The warm water felt like caressing fingers as it slowly flowed down their bodies.
“Hell of a way to spend date night,” Angel mumbled and scrubbed the bath sponge against Xander’s shoulder.
“Yeah,” Xander nodded and flexed his bruised shoulder, “I was planning for us to shower together but demon slime wasn’t anywhere in my fantasy.”
“Poor baby,” Angel said and scrubbed harder to get the crusted slime off Xander’s skin.
“You going to make it all better?” Xander turned and Angel started working on the green slime that had dried on the human’s neck.
“Too tired,” Angel admitted.
“Yeah, me too,” Xander sighed and turned the warm water up a few notches. His skin slowly turned red under the heat of the water.
“The kids are over at Cordy’s. We have a rare teenage-free night and all we do is get covered in slime…” Angel squirted some more shower gel on the sponge.
“Is it harmful in any way?” Xander asked. He was picking dried gunk off his wrist. He winced when he realized the small hairs on his hands and arms were stuck in the slime.
Angel took Xander’s wrist in his hand and started rubbing the soapy sponge against the dried gunk gently, “Don’t think so. Wesley’ll tell us when he identifies the demon.”
“He’s hitting the books?” Xander looked relieved when the slime started loosening from his skin and went down the drain with the dirty water, “Guess his and Fred’s date night got screwed too.”
“He did seem kind of disappointed,” Angel nodded and rinsed them both one last time. Xander turned the water off and stepped out of the bathtub. Angel pressed the last water out of the sponge and dumped it in the trashcan.
“At least Spike didn’t get slimed,” Xander said and started drying off with a big fluffy towel.
“Bet he’s covered in fledge dust, though,” Angel took the towel from Xander and started drying the human’s arms, “Buffy says Sunnydale has been run over with them lately.”
“It’s good Spike went to help her,” Xander said and brushed a hand through his unruly dark hair.
Angel sat down on the toilet lid and started gently drying off Xander’s flat stomach. His cool hands ghosted over the soft skin just below Xander’s bellybutton.
“Angel?” Xander looked down at him and put his own hands over the vampire’s. They stood there, a frozen tableau, both of them covering Xander’s stomach.
“I know,” Angel didn’t move his hands.
“I’m not ready yet…” Xander said.
“I know,” Angel repeated and looked up at Xander.
“When I’m ready, we’ll try, okay?” Xander promised and rubbed his fingers over the back of Angel’s hands.
“Take all the time you want,” Angel kissed Xander’s stomach and felt strong fingers cart through his damp hair, “I know Jesse’s birth took a lot out of you…and…” Angel’s voice trailed off.
A sad silence filled the bathroom.
Finally Xander sighed, “You want me to warm you a mug of blood?”
Angel stood up and started drying his own chest with the towel, “You going downstairs?”
“Thought I’d get a cup of hot chocolate before bed.”
“Make it two mugs of blood for me and it’s a date,” Angel’s voice was muffled by the thick towel as he dried his hair.
Xander flipped the switch and the overhead light flickered on. He rummaged through the fridge and pulled out two blood bags. He found three mugs and poured one of the blood bags into the blue mug.
Suddenly shivers ran down his spine and Xander shrugged his shoulders attempting to fight off the odd feeling. He plugged the electric kettle in and pinched the bridge of his nose. He straightened up and put the mug of blood in the microwave oven.
“Man, I’m tired,” he mumbled and took the little can of chocolate drink powder and dropped two spoonfuls into his mug. The microwave beeped and Xander took Angel’s blue mug out of it. He filled the third mug with blood from the last bag and put it in the microwave oven.
The kettle’s light turned green and he turned it off and poured the hot water over the powder.
Dragging his feet he walked over to the kitchen table and sat down on one of the six chairs. He sniffed the hot chocolate and closed his eyes. Shivers ran through him again.
The kitchen door opened behind him and footsteps screeched against the linoleum tiles.
“This for Dad?” the microwave made a clicking noise as it was opened.
“Yeah, just leave it on the counter,” Xander said and took a sip of the chocolate, “He’ll drink it later.”
“Better get here quick,” the kid said, “Cold blood tastes like crap.”
“Hey,” Xander sleepily grumbled.
“Sorry,” the teenager sat down on the chair opposite his father.
“S’oaky. You done with your project?” Xander asked.
“Almost,” Connor said, “Liam helped me with the computer when Kathy couldn’t figure it out. I just need to find some cool music for the PowerPoint presentation.”
“You could ask Lorne to help you pick something out,” Xander suggested, leant back in his chair and studied his son.
The teenager had grown almost two inches in what seemed like as many months. His ocean blue eyes would certainly make him a favorite with the girls once he started filling out. The teenager ran a hand through his brown slightly - at least according to Angel - too long hair.
“Come on, Daddy,” he protested, “He’ll make me listen to Diana Ross!”
“Okay, okay,” Xander smiled and held his hands up in the air.
“I’ll just try to get something quiet. Maybe…um… classical music,” Connor mumbled and tapped the table with his fingers.
“So?” Xander asked when the boy seemed reluctant to say what was on his mind.
“So…I’m thinking about taking art classes,” Connor said and looked a little embarrassed.
“Yeah,” Conner drawled, “Miss Schuler has this really great art class where you get to try out different arts and stuff.”
“Sounds good,” Xander said and drank the last of his chocolate.
“Um…I’ll have to stop playing basketball.”
“You want to do the art class more than basketball?” Xander watched his son as the boy clenched his jaw and looked very much like Angel.
“I really want this art class and I’m pretty good at drawing. I mean, not as good as Jesse cause he’s…you know,” Connor shrugged.
“So stop basketball and start art class,” Xander’s words made the teenager smile.
“Who’re you talking to?” Xander turned in his seat and looked at Angel standing in the doorway.
“I was just talking to…” he turned back and stared at the empty chair opposite his own.
“Are you okay?” Angel asked. He walked over and crouched down next to Xander’s chair and looked up at him.
“I was…” Xander looked from the chair to Angel, “I think maybe I’m hallucinating.”
“Not necessarily,” Wesley said as he came into the kitchen with an old book in his hands, “The demon you vanquished tonight was an Cartesian. A dimension opener also known as a gate keeper.”
“What do they do?” Angel asked. He stood up and pulled out the chair next to Xander and sat down. Xander leant a little over so their shoulders were touching.
“Well,” Wesley said and started pulling the chair opposite Xander out.
“Don’t!” Xander almost yelled. He blushed when both Angel and Wesley studied him, “Just… um… could you sit there instead?” he pointed at the chair next to the one Wesley was intending to sit in.
“Of course,” Wesley nodded and pushed the chair back only to pull its neighbor out and sit down, “As I was saying,” he opened the book and lovingly pressed the frail pages down, “The Cartesian demons have the power to open doorways to other dimensions.”
“Like hell dimensions?” Angel asked.
“Yes…But also other dimensions like ours,” Wesley said and pressed his index finger on a specific part of the Latin text.
“I’m not sure…” Angel began but Wesley continued.
“Imagine a dimension where Hitler managed to take over all of Europe and maybe America as well,” Wesley closed the book, “Or perhaps one where slavery wasn’t abolished.”
“Different versions,” Xander mumbled, “Placed where things took a different path.”
“Indeed,” Wesley nodded.
“So we got covered in Cartesian slime and now we can open the gates to other dimensions?” Angel didn’t look thrilled.
“No. See if a human comes into contact with the slime, blood or…eh…other bodily secretions of the Cartesian then they can see into other dimensions…perhaps feel like a part of that dimension for a short while.”
“What I saw was real?” Xander asked hopefully.
“Yes,” Wesley smiled, “Whatever you saw was real. Just as real as our own dimension.”
“What did you see?” Angel asked Xander.
“Later…” Xander patted the vampire’s arm, “I’ll tell you about it later,” he said and couldn’t stop smiling.