Title: Outer Truths
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pairings: Derek/Philip, Willow/Oz, Xander/Oz ship going stronger, Nick/Buffy
Fandom: P:TL/BTVS xover
Status: new; complete
Archive: Sure, if you really want to.
Archive author: Voracity
Archive email address: email@example.com Or above
Other website: (being worked on)
Disclaimers: Not mine (sigh). I gain nothing but pleasure from writing. No copyright infringment intended. Yes, writing is therapy for me.
Summary: part 10: things get fixed.
Warnings: M/M (not that this should have to be a warning)
Outer Trust by Voracity
William Sloan walked down to the basement of the San Francisco Legacy house, stopping to watch Oz sitting in front of the cage. "Back away Oz. You don't know what he's capable of."
The young man in question looked up at him. "To me, nothing. You, he might eat." He went back to watching him sleep. "He didn't want to be left alone again." He shrugged. "My duty, I'm a pack member."
William sat down beside him. "How's he doing?"
"Better. He's a little bit more in control." He looked out the window. "No idea about tonight though."
"We can't put you in there together," William said. "We'll sedate him and move him to a locked room for the next three nights." He looked over the cage. "Shower?" he asked, pointing at the curtain in the corner and the hose leading to it.
Oz nodded. "He said he wanted one. He hates not taking one so we've rigged up a push pedal. He steps, he get's water, otherwise it's off."
"We might have to take it down tonight."
The man in the cage snorted then started to look around.
"Leave it," Oz said. He stood up, putting a hand through the bars. "You sleep okay?" he asked quietly.
Xander nodded. "Nice nap, thanks." He looked over William as he walked over to lean against where Oz was. "Now what?"
"Now you eat something before we tranq you for the night," William said, standing. "How in control are you?"
"Not enough for you to be standing that close." He moved his head so one eye was peeking around the slightly older man's shoulder. "You won't be able to move me. The second you do, I'll be free." He went back to resting against the strong shoulder through the bars. "I'd rather risk getting bitten than to have free run of the island."
"We're going to tranquilize you both," William said. "But you can't be in the same cage." He backed up a step at the growl, not knowing which one it was from. "It's reasonable."
"No," Oz said, opening the door. William hadn't seen him picking the lock, but he made it inside before either man could react, closing the door behind him, listening to it lock. "Neither of us should be free." He looked at Xander. "I'm not fighting you for dominance, not tonight."
The younger man nodded. "Thanks, Oz," he said, pulling him into a hug. "Pull the curtain William, he has to change. I'll watch him."
The London Precept considered all his options, checking his watch and the window to see how long he had to decide. By the time he looked back, the change had started and the werewolf was stripped mostly so he pulled the curtain, giving them some privacy. He stepped back, listening to the snuffling going on, not sure he really wanted to know what was going on in there. When the noises stopped and no fighting started, he walked slowly back up the stairs, meeting Nick at the door. "They're together. Oz picked the lock and went in before I could stop him," he said, resigned. "You might want to stand guard though. They aren't fighting."
Nick nodded silently, looking very upset. He continued down the stairs, letting William continue on his path to Derek's side.
Derek looked up as his boss walked into the kitchen and took a seat next to him. "Where'd you stash him?"
"They're together," he said quietly. "Oz picked the lock and closed the door before I could stop him." He looked at the Slayer and her best friend. "Nick's down there but they weren't fighting when I left. Oz said he wasn't willing to fight for dominance right now."
Willow bit her lip but nodded, walking out, presumably to go watch them.
Buffy sat down between the two men, shaking her head. "Does he have the tranqs?" William nodded. "Okay, that should be enough to stop him." She hung her head. "This is sad, really, really sad." Derek gave her a questioning look. "We can't cure the lycanthropy, we can't help Xander rebuild his boundaries. What can we do?"
"We let them work it out," Derek said softly. "It's not the best or the most comfortable answer but it's the only one we have."
William nodded. "We can't fix this, not right now, so we wait until we can." He patted her hand. "Why don't you go do something to burn off some stress?"
She shook her head. "Doesn't work like that. I'd be more upset." She stood up, grabbing the plate of cookies off the table. "I'm gonna go help Willow." She walked out, grabbing a few sodas on the way.
Derek looked at his old friend, shaking his head. "They've all been hit hard by this."
William nodded. "So have you. Your whole house is either feeling guilty or is incapacitated." He shrugged. "It's natural but it still must hurt." Derek nodded, mute. "Want to argue?" He smiled slightly. "I'm sure we can pass the time rehashing old arguments."
"Do I look like I want your wife to kill me?" Derek said, not looking up from the homework he'd been assigned. He did look up as Giles walked in. "They're together," he said softly.
Rupert nodded. "I know. I caught Willow in the hall, dragging part of her bed downstairs." He sat in the seat Buffy had just occupied. "Was that wise?"
"No," William said, "but I was too old to catch him." He sipped the tea that appeared before him, nodding at the butler. "He picked the lock right before they agreed not to fight for dominance." He took another sip, smiling. "I'm stealing him when I go back. Ours just retired."
"Sir," Dominick, the butler, said, "I believe I'm needed more here than I would be in London. You don't need someone of my capabilities, you need a housekeeper." He looked down at Derek. "Enough of that sir, go do something to act your age." He took the book and notebook from him. "Just because you've gotten younger and are in school again doesn't mean you have to do what you did last time." He set them on the counter, then walked out.
William smiled at his old friend. "Maybe you should recruit him." He sipped his tea, his eyes twinkling in merriment. Derek just shook his head, getting up and walking out.
Rupert looked at William, shaking his head. "When will you two get over what ever it was?"
"When hell freezes and we don't know who did it." His eyes twinkled. "So, how about coming back to London with me? We could use a librarian that knew the dark so well."
Giles shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't. I can't leave them alone again." He stood up. "As much as I would like to go home, I promised them. My duty is to them."
William nodded. "I understand." He sipped some more of his tea. "Offer stands though, just remember that." The youthened man nodded, walking out into the garden.
The London Precept looked around for another target but none would come at his whim. "Well, this is no fun," he muttered, getting up and going looking for someone to talk to.
Oz scented the air, trying to find out who was on the other side of the curtain. He looked at his cell mate, sniffing him too before laying down again.
Xander sat down beside him, rubbing over his head. "Sleep Oz, I'll watch you now." He looked up as the curtain moved aside a little. "Ah, the pack comes." He got up, stalking over to where Willow was leaning against the bars. He sniffed her neck then licked her cheek. "Nice female," he grunted, trying to pull her inside too.
"Stop it, Xander," she protested. "I can't come in." She looked over her shoulder at Nick. "Privacy?" She waited until they were alone. "Can he help fix you?" she asked her oldest friend. "Or do you want us to watch?"
"You females, not guard. His job." He pointed over his shoulder to where the other animal was watching them. "You sleep, we guard." He sat back down, looking out. "Where other pack?"
Willow frowned. "Oh, Xan," she said softly. She sat down next to him. "Please come back to us." She touched his hand through the bars. "We need you both to be okay." She pulled her hand back as the fuzzy head of her boyfriend came closer. "Hi, Oz," she said softly. "Sleep, I'll watch over you tonight."
"We," Buffy said, pulling the curtain aside more and sitting down too. "Hi guys." She handed over a soda to the other woman. "Need anything?"
Xander sniffed in her direction. "Mine," he growled, moving closer to her. She backed away. "No, female come back. Mine." He pounded on the bars. "Mine, come back." He shook the door, trying to get out.
"Calm down," Buffy said, moving closer again. "I'm not leaving, not going to another pack. I just can't let you have me." She looked around. "Xander?"
He shook his head, trying to get further through the bars. He had managed to get an arm and part of his shoulder out, trying to reach her. He growled, pulling himself back inside to try rattling the door again.
"Buffy, go," Willow said. "You must be in heat." She stood in front of both men, blocking their view of Buffy's escape. "Ssshhh, I know, she smelled good, huh." She smiled down at him, squatting down in front of the younger man. "Sleep Xander, you can hunt her later." She reached in to rub over his face, stroking the bristled flesh delicately. "You and Oz sleep, I'll watch." She pulled the curtain back mostly, leaving just a little crack so she could check on them. "Heal each other," she told them, sitting down on her bedding.
Xander sniffed the curtain then turned around to look at Oz. "Pack female gone now," he said sadly. He brushed over the crinkly fur, frowning at it. "Not nice." He pulled him over to the bed in the corner, laying them both down, him on top of course. "You sleep now, females watch us." He laid his head on the firm chest, listening to the life inside it. "Good Oz, good beta male," he whispered.
Oz growled at that but didn't move. He sniffed the air a few times but didn't do anything else.
Nick paused on the stairs, listening to Willow talk to her friend and mate. When she was done, just staring at the curtain, he walked the rest of the way down. "Where's Buffy?" he asked, sitting next to her.
"Upstairs. She's in heat apparently." She looked at the older man. "Xander's regressing back toward the animal side. He's almost monosyllabic and grunting." She wiped her cheeks. "I hope this works."
Nick looked at the curtain. "What works?"
"Oz thinks that if he's exposed to the animal side fully, letting it out for a while of full control, Xander would be able to get control back in the morning." She turned to look at him. "It's the same thing as when he goes out to let it out, only around a person he's always considered safe." He nodded vaguely. "If the animal comes out, he'll have to get tired eventually, right?" she explained. Nick nodded, turning to look at her again. "When the animal's out, he can rebuild the barriers again."
"But to do that, the hyena has to be sated with it's exposure." She nodded, smiling weakly. "I wish you guys had told Derek and William this."
"We were still thinking. He was planning for the third night since he's less violent then." She took his hand. "Oz brings out the animal in him, and the overprotective alpha side, and then Xander starts to rebuild his shielding behind him, surrounding him once he's asleep."
"So, he grabs control again and everything's back to the way it was?" She nodded. "I think I can speak for the rest of the house when I say we all want him to have more control."
"He was fine as long as he was letting it out regularly to play," she reminded him. "Same thing, different exposure now." She shrugged. "Not my idea, 'twas his." She pointed at the cage. "Night guys." She looked down, noticing their hands, then dropped it. "I'm going to sleep down here," she said quietly. "I want to be here in case." She got to her knees, rearranging her bedding the way she wanted it and crawling inside. "‘Night Nick."
"Good night Willow," he answered, leaning against the table, tranq rifle across his lap.
Derek stopped at the bottom of the stairs, watching both of the younger male members of his house look at Nick and Willow. He walked farther into the basement, stopping far enough away to be safe. "Oz," he said softly.
Both of them turned around but Xander smiled at him. "Hey," the younger man said. "I'm okay now."
"I'm sure, but we still have to be careful." He moved closer, looking over the two sleeping members. "They okay?"
Oz nodded. "Sleeping." He kicked Nick's shoe, making him wake up. "Hey," he said softly, pointing at Willow. He turned back to Derek. "Vaccination theory," he said simply, walking past him. "Xander, shower," he called over his shoulder.
The younger man stopped long enough to hug Derek. "Coming," he called, jogging up after him.
Derek shook his head, bending down to wake Willow gently, ignoring the teen voice in the back of his mind. "Willow," he called.
She rolled over, rubbing her eyes. "Morning?" He nodded. "Where are they?" She jumped up, going over to the now empty cage. "He's out?" She spun to look at Derek. "We've got to find him." She started to pull him toward the stairs.
Derek stopped her, holding her in place. "Oz said ‘vaccination theory' before he left and Xander *appeared* fine."
She sighed in relief, leaning against the work table. "He was right," she said quietly. She looked up at Derek. "He was going to talk to you about doing it the last night, but William made him do it last night when he tried to separate them." She pushed some of her hair around. "Oz's werewolfing let Xander release his hyena and they bonded while Xander snuck up under the animal and rebuilt the shields he'd held him in. Sorta like when he let it out while clubbing." She shrugged. "I'm glad it worked, he was scary last night. All animal and all."
Derek shook his head, looking down at Nick. "In English?" he asked his second in command.
Nick grinned. "He overexposed it, making it long for a nap. He took advantage of it to rebuild his barriers." He stood up, handing off the tranq rifle. "He was right, it was like a vaccination. The exposure let him build up hyena antibodies which merged them a little better and let the human boy take control again." He ruffled the redhead's hair. "You two belong together." He took back the rifle, going up the stairs.
Derek waved a hand, letting her go first. "They went to their rooms," he told her, watching her walk up slowly. "Your bedding?"
"I'll come back down for it after I check on them and shower and stuff." She jogged up the rest, hurrying up to her mate.
He shook his head, not wanting to but needing to watch the rear jiggle in front of him. He walked up the stairs himself, running into a confused William. "Vaccination theory," he said simply, liking the way his confused look got broader. "I'm going back to bed, wake me when the world is normal." He brushed past him, heading up to the quiet solitude of his room. And Philip of course.
William watched him walk up the stairs, shaking his head. "I'll get a report from them later," he vowed, heading toward the office then the kitchen.
Xander looked up in time to catch the body that came hurtling at him, letting her land harmlessly in the middle of his chest. "Hi, Will," he said, shaking his head. He kissed her part, smiling as she sniffled into his chest. "I'm fine now. Oz's thing worked." He rubbed over her back, giving Oz a help me look when he came to the door.
The older man watched them cuddle for a few seconds then closed the door after walking in. "Hey, mine," he said, kissing the back of Willow's neck. He sat beside them on the bed, running a hand through the damp hair. "We're both glad you're better," he said quietly.
Buffy knocked, then walked in, stopping to grin at the sight of Willow snoring in the middle of Xander's chest. "Me too," she said, closing the door and locking it. She crawled up from the bottom, sitting on their other side. "Willow," she called softly. "Why don't you sleep on the bed instead. I'm sure he'd like to get up."
The younger woman snored some more, not moving except to fist her hand in his shirt.
Oz shrugged, looking down at Xander. "If you're okay with it." He stood up, going over to let whoever was knocking in. "Hey Philip." He waved him in, checking the halls. "She's sleeping," he warned as he turned around to see him bending over the pair to examine Xander.
The former Priest stood back up, nodding serenely. "You're cured?"
"Just like I was before. He came out, got his fix, and I rebuilt the walls around him again." He shrugged, earning a slap to the side of his chest. He looked up at Oz, his most supportive pack member during all that had happened. "Thanks guys," he said softly.
Oz just nodded, leaning against the bottom of the bed. Buffy leaned down, kissing his cheek. Willow just snuffled some, rubbing her head on his chest.
Philip stepped back. "I'm declarin' a day of bed res'," he said softly. "Stay up here." He walked out, closing the door behind him.
Xander snapped his fingers. "Shoot, I wanted to go swim." He looked down at Oz, who was shaking his head. "What?"
"You're acting like nothing's been going on for the last week." He took up his former position on the bed, leaning back against the headboard.
"I know they have." He looked at Buffy. "I'm sorry for trying to grope you," he said quietly. "You smelled good." He grinned when she leaned down to kiss the top of his head. He turned his head to look at Oz. "I know things have changed some. I remember scaring Rachel so much she wet herself. I remember Alex's face as I ran out. I remember Nick and Buffy both watching me to see if I was going to continue to grow more hair." He grinned, taking the older man's hand. "Most of all, I remember you being beside me when I needed you to be." He squeezed the hand gently. "Thank you."
Oz nodded, his eyes showing just a hint of moisture. "Anytime," he said softly. He took back control of his hand, standing back up. "Want me to remove her?" Xander shook his head. "If you're sure...." He let the question dangle, the words left unsaid saying more than what the surface question was.
The younger man nodded, not watching as a skirt wearing Buffy climbed over his head to get off the bed. "I'll lay her beside me." He reached over, adjusting where the skirt was riding up. "Don't do that to me again, huh?" He grinned, pinching her lightly on her rear. "You deserve to be spanked, you naughty little girl you."
She shook her head. "I'd say everything was back to normal." She moved away from him. "I'll ask Dominick to make you a tray." She walked out of the room, knowing they needed privacy.
Oz stepped closer, then knelt beside the bed. "I'm glad you're okay too," he said quietly, not wanting to wake his girlfriend. "I'm just happy it worked. That was a big risk."
Xander shook his head. "Nope, your animal and my animal talked before. They worked it out." He ran his fingers through the damp hair. "I meant it, what you did was special to me." The older man nodded. "Oz, don't just accept this at face value, okay?" He let his hand fall back to the bed.
The older man leaned over, brushing a callused finger across his lips. "I know." He stood back up. "I'll bring up your food. Want anything else?"
"Book? One from the trunk please? The new ones are on top."
Oz nodded, getting into the closet and the trunk he'd been pulling clothes out of for a week. He held up two books, handing over the one that was nodded at. "Rest," he said, stopping to look down at them. "You look so cute together."
"Yeah, but your hair's match." He grinned up at him. "Later?"
"Later." He walked out, heading downstairs. He met William on the stairs, frowning at him. "Wrong wing?"
"I wanted to go check on him. He in his room?"
Oz nodded. "Willow's asleep beside him. She pounced him as soon as she was dressed." He moved aside. "I'll bring him up breakfast and we'll watch him today."
The London Precept nodded. "I know you will, but I still have to evaluate him to make sure he's all right. Otherwise he goes back downstairs." He walked past him, stopping a few steps up. "Oh, and Oz, don't do that again. It was reckless and you have both been hurt. Think about what would have happened if you'd bitten him or if he'd attacked you." He finished going up the stairs.
Oz shook his head. "That's what I was thinking about," he said quietly, heading down to the kitchen. "Morning," he said. He looked at Dominick. "Can you make him a tray? I promised I'd bring one up."
The butler pointed at the one laying out. "Shall I make one for her also?" Oz nodded and shrugged at the same time. "Very well. I'll take them up in a minute."
"I'll do it," Oz said. "I promised I'd go up and watch over him some more." He sat down at the table, picking up a glass of juice Buffy handed him. "She's still asleep and William's going up to bother them."
Derek nodded. "He was confused so I told him what you told me." The mischievous twinkle came back out. "I think he's feeling old."
"So would you," Alex said. "Outside of Rachel and Dominick, he's the old responsible guy now." She smiled at Buffy. "Why did they drive you out?"
"In heat," she said, swallowing her mouthful of food. "Xander kept trying to get to me so Willow sent me away." She looked over at Oz. "Why didn't you?"
"‘Cause I didn't have an interest." He finished his juice, getting up to take the loaded tray upstairs. "Derek, consider me installed up there for today." He walked out, passing Philip and William on the way. "Satisfied?"
William shook his head. "When I get your report. Which you can transcribe later. Just make it legible." He patted the tense shoulder as he walked past.
Philip smiled slightly. "It's his job ta worry," he said quietly. "We jus' ignore him when he's like tha'."
Oz nodded. "Sound advice." He started back on his errand, smiling as he saw Willow peek out of her room. "Breakfast," he said. He laid it on the meeting table in her room, letting her set it out. "I think he expected all of us to eat together." He tipped his head back as Xander prowled in. "Still feeling like it needs to come play?"
The younger man sat down beside him. "Just a little antsy. William just told me that if I showed signs of going that far down the path again, he'd kick me out."
Oz shook his head. "Derek won't let him." He patted the trembling hand. "Eat now, you've not had a proper meal in a while."
Xander pulled over a cup of cocoa and a muffin, blowing across the hot liquid before taking a sip. "Yeah and chocolate never tasted as good." He grinned as Oz wiped off his froth mustache. "Thanks."
"Much nicer," Willow said, running a hand down his shaven cheek. "I like the hairless version of you better." She sat down across from him. "What do you want to do today?"
"I've got to clean my room, remake my bed and stuff." He took a bite of muffin, chewing thoughtfully. "I'd like to go out tonight."
Nick knocked on the door. "Not a chance. Not until we know that letting it out to go dance won't let it out fully." He sat down beside him. "You sure you're normal?" he asked, looking into his eyes. "They still look a little deeper than normal."
"Average for a morning after a bad night." He sipped his cocoa, watching his brother. "I should kick you for letting her do that," he said quietly.
Nick shook his head. "She didn't mean to do that. Just a fluke of accidentalism." He shook his head, ruffling his brother's hair. "She's torn up about it."
"I'm not mad at her for it, I'm pissed at you for suggesting it." He set down the mug. "Why not let me work it out on my own?" He turned to look at Nick. "Why not walk me through it gently instead of trying to remake a link between guns and sugary goodness?"
Oz patted the younger man's hand. "Calm down. He was trying to help." He waited until he was being stared at. "Xander, you were resistant to the other ways," he said gently. "Nick wanted to make sure you were over it before he had to leave. He knew you could do it eventually but fate stepped in to hang his schedule and mine."
"No, Oz, he's got a right to be pissed at me," Nick said. "It's perfectly understandable." He patted the younger man's hand. "I'm sorry, for what it's worth."
"He had just as much cause to be mad at me," Oz said quietly. "I didn't fight you on it."
Xander shook his head. "Yeah, you didn't, but I'm not that sort of pissed." He looked at his brother. "Sit." He waited until the order was followed. "Hear me this time. I'm pissed because you didn't respect my needs. You didn't let me do it when *I* was ready." He took his brother's hand. "Nick, I'm not mad that you felt it had to be done or that fate pushed up your internal schedule. I'm upset because you pushed when I wasn't ready for it."
Nick nodded. "I know and I'm most sorry for that." He pulled his younger brother closer, hugging him tightly. "Yell at me next time I suggest stuff like that."
"Oh, I will," Xander promised. He pulled back. "Okay?"
"Very okay." Nick stood back up, gathering up his coffee. "I want you to write in your journal tonight though. Or today, whenever, just do it. Then William wants a report. From all of you." He looked at the other two people.
"He said it could be handwritten," Oz added. "I met him when I was coming up."
"Must have been right after he threatened me with expulsion," Xander said, snorting.
Nick frowned. "He said what?"
"That if I got that far gone again, he'd kick me out and send me back to that cabin to live." He swallowed some of his cocoa.
Nick shook his head, very calm at that second. "I'll be back later kiddo," he promised, walking out.
Willow looked concerned. "I think we should lock the door," she said quietly. "They're gonna fight."
Oz nodded. "Probably. Wouldn't you?"
She nodded, very tense. "Oh, very." She looked at Xander. "I think you're worth fighting for." She patted his hand. "Now eat, you're not eating." She pushed over the plates of food. "You need more calories if you're going to face the London Precept today." She grinned. "Trust me on this."
Xander piled his plate high with food, nodding quickly. "Oh, I do, Will, never fear that. I trust you." He looked up at her. "With all of me."
She smiled, taking each of their hands. "Good. I'm happier now." She got up, closing the door at the sound of shouting from downstairs. "I'm not going to let it ruin our first breakfast together in a long time," she vowed, sitting back down to dish herself up some food. "Buffy can take care of herself this time."
Derek knocked on Xander's door, walking in and tossing him his confiscated keys. "We made sure it was all right while you were down." He sat down on the desk chair, looking at the book laying there. "Interesting choice. I read that in high school."
"I didn't do much of that," Xander confessed, rolling to look at him. "Thanks for the keys back." He looked out the door. "No Philip or William to protect you?"
Derek shook his head. "We didn't do too bad on our own last time." He smiled slightly. "Or are you going to deny remembering any of that again?"
Xander shook his head, slight grin coming out. "Not me. I remember very clearly the look on Rachel's face as I went for her."
Derek started to laugh. "Yes, I saw her as she ran up the stairs." He leaned an arm on the desk, tapping his fingers. "William's sorry he said that."
"And probably right after he said it too, but definitely now also. Nick yelled at him for almost half an hour." He paused to think. "I think you'd say he laid into him heavily?"
Xander smiled. "Yup, sounds about right." He sat up, handing over his journal. "Am I doing this right?"
Derek flipped to the newest entry, reading over it. "Yes," he said, handing it back. "That's more than appropriate. This is for your personal feelings and thoughts. I won't need to read them." He tipped his head to the side, watching as he put it back down. "Why show me?"
"To ease your fears mostly." He scooted back, leaning against the wall. "You were scared then and you are now."
Derek nodded. "Yes, I was, but the trick is to not show it." He stood up, smiling. "You can go out tonight if you want. I know you need to test your barriers and you're still about ready to pace."
"I'm always like this when I have to reign it in." He shrugged. "This time was just worse I think. Last time took me a few weeks to adjust, should be about the same this time. I should even be on the same schedule." He grinned. "Convenient, huh?"
Derek nodded. "Quite." He walked out. "You're more than welcome to come downstairs too. I'm sure Rupert would like to see you."
Xander looked across the hall at Oz's closed door. "Maybe later," he called after him. He got up, walking over to tap lightly on the wood. "Oz?"
The door opened, showing the older man in the middle of changing. "Yeah?" He opened the door further, letting him in. He watched as Xander made himself comfortable then went back to his shaving. "Got a gig tonight," he said from the bathroom. "Want to come listen?"
Xander grinned, playing with his velvet throw that the older man had borrowed. "Sure, want me to drive?"
Oz looked out of the bathroom. "He gave you back your keys?" The younger man nodded. "That's cool. I could use the ride." He withdrew again. "Pick me a shirt."
Xander got up, heading for the closet. He looked at all the t-shirts hanging up neatly, flipping through them. "None here that's a celebration type." He turned around to see the older man leaning against the door frame. "Want to go get one?"
He shrugged. "Your car, your money. You sure you want to spend more time with me?"
The younger man walked over to stand in front of him. "Oz, I always want to spend time with you." He touched the naked shoulder. "You understand." He got a faintly surprised look. "Well, you do." He stepped back to a more comfortable distance. "Better?"
"Was okay before." He pulled on the gray t he'd been wearing earlier. "Go get your stuff, you're buying dinner." He grabbed his wallet and his guitar, closing his door to stand in the hall to wait.
Xander walked out, jingling his keys. "I'm feeling freer now," he said, bouncing just slightly. "Should we ask them to come?" He nodded back to where he could hear Buffy and Willow talking.
"Nope, talking about girl stuff." He looked down at himself. "Come on, we only have three hours. We've got the early spot tonight." Xander followed him down the hall, going out to the car.
Oz walked down off the stage, heading straight for where he could see his friend at a table. "Hey," he said, sitting down. "How bad were we?"
Xander wrinkled his face some. "Want the truth?" He got a nod. "You need to practice more as a group. That last one sounded like four different songs."
Oz nodded. "Yeah, that's what I heard too." He looked around. "Dev," he called. The lead singer walked over. "Devon, this is Xander. You remember him from Sunnydale. He's Willow's bestest buddy."
They shook hands then the singer turned to look at his guitarist. "We need practice dude, we sucked rocks."
"Boulders," Xander said. "But the first stuff was okay."
Devon sat down. "The new stuff or the old stuff?" he asked, interested in the opinion.
"Both. It wasn't until the last five or six songs that you guys started to fall apart." He looked up at the stage. "But that was a long session too, you guys don't usually play that long."
"Yeah, that's what I figured. The drummer was tired so he was lagging." He looked at Oz. "You did all right filling in though."
"Hey, my job." He patted his instrument, settling it a little more firmly into his lap. "I could ask Derek to let us use an outbuilding or something or we could get a space here in town."
Devon shook his head. "Town's out. We're not livin' large like you do out at that castle." He looked around, smiling at a young woman that had just pinched him. "Gotta go, the ladies call." He walked after her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
Oz shook his head, not needing to watch to know what was going on but the younger man watched in interest. "He's an artist, Xan, you can't do it."
Xander grinned. "No, but I'm always open to pointers." He looked around at the teens around them. "Not too unlike the bronze if you take away the hair and clothes differences." He looked at Oz. "Miss home much?"
"Not really." He hugged his guitar to his chest. "Let's go home. We've only got two hours before I go fuzzy." He stood up, smiling at Devon and nodding outside. The singer smiled to say he understood but didn't give up his conquest.
They made it back to the castle just about in time. Oz had just closed the door behind him when he started to change over, stripping quickly. "Xander," he panted through the pain. "Stay."
"Not going anywhere," he promised, sitting up on the table. He watched him turn in interest, he hadn't watched last night and hadn't really seen it at all before. He was sitting in front of the cage by the time he became a snarling mass of hair, looking up at him.
Oz did something very unwerewolflike, he laid down next to him, sniffing him through the bars.
"Yeah, we can do this," Xander said quietly, reaching through to pet him. "We'll be okay together tonight."
Willow walked down to make sure Oz and Xander were up, but she stopped before taking the last step. Oz was laying next to him outside the cage now, cuddled up on the younger man's chest. She quietly walked back up, not wanting to see any more.
She headed into Derek's office, knowing he was doing paperwork. "They did it again," she said, taking the solitary chair on the other side. "They're cuddled up again."
The present teen looked up at her, nodding. "I noticed that when I went to bed last night. Oz was holding onto his arm like his life depended on it."
Willow shook her head. "They're outside it now." She grabbed a tissue, blowing her nose. "Maybe it's the animal thing," she rationalized. "Their animals seem to get along well."
He walked around the end of the desk, kneeling next to her. "It's nothing," he said, rubbing her arm. "It's just comforting to know that you're not the only one with a problem." He stood back up. "How would you like to accompany me today? I have to go get a tuxedo for the next formal reception and shouldn't go alone. I always get something that doesn't look right." He smiled slightly. "Alex would go with me but she's at her Grandmother's on an emergency."
Willow nodded, blowing her nose again. "I'd love to." She stood up, taking his hand as they walked out to the garage.
Giles said the last word, throwing the last herb on the fire. He closed his eyes, entreating whichever God was listening to hear his plea. He screamed as his skin started to burn and stretch, the bones not far behind, blacking out eventually.
When he came back around, he noticed two things: sunrises are pretty and he was his normal age. He smiled in satisfaction, covering up traces of his fire before heading back inside.
Derek sat on the edge of the bed, stretching. When something didn't feel right, he looked down, seeing his pajama's ripped where he'd grown during the night. He smiled, turning to look at his lover. Philip had become his normal age again, well almost. He still looked just a little younger, not as world worn. He sighed as he laid back down, snuggling back down into the solid warmth his lover never refused him. "Philip," he said softly.
"No' now, I'm sore," he whispered, trying to roll over. He stopped, opening his eyes to look down. "Praise God," he said reverently. He smiled at Derek. "We're normal?"
"Maybe just a little younger," he assured him. "I don't know who or how but I'd like to kiss them."
Philip shook his head. "Nah, you'd scare ‘em." He leaned over, taking a morning kiss. "Hi," he said softly.
"Goot morning," Derek answered, pulling him closer, holding him tightly. "We should go tell them."
"Later," Philip said, snuggling back down into the mostly still firm chest. "We'll tell ‘em later."
Buffy smiled as her Watcher walked in, his normal age. She got up, giving him a strong, bone crushing hug. "Welcome back."
He patted the top of her head, sitting down once he was released. "Yes, well, it seems to have reverted." He smiled up at her. "But it is a relief to be myself again."
She nodded. "I can see that." Her face fell and she walked out into the garden, not saying another word.
"Oh, dear," he said. "I'd forgotten about that." He shook his head, buttering his bagel. "I'll help her when she's ready," he told himself, taking a bite. "Right after I eat."
TO BE CONTINUED.