It’s the Saturday before Easter, and Angel and Graham are preparing for an
overnight visit from bunny phobic Anya.
Date: April 13, 2001
“I don’t like this.” Graham grumbled as he lugged a rather heavy suitcase through the doorway and into the apartment.
“What part?” Angel asked through gritted teeth as he followed the soldier, laden by the rest of the matching luggage set. “The two of us being turned into valets, or-”
“The *reason* why we had to cart all this stuff here.”
“Oh. None of us like that.”
Graham dispassionately deposited his bag beside the couch. “*She* sure seems to be getting a kick out of it.”
A low, irritated growl was the vampire’s only response as he dropped his burden by Graham’s
“Damn, I wish I could get my vocal cords to do that sometimes.” Graham moved into the kitchen area. He snagged a bottled water, and a blood bag from the refrigerator, taking a large swig from the former and pitching the latter in the vampire’s general direction. “You know, sometimes I wish Xander wasn’t so...”
Angel, having adroitly caught his tossed dinner, joined the mortal in the kitchen, and retrieved a large mug from one of the cabinets. “Nice?”
“Easily manipulated by certain people of the opposite sex who are in the Scooby Gang and shall all remain nameless?”
“Bingo.” Graham grimaced as Angel expertly opened the bag and dumped it’s coppery contents into the waiting mug. “That just doesn’t get any less grosser.”
“Then don’t watch.” Angel countered, setting about to heat his meal. “Go... get our couch presentable for our esteemed guest.” The sarcasm was almost thick enough to drown out the microwave’s tiny electronic ding of completion.
Graham grumbled again.
“You know,” Angel thoughtfully stared into his cup. “We don’t *have* to stay. I could go back to L.A. early, you could spend the night on base. It’s not like anything really evil is going to happen here.”
“Except for Anya getting all grabby with our Xander.” The Marine groused.
“Then, think of it that way, we’re not spending the night protecting Anya from some imaginary, candy bearing, rabbit-”
“We’re protecting Xander from a nymphomaniac, scheming, bunny-fearing, she-beast.” Graham nodded. “Okay, my mission is clearer now.” A sly smile suddenly spread over his face. “You know what? I just got a craving for something.”
Angel raised an eyebrow. “Craving? For what?”
“Some of those little marshmallow bunnies.”
The vampire’s answering grin was reminiscent of one of his soulless phases. “Can we get different colors?”
“Oh, yeah. And, maybe some solid chocolate ones, you know, for variety.”
“Uh huh. Definitely.” Angel nodded, then thought for a moment. “You know something I’ve always wanted?”
“Is that right?” Graham, while never having met Angelus, nonetheless seemed to emulate his smirk perfectly. “Well, that’s a slight to your wardrobe we’ll have to rectify.”
Angel checked his watch, then put his arm around the human’s shoulders. “Wal-mart’s still open now, right?”
Angel and Graham had just finished strategically placing Easter products around the apartment when the door opened, admitting Xander, and Anya. The ex-demon was fearfully clinging to the young human.
“Are you sure it’s safe in here?” She whispered dramatically.
Xander rolled his eyes and looked helplessly at his two lovers. “I’m positive Ahn. You’re completely safe... and you can really let go now.”
The matching scowls on Graham, and Angel’s faces dissipated slightly as Anya released the younger human. They both moved towards Xander, and flanked him.
Anya rolled her eyes at the territorial display. “Males.” She muttered. “Where are my things?”
Without moving a budge from Xander’s side, Angel inclined his head towards the couch.
“Good.” Anya grabbed one of the smaller bags. “I’m going to take a shower.” She strode towards the bathroom, but abruptly stopped halfway, and turned around. She gave Angel, and Graham each her sweetest smile, which only resulted in sending a chill up and down their spines. “I just wanted to thank you for going to my apartment and getting my bags so I wouldn’t have to spend more time in transit than necessary on this horrid, horrid night.” Her pleased expression faltered a bit and she glanced at Xander. “That’s all you wanted me to say to them, right?”
Xander’s face held a pained expression. “Yeah, Ahn. That was it.”
She grinned and continued her bounce into the bathroom
Xander waited until she had shut the door before he turned to his lovers and offered them both an apologetic look. “Um... it’s the thought that counts?”
Angel leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on the younger human’s forehead. “And, we appreciate *you* thinking of us.”
“She really is grateful.” Xander insisted as he was led over to the couch. “Really. She is.” He was gently pushed into the cushions, the vampire and Marine taking their seats on either side of him. “She’s just... just...” His brow furrowed. “Just...”
“Anya?” Graham’s explanation was simple, concise, and accompanied by his large, hand settling on Xander’s nearest knee. Angel followed suit, gently rubbing a soothing circle on the younger human’s other leg.
Xander smiled and sighed, a happy little exhale of breath as the two bodies beside him, one warm, one cool, pressed closer. “You know, I just want to say, I really appreciate you guys not making a big fuss about this.”
“Fuss?” Angel crinkled his forehead. “Why would we make a fuss?”
“Because both of you hate Anya.” The younger mortal said indulgently.
“We don’t exactly *hate* her.”
“Hate is a very strong word.”
“Uh huh.” Xander rolled his eyes. “Anyway, she didn’t want to be alone tonight, you know how hard this holiday is for her, and I was really expecting, I don’t know, more dissent about the whole situation.”
“You mean, from us?” Graham asked guilelessly.
“I know, it was silly.” Xander smiled again as his hands found the ones belonging to his lovers and gave them a firm, reassuring squeeze. “But still, I really appreciate this. And, I figure, later on, after Anya drops off, I can show you two just how *appreciative* I am.”
The vampire and Marine grinned their consent, and moved in to seal the deal with a quick suckle on either side of Xander’s neck, when, suddenly, a scream ripped through the apartment.
“What the, Anya!” Xander bolted from the couch, rushed to the bathroom, and pulled open the door, immediately becoming enveloped in a wall of steam. Angel and Graham kept their places on the couch and simply cringed.
“I guess it’s too much to hope for that she was screaming because she was attacked by an actual demonic Easter bunny and not because she finally noticed the stuffed one we put above the shower head?” Angel asked sullenly.
“How could you two do that?!” Xander glowered down at the two contrite looking men sitting on their bed.
“That was just mean!”
“No, that wasn’t just mean, that was, that was... malicious.” Xander blinked. “Wow, who would have thought that during high school some of that vocabulary stuff actually seeped in.” He blinked again. “Anyway, if malicious means what I think it does, then that’s what you were.”
“Yes, the usage of the word is right.” Angel cleared his throat, the gears in his centuries old mind had been diligently trying to formulate a feasible excuse, and with an imaginary clock ticking in the background he decided to go for broke with the least absurd of his choices. “But, that’s not what we were trying to be.”
Xander raised an eyebrow. “It’s not?”
Graham raised both eyebrows. “It’s not?” He let out a little whoosh of air as an undead elbow caught him in the stomach. “It’s not.” He agreed.
Angel glared at his cohort. “We were just trying to be... festive.”
“Festive.” Graham nodded.
“That’s right, because, you know, Easter only comes once a, uh, year, and since it’s a big holiday for, um, a lot of humans we-” Angel threw his arm around Graham’s shoulders. “thought we should, you know, celebrate.”
Xander looked at the faces of his lovers. The vampire. The Marine. They were so different in so many ways, yet at that instant they shared one striking similarity: the ‘we’ve been completely misjudged and were just trying to do something nice and innocent, yeah, that’s it’ smiles plastered across their faces.”
“Ce-le-brate?” The younger human drew out the word, sounding out each syllable.
“Yeah. Celebrate.” Angel nodded as enthusiastically as a souled vampire could. “So, we got some decorations and chocolate-”
“Wait!” Xander’s nose delicately sniffed the air. “There’s chocolate in here?”
“In the kitchen.” Angel said. “A whole bag full.”
“Big bag, little bag?”
Xander chewed his bottom lip. He was racked with indecisiveness. On one hand he knew he should continue taking the other men to task for their little prank. On the other hand... chocolate. The fight was over before it really began, but he still felt compelled to explore one tiny flaw in their explanation. He crossed his arms over his chest and gave them his best Giles expression, a look mixing equal parts disdain and barely controlled exasperation.
“Just so I’m clear on everything,” Xander said. “The toy above the shower was for *decoration* because Easter is such a big holiday here and you guys just wanted to be *festive*. Am I right?”
“Okay. And, exactly what part of the holiday were you thinking of when you painted it’s eyes red and glued construction paper fangs to it’s mouth?”
The conspirators stared at him with wide, unblinking eyes. Somehow they knew ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ wasn't going to fly in this situation. Finally, an idea sprouted in one of their heads.
“Angel!” Graham blurted out, surprising even himself. “That was for Angel.” He smiled at the vampire, silently urging him to just go along with whatever might be coming out of his mouth. “He was feeling a little left out, so we took one of the stuffed animals and... customized it. It’s a vampire bunny. Like... uh... Bunnicula!”
If nothing else, Xander knew he had to give him points for creativity. “Bunnicula.” He gave up. “You know what? Whatever! Just whatever! I need chocolate.”
As Xander practically ripped open the door to the bedroom and went back out into the living area, Angel leaned into his accomplice and, with a frown, asked. “What’s a Bunnicula?”
But before Graham could answer yet another scream shattered the tentative peace in the spacious apartment, immediately propelling the men on the bed into action, because this time it was clearly Xander’s voice that could be heard yelling-
It was a moment Xander Harris would never forget. It surpassed the time when he was six, and having just gotten a hand on the whole reading thing, discovered that despite its name, Candyland game pieces tasted like cardboard for a reason. It even went beyond the moment when, at nine, Willow gently explained to him that ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ was a movie, not a documentary.
It was truly a shocking tableau he was witness to that Easter eve.
While Xander was in the bedroom, wondering when the two men he loved had regressed into three year olds, Anya had been finding the candy bunnies. And, when Xander came out of the bedroom, his first sight was of the ex-demon systematically biting their heads off. The decapitated corpses littered the floor around her. It was an outrage no true chocolate lover could have stood for. So, with a few quick, terse phone calls, and the promise of a newly built bookshelf for the Magic Shop, Anya and her matching luggage were on their way to Giles’ apartment. At first she was none too pleased with the new arrangement, but a quick look in Xander’s eyes told her the move was definitely for the best.
While Xander drove the unusually quiet ex-demon over to Giles’ place, Angel and Graham were sent to Wal-mart in search of unscathed chocolate.
When they returned to their apartment, loaded down with blue plastic bags, they found Xander already home and solemnly cleaning up the confectionery carnage.
“What a waste.” The younger mortal said as he sadly shook his head.
Graham put a gentle hand on Xander’s arm. “We’ve got more. Cadbury, and Nestle, and Hershey’s. All without preexisting teeth marks.
Xander smiled as he allowed himself to be led away from the disaster in the kitchen. His spirits buoyed, possibly because of the thought of all that unblemished chocolate, but more likely due to the slightly chilled hand that had found it’s way into his pants, and the warm tongue that was lovingly laving his earlobe.
The trio quickly made their way into the bedroom, and as fingers began fumbling with buttons, Xander asked, “Deadboy, could you close the curtains? I know Buffy already broke Spike’s telephoto lens, but just in case. You remember how hard it was to track down those negatives, not to mention all the copies.”
Angel glowered. Graham scowled... but then, the Marine reconsidered. “Yeah, Spike’s a jackass, but I am glad we didn’t burn *all* the copies.” His eyes drifted over to the bottom drawer of the nightstand.
Two sets of eyes followed his lead, and the temperature in the room seemed to go up several degrees. Then Xander swallowed hard, and said, his voice low, and unusually rough. “Deadboy. Curtains. Now.”
Angel quickly moved to comply, but stopped short at the sight in front of him. “Uh...”
Graham and Xander turned at the peculiar note in their lover's voice. They too were struck by the scene on the other side of the pane of glass.
In an instant, it was gone.
Angel stared, flabbergasted, out the window. “Did you just see-”
“A pair of red, glowing eyes, floppy ears, a twitching nose and long, curved fangs, hovering outside the window?” Xander blinked. “No.”
Graham managed to stop gaping long enough to say, “I didn’t see a thing.”
“Oh good.” Angel quickly closed the curtains. “Neither did I.”
Somewhere in the night, a fuzzy little tuft of a tail twitched, and vegetables all over Sunnydale quaked in fear.
Summery: The boys get a Father’s Day surprise
Date: June 17, 2001
Notes: Big thank you to Charles for the beta
Graham plucked a card from the rack, quickly scanned the cover and contents and with a sigh he put it back. Then, he repeated the action with another card... and then another... and then another... and then another... and then another.... and then-
The Marine calmly, yet quizzically glanced at his agitated companion. "What?"
Xander threw up his hands. "Just pick a card already! I want to get back to the apartment before Angel gets there."
"Angel's not due to arrive for five or so hours."
Graham scowled. "Look, this isn't easy."
"Well, it can't be that hard either." Xander picked up a card. "What about this one? 'To my Dearest Father'..."
"Okay. How about 'Hey Dad'..."
"'I Love my Daddy'."
"Do I look like I'm five?"
"Did you say look like, or act like?" Xander sidestepped out of the way of a not-so-playfully aimed swing. “Just pick one!”
"I can’t!” Graham insisted. “It has to be special. It has to tell him how much I love him, and respect him, and miss him."
"Wow. Well, if that's how you feel why don't you just call?"
"And actually speak to him?! God, no. No, no, cards are good."
“You know, if you mail it tomorrow it’s never going to reach him by Sunday.”
“The postmark is what counts.”
“Uh huh. Can I just say, I have never been so glad to be estranged from my blood relatives.” Xander shook his head. “There’s no reasoning with you on this, is there?”
“I am being reasonable.” Graham said, stubbornly picking up another card.
“Fine. Whatever. I’m going to the comics section, just meet me there when you’re done.” Xander turned, more than ready to take his leave of the greeting card aisle, when something stopped him dead in his tracks. He spun around again, eyes wide. “What did you just say?”
Graham blinked. “Huh?”
“It sounded like you just said ‘At least nothing Hellmouthy can happen on this holiday’, but I know you couldn’t have said that because then you would have jinxed us all to another holiday filled with unspeakable torment. You didn’t just do that, right? Right?!”
“Oh, good.” Xander put a hand to his heart and smiled. “Whoo. Was a little worried for a second there. Okay, find me when you’re done.”
Graham nodded, and watched him go, then turned back to the cards and uttered two simple little words. “Uh oh.”
Xander frowned as he got out the keys to the apartment. “Are you okay?”
Graham smiled, nervously. “What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s just that ever since we left the store you’ve been a little... jumpy.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“What’s that behind you?”
“What?! Where?!” Graham dropped the bags he was carrying and spun around, immediately moving into a defensive position, ready to protect his love from anything the Hellmouth might have spewed out this time, including... absolutely nothing. He turned back to Xander, ire overcoming protectiveness. “That wasn’t funny.”
“Then you should have seen it from this angle.” Xander crossed his arms over his chest. “Now, are you going to tell me what’s wrong or am I going to have to... Oh, for fuck’s sake, you said it, didn’t you?”
Graham briefly considered feigning innocence, but from the younger man’s already stormy expression he knew he woudn’t get very far. “Yes, I said it. But, come on, Xan, it’s Father’s Day. Halloween, I totally get. Thanksgiving, okay, sure, why not. Christmas, Easter, all right Flag Day... was a bit of a surprise, but *Father’s Day*?! What evil thing could possible want to come out and play on *Father’s Day*?”
“What is wrong with you? Do you have a death wish or something? Stop saying... Oh, my God. Oh, shit... Graham, look out!”
The Marine snorted. “That worked once, Xan, but there’s no way I’d fall for it agaurrrkkk!”
“You do know this is all your fault, right?” Xander hissed.
“What? I’m not the one who invited her into the apartment.”
“Uh, she would have *killed* you if I hadn’t.”
“Oh, so now she can slaughter both of us. Good plan.” Graham said scornfully.
“Well, excuse me for not wanting your intestines to get ripped out. Next time it’ll be different.”
“There probably won’t be a next time because *somebody* let her into the apartment!”
“And, what would you have done, Mr. I’m a Big, Stupid, Commando Guy? Huh? Huh?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure it would have been way beyond anything you’re capable of!”
“Oh, is that right?!”
Suddenly a high pitched squeal broke into the argument, making both men on the couch wince and turn towards their captor.
“You’re making bad noises. Bad noises! Baby’s ears are hurting!” Drusilla stuck out her bottom lip, and she stomped one dainty foot.
Xander looked at the pouting vampire, then at Graham, then back at the vampire. “Uh... we’re sorry, Dru.” After a few seconds of silence he gave the Marine a hard nudge.
“You shouldn’t fight.” Drusilla said, wisely. “Fighting is bad. Shhhh. Especially in front of the children.”
Graham looked quizzically at Xander who responded with a shrug. “You’re right, Dru,” the younger man said, “it’s just, sometimes grown-ups have differences of opinions about certain things and-”
“But, you still love him, right?”
“Of course.” Xander said immediately.
“And you?” Dru turned her gaze to Graham.
“Always.” The response came without hesitation.
She clapped her hands together. “Goody! I knew nothing was really wrong, but the salt shaker told me bad tales.”
“We’ve been meaning to get rid of that salt shaker.” Xander said gravely.
Dru nodded. “As well you should. Telling lies about my happy family.”
Graham’s eyebrows rose. “Her happy what?”
“Family.” Xander calmly patted his knee. “It’s okay, I think I get what’s going on.”
“No! No, sharing has to wait ‘til later!” Dru looked beseechingly at each man. “We must wait ‘til Angelus gets here, then my three Daddies can open their pressies together!”
“Pressies?” Graham’s eyes widened. “Daddies?!”
“Congratulations.” Xander slapped him on the back. “And, this is still *so* your fault.”
More often than not, whenever Angel arrived at the Sunnydale apartment, he was bone tired, completely wiped out from the ‘good fight’ back in L.A. The weekends with his two young humans were meant to rejuvenate and relax the vampire, who, in-between dodging tentacles this past week, could only think about chocolate flavored kisses and strong USMC trained hands working out the kinks in his back.
So, it came as a bit of a shock to find what was obviously his lovers’ grocery bags sitting in the middle of the hallway. Obvious because, as far as Angel knew, no one else in the building read ‘The Amazing Spider Man’, or ate Berry Blast protein bars.
Neither Graham nor Xander would have just left those things. No, something had happened. Something bad.
Pure rage brought Angel’s demon to the fore and without thinking of his own safety, or how much a new lock for the door was going to cost, he burst into the apartment.
“Hey, Angel.” Graham glanced up from his cards. “Go fish.”
“Dammit.” Xander stared at his hand in disgust. “I hate this game. Oh, hi, Angel.”
“Daddy!” Drusilla threw down her cards and then threw herself at her confused Sire. “You’re home! We’ve missed you so!”
“What the *hell* is going on here?!” Angel asked in a roar that made Xander and Graham flinch, and Drusilla shrink back, lower lip once again threatening to push out.
Xander stood and motioned to the elder vampire. “Deadboy, a word, if you please?”
“In the bedroom.”
When he heard that Xander was using his ‘Don’t mess with me on this’ tone, which so closely mirrored Willow’s it was frightening, Angel had no real choice. He meekly followed the younger mortal into the bedroom.
Graham got up, preparing to join them, but Drusilla promptly pushed him back in his seat, and climbed onto his lap. “While Daddy Xander chats with Daddy Angel, I thought you and I could have a chat too.”
“Uh...” Graham looked longingly at the closed bedroom door. “What kind of... chat?”
“The lamp says that you would love to hear all about my latest tea party.”
When Angel and Xander walked back into the living room a few minutes later they found an animated Drusilla happily blathering away to an almost comatose Graham.
“Dru,” She looked up at the sound of her Sire’s voice. “We’re all here now, isn’t there something you wanted to give us?”
Drusilla’s face lit up. “Oooh!” She rushed to the balcony. “I left them out here when I visited last night.”
“You were here last night?” Xander asked.
“Mmm, yes. Somebody forgot to close the blinds,” she said in a sing song voice. “Naughty Daddies. Tsk. Tsk.”
Xander and Graham blushed heavily, and Angel made a mental note to insist they *demonstrate* just what went on there the previous night.
Dru was still giggling when she came back into the living room, a shopping bag in one of her hands. She reached into the bag and pulled out three nicely wrapped boxes. “Here you are. Pressies.”
Angel, Xander, and Graham each dutifully took a package, though, mindful of the previous times strange women had come bearing gifts, they tried to only hold them by the corners.
“Well?” Dru bounced a bit, a trait she had apparently inherited from Xander. “I hope you like what I got. A shop girl at this quaint little haberdashery on the street where the horsies play-”
Angel sighed. “That’s Ro-da-o, Dru, not rod-e... nevermind.”
“She said a special day was fast approaching, a Father’s day, and that I should get each of my daddies something because she said...” the vampire scrunched up her face as she tried to remember, “that families can have more than one daddy. Screw the Republicans.” Dru smiled wistfully. “She was so sweet.”
“But, sweet in a she was nice to you and helped you out way, not in a mmm, mmm, good way, right?”
“Silly, Xander Daddy. Open your pressie.”
“Okay. Here goes.” Xander tore into the paper...
“I still can’t believe it.” Xander once again found himself staring fondly at his present. “A Snoopy tie. She got me a Snoopy tie!”
Graham lovingly hung up his own tie, which was adorned with little teddy bears in full Marine dress. “I guess having a psychic in the family won’t be all bad.”
“Yeah, but who’s gonna take her to tumble tots?” Xander asked with a grin.
“I think Angel should be the soccer mom.” Graham said, the grin on his face just as devilish as his lover’s.
“He can trade in the Plymouth and buy a minivan.”
“With cup holders.”
“And safety locks.”
“And Barney sing along tapes.”
“And he can wear his martini tie.”
“That should make the other parents feel at ease.”
“Oh, yeah.” The banter ended as their mouths met, and hands beagn to anxiously work at getting the clothes that always seemed to be in the way, off.
That was the scene that Angel walked in on, and for a few moments he simply stood and admired the view. Then, he said, “Started the demonstration without me, huh?”
Xander took his mouth off of one of Graham’s nipples long enough to say, “You took too long.”
Angel looked chagrined as he took off his shirt. “I know, but, hey, do either of you know why the lamp that used to be beside the couch is in the trash?”
A Capitol Holiday
Summary: Xander and Graham run into an unforeseen complication while on ‘vacation’
Date: July 4, 2001
Notes: Okay, so midnight has come and gone on the East coast, but I’m pretty sure it’s still the 4th in Hawaii.
Yay to Charles, sticking with me ‘til the end.
Graham carefully checked over his appearance in the bathroom mirror. He grimaced as he tugged at the tie around his throat. It had been a long time since he’d had to wear an official uniform and he had all but forgotten how stiff and constricting the material was. But, like most things about the trip, it was a necessity, though at least he could get away with leaving the dress blues in the closet a little while longer. Not like some other aspects of his life which were going to be harshly thrown out into the light of day and most likely poked with pointy sticks.
Pointy sticks. Graham sighed. Even three thousand miles away from Sunnyhell his analogies were still suffering residual effects... not that they’d ever been *that* great to begin with, but...
A low, appreciative wolf whistle from the doorway intruded into his rapidly expanding shroud of misery.
“You are definitely being all that you can be.”
Graham sighed. “That’s the Army slogan, Xander.”
“Yeah, I know, but I couldn’t think of anything lecherous about ‘The Few, The Proud....” He gave his lover another thorough leer. “And, believe me when I say; you, in that outfit, requires lecherous.”
Graham grinned in spite of his remaining apprehensions. “Thanks.” He patted his tie down one last time, then turned to his boyfriend. “I’m glad I’ll look presentable for the firing squad.”
“Oh, come on. It won’t be *that* bad.”
Graham raised an eyebrow.
The Marine let out a long exhale of breath. “Nah. They’re probably just going to make me give a detailed summary of the Initiative’s activities for the past six months, and then tell me they’re cutting our funding.”
“At least you’re keeping your hopes up. That’s the most important thing.”
“Uh huh. So... have you decided what you’re going to do today?”
Xander scratched his unbrushed hair and stifled a yawn. “Being Non-8AM-Meeting-at-the-Pentagon Guy, I am going to crawl back to bed and sleep for at least two more hours.”
Graham sighed again at the completely delectable image those words conjured. Spending a lazy morning in bed. The whole being next to Xander thing would just be icing. And, if he could just stay in the hotel room it might alleviate the not quite right feeling that was skittering up and down his spine.
“Are you sure you really want to go out today? I mean, you could just stay here until I get back. They have cable. You can order room service... or, um. Hey, pay-per-view?”
Xander scowled. “Don’t tell me you’re starting up again, *Angel*.”
“Hey, I am not as bad as Angel.”
“No, you’re not.” Xander agreed. “You know, I’m surprised he untied us in time for us to catch our plane.”
“I’m surprised he didn’t try to stow away in the luggage compartment. Although,” Graham’s expression softened somewhat. “I can understand why he’s a little worried.”
The younger man rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to say nothing's going to happen, because, well, we all know it’s wrong to say *that*-”
“You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?”
“-No. But, come on. We’re miles away from the Hellmouth, on the other side of the country, no, wait, the other side of the *continent*. That makes it seem further away. And, I know a major holiday is coming up tomorrow, but I really don’t think we should worry.” He put his hands on the broad, uniformed shoulders in front of him.
The Marine moved closer to him. “I know, it’s just...”
“I’m gonna be fine. Hey, born and raised on the Hellmouth, here.”
“I’ve looked into the eyes of creatures that bounded straight out of hell, and seen Buffy before she’s had her morning grooming.”
“It’s a little different-”
“’Sides, how the hell am I supposed ot get into trouble when Willow has so carefully planned out every single breath I’m taking.” With that Xander once again whipped out the non-governmental itinerary for the trip.
When the other Scoobies had caught wind of the not quite vacation, they had jumped at the chance to offer their own suggestions on ‘must see’ locations. Each of them had written down a detailed listing of everything Xander and/or Graham just *had* to experience while they were in the nation’s capital. The spots ranged from the Library of Congress (Giles), to the piranha feeding at the National Aquarium (Spike), to the Treasury Building (Anya - “I know that’s not where they actually make the money, but that place has some kind of association with it. Go there. I mean it.”). Not to mention Willow’s contributions...
Xander began to read down the redheaded witch’s list. “The National Geographic’s Explorer’s Hall, the F.B.I building, the National Air and Space Museum. the National Museum of Natural History-”
‘Wait, isn’t that where they keep the Hope Diamond?”
“Um...” Xander rifled through a few more pages. “Maybe. Yeah, I think so.”
“Okay, if I can’t convince you to stay in the room, can I at least have your promise that you’ll stay away from any openly cursed objects?”
“You’re just no fun.”
Three hours after Graham left for Arlington, Xander found himself in the hotel’s lobby giving the clerk behind the desk his most winning grin. “Hello. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of the nearest Metro station?”
The hotel clerk, who was always nice to tourists (especially cute ones with big brown eyes) smiled gamely. “Sure,” he said. “there’s one about two blocks south of here. Just take a right when you exit the building.”
“No problem. Here’s a map to the system and how the stops relate to museums and stuff.” The clerk held out a thin white brochure. “You know, the zoo, Union Station, the White House...”
“Oh, great. Though,” Xander frowned slightly, thinking of his to-do list. “none of those places are really on my itinerary.”
“You’re in D.C. and you’re not planning on going ot the White House?”
“Do you think I might see anybody from the West Wing?”
“You mean the President and his cabinet?”
“No, the t.v. show.”
The clerk blinked a few times. “Oh... probably not.”
“Well, what about the Capitol building? You really should tour the Capitol.” The clerk thought fast. “You might not see any actors, but there’s a chance you might see a ghost.”
Xander leaned heavily against the marble topped concierge desk. “A what?”
“A ghost.” The hotel clerk replied gleefully. “Oh, yeah. They’re all over the place. Did you know that a lot of people consider Washington D.C. to be the United States’s most haunted city?”
Graham took a sip of beer, then glanced at his watch. It was just a little variation on the normal pattern of glancing at his watch, then taking a sip of beer that had developed over the past ten minutes.
Xander was late.
Xander was ten minutes late.
That was okay, though. There were all sorts of plausible, non demonic related reasons why he might be ten whole minutes late. His watch might have stopped (or someone might have mugged him and taken it). One of the trains he was taking might have been delayed (because it crashed into the Potomac). He might be stacked up in the city morgue (because Graham should have never, ever, ever, ever, ever let him go out by himself-)
Graham’s eyes snapped up as Xander plopped down into the seat across from him. “Thank God! Uh... I mean, hi.”
Xander eyeballed him. The Marine smiled weakly.
The younger man snorted and opened his menu. “So, how were your meetings?”
“They made me me give a detailed summary of the Initiative’s activities for the past six months, and then they told me they’re cutting our funding.”
“Damn.” Xander thought for a moment. “Now we know which side of the family Dru takes after most.”
“Yeah.” Graham brought the bottle back up to his lips and took another swig. “Too bad I can’t use her method of solving things, and just pull their intestines out and string them up in the... uh, yeah, we need a few more minutes. Thanks.” Graham grimaced.
“Way to convince our waitress you’re a psycho killer.” Xander nodded approvingly as he watched the young woman swiftly retreat into the kitchen.
“Right. So, how was your day? Get anything on the list done?”
“Quite a bit, actually. Though, I gotta say, Spike would have been incredibly disappointed. The food they feed the piranha is already finger sized. There wasn’t even hint of a bloody frenzy. Such a let down. Oh, by the way, did you know that a demon cat haunts the Capitol building?”
“What?! A demon... Dammit! I really didn’t want to have to kill anything on this... What? Oh, uh, we’ll take a basket of cheese sticks for an appetizer. Thanks.”
Xander waited until their now rather pale waitress was once again out of earshot. “Think all this talk of death is going to help the service any?”
“Xander.” The solider growled. “This demon cat, did you see it? Do you know what it wants? How do you think we should stop it?”
“Whoa, hold on there.” Xander held up his hands. “No, I haven’t seen it. In fact, the only times it comes out are during a national tragedy or when there’s a change in the power of the government.”
“Oh, do you know who else haunts the Capitol?”
“President James Garfield. There’s also marble staircase that still has bloodstains from this gunfight that happened back in the 1890’s.”
“Gunfight?” Graham cleared his throat. “Um... I... don’t... Are *you* okay?”
“Me? I’m great! Would you like to hear about who haunts the White House?”
‘Not right now.”
“Okay. I bet you didn't know we’re going to spend Independence Day in one of the most haunted cities in America, did you?”
“I know this is a working vacation, but, come on.” Graham mumbled. “Okay, what are we supposed to do?”
“That's right.” Xander smiled at their waitress, who shuddered and quickly dropped their basket of cheese sticks on the table.
“Nothing?” Graham repeated again. “We’re going to do nothing?”
“Well, we can’t exactly go up to Abraham Lincoln and tell him to stop haunting his bedroom, can we?”
“Look,” Xander popped some fried cheese into his mouth. “Near as I can figure, most of the transparent citizens are more welcome here the solid ones. The living and the dead seem to get along with each other, for the most part.” He shrugged. “Why mess with a good thing?”
Graham thought about this for a moment. “And, my budget did suffer some pretty serious cuts... Okay, I’m sold. No ghostbusting this trip.”
“Great. Hey, think we might see anybody famous among the ranks of the pulse impaired?”
“Look, the only dead person I’m interested in seeing anytime soon is the one we’re sleeping with... Oh, hey. Yeah, I’m ready to order...”
Xander entered the hotel room, his sneakers still swishing into the carpet. “Okay, who the hell thought of having an open air celebration in the middle of a monsoon?”
“Ah, it wasn’t that bad.” Graham hopped on one foot, struggling to remove a wet sock. “I mean, we did get to see the fireworks.” He straightened, his bare toes digging into the dry carpet. “Among other things.”
“Yeah, who knew that old Honest Abe could get down and boogie. And, that other guy, by the bandstand, that was Thomas Jefferson, right?”
“Hmmm. I don’t know. All the ones in wigs kind of look the same to me. Besides, I was a little too busy watching you.” Graham’s cheeks dimpled. “Do you know how unbelievably sexy you look completely drenched?”
Xander tugged at his soaked, form fitting tee shirt. “The wet look works pretty good for you too.” He grinned in anticipation as Graham’s own shirt was slowly peeled away from his body. “So, you’re free tomorrow, right?”
Graham finally got the soggy piece of material over his head. “Yep. My next meeting is on Friday. Why? Already planning our day?”
“Maybe.” Xander licked his lips as Graham pushed his shorts down. “I was thinking we could head up the road to Baltimore and see Edgar Allen Poe’s grave.”
The Marine paused in the act of removing his boxers. “Uh... no.”
“Oh, okay. Then, maybe, we could head down the road to Richmond to see Edgar Allen Poe’s birthplace.”
The now naked Marine began to slowly advance on the still clothed and slightly shivering younger man. “I don’t think so.”
“Fine.” Xander lifted his arms as Graham relieved him of his shirt. “Or, I guess we could always call Angel and indulge in some phone sex.”
“That’s more like it.” The Marine murmured against Xander’s neck. “Wait. That’ll be a collect call, right?”