GHS 9: The Problem With Being Rich.

Xander looked up from his position on the bed, smiling at Connor as he walked in with a tray. "Lunch?"

"Light snack," he corrected, sitting down next to the young man on the bed. "I thought since I had sworn to protect you I should get to know you." He looked at the bed, whistling in appreciation. "This is a great antique."

Xander picked up a piece of cheese, nibbling on it. "Yup. Was my grandmother's. It's older than Oz is."

"I do antiques," Connor told him with a smile. "This is excellent craftsmanship. I wonder who did it. Have you ever seen a mark under the mattress?"

"Um, yup," he said, swallowing quickly, "about the same time I blew my back out because of the bed." He rolled to show the scar on his back, his shirt laying on the chair in the corner by the closet. "I tried to move the bed by myself and I hurt it, but then I was tugging the mattress down the hall and I blew a disk."

"That must have hurt."

"Oh, yeah." Xander nodded, picking up a piece of tortilla to smoosh the cheese against. "The surgery was okay though. They were really nice when I told them how I did it, they didn't even laugh." That got a smile. "So, what do you want to know?"

"How about your past? Were you a good student?"

Xander shook his head. "Barely graduated high school. Did some menial work then found out I really needed to go find myself, something I didn't do on my earlier road trip, so I went back out. That's how I ended up meeting Meth."

"Hmm, he told me something about that." He watched as the young man ate another piece of cheese and plain tortilla. "Oz does know what you like to eat."

"He should. I asked to have this for lunch." He leaned closer. "Oz likes to spoil me and I like to indulge him." He sat back up. "What about you? What do you do besides trying to keep your insane cousin out of trouble?"

"Mostly, I own an antique shop in New York. My last wife recently died of cancer and I'm running from one of her coworkers who swears I killed her. He had a bit of crush on her." Connor pulled himself further onto the bed, kicking off his shoes so he could sit comfortably. "You really are a GHS, aren't you?"

"Yup, really and truly. Found that out while I was in New York, working." He looked around the room. "I like my soft, fuzzy things, but I could live without them if I had Oz and Giles. I might even be able to live without Giles, but I'd need Oz." He looked down at the quilt, pushing the food aside. "What else did you want to know?"

"What about your parents?" He got a shrug. "Don't have any?"

"Oh, I do, I gave them money to leave me alone and never come begging at the door." He looked up as Oz walked in. "Hi," he said, holding out his arms, receiving the badly needed hug. "What's wrong? You look like your computer crashed again."

"The program doesn't work. I'm missing a period or something. I'm taking a break before I kick the monitor." He laid down behind his lover, holding him loosely around the waist. "Eat."

"Yes, Oz." Xander picked up another piece of cheese to eat, stopping to kiss him when Oz's head hit his shoulder. "Better?"

"Not yet. Not until the whole tray is empty." He rubbed a hand over Xander's stomach. "See, the grumbly part in here needs to be placated so it'll let me sleep tonight."

"I ate yesterday," Xander said, giving him a silly grin. "My tummy just wanted to talk to Don."

"Oh. Okay." Oz kissed the back of Xander's neck. "Gonna go job hunting?"

"No, I was going to go into the jewelry store and see if my restoration pieces were done." He quickly finished off the rest of the snack. "I found some killer jewelry at an estate sale but it needed some attention."


"The day I went shopping with Cordy. Wonder if she's gotten her's yet? She bought two of the pieces she really liked, blew a week's salary on it."

"Wow, must have been very badly in need of work," Connor said. "Can they do that here?"

"There's an art restoration person up at the college, they pay him lots to do that sort of work." Xander slid out of the bed, heading for his shirt. "I think I'll pop in at the bank and make sure that all the stuff from Vermont's been transferred." He pulled the shirt on, buttoning it up as he looked down at his chest. "Wanna come with me?"

"I wouldn't mind," Connor said. "If you wouldn't that is."

"Not at all," Xander said, giving him a smile. "Oz?"

"Nope, got to find that missing period." He got up, stopping to get a small kiss. "Be safe. Don't let Connor drive you too fast."

"I won't," Xander sighed, giving him a comically distressed look. "I promise to be good and not buy up the store." He gave his lover a hug, holding on and squeezing for longer than was necessary. "Be safe," he whispered as he let go. "I want to come home to you."

"Yes, dear," Oz said, walking out. "He worries," he told Connor.

"I'd worry too," Connor told him. "Oz has this way of falling into the middle of trouble."

"Oh, I've seen that. He took up with Willow, one of my best friends in high school, and then turned into a werewolf." Connor stopped, looking at him. "He's fixed now, all safe and everything."

"That was *him*?" Xander nodded. "No wonder you love him, he's done it again." Connor shook his head, walking the few steps to stand beside him. "People that he needs have this way of finding Oz right after he's fallen into trouble." He waved outside. "Shall we?"

"You mean Oz and I found each other because he had fallen into trouble?"

"Definitely. That's how we met." Connor held the door open, watching Xander as he walked out. "Isn't that uncomfortable?" Xander looked over his shoulder, shaking his head. "I could never wear pants like that without underwear."

"I do it all the time," Xander said as he slid into the driver's seat. "I'll take pity on you and not make you drive me around." He checked under the car and then got out to check under the hood, coming out from under the front of the car with Fluffy, whom he went to toss back inside. "Stay," he called, heading back to the car. He checked the engine again, just to make sure, then closed the hood, getting in. He looked in the back seat, groaning. "Don!"

"Just leave him, it's not a hot day and I'm sure he'll be fine. Where's George, I haven't seen him all day."

"He's sitting on top of Meth's chest helping him read. He likes to do that. George pretends to be very dumb, but he's one smart cat." He started the car, listening to the engine for a few minutes. "Needs another tune up." He backed out, stopping suddenly to open the door. "Fluffy!"

Oz walked out and grabbed her, holding her to wave her little paw as they backed out. "Bad," he told her, walking back inside. "It's not like Don snuck in." He waved at the car as it disappeared.


Xander looked at the pieces on the velvet tray, frowning. "That doesn't even look nice or normal." He looked at the person behind the counter, frowning at her and her hesitant look. "It looks like you brushed on that gold leaf stuff."

She winced. "His student did it, I knew it wasn't what you wanted." She cleared her throat. "Do you want us to send it back?"

Connor looked at the bracelet, picking it up to look at it in the light. "I know someone who could do this sort of work, he's in New York also. You could have them send it there."

Xander considered him, then nodded. "Okay, can you do that?"

"If you can tell us his name," she said quickly. "We really would hate to lose your business, Mr. Harris." She danced from foot to foot. "We really can't afford to lose your business."

Connor looked around after writing out the name and address, and a short note to his friend. "You do seem to not be doing a lot of business. What's wrong?"

"One of our major clients just died. Her children sent all of her jewelry back to be sold." She gave him a pitiful look. "I'm sorry."

"That's not a problem," Connor assured him. "Where is this stuff?" A case was pointed to so he walked over. "Did they know some of this was fake?"

She jogged over, pulling out the trays. "Which pieces? We never checked them. He demanded we just sell them." She shrugged. "There's no one here that can tell."

Xander walked over, picking up the stones to look at them. "This one," he said, handing it over. "Either it's fake or it's really bad." He glanced up. "You've seen my stones, I've been practicing on them." He picked out a few more to look at, frowning when they looked like they were made of plastic. He tapped the last one on the glass counter, listening the sound it made. "That's real wrong too."

Connor picked up one of the magnifying glasses, checking the rest of the tray quickly. "What they gave you was trash," he said, handing the glass back. He gave her a sorry look. "I hate to say that but I only saw one actual stone on the whole tray. Why doesn't someone here know how to do that?"

"We're mostly out of the art restoration program up at the college," she said quietly. "Usually the boss would do that but he's not been here. His new wife's been taking all of his energy."

Xander shook his head. "It still seems like you should have someone here that knows about jewelry." He looked down at his own bracelet, wincing as he saw the tarnish on it. "Got to clean this later," he muttered, taking it off to put in his pocket.

"We have a sonic cleaner," she said, giving him a hopeful smile. "I've never seen it used."

He took the bracelet out, walking over to join her at the machine, helping her learn how to use it. He tapped his fingers while it worked, then lifted his bracelet out, drying it on a soft cloth next to the machine. "There," he said, showing it to her. "How's that?"

She gave him a brilliant smile. "Would you like to work here?"

Connor patted Xander on the back. "It'd be something you could do a few days a week," he suggested. "You'd get out of the house."

Xander looked around the store. "I could do that. Will you set up an appointment for me with your boss?"

"Sure," she said happily, heading for the phone. She came back a few minutes later, her smile diminished some. "He said he'd be right down. I told him you found out some of those stones are bad." She shrugged. "You have a half hour or so if you want to change or go do something else."

Xander nodded. "I have to stop over at the bank to check on something. I'll be back in a few minutes." He slipped back on his bracelet, heading for the door. "Connor, wanna come with me?" He got a nod and the immortal followed him out of the store. They walked down the street to the bank, walking in and smiling at the woman sitting at the small desk beside the entrance to the safety deposit boxes. "Hi, I'm Xander Harris. I'm expecting the contents of a second box to come in from Vermont, as well as something that should have been put in a safe somewhere?"

She picked up the phone dialing four digits. "Xander Harris is here," she said, hanging up. "Go to the glassed in office, the last one. He'll help you." She smiled at Connor, who nodded. "I thought your mate was different, younger."

"He is, this is a family friend, I'm showing him the town," Xander told her with a gentle smile. "Connor, can you go check on Don? This'll only take me a few minutes." He handed over the keys, walking back to the other office, knocking gently. "Hi, I'm Xander Harris. Is there a problem?" The seat across the desk was waved at. "What's wrong?"

"We've gotten your things, there was just some question as to how someone so young's gotten such a lot of money when we know his parents aren't that well off." He got up to shut the door, sitting back down in his seat. "If you've been doing something illegal, we can't hold your funds here."

Xander relaxed, shaking his head. "I have an aunt who left me some stones. I've sold some of them, that's where the money's come from. In the stuff from my other safety deposit box, there was paperwork for the last sale." A box was put on the table so he went through it, coming up with two of the three pieces of paper. "I'm not sure where the other one is," he said as he handed it over. He nodded at Connor to come in. "He can tell you it was an inheritance, he helped me decide what to do with it."

Connor sat down in the other chair, letting Don poke his head out. "Some woman yelled at me for letting him stay in the car so I brought him with me. He was napping on your seat." He scratched behind the kitten's ears, looking up at the man behind the desk. "It was an inheritance from some crazy, older woman."

Xander nodded. "There's some more in the box too, along with more cash." He stood up, looking inside the box, pulling out the rest of the papers to go through, handing most of them over. "The inventory from the bank up there, the rest of the paperwork of my sale in New York, and in the box I already have is the receipt for some that I did in LA." He sat back down. "Is this a problem?"

"No, it's a most unusual case. We can't hold illegal money here." He tapped his desk a few times then got up, heading out the door. "I'll be back, I have to check with my boss." He closed the door behind him.

Connor gave Xander a bland look. "We could always put it in the safe at home."

"We'll need a bigger safe," Xander said with a groan. "One that's Amanda proof."

"We've taken back everything she stole, minus a few hundred dollars that she spent before Richie caught up with her. How big is the safe under the spare bed?"

"It's a small one. It holds the four boxes of stones and not much else. I'd just feel better if it was somewhere safer, like the bank." He stopped as the man walked back in with a well dressed but cold-looking woman. "Is there some problem with me inheriting?"

"We know your parents," she said, closing the door and leaning against it. "You don't have any rich relatives, Mr. Harris."

He shook his head. "Aunt, as in with quotes. She was slightly insane, had no other family, and doted on me. Aunt Devi was like that. If it'd make you feel more comfortable, I'd gladly withdraw all my money from this bank and put it elsewhere."

"That may be a problem," she said, giving him a cold smile. "If they know your family history, I'm sure they'd refuse to take it too." She picked up the box off the desk, putting it out of his reach. "I think you should go now."

"I think I should call the cops," he said sweetly, glaring at her. "Which would you prefer?"

She shrugged. "Go ahead. I doubt they won't take you in for questioning. A man such as yourself doesn't get rich overnight without doing something wrong."

Xander picked up the phone off the desk, dialing the number marked for an outside line, then the police's main number. "Hi, this is Xander Harris, I need to have an officer come over to the Bank. Yes, the Second National. No, they're refusing to give me the money I had transferred back here. No, it's in a box in front of me." He hung up, sitting back down, waiting. When the officer got there, he handed over the paperwork. "They seem to have a problem with me inheriting."

The officer looked at the paperwork then at the bank's people. "Go get him his stuff before he charges you with Grand Theft." He looked at the two men, smiling at the kitten hiding in Connor's shirt. "You have all the appropriate paperwork. Who'd you inherit from?"

"My Aunt Devi. She wasn't really a member of the family but she was a sorta-aunt who liked me. She didn't have any kids, didn't really believe in banks, and left me all of her retirement fund, a bunch of stones." He smiled gently as another two boxes were carried in by the guards. "Is this my physical account and my safety deposit box also?" She nodded. "Thank you. I'll make sure I never darken your doorstep again." He looked at the officer. "Could I get you to help us take it to the car? I have to stop back in at the jewelry store for a few minutes but then we're going home. I'll buy you lunch and everything." He gave him a hopeful/pathetic look.

"Of course, Mr. Harris. You've always been real good to us." He picked up the box on the desk. "Is this all of it?"

"No, there's another in the safe," the woman said, walking out with one of the guards. "We'll go get it." She walked away, her gait very jerky and stiff. She came back a few minutes later with a box on a roll cart, letting the guards put the other boxes on the cart. "I hope you'll forgive us, Mr. Harris. It's a federal regulation that we have to follow."

He nodded. "Maybe." He followed the cart and the cop out of the bank, letting Connor take rear guard. A few people stopped to look at him but he just smiled at them, walking past them. When they got to the car, Xander pulled some of the money out of one of the boxes, handing the cop a big bill. "Go to wherever and get yourself some lunch, but if you go to Maise's, please order me a big order of the wings and the stuffed mushrooms with cheese?" He nodded, smiling. "Thanks." He looked at Connor as he tucked the rest of the bills in his pocket and closed the trunk. "Ten minutes, I promise." He jogged into the jewelry store, smiling at the man behind the counter. "Sorry. The bank had a problem with inheritances." He shrugged, taking the bag she handed him. "Not going to send it on?"

"Oh, we are. That's something else we had of yours in the back and a refund of your check." She waved at the other man. "He'd like to talk to you if you have a few minutes."

"A few," Xander agreed, walking over to sit in front of him. He smiled as he looked down at the bracelets. "I have one just like that," he said, pointing to an engraved herringbone platinum bracelet, "but mine has symbols on it."

The old man looked him over. "What are you?"

"Highly loved and newly rich?" He gave him a small smile. "I inherited a lot of stones so I've been practicing on them."

"And you want to work here?"

"I think I'd like to try. I think I could do a lot of business for the store, especially since I can usually tell a real stone from a fake one and I have very subtle tastes for my own personal jewelry." He showed off his bracelet. "I also intend to shop here more often now that the whole town knows that I inherited. I had been going to LA to get away from the gossip and questions."

The old man nodded and held out his hand. "Three days a week, one a Saturday, six hours a day. I'll mail you your schedule in the next few days."

Xander took a card out of his wallet, handing it over. "That's my lover's email address and our physical address and phone number. When you need me, I'm usually there." He stood up. "Is there anything else?"

"No, you can fill out your forms when you come back in for your first day." He waved at the door. "You should go, I saw what you loaded in."

"Yeah, and a lot of that was stones." He waved and walked out, remembering his bag at the last second. He slid into the passenger's seat, looking at Connor, who was smiling. "What?"


"Refund and something I had back there." Xander smiled at the cop who walked up beside the car and got into the back, taking the bag he held. "Thanks, man. Oz'll love this." He checked down inside, picking out a wing to munch on. "Home?"

"Definitely. Then we're calling a safe company to come put a real one in," Connor said, starting the car. Which made Don hop out of his shirt and scramble into the back seat. "Thank you." He rubbed a scratch on his chest. "He snuck in," he explained to the officer as he backed out. "Home?" he asked, looking down the street.

"Left," Xander said, pointing. "Then left at the sign two blocks down."


Oz watched as the emergency safe installation was completed, letting Xander get the door. "It's locked into the foundation, right?" he asked the man installing it and got a nod. "How do I change combinations?"

"With this switch here," he said, showing him the button to push to get in and change the combination, not watching as the young man did it. "What's with the boxes anyway? We usually don't get such rush jobs."

"Inheritance," Oz said quietly, looking over his shoulder. "The bank didn't like the fact that he was so young and his family was poor, but someone had left him money." Oz set the last number of the six digits, stepping back. "Okay, close it, let's see if it worked." The man pushed the door, watching as it closed and locked. Oz stepped up, pushing in the code he had just decided on, opening the door. "Great. Thanks." He paid the man in cash, waiting until he was gone to change the code again. When he was done, he walked out to sit beside Xander, looking at the woman who screamed 'IRS' to him. "Let me guess," he said dryly, "the bank got you again?"

"The withdrawal," Xander said, handing over the forms. "I was given the stuff as an inheritance. As far as I know, the taxes were paid on them. And I went to H and R Block last time to do my taxes."

The young woman smiled. "I'm sure it was just an oversight." She looked over the forms she had been given, considering one. "I see some taxes were paid when the stones were cashed in, but you don't have a letter or statement of the inheritance tax?"

"As far as I know, she had them under her bed in a few foot lockers. Her will just left me everything in the house." He shrugged. "I had no idea it wasn't paid when the boxes showed up with a letter attached."

Giles walked in, stopping when he saw the young woman. "What's wrong this time? Did the bank try to do something again?"

"The IRS got us for inheritance taxes," Xander said with grimace. "We don't even have a copy of the will."

"No, we don't," Giles said carefully, coming over to sit beside Xander. "How much are we in arrears?"

"It appears close to three million," she said, putting the paperwork down. "In cash."

Xander frowned. "I guess we could cash in more of the stones, but won't that get us in more trouble?"

"A little," she admitted, flipping through the contents of her briefcase. "I have a form somewhere for you to fill out, but I really do need to see a copy of the will."

"I was just sent the boxes," Xander said, biting his lip. "I don't even remember a lawyer being involved. Just a plain envelope that came with the first box." She looked up. "Like I said, she was very strange."

Giles sighed, standing up. "I'll be back in a moment, boys." He brushed through Xander's hair as he walked back to the spare bedroom, grabbing his book off the dresser, stopping to look at Methos. "How do you deal with inheritance taxes?"

Methos sat up, frowning. "I have no idea. I have someone who does that for me." He looked toward the living room. "The IRS is here?"

"Yes, and they're saying we owe them three million and we need a copy of the will." Giles sat down on the end of the bed. "This has not been a good day. Xander got a job and the bank refused to hold his money because they couldn't believe he had inherited it. We had to pay to have a new safe put in, one that basically has torn up a wall in the storage room under the stairs." He looked down at the book. "I need to find something to make them ignore us."

"My, how unethical," Methos whispered, sliding up behind him. "Could you do that?"

"Maybe to her but not to them all," he admitted. "If I could, I already would have." He smiled at the man behind him. "Do you have a suggestion?"

"A small one," Methos said, getting off the bed and pulling on a pair of pants, heading out with Giles behind him. "Is there a problem?" She handed him a form. "What's this?"

"The inheritance taxes he owes."

Methos balled it up. "I'm sure it was paid. Of course, she wasn't from this country, but then again, I'm sure you've taken that into account?"

The woman tipped her head then looked at Xander. "She wasn't?"

"Immigrant. Had a green card, I *think*."

She shook her head, pulling out another form. "That will make a difference. Where were the stones sent from?"

"Her house in LA," Methos said gently, his voice almost a purr. "She was from Central America I think. We were never quite sure where she was from but her accent sounded South American."

She cleared her throat, closing her briefcase. "You guys can't even prove she exists, right?" Methos and Xander shook their heads. "She didn't have anything on record? No forms, past taxes, nothing?" Xander shook his head. "Then how did she get this money?"

"Is it going to be a problem if we say originally she was a prostitute who had a very rich client who chased her across the country?" She shook her head slowly. "She was. He refused to give up, sending her money and presents and stuff." Xander reached into a box, pulling out the big box of jewelry, showing off the sapphire necklace. "She used to tell me this was a present from him."

"Why did she leave?"

"She got married, found a man she wanted that much and moved across the country with him."

"Her client followed, it seems he felt he was in love. He bankrupted his whole family for her." Methos sighed at her head shake. "I'm sorry, now that you know the whole story, you'll have to make you own decision about how much he'll have to pay."

She packed back up her briefcase. "How long ago was this?"

"She was eighty when she died," Xander said sadly, looking down. "She said she was in her late teens. She only did it for six weeks. He forgave her though." He looked up. "I'll leave it up to you, I'm still young and naive enough to trust the government."

She smiled. "Good. We'll call you tomorrow." She tossed a card at him. "If you don't hear from me in three days, call." She walked out, followed by Methos, who took the cats from her car for her.

Methos walked back inside, kicking the door shut. "Where's Don?" he called.

"Up here," Connor called. He walked down, smiling at the gathered men. "What did the IRS want?"

"To steal my money," Xander said, leaning back on the couch between Oz and Giles. "What are we going to do?"

"I think she'll see sense. You may still end up paying something," Methos told him, reaching down to drop the two kittens in his lap. "George was staring up at her engine."

Xander looked down at George. "Dear, engines kill kittens every day." George licked his fingers as he petted his chin. "Okay, we have an understanding?" He got a silent meow. "Thanks." He looked up as someone knocked on the door. "Come in?" he yelled.

Giles nudged his shoulder. "Never say that in this town."

"Sorry, forgot. I'm feeling safe." He looked up at the IRS agent, nodding. "Figured it out?"

"Yes and you're going to be happy. We can't seize the assets because the crime was so long ago, and we can't really tax you on the regular rate. Since it appears she was an illegal alien, we can't really tax the inheritance at all." She handed him over a form. "But my boss said that you still have to pay something."

Xander looked at the figure and nodded. "Okay, and this is the last I'll hear about it?"

"Until tax time," she agreed. "Unless it's all going out of the country."

"Part of it is," Oz told her quietly. "We've just now started to look into that since the local bank was so snotty." He looked at the figure and got up, heading into the room under the stairs where the new safe was. He bypassed the racks of canned vegetables and fruits, opening the safe with the new combination, counting out the money. He closed the safe, making sure that no kittens were in there with him, before heading out to pay the woman so she would go away. "Here. Exact."

She sat down in the chair, looking at the bundle of cash she had been handed. She counted it twice, then swallowed hard, taking a receipt book out of her purse and writing one out for the amount. "Thank you. We appreciate prompt attention." She handed the slip to Oz, wrapping a rubber band around the cash, then stood up, walking back out to her car.

Methos made a quick count of the kittens, heading out to grab George before he could get caught in her engine this time. "How do they get out?" he asked as he tossed the kitten back into Xander's lap. "I haven't seen a hole out there."

"He's the sneaky one," Oz said, taking George to hold. "Go look at another engine and no kitty treats and no sleeping in the bedroom for a month." The kitten gave him a pitiful look. "No."

Xander leaned his head on Oz's shoulder, scratching George's ears. "You have to pick a *good* master, George, not just anyone who comes along."

"Just like your mother did," Oz told him, helping pet the kitten. "Nap?" he suggested. "It's been a long day for you."

"I'd like that," Xander said with a small, private smile just for Oz. "Want to help?" He looked at Giles, giving him the same smile. "Help me nap until supper time?"

"Of course." Giles stood up, taking the kittens to put on the couch, then helped his lover up, walking with him into the bedroom. He closed the door behind them, looking at his lover. "Xander, I heard what you told Connor this morning. It is true?"

Xander walked over to where the older man was standing, looking up at him. "I love you, lots, Rupert, but I feel connected to Oz on some deeper level. It's almost like we've never really gotten that deep. You never really took the time to ask me what I wanted in life and things, and I never asked you because you didn't seen interested in me that way." His face was caressed. "I'm sorry if I hurt you. I want to feel that way about you."

"And so you shall," Giles told him, giving him a small, sweet kiss. "I seem to be remiss in getting to know you on a deeper level. I shall fix that the next time we have the house or the room to ourselves."

"We have it now," Xander said, taking Giles' hand to play with. "Please? I really want to be connect to you that way."

Giles smiled, leading him over to the bed. "After your nap, precious. We'll talk tonight." He lay down with his lover, letting him cuddle up to him. He looked over his shoulder as Methos walked in. "I'm still afraid," he said quietly, giving the sleeping man's head a soft kiss. "I have this great fear of getting closer to him. It's almost like I know I'll lose him just as soon as I come to appreciate what I have in him."

"You won't unless you push him away," Methos told him, sitting on the edge of the bed. "You have to trust sometime. He won't die on you like she did. He won't run away like some others have. He definitely won't turn to the dark because of you. You just have to relax about him."

"I'll try," Giles promised, his eyes starting to get heavy. "Thank you."

"It's what I live to do," Methos said, getting up and leaving them alone. He met Oz in the hall, stopping him. "He's very insecure about you both."

Oz nodded. "I know. We've just got to be careful about how fast we go." He leaned against the wall. "Methos, for the first time, I want someone to stay with me for as long as I live. All the casual lovers I've had have no comparison to my men in there." He looked toward the bedroom door. "I can't live without them. Not like how I didn't want to keep going before, but now I know I'll walk out and challenge someone stupidly to take my head so I can be with them forever."

Methos nodded, giving him a hug. "Love is a many splendored thing but it's also a pain in the arse." He walked toward his room. "I'm going to read with the kittens. You go be with them. They need you more than you need to start on your program again."

Oz nodded, heading into his room. He stripped, crawling in behind Giles to hold him, watching Xander sleep from under his lover's arm. "I need you both in ways that defy words," he whispered. "I'll do anything to keep you."

Xander blinked at him. "Not leaving," he promised, taking the offered hand to hold, going back to sleep, comforted by everything in his life.

To be continued....