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So Close and Yet So Far

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Xander woke up more content than he had been in a long time.  He was comfortable and sated, enclosed/encased/enveloped in a warmth that started at his skin and penetrated to his very core.  He felt safe and right and protected, a feeling so often bereft of him throughout his years as a devoted Scooby.  So often he had been the strength--the protector. Not in battle, of course, but at home:  holding a hand, giving a kind word, sharing his mind and body with his partner so as to make the nights easier.  He had given but rarely ever taken in this way, so to find himself letting go, letting someone else—another man, his mind whispers—shoulder this burden…it was relief almost akin to ecstasy.

He gives a small smile considering this, before turning over to face the face/body/mind/man who afforded him this luxury.  He considers the large, sun-kissed body before him, remembering the depth of feeling it had caused the previous night.  Without thought or reservation, Xander begins, gently at first, to touch and explore his partner.  He strokes the man’s stomach with fingertips, feeling the ridges of his abs and the sharp line of his hip, but slowly—so slowly.  When Xander’s ministrations become more heated, more insistant, the sleeping man stirs, and Xander glances up to his face.

Riley makes a small sound in his throat, before one side of his mouth draws up, as if pulled by a string.  He opens his eyes to find taut, golden skin, floppy hair, and deep, velvet eyes.  Xander watches the other man awaken, entranced, and then smiles—a big one, all teeth and sunshine.  A moment passes, the two men regarding each other, but then Riley must touch, too--the last night’s endeavors and the other nights’ before seeming too far away, too abstract.  The two men search each other eagerly and unabashedly with fingers and palms, sometimes watching their own hands, sometimes the others’.  They take note of every sensation:  the softness of skin versus the firmness of muscle, the smooth quality of hair on the head versus the coarser chest hair.  They tease, they grab, they fondle, until their arms tire and they look each other in the eye.  They stare, just for a moment, until Riley smiles, short and shy, before looking away.  Xander knows how he’s feeling; he’s feeling it, too.  He grabs Riley’s hand and squeezes it, hoping to ease him, hoping to communicate something they hadn’t yet been able to put into words.  Riley smiles more confidently now, and looks back at his…lover?  Friend?

Xander knows that the others will have a hard time with this when—if—they find out.  He also knows that this feeling of acceptance and intimacy lies, that it can so easily turn against you, or fade, or be ripped away.  It’s happened it him before, and besides, who can ever really expect happiness on a Hellmouth?

Xander sighs before burying himself in the slightly larger man’s embrace.  His hold isn’t languid or casual, but tight and needy.  As if understanding his thoughts, Riley tucks Xander’s head under his chin, before pulling him in, surrounding him as he had throughout the night.

Xander calms, if only for a moment, and then gathers his strength.  He takes a risk asking this question; he doesn’t know yet where he and Riley stand, but still he has to know. “You think this can last?” he manages to ask.

Riley starts slightly at the question, before feeling the tight grip on his heart.  He pulls Xander closer and squeezes his eyes tightly shut before replying, “I hope so.”

Xander exhales in relief, but also in uncertainty, “I hope so, too”.