Notes: Angst! Xander's return from a kidnaping!
Exchanges and Returns.
Xander stepped off the portal from the demonic police plane and sighed. "Why did you put me here?" he complained. "I don't work here any more." He looked at officer. "Please?"
"I can't, sir. This was the last place we had you being. That's the rules." He shrugged. "At least you're in the right city."
"Yeah. Thanks. Thank whoever that cracktastic person who claimed to be my half- brother or whatever as well for helping save me." That got a nod. "If what he said was true, have him send a letter." The officer smiled and closed the portal. Xander looked at the people behind him. "No, I'm not here to work. This was where they stuck me so I can go home." He walked through the common areas of the brothel, running into one of the guards. "Lyle, can we get me a ride somehow to wherever Don would be working?"
"He's at the same precinct," he offered. "Our driver's out though."
"He doesn't get any...." Devi started then Xander glared at him, making him flinch. "Where were you, kid? Could'a used you last month."
"One of the demonic planes, Devi, and shockingly enough he mentioned your name to me while he was trying to rape me."
"Can't rape the willing," one of the guys noted dryly.
"And if I'm not?" he sneered back, making everyone shut up. "Remember, I left this place. Very happily left this place." He walked off. "Please escort me out, Lyle?"
"Sure." He followed him, glancing over when they were in the elevator down to the club. "Need to see a doctor?"
"No, I need to see someone who'll hug me and tell me they're never coming back since I killed them." He looked around the club. "Pick me a target?" he whispered. Lyle pointed at one guy and he walked over there, smiling as he sidled up next to him. "Hey, precious," he cooed. The man finished his drink and smiled at him. "Can you help a lonely little boy get home?"
"Home to where?"
"My man's crib. It's up in Manhattan." He turned on the charm and soon the guy gave him forty bucks. He kissed him and made his night. "Thank you." He strolled out with a twitch of his hips, the braid down his back swaying with his movements. As soon as he walked outside he spit and Lyle got him a cab. "Thank you. If anyone asks, have them ask the Demonic Police. They helped save me with some guy who claimed his daddy is a Metharn and he had adopted my stupid ass or something. Speaking of, what day is it?"
"September 18th." He held the cab's door open, letting the kid get inside. "You take him right there," he ordered. "We just got him back from someone who snatched him."
"Yes, sir. Where to?"
"The twelfth precinct. I've only got forty is that going to be enough?"
"It'll be close but it should be." He sped off, going to take the shortest rate. "Are you okay? Shouldn't you go to the hospital?"
"No, my protector works there. They stole me from home and right now all I want is a hug," he admitted, sounding pitiful to his own ears. He curled up some, watching the familiar scenery as it rolled past. "I hate being kidnaped and now I find out it's been three months?" he asked himself. "Gods, Don's gotta be freaking out. If he hasn't declared me dead yet." He watched as they went over the bridge and into Manhattan, making himself calm down. He gave the cabbie what he had. "I've got a necklace if you want it for the other two."
"No, go ahead, kiddo." Xander nodded, sliding out and inside. He walked past a few of the cops and up to the desk. "Is Flack in?" he asked quietly. Everyone stopped to stare at him. "Yes, someone found me and rescued my stupid ass," he said hotly. "Please!"
"He's off on a scene. Let me get one of the others, Harris," the sergeant said calmly. "Are you all right?"
"No!" he said, looking miserable. "This guy kept coming in and putting me on his lap and telling me he was going to rape me and I'd fucking well enjoy it. So no, I didn't like killing him and I didn't like him when he was alive either." Everyone stared at him. "It was out of the city. They sent me back to the only place they knew about me here. I just got out of there. Please, someone tell Don I'm alive?"
"I've already paged him," one of the officers soothed. "Did they want to charge you?"
Xander looked at him. "No. The police there decided it was justified." He broke then forced it back down. "Can I go sit?"
"Here, sit here," he said, putting him on the bench. Xander curled up next to the desk. They looked at each other and every single CSI got the same message, 'he's back'.
Danny came strolling in and paused, looking at him. "Xander, where the hell were you?"
"Not in the city." He looked up at him. "The DPP rescued me with someone who claimed I'm his half-brother because his father adopted me. News ta me, but he said so." He shrugged and stood up. "I'm okay and he'll never try it again after I stabbed him in the stomach." Danny nodded, pulling him closer to hold. Xander relaxed for the first time in a few days, just holding on. "Please tell me I have a home?" he whispered.
"You do. I promise you do. Don's been worried sick." He sat down with him, letting him cuddle. "What happened?" Xander whispered it in his ear, making him groan. "Those lessons we've been giving you paid off?" he asked bitterly. Xander nodded, cuddling in again.
Aiden ran in. "Xander!" She pulled him up, looking him over. "God, where were you!" She smacked him upside the head then pulled him into a hug. "Oh, baby." He clung to her.
"One of the guys like where he used ta work had him," Danny said quietly. "How did you get back?"
"The DPP sent me to Devi. I conned some guy into cab fare," he admitted bitterly. "That way I could get back here and he couldn't keep me."
"Hey, he was probably drunk and more than happy to help you," she assured him, looking him over. She noticed the braid when she turned him around. "Damn! I'm seeing that hair down later." She looked at his eyes again. "Are you all right? Need someone?"
"No. I'm fine. Now. I wasn't earlier but I'm starting to relax now." Someone grabbed his arm and he got free, then turned and found Don. "Don." He clutched him, cuddling in. "Home? Please home?"
"Home, kiddo. Come on. Danny?"
"Later. Get him settled."
Don nodded and walked out with him, Aiden following. "What the hell happened? I woke up tied up and you were gone when someone finally came to check," he said when they were safely in the car and headed home.
"Don, he's gonna barf," she warned. He pulled over and Xander got out to be sick. "He said something about the DPP and some idiot who claims his father adopted him rescued him. Said he killed the guy who had him and who was taunting him before he raped him," she said quietly.
Xander got back into the car and snuggled back into his side. "He'd come in and he'd sit me on his lap and try to get me to get it up and then he'd tell me how I'd make a pretty bitch and I wouldn't miss my life." He broke and Don held him while he cried. "I didn't even know how long it was. I thought it was only six days because that's how long the DPP said they had been looking for me." He looked up. "I fought my way out of there, Don. I promise I did. I got him and they took him away and others tried it to prove they could take his place. I got more of them. Then this guy comes in and says I'm his half-brother or something because his daddy adopted me and I'm the heir to a higher demon line. He got the DPP. They ruled it justified and all but they sent me back to Devi's and then I had to get someone to give me cab fare home. Devi suggested he wanted me back when I walked off. One of the guys said I was probably willing. Can't rape the willing," he mimicked.
Don gave him a squeeze. "Shh, you're home now, Xander."
"We're moving," he said, looking at him. "One of the guys said Devi turned them onto me. The first guy said he had bought me from Devi and he'd enjoy me for however long I lasted." He wiped his face off. "I can't be sure Blair didn't have a hand in it," he said bitterly. "Any of them. I want a place like Superman, a fortress."
"Then we'll do that." He gave him another hug. "It'll be okay. You're safer now. We'll do shifts if we have to until we can move somewhere safer." Xander nodded. "Aiden?"
"Not like I'm busy."
Xander looked back at her. "Are you on vacation?"
"No, I'm fired." Xander glared at her. "Mac caught me thinking about tampering with evidence."
"No, it was wrong of me," she assured him. He shrugged. "It was, Xander."
"And! Thinking about it isn't a bad thing, doing it is!"
"I know, but he's worried about the lab." She stroked over his arm. "Leave it alone for now. Concentrate on calming down and getting okay again. Let's get you home. That way you can shower and change into your own clothes." Xander nodded and let go of Don, settling back into his seat. "Good boy, Xander." She leaned forward, hugging him. "We've gotcha. You're safe now. No one's doing it again or I'm going on a rampage. I nearly killed Blair before; I will if he shows up now." He nodded, resting against her hands. "Shh, you're safe and we have you." Don pulled into the parking garage. "You let us handle the moving stuff." Xander nodded. "I'll make sure it's a really safe place and if they come back for you, I'm gonna show them why I'm a scary geek with a gun and why half the city was scared of scary geeks with guns." Xander let out a tired chuckle at that. "Come on. Let's go home." Xander nodded, getting out and letting them walk him upstairs. One of the neighbors popped out and Xander nearly jumped but Aiden grabbed him to hold and glared at her.
"He was taken out of the city," Don told her. "He just got back."
"Ooh, the poor baby!" She came over and hugged Xander. "You go rest and calm down again, Xander. I'll bring over cookies later."
"Thank you," he said quietly. "I'll miss you as a neighbor."
"I'll miss you too, baby. It's all right." She watched them head inside then went to call her friends in the building to let them know that the apartment was going to come open soon. They had all decided it had something to do with Don's job and the crooks he was catching and Xander's ex-boyfriend who had dumped him. So it would be perfectly safe for someone else.
Xander walked in and stripped, heading for the shower. He paused and looked around. "There's magic going on."
"Oz had someone put scrying spells on for him and a protection to keep Don safe," Aiden assured him. He nodded and headed in to shower. "When you're done, come out and I'll braid your hair again." She looked at Don. "He's going to scream at Mac," she said quietly. He nodded. "You might warn him."
"Nope. Sucked to the rest of us too," he noted dryly. "He deserves it. Thinking about it doesn't mean you did it and that's not a crime." He went to get a beer for them both and Xander came out, taking his own. "You sure?"
"I need to relax."
Aiden took it from him and put it back, taking him back to the bathroom. She got him into the shower and grabbed a sponge, then stripped and climbed in with him, getting to work calming him down and making sure he was all right. It wasn't sexual but it was calming for both of them. She even worked on his hair, undoing it and tossing the jeweled clip into the sink. Xander leaned on the wall, his arms pillowing his head, and let her do whatever she wanted. "Usually I'd make a pass...." He let out a snort. "I know. You're not ready for that yet."
"Why does anyone like me?"
"Because you're a nice guy. You're sweet and you're kind. You're very protective of those who need it," she reminded him. "You're sexy as hell. You're probably great in bed. The ones who take you realize that they'll never be worthy of a great guy like you and think this is the only way to get someone as special as you." He looked back at her. "Really. You can't tell me the asshole who had you was worthy of you."
"He wasn't worthy to fuck a slime demon, Aiden." She smiled at that. "He wasn't. I could've taken anything but it was taunting. I made myself not react but he kept taunting and trying. Like me getting hard was all the excuse he'd need!"
"Maybe it was. It'd justify it for him. I've seen other rapists like that. Then the victims beat themselves up because they reacted like a normal body would." She gave him a hug and he clung to her. "Shh, you're with the family again. It's all right, Xander. The next one who tries gets my size eights up their ass and out their brain." He chuckled at that. "I'm small but I'm feisty. They will get it from me." He nodded, letting her snuggle in. At least until he heard someone pounding. Then he flinched. "Shh, that was Stella's worried knocking." Sure enough, Stella came in and moved the curtain, pulling Xander out to hold him. "Stella, the guy kept taunting him about how he was gonna hurt him."
"That's what Danny said." She looked Xander over, seeing the blush. "Oh, please. I've seen you naked before, Xander." She looked at his hair. "Cute. We'll get that trimmed if you want." He shrugged. She pulled him closer again, letting him hug her. "Shh, it's all right." Aiden got out and shut off the water. "Don's making dinner."
"I'm going to get a brush so we can deal with his hair." Stella nodded at that, moving so she could get dressed and head out.
"Good! Let Aiden find you something! She claims she's bored." Xander looked up at her. "I protested too, Xander. In private but we all protested what Mac did," she said quietly.
"It still sucks and he deserves to get his ass kicked."
"Yeah, well, it takes a bigger woman than me to do it," she noted dryly. "I'm pretty sure Danny threatened to kill him." She gave him a squeeze. "You had us all so scared. All we knew was that Don didn't call or show up for work so Danny came over to check on him. He found him tied up and your bed hadn't been slept in."
"I was cuddling with him that night," he said, looking at her.
"Hey, he seems like he's a good cuddle." She let him go. "Dry off, get dressed. Come out. I'll help Aiden with all that hair of yours." He nodded and she handed him a towel, helping him dry off his back. She found a few scars but nothing she could be sure he hadn't had before. "He didn't hurt you otherwise?"
"Mind fucks," he said bitterly. "Taunting. Then when I managed to end him, more came in to prove they deserved to lead his clan."
"Where were you?"
He looked at her. "One of the demon planes. The Demonic Police helped some guy who claimed I was adopted by his higher demon daddy rescue me after a few more of them got me. At one point in time they decided I had been classified wrong so I went into the fighting ring." She shuddered. "Basically. Danny's lessons paid off a lot." He walked into his room and found it spotless. He smiled and relaxed, pulling out some sweats. He pulled them and a pair of socks on, padding out to the living room.
Aiden pointed at the floor next to her feet and he sat, letting her handle his hair for him. "You've got some really nice hair, Xander," she offered, stroking through it with the brush. "Are you going to keep this massive ponytail?"
"I don't know. I hate hair pullers." She chuckled and hugged him. "I do."
"I don't blame you, baby. I do too."
"Me too," Stella agreed. "It'll make me dump a boyfriend faster than anything if he pulls my hair during sex." Don smirked at that. "It will." She smacked him on the arm. "Need help?"
"Please." He let her help him cook until the next person knocked, politely this time. "That's not one of his motley group of cops." He went to open it, seeing the building's owner there. "Blair."
Xander glared at him. "Blair," he said coldly.
"Surely you can't think I had anything to do with this, Xander," he said, walking inside.
"Yeah I do. I heard you mentioned by name a few times."
"I'm not the only Blair in existence."
"No, you're the only Master Vampire named Blair with a childe that you sent there to place bets for you," he said bitterly. The vampire flinched. "Out. We're moving." Blair nodded and bowed, backing out and heading off. "Don, can I do an uninvite spell on the doors?"
"Sure, will it work since we had one done and he walked in anyway?" he asked, looking at him. Xander grimaced. "I'm guessing ownership is an out-clause. We'll look at places tomorrow. I told my boss I'd be back in a few days." Xander looked at him. "I've burned a few vacation days tryin' ta figure out what happened." He came over to get another hug. "You better now?"
"Yeah, I'm home." Don smiled. "I want to live in Fort Knox."
"I'll help you guys find one and get you moved," Aiden promised. "That way I'm not bored, you're not alone when Don's gotta go back to work, and you can't kill Mac. If Danny can't, you can't," she said at his miniature glare. "When Danny goes to take him down, you can help." He nodded, relaxing back against her thighs. She pulled the hair out of the way and got back to work. "Don, you should feel this stuff. It's thicker than Stella's."
"I've felt it when it was shorter." He ran a hand over it. "That is really thick. We'll let someone good do it when you're ready to trim it or whatever." Xander nodded, closing his eyes and resting against Aiden's knees. "You rest, we'll wake you for dinner." He went back to help, washing his hands. "Where's the hair thing he had earlier?"
"Sink. It's a jeweled band," Stella said quietly, looking at him. "The guy who paged me said he snapped at them. That he was really uptight and said he killed someone."
"He probably did. I'm proud that he did," he assured her. "Danny will be, Connor and them too." She nodded, leaving it there. "Even if it did hurt him more, it saved his life, Stella. They might've taken advantage of it." Someone tapped on the door. "What!" he yelled.
"It's me," Sheldon called. Stella came out to let him in. "Expected the press?"
"Building's owner might've been in on it," she offered. "He's already shown up and knocked politely too."
He nodded. "I'll be more brusk next time. I got sent to check Xander over." He looked at him, seeing him tense but his eyes closed. "Xander, it's Sheldon." He relaxed again. "Come on, let's go check you over, make sure you're fine."
"No obvious wounds," Aiden assured him. "I helped him calm down in the shower." That got a nod and Sheldon helped the younger man up and into his bedroom to check him over and talk with him. At one point they heard him shouting and they all tensed but Sheldon got him calmed down again.
"Did you draw blood?" Don called.
"Yes," floated out. Sheldon came out a few minutes later. "I'm testing it at the lab too. I'm pretty sure Mac won't care considering he was pacing his office and talking to himself the other day about this." He repacked his bag. "Did he call his other friends?"
"Not yet. Did Danny?"
"Yeah, he called that Adam guy as he walked down the halls of the lab. He'll be here in an hour, once he finishes calling your other friends." Don nodded at that. "Let me go get the bloodwork started. Need anything while I'm out?"
"Powder? I'm out," Xander admitted as he came out. "Thank you, Sheldon."
"Welcome, Xander. It's what a good doctor and a friend does." He smiled at the boy when he went to sit beside Aiden and let himself be petted and cuddled. "So, are you going to move?"
"Yeah, just as soon as we can find somewhere safer. Aiden's running a second shift of watching him with us." Sheldon nodded and said something quietly to Xander before disappearing. Don pulled the pizza out of the oven and put it on top to let it cool, then put in a second one to cook while he cut that one up. They'd need it. The kid had a good appetite and he hadn't eaten really well probably. He brought out the first one and Xander leaned over to sniff it, smiling at him. "Yeah, it's your kind instead of mine. Eat. I doubt they gave you real food."
"Liquids." He took a piece and blew on it then nibbled slowly. "Where did you want to move to, Don?"
"Somewhere safer. Somewhere without a demonic element inside the building." Xander nodded, accepting that. "We'll start with a computer search tonight and then go from there."
"I said I'd find it, Don," Aiden reminded him.
"Yeah, but you've got to be busy finding other stuff, like a new job," he noted delicately, for him.
She shrugged. "So I go another week without circling want ads. Not like there's so much in the city at the moment. I'm thinking about going back to school anyway." She got her own piece of pizza and someone knocked semi-politely. "What!" she called.
Xander and Don had both stared at the door. "Come in," Xander called. Connor and Richie came in. "I'm back. He's dead."
"Good. We should go over your training again, make sure you didn't get too hurt." Xander shrugged and cuddled in again. Connor looked at him. Xander stuck his tongue out. "Xander."
"Not right now, Russ. I'm enjoying being home and not kidnaped for a bit. You can challenge me later."
"Fine. I'll do that." He sat on his other side, letting the boy give him a hug. "I'm glad you're back, Xander. We were very worried about you."
Xander shrugged. "I killed the guy who had me and a few others."
"That's a good boy," he praised. Xander grimaced. "I know, you don't like it." Xander shook his head, looking at him. "Remember, survival means you get to come home."
"I know and now I'm moving." Connor nodded, relaxing at that. "We need somewhere safe."
"I'll ask Amanda where she can't get into," Richie offered.
"Who's Amanda?" Stella asked.
"A world-class jewel thief I know," he admitted bitterly. "If she can't get into it, no one can. What's the price range?"
"A few mil," Xander said quietly.
"Sure. We can do that," Aiden assured him, glaring at Richie. "I doubt that's the sort of friend he needs."
"Being able to pick handcuffs locks comes in handy," Connor admitted. "She's a decent enough woman but she will try to take anything not nailed down." He looked at Xander, who was still grimacing. "We only came to check on you, Xander. We'll head home. Will you come in tomorrow?" Xander nodded. "Thank you. We'll see if some exercise might finish relaxing you." Xander nodded so he got up and gave him a pat. "That is a lot of hair."
"I'm not sure what I'm doing with it."
"Braid small strips of wire into it," Richie told him. "That way no one can take you by grabbing it." Xander smiled at that. "I'll make him lay off for the night. Get some rest. It's the important thing." He left, following Connor out, calling Amanda. If she couldn't get into it, no demon could.
Xander looked at Don. "Did anyone tell Donny?"
"Yeah, I texted him earlier," Don promised. "On my way back. He was worried sick too, kiddo." He nodded at the pizza. "Eat more. Stella, check the second one?" She checked it and took it out, putting it on top of the stove to let it cool and cut it. "See, there's two. Eat." Xander nodded, taking another piece to nibble the toppings and cheese off of before he ate the crust. "Good boy." Xander gave him a slight grin. Danny walked in and slammed the door behind him, coming over to take Xander's free side. "We got issues?"
"No, we're good. Mac said he'd wait a day so Xander didn't feel the need to finish destressing by taking his head." Xander nodded at that.
"I said he could go with you when you went to do it," Aiden offered with a grin.
"Works for me. I saw Richie and him. They nag?" Xander nodded. "Then we'll go knock him on his ass for an hour tomorrow before coming back." He took a piece of pizza and flipped on the tv. Xander curled his feet into his lap, earning a grin. "Sneaky." Xander grinned shyly. "Stretch out. Lay on Aiden though. That way I'm not tempted to make you my purr kitten to pet." Xander giggled and laid down, letting him have his legs. He fell asleep that way within minutes. "Well?"
"Demonic plane," Don told him. "They had him in a gladiator thing too."
"Joy," he said bitterly. "Anything else?"
"He won," Don said simply.
"Huh?" Aiden asked.
"They were trying ta kill him, Aiden. He won. He had to kill a few people ta do that." He stroked Xander's leg when he tensed up. "Shh, rest. We'll talk about happier stuff." Xander relaxed and drifted off again. "So, where are we looking to move?"
"I can commute some," Don assured him. "Within a half-hour from the station, Aiden. Normal traffic type traffic." She nodded. "You wanna use our computer?"
"I'll do that while you nap with him tonight, Don. I doubt you want him to sleep in his own bed."
"If he wants ta cuddle he knows I'll let him. All he's gotta do is climb in." He finished up a slice of pizza and looked at the tv. "Not food. Comedy?" Danny changed it then hit Spike TV. "Okay, we can watch Law and Order." Stella snorted. "Sorry. At least it's some realistic cops. They're not all pretty and shit."
"True." She settled in beside Danny to watch with them, resting against his side. "Hey, Aiden. I did protest that night," she said quietly.
"I know ya did," she promised. Stella smiled and relaxed again. Aiden and Don shared a look. "Okay, you sleep tonight, I'll rest tomorrow while you've got it. How many days did you take off?"
"Not a clue. I told her I'd be back in a few days, once I got him settled back in and made sure he was okay. She agreed. So I'm not sure." He shrugged. "We'll see, won't we?" Xander shifted again. "Xander, come cuddle?" Xander got up and came to cuddle him, sinking into his lap and cuddling with him. He went back to sleep and stayed asleep this time. Don stroked his back under his hair, keeping him calm and from having nightmares. Someone with a quickening was coming and they tapped mostly politely. Danny got up and let Oz in. "How did you get here?"
"I got told he came back and I was only in Chicago." He looked at Xander and nodded. "He okay?"
"More or less. He said it was a long mind fuck," Aiden offered.
Oz nodded at that. "Some of them are like that. They're all sorry now. Make sure he knows that." He came over to give Xander a hug around the head, earning a grumble. "Shh, I'll be in town tomorrow too." Xander snuffled and relaxed again. "Good boy, Xander." He nodded at Don. "Whenever you're ready tomorrow. It'll be easier. He'll start to heal from whatever he had to do." He nodded at Danny and the ladies, then left.
Aiden looked at Danny. "Do I wanna know what sort of funky club you guys belong to?"
"Nope," he said, looking at her. "It probably wouldn't make you happy and you can't join. I already asked."
"Oh." She pouted. "At all? Even as a guest?" He shook his head. "Damn it."
He nodded. "Basically. But it's better this way for you." He kissed her on the cheek then leaned on her, letting Stella have his side instead of his shoulder. Aiden swatted him but he grinned. "The kid's right, you're very comfortable."
"Fine, this time." He grinned and got comfy, making Stella laugh when he wiggled. They shared a look and Aiden grinned. "This is why I couldn't date him."
"All that energy's gotta come out in the bedroom," she teased.
Danny looked at her. "Was that an offer to show you, Stella?" She blushed and shook her head. "Until it is, don't speculate. You have no idea how bouncy I am in there." She blushed brighter and settled in on his side, weathering Don's grin. "You wanna find out, Flack?"
"No thanks. I'm used ta gettin' cuddles from him but I'm not really into guys."
"Eh. If you change your mind, tell me. It'll be fun." He winked and grinned at him.
"Yeah, when pigs come and root out truffles in my ass, Messser."
Danny grinned. "That I want on tape."
"Guys!" Stella complained, making them all laugh and relax. It was better now that Xander was back. They could all relax again.
Xander finished the move he was going for, trapping his blade behind Don's head, against his neck, and moved in closer, his non-gripping hand going onto the blade to trap him. "Yield?" he asked quietly.
"Yield or not?" he asked, adding a hint of pressure.
"Yield," he agreed quietly. Xander dropped his sword and Don pulled him against him again, just holding him. "I knew it was too soon."
"Which means someone would challenge me today," he said bitterly, hiding against Don's chest. "I'm sorry."
"No, this is one where you play to win, Xander. I get better and you get better and heal." He walked Xander off to a corner to sit down with him. "Wanna talk about it?" Xander shook his head. "How long did they have you fighting?"
"Since I killed the third guy who claimed he was going to be my new master and the head guy."
"You said you thought it was only six days. How many?" he asked gently.
Xander looked at him. "Four," he admitted. "Twenty matches. No training time, no time to heal. My healing was slower because I wasn't here." He put his head back down again. "I won, they zapped me back out until I had to be brought out of the closet again to fight. It was like I was a robot."
"Then they didn't value you," Danny said as he squatted in front of him. "They definitely don't deserve you." He stroked over the shorter long hair. Aiden had helped him trim off six inches. It was the middle of his back now. "Can you show me that one?" Xander shook his head quickly. "It was a bad thing, Xander, but you've got to move on now. You're home."
"Can't I even have time to rest!" he demanded.
Danny looked at him. "The law of averages says no. You said it yourself. If you didn't, you'd have been challenged today." He stroked over his hair again. "We're not doing anything more than figuring out if you've gotten any better. Come on, I'm tougher than Don is." Xander groaned but got up and walked off with him.
"I know this is like after your first shooting they make you requalify but it sucks," Don called. "He's not ready yet, Danny."
"Ready or not is irrelevant," Connor reminded him. "There have been any number of us who've been taken right after our first death, before we even realized why we woke up or that we woke up. It's not right but that's why they're called hunters, Don. Not nice people. Danny, let me. I think I know this one." He moved into position across from Xander. "Just do what you did with Don, then we'll see if you've gotten better." Xander nodded and lunged slowly, making Connor back up and block, then shift to parry. Then Xander ducked, then ducked again, then came up with his sword in front of his neck this time since he did it from behind him. One hand on the grip, one hand bracing on the back of the blade. "Interesting." He nodded. "Back off, let's try to counter that so you know what they're trying to do." Xander let him go and let him lead this time. Xander sped up and worked it out, taking it out on him for making him do this today, when he was just starting to come down. He felt himself slipping and tried to get rid of it, but it wasn't going to work. He stomped off, heading to hide in the bathroom.
"Hmm, haven't seen that since Oz did it. Don, does he often slip mental states?"
"Yeah, from cuddly GHS Xander to predator, hunting Xander. The one who used ta stake and all that stuff." He got up. "I knew this was a bad idea, guys. You just brought him back to the place he was when they had him and were making him fight. He's finally starting to calm down and now you've set him back again." They both looked away and he went to take care of Xander, finding him panting. "Hey," he said quietly, moving closer. Xander tensed. "Xander, look at me." Xander looked up in the mirror. "It's Don." He grabbed him and held him still, keeping him from moving. "Shh, I've got you," he said, trying to calm him down again. "I've got you. I'm still Don, just calm down a bit. I've got you." Xander relaxed so he eased off his hold but he struggled so he tightened it and went back to whispering in his ear, trying to talk him back down.
Danny watched from the doorway then came in to get Xander's back. "Xander, it's Danny. It's all right, Xander. Come on, princess." That got a growl. He grinned. "You are. You're the most gay GHS princess there is. Come on out and we can cuddle up tonight. I promise. I'll even handcuff Don for you." He held him and Don petted instead and it seemed to work. "See, I told you it was okay," Danny soothed. "Just let it go, Xander. You're safe and home now." Xander went limp so Don took him back.
"Shh, it's just us. They're sorry they made you go back to that thought," he soothed, stroking over his back and hair. "Come on, I could use a good cuddle. We'll go put in a movie and cuddle at home, all right?" Xander nodded, clinging to his chest. "Shh, I've got you. Come on, we'll go cuddle on the couch. Danny can take Aiden out to get into trouble for a bit." Xander shook his head. "No? Okay then they won't. Come on. Let's go to the car." Xander nodded, letting himself be led. Don glared at Danny.
"Sorry." He backed off but did follow. "I can't believe the game's got three of them," he muttered as he walked. Don shot him another dirty look. "Berserkers, Don. We've got three now. Him, Oz, and Rahjid, who's in Bangladesh being a doc right now. They're scary ass people when they fight." He got them into the car and moved to drive since Xander wasn't letting go of Don's shirt. By the time he got home, Xander was nearly asleep and Don had to all-but carry him up the to the condo. Danny used his key to let them in then got out of the way. "He got stressed," he said at Aiden's look from the kitchen. "Any luck?"
"Some. Two spots. One's industrial in the extreme. The other's a house but it's from a former gunrunner. It's got good security and stuff. Small yard. It's a bit farther out than you wanted. I did put out a wanted ad on the GHS website, Don. I'm hoping one of them might know." She watched as Don and Danny both stiffened. "What? Wrong thing to do?"
"Footsteps," Danny offered. He peeked out the door then flung it open. "Adam."
"He's back?" He pushed past him and found Xander on the couch. "Oooh, precious." He hauled him up and back to his bedroom to talk to him.
A skinny blond with dark glasses waved from the doorway. "Excuse his manners. He's really worried about Xan. Can we...." Don nodded. "Thanks. I'm Ray, that was Adam. Danny said he was back." He went to follow after hugging Danny. "He said he trained you too. Are you a GHS member?" he asked while they walked. "Or was it the other stuff?"
"Other stuff." Ray shrugged and went in there, closing the door behind him. Danny looked at Don. "I've never seen Adam twit like that." He checked the hall then closed the door. "He'll be good for him, Don." Xander let out a small scream of pleasure. "See?" Even Aiden was blushing at that. "The kid needed the stress relief after earlier." He washed his hands and came in to help cook. "What's the industrial space like?"
"A small converted warehouse."
"Interesting. How much? Where and good security?"
"Great security and with a company already monitoring it. It is in Tanglewood territory." Danny gave her an evil look. "What?"
"Not good. Nope. Closer to here, Aiden."
"There's almost nowhere on this island that's got security like that, Danny. I asked everyone." She looked at Don. "I did get an offer for this place and I told them to officially write it out and I'd bring it to the owner. Fair value, which is two and a half." Don whistled at that. "How much did he pay?"
"One and a half. The former people moved upstairs and it was the difference between this place and that one." He got comfortable. "What about the GHS site?"
"There's two listed on there but they're both out in upper Queens. One hell of a commute." Both guys nodded at that. "Neither one has good security in my opinion."
"We can always put in better security if we have to," Danny pointed out. "Did you look around Little Italy and Soho?"
"Yes," she said patiently. "Nothing decent's open there right now. Now, if he wants to move to the financial district...." She shrugged. "There's a few nice ones there but Xander would never fit in."
"Greenwich," Don said patiently. "It's going more upscale. There should be something there and it'd be easier to alarm something newer." He rolled his head to look at them. "Plus there's four other GHS who live there and the spa he likes is in Tribeca. I'll look tonight after dinner, Aiden."
"I talked to the real estate agents and those folk, told 'em I was looking for a client who was moving into the city. They couldn't find anything, Don."
He smirked. "I'll browse the PD's chat room. If anyone knows what's not secure, we would." They both smirked at that. He went into the office to do that, finding the computer still running a search for Aiden. He amended it for lower Manhattan and let it start over. There were a lot less real estate listings than he thought there should be. He pulled up the PD's chat room, logging on under his badge number and name. He asked the question 'do we have anyone on from near Greenwich' and got back a few 'yeses' and a private room invitation to join them. He went there to ask them, telling them that Xander was a GHS member. Someone said it was good they finally got him back. Don pointed out he had been out of the country this time. He had woke up tied to the bed as well. So therefore they had gotten lucky but they were going to move. It went on for nearly an hour, Danny putting food down next to him so he could eat while he typed. He copied and pasted the better suggestions. And one bad one that the person said it wasn't the greatest neighborhood but it was starting to be rebuilt and fixed up again. He thanked them and went to the GHS website and saw Aiden's ad had paid off in a few more, copying them down as well. Then he went to look in the paper. Maybe he could find something for a decent price. Moving from the Lower East Side would be good for them.
Don tapped on Xander's door later that night, smiling when Ray answered wearing only boxer shorts. "It's all good here. We're setting up watches for tonight. Aiden will be in the office if you need her. I'm going to bed now and I'm across the hall. Is he okay?" Ray let him see the kid, who was curled up on Adam's chest and sleeping, snoring loudly this time. "He does that to me now and then too," he admitted. "It helps him to cuddle some nights. If you guys need anything, just ask her."
"What about when you're at work tomorrow?" Adam asked quietly.
"I'm off for a few days. My boss knew I was going to be and she didn't give me any grief over it."
"That's fine. Are you moving?"
"We're finding a spot right now," he promised. "We're looking for somewhere with a lot better security and no ties to the demonic, like this building has." Adam raised an eyebrow. "The owner's name is Blair...."
"Ah, him I know."
"Good. Xander said he knew where he was," Don said casually. "Said something about betting on him...."
"He told us," Ray said, looking at his mate. "You know him too?"
"Fellow customer," Adam admitted. "He'll be paid a visit very shortly I'm sure." He smirked at Don. "So, do you get cuddles or did he take me up on my suggestion?"
"Ask him. I don't share those sort of details." He smirked and went to his room, climbing into bed. He had gotten to cuddle Xander all night last night. Adam and Ray could have him tonight. And even though he was straight, that was one hot mental image. He could definitely see Xander between those two.
"Whoo-hoo!" Aiden called. "Found it!" She came into Don's room and flipped on the lights, showing him what she had printed out. "Is that what you were thinking?"
He took it to read over, nodding slowly and smirking at her. "Definitely, Aiden. Very nice. Tour it tomorrow for us?" She nodded, taking it back and sending an email to the owners. Don settled in to listen to the quiet murmurs and groans coming from Xander's room. Because that thought was still stuck with him. Then again, he obviously wasn't getting his nightly treat and cuddles tonight. He had hoped the kid would start again when he came back. He didn't realize how much he counted on that to put him into a good mood. Even the patrol guys had steered clear of him a few days because he had been too grumpy. Ray's giggle made him smile. That's how sex was supposed to be, fun. They had Xander well in hand, for now. They'd see how the kid was in the morning.
Xander looked around the spot Aiden had found then looked at her. "It's a warehouse."
"It is," Adam agreed, putting an arm around his boy's shoulders. He looked at Aiden. "What's the rest of the residence like?" She pointed up. They all looked up. "Hmm. You'd have room to work out."
Xander looked up at him. "Can't we keep using Connor's back room?"
"Probably." He looked at the agent, who was looking nervous. "Matty," he said, smiling at her, turning on the charm. "It's for this young man and his protector. Security is the foremost consideration but my boy here, well, he's a slight hedonist."
"I had another one lined up but it used to belong to a thief and I'm not sure his protector would be willing to take it over with that knowledge."
Xander shrugged. "You can talk to Don about it. He might not mind. I don't know."
"Let's look at the other spot," Aiden suggested. This was horribly industrial. She gave Xander a 'sorry' look.
He kissed her on the cheek. "The assholes who raised me did it in lower class splendor," he told her, taking her arm to walk with her. "It's better than that." She laughed. "I just raised my standards."
"Find him somewhere his leathers and silks will be comfortable resting," Ray suggested.
Aiden bounced up to their real estate agent and whispered, getting a nod. "How secure is that one?"
"Actually, it's very secure," she admitted, looking at her. "Near where we're going as well. I can call on the way over." She wrote out the address. "Here, meet me there, dear." Aiden nodded and headed for her car with the backseat-ful of GHS. She even got to watch them cuddle when traffic got too slow.
Xander looked over the suggestion Aiden had made. The thief's house was nice but it was *huge*. Clearly the thief had been compensating for something. This one was nicer. He walked in the front door and into an atrium. He smiled at the plants littering the area. "I like this," he offered quietly. Adam nodded and led him on. Past the atrium on the bottom floor was an indoor pool, which Xander tested with a hand. "Very nice." They moved to the upper levels, finding a dedicated living room area. Up two steps and there was the kitchen and on the other side of the kitchen was a very nice office area that had a view of the small park-like area up the street. They went up the escalator to the top floor, which had four bedrooms. The atrium was open all the way to the skylights. Xander squealed and hugged Aiden. "I *love* this place!" he said happily. "How much of my soul am I mortgaging?"
She grinned. "The former owner was a sorcerer," she said quietly. "He wanted it to go to someone who could use the room in the basement. Which you kinda can. Plus you'd make sure it wasn't going to be used for *bad* things." Xander nodded at that. "He's never listed it with an agency, it's word of mouth for this place. I *heard* he was asking about two."
Xander snuggled into her arms. "Can we find the owner?"
"I can. He's in Miami. He's retired." She wiggled free and grinned at him, going to talk to the agent, who handed over the number someone had looked up for her. Aiden took it outside to call him. "Hi, my name is Aiden Burns and I've got my friend Xander Harris here looking at your former building. Yes, from Sunnydale." She smirked. "No, he's not doing that. Well, he is super cuddly and has a protector." She smirked while he put her on hold and looked him up in the Index, from what he said before he hit the button. He came back. "He's willing to pay any asking price. He knows about it but he doesn't really *practice* except for some healing and some fixing stuff." She leaned against the building, waving at Don when he stopped. "Park, Don. Xander's inside." That got a nod and he parked, heading inside to look too. She smiled. "No, his protector, Don Flack Jr. Yeah, that detective." She smirked. "No, he's well out of that life, it keeps endangering his. You sure? Because he could go a bit higher." She walked the phone in to Xander. "Here, talk to him."
Xander took the phone. "Hello?" He smiled. "Yes, hi. The last *major* thing? Like helping Prestons with his challenge to avenge his family major or like fixing my bed when someone cut into it major?" He snickered. "That's why I'm not, she's a bad example." He ran a hand over a plant. "I do love it, I really do. It's a great spot. Even Don's smiling and happy. Plus it's got good security since people like Willow and people like my former building's owner like to take me. Oh, am I listed in that?" He snickered. "They have no idea. No, I led Graduation." That got notice. "Call Rupert. Call me back." He hung up. "Let him check a reference and he'll call back in about ten minutes." He pounced Don to hug him. "Hi. Don't you love this place? If we can't get this place, I want something like this."
Don peeled the boy off his back and cuddled him. "It is nice. Let's go look at the bedroom areas." They headed up there, going up the escalators. "Who put escalators in here?"
"They're nicer than elevators?" Xander suggested with a grin. The phone at his side rang. "Harris." He listened then grinned. "Let me guess, he thinks I can't?" He giggled. "Ah, you talked to the Ethan monster. Well, yeah, I kinda can. I don't, but I can." He nodded. "I would appreciate it for that much and keep it as a safe haven. No, I haven't been in the basement yet." He headed down there, leaving Don looking at the kitchen. He flipped on the overhead light, looking around at the pentacle on the floor. "Wow, you did major works. If it's a major work I would let someone who was doing good things in here if they needed to," he offered. "A few do. I made a few contacts for my meditation candles and a few books," he admitted, walking around the figure. There was a room beyond that and he went in there, smiling at the simple wood floors and the diverted lighting. "That works and I'd have a place to practice too. Yup. Yup, I am. How did you know? Oh, Oz was back there. That's kinda cool. I thought he was here though." He shrugged. "I'd lay a temporary rug over the other room's floor but if they needed it to help I wouldn't keep them from it. Thank you. Of course. How much?" He smiled. "I can have that much transferred today by two. Actually, I do. I can head down there and you can call your branch to have them give them the numbers? That's fine. Thank you." He hung up and headed back through the working area, dragging Danny with him. "A rug's going over it but if someone needs it to do something good I'm to allow them to."
"Sure," he agreed. "Hey, Adam, you should see the basement. Full working area just like used ta be at the old resort."
Adam rolled his eyes.
"I'm guarding it in case someone needs it, not planning on using it. Until then it'll be hidden under a rug." Don looked at him. "The former owner was into magic. We'll be covering the pentacle in the basement." Don nodded at that. "Until someone who's *good* needs it for something."
"I can agree to that. How much?" Xander smiled. "That cheap?"
"Yup. And there's a practice room down there too," he said proudly. Don smiled at that. "We need to hit the *other* bank to send it to him."
"Fine," he agreed. "I'm going in with you."
Xander shrugged. "Okay. We can all go if you want." He smiled at the realtor. "How much will we owe you for finding this for us?"
"Technically, since it's not listed, I can only take a small commission," she offered. She saw the badges and smiled. "Say, a two percent one?"
"Sure," Xander agreed. He whispered in her ear, getting a wide-eyed look. "He likes me." He winked and then skipped out, Aiden behind him.
Xander came out of the office with Don, getting a smile. Xander pulled Aiden out of the waiting area and put something into her hand. "All realtors get a commission and that's yours." She opened her mouth. "You played the part, you get paid for it. Now, if you argue, I get to spank you until you squeal and come across my lap," he said dryly. "But that's your commission. If you complain, I'm going to pout and spoil you too." He walked off, taking Don's arm to walk out with him. "Are you sure, Don?" he asked quietly.
"I am. She's proud but she did the job and it's a good thing to pay her for it," he said, smiling at him. "Relax, it's fair." He nodded, giving his arm a squeeze. He walked him out to the car with everyone else. "Where to first?"
"We'll get the papers today," Xander offered. "By demonic courier, who can find me anywhere. We need a rug to cover part of the basement's working area but I didn't take measurements. I remember how many steps it took me to walk around the edges of it though."
"Walk it here," Adam ordered. "We'll measure that." Xander nodded, walking a similar path to the earlier one around the pentacle.
Danny looked. "Twelve feet should do it." Adam nodded at that. "What was the rest of that room like? I got stuck on the floor decoration."
"Dark wood. No bookcases or anything. It'd probably be dangerous." Don looked at him. "Some of that stuff can create a bit of a breeze."
"I've seen that in the movies."
Xander nodded. "Yeah, and then some." He gave his arm a hug and grinned. "So we need a rug, and we need to outfit the other bedrooms but one so we have a storage room again."
"We've got a storage room on the other side of the pool." He patted him on the back, looking over as Aiden came out finally. "We ready to go find a rug and three beds?" Aiden looked at him and opened her mouth. "Do not start, Aiden Burns, or I'm helping him spank you." She closed her mouth and frowned. "Tough. You did the work, you get paid for the work." He opened the door and let her inside the car. "Everyone in who's going shopping with us." They all piled in and decided to help Xander decorate. Don just watched in fond amusement and called the manager of the condo to tell him they'd be moving and to accept that offer for three mil for him. They could probably be out within a month. He looked over at Xander, who he was allowing to drive this time. He had given him the begging look and he had caved, he admitted to himself he had caved. "Are you going to tell Donny where we're going?"
Xander nodded. "I am. He's a good guy and he's so het he doesn't even react to me. Even when I'm in a playful mood he only gives me fond looks. So I think he's pretty safe."
"Good. I like that about him. We'll have to get the actual address to change the mail and stuff, plus get the cable switched." Xander nodded. "Utilities?" Xander moaned. "We can do that too, Xander." He patted him on the back. "Let's go where we got my new bed." Xander nodded, heading there.
"Also, this is closer to his favorite spa," Ray offered. "So he can go more often." Xander giggled at that. "You can."
"I can. It's almost within sneaking distance." Don snorted and shook his head. "No?"
"No. Escorted only for quite a while, Xander."
"Yes, Don." He gave his hand a squeeze when they paused at a light. Someone behind them honked. "It's red, I can't go," he complained. He rolled down the window and flipped them off when they honked again, then went on when it turned to green.
"You'll be a New Yorker soon," Danny said dryly. He looked back when he caught a flash of lights. "Huh. Someone's not happy with you," he said dryly. Xander pulled over and parked, turning off the engine. "I didn't know we still made traffic stops," Danny told Don.
"Yeah, now and then." He smiled at the officer who had pulled them over. "Hey, we were just talking about you."
"I'm always happy to be thought of as gossip-worthy as long as it's good gossip. The mayor doesn't like rude drivers."
"Then let him blow through the redlight," Xander said dryly, grinning at him. "We're moving for our own safety."
"Yup, because I can't move his bed," Don told him. That got a laugh. "It was made back in the sixteen hundreds. I can't move his bed with ten friends."
"I'll drop my brother's company a dime for you, Flack. Where are you moving?" Xander pulled him down to whisper it in his ear, getting a look. "You know, they say things about that building."
"Yeah, but I talked to the owner. It's a good thing."
"Sure. Okay, I'll give you a warning this time. No more flipping off the mayor and are we going out this week?"
Don considered it. "Maybe. Probably to heft stuff over there but maybe. We just got him back and I'm still pretty wary."
"I would be too since they got in during the night. Are you guys safe enough there?" Don nodded. "You sure?"
"Aiden's staying over most nights to watch over us."
"That works. Let me know, kiddo. There's a new action movie coming out." Xander beamed at that. "See you then." He walked back to his car.
"You know, that sort of thing almost makes up for being on the Mayor's detail," Danny said happily. "You get to bother all the rich folk who bother the mayor. I wrote *so* many heirs tickets when I was on it that month. Got so many complaints too." Don laughed. "Didn't you get it?"
"I got suggested and I threw a fit about not wanting anything thanks to my father. They ignored me after that. Saved me having to press my uniforms."
Ray shook his head. "Chicago's mayor has a set pair. People wanna shoot him."
"Oh, plenty of us wanna shoot ours," Don promised, smirking back at him. "Go ahead, Xander."
"I'm not pulling out in front of the fire truck coming this way. I don't want to need the ambulance behind it." Donny sped off after them, looking happier to be doing something like a real cop apparently. They pulled out after the sirens had gone by and there was a break in traffic. "There are days when driving in the city makes me think I'm in one big, long parade."
Don snickered. "It can. Especially during rush hour. Speaking of...." He looked at him. "I usually work Thanksgiving afternoon but we can make sure you can see the parade." Xander squealed and hugged him the next time traffic stopped. "We'll ask Donny if he's going that day too." Xander nodded and moved on at the honks, heading rug and bedroom shopping.
To Part 8: