Asking For Help.
Henrietta opened the door and looked at the young man on the other side, wondering how he had found the house when no one else ever seemed to be able to. "Yes?"
"I was told to come here and see someone about a book," he said quietly, stepping inside. "Is there an Oz here?"
"Just a moment, he's working on a program." She shut the door, frowning at the kitten who had just run out. "At least she's safe here," she muttered as she walked into the office. "Hey, Oz, you've got a visitor," she said from the doorway.
He saved his program and looked up. "Visitor? Someone actually found the house?"
Henrietta smiled. "Yes, he did something not even the pizza guy could do. Said something about a book. Nice young man."
Oz nodded and grabbed a bag that had been sitting in his bottom desk drawer, taking it out to the front sitting room, where the young man had sat down after going out to retrieve the errant kitten. "Hi," he said, sitting down next to him. "I'm Oz."
They shook hands. "Philip Callaghan." He looked down at the bag. "A friend o'mine said I was to come see you about a book."
"We'll not quite a book. See, a very long time ago, I was given this and told that someone who wasn't looking for it would come for it." He handed over the bag. "And then the picture of it started to show up when you and Marcus got to the resort."
Philip opened the bag and peered down inside, pulling out the small silver cup, then stared at Oz in shock. "When were you given this?"
"Um, about fourteen hundred years ago," Oz said with a shrug. He stood up. "But it's yours if it likes you. I don't know why someone gave it to me in the first place. That knight was very creepy. Kept going on about it being the Chalice of Healing, that the blood it held would heal all the sick, as long as they weren't sick in the head."
Philip shook himself. "You were probably the best camouflage available," he said quietly, staring up at him. "You're really that old?"
"And a few years more," Oz said dryly. "Some of us are like that." He pointed at the cup. "It's yours if you want it," he told the young man.
Philip stood up, cradling the cup to his chest. "Did this...knight give you anything else?"
"Oh, yeah." Oz nodded back toward the library, smiling when he saw him stop to look at a few titles. "One of my lovers studies the paranormal." He searched and brought down a book, bringing that back over to him too. "Here, this was the rest of what he gave me, besides the creepy 'he who isn't looking for it will find it with you' prophecy."
Xander stuck his head in. "Hi, Oz. I'm going to go do laps, want to come sit out there with me and work beside the pool?"
"In a few," he said, waving Xander inside. "This is one of my lovers. Xander, this is Philip Callaghan, he's come for that cup in the picture that kept showing up."
"Cool." They shook hands. "Rocky and her pups are all snuggly again and I'm going to go swim. Have fun with the cup and all." He grinned and jogged off, going to do something enjoyable.
Oz nearly smirked at the shocked look, but he held it in, barely. "Xander can be a bit stunning some days," he advised, walking out of the library to go gather up his computer so he could work outside. He watched as the young man left, still looking stunned, and felt kinda sorry for him. After all, it wasn't every day that you had a precious artifact dumped into your hands by someone who really didn't want it in the first place. He carried his backup laptop outside and sat down to work on it, keeping an eye on Xander as he did laps, and on George, who was watching from the other side of the pool.
Oz looked up as Xander crawled across him, tossing his book aside and grabbing the trim body, rolling Xander under him. "Hi," he said, licking across Xander's lips. "How was your day?" He stole a kiss, deepening it as soon as Xander opened his mouth. "You didn't have any plans tonight, right?" he asked when he pulled back to breath, using a free hand to strip himself.
Xander giggled and wiggled around until he was sitting on Oz's back, helping him strip. "Nope, not a one," he admitted. "Not a plan in sight. Well, except to maybe try out some of my new toys." Oz snorted and Xander leaned down to lick across his now-naked shoulderblades. "And I was thinking about letting you try them first," he whispered, kissing the bump that marked Oz's spinal cord. "But I haven't decided if you get to play with them first or if I do," he purred.
"You do," Oz groaned, arching up to the gentle, feather-light touches he was receiving. "More?"
"Of course," Xander said, leaning down to kiss him on the spine again. He continued to stroke across the warm flesh, his fingertips barely brushing across Oz's back. He scooted back, moving his fingers down to stroke across Oz's lower back. During a pass, he suddenly hardened his touch, rubbing firmly into the hard muscles.
Oz groaned beneath him, wiggling to get the magic fingers over to the sides, and Xander went with it, stroking and kneading the well-used muscles. He moaned, relaxing just a little more, forcing his body to spread out a little farther on the bed. He groaned as the phone rang but reached out to answer it. "Do you know you're dead," he moaned into it. He waved Xander's hands off him and sat up, frowning. "Sorry, you were interrupting a killer backrub from my lover. Sure, I can get Ray. No, no problem at all, sir." He glared at Xander, who had climbed off the bed and was padding out into the hall naked. Within a minute, Ray came running into the room and Oz handed over the phone, getting out of his way. "Your potential boss," he said as he climbed off the bed.
Ray smiled at them, pointing at Oz. "You might want to do something about that, like oil," he suggested, smirking at the red marks on Oz's back. "Hi, this is Ray. Yes, sir, oh, no, sir, they were in the middle of a backrub." He snickered. "Yes, sir, I'll tell him that. What? Thank you, sir. Of course I can be there tomorrow. Sure, one's fine for me. Gives me plenty of time to worry about my clothes." He snorted. "Of course. One at your office." He hung up and looked at Xander, who was leaning on one of the canopy supports and peering at him. "I have an interview tomorrow at one here in town." He hopped up and hugged them both then jogged out to go tell Methos.
"I'm buying you a stake," floated down the hall a few moments later, then the sound of wet kisses.
Oz shrugged as he looked at Xander. "Go get some oil and finish me off?"
Xander grinned. "Yup, that's what I had planned," he said, pouncing on his mate and forcing him back onto the bed during the kiss. "Finishing you off is everything I had in mind."
Xander looked up as Ray walked into the house, giving him an expectant look from the kitchen. "Well?" he asked, bringing a plate of snacks out for them to share at the table.
"I got it," Ray said, smiling. "And the guy actually asked me if I knew about strange stuff. So I told him I was staying with you until we could find a house. And they *do* have a domestic partnership arrangement going on." He picked up a topped cracker to nibble on. "What is that?" he asked in disgust.
"That's the smelly cheese that Oz likes," Xander said dryly. "I was bringing him a few snacks while I munched." He smiled at Oz as he peeked his head around the doorway. "Ray got a job here in town."
"Cool." Oz walked in and took the cracker Ray had put down, stuffing it into his mouth. "Cheese is still good," he noted as he looked down at the plate, stealing the ones Xander had obviously made for him, which was most of the plate. "Thanks, babe. I just got the new program finished. Your extra harddrive is now holding it securely for my publisher." He took Xander's glass of water with him when he left to go make a call and tell them it was done.
Xander shook his head at Ray's rolled eyes. "It's good that it's done, that means he can pay more attention to me again."
Ray laughed. "True. Is Meth back yet?"
"Yup. He's reading out by the pool." Xander pushed over the plate. "Here, take these, tell him you stole them from my culinary genius." He got up and walked back into the kitchen to remake his snack.
Ray walked out onto the patio, smiling at his lover, who was engrossed in his book. "I got good news," he sighed as he sank down into Methos' lap.
"What?" Methos mumbled, not pulling himself away from the book.
Ray took the book and tossed it at the chair next to them. "We can find a house now."
Methos smiled and gave him a hug, subtly reaching for his book. "Congratulations," he praised. "Where did we get a job?"
"Here. And they do have an insurance plan for us." He looked up into the deep eyes, seeing the good humor in them. "I start tomorrow."
"Then it's a good thing that my anniversary present for you cleared last night," he said, giving Ray a hug as he pulled up the book, including him in the reading. "Did you want to read with me?"
"Yup. For now. Then we can go get my present."
"Or you could take Xander to get your present, he felt the need to get you one too."
"Really? Why?" Ray nipped Methos on the neck and stole his book again.
"Really, Ray, you've only been in Sunnydale for a few months and already you're biting people on the neck?" He took his book back. "Ray, please, this is priceless and it's on loan."
"And one night is too long?" Ray pouted.
"No, love, but I won't be able to read for a few days because I'll be worried about you patrolling in this wretched town."
"Hey!" floated out of the window.
"I won't have to pay attention to any of the strange stuff that happens, my boss forbid it. Unless I actually see someone going after someone with a sword or an axe or somethin', I'm not to get involved into the strange stuff. He actually counted knowing Xander and Oz against me because he thought I might want to get involved with what they do."
Methos gave him a hug and took his book back. "Let me read for another hour and we'll go pick up your present and cuddle, Ray," he promised. "And I'm still buying you a stake and some Holy Water."
"Okay," Ray said, grinning. He would get his own way yet, he just had to finish training Methos to put him first, *before* the books.
Oz looked at the packages Ray was carrying into the house and shook his head. "We keep them unloaded in here," he said quietly, staring into Ray's eyes. "Got it?"
Ray nodded. "Definitely. Even my old service revolver is kept unloaded, Oz." He knew what Xander had been through the last time a loaded gun had been in the house, and the pain Oz had went through trying to get Xander back. This time, no one would be forced to shoot anyone so their immortal lovers could win. He knew his part of this argument. "They're going up in my closet." He looked down at the smaller box. "Xander gave me that one if you wanted to see it."
"*Xander* gave you a gun?" Oz asked. Xander had been scared of them ever since he had shot someone to stop the fighting in their old house. He looked inside the box and whistled. "It's a pretty gun," he admitted.
"That was while he was going insane with the presents phase of the shopping trip," Methos told him, steering Ray up to their room. "We'll go put these up where no one can find them." Oz nodded, watching them go.
Xander padded over to the door and stuck his head in, being careful not to drip on the rug this time. "Did he like it?"
"He liked it a lot," Oz said, walking over to steal a kiss. "Why did you get him a gun?"
"Because he doesn't wear jewelry," Xander sighed, pulling his husband out to sit with him. "I wanted to get him something nice, but he doesn't wear jewelry and he doesn't really do clothes like you and I do."
"You do," Oz corrected. "As long as I'm covered so I don't burn in the sunlight, I don't really care what I wear."
"Okay, that I do. So I figured this was the only way I could get him something pretty and nice."
"Which was a very cool idea," Oz noted, giving him a hug. "You won't have to see them, Xander, I promise."
"Okay. As long as they're not loaded and I don't have to directly see them. I never minded it when I saw Ray wearing his back in Chicago."
"He'll take it off as soon as he walks in," Methos promised from the doorway. He got a nod from Oz so walked out. "Xander, I know how much guns bother you now, and we both appreciate what you bought him, but he didn't need a present from you to continue to like you."
"It was more like a friendship bracelet," Ray said as he walked out. "Right, Xan?"
"Right," Xander said, smiling at him. "But you don't wear jewelry."
"It gets caught on stuff when you're chasin' someone down," Ray said with a shrug as he flopped down beside them. "Actually, I'll probably end up putting that one in a locked case on a wall or somethin' and showin' it off. It's not really carryin' quality."
"I know," Xander said, giving him a faint grin. "But it was pretty and kinda useful."
"Very," Ray agreed. "So, now all we need to do is to find a house."
"Or at least a condo," Methos told him, sitting on the end of his chair. "Any ideas where you want to look since you and Xander have trotted all over town recently?"
"I've seen a few nice neighborhoods," Ray admitted. "I was going to have Xander help me sort out which ones I wanted to go looking in and then go talk to the realtor in town with you."
"Ah." Methos nodded. "All right. When you're ready for my opinion, ask."
Ray frowned at him. "I'd like it right now but you haven't been out in the town hardly at all."
"Yes, but it's been safer for me not to venture out too much. There's been a number of immortals who have ridden through this town in recent years."
"Good point," Oz said quietly, "but only one's been insane and only two others have challenged me." Xander got up and walked inside, closing the door behind him.
"He still doesn't want you to fight, does he?" Ray asked quietly.
"No, he still hates the game." Oz got up but Methos put a hand on his arm.
"Let him think, Oz, he'll come back out when he's ready. It's hard to think that your lover may die by some stranger's hand just because he was playing a damned game."
"True," Oz agreed, relaxing again. "That's not all this is though, Meth. Really, it's not." He was released and got up, heading back into the house to try and find his husband. "Hey," he said, stopping in the animal's playroom, watching Xander pet the new puppies. "Rocky's not barking?"
"She's napping," Xander said quietly, not looking up. "Oz, why do they keep coming after you? Is it about age?"
"It's not all about that," Oz said as he walked in and sat next to Xander, letting the unfamiliar black and white cat slide into his lap. "Which one are you?"
"That's the one that led us up to the house," Xander said, glancing down at her. "Back again?" She headbutted Oz for pets and meowed up at him. "Okay." He looked over at Oz. "It's not about reps?"
"Not all of it. Some immies do search out people who have certain types of reps. McCleod, back when he was living and sane, only went after the bad guys. Richie's following in his footsteps now I think. The only one of us that ever has to really worry about our reps is Meth. Everyone wants him because of how old he is."
"So, if Theo was well known and you were still going by him, then someone would be coming after you?"
"Yup." Oz reached over to make Xander look at him instead of the puppies he was stroking over "Listen, those people are why I stay out of the game. I don't like to fight and it shows. I never practice anymore. *You* get in more sword fights a year than I do." His husband almost smiled at that. "Almost no one knows who I am, Xander, and no one comes looking for me. I only ever get challenged when I'm out in public somewhere and someone feels me." He leaned in for a kiss, yelping when he was scratched for it. "Hey, be nice," he told the cat. He saw Xander smiling and grinned back. "Are we better now?"
"Can we just stun all the ones who come up here?"
"That wouldn't be very fair."
"Hey, Jace told me that there's an immortal that inhabits a haunted wood over in Scotland. She keeps everyone away with that. Why can't you keep people away with magic?"
"Because it's not fair and it would keep away our friends," Oz reminded him gently. "Not all immies are bad and out for my head, Xander, I promise you." He stole another kiss. "All better now?"
"No," Xander said, going back to staring at the puppies. "Remember when I had to listen to all those people and demon's offers?" He saw Oz nod out of the corner of his eye. "Well, there was an immie who charged into the office and tried to challenge me."
Oz slowly blew out a breath. "I wondered when you were going to tell me about that." Xander glanced at him. "Richie told me he claimed you as a student. Which I thanked him for. Are you okay?"
"Do I feel like one?"
"No, you feel like a pre-immie to me. A pretty strong one, but still just a pre-immie." He nudged Xander. "Is that why you went all 'warrior stud' on me there for a while?" Xander nodded. "You know you don't have to, right?" Xander nodded again. "Okay, just as long as you know that." He stood up and held out a hand. "Come on, let's go car looking. We missed our appointment the other day."
"Okay," Xander sighed, standing up and brushing his butt off. He waved down at the puppies. "You guys be good while we're gone." He let Oz lead him out of the room and up the stairs to get dressed.
Xander looked around the offerings of the car lot, giving a hesitant smile at the salesman walking over to them. "We're sorry we missed our appointment," he said, holding out his hand to be shaken. "Our first puppy went into labor and she needed a c-section."
"Well, I guess we can do this now. We're not that busy today." He took the pictures Oz handed him, and handed back the one of the car that had recently been blown up. "I saw that one on the news."
"Oops," Oz said, stuffing it into his back pocket. "Can we do this now? Like Xander said, we've been a little busy with the puppies and the mommy needing medical attention."
"Sure." He nodded back towards the office. "Want to get into the air conditioning?" They both nodded and followed him back, taking seats on the near side of the desk. "Okay, are you sure you want to trade in all your cars?"
Xander took Oz's hand and squeezed it. "We can't cuddle in our cars. We used to have a nice Lexus we could cuddle in but then I was stupid and went for what we have now." He grinned at his lover. "I miss cuddling."
"Ah." The salesman stared at the cars, not wanting to see the look Xander was giving to his husband, or if there was any in return. He didn't mind gay couples, but he really didn't want to watch them eye each other. He cleared his throat after a few seconds and then looked up. "All right, I think I can give you some fairly good trade-in value for these three. Do you know what you want to buy?"
"We each need a car," Oz noted. "And I wouldn't mind if Xander gets another sports car, it just has to be a good one with decent safety features. He tends to drive a little fast sometimes."
"Not to mention having people who try to play bumper cars on the highway," Xander said, rolling his eyes at the worried look everyone sent him. "I was in the middle of a high speed chase area the other day, guys. It's okay, it was only the cop."
"Were you pulled over?"
"Yeah, but the guy decided to weave in and out among us that were pulled over. So there's now a scratch on the fender that I've since covered up," Xander told the salesman.
"All right. I'll look at it and if it's that bad, I'll have to reduce the trade-in value."
Oz looked at him. "Do you really think that matters to us?" he asked quietly.
The man smiled. "No, I didn't figure it did, but I had to mention it. It's the law you know." He stood up. "Which car did you bring with you today?"
"The backup sedan," Oz said, standing and pulling Xander up with him. "We parked it just outside the lot."
"Let's go look at it then and we'll start from there. Have you seen anything on the lot that you like?" he asked as they walked back out into the heat.
"Well, I keep seeing these purple SUV's," Xander said.
Oz shook his head. "No."
"But they're cute."
"But, Oz," Xander begged.
"No. That's very faddish and you'll want to trade in a few weeks. We need cars we want to keep for years."
"Is that why you're keeping the van?"
Oz stopped their walking and made Xander looked at him. "I love my van, Xander. I love that you loved me enough to get it for me, even though you didn't know how much it would mean to me. But if you want me to give it up, I will."
Xander gave him a hug. "Nope, I want you to keep it. I think you're very cute driving it. All you need are the funny colored sunglasses." He pulled back with a grin. "What about your old van?"
"That we might be able to sell," Oz admitted, getting free and leading Xander out to where their car was parked. "Sorry, we were talking about the vehicles I own besides ours."
"Ah. Were you wanting to put one of those in here?"
"He's not sure," Xander said. "See, he has a van from his high school days, from back when he was in a band, and ...."
"Ah, sentimental value. You might try putting an ad in the paper for young musicians. Or start going to concerts and listening to people to see if they need a van," the car salesman suggested. "That way, it stays with your music." Old vans really didn't sell that well and usually needed more work than they were worth anyway. Besides, it made Oz happy. And he was one odd man, so the salesman didn't want to be on his bad side. Anyone who could come back to life after being shot a few times was not the person he wanted to piss off. But things like that happened in Sunnydale. "Well, I'd say I can give you a good amount on this one. Say, six thousand?" he asked, looking at them.
Xander, who had been resting his head on Oz's shoulder nodded. "Okay. We'll have to clean it out, but yeah, that's great actually."
"All right then. As for the sports car, I think I can give you about the same, but I'll need to see the scratch on the front that you've fixed," he said, walking back into the lot. "And I can come up tonight and pick them up?"
"Sure," Xander offered, looking up at Oz, who nodded. "That means we need two cars today to replace them."
"Yes, you will," he said with a smile, waving a hand around. "Why don't you go look at these, and I'll be over in the shade." He walked away, knowing they were going to be buying something. High pressure pitches weren't necessary with people who needed to get a new car, they would always buy something, and he had the best selection in town. He sat on the shaded steps, just close enough to feel the air conditioning if he opened the office door a few inches, and watched the two men wander around his lot.
Xander stopped in front of an SUV and looked at Oz, but got a headshake. "But it'll hold all the cats," he pointed out.
"Which we can do in the van," Oz reminded him. "Which is why we rented one for Europe." He pointed at a nearby sedan. "We don't need something that big, let's go look at the practical cars." He led Xander over to the more practical cars, looking at the interiors first. He didn't really care what they were driving as long as it ran and it was comfortable to drive. He could let Xander pick out the outsides of the cars.
"Oh, how about this one?" Xander asked, pointing to a car in the next row. He walked back to it and looked inside. "It's got an okay interior," he told Oz.
"It's an economy car, are you sure you want to go that route?" Oz asked.
"I'm not sure yet," Xander admitted, "but I like the car."
"Okay, we'll look in that size and see if there's something you like more," Oz said, leading him over to where the more compact sports cars were. "I know you wanted one."
"Oh, that one," Xander said, pointing to a jade green sports car. "I like that one." He jogged over to it and opened the door, sitting down inside it. "It's a cradler," he called out.
Oz walked over and looked at the inside. It was a nice sports car, but not something they could cuddle in. "Now, we won't get to have sex in this one," Oz warned.
Xander grinned up at him and got out, pointing at the seat. "Sit."
Oz sat down and sighed, wiggling to get deeper into the seat. "Oh, I like this one," he noted, gripping the wheel. "Okay, we'll mark this one a definite and we'll get a car we can cuddle in." He got out and closed the door, noting the car's position before leading Xander back to the sedans. Soon, he found one he liked, even though it was a little old fashioned. He slid in and nodded to himself, bringing Xander over.
"Oz, it's a Caddy," Xander pointed out.
"Only pimps and grandpas drive Caddys," Xander complained.
Oz pulled his husband down onto his lap and pointed around the interior. "Rich people drive Caddys."
"Nope," Xander said, shaking his head. "Rich people drive more expensive, but understated cars." Oz frowned. "Really, trust me, I like this car, but it's not us. Can you imagine driving this in a few months?"
"Well, no," Oz admitted. "But it's a nice car."
"And it should go to a nice older couple. Maybe in a few years we'll get a Cadillac." He got up and tugged Oz up with him. "I think I found something in the sedan range, and it's definitely a higher end car." He hauled Oz over to where he had been looking, pointing out the slightly beaten up car he had been looking at.
"It's a Saturn," Oz said, looking it over. "Needs a coat of paint and a little body work." He looked back at Xander. "Why this one?"
"I don't know, it looks like one of our strays."
The salesman was hurrying over so Oz waited before saying anything. "You might not want that one," he said as he stopped next to them. "We've had six people try to buy it and bring it back the next day. They're all saying it's cursed."
"Oh." Oz looked at Xander, who shrugged. "We might send our other lover down here to look at it," he told the salesman, glancing around. "He tends to know about such things."
The salesman smiled. "Of course. Whenever he gets back." Like he knew before, strange things happened in Sunnydale, and these two were usually in the middle of it or knew about it. "If you're looking for a good sedan, we've just got something in that's not our usual fare. I could show you that one. I've been using it for my personal car the last few days and it's a dream." He led the way back toward the office, pointing at a car sitting under a metal awning. "Try that one. It's very understated, and it could probably use an upgrade in features, but it's a very good car."
Oz walked over to it, but he knew he didn't like it that much. "Xander?"
"Well, it's nice," he tried. "But it's a little old and stuff for us." Xander cheered when he saw the car parked behind the trailer that was the office, jogging over to look at it. "Oz, come see," he called, pointing. "It's just so us."
Oz looked at the inside of the car, whistling. "Very fly car," he agreed, trying the door. "But I think this one may not be for sale." He looked around, then whistled for the salesman, who came running. "Hey, is this one for sale?"
"It might be," he said with a smile. "I thought you boys might like something closer to that end of the spectrum for a sedan. This actually belongs to someone who's thinking of selling their car. They're planning on asking about twelve grand or so for it."
Oz looked at the inside again. "Can we get in and check it out?"
"Sure." The salesman pulled out a key and opened the door, letting them inside. "How does it feel?"
"Very soft and comfy," Xander said, he was getting first check of it. "And I like the bench seat option. How did they find one to fit?"
"It was a custom choice," the salesman told him. "This person had to search for a bench seat, they wanted to cuddle in the car too."
Oz pulled the salesman a few feet away and looked at him. "Did the former owner of this car sell drugs or people?"
The salesman shrugged. "I never asked, but I think the second might have been a little applicable. Why?"
"Because I didn't want it to become confiscated by some confused cop." He walked back over and leaned down to say something to Xander, who pouted. "As long as you know," he told his lover.
"Oz, this car has *everything* I could ever want. Including a link to the web from the backseat."
"Hmm." Oz got in and looked at the built-in monitor and the plug for the modem. "Well, it does at that. Is it bulletproof?"
"Very," the salesman said, smiling hopefully at them. "The owner insists that he's going straight now, that he's found a woman he really likes."
"Okay, let's look at the trunk," Oz said, sliding out. "Is the seat comfy to drive on?" he asked Xander, who sat him down on it. "Not bad," he noted, patting it. "Little firm." He got out with a groan. "Oh, never mind." He leaned against the side of the car.
"It does take some getting used to," the salesman said carefully, popping the trunk. He looked down and then closed it quickly. "I don't think you two want this car after all," he said, waving back toward the trailer. "Why don't you go talk in the shade while I make a phone call." He jogged into the trailer and closed the door.
Oz looked at the car, then at Xander. "We can have one customized if you can find a body that you like," he said finally. "I think it'd be a good idea for me to have one anyway."
"Okay." Xander pointed at a smaller sedan, walking them over to it by the simple expedient of grabbing Oz's hand to hold. "How about this one?"
Oz got in to the driver's seat and wiggled. "It's a little small," he noted, climbing back out and closing the door. He pointed at the sedan he had tried a few minutes earlier. "Go close that for me, Xan and let me check things out for a few secs." Xander jogged off and Oz watched as a police cruiser pulled into the lot. He walked around the other sedans, imagining them custom fitted like that other one was, then stopped beside an newer model Saturn. He climbed into it, then into the back and stretched out. "This one is a little cramped," he told the salesman when he walked over. "We liked that one, and how it was customized."
"That's what your mate said," he said with a sigh. "We can't do work like that here, Mr. Osbourne."
"No, but we can buy the car here and have it customized," Oz pointed out as he climbed out. "I really liked how the back of that one was done. Do you have anything else here that might be able to be worked that way? I need a good sized backseat." He snorted at the shocked look. "For when I'm in the mood to work on a new program and Xander's shopping. Not for what you think, we do that in the front seat." He pointed at the little jade sports car. "And we liked that one we think."
The salesman brightened up. "That is an excellent car. I got two speeding tickets in it in under a day so my wife said I had to quit bringing it home," he confided with a smile. "And such sinful seats."
"Which is always a good," Xander noted as he came over. "This one?"
"Has too small of a backseat if we want to customize it like that one," Oz told him. "How about it? Got any bigger cars that aren't Cadillacs, since Xander doesn't like them."
The salesman looked at Xander, then back at Oz. "Which is surprising if you're going for spaciousness. Cadillacs are the most roomy."
"But they're *old* people cars," Xander sighed. "I don't want to drive an old person or a pimp car."
"All right," the salesman said, hiding his smile. "I think I have something that may be nearly as roomy. It's also not your usual fare, but it might be nice enough," he said, leading them back to the small service department next to the trailer. "This is one we just recently got in. It's for sale at the police auctions next week."
"Oh, forgot about those," Xander told Oz. "Can we go again, just to look?"
"Sure," Oz said, distracted because he was looking at the car. "Will they sell it early?"
"Sure. I was told that if I could find a buyer, I could sell it at the higher rate. After all, auctioned cars tend to go for very little money." He walked in and opened the door. "We were repainting it and pulling out a dent in the side, so whatever color you'd like would be fine with us."
Xander walked in and looked at the enormous back seat. "What sort of car is this?"
"Well, it started out as a Benz, but it was customized a bit. Whomever first had this, and we got it from the second owner, had the carriage expanded a bit for the extra room."
"Looks like some rapper bought it and then went bankrupt," Oz said, sitting down on the zebra- striped fuzzy back seat. "We'll have to change this pattern."
"Plaid?" Xander suggested slyly.
"I like plaid," Oz sighed. This was a long term teasing argument. "We're not covering the backseat in plaid though. How about a nice, neutral blue?"
"Depends on what color the car becomes," Xander pointed out.
"How about a nice, dark gray?" the salesman suggested, pointing at where part of the car was painted already.
"That works for me," Xander said with a shrug, sitting down on Oz's lap to feel the fabric. "That does feel weird," he agreed, kissing Oz on the cheek. "Do you like this one?"
"I'd like to hear how it runs and feel the front seat," Oz told him. "Then we'll decide." Xander got out and held out a hand to help him out, which he took. He got into the front seat and was handed the keys, so started it. He adjusted the seat up for himself then took off his jacket and put it under him. "I'm going to need a cushion," he noted.
"That can be fixed. The first owner had that lowered by lowering the support bar, but we can fix that back," the salesman noted quickly.
Xander looked down at Oz, then pouted. "Can I try it too?" he asked. Oz scooted over and let him in, and he gunned the engine a few times before shutting it off. "I like," he said, turning to look at Oz.
"I like too," Oz agreed. "Seat colors?" He scratched across the harsh, rough fabric on the front seat. "Leather?"
"Leather is good," Xander agreed. "Or at least a nicer fabric. Customized?"
"It's at a nice level, but I wouldn't mind being able to plug into the back seat and work while you shop sometimes," Oz admitted. "Yes?"
"Sure," Xander said, giving him a smile. "And the jade one?"
"And the jade one," Oz agreed, watching as Xander slid out, following him to cradle his husband against his stomach. "We like this one, but we're going to need that seat to be fixed."
"And the seats to be recovered," Xander pointed out. He turned his head slightly. "Do we want to wait and do that with the recustomization?"
"We could," Oz agreed, looking at the salesman. "Unless you have someone who can do that for us."
"Well, we do have someone who can recover both the seats after we fix the front one, but it will take longer. If you want, we could recommend you to a place in Los Angeles that does that sort of work."
"Okay," Oz agreed. "Can they put a power plug in the back?"
"Oh, and one of those small DVD players," Xander said happily. "For road trips."
"We're not doing any of those," Oz reminded Xander quietly. "No more road trips."
"No. Picnics and trips to LA."
"Okay," Xander said, sounding like he was pouting but smiling and winking at the salesman. "How much will we owe you?"
"Technically, I think we'll end up about even." He waved a hand toward the trailer. "Let's go figure that part up." He closed the door as he walked past it, then the one to the service department, walking up the few stairs of the trailer after them.
Xander looked over at the salesman's invoice, smiling at Oz when he saw what the customizers were going to do. He bounced over to hug his husband, very happy that he had gotten his way.
"And, just to make sure, you want to keep that fabric, right?" the guy asked, smiling at Oz.
Oz shook his head. "No. Uh-huh. No keeping of those fabrics. What can you recover it with?"
"Grab the green book," he said as he finished filling the order out. "Okay, so we've got a recover, we've got an installation of a power plug and a web interface, and one of those little portable dvd players, right?" Oz nodded, flipping through the book. "Any of those strike you hard?"
"Well, that one," Xander said, pointing at the light gray leather. "But that's not really what I'm in the mood for. Do you have any softer fabrics that'll work well?"
The supervisor walked over and pointed at a small tab near the back of the book. "Back there's some of the more custom fabric choices we have available."
Xander let Oz flip through the front of the book while he flipped through the back. He found a few he liked and nudged Oz to look at them, and Oz found one he liked so he nudged Xander. They silently looked at the four possibles then decided on Oz's because it would last longer and wouldn't stain as badly. "This one, with that stain guard stuff please."
The supervisor looked at their selection and made a note of it. "In light gray?"
"Yeah," Oz said, nodding after checking with Xander. "How much?"
"Not that much, compared with what we normally do." He patted the side of the car. "It's already got bulletproofing. You guys don't want anything outrageous. Six hundred for the recover, another couple hundred for the install of the stuff, plus the price of the player. So about a grand, maybe a little over with labor."
Oz nodded and pulled out his wallet, handing over fifteen hundred dollars. "Tell us if it's going to cost more," he said, walking Xander out to his new sports car and getting in to drive.
"Those two are very ... unusual," the supervisor said as he finished the form for the car. A little blue skinned man ran over and said something, though he was around the supervisor's waist, he still heard him clearly. "Huh. Really?" The demon nodded, looking out the door. "Are they the good guys or the bad guys?" He showed him the form and the demon smiled and said something else, going back to where he was covering a carseat in glue. "Well, at least that's good then," he muttered, sticking the order onto the car. "The bad ones don't tend to get as good of service." He walked away, going back into his office.
Oz walked into the house, stopping when he saw their housekeeper sitting on a couch with an ice pack to her eye. He walked in and lifted the pack to look down at her. "What happened?" he asked, handing it back. "Do you need to see someone?"
"No, this was my neighbor's fault." She sighed as she sat up, putting the ice pack aside. "We got into a fight over our children. She said my son had forced her daughter and he said he seduced her." She shrugged. "We parents got into it and it just made it worse."
"Is he the reason you left those other places?" Oz asked quietly. She didn't answer, just looked down at the floor. "Henrietta, tell me and let us help."
She laughed bitterly. "Why would you want to?"
"Because we don't like to see anyone suffer that way," Xander said as he walked in, handing her a glass of ice water. "Here, ice packs always make me thirsty when I use them." He sat down beside Oz, giving her a smile. "Listen, we know some people. Some really strange and unusual people, but they also know people. If you need some help with this stuff, just tell us and we'll see what we can't help you with."
She shook her head, sipping the water. "There's nothing that can be done."
"Was he arrested?" Oz asked quietly. She nodded. "Is this his first one?"
"No," she sighed, finishing off the water. "It's not his first time. Not even on this charge." She looked up at them. "I didn't want to have to take time off..."
"Hey, time off we can give you. Letting you quit is out of the question," Xander said with a smile. "We're not losing someone who our animals like and who we can agree on." He reached over to touch her on the wrist. "Henrietta, can he make a deal? Get professional help this time?"
"They want to send him to a new program in a mental hospital for people who sexually abuse others," she said, looking at Oz. "I'm not sure that's what's for the best and I'll have to make that decision."
"Then let me do some quick research and see if it's a sound idea," Oz said, holding out a hand, which she took. "Okay?" She nodded. "Okay, let's go into the office so I can do the search on the web. And who knows, maybe this'll be a good thing for him." He led her into the office and closed the door.
Xander picked up the ice pack and went to put it back into the freezer, she might need it again later. He puttered around the kitchen, making them a snack, so he picked up the phone when it rang. "Hello?" He listened for a second then nodded. "Let me get her, she's in the other room." He put the guy on hold and pushed the intercom button. "Henrietta, phone." He hung up and watched the lights, going back to his puttering once he saw her pick it up. He looked up as he watched her and Oz walk out, Oz holding up the car keys to say he was going to drive her. Xander walked them out, waving from the doorway. This was not a good sign.
Xander stood up as Oz walked in, alone, and sighed. "Bad?"
"Very," he said, coming over to give his husband a hug. He whispered something while they were together then pulled back.
Xander closed his eyes for a second. "It had to be done. Can Angel handle him?"
"Yeah. But I had to tell her everything." Oz pulled back some and turned, punching the wall next to the doorway. "Who would let a vampire work as a prison guard?"
"Someone who didn't realize what they were," Xander suggested quietly. "It's not always that obvious. They wouldn't vamp out during the interview. And mostly likely, there'd be enough blood spilled in there to feed him without him having to hunt."
"So it was a brilliant plan on the vamp's part?" Oz asked bitterly.
"Maybe. But maybe he thought turning the kid would make it easier on someone to get justice from him." Xander pulled Oz back into his arms again. "How did Henrietta take it?"
"Not well. She's going to Mass tonight for the first time in almost eight years, she said. I introduced her to Angel, and to Spike and Seth, who came up through the sewers while we were there. Angel promised her to take care of her child and to try and help him."
"And you're thinking that the best thing would be for him to be staked?" Xander asked. Oz looked at him and nodded. "Was it true?"
"Yeah, it was. Henrietta's son had eight prior arrests for sexual assault or threatening, all since he hit fifteen. He needed something." He relaxed under the skillful hug he was getting, mostly so Xander would let him go. "I know we promised Ray and everything...."
"I'll explain that you were too pissed at the world to come," Xander told him, turning him and giving him a push toward the stairs. "Go read or work this out, Oz. I can make excuses."
"Um, she doesn't want them to know," Oz said as he walked away. "She really didn't want you to know but I didn't promise her that."
"Okay, I'll try my best to look like I don't know. Just about the vamp stuff." He shrugged and sat back down with his book, waiting on the time to be right to leave for his dinner with Ray and Meth, who were out house hunting.
Methos stopped his story and lifted Xander's chin up. "You weren't listening, little one. Would you like to tell us what got Oz so upset?"
"I can't, I promised him and he promised her."
"Ah, a her," Ray said, shifting closer. "Was this a case of Angel's?"
"It is now," Xander said darkly and shook himself. "I'm sorry, guys, but I can't tell you. I promised and so did Oz."
Ray nodded. "Okay. So, you wanna run by the houses that we liked?"
"Sure," Xander said, giving him a smile. "That I would like to do." He looked down at his half- eaten meal and waived the waiter over. "Box please?" he asked. The waiter smiled and hurried off. "I'm sorry I was such lousy company tonight, Methos, I really thought I could put it out of my mind."
"It's all right, Xander. We understand that sometimes things happen in your lives that don't impact ours." He handed Ray his credit card and pointed over at the display case of sweets. "Go pick something out for later, Ray. Something like a coffee cake." The lovers shared a look and Ray got up, leaving them alone. "What happened to Henrietta?" he asked quietly.
Xander shook his head. "Her family, not her." He glanced around then sighed, leaning closer. "I still can't tell you, but it's not a pretty story, okay? Can we please drop it? Oz was pissed enough to come home and hit a wall."
Methos sat back up. "Ah. Are you two helping her with this?"
"Us, and Angel," Xander told him. "Please, Meth, I promised."
"I'm sorry, Xander, but I happen to know a great deal more about many things and I thought I could help."
Xander punched him on the arm. "If the help stage wasn't behind us, we'd have already asked you."
"All right then, I'll leave it alone," Methos agreed, giving Xander a reassuring smile. "If you need to talk about it, then simply come find me, young one, and we'll talk."
"Good, does that mean I can come back now?" Ray asked as he sat down, handing Methos the box he had been carrying and his credit card. "Dinner's all paid for too." He took the box from the waiter and put all their leftovers into it, letting Xander have it. "Here, make sure Oz eats tonight."
"Deal," Xander said with a smile. "So, let's go look at these houses, huh?" He stood up and walked out, Ray and Methos sharing a look before they followed him.
Xander stood in the doorway of Oz's office, watching him drink a beer and read something on his monitor. "Hey," he said, not moving any closer. "I brought you my leftovers." He held up the box.
"Thanks," Oz said, waving him in. "How long did it take you to tell them?"
"I didn't," Xander said, sitting across from the desk. "The closest we got to talking about it was me saying that I had promised you and that I would go find Methos if I needed to talk to someone. He doesn't know about what, but he offered," he justified when Oz looked at him. "And he knows that Angel's involved."
"Okay." Oz clicked on something with his mouse. "How were the houses?"
"Three of the five looked really good. One was okay but it wasn't in the best of places. One, well it was out by the industrial park so I had to warn them about that." He shrugged, hoping to get a little of Oz's attention back on him. "What're you reading?"
"Finishing my research from earlier." Oz clicked on something else. "Anything else happen?"
"Well, lets see," Xander said dryly. "A big demon jumped out at us and gave me a hug and asked for an autograph." Oz raised an eyebrow but didn't look at him so he got up and walked out, going up to their room. If Oz wanted to be left alone, he could do that. Even if he did need someone to hold him so his thoughts would quit swirling. He lay down on the bed with his latest book, hoping the story would catch him again and take him away.
Downstairs, Oz continued his searching, hoping to find an answer to something that had been bothering him.
Xander walked down to breakfast the next morning and stopped when he saw Oz was still wearing the same clothes. He walked around his husband and went into the kitchen to get himself some cereal and toast, bringing it back to the table to sit next to him. "Up all night?" he asked finally, when the silence got to be too much.
"Yup." Oz looked at his husband, giving him a weak smile and holding out a hand. "I just needed to think, Xander."
"That's okay," Xander said, taking his hand. "I didn't expect you to come to me, not really at least, but it might have been nice if I had been able to work through it too."
"I'm sorry." Oz leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "How about we go talk today?" Xander nodded. "Okay, we'll go talk today." He stole a bite of Xander's toast then went back to reading his printouts. "Oh, and I'm expecting a call today from the people who I sell programs to."
"If they call, I'll send it through," Xander sighed, looking down at his cereal. "I still haven't worked that through," he admitted.
"Me either, but we'll go out for a drive after breakfast." He looked up as the front door opened, frowning at Henrietta. "I thought you were taking today off."
"I couldn't," she said as she walked in.
"You can," Xander said, getting up to give her a hug. "If Oz says you're supposed to be taking today off, then you shouldn't be here." He saw her wariness and smiled. "What? You're complaining about day off?"
"If I don't keep control of the pet hair, it will never be fully cleaned up again," she said weakly.
"We've let it go for a week at a time before," Oz noted, drinking some of his juice. "Go home, Henrietta. I'm sure your children could use you today. We'll even be nice and give you the day with pay." She smiled at that.
Xander hugged her tightly. "Come on, go have fun with your kids and come back tomorrow, when we might not have sex in the living room. Oz is getting told today if the software people want his last program."
"Ah." She looked at Oz, who nodded. "All right, I'll go back home. Thank you, boys." She patted Xander on the side of the face. "I hope you hear good news today."
"Me too," he said with a grin. "It's more than time for me to get cuddles on the couch." He winked and went back to the table, watching as she left.
"Congrats, you've become a better actor," Oz said quietly.
Xander leaned over and stole a kiss. "Thanks, but I don't like doing it." He finished off his breakfast and took his dishes back into the kitchen. He didn't want his housekeeper to come back to a mess tomorrow.
Xander and Oz walked into the house after their drive and talk, and stopped when they saw Ray lifting fingerprints off a glass. "You could just ask to print us," Oz pointed out dryly. "We've done much more for you when you asked."
Ray put down the juice glass he was dusting and frowned at them. "Do you really want prints available down at the station?"
Xander shrugged. "Why not?"
"Because they're still looking for who bombed the high school," Oz reminded Xander.
"Oh. Well, why do you need prints right now, Ray?"
"Because you guys were in the car that's now an investigation site," Ray told them. "Nice sedan...."
"Oh," Oz interrupted. "That. Okay. Want mine? You can pull Xander's off something."
"Nah, I've got one'a both of ya now." He finished pulling the print off the glass and put everything back into the small leather case that had been open on the counter. "Where's Henrietta?"
"Day off. Problems with a kid." Oz walked over and looked at Ray. "If they do check Xander's against that," he started
"Then I'll come for him," Ray assured him quickly. "I'm not gonna let someone hurt Xander, Oz, you know that." He stood up. "What did happen at the high school anyway?"
"Big snakey demon," Xander told him. "Used to be the mayor. Was going to eat everyone there." He shrugged. "It was the only way to kill it."
Ray shook his head. "Now I know why most of the other cops wouldn't talk to me once they found out I was stayin' with you two." He gathered everything up and walked out, getting into his car and driving away.
Xander looked at Oz. "Think I'm going to be missing for a while tonight?"
"Probably. Which lawyer do you want to use?" Oz walked back to his office to check the answering machine. "Hey, they took it!" he yelled a few minutes later.
"Cool," Xander sighed, walking back to give him a hug. "How many does this make?"
"This means I have one more on my contract," Oz said, squeezing Xander hard so he could pull him down into his lap. "And then, my darling little lover, our software company will be just ours. We'll move to a distributorship with those nice people in Seattle but I won't have a deadline at all."
"Very cool," Xander said, nuzzling Oz's neck. "Then what?"
"Then, as you're listed as the secretary, I'll get to chase you around the desk," Oz joked.
Oz tickled Xander, sending them crashing to the floor to play.
Ray pointed Xander into the interrogation room, and closed the door behind him and his boss. "Okay, so you wanted him here, he's here," he said to his boss. "Now what?"
"It's okay, Ray," Xander said calmly. "Go watch through the little window or whatever." Xander waited until Ray was gone to look at the Captain in Sunnydale's very small police force. "What did you want to know?"
"How about, did you plant the bomb that set off the explosion in the high school, Mr. Harris?"
Xander snorted. "No." He leaned forward. "Let's play a game. I remind you of what *really* happened during graduation and you listen." The cop nodded, sitting down across from him. "You were there, right?"
The Captain nodded, starting to sweat. "Yeah, but I was outside."
"Does that mean you didn't come running at the screams when the big snake-looking thing showed up?" The Captain shook his head. "That's what the bomb was for. That was Mayor Wilkens." He paused for a few seconds. "Nothing could kill that demon."
"Demon?" the Captain snorted. "What world do you live on."
Xander smiled sadly and leaned a little closer. "I've lived on another, but I can prove everything I'm about to tell you." He took a deep breath and glanced at the mirror/window. "How many people are back there?"
"Not many," the Captain said. "Ray definitely is."
"Good." Xander gave him that same sad smile and launched into a discussion of why Sunnydale was unique. By the time he was done, the Captain was in shock. "And I can prove everything I've just told you," he said finally, ending the speech he had thought to one day be giving to a son or a daughter.
The Captain shook his head, probably to clear it. "You can prove it? How?"
Xander stood up and walked to the door, looking out at the guy cleaning the floors. "How do you see him?" he asked, pointing at him.
The Captain groaned when he saw who he was pointing to. "He's got a skin condition."
"That makes him mauve?" Xander said dryly. "Can you really say that you've ever heard of that?" He turned to look at the older man. "Listen, not all of them are bad. I'm sure that guy's just trying to survive, like most everyone is. Most demons, including most that I've run into, have been decent people who just want to live their own lives in peace. Some come here because there's a ready source of power in this town."
"Under the old library?" the Captain said.
"Yeah, under there. That's not the only one though. I know where other portals are. This one is just out of control. It's my family's job to keep it under control now, I vowed to do it." He grimaced. "Giles should be back any day now, you can ask him about the magical side of stuff. Haven't gotten into that yet." He turned to look at the demon mopping the floors, smiling and waving at him. He got a hesitant smile back and watched as the demon trotted off. "See, they just want to live their own lives." He looked at the Captain as he walked back over to the table. "Unfortunately, sometimes the bad ones come here. That's when it becomes my job, and my family's job, to finish that. And you guys usually ignore those moments anyway."
"But you blew up a high school!" the Captain protested.
"Yeah, we did. It was the only thing that would kill the snake-looking thing at graduation. Did you really want to be eaten by it?" The Captain hung his head, but he shook it. "I'm sorry we blew up the school, but it saved a lot of lives. And I have donated to help the school be rebuilt. Matter of fact, I even donated a specific floor in the room that's going over where the hole is. We're hoping that means it won't be able to open up *in* the school again."
The Captain looked at him. "What about around the school? Or don't you remember the snakes and wasps?"
"Yup, I was there then. I even know what solved it," Xander said with a smirk. "That sort of stuff may still happen if everyone really wants the school to stay in that same spot. If you move it, then there might be a chance that some of that wouldn't happen. Turn the old school lot into a park and let us put up a marker there for everyone who died," Xander said quickly and quietly. "It really would cut down on the strange stuff in the high school."
"What about this girl? Where's she?"
"Well, Buffy's in LA. The newest one is in New Orleans last we heard. Seems she believes Anne Rice." He shrugged. "She'll probably be here eventually. And when she does, the city workers will start finding more piles of dust in odd places, like they used to."
"And the odd bodies that were all sent up to the college before?"
"I think we can find someone to take care of those now that the assholes up there are gone." Xander grimaced and clenched his fists. "The Initiative idiots weren't what the town needed. They actually took a few of the half-demons in town and tried to experiment on them. And not all of them were fully grown." He looked at the window again, then back at the Captain. "If they're still around and you're getting odd bodies, then it's them. Before I became what I am now, I fought them too. And if I have to, I will again."
"What would you do if I say that we're already getting odd piles of dust?" the Captain asked gently.
Xander chuckled. "I'd go looking for the girl tonight to introduce myself and to check her out. Are you?" He nodded. "Cool. I'll get Giles back here and we'll go talk to her." He shrugged. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"No," the Captain sighed. "I can't even charge you with blowing up the school, you'll tell all this in court, right?" Xander nodded. "Then I can't charge you, can I?"
"Like I said, I'm making restitution. It's not like I got off scot free."
"Good." The Captain stood up. "You're free to go, Mr. Harris. And please, do what you said you were going to. She put one of my officers in the hospital last night."
Xander frowned. "Did he get a good look at her?"
"No, unfortunately not. She got him from behind. He was coming to see what the disturbance was."
Xander nodded and walked out, heading out to where Oz was waiting in their car. "We've got the new girl in town," he said as he got a hug. "She knocked a cop out."
Oz glared out at the darkening night. "Let's go find her then." He nodded at the car. "Want to drive?"
"Sure. We can go do a run through the usual hunting spots." He got in to drive, letting Oz look for her. "If not, I guess we hit the Bronze."
"Okay," Oz agreed, putting his hand on Xander's thigh as they took off.
Xander and Oz walked up behind the young girl who was fighting the big, horned demon and Xander said something to him, making him run away. "Hi," he said, holding out a hand. "Xander Harris, Slayerette to Buffy."
She looked at him, then at Oz, then growled and stepped into a fighting stance. "You're through here," she told him.
Oz shook his head and looked around. "Where's your Watcher, Marilyn? We knew you were coming, we didn't expect you so soon."
"No Slayer would work with the supernatural," she snorted.
Oz looked at Xander. "No one told her about Angel?"
"I guess not," Xander said with a slight shrug. He looked at the girl again, and at the man walking up behind her. "You're the Watcher, right?" The man looked up, startled. "Hi. We're Rupert's kids. I'm Xander, this is Oz, we're the present guardians, and your girl was just beating up on a helpless demon who was out looking for oak leaves to eat."
"Oh, my," the Watcher said, looking them over. "I had heard that Rupert went native when he got over here, but I had no idea that he had brainwashed you children too. Where is Ms. Summers?" he asked, looking around.
"In LA with her sire, where she belongs," Oz told him. He pushed the girl out of his way and walked over, holding out a hand. "We don't want a fight but we're not going to let you take on the innocent ones."
"They're demons," the Watcher said slowly and clearly, like he was talking to a child.
"Yes, who were born that way," Xander said in the same tone of voice. "That one was about ten. Most of the demons in town, and in the world, aren't out to eat people." He hauled the girl up, holding her steady for a moment. "You okay?" She nodded, glancing back at him. "Yeah, I know. They're all trained that way. It took me leaving town and finding another demonic community to realize that most of them have things like families and friends, and jobs. They're not all bad, just the ones who rampage and kill people." He let her go and walked over to be beside Oz. "Now, we do protect this town. There haven't been that many deaths here since we got back with the key to the Hellmouth, and we've got it handled. If you wanted to do something useful with her, go find a new Hellmouth and terrorize it," he said politely.
The Watcher looked stunned. "Who told you that drivel? Demons don't have families or children."
"I personally know a few," Xander said dryly. "They do. If you don't believe me, I can give you Rupert's number in Vegas."
"Please. I'd like to see him come back here and straighten this all out."
Oz pulled out his cellphone and dialed the resort, handing over the phone. "Ask for him if he doesn't answer," he suggested, pulling Xander over to sit under a tree. "What did you say to him?"
"That she was the Slayer. That's one useful phrase I learned in many demon languages while I was in New York." They watched as the Watcher sat down heavily in the grass then watched as his girl continued to look confused. "Sit," Xander called out. "This is going to take a while."
Giles walked into the house and stared at the man sipping tea at the table. "Wesley?" he asked.
"No, his younger brother. But have you seen him?"
"He's in LA, helping Angel," Oz said from the kitchen. He waved Giles in and gave him a hug. "From Xander, he's out doing laps. Expect to be jumped." He went back to chopping mushrooms, letting Giles fend for himself.
Giles sat down across from this younger Watcher and simply stared for a few minutes. "How did you come into possession of the girl?" he asked finally.
"Giiiiiiilllllllllllleeeeeeeeeessssssss!" Xander screeched as he ran inside, dripping wet and naked, and pounced his lover for a hug.
TO BE CONTINUED...