Title: A Matter of Confrontation
Author: Kay
Email: kaytibird@usa.net
Feedback: Do you really want to see me beg?  My happy dance is way more
entertaining. Website:  ssfdu.tripod.com/kay/journal.htm  (Sandy rocks)
Archive: Hey, just ask first <g> Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel
Pairing: Xander/Spike/Doyle/Angel...Giles/Xander UST, Riley-teasing
Rating: NC-17
Sequel to:  Matter of Control
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the characters of the show don't
belong to me in anyway whatsoever. I'm not that lucky. This story is written for
enjoyment, not for profit. Again, I'm not that lucky. Litigation would be a waste of
time, people. I'm a member of the Starving Student Sect.
Summery:  Several months after his arrival in the city, Xander and his lovers are
getting on with life in LA...until a demon brings the Scooby Gang to town.
Warnings: spoilers in general for the first season of Angel, and the last season of
Buffy, and for the characters’ general situations in them.  Other than
that, I’m not really going by canon, so who knows what will happen?

Sequel time!  Once I got a taste of playing with these men together, I was
hooked.  Must..play..again...I’m helpless to resist.  I want to say thank
you to everyone who let me know how much they enjoyed the fic...I hope
y’all enjoy this one, too <g>

Sandy, Karen, thank you for letting me ramble at you while I figured this
thing out.  You guys rock!

One final note:  for all of you who remember the pyjamas from Matter of
Control:  they make a return <g>


Xander resisted the urge to sulk, but it was taking a lot of effort.  He
found most of his resistance to the urge in appreciating the irony of his
situation: he was involved in a relationship with three other people, was loved
and desired more than he’d ever believed possible, and yet he there he was in
the middle of a club with no one to dance with.

He leaned back against the bar, watching Doyle laugh and talk with a small
group of people.  He understood the need to make new contacts, to build a
system of sources of information in the city to help them locate the
subjects of Doyle’s visions.  He just wished Doyle wasn’t quite so devoted
to networking, so they could maybe venture out onto the dance floor.  He
half-suspected Doyle was trying to avoid dancing and that was why he was
so focused on winning over the people he was talking to.

Spike had disappeared right after they got to the club, but he at least
had a good excuse.  The owner of the club was a former client who was a
little slow in paying his bill.  The blond vampire had eagerly volunteered
to visit the man and persuade him that paying his bill was really in his
best interest.

Xander looked hopefully over at Angel, who was also leaning against the
bar. “You want to hit the floor?  Shake your groove thing a bit?”

The taller man shook his head regretfully.  “I don’t dance, Xander.  Not
to this, at least.”  The pounding rhythm of the fast-paced music
punctuated his words.  “Maybe if something slow comes on...”

Xander nodded.  “Three dates and I still can’t get anyone to dance with
me,” he sighed.  He glanced at Cordelia, who’d come along with them.
Resplendent in a short red dress and looking amazing, she stood beside him
at the bar. “Cordy?  For old times’ sake?”

Chin raised, she looked at him speculatively.  “I don’t know.  It might
not be good for my image to be seen dancing with the gayest man in the


“You have three boyfriends, Xander.  *Three*.”  She smiled at him, teasing
clear in her eyes.  She’d become a good friend after he’d moved to LA.
Sure, she’d been thrown by Angel’s declaration that he was moving into the
vampire’s apartment.  She’d insisted on consulting different psychics,
diviners, witches and other experts to find out if any of them were under
a spell when she’d been told of the relationship forged between him,
Angel, Doyle, and Spike. Once she’d gotten over her shock, she was all
right with the idea.  After all, Sunnydale natives tended to be pretty

Besides, it opened up brand new vistas of ways in which she could tease

“Come on, Xander.  Let’s see if those clothes have improved your moves.”

As he followed her out onto the dance floor, Xander glanced down
self-consciously at his clothing.  He hadn’t chosen it himself; Spike had.
For some reason his lovers seemed to enjoy controlling his wardrobe.
Since he didn’t really care much about clothing, he wasn’t going to
complain.  He wasn’t sure how he felt about what he was wearing, though:
the blue shirt was kinda stretchy and tighter than he was used to, and the
black jeans he was wearing looked to be more Spike’s size then his.  The
other men had seemed appreciative of it though, and even Cordy had
approved, so he was just going with it.

Out on the floor, he gave himself over to the music.  He’d at least
figured that out since high school:  the key to dancing was to forget
about who might be watching and just move, following the rhythm and having
a good time.  He must have been doing something right because Cordelia
didn’t try to get away from him; instead, she stayed close, moving with
him and smiling appreciatively.

Cordelia had improved, too.  The changes she’d gone through since leaving
Sunnydale had transformed on and off the dance floor.  She was more
honestly confident, relying on faith in herself rather than in others’
opinions and a massive ego.  When she moved on the floor he could see that
she was really enjoying herself, rather than trying to assert her position
or establish her place in the social hierarchy.  She still played to the
audience around her, but that was secondary to her own pleasure.

The music never slowed down and neither did Xander.  The dance floor
became increasingly crowded, people pressing in on every side.  Xander
found himself swept away from Cordelia, but she didn’t seem to mind.  If a
guy could look like a doctor, the guy she was dancing did.  Good for

He found himself dancing with a couple of guys.  He never broke his
rhythm; hell, he was finally comfortable with his sexuality.  Every night
he slept with more guys than this.  Swept along by the pulsing rhythm,
time lost all meaning as he concentrated on the pleasure of just moving,
forgetting everything else except the feeling of the dance.

The music slowed down and Xander came out of his haze.  He grinned,
realizing that now Angel didn’t have an excuse to continue lurking at the
bar.  It had been long enough that Spike should be done frightening the
owner into paying; he’d definitely be able to get the blond vampire out on
the floor with him. He stopped dancing and began to edge through the
crowd, until he was stopped by a hand on his arm.  He glanced over and
found the men he’d been dancing with smiling quizzically at him.

“Where are you going?” the one with his hand on Xander’s arm asked.

“I’ve got someone I want to go see,” Xander said.

“I thought we were having fun.”

“I was,” Xander said.  “It’s just that-”

“Then don’t go,” said the other man, reaching out to touch Xander as well.
“Dance with us here.”

“We’ve got all night,” said the first man.  “I’m sure we could have fun
back at our place, too.”

Xander blinked.  Comfortable as he might be with being gay, he wasn’t
quite as at ease with being hit on.  Usually when he was out he was
accompanied by one or more of his lovers who made it more than obvious
that he was taken.  He couldn’t remember the last time anyone had flirted
with him.  “I came with someone,” he managed to stammer out.

“There’s no law that says you have to go home with him,” the second man

Before Xander could try another tack, Cordelia was there.  “Xander, what
the hell do you think you’re doing?” she demanded, staring pointedly at
the men’s hands on him.

“We were just dancing,” he said defensively.  “I was going to go find

“But now you’re staying with us, right?” the first man asked, tightening
his grip.

Xander started to reply in the negative, but was cut off by Cordelia.

She was looking off into the crowd.

Xander turned his head to see what she was looking at and quickly spat out
his own oath.  “Fuck!”

Shouldering his way through the crowd, eyebrows lowered and eyes
dangerous, Doyle was headed straight for them.

The men holding onto Xander spotted Doyle as well.  “Is that Angel, the
one you were talking about?” one of them asked.

“You only wish,” Xander muttered.


“You guys are in so much trouble,” Cordelia said.  “Spike can’t kill you,
and Angel won’t, but with Doyle all bets are off.”

Xander jerked away, out of the men’s grasps.  “Look, keep your mouths shut
and maybe this won’t have to end ugly, all right?”  He knew a few simple
facts about his lovers:  they loved him, they protected him, and they were
possessive as hell.

“That’s your date?” the first man asked.  “Sorry, Brown-eyes, I’m not
really all that intimidated.”

His friend looked Doyle up and down.  “Intrigued, maybe.”

“Definitely intrigued.  Hey, he could come with us if he wants.  He’s
almost as pretty as you are.”

All hurried thoughts about saving the dancers’ lives left Xander’s mind.
He barely heard Cordelia’s moaned “Damn it” before she took off as he
turned to face the two men once more.  “What did you say?”  His voice was
low, hard.

“I said your date’s cute.  You both could join us for some fun and games.”
 He slid his hand down Xander’s arm, then curled his fingers around
Xander’s waist.  “Come on,” he murmured, leaning in toward the dark-haired

Xander knocked the man backwards, shoving him hard in the chest as he
knocked the other man’s hand off of his shoulder.  “That’s it.  You’ve
gone too far. Doyle is *mine*.”  He moved forward, intent on beating that
lesson into them: no one touched his lover.  No one but him.

A cool hand on the back of his neck stopped him.  He glanced over his
shoulder and met Spike’s gaze.  Angel stood beside him and Cordelia
hovered behind them.  When she’d taken off, she had gathered the other men
in the club in an effort to save lives.

“What’s wrong, love?” Spike asked, scarred eyebrow arched questioningly.

“These...these...”  He groped for a word to describe them.

“Madmen?” Cordy suggested.

“These madmen told me that they want Doyle!  That they want him to come
home with them!”  He turned back around and started for the two men once
again and was again stopped by Spike’s hold on him.

Doyle scowled.  “It looked like they were more interested in you to me.”

Xander heard Spike begin to growl quietly behind him.  “They started out
on me, but then they saw you.”  He glared at the thoroughly confused pair
of men.

Angel shifted his weight, pushing himself forward a bit.  “I think that it
would be best if we just got going now.”  His tone was mild, but glancing
back, Xander saw that the taller man’s face was overly stiff, too
expressionless to be truly neutral.

The first man to approach Xander rallied somewhat.  Still visibly
confused, he smiled winningly at Angel.  “Hang on a second.  Now that
we’ve seen you and Blondie, I’m definitely even more intrigued.
Brown-eyes is nice enough on his own, but having all of you come as a
package just makes things perfect.”  He smiled winningly at Angel.

Spike’s growling grew louder and Angel lost all pretense of civility.
Even as the taller vampire made an abortive lunge forward, Cordelia jumped
in front of him, placing herself between the two men and the four lovers.

“Bad Angel!  You’re supposed to protect these idiots, not kill them.  Go

“Did you hear what they said?” Angel demanded.

“I’m not deaf,” she snapped.  “Go home and take the other stooges with

“What about you, princess?” Doyle asked, stepping over to the side.

“I’ll call a cab,” she said, although her gaze slid over to the
doctor-looking guy.  “And quit trying to scoot around me.  You boys don’t
get to kill anyone tonight.”  She made a shooing motion at them.  “Go
home.  I’ll come in late tomorrow.”

As much as he wanted to explain that his lovers were untouchable,
preferably with his fists, Xander knew that Cordelia was right.  He
grabbed Doyle, who was still trying to flank Cordelia, and pulled him back
a step.  “Let’s go,” he said.  The Irishman nodded reluctantly, moving
closer to Xander.  Struck by sudden need, Xander pulled Doyle into his
arms.  He ruthlessly claimed Doyle’s mouth with his own, proving his
ownership of his lover for everyone to see. Doyle responded just as
passionately, showing the ownership was mutual.

After the kiss had escalated for some time, the two men were jerked apart.
Xander found himself in Spike’s arms, and he knew Doyle was in Angel’s.
Then he had no more time for thought as Spike showed him exactly what a
possessive kiss was.  The vampire dominated Xander’s mouth, cool lips
drinking in Xander’s hitching sounds of pleasure.  Hands fisted in Spike’s
ever-present duster, Xander pressed himself closer, needing to feel the
cool body against his own.

The sound of Cordelia impatiently clearing her throat brought Xander’s
awareness back to his surrounding.  He tore his mouth away from Spike’s,
repressing the need to pant and forcing himself to breathe normally.  He
reached out with one hand and brushed Angel’s shoulder.  Angel and Doyle
broke apart and glanced over at him.  “We’re not getting paid to put on a
show. Let’s go home.”

Angel nodded.  He caught Xander’s hand and brought it to his lips,
bestowing a sucking kiss on the open palm.  “Home,” he agreed, tongue
flickering out briefly to trace one of the lifelines on Xander’s palm
before releasing the hand.

As they turned to leave the club, Xander cast one final glance back at the
two men he’d danced with.  They were staring after him and his lovers,
expressions of surprise and desire mingled on their faces.

Xander was glad they’d taken a cab to the club:  they’d never have made it
home safely if one of them had driven.  Instead, they all piled into the
back seat of another cab, hands wandering freely in the dimly-lit car.
The brown-eyed man found that he had to keep touching his lovers,
reassuring himself that they were still there, that they were still his.
He knew other people found all of them attractive and he feared losing
them to someone else.

The encounter left him feeling jealous and possessive, needing to prove
That he hadn’t lost them, that he’d never lose them.  He knew they loved him,
but there was still that little voice inside of him that whispered that
nothing this good could ever happen to him, that the happiness he’d found
wouldn’t last.  He need them, needed their lips and arms and bodies to
drown out that voice.

Apparently, they felt the same way.  Spike’s hands had burrowed inside his
shirt and Doyle and Angel had both half-dragged him across the seat
several times in order to draw him in for a kiss.

After exiting the cab, Xander led the way down to Angel’s apartment.
Their apartment, now.  He made a direct journey to the bedroom, not
stopping or slowing down on the way, the other three men on his heels the
entire time. Once inside the room he turned and found himself face-to-face
with Doyle.  He reached out and began to unfasten the buttons of the
Irishman’s shirt.  “When I saw you coming, I figured that I was going to
have to stop you from pounding those guys into greasy spots on the floor,”
he said.  “And then they said that they wanted you.”

Some of his uncertainty must have leaked into his tone, because Doyle
moved to catch him in his arms.  “They can want all they like.  Wanting’s
not having.” He stripped Xander’s shirt away, pulling it over his head.
“Loving is having.
 I love you, Xan.  Never going to let you go.”  He pulled away the rest of
Xander’s clothing as well as his own before gently pushing Xander down
onto the bed.

Gentleness was the last thing Xander needed.  He wanted to feel his
lovers, to crawl inside their skin and their hearts and their souls until
they could never be separated from him.  He saw Spike and Angel tearing at
each other’s clothing and knew that the same mood had caught them.  He
reached up and roughly pulled Doyle down on top of himself then rolled
them over so he was on top.  “Mine,” he said in a low voice.  “Love you,

Then he had no more time for words; besides, his mouth was too occupied
with marking his territory to speak.  He knew Angel and Spike had joined
them on the bed, but for the moment he concentrated on Doyle.  He blazed a
trail of biting, sucking kisses across the pale skin, admiring the marks
that slowly began to form:  brands of ownership.  He regarded the erection
that awaited him with proprietary anticipation, then leaned down and began
to lave the hard flesh with his tongue, relishing Doyle’s appreciative
groans and muttered words of approval.  He fumbled with the ready tube of
lubricant for a moment, never ceasing the teasing licks he bestowed upon
Doyle’s erection.  As he pressed himself inside the other man he felt
himself become more complete. One hand curled around Doyle’s hard length,
Xander set a punishing rhythm of thrusts, needing to come with Doyle,
needing to experience that connection once more.  He leaned down and
kissed the Irishman, tongue tangling with his lover’s in a frenzy of need.
 He could hear Angel’s low moans and Spike’s pleasured growls beside them,
and the sounds only served to increase his need.
A few more strokes and Doyle came, wailing out Xander’s name.  The sound
And the sensation of Doyle’s orgasm pushed Xander into his own, and he
collapsed down onto the other man, sweaty and replete.  He was vaguely
aware of the sounds of the vampires’ completion a moment later.  Doyle’s
arms closed around him and they kissed lazily, sleepy kisses now that
they’d expended all their energy.

“Oh, no.  Spike’s chuckle ghosted over to Xander’s ears.  “You breathing
types don’t get to quit now.”  Cool hands closed around his waist, lifting
him with eerie strength and speed.  He was flipped over and a wiry body
draped over his own.

Xander smiled up at Spike, loving the way the other man’s hair fell into
his eyes after sex.  “But I’m all worn out,” he said, mock-petulantly.
“Doyle wore me out.”  He twisted his head around, and saw that Angel was
blanketing an equally-lethargic Doyle, thrusting against him in increasing

“You’re tougher than that, love,” Spike chided.  “You’re Hellmouth born
and raised, aren’t you?”

Xander gasped as cool fingers abruptly breached his opening.  He lost
track of whatever he was going to say, his entire world narrowing to the
feeling of Spike’s fingers inside him.  He began to whimper with need and
felt himself growing hard once more.  He allowed himself to be rolled over
onto his stomach, eagerly awaiting Spike’s next move.  When the vampire
slid home inside of him, Xander murmured broken words of appreciation and
need, pushing back to meet each thrust.  He snaked a hand under himself,
reaching for his erection.

Spike tsked and grabbed his wrist, pinning it to the mattress.  “Naughty
Xan,” he chided, never missed a thrust.  “You can’t come yet.”

Xander tried to complain but was distracted by the feel of Spike’s teeth
tracing over the planes of his shoulder blades.  Words left him, reducing
him to pleading moans.  He could hear Doyle, hear the other man’s cries
that were a mixture of pleas and protest, but was too focused on the
sensations he felt to look.  Spike’s thrusts sped up, but the vampire
continued to deny any stimulation to Xander’s erection.  In a few minutes
Spikes shuddered, coming hard while shouting his love for Xander...and
leaving Xander hanging.

Once Spike moved off of him, Xander rolled over and glared at him.
“Selfish bastard,” he started, pointing down at his neglected flesh.
“What about this?”

“That belongs to me,” Angel ground out.

Xander turned his head and watched in fascination as Angel ruthlessly
teased Doyle, thrusting his erection against the half-demon’s thigh but
only rarely allowing any sort of contact with Doyle’s hard length, no
matter how much the green-eyed man begged and protested.  Soon, the older
man came with a groan, bathing Doyle in his seed but still denying the man
beneath him release.

“And that’s mine,” Spike said with anticipation clear in his voice.  Using
preternatural speed, the two vampires switched places, mouths descending
upon the neglected flesh that strained in hope of receiving attention.

Xander gave loose a strangled scream as his erection was greedily devoured
by Angel.  An agile tongue teased and tormented him, even as long fingers
stroked across his stomach, down his belly and caressed his thighs.  He
thrust mindlessly into the wet mouth, needing release, needing to feel
Angel.  He came with a shout that made him glad they didn’t have
neighbors, back arched and white-knuckled fingers twisted in the sheets.

Muzzy with fatigue and satisfaction, he blinked lazily and watched as
Angel laved his flesh clean.  Catching his gaze, Angel moved up his body,
scattering kisses until their mouths met, tongues stroking languidly
against each other as they whispered words of love.

Doyle’s startled yelp drew their attention, and Xander turned and watched
the Irishman recover from his orgasm while Spike stroked and petted the
over-heated pale skin.  Doyle’s eyes never reopened; he rolled over onto
his side, hands reaching out toward Xander.

Xander moved over closer to him, closer to the center of the bed.  He was
soon laying next to Doyle, head pillowed on one of the green-eyed man’s
shoulders. Angel pressed up against his back, a massive, cool body pillow
with wandering hands.  Spike was half-draped over Doyle, and one of his
hands closed around Xander’s thigh in a possessive hold.  Surrounded by
his lovers, Xander’s eyes slipped closed.  Now he felt complete.  Now he
was whole.


Arms folded over his chest, Doyle leaned against the doorway leading into
the kitchen.  "Last time I checked, Poptarts don't actually count as a
decent breakfast."

Xander glanced up at him and grinned as he stood vigil over the

"Last time I checked, eating at noon didn't count as breakfast,
either. Besides, do you really want me using the stove and oven
unsupervised?  There are so many flammable objects about."

"Including the other two still in bed," Doyle agreed.  "Poptarts it
is, then."
After the last time he and Xander had reduced to kitchen to a spaghetti
sauce-coated wreak after their last attempt to cook, they left it to Angel
and any place that would deliver.  It was safer for everyone involved.  He
walked over to the table and sat down, gooseflesh rippling up his arms in
the cool air.  The pair of cotton pants he'd pulled on before leaving the
bedroom didn't do much to keep him warm.  They'd all given up on pyjamas
as hopelessly inconvenient in bed, but there were times like now that he
missed them.

"What are you doing up?" Xander asked.  "You guys aren't taking shifts
watching me in the kitchen, are you?  Sheesh, flames shoot out of the oven
one time, *one time*, and you never let a guy forget it."  The toaster
finished its cycle, popping the Poptarts up.  The younger man put them on
a plate and joined Doyle at the table.

"I woke up and you were gone," Doyle said.  "I wanted to see if I could catch
you before you left."  Chin propped up on one hand, he watched Xander
inhale breakfast.  The brown-eyed man had filled out in the months since
his move to LA, making him look older, more like a man and less like a
boy.  This was helped by the new air of confidence that surrounded him.
Xander was more likely to meet peoples' gazes squarely, to stand up for
himself and for others than he had been when Doyle first met him.
Xander's sense of humor was just as large a part of his personality as it
always had been, but now he told jokes to be funny instead of a defense
mechanism to deflect attention away from himself or issues he wanted to
avoid.  Oh, he still did it occasionally, but now he had people to call
him on it, men who loved him and refused to let him dismiss any part of
himself as unimportant.

Doyle suppressed a smirk as he took in Xander's clothes:  fitted red
T-shirt, carpenter jeans, Doc Martens.  No more wild prints or hideously
clashing colors for Xander; his lovers had slowly but surely destroyed the
more awful aspects of his wardrobe.  Doyle knew he was no mold and form of
fashion himself, but he had taken it as his sacred duty to do away with
just about every shirt Xander had owned.  And the pants!  Most of them had
been so baggy they were useless, completely hiding the body beneath them.
Even when it was clothed, Doyle wanted to be able to appreciate Xander's
ass.  Fortunately, the war against his clothes had escaped Xander's
notice:  working and fighting with Angel had put muscle on him, so he
needed new clothing anyway.  What he wore now was chosen by the other men
and it looked much better.

Xander caught him staring.  "What?  You want some?"  He held out a
piece of his breakfast in offering.

Did any sort of fruit come in that color in nature?  Doyle shuddered.  "No
thanks.  I was just enjoying the view."  He grinned as Xander blinked, a
slight flush staining his cheeks.  He knew that Xander believe that he and
Angel and Spike loved him, knew that Xander trusted in their love and
their desire for him, but the young man could still be caught off-guard by
a simple compliment.  Xander still seemed to be surprised by the fact that
he could be wanted, that someone might find him attractive.

Doyle knew that was what had led to the incident at the bar last night.
Xander had just been dancing, never dreaming that his partners would want
to take their association off the dance floor.  It had never occurred to
him that they would want him for anything more than a dance.  In Xander's
world, he belonged to his lovers and they belonged to him, and that was
all there was to it.  Doyle thought this was a good thing, or else there
would be more confrontations like the one last night.  All of them had
developed an extremely possessive streak where the others were concerned.
It would be fairly difficult to help protect the people of LA if they were
busy putting some of them in the hospital or morgue for getting to close
to one of their foursome.

Despite his blush, Xander finished his breakfast and cleaned up after
That done, he walked into the living room.  Doyle got up and followed him,
not wanting to waste any of his Xander-watching time.  He leaned against the
door, watching as Xander pulled a few books of a shelf and stuffed them into a
backpack.  "Got an apple for the teacher?"

Xander shook his head.  "Did that ever work with you?"  He retrieved his
jacket from the back of the couch.

"Nah.  Little kids don't think of that, anyway."

A wicked gleam in his eyes, Xander pondered, "There are other things I
could offer the teacher to get an A, I suppose."

Doyle didn't remember crossing the room, but he found himself pushing
Xander down onto the couch and straddling his legs.  "What other things,
exactly?" he asked, face inches away from Xander's.  "Because there are
certain things I'd find myself objecting to, like.  Things that already
have claims on them."

Warm hands slid up the Irishman's sides, spanning his bare flesh.
Xanderstared up innocently at him.  "I was thinking I could bring in

Doyle didn't give him a chance to explain further.  He covered those
teasing lips with his own, intending to do some teasing of his own.  He
looped his arms around Xander's neck, pressing himself closer.  He knew
Xander was only going to be gone for a few hours, but they were a few
hours too long.  He couldn't believe he'd managed to live so long without
Xander in his life.

Finally he sat back reluctantly.  "You're going to be late," he murmured

Xander sighed.  "Sure you don't want to come with me?  We could just
continue this there."

"The point of going is for you to pay attention," Doyle mock-scolded.  He
found the willpower to climb to his feet.  He watched Xander sigh
melodramatically, but he knew the other man would never miss school.

Knowing that made him want to push Xander back down onto the couch and
not let him up for a few hours, not until they were both sweaty and exhausted
and complete once more.  He was so proud of Xander.  He knew that the other
man wasn't a natural student:  learning didn't come easily to him, he had
to fight and work and struggle to comprehend and retain and apply the
topics covered in class and in readings, but he was doing it.

He forced himself not to return to Xander and kiss him breathless.  A
couple months ago, they'd all been horrified and demoralized when the
subject of one of Doyle's visions had been released through legal
maneuverings.  Angel had taken it especially hard, sinking into a
depression as he declared that it was hopeless, that he could never really
fight them in the world of legalities, in the world of rules, in the world
of sunlight and humans, that he could never be a part of that world.

Doyle had been at a loss as to how to comfort his despondent lover.  He'd
been living in the shadows for long himself that he was beginning to feel
the same way.  He knew Spike wanted to help as well, but knew that the
blond vampire couldn't.  It had been Xander who found the way to lift
Angel's spirits, found the way to turn things around.

The brown-eyed man had forced Angel to meet his gaze.  "You're right.  You
can't fight them, not in the courts.  You're not supposed to.  That's not
what the Powers want you for."  He'd nodded to himself, as if coming to a
"That's what I'm going to be for.  Remember how you promised me `anything'
the last time I had your cock in my mouth?"  He'd waited for Angel to smile.

"I've decided on `anything'.

"I want to go to law school."

That had been the beginning of it.  Xander had gone to college, fighting his
way through the introductory courses.  He was still doing so, still getting to
into the rhythms of school and succeeding.  He fought for the good grades he
was receiving, juggling classes and working beside Angel and the others at
night.  He couldn't take a full schedule, so school would take a long
time, but the mere fact that he now had something he was working toward
had been good for everyone.  Doyle knew Xander was more comfortable with
something he could call his purpose, something he could claim as his own.
Angel had climbed out of his depression, motivated by Xander's example,
given hope by the thought of one day being able to confront his enemies
wherever they. Doyle, like Spike, was happy because his lovers were happy.

Which was why Xander had to go to school.  He pulled Xander to his feet,
handing him his jacket and pack.  "Get to school and hurry home."  A final
quick kiss and Xander was out the door.

Doyle stared after him for a little while, lost in thought.  Before he'd met
Xander, his life had been spinning out of control.  It had started when he'd
discovered his demon heritage and set himself on a destructive downward
spiral.  That had ended when he met Angel, but only a few months after
beginning to work with the vampire his life had begun to spin out of his
control once more.  He'd begun to fall for Angel, the attraction he felt
growing into something more.  He'd believed his attraction was futile,
that nothing could ever come of it.

All that changed when he met Xander.  Things had happened so fast and he'd
found himself falling in love with three men, three men that he had come
to love desperately, completely.  He didn't regret it, was in fact
grateful for them every moment of every day.

Even when Xander was setting fire to the kitchen, even when Spike's
tongue was so sharp it wounded, even when Angel launched into a brooding
marathon, he still loved them.  He'd found his own purpose in his love for them
and in the fight against evil that united them.

Speaking of...with a please smile, Doyle headed back to the bedroom.  No
rules said he had to wait for Xander to get home alone.  No rules said he
had to do it vertical.  No rules said he had to do it clothed.

He was going back to bed.


Stepping quietly up the stairs, Spike made his way to the office without
alerting Angel or Doyle.  He doubted they’d have cared where he went, but
it was tradition:  every afternoon he made a point of going up to the
office alone, leaving the other two men downstairs.

It wasn’t that he had anything against them.  He was pleased beyond his
ability to describe with his reunion with his Sire.  As much as he might
have claimed to despise Angel, the truth was that he that he’d missed the
other man, hated being separated from him, tossed aside after the return
of Angel’s soul.  He’d covered the loss with anger, spewing out insults
and injuries with as much hatred as he could whenever he saw Angel, but
that was over now.  He’d been welcomed back into his Sire’s arms and the
love that he’d never been able to deny to himself was growing strong once

There was nothing wrong with Doyle, either.  He’d been iffy about the
Irishman at first; sure, the guy was cute but he hadn’t seem to be
anything special. No one worth *Spike’s* time, anyway.  Then he’d seen the
way Doyle tried to protect Xander, the way he was willing to bend rules
and brave Angel’s disapproval in order to keep an eye on the younger man.
He’d begun to like Doyle and after that it hadn’t taken much for him to
begin to love him.  But no matter what he felt for them, no matter how
much he loved them, it would never change the fact that had become the
center of his life.

Xander was *his*.

It all came down to that.  No matter how much he loved the others, no
matter how possessive he felt over them, it didn’t change the fact that
Xander belonged to him.  The brown-eyed man had changed his life, changed
*him*, and Spike was never going to let him go.  He could still feel the
marvel and wonder inside him when he realized that Xander was never going
to hurt him, would rather die than hurt him.  When he’d realized that,
he’d fallen for Xander, becoming forever and inextricably his even as he
claimed Xander for his own.

He hated it when Xander left, begrudged every moment spent apart from his
lover.  Ever since the other man had gone back to school Spike had taken
to waiting for him in the office, needing to see him as soon as possible.
Even waiting for Xander to come downstairs was intolerable; he had to see
Xander as soon as he walked in the door.

He scowled as he entered the office.  It wasn’t that he was surprised to
see Cordelia there; she was always there at this time.  He was supposed to
scowl and she was supposed to scold him.  Without the rhythm of their
insults they’d both be lost.  He patted at his duster’s pockets, looking
for cigarettes.

Cordelia didn’t even look up.  “Don’t you dare light up one of those
stinking sticks of death in here.”

“Got a match?” he asked, placing a cigarette between his lips.

“If that thing gets lit on fire, so do you.”  Cordelia’s eyes were hard
and cutting as diamond.

Grinning with his best ‘fuck you’ smile, Spike fished out a match of his
own and struck it on her desk.

As he lit the cigarette, she glared at him.  “I’ll tell Angel,” she

“Ooh, will you?”  He perched on the corner of the desk and leered down at
“Because that might make him mad.  Then he’d have to punish me.”  He
shivered theatrically.  “Promise you’ll tell him?”

“I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.  You can barely control yourself when I’m around.  It’s
all you can do not to throw yourself at me.”

Cordelia stood up, getting ready for what Spike wasn’t sure.  “Listen, you
cut-rate Billy Idol imitator, I’ve had about enough of you.  If you don’t
put that out and stay out of my face, I’m going to poke you with my pencil
and sweep you out the front door.”

“See?  You want me.”

“And what are you planning on doing about it?” asked a new voice.  Spike
turned around and saw Xander standing in the doorway.

Spike heard Cordelia begin to recount his sins but paid no attention.  He
was too busy watching Xander, waiting for the moment in which Xander would
shut the door and block out the last rays of dying sunlight.  As soon as
the deadly light was barred by the door the vampire was across the office,
pushing Xander’s backpack to the ground and pulling the mortal into his
arms, taking his mouth in a devouring kiss.  He was dimly aware of
Cordelia falling silent, but that didn’t matter.  He had Xander in his
arms again, could feel him, smell him, taste him.  He pulled Xander
closer, wanting to crawl inside him, never wanting him to leave his sight

Finally, Spike reminded himself that Xander needed to breathe and broke
the kiss.  He didn’t let go of him, though.  Not until he absolutely had
to would he consider it.  “Good day at school, love?”

Xander stared up at him with slightly glazed eyes.  “Mm?  School was
school. I’m much happier to be here.”  He leaned forward, hands creeping
up to bury themselves in Spike’s hair, warm against the vampire’s skin.
Just as his lips brushed Spike’s, Xander pulled back, eyes wide and
alarmed.  “Shit!  What time is it?  Has the sun gone down?”

Muttering under her breath, Cordelia stalked over to the window and peeked
outside.  “It’s just now down.”

“Great!”  Xander pulled out of Spike’s arms and headed for the desk,
poking through the papers that lay on top.  “Do you have the directions?”

Spike sighed and sat down in a chair.  Xander was on a mission and it
would take way too much energy to distract him back into Spike’s arms.
Better to watch and see what he was up to.

Cordelia flew over to the desk.  “Stop that!  You’ll mess up my system.”
She pulled a sheet of paper out of a pile and held it out.  When Xander
reached out to take it, she raised her other hand and pressed a cross
against the back of Xander’s hand.

Xander raised an eyebrow.  “What are you doing?”

“Just checking.”

“I came in out of the sunlight?  Wasn’t that enough?”

“Hey, you and I both know that you’re at high risk for undeath.  You’ve
got two vampires living in close proximity to your neck.  A girl can’t be
too careful.”

“Right.”  Xander grabbed the paper from her hand and turned to Spike.
“You ready?”

“Let’s go.”  Spike didn’t ask where they were going.  It didn’t matter.
Xander wanted to go; that was all he needed to know.  He followed the
younger man out onto the street, marveling over Cordelia’s trick with the
cross.  As if he’d ever turn Xander.  He loved Xander, loved him exactly
as he was.  He treasured his warmth, his humor, even the human’s
compassion.  To turn Xander would mean to lose that compassion, lose the
caring and humanity that made Spike fall for him in the first place.  He
never wanted to lose that.  Never.

Xander hurried his steps.  “Come on.  I don’t want to get there too late.”

“Get where?” asked Spike, effortlessly keeping pace.

“The store.  I’m not sure when it closes.”

What store?  Spike followed Xander, enjoying the sight of his lover
hurrying through the streets.  Xander looked happy, purposeful.  The only
way Spike liked to him better was when he was naked, writhing with
pleasure and begging for release, love and want and laughter and need in
his eyes as he stared at Spike...the vampire forcibly pulled his attention
back to his surroundings.

They’d get to that later.

Xander heaved a sigh of relief.  “Here it is!”  He ducked into a doorway.

Shaking his head, Spike followed him.  He slowed down as he got a good
look around the shop.  The shelves were absolutely stuffed with
kitschy-cutey crap that made Spike want to take a blowtorch to the place.
Stuffed animals dressed like farmers stared vacantly down at him, crowded
in among embroidered tea cozies.  “Xan?”  That wasn’t desperation in his
voice, he told himself. It couldn’t be.  He was the Big Bad.  “What
exactly are you looking for?”

“These!”  Xander’s triumphant answer drifted over from the next aisle.
Spike hurried over.  As soon as he came to Xander’s side he saw what his
lover was gazing at so raptly.  He laughed out loud.  “Looking to replace
that pair of Angel’s, are you?”  The shelves were stacked to the ceiling
with pyjamas that looked like the pair he’d dressed Xander in after
bringing him to Angel, when he was dying from the scratch of the
Lrkantishnt demon.  As he recalled, those pyjamas hadn’t lasted the next
few days, torn apart during various attempts to strip Xander.

Xander shook his head, grinning widely.  “I’m not just replacing Angel’s.
I’m getting a pair for each of us.”

What?  “No.”  Spike was firm.  No way was he wearing any pyjamas from this

“Please?”  Oh, no.  Not the eyes.  Xander stared at him with those wide
brown eyes, pleading and hurt written across his features.  “I want to get
some for everyone, Spike.  You and me, too.”

“I’m not wearing anything like that.  Ever.”

With a wounded sigh, Xander turned back to the shelves.  “I wanted to get
the ducks for Angel again,” he said quietly, pointing to the purple
pyjamas with fluorescent orange ducklings frolicking on them.  “I wasn’t
sure what to get for everyone else.  I thought maybe the rabbits for
Doyle?  Or would the horses have been better?”  He pointed at pyjamas
featuring white ponies scampering about on a background of painfully
bright green.

“The horses are fine,” Spike said.  “Sorta fitting, like.”  Doyle still
placed an occasional bet, although he’d cut down.  He had more interesting
forms of reaction available to him now.  “What are you getting for

“I’m not now.  If I was still going to get some I think it’d be the
frogs.” He half-heartedly waved his hand toward a pair of pink pyjamas
with leaping frogs printed on them.

Spike frowned.  Frogs weren’t right for Xander.  Frogs didn’t describe him
at all.  He looked back over at the selection.  After searching for a
moment he grinned.  “There.  You should get those.”  The red monkeys on
the yellow pyjamas were grinning, but there was just the hint of a leer to
their grins and the way they were holding their bananas was downright
suggestive.  His Xan could be a naughty little monkey at times.  They were

Xander barely glanced at them.  “They’re nice, I guess.  Come on.  Let’s
go home.”

“What about the pyjamas?  Aren’t they what we came here for?”

“There’s no point to it.”  Xander lifted one corner of his mouth in a
travesty of a smile.  “It would only really work if we all had a pair.
I’m sorry I dragged you over here for nothing.”  He started to walk down
the aisle, a defeated slump to his shoulders that the vampire hadn’t seen
for months.

The boy wasn’t playing fair.  Spike knew while Xander was disappointed,
the other man was undoubtedly putting on an act to make him feel guilty.
It was working.  He couldn’t just give in, though.  No need to let Xander
know exactly how whipped he really was.  He reached out and grabbed
Xander’s arm. “Don’t go so fast, love.  Could be that I could be persuaded
to wear the bloody things.”

“Persuaded?” Xander looked up at him through his eyelashes and it was all
Spike could do not to throw him to the ground and take him there.

“Persuaded, pet.  What’s in it for me if I let you dress me up in them?”

Xander began to smile, getting the idea.  “Well, if I dress you up in
them, I’ll have to take them off you.”


“I suppose wearing them would be worth...”  Xander looked up at the
ceiling speculatively.  “A blowjob?”

“A blowjob?  *A* blowjob?  Try three.”

“Three?  Fine, three.”  Xander reached for the pyjamas, but Spike stopped
him by grabbing his arm.

The blond grinned evilly.  “So.  Three blowjobs...and?”

“And?  You want more?”

“Do you want me to wear the pyjamas or not?”  Spike raised an eyebrow.

Xander flushed a little but he held Spike’s gaze, getting more into the
game. “I don’t like guessing.  What do you want?”

Ooh.  This could get interesting.  How far could he push Xander?  “I want
you, Xan.  Always you.  You know that.”  He watched in delight as Xander
flushed a darker red.  “But there are a few things I’ve always wanted to
try with you. I think I’d like to have you...”  He let his voice drop off.

Xander leaned in.  “Me...” he prompted.

“Naked and writhing underneath me...”

Xander leaned in closer.  “Yes?”

“In the middle of that club we were at last night.”  He grabbed Xander’s
chin and stared down into his eyes.  “Pin you underneath me and claim you
so everyone knows that you’re taken, that you’re mine, so that no one will
ever dare to approach you again.”

Xander’s eyes were dark, pupils dilated as his breath came in quick pants.
“In a public place?” he whispered.

“For everyone to see, love.”  He bent down and licked at Xander’s lips,
never quite kissing him, just teasing him.  “In front of everyone, so all
those people will be staring at you, salivating over you, wanting to have
you so bad they can taste you when they lick their lips.  You’ll be all
they can see, all they’ll want, all they’ll need, and they’ll have to live
with the fact that they can never have you, that you belong to me.”  He
stepped closer to Xander, felt the mortal’s chest expand hugely with each
gasped-in breath.  “Just you and me and a hundred other people eaten alive
with envy as they watch me make you scream and beg and come.  What do you
say, Xan?”  He knew Xander was going to back down, but it was fun making
the suggestion.

Xander licked his lips, gaze locked with Spike’s.  “Anything you want,
Spike,” he whispered in a voice that was barely audible.  His eyes were
unseeing, so caught was he in the spell Spike had woven.

The vampire stared at him.  What?  He’d never expected Xander to agree,
He searched Xander’s face and found the reason for it:  love.  Xander loved
him and wanted him and would do anything for him.  That, and he was a sexy
bugger with a silver tongue.  “Angel and Doyle would kill us,” he said
with a breathless laugh.

“We’ll just have to convince them to join in,” Xander giggled.

Spike couldn’t resist any longer.  He covered Xander’s mouth with his own,
swallowing his laughter.  His hands roamed possessively over Xander’s
back, mapping out all the skin he claimed as his own.  He trailed his lips
over to Xander’s ear.  “Get the pyjamas.”  The sooner they bought the damn
things, the sooner he could drag Xander back home and claim him all over

Xander pulled away, a flush still visible on his cheeks.  He grabbed the
pyjamas for Angel and Doyle, and grabbed a pair with monkeys for himself.
He hesitated, then grabbed a final pair.  Spike stared at them, smiling
reluctantly.  Bright yellow kittens lolled about on a background of blue.

He had to admit, they were fitting.

He followed Xander over to the cashier, knowing that he was going to
insist on paying.  As he groped around in his jacket for his wallet, he
wondered briefly if Xander had any idea just how powerful he really was.
Sure, he might be a mere mortal, but he had Spike wrapped firmly around
his finger.  Spike would do anything he asked.  Anything, and he knew
Doyle and Angel felt the same way.  Watching Xander gloat and laugh over
the pyjamas, Spike knew he didn’t care.  Xander was happy.  That was all
that mattered.


Ignoring Cordelia’s indignant recital of Spike’s sins, Angel walked over
to the door and picked up Xander’s pack.  It looked as though the mortal
had taken off with Spike as soon as he’d come home.  He picked up the bag,
mildly startled by how heavy it was.  He hefted it, feeling a smile grow
on his face.

 Xander was carrying this thing around, working hard at school to try to
Make Angel feel better, to make his lovers proud of him.  The pack was a sign
of how much Xander loved him, loved all of them.

It was also left in a place where it would to trip and kill anyone who
came in the door, but that was just details.

Hearing Cordelia pause for breath he turned around and faced her.  “So
Spike was rude to you, ignored everything you told him to do, and
proceeded to insult you?”


“And this surprises you because...?”

Cordelia blinked.  “It doesn’t.  I know that’s how he is.  I was making a
case for being allowed to hit him.  Ooh, or maybe I could-”

“Just ignore him,” Angel advised.  “He’s never going to change.  I’ll talk
to him if you want me to, but it won’t do any good.  And I don’t suggest
hitting him.”

She sank back into her chair and sighed irritably.  “I know, I know.
Xander already told me not to, and Doyle *growled* at me the last time I
knocked the idiot upside his head.”  She crossed her arms over her chest.

“Don’t pout, princess,” said Doyle, entering the office.  “Don’t want to
spoil your face, do you?”  He perched on the desk and smiled at Angel,
then looked down at the seated woman.  “Hitting’s not allowed, but you
don’t want to hit him.  What’s the fun in that?  He heals to fast.  Your
power’s in your words. What does Xander call it?  Your prom queen
attitude.  You’ve just got to show him who’s boss.”

“Do you think that will work?”

Of course not.  “You have to give it a shot,” Angel said encouragingly.
He knew it was hopeless.  Nothing she did or said could ever change Spike,
but at least now their clashes might be a little more interesting.  “I’m
going to run this downstairs,” he said, pointing at the bag, “and then
I’ll be back up.  I want to look over our client list.”  That made
Cordelia light up; nothing like the promise of money to bring a smile to
her face.

As he made the trip downstairs and back, Angel reflected on the way
business had improved.  The agency had begun as a by-product of his need
to have a reason to act on Doyle’s visions but it had grown to be more
than that.  He and his lovers were out on the streets almost every night,
looking for evil and finding it.  They were constantly working; word was
spreading that Angel Investigations was the place to go when your problems
were too strange or too deadly to turn to anyone else.

Doyle still had visions, of course.  The Powers That Be had to keep their
cryptic hands in, but the visions didn’t come with same frequency.  That
was fine with Angel.  It tore him up to watch Doyle suffer, knowing that
the pain was the result of messages meant for him, that it was his fault.
Knowing that their expanding business meant fewer visions gave Angel all
the motivation he needed to keep working.

Back inside the office, Cordelia had files on unpaid bills happily spread
across her desk.  She smiled down at them.  “Look at all this money just
waiting to come and live with us.  We’ll bring you home soon,” she
promised the bills.

Angel matched Doyle’s grin with one of his own.  He knew they needed to
get down to business, knew that more money meant more fun ways he could
spoil his lovers, but first things first.  He had his priorities in order.
 He reached out and grabbed Doyle by his upper arms, pulling him to his
feet.  The Irishman came easily, without any resistance.  “Hey,” Angel
said softly, wrapping his arms around him.

“Hey,” Doyle replied, eyes soft and pleased.  He pressed closer, warmth
and life settling firmly into Angel’s arms.

Angel bent forward and pressed his lips to Doyle’s, gently teasing them
open with his tongue.  Doyle granted him instant access, a contented moan
rising up within his chest.  Angel explored the warmth of his mouth
leisurely, thoroughly.  The feeling of warm fingers twining in his hair
made his tighten his hold.  He loved this man, loved the feel of him, the
taste of him.  He loved *him*.

Finally the sound Cordelia’s voice broke through the pleasant haze that
enveloped him.  “Guys.  Guys!  Do you think we could get back to business?
I’d hate to interrupt all that important making out with work, but I
though we all agreed that getting people to pay their bills was of the

Angel reluctantly pulled away from Doyle.  “We’ll get back to this.”

“You bet your ass we will.”  Doyle stole one more kiss, then moved to
slouch down into one of chairs facing Cordelia’s desk.

Angel took the other chair.  He’d prefer to sit with Doyle, or even better
serve as Doyle’s chair, but then no business would get done.  Cordelia had
threatened to do all sorts of nasty things to them and their clothing if
they ever started to blow off work in favor of necking, and Angel thought
she’d go through with the threats.  It involved money, after all, and
money transformed Cordelia into a serious woman.  “What have we got?” he
asked, leaning forward to survey the bills on the desk.

“A nice long list of people Spike can shake down,” she answered with glee.
“Oh, look!  He is good for something.”

Doyle laughed at loud.  “He’s going to like that.”

Angel had to admit it was true.  Spike had enthusiastically taken to
working with Angel; fighting evil was still fighting, and the blond
vampire was completely in his element wreaking destruction down upon the
various demons that the Oracles sent them after or their clients came to
them for help with. Spike also enjoyed scaring reluctant payers into
settling their bills.  He might not be able to hurt humans, but that
didn’t mean he couldn’t frighten the living hell out of them.

And after a fight, or even after just intimidating a former client, Spike
became easily aroused, needing to work off all the excess energy he’d
built up.  His blood would be up and he’d be damn near insatiable...but
that was a thought process for another time.  He wasn’t up to Cordelia’s
“no sex thoughts in the office” lecture.

He picked up one of the bills.  “I think this one’s a good possibility.
We could-”  A knock at the door interrupted him.  “Hold that thought.”  He
stood up and walked cautiously over to the door.  Clients let themselves
in. Knocking probably meant danger.  He swung the door open.  Shit.
Danger was a major understatement.  “Buffy.  Giles.  Come in.”

Buffy walked past him into the office, Giles close behind her.  “Angel, I
didn’t mean to surprise you, but the phone lines in Sunnydale went down
last night and we need to get some information from you and we needed it

I’m find, and how are you doing?  Angel shook off his irritation.  “What’s
the emergency?”

“There’s this demon in Sunnydale, and according to the histories Giles
has, you’ve run into it before.”  She hesitated, then continued in a
quieter voice, “While you were Angelus.”

Angel nodded.  He could handle this.  “Which one?  I had a run in with
quite a few.”

“This one disrupts technology.  That’s why the phone lines are down.  It
just makes machines, especially computers, not work anymore.  If it gets
too close to the hospital, the main power station...if it gets out of
Sunnydale it could be disastrous.  According to what Giles told me, you
ran into this one when it was interfering with the train system in Europe.
 You fought with it ba-”

“Bloody hell!  What are you doing here?”  Giles’ shout drew their
attention to the inner office.

Shit.  Doyle was in the office!  Angel hurried over, Buffy right on his heels.
He found Giles staring accusingly at Doyle, who had half-risen from his
chair.  Cordelia had also stood.  Angel knew that Cordelia was aware that
the group from Sunnydale only knew Xander was involved with Doyle.  He
hoped she’d keep that in mind.

“You!”  Buffy pushed past Angel and Giles.  “What are you doing here?
Where’s Xander?”

Doyle cast a slightly desperate look at Angel, then squared his shoulders
and faced Giles and Buffy.  “I’m here because I work with Angel.  I have
for months now, before I even met Xander.  And I don’t know where he is
right now. I’m his lover, not his keeper.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes.  “Hi, Cordelia.  How are you doing?  Love your
hair - that length looks really good on you.”

Buffy sighed.  “Hi Cordelia.”

“Hi, Buffy.  How are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m fine.  I’m a little rushed, though.  You know, the usual:
Sunnydale about to be destroyed by demons.  Pardon me if I want to get
right to business.”

“And yelling at Doyle is business?”

Doyle caught Angel’s gaze.  “We could go get a drink, let them settle this
on their own.  Come back when their done.”

“Coward,” Angel said fondly.

“Cut the humor,” Giles said.  “Yes, the information we need is important,
but so is Xander.  We haven’t seen him for months, and we’re concerned.
Where is he?”  The Englishman’s pale eyes were hard, intent.

Angel was slightly taken aback by Giles’ vehemence.  He remembered some
veiled hints Spike had dropped during a few of his more jealous moments
about Xander having a crush on Giles in the past.  It looked to him as
though Xander’s feelings weren’t as unrequited as the mortal had believed.

Angel forcibly reminded himself of the facts, so far as Buffy and Giles
knew them:  Xander and Doyle were lovers.  He wasn’t involved with either
of them so he’d have to be careful how he’d act around them.

Doyle glared at Giles.  “I told you I don’t know.  It’s not like a keep
him on a leash.”  A faint shade of pink came to Doyle’s cheeks, and Angel
knew what he was thinking.  The Irishman was no doubt imagining Xander
wearing nothing but a leash and a smile, eyes downcast but with a naughty
twist to his lips, muscled limbs held quiescent, awaiting contact,
awaiting orders...

No sex thoughts in the office.  Especially not in front of Buffy.  Angel
tried to come up with a way to draw the focus in the room back to the
demon in Sunnydale, but was interrupted by the door opening.  A familiar
heartbeat came to his ears.  Xander was home.

He watched as the younger man entered the office, laughing back over his
shoulder.  “It’s you’re own fault,” Xander said to the bag-laden person
behind him.  “If you’d keep out of the food, we wouldn’t have to shop as

Angel could tell by the muted grumbling behind the mass of bags that Spike
had once again been suckered into carrying all the bags.  He watched as
Xander’s eyes widened as he took in the scene in front of him.

The dark-haired young man licked his lips and stopped dead.  “Buffy!
Giles! What are you doing here?”

Spike summed the situation up nicely from behind the wall of packages.



Xander felt like he was frozen; shock held him immobile.  What were Buffy
and Giles doing here?  They hadn’t said anything about coming up when he’d
made his last weekly call down to Sunnydale to check in with Willow and
everyone else.

He worried at his lower lip as he tried to figure out what to do.  If he’d
known they were coming he could’ve prepared himself, could’ve come up with
some kind of plan.  Buffy and Giles only knew about Doyle; he doubted they
were ready to here that Angel and Spike were also a part of the equation.
Xander didn’t what to deny his relationship with any of them; he wasn’t
ashamed of them.  He loved them.  At the same time, he didn’t want to
cause any trouble if it was possible to avoid it.

The first thing he had to do was get Spike out of the door way and the
groceries into the kitchen.  He forced himself to walk into the inner
office. “Spike, why don’t you take those downstairs?”  It really wasn’t a
question. He just hoped the vampire would go along with it.  He held his
breath, gaze darting from Angel’s face to Doyle’s and back to Angel’s
again, looking for some sort of guidance.  What should he do?  How should
he act?

Buffy’s hand dropped to her pocket and she fished out a stake.  “Xander,
is that Spike behind you?  What the hell is he doing here?”  She moved to
step around Xander.

Xander put himself directly in her path.  “Right now he’s carrying the
bags downstairs.”

Angel moved to stand beside him.  “Don’t worry about Spike.  He came here
to help me with something.  He’s working for me.”

“Are you insane?”

“Buffy, it’s under control.”  He reached out and turned Spike so he was
pointed toward the elevator.  “Kitchen, Spike.”

Xander heard Spike’s mutters as the blond man made his way to the kitchen,
but couldn’t understand them.  Judging by the way Angel was clenching his
jaw, he should be glad of that.  “So Buff...what brings you to LA?”

She transferred her attention back to him.  “We need some information on a
demon so we came to see Angel.  How are you doing?  Are you all right?
Why are you here with Angel?”

“I’m fine,” he said, catching sight of Doyle motioning at him.  He walked
over to where the green-eyed man was standing.  “I’m here because Doyle
works with Angel.  Sometimes I do, too, when they need me.”

He didn’t get the chance to say anything more; Doyle pulled him into a
tight embrace, a fierce comforting hug that he returned with
near-desperation.  He brushed his lips against Doyle’s, needing the
contact.  The other man obliged him, deepening the kiss, drawing Xander’s
tongue out to play.  Xander broke the kiss after a little while.  No need
to put on a show; besides, he didn’t want another “no sex in the office”
lecture from Cordy.

He turned around to face Buffy and Giles again, this time with Doyle’s
arms wrapped protectively around him.  He stifled a curse.  He knew Spike
hated the Scooby Gang and was prepared to have to reign his lover in
constantly where Buffy and Giles were concerned, but he hadn’t figured on
having to do the same for Doyle.  He’d forgotten how passionately the
Irishman disliked all his friends in Sunnydale, forgotten the
confrontation that had taken place in Giles’ living room.  Judging by the
way Doyle was holding him, Doyle had forgotten, and forgiven, nothing.

Xander glanced over at Angel and bit his lip, hard.  The taller man looked
tense and angry, although he was hiding it well.  Xander doubted that
anyone who didn’t love him would notice.  That meant Angel hadn’t
forgotten or forgiven anything either.

Shit.  He was going to have enough trouble dealing with Buffy and Giles
without having to baby-sit his lovers.  Not that Buffy and Giles would
know they were his lovers.  Unless they were going to tell them

And he was right back where he started.  At least now he had Doyle’s
warmth at his back now.  “Why don’t we sit down,” he suggested.  “There
are more chairs in the living room.  Um, aren’t there?”  Or was he
supposed to know?  He begged Angel for some kind of clue as to what he
should say, how much he should tell.

“I haven’t gotten rid of the chairs since the last time you and Doyle were
downstairs,” Angel said, smiling gently.  “Follow me.”

As Xander followed Angel, Buffy, Giles, and Cordy downstairs, he clung to
Doyle’s hand.  He wasn’t ready for this.  He’d stayed in contact with
Willow, calling her at least once a week.  He’d spoken to Buffy a few
times and Giles a little more often, but nothing had been resolved.  They
hadn’t really discussed why he’d left or the argument that had occurred
when he’d announced he was leaving for LA.  He missed the Scooby Gang, but
wasn’t so sure he was ready to be with them again.

In the living room, Doyle pulled him over to the couch and sat down,
tugging Xander down to sit beside him.  Xander relaxed back into Doyle’s
warm arms, sinking gratefully into the embrace and the promise of support.
 He felt Doyle’s arms tighten and smiled.  He had all the love and support
he’d ever need.  Whatever happened might not be pleasant, but he’d never
have to face anything alone.

“What have you been up to?” Giles asked, settling into a chair near
Xander. Buffy perched in another chair, while Angel leaned against the
wall closest to the kitchen and Cordy sat on the other end of the couch.
Xander grinned a little at Angel; the vampire had positioned himself so he
could control Spike, whenever the blond man decided to return and grace
them with his presence.

“Nothing too exciting,” Xander answered.  “Getting used to life in the big
city, helping out around here when I can.  I’m going to school now, too.”

“Really?  That’s wonderful, Xander.  What are you studying?”

“General courses now.”  He felt embarrassed by the fact that he wanted to
go into law.  He’d been a mediocre student at best in high school; faced
with the people that had known him in school, his aspirations now sounded
slightly ludicrous.

Doyle apparently felt no such inhibitions.  “He wants to go into law,” he
said proudly.  “He’s doing really well in his classes.”  He nuzzled gently
at Xander’s temple, scattering a few kisses across his cheek.

Xander shook his head.  There was no controlling any of them.  He had to
admit, though, that the utter and complete confidence that Doyle showed in
him was warming.  He turned his head and rewarded Doyle with a long kiss.
A little showy, but he wanted to emphasize the fact that he was with Doyle
and that he loved him.  He might be hiding his love for the other men, but
he wasn’t going to deny Doyle.  He licked gently at Doyle’s lower lip,
then turned back to face Buffy and Giles.  He caught Cordy giving him a
look, so he stared back at her.  “The no-sex rule only applies to the
office,” he said, and stuck out his tongue.  He laughed when she dismissed
him with raised middle finger.

Both the Slayer and the Watcher looked faintly outraged, but they didn’t
say anything.  Buffy leaned forward.  “So you’re working with Angel now?
How did that happen?  Last time I checked, you were tired of doing Slaying
work. That’s what you said when you left, anyway.”

Were they going to get back to fighting so soon?  Xander shook his head.
“First, I’m not doing Slaying work.  I’m doing demon-investigative work.
There’s a difference.  Less focus on backing up the Slayer, more on
serving the Oracles and our clients.  Second, I never said I was tired of
the work.  I said I was tired of not being needed, of being ignored and
pushed aside.”

“That doesn’t happen here,” Doyle said, breath tickling against Xander’s
ear. “We need him.  He’s wanted and appreciated.”  His words were a

“We needed you in Sunnydale,” Giles objected.  He didn’t speak to Doyle,
instead staring intently at Xander.  “Things aren’t the same without you.”

“No, they wouldn’t be.  No one to have go on a junk food supply run, no
one to make suggestions that will automatically be ignored.  Everyone
makes pithy remarks, so you don’t need me for that.  Oh, oh, I know.  You
need me to be the token guy with some military experience...but wait, you
have Riley for that now.  Never mind.”  He watched in some satisfaction as
both Buffy and Giles flinched.  They couldn’t just come here and snap
their fingers and expect him to run back to Sunnydale.  He meant
everything he said.  His home was in LA, with the men he loved.

Buffy scowled.  “That’s not how it was.”

“Funny, I lived it and that’s how I remember it.”  She opened her mouth to
reply and he held up a hand.  “Look, you didn’t come here to fight with
me. Why did you come?”

Buffy crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.  Giles cleared
his throat.  “We need some information from Angel about a demon that he
encountered in the past.”  The Watcher quickly sketched out the problem
the demon was wreaking with Sunnydale’s technology and what Angel’s
connection to it was.

Xander’s gaze flickered over to Angel at the mention of Angelus, but the
taller man seemed unfazed.  Xander knew that the vampire was bothered by
mention of Angelus, though.  He decided to keep a close eye on him.
Dealing with Buffy in town would be bad enough without Angel descending
into a fit of melancholy brooding.

He reluctantly looked back at Giles.  The older man was speaking directly
to him, focusing too much attention on him.  He was uncomfortably reminded
of his crush on Giles.  Two years ago he would have been ecstatic to be
the focus of this attention, reveling in the fact the Giles was talking
just to him.  Now he wanted the other man to lean back, to give him more
space.  It was almost like Giles was the one with the crush now.  But that
was crazy.

Wasn’t it?

Once Giles wound down, Xander raised an eyebrow.  “So we’re going to go
take care of this demon so Sunnydale will once again be safe...at least
for the next five minutes?”

Buffy shook her head.  “*We’re* not doing anything.  Once we find out how
to stop this thing, Giles and I will go back to Sunnydale and take care of
business.  We don’t need any of your *help*.”

Xander flinched back a little.  Making him aware every day of how little
he was needed was one thing; coming out and saying it was something else.
Behind him, he felt Doyle tense.  He leaned back hard to prevent the other
man from saying anything and felt enormously relieved that  Spike was
still busy in the kitchen.  The blond vampire must have still been
muttering to himself, drowning out the voices in the living room.  If he’d
heard Buffy, Xander knew he would have been at her throat, chip or no
chip.  Spike had once sworn never to allow anything to hurt him ever again
and Xander believed him.

Angel leaned forward, voice carefully neutral as he said, “This demon is a
nasty one, very difficult to beat.  I actually didn’t manage to win the
fight I had with it.  I don’t know what it’s doing in Sunnydale - it
usually avoids urban areas.”

“Look, just tell us its weak points, all right?  You can stay here and
shake down the demons of the big city.  In case you forgot, I’m the
Slayer.  I can handle this.  Just tell me how to beat it.  It’s not your

Angel gritted his teeth.  “Buffy-”

Whatever he was going to say was lost when Doyle cried out sharply.
Xander twisted around and watched as the Irishman clutched his head in
sudden pain.

“Vision,” Cordelia said shortly, cutting off Buffy’s question.

Xander immediately pulled Doyle into his arms, doing his best to comfort
him until the pain passed.  The other man’s body jerked in his arms for a
few moments, then Doyle was relaxing bonelessly into his embrace, groaning
softly as Xander carefully massaged his temples.

A watery green eye opened, staring right at Buffy.  She and Giles were
staring right back in horrified fascination.  “So, Slayer.  This demon
you’re after? It wouldn’t happen to be about twelve feet tall, red, with
an overabundance of horns, now would it?”

Xander repressed a string of curses.  He could see where this was going.
Besides that, Doyle was referring to Buffy as Slayer, something he’d
obviously picked up from Spike’s antagonistic view of her.  This wasn’t

“How did you know?”  Her voice was part curiosity, part suspicion.

Doyle closed his eye and burrowed into Xander’s embrace.  “Then the demon
is our problem.  It’s on our turf now.”

“Shit,” Xander said, wrapping himself around Doyle in a tighter embrace.
“It’s in LA.”


Doyle had learned how to deal with the headaches brought on by the
visions; he’d had quite a bit of experience with them, after all.  The
best thing for them was plenty of aspirin and quiet.  Give him a quarter
of an hour and he’d be fine.

Of course, with the Slayer shrilly demanding explanations he doubted he’d
be getting the quiet he wanted any time soon.  That was fine; he had the
next best thing.  Xander was holding him close, fingers gently rubbing his
temples as a soft voice murmured nonsense words and irritated curses into
his ear as the younger man tried to help him ride out the pain.

Cool fingers pressed pills into his hand.  Doyle opened his eyes and saw
Spike staring down at him, concern clear in his gaze.  Blue eyes shifted
from him to Xander and back again, and Doyle wanted to reach out and
soothe away the impatience and longing in them.

Spike was protective of his lovers.  Oh, he was especially so with Xander,
not that Doyle minded a bit.  The dark-eyed man had been hurt too often in
the past and Doyle was all for anything that could save him more hurt in
the future.  If that meant Spike acted like an overgrown wolf guarding its
pup, then so be it.  But the blond vampire had a protective streak where
Doyle and Angel were concerned as well.  He was quick to insult them all,
but only *he* could do so; anyone else who tried risked incurring the full
wrath of William the Bloody.  The same held true physically:  while Spike
wasn’t beyond taking a swing at Angel, heaven help the being who dare to
threaten any of his lovers.  When Doyle had visions in the past, he’d come
back to awareness to find himself wrapped in Spike’s arms, cool fingers
soothing away the pain while the vampire muttered imprecations and threats
against the Oracles for hurting Doyle in the first place.  It was a
toss-up who’d catch him; all of his lovers wanted to do what they could to
help him deal with the pain.

Doyle could see that Spike wanted to comfort him, wanted to be there for
him as he fought his way through the pain that lingered after the Powers
That Be’s message had been delivered.  Even more, he knew that Spike
wanted to place a visible claim on him and let the Slayer and her Watcher
know exactly who belonged to who.  He couldn’t, though.  Spike knew that
the Sunnydale group had no idea that he or Angel were a part of the
relationship, and without Xander’s permission Spike would never tell.  For
that reason, he couldn’t comfort Doyle or touch Xander or even tease Angel
in the way he was accustomed.

Instead, Spike had to settle for bringing him aspirin and shoving a glass
of water at him, pretending all the while that he barely cared whether
Doyle lived or died, pretending that he didn’t want to join them on the
couch, pretending that he wasn’t a part of them.

Irritation and rage clouded Spike’s gaze as the vampire turned away.
Doyle sat up, alarmed, but Spike only stared down challengingly at Buffy.
“So, Slayer.  Tell me about this demon you need us to kill for you.”

“I don’t need you,” she spat.  “Watch yourself, Spike.  Chip or no chip-”

“Chip or no chip, you’re not going to do anything to him,” Angel said,
crossing the room to stand between them.  “This is my town, Buffy.  We’re
going to play by my rules.”  He quickly sketched out the situation to
Spike. He concluded by saying, “We’ve got to get this thing under control.
 It could shut down the city in a couple of hours by coming too close to
power processing stations.”  He shook his head.  “I just don’t understand
what it’s doing in the city.  Everything I can remember about it tells me
that it should be off in the mountains.  Why the hell did it even come to
America?  It’s reclusive, avoids humanity.”  He looked over at Doyle.
“Are you sure you saw it in the city?”

Doyle nodded and instantly regretted.  The aspirin hadn’t kicked in yet.
“Oh yeah.  It was over in the park on the east side, the one Xander and I
told you about?”

“The one with the slide?” Spike asked.  He’d loved the story about Doyle
having to pull Xander off the slide in order to make room for the little
kids who wanted to play.  The vampire intended to take Xander back there
some night in order to witness him sliding for himself.

“That’s the one.  It was in that park, but not by the playground.”

Spike apparently figured his question had been too mild, too risky,
because he snapped,  “Too bad.  Maybe if it destroyed it you two would
have to grow up.” He shot a snotty look at them, then lit up a cigarette.

Great.  Doyle supposed that was what they had to look forward to as long
as the Slayer was in town:  clumsy insults and a sulking Spike.  Just what
he wanted.  He sat up a little and cast a worried glance at Xander.  The
younger man still suffered from cycles of doubt during which he managed to
convince himself that the love Doyle, Angel and Spike had for him wasn’t
real, that it was going to disappear as if it had never been.  Spike was
usually the one to get him through those thoughts, convincing him through
determination and devotion that the love was real.  How was he going to
take a deliberately cold Spike?

Xander looked all right.  He was shooting an irritated glare back at
Spike. He caught Doyle looking at him, and lowered his head so his lips
were at Doyle’s ear.  “We have months of practice to fall back on,” he
breathed.  “All he did when he lived in the basement with me was insult
me, and you know me: can’t let an opportunity to run my mouth pass me by.
It’ll be just like old times.”

Doyle nodded, but he wasn’t fully convinced.  Sometimes being with Angel
was just so much easier.  Angel was more confident, not needing the
constant reassurances that Xander and Spike both seemed to crave.  Still,
if it was reassurance they wanted, then that’s what they would get.

He loved them.  That was all there was to it.

“So what now?” Xander asked.  “Doyle’s given us marching orders.  Are we
going to get going?”

“*We’re* not going anywhere,” Buffy said, standing.  “Vision-boy is going
to tell me where the park is, then I’m going to kill the demon.”

“Vision-boy has a name,” Cordelia protested.  That was his princess.  It
was creepy sometimes, how much she was like Spike.  She had no problem
coming up with cute little nicknames to call him, but no one else was
allowed to make fun of him.

“I don’t need to know his name.  All I need is to know is which park he

“You’re not going on your own,” Angel said.  “It’s in my town, and that
makes it my business.”  He held up a hand and wonder of wonders she shut
up.  “If you don’t want to accept our help, then I’ll just leave you

Giles rose to his feet.  “Enough.  I despair that I will ever be able to
stop acting as referee for all of you.  Buffy, we will go with Angel-”

“And Spike,” Angel added.

“No!”  Buffy shook her head violently.  “The biteless wonder is not

“We will go with Angel and anyone else he wants to bring and we will go
take care of the demon.”  Giles said, voice hard.

The power, the utter finality of the authority in his voice...the man had
definitely taught in public school.

“Just Spike,” Angel decided.  “Doyle and Xander can stay here and do
research in case we need it.”

“Hey!”  Xander shifted behind Doyle.  “I’m not staying here.”

“Yes, you are.”  Angel’s tone was hard, but his gaze was pleading.

“Fine.  But if I stay, so does Giles.  I’ve got homework to do, and he’s
the original research guy.”

Giles nodded.  “Fine.  I feel I’d be more helpful here, anyway.”

The easy agreement made Doyle suspicious, and he was glad Angel had
counted him out.  He wanted to stay behind and chaperone.  No way was he
leaving either of these two alone with Xander.

Angel, Spike and Buffy left, still bickering as the door closed behind
them. Cordelia stood.  “As much fun as the old research sessions always
were, and as much as I’d like the chance to recapture the old Sunnyhell
days, I’ve got to be going.  I’ve got an important lunch date tomorrow.”

Xander laughed.  “You’re acting’s getting better.  I almost believed the

“Really?”  She beamed at him.  “See you tomorrow...um, if you decided to
come back to see us, I mean.”

“Xander and I will probably crash here,” Doyle said.  He had to say it, or
else he and Xander would be out looking for a motel room to sleep in.  He
watched her leave, then tilted his head back so he could see Xander.
“Ready to do research?”

“I was serious.  Homework for me.  You two get to do the research.”  He
smiled.  “And you get to help me with the homework.  How’re you at

“I’ll manage.”  Aware of Giles’s gaze on them as the older man waited to
begin, Doyle twisted around so he was facing Xander.  “But you know I’ll
be distracted.”  He kissed Xander’s cheek, then brushed his lips down his
jawline, then over to his mouth.  He kissed the other man leisurely,
enjoying the taste of his lover, enjoying the knowledge that he had
Xander’s love and the man watching them did not.

Finally, Xander pulled his mouth away.  “They’ll be pissed if they call
for help and we miss the call because we’re making out.”

“Not like Angel can figure out how to work his cell,” Doyle grumbled, but
he got off of Xander.  While Xander retrieved his backpack, Doyle led
Giles over to the bookshelves.  “The ones on demons are here on the left.”

The Watcher nodded shortly.  “I recognize some of the titles.”  He pulled
several books off the shelf.  Doyle chose a few others that looked
promising. He walked back over to the couch and sat beside Xander.

Soon, all three men were surrounded by open books.  Doyle stole glances at
Xander from time to time.  The younger man did homework like he
researched: both tasks involved interaction with the text.  Xander
constantly talked back to the books he read, making sarcastic little
comments under his breath. Giles didn’t seem to notice, so it was
apparently an old habit, something he’d always done.

After an hour, Xander’s comments became more frustrated then sarcastic.
“You need some help with something, Xan?”

“Yeah.  Fetch me some matches so I can light this damn book on fire, K?”
At Doyle’s look he sighed.  “I can’t figure out what this question is
looking for.  There’s too much going on inside of it; I’m not even sure
what it’s asking.”

Doyle scooted over a little and had a look.  He didn’t know much about the
subject, but he did know about learning.  He puzzled his way through the
question.  “That’s about the worst way to word it that they could have
come up with,” he observed.  “Here, let me help you break it down.”  He
talked Xander through the question.

When he was half-way through, Xander finished it on his own, and already
knew the answer.  He wrote it down quickly.  As he glance up, his gaze met
Giles’s. Doyle also looked over and realized that the Watcher had been staring at

“Doyle was a teacher before he started helping Angel,” Xander explained.
The pride in his voice was obvious, and it warmed Doyle to his very soul.
Xander looked over at him.  “You’re the best.”

At that moment, Doyle felt like it.  God, but he loved this man.  “You
bring it out in me,” he said, not caring how sappy he sounded.  A brief
kiss, and they were back to work.

Giles cleared his throat.  “If law is really what you want to get into,
the university in Sunnydale is reported to have an excellent pre-law
program.  You could always attend classes there.”  His gaze was fixed on

Xander shook his head.  “I’m thinking about law because it would let me
help here, way more than I can right now.  I’m not leaving LA, Giles.
Everything I want is here, everything I need.”

Giles opened his mouth to reply, then shut it again.  “I see,” he said
quietly, then bent back over the book in his lap.

The glance Xander shot at Doyle was faintly sad and a little anxious.
Doyle reached over to squeezed his shoulder in wordless support.  It
wasn’t easy to leave home, especially when home didn’t want you to go.
Xander sighed and turned back to his homework.

Doyle read through his books, but he also kept an eye on Giles.  He was
pretty sure it had been made it obvious that the Watcher could never have
Xander, but he wasn’t going to take any stupid chances.

Rumbling noises broke the silence.  “When was the last time you ate?”
Doyle asked, grinning at the sound of Xander’s stomach.

“Breakfast,” Xander admitted sheepishly.

“Break-”  Doyle stared at him.  “For pity’s sake, Xander.  I’m going to go
make you something.  “Tuna melt?”

“That would be great.  Uh, Giles?  You want anything?”

“I could do with something to eat, yes,” Giles admitted.  “If you’d show
me the kitchen I’m sure I could fend for myself.”

Doyle sighed.  Time to act like a grown up.  “Don’t worry about it.  I’ll
just make double.”  At the sound of Xander’s stomach, he amended, “Triple,
then. You two stay here and work.”  He got up and went into the kitchen.

He could give them some time alone together, to do some visiting without
him there.  The kitchen was close enough that he could keep an eye on
them.  The minute Giles got too close to Xander, the second Xander looked
anything but happy, he’d be out there again.  Watch out for Xander and
cook at the same time?  Hey, he could multitask after all.


Spike stalked down the street, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his
duster.  It wasn’t fair:  he was on his way to kill a demon.  He should be
gleeful, since this time the killing was sanctioned.  No disappointed
looks from Angel, no challenging stares from Doyle, no admonishes from
Xander to behave.  He could tear and beat and kill without any

Why the hell did the Slayer have to come along?

He and Angel could have lost her easily.  Point and say ‘oh look, a shoe
sale’ and she’d be distracted long enough for them to take off.  She
didn’t know the city; they could kill the demon and be back home before
she figured out that the shoe store wasn’t open.  They could shove Giles
into a closet and then they’d be alone.  Then he could finally take Xander
up on all the promises the boy had made to him earlier that evening.

He looked ahead of him, scowling at the Slayer as she walked beside Angel.
Bitch.  He didn’t want her to come to town.  This was *his* place, now,
where he and *his* lovers lived.  She could only ruin things.  And she’d
brought the Watcher with her!  Could it get any worse?  He knew that
Xander was over his crush on Giles, but the older man didn’t seem to
realize that.  Spike agreed with Doyle - Giles was far too interested in
Xander.  He growled quietly to himself.  Since Buffy and Giles believed
Xander was only with Doyle, he couldn’t do anything to warn the Watcher

Worse, he couldn’t do anything to reassure Xander.  He knew the dark-eyed
man was thrown by the sudden appearance of the two from Sunnydale.  His
first impulse was to throw Buffy and Giles out into the street and his
second was to wrap Xander in his arms until everything felt all right
again.  He couldn’t do any of it and it was making him crazy.

His gaze slid off Buffy and over to Angel.  He snorted a little as he
watched the long dark coat move a little in a small breeze, swirling
dramatically around the taller man.  The coat looked very impressive, but
Spike preferred him out of it.  The long folds of cloth completely hid
Angel’s body, which was a shame.  Irritating and broody as the older
vampire could be, he still had a great ass.

Grinning a little at said ass, Spike forced himself to focus on the coming
fight.  Kill the demon, send the Slayer back to Sunnyhell, then shag
Xander through the mattress.

Then Doyle.

And *then* Angel.  He had a feeling that seeing his ex was going to throw
Angel into a brooding tailspin and there was no way he was going to let
that happen.  Sex couldn’t solve *everything*, but it certainly could keep
Angel distracted long enough that the shock of Buffy could pass.  As much
fun as tormenting his Sire was, Spike didn’t like to see him upset.

Unless of course Angel was upset with him, and intended to punish him.
That suited Spike just fine.

Gritting his teeth, he hurried his steps and caught up to Angel.  “Tell me
more about this demon, Peaches.  I have plans for later on tonight, so I
don’t want to be here forever.”

“What are you going to do?  Go make scary faces at little old ladies?”
Buffy glared at him and wrinkled her nose in disdain.  “Ooh, I know!
You’re going to stake out a slumber party of little kids and go all
impotent-vamp-grr at them through the windows!”

“That’s enough,” Angel said.

“No, it’s not.  I’m just getting started.  I don’t see why we have to have
him along.  You and I can take care of this without him and he can go be
obnoxious and useless somewhere else.”

Spike growled low in his chest.  The only thing he hated more than the
chip in his head was being reminded about it.  He wasn’t useless!  He was
just involuntarily rendered into a bad facsimile of a souled ponce.  He
was an unwilling Angel-imitator.  If he was useless, he never would have
been able to save Xander.  He never would have earned Doyle’s respect.  He
never would have been allowed back into Angel’s life.

“He’s not useless.”  Angel’s voice was low but definite.

“Didn’t he tell you about-”

“I know all about the chip.  So he can’t hurt humans.  That doesn’t make
him useless.  Spike’s been an invaluable partner for me.  The Powers That
Be have sent us on missions where he was definitely needed and without him
I might not have succeeded.  If Spike wasn’t with us, then I might not be
coming with you. This thing is nasty and I want him at my back.”

Spike stared at him for a moment, completely caught off-guard.  Angel
didn’t say things like that; it wasn’t the way their relationship worked.
They argued and insulted and fought and watched each other’s backs and
made love with passion and fury, but they didn’t say things like that
about each other. Not now and not in the past; it just wasn’t a part of
the pattern.  He had no idea how to respond.

He saw the Slayer stare at Angel in disbelief.  His gaze met his Sire’s
over her head and they shared a warm look.  Angel could always read him
and for once Spike was glad of it as he allowed all his appreciation,
surprise and love to show in his eyes.

After a few moments he looked away; he just couldn’t hold the moment any
longer.  It was too strange, too far out of his experience.  To cover, he
cleared his throat.  “Speaking of fighting, how are we supposed to take
this thing out?  Why didn’t you kill it when you met it the first time?”

“I didn’t want to kill it when I met it,” Angel said.  “I was in a hurry,
but its presence was destroying the efficiency of the train system.  A
delay in the wrong area could mean having to sleep in a barn, or even
being caught inside the train with nowhere to go when the sun rose.  I
wasn’t willing to let that happen, so I went after it.  I wanted to
forcibly persuade it to move on.”

“Right.  You were Angelus, weren’t you?  And killing wasn’t the first
thing on your mind?”  Buffy’s voice was thick with sarcastic disbelief.

Spike bristled.  “You think you know everything about Angelus?  You think
being the Slayer makes you an expert?  You know nothing, little girl.”
She didn’t.  There had been more to Angelus than the killing, more to him
then the obsession she’d seen in on the Hellmouth.  Hell, she didn’t even
know about Angelus’s true desire:  she’d been so caught up in her little
drama, in her role as the beacon of light besieged by darkness that she’d
never noticed the vampire’s fixation on Xander.  It had been well-hidden,
true, but all vampires on the Hellmouth during Angelus’s time had known
not to harm the boy:  he was the vampire’s chosen one, marked out for
protection until Angelus moved to claim him.  Not that Spike was going to
tell her that.  He didn’t want to give her voice any reason to get
shriller than it already was.

Angel separated them with a raised hand.  “None of this matter right now.
What matters is getting this demon out of the city.”  He waited until they
both nodded then continued.  “All I wanted to do was drive it back into
the wilderness and I was barely able to do so.  It’s big, and it has
strength to match it’s size.  One on one, I believe we were equally
matched, so the three of us will have no trouble defeating it.”  He
frowned.  “I just don’t understand what it’s doing here.  It always
avoided civilization before; it lives in the forests or deep mountains,
far from humans.  Why is it in the city?”

“We can ask it, Peaches,” Spike said, grinning viciously.  “Right before
we hand its head to it, all polite-like.”  Then the Slayer could take
herself and her Watcher back to Sunnyhell.  Maybe he’d get lucky and
they’d die in a car crash on the way back.

Angel shot him a quelling look.  “First we’ll try to drive it off, give it
the chance to leave voluntarily.  If that doesn’t work, then we hand it
its head.”
There was the faintest hint of a smile on his face as he spoke the last

“Talk before fighting.  You always want to give then an out before we kill
them.  You’re not any fun any more.”  Spike started walking toward the
park again.  After a moment, he heard the other two fall into step behind

It didn’t take long to reach the park.  Spike always had a hard time
imagining parks full of people, of families and children.  He’d never seen
them in anything but darkness, populated by those with nowhere else to be:
the homeless, the wandering, the packs of hard-eyed youths.  He stopped at
the edge of the park and looked around, head thrown back as he scented the
air. “Something smells terrible...oh, that’s just you, Slayer.  And
there’s something demonic off to the right.”

Angel nodded.  “I think that’s it.  Let’s go.”

They headed off to the right, moving deeper into the park.  Once they got
off the usual track, deep in the interior, Spike spotted it.  He pulled up
abruptly and hissed.  “This could take longer than I thought,” he
muttered. Twelve feet tall if an inch, it stood in the middle of clearing
in all its red glory.

Angel stepped forward and called out to it in a common demon language,
asking it what it wanted, asking why it was in the city.  The demon stared
at him, but made no response.

Spike decided to give it a go, using a decidedly lower status tongue, but
he too received no response.

“This isn’t right,” Angel said.  “It understood me last time.  It didn’t
want to listen to me, but it understood what I was saying.”

The demon took a shambling step toward them.  “It’s not moving so good,”
Spike observed.

The creature raised its head and bellowed at them.

“What did it say?” Buffy asked.

“Nonsense,” Angel replied, features bleak.  “Ravings.  I think it’s gone

“Then let’s put it out of its misery, shall we?”  After he received a
permissive nod from Angel, Spike leapt forward.  He could feel
battle-ecstasy rising in him, the heady joy that came with fighting, with
the knowledge that bones would be broken and blood would be spilled.

He outdistanced Angel and Buffy, so he was the first one to come in
contact with the demon.  He pulled back his fist and them slammed it
forward in a mighty blow as he leapt forward.

As soon as his fist connected with the demon’s head, a bolt of pure agony
tore through his head.  It was worse than anything he’d felt since the
chip was jammed in his skull, worse than anything he’d experienced when
testing its limits and attacking humans.

Spike folded up on himself, unable to withstand the pain.  He fell heavily
to the ground, his head cracking against a clump of stones.  That pain
blended with the agony from the chip, blinding him to anything but the
crippling sensation.  Needles of fire were ripping through his head, snaky
tendrils of white-hot pain were creeping down his spine, and the fire
continued to spread until even his skin burned with it.

Hands clenching at his temples convulsively, he forced himself to open his
eyes, even as he was unable to stop a strangled whimper from escaping him.
Nothing had ever hurt this much; he’d never though that anything could.
He needed to check on Angel, make sure his Sire was all right.

He saw Angel running...running *away* from the demon and toward him.  That
wasn’t right; they were supposed to fighting the bloody thing.  What was
Angel thinking?

The taller man fell to his knees beside Spike.  “What happened?” he
demanded, gaze roaming over the fallen man, searching for injuries.

“My head,” Spike gasped out.  “What are you waiting for?  Kill it!”  The
effort of speaking was exhausting; Spike curled farther in on himself.  He
just wanted the pain to stop, please let it stop...

Cool arms closed about him, lifting him up.  “What?”

“I’m getting you out of here.  We’ll take care of the demon later.”
Angel’s tone was familiar:  it was the once that would accept no protests.
 his mind had been made up and nothing was going to change it.

Not that it had ever stopped Spike from objecting before.  “Listen you
bloody pouf,” was all he got out before the pain swelled, growing so
intense that it overwhelmed him.  With a sigh of relief, Spike blacked out
and knew no more.


As always, Angel was slightly amazed by Buffy’s very existence. She had
changed his life more than any one person, with the possible exception of
Darla. Meeting her had transformed him from an apathetic hanger-on to
society’s fringes into an active member in the fight against evil.

He’d loved her once, loved her with all the passion and intensity of a man
who’d never thought himself capable of loving again. Loving her had
brought him back to life, given him back the hope of living in the light,
a life that he’d believed was forever out of his reach. She’d symbolized
the hope of that light to him and then she’d become the light for him, his
new sun to replace the one he’d never see again. He came to rely on her
for guidence, making her his new focus in life. She’d been equally devoted
to him and they’d connected deeply, forming a bond he’d never dreamed

Things had changed, of course; the world had intruded in upon them and
their happiness. They’d grown up and grown apart. The love that they’d had
was gone. He would always care for her; she would always hold a special
place in his heart. She had started him on the road he now traveled.
Because of her, he’d come to know a new happiness, one he flet was better,
more likely to live and grow and support him through the battle to come.

And if she didn’t shut up, he was going hit her over the head with a

“Angel! Where are you going? The demon is back that way!”

“I’m taking Spike home,” he said harshly, cradling the still body in his
arms closer to his chest. When he’d seen the other vampire fall, all
thoughts of killing the demon had fallen away. All that mattered was
getting to Spike’s side and helping him. Now he had no goal except to get
his Childe home: for Spike to fall unconcious because of pain meant that
it had to be overwhelming.

_“We can take care of him later! Right now we’ve got to kill the demon.
Chaos descends upon LA? No electricity? Does any of this ring a bell?” she
demanded as she walked beside him, pointing back toward the park.

“The city has survived riots, brown-outs, and David Hasselhoff. It’ll be

“What’s the big? It’s *Spike*. Just leave him in an alley. We can pick him
up after it’s all over, if you still want him.”

“I’m taking him home,” he said flatly, not bothering to look at her.

She gave up and walked beside him, subsiding into a sullen silence.

That was fine; it saved him the trouble of finding a brick. He could
concentrate instead on Spike and trying to figure out what had gone wrong.
When he’d fallen, Spike had been grabbing at his head. The demon hadn’t
touched him, though, so what was it?

With a sudden dawning of realization it came to him: the chip. How could
they have been so stupid? The demon disrupted electrical devices; they’d
known that going into the fight, but they’d all focused on the big
picture, like power

grids and hospitals. He hadn’t thought to leave his cell phone behind and
he bet his watch was useless.

He’d never even considered the possibility of Spike’s chip being affected.
He didn’t really think about the chip going into this - they were going to
kill a demon, so Spike would be at his side. That was all there was to it.

His grip around his Childe tightened. How had the chip been damaged? To
what extent? Had it been rendered inactive, freeing Spike from its
control? Had its malfuntion caused any damage to the brain tissure
surrounding it? He was going to have to wait for Spike to wake up to be
able to judge what had occured.

If Spike woke up.

Dismissing the chilling thought, Angel hurried his steps. Spike would wake
up, and they would deal with the results of his exposure to the demon
later.  His exposure to the demon, and the consequences of it that Angel
should have foreseen. If he’d been thinking, if he hadn’t allowed himself
to be so distracted by Buffy’s presence, he would have thought of this
possibility. He could’ve save Spike this pain and whatever possible
ramifications that came of it.

He opened the door to the office quickly and headed downstairs. There was
no sign of anyone in the office, so he assumed his lovers and Giles were
down in the living area. As he entered the living room he saw he was
right: Doyle and Xander were sitting together on the couch while Giles
watched them from a chair.  All three men looked up as Angel entered.

Xander jumped to his feet. “What happened to Spike?” he asked, even as
Doyle stood with a startled, “What’s_wrong with him?” They both moved away
from the couch so Angel could lay the unconcious vampire down.

For a moment, Angel debated what to tell them. So far, Buffy hadn’t
figured out what had happened and he would like things to stay that way.
With a sigh, he realized he couldn’t leave Xander and Doyle in the dark.
They cared too much about Spike for them to allow that.

Besides, Xander looked like he might have a panic attack at any moment.
The brown-eyed man was incredibly attatched to Spike, leaning on him more
than anyone else, more willing to accept protection from him than anyone
else. Angel knew the information he had wasn’t comforting, but it was
better than the fear brought on by ignorance. “We found the demon,” he
said quietly, manuvering Spike into a more comfortable position. “Spike
was the first one to engage it, but he fell and hit his head.” He was
acutely aware of Giles listening to every word.

Xander dropped to his knees beside the couch and reached out tentative
fingers to stroke Spike’s hair.  “He fell?  Did the demon...” his voice
trailed away. Angel saw his hands begin to shake as Xander suddenly
understood.  “Is he going to be ok?” the young man asked in a whisper.

Angel glanced over at Doyle and saw that the half-demon looked far too
pale. The prospect of Spike being released from the influence of the chip
was stressful enough; the thought that Spike could have been injured when
it short-circuited was far worse.  “I don’t know,” he admitted quietly.

“Oh dear lord,” Giles said, eyes wide as he rose to his feet.  “The
demon...his chip - do you know how it has been effected?”

“What about his chip?” Buffy demanded.  After a moment she gasped.  “The
chip! The demon must have fried it!  If it’s not working any more...”  She
pulled out a stake.

“Put that away,” Angel said, eyes narrowing.  He glanced back over at his
Childe and saw that Spike was slowly coming around, limbs moving slowly,
aimlessly as he fought his way to conciousness.  Xander scooted closer to
him, one hand constantly stroking his hair back from his pale forehead in
soothing strokes.  Angel looked back over at Buffy.

She still had the stake in her hand.  “Forget it.  If he’s got his bite
back, I’m not going anywhere.  The truce is over, then.  He can have a bit
of a headstart, if he wants it, not that it will do him any good.”  She
scowled over at Xander.  “Haven’t you been paying attention, Xander?  Get
away from him.  He could be dangerous again.”

Xander didn’t seem to hear her.  He cradled Spike’s cheek in his palm,
laying his other hand on his chest.  “Spike?” he murmured quietly, eyes
searching the vampire’s face.

“What’s the matter with you?” Buffy asked.  She took a step forward,
evidently intending to pull Xander away bodily.

Doyle moved to block her.  “You’re not going anywhere near them,” he said,
voice low and intent.

Angel groaned internally.  Things were rapidly getting out of hand.  He
knew he shouldn’t be surprised, really.  When did things ever stay in hand
where any of them were concerned.  “Everyone just calm down, all right?
We still don’t know how the chip has been effected, or if it’s been
effected at all. We also don’t know if Spike’s been hurt.  There’s no
reason to get confrontational.”  At least not right now.

“Why bother waiting to find out?  Better safe than sorry, that’s what
Officer Buffy says today.”  She hefted the stake in her hand.  “I mean,
I’d really rather be able to see his face as he turns to dust, but I’ll
take what I can get.”

Doyle bristled.  “You won’t be taking anything, except maybe your ass out
the door.  Now.”

“Angel, what the hell is wrong with your friend?  And Xander, what the
hell are you doing?”

Xander didn’t look at her.  “Buffy, take Giles back to your hotel.  We’ll
call you later.”  He slid his hand down Spike’s chest and grabbed one of
his hands.
“Spike, can you hear me?”

Angel glanced over at Giles and watched the older man’s face tighten with
suspicioun.  It was strange:  at times like these, he could almost hear
the shit begining its inexorable journey toward the fan.  Dread building
in his stomach, he transfered his gaze over to Buffy.

She raised one hand and pointed it accusingly at Doyle.  “You and
Xander...and Spike?!”

Distantly, Angel was able to hear the shit complete its journey.

Her eyes narrowed as she glared death at Doyle.  “What have you dragged
Xander into?”

“What?  I haven’t dragged him into anything.”  Doyle raised his chin and
glared right back at her.  “All I’ve ever done is love him.”

“Love him?  Is that what you call tricking him into a relationship?  How
the hell did you brainwash him into letting Spike touch him?”  She shook
her head.

 “I knew something was wrong from the start.  I never should have let him
leave with you.”

“You don’t know anything about me.  You don’t know anything about
*Xander*. I’ve never forced him into anything and neither has Spike.  Both
of us care about it - both of us love him.  We would never do anything to
hurt him.  And I’m not going to let you hurt either of them.”

“Right now you should be worried about me hurting you,” she said, raising
a fist.

“That’s enough,” Angel said, forcing himself between them.  “No one is
hurting anyone.”  He looked over at Giles, who was staring at Spike and
Xander in horrer.  “Get your Slayer under control before things get ugly.”

The Watcher turned to face him.  “She is perfectly capable of controlling
herself.  And I don’t think she needs to be controlled.  Right now, the
only person I’m worried about is Xander.”

Great.  Giles was still caught up in might-have-beens; he was going to be
no help.  Angel looked down at Buffy.  “Back off, Buffy.  I’m not going to
let you hurt anyone here.  *Anyone*.”

“You knew,” she said accusingly.  “You knew and you didn’t tell me.”

“It wasn’t any of your business.  If Xander isn’t ready to tell you, then
that’s his choice.  His choice, Buffy.  Not mine, not yours.”


“No.  Back off.  This isn’t your business.  Do you really think I’d let
Xander get into anything that could hurt him?”

Further debate was cut off by Xander’s soft question.  “Spike?  Spike, can
you understand me?”

Angel turned and watched as his Childe’s blue eyes drifted open.  Here it
came:  moment of truth.


Xander tuned everything else out; Doyle and Angel could handle whatever
Buffy or Giles threw at them at them.  Right now the only thing that
mattered to him was Spike.  Well, Spike and not falling apart.  He could
feel himself edging toward panic.  What if the chip injured Spike when it
short-circuited?  Could vampires sustain neurological damage?  After all,
Spike had been trapped in a wheelchair for months.  Was the chip really
deactivated?  How were they going to handle Spike with no controls on him
at all?

He shoved all his worries to the back of his mind where they yammered at
him in frantic whispers.  What mattered now was making sure Spike was all
right. Everything else could wait.  His grip on the vampire’s hand
tightened as the blue eyes slowly opened.  “Spike?” he asked, uncaring of
the tremble in his voice.

Spike blinked once, twice.  His gaze gradually focused on Xander.  “Xan?”
he asked quietly.  “Xan, what’s wrong?  What happened?”

Xander moved closer to him, trying to hide how relieved he was that Spike
recognized him, that he was able to talk.  Maybe his lover hadn’t been
that badly hurt after all.  “You and Angel went after a demon.  The one
Buffy came to us about - the one that made machines not work anymore.  You
got hurt when it touched you.”  He watched Spike nod slowly, comprehension
and remembrance filling his eyes.

Spike’s gaze moved away from Xander and drifted around the room.  When it
came to Buffy, the vampire stiffened, then pushed Xander away.  “What the
hell are you doing, hanging all over me?” he asked roughly.  “I’m fine,
and I don’t need a bloody nancy-boy for a nursemaid.”

Xander stared at him for a moment before he understood.  Spike was still
pretending for Buffy and Giles.  He picked himself up off the floor and
scooted back over to Spike.  “They know,” he said quietly.  “Doyle and I
kind of let it slip when you got hurt.  We were too worried to pretend any

“They know?” Spike said.  “I’m sorry, Xan.”  He reached out a comforting
hand and took Xander’s in his own.

Xander shook his head.  Spike took his promise to protect him too
seriously - he was more worried about revealing a secret than his own
injuries.  “It’s not your fault,” he said.  “They know you are with me and
Doyle,” he added.  He really didn’t want to tell them about Angel.  Giles
and Buffy were already upset and he didn’t want to push them any farther.
“How’s your head?”

“Hurts,” Spike admitted.  “It’s getting better, but it still feels like
there’s a guy wearing cleats and playing with a flame-thrower in there.”

“Is there anything I can do?”  Xander tried to think of something that
could help.  Blood?  Would blood do any good?  Angel would know...

Spike nodded.  “Come here, pet.”

Xander moved closer.  “What do you need?”

“You,” Spike answered.  He grabbed Xander.  In a move Xander wasn’t quite
able to follow, he found himself wedged against the back of the couch,
Spike lying on top of him.  The blond man wrapped his arms around Xander’s
middle and buried his head in his neck, holding him tightly.

Xander returned the embrace fiercely, pulling Spike even closer to him.
This was what he’d come to call “Spike’s comfort position” in his head.
The vampire seemed to feel safest and most secure when he knew that
*Xander* was protected.  It had awed Xander when he’d figured it out.  As
he realized once more how much it spoke of Spike’s love for him, he
realized how close he came to losing him.  If the chip had reacted in a
more unstable way, if the demon had turned on Spike before Angel reached
him, if if if - there were a thousand ifs, each one leaving him without
Spike, without a part of his soul.  Tears welled up in his eyes and he
turned his face, hiding it against Spike’s hair. He felt himself begin to
shake a little in reaction to the near-loss.

“What’s wrong, Xan?” Spike murmured against his neck, kissing the skin
there delicately.  His hands crept inside Xander’s shirt, fingers stroking
over the small of his back in gentle motions.

“I could’ve lost you,” Xander whispered.

“Never happen,” Spike said.  “Promised never to hurt you, didn’t I?
You’re never going to lose me, love.  Never.”  His arms tightened around
Xander, pulling his so close that Xander couldn’t tell where he ended and
Spike began.

“You sound like you’re all right.”

“Worried about brain damage, were you?  I’m fine - I’ve just got history’s
worst hangover without having any fun beforehand.”

“We weren’t worried about brain damage,” Xander said, blinking away tears.
“You  have to have a brain for it to be damaged.”  It was useless, of
course - he wasn’t going to be able to laugh this off.  He blinked away
tears.  Judging by the way Spike had pulled him onto the couch, his
coordination was good. His words sounded just like him.  It seemed as
though the only thing that had been damaged was the chip.

The chip....

Dropping his voice into an even lower whisper, Xander spoke directly into
Spike’s ear.  “What about the chip?  Does it still work?”

“Only one way to find out, isn’t there?”  Spike buried his face closer
against Xander’s neck.

The brown-eyed man knew instantly what he meant.  Because of the chip,
Spike had only been able to bite him during their more intense sessions of
making love; only once Xander had completely lost his mind and was reduced
to abject begging for release could Spike bite him without the chip going
off.  Xander and Spike had figured that they both associated biting with
pleasure at that point, but only that point.  If he tried when they were
both level-headed it reacted, sending him to his knees in agony.  For that
reason, Spike had never been able to bite Doyle - the chip, or Spike, or
both, read him as human so the vampire couldn’t touch him.

Xander took a deep breath.  “Go for it.”  He felt Spike’s features shift
against his neck, brutal ridges brushing against him, sending shivers down
his back.  He stroked one hand up and down the vampire’s back in a
soothing gesture, even as he felt sharp teeth rest for a moment against
his vulnerable skin.  He closed his eyes as Spike’s fangs pierced his
neck; there was pain, but it was overwhelmed by a feeling of closeness and
connection he didn’t have words to describe.  It wasn’t the same as sex,
but he liked it.  It was another way of becoming a part of Spike, one more
thing to tie them even more closely together.  After a moment it was over;
he felt the teeth retract from his skin.  It left him feeling strangely
empty and alone and he had to fight back a groan of disappointment.  “Did
you...did it...”

“I did,” Spike said in a whisper soaked with triumphed.  “And the bloody
thing didn’t give me so much as a twinge.”

Xander felt Spike’s tongue lave his neck and he shuddered a little.
“You’re whole again,” he murmured.  He’d worry about the ramifications
later.  For right now, he was just going to share in his lover’s joy.

Something intruded in on his awareness.  It took him a moment to realize
what it was:  silence.  The yelling had stopped.  He looked up and found
that everyone else in the room was staring at him.  He knew they couldn’t
have seen the bite, couldn’t have heard him and Spike talking.  They must
be eaten alive with curiosity.  “He’s all right,” he said, sharing
relieved smiles with Angel and Doyle.  “There doesn’t appear to be any
lasting damage.”  He let his gaze wander over to meet Buffy’s.  “What?”

“That’s my question,” she countered.  “What are you thinking?  *Are* you
thinking?  How did this happen?  That’s Spike!”

“I know it’s Spike,” he said, not ceasing the soothing strokes of his
hand. “It’s a long story, Buffy.”

“I’m not going anywhere, and I’m dying to hear it.”

He licked his lips.  “You remember the lust-demon that was wreaking havoc
on Greek Street?”

“The Lrkantishnt?” Giles asked.

“That sounds about right.  When I said that I was all right after fighting
it, I lied.  It managed to scratch up one of my arms.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Giles demanded.

“You told me there wasn’t anything that could be done.”  He looked over at
Buffy, who clearly had no idea what the big deal was.  “Getting scratched
basically intensified the demon’s effects, Buffy.  You end up with this
unstoppable need for sex, until you die a short time later from either a
fever or wearing yourself out.  I thought that I was a goner, so I decided
not to wait for the effects to kill me.  I didn’t want to die like that.
I headed out for...it doesn’t matter where.  I decided to kill myself, get
it over with sooner rather than later.”

“Xander!”  Giles and Buffy both looked horrified.

“It was the best I could come up with.  I ran into Spike on the way,
though, and he wouldn’t let me go through with it.  He stopped me and
brought me here to LA so that maybe Angel could help me.  He was right -
Doyle and Angel managed to find a cure, a ritual that cured me and freed
me from the effects. That’s how I met Doyle.  But Spike was there in the
beginning, and it was Spike that I started to fall in love with first.”
He turned his head and laid a gentle kiss on top of Spike’s head.  “I love
him, Buffy.  As much as I love Doyle.  As much as both of them love me.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Giles asked.  “We had no idea you were in such
great trouble.”

“You never noticed.”  Xander fought to keep his voice level.  “None of you
noticed that I disappeared for a few days.  By the time I came back to
Sunnydale, all I wanted was to grab my things and come back here.
Dropping the bomb of moving to LA was bad enough.  I wasn’t up to telling
you that I’d fallen in love with one of you’re arch-rivals.”

Buffy shook her head and glared at Angel.  “I can’t believe you didn’t
tell me.”  She turned on Doyle.  “And you!  You claim that you love
Xander, and yet you’re just standing there while the Big Bad cuddles up to
him!  Do you care at all?”

Hadn’t he just explained that?  Xander sighed, suddenly very tired.  He
just wanted Buffy and Giles to go home so he could go to bed and in some
serious cuddle time with his lovers.  He didn’t want to have to watch
Angel protect Doyle from Buffy’s belated over-protectiveness.  He knew the
Slayer thought she was protecting him, but she was wrong.  All she was
doing was hurting Spike and Doyle and Angel, the three people he trusted
never to hurt him. Chewing on his lower lip, holding Spike close, he watch
as Doyle squared off with Buffy.


OK.  So what if she was the Slayer, killer of vampires and defeater of
evil prophecies?  So what if she had faced down more terror and
slaughtered more demons than he’d encountered in his entire life?  He
wasn’t going to back down.  He had his street smarts.  He had his courage.

Hopefully he had Angel to cover his ass, too.

He watched Buffy unsubtlely heft her stake again.  “Don’t you dare presume
to tell me how I feel about Xander, or Spike, or *anyone*.  I love both of
them and I would never do anything to hurt them.  You don’t know me and
I’m not sure that you ever knew them.”

She glared at him, but he refused to back down.  He didn’t really want to
get into a fight with her, but he wasn’t going to let her hurt Xander or
Spike. It didn’t matter if she was threatening to hurt them physically or
hurting them with her words.  He wasn’t going to let it happen.  What he’d
found with them, with all of them, was too rare and precious not to fight
for or defend. It had taken extreme circumstances to bring them together:
Xander getting hurt; Spike finding him before he could commit suicide;
Xander accepting all their help; finding a cure; and then all of them
falling in love.  He still found himself wondering if he was living in a
dream and was always relieved to find out that it was real.

“Just get out of my way,” Buffy said.  “Xander is going to come with me
and Giles to our hotel.  I want to talk to him when he isn’t surround by
all of you.”  Her thoughts were clear:  she thought Xander was somehow
being influenced, brainwashed, by them.  She thought that if she got him
away from them, he’d come to his senses and agree to return to Sunnydale
with her, forgetting all about them.

“Xander doesn’t want to go with you.”

“We’ll see about that,” she countered, reaching out to shove him out of
her way.

She never touched him.  Before her hand could connect, Angel was there
between them, grabbing her wrist and blocking the blow.  “Don’t do this,”
he said.


“Don’t,” he repeated.  “I’m not going to let you take Xander anywhere.  He
doesn’t want to go anywhere.”

“That’s right,” Xander said, still wrapped up in Spike’s arms.  “Buffy,
I’m not under any kind of control here.  No freaky mind tricks.  I’m just
in love.”

“Excuse me for not believing that,” she snapped.  “You’re snuggling with a
vampire that’s tried to kill you more than once.  Does that sound sane?”

“Since when does love make sense?” Xander shot back.

Doyle smiled at him, encouraged by the way he was standing up to her, the
way he was refusing to back down.  Xander had grown up a lot since moving
to LA and this was just one more sign of it.

“Buffy,” Giles said in an interceding tone, “let’s just take a moment to
calm down.  There’s no need to resort to violence.”

Doyle didn’t want to agree with anything the Watcher said, but he had to
admit he was right.  There wasn’t any need to resort to violence.

But if Angel wanted to kick her ass, Doyle wouldn’t object.

“They’re still standing in my way,” she said, wrenching her arm out of
Angels grasp.  “I’d say there’s every need for violence.

“Did you say violence, Slayer?” Spike asked, slowly unwinding himself from
around Xander.  “Count me in.”

There was a blur of motion, so fast Doyle couldn’t track it with his eyes.
One moment Spike was sitting up and pressing Xander back onto the couch
and the next-

The next he was holding Buffy up off the ground by a single hand wrapped
around her throat.  Head cocked to one side, he smirked up at her as she
clawed at his wrist.  “If you want violence, I can give you violence.”  He
tightened his grip as thick choking noises bubbled up from the Slayer.

Doyle wasn’t sure what to do; like everyone else, he was frozen as he
watched in horrified fascination.  He’d gotten used to the idea that Spike
couldn’t hurt humans.  The vampire looked immensely pleased with himself
and utterly in his element as he choked the life out of the Slayer, an
expression of inhuman glee twisting his features.

The half-demon could feel the situation reach the point of becoming
irretrievable.  Spike would try to kill Buffy, Giles would step in, Angel
would get involved, and things would spiral down so far out of control
that there would be no hope redeeming the situation.  He could feel it,
and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

Then a quiet voice ended it with four simple words.  “Put her down.
Please.” Xander didn’t even raise his voice.

Spike shrugged, and then with a single powerful move he casually tossed
Buffy across the room.  She landed hard, rolling a few times before
slamming into the wall.  He watched her warily, but made no move to go
after her.  He cast a casual glare over at Giles.  “Just say where you
are, Watcher.  You’re on thin ice with me as it is.”  He looked calmer,
ready and waiting while a smile played on his lips.  He looked dangerous.

And sexy as hell.

She scrambled to her feet, rubbing at her throat even as Giles hurried to
her side.  “You’re dust,” she rasped out.

“No.  You’re leaving.”  Xander stood up and walked toward them.

Doyle immediately fell back and stood in front of him, stopping him from
coming any closer.  The dark-eyed man could glare at him all he wanted:
there was no way Doyle was going to let Xander get caught in the middle of
a fight. He was the most breakable of all of them.  It upset Doyle every
time Xander so much as got a paper cut, and he knew Angel would willing
bleed for him if he could.  Spike would bleed for him and set the
offending piece of paper on fire.

Doyle stood beside Xander and took his hand in his own.  “No closer,” he
said quietly.

Xander sighed but stopped trying to move forward.  He squeezed Doyle’s
hand and looked at the others.  He smiled minutely at Angel and looked
sternly at Spike.  “Try to behave.”

“She started it.”  Spike sounded petulant.

Doyle wondered at the marvel that was the male being:  even though he was
angry as hell at the Slayer and scared shitless at the prospect of a fight
with her, his brain still allotted room for a voice to note that even
while pouting, Spike was still one of the sexiest men he’d ever seen.

Xander ignored the jibe and looked over at Buffy, who was still being
restrained by Giles.  “Buffy, you’re going to your hotel now.  Call
tomorrow. Don’t just come over.  Let’s give ourselves time to calm down,
all right? That demon is still out there, and we need to work together to
take it down.” His voice was low, controlled.

“The chip’s been deactivated,” she protested.  “He can hurt you know.
Come with us.”

“Spike won’t hurt me.”  Doyle had to repress a grin as Spike practically
preened in the confidence Xander put in him.  “None-neither of them will.”
Then it was Doyle’s turn to preen.  “He isn’t going to hurt you, either.”

“Right,” she scoffed.

“Spike, don’t kill Buffy.  Please.”  Xander looked seriously over at

The blond vampire scowled, but he nodded.  “What if she comes at me with a

“Then run away.  Don’t kill her.  Don’t kill my friends.”

“Fine, Xan.  I won’t kill the Slayer or the Scoobies.”

Doyle found he rather enjoyed the look of absolute shock and disbelief on
Buffy’s face.

“Xander, you can’t possibly believe him,” she protested.

“Spike would stake himself before lying to Xander or hurting him,” Doyle

“Yeah?  Then why is it you won’t let him get too close to Spike now that
the chip is no more?” she demanded.

“I’m not keeping him away from Spike.  I’m keeping him away from *you*.  I
know Spike won’t hurt him; I don’t have anywhere near as much faith in

“I’m his friend!”

“You know, I think you actually believe that,” he said in a pitying tone.

Xander’s hand clamped down hard on his.  “Enough.”  He turned his
attention to Buffy and Giles.  “Go.  Call tomorrow, all right?”

Buffy started to respond, but subsided when Giles touched her arm.  She
shook her head, refusing to answer.

Giles did it for her.  “We’ll call,” he promised.  He led Buffy out of the

Left alone at last, all eyes turned to Spike.


The sudden silence in the wake of Buffy and Giles’s departure ringing in
his ears, Spike was acutely aware of his lovers staring at him.  For a
moment he was frozen under the weight of their gazes and the questions
within them.

He didn’t have any answers.  The headache that had been ripping his skull
apart was fast disappearing, for which he was grateful, but now he had
attention to devote to thinking instead of concentrating on the pain.  His
chip was gone.  He was free, free to be the Big Bad again.  What was this
going to mean for him?  How were his lovers going to react?

With the ease of long practice, he pushed his concerns to the side in
favor of focusing on what was really important to him.  He turned and
found Xander, his gaze drawn to the collar of the younger man’s shirt.
The collar that just barely hid the twin puncture marks that marred the
smooth skin.

Claiming marks that Spike had finally placed there.

He crossed the room with vampiric speed and caught Xander up in his arms,
pulling him roughly up against his chest.  Warm hands clutched at the
shirt covering his back, but Xander didn’t resist and no scent of fear
arose from him.  Spike captured his mouth with his own, abruptly pushing
his tongue into the other man’s mouth, claiming the warm cavern for his

The taste of worry and sorrow, fading but still there, made him pull back.
“What’s wrong, love?”

Xander stared up at him with dilated eyes.  “Besides the whole show-down
with one of my best friends?”

“You’ll patch things up with the Slayer,” he said.  “Just give the Watcher
time to pull her head out of her ass.”  He bent down and licked at
slightly swollen lips.  “What else?”

Xander ducked his head and looked away.  “The chip.  If it’s gone, does
that mean you’ll...”  His voice trailed away.

Spike tightened his embrace.  “Will I what?  Leave?  Never.  I’m never
leaving you, any of you.  Start killing again?”  He waited for Xander to
meet his eyes.  “I’m sure I can go out and find some fuckers who deserve
it.  I won’t start dining on the general population.”  He couldn’t believe
what he was saying.  He was promising to forgo his beloved Happy Meals on
legs for these men who loved who loved him, for this man in his arms who
stared up at him with shining eyes.

These men who would belong to him by the time this night was over.

Spike slid his hands down Xander’s back, reaching down until he cupped his
ass.  With preternatural strength he pulled the other man up off the
floor. Xander’s legs wrapped around his waist and his arms looped around
his neck, Spike carried him to the bedroom, knowing that Angel and Doyle
were following close behind.

He laid Xander down on the bed and blanketed his body with his own.  He
tore at the clothing covering his lover, ripping it to rags even as Xander
squirmed and protested beneath him.  “Have to make you mine, Xan,” he
muttered between wet, desperate kisses.  “Have to claim you.”  He really
couldn’t explain any more; the drive within him was too powerful, too
demanding for him to hold back any longer.

The bed dipped on either side of him and he felt Angel’s hands on his
shoulders, tearing away his shirt even as Doyle worked at the fastenings
to his pants.  He appreciated their help.

He’d show them how much just as soon as he was finished with Xander.

Finally skin to skin, he pinned Xander down to the mattress.  For a moment
he hovered above him, staring down at the flushed features and tousled
hair of his lover, his love.  When he first met Xander he never would have
believed they’d ever be at this point, and now he didn’t want to imagine
any other future.  He placed a gentle kiss on Xander’s forehead.  “I love
you, Xan.  I’m going to make you mine, forever.”  He glanced at Angel and
Doyle, who had moved together.  “Going to make you all mine.”

“Good,” Xander said.  “It’s only fair, since you’re mine.  Ours.”

Spike grinned down at him for a moment, then need and want and love were
crashing through him and there was no time for smiling.  He lowered his
head and licked his way down Xander’s jaw, pausing to swirl his tongue
around the shell of his ear, then made his way down his throat with a
serious of voracious sucking kisses.

Xander’s hands crept up to cradle his head, fingers twining in his hair.
Spike allowed himself to be guided down further to one of the mortal’s
weakest spots.  He circled one of his nipples with his tongue, teasing the
small nub with fleeting touches even as his fingers played with the other
roughly. Beneath him, Xander bucked and writhed as Spike switched from one
nipple to the other.  He loved how quickly Xander lost control when he did
this, how anything done to his nipples completely overwhelmed the other
man.  One day he was going to convince Xander to get them pierced - he
could show him so much, make him lose control completely then.  As he
toyed with Xander, rendering him insensible with pleasure, his other hand
was busy, preparing his lover with lube supplied by Angel.

He chased the sweat beading up on the heated skin, lapping it up as it
pooled in the hollow of Xander’s throat.  He could taste lust and want and
love beneath the salt; more, he could feel the blood thrumming through
Xander’s veins beneath the skin, teasing him, making him harder than

He positioned himself at Xander’s entrance, gaze locked on his lover’s.

Panting heavily, Xander nodded.  “Forever,” he promised.

With a howl, Spike thrust hard into him, freed from worry about the chip’s
reaction.  At the same time, he sank his teeth into Xander’s throat.  Warm
blood surged into his mouth, filling him with the taste of love and
Xander. He forced his teeth in deeper, knowing that his scent was
permeating his lover, marking him as his, warning off all others.

He was claiming Xander for the entire world to know.

Beneath him, Xander cried out and arched up, driving himself to meet
Spike’s thrusts with urgent force.  Nonsense words poured from his mouth,
but the pleading in them was clear.  Spike obliged him, thrusting harder,

He withdrew his fangs from Xander’s neck, not wanting to take too much
blood from him.  He laved at the puncture marks, lapping up the blood that
oozed sluggishly from them.  He could taste himself on the blood now,
mixed in with the utterly delicious flavor of Xander himself:  the other
man was finally his.

That thought was enough to push Spike over the edge.  He snaked a hand
down between them and wrapped his fingers around Xander’s hard length,
drawing his release from him with a few powerful strokes.  As Xander
screamed his completion, Spike joined him, spilling himself deep within
his lover.  He sank down on top of the sweaty flesh, hands roaming
possessively over the still body.  “Mine.”

Xander mumbled in reply, too exhausted to do more.  Spike grinned and
kissed him gently.  “Love you, Xander,” he said.  “Now sleep.”  He stroked
his hand over the damp dark hair, then turned look at Doyle and Angel.

The two other men were entwined together, limbs tangled as they kissed
feverishly.  Doyle was trying to thrust against Angel, trying to find much
needed friction to bring himself off.  The larger man was holding him
still, not allowing him to do so.  Angel knew what Spike was feeling, what
he wanted to do, and he was helping by not letting Doyle finish anything
before Spike had a chance to get to him.

Spike shared a heated glance with his Sire, one filled with gratitude and
understanding.  Then he was trading places with Angel, allowing the other
vampire to wrap himself around Xander while he pounced on Doyle.  He sank
his fingers into the short dark hair, angling the other man’s head so he
could explore his mouth, tongue chasing hints of non-human taste around in
the moist heat.

Beneath him, Doyle thrust up against him raggedly, moaning into Spike’s
mouth as his hands roamed over his back.  The feel of his warmth,  the
scent of his need made Spike hard all over again, ready and aching to
claim this man as well and bind them together just as he had done with

He roughly jerked his mouth way, reluctant to abandon the intriguing
tastes hidden there.  He stared down at Doyle, close enough so that he
could feel his lover’s panted breaths against his lips.  “You too, Doyle,”
he said.  “I want to claim you, too.”  He could see mixed emotions rise up
in the clear green eyes:  love and lust and fear were the strongest there.
 He’d never bitten Doyle; Xander and Angel were the only ones that he’d
ever been able to do that with, and then only rarely.  Doyle’s hesitation
was understandable, but Spike wanted him, needed to be a part of him.

Doyle shook his head.  “I don’t want you to own me,” he said quietly.
“And I’m not so sure I want to be bitten.  I’m not into pain.”

Spike growled impatiently.  He wanted Doyle, wanted him so badly he could
taste his blood, could feel his flesh parting beneath his fangs to fill
his mouth with that unique half-human tang.  He bent his head toward
Doyle’s neck, but the green-eyed man pushed him away.  Spike growled
louder, and Doyle growled right back at him.

And was cut off by a sleepy murmur.  “Don’t.”  Xander stared at him from
the circle of Angel’s arms.  “If he doesn’t want you to bite him, then you
can’t, Spike.”

“I love him,” Spike protested.

“And he loves you, but you can’t do this if he doesn’t want you to.”
Xander reached out one hand and stroked it over Spike’s cheek.  “You

Spike nodded wordlessly and dropped his gaze to the mattress.  He couldn’t
force Doyle into anything.  He loved him too much to do that, no matter
how much he wanted to claim the other man.

Xander’s hand left him and he watched as it moved to brush over Doyle’s
hair. “It’s not about ownership, you know,” the young man said quietly.
“It’s about being a part of you.  He wants to connect to you in a way that
nothing can destroy.”

Spike stared at him.  He didn’t know how Xander knew all that, but he was
right.  He felt a hand on his face and looked down into Doyle’s eyes.

“Is that what you want?” Doyle asked quietly.  “To be a part of me?  This
isn’t some sort of freaky vampire dominance thing?”

“No,” Xander answered for him.  “It’s just a freaky Spike thing, and it’s
all about love.  Love him, Doyle.  Let him do it.”

Doyle continued to stare up at Spike.  He took a deep breath and nodded
slowly.  “You, a part of me forever?  I think I can handle that.  Just so
long as I don’t have to call you master.”

“Only on alternate Thursdays,” Spike said softly, smiling down at him
gratefully.  He moved his mouth back over Doyle’s, reestablishing the heat
and desire that had been between them before.  Soon they were thrusting
against each other with rising urgency.  Spike reached down to prepare
Doyle and found that he was slick and ready for him - one more thing to
thank Angel for.  When the fire between them was as hot as it had been
before, hotter, then Spike lowered his face to the pale neck below him
even as he buried himself within Doyle.  He laved the hot skin with his
tongue, relishing the shivers that rocked the body beneath his.  He
detoured his attention up to Doyle’s ear long enough to nip the lobe and
whisper “Forever” in a hot puff of air.  Then he was back at his throat,
teeth sinking into firm flesh.  The blood that filled his mouth tasted of
Doyle:  wild and free and not quite human.  His fangs slid in deeper,
marking Doyle as his, his forever as much as Xander was.

Beneath him, Doyle arched up against him, gasping out words of love and
need as he met Spike’s every thrust.  His hands scrabbled over the
vampire’s back, tracing lines of fire where the nails scored the skin.
Spike pumped his hips again and again, increasing his pace as he slowly
withdrew his teeth and set himself to licking Doyle’s neck clean.  Tongue
painting wet stripes in time with his ever increasing thrusts, he soon
felt Doyle shudder beneath him, wailing out his completion and pulling
Spike’s from him.

Spike had no chance to kiss Doyle, to share in any closeness with him - he
was knocked over, off the other man and onto his back even as he leaned
down toward warm panting lips.  Before he could protest or ask Angel what
the hell he thought he was doing, a cool tongue forced its way into his
mouth, sweeping about it with determination and purpose.  In a burst of
realization, Spike understood what his Sire was doing:  stealing away the
remaining traces of Doyle’s blood that remained in his mouth.  Angel
wouldn’t bite Xander or Doyle, and only rarely indulged Spike like that:
he just didn’t trust himself to do it.  Spike opened his mouth wider,
allowing Angel full access.

Angel pulled away with a ragged sigh.  “Both of them,” he murmured,
kissing his way across Spike’s face to whisper in his ear.  “I can taste
both of them.”

Spike spared a glance for his other lovers.  Doyle was sprawled across
Xander, and the younger man was holding him tightly.  Both were watching
the vampires with love and want and understanding in their eyes.  He
smirked at them briefly before turning his attention to Angel.

First he turned his attention, then he turned the tables, maneuvering the
larger man so that Spike was kneeling astride him.  “This is my night,
Peaches,” he said, staring down at his Sire.  “My way.”

Angel stared up at him, then nodded.  “Don’t keep me waiting.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, love.”  Spike leaned down and kissed him, feeling
his face slide into his vampiric visage as he did so.  Angel’s face grew
ridged beside his and the kiss became violent as fangs sliced into the
delicate skin of lips and cheeks.  Their coupling was every bit as
desperate as his earlier pairings with Xander and Doyle, but had the added
elements of long tradition and passion added to it.  They had come
together a thousand times like this, losing themselves in the want and the
need and the sex and the blood, tearing at each other and themselves in an
effort to claim and bind and own.  This time they did so with open love,
and as Spike sank into Angel’s body he knew their joining had never been
so sweet, never been so alive.  Tired and near exhaustion, the passion
still surprised him with how quickly it flared into open flames within
him, his orgasm catching him unprepared.  Howling, he palmed Angel’s
hardness and coaxed his Sire’s release, relishing the cold liquid that
bathed him as Angel shouted beneath him.

Sinking down onto the mattress, Spike felt warm arms close about him from
one side, even as a cool body pressed up against his back.  Tied together
by love and sweat and come and blood and claiming, Spike drifted off to
sleep with his lovers, all else forgotten except for the love that bound


Willow reached over Tara’s sleeping body to grab the phone.  Casting a
slightly jealous glance at her sleep-through-anything girlfriend, she
lifted the headset to her ear.  “Hello?”

//Willow, I need you.//

“Buffy?  Where are you?  Are you hurt?  I can be over at your house in a
few minutes-”

//I’m still in LA.  Look, I don’t have time to explain.  Giles will be out
of the shower at any minute, and he doesn’t want me to drag you into this,
but you need to get here.  Now.//


//Water just went off.  Get here as soon as you can, Willow.  Please.//

“Buffy, I don’t even know where you’re staying-”  It was too late; the
connection was broken.  Willow stared at the phone for a moment, then
sighed. She gently shook Tara awake.  “C’mon, sleepy head.”

“Willow?”  Tara’s yawn drew out her name into several syllables.  “What’s

“I just got a call from Buffy.  She needs us in LA.”

“How soon?”

“I’m not sure.  She really didn’t explain.”  Willow thought back over the
conversation.  Buffy had said Giles didn’t want them there, so the problem
couldn’t be that serious.  There was no need to leave right away; they
needed to pack and neither of them were awake enough to make the drive.
“I’m going to call Riley and have him meet us in the morning.  We’ll drive
up first thing.”


Angel stared sightlessly up at the ceiling, arms locked tightly around the
warm body in his arms.  He didn’t want to do this, didn’t want to waste
time brooding about the future when there was so much else to be doing.
Demons to kill, Oracles to serve, lovers to ravish...so many other things
to do, but he was caught in an endless circle of dark thoughts and worry:
what if Spike couldn’t or wouldn’t restrain himself?  What if Buffy hurt
Spike or Doyle or Xander?  What if the demon hurt one of his lovers?  What
if...it never ended.

Not even the warm weight blanketing his chest was enough to distract him.
He appreciated the feel of his lover’s naked skin so soft against his own
and drew comfort from it, but he still found himself trapped by his

Something soft struck him in the face and fell to the mattress.  Blinking,
Angel turned his head and looked over at the other two men in the bed -
just in time to be hit by another object.  This time he could see what it
was:  a balled up scrap of Xander’s shirt, the one that Spike had utterly
destroyed earlier in the evening.  Cocking one eyebrow, he stared at
Xander, wordlessly asking him just what the hell he was doing.

Lying on his side with Spike spooned up behind him, Xander shook his head
a little and grinned.  He balled up another scrap of material and tossed
it and Angel, nailing him in the nose.  “Stop it,” he said quietly.

“Stop it?” Angel objected.  “I haven’t done anything.  You’re the one
throwing things.”  He glared fondly at the younger man, noting the way
Xander was completely at ease, even with Spike’s face buried in his neck.
He didn’t seem concerned at all about the possibility of Spike hurting
him, but then, Xander didn’t have to worry, did he?  Spike loved him - it
was everyone else in the city who had to watch out.

Another balled up rag bounced off his forehead, and he forced more heat
into his glare.  “Stop that.”

“You first.”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“Yes, you are,” Xander said.  “You’re lying over there, and instead of
thinking happy naked thoughts about Doyle, or better yet, happy naked
thought about me, you’re brooding about Spike.”

Angel didn’t bother to deny it.  His lovers were getting better and better
at reading him.  “I can’t help it,” he admitted.

“Yes, you can.”  One of Xander’s hands drifted down to cover Spike’s,
which were folded over his stomach.  “Spike isn’t going to begin
transforming the locals into his own personal smorgasbord.  He knows if he
does that he’d lose us, and he’d never do anything that could jeopardize
what he’s found with us.”

Angel wanted to believe what Xander said, but he wasn’t sure.  The drive
to hunt, to chase down prey and drink deeply from gushing wounds gouged
into soft flesh, tasting life and fear and death...it was strong.  He
still felt it pulling at him, even with the restraints his soul placed on
him.  How would Spike be able to resist with the restraint of the chip

He watched as Spike’s hands began to wander over Xander’s body, sweeping
over the tanned skin in lazy strokes.  Blue eyes opened and pinned him
with a sharp stare.  “Listen to him, Peaches.”  His tongue crept out to
lave Xander’s earlobe, and the dark-haired man arched back against him.
“He’s right.  I don’t want to lose any of you, and I know as soon as I
start snacking down on the humans I will.  That’s all I need to get me to
keep my fangs off.”

“Don’t you mean hands off?” Xander asked, pressing back against Spike as
the vampire’s hands continued to wander over his body.

“No.  Just because I’m not going to bite them doesn’t mean I’m not going
to touch them.”  He pulled Xander back against him hard, arms locked tight
around him.  “With the sodding chip gone, I can protect you from the
humans, too, like I couldn’t before.”  He turned Xander around and claimed
his mouth, looking as though he was trying to swallow the mortal whole.

Angel nodded slowly as he watched them, finally believing Spike.  He
didn’t want to lose Spike - didn’t want to lose any of them - and the
destruction of the chip put that in jeopardy.  He wouldn’t have been able
to just stand by and let Spike feed on humans...he hoped.  A part of him
was terrified that he would stand by, that he’d ignore murder for the sake
of holding onto Spike.  That was what had sent him into a brooding
silence:  the fact that he didn’t know if he’d be able to give Spike up if
Spike didn’t resisted the siren call of living blood.  He was incredibly
grateful that his Childe wasn’t going to make him find out what his choice
would have been.

As he watched Xander and Spike writhe against each other, he tightened his
own hold on Doyle, fitting the warm body even closer against his own.  The
warm body that was apparently waking up, judging by the feel of things.
He looked up and found sleepy green eyes smiling down at him.

“Feeling better?” Doyle asked, beginning to rock gently against him.

“How long have you been awake?” Angel countered, sliding his hands down to
rest on Doyle’s ass, even as he began to thrust up against the other man.

“Long enough to know we’ve got reason to celebrate.”  Doyle’s fingers
caught Angel’s hair, angling his head to give the half-demon better access
to his mouth.

Warm, hairy body gliding over his skin, warm, agile tongue dominating his
mouth:  Angel was in heaven.  Well, almost; he increased the force and
speed of his thrusts.  It was sweet and fast and perfect.  He came
swallowing Doyle’s moans, tasting love on every exhaled breath.

Angel luxuriated in the feeling of Doyle melting over his chest, the
feeling of their mingled seed on his belly, the heavy weight and scent of
his lover. They exchanged gentle kisses, caresses of comfort and love.  Angel
watched as Doyle turned his head to check on the other two.  Seeing the green-eyes
crinkle as he smiled, he turned to look as well.

Spike was on top of Xander, wrapped around him and pinning him to the
mattress.  The dark-haired man had an expression of amused irritation on
his face.  “Spike,” he said quietly, “I have to get up.  We all have to
get up and do some research on the demon.  Do you remember the demon?”

Spike ignored him, closing his eyes and relaxing bonelessly on top of him.
 “Tearing its head off should do it, love,” he said comfortably.

“Spike!”  Xander pushed futilely against Spike, failing utterly to move
him at all.  He turned his head and looked appealingly at Angel.  “We’ve
got to get working on this demon.  Not just how to kill it, but where
we’re going to find it, and what’s wrong with it.”  His eyes narrowed in
calculation.  “The sooner we get done with the demon, the sooner we can
get Buffy out of town.”

Angel shook his head as Doyle scrambled off of his chest.  Between Spike
and Doyle, the levels of hostility toward Buffy and Sunnydale in general
were maintained at a steady high.  His one visit to Sunnydale had
permanently soured him on the town and everyone in it.

The vampire climbed out of the bed.  He wanted to get this over with,
himself.  The sooner Buffy and Giles went home, the sooner things would
get back to normal.

Well, as normal as things ever got for them.

He walked over to the other side of the bed, grabbed Spike by the back of
the neck and lifted.  He ignored the blond man’s snarling and dropped him,
watching as he landed on his feet.  “Stop it.  Let Xander get up.  We’ve
got things to do.”

Spike sulked out of the bedroom.  Angel knew he was probably going to
molest Doyle in the shower.  He’d chase them out before they used all the
hot water.  That in mind, he stared down at Xander.  “How are you doing?”

One hand scrubbing through his hair, Xander sat up.  “I think I’m OK.  I
just want to get things over with, you know?”

Angel nodded.  He did know.  He reached out a hand and pulled Xander to
his feet, careful as always when touching the other man, aware of how
fragile he was, how *human*.  He pulled Xander close, smelling love and
sex and warmth on his skin.  Lowering his head, he shared a sweet kiss
with him, gently exploring the other man’s mouth as if for the first time,
reestablishing their connection.

As they drew apart, Xander smiled up at him with heavy-lidded eyes.  “Then
again, there’s something to be said for getting back into bed.”

Angel laughed and pulled him out of the bedroom.  “No, you don’t.  We’ve
got demons to kill and friends to face.  We’ll back in the bed as soon as
we’re done.”

After they all managed to take showers with a minimum of fooling around,
they headed to the living room, where Angel and Spike worked on reading
through books while Xander used the downstairs computer to search the net.
 Doyle picked up the phone and tried calling contacts he had around the

In the hours that followedm Angel found himself distracted from his own
reading by Spike.  He’d grown used to *Spike*, grown to love him;
sometimes he forgot that William had ever existed, forgot the quiet
bookish man Dru had helped him seduce more than a century ago.  Spike
never talked about the mortal he had been, but sometimes signs of William
still surfaced, just like now:  Spike was skimming effortlessly through
books he’d never before encountered.

Feeling the weight of his gaze, Spike looked up.  “What?”

“Nothing,” Angel said.  He knew Spiked didn’t like to talk about who he
had been and he wasn’t going to bring it up.  “Have you found anything?”

“Matter of fact, I have.  Seems your long-lost playmate can be taken out
with the use of a silver blade.  Silver will cut right through its hide,
like a hot knife through butter.”

“Ew,” Xander said, looking at them over the monitor.  “What have I told
you about food analogies not being of the good?”

“I’m still the Big Bad, pet.”

“Skinny Petty’s more like it,” Xander muttered.

“What was that?”  Spike put the book aside and stood up, flexing his arms.
 “Did you say something?”  He was distracted from moving in on Xander by
the sound of the elevator coming to life.

Angel stood up.  He wasn’t sure who it was, but he was going to be ready
for anything.  He felt himself tensing; they weren’t expecting anyone,
unless it was...

“Hello?  Where is everyone?  Just because half of you are flammable in
sunlight doesn’t mean you get to goof off.  There’s work to be done.  Just
stay away from the windows.”

...Cordelia.  “We’re in the living room,” he called.

She walked in, perfectly manicured nails tossing her hair back over her
shoulder.  “How’d it go last night?  Did you find the demon and send it
packing?  Where are Buffy and Giles?”

Angel hesitated, then gestured toward a chair.  “Why don’t you sit down?”

She crossed her arms over her chest and cocked her head took the side.
“Why don’t you just tell me what happened?”

“The demon’s still at large, Buffy and Giles will be coming back later
tonight either to help us kill it or attempt to kill us, but we figured
out how to kill the demon and we’re tracking it down now.”  Xander said.
He then added very quickly, “And Spike’s chip doesn’t work anymore.”

Cordelia blinked.  “The short version isn’t going to cut it, guys,” she
said after a moment.  “I need answers.  What did you do to set Buffy off?
And why isn’t Spike now residing in an ashtray?”

Angel forced the growl rising in his chest back down.  No one threatened
one of his lovers.  “Buffy found out about Spike.”

“That would do it.  But if he’s been de-neutered, than why is he still
walking around?”

“Nothing is going to happen to Spike.  Nothing’s changed, Cordelia.  He’s
still a part of us, he’s still living here.”  He turned to stare at Spike.
 “He’s still not going to bite you or anyone else.”

“Unless they ask me to,” Spike supplemented.

Angel glared him into silence, then looked back over at Cordelia.

“Fine,” she said.  “I can handle this.  But you do realize that this is
going to mean a significant raise in my salary.”

“We’ll talk about it.”  Angel sighed and sat back down.  “Maybe we should
tell them everything.”

“Tell them about you?” Doyle asked, hanging up the phone.  “Do you really
think that’s a good idea?  I mean, can you handle a pissed off Slayer and
a demon at the same time?”

“Hey,” Xander said, objecting quietly.  “Buffy’s a pro.  She’d kill the
demon, and *then* kick Angel’s ass.”

“We’ll have a chance to find out,” the Irishman said, pointing at the
phone.  “I just found our wayward demon.  It’s lurking in the park, still.  It’s
holed up in one of the more inaccessible caves - the one that overlooks the

Xander nodded.  “I know where that one is.  We can take it out tonight.”

Any more planning was cut off by the sound of the doorbell.  “Clients!”
Cordelia said, heading for the elevator.  “Doyle, Angel, get your Irish
asses up here.”

“Why do we have to go?” Angel asked, following in her wake.

“It is your name on the stationary, isn’t?” Doyle countered.

Angel really didn’t want a client.  Money was good, but he had a rather
full plate right then.  The voices he could hear at the office door tugged
at his memory, warning him that whoever it was, they weren’t ordinary

Cordelia opened the door.  After a moment of stunned silence, she shrieked
in joy.  “Willow!  What are you doing here?”  She dragged the red-haired
girl inside.  Behind her, a blond girl and a tall young man trailed along
through the doorway.  Tara and Riley.

“Looks like the gang’s all here,” Doyle muttered beside him.

Angel had to agree.  The Scooby Gang were all together, and all in his

Willow smiled at Cordelia.  “Hey, Cordelia.  Buffy called us and said that
she needed us.  She didn’t really explain what for, and she hung up before
I could find out where she’s staying.  We came up here hoping maybe you
knew where she was.”  She looked past Cordelia.  “Hey, Angel.  Hey...you!”
 She pointed at Doyle.  “You’re Xander’s boyfriend!”

Doyle crossed his arms over his chest.  “My name’s Doyle.  And yeah, I

“Is Xander here?” she asked, eyes widening and filling with hope.

Slightly deflated by the lack of insults, Doyle nodded.  “He’s

“Can we see him?  It’s been forever since I’ve gotten to talk to him face
to face.”  Her expression brightened.  “Hey!  Maybe, once we take care of
whatever Buffy needs help with, we can all go out to dinner or something.
That way I can talk to him and talk to you and get to know you and make
sure he’s ok.”  She cut herself off as Tara took her hand and squeezed

Angel smiled.  Willow would never change, not in any way that really
mattered.  “How did Buffy get through to you?  I thought the phone lines
were down in Sunnydale.”

“That’s the funny thing about Sunnydale,” Tara said softly.  “Most people
have no idea what really goes on there, but the authorities have gotten
really efficient at cleaning up the mess that get left behind.”

“Enough questions,” Cordelia said.  “I know Xander would like to see you.
Let’s go downstairs and raid Angel’s fridge.”  She led the way to the

Angel and Doyle trailed along behind the Scooby Gang.  Things were going
to be awkward, but Angel knew Xander wanted to see Willow, and would like
to have the chance to be honest with his oldest friend.  The ride down was
tense, as short as it was:  Riley was clearly uncomfortable, and Tara
wasn’t quite sure how to act around any of them.  The vampire found
himself looking forward to the moment the door opened.

That stopped the moment the door actually opened.  Angel was frozen by the
same shock as everyone else as he took in the sight awaiting them.

Xander was still sitting in the chair by the computer, but now he had
Spike straddling his lap, sitting so that they were facing each other.
Xander’s fingers were twisted in Spike’s hair, holding his head still as
Xander fed from his mouth.  Spike’s hands trembled on Xander’s shoulders
he rocked against the seated man.  One of Xander’s hands left Spike’s hair
and stroked roughly down his back, reaching down to grab his ass and knead
the denim-covered flesh.

“No sex!” Cordelia shouted, raising her hands to cover her eyes.  “No sex
in front of me!”

Spike and Xander pulled apart and turned to look at her.  “That rule only
applies in the office,” Xander said.  His voice trailed off as he caught
sight of the people behind Cordelia.  “Willow?”  He stood up quickly,
almost dropping Spike to the floor.  He grabbed his lover and helped to
steady him on his feet.  “What are you doing here?”

“Buffy called us and asked us...were you kissing Spike?”

Xander flushed.  “Yeah.  Yeah, I was.”

“But I thought you were dating Doyle.”

“I was.  I am!”  Xander groaned and rubbed his face.  “This just gets more
fun each time I get to do it.” he muttered.  “Wills, I’m in love with
Doyle, and I’m in love with Spike.  We’re together, all...three of us.”

Angel watched the Scooby Gang, anxious to see what their reaction would
be.  It mattered more to him in the way that it would effect Xander than
anything else, but he wanted to see out they were going to handle the
news.  Tara reached out and took Willow’s hand again.  Riley, for no
reason that Angel could see, was rubbing absently at his lips with his

“I don’t understand,” Willow admitted slowly.  “I mean, he’s *Spike*.”

“He’s also the man who saved my life and my sanity when I was ready to
throw them away.”  Xander reached out and took Spike’s hand.  “I love him,
Wills.  This isn’t something that’s ever going to change or go away.”

Doyle spoke up.  “Maybe when we go out to dinner he can fill you in on
some of the details, so it’ll make more sense.”

Willow nodded.  “That...that would be good.”  She eyed Spike warily, and
glanced back at Doyle.  “There’s a talk I need to have with both of you,

“Ah, the shovel talk,” Riley murmured.

Shovel talk?  Angel didn’t get a chance to ask for an elaboration.  He
heard the door to the office open upstairs and an irritated voice
demanding to know where the hell he was.

Buffy and Giles were back.


Xander leaned his head back against the wall, wanting to close his eyes
and block out everything around him, but not quite daring to.  If he
stopped watching, someone might take that as an opportunity to escalate
the situation to physical violence, rather than just contenting themselves
with verbal.  Instead, he just stayed on the outskirts of the room,
keeping himself out of the conversation, or at least not participating in

It was kind of fascinating, actually.  He studied the power of words in
his classes, learning how to use rhetoric to persuade and convince people
of his opinions, of what he was out to prove.  He was learning that it
wasn’t about being loud, it was about being confident and using the facts
to one’s advantage.

Maybe he should bring the Scooby Gang to a few of his classes, because
right now they were trying to win arguments just by using loud, and they
were failing miserably.

It had started as soon as they’d gone up to the office to greet Buffy and
Giles.  Willow had made a comment about the difficulty of finding a table
large enough for all of them at a restaurant and Buffy had been
flabbergasted, shocked that Willow was dealing so well with the revelation
about Spike’s involvement with Xander.  Spike had made a nasty remark,
Buffy had responded, Doyle had gotten snide, Willow had tried to mediate,
and things had just slid downhill from there.

Xander didn’t bother to try to intervene.  He knew it would have been
useless, so he just watched as Buffy, backed up by the occasional comment
from Giles, did verbal battle with Doyle and Spike.  Willow tried to calm
everyone down, but her words were just brushed aside and ignored.  Tara
was uneasily silent, as was Riley.  Xander suspected to former soldier was
holding his peace because he was still rattled by the memory of the kiss
they’d shared.

The dark-haired man tried to reign in his impatience and irritation.  If
he took a step back and managed to ignore the yelling, it was almost
sweet:  everyone in the room was up in arms because they cared about him
and wanted to make sure he wasn’t hurt.  Of course, the fact that no one
was listening to his opinions about his own life kind of took away from
the sweetness, but he could still see it.

Angel was also silent as he stood unmoving by the door.  He’d kept out of
the argument, carefully not getting involved.  Xander knew why:  if Angel
tried to say anything, his involvement with Spike, Doyle and Xander could
come out, and the time wasn’t right.

Doyle’s voice broke through Xander’s musings.  “Look, if you don’t like
‘seeing your friend ruin his life’” he said, parroting Buffy’s last
sentence back at her, “then why don’t you get your ass back to Sunnydale
and go on ignoring him like you used to.”

“I never did!” she denied.  “You’re the one who’s not paying attention if
you think this thing with Spike is real.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this
is part of one of his stupid plots to get at me!”

That was it; Xander couldn’t listen to anymore.  He didn’t want to hurt
any of his friends, didn’t want to worry them, but he wasn’t going to
begin to doubt his lovers.  He loved him, and he *knew* they loved him.
He finally had a place, a sense of belonging and purpose like he’d never
known before.  He wasn’t ever going to give that up, wasn’t ever going to
let anything come between them.

Knowing he had to get out or begin to say things he’d regret, Xander made
his way over to Angel’s side.  Pitching his voice too low to be heard by
anyone else, he asked, “You want to get out of here?”

Angel raised an eyebrow.  “You want to make a run for it?”

“It’s either that or start smacking people around.”  He winced as Spike
let loose with a few particularly nasty insults.

“We could do that, too,” Angel suggested hopefully.

Xander shook his head.  “Nah.  Once we got started, we wouldn’t want to
stop, and there’s still a demon out there we need to take care of.”

“I’m not letting you get near that thing.”

“I don’t want my ass kicked.  I was thinking we could go, make sure it’s
still in the cave, and then call for back up.  I’m perfectly content to
stay on the sidelines and cheer.”

“Is that all?”

“Well, and reward the big strong heroes with sexual favors as they return
triumphant from the battlefield.”  He grinned up at Angel, enjoying the
way the taller man’s body swayed toward him.

“So long as you don’t intend to reward the heroine,” Angel countered.

“What?  No.  I intend to use my body to distract the heroes from knocking
the heroine on her ass when she starts talking after the demon is dead.”

“That makes you the hero,” Angel said.  He hesitated for a moment, then
nodded.  “Let’s get out of here.”

As the argument began to increase in intensity, Xander led the way to the
door, moving slowly to avoid attracting attention.  He could feel Angel
right behind him.  For a few moments, he was glad everyone was
concentrating on fighting over him, instead of concentrating on him.

Outside, he inhaled the night air, filling his lungs with coolness and
filling his ears with silence.  He looked over at Angel.  “Better?”

“Much.”  Angel looked back toward the lit windows, a worried expression on
his face.

Xander reached out and grabbed his arm, pulling the vampire into an embrace.
He held Angel tight, tilting his head so he could speak directly into his  ear.
“They’ll be fine,” he promised.  “Let’s go.”  He brushed a kiss across his jaw.

When he tried to draw away, Angel pulled him close.  “Not so fast,” the
older man admonished.  He leaned down and pressed his mouth to Xander’s,
tongue gently teasing open his lips.  For long moments they were still
except for the heated movement of their mouths, creating their own world
in the coolness outside.

Finally, Xander stepped back.  “Let’s get going before they miss us and
drag us back inside.”  He slid his hand down Angel’s arm and grabbed his
hand, holding onto it as he led the way over to the car.  “Can I drive?”

“No,” Angel said firmly.

“I’m a much better driver than Spike.”


“Come on,” Xander wheedled.  “I’ll be really careful.”  He ran his finger
along the side of the car.  “This car is *nice*.  A total guy magnet.  I
bet I could pick up a ton of-”  His words were cut off by Angel’s mouth
over his.  He murmured bemusedly into the other man’s mouth, submitting to
the aggressive caress with a pleased sigh.  When he was released, he
grinned up at the other man.  “What?”

“Tease.”  Angel glared at him fondly, but he handed Xander the keys.

Xander quickly opened the doors and they were off.  As he drove
(carefully; he knew better than to damage the car), his thoughts turned to
the controversy they’d left behind them.  There was a question inside of
him that he wanted to ask, but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to know the

He glanced over at Angel, watching as his lover stared out at the street,
eyes tracing the strong lines of his profile.  He knew Angel wasn’t quite
brooding, and didn’t want to be the one to push him over the edge.
Still...if he didn’t ask, the question was just going to rattle around
inside of his head until it made him crazy.  As he parked the car at the
park, he cleared his throat.  “Angel?  I want to ask you something.”

The dark-eyed man turned and smiled gently at him.  “Whatever you want.”

“Does it hurt to see Buffy?”  He asked it all in a rush, the words pouring
forth in a rush.

Angel blinked.  “Has that been worrying you?”  He shifted around, moving
so he could better face Xander.  “It doesn’t hurt, exactly.  I’m uncomfortable
around her; it’s not easy to be around someone that you know you’ve hurt.
We shared so much and it went so bad...”  His voice trailed away as he looked
down at his hands.  “It only hurts me to see her because I know it hurts her when
she sees me, and it reminds me of everything I’ve ever done that I now regret.”
He looked back at Xander and shrugged.  “I’m all right.”

Xander nodded.  “I was worried,” he admitted.  “I didn’t want to think
that her being here would hurt you.”  He reached over and opened his door,
waiting for Angel to follow him.  They walked together through the park,
so close that their shoulders brushed against each other as they moved.

Xander led the way to the cave, relying on his memory of exploring the
area with Doyle.  Every so often, he just needed to get out into sunlight,
spend some time outside that wasn’t surrounded by darkness or danger.  The
park gave him that, and he and Doyle had taken advantage of it many times.

As they neared the cave, he slowed down.  “It’s that one, there,” he said,

Angel nodded.  He moved to stand in front of Xander, peering through the
darkness with his head cocked to the side in a listening pose.  “It’s in
there,” he confirmed.  “I can barely see him, but I can hear him.”  He
shook his head.  “It still sounds crazy.  It’s raving to itself, making no
sense at all.”

“We should call Spike and Buffy,” Xander said.  “Get them over here and
get this over with.”  He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number
to the office.  He barely heard the first ring before someone picked it

//Xander, this had better be you,// Spike snarled into the phone.

Xander could tell he was on speakerphone; everything had that distant
quality the speakerphone produced.  “It is,” he answered.  “Angel and I-”
He didn’t get any further; yelling cut him off.

//Where the hell are you?// Doyle demanded, with Spike backing him up.  In
the background, other voices were raised in question.

“Angel and I tracked down the demon,” he said.  “It’s still in the cave.
We need Spike and Buffy to get down here before it moves.”

//We’ll be right there,// Doyle promised.

Xander hesitated.  “Doyle, I want you to stay at the office.”  The
objection was explosive.  Xander rode it out, waiting for Doyle to calm
down before continuing.  “Listen, I know you don’t like it, but I need you
there.  I don’t want to leave Willow and the others alone.  The office
attracts enough trouble as it is.  Add in the Scooby Gang and who knows
what will happen?”


“Please, Doyle?  I want to know that you’re safe, and that you’re keeping
them safe.  I know I can trust you to do that.  Please?”

//You play dirty.  But I’ll stay - on one condition.  You stay the hell
out of things, you hear me?  You stand back and make fun of Spike and
Angel and watch your ass.//

“I promise.  I love you, you know.”

//Love you, too.  And tell Angel if anything happens to you, I’ll kick his

“Will do.  Are they on their way, yet?”

//Can’t wait to see me, can you, pet?// Spike gloated into the phone.
//I’ll be there soon, love.  Watch yourself until I get there.//

“Yeah, love you, too, Spike.  Move your ass.”  He hung up and glance over
at Angel.  “You could hear?”

“Every word.”  He sighed and looked around.  “I guess we’ll just have to
wait for them to get here.”

“Yippee.  I love waiting.”  Xander looked down at the cell.  “I think
there are some games on this...”

Large hands took the phone away.  “I’ve got a better idea for how to pass
the time.”

“Really?”  Xander pretended ignorance.  “You want to play I Spy?  Um, I
can’t see too much.  You know, night time, no super vamp-vision...”  He
laughed as Angel shook his head in exasperation.

Angel reached out and pulled him into an embrace.  “I’ve got a better idea
for how to use your mouth, too.”

“You don’t like I Spy?  I don’t think Hide and Seek would be such a good
idea-”  Xander allowed his words to be cut off by Angel’s lips on his.  He
had missed Angel, hated having to watch himself around his lover while
Buffy and Giles were around.  When they suddenly became forbidden, he
realized how precious all the casual touches and quick caress they usually
shared really were.

He relaxed into the embrace, trusting Angel to support him as he
concentrated on the taste of his lover, on the feeling of hard muscle
beneath his hands.  He pressed himself closer, needing to feel as much of
the other man as possible, to soak up his touch while they had the chance.
 He sense the same need coming from Angel as the taller man clutched at
him in near-desperation.  Working his hands inside Angel’s coat, Xander
hoped that Spike and Buffy didn’t hurry all that much on their way over.

He also hoped like hell that they took separate cars.


Doyle finished scribbling down a second set of directions to the cave,
resisting the temptation to send Buffy off an a goose chase, maybe off
into one of the more demon-infested areas of town.  Somewhere that she
could get into a fight and maybe get her ass kicked all the way back to
Sunnydale, preferably.  He knew that Angel and Spike might need her, so he
fought down the urge and gave her the same directions he was giving Spike.
 He knew they each needed a set; unless they wanted to trigger an
apocalypse, they’d travel separately.

He put down his pen and handed the two sets of directions to their
respective owners.  “Get going,” he said.  “I don’t want that thing going
after Angel and Xander.”  He hated the fact that he was staying behind,
but Xander’s point was valid.  Besides, he wasn’t sure that he trusted any
of the others to be left behind and not go snooping through the place.
The Watcher especially, looking for anything he could use to convince
Xander to go back to Sunnydale.

Spike took the directions and looked them over quickly.  “I’ll bring back
the bastard’s head, if you like.”

“Just bring...Xander home.”  Doyle tripped over the words, having to edit
Angel out.

Spike smiled at him, the fact that he understood what Doyle had wanted to
say clear in his gaze.  “Before you can miss us,” he promised.  He took a
step toward the door, then turned around and caught Doyle in a crushing
embracing, sealing his mouth over the half-demon’s.

Doyle gasped for a moment in surprise, then gave into the sensual assault.
 He forced his tongue into Spike’s mouth even as his hands clutched the
blond man’s leather duster and pulled him closer, not willing to let his
lover leave without taking one last chance to memorize the taste and feel
of him.  When he was finally released, he took a step back while taking
much-needed breaths.  “Come back and finish this.”

A fierce grin was Spike’s only reply before he disappeared out the door.

Doyle watch him go, then turned to look at Buffy.  The Slayer was staring
at him, her cheeks faintly pink.  “Well?” he asked.  “Are you going to sit
this one out?”

“What?  I...”  She suddenly seemed to remember where she was and what she
had to do.  “Damn it!”  She ran out the door, grabbing the directions as
she went.

Doyle smirked after her, then turned around to face the condemning glares
of the group from Sunnydale.  He wasn’t sure if the looks were for
laughing at Buffy or for the kiss.  Well, fuck them.  He loved Spike and
wasn’t going to let a group of people too stupid to appreciate what they’d
had in Xander make him feel guilty about it.  He wound himself up to make
some sort of comment, but Cordelia beat him to it.

“What?  You’re upset because you had to watch them make out?  Get over
it.”  She sat down behind Angel’s desk and crossed her legs.  “I don’t
even want to talk about how many times I’ve walked in on almost-sex.”  She
glared at Doyle, but he could read the affection in her eyes.  “But what
are you going to do?  People in love have no shame.”

That was his Princess; she might drive him up the wall, but when it came
down to it, her heart was in the right place.  “Want to raid the boss’s
cash supply and make a food run?” he suggested.  He wanted her to leave,
give him some time alone with these people.  If he couldn’t get along with
them on his own, without her running interference for him, then it was
hopeless.  He had to try on his own.

She grinned.  “Who’s up for Chinese?”  She wrote down everyone’s request,
then took off with the money Doyle had given her.  A chance to spend
someone else’s money?  Cordy would never let that pass her by.

He watched her go, then moved toward the elevator.  “There are more chairs
downstairs,” he said.  For a moment he thought that they might refuse to
follow him, but Willow took a few steps and then everyone followed her.
Doyle led them to the living room, staking out his favorite chair and
flopping down into it.  He watched as Willow and Tara sat close together
on the couch while Giles and Riley claimed the other chairs.  He leaned
forward toward the red-haired woman.  “I’m guessing that there are some
questions you want to ask me,” he said.  “And I’m curious about this
‘shovel talk’ that you mentioned.”

She blushed a little, but she nodded and held his gaze.  “I just worry
about Xander.  I miss him and I want to know that he’s safe and happy

“And that’s why I’ll answer your questions.”  He allowed himself to be led
through a discussion of what Xander was doing in school, of what he did in
his free time, and other questions about his general activities.  He found
a common theme in her questions:  Willow just wanted to make sure Xander
was happy.  Once he realized that, he began to warm to the young woman.
Maybe she really did deserve the title of ‘Xander’s best friend’.  That
decision made, he began to share more details about Xander’s life, telling
stories that he thought she might enjoy.

“So what is this shovel talk?” Doyle asked, sharing a grin with her.
Xander was going to kill him once he found out that he’d told her about
the time the brown-eyed man had spent so much time on a tire swing that
he’d gotten sick, but it was worth it to find out that Xander had done the
same thing repeatedly when he was a kid.

“Oh, it’ s really short, really simple.  It goes like this:  if you hurt
Xander, I will hunt you down and beat you to death with a shovel.”  She
smiled at him.  “Just be sure you don’t hurt him, then you, me, and the
shovel will all be much happier.”

Doyle stared at her for a moment.  She might be smiling, but he could tell
she was completely serious.  He glanced over at Riley to find the soldier
nodding slowly.  “I take it you got the talk, too?”

The taller man grinned.  “Oh, yeah.  Hey, now I have someone to bond with
over that.  Until Giles gets a girlfriend and Willow threatens her.”

Doyle ignored the reference to the Watcher.  He didn’t want to argue with
the man, not when he could spend the time making Willow laugh instead.
That in mind, his grin turned sly.  “So I guess that gives you and me
something else in common, then.”

“What else did we have before?”

“Xander.  He’s a great kisser, isn’t he?”  He watched as Riley turned an
interesting shade of crimson.  He’d caught on to the way Riley kept
touching his lips whenever Xander was around him, and had guessed what was
behind the unconscious movement.  As Willow and Tara exchanged confused
glances Doyle explained, “When Xander was still under the effects of the
demon, before Spike brought him to LA, he ran into Riley and gave him a
bit of a kiss.”

“A bit!” Riley protested.  “It was more than a bit.  It was-”  He suddenly
seemed to hear himself, and cut off his words abruptly.

Willow cracked up.  “He *is* good, isn’t he?  Wait till Cordelia gets
back; we can all sit around and dish on him.”

All of them except Giles.  The spiteful thought welled up inside of him
and Doyle didn’t even try to fight it.  He didn’t like the other man being
anywhere near Xander.  Not when his gaze followed Xander wherever he
moved, not when his every word to him was encouragement to leave LA and
return to Sunnydale.  Forcing his thoughts away from Giles, he
concentrated on grilling Willow for more information on Xander.  He wanted
to know everything he could about his lover, greedy to learn about the
past he hadn’t had the chance to share.

While they were talking, Cordy returned, bearing gifts of fried rice and
sweet and sour sauce.  Doyle led everyone into the kitchen, where they
raided the cupboards for plates and silverware.  Back in the living room,
feast distributed, Cordelia smiled at everyone over her plate.  “Did you
all play nicely while I was gone?”

“Yes, mom,” Doyle answered, rolling his eyes.  “No one had to go to
time-out, even.”

“That’s good.”

“It is good,” Willow said.  “I don’t care if it makes you call me ‘mom’,
too, Doyle, but I’m glad to Xander is happy, and that there are people who
love him taking care of him.  He deserves that, deserves to have people
love him and watch out for him.”  Her smile turned a little sad.  “When we
would talk on the phone, I could tell he was hiding something from me.  I
hated that, hated that he thought he had to lie to me.  Now that I know
everything, things between us can go back to the way they were, the way
they’re supposed to be.”

“So you and Doyle hashed everything out?”

“Completely.  It turns out Xander’s life here is better than anything I’d
been imagining for him.  I feel better know that I know everything.”

Willow’s use of the word everything sent alarms off in Doyle’s head, but
his mouth was full.  He chewed frantically, but he wasn’t fast enough to
stop Cordelia’s next comments.

“You know *everything*?  Trust me, that’s not going to make you feel
better. Once you know everything, you start seeing everything, since they give
up  on any pretense of secrecy.  That thing with Xander and Spike in the chair
earlier?  That was nothing.  Once I came down here to try to find
something to eat and I found Xander on top of Angel - on the kitchen
table!  They hadn’t gotten completely naked yet, thank god, but I still
saw more than I wan...”  Her voice trailed away as she took in the stunned
looks on the faces around her.  “What?  TMI?”

“Xander on top of *Angel*?” Giles said, voice low and dangerous.  “Angel,
too?  What the hell have you done to him?  What have you dragged him into
and convinced him he wants?”

“Nothing!” Doyle shot back.  “I would never do that to him.  I love
him...and Spike loves him, and Angel loves him.  We love him, he loves us.
 That’s all you need to know.”  He looked over at Willow, met her stunned
stare.  “Willow...he wanted to tell you.  He did.  He just didn’t know if
you all could accept him in a relationship with more than one person, and
he was really worried about Buffy’s reaction to Angel being a part of it.
None of us liked lying to you...well, all right, Spike enjoyed the hell
out of it, but Xander just didn’t know how to tell you.”

“You mean that you didn’t let him tell us,” Giles said, rising to his
feet.  “I don’t know how you’ve managed it, but Xander would never do
this.  He’s obviously being held here under your control somehow.  I don’t
know how you did it, how you dragged Angel into it, but I’m going to stop

Doyle rose as well, getting in Giles’ face.  “You know nothing about it.
Xander came here, barely clinging to hope that we’d find a cure for him.
Through it all, his main concern was that he not hurt anyone, even if it
meant he hurt himself.  That’s how I met him, that’s how I fell for him.
Spike was already hopelessly lost by that time.  As for Angel...Angel had
been half in love with him since he left Sunnydale.  This thing between us
by all laws of chance never should have happened, but circumstance and
fate brought us together, and none of us are every going to let it go.”
He stared defiantly into Giles’ eyes.  “You may have had a chance with him
once.  That was before.  Now you’ve got nothing.  Accept it and move on.”

Giles started to reply, but Doyle was in full battle-mode and cut him off.
 “He is happy here, Watcher.  I’m not going to let you try to ruin that
over a crush he got over years before he met me.  Besides, even if I
didn’t love him so much I can’t imagine my life without him, I *still*
wouldn’t let him go back with you.  At least here I know there are people
who give a damn if he lives or dies.”

“I care if he-”

Once again, Doyle cut Giles off.  “You care?  Then why the hell didn’t you
know he’d been injured?  Why didn’t you realize that he’d gone missing for
days?  Why didn’t you find the goddamn suicide letters he’d left for his
friends?”  He watched without satisfaction as Giles flinched back.  He
didn’t like thinking of how broken Xander had been when he’d found out
that no one had missed him in Sunnydale, that none of his friends had
bothered checking up on him.  “That would never happen here.  I can’t
sleep unless I know Xander is safe, and no power from earth, heaven or
hell could protect someone bent on hurting him from any of us.  I love
him.  We love him.  That’s never going to change.”

Giles sat back down.  The older man’s jaw was still set in anger, but he
had nothing left to say.  Doyle didn’t especially like throwing the past
in his face, but he’d do whatever it took to protect Xander, even if he
was protecting him from his friends.  Especially if he was protecting him
from his friends.

He glanced over at Willow.  He cared about her reaction; he was coming to
like her himself, and not just for Xander’s sake.

She drew in a shaky breath.  “You really do love him, don’t you?”

“I love all of them, yeah.  With everything that I am, if you can stand me
getting sappy about it.  They’re the best thing to ever happen to me and
if you think I’m giving up even a tiny bit of that, you’re out of your
mind.”  He sat down but didn’t settle, still ready for anything.  “It was
a surprise, when we figured out how we all felt, but it isn’t any more.
We’re all happy with each other.  Xander was the beginning of it, in a lot
of ways, but he isn’t the end.  You know what I mean?”

She nodded.  “I think so.  More importantly, I think I know how you feel,
and that kind of love is exactly what Xander deserves.”  She relaxed.
“You just keep me and my friend the shovel in mind, and everything will
work out.”  She smiled at Tara, who reached over and took her hand.

Doyle glanced at Riley, who was sitting very still, looking rather
shell-shocked.  The Irishman figured that he’d be all right in a few
minutes, then transferred his attention to Giles.  The Watcher was glaring
down at the floor, refusing to concede anything, refusing to give up.
Fine. Doyle could understand that; he’d never give up any of his lovers,
either. Just so long as the man didn’t actually try anything, they’d be
just fine. Finally, he looked over at Cordelia, exasperation written
clear on his face.

“Oops,” she offered by way of an apology.

“Oops doesn’t even begin to cover it, Princess.”

She looked down, then picked up a small package and held it out to him.
“Fortune cookie?” she offered with a bright smile.

Doyle took the cookie, but he wasn’t appeased.  This had been the easy

Who was going to tell Buffy?


Spike made his way through the park, moving silently through the mostly
deserted area.  He crossed paths with a group of young men once, but the
sight of his bared teeth and yellow eyes was more than enough to persuade
them that they didn’t want him to provide their entertainment for the
He moved with inhuman speed, eager to find his lovers and get the fight
with the demon finished.  He didn’t like leaving Doyle alone, although he
was confident that the Irishman would win over Willow.  The green-eyed man
was nothing if not charming, and once he got Willow to like him, they’d
have a valuable ally right in the middle of Buffy’s camp.

He shook his head.  He knew he shouldn’t be thinking of this in terms of
battle and wars, but he couldn’t help it.  The love that he’d found with
the other men was something he’d kill for, something he’d fight himself
bloody and broken and dead for, and whenever anything or anyone threatened
it he found himself automatically going into battle mode.  He knew Xander
and Angel wouldn’t approve, although he thought Doyle might be on his
side, but he really couldn’t help it.  The other men mattered too much to
him for him to be calm or rational about any sort of threat to them.

He caught the sound of a familiar heartbeat ahead and moved even faster,
spurred on by the need to see Xander and Angel again.  He found them
leaning against a rock outcropping, standing close together in the chill
of the evening.  In moments he was beside them.

Xander jumped a little.  “Spike!  Damn it, I’ve told you not to do that,”
he scolded.  That didn’t stop him from going willingly into Spike’s arms,
or responding eagerly to the wet, possessive kiss his lover bestowed on
him.  When he was finally released, Xander looked over Spike’s shoulder.
“Where’s Buffy?”

“Hopefully, burning in a fiery car crash.  Hey!”  Spike glared at his
lovers, both of whom had just hit him.  “I don’t know where she is.
Didn’t want to ride with her, did I?  She’s got directions, she’ll be here
soon.  Before she is, though...”  He leaned over and pressed his mouth to
Angel’s, delighted when the taller man’s lips parted.  For a moment, Spike
forgot everything except the taste of his Sire, the scent and feel of the
man who had changed and shaped his life more than any other person.  He
hadn’t thought he’d be able to do this ever again, and was incredibly
grateful that he could.  He murmured protestingly as Angel pulled away.

“Buffy will be here soon,” Angel said apologetically.

“Fuck her.”  Spike jerked Angel’s head down, sealing their mouths together
once more.  He thrust he tongue into the other man’s mouth, aggressively
searching out every inch of space and marking it as his own.  Just as
suddenly, he pulled away.  “Just so you remember who you belong to.”  He
knew he was snarling, but couldn’t help it.  Buffy was a threat; she could
kill him, she could convince Xander to leave, and she could send Angel
spiraling down into crushing depression.  He didn’t intend to let any of
that happen.

Xander ran a gentle hand over his arm.  “It’s going to be all right,” he

Spike grabbed his hand and used it to pull Xander close once more.  “Of
course it will, love.  We just have to get the Slayer to leave town.”

“And to do that, you have to kill this demon.”  Xander made a half-hearted
attempt to escape that didn’t fool Spike for a moment.  “So your first
priority should be bloody mayhem.”

“No,” Spike disagreed with a smirk.  He could hear Buffy approaching,
muttering to herself as she read Doyle’s instructions.  He’d promised not
to kill her, but he hadn’t said anything about not irritating her.  “My
first priority is always-”  He cut himself off by kissing Xander.  He
thrust his hands into the other man’s jacket, stroking them up and down
his back.  He redoubled his efforts as Xander hummed happily and sank his
own hands into Spike’s hair, forcing them even closer together.  He lost
himself in his lover, so even he was surprised by Buffy’s words.

“Public indecency is still a crime, you know.”  She stopped about eight
feet away, arms crossed over her chest.

Still in the circle of Spike’s arms, Xander grinned at her.  “C’mon,
Buffy.  You can’t tell me that you and Riley have never taken time out for
a little one-on-one action while out on patrol.”

“Yeah, we have, but when we do it, it’s not disgusting.”

Spike growled at her, shifting away from Xander, getting ready for a
fight.  His muscles began to tense up, but he caught the sound of Angel
murmuring his name in a tone too low for humans to hear.  He forced
himself to relax, forced himself to not lunge forward and smash the sneer
from her face.  He took a step back so he could see Angel, refusing to
turn his back on Buffy.  “Are we going to do this thing or not?”

“Let’s go,” Angel replied.  He glanced at Xander.  “Be careful, all right?
 Stay out of the fight.”

Xander’s nod was a little too flippant for Spike’s taste.  He grabbed the
dark-haired man by his shoulders.  “Stay out of it, love.  Please?”

Xander smiled a little.  “I promise.  I’ll keep up my
cowering-like-a-child routine.”

“That’s not the right way to describe it.  Let’s call it the protecting
what’s important routine instead, eh?”  Spike brushed a kiss over Xander’s
lips, then moved away, heading for the cave.  It was time to end this and
send the Slayer back to Sunnydale.  He heard Angel and Buffy fall into
step behind him.

“Who gets to flush it out?” Angel asked.

“I volunteer Spike,” Buffy said.

“My pleasure,” Spike shot back.  Ignoring Angel’s protest, he darted
forward into the cave.  He could hear the demon muttering to itself, could
smell sickness and *wrongness* filling the narrow cavity.  The demon had
folded itself up into a corner and it didn’t seem aware of his presence.
Spike debated for all of three seconds how to get its attention and start
it moving outside, before shrugging and murmuring “Fuck it.”  He lunged
forward and slammed his fist into the demon’s face.

The demon roared in outrage, its attention suddenly focusing in on Spike.
Throwing in a rude gesture just to cover all the bases, Spike backpedaled,
sprinting for the entrance to the cave.  He could hear the demon
thundering after him as he exited the cave.  Angel and Buffy were waiting
for it on either side of the mouth of the cave.  As soon as the demon
appeared, they launched an attack on its flanks.

Spike turned around and watched them for a moment, admiring his Sire’s
deadly grace as Angel tore away at the creature’s defenses, dodging blows
and returning his own in a continuous series of fluid movements.  Then the
memories of a thousand fights and battles before this were nudging at his
awareness, urging him forward into the fray.

A fierce grin twisting his lips, Spike threw himself at the demon.  He
knew his own fighting style was different from Angel’s, but he didn’t care
to analyze it right now.  He preferred to lose himself the pure savage joy
of the fight, in the feel of flesh tearing beneath his hands as he sought
to bathe his hands in the strange-colored blood hidden beneath the scaled

Between the three of them, they inflicted heavy damage on the red demon.
Its counter-attacks grew weaker and more erratic as they hammered away at
it.  As Spike could sense its strength failing, it made a break for
freedom, lumbering away in a desperate bid for escape.  With a mighty
heave of its shoulders, it threw Spike to the ground and knocked Angel and
Buffy aside as it moved.

Spike didn’t know if it was by chance or design, but the demon headed
right for Xander.  Xander backed up, but the demon’s stride was too long
for him to be able to out-run it.  Spike started for it, as did Buffy.
Angel, who was closer, ran past the demon and grabbed Xander, moving with
vampiric speed as he pulled the mortal out of danger.

Confident that Angel would protect Xander, Spike moved in for the kill,
ready to teach it the error of its actions.  No one threatened Xander and
got away with it.  Barely aware of Buffy’s attacks, he focused on killing
the creature.  There was no more time for inflicting damage; the demon’s
time was up.  He grabbed its head and with a single vicious twist snapped
its neck.  The red body fell in a lifeless heap.

Spike didn’t look back.  He had more important things to worry about.  He
moved over to where Angel and Xander stood.  He wanted to reach over and
take Xander into his arms, needed to check him over and be sure that his
lover was whole and healthy, unharmed by the demon that had lumbered
toward him.

For the moment, however, he hung back.  Angel had beaten him to it, and he
knew better than to come between a worried vampire and his lover; it could
prove to be messy, even though Angel knew who he was.  He barely trusted
himself when he was feeling territorial and aggressive about his lovers,
and he wasn’t going to make any move to distract or provoke Angel.

Instead, he watched as Angel skimmed questing hands over Xander’s body,
searching for wounds even though he had pulled the mortal away before the
demon could reach him.  At the same time, Angel’s face was in its demonic
guise as he scented the air around Xander, attempting to catch the scent
of blood.

Xander submitted to the search utterly, standing passively as he was
jostled by Angel’s searching hands.  He’d gone through the same thing
multiple times; Spike himself regularly subjected him to it, whenever
they’d encountered a nasty problem that came a little too close to the
human.  Doyle often gave him a quick once over as well, and this was far
from Angel’s first time doing it.  Spike understood what Angel was doing
perfectly:  he and Angel were fairly indestructible, and even a
half-Bracchen demon took extra effort to inflict any real damage, but
humans were ridiculously fragile.  Xander could be killed by things that
would barely slow Angel down, by things that Doyle could shrug off, given
a few minutes and a shot of whiskey.  It was terrifying; they could lose
him so easily, lose him too easily.  Some days, it was tempting to just
chain him to the bed and keep him there, safe and protected...

And miserable.  Spike knew that one of the few ways they could ever make
Xander leave would be by doing just what he wanted to do, coddle the
human, lock him away from the world and protect him from any possible
danger.  The minute Xander began to feel undervalued and useless was the
minute that they’d begin to lose him.  That was the mistake the Scoobies
had made.  So Xander came out with them, fought with them, and had to put
up with his lovers’ panicked health checks when things were all over.

“Are you all right?” Angel asked.

Judging by Xander’s eye-roll, it was a question he had answered five time
already.  “I’m fine, Angel.  It never even touched me.”  A worried
expression crossed his face.  “I haven’t checked my cell or my watch to
see if they’re all right, though.”

“Fuck the phone,” Angel said, features shifting back to human form.  He
wrapped his arms around Xander, enfolding him in a crushing embrace.
“Fuck the watch.  The only thing that matters is that you weren’t hurt.”

Spike heard a noise behind him:  Buffy, leaving the body of the demon and
coming to check on Xander.  He watched as Xander’s eyes widened; the
younger man could see her over Angel’s shoulder.  He began to struggle in
Angel’s arms.  “Angel, man, let me go.  I’m fine.”

“Shah,” Angel hushed, making no move to release him.  “I just need to feel
you, need to feel your heart beat against me.”  His eyes were closed in
concentration as he rubbed his cheek against Xander’s hair.

Spike knew Angel was trusting him to watch over both him and Xander, but
he wished Angel had chosen a better time.  How about when a nest of
harpies were at their backs?  Or maybe when a vengeance-seeking Ninguni
was bearing down them?  What was wrong with waiting for it to be pack of
Fyarl demons, mucus primed and ready?  Instead, he was choosing a moment
far more deadly:  Buffy was close enough to see through the dark of the
cloudy night.

She stopped dead a few steps to the side of Spike, eyes growing round as
she took in the sight of Angel wrapped around Xander, a look of mingled
relief and bliss on the taller man’s face.  “Now what the *hell* is


Angel didn’t want to let go of Xander, but when the other man’s foot came
down hard on his instep he stepped away instinctively.  For a moment he
was completely bewildered.  What was wrong?  He’d just needed to make sure
the other man was all right.  Sure, Xander complained sometimes about his
overprotectiveness, but he’d never gotten violent about it before.  As he
stared at his lover, he realized that Xander wasn’t looking at him;
instead, his gaze was fixed on something behind Angel.

“Shit, Angel, you have got to work on this whole save-the-world quest
you’re on,” Xander said, speaking so quickly the words ran together.  “I
mean, it’s an ideal I can get behind, since I live on the world so I want
it to be around so I’ve got a place to be, but I think you’re going about
it wrong.  I mean, if you get this excited every time you save a person
you’re going to wear yourself out.  Like, a slap on the back would have
been completely appropriate.”  He grinned shakily at Buffy.  “That whole
guilt complex of his has gotten worse.  I’m pretty sure if he doesn’t snap
out of it soon, Cordy’s going to find a way to convince him that buying
her new shoes is an act of atonement.  Of course, if he went shopping with
her instead of just giving her money, I think it would qualify.”

Angel caught the barely audible sound of a sub-vocal growl building up
from Spike.  He wasn’t far from growling himself.  Xander was babbling.
Not that he didn’t sometime launch into near-incomprehensible monologues
at time, but he didn’t do them from fear or nervousness, not anymore.  It
was a nervous habit that had slowly faded after he moved to LA, as he
quietly gained confidence in himself and his abilities.  Xander had
stopped needing the funny but meaningless patter as a way to try to gain
attention or distract people from what he was really thinking and feeling:
 he had people who loved him now, and who refused to allow him to hide
like that.

Angel hated the sound of the self-effacing words pouring forth from his
lover.  Knowing Xander was doing it to protect him just made it worse.  He
didn’t like lying about their relationship and couldn’t stand making
Xander do it.  He couldn’t hide any longer, couldn’t make himself lie any
more.  He loved Xander, loved all of them, and he wasn’t going to taint
the joy he’d found in them by refusing to admit to that love.

“Xander,” he said quietly.

“No, really, Angel,” Xander said, not ending his line of chatter.  “You
don’t want to do this.  I mean, I know you and I was mildly freaked out by
the hug.  What if you save some stranger and do that to him?  You’re going
to end up scaring him worse than whatever you saved him from ever could.”

Angel caught the warnings imbedded in Xander’s prattle, but he shook his
head and smiled gently.  “Buffy,” he said, talking right over Xander.
“There’s something you need to know.”

She stared at him, arms folded tightly over her chest.  “I can hardly

Angel reached out and took Xander’s hand, silencing his lover’s stream of
words.  “I know you’re having a hard time dealing with Spike and Doyle
being with Xander...but I’m with them as well.”


“I love them.  I’m a part of them.”  He was aware of Spike moving into a
defensive position even as he took a step forward to shield Xander.  It
wasn’t that he didn’t trust Buffy - he just wanted to cover all the bases.

She blinked.  “I’m sorry.  I think I just slid into one of those
alternative universes for a moment.  What did you say?”

“Buffy, I’m serious.  I know it’s hard to believe - sometimes I can hardly
believe it myself.  But somehow we all fell in love and I don’t want this
to ever end.”

“This is a joke, isn’t it?”  She glared suspiciously over her shoulder at
Spike.  “How much did you have to pay him to do this?”

“It’s no joke,” Angel objected.  “When Xander came to LA with Spike, I got
a chance with him that I never thought I’d have, and a chance to reunite
with Spike.  I don’t understand how it happened, but we all ended up in

“It had better be a joke,” she said, looking back at him with hard eyes.
“It has to be.  You being in love comes with a huge disclaimer, remember?
A little clause attached to the curse?  Or are you getting around it
because the sex is that bad?”

“Hey!” Xander objected.

Angel squeezed his lover’s hand and used his grip on him to keep Xander
behind him.  He shot a glare at Spike that managed to restrain the blond
for a few minutes, then shifted his attention back to Buffy.  “Not that my
sex life is any of your business, but the sex is...none of your business.”

“Passing out from pleasure is a regular occurrence,” Xander said, sidling
around Angel.

“We get calls from neighbors who live houses away,” Spike chimed in.




“So bloody good it would make your farm-boy weep.”

“So hot-”

“Enough!”  Angel only raised his voice a little, and amazingly, it worked.
 He’d have to mark the date down in his calendar later.  “Buffy, the
clause is about a moment of complete happiness.  I’m never going to feel
that again.”  He was aware of Xander pressing against his side, offering
comfort through touch.  Angel smiled at him gratefully and wrapped an arm
around him, pulling him closer.  He glanced over Buffy’s shoulder and
caught Spike’s supportive nod as the other vampire kept an eye on the area
surrounding them.

He met Buffy’s eyes squarely.  “It’s not that I don’t love them.  I do,
more than I ever thought I’d be able to love anyone.  It’s not what we had
together, Buffy.  Neither of us will ever have anything like that again.
We were naive.”  He paused, searching for the words.  “I got so caught up
in what we had, in being in love and fighting for right, that I convinced
myself that things were perfect, that we were perfect.  It was foolish and
when we finally got together I forgot everything except being with
you...and I lost everything.  That’s never going to happen again.  I’m
never going to be able to be that focused again.  It’s always with me,
now:  what I’ve done in the past, what I have to do in the future.  I’m
happier than I’ve ever been, but I’m never going to lose control because
I’m never going be that naive again.”

She stared at him.  “You’re serious.”

He nodded.

She opened her mouth to speak, shut it, opened it, then drew in a ragged
breath.  “I can’t talk about this right now.  I just need some time, all

Angel blinked.  He hadn’t expected her to be taking this so calmly.

She shook her head.  “When I said time, I meant more than ten seconds.”

Angel nodded.  “All right.”  He felt Xander move to stand beside him and
this time made no move to stop him.

“Buff?  How about heading back to the office and seeing if Willow and Tara
have managed to spell everyone’s eyebrows off?”  Xander raised his
eyebrows hopefully at her.

She nodded, but made no reply.

“Do you want me to ride with you?”

“No!”  She glared at him.  “I need time, damn it.  That means I need
space, too.  That means I don’t want to have to spend time looking at you
and trying to figure out what the hell you think you’re doing, sleeping
with every man you can find in LA, what you think you’re doing by fucking
my ex.”  She took a step back.  “I’ll be fine on my own.”

Angel reached out and grabbed Spike as the circling vampire lunged toward
Buffy.  “No.”  He understood Spike’s reaction; he wanted to punish her for
lashing out at Xander, but he knew he couldn’t.  She had a right to her
emotions, as horribly nineties as that sounded.

“Did you hear what she said?” Spike demanded furiously.

“Yeah,” Xander answered, face pale.  “We heard.  Let it go.”

Angel knew Spike would do no such thing, so he wasn’t completely surprised
when the blond man wrapped his arms around his neck and claimed his mouth
in a passionate kiss.  He was surprised enough to gasp a little and Spike
took shameless advantage of it, slipping an agile tongue into his mouth.
Angel’s hands tightened convulsively on Spike’s waist as he pulled him
closer, surrendering to the heat between them.

His eyes fluttered open as the sound of muttered curses came to his ears.
He broke off the kiss as he watched Buffy stalk away, back stiff and arms
swinging angrily.

“Not nice,” Xander said quietly.

“Neither was she,” Spike said.  He scowled and stepped away from Angel,
shoving the older man toward Xander.  “Let’s go.”  He walked off into the

Angel didn’t need anymore encouragement; he reached out and wrapped an arm
around Xander’s shoulders as they followed Spike.  “She shouldn’t have
done that.”

“What else was she supposed to do?”

“Anything but attack you.”

“Who else was she supposed to go after?  Spike’s her enemy, you’re her
ex...and I’m her friend.  Who is she supposed to feel betrayed by?”

“No one.  There’s no betrayal here, Xander.  Just people in love.”

Xander sighed and leaned more heavily against Angel.  He pulled his cell
phone out of his pocket and pressed a few buttons.  “Completely dead.  I
don’t even want to look at my watch.”

“We won’t be able to call Doyle,” Angel realized.

“We’d better hurry back, then.  Don’t want him to freak out and come
looking for us.”

At the car, Angel made an unprecedented decision:  he tossed his keys to
Spike.  His Childe looked at him with an arched eyebrow.  “I want to sit
with Xander,” Angel said simply.

Spike nodded, although Angel caught mutters about the fact that Spike
believed Angel was beginning to be a little greedy with Xander, and that
the blond wouldn’t have minded riding in the back with either of them.

Angel ignored him.  Spike had no room to talk about being selfish with
Xander and after the show he’d given Buffy he knew Spike couldn’t be
missing him too much.  He climbed into the back seat and settled Xander
down beside him, wrapping his arms around him and holding him close.  They
didn’t speak. They exchanged soft kisses and gentle nuzzles as Angel basked in the
strong sound of Xander’s heartbeat.


Xander grabbed Spike by the collar of his duster and pulled.  Hard.

“Hey!” the vampire protested, but he stopped walking.

“I’m going in first.”  Xander moved past him toward the door to the
office.  He was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.  He looked back over
his shoulder at Angel.  “What?”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

He reached up and laid his hand on top of Angel’s.  “Yeah.  It’ll be
fine.”  He knew Angel was just worried about him.  Oh, Spike was worried
too, but Xander was under no illusions:  the blond man was probably also
looking for a chance to start another fight before the others return to

Angel nodded.  Without looking away from Xander, he grabbed Spike by the
back of the neck as the blue-eyed man made his move toward the door.
“We’ll be right behind you.”

Xander grinned.  As he walked past Spike, he brushed his fingers over the
sharp line of his cheekbone.  “Behave,” he chided.  He knocked on the door
as he inserted his key in the lock.  He opened the door and poked his head
inside.  The lights were on, but no one was in the office.  No sign of a
struggle...  “They’re down in the office.”  He could hear muted voices.

He felt someone walking ridiculously close behind him.  “If you’re going
to walk that close, we might as well lose the clothes, you know?”  Fingers
plucked at the back of his pants.  “Spike!”  He turned around, glaring,
and found that Spike was a few feet away and Angel was refusing to meet
his eyes.  “Angel!”

The taller man shrugged.  “You did make the suggestion...”

Xander shook his head and turned back around, a smile on his lips.  This
felt better - honest joking around, instead of frantic attempts at humor.
It wasn’t something that he felt he had to do; it was something that just
happened and made him feel better, more relaxed.

He made his way down the stairs, pointedly not taking the elevator as he
muttered under his breath about his lovers being untrustworthy.  He paused
at the bottom of the stairs, taking in the sight in front of him.

Buffy had beaten them back to the office.  He could see her standing in a
corner, Riley close to her, speaking in low tones to her.  She wasn’t
responding to him, but Xander could tell she was listening.  At least she
wasn’t going to have to deal with this alone.  Xander trusted Riley  to be
there for her, to support her however she needed him to.

Everyone else was in the living room.  While concerned glances kept being
directed over toward Buffy, a conversation was going strong among the
seated people.  Xander was pleased to see that Doyle and Willow were
talking.  As the Irishman got Willow to laugh out loud, Xander grinned to
himself.  He knew Doyle would win her over.  How could anyone resist that
sly little grin?

He entered the room completely and met Doyle’s eyes as the other man
looked up.  “Hey,” he said quietly, moving forward to allow Angel and
Spike to follow him.

“You’re back!”  Doyle was up and across the room in moments, hands on
Xander’s shoulders as he looked him over carefully.  “You’re all right?”

“We’re all fine,” Xander said.  “My cell and my watch were the only
casualties.”  He wrapped his arms around Doyle’s waist and pulled him
close, brushing a kiss over his cheek.  “How are things?” he whispered.

“Fine.  No bloodshed.”  Doyle captured Xander’s lips for a brief moment.
“They know about Angel.”

“So does Buffy, so I guess everything is out in the open, now.”  Xander
stepped away from Doyle, but kept one of his arms around his waist.  His
eyes sought Willow.  “Hey, Wills.”

“Hey, Xander,” she replied.  Her gaze was a little worried, but her smile
was real.

“We still doing OK?”  He had to make sure she was fine with everything.

“We’re doing fine, Xander,” she reassured him.  “I just have to include
Angel when I give Spike the shovel talk, that’s all.”

Doyle snorted.  “I don’t know how much damage you can do them with a

“It all depends on how many times I hit them with it.”  The determination
in her voice would be scary if Xander didn’t know that it was all wrapped
up in caring about him.

Xander walked over to the couch and sat down.  Immediately, Doyle was on
one side of him and Spike was on the other.  He fought the urge to roll
his eyes.  His lovers’ possessive natures could be fun, but sometimes it
went too far.  He glared at both of them, warning them silently to keep
their hands to themselves.  At least Angel was restraining himself...but
the taller man was looking a little twitchy as he moved to stand beside
the couch.

Xander looked around at the other people in the room.  Tara was smiling at
him encouragingly as she reached out to take Willow’s hand.  Riley and
Buffy had stopped talking; they were standing with her back to his chest,
with his arms around her, as they looked out over the room.  Cordelia was
staring critically down at her nails even as she twisted her wrist to
check her watch.  Giles was sitting far back in his chair, a troubled look
on his face.  Xander didn’t like to see him looking upset.  A few years
ago he would have been agonizing over how to find out what was wrong and
make it better.  With his crush gone, he still worried about his friend,
but it wasn’t the same.  He smiled a little at the older man, and received
a minuscule smile in return.  It wasn’t much, but it was a sign that
things were going to get better.

“What now?” Xander asked, relaxing back into the cushions.  Granted, he
hadn’t done any fighting, but he had done plenty of worrying, and that
would wear a guy out.

“I think it’s time for us to get going,” Buffy said quietly.

“Back to Sunnydale?  It’s awfully late.”

“Back to the hotel,” she clarified.  “I want to get an early start back

He didn’t try to push her.  He could understand her needing space, not to
mention the fact that he really didn’t want another tongue lashing.  He’d
just let her come around in her own time.

He cut his glance over to meet Willow’s and found the same understanding
in her eyes.  They’d all been friends for too long not to understand each

“I won’t wait so long for another visit,” Willow said, standing up.  She
stepped over to Xander, and he rose to meet her.  “And now that you don’t
have any more secrets...” her voice trailed away.  “You don’t, do you?”

Before Xander could answer, Doyle said, “Well, maybe we haven’t been
completely honest about Cordy-”

“Don’t you dare!” Cordelia said in a dangerous voice.

“No more secrets,” Xander promised.

“Then you’re out of excuses.  I’ll be expecting a visit soon.”

“As soon as classes end,” he said, wrapping his arms around her.  He
grinned at Tara over Willow’s shoulder.  “Maybe we’ll get together and do
a few spells.”  He watched in delight as the other woman blushed.

Willow pushed him away with a mock-scowl.  “You can do spells with your
boyfriends.  I don’t share.”  She glared at him for a moment, and then
they were both laughing.

It felt good, felt almost like old times.  It helped him to keep the smile
on his face as he met Giles’s concerned look and Buffy expressionless
“I guess this is good-bye, then.”

“Yes,” Giles agreed as Buffy nodded.

“I’ll call you,” Willow promised.  Xander walked upstairs with everyone,
glaring at his lovers to stop them from coming.  He hugged Willow one more
time, and then she and Tara were outside.  Cordelia went out with them,
speaking quietly with Willow on the street.

Xander looked up at Giles.  “It was good to see you, G-Man.”

Giles nodded.  “Xander...” he sighed.  “I’m glad you’re happy.  If you
ever need me, don’t hesitate to call.”  His eyes were dark as he spoke.

“Thanks,” Xander said.  “The same goes for you, you know.  We’re here for

Giles nodded once more and then he was out the door.  Xander stared after
him, unsure of the reason for the Watcher’s emotion.  Was he just overly
concerned about Xander’s relationships, or was something more going on?
Then Buffy was standing in front of him, and he had no more time to worry
about Giles.  “Bye, Buff,” he said quietly.

“Bye,” she replied.  She hesitated for a moment, then met his eyes.  “I’ll
call you later.”  Her voice was quiet, but her eyes were sure.

“Whenever you’re ready,” he said, smiling a little, not wanting to push.
He watched her walk outside, nodding to Riley as he passed close behind
her.  Xander waved to the Sunnydale group as he shut and locked the door.
Leaning back against the door, he smiled at the other three men.  “Alone
at last.”

“Thank god,” Doyle muttered.

“It looked like you and Willow were getting along,” Xander protested.

“We were.  We all got along, basically.  I do like her.”  He grinned
slyly.  “She told me some great stories about you.”

Xander covered his face with his hands.  He should have known.  His
parents were never going to trot out the naked baby pictures for anyone he
loved, so it was up to Willow to share all the embarrassing moments from
his childhood.  He owed her.  Next time he saw Tara, he was so telling her
all the gory details about the Great Play-Do Debacle.

His hands were pulled away from his face, and he found himself looking up
into Angel’s eyes.  “Are you all right?” the older man asked.

“Yeah.  Things could’ve gone a lot worse, you know?”

“Let’s not even think about it,” Angel said.

Xander looked past the taller man at their other lovers.  “How about you
two?  Spike, are you...”  He let his voice trail away.  Spike wasn’t going
to be answering him any time soon.  He was too busy pinning Doyle to the
wall to even notice the question.  Xander grinned.  Spike always stayed
wound up after a fight, and the tension in him grew most intense after he

His grin slipped as he watched Spike’s hands slide down Doyle’s body,
mapping his flesh until they came to cup the other man’s ass and pull him
closer.  Doyle’s hands pushed frantically at Spike’s duster, shoving it
down his shoulder.  His fingers then moved to tear at the hem of the black
t-shirt, fighting to pull it upward.

Xander swallowed hard as he watched pale skin be revealed through the
frantic efforts of the two men; the heat pouring off of them escalated as
clothing was tossed uncaringly to the floor, as Spike pushed Doyle into
the wall with more force, grinding his body against the other man’s as his
mouth traveled down the line of Doyle’s jaw, leaving a wet trial behind.

Xander closed his eyes, but the sounds of their eager contact filled his
ears:  harsh breathing, the rasp of denim against cotton, the wet sound of
Spike’s mouth against Doyle’s skin, the muted sounds and growls of
pleasure that escaped each man.  Xander’s own breathing quickened.  His
pants had ceased to be comfortable long ago.

The brush of fingers over his shoulder caused Xander’s eyes to flutter
He blinked a few times to force away the daze into which he was falling
and stared up at Angel.  He could read the emotions in the dark eyes
staring down at him:  amusement and love and a small bit of worry, all
disappearing under a growing heat that Xander felt growing within himself
as well.  He didn’t give Angel the chance to say anything; instead, he
reached out for the other man, hands cupping the back of his neck, drawing
him close.  Angel allowed himself to be pulled, holding himself quiescent,
waiting for Xander’s guidance.

Xander twisted his fingers in Angel’s hair, disordering the brown strands
as he caressed the scalp.  He pressed himself forward until he could feel
Angel against every inch, until he was so close all he could see was the
fire building in the eyes that were riveted to his own.  He tilted his
head, never breaking eye-contact, moving so that each breath that escaped
his parted lips wafted over Angel’s.  For a few moments he held himself
motionless, feeling the tension build up in his lover’s arms as Angel held
himself still, refusing to take control away from Xander.  Then Xander
moved his head, careful to keep a few millimeters of distance between his
lips and Angel’s skin, breathing over the pale skin, hot puffs of air over
the cool flesh.  When he reached the juncture of neck and shoulder, he
paused, breathing again and again over the tender skin.  Angel was
trembling noticeably, but his embrace never tightened and he never moved.
Xander wasn’t sure why he was teasing Angel; he could feel his lover’s
arousal pressing against him, and his own was a source of painful

He lifted his gaze briefly, wanting to see what Spike and Doyle were
doing, wandering if they were making sure Cordelia would refuse to sit at
her desk ever again.  He blinked in surprise as he found they were staring
at him.  Spike was naked, and Doyle’s boxers were only precariously in
place.  They had moved away from the wall, obviously intending to head
downstairs, but now were frozen in the middle of the room, eyes pinned on
him with expressions of disbelief on their faces.

“Jesus, Xander,” Doyle breathed.

“Didn’t know you had it in you,” Spike agreed, hints of gold appearing in
his eyes.

Xander lifted his head and leaned back, staring up at Angel.  His lover
had lost control of his features, slipping into vampiric guise as he
forced himself not to move, to allow Xander to completely dictate what
happened next.  His arms shook a little as Xander met his eyes, and his
tongue crept out to sweep across his lower lip, but other than that he
stayed still.

“Angel?”  Xander reached up and traced a finger over the wet path Angel’s
tongue had left behind.  The vampire immediately sucked the digit deep
into his mouth, wrapping his tongue around it and pulling on it
suggestively.  Xander moaned, leaning more heavily against Angel.  He
pulled his finger away slowly, feeling Angel’s lips cling to it, resisting
its removal at every inch.  As he freed the tip, the very end of his
finger traced the tip of Angel’s fang.  Xander felt the skin part, and
when he looked at the tip, blood was welling up from the small cut.
Looking up into Angel’s golden eyes, he slowly slid his finger into his
own mouth.

A moment later, he was grabbed roughly from behind and spun around.  His
eyes widened as Spike practically snarled in his face.  “Angel might be
able to let you get away with that.  *I’m* not.”  The blond man reached
out and tore Xander’s finger out of his mouth.  He lunged forward, but
before he could capture Xander’s lips, Xander was once again jerked

This time he was staring at Angel as the taller man glared past him at
Spike.  “Thanks for the help, but I can take care of this.”  He turned his
still-golden gaze on Xander, and the younger man shivered at the predatory
look turned on him.  He had enough time to see Doyle none-too-gently knock
Spike to the floor of the office and then Angel’s mouth was on his, tongue
forcing its way between his lips, sweeping around the warm cavern and
marking it as his own.

Xander wanted to respond, but Angel gave him no chance.  He too was borne
to the floor, pushed down onto the new carpet and crushed beneath Angel’s
His clothing disappeared, torn away by urgent hands.  He tried to
reciprocate, wanted to caress Angel and feel the firm muscles under his
palms, wanted to watch as Angel shuddered with pleasure at his touch, but
the other man gave him no chance.  Instead, the older man pinned Xander’s
wrists to the carpet by his sides, holding him down as his mouth descended
voraciously down on Xander’s erection.

Xander howled, thrusting uncontrollably into the coolness that surround
him. He couldn’t do much, held down by the other man’s greater strength,
but he was unable to hold still, couldn’t help his frantic pursuit of completion.
 He could feel it overtaking him in a rush, an uncontrollable wave that
pushed him to the edge of awareness until he was sobbing Angel’s name.

Angel pulled back as Xander lay boneless beneath him, releasing his wrists
and stroking his hands down the sweaty flanks.  Xander didn’t even
consider moving; it would have required being aware of his arms and legs,
even if he had been able to find the energy to make an attempt.  He
cracked an eye open and let his head loll over to the side, vaguely
wondering what Spike and Doyle were doing.

His lips parted as he discovered what Doyle was doing:  Spike.  Doyle was
pressed up against his back as they kneeled close by.  As Xander watched,
Doyle leaned back, taking Spike back with him, pressing himself even more
deeply inside the other man.  One of Doyle’s hands was wrapped around
Spike’s erection, fingers entwined with those of one of Spike’s hands as
he pumped in time with his ever-quickening thrusts.  Spike’s head was
thrown back, the cords of his neck standing out in sharp relief as he
repeated Doyle’s name in an ecstatic litany.  They came together, howls
rising at the same time before they slumped to the ground in a sated heap.

Angel gave them all of two seconds to recover before demanding to know
where Doyle got lube from.  The green-eyed man smirked at him and tossed a
thin tube over.  Angel caught it, and in the same fluid movement he
flipped Xander over onto his stomach.

Xander went with it; he was still worn out, so he had no problem with just
following Angel’s lead.  He murmured in a pleased tone as fingers breached
his opening, carefully preparing him with as much haste as possible.
Large hands jerked him up to his knees, but he left his shoulders on the
ground, using what strength he had to hold himself in that position.

His murmurs transformed into cries of pleasure as Angel thrust into him,
nearly knocking flat with the power of his movement.  A hot mouth wandered
hungrily over his back, fangs tracing exotic patterns as they scraped the
skin.  Xander felt himself harden once more, and one of his hands wandered
down to his erection, seeking to wrap around his flesh.

“Mine,” Angel growled.  “You made me wait upon your pleasure; now I’m in
control.”  He knocked Xander’s hand away, thrusting harder and faster.

Xander moaned and pushed himself up a little.  The movement brought Spike
and Doyle into his field of view and he felt himself harden even further
at the sight of the two men exchanging deep, wet kisses as they thrust
lazily against each other.  Xander thrust back against Angel, need rising
in him once more.

Angel shifted position, the new angle causing him to brush against
Xander’s prostate with every stroke.  Xander gasped Angel’s name again and
again, turning it into a chant of love and passion and need.  A few
strokes more and he was coming, barely aware of Angel’s finally push
forward and roar of completion.

Xander collapsed onto the carpet, Angel’s weight welcome on his back.  He
didn’t care that he was naked in the middle of the office, didn’t care
that he was exhausted and didn’t think he could make it downstairs, didn’t
care that he wouldn’t be able to walk for a week.  All that mattered was
that he was still with his lovers, still in the home he’d found and never
wanted to lose.  He looked over at Spike and Doyle and smiled softly at
them as they lay inches away, wrapped around each other with identical
pleased looks on their faces.

He stretched out his hand to them, and sighed as two hands closed around
his.  Warm and cool, both felt like love.  Both felt like home.

He wriggled a little, realizing he was lying in a wet spot.  Which really
didn’t bother him, except...  “We’ve completely blown the no sex in the
office rule.”

“Cordelia’s going to have a litter,” Doyle agreed.

“Worth it,” Spike said.

Angel just sighed and relaxed even more on top of Xander.

Knowing that they weren’t going anywhere any time soon, Xander relaxed,
Spike was right.  It was worth it - not just the sex, everything:  the
relationship, the confrontation with his friends, taking classes, fighting
evil, all of it.  It was all worth it, because in the end they were
together, wrapped up in desire and need and love.


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