How Green Becomes Wood

As Dark and Daizi drove away, suddenly aware they were completely alone, and would be all weekend, they forgot about how strange it was to be in that situation again for the first time in so long, and Daizi tipped her head back and with a heavy sigh said, "God, I really wish I wasn't pregnant." Dark laughed, reached over to hold her hand for a moment, and they drove away towards the spa.

Sloan, meanwhile, laughed at the sight of the text, and since she lived across the street was over in only about 20 minutes with a dvd of Pulp Fiction and Ghost Busters, and a big bag of Sour Patch Kids. She knocked on the door, and as soon as it was answered she said, "Wow, you two are cooler than I thought."


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"I'll pretend like that's a compliment," Xander said, stepping aside to let her in.

"Hi, Sloan!" Alec called from the living room where he was in the process of piling every pillow and blanket he could lay his hands on. "Peter should be here in about ten minutes or so, and we need you to settle something for us. I think we should build a blanket fort, but Xander says no."

"There is no way we could actually build it so we could all fit and still see the screen. Especially the all fitting part," Xander said. "He glanced at Sloan's choices and grinned. "And I definitely want to see these movies."
"Hmm..." She hummed, looking around the house carefully as she went to the living room. This house was across the street from her, all dark and foreboding, her entire life, but she had never been allowed inside before. Her mom, hating the general witchy, vampiric, energy barely liked her going up to it on Halloween, so Sloan had never seen beyond the foyer, "You know, this place looks exactly like I thought it would," then she turned, "I love a blanket fort, but Xander is right, there's no way all four of us could fit and watch it. Unless we seriously move furniture around and Mr. Dark has some massive blankets or something."

She paused for a moment and made a face, "You know, I know he's my neighbor and all, but it's kinda weird to imagine what kind of blankets my teacher uses. While standing in his house. With him not here. I can't imagine how awkward it must have been for you both in the beginning."


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Alec and Xander both paused and looked at each other. They hadn't really thought of it that way.

"Way to make it weird, Slo," Xander drawled.

Alec gasped suddenly. "I forgot! Oh no! You need to take off your shoes and touch the salt!" He dropped the blankets he was holding and started shooing Sloan back toward the front door.

Xander winced. "No, that was my bad. Sorry. Hopefully it won't make a difference. It's not like she's an evil force, I don't think. She does have hidden depths."
"Touch the salt...?" Sloan asked, deeply and visibly confused. She walked backwards for a few steps and then back by the front door took off her shoes and then, after the bowl being pointed out to her, reached up one hand and lightly touched the salt, "Evil force? What are you guys talking about?"

There was no hint of mockery in her voice, only bewilderment because their response was so intense.


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"Daizi believes touching salt cleanses energy," Alec explained to her. "I'm not entirely certain I understand it, but it boils down to keeping bad vibes out of the house. She has everyone touch the salt when they first come in, and Dark says no shoes."

Peter chose that moment to knock on the door, and Alec reached around Sloan to open the door. Peter grinned and held up a bag of kettle corn the size of his torso. "I brought kettle corn! And sodas, but they are in the car. Xander?"

"Yeah, I'll help," Xander agreed, going to get them.

Mr. Hollis waved from the driver's seat but didn't get out. He was on his way to a meeting and didn't have many extra minutes.
"Oh, okay," Sloan replied, and touched the salt again for good measure, "I should have expected that from him, I guess, with how neat he keeps his classroom and all. And this place," she looked around again, "It's like nobody actually lives here or something it's so clean. Hey Peter, how're you?" She asked, moving away from the door, "They're not gonna be mad that we came over, right? Because they're definitely gonna know, my mom'll make sure of that."


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"He has a bit of an obsession, which is going to be interesting when the baby arrives," Alec said, hurrying out of the doorway.

Peter kicked off his shoes and rubbed his fingers in the salt, remembering from previous visits. "I am doing fantastic! I brought some music I brought over from Oz."

"Don't worry," Xander said, carrying the sodas to the kitchen. "As long as we clean up and don't break anything or get the cops called on us, it'll be fine."

"Oh, are we building a giant nest?" Peter grinned, heading straight for the living room.

Alec glanced at Sloan. "Would you like a brief tour?"
"Oz? As in 'Wizard of'?" Sloan asked, and then immediately felt stupid when her next thought was a vague recollection of Oz being somehow related to Australia, and she looked quickly at Peter hoping he'd just let it go and did her best to change the subject, "A tour would be interesting... I mean, I don't want to act like I'm prying or voyeuristic or anything, it's just they hace a very interesting style..." She did a half turn, "My house is really boring, you know, it really really is. It looks like one of those homes you see in those decorating magazines, the sort of place where you wouldn't even realize real people lived there until you saw our pictures on the wall. You can actually tell Mr. Dark and Daizi live here. It's cool..." She turned back to Alec, "but I don't want to see any of their personal spaces. Like, more personal than this. This is already really weird."


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"Nope, but that'd be cool, too," Peter grinned, well used to the misunderstanding by now.

"Don't worry, we'll stick to the more public areas," Alec assured her with a smile. "We were going to paint a mural on our walls, but got sidetracked, otherwise I'd show you that. Let's start upstairs, and I'll show you the music room, and you can peak into Daizi's study but not go in. She probably wouldn't mind, she'd love to show it off to you, but since she's not here, we'll just look through the door. Then the kitchen and the garden. There are other rooms, but they are either boring or personal. You will adore the garden!" Alec took Sloan's hand purely from excitement and led her up the stairs, still chattering away.

With Sloan and Alec busy, Xander and Peter set about setting up the living room into the ultimate hang-out area while waiting for the pizza to arrive. When it did, they laid everything out on the counter with Xander sneaking a slice in advance. Peter figured out the stereo system and out in one of his CDs while they waited for Alec and Sloan to finish running around the house.
Sloan followed Alec through the house. Occasionally she would remark on something, but mostly she just looked curiously at everything. The most amazing part, to her, was at how all of the house seemed rather exactly like she had expected it to be. Except for the garden, considering the way Dark and Daizi presented themselves, she hadn't expected such a brightly coloured and cottage-like space to be at all part of their lives. She stood out in it for a little while, enjoying the smell of the flowers, and then pointed up to the big tree in the yard and said, "You should build a treehouse in that. I always wanted one as a kid, but my parents said they were ugly, and that we didn't have a good enough tree for one. But that's the perfect tree."

Then she went back inside to rejoin Xander and Peter with a satisfied stretch. Enkidu hopped up onto the couch with them, and she began to pet him with one hand while trying to figure out if she really liked the music or not (she thought she did, it was just different than the genres she normally listened to.


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The evening went off beautifully, though Alec was scared by a couple of scenes in Ghostbusters and flatly refused to watch Pulp Fiction. Xander loved Ghostbusters and was totally up for Pulp Fiction, but Peter wasn't so sure. So, they decided to skip that one and ate kettle corn until it was time for Sloan and Peter to head home.

For the rest of the weekend, Xander looked after Enkidu and kept them all fed. Alec looked after the other pets. He liked the rats, so that was easy, and as tarantulas did not have to be fed more than a couple of times a week, he only had to look in on Neith and make sure she was still alive. She was. The rest of the time, they watched movies, played games, ate junk, and slept in the blanket pile on the living room floor. Occasionally, they remembered to go outside and get some actual air.

Then, the day of Dark and Daizi were to return, they cleaned everything up. Blankets and clothes went in the washing machine, and Alec dutifully swapped loads and folded laundry when it came out of the dryer. Xander cleaned everything from the crumbs in the couch to the smudges on the flat surfaces, to the tiny crevices under the kitchen cabinets. Once they were satisfied, they sat on the couch with one of Daizi's CD's playing at low volume, absolutely exhausted and with only a few minutes to spare.
Sloan was somewhat disappointed they hadn't decided to watch Pulp Fiction, but since she owned it, it wasn't really that big of a deal. She did tell Xander that if he ever wanted to come over and watch it, he was welcome to, but didn't do so boldy in front of everyone, because she didn't want to make Alec in particular feel badly about it. And still, it was a nice evening, so at the end she gave them a friendly wave and walked across the street back to her house.

That particular evening, Dark and Daizi were getting a couples massage and a few other professional spa treatments before continuing their trip to the forest for the next few days.

Sunday night they had texted the twins they were on their way home and let them the time they were expected to make it there and then began the conflicted drive home. Both Dark and Daizi missed their boys, and missed them much more than they were expecting to considering they were only gone for a weekend, so in that way they were excited to be going home. But on the other hand... It was real damn nice to get to really just focus on each other with no distractions (or, almost none, the baby remained adamant about how she would not be ignored) for the first time since December. For pretty much the entire time they had gone on fairly regular dates, but a few hours alone is very different than a few days alone, and they never had that adjustment period to prepare for the change from life as a couple to life as a family. So excited as they were to be going home, they a bit wished they had just a little bit more time alone... And felt a bit guilty for it. It was just lovely to not have anyone gag when they expressed their love.

Before they knew it, they had pulled into their driveway, and had come back inside their house. Enkidu, at the sound of just their car in the driveway, ran up to the door, whining. Both adults came inside, and as they took off their shoes and touched the salt, Daizi called out that they were home, and then bent down to give all the love and attention their dog desperately needed from them.


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"Hey, how was the spa?" Xander asked, not getting up from his lounging position on the couch.

Alec got up and hurried over to wait for his turn for affection. "Was it lovely? The whole trip? It looks like it was lovely. You both look so relaxed and happy!"

Xander grinned. "Of course they're relaxed. They didn't have to deal with us."
After Enkidu decided his score with Daizi was settled, he hurried over to Dark, which freed her up to hug Alec, "Oh, it was wonderful. I think we both really needed it. And it was just so peaceful in the forest, just..." She sighed, happily, gently stroking Alec's hair and squeezing him slightly, "But I missed you both very much. There was nobody there to fuss at us for being too loving with each other."

"She was there," Dark replied mildly, "How was your weekend? I am sure you were thrilled to have the house to yourselves."


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"It was a lot of fun," Alec agreed, hugging Daizi back tightly. "We missed you, but it was also really fun to have the place to ourselves."

"We certainly didn't have any kind of wild party," Xander agreed, straight-faced. "We went straight to bed every evening and spent the day doing wholesome activities. We deeply missed having the parental figures making kissy faces at each other while bossing us about."
Dark rolled his eyes, "When do we boss you around?"

"Somehow I doubt you went straight to bed every evening," Daizi laughed, coming further into the house so she could sit down on the couch with Xander. She wasn't going to hug him, because she knew he didn't like that sort of thing, but she missed him too, so she wanted to be near him, and after sitting there she gave him a warm, welcoming grin, "but it is good if you missed us while still being glad to be alone. It makes me feel better. But certainly you must have gotten up to at least a single shenanigan. Even the tiniest one?"


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Xander sat up and awkwardly patted Daizi's arm. His version of a warm and welcoming hug. "Nope. Not even the tiniest, itsy-bittiest one. We were as good as the golden eggs laid by the giant's goose."

"We did eat food in here instead of the kitchen, but then we cleaned up thoroughly," Alec offered. Shyly, he turned to Dark and offered a hug, but he didn't presume like he did with Daizi. He wasn't always good about checking with Dark before hugging him, but he did try to remember.
For only a second, she put her hand over his and then settled down, "And I don't suppose you had anyone over either? Not even a single person? Not for a brief instant?"

"Oh, it is okay you ate down here," Dark replied, and gave Alec the hug he wanted, although he didn't linger in it for as long as Daizi had. Afterwards, he looked at Alec differently for a moment, when it suddenly occurred to him that here is this kid he had brought home less than a year ago, who originally only went home with him because he had sprained his ankle, and now they had spent two days apart and were greeting each other with hugs and well-wishes as if it had been weeks apart. It seemed very strange, and very sweet, to really have a moment to recognize how much he had grown to care about these boys. His eyebrows twitched slightly, and then he hugged Alec a second time, tighter than he had before, and said, "I missed you."


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"Nope. Not a single person for even one iota of a second. Oh, except the pizza delivery guy, but he didn't get farther than standing outside the front door," Xander said with a smirk. "How about you two? Did you actually relax, or did you spend the whole time fretting about us?"

Caught by surprise by the hug, Alec wasn't sure what to do at first. Then he melted a little and hugged Dark back warmly. "I missed you, too," he admitted quietly. "I'm glad you had a good time, and glad to have you back." This second hug felt different, though he wasn't quite sure why.