Destiny Found by Voracity
Xander looked at Giles as he put up the candles from their practice session. "Are you disappointed that I don't want to be like Willow?"
"No, why would I be?" The older man turned to look at him. "You're not like Willow, or myself even, and I can't expect you to be something that you're not." He smiled gently as he led him to the couch. "I realize your first instinct is to go at a problem physically then think about it and then, possibly, use your abilities. I don't want to change that, Xander. As far as I'm concerned, the rest of the group can forget your abilities, such as they are, until you're needed to save us." His smile got gentler. "Ease your mind a bit?"
"Yeah. I didn't want to turn into constantly-using-it guy, so yeah." The young man grinned. "So, no midnight calls to come help you cast? No long sessions of threesome casting?"
"No, none of that. Unless you want it, that is?"
"No! I mean, I don't mind the just-us stuff but I don't think Will and I can work together unless we have to." He looked down. "I just feel funny when she sees me in my book, working."
The older man chuckled lightly. "I'm sure she feels the same. It takes me a second when I see you studying, a sight that, quite frankly, amazes me since it's not what I'm used to seeing you do." He patted the younger man's hand. "Now, help me clean up. Willow will be here soon."
"Is she *really* freaked by me, us, or just a little," Xander hesitantly asked as he got up to straighten out the books they had been using.
"I believe she's repressing anything that might lead her back to that disastrous spell." He smiled faintly, still not very pleased at her for it, but trying to hide it from his student.
"Me too." Xander grinned, handing over his book, the special one he'd gotten from Hila, or as Oz called it, his starter set. "I've got to go home and get ready for work."
"Yes, how is your newest job?"
"I'm starting to wonder if there's a spell to help me find a decent one." He sat down in a chair with a sigh. "Why do I get stuck with the crappiest ones?"
"You could always start at the University next term," he was reminded. "You should be able to get financial aid fairly easily if Buffy could."
"But I'm not sure if that's who I want to be." The younger man looked up not the concerned eyes. "I don't know what I want to be."
"Perhaps you should try to find jobs that will help narrow that down." Giles sat facing him, oozing concern and care toward the younger man. "Many freshmen change majors after taking a class that interests them. Maybe a few semesters to take random subjects would benefit you."
"Do the whole undecided thing?" He looked thoughtful. "But then I'd be up there and you'd be down here. I'd miss our daily lessons on how to stretch my brain." Xander grinned. "And I know you'd miss me."
"Oh, I freely admit that I would," Giles told him, "but you have to do what's best for you."
"I am. I'm making my brain stretch." He stood up, listening to the person in clompy shoes walking toward the door. "Oops, better go. Girls are here." He jogged out the door, waving at Buffy as Willow as he passed.
"Why's he rushing away?" Buffy asked as she closed the door behind them. "Did you threaten to have him eaten again?"
Giles shook his head. "He was going to be late to work." He waved them toward the table. "Shall we?"
Xander looked up at the newly re-opened bookstore that Hila used to run. He smiled as he walked in, spotting the woman that had freed his gift, heading for her.
"Excuse me, sir, but that's a restricted area. No customers," the cashier said.
"I think she's expecting me," he said, quietly as he walked around her. He walked up behind the older woman, putting his hands on her shoulders. "So, who was he before he was burned?"
She turned to smile at him. "I don't know," she said in that sultry voice of hers. "He wasn't supposed to be there." She waved him at a chair across the table. "I've heard that librarian friend of yours took you under his wing." He gave her a confused look. "The community of those of us who use magic is small and word travels fast when one of us gets entangled with a new student."
"Oh." He looked around then back at her. "Why come back?"
"Because I'm needed here," she said simply. "Why do you still study?"
"Because a special book made its way into my hands and let me know I had to." He stood up. "Please don't do that again. I don't need to be fixed up."
"Ah, a true teaching bond then," she said with a small smile. "I know you will both be happy." She got up, kissing his cheek. "That was my only intention, Xander, to see you happy."
"Well, um, I guess that's okay." He shifted his weight nervously for a few seconds then shrugged. "Night."
"Good night, young one. Be careful." She watched his back with a small, pleased smile.
Giles frowned at his watch then at the young man walking through his door. "You're late."
"Sorry, had to think." Xander sat down on the couch with a sigh instead of heading to where the older man had set up things for him.
"What's wrong," the older man said as he sat down next to his student.
"I popped in on Hila last night." He turned his big eyes on his friend, letting him see the confusion he held inside. "She said she didn't know who the barbecued guy was but she did know you were teaching me." He leaned closer to the strong shoulder that he let his problems rest on. "What's a teaching bond?" He got a groan for an answer. "Was that a 'bloody hell' or an 'oh, dear god,' noise?"
"A bit of both actually but nothing you should worry about." Giles patted a firm arm. "I'd not let you be hurt."
"So then it's a sex thing, right?" The deep brown eyes focused on the older man again, staring to pry the secret out of him.
"That is not something you need to worry about, Xander. I'd never make you do something that would trouble you so greatly." Giles stood up, looking down at the still form. "Why don't we call the day over so you can go think?" He started to turn but a hand clamped around his wrist. "It's not something that will happen between us. It's something that happens between very powerful students and their teachers to give them more control," he said quietly. "You have no need to fear entanglements from me."
"Then why won't you tell me?" Xander stood up, turning the older man to face him. "She said we had one."
"What was the question before that," he asked tiredly.
"I *asked* her not to fix me up again." He got a confused look. "That's when she said we had the teaching bond thingy." The younger man sat them both down. "Now, explain this to me in words of five syllables or less please. I have the right to know."
"Yes." Giles looked at him. "Yes, you do but I need some time to think about this. Would you grant me that?"
Xander nodded, confusion playing on his face. "Sure, you know that."
"Thank you, but I'll also have to cast something and I need your permission."
"Is it going to hurt?"
"No," Giles said with a hint of a smile, "you shouldn't feel more than a prickly feeling down your back and arms."
"Hey, that I can deal with." Xander grinned again. "What do I do?"
"You just lie down and ignore it." The older man patted the side of the younger's face. "There's nothing to worry about. Just give me two days before you ask again."
"Does that mean I can't come over tomorrow to watch you desperately pack?" Xander asked quietly. His head got pulled back around to look at his friend and mentor.
"I'm not leaving and no, I would appreciate your help tomorrow to do many things since we all planned to have dinner the next night."
"Okay," Xander said, nodding, his mood lightening. "I gotta work the opening shift tomorrow though, so I can't be here too early."
"That would be fine, just knock instead of using your key as I'm due to have a visitor coming."
"Sure, don't want to scare the non-natives off." He stood up. "We playing today? 'Cause if we are, I want to go back to those rocks."
Giles stood up. "An excellent idea. Go get some of that sketch paper we bought and the box of pastels. I'll start teaching you glyphs." He watched his student get what he wanted, noting that he was almost vibrating, like a young puppy out exploring. "Grab the hairspray also so we can make permanent impressions."
"Your car or mine?" Xander asked as he handed over the bag of stuff.
"It's a nice day so we could walk. It's not that far."
"Ah, but there were big, dark, heavy clouds when I came in and a twenty percent chance of rain."
"That ruins blows my idea then."
"Not really. Bring an umbrella." The younger man almost radiated energy. "Come on, we'll take my car since it's so comfy." He opened the door, watching Oz walk down the outer stairs. "Want to go help us?" he said as he jogged out
"Sure, doing what?"
"There are some really ancient rocks so we're going to do rubbings of the things carved on them."
Oz nodded. "Okay. Let's take the van. Less good interior to ruin." He looked at Giles as he locked the door. "Okay for me to tag?"
"Of course, Oz, you know you're always welcome." He looked up, seeing the clouds as advertised. "Yes, I do believe your van would be the most practical. In case we get drenched and all."
Xander danced around in the warm rain, just being happy. He knew both older men were looking at him, Oz shaking his head and Giles with some sort of pleasure transference so he could take joy from his actions. He felt pulled toward the stones so moved closer, looking at the markings. One kept drawing his attention so he walked over to it slowly, feeling like doing anything different would be very wrong. He traced over the pattern, doing it a few ways until he felt like he had it right. He did it again, closing his eyes to savor the feel of the drag of stone against his skin.
He felt the bright flash more than saw it but didn't even notice when he fell over.
Oz was confused. He'd seen people dance like that before but he wasn't sure where. It felt so...natural to him, seeing those moves here. He watched his friend walk over to the rocks, wondering at the reverence he showed for them. He watched the well shaped fingers trace a pattern, again and again, then he watched him fall. He jumped up, Giles beside him, and jogged over to the still body.
Giles looked from the boy to where his hand laid on the rock. "Make him comfortable," he said, not touching the connection.
"Have a clue about this?"
"No, I'm afraid I don't have a single one." Giles picked Xander's head up, resting it on his lap.
Xander looked around at the pastel-colored mist, blinking as the colors merged and changed to create images. He could *feel* someone watching him through the mists, that tingly feeling strong all over his body. "Yeah, okay, this is cute and all, but are you going to say something or not?" he yelled after what seemed like a *really* long time. He heard a quiet but very familiar chuckle, turning toward the sound to watch whomever come for him.
Giles, or someone who looked remarkably like him, came through the mist, it parted for him of its own free will. "No, young one, I'm not him. What you see represents a strong force in your life. I could easily have become your other teacher," the not-Giles said as he shifted to become a not-Oz then back. "I just thought you would listen better to this form." He chuckled again, looking Xander over. "It's been a long time, young one, since we've seen one of you."
"Me? I've never..." he paused, turning around, "been here before. This is *way* strange." He faced the man, he hoped, before him. "So, why am I here again?"
"Because you need to learn the ways." The not-Giles waved his hand around and the mists parted to show very familiar symbols hanging in the air.
"Um, okay, those are on the rocks but not even Giles, the real one, knows what they mean."
"I thought that might be the case." Not-Giles reached out and touched the young man's forehead, creating a warm spot.
Unfortunately, before Xander understood anything, the mists returned, then darkened.
"I'm gonna pull a Willow here and just try the lever," Oz told the older man, reaching out to touch the younger man's outstretched arm.
Giles stopped him before it could connect. "That might be harmful to him. No one knows what these rocks are here for." He looked down at his student. "What do you feel through the bond you share?"
Oz closed his eyes, obviously concentrating by the way his face scrunched up. "Curiosity. Not happy but no pain, either." He rubbed a spot on his forehead, his arm bumping his friend hard enough to make his hand fall away from the stone. "Oops."
Xander groaned, coming around not five minutes after he'd been zapped. "I thought Willow had bad timing," he said quietly, looking at the older teen. "He was about to tell me what the symbols meant."
"Who was?" Giles asked.
"Xander, I assure you, I was here the whole time." Giles helped the young man sit up. "Now, start again. From the beginning if you would."
"I was in this Disney-colored, misty place. Then this...you walks through it to talk to me. He said he hadn't seen me in a long time..." His mouth opened to say more but Oz's hand on the side of his face stopped him.
"Slow down," the older teen said before looking at Giles. "That's not all, I can tell its not all come back yet."
"Let's get him back to my flat," Giles said as he stood. "Gather our things, Oz, we'll meet you at the van."
"If we need to, yes, I can." Giles helped Xander to his feet, heading him down the path. "Tell me about the mists," he said, wanting to keep him talking.
"They were pretty. All swirly and multi-colored and ...misty." Xander shook his head then looked confused. "I want to look at the carvings. He...you wanted me to know what they said." The young man tried to turn around but the strong hands of his mentor and teacher, and those of Oz as he got closer, kept him from turning around. "No, I want to go see the drawings." He looked into Oz's deep eyes. "It's important."
"I know," the older teen said softly, soothingly. "We can come back soon, after your head is clear." He handed the bag of stuff to Giles, pulling the younger man closer, holding him tightly against his chest. "I know it's important, but you can come back when it's clearer."
"I need to see them *now* before I forget," Xander argued softly.
"You won't forget," Giles told him gently, hugging the younger teen from the rear. "I promise. Things like this come back when you need them." He shared a look with Oz. "Let's get him to the van."
Xander broke free, running back toward the rocks, just reaching them and falling to his knees in front of some of the carvings as Oz caught up to him. He ran his fingers over some of the shallowest carvings. "These are older," he murmured before leaning closer to rub his cheek over them. "It's about love and bonds." His fingers moved to a set of clearly carved symbols while his cheek continued to rub over the others. "These are for teachers to teach the others." He looked at his friend. "You're one of those teachers, man. The Giles in my vision turned into you too." He sat back, touching the deepest carvings. "These are about bad things, how to stop them or become them." He looked up at Giles as he walked up to them. "My head's stuffy, it feels full."
"Too much info," Oz told him, helping the younger man to stand again. "I want you to go lay down, Xand. Napping will make all the stuffiness go away." He nodded at Giles to get his other side. "You can tell us *all* about it later."
"Okay," Xander said happily, nodding.
They got back to the van, finding Willow sitting in the open side door. She gave them a dirty look as she helped her best friend into the back to lay down. "What happened," she asked Giles, glaring at him.
"He was given a vision. He's fine, just a little shook up." Giles closed the van's door after she had backed out of it, getting in quickly.
Oz drove them away from his girlfriend just as quickly. "That was close," he remarked after they were safely away. "Gonna stop her from interfering?"
"Most definitely. I've already put a better guard on him to stop her from casting anything on him. I'll add another block later." He rubbed his forehead as he looked over his shoulder at the man in the back. "Xander will be fine, visions like this rarely hurt the receiver."
"Giles, you hurt him and I'll rip you apart," Oz warned as he parked, turning to look at the older man. "I know he's confused about you, so do you, but if he's hurt I will get loose some night and eat you."
Giles nodded solemnly. "I would never do that, Oz, you know that. I promised you to take care of him and I will."
"Ahhh," came from the back. "My over-protectors."
"Let's get you inside," Oz said, getting out with one last meaningful look at the older man.
Giles looked up as Willow and Buffy walked in, smiling. "Good evening." They frowned, in unison. "He's in my bed, Oz is sitting next to him." They ran up the stairs, Willow first.
Buffy came back down, taking her seat at the table. "I thought strange stuff was my job," she said quietly.
"It is," he assured her, "but everyone's allowed to have strange things in their life. It's what sets the normal things apart." He closed the notebook he was writing in. "He wasn't the first on record to get this sort of instruction." She looked confused. "Xander got a vision telling him about some symbols." She nodded slowly. "It should start to manifest as images when he looks at them."
"In other words," Oz said as he walked down the stairs, alone, "his imagination will create images that connect with the symbols when he doesn't try to study them." He sat down in his seat. "He's fine, napping soundly."
Giles smiled as he tossed the notebook to the younger man. "That's what I gathered so far. Feel free to add whatever you think he'll need."
"Don't push it. He's gonna do better with free association and less study." Oz flipped through the notebook, nodding, then tossed it back. "Looks good, let him do the rest."
Buffy looked back and forth between the men. "Okay," she said slowly. "I think you two have got it. Need me for much?" Giles shook his head. "Okay, let me go grab Will and head for normalcy." She jogged up the stairs.
Giles scowled at the outer wall of his bedroom. "I'll beat her for that," he said, closing his eyes to block her spell with the shield he had put on the younger man.
"Willow!" Oz yelled. "Don't! I'm not cleaning up *this* mess!" There came a choking noise from the bedroom.
Giles chuckled. "Well, *that* broke her concentration." He looked up, smiling. "She stopped."
"Good. I'll take them home." Oz got up, heading up the stairs.
Giles waited until he was alone in the house with the younger man to go up and check on him. He stood in the doorway, watching him writhe in his sleep, before walking over. Xander quit moving as he sat on the bed, the firm body scooting over to curl up on him, pushing him back to reclining.
"Xander," Giles whispered. The big, liquid chocolate-looking eyes opened to stare up at him in confusion. "Would you like some supper now?"
The young man shook his head, laying it on the warm stomach, reclosing his eyes. "Later," he said softly. "Where's the gang?"
"Oz took the girls home." Giles ran his hand over the back of the younger man's head, smiling slightly as he felt the springiness of the hair. "Do you want to talk about what you saw?" A small head shake happened around his navel. "When you're ready then." The older man started to move the teen but he found himself clutched tightly as Xander crawled on top on him. "Don't want me to move?"
"Please. I'm having nightmares."
"About?" He got a small shrug. "They won't have as much power if you tell me."
"People keep taking me, making me tell them what the symbols mean then they break the rocks."
"Ah, I see." Giles rubbed over the dark hair again. "You know we'd never let anyone take you?" He got a small nod. "Then why does it worry you?"
"Because no one realized I was gone." Xander closed his eyes again, his lashes brushing against the cotton of the shirt the older man wore.
Giles was stunned. He never knew that the younger man felt that way, almost invisible. "Xander, I do care what you do and how you are," he started carefully. "Both Oz and I would notice if you disappeared. At least I hope we would." He continued to soothe him with a gentle stroking through the dark hair, looking at the door as Oz walked in. "He was having nightmares.'
"I was snatched and forced to tell someone about the rocks," drifted outward from Giles' stomach.
"Huh," Oz said, crawling onto the bed to rest next to his friend. "I'd notice," he said into the back of Xander's neck, moving to curl around him. "I'd come for you."
"But no one noticed," Xander said softly. "And they broke up the rocks to take the symbols." He snuggled into the warm bodies, not wanting to ask to be comforted. He sighed as the warm hand came back to play in his hair and a heavy, familiar arm went around his stomach. "Thanks."
"Hey, anytime," Oz told him, pausing as both of the men stiffened. "Willow," he guessed dryly.
"Yes," Xander and Giles said together.
"Can you do a 'return to sender' thing, Giles?" Xander asked, flipping over without losing the warm arm on him.
The older man nodded, sliding out from under the teens to head downstairs. "Stay up here," he told them as he left the bedroom.
Xander looked at his hugger. "Hi."
"Hey." Oz buried his head in the younger teen's neck. "You gonna be okay?"
Xander sighed, relaxing. "Yeah. He blocked her." He closed his eyes. "Wanna beat the nightmare monsters for me?"
"Anytime, you know that."
The younger teen held his friend closer, quickly falling back to sleep, without nightmares this time.
By the time Giles got back upstairs, both teens were resting the wrong way in the bed, Xander holding onto the footboard as Oz rubbed his head across the presently uncovered stomach. He laughed softly as Xander flipped them over with a kiss to the presently violet hair, moving to lie in the middle of his chest. "I'm not sleeping on the floor," he told them quietly as he tossed the pillows to where they were and lay down.
Xander gave a happy sigh with a smile as he attacked the undershirt-covered chest. "Kitty," he said, giving a bare shoulder a lick.
Oz snorted then looked around. He held in his chuckle at seeing his friend and occasional lover trying to nurse on the older man, rolling over to cuddle them both. "Did that the whole trip," he whispered, closing his eyes again. "Night."
Giles tried, unsuccessfully, to defeat the suckling mouth. "Good night, Oz. How did you stop this?" The last word came out as a squeak, the younger teen's hand having come up to pet his stomach.
"Fighting the tide," the older teen murmured, almost asleep. "With a teaspoon."
The former Watcher decided to take the direct approach, pulling the young man up to kiss his cheek. "Sleep, I'm sure you need it," he whispered into an ear. The firm body wiggled over his, settling down on top of him after a moment. Giles smiled as soft snores started from his shoulder, lulling him to sleep.
Xander woke up feeling the safest he had in his entire life. He could feel the familiar, smaller, body behind his, moving his hair with each breath. He could also feel another body in front of him and this body was holding him tightly against his chest. He opened his eyes, looking at the expanse of hard chest he was laying again.
Of course, he knew who the chest belonged to. He didn't know that many men and none of the others would be clutching him like he was going to be stolen. That thought brought back his nightmares from the night before, but the strong arms made them run and hide in some dark corner of his mind.
But why? Not even Oz's arms had ever made him feel this safe. Special yes; excited, definitely, but not absolutely safe. No one's arms had until now.
Xander looked up as Giles opened his eyes, grinning. "You're a great teddy bear," he said quietly. That got him a sleepy smile and a squeeze, which he didn't think was possible considering how tightly he was being held. "Thanks. For all of yesterday."
Giles got a confused look. "All I did was watch over you."
"Shh," Oz said, pressing closer to Xander's back. "Too early to get up."
Giles and Xander both smiled, wiggling out from under the older teen's arm and heading downstairs, but the younger man stopped his host before he could disappear into the bathroom. "What you did was special and I woke up feeling... well, safe." Xander smiled, just a hint of one. "That doesn't happen usually."
Giles patted the side of his student's face, smiling at him. "I'm glad." He looked down at himself. "Do you want breakfast?"
"No, you go shower," Xander said, hiding his hurt well. He waited until the bathroom door closed before grabbing his jacket from the back of the couch and heading home. He didn't know what he had expected to happen, but that wasn't it.
Giles looked at his chest in the mirror, touching the bright red spots tenderly as he got a flash of insight. Until that moment, he hadn't known he wanted to see such things on himself; now, he realized, he wanted them more than tea for breakfast. He started his water, starting as the bathroom door opened.
Oz walked in, nudging Giles' shoulder hard. "Had to hurt him, right?" he asked sleepily. When he got a slow head shake he went on. "He's gone, home from what he was thinking, and he's hurt." He crossed his arms, glaring. "Everything he thought this morning said he liked it."
Giles grabbed Oz's shoulders, shaking him lightly to wake him up so he could make sense. "What did he tell you?"
"Me? Nothing. I was doing the random voyeur thing because his thoughts woke me. He'd never woken up like that before." The teen shrugged.
"Yes, safe, he told me."
Oz slapped the older man, hard. "I warned you not to hurt him," he explained as he walked out of the bathroom, leaving Giles rubbing the side of his face. As he started the van, he checked on their bond, wanting to know where he was needed most. When he felt the slam of the wall they'd built on the trip, he shrugged. He'd have a talk with Willow first.
Giles knocked on Xander's door for the third time then used his key to walk in. He headed for the young man's new room in the basement, again knocking before walking down the stairs. His breath caught as he saw the still form on the bed, hurrying over to check and make sure he was still alive. When he saw the calm, steady breaths he relaxed slightly. He could examine those thoughts and feelings later.
He opened his mouth to wake his student but a letter on the bed with his name on it caught his attention. He picked it up, taking it over to the stairs to read it without waking the young man.
Giles folded up the simple pieces of paper, his heart lighter now than he knew was possible. He walked back to the bed, tossing the letter back down, name side down, and woke the younger man up with a gentle hand to his arm. "Xander," he whispered.
"Huh?" Xander woke up, then tossed the blanket quickly over the letter. "Giles? Am I missing practice?"
"No, you're not missing our lessons. I was just worried about you."
"The vision?" He pulled himself up farther, looking around. "I'm fine. All the stuffiness is gone and I don't remember much of it, just words."
"I know, that's why I brought you this." A notebook was tossed to the bed with a small smile. "I want you to relax when you work with this. Just let your imagination flow when you look at each one and write down what you think it is." Xander nodded. "Good, try the first one today and I'll see you at the normal time." He stood up, heading for the stairs.
"Giles?" Xander called, stopping him. The older man turned to look at him. "I'm, um, sorry about this morning. I didn't mean to embarrass you."
"You didn't." He came back over to the bed, sitting beside the young man. "I wasn't embarrassed. That was just a spontaneous reaction." His face flushed a little. "The word 'safe' applied to me isn't one of the most pleasant ideals to me." He smiled in a self-depreciating way. "Being 'safe' isn't what I wanted in my life, I'd much rather be thought of as caring and exciting. "
"Safe is good though," Xander protested. "Safe means that...that you care and that you're the rock we chain ourselves to when life gets too strange. You're our anchor of sanity and what makes us work harder to save everyone. Let's face it, if it had been Wesley and Buffy at first, she'd be lonely."
Giles chuckled. "A very good point." He ruffled the dark hair, smoothing it from its sleep-mussed state. "I'll not fight the word so hard from you." He stood up, looking down at his student. "Pick one and write about it, let your imagination flow."
"Okay, I'll do that. Are we going to keep it in a book? Like one of those binders that Willow kept our constant research in?"
"A very good idea. We'll start it this afternoon with this entry." He headed out the door.
Xander uncovered the letter, looking down at it. "He read you, didn't he?" He put it under his pillow, hiding it until he was ready to give it for real, wishing so many things at that moment.
Giles read the supposed meaning of the symbol and smiled then looked at his student, who was writing furiously. He waited until he got the completed paper, frowning at the differences between the accounts. "Did you get a flash of knowledge?"
"No," Xander said slowly, thinking as he went, "I just started tracing it a different way and that made sense." He frowned at his pen. "The first one was a thought on the way to work, it was just a fantasy. The second was a...feeling I got when I traced it." He looked at the blank papers before him. "I think it needs a dot." He redrew the symbol, adding a dot where he wanted it.
They both jumped back as the paper burst into flames.
Giles glared at his student. "Did I forget to give you the 'magic is an easy force to misuse' speech?" Xander squinted then shook his head. "Remind me to tell it to you later." He looked at the papers he held then put them both into the new binder with a note of his own. "We'll just have to take more experimental control over testing them."
Xander sighed, going for a wet sponge to clean up his mess. "Sorry." He looked at the table after it was cleaned. "No marks?"
"No, that seems to just incinerate the paper." He mumbled something unintelligible as he headed for the bookcase in the corner, coming back with a small wooden box and handing it off to the younger man. "Calligraphy set," he explained, sitting down. "The story where the person wrote it as a wish and your explanation both seem to fit that one." He looked up at the happy smile, giving one of his own. "It would seem you got it right."
Xander looked up from his bed, smiling at Willow as she walked in to his basement. "Hey, what's up?"
"Nothing. Just wondering how you were." She sat on his chair, looking him over. "Did I hurt you when I tried to help?"
"Short headache." He rolled to face her, getting serious. "Willow, do me a favor, don't work anything on me again unless it's life-depending, like I would die stuff." She nodded, her face falling more. "What I got was a good, just a little scary, but good." He thought for a second, Giles hadn't told him not to tell. "Secret?" She nodded, moving closer. "You know those rocks with the carvings?" Her face wrinkled up and she shook her head. "Well, there are these really old rocks..."
Giles cleared his throat from the doorway. "She's not ready for that yet." He walked in, handing over the piece of paper he was carrying. "You need to get these things together and we'll pack them in a bag at my house for you."
The younger man read over the list, whistling. "Way lot of stuff not available at Wal-Mart. Do I have time to do this piece by piece?"
"The underlined items are necessary now, the starred ones before testing your next hypothesis, and the rest sooner rather than later if you could." The two men shared a look and Xander glanced in Willow's direction. "Willow, I will have a list for you later, but for now, I'd like you to start gathering all your spells together. Your first item will be a book to write them in."
She nodded, standing up. "Okay, I'll write down all that I know."
"No, wait until you get the book for that," Giles told her. "We need no more accidents with one of your spells." The younger man blushed and she looked confused. "Xander's first symbol burst into flames on my table. Apparently it has something to do with powerful wishes."
Willow giggled then snorted. "Way to go Xan," she said, clapping.
Giles shook his head. "None of that. What he's doing is mostly a lost art. It has no comparison to your studies."
"Hey, I'm learning normal spells too," Xander defended. "Just more protective stuff."
Willow sighed. "Better you than me. I don't have the concentration to hold up a shield." She shrugged and left them alone.
"All of this," Xander almost-whined. "I make minimum wage, Giles, remember?"
The older man sat beside his favorite student. "I need you to be prepared for any emergency. Concentrate on the underlined items and learning normal spells for now; the rest can wait but you'll need the starred items for any more symbolic work. Most of it's precautionary but I'd feel better if you had it ready."
"What's the rest for?" Xander looked at the list. "A normal backpack won't due?"
"The books need to be separated so they aren't damaged. That sort of bag means that you won't have to fabric-wrap them." He smiled. "Most of that is for storage and traveling."
Xander grinned. "Does that mean we're going to?"
"One never knows but it's best to be prepared."
"Okay, but fair warning, I failed as a Boy Scout."
Giles laughed, patting the side of the young man's face. "As did I, but I've learned that lesson well." He glanced at his watch. "Work?"
"Is good but it's my day off. And a payday." Xander scooted to the end of the bed. "Want to help me shop? Gotta get groceries first but I could start on the list."
"I would but I have a school board meeting in a few minutes." Giles stood up, looking at his student. "Do *not* go to Hila with this. I don't want it to get around that you were given that vision or what you're studying. It's much too risky."
"*Especially* Willow. She'd let it slip when she bragged about you." He smiled gently. "As she has every right to do." He let his fingers stroke a rough cheek. "Next lesson is preparation of the self. Tonight, after dinner."
"Not too late, I have to open at seven tomorrow." Xander grimaced. "That's why I get today off, to get the extra sleep."
"Then I'll arrange our schedule around that and no, it's not a long lesson. Just be prepared." Giles turned, walking out through the side door.
Xander looked at the woman helping him. "At least all this isn't totally expensive."
She smiled. "No," she said in her slow Southern drawl, "not that bad. Herbs are the worst mostly." She looked at the list he had handed her then back at him. "No books?"
"Got a few already. I'm not up to working my own stuff yet."
She shook her head. "Then you must be the one Hila said turned to the traditional route." He nodded slowly. "Good. There's lots of us that don't like her too easy and quick-workin' ways. It's like microwaving instead of baking."
Xander tipped his head off to the side. "Never though of it that way.
She put one last item into her basket before tightening her ponytail of glossy black hair. "Just be careful," she said, handing back the list. "Her way's easy but that means you don't have anything to fall back on, no true skills when you need them."
"Nope, Giles makes me work hard." She smiled at that. "What about the rest?"
"Well, the bath shop up the street has the cleaning supplies and the art store would have that sort of paper. That journal can be gotten at any chain bookstore." He nodded. "About the only expensive thing is the special components he wanted you to have eventually and I'll have to order some of them." They walked back to the register.
Xander absently handed off the basket, looking at a statue that drew his attention. He winced at the price tag but felt he had to touch the bronze wolf.
"That," she said, walking up behind him, "your fellow student dismissed outright. What do you feel?"
He ran his fingers over the bronze snout. "Something, maybe... a presence." He glanced at her but the eyes drew him back. "It's like they see '*me*' not what I tell everyone I am." He felt himself being pulled away but didn't protest, wanting and needing to know the truth the eyes held.
His helper picked up the phone, calling someone. "Want to come down here?" she asked softly. "You need to see this." She hung up and dialed a new number. "Hi, this is Elizabeth at the Magic Shop. Can you come down for a few minutes? We need to talk to you." She frowned, leaning on the counter as she looked at the stuck young man. "No, not a problem, something wondrous." She hung up, watching him and the door.
Soon, another woman walked in, a plump little redhead with a blond streak beside her right cheek. "What's wrong?" The cashier, her partner, pointed at the young man who was in front of the wolf statue, almost petting it.
Giles walked in and his eyes were immediately drawn to the still form of his student. The cashier motioned him over. "You were the last to do that," she said quietly.
The redhead caught her partner's eye and they conversed silently, then they both nodded. "He need a job?"
"He has one, a poor excuse for one, but one nonetheless. But I'm sure if you'd ask him, he'd say yes. I believe he never wants to see fast food again."
The cashier smiled. "Go pull him away from there and we'll offer."
"Same thing she gets," the redhead put in, pointing at Elizabeth. "We could use the help anyway." She smiled, walking over with Giles.
"Xander," Giles called softly. "It's time to come back now." The young man blinked and looked around in confusion before falling to the floor in a dead faint. "I *do* wish he'd quit doing that," the teacher said in exasperation.
Xander woke up, looking at the worried faces in confusion, stopping on his friend's. "I was out *that* long?" he asked as he sat up, with a little help from a strong hand on his back.
"No," Giles said, "just a few minutes and that was a normal reaction I believe." He helped him stand, steadying him for a few seconds. "That statue was made by someone very powerful to trap some of us."
The cashier cleared her throat. "We were talking while you were out and we think you might want a job here." She smiled at his frantic nodding. "Doesn't pay much more than what you've got now but you get a small discount on all but the herbs."
Giles stilled the rapidly moving head by putting a hand on top of it and pressing down. "I do believe this will help in your education." Xander looked at him. "And it will be easier to work around this schedule as it won't be so...flexible."
"We have a few clean rooms in the back if you need a space and an altar set up for our own use. Mr. Giles can even come over and teach you on the slow days."
"So cool," Xander whispered, grinning maniacally. "I said yes, right?" They all nodded, smiling back. "Let me check with my old boss to see when I can start."
Giles shook his head. "I'm sure this will work out all right." He checked to make sure they were alone in the store. "You'll need to tell them what you're working on, Xander, in case something happens. I trust these two."
"I got a vision about the symbols on those stones." Both women gasped, mouths open. "Yeah, that's about how I feel near them."
"How many has he decoded?" the raven-haired woman asked.
"One and it appears to be related to wishes. It incinerated after he completed it." He felt the blush across the almost six inches that they were apart, it was that strong. "You did nothing wrong. I figured you were wishing as much when it happened," he told his student quietly. "There's no harm in wishing for a better livelihood." The younger man sighed. "Come, I'll go with you to your old job and help you tell them, then we'll get the rest of your items."
"Oops, gotta pay. The statue got me first." He and the cashier walked back to the counter and she rang him up. "Xander," he said, holding out his hand.
"Elizabeth," she said, shaking it. "The other boss is Liberty and it's going to be thirty-four dollars even." He grunted, pulling out his wallet to pay her. Or tried to, he had to get it from his teacher since it had been lying on the floor and the older man had picked it up. He got his bags, smiling and waving as he walked out to his car. "Want to get the bath stuff and paper first since we're here?"
"That would save some energy," Giles agreed with a small smile. "Does your head hurt?"
"Nope, sinuses are going to explode but not pain." He locked the bags into the trunk and rejoined his friend on the sidewalk. "Paper first?" Giles nodded so they went two doors down. It was at the bath shop a few minutes later that he was surprised.
Giles leaned across the counter, kissing the woman manning it "Peace," he said softly. She smiled, wiping her lipstick off him. "My student requires preparations for his major spells and we'd like your help picking out his scent."
She smiled and giggled, a pleasant, sweet sound before she slapped his arm lightly. "Rupert," she said, her voice high and nasal. "So formal. You'd think I was more talented or older." She waved at a shelf a few feet away. "You know where it is, go get him stuff while I ponder the spirits of the scents."
Xander gave Giles a confused look as they walked. "Scent?"
"Yes, many of us have a scent, something that soothes us while marking us." He leaned closer. "I have mine on. What do you smell?"
He took a deep sniff of the offered skin, ignoring the tingle that ran down his back. "Um, your books. That leather cured by years of gentle care/little musty smell." He took another sniff, a deep, long one. "And something piney but with lemon."
"Almost exactly," the woman said as she walked up behind them. She pulled him closer, kissing Xander suddenly then smelling him. "Hmm," she said in appreciation, "knew I was playing with that musk for a reason." She walked over to a little tray of bottles, pulling the young man by his wrist. She dabbed a few of the glass sticks from the bottles against his neck then stopped to smell, shaking her head. She wiped the area with a baby wipe then started again on the other pulse point. She smelled him again, wiping that mix off, and started over on the hollow of his throat, stroking the wands over the sensitive flesh. This time she smiled, motioning Giles over to smell him.
Giles inhaled deeply, the harmonious new smell merging with the younger man's own scent. He nodded, just as Willow, Buffy, and Oz walked into the store.
"Hey guys, come smell," Xander said, smiling. "Just picked out a scent." Buffy smelled and nodded, Willow doing much the same.
Oz smelled his throat and had to hold down the wolf. "Smells good," he said, stepping back before he could do something stupid in front of his girlfriend, like take the younger man as if he were in heat right there in the middle of the store. "Get that one."
Willow pouted. "When do I get to do that?"
Giles looked at Oz in desperation, and the older teen sighed. "Birthday," he promised.
Xander picked out the stuff he wanted, paying quickly so she could mix them with the scent. He took the bag with a small grin, turning to look at his friends. "Okay, got to go quit now," he announced. They all followed him back to the car and the van, which was parked a few spaces down. "So, what's up?" he asked after carefully securing the bag.
"We were going to go picnic," Willow said, happy again. "Want to come?" Both men nodded. "Okay, you can follow us."
Oz looked at the stores and shook his head. "Need a few, gotta order a present." Willow laughed happily as he handed over the keys. "Be gentle with her, need the van tonight." His girlfriend nodded and left without them. He waited until they were out of sight to look at Xander. "Smell very good," he noted. "I'd say edible even."
Giles rolled his eyes, getting into the car. "Come on, we can suitably delay ourselves somewhere more private." He looked at the bag between his feet and took out the bottle of scented oil, checking the seal around the stopper. "We'll drop this off at my place," he told Xander, keeping hold of the precious liquid as they pulled away from the curb.
Oz leaned forward, smelling the other sides of his friend's neck. "Like the one in front best," he said softly, directly into an ear. He controlled himself until they were inside then pulled the young man to him, sniffing him again. He kissed him hard, desperately passionate now.
Giles looked at the bottle in his hand then at the younger men. "Not a repellent then," he quipped. He put the bottle down, breaking between them before they could do anything in his living room. "Oz, please." He just got stared at.
Xander pulled Oz closer again, holding him. "Want me to?" he whispered. He got a small nod so fell to his knees, rubbing against the t-shirt covered stomach while lowered the straining zipper. The older teen panted hard, neither noticing Giles' shocked expression nor his inability to move. Oz moaned as he was oh so slowly swallowed, grabbing the dark hair and hanging on like his life depended on it.
The only sound in the apartment was heavy panting, wet sucking noises, and the occasional moan. The older teen came first, howling, throwing his head back to let the sound out. Xander tucked him back inside his jeans and stood, getting another kiss. A slow, tasting, exploring kiss.
Giles excused himself, sure neither boy had heard him, and went to hide in the bathroom.
Oz looked at Xander and grinned. "Thanks. Don't know what came over me." He smelled his friend again. "Not as powerful now," he noted, adjusting himself. He heard the water come on in the bathroom. "Ready?" The younger man looked at the bathroom door and blushed a deep red. He looked back at his friend to see a raised eyebrow. "Thinking of him?" Oz asked gently. Xander shook his head but his body didn't lie, shivering against his will. "You need to talk to him, he thinks you're confused."
Xander looked away from his friend's knowing eyes. "I am. I think he knows why though." He watched his teacher walk out to join them. "We okay?" he asked quietly.
Giles nodded, smiling. "Just fine. I was startled by Oz's reaction. Are you still feeling it?" The affected man shook his head. "Then lets go, shall we."
Xander stopped him from moving, hugging him. "Sorry, we didn't mean to embarrass you." He got patted for it. "Okay, let's go party."
"Picnic," Oz corrected. "And they're going to start wondering soon."
Willow looked at her watch. "Where are they?" She looked at Buffy, who had just returned from the bathroom. "You don't think they had an accident, do you?"
"Nah, they just had to drop Xander's stuff off. They probably got caught up talking about stuff." She wisely kept her real opinion to herself, noting her wetness spreading again. "He smelled great, didn't he?"
"Yeah, sorta manly and nice." She smiled as Xander's car pulled into the parking lot. "Okay, we can eat now." She set the food out quickly, making herself a plate. She pouted as her boyfriend sat across from her and made his own plate but ate anyway, without commenting.
Buffy leaned across Giles to smell Xander again. "It lasts pretty well," she told him, sitting back in her spot. "Why get that?"
"It's a special thing," the young man told her. "Giles gave me a whole list of stuff and it was on there."
"List?" Oz asked.
"For his studies," Giles explained. "Willow has most everything already but he needed some specific items."
Xander glanced at Giles, who nodded subtly. "And I found a better job this morning."
"Food-type, manual-type, or other?" Buffy asked between bites of salad.
Xander had his mouth full so Giles answered her. "He'll be helping at the Magic Shop. I believe it will help him learn the various groups and the associated materials of the craft." He saw Willow's pout about to begin so cut it off deftly. "One day, he'll teach so he needs a broader knowledge base."
"And we know this *how*?" Buffy asked.
"Over his road trip, we met at an auction and a very telling book fell into his hands. One that I use to help them both learn."
"The way it came was pretty surreal too," Oz added. Giles looked at him, his face neutral but his eyes holding a warning.
"Surreal?" Willow asked.
"Out of the blue, this guy gives me a flyer for this auction," Xander covered. "No one else at the fair got one and I'm still not sure how he knew but he gave me one." He shrugged.
"Was that where you found my aunt-in-law's belongings?" Giles asked.
"Yup," Xander said with a small grin. "It was go to that auction or go look at craft stuff of the homegrown variety."
"I thought you guys met up there," Buffy asked, confused.
"No, that one was later in the day," Oz said, finishing the last piece of unclaimed food on the blanket. He lay down and closed his eyes. "Wake me when I sizzle."
Willow gave her boyfriend an appraising look but didn't say anything. Hers and Buffy's eyes met across the corner of the blanket, silently agreeing to talk about it later.
Buffy shut the bedroom door behind her, sitting next to her friend. "He coulda been alone," she noted.
"Then why was Giles yawning?" Willow got up to pace, waving her hands around as she talked. "Giles looked ready to fall over when they showed up. Oz only eats like that after sex. I know! He uses my stomach for a plate!" She drew in a deep breath but her friend cut in.
"Will, it was Xander's scent. It made me run and hide in the bathroom too." She got glared at. "Sorry, but even if they did...that, there's no evidence saying they were *together*." She caught Willow on her next pass, pulling her down to sit on a bare thigh. "Oz won't cheat on you, not with them."
"Do you remember the anti-magic guy? Same day that kid disappeared that we still aren't sure what happened to?" Buffy nodded slowly. "Well, the spell Xander used had sex magic to raise the power they needed." Her breath caught in a small sob. "With Oz."
Buffy held her friend tightly. "Hon, think about what you did to them and what had to be done to put it right," she said quietly. She got a funny look. "Did you enjoy it?" Willow shook her head. "So, sometimes it's necessary, right?"
"I guess," the redhead admitted eventually. "But they liked it."
"I'm sure but did they do it on the road trip is the real question."
Willow blushed as she got up, going over to her windows. She felt her best friend walk up behind her and knew she wanted an answer. "They couldn't," she whispered.
"Okay," Buffy said slowly, turning her friend around to look at her. "Tell me you didn't spell them that way." She looked into the bright eyes and shook her head at the truth shining from them. "Why, Willow? Why when it could have hurt them both?"
"It did," Oz said, walking in. "The night we called, right?" She nodded, looking down but he made her look at him. "We had a major fight that led to him almost getting shot the next day."
Xander winced as he walked in. "Wondered why I got a sudden case of sobriety that night," he quipped. "Will, the next morning, we had a fight and I went to spend some time alone." He rubbed his arm, covering the spot that had been bruised for a week. "Hila saved me from being shot." She started to cry so he pulled her over to the bed, sitting her down. "Because I witnessed the shooting but Hila saved me from them, Oz almost got hurt. Twice." She cried harder as he stepped back. "You need to consider long-range consequences."
"Pebble in a pond theory," Oz noted, nodding. "Never stopped to consider what might have happened if we hadn't fought."
"Or I could have given in and we might have left the city," the younger man added. "More like breaking a line in a cobweb. Some are small and create a little hole and some can make it all fall apart." He looked at Oz, smiling slightly. "It's not *too* often I don't think first. At least with this stuff; Giles makes sure of it. And after *that* spell that she cast, I'll never do it again."
Willow ran for the bathroom, sobbing now.
"Way harsh guys," Buffy said as she tried to follow.
Xander stopped her by grabbing her arm. "Buff, I saw *cops* shooting someone. Hila *saved* my *life*. *That* woulda been harsh." He let her go, watching her walk down the hall. "I'm gonna go home," he told Oz as he walked out.
Xander rolled onto his back, trying hard to think of something besides what happened at Giles' house earlier or their time in San Francisco or the feelings of being attacked when Willow had switched them. He ignored the quiet steps on the stairs, pretty sure he knew who it was.
"What were you thinking?" Buffy asked.
He sat up, glaring at her. "You no longer knock?" She shook her head. "I was trying to prove a point. Her meddling keeps coming around to bite me." He laid back down.
"No, that I understood. I was talking about doing her boyfriend and Giles before joining us." She sat beside him on the bed, sniffing deeply. "It was kinda obvious, even to her." She moved closer and he shifted away. "What?"
He hopped up, backing away from her, looking her over for strangeness. "What's wrong with you? I don't smell that good."
Buffy *crawled* across the bed slowly. "Nothing. You?"
Xander decided he needed to fear for his life from the strange look she had on her face and he ran out the nearest door.
Giles made it to the door in time to be slammed into by his student. He managed to take the keys from the fighting hands before he got seriously hurt and shut the door before his towel fell off in front of the whole neighborhood. "Xander, stop," he said sharply, pulling him close to hold him until the teen calmed himself. "What happened?"
"Buffy tried to jump me." Xander backed up when he realized the man holding him was wearing a very tiny towel. "Giles? Um, why aren't you wearing clothes? Is whatever hitting you too?"
"No, I was about to take a shower when you decided to rush in here. Now, start again. What happened between you and Buffy?"
"She had this really scary look on her face and she started to smell me. She accused me of having sex with you and Oz then she kept getting closer and closer. I ran before she could really do it, but," he slapped himself on the forehead to stop those thoughts, "I was not real manly and she's got to be laughing." The older man shook his head, pushing the teen onto the couch. "Giles, she was scary! She looked at me like I was the last truffle on Valentines Day. Like I was the last get everything you want free coupon for Neiman Marcus. Like I was the last Midol on Earth!"
Giles chuckled, sitting next to his student. "All right. It must be the oil mixture since Oz had that same look right after he joined us and smelled you. Why don't you take your new unscented bath products and use my shower." A pointed look was given to his towel. "Yes, well, I can put on my robe. You need to fix this." Xander nodded, standing. "We'll test the oil alone later as it's possible this reaction was caused by all three mixtures." He noticed the blinking of his answering machine so reached over to listen to it.
"Giles, oh my Gods, you won't believe the big mistake I made," the cashier from the bath shop said, panting. "I mixed that *special* oil into your *friend's* mixture. You need to get it off him before something happens. Wash the area then use alcohol to clean his *whole* neck." The message ended with a beep.
Xander sat down, mouth open. "Special oil," he asked finally.
"Someone ordered it as the base to a love spell. I told her to lock it away after sealing it with wax but apparently she didn't listen." He sighed. "We'll take it back after we're both cleaned off. Go shower, we'll do the alcohol wash then I'll shower." The young man nodded, getting up and heading for the bathroom.
Giles looked down and adjusted his towel. Nobody had ever said he was immune to the smell.
Oz looked up as Willow walked into his room then went back to his reading. He really hadn't had any interest in her recently, not for a few months actually.
"Did you enjoy them?" she asked, not moving from in front of the closed door.
"Would you believe me if I told you I did myself?" He picked up the phone as it rang. "Yeah?" Long pause. "No." He nodded and hung up. "The oil was tainted by part of a love spell." He put down his book, looking at her. "Believe me or not, your choice."
"I'd like to, but I remember what happened between you two," she said softly, moving closer. "And I remember what I learned when I was switched. I know you two have been...together since you got back." She looked into his eyes. "You tell me, should I trust you?"
He sat up, pulling her to sit in front of him. "Want the truth?" She nodded slowly. "Yeah, earlier his scent got to me. I used his mouth, he offered." She nodded, her face falling. "And yes, we have been. It fixed the bond, made it less of a sign to the elephant in our heads. Decide what you want."
Willow nodded. "No more?"
"Let Giles do it," she begged, taking his hand in hers and kissing it. "You're going to have to choose. Me or him?"
"Willow, I love you," he said, kissing her, "but we're joined somehow. I can't break it."
She sighed, thinking quickly. "I can't fight that but I won't share." She looked back down at the bedspread. "If you absolutely can't help it, I want honesty. I won't cast anything to stop it and I understand that he can give you...things I can't and I get that but I don't want to kept in the dark." She looked back up. "No details, but I won't be lied to." He nodded slowly. "I'd like it to be kept to a minimum, like life-threatening times but if you need it, I'll understand." She melted into his arms as they went around her.
"Okay. I can handle that. I'll talk to him later." She nodded, sliding away from him. "That all?" She nodded and he looked at the clock. "I'm going to be late. Be there?"
Willow smiled. "Of course. Aren't I always there when you play?" She walked out the door, letting him get ready in his own way.
Giles walked up behind his student, watching him shave. "Now, this is my preference, understand. Many feel just a shower is enough or some choose to not clean themselves at all, while others take clean to a full and complete level inside and out, but I find this time of preparation helps me get into the proper frame of mind." He put his hands on the thin shoulders, watching the razor's image in the mirror. "Don't rush this," he said softly.
"Giles, this is weird." Xander turned to look at his teacher. "I've never been watched before."
"Ah, but I'm harmless." The older man smiled sadly. "I'll not do this again." He stepped back.
Xander frowned, grabbing the leather belt to pull him back. "Safe doesn't have a *thing* to do with harmless. They don't even live in the same country let alone the same neighborhood." He handed off the razor, hopping up onto the sink. "My hands are shaking. You do it." He got a startled look. "Oh, stop it."
The older man put down the orange plastic instrument, glaring. "Xander, this is highly inappropriate." That got a quiet snort. "You're my student. I'm old enough to be your father for heaven's sake!" That got a small nod. "Where is this coming from? Are you really that anxious to replace Oz?"
"Willow gave him an ultimatum. We can only be that way when we can't fight it or it has to happen." Giles gave him a confused look. "Bond, us, thoughts shared? Sounding familiar?" He got a nod. "He sent the discussion to me as it happened." He pulled the older man's face closer. "And he told me about your talk." He took a kiss then released him. "Of course, we need to talk, but..." His mouth was covered by a warm pair of lips.
"Yes, we are supposed to have that sort of bond," Giles told him gently, "but your training will take years and neither of us is ready for that." He stepped back. "It can not be casual or without feeling, it destroys everything that's built with it."
"So, that teaching bond is like marriage?"
"Yes," Giles said, his smile showing his relief, "that's exactly what it's like but neither of us is ready for that sort of commitment."
"So *that's* why Will isn't getting these in-depth lessons." The older man's face got very pink, making him laugh. "See, I woulda figured you for jumping *her*. You're both alike."
"Xander, she's like my daughter!" But he smiled back. "We'll discuss this at a more appropriate time." He handed back the razor. "Finish this part and we'll go onto the next."
"You could do this part."
"No." He kissed his student's forehead. "I'd not stop so you'd best do it." He stepped back, waving at the sink. The younger man slid off the sink and turned around, adding some more gel to his face and smiling into the mirror as he took the first stroke.
Xander stepped out of the shower, grabbing the towels left for him and the note stuck to the mirror. "Put on your boxers, which are in the bag, and come to the living room. Make sure your hair isn't dripping," he read with a grin. He pulled the bag on the toilet over, his mouth falling open at the sight of the clothes that weren't his before. He dried off, patting his skin down quickly then wrapping his hair up so he could get dressed. He pulled out the blue/green plaid flannel boxers, rubbing the so-soft material across his skin before putting them on, not even wondering how Giles knew his size. He shivered as the warm, fuzzy material hit his cock, rubbing with each move he made. He moaned, grabbing the sink until he regained control.
He toweled his hair dry, getting as much water out as he could. Then he folded up the towel and picked up the bag to looking inside it. "Lotion, brush..." He smiled, carrying it out to the living room, moving very carefully so his boxers wouldn't send him crashing into embarrassment.
"Ah, Xander, good, you're done." Giles looked him over, noting the stiff movements. "Is there something wrong?" He saw the frantic head shake so looked down the body, noting the heavy bulge under the sensuous material. "Well, then, let's get on with the rest. Come sit." He got onto the floor, taking the bag from the limp hand. "I want to work on your mental centering," he said softly, lighting the scented candle.
Xander watched the flame, his fingers playing with the hem of his boxers. He calmed his mind, relaxing his body, letting his mind focus on a single thought. He felt the hand come to rest on his back then another touched him, this time with something silky. "Lotion?"
"Shh. I'm conditioning you to relax for me." Giles rubbed over the firm back, noting the moan. "You need to be able to do this even with distractions."
The younger man centered his mind again, letting the good feeling energy flow around him. He felt himself slip deeper into his mind, his body merging and pulling him down to a new, calm place.
Devon hit the switch for the tape machine, turning it on. He'd only seen that look in Oz's eyes once before but something fantastic had come from it. He listened to the new music flowing from the talented fingers, his whole body relaxing from the tune.
Giles moved from the younger man's upper back to his lower. The quiet moans became small whimpers. When the area was slicked down, he worked the whole back, soothing and gentle. They boy went from moans to whimpers to somewhere in between as he worked the various spots.
Devon snorted as the music danced between two, then three, separate threads. "MPD, man, got to get those voices fixed."
Giles shifted to the shoulders and upper arms. The groans changed pitch but they weren't as pleased sounding. He moved to sit in front of his student, moving the candle so he didn't sit on it. He kept a hand on the young man the whole time, juggling the lotion bottle to get some more out. He worked over the chest area, noting the strength he hadn't known the teen had. The groans became almost whining whimpers and the flesh was pushed into his hands.
The music thread changed again but stayed steady as one tune. It became sensual, sounding almost needy and wanting. It reminded the lead singer of a lover begging for more, to hurry on to the next step.
Giles was enjoying this new noise but he needed to accustom Xander to his hands, in case he needed to touch him for a spell, of course. One hand started to drift lower, to around the bottom center of the young man's ribcage. The begging noises turned into soft growls.
Devon switched tapes as quickly as he could so caught this new tune on the third note. The aggressive, sexual, almost predatory music flowing from the guitar struck a chord in him immediately. He wanted to lay down and offer himself to the animal in the music; he could just about see the predator stalking him, searching for a weakness to bring him down so he could be claimed.
He shivered at his thoughts, vowing to never find that part of his guitarist.
Xander untied one of the multi-colored knots and looked at the last three. He reached for it with his three hands, courtesy of his bond, making it a lot easier to work the multiple threads loose.
Giles thrilled at the growls, his body responding to the noises. Both his hands were now on the younger man's stomach and he was getting deep, sensual growls that sent waves of sparks shooting down his back at each breath. He moved over the whole of his student's uncovered front, noting all the sensitive spots and cataloguing them for what he hoped would be later use. The growling became more pronounced, still heavy and deep, now almost a purr at times but still very sensual and thrilling.
Devon grabbed Willow as she walked in, putting a hand over her mouth. He nodded at the guitarist where he sat in his trance and she nodded, sitting down beside him.
She opened her mouth to say something but he glared so she relaxed and listed to her man play.
Xander undid the last knot, watching as the threads wove themselves into a web. He noticed a few bare spots so put a hand on the threads to fix them. That's how he figured out what they were, a picture forming so he could watch the contents.
He moved to another and another, watching them all play for him.
Devon's eyes bulged as Oz shifted music every few minutes now. If he could finish the snippets, they'd have enough material to last forever.
Giles worked his way to the side of his student, working both front and back now in small, calming circles. It had been almost three hours since Xander had gone under so it was time to bring him back to reality. He worked the not-so-sexually-intense areas to slowly bring down the younger man's need.
His own could wait until he was alone.
Oz's music started to become soothing, gentle and loving really, and he started to come around. His eyes started to follow his fingers, considering what they were doing.
Devon heard the specialness stop but didn't turn off the tape. Last time he hadn't caught this cool-down time and he wanted his friend to hear the difference.
The girl beside him coughed quietly, just once, and Oz hit his first wrong note in three hours. "Keep playing," Devon whispered, smiling at his best friend.
Xander came back with a huge smile. "Giles, you wouldn't *believe* what I saw!" He hugged the older man hard. "I've got to write it down before I forget it." He gave one last squeeze before hopping up and heading for the table.
Oz listened to the first few minutes of the tape. The club had closed about an hour earlier and he was alone with Devon, who had made Willow see what a special thing had happened and made her go home.
He almost cried at the perfection that had flowed from his fingers. He would kiss Xander later, sure it was the both of them. He remembered some of the images that went along with the notes still.
Giles read the account in awe, stunned into silence. He kept glancing from the man sleeping on his couch to the thick wad of papers, his mind having trouble accepting that Xander had all that inside him and his simple touches had helped him find it.
He briefly wondered if any of this had spilled over the young man's unusual bond but dismissed it as a flight of fancy.
TO BE CONTINUED...