Notes: In Memorial for Kevin Smith, he who played Ares. He inspired many dreams and many writers, if only to fix the plotlines and give him good scenes.
GHS in Space 3: Hairballs!
Xander came out of his practice area, wiping the sweat off his face. "I ache," he told Oz as he walked past him.
"You should. You've been killing yourself for this new performance," Oz said quietly, giving him a hug. "I know you needed to burn off some stress, but please don't hurt yourself."
"I'm not," Xander said, frowning down at his mate. "I just need it to be perfect."
"Even if it's not absolutely perfect, I'm sure no one will notice. They'll all be too happy to notice," Oz said as he poked his husband on the stomach. "You've got to shave again."
Xander looked down and groaned. "That sucks. I don't have time to shave. I only have a little time for a bath before I need to go to the jewelry shop."
"He doesn't have you on a set schedule," Oz pointed out as he led Xander back to the common bathing area. "You can be a little late."
"But everyone knows when I show up and they're usually waiting," Xander complained. "I don't like letting people down."
"And you won't. I'll help you shave." He stripped them both and got them into the bath, letting the water clean them both as he started on Xander's hair. "Want me to help you braid it?"
"Sure. Before we do the shaving thing?"
"Definitely," Oz said with a grin. He stole a kiss as he worked the lather into the bottom of Xander's waist-length hair. "It's starting to grow again," he said as he measured the long strands.
"I nipped off an inch or so of dead ends." Xander nearly purred as the rough fingers went into his scalp to massage him. "We still don't have time for this."
"You've got almost an hour before your usual time to get there," Oz said quietly. "Let me play. Remember, I like to play with you and your hair." Xander smiled at that. "Even when I had to be away for two whole days."
"It was important," Xander said, turning around to get a kiss. "I understood that. You had to help the official Earth money people get along with the ones here." He wrapped his arms around Oz's neck. "Are you sure I have an hour?" Oz's watches were shown to him. "I thought I had less time," Xander said, looking at his own. "Mine's stopped."
"Mine might be slow," Oz admitted, "but even being a little late can be all right, especially if I drop you off."
"Good point," Xander said with a smile. "A lot of the women think I do better because I have you. I've been calling you my muse."
"That's sweet," Oz sighed, stealing another kiss. "Let me finish your hair?"
"Sure, babe." Xander let him go and turned back around, letting his husband deal with the mass of mess that they called his hair. "I've been thinking...."
"If you say you want to cut your hair, I have to protest strongly," Oz warned, tugging gently on the wet strands.
"Not all the way," Xander admitted. "But maybe half its length now?"
"How about if I start taking care of it for you again?" Oz suggested. "At least until you get over this current crisis of wanting to strip away all my pleasure?"
Xander looked over his shoulder. "Oz, the hair is a pain. It sticks to me when I dance, it's heavy, and it takes *forever* to dry."
"But I like your hair," Oz semi-whined. "It's silky, it's soft," he moved closer, whispering it in his husband's ear, "and I like to play with your hair. It runs through my fingers like water after I brush it. It surrounds me at night, even when you're not sleeping on me. It's my own comfort blanket in a way because I know that you're nearby if your hair's around me."
Xander sighed. "Three inches?"
Oz measured off the length and shrugged. "I could do that. Want me to trim it?"
"Nah," Xander said, turning to grab a kiss. "There's someone in the market who does it. I was going to go to him."
"There's an actual *male* working in the market, for himself?" Oz asked. One of the main things about the planet they were living on was it was matrilineal. The men were nearly forced to stay home. No respectable family ever let its men do anything close to business activities. Even the jewelry shop Xander worked in had a female running it, it was her husband who made the jewelry and marketed it, but everyone knew she was really in charge. It was the way things were where they were.
"He's not from here," Xander said, nibbling on Oz's neck. "He's from one of the more outlying planets in the Empire." He looked up. "So, three inches is okay?"
"Sure, babe. Still want me to braid it for you?"
"Yup. I can't work with it loose, it'll burn again." Xander turned back around, letting his mate work on his hair to make it manageable. "Do I still have time to shave?"
"You'd better, or you'll send all those women away," Oz reminded him. "I doubt they'll get as wet for you if you showed up with body hair." Oz finished the braid and put it over Xander's shoulder. "Let me get the shaving soap." He climbed out and ran over to the shelf, coming back with a white bar of soap. "We need to tell someone this is the last bar," he said as he slid back into the water, smiling at Xander's position. "Back first?"
"I can fix that too," Oz told him as he reached over with his slightly longer nails and scratched down the long length. "How's that?"
"Left," Xander moaned, arching up into the fingers. Oz moved his fingers around some. "There!" he said suddenly and his mate scratched him there.
"You've got a few bumps there," Oz said, leaning over to look at it. "Looks like you're breaking out."
"I thought the water would've killed that," Xander grumped.
"It probably should," he agreed, starting to soap the firm legs with the white, hair removing soap. "Steady," he ordered as Xander started to drift. He saw his husband trying to scratch that spot and reached up to get it for him again. "Do you want someone else to look at this?"
"No, if it's just a pimple coming in, the itch will stop soon enough," Xander sighed, relaxing as Oz's fingers started to massage his legs again. "That feels good too."
Oz leaned over and kissed the small of his husband's back. "Welcome, as always." He continued to work the lather into all the hairy areas.
Xander smiled as he walked through the crowd of women in front of the stall. "Sorry," he told them. "Oz was taking care of my hair." He flipped his braid back over his shoulder and gave Oz a kiss. "Are you coming to my trim?"
"You'd better believe it," Oz said, grabbing his husband for another kiss, then walking away. "I'm going for treats."
Xander grinned at his coworker. "He's very good to me."
The other jewelry maker laughed. "So we can see. You're late."
Xander shrugged. "We tried but we got held up by shaving." A few of the women gasped. So he turned to look at the crowd. "No, my people still have body hair, but we decided to honor your customs and shave ourselves for you," he said with an enticing smile. "It's part of the respect we show for you lovely women. And the men too of course," he added as an afterthought.
One woman giggled and pointed at his stomach.
Xander groaned and looked down. "I know. The soap won't take it off," he said with a shrug. Then he grabbed his pocket knife and flipped it open, slicing off the hair and tossing it into the forge, where it sizzled as it burned up. "There, all better?" he asked, turning around so they could see.
One woman reached out to touch his hair. "It's soft," she told the others. "It's like the best fabrics."
Xander grinned. "That's one of my Oz's jobs. We'll be trimming three inches off this afternoon." The crowd gasped. "It's not that much," he said with a faint pout. He measured off three inches with his fingers. "Just that much, to keep the ends nice."
"No, we won't let you," one woman complained.
"Ladies, you wouldn't want my ends to *split* would you?" Xander asked in mock-horror. "This will make it look even better. And it'll still be long," he promised her.
"I want some of it," the woman pouted. "As a souvenir for when you go next year."
Xander gave her a brilliant smile. "You'd have to talk to the guy who's going to be trimming it for me. I'm sure he could save some for you." He looked at the forge, then at the women. "What shall I make you lovely ladies today?" They giggled. "Promissory rings? Another armband?" he suggested, looking at the one one of the women was wearing. "That needs polished," he chided gently. "Have you been wearing it in the bath?"
She smiled and nodded. "Of course. It's very warm. I feel colder when I take it off." The crowd agreed with her, touching their pieces of Xander jewelry.
He leaned across the counter, picking up one of the cleaning clothes on his way over, and worked on cleaning her armband for her "If you bathe with it, you've got to polish it sometimes," he told her quietly.
"We sell an excellent polish," the other jeweler said, putting a bottle beside Xander. "It even works on that new human import, platinum."
"Who's working with platinum up here?" Xander asked him as he continued to clean. "I've done most of my work in it because Oz can't stand silver; he's allergic, but I like the color."
"One of the bigger stalls is," one of the women told him, giving him a pitiful look. "They're doing the first casting."
"Eww, casting," Xander sighed, shaking his head. "Platinum is a great metal to work with. It's soft and you can make some exquisite forms with it because it's harder than silver." He finished the armband and smiled at the woman. "How's that look?"
"Bright as new," she said, giving him a shy smile. "Are you sure you're not looking for a wife to add to your family? You could take care of this for me."
Xander shook his head. "Sorry, my Oz was very strict when we discussed that proposition last night. He wants it to just be us." He brushed a strand of her hair off her face, an iffy move that hinted he wouldn't mind having sex with her. "You'd have to go beg him."
Her eyes brightened. "I will then. I shall beg and plead with him."
Xander grinned. "Cool. I'm sure he'd be happy to listen to any reasonable argument for adding to our family." The women all chatted together, letting him go back to the forge area. "So, what should I make first?" he called.
"Make a promissory ring," one of the women in the back called. "Out of this." She put down a block of fabric-wrapped metal. "I would like to see someone who knows what they're doing deal with this metal."
Xander came over and picked it up, unwrapping it carefully. "Platinum. Gladly. Any particular design? Fancy or not? With a stone or not?"
"I have no preference. My jeweler couldn't do much with it, he said it's too soft."
"It is a softer metal," Xander agreed, taking it back to the bench so he could cut some of it off. "It takes more gentleness than the harder metals you prefer; you almost have to baby and coo it along." He dropped the first chunk into the fire and went to check the stone drawer. He frowned. "I wish I had some of mine up here. I have a stone I've been wanting to set in platinum." He selected three fine stones and put them onto a holder plate while he went back to deal with the quickly-yielding metal. He pulled it out and picked up his tiniest hammer, starting to meld the metal to his will. He looked over at the other jeweler. "Would you like to come closer and watch?" he asked between strikes. She nodded and was let in, sitting near him. "This really is a great metal to work with, but it takes some care. I hear gold can be worse, but I don't work in that at all at home." He continued to flatten the piece of metal, stretching it out. When he got it the right length, he heated it gently for a few more minutes then pulled it out and started to bend it around the form, again using the most delicate of taps to get it to go to his will. Platinum could be a stubborn and unforgiving metal. A little too far and you nearly had to start over. When he got it to the shape he wanted, he started to bend the edges back onto the form, creating a channel for the three stones. He managed to set them without too much problem, but the reheating to seal it was the tricky part. He watched the ring carefully, then pulled it out and quickly dunked it in some water, bringing it out to look at it. "Not my best," he said with a slight shrug. "An easy design, the first I learned actually." He ran his finger across the seams and set it to heat a little more. Then he pulled out something that looked like a small rolling pin and used it on all the seams to make them smoother. He was finally satisfied and took a cloth to clean it off. "I have a feeling that I know what part of his problem was. Something in the water's reacting with the metal," he told her, showing her the one spot that has discolored. "That happened when I put it in to cool it off."
She took it to look it over. "If that's what the problem was, then that's easily solved," she said finally. "This is very pretty." He bowed to her. "But you're right, a very simplistic design."
"Would you care for something more elaborate? I love making chain out of this stuff."
She shook her head. "No, maybe some other time." She picked up the rest of her block and left the stall, going to report probably.
The jeweler clapped Xander on the back. "That was impressive. I've never seen you make a ring that fast."
"She looked like she had little patience for long works," Xander said with a half-shrug. "What next?" he asked the young women.
"Make us some chains?" one woman asked. She pushed forward. "I have a wedding to go to tomorrow night and I need a good chain to strangle my new step-mother with." She laughed when she saw his frown. "I didn't mean literally, silly. Please?"
"Of course, how long?" Xander asked, dropping some of his usual working metal into the forge. "A pretty choker for your neck, or something longer?"
"Ooh, an ornate choker?" the girl asked. "Of chains?"
"I think I can do that," he agreed, turning to check on his metal, adding a little water to one part of the fire to regulate the temperature.
Xander sat down in the chair, looking up at the man who would be trimming his hair, measuring off three inches with his fingers again. "That much. That's all we can stand me to lose."
The barber lifted Xander's hair, weighing it. "Men on my world would be ashamed to have such hair."
Oz growled lightly. "Mine."
The barber looked over at him, then down at Xander. "Ah. You grow it to please your male wife?"
"He's not the wife, neither am I," Xander told him coolly. "I can always go somewhere else."
"No, I've got the scissors already ready," he assured them, backing down. These foreigners were odd but he would have to learn to live with it. This wasn't his home world and he wasn't around people who thought like him. If they wanted to have hair like his women, then he would do it for them, even without the ritual. He smoothed down the back of the long hair, going up as far as the young man had measured, then started to trim straight across. In a few minutes he was done. "There," he announced, getting out of the way so Oz could check it over. "Enough?"
"That's great," Oz said, paying him. "Come on, let's go show the women that you didn't get it all cut off so they'll quit standing outside and can bother him for the hair." He led Xander outside, turning his mate around to show them the back of it. "See, not that much," he teased them. He walked Xander away. "We're going to eat and then he's going to go back to work."
The women rushed inside to get pieces of Xander's hair.
While they were eating, agreeing to try a new cuisine this time, Xander's head started to itch. He reached back to touch the back of his head, but nothing felt strange and the itching had stopped. He shrugged it off and picked up the next piece of goat to nibble on.
"Phantom hair feelings?" Oz asked.
"A strange tingle." He waved a hand in front of his mouth, grabbing the milk the waiter had left to slurp. "Hot," he breathed, trying to cool his mouth down. He took the offered piece of bread with a nod of thanks as he stuffed his mouth with it. "Thanks," he said once he had swallowed.
"Always happy to help." Oz frowned as he looked at the back of Xander's hair.
"Nothing, the light is making me see things," Oz said with a shake of his head.
Xander pulled up the mass of his hair to look at the bottom. "What? An uneven piece? A strangler?"
"No, it looked longer." Oz held out a hand and Xander put his hair in it, they both watched as he pulled it tight. "It is longer," he said with a 'huh' sound. He looked at his mate. "Some new skill you learned?"
Xander shook his head, standing up to check how long his hair was against his back. "Um, Oz, didn't I just get it cut? I'm not hallucinating, right?"
Oz turned Xander around, frowning when he saw the hair now down below Xander's pert buttocks. "Gee, it grew really fast," he said, frowning at it.
"And it's heavy too," Xander pointed out.
Their waiter ran over to them and said something to Oz. Oz shook his head and explained that something strange was going on with his mate's hair. He had just had it cut and it had grown twice as much as they'd cut off. The waiter's eyes opened very wide and he ran into the back. "Let's get this to go," he suggested, waiving another waiter over. "Boxes, so we can take it home?" he asked. He nodded and ran to get them for him.
"Yeah, I'd like to talk to the barber too," Xander said with a frown. The restaurant's owner came out with the boxes. "You look like the guy who cut my hair," he noted.
The owner bowed to him. "It is possible. There is a new one of us here who is trimming people." He looked at the end of Xander's hair. "Were the scissors black, so dark they sucked light?" Oz nodded and he smiled down at him. "We have a custom on our planet that a woman will cut her hair with those when she reaches adulthood, the night before she is betrothed. It makes the hair grow twice as much as is cut. Those are not supposed to be brought off planet as we give up our rights of citizenship and culture when we leave." He shrugged. "People have been known to sneak things past the censors however." He patted Xander on the back. "Don't worry. It will stay this length and will probably stay healthy."
"But we cut it because the length was starting to hurt his neck," Oz pointed out.
"Ah, but, if he cuts it again," the owner said with a smile, "it will still grow the same." He clapped his hands and left them alone, they'd already paid their check.
Oz boxed up the food and led Xander back into the market. "Where to?" he asked.
"There's someone else here that trims hair," Xander said quietly. "I want to visit them."
"Okay. What if he said is true?"
"That's what I'm going to find out," Xander said grimly. "If it is, then I'm going to be doing some heavy praying to Strife to make the torment end." He headed toward the personal care section of the marketplace, going to find the other haircutter.
Xander's scream echoed around the closely built stalls, bringing Oz at a run. He had been looking at perfumes while Xander had this investigated and he had the feeling that, somehow, the restaurant owner had been right. He stepped into the shop in time to see the haircutter putting up Xander's hair with some heavy looking pins.
"Anti-grav pins," Xander ground out, rubbing the back of his neck. "I didn't think another three inches was that much."
Oz groaned and led Xander away, after paying the man and promising to bring back the pins. They needed some more intellectual help with this. Research they could do, but Danny and Blair did it better.
Danny let down Xander's hair, letting Oz support his neck. "Whoa," he whispered, touching the extra inches. "How?"
"The guy who originally cut it used something sacred to their people, a pair of scissors that took off inches but made the hair grow twice as long," Oz complained. "We have to return the grav pins."
"They're probably real expensive anyway," Blair pointed out. He grinned down at Xander. "Better you than me?"
"Very funny," Xander ground out. "Hurts, Danny."
"Sorry." Blair quickly put the pins back into the hair, approximating the hairstyle Xander had come in with. "Okay, go turn back in the pins. Oz, hold his hair for him, everyone will probably think you're being cute, and head home. We'll look it up for you and bring home some answers." The other couple nodded and left them to their research. Blair looked at his boyfriend. "I was serious."
"I'm very glad it wasn't me," Daniel agreed, patting Blair on the head. "Though, you might look cute with more hair."
"Can you imagine Jack's complaining the next time we have to overnight?" Blair asked with a smirk. "He hated how much care I gave to it last time."
"Yeah, he'd probably be pissed," Sam said as she walked up to them. "Was that Xander? I didn't intrude because I thought it might be guy stuff."
"Oh, it wasn't guy stuff...it was hair stuff," Blair told her, touching her own hair. "Xander's trim turned out a little unexpected."
"I would hardly call that a reason to break into the research area," she snorted.
"It grew twice as long as they cut it off," Blair added. Her mouth fell open and she whimpered. "Yeah, so Xander's not real happy and he's got a sore neck."
She burst out in giggles. "Sorry," she gasped, "but ...Xander?"
"Yup, only him," Daniel said with a smirk. "Blair was thinking about trying that, but he was worried about what Jack would say on our next overnight." That sent her into a second burst of laughing, making her grab them to hold them still.
"Yeah, that's what we thought he'd say too," Blair said, grinning at his boyfriend.
Xander lay on their bed, his hair pooled around him, moaning as Oz brushed it for him. "If it wasn't for the weight, I'd keep it," he offered quietly. Oz was becoming very attached to his hair.
"If we could afford the anti-grav pins, I'd make you keep it," Oz agreed, leaning in to grab a kiss between strokes. "You know I like your hair."
"Yup, and you love the white streaks too," Xander said with a grin at the ceiling. "If I go out, I want a neck brace."
"Okay. We'll even wrap your hair up on your head if you want to."
"That would be a femme sign," Xander pointed out.
"We'll let Sethryn tell us what to do then?" Oz suggested. Xander nodded. "Cool. Want to get him now?"
"No, we can do it later. General Hammond's due later today."
"Cool. Last time I saw him, he looked like he could use a rest." Oz finished putting in the micro braid and moved onto another section of the long hair. "We should do this the next time you have to dance. Braided would be easier and if they're small enough, they still look like hair."
"If you're willing to sit there and braid it," Xander said with a grin.
"I'd probably get some help," Oz admitted. "My fingers are already killing me." He stopped braiding and shook his fingers. "Want me to get someone to finish?"
"Only if you really don't want to play with it anymore."
"Good point." Oz went back to his braiding, but he went slower. He finished his second one and decided to give up, for now. He could always do more later.
Downstairs, someone shrieked.
"I think we've got visitors," Oz said as he got out of the bed, narrowly missing pulling some of his mate's hair on his way down to check on people. "Hey, General. Everyone else is still at work but you can come up and talk to us if you'd like." He said something to the maid, who was clutching the banister. "He's our boss," he told her in English, for the benefit of the General. She said something and he shook his head, telling her something else. She nodded and left them alone. "I won't make you drink stinky tea," Oz said quietly as he led the way up to their bedroom. "Xander, it's Hammond."
Xander waved weakly from the bed. "I'd get up, but I'd hurt myself."
"What happened now?" the General asked, looking him over. "You look all right."
"The guy who trimmed Xander's hair had these scissors that add length," Oz told him. "We added about twelve inches today." The General winced. "His neck's hurting and the physician we talked to said for him to stay in bed for the rest of the day." Oz climbed back in beside Xander, but waved at the chair. "Pull it over, we'll report first."
"The jewelers are having a problem with platinum," Xander told him once he was sitting. "It's softer than they're used to dealing with. I showed one person a simple design today when she challenged me." He shrugged and groaned. "I still ache."
"I'd ache too, with all that hair," the General said, giving him a fond smile. "How much does your hair weigh now?"
"As far as we can tell, at least ten pounds," Oz said quietly, picking up his brush to deal with more of the mass. "This extra near-foot has added at least another five."
"Ouch," the General said, rubbing his neck. "Would a cervical collar work?" Oz shrugged. "Their physician didn't say so?"
"She said that his neck muscles would adapt," Oz said, looking over at him. "After some extreme headaches, some pretty bad neck and shoulder cramps, and a few times of sitting on it."
The General smiled. "At least it's different." Both men nodded. "I'll have one of the base doctors send over a neck collar for him." He crossed his feet. "So, what else has been happening?"
"The locals scared the German guy by throwing him a party," Oz told him. "I calmed him down and explained all the things to him, including the food. He felt much better after one of the local brewers gave him a glass of his new 'beer'." The General smiled and nodded. "Wasn't too bad, little flat, but a great third try. The German guy was impressed and they discussed it most of the night. After about three of those and one of the universes' strongest shots, he was feeling pretty cool and mellow." He smiled. "You should have seen him trying to teach the locals the Macarena."
"He was quite drunk by then," Xander agreed with a smile of his own. He forced himself to sit up, letting Oz hold his hair for now. "I've been the center of an attention war. I told all the lovely young ladies that I was taken and that Oz was my muse, but that they had to start going to him to proposition me."
"Gee, thanks," Oz said dryly. "How many do you think I'll get?"
"Probably not too many, some of the mothers are coming by to watch what their daughters are gushing over at home. A few have been scandalized. A few decided to stay the whole time I was there and even bid on a few things." The doorbell rang. "I'm not moving," he told them.
Oz got up and went to answer it. "Yeah?" he asked the woman on the other side.
She walked in and stared down at him. "Where is the head of your household?"
"Xander's resting upstairs. He's had an unfortunate incident with his hair." He gave her a bland look. "Can I take him a message."
She snorted. "No, I will only talk to the woman who heads your house, the one who makes the contracts for you."
"That would be me," Oz told her, crossing his arms. He saw the maid coming toward them. "Take it up to my room please," he told her. He nodded his thanks for the meat on the tray. "Xander will appreciate those."
The woman looked him over. "You may be an *ambassador*," she said snidely, "but only women may head households here."
"Then I'd suggest you go talk to our sponsor," Oz said with a shrug. "She said that we had strange circumstances and that Xander headed the household but that I was to make all business decisions as that's my primary job in the family." He opened the door. "Thank you for coming," he said formally, dismissing her. She glared at him and walked out, not caring that he slammed the door behind her. "Sethryn!" Oz yelled, bringing their protocol manager running. "That woman, whomever she is, is heading for your boss to badger her for something about Xander. You might want to warn her." He walked up the stairs, going back to his Xander. "Sorry, snotty woman who decided I was beneath her notice."
"Do you get a lot of that?" General Hammond said as he watched Oz crawl back under the pile of hair. "And do you know what this is?"
"Um, a version of goat," Xander told him. "But it's really good and very high in protein. That's their usual meat, when they eat it."
"Those suckers are *huge*," Oz told him. "I got to take a tour of the livestock pens in the market, and those goats were bigger than any bull I've ever seen. Easily six foot at the shoulder. And *mean*!"
Xander snickered. "One tried to eat him," he said with a pat for Oz's hand. "He came home and told me that the first one was probably eaten in self defense. Jack called them Marine Goats; said they reminded him of some of the Marines grunts he knew."
The General stared for a second, then burst out laughing. "Marine goats," he said as he calmed down. "Those would be interesting to watch."
"I had dreams about a herd of them marching in standard phalanx formation," Oz told him. "All of them coming to the house in Sunnydale."
Xander put a hand over his husband's mouth. "Remember, if you say it, it could come true in Sunnydale. Seth and Spike would never forgive us for Marine goats overrunning them."
Oz snickered. "I'd like to see their reaction though."
That set Xander off.
General Hammond shook his head. "At least you're having fun." He looked around. "Are all the rooms this nice?"
"Only Sam's," Xander told him, snugging back into his pillows. "The other guys' rooms are nearly windowless and have beds that are somewhat harder than these."
"This was apparently the room for the Mistress' favorite husband or concubine," Oz told him. "We lucked out, it was open when we got kicked out of the master suite."
"And why were you boys claiming that one?" the General asked.
"Because everyone else had already picked the crappy rooms," Xander said with a grin.
The General shook his head, but he was smiling. "That's what I would have done," he agreed. "So, any news from the other diplomatic forces?"
"Just that they're struggling with the little things," Oz said dryly. "Things like the little cultural issues that they can't wrap their minds around." The doorbell rang again and Oz sighed. "What now?" He started to get out but Xander didn't let him.
"Someone get the door," Xander called out in the native tongue. The bell quit ringing fairly quickly. "There's a maid downstairs," he reminded his husband.
"Good point," Oz said, kissing him on the forehead. Someone tapped on the door. "What?"
The maid stuck her head in and said something quickly.
"Have her come up, I can't get out of bed," Xander told her, holding up his hair. "The person who trimmed it made it grow twice as much as was trimmed. I have an extra foot of hair and the doctor told me to stay up here." The maid ran away. "Our sponsor's here."
"She would be, I sent the pushy woman to her," Oz said simply. He nodded the woman in when the door opened. "Come on in; I'm sure you've heard the story."
"Yes, I have," she said with a smile. "An extra foot, Xander?"
"I wanted him to trim it three inches the first time, and when I went to see if the restaurant owner was right, because he told us about the special scissors, it grew another six." He forced himself to sit up farther, letting Oz take more of the weight of his hair. "I'm not sure I can handle this yet," he told her. "An extra five pounds of hair is too much."
She patted him on the head, then ran her fingers across the soft strands. "I can feel the weight," she agreed, sitting next to them on the bed. "I just got a proposition from another jewelry stall owner to have you come work for her. Two days a week and you'll get forty percent."
"Nope, I like where I am," Xander told her. "He accepts my half days. He likes my work."
"He likes the women that come to watch you," Oz added.
Xander nodded. "Very true. He was selling polish today because some of the women are bathing in my jewelry."
"But it would add more to your household accounts."
"We're doing well on that account already," Oz told her. "He's bringing in about fifty bronze a week." She looked impressed. "Besides, he's right. We don't know this other person. We don't know what conditions he'd be working under. Whether or not he'd be allowed to take breaks. Whether or not she'd force him to work the full day local time, which might kill him."
She nodded. "Very well thought out. I told her I would speak with you of it. I'll tell her no." She clapped her hands and stole a piece of meat. "Over cooked," she said with a disgusted look.
"We can't eat it rare," Oz told her. "It gives Daniel a stomachache."
"Rare is a delicacy," she sighed. "I guess not everyone would eat it that way." She patted Xander on the head again. "What are you going to do with this when you have to go back to work?"
"I'm hoping to be able to stand then," Xander told her. "I might end up taking the next workday off."
"He won't like that," she warned.
"The women will storm the house," Oz corrected. "They'll pout, fuss, and whine until he goes out to talk to them."
She shook her head. "Only you," she said, placing a kiss on Xander's nose. "You rest. I'll go tell her no for you."
"Who is she?" Oz asked.
"She's from the Queen's jewelry house." She shrugged. "The Queen won't be upset; she understands the value of a loyal following and promises made." She smiled at the General. "Should I tell her that you're here?"
"Please. I'd like to come up and touch base with her later," the General said. "It's better to keep a tight rein on the diplomats in new situations."
She nodded. "A very honest answer. I'll tell her of your desire to ...touch base with her." She bowed to the boys and left.
"That wasn't sexual, right?" the General asked.
"Only to a dirty mind," Oz quipped.
The General relaxed. "Good. Oh, I did need to pass on some information." The boys looked at him. "We just had a Presidential election. The person coming into office is the same one, but the Governor of your state isn't. He's a bigoted, narrow minded man who believes what you have is wrong enough to have you put in jail." Oz's happy mood evaporated. "I've instructed Steve to go stay at your house for you. He's said something about moving the house though."
"Yeah," Xander sighed, "I told him if it became that necessary, then he had my permission to have the manor house moved to another location." Oz looked at him in shock. "I love the location, but I won't put up with it being torn down. That's the sort of initiative that I meant, but if this new Governor is going to be that bad...."
"He's going to have a fight on his hands," Oz pointed out. "He's got two of the gayest cities in the world under his control. He's going to have activists coming out of the woodwork if he tries anything. Even the straight activists will be pulling for his head."
Xander nodded. "Okay." He looked over at the General. "I'd like to keep in touch with Steve about this. With us not being there, there's a lot riding on his control."
"He's got it well in hand, boys, but he wanted you to know that something might be coming up."
"Has he said where?" Xander asked.
"He did. It seems his father left him some land in Canada and he's willing to sell it to you. Not ocean front like yours is, but nice and wooded. A few hours outside of Montreal if I remember right."
"Near the Vermont house," Oz told him, stroking over the firm back. "We could become Canadian citizens."
"British?" Xander suggested. "Living in Canada?"
"That might take some doing," Oz told him. "Getting our new identities to become anywhere is hard, adding more wrinkles is even harder and more dangerous. Let's just pick a nice, safe spot and work on moving to somewhere we like from there. Okay?"
"Okay," Xander agreed, snuggling into Oz's side.
"Boys, please. There's already enough rumors about gays in my unit."
Oz groaned. "Sorry. I accidentally showed them Xander's ID and then said that was my husband's and that I worked for you. All my fault."
The General gave them a fatherly, indulgent smile. "I know. And I told the gate guard to mind his own business, not my unit. He's not part of our team; he's just a grunt and I pointed that out to him."
"I'll be more careful," Oz promised.
"Why do you have my ID?" Xander asked.
"Because you forgot it on the table as we were leaving."
"Oh. That makes sense." Xander shrugged. "I thought I had it when I got onto the base the last time."
"Nope, I flashed both of ours." Oz gave him a squeeze then perked his head up. "Sam's coming this way and she's singing. I think she's been in the food stalls again."
"That one food does make her act drunk," Xander said with a grin.
"Allergic reaction hopefully?" the General asked. Oz nodded. "Has it become a problem?"
"It's quickly becoming her favorite, but unless someone propositions her then everything's okay," Xander told him. "Though..." A hand went over his mouth. "Sorry," he mumbled.
"We're not getting Sam in trouble."
The General smiled again. "I'm sure you're not, son. I'm sure she'll get herself in trouble." He stood up. "I'll get the doctors to send over something for your neck as soon as I get back." He looked down at Xander. "I suggest you find a way to fix it though, that's more hair than anyone needs and I've heard that much hair leads to medical problems." He walked out, going to greet his scientist.
"Sir!" Sam shouted from downstairs. There was a quiet conversation then the sound of running feet. "Sorry, guys, but I've got to report." Oz nodded. "You already did?"
"Our part of it," Oz agreed. "Any luck with restoring his hair?"
"Not yet, though Blair thinks he might have found something about the scissors. He's searching that area right now." She shrugged and waved, heading back down to make her report.
"Hopefully no one will laugh," Xander said as he buried his face in Oz's chest. "I don't think I could take that today."
"Don't worry, I'll kick Jack's ass for you if he laughs," Oz soothed, rolling his eyes. Xander could be such a baby sometimes, especially when he was in pain.
Jack walked in carrying a large bag and headed up the stairs. "Here," he said, tossing a box at Oz. "Doctor Janet suggested that he wrap it around his head and wear some sort of hat to work in," he explained as he leaned against the door frame. "She did say that, even if it's thought of as being femme, it'd be easier on his neck." He waved and went down to his room.
Oz unpacked the neck brace and slipped it around his husband's neck for him, fastening the velco. Xander immediately pulled it off. "Hurts?" he asked.
"Oh." Oz patted him on the back. "We'll figure it out." He picked up the brace and put it on the floor beside the bed. Xander was going to be taking a nap soon, his eyes were starting to drift shut. Then he would go and see if he could help fix this. Oz was sitting downstairs when Blair and Danny came in, giving them a grim look. "Anything?"
"Not a thing," Blair admitted. "There's an alternate pair of scissors but they've been lost to antiquity." He sat on the end of the bed. "There was a mention of a pair of scissors that anything cut by it stayed cut. All I know is that it's disappeared according to the books." He patted Xander's leg. "I'm sorry, buddy, but I couldn't find anything remotely similar. You might have to live with it until we can find some other way of fixing it."
"Richard?" Oz suggested.
"I doubt he has an anti-Rapunzel spell. There's probably not a lot of call for a spell to make hair quit growing."
"We can ask," Oz suggested.
"And we will," Xander assured him, "but I'm not holding my breath on that one." He slithered across the bed and over to the altar, lighting the fresh candles he had put out earlier that day. He looked at the end of his hair and stuck some in, but it came back again, and then some.
"Hey, no burnt offerin's!" Cupid said as he appeared, glaring down at Xander. "What did you stick in there?"
"His hair. It seems that we ran into every balding guy's wet dream - scissors that make your hair *grow*," Oz said dryly.
Cupid looked down at Xander again, his mouth coming open. "How?" he asked. "How do you do this?" He frowned down at his worshiper. "If I beg, would you *try* to stay out of trouble for a few weeks?"
"Hey, not my fault!" Xander countered. "All I asked for was a three inch trim. It was the barber's funky scissors."
"Yeah, and *you* found him," Cupid pointed out smugly. "Strange shit is attracted to you, and only to you." He pointed at Oz. "You don't see shit like this happenin' to him."
Xander forced himself to stand up and stomp out, though his head was pulled down by the weight of his hair.
Oz clapped. "He's been majorly stressed all day over that," he pointed out. "He's in pain over it, the new foot of hair ...."
"Whoa! *Foot* of hair?" Cupid asked.
"Yeah, the scissors make it grow twice what you cut off." He saw the confused look and smirked. "We had to make sure the rumor was true. Xander had another guy trim him and it grew again."
Cupid rolled his eyes. "Only him." He frowned at Blair. "What do you two brains say?"
"We found mention of the scissors," Blair told him, "and the mention of the countering scissors, which are forever lost."
"Oh, well, that's life."
"And if you ever want to be *prayed* to again," Xander said from the doorway, "you'd better help me get rid of this mess. 'Cause if my neck and head hurts, guess who's not gettin' any, or any prayers from anyone who's not gettin' any?"
Cupid groaned and pouted at his priest. "You had to go there, didn't you?" Xander nodded, a little bit. "Fine, I'll see what I can find." He looked his man over. "Do you even know *how* you do this shit?"
"It's interesting but there is a God of Mischief and Trouble here," Blair told him. "She's three." Cupid stared at him. "And she likes to show up to play in the market place. It's just someplace she feels right at home in."
Cupid groaned as he disappeared.
Oz patted the bed. "Come here, I'll give you a neck rub." Xander trudged over. "You didn't mean that, right?" he pleaded. "Remember what happened the last time you couldn't have sex," Oz begged when he didn't get an answer.
"If I can't think through the pain, then we can't have sex," Xander pointed out. "And if I tried right now, I'd probably snap my neck."
Oz sent his own prayer, to Ares and Jace. Desperate situations called for desperate measures.
Blair sent a prayer of his own winging to whichever deity covered mental illness in Xander's chosen pantheon; they were going to be getting two new clients if Xander's hair problem wasn't fixed.
Up on Mt. Olympus, Ares sat up in bed and looked over at his lover. "Why would I care about *hair*?" he asked his lover, who had also been prayed to. "I'm over War, not over bad hair days."
"Maybe we got the prayer because you have such good hair," Jace said, smiling at her lover.
Ares looked over his shoulder. "Thanks, but I'm still not over that. Hair is not my thing. Mine's always fixed perfectly." He flicked a curl over his shoulder.
Cupid flashed in, glaring at his father. "Did one of them pray to you?" he demanded.
"Yes, son, they did. Why was I prayed to about *hair*?" Ares asked tolerantly, needing this answered. It wasn't like Oz to forget who he was.
"Because Xander, Strife's favorite person and all around bestest buddy, found the only pair of scissors in existence that make hair *grow* when you cut it," Cupid said snarkily. "He's got an extra *foot* of hair now."
"Oww," Jace muttered. "That's got to weigh a ton with what he's already got."
Cupid barked a laugh. "Yeah, probably, but he just threatened me with no prayers and no sex with Oz if it didn't get fixed." He flopped down onto the bed and curled up around Jace, pouting at his father. "I don't know anything about stuff like this; my hair is perfect and has been since I grew up." He held up a finger. "Not one word about when it wasn't or you're not gettin' any either. I'll take Jace with me and you won't see her for the next century."
Ares shook his head and climbed off his mattress. "Strife!" he yelled. His nephew appeared in front of him, looking curious but wary. "Fix this so I can get back to my nap and have sex later."
"Fix what?" Strife asked, looking at Cupid. "What happened now?"
"Xander found a pair of scissors that makes hair grow," Jace told him. "When he got a trim, he grew an extra foot of hair."
Strife scratched his head. "So cut it off."
"The reason he's got a foot is they decided to see if it was a one time thing," Cupid said, still pouting. "The three inches they tried to cut off came back as six. Hence the whole foot thing."
"Cupid," Strife started, licking his lips, "did you get this *directly* from them?"
"And a threat of no prayers or sex," Cupid added. "Because I wouldn't do anything about his stupid hair."
"Honey, he's got to be having headaches," Jace pointed out. "That much hair weighs a ton and it's all on the top of your head and your neck. He's got to be in pain."
"Yeah, well, he did say he had a headache from it," Cupid said quietly, looking down, but he was still pouting.
"Is there *any* way to fix this?" Strife asked his Uncle.
Ares shrugged. "Why are you asking *me*?" he asked, looking slightly amused but slightly pissed also. "Not many wars have been started over *hair*!"
Strife nodded. "Good point. Who'd know though?"
Ares shrugged, still having that same look on his face. "Go ask Apollo, maybe he's over hair too. He seems to have just about every other job."
"Thanks." Strife grinned at Cupid. "Did they tell you about the little girl?" he asked as he left.
"What little girl?" Ares asked, sounding almost afraid to.
"Their Goddess of Trouble and Mischief is a three year old girl," Cupid said, looking up at his Uncle.
Jace burst out laughing. "Oh, that is *so* appropriate!" she shouted, sitting up.
Ares tried to hold it in, but couldn't do it. He started to laugh. "A permanent toddler Goddess of Trouble. Those people probably did something very horrible to earn that."
Cupid started to laugh too. "They got Xander!" he said happily.
Jace smacked him with a pillow. "That's not a punishment. That's a pleasure. He's a *reward*."
"Yeah, sure he is," Ares snorted, climbing back into bed. "Son, did you *really* want to stay?" he asked, running a hand over one of Jace's breasts.
"Sorry," Cupid sighed, going home. Maybe his mother would comfort him. Having Xander worship him wasn't what he had thought it was going to be. Why couldn't the guy be like the other GHS he lorded over?
Strife appeared in front of Apollo, who was looking confused. "Get one about hair?" he asked.
Apollo looked over at Strife. "Yeah, dude, but for mental illness. Do you know anything about that?"
"Just that it's Xander."
"Oh," Apollo said, nodding. "That explains it." He shook his head. "How did he get an extra foot of hair suddenly?"
"See, from what they told Cupie, Xander went to get a trim." Apollo nodded at that one, a perfectly normal mortal thing to do. "Only the guy who cut it had a pair of scissors that makes hair *grow*. *Twice* as much as you cut off." Apollo shook his head and closed his eyes, one hand drifting up to cover them. "Apparently he went in for a three inch trim the first time, and when they saw what happened and got some information, they had to make sure that's what it was. Now he's got a foot of extra hair, a headache, and he's cranky enough to threaten no more praying to Cupid *or* having sex."
Apollo moaned and sat down on a golden chair that suddenly moved up behind him. "Why you, dude?" he asked.
"No, the best part," Strife said, holding up a hand. "His mate Oz prayed to *Ares* to fix it." He smirked as Apollo started to laugh. "So, we're kinda desperate here."
"How does he do this to himself?" Apollo asked once he had calmed down.
"Well, see, I figure it's their Goddess of Trouble sayin' hi this time," Strife told him. "She's three."
Apollo fell out of his chair he was laughing so hard. "A permanent toddler *female* version of you!" he cackled. "Oh, Gods, they're in so deep!"
Hera appeared, frowning at her step-son. "What is so funny?" she hissed.
"Xander found the only pair of scissors in existence that make hair grow," Strife told her. She just shook her head. "I figure it's their Goddess of Trouble sayin' hi... she's three."
Even Hera had to smile at that one.
"And....And," Strife said. "His mate prayed to *Ares* to come fight the hair!"
She chuckled. "Yes, that is worth it," she agreed, disappearing. She came back a few minutes later, holding out a pair of scissors. "I will not see that other pair up here," she warned her Grandson. "And these will get back to the Fates this afternoon. Understand?"
Strife's eyes widened and he nodded. "Thanks." He disappeared, going to where Xander was sulking. He leaned over the couple on the bed and grabbed some of the hair, trimming a good foot and a half off it.
Oz looked up and mouthed, "Bless you."
"How?" Xander asked, looking at the ends.
"The Fates scissors cut things and they *stay* cut," he said, waving them. He handed over the hunk of hair. "Up, let's do this right." Xander hopped up and let Strife trim the bottom of his hair. "For this, I get invited the next time you dance," he warned.
"Hey, I dance next time in two weeks, local time here," Xander agreed. "I'm working on some new stuff." He leaned in and gave Strife a light, chaste kiss. "Thank you. You just saved Cupid going insane from listening to Oz beg." He grinned. "How did you steal those?"
"Hera managed to talk them into it," he said with a shrug. He took a few strands and disappeared again.
Oz grinned at Xander. "Feel better?"
"Much," Xander said with his best animal, naughty grin. "And so will you soon enough," he promised as he pounced.
Strife reappeared in Apollo's temple, handing Hera the scissors. "Thank them for him. He's *real* happy now," he said with a grin. He handed over a piece of the hair. "Here, this is it."
She looked it over. "This is very well taken care of," she noted.
"Oz does it for him," Strife smirked. "He's got a thing for long hair."
She just smiled and disappeared, taking the scissors with her.
Apollo stole a piece of the hair, feeling it up. "Dude, if we could find a way to do this, it'd make *tons* of people quit whining to me about going bald." He looked up. "Any chance of getting those scissors?"
"Sure," Strife said with a smirk, "but only if you cover my ass."
"Hey, it's for a medical reason," Apollo said with a shrug. "We might even need to *test* it once or twice."
Strife's grin faded long after he did.
Strife landed in the market place and looked around. He was in the right spot, he could feel the scissors, but there wasn't anywhere open. He looked down as someone tugged on his hand, getting down to smile at the little girl with white hair. "Hey," he said, holding out a hand. "I'm Strife, Xander's God of Trouble. What's your name?"
"Lissa," she said, grinning broadly. "If you play with me, I'll help you find the treasure."
"Cool," he breathed. "I never have time to play." They headed off to play in the abandoned stalls.
Oz opened up the news server and sat down to drink his morning tea, wanting to see what else had happened yesterday while he had been taking care of *hair*. He slowly put his cup down as the lead story started, starting to whimper and point. "Xander!" he finally yelled, bringing his mate running. He whimpered and pointed again.
"Oh, hey, Lissa," Xander said, sitting down to watch the story about the switched merchandise and tangled inventories. "She's so cute," he said, looking at his husband. "A great little kid, even though she's trouble incarnate."
Oz picked up the remote and rewound to the picture that had made him nearly choke, pointing at it. "Strife!" he said when Xander didn't get it.
Xander squinted at the screen. "Maybe," he said with a shrug. "But they like Lissa, so they'll probably accept him." He stood up. "I'm going to go bathe. Want to come play with me?"
Oz shook his head. "Not today, dear, I have a headache." He banged his head on the table once his husband was gone, making sure his excuse was real.
Up on Mt. Olympus, there was a scream, followed by another, then another, then another, in all different pitches and ranges of the vocal scale, but all using one word. "STRIFE!"
"Wasn't me!" Strife yelled, nibbling on a banana, but sharing part of it with his newest friend.
Hera appeared in front of them, panting in anger, her hair down around her toes. "Strife," she ground out. "I told you those scissors would not be coming up here. That's the only reason you were allowed the Fates' scissors." She stopped and looked down at his guest. "And who are you?" she asked, glaring at the child.
Lissa just smiled and waved her fingers, turning Hera's hair fluorescent purple. Then she clapped and grinned at Strife.
"Apollo has them for *medical* reasons," Strife told her. "He's working on the baldness issue."
Ares appeared in Strife's temple, looking down at his nephew, his hair it's normal shape. "Gee, you *did* remember this time," he said with a happy smile. "Thank you for not getting me."
Hera glared at her Grandson. "We will be speaking about this," she promised, disappearing.
"Hey, I remember kissin' that wall very well." He pointed at Lissa. "This is my newest buddy, Lissa. She's three."
Ares groaned and disappeared, unaware that his clothes had stayed. "Strife!" he yelled. "Send them back!"
"Honey, we don't pick on Unc," he told her, feeding her more chocolate. "He can get nasty and yell." She smiled and sent the clothes back, only they were now turquoise.
"No!" Ares moaned, his voice echoing around the Mount.
To be Continued, with Animals next time!