Notes: Character Death. Bombs Away!
Xander looked up as Joe walked over to him. "Did they buy it?"
"Yes," he said as he sat down, a look of relief on his face. "They were very interested in your wedding, and if anything unusual had happened. I told them no, it must have been before we got here. I mentioned seeing our old Watcher Adam, they sent him many choruses of 'hi' and 'who is Ray'." He smiled. "You are now officially an anomaly in our books."
"Cool. I always liked being different." He winked and went back to his book. "Joe, where would Angel have gotten that sword?" he asked without looking up.
"Not a clue. You'd have to ask the guy himself, or even Mac. He's the resident sword expert." He looked outside. "Mac," he called. The immortal walked over to the door. "Xander wants to know where that sword might have come from."
"I'm not sure," he said as he walked inside. "I've never seen it before, but it's definitely by the same man that made mine." He sat down and looked at Xander. "We know he did a lot of custom work at the time, and we know that he did do a few royal orders."
Xander frowned. "Tell me it's not from the Monsoon demon," he pleaded.
"I don't know about such things, but I doubt it. The sword maker was firmly on the side of good. There's a legend of a Japanese elemental spirit challenging him, he walked away from the challenge, damaging his honor."
"Hmm," Joe said. "So it probably wasn't from him. Then who could have put it where Angel would have gotten it?"
"Oh, I know a few people," Xander said, holding up a finger to answer the phone. "Hello? Hey, Blair." He grinned. "Yeah, my sweeties made an *honest* man out of me." He laughed. "What? No, we did invite Angel though. Yeah, everyone in his family but Spike was there. No, he's come down with a bout of conscious due to a spell. No, Angel's childe did it. No, not that one. Willow. Yeah, her. I don't know, all I know is that it was life or death and he was forced to turn her or he died." He shrugged. "Not a clue, man. What? Really? You didn't have to do that." He smiled, a sappy, warm smile. "Yeah, thanks. Nope, I'll be looking for it. Oh, your new childe? Wow. Very wow. Yeah, I'd like to meet this person." He laughed again. "Thanks, Blair, I'll tell him you said so. Yes, both of them." He hung up. "That was an old friend. Oz!"
"What?" floated down from upstairs.
"Blair is sending us a present via his new childe, whom he wanted me to meet. Seems he found a guy that was a lot like me and turned him."
Oz walked into the living room a few minutes later. "The vampire we had dinner with in Paris?" Xander nodded. "How did he know we were married?"
"Remember when we went to put your name on my account at the demon bank?" Oz frowned but nodded. "Well, they put an announcement in the demon paper for us."
"There's a demon newspaper?" Joe asked.
"Yup. Has been for centuries." He looked up at Oz. "But anyway, his son is coming tonight to threaten you and Giles into treating me well."
"Cool. I'd like to meet the guy that this vampire thinks is like you." He stole a kiss then went back to work. "I'm working on a new program. Call me when he shows up."
"Okay," Xander called. He looked at Joe and smiled. "I made a lot of friends while I was in New York."
Joe choked. "You still keep in touch with them? They let you?"
"Yeah, a few of them and I became friends." Xander winked at him. "Blair's seriously liberal about that. He wanted to meet Oz when we saw him in Paris. Of course, Blair had to take me from a few demons the night he took me from the club, but I guess he's very protective of what's his."
"You're not his," floated down from upstairs.
"At one time, I was his," Xander called back.
"Who's this Blair?" Mac asked.
Xander picked up his book. "A former client of mine." He read the last line on the page and turned it, not looking up. Let him think about that!
Mac spluttered for a second but Joe stared at him. "Oh," he said finally and went back to Amanda and his sanity.
Xander glanced over at Joe. "He thought I was still one and I'm not," he whispered.
"Don't mess with his mind, kid, there's no telling what's going to come out." Joe picked up a book off the coffeetable and read it's title, flipping it open to read the summary.
Xander opened the door, smiling at the dark haired man on the other side. "Hi, you're Blair's son, right?" he asked, looking over his shoulder as Oz walked up.
"Come in," Oz said, getting Xander out of the way. "We're used to having vamp friends."
This young man, who did look a lot like Xander, walked into the house and looked around. He was the same height, had the same messy hair, the only real difference was his nose was a little bigger, and this guy had more muscles than Xander would ever have. "My sire sent you this," he said quietly, looking at the floor.
Oz got upset at that. It's a good thing that his Xander had never been that submissive, except on a tape, with him. "Come sit?" he asked, waving a hand at the couch. The vampire walked over and sat down, looking at them.
Xander waited until Oz had sat, then sat in his lap. "So, what's your name?"
"I'm Seth." He smiled. "My sire was right, you do look a lot like me."
Xander nodded, but he was grinning. "Yup. We could be cousins, or brothers." He moved over to the couch, hugging the young vampire. "So, let's see if we are," he said. "Who's your father?"
"Frank what? That's my dad's name too, may he rot in jail."
Seth grinned, and it was almost exactly like Xander's grin when he was young and more innocent. "That sounds like my dad. I don't know his last name, that's all my mother ever got from him. Or at least that's what she told the Social Workers when they came to talk to her." He looked at the floor again.
"That means that you could be brothers," Oz noted. He looked at the fabric wrapped package, then up at Xander. "Want me to open this or do you want to do it together?"
"You open it and come show me," Xander told him. "I want to get to know Seth better. After all, I was offered his position once." One of Oz's eyebrows went up. "It was during that last night," he defended. "How old are you, Seth?"
Xander's mouth fell open. "Gee, I'm twenty-three." He got up and jogged into the bedroom, coming back with the only picture that he had of his natural parents. "Do these guys look familiar?"
Seth ran a finger over the picture, then looked up at Xander. "We're related," he said flatly. "That's the woman who gave me up for adoption."
Oz's mouth almost met Xander's on the carpet. "Oh, wow," Xander said, giving him a hug. "She never said anything about having another child." He sat down beside his brother, both of them staring at the picture. "I know where she is if you want to go talk to her." Seth shook his head. "Okay. Want me to tell Blair for whenever you're ready?"
"If you wouldn't mind, I'd rather not tell him this," Seth sighed, looking at Xander. "I already get compared to you."
"He shouldn't do that," Xander told him, wrapping an arm around him. "You're not me, you've had a whole different set of experiences. And, I noticed something else, you're not real comfortable with the clothes he dresses you in." Xander frowned at Oz, who was holding up a beautiful silver box by the fabric. "What's in it?"
"All I saw was a letter," Oz told him. "Seth, if you wanted, we could help you get out on your own. We do know a Master vampire here on this coast. He could probably shelter you long enough for you to refind your identity."
"Yeah, then you can demand to be treated as yourself," Xander added.
"That would violate protocol," Seth told him. "Sire's very big on that matter."
"We could call him and tell him that we sent you to Angel because he had information on your parents," Oz offered. "I would do it so Xander wouldn't get a chance to bitch him out for it."
Seth looked hopeful. "Really? Would he be mad?"
"I'm not sure. Xander, phone book?"
"Drawer under the phone."
Seth rattled off the number.
"Oh, he's in LA," Oz said, shrugging at Xander's worried look. He dialed the number. "Hey, Blair, yes, he's here. Thank you for the gift. No, he's going to look at it farther. No, they just found out that they share a relative. We were wondering if you'd allow him to be sent to Angel for a few days. No, Angel knows where Xander's mother is and she could fill in a lot of gaps for him." He smiled and looked at the vampire. "No, he just walked out the door. We already told him but he said something about protocol so I was going to make sure. I figured you could always go talk to Angel if it wasn't all right." He grinned. "Would we do that?"
Xander took the phone. "Hey, Blair? Yes, the box was beautiful. No, I let Oz open it while we talked. No, we share at least one parent. I don't know, I gave her money and she left." He snorted. "No, but he seemed awfully confused about us sharing a parent." He smiled. "No, Blair, I'm not trying to take your childe away from you, just ease a bit of his confusion and tension about his past." He smiled. "Of course," he purred. "But do you really want a childe that has longings for his human life?" He chuckled. "Yes, I'll try to not corrupt him too much, Blair. I promise, I won't teach him about GHS at all. Okay?" He mentally cheered and held up a thumb to Oz. "Of course I will. I'll catch up with him and I'll make Angel take us." He grinned. "Yes, dear. You be careful. There's a new Slayer somewhere. No Spike found her dying and turned her. Angel was *not* pleased at his childe's move. He sent his last childe after him for it." He grinned. "Yup, she's safely in LA with Angel. Okay?" He nodded. "Cool. We'll work on that tonight. You can have him back in a day or so." He hung up quickly. "I am to take you shopping, young man," he said, standing up and holding out a hand. "Blair admitted he was making unfair comparisons and I am to take you shopping to get you clothes that you like." He grinned at Oz. "Apparently, Blair's run into an older vampire who told him doing this would only drive him insane and stalker-like. He is graciously allowing me to remake Seth in his own image."
Seth grinned and jumped up to hug them both. "He won't be mad?"
"Nope, he won't be mad," Xander told him. "If he is, and you *ever* need anything, then you come find us. No matter what year it is," he said, pulling back to look at Seth's eyes. "Really. No matter when." Seth looked confused but agreed. "Good, Oz, call Angel and tell him that the three of us are coming."
"Go open your present while I do that," Oz told him, grabbing the phone. He checked for a dial tone then hung it back up a few times. "We got fuzzy lines," he explained.
"Which branch?" Oz noted.
"Point." Xander sat down and opened the box, his mouth falling open as he saw the diamond encrusted collar sitting in it. "Oz," he squeaked, picking up the note to read it. He showed it to Seth, who looked like he had been hit with a stake.
"He really wants me to be me?" he asked, sitting down at Xander's feet.
"Yup. He doesn't want a Xander clone," Xander said, giving him a hug. "We'll get you fixed up and Angel will have my mother's addy for you. He's keeping it for me after all."
Oz hung up the phone. "I got Cordy's answering machine. She picked it up at the end and said she'd call him." He looked at the collar. "That's pricy. But I can see you wearing it," he told his husband.
"I can see me wearing it and my ankle chain," Xander agreed, giving him a smile. "Want me to put it in the safe?"
"You'd better. Amanda's still in the craft room."
She came out, peeking around the corner. "Did someone mention me?" She walked over and looked down at the box, inhaling sharply. "Oh, that's *gorgeous*," she said, picking the collar up. "May I? Just for a second, Xander?"
Xander looked at Oz, who nodded. "Sure," Oz said. "As long as it stays here once you leave."
She gave him a dry look. "I promised I wouldn't steal from you guys ever again." She looked down at the young man at her feet. "Um, am I missing a family story?" she asked as she undid the three clasps.
"Yes," Xander told her, motioning her to turn it around. He did the clasps for her and she stiffened then went limp. He turned her around and she didn't resist, she just gave them a smile.
"I feel like a Princess," she said, beaming at them. Then she kissed Oz.
"What the ..." Xander said, jumping up to pull her away. "Mine!" he said.
"If you'd like it that way," she whispered, leaning into him for a kiss.
"Um, I think it's the collar," Seth said timidly.
"Probably," Oz agreed, pulling her off. "GILES!"
Giles walked out of their bedroom and then down at Amanda when everyone pointed at her. "Yes, she has a slave collar on. It renders the wearer mindless except for the subject it's been spelled for." He looked at the three people, staring hard at Seth. "Who put it on her?"
Xander raised his hand. "She wanted to try it on. That's Blair's wedding present."
"Might be handy if it was for obedience," Oz muttered. Giles glared at him. "What?"
"You like me independent," Xander sniffed, going to remove it from her neck. He had trouble with the last clasp and looked over at Giles.
"You have to want to remove it from her," he said gently. "Surely you don't want her attacking either of you again."
Xander nodded and thought for a second, then undid the last clasp. By the time he had stepped back, she looked horrified. "It was the collar," he told her.
"Still believe magic isn't real?" Oz asked her.
She shook her head and ran back to the craft room.
"I'll go talk to her," Giles said, glancing at Seth again. "What were we going to do tonight?"
"Well, this is Xander's brother, Seth," Oz told him. "His sire, Blair, has agreed to give him his own personality back so we're going to go see Angel."
"He's got my mother's address, and he knows all the best vamp places to shop," Xander agreed.
"Ah. Should I wait or would you like some more company?"
"It's up to you," Oz said.
"But I want my new sword," Xander said. He looked down at his outfit. "I need to change anyway." He placed the collar back into the box and took it with him, stopping in Methos' and Ray's bedroom first, then heading into his to go get ready.
"Did the note mention what it was?" Giles asked Oz.
"Not that I saw when I read it. It did say it had an interesting history but that Blair hadn't had time to research it yet." He stopped talking as Xander came back in his blood red leather pants and a tight black t-shirt. And a pair of suede boots. "Trying to fit in?"
"Yup. I figure being dressed as me would bring more attention to us. Besides, I missed my leather pants while we were gone." He looked down at himself. "The boots really don't go, do they?" Oz shook his head. "Okay, give me a sec. I almost put on a different outfit." He walked back into the bedroom and came back a minute later in the clothes he had gotten across the barrier. An even tighter pair of black leather pants, high leather riding boots, and a loose poet's shirt. His new katana was strapped to his side. "Better?" he asked.
Oz licked his lips. "Didn't I say you were never to wear that outfit in public again?"
"Yes, but there's no dragons here that will kidnap me either," Xander said. He pulled Seth to his feet and out to the car. "Come on, Oz, I want to go see my brother in his own outfits."
Oz looked at Giles, giving him a helpless look. "We should be back tonight," he said, heading after his husband. "You sure you don't want to come? I'm sure we could use the extra bodyguards."
Giles smiled. "No, I'll be here later when you take all that energy out on him though." He waved and walked into Methos' room, politely tapping first. "Is the collar somewhere safe?"
Ray grinned. "Yup. How's Amanda?"
"I was just going to check on her. I wanted to make sure that no one would be able to get to it again."
"I hope not," Methos said from behind him. "Didn't the vampire say that he knew what it was?"
"No, from what Oz said, it was a new acquisition and he hadn't had time to research it yet."
"Ah. That explains it." Methos walked over and sat on the bed. "Did Xander take his brother to LA?"
"Yes," Giles said, giving him a smile, "after Oz complained about his second outfit. Something about it being an outfit he had gotten across the gateway?"
Methos swallowed. "The black leather pants?"
"And a loose shirt, a high pair of boots, and his new sword."
Methos nodded. "Good. It's good that one of them's armed." He looked at Ray, who was laughing. "What?"
"Xander told me Oz forbid him to wear that in public again. The last time he did, a dragon kidnapped him."
"Well, he did just say that there weren't any in LA," Giles noted. "Maybe they'll be safe." He smiled at their laughter. "I said maybe," he reminded them, going to check on Amanda.
Methos rolled into Ray's side, hugging him. "At least I don't have those problems with you, dear one."
Ray gave him a squeeze. "Nope. And I'd better never be kidnapped by a dragon either. Xander said the one that had him had terrible manners."
Methos started to laugh again, rolling Ray under him. "Then we'd better never let you near one. I'm sure they'd find you very attractive."
"As long as you come for me," Ray said, lifting his head up to lick across his husband's lips. "Can I be pampered too?"
"Of course. What would you like first? A massage? A bath?"
"Oh, a bath," Ray said quickly, wiggling to get free and jogging into the bathroom. "Meth, when we get a house out here, it's got to have a really nice tub."
"I'm sure it will," Methos said, following him in to pamper his lover the way he deserved.
Xander looked up as Angel walked out of the office, getting off the side of the car go give him a hug. "Hi. Blair said he wanted his childe to be himself," he said happily. "Do you have the addy?"
"Yes," Angel said, looking Xander's outfit over. He licked his lips, then noticed the sword. "Good, I don't need weapons," he whispered, getting into the back with Seth. "I'm Angel," he said, holding out a hand.
"I'm Seth. It appears I'm Xander's older brother."
Angel handed over a piece of folded paper. "This is what we know about your mother and where your father is," he said quietly, watching Xander slide into his seat. "Oz let him out in that?"
"Oz didn't have a choice," Oz said from the front seat. "Xander said he wanted to fit in." He looked over his shoulder. "You're in charge of this shopping trip, where to?"
"The demon bank," Xander said, checking his wallet. "I need their ATM."
"Okay," Oz agreed, starting the car.
Angel leaned forward. "You go there?"
"I've had an account with the one in New York since I worked for Devi," he told his friend. "I got some of it switched out here." He waved his ATM card. "I think we'll need some cash to outfit the bro though." He smiled at Seth. "Don't worry, I am the shopping *king*."
Everyone else in the car nodded.
Angel glared and hissed at the fourth vampire to come up and ask him if he was Xander's keeper. Oz took the direct route and pulled Xander's sword, walking towards this newest stupid person. "Mine," he growled.
The vampire nodded and backed off.
Angel looked at Oz. "Are you sure the lycanthropy is gone?" he asked.
Oz shook his head. "No, but I don't change anymore so I don't care." He handed Xander his sword when the young man held out a hand. "Sorry, but I got tired of it."
"S'okay, I know you're in protective overdrive," he said, giving him a hug. He flashed his ring at the vampire walking over to Angel and gave Oz a possessive pat on the ass. "He's my toy," he said loudly enough to be heard. "And I'm keeping him!" He put his sword back and went back to helping Seth pick out some jeans.
Angel walked over and looked at the choices in the cart. "He dresses like Spike," he told Xander. "Comfortable, but easy in a fight."
"He grew up in a foster home, I'm sure he's been in a few," Xander told him, looking at his brother. "Is that what you wanted? Street cred stuff?"
Seth nodded. "Please. Some of these overshirts are *way* too airy for me."
"Cool." Xander nodded at a nearby rack. "You'll still need dress clothes, use those for that. Besides, Blair likes the opera."
"I don't," Seth said sullenly.
Xander gave him a hug. "Me either, but it's a good place to go people watch." He picked up a few denim shirts and held them up. "These?"
"Yeah!" Seth said happily, taking them and putting them in the cart. "Who wears silk overshirts?"
"Spike," Angel told him.
"You know Spike, the Spike?" Seth asked, looking at him.
"He's my childe," Angel said with an embarrassed look. "How do you know Spike?"
"He hung with me in New York. He thought I was my brother too for a few hours."
Xander blushed. "He tried to snatch me, but I got stolen from him too." He shrugged at Angel's dirty look. "What? Like it was my fault."
"Point," Oz said, breaking up the fight. "Yeah, we know Spike. He's presently under a spell of conscious, one of Angel's other children did it to him."
"Wow," Seth said. "I've never seen that. Can I come meet your family?"
"Sure. If your sire agrees," Angel amended. "Blair's very big on protocol."
"Cool. I'll call him and ask him." He jogged over to the pay phone and pulled out some change, dialing home. "Father?" he asked. "I met Spike's Sire!" He bounced lightly on the balls of his feet.
Oz leaned closer to Angel. "I remember when Xander did that."
"I still do that when I'm really happy. You complained the whole time we were in Europe that I was bouncing."
"I forgot, I'm sorry," Oz said, turning to give him a hug. He growled at the vampire walking over to them. "What?"
"I'm here at Blair's behest," he said quietly, pointing at the young man. "Is he calling Sire?"
Angel nodded. "Yeah, he wants to come over and meet Spike. Is there a problem?"
"No, Blair wanted to make sure that the boy wasn't getting his brother into trouble and that you weren't making too many comparisons."
Xander shook his head. "Not at all," he told him. "We're trying really hard not to compare us. We're really very different after all." He smiled at him. "I know you. You helped Blair steal me back that one night he took me out."
The vampire nodded then bowed as Seth came over. "Sire wanted me to make sure that you're all right and not being upset any."
Seth gave him a hug. "You kidding? This is *great*, Homer! Not only did I find a really cool brother, who uses a sword, did you know that, but I found Spike's Sire and he's going to introduce me."
"I'd better call Willow and tell her to remove the spell," Angel said, pulling out his cellphone. "Spike wouldn't want anyone to see him this way."
"He's suffered enough," Xander agreed gently. Angel nodded and walked a little ways away. "Seth, he wanted to make sure that you're not being compared to me, and I'm sorry if I've been doing that. I've tried really hard not to do that, and I want you to know that I like who you are. I don't want you to become me in anyway."
Seth gave him and Oz a hug since they were still connected. "That's so cool!" he said, grinning at his minion. "Hey, did Sire send any money with you so the bro here doesn't have to buy my clothes?" Homer handed him a credit card. "Oh, way big spender tonight then." He looked at the rack of clothes and picked up the six closest ones, dumping them into the cart.
"Sire did say for you to get a suit," Homer told him. "Something respectable. He said something about meetings with a lawyer sometime this week."
Seth sighed and walked over to where the suits were, pawing through them to find something that he liked.
"Try the eggplant one," Oz called.
Seth held it up and shook his head, putting it back in favor of a darker suit, a black one. He brought it over. "Sorry, but sometimes my accountant nature comes back to bite me." He shrugged and headed for the leather jackets. "Maybe a leather suit," he said considering the racks.
Angel walked over and looked at the young man, then pulled down three jackets. "These would look best. They're also light in case you're staying on this coast."
They went into the cart without question.
Xander looked around the store and led Oz away, going to do a little shopping of his own.
Spike looked up as Xander walked down the stairs, standing up to face off with him. "I'm sorry I ever thought about kidnapping you," he spat.
"Good," Xander said calmly, sitting down. "One of your friends from New York's coming down in a minute, he wanted to change." He pointed at the chair. "Spike, technical question. Do you still feel whatever urge it was to take me?"
Spike glared at him but sat down. "It's not as strong," he said.
"Is it just hormones? Or am I putting out something else that's helping my hormonal problem?"
"No, it's just the pheromones," Spike said, looking him over. "Though, you've got an air of 'I'd be good if you took me'. It's a sort of innocence that'll never die."
"Ah. That explains that remark then." He smiled at the vampire. "Would it bother you if I said I'd slept with a Sarthna demon?"
Spike's eyes widened. "You did?" he said faintly. "And you liked it?"
Xander wiggled his hand in the air. "It was part of the job, Spike. Which I'm not doing any more." He leaned closer. "Which is it that tempts people to take me, Spike? I want to save Oz from going batty every time we go out in public."
"Mostly, it's your smell. They catch it then look you over. You look tasty," Spike said, looking him over. "I can't tell ya how to fix it though."
"That's okay, now that I know, I can fix it," Xander told him, relaxing. "So, you picked up Seth because you thought he was me?"
"For a minute, then I noticed how tough he was. Liked him for that, I did." Spike relaxed too. "He's really your brother?"
"Older one," Xander told him. "My mother proved she was a bitch when she dumped him though." He ran a sweaty hand down his leather clad leg. "Spike, is it my clothes? Tonight Angel had to warn off like seven vamps from asking if I was his."
Spike laughed. "No doubt. No, it's not the clothes, though you're an attractive package. Leather actually makes you look more dangerous to us. The more innocent and fluffy you look, the more we want you because of what you are. You're the perfect person to debouch and we want that."
"So, letting him wear the leather helps keep him safe?" Oz asked as he came down the stairs.
"A bit," Spike temporized. He jumped up and gave Seth a hug as soon as he saw him. "You made it," he said proudly, looking him over. "Who's your Sire?"
"Blair," he said with a grin. "He's even letting me become my own person now. Baccarus told him to."
Spike laughed. "Good for you, mate. You're definitely not your brother." He looked the young vampire over. "You did good for yourself. Glad I didn't turn you now."
Seth punched him on the arm, grinning at him. "Yeah, me too. I love my Sire. He likes me to be smart and read." He grinned brighter at Angel. "Did you know that he doesn't want to have children that can be smart?"
"They'd take over on him," Angel said dryly. He looked at Xander. "Were you civil, Spike?"
"Yes," Spike said, rolling his eyes. As soon as Angel was in front of him, he flipped him off, much to the delight of Seth. "So, you're here now?"
Seth nodded, flopping down beside Spike on the couch with Xander on his other side. "Yeah. Sire wants to go talk to some lawyers about handling something for him. Something about a wolf." He shrugged. "I overheard it."
Angel smiled. "I own Wolfram and Heart," he said.
Spike looked at him. "How in bloody hell did you do that?"
Xander smirked as he raised his hand. "They had a loan that was still being paid off with ownership as collateral."
Spike burst out laughing. "Oh, Peaches, you've got your hands full."
"Yes," Angel said, holding up a finger, "but that means that they're too busy to come after me again. I haven't had any problems from them in weeks," he said happily.
"Then it was worth the few hundred grand," Xander said with a shrug. "What about when they decide to retaliate?"
"Then, I can legally have them arrested," Angel reminded them. "I'm the owner, they have to turn over all papers that I ask for." He smirked. "We're working it out now. They're supposed to be ethical, moral, and nice."
Oz snickered. "Good job. Tell us if you need to hide."
"I will," Angel said, reaching over to pat him on the head. "Xander gave me the best present that night." He looked around. "Spike, where's Stake?"
"Loungin' on your bed, same as always." He leaned closer to Seth. "Xander forced a kitten on him. Said it reminded him of me, he did."
Angel nodded at the incredulous look. "I didn't pet him at first, so he bit me. Stake's very much like Spike. They're even about the same color." He got up and went to get his cat, bringing it back so the young vampire could see it. "Seth, this is Stake. And no, Spike, Xander didn't give him to me; Stake snuck into my jacket and came with me of his own free will."
Seth and Spike both looked at Xander, who nodded. "We saw him climb into Angel's pockets and didn't say anything. We knew the cat would make him feel like Spike was still around." Spike flipped him off. "Thank you, but I'm married," he said, showing off his ring. "I'm surprised Angel didn't bring you too."
"Nope, not even," Spike said. "He told me I was grounded."
Seth looked from Spike to Angel and back. "You two really don't have the best relationship, do you?"
"Nope," Spike said. "See, he got a soul and turned into a bloody brooding pouf. Me, I got smart and took my dark princess with me."
"Angel, delivery," Cordelia called down the stairs.
"Coming," Angel called back, getting up to go upstairs and get it. He dropped his cat into Seth's lap. "Watch him for me. He doesn't like Spike."
Seth hesitantly touched the cat's head, and the kitten purred up at him.
"Hey! You don't do that for me," Spike complained.
"He knows who he likes," Oz reminded him. Any further explanation was stopped by the blast of the bomb.
Oz was the first one awake, but that didn't bother him. He found Stake crouched down under the remains of the couch they had been sitting on and reached out to pet him, to reassure him that it was safe again. Then he looked around. The blast had obviously come from the office, it was right above the living room. Xander had been flung forward, so he went to check on him first. He was breathing, his head was intact, he would heal. He walked over to where the vampires were laying, Spike still covering Seth from the blast. He picked up a shard of metal and slit into his wrist, putting it in Spike's mouth. The vampire gradually started to slurp at it, and after a few seconds opened his eyes. He got out of the way, letting Oz do the same for Seth.
Spike stood up and then ran upstairs. Everyone else had been up there. He checked the office, finding only Cordelia and Angel. "Oz!" he yelled.
"In a sec," Oz called back. He came up the stairs with a hardly moving Xander clutching him. "What? Is Angel okay?" He bent down and reripped open his wrist, feeding him.
"How?" Spike asked, then shook his head. "I'm not gonna ask. Find Cordy."
Xander looked around, moving his head as much as he could. He saw a shoe under a cabinet and hit Spike to get his attention, pointing at it. Spike walked over and lifted the filing cabinet, tossing it aside easily. He bent down over her, checking her over. "She's not gonna make it," he called out.
Oz looked down at Angel, who was starting to wake up. "Cordy's gonna die," he whispered.
"No," he moaned, trying to get up. "Spike, help her," he ordered. Xander was shaking his head. "Yes, Spike! Do it!" He glared at Xander. "She's not going to mind!"
Oz stood up. "Can she speak, Spike?"
Spike shook his head, looking at her injuries. "It hit her in the head first. Part of it's crushed." He looked at Angel, then at Xander. "You'd rather see her dead?" he asked coldly.
"She'll be Dru," Xander mumbled, talking as loud as he could while the flames worked on the inside of his body.
"You don't know that," Angel told him firmly. "I turned Dru and made her that way."
Xander grabbed him and shook him. "I know Cordy!" he said. "She'll become Dru!"
Spike growled and pushed Xander down. "I'm gonna save her." He bit into her, letting her suck on his injured palm. He felt her go as the sirens started to get closer.
Angel looked around and grabbed his cat, he was standing right there by his feet. "Go get Seth, Spike. We can rescue her from the morgue." He waited until his childe was gone. "Xander, I did that to Dru," he said quietly. "Willow didn't turn out bad."
Oz shook his head. "What he was trying to say was that Cordelia's got an unstable side already. The demon's going to get it and bring it out. We saw it the night I caught Xander cheating with Willow."
Angel shook his head. "I've never seen it."
"Only when fighting," Xander mumbled.
Oz turned to look at him. "Come on, we're going to take you home." He led him out the door as a fire engine pulled up. "No fires," he told the fireman. "It was a bomb, we think." He walked them over to their car, sitting on the hood and cradling Xander gently. "Are you healing?" he whispered in his ear. Xander nodded. "Good. I want to take you home." He shook his head at the paramedic coming over. "We were knocked out but he's fine. We were downstairs when it went off." He clutched Xander tighter as a bodybag was brought out. "We'll be here for her too," he whispered. He waved Willow over as she ran up. "Everyone's fine but Cordy. Spike pulled a Buffy on her though."
Willow went paler. "He did?" She looked at Xander. "Didn't you tell them about her problem?"
"I did," Oz told him. "Angel didn't believe me." He shrugged at her dirty look. "He tried, but he's having problems speaking right now." He glared at the paramedic coming over to them. "It's shock," he said.
"I just want to make sure there's not any bleeding."
Xander looked back at Oz, who shrugged. "It wouldn't hurt."
Xander opened his mouth and the paramedic shined a light down there. The paramedic pulled back and looked at Oz. "What's that?" he asked calmly.
"He's healing. He'll be fine." The paramedic nodded. "Just forget about it, and everything will be fine."
Xander patted down his side, then looked at Oz.
"Um, did anyone find a katana? Xander was showing off our wedding present."
A fireman walked over with it, handing it over. "You're lucky. It was under the girl's body." He frowned at the stunned paramedic. "New guys. Always gets them the first time. You guys all right?"
"We were downstairs," Oz told him. "We were knocked out for a few but we're fine. Xander's got a few bruises but he'll be fine too."
Willow bounded over to Angel when he came out with Seth and Stake, pulling him down to whisper in his ear. Angel looked down at her in shock, then over at Xander. He walked over to where they were sitting, putting his kitten in his pocket. "She really is?"
"Yeah, she really is," Willow told him. "She's gonna be the next Dru pretty soon. You'd better go stop her."
"I will," Angel promised. He looked at his building, then at Willow. "Go get Cordy some clothes, we'll come to your place today."
"I'm sure my Sire wouldn't mind if you came with us," Seth offered. "He's very polite when these things happen." He looked at Spike. "You could come too."
"I'll do that," Spike said, looking at Angel. "After." He looked at Willow. "She's mine." She pulled him down and told him the same thing she had told Angel. "Fine. I've seen it before. Go get her somethin' to wear. I'll meet you down there." She nodded and ran off. He looked at the couple. "You two okay?"
Oz nodded. "We heal."
Spike grinned. "Yeah, I tasted that. Never had that sort before. Gonna give me some more?"
Xander glared at him. "Mine!"
"Yours," Seth agreed, backing off. He pulled Spike with him. "Come on, I'd better go call my Sire before he ..." He stopped as a long, black Cadillac drove by, waving at the window. One of them rolled down and he leaned inside, telling his Sire's second in command what had happened. He came back out. "My sire invites you, Angel, and all of your family that need it, to come stay with us for a few days."
Angel nodded, walking over. "I'll come over tonight. I have to stay with Willow tonight to make some plans and make sure that my other children are safe." He looked at Spike. "You can have him if you want. I want him safe."
Seth grinned. "Of course." He opened the door, letting Spike get in. "We'll stop and get her while we're gone. Don't worry about that." Angel nodded so he got in and the car pulled away.
Angel looked at Xander. "Your brother's in a very odd position," he told him. He walked away, heading for Willow's house. He had already told the firemen where to find him so he could come back and paw through the wreckage for his things.
Oz slid off the car, bringing Xander with him. He got his husband settled into the front seat, with the back tipped back so he could nap, and then got in to drive. Xander crawled over to lay his head on his lap, taking comfort from it. And so did Oz. He started the car and drove away, heading home. They'd wait and see what became of Cordelia.
Methos came out as soon as he heard the engine, swearing as he saw how limp Xander was in Oz's arms. "Is he all right?"
"He's sleeping, but he's pretty torn up inside," Oz told him, carrying his mate in through the house and into their room. "Angel's place got bombed," he told Giles when he woke up. He tucked Xander in and got out of Methos' way so he could be checked over.
"He's healing," Methos pronounced. "Oz, can you transfer any of your quickening over to him? It'd make it go faster."
Oz shrugged but laid down beside him, touching their hands together. He willed his quickening across to his mate, doing as Ramirez, a former student of Methos', had taught him. After a few seconds, a flickering blue flame joined their hands, and Oz forced his quickening over to Xander, not allowing any of his to come across. Xander needed the energy more right now.
Xander's whole body arched up and he screamed hoarsely as the energy ripped through him, but by the time he had calmed down, most of his internal injuries were healed. He blinked up at Methos and gave him a weak smile before rolling into Oz's body and forcing Giles to cuddle up behind him. "We'll deal with whatever she does," he told Methos, closing his eyes. "Oz, are you all right?"
"I've been all right since I woke up," he told him, stroking down his young husband's back. He looked over at Giles. "Expect Angel. Spike turned Cordelia because she was dying."
"Oh, no," Giles sighed, clutching Xander to him. "We'll deal, he's right about that."
Oz nodded and rested his head on top of Xander's, that was how he liked to be held when things got to be this bad.
Angel knocked on the door, waiting impatiently until it was opened. "How's Harris?" he asked Giles as he walked past him.
"He's better. He's been in bed all day with Oz," he told him, leading the way into the living room. "How's Cordelia?"
"She knew. She waited until Spike got there and screamed and ranted at him for a while. Then she staked herself." Angel hung his head. "I didn't know, Giles, but she knew the demon had gotten hold of her bad side. That's what Spike said she screamed at him."
"I said she was going to become the next Dru," Xander said wearily from the hallway. He walked out, still gripping Oz's hand as tightly as he could. "Was everyone else all right?"
"Yeah, they're all fine. Blair even said that he thought my cat was a cute affectation. I told him my soul wanted it and the cat agreed with me." He shrugged with one shoulder. "He laughed but Stake's safe. Your brother's his most cherished thing in the world, Xander. You don't have to worry about him."
"What about Spike?" Oz asked, sitting them both in his reading chair.
"He's fine too. Blair thinks he's cute." Angel sighed, standing up. "Xander, I should have listened to you last night. She staked herself almost as soon as she woke up."
Xander nodded. "I heard. When's the memorial service?"
"You're being very calm," Giles complimented.
"I knew what she was going to do," Xander told him, looking up at him. "She told me once what would happen if she was ever turned. I told her goodbye a long time ago, Giles," he said, looking down at his hands. "We don't last that long when we do what we do."
"I know, and I'm sorry you lost her this soon," Giles said, giving him a hug. He shared a look at Oz, who nodded.
"I'll be fine," Xander said, pushing him away. "I knew this was going to happen and I'll be fine." He looked up at Angel. "Do they know who sent it?"
"Yeah," he said with a cruel smile. "I've already taught that lesson. They'll never do it again." He nodded at Giles. "I thought you should know," he said quietly. He left them alone.
Xander looked up at Giles. "You knew, same as I did, that none of us were expected to live through our teens," he reminded him quietly. "Those of us who have, have been very, very lucky, Giles. We all knew that." He turned in Oz's lap to stare at the backyard. "I don't have any more friends to lose," he whispered.
"We still have Willow and Buffy," Oz reminded him. "They've changed but they're still here."
"Yeah, but we're not friends with them the way we used to be. Cordy was the last one of the gang that I was really friends with," he told his husband, hugging him around the neck. "I'm going to miss that."
"Me too," Oz agreed. "We'll go to the memorial, and host one if Angel doesn't," he said gently, going back to his backrub. "Want to go back to bed?"
"No, I want to go float in the pool," Xander told him. He got up and stripped on his way out, diving into the water as soon as he was close enough.
Giles sat on the arm of the chair, watching his young husband swim off his grief. "Maybe you should consider taking him away for a few days," he said gently.
"No, Xander won't want that," Oz told him, giving him a hug. "He's got a right to be upset. I'm upset too. He's been comforting me all day and now he needs us." He got up and walked out to go sit on the edge of the pool, letting Xander come to him whenever he was ready.
Giles went back to his studying. There was a wonderful view of the pool from the second floor if you sat in the right spot. He'd sit there and read up on the binding they had done to each other. There were still some anomalies to be explained.
Xander signed for the package from the delivery man, looking at it curiously. "Why would Angel send us stuff by courier?" he called as he walked into the house.
Oz got up and came over to look at the box. He immediately snatched it from Xander's hands and ran outside with it, throwing it away as hard as he could. Then he had to stop a few of the animals that had followed him from trying to retrieve it.
The bomb went off with a shocking blow, flatting Oz and the animals to the driveway. When he could see again, he looked at the front of the house, running up to the wreckage to see who had been hurt. "Xander? Giles?" he called.
"We're out back," Xander called faintly.
Oz walked out to the back of the house, looking at everyone huddled against the back of the fence. "Are you guys okay?"
"We're fine," Xander said quietly. "Are Rocky and Fluffy?"
Oz looked around, then went back through the house to go get the animals, bringing them back to the backyard. He handed them over. "They've probably got injuries," Oz told him. "Come on, we'll take them to the vets while Giles deals with this."
"I'll take him," Giles said, standing up and getting free of the animals. "They like you better." He led Xander to the garage, taking the two cats so the young man could get in.
Oz pulled over the inner gate so none of the animals could get close to the house, then headed back to the wreckage of the house. The whole front was damaged. There were large cracks in the front of the house, a few pieces had fallen out and were lying on the driveway. The front of garage showed similar damage and the bottom of the open door looked warped. Oz looked back at the floor-to-roof windows on the back of the house and shook his head. "Too many cracks," he said as he heard sirens coming. "I will get whomever did this," he promised himself. "Even if it's the last thing I do, no one hurts my Xander this way." He jumped out of the way as the cop car pulled up. "It was a letter bomb," he said tiredly, pointing in the direction he had thrown it. "We were attacked the other day at a friends house, this is all about something that he owns." He sat down on the step, after brushing some of the siding off it.
The cop looked down at him. "Where're your men, sir?"
"At the vets. A few of the animals followed me out when I went to go throw it. They're living but not real healthy. We go to the guy that's about half a mile away." He looked up. "The rest of the animals are in the back yard. We installed a secondary gate to give them a smaller run area towards the back of the fenced in area. They're in there."
The officer nodded and went to make a call on his radio. Pretty soon, there was a Blazer pulling in that had 'Fire Chief' stenciled on the side.
Oz looked up at him, then pointed where he had thrown it. "I tossed it," he said calmly.
The Fire Chief gave him a hug. "At least you're all right."
Oz snorted. "I usually am. I'm just glad they're all right." He looked around. "Um, I forgot the illusion thing, right?"
The Fire Chief smiled at him. "We're just figuring that you're one of the semi-human inhabitants. We've known you've been back for a while now, Oz." He stepped back and looked at the officer. "Go find out where the bomb landed. I've got to see whether or not this can be fixed."
"Not without a lot of work," Oz told him., standing up to follow him into the house. He did a quick check on the animals, then went back to following the Fire Chief around.
TO BE CONTINUED...