Notes: D'Nalia said they would!

The Troubles Of A Bored Xander.

Oz woke up to the feeling of being walked on, only the feet were staying in one spot. "Your cat is stomping on me again," he muttered, pushing the cat off his chest.

"That means she loves you," Xander said, typing away on his computer.

"She's still stomping on me and I don't like to be walked on," Oz said, closing his eyes again and curling up on Xander's thigh. "What's up?"

"Checking my mail, making sure Ray didn't send a distress call."

"Anything interesting?"

"Only to Meth," Xander said, shutting down his laptop and putting it aside. His fingers found their way into Oz's hair, now returned to it's natural color, and started to smooth the soft strands between his fingers. "So, what's this I hear about you and Meth taking off for a few months of intense training?" he asked quietly.

"We do it every few decades," Oz said, his eyes closed. He swatted at the cat, who was still stomping on him. "Can't you make her stop that?" he complained.

Xander reached down and petted his kitten on the head. "She loves you. If you'd pet her, she'd probably go play." He smiled as Oz patted her then pushed her off onto the bed. After a few sniffs at Oz's butt, she left them alone to go play. "See?"

"Yay." Oz looked up. "Are you going to be okay with us leaving you and Ray here for a few months?"

"Sure. You *are* planning on taking care of the bills first, right?" Oz nodded. "Then we should be fine. If not, Ray should be home by then."

"Which is why we're planning it for now." Oz put his head back down. "This is nice."

"Yeah, it is," Xander said, looking a little sad. His Oz was leaving him. For *months*. What was he going to do while he was alone? Who was going to have sex with him when he needed to wear out his 'unique hormonal condition'? Ray probably wasn't going to want to stay home with him. He'd probably take off to go see Danny and Blair for part of it. What would he do while he was alone? "So, when exactly were you guys leaving, and where are you going?"

"In the next month or so," Oz said quietly. "As for where, we tend to wander until we find a spot that feels right. Last time we ended up in the Soviet Union for three months, and trapped for another six." He regretted telling him that as soon as he felt the thigh muscles stiffen under his cheek. "I promise, we'll be in the main part of Europe this time. No place we'll get stuck or land in the middle of a civil war."

"Okay," Xander agreed. "But you'd better teach me how to do some of the usual stuff before you leave. Just in case."

"Yup, I'm already planning most of that," Oz admitted, looking up at his husband. "You sure you'll be all right?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine," Xander said, pushing his doubts away, far away. He could worry later, he was good at worrying later actually. "Am I staying here?"

"I guess that's up to you, but I'd like to know where you are. Don't worry," he said as he lunged up for a kiss. "I'll stay in contact. You'll know where we are and how we're doing all the time." His husband nodded so he relaxed. Xander would deal, and it'd only be for a few months. "So, what's this about a fabric convention?"

"There's one in a few weeks. The nice lady at the fabric shop gave me the flyer and suggested that I should go." He grinned weakly. "She said I might even find a spot where I could buy wholesale."

"Hmm, that'd be nice," Oz agreed, going back to his position of being petted. This was nice, this quiet time. Maybe they'd spend some more time like this before he and Methos left.

Xander contemplated the fact that he was going to be alone for *months* and shuddered internally. This was not going to be fun.


Ian and Sean walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, letting them see their targets. Two big shiny boxes that were Oz's presents, ones that he wasn't sharing with them. The twins pulled down the boxes and put them on the kitchen floor, opening them to peer down at the contents. Sean looked over at his brother, then down at himself, then inside the box again. "It's boy parts," he noted.

"Yeah," Ian agreed, pulling the cookie one out. "It's food. I've seen Mommy nibbling on a piece of this one."

Sean hummed and pulled his out, accidentally getting some on his thumb. He licked it off and smiled. "Chocolate," he said in appreciation. He grinned at his brother, who nodded and got up to get a spoon. They weren't allowed to play with the knives, but spoons worked well to dig at things too. He gave it to his brother and watched as he cut into the chocolate boy part, laughing when some of it flew across the room. They had gotten the chocolate one torn down and were eating it while they worked on the cookie one when Oz found them.

Oz gave out his most girlish scream of, "D'NALIA!"

She came running and stared down at her little Hell's Angels, then over at her boss. "At least they weren't laughing maniacally as they did it," she offered as she grabbed her twins and hurried them back to their apartment.

Xander came running up the stairs but stopped when he saw the destruction of his gifts to his husband. "Twins?" he asked, pulling Oz in for a hug.

"Yes, they were enjoying cutting into them."

"At least they weren't real," Xander soothed, but that made Oz shudder. "Sorry." He let his husband go, giving him a light shove toward the office. "Go sit and take your mind off this while I clean it up." He waited until Oz was gone to shake his head and go for the broom and dustpan. Their housekeeper came in while he was scrubbing the last of the chocolate off the floor. "Hey, did they have fun?"

"They're fascinated by the human body at this age," she explained as she got down to help him. "But they're really sorry."

He shrugged. "I can always make him another one. No big." He glanced around. "He was having trouble cutting into them anyway," he admitted. "They were a little too realistic for his tastes."

"And the boys weren't giving off evil laughter," she offered.

"Hey, as long as we don't start them onto the path of torturers or serial killers because of this, then I'm happy," he told her, giving her the sponge. "Here, you finish this. I'm working on a better present for Oz. Did you know he and Meth are leaving for a few months?"

She shook her head and patted him on the arm. "I'm sure they'll come back really quickly, Xander. Who would want to stay away from you?"

He shook his head. "I'm not worried about him coming back. If he ever tried to leave me, I'd hunt him down and make him sorry," he reminded her with a faint grin. "I'm more worried about being mostly alone for a few months. I tend to get into trouble when I'm alone."

She nearly stopped herself from snickering, but not quite. "I'm sure the boys will be able to wear that urge out of you." She finished cleaning up the floor, letting him get back to his spoiling. "Oh, this is going to be so not fun," she muttered as she tossed out the remaining pieces of the two cocks. Then she went to the office. "They're very sorry," she said from the doorway. "They know they're not supposed to touch other people's things, especially not presents."

Oz looked up at her. "They enjoyed it."

"Of course. They're nearly five. Everyone did at that age. I enjoyed the most gross things I could find back then." She shut the door as she came in, and sat across from him. "Oz, how long are you leaving for?"

"Just a few months," he sighed. "I've already set everything up to automatically pay you and Henri. And I'm counting on you to keep Xander out of trouble." She snorted. "I know. It'll be a challenge, but you've got to try. Without me here to dilute his hormones we might start getting overrun with demons again." He leaned back some. "Are you going to stay all summer?"

"Nah, I think I'm going to switch out with Henri, go play Lady of the Manor with the boys. I don't think we're ready for summer in Miami yet." She wiggled some. "How do I keep him out of trouble?"

"Keep him occupied. Give him a problem to solve," he suggested. "Tell him you three need new clothes. I know he got patterns in the boys' size, and I think he got one in yours too." She frowned at that. "Let him do it," Oz suggested mildly. "Spoiling others makes him happy and content. Spoiling the boys will keep him occupied. And I'm sure he's not going to dress them in velvet."

She shook herself. "I was wondering where those cotton pants had come from," she admitted. "Besides that, anything else we need to deal with?"

"Only if he leaves," he said dryly. "Then I'd like to know."

She nodded. "Of course. I'll talk with Henri tonight to see when she wants to switch." He nodded. "Thank you for taking care of all this stuff before you leave. I don't think Xander would intentionally forget to pay us, but...."

"His attention can wander from the mundane," Oz finished. "I've noticed. That's why I pay the bills. We've actually had the cable shut off once because he had forgotten to pay the bills for a few months." He shrugged. "It happens and I'll try to minimize it before we leave." He watched as she left, going back to his surfing the map site for likely places to go wander with his teacher. They both really needed to get away from their husbands and just go be free for a while. Not that they'd cheat, but the full Xander and Ray experience was a bit stifling at times. This would do them some good. All of them. Even Xander would have a chance to become more independent. Not that he'd like it, but he needed it. He clicked on a city on the map, humming in admiration. Some very pretty artwork in Florence these days. Maybe they'd stop there. He put the city on his list.


Xander looked over as the door opened and grinned. "Hey," he told his missing roommate. "They left last night." He lifted his arm and Ray slid under to give him a hug.

"They called me." Ray gave him a squeeze. "How're you doing with them gone?"

"I'm bored," Xander said, flinging his magazine away so he could pull the other man into his lap. "I'm *so* bored."

"Want to go out to dinner?"

"Nope, did that already," Xander sighed. He cuddled Ray closer. "How did it go?"

"I got the shmuck. Oh, and we can take quickenings, and they hurt like hell too," he noted, rubbing the back of his neck. "And we've got a Watcher of our very own."

"Really?" Xander said, looking up at him. "Huh. I should find out who and get rid of them. I don't like being spied on." He started a slow rocking motion. "D'Nalia and Henri are switching out in a few weeks. The twins got Oz's birthday presents."

"Ow," Ray complained. "Ate it?"

"Spooned them to death."

"Ow," Ray said with more feeling.

"Yup. Oz screamed when he found them." That got a small snicker. "But D'Nalia doesn't want to spend the summer with us."

"Wanna head out?" Ray asked. "We could go back home."

"Nope. We could go to Vermont."

"I don't want to go up there. If we travel, I want something more than scenery." Ray looked over at his best friend. "You're really torn up about this, huh?" he asked.

"Yeah, I already miss them," Xander admitted. "They woke me up this morning to say goodbye. But Oz did say that he took care of all the bills."

"I guess that's good," Ray agreed. "I can do that too if we need to." He got off the welcoming lap and sat beside his friend. "So, do you want to travel too?"

"I don't know," Xander admitted. He looked down at the small box on the table. "They're still in New York."

Ray groaned and covered up the monitor. "They went away to get away from us, not for us to follow them."

"But I want to," Xander complained. "I want to know that they're all right."

"They're fine," Ray reminded him. "Meth didn't survive for over five thousand years to get into trouble on a vacation. At the worst, he'll run away and hide until he can get safely back to us." He leaned his head on Xander's shoulder, trying to distract him. "Wanna go visit Danny and Blair?"

"I called them to see if they're home. They're on extended vacation or work, I'm not sure which, for the next two weeks."

"Ah." Ray patted Xander again. "So, what do you want to do?"

"Not be alone?"

"That would probably be a good idea," Ray agreed, hiding his grin. Xander could be such a baby sometimes about being left alone. He knew it was because the younger man *needed* to be around people. He needed interaction to be sane. It didn't make it less of a whine though. He needed to get Xander's mind off this separation right now, or he'd never be able to do anything while they were gone. "How about we go shopping?"

"I did that last week," Xander sighed. "I'm all shopped out."

"Okay." Ray snuggled in. "I have a second phone now. I'm guarding Ray Vecchio's family."

"I'm sorry he died," Xander said quietly, giving him a squeeze. "Who was the idiot?"

"Martin DuChamps-Sinclair. Not very old, but very stupid."

"Then it's a good thing he's dead, less chance of him doing more harm." Ray looked up at him. "No one ever said I was a great philosopher."

"Point," Ray agreed with the hint of a smile. "What's on the agenda for today? Because I'm not sittin' around and moping."

"I was going to have the boys force me to go buy them books."

"Cool. Let's go get the stuff so we can do that." He shot up and gave his friend a kiss on the cheek, then headed into the bedroom.

Xander sighed and uncovered the monitor, smiling when he saw the blip had moved. "Connecticut? That's an interesting place to go train." He forced himself to get up and go get changed. The boys needed more stuff to do; their talent at destroying things had gotten too much of a workout recently.


Xander held the door open for the boys, smiling at their mother. "We got all the ones they wanted," he told her, watching the boys drag in their new cart with their new books. "They insisted," he said when she started to frown. He disappeared as she opened her mouth, going out to help Ray get the rest of the books. By the time he got back, the boys were babbling in stereo about their trip to the bookstore and the new bookcases Xander had bought them. He gave her a smile and headed for the bedroom. Ray had said he'd put together the bookcases.

"Xander!" Ray called. "I could still use a hand!"

"I can't build stuff," Xander called back.

"You bought it, come help me build it."

"Fine," Xander sighed, coming out to help Ray build the bookshelves. "Where are they?"

"In the back of the car," Ray told him. "I told you I'm not carryin' them in. We have space on the shelves."

"No we don't," D'Nalia said. "We don't have any room on any of the shelves." She smiled down at her sons. "Pick three books for tonight and go put the rest up in your room." They sat down to pick out their books, suggesting ones to each other. She looked over at Xander. "How many more are there?"

"A lot," Ray told her. "We need some help anyway." He headed out to go get some of the last pile of books with her, Xander was carrying in those bookcases whether or not he liked it.

Xander followed them out, coming back with the cheap pressboard bookcases and dropped them in the living room. Then he went downstairs to find some tools.

D'Nalia dragged in the shopping cart full of books with a sigh and a glare at Ray. "He misses them," Ray reminded her. "Spoiling others makes him feel better."

"Yay," she said. "He bought out the bookstore."

"Only one of most things," Ray said with a grin. "But the books they fought over have two copies."

"We're going to have to do something about this eventually," she reminded him.

"Hey, donations are always welcome at most daycares and public libraries." Ray smiled suddenly. "And I bet that we might even talk Xander into doing a story hour at the local library."

"Maybe," she agreed with a smile. "Volunteer work would give him something to look forward to." She shut up as Xander walked up the stairs with a set of tools. "Which room gets these?"

"I figured we'd either crowd the office or we'd put some of them in your apartment and some in the guest bedroom," Xander told her, handing over the tools. "Food?"

"Yeah, I left the bag in the front seat," Ray told him. Xander sighed and went out to go rescue the food. "Don't forget to check for animals," he called after him. "We left the door open."

Xander came in carrying two ferret babies. "There's still one in the car but I can't get her. I'll go out in an hour and get her then." He kicked the door shut and went to put the bag of Chinese food in the kitchen. It was usually best cold anyway. He came out to dutifully hold the boards for the bookshelves, giving a hand as best he could. "What do you want to do tonight?" he asked when D'Nalia took the first completed one back to the guest bedroom.

"I was thinkin' about watchin' some TV and maybe reading to the boys," Ray told him. "Did you want to do somethin' different?"

"I was thinking about not staying in tonight," Xander admitted. "The house seems really quiet."

"Hey, have fun," Ray told him. Looking back later that night, he would regret saying that. He had forgotten what sort of trouble Xander got into when he was alone.


Ray woke up alone and blinked in lack of comprehension at the clock, which he thought was ringing. He finally figured out it was the phone and picked it up. "Yeah?" he groaned into it. He sat up, looking over at the clock. "Is he all right?" He rubbed his forehead. "As long as he's fine, I'll be down in an hour to get him. He's not under arrest, right?" He sighed in relief. "Thank God you guys stepped in." He listened for a minute more. "Sure, I'll be down within the hour. Just give him something to eat and it'll solve that problem." He hung up and headed for the bathroom. "D'Nalia, are you up?" he yelled as he walked into the hallway.

"I'm up," she called back. "I'm making breakfast."

"Just coffee, leave food until I rescue Xander from some cops." He slammed the bathroom door and climbed into the shower, standing at the far end while the water warmed up. So he got a good look at the housekeeper as she stuck her head into the shower. "Did you want to share with me?" he asked in his normal smart-ass way.

"No. Cops?"

"An off-duty one was at the same club Xander was dancin' in, and got caught in the riot. But he managed to save Xander from the scumbag that wanted to kidnap him." He walked into the water and let it run over him. "This is like the old days," he complained. "Xander hasn't had these problems in a while, that's why I let him go out alone last night. Oz is gonna have my nuts for this."

She reached in and patted him on the butt. "Don't worry, you can hide behind me. It's not your fault Oz is the only one who can keep the bad things from happening to Xander." She closed the shower door and left him to finish in privacy.

Ray shook the water off his hair and smiled. "She understands," he noted to himself. "Maybe that means she'll watch him while he's chained to the bed." He grabbed his shampoo bottle and then tossed it away. "Empty." He grabbed the only other bottle of shampoo in the shower and poured a good amount onto his hand.


Ray walked into the police station, straight up to the Desk Sergeant's desk. "I'm here for the problem child," he said quietly, taking off his sunglasses.

"Which one?" he asked in a bored tone of voice.

"The twenty-something hot guy with the long dark hair, complete with white streaks, that got a few cops caught in a riot in a club last night."

"Oh, the Harris sort of problem child." He looked Ray over. "He yours?"

"Nearly. His husband's out of town for a few months. I'm his best friend and live-in editor." The cop muttered something like 'I thought it was him'.

"What?" Ray asked.

"He asked for some paper and a pen so he could get a start on his next book," the officer said, nodding Ray back toward the offices. "Last one in the hallway, can't miss it. It says Captain on it."

Ray smiled thinly. "I've been in a few of them. He under arrest?"

"Ask the Captain that," the Sergeant suggested. "Just give me enough time to get the first aid kit."

Ray shook his head as he walked back to the Captain's office. He knocked and walked in at the holler. "So, you woke me up because he started a riot?" he asked as he sat down.

The Captain looked over at Ray and glared at him. "You sound awfully familiar about this sort of thing." Ray tossed his former badge onto the desk. "Oh." The Captain pushed it back. "How long you been gone?"

"Since a case came back to haunt me." Ray got comfortable. "I'm in hiding. What happened, and is he under arrest?"

"Apparently, and this comes from our officer who is still in the hospital, someone tried to hit on him. Your boy...friend...."

"We're not that way. His husband's out of town for the next few months. I'm fillin' in."

The Captain shook his head. "That's a bit more than I wanted to know." But he smiled. "Anyway, someone tried to grab your boy and take him. So your boy beat the crap outta him." His smile got brighter. "And this boy had friends, who your boy pulled a *sword* on." Ray winced. "Yeah, but it's all good because there were six or seven of them and your boy got them all. The DA said it was self-defense, and a very good job of it because he didn't kill them." His smile got really bright now. "But then again, the riot wasn't because of that. Someone else there got him calmed down and out onto the dance floor. Your boy ended up go-go dancing in a cage. *That* started the riot, which my boys got caught up in."

Ray just shook his head. "This only happens when Xander's alone," he told the Captain. "I'm sorry it happened. Do we owe damages? Are the cops mostly all right?"

The Captain laughed. "Your boy kept asking me that second question until we let him listen in to the call to the hospital. The one boy's under observation, one's getting a pin put into his arm, and the rest just have bumps and bruises. A few more than some of the others." He snorted. "Matter of fact, this let me know which of my guys are stupid enough to jump into the middle of a riot without protective gear, so I ought to thank your boy."

Ray chuckled. "I was one of them at one point in time." He grabbed his badge and hid it again. "Can I take him home?"

"Sure, take him home, put him to bed, and you might want to check out this newest story too. Seems real far fetched to me. But reality, as they say, can be stranger than fiction."

Ray stood up and shook his hand. "Thanks for watching out for Xander. I know his husband will probably send you a nice box of chocolates for it. He babies Xander so things like this don't happen." He walked out, heading out to the room next door, which had been pointed at. "Xander?" he called, tapping on the door. He was pounced as soon as it was open. "Grab your stuff, let's go. I wanna have a long talk with you." He patted Xander on the butt and let him go. He was safe, that was all that was important right now. Later was probably a different story all together.

Xander walked into the house, giving D'Nalia a sheepish look. "I didn't do anything," he told her when he saw her frown.

"He was nearly kidnaped, so he kicked their asses, and then he got talked into go-go dancing," Ray said dryly. "That's what caused the riot."

D'Nalia shook her head and headed back to the kitchen. "I was nice, I made breakfast. Come eat, Xander, and then go take a nap." She waited until he had served himself, then looked at Ray. "Any idea if this got into the papers yet?"

"Oh, yeah," Ray said, tossing a paper over. "We stopped to check. It made the papers, and they know it was him. Oz is gonna shit bricks over this one."

"No, he won't," Xander said through a mouthful of eggs. "He'll assume that you were there." He swallowed and got up to get himself some milk. "Thanks, D'Nalia; you're a good mom." He gave her a hug as he walked back to his seat. "S'good," he said as he sat down again. "Ray, eat," he said quietly, not looking at his friend. "I'm not going to be charged though," he told her. "I protected myself, and self-defense is good according to the DA who talked to me when they brought me in."

She shook her head and walked away. "I don't want to know. Please don't teach that gift to the boys." She headed up to her apartment. The boys were too quiet, it was probably time for her to check on them again.

Ray dished himself up some breakfast too and came over to sit down across from Xander. "So, you feel any better now?" Xander shook his head. "What're you gonna do today?"

"Sleep. Maybe some forge work to get out some frustration. I got hit with a plot last night, but I hit a sticking spot." He scraped his plate and went to put it into the sink. "Want to come nap with me?"

"Nah, I got some sleep last night," Ray said, giving him a hug. "Go nap, I'll watch over the house and take care of everything."

"Thanks. If anyone calls about last night, can you tell them I didn't plan on the riot?" he asked hopefully.

"Sure." Ray waited until Xander was gone to moan and shake his head. "This could get messy," he sighed, digging into his food. He had a feeling he was going to need it. The longer Oz and Methos were gone, the worse this was going to become. And it was only the second day.


Ray put down the phone, leaving it off the hook. Someone had published their phone number, and he was tired of bitching at the people who were calling to ask Xander out on a date. Didn't they know he was married? He leaned back to enjoy the quiet, smiling at the sound of Xander hammering out something downstairs. Maybe he'd go down and help. "Nah, I'm gonna stay right here," he told himself, turning on the TV. One of the daytime gossip shows happened to be on.

"And on the Criminal Justice section, coming up next," the blonde announcer said, smiling at the camera, "is the story of a popular author and his night of debauchery."

Ray flipped the channel to some real news, groaning when the riot was being covered. He turned it to the animal channel, smiling when Xander's name wasn't mentioned anywhere. He checked his watch. Ten p. m. Time enough for Leno later. He seemed to like Xander. The pounding downstairs stopped but Xander's cry of frustration and whatever he'd been working on hitting a wall came up quiet clearly. "Problems?" he called down.

"Yes," Xander called back, sounding calm. "I hate knives."

"So make prettier stuff," Ray called down. "Make Henri stuff."

"I already did that," Xander yelled, sounding like he was losing patience. "I'm *BORED*!"

Ray felt an ice cold chill run across his body. For someone who was a genius for getting into trouble, being that bored was dangerous. He was sure that one phrase was the most dangerous in the history of the world. He had to do something. So he got up and went down to help Xander work on something. "Let's see what you've done so far," he said as he stepped off the stairs.

"It's over there on the table," Xander sighed from his corner, where he was curled up and drinking some water.

Ray went over to look over the new pieces of jewelry, and the bent dagger, and smiled. "Well, you did say you were thinking about starting a store," Ray reminded him. "Maybe you should think about that now."

"No thanks," Xander sighed, uncurling to come over and look over his new creations. "I'm still not happy with that one necklace," he told his friend.

"Maybe you need to thin out the wires," Ray suggested. "It's kinda small."

Xander picked it up to look at it. "Yeah, maybe," he said, sounding better. "I can probably do that." He sat down to work on the thin wires holding the sections of the necklace together. "Why did you come down?"

"You said you were bored, I was gonna help with that," Ray said, sitting down next to him to watch. This sort of stuff could be fascinating to watch, sometimes, but tonight, it was probably going to be nap inducing. He jerked back into the world of the awake and looked over to find Xander looking at him. "Sorry, I didn't get much sleep last night."

"That's okay," Xander told him, giving him a hug. "Go take a nap. I'm almost done for the night." He smiled as Ray got up and headed upstairs, then finished working on the wire he'd been playing with. "And then I'm going to go to that one place that I heard about last night," he told himself. "It'll be good to go see if anyone I know is there." He put aside his work and got up, heading up to the bathroom and the clothes he had stashed there. When he came out, he noticed the TV was on and the news was almost over. He listened dispassionately as the riot was rehashed, then shrugged it off. "No one got hurt," he told himself. When Leno started, he decided to see if he'd caught wind of it too. The host liked to make fun of him, and it amused Xander to let it happen. When the joke happened, he laughed along with the crowd, and even cheered when Kevin reminded him that Xander was a scary guy. So Jay said, 'let him come on and prove it'. Xander decided to take that invitation. He went into the library to email his editor, see if he could arrange it. Then he went out to the local demon club to have some safer fun. He wasn't radiating on that level yet.


Ray woke up to the sound of a ringing phone and reached over for it, but it stopped suddenly. He moaned as he sat up, obviously alone, and grunted as he got out of bed. He looked at the housekeeper, who had answered the phone. "Where is he?" he grunted as he went for the coffee she had made.

"He's fine," she said, hanging up the phone. "He's sleeping on the couch, with his sword. The boys saw it and came to get me up instead of trying to take it away from him and the ferret kit who was trying to nibble on the stone." She patted him on the head. "And he's got slime on him."

"XANDER!" Ray yelled.

"Huh? What's up?" Xander asked, sitting up, rubbing the back of his hand across his eyes. "What's wrong?"

"Why were you out at a demon club?" Ray asked, walking out to look down at him. "You know better than to go out to demon clubs without some muscle."

"I went out to a club. Oh, and Leno challenged me to come onto the show." He yawned as he stood up, heading for the coffee himself. "Morning, D'Nalia," he sighed as he found an empty pot. He started another one, but she corrected the amount of coffee he put into the pot. He gave her a hug and went to take a shower while she did that for him. He blew a kiss. "Thanks."

She made a face, looking down at her shirt. "Eww," she said, pointing at the goo now on her.

"Go change," Ray told her. "I'm gonna put Maalox into his coffee."

"Like that'll stop him," she snorted, going up to change and possibly take a shower.


Xander tried to sneak out the third night, but the lights came on and Ray was sitting there on the couch. "Snack run?" Ray asked.

"Nope, fashion snarking. I have a date to go make fun of people's clothing choices."

"Uh-huh. And what does the phrase 'you will not leave this house alone' mean to you?"

"That you're trying to boss me around," Xander told him, starting to get cooler. "Oz obviously wanted me to spend some time alone, so I am."

Ray didn't laugh, but it was close. "He didn't want you to spend some time alone. They both made it very clear that I was not to leave you alone, not to let you out alone, and not to let you go anywhere near a demon club." He crossed his arms over his chest. "I know they didn't tell you that so you wouldn't get upset, but I'm not coming down to get you from the police station ever again."

"I didn't get arrested last night," Xander reminded him. "I found a very nice demon who's attached to my demon family. We had a lot of fun and no damage. Not even a vampire coming up to me to say something about my clothes."

"Yay. You're not going out alone ever again."

"Then come with me," Xander challenged.

"Ha. Not gonna happen. You *know* they don't like us. We feel like immies so they hate us."

"Not *all* of them," Xander protested. "Some of them are groupies."

"Gee, *just* what you need, groupies," Ray said sarcastically. "I'm sure your husband would *love* that."

"He knows," Xander ground out. "And this is a family member."

"You walk out that door, and I'm gonna go find the guys and tell them," Ray warned.

"Yay, have fun. Tell them I said hi and I learned the lesson." Xander walked out, slamming the door, only to come back in and grab his jacket. He slammed the door for a second time and left.

Ray sighed and went to the library. He knew their temporary email address, and it was going to be a hell of a night.


Ray paced along the house, checking his watch compulsively. Xander hadn't come home last night. He hadn't been arrested, he had already checked that worry out. Xander also hadn't left any sign of the club he was going to, or where the demon club was, so he couldn't check on him that way. He heard a car outside and jogged out to the front window, glaring at the young man stepping out of the nice car. He walked over and opened the door, glaring at him. "Where were you?"

"Out," Xander said, pushing past him and heading for the shower. He placed his sword on the sinks before stripping and tossing his clothes toward the special 'don't do this for us' basket. He had just climbed under the hot water when Ray walked in. "Go away," he called. "I'm not in the mood to listen to you."

"You've got ick on your blade," Ray said, opening the door enough to stick his head in. He dodged the sponge the younger man threw at him. "What happened? Why didn't you call?"

"Because nothing happened," Xander told him, turning away from him.

Ray frowned when he saw the bruises on Xander's arms. "Uh-huh, nothing happened? Then why do you have bruises?" He stripped and climbed in too, grabbing Xander for a hug. "Tell me, I won't yell," he offered.

"One of the demons got hyped up on some drugs and tried to cause trouble," Xander admitted. "It was fixed."

"By you?"

"Partially." Xander turned to get a real hug. "He started a family war by attacking me. It was Micah who grabbed me when he came to the interrogator's office in the Demonic Police Department."

"So, nothing happened?"

"No, nothing happened. Nothing that I couldn't handle." Xander got free and went back to his shower. "You worry worse than I do," he told his friend. "How's Oz?"

"He's fine. Pissed but fine. He said I was to chain you to the bed and not let you out alone."

"Of course he did," Xander sighed, turning to get the back of his lower back-length hair wet. "Unfortunately, I got a message last night; I'm needed in Colorado to report. Hand me the shampoo please?" Ray handed it over. "Thanks."

"Here, let me," Ray said, pouring some shampoo out and working it into the black, fine hair with the white streaks. "When do you have to go?"

"I have a flight this afternoon. Apparently the Stargate goes to a demon plane too. That's how I got the message. Jack showed up at the DPD."

"Crap. Want company? I make a good bodyguard."

"You were invited if you didn't want to stay home alone," Xander admitted. "But Blair and Danny aren't back yet."

"That's fine," Ray said quickly. He let the hair go. "Rinse it." He got out and went to look over the dirty sword. "We'll need some more lighter fluid to burn this off," he called.

"I'll burn it off downstairs. I can get a flame." Xander scrubbed his back. "Ray, I could use some help."

Ray climbed back in, taking the back brush and went to work on the soft, but dirty skin.


Xander strode into the meeting area in Cheyenne Mountain, nodding at the General. "I have a report," he said, tossing over a CD. "Sorry, I finished it on the plane."

"We can print it out," General Hammond said, giving him a smile. "What can we use them for?"

"Well," Xander said as he took a seat on the end. "I tried the fabric, it rips. It's one of those cloths that's better for decoration than anything else. If you put any pressure at all on it, it rips. So, basically the guys who said you can't make uniforms out of it were right." He smiled. "The stone was a different matter though. Yeah, it flakes, but it flakes like obsidian, only more fragile. Not at all for decoration, but it does conduct energy. It got positively hot when I tried to shape a flake of it, and I wasn't heating it at all." The General looked interested in that. "You might want to move in that direction for that stuff. As for the new metal," he waved a hand in the air in the classic 'so-so' manner. "Not real useful. It's not very strong. It's actually weaker than normal silver. It isn't fragile unless you cool it wrong. Then it shatters. It heats really pretty. It heats *real* well. I'd say it had something in common with the energy metal, maybe even going so far as to say it was one of the metals that go into making it. It does conduct electricity and heat; I lit a cigarette with it. I shaped it," he said, taking out a small bundle from his pocket and unwrapping the handkerchief around it. "It's not real stable," he reminded them when he saw it was broken. "This was cooled a little too fast to be of use, but it's okay for certain uses." He pushed it over to Sam, the brilliant astrophysicist that he worked with. "Maybe you can do something with it with my basic findings," he told her.

She picked up a piece to look at it. "How long did you spend on this?"

"Three days."

"I see." She put it down. "At least it gives us a place to start."

"Which is what I was supposed to do," he reminded her. "I don't have the high-tech lab or the skills to use one even if I decided to build one for myself. I know about bending and shaping the metals, but not much more than that. You do the real science, that's what you get paid for."

General Hammond coughed, breaking up the impending argument. "Yes, that is what she's here for," he said, looking over at her. She nodded. "But that does take months off investigating these new things."

"It does," Sam agreed quickly. "It means that someone, who probably couldn't work with metal that way, won't mess it up for months on end and make the other base go back over it."

"Yeah, that would be a pain," Jack said, looking over at Xander. "Where was I last night?"

"On a demon plane. One of the open ones. A demon in the club I had been having fun in got pissed and started trouble with me. The Demonic Police had to come break it up before it became a family war. You ended up in the Police Station after that was all over with."

"Oh." Jack looked at his boss, then at Sam. "Why are we able to do this?"

"I actually asked someone about that while I was stuck up there," Xander said, reaching into his briefcase and tossing over a report to the General. "He theorizes that it's temporary - due to an alignment issue that's about to stop being an issue."

The General looked at the first page, then handed it to Sam. "Can you please summerize that for us, Captain Carter?"

"Of course, sir."

"In English maybe?" Jack asked.

"I'll try," she said with a frown as she continued to read. "Are the teams already deployed trapped?"

"Not unless the other gates correspond to a planular area," Xander told her. "I asked specifically because I knew Danny and Blair were working on a dig somewhere. He said that this sort of thing has happened before, but it's very rare, and if they left within the last week or so, then they should be able to get back. But he did alert the Demonic Police to this situation so, if they find any teams, they'll send them to my brother, who will then send them to me, and I'll send them back here." He clapped his hands. "Now, what else can I do for you?"

"Can you pull out a better budget?" Jack asked tiredly.

"No, but I can talk to Micah about that. There's a few demons who have friends in Congress. There's even a demon guarding the White House. He helped us once."

Jack shook his head. "Okay, more than I wanted to know about the political process."

"Think of it as really odd looking lobbiers, sir," Sam suggested.

"Basically," Xander agreed, "but most look human when they're down here. Think of it more as a foreign special interest group."

Jack nodded. "I can do that." He looked at his boss. "Have we tried any of the groups that are out?"

"We tried one," Sam admitted. "It went somewhere very dark." She turned a page. "Okay, here we go. It's a heavenly body and energy alignment," she told them. "And it does say that this only happens once every six millennia or so. This one should be over with in another two weeks." She put the report down. "Give me two hours, and I'll be able to be more comprehensive, sir."

"Granted," General Hammond said, giving them a smile. "You said this was theoretical, Xander?"

"Well, according to this guy - who does basically the same thing Sam does only with plane gateways - this sort of thing happens in his specialty. He's never heard of it happening another way, but he does say that your gateway works on a principle much like magic." He pulled out one last thing, a battered notebook, which he handed to Sam directly. "He sent this to you, hoping you'd be able to get into it. It's a more theoretical form of magic, one where the students are given the end of the equation and then work backwards, but every answer is at least theoretically right if you believe in it strongly enough."

She flipped a few pages. "Oh, man," she said, stopping at one equation. "Sir, this has part of the Stargate wormhole equation in it," she said, showing it off.

"That was his student workbook," Xander told her. "Like I said, he's a gateway person himself, just on a different spectrum."

"So, you're saying that the Stargate works and the wormhole forms because we believe it will?" Jack asked.

"More like energy exists because you think there's electricity coming from the socket," Xander said with a grin. "I don't get into that at all. I only have a very small skill, and it's all related to plants." He grinned at the General. "He did say that Sam was probably not going to be coming out of that book for a few months. That's apparently the way with the people who are *supposed* to get it. That's how they know what your specialty will be."

General Hammond shook his bald head. "I'll take your word for it. Captain Carter, I'd like a report on that also. Find me some equivalent that I'll understand please." She nodded absently, still stuck on that one equation.

Xander passed over a small bead on a thin leather thong. "When you want to talk to him, rub this and ask the messenger that appears to take him a letter," he told Jack. "But don't bother him too much. He's the guy who makes all the portals on all the planes work, and he's never not busy." He stood up. "Anything else I can do for you?"

Jack shook his head. "I think that's more than some people needed," he noted, looking at his boss.

"Stay in town in case we need you," General Hammond said gently.

"Ray and I are both at the motel we stayed at last time." He nodded and walked out, heading back to the surface.

Jack kicked Sam's leg under the table. "So?" he asked.

"This is amazing. It's the formula for making a wormhole without a gateway system." She looked at their boss. "If someone here has this sort of power and the ability to learn this, we won't need the Stargate. We'll need to find some other way to tell what's on the other side. And these can be left open for weeks without much interference."

General Hammond gave her a fatherly look. "Just give me a report please, Captain Carter." He got up and walked out.

Jack followed when Sam hadn't said anything else for a few minutes. She was still working on the step higher in the equation. Knowing that this was the solution and she was supposed to be working backwards helped a great deal. She might even be able to simplify it more, depending on what the variables meant. But, if the top formula worked because you believed it worked, then the variables might be up to her. She could spend her whole life working on this one formula.


Xander walked into his motel room and stopped with the door still open. "Ray?" he called, his hand going to the hilt of his sword. In the middle of the room was a large black hole, literally. He walked in and shut the door, leaning against it. He could feel a small pull, but it wasn't enough to suck even the paper off the bed. He carefully walked over and looked down at the note, frowning. "Bet me," he said, facing the portal. "Bring him back!" he called. "I will destroy you."

A hand came out of the portal and grabbed him, pulling him into it. It also knocked him out.


Ray woke up on the motel room bed alone. He rubbed his forehead, hoping that everything crowding his mind was just a really vivid dream, but he doubted it. He looked around, frowning at the state of the room. Then he did the only thing he could think of. He called Danny's work number, hoping someone there might have a clue about this. The portal was still partially open but it looked like it was closing. "Sam?" he asked lightly. "Um, would you happen to know how a portal formed in a motel room and please tell me Xander's still there?" He swallowed. "No, we're, I'm, in room 28. And I'm alone. No, I've got some really funky things in my head though." He nodded and hung up, grabbing his video camera, the one he had rented so he could go explore the sights, and filmed the event horizon, just like she had asked him to.


Xander woke up in a room, not quite alone but mostly stripped. He sat up and mentally checked himself. All his metal things were gone. Except maybe a few of the shorter pins in his hair. He stood up and looked at the demon. "I demand to be released," he said in the most royal demon language he knew, something his brother Micah had taught him. The demon laughed. "You have no right to keep me here."

"We have every right," the demon said in English. "You violated our portal."

"Your portal violated my motel room," Xander told him coldly. "And you took my lover."

"He's already gone back; we have what we need from him," the demon sneered, looking over him. "You were more resistant to the thinking."

"That's because I'm an heir," Xander noted, puffing himself up a little bit. "Now let me go before I bring my brother's wrath down on this whole dimension, though he'd be nicer than I will be." The demon started to laugh again, but Xander lunged at him, getting him in a head lock pretty easily. "Let me go and I won't kill you," he hissed, squeezing the demon's throat. "I am *not* a person to be fucked with."

The demon burbled something and another few came running.

Xander gave them a cold smile. "Send me home or you're all gonna die," he warned. The other demons laughed. "I am Prince Xander of the Metharn lineage of Micah, current Head of my House. I am the third in line for the throne and holder of the family sigil. I'd let me go *now*." The demons stopped laughing part-way through the rehearsed speech, but they were still in a standoff. "Now," he reminded them, squeezing the demon's throat a little more and adding a slight twist to the right. "I will kill him and all of you." A bigger demon walked through the doorway, and apparently he was higher in stature because of the cloak he wore. "Let me go," he repeated in the more common demon language.

"We know who you are," the demon told him, "but your brother did not say anything when he was up here yesterday."

"Then get him and we'll solve this really fast, huh," Xander said coldly, giving the throat he held a violent twist, just enough to knock him out. He dusted off his hands. "Your portal violated my living space. I have the right to demand retribution, and you have no right to kidnap me."

The higher demon laughed and pointed at him, saying something in another demon language. Unfortunately for him, Xander understood the 'sissy boy' comment and pulled out one of his bobby pins, stabbing that demon in the eye with it in a surprise move.

"Yay," he said, glaring down at the screaming demon between his feet. He looked at the other guards. "I'd go get someone higher," he told them. "I'll kill him too." One of the demons ran out and soon an older female demon walked in, her cape trailing behind her on the floor. "You do know that the color of that cape doesn't go very well with your skin tone, and it makes you look sick?" Xander asked her, getting off the demon he'd been standing over, adding a vicious kick to the demon's ribs. "You violated my living space and kidnaped me. I will make you face retribution," he said coldly. "Send me home now or I'm going to get my brother Micah into this too. And, if any of you truly knew who I was, you probably wouldn't come near me."

She said something to him in her own language and he shrugged, repeating what he had said in that one for her. She smiled and held out a hand, leading him from the room, giving the order to clean this mess up. She led him into a more formal room where more demons with her length of train on their cloaks were waiting. She bowed to the old woman up on the throne who was human.

Xander bowed to her. "Your underlings kidnaped me," he told her. She glared at him. "Your underling's portal violated my living space and they kidnaped both me and my lover. Unless you release me now, I'm going to force retribution on you for your underling's stupidity."

She laughed. "I like him," she announced. "He will serve my stepdaughter."

"I doubt it," Xander said, crossing his arms. "I will go home, and my things will be returned to me."

She leaned down to look at him. "What does a *boy* like you know about using a sword," she sneered.

"Give it back to me and find out," he said coldly. "I'll allow myself to be faced in combat by your better fighters."

The head woman thought about that then nodded. "We will allow it," she decided, making the lower demons gasp. "Until then, you will serve my stepdaughter."

"I doubt it."

"It's that, or you will be forced to do menial labor," she warned. "Something *men* like you aren't used to."

Xander held up his left hand, the one with the scars from holding hot metal while he pounded it out. "Oh, really?" he said snidely. "You have no idea who or what I am."

"I can feel what you are," she snorted. "You're human."

"I'm immortal and a Prince of the Metharn," he countered. "Bring my brother here."

"We will not," she said coldly. "We have no wish to deal with the money changers."

Xander snickered. "Money changers? How old are you? My brother isn't a banker, he's a businessman. And the only person who's going to keep me from killing everyone to get free. And, before you say anything, there will be people coming for me, others like me. We will *destroy* this realm for this insult."

She waved a hand. "Whatever. I've heard all that before." She looked Xander over. "Your choice. Menial labor or being a maid to my stepdaughter?"

"Neither," Xander said, not moving. When another guard came for him, he spun under his arms, kicking him in the stomach and sending him backwards into his buddies. He kicked the next one but hit the one beside him, getting into it with the three demons. He ended up with a split lip and a blackened eye, but the demons were all on the floor by the time he was done. He spit blood at the foot of her throne. "I'm going home now," he told her. "You can either find a better fighter to challenge me, or you're going to have to kill me now. I want my belongings, I want my sword, then I want shown to the portal. Keeping me will only cost you more guards and higher ups." He kicked at the hand making a weak grab for his ankle. "Don't touch me," he said, glaring at the demon. "I know fledglings who fight better." He spit out some more blood. "It's up to you, bitch, now or later? Which cost do you want to pay?"

She leaned down to look him in the face. "The more you fight, the weaker you will become. None of your healing abilities will work here." He smiled at that. "What?" she asked.

"I'm in communion with my bonded mate; I don't need the power of this realm." He looked at his nails. "Like I said, there will be people coming for me, and they'll make you even more sorry." He pulled around the end of his braid to look it over too. Then he looked back up at her. "Your choice," he offered.

She leaned back. "I like you," she decided. "Even though you are a more violent example of your species."

"Our," he reminded her. "You're human. I can tell. It's a I picked up when I was younger." He stared her down. "I will be going home. Now," he said calmly. He turned as someone came running up behind him, grabbing him by the stomach and tossing him aside. "Don't even try it," he warned.

The demon babbled something to his Queen. She nodded at him to leave. "It seems you were correct, there are humans coming for you," she said coolly. "They're being brought here." She snapped her fingers, and Xander's clothes and sword were brought and handed to him.

"Thank you." He slid into the simple outfit and put back on his coat, but kept his sword in his hand. He bowed to her. "I'll be seeing you at the millennial tournament I suspect." He turned as someone new walked in, giving Jack a smile. "Hey, please take me home before I kill all these people."

Jack nodded him over, covering him with his gun. "You okay?"

"Just highly violent at the moment," Xander told him. He followed Jack out, heading back to his motel room. "Hey, Ray," he said as he walked through, getting the hardest hug of his life. He gave one to Jack in turn, then turned to look at Sam, who had one hand on the air conditioner and one pointing toward the portal. "Gee, it worked?"

"Xander, you've been gone for *weeks*!" Ray complained. "Even Micah's been worried." He pulled Xander back into his arms.

"He was doing a good job of pissing them off," Jack told him, sitting down on the bed. "Carter, you can let it go now."

"I can't, sir, there's someone in it. They'd die or get lost if I close it right now."

Xander turned as another human looking person walked through the portal, looking over the young woman. "Yes?"

"I have come to evaluate your claims." She turned to look at Sam. "You may let it go now, witch; we've got it."

Sam shuddered as she released the power she had been drawing through the motel's electrical circuits. Then she passed out.

"Sam!" Jack said, getting up to check her.

"She's fine," the woman said, waving a hand in her direction. "It is unusual to find such strong humans."

"She's new to it," Ray told her. "And you are?"

"Ilanin. I am part of the Repercussions Board. Your man made some very strong claims."

Xander sat down on the bed and pointed at the portal hanging in mid air. "They violated my temporary living space. They kidnaped me. I would have killed them all, and my brother would probably back me up." He shrugged. "All very usual claims." He fingered his summoning charm, bringing his brother. "Micah, tell her that I'm going to get them for kidnapping me."

Micah looked down at Xander, then at Ilanin. He nodded. "You're lucky anyone over there is still living."

"A few of their guards aren't," she said with a slight shrug. "One of their regency males isn't either." Micah hissed.

"Was that the frou-frou guy that I got with my bobby pin because he wouldn't let me go?" Xander asked her. "I tried polite," he told her when she looked at him. "When that didn't work, and neither did stating my lineage, I got cold and violent. And, if they force this, then I'll be pushing my own claim with your board. There is *no* way I'm going to become anyone's lady's maid."

"Lady's maid?" Ray asked.

"The bitch queen wanted me to serve her stepdaughter."

"Ah." Ray gave Xander another squeeze. "I wouldn't have waited. I would have started taking heads when I woke up."

"I didn't have my sword until Jack came through."

Ilanin nodded and looked at Jack. "It is most unusual for the human military to get involved. Are you claiming him as a superior member of your race?"

"One, humans don't work like that," Jack told her. "Two, I was there to get him back, that was my mission." He stood up. "As for anything else, you'd have to talk to my boss, or our people persons."

"You have people who study others?" she asked him. He nodded. "Then I would talk to them."

"They'll be here in a few days," Jack told her.

"I will wait then," she said, stepping back into the portal. "I have marked that one," she said, pointing at Sam. "Have her call on me by opening a small portal. I will take it over so she doesn't get hurt, and we will discuss this then." She looked at Xander. "Are you filing a claim?"

"No," Micah said.

"Yes," Xander told her at the same time. He looked at his brother. "Is there some reason that I shouldn't file for being kidnaped, stripped, forced through something called the 'thinking', and made to become violent to protect myself?"

"We're trying to bring these demons into the Union," Micah said lightly. "They won't ever come now, and they've got some magnificent stores of items that the rest of the demon communities could use."

"Then maybe I should ask for that," Xander said lightly. Micah gave him a pathetic look so he looked at the investigator. "How long do we have to decide?"

"Until I come back. I will bring an arbitrator if you wish to file." She bowed to Micah and then left. The portal hissed closed behind her.

Micah looked down at his adopted brother. "You gave them your lineage, and they still didn't let you go?"

"I did that before I went psycho," Xander said, leaning back on the bed. "Jack, is Sam okay?"

"I'm okay," she said in a little girl voice.

"She's partially conscious," Jack said with a frown. "This is dangerous stuff."

"It is," Micah said, looking down at her. "It is unusual to find such a strong human." He looked over at Xander. "Is this the one the Portal Master gave the book to?" He got a nod. "Good. Then she should train very well and be able to pass on her knowledge." He smiled at Jack. "I would tell your boss about this; I'm going to go tell the people I'm working with. Xander, I want you to be somewhere safer please," he said as he disappeared.

"Amen," Ray said, glaring over at Xander. "We need you to be safer."

"You were taken too," Xander pointed out sleepily. He yawned and curled up into Ray's side. "You be the big protector, I'm going to nap until the General gets here." He looked up at the ceiling. "Shoot, I forgot to ask him about your budget problems!"

"We got that straightened out," Jack said grimly, picking up the phone to dial the base. "Oh, sir," he said once it was answered. "We managed to get him back but there's been a complication." He looked over at the bed. "No, sir, a Xander-sort of complication. Some sort of Repercussions Board thing?" He nodded. "Yes, sir, and Sam needs to be seen by someone. No, sir, she passed out once she let the energy go." He looked down at her. "Yes, sir, she's awake but not very aware. That would be fine, sir. *Please*," he agreed with a smile. "That's fine. I'll have Ray pack their things." He hung up and looked at the men on the bed. "Pack. You're being moved to the base. Danny and Blair have already been called back."

"Cool." Ray shrugged, trying to wake Xander but he just got nuzzled. "I think it's going to be a few minutes," he suggested.

Jack shook his head and went to the closet to grab their bags and pack them


Xander trudged back into their house in Miami, and promptly dropped onto the couch with a sigh. He was tired. Too tired to do more than pet the animals who were running toward him. He smiled down at Jedi, who made it into his lap first. "Hey, guys," he said, patting each of them and giving each one some special attention. "Were we lonely?"

"No," Henri said as she walked in. "Where's Ray?"

"He'll be back tomorrow," Xander said, lifting his head to look at her. "He wanted to spend some time with Danny, Blair, and Dessie." He shrugged, dislodging one of the kits. "How are things here and at home?"

"Quiet," she said with a smile. "With the exception of your second husband coming crawling back. A strange man came and picked him up off the doorstep though." She shrugged. "Nothing much else of note. The twins' birthday was quite a hoot. Their mother bought them bookcases for some reason," she said with a smile. She patted him on the head. "Why don't you go take a nap? Then you can read the letter that came yesterday from your editor." She went back into the kitchen, and most of the animals followed her.

Xander forced himself to detangle himself and get up, heading in to take her advice. On the way, he grabbed the letter, reading it once he was comfortably ensconced in the bed. "Oh, wow," he said, smiling at the short missive. "I'm going to be on Leno."


Xander looked up as someone knocked on the dressing room door, smiling at the host. "Hi," he said, handing over the small box.

"You didn't have to bring me anything," Jay Leno said, but he was smiling.

"I was always taught to bring the host something," Xander said with his usual impish grin.

Jay pulled out the small lapel pin and whistled. "This is very nice," he said, touching the small, moving wheels on the motorcycle. "And very appropriate. Thank you." He looked at the young man. "We've got an animal person on tonight. You're not allergic, right? Someone reminded me I should check."

"I live with eleven ferrets, six cats, and four dogs," Xander told him. "Unless it tries to eat me, I'm good with animals." Jay laughed at that. "I'll even promise to not bring anything strange with me when I go on."

"Thanks. That would be nice," Jay said, waving at the man sitting on the couch. "Is that your husband?"

"No, that's a James-type person," Xander said, waving at Ray, it was his alternate identity of the moment. "He's here to make sure no one steals me from my husbands."

"Husbands?" Jay asked.

"I have two," Xander said with another grin. "And lovers. They're all presently trying to keep me out of trouble."

"It's a full time job," James/Ray said dryly. "Believe me, you have no idea the sort of trouble this guy gets into. And now a serial killer who likes his books," he reminded Xander.

"I alerted security when I got the note," Xander sighed, rolling his eyes. "I doubt he's going to come here. It'd be easier to get me outside."

"It's all about the challenge to them," Ray said wisely. He looked at Jay, who was looking a little worried. "We had a note left for us by this idiot," he noted. "Your security people already know."

"Oh. Okay then," Jay said, giving Xander a smile. "Thank you for keeping the strange stuff *away*."

"I said I'd try," Xander said with a shrug. "He won't act against me, he wants me to give him ideas. He's taken parts of my last three books and used them for his own version of games." Jay shuddered. "Yeah, so I'm his muse, and he won't hurt me. Even the nice FBI people said so."

Jay just nodded and waved, then left them alone.

"I think we freaked him," Xander said, looking back at Ray. "Want to brush my hair? I can't get it to quit getting being staticy."

"Sure," Ray said, getting up and coming over to deal with the soft black hair with white streaks. "What're you going to tell him if he asks about these?"

"That it was a chemical accident a few years ago."


Xander walked out to good but not great applause and sat down in the chair, after shaking hands with the famous comedian that had went on before him. It paid to be on third sometimes. "Hey, Jay, have you heard from the Queen of my hate group since you found out she was wearing my jewelry?" he asked with his usual grin.

"Not really, why?"

"Because, I decided to be nice and make her a display." Xander pulled out the framed object he had carried out with him. "I think you'll be seeing her before I will," he said as he handed it over.

Jay showed it to the camera, letting everyone see the signed illustrations for the pieces she had been wearing the last time she had been on, and pictures of her wearing them. "I think that's really nice," Jay told him. "I'll have someone send them her way." He smiled as one of the cats, a bobcat, from earlier came over and sat in Xander's lap. "You weren't kidding, animals really like you."

"Yeah, I'm really nice to animals and I spoil mine rotten." He accepted the small dish of wet food from the zoologist, letting the cat nibble it from his hand. "So, did you really read that fourth book?" he asked.

Jay smiled. "Half," he admitted. "I got stuck in the stock yards."

"Yeah, that was kinda a hard scene to get through. Skip ahead four pages and read the last page and a half of that section, then try moving on. There's only one small clue you'll miss, but you'll be able to miss most of the graphic stuff."

"Thanks." Jay looked down at the cat, who was now nibbling on Xander's fingers. "He thinks you taste good."

"I smell like our ferrets. I brought our ferret mommy with us, and a few of our dogs." He shrugged. "I love my animals, and I hate to leave them all alone at home when I leave."

"I see. So, have you ever thought about writing anything...less graphic?"

"I've been trying to write this one fantasy novel for *years*," Xander admitted, shaking his head. "I'm stuck. Even reading it to a group of daycare kids didn't help unstick the plot. I can't get past a fight scene."

"What's it about?" Jay asked.

"A female warrior who's hired to take this young mage to finish his training. He's got elemental powers of fire, but it's not under control at all. He does things like sneeze and set an outhouse on fire." That got a small laugh from the audience. "And I'm stuck when some bandits try to capture them. By this time, the poor little magic user has a cold from some serious rain that had been going on, and he's just set part of the woods on fire. That's where I'm stuck. If I go one way with the fight scene and they run away, then it turns out much differently. If I make them stay, then I'm really stuck, and I have no idea what happens next. But I didn't like the first ending."

"Really? Have you tried truncating that scene and going on?"

"Yup," Xander said, nodding. "I've got the first possible path written. The second one is still stumping me though. Most likely, it'll end up being some strange third alternative." He looked down at the cat, who was now licking his stomach through his shirt. "Hey, that's not a kitty toy," he said, tapping the cat on the nose with the end of his finger. "That's for the husband, not for you, kitten."

The zoologist reached over and took his cat. "That was very gentle."

"Like I told Jay earlier, I live with six cats, four dogs, and eleven ferrets. I'm used to cats who think I smell okay." He smiled at the cat, waving at it. "It's okay. I understand. My husband would say that you're very pretty, but he wouldn't let you knead him. He doesn't like that."

"I find my cat kneading me calming," Jay said. "Doesn't he like animals?"

"He does," Xander told him, "but he calls it stomping on him." He grinned again. "We have one kitten that he brought in from the alleyway. That's the one who 'stomps' on him almost every morning that he's home."

"He's not home right now?"

"No, he's off to have some time alone." He leaned closer. "He said I'm too exciting, and he needed some quiet." Jay and the audience laughed at that.

The comedian held out a copy of Xander's third book. "Would you sign this for me?" he asked.

"Sure." Xander signed the cover and handed it back. "Did you like that one? I've heard a lot of comments about being too mean to exs."

"Oh, I have a few I'd like to reenact some of the things in there on," the comedian said with a smirk. "Have you and your other husband gotten back together?"

"He came crawling back a year after that came out. Apparently he managed to finish reading it then, and he decided it'd be the better part of intelligence to come back." He winked. "He's much happier now."

Jay looked a little shocked. "Surely you didn't hurt him."

"Nah, I *danced* for him and didn't let him do anything about it," Xander said with a smirk.

"Oh, you *danced*," Jay said, nodding, smirking at the audience. "Would this be the same sort of dancing that you did in Miami that started the riot?"

"Only more...explicit," Xander agreed. "And I didn't mean to start that riot. I was just blowing off some steam. I'm sure my men understand that. Even the DA was nice about that and the attempted kidnaping before then."

"Kidnaping?" the comedian asked.

"Yeah, some guy decided I should be his sex slave. I dissuaded him of that notion."

"With a sword?" Jay asked.

"I learned how to use the sword to help my balance. I'm much more evenly balanced now." Xander grinned. "And I learned some other things too, like how flexible I am." He noticed the host was sweating and handed over the handkerchief from his pocket. "Here, you look like you need it," he said with a softer grin. "Anyway," he sighed, "I'm back to being good most of the time and trying to work through that one fantasy novel."

"No more dark stuff?"

"Not at this time. I wrote that to get the darkness and anger out of myself, and it worked quite well. Pounding the anger I felt into those stories kept me from acting on some of it."

"And now you're being good?" Jay teased. "What does that mean?"

"That most of the time I'm sitting at home, allowing myself to be pampered and spoiled while I make my jewelry and write."

Jay chuckled at that. "Thank you. It's been stimulating," he said, shaking Xander's hand. "Xander's fourth book comes out officially in two weeks, and the other three are already in paperback, available most anywhere." He waited until the lights blinked, showing that the recording was done to pat Xander on the head. "Good job. Not too nervous sounding." He shook everyone else's hand and walked Xander back to his dressing room. "How do you handle two husbands and lovers?" he asked once they were alone.

"They get tired when it's just one of them," Xander told him, giving Ray a hug when they ran into him.

"Too true," Ray agreed. "We all get too tired, and he had to go find another lover. He's our own personal God of Sexual Frenzy." He scooted Xander into the dressing room, helping him into his jacket so they could leave. "No crazies."

"Yet," Xander amended. "Don't jinx us." He walked out after giving Ray a kiss.

Ray finally came back to his senses and followed Xander out to their rental car, running to catch up. Outside the theater, one man was waiting on them. "What?" he asked the guy, pushing past him and dragging Xander with him.

"It's you, isn't it?" Xander asked, pushing forward his sensuality so the man wouldn't do more than look at him, and would ignore Ray. "You're the one who wrote the letters."

"I am," he said, smiling at Xander. "You should be mine. I could use a mind like yours." He made a grab for Xander, but studio security was running and got there in time to stop him. And so did the cat that had been trying to nibble on Xander earlier. The man screamed as the cat pounced him and bit him.

"Ow," Ray said mildly, watching the cat tear into the human being. "Gotta hurt."

"Probably," Xander agreed, reaching in to grab the scruff of the cat since the zoologist was just watching in horrified fascination. "You're a good girl," he purred, giving her a pet as he handed her back to her handler. "A very good girl. Thank you." She licked his face, leaving a blood trail, but quickly licked it off him.

The zoologist pulled the cat away from him, taking her back to their van, berating the handler the whole way.

"That was strange," Ray said, leading Xander to the car. He saw the glance back. "It'll be okay. They know where we'll be. They know about the guy already."

One of the security guards looked at them over top of his sunglasses, his black hair glossy in the parking lot lights. "You two go home," he said, his accent very fake. "We'll come find you."

"Okay," Xander said, waving at him. If Strife said to go home, he'd go home. "Sunnydale?" he suggested to Ray.

"Nah, I wanna go back to the hotel. I'm kinda missin' Miami. Even the heat." Ray put him into the car first, then walked around to get in and drive. "We can go home this winter when Miami gets crowded with older folks avoiding the cold." He started the car and pulled out, heading to their temporary home. "Think we should call Spike and Seth up? Ask them for a status report?"

"Sure," Xander said happily. "We'll have them come up tomorrow night. We were planning on staying anyway." He put a hand on Ray's thigh, stroking it gently. "Ray, I need sex," he said bluntly.

"Well, okay then," Ray said happily.

THE END...for now.