Beauty Effulgent

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Sunday Morning Coming Down


Xander made it home before the shaking started. He’d barely been able to get the key in the lock to open the door and now beer was sloshing over his hand as he raised the bottle to his lips. He closed his eyes and rubbed the cold bottle over his hot forehead, trying to get a coherent thought out of the constant “what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck,” racing through his mind.

He walked into the living room and dropped onto the couch, letting his legs sprawl out as he propped the beer bottle between them. He’d wanted to wipe that knowing smirk off of Spike’s face and he’d succeeded…by sucking it off. He exhaled harshly as he had a quick flash of his hand trying to tangle into harsh, gelled hair, his tongue thrusting into a mouth that wasn’t warm but still sent heat spiraling to the pit of his stomach. The tip of Spike’s tongue rubbing against the underside of his, teasing him, letting Xander set the rules but still proving whose game they were playing.

Sometimes men just fuck. God, had he really said that? Well, it had sounded cool in his head. Actually, it had sounded cool coming out of his mouth, like finally being able to deliver the perfect comeback in the heat of the moment instead thinking of it later, after you’d slunk home in defeat.

But he was just so goddamn tired of seeing that superior, ‘you know you want it’ look, like he wasn’t just supposed to eagerly jump the body it was attached to, but bow down in babbling worship to the knowledge he was the recipient of said look. Cordelia. Faith. Hell, even virginal, pre-gay now Willow had known she was in the power place with him.

And Anya, well, she hadn’t been quite so Mistress of Her Domain with him, at first, but even back then, she had known he was helpless in the face of ‘naked chick with fist full of black latex.’

When had he ever gotten to be the one to drop the look? Play the predator, the seducer, be the man? Even Buffy, after all of his lovesick attempts with cheap jewelry and Ken and Barbie, ‘Wanna go to the dance?’ lines, had been the one grinding her ass into his crotch, making the rules and then stopping the play the second she scored her point against Angel.

He choked on the swallow of beer, burning the inside of his nose and ending up doubled over in a clumsy, jerky coughing fit. Not thinking about Buffy and grinding. Or Anya and how many multi-colored condoms it took to get over a crush. Which left his little power play with Spike, and that way be madness.

So. Sitting. Drinking. Not thinking. And why the hell was he more freaked out that he’d try to out-badass the Big Bad than suffering total brain-babble overload over guy! and vamp! and the insane Hellmouth logic of How to Get Rid of Your Immortal Stalker in Five Easy Tongue Moves.

Yeah, I showed him. I’m dark and dangerous and not to be the object of some demented demon’s purity complex. I’m not some…dude in distress, waiting on my terrace for my dark prince in creaking leather to rescue me with his cool hair and his slippery, slidey smartass tongue. I was in control, hard and firm and…Xander groaned, tugging at his pants leg to ease the pressure on his fly…and I am not thinking about this!

He picked up the remote and turned the stereo on, hitting the first programmed radio station button.

You let me violate you. You let me desecrate you…

No. Click.

Dressed me up in women’s clothes, messed around with gender roles, line my eyes and call me pretty…

Huh-uh. Click.

But wherever I have gone, I was sure to find myself there - you can run all your life but not go anywhere…

Oh, well that’s perfect. Click.

Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance, and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance...I hope you dance...

And, okay, I don’t even know what that one means. Click.

Xander’s hand tightened on the beer bottle and then slid up the neck slickly as his head fell back against the couch. Giving in, he pressed the hard glass against the throbbing heat between his legs. One hand, cold and wet, popped the buttons on his jeans and then slid inside, making him gasp and tense as its coolness touched hard, overheated skin. Cold hands, warm cock…

Help me. It's your sex I can smell. Help me. You make me perfect. Help me become somebody else.

Spike lit another cigarette, cupping his hand tightly to make sure the glow wasn’t visible from the street. He was certain that Harris was in there, he could see shadows move once in a while, like someone was going from room to room or maybe just pacing slowly in mad circles.

A shadow crossed again in front of the window and Spike eased back into the cover of the overhanging branches, slipping the glowing tip of the cigarette behind his back. He’d started to follow Xander from the cemetery, and then changed direction and headed over to the Summers' house, determined to find out what the hell kind of spell Red had put on the boy to make him channel his inner Angelus.

He’d walked into a house divided, Willow wavering from tears to anger as the Watcher defended his decision to go back to England, the blonde witch trying to calm things down and Dawn just looking freaked. Seems Xander had been there earlier, lost his shit and took off looking to kill something.

And he found me. Spike snorted, raising the cigarette to his lips again. Insert staking innuendo here. So, Rupert’s heading off to the mother country and leaving the kiddies to mind the family business. And demon girl’s following after him – that’s…interesting.

Spike studied tip of his cigarette, wondering again what he was doing out here. He’d just come to make sure Harris had made it home. No telling what kind of nasties he would have attracted, and decided to take on, state that he was in. Not following him or anything. Hadn’t been – that’d all been in Harris’ over-active and always amusing imagination.

Yeah, he’d decided to have a little fun about that first kiss. He’d figured it wasn’t something that would ever happen again, and if he couldn’t get his end off one way, taking the piss with the boy would be almost as good. But that second kiss…oh, fuck me, he thought, tossing the cigarette away in disgust, and then looking around carefully before bending down to snuff it out and slip into his pocket. No sense in proving the git right.

He glared up at Xander’s apartment window. He wasn’t bloody doing this again. At first it had been vaguely comforting. Standing, smoking, watching. Old habits, familiar haunts.

Observing the boy patrol this summer, seeing that wild-eyed look that had replaced the mixture of fear and determination he’d always worn. Listening to the silence between him and Anyanka when he’d walked them home. The grim resolve on the boy’s face while he played groundskeeper to a hero’s grave.

The wonder, shame and scared-shitlessness that had underscored his drunken laughter. The same feelings that had flavored that kiss tonight. Finding a bit of that darkness within. Spike closed his eyes, letting Xander’s words come back to him. Don’t want you on a pedestal, mate. His body shuddered lightly with memory Xander’s mouth on his. You can’t change the world on the strength of one kiss. He opened his eyes, looked up at the now darkened windows above him one last time before he stepped off the walkway, heading back into the darkness.

The screaming woke Xander. White Knight or not, five years of ingrained responses had him out of bed, on his feet and searching the near darkness for weapons. His hand clenching on an axe handle, his heart pounding and his breath whistling in his throat he found the source of the unholy noise. The clock-radio. The screaming was Axl Rose. It was time to get ready for work. Fuck.

Xander dropped back down on the bed, letting the axe fall to the floor as he rubbed his hand down his face and let his heart slow from the combination of waking to the howls of hell – or at least their 80s rock equivalent – ripping him from that dream.

One week. Almost one week since Anya and Spike and Giles. One week since he’d sat in the living room – the very living room where, a few hours earlier, his girlfriend had walked out for the last time – and had one of the most powerful orgasms of his life. An orgasm that left him shaky and sweaty and with cottonmouth that had nothing do with residual hangover effects.

One week of going to work, avoiding anything with Scooby overtones or that held the possibility of seeing demons, former or otherwise. Not that it mattered, since his dreams were filled with images of blue-eyed devils with pouty lips whispering obscene promises as they ground down on his. One week of jerking off silently in the shower, if he hadn’t already woken up with his shorts sticking to him and a gasp on his lips.

Sober faced, he pushed himself up off the bed and walked toward the shower, telling his hands to keep to themselves this time. He gave up that battle even before he had his boxers down his thighs.

An extra long shower and a stern self-talking to later, he was toweling off and digging through his closet for a clean t-shirt when the phone rang. A disturbing event at 6:00 a.m., even in a non-demon populated world.



Great. Willow.


“Sorry to call so early, but, um…it’s Saturday.”


“Well, today is,” he heard her clear her throat nervously. “We’re taking Giles and, um, Anya to the airport.” She waited, but Xander didn’t say anything. “So I thought you could meet us over here around 7:00, and we’d all go together…?”

“Not going, Will.” His hand tightened on the receiver and he started counting the number of sentences he’d have to go through before he could end this call.

“Xander…you’re not going to say goodbye? It’s Giles.”

He heard the hurt, surprise and disappointment in her voice and sighed. “Willow – what I think about Giles going back to England…trust me, he doesn’t want to hear. And I can’t deal right now with…Anya and I have said it all. It would just be wrong to do it again.”

“Xander, I don’t think that’s true. You should see how…”

“Anyway,” he cut in, feeling petty and mean for doing it, “I have to work today.”

“But…it’s Saturday.”

“And you know I work extra shifts on Saturdays,” he said patiently.

“But, just this once…”

“Willow. Love ya, but no. Sorry. Not going to argue about this. Tell Giles,” he stopped as he tried to sum up five years in a few words. Five years of memories, not all of which had to with life saving and demon killing. “Tell him I said thanks and good luck.”

There was silence from Willow’s end and then a soft, “Okay. But if you change your mind?”

“I’ll let you know.”

They said nothing for a moment and then Willow ended the call with a quiet goodbye. Xander pressed the end button and stood there, wondering when he was going to stop feeling like the asshole king of the world.

He dropped the phone onto the bed and then reached into the closet, yanking a shirt off the hanger and then stopping when he realized it what it was. Willow’s Sunnydale t-shirt. He wadded it into his hands and then let it fall to the floor. Damn it.


Giles looked back at him, a bag in his hand and a look of cautious surprise on his face. “Xander.” Giles stepped back a little, letting him into the apartment. “I thought you were Willow and the girls.”

“Nope. Just me.” Xander rubbed his hands together, looking around the bare apartment. The sofa and bookshelves were still there, but the books, the albums, the Scotch, everything that had made it Giles, was gone.

Xander felt Giles' eyes on him, watching him as he looked around the emptied room. When he turned to look, however, a bland look slipped into place and Giles smiled, saying, “Willow and Tara are arranging for some of the larger items to be held in storage. It looks rather strange, doesn’t it? Larger.”

“Well, that’s because it’s not full of kids and pizza boxes,” Xander said with a half-smile. “Good times. Thanksgiving – oh wait, Indians and syphilis. Uh, Halloween? Tiny demons and chocolate?”

Giles nodded, his smile widening a bit. “Spike chained in the bathtub, caterwauling for his telly and cup of blood.”

The smile slid from Xander’s face. “Yeah. Good times.”

“Xander,” Giles sighed as he dropped his bag to the floor. “I know you’re not in total agreement with my decision…”

“Listen, Giles,” he dropped his head, staring at his work boots for a moment. “No, I’m not.” He raised his eyes, meeting Giles’ calm and attentive gaze. “I think you’re making a huge mistake. I know that without Buffy here, you don’t think there’s any reason for you to stay.” Xander exhaled slowly, his hands settling on his hips and clenching tightly. “And that really pisses me off. The Hellmouth, end of the world not a problem, whatever,” he said, waving off Giles’ attempt at an answer. “But that you would leave just because Buffy isn’t here?”

“I really think that you and Willow have it in you, and are ready to handle this, Xander.” Giles shook his head, reaching to slide his glasses up and rub tiredly at his eyes. “There isn’t really anything left for me to teach you.”

“I’m not talking about the mission, Giles. I’m talking about five years of going to you with our problems and our successes, or lack of, and that fact that you’ve somehow forgotten that there were three of us.”

Giles looked back at him for a moment, a look of shock and hurt spreading over his face. “That’s what you think? That I’m leaving because I don’t care about the rest of you? Xander, you have to know how much you and Willow, as well as Dawn, have meant to me. I’m not leaving you. I’m leaving because I can’t stay here and face this every day. The fact that everything I’ve ever worked for is gone. This isn’t my fight any longer.”

“But it’s still ours?”

“Oh, dear Lord,” Giles said softly, reaching out to Xander and then dropping his hand. “I’m sorry, Xander, so terribly sorry. I never even asked, I just assumed…” His hand reached out again, this time taking Xander’s arm gently. “Of course I can’t leave here just expecting you to take on responsibility you were never meant to face. I’ll talk to the Council,” he said, nodding decisively, “surely there’s something we can…”

“Giles.” Xander reached up, lightly grasping the hand on his arm. “It’s all right. That’s just something I’m, ah, working through right now. Willow will take care of it. And I’ll take care of her.”

Giles laughed shortly, giving Xander’s arm one last squeeze and then stepping back. “You’re letting me off rather lightly there.”

Xander smiled sadly. “You didn’t agree to stay.”

He started to turn toward the door, and then looked back, finding his mouth suddenly dry. “Giles, I, uh, look, it still sucks that you’re leaving, and I’m retaining the right to stay pissed off about it, but I just want you to know…” Xander trailed off, shaking his head as could find nothing, not even some babbling nonsense, to express what he felt.

Giles smiled at him gently. “I understand not being able to find the words, Xander. It’s enough that you want to say them.”

Xander nodded, his lips quirking in the first real smile he’d had in days. He turned, his hand reaching for the door, and then he was rushing back over and grabbing Giles in a rough hug. “Take care of her,” he said hoarsely, pulling away and walking out of the apartment.

Part Seven

“Closer” by NIN

“Laid” by James

“Ball and Chain” by Social Distortion

“I Hope You Dance” by LeAnn Womack

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