Blair pushed Xander back down on his new couch as he walked past him into the kitchen. "Want some toast?"

"Nope, thanks." He looked at the tv screen again. "Don't you have a class today?"

"No. It's Break," he called, rummaging in the fridge. "Ready to try some real food? Nothing spicy but still real?" Xander shook his head. "It's time to eat, what do you want?" he asked, frowning at his former roommate. "And quit being so difficult. Even Jim whines when he's sick now that I've fixed him and if I have to fix you, I'm going to be mean."

"I'm not Jim and I ate an hour ago," Xander called back, focusing on the screen. "When can I have a sketchpad again?"

"When you've proved to me that you aren't going to keep getting lost," Blair said, leaning over the back of the couch, right beside the younger man's ear. "Now then, you have to eat, it's been *three* hours. What would you like? Salad with some chicken or some turkey maybe? Something softer? Pasta?"

"Okay," he said, turning around, running into Blair's lips with his own. He felt the same spark he did with Darryl so dived in for another one. "Wow," he said, pulling back.

"You're telling me?" Blair said, standing up and looking around. "Not going to happen," he decided, heading back for the kitchen, pulling out a pot. "So, a real meal at last?" When he didn't get an answer, he looked at the younger man. "Hey, I liked, a lot, but it can't happen. Not between us. Think of Jim and Oz."

"Who are both straight," Xander pointed out, getting up to walk in and sit on the counter, something they had started when they had lived together. "Mine won't mind."

"Jim would," Blair muttered, adding some salt to the water and some thin, round pasta. "Penne okay?"

"Yup fine," Xander said. He tapped Blair on the shoulder. "I can take no, I just wanted a good reason."


"Who right now is over at his apartment and probably listening, and who hasn't come over to save your virtue, I might add." That brought out a small smile. "See, so he either agrees or isn't paying attention to you. Something you should have."

Blair shook his head. "Now I know what Darryl meant about you sweet-talking him into bed."

"Na-uh. Oz told him he wasn't like that when they were discussing bonds and I raised my hand and said I was. So I got a kiss. And a spark from that kiss." He pulled the older man's head around, kissing him again, showing how good he could be. "See?" he asked, licking his lips.

Blair calmly took the pot off the burner, then pulled Xander into his arms and kissed him hard. Somehow they ended up on the floor, wrapped around each other, gasping for breath as Oz looked down on them.

"Thought I heard a crash," he said, shrugging as he walked around them to the fridge. "Jim's outta milk." He took the carton and walked back to the other apartment, closing the door.

Xander smirked at Blair. "See?" And his mouth was closed for him by another pair of lips, his breath sucked from his body as the very talented tongue explored his mouth, his own trying to keep up with it. He started to pant as a hand found its way under his shirt, tenderly touching his chest, so he worked on doing the same, struggling against the tucked in t-shirt. "Gotta get this off you," he panted, pulling back to remove both their shirts, with some help. He dove back into the willing mouth, upping his senses to take advantage of the situation, rolling on top of the older man, straddling his waist, pulling back to rub down the hairy chest. "Wow," he said softly, playing with the hairs, swirling and tugging on them. He grinned as Blair arched up under his fingers, so dived down for another kiss while he did it some more, excited beyond belief that he could make this man so hot for him.

Blair rolled them over, frowning down at him. "You are just a handful, Xander," he said, stroking over the firm chest, avoiding the bandage from his emergency surgery, then down over the tight stomach. "I don't know what I'm going to do with you."

"Yes, you do," Xander said, nodding rapidly, knocking his head on the floor as his jeans were undone. "Thank you, muchly."

Blair chuckled lightly, leaning down for another kiss as his hands continued to wander. "Too long for both of us?"

"Much. Just one single swallow from Dev." He arched up into the teasing fingers. "That night you came over."

"Ah," Blair whispered with a small smile, "wondered what had happened to you. Figured Oz had brained you with a chair or something."

"Nope, had an instant of like." He rolled them over, working on the older man's button flies, bending down to lick through the hair as he worked frantically. He tugged a couple of times with his lips, then found his way to a nipple, his inexperience telling him to give it massive attention.

Blair reached down, undoing the last two buttons himself and slowed Xander's head down. "If you're that hungry, I'm making you food instead," he said quietly.

Xander looked up and grinned. "Only if I can eat it off your tummy." He watched the deep blue eyes as he leaned down to lick at the hairy surface, seeing the shiver. "See, you taste good." He removed a hair from his mouth then stood, pulling off his jeans and briefs quickly, and sitting back down across the jeans clad hips. "So, what should I do with you?" he asked softly, running his fingers down the heaving chest. "Too heavy?" he asked, wiggling some.

"No," Blair moaned, sitting up to kiss him again. "Just fine." He tangled his fingers in the younger man's hair, working him for all he was worth. "But the kitchen floor isn't the place for this."

"You mean I gotta move?" Xander asked, raising an eyebrow. "Really?" He stood up, holding out a hand to pull the older man up. "Okay." He led them up the stairs, turning as his partner kicked the door shut behind them. "Very okay," he said, watching Blair strip for him. He lay down across the foot of the bed on his side, drawing on the bedspread with a finger as he watched the older man, trying to show himself off to his best advantage, something art class had taught him. "So," he said when he was joined and rolled onto his back, "what should I do with you?" he whispered, stealing another kiss. He moaned as his hair was tugged lightly by the tangling fingers, and drug his teeth lightly across the older man's swollen bottom lip. "Blair," he sighed, "you do good things to me." He pushed up against the bare body, both gasping as their cocks touched for the first time. "Can I have some of that?"

"Oh, you're going to get it," Blair told him with a small smile, rolling them over so he was on the bottom. "What do you want to do, Xander? Play however you want." His smile increased as he saw the devious little twinkle in the dark brown eyes, letting his arms go so the younger man could play. His breath caught as the semi-talented mouth worked its way back down to his chest, playing with the hair and the nipples hidden in it. "Don't see much of that stuff?" he asked breathlessly.

"Not on Darryl or the other guy I've gotten into bed."

Blair pulled the younger man's hair up. "How experienced are you?"

"One lover, on and off, that I topped. And Darryl." He grinned self-consciously. "Sorry if that's..." His eyes widened at the small pinch to his inner thigh. "Blair," he said, shifting to rub against the hand. "Easy down there." He grinned and went back to his playing, making the older man groan as he worked his way down the firm stomach. "Want this," he said against the hard cock, licking up the bottom of it until he got to the head, which he sucked into his mouth to play with. He worked his tongue over the swelling flesh as he suckled on it, earning a few laughs as he hit a ticklish spot. Then he moved down farther, hitting his tongue across that magical spot between the head and the shaft, taking the head out to concentrate on it for a few seconds. Then he worked his way down farther, considerately using his tongue the whole way to find the most interesting spots that made his lover's breath catch. He came back up, just teasing the head again, smiling up at him. "Okay?" he asked.

"Shut up and do more," Blair ground out. "Or I'm going to set your self-confidence lever at nine." They shared a look then started to laugh together, ending curled around the other again, kissing hard and lightly rubbing their cocks against the other man's stomach. "So good, Xander," Blair moaned, holding the younger man harder against him. "Want more. You okay?"

"Yup. More is good," Xander said between kisses. "Want to bottom."

Blair pulled back. "Really?"

"Yup," Xander said, stroking over Blair's cock, teasing it with the calluses from his drawing. "Now, please!" he demanded with a small grin, leaning in to nip at the soft lips. "Please," he moaned as a finger found its way into him.

Blair nodded, pointing at the drawer, and suddenly his face was full of cock as the younger man crawled up him to reach it. So he did the natural thing and took a lick. His lover whimpered, pushing against the tongue, as he reached for the drawer, quickly pulling out condoms and lube, tossing them up onto the pillows as he sat up to watch Blair tease him.

Xander's eyes started to roll back in his head as he felt the fingers enter him, cool with the slick liquid of the lube, he was enjoying the double sensation *way* to much to care if someone would be listening right now so ground out his lover's name in a plea, "Blair. Please, now," he whimpered, sliding back away from that sinful tongue, sliding down onto the harder fingers as he got another kiss. "Enough fingers, want cock," he said between licks across them and nips to the swollen surface. His lover chuckled lightly and a bigger hardness was pressed against his hole, making him relax as he teased as cutely as he could, tempting the older man to ride him hard and long, to possess him deeply. To give them both what they really craved. He pushed back against the head, sliding it inside, closing his eyes as he worked his way down it, sitting up.

"So nice," Xander whispered once he was down, flexing his muscles around it, then he slid up a few inches, working his way back down quickly, liking the being filled part a lot. He worked his way up again, going farther, opening his eyes to look down at the older man, grinning as he started to move faster. "Liking?"

"Very," Blair told him, pulling him off, "but I want to see you under me, not on top of me, Xan." He tossed the younger man to the bed, sliding back into him with one sure stroke. "Experience pays," he whispered, riding him in hard, short strokes, watching the pleasurable heat grow in the darker eyes. When he saw it about to crest he pulled back to long, slow, even strokes, almost teasing in their slowness. His lover tried to buck up against him to get the first pace back, but he held him still with his body, giving him the harder, faster ones now to let him build back up again, smiling at the desperate look he was being given. "Liking?"

"Lots," Xander panted, pushing his hips up to meet his lover's. "Could use more though. Liked the teasing." He moaned as the cock in him suddenly pulled back almost all the way out. "Blair!"

"Shh, relax, I'm giving you some of the best." He slid back in, ever so slowly, teasing him now, just what he had asked for. He heard the quiet noises, almost whimpers again, so did it again, this time going just a little slower. He got a real whimper when he pulled back out this time so slammed in hard, earning quiet words.

"Yes, please? I'll beg."

"You are."

"I know, but I'll do it harder. I'll obey orders," he offered. That got him a small smile of satisfaction. "Hey, much more of that and I'd offer to let you have a body part."

Blair pulled back, chuckling now. "Okay, we'll see." He slammed in again and again, riding him hard, fast, deep, giving him the best he had. And they both came, Blair first, throwing his head back to yell. Unfortunately Jim's name.

Xander whimpered one last time and came from watching Blair, pushing up into the firm stomach that had been rubbing against his swollen cock. And he yelled his own Guide's name.

Jim looked at Oz across his hand of cards and sighed. "You ready to deal with that aftermath?" he said.

"I'm straight, he's not. He's enjoying himself," Oz said, putting down a card. "Gin." He laid down the rest of them, showing off his hand.

"Brat," Jim growled, totaling up his points.

Blair watched Xander play with his chest hair idly while he came down. "Telling huh?" he asked, closing his eyes so he wouldn't have to see the pain in the darker ones.

"Yup," Xander said, giving the older man a gentle kiss. "But I still like you lots." He grinned as the blue eyes focused on him. "I do, otherwise you woulda been riding me, still." He wiggled his eyebrows at the small smile. "Wanna try?"

"No," the older man said, rolling them over, "I want to talk about us calling the other people's names."


"Maybe," Blair conceded. "But Jim isn't going to touch me anytime soon."

"One never knows," Xander told him, looking at the door. "Jim, Oz," he said, nodding at them. "Probs?"

"Nope," Oz said, tossing over the robe. "Just came to make sure you were both living since it was awfully quiet." He raised an eyebrow at the elder Guide. "We don't mind. This is all good to us." Jim nodded.

"No jealousy," Blair asked.

"Nope," Jim said, heading back downstairs. Oz shook his head, following.

"Gee," Xander said quietly, "our straight guys understand." Then he shrieked the older man's name as he was tickled.


Blair walked down the stairs an hour or so after their last sexual encounter, a tender sucking from his partner, and smiled back up the stairs. "Do you want to try the lunch thing again?" he called.

"Sure, whatever is fine," Xander called, walking down naked to gather his clothes off the couch where someone had thoughtfully left them folded for him. "What time is it?" he asked.

"Six or so," Blair said, pouring new water into the now clean pot. "Did you notice the cleaning fairies come in?" The younger man shook his head. "Me either." He looked around his apartment. "Should go thank them though."

"Just don't give me a Xander-tasting kiss," Jim said from the doorway, smiling slightly at them. "You two feel better?" They both nodded. "Good." He walked back into his apartment, leaving the door open.

"Gee, the cleaning fairy who came back," Xander said, finishing up the last button on his jeans then walking into the kitchen, wrapping his arms around the older man's waist. "We okay?" he whispered with a gentle neck kiss under the pulled up hair.

"Yup, if you think it's going to be okay," Blair said, turning around to hug him back. "Xander, I'm a real casual person. Casual is good for me. There's not any pressure or commitment here. Okay?"

The younger man pulled back to grin. "Does that mean I have to beg next time?"

"Only if it comes with an offer to let you do that to me again," Blair said with his own smile. He gave him another kiss. "Sketchpad is under the tv." The younger man looked at him in confusion. "Don't want it?"

"Oh, I do, but why offer out of the blue. The muse is being fairly quiet right now."

"That's when you should work," Oz said from the connecting doorway. They both turned to look at him. "Just no chasing around the office, okay?"

"Oh, no," Blair said, shaking his head. "I know better than that. I'll get my ass fired for that." He turned back to the water, adding some pasta to it. "Xander, make some salad, I'm hungry too."


"In the bag." He looked up at Oz. "Jim feed you?"

"Pizza," Xander said, sniffing deeply. "With pepperoni and sausage and hot peppers." He got a small smile from Oz and a pat to his shoulder from Blair. "Oh, and what is that last one?"

"Extra cheese," Jim said coming over, bringing a plate of three pieces. "And you can't have any because of your stomach. Be a good boy and eat the salad." He handed the plate to Blair. "Knew you'd want some."

"Yup," the elder Guide said, eating happily. " Xander, salad, I'll need something to balance against this treat."

Xander pulled the lettuce and the chicken out first, putting it on the counter.


Oz sat behind Xander as he stared at the blank canvas board. "No muse?"

"No, too many images." He turned to watch his Guide eat breakfast. "Way too many running around again."

"So, start with one and go on." He rubbed down the tense arm. "Start by relaxing. I won't let you skip class today." He moved closer, turning his head back to the blank surface. "See the picture," he whispered in his best Guide voice. "See it on the canvas, make it come to life for you. You're safe to create now," he said, rubbing over the still tight arms. "Relax, no one'll see them except me and Dev. We can put them in a closet if you want," he whispered, shifting closer. He watched the big brush be filled with paint, a light background wash applied. "Just let the muse flow, Xander, let it come out to play."

He sat with his Guideling while he painted, watching him work the colors into an intensity of blue and brown swirls, a slender white thread merging through it. When that one was done, he checked his watch, seeing that they had an hour before class. "One hour left," he whispered, backing away from the younger man. "We should get ready."

"In a sec," Xander mumbled, pulling a new board up to start on it, working quickly as he captured the image he wanted, the man on the board coming to life for him.

Oz smiled at the younger man's back, getting up to get the phone, dialing Blair's office quickly. "Blockage is broken after two days," he whispered, then hung up, walking back over to sit behind his friend as he fixed the past few minutes of work, erasing the dead spots to put more vibrant colors on the board.

Oz looked at his watch, frowning, then at the boards now lining the floor to dry. "If you want more of those today, we'd better go to the art store," he said quietly. Xander was sitting in front of his last clean one, trying to figure out what was in his head again.

"In a minute," the younger man said absently, swiping the brush through the color he wanted for the background. But the brush was taken from him by his roommate. "Hey!"

"That's your last one. You need to hit the art store," Oz told him gently. "Come on, I'll take you." He helped the younger man up, following him into his room as he put on clothes. "This will be educational for me. I've never been in there. I got that one book from the college bookstore." Xander nodded, slipping on one of his ultra tight t-shirts. "Looks like we have to hit the bank too, laundry time." The younger man looked at him. "Hey, you still wear clothes sometimes."

"Yup, do," Xander said as he stepped into his sneakers, grabbing his wallet and checkbook. "Come on, let's go."

Oz stopped him at the elevator, checking to make sure that it was there. They'd had some problems with it sticking recently. "We need to go pick up your check still from the art auction." The younger man frowned at the wood of the gate. "Might as well get it over with. Probably could use the money right now. Your deductible was huge."

"Yeah, well," he sighed, leaning against the gate. "I guess. But I paid that part off. And I should still have a few thousand saved."

The older man nodded, getting him into the elevator and shutting the gate. "We can ask once we're down there."


Oz walked in behind Xander, steadying him with a hand to his arm as he all but forced him into the art department. They stopped in front of the secretary, smiling thinly.

"She wanted to give it to you at a special awards thing with the rest of the kids," the secretary said, buzzing the Chair, "but I'm sure we can make allowances since you probably don't want to go."

"No, he has to go," Mary said, leaning in her doorway. "He's not exempt from department functions."

"Oh, yeah, I am," Xander said. "Because I said I'm not going." He stared down his Chair, scratching idly at his newest scar from his surgery, which made her wince. "You see, I have hospital bills to pay now thanks to you and I refuse to be put on parade for anyone. And you can't withhold my money."

She walked into her office, coming back out with the check. "Here," she said stiffly. "Hopefully we won't have this problem next time."

"No, we won't, because I'm never doing this again." He stared directly into her eyes. "And yes, I am still considering suing the department. I *told* you I didn't want to sell." He turned, walking away, Oz right beside him.

"Young man, I'd let your friend tell you the facts of life about art and artists."

"If it makes you happy, it's good. Money is the instrument of tasteless people," Oz called over his shoulder, earning a small gasp. "Idealistic youth," he said when he turned at the door.

The Chair of the Art department shook her head sadly. "And he had such a bright future," she told the secretary.

"Plenty of people who weren't interested in commercial success found it anyway," the young woman soothed, patting her hand. "Would you like some tea?"


Xander frowned at his account summary. "Who did those three?" he asked, pointing at them. She pointed them at a small desk in the corner, so he and Oz went over there. "Hi, I have some suspicious activity on my account?" The man waved the to the chairs and they sat, handing over the form.

"Ah, so that's your account," he said softly. He looked up, sighing. "It seems the ATM was used but we don't have a picture of the person doing so. We're looking into the computer glitch right now." He handed it back. "Could one of you or your friends done it?"

Oz coughed lightly. "Entirely possible. His card's usually just sitting on his dresser." He looked at the printout of the account activity. "Not too big so we can get that person to give it back," he told his roommate, who nodded slowly. "We okay with the one you cut to the hospital?" Xander nodded. "Good." He turned back to the manager. "Is there some problem otherwise?"

"No, if you can fix that problem, it'd be a help. Of course, if you could tell me what he did to the cameras..." Oz shook his head. "Didn't think so." He shrugged. "Sorry."

"S'okay," Xander said, shaking his hand. They got up and left the bank, heading into the bright sunlight, which made him wince. "Damn, gotta get some sunglasses soon," he muttered, heading to Jim's old truck.

Oz looked at his roommate as he got in. "Blair thinks we should hold offerings to the sun when it comes out." He started the truck, backing out. "You want to scream or shall I?"

"I'll stake if you hold him still."

"Just smile at the man, he'll fall to his knees and beg. Devon's like that."

Xander sighed in appreciation as he walked into the art store he visited regularly, waving at the saleswoman that always helped him. "Hi, need more stuff," he said happily, letting Oz hold his checkbook.

She walked up to him and gave him a hug. "Heard you had a bad time at the auction," she said, patting his shoulder, about as high as she could reach considering she was about five foot tall. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, ulcer burst," he said with a small grimace. "Oh, this is Oz, my ever-patient roommate," he said, pulling him forward. "Oz, this is Mirabella, my partner in filling our space with cheap artwork." He smiled down at her. "Well, what do I need today?"

"I'd say some more basics," she said, pointing at the boards. "Go find some that call to you and try a few more canvases too," she called after his back, turning to smile up at Oz. "He's such a good boy, little helpless though."

Oz nodded. "Oh, I know." He looked around the room slowly. "So glad his corner of our loft doesn't look like this." She laughed lightly, a cheerful sound. "Think I'm kidding? He paints on pillows, there are empty and half-empty tubes of oil paints everywhere. The whole area is covered in paint flecks." He shuddered. "I have half a mind to go clean up after him before we get overrun by strange colored paint monsters." She giggled at that, patting his arm. "Oh, and I noticed he was out of yellow, that creepy one he gets, and the fluorescent white looking stuff too. Not to mention all his grays are gone and most of his blues now."

"Hey, Oz, think I could do something this size?" Xander asked, shifting a huge canvas out.


"True," Xander said, putting it back. "Have to get a new easel if I did that."

"We need to build you a drying rack," Oz told him, looking at one assembled in the middle of the floor. "That way I wouldn't ruin any more on my way to class." He looked up to see his roommate beside him. "How's that for an idea?"

"Could," Xander admitted, touching the wooden shelving unit delicately. "And it's neat looking."

"And 'spensive," Oz reminded him. "Jim might be able to build it."

"That one's on sale," Mirabella called from in front of the paints. "Not too many people do that much work to need that size."

Oz snorted. "He does that and more weekly." She turned to smile at him so he looked at his roommate. "You really want this? I'll help you put it together. We'll do the whole group project thing tonight after we hurt Devon."

Xander frowned at him. "Oh, yeah, I want to stake his ass." He looked up as Mirabella walked over to him, frowning. "He took my ATM card and used it without telling me." She continued to glare at him, tapping her foot now. "Hey, he went to an ATM, which have cameras, and used my card against my will. And I won't kill the guy, he's a great source of forms." He glared back.

She sighed, grabbing his wrist. "Young man," she said as she squeezed gently, "such irreverence for his life is a sign that you're in artistic decay. No matter what he is." She glanced at Oz and Xander nodded. "I know he did wrong, but he's a nice kid. You should just yell at him, maybe throw things that aren't wooden."

Oz cleared his throat. "Please tell me I was wrong and you aren't what...." She nodded. "Okay, so problems here?" he asked Xander.

"Not as long as the blonde stays away," he said sweetly. "Or the other one if she wakes up." The slightly older man nodded. "See, fair all the way around." He looked back down at her. "I promise not to stake him, okay?" She nodded, letting go of his wrist, which he rubbed. "Now, I need some paint." He handed Oz his boards.

"Just these?"

"No, I picked out a few more, I'll go back and get them in a sec." He followed her, frowning at the brush he'd been wanting and picking it up finally. "Need this," he muttered, and then he started to grab paints, watching as they were put back and another brand of bigger tubes was handed to him. "Okay, and I need that yellow and the shiny stuff," he said, pulling that down too. By the time he was done, the small basket was full of colors. "Oz, what else did I need?"

"Green." The older man watched as a tube was tossed in randomly. "And you kept wanting crimson last night." A tube was held up by Mirabella. "Teal?" Another was held up. "Looks like you got all you wanted."

Xander stood in front of the paint display, frowning. "Feels like I'm missing something though."

"Basics?" Mirabella said dryly. "Grays, whites, blacks?" He looked down at her and nodded. So she put two big tubes of black in with a smile. "Noticed you didn't get any."

"Got that brown you ran out of?" Oz asked. Another tube was put in and the older man walked closer to the display, picking up a tube. "Blair's eyes are a color?" he asked, holding the small tube up. Xander grabbed for it, smiling at him. "Okay, anything else? Pencils? Oh, and you need a new book, you have less than ten pages blank on the back sides." He waited until the younger man was over looking at them to turn to their helper. "This is an expensive major," he said. She just smiled. "How does he afford to keep it up?"

"Well," she said, walking toward the canvas boards to pick up what he had pulled out, nodding at Oz to get the bigger ones, "he buys in bulk so saves some. And some of these colors he rarely buys. Some of that stuff was really building his arsenal up so he didn't have to mix so much." She walked the loads back to the counter, resting things on the open spaces. "Sweetie, you needed a new eraser too probably."

Oz snorted. "I never see him use one."

"He uses them when he sketches on the boards, which is rare, but the canvas wears it down quickly. At least the ones he likes it does." She watched Xander stare at the display of art markers longingly. "Are you getting into a new field?" she asked. He shook his head. "Then you really don't need those. A sharpie to sign your work is enough." He nodded, going to pick up a box of the drying rack kit, and came up to them, taking back his checkbook after he handed it over.

Oz winced as he wrote out the check but he had seen the one that he'd just deposited, so it would all be okay. At least he hoped the Art department didn't try to hurt him by stopping payment on it or something.


Xander and he sighed at the small pieces of wood then looked at the diagram again. Then they looked at each other and nodded. "Jim," they said together, Oz reaching for the phone.

"Hey, Jim, want a new project? No, putting together a drying rack for Xander." Oz looked up and smiled. "Yup, one of those. Could use the help. Lots of little pieces and a bad drawing. Even he said so." He snorted and hung up. "They'll be over later."

"Got to move those then," Xander said, looking at his earlier works. "Oz, didn't I have a test today?"

"Yeah, but Blair called you in still sick with new stomach pains." The younger man looked at him. "We both decided that it was more important to get you painting again than you going in for an English test."

"So he lied for me?"

"Something like that." He shrugged, getting up to answer the gate. He growled softly at Devon as he appeared. "Early night?" he asked snidely, pulling him inside.

"Whoa, what's the major?" the young vampire said, letting himself be dragged over to the sitting area. "What's up, Xander?" he said softly, putting emphasis on the younger mortal's name.

"You used my ATM card," he said coolly. "At an actual machine. One that had a camera, which didn't see you." The vampire frowned then tried to give him a pitiful look. "Don't even. I was ready to stake you earlier."

"If you had *asked*," Oz told him, "we might have lent you some."

"Is this one of those I gotta get a job whines?" Devon asked, shifting to get more comfortable, leaning against Oz's shoulder. "'Cause we just need more gigs."

"We have a nice tour coming up," Oz reminded him, then he looked at his Guideling, who looked startled. "We told you that, right?" he asked quietly. Xander shook his head. "Oh. Um, yeah, we kinda booked for a month and a half."


Oz didn't like the quiet tone the younger man was using. "Around. This part of the country at least. You can come," he offered. "Paint in those places. Travel is good for artists."

"But I like it here. I'm inspired here." He looked up at his Guide. "When were you going to tell me?"

"I thought we did," Oz said, reaching out to touch his shoulder but it was moved away. "Come on, Xander, you knew I was going to go on tour again, we've been talking about it for months."

"I don't listen to the conversations you guys have while you practice," Xander reminded them. "We'll talk about it later," he muttered, getting up to head for the bathroom, locking himself in and drawing a tub of water in the cramped space.

"Damn," Oz muttered as the elevator started down to bring someone up. "Thought I had told him."

"You may have, he may have been in that funky thing he does while he paints." Devon shrugged. "What's that?" he asked, waving at the pieces of wood on the floor.

"Drying rack. Jim's coming to help us put it together." He frowned as the man in question walked into their former industrial space. "Hey, Jim, didn't I tell him about the tour?"

"Yes, but he was out of it at the time," the older man said. He sat down in front of the pieces, putting down his toolbox, and opening it. "You were right, lots of little pieces." He did a quick count. "And not enough here for the drawing."

"The shelves are under the coffee table," Oz told him. "And a few of the little bracket thingies are hiding where they hopped to." He shrugged at the dirty look. "Hey, I couldn't even track them. They were slippery."

Devon sighed, getting down onto the floor. "He only knows computer and guitar tools, Jim, let me help you." He took the plans, looking at the small pieces. "So, why don't we start on the sides?"

Oz looked at the bathroom door, wondering how long it would take for his Guideling to get over this trauma.