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Getting On


by
Tisienne Blue



Part Twenty-Nine


As it turned out, it was a long story although Xander could see why Will thought it was even longer, what with all the stops and starts his blond engaged in.

Finally, he shook his head and threw back the covers, pulling the other man from their bed despite his hearty protests.

Those protests stopped moments later, though, when Xander settled them both in the big sunken tub and started it filling.

William sighed happily, cradled as he was with his spine against Xander’s chest, those strong but gentle arms holding him close as the water rose.

“Okay, baby,” the brunette murmured once he’d shut off the faucet with his toes, “Spill. And whatever you’re worried about, don’t be. I really am just curious. And if there honestly is something wrong with your brain?” He chuckled soft and low into one flushing ear. “I don’t care. I love your mind just the way it is, got it?”

Christ, how could he manage to stay nervous when Xander was so very good to him?

Well, it was easy enough, he figured, because it wasn’t his love’s reaction to him that was cause for concern. It was more that… “Alright, luv,” William heard himself saying, “but I’m going to have to give you some backstory first. Just so you don’t misunderstand when I get to the part about my ‘brain damage’.”

On the one hand, Xander could think of better ways to spend some of their remaining free time than talking about things that couldn’t be changed, but on the other… Well, he’d asked, hadn’t he, and besides… he and Will had never really talked about the blond’s past in depth. Not because it didn’t matter but because… at first he hadn’t known who William really was, and once he did—even with that being mere days earlier—they’d been too busy trying to not fall apart, and now…

Well, Xander knew the common things but nothing really… deep.

It didn’t hurt any that he would clearly be holding William’s wet, naked body against him while his lover spoke, either, he acknowledged with a sly smile against the back of Will’s neck.

“Backstory,” he repeated with a put-upon sounding sigh. “Right. Go for it.”

One hard swallow later, William did just that, his voice low and soft as he tried to explain.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



“I was five years old when Mum met Heinrich,” he said slowly, his eyes closing as he remembered. “I didn’t much like him on first sight, of course, because Mum was beautiful and he was… well, nobody would ever have used that word to describe him.

“I don’t honestly believe that he thought too kindly of me at the time, either. I wasn’t the most… even-tempered child, I know, but it had been just me and Mum for as long as I could remember and suddenly there was this ugly old man taking up the time and attention that should have been mine.”

William blushed slightly at the recollection.

“I’m not saying that Mum didn’t have dates before that, or even boyfriends. She did. But she always had time for me, too, and the others all seemed to understand that I was the man of the family… in my own mind, perhaps, but still.” He sighed.

“I was a right arrogant little prick for months and I think I almost won and chased him off for good, but Mum…” He sighed again, shaking his head. “Mum sat me down and had a talk with me that I suppose most adults would never have with a child.

“Heinrich was quite wealthy, she said, and we weren’t.

“I hadn’t known that before, Xander. Mum and I had always stayed in nice places and I’d always had whatever I’d needed, but we were ‘reliant upon the kindness of special friends’ she said.

“It wasn’t until I was well into my teens that I understood what she’d meant by that.”

William frowned, not able to find a delicate way of putting it, even after all these years.

“Mum was a whore, Xan. I don’t mean she stood on street corners or anything so crass, but she was a beautiful young woman from a family of literally no importance and less education. She traded on what she had.

“Heinrich was her chance to be a great lady and she was for damned sure going to take it, his unfortunate appearance aside.”

A small smile crossed William’s lips as Xander’s arms tightened just a bit around him and he felt soft lips on the top of his shoulder, comfort pouring into him through the touches.

“I don’t truly I blame her, you know. I… it can’t have been easy for her; especially with a young child to raise on her own. And you’ve been very good about not asking, so I’ll tell you anyway. I don’t know who my father was… or is. I’m not certain that even Mum knew. Things were different in the seventies. Less… dangerous, I suppose, but certainly more free. And mum was very, very free back then. Or so I’ve been given to understand. Lindsey had quite a dossier prepared that reflected several of her more… interesting exploits.”

Xander growled softly, making yet another mental note to do something about the fuckwad… and soon.

The sound made William laugh a bit and he leaned back harder against his bloke’s broad, strong chest. “Things were different then, Xan. When I was still with him, I mean. It didn’t bother me.” ‘Much,’ he added silently.

“In any case,” he went on almost matter-of-factly, “Mum and I came to Texas to meet Heinrich’s heir. That would be Angel, in case you didn’t know, although at the time he was still going by Liam; even with family.”

The last was said so teasingly that Xander couldn’t hold on to his anger for the moment. “Yeah, baby. Kinda know he’s Heinrich’s son. Takes after his Dad, right? Did Heinrich have that looming caveman brow, too?”

The blond laughed again, shaking his head. “Just be glad he didn’t end up with that bizarre bat-nose. Of course, if he had, I doubt your sister would be wanting to marry him. She’s lovely, of course, but there’s only so much a good set of genes can override with regards to breeding.” He shivered.

And suddenly Xander was shaking too, although in his case it was from trying not to laugh. “But why in the hell does he call himself Angel now?”

William chuckled softly. “I suppose he was more attractive as a child. Or else Mum was being sarcastic when she said he had an angelic face.” He considered. “Or possibly, she meant by comparison to his father. But in any case, he was ‘Angel’ to friends and family afterwards. Actually, Angelus. He always wanted to be a bad-ass when we were younger and he thought Angelus Aurelius sounded menacing.” His snort was echoed by Xander’s.

“Still, we got on. Angel and I did, I mean, and I believe Mum must have taken that as some sort of a sign because a few weeks later—just after my sixth birthday—she married the old bat-nosed bastard. I like to think that she was happy. I honestly don’t remember any time when she seemed otherwise. I believe they both were more than satisfied with their arrangement.

“Enough so that they decided to take a bit of a vacation a few years later, in any case.”

Xander frowned and ran his hands slowly up and down William’s suddenly tight chest. “That’s when their boat disappeared, isn’t it?” he murmured gently, “And you were sent to boarding school in England.”

A soft sigh, even as William tried to relax into the supportive comfort his love was giving him. “Yes, while Angel was schooled here in Dallas. They hadn’t expected to die, you see, and neither of them thought to change their wills, so…” He shrugged.

“We spent holidays together, Angel and I. Sometimes here; sometimes in England. And we spoke on the phone nearly every day. As far as we were concerned, we were brothers, no matter that it wasn’t so on paper.

“And finally, I finished school at sixteen. Accelerated program, you know.” William blushed. “So I came home. Angel had been finished with High School for over a year by that point and was attending college classes. I had the option of doing that myself, but somehow…” He shrugged slightly. “I didn’t have any idea of what I wished to do, Xander. And it struck me as foolish to attend classes when I’d no concept of which courses would actually matter when I did figure it out.

“And then I met Lindsey.”

He couldn’t help the smile that tugged at his lips when he heard Xander snarl softly.

“I had been toying with acting. Not as a career, but as a hobby, you know. I would watch films, or even television programs and then wander around for days pretending to be my own version of whatever character struck my fancy.” He blushed again when he felt his bloke’s chest shaking with what could only be laughter. “Piss off, git. I was bored and it was fun. Kept me amused, in any case, and annoyed Angel no end. Of course, that’s what younger brothers are for, isn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Xander answered, almost pouting. “I only have little sisters, remember? And they always wanted me to play with their dolls and makeup and stuff.”

Will smirked. “I’ll bet you did it, luv. Especially if Willow did that… poochie lip thing at you.”

Xander groaned then sighed. “Well, of course I did it! The lip is just the beginning. Let her get the eyes going and the quivering chin and… Jesus, she has you begging to do whatever it is and claiming it’s your own idea!” He groaned again. “Buffy too, but Willow’s the Queen.”


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



Minutes of laughing lightened Will’s heart and his voice was a good bit less heavy when he went on, as well.

“In any case, luv,” he said, turning just a bit in Xander’s arms to rest his cheek against warm skin while his bloke let a bit of water from the tub and started the hot running again, “Lindsey and Angel had been rather thrown together, although Lindsey was around my own age. It’s like that with children of money, but I suppose you know that. ‘Appropriate companions’ and such.

“He stopped by one day while I was rambling about the house pretending to be some tough guy I’d seen on telly the night before.”

William chuckled, recalling it.

“Must have seemed a right fool. Or would have, I guess, if he’d been any older. As it was, though, he seemed to buy my little charade.

“Turned out, we got on well enough and that pleased Angel since Lindsey had the habit of stopping by while my brother was trying to study and while I’ve no doubt that Angel loved me then just as he does now, a younger brother on the other side of both a bloody-large country and an ocean had to have been easier to deal with… and I was rather demanding, I suppose.”

A snort. “You? Demanding? No way, baby.”

Will snorted right back at his lover. “Watch the tone, pet, or you might be waiting days to get lucky again.”

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry.” A cheeky grin followed by a slow kiss as Xander stopped the faucet again made William smile. “Please, tell me more about fucking Lindsey.” Then a pause. “Um, I don’t mean I want to hear about fucking Lindsey, baby. I mean…” A hopeless groan.

“Yes, I know what you mean, Xan,” with a pleased grin at the unsuccessfully hidden jealousy in Xander’s tone.

“Right, then…” after a moment. “Met Lindsey. We got on well enough. Had far too much money and far too little sense, the both of us. He talked me into going on various trips and such, which Angel approved of simply because they gave him some quiet, I’m sure… and on one very memorable trip to San Diego, I discovered three very interesting things.

“First, that I was a bloody natural at beach volleyball. I hadn’t played at all in England, of course, because it’s not actually considered a sport there by most, and the beaches… not really much like the ones here. At all. But I’d tried it a few times when I’d been home on holiday. That time, it all seemed to click and I was bloody fucking good.

“The second thing I discovered was that I hadn’t been imagining the way I’d thought Lindsey had been looking at me on several occasions when I caught him off guard.

“Finally—and most importantly to both you and myself, luv—I learned that I wasn’t at all opposed to the notion of having males lovers as well as female. I’d somewhat known that already, of course, because there was this bloke Devon while I was away at school, but it really didn’t last long, and… honestly, I’d thought that had just been him, you know? Or some sort of phase I’d been going through. I hadn’t wanted another bloke before him… or after, until that trip.”

He sighed and rubbed his chin against Xander’s shoulder. “And this is the part of the story that doesn’t really matter, so I’ll simply summarize, pet.

“Lindsey suggested I go pro with the volleyball. I did. There seemed to be some advantage to maintaining the Spike persona and acting the bad boy, so I did that too. I likely had sex with more women and men that I could count if I cared to remember them.” He frowned. “More women, though. It was only the very rare bloke Lindsey would step aside for. He liked to think of my ass as his… and I suppose it was, back then.”

He heard the low rumble building in Xander’s chest and swiftly moved on.

“It was a bloody eventful few years. ‘The Spike Years’, I call them. Too much money, too much freedom… and coming from boarding school, I’d never really known what freedom was. When I finally had it, I had no idea of how to control myself, luv.

“It was a Thursday night. I remember that much clearly because I wasn’t drunk yet when I woke up that afternoon. I was well on my way to it by the time I met Lindsey at the party, though.” He blushed again, deeper this time.

“Angel was there, too. I don’t remember why. Maybe he’d been invited; I don’t know.

“He was standing there being all chatty with some chit and Lindsey had wandered off to use the bathroom and I was standing there by the window drinking scotch. And then I heard it. Saw it.”

William frowned, entirely unable to understand why it had mattered so much to him at the time, but… he’d fancied himself in love, after all, and he’d had no way of knowing he wasn’t. Hell, he hadn’t understood that what he’d felt for Lindsey had been anything—everything—but love. Not until after he’d met Xander and come to understand what that emotion truly was.

“What, baby,” Xander whispered, wrapping his legs around Will, trying to surround him in safety and comfort and sheer, untainted adoration. “What did you see?” He had a feeling that he already knew but William seemed to need to share and Xander would never tell his lover no. Not even to spare his own feelings.

A soft sigh came from his lips before Will managed to go on.

“I heard his voice. Not words, but… sounds. I… you know the sort I mean, Xander. And I moved closer to the window and pulled it up a few more inches. I leaned out and looked down, and… God, he was down there. He was down there against the wall of the house and his pants were… around his ankles and some guy—some random fucking guy—was slamming into him and Lindsey was groaning and grunting and he only ever let me fuck him twice, Xander! In all the years we were… whatever the fuck we were, he hated letting me in and yet… there he was with some stranger, giving the fucker what he’d only let me have twice, and that only after he’d made me beg for days!”

And God, it still pissed him off!

Lindsey had said he loved him, but he hadn’t, had he?

No… the bastard had loved his ass. Loved having ‘Spike Martin’ as his personal cum bucket. But he’d never loved him.

Hell, William would be surprised if Lindsey even knew what love was, unlike his Xan.

Oh, his Xan was the most loving, considerate… tense and silent man Will had ever known, because that long, muscled body was frozen beneath him and his bloke wasn’t even whispering and…

And then William replayed everything he’d just said and nearly groaned.

“Of course,” he added, as though he hadn’t noticed, “it doesn’t matter now what Lindsey did or didn’t do. This was all years ago, luv. Long before I understood what love truly is. And I suppose I should thank him one of these days. After all, he was the reason for what happened next.”

And Will wasn’t over Lindsey. He’d heard it in the other man’s voice, hadn’t he? The blond wouldn’t still be that upset over what had happened if he didn’t still have feelings for the guy… would he?

But then William spoke more and… maybe it was like when he’d told Will about Larry. He’d been angry and sad then and William hadn’t even thought it was anything but what it was and what did it say about Xander that he was questioning Will’s feelings, and…

“Wh-what happened next, Will?” he whispered, swallowing hard when he felt soft lips against his chest.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



“Don’t know how Angel noticed me leaving unless I was louder than I remember being.” A small frown marred William’s brow then he let loose a rueful coughing chuckle. “Of course, I did yell out that window at Lindsey for a while first, so maybe that’s why. Doesn’t much matter, though, does it? Angel saw me leaving… must have known I was too far gone to be driving. Hell, Xan, even I knew that. Didn’t stop me from doing it, though.”

Blue eyes closed slowly, sadly.

“Got into my car—had one of those little Miatas back then—and peeled off down the drive. Think I might have hit one of the rose bushes, even, but I never heard that I did after.” William bit his lip.

“Angel tried to stop me. I nearly ran him down. That was before the bush I maybe hit. But I was so angry, luv… so hurt. So… fucking… mad. Mad meaning crazy in this case. I… I really didn’t know what I was doing. I just needed to get away. To be somewhere that didn’t… hurt. So I headed for home.”

The idea that the big, broody jerk Buffy wanted to marry had risked his life to try to stop William from driving in that state had Xander unwillingly liking the man a bit more than he already did. And while a small part of him wished Will had run the man over long before his own sister could decide she wanted him, he knew he was being petty. His Dad had told him what had really happened, after all, and… he couldn’t change twenty-some-odd years worth of loathing overnight, but he could at least try to be more open-minded with regards to Liam Aurelius.

“Okay,” Xander whispered, knowing what was coming and knowing it was going to make him cringe inside. “So you left. And…”

“Bloody hell. He followed me. He raced after me and caught up and he was only trying to stop me, Xan. Trying to make me pull over so he could drive me the rest of the way… crowding me towards the shoulder, and… and there was a curve and I was so drunk, pet… I ran myself right off the road at close to sixty miles per hour and…”

William’s hands clenched as he squeezed his eyes shut even tighter. He knew what Xander’s biological father had been like. He’d read the reports and documentation Charles Gunn had compiled when he’d had him investigate his lover, and… God, he could lose Xander over this, he suddenly realized. Hell, he probably already had, but he had to try to fix it; to make sure his bloke knew that he wasn’t truly a drunk. Not anymore.

“I… that was seven years ago, Xander. I don’t—won’t—ever be like that again. I was young and stupid and so very lost, luv… and when I woke up after the accident, everything was different. Everything was changed. I… you know how much I drink now. We’ve been together for months and have you ever seen me have more than a beer or a few sips of wine? I just don’t…”

Dear God, William was nearly sobbing and Xander had no idea of why. He wasn’t even sure that he wanted to know. It didn’t matter, after all. The only thing that mattered was that his lover was upset and rambling and Xander could stop it easily… he hoped.

It was the work of less than a moment to relax his own legs and pull Will’s body from between them.

It took even less time to have that slightly shaking and completely tense form fully in his lap and when Xander wrapped his arms tightly around it, nearly crushing William against him, the shuddering but still nervous exhalations against his neck only made him worry more.

“Baby,” he rumbled, lips deep in wheaten hair, “Baby, please… please, just… it’s okay, Will. I promise you. It’s okay. Whatever it is, I… God, I love you, Will. Whatever else happened that night, I love you. It doesn’t matter, okay? Like I said before, baby, if it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be mine. I wouldn’t belong to you, William. I… this is… fuck, I don’t care, okay? I don’t need to hear any more. Not if it’s gonna hurt you like this. Love you, baby… love you, Will. William. Never knew it was even possible to feel this… God. Like this.”


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



It could have been hours later or merely long, anguished minutes. Xander didn’t know and he didn’t care.

William’s almost-sobs had become true ones within seconds of Xander’s last words and now…

Well, now that formerly tense and miserable form was melted into him, small sniffles against his chest the only remaining sign of the emotional upheaval that had played out.

His hands danced slowly—gently—up and down William’s spine, even as he hummed soft, tuneless sounds aimed to soothe.

“You must think I’m a complete and utter git,” William finally whispered, utterly embarrassed by the way he’d been acting for the last little while. “Just… didn’t want you thinking I’m a drunk, Xan. Know how you feel about…” he swallowed roughly, hiding his face against one perfectly-formed pec.

Even with that big of a clue it took Xander a minute to understand what his blond was talking about, but when he did, he simply ran one hand back up that so-perfect spine and tangled his fingers deep in Will’s hair, pulling back to make the man’s blue and still-damp eyes meet his own brown but equally moist ones.

“William. You are not Anthony Harris. There’s nothing about you that even vaguely resembles what he was.” He nodded sharply, trying not to moan at the sudden blossoming of hope in William’s gaze. “I don’t remember him. I don’t even know what he looked like. And okay, he was a real drunk… and clearly dumber than a box of rocks. But that’s not you. You’re… William. My Will. And maybe you partied kinda hard when you were younger. I don’t care, baby. You’re here now. With me. And you’d have to be literally drowning yourself in a sea of booze to make me even start to think about walking away from this. From us. Got it, baby? I’m not letting you go. Not now… not ever.”

A stuttering breath left William’s lips, even as they spread into an ever widening smile. “I… I suppose I will simply have to deal with it, then. If you’re certain, Xander…”

A soft snort that managed to convey amusement, annoyance, desire, adoration, appreciation and love came from the brunette, and when he stood, lifting the blond with him, spoke softly—sweetly—into William’s ear.

“I was sure after less than a week, baby. You’re the first guy I’ve ever been bare with on purpose. And once I get my ring on you, you’ll never have to wonder about just how certain I am.” He was smiling a somewhat wicked smile as he deposited his lover on their bed, and it only became more so when he lowered himself over the form that had clearly been created just for him.

“Not to nag or anything, baby, but… how does all of what you told me explain about the brain damage thing? Unless you’d rather not…”

“Oh, bloody hell!” William groaned, pulling his bloke down fully onto him. “Angel blames himself for the accident because he thinks I wouldn’t have gone off the road if he’d not been trying to make me stop. I could tell as much when I finally woke up, and… he’s my brother, Xander. I love him. So I pretended I didn’t remember what had happened, simply out of concern that he might dwell upon it entirely too much, and he’s exactly the sort to dwell, yes? Then the Doctors said that a certain amount of brain damage was to be expected in such a case; especially with me dying on the operating table for nearly two minutes, and the pain medications I was receiving made me rather… Well, I seriously doubt that I was making much sense at all for the first few months.

“My doctors adjusted the dosage after that but he seemed to believe it was my mind rather that the medicine, and… and then it was too late to tell him, and…”

William smiled sheepishly and shrugged as much as he could manage just then. “And as I told your father and Ethan Rayne… there are many benefits to being underestimated by people. There are also many benefits,” he finished with a slow but needy roll of his hips, “to being shagged nearly comatose. Or so I’ve been told. Any chance of finding out, luv?”

Well, that was one question answered and one more put on the table.

Fortunately, Xander thought he could reply to this one with far less words than had greeted his own.

Still, he really wanted to tease his lover just a bit.

He pressed his hips slowly, rhythmically against Will’s, eyes narrowing in an effort to disguise the sheer need he felt so suddenly.

“Maybe… you big liar.” He grinned, leaning down to press his lips hard against his blond’s, tongue tangling merrily and joyfully with its counterpart. “Hate it that you died, baby. Even for a little while. But love it that you came back… just for me. Hey, if you died and came back to life, does that mean you’re a vampire? You’re definitely pale enough… and undead, what with the being alive and all…”

He rocked his hips teasingly against his lover’s straining erection, even as he lowered his mouth to Will’s ear, teeth nipping firmly at the lobe while one hand slid down soft, perfect skin, diverting for a moment before delving slowly between William’s spread thighs from underneath.

“Pillock,” William whimpered, his legs rising to wrap around Xander’s solid waist as his bloke’s fingers eased inside, aided by the tube of slick gel from earlier that morning.

“Maybe,” Xander groaned, still not entirely sure of what the word meant, “but I’m your pillock, Will. Always, okay?”

“My… everything,” the blond admitted, his words flowing out on a soft, needy sigh.





Part Thirty


As it turned out, Xander had been right about his father hating the idea he and William had come up with. Of course, by the time Rupert Giles found out about it, it was far too late for him to actually do anything other than go on the record to say that he anticipated both young men going completely broke in less than a year… and advised them that when it did happen, they’d be more than welcome to stay at Xander’s childhood home until they got back on their feet.

Angel agreed, although he believed the couple should stay at Aurelius Manor. His brother was more familiar with Dallas, after all, and with William’s delicate mental state…

Buffy simply rolled her eyes and gave her brother and soon-to-be brother-in-law a speaking gaze that announced her own disbelief in William’s ‘brain damage’. “Shut up, honey,” she ordered, slapping Angel’s arm lightly. “He might not remember the accident but that doesn’t mean he’s an idiot. And if he and Xander think there’s a need for a…”

Her brow furrowed slightly as she tried to remember exactly what the blond and brunette were proposing.

“An upscale cinema and fine dining restaurant,” William clarified. “And since none of you were listening when Xan was talking—obviously—allow me to reiterate. We are not sinking all our capital into this venture. It is simply…” he blushed.

Wide red lips widened further still as Xander smiled and wrapped his arms around William from behind, pulling the slightly smaller form against his chest. “We like dinner and a movie. We figure other people do too. Mister Durring—my main boss at the construction company—found us a sweet property. The location is… perfect. I had to tell him about some of my investments, though. Just so he’d know I was seriously looking. But he thinks it’s a great idea.”

Xander’s enthusiasm had Rupert smiling, just as William’s had Angel doing.

The two men exchanged one long stare then shrugged slightly.

It was clear that the two younger men were going to do exactly what they wanted to, and… when everything went entirely to Hell, they’d be there to pick up the pieces and would try not to say ‘I told you so’… too often.

Ethan Rayne chuckled to himself, finally winning the internal battle and not reminding his lover of what had happened the last time Xander had been so sure about something. The boy’s hunches were almost always spot-on, after all. “So…” he pressed subtly, “exactly who have you blokes hired to run this operation? It sounds like rather a… large job.”

And that was the crux of the matter, Rupert admitted to himself. Neither his son nor his son’s mate had any experience with the types of businesses they were hoping to combine, and that was—in large part—why he held out so little hope for their success. “Yes, son. If you like, I’d be happy to start some wheels turning. I’m sure there are many very competent managers and such who would perhaps find such an endeavor of interest…”

Xander found himself grinning, just as he knew his lover was.

“Actually, Dad,” he answered softly, “Will and I are planning on doing that ourselves. You know… after I finish up my business degree. We’re both gonna take some restaurant management courses, too… and Will’s already got a job lined up at a movie theater. Just so he knows the business from that end.”

William couldn’t help smirking at the stunned look on Rupert Giles’s face.

“I’m terribly sorry,” he offered, voice smug and clearly amused, “did we forget to mention that part? The location Mister Durring—who is a lovely man, by the way, although he does seem rather concerned for his niece’s chances of finding a straight man—found for us is going to require complete renovations from the ground up before it is even remotely what we and the architects have designed. That will allow us more than enough time to become trained in our chosen… future.”

And even if Xander and William’s business sank before it could swim, Rupert couldn’t help approving of it, all of a sudden.

His boy was going to finish school, and that would satisfy the Shareholders… and the Board of Directors, even if Xander wasn’t in California.

Besides… when he and Ethan finally did retire to their island, Willow would likely be in a very good position to take over the running if GSI. Assuming Xander truly didn’t want it, which Rupert wasn’t sure he believed, but that wasn’t the point.

“I’m very pleased to hear it, Xa…” he began, only to be cut off by Angel’s loud, horrified voice.

“You’re going to work in a movie theater? Jesus, Will! How in the hell am I supposed to explain that? You… you have clients! People who only talk to you! What do you want me to tell them? That you left us to take some crap job that only pays… what? Seventy-five thousand a year?”

Angel didn’t notice that everyone—even his own fiancee—was looking at him as though he’d lost his mind.

He sputtered a bit more, only Buffy’s tiny hand stroking his back keeping him from pacing and waving his arms about with much shouting.

For her part, Buffy was considering the best way to acquaint Angel with reality… and suddenly she was glad that her father had insisted that she and her siblings have part-time jobs during the summers. ’You need to know what it’s like, children… so you’ll never take those with less financial freedom for granted,’ he’d said, and while she’d truly hated her three month stint at the Doublemeat Palace between Freshman and Sophomore year, it had definitely given her more of an understanding for those who worked so hard for so little.

Xander grinned even more and hid his face against the back of William’s neck. Angel really was an idiot. He felt vindicated.

Ethan was the only one who didn’t try to control his laughter. “It’s likely more in the neighborhood of twenty thousand, Liam. Including overtime. And if you can even begin to grasp this concept… people do live on that. For years. Lives, even. You see, the majority of the world does not have large inheritances and companies that make them millions of dollars in profit each quarter.”

He pulled his gaze from the stunned form of Buffy’s future husband and gave William a rather impressed stare. “I applaud you. Even though I know you won’t actually be living from paycheck to paycheck as so many do… seeing the amounts of those checks will likely make you much more appreciative of your future employees.”

And that was the largest degree of approval Xander had ever heard Uncle Ethan give to anyone other than Dad!

He watched Angel sputter some more—just because it was fun—then took pity on the big, disillusioned and nearly petulant jerk. “So, Buffy… how are the wedding plans going?”

From the look on his brother’s face, William was suddenly sure that Xander hadn’t done him any favors. But at least it was a new topic, and that was good. He was tired of hearing how badly they would fail; especially because he trusted Xander.

Xander had feelings about things, and so far he’d been right. After all, he’d had a feeling about William, hadn’t he? And just look how well that had turned out.

William smiled innocently and rocked his hips back just a bit, pressing his linen-covered rear against Xander’s denim-clad groin. If he had to listen to all this wedding talk, he could at least punish his bloke slightly for bringing it up.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



‘Damn,’ Charles Gunn thought silently as he looked across the dinner table at the two kids Kendra had more or less adopted, one a good bit older than the other.

‘I don’t know what else to do. She seems so sure, but… that Chase woman wasn’t lying. Her pupils didn’t dilate, her breathing didn’t alter… hell, she was just as sure as Jenny is, but in the opposite direction.’

The worst part, though, was that after he’d bailed Jenny out of jail, she’d insisted on picking up the kid from ‘a friend’, and now that he’d seen the kid he could see some resemblance to Alexander Summers-Giles.

Of course, that could be just because of the dark hair and dark eyes, but Gunn had been in the business for long enough to know when his gut was on the completely wrong path and somehow he was sure that this time… it wasn’t.

He’d been wracking his brain for some way the kid could be who Jenny claimed, but… ‘maybe he was a sperm donor or something. Money was pretty tight for him…’ but then he remembered just how much cash the young man had started out with and that didn’t make any sense. Fifty bucks a ‘pop’ wouldn’t have mattered to the guy, not even then.

His mind continued to run in circles for the rest of the meal, just as it had done for the two weeks since he’d brought the kids home and Kendra had decided that they needed to stay until he figured out what was going on. Jenny didn’t seem like a liar to his wife either, apparently.

Okay. He’d have another little question and answer session with Jenny after the five year old went to sleep. He was missing something. He had to be.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



Lindsey groaned loudly as he rolled onto his back, his tender, abused and sore ass meeting the mattress.

He honestly couldn’t believe that he’d married anyone, much less a magician’s assistant.

Well, okay, he could believe it because he had a very vague memory of stumbling into the small club off the main strip in Vegas… and he almost thought he recalled seeing his wife standing on the stage in sequins and feathers while pulling doves out of places that were… borderline obscene, even to him.

He’d probably been a little bit crazy at the time. Must have been, actually. Why else would he have ended up marrying the girl when he’d never been fond enough of women to do more than fuck them?

But he clearly had done more, in the case of one Mrs. Anya Jenkins-MacDonald, because she had the paperwork to prove it… and even though he’d obviously been drunk at the time and didn’t remember it, he recognized his own signature on the marriage license, shaky as it was.

He’d been expecting his Aunt Maggie to pitch a fit when he’d gotten home, but she hadn’t.

In fact, she’d surprised the hell out of him by welcoming his wife with open arms.

It still freaked him out that he was married.

Hell, it totally floored him that his Aunt and his… Anya got along so well after only a few weeks that they’d gone shopping together just a couple of hours earlier.

He was almost insulted that Anya was so willing to leave him, but…

He shifted on the bed, a loud groan springing from his lips as the motion set his stretched-wide anus to throbbing roughly yet again. He’d begged her to stop—to use one of the smaller dildos that fit her harness—but Anya had simply given him a slow shake of her head then leaned down, swallowing his shout when the absurdly long and almost frighteningly thick silicone pierced him.

Her lips had eaten at his wildly as she’d slammed it home.

As much as it pained him—in more ways than one—Lindsey closed his eyes again and tried not to move again.

The last thing he wanted was to have the thick plug in his ass stimulate him too much and make him shoot off.

Anya would know when she got back. Somehow she always knew. And if he had to spend yet another night on hands and knees with a gag in his mouth, he’d probably die, so… no cumming. Not until his wife got back and felt like letting him, anyway.

Fuck, he was in Hell… and yet it was somehow comforting to know that Anya wouldn’t put up with his bullshit.

Huh.

Yeah.

Definitely Hell.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



“I think we should tell them, Wills,” Oz said softly, giving his love a sheepish gaze from the corner of his eye as the elevator took them up. “I just… does it feel right to you? To be lying to them? Your Dad, your sister? Ethan?”

Red hair swayed as Willow bowed her head. “They wouldn’t understand, baby. You know they wouldn’t… I mean…”

Oz sighed and smiled just a little. “You mean you’re scared. Hell, Willow, I’m scared too.” He moved closer and hugged his girl tightly. “They won’t think I’m good enough for you. I’m not. I know it. But I…”

And that had her back up.

She straightened and gave her lover a glare. “Good enough? Not good enough?” Willow tried to growl, though it came out sounding more like a kitten trying to intimidate a dog. “You’re the senior programmer for our Tech Squad, Oz! You are entirely responsible for like… sixty million dollars worth of revenue in the last year and a half! And what have I done other than maintain the family forum and go to my classes?”

The smallish man sighed and shook his head. “I’m still not sure of what you’re doing with me, Willow. You’re a Giles. You’re supposed to… I don’t know. Build a dynasty or something. Like Buffy’s doing with that Aurelius guy.”

So many things ran through Willow’s head then that she didn’t know which of them to voice.

Fortunately, that was when the elevator slowed, then stopped, and there were so many people in the hallway—and obviously from many different sections of society—that Willow didn’t feel comfortable continuing what should decidedly be a private conversation.

That didn’t keep her from wrapping her arm around Oz’s waist, though.

Fuck it. If anyone was going to have a problem with her and her better half, they could just take a flying leap. She’d help them, even.

And as they were definitely not on the ground floor, it would be a semi-permanent solution, as her Uncle Ethan would say.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*



Chuy arched a brow at his wife as the two redheads brushed past them. “I’m gonna take a step into your territory, love, and say that those two belong together. But they really need to talk, huh?”

A small but very ladylike snort left Malina’s lips. “Yes, but not to each other.” She smiled her amusement at Chuy’s confused expression. He’d never understood how she did what she did, but then again… neither had she. It was just there. “They are an almost perfect match, though. Much like Xander and his William.”

Well, at least he was getting better, Chuy told himself with a smile.

He leaned in, kissing Malina soft and slow before pulling back, still holding her close against him. “I guess we should go inside and see our Xander join with his…”

“Mate,” Malina finished for her husband. “Just as you are my one true mate, Chuy.”

The smile that crossed Chuy’s lips would have embarrassed him if there had been anyone watching. As it was, though, the other people in the hallway were answering the same unspoken call and moving to the open door of the apartment twenty feet on.

“Always,” he agreed, letting the flow of traffic take them up and draw them into the main room of William’s home. Xander’s too, judging from the artifacts of the brunette’s life that were scattered throughout.





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