It is warm and sticky and hot as a Hellmouth in California in August, but there is nowhere else that I would rather be. We are stretched out on white sheets, naked with a soft breeze from the lazily turning fan barely cooling our sweat-slicked bodies. Riley lays on his back with one muscled forearm resting across his eyes and his breathing deep and even. I lay with my head on his chest and my leg wrapped over his outstretched one.
As I slowly trace the line of his hip, I wonder what I am doing here, but it doesn't really trouble me anymore. I just accepted the knowledge that I had found some sort of peace here. We had found it together. I also know that soon I would have to get up, take a shower and get dressed to go meet my fiancé at The Magic Box. We have come to accept that as well.
Riley has been in town for five weeks and I have lost track of the number of afternoons that we have ended up in this situation. I decided not to think about it. That's me, King of Avoidance. Funny, that I never once considered that there was any other option. He is my soul mate. Not in the flowers and stars and happily-ever-after kind of way, but we share some of the same scars, the same hurt, the same lonely ache in our souls.
The alarm goes off and Riley reaches over to turn it off. He looks at me and gives me a slow smile, then runs his hand down the side of my face. I turn into the caress and place a kiss in his palm. Then I turn away from him and stand, gathering up my clothes.
Anya is waiting for me. The woman I am going to marry and my friends, except one, are across town, waiting for their goofy sidekick to show up and begin another evening of going through the motions and routines our lives have become since Buffy's death. We patrol and take care of Dawn and play the parts that destiny seems to have laid out for us. I don't think that any of us ever consider that there might be any other way.
A little while later, I walk into the magic box and am surprised to see that Dawn isn't there. Most afternoons she is there doing her homework from summer school, sitting on a stool near the counter, swinging her legs back and forth and talking a mile a minute to whoever may be listening.
Anya is uncharacteristically silent and frowning as she counts the money in the register. Usually, this is an activity guaranteed to put a smile on her face. I walk up to her and place a kiss on her cheek, wrapping my arms around her. She turns and burrows her face into my chest, grabbing onto my shirt with her small hand. Now, I'm really worried.
I look around to see what could have upset her and see only Willow and Tara sitting at the research table and talking in heated whispers. Willow keeps gesturing toward a book that is open in front of her. Tara seems to notice my presence and nudges will, who looks up with a guilty expression on her face. It quickly becomes her resolve face, though, and Anya is still holding onto me. Uh, oh.
My head is spinning. I think I can actually feel it as everything seems to fly by all mixed up and swirly like when Jesse and I used to lay on our backs on the merry-go-round in the park. We would take turns being the one who would grab ahold and run really, really fast, making it fly around and round. Then whoever was pushing would jump on and we would lie really still as the clouds seemed to twirl and twist above us and we seemed disconnected from reality. Kind of like right now. Somebody stop this crazy whirl-a-gig, I want to get off.
"Xander. Xander!" Willow is getting impatient as I sit there trying to remember that the way to breathe is in, out, in, out, but damn, that brings to mind Riley, who I really don't want to think about right now, and... Oh, shit! Riley.
Buffy's boyfriend. Buffy's ex-boyfriend. Buffy's ex-boyfriend who I am having sex with on a regular basis, and can't tell that, "Gee, my best friend just figured out how to bring your ex-girlfriend back from the dead. Wanna come?"
Anya elbows me sharply in the ribs, effectively stopping that train of thought. She hisses in her stage whisper, "Say something..."
I decide on honesty (for a change) and quietly reply, "I don't know what to say."
Tara offers one of her shy smiles and I can't help but to offer her a small one in return.
Willow takes my lack of opinion as approval and stops asking anyone's opinion, informing us of her plan. She tells us how she is going to bring back Buffy and I know that no matter how we may feel, however wrong it may seem, she's going to do it, and we're going to help her, because it might just work. No, because it has to work and Buffy, our friend, the slayer, the woman, the one who we are all a little bit in love with and in awe of will be here with us and not lying in a hidden grave, dead and gone, because some bitch-queen hell god decided she didn't like our world.
The little bell above the door tinkles and we all get quiet for a minute. Anya starts to get up and go do her charming best to part whatever sucker just walked through the door from his money.
I hear her dejectedly say, "Oh, it's just you," before returning to cling to my side once more.
I look up and it's Riley. He's dressed all in black with black cargo pants, jungle boots and a turtleneck and light leather jacket, despite the fact that it's August and sweltering outside. He couldn't be more in uniform if he was wearing camouflage BDU's and carrying a rifle. That stony-eyed, tight-lipped, lantern-jawed look he gets when he is being especially serious is firmly in place.
I know what he is going to say, even as he asks to talk to me. Willow glares as me and I bulge my eyes a little and look back at her hard as if to ask if she thinks I'm an idiot. I guess that sometimes she does, but there's no way I am going to tell Riley about this. If I'm right, I'm about to get a bit of a reprieve on that anyway and it's one more reason he can avoid me later... when Buffy's back.
I lead him back to the training room. I see Tara looking at us, speculatively, but shrug it off. I've given up trying to understand women.
When we enter the training room, I shift nervously, unable to stand still. Riley manages. He is like a rock, solid and strong and everything I'm not as the moment.
Nobody comes in here much anymore. Occasionally, Giles does and cleans up the place, touches the weapons and stares off into space, lost, remembering. I can't take it anymore. Everything is just so wrong. Everything, except...
I grab Riley by the shoulders and push him up against the wall, about two feet from the doorway. My hands press his shoulders against the cinderblocks as my mouth smashed against his, holds him in place.
He stands still under my assault, kissing me back. Slowly he raises one hand and runs it softly down my back. My hands are everywhere, tangled in his hair, digging into his hard chest. Then I am pulling and tugging at his shirt, trying to get it free, so that I can feel his skin, feel him.
My hands find his washboard abs and his sculpted chest and slide through the light coating of fine blonde hairs and the sweat starting to form there. I feel his nipples turn into little points under my hands and I moan deeply into his mouth.
I pull my hands down his chest, scratching him with my blunt nails and his hips buck into mine. I grab his belt and undo it, opening his pants. I lift up his shirt and lean in pressing kisses onto his chest. I run my tongue down the trail of hair below his belly button as I get on my knees in front of him.
I mouth his hard cock through his underwear, watching the pleasure and anticipation build in him. Fuck it. I'm tired of playing. I yank down his pants and underwear and press his hips back against the wall. I wrap my mouth around the head of his dick and bury my head in his crotch as hard and fast as I can stand.
I gag a little but refuse to stop. I begin sucking hard and fast, bobbing up and down on my lover's shaft. Our time together has made me an expert on him. I know just where to flick my tongue, where to provide a little more pressure, how to fondle his balls and every little trick that will drive Riley crazy. I use them all.
His hands are in my hair, grabbing, caressing, but not forcing. It's so good between us. It always is.
I hear Willow's voice and it seems like it's getting closer. Fuck. I hope to God she doesn't come back here. She may be gay, but none of us is prepared for her to find Riley pushed up against the wall of the training room while I give him the best blowjob of his life, especially since my fiancé is on the other side of that wall.
He's bucking into me now, his body begging for the release that is building as his balls start to tighten and draw up. I pull down on them tenderly, caressing him. He moans my name quietly as I extend his pleasure.
I lose track for an instant and my teeth scrape him lightly, as I listen for Willow. Riley moans hard above me and I decide I don't care if the entire population of California walks through that open door. All I care about is this man, this moment. And Oh, God, I think I love him.
My heart skips and I suck him all the way in, in surprise. His fists tighten in my hair and I look up and he's fucking beautiful and he's coming. Dear God, I did this to him and I almost come in my pants as I watch him and swallow hard to catch each spurt in my throat.
I let him slip from my lips, kissing his softened member and he's like a wild man, returning my passion. He backs me up against the arm of the couch and my knees threaten to buckle. He reaches into my jeans and pulls out my aching cock, the head swollen and purple with need. I am so close.
His fist works up and down, squeezing and pulling at my cock and my hips bounce up toward him on every stroke, hungry for more. I'm going to scream. I know it and so I grab his head and pull him to me in a bruising kiss. And we're falling. He lands on top of me as my back hits the couch and I'm coming. The warm wetness spreads across our stomachs and we kiss, on and on.
He stops and looks at me. He kisses me once more, and then moves to the side, grabbing a small workout towel from the back of the couch. He gently cleans us up and finally tells me what he came to say.
"I'm leaving tonight."
He nods. "The transport leaves at ten. I'm already packed." He paused. "I can't really tell you where I'm going. I don't know all the details."
Riley ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. "I don't know when I'll be back. Take care of yourself. Ok? My apartment's there if you need to get away."
I touch his face softly. He turns and kisses my palm, just like I did his, a few hours ago.
I smile briefly, but it fades as I tell him, "You take care of yourself, too. I'm here; we're all here. You have a place to call home now - to come back to."
Even as I say it, I wonder. That little voice yells at me from inside, telling me that I'm wrong, that he'll never come back, not to me.
We stand and straighten up. He even pulls a comb from one of his pockets. Coincidence? Or was he planning on getting lucky? I chuckle and he looks at me ruefully, reading my mind.
Finally, it's time to face the masses. We walk toward the door and I resist the urge to hold his hand. We hear Willow wondering loudly, "What are they doing? What are they talking about?"
"Um, you know... stuff - guy stuff," Tara answers. She looks a little nervous as we come to the doorway and can see her.
Anya jumps on that statement, though. "Yes, guy stuff. It's good that Xander has a guy friend. He spends too much time with women. You are all women and he needs man friends, someone he can bond with, who isn't old like Giles, or below him, like those sweaty men who work for him. It's called "male bonding". It's like a ritual for males to be strong and happy. The magazines say it's very important for a man to do the bonding thing."
I smile a little as I think about the "bonding" Riley and I do, and I'll never tell her differently. I'm getting good at keeping secrets.
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