Summary: Xander moves to the suburbs to be a house husband, but he becomes fascinated by his neighbor, a reclusive writer.
Warnings: AU, human, Xander/Anya
Word count: 7,181
Disclaimer: I wish they were mine, sadly Joss and Mutant Enemy won't let them go. Not for profit.
Feedback: Yes, please!
Beta: dragons__breath for typos, so all other mistakes are mine. :)
A New Life
The welcome-to-the-neighborhood cocktail party is no place he’s ever imagined himself being. He snorts into his lite beer. A suburban neighborhood that hasn’t worn the new off yet is no place he’s ever imagined himself at all. You read about such places, see them on TV, but he’s never thought of himself in context of one of these places.
The soullessness of the place frightens him, but he derides himself for his fears. Normality ought not to send him screaming for the hills.
Of course, he hadn’t ever predicted that he’d end up married to a wildly successful personal injury lawyer. He thinks that she does so well because she looks so harmless and cute. She is with a gaggle of other wives now, her eyes wide and guileless. They are all taken in by her . . . opposing counsel, malpracticing doctors, drunk drivers, and then she drops the hammer on them. No one escapes her wrath.
He still doesn’t understand why they have to make this move. He’d been happy in their downtown loft, with its view of the skyline and the strong old bones of the former factory sheltering them. Anya claims that Maddy is getting old enough to need the school system, but there are plenty of good schools they could have sent her to without actually moving.
He writes it off as some mysterious female migratory instinct and tries not to wince when the doors in their new home ring hollow every time they shut.
“Now the Reynolds are two houses down from you. He’s an electrical engineer, sells chips, travels a lot. She’s the president of the PTA.”
Xander thinks he might need a map. He’s never been good at remembering lots of things at once, but he’s sure that Anya will know the entire family tree of everyone within five hundred yards of their house.
“Who’s next door to us on the other side? I’ve never seen anyone yet.”
His host makes a strangled noise and looks around intently. “Oh, geez, he lost track of time again.”
He scouts the crowd again and this time he finds who he’s looking for. “Brendan!”
A teenaged boy ambles over, looking ridiculously well maintained. Xander wonders what happened to greasy rebellion.
“Son, William forgot the time again. Go drag him away from his monitor.”
The boy smiles good-naturedly and lopes across the cul-de-sac.
His host . . . Eric, Xander finally remembers, says, “William Bradford. He’s a writer. When he’s working hard, we don’t see him for days at a time. But we make a point to drag him out into the sunshine every so often.”
Xander grunts noncommittally, unable to decide if the kindness is real or just another facade. Maybe it doesn’t matter. The reclusive author will benefit either way.
“So will we see you in church on Sunday?”
A sticky one. Despite insisting that they have a large church wedding, Anya has absolutely no use for organized religion and he is just as happy to leave the narrow confines of his childhood experiences behind when they wed.
“Ah well, Anya, you know.”
“I see. The little woman is in charge of picking?” Eric grins heartily. “I’ll just have to convince her that ours is the best choice.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Xander nods.
But then Brendan comes back followed by someone who looks more out of place than Xander feels. He is slightly built, a tousled towhead, dressed in black jeans and black T in the face of the warm spring night.
He nods shyly to Xander and takes the beer he’s handed. Xander doesn’t know what to say to him, but he wants to ask how on earth he’s landed here, in this place that seems to suck all the differences and creativity out of the people who live in the sterilized atmosphere.
The writer doesn’t seem much for small talk, letting the women swirl around him, feeding him and cosseting him. Xander shrugs. They live next door, and he’ll get his chance some other time.
On Monday morning, Anya goes over Maddy’s schedule with him, making sure that he understands when he is supposed to be where.
“She’s only four. Why does she have to have play dates? Can’t she just play?”
She gives him the look that he sees on occasion, the one that makes him cringe. It says that he is an uneducated manual laborer and she is a Mensa member and a rising star in the local bar, so he has no right to have an opinion on the subject.
“That’s not how it’s done. Do you want her to be disadvantaged?”
There is, of course, no correct answer to that, so Xander doesn’t try to explain his position. Anya is no doubt following the cutting edge of child rearing research.
He isn’t working at the moment, because his job had been in the city. None of the builders in the area have any use for a skilled worker who keeps his union card current. Out here, they have far too many illegal immigrants who will work cheap enough so that the young professionals can afford the American dream when they finish slapping their shoddy houses together. It doesn’t really matter for them financially, but Xander has been looking forward to spending his days with his daughter before she really does get too big and leave her childhood, and him, behind.
But he gives in. His wife is a force of nature and everybody who meets her knows it.
After he drops Maddy off, he goes by the garden center, determined to find something to fill his time and to make their tract house look more like a home. He can use his hard work and sweat to give his girls someplace beautiful.
He gets lost inside landscape design magazines and after asking the advice of nearly everyone in the place, he finally decides what he wants to do. He makes arrangements to have truckloads of mulch, and top soil, and rocks delivered the next day. When he gets home, he takes chalking line and starts laying out beds.
While he’s studying the angle of the walk up to the front door, the hair on his neck rises, like someone is watching him. But when he turns around, he sees nothing but a peaceful suburban street, dull and bland as it had been a minute ago. He dismisses the feeling as a result of the general Stepford creepiness the ‘burbs gave him.
The place could definitely use a little variety. Every lot in this neighborhood is completely flat, devoid of trees or anything else interesting. Xander calculates where he can add raised beds and where he can raise the grade itself slightly. He’s grinning, busy planning, making sure the drainage angles wouldn’t be affected, tracing sight lines. He’s actually having fun for the first time since they’d moved.
The feeling of being watched comes back several times, but he can never catch anyone at it. He quits working and showers off when it gets close to time to pick up Maddy.
The next day he starts the serious digging, turning up the sod that the builder had put down in the places that he wants to landscape. He wonders if Anya will be pissed, because they’d paid extra to get the back yard sodded too, but then he shrugs. He’ll deal if she does. Maybe she’ll understand his boredom.
It’s close to lunch time when his order is delivered. The pile of mulch is stored on one of the new beds and he puts a tarp over it. The topsoil goes in another pile, but the truck with the rocks has to dump them on the driveway. Okay, it won’t hurt them to park on the street for a few days.
After lunch he goes back to work, taking his shirt off as the day gets warmer. He gets the feeling of being watched again and this time when he turns around, his neighbor is standing on the sidewalk.
“Hello. William, right? You startled me.”
The man doesn’t seem to respond to that, but stares around at the chaos that is now Xander’s front yard. Xander wonders if he is socially inept or just painfully shy. He feels a babble coming on, just to fill the silence between them. But he restrains himself, deciding to wait out his odd neighbor.
“Wot are you doing?”
Xander has almost given up on the man actually responding to him and the question takes him by surprise.
“It’s so boring, all these yards look alike. I’m trying to make ours more dramatic.”
“Do tell, mate.”
The slight English accent is intriguing and Xander wonders again what the story is with the man, but he finds himself telling William everything he envisions for the yard. He grows animated, explaining color schemes and water features. He drags William into the back yard and demonstrates the area he plans to turn into a play park for Maddy. Walking back around to the front, Xander finds himself slightly hoarse and realizes that he’d babbled anyway, despite his resolve.
“Very creative,” William comments.
“Creative? No, it’s just gardening.”
The look he gets is amused. “Nay, it’s art. With stone and earth and green growing things.”
His voice takes on a rhythmic cadence, as though he’s reciting a line of poetry and Xander feels himself unaccountably flushing with the praise.
“I never thought of that.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, mate.”
William turns and walks back into his house then. Xander shakes his head at the abrupt departure, deciding that William is incredibly socially inept. But a very good listener.
An hour later, he’s sweating profusely and his water bottle is empty, but then William comes back with a large insulated jug and puts it down on the driveway. The writer leaves before Xander has a chance to say anything to him. Opening the jug, he finds it full of iced tea. He raises it in salute to the silent house next door before tilting his head back and taking a long drink. It’s refreshing, perfect.
The tea is nearly gone by the time he needs to quit to get Maddy. He showers, then rinses the jug out, leaving it on the driveway. When he gets back with Maddy, having gone to the grocery store to get taco fixings for dinner that night, the jug has disappeared.
Surprisingly, Anya doesn’t object to the rocks in the driveway, merely comments that it was time Xander found something to do. Dinner is relaxed and Xander takes the opportunity to find out what she knows about William, never doubting that his wife had managed to ferret out all possible information concerning their neighbors. She tells him that their fellow suburbanites think he’s morbidly shy or possibly that his heart has been so thoroughly broken that he had turned into an uncommunicative recluse.
Maddy has been successfully deposited for her current day’s activities and Xander comes home to finish working his beds. He’d gotten the sod removed and is working the topsoil in. He takes his shirt off right away and then goes inside for sunscreen, the waterproof bottle so he won’t sweat it off.
Going back outside, he finds William standing on the driveway with the jug from the day before.
“Thanks for that. It really hit the spot.”
William sets the jug down, but he doesn’t seem inclined to leave, leaning against the brick mailbox and watching Xander work. He asks an occasional question and Xander answers easily. They start a desultory conversation punctuated with long silences that Xander doesn’t feel compelled to fill, for once. It’s sort of peaceful.
He’s grinning, having discovered that William has a sly sense of humor and an absolutely piercing insight into the people that live around them. Xander finally stops for lunch. William hasn’t moved from his position propping up the mailbox.
“You know, rumor has it that you are incapable of socializing with anyone.”
The other man shrugs. “Just don’t choose to. Not many of these gits are worth my time.”
The implication being that Xander is worth his time and Xander doesn’t know why he is so absurdly pleased by that.
“Would you like a sandwich?”
William follows him into the house and paces around while Xander builds the sandwiches. He’s reminded of some big cat in a zoo, pacing in lament of its captivity. William is a puzzle and he is finding himself determined to solve him.
He’ll have to go carefully, because he senses that William would flee back inside his house if Xander pries too much. For some reason, he wants to be friends with the man. The writer is far more interesting than the other self-satisfied residents of the street.
“What do you write, William?”
“Will. You can call me Will.”
William takes a bite, chewing his sandwich, and Xander wonders again if the man plans on answering. But he is getting used to Will’s rhythms and so he waits, concentrating on his own food.
“Bodice rippers, some. Mystery serials. Nothing important.”
Xander nearly chokes. “You write romance novels? As William Bradford?”
Will chuckles and smirks. “Nah. Lacey Deltornade.”
Xander snorts. “No way! That’s . . . that’s . . . .”
“Happen it sells.” He leers at Xander. “Maybe I’ll lend you a copy and you can see my grasp of erotic fiction.”
Xander laughs. “Maybe you should.”
He smiles back at Will, wondering if they are flirting with each other. If Will had been a woman, he’d say they definitely are, but considering . . . okay, it isn’t his place to make judgments. Whatever they are doing, it’s harmless. And even then he seriously doubts that Will is gay because homosexuals tend to avoid the suburbs like the plague. He and Anya had friends of all stripes when they lived downtown, but their gay friends had shuddered when they’d told their plans to move further out.
When they go back outside, Will takes up his place beside the mailbox again, leaving only to refill the jug of tea. Xander enjoys the company, but he can’t help teasing Will as he is finishing up in preparation for picking up Maddy.
“You could help, you know.”
“And here I thought my scintillating conversation was relieving the dull tedium of your manual labor.”
But the next day, Will shows up wearing cargo pants with a drooping waist and a faded T that says ‘Anarchy in the UK.’ Xander grins and hands him a shovel.
“I didn’t think grubbing around in the dirt was your thing, Ernest.”
“Right. I’m flattered mate, but I don’t think Papa Hemingway made his living trying to get bored housewives’ panties wet.”
“Hmm. Wasn’t he the one who talked about the earth moving? Sounds sexy to me.”
“Point.” Will continues to work. “It ever happen for you? The earth moving.”
Xander considers, trying to remember all the times he’d slept with Anya or his girlfriends before her. “No. I don’t think so. You?”
But Will ignores the question and Xander takes it to mean the subject was out of bounds. As the sun gets higher, both men take their shirts off and Xander tosses Will the bottle of sunscreen.
“Here. You look like a ghost.”
“Ta,” Will says with a roll of his eyes.
Will gets himself covered, except for the spot in the middle of his back. Xander steps up and finishes the job. He can’t help noticing that beneath his clothes, Will isn’t as slender as he’d thought. His muscles are well-developed, sculpted. Xander wonders how he keeps in such good shape. Xander thinks he’ll have to start going to a gym soon, otherwise middle-age expansion is going to show up ahead of schedule. A life of plenty isn’t exactly the best thing for keeping oneself from becoming an embarrassing statistic.
“So why here?”
“Whaddaya mean, mate?”
Xander gestures around to the neatly manicured lawns and the total absence of other people.
“It’s all so bland. I never pictured the suburbs as being much of an inspiration for any kind of creativity.”
“You’d be surprised,” Will mutters. But then he grins. “What? You imagined me starving picturesquely in some garret, shivering over me typewriter while the wind whistles through the cracks?”
“Something like that,” Xander smiles.
Will shrugs, shifting his load of dirt, and tamping it down with the flat of his shovel. “It’s quiet, mostly. That’s all I really need. Folk leave me alone unless they think I haven’t showed my face enough.”
He leans on his shovel. “And I’ve no objections to creature comforts.”
Later, when they are on a tea break, Will surprises Xander by talking more.
“Didn’t always live here. Wasn’t always this man.”
There is probably a hell of a story to that, Xander imagines, but he keeps quiet, knowing Will will go on when he feels like it.
“Used to call meself Spike. In another life.”
“Do you want me to . . . ?”
“Nah. Some things get lost along the way and you can’t turn around to get them. I’m Will now.”
The other man’s easy acceptance of his losses hits Xander hard, grief that isn’t his own.
“Lived in New York a few years ago. Did far too many drugs, OD’d once. I can’t . . . I don’t . . . there’s some part of me missing now. I don’t know how to be with people any more. This place is nicely anonymous. A refuge, like.”
“Oh. You seem okay to me. I thought you were just shy.”
Will looks abashed. “You . . . you’re different somehow. Easy to be with.”
Again Xander feels way more pleased than the situation warrants with Will’s praise. When did he get so needy?
“Yeah. You too . . . you know.”
They go back to work.
The beds are gradually shaping up and Xander is excited to see his vision becoming reality. He drags Will with him to the nursery and they argue full sun versus partial shade and annuals versus perennials. He settles on a mixture, buying a riot of color and planting them in great swaths. He enjoys spending time with Will, finding the writer to have a wide knowledge about many subjects, but the blonde never makes him feel inferior because he had dropped out of college after a semester and a half.
The announcement kiosk at the entrance to the subdivision says, ‘Flag Day Barbeque, sign up for a covered dish.’ He mentions it to Anya at dinner and she tells him that she’s already put them down for a dessert. She’s debating whether to wow them something incredibly complicated or confuse them with edgy simplicity. ‘Them’ of course being the other party-goers. Anya never loses track of her audience.
He is surprised to see Will at the barbeque. He looks nothing like the type of person you’d see at a summer picnic. He’s reverted to his unapproachable black garments . . . black jeans and T, heavy black boots. Xander can’t help noticing, that despite his clothes and his monosyllabic answers to questions, people are drawn to him. They ply him with beer and food, flitting around him like courtiers in a palace. He is alien to them, but he radiates something that they can’t resist.
Xander is trapped in a conversation about the fall prospects of the local high school football team. He has nothing to add, but no one seems care. He catches Will’s gaze across the picnic tables and they exchange a look full of amusement. He feels like Will has winked at him although he was certain that he hasn’t, but it is like being a member of an exclusive club. It leaves Xander with a spreading warmth in his belly and a tight feeling in his chest. Either feeling should bother him, but he feels nothing other than an odd sort of contentment.
Maddy is in a ‘learning pod’ for the summer because Anya insists that she couldn’t face kindergarten without the proper preparatory courses. Xander plans to re-route the sprinkler system to account for the new beds. He and Will work together easily, laying the PVC and installing the valves. They have nearly finished by the time he has to go pick up Maddy.
The next day they finish and then argue about programming the controller. Xander thinks they’ve finally gotten it right and he turns on the valve and hits the manual start button to test the system.
They stand on the sidewalk and watch each zone come on like a symphony in water. Unfortunately, when the sprinkler head beside them comes on, raising up to distribute an even flow of water, the head blows off and they are standing under a fountain of water.
“Fuck! We must not have tightened that head enough,” Xander shrieks.
Will just laughs, standing under the plummeting water. Xander is caught, trapped in the moment as the water molds Will’s clothing to him, revealing every curve and bulge. He looks like something out of a story, something wild. Xander tears his gaze away and goes to the shut-off valve, and then he kneels in the mud, fixing the head back on.
“Get into dry togs and then come over for a beer. We’ll celebrate a job bloody well done.”
With a grin, Xander agrees, ignoring the early hour. He opens the door to Will’s house, walking in and heading for the kitchen. Will’s decor is a study in minimalism, not, Xander knows, because of any design choice on Will’s part. The writer just can’t be bothered. Although he does like his comforts. The fridge is well stocked with beer and wine, and anything else a bachelor might want. Xander knows from experience that Will terrorizes the manager of the supermarket deli counter into finding rare delicacies for him.
He has just popped the top off some imported brew that his host favored, when the man himself appears. Will has a towel wrapped around his waist and another slung over his shoulders. His hair is an impossible riot of soft curls and Xander clenches his fingers into fists to stop himself from touching.
“Took a bit of a shower. Didn’t want to offend.”
Xander still can’t talk, frozen by what he recognizes as surging lust. Will frowns, perhaps wondering why Xander’s so tongue-tied, but all Xander can think of is escaping before his inappropriate feelings become obvious. But then it’s too late. Will’s face clears.
“Oh, I see. It’s like that then?”
He steps back and holds Xander’s eyes while he deliberately drops his towel. Will stands with his shoulders back, posture straight and proud. Xander can’t tear his eyes away from the beauty of Will’s pale skin and sleek muscles. Xander thinks he’ll never be able to catch his breath again.
Will stays in place, but his hand trails down his torso and settles around his thick cock, giving it a light stroke, before holding it loosely and staring at Xander again.
“Are you wanting some of this?”
He squeezes himself and Xander moans when he sees a translucent drop of liquid appear at the tip. Xander is terrified, desperately wanting, but afraid to cross the final border into a wholly unknown country.
“Please what, pet?”
How pathetic was he, that he was already begging? “Please touch me.”
“Right. Not something a bloke wants to do without a clear invite. Not if he doesn’t want his head bashed in.”
“I’m inviting you. Fuck. Touch me.”
He steps forward and takes Xander’s beer bottle out of his hand, setting it carefully on the counter.
“You had only to ask, pet.”
His hands cup Xander’s jaw, and Xander feels the spell break and he takes a deep shuddering breath, whimpering almost, at the tail end of it. His arms go around Will, and he’s trembling, overwhelmed by what he’s feeling and unable to find his way back to himself.
Will’s hands steady him, even as Will’s body presses against him. Xander groans, not nearly satisfied with the contact, not until they can be skin to skin. A small trembling starts in his muscles, something he can’t control and he doesn’t know why it’s happening, but he has to think it’s the need that he can no longer deny.
Warm fingers rest at his waist and Will nudges his hands under Xander’s T-shirt. Xander watches Will’s eyes become a darker blue as he slowly raises the material, his hands never leaving Xander’s skin. When the shirt is gone, Will wraps his arms around Xander, their chests pressing together. Will’s skin is so pale, light seems to shine from it and the feel of his crinkled nipples pressing small points against Xander’s torso breaks his stasis.
His hands go around Will’s shoulders and he dips his mouth down, wanting to taste. Will lets him in and Xander’s mouth is full of the flavor of the other man . . . beer and cigarettes and something else that sends his tongue driving urgently inside the hot mouth to identify, but Xander finally decides must be Will’s own unique flavor.
They pull apart after endless minutes; Xander’s chin is slick with spit and his lips feel abraded from Will’s light beard. But he’s never felt more alive, more aware. And more excited.
It’s a whimper this time, full of need, and he might feel ashamed of himself for sounding so destitute, like he’s never made love before, but somehow he never feels inadequate around Will.
“I know, luv. We’ll see to you.”
His hands move to Xander’s shorts, opening the snap, his eyes watching Xander, maybe to see if he’ll object, want to back out. But Xander can’t remember being so certain of anything in his life. This is what he wants, and he’ll deal with the consequences sometime when the messages from his body aren’t so strong.
Will slowly works all the snaps and Xander feels the air on his slightly moist skin as shorts and underwear fall to the floor. Will comes close to him again but their bodies aren’t fully touching, just enough for Xander’s hard cock to touch Will’s. The contact sends jolts of electricity shooting through him and he arches his back, uncontrollably seeking more. His hands tighten around Will and he grips the blonde hard, grinding himself against the other cock.
“Fuck, Xan. Y’re gonna make me blow m’ load right here. Settle, baby.”
Will pulls him back, hands making soothing circles on his skin. Xander responds to the touch, his breathing calming. He doesn’t recognize himself anymore, this panting mess of a man.
“Want to be inside you when you come, luv. Want to feel your gorgeous body tightening around me while you fall to pieces.”
Xander thinks that Will should probably stop saying things like that if he wants Xander to have any control at all.
“Will that be okay, then?”
He wonders why Will thinks he has to ask, but then the reality of it sinks in and Will’s asking him to consent to the ultimate male nightmare . . . invaded, taken, possessed by someone else. But he finds he doesn’t fear it, instead he wants it, with a surprising intensity.
“‘S good then.”
Will’s fingers twine with his and with a small tug, Xander follows Will, hoping that his bedroom isn’t far. It turns out to be just off the living room and Xander doesn’t have to cope with stairs, just keep his feet moving long enough that Will can get a bed under him. He’s aware that his cock is leaking heavily, probably dripping on Will’s floor as he walks, and maybe he should be embarrassed by his body’s reactions, but he isn’t. Will has never made him feel any shame and he won’t start now, another certainty in Xander’s mind.
Strong arms ease him onto the bed and his breath is rasping again, and the small control he’s gained is slipping away. Will’s hands guide him to his back, his legs spread and when Will settles between his thighs, Xander growls in satisfaction, opening himself further.
“So eager for it, pet. Such a bloody turn on, you are.”
The man leans over him, chest resting on Xander’s while he sorts through the drawer in the chest beside the bed. Xander doesn’t know what’ll happen, he’s never really thought about gay sex in the context of actually doing the deed. But he’s never imagined anything could be as intense as what he feels when Will touches him either and he wants more, everything.
Will comes back will a bottle and a condom. “Lube,” he explains.
Lube, yes, most definitely lube. And Xander should be frightened of what that implies, that they’re doing something that nature never intended, but he shoves the thought away. ‘Right’ and ‘natural’ are terms that no longer apply. Not to him and Will. Never mind the mechanics of it, his body is telling him that he was made for this, to be here like this, waiting for Will to fill him. So instead, he plants his feet on the mattress, tilting his ass up, wanting desperately, not worried that he might look like a slut.
“Want you,” he mumbles, reduced to small words by the thick desire choking him.
“Bloody beautiful, you are. Laid out for me, begging for my cock.” Will’s breathing has gone harsh too, and Xander takes some pride in that.
Will positions a pillow under his ass, leaving him completely exposed, open and vulnerable, but he isn’t frightened, only more excited by the idea of giving himself away to this man. Will kneels between his legs, squirting some of the lube on his fingers.
“Wanted to take this slow, pet. Can’t wait, need to be inside ya.”
A finger circles his opening and Xander doesn’t care about slow or fast, only more. He needs more. The finger slides inside him, odd feeling but no pain, just pressure, a wonderful pressure and he keens, writhing at the sensations ripping through him.
Begging again, but he doesn’t care. He grabs his knees, pulling them back and opening himself further, making it easier for Will.
“Bloody hell,” Will breathes.
Another finger goes in, the pressure increases and both digits go deeper inside him. He feels it, the invasion, knowing his body is under Will’s control, but he can’t resist the feeling and then Will rubs over his prostate and Xander nearly leaps off the bed.
“Please,” he whimpers when he can speak again.
“We’ll have to save that for another time, pet. ‘M gonna lose it if you keep that up.”
He adds another finger, this time the pressure is mixed with pain, a burning, but Xander doesn’t care. He wants to be joined with Will too desperately, wants to feel the final barrier between them dissolve. Will works at him, slowly pulling his fingers in and out, and the friction is beautiful and his balls start tingling.
“Slow down, luv.”
The fingers are gone and Xander moans at their loss, but opens his eyes, watching Will. The man rips open the condom wrapper and rolls the rubber over his dick. Xander would like to help him, but he’s content to watch this time. More lube, smoothed over Will’s latex-clad cock and drizzled over Xander’s twitching hole. He opens his legs further, as Will takes his cock and sets it at Xander’s entrance.
He pushes, driving slowly into him, and there’s pain. Xander gasps at the hurt, but his body gives way to the intrusion and Will is all the way inside him. Xander can feel Will’s soft sacs resting on his ass. He’s full and it feels awkward, but Will stays in place, though his arms on either side of Xander’s head are trembling.
The pain melts away and the pressure is back, and Xander needs something else. He rocks his pelvis experimentally around the cock filling him. And he gasps as the messages from his asshole are transmitted to his cock, bolts of lightening leaping over the gap.
It’s the signal Will was waiting for evidently, because his mouth covers Xander’s and his hips pull back and then snap forward. And Xander is flying, secured by the lips caressing his and the thick cock inside him. The feeling keeps building with every thrust, pressure and tingling. Xander lets go of one knee, wrapping it around Will’s waist and his hand finds his own cock.
“That’s right, baby, touch yourself. Make it good.”
Will’s husky English voice whispering in his ear nearly makes him lose it and Xander’s hand clamps down on his prick. He wants to make it last but he can’t and he moves his hand again.
“Come now, luv.”
And Xander obeys, his body tightening as the prickling in his balls spread to the rest of his body and he’s coming, shouting and squirming as the orgasm slams into him. He hears an echo of his cries and knows that Will is coming too, the man drilling into him, trying to go deeper and his body welcomes it.
They rest, slowly regaining their breath, until finally Will pulls out and gets rid of the condom. He gets a warm cloth from the bathroom and tenderly cleans Xander up. They lay together in the dim morning coolness of Will’s bedroom. Xander drifts.
“It’s so quiet here.”
“Yeah, I don’t run the air conditioner. I get along just fine with the fans.”
“Don’t you get hot?”
“I shall never understand the American obsession with maintaining the exact same environmental conditions at all times. We’re mammals, we’re capable of adapting to a wide range of temperatures.”
Xander leers, his hands seeking Will’s chest, humming, “You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals . . . .”
“Bloody hell,” Will grumbles. “One go around of gay sex and you’re turned into an insatiable fucking machine.”
“Are you complaining?”
“Okay then. Fuck me.”
He finds himself on his back, the warm weight of the blonde pressing him back into the mattress. Xander moans, wanting to be filled again. It is better this time, though he can’t imagine anything being better than their first time, but it is, his body adapted to the invasion as Will slides slickly into him. He’s never felt anything like it, so intense, so pure. He’s breaking apart, dissolving into pieces of lust in Will’s hands. Their cries echo through the writer’s deserted house.
They rest again and Xander’s dazed mind finally comes back to him.
“God, I know what he meant now. It moved that time. The earth. That’s never happened before.”
Will kisses him again, tenderly, mouth lingering and exploring. “For me too, luv.”
“Does this mean I’m gay?”
“Dunno, pet. Do you really need a label? We want who we want.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Xander spends hours at Will’s house every day, reading through Will’s enormous library, playing video games, or listening while Will reads selections from his latest hot romance. He judges the success of his sex scenes by their effect on Xander. After one particularly stirring passage that leaves Xander on his knees with his ass thrusting in the air, begging to be fucked, Will exclaims delightedly, “A muse! I have a muse. I never thought I would.”
He saves his file and grabs the ever-present bottle of slick, sliding into Xander without much trouble. Xander begs him to talk dirty and Will obliges, riding him hard, until they both collapse on the floor. Regrettably, Will doesn’t get much else done on his book that day.
But it’s the detective novels, written by Marlow Humphrey, that intensify things between them. The books are a mixture of hard-boiled violence and 1940s screwball comedy that maybe turn him on more, because it’s Will’s mind that has him laughing hysterically or stomach clenching in suspense. And he still begs to be taken, but those times Will goes slowly, dragging their pleasure out until Xander doesn’t know his own name anymore.
At home, Xander cleans the house obsessively and nightly makes elaborate meals for Anya, honing his gourmet skills with his guilt. And he tries not to flinch when Anya approaches him, but hell, he’s only thirty and he can still get it up for just about anything.
He wonders if he really is gay, or if he just loves Will so much that he’ll give the man anything.
The admission doesn’t scare him as much as it should.
Summer winds down. Maddy attends her kindergarten orientation with her parents, and Anya finally concedes that yes, their incredibly high tax rate did pay for some superior schools. Maddy starts after Labor Day, marching into her class with an incredible confidence that makes Xander’s heart sing with joy for his beautiful daughter. He mentions it to Anya who says she expected nothing less, but Will understands how amazing her growing up is.
It happens one night when they are getting ready for bed, Anya smoothing lotion on her flawless face, while Xander lies in bed, silently watching her, thinking about how the slatted afternoon sunlight plays over Will’s muscles.
“I will not be made a fool of,” she says.
“What?” He startles out of his reverie.
“I know you’re having an affair. Granted, you’ve been discreet so far, but I won’t allow you to humiliate me.”
Xander knows it’s useless to deny it. Anya has always been far too perceptive.
“What do you want me to do?”
“End it,” she says viciously. “You have one week to break it off. Otherwise, I’ll have your balls and everything else.”
He doesn’t need a diagram to know that she’ll leave him with nothing, her ruthless intelligence turned against him.
Xander spends the night staring out the window at his beautiful garden, weighing the relationship that satisfies every part of his being against his love for his daughter and his long-term commitment to his wife. He has never said the words, but on that sleepless night he understands that he loves Will with a passion far greater than he’s ever felt for Anya.
A grand passion. The kind of stories and songs. The kind he has thought never existed except in the pages of novels like Will’s. He’s felt it now and it’s changed his life, made him more than he was. But it’ll end, not dramatically with poison or a sword, or sinking slowly into the freezing ocean. Instead it will end mundanely, niggled apart by ordinary things, like the wife finding out, or the child to protect. He thinks that it will still kill him, but no one will be able to tell.
After his girls leave the next morning, he knocks on Will’s door. The blonde’s welcoming smile fades when he sees Xander’s expression. Xander’s heart cracks, knowing he’s going to cause his lover pain.
“This is it, then?”
Xander nods. “Yeah, Anya knows somehow.”
It occurs to him then to wonder how much she knows exactly because he can’t remember her using any pronouns when she delivered her ultimatum.
“And I’m to be tossed aside like so much used up trash?”
His voice is bitter and Xander can’t bear to hear it.
“No, it’s not like that, you know it. I lo . . . .”
“No! Don’t you dare say it. Not now.”
Xander winces, his throat thick with tears. Perhaps it’s better left unsaid between them. Maybe it will hurt less if they can tell themselves it was only fucking.
“I have . . . my daughter.”
“Yeah.” Will sounds defeated, tired. “I know.”
There doesn’t seem to be anything else to say, so Xander goes home. He curls on the couch with a blanket, huddled under it, trying to ward off the chill that he thinks might follow him for the rest of his life. He put the TV on TCM and leaves it there, mindlessly watching movie after movie. He rouses to get Maddy from school and orders pizza for dinner. He goes to bed directly after dinner and when Anya comes to their room with questions in her eyes, he mumbles tiredly, “It’s done.” He tries to ignore her triumph.
The next day there is a realtor’s sign in front of Will’s house and Anya tells him the neighborhood gossip claims the man has gone back to New York. Xander pretends that his heart isn’t breaking and when Anya is giving Maddy a bath, he goes out on the patio with a glass of wine. It hurts to think that he’s cost Will his refuge. He raises his glass to the stars, dim from light pollution.
“Fair journey, my friend.”
And it seems like everything was ending, but he knows he isn’t going to be so lucky . . . that he has years left to endure.
He gives a good impression of someone without a care in the world, carrying on as though nothing has ever happened to disturb the placidity of the life he has chosen. But one time in the grocery store he stops by the book rack, drawn to the titles by Lacey Deltornade. “The Passionate Pirate” features an impossibly muscular man with an eye-patch and a buxom women in wench clothes on the cover. Xander is tempted to buy it just to maintain some sort of a connection with Will, but he thinks that the memory of Will’s soft English accent reading some of the more relevant passages might break him, remembering what he can’t have.
His misery doesn’t go unnoticed and one night Anya says, “I didn’t realize you would be so hurt.”
Her voice is angry and it puzzles him, because he thinks she’d be glad he’s hurting, but then he decides that she’s angry because he’s not only given his body away but his heart too. And it makes his betrayal that much worse.
But the next night she comes home and sends Maddy off to play after dinner. She has a stack of brochures in her hands.
“I didn’t realize that you would be so adrift living here. I thought you would eventually find things to do with yourself, find your niche. Wives do it all the time, after all. I didn’t expect you to do . . . what you did.”
She spreads the brochures out and Xander sees that they are for all the colleges in the area.
“I think you should go back to school. Not for a business degree to make your father happy. For yourself.”
He looks at her then and sees her compassion. She’s forgiven him for falling in love with someone else. He is still stuck in this suburban desert and he will still live out his days without the love of his life. But maybe there is someone there who does understand him and will share his future with him, in spite of his losses.
“I loved creating our yard. Maybe I could become a landscape architect.”
“I think that would be wonderful.”
Xander stops worrying then about the wasteland that is his heart. He’s made his choice, now all he has to do is live. He isn’t going to get what he wants . . . Some things get lost along the way . . . but it will have to be enough.