GHS in Space 2: Own Personal Hell.
Oz found Giles' book beside his bed and sat down to consider it. He hadn't particularly liked Giles' new attitude, or the smarmy way he'd been looking at Xander recently. He opened the cover and frowned at the unfamiliar language inside. "I want a translation," he told himself. He took the book with him as he went up to his room. It was night time outside. He needed a cloak, and he needed one of Xander's spare summoning necklaces. He snuck out of the house by the back gate which led directly into the market, wandering casually down to the section where they'd freed some demons a few months back. He found the book stall easily enough, but checked to make sure no one was around before he pulled out the book. "I need a translation of this," he said, pushing back the hood of his cloak to show who he was. "My mate's been changing since he bought it," he said to stop the laughter.
The bookseller looked at the language the book was written in and shook his head. "I have it in no other languages. Except one rare and priceless copy that one of the creatures down the alleyway wrote for himself before he left." He spread his hands. "This is all I can do for you."
"How much for a copy in the original and the one in the demon language?"
"Thirty bronze each, non-negotiable."
Oz hissed, thinking about their finances. They had it, but it was the little they'd been able to save. Xander was planning a major trip through the market right before they left. He shook his head. "Then just one in the original language," he said, pulling out the bag with their money so he could count out the change. "Which way to the portal?"
"End of the alley and to the right, but you need permission to use it," he said quietly. "Since your mate sent back the creatures, there's been some restriction on using that one. No one wants to bring through more... troublesome creatures."
Oz nodded and took the second copy of the book, heading back to his house. He needed some help if he was going to go home. He carefully put Giles' copy of the book back in it's spot and had Sethryn call their sponsor. She liked them enough to help them with this. He paced along the entryway while he waited, trying to figure out how to get this book to someone who might be able to translate it and give him an answer. When she finally came, he pulled her into the sitting room. "I need to get home for a while," he said quietly. "Giles has gotten himself involved in something that I don't like, it's changing him somehow."
She nodded. "I've heard of the book he's been studying. You wish to send that home?"
"I wish to have it independently translated by someone else who uses magic," he explained. "I have two people I can trust with that, but I've got to go home. I've tried to get a messenger here from home, and it can't get here apparently." She nodded. "But the portal is restricted."
"Ah, but the official portal isn't," she told him. "As an ambassador, you're allowed to use it." She led him out to her cart, getting in to fly them there on the floating-air platform. She dropped them next to the official portal and got down to talk to the guards, then she led Oz up to the portal. "Do you have the code for the other side?"
Oz nodded and touched the special bracelet they all wore in case they needed to run home, sending the 'it's okay, I'm me' signal before walking through. He stepped down into chaos, shaking his head at the guards. "Just me. I need to get something to someone to translate for me." He nodded at the Colonel that was in charge, whom he knew was an asshole. "Giles has been reading this and his behavior's changed," he reported as he walked down the ramp, heading to the hallway. "Take me to Danny's office and I'll explain it," he told the Colonel when he was stopped.
As they walked, Oz explained what was going on. Even though the Colonel doubted magic - you could tell by the look on his face - he didn't stop Oz from summoning Micah and a messenger; apparently he'd seen one before. "Micah," Oz sighed when he showed up, giving him a hug. "First, did the demons get home all right?"
"Yes, and I would like to beat my brother about the head for getting me involved. It helped my standing, but it was rather a mess there for *months*."
"The people who had them were killing them for their skins. He didn't think you'd mind." He handed the book to the messenger. "I need this taken to the dark haired one that lives with us, Methos." The messenger nodded and accepted the note he wrote out quickly. "He may ask you to take it on to another one of us. If he does, please do so. It's important. Our mate's behavior has changed because he's been reading it."
"Hold it," Micah said, taking the book to flip through. "I can't read this."
"I'm hoping Methos or Richard can," Oz sighed. He handed over a new necklace, one Xander had had created for them. "This goes to where we are, by way of the same portal that the demons were taken through. If it comes down to it, please make sure someone comes for Giles. I know he's going to do something bad."
"His own personal descent into hell," Micah said sadly. "Do you know what started it?"
"I think he's been developing a Godhood complex since that fight when he took on the person who killed Connor."
Micah nodded. "I understand." He pulled a bag out of his pocket and handed it over. "It was reported that the messengers couldn't get there so I'm trusting you to get this to my brother." He disappeared, the messenger following him.
Oz looked at the Colonel and found General Hammond behind him. "Giles has managed to screw himself," he said quietly, hopping up to sit on the work table. "He's gotten hold of a book that's been warping his mind. I sent it to a person I trust to translate it by way of our friend, Meth." The General nodded. "I mean," he said running his hands through his hair, "he's *changed*. Really changed. He's smarmy now. It's like he's someone totally different...and I don't know what to do about it."
The General patted him on the shoulder. "You'll do what you have to. Do you want to send him back?"
"I might have to, depending on what the book says. I have *no* idea how to handle this one, General, and he's scaring me."
"I understand. Is Xander all right?"
"They're at dinner right now," Oz admitted. "That's the only reason I could do this." He took a breath and then hopped down. "I'd better get back before it's noticed that I'm missing." He let the General lead him back to the gateroom. "I'm sorry if I messed up your nightly order."
"It's daytime here, son, and it's not a problem. We live for the minor emergencies instead of the major ones." He smiled as Oz walked away, heading back to the other planet. He turned to find his Colonel behind him. "Ignore that. And if a dark haired man with a British accent shows up, I want to know ASAP. He's to be let in and shown to my office only." He headed back to said office to finish his paperwork for the day.
Methos looked up as Ray swore, still half asleep. "What?" he mumbled.
"Messenger demon," Ray said, taking the note. "Where's Richard? It's from Oz. Giles is in trouble."
Methos sat up at that and took the note to read for himself, then nodded behind him. "Three doors that way and two floors down," he said, handing the note back. The messenger disappeared and Micah appeared instead. "Is he really in trouble."
"I can feel the evil coming off the book," Micah said with a shrug. "I saw Oz. Xander's apparently having the time of his life," he held up the summoning necklace, "and we have a way there if we need it. Call on me," he said, tossing over a different necklace. Then he disappeared.
Ray snuggled up against Methos' back. "Do you think Giles took a dark quickening that first time?" he asked quietly. His mate shook his head. "He has changed personalities since then."
"No, I think this is more insidious," Methos said quietly, looking at his husband. "I think he's got a God complex. A few of us do manage that... even the most levelheaded among us. Especially when what little powers you had before become magnified by your quickening energy." He put the necklace aside and laid them both down, cuddling his touchstone to sanity. "Ray, I'm worried about him. We don't have a competent way of dealing with people like him."
"If he gave up magic?" Ray suggested.
"It might help, but I'm not sure Richard is strong enough to stop him that way." He squeezed the frail-looking shoulders. "We'll deal. But we need an immortal psychiatrist. We had one but that bloody arsehole MacLeod killed him during his own dark quickening episode. We haven't had one since."
"I heard rumors that one was brought across," Ray said gently. "She's not someone I'd send anyone to though."
"That Doctor Laura chick." He grinned. "From what I hear, her teacher took her head the first time she smarted off and lectured him."
Methos snorted. "Good. I'd likely do the same, though I might be more cruel about it considering all she's done to the American people."
"Maybe you should take up being a shrink," Ray said, poking Methos on the nipple.
"Stop that," Methos growled, moving the hand and holding it. "I don't want to become a therapist; I don't like people that much." He looked over to see the grin. "Though I would know a great deal about trauma and what humans can be put through." He let go of the hand and pulled his love's face over to give the mouth a kiss. "You could do that though."
"Nope., I'm not the one you want givin' people lessons in humanity." He snuggled his head down. "We do need one who'll understand though. Maybe we should find a pre- immie in college and force them into psychology classes?"
"Maybe," Methos agreed, settling in to go back to sleep. There was nothing they could do yet. Not until they were called on.
Richard sat up as the messenger appeared, giving it a surprised look. "My, I haven't seen one of you in centuries," he said as he took the note and the book. "Do stay for a moment." He flipped open the note and read it, frowning at the book afterwards. He looked inside at the text and groaned. "Can you please take a note to my house? I need some things I foolishly left down there, I had no idea my little vacation was going to turn into a desperate fight against the paranormal." He quickly wrote out a note, with his address on the front, and sent it with the messenger demon. "What has he done now?" he asked as he sat down to try and decipher this strange language. After the first word was figured out, he felt a chill start and got up to set up a containment area for the book. He didn't need that sort of thing, but he wouldn't allow an accident. Methos would kill him if he damaged any part of the resort.
"Need somethin'?" Strife asked as he appeared with his favorite playtoy, Ethan Rayne. "He's gonna help. I don't like it when Xander's in trouble," he said with a scowl.
"Of course, Lord Strife," Richard said easily. "I could use the help of a Chaos sorcerer, and a better system to keep the book from damaging either of us."
Ethan touched the cover of the book and glared at Richard. "Who had this?"
"Your buddy, Giles," Strife told him with a cruel grin. "He's puttin' my favorite boy in trouble and I want it stopped."
"I want it stopped now that I've felt it," Ethan told him haughtily. He looked Richard over. "You're not new to this, are you? I *abhor* working with new people."
Richard laughed. "I'm older than written language, boy, and I've been doing this almost as long. I've forgotten more about Chaos than you've ever known." He looked at the God. "I really do need something to make sure it doesn't infect us also. It's an insidious creeping that crawls over you as you read."
"Done," Strife said, waving a hand over them. "I'll go talk to Auntie and we'll get this fixed." He disappeared.
Ethan jumped as the demonic messenger reappeared with the two boxes and the large duffle bag Richard always had packed and in his closet. "Thank you," Richard told him, taking it. He pressed a coin into his hand and watched as he left.
"What was that?" Ethan asked.
"A messenger demon. Oz sent it with the book." He took out his working supplies, laying them around the room so they could get started. "You could help," he suggested when Ethan just stood there staring at the book.
"Yes, of course," Ethan said, grabbing some candles to lay out in the pattern.
Oz walked back through the portal with a sigh. "I've gotten it to them," he said, hugging his sponsor. "He'll be fixed soon enough." She didn't look pleased though so he pulled back. "Did I just make some big social boo-boo?"
She shook her head, leading him back to her platform. "There's been a problem at the restaurant they were in," she said quietly. "Apparently Giles did something that Xander thought was inappropriate, and Xander tried to walk out. Giles stopped him and did something to him, making him follow him out of the restaurant."
"Oh, crap," Oz sighed. He checked the portal, but it was still open. "I need to send a desperate plea. Can you get more of us up here?"
"The Queen's guards have started after them," she noted. "Did you know he was like this?"
"He never was before," Oz sighed, scratching through his hair again. "He's changed, especially since he got that book. I need to hide the original."
"As soon as I heard, I told Blair that you had left with a book and he went to hide it for you," she soothed, getting him started back toward their house. "What is so special about you three?"
"I'm immortal," he said quietly. She laughed. "No, really. Giles, Danny, and I are all immortal. We can only really, truly die if you cut off our heads. Every other type of death we heal from."
"Which is why you were picked," she said blandly.
He nodded. "It was felt that we'd be able to protect ourselves if something happened. Danny, Blair, and Jack are the military's top team for first contact, but Xander and I were chosen because of what we are and what we've done." He laid a hand on her arm. "You've got to understand. One of the times we traveled across realm boundaries, Xander ended up a courtesan, a political mover and helper in a royal Court. He wouldn't have come without me, but he is one of the best people to make contact with a new species. Either they'll kidnap him or they'll accept his presents."
"Which is the secondary reason you were chosen?" she asked.
"No, the combination of both made us the only choice," he corrected. "The General counts on Xander to make him presents for new cultures, and has come to appreciate the way he sees things. This time, everything that we are counted somewhat against us. If the General could have found a way to just send Xander, I think he would have." He smiled at her. "He thinks I hold Xander too tightly."
She patted him on the head. "You do...but it's a good thing. With that man's natural charm, he'd be able to take over some small countries."
"Exactly why he was chosen," Oz told her.
She nodded. "I see. It is a good plan. And Daniel, do his friends know?"
"They do. He died during a mission and came back. That's how he came across, that's what we call it, and that's also how his teammates found out, just on a different mission."
"I see." She landed beside the house. "At least you haven't lied."
"No, not at all," Oz agreed. "We just left out the fact that we're damn hard to kill." He led the way into the house, stopping in Blair's room to check on the book. "Micah and Richard have it," he told Daniel, who nodded. "You don't let that book out of your sight. If Giles shows up, you kill him impermanently, and you start yelling for me. Got it?" He got a nod so went up to his room to get his gear. "Damn, he didn't carry it," he yelled when he found Xander's sword.
"Your mate wouldn't try to hurt him, would he?" she asked as she walked into their bedroom.
"Yes, he would. Xander's the queen of stubbornness," Oz said, sitting on the bed. "If Giles has started on a God complex, then he won't take no for an answer. Xander will end up fighting." He looked up at her. "He does have a secret weapon, but he's got to be in the greatest danger to use it." He shuddered. "Giles is so gonna pay for this one," he said, pulling his knees up to rest his chin on.
"This is where you bring the pain home," Jack said as he walked in. He sat down beside Oz, clapping him on the back. "We'll get Xander back from him, no matter how insane he's suddenly gotten."
"I gave Micah and Richard a way up here to help us if we need it," Oz said, looking at their sponsor.
"I'll see to it that they get to you if they come up," she agreed. "Oz, I'm sure your mate is fine. Xander's a very strong man."
"Yeah, but Giles is the only one who might be able to hurt him." He shuddered. "That damn book."
"Maybe damned book is more correct," Daniel said from the doorway. "There was just a report on the news. They've caught wind of the abduction. The newscaster joked about you going after him and giving another splendid show of fighting."
"I should," Oz agreed. "It's my responsibility. Giles is my student."
"Giles is *Methos'* student," Daniel corrected. Oz looked at him. "He said so."
"Did they say if they've made it off planet?" she asked.
"No, not at all," Daniel told her. "Is that possible?"
"If he's managed to...enchant Xander that way, he might have gone after an independent pilot also. If he does, then the Queen will be furious but nearly helpless to stop him him." She saw the worried looks. "I'll go talk to her. You stay here until you're called for." She looked down at Oz. "I won't pass that information along," she told him. He nodded, looking a little relieved.
"You told her?" Daniel asked.
Oz nodded. "I felt it was necessary. We needed someone on our side who knew." He shuddered again. "I'm not sure which one I should worry about."
"Worry about Xander," Daniel suggested. "If Giles could make him stop a classic 'storming out' fit, then there's no telling what he can do to his mind." He sat on Oz's other side, pulling him into a hug. "Listen, Xander is the queen of stubborn. You've said that many times. Even if Giles believes he's God, he won't be able to break him easily, even with whatever magic he's got. Xander's got a safety cushion. We just have to make the most of the safety cushion. Who did you give the book to?"
"Richard, via Micah and Methos." Oz shook himself. "He's mine, we need to keep this in the family."
"We are a family," Daniel reminded him. "The whole group is a family."
"A very strange family," Jack added.
"True," Daniel said, frowning at his best friend. "Not helping though."
"Sorry." Jack stood up and walked over to stand next to where Blair was leaning. "It'll be okay. I've seen Xander out-stubborn a few people."
"But none of them had magic," Blair said quietly. "That's the real wildcard here. If Giles can use more of his magic than he already has, then it starts to reshape the playing field. Giles has said that this planet doesn't have a lot of ambient magic to draw from so he's weakened here. If he can find somewhere that magic is native and a wild force, then he's able to do a lot more."
"So being on or off the planet is the biggest factor?"
"Probably," Blair agreed. He looked over at Jack. "Do you ever wish you had a normal life? Back when things were simpler?"
"Yeah, but back then I was a bastard," Jack said, giving him a fond smile.
"Jack, you're still a bastard, you're just a nicer one," Daniel told him. He looked at his lover. "It's a kidnapping. It should feel normal for you. You've been there before. Any words of wisdom?"
Blair shook his head and walked out. "I'm going to go into the market and see if there's anything besides rumors. Need anything?"
"A few things," Oz said, grabbing his cloak. "I can't sit here." He made sure he had his sword under it and followed his friend out into the bustle of the crowd. He made Blair head down to the food section, going to get them a small drink of the most powerful wine in the world. This stuff made hundred year old moonshine seem like a minor kick in the pants. He ordered a single shot, but got Blair something lighter, and tipped it back immediately. Then they went shopping for rumors and for treats for when Xander came back.
Oz looked over as someone came running towards them, his hand on the hilt of his sword. The guardswoman stopped and stared down at him. "We have your husband in sight," she said, barely breathing hard. "He is off planet, but he's still safe."
Oz relaxed and moved his hand away. "How far away?"
"A few hours. There's a guard within striking distance of him. One of the Space Marines is coming to his rescue also. They should have word of him soon."
Oz nodded. "Thank you. Should we go home and wait?"
"The Queen has offered you a spot waiting with her, sir. She would like it if you came and attended to her. She'll get the rest of your group."
Oz stood up, bringing Blair with him. "We'll follow you." She strode away and they followed, sharing little looks. When they got to the palace, they weren't searched, merely led into the private throne room. "M'lady," Oz said, bowing to her. "Thank you for the timely news and the place to wait."
She smiled at him. "I like your mate," she said bluntly. "He's great fun for a barbarian." She laughed at the look on Blair's face. "It wasn't that long ago that you were living in wooden thatch huts you know."
"I know that we're mere infants on the scale of your timeline," Blair agreed. "Has there been any more news?"
"Not yet," she sighed. She looked at Oz again. "What would you have me do with him?"
"I would escort him back to our friends, who are figuring out how to deal with him right now," Oz said honestly. "Giles has been slowly changing over the last few years, but ever since he picked up a book in the market place, he's been changing rapidly. I sent a copy of the book to my friend, who also uses magic the way Giles does, and he's working on a solution right now."
She thought about it then nodded. "I can see that. I will banish him. It will not affect the diplomatic negotiations, but there will be some who will wonder if all humans are like him."
"There are bad people in every society," Blair said quietly. "We have as many tyrants and mentally ill people as other cultures. In some cases, they're firmly held in institutions. In other cases though, they've managed to get to the level of running a country." He shrugged. "It might as well be a universal constant. People want power; that's what corrupted Giles."
She nodded. "Very well said. We have made a lot of progress with the mentally ill, but no one can really help the power hungry." She looked at Oz. "Do you still wish your friends to take care of him for you?"
"Yes, M'lady. I think that one of our friends will be able to lock Giles away from what power he has. If we can do that, then there's a better chance of him recovering. This all comes down to personal power and how he's chosen to use it. He's even cheated on us because of his magic. That's what started our fighting, which we're still trying to work out. He will be fixed...or I'll have to do something to fix it permanently."
She came down to give him a hug, hating the sad look on his face. "I will banish him and set up protocols so that none of the power hungry will get any of the new technology."
"There's people like that in every military," Blair pointed out. "But General Hammond knows who's safe to give it to."
"I've met the delightful General," she said with a smile. "A very good story teller and a very interesting dinner companion. He will be coming to work with us when he retires to take charge of just that issue."
Blair smiled. "Good. He won't do well in true retirement." He looked over his shoulder as other people walked in. "Giles is going to be banished."
"Good," Daniel said, coming over to give him a hug. "And us?"
"You're delightful too," the Queen said, giving him a smile. "You have nothing to fear."
"I'll be taking Giles back personally," Oz told them. "You will guard Xander."
"I will," Daniel swore.
"I'll go back with you," Jack told him. "That way no one on the base will be able to say anything." He looked around the room, then nodded at a screen. "Is that the chase?"
"It is," she agreed, going back to her throne and sitting down. "I sent for seats, they should be here soon," she told them. Oz moved closer so he could watch. "That silver one is a member of the Space Marine Corps. He's there because they've moved outside of our sphere of influence." Oz nodded. "If there's a problem, he'll - I think it's a male - will take care of it." She leaned back as her servants carried in the big marshmallow chairs. "Sit, wait with me," she offered.
Blair and Danny put Oz between them, holding him tightly while they watched the space battle.
Giles wasn't any match for a Marine, but he did manage to get the ship away and force it to land on the closest planet. The screen went blank as soon as the ships landed, and there was a great sigh of disappointment.
"They'll get him back," the Queen reminded them. "Space Marines are known for their tenacity."
"All Marines are known for their tenacity," Jack told her. "Even the ground pounders."
She laughed. "I'm sure. I haven't met one of your Marines yet. I look forward to seeing the...War Games I believe they're called, next month. Your General invited me; he said it was a fake invasion scenario."
"We do that to stay sharp," Jack told her. "If he doesn't want to stay and give you commentary, I'll gladly do it for you," he offered.
"I would enjoy that," she said, giving him a smile.
"How long before we know if Xander's safe?" Jack asked.
She waved a hand. "It depends on whether or not Giles has moved Xander off his ship yet. It would also depend on how well your young man fights back."
"He always fights back," Oz told her. "If he's got a chance, he'll use it."
"He doesn't have his sword," Daniel reminded him.
"He's got something better," Oz promised, patting him on the thigh. "We found out about it a few years back; he's got a soul sword."
"No way," Blair breathed. Oz nodded, looking at him. "But those are myths."
"So are we," Daniel pointed out. "What is a soul sword?"
"It's a physical manifestation of your soul as a blade that comes directly out of your hand," Blair told him quietly, not wanting to share this - even with Jack. "Legends speak of people with too much soul being able to protect themselves that way. It's supposed to be stronger than any metal ever forged, but only if you haven't given up. Its strength is the strength of your soul, especially the extra part."
"And when we bonded, Xander got part of mine and Giles'." Oz looked at the screen again. "I hope Giles doesn't remember our discussion about that. There was so much going on during that time that he might not remember it."
"Let's hope he won't," Daniel soothed, hugging Oz. "Have you sent out a 'help' message to his friends?"
"No, I hadn't even thought about it," Oz said quietly. He laid his head on Daniel's shoulder and thought about Strife and Cupid. They'd want to know. He sent them a short prayer for Xander to fight this time, and a hope that Cupid would help Richard if no one else was. He felt a wave of relief float over him and relaxed farther, allowing himself to start dozing lightly.
Blair looked over at Oz, then at the Queen. "I think his prayer was answered," he told Daniel. He nodded at the screen as it started to broadcast again. "Is that the planet?"
"It is," the Queen said. "It's a dry, arid place that's not really suitable for colonization right off. We're saving planets like that until we're running out of room or if a group specifically asks for someplace like that." She looked down at Oz. "He was obviously tired."
"He prayed to the Gods Xander prays to and it knocked him out," Daniel explained.
"Do his Gods show up?" she asked. At the confused look she smiled. "We have a few that do show up from time to time, and a few that are only memorialized in their works. Of course, we have one that's a practical joker too," she said with a one sided shrug. "She likes to show up in the market, but what else can you expect from a three year old Goddess of Trouble."
"They show up," Jack told her, nodding. "I've seen one of them."
"They do?" Daniel asked.
"You've seen them both but you tend to forget about it on purpose," Jack told him, leaning over to pat him on the back of the head. "Don't worry. They don't like to bother you, but Strife does like Ethan."
Blair snickered. "He would. Chaos sorcerer."
"Good point," Jack said with a matching smile. He nodded at the camera. "Is that the Marine?"
"It is not," she said, frowning. "I have no idea who that is. All our Marines wear a light gray color with their insignia on their arms." She shrugged. "That planet may have a population, we've never explored it that closely." She jumped up when she saw Xander fighting against Giles, a sword in his hand. "I thought you said he didn't bring it."
"He didn't," Blair told her, looking over at his lover for a decision to tell her or not. Daniel nodded. "There's a legend among some of our earlier cultures about blades formed from part of your soul. It can only come out during your greatest and most desperate fights. Xander's shown that he had one before, and he must feel that it's a kill-or-be-killed situation to have it manifest now."
She nodded as she sat back down. "There's many strange tales among your earlier people."
"There are," Blair agreed. "To them, anything could be magical or a gift from the Gods. There's many legends that are only that, the fiction someone's mind has made up to explain phenomenon. There's talk of magical beasts, enchanted forests, even races of beings that are greater than humans. None of it has ever been proven though," he said with a sad smile.
"And those creatures that your Xander rescued from the market?"
"Sentient beings from another plane," Daniel told her. "He's connected to that area of life by a oath of adoption when he was younger. He returned them to some officials among their species and they got them home for him."
"I see. Do your people work with them?"
"To be truthful," Jack said, "most of us don't believe they exist, and when we're forced to admit it by evidence, we tend to be cruel to them because religion has taught us that they're evil."
"That's one of those things that we're working on getting past, but it's probably a long way down the list. As Jack said, most people don't believe demons really exist outside of some intellectual manifestation of evil, that's what the Catholics taught us they were."
She nodded. "I would like to hear more of this topic."
"Ask Xander," the three awake men said together.
"He's related to one by adoption," Blair said again. "He knows a lot more than we do."
She smiled. "Another excellent reason to get him back." She looked at the screen and frowned when she saw Giles with his hand wrapped in Xander's hair and the younger man on his knees. "I think he's in trouble. Oh, the Marine," she said happily, pointing him out. "Oh, dear," she sighed as Giles shot something into the man. "His family will not be pleased."
"Not gonna happen," Oz groaned, arching up and squeezing his eyes shut.
On the screen, Xander looked up and rammed his fist into Giles' balls, then jumped up and kicked him under the chin. He freed his hair and then gave the older man another kick with the most disgusted look on his face. Then he tipped his head back and yelled something that they couldn't hear.
"Get him before Giles comes to," Jack suggested. "It won't be that long."
A woman on the screen ran into view and grabbed Xander, ending up on her butt. She said something to him and he shook his head, helping her up. She led him back to his ship, letting her fellow guard get Giles. The screen blanked again and the Queen looked down at them. "He's still asleep?"
"No, I think he's sending energy to Xander," Daniel said, then he shrugged. "They've got a unique bond. When they mated, before they married, they joined their souls somehow. Xander has become more like Oz since then."
"That's an understatement," Jack mumbled.
Blair glared at him. "And aren't you glad?"
"Definitely," Jack agreed, loudly this time. "Xander gets into too much trouble to not defend himself by sneaky means. The sympathy pains I feel are nothing compared to what Xander must be feeling."
Strife appeared. "Ya think?" he asked dryly. He leaned down and tapped Oz on the forehead. "You can let him go now," he said quietly. "He's on his way back. Even Methos let him go."
Oz opened his eyes and glared at the God. "My man."
"Hey, not the issue, but you can't wear yourself out like that. You've gotta deal with Giles and Xander in a few hours." Strife looked around. "Much more tasteful than Hera did with ours," he noted, nodding in appreciation at the lewd artwork. "Much nicer and more my style." He looked at the woman on the throne and gave her a grin. "Hey, toots, what's shakin'?"
"That's the regional queen," Daniel said delicately. "Queen Nethisha, this is Strife, God of Mischief. One of Xander's gods."
"Yeah, he makes a great priest to me," he said with a grin.
The Queen burst out laughing. "Yes, that would explain his life!" She got up and came down, looking him over. "Would you stay and tell me about your Gods?"
"Sure, more interestin' than home right now, and I wanna check on Xander when he gets back anyway," he agreed, leading her away.
"I think we should probably go home now," Blair suggested, rolling onto the floor so he could get up, and pulling Oz and Daniel up once he was standing. He left Jack to Daniel, working on getting Oz home.
Daniel grunted as he heaved Jack up, giving him a smile. "Are you gaining weight?" he teased.
"Probably. Too much Treat." He walked out, following the other pair. "Did they do what I think they did?"
"Yup," Daniel said, nodding. "They found a way to share energy between the four of them."
Giles rocked from the blow Oz sent at his chin, falling down again. "Oz!"
"You stupid fuckoff," Oz growled. "You had to hurt Xander? You *will* be fixed this time... one way or another." He pulled Giles up and helped put the chains on him. He walked over to where Xander was shivering in Blair's arms. "I'll be home soon," he promised quietly. "Will you be okay with Danny and Blair?"
Xander nodded and wrapped his arms around his mate's body. "Thank you. I felt you," he whispered. "Go and come back soon. I need comfort."
"I know. Let Blair and Danny hold you until I get back." Oz turned and grabbed Giles, leading him to the platform that would take them and Jack back home for a little bit.
Blair led Xander to another one, wanting to get him home. "Come on, Oz even bought you really nice treats to spoil you with now that you're home." Xander leaned against him as they took off. "I didn't want to ask, but did he...."
"I'm fine. He hit me a few times because I wouldn't become his new high priest and leave Strife and Cupid." He shuddered. "He's insane with the power, Blair. Totally gone. Richard and Methos are gonna have a time getting him free of this. And his magic's gotten stronger." He shuddered again and leaned harder.
"Shh, buddy, we'll be home soon enough and you'll be in Sam's bathtub since she's not back yet." They landed in front of the house a few minutes later and Blair got Xander upstairs where Daniel was running him a bath. "See, warm and good for you," he said as he helped him undress and get into the water. "Did you need held?" he asked when Xander just sat there.
"I don't know," Xander admitted. "I've never had this reaction from being taken." He looked up. "This is really bad. Even the first time wasn't like this. I wasn't sure who was going to be able to come for me."
Daniel got down and gave him a hug. "Even Strife was going to come for you," he said quietly. "The Queen found him interesting so they're conversing." That got a small smile. "Did you know that their Goddess of Trouble manifests as a three year old girl?" Xander shook his head. "She does. The Queen told us that tonight. She wants to make sure you're okay too. Then she wants to grill you about demons and that sort of thing."
"I can do that," Xander said softly. "What's Oz doing?"
"I know that he got a copy of Giles' book and got it into Richard's hands," Blair told him. "I know he, Meth, and your brother Micah all talked at one point in time. I'm assuming that they're taking him to Richard to beat the crap out of him and lock away his powers." He shrugged at Daniel's dirty look. "I was being honest. The first step to breaking a God complex is to take away the power and make them see how helpless and undeitylike they are."
"Good point," Daniel said. He stripped down to his jockey shorts and climbed in behind Xander, giving him a hug and letting his friend rest against him. "We're here for you too...at least until Oz gets back and locks you in your room to take care of you himself."
Blair stripped and climbed in on the other side, holding Xander too. "We're all here for you, even Sam would be if she were here." He checked his watch. "She should have been back a few hours ago really."
One of the maids stuck her head in and blushed. "The Lady approaches," she whispered.
"We need to be in here, she'll understand," Daniel told her. "Have her come right up here." She nodded and hurried away. "See, we'll shock Sam and everything will be fine."
Sam walked in a while later, running her fingers through her sweaty hair. She stopped when she saw the three men in her tub and glared at them. "If you guys want to do that, go downstairs."
"He was taken hostage by Giles," Blair told her. "We're the only ones here. Oz and Jack dragged Giles home by his nuts."
She shrugged. "So why my tub?"
"Because he needed the warm water and the comfort of being held," Daniel told her. "Go use the big one downstairs. We promise not to peek."
She grimaced. "Like I'd care." She grabbed her towels and headed down to the bathing room.
Xander opened his eyes. "Wow, being in a dominant female society is good for her," he said quietly.
Daniel laughed. "No, she's always like this after a long time away from home." He squeezed Xander tightly. "Don't worry about it, she'll be more normal later. Are you feeling warmer yet?"
"Yeah, I think it was the landing that got me. It was kinda rough." Xander stretched his feet out, getting comfortable. "You're sure you don't mind?"
"We're offering comfort, Xander, not sex. I see no problem in comforting friends," Daniel explained.
"Especially not after being taken by a lover," Blair added. "Just think, Oz has got to deal with a Methos in high-protective mode."
"Ray'll be worse," Xander said, playing with the lone hair that refused to be soaped off. "I wonder what's wrong with this one."
"It's just stubborn," Blair said with a grin and a pinch to Xander's arm. "It's got your personality."
Xander gave him a weak smile. "I think I'll stick to being the pampered and spoiled one for a few weeks."
"What about your forge work?" Daniel asked. "You seem to like to go pound out your frustration."
"I may do that but he doesn't have a large enough forge for me to make anything big enough to work it all out on. And I'd kill jewelry if I was doing it. It'd be a waste of metal." He slid under the water some more. "Maybe I'll sneak home for a few days and work it out at my home forge."
"Maybe," Blair agreed, snuggling into both mens' sides again. "It'll be okay, Xander. If worst comes to worst, you could always start carving stone. That's very physically demanding and probably about as frustration worthy as metal working."
Xander snorted. "Maybe. There's some beautiful statues around here. I'd hate to try and be laughed at."
"We won't laugh," Daniel promised.
"Hey, I've got some really bad pottery from art classes as an undergrad. There's no way I'd laugh after doing that for a semester."
Xander nodded and snuggled in all the harder. He was still cold. "Can we make the water warmer?"
"Of course," Blair said, turning to warm up the water.
Oz walked down the ramp with Giles' chains tightly in his fist. "Hey, General," he said, waving. "Is he here?"
"He's upstairs, he hasn't made it down yet," General Hammond said over the speaker. "Is Giles better?"
"Nope, he still thinks we should be bowing to him." Oz shrugged and dragged Giles with him to the meeting room, where he would meet Methos and Richard. Then they'd take Giles out together and deal with him.
Jack spun off to go make a report about this incident for his boss, and to talk to him.
Oz pushed Giles into the room, giving Richard a wan smile. "He scared Xander so much he's cold." He felt another immortal close by and looked out in the hallway but a young woman was walking past, giving him a sideways glance. "Hold him," he said, going out to catch up with her. "Hey. Oz," he said, holding out a hand. "Mate to Xander, working with Daniel Jackson."
She smiled at that name. "Are you his teacher?"
"One of, but we've been working him pretty hard. Are you new?"
"About six hundred," she admitted quietly. "Do they know?"
"Danny died on a mission," Oz said with a shrug. "The General's ignoring it."
"Good." She stood up straighter. "What's with that one?"
"God complex. He took Xander hostage and pulled him off the planet." She winced. "We're going to fix him. Just ignore the rest of us." He felt another one come up behind him and smiled at his teacher. "Especially this one," he said lightly.
"Oh, I ignore all but Daniel. He gets hurt a lot and ends up in my infirmary." She smiled at Methos. "Sally Jefferson of Riding Whip, Wyoming, currently gone off the map."
Methos shook her hand. "Adam. Teacher to this one," he said, patting Oz on the head. "Also teacher to Daniel Jackson and Xander."
"Is he one of us?" she asked.
"No, we're the ones who did the bonding ritual." Her mouth fell open. "Yeah. That's us."
She shook her head. "Much braver than I am. I'd be worried that I had misjudged what love was."
"I worried about that for months before I asked," Oz admitted. "Anyway, we've got to go deal with our other husband. Live in peace. Come looking for us in Vegas if you need a hiding spot."
Methos handed over a card. "I run Jace's resort presently. Holy ground and neutral territory." He followed Oz back to the meeting area. "There certainly are a lot of us here."
"Wouldn't you like to explore space? Be the first one out there," Oz asked.
"Yes," Methos sighed. "I would have loved to have been. Think about all we could learn."
"So far, Xander's learned how to tease a crowd by banging on metal and making them wet." Oz opened the door and found the General sitting at the head of the table. "Sorry, saw someone I thought I knew." He sat down at the other end of the table. "We want to fix him. Do you have an issue with that?"
"He did put some of our people in jeopardy," General Hammond pointed out.
"I did no such thing," Giles said in his most haughty voice. "They should worship me for what I can do."
"Which you won't ever do again," Richard promised him. "General, this really is among our kind."
"I know, but I want you to know that, if you can't punish and fix him, I want to hold him in a small cell for a few years."
"Agreeable," Methos said smoothly. "But we demand first crack at him for what he did to Xander."
General Hammond waved a hand. "Have fun. I don't like to think of that young man injured."
"He's more scared and in shock," Oz told him. "I left him in Blair and Danny's hands. They were going to put him into a bath and sit with him to keep his mind occupied." He looked at the calendar on the table. "It's been nearly a year?"
"Nearly," the General agreed with a smile. "Has the time flown?"
"We've gotten a routine," Oz told him. He stood up. "I'll come make a report after we take Giles out into the woods."
"No, Oz, we'll do it," Methos told him. "This isn't your fight this time."
"He's my husband," Oz said, his voice deathly quiet.
"He's my student so his training falls to me," Methos corrected. "We agreed that if you lost perspective he was mine." Oz's eyes narrowed. "And Xander agreed with us. You've lost perspective. You want to hurt him for what Xander's been through."
"And you don't?" Richard asked.
"Which is why you get first crack at him," Methos told him. "Then I will, and once Oz has made his report, he'll join us."
Oz shrugged. "As long as I get to hit him at least once more." He leaned back in the chair, watching as his two friends dragged out his husband. "She agreed to banish him without repercussions. Blair made a very valid point about every society having someone who is power hungry."
The General smiled. "I know, son, but it hurts when it's yours." He leaned forward. "Now, tell me, what is your take on the society?"
"I'd personally like to spend some more time up there," Oz said honestly. "They've got some fascinating stories in their history. If the rest of the Empire is as nice as these people, then we might have made the best alliance in our lives."
"Good, good," the General said, still smiling. "Do they see us as radically under them?"
"The Queen occasionally calls us barbarians, but their society is thousands of millennia old. They're a lot more advanced than us, but they do have some faults. I'm still not sure I like the idea of slavery being there."
"Slavery?" the General asked, looking concerned.
"They use it as an alternative to the death penalty," Oz told him, sitting up and resting his hands on the table. "That's what I'm not sure of. I've lived through slavery and while I can see its benefit this way, it's not something that I feel comfortable tolerating."
"Are they mistreated?"
"No, they do most of the physical maintenance of places like the parks. But they are there as an alternative to the death penalty. I'm not sure which is more humane though., which is what's bothering me about it."
The General nodded, making a note on his pad. "That is something I'd like to know more about. Their sexual codes aren't giving you problems?"
"No," he said, smiling faintly. "They need sex to live. It's as much a necessity for them as food is, and Xander has always been a very passionate man. We've had no problems with their sexual conduct. Though, Jack seems to be uncomfortable going out to eat; most restaurants have these privacy curtains you can draw if you're going to go at it at the table. There're definite protocols for sex in public. That fact has eased Jack's discomfort some, but anyone who's the least bit on the 'missionary only, only on Wednesday night' side could have problems." The General made a note of that. "Oh, and Doctor Carter has had some personality changes. She's gotten a lot more demanding and pushy in the last few months, ever since she hooked up with her counterpart at the University."
The General smiled. "The last time I saw her, she was eating candy and being lazy."
"She still does that," Oz said, his smile a little brighter this time. "We all enjoy Treat that much."
"Is that what it's called?"
"No, it's got an unpronounceable name, that's just what we've decided to call it. There is one that's more decadent, but it's also more expensive. It only grows in a few places. Xander says it's better than chocolate during sex. I agree. Even Jack took his allowance and blew it on a piece of that once, just to try it. He spent the next few hours alone in the baths."
The General laughed. "Oh, I want to try that. Anything that can make Jack O'Neill hide in a bathroom for hours is something that I want to get my boss hooked on."
"It costs a fortune," Jack said from the doorway, "but it was definitely worth it, sir." He sat down beside Oz. "Letting them have first swing of the bat?"
"They made me stay until I finish my report. Do you know it's been almost a year?" Oz asked. Jack nodded. "We need to hold a celebration."
"I think we can swing some of that," the General said, tossing over an envelope. "Steve Ellison sent that for you, for the next time you came across. If you can find a way to get it converted, you could have one hell of a party."
Oz looked inside the envelope. "Maybe," he said, thinking about the money changers in the market. "I don't think they've ever seen our money. But, if you can get it switched to something else - like a precious metal - then we'd be able to readily change it."
"Why don't we bring one of the money changers down to look at what they'd like?" Jack suggested. "We could probably get Steve up here to help us with that."
"Maybe," Oz agreed. "It wouldn't hurt to try. I know Xander needs the best treat right now."
"Is Treat addictive?" Jack asked his boss. "I know you start to crave it, or at least I have."
The General nodded. "Slightly. The same way a good brandy can become addicting in its taste. I brought home a piece to have tested. You'll be happy to know it's been added to the list of things we'd like to set up arrangements to trade for. That and one of their metals." He clapped his hands together. "I would like to talk to one of their money changers, see if something we have is worth a lot of money. It would be easier to trade with a semi-precious metal instead of goods."
"I can get one here," Oz offered. "I know right where they are in the market."
"Please." The General smiled at Jack. "Anything else interesting to report?"
"Daniel and Blair have buried themselves in work. Xander's been writing his heart out, and some of it's actually the stuff he's there to record. He's also been doing a day a week at a local jewelry stall." He glanced at Oz. "Apparently he's been bringing in a lot of business. And a few propositions."
"Heard about those," Oz admitted with a wry grin. "Lots of women are starting to value my Xander. They like men who can do more than sit around and deal with the house. It raises their social standing to have an *interesting* husband."
"Yes, sir, Oz was offered the equivalent of what was it?"
"Six hundred gold pieces, which is about sixty thousand bronze.."
"Yeah, six hundred gold for him to break his marriage with Xander so one of the wealthier women could have him as a trophy husband." He smirked. "She saw him dance."
"And her maid got knocked on her ass when she tried to grab Xander too," Oz added dryly. "I pointed out that Xander and I went through a bonding ritual that was unbreakable. She offered me more money so I let Daniel explain it to her. She pouted very nicely but accepted the issue, eventually."
General Hammond started to laugh, getting up to the point where he banged his fist on the table. It was just such a Xander thing, the sort of trouble only that young man could get himself into. Not even his favorite team of troublemakers could do something that bad. It was a good thing Xander didn't work for him; they'd always be running rescue missions.
Methos looked over at the man tied to the tree, shaking his head. "If Cupid hadn't said I couldn't kill you, you would have died horribly by now," he spat. He felt his lover walk up behind him but he ignored him. "How could you hurt Xander that way?"
"I didn't harm him," Giles told him, his eyes glowing slightly. "I merely wanted him to worship me."
"Whoa," Cupid said as he appeared, holding up both hands, one to each side. "Freeze. What's this about him hurting Xander? Strife just got back and said he was still shaking."
Methos glared at Giles, then turned it on Cupid. "Your worshiper," he said, pointing at Giles, "kidnaped your favorite anchor so he would worship him."
"Giles wanted Xander to worship him?" Cupid asked. Methos nodded. "Why?"
"Because I'm *powerful*," Giles hissed. "I can feel all sorts of power now, power that I couldn't even name before is at my fingertips."
"Then let's cut them off, shall we?" Methos suggested pleasantly.
"No," Cupid said, shaking his head. "We lock the powers away."
"No," Richard said, walking up to them. "We lock him away from touching them. We allow him to feel them as a punishment. He should be able to feel all that he's missing, even though he'll never be able to use it again." He looked at Giles. "The alternative is to take his head and spare Xander more emotional pain."
"I can agree with that," Ray said.
"Cutting off his head? I didn't think you were that bloodthirsty," Methos said, pulling him around him to hold.
"Nah, Richard's plan to punish him. Letting him feel the power means that it'll drive him nuts," Ray pointed out. "He'll forever know what he's missing."
"We can do that," Cupid agreed. "Just a slight twitch to the brain."
"Will it regrow?" Ray asked. "With him being what he is and all."
"It shouldn't," Cupid said with a shrug. "I can go find out."
"Please do, I would appreciate the input," Richard said, handing over the book. "This is his last tome. Oz sent it over."
"Dude, that's evil," Cupid pointed out. He was barely holding the book by his fingertips, not wanting to feel the emanations coming from the book, or have them touch his being.
"Yes, and it's infected him," Richard told him. "Lord Strife was helping us cure him of it, but we'll have to slowly leach it from his body as we heal his mind." He smiled at Ray. "I believe you found us a most admirable psychologist for that."
"He works with serial killers with the LAPD," Ray said, smiling at Giles. "You'll like him, promise. He sees guys like you every day."
Methos patted Ray's back. "You do have the most wicked mind, Ray, I appreciate that in a mate."
Ray beamed up at him. "Thanks, Methos. That's one of the nicest compliments you've ever given me."
"Can we get on with it?" Richard asked, frowning at Cupid. "I believe you're influencing them, my Lord."
Cupid grinned. "Yeah, sure I am," he said with a wink. He disappeared with the book, coming back a few minutes later. "Dad captured the book and said he'd take it to Auntie." His eyes crossed then righted. "She said 'yes, you can do that and it will stick until she's damn good and ready to let him go' and 'if he doesn't accept her authority, she'll get another magic user to help you'. Direct quotes. Oh, and she's burying the book."
"Oz still has his copy," Methos said, nodding at Giles. He watched as Cupid sent that message. "Do we bury that one also?"
"No, she's not literally burying it, she's handing it to a priest who used to use magic and decided to 'reform'," he did the finger quotes. "He'll keep the thing from getting into anyone else's hands. The second one should be buried or burned."
"We'll bury it in our backyard," Ray told him. "Not the one in Sunnydale though." He shuddered.
"No, that won't be a good thing," Cupid agreed, watching as Richard's hands started to glow. He watched as the hands attached themselves to Giles' head, one on each side, and Richard looked surprised about it. "Auntie's way pissed at him," he explained with a shrug. "You're her instrument. Sit back and enjoy the ride, dude." He turned to look at Methos. "What's up after this?"
"Then we take him to LA and put him into this psychologist's hands," Methos told him.
"And I'll be near him to oversee his training," Richard said as he pulled his hands back, waving them to get the feeling back into them. "Tell your aunt I'm very happy to be her instrument, but may I please have a little bit of warning next time? I had a binding spell ready."
Cupid snickered. "Sure, I'll pass on the message." He looked over his shoulder as someone appeared. "Hey, Jacey. What's shakin' with Pops?"
"Your father is very pissed at this one," she said, pointing at Methos.
"Me?" Methos asked. "I wasn't even on that planet."
"That's why he's pissed," Jace said as she walked over to them. "I reminded him that you weren't invited. He said something about you being sneaky enough to find your own way there," she repeated with a grin. She frowned at Giles. "Is he all right?"
"Not yet," Ray sighed. "He's got some mental fixing to go." He shook her hand. "I'm Ray."
"We did meet," she said with a smile. "While you had been shot?"
"Oh, yeah." He nodded. "I remember now. Sorry."
"It's all right. After a while, people can become very alike." She smiled at her former teacher. "Methos, Ares would like a discussion with you and Oz."
"He's still in the mountain," Richard said, pointing behind them. He swung and knocked Giles out.
"I wanted to do that," Methos pointed out.
"You'll have a few hours to get in your own blows," Richard said calmly. "You and Oz both."
Cupid held up a finger, then smiled. "Oz is nearly done. He's on his way up, being walked out. Give him twenty to get here once he's cleared security." He smiled at his step- mother. "Is Pop comin' here?"
"Not yet," Jace said, giving him a pat between the wings. "He's dealing with your Aunt. He'll be here soon."
Methos leaned against a nearby tree and waited, holding his Ray close. This last year alone had been good for them, but he was ready for the hecticness that was Xander. "Maybe we should ask if we can go," he suggested quietly.
"Yeah, maybe, but can we leave Steve with the resort?" Ray asked.
"Yes, you can," Jace said firmly. "I like him being there. The way your whole group is running my place pleases me quite a lot."
Ray nodded. "Okay."
Ares appeared in a flash of red light and looked down at Giles with a sneer. "I can prove to you that you're not a God," he warned the nearly-awake man. "And I promise you it will be a lesson that will stick with you."
"He's got counseling first," Ray said with a frown. "Took us forever to find someone we trust."
"That's fine," Ares smirked. "But I get to prove the point. Got it?"
"Hey, you're the God of War," Ray said lightly. "I'm not an idiot; I'm not arguin'."
"Good," Ares purred. He smiled as Oz walked up to them. "How is he?"
"Shaken. I left him with Danny, Blair, and Sam when she gets back." He took a running soccer kick to Giles' chest. "Never touch him again," he hissed. "You won't be walking away if you do." He looked at Ares. "Why can Strife and Cupid get up there?"
"Because Xander is directly their priest," Ares said with a shrug. "Anywhere that a priest goes they can go." He patted Oz on the head. "Why did you leave him alone?"
"Because I wasn't going to let just Jack bring him back for punishment and reeducation," Oz said dryly. "He might have gotten away, and then I'd have to hunt him down and drag him back."
Ares snorted. "That would have been fun though."
"Yup, but I couldn't leave Xander for that long. Time runs slower there, Ares, I'm only leaving him alone for a few hours their time."
"I see." Ares looked at Oz's two watches. "Which one is their's?" The higher one got pointed to. "What's the ratio?"
"One month here equaled about a week and a half there," Oz said calmly. "I think. We've lost track of time recently."
"Your bodies are adjusting," Cupid said with a grin. "Is Xander learning new things?"
"He's been allowed to study in the Prostitutes' Library. He's learned all *sorts* of stuff." He spat on the panting body. "He won't be as comfy for a while though. I'll have to go to work with him if he goes."
"Sounds decent to me," Cupid said with a shrug. "You gonna celebrate his birthday?"
"Yeah, I need to figure out when that is." He patted the envelope in his pocket. "And I've got a new project too."
"Which is killer," Ray pointed out, "but will you be able to leave Xander alone long enough?"
"Why would I have to?" Oz asked him. "I need to go see a money changer, get him back here so he and Steve can discuss which metals are valuable. Xander can come with me."
Ray nodded. "Cool." He looked at Cupid, then at Ares. "Should we beg to go see him?"
"You could if you wanted to," Ares said lightly. "I'm sure he'd appreciate it right about now."
"We'll ask when we take Oz back," Methos told his husband, giving him a squeeze. "I'd like to see Xander also. I didn't realize how long three years would really be."
"He's been missing you too," Oz assured him. "He wanted me to suck him off like Ray usually does the other day." Ray grinned at that. "Go call Steve to bring up metal samples. We're invited to stay at the base tonight." He looked at Ares. "Did you want to go see Xander too? He's seen Cupid and Strife recently."
"No, I'll see him when he gets back." Ares glared at Giles' again. Then he looked at Richard. "He will be fixed, or I will fix him," he promised, then he disappeared.
Oz looked at Cupid. "Did you know?" he asked quietly. "When you came up, did you know that Giles was going to do something that harmful?"
"No, dude, honest, I thought he'd gotten better. He even prayed to me for success getting Xander back." He held up his hands. "I swear, I had no idea, Oz. You know I wouldn't let Xander get hurt. He's my buddy."
"I just had to make sure," Oz said calmly. He looked at Methos. "Want a ride back or do you need to help Richard get him somewhere?"
"I've got him," Richard promised. "Ethan is waiting back at the motel room if I need more help." Oz nodded. "Thank you for not taking his head."
"I wouldn't want that in me," Oz said simply, heading back to his car. "Ray? Methos?"
"Coming," Ray called, waving at Cupid. "Thanks for the prezzies the other night," he said with a wink, then he ran after Oz.
Methos rolled his eyes. "Yes, that new story was quite Xander-ish."
"That's because it's his," Cupid said with a grin. "He's started writing that stuff again." He waved and left in a sparkling trail of tiny lights.
Methos followed his husband to Oz's rental jeep, getting in the front to sit with his friend. "We may not be able to stay for very long," he said quietly, "but I would like to stay for a bit."
"Hey, you're good for Xander," Oz said as he shifted the car into reverse and pulled down the trail. "He'll talk to you when he won't me." He put it into forward and pulled out onto the dirt road heading back to the base. "Besides, we've both missed you two." He heard Ray saying something and looked back. "What's up?"
"Just talking to Steve," Ray said, pointing at his earpiece. "Yeah. No, we're workin' on a currency conversion if I got it right." Oz nodded. "Oz said yeah. Definitely. When can we expect you?" He smiled. "Sure. I'll even tell Jack you said you'd be back then. Later." He hung up and leaned forward. "He'll be up in ten hours, it'll take that long to get the comprehensive sample back together - he was cleaning it and lost a piece."
"Good," Oz said, nodding. "That's still only a few hours their time. I'm sure I can find someone in that amount of time." He pulled into the base, showing his credentials.
"Sir, those aren't yours," the guard said.
Oz looked at them. "Sorry, they're my husband's." He flipped to his. "Here. We work with Hammond."
The soldier waved them on, staring after them.
Oz stepped through the portal with Methos and Ray behind him. "Just remember, don't smile at anyone too brightly and keep your hands to yourself." He led them down to the flying platforms, getting them onto one for the trip back to the house. "Hold on," he warned as they lifted off.
"Whoa," Ray breathed, looking down. "How'd they do that?"
"Not a clue, some sort of forced air," Oz said with a shrug. "I am not that mechanical." He maneuvered them back toward the house, waving at a passing platform and the woman driving it, she was one of Xander's admirers. He landed outside the house and waved. "Go in, up the stairs. They're probably in the master suite, which is the second door on the left. Tell him I've got a small assignment and I'll be back in an hour, earth time." He walked away, heading into the crowded middle of the day market.
Methos and Ray walked in and headed up the stairs, smiling at the woman who met them. "Hello, Samantha," Methos said, kissing her on the cheek. "Are they still in there?"
"No, they're down in Xander and Oz's room," she said, pointing behind her. "Is Oz back?"
"Hammond sent him on a small assignment to find a banker so you guys can get some money changed over. They'll be meeting with Steve back at the base."
She nodded. "Cool. I know they like iron." She got out of their way. "I'll get someone to bring you up a snack." She headed down the stairs.
Methos led the way back to the room, smiling at the two sleeping men on the bed, and the third who was watching them. He touched Blair's shoulder gently. "Oz will be back in an earth hour," he said quietly. "Has he said anything?"
"Not really," Blair said, giving them a smile. "Just that it shook him badly." He pointed at the bed. "Curl up if you want to; it's nearly our nap time." He got out of their way. "What's Oz doing?"
"Finding a banker so they can get some currency conversions going," Ray told him. "He'll be doin' stuff with Steve for the next hour or so." He wiggled in under Xander's front, wrapping him in his arms. "Hey," he whispered. "It's okay, it's just me and Meth."
"Ray?" Xander asked, opening his eyes. He looked at the man standing beside the bed. "Methos?"
"Oz asked us to come and hold you," Methos said, climbing in behind Xander's limp body. "He said you needed us too."
"Is living and on his way to a shrink," Ray told him, stroking over the hairless chest. "What's with the smoothness?"
"They consider body hair to be a defect," Blair said, smiling at Xander. "Oz will be back soon, Hammond sent him to do something first."
"Okay. I'm good with them here," Xander admitted, laying his head on Ray's chest. "It's okay, I can do this now," he told the other man.
"I know, I'm trying to figure out how to wake Danny without getting grumped at." Methos kicked Danny, ending the debate. "All right then. I guess we'll be in our room."
Ray looked at him. "It's not you. We're just about husbands to Xander and Oz, and Xander really needs us right now."
"It's okay, I understand," Blair said, helping Danny up to give them privacy. "Where's Sam?"
"Going for snacks," Methos said, giving him a smile. "Thank you for helping him," he said quietly.
"Xander needed us," Blair said with a shrug. "It's all good. There's only one Xander and we like him the way he was." He led his boyfriend out of the room and down to their own.
Xander looked at the other couple. "Oz isn't mad?"
"Precious one, Oz could never be mad, unless you hadn't fought. Since I know you did, we're considering this an aberration on your normal kidnapping problem."
"Yeah, what he said," Ray said with a grin. "We're considering this a Giles fuck up; you're innocent." He kissed him, and Xander clung to him. "Wanna talk?" he asked.
Xander nodded, laying his had on Ray's chest and letting it all out now.
Oz looked over the available money changers and walked up to the first one. "If you had to go to any one of you to change money, who would you go to?" he asked the woman.
She laughed. "Are you working on conversion finally?" Oz nodded. "Then I would go to my wife. She's part of the Guild over all of us. I'll call her if you'd like."
"Please, and can you have her pick a few of you to come and see what we have and judge its value?"
"Of course." She disappeared into the rear of her stall and came back a few minutes later. "She'll be here soon. She thought this might be coming soon."
"Good," Oz said with a smile. He pulled out the money in his pocket. "This is what our money looks like," he told her, showing it off. "Those are all large bills, but we're thinking metals would be more appropriate."
"They would be," she said, fingering the paper. "Linen?"
"Probably, I don't have a clue," he said with a grin, putting the money back. "Our government makes it."
"I could give you about sixty bronze for one or two of those," she offered. "They might become collectors items."
"Which ones?" Oz asked, being careful.
"The smaller ones. I wouldn't want to rob you."
Oz pulled out his money, checking it over. "This one is a single unit and this one a five unit piece," he said, putting down the appropriate bills. "How much?"
"Sixty each," she said, sticking firm.
"Deal," Oz said. "Xander needs a treat and my boss wants to taste some Boulganth."
"When I was pregnant, I ate nothing but that the whole three days," she said, rubbing her stomach. "That and what your family is calling Treat. My wife was not at all happy with the glutton I became."
"That's because I had to spend the money to get it for you at the worst hours," a new woman said as she walked up behind them. "Your people are finally ready to talk about conversion rates?"
Oz turned and nodded, smiling gently so as not to appear like he was coming on to her. "Definitely. Within two hours, your time," he said, checking his watch. "Maybe less than an hour by now." He took the money the money changer was holding out. "Please pick a small group to evaluate what we have?" She nodded. "Thank you. I need to run and get some treats for my mate and my boss, who wanted to try some of the delicacies we've found."
"Are they going on the trade list?" the money changer wanted to know.
"Treat is already on there," Oz said with a chuckle. "He *really* liked that." He ran off, heading to the food part of the market.
The money changer shared a kiss with her wife. "Good timing," she said. "I got these for sixty bronze each."
"Very good dealing," her wife said, touching the money. "This is very frail."
"It is, which makes it more valuable," the money changer said with a grin. "Let's go pick your people. We wouldn't want to offend any of the other families."
"Maybe they have more than ore samples," the wife said, walking into the middle of the money changers. "The humans are ready to talk conversion," she announced. "We need three of you to come help us evaluate things."
Five of the women stepped forward immediately.
Oz walked back through the gateway, stepping aside and letting the women walk down the ramp first. "General Hammond, may I introduce Steliana, of the Money Changers Guild, and her wife, Thraian. And their helpers, who they'll have to introduce as I was dropping something off while they were picked."
The General shook the head woman's hand gently. "Thank you for attending to us. We're honored to set up this important step in the negotiations." He was introduced to the other four and led them to the meeting area, where Steve Ellison had set up various ore samples and samples from Xander's loose jewel collection. "This isn't a complete sample, but some of our more typical ores and gemstones. We have included some of our monetary currency also, just in case that's more to your liking." He looked at Oz, who was holding up a bag. "What's that?"
"More Treat," Oz said with a smile, "and that one candy that made Jack go hide."
"Oh, thank you." He took the bag and went to his office. "Call when you need something," he told them before disappearing.
Oz sat down beside Steve, nudging him gently. "How did your meeting with Jace go?"
"Good. How did you know she was going to come see me?"
"She ran that resort for centuries," he said quietly. "It was her child. You're the new heir."
"We," Steve corrected. "She wants our whole group to rotate through the running of it."
"Good for us," Oz agreed. He looked over at the laughter. "Something bad?" he asked in their language.
"No, just a funny metal," Steliana said, holding up a bar of platinum. "What is this?"
"It's called Platinum and it's a money grade metal," Steve told her. "One of the more precious ones. Xander likes to wear it for jewelry."
She nodded. "It would make interesting jewelry I'm sure." She made a note and put it aside in the small pile. "And this?" she asked, holding up a small sample.
"Iron. It's a base element that we mix with others to do things like build and make bridges and cars from." Steve got up and pointed at a small set of sheets. "Each sample is numbered and I've made up a list of what each metal is used for by us. At least according to our best experts," he said with a shy smile. One of the women laughed and he covered his mouth. "Sorry, no offense meant."
"She thinks you just propositioned her," Oz told him. He looked at the woman who laughed. "He is single, but you'd have to make arrangements with my mate. Xander has declared him under our protection."
She shook her head. "No, I'd rather not deal with him right now. He must miss joy."
"He's got our best friends with him right now," Oz told her. "I'll be there as soon as this is done. I trust them to make him happy." She looked at him. "Even that way," he agreed. "It wouldn't be the first time. They're as much as husbands to us."
That got more snickers but the women got back down to business fairly quickly with the help of the sheet.
Oz walked into his bedroom and stopped to admire the view. Xander was curled up on Ray's chest and Methos was stroking over the hairless back. "Hey, I'm done," he said, sliding in on the other side of Ray. He touched Xander's back. "Is he doing okay?"
"He's fine," Methos said, giving him a smile. "We talked. He's gotten a lot of the fear out." He leaned across the two men and grabbed a kiss. "How did the money conversion go?"
"They like emeralds, iron, think platinum was funny and nearly worthless except for decoration, and really liked silver. We're going to use a base rate of iron, with silver and emeralds for more pricy things. They didn't even mind the distinction between lab created emeralds and mined ones."
"Good," Methos said. "Was Steve happy?"
"Steve and General Hammond were both ecstatic. And I managed to find an old iron gate at a scrap yard for about twenty bucks that I used for the first exchange. I netted enough money for a hell of a first anniversary celebration."
"It's been a year?" Xander asked quietly.
"In about three more days, this time." Oz kissed him on the cheek. "I'm sorry, but I needed to do that. It was the next really important step."
"I didn't mind," Xander said, giving him a real kiss. "It gave me a while to talk to Methos and Ray."
"Which I knew you'd need," Oz told him. He ran his thumb along Xander's bottom lip. "We locked Giles' powers away so he can't touch them but he can feel them." Xander nodded. "Did they tell you that?" Xander nodded again. "Okay. Did you see the treat I brought for you?" Xander shook his head. "Then let me go down and steal them from Sam," he said with a smile, getting up and heading down to take the tray from Sam. "Thanks," he said, heading up the stairs.
"Hey," she complained. "I only wanted one or two pieces."
"After Xander gets done. And I have money now so we can have a first anniversary party in three days, local time." He headed up the stairs, counting the pieces of candy. At least she had left most everything alone. He walked in and smiled, holding out the tray. "The caramel colored one we're calling Treat."
"Like the canned meat?" Ray asked.
"No, as in it's a treat to eat," Xander said, picking one up to feed it to him. "Chew slowly," he warned. Ray moaned around the sweet and his eyes rolled back in his head.
"Are they addictive?" Methos asked, watching his husband's face.
"Mildly, General Hammond said it's addictive like really good brandy can be." Methos nodded. "But try this," he said, passing over something that looked like a piece of bark. "It's the most expensive treat, but worth it." He passed one to Xander, watching his face for the explosion of pleasure. He wasn't disappointed; his husband came as the bark melted in his mouth.
"Oh," Methos moaned, rubbing against Xander's body. "This is too good." He took a piece and fed it to Ray. "You have to try this."
"Xander came," Ray said, looking surprised as he pointed.
"Jack hid in the bathroom for three hours the first time he tasted it," Oz told him. He picked up a piece to nibble himself, smiling at Sam as she stuck her head in the door. "Needed something?"
"Can I have a piece of the Boulganth?" she begged.
"Sure," Oz said, holding out a piece of the bark.
"I only need half that," she said, breaking it off and nibbling on it delicately. "So, party?"
"Yeah, we got the exchange rates down using iron as a base, with silver and emeralds going up the scale. Apparently they can use some of the base chemicals in iron to make the stuff in the water. It breeds on it or something."
She smiled. "Great job, Oz." She smiled down at Xander, who looked like he was drifting in a haze of pleasure. "As long as you've got it, we were going to go out to dinner together." She held up a bronze coin. "How much is this again?"
"A thousand of the small silver ones," Oz explained. "I left a card with exchange rates on it by the door."
"Thanks." She stole a piece of Treat and jogged off to go get changed.
Xander opened his eyes and held out his hand. "Can I have some more Boulganth?" he begged prettily.
"Of course, babe," Oz said, handing over the other half of Sam's piece. "Don't eat it warm," he reminded.
"I know. I get a belly ache," Xander said with a smile.
"This is the most expensive stuff. It only grows on three planets, and one of them is off limits for trading," Oz told Ray, who was looking at the tray. "It costs one of those bronze coins for a single piece."
"Wow," Ray whispered, reaching for another piece. "What's with the warm warning?"
"When it's warm, it can cause gas pains," Oz told him. He leaned down and stole a kiss. "I'm glad you're here to share this with us too," he said quietly.
"We're only here for a few days," Methos told him, "but we'd love to let you show us things."
"Happily," Xander whispered hoarsely. "Oz, I think I came again," he noted.
Oz looked down and sure enough, Xander had a new wet spot on his pants. "Yup. You did. Want me to get someone to bring us dinner?"
"No food," Xander said with a smile. "More of that." He reached over and took another small piece, savoring this one.
Ray nibbled his piece, starting to float on the same plane that Xander was on.
Methos smiled at Oz. "Good job," he whispered. "I've never seen them like this over candy."
"It's actually a type of sap from what I understand," Oz said as he got comfortable. "I'm wondering if they ever thought about melting it down like maple syrup."
"Those would be some decadent pancakes," Methos noted as he nibbled on another piece, starting to join his fellow GHS in floating.
"Yup, definitely a night for dinner in," he said as he ate another piece of Treat.
Daniel met Oz at the door and walked past him carrying Sam. "She okay?" Oz called after him.
"Let Blair explain."
Blair strolled in and shook his head, but he was grinning. "Sam was offered money for me," he told Oz. "She was already a little drunk at the time and got into a fight with the other woman." He fluffed out his hair. "It seems I worth seventy bronze as a bribe to let me go."
"Cool. Xander got six hundred on the last bid so that's about right," Oz said with a nod. "How high did she go?"
"She only got out the one offer," Daniel said as he walked down the stairs, shooting a frown at his lover. "She'd be in the brig at home."
"Jack would have gone ballistic," Oz pointed out. "Without being drunk."
"Good point," the other men said together.
"Is he back yet?" Daniel asked.
"No, he's getting briefed about the next step in the negotiations." Oz held out the tray. "Last two pieces," he offered.
They grabbed them and nibbled them on their way up to their room.
Oz shook his head. This was going to beat the 'Xander dances and nearly gets taken' rumors.
To Be Continued.... Really, I Promise.
Look, Double's Luge. Sex/Back to Front cuddling on a sled while going downhill very fast, a manly sort of sport. (Attributed to a muse, who is still hiding under the desk so Blair can't pounce it again).