed out from lack of air." He shuddered. "Let's change the subject."
"Of course, how was your trip this time?" Giles said, easing back slightly until the younger man was sitting on his own. "Did you see any sights?"
"Oh a few. A really great zoo, the biggest bookstore west of the Mississippi, which was awesome! You would have really loved that place, so many books you'd be jealous." He grinned, snuggling in harder. "A big huge rose garden, oh, and I saw Mt. Saint Helen's, mostly form a distance. Mostly I was just in my hotel room thinking and hoping that she wouldn't get out." Xander shuddered. "Said she loved me and I loved her. That's why she came after me. The Prosecuting Attorney warned me that if she got out, she'd come after me so I'm supposed to be warning you about psycho women. Well, besides Anya." He grinned. "We all know I needed to be warned about her."
"She seems nice some days."
"And others she's just a walking sex robot with bad manners." He grunted as a finger found its way to his ticklish spot. "Well, she is. Before I left, she wore me out. I napped on the way to the airport." That got him a frown, a serious frown. "I need vitamins if I'm going to keep up with her. How many women do you know that have seventeen orgasms a night because they ride their men to death?"
Giles shook his head, letting the younger man go. "I'd think that would take more than one man."
"Oh, it does, it takes her toy and my finger and my tongue. And get this, she heard about threesomes and *immediately* wanted one." That got him a small smile. "I told her I wasn't going to double-team her with another guy, I wasn't that secure."
Giles snorted, pulling the younger man closer for another hug. "Maybe she'll find someone else soon," he offered.
"One can only hope." Xander looked at the older man, grinning. "Of course, I might help some with that. Maybe hint to someone else?"
"Please, dear God, no. I have no interest in her." He smiled. "But if I hear of someone who might satisfy her, I'll send her that way." That got him tickled and he laughed for a few minutes. "Oh, or there's another option. Send her to Buffy."
Xander's face just lit up. "Yeah, that might work. Or at least keep Buffy too busy to go out." He nodded hard. "I'll have to talk to her about getting another woman instead of a man. They'd appreciate her more."
"Indeed," Giles said softly, patting the younger man's shoulder. "Would you like to go take your bath now? I'll clear the dishes if you do."
"Want to come talk to me again?"
"Of course. I had no other plans. And I want to hear about the *good* parts of your trip. I read the most interesting thing about you in drag..." He let it trail off, getting up to let whoever had just run down the stairs inside. "Willow," he said, worried. "What's wrong?"
"Oz left me," she cried, falling into his arms.
Xander was instantly behind her. "Sshh, Will, come sit." She nodded, letting him lead her to the couch. She cried on his shoulder and he looked up as Giles walked outside. "He'll go talk to him," he said quietly, soothing her as he'd done so many times before.
Giles walked over to the van that he had heard pull up, frowning. "You had to break her heart like that?" he asked the man inside.
"I have to go think," Oz said. He opened the door, waiting until his occasional lover got in beside him. "Yeah, I did a bad thing with Veruca but then I did something worse. I killed her." He looked at the older man. "I'm sorry, I don't want to but I have to go think. I can feel the wolf calling me, prompting me for more." That got a small nod. "I'll write and keep in touch," he promised, taking the now cold hand in his. "Tell Xander?"
"Of course. He's inside right now." Giles turned, kissing the younger man hard, possessively. "Come back to me," he said, getting out. "Just figure it out and come back, I'll wait."
Oz nodded. "I'll be back, promise." He started the van, pulling away from the curb and one of his only friends.
Giles' shoulders slumped as he walked back inside. He looked around then at Xander. "Where did you stash her?"
"In the bathroom." He got up, hugging his friend. "I know, I heard about what happened." He shuddered. "We'll wait for him." He was hugged fiercely. "Hey, I'm not leaving. Not until after he comes back. Not unless I absolutely have to." He looked up into the pained eyes. "I know," he whispered, soothing this friend too as only he could at that moment.
End this part of series.