Reaping the Reward


by
Spikedluv



Part Nineteen

“What do you mean?” Xander asked slowly, his blood running cold at Wesley’s words. Abnormalities. What did that mean?

“Is William there?” Wesley asked. “I’d really like to talk to both of you about this. The abnormalities aren’t necessarily bad,” he continued, “and actually might go a long way toward explaining... But I digress. Is there a convenient time we could...”

“We’re going to lunch,” Xander said. His mouth felt dry, and it was hard to breathe. What if something was wrong with William? If he was Spike, it was a miracle he was alive at all, and human, no less. What if he didn’t come back right? What if he...? No! He wasn’t going to think like that; positive thoughts only. “Can you meet us there?” he asked the ex-Watcher.

“Of course,” Wesley agreed excitedly. “Where?”

Xander gave him the name and address of a restaurant where they could get a booth in the back and have some privacy. “Twenty minutes?” he asked.

“I’ll see you both then,” Wesley said, and hung up.

Xander disconnected, and turned to William, who he still held tightly to his side. “That was Wesley,” he said. William was staring at him with big, blue eyes.

“What did he want?” he asked, his voice nearly a whisper.

“The blood tests came back,” Xander said, fumbling as he tried to shove the phone into his jacket pocket.

“And?” William asked.

“He wants to tell us both. He’s meeting us at the restaurant,” Xander hedged, attempting to direct William towards the door. William refused to budge.

“He said something, because you went all white.” William stroked Xander’s face. “Did he say I was dying?” he asked, his voice breaking.

“No!” Xander cried, wrapping his other arm around William and pulling him against his chest. “God, no. He said...” Xander paused. He had to tell William - he couldn’t lie to him - but how to tell him so it wouldn’t worry him, when it had so obviously freaked him out? Of course, if William had been worried he might be dying, then merely ‘abnormal’ might be a relief. “He said there were some abnormalities, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He wouldn’t tell me anything more. He wanted to talk to you, to both of us.”

William buried his face in Xander’s neck, and shivered against him. His hands went around Xander’s waist, beneath the jacket, and Xander could feel their chill through his shirt. “I’ve got you, William,” he whispered. “I’ve got you, and I’m never letting go. I promise. You’ll be fine, because you have to be. I love you.” He pulled William’s head away from him so he could reach his face, smattering kisses across brow, and cheek, and nose before settling on his lips. “Love you so much.” Xander kissed him hard and held him tight, as if to prove to both of them that they were going to be fine; William was going to be fine.


~*~*~*~*~


Wesley was waiting outside the restaurant when they arrived. Xander, William’s hand held tightly in his, greeted Wesley, and then led the way into the restaurant. Despite his reassurances, he knew William was still apprehensive. Of course, in spite of his own denial, he was also worried about what Wesley was going to tell them, and William knew him too well.

He waved hello to one of the waitresses, Carol, before guiding William into a booth in the back and sliding in after him while Wesley seated himself across from them. Carol followed them to the booth with three glasses of ice water and one menu. After setting the glasses down and placing the menu before Wesley, she asked Xander if they needed more time. Xander raised his eyebrows questioningly at Wesley.

“Oh, I’ll just have tea,” Wesley said, glancing up at Carol.

Xander and William, familiar with the menu, ordered, and then waited impatiently for Carol to leave. Xander didn’t even wince when William squeezed his fingers anxiously. “Well?” he asked, as soon as Carol was out of earshot.

Wesley, who had been drumming his fingers on the manila folder he’d laid on the table in front of him, flipped the folder open and glanced at the top sheet. Upside down, it looked to Xander like lab results, which of course meant nothing to him. He glanced up at Wesley, who was nearly vibrating with excitement. Well, at least one of them was going to enjoy lunch, he thought.

“White blood cells,” Wesley began, “are central to the body’s immune system. They are the cells that help keep the body healthy by fighting infection and disease. Some white blood cells act as scavengers by engulfing foreign particles, such as bacteria, and destroying them, while others produce antibodies or destroy dead cells.”1 He paused. “William’s test results show that some of his white blood cells are...mutated.”

“Mutated?” William repeated, speaking for the first time since leaving the apartment, other than to order his meal.

“Yes,” Wesley agreed. “Your T lymphocytes, the white blood cells that produce antibodies, and your B lymphocytes, those that destroy bacteria, are slightly larger than normal T and B lymphocytes. If you are in fact Spike brought back human,” he went on, “and you have retained a portion of the...elements that made up Spike’s vampiric nature, such as the vampire’s ability to heal quickly and to not catch disease, as the mutated cells might indicate, we could achieve a greater understanding of how the demon reanimates the human body it has taken over; how it changes the host body to accommodate it’s new...owner.” He paused as Carol set their drinks in front of them. As soon as she turned away, he continued.

“I’d like to test Angel’s blood, too, of course, to see if he can lend any insight into this phenomenon we’re witnessing with William, and wouldn’t it be amazing if we could figure out what makes the Slayer different? I should call Buffy...”

“No!” Xander cried, then looked around self-consciously. “Buffy doesn’t know about William,” he explained.

“Well, she doesn’t have to know why I’m asking...”

“Then you don’t know Buffy,” Xander said dryly.

“Ah, well, perhaps you’re right,” Wesley relented, after letting his mind drift back four years. “What would you suggest, then?”

“That you either wait until I’ve told Buffy, or ask Kennedy,” Xander replied.

“She’s still in London, yes?” Wesley asked.

“Yeah,” Xander said, leaning back as Carol approached with his and William’s plates. “I’m sure Wolfram & Hart can afford to have the blood drawn, packaged, and shipped to LA. Thanks,” he told Carol, and she withdrew.

“Of course,” Wesley agreed.

As he and William ate, Xander questioned Wesley. “So, the abnormal cells, could they cause a problem for William?” he asked, and waited anxiously for the answer.

“There’s no indication of illness or disease, if that’s your concern,” Wesley told them. “But, as I mentioned, I would like to run more tests on William.” He glanced at the other man.

“Like what?” Xander and William asked as one, and then turned to look at each other, reluctant smiles on their faces.

“Considering William’s ability to kill that vampire by tearing its heart out,” Wesley said matter-of-factly, “I’d like to run some strength and endurance tests. Also a CAT-scan, and possibly an MRI, to get a picture of his brain. I’ll have to run those tests on Angel, also,” he mused as if thinking out loud. “The size of the certain portions of the brain, or the level of brainwave activity, an EEG...,” he pulled a pen out of his pocket and made a notation on the inside of the file folder as he spoke, “...could tell us a lot. Of course, we wouldn’t expect the fully-formed human brain to shrink after death, necessarily, but it’s possible that certain areas of the brain might atrophy. For example, the areas of the brain that regulate breathing and heart rate...”

Xander interrupted him. “You do recall that this is about William, and not merely to satisfy your curiosity about vampires?” he asked angrily.

“Of course, I remember that, Xander,” Wesley said. “It may sound as if I’ve lost sight of that due to my excitement over what all this could tell us about vampires, but I assure you, I have not. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you trying to determine whether William is Spike made human, and if so, how that happened?”

“Yes,” Xander said, chastened.

“We’ve never taken the time to actually study vampires before,” Wesley went on. “There’s been no need; we just kill them. To determine what happened to William will, of necessity, require us to learn more about vampires in general.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry,” Xander said, shaking his head. He glanced at William apologetically, and the other man squeezed his thigh in understanding.

“That’s all right,” Wesley assured him. “I understand that while this is a fascinating scientific issue for me, it is personal for you. I also apologize, if my zealousness for the subject matter seemed...callous.”

“It didn’t,” Xander said, shoving his plate back. “I’m just...”

“Worried?” Wesley asked softly.

“Yes,” Xander admitted, staring down at the table so no one could see the tears brimming in his eye. William took his hand, and Xander looked up at him. “Sorry,” he said, shaking his head. He had wanted to be strong for William, and here he was falling apart.

“It’s completely understandable,” Wesley replied. “Even living on the Hellmouth for over 20 years can’t prepare you for this. If what we think happened, happened, it’s...a miracle.”

“Yes,” Xander agreed, staring into pools of deep blue. “It is a miracle.”

William blushed, and his lips twitched. “Stop that,” he said, nudging Xander’s shoulder with his own. Xander nudged him back, and the two men smiled at each other.

“Love you,” Xander said, turning his hand in William’s and entwining their fingers.

“I know,” William said. “Love you, too.”

While Xander was trying to get his emotions under control, William looked at Wesley. “What else?” he asked.

“Test-wise, you mean?” Wesley asked. At William’s nod, he said, “Since we’ve already got your blood, and will have Angel’s blood, we might as well do HLA testing, see if there is any genetic similarity. A long shot, again, because you and Angel aren’t related by blood, even though Spike and Angel were. Though technically, they were related by demon, and not blood per se, since any blood in the vampire’s body is borrowed from...well, from their victim, even though the sharing of blood is how the demon is passed on.” Wesley was lost in his own thoughts. “However, if the demon causes a mutation in the blood cells, that might explain why one Order is stronger than another, or some fledgling, and would certainly explain the power of sire’s blood and why sharing blood between vampires is...,” he broke off his rambling. “Hmm, anyway, it’s worth looking into. If we see anything, we might submit the blood samples for further testing, possibly DNA. I won’t really know what else we could do until we get those results back. I wonder if Drusilla is still around?” he mumbled.

“Why didn’t the hospital notice the...mutation?” William asked.

“I don’t know,” Wesley said. “It’s possible that the mutation was too minor to show up. Because of that possibility, I’d also like to check your blood every couple weeks or so, just to see if there’s any change.”

William blinked. “Right. So, when do you want to do all this?” he asked.

“I don’t suppose you could spend a whole day with us?” Wesley asked hopefully.

“No,” Xander said. “That’s too much. You can’t ask him to do that all at once.”

William turned to Xander and put his hand on his cheek. Xander pressed his lips together to keep from saying anything else. He was sorry he’d ever started this whole thing. If only he’d never mentioned William’s similar appearance to Spike. But if not for that, he would never have approached William in the first place. He sighed. What a mess.

“I’ll be fine,” William said. He turned to Wesley. “I’ve only been working for about a month. I’d rather not have to ask for a day off...unless it’s life threatening?” He let the question hang.

“No, of course not,” Wesley said. “That we know of,” he added, and Xander glared at him.

“What do you want to do first?” William asked.

“Well, I can get Angel’s blood without you, and start those tests,” Wesley said thoughtfully. “While those are being run, perhaps we could start with the strength and endurance tests, and then I’ll get you both in, you and Angel, for the scans...”

“Wanna go in again on Monday?” William asked Xander.

“How long will they take?” Xander asked Wesley.

“Several hours, possibly four, for the strength and endurance tests, I should think,” Wesley replied. “Less than an hour for the scans. Maybe two.”

“Fine.” Xander nodded at William.

William turned to Wesley. “Monday?”

“Monday would be wonderful. What time?” Wesley asked, pen poised over the folder.

“I need to be to work by three,” William said. “And have lunch, if we’re able to eat anything. So, ten?”

“Ten it is,” Wesley agreed, writing the time down. “I’ll make the telephone calls and have everything set up when you get there.”

“Great,” Xander muttered.

“Well, I guess I’ll be going, then. Do either of you have any other questions before I leave?” Wesley asked.

William opened his mouth, and then closed it. Wesley and Xander looked at him expectantly. “What is it?” Xander asked.

“Am I human?” William asked.

“Yes, William,” Wesley said, his business-like expression softening. “You appear to be fully human.”

William closed his eyes and relaxed against their seat as the tension flowed out of him.

Wesley stood. “I’ll see you both on Monday, then,” he said.

“Yeah,” Xander agreed distractedly, not even noticing when the ex-Watcher walked away. “William?” he called softly.

William slowly opened his eyes and focused on Xander. “I was a little worried about that,” he said.

“Oh, William,” Xander said. He wanted to pull William to him and kiss him, but they tried to keep those types of public displays of affection to a minimum. Limited to photo booths and the diner, he thought with a grin. “I love you,” he said, and hoped William knew exactly how much.

William smiled. “Can we get out of here?”

“Absolutely,” Xander said, pulling his wallet out and throwing enough money on the table to cover the bill and a tip for Carol. He slid out of the booth, and reached for William’s hand - the only PDA they indulged in on a regular basis - and led the way out of the restaurant, waving to Carol when she called her goodbyes over to them.


~*~*~*~*~


They were silent as they walked along the sidewalk, with no particular destination in mind. Xander looked up when William pulled him to a stop. “What?” he asked. William lifted his chin, and Xander turned his head. “What?” he asked again when he recognized the arcade where he and William had gotten their pictures taken in the photo booth, one set of which he’d kept for himself, and the other sent to Willow.

“I want my pictures of you,” William said.

“Now?” Xander asked in surprise.

“I think it would make me feel better,” William said, an innocent look on his face.

“It would?” Xander asked suspiciously.

“Mmm,” William agreed with a nod.

“Fine,” Xander acquiesced with a sigh. “If it’ll make you feel better. Let’s go.”

William led the way into the arcade and over to the same photo booth they’d used the last time. He got out the money and slid the bill into the slot, then stepped into the booth and sat down. Xander peeked in, and William tapped his legs in a ‘come sit down’ motion.

“You want me to sit on your lap?” Xander asked. He was a little bit bigger than William and would probably hide him from view if he sat on his lap. William spread his legs in invitation and waggled his eyebrows, and Xander’s body automatically responded to the lewd gesture.

He swallowed hard as he stepped into the booth and made sure the curtain was pulled closed. He settled himself onto the stool between William’s thighs, and William’s arms came around him. William rested his face on the back of Xander’s neck, and then nudged his ponytail aside and kissed him.

“Ready?” Xander asked, lifting his arm to reach for the button.

“Not yet,” William whispered, letting his hands roam over Xander’s stomach and chest, forcefully palming his nipples, and then pinching them.

“William,” Xander groaned. William ignored him and began to unbutton his shirt, slipping his hands inside to tease his nipples as he pulled the collar down in the back with his chin and then sucked on the exposed skin of his neck and shoulder. “Oh, God, William,” Xander hissed as his lover’s hands and mouth touched him right where he knew they’d get the most response.

“Love you, Xan,” William moaned as his hand closed over Xander’s groin. Xander bucked in surprise.

“Will! What...” Was his last coherent thought as William kneaded the hard flesh and the soft sac.

“I’ve decided what I want,” William grated against his neck as one hand moved to his waistband, unbuttoning and unzipping his pants, while the other continued to work his cock and balls.

“Wh-what?” Xander asked, as if he really understood what William was saying.

“For my picture of you,” William said, his hand slipping into Xander’s boxers and cupping heated, hard flesh.

“Wh-wh-what?” Xander moaned as he lifted his hips and pushed his cock into William’s grip.

“I want a picture of you coming,” William said, nipping at his shoulder. “Slide down,” he instructed breathlessly.

“Oh, God,” Xander groaned as he slid down so William’s hand could slide deeper into his boxers. He dropped his head back onto William’s shoulder as William worked him towards orgasm. “Will...”

“It’s okay, baby,” William soothed, licking his neck while his fingers tweaked a nipple and pulled on his shaft. “I’ve got you. Yeah, I’ve got you. Gonna make you come. Wanna come, Xan?”

“Yes, please, oh, Will, yes,” Xander babbled. “So close, so close.”

“Push the button,” William told him.

“Huh?” Xander asked, unable to process what William was talking about.

“Push the button for the pictures,” William said.

“You’re kidding, right?” Xander asked.

William laughed softly. “No. If we don’t get a picture now, we’ll have to do it again,” he said.

“And that’s bad because?” Xander asked, and then gasped as William squeezed his balls.

“The button,” he said. “Use your foot.”

It took Xander three tries to hit the button with his foot, and William took the opportunity to shove his hand further into Xander’s boxers, teasing the hard strip of flesh behind his balls, and then circling his pucker. Xander grunted, and pushed back against William, using the foot still braced on the console for leverage.

“William,” he rasped. “God, Will.” Xander pushed down, pressing himself against William’s finger until it popped into his dry hole. The camera caught Xander’s expression of wonder. He panted as William dropped his other hand from his nipples and resumed pulling on his cock. He rubbed his thumb over the tip and pressed his nail into the slit. Xander’s mouth fell open in a wordless keen, and the camera flashed.

William sucked on the base of his neck, hard enough to leave a mark, gripped his shaft tightly, and pumped. Xander’s back arched as his balls tightened, his body stiffening, and the camera flashed. William pressed his hips into him, and he felt his lover’s cock twitch. The tendons in his neck corded as his own orgasm ripped through him. His cock pulsing in William’s hand, Xander turned his face into William’s neck and bit him to keep from screaming. The camera flashed.

Definitions taken from The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition, and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, found at Bartleby.com.





Part Twenty

The two men took the opportunity to catch their breath while they waited for the pictures to develop. William raised Xander’s face and kissed him; Xander lifted his body and tried to crawl into William’s mouth. God, he loved this man, he thought, when he was once again capable of thought.

With pictures in hand, and Xander’s pants re-fastened, they repaired to the men’s room to clean up, both men having to dispose of their soiled boxers since neither had anywhere to carry them. Xander was glad he hadn’t worn his favorite Snoopy™ boxers that day, because no way would he have parted with those.

Feeling better than they had before and during lunch with Wesley, Xander walked William - who kept pulling the pictures out and looking at them, much to his embarrassment - to Prologue, leaving him only after obtaining a promise not to show anyone else the pictures. William smiled The Smile, and Xander’s knees melted. At that moment he would have let William do anything he wanted with the pictures. Luckily, he promised not to show anyone.

After work, Xander and William shared a beer with Molly and Paulie, and then he called the diner and placed an order to-go. He didn’t want to sit in the diner for even the short time it would take to eat, he just wanted to be able to cuddle up next to William on the couch in their apartment. Hand-in-hand, they walked to the diner and picked up their meal, then splurged on a taxi to take them home so the food would still be warm.

Xander set up the food on the coffee table while William went to the kitchen for drinks, napkins, and utensils. The walk to the diner had been quiet - a comfortable silence, as had the taxi ride home. The two men just held hands and leaned against each other, at ease with themselves. When William returned to the living room, Xander pulled him down beside him on the couch and kissed him while his hands were still full and he was unable to get them on Xander. He moaned in frustration. Xander smiled against his lips as he slowly pulled back.

“I love you,” he said.

“Love you, too,” William replied breathlessly.

“Eat?” Xander said.

“Yeah,” William agreed, setting his burden on the coffee table. “I’m starvin’. Didn’t eat much lunch,” he admitted, reaching for one of Xander’s fries.

“Me neither,” Xander said, taking William’s hand in his and licking the salt and grease off his fingers, then let go and picked up his cheeseburger. Burger and fries, Xander thought. Comfort food.

William whimpered. “Xan!”

Xander grinned around a mouthful of burger. “I thought you were hungry?”

“I am,” William said with a pout. “Tease,” he complained, as he reached for his own burger, slathered with cheese and loaded with bacon.

Xander flicked on the television and flipped through a couple channels before settling on one that was showing an old black and white movie which the two men watched while they ate. When they were done eating, they snuggled together and watched the rest of the movie, and then cleaned up the detritus from their meal. They took turns in the bathroom, and then turned the lights off and went out to the balcony.

Xander lowered himself onto the lounge and pulled William down between his legs. With his feet flat on the seat, Xander pressed his legs tight against William, and wrapped his arms around him, cocooning him in warmth and love. “Love you,” he said again. He could never say it enough. Whenever he looked at William, it was as if his heart was going to explode with the feelings of love, both tender and heated, that filled him.

“Love you, too,” William said, as he relaxed into Xander’s hold. They sat in companionable silence, looking up into the sky. It was nearly impossible to see the stars, with all the city lights, but they liked to try. Xander remembered sleeping outside in Sunnydale, before he knew that monsters were real, and looking up at the stars. He wished he and William could see the stars.

Soon, William’s breathing evened out, and Xander realized that he’d fallen asleep. He brushed his lover’s hair off his forehead, running his fingers through the silken locks. He loved the feel of William’s hair on his skin. He lowered his face and pressed his lips to the top of William’s head, and with one arm around the other man’s chest, the other hand buried in his hair, Xander fell asleep.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander woke to William whimpering and thrashing in his sleep. His usual grogginess evaporated almost immediately, and he tightened his grip on William. “I’ve got you, William,” he whispered against soft brown curls. “You’re safe. It’s just a nightmare. Wake up now, love, I’ve got you.”

William sucked in a deep breath and shuddered in Xander’s arms. He’d turned in his sleep, and now buried his face into Xander’s chest as he closed his fingers convulsively in his shirt. Xander kissed the top of his head and rubbed his back soothingly.

“You all right?” Xander asked, when William’s breathing evened out and his body stopped shaking.

William nodded his head without speaking.

“Wanna talk about it?” Xander asked, letting his hands continue their calming motion over William’s back.

William shook his head ‘no’, and then said, “I don’t really remember anything...not even images...just...sensations. I was hot. So hot. I felt like I was burning.”

Xander froze. “Burning?” he repeated.

William nodded.

“Like from...a fever?” he asked.

“Nooo,” William said thoughtfully, shaking his head.

“Sunburn?” Xander asked hopefully.

“No, I don’t think so. Don’t really remember what a sunburn feels like, though,” William said.

“Fire?” he asked cautiously.

“I...” William hesitated as he thought. “Fire,” he finally said. “Yes, it felt like I was burning up. How would I know how it felt to burn?” he asked, puzzled. “I tried to scream. I think I did scream, but I couldn’t hear it.” He pushed himself off Xander’s chest and looked into his face. “What is it?” he asked.

Xander couldn’t lie to William, even if he wanted to, which he didn’t. He took a deep, fortifying breath. “I think it was...a memory. Maybe,” he said.

“A memory?” William’s brow furrowed, and Xander had the urge to reach up and smooth it. He squelched the temptation and let William work through the meaning behind those seemingly innocuous words.

William finally turned his gaze onto Xander. “How did Spike die?” he asked.

Xander reached for William’s hand. “Saving the world,” he said, his thumb rubbing William’s back. The other man gave him an exasperated look. “I know,” Xander said. “That’s not what you meant, but I can’t emphasize that enough. Spike died...sunlight.” He sighed. “Spike burned. To ash, we presumed.”

William was silent. He slowly lowered himself back against Xander’s chest. “Do you really think it’s a memory?” he asked, playing with Xander’s fingers.

Xander ran his fingers into William’s hair, pressing his lover’s, his love’s, head against his chest. “It could be,” he said. “Especially after the emotionally trying day you’ve had. Perhaps it...knocked something loose,” he suggested.

“Do you think he suffered?” William asked.

Xander hesitated before responding. “I imagine he did,” he said softly.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander shivered, partly at the thought that William had dreamt about burning to death, and partly because the early morning air had turned chilly. “Come on,” he urged, nudging William. “Let’s go inside, it’s kinda cold out here.”

“Okay,” William agreed, subdued. He pushed to his feet and shuffled listlessly to the sliding glass door. Xander stood and followed him into the apartment.

“I’m just going to get some water,” Xander said, as he shut and locked the door. “I’ll be right in.”

“Okay,” William replied.

Xander watched him walk into the bedroom, head bowed, shoulders slumped. He ran his fingers through his hair and turned towards the kitchen. He quickly drank a glass of water, and then stood leaning against the sink, trying to gather himself before he joined William in the bedroom. He refilled the glass, took a deep breath, and then went to his lover.

William was sitting on the side of the bed, staring at the floor, his hands clasped together, fingers moving nervously. Xander set the glass on the bedside table and knelt in front of William. He placed his hands on William’s knees.

“Will,” he called softly.

“Mmm?” William responded, and then raised troubled eyes to look into Xander’s one.

Xander squeezed his legs, and rubbed his hands up and down them comfortingly. “Talk to me,” he urged.

William placed his hands on top of Xander’s. “If that was a memory,” he said, “I don’t think I want to remember. I don’t want to remember burning to death.” His voice broke.

Xander didn’t know what to say. He’d been so worried about how William regaining his - Spike’s - memories would affect him, he hadn’t given enough thought to how they might affect William. Sure, he’d realized that William might be upset by memories of being a vampire, and had tried to prepare him for it by talking a bit about Spike, but he’d also remember his first and final deaths, both of which had been traumatizing.

“Will, I don’t...I don’t know what I can do. I’ll do anything I can for you. If I could keep you from remembering the bad things, the painful things, I would.” Xander slipped his hands from under William’s and around the other man’s back, then moved in closer to him and rested his head against William’s abdomen. “Anything you need,” he offered.

William slowly slid his hands around Xander’s shoulders and lowered his head, resting it atop Xander’s. “Hold me,” he rasped.

“I will,” Xander promised, tightening his hold. “Always.”

“Will you always love me?” William asked uncertainly, though Xander said it often.

“Yes. Oh, yes,” Xander said. He shifted his head until his lips brushed William’s. “I love you, Will. So much.” His tongue slid over William’s lips, and they parted to him. “I will always love you. I will always be there for you. Always,” he promised.

Xander ran his hands up William’s back as his tongue slipped between his lips. William moaned as Xander gently mapped his mouth. William desperately tried to deepen the kiss, but Xander wouldn’t let him. It seemed as if they were always wild and hurried around each other, and he wanted this to be sweet...and slow.

His fingers moved into William’s hair and he cupped the back of his head as he continued to taste him - the flavor of his mouth, of his moans. He’d never realized that sounds had a taste, but William’s moan ghosting over his tongue before it vibrated through his body and settled in his groin tasted like honey.

He pulled back before he could deepen the kiss, sucking in a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. He brushed his lips over William’s jaw. “Love you,” he whispered in his ear, and then kissed his way down his lover’s neck. William shivered.

Xander slowly unbuttoned William’s shirt, kissing each bit of his throat and chest as it was bared. He pushed the shirt off William’s shoulders, kissing the soft flesh along his shoulder and down his chest as it was revealed. He flicked his tongue over one nipple, and then the other, his fingers nimbly unbuttoning the rest of William’s shirt, pulling it out of his pants and pushing it off his arms as his lips moved over his abdomen.

As soon as his hands were freed, William dug his fingers into Xander’s scalp, groaning as Xander licked and sucked on his navel. “Xander,” he hissed, trying to push Xander’s head lower, but Xander wasn’t to be rushed.

He moved his attention to William’s ticklish sides while his hands were busy unbuttoning and unzipping William’s pants. The other man eagerly lifted his hips so Xander could remove his pants, his lips and tongue following their progress down William’s body. Xander allowed himself a smile as he remembered the fate of William’s, and his own, boxers.

When the pants were around his ankles, and William was whimpering in frustration, Xander raised his head from William’s body and took off the other man’s shoes and socks, then pulled his pants off. Once William was naked, Xander straightened and slowly unbuttoned his own shirt, sliding it off his shoulders and down his arms in what he hoped was a seductive move. If William’s moans were any indication, he was right.

The shirt joined the growing pile of clothes, and Xander began on his pants, toeing his shoes off as he pushed the pants over his hips and down his legs, letting them pool at his feet, and then kicking them off. Naked, he allowed his eye to run over William’s flushed body. His lover held his hands out for him. With a smile, Xander ignored him and picked up a foot.

He kissed his way from William’s foot to his hip, and then nuzzled the soft skin there, disregarding William’s hard flesh, insistent hands, and plaintive mewling.

“Xander, please!” the other man finally exploded with need.

In response, Xander climbed onto the bed, gently pushing William onto his back, and moved up his body, licking, sucking, nipping, until he reached his mouth. “Love you,” he whispered, before claiming William’s lips.

William’s hands behind his head and on his shoulder pulled Xander closer, lips, teeth, and tongue clashing as naked flesh moved upon naked flesh. “Need you, Xander,” William gasped when Xander pulled away so they could catch their breath. “Need you.”

“You’ve got me,” Xander swore.

“In me, please. Need you in me,” William begged.

“I’ll be in you,” Xander said, quickly rolling off William and reaching for the tube of lube.

With a shaking hand, he squeezed the lube onto his fingers and reached between William’s thighs as the other man eagerly spread his legs. Xander circled the pucker, coating it with cream, and then pressed in with one finger. William moaned as Xander breached him.

Xander twisted his finger to coat the passage with lubricant, and then withdrew it, replacing it with two. William’s fingers clutched at him as he pushed down against his hand.

“Yes, Xander, yes!” William panted.

“Like that, Will?” Xander asked huskily, gently stretching him, and then reaching for his prostate.

“Ye-es!” William’s voice went up as Xander’s fingers brushed the nub. “Xander, oh, God!”

Xander touched him again, and again, and then stretched him with three while William babbled his approval of Xander’s methods and writhed on his fingers. He watched William’s face as he pleasured his lover. It was filled with desire and wonder, with no fear to be seen.

He reached for William’s gland once more before carefully removing his fingers and stretching for the foil wrapper. He used his teeth to tear the packet open and hastily covered himself. He squeezed more lube into his hand and hurriedly slathered it over his cock. He was so hard and hot for William; he was always hard and hot for William.

With William’s hands urging him on, Xander climbed between his legs. William pulled his legs back, and Xander positioned his cockhead at his lover’s puckered entrance. His good eye locked on William’s, his hands gripping slim hips, Xander pushed until his head popped past the ring of muscle. He paused to enjoy the grip of William’s tight passage on his cock.

At William’s groan, Xander slowly pressed all the way in. He shuddered as William’s body closed around him. “You feel so good,” Xander said, his eyes shut as he allowed the sensation of being buried deeply inside William to fill him.

“Xander...Xander, please,” William pleaded, moving his hips.

Xander lowered himself over William, holding himself up on his elbows as he kissed him. William wrapped his arms and legs around him, returning his kiss and lifting his hips impatiently. Xander began to slowly pump his hips as he kissed William, savoring both the flavor and feel of the other man.

“Xander,” William practically whined his distress.

Xander buried his face in William’s neck, sucking on the tender flesh as he sped up the movement of his hips.

“Yes,” William breathed his approval.

“Tell me what you want, William,” Xander rasped in his ear.

“More!” William cried, wriggling beneath him.

“More what?” he asked, nipping an earlobe.

“More you!” William exclaimed. “Faster, harder, please, Xander, fuck me!”

“Love you,” Xander said, twisting his hips teasingly.

“Love me bloody faster!” William demanded.

Xander grinned to himself, pleased that William was no longer worried, despondent over his dream and what it could mean, and then, since he’d asked so nicely, loved him faster, until William was keening, his nails digging into Xander’s back as his body stiffened and bowed, his release exploding between them. The look on William’s face, and the grip of his internal muscles on Xander’s cock, pushed him over the edge. With a roar, he joined his lover in oblivion.


~*~*~*~*~


Later, lying in bed with William in his arms, Xander closed his eyes and let himself relax. “Love you,” he whispered softly to his sleeping lover.

“Love you, too,” William mumbled sleepily, surprising Xander. “Need you.” William snuggled deeper into Xander’s arms.

“You have me,” Xander assured him, brushing a curling lock of hair off his forehead. “You’ll always have me.”





Part Twenty-One

When he cracked his eye open the next day, the sky was dark and forbidding, a perfect complement, he thought, to the somber tones of Wesley’s revelations the previous day, and to William’s nightmare the night before. Xander felt a chill and reached for his lover, coming suddenly and completely awake when he realized he was alone in the king-size bed. With jerky movements, Xander threw the blankets off and fumbled for his patch, putting it on as he climbed to his feet.

The air and floor boards were cool against his sleep-heated skin, and he shivered, snatching up the comforter and wrapping it around his naked shoulders as he padded on bare feet out of the bedroom and into the living room. William was sitting on the couch, naked except for the chain around his neck, crouching hunched over in a corner, staring at nothing.

“Hey,” Xander greeted him softly so as not to startle him, capturing the other man’s attention. William looked up at him, but didn’t speak. “You all right?” he asked, as he seated himself at the other end of the couch. William shrugged. Xander opened his arms, spreading the comforter out. “C’mere,” he said, and William dove into his warm embrace.

“Holy...fuck,” Xander grunted through gritted teeth, shivering again as William’s cold limbs wrapped around him, cold chest pressed into his, cold face buried in his neck. He pulled the comforter back around them and held William close, knowing - hoping - the other man just needed the comfort of touch, and would talk to him when he was ready.

After a couple minutes, William whispered, “You’re so warm,” as he snuggled closer to Xander.

“And you’re cold,” Xander whispered back, readjusting his grip around the slender man after he’d once more settled against him.

William’s breaths evened out, and his body grew heavy as he relaxed into him. Xander kissed the top of his tousled head and rubbed his back even after he was sure William had fallen asleep. He sighed, then rested his head back on the couch and closed his eye. He woke when William shifted in their cocoon.

“What time is it?” William mumbled into his neck.

Xander turned his head enough to see the clock. “One-thirty,” he croaked.

“We need to get up,” William said, making a move to try and disentangle himself from Xander and the comforter.

Xander refused to let go of him. “First, tell me why you were sitting out here alone, freezing.”

“Couldn’t sleep,” William said. It wasn’t a lie, but Xander could tell it wasn’t the whole truth, either.

“Another dream?” he asked.

William shook his head without lifting his face out of Xander’s neck.

Xander’s breath caught in his throat. “Same dream?” he asked softly.

At first, William didn’t respond, and then he nodded, his silken curls tickling Xander’s skin. He didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing, just tightened his grip on the other man. “I love you,” he whispered, dropping a tender kiss on his lover’s head.

“I know,” William whispered back. “Love you, too.”

“I know,” Xander replied with a smile and another kiss.

“I could stay here all day,” William sighed, running one hand over Xander’s chest.

“Then let’s,” Xander concurred.

“Can’t,” William said sorrowfully, as his hand strayed lower.

“Why not?” Xander gasped in anticipation, shifting on the couch to spread his thighs for William’s wandering hand.

“Have ta meet Gunn at three,” William reminded him, his fingers closing around Xander’s stiffening flesh.

Xander groaned, a combination of pleasure and keen dismay. They were to meet Gunn for their weekly training session. At the Hyperion. Where Angel resided. The dull, grey day was more appropriate than he’d originally realized. A sudden, sharp tug on his balls pulled his attention back to the hard, naked man pressed against him, and he groaned again.

“We have time for this?” he asked breathlessly, tilting his head, opening his neck to William’s questing mouth.

“We always have time for this.” William’s husky whisper tickled his ear as he moved to straddle Xander’s lap and brought their groins together, his cock sliding easily into the hollow of William’s hip. He grabbed William’s ass, squeezing and kneading firm buttocks as the other man rubbed against him. He slid down on the couch while William undulated over him, their cocks gliding smoothly along one another. He sucked in a deep breath as desire pooled deep in his belly, and arched into the other man.

Xander slipped a finger between William’s buttocks, teasingly circling his pucker, and the other man rumbled deep in his throat as his hips sped up. His breaths came in pants, the puffs of air tickling Xander’s neck and ear as he twisted and writhed over him, pressing their cocks, now slick with sweat and leaking pre-come, together. Xander pushed the tip of his finger into William, and the other man keened, his hips moving frantically as if to dislodge the intruder, or persuade it deeper.

With one arm, Xander threw the comforter off them, allowing the cooler air of the apartment to bathe their heated bodies. He cried out and drove his finger deeper as William reached between them and curled his fingers around both their shafts, pulling at them even as they continued to slide together. He grabbed a fistful of William’s hair with his free hand and pulled the other man’s lips to his.

He ferociously sucked and bit William’s lips, then shoved his tongue between the swollen flesh, swallowing the other man’s grunts of exertion and passion as he brought them closer and closer to completion. With a loud keen, William jerked his head back.

“X-X-Xander,” he groaned and bit his lip as his body stiffened, and then he was coming, his cock pulsing against Xander’s, shooting thick, warm fluid between them. Xander watched his lover find his release, and felt the easy glide of William’s come-slicked hand over his still-hard penis. Despite his body’s tumble into lethargy, William released his softening flesh and wrapped his fingers around Xander’s slippery shaft, pulling and squeezing until Xander removed his finger from William and cried out his own release.

Breathless, the two men lay on the couch joined by William’s hand on Xander, and the sweat and come sticking them together. Xander let his mind drift towards a shower, and then toyed with the idea of skipping the shower, and spreading his come over William, rubbing it into the other man’s skin until he reeked of Xander. He imagined Angel’s face when he smelled his claim on William, then snorted a little laugh at his own foolishness.

“What’s so funny?” William grumbled from his position sprawled atop Xander.

“I...nothing,” Xander said. William raised his head and looked at him in disbelief. “Just something stupid,” he said.

“Share,” William demanded, dropping his head back down onto Xander’s chest.

“I just...you’ll think I’m an idiot,” he said. He could just imagine William’s response to his preposterous insecurities.

“Won’t,” William said with a nudge.

“I...” Xander swallowed nervously. “I wanted to rub my come into you and not wash it off, so, uh, so Angel would smell me on you,” he admitted anxiously.

William lifted his head and stared into his eye. “Marking your territory?” he asked, his voice flat, even, eyes unfathomable.

Xander bit his lip and looked away. “I know, stupid,” he said.

“Am I a possession, Xander?” William asked, sliding up his body until his lips were near his ear. “Do you own me?” he purred.

“No.” Xander shivered, feeling ridiculous.

William flicked his tongue along Xander’s ear. “Am I yours, Xander?” he asked, and then bit down. “Do I belong to you?”

“Ahh, yes,” Xander groaned as William brushed their lips together.

William sat back on his heels. With his eyes locked on Xander’s, he scooped their combined release off his stomach and wiped it onto his chest, then reached for Xander’s hands and placed them on his pecs. Xander was breathing hard. He clenched his fingers, and then began to spread the cooling fluid over William’s chest, rubbing it into his skin. William closed his eyes and threw his head back.

Xander moaned, and scooped up more, spreading it over the other man’s shoulders and neck, then placed his finger at William’s lips. William parted them, and his tongue darted out to taste Xander’s finger before sucking it into his mouth and laving it clean. Xander groaned, then moved quickly, dumping William onto his back on the couch as he arranged himself over him. He latched onto a nipple, licking and sucking it, the taste of their mixed essence coating his tongue, permeating his senses.

Xander worked his way down his lover’s body, loving the way they tasted together off William’s skin, until he took William’s slowly reviving penis into his mouth. He felt it respond to his touch, swell in his mouth. Dropping it, he moved further down his body and took William’s balls, one at a time, into his mouth, rolling them around, tasting them, cleaning them.

William’s come-coated fingers tangled in Xander’s hair and guided him back to his stiffening penis. “Please,” he gasped breathlessly. “Please, Xander,” he begged.

Xander had no intention of making him wait, and swallowed him, sucking his way down the lengthening shaft until it filled his mouth. He raised up, sucking hard as he went, and then sucked on the head. William whimpered and his fingers dug into Xander’s scalp. Xander lowered his head, letting his teeth graze William on the way down, his tongue pressing into the underside of his cock while he cupped his ball sac. William bucked into his mouth.

He pulled back again, and sucked on the head, poking his tongue into the slit, and then pressing it against the nerves bundled just below the ridge. Swooping down, he took William in as far as he could, until the tip of his cock brushed his throat and slid down it, and then swallowed. William screamed as his balls tightened in Xander’s hand, and then his cock twitched in Xander’s mouth as he spurted his load of come down his throat.

After gently sucking and licking him clean, Xander let William’s softening flesh fall from his mouth and slid back up his lover’s still-quivering body, pausing to lick a stripe along his sternum. William, chest heaving, reached for Xander.

“Let me do you,” he rasped.

Xander smiled up at him, and placed a tender kiss over his heart before sliding the rest of the way up and capturing his lips in a loving kiss. “Let’s go take a shower,” he said.


~*~*~*~*~


Three hours later, they were nearing the end of their workout. When they first arrived at the hotel, Gunn and Fred were in the training room. After greeting the other couple, the three men started stretching while Fred sat on one of the benches and watched them. Once they were warmed up, they each took a staff off the wall and started a round-robin spar; Gunn lashed out at Xander with the staff and he blocked the blow, turning it back and twisting to swing at William.

They were sweating, grunting with effort, and calling out tips to each other when Xander caught sight of Angel standing in the doorway. He fell silent and pulled back from the spar. Like a chain reaction, William saw his response and turned his head towards the doorway, and then Gunn.

“Hey, man!” Gunn greeted the dark vampire happily.

“Gunn,” Angel said, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his slacks. “Fred, Xander...William,” he greeted the others.

“Hi, Angel,” Fred chirped.

Xander coughed, his throat suddenly dry. “Angel,” he croaked, when he could finally speak.

William nodded his head slightly in greeting. “Angel.”

There was an awkward silence, broken by the sound of heels clacking down the stairs. Everyone turned toward the doorway. “There you are!” Cordy said, bursting into the training room. “Ready to go shopping?” she asked Fred.

“Sure am!” Fred replied excitedly, rising to her feet and nearly vibrating out of her skin.

“Hey, guys,” Cordy turned her attention to the three men huddled in the middle of the training room. She wrinkled her nose. “I hope none of you think you’re getting a hug from me.”

“What do you mean, Cordy?” Gunn asked innocently, spreading his arms wide and taking a step towards her.

“Don’t even think about it, buster,” Cordy said, standing her ground. “I know where your credit card is, and I know how to use it,” she threatened with an evil smirk.

Gunn froze, then looked at Fred. “Honey?”

“Sorry, Charles,” Fred said primly. “We girls...”

“Women,” Cordy corrected.

“We women have to stick together. I could use another pair of shoes, and maybe some leather boots,” she said to Cordy, who looked positively giddy at the thought of buying new footwear.

Gunn whimpered. “I thought you loved me, baby,” he whined piteously.

“Oh, I do, sweetie,” Fred assured him, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. “I’ll be sure to get something from Victoria’s Secret, just for you,” she promised.

Gunn perked up. “To go with those three-inch red heels?” he asked hopefully.

Cordy covered her ears. “Too much information!” she cried. “Let’s go, Fred,” she decreed. She skipped over to Angel, who still loomed just inside the doorway. Removing her hands from her ears, she cupped his face and pulled him down for a bone-melting kiss, then slipped past him with Fred scampering after her. “Play nice, boys,” she called back, and then they were alone in the sudden hush.

“Wow,” William muttered. “She’s like a...force of nature.”

“Freak of nature, more like,” Xander mumbled in reply, and then dodged William’s slap.

Gunn clapped his hands together gleefully - probably imagining the outfit Fred would bring home, Xander thought uncharitably - and then said, “Let’s get back to it, shall we? Gonna join us, Angel? You should see how well William’s doing.”

Xander just managed to stop himself from groaning aloud.

“I could use some training,” Angel said with a pitiful attempt at casual. “If that’s all right with everyone else.”

Xander looked up to see Angel staring right at him, waiting for permission to join them. “Sure,” he sighed. “The more the merrier.”

And that’s how he now found himself sitting on the bench, leaning back against the wall in exhaustion, a towel around his neck, a nearly-empty water bottle in his hand, his shoulder inches away from Angel’s as they watched Gunn going through some hand-to-hand moves with William.

They’d started with swords. Angel and Xander sparred together, since both he and Angel had plenty of experience sparring with Gunn, and very little sparring with each other. After swords, they moved on to hand-to-hand combat. Angel and Xander worked on attacks from his blind side which, combined with Angel’s superior strength and agility, took more out of Xander than his usual training with Gunn. When he lay on the mat for what he was sure was the millionth time, he called a halt to his battering.

William paused in his own spar to make sure Xander was all right, but Xander waved him to continue, then rolled to his knees. A hand appeared in front of his face and he raised his eye to see Angel offering him a hand up. Xander stared at him in shock for a moment before accepting it. Once on his feet, Xander staggered over to the bench and fell on it. Angel threw him a towel and bottle of water from his blind side; he managed to catch the towel, but the bottle caught him in the chest, and he attempted to glare at the vampire, but was too drained to manage it well.

They sat in an uncomfortable silence, watching William and Gunn train. “He’s good,” Angel said. “Quick learner. Gunn just showed him that move, and he’s got it down. Strong, too,” he added, as William took Gunn down to the mat.

“Wesley wants to run strength and endurance tests on William,” Xander found himself saying, to his complete surprise.

“I heard,” Angel said. “When I gave him a blood sample yesterday.”

Xander nodded. “Thanks,” he squeezed out of a suddenly tight throat. He was unexpectedly assailed by a barrage of strong emotion; fear and uncertainty over the results of the upcoming tests and their affects on William; jealousy of Angel’s relationship with Spike, and the relationship he might want with William.

“I love him,” Xander said softly, not taking his eye off the figures on the mat. “He is everything to me. I understand that you need to make up for your less-than-stellar relationship with Spike, and William needs all the friends he can get, so I won’t stand in the way of your getting to know William if that’s what he wants. I also appreciate what you’re doing to help us figure out what happened to him. But if you ever,” his voice hardened, “hurt him, or try to take him away from me,” he turned to look Angel in the eyes, “I will kill you.”

Angel stared back at him without flinching. “I won’t hurt him,” he said. “And I won’t try to come between you, because I can see how much he loves you. Besides, he’d kick my ass.” He turned his gaze back to the two men in the middle of the training room, and Xander did also, his heart pounding at Angel’s acknowledgment of William’s love for him.

William was staring at them, a bemused expression on his face. Xander allowed his features to soften, and grinned sheepishly at him. William just shook his head and said something to Gunn, who nodded his own head in agreement and turned towards the towels piled on a shelf. William stalked across the mat to the bench. He straddled Xander’s lap, acting as if he was totally unaware of anyone else’s presence in the room, and ran his fingers into Xander’s sweat-soaked hair. Tilting his head back, he kissed him, tentatively at first, and then more sure; his lips pressing harder, tongue delving deeper.

Xander moaned, and William pulled back, a cocky grin gracing his face. “What was that for?” he asked breathlessly, barely noticing that Angel had quickly vacated the bench, joining Gunn across the room.

“Mine,” William whispered, and then kissed him again.


~*~*~*~*~


The door to their apartment clicked shut behind them, and Xander leaned back against it. “Why did we agree to meet them for dinner?” he asked for the hundredth time.

“You agreed,” William reminded him. “‘Cause all your blood was in your dick.” He pulled his t-shirt off where he stood in the middle of the living room, and tossed it towards Xander.

“Oh, right,” Xander replied absently as he snagged the t-shirt out of the air, his eye caught on William’s hard chest.

The other man slipped his thumbs beneath the waistband of his sweats, and skimmed sweat pants and boxers down his legs, removing them along with sneakers and socks without losing his balance. Xander was impressed. So was little Xan. Although, little Xan’s state of impression might have had more to do with the sight of William standing naked in the living room, wearing nothing more than the cross Xander bought him, than the expert way he’d disrobed.

Xander’s heart started to pound, and his breaths became harsh as William stroked himself, one hand on the flesh lying in a nest of light brown curls, the other flat against his chest, a nipple peeking between his fingers. His eye drifted up to William’s, who was staring back at him knowingly, and then back down to the hands that were caressing flesh he wanted to touch.

“Shower?” William asked innocently.

“Sex?” Xander countered.

“Think we have time?” William asked teasingly.

“We always have time for this,” Xander replied, dropping William’s t-shirt to the floor as he stepped away from the door and pulled his own t-shirt off.




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