GHS 7: Setting Up House.

Oz walked into the furniture rental place, looking around at what they offered. "You're sure about this?"

"Well," Xander said, giving his cheek a kiss, "we'll need furniture. Do you really want to buy some for two months?"

"Nope," Oz said, shaking his head. "Just don't like their selection." He stopped at one velvet sitting group, purple with colors shot across like a sunset, sitting down on it. "Like this," he admitted. He looked up. "Very comfy."

"Yup, very," Xander said, sitting next to him. "No tags." He looked over his shoulder as a saleswoman walked towards them. "Hi, we need to furnish an apartment for two months?" She smiled at them. "It has nothing, so we'll need a dining room table, this sitting group, and a bed."

"Microwave," Oz pointed out. "And TV. We have cable, right?"

"Yup, even though you won't use it." Xander gave her a smile. "We can pay now for the whole time."

"You guys up here on business?" she asked, sitting across from them, "and are we going to deliver? Our driver's gone home for the night."

"We'll tip generously," Oz told her. "Our old landlord just got back into town and we were renting her house. Isn't real practical and she'd like it back." That made their saleswoman smile. He leaned forward. "Let's lay it on the line. We're both inheritance kids and money's no object, but we have four newborn kittens we're hand raising. We need sturdy stuff that won't be hurt by them or our puppy." She nodded. "We have to move tonight and if you can convince the driver to come back tonight, I can help him move the stuff up the stairs, and we will be tipping him generously. Can you help us?"

"I'll have to call the driver but otherwise, everything is very doable." She looked at the tag beside her on the table. "Do you want this whole group?"

Oz looked at Xander, who shrugged. "Maybe. Could actually. Then I'll have a place to put the books down." He took Xander's hand. "What sort of beds do you have?"

"We have six in stock, if you could wait, we could get something from the next nearest store in Barre, but I'm guessing you can't."

"Only if they can get it to us tonight," Xander said, squeezing Oz's hand. "We're both exhausted by kitten care, we're napping in shifts."

She smiled, standing up. "Come on, we can make this easy and painless." She walked them over to where the beds were. "I'm guessing you're a couple so you'd like something king sized maybe? We have one."

Xander looked at the four-poster they had, one with just the four uprights and no overhead but it reminded him of his at home. "What size is this?"

"Queen. It's a very popular style." She checked the tag. "It's available if you'd like it." He nodded. "All right. That leaves a table, and you mentioned a microwave and TV?" She waved in the direction. "Shall we?" she asked when the red headed one just stared at the other one.

"I miss my bed," Xander said softly. "I love that thing."

"Cool. Means you're getting more ready to go home." Oz hugged him. "Love you," he whispered.

"Me too," Xander said with a goofy smile. "Let's do this and go home?"

"Sure. Want to cuddle with you." They followed her over to the tables, Oz picking out something that was glass and metal with metal and fabric chairs. "This one," he said. Xander agreed with him. He looked behind the tables at the TV's lining the walls. "The big twenty-seven inch."

"And a VCR," Xander added. He saw something so wandered over, looking at the laptops. "Gee, I didn't know they did these," he said.

Oz walked over. "No. You don't know who's had them. We have my laptop."

"Yeah, but you're working on your program again," Xander pointed out.

"I'll get off when you ask," Oz said, winding an arm around the younger man's waist. "You don't know who's used those or what they did with them," he reminded. "They could be virused or anything."

The saleswoman cleared her throat. "We've had a computer specialist look over them. They're certified to be clean."

Oz nodded. "I'm a programmer and a hacker. Unless your's is, I could probably do things that they wouldn't find." He gave her a small smile. "No insult intended but viruses can be sneaky things that look like your windows files."

She nodded. "If you say so." She pulled over a card. "This is our computer person."

Oz looked at the address and smiled. "I know this person, they'd know." He kissed Xander's cheek. "If you want one, go ahead." Xander hugged him. "You're welcome. Microwave?" he asked the saleswoman, not letting his lover go.

"We have five here. Would you like one of the new ones that can hold up to four plates or is a regular one enough?"

Xander pulled back but kept an arm around Oz's back. "A regular one. It's mostly going to warm milk for the kittens. And occasionally a plate or snack." She nodded, pointing out one near them. "That'd be great. Do we need anything else?" he asked Oz, who shrugged. "Hmm, living room, dining room, bedroom. It has rugs. Bookcases?" he suggested.

"Not needed," Oz told him. "We don't need to unpack the movies that badly."

"We have entertainment centers that have built-in storage. If you're staying for two months, you might want to consider something along those lines."

Oz looked at Xander, who was smiling. "Okay, have to have somewhere to put the TV and VCR anyway." He looked back up at his lover. "We still need to shop."

"Sheets and stuff," Xander agreed. "Groceries at home or here?"

"Depends, do you want to walk or not?"

"Um, home," Xander decided. He pulled out his wallet as the saleswoman rang them up. "How much?"

"For the whole time? Eight hundred and forty-seven dollars before taxes. Do you want to pay..." She stopped as Xander simply pulled out his wallet and handed over nine one hundred dollar bills. "Oh, yes." She put the amount into her computer and printed out their slip while she made them change. She handed it over, watching as they signed and printed out their address. "Thank you, gentlemen. Will you wait while I call our driver?" Oz nodded so she picked up the phone and dialed. "Frank? Yes, we do have a big delivery. Actually, the gentlemen said they'd tip generously." She shook her head. "He's at his son's sporting event."

Oz held out a hand. "Hi. We've had an emergency move. Can you do it later tonight?" He smiled. "No, we're going to tip you and I'll help you carry the stuff up the single flight of stairs. That's reasonable." He handed the phone back. "He said he could do it tonight after supper."

She smiled, putting the phone back up to her ear. "Frank? Yes, that'd be fine. I'll have it marked and their address will be on the counter if I'm not here." She smiled and hung up. "That was nice of him."

"He named his own tip," Oz said with a shrug. "Come on, Xand, let's go get sheets and groceries. Penny must have been driven insane by Rocky barking at the kids by now." He led his lover out of the store. "Did you want something else?" he asked when he saw the frown.

Xander shook his head. "I forgot to pick up the bundle of money on the dresser. I'm almost tapped out."

Oz shook his head and opened his wallet to show him. "I didn't." He climbed into the passenger's seat in the Blazer, buckling himself in. "Shopping?"

"For pillows and blankets," Xander agreed. "T-shirts or flannels?"

"Both? We have two months."

"Good point," Xander said, starting the truck. "Wallyworld?"

"No, real store please. I don't want to wander through Walmart on a weekday afternoon."

"Good point." Xander pulled out of the parking lot, heading out onto the highway. He headed for an on ramp. "We've got to head to West Leb or Barre, choose?"

"Closer," Oz yawned. "Please."

"West Leb, we're halfway there. You have your cell?"

"And she has the number," Oz agreed. He tipped his head back, resting it against the back of the seat. "Wake me when we get there," he said as he fell asleep.

Xander glanced at him, grinning, then headed up the on ramp, getting onto the interstate.


Xander climbed back into the Blazer as quietly as he could and shut the door. He put the bags in the back seat, smiling at his lover since he hadn't woken up this time either. He touched Oz's arm. "Come on, Sleeping Beauty, we've got to pick up supper on the way home."

Oz handed over his cellphone. "Call Penny and ask if we can pick something up for her." He sat up and looked at his watch. "We have two hours before we have to meet the deliveryman." He looked at the full backseat. "How many stops did you make?"

"Five." Xander hit the last button, initiating the call. "Hey, Jim, it's Xander. We're in West Leb, do you want us to pick up supper for you guys? Okay." He hung up. "They're eating some of the pizza in the freezer."

"Cool," Oz said, taking the phone back. He patted down his pockets and his wallet was handed back. "You stole it and I didn't realize?"

"Yup, and coped a feel too," Xander said, starting the truck. He opened the door, looking down and grabbed a bag. "Thought I had left something out there," he muttered to himself, tossing it into the backseat.

"Want me to drive?" Oz suggested.

Xander nodded and unbuckled, letting Oz get out so he could slide over. He watched his lover check for more bags, adding one to the pile in the back seat before he got in. "Thanks."

"Welcome. I had a good nap. We're heading for the one marked White River, right?"

"Yup, but we're taking exit four. Then we turn left and head into Randolph." Xander yawned. "Wake me up if you get lost."

"Will," Oz promised, starting the Blazer. He checked behind them and started to back up, stopping when someone screamed. "Guess something's back there." He got out, heading back to look at the dog looking up at him from under the bumper. "You're okay," he said, picking it up and handing it to the woman standing there. "I didn't see it." She nodded, clutching the dog. "You okay?"

"Yeah, just scared." She looked at the animal. "Whose are you?" she asked, looking at the collar. "No tags."

Oz groaned. "Xand? We almost hit a stray dog."

His lover got out and walked around to look at the dog. "Gee, you could almost be Rocky's older sister."

The woman checked. "Male, fixed."

Oz looked at Xander and shrugged. "Your call."

"I can go inside and tell them to call animal control," she offered. "It could belong to someone."

Xander nodded. "That might be for the best." He watched as she walked away, then checked under the Blazer's wheels. "Okay, no more animals. Home?"

"Home," Oz agreed, getting in, watching as Xander slid into his seat. "Ready?" They both buckled up. "Good. Home." Oz had to stop as the dog ran under his wheels again. "Okay, we've got another dog," he decided, opening his door to let it inside. Xander chuckled as it hopped up and settled on top of the bags. "Home," he said firmly, shutting his door and waving at the woman as they drove past her. He headed for the interstate, getting back on and into the right lane.


Oz lifted the last table through the door and kicked it shut. "Wow. Very heavy stuff," he complained, then stopped when he saw Xander feeding the kittens. "They okay?"

"No trauma from the move. They didn't even realize, Penny said they were asleep." He looked up. "Ray called. He and Meth are at Connor's and Connor's in LA with Giles. Something about Angel needing him for something." He shrugged. "I invited them up."

"We've got to remind them to bring beer, I haven't seen a single imported one that he'll drink in any of the stores we've been in." He set the table down, sitting on the edge of a chair. "When are they coming?"

"Tomorrow. They've made arrangements to stay at the bed and breakfast. Seems mentioning your name got them a discount." He grinned. "And a request for definite dates." He dodged the noogie attempt. "Easy, I got the little peoples."

Oz slid down beside him, hugging his lover to him. "Yeah, I know." He reached over to pet the kitten's head. "You're really good with little peoples."

"At least I won't have kids to hurt," Xander said, setting the kitten back down beside his littermates.

"If you wanted to sometime, we could adopt," Oz reminded him quietly. "I never really wanted kids so I'll leave that up to you." Xander looked at him as he relaxed into his arms. "I always thought I wouldn't have anything to teach them and that I'd be too distracted to be a father so I never really considered it. Even before I became immie, I never considered it. I knew I didn't like women that much and I didn't want a wife and family to tie me down." He rubbed down Xander's stomach. "I don't think I'd be a good father though."

"I think you'd be a great daddy," Xander said, kissing the underside of Oz's chin. "You're a great dad to the kittens."

"Yeah, but babies need a little more attention for a lot longer. In six weeks, those guys will be almost independent and will want to prove it." Oz snuggled with Xander, watching the cats prowl and nose at each other. "I can't wait until their eyes open, then they can explore." Oz looked around the apartment. "We've got to get the furniture settled. Bed's in place but the living room needs moved around." He tried to get up but Xander wouldn't move. "Comfy?"

"More than usual." Xander kissed the underside of Oz's chin again. "Did you mind the other night?"

"Nope, as long as you were comfy with what happened, then I'm happy, Xander. I'm not going to push you to return to our old relationship. I'm not even going to push you to sleep with me tonight, I can sleep on the couch if you'd rather."

"Nope, I missed my Oz cuddle bear." That got a goofy smile. "I did, that's why I got Rocky, because she cuddled. She was almost scared the first night when I dragged her into the bed with me but she quickly got used to snoring into my stomach."

"She's been doing that to my back when she curls up with me to help me nap," Oz noted. He kissed the top of Xander's head. "How's our stray?"

"Good. But I don't think she'll be staying with us." They both looked at the blonde lump of matted fur curled in the corner. "I was going to trim and groom her tonight."

"Coolness. You do that and I'll arrange furniture." They got up, heading for their separate tasks.


Oz opened the door with a grunt, letting his teacher and his teacher's lover inside the apartment. "Watch out for the animals," he warned, heading for the kitchen. He looked toward the balcony, where Rocky had pulled his shirt to lay in front of the balcony doors with the kittens. "Coffee?"

"We brought you some," Methos said, handing over a cardboard container. "How domestic." He smiled at Xander as he walked out, hugging his self-proclaimed favorite student. "You do live," he sighed once he was being held. "I had wondered there for a while."

"I'm fine," Xander mumbled, getting free. "Watch for animals." He dragged himself toward the kitchen, giving the coffee maker a dirty look. "You're empty," he accused. A cup was handed to him so he sipped, moaning in pleasure. "Thanks. Great. Bless you, Meth." He smiled at Ray as he walked into the kitchen with their stray dog. "He refused to leave the Blazer alone," he said, reaching over to scratch his ear. The dog growled so he shrugged. "Okay. Guess he found his person." He sipped more of his coffee, leaning on the counter to watch Methos look at their kittens. "They awake?" he asked.

The old immortal stood up and shook his head. "No, they're soundly sleeping against the dog." He looked at the couple in the kitchen. "How are you getting them home?"

"Car," Oz said dryly. "We have a good one."

"You could probably get permission to bring them on a plane with you," Ray said, rubbing his face in the soft, blond fur. "You're cuddly," he said, giving his lover a smile. "Can we keep him?"

Methos sighed. "We'll see, Ray," he said once the begging eyes came out. Ray gave him a pleased smile and went back to petting the dog.

"We found him in a parking lot at a shopping center," Xander said. "He kept trying to get hit so we opened the door and he jumped in." Oz snorted. "He did."

"Wasn't that," Oz said, sneezing for real this time. "Sorry."

"S'okay," Xander said, putting down his coffee to kiss his lover and hug him closer. "Small fever, maybe you should go back to bed."

"Colds only last for a day with us," Methos told him gently. "He'll be fine by tonight." He looked over his shoulder as Rocky barked. "Yes?"

"That means the kittens are awake," Xander said, opening the refrigerator and pulling out a can of formula. He poured some in the bowl Oz held for him and then watched as it was put into the microwave. When it was done, he took it and the eyedropper, walking out carefully to sit next to the shirt and pet the kittens, picking up the first one to feed them.

"My, he's good at that," Methos said as he walked back into the kitchen. He hugged his student. "How are you two doing?" he asked Oz quietly.

"Good, we've talked a little. About some big stuff and some little stuff. We're slowly getting closer again. By the time the kittens are ready to leave, we should be too." He looked around the apartment. "This is a nice place though. He used to work downstairs in the bookstore." He looked over at Ray. "He really likes you."

"Yeah, dogs usually do." He put the dog down, looking down at the begging eyes. "Let me go sit down and you can hog my lap," he said, walking out to the couch and sitting down. "Where did you get this thing?" he called.

"Rent-a-Center," Xander said absently. He rubbed a distended stomach. "Oz, maybe we should take this one to the vet's again. She's not wanting to eat."

"We'll call later, when they open, and then go in." He walked out, taking the kitten to feel her stomach. "Oops, we need to go to the bathroom really bad." He walked over to the small litter pan they had set up the night before, putting the kitten in it and moving it's paws through the sand-like material. "Yeah, this is where you go potty. Come on," he said, rubbing across the stomach a little harder than normal. The kitten cried but started to go, eventually, getting into the rhythm and stopping crying. Oz helped her tiny paws cover what she had done then took her back to Xander, handing her back. "Try now." He sat down, checking for stray kittens first since they were moving off the shirt in a blind searching. "Give me the litter box," he said. It was pushed over by a foot. "Thanks." He picked up another one, putting it into the litter to let it play. "Never too early to start this." Rocky just looked at him. "Sorry, but this is how cats do it."

Xander chuckled. "She's licking me," he said, showing the kitten that he had resting against his neck.

"She loves you," Methos said dryly, sitting next to them, handing Oz the kitten he had almost sat on. "They think you're their mother."

"Oz has been doing most of the feeding," Xander told him with a smile. "I'm the alternate- mommy." He handed her over, picking up the last one, the one that was trying to suck on one of Rocky's paws. "Not there, silly, here," he said as he picked up a dropper full of milk and stuck it in the kittens mouth. "Hey, sucking reflex. He's lapping."

"Good." Methos took the kitten and the dropper, checking the kitten as he fed it. "Yes, this one should be fine." He looked at the one Oz had helped to go to the bathroom. "I'd watch that one though." He got another dropper of milk, feeding it to the kitten. "My, you're a hungry little beast," he noted as he fed him a third.

"Only the pink one's a girl," Xander told him, taking her to show off. "See?" Methos gave him a smile. "She's our good little girl, she's the one that got stuck." He put her down on the shirt, watching as Rocky licked the kitten. "Good girl. Yeah, you deserve people food for that."

Ray walked over and sat down near them. "Rocky?"

"Yup, she's part boxer." He grinned at Oz. "Her mom got out and despoiled a purebred boxer puppy. She has siblings. One that's my hair color and one that's almost Oz's."

"You really want to get them, don't you," Oz asked, looking at his lover, who gave him a brilliant smile. "Call her old mother. We'll see."

Xander whooped and kissed Oz, hard and possessive, then hopped up to grab the phone. "Hi," he said, carrying it into the hall.

Oz looked at Methos, who was shaking his head. "It makes him happy to take care of things. And me." He looked down at the kitten trying to climb him. "I'm not a jungle-gym," he told her, putting her back on the shirt. "Can't wait until you guys can see," he said, looking at Ray and seeing his smile. "We're not keeping them all," he noted.

"No," Methos said. "One dog's enough." Ray kissed his cheek and rested his head on his lover's shoulder. "Cats don't like me," he complained weakly.

"They'll love you," Xander said as he walked back in. "She found homes for them." He sat down beside his own lover, putting his head on Oz's shoulder to watch the kittens play. "They're way active this morning."

"It's getting closer to when they'll start exploring," Methos told them. Everyone looked at him. "I was a vet for a while, boys, really," he added dryly.

Xander grinned at him. "You've done just about everything, huh?"

"No, I've never done some things, most of which I never had a desire to do. I never became a weaver, no matter how much Oz begged me. I never became a king or an emperor, though I have known a few and advised some of them. I never was a nuclear physicist."

"Eww," Oz said. "I know about that major, lots of math and thinking." He nudged Xander. "I think I'm going to stick with my programing and weaving."

"Coolness. Can you teach me?"

"Sure. Anytime you want." Oz reached down to remove the soft claws from his bare stomach. "Hey, I don't scratch you." He put her back down in front of Rocky. "Play with her stomach." Rocky barked at him. "What?"

"Breakfast," Ray said, getting up. "Where's her stuff?"

"Under the sink," Xander called. "Her bowls are there too." He looked back at the puppy, who was begging. "And nuke a pork chop to break up in her food too, please. She deserves it, she's been so good to the kittens. Yeah, she's going to be a good mommy."

Methos shook his head. "Boys, we still need to go eat. Maybe you two should go get dressed so we can do that."

"Yup," Oz said, removing all the furry bundles from his lap. "Should. Oh, check the entertainment center, I found that history book finally." He stood up, helping Xander. "We'll be right out." They walked into the bedroom, leaving their friends alone.

Xander leaned against Oz's back, watching him look at the meager stuff in the closet. "I want to wear my new shirt," he said, pointing it out. "And my black pants."

"They're in the wash, Rocky shed on them," he reminded, handing over the shirt. "Should I wear the blue one?"

"Nope, wear your jade shirt," Xander said, touching the sleeve, "and your jeans. I'll wear mine and we'll be cute." He pulled down the clothes he wanted and walked over to sit on the bed and get dressed.

Oz watched Xander do a quick lotion down then watched as he pulled on his jeans without underwear. "Gee, my naughty's coming back," he whispered, going to his knees in front of Xander, silently begging for a kiss. "My naughty," he sighed when his mouth was released. "I'm happy that you're back."

Xander gave him a grin. "Happy enough to let me suck you off?"

"If you'd like," Oz agreed, standing up. "Like this?"

"No, lay down on the bed," Xander said, making room for him. He nibbled over Oz's stomach and down into his hair, licking up the topside of the hard cock. "Hmm, Oz flavored, one of my favorites." Oz moaned so he licked over the head again, stopping to tease the opening. "Liked?" Oz nodded quickly. "Want more?" He spread his legs, giving Xander complete access. "That's my good Oz," he whispered before taking the head into his mouth to suckle on. He pulled back to smile then worked his way down farther, coming back up a few times before swallowing him down.

"Yes," Oz hissed, grabbing the blankets Xander had bought for them so he wouldn't grab the dark hair. "Yeah, Xander," he moaned, thrusting up as his lover came down.

Xander pulled off, wiggling a finger at him. "None of that," he whispered against the wet flesh. "What am I?"

"Xander, my Xander."

"And what else?"

"Mine?" Oz asked, raising his head when Xander shook his head. "If I say pet would you stop?" Xander smiled and shook his head. "My pet?"

"Yes, love, I'm your naughty pet." Xander went back down quickly and came back up. "Just remember that, I'm your pet."

"Mine," Oz sighed, lying back down. "My favorite person." He rubbed through the dark hair when the mouth stopped. "What's wrong?"

"Just got a flash," Xander said, sitting up. "I'm sorry, I can't, Oz."

Oz rolled them over, kissing his lover gently. "Not a big. What flash?" Xander shook his head. "Back when you were working?" His lover tried to get out from under him but he held on. "Xander, I could never think of you like that. As far as I'm concerned, that was another Xander. Mine was a chaste little GHS when I met him." He saw the small smile. "You never did that, love, and you never need to worry about it. It didn't taint you. You have full control over my pleasure." The brown eyes focused on him. "Yes, you. Only you can decide if I get pleasure or not. Until you're ready, I just won't have any." He snuggled down, hugging his lover hard. "I don't want you to ever think back on that time, Xand, never again. That wasn't a bad thing and I don't want it to hurt you anymore." He kissed the flesh he was resting on. "You're not any more dirty than you were when we first met or when you first let me into you." He squeezed and felt the small trembles, looking up to find his lover silently leaking tears. "Shh," he said, moving to cradle his lover against his chest. "Shh, love, you don't need to be upset. I'm sorry if I hurt you."

"You understand," Xander whispered, clinging to him. "You really do." He sniffed loudly. "Thank you, Oz. I don't feel so dirty now for wanting to touch you."

"Shh, giving pleasure isn't dirty," Oz told him gently. "That's a lot like taking care of someone, which isn't dirty either. You never have to feel that way with me." He kissed the top of his lover's head. "Xander, I love you and I never want you to hurt."

"He touched me," Xander said. "He told me I was a whore and he touched me."

"The demon?" Xander nodded. "He was wrong."

"But he wasn't," Xander said, sitting up. "He wasn't wrong. That's what I was."

"No, you were more of a courtesan. More of a geisha, you talked as well as gave pleasure. Your form of pleasure is a whole body and mind experience. He was *so* wrong," Oz whispered, clutching Xander. "If he was still alive, I'd go slay him for saying that to you. You're not a whore and you never were. Even if you had wanted to be there, you still wouldn't have been." He pulled back at the light push against his chest. "What?"

"Just wanted to watch you say that."

"You're not a whore, Xander," Oz told him gently, wiping off his cheeks. "No matter what he said, you're not. They don't like what they do and they never feel real pleasure when they're with the ones they love, if they can find one." Oz kissed the tip of his lover's nose. "You're like the fictional story you told the bank people, love. Even if you were a prostitute for a few weeks, you're not a whore, there's a *big* difference." Xander shook his head. "Yeah, there is. Whores are cheap and don't like what they did, they end up hating themselves for what they did. You're not like that. And I hope to God, whichever one is still listening, that you're never going to become like that. Okay?" Xander nodded. "You okay now?"

"Yeah," Xander sighed, rubbing down Oz's chest. "I'm not a whore, and I don't hate myself. I hate him."

"You should. You should even hate Devi for putting you in that position."

"He promised someone that he'd talk one of his guys into allowing themselves to be given. John refused and ran away when he heard about it. No one's sure where he is."

"Huh. We'll try to find him and make sure he's okay," Oz told him gently. "I meant it, Xand, you are in complete control of my pleasure from now on. Until you're ready, I'm not getting any." The younger man looked up at him in shock. "It isn't good for me unless you're fully into it, babe. I don't need it until you're ready to give it." He squeezed Xander again. "Okay?"

"Yeah," Xander said, giving him a gentle kiss. "Can I have you tonight?"

"If you're willing and ready," Oz told him with a small smile. "I'm not going to push you."

"Okay." Xander sat back up, looking down Oz's body. "Can I prove to myself that I'm not..." Oz nodded, waving down his body, so Xander licked over his cock. "I like," he admitted.

"Which means you're GHS, love," Oz reminded hm.

"Yeah, I am, aren't I?" Xander asked, sitting back up. He looked down at his jeans. "These aren't soft."

"Then we'll wear them until they are. Or we'll wash them a few times." Oz held out his arms. "When you're ready to become yourself again, I'm more than ready to accept the change. Whenever you're ready to put back on your soft and fuzzy clothes, just say so and I'll take them out of the trunk."

"Can you ...." Oz got up and pulled the closet door open, simply pulling out some of the clothes that were laying on top and handing them. "Wow," he whispered as he felt the pants. "I forgot how soft these were." He looked up then stood, taking off his jeans and kicking them off. He pulled on the cashmere dress pants, sliding the zipper up with a sigh. "Oh, God, this is good," he said as Oz handed him one of his favorite shirts. "Thank you." He slid into the silk, chilled and warmed at the same time as the fabric brushed against his skin. "Oohh," he shivered. "Nice."

Oz walked closer, kissing his lover gently. "I missed that look on your face, love," he whispered, stealing another kiss. He pulled on his clothes for the day, wrapping himself in his jade shirt last. "Okay?" Xander nodded, giving him a soft smile. "Ready to go face off with the man who taught you pleasure?"

"He's right here," Xander told him, rubbing himself against his lover's body as they kissed again. "He taught me how to enjoy the act, but you've made me enjoy my life." They walked out holding hands and met the other set of lovers on the couch. "Hey, breakfast?" he asked.

Ray looked up and smiled at him. "Yup, breakfast would be good." He patted the dog in his lap's head one last time and stood up. He got whined at so he bent down to kiss him. "Shh, we're going to eat. I'm coming back." He headed for the door, taking Xander with him. "I'm glad I suggested that we pack some of your real clothes for you," he said as they walked out the door.

Oz walked over to where Methos was checking the kittens. "They okay?" He got a nod and helped his teacher stand. "They do well when we leave them alone for an hour or so." They walked out together. "Did you find that demon?"

"Giles found his remains. When he walked into the keeping grounds, he shuddered at the bits and pieces of him. I and Angel were walking behind him, with Joe, Mac, and Connor behind us." He stopped as they reached the Blazer, pulling Oz aside. "They left a lot of stuff. Does Xander want it?"

"You sure it's free?" Methos nodded. "How?"

"Angel said so. He talked to one of them when they showed up. They said it was his for rescuing their pets."

Oz shuddered. "Whatever, just don't tell him. Keep it somewhere safe for him."

Methos nodded. "As we planned. It's already with your things, which have been moved somewhere more accessible. Amanda even agreed to stay out of them after she found out why."

"Ah, and how is our favorite thief?" Oz asked as they finished their stroll to the car.

"Fine, we called on her to help us fix Mac. He's feeling much better. He even believes now that you're not to blame for driving her away. He heard about the kittens and said that it wasn't the same man, so he's agreed that maybe he was hasty then."

Oz smiled. "I told Xander about that, he thought it was sad."

"To love someone that much and have them leave? Yeah, that's sad," Xander said from the backseat. "Bed and breakfast?"

"Could. Is anywhere else open?"

"The place where we were supposed to have dinner that night opens for lunch." He looked at his wrist and frowned. "No watch."

"Forgot to pack it," Ray told him with a small pat. "You'll have it soon enough. Even though that is a nice apartment."

"Is," Oz agreed, pulling out of the parking space. "The building's for sale. There's a smaller one across the hall."

"No," Xander said. "If we're buying a building, I have one in mind." He grinned at Oz's shocked look in the mirror. "What?" he asked innocently. "It's a beautiful old building and just needs some tender care and a few new floor boards."

"Why do I think you've already bought it?" Oz asked, stopping at a stop sign. He turned to look at his lover. "You're going to show it to me, right?"

Xander nodded. "Drive, Oz. Breakfast out there stops early."

Methos smiled at the couple. "I'd like to see this building too. Though, I can see the benefits of owning a building with a bookstore in it." He looked over his shoulder at Xander. "It would be most convenient."

"You already own one," Oz reminded him. "This one is way small and struggling."

"Then you could lower the rent to cover the yearly taxes," Xander pointed out. "They'd probably be really grateful and eventually give us a discount once they could afford it."

"We'll see," Oz said. "Owning property comes with it's own challenges when you're one of us." He stopped at the second sign, looking at his lover in the mirror. "Later?"

"Later," Xander agreed.

"Good," Methos said, clapping his hands together. "Drive, Oz."

"Yes, sir," he said, turning onto the main street since the nice woman had stopped for him. "Oh, look, Gladys." Xander and he waved. "Wonder what else she's told."

"Probably told everyone about that stone stopping the kidnappers," Xander said thoughtfully. "Someone in the grocery store gave me a wide berth the other day."

Oz snorted. "That's all we need. Do you know her?"

"Yeah, it was Juli's mom. Oh, and Tara's putting Juli up for a while." He looked at the former cop next to him. "Her mother had a date and that was the night it started snowing, the night Miracle showed up. We found Juli standing outside under her window with no jacket and about to freeze. Her mother had shoved her out the door without a jacket."

Ray frowned. "Did she get the kid taken away?"

"Not sure. Tara's actually a social worker. I know she's putting Juli up for now."

"Parents like that shouldn't be allowed," Ray muttered, clenching his hands in his lap. "That's just wrong. That kid coulda died out there."

"I almost did and that was just from running to the truck and back from stores," Oz said, then sneezed again. "Damn." Methos handed him a napkin from his pocket. "Thanks."

"Welcome." Methos looked over his shoulder. "Miracle?"

"The kittens' mother. She jumped in my lap as we were trying to leave Tara's after dropping Juli off. She hopped up into the seat where you're sitting now and refused to move from my lap."

"That was a bad night," Oz agreed. He pulled out onto another street, heading for the bed and breakfast. "You sure we're going to be in time?"

"If not, McDonald's was out by the interstate," Ray said, calm again.

Xander leaned over and hugged the former detective. "Ray, I wish you had been around when I was a kid. You would have been one of the few people that I would have told." He sat back up, watching the older man smile slowly. "Never worry about that, if I know, it's not going to happen."

"Either of us," Oz agreed. He smiled as he pulled onto the road that held the bed and breakfast. "Think they'll be surprised to see me?"

"Oz, you stayed for two weeks. You're almost legendary among the workers," Methos told him with a pat to his shoulder.

"Two weeks? I thought there was one."

"I got there the day before I came to see you so I could get up my nerve," Oz said as he pulled into the driveway. "I was there about a week and a half, until that night you invited me to the movies."

"Yeah, you were mushy and let me make the first move," Xander said, reaching around the seat to hug him as they parked in the crowded parking lot. "Must be brunch." He slid out of his seat and closed the door, waiting on everyone else. He groaned as Gladys' car followed them into the driveway. "Gee," he told Oz, wrapping an arm around his lover's waist. "Company?"

"Let's hope not," Ray said. He nodded to her when she hurried past them. "What's up with her?"

"She's the town gossip," Xander told him quietly. "Her telescope looked directly into the place I was renting's living room. She called the neighbor to come 'talk' to me because I was playing with Rocky, who was in Oz's lap while we picnicked." They walked in the door and smiled at the hostess. "Four, for non?"

She smiled and made a mark on the chart under the glass of her podium. "Of course." She led them to a table, waving a hand at it. "Please be seated, your waitress will be out in a minute." She leaned down to whisper in Xander's ear. "The story about your stone is still running around the room, do you want to not be bothered?" He nodded, slipping a bill into her hand. She gave him a bright smile and headed back to her job.

"They heard about the stone," he told the other men. Oz groaned. "We won't be bothered." He smiled as a person he knew walked up to their table. "Hi, Greg, how's school?"

"Pretty good, one more year and I can transfer. Do you know what you want?"

"Not yet," Oz said, picking up his menu. "Is it still breakfast?"

"Yes, Mr. Osbourne, it is. But the ham dish listed in the specials isn't available, we're out of ham." He smiled at Xander. "At least he came."

"Yeah," Xander said, taking Oz's hand. "He did. I'm really happy again." Greg smiled and left them alone. He looked at Ray, who was looking around. "This is what small towns are like, everyone knows everyone else."

"And then some," Methos said quietly. "Oh, quiche, I haven't had that in ages." Oz looked at him over his menu. "I haven't, it's not often I get up for breakfast."

Ray smiled at him and took his hand. "If ya drag me out of bed that early again, I'm going to shoot you, ya know that right?"

"Of course, my dear former cop, I do realize you hate mornings." He kissed the back of his lover's hand. "Now then, find something fattening so Oz can treat us to breakfast."

Ray got free and picked up his menu. "Wow." He pointed something out to his lover. "I want that."

"Good choice. " Methos put down his menu. "Are you two ready?"

"Almost," Xander said, reading over Oz's shoulder. "I want something tasty and fattening but not salty and not pancakes. I don't want to spill syrup on this shirt."

"It'll wash," Oz reminded him. "Get what you want." He handed over the menu, picking up Xander's from his plate.

"I wanted the one you were reading," Xander said with a grin when Oz gave him a dirty look. "It always looks better after you've drooled over it."

Methos rolled his eyes. "Gods, please not more sugar." He patted the back of Xander's hand. "Be mushy later, love. Behave now." Ray slapped his arm. "Ow."

"Leave him alone, he's behaving like himself again and it's cute." He smiled at Xander. "A little too sweet for my tastes, but it's good to see you so happy you radiate."

Xander grinned, blushing a little. "Sorry. I like being mushy sometimes. It just seemed like the right time."

"It is," Oz assured him, kissing his cheek. "Adam doesn't like mush and Ray's one of those tough guys who wasn't raised around mush." He smiled as their waiter came back over. "I'll have the quiche, Xander?"

"Um, I want..." He reopened his menu. "I want the western omelet and don't spare the cheese." He took his menu and Oz's handing them over.

"We both want the breakfast delight," Methos/Adam said, handing back their menus. "And we'd all like coffee."

"Milk for me," Xander said. "It's a tradition."

"Of course," Greg said, writing down their orders. "Oh, Mr. Osbourne, there's a message for you at the front desk." He walked away, heading toward the kitchen.

Oz got up, kissing Xander's head as he walked past. He walked over into the hotel part, smiling at the desk clerk he had paid almost every day during his stay. "You had something for me?"

"Just a small one," she said, handing over a envelope. "It seems that you overpaid us by a day."

"Did I remember to tip?" She nodded. "Huh. Okay, can I put this toward breakfast?"

"Of course." She wrote something out. "Give this to the hostess with the check. Whatever's left she'll have cashed."

He considered it then shook his head. "Put this on Mr. Adam Grayson's account, he's a rotten tipper." He handed back the envelope. "My lover has money on him." He smiled at her and walked back over to find his breakfast waiting on him, minus a large chunk. He looked over at his teacher. "Gee, was the table hungry?" he asked as he sat down.

Xander nodded. "And it burped afterwards." He stole another bite. "Always wondered what that was." He tore into his omelet. "Trouble?"

"No, I just forgot to pick up my security deposit. I told them to put it towards tips." He picked up his fork to take a bite, groaning in pleasure. "We're getting some of this to take home. And the recipe if we can."

Xander grinned. "Already asked, it's in the cookbook they sell." He held up a bite of his omelet. "Here, try." Oz ate from his fork, humming in appreciation. "I love eating out here. They just do everything great."

Methos nodded. "Truly, this is a delight." He smiled at Xander. "Thank you for suggesting this place."


Ray took another bite of his breakfast sampler and smiled at Xander. "So, whaddya do around here for fun?"

"There's the theater, it has a new movie weekly. There's the library and the bookstore, and cable. Lately, we've been too tired to do anything but take naps. The kittens are demanding."

"I can see that," Ray said. "You looked tired this morning."

"Was. Only got three hours of sleep."

"Maybe Oz should quit forcing you to talk to him," Adam suggested gently.

"Not," Xander said, glaring at him. "He doesn't force me to do anything. Not even to talk. I talk because I want to talk. We cuddle when we talk too." He took Oz's hand. "This tiredness is all the kittens, *Adam*, and nothing more."

"Sorry," he said, bowing slightly. "I had thought that he said you two were having long talks."

"We do, but long is subjective," Oz said. "Long for us is an hour. During which we cuddle."

"And nap, at least the last few times," Xander added with a small grin. "Sorry."

"S'okay, you make a good pillow." Oz kissed the back of Xander's hand. "Eat, you could use the energy."

"Yup, could." Xander grinned and attacked his food. "Eat, Adam."

"Of course." He looked across the table at Oz. "I'm happy if you both are," he said quietly.

"We are," Oz told him with a small smile. "We still have some things to talk about but mostly we're happy again."

"Good," Ray said with a short clap of his hands. "Then after breakfast one of you can show us around town while the other naps."

"Xander knows it better," Oz deferred, eating the last piece of his quiche. "I really like this place. We should come up here on anniversaries." Xander beamed at him. "You'd like?"

"I'd like lots," Xander said, quickly swallowing. "You guys?"

"I think that's a romantic idea," Ray said, smiling at Methos. "I like this place. And they have horses."

"I have missed riding," Adam admitted. "We'll see."

Ray nodded. "Okay, I can beg later."

"Yes, you can," Adam said with a smile. "Tonight?" Ray licked a bite of cheese off his lips. "Good," he purred.

Oz looked at Xander. "And they call us mushy." He reached over to wipe a bit of egg off his lover's lips with his thumb, sucking the morsel into his mouth. "Great."

"Thanks," Xander said with a small blush. He looked down at his empty plate. "I don't remember eating it all."

"If you're hungry, eat," Oz reminded him.

Xander shook his head. "I'm not, I just don't remember eating all that." He smiled at Greg as he put down their check. "Thanks, man. Good luck this semester."

"Thanks, Alex." He walked away.

Oz patted down his pockets, frowning. "Xander, did you bring your wallet?" Xander patted down his pockets and shook his head.

Methos groaned. "I'll pay, but you're buying supper then."

"Fine," Oz agreed. He watched as Methos patted down his pocket. "Forget it in your car?"

"So it seems."

Ray pulled out his, handing over his credit card. "Here, try this one, I just paid it off." Greg came back and took it, coming back a minute later and whispering in Ray's ear. He got up and followed him.

Xander got up and headed out to their car, searching the inside. He found his emergency stash in the glove compartment and put it in his pocket, locking the door and walking back inside. He groaned when he realized he had locked the keys in the truck but continued to walk. He sat down at their table, handing over the money under the table. "Had a stash in the Blazer," he explained. He waved Greg over, letting Oz pay. "Sorry about that."

"No problem, Alex, we know you'd pay us tomorrow when you got into the bank." He smiled and took the cash, walking away with the check.

"Things get around," Oz muttered. "Everything." He looked at Xander, squeezing the hand he was holding on his thigh. "Thanks. That was embarrassing."

"No big," Xander said quietly. "It's not like I don't have it." He looked towards Adam and Ray. "Ready?" He accepted the tray with the change and mints on it. "Thanks, Greg. We may be back for supper." He left the change on the table as a tip and handed out the mints. "Let's go check on the kittens before I show you around."

They all walked out to the Blazer, letting Oz get the doors open with the coat hanger he had borrowed.


Xander looked around the almost bare apartment before walking down to his car, sliding into the passenger's seat. "How're they doing back there?" he asked, looking at the kittens and Rocky in their big carrier. "Oh, I'm sorry, guys, but you can't wander around the car. Its' not safe." He visually checked the seat belts. "All secured." He looked at Oz, who was looking up at the back of the building they had just spent the last two months in. "It'll be okay, we're going to go back to our home."

Oz nodded, starting the car. "Yeah, we are. You sure you don't want to drive?"

"Home, Oz," Xander said gently, kissing his cheek. "I want to go home. Our home. I'm ready now."

They left the town with more than they had each come to it with, and together, they drove off to live their lives together.

The End... To Be Continued...