Of all the things William had hoped and feared having happen that night, being summarily grabbed and escorted from the ballroom by two older men hadn’t even been on his list.
He’d panicked a bit at first, his legs refusing to move, but when he found himself being literally lifted an inch or so and carried with the appearance of accompanying them, he’d finally managed to get his mind to operate.
That was when he’d gotten a good look at one of the men absconding with him, and…
“Bloody hell,” he groaned. “Rupert Giles. And I’m assuming your partner in crime to be Ethan Rayne, yes?”
Ethan snorted and leaned in closer, speaking into the blond’s ear. “Believe me, young Aurelius. If there were a crime being committed here, you’d be bound and gagged by now. Even in the midst of a gathering such as this.”
There was something about the way the man said it that convinced William of exactly that, and while his own certainty had his heart skipping a beat, it was the calm and affectionate tone of the other man’s voice that set him at ease.
“Really, Ethan. There is no need to frighten the child into an apoplexy. Control yourself or I shall be forced to do it for you.” Rupert smiled slightly when his words were met by a disappointed sigh. “Now, then. We haven’t been introduced as yet, but as we are all quite aware of each others’ identities, a bit of cooperation on your part would be most welcome, Mister Barrington… or do you prefer Aurelius? No matter. I’m afraid that any more of a scene might draw my son’s attention and I don’t believe that would be at all welcome at this particular moment.”
William frowned even as his body began moving as directed by the men flanking him. “I am actually here in order to see him, uh, Mister Giles. And Barrington is fine. It’s my name, after all. I… that is, I was under the impression that he had… mentioned me?”
William bit his lip worriedly. Willow had said that her family knew about him but maybe Xander hadn’t been as open as she’d thought, but if that were the case, then why were Xander’s father and ‘Uncle’, for lack of a better term, making him leave the room he’d been told his love was in?
Unless, he realized, they thought he was there to create some sort of drama between Angel and Buffy.
It was possible, he supposed. After all, they had no way of knowing that he had no interest in ever controlling ATS and if his brother was to marry Buffy, as seemed likely, then there might be some concern that he had shown up to cause problems.
Yes, that must be it, William decided with a small sigh of relief. But once he’d spoken with the men—explained that he was entirely thrilled for Angel and Buffy and had no designs upon Aurelius Technology Systems—he was certain they’d understand and allow him to pursue the one thing he did have designs upon. That being Xander.
His certainty was entirely derailed almost immediately, however, when the somehow sinister but still pleasant voice of Ethan Rayne responded to his question.
“Oh, he’s mentioned you alright, boy. Fancies himself in love with you, even. I wouldn’t let that make you feel too smug, though. We’re a very close-knit group, you know… and even with Xander in Texas, of all places? Most of the time,we look after our own.”
Rupert Giles found himself smiling softly as he heard his lover’s words although he worried just a bit that William Barrington might take them as a threat. Of course, Ethan likely meant them to be taken in just such a fashion, but that was neither here nor there.
One thing Rupert had learned many, many years earlier was that he had to choose his battles, and… if the worst that happened was his long-time partner convincing William that Xander’s Uncle Ethan was a dangerous man, well… that constituted fair warning.
That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try to soothe the young man’s obviously jangling nerves, though.
He walked the young man down the hallway, ignoring the fact that Ethan had become uncharacteristically silent, and finally opened the door to his private office. “Please… have a seat, Mister Barrington. We have much to discuss.”
For his part, Ethan found himself unwillingly impressed by the young blond.
After the way this William had initially frozen at their manhandling and then accompanied them—obviously reluctantly—he’d expected his words to make the young man shiver, at the very least.
Instead, he’d implied that William might come to a bad end because Ethan took his family’s happiness and wellbeing so seriously, and… and the young man had simply swallowed hard and nodded, an entirely unexpected stubbornness firming his chin and making it clear that no matter what happened to him, William wouldn’t be scared off.
That sort of acceptance and determination in the face of an obvious threat had convinced Ethan of the young man’s feelings for Xander, entirely against his will.
“You’re not even remotely brain damaged,” he announced as he perched on the edge of Ripper’s desk and gave the blond a hard stare. “And yet you allow that story to be put about.”
“Ethan,” Giles began, casting a concerned gaze at the man his beloved had addressed, “show a bit of compassion for once! Mister Barrington may not be entirely…”
“No,” William said stiffly, cringing on the inside at ignoring his love’s father but somehow feeling that Ethan Rayne was the larger concern at the moment. “And yes.”
He leaned back in the chair, stretching his bad leg out in front of him as he forced his usual self to the back of his mind and dredged up as much of ‘Spike’ as he could manage.
“I’m not crazy or retarded or brain damaged… or any of the other things I allow society to believe me to be. And yes, I do let people believe it to be truth. I have no interest in changing that, either, so perhaps you will do me the kindness of letting what is spoken here remain here.”
And Rupert was blinking, even as he made his halting way to the chair behind his desk and slowly took a seat. He wasn’t sure of what was going on between his lover and his son’s lover, but it was… fascinating. Fascinating and disturbing, equally.
One sculpted brow rose and Ethan found himself smiling with just one side of his mouth. “Of course. Though you must know that if anything you say here will harm Xander, he will have to know about it.”
Spike-William smiled and nodded without a moment’s thought. “Works for me, mate… and right back at you, yeah? Won’t lie to Xan if you say anything that’s likely to hurt him, either.”
The half-smile became full and Ethan’s head dropped back as he let loose one loud, delighted bark of laughter.
“Done,” he agreed once he’d returned his gaze to William’s. “Now, I believe you have a story to tell… of brothers and accidents and all manner of fell beasts.”
William chuckled, easing further into the Spike persona and making the two parts of himself less fractured; more one. “Fell beasts… remind me of that phrase when I get to the part about Lindsey.”
And so, he spoke.
The upshot of it all—after William had told his tale and apologized profusely to Mister Giles for ignoring him earlier—was that neither of the older men had thought it to be a good idea for William to return to the ballroom that night.
Of course, they’d also disliked the idea of him trying to find a hotel room, even if there had been one available, and that was how Will found himself tucked away in what had once been the servant’s quarters, but considering how full the house was, he didn’t truly have an issue with that.
“It’s still bigger than my Xan’s place,” he muttered to himself, exaggerating just a little bit.
Of course, speaking his love’s name had him thinking even more about that very person and when William stripped the clothes from his body and left them in a hurriedly tangled heap, he didn’t much care about the clothing.
In fact, all he did care about was his cell phone, which was on the edge of the bed when he flung himself down completely naked.
One hand wrapped gently around his half-hard shaft while the other grabbed desperately at the electronic device and opened it, selecting the proper prompt.
He listened to the first two rings with his teeth clenched anxiously, but he couldn’t help that.
He was in Xander’s family’s house. He was naked. And he needed to hear his love’s voice. Needed to know that he hadn’t been shunted off to the attics because Xander wouldn’t want him nearby.
Intellectually, William knew that wasn’t true, but emotionally… he was a mess.
He’d just spent more than an hour talking to Xander’s father and the incredibly scary ‘Uncle Ethan’… and now he needed to know that his bloke still loved him.
William swallowed hard as the seventh ring started, knowing the next unanswered tone would bring voice mail, and while he didn’t mind leaving a message, he hated knowing that when he did it would be because his love was downstairs… dancing or chatting or… any number of things that William wasn’t doing with him.
Of course, that was when his bloke’s voice came to him, sounding both thrilled and breathless.
Xander had been going insane with watching his sister draping herself all over the bulky, looming form of Liam Aurelius.
Hell, he’d been hoping she’d suddenly wake up and realize just how crazy it was for her to actually want someone who was obviously a good hundred-thousand years regressed from modern humans.
He’d fielded more than one attempt at dragging him into conversation, though he was fairly certain he’d be hearing about it later from his Dad and Uncle Ethan… both of whom had disappeared for more than an hour earlier, and had only just returned a short while ago wearing smug and very satisfied smiles.
Xander tried not to feel any jealousy over the fact that they’d obviously just gone off to have… fun, but how could he help it, considering?
That was when his phone suddenly started vibrating against his thigh, and Xander…
Forgot entirely about everything other than his need to get somewhere quiet and private… where he could talk to Will without having his lover hear the sounds of the party, or even random remarks, as might be found in the gardens.
He made his way rudely to the edge of the crowd, then dashed down a hallway that was closed to non-family, pulling the mobile from his pocket as he rounded the corner.
“Will!” He gasped, breathing slowly to disguise his need for fast, deep gulps of air. “Baby… I miss you! I… God, I must sound so fucking gay, but… God, Will! I love you so much, I… what are you’re wearing…?”
“Nothing at all, Xander… I’m just laying here on these cold, crisp sheets, wishing you were here with me…”
“Oh, fuck. Just… give me a minute, Will. I’m not… I mean, I’m still…”
“Take your time, luv… or do you want to call me back, Xan?”
“NO!” the sound of a throat being cleared “No. Just… God, baby. Don’t hang up, okay?”
A soft snort. “Not bloody likely, pet. Getting harder by the moment, aren’t I?”
A deep groan accompanied by the sound of a door slamming, then quiet rustles as fabric was shed.
“Okay… okay, Will. I’m naked too, baby… and I’m right there beside you, crawling into bed and wrapping my arms around you…”
“And I’m holding you too, pet… running my hands up and down your spine. You know, the way I like to do…”
A groan. “God… I love it when you do that, baby… makes me feel like I’m your world…”
“You are, Xan… everything to me, yes? Want nothing more than to feel you on me. Love the weight of you. Can’t stand it when you pull away to spare me, can I?”
A soft moan. “God, baby… never gonna do that again, okay? I’ll just let you tell me when I have to move. Never loved anything the way I love covering you after we’ve…” Another moan.
“Never loved anything the way I love feeling that, luv…” A sly pause. “Are you hard for me, Xander? Because I’ve been throbbing since I dialed you. Even before…please, Xan… tell me you want this…”
“Oh, fuck. Always want you, Will. Always. I just… fuck, I need you so badly, baby…”
A deep, hard swallow before the words will come, but when they do… “Right, then.”
“Slicking you up, Xan. Got one finger deep in you already.”
“Oh… hell, Will. Don’t tease.”
“Never, pet.” A small chuckle. “Squeeze more lube over that tight little hole of yours before I slide another finger deep.”
Gasps answer the words before a shaky “y-yeah…”.
“Know two’s enough… know you like a bit of pain when I slide deep into you, luv, but I don’t want any pain this time. Not this first time when I can take you hard and deep like we’ve been wanting, so I force another finger inside… feels so good, Xan. Know it’s going to feel even better when it’s my cock in you, but I can’t help twisting my fingers, sliding them against that spot in you, precious…”
Another gasp, followed by the sound of a hand sliding roughly on straining flesh. “A-and…?”
A loud swallow. “And I’ve had enough, haven’t I?” The voice broke wildly, almost desperately. “Need to be in you, pet… feel you around me. Drag you up and turn you over, bring you to hands and knees… and you’re slick enough from the stretching that when I slam into you, you’re ready, and…”
Two voices cried out in harmony, completion found in less than a moment.
“Bloody hell… want to do that, Xander.”
Shaky breaths then a sound that was clearly agreeable followed by a softly hissed ‘yessss...’.
“Soon, love… Cordy said…” A very audible smirk. “Cordelia says we can have at it as long as we don’t get too… acrobatic.”
A loud, long, heartfelt groan. “The minute I see you again, baby. And I mean that.”
A soft purring rumble. “Bloody hell, I hope so.”
Oddly enough, it wasn’t Rupert Giles’ very sensible words that William chose to follow the next day.
Oh, the man’s advice had been entirely reasonable… and likely to do nothing more than have William and his lover sitting down to have a chat about their relationship over a cup of tea.
That would be all well and good, William figured, but Ethan’s idea—the one the older man had whispered to him after his ‘audience’ with the reigning royalty of GSI, meaning Rupert Giles and ‘Uncle Ethan’—was far better.
“Just appear,” the man had said. “Have Willow take you to your mate. Then take him to bed. Everything you have to tell him will be easier for him to grasp once you’ve been together again. And as I know Xander rather well, he’s less likely to become stubborn and intractable if he’s sated. Or being done so well that his brain is close to leaking out of whichever ear is lower. He’s a very… ‘in the now’ sort, you know.”
He’d laughed at that, but in all honesty, Xander did tend towards being more accepting when he was still buzzing from an orgasm.
Fortunately for William, it wasn’t hard to find Willow, though this time she was wearing an emerald green dress that brought out her eyes and made her hair look that much brighter.
“I’m amazed that boyfriend of yours lets you out in public looking so very sexy, pet,” he murmured, grinning when she blushed.
“I… he… I mean… and it’s just a gown, right? I mean it’s not like I’m naked or anything… and maybe it shows a little too much cleavage but I don’t have much and I’m not being all ‘oh, look at me, look at me… or am I? I mean, maybe I just don’t know I am and…”
William laughed and on impulse hugged the girl hard.
“Sorry, Willow. I was teasing. Honestly.” He smiled as he pulled away. “And I was wondering if you might be willing to do me a favor…”
He spoke softly and quietly, entirely sure that their conversation needed to be private… and when the girl grinned and agreed, he gave himself over into her hands with a very sincere “Thank you… and if it all works out the way I hope it will, I’ll talk him around to being happy for you and your bloke.”
Willow blushed deeply, even as she took William’s hand and started to repeat her action of the night before, dragging him out amongst the throngs in attendance.
“He will be anyway,” she admitted reluctantly, “eventually. I mean, we’ve known Oz since… forever. It’s just… hard for him, what with being the big brother, and…”
William laughed. “I’ll take care of it anyway.”
Then he actually caught a glimpse of the object of his affections.
His mouth went dry and he found himself shaking slightly, the redheaded girl by his side forgotten.
And the crowd shifted, blocking his view.
Willow laughed, shaking her head. “Um, I think my work here is done. Go for it, Will. Just don’t take him out to the tennis courts. They’re always wall-to-wall with the kids of the shareholders playing tonsil-hockey… or having ‘service’ parties.” She shuddered at the memory as she walked away.
William didn’t even hear her. In fact, he only knew she was gone when his hand became empty.
Of course, he didn’t much mind that. Not when he was hoping for an entirely different hand to be wrapped around his own.
Xander had promised him that, after all.
At some point he would have to tell his love exactly who he was, but… that could wait. It could wait until morning at the very least, he hoped.
He wandered through the crowd, always circling towards where he thought his bloke was, but never taking the direct route.
There were people there who recognized him, after all, and William wasn’t entirely sure of just how ‘out’ his Xan was in Sunnydale.
Of course, that wouldn’t stop him from getting what he wanted. His time with Xander’s Uncle Ethan had convinced him that faint-heartedness had never accomplished anything.
If Buffy had been holding on to any illusions of her brother and her lover becoming fast friends right off the bat, she would have been disappointed.
As it was, though, she’d expected a certain amount of distrust from her ‘anything Aurelius is evil’ brother and her ‘I know he hates me so why should I even try’ boyfriend.
The issue was, of course, how to get them both to stop being so defensive and just talk to each other, because… if they did, she just knew they’d get along.
“Um…” she said, sandwiched between the two tense bodies, “You both like football… the American kind, I mean.”
Xander smiled slightly at the hopeful tone to Buffy’s voice. “I’m a Redskins fan, myself. Even with growing up in California.”
Angel snorted at that, his arm pulling his girl closer against his side although the other man’s hold kept the grip from being as demanding as it might have been otherwise.
“Redskins?” he demanded, everything in his voice announcing his disgust. “We beat them every time! Hell, you live in Dallas now, right? You should be a Cowboys fan!”
And just like that, Xander found himself laughing.
“What can I say? I guess it’s just a Cowboys and Indians thing.”
Angel smirked and leaned down to press a soft, slow kiss to Buffy’s cheek.
“Yeah, well… we all know how that turned out, don’t we?”
And sadly, Xander had to admit more than one thing. Firstly that Liam Aurelius was possibly not as bad as he’d assumed… and secondly that the man had a point.
“If you hurt her,” he said in reply, his voice pleasant and even, “I’ll destroy you. You, your company… everything that matters to you. And just to be clear, Liam… that’s not a threat or me bragging. I will end you if you hurt my sister.” Xander cleared his throat thoughtfully. “Deliberately hurt her, I mean. I know there’s gonna be pain and stuff between you. It’s life, right? But if you ever go out of your way to cause her even the smallest amount of pain…? I will break you. Understood?”
“Xander!” Buffy nearly shrieked, her face glowing bright red as her older brother’s words shamed her deeper and deeper still. “It’s not up to you to…”
Angel merely smiled and pulled Buffy tighter against him. “Understood,” he agreed, hearing his girl’s words but ignoring them, “and when I have this same conversation with you, I’ll be expecting your agreement, too. Deal?”
While the man’s words didn’t make a whole lot of sense to Xander at that moment, he still found himself nodding.
“I still can’t say that I trust you,” he added, “but Buffy does, and… I trust her judgment. I’m not quite sure of what she sees in…” his voice trailed off as he caught a glimpse of wheaten blond hair and Xander shook himself. “Will…?”
It wasn’t Will. He knew it wasn’t Will. After all, Will had no reason to be there; especially since Xander had never said exactly where he was going. To see his Dad and so on, sure, but not really where. And yet…
His eyes fastened onto the barely seen movements of the body attached to that hair, and…
He knew that gait. Knew the way that body moved, and…
‘God, let it be him… I miss him so much; need him so much! I should have brought him with me, no matter what he would have thought about me lying to him for so long, and… Jesus-fuck, he’d have forgiven me; I know he would have, and I want it to be Will but it can’t be Will, and…’
And that form moved closer, the slightly uneven gait pressing through the crowd, and Xander was… lost.
“She doesn’t see anything in Will that matters, Xander. And this would be the part where I tell you that if you hurt him, I’ll hurt you,” Angel said smugly, even knowing that Xander wasn’t hearing him right then. “But we’ll talk about that later.” And with that, he gave his girl a speaking grin and pulled her away to dance… and ask her a question that was very important to him; and possibly to the futures of their companies, as well, although that wasn’t even remotely foremost in his mind.
It wasn’t until he was nearly to his bloke that he noticed the weight of hot, dark eyes on him… and even then, he had to pay far too much attention to the people milling about to be able to respond in kind, no matter how much he wanted to.
Xander couldn’t help staring. He just couldn’t.
He’d been missing Will like he’d never have believed possible until he’d been away from him, and now…
Now, William was right there. Right in front of him.
That blond hair was disordered, and Xander knew it was because his lover had been in so much of a hurry to see him that he hadn’t stopped to even look in a mirror; Will’s face was slightly flushed, the blue eyes bright and hopeful in that pinkish mien.
Hell, William was almost to him and had yet to look at him fully, and… and that would never do, Xander decided with a soft chuckle.
He shifted a bit then slid between random bodies, hands itching and aching to touch the man he’d been away from for almost four days… and when he reached him, he wrapped his arms lightly—due to the spectators—around William’s waist.
“Is it… is it really you, baby?” Xander murmured, his heart thudding away as though it had been ordered to do the samba, “Because if it’s not, I… I don’t want to fucking know, okay? I need it to be you…”
William couldn’t keep the smile that split his lips from showing, even as he leaned closer to the strength that promised to envelop him.
“ ‘s me, Xan… ran into your sister and couldn’t tell her no when she invited me, and… need to talk, I guess, but Xander… not now, yeah…? Just want you, pet.” His eyes burned hot sapphire into deep, wicked topaz-limned brown. “Can wait if I must, luv… or can we escape?”
William felt uncommonly bold at the suggestion, but… he meant it. He truly needed to get Xander away and to somewhere private.
He needed to remind his love of what Cordelia had said, after all, and show him, too. And hopefully prove that the young woman had been right, as well. But not until after Xander kept the promise lurking right there in his hot, brown eyes.
It was the pleading look on William’s face that had Xander nodding quickly and ignoring his sudden confusion at what Will had said. Something about it bothered him, but he’d be damned if he knew what. He couldn’t think when Will was just there and begging him with that needy gaze.
That and the heat in those same cerulean orbs… the heat he was sure mirrored the swamped sense of need within him that matched William’s so clearly.
“Come on,” he murmured, wishing he could just pick the blond up and carry him off, but… Travers was watching them, not to mention that… hauling off your gay lover just wasn’t quite the thing in this crowd. Unless your name was Rupert Giles, anyway… or Ethan Rayne.
Hands locked, fingers tangling happily… and William found himself being pulled out of the throng Willow had dragged him into so recently.
Of course, he didn’t much care because Xander was moving slowly enough that Will’s not-so-bad leg wasn’t even whispering an iota of pain, and… long, thick fingers were wrapped around his own slender ones and he could nearly hear what his bloke was thinking.
Fortunately, William didn’t have any problem with the idea of ‘room, shag, talk’. In that order.
He gave his brother a quick nod when he passed him dancing with Buffy, then returned all of his attention to the brunette dragging him along.
“You know, I’m not exactly resisting, Xander… and I’ve missed you too.”
Xander groaned, and while he truly wanted to pull his blond along faster, he forced himself to slow down a bit. “Sorry, baby. I just… fuck, I want us to be in my bed and naked, already!”
Will chuckled, even while he did his best to move more quickly.
“There is nothing that I desire more, Xander… and I believe you will understand even better when I display the meaning of Cordelia’s words. To you, I mean. Still, breaking one or both of my legs in our haste could be considered a… bad thing, yes?”
Xander groaned again but slowed down. “Never want to break you, baby… ever.” His brow furrowed for a moment before he stopped and laughed. “Unless it’s by breaking you in a way that makes you need and want only me forever, Will. Because that kind of breaking…? Oh, I am so on board.”
It would have been easy to lie to the younger man. Easy to try and play it all off.
But William didn’t have that in him and so he answered honestly.
“Can’t imagine even being interested in anyone else, Xander. Haven’t since that night we met, yeah?” He blushed. “Had a route straight into my heart even then. And once I knew how you felt inside me…?” William grinned and waggled his eyebrows, which had the entirely desired effect of making Xander pull him faster from the truly huge ballroom, chances of bodily injury be damned.
He wasn’t even slightly surprised when the brunette led him up the staircase he’d passed on the way in… and he couldn’t help the smug grin that crossed his lips when the butler simply arched one brow at seeing him and Xander so obviously together.
It was fine, William figured, that a member of the house staff knew whose he was… and he had no doubt that the entire group of them would know by morning.
Until then, though… “I am fairly certain that nobody can see us now, Xanderrrrrr…!” He yelped the last as he was scooped up effortlessly and hauled up the remaining stairs and down halls, around corners, through doorways… and was finally deposited on a large, soft mattress. “Bloody hell,” he whispered.
A deep, dark gaze met William’s and Xander nodded as he stripped himself more quickly than he’d ever even imagined doing. “That about sums it up, baby… but I need you to be naked if this is gonna work, okay?”
And what could William do other than smirk and strip, as well?
After all, if Xander was so worked up that he needed Will’s ass right then, well… that was fine. It had been days since he’d known the bliss of his lover splitting him wide.
But after that…
Oh, after that entirely welcome experience, he was going to tell Xander exactly what Cordelia had said, and… with any luck, neither of them would be returning to the Gala before the following day, if then.
His good leg ended up over Xander’s shoulder while the other wrapped wickedly around the bloke’s solid waist… and if William gasped a purely happy sigh when the thick shaft of hard flesh pressed deep, well… he couldn’t help it.
Xander always did him so good.
Hell, if he hadn’t already been in love with the young man, the way Xander was taking him would have done it.
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