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Chapters 7-9

Chapter 7

It was over.  

There was a stunned silence in the great room.  The crowd blinked, and blinked again when the GameMaster blandly began telling the gaming group, Black Death, that in a surprise attack, 240 of their soldiers died under a rain of arrows.

Then another 100…


When the game had initially begun, the watching spectators were puzzled by Jaile passing a note to the GameMaster.  The woman had an interested look on her face upon reading it, making the watching crowd very much eager to read what was written.   But all she did was nod, and the game began with the army of Stormrunners cautiously treading their way through the mountain pass.  

However, what the spectators found infinitely curious was this: periodically the GameMaster would pass slips of papers back to the Stormrunners.   Sometimes they would look dismayed, other times they would look relieved.  Even the Black Death looked suspiciously at the Stormrunners, fearing some trickery.  But what could they possibly do?  Black Death had the upper hand.  All they needed to do was hold their position and crush the Stormrunners' pathetic army.

But it was their army that was annihilated in an unexpected move.  Every roll of their dice seemed to be a fumble, and even the solid rolls did little to stop the onslaught.

Every move they made, it seemed the Stormrunners had already anticipated it and had a countermeasure prepared.

The once mighty army of Black Death was soundly defeated.

And a new Overlord of the World was crowned.

Amid the cheering, shouting crowd, Angel searched for Xander, eager to claim his promised reward.

Peering over the laughing, congratulatory crowd he sought his lover in a vain attempt to get an early start on his loving.  

Unfortunately he was waylaid by Skoal, who full well knew who Angel searched for.  Both of them catching sight of Xander waving and making his way towards Angel.   Skoal, making one last valiant attempt to recapture the vampire's attention, threw himself at Angel and stole a kiss from the cool lips.   And came perilously close to losing his life when Angel jerked back with a vicious snarl twisting his lips.  The demon, glaring with golden-eyed menace was paramount in the savagely beautiful face at the unwanted contact.   

Angel stared at the young man, his eyes frosting over with contempt, literally making Skoal shake as if from the icy, coldness of death.  A low growl rippling from the demon's throat, his eyes a blazing gold, Angel shocked those around him into the fearful stillness of the hunted.   Slowly, holding the boy's suddenly terrified eyes, he removed the slender arms from about his neck.  

“Don't ever do that again…” he said past the satisfying image of Skoal sprawled on the ground, his throat a gaping red wound.  He struggled with the need to make the image a reality and be done with the interfering little twit.   He looked up, his dead heart feeling even deader at the mingled hurt and resignation in Xander's eyes before his lover turned to rush away.  It made him want to rip Skoal's throat out all the more.

Tossing the blonde away from him, he hurried to reach his Xander.  

Catching up, Angel allowed Xander to make it into an empty hallway before he halted his lover's desperate attempt at escape.  Wrapping his arms around the stiff, angry figure he simply held on.    “Xander, stop…I wasn't kissing him.  He was kissing me!”  Angel said roughly, stilling the boy's futile efforts to get away.

“Kissing is kissing!”  Xander pointed out.  Struggling to keep the anger and hurt from his voice.  Though why he should feel upset he didn't know.  It wasn't as if Angel had ever made any promises to him about being faithful or anything.  They weren't all couple-y, they were just…buddies.  That just…uhm...coincidentally had sex.  

A lot.  

Every freaking chance they could get.

Mucho grande sex…tearing up the road…screaming, backbreaking sex…and dammit!  It fuckin' hurt like hell to see Angel and that bleached blonde locking lips.  

“Two pairs of lips, pressing together is kissing!” he said insistently, holding his body rigid and unyielding against the solid press of Angel's.

He was whirled around and pressed against the wall.  “This is kissing…” Angel murmured and dived into the angry, sputtering mouth.  His tongue gaining entry with sensuous ease, twining, stroking the humid warmth within.  He mapped the honeyed interior with languorous sweeps of his tongue, then coaxed Xander's out to play.  

Long endless seconds passed as they supped from each other's mouth, rocking and twisting against one another.  Xander's hands were fisted in Angel's hair, gripped handfuls as tingling waves of pleasure washed over him.  All he could think about was getting horizontal as soon as possible and pulling Angel down with him.

A plan!  

Hot damn, he thought in rising desire.  Another wonderful plan!  I'm a freakin' genius, he excitedly assured himself before getting lost in Angel's mouth.  And moving slowly, languidly, he undulated into the hard firmness of his lover's body.  Moaning when Angel rocked lazily into his straining flesh, increasingly vivid ripples of pleasure spiraled outward, shaking his entire body.  He tightened his grip on the broad shoulders, arching his hips and rubbing himself against the definite bulge between Angel's thighs.  Whimpers of fitful need escaping his beleaguered lips at the surge of electric wildfire scorching him at the contact.

Finally Xander drew back, gasping for breath.  Lips passion swollen, temptingly red and wet from the pressure of the erotic contact.  Angel was saying something, but he couldn't seem to drag his attention away from his lover's mouth.   Those cool lips that burned him.  All he could think about was having those lips back against his again.  And again.  And other places as well, he thought in a delirium of lust.  He tingled, his body stiffening with painful hardness at the scintillating idea.

Angel chuckled shakily, that look of single-minded hunger on Xander's face always sent an electrifying thrill through him.  Although just as aroused by their kiss, it was the fixed expression of lust in the boy's eyes that had him hardening with a burning need.

“Xander, do you remember your promise…?” he whispered, leaning into the boy's all too enticing body.  Willingly seduced by the heady scent of rising passion from the boy.  “You promised me a certain…something.”  There was a glittering dark look etched on his face.  With passion sharpening his features, he wore a look of ravenous desire.  

“I believe you said you would fuck me so hard I would feel it every time I sat down,” he murmured, his face pressing into the warm human neck.  Softly, gently he laved at the frantically beating pulse just under the skin.  A tiny smile curving his mouth at the low, throaty moan from his precious, darling boy.   That look of wanton desire in those beautiful, soft eyes made him want to howl.  

“Well, I'm real interested in seeing…how capable you are in keeping your promise.  If not, well then, I guess you'll have to keep trying.  You know the old saying…`If first you don't succeed, try, try again',” Angel said with a lecherous smile.

Xander shuddered, his eyes crossing at that arousing thought.  He held Angel pressed to him, shivering and arching against the beautifully cool, hard body with a low whining sound.   His mind dazed to everything but the need to get Angel back to their quarters.  One thought uppermost in his mind: Sex!  And more sex!  And, maybe some more…

Spinning out of Angel's loose grasp, Xander breathlessly babbled out something as he seized his lover's hand and led the way back to their room.  Absently responding to individual greetings along the way with quick, impatient grunts.  Growing increasingly annoyed at the incredibly rude people that were holding him up from getting some serious Angel nookie, he growled and glared angrily at them.

Angel manfully restrained his desire to laugh at the intent look on Xander's face and the determined way the boy was pulling him through the corridors.  He smiled apologetically at the people in the hallways as Xander dragged him relentlessly past them.  Everyone had astonished expressions on their faces at Xander's shocking rudeness.  

Pushing open the door to their quarters, Xander shoved Angel back against it, frantically attacking his lover's mouth again.  Ruthlessly suppressing whatever Angel was trying to say.  

HE was in the driver's seat now!  And he was NOT in the mood for any of Angel's chitchat.

Angel was near stunned speechless by the amorous fury of his boy.  He was also throwing a boner hard enough to crack a diamond at the wild, storm of passion glittering brightly in Xander's intensely hot and seductive gaze.  He managed to fasten one of the locks on the door before his boy manhandled him over to the bed.  He had no intention of allowing ANYBODY to interrupt them.  

Xander pushed Angel roughly back and followed his lover down onto the bed, alternating harsh and soft kisses on the cool pale flesh, then seizing Angel's lips in a deep, hungry kiss before coming up for air.  Straddling his lover, he savagely ripped Angel's shirt in two.  And a wild, primitive feeling of rapacious lust surged through him at the sight of the bared, pale muscular torso.  

He licked his lips eagerly.  There was a ravenous look of pure greed on his face.    He could barely restrain himself from rubbing his hands with wicked, gleeful intent.  Angel quivered, his eyes widening at the hot, feral look on his lover's face, for the first time wondering what he had gotten himself into.  He hardened, his dick elongating at being the recipient of such ferocious passion.  

Xander eyed Angel's lips, then the broad chest with those fat nipples, then the washboard abs.  His eyes widening hungrily, drooling at the rigid, turgid organ pressing against Angel's stomach.  He drooled, smacking his lips hungrily.  A soft babble of words running counterpoint with his frenzied, erotic thoughts.

“The lips…ooooh, yeah, the lips…!  So sweet, and good…!  Like sugar they are…ohhhh, maybe the nipples, yeah!  The nipples, all fat and juicy…!  He jumps when I play with them…!  I wanna bite `em…and make him jump!   Bite…bite…bite.  Grrrrr!  No!…let's do the stomach…!  Yeah…and his navel…he loves that…mmmmm, noooooo, his cock….!  I haven't tasted that…! Mmmmmm, blowjobs…I like it when he does me…!  No…start at the top…start at the top and work your way down, mama always used to say.  But I bet she wasn't talking about this…!” he snickered softly to himself.  Still eyeing Angel like a starving wolf, drooling and twisting his hands as he contemplated where to start on his Angelfeast.

Angel eyed the boy incredulously…oh for Gods sakes!  Using strong stomach muscles he leaned up and yanked his babbling boy down to his waiting mouth.   Sliding a hand between their bodies, he tugged briskly on Xander's ramrod length.  At the full body shudder that shook his lover, he released the captive lips and reclined on the bed.  His eyes hooded and glittering with avarice need to be fucked.  

Xander blinked rapidly, the fog of lust clearing briefly from his mind.  He inhaled sharply, looked at the sleek splendor of Angel sprawled beneath him and dive-bombed his lover's body hungrily.  Possessively running his hands all over the magnificent, beautiful body.  Biting, licking at the cool burning lips as hands, strong enough to bend steel, stroked wildly up and down his back.

He humped against Angel's body, groaning at the slick wet feel of a hard, naked cock brushing, sliding, pressing against his own with an aching sensuality.  He quivered, shivering at the erotic sensation, his shaft oozing glistening pearls of liquid.   All of a sudden, it was absolutely vital that he get inside Angel's ass.  With frantic lust, his hand was under the pillows and he gratefully snagged the lube.  Shaking fingers, he managed to open the top, slick himself up and prepare Angel.  

Then he was in.  A keening whimper was the only sound he could make when Angel's slick, satin coolness engulfed his cock.

Angel groaned, finally Xander got the message.  He wrapped himself around the boy like a snake, lifting his lips to his human lover, moaning softly.  Giving Xander his mouth, his body…everything.   His breath came out in a tight hiss when the thick, turgid length slid achingly slow into his body.  Filling him up, full to bursting.   His shaft seemed to stiffen even more, aching with a painful hardness as Xander crammed himself further into his spasming entrance.   And he sighed at the remembered pleasure of being taken, fucked by a man's hard, thrusting cock.  He had forgotten just how much he loved the first penetration, the strength, thickness and power of a length of flesh-covered steel thrusting, probing the depth of his ass.  

He moaned, his eyes closing in bliss as Xander just rested there.  So deeply embedded within his hungry sheath.  Slowly he flexed around the rigid organ, smiling as he heard a tightly high-pitched yelp from the boy and the convulsive buck that Xander gave.  He held the ramrod length in a tight, constricting grip.  It was all his, every last fuckin' inch of it, now belonged to him.  

And there was nothing more satisfyingly delicious and supremely luxurious than to be sprawled naked and holding your lover's cock deep within your body.  His proud, hard shaft sheathed, and at your command.

Xander whined, low in his throat at the almost intolerable pressure gripping his dick.  He panted, his breath coming out in harsh, ragged spurts.  His eyes were dazed with the painful pleasure of being so tightly encased within the cool, rippling walls of Angel's ass.  His first and only experience of being the fucker rather than the fuckee, of being in control, was with Faith.  But, he reflected darkly, she nipped that in the bud.  She flipped him and rode him like a runaway horse then kicked him out in the cold once she had gotten her jollies.  

Getting screwed by her was good, he thought as the constricting walls relaxed around his sex, because that was what happened.  SHE fucked him…not the other way around.  It was good, he thought, slowly withdrawing from the snug sheath, like the difference between a starving man eating a half-rotten apple, and a king sitting down to a 12-course feast.  Both satisfied a hunger, but ohhh, viva la difference!

He stared into Angel's golden eyes finally seeing exactly why Angel liked watching him when they had sex.  “Beautiful…” he whispered, getting lost in the myriad of emotions swirled in those glorious eyes.  Everything he did, every thrust of his body was reflected in Angel's wild, passion suffused gaze.  He shifted, angling deeper into the gripping interior, gritting his teeth when muscular legs tightened with bruising force around his waist.  Just wanting to see that flash of chaotic lightening flare in the depths of Angel's eyes.

After that, he couldn't stop moving; he had to go, he wanted to go deeper still into the cool molten sheath.  Grunting, he pulled back and slammed a hard thrust against Angel's upturned backside, gasping in surprise at the way the narrow channel seemed to flex around his hardness and Angel writhed against him in an unexpectedly enticing, sinuous movement expressively designed to make him lose his ever-lovin' mind.    

What a way to go, he thought muzzily before willingly going under in the awesome pleasure of the fuck.

Angel rocked and arched his back, grounding downward, twisting and circling his hips, anxious for more of that big hot shaft pounding his ass.  He wanted to feel every last bit of Xander sliding into him, he wanted to feel the very root of that thick, stabbing cock ramming into him, to feel Xander to the hairy root, grinding and abrading his skin with each deep satisfying thrust.  He couldn't remember the last time he had it so good.  

And Xander's kisses, those incredibly tender, overpowering, hungry lips that the boy seemed to use so effectively, he wanted more.  More and more.   He simply wanted to wring every bit of sensation from this heated coupling as possible.   

He wanted every-fuckin'-thing.

The room was soon filled with the breathless gasps, grunts of pleasure, and whispered, broken pleas for `More'.  It was torture, it was bliss; it was everything between heaven and hell.  Everything, Angel felt, was centered on Xander.  On the inescapable heat, the thick, relentless shaft hammering at his prostate.  

He gave Xander his passion, his desire, as he rode that pulsating tool of pleasure to a hard aching point.  He danced his own wicked dance upon the pounding cock, working his ass around Xander until the boy was lathered to a fine sweat.  He was ruthless, and relentless in his quest for their mutual fulfillment.  He wanted it all, he desperately needed to feel Xander's seed filling him, flooding and drenching him in the boy's wonderful seed.  And he focused on that point, on Xander's breathless, inexorable pounding lunges.  Focused on the sharp curl of spiraling pleasure that threatened to send him out of control.

Xander braced his hands on the bed, and leaned deeper, ramming repeated thrusts against Angel's gobbling hole.  It felt so fucking good, he moaned.  Magical, so goddamn perfect and he was so almost there.  

“Christ…!” he choked out when Angel did this fluttering thing inside.  It felt like lips were nipping sweetly around his buried cock.   Sweat was dripping down his face, stinging his eyes, but he couldn't stop staring down at Angel's ecstatic face.  Every movement, every lunge brought a corresponding expression to the pale, beautiful face.  Angel's face was twisted, like he was in agony, but from the way he was slamming down on his dick, begging for more, it wasn't pain that his lover was feeling.   

And that fact sent him soaring, spinning out of control.  He was raging with desire for the sweet, cool flesh of his lover.  His hips pistoned back and forth, his low hanging balls slapped against Angel's pale, ravenous ass with the loud sound of someone being spanked.  Every hammerlike blow into the greedy, clenching aperture was accompanied by low, breathy grunts and moans from the two men.

Angel groaned, and braced his heels against Xander's flexing ass.  His body shaking and rocking with the force of Xander's rutting flesh, he reached down and firmly grasped those luscious, heavy sacs between his lover's legs.  Taut, juicy and filled with tasty white, creamy sauce.  They were so wondrously free and pendulous.  At Xander's gasp, he grinned and worked the succulent orbs in his fingers, sliding his nimble digits further to that sleek patch of skin just behind those mouthwatering balls.  And began stroking.

Xander shuddered violently, almost squirming away, or towards those wicked, tormenting fingers, he wasn't quite certain.  At the surge of agonizing pleasure that seared him, he knew that TOWARDS the fingers was where he wanted to be.  He was oblivious to the keening wail of pleasure that ripped from his lips…but Angel was not.  Xander's thrusts increased dramatically, plowing his ass like a jackhammer.

Christ!  He slammed his head back against the pillows, his hips writhing, undulating on the huge pole ramming into him.   God…!  The boy was so fuckin' hard!   He NEVER had it so good.  Not even from the Master had he been fucked so hard and thorough.  Xander was reaching places in him that he NEVER knew existed.

Unknowingly, he gasped for breath, his eyes wide and dazed with the intensity of the feeling raging through him.  Half forgotten was Xander as Angel drew his hand up and clasped his throbbing shaft.   Whining, growling as he pulled on his turgid organ in time with the hard-hitting lunges that continuously rocked him on the bed.  

Hot, hard and tight... hard, hot, tight…hot, tight and so fuckin' HARD!  Xander had the stamina of a damn vampire and a dick of iron.  Shit, his boy probably could move a goddamn mountain with it.   He could feel himself rushing, laughing as he raced towards a high peak as a tidal wave of molten heat towered, chased just behind him.  Xander was two paces in front of him…now they were racing neck and neck…where, he had no idea…just running for the sheer joy.  Knowing the end was coming…the pleasure, the ecstasy was almost overtaking them.

Then they were there…out of room and looking over the edge down into a churning sea.  With a shared shout, they felt an enormous pressure slam into their spines, throwing them forward…into the air, spinning them around, tossing, turning in the rushing current of pleasure.

Clutching one another, they tumbled, screaming, roaring with delirious joy and wonder as they fell, surrounded by thick, choppy waves of ecstasy.  Falling…falling with gentle violence into the churning sea, deep…deeper still, their bodies rocking, jerking still from the choppy undertow.  

And slowly…so slowly it felt almost like a dream, the choppiness eased, gentled and they were carried softly, soothingly through the warm water to the shore.  

*          *          *

Xander sat with his knees drawn up to his chest, his arms wrapped around his legs, watching Angel toss various items in a duffel bag.  Despite his grim determination not to feel sad, with suspiciously wet eyes he regarded his lover…no, they weren't lovers, he corrected himself.  At least not anymore.

They were leaving Undervale; and he was not returning.  Angel may, but he could never return, not unless he chose to stay below.  Forever.  And somehow forever sounded like an awfully long time.   

He studied his toes, wiggling them to give him something to focus on as he blinked rapidly to clear the annoying dust from his eyes.  Because he wasn't crying, he sternly insisted to himself.  He wasn't!  It was dust or something that was making his eyes wet.  DUST!

Angel paused in packing the last of his clothes to regard his boy.  His smile was bittersweet as he admitted the truth.  At least to himself he could be honest enough to admit that no matter where he went, what path his destiny led him…Xander would always and forever be his beautiful, sexy, funny-face boy.   

Lover.  Friend.  Companion.   Xander was his…beloved.  

But there was no future for them, at least not together.  He had his redemption to seek, and Xander had his life to live.  The two seemed to be mutually incompatible.  Besides, how could he concentrate on fighting when thoughts of Xander constantly intruded on his mind, weakening him?   He could just see it now.  Fighting valiantly against some huge frickin' monster, when suddenly the image of Xander, all flushed, sated and warm from his loving shimmered into his mind.  And we'll have one really, REALLY dead vampire, Angel groused silently.   

He regarded his sad-eyed mortal with honest regret.  Xander practically had his demon purring in contentment instead of spitting and snarling at the thought of being…loved.  Angel turned the word over in his mind.  Puzzled as to when and at what point he fell in love with the boy.   It had never been about sex, at least, not on his part.  

Buffy was about illusions and wishful thinking.  They were friends, or at least as close of a friend as his demon would allow.  But there was always some part of him that couldn't trust her…she was the Slayer.  She was judge, jury and executioner of his kind.  Of demons.  There was no way he could ever truly trust her.  He was always torn between running away screaming or simply snapping her neck.  Killing her to remove the threat to his existence.  Despite the stars in her eyes when she looked at him, he always sensed something cold and remote resting deep within her soul.  Where the essence of the Slayer lived.  So, he was wary and anxious around her, cautious and in survival mode.  Because no matter how `alive and human' she made him feel, in the back of his mind he knew she was the Slayer.  Dealer of death to demons.

Now, Skoal…that was about sex.   At the time, he thought it was nothing more than two desperate people finding comfort in sex.  He understood that, and he assumed Skoal knew that simple fact.  Coming back from Hell, he was so hungry for sheer physical contact, to prove he was no longer THERE.  That touching didn't have to be about hurt and punishment, he thought he'd go mad.  

He couldn't go to Buffy, she was already wary enough of him, and he had so many dark thoughts about her.  He didn't dare approach Giles and Willow, and Xander was out of the question.  Plus there was something bothering him about his soul, it felt so strange.  Different.  So, he retreated below.  Here, although the only vampire, he was at least among other demons that accepted, without question, his return.  The newly blonde Skoal had lost his lover in a tragic accident and was hurting, reeling in confusion. And at the time, it made perfect sense to have an affair with the willowy, young man.  

In hindsight, Angel admitted ruefully, that may NOT have been the best idea.

He sighed softly, his eyes dark and brooding on his lover's desolate face.  Yet, somehow, in someway unknown to him, Xander ensnared him in delicate strands of desire; bound him with love.  Hell, the boy even had his demon musing on the improbable idea of taking the boy as Mate.   

On silent feet he crossed to his beloved.  “Tá tú go h-álainn …” Angel murmured tenderly, lifting the doleful face to his.  “So damn beautiful that had I a heart that still beat, it would stop working at the sight of you.”  He kissed the drooping lips gently, coaxing a response from the youth.  

Parting, he rested his forehead wearily against Xander's, feeling an aching sadness himself.  A little game of slap and tickle had turned unexpectedly into something more.  Some unforseen thing that ensnared them both in a sticky web of love and desire.  

“Tugaim mo chroí duit go deo,” he whispered, a lump forming in his throat at the thought of parting from Xander.    And it was true, although the boy didn't know it.  Xander held his dead, unbeating heart in warm mortal hands.   To do with it what he will.  Toss it aside, crush it under his heel…or cherish it forever.

It was killing him, but he had to put Xander away from him, for the boy's own safety, and his as well.  Xander had to live his very human life, while he had to continue his unending quest for redemption.  

Xander blinked rapidly, feeling treacherous tears stealing down his face.  He swallowed hard past the enormous lump in his throat.  Wrapping his arms about the vampire, he leaned into Angel's cool neck in an effort to hide his unmanly tears at the lilting, melodious words coming from his lover.   They sounded like a warm, soothing caress to his love-battered heart.   He snuggled deeper into Angel's throat, feeling comforted by the beautiful words.  Still didn't know what they meant, but they sounded awfully pretty he thought in whimsical sad humor.

He wanted to curse and rage at Angel, but couldn't.  Nobody forced him into bed with the vampire.  He paused, actually somebody did.  But nobody held a gun or threatened his life if he didn't make love to Angel.   He thought carefully on the meaning of what they had been doing these past weeks.  Not fucking.  Not screwing or knocking boots.  But loving…at least on his part it was loving.  He wasn't quite certain about Angel, but sometimes, he caught a glimpse of…something peering back at him from that golden-eyed gaze when Angel was rocking against him, or he was writhing atop that pale, nakedly beautiful body.  It was love, or at least a very close, kissin' cousin of LOVE.   

It was something that gave him hope, a tiny bit of knowledge to cling to, to hold on with all his strength.   He had a feeling he was going to need it in the dark days ahead.  

He took a deep shuddering breath for strength, then slowly drew back.  Gazing solemnly at Angel he said, “I'll miss you…”

For an answer, Angel briefly kissed him again.  “I'll miss you, too, a ghrá mo chroí…”

Xander tried to smile at the familiar phrase.  It was something Angel used a lot the past couple of days.  “Still ain't gonna tell me what that means…?” he teased shakily to distract them both.

Angel tried to smirk, but knew it was a dismal failure.  “Nope…”  He didn't want to raise any hope in the boy by telling him `a ghrá mo chroí' meant `love of my heart'.  This was painful enough.  

When he decided to bring Xander down here it was in hope that the boy would learn something, a new way of thinking; and perhaps he, in turn would learn something as well.  Even your worst enemy could teach you a thing or two, he always felt.  What he didn't anticipate on learning was how to laugh and love.  To open up his heart yet again.  And to lose another lover, though technically Buffy and he couldn't quite be called lovers, after all, it was only one time.  He dismissed Skoal from his mind, because that one was more what Xander claimed they were: fuck buddies.  There was never any love on his part for the blonde young man.  Just sex.

“I don't want to go…” he said quietly.  “I don't want you to go either…”

Xander felt his heart stutter, hope rising sharply at those words.  Maybe Angel did care for him as slightly more than a friend.  Then resignation set in.  “I don't want to go either.  But if you don't leave what will happen to your redemption thingie?  Dude, you have this big destiny thingie going.  And they don't give them out to just anybody, ya know…” he replied in a hopefully steady voice.  

A weary sigh from Angel was his answer.

He crushed Xander's lips to his, kissing his lover with hungry desperation as he tumbled them down to the made up bed.   Harsh, greedy moans came from the frenetic, grasping mouth.  Then something seemed to change in the frantic men.   Delicately, quietly…
tenderly their kiss softened.  No longer harsh and frantic, but easing slowly into love and affection.   


Calm hands stroked down Angel's back, as their lips gentled.  Silently `I love you' was in the fleeting caress of warm lips against the cooler lips.  Angel sat up, pulling Xander with him.  They stared quietly into each other's eyes, then smiled painfully before turning away and getting up.

Far, far away, Xander was sure he heard a fat lady singing a mournful song.

His head erect, Xander strode by Angel's side though the crowd of well-wishers.  He smiled easily at the many people that came to see them off.  Some he knew were there just to make sure he was truly leaving, some were there that were sad to see him go.  Those he gave a wider smile; the others, he smirked.  

Both his and Angel's expressions hardened at the sight of Skoal standing some distance away, regarding them with the flat, blank eyes of a beautiful Greek statue.  Then in a particular shift of light, the blonde's eyes seem to light up.  Xander gasped softly, his eyes widening as finally…FINALLY he remembered where he had seen those eyes!

Holy shit!  He cast an uneasy glance at Angel, then bit his lip.  Chewing his lip thoughtfully, he shook his head and decided to remain silent.  Skoal was down here and he was leaving for topside.  Their paths would never cross again.  And at least Skoal seemed…happier? below, he mused doubtfully.  But the thought of how the blonde's former lover died made him shiver as an unwelcome thought crossed his mind.  

Carefully, they threaded their way through the maze of tunnels.  Xander reflected on all his previous attempts to escape and shuddered.  He would have been wandering down here until he died.  They paused at the dimly lit tunnel, and the young man glanced inquiringly at his companion.

Angel grimaced slightly but rules were rules.  “Sorry, but I need to blindfold you…” he said quietly at the boy's questioning look.  “Very few humans know the way to and from Undervale.  Those that do, have strong magics binding them from revealing the location of the community.”  He looked wretched at the thought of blindfolding his lover.  It wasn't about him not trusting Xander; it was about the protection of the community.  

Xander sighed and turned around.  “Do it…” he replied shortly.  “I'm sorry…you're just taking care of Undervale,” he added apologetically as a thick cloth was wrapped around his eyes.

Angel kissed Xander's neck softly in gratitude.  Feeling a familiar tingle surge through his body.  At the gasp from the boy, and sudden outpouring of pheromones, he knew Xander felt it too.   He growled slightly and looked around, just knowing that guards were watching him, watching them.

Xander turned in Angel's arms, his desire rising quickly.  All he wanted right now was to feel a hard rigid pole hammering at him.  His hands blindly ran up and down the broad form, seeking the physical evidence of Angel's hunger for him.  Smirking slightly at the seriously bulging package he discovered.

“Ohhhh, Angel…” he moaned, purring with delight at the feel of the thick solid length he was gripping eagerly.

“That's NOT what you're looking for…” Angel replied dryly, removing the package of smoked sausage links that Xander loved out, of the boy's hands.


Angel rolled his eyes.  As much as he wanted Xander right now, he had no intention of giving the goggling and laughing sentries a free show.  Hurriedly he urged the disappointed boy out of the tunnel.   Making Xander stand in place, he pushed open the huge door and grabbed his boy.

Closing it, he kept them moving at a brisk pace until they were away from the annoying, smirking guards.   Pushing Xander against the rocky wall, he toed out of his shoes as he unfastened both their pants and shoved them down, kicking his off.  Stooping quickly he had the eager young man shoes off and was urging Xander to step out of his pants.  Made clumsy in his extreme haste to disrobe his boy, he ripped Xander's shirt to his lover's snickering amusement.   

Fumbling a tube of lube from his pants, he slicked his fingers while silencing the giggling boy with a hungry, demanding kiss.  Yeah, who's laughing NOW?! He thought triumphantly at the heady moan when he probed the boy's satiny heat.  Then his mind went under the tidal wave of desire that surged between their bodies.  

Heat…blessed, sweet heat gripped his fingers.   Nipped at his buried digits with greedy intensity.  He moaned at the feeling, layering feverish kisses on the boy's face.  His free hand urged a strong, well-muscled thigh around his waist.  Xander, getting the message gripped Angel tightly around the neck, raised his other leg and wrapped it securely around the cool waist.  Propped up by the wall, he shivered.   He wanted Angel right here, right now.  Taking him fast and deep, hard and high against the wall.  Spreading his tight ass with that huge, veiny shaft and pummeling his body to a melted pile of goo.  As only Angel could do.  He was wide open to Angel's plundering hand and moaned loudly, bucking and clenching around the invading fingers that brushed across his bundle of nerves with each delicious foray in his ass.

“Oh, fuck…” he whispered, his mind becoming lost in a dizzying swirl of sensations.  Made more intense by not being able to see.

“Damn right…!” Angel choked out.  He rocked against the warm, squirming body.  Moaning his delight as their hardened, towering shafts rubbed against one another.   He laved at the pointed nipples pouting eagerly for his kisses, his lips…his tongue.  Relishing the wild cries of delight he continually pulled from his writhing lover.  He twisted his fingers deeper into the spasming pucker, jamming them hard and fast into the velvet core.  Wishing that it was his tongue probing the rippling sheath.  Maybe later, he thought vaguely.

His arms and legs working together, Xander raised and lowered his hungry ass on the thickly plowing digits.  His head tossing restlessly from side to side as he rode the ecstatic fullness…but he wanted more.  He had to have Angel…he had to have that big, fat cock spearing him…spreading him open with that huge, tremendous shaft.  If this was going to be their last fuck, he wanted Angel banging his ass until he screamed for mercy.  

He smirked lewdly.  

Or screaming for something.

“N…n….need…you…” he reported breathlessly.  Gasping, keening with pleasure he rode Angel's fingers, his drooling shaft blissfully crushed between their heaving bodies.   Their rigid organs, and stomachs were coated liberally with fluids leaking from their desperate cocks.

For an answer, Angel, in two swift moves, removed his fingers and rammed his dick into the greedy, ravenous hole.  They froze, as twin howls of joyous delight spilling from their lips.  Their voices rising in a duet of fierce gratification at the feeling.   

One of being encased in snug, silken heat; the other of being so achingly full.  

Far away, the sentries smiled, exchanging knowing smirks at the ecstatic wails.

“Oh, Christ!  You're so fuckin' tight…!”  Angel muttered in the fragrant warmth of Xander's neck, shoving more of his aching shaft into the boy's honeyed, milking sheath.  

Xander laughed shakily, his body clenching around the beloved invader.  “You say that like it's a problem…”  he replied teasingly.  Then bit back a shout of pleasure when Angel slammed a deep heavy thrust into him.

“Does it feel like I have a problem…?” Angel responded with admirable calm, ramming more of his thick shaft in the boy's bottom.  Gritting his teeth at the rippling sensation of pleasure around his deeply buried cock.

“Mmmmm, you feel just fine to me,” Xander sighed, cinching his legs tighter around Angel's waist.  Tugging slightly, he pulled his lover into a slow, wet, opened-mouthed kiss.  Soon short choppy moans of ecstasy filled the tunnels with each stabbing lunge of a thick hard pole slogging deep within the boy's carnal heat.  Slick, wet sounds competed with Xander's cries of bliss and Angel's loud grunts of pleasure.

In and out and in and out andinandoutinandout, Angel's mind stuttered in an orgasmic glow of furious lust as he rammed his hard cock deep, deeper still within the squirming body.  God, how he wanted Xander and wanted this moment to last forever.   He wanted to be the first and last to plunge his way to heaven within the boy's insatiable, carnal body.  And he knew he would never be.  Could never be the last one to hold Xander, the last to feel the boy's incredible heat and sensual response.  Disturbed by the unwelcome thought, he growled, his hips pounding out his frustration deep within the throbbing core.  And Xander met his harsh, pistoning thrusts with loud cries of pleasure.

Using his arms, Xander bounced happily upon the organ plowing between his asscheeks, nearly sobbing with the incredible feeling of having Angel's big cock splitting him apart.  He could feel each pulsating veiny ridge every time the huge shaft sawed back and forth between his asslips.  He groaned, sparks of brilliantly colored lights flashing in his mind at the waves of bliss with each hammering stroke against his prostate.  The lewd, wet sounds of the dick chugging away at his ass only made this last frenetic coupling more exciting.  Intense.  

The breathless, dirty words coming from Angel made him writhe on the spike of flesh with wanton eagerness.  

“Tight little pussycat…” Angel growled, jamming a hard pounding stroke in the hot, buttery ass.   He grunted bestially, his face ridged and twisted into a savage mask of demonic beauty with every powerful lunge into the boy's snug, velvety sheath.   He was hanging on to the tiny bit of self control by his figurative fingertips.  His need to simply Claim Xander was surging through his veins, and he wanted to take the boy and damn the consequences.  And damn them both.  

“MY little whore…my pussyboy!   All mine…my pussyboy, my pussymypussymy pussy…” he chanted mindlessly, his hips a blur as he pistoned deep inside the boy's hot, milking slit.   “All mine…”

“Yours…yours…yours…” Xander, his mind lost in a daze of orgasmic pleasure, unconsciously agreed wholeheartedly with Angel's words as he danced upon the impaling cock.

Their frantic mouths came together and ravaged each other with increasing urgency.  Xander tightened his legs with bruising force when Angel's movements sped up.  The force and jarring motions of Angel slamming repeatedly into him, dislodged his mouth.  He was so overwhelmed by the sensations rioting in him that all he could do was concentrate on the wild, tumultuous feelings raging through him that all he was capable of doing was hanging on and enjoying the pounding ride.  

The storm…it was coming closer.   Closer!  The storm…it was racing towards him!   Closer, faster…it was almost here!  

He writhed faster atop the thick cock, his mind nearly blanking out from the scorching pleasure emanating from his butt and mushrooming outward throughout his body.  His mind shattering until the lightening, a storm of fury picked him up and whirled him around, all he could hear was the scream of the wildfire scorching him from the inside out.  

For a brief second, he realized the harsh screams were coming from his mouth, then he shattered into a million shards of pleasure.  Feeling hot, ropes of milky froth spew from his trapped cock.  His mouth was opened in a soundless wail of ecstasy, his head twisting against the rock wall as he was jarred by Angel's increasing, vigorous thrusts before his lover stiffened.  A roar of triumphant release filled the tunnel, and Xander felt cool, liquid spurt deep within his grasping sheath.  He tightened pleasurably around the thick shaft, moaning his gratification as pleasure, thick, endless and all-consuming, filled him.  

Distantly, he could feel Angel still languidly pumping into his ass.  He groaned, totally gratified.  He had got his wish to be fucked to a big puddle of goo.  He knew he had a sappy, moronic grin on his face, but fuck it.  Who wouldn't after a deep, hard coring like that?!  

His legs trembled from the strain of his position.  He wanted to tell Angel how good he felt.  How Angel's loving made him feel like he had died and touched the face of God; how an incredible rush filled him at the sight of the sated look in Angel's eyes and knowing that he put it there; how he ached in such a wonderful way from the vigorous smackdown Angel laid on him.  He opened his mouth…

“…mmmm…”  and hoped that sound conveyed all that he couldn't say.

Angel snickered tiredly, slumping against Xander.  “Yeah, me too…” he said.  And drawing away, he eased from the warm, gently gripping glove.  Shivering at the contact of cool air on his sensitive shaft after being encased in the humid sheath.   He stilled, sniffing the air at some unnamable emotion filtering through the air.  With one quick blink, it was gone…that incredible scent that made him feel ten feet tall and Xander was giving him a lopsided, quirky smile.   

“Kinky…but to be more effective you should have tied my hands behind my back or something,” he teased with lighthearted goodwill.  Groaning, he allowed his legs to drop from around Angel's waist.  Wincing at the aching sting of life returning to his muscles.  Hissing at the decided ache in his back and ass from repeated contact with the rocky wall.  

Angel looked guiltily at the boy.  Using his own shirt, he cleaned Xander of the evidence of their spent passion.  “Sorry…” he mumbled, embarrassed as all get out at how rough he had been with the boy.

“Don't be…” Xander said gently, blindly turning his head in Angel's direction and smiling.  “If I didn't enjoy what we were doing, I could have always yelled for you to stop.  `Sides, what's a little bruising between fuckbuddies?”  He wiggled his brows lecherously, leering blindly at Angel.  Smiling at the chuckle of real laughter from the vampire.  

“What will I ever do with you?” Angel snickered, then froze in dismay at his words.  

But Xander's beaming smile never faltered, despite his strong inclination to drop to his knees and plead with Angel to simply love him, stay with him.   “Be my friend…?” he suggested instead, cocking his head to the side.  

And Angel felt a lump form in his throat at the out Xander gave him.  “Always…” he replied huskily.  Stepping forward, he hugged his beautiful lover to him.  “Le grá go deo,” he whispered.  With love forever, he silently repeated.  

Xander stood patiently while Angel dressed him.  Then they were once again on their way.  This journey, so much different from the first journey below.  No foul, livid curses from Xander filled the air, nor angry snarling silence.  

Only the quiet, suffering silence of two lovers reluctantly parting.  

Angel took Xander some distance away from the exit they used.  He was aware of the hidden eyes that took note of his human and knew that Xander wasn't out of danger just yet.  

With the safety of Undervale at hand, the Council took no chances.  Any human or demon caught betraying the location of the underground community was swiftly executed.  No reprieve.  No grandstanding speeches.  No excuses.  

Just a swift, inexorable death.

The vampire knew he had to get Xander as far away from the opening as possible before he removed the boy's blindfold.  A feeling of pride ran through him at the fearless way Xander strode at his side.   From the confident way the boy walked, you would never guess he was about to shit his pants, Angel thought admiringly.  Long association with the boy clued him in on Xander's mannerisms.  That extra bounce to his step and head high was a sure-fire indication that Xander was scared.  He only acted that confident at his most scaredness.

“Are they still watching…?” Xander whispered out the side of his mouth as he ambled hand-in-hand with Angel down the empty streets of Sunnydale.  Proving that he was aware of the watchful eyes on them.

“Yeah…they'll always be watching you,” Angel replied quietly.  

“For how long…?”  

“Until they're sure…”

“And that would be…?” Xander said evenly, stopping at Angel's subtle signal.  He blinked rapidly when the blindfold was removed.

“When you're dead…” was the flat response.

“Logical…” Xander nodded thoughtfully.   He looked around, orienting himself back to Sunnydale and recognized where he was.  Four streets away from…home.  His lips twisted sourly at that distasteful thought.  Home was where the heart was…and his home was standing by his side.  He sighed and moved slowly away from Angel, heading towards his parents' house.  All too aware of the silent presence sauntering at his side.

“What will you do now…?  I remember Buffy being excited about going to college now, and Willow too,” Angel offered in the growing silence between them.

“It's a little too late for me…'sides, no money,” Xander replied quietly.  His pace slowing the closer they got to the house.  “The old man didn't quite…feel that I was college material,” he said cryptically.  Not adding that when he asked his father what happened to the Student Aid forms, the burly man rose out of his chair and belted him across the room.  Roaring some crap about his twice-damned bastard of a son trying to show him up by going to college.  That's when it got real ugly, Xander winced in painful remembrance.  Absently rubbing at the shoulder his father had nearly dislocated that night in a drunken fury of self-righteousness.

Angel's face rippled briefly, baring sharp jagged teeth.  Enough conversations with the boy about his parents gave him enough clues to know that when talking about his father, Xander, without thinking, rubbed at some spot on his body.   An arm, a leg, a jaw…so many places.   And an expression of bewildered pain accompanied the unconscious movement.

“I think maybe it would be better if you stayed at the mansion,” Angel said abruptly without looking at how Xander took his words.  “I mean, a man has to grow up and move out of his parents' home at some point in time.  To be a man…and to…uhm…grow up and be independently independent, ya know?!” he said wildly, pulling ideas out of the air.  “Staying at the mansion would be perfect.  You'll have a place to stay and you'll be independent,” he finished triumphantly.

Xander stopped walking to look at Angel in astonished disbelief.  “Well, that's all well and good but to be independent I need a job.  A job that will provide the cash, which in turn will provide food, clothing and electricity for this independent man,” he replied with strained patience.

Angel stopped as well and faced the boy.  “There's money in the mansion…” he responded quietly.  “Thousands of dollars that I won't need where I'm going,” he said persuasively and stepped closer.  “You can have it all, just don't go back to your parents' house,” he begged softly.

Xander's eyes narrowed, then understanding dawned in his eyes and he turned away, humiliated.  “Angel, don't…” he said hoarsely, wrapping his arms around himself, rejecting the vampire's outstretched hand.

The vampire hesitated, then reached for the boy.  Darting a look around, he pulled the shivering mortal into a darkened alley.   “You always rub some part of your body when you talk about HIM,” and there was a world of hate in that one word.  

Xander leaned his head against Angel's and sighed.  “It's not your problem…”

Angel stroked his hands down Xander's back and thought.  A hard smile was on his face when he responded.  “Okay, I'll make you a deal,” he said quietly.  “You stay at the mansion, use the money that's there until you find a job and I'll let your father continue wasting valuable breathing space on this earth,” he finished evenly.   There was no threat or warning in his voice.  Just a simple statement of fact.

The boy's dark, shaggy head jerked up.   “Dude, that's not even fun…” and his voice trailed off at the hard, cold light in Angel's eyes.  He swallowed hard.  “Your redemption…” he said weakly.

“So I'll have to work harder…” Angel shrugged carelessly, his eyes fixed on the boy's wide eyes.  “Redemption doesn't begin overnight, I'm sure they know there'll be some backsliding,” he said vaguely.  “Now, do we have a deal…?”

“Well, when you put it that way, I guess so,” Xander muttered shakily.

Angel beamed a cheerful smile at the shaken boy.  “As long as I get my way, it's all good,” he replied reassuringly.

Politely, he escorted his boy to the mansion.  An expansive feeling of goodwill filling him at the thought of Xander living in his home.  Well, not exactly his…but it was close enough to satisfy his demon, Angel thought wryly.

Stopping briefly to purchase food for the human, they headed to the mansion.  Showing Xander around, then changing the sheets on the bed, Angel dithered, looking wildly around for something else to show the boy.  Anything to keep from leaving.  

“Go…” came a soft command.  

The vampire looked desperately at his boy, his expression filled with pain and regret.  “Go…you have a great, big destiny thing waiting for you out there,” Xander stated gently, hiding his pain behind a smile.  “Sunrise will be in a few short hours and you need to be out of here and on your way.”

“I…I…can stay…and leave…uhm…at sunset!” Angel stated with inspired glee.  He started for the young mortal.  Only to have Xander hold up a hand firmly, stopping him in his tracks.

“Angel…if you touch me, you and I both know you'll find some other excuse not to go,” Xander said evenly.  “So you need to leave NOW…and don't look back.”


“GO…!” Xander yelled brokenly, his hands fisting at his sides.  He blinked rapidly to clear his eyes of tears.  “GET OUT and find your fuckin' redemption…!”

Angel drew back, his face tormented as tears won the battle and fell down his boy's face.  He stepped back again, his face in the shadows.  Another step, then another.  

And somehow, Xander knew Angel was gone.  Moving like a weary old man, he stumbled to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed.  Curling into a ball of misery, his chest aching with the need to wail like a baby, he finally began crying, muffling his sobs in the pillow.

For four long, anguished days and nights he languished in the bed.  Feeling more dead than alive.   He couldn't even bring himself to go see Willow, Buffy or Giles.  Especially Buffy, he winced.  Now that he was back, the guilt of loving Angel was nearly killing him.  Which deepened his depressed mood.  

Occasionally, he would get up and desultorily heat a can of soup.  But he would only eat half a bowl before pushing it away and retreating back to the safe, comforting haven of the bed.  Wallowing in memories of him and Angel, together and making love.  

He snuck to his parents' house and retrieved his CD collection, and generally listened to Patsy Cline.  Damn, but that woman just didn't know how to be happy.  But right now, she suited his mood.  And his mood was one with the music of pain.  Especially `Crazy'.  

Love that runs away from me
Dreams that just won't let me be
Blues that keep on botherin' me
Chains that just won't set me free
Too far away from you and all your charms
Just out of reach of my two empty arms

It wasn't really the sex that he missed the most; it was the long conversations by the fireside.   Sex with Angel was mindblowing and out of this world, but it was the laughter, the discussion of books, the quiet contented silence just listening to the crackling of the flames that he craved.  

It was the nights that were the worst.   Sometimes he would wake up, his dick rigid, throbbing and aching like a bitch and he would have to jerk off to relieve the painful tight pressures.  Then there were times when he woke up from a particularly erotic dream of him and Angel making love, and find the sheets wet and soaking from his ejaculation.

Each night in dreams I see your face
Memories time can't erase
I awake and find you gone
I'm so blue and all alone
So far away from lips so sweet and warm
Just out of reach of my two empty arms

That ol' lonesome feelin' all the time
I know you'll never be mine
Dreams that hurt me in my sleep
I mean vows that we just couldn't keep

Too far away from you and all your charms
Just out of reach of my two empty arms

He felt like he was in the pits of hell, languishing after his departed lover.  Fortunately, he had good ole Jaile to kick his ass back to the world of living.


Sauntering into the mansion, the slender Erosno demon compassionately regarded the mournful young man.  Resting his hands on the mattress, he smiled gently when the red, teary eyes of the boy met his.  

Then giving a strong yank, he tossed the mattress and flipped Xander out of the bed.  

“Ooompf…!” With a painful audible thud, Xander hit the floor.  For a few seconds, he saw bright stars dancing and tiny birds circling in front of his eyes.  He lay there, catching his breath and wondering when the fuck did reality change because the Jaile HE knew wouldn't be trying to kill him.

Calmly Jaile walked around the bed.  Crouching, he regarded the wheezing boy with sympathetic eyes, before rising to his feet.  

“Get up…you stink like week old fish!” he nudged Xander with his foot.  Then harder when the boy didn't move.

“Either you get up now, or I'll kick you until you do,” he threatened softly.  An unmistakable promise of painful mayhem in his silvery eyes.

Coughing and sputtering, Xander rolled over and staggered to his feet and regarded the demon with astonished eyes.  “What the fuck…?” he breathed raggedly.  His muscles trembling from the four days of inactivity.

“Go take a shower, change clothes and come down to the kitchen,” the sleek-skinned demon casually tossed over his shoulder.  He ignored the sputtering from the boy.  Then he turned around.  “If you think about crawling back into that filthy bed, I will beat you.  Very, very hard.  And then I will shove your stinky ass into the shower.  So you choose how it will be…” he raised a brow inquiringly.  Waiting with cool, inhuman patience and smiling approvingly, when Xander lurched towards the bathroom.  

His smile widened, such a good boy.  He smirked at the annoyed slam of the door.

Muttering dire imprecations about mean, evil demons, an angry Xander, after washing thoroughly, stumbled to the kitchen.  His nose, twitched at the delightful smells wafting from the pots on the stove.  

Jaile turned from looking out of the window at the distinctively, now pleasantly smelling boy.  “That's better…”

Ladling food into two bowls, he set one in front of Xander and quietly ordered the young man to eat.  

To Xander's surprise, he polished off well over half the bowl within minutes before his stomach protested.  Sitting back, he sighed in satisfaction.  Then catching Jaile's amused eyes, he stiffened, recalling the abrupt way he was thrown out of bed.

“Hey, what gives…?” he snapped, annoyed at the calm smile the other gave him.

Jaile sipped at his coffee.  “Some of your friends were becoming worried about you,” he replied mildly.  “They sent for me to `talk' some sense into you.”

Xander blinked.  “Friends…?” he asked cautiously, now recalling the disturbing sensation of being watched these past few days.

Clinging to the ceiling, an insectlike Warrior shimmered into view, dropping its' camouflage.  It's thorax was decorated fanciful with red and purple colored beads.  It was D'Kur, the one that always seemed to be nearby in Undervale.  Flipping, it dropped to the floor and chirped anxiously, peering at the startled mortal with faceted eyes.  Reaching into its' pouch, it pulled out a piece of chocolate and this time, simply extended it to its' human charge.  

Xander's eyes softened.  He looked at Jaile, then at the D'Kur.  “Friends…” he repeated softly, agreeing with the warrior.  It was one of the few sounds he recognized that the insect Warriors used.  He took the chocolate, struggling to smile.

“You're part of their family…” Jaile said quietly.  “Did you think we didn't care?  Angel made the best decision he felt he could make for the both of you.   Good or bad, he's only looking out for what's best for you: trying to keep you safe.”

The young man looked down.  “Yeah, I kinda figured that.  I've always been the weak link,” he laughed bitterly.  “It's not like I got any fighting skills or anything.”

Jaile set down his cup and leaned forward, smiling mysteriously.  “Then why not change…?”

Xander's head came up quickly.  His eyes narrowed on the glittery bright smile on the demon's face.  Slowly he smiled as well.

In the three months Xander was below, the remaining Scoobies went through some radical changes.   While the note that Angel left Giles was comforting, not even Buffy was deluded enough to believe it.   Although she quietly maintained Angel's innocence, she still searched diligently for the missing Xander.

And the stress of not being able to locate Xander, or Angel for that matter begin to affect the group.  But it was the absence of Xander, Oz slowly awoke to the fact, that had a pronounced effect on the remaining members.  Willow was gradually retreating into nervous, stuttering silence and Buffy became a snapping, aggressive Slayer.  He was both worried and alarmed at the changes he saw in them, yet helpless in the face of the developing situation.  

Even Giles, he was amazed to see, was acting atypical of his calm, English tweedself, displaying a disturbingly frightening temper.   Wearing jeans and a black leather bomber jacket, Oz was horrified to see.  All three were acting like they had lost a vital piece of themselves.  

Eccentric he may be, but it didn't take a mental genius to figure out the `why' of they were acting the way they were.  Maybe they were too close to the problem, maybe they just didn't understand that without Xander as a…buffer or…or a connecting piece, they were slowly regressing back into who and what they were.  

There was a terrifying source of tension building between the two girls that had Oz and his inner wolf on edge.  Whining softly and aching to bite somebody.  Preferably a Buffysomebody, but anybody would do.

It had all boiled to a head two months after Xander's disappearance.  

They were sitting in Giles' living room, wearily going over what search pattern they would use to locate Xander.  Willow had failed spectacularly in their efforts to use magic to find their friend, a fact that had Buffy smirking.  

Long buried feelings of bitter anger at the shy, redheaded witch was rising in her.

“Oh, why don't we have Willow do another magic spell?” she exclaimed brightly, then frowned with patently false sympathy.  “Oh, yeah, that's right, she's not very good with the Samantha Stevens.”

Willow flushed, nearly stammering as she protested that she was just a beginning witch.  She looked like she wanted to run and hide.  

“I know…” Buffy nodded wisely, ignoring Giles' warning glare at her.  Her eyes were fixed on the upset face of her `friend'.  “Why if you were any good, you would have been able to do the spell to re-curse Angel.”  Bitch! She silently added.

Willow girl blinked rapidly.  “But I did…I did do the spell!  Didn't I, Oz?!” she turned anxiously to her boyfriend who nodded in confirmation.  “Xander must have got there too late to tell you to stall.  I'm sorry…” she squeaked, tears painfully bright in her eyes.

Buffy froze, a dangerous hardness coming in her eyes.  “Excuse me…?  You told Xander WHAT?!”

“Uhm…that I was doing the Restoring Spell that Miss Calendar had translated, he was supposed to tell you to stall Angelus until the spell kicked in,” Willow said in confusion, shrinking back in her chair when Buffy exploded from her chair.  Filling the air with vicious curses so vile that her mother would have treated her the old-fashioned way and washed her mouth out with soap.

“That…lying piece of…ooooooh, when I get my hands on him,” Buffy stormed.  She whirled around with angry, clenched teeth.  “He told me that you said, and I quote `kick his ass', end quote.”

Willow paled alarmingly, her eyes wide and bright.  “But…I never…I wouldn't…”

“D'uh…!” Buffy snapped turning away.  “God, I stabbed Angel and sent him to hell because of what that spiteful, jealous bastard said,” she said despairingly, stumbling to a chair and holding her head in her hands.  Hot tears of remorse and pain, dripping down her white strained face.   “He lied to me, Giles…he lied…oh God, he lied!” she moaned softly in anguish, teetering between rage and despair.

Giles went to her, soothing words of comfort as he drew his sobbing Slayer to his chest.  Willow huddled against Oz, trembling in disbelief at how Xander had willfully used her, used her `voice' to make Buffy send Angel to hell.  Did he hate Angel that much she asked herself, and sighed at the answer that came.  Yes.

But behind Oz's stoic face, his mind was racing.  Worrying at a sense of wrongness in Buffy's words.

The blonde slayer pulled away from her Watcher.  “I'm sorry Giles, but I won't…” she shakily began, her chin quivering, “I can't be a party to looking for Xander right now.  If I found him, right now, I don't know what I would do to him,” she said painfully.  Her eyes lowered in shame at the thought of willfully hurting a human.  Not just any human but a human that was once her friend.  Because with this knowledge running through her head, she just couldn't think of Xander as a friend any longer.  

He entered the category of unfriend, she solemnly thought.

“That's quite all right, the rest of us will find him.  Perhaps there's a logical and reasonable explanation,” Giles replied comfortingly, but there was a helpless note of confusion in his voice as he ruminated on the young boy.  While Xander was sometimes frustratingly annoying and grating, especially towards the vampire, he couldn't quite grasp the fact that Xander could possibly do something THIS spiteful.  

So while Buffy patrolled, Oz, Willow and Giles continued the search for their companion.  Giles would sometimes accompany his Slayer on her patrols, while Willow and Oz searched for Xander.  Or sometimes, on days that Oz had a late night session with his band, Willow paired up with Giles, leaving Buffy to patrol alone.

Coming into the third month, even Willow tentatively allowed the idea that Xander wouldn't be found.  At least, not alive in the alivelike way she liked to see her Xander be.  Alive in an unvampire like way, which would be…dead, not alive, caused vampires were, not.  Her words a nervous rush of sound, terror and dread eating slowly at the hope of finding him.

Oz sighed as he clambered into his van.  Leaning tiredly back against the seat, he groaned.  Exhilarated, yet weary beyond belief, he smiled, remembering just how rockin' the band had sounded tonight.   Then his smile faded, a look of despair seeping into him.  

College was beginning in two days.  It was slowly becoming clear that two things were going to happen: either they found Xander, and the group reformed into some type of working order; or…

“…Willow will go insane,” he whispered the dark thought out loud.  Acknowledging the claim the other boy had on his girlfriend's heart.  That Willow loved him, he had no doubt; that Willow also loved Xander, now that was harder to face.  As mad as she was right now with the dark-haired boy, she loved him fiercely.   That's what was really causing his girlfriend to almost spiral out of control.  Trying to reconcile her furious anger with her love.  As many times as he tried to tell her that you COULD be angry and love someone, he didn't think she was listening.  Or understood that significant fact just yet.

He absently started the van and began slowly driving.  It wasn't a romantic love that Willow felt for Xander, it was like there was a missing piece of her soul that was shaped like the absent boy.  And while he was gradually making inroads on adapting that place in her heart to fit him, he wasn't certain he would be in time to stop Willow's down…he frowned abruptly and sharply pulled the van over to the curb.

Sniffing the air, his senses sharper with the coming of the full moon in another week, he stumbled out of the van.  Tracking the familiar scent, his eyes widening at the sight of the mansion in front of him.  

But the scent was fresh, he silently protested in bewilderment.  His eyes narrowing slightly, he strode to the door and politely knocked.  Just like his mama taught him.

Xander's head came up from the book he was reading at the knock on the door.   Two weeks and he was still afraid to face his human friends, especially the Buffy friend.  The fact that they were both ex-lovers of the same man was not something he was easy about revealing.  

Sometimes secrets were secrets for a damn good reason.  And they also kept you from getting an old-fashioned ass kickin' from a pissed-off slayer, he thought ruefully as he crossed the room to answer the door.  He was halfway expecting company in the form of Jaile coming to give him more sparring lessons.  

He looked down in nervous dread at the sight of Oz on the doorstep.  “Oz…dude…uhm
…hello…?” he managed to stammer out.

Oz regarded the anxious Xander in the doorway with his usual deadpanned expression.  “I was in the neighborhood, selling Girl Scout cookies for my troop and I thought, `Hey, that's an interesting house, wonder if the big, nasty vampire that lives there would like to buy some cookies?' and here I am.”  He strolled past Xander, into the house and looked around, inhaling various scents and odors.   He fixed his attention on a certain spot on the far wall, and came to the conclusion that he had better not make any sudden moves towards Xander.  

Xander blinked and looked at Oz, wondering at the boy's tenuous grasp on reality.  “But you're not a girl…” he pointed out reasonably.

Oz looked down then back up.  He turned to look at Xander.  “I'm undercover…”

“Ahhh,” Xander said wisely, eyeing the smaller teen warily.  He shut the door, and gave it a sorrowful look.  

Oz gave the taller young man a serious look over his shoulder.  “What happened…and don't bother to lie.”  He kept his voice calm and low, while carefully keeping part of his attention faced forward, just in case he needed to make a break for it.

Xander deflated, he ran a hand roughly over his face.  “Sit down…” he gestured to a chair, bought with some of the money Angel had left him.

He hesitated, unsure of how much to tell Oz and decided to tell as much as he could without going into details.  Especially about Undervale.  Though a supernatural creature, he wasn't exactly sure where Oz's loyalties would lie: topside or below.

“After I left Giles' that night, I…decided that I would rid Sunnydale of Angel's `evil',” he began, adding the little bunny quotes, “Presence.   Fortunately, Angel was in a generous mood and chose not to…damage me too much.   He thought me really lacking in certain practical knowledge about the demons and decided to…uhm…educate me, you could say.   Some of the lessons were brutal, and painful.  VERY painful at times…but I learned.”  As he spoke, he picked at the pair of brand new pants he was wearing.  Grimacing slightly at the dark, sleek materials.  Jaile didn't trust him to buy anything, he groused silently.  All his new shirts were annoyingly tight, and not one loud, garishly bright color among them.

Oz calmly regarded Xander, his eyes cool on the fidgeting young man as he deciphered what was carefully NOT being said and what the odors of the house was telling him.  Every time Xander mentioned Angel's name, a certain scent would fill the air.  

Looking around the room again, his eyes paused on an empty spot on the floor near Xander before moving on.  

He nodded to himself, coming to a wild, improbable conclusion.  “So, you and Angel…?” he tossed out casually, his eyes watchful on Xander's still face.  His eyes narrowed on the faint tide of color that washed over Xander's cheeks.

“You and Angel are or were lovers…” he stated firmly.  Abruptly holding up a hand when Xander opened his mouth.  “Look, I'm not judging you…you and Angel…not my problem.  `Sides, you're as much of an adult as...everybody else,” he said vaguely.  Then his expression hardened slightly.  “But Willow is my…” was all he managed to say when Xander gasped, his face paling.

“Willow…!  Is she okay?  I'm sorry, I just…I couldn't face her…I just needed time to get a grip on myself…” Xander said anxiously, clear worry in his eyes.  

And Oz relaxed.  For a brief time he had wondered if Xander cared about Willow as much as his witchy girlfriend cared about the other.  “Yeah, she's just missing you…” he replied softly, gently.  Smiling at the relief that filled Xander's eyes.  

He looked away from the shining expression in the boy's eyes, his smile fading.  “But…” he hesitated, unsure how to tell the other what was going on.

Xander frowned, his eyes darkening with fear.  He felt a smooth hardness touch his hand.  “But what?”

Oz looked back at the boy, his eyes revealing a quiet sadness.  “She knows…Buffy knows that you lied about Willow resouling Angel.”

Chapter 8

Oz looked at Xander, his eyes revealing a quiet sadness.  “She knows…Willow and Buffy knows that you lied about her resouling Angel.”

Xander paled alarmingly.  He turned so white, that Oz thought he was going to pass out.  Then the smaller teen became really alarmed when Xander began gasping for breath, his eyes standing out in his ghostly face like burning coals.

There was a shimmer beside the gasping boy, and a large buglike creature chittered, the sound somehow conveying an anxiousness to Oz's ears.  Then touching Xander's face a low melodious humming vibrated through the room.  The spikey haired teen was astonished to find that it was coming from the insect.  

“Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit…” he murmured in disbelief.  His face reflecting all his surprise to see Xander…Xander Harris, demon hating, bug-stomping Scooby suffering the touch of demon.  He smirked, looks like Xander's doing more than just allow a `touch'.  Especially with Angel.

Then his smirk disappeared.  Buffy was going to KILL Xander.  Despite her repeated claims that she wasn't in love with Angel, only a blind, noseless person would believe that load of baloney.

He settled back and watched the amazing scene.  But he knew it in his bones, just like he knew the instant the full moon rose, there was going to be trouble.  A trouble that may be the undoing of the tight bonds of kinship that made up the odd family of a sort that found solace and strength in each other.  While he had very little problem with Buffy and her subconsciously possessive outlook, and normally he would be silently propping her up just like everyone around her did, even if he did think she was one french fry short of a Happy Meal.  Because of her duties, he felt like she deserved to be a little…egotistical and believe that she was definitely that important to the world.  Hell, he wouldn't want her job!  However, he knew that she was going to have a conniption over the fact that two of HER `orbs' no longer revolved around her.   

It was going to be especially hard when her greatest satellite no longer reflected her light back at her, and it looked like the tiny ignored moon on the outskirts of her universe was getting what belonged to `her'.


Xander shuddered and shook as he struggled to breathe, struggled not to give into the panic that was trying to drag him under.  He dropped swiftly down, pulling a memory of him and Angel, sitting on the rocks and watching the waterfall gush into the stone basin below.   Listening to the laughter and shrieks below them as kids and adults splashed and played in the water.  Phosphorescent lichen glowed at their level, and further down, torches were set into niches in the rocky walls.

Gradually his panic receded, his efforts to breathe slowly coming back.  He took a long dragging breath, smiling absently as D'kur nibbled gently at his cheek as he became aware of Oz's calm, waiting face.  He grimaced slightly at revealing his weakness.  “Sorry, just a lingering problem with breathing,” he said briefly.

Oz nodded wisely.  “Yeah, I kinda have that problem too.  Matter of fact, I think the entire world has a bit of difficulty with breathing.  Don't breathe…don't live.  Except for vampires…they kinda got that problem licked what with being dead and all.”  

Xander glared at the boy, but there was a humorous twitch to his lips.  “Yeah, but they still have that dead issue going.”

The spikey-haired teen shrugged carelessly.  “Hey, I didn't say it was fool-proof,” he protested mildly.

Both young men had faint smiles on their faces.  Then slowly their looks sobered.  “So, what are you gonna do?”

“Hide…” Xander stated firmly, nodding decisively.

Oz gave him a sardonic look.  “Suuuurrrre.  Yeah, Angel's mansion is the absolutely LAST place she would ever come,” he said with mock seriousness.

The other youth deflated.  “Yeah…there is that bit of problem,” he admitted reluctantly.  “Uhm, just how mad do you think Buffy is right now with me?” he asked in a small voice.

“On a scale of 1 to 10?” Oz raised a brow.  And at Xander's anxious nod, he added, “Man she's gonna go off the Richter Scale.”

It took another week before Xander summoned the courage to face his friends.  He left brief notes in their mailboxes, informing them he was back but that was about as far as he could force himself to go.  Cowardly as he knew his behavior was, he just didn't want to see hatred and disgust in their eyes now that the scales had fallen from his eyes.  It was deserved, but he wanted to hold on to his feeling of goodness for as long as he could.  

He managed to wring a reluctant promise from Oz to remain silent about his whereabouts, but the other teen warned him that he would remain quiet for only a short time.  And if anybody asked him, he wouldn't lie.

Unfortunately, events took a far different turn than what he intended.

Racing through the darkened streets of Sunnydale with Jaile and a couple others enlisted to train him, Xander used his quarterstaff to hurtle himself over a fence.  Landing lightly he simply kept running.  Not flat out, because he would need his strength to defend himself when they caught up with him.  That they would, he had no doubts.  Youst had the speed a cheetah would turn green with envy, he thought with hot resentfulness.  The only thing that was keeping him out of their clutches was they were still unfamiliar with the streets above and he was able to dodge them.  

However, unbeknownst to him, Buffy and the others, in a rare cohesive unit had been patrolling and came across a group of demons sacrificing a human.  Exchanging horrified looks, they leaped to attack.  Momentarily, the element of surprise was on their side as they beat the large, armor-plated creatures back.  But as with all good things the tide swiftly changed, and not in their favor.  How could something that huge be so fast was all Buffy had time to think before a hammer-like limb slammed into her chest, throwing her several feet into the air.  And when she fell, a gravestone conveniently prevented her from landing on the nice soft ground.  

“BUFFY…!” Willow screamed, her eyes large with fear.  None of her magics were working, and she yelled again, grabbing a chunk of broken gravestone and charging at the demon about to pound on Giles.

For her troubles, she was ignored as if her blows were a gnat challenging a human to fisticuffs.

At Willow's distinctive scream of alarm, Xander put on the brakes and slid to a stop, nearly falling to the ground.  Scrambling, his hand extended on the ground for balance, he whirled in that direction, he charged to the rescue.  His face grim and intent on doing some serious asskicking damage to ANYBODY that messed with his Wills.  

Putting on an extra burst of speed at her thin yell, he heard a high-pitch, inhuman scream of rage.  Jumping over a headstone, his startled eyes took in the situation.  

A flick of his eyes identified the situation at a glance.  His jaw tightened at the sight of Buffy struggling furiously with a Pentra demon, Giles valiantly holding his own, while Oz and Willow were fighting back to back.  Another glance showed a man lying on a slab of granite still breathing, another man lying, very much in the non-breathing way.  

Fighting against her large opponent Buffy was surprised to see Xander burst onto the scene.  Their eyes met, and despite her intense anger at him she knew he wasn't so lost that he wouldn't throw what little help he could into the fight.  Confident, she turned her attention back to hammering at the demon.

All this, Xander took in with a split second of his attention.  Then he acted, knowing that time was critical.  Running to the still breathing man, he ignored the bellow from the Pentra and scooped up the fallen censer.  

Gritting his teeth against the burning pain the chains inflected, he stood over the man and began speaking aloud the multiplication tables, moving the small object back and forth over the man's body, trailing calming incense.  The multiplication table was the only thing he halfway knew by heart.  Besides, the words were unimportant, only the tone and how he modulated his voice.

“XANDER…!” Buffy screeched.  Her voice was joined by Giles' harsher bellow of furious rage and disappointment.  Like Buffy, he had seen the boy arrive and knew Xander would help.  If only as a distraction by getting thrown to the side.  But to his angry shock, Xander was actually HELPING the creatures!

“Xander, you bloody idiot…!”

But the young man ignored their outcries; his attention focused only on the terror-filled eyes staring up at him.  Slowly the fear receded in the grey eyes, gratitude eclipsing the terror that had begun to slice through the man's being.

Tears now leaking from his eyes as the chains burned into his flesh, Xander's voice began to falter.  Quickly subduing Willow and Oz by twisting the boy's arm painfully forcing Willow to her boyfriend's side, the male Pentra hurried forward, adding his deep masculine tenor to the human's chanting.  Carefully he removed the chains from the human.

“Xander, how could you…?” Willow whispered in disbelief, kneeling beside her groaning boyfriend.

The Pentra fighting Giles abruptly pushed him away and hurried over to the chanting duo.  Reaching them, she took Xander's hands and stuck them in her mouth.  Her tongue bathing his flesh with cooling saliva as he continued to chant.  He almost collapsed from the cessation of pain, but she held him up easily, then sank down with him in her lap.

It was the least she could do.

The human on the granite slab gasped, his eyes staring upward in a fixed stare.  Then he exhaled with a harsh explosion of breath.  His chest burst open, and out came a tiny baby Pentra.  It wailed piteously, then attempted to leap on Xander's head, but was snagged in mid-leap by its' father.  The hulking demon's back split apart, and he tucked the wailing child into a wet, slick pouch.  There it would remain, growing to the size of a German Shepard, living off its' father's store of fatty tissue that the Pentra converted from food.  In several months, a young Pentra would emerge from his or her father's pouch to take their place in society.

Giles stood up slowly, he was so furious with Xander that he was near shaking with rage.   To go from one extreme to the next, what the bloody hell was the boy THINKING?!

With a final apologetic lick at the human's hands, the female stood carefully up, lowering the mortal to the ground.  Removing his hands, she peered warily at the other humans, halfway tempted to snatch the little human up and run away with her mates.  

Xander sighed, his mouth turning down.  You dumb idiot!  You screwed things up again, he thought savagely to himself.  But it was for a good reason, he thought weakly.  They…
Just didn't know what they were doing.

He stepped away from the reassuring bulk of the Pentra and gave the Scoobies a half-hearted smile.  “Uhm, hi guys…”

Without a word, other than disgusted contemptuous eyes, they turned and walked away.  Oz gave him a puzzled, disappointed look over his shoulder before accepting Willow's help to leave.

Jaile and the others stepped out of the shadows where they had been standing in case their friend required their assistance.  They watched the humans leave with solemn eyes, then they turned to Xander.

“I'm thinking for a first contact that didn't go too well,” Youst quipped, rustling his quills.  Jaile calmly reached between the boy's quills and, with unerring accuracy, popped his finger against a particularly sensitive spot on the youth's skull.

Ignoring the boy's yelp of pain, Jaile regarded his young human friend.  “Will you follow them?  Explain what just happened…?” he prodded when it looked like Xander wasn't going to speak.

Quietly the Pentra demons gathered their humans' bodies and silently departed, while the male pondered carefully on how to repay the boy.

“Reckon so…don't think things could possibly get much worse,” the boy muttered and turned to slouch towards where he knew the Scoobies were going.  

Sudden pain at the back of his head had him turning around with a wounded look.  Rubbing the sore spot he glared at the composed demon.  “What the hell…?”

“Straighten up when you walk, boy.  I've taught you better…” Jaile responded coolly.

“Sheesh… Mom much…?” Xander muttered beneath his breath as he assumed a proper posture.  Too bad he forgot what excellent hearing an Erosno demon had.  The next smack sent him forward a few steps.  The others shadowed the grumbling youth to the human's house.

At Giles', Willow was attempting to doctor Oz's arm with shaking fingers.  She was near blinded by tears by Xander's actions.  Buffy was pacing back and forth, angrily muttering but wearing an expression of shocked disbelief at their friend's action.  Giles' had bypassed the tea and headed straight to the scotch.  Disdaining a glass he drank straight from the bottle, an expression of stunned disappointment in his eyes.  

There came a tentative knock at the door, and they stilled, somehow knowing who was outside.  With a set jaw, Giles levered himself from the chair and stalked to the door.  There was a fluid, deadly gracefulness to his stride that almost shook Buffy and the others out of their angry, sorrowful moods.  Exchanging glances, they just knew somebody was gonna get a spanking.

Yanking the door open, Giles face tightened.  A look of cold disgust and disappointment in his eyes at the young man on the other side.  “Yes…?” he said with frosty hauteur, peering down his nose at the youth, despite the fact that they were almost the same height.

Oh, this is going to be bad…BAD, I tell ya! Xander shrieked frantically to himself.  He shivered, almost tempted to run back to the mansion but swallowed hard and squared his shoulders.

“C…ca…can I come in…?  Please…?”

Giles folded his arms and merely stared.  “Why…?  Do you have more of your demon friends waiting outside to kill us too?” he said acidly.

“Or maybe you've come to kill us instead?” Buffy yelled furiously from the other side of the room.  Her eyes bright with rage and contempt.

Xander flinched, his eyes taking on a bruised look that only Giles saw.  And the older man's eyes narrowed, his expression still cold, but his mind was reevaluating, struggling to come to grips with this version of Xander.  Three months ago, the boy would not have been caught dead helping a demon, yet tonight, he killed a man to help a demon.

Silently he stepped aside, opening the way for the boy to step through to Buffy's loud furious dismay.  Oz went totally still, turning his eyes to the ceiling when Xander stepped into the room.  Fuck!  He mentally cursed.  

Giles merely threw her a sharp look that effectively silenced her.

Xander nervously sat on the couch, his eyes lowered to avoid their condemning eyes.  “What you saw tonight wasn't what you think you saw…” he began abruptly, his knee jiggling up and down nervously.

“Indeed…?” Giles murmured dryly.  He was still standing after he had shut the door.  “I don't know what the others saw, but I saw three Pentra demons kill one man and they were about to kill another!  And what else I saw was YOU BLOODY WELL HELPING THEM!” he roared, coming to the crux of the matter.

“Long time ago, the Pentra demons were dying out because they were a little too…dumb.  Every child that they had was becoming increasingly stupid.  It was the way that they were breeding was what was causing the dumb down effect.  You see, the way they have a child is by injecting a mammal with their spawn.  Eventually the spawn hatches, which incidentally, kills the host.  The spawn assumes part of the intelligence and some memories of its' host as a trade off.”  Xander half-whispered, still looking down and away from them.

“Let me guess...they discovered that humans would make excellent hosts…” Giles snarled harshly.

“Yeah sorta, but you see the Pentras really, REALLY don't like killing anything that can think.  They barely like killing the animals that their children hatch from.  They asked some of the smarter demons what they could do to stop having idiot kids, and the answer they got wasn't one they could live with.  So, as a whole, the Pentra's race decided on extinction rather than cause a sentient being to die unnecessarily.”

Now Xander looked up, meeting Giles eyes with a mature adult look that had never been on his face before.

“Excuse me?  You said extinction…?” Giles responded, tossed out of his furious rage at this unknown tidbit of knowledge.  “But…all the Watcher's diaries and journals repeatedly reference Pentras sacrificing humans to breed their spawn…!” he protested.

Xander shook his head.  “They were wrong.  Every person the Pentras implant their eggs is already dying.  That guy that you saw?  His name is Nelson Trevor.  He was in the advanced stages of leukemia.  His family was struggling with the mounting medical bills required for his chemotherapy.   They owed well over $150,000 alone in medical bills.  He had five kids, one of them with cerebral palsy.  They had a nice house, two cars and everything in between.  But with the medical expenses, they sold everything and started living in a three-bedroom apartment that they had to struggle to pay the rent.  But with his sacrifice, their debts are cleared.”

“They don't kill anybody.  What they do is bargain for the right to our bodies.  In exchange for wiping out the dying man's debt, plus an additional $50,000 to the family they offer a painless death to give their children life.  Not only are they financially taking care of Nelson's family while he's dying, but when he dies, they give the family more money.  And Nelson, or at least the memory of him, will live forever.

At their blank looks, Xander continued.

“See, once the baby is ready to be born, he or she secretes this numbing agent throughout the body.   This way, the human host won't feel a thing when the baby bursts out!”

“But…but they killed that other guy!  I saw that!  We all saw that…” Willow spoke up, her face still pale.  She wanted to believe him, but she remembered how those demons killed the other guy.

The dark-haired boy had a sad expression on his face.  “Yeah, there's a flip side to when a Pentra baby is ready to be born.  You remember how I said they really hated causing harm?  Well, when the baby's ready to be born, the chanting lets it know that it's safe to come out.  That its' mommies and daddy is waiting.  But the longer it waits, the more the numbing stuff starts wearing off and the host starts feeling pain.  And some of the babies, they sorta get off on causing pain.  The more pain, the better.  From what I understand, it's like heroin…only better.  Like I said, the Pentras REALLY have a problem with that.  So rather than endure a child with a hardon for causing pain, they kill it before it hatches.”

Giles looked appalled, and sat down heavily in a chair.  “So, by us interfering we…” he murmured a sick look in his eyes.

Xander nodded soberly, his eyes dark in distress.  “Yeah, they had no choice…” he said quietly.

“Well, I think you're lying!” Buffy yelled, her face turning dark and furious.  She was shaking, trembling as she listened to the malarkey that he had just spewed out.  And they were eating it up.  “Just like you lied about Willow doing the soul restoring spell…!”  She was breathing rapidly, glaring at him.  

“Buf…” Xander began to say but her loud, scornful voice broke in.

“Don't you Buffy me!  You lied to me…!  Me of all people!  And you involved Willow!” she cried, her face heavy with disappointment and contempt.

He lowered his eyes again, looking ashamed as remembered feelings of being unworthy in her presence overcame him.  He plucked at the loose weave of his pants.  “I'm sorry…” he mumbled softly.  But she heard, and laughed bitterly.

“Sorry…?!  All you can say is sorry…?”  And she laughed again, a wild tinge to her voice.  Then suddenly she was in front of him, yanking him to his feet.  Oz yelled for her to stop, even Giles and Willow cried for her to stop, though Oz had a different reason.

Xander's hand went up sharply to them all as he stared down into Buffy's bitter, disappointed eyes.  “Yes, I said was sorry.  Angel's forgiven me.  I just hope you …”


His head jerked sharply to the right from the force of her blow.

“Does that feel like forgiveness?  Maybe I should do it again, ya think?  Maybe you'll get the message: THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS!”  Buffy hissed venomously.  She raised her hand again to deal him another hard smacking.

“And maybe if you lower your hand right this second, then maybe you'll get to live another day,” came a cool voice from the now open door.

“Jaile…” Xander half groaned, half whined.  “I'm handling this…”

But the silvery demon never took his eyes off Buffy as he sauntered in.  “Dear boy, I am not the threat…” he said mildly, pointing at the ceiling.

“Crap…” Xander moaned at the slight thud as the insectlike warrior, D'kur landed.  It chittered ominously, cocking its' head at Buffy who was still standing, her hand frozen in the air in astonishment.

“An Erosno…” Giles breathed, his eyes large with disbelief at the slender, black-clad silvery demon.  His eyes turned to Xander, incredulity in his eyes that Xander…
XANDER knew an Erosno demon.   In sudden thought, he pinched himself.  Maybe this was all a dream.  A really horrible nightmare.

He jumped at the pain.  No dream was this.

“D'kur, you were supposed to wait for me outside…” Xander chided his bodyguard gently.  Some days he wasn't precisely sure just how much English it knew.  Other days, he was pretty sure D'kur knew exactly what he was saying and just chose to pretend ignorance so it could do what it wanted.   Which in retrospect wasn't a bad plan, he decided.

“What the hell…?” Buffy stammered.  She backed away from the bugcreature, visions of the Praying Mantis lady coming back to haunt her.  God!  She HATED bugs!  Especially when they were big enough to step on her ass.

“Anyway, like I said before.  Angel and I had a long talk…and he's gotten past what I did.  I…I hope that maybe you can too, Buffy,” Xander turned back to the tiny blonde.  He had a wistful tone in his voice, but her face hardened, cold rejection in her eyes.  

“Wills…” he turned to his best friend.  “I'm sorry for getting you involved in my lie…I just hope that you can forgive me too,” he said quietly.  Willow had a look of indecision on her face, then she dropped her eyes.  Not rejecting, but she needed time to think.

“Give me time,” Buffy heard Willow say to Xander with an air of disbelief.

“Willow…” the blonde growled threatening.  But Willow looked at Buffy, uncowed.  She had an opportunity to get her Xander back, if she could get past the lying.  Even if she couldn't, she hoped they could still build something from the ashes of their past relationship.  

“Get off my back…this is my decision, not yours.  You can stay mad all you want at him, but you do NOT tell me how I should feel or behave.”  There was a strength, a resolution in her face that took Buffy aback in surprise.  Her lips tightened into a thin bloodless line at the unspoken challenge inherent in Willow's voice and eyes.

“Giles…whenever you're ready…I'm staying at Angel's.  He's loaned me the mansion until I get on my feet again.  Apparently, my parents took exception to my little vacation and threw me out,” he said with a wry lift of his lips.

“Oh…” Giles blinked, unsure of how to respond.  “Would you care…I mean, I have the sofa…?” he said tentatively.  His meager offering was rewarded by a bright smile, not quite as wide or merry as three months ago, but it certainly made him feel better.  

“GILES…!” Buffy rounded on her older friend in disbelief.

“My house, my decision…” he said sternly, looking at her.  

Jaile gave Giles a long, slow look over his shoulder.  Xander gaped as they went out the door.

Giles felt his cheeks warm at Xander's words as the trio left his apartment.   “You were macking on Giles,” came the boy's astonished voice.  “Don't try to deny it!  You were definitely casting him come-hither looks!  You can't mack on him…he's…he's old
and so not interested in sex.  Especially sex with a demon.”

“Lovely boy, there's not a man or woman, human or otherwise, that can resist ME,” came a smooth, silky voice.

“But he's Giles….” came a faint protest.  “Now you're putting thoughts of naked Giles in my head…ewwwww!  I'm gonna hafta scrub my brain out when I get home,” the boy exclaimed.

“Don't worry, I may just save you the trouble,” Jaile remarked placidly, a low undertone of warning in his voice.

Giles hurried to the window, resolutely ignoring Oz's smirk.  Drawing aside the curtain, he peered outside.  A thoughtful hum coming from his lips at the group of demons surrounded Xander.  Even from here, he could sense an easy camaraderie that existed between Xander and the 10 demons strolling down the street.  He was vaguely aware of Buffy's raised voice behind him, but he ignored it for the time being.  Watching Xander  was certainly more interesting.   And he had to wonder, if he had been wrong about other people as well.

He felt a certain stirring in his pants when Jaile turned and looked at him again. The demon's smile a slash of blatant interest.   He shivered at the predatory look, and slowly lowered the curtain.

“…lied to me!” Buffy yelled at Willow, who looked away.  “Willow, he told me that you said `kick his ass'!”  She felt a surge of triumph when the redhead looked torn.

“Funny thing about the English language,” Oz said abruptly from his comfortable sprawl.  All three turned to look at him, drawn by something in his voice and eyes.  “Take for example the word `tear'.  It has two meanings, did you know that?  One means to rip apart, the other is what you shed from crying.”

Buffy rolled her eyes impatiently.  “And your point?”

He ignored her, focused on a particular trail of thought.  “Now both Giles and us, we all speak English, right?  But, things in American means something totally opposite in the place where they grow Giles”  The man in question heaved an exasperated sigh, but didn't interrupt the boy.  Oz didn't often say much, but when he did, his comments were pithy and to the point.  

“Biscuits are cookies there, a bonnet is the hood of a car, a lift is an elevator and a lorry is a truck.  BBCTV,” he said in an aside to his mystified listeners.

Oz met Buffy's eyes directly.  His cool and distant.  “And while I don't speak for Giles, but I sorta have a feeling that in neither Americanish or Englandish does the phrase `kick his ass' mean stab him with a sword and push him into a hell portal.   I could be wrong.  But I'm not.”

At her goggling eyes he continued.  “From your own mouth you stated that Xander said `kick his ass' and to my way of thinking, that just means give Angelus an old fashion beat down.”

“But…he meant for me to kill him,” Buffy yelled, feeling confused by Oz's words.

His brows went up sharply.  “And you pick that particular time to listen to Xander?” the boy responded with soft incredulity.

Giles sat down heavily, and put his head in his hands.  Bollocks!   He eyed the bottle of Scotch wistfully.

“What are you trying to say…?” Buffy demanded suspiciously.

Oz shook his head in dismay.  Definitely not the brightest light on the porch.

“That perhaps you should have simply slid the sword across his palm instead of stabbing him, then thrown the sword into the portal?  All that was needed was Angel's blood, not his whole body,” Willow suggested quietly.

The slight blonde flushed darkly.  “So now it's all MY fault?!  Xander lied…”  She growled, circling back to the main point and ignoring everything else.

“And you ran away…” Oz pointed out, a growl of his own in his voice.

“You KNOW why…why I ran…I…couldn't handle…I was only 17!  What the hell did you expect from me?!” Buffy cried out, looking from one blank face to another.

There was no condemnation in Willow's eyes as she looked at her friend.  If she condemned Buffy, then she condemned Xander.  “And how old was Xander…?  I believe we are all the same age.  Yet you seem to expect more from him than for us to expect from you,” Willow replied in a distant voice.  Xander lied, but Buffy ran away and left them to struggle on their own.  

“Willow…you…you said you understood…” Buffy stammered.

The young redhead nodded.  “I did, and still do.  But I can't help but feel that if WE thought about what happened and came to this conclusion…what ideas do you think Angel may have come up with for him to forgive Xander?” she said delicately.

Buffy's face whitened slowly, a sick look in her eyes.  “Giles…” she exclaimed desperately.  

But he just shook his head, a look of pity in his eyes.  This time, he couldn't help.  

Meanwhile in L.A., Angel was waging his own war against a much more deadly enemy.  His memories of Sunnydale.  In particular, memories of Xander.  Every time he thought he had put the boy out of his mind, Xander would pop up.   An engaging grin on his face, a look of laughter and mischief sparkling in his eyes.  

What made things so bad was that it wasn't even their fabulous sex life that he was recalling…it was the little things.  Like how Xander liked to eat chocolate, savoring a piece in his mouth, a drugged look of bliss on his face.  Or Xander getting chased by Jilly after he had played a harmless prank on the Erosno girl.  Angel smiled at that memory, that silly boy conveniently forgot that Erosno demons were way faster than humans.

Mind blowing sex aside, Xander made him feel happy and full of life.  He had no illusions about who and what he was when he was around the boy; it was something he couldn't forget, not with that shadow gaze staring back at him.

But thoughts of Xander weakened him.  Made him sloppy and careless.  He was a warrior, a fighter for the Powers That Be…he had no time for sentimental weakness such as missing a lover.   He needed to be alert and ready for any coming foe and battle.  Resolute, stalwart…alone.   He had no place in his life for trying to be `one of the guys'.  He was a vampire, a demon that fought for the Powers of Light.  He couldn't afford `human' weaknesses; they simply held him back, preventing him from becoming what he knew he had to be.  

A lone warrior.

With ruthless discipline, he strove to banish Xander from his mind.  Clenched jaw, iron will was reflected in his dark, grim gaze as he sat behind his desk….

“Look, do you EVER smile…?  Just once…” Cordy pleaded with her brooding new boss.  He merely cast her a dark look and looked away.  “Fine!  Be that way…!” she snapped and stormed out of his office with a contemptuous toss of her hair over her shoulders.

Doyle looked up when the long-legged beauty stalked out of Angel's office.  He raised a brow mockingly.  “Didn't work, eh?”

Cordy threw herself into her chair and sulked.  “NO…” she pouted.  “Ya know, he's even more broody than ever…I mean, look at him.”  She waved a hand expressively at the office.  Doyle, as commanded, looked through the glass at their boss.  Angel's lip curled.  He got up and pointedly shut the door and pulled the cord on the vertical blinds.  Cutting off their view of him.

“See…?” she exclaimed triumphantly.  At Doyle's blank, uncomprehending look she rolled her eyes and tried to explain.

“In Sunnydale, when Angel got this broody he would never think to shut the door and close the blinds in his office so we couldn't see him.”

Doyle looked at her in confusion.  “He had an office in Sunnydale?”

“No…but that's not the point.  The point is, he would have tried to PRETEND not to be broodguy even though we all knew he was secretly brooding on the inside where we couldn't see him brood, because we had a unspoken rule that he wasn't allowed to brood around us, which would lead directly to dampening our youthful spirits and vigor,” she said patiently.  “If we got depressed, he got broodier, which lead to more depressing and by that time, not even Bronzing like maniacs could we make with the happy faces.  And you know depression causes wrinkles?!”  She exclaimed, looking profoundly upset.  

Doyle blinked and abruptly decided that looking like he understood was smarter than listening to her convoluted explanation.

Angel, hearing the entire conversation, smirked.  Feeling a brief bubble of laughter rise within him before he suppressed it.  If Cordy heard him laugh, she would be in his office in a heartbeat.  Give that girl an inch, and she'll immediately take a mile and charmingly convince you to build a mall full of designer clothes exclusively for her.

She was right.  But after 80 some odd years of being without much company, he had a right to brood, he thought with rising indignation.  She should try living off rats, living in a freaking sewer and eschewing human company and see if she didn't start brooding.

Why he even bothered to save her life he still didn't know, he groused silently.  Probably if that vampire had bit her, he would have broken a fang, he thought nastily of the spirited girl.  He immediately felt ashamed of himself.  Cordy meant well, she just…didn't understand and he wasn't too enthused about bringing to mind his beautiful, lovely, sweet funny boy.  

He sighed, relaxing back into his chair.  There was soft loving look on his face as he contemplated his memories of Xander.

“Ugh…creepy,” Cordy exclaimed softly peering through the keyhole.

“Cordy…” Doyle said urgently, trying to tug her away from the tiny opening.  “It's my turn…!”

Back in Sunnydale, Xander left the group alone.  Waiting to see if they could find it in them to forgive him.  Buffy, on the other hand was marshalling her forces to convince the others to ignore Xander.    

Below ground, Skoal was putting together his final plans to destroy his rival.  He smiled gently.  It was pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself, he thought proudly.  All he had to do was take a mate, who in turn would take him above.  Once above, he would kill Xander, kill his mate, and then he and Angel would be together.  He shrugged, maybe they would return below, maybe not.  He had no doubts as to his ability to convince Angel of anything once he was back in his vampire's bed.

There were just a few details to finalize, but things were progressing quite nicely.    He glanced at the beautiful creature lying beside him, sleeping so peacefully.  A look of gentle repose was on the demon's sleek, pale blue face.   He had been keeping company with Tomas ever since Angel had departed and knew the fierce k'Tosh demon adored him and loved him.   He ran his fingers through the gorgeous white, rain of hair. Picking up a handful, he allowed the heavy silk to fall back on the bed.  Playing with the sleek locks, his eyes rested with cool distant impartiality on his slumbering lover.  

Yes, definitely Tomas would have to die if he was to mate to Angel…Skoal mused thoughtfully.  Tomas may be inclined to share, but HE was not.

It took two more weeks for him to gain his objective and another two weeks for him to convince Tomas to move to the surface.  He submitted to the ritual of removing some of his memories of Undervale with easy grace.  He had nothing to lose.  He had already copied the various routes to the underground community.  If Angel got too testy with him, then he could always threaten  to reveal the location of Undervale to the Slayer.  Eventually Angel would come to see that they were made for each other.   There was a way around the spell the Elders had placed on his mind.

Beautiful, smart and ruthless.  He felt Angel would be pleased and proud of him.

They were a perfect match.

Above, Xander continued living without his best friends around.  But he was gradually making new friends, opening himself up and no longer relying on others to validate his existence.  He carried himself with a new self-confidence that drew others to him, and his infectious humor and zest for life kept them there.  

Wherever he saw Willow or Buffy across the street, he would smile and wave.  If they didn't return his greeting, he simply pretended they didn't see him.  

Willow on the other hand was going through a slow process of change.  She noticed the new, confident attitude Xander wore with the ease of practice.   And it occurred to her that he had changed, altered in some indelible way beyond her.  He didn't need them…she realized in shock.  Somewhere, Xander had grown up without her.  She couldn't help wonder what had happened to her friend, what events had re-shaped him into this mature version of the boy that once stole her Barbie doll?  How did he do it, and could he show her the path he took?

Angel returned from his meeting with the greyish-skinned Oracles, more puzzled than ever over their strange words.  He thought they would be pleased at his progress, at how he was turning himself into a lean, mean, warrior machine…

“Greeting Angel…to what do we owe the pleasure of your company?” the male said smoothly, gliding away from the female.  There was a cool look in his black on grey eyes.  

Angel blinked, feeling uneasy for some reason.  “I…I just wanted to report on the fight that we just had with the Mnlus,” he stammered.  Though he found it was surprisingly hard to fight the demons, but he had prevailed.  And he was proud that no human weakness intruded on his thoughts.

“We saw it all,” the female answered shortly, her eyes narrowing on his face.  Then she sighed, exchanging a pregnant look with her male, toga attired counterpart.  “Angel, it is our belief that you have mistaken matters and have come to a most unfortunate conclusion.  It is not necessary for you to become this grim, humorless warrior.  You were chosen because you truly wished to atone for Angelus' past deeds.  That has not changed.  What has changed is that you discarded a part of yourself that held much promise of making you truly a fearsome warrior in the Light's service.”

Angel frowned, not understanding what she was saying.

“Vampire, your weakness is your true source of strength.  You would do well to remember that fact before it's too late,” the male stated cryptically.  Twin gestures, and Angel suddenly found himself outside the post office.

“Okay, it's getting really strange,” he muttered to himself.

Two hours later Doyle had a vision.  A vision that sent Angel hurtling into the night, dread certainty that he would be too late clutching at him

Sauntering at Buffy's side, Willow vaguely listened to the inane chatter as they strolled along the campus pavement.  Allegedly they were supposed to be patrolling, but in reality it was just to give the blonde a chance to try to convince Willow that Xander was not someone they needed to associate with.

But she had a bitter feeling that it was a losing battle.  In fact, she suspected that she had already lost Willow.  She wasn't exactly the brainless, blonde she often pretended.  She noticed the changes in Xander when she saw him around town.  At first she was smugly certain that he would come running back to them, begging to be allowed to return.  But to her chagrin, he did neither.   It was unspoken, but she knew that if they forgave him, he would be happy; but if they didn't he would still be okay.  He was perfectly fine with or without them in his life.

She fell silent with a sidelong glance at her quiet, redheaded friend.  Finally admitting defeat.

“I'm going back to the dorm,” she announce abruptly. “You coming…?”

Willow started and looked at Buffy uncomprehendingly.  “Uhm, no…I…uhm…gotta meet…” she trailed off at the twist in her friend's lips.

“Well, I'll see you back at the room,” Buffy replied coolly and stalked away, taking out her bad temper on any vamps she encountered along the way.

It was too bad that she didn't turn around.  She would have seen Willow turn and lean towards the bushes, then tumble and disappear from view…

…thirty minutes later, Giles answered the door.  A vague, pleasant smile on his face.  His smile fading at the puff of powder that was blown into his face.  Instinctively inhaling, the room started spinning and his eyes rolled up in his head.  He collapsed to the floor, unconscious….

…it was the work of seconds to dupe Buffy and knock her out using the same powder used on Giles…

…Oz was more difficult.  Only coming to heel when the life of his girlfriend was threatened….

Whistling cheerfully, Xander happily bounced back to the mansion.  He was in exceptionally high spirits.  He, Xander Harris, was gainfully employed!

It wasn't a great job or anything like that, but dammit! it was a job and that's what was important.  While it was beyond cool living at the mansion, he couldn't stay there forever.  

He strode with careless enthusiasm into the mansion and came to an abrupt stop at the sight of Buffy, Willow, Giles and a growling Oz tied up.  ”Whoa…and rewind,” he exclaimed.

Then his eyes narrowed as a slinky blonde form sauntered from the kitchen.  A coldly amused expression in the blonde's green eyes.

“Skoal…what the fuck are you doing here?”  Xander yelled furiously, his face flushing with beginning fear.  Whatever the reason was, he knew there was going to be hell to pay.

“Why, can't I come up and see my two favorite lovebirds?” Skoal threw out mockingly.  He darted over to Willow and held a knife to her throat when Xander growled and took a step towards him.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk…no, no, no…there'll be none of that,” he stated with malicious humor.  His smile widening at the way Xander's face paled.  “Isn't that interesting…?  Here I was thinking the only one you loved was Angel and yet you're fond of this little cunt.”

Buffy blinked, slid her eyes towards the beautiful, young man.  “Loved Angel…?”  

Skoal cocked his head to the side and brightly regarded the blonde bitch.  “Yes,” he said pleasantly.  “Didn't Xander tell you about his torrid affair with Angel?  About the nights of passion when the neighbors couldn't sleep for their moaning and screaming?”  Despite himself, rage shook and his hand quivered, a thin line of blood oozing down Willow's throat.

“STOP IT, Skoal…!” Xander yelled, his eyes fixed on that line of blood.  But he was proud of his Wills, not once did she whimper.  He felt a bit sorry for Skoal once his little redheaded friend got free.  Willow didn't often get mad, but when she did…he planned to find the nearest foxhole and take cover.  With a box of popcorn, of course.

“Skoal, your fight's with me…so leave them out of it,” he tried to say with a degree of calm, wondering where his other friends were when he needed him.

“Xander and Angel…?” Buffy repeated in confusion, she spared a glance at Xander.  Her eyes darkening at the look on his face.  “You lying, backstabbing, two-faced, boyfriend-stealing BASTARD!” she screamed in furious denial.

Skoal smirked.  “Oops…and I supposed you also didn't know his soul is now permanent?”

“Skoal, I am so gonna kick your ass,” Xander said calmly, pushing up his sleeves.  “You are such a little bitch.  You're still obsessed because Angel fucked and dumped your skanky ass, and didn't want seconds.”

“Angel loves ME!  Not you…!” Skoal screamed whirling away from Willow to face Xander.  “I was there to comfort him when he came back from Hell.  I became everything he could ever dream of. “

Xander sneered, but his eyes were watchful.  “You don't even know what love is, you little prick.”  Like Skoal, he was ignoring the sputtering coming from Buffy.  Though he spared a glance to make sure Willow and Giles were okay.  Flushing at their wide, amazed eyes.

“I don't know what love is?  I DON'T KNOW?!  I changed my fucking hair to blonde to please him!  So don't you tell me I don't know what love is.  Everything I am, is because of love for him,” Skoal yelled through gritted teeth.  His hand tightening ominously on his knife.

Xander shook his head.  “Changing yourself to please him, that's not love, that's infatuation.  How could Angel possibly love you, if he doesn't even know you?  The real you…?”

Skoal froze, his eyes cooling, freezing as he took in Xander's meaning.  “I'm going to kill you, and then I'm going to kill your friends,” he announced quietly.

“You don't got the stones to kill me…” Xander scoffed, but his heart was thudding in fear.  What he had begun to suspect, he now knew.  Skoal was a freaking lunatic.

Skoal charged, moving with unexpected competent skill and agility.

But Xander had not spent the past few months just eating bonbons and chocolate.  He had been training with the best assassin in the demon world…Jaile.  Twisting with eerie grace, he avoided the blonde's initial attack; pulling a knife he secreted at his back and engaged the older boy in a dual.

Back and forth they fought.  With knives, feet, hands and teeth.  Buffy's mouth dropping open in shock at Xander's sharp economical movements, his skill and ability.  While not quite up to par with her, he showed some definite promise, she grudgingly thought.  He even had moves that she intended to immediately incorporate into her fighting style.

Snarling, Skoal jumped back when Xander sent his knife spinning to the floor.  Whirling, he put some distance between them and leapt, grabbing a sword off the mantel.  .  A venomous, maniac grin on his face, his true personality etched on his face, the blonde attacked with vicious enthusiasm.

A long silver sword sailed from the shadows, and landed neatly in Xander's hand.  He thanked Jaile with a short nod before meeting Skoal's sword with an awesome clang of metal.

The two young men danced across the floor.  Their faces grim and hard.   One fought for the possession of Angel, the other simply fought to stay alive.

Though somewhat evenly matched in ability and skill, Xander called upon all the dirty, underhanded lessons Jaile and the others were teaching him.  After all, he didn't have to be good…he just needed to be better than Skoal.

This fight was short, and abrupt.  Using a tricky, unexpected move Xander slashed first at Skoal's face, drawing a shrill scream of fury from the boy.  Then he aimed a blow at the blonde's arm.  With a loud scream of pain, the blonde dropped his weapon and fell to the floor, holding his dripping, bleeding arm.

He looked up at Xander, a hateful glare in his eyes.  Then looked around at the surrounding demons with angry eyes.  They were all on Xander's side…nobody ever stood up for him!  They only liked Xander!  Well, he would show them, he didn't need them.  He would still figure out a way to get Angel away from Xander's evil influence.

Jaile smiled proudly at his pupil, a little too showy for his liking but still effective overall.

Xander gave him a tired smile in return, allowing it to widen as he took in the other demons spilling into the room.  There were a lot, some he knew some he didn't.

He looked down at the beaten young man, recognizing that Skoal wasn't defeated, just…
temporarily checked.

“It's over Skoal, just let it go,” he pleaded hoarsely.  “Angel doesn't want either of us, so there's no reason why we need to fight.  You just go about your business and leave me alone.  Leave my friends alone.   Just get on with your life, and leave me to mine.  Angel doesn't want you, me or Buffy.  He doesn't want any of us.”

“He loves me…he just needs to be reminded of that,” Skoal grated out, his face tight with pain.  Carefully he stood up, trying to keep an eye on the demons and Xander at the same time.  He already knew that the repercussions of his actions would be devastating.  None of the demons would keep their mouths shut, and he would be lucky to escape with his life from his mate's furious anger.

Xander looked pityingly on the obsessed young man.  “What will you do if he doesn't want you?”  He paused and added deliberately.  “George Smith…that's your name, right?  You see I finally remembered where I've seen your eyes.  It was the blonde hair that kept throwing me.”  

He turned to Willow, who was gaping at the frozen young man.  “Will, you remember that awful fire when we were kids?    It was the…”

“…Smith's house!  Omigawd…I remember that!  That's all the adults were whispering about, how horrifying that the entire family had died in that.  But they always said that at least they died together…like a family,” she whispered still staring at George.  Mentally stripping the blonde hair away and replacing it with ordinary brown.

Jaile frowned, glancing at the motionless boy.  Skoal had a fixed, eerie smile on his face.  “But…his father was a demon…he's a half-blood!”

Youst scowled and shook his head.  “Nuh uh, my brother told me it was his mother that was a demon.”

From various demons, loud voices insisted that the father was the demon, while others insisted that it was the mother and some insisted that Skoal was just as human as Xander.  Slowly they awoke to the fact that the young man couldn't be all three.

“They never liked me,” George said dreamily.  “Especially mother.  She hated me more than anything.  Because I wasn't weak, like HIM!”  He spat out derisively.  There was a world of hatred and contempt in the blonde's voice.  “He was a pathetic, sniveling  little bastard.  Always licking the shit out of her ass.  He NEVER stood up to her.  Not when it counted.  If that bitch said jump, he would only ask “how high?” on his way up.  She was always on my case about some stupid shit, trying to make me into a fuckin' lapdog like him.”

Willow shook her head slowly, a repulsed look in her eyes.  “Your mother worshipped the ground your father walked on.   And your father, he was a sort of control freak.   He was the kind of man that needed someone to give him orders, to tell him what to do, this way he had all the control.   I heard my parents talking about yours one day,” she said looking faintly embarrassed at revealing flaws in somebody else.  “He had a controlling submissive personality, but he loved your mother because she gave him the structure he needed.  And your mother, she was determined that you wouldn't grow up to be like him.  That's why she constantly challenged you to be strong and independent.  She loved your father, but she didn't want you to be like him.”

“She was a ball-breaking, controlling, emasculating bitch,” George pronounced calmly.  He shrugged carelessly.  “That's why I drugged them and set fire to the house.  I originally was going to kill only her, but I decided Daddy was taking up valuable space and wasting air that could be used for other purposes, like inflating a beach ball or something.”  

Slowly he turned to Xander, absolute no remorse on his face.  He laughed lightly, a pleased look in his eyes.  “What…?  Didn't you guess?  I thought that's where this whole denouncement was going.”  He laughed again, at the horrified look on the idiot boy's face.  How Angel could possibly standing looking into Xander's face he would never understand.  But at least that dumb bastard didn't have Angel's heart.  

Youst looked at the blonde, his face darkening.  Along his sides, demons hastily jumped out of the way as his quills slowly became erect.

“How did Sandon die?” he asked softly, referring to the young man's former lover.  There was a hard dangerous look coming in his eyes.

The blonde raised a puzzled brow.  “In a fire, you halfwit.”  The others in the room looked between the two young men in puzzlement.  While tragic, everyone knew how Skoal, no George's mate had perished.  Why did Youst want to rehash old news?

The other didn't blink.  “And how did the fire start?”  At his question, certain pieces of the puzzle dropped into place.  As one they turned cold eyes on the blonde.  A silent, insistent question in their eyes.  

George brows contracted, a look of self-righteous, petulant anger on his face.  

“He wouldn't let me go,” he said with rising indignation.  “He said that my infatuation with Angel would pass!”  There was a dark, scowl on his face as he thought on his former mate's words.  “Well, I showed him!”  He snorted in cold contempt.  

“He was so stupid…” he shook his head sadly.  “I told him that if he didn't let me go, he would be sorry.  I told him.  He didn't listen.  I told him….”

He looked up, taking note of the expressions on everyone's faces and looked bewildered.  “He had to die, don't you see?  He was keeping me and Angel apart,” he said reasonably.

But as he looked at the frozen expressions on the demons' faces, he saw there was no understanding.   No one understood his pain, his needs.  And looking at them he knew there would be no returning to that particular place.  

Like he did with unwanted reminders of his past, he decided to burn it.  Set fire to it in the only way he could.

The sly, ugly smile on George's face made Xander shiver, and grasp his sword a bit more tightly.

“Slayer…the one girl in every generation, born to do battle against the demons that haunt the darkness,” the blonde misquoted softly.  An eerie smile growing on his face at the sudden uneasy looks everyone exchanged.  His mad laughter made them jump, but Jaile watched him with cold, deadly eyes.  Even D'kur dropped from the ceiling and clacked his mandibles menacingly.

Buffy nodded warily, caution in her eyes.  But her eyes were angry and hostile when she darted a glance at Xander.

“All this time  you've been battling demons and they've…”

Xander understood in a split second what George was about to do.  “SHUT UP…!” he screamed in sudden fear.

George tossed him a merry, malicious smile before facing the Slayer.  “And all this time they've…” abruptly he gasped.  

Two feet of steel protruded from his chest.  A blossoming red stain, widening with every beat of his heart, spread over his chest.  There was a dazed expression in his eyes, and an equally stunned look in Xander's.  He was still holding the sword pressed into George's back.

The young blonde tried to speak, husking out a breathy sound.  Malice and spite keeping him upright as he tried to tell Buffy about the demons.  The sword moved backwards, and slammed forward again.  George fell to his knees, his mouth moving but no sound emerged.  But to his immense satisfaction, he saw his mate arrive.  He had won after all.  If he couldn't have Angel, then he would take Xander down with him and Angel would have no one.

He collapsed to the ground, his eyes unseeing.  An expression of smug triumph on his face.  

Angel burst into the mansion, just in time to see Xander standing behind Skoal, a bloodsoaked sword in his hand.   

“Angel…!” Buffy shouted, her face lightening up.  She rocked furiously in the chair, trying to get free.

Xander stared down at the dead man at his feet.  A dead man that he killed.  He killed someone.  He killedhekilledhekilled…

…and he began breathing rapidly, his thoughts circling, spiraling out of control.  Horror at what he did feed the panic that was swiftly taking a hold of him.  Dropping the sword, he patted his chest with frantic hands, trying to force himself to breath.  

In and out…in and out…I can't do it!  Oh, God! I forgot how to breath!  Somebody, teach me quick…!

To Buffy's enormous disbelief, Angel ran past her without sparing her a glance.

“Xander…!” Angel raced to the boy as Xander dropped to his knees.  The wheezing sound he was making was loud in the room a he struggled to still the panic setting in and stealing his breath.

Clasping the boy's face in his hands, Angel stared into the terrorfilled eyes.  “Listen to me…just listen to the sound of my voice.  There's nobody here but us,” he said softly and jerked Xander's head back to him when the boy looked the dead body on the floor.  “No, look at me and only me.  You can do this, watch…” and he deliberately inhaled, then exhaled.  “Now you…remember that time by the pool when we went swimming?  Misty pushed you into the water…” he said quietly.   

“In and out, leannán…in and out…”

Xander nodded frantically, his eyes fixed on Angel's trustingly.  In and out…he could do this…okay…in and out.

The room was silent as everyone's eyes focused on the scene of the young boy struggling to breathe.  Buffy's mouth was firmly covered by a silvery hand.

Tugging the boy forward, he hugged Xander tightly; almost undoing what had just been accomplished.  But the young dark-haired human didn't mind.  He tucked his head into happily into Angel's cool neck.

“You killed my mate…” a smooth, silky voice of menace stated softly.   A slender, blue demon paced forward deliberately.  “By Law, I can either Claim you or kill you.”  There was a cold, bitterness in the maroon -colored eyes.  

Xander scrambled to his feet, his eyes growing large with distress.  He bit his lip, and cast a look at a growling Angel.  He smiled; it felt kinda nice to be so fiercely protected.  

“Over my very dead body,” Angel stated with equally cold menace.  He started forward, his face shifting into demon guise.

“No…” Xander said softly, restraining his…friend.  He swallowed hard.  “I killed George, not you.  I am the one that's gotta pay the price.”  He raised his head proudly and faced the blue demon with nervous courage in his eyes.

“A life for a life; an eye for an eye,” Tomas quoted softly to the boy.  He watched the growling vampire from the corner of his eye.  Signaling his family not to interfere.  He looked down at his lover, his mate and wanted to spit.

“Don't you love me?”  Angel said, daring to speak aloud what he knew had been hidden in his boy's heart.

Xander blinked.  “What's love got to do with this?”

“Xander, it doesn't have to be this way,” Angel said urgently, pulling the boy back and away from the demon.  “I can fight, and I'll win and you can join me in L.A.”

The young dark-haired young male smiled shyly.   .   “Thank you,” he whispered.  Then drawing on his meager store of courage he added, “But I don't want you too.  I've taken a lot of things from you, but now I get to give something back.  You have a destiny, a shot at redemption.  And there's no way that you're gonna find it with me hanging around your neck.  Angel, I've always been the weakest member of Buffy's merry gang.  No strength, no magic, no werewolfy thing going, and I'm not too good in the intelligence department either.  So, let me do this…”

He smiled gently at the poor confused vampire.  Angel looked so cute when he was clueless, Xander thought fondly.  But someday Angel would understand.   Life wasn't about being happy and getting what you wanted.  It was about simply doing the right thing.  Even if that thing left you half-dead inside.

Then looking at Tomas, Angel began talking, speaking in the other demon's dialect.  Xander frowned and shook Angel's arm.  Harder when the two ignored him and continued speaking in a rapid fire, melodious way.

//“If you Claim him I will kill you,”// Angel said calmly, but his eyes were liquid gold with rage.

Tomas shrugged, looking very much unconcerned.  //“You know the Ritual as well as I.   He killed my mate, therefore his life is forfeited to me to do with as I will.”//  His eyes however deepened to mahogany as he glared at the vampire.  

//“And I haven't decide what I will do with him,”// Tomas said haughtily.  //” If you were interested in him, then you should have Claimed him before me, that would have at least given him some measure of protection.  Being around humans have made you almost as stupid and weakwilled as them.”//

//“He doesn't know the Law,”// Angel gritted out.  

Then he blinked, reviewing what Tomas had just said and what the Oracles said.  His eyes narrowed to slits as he stared at the blue-skinned demon.  A light went on in Angel's eyes and slowly he nodded to himself.  

“Will you hurry up and do what you have to do…?” Xander loudly, nervous impatience in his voice.  Perhaps too loudly as both Angel and the blue demon broke off their conversation to look at him.  

“Uhm, nevermind…take your time,” he stammered under their intense gaze.

“Yes, you are the weakest,” Angel said thoughtfully, his eyes softening at the wince his boy gave.   “Very well, Xander,” he said quietly.  He stood at the boy's back.  And at his cool hands on the bottom of Xander's shirt the boy gasped.  “The shirt has to come off in order for the Claim to work,” he said patiently as Tomas stood in front of the young human.

Willow began shouting, furiously shaking her chair as she struggled to free herself.  Her eyes were darkening with dark intent.  If she could just get free…!

Giles, though silent, fought just as hard to get free.  No one was Claiming one of his children without a bloody good fight…

Buffy frowned, then her face cleared.  Without Xander around, perhaps Angel would come back to her.  Though disturbed at how intensely obsessive George was, she firmly decided that she was not acting like that.  Going further she also chose to ignore all references to Angel's `supposed' gayness.  And Xander's as well.

Though she couldn't prevent an illicit thrill going through her at the thought of Xander and Angel together, maybe with her in the middle, she thought with a little guilty smile.   She didn't notice the cool look Jaile gave her, nor the way his hands flexed as if around a soft vulnerable throat.

Xander faced the blue demon nervously.  Half-hysterical about acquiring a husband.  And he didn't even know the guy's name.

Chapter 9

“Say, what's…” he managed to get out and sweet fire exploded in the left side of his neck.  He gasped, arching with shock.  His pants abruptly became far too tight, revealing a definite `Hello, my name is Xander, Jr and I will be your entertainment for tonight'.  He flung his left arm into the air, dazedly hooking it around Angel's neck, holding his lover to him as the vampire laid Claim to him.

Tension spiraling higher, brighter.  An ecstatic agony growing, surging through him at every sucking pull on his throat.  He sobbed, near breathless with increasing desire until he screamed, a growing stain spreading on the front of his pants.  Casually Angel licked the Claim mark, his eyes the color of aged gold as he stared at a growling Tomas, who had been cheated of his prey.  

Prey…because that's what Xander was to Tomas.  Nothing but something for the t'kosh demon to savage in revenge for his mate's death.  He recognized that look in the other's eyes.  The Tomas wasn't going to Claim Xander…not by a longshot.  The boy would be lucky to survive the night.

“Now, you deal with me,” he said huskily, lifting his mouth from his boy's neck.  

Golden eyes were heavy with arousal, impatient for everyone to leave so he could Claim his human…properly.   But he knew that the other demon would not willingly give up his chance for revenge.  

Sometimes, Angel thought exasperatedly as he pushed Xander hastily to the side, I really HATE being right.  He met the k'Tosh demon's furious charge with all the power at his command.  

Jaile smirked as he released the dumbstruck Slayer.  “And you thought he was the useless one,” he said whispered mockingly in her ear.  Buffy whirled around, a snarl on face.  She faltered as she met his empty cold eyes, and noticed the length of his teeth.

Buffy slid to the side, trying to keep an eye on the nasty fight taking place and Jaile.  While she had a feeling he wasn't going to attack, but a girl couldn't be too careful in these dangerous times.

Xander backed away, then a little further as the two demons fought over him.  And a little part of him was tickled pink over the thought, but the larger part of him wanted to start whacking at the demon fighting his Angel.  Chop the blue dude into little pieces that wouldn't be a threat to them.

He glared at the other demons excitedly taking bets on the fight.  Sheepishly, they lowered their eyes.  Then making sure he wasn't watching them, they surreptitiously, and in quiet whispers, continued wagering.  

Angel ducked under Tomas' swing.  It would have been deadly had it connected.  Despite the seemingly slender build, k'Tosh demons were incredibly strong, their strength rivaling if not exceeding that of a vampire.

He leapt upon the blue-skinned demon, bearing them both to the ground.  He had the upper hand and was determined not to lose it.  Layering blow after blow, he saw in grim satisfaction as dark blue bruises appeared on Tomas' smooth skin.  Unfortunately, he forgot how flexible k'Tosh demons were reputed to be.

Next thing he knew, an incredibly hard blow slammed into his back, stunning him with pain.  Before he could recover, hard, near spine-cracking blows pounded into him.  The final one hit him, throwing him away from the demon.

Jaile and some of the other demons weren't watching the fight.  They were locked in a staring contest with Tomas' family.  If one of them so much as twitched in Angel's direction, or even Xander's, another fight would instantly take place.

The human boy danced around the snarling fighting duo, his eyes anxious and torn.  On the one hand, demon fighting demon was not exactly a place for a fragile mortal to get involved in.  But then again…he snatched up his sword and was intending to charge the k'Tosh demon.  

D'kur easily restrained him.  The mandibles opened, and a soft expulsion of air came from between the hard, mouth-like appendage.  A sound.


“D'kur…?” Xander twisted around to gape at the Warrior.

“'is….” another expulsion of air, “fioughttttt.”

Xander looked doubtfully at the fighting males.  “Angel's fight…?  But I…”

D'kur shook his head violently.  “Nooouh…maigtttt… po…tect.   Is way.”

Now the boy looked puzzled, struggling to decipher what his friend was saying.  

“He's saying that since Angel is your mate, it is his right to protect you.  It is the way of demons, one you will do well to remember,” Jaile said as he sauntered over to them.  He didn't run, or move fast.  After all, he was an Erosno.  He was not particularly surprised to see the k'Tosh demons backing away and eyeing him warily.  Then startled dismay was in the glances they exchanged when they saw D'kur holding Xander gently.  

Only very important members within a Nestor's family had one of the prized Warriors.  And the human had one of the prized Warriors.  

A human.  

A human with a Warrior.

A human that was clearly close friends with an Erosno.  An Erosno that they were quickly becoming aware was not one of the bedroom kind.  More likely he was of the deathroom kind.

What the hell had Tomas gotten them involved in, they wondered grimly, chasing after a faithless lover.  A lover that only wanted to come to the surface.  They turned their attention to Skoal's body, a cold certainty settling in their eyes.  Something was wrong.

Jaile nodded, they were beginning to figure things out.

“He couldn't be mated to Tomas and Angel at the same time,” he stated quietly.

“My son would have been pleased to share,” stated Tomas' father.  A harsh bite in his voice.

Jaile shook his head, his eyes steady on the male.  “But I don't think Skoal would have been.”  He allowed them to come to the necessary conclusion.

“Tomas would have died, perhaps in his sleep.” The flat statement was cold with realization.

The Erosno shrugged, turning his attention to Angel and Tomas still fighting.  It was unfortunate that Angel looked as if he was losing.

Dammit…he couldn't lose! Angel thought desperately, struggling dazedly to his feet.  He punched the blue blur in front of him, hardly surprised to find that he missed.  He doubled over at the solid punch to his midsection with a grunt, dropping to his knees in a delirium of pain.

Tomas grinned, his eyes a liquid blood-red as a result of his battle-fever.  The vampire was through, and he would have the boy.  A life for a life, he thought murderously.

Clenching his hands together, he raised them over Angel's head for the final blow.

Angel looked up, knowing he was finished.   He caught his lover's horrified eyes, and knew he couldn't let his boy down.  If he fell, Tomas would kill his Xander.   Summoning every shred of strength in his tired limbs, he launched himself at the k'Tosh demon's legs.  Biting deeply, he pulled the honeyed liquid deep in his throat.  His eyes flaring wide in astonishment at the incredible rush of energy that surged through him.   In full demonmode, he bit deeper, relishing the ragged scream of pain from the figure above him, barely registering the blows thudding against his back as he drank deep, feeling the blood imbuing him with strength, vigor.


Shaking the other off, he slowly stood, his eyes an intense gold as he stared down at the k'Tosh demon.  

“Whoaaa,” Xander muttered, his eyes growing large in disbelief at the sight of his mate on his feet.  He felt his body tingle, blood began inevitably inflating a certain muscle, to his enormous embarrassment.

Angel paused to give his mate a brief, thorough once over.  He sniffed the air, his eyes darkening noticeably at the pheromones that laced the air with the scent of his lover's arousal.  He licked his lips, eagerly anticipating finishing the Claim on his mortal.  But first, he turned to the blue demon on the floor…he had some unfinished business to take care of.

“ENOUGH…!” Thundered F'nesh, Tomas' father.  He strode up to Angel, facing him fearlessly, unphased by the growling vampire.  “I will take my son and depart.  Ritual is satisfied.”

“But Father…” Tomas protested with swollen lips.

The k'Tosh demon looked down at his son.  “Child, as much as you wish to continue this fight, you're fighting for a faithless lover.  He never loved you, or even wanted you.  You were simply a means to an end for him.  He wanted Angel, and you would have been the first,” he looked at Xander, “Or rather the second casualty to him accomplishing his goal.”

“He loved me…” Tomas cried hoarsely, his eyes pulsing with anger.

F'nesh shook his head sadly, crouching to his son's level.  “Nay, my son.  He seemed to love only two individuals…and you were neither of them.  Let it go, child.”

“I can't…” Tomas half-whispered pleadingly, despairingly.

His father regarded him with little change in expression.  “But I can…” he said quietly and rose to his feet.  His face assuming an imposing and stern mien, his decision made.   “Your marriage was at my discretion.  A discretion that can be easily revoked.”  He turned to Angel, ignoring his son.  “I declare the marriage between Skoal and my son to be void.”


“Silence…!” F'nesh whirled on his son.  “You didn't even know him well enough to marry him.  I should have never allowed you to take him for mate!”

“Yes, I do know him.  I know everything about him!  His name was Skoal….” Tomas claimed defiantly, getting to his feet.  “And he was a half-breed.”

“Actually, his name was George Smith.  He had brown hair and both his parents were human,” Willow said apologetically.  But her voice carried to the k'Tosh demons.

“Excuse me…?” F'nesh said politely, his eyes turning impossibly hard and cold.  “You mean to tell me that my son married a HUMAN?!”

“Oooooh, Daddy's not pleased,” Xander whispered to Jaile, snickering.  Now that Angel was out of danger, his ebullient feelings were coming back.

“Nope…they think humans are beneath contempt.  Actually, a lot lower than that,” Jaile said cheerfully, laughing silently at the boy's flummoxed expression.

“Wait a minute!  But…but we're not that bad…I mean…dammit…” Xander stammered, his expression even causing D'kur to emit high-pitched chirping noises.  His version of laughter.

“Sorry, I'm just saying,” Jaile reported, his face serious but his eyes danced with mirth.  “It's like you falling in love and trying to marry a monkey.  And not one of the funny, cute and mischievous ones either,” Jaile smirked.  

“Uhm, yes sir,” Willow meekly half-whispered to F'nesh.  She watched the demon with large, fearful eyes.

“Over time a certain period of time, human bodily secretions have an unfortunate tendency to kill them,” Jaile whispered to Xander, expression turning serious.

“Ewwwww,” exclaimed one of the other blue demons, moving away from Tomas as if he had a communicable disease.  

Angel merely shook his head and walked over to his boy, pulling the youth into his arms.  Nuzzling him contentedly.  Nearly tempted to purr, but he eyed the others in the room with misgiving, and decided not to.  They would laugh at him.

Freed, Giles regarded the confused yet happy face of his boy, cradled in the arms of someone that would forever be there for Xander.  

He wished them well.

Willow jealously regarded Angel, then sighed.  She just knew he was going to take her Xander away!  To her surprise, Angel winked and gave her a brief smile.  He could afford to be generous now that he had won.  

Oz slipped his arm around his girl, and together they watched the beautiful picture Angel and Xander made cuddling against each other.  They looked…complete.

“Giles, Willow…let's go!” Buffy grated out, her stomach roiling at the sight of her boyfriend making kissy face with Xander.

“I said LET'S GO!” she barked out when Giles and Willow didn't move fast enough to suit her.  

And something rippled in the air, shifted, changed when Giles turned his head and simply looked at her.  Carefully the demons drew away from her, even Xander and Angel stopped cooing and regarded Giles with the care and concern of a ticking bomb with five seconds to spare.

Calmly the older man paced towards his Slayer, his eyes fixed unwavering on her paling face.  “Allow me to re-acquaint you with the facts of life,” he began with icy, freezing courtesy.  “I, unlike yon werewolf over there, am a human and I do NOT, I repeat, do not possess any canine qualities.  Furthermore, I am considerably older than you.  In addition, I am also your Watcher, AND IF YOU EVER ADDRESS ME IN THAT TONE OF VOICE AGAIN I WILL BEAT YOU BLOODY!” he roared.  “Do I make myself clear, Ms. Summers?!  Neither I, Willow or anyone else you consider `yours' do actually consider ourselves your possession.  We are neither slave nor pet for you to call at your command.”

Buffy nodded jerkily, her eyes big and round.

“Ignore my words to your own peril, child.  I am more than capable of dropping you on your arse,” he said softly with unmistakable menace.  Slowly he straightened, and cast a glance around.  Demons and humans alike immediately looked at the floor.  His eyes rested on Xander's face and his gaze softened.  “Angel, you WILL take care of my boy.  You won't like me when I get angry.”

Angel wisely held his tongue.  He wasn't exactly certain that he liked Giles right now.  Even his demon was sitting still and quiet, afraid of attracting the Watcher's attention.

Jaile's eyes glowed brightly as he watched the fierce Watcher.  Then slowly his lids lowered, giving him a slumberous expression.  Making sure he had Giles' attention, with seeming casualness, he trailed his hand down his chest and rested it artfully at the top of his thigh.  Very close to the prominent bulge in his pants.  Peeking at the man, he smiled slowly, and licked his lips.

Giles inhaled shakily before looking away, his anger draining in the wake of another emotion.   “Willow, Oz…let's give them some privacy.  Angel, we will expect you back in Sunnydale every Thanksgiving and Christmas and we will negotiate on the rest of the holidays later,” Giles said calmly and swept his remaining charges out of the mansion.  But before he left, he turned and gave Jaile a long, hard look of his own.  A faint twinkle in his eye at the answering gleam in the Erosno demon's.  

They would meet, and very soon.

“Could someone tell me WHY we are afraid of Slayers when the Watchers are way worse,” came a shaky voice from one of the demons.

“That's not a Watcher, that's a Giles,” Xander responded seriously.  “They broke the mold when they made him.”

“There is a God…” came a fervent voice.

Angel eyed everyone sourly, decided that he would take his human home to L.A. and finish Claiming his boy properly.  He had a lascivious look on his face that made Xander shiver delightfully.  

Tugging his lover behind him, Angel headed for his car.  He decided to be generous and give Doyle and Cordy the next couple of days off.  He was going to be busy.  He cast a quick look at Xander's eager, shining face.  Very, very busy, he amended his thought.

Those still left in the mansion ignored George Smith's body, except for Tomas.  

He stared down at his faithless lover's body.  A HUMAN!  

F'nesh clapped a hand on his son's shoulder in mute sympathy.  “Let it go, son.  He fooled us all,” he said quietly.

Dolorez remained in the shadows where he had silently watched everything.  There was too much at stake to let chance dictate matters.  Fortunately, he did not have to interfere.  Angel proved more than capable of handling the k'Tosh demon.  And discovered what truly made him such a formidable fighter: Love.

Pale green eyes were steady and remote on the k'Tosh demon.  

Tomas' jaw worked from side-to-side as he glared savagely at the body of his…lover.  His skin twitched in revulsion at how close he had been to truly dying.  One more week…of the human's company, he shuddered and looked away.  His father and brother's had warned him to wait, giving their love time to grow.  But still he went ahead and married the damn…human!  He let out a sharp, bitter laugh.  He actually thought the other loved him.  Oh, he knew Skoal…George had problems, but he thought they could fix them.  Together.  If only he hadn't believed George when words of love poured from those beautiful lips.

Slowly Dolorez nodded.  Starting at his feet, a startling change took place.  Fading swiftly his color faded, changed first to a silvery color then grey.  Pants and shirt, shifted forming into a vague togalike attire.  There was a faint look of compassion in his black on grey eyes before he stepped back, becoming one with the shadows.  Gone.

The blue-skinned demon stared down at his faithless lover's body.  Hatred, anger and love almost in equal measure within him.  Then with great deliberation he spat.  Hardly surprised at the poison now in his system turned his saliva into corrosive acid.   He watched with great satisfaction as the glob of spit scored a direct hit on the boy's left side.  Burning, sizzling filled the air as the corrosive fluid ate steadily through the dead body.  

He had no heart in life, nor will he have one in death, Tomas thought coldly before deliberately turning his back.  

F'nesh nodded approvingly at his son, slinging a companionably arm over the boy's shoulders.   Once through the long, painful process of removing whatever poison that remained in Tomas' body, hopefully his son's heart would begin to heal.

Later on that week, sometime after Cordy got over her shock at finding her ex-boyfriend now gay and demanding Angel's credit cards to shop for `suitable' clothing for Xander, the phone rang.

Angel, in the middle of something very important answered it absently.  He groaned low in his throat, his eyes rolling up as Buffy's dulcet tones came gently over the receiver.   

He put her on speakerphone.

“Angel…I know that I said I wouldn't call you ever again, but…you see, I had to talk to you one last time.  I think you may have confused sex with Xander with love, and I'm sorry but the thought of THAT is really turning my stomach, but I digress.  I know, deep in your heart that you still care for me, maybe even still love me.  And I'm willing to work things out with you, especially now that you have you soul…and what is that slurping sound,” she demanded suspiciously.  “Are you eating a Popsicle or something?”

Angel moaned, his hand fisting in Xander's hair.  “Or something is right,” he gasped out arching hungrily into the boy's mouth with a pleasured sigh.  “Buffy, look get off the phone and stop calling me!  I …(ooooooh God)….don't want….(yes, baby just like that!)…you and I'm (mmmm, yesssss Xan!) totally…happy…with my Xander….(oh shit!) and I….love….love…God, I love how he gives head!” he shouted, his eyes closing in the hot rush of sensation that had him shooting his load deep in Xander's hoovervac mouth.  In his orgasmic release, he forgot Buffy was still on the phone.  Not that he gave a damn anyhow.

Xander eagerly drank him down without missing a single drop.  Giving one final lick to the still hard shaft he clambered happily up and sat greedily atop the towering spike.  Groaning with joy, he lowered his ass, whimpering with pleasure at the first initial breech of that stout organ.  

Angel laughed softly at his beautiful boy.  He adored how free and uninhibited Xander had become in their bedroom.  And outside.  

Xander was unapologetic about sex and his love for Angel.  He knew he was loved and that gave him confidence to be bold, to play.  To be as demanding of Angel's time and body as the vampire was of him.

Flipping them over, he smiled down into his boy's sulky face, kissing the pout from Xander's lips.  “Selfish little brat,” he whispered lovingly.  “You always have to be in control.”  And he proceeded to show Xander how they could both be in control.

Their bodies sliding slickly against each other, low wails of pleasure spilling from Xander's mouth each time Angel hit his nerve button dead on.  In respond, he tightened around Angel, smirking at the full body shiver his lover gave.  They fought, twisting and growling as they loved each other.  Rolling around on the bed, sometimes Xander was triumphantly on top, the other he was writhing with tireless abandon under Angel.  Legs spread and wrapped tight, his body undulating with the slow, graceful movements that he knew Angel loved.  

In pleasing Angel, he was pleasured.  Angel never tired of pleasing his boy.  Everything he did, he did for Xander.  For Cordy and Doyle.  In giving in to his weakness he found the strength and determination to go on.  They cared, they loved and supported him.  It was these human qualities he realized, that made him a strong fighter.  A cornered wolf would fight all the more determinedly to protect his pack.  

His family.

Stroking back last time in the boy's molten core, Angel sheathed himself and let go.  Head thrown back, he roared, his hips beating a rapid tattoo against his lover as he spurted what must have been a gallon of his cool, frothy essence in his boy's spasming ass.

He could feel Xander's organ jerking, twitching between them, pulsating as his precious boy came, burying a hot, sweaty face into his neck, muffling the shout of fierce satisfaction in Angel's neck.

Sighing, he carefully rolled over, sliding a hand over Xander's warm rump to make sure he remained inside his boy.  They lazily kissed, gently, softly now that the first urgency was over.  

There was a noisy throat clearing.  Xander sat up in shock, then moaned as the quasi-hard shaft quickly thickened, hardened in him.

“So, uhm…I guess you and Xander…are really happy?” Buffy squeaked out, her eyes round and dazed.  She guiltily removed her fingers from her soaking panties and ruefully contemplated the growing wet stain on her bed.  Her cheeks flaming red at the laughter she heard.

“Goodbye Buffy,” Angel said and hit the `Off' button.  He pulled Xander down for a long kiss.  “Now, where were we…?”


….Two Years Later

Angel sighed as he slowly got out of the car.  Why did he always have to report to the bloody Oracles all the time, he groused silently carefully stomping to the hotel doors.  Damn, but even his hair hurt!

He paused…oh, yeah, I'm the leader.  Hurray for me, he thought sourly.

Groaning softly, he walked towards the doors of the hotel, wincing at the loud music coming from inside.  Clearly everyone made it back to the hotel, was his dry thought.  Well, at least Cordy and Doyle weren't in there yelling at each other, which everyone had caught on was a thinly disguise demand for sex, he thought cynically.  

Then felt guilty and ashamed of his thoughts.  Thankfully, the sharp-tongue girl hadn't added mind-reading to her skills.  Though he had his suspicions, he thought darkly.  After all, she did grow up on the Hellmouth.   However, for all his grumbling, he had a fond smile on his face for the feisty little spitfire.  Their Cordy ruled their lives with an imperious iron fist.  Why bother with the velvet.

Opening the door, he surveyed his small patch of heaven.  

His family.

Their bruises ignored, Cordy, Faith and Oz were writhing like a bunch of demented eels.  Celebrating their victory over the Talnd demons.  Even Wesley was moving and shaking his body suggestively, and Doyle was leaning against the wall drinking and tapping his foot.  Angel brows went up sharply at the hot look the dark-haired Watcher sent Gunn, and the equally scorching look the large black youth sent back.  

Ohhhhh, so that's the way things are running, Angel thought in surprise.  Then frowned, why the hell don't people TELL me things, was his aggrieved thought.   All this time, I though it was Jaile that Wes kept coming to see.

He regarded the sleekly moving young Watcher, reflecting that of all of them, Wesley AND Faith were the ones that had changed the most from Sunnydale.  He studied the two gyrating figures.  Somehow, in their travels, Faith rubbed off on Wesley, imbuing the rigid, rule-bound lean and lanky man with a sleek, subtle sexiness.  Not oozing of sex, just…whispering that he could have you crawling on your belly like a snake just for a chance to lick his ass.  While Faith on the other hand, became slightly restrained.  Where once she came across as `fuck me, screw me…no holes barred', a slut at the word `Go', that girl practically reeked of sex.  Now Faith looked like a beautiful and sexy young lady.  Sure, confident in herself and knowing that she didn't have to use her body to get attention.  If you wanted a piece of her, then you damn well had better get to know her.   And nothing came from free with her.

His family and his world.

Cordy, his little sharpshooter.   His other gun-toting marksmen.  What that girl could do with a gun wasn't even funny.  Actually, she preferred guns or rifles, something about not breaking her nails in a fight and she could still wear Donna Karan and look bitchin' blowing somebody brains out.   

If it hadn't been for her and Xander, they might have lost Doyle to the demon purists that intended to exterminate all the half-breeds in the city.  Xander had called on the memories left as a soldier one Halloween to teach her, and make them, the only ones without any `valuable skills' valuable to the team.  

And lessons well taught were used that day to save many lives.  Friends and innocents.  

Oz showed up here after a regrettable one-night stand with another female, an unfortunate side-effect of his wolf.  Another were.  A she-wolf that he encountered on the campus of the college he was attending with Buffy and Willow.  He had tried to keep her from harming others by locking her in a cage with him.  He hadn't counted on his wolf and her wolf mating, or Willow finding them the next morning.  It was unfortunate that neither he nor Willow could manage to get past that incident.  Though from what he managed to pull from the others, it wasn't Willow that had a problem, it was Oz.  But he understood what the young man was going through.  

The beast was something either you controlled or it controlled you.  And Oz was working like hell to put a leash on his.

It was good that the slight young man found capable mate in Faith.  She didn't have a problem with his beast and she was more than capable of taking on the wolf and beating him into submission.  

Angel was pulled from his thoughts as the lithe young slayer caught sight of him.

“Yo, Angel…!” Faith shouted over the loud music, a wild grin on her face.  Face flushed a becoming red, eyes glittering with the aftermath of excitement battle she looked sensational and knew it.

“Upstairs,” she mouthed, turning back to the throbbing mid-eastern beat.  Arching her back and allowing her hair to hang to the floor.  Strong muscular arms held her securely, tightly and there wasn't a doubt in her mind whose arms she was cradled in.

Coming erect, she caught a flash of Angel racing up the stairs before Wesley spun her around and they started grinding to the pulsating whine of an electric guitar.  With a twitch of her hips, they broke apart and moved into the arms of their respective partners.  Cordy danced alone, gyrating and writhing.  Her dark eyes whispering hot, erotic blandishments to her lover.

And she again blessed the day that Wesley took her away from Sunnydale.  If she had remained in Buffy's town, eternally in the blonde's too large shadow, subtle resented and resenting the fact that she was second string…she shivered, feeling a shadow of darkness skim over her…there was no telling what would have happened to her.  

Angel stood outside the room door, vaguely hearing the pulsating music from below, his attention focused on what was inside.  He could hear the shuffling of feet, smell the unique scent of his lover.   One reason why he hurried home was tonight was their anniversary.  And if he had to beg and plead with the Oracles for the next two days off, he would.  But to his surprise, he didn't even have to ask….they promised, barring the world coming to an end, they could have the whole week off!  They actually smiled when they told him to go home.

Says he wants you
He says he needs you
If it's real talk then why not make him wait for you
If he really wants you
If he really needs you
Take your time and feel him out
When he's a good boy
(A really really good boy)
Why not let him lay with you
(When you give it to him good)

He gripped the door, twisted the knob and opened the door.  Gaping, his body hardening as lightening rippled through him at his sexy, beautiful dancing boy.  He entered the room in a daze of lust, brought on by Xander's half-naked body.  Barely covering in a tiny, apron-like thing.  A small flap in the front, a small bit of cloth in the back.  It barely covering the boy's dangling cock or that sensuous writhing ass.  An ass that Angel wanted to buried his face in, kiss that tiny little pucker to an open, slick wetness with tongue and lips before slamming his aching shaft home.

Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say "ooh"
Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say "ooh"

How could he have possibly thought he could exist without his boy? He wondered, moving closer to the sinuously twisting figure.  Despite the dark, purplish bruises marring the sleek golden skin from the fight with a Talnd demon, Xander was truly a marvel of humanity.  Beautiful, intelligent and generous in spirit and body.

You gettin' bold
He's growin' cold
It's just the symptoms of young love
Growin' old
You think it's time
(And you thinkin' leavin', but give it time)
It's late at night
He's coming home
Meet him at the door with nothin' on
Take him by the hand
Let him know what's on
If you understand me (ooh)

Xander gave Angel a mischievous look over his shoulder as he swiveled around to face his lover.  Despite his love for Angel, Claimed life wasn't all about sex, pretty flowers and chocolate.  It was work.  It was loving, it was arguing and getting mad.  It was about not talking with each other and it was about talking until you were blue in the face.  But no matter what, before the sun set each day, they worked at resolving their problems.  Never wanting the sun to go down while they were mad at each other.  

All the ladies wind it up if you know just how to move
All my fellas jump in honey, show her what you wanna do
All the ladies wind it up if you know just how to move
All my fellas jump in honey, show her what you wanna do (ooh, ooh)

It was hard work, opening up…revealing vulnerable emotions that could easily be damaged.  But it was worth it.  Angel, their home, this family of friends they built around themselves…it more than made up for the uncertainty of living L.A.  

Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say "ooh"
Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say "ooh"

Angel made him happy, made him feel loved, safe and needed.  Difficult as it was to leave Sunnydale, he had no regrets.  Except for leaving Willow behind.  Fortunately, she would soon be joining them in L.A.  Apparently Buffy was freaking over the fact that another one of her `friends' was gay.   He snorted, like she was Willow's type!  Xander smiled evilly, wonder what she was gonna do when she came face to face with Ethan, Jaile and Giles.  Though he wasn't exactly sure if he approved of Ethan.  Not that anybody asked HIS opinion.  But that snarky wizard made Giles happy, and Jaile made both men extremely satisfied from the yelling he could hear when they had their rendezvous at the hotel.  He shivered, remembering the one time he accidentally walked in on them.  He didn't know the human body could…bend like that.  And he hardly blushed at all when he asked Giles to teach him that particular move.

Rap By Fabolous:
Yeah, uh, yeah, uh
Baby girl I want you to pop, pop, pop that thang
I might stop to shop and cop you things
You know I drop the top and hop that thang
Sometimes stop my bop then pop my thing
You sure know how to make a man say "ooh"
And how in the world can a man say "no"
When you wind it up on a wall; wind it up like a doll

He sighed at the cool, exiting feel of Angel touching him.  He stilled, moaning deep in his throat at the nibbling kisses on his jaw, leading down to his neck.  Arching, he undulated slowly against his lover's cool torso, turning his head eagerly to the side and shuddering with aroused hunger at the slick wetness of Angel's tongue against his Claim mark.

And you know my Bacardi lime it up 'til you fall
Haul it up till you fall and have those other chicks throwin' vomit up
When they can't find it up in the mall
Like most men I love to catch up with a model
But I ain't used to movin' slow like ketchup in a bottle
The best things come to those who wait for
But I'm a be straight for before it's too late for
I want you to dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around
Poke it out and make me say "oh"

Angel shuddered, his dick thickening to a solid, thrusting hardness when his searching fingers stroked over the dilating pucker.  Delving between his lover's ass, a wild torrid excitement surged through him at the discovery that Xander had already prepared himself.   Bruises notwithstanding, he never thought his boy looked more beautiful.  

Quickly, he twisted Xander around and bent him over the chair.  In his urgency, all he had the forethought to do was unzip his pants, and then he was thrusting into the sleek, rippling sheath.   A low moan pulled from his throat at the blistering heat that wrapped around him.  

Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say "ooh"
Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say "ooh"

Gritting his teeth, his lips pulled back against sharp, jagged teeth he pumped slowly into his boy.  Groaning when Xander arched back, and circled his hips.  The thin skin was practically nibbling the length of his shaft.
Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say "ooh"

Angel thrust a final time in his lover's spasming core, his muscles tightening…his mind lost in an ecstatic haze, spurting deeply into Xander's ass.  

Dip it low
Pick it up slow
Roll it all around poke it out, let your back roll
Pop, pop, pop that thang
I'ma show you how to make your man say…

“Oooooooh.”  Angel's long howl of orgasmic release echoed, traveled downstairs to partying people still dancing of the aftereffects of the fight.

"And you guys say I'm loud,” Oz said mildly, to the others loud amusement.

“Dip It Low" Christina Millan
Featuring Fabolous