Reaping the Reward
The vampire draining him exploded into dust, and Xander stumbled forwards as the hold on him disappeared. He saw the heart and blood in William’s hand dissolve into dust and trickle through his fingers. Their eyes met, and William’s were large with confusion. His eyes slid to Xander’s neck, and Xander automatically lifted his hand to feel the bite. It was sore, and the wound felt jagged. When he pulled his fingers away, they were coated with his own blood.
“Xander,” William practically whimpered, and Xander stepped forward to catch him just as the other man’s eyes rolled back, and he began to crumple to the ground.
“William,” Xander called. “Will, come on,” he said, lowering them both to the hard concrete. “Wake up, Will.” Xander cradled the unconscious man in one arm as he gently tapped his face, trying to revive him.
“William, please,” Xander begged, running his hand over the other man’s cool, clammy face, and then combing his fingers through wavy hair. Xander sucked in a deep breath of relief when William began to come to.
“Xander,” he said, his voice shaky.
“I’m right here. I’ve got you, William,” Xander immediately reassured him. “You’re all right,” he said, as much for himself as for William.
“What happened?” William asked. He shifted in Xander’s arms, and Xander pulled him in closer.
“We were attacked by vampires,” Xander reminded him.
“Did I get hit?” William asked in confusion.
“No,” Xander said. “You...we killed them. We’re safe now.”
“Your neck!” William cried, and lifted a trembling hand up to the wound on Xander’s neck.
“Just a little bite,” Xander said, but couldn’t hide the wince. “Come on,” he said. “We need to get out of here.”
Xander helped William to his feet, and then located their dropped weapons. When he turned back to the other man, William was staring unseeing at the shifting dust. “I...I...” He stared at his own hand.
Xander shoved the water guns and stakes into his jacket pockets, and then grabbed William’s hand, gently brushing any remaining dust off it. “I know,” he said. “It’s all right. Come on.”
“Xander, I...” William just looked at him.
“You saved my life, William,” Xander said, his voice soft and even.
“But how could I...”
“I don’t know,” Xander said. “But we’ll figure it out. Let’s get going now, before we run into some friends of theirs.” He put his arm around William’s waist, and the other man nearly fell against him. William put his arms around Xander and clung to him.
“It’ll be all right,” Xander said again, hoping William heard him; believed him. “I promise, William. I’ll make it all right. Come on, love, let’s get home.”
William straightened a bit and allowed Xander to lead him towards their apartment. Xander held onto William tightly with one hand, a stake gripped in the other as they slowly made their way home.
By the time they reached their apartment, William was shivering with shock. Xander led him to the bathroom and turned the shower on. He removed the clothes from an unresponsive William as he let the water warm, and then sat him on the closed toilet while he stripped out of his own clothes. Xander helped William into the shower and settled him under the hot spray. He rubbed his hands over William’s body to help warm him up.
When he’d stopped shivering, Xander turned off the water and wrapped William in a large, fluffy towel. Once he was dry, Xander helped him into a pair of sweat pants and a sweatshirt, and then tucked him into bed. Xander pulled on a pair of sweat pants and sat on the bed beside William, his cell phone held loosely in one hand while the other rubbed William’s back soothingly.
William shifted so that he was using Xander’s leg as a pillow. “What happened?” he asked. “How could I...do that?”
“I don’t know,” Xander said, combing his fingers through William’s unruly hair. “I’m going to call Willow.” He held the phone up. William eyed it, but didn’t respond. “That okay?” Xander asked.
“You think this has something to do with...me not remembering?” William asked.
“I really don’t know,” Xander said, sliding down on the bed so that he and William were lying face-to-face.
“I tore that man’s heart out!” William cried. “I felt...”
Xander grabbed for William and the other man buried his face against Xander’s chest and sobbed. Xander closed his eye and gritted his teeth to try and keep tears of sympathy from falling. “It’s all right, it’s all right,” he whispered over and over again against the top of William’s head.
William’s sobs quieted enough for him to speak. “I saw him biting you,” he said, “and I just reacted. I didn’t know I could do that...but somehow I did...know.”
“I didn’t know either,” Xander said softly.
“Can you do that?” William asked.
“No,” Xander replied.
“How come...why could I?” he asked.
“I don’t know, sweetheart,” Xander said, holding him tighter as he admitted his inability to help his lover. “But we’ll find out. I promise we’ll find out.”
“He was kind of...wet...and sticky,” William said, his fingers digging into Xander’s arm. “Inside. And I heard the crunching and the...the slurping. And then his heart was...in my hand, you know? And then it just...dissolved into dust. And I...”
“Shhh,” Xander soothed. “I don’t know how you were able to do that, William, but you saved my life. And that thing wasn’t human. It would have killed us both if it could. I know it must have been traumatic to suddenly...be holding someone’s heart in your hand...and I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’d wish...I’d wish you never had to be exposed to that, but then you’d have never come here and I’d have never met you,” Xander said, the tears he’d tried to hold back filling his eyes and running over.
“Xander, don’t cry,” William said.
“I’m sorry,” Xander said, wiping the tears away, blinking rapidly to keep more from falling. “I’m trying to be strong, but...I never used to have to be the strong one. It’s not a role I play well.”
“Bollocks!” William said. “You’ve been nothing but strong since I met you.”
Their eyes met, and they both laughed.
“I love you,” Xander said.
“I love you, too,” William responded. “I’m glad I saved you. Oh! Your neck!” He leaned back and tilted Xander’s head. “That needs to be taken care of.”
“I’m fine,” Xander said, but William was already climbing out from under the covers and going in search of the first aid kit. He cleaned the bite, his nose wrinkling up in distaste as he smoothed the ragged edges of the wound, and then coated it with an antibacterial ointment and covered it with a gauze pad.
“Call Willow,” he said, as he stood up.
“Are you sure?” Xander asked.
“Yeah, but...come into the kitchen so I can make some hot chocolate?” he asked, glancing at Xander through his lashes.
“Of course!” Xander said, and stood. “Will you...”
“Yeah, I’ll make enough for two,” William said.
Xander checked the clock; three a.m. That would make it eight in the morning in England. Still early for Xander, but Willow would probably be at work. He dialed the number to the new Council headquarters. After six rings, it was picked up. A male voice Xander didn’t recognize said, “Good morning, Council of Watchers, how may I help you?”
“Willow Rosenburg, please,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” the highly-cultured voice responded. “Miss Rosenburg has just gone into a meeting. May I take...”
“Interrupt her,” Xander said.
“I’m afraid I can’t...”
“Tell her it’s Xander, and it’s urgent,” Xander ordered.
The man sniffed. “I’ll see if she can be interrupted,” he said, as if it was his own idea.
“Do that,” Xander muttered when he heard the ‘click’ that put him on hold. Moments later the line was picked up.
“Xander?” Willow’s worried voice reached his ear.
“Willow! I’m sorry to bother you, but...well, we’ve had a new development,” Xander said. “You know, regarding William.”
“Has he remembered something?” Willow asked excitedly.
“Well,” Xander hedged. “Yes...and no.” He glanced up at William who was stirring the milk he was heating on the stove so it didn’t boil. William was looking at him over his shoulder, a look both worried and encouraging. Xander walked over to the other man and put his hand on William’s shoulder.
“We ran into some vamps tonight,” he began the explanation. “Five of them.”
“Oh, Goddess!” Willow exclaimed. “Xander!”
“We’re all right,” Xander was quick to assure her. “William saved my life tonight, Will. A vampire had me, was...was draining me, and...” Xander had to swallow the lump in his throat. This was the first time he really thought about how close he had come to dying; his concern for William had shoved this concern to the back of his mind.
William seemed to sense his distress. He put his arm around Xander’s waist and pulled him against him, giving him a little kiss on the neck, all while he continued to stir the milk. Xander slumped against him in relief; taking comfort from his nearness.
“Xander?” Willow spoke his name softly when he was quiet for so long.
“I’m here,” Xander said. “Just...wigged for a minute there when I realized how close I came... Anyway,” he said, shaking the sudden fear away. “As I was saying, William saved my life. He...when he saw the vampire, he...ripped its heart out through its back,” Xander said quickly.
There was a long moment of silence on the line, and then Willow said, “He what?”
“He ripped the vampire’s heart out through its back,” Xander said more slowly.
“Did he remember...”
“No,” Xander said. “He still doesn’t remember anything before he woke up. He’s not sure how he knew to do that, or even how he was able to do that, and he’s kinda grossed out over it,” Xander said. “I was kinda hoping you had some answers,” he added.
“I don’t,” Willow admitted unhappily. “I’m sorry, Xander, but I just don’t know how this could have happened, if what we think happened actually happened,” she babbled. “Did he hurt his hand?” she asked suddenly.
“I never thought about that, but no, he didn’t,” Xander said. “His hand is fine.” He looked at William who gave him a pat on the back and then stepped away to take the milk off the stove and pour it into the waiting mismatched mugs.
“Humans can’t do things like that, Xander,” Willow said. “Are you sure he’s human?”
“Yes, Willow, I’m sure,” Xander said. “You know, I did notice that he really caught on quickly when Gunn was teaching him some self-defense,” he mused.
“Maybe you should tell him about Spike,” Willow suggested.
“I thought the three of us decided that it would be better for him if he remembered on his own?” Xander said. “If he remembered at all.”
William picked up the two mugs of hot cocoa and tilted his head towards the living room. Xander nodded and followed him out of the kitchen. William sat on the couch and Xander sat down beside him. They got comfortable, with Xander leaning into William, and then William handed Xander one of the mugs and put his arm around Xander’s shoulders.
“We did,” Willow said. “But Xander, he has started to remember, even though he doesn’t realize he’s remembering. Look how traumatic this was for him. What if he remembers something and you’re not around and he can’t handle it? At the very least, perhaps you should tell him that Spike was a vampire.”
“I understand what you’re saying, Will,” Xander said. “But what if I’m wrong? What if he has nothing to do with Spike?”
“Xander, he did something tonight that no human could have done...”
“Mother’s have lifted cars off their children!” Xander said desperately.
“Do you want to take that chance?” Willow asked softly. “That it was only adrenaline? That he won’t remember he was a vampire and killed his own mother?”
“I don’t know,” Xander said. “I don’t...know what to do.”
“And one other thing,” Willow said fearfully.
“What?” Xander asked.
“Maybe you should take him to see Angel.”
“No!” Xander yelled.
“Why not?” Willow asked, perplexed. “Seeing Angel might jog his memory.”
“Because he’s mine,” Xander hissed, looking possessively at William, who was staring back at him, eyes wide, a marshmallow squished between his finger and thumb. William licked the sticky marshmallow off his fingers, took Xander’s still-full mug out of his hand and set it on the end table next to his empty one, then rearranged them so he was half-reclining on the couch and Xander was sitting between his legs. He pulled Xander against him, holding him and giving him soft, soothing touches while he finished his conversation with Willow.
“What do you mean?” Willow asked, confused.
Xander waited until he was settled to answer her. “I...Will, I haven’t been completely honest with you. About William. And me. You see...we’re not friends, like I led you to believe. Er, rather, not just friends. You know how I moved into an apartment?”
“Yeah,” Willow responded.
“Well, William and I moved into the apartment together,” Xander said.
“Oh! So you’re roommates,” Willow said. “That’s cool...”
“No, we’re not...I mean, yes, we are, but not just... It’s a one-bedroom apartment,” he finally said.
There was silence on the line while Willow digested this.
“And we both sleep in it,” Xander added.
“Oh,” Willow squeaked.
Xander tilted his head back and looked up at William. William smiled and lowered his head, brushing his lips against Xander’s.
“We’re in love,” Xander said into the phone without taking his eyes off William. William grinned happily at the admission. “Very much in love.”
“That’s...Xander that’s... Xander, you’re not supposed to fall in love when I’m so far away!” Willow cried. “I’m supposed to be there to give you best friend advice and...and give him the shovel talk and...and why didn’t you tell me?”
“I guess I was afraid you’d tell me all the reasons it couldn’t work,” Xander said, reaching up and cupping William’s face.
“Is he good to you?” Willow asked.
“He’s very good to me,” Xander said with a smile at his lover.
“Are you happy?”
“I’m very happy,” Xander said, which earned him another kiss.
“Are you kissing?” Willow demanded. “That’s just...so not fair! Does he look like Spike?” she asked. “I mean, I know he does a little, ‘cause you said, but I want to be able to picture the two of you together and... Hey! You can send me a picture! Do you have any pictures?”
“No, we don’t,” Xander said. “But we’ll get some. In one of those booth things. And yeah, he looks a little bit like Spike, but not, you know? I mean, he’s got gorgeous blue eyes,” he said, and watched William blush. “Beautiful cheekbones, soft lips...” William rolled his eyes. “His hair is light brown and kinda wavy. His body looks the same when he’s dressed.” Xander grinned evilly. “But I never saw Spike naked, so I couldn’t compare...”
“Eep!” Willow squealed. “TMI, Xander. TMI!” she cried, and Xander laughed. “Let me talk to him,” she demanded.
“Xander. You can’t see it, but I have my resolve face on,” she said.
“You’re not gonna give him the shovel talk, are you?” Xander whined.
Xander rolled his eye and handed the cell phone to William in defeat. William placed it against his ear and said, “Uh, hello, Willow.” He began to nod his head. “Uh huh.” He shook his head. “Of course not!” He blanched. “I wouldn’t...” He nodded again. “Okay. Yeah, I can’t wait to meet you, too.” He held the phone out to Xander.
Xander took it, but didn’t put it to his ear. “What did she say?”
“She’s happy for us, she’s hoping to be able to meet me at Christmas, and she has a shovel with my name on it if I hurt you,” William recounted his conversation with Willow.
Xander put the phone to his mouth. “Willow...”
“He sounds nice,” Willow interrupted him.
“He is nice,” Xander agreed.
“Good. I just want him to stay that way,” she said.
“Listen Xander, I’ve got to get going,” Willow said. “I’m still looking, but I don’t know what I’ll find. I really think you should consider Angel. I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” she said before Xander could interrupt her. “I know you don’t like Angel, but he is a good guy. And I don’t think he’d do anything to hurt you or William. But consider this, William was drawn to LA. Maybe he needs to see Angel. Good luck, Xander. I love you.”
“Love you, too, Will,” Xander said, and they disconnected. He was silent for a few moments as he considered Willow’s words.
“You all right?” William asked.
“Yeah.” Xander nodded. “I’m...fine. You? You look better.” Xander set the phone on the end table and then placed his hand against William’s face.
“Taking care of you takes my mind off it,” William admitted, hugging Xander tighter. Xander laid his head on William’s chest, and William rested his chin on the top of Xander’s head. “What did Willow say?” he asked.
“She wants me to tell you some things about Spike,” Xander said. “Not to make you remember,” he added, “but because she thinks you’re starting to remember, even though you don’t know you’re remembering...if you know what I mean.”
“You mean tonight was a kind of memory?” William asked.
“Yeah,” Xander said. “In the sense that you somehow remembered that you could do that, in the past, but we don’t have any clue how you were actually able to do it in the now.” Xander took William’s hand in his and looked at it, stroked it. “She thinks it would be less traumatic, based on tonight’s events, if I gave you some background.”
“You don’t want to tell me?” William guessed.
Xander gave a harsh laugh. “No. Not really,” he said.
“Why?” William asked.
“I’m afraid,” Xander admitted. “I’m afraid you’ll think I’m crazy. I’m afraid...I’m afraid you really will remember.”
“And that would be bad?” William asked. “Xander?” he prodded when Xander didn’t speak.
“Spike called me a loser once,” Xander replied sadly. “And he was right. I helped Buffy, but I wasn’t important, no special talents. She had to save me more times than I actually helped. I don’t want you to remember me like that.”
“And Spike loved Buffy. What if you remember and you decide you still love Buffy?” he asked, his voice shaky. “And Spike...we didn’t like each other. I told you that. What if...”
William grabbed Xander’s face and lifted it so he could look him in the eye. “Never gonna happen, Xander. I love you. I don’t care what I remember. It’s not going to change the way I feel now. I swear that to you, Xander. I love you. You.”
Xander buried his face in William’s chest and allowed the other man to hold him.
Finally, William spoke. “Tell me,” he said.
“All right.” Xander took a deep breath. “Well...Spike was a vampire,” he said.
“Yeah, probably shouldn’t have just...blurted that out,” Xander said when William had been silent for a while. He raised his head and looked up into William’s pale face. “You still with me, Will?” he asked, placing his hand against the other man’s cheek.
William didn’t look at Xander; eyes narrowed, he stared off into the distance. “Spike was a vampire,” he repeated dully. “One of those things we kill. A demon, like you told me.”
“Yeah,” Xander said slowly. “But there’s a lot more to it...”
“They’re not human,” William stated.
“No,” Xander agreed with a shake of his head.
“Spike wasn’t human,” he said. “That night...morning...in the diner. You kept...staring at me. In the window. And at m-my neck. And you touched my hand.” William lifted his hand and stared at the offending appendage. “I-I know you thought I was someone else, at first, and that we didn’t even know each other, but I thought...I thought you were attracted to me,” he said sadly.
“Oh, Will, I am!” Xander said, turning to take William’s face between both hands. “I mean, obviously, I am. Very much.”
“But not then,” William responded softly.
“Oh, I don’t know.” Xander shrugged. “I mean, three days later we were, you know, doing naughty things.” He blushed. “So, maybe.”
“You still blush,” William said with a slight smile.
“Can’t help it,” Xander said with a small smile of his own as he shook his head. “Probably always will.”
“What is that?” William asked, sounding slightly shocked.
“What is ‘what’?” Xander asked. William just looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and Xander blushed a deeper crimson. “Oh. That. Well, I, uh, I find you very attractive now,” he finished lamely.
“I see that,” William responded dryly, as Xander nuzzled his neck. “Have you finished telling me about Spike?” he asked a little breathlessly, running his hands up Xander’s bare back.
“Oh. No,” Xander said. “But I was just going to hit the highlights, anyway. Lift your arms,” he said, slipping his hands beneath the sweatshirt and lifting it. William raised his arms and Xander pushed the sweatshirt up and over his head, dropping it on the floor as he placed kisses along William’s shoulder. He drew the cross through his fingers before dropping it back on William’s chest, and then gave him the ‘Spike highlights’ as he worked his way down his chest and abdomen, planting a trail of kisses.
“Spike. Vampire. Came to Sunnydale and tried to kill us. Helped Buffy save the world. Came back to get a ring that would make him invincible, lost it to Buffy. Got chipped so he couldn’t hurt humans, started helping us for blood and cigarettes, fell in love with Buffy, got a soul, died saving the world.”
By the time he finished speaking, Xander was lying between William’s legs with the other man’s hands on his head, and had reached the waistband of his sweat pants. He pulled the elastic out and dipped his head to lick the tip of William’s penis. William’s fingers tightened in his hair, and he groaned as Xander lapped at the head of his cock; dipping his tongue into the weeping slit, and then sucking on the head.
“Xander,” he moaned, and Xander nearly lost it. He surged to his knees, pressed against William’s chest, and kissed him; desperate, and hard, and hot. William tasted so good; the bitter-salt of his release, the sweetness of his mouth.
“Mine,” Xander mumbled against his lips. “Mine.”
“Yours,” William agreed, before Xander plundered his mouth again.
“Need you so much,” Xander groaned into William’s neck as he placed open-mouthed kisses, and sucked on the tender skin. William reached between them and grasped Xander’s erection through his sweats. Xander closed his teeth on William’s neck as he moved his hips, pressing himself into William’s hand. “Need to feel you inside me,” Xander groaned. “William, want to feel you inside me again.”
“God, yes!” William agreed hoarsely. “Christ, Xander. You make me so hot. You better quit...ahhh! Sucking on my neck, oh, God!”
Xander knew William’s neck was especially sensitive, and he used that knowledge to drive his lover wild every opportunity he got. “We still got lube in here?” he asked, panting slightly.
Without letting go of Xander’s erection, William reached behind him with his other hand and opened the drawer in the end table. He felt around inside it, giving a triumphant yell when he found the well-used tube of lube and a condom. Xander grabbed the tube out of his hand and stood, shoving his sweats down his legs and kicking them off.
“Now you,” he said, reaching for the elastic at William’s waist. William lifted his hips, and Xander pulled the sweats over his hips and down his slim legs. William swung his feet off the couch and sat up. Xander tugged at William’s legs so he was slouching on the couch, and then straddled his legs.
“Xander...,” William began to protest, but Xander leaned forward and kissed him into silence.
“Need you,” he said, as he uncapped the lube and spread a liberal amount on his fingers. He reached between his legs and rubbed the lube around his hole, then pressed one finger in. He pulled the finger out, and replaced it with two, quickly scissoring them to stretch himself. He was desperate to feel William inside him, and considered cutting his preparation short.
“Jesus, Xander,” William groaned. “You look so fucking hot doing that.” He fumbled with the condom packet, and then unrolled the latex over his penis.
At his lover’s comment, he pulled his hand out and showed William the three fingers he was going to insert next. Xander grinned at William’s harsh inhalation, moved his hand between his legs, and slid three fingers into his puckered opening. As he stretched his entrance, Xander squeezed some lube on the tip of William’s covered cock, and then tossed the tube away. He spread the lube over William’s hard length, then wrapped his fingers around the shaft and began to stroke William as he made himself ready.
“Xan, Xan,” William moaned, gripping Xander’s hips tight enough to leave bruises.
Xander removed his fingers and moved forward so he was straddling William’s jutting cock. He spread his butt cheeks with both hands, and lowered himself until the head of William’s cock was pressing against his hole. “Guide yourself,” he gasped, and William reached for his own cock, holding it steady as Xander sank onto it.
“Oh, fuck,” Xander hissed, as William’s cock breached his opening, and then filled him completely. “Oh, fuck, William!”
“Xan, you feel amazing. Oh, God!” William cried when Xander began moving, lifting up, nearly pulling off his cock, and then sinking back down.
“Need you, William.” Xander kissed the other man as he rode him, his tongue pressing into William’s mouth to dance with the other man’s tongue. He began to move faster, lifting up and then dropping down hard, changing his angle of descent until the head of William’s hard member was hitting his prostate.
“Xander, Xan, oh, God, Xan...,” William chanted helplessly.
“Will, need you, need to be yours, Will, please,” Xander babbled.
Xander’s desperation must have transferred itself to William, because the next thing he knew, the other man was standing and depositing him on his back on the couch without separating them. William crouched between his legs, and began to pound into him. Xander wrapped his legs around William’s waist and threw his head back.
“Yes, yes, God, William, yes!” he cried.
“Mine,” William growled, as he thrust into Xander. “Mine, mine.”
“Yes, yours. Yours!” Xander screamed, as his orgasm exploded through him. He felt William pulse inside his tight channel, and then fill him with his release as he roared Xander’s name. William melted bonelessly onto Xander’s chest, and Xander wrapped his arms around the other man’s shoulders, holding him close, and rocking him.
“Love you, love you, love you,” he whispered the mantra.
William lifted his head wearily and softly kissed Xander’s lips. “Love you, too, Xan. Always.”
“What else?” William asked, as he ran his fingers through Xander’s damp hair.
“Hmm?” Xander responded sleepily. They’d showered again, and were wrapped around each other in the middle of the king-size bed.
“What else did Willow want you to do?” William clarified. “Other than tell me some things about Spike.”
“Oh, that,” Xander muttered. “‘S not important right now.” He buried his face in William’s neck. He so didn’t want to talk about Angel at this moment. It was bad enough he was thinking about the dark vampire now. He didn’t know if Angel would recognize William, much less still have a claim on him in some way, but he was not going to lose his lover to...
“Xan? Xander!” William called louder.
“Hmm? What?” Xander asked when he finally heard William calling to him.
“You just got all...tense. A little overreacting for something that isn’t important, don’t ya think?” William asked gently.
Xander flopped over onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He sighed deeply in resignation. “Willow wanted me to take you to see Angel,” he admitted.
“Angel. The guy Gunn and Fred work with? Who owns the hotel where we work out?” William asked. Xander nodded. “And that’s got you all worked up...why?” he asked.
“Angel...oh, God,” Xander said, feeling tears burn his eye. “Angel is...well, I hate Angel. I’ve hated Angel since the day I met him, when Buffy fell for him and not me. Although that crush is over, gone, done!” he hastened to assure his lover. “I really hated him when I found out he was a vampire,” Xander added softly.
“Angel’s a vampire?” William asked, his voice raised in shock. Xander nodded. “How many vampires did you hang out with?” he asked in a light, teasing voice. Xander tried to laugh at William’s attempt to make him feel better. “H-how did that come about?” William asked. “You know, th-the hanging...thing.”
“Angel has a soul,” Xander said.
“A soul?” William asked in surprise. “Like Spike?”
“Yeah,” Xander agreed. “A soul. Angel was the original souled-vamp. Only he was way different from Spike. His soul was a curse, punishment for killing the wrong girl. Spike...” Xander paused, swallowed hard. “It’s really hard to say this,” he admitted. “I hated Spike, and I didn’t trust him, and as much as he helped us, I never gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he...his soul was a gift. He got it because he loved Buffy.” Xander turned his face away as the tears slid down his cheeks. Spike loved Buffy enough to get a soul for her. How could he ever hope to compete with that kind of love?
“Xander?” William spoke his name softly. “Xander, don’t.” William rolled him so that they were lying face-to-face, and wrapped his arms around him. Xander buried his face in William’s chest.
“His soul was a gift. For Buffy. And then he died...he saved the world, but he did it for Buffy. All of it. How can I...” Xander’s voice broke.
“Xander,” William cooed soothingly, as he rubbed his back.
“How can I compete with that?” he asked on a sob.
“You don’t have to compete with that, Xander,” William said, holding Xander tighter as he continued to rub his back. “I don’t know how to make you believe me. I love you. You. The man who babbles, and blushes, and gives head in alleys.” Xander gave a soggy laugh. William lifted his face. “I was attracted to you the day we met. Even more so after you saved my life that first night we ran into vampires. But I think...” William paused in thought. “I think I fell in love with you when you insisted on buying me a cross for protection. Either then, or when you threw me up against the door in your motel room and kissed me.”
William placed a light kiss on Xander’s forehead, then over each eyelid and both cheeks, before landing on his lips. “I love you, Xander. I love you.” He nipped at Xander’s lower lip, then slipped his tongue between them, and kissed Xander breathless. “Now,” he said, pulling away from Xander, who was panting for air. “About Angel.”
When Xander could speak again, he said, “I hate that I’ve made your problems all about me.”
“Nonsense,” William said matter-of-factly. “This is about us. Now, tell me about Angel.”
Xander took another deep breath. “Angel. Well, he came to Sunnydale to help Buffy. They fell in love. Until he lost his soul...” He glanced over at William’s face. “Which is a completely different story. And he has a soul now.” He paused. “I think. Anyway, that’s not the part that’s bothering me.”
Xander gave a slightly hysterical laugh. God, there were so many ways he could lose William. To Buffy. To Angel. To his own revulsion, when he got his memories back and realized who he was with. No matter what William said, Xander couldn’t bring himself to believe that their love, developed over a matter of weeks together, would outweigh the contempt and hatred Spike had built up over years.
“Then what is?” William asked, bringing Xander out of his reverie.
Another deep sigh. He should be in a romance novel, he thought, disgusted with himself. “Angel is...was...Spike’s sire.”
“Sire?” William asked.
“Angel, or rather, Angelus, was the vampire who turned Spike. Into a vampire,” Xander clarified.
“And this is important because?” William asked.
Xander had told William everything he’d needed to know about killing vampires, but he’d shied away from anything having to do with the making of them, and the types of relationships, bonds, they formed.
“The sire-childe bond is very...strong,” Xander explained. “I was afraid to find out just how strong. I wasn’t sure...I was afraid Angel might...recognize you. Try to take you away from me,” he admitted.
“Because of this...bond?” William asked. Xander nodded silently. “So...were Angel and Spike close, then?” he asked.
“No,” Xander said, suddenly feeling silly. “I-I think they hated each other.”
“Was there anybody who liked Spike?” William asked, his voice small. “I don’t think I want to be Spike.”
“Of course there was!” Xander assured him. “Dawn loved him. Well, until she found out about him and Buffy...but that’s another story. Uh, well, Dru...but she was insane. And a vampire. Mmm, well... Joyce! Buffy’s mom. She liked him. And that was before the soul. And, you know.” Xander looked up at William. “Buffy. Buffy liked Spike. By the end, I think she realized that he was...that he had worth. As a person. Er, individual. And me. I di-didn’t realize it then, but I do now. That’s one of the reasons I was so shocked and, and elated when I thought you were Spike. That had been bothering me lately. That I never told him...never saw that...and I just...”
“It’s all right, Xander,” William soothed.
“God, this has got to be one of the worst mornings of my life,” Xander said self-deprecatingly. “Could I possibly be more of a...ponce?” he growled.
“It’s been one of the best of mine,” William said softly, and Xander froze in his self-flagellation.
“Why?” he asked wonderingly.
“Because now we have no more secrets between us,” William said. “You know, except for the whole me-not-remembering thing.”
Xander gave a wry grin. “Glass half-full, huh?”
“No way, Xander,” William said, rolling them so Xander was lying on top of him. “Our glass is full.”
William pressed Xander’s head down to his, and kissed him; light, feathery kisses across his lips, and then tickling touches with his tongue. Just as Xander was nearing the limit of his patience, William slipped his tongue between Xander’s lips. Xander eagerly parted them and welcomed William’s seeking tongue into his mouth, twining his own about it in a slow, leisurely dance.
William moaned into his mouth, and the dance became more passionate. He cradled Xander’s head and directed the kiss, while Xander took his weight on his elbows and began to move his hips, pressing their groins together. William arched his neck and groaned. Xander lifted up onto his hands, so he could watch their cocks slide against one another.
“Xander,” William hissed, his hands moving to Xander’s ass, squeezing and kneading as the other man ground their groins together.
“I love watching us,” Xander whispered breathily. “You’ve got a beautiful body.”
“Tell me,” William moaned, his fingers closing convulsively over the firm flesh of Xander’s buttocks.
“I love everything about your body, William,” Xander panted. “Your lips.” He lowered his head and brushed a kiss across William’s lips. “Your neck.” Xander sucked on the sensitive skin over William’s pulse point.
William used his grip on Xander’s ass to press them tighter together. “Your hands. I love your hands,” Xander whispered in William’s ear before sucking his lobe into his mouth. He grunted as William began to thrust up against him. “And I love your feet.”
“Feet?” William squeaked.
“Mmm,” Xander agreed with a grin. “Sexy feet. But I really love your cock.”
“Christ, Xander!” William cried out, as they both began to move against each other faster, harder.
“You have a beautiful cock, Will.” Xander’s voice was hoarse with arousal. “I love looking at it, and touching it, and tasting it. I love when you fill me; my hand, my mouth, my ass.”
“Xan-Xander!” William screamed, as his cock erupted, shooting warm fluid between them.
“Love, Will!” Xander roared, his mind shattering, his body quaking as he exploded, his release joining that already coating their chests and stomachs.
After they washed up, both eschewing another shower in case they got waterlogged, and slipped into boxers, Xander called Gunn, who he hoped was still working and not in bed. When Gunn answered his cell, Xander asked if he could arrange a meeting with Angel the next day when they showed up for their workout. Gunn agreed to do so without comment, just asking Xander if they were both all right. After Xander assured him that they were, they disconnected.
Xander set the phone down and joined William on the balcony. He was sitting in the single lounge chair they had room for. William moved his legs, and Xander lowered himself to the chair between them. Xander leaned back against his chest, and William wrapped his arms around him. “Love you,” he whispered in Xander’s ear.
“Love you, too,” Xander replied, and tried to relax into his lover as they waited for the sunrise.
Now they were standing outside the Hyperion. Xander held William’s hand in one of his, and nervously ran the other through his hair, then reached for the door. He finally steeled himself and pushed the door open. Gunn was waiting in the lobby alone when they entered.
“Hey, y’all!” he called to them.
“Hey, Gunn,” Xander greeted him, his voice flat.
“Gunn,” William said with a smile. “Fred’s wearing off on you, eh?”
“Girl insists on saying things like ‘bro’, I figure I can say ‘y’all’,” he replied with a grin.
Xander swallowed hard. “Angel around?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Gunn said. “He should be down any minute. Like now,” he added when he saw the dark vampire descending the stairs to the lobby.
Xander turned towards the stairs and tightened his grip on William’s hand.
“Mornin’, Angel,” Gunn called, still grinning.
“Afternoon, Gunn,” Angel said, glancing around the lobby. “Xander.” He froze on the stairs. “Spike?”
“Spike?” Gunn repeated confusedly.
Angel sniffed the air as he stalked down the rest of the stairs. Xander took a protective step in front of William as Angel gave off predatory vibes, and the other man squeezed his hand and stuck a finger through his belt loop. “Human,” Angel said, nostrils flaring. “Not Spike, then...”
“William,” Xander said firmly.
“William?” Angel asked. “How...?”
“We don’t know,” Xander explained. “I mean, we don’t know if he’s Spike’s human-self, or if he’s just someone who looks like Spike. That’s why we’re here. For your help.”
“Who’s Spike?” Gunn asked no one.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Angel asked in disbelief, as he moved closer.
“I don’t remember,” William spoke up bravely, if a bit shakily in the overwhelming presence of the dark vampire.
Xander straightened his shoulders, refusing to allow Angel’s size and demeanor to intimidate him. “He was in a coma, and doesn’t remember anything before the last four months,” he added.
“Coma,” Angel repeated, as he walked a wide circle around Xander and William, studying them. He stopped walking a few paces in front of them, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Tell me what you know.”
“We only know that William resembles Spike, except for the whole human thing. Willow’s looking into seeing whether it was possible for Spike to survive the closing of the Hellmouth and the destruction of Sunnydale, and possible explanations for him being human if he did, but she hasn’t had any luck,” Xander said. “Oh, and he’s been making his way to LA since he woke up.”
Xander watched possessively as Angel’s eyes devoured William. Suddenly brown eyes glinted amber. “Your scent is all over him,” he growled.
“Of course it is,” William said innocently. “We’ve been together for nearly a month.”
“Together,” Angel repeated thoughtfully.
“Yes, together,” William said, taking a protective step up to Xander’s back and wrapping his arm around the brunette’s waist.
“A month?” Angel asked between clenched teeth. William nodded. An enraged Angel rushed Xander, grabbing him by the shirt and lifting him off his feet. “You’ve known he was alive for over a month, and you didn’t tell me?” he snarled.
“Whoa, Angel, man!” Gunn cried in surprise.
Without speaking, William tightened his hold on both Xander’s waist and hand, lifted his leg, and kicked Angel in the side. Angel flew across the room with a tearing sound as Xander was ripped from his grip. “Don’t touch him,” William growled. “He’s mine.”
“Jesus, Angel!” Gunn cried, moving towards his boss. “Are you all right?”
“I didn’t think you’d care,” Xander said as he fingered his torn shirt, knowing it was only half the truth. “You hated Spike.”
“He was my childe!” Angel yelled, as he climbed to his feet without help, throwing the bit of fabric he’d torn from Xander’s shirt to the floor.
“If you cared so much, why didn’t you come for him when he got chipped? Or when he got souled? Why did you leave him with people who treated him like shit?” Xander yelled back, his face red. William’s hold on him was the only thing keeping him from attacking Angel and, in all probability, getting beaten to a pulp.
“He was my childe,” Angel repeated brokenly.
“Yeah,” Xander said disgustedly. “Looks like we’re both a little bit sorry about the way we treated him when he was actually here to care.”
“I grieved for him,” Angel continued, as if he hadn’t heard Xander.
“I didn’t know,” Xander said, swearing to himself that it was the closest he’d come to an apology. “It looked an awful lot like brooding to me. You know, same old, same old.” He sighed at the devastated look on Angel’s face. “Look, I...I’m sorry, all right. I really didn’t know you...cared about him. But William...” Xander turned around and pulled William against him with one arm. “William might be Spike, or he might not. He doesn’t remember Spike. But something happened last night, and we...he...”
“We,” William said softly, and Xander turned to look at him, then smiled.
“We,” he said to Angel. “We need your help. We decided - Willow, William, and I - that it would be better if he remembered on his own, if he remembered anything at all, so I didn’t tell him about Spike. Until last night, when I had to tell him some things - just the basics, not a lot of vampire-y details. And we don’t want you to tell him...we just... Do you recognize him? Can you sense if it’s him? And if it is, do you know why...”
“He doesn’t smell like Spike,” Angel said slowly, sniffing the air again. “And I don’t remember clearly what William smelled like before he was turned. I’m sorry,” he said, and Xander believed that he really was.
“What happened last night?” Gunn asked Xander. “You told me everything was all right! And who in hell is Spike?”
“It is. Now,” William was quick to reassure the other man. “We were attacked by vampires, and I-I...” He looked to Xander for help.
“There were five of them. We’d dusted four, but the last one was biting me,” Xander said, unconsciously rubbing his neck. “William...” He glanced at his lover, and smiled. “William saved my life.” William smiled back. “Did I thank you for that?” Xander asked him, oblivious for a moment to the others in the lobby with them.
“Oh, yeah,” William drawled with a raised eyebrow, and Xander blushed.
“Anyway,” he said, turning his attention back to Angel and Gunn. He took a deep breath. “William killed the vampire. He tore its heart out through its back.”
“He what?” Gunn asked in disbelief.
“Yeah,” Angel said, rubbing his side. “I thought that kick hurt a bit more than it should have for a mere human.” Xander couldn’t help grinning and hugging his lover closer.
“So,” Angel said. “We’ve really got two questions here. Is William Spike, and if so, how did that happen?”
“Right,” Xander and William agreed as one, and then turned to smile at each other again.
Angel shook his head. “But you remembered something last night,” he said to William.
“Well, actually, no,” William replied. “I mean, I didn’t think about it. I just did it.”
“Instinct versus memory,” Gunn supplied.
“Yeah,” William agreed, nodding at Gunn. “Exactly. It was just instinctual. Xander was in trouble, and I reacted.”
“So, what was that like?” Gunn asked. “Ripping its heart out, I mean. Cool?”
“Kind of gross, actually,” William told him with a grimace.
“It didn’t hurt your hand?” Angel asked suddenly.
“Uh, no,” William said, unconsciously curling his hand into a fist.
The four of them sat on the couches in the lobby and talked. Angel briefly explained to Gunn that Spike was his childe, and Xander contributed the information that he had given William the night before about Spike, including the fact that he had died, supposedly, closing the Hellmouth. William then told Angel and Gunn the same story he had told Xander, about waking up in the hospital and making his way to LA.
“Sorry,” Xander apologized to Gunn for leaving him in the dark when he’d introduced William. He shrugged. “We just didn’t know, and we didn’t want to go through the whole ‘maybe’ explanation, if it turned out we were wrong...”
“That’s okay, man,” Gunn said, holding up his hand to stop Xander’s babbling. “I understand. Fred, now, she might kick your ass.” Xander grinned at that picture.
Angel asked William what he’d done since arriving in LA. William told him about meeting Xander at the diner, and eventually moving in together, his job at Prologue, nights spent at O’Reilly’s, breakfasts at the diner, and training with Gunn. By the time they were done talking, they were too emotionally whipped to train.
Just as they were getting ready to leave, Cordy appeared at the top of the stairs. “Hey, Xander!” she called, as she skipped down the steps. “We haven’t seen you in ages!”
“That’s ‘cause you’re always sleeping when I’m here training with Gunn,” Xander teased.
“Need my beauty rest after working all night,” she said, as she raced across the lobby to give him a hug. “And you’d better disagree with me, Angel!” Xander stood to catch her as she threw herself at him. “What happened to your shirt?” she asked, as she glanced over his shoulder, and froze. “Spike!”
Xander barely managed to keep Cordy from attacking the man who she thought was the vampire that had tortured Angel. The vampire in question scooped the hissing female out of Xander’s arms and silenced her by kissing her breathless.
“Angel!” she said when she caught her breath, by which time Angel had sat down on one of the couches and had her tucked in beside him. “How could you let him in here?” she asked angrily.
William leaned over to Xander, who had reseated himself beside the other man and taken his hand. “I take it she didn’t like Spike, either,” he said.
“Uh, guess not,” Xander said. “I didn’t know she knew him well enough to hate him.”
“Hey!” William protested.
“Sorry,” Xander said sheepishly. “You know what I mean.”
Angel explained that Spike, or William, was now human, and what little they knew about his current situation. When he was done, Cordy looked over at William suspiciously. “You’re human?” she asked. William nodded. “And you have no memory of tor...”
Angel clamped his hand over her mouth. “He doesn’t remember,” he said softly. “We’re letting him remember the details on his own.” Cordy bit Angel’s hand. “Ow!” he yelped, pulling it away and shaking it.
“Details?” she said, glaring at the dark vampire. “You call that a detail?”
“In this case, yes,” Angel replied evenly, licking a drop of blood off his hand.
“He!” she practically yelled, pointing at William as she turned to look accusingly at him. “He...is holding Xander’s hand!” she squealed. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave Angel a look. “I think somebody left something out.”
Xander then explained that he and William were together. “B-but you and... Wait! You’re not blaming me for this, are you?” she asked.
Xander shook his head in wonder at Cordy’s ability to make even this about her. “No,” he said. “I blame William.” He turned to look lovingly at the other man, and then kissed him. “What can I say?” He shrugged. “I just couldn’t resist him.”
“Aww!” Cordy said at Xander’s sappy comments. “So, what did Willow say?”
“Willow was very supportive,” Xander said, glad he’d told his best friend before Cordelia found out. “You know, after the ‘shovel talk’.”
“Shovel talk?” Gunn asked.
“She’s gay; she would be,” Cordy waved that away. “What about Buffy?” she asked. “Bet she was wigged. I mean, more wigged than me, right? ‘Cause I’m handling this pretty well, I think, considering we once... You’re sure it wasn’t me?”
Xander didn’t know what to say to that, though he should have realized it would come up. He hadn’t really wanted to think about it too much, since Buffy finding out was one of his worst fears, right behind William’s memories returning and the other man leaving him, and neck-and-neck with Angel taking him away. Xander was very glad Cordy had glossed over Buffy and returned the topic to her, and assured her again that it wasn’t her fault.
As they once more prepared to say their goodbyes, Angel told William and Xander that he would have Wesley look into William’s situation, as well as place all the resources of W&H at their disposal.
Cordy piped up, “Too bad he didn’t have a soul before he died.”
“Why’s that?” Gunn asked.
“‘Cause then we’d know why he got to be human. Of course, he’d need a destiny,” she mused.
“What do you mean?” William asked.
“Shanshu,” Cordy chirped.
“Shanshu?” Xander repeated.
“Yeah,” Cordy said. “The prophecy Wesley found about the vampire with a soul. When he fulfills his destiny, he’ll become human. But that’s Angel’s reward when he... What?” she asked at the heavy silence suddenly filling the lobby of the Hyperion.
“Seems Spike had a soul,” Gunn said slowly.
“Spike had a soul?” Cordy repeated dumbly.
“There’s a prophecy?” Xander asked excitedly.
“And he had a destiny,” Angel added, remembering the amulet he himself had delivered to Buffy and offered to wear.
“What destiny?” she asked wildly. “Spike can’t shanshu! Angel’s supposed to shanshu!”
“Maybe they can both shanshu,” Gunn suggested.
“B-but that’s Angel’s redemption!” Cordy cried.
“It’s all right, Cordy,” Angel said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder and pulling her against him. She looked up at him, stricken.
“No, Angel.” She shook her head. “That’s your reward. Spike can’t...”
“If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen,” Angel tried to reassure her. “Besides, we both know it’ll be a long time before I’ve earned my redemption.”
“But...then how could Spike...?” she asked.
“Spike died saving the world,” Xander said proudly. “He sacrificed himself for us. Maybe Gunn’s right. Perhaps they both get to...shanshu,” he stumbled over the unfamiliar word.
“We’ll make sure Wesley considers that,” Angel offered, and Xander could see no trace of jealousy in his expression.
“Angel...,” William began apologetically.
“If Spike was rewarded with becoming human, then I’m sure he deserved it,” Angel said, and William ducked his head self-consciously.
“Well,” Xander said, subdued. “We should probably get going.” He stood, William’s hand still held tightly in his, and the other man rose to his feet so they were standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
“Thanks,” William said quietly. “Sorry,” he added, glancing at Cordy.
“Thank you,” Angel said, as he stood and moved towards the other two men. He briefly placed one hand on William’s shoulder, awkwardly patted him, and then removed it. “For coming here...and telling me...I appreciate...,” he stammered.
“You’re welcome,” Xander said, unexpectedly taking pity on Angel.
Gunn pulled Cordy to her feet and gave her a hug goodbye. While she was distracted, Angel took the opportunity to ask Xander softly, “Buffy doesn’t know? About William?”
“No,” Xander said, after a slight hesitation, his hand tightening on William’s. “And I’d like to be the one to tell her. About William, and about us.” William squeezed Xander’s hand supportively.
Angel stared at Xander for a long time before answering, and Xander wondered if the vampire could sense his discomfort with the subject. “I agree,” he finally said.
Xander nodded, and then changed the subject. “Who’s supposed to grant this reward?” he asked.
“The scroll doesn’t say specifically,” Angel said. “We assumed it was the Powers That Be.”
“The Powers That Be,” Xander repeated slowly.
When they got back to the privacy of their apartment, Xander immediately placed a call to Willow. While he told her about their visit to Angel and the prophecy, William stepped out onto the balcony. Xander watched him as he answered Willow’s questions about the prophecy, then suggested she speak with Wesley to learn more about it when he couldn’t tell her what she wanted to know. A giddy Willow assured him that she would do so, and they disconnected.
Xander silently slipped up behind William, wrapped his arms around the other man’s waist, and rested his chin on his shoulder. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing,” William said, laying a hand over one of Xander’s.
“Liar,” Xander whispered. “You’ve been quiet since we left the hotel. Tell me,” he urged.
“I’m fine,” William said unconvincingly.
“I love you, William,” Xander said. “And I can tell you’re getting yourself all worked up about something. Please, tell me.”
“What if this...reward...isn’t really mine? What if me getting to be human means Angel won’t? What if I didn’t really deserve it?” William asked, his voice getting more and more strained.
Xander took him by the shoulders and turned him around. Looking the other man in the eyes, he said, “First of all, Spike deserved it. You deserve it. Secondly, if Angel is meant to be human, the Powers That Be will make sure he gets his own...shanshu. This one is yours. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.”
William just stared back at him, and Xander could see the uncertainty in his eyes.
“I mean it, William,” he said intently. “You know what I thought of Spike before he died, before I let myself realize just what he did for us, how much he’d changed. If I say he deserved it, that you deserve it, then you can believe that I mean it.”
Xander let his sincerity show on his face as William studied him intently. The smaller man shook his head in resignation as he allowed Xander’s words to sway him. “You’re just saying that because you think I’m sexy,” William finally said with a small smile.
“That’s not true!” Xander defended himself, and then realized what he’d implied at William’s raised eyebrow. “I mean, I do think you’re sexy, but that’s not why I...” He stopped when he noticed that he was babbling and William was grinning. “That’s not funny,” he growled, stepping into William and pressing him against the balcony railing.
William groaned as their bodies made contact. Xander placed his hands on the railing on either side of William, and lowered his lips to the other man’s neck. William grasped his forearms, his fingers tightening convulsively as he nibbled a trail from William’s collarbone to his ear, then sucked his earlobe into his mouth, biting down gently. William shivered against him.
Xander licked around the shell of his ear and gently blew across it, and William gave a shuddering moan. He dropped his lips to the soft skin of William’s neck, and sucked. William dropped his head back, giving Xander better access, even as his hips bucked against him. His hands dropped down to Xander’s hips, pulling him tight against him, their groins rubbing together frantically as Xander placed open-mouthed kisses along William’s jaw.
When he reached his perfect lips, soft and lush, Xander took the time to taste them thoroughly before sliding his tongue between them. William moaned his displeasure as Xander took his time exploring the other man’s mouth in counterpoint to the rapid pace of their hips as they ground their erections together. And then he was kissing him harder, with more urgency, sucking his tongue into his mouth.
William cupped Xander’s ass with one hand, and the back of his head with the other, forcing them even closer together. With a muffled groan, his body stiffened against Xander’s, and he came. Like wildfire, William’s rapture transferred itself to Xander. He pulled his lips away from the other man’s mouth and latched onto his neck, sucking hard as his hips bucked one last time, and then he exploded.
“Love you, Will,” he mumbled into his lover’s neck.
“Love you, too, Xan,” William breathed, tightening his hold on Xander.
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