The Beginning of the End.
Xander came down the next morning, finding his dogs back, and they had apparently robbed a pet store. "Did John buy you toys?" he said with a smile. He unwrapped something they only had gotten half undone. Mamma dog settled in to chew on the rawhide. Pappa had pigs ears to chew on. He had a few littered around.
Xander put up the rest and went to make coffee and breakfast. The dogs came in to get their own food and went back to playing. "You guys can bring a toy with you to the farm." He put down cups. "Ezra, coffee," he called. Ezra came down from the guest room. He had said they weren't ready to getting groiny yet. Ezra stumbled in and took his cup to sip. Xander grinned, coming over to smooth down his hair. "Good morning."
"Good morning." He took a kiss. "Did I hear mention of food?"
"Baking. You have time to take a shower." Ezra nodded, taking his coffee up to his bathroom.
Xander checked, let the dogs out, then went to clean up after them. He came in to toss out the poop bag and washed his hands thoroughly. Ezra smiled from the table. "They needed cleaned up after." He washed them again to make sure nothing was on them then pulled out the food. Ezra had said that he had dog fur in his dinner last night. "We can brush them after the ride?"
"That's a great idea." He let the dogs sneak past him under the table. Xander would drop food for them but Ezra didn't give in to begging. Even when they nudged his hand. He looked down to pet her. "You know I don't give in to begging." She barked and settled down, giving her human a begging, starving puppy look. "You shouldn't give in."
"I don't until the last few bites." Xander ate his rewarmed strudel with a moan of pleasure. "This is good. Thank you for making me stop at the bakery."
"You're welcome. We're both benefitting from the quick stop." He finished up. The dogs sniffed at him. "You know I don't give in to begging, dogs." Xander dropped his last two bites down for them and cleaned up their mess. "Did you not have a cook?"
"The guards got rid fo her when they left that day. She got hired pretty fast by a hotel. So I'm looking." He shrugged and looked around. "Let me clean up and I'll be back down."
"I put something out for you."
Xander smiled. "You always make me worthy of drool." He walked off to shower and put on whatever Ezra wanted him to wear. "Why do I need a suit?" he called.
"You have Senate today," Ezra called. "They'll stare less at the black eye if you're in a suit." Xander came down looking very nice and holding sunglasses. "I'm sure they already know," he noted.
"I know but it's bright." He put them on. "Are we ready?" Ezra nodded, grabbing his jacket. "Did you get to pack?"
"Some." He smiled. "I can shop as easily as I make you shop." He walked them out and to the car. "When are you going to finish that condo?"
"Next month sometime. That way it can sell before I leave DC."
"I doubt we'll be leaving anytime soon." He looked around. "Aren't we going to the farm?"
"That's what I thought." He called his assistant. Xander ran up to put on jeans and a t-shirt, grabbing a different jacket. Ezra changed into more casual clothes. The dogs got into the car with them and they drove out to the farm. "We have three whole hours," he announced. The dogs barked, heading for the stables. They came out looking around. "Must already be out. Companion?" She neighed. So did Ezra's horse. They saddled them and walked them out. "Let's catch up with the herd." He looked at the dogs. "Stay and guard, kids." They laid down in front of the barn. He and Ezra rode off.
Buck looked back when he heard them. "You two sleep in?" he taunted with a smirk.
"Ezra said he's not ready for massive amounts of cuddling I unleash every night," Xander shot back with an evil smirk. "He got to sleep with the dogs though." Chris snickered, shaking his head. "So, where are we going today? I have two and a half hours."
"We're doing the minor loop today." They nodded and rode off, the others riding around them. It was safer that way. It brought them back behind the house. The dogs were growling at them and the car. "What happened to you two?" Chris asked.
"Down," Xander called. They whimpered. He dismounted and walked closer to the car. They growled at him. "Huh. Barn! Now!" They ran that way. Xander found his phone and went to check over the car. "I mean it." They snuck back to the barn. "Shit. We have a timer."
"Move the horses behind the barn," Chris ordered. "Dogs too." He petted them. "Good dogs to warn us." They got put on leashes by JD and led with the horses. He had to go back for Xander. "Can you disarm it?"
"No. It's got thirty minutes." He checked his watch. "Just before we were supposed to leave." He walked off to calm down his pets. The ATF bomb disposal unit got there before it went off. Xander leaned around the barn. "No explosion?"
"No, sir. Is this your car?"
"Damn it." He got the bomb off the car. "We need to take it for processing, sir."
"That's fine. We can drive him," Chris said. "Check the others please." They moved to do that. They found one on Ezra's car. He looked at the kid, who shrugged. "Anything like notes?"
"I'm to know what you find first," Chris ordered. He handed over his card.
"Yes, sir. Did you see anything?"
"We were riding. The dogs were here. They growled at us when we got near the car."
"We knew the dogs were good. They deserve treats, Larabee. That was a nasty bomb." They finished up checking things and left them alone.
Xander came out of the barn from putting up his and Chris's mares. "When you find out, let me know?"
"When they're begging to be raped in jail." He went to check his mare, smiling at how spoiled she was feeling. "You did good, kid. Buck, drive 'em home to change and then to the Senate."
Xander checked his watch. "No time to change." He looked at Ezra. "Dinner out?"
"Would be a nice place to wear that suit."
Xander smirked and slid into his sunglasses so they could leave. Traffic was nasty so Xander got there when they were deciding who was going to take his spot. "Sorry, was at the farm and traffic's a bitch today." He sat down and took off his sunglasses. A few hissed. He shrugged. "I've had worse on patrol, people. He banged his gavel. "Let's call this session to order. What do we have in front of us today?" he asked the one who recorded the agenda.
"We have three possible bills, sir, and a vote on whether or not we want to overturn the newest presidential edict."
"That can go last," Xander ordered. "People, let's start." They sat down. "What's the first movement?"
"A movement on the bill to increase the FDA's responsibilities over the food supply in cases of outbreak," he announced. The senators for that came up to talk about it.
Xander raised a hand. "A question. Why do we not test the food before we release it? That way we don't have to have recalls?"
"It can take some time to test some things," one of the senators said. "I asked that myself. They said it was impractical and would slow the food getting to the people."
"Is it that impractical or is it something that better science would make faster?"
"Probably better science would make faster."
Xander nodded. "Okay. Can we add to the bill that they actively research faster ways to test things before they get released on the public and we get sick?"
"I can add an amendment commanding them to actively research safer and faster tests," the bill's sponsor said. "Frankly most of us think they should already be doing that but they might not be."
"I doubt they have since the tests haven't gotten any faster in my life," Xander quipped. A few snickered and nodded. That got added and they went back to arguing over it. It was probably going to pass soon. The next one was pointless and Xander yawned through most of it, rubbing his jaw a few times. The third one was even more pointless. Xander looked at the person pushing it. "Grow up. Please? Just ... grow up." The man glared. Xander stared back.
"No one cares what you think about religion. We have a first amendment for a reason. It's heretics who only read part of the book, only pay lip service to what little they have read, and who try to force their faith on others." He stomped back to his seat. "Does anyone want this motion to continue?" One raised her hand. "Does he have a second?" No.
"Then I move this movement declined as pointless. Plus a waste of time since it'd have to go to the Supreme Court to be tossed out." He banged his gavel. "Okay, we have our argument of the week," he sighed. "Let's start arguments against. I'm sure there's plenty of you."
A few glared. He glared back. One stepped up to speak. "There is already a law covering it. We don't feel that the new punishment will do more than muddy most cases. As much as I believe that the higher penalty is necessary and correct, it does unfortunately mimic the present law."
"Can we get a copy of the present law put up?" Xander asked. The agenda keeper found it in the system and put it up. And a second one. He read them over. "I don't see where upping the penalty will cause a conflict, Senator. Would you please explain your reasoning?"
He looked at him. "I know it was bad."
"Senator, that was the second yesterday. The first I ended up shooting the people who shot the guards I was jogging with in the leg." He shuddered. "This morning there was a bomb put on my car when I was riding. If they can do that to me, they can do it anyone. How would some young kid like was at that convention early last year manage to survive?"
"I agree we need the stiffer penalty." He looked it over then pointed. "The bottom one is the later law. It was passed a few years before O'Neill took office." He reread them. "No, I... Can I see a copy of the new edict?" It was put up for him. He reread it. "I believe this part here," he said with a point, "will contradict this part on the newer law," he said with a point.
Xander nodded. "Okay, so it's just that part?"
"Yes, I believe that's the only one that would conflict." He sat down.
Xander nodded. "Does anyone have any arguments along his lines?" A few raised their hands. "Then let's have you next and then the other arguments so they're nicely together." They stood up and gave their ideas, agreeing how it would contradict that law. Xander cleared his throat. "Would the edict cancel out that law?" he asked the last one. She was a former law professor.
"No, in fact it would only create conflicting standards. It would leave prosecutors and judge able to consider the lesser charge if it was not taken off the books first." Xander took notes. She smiled. "The fix for it would be to change this law so it was in line with the edict, which could cause some discussion."
Xander nodded. "I figured there will be," he assured her with a smile. "Thank you." She nodded and sat down. "Okay, let's have the next branch of arguments."
One stepped up. "I do not care who thinks what, God...."
"God rules each person on a personal level, not this Senate. As each person sees God differently we cannot say what God does and does not want as those sections you were about to quote are misquoted all the time," another senator said. "Beyond that, would your fifteen-year-old girlfriend like that argument? Since God doesn't like adulterers?" That one stomped out of the senate.
Xander smiled. "Thank you for not making me snark about that one. You didn't have to."
The senator shrugged. "The religious blowhards should be preaching in a church, not in the Senate."
"This country was founded on Christian principles!" another of the blowhards said.
"Technically, it was founded mostly on greed. Or else they would've traveled with ministers and families instead of shovels and panning equipment," another one said. "Do we really have to listen to them?"
"By the Senate Laws, each and every one of you has the right to vent your personal opinion on anything we're discussing," Xander said dryly. "He has the right to spew and I have the right to put on my iPod."
She smirked and pulled out hers. "Thank you, sir." The blowhard huffed. "It is my right not to pollute the way I see God with the way you see him or her." He stomped off to his seat. She put down her iPod. The next two religious ones were huffed at but let blow their heads out. The next argument was more reasonable and less religion based. That it wasn't something that should get someone a death penalty.
One stood up. "I want to counter argue." Xander nodded at him, pointing. "Are you against other hate crimes being treated by a higher penalty?"
"I am. They should get it no matter their reason. We don't judge crimes more severe because they're done due to greed, malice, or drug-induced psychosis."
"Wrong. Drugs being involved add up to five years depending on the state," another noted.
Xander looked at him. "Greed and malice usually happen when someone is against something you have. It's something that people can fight in themselves, can change for themselves, can even change their minds about. These people do this because of something that can't be changed."
"You could date a woman."
"I could, and the last one I dated was a queen gou'ald." The man gave him a horrified look. "The one before that was a peaceful demon who only ran guns to off-world and off-realm wars." The senator grabbed his stomach. "She was actually very pretty, very nice to me. Weapons cleaning was like foreplay. The one I nearly married was a fired vengeance demon," he said with a smile. "Over a thousand years old." Everyone was staring at him. "Plenty of dangerous women have loved me and wanted me, human and not. I can name six terrorists off the top of my head, another seven or so assassins, a few other arms dealers." Everyone was gaping in horror. "I don't decide who's drawn to me. And the science is contradictory about whether or not it's a choice to be gay. I personally don't think so. I tend to go for personality."
"Is your current one that dangerous?" he asked.
Xander grinned. "He's dangerous when he needs to be, as any agent is."
"Oh, I see. Well, you could... No, we'd rather not have you date another woman." Xander snickered and nodded. "Generally though...."
"Studies have proven that fully gay men don't even start producing the chemicals that would start desire while looking at pictures of naked women," the law professor senator said.
"Studies have also proven that 'fixing it' groups who use punishment methods for gay desires to change you straight don't work," Xander agreed. "Beyond that, off the point."
"I do not support anyone hating anyone but I do believe that your punishment should matter on the crime you did, not why you did it."
Xander nodded. "Which is a thoughtful position to be in. I don't begrudge you that." He smiled and sat down. "Any other in this line of thought?" No one moved forward. "Any other arguments against?" No one. "Arguments for?" They stood up and were more eloquent. "Please don't base this on me. I'd prefer you base it on what's going to happen to some young man or woman some night because someone didn't like who they picked up in a club or who they decided to move in with."
They nodded at that, the one talking corrected his argument. It was much more eloquent and spoke more to the harm that these sort of crimes could do to a person. Xander looked around the room. "As we all know, to defeat the edict, we have to have a three-quarter majority. I call for a silent vote so no one has to defend this one. Because even I heard the talking heads on tv." A few laughed at that description. The vote came close to even but not enough to overturn it. Xander stood up. "I'm going to make a motion to update that law so it does fit in with this edict."
"We can look at that," the law committee chairperson said.
Xander smiled. "Thank you for moving that before the committee to see if it's necessary." He banged his gavel. "It's been a long day, people. Go home." They left. He walked out and found Chris waiting on him. "Hey."
Chris stared at him. "You did good making them stay on the point," he said quietly. "You did a good thing for the people who need it. But if you ever date anyone like that, especially if you dump Ezra for it, I will kill you in the most horrible manner I can."
"I don't dump people, Chris. I never have outside of walking away from Anya for her own good."
"Good." He smirked. "Home to change for your date?"
"Yup. Ezra pulled out a nice suit and I didn't get to wear it today." He walked out beside him. Someone flashed a camera and took his picture. That's why he was blinking when he heard the gunshot. He pushed Chris down and pulled a gun, looking around.
"Got him, clear," someone shouted.
Xander relaxed, looking around again. He helped Chris back up. "You okay?"
Chris swatted him hard. "I'm supposed to protect *you*," he said hotly. "Not the other way around!"
"Sorry! I'm not used to being protected!"
"I'm beating you for that later."
"Hey, they could've been aiming for you," Xander complained. Chris pulled him down to the car. He put up his gun, shrugging at the dirty looks he was getting. "What?" he asked finally.
"Sir, it's his job to put his life on the line for you," one said.
"I spent nearly a decade and a half protecting slayers. It's hard to break that habit."
"By the time you get out of DC, you can break that, sir."
"Maybe my last year here?" He got into the car. Chris checked it over and then got in to drive. "Sorry!"
Chris reached over to swat him again, just as hard. "You will be."
"Thank you!" Ezra was going to lose his mind and yell about this. Or maybe just go silent and cold again. They'd have to stay out of the way of the fight. Ezra was waiting for them at the house.
"Hi," Xander said, taking a quick kiss. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." He looked at Chris. "He's right. They were aiming for you. Someone tried Vin a few hours back and your phone is dead." Chris looked and groaned. He looked at Xander. "He was still correct to spank you however. You cannot risk yourself that way."
"I'm used to being the protector."
"I had much the same reaction."
"Don't remind me," Chris complained. He handed Xander over. "Here, take him, make him eat real food. Which case?"
"The one last month is going to preliminary trial."
"Crap." He got back in the car to check on Vin. He got injured all too often. Nearly as often as Ezra did. They would protect each other so that was good.
Xander looked at him. "I honestly just reacted from instinct," he said quietly.
"I do the same so we'll do it to each other." He gave him a nudge. "Go shower and change. That way you're not carrying any politician germs." Xander smiled and jogged up to do that. Ezra looked up then at the dogs. "I clearly have met my match," he told the dogs. They came over to snuffle and pet him. "I do adore you two as well. Inside if you're done." They ran back to pee on a few more plants then went inside. Ezra went to spiff himself up. He had chosen a nice restaurant for their dinner out. Xander came strolling out and locked the door behind himself. "The alarm?"
"Armed and I called to note that the dogs were inside and the one door was cracked for them. They're monitoring the movement inside." He took Ezra's arm. "Your car?"
"Yours is getting too well known," he said. He walked him over, helping him in. Then Ezra walked around to get in. He drove them to the restaurant and found press there. "This was not what I had planned." He called Metro PD to come break them up. He and Xander walked inside once they were disbursed. "All that for us?" he asked the receptionist.
"No, sir, we have two stars who are testifying tomorrow in front of the House eating here." She smiled and walked them to the private room.
"Thank you," Ezra said, tipping her. He sat down once Xander did, smiling at him. "It does feel odd not to have to pull out chairs."
"I'm... not the first, right?" he asked quietly. "If so, I should be the one wooing."
"No. You don't have to worry that I'm some twittering virgin sort, Xander." Xander beamed at that. He handed him a menu that had been left. "They have delightful pasta here."
"Just don't make me eat steak. They might elect me to something else." Ezra gave him an odd look so he explained that superstition. Ezra snickered at the story, deciding against the steak. Xander looked over the menu. "Can you explain what some of these are to me?" he asked quietly.
"Of course." He shifted closer to see. "That whole section is steak until you get to the lobster tails. Which are decadent and very sweet this time of year."
"I've never had any. I don't want to tempt fate though." Ezra nodded he understood. He pointed at something. "Pasta?"
"Pasta with chicken. It's supposed to be nice." Xander pointed at another one. "That one has fried chicken strips for some crunch."
Xander looked then nodded. "I'll get that." Ezra smiled, shifting back so he could order for them. The waiter brought salads and they nibbled while they waited on the full meal. It was nice. They talked about things like getting the dogs shaved down. Plus how to change his wardrobe in case the tragic should happen and Xander got elected president. Xander nearly shuddered at the threat of more shopping but Ezra soothed him and it was better.
John got beamed back to the city. "C'mon, Blackhawk." The dog trotted after him, sniffing at everything.
Evan stopped to stare at the dog. "Sir, is that..."
"Blackhawk." He grinned. "He's very stress relieving."
"I'm sure he is," he agreed. He went to warn Ronon. He had sneezed at some of the dog fur from the St. Bernards John had worn home one time.
Teyla cooed at the dog, making his ears stand up as he stared at her. "She's friendly," John said. "You can pet him, Teyla. Let him sniff you first."
She let the dog sniff her hand then petted him. "You are very pretty."
"He's very smart. He's already learned which guards will give in to begging and playing time when I can't." He smiled and helped her up, walking off with her and the dog. The dog went running and barking.
Willow looked at the dog barking at her. "I know I like cats, calm down!" He stared at her. She tested it for magic. "You're not changed."
"He was in the pound. Maybe his last human was a redhead." John said.
"Maybe." She let it sniff her hand then petted the ears. "Good dog." It barked and ran to sniff the other new people.
John smiled. "I'm introducing him around." He walked on with Teyla, talking about her son and other things going on. The dog got to play with all the soldiers and half the scientists. Some of them were cat people. And Radek liked birds. By the time John went back to DC, the dog was tired and so was he. Pretty soon he'd get to come home for good. Then he could hide and relax. He'd take the wraith over the press and the politicians any day!
Xander was dancing and ignoring it was primary night once again. Ezra was helping him forget things beautifully. He smiled and took a kiss, moving closer to dance with him. "Reporter behind you and to the right," he whispered in his ear. He spun them around so Ezra could see. Ezra laughed and danced them off into the shadows so they could disappear. Ezra nodded at one of the guards and then at the reporter.
He knew, thanks to much training by the whole team, to distract the reporter while they got away. Ezra took over driving duties and they rode off to the farm. The dogs were with Chris tonight so the house could be bug bombed. They could go play with the horses. Xander giggled and pulled Ezra in to kiss him better.
They hadn't gotten past the touching stage yet. Ezra was taking it very slowly. Ezra helped him pet the horses, letting them get back to sleep. They went to the tack room. It was quiet back there and they could talk and be uninterrupted. If they had to, they could even sleep back there.
Xander laid down his jacket and they sat against the wall, just next to each other. "There's days I want to buy some Manic Panic hairdye and do a wild dye job on Companion," Xander said quietly. "Just to see her face and Chris' face."
"Your horse would probably bite someone," Ezra said. "Chris may well have a coronary if he saw a technicolor horse in the morning."
Xander grinned. "I could probably get JD to help me."
"No probably about it, he would help and think it was great fun to do some to Buck's mare as well." Xander smirked at him. "Not tonight."
"No, not tonight." He put his head on Ezra's shoulder, making himself comfy. "I listed that apartment I flipped yesterday."
"Anything good come of it?"
"Two showings but no bids." He shrugged. "I'll definitely get more than I paid for it since I only payed about three grand."
"Yes, you definitely should. In that part of town it might be worth a few hundred thousand." Xander nodded, smiling at him. "What are you going to do tomorrow?"
"Hide. A lot."
Ezra laughed. "Are you worried?"
"That they won't let me go so I'll screw up the world? Yup."
"Well, perhaps we won't have to worry."
"If not, there's like four balls that night. Which did you want to go to?"
"Do the official ball and then skip out to one other?" he suggested. "One that's more fun?"
"Definitely could use a last night of fun." He shifted some to put an arm around Ezra's waist. "There's a tea during the afternoon plus the swearing in and the parade leading up to the swearing in."
"We'll see." He stroked over the dark hair, making Xander quit thinking bad thoughts. He took a kiss. "That means you'll have to get a new suit."
"Yup. Probably have to quit wearing jeans for four years too."
"John managed it sometimes. It all depends on the circumstances." He took another kiss. "Perhaps we'll get you something fashion forward this time?"
Xander grinned. "Hip and cool? I've never even visited that country before."
"I'm sure we can make you attractive enough that even the fussy, conservative news people would praise your body." Xander gave him a shy grin and another kiss. "If so, we should plan a vacation weekend before the swearing in."
"We should. Think we can get away with somewhere sunny?"
"Probably. That way we're not fighting snow."
"At least I don't have Buffy's celebration curse. Anytime she celebrates good things, there's an attack."
Ezra smiled. "No, thankfully you were not hit by that problem." He stroked over the dark hair again. Xander stretched and got comfortable beside him. "Tired?"
"No. Not tired." He smiled shyly. "Sore butted but not tired." Ezra stared at him. "I slid on the stairs last night."
"That's the thump I heard, not the dogs."
"No, not the dogs. Unfortunately." He shifted his weight. These pants were a bit too tight to get hard in but that wasn't stopping him.
Chris walked into the barn the next morning, looking around at the sleepy horses. "Why are we so tired?" he asked his mare, petting her nose. She snuffled him and he petted her some more. "Let me feed you guys." He went to gather feed, hay, and the stuff to clean stalls. Starting with his. She was happy to eat and let him clean her stall for her. The others let him as well once they had food. Even Peso was in a good mood this morning for some reason. He didn't get nipped at once. Chris looked at Peso. "Did Rosenburg hex you to be a normal horse today?" Peso's ears flatted back but then he relaxed, shook his coat, and got happy with his breakfast again.
He checked, his and Ezra's horses were both back to sleep. Companion was too. "Maybe she did," he decided. He went to get the combs so he could work on his mare's coat, finding the reason for the sleepy horses in the tack room. He blinked at the two naked bodies before backing out slowly. Xander didn't wake up well and Ezra would shoot him for waking him up. Especially after the night they apparently had for their first time together. He went back up to the house. He could comb his mare's coat later. JD called in. "No, I know he's not home, JD. He's here. With Ezra. No, in the tack room," he said dryly. "Probably avoiding all that mess.
Chris turned on the news and nearly swore. They'd be asked to stay for four more years. Damn it!
To Next Book: