GHS 11: Toys for the Puppy and the Human.
Oz looked over his shoulder at Xander, smiling at the way he was resting in the back seat. "Puppy toys then treat for Xander?" he suggested to Giles, who simply smiled. "Okay. Pet warehouse over on Elemore, then the big fabric outlet place." He backed the car out of the hospital's parking lot, smiling at Xander when he was woken by the motion. "Take a nap, we're going to get puppy toys."
"And kitten toys," Giles said, turning to look at him. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine, just a little tired," Xander said with a yawn. "It's like I'm totally healed but my body's wiped because of it." Oz nodded so he asked the question that had been bothering him all day. "Do you get like this when you heal?"
"No, usually if I'm that sick, I come back to life already healed." Oz switched lanes, getting onto the interstate. "Then I take a nap."
Giles shook his head. "I've been wondering if coming back takes some of our life expectancy."
"Not sure," Oz admitted, navigating through the heavy traffic skillfully. "No one's ever said anything about it. I'm guessing that the clumsiest of us just die in the fights faster so no one's ever checked."
"Natural selection?" Giles asked. "A bit old fashioned."
"Rupert, Methos is five thousand and some," Oz reminded him.
"Can't get much more old fashioned than that," Xander quipped.
"Don't say that to him, he'd be crushed. He tries to stay current, he even gave up raping and pillaging a few years ago."
"Now I know you're both feeling better, you're making bad jokes," Giles said, reaching over the seat to take Xander's hand and squeeze it. "I'm so glad you're better."
"Me too," he said with a small grin. "Being that sick sucks."
"Truly," Oz said. "But never again, right?"
"Never again," Xander promised, crossing his heart with a finger. "Not unless you absolutely need me to and only if you say so."
Oz nodded. "Fair enough." He got off on another exit, heading for the big pet warehouse sign. "Nothing that makes noise, okay?"
"But Rocky needs one squeaky toy," Xander pleaded. "Please, Oz?"
"The first squeak or jingle I hear, I'm taking care of the noise."
"But you think Fluffy's cute when she chases your balled up notes."
"Those don't make noise while you're trying to sleep," Oz reminded him. "Let's stick with chew toys and stuff - and food."
"I'll beg," Xander said, giving him the big eyes. "Please?"
"You already are and you're not doing a very good job of it," Oz told him gently, giving him a smile after they had parked. "Xander, those squeaky things are really annoying."
"Please?" He turned up the begging, slouching a little in the seat. "Pretty please, Oz?"
"We'll see," Oz said, shaking his head. "You're usually much better at begging."
"I'm usually not under orders not to fall to my knees and take you in to beg with my mouth," Xander retorted, unbuckling and leaning forward. He whispered something in Oz's ear and got a nod. "Really?"
"If you promise to do that," Oz agreed, getting out of the car. "One, of each." He patted his pocket for Xander's wallet, going back into the car for it. "What is it with this thing?"
"It doesn't like back pockets," Xander told him. "It crawls out of mine all the time." He linked his arm through each of his lover's, walking between them into the store. "Want to start in toys or food?"
"Let's start in food, get the chore done first," Oz said, grabbing a cart that had just been abandoned.
"Big bag of kitty food and big bag of doggy food," Xander said. He smiled at the look he got. "I'll help carry them inside."
"You will not," Giles said softly. "You may not lift for the next few weeks." He pointed down an aisle. "Food."
Oz headed that way, stopping to consider the various puppy formulas. He looked up as Xander walked over with a twenty pound bag of kitten food, frowning at him. "Didn't we just say not to do that?"
"It was all of six feet," Xander said with a naughty grin. "See, now you can get Rocky the perfect puppy food."
Giles read the label, nodding. "Oz, get the same brand, this looks good enough for humans to consume."
Oz snorted. "Eaten dog food, never again, man." He picked up an equally big bag of puppy food, putting it in the cart. He stopped Xander before he could move on. "What did we just agree on?"
"Yes, Oz," Xander said, hugging him for a few seconds. "I'll be good." He took the handle of the cart, starting to push. "Can I do this?"
"Sure, you drive. Toys."
"There are separate aisles for dog and cat toys," Xander noted, looking up at the aisle signs. "Which one first?"
Oz looked up. "Puppy toys then we'll swing through adult ones." He caught up to the young man, putting a hand on his rear as they walked. Giles looked at him, shaking his head. "Just to make sure he's okay," he said.
"I'm sure," Giles said dryly, heading for the rawhide. "Bones or squares?"
"Balls!" Xander said, picking up a few. "Play and chew at the same time."
"Sure," Oz said, giving him a small smile. "Get some of each. They'll last if she doesn't want to play with them. Get a few for the kittens too, the unflavored ones. They'll need to teeth soon."
Giles grabbed some of each shape, loading them into the cart. "That should last a good bit."
"At least a few weeks," Xander countered as he put the chewballs into the cart also. "Toys?"
"Sure," Oz said, waving a hand down the aisle. "Go find some." He rested his head on Giles' shoulder, both of them watching Xander be happy and pick toys for their pets. When he came back with his arms full, Oz checked through them, counting the number of noisy toys. "I thought you said one."
"I did, but they're so *cute*!" he said, showing off a little newspaper that had a headline from their town. "See?"
Oz nodded. "I can fix squeaky toys, remember that." He pushed the cart, heading for the cat toys. "I think Rocky now has enough to last her the month."
Xander nodded. "Yup, she should." He kissed Oz's cheek once they were in the next aisle, mostly alone in it at that. "Thank you for humoring me."
"You're welcome," Oz said, wrapping an arm around his waist and letting Giles push the cart for a while. "You can do this, you know. I'm not ashamed to be seen with you."
Xander hugged him hard, laying his head on the comfortable shoulder. "Okay. Thank you, Oz."
"Boys, there's a limit between porn and cuddling," Giles said with a light blush. "Can we please not cross it in here?"
Xander lifted his head. "Sure. I'm sorry I embarrassed you." He kissed Giles' cheek. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Giles stopped in front of the display for kitten toys, looking at all the options. "Oh, my, most of these have bells."
"Got to be some silent ones," Oz said, picking up some fuzzy mice and some soft catnip toys for them to chew on. He tossed them into the cart, resting against Xander's front while he considered the rest of the display. "Get a few of those mice with the long tails, and one package of balls with bells." Giles did as he was told. "Anything else you think that they'll like?"
"Koosh ball," Xander said, pointing as his arms went around his lover's waist. "Didn't know that they had become kitty toys though. Guess cats like them, they're easy to carry around and must feel funny in their mouth."
"See, quiet toys. Very good choice." One was tossed into the cart and Oz turned them around to look at the display behind them, picking up a few more versions of the standard cat toy, getting various sizes and colors to entice their little monsters of destruction. He looked at the cart, wincing at it's almost fullness. "I think we have enough. We only have Xander's wallet with us."
"Which has cards," Xander pointed out, letting him go. He snuck another package into the cart, earning a head shake from Giles and a tolerant nod from Oz. "Sorry, had to do it."
"Naughty," Oz sighed, grabbing Xander to pull him closer. "Behave or else we're going to let Don sleep with us tonight. I'm sure his cold little nose will not feel good against your chest."
"Okay," he said with a evil grin. "Not even one more big ball?"
"We'll get them one of the small beach-type balls," Giles said, pointing at the display. "They should be big enough to play with ..." He stopped, pointing out something near the top of the shelves. "They make cat beds?"
"You mean besides ours and Xander's clothes?" Oz asked dryly, looking up. "Kitty condos and cat beds. Maybe we should get..." He looked at the big box on the end cap across from them. "Yeah, one of those too," he said, grabbing the box, struggling to get it under the cart. "I don't care if we mail it home, it'll stop the cats from climbing on me when I'm sitting down."
Xander looked over the self-proclaimed 'kitty gym', smiling. "I think they'll like it. I would if I were them. Got some nice hiding places and some great climbing stuff." He pressed the button for assistance, smiling at the teen that showed up. "We need one of the kitty condos and two of the kitty beds please," he said, pointing.
Soon, their cart was really full and they were headed for the check out. Oz checked his pockets, smiling as he came up with the wallet, letting Giles unload the cart while he waited to pay the lady behind the register.
"New cats?" she asked with a smile as she scanned the barcode on the gym set.
"Two kittens, very spoiled kittens, and a puppy." Oz handed her the cash, not even wincing at the amount they had just spent. Xander added a rope at the last minute, making him hand over a few cents in change to cover the extra taxes. "Good thinking," he said, squeezing his hand. "We can tie it to the top."
"I have a small luggage rack up there," Xander reminded him. "It'll hitch to that." He grabbed the full cart, heading out to the car. "Keys?" he called. The trunk was opened via the new keychain helper system Oz had had installed. "Thank you." He lifted a few of the bags, soon getting help from his men, making short work of the gifts they were bringing home.
Xander slid into the back, beside Oz, who was waiting on him, cuddling up to him as soon as he was buckled in. "Hi," he said, kissing his lover's cheek. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Oz checked the rope running across the inside roof of the car. "Should be okay, it's still tight."
"I'm sure we'll hear it if the box falls off," Giles said as he started to back out. "Where is this fabric place, Oz?"
"Partway home. Three exits before ours then off to the left. It's a barn-looking place on a hill overlooking the exit."
"I used to wonder what that was," Xander said, squeezing the hand he stole to hold. "Thank you for indulging me, Oz, I mean it."
"I know. You're still welcome." Oz gave him a light kiss, smiling as Xander melted against him. "Been too long?"
"Yup, much too long without Oz or Giles kisses."
"I think we can fix that," Oz whispered as he leaned in for another one. "He can have you the rest of the trip."
Xander looked over all the available machines, wincing at the prices and features shown. "Oz?" he asked helplessly. "What's the difference between a serger and a sewing machine?"
"sergers seal seams," Oz said, handing him a bolt of fabric to test out. "Like?"
Xander smiled, rubbing his hands all over it. "Like it a lot. Can I have some?"
"Of course. But peach skin fabric is for more difficult things."
"Can I have some of that stretchy velvet too?" Oz nodded so he hugged him. "Thank you." He looked at the machines again. "Help?"
A saleswoman walked over, smiling at them. "First timers?"
"Not really," Oz said, "but I'm teaching him. This'll be his machine."
"So he'll need to have the basics and not much else or would you like a top of the line machine that he'll grow into?"
Oz shook his head. "He'll be working with things like velvet and peach skin, maybe some silk someday. He'll need something to handle those and to handle some heavy sewing demands. He wants to make a lot of his wardrobe."
She nodded, walking around the table, coming back with one style which she put down in front of them. "I like this one personally. It's easy enough for a beginner to use but someone who does heavy sewing can use it just as well. It's very sturdy."
"Does it have a serger or will we have to get a separate one?" Xander asked. "I like the idea of finishing seams that way so there's no way they can come undone."
"We can get a separate one," Oz said, looking at the machine. "I used something like this before, must have been an earlier model. Want this one?" He saw Xander's hesitation. "It's up to you."
"I'm trusting you with this since I'm learning," Xander decided, staring at the machine in the center, raised above the rest. "I like that one," he said, pointing.
"That one's not really for beginners," the saleswoman said gently. "Many professionals and people who are deeply into sewing use this machine."
Oz looked at the advertized features. "I like the other one better," he said. "No one needs to have disks to program in embroidery, not with what we're doing anyway." He looked at Xander. "Pick another."
"But it looks sleek."
"But it's got tons of stuff you'll never use and it doesn't have one of the main things you will use. Get the nice, basic machine and if you're that into sewing we can get the fancy one later."
Xander nodded. "Okay." He lifted the first sewing machine's box into their cart, making sure he didn't hit any of the fabric. "Oz, can I go pick out colors?"
"Sure," he said, smiling as his lover ran for the stretch velvets immediately. "We need a serger too," he said quietly. "And some patterns, one for a pair of drawstring pants for him, one for a vest, maybe one for t-shirts."
She nodded. "What sort of fabric was he looking at for those?" Oz pointed at where Xander was holding half a dozen bolts of stretch velvet. "Oh, I see." She bit her lip. "We have two drawstring patterns, one that's cut more as pajama bottoms, the other as more of a sweat pants version." Oz nodded. "The vest is easy enough, as is the t-shirt one. Both of those can be found in the beginner patterns actually."
Oz followed her over to the sergers, considering the machines. "I want the blue one," he said, pointing at the top of the line model. "We'll both be using it." She handed him a box, leading him over to the patterns section, where Giles was looking through books. "Which would you recommend?"
"For the drawstring pants? I'd recommend the pajama bottom ones, they're much less complicated. You'll have to sew over the placard in the front but otherwise they should be fine for a first project." She smiled as Xander walked over laden with fabric. "My, you like that stuff, don't you?"
"I live in it," Xander said, giving her a charming smile. "The closest thing to fur I'll ever have."
She chuckled lightly. "All right. We were just discussing the patterns you'll be needing. Would you like a pattern for more of a sweat pants style drawstring pants or one for more of a pajama style?"
"Pajama ones," Xander decided with a nod. "Then I can make jammies too." He grinned at Oz. "For some people's birthdays."
Oz laughed, hugging him. "Sure. Help her and Giles get you patterns." He looked at Giles, watching as he lifted another pattern out of the drawer. "Are those in the right size?"
"All but one," he said, handing it to the saleswoman. "Do you have that in our size perhaps? I'd like something like that myself."
She shrugged and headed for the filing cabinets, coming back with another package. "Here we go," she said, handing it over. Then she handed over three more. "The others you were asking about."
Xander made a happy noise, pointing at a picture in a book. "Oh, want that one, please Oz?" He picked up the book to show him the loose pants he preferred advertised as a pattern. "Please?"
"Sure," Oz said softly, looking at the pile in the cart. "We're going to be broke when we get home," he reminded.
"No we're not," Xander said, giving him a hug. "Relax, this'll last me for months."
"And then some," Oz said, mentally calculating the cost he was going to be paying. Six dollars a yard for the ten colors of velvet. Ten dollars a yard for the peach skin fabric. Close to seven hundred for sewing machine and serger together. He looked around, seeing the t-shirt material he wanted. "Xand? T-shirt cotton? Get a few grey too."
"Okay." He jogged over, picking up the ones he wanted, making three trips. "Got to get enough for all of us."
Giles shook his head. "Where are we putting all this?"
"There's a very nice room behind the stairs," Oz reminded him. "Lots of natural light, looks out over the yard." Giles shook his head. "That's the room you refused to move furniture into because we'd never get it back out. You didn't want to hit your head repeatedly on the low door frame."
"Oh, that room." Giles nodded. "He'll need a work surface, an ironing board also."
"Have both," Oz assured him. "Come on, Xander, before you buy the rest of the store out."
"Did you get your threads?" Oz shook his head. "Come on, I want to see you weave. You promised to teach me."
"Point," Oz conceded after a few seconds. He liked to see Xander happy. "We'll get the basics today and I'll come back for more when we have money."
"We *have* money, Oz," Xander said, looking at the cart. "Relax."
"We only have your wallet," Oz reminded him. "Which we didn't refill when we were home."
"Then I'll put stuff back," Xander said, nodding. "That's reasonable, right?"
"Of course," the saleswoman said with a smile back at them. "For this amount, we'd even give you a discount."
Xander grinned at her. "See, good stuff, Oz."
"Yup, very good." Oz handed him the cart so he could pick up some threads to start his weaving project with. He dropped the spools into the cart, taking control of it back and heading for the checkout, where Giles was waiting for them. "Thank you for your help."
"I love to see young couples who craft together," she said, waving and heading back to her section of the store.
Xander unloaded the cart, smiling at the shocked woman behind the counter. "Hi. Just starting out."
"How much of each fabric do you need?" she asked, pulling out a pair of scissors. Oz shook his head. "You're taking the whole thing?"
"Yeah, it'll be easier. We don't get this way often." He pulled the wallet out, looking down inside it. "Xander," he said quietly, motioning him over to show him the few bills inside. "See?"
"If we need to, use this," Xander said, handing him the card he had picked out to use. "It's not through home and should be fine."
Giles cleared his throat, pulling out his wallet. "I grabbed Xander's wallet from the house when we left," he said as he handed it over. "At least I thought it was his."
Xander gave him a hug. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Giles told him, patting his back. "Now pay the nice lady so we can go home and sleep. I'm more than ready to hit the house and our animals."
Xander nodded. "Me too, I miss curling up to read with the kittens. This time I can start on the sewing machine book."
"Has a tape," Oz said, pointing at the corner ad on the sewing machine's box. He winced at the price on the register. "She said we could get a discount?"
"I'll have to ask my manager." She pushed a button on the phone, calling her out. Pretty soon, a grandmotherly looking woman walked out, smiling at all them. "Cheryll said they could get a discount?"
"For that amount, yes, they can have ten percent off." She smiled at Xander. "Just starting out?"
He nodded. "Oz is going to teach me." He wrapped an arm around his lover's waist. "Since I have to lie around the house anyway, I'm going to build up my wardrobe."
Oz nodded. "Heart attack three days ago." He rubbed down Xander's back, smiling at the manager for some reason. "Thank you."
"Oh, you're very welcome." She rang in the discount, laughing when Oz still winced. "Yes, this is an expensive habit to start, but an easy one to keep."
"Yeah, I know. I did costumes." Oz opened both wallets, ending up handing over the card. He watched as it was run, nodding as it was accepted. "Good." He looked at his lovers. "We've got to get new cards through somewhere besides our bank since they no longer like us."
"I'll let you pick them," Xander said, giving him a smile as he took the first bag to put into the cart. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Cheryll will be very happy with her bonus. For each new person she starts she gets one." The manager walked away, going to talk to the woman who had helped them, taking a sheet she had been writing on.
"We'll be doing a quick inventory tonight, but if you need us to order you a bolt of something, just call and it'll take us a few days," she told Oz. "Our fabric suppliers are good about special orders." She handed Oz the receipt and the change, both of them watching Xander and Giles load the cart. "I hope he likes to sew."
"I do," Oz said, following them out. "Thanks." She made a noise, waving another bag. "My threads?"
She nodded. "I put them in a separate bag so you wouldn't have to search for them. Sorry."
He waved it off. "It's a good." Oz walked out to the car, watching as the cat things were pushed aside to make room for the new bags. "We're getting Methos to unload the car," he decided, getting into the driver's seat, his little bag going between the seats. Xander and Giles got into the back a few minutes later, and Oz got out to reclose the trunk since the light was still on. He came back, buckling in. "We ready?"
"Unless you can think of something else to do," Giles said. "Supper perhaps."
"Not," Xander said, frowning at him and giving his arm a little nudge. "I'm cooking."
"We're ordering," Oz decided. "You're not going to do anything tonight but sit and look cute. You promised."
Xander nodded. "Okay. Can we sit and look cute in the craft room?"
"Sure," Oz sighed, starting the car. "Home," he said, backing out. "We'll call Maise's."
Methos looked out the front window, wincing as he saw how low the Lexus was riding in the back. "Richie?" He heard a giggle so gave up trying to bring the younger immortal from the bedroom and walked out to meet them. He sniffed the food Xander was carrying. "I would have cooked if you had asked."
"It's in payment for helping us unload," Oz said dryly. "Sewing stuff and animal stuff." He caught Fluffy as she ran out, hugging her. "Hey, you, we got you toys."
"Yeah, we did," Xander said, sitting on the front step to hug both Rocky and Don. "We got toys and food and chew toys too." He rubbed down Don's head, smiling at him. "Have you been a good kitten?"
"No," Methos said, taking the animals back into the house, putting them into the spare bedroom and locking them in so they could leave the door open while they unloaded. He walked back out, giving the trunk a helpless look. "Did we buy out both stores?"
"Almost," Oz said, grabbing the serger. "Grab something, fabric goes into the small backroom, toys go into the living room."
"And the big box," Xander said as he untied it, "goes into a corner of the living room so we can put it together for the babies." He came around to grab some of the fabric but Oz took it from him. "They're light." He was handed a bag of toys. "Yes, Oz." He walked inside, starting to unwrap all the kitten toys in the middle of the floor.
"My, you've had a talk it looks like," Methos said as they walked past Xander, bending down to get into the small back room. "I didn't even know this was here."
"Xander found it while they were moving stuff for him. He said he hid in here while the movers got all sweaty with his stuff." He bent back over to get out of the door, which was about four feet high because it was in a half wall under the stairs. "Giles refused to move anything into here."
"It's fully normal inside," Methos said, looking around before bending down to get back out. "Just the door is an inconvenience. It was probably meant for children to play in."
"Maybe. Not going to have that problem though so it's our new craft room." Oz headed back out to the car, wincing as he stepped on a rawhide bone. "Xander, let's keep the toys somewhat consolidated, okay?"
Xander looked up. "I am, that one just moved on it's own." He reached over, picking it up and dropping it in his lap with the rest of the toys. "See? Good me. A few chew things of each type, six of the fuzzy mice, the balls, a few catnip toys, and a few of the squeaky toys. Leaving the rest packed?"
"Sounds excellent," Oz said, bending down to kiss him. "Where's Giles?"
"He's in the bathroom, said something about floating." Xander grinned, stealing a second kiss. "Thank you for spoiling me, even though I did that."
"Hey, I like to spoil you and you seemed to need it." Oz sat down across from him, examining the rawhide ball. "It's going to take Rocky a few days to break into that to start and chew it up."
"Oz," Methos said as he walked back in laden with bags of fabric bolts, "weren't you helping?"
"Yup, just stealing kisses." Oz got up, heading out to grab some more of their things.
Xander smiled at his men as they worked, all his suggestions and offers to help ignored. When everything was inside, and Oz and Methos were collapsed on the couch together, he got up to let the animals out, bringing them all out to set them in front of the new toys, separating them out for them. Everyone laughed as Rocky took off with a catnip toy, then at the kittens who started to play with the rawhide ball.
Giles walked out, patting the two men's arms in sympathy. "I'm sorry, I couldn't get free." He sat on the floor in front of Oz, watching the kittens play. "My, you've decided to break traditions, haven't you?" He picked up one of the fuzzy mice, waving it in front of Don's face. The kitten growled, pouncing on it, stealing it and letting it bounce away. He followed, pouncing on the purple mouse, carrying it away from his sister, who was trying to see what he had.
Xander picked up one of the mice with a long tail, waving it for her. She meowed at it, batting it while it swung. No one was prepared for when she leapt up to grab his hand, chewing on the tail. "Gee, I think they like it," he said with a smile, surrendering the toy to her. He looked over at where Giles was examining the box. "I could help, just sit and hand tools over."
"I'll do it," Richie said as he and Willow walked out, smiling at the newly returned men. "Hi. How you feelin'?"
"Fine, really good," Xander said, giving him a smile. "And Oz spoiled me rotten today." He waved at Willow. "You look happy."
She nodded, leaning down to kiss his forehead. "Yup, am." She sat down beside Fluffy, taking the mouse from her to tease her, until she got a handful of claws. "Oww." She gave the mouse back, rubbing the back of her hand. "I was just going to help you play with it."
Fluffy looked up and nosed her injured hand, giving it a small lick before going back to her playing/pouncing on the mouse.
Xander patted her shoulder. "She *wanted* that mouse, Will, and she's a very stubborn female. Kinda reminds me of you sometimes."
She punched his shoulder. "Behave. I'm not stubborn."
"Of course you are, all women are. That's how they control men," Richie said as he pulled the big box out to look at the information on the side. "I have all these tools in the car."
"We have some," Oz said, pointing at the garage. "Xander, where did you put dinner?"
"On the counter. Um, we didn't..."
"Yeah we did," Oz said. "We got three couple's meals. They can share, we can share the other two, and Methos can have the other box of fatty, good tasting stuff that you can't."
"Not even one cheese stuffed mushroom?"
"Surely he can have one," Methos said.
"The doctor said he needed to reduce his cholesterol level by about ten points. No cheese."
"Please? I'll have a salad tomorrow for lunch to make up for it. He can have part of the other couple's meal, they're really *huge*."
Oz rolled his eyes. "You can have *three*, Xander," he said, patting his lap. Rocky made it up there first, nosing his stomach. "What? Don't want to play?"
"She missed you," Richie said. "We walked in and she just inhabited Meth's lap for a while." He reached over, scratching above her tail. "Yeah, you were a good girl. It took us four hours to clean up after the kittens, but you were a very good girl," he cooed.
Willow looked over at him. "Will you talk to me like that?" He shook his head. "Thank you."
"Welcome." Richie stood up, heading for the outside. "Um, did you buy gardening stuff?"
"No," Xander said. "What happened to my garden? I saw the mess." He saw Fluffy go running to hide. "Never mind, I know what happened to it now." He looked down the hallway. "Was it fun?" She walked out, purring at him. "I guess so."
"She came in filthy when they got here," Willow said. "She had played in the sprinkler or the pool, not sure which, then went to play in the dirt."
"Eww." Xander picked her up, carrying her into the kitchen to help him. He made sure to wash his hands, making sure at least one person in there caught him at it so no one would complain, then pulled down plates, dishing up the food by separating each type of dish onto a few small plates. He loaded the bed/desk trays they had, bringing them out to the living room so everyone could pick out what they wanted. Which left him with the chicken parmesan, the caesar salad, and most of the mushrooms. "Guys, I'm not supposed to be eating most of this."
Oz sat up, looking down at the remaining plates. "Go ahead. Just give me some of the mushrooms." He held out his plate, smiling as all but three were put on it. "Thank you."
"Welcome." Xander sat down in front of Oz's feet, leaning against his legs as he watched Richie read the instructions and eat at the same time. "Are they in English?"
"English, Spanish, and German for some reason." He flipped it over. "And three different Oriental ones."
Methos held out a hand for the sheet, looking at it. "Taiwanese, Chinese, and Japanese." He handed it back. "Doesn't look that hard."
"Yeah it does," Xander said, glancing at the paper as it passed him by. "Looks very complicated."
"Not a tool and party guy?" Richie asked with a small, teasing smile.
"I can do some, but I'm not great at it. You?" He ate one of his mushrooms, savoring it.
Richie waited until the look of absolute bliss faded from the young man's face. "I race motorcycles and cars. I'm a pretty good mechanic now." He opened the box to look down inside. "I hope it has hardware, I don't think anyplace is still open." He smiled as Don came over to investigate, pushing his back foot into the food left on his plate. "Get your own." He put the kitten back down on the floor, starting to pull out the bags of parts. "Yup, hardware."
"This is a how many people job?" Methos asked, nibbling on some spicy wings, dipping them into the sauce Xander had poured for him, or at least he had claimed it.
"Looks like a two person mostly, one to do and one to hold, but when you're putting the parts together, it's going to be a three or four." He looked at the hardware. "At least most of it is replaceable or removable."
"So we can take it apart and move it, or if it breaks we can fix it?" Xander asked, munching through his salad.
"Basically." Richie looked over at his plate. "Hungry?"
"Lunch was whipped potatoes and fish."
"Ah." Richie finished off his food, bringing the parts to a clear space to start assembling them. "Xander, want to help? You can sit and hold."
Xander looked over his shoulder. "Were you going to help me tonight or tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow. That way we can maybe finish something." Oz looked at all the parts. "Yell when you need more help."
Xander brought his plate closer, holding the part he was handed. "Okay?"
"Yup, just keep it straight." Richie looked at the instructions, flipping the page over to get to the English ones, then picked up another piece to attach to it. "Just hold it still."
Methos turned to look at Oz. "You're sure they'll like to play with this hefty piece of wood?"
"Should. The end cap was almost empty of them. I've seen other cats playing with them. It's a climbing spot and a hiding spot all in one."
"And a napping one," Xander said, holding up one of the half-round fleece covered perches. "I'd like to nap on that."
"Yes, but will *they*?" Methos said, pointing at the cats, who were watching, both with mice hanging from their mouths.
"I hope so," Oz muttered. "For five hundred dollars, they had better."
Methos patted his face gently. "The best toys are always free."
Oz snorted. "I know."
Xander growled, getting out of the bed to stomp out, taking the squeaky newspaper from Don, heading back into the room and slamming the door as he threw it in a corner.
"Told ya so," Oz whispered, lifting up the covers. "We have to thank Willow for remaking the bed."
"Yup," Xander said as he slid in next to his lover's body, snuggling in. "Can I work you off?"
"As long as your heartrate doesn't rise," Oz reminded him. "Can't get you excited for a few more days."
"Hmm," Xander said, considering the relaxed body, reaching down to surround his lover, his head sliding under the covers.
Oz rolled onto his back, a big smile coming across his face as Xander went down on him. He watched the blanket lump as one smaller lump shifted over to tease Giles, giggling as the older- looking man jumped. "Sorry, he's feeling playful."
Xander lifted the blankets up so he could see his men's faces. "I'm being naughty." The blankets were dropped and he went back to what he had been doing.
Giles smiled at Oz, taking his hand to squeeze and kiss. "I'm glad he's feeling better."
"Me *TOO*," Oz said, his voice going up. "Xander!"
"Shh," drifted up from under the blankets. "I'm having fun."
Giles started to laugh, until the tongue did the same thing to him. "Xander!"
"What are you doing?" Giles pulled the blankets over his head, going down to get beside him.
Oz shook his head, pulling a free pillow over his face, shaking his head as the laughter started. "Yeah, it's good he's feeling better."
TO BE CONTINUED..