The tent is threadbare by now, patches forming to let in translucent moonlight. The stars come as a shock to a city-bred boy from California. The night sky, to him, is a place of darkness and dread. Things walk in it that hide during daylight, pretending to be something they aren’t when others can see them. Here, where the heat of the day has dropped off to icy chills, the stars are brilliant. Scattered patterns picked out in light, so that even the darkest night isn’t. He wonders, sometimes, what his life would be if night skies had been like this back home.
He doesn’t wonder that often, though. Xander likes who he is, good and bad.
This is his last night in South Africa. He’s got a reputation by now. Some call him White Devil, come to take their girls away—or worse. Others call him Shaman, White Shaman, and when he appears, the rumors always make their way over to him. There’s always one person who wants the girl to go away—to get care, or to simply be gone doesn’t matter to Xander. He’s stopped anticipating the way he used to, and when a furtive figure appears near his camp-ground to whisper about a girl three hours north who has exhibited fits of rage that end up with broken bones—never hers—he knows he has to go look.
Sometimes the ‘girls’ are demons. Sometimes they’re worse.
He doesn’t stay in the cities anymore, even when he can. He’s lost his taste for them. The hustle and bustle and stench of them make him ill. He still needs them, though, which is why his camp-grounds are only a twenty minute jeep-ride into main street. There was good bartering here and Xander’s jeep is stocked—food, gasoline, water, and a wicked looking ax he saw in a bazaar stand are all packed up and waiting for dawn. He doesn’t travel at night anymore, if he can help it. Night is for hunkering down, holy water encircling his ‘area’ to prevent midnight crawlers from interrupting him. He’s been interrupted before and has no desire to try and fight with his cock half-hanging out again.
But tonight is quiet, the stars shining through the worn patches to create kaleidoscopes of light on his skin. He traces his fingers over the patterns, hopscotching over belly and hip, sliding down a cluster that forms over his thigh. The skin of his arms and chest is darkly tan and hard from withstanding the sun, but here it’s still soft. Still pale and pink and smooth as a baby’s, almost velvety against his fingers. It’s the only softness he allows himself.
Or maybe it’s the only softness he’s allowed.
He doesn’t think about girls anymore. He can’t. Girls are his job, and while he still takes many pleasures from his job, this is no longer one of them. He can’t think of them without wondering what he needs to do for them, what others will need them for—so he thinks of other things. When his fantasies finally resolved into recognizable images, he isn’t sure. It doesn’t matter, though. Out here where he touches no one, his mind is free.
Tonight he thinks first of Angel. No surprise, since even in Africa the demise of Wolfram and Hart is felt. Did Angel find solace that night, preparing for a battle he knew he could not win? A few years ago, Xander wouldn’t have wanted that, still jealousy certain that his own desires came first. Now he knows better. So, Angel. Probably wired so tense those huge shoulders would be nearly to his ears, rigid with planning and the worry for his people that Xander made Andrew describe three times before he finally understood it. Xander would arrive, there to offer his pitiful support, because that was what he did. Angel would refuse him, of course. Tell him to “go back to Buffy. She needs you.”
“No, she doesn’t. And anyway, she’s not here. I am.”
“You shouldn’t be.” So certain that his way is always correct, turning down help because it makes himself feel better. Not this time, though. Xander knows how to be humble. “Go back to wherever you came from.”
“No.” The repetition catches Angel’s attention. The quiet certainty isn’t anything he remembers from the hyper, hyper-sensitive boy from high school. “You need help, Angel. I’m here. Don’t turn me away.”
Slowly approaching makes Angel start before he returns to his so-familiar bluster. Crossing his arms over the immaculate suit he wears, glaring down with the disdain Xander knows better than the feel of his own breath inside his lungs. “What are you doing?”
“Showing you how I can help.”
It’s amazing how easy backing Angel into a corner is. Body wedged deep, those eyes Xander used to hate wide with shock as Xander settles on his knees. “Is this what you do now? Is this how you help?”
His pants feel silky underneath Xander’s touch. He’s too used to coarse cloth made of whatever’s on hand. “When I want to.”
In his mind, Xander knows he’s not good at this. He’s only done it the once. But hopefully enthusiasm and the idea of having Xander Harris on his knees before Angel will make it better than his clumsy skills can. He licks and sucks, bringing up red marks that begin fading almost instantly. He’s purposefully clumsy with his teeth, scraping them down sensitive skin that doesn’t taste of salt but does taste of musk and bitter need. Above him, Angel gasps, head thunking back into the corner of the wall. He’s trapped there by his own need and Xander’s unwillingness to move, and that makes Xander’s own cock hard.
“You shouldn’t be doing this.”
Slipping off, Xander uses his hand to keep Angel on edge. “You don’t get to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. So shut up and enjoy it.”
He doesn’t need to say he won’t ever do it again. Angel doesn’t need the reminder, too busy groaning and trying not to thrust as Xander takes him in as deep as he can. It isn’t very, but Angel isn’t minding. He’s too busy cursing in Gaelic, hands in Xander’s hair as weeks upon years of frustration is brought out by a mouth that Xander knows he’s fantasized about. He’s seen the looks, the way Angel’s lips would part when watching Xander’s mouth. It’s what he uses to fuel his desire, now.
Angel shouts when he finally comes, gripping Xander’s hair until it hurts. Xander doesn’t object. Why should he? The pain makes his hand, busy on his own cock, move harder and faster until he’s close, so close ...
Pulling free, large hands touch his shoulders. Sensitive fingers, Buffy’d called them once. Artists fingers. Now Xander knows what she means. “Let me.”
In his tent, Xander rolls his hips up into his hand. His breathing is loud in the stillness, night animals too busy to disturb a lone human making strange noises. He can see Angel, so shocked at Xander’s audacity, confused and probably dismayed at the advance. But still not stopping it.
Groping beside him, Xander flicks open the small tube of moisturizer he uses for these kinds of occasions. Precome is already slick across the tip of his cock, but he needs more. He needs to pretend that for just a little, it’s not his own fist that’s touching him.
“Is this what you wanted? Me touching you this way?”
Xander shivers, unable to breathe properly as he takes in the sight of Giles’ hand cupping his groin. “Wh-what?”
“Come now, Xander. You aren’t a child anymore. If you knew how long I waited for this moment. . .” Giles lets his thumb move in an arc, right over the head of Xander’s quickly-hardening cock. “You can’t tell me you didn’t think about this, either.”
He’s not sure why Giles has to be the aggressor. Or rather, he is sure and doesn’t like to think about it much. But here, sitting in the comfortable chairs Giles has in his study, the funny pages a luxury he hasn’t seen since the plane disembarked in Cairo, Xander can let himself. Just a little. “I thought about it.”
“Did you think I didn’t notice you? Or was I just so old that I had, of course, forgotten what it was like, young and impressionable.” The palm is in on the action now, contracting in a way that makes Xander gasp and sit up straighter in his chair. “I saw you, Xander. So young. Trying to hide how hard you were. I thought it was for the girls at first, as I know you loved both of them. But it wasn’t, was it? It was for me.”
His legs fall open easily, spreading himself wide for Giles’ touch. “Yeah. Sometimes I used to hang around after Buffy and Willow left. Just to see if you needed help with something. Or if maybe ... ”
Giles smiles. His skin is more wrinkled now, and the pressures of leading the new Council has distanced him even further, but the smell is the same—leather and old tea and the lingering scent of pages gone rotten with age. The sense of calm authority that Xander used to cling to as the only safety he knew of. “Maybe I could teach you new and different things?”
It’s easy to fall back into that role. Nervous and unsure and so full of energy it leaks out no matter how hard he tries to shove it down. “Yes.”
Moving closer, Giles leans against his shoulder. “As it happens, I believe there are some lessons you need. They’ll be of great service to you.”
He can feel the library around them, superimposed over Giles’ study. “Lesson-guy, that’s me. Always crackin’ the books.”
“Yes, well, let’s not exaggerate.” Giles slides the zipper down easily, his hand large and warm as it palms over Xander’s freed cock. “Although this isn’t an exaggeration, is it? I must say, Xander, you’ve grown up nicely.”
He whimpers at that, head falling back as he remembers mentally begging Giles to see, to notice, please. “For you,” he murmurs, because at this moment it is for Giles. “Please.”
Giles brushes a kiss over his jaw, still smiling. His hand strokes from root to tip, twisting in a pattern Xander can’t predict, body turning boneless in reaction. “Was this what I needed to do to teach you manners? I wanted to. I wanted to feel you in my palm, hot and eager, open for whatever I wanted to teach you. Later, we would have done more. I wanted to show you how good men could feel together, how wonderful it is.”
The whimpers are nearly continuous now, Xander’s hips bucking upward in short, sharp bursts. “So why didn’t you? I wanted to learn.”
“Because you were a beautiful boy, Xander, but just a boy.” Giles’ hand is moving faster now, burning hot and so perfect Xander can’t do more than jerk and gasp. “I could never have taken advantage of you like that.”
That stills the churning in his belly long enough that Xander can open his eye. Finding Giles’ serious expression, he smiles. A huge, carefree smile. “That’s why I wanted you,” he says, grave despite the hand still jerking his cock.
Giles kisses him then. It’s not the sucking kind of kiss he’s used to, two people busily trying to shove their bodies into each other’s any way they could. This is nearly chaste, a delicate trace of lips and tongue against his own. Tasting him, he realizes. Giles is tasting him with mouth and hand, memorizing him. He’ll be wank material after this, because he knows neither of them will ever do this again. But here and now, it’s all right. It’s what they want.
Xander undoes Giles’ trousers with a deftness he knows surprises the older man. He ignores it in favor of stroking Giles hard, catching him up to the hand that never ceases on Xander. Their arms bump until Xander finally finds the rhythm. He flushes, remembering when mistakes used to mean the end of the world and not just another thing to correct. Giles chuckles into his mouth, teasing him with a harsh nip on his lower lip. Xander groans in reaction. “Wanted this for so long,” he murmurs, because he can’t help it. Xander the high school boy never stopped talking, even when he should’ve.
Giles doesn’t object, though, his hand speeding yet more. “I want to see you come, Xander. I’ve waited too long for that. Show me what you look like as you come.”
The words impact on his spine. He gasps, releasing Giles’s cock as his hips suck up all the available energy to thrust up harsh and fast. He watches Giles as Giles watches him, the avid expression not hiding lips that murmured out words Xander didn’t know Giles knew. And then he’s grabbing at Giles’ cock, turning the tables, except the words he murmurs aren’t inaudible.
“Please, Giles, let me see. Let me know. I want to taste, please. Let me know what it could’ve been like. Giles. Rupert. Please.”
Giles gasps and his body goes rigid against Xander’s side. He comes with a strangled cry Xander knows he’ll never forget, pulsing against Xander’s palm as he releases. It takes him a long moment before he’s regained his breath. “Xander—I wanted—”
“Sh. I know. I wanted to see you, first.”
His body trembles now. Old injuries ache—his left knee, the ankle that’s never truly healed, the tightness along his shoulders that hasn’t eased since before Anya died—but he ignores them. Pain is a constant he doesn’t know how to do without, anymore. It just is, as familiar as the touch that always makes Xander jerk like he’s touched and electrical socket. He presses that point, right behind his balls, harder. Shocks form in front of his eyes, as brilliant as the stars that bath his skin.
“She used to speak to stars, my Dru. They’d whisper things to her.”
“Yeah? Did you get jealous?”
Spike’s a statue made of marble in the moonlight. “Sometimes, yeah. Most of the time, I liked it. She was always safe when she went off to listen to their songs. I never had to worry about her hurting herself, then. Sometimes she’d tell me something useful, too.”
Xander tightens his arm around Spike’s waist. He’s so slim that it’s as easy as curling his arm around a girl’s. “But other times?”
“It was a part of her I couldn’t share.”
Ducking his head, Xander kisses a line from jaw to where the collarbone ends on the middle of Spike’s shoulder. “Everybody’s got secrets.”
It’s the wrong thing to say, because it makes Spike shift out of the hold Xander’s arms and legs have created around him. His eyes are grey as he looks into Xander’s single one. “Is that what this is about? Secrets?”
“Is that what this’s about?”
Spike’s lips move in the faintest of smiles. “This,” he murmurs, hips rocking backwards to remind Xander that they’re still joined together. “Wanting me like this.”
“That’s not really secret. At least, it better not be.”
Spike twists around even further, laying a gentle kiss on pursed lips. “That’s not what I mean, love, and you know it. This isn’t down and dirty, though we’ve done that. You’ve let me on nice and sweet, begging me to call you names as I take you inside me.”
Xander moans, starting to thrust into the only tightness he ever really craves. His fingers find familiar protrusions and grab on, digging in fresh tattoos. “Yeah? Tell me more.”
“Go down on my knees for you, I would, wiggling my hips till you finally take the bait. Gotten so big and strong down here in the desert. I’d brace myself in the dust while you show me how good it is. Big cock inside me, warming me the way African heat never does. Let you play with me, cock and balls all for you to touch whenever you want. Because I’ve got the same right, don’t I love? Only I can tell you to hold still so I can swallow you down. It’s only my touch you’ll accept, wherever you are, whatever’s going on.”
Xander releases one hip to brace himself on the ground. He needs the leverage to find the angle he knows Spike loves, the speed and pressure he craves. “Yes.”
Head dropping back, brighter than the stars that still dapple their bodies, Spike swallows and grabs Xander’s shins. Squeezing, he lets Xander fuck him. “You trust me.”
He groans. He can’t help it. Trust has been in thin supply for so very long that the word does more than any endearment or dirty phrase. “Yes.”
“Me. Who hated you for so long. Me, who was too busy trying to look up the Slayer’s skirts to look around and see what else was there. Me, who didn’t let you know I wasn’t coming out of the school like I promised. Who didn’t tell you when I’d come back, not even when I was whole. Me. Spike. William the Bloody.”
They’re truly fucking now, the sounds of two bodies swiveling together underscored by harsh panting. “Yes. Spike. Spike, Spike, Spike—”
The change in air pressure throws him out of his fantasy. Scrambling around for clothes, he tries to remember if he’s set his circle that night. The holy water doesn’t stop everything, but anyone in the area knows not to go near where the strange white man sleeps. So it has to be a demon, or something else that’s just as—
A body flattens him against his bedroll. “Tents don’t need invites,” a wicked voice tells him. “And I’ve already got my invite from you, don’t I.”
It’s not a question. The mouth that takes his, kisses demanding and nearly rough, doesn’t bother with permission. Nor do the hands that run over his body, finding his cock and stroking it back to hardness. Xander doesn’t know how to react to the onslaught. He isn’t sure he can. His body wants this too much. Needs it.
“You know how long it took me to find you?” is murmured when his mouth is finally released, his nipple the next target. “South Africa, his Knowingness tells me. ‘In the poorer parts’, chimes in her Knowingness, and neither of them know a damned thing, do they? Don’t know what it’s like to be waiting and hoping and wishing for something you can’t give words to.”
There’s something Xander should figure out from those words. Something vital that Xander needs to understand. He doesn’t, though. All he understands is that his cock is being tugged on more firmly than he had just moments before, his chest bitten and sucked on until he nears tears. And then, oh, then, there’s a mouth on his cock. The wetness is a shock that leaves him reeling, unable to catch his breath. He’s sucked and licked, soothing skin that’s nearly raw from a stretch of nights where interruption, if it happens, usually means death.
“And then she tells me not to go. Says I should stay, maybe go to Rome. Been there. Know what I learned?” There’s a familiar snick Xander can’t seem to identify, then a soft groan. He realizes his eye isn’t open. So this isn’t real. It isn’t. “Learned I waited too damned long for this.”
Something wet and solid is sliding inside him. Xander gasps, eye opening as wide as it can to see nothing but stars and light. This, this he’s never done. Not in all his dreams or fantasies. This is something he’s reserved for reality. When he finally ... when he knows ...
“That’s right,” a voice he knows he recognizes croons. “Nice an’ slow, now. Don’t want to hurt you. But soon, soon, love. I promise.”
He can’t breathe. There’s nothing too breathe as the bits inside him suddenly becomes wider and thicker. There’s no pain, really. The burning in his eye—the one that never sees—is too strong for the other to hurt.
“See? Get you nice and ready for me. You’ve been wanting this for ages. I knew. Fuck, I knew before everything went down in L.A. I knew this is where I’d end up. Didn’t know aboutthis waiting for me, but I knew you wanted me even still. Came as fast as I could, love. Had to get some things settled first.”
The bits inside him—fingers—disappear and he moans. He doesn’t understand what’s happening, but it finally occurs to him that he doesn’t need to fight this. He wants it too much. He ...
“Look at me.”
He can’t get air enough to say no, so he shakes his head.
“Xander. Look at me.”
He almost sobs when he hears the affection—warm and sharing—in those words. Spike’s words. Because it’s Spike there between his legs, his cock buried inside Xander’s body. Spike, smiling at him without a leer or sneer to twist the expression. Spike, touching him relevantly, now that he’s got Xander’s attention, finding all those soft spots and making them glow.
“This what you wanted?” Spike asks.
Xander goes still. His heart nearly stops. Spike isn’t asking about the sex Xander knows he’s needed for some time. He isn’t even asking about the method. He’s asking something else.
His vision finally clears, as sharp as if it’s day outside. Pushing himself up onto his elbows, he gasps a little as that changes the angle. And then he smiles. “Yeah. It is.”
They rut together until they’re exhausted, come sticky on their skin. Better than the orgasm, though, is the sleepy kisses they exchange, words they’ll forget in the morning. Words they can repeat in the morning, because Spike is promising he’s not going away again. This is what he wants, and all those repressed African tribesmen they’ll meet can go hang themselves. No more chasing after phantoms, no more desires that go unmet. No more trust left hanging. Spike’s not leaving until Xander says he has to.
Xander’s pretty sure he never will.