GHS 12: New Hobbies and Recuperation.

Xander leaned back against Oz's body, rubbing down the legs that were wrapped around his as they watched the tape for the sewing machine they had bought the day before. "Okay, so I stretch the fabric lightly as I run it through?"

"Yeah, that way when it stretches you don't get holes." Oz paused the tape. "Do you understand how she was holding it?" Xander nodded, turning his head to look up at him. "Just remember, your fingers don't go near the feet. Give the fabric some room to work, and let the machine do all the work. It'll pull the fabric for you, you're just holding it steady."

"I'm smoothing the wrinkles out and keeping tension?"

"Exactly," Oz said, rewarding him with a kiss. "Later we'll work on the project for Giles, when you're ready to begin."

"I learn much better from a hands-on approach," Xander offered.

"I know, think of the tape as lecture." He started it playing again, turning it off as Methos walked in with his loom. "Thanks."

"Richie did it, not I. He replaced the bolt that broke with a pin." He sat on the floor beside them, not paying attention to the pile of pillows Oz was sitting on. "What's this?"

"Instruction for the sewing machine," Oz said, restarting the tape. "We're going to try a small project today."

Methos shook his head, standing up. "I could never see how you could stand to do crafts all day. As a hobby certainly, but not as a profession."

"It's soothing," Xander told him, tugging on his pants. "Does that mean if I'm good, that I can't make you Christmas presents?"

"No, dear one, if you feel like showing off your skills by making me something I'll gladly accept it and wear it, as long as it's not something orange. Oz did that to me one year."

"Still stored?"

"Yes, it is. You would have thought that the sixties wouldn't have leached the fashion sense out of the world, but apparently it did." He headed for the kitchen. "Should I start lunch?"

"Just muchies and salad for us," Xander called.

"Want a ham sandwich," Oz said.


"I'm not on a diet," Oz reminded, tweaking his ear. "You can have half of one if you'd like."

"No, I promised to eat a salad so I will. With the nice low fat dressing we got me this morning, and with a few of the flour tortillas and some cheese, if that's okay."

"Yeah, that's fine," Oz said, kissing the back of his lover's head. "Very well balanced." He restarted the tape, fast forwarding through the next section on dealing with wools. "Don't think we'll need that anytime soon."

"Nope, not going back up to Vermont until the spring, right?"

"Sure, if you'd like we can take a vacation up there." Oz rubbed over Xander's shoulders, watching the tape for techniques he didn't know about. "When did they start doing that?" he asked, slowing down the action so he could watch it in greater detail. "That doesn't make a bit of sense. Using that sort of stitch won't let it stretch at all. All fabric has some give."

Xander patted his leg. "I'll learn it your way," he soothed. "I don't think we'll be working in leather anytime soon." He took the remote to fast forward. "Unless you want me to make more leather pants."

"No, I think two pairs is enough," Oz said with a smile for Methos as he carried out a tray for them. "Where's the animals?"

"Rocky is outside lounging in the sun with Rupert, Fluffy was helping me check my email, and Don was hiding somewhere." He looked at the kitten gym. "Don?" He walked over, checking the tunnel sections for the kitten. "Not in here." He grunted as something hit the top of his head, lifting down the dirty cat. "What were you into?" he asked, looking over the dirt-covered fur.

"The plant," Xander said, pointing. "He must have jumped." He glared at his kitten. "No plants. Either of you."

"We'll move the plant later," Oz soothed. "He won't ruin it."

"Why not move the gym, you said it's blocking the good light."

"Because that thing weighs a ton, almost literally," Methos said dryly, putting the cat down. "We should bathe you."

"Go right ahead," Oz and Xander said together, then Xander started on his salad, before an inquisitive nose could come help.

"Thank you, Meth," Xander said in between bites. "Really good." He put a piece of onion on the side of the plate. "All except those."

"They're good for you," Methos reminded him, walking past to catch Don and go dump him in the sink. "Come on," he said, getting down onto his knees to look under the couch, tempting the cat out with his fingers. "Come on, you little filthy beast. We have to bathe you."

"He's not a beast," Xander said, sending the old immortal a pout.

"All animals are beasts," Oz reminded him. "Some of them are just more beastly." He smiled as Xander groaned. "What?"

"Bad pun," Xander told him, turning his head to kiss the tempting chin. "Eat, love, so I can lean on you later while I start on that project."

"Sure," Oz said, waving his fingers at Don and Methos as they walked out of the room together. "Have fun."

"Definitely. One of us should need a tranquilizer by the end of it."

Oz paused the tape, listening for the outraged howl, laughing when he heard it. "Guess we know who's going to need the drugs."

Xander snuggled backwards, his meal finished. "Love you," he said softly, turning back on the tape.


Xander bounced nervously as Giles opened his present, looking worried as he bit his lip. Giles lifted out the double-sided vest, smiling at it. "You like it?"

"I do like it, Xander." He smiled at the inner velvet surface, a nice contrast to the more solid fabric of the outer surface. "It'll be warm and definitely soothing." He laid it across his lap to look at in greater detail. "Your very first project," he said proudly.

"Try it on," Xander said, helping him stand up. "I wasn't sure if it would fit or not, Oz said he made some adjustments for your chest but I'm not real sure."

Giles took off the vest he was wearing, putting the new one on. "I do like it." He tugged on the bottom, getting the arm holes out of his armpit. "Little tight around the arms but otherwise very nice."

Xander beamed at him, pouncing on him to hug. "Thank you." He ran back to their craft room, sliding in beside Oz's feet. "He liked it, but he said the armholes were too small."

"Okay." He made a note on the pad beside the sewing machine. "We'll fix that on the pattern later." Oz ran his fingers through Xander's hair. "This was a good idea, the program to help me plan patterns is very neat."

"Much easier than drawing them out." Xander laid his head on his lover's leg, closing his eyes. "I'm glad that he liked it."

"I'm sure he would have loved it, no matter what. Even if we had made it from neon purple polyester." Xander shuddered. "Sorry."

"S'okay." Xander looked up. "Can we start on a new pair of pants for me tomorrow?"

"We'll have to work with the pattern first, you said that the mock-up was hanging too low. We'll do that in the morning and then we'll start on it tomorrow night. We'll do both mock-ups' alterations at the same time."

Xander squeezed his eyes shut. "I have to work tomorrow."

"No you're not. I'm not letting you go to work. You don't need the stress." Oz pushed himself back from the computer, saving his design. "Xander, I know you feel the need to work, but not right now. We're still not sure if you're really fine." He saw the small pout so lifted the young man's face up again. "I'm sorry but even if your heart is okay, you still need the rest. No one would expect a normal person to go back to work a week after having a mild heart attack."

Xander nodded, resting his head on Oz's leg again. "I know, but I did good there. Last time I went, I helped a set of parents pick out jewelry for their child, who they were losing hold of."

"I understand that, but you have to take a few more weeks off." He ran his fingers through the dark hair, watching the patterns he created when the hair laid funny. "You need a haircut."

"Just a few hours? Just to keep my job?"

"We'll go in and talk to your boss tomorrow, how's that? He can't fire you for having a heart attack on the job. Unless he's going out of business."

"He may be, lots of his stuff is substandard."

"No," Oz said, seeing the thoughtful look. "You don't need to own a business in Sunnydale. Owning businesses for us is *really* complicated. Much more complicated than owning property."

"Okay. I was just going to save his business, maybe suggest he link up with a major chain."

"Huh. It's a good thought, you could possibly start asking subtle questions to figure out whether or not someone's offered and if he's amenable to an offer."

"More and more lawyerish every day," Xander teased, stealing another kiss. "What's this pattern for?"

"A small throw rug. Just something to get me back in the groove." Oz canceled his screen saver, looking at the pattern. "What do you think?"

"It's got a lot of red. Is it a present or are we going to have to find somewhere that it'll match here?"

"Hmm," Oz said, looking at it. "I was trained in the middle east to do weaving so I usually do their sort of patterns, and they use a lot of red, but you're right. Maybe blue, gray, and tan?"

"I think that'd be very pretty." He pointed out the little black stars. "Are you keeping those?"

"Yeah, why?"

"No reason, just wondering what they stood for."

"It's a dreamscape," Oz told him, pointing out the figures in the center. "They're on a quest to find something, traveling at night so the stars can guide them."

Xander nodded. "Wow." He looked up. "Very wow. I'm highly impressed." He stood up, stealing a kiss. "Oz, can we work on other things too?"


"Well, like curtains since Giles keeps complaining that ours don't let us have privacy."

"Sure, they have patterns for that stuff." Oz ran his fingers through his lover's hair, just enjoying himself. "If you get good enough, we could even start letting you make us all clothes."

Xander looked up at him. "Why are the mock-ups for your stuff so different?"

"Because I'm smaller."

Xander nodded. "Okay, I guess that makes sense. We should all try those things on, just to find problems like armholes."

"Well, the t-shirt one and your pants are both in the right size range and I cut them a size too large so we could make any adjustments we needed. The vest one will need some work, admittedly. But the others should be okay."

"Okay, so let's stay with those. They're easy and making a lot of them is really good practice; and they're things we both know I'll wear, or you and Giles will wear."

"Very good suggestion," Oz said, giving him a small kiss. "Want to help me string my loom?"

"Yeah." Xander stood up, letting Oz move the chair to the table where his loom was set up. "Are we doing the up and downs or the acrosses?"

"The up and downs. We'll weave it across." He picked up the color he wanted for his base, starting to wind it around the nails. "See, you have to keep it kinda tight but not really tight."

"Can you weave fabric and stuff?"

"I could, but I can't make the really delicate ones. Those take very fine threads and I don't like to work with them." He looked over, taking Xander's hand so he could help. "Like this," he said, winding around the opposite side's nail. "Then onto the other side so when we switch, the weaving thread will be trapped in between, alternating lines."

"Wow," Xander said softly, taking over the winding. "This is kinda cool." He looked up with a big grin. "I could like this."

"Me too," Oz said, kissing him for a second. "Oops." He lifted the thread off the nail, putting it around where it was supposed to have been going. "Watch what you're doing, Xander. Attention is a good thing in art."

Xander went back to what he was doing, his tongue sticking out as he wound around each of the nails. When he was done, he held up the loom, showing it off proudly. "Done?"

Oz looked then nodded. "Very well done." He hugged his lover, putting the loom down. "We'll start on the weaving tomorrow after we talk to your boss." He pulled the young man up into his lap, holding him close. "You scared me," he said softly. "I thought I was going to lose you much too soon." He got a gentle squeeze back as Xander turned to straddle his lap. "I really never want to be that worried about you again." He buried his head in his lover's neck. "You know, Methos at one time joked that I should buy an emirate and lock you into my castle. I wish I could do that."

"Me too," Xander said, kissing the shoulder his head was resting on. "I was so scared when I passed out, but I knew that it was my part of the spell that had done that to you because it took so much of my energy."

"Part of that was the casting but I felt you. The energy you sent was smooth and soft, sort of like you are to me. I knew you had done it because it was *so* much like you." They squeezed each other. "I knew it was you and I even told Methos I should yell at you. He told me to do it the next morning."

"I deserved it," Xander admitted, not looking at his lover. "I should have let him handle it, he's done it before."

"Yeah, but it wasn't working as well this time. It took what you did to heal me, Xander, and for that I'm thankful." He stroked over the marks on the man's back. "For these, I'm almost sorry. I feel selfish, like you deserve them and that I deserve to see them, but in some ways I'm really sorry. I never wanted you to be marred that way."

"I'm not, they'll go away," Xander said, pulling back to take off his shirt. "See, almost gone already."

"Yeah, but I'm guessing they won't totally be gone for a very long while." Oz traced over one of the lines with his index finger, focusing on the pattern it created. "I didn't want you to do it, but I needed you to, and for you giving yourself up like that I'm very thankful." He looked up. "But I never want you to do it again, Xander. Not even if it's the only way to save all our lives." He laid a finger over the opening mouth. "I know you don't want to go on without us, but believe me, I'd rather have you alive than know that I was the reason you died, especially if you died trying to save me. I've made Methos promise me, and Connor promise me, and now I'm asking you to promise me, love. Never die trying to save me. If it comes down to it, don't."

Xander shook his head, getting up. "I can't do that." He walked over to one of the windows, looking out at the backyard, watching Rocky play fetch with Giles. "Oz, if you're going to die, I can't just leave you. That's not love."

Oz got up, coming over to stand behind him, wrapping him in his arms. "It'll take strength, but I mean it. I don't want to live knowing that you died to save me."

"Oz, if you were in a burning car, I'd pull you out. If you were in a burning house, I'd run in after you without thinking, my body would react before I could stop it." He turned, hugging him. "Please don't make me make a promise I can't keep," he pleaded softly. "I can't keep that one and you know that."

"I know," Oz sighed, "but it was worth a try."

"Yeah, but this is love, it's worth dying for. All sorts of poets have said so."

Oz nipped Xander's neck, grinning. "Yeah, but they didn't know how I feel right now." Xander pulled back to look at him. "They understated it to such a degree, I don't think they ever knew what love really was."

Xander grinned, shyly putting his head down. "Enough to teach me things?"

"Enough to teach you everything I know and to learn from you," Oz told him, giving him a kiss. "Come on, let's work on the mock-ups for the t-shirts. I want to make love to you, but we can't, not yet."


Oz shook his head. "You promised me to follow doctor's orders this time, Xander," he said, turning to walk over to where the polyester templets lay on the long table that housed the sewing machines. "Come try this one." He waited until Xander had the blue polyester over his head to quip, "Be thankful you're not a woman, their clothes take much more work than ours."

Xander's head popped out, grimacing. "Yeah, I'd really not like to have to wear pantyhose daily." He pointed at the neckline. "Way too tight, I didn't think I was going to get my head in there."

"Hmm," Oz said, cutting the inside seam in a few places, taking little triangles out of it. "Better?"

Xander pulled it back over his head then back down. "Still a little tighter than I like. Maybe lowering it might help too."

"Smaller elastic?" Xander nodded. "Okay. How much lower?"

"Maybe an inch?"

Oz considered it. "The neckline'll look stretched out."

"But t-shirts are comfier then."

"Point." Oz grabbed his notepad, making a note on it. "Okay, how about the arm holes?"

Xander lifted his arms up, wincing as one of the seams ripped and the other cut into his armpit. "Much bigger." Xander pulled the shirt off his body, handing it back. "Why can't we take apart one of my t-shirts and use it? One of the ones we all like?"

"Could," Oz conceded. "But I like this process." He grinned, looking out from under his lashes. "This is half the fun of costuming to me. The tailoring it to fit each individual body." He ran a hand down the shirt the young man was wearing. "Which one did you want to cut up?"

"Um, this one would be okay. Or the one I got bleach on the other day."

"That was mine." He looked at the shirt his lover was wearing again. "Matter of fact, didn't you give me this shirt to replace the other one?" Xander shrugged, giving him an innocent look. "It was in the wash if I remember right."

"I wanted to be able to smell you all day," Xander said softly.

"Oh, babe." Oz pulled him in for a hug. "That's why I steal your shirts. You can wear mine anytime you want. Let's go get the one you spilled bleach on, I can tailor it so it's big enough for both you and Giles."

"Giles likes his tighter to show off his chest," Xander said, grinning again. "We should steal one of his and work it out too."

Oz nodded. "Sounds good to me." He headed for the door, pulling Xander with him. "Come on, let's go find shirts to cut up to make patterns."


They headed down the hall, checking to make sure Giles wasn't in the bedroom before going in to search through the t-shirt drawers. Oz came up with one first, showing it off. "This one? It's got a really bad stain."

"He loves that shirt."

Oz looked around the room. "He likes all of his clothes." He stopped as Giles walked in. "Can we steal one of your t-shirts so we can make you more?"

"No." Giles lay down on the bed, watching them. "I have enough shirts, boys. As do you both."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Not even one of the holy ones? T-shirts are a good learning tool for me to practice on."

"You have a pattern," Giles reminded him.

"Yeah, and it's got the same armhole problem as your vest, and a neck problem."

"We can fix those," Oz said, folding the shirt over his arm as he sat down beside his other lover, "but it still won't fit you like these will."

"I don't need more clothes. We have no place to store them anyway. Xander's clothes take up all but one closet, which we share."

"I'll get rid of some of my older clothes if I can get good enough. That way I always have fresh clothes."

Oz looked across Giles' body. "Why are you so grumpy today?"

"Because I feel like something's wrong and I'm not sure what it is."

Oz hugged him. "We're all fine now, you can relax."

Giles shook his head. "It's not that, it's something else that's amiss. Something outside of our family, but I'm not sure what."

"Hmm." Oz looked around. "Another immie friend of ours? Connor maybe? He's been having problems."

"No, none of them." Giles rolled onto his back, stealing the shirt Oz held. "Yes, dears, you can have this one to cut up. I'm sorry I'm so grouchy today." He smiled up at Xander. "How has your learning today went?"

"I strung Oz's loom," Xander said, coming over to lay on top of Giles' stretched out body. "Hi."

"Why do you do that?"

"Because it seems right to do. Like we haven't seen each other in a while, or something's different maybe."

"Ah." Giles hugged him. "Hello, Xander. How are you feeling?"

"The itchy marks are almost gone. Wanna see?"

"No, if I start to look at your body, I won't stop and then I'll be in trouble."

Oz shook his head, getting up. "Come on, want to help us?"

"No, I hate the fitting process. My tailor in London stuck me with enough pins the last time I was home." He smiled at Oz. "Or aren't you fitting like that?"

"Nope, we're going to cut up your shirt at the seams to make a pattern and a mock-up, then we're going to come make you try it on to see where we need to adjust it, then we'll work on getting you new t-shirts."

Giles smiled at him. "When you need me, come get me. Or better yet, bring the mock-up here for me to try on so I don't have to contort myself to get into the craft room. Why they made the door like that for a normal-sized room is beyond me."

Xander kissed him lightly before getting up, grabbing his own shirt for Oz to work with. "We'll be back soon, the mock-ups have less sewing, and we don't do the creative or special stitches on them." He blew a kiss as they walked out, heading back to their craft room.

Giles lay on the bed, looking up at the ceiling, trying to figure out what was wrong. What could possibly be wrong now?


Xander presented Giles with the mock-up of his shirt, watching as he put it on. "It fits!" he crowed, dancing around.

"It's a bit tight across the chest," Giles said, looking down. "And a little short."

Oz nodded from the doorway. "We can fix that, but remember, t-shirts will stretch around your chest, and may even make us jealous sometimes." The other immortal smiled at him for that. "Is it comfy otherwise? The neckline, the arms, everything else?"

"I wouldn't mind maybe half an inch more in the chest area," Giles said, taking it off easily. "But otherwise it felt fine. The arms were a bit loose, but it was comfortable."

"Ah, but with cotton, that'll feel a little different." Xander took the mock-up back, folding it carefully. "We'll make one to start and if it's too tight or loose, we'll adjust the pattern again, okay?"

"Yes, that would be excellent." Giles pulled him over for a kiss, gently probing him. "Thank you for the consideration. I don't think any other lover I've had has done anything about the state of my clothes except to complain."

Oz snorted. "We were going to slowly take away all your tweed and give you comfy clothes that we won't get burns from as we snuggle. We weren't going to tell you, but," he said as he walked into the room, "we were going to just sneak in one night and replace it all." Giles pulled him in for a kiss, still clutching Xander. Unfortunately, they were interrupted by the doorbell.

Xander walked out, frowning at the woman on the other side as he walked back to the bedroom. "Who called for psycho girl?"

"Buffy?" Oz said, looking at him in shock. Xander nodded so he went out to see what she wanted. "Yeah?"

"Isn't Giles here? His landlord said he moved..." She smiled as her former Watcher walked out, holding out her arms. "I'm better."

Xander hid behind Oz, looking her over. "How much better?"

"Tons better. They fixed me and my wrong thinking and everything."

Giles nodded. "I'm glad. Have you seen your mother yet?"

"Yes, and she said I had to come see you guys because apologizing is important." She looked at Xander. "I'm sorry, Xander, I really was out of my head when I tortured you."

"And kidnapped, and opened my surgical site, and almost killed me, but okay." He nodded, backing away from the door. "Whatever." He grabbed Rocky, holding her close to his chest. "Rocky, this is Buffy." She growled lightly. "No, she's not coming in. No more women in your space." He looked at her through his lashes, watching her reaction to that statement, then shook his head at the disgust. "Oz, shut the door. I don't need to be killed this time." He headed for the backyard, grabbing the leash on the way. "We're going to go play with the ball." He smiled as Don joined him, letting them both out. "You nap in the sun, babe, we're going to play." He grabbed the ball off one of the lounge chairs, heading out into the large backyard with the dog to work off some stress.

Giles waited until Xander was gone to look at his former charge again. "Buffy, you must accept the fact that we're together."

"Why? I mean, why not be more normal?" She shifted some. "I guess I still have some issues, but I'd like to try and get the group back together again." She gave him a hopeful look. "Please? Even the Council said that you guys were the reason I've been going so long."

Oz shook his head. "I'm going to go save his heart from the puppy." He headed out into the backyard, stopping the ball with his feet, kicking it for Rocky as he pulled Xander closer with the leash. "Come here. You can't run like that." He made the younger man look at him. "You really can't."

"I can," he said, sitting down to pet Rocky, who hadn't chased the ball. "I'm just not supposed to."

"Xander, we don't want to see you sick again," Oz said as he sat beside him, nudging him gently. "You promised to follow orders this time."

"And I would be if I hadn't had an instant flash of memory. Something about my allergy being kicked in on purpose." He flinched as he looked up and saw Buffy standing near them. "Out."

Oz nodded her back some but she didn't move. "Buffy, back up. He's just had a heart attack and he can't take the stress you're giving him."

She squatted down. "Why?"

"Because he was trying to save me," Oz said, standing up and pulling Xander with him. "Let the leash go," he said quietly. "We'll play with the puppy." Xander shook his head. "She won't run, we installed the invisible fence and everything. I promise, she won't run."

"She did this morning. Right out in front of a car." Xander looked down. "I don't want to lose her, she's kinda my guideline right now." He glared at Buffy. "What part of private conversation don't you get?"

"Listen," she said, standing up to look at them, "all I want to do is to apologize and then leave, okay?" She held out a hand, which no one touched. "I'm really sorry."

"So am I," Xander said, walking away from her. He looked down at Rocky, who was looking at her. "Oh, no, you're not going to go home with her."

"Mom's allergic to dogs anyway," she said. She looked down at the puppy. "You have the biggest eyes."

Xander gave Oz a 'help me here' look. "Buffy," Oz said gently. "She doesn't like strangers." Rocky went up to her, licking her hand. He looked at Xander. "Maybe you should trust her this time too."

"Maybe, but I'm not ready for that." He handed over the leash, heading into the house. He walked past Giles, going to lock himself in the craft room.

Giles walked out, going to take the leash. "Maybe you should go, try this again some other time. He really doesn't need the stress at the moment." She nodded, heading back around the house. "I had no idea," Giles said softly, "that he still carried so much pain about that event."

"Wouldn't you?" Oz asked, heading for where he could see Xander siting beside a window. He knocked on the craft room's door, bent over so he could get through the four foot door. "Xander," he called after a few minutes.

"Later, Oz, when I can think straight again," Xander called back. "I'm not going to touch anything."

"I know you won't, I was just going to offer a hug." He sat down in front of the door, letting Fluffy into his lap. "She's out here."


"No, Fluffy. Buffy went home."

"Where's Rocky?"

"In our room probably. That's where Giles headed."

Giles stuck his head out of their bedroom, nodding. "She's in here asleep on the bed. She's very tired."

"So am I," Xander said, unlocking the door. "But I'm tired of hiding from people. Why can't we just announce it and blow them off?"

"Because some people are like her," Oz reminded him. "If we do that then we automatically close doors in our faces."

Xander nodded, scooting out to rest his head in Oz's lap. "Thank you."

"No problem, but you're going to have to face her sometime."

"Not now?"

"No, not now. Maybe not even for a while." He looked over as Don and Rocky walked down to join them. "Even they know you're upset. Rocky was just trying to assess the threat."

Xander looked up at him. "Don't say things like that, Oz, she was interested. Same as Fluffy might as well be Meth's cat, she wanted to go home with Buffy."

"She's your dog, it's not going to happen."

"Then she'll be miserable."

"Babe, she's way too spoiled to be miserable." Oz stroked over the wrinkled forehead. "Are you ready to talk about those days now?"


Oz gave him a little smile and head shake. "Definite answer please, Xand."

"Not really. I have some things to think through before then." Xander rolled to his stomach, looking at the animals scattered around him. "I'm fine, guys, really."

Oz snorted. "If you were fine, you'd be making a pass right about now."

"Okay, so I'm semi-fine," Xander conceded. "But close enough to still be thinking about it."

"Doctor's orders," Oz said gently, getting up. "I'm going to start on my weaving project, want to watch?" Xander nodded so they scooted through the lowered doorway, settling in front of the windows. Oz threaded his shuttle with the background color. "I used to have this big loom, like the ones they used to do carpets on."


"Few hundred years back. We were in a small cabin, far from a town, so it was safe to have permanent things." Oz made the first pass, switching the top row afterwards. "Then some of the villagers about thirty miles away figured it out. They brought out the local Minister, who decided the house should be burned so I would move on because I was obviously some spirit that was hanging around. I ended up running in the middle of night because our closest neighbors warned me. Had to leave the loom though."

"Is the cabin still standing?"

"Not sure," Oz said softly, running another row. "Haven't been back there."

"Would you like to?"

"Maybe, I'm still not real sure about that. I'd like to see if it's still there, but it brings back bad memories. I was pretty lonely, all by myself for about sixty years or so." He put down the loom, hugging Xander. "I kinda miss the quiet and solitude, but I really wanted to be around people. Preferably someone that I didn't have to pretend around."

"Is this like a parable or something?"

Oz smiled, letting him go. "If you'd like it to be. Otherwise, it's just a story."

"She scared me, Oz, really scared me. I mean, she hit me and shocked me, and taunted me, but I guess the closest you could come to it would be for Meth to suddenly go nuts on you." Oz nodded, not picking back up his loom, just focusing on him. "It's almost like I had no frame of reference anymore, everything I knew was right was measured against her and what we've done together."

"Then she came out and hurt you." Xander nodded, shifting a little farther away. "Not going to happen, get back here."

Xander looked up in shock. "Huh?"

"You just moved away." He reached over, dragging Xander back those few inches. "There, much better." He thought for a few seconds. "Did Giles and I change?" The younger man shook his head. "Then not all of your frame of reference was gone."

"But what we had was kinda new and I wasn't trusting in it yet. It was still solidifying, like wet cement before it dries."

Oz smiled. "Are we that hard?"

"No, silly," he said with a small, playful shove, "you're my solid foundation now. The thing that I measure everything against." He stopped, looking out the window. "I just realized it solidified while she had me." He glanced at his lover. "We might not be this close if she and Willow hadn't taken me hostage back then."

"We would be, it'd just have taken us longer. And Giles might still be pre-immie, and we wouldn't have our binding so we can't lose each other." Oz took his hand. "It was a bad thing, but it was a turning point, Xander. Not going to lie to you and say that it wasn't harmful, to you and us, but I will say that we're better now because of her."

Xander nodded, leaning into the touches he was getting. "Yeah, I guess. I might even thank her for it but I'm not ready yet."

"Then don't be ready. You've got time."

"She might not."

"Point, but still." Oz rubbed over the smooth flesh he held, gently soothing his lover back into his calm state. "I'm pretty sure when you're ready she's going to be there."

"She is pre-immie, isn't she?" he asked dryly. Oz nodded. "You didn't tell me why?"

"Would you have?"

"No," he admitted. "But still."

"I've called a female immie I know to come out and tell her. Actually, I called her to see if I was right. Connor couldn't tell and he usually can. Meth couldn't tell and he usually can. Maybe I was picking up on the whole Slayer thing."

Xander shrugged. "Can I be selfish and say I hope not?"

"No, but you can say that you hope not because you don't want her to have to live the life she's been living for the rest of eternity."

"Yeah, nobody deserves that, not even her." Xander leaned over, putting his head against Oz's. "Maybe I'll go find her tomorrow, after I talk to my boss, and forgive her."

"We," Oz reminded him.

"We," Xander agreed. He looked toward the door, where Rocky was standing. "You're not going with her, no way."

"She just saw another injured spirit," Oz said calmly. "She won't leave. All her toys are here."

"Good point," Giles said as he walked in the room, looking around at all the imported things. "My, you've certainly decorated this one usefully." He sat down beside but between them, hugging each of his men. "I just got off the phone with her mother, asking her to smooth things over a bit until Xander's ready to apologize. She didn't even know what had happened, she thought it was over when you had her arrested for breaking in and throwing the party."

Xander shook his head. "No, but I think that was the start of all this." He looked around the room, accepting all the changes that had happened in his life recently. "I'll go forgive her in the morning."

"Thank you," Giles said, kissing his temple. "I really can't leave her to do the job alone." He stood up. "This is rather roomy."

"Yup, it's just the door that's tiny," Xander said, tugging on his pants leg. "But we still like to sit on the floor in here." He looked at Oz. "We should make pillows."

"A very good beginning exercise," Oz said with a head shake. "We'll work on it soon. Let's just stick to one project at a time. No forecasting major things like a roomful of pillows and drapes."

"No, let him do the drapes," Giles said. "We could use some, we have no privacy or coverage from the neighbors."

"Giles, the houses on both side are empty and you can't see the living room from the road. We have plenty of privacy."

Xander looked up and grinned at his men. "I feel like a pirate in the middle of his treasure."

Oz shook his head, picking back up his loom. "You are, babe, really. This is all your treasure and we're your helpless captive crew."

Xander's smile got broader. "Exactly." He hugged and kissed each of his men before going over to his work table to cut out the first pattern for Giles' t-shirt. "Give me an hour or so, this doesn't take that long."

"Remember to make it longer and a little bigger around the chest," Oz reminded. "Bluebeard."

Xander laughed, sitting down in his chair. "I will."

Giles shook his head, walking out of the room. "I'll leave you both to your crafting, I'm going to go read with the animals."

Xander looked over his shoulder. "Shouldn't Rocky have a gym since the kittens have one?"

"No, we don't have a place for it. And dogs don't climb." Oz shook his head. "Work on your project, Xander, or no cuddles tonight."

The younger man bent back down, cutting carefully with the little pizza cutter-looking roller Oz had insisted he learn how to use, tongue being bit as he carefully followed the lines of the mock- up.