Notes: Yes, this is Kiaya's fault. She gave me the line. You'll know which one when you see it.

An Unhappy Xander

A very frustrated Xander continued to pound on his current work, trying to bend the steel to his will. "Six months," he muttered as he pounded the metal into shape. "Six months without sex."

"Imp?" Methos called from the doorway. He and Ray had become very wary of Xander recently; the young man was having horrible mood swings and was quite irrational at a moment's notice when he was bothered. "Xander?" he tried again. "Sam's on the phone."

"Bring it to me," Xander growled.

Methos quickly brought the phone out, handing it over and stepping back. They were going to have to do something about the itching problem Xander had whenever he got worked up.

"What?" Xander growled, putting the blade back in to reheat it. His expression softened. "Yeah, I'm still having that problem." He curled up, wrapping his free arm around his knees. "Really? No, I never thought about using it like a battery. Yeah, it can be shaped. Sure, I'll try it later. No, I'm working on a sword blade." He laughed then hung up, handing the phone back to Methos. "She's going to talk to Janet for me," he told Methos, pulling out the blade and going back to pounding out his sexual frustration on it. "Can you please get me a few bars of the energy metal? Sam wanted to know if it could be turned into a battery."

"Of course," Methos said quickly, happy that Xander was acting normal for a few moments. He hurried inside to do what he had been asked before the young man's mood changed again. He walked out and handed it over, looking down at the blade. "That's uneven," he said quietly.

"I know," Xander told him.

"All right." Methos hurried back inside, going to hide with Ray and Oz, who were huddled together in the office, hoping for some relief from Xander's mood swings. The pasta incident at dinner last night had scared them all.

Xander turned the blade over and started to make it symmetrical, grumbling about people who wanted to tell him what to do but who wouldn't help make him feel better. He moved the bars of metal, putting them down beside him to work on them later.


Sam Carter, Astrophysicist extraordinare, grunted into the phone as she answered it. "Really?" she asked, sounding happier. "Have you told him yet? Because he'll be so happy." She laughed. "No, he's been hell to live with because of the itching. I got the feeling from Oz that he was ready to do that anyway." She ran a hand through her blonde hair. "Thanks. Yes, definitely tell him that. It'll make him feel better."

She went back to her star charts, trying to figure out where the group of people like her were going to look for habitable planets without a stargate. It was an interesting proposition, but she wished she had more information on this other group that was working out of NASA.


Oz picked up the phone and sighed when he heard the voice on the other end. "Janet," he said, relaxing back into his desk chair. "Do you know how to cure his residual itching?" He smiled. "Thank the Gods. Yes, them. Because there's nothing more frustrating than Xander right now. Not even that. I've been raided by the Feds before, even they weren't as frustrating as Xander is right now." He laughed. "Thanks. Yeah, I can have you taken to his spa and have him there whenever you want, we'll hire you a driving and everything. Unless you want him in the hospital," he offered quickly. He smiled. "Yup, can do. Sure. Want me to make the appointment and call you back?" He wrote down her phone number then hummed. "'Kay, I'll call them and call you right back with when."

He hung up and dialed Xander's usual spa's number, smiling at the friendly voice on the other end. "Hi, this is Xander Harris' mate. I need to talk to the manager for a sec please?" He hummed in time with the music, his smile picking up when the woman on the other end called him by name. "Hi. No, he's not feeling better, but his personal doctor may have a way to fix that. She wanted to do it at your place so we could do the whole wrap thing afterwards. Yeah, she's more than willing to talk to your skin specialists. Her name's Janet..." He thought for a second. "I don't remember her last name," he apologized. "We just know her as Doctor Janet. No, she works for the military. No, it wasn't a new weapon, it was from a natural rock he ran into somewhere; Janet's studying the rock to see if it's useful for anything so she got his case." He sat up straighter. "Sure, that'd be great. Yeah. I'll give her your number and ..." He wrote down a new number. "Okay, got it. I'll give that to her and she'll call you. And you'll call us with the appointment?" He smiled. "Thanks. Yeah, he's still itching, it's *horrible*." His smile got brighter. "No, he *growls* at me now. We really need this to be fixed." He laughed. "Thanks. Yeah, I'll call her right away."

He hung up and dialed Janet's cellphone number. "Hey, me," he said in greeting. "No, Janet? Oh, sorry. No, she told me to call this number. Thanks." He hung up and redialed Janet's work, getting her immediately. "Did you realize you left your cellphone with your daughter?" he asked her in greeting. "Yeah, let me give you the number to the manager. She's calling in their skin care specialist." He rattled off the number, then the extension, checking the paper. "Um, change that last five to a six, that's the front line I gave you. Yeah, just that last five. Extension's the same." He smiled again. "I know we're both looking forward to him being better. He's become insufferable, Janet. Really bad. Last night, he attacked the pasta we were eating because he said it wasn't being nice. Then he threw the bowl at Ray when he smirked. Really. No, we haven't been able to do anything. Because he starts itching. Trust me on this, Janet. A GHS member who's not getting what he needs is one that no one wants to see. Sure, I'll tell him. Just call us with the time and day. We'll be there early."

He laughed and hung up, going to tell Xander the good news. "Hey," he said as he walked out onto the patio. "Janet just called. She thinks she can solve the rest of the itching problem." He held the man that pounced on him, cuddling Ray tightly. "Xander?"

"Really?" Xander asked, looking up at him.

"Really," Oz assured him. "She's going to do it at the spa. They're doing a phone conference now so they can fix you soon." He had to let Ray go when Xander jumped on him, allowing himself to be knocked down so they could cuddle. "Good news?"

"You are gonna be *so* sore," Xander promised with a bright smile. "We've got to make up for six month's worth of me not getting any."

"Yup." Oz wiggled free, having seen the look that came over Xander's face. "Just a few more days of pounding out your frustration," he promised, kissing the tip of Xander's nose. "And then I'll be pounding you into the mattress." Oz escaped before the desire to jump his husband, no matter how much it hurt him to do so, overtook him.

Xander pouted at Ray. "Will you make sure I don't hurt the Oz when I'm better?"

"Sure," Ray agreed, getting down to cuddle him for a few minutes. "Go finish that, I wanna see how you decorate the sword."

"Okay," Xander sighed, going back to his forge and worktable with clamps to chisel out the design.


Xander carefully carved the last small piece off the battery-shaped piece of the energy metal, holding it up to compare it to the battery he was modeling it off of. He shrugged and put aside his carving tools, making sure the metal was cool enough to try in his radio. He slid in the single battery next to it, and jumped as the sound came on loudly. He pulled out the battery, timing the time it took for the radio to turn off. After an hour, he gave up and shrugged it off. He took out the small AA sized battery, a look coming across his face. He got up, grabbing a watch battery from his desk, and headed up to his room and the toy chest it contained.

A few minutes later, a demented howl rang throughout the house, making everyone shudder. Oz started to get up, but a dancing Xander whirled into the room.

"Um, Xan?" Ray asked.

"I found it!" he cheered, lifting the furiously running vibrator up. "I found a way to make my vibrators run *forever*!" he shouted, waving it around. "I found a way to make sure that they *never* die in the middle of sex again!" He ran from the room, heading for a phone. He had to share this. Sam had to know!

Oz looked at Methos, trying to look bland and not scared. "Can you give him something now?" he asked quietly.

"If I had the right to write prescriptions, I would gladly do so," Methos agreed grimly, watching the hallway for another attack of Xander insanity.


Sam Carter picked up her phone wearily, putting it next to her ear. "Carter," she sighed, disheartened by her own experiments. She sat up straighter. "Really? You're sure?" She smiled. "You're absolutely sure?" She pulled the phone away from her ear as the buzzing started. "Okay, I believe you," she said, listening to him ramble. "Cool. Yeah, I'll pass this on. You're kidding," she said, brightening farther. "Great work, Xander. Yeah, I'll go tell them right now."

She hung up and walked out into the hall, running into Daniel first. "Xander figured out how to make his vibrators run forever," she said happily, making everyone stare at her. "With the energy metal," she explained happily. She ran down the hall, going to find the General and share the good news with him.

"Sir," she said, bursting into his office. "Xander found a way to run his vibrators forever using the energy metal." She stopped when she saw he was on the special red phone that ran to the White House. "Sorry," she said, blushing.

"Just a minute, sir," the General said, putting the President on hold. "He figured out how to do what?"

"He figured out a way to run his vibrators, which run on batteries, using the energy metal. He had me listen to it. It's running on high when he's got it set on low speed. It's running on just the energy metal and a watch battery. He's had it running for over a half-hour and the only problem he's seeing is that the motor may burn out." She bounced slightly. "He's figured out how to use the energy metal to power battery-powered machines."

"I see," the General said, smiling at her. "I would like to know how. Go to Sunnydale tomorrow with Doctor Frasier and talk with him."

"Yes, sir," she said, saluting then leaving him alone.

The General took a moment to take a deep breath, then picked back up the phone. "Sir? No, there's been an advance in that new metal, the one that puts out that energy. Yes, sir. Someone found out how to use it to power things in place of batteries." He laughed. "Yes, sir, that is what she said. We know that it's never a military application that happens first," he joked lightly. "Yes, sir, I'll gladly submit that report as soon as she writes it. Yes, sir, that metal. That's what I thought," he said. Then he hung up and sat back to consider this new accomplishment.


Xander bounced into Doctor Frasier as soon as he ran into the spa, hugging her as hard as he could and dancing around with her. "I figured out how to harness the energy metal," he chanted a few times before putting her down.

"Xander, if you continue to assault her, she won't cure the itching," Oz warned as he walked in. He smiled at the doctor. "It's been six days since he found this out," he told her.

"I know," Janet said, smiling at them. "Sam told everyone on the base. She even told the General while he was talking to the President." Xander looked a little shocked, but he still had that happy/demented look on his face. "Come on, let's get this started. It'll take a few hours to get all the lingering chemicals leached from your skin." She led them back to the private suite and pointed at the bathroom. "Go change into the robe that's in there. You can keep on your underwear," she said quickly when Oz looked at her funny. "You too, Oz. This way, there's no chance of it coming back from anywhere. Did you take off the first sheets you came into contact with and toss them out?" she called while they were in the bathroom.

"They were the first ones I made," Xander called back. "We washed them about six times in a row then put them into a keepsake bag." He came out wearing the robe and his usual peachskin thong. "Is this okay?" he asked.

She swallowed. "Yeah, fine, it'll soak through it," she said, staring at his package. She shook herself before Oz could come out and waved a hand at the double bed. "Lie down and we'll start with the cleansing wrap. We recently found this new herb, which we tested in the lab. It's been shown to take all chemicals off the skin. We'll slather you both in this, then we'll work on the condition of your skin because it can dry it out." She smiled as Oz walked out, waving a hand at the bed. "Up you both get. It's going to take about two hours after we wrap you up, so we thought it's be nice to let you be together." She cleared her throat at the mental image she got from that statement, and saw Oz's understanding look. "Up, both of you."

Oz climbed up onto the table and patted the area beside him. "Come on, Xander. The faster we get this done, the faster you get laid." Xander was beside him instantly, lying down on his stomach. Oz grinned at Janet as he laid back, watching as she and the skin- care person brought over the tub of light green stuff to put all over them. He took off his robe and rolled onto his stomach, poking Xander to get him to do the same. The robe went sailing, and Xander snuggled into his side, getting comfortable for the long session.

Janet walked in and turned up the lights slowly, smiling at the way the couple was cuddling together. She stopped and blushed a deep red when she saw what they were doing under the sheet, or at least what Xander was doing under the sheet to Oz. She cleared her throat, but the hand moving up and down didn't stop. "Boys," she called softly.

"What?" Xander asked.

She shook herself, not wanting to watch this but not able to look away. She swallowed as she started to sweat, starting to fan herself as Oz's low moan reached her. She felt herself getting wet as the sheer eroticism caught her, and she vowed to herself to find someone tonight, even if she had to pay for the time. She unconsciously reached for her stomach, stroking it slowly in time with Xander's hand. She started when she realized her hand was up under her blouse and ran for the bathroom to go finish herself off. They could hose the guys off in a few minutes. She didn't come out until she heard Oz groan Xander's name and the wet kiss that followed it. "Is it safe?" she said from the bathroom door.

"Was before," Oz told her. "We were covered." He grinned as she blushed. "Sorry, but it's been too long for him. Can we wash this off now? It's gotten dry and crumbly."

"Su..sure," she stuttered, coming over to grab the hose. "Um, let me," she said, running back into the bathroom to finish cleaning herself off and gather her professionalism back around her. There was no way she wanted her patients to see her like this. And if it ever got back to Cheyenne Mountain, she was dead. She took a deep, calming breath and walked back out, grabbing the hose and pulling off the sheet to hose them down.


Oz walked into their house, his mouth already locked to Xander's. There was no way they were waiting for such niceties as a bed after six months. He didn't care who was standing in the living room. Xander knocked him to the floor and went down on him, so Oz wrapped his hands in the long, soft hair to guide the mouth on him. He shot off incredibly fast, and found himself on his stomach, still panting from having come. He felt his pants being pulled down and grunted the one word he could think of, "Lube?" He felt the warm liquid be spit inside of him and understood what Xander had been going for, relaxing as his body was quickly opened and entered. Then he started to howl at the hard ride he was given.

Xander threw his head back and screamed in pleasure, having missed this for *way* too long. Even after he came, he continued to pound into his Oz until he became too soft. As soon as he slipped out for good, he draped himself across his husband's back, nearly purring as he rubbed his cheek against the soft skin. "I need my stamina back," he whispered.

"I'm sure we'll find it sometime later," Oz panted. "You good for another ten minutes?"

"Maybe," Xander said, nipping him on the back of the neck. He pushed himself up and looked at the older man standing in the doorway. "Hey, General Hammond. Excuse us for a few minutes." He forced himself to stand and helped his Oz up, taking him to the nearest bathroom so they could clean up together.

The General looked at the woman sitting across from him. "Now I see why it was so important that he found a way to make his vibrators last forever," he told Sam.

Sam grinned. "GHS is all about the pleasure principle, sir, and Xander's the most GHS individual in the last hundred years according to the members I know."

The General nodded as he sat down to wait on them. That was definitely something he didn't want to break into the middle of. He looked up in shock as he heard a high-pitched scream, then looked at Sam, who was smirking. "Who was that?"

"Probably Ray. That sounded like his voice." She sipped her iced tea, which Ray had gotten for her earlier when he had let them in. "Give them a few minutes, sir, they'll be back down soon enough."

General Hammond shook his head. "I don't know how. Even when I was their age, I didn't have that much energy."

"Yeah, but he's like that," Ray said as he appeared in the doorway. "Give them time enough to shower. Xander's been looking forward to talking to her." He winked at Sam and walked away, heading for the kitchen.

Sam settled into her couch, listening to the laughing voices on the floor above them.

When Xander came down, he smiled brightly at everyone like nothing had happened. "Wanna to see it?" he asked Sam. She nodded and stood up, following him back to his writing room. "The motor burned out last night," he warned her as he picked it up to show it to her.

She sat down on the sinfully soft, flame colored couch and looked over the device, opening it up to look at how he had done the batteries. "You trimmed some of the energy metal down to make room for the watch battery?" He nodded when she looked up. "Okay. How long did it run? And how much higher than normal did it get?"

"Well," he said, sitting down on his overstuffed chair, "I tried it on high, that's why it finally gave out. It ran for over three hours before then, and it sounded like it was running a little higher than the usual 'high' setting does. I inched it up, that's when it gave out and started to smoke."

"That makes sense," she said, taking out the batteries. "It melted."

"It got *real* hot," he told her. "My radio did the same thing."

"Then we'll have to make sure that whatever we run with this won't overload," she said pragmatically. She put it down and checked the hall before turning to look at him. "What is your life like?" He looked confused. "Blair and I have been talking and he told me what it was like to live in total hedonistic splendor, he did it for a few weekends a month, but I couldn't imagine living like this all the time."

"Oh," Xander said, catching on. "It's mostly a matter of letting go and having fun," he explained, pulling one foot up under him. "I guess most rich people can do that too, but I don't ever do anything I don't want to do. Except the litter boxes," he said with a grimace. She smiled at that. "The only time I work is when I feel like it. I never have to force myself to do anything." He ran a hand over the arm of the chair. "Also, I surrounded myself with things that made me feel good, or sparked my interest, or even just sparked my attention," he said with a grin and a wave at the tapestries on the walls. "I set up everything in this house so that I wouldn't feel pain from anything. The things I have to do while guarding give me enough pain, this is my refuge. And yeah, personal pleasure's a big part of that, but so is mental and physical pleasure. I get a thrill when I finish a piece of jewelry. It's the same thrill I get when I dive into the pool or I go play with the animals. It's also the same thrill I get when I beat Oz and Adam in a sparring match." He shrugged. "Basically, it's a life free from most worries. I gave that up when I gave up pain not of my own making and fear. It's really just letting go of it all and going with what makes you happy and feel good."

"Oh." She got comfortable and looked around the room. "I don't think I could do this," she told him. She watched as he lit the two candles beside him, noticing he said a small prayer. "Who do you pray to? Not to be nosy or anything, but Daniel said something about the ancient Gods existing and one of them telling him that the aliens taking over for them was a test of faith by the old Gods."

"It was," Xander agreed. "They are real, you just have to believe to find them. I asked one of them that I routinely pray to for an explanation and he gave me a dream." He leaned forward a little. "In it, he showed me a meeting of the Gods where they decided to use this as a pass/fail test for humanity. If the belief was there, then the Gods would kick the aliens out of this solar system. If not, then they would let the foolish humans deal with what they had done."

"So, we're screwed because we didn't have the right sort of faith?" Sam asked.

"No, not really. There's always been people who knew the Gods and distrusted these new creatures that showed up claiming to be them. Someone has been anchoring for them for years now." He snorted, thinking of something. "I bet I could pick Strife out of a lineup of look-a-likes by now. He's been very patient with me."

"Who's the other candle for?" she asked.

"Cupid. My GHSness falls under his area of influence. The rest of my life seems to fall to Strife, but Cupid is over my sensual side."

"What do you get out of being an anchor?"

"I get to stay balanced. I've only had to ask for something once -, that was when we were hacked by the FBI a while back." He nodded at the door so she closed it, then turned to find a blade coming out of his wrist. "This is a soul sword," he told her. "It's very rare, and it's something I found out about because of Strife. He's been good to me. All I do is worship him as often as I possibly can and make Oz laugh."

"So, it's not a symbiotic relationship?" she asked.

"No," he snorted, and the blade disappeared. "It's nothing like that. I exist and do things in their area, which gives them energy. My prayers to them, and the candles I light in their names, give them more. Calling me an anchor isn't really the right term, I'm more of a link in the chain that connects them to the world, same as everyone who worships them is."

"Oh." She leaned back when he did. "So, you don't get anything out of this?"

"Not true, I get lots. Strife is a really cool guy. I'm really glad I got the chance to meet him and to talk with him. He's got a very unique way of looking at the world that just makes *sense* to me, ya know?" She nodded. "What I get from my faith in them is the same thing that people who believe in Jesus get from their faith. Though my Gods occasionally show up to say 'hi'."

She grinned at that. "That's really cool." She glanced at the door. "I was thinking recently of asking Daniel about the old ways, he's been studying them to find out which Gods were Goa'uld."

Xander listened to the little Strife-like voice in his mind, then nodded. "Have you thought about taking a look at Athena and Artemis? Wisdom, scholarly thought, warriorism, and the hunt?"

She frowned. "No, I hadn't, but I'll have him tell me about them," she agreed. She got up and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, Xander."

"Hey, anytime," he offered, watching as she left. His grin turned naughty as he saw Methos walk past his doorway, getting up to stalk and jump him. He was nice, he waited until the old guy put down his cat before knocking him to the floor.


Oz finished checking the restraints that were holding Xander down to the bed, then nodded at Methos as he got out of his way. "This way, we all get some sleep," he told his husband, who had already jumped them all three times since they had gone to bed. "Ray, you first," he ordered.

Ray moved up to the bed and bent down, kissing Xander's cheek. "I know ya need it, but really, Xanny. It's too much for the rest'a us." He ran a hand down the hard cock. "If you'd agree not to jump us again tonight, then we'd undo ya and let ya cuddle," he offered.

"But I need it," Xander protested. It was unfair, he had been without for six months and now that he could have sex again, his body was putting out incredible waves of neediness. "Please? Just once more so I can sleep too?"

Oz groaned and walked over to the toy chest, pulling out one of the newly enhanced vibrators. He lubed it and handed it over to his husband, undoing all but one ankle strap. "Here, make it fast or we're going to sleep in the next room." He sat on the edge of the bed, letting Methos rest against him while they all watched Xander work himself off.

Xander stuck the toy into himself immediately and found a rhythm he really liked, using himself hard and fast. He felt his skin start to heat up but didn't worry about it, much, until the burning pain started. Literally a burning pain. He came with a scream of pain and fell into his best friend's arms, letting him take the toy.

"Meth, this is warm," Ray said, handing the toy over.

"Dear God," Methos muttered, taking the toy and turning it off. Then he dropped it and blew on his fingers. "Into a cool bath he goes," he ordered, getting up to go run it while Ray got Xander moving.

Oz watched, frowning at the toy. "No more of you," he said, pushing it under the bed so they could clean it in the morning. "You're going back to normal batteries." He got up to answer the knock at the door, grimacing at Sam. "You have to watch out. That new battery system makes things overheat." Then he shut the door and walked into the bathroom to go help his husband take a bath. Hopefully, Xander hadn't burned himself too bad and he would be able to go again in the morning when they had all recovered.


Methos groaned as he woke up, then his eyes opened wide as he tested the bonds holding him down. He turned his head after visually checking the area around him, checking on his Ray first, who was tied down right beside him, then on Oz and Xander, who were also tied to the bed. He groaned and tried to get free, but it wasn't working.

"Stop," Xander hissed. "He's in the bathroom." He wiggled his lower half and managed to almost free one ankle before the bathroom door opened and a young man walked out. "What do you want with us?" he demanded.

"You've got money, and good taste in restraints," the man said, grinning down at them. "I like that in victims." He looked at the doorway, then down at Methos, who he noticed was awake also. "By the way, your friends are all knocked out too. Too bad, she was a pretty one. But I guess having one of these," he said, holding up her uniform jacket, "means that she won't play nice."

"Let me go and you can have whatever you want," Xander offered. "Just don't hurt anyone or the animals."

The robber snorted and started to laugh. "Oh, yeah, like I'm some sicko who's going to waste his time with hurting animals." He looked around the room. "Truth is, there's a lot here I'd be willing to take, but it's mostly too big for me to carry."

"Let us go," Oz demanded. "We're reasonable people. We won't kill you."

The thief snorted again, in derision. "Sure you will. Rich people like you guys couldn't hurt anyone. And I bet your sister and her friend in the next room would probably do anything to keep you four safe." He leered down at Xander. "Though, I'd be willing to take you in trade for some of the pretties I've found so far."

"Yay," Xander said dryly. "Not going for that deal, sorry. Take the jewelry, not me."

"Xander," Oz hissed.

"Oz, if anyone kidnaps me again, I'm killing them, no matter what the cops say about it. Even if I do go to prison for a few years. The Gods know he wouldn't be the first person I did in."

"Oh, goody, bad guys," the thief chortled. "I *so* believe that," he said sarcastically. "Let me see, if you're a killer, then he's a hacker, right?" he asked, pointing at Ray. "And that one," he pointed at Oz, "is the reformed cop? Then what are you, sparky?" he asked Methos.

"Got it wrong," Xander told him. "He's the cop," he nodded at Ray, "I'm the bodyguard, and he's the hacker," he nodded at Oz. "Adam's just the lucky guy who's teaching me how to make my own daggers."

"Hmm, I really could get to like you," the thief said, leaning down to look at Xander's nude body. "What'd you do to yourself?" he asked, pointing at the tattoo under Xander's pubic hair.

"That was another stupid fucker who kidnaped me," Xander said dryly. "He's dead now. Wanna join him?"

"Nah, I think I'll wait for death." He unhitched Oz's right hand. "One at a time you may go to the bathroom. It'd be a shame to harm that gorgeous antique bed." He released Oz and walked him into the bathroom at knife point, kicking the door closed and locking it behind them in case anyone got free.

"Fucker," Xander muttered, working both of his ankles free, then starting on one wrist before the bathroom doorknob jiggled. "Let it get stuck this time," he muttered, needing just a second more to get free. Unfortunately, the doorknob wasn't cooperating today. He was released next, after Oz had been put back, and the thief didn't say anything about him being partially undone until they were in the bathroom alone.

"I'll let your honeys live if you blow me," he told Xander.

"Who says *you're* going to live through this?" Xander asked, looking him over. "I've taken out warlords that were tougher than you."

"Warlords?" the guy laughed.

"Yup, as in guys with swords," Xander said, pulling Oz's hidden one out and moving in on the bastard. "Get out of my house," he hissed, taking a practice swing at the guy to see how good he was. He got a long cut across his stomach for it and shrugged, lunging at the guy. After all, a sword was just a much longer knife and it could do just as much damage. He looked down at his stomach and groaned but shrugged it off as he opened the door. "Spitted him," he said, coming over to release his lovers. "Go call the cops?" he asked Ray.

"Nah, they won't like this."

"Pure self-defense," Oz noted.

"They won't like it; there's a new Captain and he hates you guys," Ray warned them.

"Do it anyway," Methos ordered gently, rubbing Ray's wrists for him. "I'll go check on Samantha and General Hammond." He got up and followed Ray out of the bedroom, watching as his mate went up to get the nearest phone. For whatever reason, Oz hated phones in his bedroom. He checked on Sam first, waking her up and checking the lump on the back of her head for her. "It's all right," he said quietly. "Just a small knot."

"Concussion," she slurred, letting her head thump back down as soon as he released it. "Need Janet."

"I know. We'll get her called to the hospital," he said kindly. He covered her and went to check on the General, who was in about the same condition. By the time he was done, Oz had handed him a robe and the police were pulling up outside. "How's Xander's stomach?" he asked Oz.

"Not healed yet." Oz got out of the way of the running cops, hoping that the illusion spell worked as well for Ray as it did for him. He waved at the detective as he strolled past. "Xander got him when he untied him to go to the bathroom," he told the older man.

The detective walked up to them, looking Oz over. "You look decent for a dead man. Got any idea what happened to Kowalski?"

"No. I was home that night and you guys know that. Oh, and our friends, who are military, are injured too." He pointed at the two doors.

"Concussions, both of them," Methos agreed.

"Fine, we'll get someone up here to see them."

"Sir, a sword," one of the uniforms called out.

"Oh, really?" the detective said, smirking at them. "Why would you have a sword in the bedroom?"

"Because Xander's into learning how to use them and he leaves them everywhere," Oz said quietly. He knew this type and he really didn't want to be arrested today. It would kill his whole day. "The one he used was in the bathroom, not the bedroom."

"Really?" the detective repeated, going to look at the crime scene.

Oz got out of the paramedics way, nodding at the two doors. "Both are concussed. Xander's got a minor cut on his stomach that a bandage will do."

"No it won't," Ray called. He jogged out. "That cut was *way* worse than it seemed."

One of Oz's eyebrows went up but he accepted that statement. "Then maybe they should split up. I'm going to check on the animals. *Greg*, you stay with Xander for me?"

"Sure," Ray said, grinning at him. "Anything for you, Oz." He walked back into the bedroom, going to sit beside Xander while he was looked at.

Methos opened the door for the paramedic going to check on Sam. "She's military," he told the young man. "Works out of Colorado."

"Do you know her base's number? Or her CO?"

"He's the other person that was hurt. They were up here to talk to Xander about a project of his." He got out of their way and headed in to check on Xander, but the cops pushed him out of the room. "I'd like to get my clothes if you wouldn't mind. I was wearing some while we were talking, before we fell asleep last night." He was let in but only allowed to touch the pile of clothing. "Ray, get him dressed." The cops all looked at him and he realized his mistake. "I'm sorry, Greg, but all these officers reminded me of him."

"No big, I understand," Greg said, giving him a smile. "Don't worry, I'll get the Xanny dressed."

"He *hates* that name," Methos warned as he walked out, heading back to his own room. He got dressed quickly and reappeared in the hall as they were leading Xander away. "Is he under arrest for protecting himself?" he asked in shock. "Even the legal system in this odd town doesn't punish people for protecting themselves from assault or deny them medical attention."

The detective pushed Methos away from Xander. "Unless you want to join him in the jail, I'd stay put," he warned.

"Then you'd best arrest me too because I will see you in Hell before you harm that boy." He grabbed Xander and sat him down, looking at the wound on his stomach. "I need bandages," he told the closest paramedic.

"Do you have medical training?" the paramedic asked as he handed a roll of gauze and a few sterile packs of bandage pads over.

"Yes, I trained as a doctor but I never took my final boards." He quickly bandaged Xander's stomach wound and helped him back up. "Are you taking the other two also?"

"Just to be examined," the paramedic said, giving him a smile. "I remember you. You were helping that older woman when she had the coronary."

"That's Henri," Xander mumbled, still trying to hold onto his stomach. "She's better now. She'll be back soon."

"Xander," Oz said, rushing up the stairs. "You're taking him over your dead body," he threatened the detective. "He protected himself and us."

"The thief isn't dead," Xander told him, giving him a hug. "He just told them that I attacked him without reason."

Oz snorted. "Sure. After he came in, knocked everyone out, tied us to the bed, and threatened to kidnap and rape you? And *you're* the bad guy?"

"He never said anything about that," the detective said, looking behind him at the man being wheeled out. "He said this is his house."

"We *bought* this house," Oz told him, looking him over. "Get out of my house or get another officer." The detective laughed. "Fine. Xander?"

"Too weak," Xander mumbled, resting more and more on his Oz's shoulder. "Bleeding?"

"Yeah, you are," Ray said, coming out to help Xander onto the bed. "Um, guys, he's still bleeding." That brought the paramedics running and they got him situated.

The detective looked at Oz. "He goes nowhere without one of us until this is straightened out."

"Hey, all fine and good, you can come to LA with all of us then." He looked down at Xander as he was wheeled out. "We want everyone taken to LA."

"The military people said to go to the town hospital, that their doctor was in town still."

"Janet?" Xander asked, reaching up. "I like her."

"Yeah, that's fine, we'll go where they go. She's treated Xander before," Oz agreed, walking out beside the stretcher.

Ray thoughtfully went to grab Oz some clothes so he was wearing more than a robe when they got to the hospital. If he could have, he would have stomped the arrogant bastard who was filling in for him. Actually, if he had known this was who was going to take his job, he wouldn't have retired so soon, no matter how many looks he got for not aging.


Xander blinked up at the bright light as the nurse worked on his shrinking stomach wound. "Will I have another scar?" he asked her.

"Maybe," she said shortly. She tied the last knot and looked up at him. "He threatened you that bad?"

"I've been kidnaped before. I'm not going through it again," he told her. "We've always handled it before because the cops are nasty, bigoted assholes. This time wasn't any different." She just nodded and walked away, letting in a second man, presumably a detective. Xander waved at him. "Arrest me and I'll gladly tell everyone exactly what it's like to be kidnaped," he told the younger man. Or at least the guy looked younger than Xander's actual age. The cop just smiled. "I'm not under arrest?" he asked hopefully.

"I didn't say that," the detective said, pulling a chair over to sit next to him. "I'm here to take a statement."

"Oh. All right. Can I roll onto my side? I burned my ass last night." The detective looked a little confused but helped him onto his side. "Thanks. What do you want to know? Starting from when we all woke up tied side-by-side on the bed, or when he started to let us go one by one into the bathroom?"

"Let's start with before that. Who're your two guests?"

"They're friends. I've figured out something else to do with a metal I discovered. The female is also a scientist and she came over to check what I had found."

"All right. And her CO?"

"He's a friend too," Xander sighed, pulling the pillow up onto his arm so he could rest on it. "We've known him for over a year."

"And which base do they work on?" When an answer wasn't forthcoming, he looked up from his writing. "So we can notify them?"

"Oz probably already has," Xander told him. "Their doctor treated me when I was exposed to a chemical this year. We've got her number on file."

"You rated medical attention from the military?" he asked, looking Xander over.

"Yup. The doctor was studying it. So I got treated for the burns I got when I was exposed."

"Oh. I see. So, they were over to look at your newest finding? Maybe to verify?"

"I think Sam, the female, was looking for a way around a problem I had experienced. I found it tends to overheat motors and make them run at a higher rate. Hence, me burning myself last night." The detective's mouth opened but he shut it quickly. "Yeah, that way." He blinked a few times. "Anyway, after I got out of my bath last night, our friends curled up to talk for a while and we fell asleep. They were wearing clothes as far as I remember, but none of us were this morning. And the thief knew Sam was military, he had her uniform jacket."

"I see. So he probably searched the house?" Xander shrugged. "Do you think he found your safe?"

"I doubt it. I forget where Oz put the safe some days. I let him handle that stuff now. I just sew, write, and work at my forge." He shrugged again. "Anyway, we woke up already tied up, and lying beside each other. Which isn't normal. I always wake up either on top of or under my husband. I'm a cuddler." He blinked at the blush he was getting. "Sorry. Anyway, we woke up tied up, and the guy was searching the bathroom."

"Where was the sword?"

"Hidden in the potted plant next to the shower. There's a holder in that one and in the one in the living room. I'm a very good swordsman."

"Then how did you get your stomach wound?"

"Easy, I was checking to see how good he was before I speared him. I didn't want to have to do anything more complicated than spear him, so I did a minor lunge and he fell for it. I got hurt a little and he ended up stuck to the door."

"I heard you tell the nurse you've been kidnaped before?" the detective asked.

"Yup, a few times," Xander said dryly. "Mostly, I've been taken back pretty quickly by Oz or someone who was watching out for me. A few times I've had to rescue myself. This time, I got pissed and I rescued myself after he told me that he was willing to take me too."

"Oh." The detective wrote something down. "How awake were you?"

"I'm a trained fighter if that's what you're asking," Xander told him. The detective nodded. "I've had to do some bodyguarding work for Oz in the past. Adding sword work came later, but I've been able to fight for a very long time."

"So you *could* have knocked him out but you chose a more lethal form of attack?"

"No, I chose one that wasn't lethal. I hit him in the intestines but away from where most everyone has their arteries. This way, he wouldn't be conscious but it wasn't a fatal wound." He sniffed. "I thought I was being decent. After all, how was I to know how many more friends he had in the house? The other detective let it slip that he had locked the door of our animals' room so he didn't have to deal with them, there could have been many more and I wouldn't have had any warning."

"You didn't trick that information out of him?"

"Didn't even try. I figured they'd come running at his screams and I'd deal with them then, on my own terms. There's too many places to hide in my house." He yawned. "Am I under arrest? If not, I'd really like to go home. I need to call our security advisor, she's a former thief herself."

"What's her name?"


"Blonde, tight body?" the detective asked.

Xander nodded. "Yup, that's her. She's an old friend of my Oz's. She comes over and tests our systems for us. I need her to check our alarm system, I know I set it last night."

"I see," the detective said, standing up. "Wait here, Mr. Harris, while we figure out what to do with you." He walked out.

Xander relaxed, listening to the not-very busy emergency room around him. When the original detective came in fifteen minutes later, he was more than ready to go home and nap. "Can I go now?"

"I have to take your statement," he said bitterly.

"But the other cop just did."

"What other cop? Sunnydale only has one detective again," he said, sitting down in the chair.

"The guy sat in that same chair, with the same little notebook, but with better taste in clothes, and took my statement. He was just here a few minutes ago."

The detective got up and went out of the room for a moment, then came back. "We're going to find him. Now, tell me what you think you were doing," he ordered as he sat down.

"I've been kidnaped sixty three times in my life," Xander said wearily, ignoring the look he was getting, "that required me to be saved beyond just taking me back. It wasn't going to happen again, and the thief said he was going to take me." Xander shrugged. "It wasn't going to happen again."

"Were there reports made?" the detective asked.

Xander snorted. "Why would we do that? Most cops are bigoted assholes who don't give a damn because I'm gay, so therefore I deserve it on some level of their thinking. No, I'm a trained bodyguard and my husband is more than trained enough to help me get free. We've always taken care of it ourselves."

"Except for that one time," Ray said as he walked into the cubicle, the illusion spell gone. Xander gave him a worried look. "Don't say anything," he warned. "Philips, you're an ass, but Xander's correct, he has been kidnaped and nearly raped before. He wasn't going to let it happen again."

"And where the hell have you been?" Philips asked loudly.

"Safe. There's someone after me and the Captain knew. He arranged for me to disappear." He shut the curtain behind him. He came over and gave Xander a hug. "How you holdin' up?" he asked quietly.

"I ache," Xander admitted. "At least because of the burn. Oh, and the other guy that was in here, the detective said he didn't know him."

"That's okay, he was caught on the security cameras and by Oz, who stopped him to talk to him. We're pretty sure he's an accomplice." He looked at the still-shocked detective. "Give it up, Philips, this is a clear cut case of self defense. I was one of the people tied to the bed and the guy did threaten to kidnap the kid." He stood up and stared the asshole down. "Anything else you wanted to know, take it up with me later. You know where we'll be." He helped Xander off the bed and out of the room, taking him to Oz. "Come on, we've got to go home. Now."

Methos helped Ray into his jacket and led the way out to the car so they could go home.

"Guys, I mentioned Amanda's name," Xander said once they were in the car. "I called her our security advisor."

"She'll be up tonight," Oz promised. "She's put the word out that we are not to be robbed unless someone's really desperate to come up against her."

"She's probably already on her way here," Methos said gently, cradling Xander to him. "Home, Oz. Before someone starts to ask questions."

"I, um," Ray said as they pulled out of the parking lot, turning away from the window so anyone would have a harder time realizing it was him, "told Philips that the Captain had helped me disappear because someone was after me." Methos gave him a bland look. "That was the cover story we made up in case anyone caught on."

"All right then, we'll deal with that part when we get home," Methos agreed. "Oz, why are we stopping?"

"We're out of ice cream and pain killers," Oz said, getting out and running into the convenience store.

"He spoils me," Xander mumbled. "And I ache." He looked up at Methos. "Do we have any of the waterproof bandages? My ass hurts."

"We'll figure out a way for you to take a bath as soon as we get home," he promised. "Ray, perchance, did you hear anything about Samantha?"

"She's fine. Janet was in town and she came down to get them. And Jack and Danny are in town, so's Blair. They've all got meetings with some scientists this week because'a somewhere they went. They're doing the whole brain picking routine."

"So, we may run into military personnel as soon as we go through the gate?" Oz asked as he slid in, handing Ray the paper bag.

"Maybe," Ray agreed. He looked down inside and grabbed the soda. "Thanks, Oz."

"Welcome. Figured you could use a caffeine rush right about now." He pulled out and headed for the house. He was not amused when they got there and the military officer tried to stop them from going in. "This is *my* house!" Oz said firmly. "Get out of my way or I'm going to run your stupid ass over."

"Stand down!" Blair called, running down. "Hey, guys." He leaned in the window. "We're just making sure the house is secure. General Hammond said so."

"Get the assholes off our property or I'm going to hurt them," Oz said calmly, gripping the steering wheel.

"Blair, we don't need bodyguards," Xander said from the backseat. "Send them home and you guys stay." Blair nodded and stepped back so they could head up to the house. "If someone *touched* one of my animals, I'm going to start screaming," he warned as he got out, supported by Ray.

"Hey, I'm all for that," Ray agreed, helping Xander into the house and down to the animals' room so they could check on the furries. "I'd move," he warned.

"We were told to keep the animals under control," the guard said, looking over Xander's skimpy outfit with a sneer. At least he was until he found himself on the ground with his gun at his throat.

"Out of my house," Xander said clearly. "Or I'm going to open fire. And tell your commander I said so!" He tossed the gun away and opened the door, going in to soothe his animals, the only thing as important to him as Oz was.

Ray went looking for the commander, finding Mayfield in the office. "I don't remember seein' anything that said the military had the right to take over a house without a warrant after a breakin," he said, walking in and slamming the door. "Xander and Oz have both told your men to leave." Mayfield opened his mouth. "And Blair's calling to get Hammond's okay on this. But what your men have done is going to get them killed. Xander's not very stable at the moment because the guy tried to kidnap him as well as rob the house."

"How do you explain Mr. Harris having a stash of classified materials?" Mayfield asked, waving a hand at the energy metal he had had brought into the office.

"Gee, it's his?" Ray said snidely. "He found it. He's the one who gave it to you jackasses." He leaned against the door, locking it because he heard footsteps. "I'd leave and take nothing with you."

"Open up," Jack called.

Ray opened the door. "We want them gone and we want them to not take anything with them," he told Jack. "Xander's ready to kill for this invasion."

"Hammond's agreed and the things that have already disappeared are going to be coming back within a few minutes." Jack looked Mayfield over. "This isn't what General Hammond said, and since he's got the Joint Chiefs on the line at the moment, I'd high-tail it back to the base before you become a private again. He was...furious doesn't *quite* state how bad of a mood you put in him into by taking over this house." He watched as Mayfield got up and walked out, trying to look dignified.

"Search him," Ray ground out. "He's claiming this metal's classified."

"It is, but we're not taking it from the people who already know about it." Jack patted him on the shoulder. "Danny's with Xander and the animals, and there's some woman here to see you? Perky blonde lady with a cynical attitude."

"That would be Amanda," Methos said as he walked in. "Has the jackass gone?"

"Yup, with some of the metal," Ray noted.

"We'll get that back too," Jack promised, going to do a turn through the house, just to make sure.

Amanda walked in a few minutes later, watching as the military personnel were being carted off by the local base's personnel. "My, what a nice surprise," she said, looking around the house. "I don't believe I missed this the last time I was here."

"You were in grief and shock the last time you were here," Oz noted as he walked out to greet her. "Did they take anything?"

"Not that's been noted. Though, I did hear something odd about some of Xander's work being given away to certain military leaders as a reward for good service?"

Oz shrugged. "We'll straighten that out too. We've got a friend there now. And a student." He led her into the living room, where Xander and Ray were napping together, and Methos was watching over them. "Here we go, want a water?"

"Please," she said, smiling at him. She looked down as she felt something run across her boot, frowning at the little rodent. "Since when did you start raising big mice?"

"Ferrets," Methos corrected. "That one's a lot like you, likes to run and hide from the people looking for him."

She chuckled as she picked the baby ferret up, petting it gently. "Well, you're pretty," she admitted. "But are you sneaky?"

"Oh, yeah," Xander said, opening his eyes. "We snuck into the bedroom last night and stole a sex toy from out of a locked chest."

"My, that is special," Amanda said.

"He's adoptable," Oz offered as he walked in with her bottle of water and a tray for everyone else. "Sorry, we've only been back an hour. Was everyone else leaving?"

"Most of them," Amanda agreed. "Why is the military in this?"

"Because two of our friends that are military were here and got conked," Ray told her. "The big guy of their unit's comin' down on them at the moment."

"Oh, Xander," Jack said as he walked in, dangling a large bag that said 'Property of United States Air Force', "guess what we found on Mayfield?"

"Besides the metal?" Ray asked.

"Oh, yeah," Jack said as he poured the pieces of jewelry onto the floor beside Xander.

"Hey, that's mine," Ray said, picking up the nipple ring he had taken out yesterday due to being sore from Xander playing with it. He carefully slid it back into place and smiled when he felt the familiar weight of it bumping into him. "That's better."

"The others were the pieces I was working on," Xander said calmly. "Oz, can you do a count?"

"Sure. Give me a few," he said, taking a bite of his sandwich. "Was this the stuff that was in your office for the showing?"

"Yup," Xander said grimly. "And that's not all that was in there, but the rest was under the chair. Oh, and light the candles?"

"I will," Methos said, going in that direction to look for the other pieces of jewelry and to say a quick prayer in thanks for saving them all. He started to light the black candle, but he couldn't find the wick. "What on Earth?" he muttered, sitting down to look at it. "Strife?" he whispered. "Please, I could use an explanation."

Cupid appeared and glared down at him. "Strife's kinda pissed at the moment. He thinks Xander doesn't love him. He didn't light a candle yesterday until late."

"He was having his itching problem fixed yesterday and forgot about it before he left. He was complaining about it on the way there, Oz said," Methos told him. "As for today, we've gotten a little involved in the latest kidnaping and robbery attempt. We've just gotten back from the hospital and gotten rid of most of the military assholes."

Cupid shrugged. "I'll go talk to him, but he's not a happy camper. Light mine though."

"Xander sent me in here to light them while he said the prayer. Oz isn't letting him off the couch until his stomach heals a bit more."

"He got hurt?"

"Just a little," Oz said from the doorway, walking in and closing the door, and narrowly missing walking into the wings too. "He had to have a few stitches. Not that bad of a wound, but bad enough. And no, I'm not letting him off the couch, but he did feel Strife being pissed at him. He's presently trying to reason with him via prayers."

"That won't work," Cupid sighed.

"Strife!" floated down the hall, making both immortals run for the living room. They found Xander holding Strife tightly, quietly sobbing on him.

"Shh," Oz said, coming over to hold his lover. "I know, you're upset because of what you had to do." Strife glared at him. "He's not?"

"No, he is. Why didn' on'a'ya do it?"

"Because Xander was the only one not tied to the bed," Ray told him.

"Oz was up."

"I was too closely watched and I still couldn't have gotten him. He spent the whole time I was in there rubbing against the crack of my ass." Xander looked up at him. "I'm okay," he told his husband, sitting down to hold him. "He didn't do more than rub and make disgusting comments. I just couldn't get to the sword and not get caught." He pulled Xander into his arms. "If I could have, I would have killed him myself to save you the trouble," he whispered, trying to calm Xander down. He knew how much his husband hated having to hurt people, even when it was necessary. This holding and crying was the usual activity after a fight where Xander had to defend himself. "He's still living," he murmured against the long hair. "I promise, if he's dead it's because of the doctors, not you." Xander nodded, balling the shirt under his face into his fist. "Are we right with you again?" he asked Strife snidely. "Just because he forgets to light the candles doesn't mean he's leaving you."

Methos put a hand on Oz's shoulder. "Strife's not the most highly worshiped God," he reminded Oz. "He has a right to feel anxious if Xander's not paying the proper attention to him."

Strife glared at them both. "I wanted Xander to call me himself so I could talk to him. I'm not pissed at him, no matter what Flyboy over there said." He glared at Cupid. "How could I be mad at Xander? He's one'a mine." He stood up, stroking over the back of Xander's head. "Relax. The guy's okay. You're gettin' everything back in a while, and we'll talk when all the old guys are gone." That got a faint smile. "Wanna go talk to me now?" he offered. Xander nodded and held out a hand, and they disappeared.

Xander came back a few minutes later to find everyone sitting and waiting on him. "He said Sam's gotten more into Athena recently," he told Methos. "And he said that I'm still the most cherished of all your things." That got a smile. "Oh, and Ray? He said that it's easy enough to prove. He'll do that for you. He said you'd understand."

"Strife doesn't do anything without a reason," Oz said, looking worried.

"He likes me," Xander reminded him. "He said I reminded him of one of his kids way back when you were a little boy." He grinned at his husband, leaning over to grab a light kiss. "And he told me to go take a long, hot bath to ease the ache I have from the burn. He said it's all taken care of." He stood up, swaying lightly until Ray caught him. "Thanks, babe."

"Welcome," Ray said, walking away with Xander, heading up to their room. "He really didn't want anything?"

"Nah," Xander said, leaning closer. "He said it was my birthday prezzie from him." He kissed Ray on the cheek. "That and the good pain killers," he sighed as he sank down onto the bed and started to snore.

Ray shook his head and took off Xander's shoes so he could cover him up.


Cupid popped in behind Strife and slapped him across the back of the head. "What are you doing?" he asked. "You're doing *favors* for the anchor?"

"He's one'a mine," Strife defended. "And besides, it's a belated birthday prezzie for him. I shoulda done this a while ago, but now Xander's more immune from police interference. That's all," he said with a one-sided shrug. "He was being watched too closely for him ta do what's natural to him."

"Uh-huh. You going to explain this to Pop?"

"Sure," Strife sighed, waving a hand to open a portal. "Hey, Unk, I guarded the anchor and gave him a belated birthday prezzie by making him immune from the cops. Him and Ray both because Ray asked for it to be like that. Good enough?"

"That fits in perfectly with my plans," Ares agreed, smiling at them. "How is he? He's got to be shaken up after almost killing the guy today."

"He is," Strife agreed. "I held him for a few until Oz came back from discussin' things with Cupid." He thumbed in Cupid's direction. "And I fixed the candle situation. I told him to make a prayer, he didn't have to light one up anymore."

"Good," Ares praised, smiling at them. "Any luck on having Heph visit him again?"

"Nah, Hephie said that Xander didn't need him as a teacher anymore," Cupid said with a shrug. "He said he's got the knowledge of how to work with the stronger stuff, but that the guy won't be making weapons."

"Just what I anticipated," Ares said gleefully, getting comfortable on his throne. "Any big surprises?"

"Just that the one chick took the hint and headed for 'Thena," Cupid said sullenly.

"Hey, it's good for what she is," Strife said, nudging him. "Doesn't mean that she won't come to you for stuff. A virgin she ain't." He grinned at his Uncle. "Anything else you wanted done?"

"Nope, that's about it. Just make sure that Oz and Methos don't overreact to Xander's present. I really don't want to have to watch them separate."

"Oh, they won't," Cupid promised. "I helped Jace with the wedding. They're bound too tightly for that." Ares looked at him in shock. "What? They deserved it and they're good like this. Now, when Xander hits his own space again, *then* we'll have to worry about what he brings with him."

"I'm sure they'll do their damnedest to bring us up there with them," Ares said, banishing the mirror.

"Think it'll be a garden?" Strife asked, walking beside Cupid off into the ether.

"Nah, Xan's not like that. Maybe less sculpted. He's got a long time to plan, but he doesn't like planned gardens."

"So a forest?"

"Yeah, that'd be my guess," Cupid agreed, wrapping an arm around Strife's shoulders as they disappeared.


Xander looked up from his comfy writing chair, giving Ray a weak grin. "Hey. Are the military guys pissed that I lost it?"

"Nah," Ray said, coming in to sit next to him in the overstuffed chair. "No one's pissed except Hammond, and he's pissed at Mayfield. Danny said everyone's good about that day as long as you don't wanna press charges."

"I got it all back and Mayfield was taken care of," Xander noted. "Did Daniel say why he needed a sword to go to this next planet?"

"Yup, seems they're like knights. Methos is doing intensive drills with him today so he can hold his own." Ray nuzzzled Xander's neck. "How you feelin'?"

"Better. My hole doesn't hurt anymore," he said, putting aside his laptop so they could cuddle. "I'm gonna miss this if we move apart."

"Me too," Ray said, nuzzling some more. "Maybe we can convince the guys that we need ta compromise."

"I've been thinking," Xander whispered, pulling Ray into his lap. "How about we do what Meth does and have a few smaller houses?"

"Sounds great to me," Ray noted, stealing a kiss. "Flagstaff?"

"Sure. South Beach Miami?"

"The Gay Mecca?" Ray asked, pulling back to look at his lover. "You wanna move there?"

"Yeah, it's a huge city. It's warm, it's got some great atmosphere. And yeah, I know about the bugs, but I could sit down there and design jewelry for the drag queens."

"Huh," Ray said, then leaned in for another kiss. "I can accept that. Meth still has his apartments in Paris and London. And we've still got the building in Chicago."

"Hmm," Xander hummed. "House in Vermont."

"So, where else?"


Ray laughed and tickled Xander lightly, arousing him. "Sure. I'd like that. Montreal, Ottawa, or Vancouver?"

"Um, all of the above?" Xander squealed when Ray's tickling picked up. "Vancouver! So we can watch the shows tape!" he panted, using his hands to stroke down Ray's ticklish sides.

"Sure," Ray said, leaning in to latch on to the side of Xander's neck so he could suck and lick at the tender skin. "Now all we gotta do is convince the old guys."

"I can do that," Xander said with a naughty grin. He stood up, carrying Ray over to the soft couch, laying him down. "So, what can I do with you that will make you scream and bring them running?" he asked, looking over the bare chest. "I know." He leaned down and sucked in the nipple ring, tugging and sucking on it until Ray screamed as he came.

"What's going on?" Methos asked. He smiled at the picture his Ray made, limply spread out on the couch.

Xander let go of Ray's nipple ring and slid over to where Methos was standing, wrapping himself around the older immortal. "Ray and I decided where we want to live. We're going to do what you do." He kissed his friend, pulling his head down so they could become more involved. "We want to do the whole 'house in a few different places' thing."

"Where?" Methos panted, trying to get away from the hand that was stroking over his hard cock.

"Flagstaff, South Beach, maybe Vancouver and somewhere else on the East Coast in a small city."

Methos nodded, swallowing as the warm mouth moved down to pleasure his body. "All right," he agreed when his cock was freed and swallowed. "I can agree with that. What else?" he squeaked as pressure was applied to his cock. Xander knew just what he liked.

"Help me convince Oz?" Xander whispered, pulling back to just lick at the tip. "He hates to spend money." He looked up and caught his friend's eye as he swallowed him again.

Methos groaned and wound his hands into the soft hair, holding him in place as he gently used the mouth to get himself off. "Definitely," he ground out after he came.

"Thank you," Xander said, getting up to give him a kiss. "Wanna go jump on the Oz?"

"He's outside," Methos panted, "but I need a rest." He walked in and sat on the couch under Ray's feet, smiling at his lover. "You wore him out that simply?"

"No, I wore him out earlier," Xander said smugly. "I'm working on keeping him in that state today." He giggled and ran out of the room, heading for his Oz to convince him too.

Methos smiled as he heard Oz's scream of 'Yes', pulling Ray up to cuddle with him. "Did you like his idea?" he asked his lover.

"Yup," Ray said through a yawn. He mashed his face against Methos' chest, trying to go back to sleep. "Like Vancouver."

Methos groaned but he knew he couldn't refuse Ray anything. He was much too attached to his young lover to refuse him anything.


Oz looked at the building suggestions Xander had made, shaking his head at a few of them. "Why separate but connected condos in South Beach?" he asked his husband.

"Because we can put an adjoining door between them," Xander said reasonably. "This way, they can come over if they want, or they can have their own space."

"Okay. And the renovated apartment building in Flagstaff?"

"Well, it'll have enough room for all of us and the bottom apartments would be good for college students."

"Point," Oz conceded, "but owning an apartment building means that you have to follow some rules and regs."

"So? We can hire someone to do that, give them free apartment space."

"A college student?"

"Sure," Xander said happily. "I think that'd be a great trade off. Maybe include a small salary too."

"Okay," Oz sighed, tabling that discussion for now. "What about Vancouver?"

"Ray wanted that one."

"Oh." Oz looked at the building Ray had picked out, shrugging it off. "It's nice," he noted.

"And we can split everything," Xander offered. "And I was thinking about...."

"Later," Oz said quietly. "4 houses are enough."

"Okay," Xander said, starting to pout.

"What?" Oz sighed, tossing down his pen.

"I was thinking about having a safe house in a small town, one of the little ones where no one would ever think to look for us."

"I can see that, but we've got the house in Vermont for that," Oz reminded him.

"But I want to live there too."

"Okay," Oz said, gathering his thoughts as he looked at the list of buildings. "Some of these are going to take some time to renovate."

"And we'll still need Henri to help us find a new housekeeper."

"Good point. Because we need one now," Oz said with a grimace toward his bookshelves. "Did you talk to her?"

"Yup, and she's got an idea about who to ask but she won't be able to find them for a few more weeks."

"She's coming back when?"

"Tomorrow," Xander said happily. "I'm going to spend most of this afternoon cleaning."

"Good." Oz stood up and came over to give him a kiss. "Go do that while I think about these choices and see if there's something better suited that won't take as much work." He patted the firm rear as it turned away from him and left his office. He sat back down behind his desk and looked at the long list of possible places the boys had found for them, shuddering at a few of them. "South Beach? It's got big, flying roaches, guys," he muttered.


Xander looked at the buildings Oz had found online, looking at the printouts of the pictures. "I like this one," he said finally, handing one over for Florida. "And this one," he said, handing over the next one too. He tossed the last one away so he wouldn't have to look at it ever again. He came to the grouping for Flagstaff and smiled as the first one caught and held his interest. He casually flipped through the rest, but none of them caught his interest the way the commercial building had. He went to the ones for Memphis, their agreed upon safe house location, smiling at the small houses. "We're getting something suburban there?" he asked, holding up one of the pictures.

"It's better camouflage," Oz told him. "All of them are four bedroom houses. Enough space for us."

"Okay," Xander agreed, tossing down the pictures. "They're all so boring," he complained. "Anything more architecturally stimulating?"

"One," Oz agreed, turning his monitor around to show his husband. "It's more upscale than a safe house should be, but I thought it was nice."

Xander leaned closer, reading off the screen. "I like," he said finally. "Can we tour that one too?"

"Sure. We'll take a weekend in each spot to scan the area and check out the houses we like." He leaned back in his chair. "You're sure you want to do it this way? You don't like the whole moving process."

"But we can decorate each house and just bring the personal stuff, like the animals."

"Point," Oz agreed. "And we don't really need another manor house."

"Yup," Xander said, looking around the room. "But Giles is gonna be pissed."

"Not really. He's got the big space in Las Vegas for his stuff. And we're coming back here."

"Point," Xander said happily. He looked around the house. "I don't want to leave," he said suddenly.

"Me either," Oz agreed, reaching over to pat Xander's arm. "Can we agree on one to two houses to get away in and let Ray and Meth have theirs? Maybe spend a few months out of the year in South Beach?"

"Sure," Xander said, starting to get happier again. "I like that idea best. Are there ways of hiding the fact that we're up here?"

"A few," Oz agreed. "One of them is not using the gate through the housing community. Another is getting groceries delivered from somewhere and limiting our contact with the outside world."

"We already do that," Xander said, rolling his eyes. "I don't think that we go out except to go visit Henri and go shopping." He grinned at Ray as he walked in. "Do you think the average person in Sunnydale thinks that we still live here?"

"Yup. Remember, whenever you call the cops, it makes it to the papers." He put the paper down in front of Xander, watching as he read it. "That okay with you or do you want to call them and make a statement?"

"I think it's okay," Xander said, pushing it over for Oz to read. "But I could clarify what the cops said."

"Maybe ya oughta," Ray advised from the doorway. "The press can be really vicious when the cops make statements like that."

"We'll call someone up to talk to them," Oz said, reaching for the phone and the phone book. He smiled when he saw the editorial number on the next page, using that instead. "Hi, this is Xander Harris' assistant and he'd like to counter what the stupid cops said?" He chuckled. "Definitely. A one-on-one would be fine with him. That would be fine also. Thank you." He hung up. "Thirty minutes so it can make tomorrow's paper. I'd get dressed," he warned Xander and Ray, who were both wearing dance pants.

Xander stood up and took Ray's hand. "You and he have got to hide anyway," he reminded his husband, but he drew Ray upstairs with him to pick out something to wear.

Oz shut down his computer and got up, going to find something to do that wouldn't jeopardize his supposed death a few years back.


Xander sat down across from the reporter, giving her a smile. "You were in the class after ours," he said, looking the young woman over. She nodded, putting down her glass of tea. "Sorry, our housekeeper won't be back until tomorrow. I'm trying to keep the house going but I can't cook."

She smiled. "I can understand that, the microwave is my chef." She pulled out a tape recorder. "So, are you ready?"

"Sure. Ask away."

"How about a blanket statement."

"I was about to be kidnaped. The thief had been leering at me and had told me that he was going to take me along with our valuables. I simply protected myself and my friends in the least lethal way I knew how."

"By putting a sword through his stomach and pinning him to the door like an insect?" she asked.

"I aimed away from his major arteries and organs on purpose. I wanted him to stand trial for what he'd done, but I wasn't willing to kill him."

"What about the military presence that was reported up here later that day?" she asked.

"One of the friends that was spending the night was military. She was here to look at what I had discovered. Did you see the Society for Intergalactic Research's last media announcement?" She shook her head so Xander pointed at the framed paper on the wall. "I figured out a mix metal that's an energy source. It burns on the long-term and takes forever to get rid of scale." She got up to read the article, then sat back down looking confused. "I found the first piece and then figured out to make it, so I shared it."

"What about the original person who made it?"

"They gave me their permission," he lied easily. A tale of going across realms was not going to hit the newspapers. "It's a family thing actually. Anyway, I figured out how to make it take the place of batteries, so she came up to look it over."

"And she got caught in the attack?"

"Yup. Nasty concussion. Her and the person she had brought with her."

"Yes, I was going to ask about him. Is that her fiancé or something?"

"No, he's a friend and colleague of hers. She brought him up to see what I had done too."

"All right." She smiled at him. "So, we've heard that you know something about Detective Kowalski's disappearance?" Xander shook his head. "But the report said he was here when the thief broke in."

"You need to talk to Ray's mate about that. Ray was my best friend and I refuse to say anything that might harm his memory in this town. His lover's in with the animals if you wanted to try and ask him anything," he offered.

"I might after we're done," she said with a smile. "So, you and the Detective were friends?"

"For a lot of years. Which is why I don't talk about what happened. It's not my place to do so."

She chuckled. "I can understand that." Her mouth fell open as Ray walked in and whispered something in Xander's ear. "Um, Detec..."

"Freeze," Ray said quietly, pointing at the machine. "Off." She turned it off and looked up at him. "There's someone looking for me."

"From a case?" she interrupted.

"Nah, from my old life while I was undercover. My Captain knew about this. He helped me disappear. I'd like to not be told about, 'kay?" He gave her a hopeful look.

"It was in the police report that you were there," she told him. "Detective Philips' report stated that he talked to you."

"Yeah, he's a fuck-for-brains," Ray said with a shrug. "Just quit askin' about me, okay? I'd like to be able to stay here for a few more years."

"Sure," she said, nodding. "Are you working on catching the person?"

"Nah, I'm avoiding them. Capturing them could create more problems than gettin' them is worth." He shrugged and grinned down at Xander. "You okay with that?"

"Sure," Xander said, grinning up at him. "My puppy's preggers."

"Huh?" she asked.

"One of the puppies that was in heat a few days ago isn't anymore," Ray told her.

"Ah, so you're breeding dogs now?"

"It's my baby," Xander said happily. "I'm gonna be a grandpa."

She laughed at that. "Good for you, Mr. Harris. If you're ready, we could get back to this?"

"Sure," he said, giving Ray a hug. "Go pet her for me?"

"I'll bring her in," he said, leaving them alone.

She turned back on the tape recorder once he had left. "Well, that is good news," she said. "Are you aware that there were a few other irregularities in Philips' report?"

"Nope, but I'm not surprised."

"He mentioned talking to your husband, Oz, also."

Xander's eyebrow went up. "Really?" he said quietly. "Do you doubt his sanity?"

"I have heard gossip that your husband is one of the odder people that seem to inhabit this town."

"No, *I'm* one of the odder people that inhabit this town," Xander told her. "I was doubting Detective Philips' professionalism before, because he tried to arrest me for defending my friends, but to say that he saw my Oz?" He coughed lightly. "Is he trying to suggest that we've lied about things to everyone?"

"That would be my guess," she offered.

The phone buzzed and Xander picked it up, listening to the calm voice on the other side telling him what to say. He hung up. "Sorry, that was Ray's mate. Listen," he said, leaning forward, "after Oz died, his cousin came to town to look at his programming stuff. He and I became very close friends. Yeah, there's quite a bit of resemblance, but he's not my Oz."

"Are you saying he lied?"

"No, I'm saying he never bothered to ask Oz's cousin who he was," Xander countered, looking his most hurt, "and I'm saying that I think the new Police Captain should have a talk with this detective about spreading stuff around. I think it's really unfair that the guy's spreading this crap around to hurt me on purpose." He stood up. "Want some more tea?" he offered.

"No, I think I've got enough." She gave him a hug. "I'm sure the Captain will straighten him out," she said quietly. "After all, most of us in town know what you've done for us." She caught site of something shiny on the front lawn. "What's that?" she asked innocently.

Xander looked outside and waved at the young woman walking through the portal. "That's my kinda-sister Elizabeth." He grinned at the reporter. "You haven't seen one of those before?" She shook her head. "Wow. Oh, well. Welcome to Sunnydale." He jogged out to go talk to Elizabeth, leaving her to pack her things and make her story.


Oz picked up the morning paper with trepidation, having seen Xander's name in the headline even though it was folded. He took a deep breath as he opened it, letting it out in relief when he saw what it said. "Xander Harris proclaims he was protecting himself, Detective whacked in the head," he read for Xander's benefit. "Interesting way of saying he's nuts."

"Well, I did say that the Captain needed to have a long discussion with him. Anything in there about you or Ray?"

"Let me check," Oz said, scanning the article. "Just that you refuted that I was Oz, that I was his cousin who he had left his programming business to, and that Detective Philips needed to have a discussion with the people who were in charge at the time of Ray's disappearance because, obviously, the old Captain hadn't cleared up the mystery of Ray's death for him."

"Oh." Xander shrugged. "Nice enough I guess."

"It is." Oz put the paper aside. "I'll give it to Ray later," he told his husband, who didn't look happy. "What's wrong?"

"Everyone thinks I'm mean now."

"No, they think that you're very well trained and that you defended all your friends and yourself," Oz countered. "That's what she said. Not even Philips can counter your own statement, one which you gave him and he never put into his report." He reached over to touch Xander's hand. "Why don't you think about going away for a few days? Just until the heat clears off?"

"Because that makes me look guilty and like I lied," Xander told him. "I can't leave and I can't run away from this. I've got to face what I did." He sighed, playing listlessly with his bowl of cereal. "And I didn't even get the house cleaned for Henri."

"That's okay," Ray said as he walked in, giving Xander a hug. "I'm sure she'll see that you tried." He took the paper and read through it, smiling at the note at the end. "Thanks to her, maybe everyone'll leave my disappearance alone now." He shared a look with Oz, who nodded. "Hey, Xander, wanna go help me look at houses?"

"On the computer?"

"Yup. We got a few e-tour offers from one of the reality companies."

"Sure," Xander said, getting up and heading for the office.

Ray grabbed his breakfast and followed after him, going to try and raise his friend's spirits.

Oz shook his head and finished his breakfast, trying to figure out what to do for the day if those two were hogging his computer. Maybe Amanda and Methos would let him help with Daniel.


Xander looked up as he felt someone walk into his room, giving the older man standing there a faint smile. "Hey, what's up?"

"Xander, I had no idea that you were this upset about having to save your family," General Hammond said, sitting down on the couch. "Wow, I need one of these in my office."

"I can give you the people's number," Xander offered. "And it's not that I didn't want to protect them; it's the whole news story thing that's been going on. I'm tired of having to play footsie with the cops through the paper." He put aside his magazine. "I should be doing something else, but I can't work because their crap is weighing on me."

"I can understand that," General Hammond said kindly. "Do you think this will keep going after they decide not to charge you?"

"In small towns, it's always there. I could be gone for twenty years and come back, and someone will mention it to my face." He popped his neck. "I don't know what to do. It's getting so I can't leave the house."

"So don't," the General suggested. "Come to the base and look at something Sam's working on."

"But then they'll know," Xander pointed out. "I'm not kidding, there's a cop following me every time I leave the house."

"So? At least there, you'll be protected from all this. And you may bring in the other three since they know."

"What did you need help with?"

"We were planning a diplomatic summit with some of the more minor system lords, but one of them was offended at the quality of our present." Xander snorted. "So, we'd like for you to come look at pictures of him and see what you can come up with."

"Sure," Xander said, standing up. "Let me go change."

"All right. I've got the car with me, so I'll take your Oz and Ray back with me, and you can drive the other guy. We need Doctor Jackson back anyway."

"All right," Xander said, giving him a brighter smile. "I'll go get dressed and be there in an hour." He walked out, going to tell Oz what was going on.

Ray leaned in, grinning at the General. "Thanks." He winked and jogged off, going to make sure the animals would be fine while they were gone.


Xander walked into the house and frowned at the alarm system. "It's off," he called, going to help search the house for whomever was in here. He found one single officer, the one who had been tormenting him, sitting in Oz's office, reading off his computer. "Get out!" he ordered. "Unless you have a warrant, you are not welcome here!" He crossed his arms, waiting for a response. The other man didn't look up. "Oz!" he yelled, wanting some backup. There was something seriously hellmouthy going on.

Oz walked in and over to his computer, shutting off the screen. The detective looked up at him and smirked. "What?" he asked snidely. "I'm a legitimate programmer."

"I'm sure you are. Same as I'm sure that you're Daniel Osbourne." He stood up and pulled out his gun. "But, if I tell anyone that, then I'm going to be in trouble." He smiled at Xander. "You've only left me one option."

"No," Xander said, lunging forward at the same time Oz did, both of them going for his gun hand. Neither one made it before he pointed it at himself and fired. Xander put pressure on the wound while Oz dialed for an ambulance. "Hurry, he's bleeding," he yelled.

"I am," Oz said, moving a little ways away from the man on the floor. "This is the Harris household. That cop that's been bothering us was waiting on us when we got home, and he just shot himself," he said quietly. "No, lower chest wound. Xander's putting pressure on it, but we need someone fast." He hung up and went to find Methos, who was waiting outside with Ray. "We need you," he told Methos, panting. "The asshole shot himself." Everyone ran for the office, going to help the officer.

"The bullet didn't hit anything most likely," Methos said after prying Xander off the detective. "Go sit," he ordered coldly, making Xander move.

"He did this because of me," Xander told him. "He said he was going to be in trouble if he said anything else." He curled up in the corner, rocking back and forth.

Oz grabbed Xander and pulled him up, shaking him. "Snap out of it," he ordered. "I need you to quit panicking, Xander."

"Yes, Oz," Xander said, looking at him. He looked over his shoulder at the paramedics. "He shot himself," he said, starting to sound hysterical again.

"Xander! Oz!" Amanda yelled as she ran in.

"Clear the room," the paramedics ordered. "Get him cleaned off," he told Oz, nodding at Xander's hands and wrists.

Oz let Amanda lead Xander out of the room and to the downstairs bathroom, then he forced Ray up and out of the room. "Are you okay?" he asked their friend.

"He's gonna be so screwed," Ray whispered, looking at the blood on his hands from trying to help his mate.

"I think he thought he already was," Oz noted, taking him to where he could hear Amanda trying to stop Xander from babbling. "Stop it," he said quietly as he closed the door. "The paramedics know now, it's going to get out anyway." Xander looked at him. "It wasn't your fault. The guy didn't give up."

"He wasn't supposed to," Ray reminded Oz.

"On the case, no, on finding out what was up with you and me, he was, Ray," Oz argued. "He wasn't supposed to go into super-spaz mode until he drove himself to this!"

"Calm down," Amanda said calmly. "Discuss this later, don't argue about it now." She shoved Xander toward the small sink. "Wash. Oz, help him. Ray, explain."

"It's about the guy Xander had to stab," Ray sighed. "The guy on the floor was the detective who wouldn't quit bothering Xander about Oz and me. And now, apparently, the department warned him off our case so he felt he had to shoot himself."

"All right," Amanda said, looking at the three people. "Where's Meth?"

"In there with the paramedics," Xander said, sounding a lot more calm now. "What do we do now?"

"Now, you make a report," Amanda told him. "And then you and Oz worry about leaving here sooner than you expected."

"We're already planning our next move," Oz told her. "This isn't going to drive us away." He looked at Xander, who nodded. "This is our house, he came here to violate our space. He's not going to win by driving us away." He held his hands out to Xander, who came over and clung to him. "We'll go face this together," he whispered to his husband. "Giles will come back tonight and help me move the office to one of the rooms we don't use." He walked Xander out, right into Methos' side. "Go clean up. They're both in there," he told his friend, watching in morbid fascination as the detective was wheeled out. He looked up at the cleared throat, finding the new Police Captain standing there. "He said it was our fault because he couldn't tell anyone about his theories without getting in trouble," Oz told him, leading Xander onto the back porch so there was no way he could see the ambulance. The Captain followed them and closed the door. "He was here when we got in," Oz told him. "He had turned off our alarm system somehow." He pulled Xander back against his body, holding him.

"He all but said it was my fault," Xander said quietly, not looking at the Captain. "Because he couldn't tell everyone what he thought, it was my fault and he didn't have a reason to be a cop."

The Captain walked over and patted Xander on the shoulder. "I wouldn't worry about it. We recently had warning that he was unstable. We were watching him watch you, but we couldn't interfere until he did something. Unfortunately, we didn't see him break and enter today." He looked down at Oz, nodding at Xander. "Take him away from here for a few days. Go join your other husband in Vegas and take a break from it all."

Xander nodded, looking up at Oz. "Can we?"

"Sure," Oz agreed. "Go tell Adam to pack and we'll try and leave tonight." He pushed Xander up, watching him leave. "Now what?" he asked the Captain.

"There's nothing we can do to you because he shot himself," he said gently. "There's no charges we can put on you for any of this. Not that I'd want to, the old Captain told me what was going on. I'm sure that everything will work out all right in the end." He walked away, going to take his people with him. There was no need for a Crime Scene Unit this time.

Oz grabbed the phone on the table between the loungers, dialing the resort. "Hey, it's me," he said, "is Giles there?" He sighed. "No, tell him we're all coming in. Book that large suite upstairs for Xander Harris and company. Yeah, that one. Because we just had a cop try to commit suicide in front of us and we don't want to be in the house right now. Yeah, we'll be bringing the animals." He smiled as the phone was taken from the man taking reservations, one of Jace's first hires, and Giles came on. "No, we're fine. A lot shaken, but fine. Yeah, we'll be in tonight. Animals and all. Amanda, Meth, and Ray probably. That's who's here." He hung up and went to find Ray. "Hey," he said, running into him and Amanda in the kitchen. "We're all going to Vegas to unwind. You're welcome to come share our suite with the animals, Amanda. Ray?"

"Sure. Been wanting to watch Xander play cards anyway," Ray said weakly. "When?"

"Tonight or early tomorrow. I need you to gather up all the animals while I call Henri and tell her not to come in tomorrow." He walked away, heading for his address book, which apparently Xander had stolen from his office as his husband was talking to their housekeeper. "Tell her we'll be back in a week or so, and to work on getting us a housekeeper," he said, sitting down to cuddle up with Xander. "Giles is expecting us by tomorrow."

Xander nodded. "Did you hear that?" he asked. "No, we're going to go hide in Vegas for a few days with Giles. All we need you to do is to find yourself a helper. 'Kay?" He smiled. "Thanks, Henri. Sure, but we're taking all the animals with us."

"We can drop Ribbon off at her apartment if she wants," Oz offered.

Xander listened then nodded. "Yup, she wants."

"We'll do that on the way to the airport." He patted Xander's leg, then stood up and headed up to help whoever pack for them. He found Methos tossing clothes into a bag. "We're going to Vegas for a while," he offered. "You and Ray are more than welcome to come with us."

Methos stopped packing and looked at him. "Really?"

Oz nodded. "Yup, can't imagine Xander staying sane without you two. I'm sure he'll monopolize Ray for the first day or so, but you can have him back whenever you can pry Xander off him."

Methos smiled. "Thank you, Oz. Are we bringing the animals?"

"And Amanda if she wants to come." Oz nodded toward his room. "Come help me pack when you're done in here. Ray's getting the animals and Amanda can make the plane reservations."

Methos finished stuffing the basics into the bag and went to help Oz, knowing Xander was going to need some clothes.


They walked into the resort and right into Giles' arms, Xander getting the longest hug. "You're safe now," Giles told them all, smiling at the animals being carted in. "Come, let's get you settled in."