Title: Being Chosen
Series: part 5 of the Destiny's Childe Series.
Archive: sure, if you really want to.
Disclaimer: I know not who owns these people or wherefore they doth reside so I'll just drop a not mine here, sorry I've always been confused over ownership (creators, and directors, and producers, oh my!)
Summary: Starts few hours after part 4: the boys figure some things out and meet with Giles again.
Being Chosen by Voracity
Oz looked around the new hotel room, courteously given to them by the police department for the next few days that it would take for the officers to be charged, then at his friend. "So, you found Hila again?"
"Yeah." Xander shifted, rubbing the back of his head. "Did you have to use the phone? It hurts, muchly." He looked at the floor. "She said that my power was locked in a huge chunk of power, like ice, but what she helped me do today made it like jello so we're going to be fine this time."
"Okay," he said slowly. "What does that mean?"
"That I don't need the tea as much and that I won't get that blinding headache when I do more than warm a cup of cocoa up." He grinned a little. "Are you really freaked or is this just general wondering?"
"Both but mostly freaked. I've never seen anyone do what you did earlier before and your eyes looked really weird." He shrugged. "But I do want you to be careful."
"Oz, if I hadn't done that, we'd be in shallow graves in the desert." He swallowed hard before going on. "I wouldn't have done it usually but I *had* to. Don't yell at me for saving you."
"I'm not, I'm just worried about repercussions."
"That's why I went to see Hila when I found out she was in town."
"Not that sort. Like the two bad guys telling about that little wind storm sort."
"Who's gonna believe them?"
Oz paused, then nodded. "True. Just be a little more discreet. Next time, have something bite them on the ass." He leaned back on the pillows, getting comfortable. "Giles wants us to make a pit stop through there soon."
"Okay." He shrugged, pulling the blankets up over his chest and turning off the light. "When?"
"He was thinking as soon as possible." The older man yawned, settling in for the night. "Night John boy."
They fell asleep quickly, tired from the day, neither noticing the soft growling outside.
Xander looked at the truck stop they were going to meet their mentor and friend at, trying hard not to stare at the massive trucker that was winking at him. "Oz," he said, leaning a little closer. "How much longer do we have to wait for him? I'm getting scared here."
Oz looked at his watch then outside. "A few more minutes, he's pulling up the drive now." He patted the younger man's hand, then pulled back so the waitress could put down their food. He looked at the glass of soda and muffin, then back at her. "Not ours," he said.
"It was a gift." She shrugged. "He's a nice guy, little lonely though." She walked away, smiling at the new customer.
Xander picked up his sandwich, taking a bite. "You can have it."
"Sorry, don't need it." He looked up as someone touched his shoulder before sitting beside them. "Hey," he said, pushing over the check. "It's your turn to treat."
"If I must." Giles looked at their plates, then at the waitress. "I'll have what they're having." She smiled and walked back off, but he waited until they were really alone before saying anything. "Would one of you like to tell me what happened?"
"I saw a shooting," Xander said quietly, "and the guy with the gun was in a uniform." The older man nodded slowly. "Then they found us over lunch so I went and told the good guys about it."
"Then they found us that night," Oz said. "And that's why I had to call."
"Hey, I protected us."
"I'm sure you did," the oldest man said soothingly. "How did you do it though? I have trouble with that spell."
"She turned the chunk of icy power into jello power." He grinned, taking another bite, shifting a little so the waitress could put down the oldest man's plate. "Can you, um, tell him that I'm taken and she gets jealous?" he pleaded, catching sight of the hopeful look.
"Sure sweetie, I'll let him down easy for you." She walked back to the counter, having a quiet word with his want-to-be suitor.
Xander sighed, slumping a little. "I don't know how to handle that situation."
"Politely," Oz said. "And gently." He took a bite. "Explain it to him like you did me. I'm sure he didn't catch it."
"Well, Hila said that my power was in a big, huge hard chunk, like ice, so she helped me melt it a little to the consistency of jello. Now I have more access but I have to start back at the beginning again."
"And his first use was to create this big wind in the room last night and make the phone go staticky." Oz ate a fry, looking out the window. "Hmm, cops again. Did we do something else or is it about that incident again?"
"Don't know," Xander said, "but I'm not here or me."
"Okay." He looked at Giles. "We won't tell him that he's him, right?"
"Of course not." He took a bite of his sandwich. "If I'm hearing you right, you've just gotten more access?" The youngest man nodded. "Anything else?"
"She says I need to wear more natural stuff so she gave me a belt." He shifted up a little, showing them. "Neat, huh?"
"With many strange markings on it," Oz reminded him. The younger teen pouted slightly. "Don't do that at me, it does."
"After lunch I'd like to look at it if I may," Giles said. "We still have many unanswered questions about Hila and her group."
"Oh, all right, if you must," Xander said playfully, going back to his meal. He didn't look up as the officer stopped beside him.
"Mr. Harris?" the officer said.
"Not really, why?" Oz said, looking at him. "But I could pass on a message."
"We just need him to verify some things he told us," he said quietly, pulling over a chair to sit down at the end of the table. "I'm not one of the bad guys, I need to go over your report with you if I could. There's been some discrepancies between your statement and theirs."
Xander put down his sandwich, taking his roll of Tums out of his pocket and taking one. "What?" he asked quietly.
"They're playing a round of I didn't shoot her." He pulled a folded paper out of his jacket pocket, handing it over. "Can you please tell us which one it was from these photos?"
"Sure," he said, wiping off his fingers and pointing at one. "That one. He had the shotgun." He pointed at another. "That one was in the front of the truck, he had a pistol of some sort." He pointed at another. "This one was in the Pinto, driving." He shoved it back. "Anything else?"
"No Sir, but we thank you. This will make sure that the right men get the right punishment." He stood up, putting back the chair and walking out.
Both teens looked at Giles, frowning at him. "I didn't tell them you'd be here," he told them. "I'd think that they tracked your license plate or something." He finished off his food, looking out the window. "I want to take you aside and check some things, Xander, but first, what was that about?"
"The shooting I saw. The officer that cornered us at lunch was there and he made me want to go tell really badly."
"Why did they let you get away? That was awfully stupid," Oz said.
"Hila," the youngest man said simply. "That's how I found her." He frowned. "She did something to them to make them not shoot me too but they told me not to tell."
"And you didn't until they came for you," Oz reminded him. He looked at the older man. "That was not the best of days all around but I think it took the prize for most bad."
"The fight did that. The other stuff wasn't as bad."
"Say it again and become a frog." He looked up, raising an eyebrow, trying to mimic the older man's stern look. "And I mean that. Then *I'll* get to pick the music."
"You can, just so long as it's not Pink Floyd or that one cd that we've listened to hundreds of times. They're both knocking me out."
Giles shook his head. "How can you both be so calm about this?"
"Because being scared now is a waste of energy," Xander said. "Something I got told I did too much of."
"You do, you fidget," Oz told him. He looked at Giles. "He even does it in his sleep. Moving, all night."
"I cuddle when there's something there," he defended. "It's not like you woke up with bruises from the other nights in the van. Which I'm still sorry for by the way."
"I know, I'll just have to make you start wearing socks."
"You two seem to have worked things out between yourselves very well." He looked at their empty plates and the glass of soda and muffin. "Isn't one of you going to eat that?"
"It was a gift and I'm not sure I should," Xander said. "I mean, I'm not taking him up on his offer so if I eat it, it'll look like I'm wanting to do so, so I shouldn't."
"Translation please, Oz?" the oldest man said, rolling his eyes.
"It was a gift from an admirer who he didn't take up so he shouldn't eat it because it'll look like he wants to anyway."
"Ah, that." Giles nodded. "Then bring it with you and eat it later." He stood up, taking the check over to the register and paying, then came back to get his jacket. "Come along, I need to look at him."
"Sure, G-man, whatever you say." Xander got a deep scowl. "Sorry," he said, still grinning. The older man just rolled his eyes and led the way out to the van. "Are we doing this here or somewhere else?"
"There's a nice park just off the next exit, meet me there." He walked over to his car, getting in and pulling away.
Xander hopped up into the driver's seat, waiting impatiently for Oz to hurry up in the bathroom. He slipped in a new cd, gently putting the old one away in the case, and started singing to the first song. It was about two songs later when the older teen came out. "You fall in?" he joked.
"Nope, just had to call someone." He hitched his seat belt, turning to look at the younger man. "Will's fine. Lonely but fine."
"That's cool." He pulled out, heading for the interstate, the way he'd seen the car go. "Giles said to meet him at the park right off the next exit."
"Go the other way then," Oz said, pointing. "It's over there."
"But he went this way."
"He's probably got to do something first. Get some herbs or something."
Xander nodded, heading off in the suggested direction. He pulled into a parking spot a few minutes later, looking around. "Are you sure this is it?"
"This is the only park I know of around here." He looked at the entrance, then nodded. "See, here he comes."
"That's not his car. His is a different shade, lighter." He nodded along with the song. "Hey, Oz? What else did she say?"
"That she wants to talk to us when we get back and that she's confused because she's remembering funny things."
"She's had her memories of *that* time erased by Giles, I told you about that, but some of it's coming through."
"Ah, memory leakage. Seems like there should be a diaper for that." He rubbed the newly pinched spot on his arm. "Ow."
"Sorry, had to be done. You deserved that."
"I know, but there should be a cure somewhere."
"Here he is." Oz hopped out, shutting the door solidly. He walked over to the car when the older man didn't get out. "Not here?" he asked.
"No, I meant the other park but this will work if we can find a secluded spot." He got out, walking over to where Xander was just getting out of the van. "Bring whatever else she gave you with you," he said. "We need to find somewhere more private."
"Okay." He got back into the van, coming out the side door with a small bag held to his chest. He shut the side door, walking around to stand next to them. "Hiking trails?" he asked, pointing.
"Hmm, but a gentle one please."
Oz started to walk towards one. "I know a great place." He didn't check to see if he was being followed, he just hiked up the gently sloping trail, going to a place that few knew about. He turned at the entrance to the cave, waiting on them. "Pass through," he told them. "Nice gentle walk back." He led the way through the cave, having to only turn back once at a small cave in. He sat down in the other end of the cave, watching the water flow past.
"Pretty," Xander said. "Where are we?" He wiped off his brow.
"About a mile away from the van in a straight line. About half that by the path back through the cave."
"Most scenic," Giles commented, sitting down. "But perfect for our needs." He took the small plastic bag, looking down inside it before dumping it out onto the dirt. "More tea?"
"She wants me to go back on it, about one cup a day for a month, until I've gotten back to the everyday practice I was doing when I first got the book, which I need to start doing again." The older man nodded. "The necklace is supposed to be something to help me focus, some sort of thing to stare at while I concentrate. A learning tool."
"Like a focus for meditation?" Oz asked. The younger teen nodded. "Okay. Sounds reasonable. Will uses a candle flame." The older teen looked at the last thing, then tugged at the belt. "Off."
Xander stood up, hunching over in the low cave, taking off his belt and handing it over. "So, what's the worry here?" He sat back down, crossing his legs.
"That it might be another enchanted item," Oz told him. He patted his leg, brushing away a little piece of rock that the younger teen had made fall when he stood. "Hellmouths and magics don't always mix."
"I've got that covered," he told them. "She told me to wear it when I wasn't in town."
"The symbols painted on it appear to be protections, as are the ones carved into the other side." Giles handed the leather back. "Why she put markings to protect a spouse I'm not sure, you're not mated." Both men looked at him. "The belt has markings that are meant to not only protect the wearer but also the spouse, or mate, of the wearer. It's meant to let you get into the least amount of harm possible." He cleared his throat. "I have found something else out about them though, a most unusual something that would explain the markings." He cleared his throat again, looking at the younger man. "Her group, their whole purpose is to find... mates for other users."
"A dating service for witches?" Oz suggested.
"Something like that, but also for other people like myself who use magic or for people like Ethan who also use magic, if for a different reason. It seems that most of her close students are highly sought out as partners." He flushed a little. "I didn't want to have to ask...."
"I'm not," Xander said quickly. "Besides the two or three times I've talked to her, I've not been near her. I'm not that close of a student."
"And while that may be true, most of her students come and go as you have. It allows them to find themselves easier, who they're to become so to speak, which helps her group find them an appropriate person." The flush got a little deeper. "Has she mentioned..."
"No." Xander shifted, moving back some. "She's never said anything like that." He coughed a little. "Does that mean that she's fixing me up with someone?"
"No, I expect it has to be mutual for her to arrange for two people to meet. It's just that she tends to pick up challenging cases of low to mediumly gifted people and train them so that other people with higher powers can be brought to them." He glanced at Oz. "What she has in mind for you, I cannot say. I don't read minds."
"You do well enough with us," Oz pointed out. He looked at his friend. "Maybe you're an exception."
"Or maybe she's got someone all picked out that I'm supposed to get with that I don't want to be with."
"Or maybe you're both overreacting. She can't kidnap you, Xander. You have enough abilities to stop all but a physical attempt." Giles scratched his forehead. "And most of her students have been happily married from what I've heard."
Xander shook his head. "Angel said something about Dru being one of them at one point in time."
"When did he say that?"
"Um, the night I cast the aversion on Oz while he was turned." He blushed, moving a little closer. "He came in to check on us, said you sent him, and found the tea and book. Then he looked at my hand and told me I was playing." His head lowered, letting him look at the floor. "He just got me so *mad*. He kept telling me I was playing and that I was going to be harmful to all of you and..." He looked at Oz as his hand was taken. "Sorry."
"Hey, not your fault. He must have had a reason."
"Dru was one of the group at one point in time," Giles said. "About that, he didn't lie. It's mentioned in her Chronicle. That's how they found her, she was offered to them." He saw the normally healthy tanned skin go pale. "I'm sure she didn't, not to him."
"No, you won't," Oz agreed. "The only way you're leaving is if you really want to go." He looked at Giles. "Can you do some more searching for this?"
"Definitely. Will you both still be traveling?"
"Yeah, we should." The older teen looked at the younger one. "Want to stop through LA again and talk to Angel?"
"It might ease your mind a little."
"Or it might make it worse." Xander looked up, shaking his head. "We'll do that when we go to pick up my car."
"Had forgotten about that." Oz squeezed the hand then let it go. "What now?"
"Now, I want to try to look at Xander's power again then you can go on your way and I'll go mine."
"You need a vacation too," Xander said. He grinned. "Nice, long break from strange stuff."
"And I'll get it, once Buffy has left the town. Until then, I'm afraid I'm stuck for a bit longer."
"Not even a weekend away?" the younger teen continued. "A nice spa, cute masseuse. Maybe a night of horribly theatric passion?" He was grinning now. "Just one little weekend, one short span to not be responsible...." A hand was put over his mouth, making him laugh and smile now. "Come on, have fun," he mumbled around it, then licked it.
Oz was laughing by the time the younger teen was done, all at the look on the older man's face. Giles shook his head. "I'm not sure I can do that, Xander, but I'm sure you'll be happy when I do finally snap and take a break."
"You're supposed to do that so you *don't* snap," the younger teen said. "Like McDonald's used to say, have you had your break today?" Both men groaned at him, making him grin. "Come on, every guy needs his time off from responsibility or else we become old and cranky. We get male PMS then."
Oz swatted at Xander's leg as he fell over, still laughing. "You should take your own trip."
Giles laughed a little, shaking his head. "You are priceless, Xander, don't ever change." He looked up to see the patented innocent look. "Not that you ever could, but I'll take it under advisement. Oz, please draw a circle around us? I need to be getting back."
The older teen got up, doing his duty to help.
It was later that night when Giles' words came back to Xander, running through his mind like the dirty thoughts they were. "Married?" he muttered. "Not me, no sirree bob. I'm not falling for that trap."
"Ssshh," Oz said, rolling over to look at him. "Still running?"
"Like a banner on a porn site." He grimaced, rolling over. "I don't want to fall into that trap, I'm not ready to be settled."
"Then don't. I'm sure that Hila can't force you. We couldn't force you away from chocolate, she can't force you towards something oppositely distasteful." He tossed the little orange ball over, nodding as it was caught. "Play with that, then nap. We have to start early in the morning."
"No we don't. We could stay here for another day, do the fair."
"Need money to do that."
"We *have* money, Oz, but we could use the fun break."
"Okay, fair it is then."
"Good, I want to go on the rides." Xander tossed the ball into the air, watching it spin. "Do you think he was right? That she's going to do that to me?"
"Not if you don't let her. You're strong enough in will to resist." Oz rolled over, pulling the covers back over his head. "Night."
"Night. Sweet dreams of Willows."
"Every night but you're in there too sometimes," was quietly said from the other bed.
"Just so long as I'm being good I don't mind."
Xander tossed the ball again, still watching it spin, letting his mind work without his interference for a while.
Oz looked up as the younger man walked off the Gravity Spinner ride, decidedly green now. "Interesting shade on you. Doesn't go with your shirt though." He led him to a bench, sitting him down. "How many times did you ride that?"
"Um, seven times," Xander moaned, leaning over and holding his stomach. "Right after snacking too."
"At least you didn't litter on the crowd." He looked around, heading over to a drink stand and coming back with a cold soda. "Here, good for bad bellies."
"Thanks, you're a good." The younger man sipped it slowly, sitting back up and looking around. "Now what?" he asked after it was gone and his stomach was calm.
"There's a craft thing or we could go to the small auction in the large building. You pick."
"We only have a little more cash left but lets go look at the auction, dried flowers aren't my thing." Xander stood up, tossing the soda bottle away and grinning. "No more rides for me."
"How much do we have left?" Oz asked, following him to the large shelter.
"Few hundred for almost a few weeks." He opened the door, holding it for the older man. "But, if we go back through that small town from a few days ago we could have day long jobs in that store I almost got lost in."
"You want to work in a porn outlet for a day?" The older man snorted. "You'd spend all the cash we made."
"Not really. And I only bought a magazine."
"A double pack, but it was on sale."
"You're addicted," Oz said with a slight grin.
"Am not." He took a seat, watching as the older man looked through the catalog. "Anything of interest?"
"Yup, but not in here." He held up the front of the catalog, showing off the same symbol as on the front of the younger man's book. "Let's go to that one instead. Might be funner."
"And informative," Xander said, getting back up. "Where?"
"Three blocks from here in a few hours." He looked at the one for the auction they were at, shaking his head. "Not a lot that's not household sized." The younger man looked over his shoulder, pointing at something. "Hmm, think he'd like that?"
"Might be something to check. Can we go look?" Oz shrugged. "Let's go ask then maybe we can call him to find out." They walked over to the attendant, asking to look at the item in quiet tones, being shown where it was.
The book and pendant was familiar to them, and neither really wanted to take the chance that it might really be something.
"Looks like the amulet from the Never-ending Story," Xander said softly. He touched it then shook his head. "I can't tell."
"If it's a movie prop?"
"No, if it's real."
"Can you usually?"
"Not really," the younger man admitted. "Want to chance it?"
Oz looked at the catalog, frowning at the expected price. "It says it's supposed to go for about twenty-five. We can afford that much." Xander nodded and they went back to their seats, picking up a paddle on the way. They watched the standard household stuff go past, all the dishes and the bookcases, and the other furniture. What they wanted was one of the last two things in the book. Oz took control of the paddle, bidding on the one they wanted, at the low price of five dollars, then they waited while the auctioneer did his best to make the crowd match them. It went to them for ten, Xander getting up to pay for it, but the older man waited, wanting to see what the last item was. It wasn't listed in the book, something odd according to what little he knew, and he wanted to know if it was more of the same odd stuff. The small chest was brought out, shown off on top of a small white table.
"This is a pure oak chest, locked without a key. With it are two trunks of books, also locked without keys. These aren't listed, we only got them last night, but we're gonna sell them today," the auctioneer said. He smiled. "Who wants to start?"
"Five," Oz said, not sure why.
"For this sort of handiwork? Boy, that's awfully low."
"Aw, let him have it," some woman in the crowd yelled. "None of us want to fool with that woman's things." The others nodded, making agreeing noises.
"Okay, if no one else wants it. Five it is. Once? Twice? Sold. To the guy who bought the book. Many happy times with them all." He pounded the gavel and stepped back.
Oz got up, walking over to the table. "Pay him another five, Xand. I got us that last lot too. Locked all wood chests, two with books." The younger man nodded, pulling back out his wallet. "We can stop by tonight, drop them off."
"Or we could look at them," Xander reminded him. "I'd like to try to open them." He picked back up the book and amulet, holding them against his chest, following Oz to the front. "We've got a van, where can we pick them up?"
"Out back," the auctioneer told them. "No hurry, I'll be here until five." He walked away, shaking his head, muttering about strange fools.
Oz pulled Xander outside, taking him over to a shadow. "What do locked trunks full of books and a smaller one remind you of?" He raised an eyebrow, waiting.
"Um, oh, that," he said, face falling. "Okay, we'll call Bookguy tonight and ask what to do." He handed over the book. "There's something about this too, I'm sure."
A little old woman with softly shaded purple hair walked up to them. "You bought *her* stuff did you?" They nodded, looking at her. "Well, maybe you two can handle the stuff she did." She walked away. "Just be careful, don't want two young guys like you to be eaten like she was," she threw over her shoulder.
"Giles," they said together, heading for the van. They got their other stuff, pushing aside their things to make room for the trunks, then headed off to the other auction. They noted the four or five cars there, one of them a familiar blue Citreon, before going inside.
Xander spotted Giles quickly, leading the older teen over to sit beside him. "We got stuff you need to look at," he whispered as he sat. The older man looked at them in shock. "Don't look so surprised, someone handed us a flyer and we thought about finding Hila here."
"She's not, I've already asked," Giles said quietly. "What did you get?"
"Three locked trunks with books, two do anyway, made of solid wood. Brass locks," Oz told him. The older man nodded at him to continue. "Oak, pure light oak. Two big, one little, big have books."
"Were really heavy," Xander added. "The little one was soft feeling, like it had been touched all the time."
Giles sighed. "I see, I'll look at them after this. I'm here to get a specific book, a missing Chronicle." The boys nodded. "Just don't buy *anything*. Even if you feel a pull from it, just mention it to me first." They nodded again but he looked hard at Xander. "Just tell me."
"Sure. We're not that loaded still." The younger man slumped a little, pulling the amulet out of his pocket to hand over the bag containing it. "I got this too, not sure why, just liked it." He saw the head shake after the pained groan. "Really? It is?"
"Yes, it is. Did it come with a book perhaps."
"In the van," Oz told him. "I'm going to go sit and watch them, you guys do the magic things." He got up, walking out of the room.
Xander leaned closer. "The thing cost us ten dollars and a little older woman came up to us and told us that the woman that used to own it was eaten. Said she was into 'stuff', whatever that means." Giles nodded. "It looks like a prop from a movie."
The older man smiled. "But that movie was based on an older design. I'll handle it later." He handed it back. "I want to talk to you after this so stay around."
"Hey, you've got to come out to the van anyway. You'll know where I am."
"Ladies and Gentlemen," the auctioneer said. "Let's begin with lot number one-ten, a blue sapphire pendant with a silver chain."
They watched the lots go by, most for a lot of money, in silence. Xander occasionally tapped the older man's arm, noting something was unusual or calling to him. Until one offering.
"This book, lot two-fifty, is a personal book. We'll start the bidding at twenty dollars."
Xander scratched the hand with the scar on it, wanting the itch to go away. "Giles, buy that one," he said. "For me."
"Thirty," the older man said, upping the present bid. He leaned closer to his former student. "Why?"
"It's making my scar itch. The one that *she* gave me. It's the only thing that's done that so far."
"Then it probably means something." He kept track of the bidding, eventually getting it for just over a hundred dollars.
The same feeling came over him twice more, each time Xander letting Giles know and getting it. Until the last item. The older man had what he'd come for but Xander just couldn't make himself get up and go with him to get them. He tipped his head to look at the last item, frowning when he saw something similar to what he'd seen before. The small book pulled at him, making him want to go up and touch it very badly. It got so bad he almost did; he was half way standing when he realized what he looked like so sat back down, smoothing out his clothes as an excuse. He listened to the bids, way out of his price range, then looked over his shoulder at the doorway where Giles was watching him. He made puppy eyes but it was waved off. Finally it was sold to some older man in the corner in an expensive suit so he got up, going over to his mentor. "What was it?" he asked quietly.
"Proof that you'll teach some day I'm afraid." He patted the younger man on the shoulder as he turned him around. "I have a similar copy at home and once you've gotten good enough then I'll give it to you." He led him outside to where Oz and the vehicles were sitting. "You looked most uncomfortable, what was it?"
"The book. I felt like I *had* to go up and touch it, feel it." He shivered in the warm breeze. "It just called so strongly and so nicely."
"Ah, yes, a clear calling," the man who bought the book said. "Rupert. Is this your protégé?"
"Yes, it is," Giles said, shaking his hand. "He's not well gifted and a most difficult case but it's most interesting to watch his abilities focus on what they find interesting." He looked at the book, then at the younger man. "Xander, do you feel anything from it now?"
"I'm sad but nothing else." He moved a little closer. "Can I?"
"Of course you may."
The book was handed to him and a thrill went through him; a feeling so strong he'd only gotten it one other time, during that spell with Oz. He smoothed over the cover, frowning, then handed it back. "Thanks." It was handed back to him but he didn't take it. "Yours, thanks though," he said in confusion.
"Rupert, you should tell him about that part." The older man put the book into Xander's hands, clasping them around it, watching his face light up with the pure joy of passion. "It's his calling, you might want to tell him. I'll never be able to use it since it's found him."
"I had hoped I wouldn't have to," Giles said sourly. He nodded and the other man left, leaving him to pull the younger man over to their vehicles and get him calmed down. "It's the most extraordinary feeling, isn't it?" he said softly. "That rush, that flow of energy through you from it." The younger man shook himself and nodded. "It's meant to call you to your true calling." He took the book, holding it gently. "I'll keep it for you, when you're ready just ask."
Xander nodded, touching the cover. "So why do I feel like this?"
"Because it likes you," Oz said. "And I've not seen that look since *that* night." The younger man nodded strongly. "Felt like it?"
"It would. The book knows it's meant to be Xander's someday so it acted to come to him, not that unusual of an occurrence." He looked at his former student. "We'll talk about this when you get home. For now, let me look at what you got and we'll see if it warrants my attention or not." The two younger men nodded, opening the back of the van to show their treasures off. Oz picked the lock while they watched, tossing the lid back with a flourish. Giles picked up the book one by one, making sure to keep them in their order, then moved on to the next one. He still didn't say anything, just looking at the titles. When they got to the little trunk, the older teen couldn't get it open. Giles looked at it and smiled, pulling out a key he'd been given as a child. "I had wondered when this would come to me," he said softly, unlocking it. He looked at the contents, smiling, then turned to look at the boys. "Sometimes your destiny chooses you, as Xander will find out, and sometimes things work out just right." He shut the lid, carrying the small trunk over to his car and locking it inside with the book he carried.
Xander walked up to the front seat, getting the book that went with the amulet and handing it over, watching as it was locked away too. "What about the rest."
"And now would be a good time for a 'Huh'," Oz added.
Giles leaned against his car, looking at them. "Sometimes your destiny chooses you instead of you choosing a path in life. Xander has found this out somewhat when he ran into Hila. I don't think he could have left her that night without that book."
"She was kinda insistent on getting it to me," the younger teen agreed. "But what about the other stuff?"
"That's something that used to belong to a former Watcher. An Aunt-in-law of mine if I'm not mistaken. I knew she was here somewhere but nothing else." He smiled, a fond sort of look. "She was the one that gave me the key to the small chest and told me it would be mine someday."
"Same as the book would be mine?"
"Yes," he said, coming back to them. "That book is a reference for people who teach magic. I have an abridged version of it at home beside my bed. As a matter of fact, I've had to use it on numerous occasions with Willow. That's where I got the memory spell."
"She needs a memory diaper," Xander told him and when he got a confused look, he explained. "She's having leakage. Or that's what Oz thinks."
"She does. She remembers being arrested and being out there but not why." He looked at the former Watcher, seeing his frown. "Maybe she just needs some spell maintenance."
"Or maybe she's been casting something to help her clear up the memories. No matter, I'll deal with that when I get there. For now, the matter that you found these things indicates that you both need to have a long discussion on your futures when you get back. I won't be able to get you into the Watchers myself but I think that you both show a knack for the job." He smiled, getting that fond look back. "I fought the calling the same way but it kept calling me back, that one Chronicle coming into my possession again and again and each time I felt that same thrill upon contact. As you both have now."
"I didn't," Oz reminded him. "Still not sure what I want to be when I grow up."
"You do have a talent for the research," the older man reminded him, "but I'm afraid Xander's future is set. It's just a matter of how long he fights it."
"Forever. I hate those books." He pouted, just a little. "And I'm not good at it."
"But you will be. Much of that is practice and knowledge of what is contained in them. With enough practice, you should be able to do my job so I can take that vacation you mentioned." He unlocked his door, sitting down in his seat. "Would you mind bringing that back for me? Those trunks won't fit in my car."
"We're not ready to come back yet," Oz reminded him. "We have two more weeks."
"Ah, yes, but the girls are going out tonight and you should be safe for an easy escape." He turned around in the seat, closing the door as he started the little economy car and pulled away.
Xander looked at Oz. "I need to run far, far away when we get back. Just take my book and go."
"It'll track you down." The closed the back of the van, making sure that their cargo was safely stored. "Home then where?"
"I say we go home then we stay at the little campground by the coast. What say you?" Xander got behind the wheel, holding out a hand for the keys. "My turn."
"Not, mine." But he handed over the keys. "That means it's my music pick."
"Fine, just not Dingoes. Devon's voice is harsh and distracting when I'm driving."
"Sure, don't want to hear him anyway." He slipped in a new cd, listening to the opening strains. "Better?"
"Much." Xander backed the van out of the parking spot and headed toward home.
Giles looked at the trunks as they were unloaded in his living room, frowning at the two younger men. "What took you so long?"
"Pit stops," Oz said. "Van guzzles gas." He stood up, rubbing his now sore back. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, the Slayerette moving service needs to know before we go hide for the night." Xander leaned against the back of the couch, watching the two older men.
"No, not that I can think of. Thank you though." He smiled at them, walking into the kitchen. "Would you like a drink before you go?"
"Sure," they said together, then looked at each other. "Soda," they both called.
"That's most unusual," Giles said, walking back out and handing over the chilled cans. "You two don't usually think that way."
"It's been happening more often," Oz said. "When we're together, he gets more quiet and I become more verbose."
"I talk more," the older teen explained to the younger one. "And I'm getting you one of those word-a-day calendars for Christmas." He looked at their mentor. "Anything else?"
"Could I recompense you for your return? I can't pay you much but I'll gladly cover your gas at least."
"Sure," Oz said. "Could use the extra cash." He looked at the younger teen. "Still want to camp in the van tonight?"
Xander nodded. "Means more we can spend on good things like eating and fun." He grinned, finishing his can of soda. "But you also said you wanted to talk to us."
"Yes, well, that would be a good thing but I'm not sure if I know exactly what to say to you yet. I tried several speeches on the way home but none sounded right."
"You're chosen to do this duty," Oz said to the younger teen, "just like Buffy is, but yours is a different thing. You get to teach kids like us how to be like Giles here and survive." Xander got a little paler and leaned against the back of the sofa a little more so he changed it around some "You get to teach the kids how not to release the demons and how not to do many things that we've had to fix." He moved closer, patting his arm. "Don't know why, magic isn't really your thing, but it's your life now."
"And if I take off and never work with it again?"
"You'll be forced to," Giles said. "Same as the Chronicle kept coming for me, your abilities will be needed for you to stay alive. It was awakened for a purpose and I'm afraid it's not something that you can run away from forever, no matter how much you might want to do so." He stepped a little closer also. "You have what many others have wanted. A strong enough gift to help those around you to live better lives."
"This is your special thing," Oz told him softly. "Not that it'll show to everyone but it will set you apart."
"But I just want a normal life. No more demons and nasty things coming for me. No more things that make vampires look nice." He crossed his arms, scowling at them. "So why me again?"
"Because its your duty," Giles said. "Else your abilities wouldn't be so strong." He patted the tense arm. "No one will make you become me or do my job for that matter, but it is yours to deal with."
"Special things take time to develop. You have years left to be more normal," Oz assured him. He rubbed over a tense arm, nodding a little. "I know, it's hard to think about doing something that you don't think of as you but you're gonna have to make a few decisions about this sometime. This is your deal here and only you can decide if you want to do it." He stepped back. "But you have time to decide."
"For now, " Giles said. "For a while yet you have time to do other things. Until it comes for you and you won't be able to ignore it."
"And if I do?"
"Then it won't matter what you have planned, I'm afraid." The older man patted his shoulder, stepping back also. "Come, let me get my wallet from my room and pay you both." He turned, walking away.
"I'm going to run far, far away," Xander told Oz. "Just as soon as it hits."
"It's going to come for you," Oz reminded him. "No matter how far or how long you run." He stepped closer again. "We'll talk later. Let's hit supper then go camp, 'kay?"
"Okay, we can do that. But I get to pick the dinner."
"Sure," Oz told him soothingly. "You can pick the supper spot. We'll talk while we camp." He stepped back as the older man walked back into the room. "We're going to be gone for another couple of weeks. Tell them we miss them but we're being safe and careful."
"And *don't* tell them about the cops," Xander pleaded. He even got down on his knees to beg. "Please?"
"Of course I wouldn't, it'd worry them horribly to find that out." He handed over a few bills. "I'm afraid it's all I can pay you for that."
"S'okay. We'll do okay on this." He pulled Xander up, putting the money into the younger teen's pocket. "We're heading, our margin of safety is probably up." He walked out, going to sit in the van to let them talk.
"Why me again?"
"Because someone more powerful decided you had the right mix of skills to get the job done." He smiled, taking off his glasses. "As do I. You can do this, I have the utmost confidence in you. No matter how much you detest the calling."
"I can't just run?"
"For a bit longer but it'll keep calling you. And the harder and longer you run the worse it'll be until you'll need it to survive." He patted the stubbled face, smiling gently. "No matter how long I ran, how hard I fought to not become a Watcher, it kept getting more difficult to survive without the knowledge in that single Chronicle. I ended up searching it out to save those around me that I loved dearly." He put back on his glasses, moving farther away. "Go have fun and don't worry about it for a while. You have enough talent to get through this next few weeks and you can make this decision then."
"Do I actually have one to make?"
"Yes, but it's not what you think. It's more a decision to take a preemptive action or to let it come for you and force you." He hugged him then let him go, watching as he walked away. "But you know which one you have to choose," he told the closed door.
Xander hopped up into the passenger seat in the van, still frowning. "How can I forget this?"
"Easy," Oz told him. "Just relax and forget." He started the van, pulling down the street, heading for the highway. "Where to? You get to pick dinner."
"Um, cheap and clean. Marty's hamburger place?"
"Tired of cow. Pick somewhere else?"
"Hmm, hard. How about we go back to Frisco and do this whole last week over again?"
"Sounds decent to me. We can get fast food on the way." He turned the van around, heading for the on ramp to the interstate, going back to where the troubles began.
TO BE CONTINUED...