Title: The Truth Revealed
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pairings: Derek/Philip, Willow/Oz, Xander/Oz ship going stronger
Fandom: P:TL/BTVS xover
Status: new; complete
Archive: Sure, if you really want to.
Archive author: Voracity
Archive email address: email@example.com Or above
Other website: (being worked on)
Disclaimers: Not mine (sigh). I gain nothing but pleasure from writing. No copyright infringment intended. Yes, writing is therapy for me.
Summary: Part 7: Xander lets his predator out to play, gets his perfect car, and the Scooby Gang talks about stuff. They meet an old friend of the House's and an old enemy too.
Warnings: M/M (not that this should have to be a warning)
The Truth Revealed by Voracity
Willow and Derek walked into the house, dropping their bags. Oz walked up to her, enfolding her him his arms tightly, not wanting to let her go again anytime soon.
"Get a room," Derek muttered. He looked up as Nick and Philip walked out to greet them. "Get it?"
"Mostly," Nick said. "Just the last thing to be done again." He looked at Philip. "He's not real talkative."
"He's upset," Derek said. "Perfectly understandable." He smiled at his lover. "William wants to know if you like London."
"When hell freezes," Philip muttered. He smiled sweetly. "Tell him no for me." He nodded at the couple just holding each other. "Young love."
‘Usually wasted on the young," Derek said. He looked up toward the living quarters. "I need a nap, walk me up and fill me in Philip?" The younger man nodded. "We'll talk at supper Nick."
"Sure, I'll send someone to make sure you're up." He watched as the first couple disappeared up the stairs. "Ah, lovers," Nick said loudly, breaking up Willow and Oz. "It's not been that long you two." He grinned. "You got a report to do."
"I only have to write a conclusion," Oz said. "I can do it after supper."
Willow ran a hand down the side of his face. "I'll need your help after supper, go finish it now while I go talk to Buffy." She smiled. "Come find us when you're done." He nodded, walking away. "Sorry, couldn't wait for a hug."
"Hey, first separations are traumatic, I know that. Next time pick a better spot then the foyer." He shrugged. "Like a closet or a room."
"Or even the garden," Xander said, walking up to her and giving her a quick kiss on the cheek and a hug. "See any sights?"
"Nope, working the whole time. I saw a few while we traveled back and forth." She looked over him. "You look better."
"Am better. Oz figured out how to cure the nightmares so I'm sleeping again." He pulled her closer. "Did I mention that I'm happy to have you home? He's been miserable."
"Has it been too bad?" She looked up into his eyes. "What's up with the eye thing?"
"No, he's not had the chance to mope with my problems running rampant and it's nothing." He hugged her for a second. "Buff's in the gym." He let her go. "Have a nice talk."
Both brothers watched her walk away. "What eye thing?" Nick asked quietly.
"Little dilated. Not a big."
"Possessed stuff not a big or other not a big?" He turned his head, looking at the younger man. "Xander, we still have to talk about this."
"Yeah, I know and I'm assuming since Derek's home he'll be in on it." He frowned, turning to face his brother. "I'm fine, I just need to go let him play for a while."
"You'll have free time tonight. I seriously doubt you'll want to listen to those two reconnect." He grinned. "You haven't had anything to do recently, you're on top of everything, go have some fun time."
"Thanks, bro." He patted him on the shoulder. "Can I borrow a car?" Nick handed over the sedan's keys. "Same one?"
"As usual. Don't know why you like that thing, it handles rotten."
"Yeah, but it'd look funny for me to be driving something other than a parental looking car at my age." He grinned. "I'm gonna go change. See ya later."
"Yeah, later." He watched the younger man run up the stairs, shaking his head as he disappeared through the door leading to the living quarters. "We'll be talking once you're home again." He turned, walking back to the office. He still had work to do before he could go have fun.
Xander walked back into the house, not expecting to be met at the door by Derek. "Yeah, we'll talk." He handed over the keys. "I even remembered to put gas in it." He frowned when nothing was said. "What?"
"Just seeing how accurate Nick was about the transformation." He pocketed the keys. "How are you paying for all these nights out anyway?"
"It's not like I use my check for anything else." He shrugged. "Come on, what do I buy besides entrance and cd's and the occasional outfit?"
Derek nodded. "Sensible." He waved a hand toward his office. "Shall we?"
"Of course, but after you. I'm not in the attitude to be walked behind yet." He grinned. "It squicks me right now."
Derek wrapped an arm around his shoulder. "I can see how that would be difficult when your animal side comes out. Predators rarely like to be followed." He walked beside him down the hall, leading him into the office.
Xander stepped away when he saw Philip, dressed, and Nick sitting there waiting on them. "Whoa, it's not dangerous."
"I know," Philip said, "bu' humor me. I wanna try an' drive it away again."
"It's not that sort of possession," Xander said, backing up. "We didn't priest it last time, it was undone by the same means." He ran into Derek, then started to look frightened. He was feeling very trapped at the moment.
Nick walked forward slowly. "He's not going to hurt you, just see if any of the spirit remains." He took his brother's hand, pulling him away from Derek's chest. "Just sit down and close your eyes. I'll be right here."
Xander snorted. "I'm sure." He pulled away. "I don't trust you that much yet." He crossed his arms, returning to the in-control predator mode. "Do your worst Father, it's not gonna work."
Philip started to chant, sprinkling holy water on him. Halfway through he stopped, frowning. "He shoul' be reactin' by now. It's no' still in him." He hugged Xander briefly. "We had to know."
"You could have tried asking for permission." He stepped away. "Anything else?" He looked over his shoulder at Derek. "Now or later? Otherwise I'm considering this subject closed."
"We need to know that this won't lead you down the dark path," the Precept reasoned. "This can't be healthy for you."
Xander smiled. "Neither is keeping it in." He pulled aside his shirt. "These'll keep happening until I can ground myself and merge all of me." He let the silk go, recrossing his arms over his chest. "It's not harming me, and sometimes it's actually fun to see the girls come for me." Derek raised an eyebrow at that. "Yeah, them too." He looked around. "Anything else?"
"No," Nick said. "We just wanted to make sure you're safe." He grinned. "Go to bed, if you can sleep through all the noise."
Xander shrugged. "Wouldn't be the first time she howled." He walked out, heading to the kitchen for a snack before bed.
"So, is it harmful?" Nick asked Derek. "‘Cause upsetting him like that might make it harder for him to control."
"No, it's not." He leaned against his desk. "Philip?"
"Residuals. The hyena spirit left par' of itself in him an' it's callin' ta his soul. As long as he's in control, I wouldn' worry too much. Watch for a return of the behaviors, maybe a callin' ta take back over." He sat down in his former chair. "I've never seen anythi' like it. It's mos' amazin'."
Nick nodded. "My feelings on the subject." He grinned. "He and Oz aren't fighting for dominance at least."
"That's because neither is in a higher position." Derek looked at the youngest man. "Nick, watch him to see if it's trying to retake him. The merging he's trying isn't harmful but we have to be careful if it goes the other way and he becomes the predator." He rubbed over his brow, headache from earlier coming back now. "This is becoming a large mess."
"Tell me abou' it," Philip said. "These two fightin' it, Oz an' Willow in true love, and Xander livin' like tha'." He looked up at Derek. "Are ya sure we're on the righ' side? This seems like a punishmen' from God."
Derek smiled. "Oh, I'm sure we're fighting on the right side, my friend, more sure than anything else in life." He stood back up. "I'm just wondering how bad we were in our past lives."
Nick smiled. "Then why bring me here? I was an innocent little fella."
Philip snorted. "As if, as they woul' say." He grinned at his friend. "Confession's goo' for ya."
"Yeah, so I hear." Nick walked out. "I'm going to bed, dawn is really early these days."
Philip waited until they were alone. "He's feelin' old again." He grinned. "Maybe she's goo' for him."
Derek shook his head. "Maybe, but I'm wondering if we should be supporting it." He looked at his lover. "May I have a back rub? My head's killing me."
"O'course. Wha' else am I here for?" He stood up, walking closer to him. "Go ta bed, I'll be up soon." Derek nodded and he headed for the kitchen, finding Xander raiding the refrigerator, just like he thought he would be. "Jus' be careful when ya le' ‘im out. Predators can be nasty things."
"Yeah, they eat Principles." He turned, small smile showing. "Like the others that were changed did. I only helped eat the pig." He held out a box of cookies. "Want one?"
"No, I'm jus' wantin' ya ta be careful abou' how ya do this. None o'us wan' ta cage ya too." He leaned against the counter. "Pleasure aside, ya coul' hur' someone."
"I know, that's why I'm careful about where and around who I let it out." He munched on a cookie, putting the box back and picking up his glass. "I'm not as naive or uncareful as I appear Philip. I'm actually very suave and mature for my age." He headed out of the kitchen, stopping in the doorway to make a last point. "Besides, I'm young. I'm supposed to prowl. When I get to Derek's age, I may have to stop, but I'll be fixed by then."
"I hope so," the Priest muttered. "For your sake." He headed up to his and Derek's room, knowing his lover was waiting impatiently now.
Xander looked up as Oz walked into his room. "Cuddle her into a coma already?"
Oz almost frowned but sat down on the bed beside him instead. "Have fun?" The younger man nodded. "Needed to get out and play?"
"Yeah," he sighed. "Then I came home to an ambush/attempted exorcism." He rolled his eyes. "Philip found out for them what I've known all along, the spirit's gone, it just left a contamination." He shrugged. "Not a big. Had a cookie then came upstairs."
"So, anymore tats?"
Xander pulled off his shirt, looking at the healing spot on his back. "I told him it got infected and the skin started to die. He looked really sorrowful and offered to do another one someplace more accessible." He grinned. "Not sure though. I'm feeling pretty okay right now."
"That's because you were out," Willow said, walking in. "Why didn't you tell us about the hyena staying?"
"Because it wasn't important and it was scary to you guys." He looked at the blonde walking in. "Morning sunshine."
She grunted. "Noisy people. First them and now you." She punched him on the shoulder. "Many tattoos, they were right." She bent closer, looking over them. "Nice work. Local?"
"Very. Met him clubbing."
"So you found a good one?" She stood back up, pushing him over to sit beside him. "Nice tastes. Dark and mournful." She looked at him. "Suits you lately."
He grinned. "Yeah, kinda." He pulled up his feet, letting Willow sit in front of Oz. "Any other questions?"
"How come you have money and we don't?" She pouted. "You're getting a bigger paycheck, right?"
"No, I don't spend mine on much. All this pretty muchly came out of two checks. The clothes too. The rest is breeding in the bank." He looked at her. "If you didn't shop the stores clear, you'd have cash too."
She pouted. "But I needed clothes."
Willow shook her head. "You have enough for the next year or so." She frowned. "No more clothes."
"Shoes and accessories," Buffy pointed out. "Room stuff." She looked back around Xander's room. "Nothing this dramatic but some nice stuff would be nice."
Willow shook her head. "Almost eight hundred dollars each paycheck and you manage to spend it all in about a week." She tipped her head back, looking at Oz. "You don't even spend that much in gas."
He kissed her cheek. "Women are more expensive. I've done the same thing Xander did. Got a nice nest egg."
"Yeah, but weddings are expensive," Xander pointed out. "I'm not saving for any general reason, I just don't need anything else." He pulled on a piece of Buffy's hair. "Neither do you. I'll show you the good stores if you want. I got a whole closet full of stuff for under six hundred."
"Do they have girl stuff?" Willow asked. "I need another formal dress."
"Yeah, guys have it easy in that department. You can *rent* yours."
"There are stores that let you rent dresses," Xander said. "CNN said so on the fashion show." He looked at Willow. "Yeah, the mall where I shop has a party and dress store, or a bridal store, one or the other. Next time we get paid, I'll take you." He looked at his clock. "It's late you guys. Some of us have class in the morning."
"Yeah, eleven." Willow snorted. "We have a nine." She took Oz's hand. "We still need to talk. You've been keeping major secrets from us." She frowned. "Not a good."
"Yeah, but a necessity." He nudged Buffy back awake. "But we could do it in the afternoon if we don't have a new case. I don't have anything to do and neither does Oz."
"Us either," Buffy said. She looked at Oz. "Why were you sneaking in here earlier?"
"He was scenting my throw." He picked it up, showing it to her. "Helps me fight the nightmares."
Willow leaned over, touching it. "Velvet?" She looked around. "Lots of velvet and silk. Why are you dressing like a vamp?"
"‘Cause it feels good." He brushed it down her nose, making her wiggle it. "See? Feels nice to be wrapped up in a fuzzy thing."
"Most animals sleep in groups, Will," Oz said. "I'd say it was part of that. He doesn't have the pack around him so he has to be surrounded by something like them."
"That and it feels great," Xander said. "Bare skin on the fuzzy and all that."
Buffy shuddered. "Shared too much." She stood up. "I'm all for the afternoon stuff." She looked around. "No leather right?"
"Only a vest and a jacket." He pointed at the closet. "I'm not going to start wearing leather pants to take his place as the brooding one." She frowned at him. "Admit it, you were thinking of him when you saw my outfit tonight."
She sighed then nodded. "Yeah, that shirt did it. If I wasn't able to see clearly and had to go by clothes, you woulda looked kinda similar." She pulled his chin up, looking into his eyes. "That's a scary thought to me."
"So's Nick," Oz said, making her wince and let go of Xander. "That's something else we should talk about."
Xander shook his head. "I don't have a prob with it and he's my brother." He looked up at Buffy. "Hurt him and die though."
She took a step back. "Whoa, not an option. I've already heard the tragedy of his relationships from Alex." She smiled. "I'm not even sure if I'm fighting something real or not."
"Very real," Willow said. "I've seen the way you two look at each other across the table." She smiled. "So much like I and Oz do."
He kissed her cheek. "He looks the same at her. They're both fighting really hard."
"Too much fighting going on around here," Xander said. "We should all quit."
Willow shook her head. "No, you fight. We don't want you to eat Derek or Dominic or somebody else."
"Hey, wasn't me. That was them. I only dined on the pig."
Buffy shook her head. "I'd rather forget that week, thank you." She walked out. "Morning."
Xander grinned. "Right idea. Out. I need to strip and roll around on my silk sheets." He stood up, waving them out as he pulled back his blankets to show off the royal blue silk.
"Nice," Oz said. "That night we didn't make it under." He ran an appreciative hand over them. "We should get a pair."
Willow shook her head. "I don't like cold sheets. I prefer cotton, especially the fuzzy cotton ones." She hugged Xander. "Get your own man."
He looked across her shoulder at Oz, who shook his head. "Will," he said, pulling back. "Explain that."
"Oh, please, it's kinda obvious. You're going out clubbing at all guy clubs and everything." She put her hands on her hips. "It's not like I don't know where that place is. I was at that meeting that morning. Buffy told me what that street was like." She frowned at him. "I was just wondering why you felt you couldn't tell us."
"Okay, back up here. Yes, it's an all male club, but that doesn't make me automatically gay, which I'm not. I'm bi, as in both, but not fully one or the other. As for me taking Oz from you, only death or you two can ever separate you two, I wouldn't have a chance." He used his greater height to frown down at her. "Are we done with pick apart Xander now?"
She stepped closer to him but he backed away. "I didn't mean it like that." She grabbed him, pulling him close enough to hug. "I know you wouldn't even try." She smiled up at him. "Okay? Better?"
"Mostly. Explain what you meant then."
"Just that you guys spend a lot of time together, talking and stuff. Not even about the.. the..."
"Shooting, Will. If I can say it so can you."
"Shooting. You too seem to be getting awfully tight." She laid her head on his shoulder. "I was just a little jealous."
"Then the bed thing happened and you jumped to a conclusion." She shook her head. "Oh, please. Don't lie to me. I've known you way to long. You ran crying to someone when you saw instead of waking us up to ask." He frowned. "Hence the jumping to a conclusion that isn't."
She nodded. "Okay, I got it." She tried to step back but he held her tightly. "You can let go now."
"No, we can talk about this now. How could you even think I would or could take Oz from you? You know I wouldn't even try and would banish any thought of anything *near* there if it popped up. I don't poach."
She slid from his relaxed grasp. "I know. It was irrational and not right. I didn't say I was proud of it, just that the thought had occurred." She covered her mouth.
Oz pushed her down onto the bed. "Are you that insecure in us?" She shook her head. "Then how could you dream of the possibility?" He put his hands on his hips, staring down at her. "Why not imagine me and Buffy? Or me and Giles or Derek?"
"‘Cause I know you wouldn't do that," she said quietly. "Xander's changed so much and I was insecure about him." She looked up at him. "I'm sorry to be a doubter but sometimes I watch you guys together and panic when he looks at you." She took Oz's hand in hers. "It makes me crazy and jealous but I know it's wrong so I try to hide it." She stared at her oldest friend. "Can you actually say I don't have cause to worry?"
"He's an attractive man," Xander said, kneeling down in front of her, "but he's yours. I don't poach. Never." He stood up. "Now go to bed. I'm tired."
Oz pulled Willow up, walking her out. He closed the door behind her, walking back over to him. "You shouldn't have asked her."
"I know but it had to be put in the open again. She's been giving me the you don't deserve us look again." He sighed, sitting on his bed. "I didn't want to, but it had to be said."
"You brought out her insecurities because she brought up the gay stuff." He frowned. "Pretty petty."
"Not meant to be and that wasn't the reason. When you leaned down to touch the sheets she got that angry, gonna hurt you for stealing my man look that only women in love can get. I didn't want it to fester between us."
Oz nodded. "I know but you could have been more gentle."
"I was gentle. I didn't say half the things I could have." He looked up at Oz. "I could have been mean about it, showing her again why I'm not taking you from her."
"When did you do that?"
"When we kissed that one time. It was to show her that she wasn't mine, at least on my part."
"Yeah, those too. They took over." He shrugged. "I was eighteen, shoot me."
"Was ready too." He stepped back. "Just don't hurt her like that again. She's still insecure."
"Yeah, but that works both ways, Oz. You're pretty jealous yourself. When Derek mentioned that they were going to London, you gave him an I'd eat you but you'd taste funny look." He grinned. "Not that the thought hasn't crossed my mind." Oz shook his head. "No, not them."
Oz laughed, grinning just a little. "Not me. I'm not like that." He walked out, bumping into Willow at the door. "Eavesdropping?"
She nodded, blushing in shame. "Couldn't help myself." She looked at Xander, who had walked over. "I'll try to do better."
"Start by trusting each other. Neither of you is gonna stray with me." He closed the door, locking it. "Night," he called through it, ridding himself of the tiresome clothing. He rolled around on his sheets for a minute to warm them then picked up his throw, cradling it so he could smell it all night.
Derek caught Xander's arm as he walked by, pulling him into the office. "Sit."
Xander frowned but did as he was ordered. "A continuation?"
"No, a different problem." He handed over Buffy's report of her dream. "What do you think?"
The younger man read it quickly, flipping the pages onto the desk. "Looks like he's coming back out more there but not full time. Fully would be me stalking her." He shrugged, laying the last sheet on the pile. "That and she ought to be in fashion design."
Derek nodded. "That thought had occurred to me." He relaxed. "So, you don't think that's an indication of your animal persona coming back out fully?" Xander shook his head. "Can you explain why?"
"You woulda had to of seen me back then. I was a pack leader, a cold predator that hunted after her and all the easy prey I could find. Went after her mainly because the animal knew I wanted her badly. She stopped it though and it doesn't like her as much now." He shrugged. "That just looks like I hadn't let him out soon enough. I used to take those days off while I was figuring it out, just to spare them."
"That sound reasonable, but if you need to let it out that bad, please come tell us. We don't need you stalking around the house."
"Won't. No easy prey in here." He grinned. "I can't see my big brother becoming prey or letting it happen."
"No, me either," Derek said, smiling. "I'd like to think he'd control you first." He looked over at him. "Maybe a nice collar, make you a pet?"
Xander shook his head. "Nope, much to wild for that." He stood up. "Anything else? I'm due for a snack and a pill."
Derek frowned. "I want to see the incision. You shouldn't still be taking antibiotics. It's been a week." The younger man took off his velvet overshirt, leaving on his black tank top. "That too." He sighed but did it, laying them both over the back of a chair carefully. "Thank you. Now come here please."
Xander knelt beside his chair, back to the Precept. "I feel like I'm about to be punished."
"Only if you let him out fully around the house," he muttered as he looked over the angry surgical sight. "I want you to see somebody, it's looking very infected." He pushed on it some, wincing as some bloody puss came out between the loose stitches. "I'll make you an appointment with my doctor."
Xander stood up. "Not an issue. I only have three more days of antibiotics."
"It's just red. She said to expect that."
Derek stood up, wiping the spot with a tissue he grabbed of the desk. "Is it?" he said, showing it to him.
Xander made a disgusted face. "Okay, you're the boss." He pulled back on his tank top. "When and where?"
"Memorial Hospital." He looked through his rolodex, finding the right number and dialing it. "Hello, this is Derek Rayne. Yes, thank you." He paused. "Marcus, how nice to hear from you again." Pause. "No, unfortunately not. One of my young associates has had surgery recently and I just discovered it's highly infected. Can I send him to you?" He looked at Xander. "Three hours? Sounds fine. Thank you." Pause. "No, he's on our health insurance." He hung up, smiling. "You have an appointment at two."
"And an essay test at one thirty." He waved his book around.
"Don't worry, I'll explain it to them and you can get an excuse." He handed Xander back his overshirt. "Don't put it on, and leave on the next ferry." He reached inside his desk, pulling out an envelope to hand him. "Here's a copy of the insurance plan but they know all about it. Nick and I both use him."
Xander shrugged. "Okay, car keys?"
"We need to get you your own," Derek said, frowning as he handed them over. "Or get you your own set of keys."
"I could do the get my own thing but there's not enough room in the garage for another." He pocketed them, popping his shoulder. "Sorry," he said at the disgusted look. "It relieves the pressure."
"Have him look at that too."
"What if some of the alien's still in there?"
"Make sure you're seeing Marcus and everything will be fine. He worked out here for almost two years." He sat back down. "Grab lunch while you're out. You look hungry." He smiled. "Not that that's so unusual."
"Hey, a guy's gotta eat."
"Your brother's reasoning?" He shook his head, smile still in place. "You'd think one of you would come up with something original."
Xander shook his head, walking out. He smiled as he passed Alex. "Gotta go now. Be back later."
"Okay, have fun." She turned to watch him go. "Don't you have a test?"
He turned to look at her. "Yeah, but Derek's sending me to the doctor's for my shoulder." He shrugged. "He's in dad mode again." He turned back around. "Later."
Xander looked up as another doctor walked in. "Um, hi. I'm only supposed to be seeing Marcus."
The older man nodded. "I'm aware of that, he's on the phone." He looked up as the door was opened. "Mr. Boyle, shouldn't you be in another room?"
"My brother," Xander said, relaxing. He looked down at the doctor then glanced at his shoulder.
Nick caught the hint. "Derek wanted Marcus to look at him." He wrapped a protective arm around Xander's shoulder. "So do I. Not that we don't trust you but we know him better."
The other doctor nodded. "I'm sure but he's in a conference call with his divorce attorney."
"Derek was adamant," Xander said. "And since I don't know either of you, I'd rather wait."
The doctor smiled. "I'm sure but we don't do things like that in this practice."
Marcus, who Xander had had a discussion with when he'd came in, walked in, clearing his throat. "Why aren't you in with your patient, Curt? I know she's been waiting for almost half an hour."
"I was just filling in for you." He stood up, taking off his gloves. "Why are you all being so secretive?"
"Because I'm like that," Xander said. "I'm not real trusting of strangers."
Doctor Curt smiled, nastily. "I'm sure you're not." He walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.
"So," Marcus said, taking the seat the other guy had released. "Besides your shoulder, how are you?" He looked up, pen over the chart. "And I do mean really."
"Derek wanted you to look at my shoulder. Everyone thinks it's gross when I pop it." He looked up at Nick. "Routine or checking up on me?"
"Both. I'm due to see him next." He ruffled the dark hair. "I can leave if you want."
"No, I'll need someone to hold his hand while I remove those stitches." He finished writing then pulled on some gloves. "If I have to restitch it though, you might want to stay."
Nick nodded. "Remember that procedure." He grinned. "Real well."
"Which time," Marcus asked, grimacing at him. "Now then, young man, do we need to check anything else?"
"Rash on my lower back," Xander said quietly. "Found it this morning after swimming." He laid down, rolling onto his side.
Marcus rolled over, untying the thin gown and moving it aside, nodding at Nick's hiss. "Yes, it looks bad." He touched a reddened area. "Here's the rash?"
"Yeah, it was bumpy and itchy earlier."
"Could be an allergy." He leaned closer, looking it over. "Or it could be something else. Did you have chicken pox?"
"Not sure. Had a few long illnesses, like over a week, and one of them was itchy but I'm not sure if it was chicken pox." He grinned. "You'd have to ask Willow. My mother didn't usually realize I was still home."
Nick frowned. "I won't go hurt her," he told himself. Twice.
Xander looked up. "She's better now, she was just more concerned about the house and keeping my father happy than me." He cleared his throat. "Not that she could *cook* but..." He let it dangle off in the air.
"Hmm," Marcus said. "It's chicken pox returned to put it in layman's terms. No swimming for a while." He looked up at Nick. "You've had it, on your hand if I remember right."
"Yeah, not too bad. We'll stop and pick up some calamine lotion."
"Does that mean I'm driving you home?" He looked up at his brother. "‘Cause I've got the sedan."
"Actually, yeah, it does. Derek wanted me to take you car looking." He shrugged. "Seems he wants you to have some more independence."
"I don't know, insurance is pretty expensive for guys my age." He winced. "Ouch."
"Sorry." Marcus nodded at Nick to sit. "I've got to start pulling stitches out now. Shouldn't hurt this way." He squirted some more water, seeing the skin move around some. "Whoa," he said, backing up. "What's that?"
Nick looked over the younger man's body. "Don't know, do it again." Marcus squirted some more of the saline solution over the caked stitches, earning him another grunt and more wiggling skin. "Xander, there's still some there."
"Pull ‘em out like a buger, they'll leave." He yawned. "Damn things."
Nick shook his head. "You're too calm about this."
"I figured some might have stayed. It's not like anyone checked." He looked up at his brother. "Never considered it a real possibility but the thought had crossed my mind."
Nick shook his head, sitting back down. "Marcus, let's just leave it as house stuff, okay?"
The doctor nodded, sitting back down. "Yeah, I can do that. Even if this is strange for you guys." He looked at Nick. "Not even you've had that."
Nick shrugged. "Hey, my brother's special."
"Then he is actually your brother?" Both men nodded. "Very nice." He smiled. "Congratulations on finding each other." He draped the area, not wanting to see the wiggling as he sprayed it again. "Okay, I can handle this."
Nick took Xander's hand. "Just relax. They won't hurt that much."
Xander looked at the practical cars, glancing over at where Nick was looking at the sports cars. "Don't you have one of those?" he called.
Nick looked at him, grinning. "Yeah, so?" He walked over. "A guy can dream, right?"
"With the insurance rates on those, it is a dream." He patted the older man on the shoulder. "What do you think?" He pointed at one of the new Beetles.
"Looks like a Eurocar." He snorted. "Come on, get something fun."
Xander frowned at him. "Unlike you, I'd be paying most of my check each month in insurance."
"Not even close. I have a few wrecks on my record." He grinned. "And some speeding."
"You? No." He shook his head, grinning too. "Okay, so what do you think?"
"I think you should be getting something that suits you." He looked around the large car lot, the biggest in the city. "How about something like a jeep. I've had one of those, they're fun."
"When am I going off road?" He put his hands on his hips. "I need something practical that won't get ripped off in the city at night."
Nick pointed over at a section of the lot he wanted to go to. "Let's go look over there." He pulled the younger man with him. "How about this stuff, Xander?" He smiled, running a hand over the sloping hood. "Very much you."
Xander looked down at the Japanese sports car, seeing it. "Not me." He spotted a used silver two-seater jaguar a few cars away, heading for it. "I like that one."
Nick whistled. "You have expensive tastes." He looked over the vehicle. "Nice though."
"Four years old, so won't be a killer on insurance." He looked at his brother. "Wanna pop the hood and look under it for me?"
Nick grinned, reaching down to get it. "Okay, get the one inside it."
Xander opened the door, sitting down on the seat and popping the hood. He took a deep sniff of the interior. "Very nice. Could be me." He swung his legs inside, almost purring at how it fit him. "I like this one," he said, leaning back.
Nick shut the hood, walking around to look inside. "Yeah, it looks like your room." He grinned then looked at the sticker. "Not bad at all. Good engine. Could use an oil change." He looked around, spotting a salesman. "Hey," he called.
The man hurried over. "Yes, sir, can I help you with anything?" He looked down at Xander caressing the steering wheel. "Or your lover?"
"My *brother*," Nick stressed the point, not even wanting that thought to flourish, "would like to test drive it." He stepped back, letting Xander out.
"Certainly. If I may see his license?" Xander handed it over, taking the keys. "Just don't be gone too long." He stepped away.
Nick got into the passenger's seat, smiling as it molded around him nicely. "Very comfy."
Xander started the car, listening to it purr. He pulled out carefully, taking it down the street.
They were both smiling as they pulled back in. Nick got out first, smiling at the sales man. "Needs new tires, an oil change, and a realignment."
"We could throw that in."
Xander looked at the sticker. "Bit much for a car this old."
"Ah, but we're willing to negotiate." He looked him over. "Student?"
"And a researcher part time at the Luna Foundation." He held out a hand, his predator coming back out now. "Xander Harris."
"Well, Mr. Harris, I'm sure we can come to a reasonable deal." He led them toward the office.
Derek came out to meet the two men as they pulled up out front. His mouth almost fell open when he saw the second car but he quickly hid it behind a smile. "I see your inner predator found something it liked," he said when Xander hopped out.
"Very much, both of us." He stroked over the hood. "It's a good car."
Nick walked over, shaking his head. "The kid dealt him down by two grand, got maintenance for a year, and got the necessary things done today." He grinned. "I'm guessing the animal is helpful." He looked at his brother. "The thing purrs like my ‘Stang does."
Derek nodded. "Well at least he's happy with it." He came down the steps, looking over the car. "Very nice interior. May I?" Xander handed him the keys. "Are you sure?"
"Sure, after all I've driven yours." He shrugged, stepping back.
Derek got in, driving it around the drive, coming back about ten minutes later. "Very nice choice," he said as he handed back the keys. "I may steal it from you on occasion."
"Hey, just ask." He pocketed the keys. "Oz back yet?" Derek nodded, tolerant smile coming out. "Want to show him." He jogged inside.
Derek looked at Nick. "Bit expensive?"
"Not with what he dealt them down to." He handed over the loan paperwork, making the older man smile. "I want him to come with me the next time I have to go get a new one."
"I though' your's was a classic," Philip said, coming up behind them. "Is tha' it?" He whistled. "The boy's go' taste." He nudge Nick's arm. "Better'n yours."
Nick turned his head to look at his friend. "You drive a Geo." He grinned. "Rides like a beauty. He even let Derek take it around the grounds."
Willow shook her head, standing behind the two men. "What is it with you two and your cars?" She looked over the new one, her mouth falling open. "He picked that?" Everyone nodded. "Damn, the boy's going for it." She looked back as her Oz walked out. "He got a pick up car."
Nick shook his head, moving aside so Oz could go look. "It's a lot like him. That's why he liked it, not to pick up people in."
"Would impress me much," Buffy said, walking down to look at it.
"Me too," Alex said. She looked it over. "It fits him though."
Derek nodded. "Oh, that it does." He turned as the engine came to life. "Who's he letting drive it now?"
"Oz," Alex and Nick said together. They looked at each other and laughed.
Nick took back the papers from Derek. "You should let him help you haggle for your next one Al. He did good."
She looked over his shoulder at the price, whistling. "Yeah, I'd say." She looked over her shoulder as the younger man came down, very serious. "What's wrong?"
"William's on the com link. Someone named Victor just headed out toward us." He moved aside as Derek, Nick, and Alex walked back in, hurrying. He turned to Philip. "William asked me to make you go too if you were here." The Priest nodded, heading back inside while he sat down on the steps, waiting for his new car to come back.
Derek looked around the full table. "He's headed for New York, but he has a ticket to transfer to here. Now, I don't need to tell you older members how dangerous this man is." He looked at the four younger members. "You on the other hand, if you run into him, I want to know immediately."
Nick tapped the table some. "Victor, the last time we saw him, was trying to clone a demon." He grimaced. "It cost a nun, and three other people that we know of, their lives." He looked around the younger group. "This man is venomous in his desires to rid the earth of us." Buffy raised a hand. "What?"
"Do we have pictures? I wouldn't know the man if he came up to me and offered to wash my back or something."
Derek handed out the information packets. "I'm afraid that I can't allow trips into town alone. Your classes are mostly together, so I won't worry about that. Your shopping trips and," he looked at Xander, "other things you'll have to do at least in pairs."
Willow frowned. "So, Oz and Xander need to go out if he needs to go out?" Derek nodded. "Okay, but what about his fuzzy times? We're pretty vulnerable then."
"Actually, I've seen him." He held up the most recent photo of their enemy. "He was in the doctor's office." He looked at Nick. "He was walking out as I was headed back to the exam rooms."
"Why were you there?" Buffy asked him, leaning forward to see him around Willow and Oz. "Shoulder?"
He nodded. "They had to pull and restitch it." He frowned. "Oh, and the creature, or whatever, doesn't like saline."
Nick nodded. "Found that out. It scared Marcus." He looked up at Derek. "And his partner suspects something. He kept trying to get Xander to let him do the exam."
Derek tossed down the information. "Okay, so how do we deal with this? Did Curt see anything?" Both men shook their head. "Then Marcus knows what?"
"Nothing," Nick said. "I told him it was house stuff and he understood." He spread his arms. "Not my deal here. He said it was strange, even for us, and draped it so he wouldn't have to see the skin move when it tried to get away."
"And I have that years later version of Chicken Pox," Xander reminded him. "On my lower back."
Derek frowned at him. "You're just full of problems today, aren't you." He stood up, starting to pace. "Very well then. William's information was old, he's here in town. Xander, you are not to leave the house again until we can figure out how to rid you of this infection or the puss dries up, which ever comes last." He looked at the teens. "He's not contagious, Nick and I have both had that, but you need to not get any of the puss on you." He frowned down the table. "Anything else?"
Nick nodded. "Damage control." He looked up at his Precept. "Relax. We've got this covered. We can fix it, even if we do have to go with Rachel's earlier plan to make him sick enough to drive it out." He tapped the table. "You're too high strung right now. He's not coming for us yet."
"What if he was there to get our medical records?" He looked down at Nick, stopping his pacing. "I'm sure there are injuries in yours that don't bear repeating." Nick nodded. "We're vulnerable there."
"We can fix that," Oz said. "Switch to somebody else or steal them back."
Willow shook her head. "Nick's been in the hospital, as has Philip and Derek. It's spread to far to quarantine."
Xander raised a hand. "Why would he want our medical records? There's nothing in there that should be too personal." Nick gave him a dirty look. "It's not like therapy records. Some injuries can happen a few ways." He looked up at Derek. "Some not, but even those, people probably already know something. There's nothing there he could exploit."
Derek shook his head. "No, not true. In my case there are a few." He looked out the window. "It's not something to discuss but some injuries can only be caused one way."
"I shoul' go back ta the church," Philip said.
"Splitting the forces isn't the greatest of plans, Philip," Buffy said. "You'd be more vulnerable." She shrugged at his frown. "You would."
Derek nodded. "I'm afraid I agree, Philip, you'd be too vulnerable." He looked down the table. "We need to contain the risk as much as possible."
Xander frowned. "This may be a wacky thought but we're already afraid of this, working ourselves up over my seeing him. What if that's what he wants. We're not going to be a presence in the city if we hide here, letting him do whatever his evil little heart can dream of." He looked at Derek. "Hiding isn't the answer here."
The Precept nodded. "That may be, but we can't risk it. You're to go out in groups. If it's a class, then stay on campus in well populated areas as much as possible."
"Patrol?" Buffy asked. "I don't usually go out with others right now."
Derek shook his head. "I don't know." He looked around the table. "I'm not sure what his motive is."
"Then let's find out," Willow said. "William sent us stuff on his accounts and stuff. "Let me run an inquiry into them." She smiled. "It's something that I do rather well."
"He'd know," Nick said. "He has triggers for us."
She smiled, just a little wickedly. "Who said it would come from here?" She stood up. "Let us do what we do best Derek, just relax and plan for contingencies." He nodded, silently giving her permission. "Xander, I need a ride into town, and Derek, I need paid."
He grinned, her surety infectious at the moment. "Is that all?"
"Yeah, my new laptop's on layaway." She rubbed her hands together. "I can't wait."
"Just be careful not to get caught," Giles said. "We don't want to come visit you in jail." She nodded, still smiling so he turned to look at Derek. "She may, as Xander may, be right. What harm can he do with our medical records?"
Derek shrugged. "I don't know, and that's the scary part."
TO BE CONTINUED.