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You Can't Go Home Again

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Steam rose from the scorched earth beneath his feet. He walked slowly away from the plane, dust scuffing the mirror-like reflection of his shoes and settling over him in a fine mist. For a change, there was nothing mystical or supernatural about his situation, just southern California in the summer. He sighed and hitched his olive drab duffle a bit higher onto his shoulder, ducking to enter the doorway of the squat concrete building that served as a terminal at this makeshift airstrip.

"Orders?" a well-muscled man in a security uniform asked in a mild voice, one hand resting casually on his hip, just above the stock of a polished 9mm.

Lifting the side of his mouth in a casual smile, he handed the guard his papers and glanced around the room. There were only a couple of people here, the guard, his partner, a couple of secretaries and probably another man behind the half-closed door on the right. It wasn't much tacticly, but this place was seldom used and the secretaries could probably hold their own in a fight, especially if the artillery he suspected was under their desks was really there.

"Vacation, Agent Finn?" the guard looked confused.

When Riley nodded, the man muttered to himself, "Who would come here on vacation?" Aloud, he said, "Marsha will give you the keys and sign out a vehicle to you, if you need one." He inclined his head to the secretary on the right. "If you need anything else, Sir, let us know."

Riley nodded and gathered his belongings. He filled out the required paperwork and recieved the keys to a Jeep Cherokee.

"You do realize that your leave is conditional pending recall or reassignment, correct?" Marsha asked.


"Good, well, sign here." She handed him the last of the forms and he signed. She smiled at him for the first time since he walked through the door. "Have a nice time."

Moments later he was on the road approaching a sign that said, "Welcome to Sunnydale."

He pulled to a stop in front of the white house and applied the brake. Sitting there for a moment, he thought about what he was doing. He wasn't sure how he would be recieved. Seven months ago, he hadn't left on the best of terms and he wasn't the same person he had been then. Cliched as it may have sounded, it was amazing what clarity could be found facing monsters in the jungle. It makes a man examine a few of his personal demons. The way he had left things with Buffy was one of his.

He slowly walked up to the front door, figuring Dawn was probably watching him through the window and waiting for the fireworks. Well, there was no time like the present. He knocked briskly on the door, a concise purposeful rap, and he waited.

Nothing happened. The silence was almost deafening.

Apparently no one was home. He looked around for Joyce's car and that's when he saw it. There was a 'For Sale' sign swaying on its post on the lawn next to the driveway. No one was here and the house was for sale.

"What's going on? Joyce... I hope it's not bad," He worried, to himself, realizing that his homecoming may be harder than he thought.

He left and went to the magic shop.

Xander was there and Anya, but there was no sign of Buffy. Xander looked like he had seen a ghost. Maybe I should have called ahead. This really wasn't going the way I had planned. He and I just looked at each other. I saw him open and close his mouth twice and then just stand there looking at me. I smiled lazily at him. He was a good guy and one of the things I had missed.

"Hey, you guys know where I can find Buffy? I went by the house. It was for sale. What's up with that?"

"Umm, Riley, man... "

I never considered myself more than mildly superstitious, but in that moment I knew what it felt like to have someone walk over your grave. I knew I wouldn't like what was coming next. I gripped the back of the chair in front of me.

He exhaled. "Buffy's... dead. Joyce died a few months ago. Dawn's with Giles. I'm sorry, man."

I looked at him blankly. I just stared and there was silence. Anya didn't even say anything, and I wondered why she wasn't babbling inanely. He reached out and put his hand on my shoulder, squeezing, comforting and I knew the meaning of shellshock. One hell of a bomb had just been dropped on me and Xander's hand was on my arm.

It felt good. A shiver ran through me. "Not now. I can't deal with this now," repeated itself over and over in my head. I left. I just turned around and walked back out the way I came, without saying a word.

I wandered aimlessly for a while and then found myself at my apartment a few hours later. I had kept it. I always figured I'd be back, that I would have something to come back to. It wasn't about Buffy so much as here. This place had become like home to me. The people here were home. Like Xander.

It took me a long time to realize that. For a long time, so much of it was about Buffy. I was in the military and I was taught that home was where you put your boots. No roots, no ties, no real friends. But I had friends, and I had roots, and I had a home.

Buffy and I had been going nowhere for a long time. I had come back to make peace, offer friendship. She and Angel were still friends, and she and I hadn't been that tragic. We could make it work, maybe. I wanted to be here, to be home. I was pretty sure the others would accept me. Especially if Buffy did. Xander would. Well, I thought he would. We were friends, kind of.

I had thought about him a lot while I was gone. I told him things, shared things with him that I hadn't told anyone else. And Xander saw right through me, always knew what was going on beneath the surface. With Xander, I hadn't felt like Buffy's boyfriend, a convenient attachment to use as needed. I was a person, a man, just like him, a twin soul. But that was before Buffy died.

I sighed and started hauling boxes out of the closet. My homecoming was not to be after all. I started to pack up my stuff, wondering what I was going to do now. Where would I go? Did I really want to go back to the life I had before: no roots, no ties, no real friends.

Someone knocked at the door. I went and opened it. Xander. I stepped aside and then turned my back and went back to packing, without watching to see if he was following. Inside I was panicking and yet resigned. Fuck, what was I supposed to do now? It wasn't supposed to happen like this. What was happening? Xander.

He stood there and watched me for a few moments, silent. I could feel the anger building in him until it seemed to radiate in waves off of him. The heat of it seemed to coil low in my stomach. I was so empty, hollow, but near him I felt this heat, the liquid warmth of his emotions, so alive. Then he exploded.

"What, you're just gonna pack up and leave again? Didn't get it out of your system the first time? Why did you even come back? Did you suddenly decide that you were going to accept whatever scraps Buffy sent your way? Did you think she would just be sitting here waiting for you when she didn't want you enought to ask you to stay the first time? Tell me... what the hell are you doing here?"

I stared at him as he stood there, breathing hard, shocked at his outburst. He was so angry.

I sat down. "I don't know....

"I was... I wanted to come back, to belong. I wanted things to be like they used to be. Not exactly like they used to be, not with Buffy, but here, with you guys. With you.

"I..." I stopped and shrugged my shoulders. I didn't know what to say. I didn't expect him to be so angry. I thought he would be the one person to understand. "I thought you would understand."

"Why? Why should I understand? Did you care about me understanding when you just took off without telling us? Did you care about Buffy understanding when you left? Why should we understand now?"

"Maybe you shouldn't, but I thought you would try. I thought of everybody, I could convince you to try. I'm sorry. I really am sorry, Xander." I looked at him pleadingly, nakedly, showing him the emptiness, the need inside of me.

It was a sight he recognized. I had come to him before. When Graham had asked me to go with him and I hadn't known what to do, I went to Xander. I had seriously screwed things up with Buffy, almost killed Spike, had a drink with Spike, and was letting myself become vamp food on a regular basis, all because I wasn't ready to let go of this thing called home. So I went to Xander. I told him everything. I laid everything on the line and he listened, really listened.

I remember kissing him. Hell, I had nothing to lose. I mean I was risking my life on a nightly basis with some nameless vamp, so what was one kiss or one night with someone who was a friend. He told me to go talk to Buffy, "Work it out, do what ever it is going to take to get your head on straight. I'll be here for you man, but not like this. Not now. Not like this."

I saw him later at the shop. He was with Anya. He looked at me, knowing, understanding and left to let things happen. I left shortly after.

I felt that same emptiness now, the same need for peace that he so naturally provided. There was nothing left. I thought he of all people would understand.

Suddenly, Xander was kissing me. Lips moist and soft and yielding, pressed together, toungues slowly slipping past and over each other, I was falling, sliding down, deep down into an abyss. I had to hold on, go further, deeper, but still hold on. I raised my hands and gripped his face, thumbs caressing cheekbones, fingers entwined in silky soft hair. Gripping, holding, I lost myself in the tangle of lips and tongues.

Closer. Bodies pressed together in a floating dance, we turned, tumbled and found ourselves together on the bed. It cushioned us, freed us. He reached down and grasped the hem of my shirt, tugging it free of my pants, pulling it up. He trembled as his knuckles grazed the skin he exposed. We needed more. I needed to feel his skin on mine, heat blazing between us.

A break. We pulled apart, the briefest of moments and our shirts were gone. Mouths back together like magnets as we devoured each other and our hands roamed over each others chests and sides and backs. He's stronger than I thought, firmer. Years of fighting along the slayer will do that to you, I guess. "No," I moaned, chasing those thoughts away, "Not now, I can't think of her now, just Xander, here and now and hot and hard under me."

Hard. His cock pressed against mine, the layers of cloth a barrier, but still I felt the pressure, the curve, the swollen need that matched mine, and for a moment I thought I might lose it then and there without even having been touched. I unbuttoned his pants and tore down the zipper, pushing my hand roughly into his pants and then tenderly freeing my prize, so hard and yet so soft in my hand. I stoked him up and down, up and down, and he was glistening, damp.

Eager. He arched his hips into my touch and I pressed down into him. My own balls started to throb as I gripped him gently and ran the pad of my thumb so slowly over his head. I caught the bead of moisture there and without thinking released him to bring it to my lips. I twirled my thumb in my mouth, sucking the salty sweet taste of him. Our eyes met, as I glanced up at him, and he was staring enraptured, his eyes locked on my mouth.

Needing. He was reaching for me, and I opened my pants, pushing them down with my feet. I freed myself and grabbed him. We turned, flipped, and then he was on top, his weight bearing down on me. We were naked, hard, together and looking at each other, our breath caught in our throats. I could see him struggle to swallow, his adam's apple moving convulsively as he braced himself up on his arms, pulling our chests apart. The fan blew cool air between our sweat dampened bodies and he started to move away.

Lost. I moaned his name, a plea, and I wanted to cry out, "don't go, don't leave me." He didn't. He just moved down my body and grasped my cock in his hand. He stroked me slowly, his brow wrinkled in concentration, and he absently ran his tongue over his lips. His tanned hand slid over the shimmering pale skin of my dick, as he focused on the head disappearing in and out of his fist. I arched up and he ran his tongue over me. I gripped the sheets as I saw him roll the taste over his tongue, his eyes closed in contemplation. Then engulfed me in his mouth, so warm and wet and tight and OH GOD!

Shivering. I was floating, flying, I lifted one hand to tangle in his hair, to hold on. He was my lifeline, my anchor, the only thing keeping me from drifting off this plane, lost forever in the depths of pleasure. His tongue moved in a circular motion along the ridge of my cock, right under the flare of the head. I moved convulsively, bringing my leg up between his, to press against his cock, hanging there, fucking the air, and he lowered, rubbing himself against my leg as he sucked me.

Fuck. I was about to come. "Damn it's so good, but not alone. Don't want to be alone again." My thoughts raced as I leaned up, pulling him back to me, lying on my side, facing him, eye to eye, chest to chest, together. I took his hand and guided him over my cock, giving him the rhythm. "It's ok, I'm not stopping, just changing. Touch me." I showed him my thoughts, and reached for him. I carressed and pumped and held out till I felt him bucking against my hand, meeting me thrust for thrust. I couldn't take it any more. It felt so good and I came. The sticky warmth covered us, one blast then two, the sweet tightness and release and I just clenched at him convulsively, unable to do more than jerk in my own pleasure and then I felt it. He joined me and we were hot and wet and sticky and flying together and we kissed, sharing the pleasure like a circuit. He fed from me and to me, and I from him and to him. Then we slowed.

Glowing. Touches became caresses and I slowly traced the line from his chest to his hip. I smiled as I saw him shudder and pull me to him. We rested on each other, the breeze from the fan a welcome cooling. We were together. That moment was so Zen and I knew I would never be alone again. I would always know this moment and feel his breath on my skin, his arms around me, and mine around him. I could have fallen blissfully asleep, it was so peaceful.

I turned and smiled at him and he smiled back.

Then I frowned as a random thought skittered it's way across the passion addled surface of my brain. "What about Anya?"

"Oh, fuck."

I guess that said it all.

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