Pairing: Xander/Captain John Hart
Setting: Non specific Season 8 Buffy, castle in Scotland
Warnings: Un-beta'd as I was writing until the night before my posting day. There might be typos that I've missed. If so, please mention.
Summary: Xander is restless, cooped up in a castle with a bevy of young women. But that's not what he needs. He goes exploring.
Out of the Shadows
Peals of laughter from the Slayers’ dorm filtered through the long corridors, punctuated by slamming doors and the faint sound of music. Somewhere outside Xander’s open window, the clack of wooden practice swords reverberated round the stone walls of the courtyard below.
Xander sighed and pushed himself up from the sofa where he’d collapsed after morning drill and replaced his eye patch. He’d been in a half doze, the kind where reality and dreams fade into each other and sounds are amplified. Thankfully, the part where a dragon blasted a path of flame toward him was only a dream, though so three dimensional he could smell his eyebrows singeing and the heat crisping his nostrils. His skin still felt tight and he rubbed his face, trying to throw the feeling.
The other feeling, the one that had driven him to solitude in his room, was still there. At some long ago point in his life, the idea of nubile young women in skimpy clothing having pillow fights had been the apex of his erotic imagination. That man was long gone. Now, if he heard one more girl go into way too much information about her period and mood swings, there was every chance he would implode. Go off the deep end. Find a male friend and head out for a night of beer, dirty jokes and belching contests. Maybe even smoke a cigar. Anything to up the testosterone quotient. Never mind that none of that had any actual appeal. Beer, yea, but the rest was mainly just the anti-fantasy to real life these days.
But he didn’t have any male friends, at least not in the guy sense. Apart from Giles who was distracted and busy and Callum, the old fellow with white ear tufts who came with the castle, there was no one to talk to, play poker or watch baseball with. Not that there was TV any more, apart from underground transmissions that went off air at nightfall.
Xander kneaded his back as he walked to the window to look outside. He was fitter than he’d ever been in his life before, but sparring with Slayers was a workout on a scale his muscles had never contemplated in their most ambitious dreams. He was only twenty-four, but he’d been injured enough in the last eight years that the damp cold from the stone walls made his joints ache as if he was sixty. And the wind in Scotland was fierce, whistling across from the North Sea to penetrate every nook and cranny of the draughty castle.
His room, set high in a turret, overlooked miles of moorland, tinged purple with heather interrupted by dark patches of pine forest. The Moray Firth gleamed in the distance, dappled in shafts of sunlight falling between puffy clouds. Stirred by the beauty of the scene, he leaned out, inhaling the sweet, green fragrance of spring. Since he’d arrived, he hadn’t been outside the castle grounds, too busy to even think about exploring the countryside.
A sudden yearning for freedom overcame him like a wave. As if he’d been holding back the frustration too long, resentment burned in his stomach for the life he’d lost when Sunnydale sank into a vast crater in the ground. The final battle had been the end of any kind of normal life, or as normal as life ever got on a hellmouth. At least it had trips to the 7/11, cable TV where he could watch whatever he wanted, pizza delivered to his door, sex once in a while with someone other than his own right hand. As a date, he was sadly lacking in decent conversation if you discounted the occasional heartfelt groan.
He was surrounded by girls, so maybe it was the sheer overload of female that had killed his interest. Or maybe something else changed with the end of his old life. For whatever reason, it didn’t seem to be girls that turned his crank any more, or at least judging from the images that did it for him nowadays. Perhaps it never had been about girls and he just thought it should be.
It came as an slowly unfolding surprise when, dick in hand and scrolling through his mental playlist of sexual scenarios, it wasn’t the stuff of Playboy or Hustler or even Xtube that got him off. For some perverse reason, it was memories of Spike that popped up. Jee-sus. Of all the men in the world, why him? But there he was, swaggering along the street with that cock of the walk strut, carton of beer swinging by his side. Or slumped in front of the TV, legs wide and hand down the front of his jeans. Then that one time when Xander opened the shower door, thinking it empty as no water was running, and there was Spike, cock in hand, head back, closing in on the last few moments before coming. Which he did a couple of seconds later, loudly and copiously against the wall of the shower stall. Not a trace of shame or embarrassment. He just panted, head down, bracing himself against the wall until the last spurt of come had welled over his hand.
Xander stood frozen at the door like an idiot, rooted to the spot until it was all over. Spike waited until the last flicker of sensation had ended and then he looked up. If it had been Xander caught in such a private moment, he would have dropped to the floor with his back to the door and waited until the ground swallowed him. Spike grinned. Grinned. In such a relaxed and inviting way. Come into my world, he seemed to say. And gave his dying erection a couple of affectionate parting pulls before turning on the shower spray, his smooth pale buttocks…Well, like it or not, Spike’s ass had taken top billing in Xander’s fantasies ever since.
Or maybe it wasn’t exactly Spike’s ass. Maybe Spike was Xander’s Ur-ass, the one that kicked off his Whole New Thing. Whatever. In any case, that’s how it was for him these days. And getting away from women right now was suddenly the burning need.
Turning away from the window, Xander looked round the room. It was furnished in early Scottish baronial dotted with Ikea accessories—the castle had been a stately home, a psychiatric hospital, an old folks home and most recently a youth hostel. Somewhere in the clutter, there was stash of tourist maps and brochures. No point in setting off into the wilds of Scotland without a clear sense of direction. What with the usual demonic dangers, it would be nice at least not to wander into a peat bog and subside ignominiously to a muddy death. He had that particular overdue moment reserved for a more heroic pose. And maybe saving someone’s life with manly, but doomed prowess.
The path to Red Castle cut across fields to an old estate owned for centuries by various highland chieftains. Xander still hadn’t got over how ancient things were in Scotland. In the castle now taken over by Slayers, the steps leading up to the front door were worn down by generations of feet. Compared to that, Sunnydale was a mayfly, approximately twenty-four hours of existence and then ptfft. Gone. Except its dying roar had sounded pretty damned impressive from the bus as they raced pell mell from the collapsing edges of the town. And he personally knew some of the people who died in the rubble. Made a world of difference.
When he got to the end of the grassed and rutted road to Red Castle, he had to scale a 5-barred gate. Ahead, the ruins lay peaceful under the noonday sun, its roof fallen in and towers jutting against the blue sky. All around, the fields stretched golden with tangled grass down to the waters of the firth that glittered in the spring sunshine. Xander breathed deeply, inhaling the seaweedy tang, mixed with the sweet fragrance of wild roses. The buzzing of bees foraging in the wildflowers filled the air, their drone a backdrop to the singing of birds in the trees and bushes. It was all so alive and innocent, belonging to a world untouched by the evil afflicting human kind. Xander allowed his senses to open and fill, realizing how tense he’d been for many, many months. It was tempting to pretend just for one afternoon that there was no danger, no constant preparation for war, no anxious stir of too many people under too much duress. He was glad he’d decided to leave it behind.
As he approached the ruin, tall grass brushing at his legs, he glanced down at the crumpled brochure he’d pulled from his back pocket. No wonder Red Castle was a bit worse for wear. The building went back to the 12th century. Visions of knights in armour and damsels in pointy hats leaning out windows filled Xander’s imagination along with the disturbing image of a young fellow in colourful tights climbing up a thick plait of golden hair. So much for history class.
The castle was only a shell open to the sky, the doors and windows empty, dark rectangles in thick stone walls. Over time, stray seeds had taken root in crannies and grown into bushes high up in the roof line and in the parapet of the square tower. By the front door a stenciled ‘Danger, Keep Out’ sign was barely visible under a scum of greenish mould. Xander stepped over the sill, ignoring the advice and almost immediately regretted it when a violent rush of air and dark shapes exploded around him. He dropped reflexively into a crouch, bare hands up to fend of whatever was coming at him. And then stood up again, clutching his chest as his heart raced in fight/flight panic. Pigeons. As they wheeled and clattered to the upper reaches of the great hall, Xander leaned against the doorframe, looking around the gloom of what must have been an elegant room, but now filled with rubble, criss-crossed with roof beams. The danger sign was well placed. There was no point in taking risks with so much debris lying around.
Turning away, he skipped down the front stairs to the overgrown lawn leading to the edge of the water. The tide was high, lapping against seaweed festooned boulders and the water, sparkling under the hot sun, looked cool and refreshing. All of a sudden, Xander was aware of how hot and sticky he was. Quickly, he unbuttoned his shirt and peeled off his jeans, throwing them back onto the grass.
It had been years since he’d stripped off outside in the open and he reveled in the feeling of sun on his skin and the cool touch of sea breeze raising the fine hairs all over his body. He’d been pent up for months, single mindedly learning the ropes of leadership. The girls’ needs were endless and he was willing enough to keep things organized, but he’d forgotten what it was like to do something just because he felt like it.
With a loud whoop, Xander took a running leap down the grassy verge and thrust off a rocky ledge into a shallow dive, cleaving the water in streams of bubbles. Fuck it was cold, but the shock made him feel even more alive. He came up a few yards off shore and turned on his back, stroking slowly, looking up at the sky. It couldn’t be a more perfect day, puffy fair weather clouds drifting by and the sun warming the surface of the water. He turned over and dived, swimming down to the rocky bottom where crabs scuttled over patches of sand in the greenish light.
When he surfaced, he floated with his arms wide, drifting like a lazy seal, letting the water soothe aching muscles. His body was never free of pain nowadays, cost of sparring with women much more powerful than he was. If he was a less confident man--wait, Lavelle was his middle name, so confidence wasn’t exactly his strongest feature--but he’d come to accept that he was the weakest person in the castle, except maybe old Callum, though he wasn’t entirely sure about him--wiry little bugger, but tough as nails.
A gust of wind rippled the water around him and he felt the chill on his wet skin. It really was too fucking cold for this California boy. Turning over, he began to stroke toward the shore. When he came to the shallows, he stood up, water streaming off his body as he splashed toward dry land.
A vivid flash of light near the castle brought his head up sharp. He groaned, seeing his perfect day crumble around him. Sudden bursts of light were practically never good news, usually something wicked on its way to make his life miserable. And, of course, he was naked as the day he was born, not a weapon in sight, unless you counted his boyish good looks. Which he didn’t. He stooped to pick up his clothes from the grass and then stood, shading his eye against the mid-day glare. At first he could see nothing in the shadows under the castle wall and then he caught movement, a dull patch of colour on a human frame that turned toward him and stepped out into the light.
The figure that strode toward him was not the usual warty demon, but a slender man dressed in a collection of vaguely military gear, panels of gold embroidery on his red jacket glinting in the sun. He was booted and heavily armed, his hand on the pommel of a long sword by his side as he strode in a loose limbed, confident way. Something about the feline grace of his movement tugged at Xander’s memory. It was hauntingly familiar. And as the man approached, the lean jaw, high cheekbones and startling blue eyes…
The man closed the remaining space between them and came to a halt, smiling broadly.
“Captain John Hart at your service.” His eyes swept down Xander’s body and back up to his face. “But I’ll be Spike if you want me to.”
The voice had the sultry suggestiveness that Spike’s always had, but there was a difference. This man was handsome in the same striking way, but his hair was brown, not the bleach white blond that Spike affected. He was maybe a bit older, as Spike might have looked a few years down the line if he had been capable of aging. And hadn’t gone to a fiery death. Captain Hart’s face was filled with a kind of roguish humour, clearly enjoying having Xander at a disadvantage.
His bold eyes dropped again to Xander’s groin, lips quirking with amusement.
Xander pulled his bunched clothing in front of him.
“The water was cold!”
Captain Hart nodded sympathetically. “So I see.”
Xander closed his eyes in frustration. Fuck, could he be any more lame? Turning his back, he extricated his jeans from the bundle and tried to pull them on over wet skin, hopping on one leg as he tugged at the resisting fabric.
As he rotated, he could see Captain Hart watching him, thumbs hooked in his belt, enjoying the view. His eyebrows shot up as Xander almost toppled over and he stepped forward to help, but backed off when he got a threatening look. Didn’t stop the infuriating smirk though. Just like Spike’s.
Xander straightened up, pulling his jeans over his hips and furiously stuffing dangly bits out of sight. When he was finally decent, he faced the other man.
“Who are you?”
“Captain John Hart.” He bowed ironically. “As I said, at your service. Really.” There was a subtle wiggle of the eyebrows.
Something about the way he said the name Hart—its open vowel deep at the back of his throat--was sexy. Suggestive of much more than just a name. Xander found himself watching the lips, dwelling on the full curve of the lower one.
The captain appeared to be waiting to see what might happen, as if he had all the time in the world.
Then he tilted his head to the side, holding Xander’s look, and licked his lips, slowly, lasciviously.
“Jesus, Spike. It’s you, isn’t it?.” Xander stepped forward, his skin prickling, thoroughly spooked. “What happened to you? You’re different. Last I saw you…” He put his hand out to touch the other man, half expecting to pass right through the sleeve of his uniform jacket, but he was completely solid. As three-dimensional as he was. Captain Hart looked down at his sleeve and then back up again, staring directly into Xander’s eye as he lifted the hand to his mouth and kissed it.
“Okay, Spike it is.” He was smiling as his lips lingered.
Xander snatched his hand away, suddenly aware of his nipples contracting into hard nubs. It was the cool sea breeze, but he was overcome with self-consciousness and quickly pulled his shirt on before mystery Spike got any wrong ideas. Though, truth be told, there had been a reaction, a chill passing through his body at the possibility Spike had survived, maybe was standing in front of him right now. And an ache in his balls that felt as though it had been there for years.
“I’m not joking. Are you Spike?” Xander stepped back, examining him closely. Different hair, different way of dressing, but uncannily like him, right down to the low, sexy voice and his fluid way of moving. “Did you survive? Some kind of magic?”
Even as he said it, he knew there was no way Spike could have got out. Everything for miles around the school had been sucked into the hole. And Buffy saw him burn, was still haunted by that last moment. A vampire doesn’t come back from ashes. And then it struck him. This man was standing in full sun. Even had a slight tan. Xander felt his heart sink, unaware until this moment he’d been hoping that maybe such things were possible.
It wasn’t as if he even liked Spike. Well, no, that wasn’t exactly true. Sometimes when they’d lived together, he’d kind of enjoyed his company, found him quite funny when he got going. And later, much later at the end, they’d been through so much together that Spike gained his grudging respect. And then, of course, afterwards there was the images that had become ingrained in his mind when…but he was not thinking about that now.
He must have looked disappointed because Captain Hart tilted his head in that eerie Spike-like way and his lower lip came out in a sympathetic pout. He took Xander’s chin in his hand.
“This Spike, was he…” He held Xander’s chin up until Xander was forced to meet his eyes. “Was he your lover? You cared about him?”
Xander jerked his head away from the too familiar touch. “What? No!” He pulled back, not wanting to be seen, but Hart just moved in close again, not touching but inside his personal space.
“What then? An enemy?”
“No.” Xander paused. “Yes. But that changed.” He looked down, avoiding Hart’s penetrating gaze. “He was involved with my friend.”
Hart’s eyebrows rose and he nodded. “Oh, love triangle. You were jealous.”
“No.” Xander shook his head in frustration. Why the hell was he in this absurd conversation with a man who’d just materialized out of thin air? He didn’t even know what he was. But there was something insinuating and forceful about Hart, as if he was used to people coming under his spell and Xander found himself responding without intending to. Seeing Spike’s face in this other form was completely disorienting. Had he been jealous?
Captain Hart was watching him curiously.
“Well, yes. I suppose. Maybe a bit jealous.”
Captain Hart gave a throaty chuckle. “You seem to have a hard time giving straight answers to simple questions. Which is it? Yes or no?”
“I’m not…” Xander broke off and tried to remember how it had been. “He was my enemy at the beginning and then we were on the same side. My friend rejected him and he went a bit crazy.” He stopped again. Fuck, it was complicated. “But she took him back. Kind of. Or they ended on the same side at the end. He was a hero as far as she was concerned.”
Hart nodded again as if it all made sense. “And you were jealous of him?”
“She was my friend, so I suppose I was kind of jealous that she chose him.” He paused. “Not that there was any chance with her. Not for me anyway.”
“You suppose.” A small smile tugged at Hart’s lips. “You sure you weren’t jealous he chose her?”
Xander felt a flare of nervous excitement turn in his stomach.
“No, of course not. Spike and me, we weren’t interested in each other. Not that way.” It was completely unnerving how this Captain Hart stirred up old memories. And how close he seemed to get to things Xander had left best unexamined. What point was there in picking at old wounds. That life was dead and gone, fallen into a huge hole along with the vampire he’d known for most of his teenage years.
Xander was feeling chilled, still damp from the swim, but also this kind of talk was making him feel raw, exposed.
Captain Hart looked at him closely and began to unbuckle his sword belt.
“Um, what are you doing?”
Hart laid the sword on the grass and then turned toward Xander.
“I think you’ve got one or two ‘unresolved issues’.” His voice supplied the quotation marks with a trace of mockery. “You lot are so tied up in knots about sex, aren’t you?”
The butterflies in Xander’s stomach did a fast whirl and a promenade. “What about sex? We’re not talking about sex. I never mentioned anything about sex.” Xander groaned internally. You’d think by your twenties, the babble would be ready to take a rest. Apparently not. “And who are ‘you lot’?” he asked, grasping at straws.
Captain Hart smiled enigmatically.
There it was again, that familiar curve of lip, the firm jaw and those fine cheekbones. How could this man be so exactly like the one he knew? Hart stepped forward and placed his hand behind Xander’s neck, pulling him into a kiss.
At first, Xander just let it happen, too confused either to break away or to respond. It wasn’t a big sexual kiss, at least at first, just something that began soft and became more and more intense until tongues began to touch and then explore. There wasn’t even a moment when Xander thought, I’m kissing this man and it feels good, just a relaxation that flowed from his lips down his body, pooling at his groin. With predictable results. He was in full, undeniable, flagrant erection and if he didn’t allow himself to move, rub against the hardness he could feel pressed against him, he’d simply come in his jeans and it would all be embarrassment and stickiness and weak excuses.
“There you go. Doesn’t that feel better?” Captain Hart had deftly opened both their flies, so their cocks lay hot and swollen next to each other. And miraculously, or it seemed a miracle to Xander who was still at fuck, feels good, Hart’s hands were slick, coating them both in lube. Did he just carry lube around close to hand in case he met the occasional naked man in a grassy field?
Xander let his head fall back, lost in sensation and felt warm, soft lips on the indentation at the base of his neck. From being chilled a few short minutes before, now he felt feverish, the surface of his skin humming and alive. He thrust into the hand holding their cocks together, sliding up through the tight ring of Hart’s encircling fingers. The man knew what he was doing, his touches teasing and heightening the urgency of their movement.
Hart whispered against his skin, “Knew you’d grow into something truly interesting.” He gave Xander’s cock a long, stroking pull, rubbing with the ball of his thumb over the head. Xander gasped and felt his knees weaken. His throat was dry and he tried to swallow. It didn’t feel like he could last much longer.
“Do you like this?” Hart’s voice was a low and rumbling, so familiar that Xander’s mind was back at the door of the shower, watching the blur of a swiftly moving hand and the white flash of perfectly rounded ass, flexing as Spike strained in effort.
With a gasp, Xander pulled back, putting his hand on Hart’s to stop him.
“Not this way. Strip.”
Hart let go of their cocks and stepped back, eyebrow raised in surprise. He gave Xander a pleased look, shrugging off his jacket and pulling his undershirt over his head. It wasn’t long before he was standing naked in front of Xander. His cock stood straight out from the curls at his groin. He was absolutely perfect. Scarred and whipcord thin, but exactly as he should be.
“Turn around.” Xander’s voice was hoarse. A frog seemed to have taken up permanent residence in his throat.
Captain Hart held his arms out and smirked, turning slowly as if he was a model on display. When he was facing Xander again, he let his arms drop to his sides. “Okay?”
Not only okay, but ravishingly desirable. Xander fumbled at his clothing, stripping himself naked. He put out his hand. “Lube.” He was monosyllable man, speech apparently beyond him.
Captain Hart snorted through his nostrils, surprised into laughter at the curt demand, and then bent to his jacket to retrieve a tube from one of his pockets. He held it up.
“You sure you know what you’re doing?” He tossed it toward Xander.
Xander had no idea whether he knew what he was doing. All he knew was what he wanted. He pushed Hart down. “Hands and knees.”
“Not one for romance, are you?” Captain Hart grinned, looking up at him. “I usually top, but just this once since you’re such an eager young thing.” He gave a languid wink and then arranged himself on the flattened grass, pale ass gleaming white in the sunshine. As pale as a vampire’s skin.
Once again, Xander’s mouth was so dry he could hardly swallow. Time slowed as he kneeled behind and placed his hands on the round hips. He really didn’t know what he was doing, but nature guided him into place. Resistance, some bumping and sliding, but gradually, a delicate giving way, slowly, slowly and with a sudden slip past the muscle, he was in, sliding home as the man under him groaned deep in his throat.
Xander stopped when he felt his balls press tight against warm flesh. The feeling was indescribably hot, tight and absorbing as though his entire being was focused on the place where their two bodies joined.
Hart arched his back under him, the action pulling Xander in deeper. “Good start. Now fuck me.”
His voice snapped Xander out of his trance and instinct took over. Half spoken words, urgings, demands fell from their lips as they panted with exertion. It didn’t take long. When the orgasm hit, Xander clutched the hips under him, thrusting fast and hard. Only at the last moment, did he remember to reach under and take Hart to his own climax. They came within seconds of each other, groaning aloud.
And that was for starters. Captain Hart, it seemed, was nothing if not creative and he took delight in leading Xander through the more obscure variations of the Kama Sutra and possibly techniques learned in places definitely not of this world. By the end, Xander was pleading for rest, in between pleading for more. In the throes of his final orgasm, he seriously thought he might stroke out, though if he had to go, it was better than most of his other options.
It took a while to regain anything like full consciousness. They’d both fallen onto their backs in the grass, sweaty and panting with exhaustion. After a while, Hart stirred, wiping his brow and picking dried grass out of his hair.
“So, about those issues.”
Xander had to pull his attention back from a thousand miles away. Wasn’t so much he was thinking anything; he was just far away in a formless, contented reverie.
He looked over at Hart. “What issues?”
Hart smiled. “Yeah.”
They both fell silent, enjoying the sun’s warmth on their skin, half dozing.
After a while Xander said, “Who did you say you are?”
“John Hart. Captain.” He grinned. “At your service.”
“Not Spike then.”
Xander rolled over onto his stomach and began to pull apart the dried seed head of a piece of grass. “So why are you here?”
Hart blew a jet of air at a fly showing too much interest. “No reason. I just get about.”
“And you get about to do what?”
“Oh, this and that.”
Xander tossed the piece of grass aside and stood up, looking around for his clothing. It was all tangled up with bits and pieces of fancy costume and weaponry. When he’d finished dressing, he carried Hart’s stuff over to him.
“You going to stay for a while? I can find you a room where I’m staying.”
Captain Hart stood up, stretching luxuriously, his stomach pulled concave under the arch of his ribs. He was so like Spike, the slender frame lean and muscular that Xander felt the soft lap of sadness in his chest. And it felt right, as if finding its moment. Opportunities missed, time lost. There was no point in looking back, but the past had its claims.
He watched as Hart dressed, finally pulling his belt tight and settling his gun holsters square on his hips.
The captain became engrossed in fiddling with something on his wrist, pressing buttons in sequence.
“You’re off then?” Xander asked.
Hart did a last sequence and then looked up. “Just locking in these coordinates in case I decide to come back.” He flashed a grin and began another sequence. “Now I’m off.”
In the few seconds as light began to shimmer around him, Captain Hart looked at Xander with a bemused smile and then drew him close for a kiss. It was brief, both of them surrounded in a growing vortex that tingled on Xander’s skin, making his hair rise as if stirred by ghostly winds. Hart stepped back and raised his hand in salute before turning into the light.
Xander was blinded by the flare and so didn’t see him disappear. When he finally stopped seeing spots, he was alone.
From the long shadows falling from the castle and surrounding trees, they’d been occupied with each other for hours. The sun had gone behind clouds and the air now felt cold. Xander looked at Red Castle, ancient and still standing, though in disrepair. Far from feeling melancholy at the end of the day and in sight of the ruin, he felt fucking marvelous. Aching in all the right places and his skin glowing with sex and sun. He stooped to pick up a sturdy stick from the ground and set off home, joyously whacking the heads off thistles as he went. Captain John Hart had his coordinates. That was good enough for him.
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