A Holy And Righteous Cause
Xander looked over at his mate as they pulled up the smaller of their two driveways. "We still have to do something about Giles," he said quietly.
"I was thinking about moving and not telling him," Oz admitted, "but what did you have in mind?"
"I want to punish him," Xander said firmly. "If he had asked for permission, I might have given it to him, but he broke our trust." He put a hand on his mate's thigh as the car stopped. "I want him to feel as miserable and as hurt as I did when I found out. Especially about how he told me." He put his head on Oz's shoulder, closing his eyes. "I want him to feel like we ripped him up, the same way I felt that morning."
"Then we'll figure it out," Oz agreed, patting his lover gently. "Come on, we can cuddle inside. Ray and Meth are probably waiting for us." Xander nodded and got out, going to get the animal carrier out of the back. Oz stopped him from going inside. "It's too quiet," he noted.
"Everyone's probably napping," Xander said, shoving open the front door and carrying the carrier inside. "We're back," he called.
A young blonde woman panted as she ran inside from the back porch. "Sorry, we didn't hear you," she said, helping Xander put down the case. She released the catch and let the dog coming out sniff her hand. "Oh, I'm D'Nalia by the way," she said, smiling at the couple. "I'm Henri's helper."
"Cool," Oz said, shaking her hand. "I'm Oz, that's Xander. You don't mind gay couples, right?"
She grinned at him. "Nah, I don't mind them at all. Henri told me *all* about you two and I didn't hear anything that I haven't liked yet." She groaned as she heard twin squeals of delight. "Um, I hate to tell you this, but I have twin boys and their sitter's really sick today, so I had to bring them with me. That's okay, right?" she asked hopefully.
"Fine with us," Oz agreed, sitting down and pulling Jedi into his lap. "Are they good with animals?"
"We have two dogs of our own," she told him, shifting so she was comfortable. "Listen, I have no problem with anything you guys might do, and I have no problem with anything happening in front of my children with the exception of sex. I'm very open and accepting of everything."
"What sort of experience do you have?" Xander asked as he sat down beside her. He looked over his shoulder as Rocky barked, watching his dog run out to go play with the twin boys. "She's never really had kids around," he noted.
"I worked in a resort," she told him. "Managed it and ran roughshod over the housekeepers, filling in as one when I needed to." She wiggled her fingers at the ferret. "You are such an adorable little creature." She looked at Xander. "Henri's known me since I was a little girl and watched me grow up into the stunning version of womanliness that you see before you. She's filled me in on how you like things and what my duties are. Will we be going with you when you leave this house?"
"Someone will," Oz told her. "We'd like someone to stay here though."
She waved her hand at him. "Henri's insisting that it's going to be her. She's claiming that she's *old*," she sighed, "and can't travel like you two do. Oh, and she's done something to the library but she wanted to tell you about that herself."
"Good deal," Oz agreed, handing the ferret over. "Here, you play with her. Xander handles the house stuff, I just handle him." He winked at Xander and stood up. "I'm going to go lounge by the pool and watch the kids wear the baby ferrets out."
Xander grinned at D'Nalia. "Well, you're certainly the sort of person we were looking for. You're energetic and you don't mind what we do. You really won't mind traveling with the kids?"
"Nah," she said lightly. "As long as we stay in one place for a while at a time. Not hopping houses every few weeks."
"We'll try," he promised her. "We just found *the* perfect house in South Beach." He looked around. "What else did Henri tell you? I mean about the weapons and stuff?"
"I like knives," she admitted, "but I'm not to touch any of them. She did tell me that there was a reason for them to be here, but she said I'd find out by accident like she did. Which is fine with me too."
"Calm down," he said gently, touching her on the arm. "We're not mean. If you met up to Henri's standards, you'll live up to ours. Henri's like a grandmother to us. If she trusts you, we will. Just relax and let it happen." He stood up and pulled her with him. "Now then, how about we go lounge by the pool too? It's been a while since we've had new people up here, and we've never had any kids in the house."
"They're well trained," she promised. "Not *too* much trouble. Perfect little hells' angels."
Xander chuckled. "I thought that was all kids."
"Ah, but my boys have a talent for it," she told him as she followed him out to the pool area. She saw his look at his forge and winced. "The boys tried to climb on it today so we had to do a bit of creative blocking," she explained. She winced again as one of her boys bounced on one of the loungers, helping the two ferret babies and one of the puppies jump. "Get down!" she called, hurrying over to catch and stop him.
Xander laughed. "Never a dull moment," he said as he snuggled up to his Oz. "So, you like my idea?"
"Yup, I like your idea," Oz agreed, pinching him on the butt. "How are you going to implement it?"
Xander just smiled and watched the kids and animals play.
Giles looked up as the demonic messenger appeared beside his couch, taking the message it held out. The demon didn't disappear immediately so he knew he needed an answer. He opened the slim envelope and read the contents, going very pale. He looked at the messenger but it was now gone. "Oh, dear God," he whispered. "He told his brother."
Amanda leaned over and took the letter, reading it and also going pale. She stood up and glanced around the comfortable suite. "Well, it's been fun," she told him, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I really should go back to my own duties though; it's been a while since I checked in on my club and all that."
Giles grabbed her by the arm. "You're not leaving me over this, are you?"
She nodded. "Yup. You're on your own, sport. I'm not an oath-breaker." She got free. "Much as I like your mates and you, I'm not going to die over it. Ta." She left, leaving everything but her sword and her purse there. Everything else could be packed by someone later or bought again.
Giles groaned, left to his fate, which was sure to be horrible. After all, if Xander's brother knew, how long would it be before the boy went crying to Strife and Cupid? He shuddered and forced himself to stop thinking about that topic, making himself put down the note and pick up his book to read.
Giles jumped and started to sweat as someone slammed a door down the hall. Every noise was now getting magnified in his mind. The threat of Xander's family coming after him was starting to get to him, it would be horrible. Xander's brother was not known for his tolerance, and if Micah came after him, so would Wesley and all of Angel's family because Micah owed Wesley a favor and he would beg for another one to get them to help him. Angel and his family were very protective of Xander still and Giles was going to be the target of a 'fun time' the likes of which hadn't been seen since Angel had gotten his soul the first time. He shuddered again and wrapped his arms around his middle, trying not to think too much about what his fate was going to be. After all, Angel wouldn't take his head for a long time. He forced himself to pick up the invoices he was supposed to be working on and stared blankly at them. Who had ordered sixteen gross of toilet paper?
Strife appeared beside Xander, who was in his writing chair, surrounded by his nearly pornographic tapestries and statuary. "I thought mind fucks were my thing," he said dryly, leaning down to give his anchor and follower a hug.
"It is," Xander said, saving his current chapter and giving him a naughty grin. "But I thought you wouldn't mind it if I did it for you this time."
"So, w'as up?" the God of Mischief asked as he sat down on the soft couch. "Why the torment of your mate?"
"He cheated on us," Xander said simply.
"The fuck!" Strife said, jumping up. "I'll kill 'im."
"Nah, I'm having fun showing him the error of his ways," Xander said with a smile. "Sit," he offered. "Want something to eat?"
"Nah," Strife said, sitting down again. "I'm good. So, you're just showing him the error of his idiocy by makin' him paranoid?"
"Basically," Xander agreed. He put his laptop aside and leaned over, taking Strife's hand. "I know you want to go stomp him, but I'm having fun doing this to him, 'kay?"
Strife shrugged. "Sure, I'll leave off him, but only 'cause you asked." He grinned and smacked the hand on him. "So, need help plannin' what's next?"
"Nah," Xander said with a nastier grin. "I know *just* what I'm going to do next."
"'Kay," Strife said, starting to pout. "Just yell if I can do anything, all right?"
"Yup," Xander said, launching himself over to give the God a hug. "I know you're the fount of all things nasty and slimy; I was going to have to call you for advice soon anyway," he whispered. "I'm running out of mean ideas."
"That's because you're thinkin' the wrong way," Strife told him, pulling Xander over into his lap. "See, ya gotta think nasty to be nasty, and ya gotta be nasty to do mind fucks." He pinched the firm stomach. "We just gotta get ya into another mind set, and then you'll have *plenty* of ideas, though I have liked the paranoia so far. Did ya tell your brother?"
Xander nodded. "I sent him a messenger after I sent one to Giles, telling him I was using his name in vain to make Giles shit himself." He grinned into the soft leather-covered shoulder. "The message he sent back told me that he approved of my methods and, if I needed him to do more than be there in name, to call on him."
"That's the sign of a good family," Strife said wistfully. "Bein' willin' ta help ya do the dirty work." He kissed Xander on the side of the head. "You know Micah let it slip, right?"
"Yeah, he did. He told that Wesley guy. Who told another of mine."
"Oh, I wanna see that one," Xander sighed. "My brother?"
"Nah, his boyfriend."
Xander snickered. "Spike," they said together.
"An' Cupid's not real happy with him at the moment either," Strife continued. "He sees it as messin' up one of his best groups."
"But he won't interfere, right?"
"Nah, he realizes you've got it well in hand. He heard you prayin' for this to go right. Even Unc and Jox were impressed with what ya wanted ta do ta him." He let Xander snuggle in, sending a silent call out to Cupid that it was going to be all right, that Xander did really have it well in hand and that nothing was going to break up this trio after all. Xander was scary when he wanted to be; he would make Giles come crawling back and fix him right this time. He felt the answer and smiled. Oh, yeah, it was well in hand.
Giles woke up and realized he was tied to a bed, and not his bed, and started to pull frantically at the chains. "Let me go!" he yelled.
"Won't hear you," Spike said softly as he came up to the foot of the bed. "We're gonna talk," he said as he sat beside the naked, bound man, lighting a cigarette and taking a deep drag. "Heard a nasty rumor about you, Rupes. Heard you were steppin' out on your mates." He took another drag and knocked the ashes off onto the bare stomach. "See, way I heard it, you've offended a lot of people by boinkin' that one chit, Amanda." Giles shook his head, afraid to open his mouth, his eyes as wide as they'd ever been. "See, I heard you were. Also heard you've been doin' things again, Rupes, black magic things." He took another drag on the cigarette and held the smoke for longer this time, seeming to be thinking. "There's lots offended by your ways now, and not just the boy or his family. Though, I bet he'd be a bit happier if he knew I was here for him," he said with a cold smile.
"He...he doesn't know?" Giles stuttered.
"Nah," Spike said, flipping more ashes onto the man's stomach. "Came here because I respect the boy. Anyone who's done what he has and is still happy is meant to never be fucked with. Not even by a chaos sorcerer wanna-be." He smiled again, slower this time. "So, I thought I'd come help the boy's emotions out." He leaned closer and put the cigarette out in the ashes. "See, he don't need to be dirtied by this. He don't deserve somethin' like you. So I'm savin' him the trouble."
"He wouldn't appreciate it," Giles said quickly, nearly scared enough to wet himself.
Spike ran his thumb down the center of Giles' chest. "He'll never know now, will he?" he smirked. "You'll heal. I can play for *months* and no one would ever know."
"Someone will wonder where I've went to," Giles warned. "There's the payroll and such."
Spike laughed. "Got that taken care of too," he chuckled.
"Angel and Willow will stop you, Spike!"
Spike laughed again. "How do you think you got here?" He stood up. "Did you think that I did this by myself?" He walked over to the windows and opened the curtains, showing the dark sun shining down on the black stones. "Welcome to the Vampire portion of the Demonic Realms, Rupes."
Spike laughed again, this time a great long belly laugh. He pounced on the body on the bed, grinning down at him. "Scream all you want," he hissed. "They'll enjoy it. So will I." He smirked. "And I can do whatever I want, for as long as I want, and still get you back in time to write out checks," he gloated. "Time runs differently here, Rupes, and you're buggered for messin' with the boy." He reached under the pillow and pulled out a boning knife. "Let's start, shall we? Let's see, where first?" he asked as he sat back on his haunches, staring at the flat, nearly hairless chest. "Ah, a reminder of who you belong to." He bent down, the knife coming towards his skin.
Giles screamed again and woke up, in his own bed, panting and sweating as he stared around the familiar furnishings. He put a hand on his chest, frowning when he came away with cigarette ash. He hopped up and ran into the bathroom, flipping on the lights so he could look in the mirror. 'Xander' was written across his chest in something that looked like blood. He moaned and sank to the floor, cradling his head in his arms and closing his eyes so he didn't have to see the new markings.
Methos and Ray dragged their new luggage through the door of the manor house, smiling at the little furry helpers that came to help them. "Hello, kits," Ray said cheerfully. "Are the other daddies back?" Jedi trotted out and jumped up onto the footlocker, squeaking at him.
"I'd say so," Methos said as he dropped his trunk. "Boys?" he called. "Come help. We've carried plenty of Xander's shopping before."
D'Nalia walked in and looked at them. "What sort of help did you guys need? They're taking a nap?."
"Just a hand with some of the packing materials," Methos told her, giving her a smile. He liked her, she reminded her of him in some ways. "Are the little terrors still here?"
She nodded, grabbing his trunk and pulling it toward the stairs. "Xander's asleep in his writing room, and Oz is napping outside with the puppies and the twins." Both trunks disappeared as they got them to the stairs, as did all the bags in the cars. "Gee, I guess what Henri said was true, this place is haunted and the ghosts like to shop." She sat down on the stairs, rubbing her wrists.
"Something like that," Ray muttered as he went up to check and make sure everything made it to their room. "It's all here," he called down.
"Thank you," Methos called up the stairs. He looked at the assistant housekeeper. "You've got the look of trouble about you," he said after studying her for a moment.
"A new dog just wandered up to the porch," she said with a shrug. "He walked over and flopped down in my lap." She gave him a pitiful look. "I've already got two at home, and one of mine's a puppy."
He shook his head. "They won't turn the mongrel away," he promised. "Xander would never dream of turning away someone who needed help." He patted her on the knee. "Just introduce them."
"I will," she said, getting up and heading out. "Want to come see him?"
"Why not," Methos said, following her out to the back porch. He stopped when he saw the dog. "That's a big puppy," he noted, walking carefully closer and squatting down to get on its level. "Are you friendly?" he asked it, holding out a hand for it to sniff. The dog barked and bowled him over, licking his face happily.
"Doggie!" the twins yelled, woken up by the barking and groaning. They hopped down to come play with it too, wanting in on some of the licking action.
Oz groaned and rolled over, not waking up at all.
Methos, finally free of the dog and the boys, looked up at the young woman. "That's a Great Dane," he noted. She nodded. "They have *small* dogs, dear."
"But he's so *cute*," she told him, giving him a pitiful look. "And it did show up."
"Did you feed it yet?" he asked her. She shook her head. "Good thing. Maybe it has an owner." He stood up, brushing futilely at the wet spots on his clothes from the wet paws. "You tell Xander."
"Okay," she said, whistling. Her boys and the dog looked up. "Come on, let's go see the other owner of the house. He likes dogs too." The dog followed the boys into the house, letting her go first. She tapped on the door of the writing room, keeping the boys out. "Xander, can I talk to you for a minute?" she said quietly. He snorted and rolled off the couch, giving her a dirty look. "Sorry, but we just had an animal walk up to the house and decide that it lived here. Meth said you should look it over."
He stood up with a moan and followed her to where the boys were playing in the hallway, stopping when he saw the dog. "What sort is it?" he asked, clicking his tongue to get the dog's attention. He too got bowled over and licked, but he didn't mind it at all.
"It's a Great Dane, or so Meth said," she said slyly.
Xander laughed as the dog continued to wrestle with him. "Okay, okay, you can stay!" he laughed.
"Xander, that's going to be a huge dog," Ray noted as he walked down the stairs. "Hey, boy," he said, dodging the tongue. "Yeah, you're a good boy," he cooed, playing with it.
"It's our new dog," Xander said happily. "D'Nalia, could you please call our vet. His number's in the phone book in the living room." He grabbed the puppy and started to roll around with him on the floor again, the twins jumping in to play too. Ray sat down on the stairs to watch.
Giles, who had finally gotten back to sleep after two days of trying, sighed as he opened his eyes. This time, Angel and Wesley were standing at the foot of his bed, and it was his bed this time. "What?" he asked churlishly. "How did you get in?"
"It takes someone with a soul living in a place to keep vampires out," Wesley said snottily. "Which I doubt you have at this moment."
Angel frowned down at Giles, then glanced at Wesley. "Of course he does, he has Xander's." He smiled at the immortal. "We intend to take it and give it back to it's rightful owner." He walked around to the side of the bed, striking as fast as a cobra to grab Giles' throat. "The spell," he told Wesley, who was setting up candles and a book. "I'm bored and I'd like to play with him once you're done and on your way back." Then he smiled.
"Yes, Angelus," Wesley told him, starting the incantation to take Giles' soul.
Giles again woke up, sweating and panting, and screamed as he felt the dampness on his chest. That's how security found him. He was still screaming when the resort's doctor got to him.
The vet stepped away from the table, smiling at Xander, Ray, and Oz. "A very healthy mutt," he congratulated.
"What's the other part?" Oz asked. "He looks pretty purebred."
"He's half hell-hound and half Great Dane," the vet told him, trying to sound like it was important news. "I knew his dam and she's a very finely conformed animal." He clapped his hands. "Now then, do you know how to care for them?"
"Don't they eat souls?" Ray asked, looking confused.
"Yes, they do," the vet said happily. "Very good. But you can train them to only take the bad ones. But, if you do that, try to keep them away from most politicians," he said with a grin. "There was almost an *incident* a few years back." Oz sat down on the floor, looking up at Xander.
"Um, I think Oz is worried about the effect this dog will have on our other animals."
"Well, he chose you, so I'm guessing he knows you're excellent parents already."
"A ferret called to him, I know they did," Oz mumbled. He pushed himself off the floor, looking at the vets. "So, he's ours?"
"Until he's an adult, maybe in ten years or so. He's only a few months old, that's when they go out and find their masters. It's very important that they pick out good masters, ones who'll teach them how to hunt. Once they're fully trained, they leave all masters and go hunt in packs."
"Gee, I guess we could ask Spike to help with that," Xander said quietly, looking at Oz.
Oz groaned. "Would someone in our house being ...touched by the supernatural be why it's there?" he asked quietly.
"No," the vet laughed. "They like to pick normal families. I'm not sure why he picked you, but he's yours now. He'll only need about a soul a year or so for the next two years. Then he'll start to need one every few months, until he's an adult; then he'll need one about every week." Everyone went still. "Just remember, you're going to be the ones telling him what sort of souls are off- limits." He patted the dog on the head, then gathered his things. "Other than that, feed him what you do the other dogs, they're all very healthy." He left them alone, going to see his next patient.
"Only in Sunnydale," Ray muttered as he helped the dog down onto the floor. "Come on... let's go tell everyone. Maybe Spike and Angel'll have an idea."
Oz made a whimpering noise as he followed the dog out of the veterinary clinic and to the car. He found himself sitting beside the dog in the backseat and made it look at him. "You do not eat anyone unless we tell you to," he said quietly, making it an order. "Not any one of us, not one of the other animals, and definitely not our friends." The dog barked and licked his face, settling in for the ride home.
"We'll deal, Oz; we always do," Xander reminded him, reaching back to hold his hand.
Xander looked around the dinner table at their guests. "I invited everyone up tonight to meet our new pet."
"Is that all?" Angel asked tiredly. He thought this had been something important.
Oz whistled and brought their newest dog, now named Humphrey, running.
"Holy Gods, it's a hell-hound," Wesley said, jumping up and away from the dog.
"Only half," Oz told him, pointing at the chair. "The biggest risk you have right now is to be licked to death. Humphrey, sit," he ordered. The dog sat. "We just found out that he's half hell- hound and half Great Dane."
"We were hoping for some tips since he's chosen us to be his masters until he's an adult," Xander continued. "He's got to learn how to hunt and things."
"They can be trained?" the dark skinned man that had come up with Angel asked.
"Yup. The vet said he knew his mother and that we could train him to hunt only bad guys," Oz told him.
"We have no idea how to do that," Xander admitted.
"I still say the ferrets drew him," Oz told his mate. He ducked the thrown roll. "Yes, dear, I'll quit dissing the ferrets," he said with an eye roll once Xander wasn't looking at him.
Angel and Wesley looked at each other. "Spike," they said together.
"Is he back yet?" Xander asked. "I thought he'd be here if he was."
"He had to go with Seth and Blair to an art show," Wesley said as he carefully sat down again. "Is he really trainable?"
"Apparently," Xander said with a shrug. "We figured you'd know more than we do."
"Oh, Spike definitely should; he's much more in touch with the demon community than we are," Angel said as he pulled out his cellphone and hit one of the numbers stored in it. "Hey, Blair, I need to talk to my childe. Because Xander and Oz were chosen to be the masters of a half hell- hound." He laughed. "Yes, I know, it's just the sort of trouble that Xander would get into."
"Hey!" Xander complained. "I don't go looking for trouble, it finds me - even when I'm being good."
Angel laughed again. "Blair said he heard that, and he begged to differ...but he wouldn't do that to your relationship." He listened to the faint voice on the other end. "Spike, get to Xander's. A hell-hound picked him to be its master." He hung up and put the phone away. "Spike should be here fairly quickly."
Spike walked into the house and slammed the door. "Thank God that's bloody well over," he muttered. "No more boring blotches and sprinkles." He sat down at the table, noticing everyone was looking at him. "What?" he growled.
"Nice to see you're still wearing the suit," Angel told him.
"Hey, I helped him buy that," Xander pouted. "He looks good in it, it brings out his eyes."
"Ta, mate," Spike said, flipping Angel off. "Now, where's the beast?"
"Half beast," Oz told him. "Humphrey?" The dog came running, his nails clicking on the wood floors. "Watch out, he slobbers."
"Oi, you're a cutie, aren't ya," Spike said, giving him a smile while looking him over. "Definitely a hell beast. Good lines on 'im." He sat the dog down, looking into it's eyes. "Yeah, it chose you to teach it to become a good Hound. He's a hunter." He scratched the beast behind the ears. "So, what'dya need from me?"
"How to train him would be a good start," Wesley said delicately. "They thought he was a normal puppy until the veterinarian told them otherwise."
"Yup, and he said we could teach it to only hunt the bad guys," Xander added. "How do you do that?"
Spike laughed. "You haven't got a clue, have you?" he said. "It'll be fine. I'll help you." He glanced at his Sire. "As long as you protect me from Blair and his idea of 'culture'. Even Seth's been gettin' antsy about it."
"Fine with us," Oz said quickly. "We're moving to South Beach in a few months."
"You are?" Angel asked.
"How? You're the guardian of the key," Wesley reminded them.
"Which was the other reason we called you up here," Xander said. "We've got to move on for a few years, and we need help finding a new guardian for the key. We can help them set up in town and everything, but we won't be able to stay away if we can't switch it off."
"And with what I am, I've got to disappear every now and then," Oz told them all. "Otherwise people start asking why I haven't aged."
"I see," Wesley said softly. "What would you need in a guardian?"
"Well, Xander makes a good one because he believes," Oz told him. "Usually we ignore the whole thing because it's not that big of a deal."
"Will someone be staying here?" Angel asked.
"One of the housekeepers will be," Xander agreed. "We're not sure which one yet, but Henri's trying to claim rights."
"We'd be willing to set them up in our old house," Oz said quietly. "We've had a house rebuilt on the lot with the insurance money, but we could never live there again. It's got too many memories for us."
"But it'd have the lawn for the key's anchor," Xander said, taking Oz's hand to hold. "All they'd have to do would be to find a job to pay for things like food."
"How'd it find you?" Spike asked.
"I took it off the guy who was draining it into Cordy," Xander told him. "We'll need Willow to anchor it for the new guardian, but otherwise all they have to do is make sure it keeps draining the Hellmouth to a stable level of energy."
Oz noticed Humphrey sniffing around Angel's chair and glared at the dog. "No, Humphrey, leave him alone." The dog trotted back to his side and sat, getting pets for being so good. "Good boy to listen," he praised.
"Yes, Angel, you might want to be careful around him," Wesley told his boss. "He's got to think that your soul isn't natural."
"Probably smells funny to him," Spike noted. He looked at the dog again. "At least you look normal, Humph."
"Humphrey," Oz corrected. "I hate it when people shorten names that way."
"It's not that bad, Oz."
"Sure it is, Will," Angel said, smirking at his growling childe. "You don't like when people do it to you. Can you help them?"
"Sure I can," Spike agreed. "Not a big thing at all. Just a higher level of obedience trainin'." He shrugged. "Still a bit too young for it, but I'll come help you whenever it's time." He scratched the dog's ears again. "Such a big boy. You're gonna make grown men piss themselves, you will." He stood up. "Anything else?"
"Nah," Xander said, giving him a smile. "How did it go?"
"Just fine," Spike said with a smirk. "The roamer had fun, mate. Said Giles is 'bout ready to beg by now." He smiled at Wesley. "You wanna ride back so you don't have to hear poufy music?"
"No, thank you," Wesley told him. "I brought my bike up in case I wanted to beg to stay the night." He smiled at Oz. "May I? So I could go walk in the woods tomorrow?"
"Sure," Xander agreed. "Not a big to us. We've got plenty of rooms."
"Watch out for the baby ferrets, they like to cuddle," Oz warned.
Wesley smiled at him. "I shall. Not that I'd mind. Stake often climbs onto the couch when I'm taking a nap and helps me by sleeping on my chest with his tail up my nose." He stood up. "I'll just go get my case." He smiled at his coworkers and hurried out to get his things.
"Gotta agree with Wes, this is a killer place," the dark skinned man said.
"It was a godsend," Xander joked lightly. "Plenty of room for all the strange turns our life has had."
Oz groaned and tackled Xander, tickling him as they rolled around on the floor. "Bad joke," he admonished. Humphrey started to bark and bounce around them, wanting to play too. "Later," he told the dog.
"I'm sorry!" Xander squealed.
Angel shook his head. "Want a tour, Gunn? I've been here enough times to know part of my way around. Or Wes could do it," he said as he watched his other employee walk in and head up the stairs.
"Nah, I'll get it next time. The room I wandered into when I was lookin' for the bathroom was enough for tonight." He stood up. "We done?"
"Yes, we're done," Angel said, standing up also. "Xander, thank you for the excellent dinner. We'll let you get on with your...playtime." He quickly walked out, followed by Gunn, who just waved and smiled.
Wesley snickered as soon as he heard the door close. "And he didn't even walk into the writing room." He smiled fondly at the couple on the floor. "I'm glad you're still happy, the both of you, even with what Giles is doing."
"Besides cheating on us?" Xander asked.
"He's been playing in the dark arts," Wesley said, starting to frown. "He's cheating on you? With whom?"
"The Amanda woman," Xander said with a shrug. "She's getting hers too." He gave him a cruel smile. "I'm having fun showing them the error of their arrogance and stupidity."
"You're scary like this," Oz said, climbing off him. He looked toward the front door. "Spike, still here?"
"Yeah, mate, wanted to wait for the poof to head home. Looks better on me." He walked back into the dining room. "Don't worry, Wes, Xander here had me find a roamer demon. Both a'them are payin' heavily at the moment." He smirked. "Even if I do say so myself. Xander, I'm gonna head to the library."
"Go read my next chapter," Xander offered. "I need a demonic perspective, and after my last book, Micah swore never to read anything of mine ever again."
Spike shrugged and came around, pulling Xander off the floor. "Show me where it is and I'll read it for you. Not a big for me." He followed Xander into the writing room, taking the laptop once the file was opened for him, and settling in to read this new chapter of the erotic thriller that Xander was working on.
Amanda woke up screaming, clutching her chest. She started to cry. "I'm sorry!" she screamed. "No more!"
The man beside her on the bed reached back and patted her on the arm. "Another one?" the former cop asked.
"Yes," she sniffled, curling up on his chest. "Make them stop, Nick, please?"
"I'll do my best," he promised, cuddling her tightly. It had helped the other nights she'd had nightmares.
Oz looked at Xander, who was reading on the bed beside him. "What's a roamer demon?"
Xander looked at him then went back to reading. "It reminds you of your fondest nightmares."
"No one has fond nightmares," Ray said from the bottom of the bed.
"Not that sort of fond," Oz said, frowning at Xander. "You had something go into their dreams to punish them?"
"Only once or twice, just enough to get my point across," Xander said innocently.
Oz took the book and put it on his bedside table. "Xander, that was cruel."
"And what he did wasn't?" Xander asked, looking shocked. "Oz, he *cheated* on us. Something he's not supposed to do."
"Yeah, but you're not supposed to make his life a living hell because'a it," Ray pointed out. "That's what divorce is for."
Oz groaned and held his head. "We can't be divorced," he remembered. "Cupid and everyone sanctioned our marriage."
"Yup, so I'm making my point so it'll never happen again," Xander said firmly. "Do we have problems with that?" Both other men shook their heads. "Good. Oz, my book, please?" he asked.
Oz handed back the book. "Here. But they'd better not be permanently hurt."
"Nah," a voice drifted out over the air. "Giles is in the hospital, and no one's gonna take his head. And the walking-fingers woman is being kept sane by her friends. They've got the point."
"I'll tell Spike that the roamer demon can leave them alone then," Xander said, getting out of the bed and heading down to his writing room. "Spike?" he asked as he walked in. He sat down beside his friend, giving him a hug. "I'm sorry, I didn't know it was that sad. I thought it was only mildly angsty."
Spike wiped off his face. "S'good," he said gruffly. "What now?"
"Strife said they were already punished the point of hospitalization, that the roamer demons did a very good job, but they could quit now."
Spike nodded. "'Kay, I'll call 'em and tell 'em that." He gave Xander an impromptu hug. "Great work, whelp. Lookin' forward to the rest of it. Just a few mistakes and all." He stood up and left the house quickly, not wanting to embarrass himself.
Xander grinned and shut down his laptop. He liked the instant feedback. Maybe Spike would like to see the first book in the series.
Giles looked at the image on his computer screen, giving it the most pained and pitiful look he could. "Ethan, I have no idea what's wrong with me," he begged. "Please."
"Ripper, it should be obvious. You're being punished for something or other. What have you done recently?"
"Well," he said, then he shook himself. Not even Strife could be this mean. "Nothing."
Ethan snorted. "I bet. Ripper, you're starting to mess in things that you haven't before. That's bound to draw some attention to you. Maybe if you tell me the subject of these nightmares?" he sighed. His former friend hadn't been very forthcoming about what was really going on with him, even though he was expected to fix it.
"It's about me cheating on my mates," Giles said finally.
"You did what?" Ethan shrieked. "Giles, you know better! Even I know what you're messing with, and I'm not the one bound to them!"
"Ethan, I admit I'm stupid, but I couldn't control myself. The more I use my abilities, the more my libido grows. I've even had to resort to picking up women and paying for it." He frowned at the snickering on the other end of the video-chat. "It's not funny, Ethan."
"Oh, it is, Ripper, it really is. You're messing with extreme powers, and it has to bleed off somewhere. Where else would it go in such a controlled person?" He fell out of his chair.
"Ethan!" Giles said sharply. "It's not funny!"
"Oh, but it is." He finally got back into his chair, his face schooled into a calm look. "So, do you think it was your mates or one of the Gods you pissed off?"
"I have no idea, but I'd bet it was Strife." He grimaced. "I have no doubt that Xander put him up to it."
Ethan shook his head. "Giles, you have no idea what that boy is capable of on his own. You might try apologizing and explaining this to them, before you can never sleep again." He hung up and looked at the person standing behind him. "It really was the boy?"
Strife handed him a book. "He wrote that," he said with a shrug. "He's got the will and the mind."
Ethan shook his head. "Ripper screwed himself royally this time. I want to keep out of it."
"Hey, that's easy, don't pick a side." He pinched Ethan's nose, then disappeared in a shower of gray sparkles.
Ethan leaned back in his desk chair, starting on the novel. Anything that made the God of Mischief want to read it was probably something he wanted to read. A few hours later, he forced himself to put it down and go take a walk. That boy had some very *nasty* and *naughty* ideas. Nothing like his sex instruction manuals at all. He handed off the book to one of his coworkers, one who knew Xander a bit better, and continued on his trek to get some fresh air. "I want it back later," he warned as he walked.
Xander finished his last chapter in this new book and saved it, password protecting it. He really didn't want to have these published, but they were fun to write. He leaned back in his chair, smiling as the last page finished printing out. He slid fasteners through the already-punched holes and patted the front page, happy with himself. "Methos," he said as the older immortal walked past his doorway. "Will you proof something for me?"
"Of course," Methos agreed, coming in and sitting down. "Is this another like the last one? Something else that you're not going to have published?"
Xander curled up in his seat. "I just feel like no one would take me seriously, not after the sex manuals." He shrugged. "Besides, I'm really not sure these are good enough. These came out way too easily. Anything that easy probably isn't that good."
"Whatever," Methos said, knowing he couldn't change the young man's mind. "I'll read this, but Ray insisted that if this one made me as horny as the last one that I had to come jump you." Xander grinned at that. "All right, I'll read it; you go get ready for me."
Xander stood up and gave him a light kiss as he walked past him. "Thank you." He headed up to his room, going to get ready for his friend. As long as everyone said it was okay.... "Oz, Ray said Meth had to jump me if my latest stuff made him horny," he said as he walked into their room.
"Yeah, Meth made him too sore to sit last time," Oz said, rolling onto his side and putting down his magazine. "You're done?"
"Yeah, it came out really easily," Xander said as he sat down beside his mate. "I still don't think it's any good and he's just humoring me."
Oz cuddled Xander close. "I love you, even though you're insecure," Oz whispered in his ear, giving it a kiss. "I thought it was great."
"But you're my husband and Meth's my friend. You're both supposed to say things like that."
Oz snorted. "Maybe, but didn't Spike like the chapter you had him read?" Xander shrugged. "You didn't ask him?"
"Nope, he left as soon as he got done, and he didn't say anything about it when I went down to talk to him last night." He snuggled in. "Neither of them are very long," he complained. "Barely two hundred pages this time."
"Some books are better short," Oz told him. "Some books are meant to be epics. Personally, and I'm not saying this because you're my husband, I think the first one was great. It made me horny, and it made me depressed in spots, but it was definitely great."
"Maybe," Xander said. "So, are you going to be in here when Methos comes in and tells me it wasn't that arousing?"
"Yup. I want to watch." He licked up the side of his husband's throat. "Go get ready, Xander. Take a long soak and get soft skin." He pushed Xander up and watched him head into the bathroom. "I ought to send it out and let an editor tell him it's good," he told himself as he picked back up his magazine. "He'd kill me though."
"You got that right," came from the bathroom.
"But it'd make you feel better to know one way or the other," Oz called back.
"Not even to the editor that knows and works with you already?"
"No! Definitely not. I don't want him disappointed in me and canceling my contract."
"All right, but I want you to at least call him and ask him if he'd read it."
Xander stuck his head out of the bathroom. "No. And I don't want you going behind my back and talking to him about it either. I don't want him disappointed in me." He pulled his head back in and shut the door.
"Turtle Xander, a new Xander I've never encountered," Oz muttered.
Ray snickered from the doorway. "Where's my man?"
"Reading the next in Xander's new books that he won't let anyone outside of the family see."
"Ah. So, Xander's taking care of him afterwards?"
"Yup." Oz patted the bed.
"Nah, I'm gonna go walk the dogs." He grinned. "Have fun." He walked away.
Oz hummed. "I always have fun when I watch those two together." He went back to his reading, sure Xander was making himself soft and alluring for them.
Methos panted as he ran into the master bedroom, and Oz pointed at the bathroom. "Still?" he groaned.
"Bath still," Oz said with a shrug. "Already done?"
"Second chapter." Methos ran into the bathroom and Oz smiled as he heard splashing and groaning.
"Yeah, definitely got to do something to make the rest of the world horny with those. I don't think Xander's going to be able to take us all this time."
"Xander!" Methos screamed. "Naughty boy!"
Oz snickered. "Yup, that about sums him up. That and sewing fiend."
Oz walked into the writing room, looking over at his friend. "Problems?" he asked as he picked up the box of tissues and held it out.
"No, he just hit an emotional spot." He blew his nose. "This is really great, Oz. He's got to get these out."
"I've been trying, but he's being stubborn." He sat down in Xander's writing chair. "What's this one about?"
"A very screwed up individual. It'll definitely push your kinks." He blew his nose again and picked back up the manuscript to continue reading. "Oz, is he resting?" he asked a few pages later.
"Yup, but he's tied to the bed so he can't get away from you. Whenever you're done, he's there."
"Good. I think I'll need to wear some more lust out. This is really good. He's got some very lusty spots, and some very deep emotional spots that make you want to cuddle someone." He flipped the page. "And he puts them right next to each other so it's even more emotional."
Oz handed over the box of tissues again. "Keep it, it sounds like you'll be needing it again soon." He stood up and walked out, mentally shaking his head. His Xander was a great writer, but he could screw with your head better than Stephen King and make you feel sorry for some of the sickest characters.
Methos lurched into the bedroom, glaring at the man hitched to the bed. "You evil bastard," he breathed. "You killed him!"
"I'm sorry?" Xander said, hoping it was the right answer. "He finally got understood."
Methos walked over to the bed and pulled the thin sheet off Xander's body, kissing him hard as he stripped himself. "You're still a bastard. You made me want to care for the sick asshole, and then you killed him just when you thought he was finally going to find someone who understood and would be with him." He pulled Xander's legs up and thrust into the prepared channel. "I should fuck all those thoughts out of your head. Clean it for Oz."
"He likes my dirty mind," Xander complained, adjusting and relaxing so he was comfortable too. This was going to be a long, hard ride. "I did my best to make sure that she continued to love him and to take his place."
"I noticed," Methos grunted, thrusting harder. "You made me want to care for her too, all because she fell in love with a sick man." He screamed in frustration as he came. "I should leave you like that," he panted.
"Release me and I'll make it all better," Xander promised, giving him big, serious eyes.
Methos released the slim leather strap and rolled onto his back, waving at his body. "Yes, make it all better, Xander."
Xander rolled on top of the stressed out body, soothing it with his fingers and tongue as he moved over every inch of tight skin. He skipped the wet cock, moving down to stroke across the hairy calves and thighs, sucking lightly at the soft and ticklish spots. The body under him wiggled, and he moved back up the chest, licking only this time. He made it to the lips and stole a kiss, moving the rest of his body up so he could slip Methos' cock back into him. As he started a gentle ride, he felt the warm hands come up to brace him, so he smiled at the man under him. "Are you starting to feel better yet?" he whispered, leaning down for another kiss.
"No, she's still taking after him."
"You never finished," Xander said happily. "You'll feel better about the ending."
"I hope so, because where I left off was making me quite upset." Methos shoved up hard. "More, imp. I can't take more teasing. I've been teased for hours now by your mind, and I can't take more from your body."
Xander smiled. "I think that's the nicest compliment I've ever gotten." He leaned backwards, grabbing his lover's ankles as Methos pushed up into him.
"Oh, I like that one," Ray said as he walked in and laid down on the bed beside them. He leaned over and sucked in Xander's cock, making his own lover groan.
Methos started pushing in harder, working it as much as he could. He loved watching Xander and Ray pleasure each other, it was one of his favorite turn-ons. He came with a muted groan, not wanting to interrupt the two younger men. He helped Xander stretch out, rubbing over Ray's back as they continued to suck at each other's cocks. Ray came first, moaning into the warm flesh and causing Xander to come. "So very beautiful," Methos sighed, pulling them both into his arms. "I'll finish the last few pages in a little while," he said through a yawn.
Xander smirked at Ray. "He was upset because I killed the guy."
"He shouldn't have died, Xander," Methos murmured.
"I promise, he's not really gone," Xander whispered to him. "It'll be all okay by the last page."
Ray grinned at him. "You did it again, didn'cha?" he asked.
Xander shrugged. "I still say it's not good enough to be printed."
"Xander, dreck is printed as real books every day," Methos murmured, half-asleep. "Those are much better than most of the crap that's on the shelves today. You're sending it to your editor tomorrow, or I'm going to drag you down there in handcuffs and make you hand it over." He gave Ray a squeeze. "He'll help."
"'Kay, if you say so," Xander said, looking at Ray and shaking his head.
Ray nodded. "Oh, yeah. I'll even be nice and use the padded ones."
Xander shook his head. "He won't like it."
"Yeah, he will," Ray assured him, giving him a hug. "Now, sleep, before he gets his energy back."
"Oh, I'm sure he'll be back after the last few pages," Xander said with a smirk.
The next morning Xander was dragged into his editor's office by Methos and Ray and forced to hand over both manuscripts. "Here, they said I had to give these to you," he said with a pout.
"I'd hope so...considering we have a contract," his editor said dryly. He flipped through the top one's first few pages. "Not another sex manual?"
"No, erotic thrillers," Methos said, adjusting himself. "He's concerned that it's not good enough to print."
The editor looked at Xander over the top of the page. "You've always had low self- esteem, haven't you?"
Xander nodded. "Only about my writing."
"Well, I'll definitely look these over," the editor said, putting them down. He smiled as Xander and Ray left, but not Methos. "Are they worth reading?"
"I jumped my Ray four times during the first one and spent myself three times with Xander during the second." He smiled. "Trust me, read them in order. The boy has a way of making you accept and love to loathe some very sick people with some very bad kinks." He looked at the manuscripts and shifted them around. "That one's first. Trust me, you won't be able to put them down either." He walked out, leaving the man alone.
The editor picked up the first book and started on it, having to get up after twenty pages to get some ice so he wouldn't mess up his office. "Oh, yeah, this boy's got to get these out." He walked them down to his boss' office. His boss may be straighter and more uptight about the publishing house's image, but not even he could say no to these. And if the old man did, he'd take the books and start his own company; these would make him millions. "Sir," he said after tapping on the door. "Xander Harris just submitted two books for approval, both erotic thrillers. Both guaranteed to make you cry at the same time that you want to grab someone and rub them raw." His boss held out a hand so he handed them over, watching as his boss started reading the first one. Within a few minutes, the old man was sweating, and a few minutes after that, he had to call an ambulance because the man had collapsed after grasping his chest. "Sir, does that mean we're doing them?" he asked as the paramedics rushed in.
"Yes, print them," the senior editor gasped as they put the oxygen mask on him.
"Yes, sir. I'll prioritize them and get the edits back to the author as soon as possible." He got out of their way, taking the books with him so he could go work on them. Maybe after reading them for a second time, he wouldn't get distracted.
Xander stomped into the house and flopped down on one of the couches, continuing to sulk. "He didn't like them, I know he didn't," Xander muttered when Methos walked into the room. He was handed a message and read it reluctantly, then frowned and looked up. "Huh?"
"Oz took the message after we'd left." Methos sat down beside him and pulled him in for a cuddle. "It seems that the first book gave the senior editor, the one above yours, a heart attack. They're prioritizing the books, and you'll have the edits within three weeks." He tapped the message. "They did like it, just like we did."
"No buts," Methos told him, giving him a squeeze. "You're a very talented writer, Xander; you should have confidence about your writing, the same sort that you have about your sex appeal."
"Yeah, but most people don't see things the way I do. They don't understand how my mind works, and why their narrow view of the world is what's really killing them."
"And while that's a good point," Oz said as he walked in, handing over a glass of lemonade, "they still want to be titillated by something risque and out of the ordinary. Otherwise, horror stories wouldn't be as popular as they are." He cuddled in on the other side of his husband. "Everyone who's read those books and that know you were intensely aroused by them. The people that didn't know you and read them were aroused but maybe not as much. You've got the touch to titillate and thrill, not to mention make horny. You should never doubt it, Xander. You're an excellent writer. You should be confident about that."
"But no one buys my books."
"Yeah, they do. You're not a top seller, but you're a favorite to read. I've heard of people buying your first sex manual and handing it to their children once they got old enough to need it." He rubbed Xander's thigh gently. "Why do you stress over the little stuff? You've got a contract so that means you're good. You've kept the contract so that means that you're making the company some money."
"I'm getting hate mail," Xander said quietly.
"Of the 'I hate you' sort?" Methos asked.
"No, of the 'you should burn in hell and die horribly, in that order' sort." He sighed. "She said I was a sick and perverted person, and that not even God would ever forgive me. Oh, and that she was personally going to start a campaign to get me banned from publishing or from coming into this country again."
"Wow, really bad hate mail," Oz agreed, taking the glass of lemonade and putting it aside so he could give his husband a hug. "You knew that there were sick people in the world, babe," he said quietly. "She's just proved the point."
"Why shouldn't you be allowed back into the country?" Methos asked. "You're a citizen."
"Yeah, but his profile in the back of most of the books said that he travels extensively," Oz told him.
"Still, they can't keep you out of your own country."
"No, but she's already started a group to try and force bookstores to ban me," Xander told him, looking up at him. "They sent me a very nice letter about how filthy, unclean, and unholy I am."
"Damn," Methos muttered. "Did you do anything?"
"I sent them a nice letter about their opinions and thanking them for the publicity." He grinned. "They've now gotten hold of one of my email addresses. I'm being deluged by hate mail there too. It's a real strong campaign to get me to quit writing."
"Then you'll definitely have to write more," Oz told him. "People like that need to be shot, but all you can do is persevere and keep going."
"Have you told your editor yet?" Methos asked.
"Because this is something he probably should know about," Oz agreed. "It's not the logical step, but it might be of some help."
"I'll do that today," Xander sighed. "But it is free publicity. They've even gotten articles in the New York Times about how they're trying to stop me and how I mocked them with that letter."
"Hmm, sounds like we may need to do something more profound than sit back and laugh at them," Ray said as he walked in. He looked down at Xander, hands on his hips. "And you didn't tell us about this why, young man?"
"Because they weren't going to do anything physically to me," Xander told him. "All they're doing is throwing words and being bullies."
"Hey, bullies can be handled," Ray reminded him, leaning down for a kiss. "Call your editor and give him the information, or do whatever he wants you to do with it if he doesn't want it." He grinned. "And if he can't do anything about it, then we'll have to do something else, huh?"
"We can't do anything too high profile," Oz reminded him. "Xander's past and our lives aren't that hard to find if you're being vindictive and really looking for it."
"Maybe I should switch identities," Xander said thoughtfully. "Maybe it's time."
"It might happen, but let's see what your editor can do about it first, okay?" Methos suggested, standing up. "Come on, let's go talk to him." He heaved Oz and Xander up as one, letting them lead the way into the office so Xander could log into his email account and get his bookmarks.
Xander hung up, feeling a little better. Letting the editor know had turned into them telling the legal and publicity departments and getting them working on it, after the editor had told them about the two new books coming out. They'd deal with the assholes now, and Xander could focus on the important stuff... like making everyone around him happy again.
"So, how do we decorate the new house?" he asked over dinner.
TO BE CONTINUED....