Bad Timing.

Ray yawned, waking up from his nap. "Where are we?" he mumbled, rolling into Xander's shoulder.

"About to land. The stewardess was giving you 'aw, how cute' looks."

"Yay. I'm taken, even if I am cute." He opened one eye to look up at his best friend. "Do we really have to go there?"

"Yup. Want to stay in the motel?"

"Please," Ray said, forcing himself to sit up. He smiled at the stewardess. "Can I get a small cup of coffee?"

"I'm sorry, sir, we're about to land." She took Xander's can with a smile. "There's a very good coffee shop inside the terminal, up near the security stations."

"Thanks." He put his seat upright and looked across Xander out the window. "You sure we're about to land? It's awfully cloudy still."

"Ray, it's February in Colorado. Everything's supposed to be white," Xander reminded him.

"Oh, yeah. Hey, I can go make snowballs in the park then."

"Cool. I'll drop you off wherever you want," Xander offered. "You sure you don't want to come down with me? See Danny?"

"Nope. I'd get the willies being that far underground." He shuddered. "People should not work under a mountain."

"Okay. If you're sure." Xander took Ray's hand to hold during the landing. He didn't normally mind them, but the runway looked snowed over from what he could see. They bounced lightly a few times and slowed down with a nerve-jarring squeal of brakes.

"We're down," Ray said, trying to take his hand back. "Xander?"

"Shh. I'll let you go when we get to the gate," Xander said quietly.

Ray let it go. He slept through every flight he went on so he wouldn't know if they crashed. Xander was allowed to have his foibles too.


Xander smiled as General Hammond met him at the security desk. "I thought the ID cards would work here too," he said, holding it out.

"That's okay. You keep it for now," he said with a smile. He led Xander back down to the Stargate project, but he kept looking at the young man. "How are you?"

"Better," Xander admitted. "I'm not itching. Oz is better too. He's on his way home today and Giles is heading back to Vegas. The convention was a hoot, what little I got to see of it." He grinned at the airman that met them at the elevator. "Problems?" he asked when the soldier glared at him.

"*He's* here," the soldier said grimly. "Came through right after you left to go get him."

"Well, let's not keep him waiting then," General Hammond said, heading for his meeting room. "Xander, did you bring..." The silk bag was handed to him. "Thanks." He stopped to look inside, pulling out the thick metal bracelet. "This is hefty," he said in appreciation, scanning the carved-in symbols under the stones. "What are these?"

"Good things. One's strength, one's fertility, but I made that one small." Xander pointed to them. "That one's courage in battle. Daniel gave me a book with their symbols in it." He continued to walk, smiling when the airman caught up with him. "Relax, man, I come bearing gifts." He opened the door for the General, letting him make the grand entrance. He smiled at Jack, who was looking a little better now that his blood pressure was back down.

"Hey," Jack said, smiling at the bag the General was holding. "It came out okay?"

"Very okay," Xander told him, coming over to stand beside him so he could watch the alien's reaction to his gift.

The alien opened the bag carefully, like he wasn't sure what was going to come out of it. He lifted out the bracelet and frowned, but then he saw the designs and snorted. "I have no need of trickery. I have my own strength and courage."

"Yay," Xander said quietly. "It never hurts to have a backup. Trust me, a battle can go on much longer than you expect, and wielding a weapon gets tiresome after a while."

"You're a warrior?" he asked, looking Xander over. "You look more like a toy."

"Oh, I'm both," Xander said with one of his better enigmatic smiles. "A good toy knows how to guard their playmates." He crossed his arms on his chest. "It's unwise to refuse a gift given in peace."

"Xander," General Hammond warned. "It's not your fault he didn't like it."

"No, but it does say that he's not going to be wanting to negotiate. *Real* power people know better than to ever refuse a gift, even if it's neon orange and knitted."

"Eww," Jack said quietly. "I lived through that era."

"Yeah, so did Daniel's teacher. Oz got him something like that," he said, patting the soldier's shoulder. "How do you feel?"

"Better. Surprisingly, the medicine is working."

"Good." Xander gave him a hug then stood back up, glaring at the warrior figure. "Challenge me if you won't accept my gift."

The warrior laughed. "This I have to see. Swords or staffs?"

"Your choice, I'm good with both." He took off his jacket and pulled out his katana, it had been his wedding present from Angel and his group. It was the only sword he carried now. "General, may we have a practice area?"

"Of course," General Hammond said quickly. "But I would prefer if you didn't try to kill each other. It might look bad if you killed him, Xander."

"He has taken blood?"

"He has killed five Goa'uld by himself," Jack put in. "In close fighting, not with distance weapons." He grinned up at Xander. "How did you manage to get through that place? That convention was not for normal people."

"Easy, Oz got sicker so we ended up missing the last half. But I won two awards. Not the one I wanted, but I got Biggest Tease."

"Congrats," Daniel said as he walked in. "Whoa, um, Xander, maybe we should put *away* the weapons. They want to be friends."

"He refused the gift," Xander told him.

Daniel frowned. "Then, by rights, we shouldn't even be talking to him," he told the General. "That's their way."

"I will fight him," the warrior announced. "We will talk afterwards." He saw the winces. "I promise not to kill him," he said, nearly laughing at their sour expressions.

"I don't," Xander said calmly. "Daniel, a practice room please?"

"Sure," Daniel said, leading the way down to one of the smaller practice rooms that was almost never used. He stood against the wall, watching as Xander stretched a little bit, then winced as he heard the boy's back pop. "Oww," he muttered. Jack, who was leaning next to him, nodded his agreement. "Think he'll do *that* sort of fighting?" he asked his friend.

"Hope so," Jack said. "It's pretty impressive." He patted the wall beside him, getting Teal'c and Sam to stand next to them, and the General joined them so he wouldn't be in the way. "We're wondering if Xander's going to do that fancy fighting style he likes so much."

"The guy refused his present," Daniel explained to the newcomers. "By their standards, that's a horrible insult and we shouldn't even be talking to him, but Xander apparently challenged him over it."

"Oh," Sam said, nodding, even though she didn't know why this was so important.

"It's a very bad sign for him to have refused the gift," Teal'c said solemnly. "They've gone to war over that in the past."

"Oh," Sam said, understanding now. "Okay. Xander, which tradition are you using?"

"My own," he called back, standing up and grabbing his sword.

"Are you finished now?" the warrior sneered.

"Yeah, traveling made me stiff." He lunged at the other man, then danced off to the side and cut him on the arm. He continued to dance around the man, making fast and furious attacks but staying out of range of the larger weapon. Finally, he sighed. "I'm bored," he announced, then he sprinted for a few steps and jumped up, flipping over the warrior, landing in front of him. "Let's really fight now." The warrior looked at him in shock. "What? I've been traveling all morning, I'm too tired to continue to play with you." The warrior lunged, and Xander disarmed him, ending up in his arms but with his sword to the guy's dick. "Move and never have more children," he announced.

The warrior stopped and felt where the sword was, then he laughed. "You can't hurt me there." The sword's edge moved a little closer, and Xander kicked him in the shin, making him move backwards. "You are a toy," he spat. "You even dance like one."

"Yay," Xander said, moving his fingers in a talking motion. "Keep it coming." He waited for the next lunge, arms crossed over his chest again. This time, he pulled his secondary dagger and had it against the warrior's throat before he could move, having moved just at the last moment. "Are you *really* a leader of your clan?" he asked. "Are you sure your clan didn't dishonor us by sending us a trainee?" He let the warrior go. "Want some more?"

The warrior growled and lunged again. This time he ended up disarmed and on his back, Xander's sword point resting over his heart and the young man looking down at him, and he wasn't sure how.

"You're *sure* you're a clan leader?"

"Let me up," the warrior requested. "You win. I will get my clan leader."

"Good." Xander let him up and watched him pick up his sword and walk off. "And tell him, if I have to, I'll challenge him too!" he called after him. He bowed to Daniel. "Front and center, Danny, I'm here to test you. We've got a wait."

Daniel groaned and went to get them two staffs. He didn't want to face off with Xander using swords, he wasn't that good yet.


General Hammond presented the Clan Leader with the bracelet, watching his expression. The older man burst out laughing and smiled at him. "Then you accept it?"

"Yes, it is a very interesting piece. Who made it?" Xander waved from his position against the wall. "It's very unique."

"Thank you. I try to tailor all my pieces to the intended wearer." He stood up and walked over, pointing at the clasp. "It's got two locks on it so you shouldn't be able to lose it." He helped the older man into it and judged the size. "Almost too small but it should be fine." He looked into his eyes. "Do you like it?"

"I do," he said, and his eyes said he was being honest. "You did very good." He patted Xander on the head, watching as he sat down again. "Down to business?"

"A feast first," General Hammond said, giving him a smile. "We've been told that is the custom among your people."

"It is")," the Clan Leader agreed, clapping the General on the back and almost sending him running into the wall. That made him chuckle again, but he followed the General out to go to the room prepared for the banquet. He ended up sitting across from Blair, who was next to Xander, and had a fascinating conversation with both men throughout the entire dinner. He wasn't too sure of Blair's mate, but he knew their type. If he was working here, it was probably for a good cause.

Xander excused himself after the dinner and bowed to the Clan Leader. "Unfortunately, I am not in on the negotiations so I will take my leave of you now," he said formally.

"Is your keeper waiting on you?" the Clan Leader asked.

"No, my friend and fellow GHS member is. We'll be in town tonight if you need us, General." He took the pass that had been handed to him. "Really?"

"In case we need to call you in again," the General said with a smile. "I can trust you not to abuse that."

"No, not going to be popping in at odd hours. He glanced around. "Did you know if Doctor Janet...."

"Yes, she does," Blair said, patting him as he walked up to him. "She said that, if we saw you, we were to drag you down there to make sure everything was fine."

"Coolness." Xander bowed again. "Later." He walked out, heading down to the infirmary, his new pass pinned to his shirt. He stopped in the meeting area to grab his sword and jacket, then continued down to next task.

"But, Janet, I *feel* fine," he whined about an hour later. "No more itching or anything."

"Yes, but I just need the one skin scraping," Janet whined back. She got a grin for it. "Just a simple scraping and then you can go, all right?" He sighed and leaned back so he didn't have to watch her do it. She worked quickly, taping the slides together as soon as she had it. "There you go. Done." She patted him on the flat stomach. "So, I heard you fought earlier," she said, wanting to know.

"Yup. He wasn't the Clan Leader and it showed. He insulted us by refusing the gift." Xander stood up and pulled back up his pants. "Why?"

"Just wondering," she said innocently.

"You've seen a tape," he accused, stopping his dressing to glare at her. He caught her guilty look. "You did! You've seen a tape! Where? All the official ones from my training and the ones I made for my lovers were destroyed."

"Someone on base was at the convention," she said, giving him a little shrug. "She recorded your demonstration there. It's a bootleg."

"Oh." He frowned as he finished pulling up his pants. "How many people have seen it?"

"Not that many," she said quickly. "General Hammond found out and confiscated it," she lied.

"I guess that's okay then. But no, I didn't do that this morning. I played with him for a few minutes and then picked on him. No real stretches or dancing involved." She frowned. "Why did you want to see that?"

"Because you were *good*," she said, grinning at him. "It was *so* good."

He patted her on the shoulder. "I'll try to sneak you a tape of your own," he promised. He pulled on his shirt and jacket. "Want to walk me up?"

"Sorry, I've got a team waiting for me. They're washing off the grime so I can get to them." She gave him a smile. "I'll call if I find anything unusual in your sample."

He gave her a hug. "Thank you for curing me. It was so nice to be able to screw Oz into the bed again," he told her; then he left her with a smile on her face. It lasted until Sam came in with the new team for their physicals.


Xander slid into the bed beside Ray, letting him cuddle up to him. "I'm back," he whispered.

"Were you good?"

"Mostly. I gave Doctor Janet happies. The Clan Leader liked my bracelet."

"Good," Ray mumbled, rubbing his nose against Xander's bare chest. "Sleep?"

"Yup, heading there now. Sweet dreams, Ray."


A few hours later, Xander was awoken by a ringing phone and a bunch of sirens heading off into the distance. "Yeah?" he asked as he answered it. "Damn, they are *so* screwed with their own people." He checked the clock. "Sure. We'll be there in twenty." He hung up and poked Ray. "Get up. We're being evacuated."

"Why?" Ray mumbled.

"Because the guys Danny was negotiating with broke all the rules of their people and attacked during negotiations." Xander slid out of the bed and grabbed the clothes he had been wearing, putting them back on. "Come on, Ray, we've got twenty minutes to get up there."

"Yeah, yeah," Ray sighed as he got up. He grabbed some clothes and tossed them on, shoving everything else in his bags. "You'd think that only Meth did this leaving in the middle of the night thing," he muttered as he followed Xander out of the motel room. "Sword?" he asked.

Xander ran back into the room and did a quick sweep of it, gathering up everything they had missed and shoving it into his bag and pockets. He ran back out, grabbing Ray's arm and towing him to the car. "Come on. We're going to be late."

"Why are we being evac'd?" Ray asked once they were driving.

"Because the Clan Leader liked the bracelet. I'm a target now."

"Oh, great," Ray sighed, looking up. "Why did I not expect this?"

"Because we all thought these people were on the level." Xander pulled up to the base's gate and flashed his card. He went where the guard was directing him, parking and grabbing their stuff so he could pull Ray with him. They barely made it onto the cargo plane, nodding at Sam, Daniel, and Blair. "Jack?" he asked as he strapped in.

"Will be on the next one," Sam told him, putting on her headphones. She watched as Ray fell back asleep.

Blair tossed Xander something, then pointed at the headphones behind him. "Hey," he said once Xander had put them on. "We walked right into the middle of a clan war."

"Oh, crap," Xander sighed, slipping the bloodied bracelet into his jacket pocket. "And they want *me*?"

"Yeah. The warrior you beat up earlier noted how 'powerful' you were when he was captured," Sam told him. "The other Clan thinks that you're a spirit warrior."

"That means that you're possessed while you fight," Daniel explained. "You'd be a powerful slave to them if they could break you and get you to promise fealty."

"I'm not," Xander told him. "The first idiot got it right. I'm a toy who can fight." Ray hit him. "Ow!"

"Quit." Ray pulled on the headphones too. "So, what's new?"

"Just that we stepped into the middle of a Clan war," Blair told him. "Where's your old man?"

"He went back with Oz. They were going to bond over beers." Ray looked at Xander, then at Sam. "Where're we headed?"

"Vegas," she said, nodding emphatically. "We can disappear from there to the extra bases. Both of them are about equidistant from Vegas."

"Cool," Ray agreed. "Who's going our way?"

"I am," Daniel and Blair said together.

"Dessie?" Xander asked.

"Carrier," Blair said, pointing. "We were at home. They promised to get us our things as soon as they could. We're stationed in Sunnydale until further notice."

"Wonderful," Sam sighed. "I'm bouncing back and forth then. My orders say I'm to report to Arizona and to stay there until my team is regrouped."

"Jack's got orders to follow us," Daniel offered. "So does Teal'c."

"I'll check then," Sam told them. "Does he normally sleep this heavily?" she asked Xander, nodding at Ray who had fallen back asleep.

"He naps on all flights so he doesn't have to see if we crash," Xander told her. "Janet?"

"Is fine," Daniel assured him. "Medical personnel are routed differently."

"What if...." Xander asked.

"Then we'll start over," Sam agreed. "We have an extra gate in storage."

"Found it in Antarctica," Daniel agreed. "Don't worry about us, Xander, we're not going to be stopped."

"Good," he said. "But you might want to think long and hard about putting that second gate to use in Sunnydale. There's already a powerflux going on there."

"Point," Sam agreed. "Don't worry. We'll figure it out." She gave him her brightest smile, or the brightest she could manage at the moment anyway. "You'll get to shack up with Giles tonight."

"Yeah, I will," Xander said, giving her a smile. "We could probably find rooms for you at the resort, it's the off season."

"Nah, we've already got connecting flights," Blair told him. "We'll be fine, Xander. Don't worry. We'll even stop in at your house and tell Oz that you're fine."

"Thanks. He does worry. So does Danny's teacher though."

"I'm sure we'll hear all about it," Daniel agreed with a smile.


Xander walked up to the front desk, giving the man standing behind it a faint smile. He was tired. Ray had managed to sleep the whole flight, he hadn't gotten to bed yet. "Would you please wake up Rupert for me?" he asked the man.


"And why not?"

"Because the owner would not appreciate that, sir. Do you have a reservation?"

"No, I have something better," Xander said, holding up his ring hand. "I'm his husband."

The desk clerk snorted. "He's not gay. I've seen him flirting with that woman, Amanda."

"She's here?" Ray asked, looking around. "Man, Jace would be pissed if she saw the condition of the gold-stuff."

"Too true," Amanda said from behind them. She patted them both on the shoulder. "Why the midnight trip?"

"Where we were got raided," Xander told her. "Everyone got evacuated. Us included."

"Yup," Ray said through a yawn, "they wanted Xander because he made such a good prezzie."

"Wake up Rupert," Amanda said calmly, "or I will. This is his husband, Xander, and he's going to fire you if you don't."

"Is he still up in the same room?" Xander asked, grabbing the desk phone. Amanda nodded so he pushed the buttons, slapping the hand stopping him. "Hey, me," he said tiredly. "Come get us. We're downstairs." He hung up and growled at the man behind the desk. "Go clean out your locker," he hissed. "*Never* touch me."

The man continued to sneer until his boss got off the elevator and came running towards the men. "Mr. Giles, sir," he said, starting to sweat. "They really are...."

Giles nodded. "Yes, this is my husband, Xander, and our best friend, Ray. Amanda, something wrong?"

"Just going for a stroll," she said with a smile. "Xander's not really in trouble this time."

"Bet me," Ray snorted. He looked at the guy behind the desk. "I believe he gave you an order."

"What order?" Giles asked as he led the way to the elevator, taking control of the bags. Amanda said something quietly to him. He walked back to the desk and said something to the man behind it, who walked away looking very upset. He came back before the elevator doors could close, getting in and holding Xander tightly. "I set him to cleaning the ceilings tomorrow, he's not very happy."

"I told him to clean out his locker," Xander said, resting against the firm chest. "He was nasty. Said you two had been going at it." He yawned. "I need a nap."

"Yes, I can see that," Giles said, giving him a smile. "We'll be in a bedroom soon enough," he promised, and the doors opened, letting them off at the penthouse suites. He walked down the short hallway to their room, leading his husband straight to bed. He turned to find Amanda on the couch, giving her a smile. "Thank you for that."

"You're welcome," she said, handing him Xander's bag. "He really was nasty, and he did insinuate that we're having an affair together."

"Yes, well, that should never get back to Xander," he said, frowning down at her. She nodded and gave him a smile. "Good. Can you find out what went on?"

"Yup, I can," Ray said from the doorway. Giles went a little pale. "You'd better tell him sometime," he warned. "There was a delicate negotiation going on at Danny's workplace. Unfortunately, the people they were working with were in a clan war and they got invaded during the negotiations, which ended up endangering the base."

"A military installation?" Giles asked, heading for the radio.

"A top secret one," Ray reminded him. "Everyone got sent somewhere safe. Xander's a target because his present was nice and accepted. That's why we got sent away."

"Oh, dear," Giles sighed. "I'd best call the house."

"They're supposed to be drunk tonight," Ray reminded him, heading for the spare bedroom.

"Ray, sleep with us if you want. I'm sure Xander would like to cuddle up to you, he tends just to hold my hand," Giles offered.

"Sure," Ray said, changing his course.

Giles looked at Amanda and shook his head. "I'm sorry, dear."

"That's all right," she sighed, standing up. "I have a perfectly good room downstairs. Will Ray tell him?"

"If I don't," Giles agreed. "It'll tear Xander up, but I'll have to tell him sometime soon."

"Then be very gentle about it," she advised as she walked out of the room.

Giles walked over to make sure the door had closed and locked, then went into the bedroom to cuddle with his lover and their friend. He would worry about Xander's reaction later.


"Xander," Ray protested as he was dragged to the high-rollers section of the casino they were in. "Why are we here?"

"Because I'm pissed and I need to blow something. Blowing money is easiest and least harmful to others." He sat down at the table and slapped down four five-thousand dollar chips. He put one in a betting spot and nodded at the dealer.

"Yes, sir," she said, dealing the cards. He motioned for another card so she dealt one, then flipped over hers. "Tie," she said, taking the chip and the cards. She dealt another hand then gave Ray a smile. "Would you like a drink? I can get a waitress in here."

"Please," Ray agreed. He smiled at the waitress coming in. "Beer, please? A good one?" She smiled and wandered off, going to get him one. He looked down at Xander's cards, smiling at the losing he was doing. "You're usually not this bad, Xan."

"I'm too pissed to concentrate," Xander admitted. He took Ray's beer and gulped a third of it, then handed it to his friend, putting down another chip. "Again?"

"Of course, sir," the dealer said, handing out another set of cards. She smiled as Xander won. "Good job, sir."

"Thanks." He bet his winnings on his next hand, calming down as the familiar routine settled in. He won five more hands then stood up after losing his next one. "Thank you," he said, tipping her a large chip from his winnings. "Where's the best spa around here?"

"The Canyon Ranch, out by the shopping area," she said quickly. "They're very good."

"Thanks. I need to relax."

"Maybe we should do something more physical," Ray said, following Xander out of the casino. He looked at the rows of slot machines longingly then stopped Xander. "Can I play for a bit?"

"Sure," Xander said, handing him a few chips. "Let's go get you change, and I'll watch you play while I have another beer." He followed Ray over to the woman handing out coins, watching as she handed Ray a bucket of tokens. "Which type?"

"Um, back row," Ray said, pointing, letting Xander point him toward a winning machine. He watched as Xander stopped beside one machine and stole a token, putting it in and pulling the arm. The machine fed out. "How do you do that?" he asked.

"I don't know," Xander admitted as he gathered his tokens. "Come on, let's go find you a good machine." He wrapped his arm around Ray's waist and led him back to the back row, ending up at a machine two rows away. "This one," he said finally, pointing at one. "It's going to be a while, but that's okay."

Ray sat down and started to play the game, liking the simpleness and laziness of this sort of gambling.


Xander relaxed under the expert hands on his back, purring at Ray. They were on a plane home and Ray was working on his shoulders to keep him from getting up and pacing. "I can't believe he was cheating on me," he muttered.

"It was probably just a momentary thing," Ray soothed. "I'm sure it wasn't long term."

"So he was just playing with her?" Xander asked snidely. "He married me."

"Yup, he did," Ray agreed. "Did you call home?"

"Not yet. Go ahead if you want them to pick us up. If not, I'll spring for a cab. It'll cost about as much as hiring a car." He tipped his head off to the side, letting Ray hit a particularly tense spot. "Why did he cheat? I gave him everything he could ever want."

"Yeah, but part of being what he is means exploring everything. He's just exploring that side of himself. Giles is a dick," Ray said finally. "You can yell at him once you get home."

"Yeah, I think I will. How am I gonna tell Oz?" he whispered, realizing he was going to have to.

"I'll tell Meth and he'll tell him," Ray soothed, pulling Xander's head onto his shoulder. "Let's nap, 'kay?"

"There's only another fifteen minutes," Xander pointed out, but he didn't move his head. "I want to hurt him," he muttered.

"I'm sure you'll find a good come back," Ray assured him, calming his friend down. "We'll find a way to get him back, I'll help and so will Meth. I know he'll at least go lecture the idiot."

"Thanks," Xander said, yawning. "I like you. If you ever leave Meth, we're stealing you."

"That'll be cool by me," Ray agreed, smiling down at him. "Think about the terror we'll create at the spas around the world."

Xander snickered. "Masseuses everywhere will tremble when they hear our names, and their hands will cramp up."

"The hair care people will faint when they see all the hair you have," Ray joked, playing with the long ponytail.

"The body scrubbers will shiver with anticipation?" Xander suggested.

The stewardess smiled as she walked past them. "We're almost down, sirs. Please put up your seat backs." She kept going.

Xander put up his chair back and snuggled back into Ray as soon as he had his up too. "Are you sure we want to go right home?" Ray looked down at him. "I mean, was there anything we have to pick up?"

"Nah, I want cuddles from my man, and you need to be cuddled by all of us." Ray wrapped his best friend in his arms and held him. "It'll be okay. We'll make Giles sorry he ever cheated on you."

"Okay," Xander said, wanting to believe him. "We'll do it together."

"Yup, together," Ray said, gripping Xander's hand as the plane started to descend. "Almost home."

Xander nodded, keeping his face buried in Ray's shoulder so he wouldn't have to watch them land.


Xander stepped off the plane and looked around for Ray. He had just been behind him. He was grabbed from the front and moved to get free. "What the.... Oz?" he asked, grabbing him for a hug. "You're here?"

"Giles called us and told us you had left the resort without telling him," Oz whispered, holding onto his husband.

"Yeah, well, we need to have a little talk about Giles," Ray said as he walked down to meet them. "What's the real reason?" Oz looked at him, and he knew. "Danny and Blair saw you?"

"They're crashed in a spare bedroom. The base doesn't have enough room for everyone that got moved. Oh, and they got a call. It was taken care of." He hugged Xander even harder. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Xander told him, wrapping his arms around Oz. "Ray was right, we need to tell you something."

"We can do that somewhere more comfortable," Methos said as he walked up to them. He took the bags and put them onto the cart he had brought with him, then led his Ray a few feet away away. "What happened?"

"Giles and Amanda are havin' it off," Ray said quietly. One of his lover's eyebrows went up. "The guy at the desk tipped us off, and I heard him and Amanda talking about missing their plans. Giles told Xander this morning over breakfast."

"Hell," Methos muttered, giving Ray a hug. "We'll deal, as we always do." He walked back to the cart, where Xander and Oz were talking to each other. "Come on, you two, we'll get something to eat before heading home. I'm sure we could all use the time together in a calm place." Oz looked up at him. "He told you?" Oz nodded and stood up, pulling Xander up with him. "We'll talk with him tomorrow," he told his student.

"We'll talk tonight," Oz countered. "That's why we both have video chatting." He led Xander out of the gate and down the hall. "Come on, let's go home."

"Can we have food?" Xander asked. "I kinda stormed out before breakfast was over with and took Ray with me."

"Of course," Methos said smoothly. "Here in the airport or closer to home?"

"Anywhere's good for us," Ray told him. "Even fast food would be okay. I kinda had beer for breakfast."

"Ah," Methos said, giving him a squeeze. "I can see that." He looked around, then frowned. "I thought we had the cart."

Ray groaned and turned around, sprinting back to the gate to get their things. He caught up with them just before the security checkpoint, patting Xander on the back. "Nothing got stolen, not even your jacket." Xander opened his mouth. "Yeah, the stewardess caught it for us and handed it over when she saw me. Don't forget..." he let the ending hang since they were going through the metal detectors.

"I've got the tickets," Oz said, holding them up. "I'll go get them while you guys get a drink." He asked one of the guards a quiet question and went where he was pointed. He signed out the sword Xander had carried with him to the convention, then went to find his mates. He found them resting in a sports bar, the cart next to their table. "Hey," he said, sliding in beside Xander. He took the beer from in front of his mate and drained it for him. "Thanks, I needed that."

"That's his third for the day," Ray noted. Xander *never* drank more than a glass of wine with dinner. Oz gave him a subtle nod, agreeing to keep track of the beer intake. "But most of them were in a casino. He decided to be pissed by gambling in the high-roller room."

"Ooh," Methos hissed. "How much did you lose?"

"I made six grand," Xander said calmly. "Ray, I'm fine. I'm not going to get drunk. Don't worry so much," he said, giving him a fakely-cheerful smile.

Oz kissed his husband on the cheek. "It's okay. I would have beaten Giles first." He waved a waitress down and ordered them another round with a hand gesture. When they came, he handed her a bill. "Some food too?" he asked. "Something snacky?"

"Sure," she agreed, giving them a smile. "Long flight?"

"No, we just came from Vegas," Ray told her, looking soured on the experience.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said, giving them a brighter smile. She hurried away to get them something to chew on. People who looked like they lost lots of money would probably need something comforting.

"We'll get lunch on the way home," Oz promised.

"We missed breakfast too," Methos admitted. "We've been here since we got the call from Giles saying you had left."

"I offered you half of my burger," Oz reminded him.

"Oz, it was fast food, not real food." He smiled as an appetizer plate was brought over to them. "Thank you," he said, gratefully reaching for one of the stuffed potato skins. Ray slapped his hand and picked one up, feeding it to him.

Oz glanced around the bar, then cleared his throat. "Guys, this may be LA, but this is a sports bar. That might not be a good idea," he said carefully.

Ray stuck his tongue out at him. "It's all right, Xander needs to wear off some aggression anyway." He grinned at his friend. "Ain't that right?"

"Very true," Xander agreed, sipping at his beer. He stole the plate of nachos and started to nibble. "Where did we want to eat lunch?"

"There's a nice place on the way up, we'll call ahead and get takeout, just like in the old days," Oz promised him, reaching over to touch his hand. "That okay with you?" Xander nodded. "Have you heard anything about the raid?"

"No, just that we had to leave." Xander shrugged and leaned a little closer. "They got us up a little while after I got back to the room and flew us to Vegas." He laughed bitterly. "Imagine my surprise when the night clerk said that Giles wasn't gay, and that I couldn't be his husband because he was sleeping with Amanda."

"Who came down and warned him off," Ray added. "We found out later that the guy hadn't been lying."

"And Giles didn't fire him after he was nasty to us," Xander finished, saluting Ray with his glass. "Oz, can I have something fattening?"

"Sure," Oz agreed. "We'll get you something you can sulk with." He got a smile for that, and a kiss on the cheek. "Do you need more metal still? We never got a shipment."

"It shouldn't be here for another few days," Xander pointed out. "I have enough stuff at home to go through anyway."

"Okay," Oz said calmly. "Can I help you sort through the jewelry?"

"Depends," Xander said, after draining his beer. "Will you let me put the money we liquidate from the stalker jewelry into new projects?"

"If you want," Oz agreed. "I was concerned about having so much jewelry around the house though."

"Yeah, well, I'll get rid of some of it once it's done," Xander agreed. "Good?"

"Very good," Oz agreed, reaching down to pat him on the thigh. "I don't want you to quit working, I simply wanted us to not be robbery bait."

"Then I'll be more careful about how I lock up my stuff," Xander agreed, giving him a smile. "Home?"

"Sure. Meth, grab the waitress and get a box. I'll get the check. Ray, car," he said, handing over the keys and the parking stub. "We'll follow you out and call in an order for lunch from the car." He waited until the other couple had left to look at his mate. "Xander, are you okay?" he asked gently. "I know you're disappointed in him and all that, but...will you be okay?"

"I'm fine," Xander lied smoothly. Oz gave him a look and he shrugged. "I'll be okay. I may pound it out with work tonight, but otherwise I'll be okay."

"You could always try writing it out," Oz offered, sliding out of the booth and holding out a hand. "Finish my beer if you want," he offered when he saw Xander looking at it. "We'll let you cuddle up in the backseat."

"Thanks," Xander said, grabbing the beer and draining it. He allowed himself to be pulled up and led out of the bar, heading out with Oz. "Can I have something to do tonight?"

"Yeah, I'll be more than happy to help you work at the forge if you'd like," Oz offered. "I'm a pretty good helper, right?" he asked when he didn't get an answer.

"Yeah, you're a great helper and inspiration source," Xander admitted, giving him a light smile. "Maybe I will write. I just got a killer idea from our time across the realms, and I want to make Giles the bad guy."

"Hey, I'm always happy to support you in that too. I've got my laptop in the trunk still if you want it."

"Please," Xander agreed, stopping his husband to give him a real kiss. "I'm sorry I brought this all down on you."

"Hey, we're married, babe. I want to be here for you." He took a deeper kiss then smiled at his mate. "Home?"

"Home. What about food? We were running a little low before we left."

"Henri, and her new assistant, went shopping. We'll call them on the way home too. Just to give her a warning." He wrapped an arm around Xander's shoulders, leading the way out to the parking garage.


Henri looked up as all the animals went running, smiling at the men walking through the door. "Good afternoon," she told them, waving from the kitchen. "I made some more tea, and I've got everything ready for a salad if you'd like."

"With the cheese?" Xander asked, heading in to give her a hug. "How do you feel?"

"I'm fine, Xander." She pushed him back and looked into his eyes. "What happened?"

"Giles is cheating on us," Oz told her, coming in to get his own hug, and to put their food in the fridge. "We picked up a midnight snack that wanted to be lunch."

"I'll eat it later," Xander promised, giving Oz a smile. They were home now, nothing bad could happen here, never again if he had his way.