Rating: NC-17 overall
Disclaimer: Joss owns them. I’m just playing in his sandbox while he’s not looking.
Summary: ALL human AU. Characters from BtVS and AtS appear, but not exactly as we know them.
A/N: Takes place largely in Texas, which is a state I’m not familiar with. Geographical errors are entirely mine as I don’t use a beta.
Warning: There are some Buffy/Angel moments in this fic. And some other pairings have slipped in. Ones I wasn't expecting. But as always, nothing graphic aside from the S/X of course, because... ewwwww. Still, they're there. Sorry.
Word Count: 83,127
Long, hot, kinda crappy day… and it was showing no signs of getting any better, regardless of the fact that the sun had been down below the horizon line for a good three hours.
Xander groaned and cocked his head, first one way and then the other, trying to loosen the knots of tension and strain in his shoulders.
Then again, he only had himself to blame, he figured. Nobody had forced him to volunteer for fetch-duty; he’d just wanted off the site for a little while, not to mention that a few hours in the air conditioned cab of his beat up old pickup truck had sounded pretty damned good after sweating in the hot sun since just about daybreak.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t considered the amount of straining and heaving he’d be required to do while getting the twelve fifty pound sacks of cement compound in and out of the bed of the truck… nor that once he’d returned the bags to the purveyor, he’d be tired, cranky, and nearly a hundred miles from home, all of which told him something he’d already known.
“I am just not so good with the planning, or not this time, anyway…” he muttered, a smile breaking across his lips as the country station started playing the next song, which was… oddly appropriate, somehow. “Some beach, indeed.”
He wondered sometimes whether he’d made a mistake in leaving home to move to the ‘wilds’ of Texas, but mostly he didn’t have any regrets. It wasn’t as though he’d had much of a choice, aside from destination, anyway. He’d made a deal and he would have felt worthless if he hadn’t stuck by it.
He missed his seeing friends some, of course, because phone calls just weren’t the same as hanging out, but he’d made a few new friends and the constant ache had faded over the last few years and… he was good at what he did. Hell, Mickey even said he might make foreman someday soon if he kept working the way he had been. He was already the youngest shift supervisor in the company.
Of course, that didn’t mean much other than that he was responsible if any of his crew screwed up, but still. It showed that they had faith in him and if there was one thing Xander appreciated, it was that these people who’d hardly known him at all when he’d started had shown more confidence in him than his own family had… at least openly before he’d left. Since then was another story, but…
So yeah. It had been a long, hard, crappy day—and was likely to continue that way for at least another hour because he still had a good seventy miles to drive—but when he finally got home, there were a hot shower and cold beer waiting, both with his metaphorical name on them, and… things could be worse.
Long, thick fingers caressed the custom knob at the top of the stick shift and he punched the clutch, easing into fourth and pressing harder on the accelerator, kicking the old truck up to eighty. There was almost never any traffic on this stretch of road, and even if he did get caught speeding by one of the good-old-boy cops they’d probably cut him loose with a warning once they heard about the day he’d had. Or not.
Either way, though, Xander figured it was worth the risk. He’d gladly pay a speeding ticket if it ended up getting him home even ten minutes sooner than going the posted limit.
“And thank God tomorrow’s Saturday. Sleep, sleep, more sleep… and maybe I’ll splurge on dinner at Mamacita’s.” Hell, his mouth was already watering at just the thought of the spicy chipotle salsa and deep fried chile rellenos the small restaurant specialized in. It helped that he wouldn’t have to dress well, too, since Mamacita’s catered mostly to day laborers and those like himself who were a step above that due to having regular employment, be they American citizens or not.
Still, the tiny hole in the wall was comfortable and they welcomed him there, though if anyone had told Xander even five years earlier that he’d be sitting down happily with assorted immigrants, most of whom were illegal, he would have thought they were crazy… and even more so if they’d informed him that he would live a mere four blocks from such a place, but…
Time changed everything, he knew… especially young men. He was the living, breathing proof of that. Hell, he doubted anyone back home would recognize him these days… on more than a superficial level, anyway.
Long, hard, crappy day aside… Xander figured he was happy with his life. As happy as he could be, considering the truly ugly breakup he’d been through only… “God, has it really been a year? I so need to start going out again.”
Maybe he wouldn’t go to Mamacita’s after all.
It was while he was debating that very question that he saw the car stopped on the side of the road ahead, tail lights glowing in the darkness almost dramatically.
Had he still been in California, he probably would have driven on by, but… time really had changed him. Time and Texas, anyway, and it was still a good ten miles to I-35. He might be the only car to pass by for a very long time and… he would feel guilty in about three seconds if he didn’t at least stop to see if he could help.
Decision made, Xander flipped on his turn signal and slowed rapidly, abusing his clutch as he slid to a gentle stop behind the…
“Oh, wow,” he called, deliberately sounding friendly and harmless as he hopped down from the cab of his truck, “I love your car! It’s… slick.”
He strolled towards the front of the stopped vehicle, eyes taking in every detail of the sleek machine that was visible in the headlights of his truck. “I always wanted one of those, but I hear they’re a bitch to keep up.”
The voice that responded, when it came, was muffled behind the open hood, but not so much so that Xander didn’t immediately notice the accent.
He shivered just a bit, ordering his body to relax although it tried to rebel. He’d always had a thing for English accents… even when he’d thought he was straight, and yes, he was deliberately ignoring the fact that he’d grown up surrounded by more than one of them.
“Yes, well,” the voice said, sounding rather disgusted, “I suppose this particular instance merely proves that hypothesis. It has been close to an hour and I’ve yet to determine what in the blazes is wrong with this bloody infernal machine!”
Two dark brows rose and Xander stepped closer to the front end. “I’m not a mechanic or anything, but I could take a look at it if you want. I’ve gotten kind of handy, what with my truck trying to die on me at least once a week.”
His breath caught when the voice heaved a relieved sigh and the body it belonged to stepped from behind the cover of the hood. “I… wow, I… uh, hi. I’m Xander Harris…”
The man was rather large, William saw. Large and toned and dark and… He swallowed hard, nodding at the greeting. “I… yes, of course. I…” And those eyes were so deep, so dark, or maybe that was just the night. Yes, it must be so, he thought. Darkness was kind to everyone, after all, and it just wasn’t possible that this man—this ‘Xander’—could truly be as attractive as he seemed in the dim glow of stars and headlights.
“I’m sorry,” he said, shaking off his stupor. “My name is S… William. William Barrington. Please, call me Will. And if you can truly assist me, I will be most grateful.” And why the bloody hell was he coming off as a complete and utter pillock? This bloke was clearly out of his league, and most likely straight, besides.
God, that face… it was incredible, Xander realized, and somehow slightly familiar, although… no, he was sure he’d remember if he’d met this man before, what with the soft, full pink lips… cheekbones sharp enough to wound with a careless toss of the head… wide, light eyes beneath arched, mobile brows, the left of which was equally expressive, even with the scar that made the man look dashing… forehead high, but not too high… and that full head of thick, wavy blond hair.
‘Wheaten’, Xander thought silently because the word was perfectly descriptive but way too gay to say out loud. God, this Will was beautiful… and that was another too-gay thought to be spoken, regardless of how true it might be.
He barely let himself glance at the body beneath the face that had him so captivated, eyes raking quickly down, then up before settling on those pale eyes again.
“Will. Hi.” Xander blushed, thanking God that it was too dark for the other man to see it. “Uh. So. What say I check under your hood?”
‘Yes, please do,’ William thought, although in his head it meant something entirely different from what Xander was clearly asking.
“I… Yes, please do,” he managed to agree, only forcing himself to step aside at the last minute, right leg dragging slightly.
The blond was nervous. That was all Xander could think. Will was nervous, and… he supposed he couldn’t blame him. Middle of the night, car broken down on a little-used road far from the highway… add in some stranger coming along reeking of sweat and covered in dust, dirt and all manner of other things that hadn’t bothered Xander until just that moment, and… ‘God, Will must think this is some sort of ‘Deliverance’ thing… would he squeal…? I bet he would. Right after he finished begging me to… okay. I so need to get out more. He’s totally not acting like he’s even aware of the fact that I’m a guy, which has to mean he’s not gay, so… stop dreaming, see what’s wrong with his car and move on. Now.’
Xander shifted a little and moved to the front of the car, glad for an excuse to bend over. His half-hard cock wouldn’t be obvious in the shadows, after all.
William watched, bottom lip between his teeth as the taller man’s capable hands moved over hoses and valves, his body humming softly as he considered what it might be like to feel those work-roughened palms against his skin.
Not that he’d ever find out, of course, but… he’d never had a lover with work calluses or rough skin. The thick patches from sports and such, certainly, but not from straining away day in and day out to earn a living, and this man—this Xander—was clearly a working man. He even smelled… earthy and raw and delicious, which surprised him. He’d never been the sort to find perspiration appealing, but… on Xander, it was stunning and arousing and so very, very good that it was bad.
‘Oh, bloody hell… please let him fix the sodding car so I can drive away and not embarrass myself here. Xander is exceedingly straight. Also, clearly from around here. He’d likely beat me to death for even thinking about him this way…’
And still, William found his eyes traveling slowly over that broad back, down to the round ass covered by well-worn jeans. ‘God help me…’
The coffee was an inspired thought, Xander was sure. At least pulling in at the truck stop let him sit across from Will and notice the uncanny shades of blue that made up the other man’s eyes. He hadn’t been able to tell their exact shade earlier, but now… oh, he would spend weeks imagining those eyes looking up at him as those pink lips and tongue tormented him mercilessly, and that was a bad thought to be having at the moment although the table between them hid his body’s reaction from the subject of his thoughts.
“Seriously, Will,” Xander found himself saying, “Don’t worry about it. I have a friend who works on cars as a sideline. He probably has an alternator that’ll work, okay? I’ll just get up early tomorrow and swing by his place. We’ll have your car up and running by noon if I have anything to say about it.” He grinned, pretty sure he was keeping the interest out of his face.
William found himself blushing slightly. “Oh, but that’s entirely too much to ask, Xander. I’ll simply call the auto club and have them tow it for me. I… it wouldn’t be right to impose any further upon your kind nature.” Besides which, if he had to spend any more time than necessary with the other man, he’d likely slip up and give some sort of clue to just how attracted he was. It had been bad enough out in the darkness, but here, under the florescent lights…? Xander was even more appealing than he’d seemed, which shouldn’t have been possible.
Eyes so dark they were almost black, and yet so warm; so full of gentleness and kindness… a wide, red-lipped mouth that covered even, white teeth… somewhat bushy brows which only served to give the man a rather hungry look whenever those eyes were half-lidded, as they were now… thick, dark hair that begged for slender, pale fingers to thread through it and hold on tightly while Xander…
“God, no…” William groaned, not as silently as he’d hoped.
“Oh… oh, okay,” Xander said sadly, looking away from the man he was so caught up in, “I… yeah. That’s fine. I mean, I’m sure you have things to do anyway and I guess it’d be better to have a real mechanic take care of things, so it’s cool. I get it. I’ll just, uh… drop you off somewhere, okay? Unless you want to call someone to pick you up because I’m sure my truck isn’t that comfortable. I mean, I know there’s a spring on the passenger side that can be kind of, um… uncomfortable and…”
William blinked, then blinked again. “I… no. I mean… bloody hell! I wasn’t… that’s not what I… oh, bloody hell. I… I would very much appreciate a lift home, if it wouldn’t put you out too terribly much. And as for the other, it is simply… I would hate for you to spend what little leisure you have… working, Xander. It doesn’t seem quite fair. Amy would likely spank me for even suggesting it if she weren’t in London at the moment.”
“Amy?” The name was accompanied by a curious tone and a glance that Xander hoped didn’t seem too prying.
Blue eyes gleamed for a moment as Will thought of his friend. “Yes… I suppose one might say that she is my best girlfriend. We’ve known each other for… years, now.”
‘Been together for years’, Xander translated, his heart sinking even though he’d already known Will’s orientation. “Likes to spank you, does she?” he teased, “I’d heard that about you English guys. Always up for a little kink, huh?”
William found himself blushing and looking away. “I… I meant in the figurative sense. Amy would be quite… shocked at the notion, I believe.” He cleared his throat and swallowed hard. “But as I was saying before your little jaunt down none-of-your-business lane…?” He smiled. “I merely do not wish you to spend your time away from work engaging in an activity which I am convinced will be a chore, rather than a pleasure.”
The brunette shrugged, trying to keep the happy grin from his lips. “Seriously, Will, I don’t mind. I kinda feel… responsible for you in a way and if I don’t see this through and make sure everything’s okay, I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering what might have happened. Uh, to that ‘65 Corvette of yours, I mean.”
And that was better, William told himself. They could talk about the car and Xander would never know that the stranger he’d rescued was an enormous bloody poof. Then they’d get the car working, Xander’s sense of honor would be appeased, and William could stop courting a baseball bat to the head.
“All right, then. But if we are to see to the vehicle in the morning, perhaps it might be wise to…” William arched a brow towards the door.
Xander nearly sighed, not quite willing to start driving again, but then their waitress stopped by and started giving Will that oh-so-interested look and suddenly the thought of being in his truck and on the road alone with the other man gained radically in appeal. “Yeah… let’s go.”
There was a brief disagreement as to who would pay, but William won by pointing out that he’d have had to pay much more for a taxi, if he’d been fortunate enough to have one pass him whilst stranded.
“In fact,” he insisted as they pulled back onto the highway, “I believe a cup of coffee to be the least of what I owe you.”
Xander laughed and shook his head, turning the radio on soft and low. “Fine,” he answered without thinking, “You can buy me dinner tomorrow night, but then we’re even, okay?”
William flushed deeply but managed to keep his voice steady as he replied. “Of course. I would be honored to do so. Are you familiar with the new restaurant at the Ritz downtown?”
Another longer and much heartier laugh later, Xander found his voice. “Uh, that would be a no. Are you familiar with Mamacita’s?”
It wasn’t until a few miles later, after much comparing of the food items available at each establishment that Xander realized he’d made a date with Will. Not a real date, obviously, because Will had Aaaaaaaamy, but still, he’d be spending most of the next day with the blond and he just knew he was going to spend the majority of that time hard as a rock and possibly twice as dense. God knew what he’d say or do.
Hell, Will would probably end up having him thrown in jail.
Bright side, of course… at least in jail, he was likely to get laid.
Regardless of the fact that Xander clearly wasn’t interested, William had taken great care in dressing that morning, selecting an old and soft pair of faded jeans and one of the tight shirts from his… former life, along with a light jacket whose arms were knotted around his waist.
The special boot that fit over his right ankle wasn’t obviously different from the left, or not at a casual glance, and that was perhaps a good reason to be glad Xander was merely being friendly with his invitation to dinner, if it could be called an invitation since William was paying, but… thinking too much about that made his head hurt and his blue eyes tear, so William put it from his mind and tried not to look too relieved when Xander’s friend Chuy finally drove off in Xander’s truck.
“So…” Xander said quickly, brows waggling hopefully, “since she’s running again, why don’t you show me how good you are behind the wheel?” And God help him, but that had sounded like a come on. “I mean, I’m guessing you’re one hell of a driver.” ‘Oh, that’s so much better…’
William nearly swallowed his own tongue before reminding himself that Xander had no idea of how he was taking the perfectly innocuous comments. “I… yes. I have been known to drive well, although perhaps a bit fast and hard. I’m afraid that only my contributions to the Police Benevolent Fund have kept me from losing my license thus far.” He looked down, blushing even though he’d taken care to position the dangling arms of his jacket just-so at the front of his jeans. “Perhaps you’d like to climb in and I’ll show you…?”
Jesus fucking Christ. If he didn’t lose the porn-brain, Xander just knew he was going to do something bad. Something wrong. Unforgivable, even. So as much as he wanted to reply to the flirtatious sounding words in kind, he didn’t. Will didn’t mean it like that and he knew it.
He opened the passenger side door and folded himself carefully into the seat with a soft groan as his cock was pinched between the crease of his thigh and his own jeans which were suddenly far too snug.
“Are you alright?” William demanded as he settled himself behind the wheel, “You sounded a bit… sexy… uncomfortable just now.”
Xander swallowed hard and nodded, staring out through the windshield. “Yeah… I’m fine. It was just kind of hard to get inside… uh, a tight fit…" Oh, God, he was so going to hell. "It’s been a while,” he finished in an effort to make some sort of sense that wasn’t pornographic; “I’m used to the truck, y’know?”
This was a very bad idea, William told himself yet again. Every single thing Xander said was sounding like a proposition to him, no matter how much the other man didn’t mean it that way. It was… disturbing. Or disappointing, rather. That the stunning brunette had no interest, he meant.
“Yes, well…” William smiled slightly and shifted into gear after starting the car and revving the engine, “If you’ll just relax and perhaps wriggle around a bit, I’m sure you’ll find the sweet spot. It’s actually quite comfortable once you’ve gotten settled. Pleasant, even. Trust me, Xander. It took me a good bit of time to get used to it myself.” And bloody hell, he was getting worse and worse. Xander would likely kill him if he noticed even half of the innuendo. Luckily the man didn’t and William was counting his blessings in that. “So… where is this Mamacita’s, then? I’m rather looking forward to trying something new. Something… hot,” he said with relish.
It was true, too. His family had never been much for spicy foods, although the little William had tried had delighted him.
Xander’s mouth was opening and closing like a fish drowning on air, but he counted himself fortunate that William was driving at the time and didn’t notice. ‘Wiggle around some and it’ll feel nicer? Is that what he just said? Jesus-fuck! If he talks like that all the time, I’m amazed he hasn’t been propositioned by every big, nelly queer between here and San Antonio!’
“I, uh… I’ll navigate,” Xander finally said after searching for a non-suggestive word for a good few seconds.
“Right, then,” William answered with a smile, his hands caressing the leather steering wheel cover lovingly, “you tell me what to do and I’m happy to oblige, Xander.” Because try as he might, he couldn’t manage to keep everything he said from sounding like an invitation, and… Xander didn’t seem to notice anyway, so why censor himself? It wasn’t as though he’d ever be seeing the darker man again, after all, sad as that thought made him. “Direct me to your satisfaction,” he murmured, eyes locked on the swiftly darkening road.
William was coughing even as he laughed at the sheer bliss and humor of the habanero pepper he’d just tried to eat. His eyes were watering, his throat was screaming, and he thought his tongue had possibly just tried to escape into his sinuses, but at the same time it was just so good!
He was amazed by the place Xander had brought him, and not only because he hadn’t truly known that such places existed.
He was amazed by the fact that while it was somewhat dank and dirty and smelled just a bit strange, it was also… homey. Welcoming, perhaps. More so than any of the establishments he’d frequented since coming back to Dallas, anyway.
Still more shocking was the fact that… he liked it.
It was true, though.
He liked this dingy little hole that could be called a restaurant only by virtue of the waist-high wall between the so-called kitchen and the alleged dining room. He liked the fact that he didn’t truly belong there. He liked the food, as odd as it seemed to him. Hell, he even liked the somewhat suspicious glances he was still getting from several of the rough-looking men and women at the other tables. But most of all… most of all, he liked that he was there with Xander and that the other man was smiling at him as though they were friends.
They weren’t, of course, and never would be. Men like Xander—strong, manly men with muscles like that and that sort of ease with themselves—were never friends with fellows like him. Still, for the moment, William could pretend.
His eyes stopped watering finally and he lifted the paper—it was paper!—napkin to blot them when a big, strong hand stopped him, thick fingers warm against his skin.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Will,” Xander said quickly. “Not unless you want to go blind in one eye, anyway, and believe me. Not a pleasant experience.” He winked. “Habanero juice,” he added, by way of explanation.
William glanced quickly at the napkin in his hand and blushed, seeing the damp spot at the corner. “Oh, bloody… yes, I can see that I might want to avoid such a thing. After all, only one eye would hardly do you justice.” He swallowed quickly. “I’d likely wreck my car, and that would be a shame after you went to so much trouble to repair it.”
Dear God… the guy was driving him bug-fuck nuts. Half his comments sounded like come-ons and the other half completely cancelled them out. Hell, Xander didn’t know what to say or do but if he didn’t get Will to either stop or maybe offer up his sweet ass in the next five seconds, he was going to scream.
“Y-yeah,” Xander growled softly. “Maybe we should call it a night, huh?” A guy could only take so much, after all, and… Jesus, the spank bank was screaming for a withdrawal.
William frowned slightly, but maybe Xander was tired? The man had dropped him at his home at nearly midnight the prior evening and had then been up quite early to go in search of a new alternator which had been harder to find for the make and model of the vehicle than any of them had expected, after all. He was sure that repairing the car with Chuy for nearly three more hours in the hot sun before their trek back into town hadn’t been relaxing, either.
“I… well, yes, if that’s what you wish, Xander. I will be happy to give you a lift home as well, since your friend took your truck…”
Xander nodded sharply, hating the world that had made the first guy he’d really wanted since… no, honestly since before he’d even met his ex, much less broken up with him… in ages, anyway, straight but so fucking perfect. “Yeah, that’s what I want. But I don’t need a ride, okay? I live near here. Thanks for dinner. Enjoy that sweet machine of yours, Will…iam.”
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