Setting Up Love Nests.
Xander looked around the selection at the furniture store, shaking his head at the tacky seating group that was in front of him. "Nope, not for my house." He walked on, stopping and making note of a few of the individual pieces, then continuing on. He finally came to the bed department and looked around them, stopping at the 'family sized' beds, a slow smile coming over his face.
"Sir, may I help you find something?" a salesman asked.
Xander looked at him. "Do you work on commission or straight salary?"
"Both actually, why?" the salesman asked, looking confused.
"Because I'm moving down here to my second home with my lovers," Xander said simply. "I like these pieces so far," he said, handing over the list, "and I need one of these beds, but it's got to have great back support. I do work on a forge so I'm bent over all day."
"Yes, sir," the salesman said quickly, reading the list. "No sitting groups have struck you?"
Xander shook his head. "No, and personally I think a few of them were tacky and belong with cement ducks."
The salesman laughed. "Yes, sir, I can see most of them going that way, but some people like to decorate with ducks, and even cows."
"And chickens," Xander said with great humor. "My lovers are all very cultured though and a taste for things from the Renaissance and places like Ancient Greece. We need them to be comfortable, sturdy, subtle, and durable. My living room is a neutral blue, my bathroom is tan, and our library requires wood."
The salesman nodded. "We can do that," he agreed. "Why don't we start with the bed, and then we'll go look at the pricier collections upstairs?"
"That would be fine," Xander said, pointing at the biggest bed, commonly called a California or Family bed. "I need that one, as long as it has good back support."
"You can lay down and try it out if you like," the salesman offered. He'd *never* sold one of those beds; his next paycheck was going to be hefty, just from this one bed. He watched as the young man laid down and rolled around a bit, even bouncing some. "Is that good enough?"
"It creaks," Xander said, sounding disappointed. "It's okay otherwise."
"I've got another one in stock, you can try that one out."
"Okay." Xander got up and followed him up to the second floor gallery, then up to the third floor storage area. He laid down on this one and sighed, it was much too soft. "I'm feeling like Goldilocks here," he pouted, heading over to look at the other mattresses stacked around the area. He found one in the back and pushed hard on it. "Can we try this one?"
"Of course." He helped the young man bring it down and watched as he laid on it. "It's the box spring that really squeaks," he offered.
"Can I get that top downstairs on a different box spring?"
"We might have to order it, but we could put two king box springs together and do it that way. That's what those beds are, two king sized beds together."
Xander thought about it then nodded. "Okay, as long as it looks okay." He had help standing up and helped put the mattress back up against the wall. "I liked that one mattress. It was firm enough."
"All right," the salesman said, marking down the mattress in his little book. "Let's go and pick out some more, shall we?" He led Xander back down to the second floor gallery, letting him pick out whatever he wanted. This was going to be a *good* sale. He was surprised when the young man paid in cash, but sometimes you just had to be discrete, especially when setting up a love nest.
Xander looked up from his writing on the porch, watching the movers move in their entertainment center, pointing at a corner when they started toward him. They nodded and went that way instead. The work crew had gotten all the painting done that morning, at least everywhere that furniture was coming for, and had even volunteered to help move in the furniture since there was so much of it. He watched as the bed was carried past him, smiling at the simplicity of the oak and metal four-poster bed and the larger than normal mattresses. He quickly wrote another paragraph, then saved his next story, putting his laptop away before he could lose it again. How he had lost it in an empty building he wasn't sure, but he had. It had been nice of the delivery man to have spotted it for him. He walked in and looked around at the rooms as they were shaping up, smiling at the simple, but good-feeling furniture and groupings that he had purchased. Now if only he had a lover here to try them out. He jumped at the knock to the door, walking over to smile at the semi-familiar man standing there. "Yes?"
"Alexander Harris?" he asked, stepping inside.
"Yup, tis me," he said happily. "Do I know you?"
"Actually, sir, I represent Wolfram and Hart. Our new owner asked me to send you something." He held out an envelope. "It's not a summons," he said when the young man didn't take it. "He said it's to pay back the loan you gave him to buy us."
Xander took the envelope and opened it carefully, smiling at the cashier's check sitting inside it. "Wow. This is really nice of him, but he didn't have to." He looked up but the messenger was gone. He shrugged it off and went to put the envelope away so he wouldn't lose it too. As a matter of fact, it went right in with his laptop, and both went into the newly arrived wardrobe. He stopped being happy at the cleared throat, turning to look at the foreman. "What's up?" he asked.
"We're almost done for the day. Are there any more deliveries coming?"
"I think only supper's left, but I can handle that one," Xander said with a faint smile. The foreman smiled right back. "Thank the guys for me, 'kay? And tell them that they definitely earned that bonus."
"I will. And we've got about a day's worth of work left, maybe two, and then it's all yours."
"Yup, all mine and my husband's," Xander said, giving a pat to a nearby wall.
"I thought you said lovers," the foreman asked, looking confused again.
"Oh, my husband was included in that, but not the second one, and our friends, who are also married are coming down to join us too. Theirs is the second bedroom."
The foreman shook his head. "Then who gets the apartment?"
"The housekeeper. Whichever one comes down."
"You've got more than one housekeeper?"
Xander pulled out his wallet and showed off the picture of his house, which was next to a picture of the five of them and all their animals. "That's my house, and my babies," Xander told him.
"Wow. You must really be loaded."
Xander nodded. "Good investments," he said simply. "Started out with not so much money, and I made it make baby money. Then I grabbed a hobby which made me more money."
The foreman laughed. "At least you're happy. Lots of people with money are only pretending to be happy."
"Yup, I'm very happy with everything but my second husband at the moment," Xander told him, giving him a dreamy smile. "Matter of fact, I'm going to try my big, huge tub out and get happier. Oh, and where's the nearest drug store or porn shop? I need lube for when my lovers get down here."
"Drug store's about six blocks east," he said, pointing the way, "but it's a Christian run place so I'm not sure it'd have lube. I know it doesn't carry condoms." He shrugged lightly. "Nearest red light district is in Miami proper, 'bout six miles away or so. I know there's a closer place; you could probably look it up in the phone book."
"Yeah, I think I'll do that," Xander said. "Thanks." He turned and started the water in his bathtub, fiddling with the knobs and buttons until he got the setting he wanted. "Oh, I'm *so* gonna enjoy this." He turned and closed the door, not needing to watch the workmen anymore. They had it. And he had his tub to try out. He definitely had the better deal of the two.
Xander took his fast food down to the basement level, heading for his portion of the space. He looked over his forge setup, nodding at how it was connected. Apparently the right people had connected it for the workmen. Then he walked over to where his sewing area would be. He snorted at the few racks he could see, but pulled them out, showing off the one behind it. He counted slots and shook his head. "Need at least another set of these," he told himself. "I'll tell them tomorrow." He imagined shoving one of his rolls of fabric in and shuddered. "Yeah, we're going to have to fix that, but I won't take their bonus away from them for it." He walked over to the practice area, stepping onto the hardwood floor and admiring the mirrors. "Nice, good." He mentally measured the space and shook his head. "We'll need more of this and lights," he said, looking up. "Maybe they've got to do more down here." He looked at the unfinished cement floor, shrugging. "Maybe. There was supposed to be carpet down here for the unused areas." He headed back up, going to make notes for the foreman tomorrow. Maybe he wouldn't miss his Oz so much if he was working. Or he could always get some more written, that was always an option too. He settled down to eat at the new table, opening his laptop to start on the notes first, before he lost his train of thought. Then he opened his latest story and flipped down to a few pages before where he had ended, starting to read so he could get back into the groove again.
The next morning, the foreman wasn't smiling as usual. "I know, it was probably on my end," Xander told him, "but they're all pretty small things."
"Yeah, they are," the foreman said. "I thought the practice space woulda been big enough."
"Ever seen people sword fight at a Ren Fair or someplace?" The foreman shook his head. "How about in the movies?"
"A few times, but they moved all over."
"Exactly," Xander agreed. "Our one at home is a full room's worth. So maybe three times as much space is needed."
"We can do that in a few hours," the foreman sighed. "But your new racks will take longer. We had to have those custom made."
"Hey, as long as they get done sometime," Xander said simply. "See, when I buy fabric, I buy it by the bolt."
"Oh. You sew *that* much?"
"I make almost all our clothes." He ran his hand down his pants leg. "I made these."
"Then you're really good," the foreman said. "Okay, I can call our carpenter and ask him to make you another set. Want them put beside the ones that are already up?"
"That I'd like to have your opinion on. That and the lighting situation."
"Well, those are something we're still working on. See, a few of the fixtures were supposed to be in today."
"Then I'm really happy," Xander told him, giving him a smile. "What about the carpeting for the in between areas?"
"We never got that one." He pulled out the original work orders and flipped through them, then showed them to his boss.
"Oh," Xander said, pointing at the page numbers. "One of the pages must have stuck in our fax. It's been doing that on and off now for a few months." He pointed at the page number again. "See? Hold on, I've got it on my computer." He headed over to the table, calling up the form he had made to do the work order, pulling up that specific page. "Here, come look," he offered.
The foreman came over and sat down to read, nodding after a few minutes. "I can see where most of the screw ups are now. These are all easily fixed but it'll take us at least a few days."
"Hey, I'm not impatient," Xander told him, patting him on the shoulder, "and you guys still deserve the bonus since our fax screwed it up." The foreman smiled at that. "But everything on there is doable?"
"Definitely doable," the foreman agreed, standing up. "Can you print that out?"
"I could if I had a printer," Xander sighed. "I left that at home. At least until the boxes get here with the movers, which should be later today."
"Let me make a few notes." He sat down again and wrote down the items that would take the longest and be the most pressing, on the original work order form. "All right, let me go to the warehouse, and we'll get everything started." He was handed a credit card. "What's this for?"
"Overruns," Xander said simply.
The foreman looked at the name on it, then at his boss. "You're the one who wrote the book?" he asked.
Xander nodded. "Yup, I'm the guy who wrote that book. Writing's a really good way of getting some of your darker mental images out." He sat down and smiled. "I wasn't going to send those to my editor, but my husband and our friends insisted. They dragged me down there in handcuffs."
The foreman shook his head. "Whatever. If you weren't going to publish that, why did you have an editor?"
"Because I had written a few of the 'how to have good sex' manuals."
"Oh." The foreman nodded. "Wow."
"And some porn," Xander added as an afterthought. "I was bored."
The foreman shook his head. "No wonder you needed that big of a tub."
"Yup," Xander said happily. "My lovers give me plenty of inspiration for those books. And one of my husbands cheating on me gave me good inspiration for the third book in the dark series."
"Wow." He waved and walked away, tagging one of his workers to go with him after he gave out the new orders.
Xander settled in to sip his coffee and start writing again. He only had his own deadline to follow, but it was a firm one in his mind.
The foreman slid into the booth next to his brother-in-law, who occasionally wrote for one of the local 'famous people' gossip rags. "Do you know the guy who wrote the book?" he asked quietly.
"That dark, sick, disgusting one that you can't put down."
"Oh, yeah, Harris or something like that. Why?"
"I'm working on renovating his new house. His new love nest for his husbands and lovers."
"Oh, wow," the brother-in-law said, wiping his hands off and taking the papers the other man held out. "What's this?"
"The work orders. I had to pull them today because we missed a few things, due to his fax's problem. He's a great guy, is even giving us our early completion bonus even though we might not finish for another week."
"Really nice guy then." He looked up. "So, got any dirt for me?"
"He bought the bathtub that was advertised to hold six linebackers," the foreman said dryly. "He sews and he had us put in a forge, seems like he knows what he's doing with both. And he has a sword. Threatened some woman with it the first day."
"Whoa, that's juicy. Do you know her?"
"She's been watching the house ever since he got there," he said with a shrug. "Could be part of his hate group."
"Maybe. Or maybe just a general stalker." The guy handed the papers back. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, actually. I recognized his name on the credit card he gave me today to go get the new materials we needed. He said parts of his third book are based on what he wants to do to his cheating second husband."
"The man's got *two* husbands?"
"Wow. Okay, that's some good shit." The brother-in-law wrote it down on the little notebook in his pocket. "I wonder how he keeps up?"
"When he was opening his wallet, I saw another card in there. Something about GHSS?" he said with a smug smile. They'd gone to school with someone who was part of that organization.
"No wonder," the brother-in-law said. "Maybe I should call Greg and ask him if he's heard of the kid." He smiled suddenly. "Oh, man, we'll have dirt for *ages*."
"I tell you, this kid's loaded. He showed me a picture of his first house big, huge manor house. And his 'babies' as he called them, all five humans and eighteen animals. Seems like he takes in strays."
"Wonder if he'd adopt me," the brother-in-law said with a faint smile.
"As long as my wife don't get upset, it wouldn't hurt you to ask. But you can't say it was from the work crew, got it?"
"Sure, not a problem, man. All of this can be verified other ways. I'm all for protecting family." He slid over the two-fifty reward for information and gossip. "Buy the wife a present, she's been feeling pregnant again."
The foreman sighed. "I know. We got a positive test yesterday." He pocketed the money and finished his lunch, talking about his three other kids.
Xander watched as their moved stuff was put into one of the back rooms that wasn't going to be touched again, tipping the driver generously for leaving the computer stuff out. He locked the door behind him then went into the newly named office space to set it up. Oz would be so proud of him, he could hook up a computer by himself. He even hooked up their cable modem and got online to do a search for his hate group. He found a new article on their page, frowning as he read the source. "Already?" he whined. "I'm not even fully moved in." He read it quickly, glaring at the computer. "Uh-huh. Gonna pound someone," he noted. He thought back. Any of the crew could have heard him complaining about Giles, but only one had been told that parts of the newest story were based on Giles' problems. He could deal with this. After he made a little call. Methos was going to hear about this one, not Oz.
Xander packed up his laptop and moved out onto his new porch, and he finally relaxed. It'd only taken a few hours worth of katas and a long shower to get him to this new calm state. He looked down and saw his stalker, giving her a pleasant wave as he sat down to enjoy his coffee and the sunset. They had picked the perfect house and not even his hate group and gossip mongers could take that away from him. Not even the workers betraying his trust could make him get tense again, because he forced himself to relax. It could have been an accident. He'd find out tomorrow.
Xander looked up as the foreman walked over with the new invoice to add to the pile on the desk. "So, I saw an article about me yesterday," he said casually, staring in the man's eyes.
"I didn't know he was going to write it, Mr. Harris, I swear," the foreman said, hoping this guy couldn't tell he was lying. This would be a reference job.
"I see." Xander stood up and faced the older man down. "Listen very closely to me now," he said quietly and coldly. "If anything else leaks out about my private life, I'll know who to blame, and I'm not above screwing people over for interrupting my private life. I need my privacy, the same as you do, and I doubt you'd like to have your life exposed like that." The foreman swallowed. "I see you understand. I'm not going to mention this to anyone, but I will not tolerate any more slips like this. Got me here?"
The foreman nodded. "I do," he agreed. "And I'm really sorry, Mr. Harris. I won't let anything else slip."
"Good, because I'd hate to have to think about being mean to a nice guy like you. You've been very good so far and I'd like to continue to like you the way I did yesterday, when I respected you." He sat back down again. "Needed anything besides a signature?"
"No...no, just a signature," the foreman said, taking the papers and leaving the office quickly.
Sometimes, it paid for people to think that you were slightly mean and cruel, or so Methos had told him last night. Now he knew the old immortal had gotten that right too. Now if only he were here....
Someone knocked on the door and Xander got up to answer it, smiling at the man and his stalker on the other side. "Yes? If you're soliciting, I have almost no money left after renovations."
"No, we're not," the man said, obviously in good humor. "And we're not here for a religion either. May we come in, young Xander, mate to Oz?"
"Sure." Xander let them in and led them over to one of the sitting groups. "You know Oz, so you must be the immie he met after we signed for the house."
Richard nodded. "I am indeed; you may call me Richard." They shook hands. "And this is Mariana. I believe you've already met?" he asked, still looking like he was in good humor.
"Yeah, she got snarky and I had jetlag," Xander said with a light shrug. He smiled at her. "Nice to know you're not part of my hate group yet."
She snorted. "Don't count on it. Your last book was disgusting."
"Yay, it got it out of my mind."
Richard sighed. "Children, please," he said, breaking into their argument. "I have no desire to fight with any of you."
"That's what Oz told me," Xander agreed. "I really don't want to fight either. I think I'm going to have enough of one with the press soon enough."
"Yes, I saw that one article." Richard handed over a small box from inside his pocket. "Here, a housewarming present."
"A cricket?" Xander guessed, giving him a smile. "Gee, I never really got into Chinese culture."
"A truly horrible show," Richard said, smiling back. Mariana glared at both of them. "Now, what's this I hear about your second mate cheating?"
"He's says it's because he's expanding his magical horizons, and it's making him horny," Xander sighed, sitting back in his comfortable chair. "Cupid said he's even taken up with a few pros in Vegas."
"I see. If you'd like, I might be able to talk to him. I've dabbled in both sides of the art for many centuries now."
"How much older than Oz are you?" Xander asked.
"In some circles that could be considered impolite," Richard warned, "but I'm more than a century older than him."
"So, older than Methos?" Xander guessed. In his experience, only the really old ones didn't like to talk about how old they were. "He always says he's the oldest."
"He doesn't know about me, none of them do," Richard said with a shrug. "Mariana's actually from a time between Methos and your Oz." He smiled again. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way, how old are you?"
"Nearly forty, if we're not counting the time I spent on other planes."
"How much would that be?" Mariana asked.
"Eight hundred in one time, sixteen months in another. Another was four months. And about a week on a demon plane."
"Demons don't exist," she scoffed.
"Yes, they do," Richard said quietly. "If you had looked around you, you'd have seen them." He turned back to his host. "You must forgive her; she hates Methos with a passion."
"He's an arrogant bastard who burned down my village, then sat on a hill and watched us run around trying to put it out," she protested.
"Yeah, he said he *used* to do a lot of that," Xander told her. "He's changed now. He hardly ever fights, him or Oz. I get into more fights than those two do."
Mariana looked him over, then shook her head. "I don't want to know."
"Probably not," Xander agreed, turning his attention back to the present. "May I?"
Xander opened the box carefully and smiled at the small leaves inside. "Tea?"
"Bathing herbs. They're to soothe the more homicidal urges all humans have."
"Oh, a body tea," Xander said with a grin, putting it aside.
"Yes, basically," Richard said, matching his smile. "Just remember not to use more than a pinch at a time. It's very potent."
"I have a *very* big bathtub," Xander told him.
"Still, a pinch will do enough, even in Roman Baths."
"Cool. I'll try it the night we all get here. I'm sure we'll all be ready to kill someone by then."
Richard snorted. "No doubt. Moving does that to the best of us." He patted Mariana's hand. "That's how I found out about this particular mixture, wasn't it, minx?"
"You're a furry animal?" Xander teased.
"And what are you?" she asked.
"Methos says I'm an imp, but Oz said I'm a lot like a kitten some days because I lick things." He shrugged. "But I'm not at all like our newest puppy, a Great Dane/hell-hound mix."
"You have a hell-hound?" Richard asked. Xander nodded. "It chose you as it's master?" Xander nodded again. "When?"
"A week ago."
Richard laughed. "My, you're definitely an unusual man, Xander Harris, and you live a very wild and odd life."
"I know," he smirked. "Can I get you something? I have tea bags and soda, but nothing else really. I've been ordering out."
Richard pulled out a list of places and addresses. "Here, my other housewarming present. It's a list of the good markets and stores around the area." He stood up. "I'll let you get back to planning the torture of your second husband. If you need me to talk with him, my number's at the bottom. Just bring him already in chains so we don't have to duel." He bowed to Xander and took Mariana's hand, leading her away.
Xander leaned back and looked over the list. "Way cool. Even a big chain drug store that'll have lube." He carefully carried his body tea into the bathroom and put it into one of the drawers of the wardrobe in the bathroom, heading out to go find some food and lube. And maybe even a sex toy since Oz hadn't let him pack one.
Xander squealed as Ray walked through the door, jumping up to give him a hug and twirl him around.
"Easy," Ray said, happy to be reunited with his friend too. "Wow." He looked around the common area, nodding. "I like. You did good."
"Thanks." Xander led him to the stairway down to the lower levels. "Come see?"
"Sure." Ray followed him down, whistling at the practice space that was right in front of them. He wandered around with Xander, looking everything over. "Well, I'm impressed. They did a good job."
"Yup, they did." Xander led him back upstairs, taking the time to hug Methos, who was bringing in animals. "Their room is the one with half the boxes in it," he told the older immie as he led Ray toward the back room, and the bathroom. "So?" he asked, showing off his tub.
"Oh, definitely good," Ray said, sitting on the side to look at all the jets. "Feels good?"
"Feels great," Xander countered. "Just right even."
"Xander, which way to the office?" Oz called.
"Oz!" Xander ran out to give him a hug, tugging him into the office/library space. "See?" he said happily.
"Very nice, imp," Methos said, grabbing him from behind for a proper cuddle. "Have you seen our mysterious immortal neighbors?"
"Yup, they brought us body tea and a list of good stores," Xander said, tipping his head back for a kiss.
"Body tea?" Ray asked.
"It's in the little box in the wardrobe in the bathroom," Xander told him. "You use no more than a small pinch per bath - it's supposed to calm down homicidal urges."
"Oh, that'll be handy," Ray said, going to go look at it himself. "Ferrets heading for the porch," he called.
Methos ran out, going to stop them.
Xander got a proper hug from Oz, cuddling in for a long time. "We've got to move the boxes out of the animal room," he whispered.
"In a few." Oz patted him on the butt. "I saw the article," he noted.
"Yup, me too, and I yelled at the leak."
"Good. Did you fire him?"
"Nope. He was the foreman and he was getting things done. I threatened him instead."
"Good enough." Oz let him go. "Show me the rest, because I know this place wasn't this big when we saw it."
"Um...I kinda added in the next two buildings because they were going to be torn down by the city anyway," Xander offered.
"That's what I figured when I saw the canceled check." Oz let Xander lead him downstairs, whistling at the setup down there. "Very nice," he praised. "Garage?"
"Through the door by the forge, and there's a garden on the roof of it," Xander said, pointing. "The only thing that's left to be done is the installation of the rest of the fabric holders."
"Cool." Oz walked them back upstairs, letting Xander lead him around the house, with the bathroom last. He stopped when he saw the size of the tub. "Wow," he said quietly. "That's big."
"Advertised and shown to hold six linebackers," Xander told him.
"Very big," Oz amended. He looked at his husband. "Big enough for all four of us to get into some very strange positions."
Xander kissed him lightly. "That's the idea," he said against the wet, warm lips.
Oz laughed and pulled Xander into the master bedroom, making Ray move out of their way as they rolled around and had fun on the new bed. "It creaks," Oz said finally.
"I couldn't find one that didn't," Xander said with a shrug. "Not even the salesman could find one that didn't."
"We'll live," Ray noted, rolling over to pounce the Xander himself.
Methos stood at the door and took pictures.
Oz picked up a copy of the local gossip rag, adding it to the buggy he and D'Nalia were filling quickly. "Why are we buying trash like that?" she asked.
"Because they've been doing stories on Xander," Oz said quietly. "And his hate group's not in it yet."
"Ah." She picked it up to read, absently putting oatmeal into the cart.
"No one eats that," he noted.
"My boys do. And it's good for bug bites." She flipped a few pages in and stopped. "Wanna bet?" she asked as she handed over the paper.
Oz read it quickly, then shrugged and put it down. "Whatever. They're assholes and they'll leave him alone some day." He tucked it into the cart again and turned the corner, running into the head of their hate group. "Wow, speak of the asshole, repressed people and run into them," he said as he steered around her. She burst into tears.
"There, there," D'Nalia said, patting her on the arm. "If you didn't run a hate group against an innocent person who was just trying to get some bad mental images out of his brain, we'd be a lot more friendly." She continued with Oz, taking a short detour to go through the feminine products aisle.
The other woman glared at them, memorizing their faces for future torment.
TO BE CONTINUED...