Summary: Graham meets some new people, learns a little history, and gets
closer to Xander. . . literally
Now, I don't
have nearly the kind of 'Spidey-sense' that Buffy does, but even I can tell
that there's something definitely off about this situation. This girl,
about Buffy's size, surrounded by piles of ash, her hand still wrapped tight
around a makeshift stake is staring at me like I'm a bug. . . or the main
She looks me up and down, not really in a lascivious way, just. . . sizing
me up, and. . . Why do I suddenly feel like running home and hiding under
my bed? She's just a girl. Okay, a girl who obviously knows about the nightlife
on the Hellmouth and was able to dispatch at least five vampires by herself,
but still. . . but nothing.
I can feel my body shifting, tensing, getting ready to move if I have to.
Fight or flight, whatever might be called for. I think she notices, cause
she backs off a little. That. . . predatory look she had disappears and
her body relaxes. Guess she doesn't think I?m much of a threat. For some
reason I don't think I'm much of a threat to her either.
Her eyes drift past my right shoulder to. . . oh, the crossbow. She crosses
her arms. "So, either you're part of an all new, after hours archery team,
or, you're friends with Buffy."
Huh. At least I don?t have to try to think up an excuse for the weapon.
. . actually, that after hours archery thing sounds kinda good. Should file
that away for future reference. "Kinda. I'm a friend of Riley, Buffy's boyfriend."
Is it my imagination, or did she just. . . flinch?
"You're a friend of Riley." She grimaces. "Perfect. I bet you're best
pals with Willow and Xander too."
"Well, yeah, Xander and I are. . ." How should I put this? "Pretty close."
"Of course you are." She lets out this sharp little laugh, and shakes her
head. She straightens up, throws her shoulders back and looks me right in
the eye. "I guess I should go ahead and get this over with. I'm Faith."
"Nice to meet you." I nod, for some reason not quite in the mood to put
my hand out to her. "I'm Graham."
She blinks a few times. "No. I'm *Faith*."
"Yes, I know. You just said that."
Her eyes narrow. "Don't you know who I am?"
"Uh," Is this a trick question? "You're. . . Faith?" Good. Go for the
"They didn't tell you about me." She said softly.
"Tell me what?" And, why do I really think I'm not going to like what I
"Nevermind. Look, you need to give Buffy a message. Tell her that something
attacked me in L.A. and Angel told me to come back here. He should be down
sometime tomorrow night. Tell her I'm staying at the mansion. She knows
where that is." She starts to walk past me.
"Wait." I reach out to grab her arm, but the look she throws me stops me
cold. No, this is not a person to mess with. "I know where Buffy is. In
fact, I'm headed there right now. Why don't you come with me?"
"No!" Her fists clench. I could still take her. . . right? "Just. . .
just do it. Okay?"
I hold my hands up. No, getting into anything aggressive with this girl
would *not* be a good idea. "Fine."
"Good." She turns and I could do the same, continue on home, but some part
of me really doesn't want to show her my back.
About twenty feet from me she stops. "One more thing." She looks over her
shoulder at me. "Tell Buffy I don't want to be here anymore than she wants
Wow. Something tells me the next few days are going to be just. . . fun!
I wonder if it's too late to put in for vacation time?
I haven't known Buffy that long, but I've never seen her this. . . subdued
before. You would think that having her *special* time with Riley interrupted,
again (which, by the way, I feel absolutely no guilt about whatsoever. Serves
them right for that time with me and Xander on the couch), would have had
her bouncing off the ceiling. Actually, that's what she did do, until I mentioned
Faith's name. All of a sudden, me pounding on the bedroom door became irrelevant.
Buffy sank down onto the bed, and Riley followed suit. He grasped her hand,
and looked beyond tense. They've been that way for the past few minutes,
Buffy staring at the carpet, Riley staring at her. This cannot be good.
"Is that all she said?" Buffy's looking at me now. "Just that something
attacked her in L.A., and Angel sent her here?"
"And, she didn't try anything with you?" She askes.
Try anything? I frown. "What do you mean?"
"Like, did she try and. . . hurt you, in any way?"
Hurt Me?! I shake my head.
"Okay." Buffy stands up, her hand still connected to Riley's. "I'm gonna
go check on Mom. Scooby meeting. Eight A.M. Giles' place. I'll call him,
and Willow, give them a heads up. Graham, can you contact Xander?"
"Good." She bends down and kisses Ri and, averting eyes time. "Everything
will be fine." I wish I knew who Buffy was trying to reassure with that statement.
Riley walks her to the door, then locks it behind her.
"Okay, I'm pretty much in the dark here, and I really don't like it." I
cross my arms over my chest. Ri may look bedraggled as hell, but he's gonna
give me some answers. Who's Faith? What did she do?"
He runs a hand through his hair, making it stick up even more then it did
before. "I don't know *everything*, but I know what she's done recently."
He lets out a deep sigh. "Faith's another Slayer."
Another Slayer? That doesn't fit in with the legend I'd heard. "But I
thought. . ."
"That there's only supposed to be one at a time? There usually is. One
Slayer dies and another is called." He snorts. "One hell of a system.
A couple years ago Buffy did die, but Xander brought her back, thank God."
Yeah, that sounds like my Xander. "Still, she was gone long enough for a
new Slayer to be called."
I nod. "Faith." Well, that certainly explains her propensity for killing
already dead things.
Ri frowns. "Actually, I think there was one before her, but, she's the
latest. She's also very. . . troubled."
"Troubled?" Is happy go lucky really asking that much? "As in, worried,
or upset, or. . ."
"As in, needs large doses of Thorazine."
Oh. "Oh. What did she do, Riley?" I ask softly.
"She killed some people, tried to kill a lot more, basically made everyone's
life a living hell."
There's more there. "And?"
He shakes his head. "It's nothing."
"Not buying it, Ri." I take a deep breath, put a hand on his shoulder.
"Look, if you don't want to tell me as a friend, that's okay. I get that.
But, as your teammate, I want to know just what kind of person we're gonna
be dealing with."
He stares at me, then ducks his head. "There was this thing, I suppose it
was some kind of magic something, that switched them. Faith ended up in
Buffy's body and I slept with her."
Oh man. No wonder he's so tense. Riley's middle name is chivalrous. He's
the type of guy that doesn't even check out other women. I can't even imagine
how bad he must have felt when he found out he had cheated on his girlfriend
with his. . . girlfriend. Okay, that should freak me out more then it is,
right? I've spent way too much time in Sunnydale.
"I mean, logically, I know that there was no way I could have known what
had happened, but the illogical part of me still thinks I should have been
able to tell the difference." He grimaced. "I don't even want to think about
what Buffy must feel about it. It would be so easy for the whole thing to
just blow up in our faces." He rolls his eyes. "Geez, and I thought it
was bad when Buffy's ex came to town."
Oh, yeah. Oops. "Um, Ri, heh, there was something else that Faith said
that I had forgotten until now, and thanks for helping me remember."
He looks a little frantic. "What is it? Is it bad?"
"Well, depending on your point of view, and for you, yeah, probably." Ri's
giving me this 'get the hell on with it' look. "Buffy's ex is coming town."
He blinks. "What."
"Angel. Faith said he's coming in tomorrow night." I shrug. Well, what
else can I do? "Sorry."
"Oh." He blinks again. "Funny, I can't decide if I?m gonna need chocolate,
Something tells me we might want to stock up on both.
"I cannot believe we're actually entertaining the idea of helping *Faith*"
Wow, I've never heard Willow sound so pissed before. I'm gonna go out on
a limb here, and say the second slayer isn't on her holiday shopping list.
"Hello, she's bad, remember?"
"I'm not exactly jumping for joy here either, Will." Buffy squeezes Riley's
hand. They've been practically joined at the hip ever since we got to Giles'.
"But we have to accept that things have changed. Angel thinks she's worth
saving and he has just as much reason to hate her as the rest of us do."
I glance at Giles. He's been on the phone to L.A. trying to get a handle
on what really happened down there. It would be easier to just go ask Faith,
but no one seems quite up for dealing with her right now
Tara's sitting beside Willow and looking uncomfortable as hell. I don't
know if it's because of all the Faith talk or the fact that her girlfriend
has been bitching for the past ten minutes. Come to think of it, everyone
looks uncomfortable. Except me, of course. I'm pretty sure I?m still wearing
my standard passive face.
Xan's being awfully quiet, and that's worrying me a little. Even in the
worst of times he's always managed to make some joke or comment. Sure, they're
not always funny jokes or comments, but it's the thought that counts. I
wonder. . . I wonder if he has any history with Faith? No one's mentioned
anything, but. . .
Giles hangs up the phone and all eyes immediately focus on him. "Evidently,
someone, or something, attacked the correctional facility where Faith was
being held. It killed at least twelve other inmates, the officials aren't
sure what the exact body count is yet." Oh, lovely. "She's lucky to have
escaped with her life. Angel did send her to us. He's convinced that her
soul can still be saved, but what he's more worried about right now is her
life, and yours, Buffy. If this thing targeted Faith because she's a slayer
then you might very well be next on it's list."
"So, he sends her here?" Riley does not look like the proverbial happy
"United front." Buffy says quietly.
"I still don't think we should trust her." Willow crosses her arms in front
of her chest. "She could have tricked Angel. We all know how gullible he
is about that whole 'Oh, my soul's in danger' thing."
"If she's out to hurt us again then why did she let Graham go?" Buffy asks.
"So he could give us the message, so. . ."
"No." Buffy shakes her head. "That's not her style. If Faith had wanted
to send us a message, she would have done it in blood."
Oh, that's nice to hear.
"Okay," Willow says after a moment. "Granted, that does sound more Faith-like,
but how exactly are we supposed to know if she's changed?"
"Graham was the last one of us to have contact with her." Giles turns to
me. "How did she seem to you?"
Buffy squints at me. "Does anyone else think it would be perversely interesting
to make him and Oz have a conversation together?"
I?m not sure, was that an insult?
Giles rubs his temples. "Quite."
I sigh. "Look, if you're asking me if she seemed overly homicidal, I'm
gonna have to say no. She seemed. . . angry, but that could have been from
fear or nerves. Is she evil? I don't know. But like Buffy pointed out,
if she wanted a kill then I don't think I would be standing here." I ignore
the startled looks. Yes, I can say more then one sentence at a time, thank
you very much.
"Do you think she's sane?" Giles asks.
I frown. "Isn't that really a relative term?"
Willow scowls. "Graham, I can't believe you of all people, are defending
her! I mean, after what she did to Xander."
I?m not exactly defending, and. . . What does she mean, what she did to
"That's not important." Xan?s voice is firm.
"Not important?!" Evidently, Willow disagrees with him there. "Oh, so
it's not important that she put her hands around your throat and squeezed
until she left bruises?" She did what?! "It's not important that if Angel
hadn?t shown up she would have killed you too? It's not important that she
"Willow, shut up!" I've never heard Xander raise his voice before. God,
Xander, what did she do to you? "Just, stop."
Willow blinks at him. She looks, yeah, I'm pretty sure that's disbelief
on her face. Buffy is staring at a spot on the wall, and Riley looks about
as shocked as I feel.
Xander closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. "Look, the way I see it
is, the sooner we take care of this thing that's after Faith, the sooner she
can leave." He opens his eyes and glances around the room at everyone. .
. except me. "Any arguments we have are just cutting into the research, slash,
kicking ass time."
"Agreed." Buffy looks towards Willow. "I don't like this any more then
you do, Will, but we're still going to help her." She shrugs. "That's what
Giles clears his throat. "Angel gave me a basic description of our opponent,
but for details I?m going to need to talk to Faith directly."
"I'll go with you." That was Buffy's 'don't even try to argue with me'
tone. For once I'm glad to hear it. No one should go near this girl alone.
Ri thinks for a moment. "I could go to Willy's, see if there's any news
on the demon underground?"
"Tara and I'll swing by the magic shop, stock up on stuff for standard protection
spells." Willow still doesn't look happy but at least she's helping, which
is more then I can say for me right about now.
I keep waiting for Xander to announce what he and I are going to do, but
he keeps quiet, and no one seems particularly anxious to ask him to do anything.
One by one everyone leaves until its just Riley standing at the door with
one eyebrow raised, silently asking if I want to go with him.
Cracking some skulls would certainly be fun, but. . .I shake my head, and
I need to be with Xander right now. It?s not about finding out that Xan
almost got killed. Hell, almost getting killed is a common occurrence in
this town. It's that there's something else. Willow started to say it and
that's when Xander went off. I want to know what happened to him, what else
Faith did. I don't know why, maybe I?m being selfish, but I still want to
Riley leaves and Xander gives me this strange look, then takes my hand and
tugs me towards the door. "Come on."
Maybe now would be a good time to find that pesky voice of mine again.
"Where are we going?"
Xander may not have gone to college but he's definitely captured that first
dorm room kinda vibe. Saying his decorating tastes are eclectic would be
a nicely put understatement. I'm on the pullout, which is currently in sofa
mode, and I'm feeling nervous as hell, which is really weird. Even though
I?m not gonna meet his parents, and God help them if I did, I've still got
this flip flop thing going in the pit of my stomach. I feel like I'm back
in high school. "Are you sure this is okay? I mean, me being here?"
"What?" Xan blinks at me, his mind obviously elsewhere. "Oh, yeah." His
eyes drift towards the door at the top of the stairs. "I don't really care
about them. Not anymore." He looks kind of nervous about something. "So,
that offer you made last night, does it still stand?"
Offer? What offer? Oh, *that* offer. "Yeah." Looking hopeful, but not.
. . too hopeful.
"Good." He grins. "Consider your couch officially claimed in the name
Okay, controlling facial expression, squelching urge to try my interpretation
of Xander's happy dance. This is good. This is really good. Xander's just
agreed to move in with me. Okay, so, that's not exactly what he agreed to,
but this is good. So, why's there a really annoying little voice in the back
of my head that keeps asking. . . "Why now?"
His eyes widen. "Why now, what?"
Very nice, pulling out the cutesy, innocent puppy act. Nope, not gonna work.
. . this time. "Xander." I love him, but if he's doing this for the wrong
reasons then. . . well, I'll still let him move in, I'll just be very miffed
for a little while. Yeah, that's it.
He sighs. "I guess it was too much to hope for that your giddiness over
my announcement would overshadow any remembrances of Willow's less than little
Let's get right to the point. "What else was Willow going to say? What
aren't you telling me?"
"Yep, too much to hope for." He sits down beside me, a defeated expression
on his face. Good, no more games, he's gonna tell me. "Hey, you haven't
exactly been Mr. Open with your romantic foibles, either, you know?"
Or, he could just joke about it some more. "Getting choked doesn't count
as a romantic foible." Unless. . . Oh, no. Oh, Xander.
"I never have been traditional." He flashes me a sad smile. "So, you want
to know what Willow was about to say? Fine. Faith used me. There, I can
admit it now. I was just another random body to her, then, when stuff really
started to go wrong, I tried to talk to her and she tried to kill me." He
shrugs. "I thought. . . I thought that we, I don't know, had something.
It was stupid. I was stupid. All we did was have sex, it's not like there
were violins, or harps, or even Barry White music. But, I guess. . . I guess
I wanted there to be. You know, that whole standard first time should be
perfect thing. Stupid."
"That's not stupid, Xan." He looks so miserable, so unhappy, and there?s
nothing I can do besides share the usual platitudes that he won?t believe
anyway. I want to hold him, to wrap my arms around him and convince him that
*Faith* was the idiot in that equation. She didn't care about what she could
have had with him and that's her loss.
His eyes have this faraway look to them. Maybe I shouldn't hug him. He
may not want to be touched right now. I need to do something though, something
to try and chase away those shadows from his face. What was that he had
said before? Well, it's worth a try. "When I was in second grade I put
a frog down the back of Suzie Marsh?s dress and she broke my nose."
"Okay. Wait, huh?" Xan looks at me like I'm crazy, which may not be such
a far off assessment.
I shrug. "Romantic foible."
God, Xander's laughter is truly a beautiful thing. I grin. I can't help
Still chortling, he wipes tears from the corners of his eyes. "Big commando-guy
got beat up by a regular old girl. Oh, that's kinda pathetic."
"Hey!" I try to look appropriately insulted which is kinda hard to do when
I'm grinning like an idiot. I made Xander laugh. Yay. "I'll have you
know, I was seven and very small for my age."
Xan lets out a few more snickers before he pulls himself back together.
"Thanks. I needed that." He shakes his head, a smile still on his lips.
"You're too good to me, Graham."
I grasp his chin, moving his face so I can look right into those caramel
colored eyes. "No, Xander. Everyone else hasn't been good enough."
He's got this look of wonder on his face. It's the same look he gets every
time I say something like that. It's like he really can't believe that he
deserves anything good in his life. "You really do love me, don't you?"
Only in that infinite kind of way. "Yeah."
He scoots a little closer to me, and then he. . . he. . . oh, okay, he's
climbed into my lap. Oh. My hands come up almost automatically, gripping
either side of his abdomen, feeling the muscles moving under his shirt. Right,
this is, um. . . breathe, Graham, and try not to make any squeaking noises.
Oh God, he's heavier then I'd thought, and warm, like a solid wall of pure
heat shif. . . "Emp." Don't Squeak!! . . . shifting against me. He smells
so. . . oh. . . good. And, if he wants any coherence left on my part, he
really needs to not move like *that* again. Hey, why did he stop moving?
I don't *want* to be coherent, dammit!
With a soft sigh and a softer smile, Xander finishes settling himself on
top of me. He puts his arms around my neck, letting his fingers move into
my hair, ghosting over that, oh yeah, that's a happy spot. He kisses my
forehead, then gently trails his lips down my nose. "I know, I'm not the
easiest person to get along with sometimes."
I start to protest, but he presses his mouth against mine. A firm, quick
kiss, and I get the idea. No talking.
"I don't know why you feel the way you do about me, Graham, and I'm done
trying to figure it out, cause, I'm thinking, maybe it doesn't need to be
figured out. Maybe, all I should do is accept it. Maybe, the only thing
I have to do is love you back."
You don't even have to do that. Just let me be with you. Oh, and isn't
that pitiful on a whole new level? But, you know what? I really don't care
that my internal dialogue can qualify as lyrics to cheesy pop ballads. Right
now, the only thing I care about is. . . leaning closer to me. Um. . .
Xan stops when his face is only about an inch from mine. His eyes are warm,
loving, and framed by those incredible lashes. "That's how. . . stuff like
this is supposed to be, isn't it? No. . . ulterior motives, or bad feelings,
or plans for mass homicide. Just you and me." He closes the small gap between
us, his lips press against mine. . . Okay, no more thinking, kissing back
Good Lord! Where the hell did he learn to do that?! No, no, not thinking.
No. He's pulling back. Damn oxygen issues.
"So. . . that's. . ." Xander's breathing hard. "So that's what love. .
. feels like."
Love. "Yeah." I reach up to stroke his hair. "That's what love feels
He nods. "I like it. I like you. I l -"
"You don't have to say. . ."
He gives me another one of those quick 'no talking' kisses. "I love you,
No, he didn't have to, but it's so nice that he did.
He smiles sheepishly. "Sorry it's taken me so long to really get the hang
of things, this being my first quasi-normal relationship, and all."
I smile back and gently nuzzle against his cheek. "It was worth the wait."
"Definitely." He kisses my forehead again. "Can you do something for me?"
"Anything." And I think I really mean that.
Xan's eyes twinkle that way that's just. . . so *him*. "Help me pack?"
The apartment Riley and I share isn't huge, but it's pretty good for a couple
of guys who are currently living off a government stipend. Ah, hush money
- your tax dollars at work.
The three of us should fit in here comfortably enough. Now, I just need
to break the news to Riley. I honestly don't think he'll put up a fuss.
Ri knows how much Xander means to me. Wait, scratch that. Riley knows that
Xander means a lot to me. I don't think anyone knows just how much, and
I'm pretty sure I'm included in that 'anyone'. I could analyze it, but I
seriously don't want to. True love, or two incredibly lucky people, who cares?
What's important is that we're happy.
Very happy, if the expression on Xander's face is any indication. It's like
this giant weight has been lifted from him ever since. . . ever since that
kiss in the basement. Ever since he realized, really realized, that I love
I?m watching as he takes everything in. His eyes are wide and there's the
softest smile on his lips. I wonder what he's thinking. Wonder if he's thinking
about us, about me, about -
"Where should I put my stuff?"
Or, he could be thinking about where he should put his stuff. "You can
put it by the couch. We'll find a permanent place for it later." Not that
there was much to find a place for. Xan had insisted on only taking the
stuff that he had paid for himself.
He sets everything down then looks around the room again. "This is gonna
be great. I don't know. . ." He takes a deep breath. "I don't know how
I can thank you."
Oh, Xander, you don?t have to thank me, not for this. "You don't need to
"But, there must be. . ." His mouth twists into a playful grin. "*Some
way* I can. . . repay you."
Oh. In that case. . . Yes, please. I reach out for him, but he quickly
"Eager much?" Xan laughs and there's this sparkle in his eyes that I swear
I hadn't seen before. Is he. . . teasing me? This could have interesting
possibilities. "There will be definite compensation going on later, but right
now I feel. . ." He grimaces. "Like I just moved out of my parents' basement.
You mind if I grab a shower?"
Hmm, he wants to get all clean before we get all dirty. Okay, majorly wishful
thinking, I know. "Of course not. You know where everything is, right?"
Xander nods and heads down the short hallway. A moment later I hear the
bathroom door shut.
Okay, what to do, what to do? I should probably check our weapon supplies,
make sure everything we scrounged from what was left of the base still works.
Yeah, that's a good idea. I'm not sure what we're going up against, so it
definitely won't hurt to be prepared. Sides, it'll give me something to
do while Xander's in the shower. . . in my shower. . . naked in my shower.
. . naked. . . naked Xander. . . in my shower. . . naked. . .
God, Graham, get a hold of yourself!! So, Xander's in my shower. . . naked.
Hey, isn't that how people normally take showers? It's no big deal. No
big deal, none at all, not in the least, naked Xander. . . uh oh.
Okay. . .
thinkpurethoughtsthinkpurethoughtsnakedxan. . . crap.
Oh, come on! I know I've had pure thoughts before, so where are they now?
That's easy. They're in the shower, with Xander, getting perverted like
everything else in my head.
No, no, no, I am *not* going to turn into a hormonal mess about this. So,
Xander's taking a shower right behind that door. Riley takes showers right
behind that door every day but. . . I don't want *Riley*. I want Xander.
I want to hold him, and kiss him, and touch. . . lick. . . suck. . . taste.
. . fuc - STOP! !
Um. . . grocery list! I'll make the grocery list. That sounds nice and
anti-hormonal. We need milk, and cheese, and cereal, and. . . and. . . Ah,
hell. Naked Xander.
I?m weak, and I accept that.
I can just imagine what he looks like, standing under the spray, water pelting
his body, rivulets cascading down over sculpted muscles, soap sliding over
skin making his body slick, slippery. . . I can imagine what he would feel
like, my fingers traveling over him, his chest, his hips, his -
Oh shit! "Riley!" Geez! Doesn't the guy know how to knock?! Oh yeah,
I'm calm, I'm cool, I wasn't in the middle of thinking about a naked, slippery
Xander. "What're you doing here?!" Okay, maybe calm and cool were overstatements.
Ri stands right inside the doorway and gives me the strangest look. "I
live here, Graham. Signed the lease and everything, remember?"
Oh, yeah. Right. I clear my throat. Changing subject time. "So, you
find out anything down at Willy's?"
Ri lets out a dejected sigh. "If the regulars know anything they're not
saying. Ran into Spike, though."
"He gonna help?"
"Well, he was. . ." Riley frowns. "Until I told him who the demon was
after. He laughed so hard he fell off his bar stool."
Now, that's a team player.
I guess coming up empty for info hit Ri kinda hard, cause he looks really
dejected as he heads for the couch. He stops short and cocks his head. "What's
with the bags?"
Oh, right. I should probably tell him about that. "Xander's gonna stay
His eyes widen. "What? I mean, oh. I mean. . . oh."
Not the reaction I was hoping for. "That is. . . okay with you, right?"
Ah, come on, Ri. We've faced down hordes of rampaging demons, freshman English,
the bathroom of a frat house. . . don't freak out on me now.
"No! I mean, yes, it's okay with me. I'm just a bit surprised, that's all.
I mean, I didn't think you two were having. . . that you were getting. .
. that you guys had become so serious."
Nice save. "We haven't, well, we have, just not in the sense that you're
thinking we have, and. . . Why exactly have you been thinking about that anyway?"
Uh oh. General rule: If you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the
Riley blushes. "I haven't been *thinking* about it. I've just been. .
"Thinking about it?"
"Only in an abstract kind of way." He blushes some more and I guess the
look on my face tells him he'd better elaborate. "It's just, these past few
weeks you've seemed so. . . happy. You know, content-like." He snorts.
"Not that you were ever a raging storm of emotions before. . ."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I'm the quietly stoic guy." I rolled my eyes.
Riley grins. "Well, lately, you've been the *happy* quietly stoic guy.
So, yeah, I'm okay with Xander staying here, and by here, I mean. . . well.
. . here, or there," He jerks his head in the direction of my room. "Or,
anywhere. . . as long as you give me fair warning before the anywheres so
I can know when to spend the night at Buffy's."
I grin back. . . and not just cause I'm thinking about the 'anywheres' thing.
"You know, for an anal retentive Momma's boy, you're pretty okay, Finn."
He sighs. "Well, at least you didn?t say anything involving corn." Knew
I forgot something. "Where is Xander, anyway?"
"He's in the shower." You know, all naked and everything. That last part
wasn't out loud was it?
"Shower, huh? So, I guess that explains the. . . you know." And, there's
"The, uh, state I found you in when I got home." He puts on this solemn
look. "Just promise me I'll never *actually* find you masturbating in the
"I-I wasn't. . . Look here, Iowa-boy. I -" I stop the rant before it can
even start. Riley's eyes are focused on something over my shoulder, or,
someone. Oh my God, Xander just heard me sputter! Oh my God, Xander just
heard Riley tell me not to masturbate in the living room!! I turn around.
Need to diffuse the situa. . . He's wearing a towel. He's just wearing a
towel. Uhn. . .
"Didn't mean to interrupt what sounds like a totally. . . scintillating conversation,
but," Xan smiles sheepishly and motions toward his bags. "I forgot to take
any clean clothes in with me, so. . ." He moves over to the couch and grabs
one of the packs. "I'll just. . ." He begins to go back in the direction
of the bathroom, but then stops and turns to me, a mischievous smirk on his
face. "Graham, I'll only be a few more minutes if you need to get in there,
you know, since the living room's off limits and everything."
Great. Just great. I suppose I should be glad that my boyfriend and my
roommate have found something to bond over, but for some reason, joy isn't
the emotion I'm feeling right now. Insolence, that should do nicely. "You
"Not yet," Xander's smirk dissolves into this sexy little smile. "But,
there *is* that whole. . . compensation thing that we talked about earlier."
I. . . uh. . . uh. . . uh. . .
Without another word Xander continues on to the bathroom, and I. . . am
really not appreciating the snickers coming from Riley's direction. "Shut
up." Gee, somehow, the whole breathless-like voice I?m currently in possession
of didn't quite give it the oomph I wanted.
Riley grins and lets out a little chuckle. "Something tells me I?m going
to be spending a lot of time over at Buffy's."
And, that could be good on so many different levels.
It took nearly all day but Giles finally figured out what demon we were going
to be dealing with. I have to admit, I'm still slightly awed by all this.
Every time I see Giles in action I'm reminded a little more of how completely
wrong we were at the Initiative. Oh, our goals were right. . . well, except
for that whole creating an army of hybrid monsters part. . . Anyway, it was
the execution that was so flawed. We had no real idea what we were doing,
what we were up against. That cost us. It cost us a lot.
No one's ever gonna accuse Rupert Giles of being uninformed though, not
when if comes to demony matters. He had to talk with Faith twice, but in
the end he was certain he had identified the attacker. We're going up against
something called a Poya demon, a female of the species to be exact. Turns
out Faith killed it's mate a while back, and the Missus tracked her down
for some good old fashioned revenge.
Part of me. . . part of me can't really blame it.
And, I'm commiserating with a blood thirsty demon. Wow, do I *really* not
want to think about that right now. Nope, not when I have so many other lovely
pressing concerns to deal with.
At least I now know what *real* tension feels like. Forget that crappy
life or death stuff.
Buffy, Angel, Riley, Faith, Xander, Giles, and me. . . something tells me
this mansion isn't big enough for the seven of us. I knew I should have tried
harder to convince Xan that the best place for him and me would be. . . oh,
anywhere but here. Willow and Tara bowed out of this little gathering, and
I think we should have too. Then again, I guess I can understand his reasons
for wanting to come. We've all got to face our demons. . .and for some of
us that's in a literal sense.
Faith looks pretty bad, not physically, but emotionally. It's her eyes.
They're so damn haunted and distrustful. She's like some beaten animal.
After a while abuse is all they expect from people. Melodramatic? Maybe.
But, as soon as we entered the mansion she was on her feet, tense, alert,
ready to run. In fact, I think if there wasn't a massive undead hand on her
shoulder, holding her in place, she would have bolted.
Speaking of the massive undead. . .
You know, coming into this situation I had absolutely no idea who Faith was,
but, Angel. . . I'd heard of him. Whoo boy, had I heard of him. And, since
my font of knowledge on all things soulfully vampiric was Riley. . . well,
let's just say my opinion is probably more then a little biased.
For all his commanding, leader-like abilities in the field, Ri's insecure
as hell about his relationship with Buffy. It doesn't matter that she *chose*
to be with him. I doesn't matter that Angel can't be with her anyway. Riley's
absolutely convinced that one night they'll be out on patrol, there'll be
a crescendo of haunting violins, Angel will appear and tell Buffy that everything
is right with the world and they can be together for eternity, she'll let
out a squeal of happiness, hop into his arms, and together they'll walk off
into the sunset.
Okay, maybe not the *sunset*.
The latest of many conversations Ri and I had on the subject happened just
a couple days ago, the morning after the whole second date fiasco - not to
be confused with the first date fiasco, or the pre-date, near death fiasco
- with Xander.
Riley was already sitting at the counter, eating his requisite bowl of Wheaties,
when I got to the kitchen. I'm a Cinnamon Toast Crunch man, myself, so I
fixed my own bowl , pulled up a stool, and snagged the comics section from
the daily paper. I should have known right then and there that something
was wrong when Ri didn't chide me for not bothering to read the front page.
For a few minutes we sat in relative silence, then he apologized again for
interrupting my Xander quality time the previous night.
I shrugged it off. "Don't worry about it. You didn't mean to get konked
on the head."
"No, but, you and Xander, you were. . . you were. . ." He faltered there,
almost comically, actually.
I tried my damnedest to suppress a grin. "The most common term would probably
be 'making out'. That doesn?t offend any straight sensibilities, does it?
I know how sensitive you people can get."
I don't think I had ever seen Riley turn that particular shade of red before.
He stammered a bit. It was kinda cute. . . in a Midwestern, gee golly gosh
sort of way.
I rolled my eyes. "Ri, man, you gotta lighten up. There's no reason for
you to be getting all embarrassed over it. Trust me, we were miles away from
NC17 land. We weren't even breaking the R barrier. It's not a big deal.
. . just don't make a habit out of it, 'kay?"
He relaxed a little as his blood once again began to flow to places other
then his cheeks and his ears. "I'll try *really* hard not to. Believe me."
He gave me one of those earnest looks he's so good at. "I'm glad things are
working out between the two of you."
That time I did grin at him. "Me too." I thwaped him on the arm. "Hey,
you and I getting all happy and relationship-like with civilians. . . who'da
thunk it, huh?"
He sighed. "Well, you got the relationship part right. Not too sure about
the happy, though."
"What the hell are you talking about?" I asked, even though I knew exactly
what the hell he was talking about. . . again. "You and Buffy are happy."
I know this for a fact. Either the two of them have got incredibly good
lungs, or we have really thin walls.
"Yeah, sure, for now." He had that frowny/pouty thing going on. "But. .
"But?" One day I've got to learn to stop encouraging him. If I played my
cards right, a dramatic pause could very easily turn into an end to a conversation.
"But, I keep thinking-" See, that's where he made his first mistake. Bad
Graham. "About him."
"Either you're coming out, or this is another Angel conversation." Got a
glare for that one.
"I just know that what Buffy and I have can't compete with what she and.
. . *him* had."
"Ri, the operative word there is *had*."
"Is it?" He shakes his head. "You don't get it, Graham. You've never seen
him, them, together. Buffy and Angel, they're like. . . the all time tragic
"Exactly." He gave me his 'huh?' face. I had actually been formulating this
counter argument for about a week, ever since that last time Riley felt compelled
to talk about the ex. "Ri, who the hell wants to have a *tragic* romance?
Love shouldn't be about pain. Okay, so maybe some masochists, or possibly
die hard Shakespeare fans might disagree with me on that one, but. . . relationships
should be about happiness, and trust, and. . ." Naked, wet Xanders. . .
Mind, get the hell out of that gutter, I'm in the middle of a flashback
Or, well, okay, I guess I'm done with the flashback.
Anyway, I fully admit that I had a preconceived notion about Angel. Angst,
death, angst, pain, more angst. . .Personally, I never saw the attraction,
until I. . . *saw* the attraction.
He's really got that whole tall, dark, woe is me thing working for him. .
. not that I go for guys like that. Uh. . . oh, good. Giles is talking
again. Should probably listen to that.
"As I was saying." He clears his throat. "The female of this species is-"
"More deadly then the male?" Buffy says with a grimace.
Giles glares at her. "I was going to say, vicious, and aggressive, but,
yes, that would work also." He looks at Angel. "Correct me if I'm wrong,
but don't these demons have a. . history with vampires?"
Angel frowns. "Not really a history, but they've always kept their distance.
A lot of demon races tend to be put off by vampire savagery." His gaze
drops to the ground
"So, this Whatsit doesn?' like vampires." Buffy flips her hair over her shoulder.
"We might be able to use that."
"We can definitely use that." Riley got his authority voice going. "From
what I understand, Faith'll be safe as long as she sticks with Angel, right?"
Giles nods. "Very probably. Yes."
"No." Faith' voice is firm.
Angel's frown deepens. "It's an option."
"Oh, what, being shackled to you for the rest of my natural life?" She snorts.
"You might get a whole shit load of penance points for it, but. . ." She
trails off. She almost looks like she's about to cry. . . or start whaling
Buffy puts her hands on her hips. "Look, we're trying to help here."
Faith mimics her stance. "Oh, is *that* what this is called?" The moment
of weakness is over, let the sarcasm resume.
"I'm sure we can work something out." Giles says, his eyes darting back
and forth between the two slayers.
"What if we set a trap?" Angel's face almost lights up at the prospect.
"We could use Faith as bait."
The bait rolls her eyes. "I bet you say that to all the girls."
"I'll have to keep a pretty good distance," Angel says, ignoring her. "But
someone else can go along. Buffy?"
He pats his coat pocket. "I've got my cell phone with me-"
"We've got two of them." I'm not sure if Buffy said that to go along with
his plan, or to try and show him up.
Angel nods. "The demon attacks Faith, you call it in, I come running. Between
the three of us it shouldn?t pose much of a threat. Any problems with that?"
"Yeah." Oh, Faith has a problem with something. Big surprise there. "I
don't want Buffy to be the one who goes out with me."
Angel sighs. I wonder if he's thinking about how easy it would be to just
give her to the demon. "And, who *exactly* would you like to accompany you?"
Huh, the dead guy's getting an attitude.
She raises her arm. "Him."
And she's pointing. . . right at. . . me.
"No way." That's the first thing Xander's said since we got here.
Faith gives him a strange look. Not hostile, just. . . questioning.
Buffy crosses her arms. "Leave Graham out of this."
Yeah, leave Graham out of this.
"What?" Faith shrugs. "I'm being practical here. Angel's automatically out
of the running. No offense to good ole Rupert, but I'd like someone a little
less ready to celebrate his half century mark." She smirks. "I don't think
Xander's up for another ride. I'm assuming the great Princess Buffy," She
does a mock curtsy. "Wants to stay as far away from me as possible. And,
well, I've already spent quality time with Riley, the amazing fuck toy."
I can't belive. . She just had to bring all that up, didn't she? Is it
like a compulsion with this girl? Does she actually think 'Let's see how
many people I can piss off in under five minutes?' Xander's entire body is
rigid. Riley has this awful mix of guilt and outrage on his face, and Buffy.
. . well, Buffy looks like she's getting ready to spill some blood.
"You skanky, whoring bitch!" Oh, hell. Buffy takes a step towards Faith,
but is intercepted by over six feet of annoyed vampire. She blinks up at
Angel. "Oh, of course. You're defending her again, aren?t you?" Again?
Know what, don't really need to know.
"Petty jealousies and fighting aren't going to accomplish anything." Angel
Buffy's eyes practically bug out. "Petty!?"
"Ouch!" Faith smirks at Riley. "That one had to hurt. Huh, Hayseed?"
This is ridiculous. Something has to be- There's a firm hand on my elbow.
It's Xander. He tugs on my arm then heads for the door. We're just supposed
to leave? Okay, Giles has already ducked out, and Ri actually looks like
he's about to jump into the fray. Maybe being anyplace else is a good idea.
I follow Xander outside and into a courtyard. It's completely overgrown
and there's this jungle like quality to it. It's a really nice night. The
air's warm and the crickets are drowning out the voices from inside. Still,
I have to say it. "Shouldn't we. . ." I motion back towards the house.
"What, get in the middle of a superpowered chick fight?" He snorts. "Thank
you, but I value my appendages."
"But Riley and Angel. . ."
"Are being idiots." Xan sighs. "Really, it would be so much faster if they'd
just whip them out and see whose is bigger." It would certainly be more
expedient. "This posturing shit reminds me way too much of high school."
He sinks down onto an old stone bench, one of the few things not taken over
by various vines. He looks up at me, his eyes wide. "You know you don't
have to do this. You don't have to do any of this."
I walk over and crouch down beside him, letting one of my hands rest on
his closest knee. "I know that, but. . . what she said makes sense." I am
the only one here without some kind of history with her. I don't like the
girl, but at least it's unlikely that she and I are gonna get into throwdown
in the middle of the street.
"A true first time for everything moment." Xan mutters. "Fine. If you want
to go, then go. Just. . . Look, Angel might think that Faith's back on our
side, but she's fooled him before. She's fooled us all before." He reaches
out and strokes my face. "Watch your back, and don't expect her to do it
I nod and lean into his touch.
"No heroics." His voice leaves no room for arguments. "No macho bullshit.
If this thing does show up, get your ass out of there, *then* call the calvary.
"No heroics. No macho bullshit." I repeat solemnly. "And, my ass will be
just fine, I promise."
I can see his mouth trying to twitch up into a smile. "Just so you understand
the severity of the situation I'm not even going to comment on that statement."
"I am awed by your self-restraint." I smile and give his leg a squeeze.
"Don't worry, Xan. We're gonna go out, demonic ass is gonna get kicked, and
then you and I are gonna go home and. . ." And. . . And. . .
He licks his lips. "And, what, exactly?"
Uh. . .
"That's a good question." Faith's purr takes us both by surprise. She's
standing by the door, her eyes fixed on us, a malicious smile curling her
lips. "Come on, soldier boy. Let's hear what ya got."
Sometimes. . . life. . . can. . . suck.
Course, I am a grown up. I've known that whole 'life's not fair' thing for
quite some time now. . . doesn't mean I like it. But, I deal, 'Cause that's
just what you have to do.
As much as it pains me to admit, given the circumstances, I was probably
the best suited person for this job. And, I'm. . . dealing. Rather well,
actually, you know, considering. I mean, I'm walking around in the middle
of the night, on the Hellmouth, trying to attract a demon with a supposedly
reformed psychopath by my side who's quizzing me nonstop, and in the rudest
way possible, about my relationship with Xander.
"So, does he give good head? I bet he gives good head. That mouth of his
just has to be useful for something, right?"
I know she's just trying to get to me. Don't know why. Don't care. Not
gonna let her. I joined the Marines the day after my eighteenth birthday.
I've spent the last four years of my life with men that basically defined
the word crude. I can deal with little Miss Issues' mouth, no problem.
"You know, I gotta admit," Faith shakes her head. "Red goin' all sapphic
was a bit of a shock. Then again, maybe she just got tired of Dogboy humping
her leg." Dogboy? Gonna have to ask Xan about that. "But Xander, well, I
always knew he'd end up on his knees."
She wants a reaction. Craves it. And, I refuse to give her the satisfaction
of getting a rise out of me. I am non-rising Graham. I am dealing.
"What does he sound like when he's with you? 'Cause, when I took him he only
made these sort of soft moans, all breathy like, ya know? But, then again,
I wasn't pounding into his ass, was I?"
No, no, this is me dealing.
"How about it, Graham? You look like a tough guy. You make him scream?
Or. . . maybe. . . beg? Is that it? Does he beg for it, Graham?
I mean, he's already on his hands and knees, right? Might as well beg while
he's down there."
Know what? Fuck dealing.
"Faith, sometimes shit can happen, and, in the grand cosmic scheme of things
you might end up playing for the wrong side. I understand that, maybe more
then you know." Whoo boy, she's not liking this. "I also understand second
chances. And, you know, if the circumstances were different I'd maybe even
like you. But, they're not, and this is neither the time nor the place, so
quit with the baiting before your desperate plea for attention distracts us
so much we both end up dead."
Her eyes narrow, and I've got that bug about to be dissected feeling happening
again. But, I got her to shut up about Xander, so, yay me.
"Do you know how easily I could kill you right now?" She sneers.
I smirk, can't help it. "Oh, you could kill me, but trust me when I say,
it definitely wouldn't be easy." Maintain eye contact. Don't give her an
inch. I may not have that special drug cocktail pumping through my veins
anymore, and, yeah, I probably wouldn't last one round, but I'm not about
to just roll over and play dead.
Faith opens her mouth, suddenly her body tenses. She cocks her head to
the side, her eyes quickly scanning the darkened street. I follow suit, ears
straining. I can feel it now too. There's something out-
"MOVE!" Faith pushes me away from her. I catch sight of something hurtling
towards her before I hit the ground.
I look up and. . .Oh, Jesus. It's. . .
I pull out the phone, punch the speed dial."?Corner of Prescott and Maple."
There's a quick "On our way." Then the line goes dead, and. . . and there's
nothing I can do. We're only a few blocks from the mansion. They'll be
here in seconds. I should run. Xan told me to run. But. . .
Shit! Faith's not doing too good. What can I do?! I can't do anything!
I don't even have a weapon. Angel said it wouldn't look victimy enough.
I should run. There?s nothing I can do. It's her problem now. But. .
There's a loud snap, and Faith screams.
I'm running, full on. . . straight for them. Damned overblown sense of
chivalry. A full on tackle, that could work Get the thing off of her, then
roll out of it's way and hope to God Angel's car is as fast as it looks.
Yeah, that should. . . probably get us both killed.
If I live through this I really need to consider that whole thinking before
I act thing.
If. . .
No time. I hit it, hard. Knock it away from Faith's body. Can't stop and
check on her. Think she's still alive. Avoid the teeth. Avoid the claws.
Let the momentum carry me away. . .
NO! Shit! It's got my ankle. Oh, God! I kick with my other foot, and
it's. . . smiling at me. . .
It's gonna kill me.
There's a squeal of tires. The demon lets me go, and turns towards the
noise. I scurry backwards, crablike. Should get up. Should run. Don't
think I can. Angel hops out of the car, his face in full vamp mode, and the
creature squeals. Oh good, *big* sword! Angel swings the blade, and. .
Oh. . .
This is. . .
While I deeply appreciate the vamp saving my life, I wonder if it was at
all possible for him to do it in some way that didn't leave me *Completely
Covered In Monster Goo*?!?!
The head of the Poya lands about ten feet away. The body slumps, blue gunk
still pumping out of the severed jugular, which is funny, cause it sure as
hell seems like most of it sprayed onto me.
There's a blur and Angel's beside Faith, checking her injuries Oh, no,
guys. I'm just fine.
I gingerly pick myself up from the pavement. Okay, extend. Flex. Nothing
seems broken. No obvious muscle tears. Head feels like it just got stomped
on, and I'm pretty sure I?m gonna have a really interesting collection of
"Graham?! Graham, are you all right?"
Xander. "Yeah, I?m. . . ow. . . fine." Well, fine for a guy who looks like
he just lost on a Nickelodeon game show. I don't even want to think about
where this stuff is oozing too, and. . . ick, I just thought of it.
Xan gets close and peers into my eyes. Wow, he looks kinda upset. "You're
okay?" He sounds even more upset.
I nod, and, ugh, must not do that again.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Xander, I'm fi-OW!!" He just knocked me upside the head!! That. .
. Ow! "What the *hell* was that for?!"
"What part of 'no macho bullshit' did you not understand?" Xander hisses
at me. "You're not commando guy anymore, Graham. If you die it's not going
to be some. . . great service to your country or something."
"I didn't think. . ."
"No, you didn't. And I know I don't have a lot of room to talk here, 'cause
I don't normally think either, but. . . Dammit! You're not me! You're
Graham, and you can't do stuff like that. Not now!"
I reach out for him. "Xander. . ."
"No." He steps away from me. "Not right now. I just. . .Give me a few minutes,
I watch him walk away from me, and I can feel my stomach lurch. I should
have realized. I'm not just living for myself, or even my unit anymore.
He loves me, and I must have scared the shit out of him. I wonder how much
chocolate laced groveling it's gonna take to pull me out of this one.
"He'll be fine after he cools off a little."
I jump at Angel's voice. How did he get so close to me without. . . Man,
this guy's good. I nod, keeping my face neutral, impassive. I'm not sure
why he's talking directly to me, and there's no point in give away any emotions.
His gaze travels over to where Xan's standing, and his mouth quirks up a
little at the corners. I'm not sure what that look is exactly, but I know
I don't like it directed at my Xander. "I just wanted to thank you." He
looks back at me. "For what you did with Faith."
Oh, that. I shrug. "She needed help."
"But you didn't have to be the one to provide it. Especially considering.
. ." His eyes flicker back to Xander.
"He's moved on." I say. "There's no reason for me to dwell on it."
Angel's silent for a moment, then he smirks. And, if I didn't like his
previous look directed at Xander, I *really* don't like this look directed
at me. It's funny. If a tall, handsome man in leather gave me a look like
that a couple months ago, I'd probably be going 'Hell, yeah'. Now. . . Well,
I'm tired, I'm sticky, and not in a good way, and I really just want to collect
Xander and go home.
Angel's smirk gets just a little bit bigger. "Something tells me you're
going to be good for him."
Excuse me? A compliment? Okay, that wasn't at all what I was expecting.
Wait, that *was* a compliment, right?
Angel, apparently satisfied in his amazing ability to unnerve and confuse,
turns and strides back towards Faith, who cradling her left arm and. . . oh
dear lord. She winked at me.
I really want to go home now.
Oh, good. Here come's Riley. I'll just ask him if we're done here and.
. . He's glaring at me? What did I. . .
"You and Xander have got the apartment to yourselves tonight. I'm staying
at Buffy's." Riley's voice is hard.
Great. Evidently I've managed to piss someone else off. I must have spent
too much time with Faith. "What's your problem?" No, not at all surly.
Riley snorts. "Like you don't know."
I sigh. "Riley, I'm not sure what exactly I did to-"
"Huh?" Okay, I most certainly did not *do* Angel.
Riley crosses his arms in front of his chest. "You checked him out. I saw
you." He shakes his head. "I can't believe you did that, Graham. You know
how I feel about him."
I check my hand to make sure it's slime free, then. . . Punching him would
only make the situation worse, wouldn't it? I rub my eyes. "Riley. . ."
"What?" Almost makes me want to go and plant a big wet one on the corpse
over there, and . . . putting it like that. . . Ewww. Nevermind.
"Just. . ." I wave him off. "Go have sex with your Slayer."
He seems to brighten at that thought. And this was the guy we trusted to
lead us into potentially deadly situations. The mind boggles.
Actually, it's been doing an awful lot of that lately, and something tells
me I shouldn't expect that trend to end anytime soon.
Oh yeah, I *really* want to go home now.
Piece of Heaven
Summery: Graham got messy, now he gets soapy. . . with a little help.
Date: October 1, 2000
Xander plops down on the couch and automatically stretches out to occupy
as much space as possible. "You know, all things considered, this was a pretty
"Spoken like a man who doesn't have slime in his shorts." I grimace and
shift a little. Oh yeah, these clothes are being burned.
"No sympathy here, pal." He folds his arms across his chest. "If you had
"Done what you told me to. Yeah, yeah, I know." I resist the urge to roll
my eyes. He's dealt with more of this stuff then I have. I should have
trusted his judgment. I shouldn't have made him worry like that.
"I just hope it's not corrosive, or anything." Xander looks pointedly at
Uh. . . "I'll just be in the shower for the next hour or so." I say jokingly.
. . well, mostly jokingly.
"Need any help with that?" Xan suddenly blushes, like he can't believe he
just said that. I'm right there with him, actually. I mean, he couldn't
have meant. . .
"With what, exactly?" I'm calm. Well, at least I sound calm. That's got
to count for something.
He swallows, hard. He fidgets some, and basically looks as nervous as I
feel. "Well, I just. . . I mean, I know how. . . hard it can be to, you know.
. . with certain types of slime, and. . ." He chuckles, shaking his head.
"And, I have no idea how to make this sound the least bit smooth."
"Rough is okay." Ulp. "I mean, in talking, but it can be okay in. . .other
ways if you. . . Uh. . ." Who knew babbling was contagious?
"Glad to know I'm not the only one who has no idea in hell what he's talking
about." Xan gets up and walks towards me. "I'm just gonna try and explain,
so, bear with me. Okay?"
He stops right in front of me, not more then a foot from my body. I want
to touch him. "I know I said I wanted to take this slow, and have boundaries,
and stuff, but that was before today, well, technically it was yesterday,
and I didn't understand what I was feeling, or, maybe I did, but I was just
scared because. . ." He takes a breath. "Because I knew I could love you
so much, and those kinds of feelings just. . . freak me out, well, because
of a lot of things that we really don't need to get into, but, I think I wanted
to go slow because I think I didn't know what I wanted, and. . . and I didn't
want to get. . . hurt."
Okay, I'm pretty sure I got about half of that. . . maybe. I think I caught
all the important stuff though, like the end. I do touch him now, putting
my hands on his shoulders, rubbing the muscles by his neck. "I would *never*
hurt you, Xan."
He smiles. "I know. Now. But, like I said before, I'm new at, you know,
the whole love thing. And, now that I know you?re not going to hurt me,
I. . . I also know what I want."
My heart feels like it's gonna thump right out of my chest. "What's that?"
"Right now?" His hands grasp the bottom of my shirt and I almost unconsciously
lift my arms, allowing him to pull it over my head. "Right now. . . I really
want you naked."
He leans in for a kiss, his fingers ghosting over the flesh of my chest,
tickling my abdomen, dropping down to my jeans. They undo the button, I
can feel. . . they're at the zipper.
Xan moves his head, breaks the kiss, pulls back. He stares at me. Eyes
so big, warm, dark. He licks his lips. Want that tongue to- "Graham."
His voice is so soft. "Are you sure?"
Is he kidding?!
"Want you." Huh, never growled before. I grab his head, pull his mouth
back to mine. Hard.
He unzips my jeans. Slow. Torture. His hand"s right there, I rock forward.
He presses against me. Rubs through the cotton. Been too damn long.
Hands move. No, please keep touching. . . They push my pants down over
my hips, boxers going too. Air on my skin. Fingers on my skin. Caressing.
Yuck. He said Yuck? Well, that's kind of. . . disheartening.
"Sorry." Xan blushes and holds up his hand so I can see the blue goo. "Slime."
Okay, that is. . . Yuck. "Shower?"
He nods. "Shower."
I turn on the water, letting it get warm before we get in. Xander's still
fully dressed, and my shirt's on the living room floor, but in my haste to
get to the tub I just hitched up my pants, so we haven't crossed the completely
naked line yet. There's still a chance for this to stop. I turn and face
Xan, and. . . okay, there's no chance for this to stop. I've only seen that
look on his face a couple of times but it's still enough to make me shiver,
and send more blood to interesting places.
This is really gonna happen.
I toe off my shoes and socks. I push my jeans and boxers down and step out
of them. Oh yeah, gotta remember to double bag this stuff before I put it
out for the trash. But, later. . . much, much later.
I stand still as Xander looks me over. I?ve never been self conscious of
my body, but damned if I'm not blushing.
Xan smiles. He moves closer, and suddenly he seems nervous again. That.
. . predatory vibe is still there, but it's tempered by this sweet hesitancy
that. . . that makes me totally remember that he's never done this with a
I put my arms around his neck, pull him in for a kiss. Soft, slow, no rush.
Such a good kisser. Firm. . . and. . . just good. Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Time for the words I?ve wanted to say for almost. . . wow, almost a year.
"Xander, take off your clothes now."
He grins, and complies. I watch as he strips. . . for me. He's taking off
his clothes, for me. I can't even begin to remember the number of times I
fantasized about his body, and now it's being revealed, just for me. Gorgeous
pale skin stretched over muscles, which, mmm, muscles. I've been held by
him before, felt the strength in that upper body, but I've never seen it.
And, I believe 'yum' is an operative word.
He blushes a little, ducks his head, and unzips his khakis. Okay, Mr. Restraint
has officially left the building.
I grab him, and push him against the door. He looks a little surprised.
. .maybe worried. I give him a quick kiss, then yank down his pants. I'm
eye level with. . . oh. . . have to taste. I lick up his shaft. He whimpers.
His back presses against the door, but his hips jut forward. So eager.
So good. Chuckle just a little. Give the tip a light kiss, then I'm back
up at his mouth, tongue sweeping in.
His arms, those arms, wrap around me, pulling me tight, flush, against. .
. unh. . . touching. Flesh so warm. Such soft skin over such hard. . .
everything. I grin, move my face to his neck, suck at the hollow above his
"So beautiful." I whisper against his throat. I can feel his pulse racing
beneath my lips, his skin getting even hotter.
"Graham." His voice is low, strained.
"Hmm?" I nip at his jawline.
Oh yeah. Corrosive monster goop.
We break apart, panting hard. I take his hand and lead him to the tub.
I step in. He follows. And, we're back together again. The spray pelts
us both. He's sliding against me, feels so. . . The friction. . . so good.
Warm, heavey breath against my ear. "Graham." The softest moan comes out
as I squeeze his ass.
Find his mouth. Need to kiss him now.
Moving. . . faster. Arms tighten around me.
Need this. . .
Need him. . .
There is nothing like waking up next to someone you love.
Oh, a simple warm body can be great, but. . . even that can't really compare.
Not with being next to Xander. Laying here in my bed, watching him sleep,
feeling only slightly stalkerish. I've never done this before. Never wanted
to. Never really been with someone who counted.
So, I guess it's not just his beauty, although with the sheet bunched around
his hips and his long torso bathed in a stream of moonlight. . .
Oh, God. I am *so* far gone. I should be deeply concerned for my psyche.
. . so, why am I grinning like an idiot?
I reach out and touch him. That's getting to be a general compulsion with
me, not that either of us minds. I let my finger run down the center of
his chest, and over his abdomen, gently stroking the thin line of hair that
trails down from his navel. I check his face. Still sound asleep, breathing
deep and normal. Let's see what I can do to change that.
I lean over, my lips tracing the same path my finger had just taken. I
kiss down his stomach. His skin's so warm, and. . . there's a little reaction.
Just the slightest quiver of the muscles under my mouth.
He murmurs something, can't quite make it out. Shifts a little, then. .
. nothing. Back to sleep.
I let my tongue swirl around his navel, dipping in once. . . twice. . .
three times, and finish by lightly nipping at his lower belly. Earned myself
a shudder that time, but he's still out of it.
A sleeping Xander might be nice, but an active Xander is so much more. .
. well, active. And, I want to play. Okay, time for hard. . . ball. Oooh,
that's an idea.
I grab the edge of the sheet with my teeth. I start to pull the material
away from him, slowly exposing more and more. . . mmm, skin. Suddenly, a
hand strokes my head.
"Having fun?" A slightly sleepy voice asks.
I look up and into. . . the most. . . amazing eyes. Chocolate brown, in
this light, and just so warm, and happy. I let the sheet fall out of my
mouth. "Oh yeah. You?"
He chuckles. "I'm good." He reaches down, grasps my arm and tugs a bit.
Okay. I move up, half draping myself over him. I brush a stray lock of
hair off his forehead, and. . . This is why. I mean. . . It's just kinda
hit me. . . everything that has happened to me has been worth it, because
it got us to now.
Joining the Initiative, fighting the battles. Me deciding to stay in Sunnydale,
but being too chicken to hardly talk to Xan. That first clumsy kiss in the
cemetery, him saving my life, the first real kiss in the hospital. The demons,
the monsters, the dating. Head injuries. Self centered Slayers, annoying
British vampires, sharing a laundry hamper with Riley.
It's all led up to this moment; me and Xander, together. Not in my mind,
or my dreams, but in my bed. *My* bed. My Xander.
"Graham?" He looks a little concerned. Guess I slipped into 'intense face',
and this is definitely not the time or place for that look. "Everything okay?"
"Yeah." I smile softly before closing the distance between us. Another
new compulsion I've noticed is the intense desire to routinely kiss Xander
senseless. I think I'm just gonna go with that. My lips press against his
and. . . yeah. . .