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by Gypsy Gray

The next day came, and then the next week, and finally a month came and went. And still something hung in the shadow's of Xander's subconscious. It was a faceless shape that haunted his dreams. A familiar stranger ghosting at the edge of his senses during his waking hours.

He tried to ignore it. He focused on work, on his magic studies, on Spike... Then one night Xander called in to work and Spike turned away the people who came to see him. They locked the doors and buried their building worry in desire. They were clinging to each other, never letting each other out of sight. Both afraid of losing the other. The blonde kept remembering decades of devotion to a woman who turned her back on him. The brunette was haunted by too recent memories of a man who took his dreams.

They were both survivors of soul tearing pain. Somehow they had managed to pull the pieces together and go on. But at some unknown point, what was meant to be solace with someone who would understand had changed. It had gone from fleeting pleasure to a permanent joy. Neither questioned that they fell so easily into a life together. It had never been necessary to discuss whether or not they would be exclusive and committed. It was known and understood between them.

They had waded chest deep into oceans of broken glass and hot coals, and came out the other side naked and bleeding. But where others had let the pain rule them, they had learned to swim and float. They could no longer be drowned. And when they stood and moved forward another ocean swallowed them. But this one was cool silk and warm cotton. Here they swam and drifted and somehow, for some reason, the waves gentled them both to smooth steady shores. And they were marooned in each others arms.

Survivors, veterans. Battle hardened and scarred. They knew each other and found peace in the knowing. And now they were tangled together, one ending and beginning with the other. But when you've never had anything, and someone suddenly gives you everything...the fear of losing it can drown even the strongest swimmer. Unless, they have someone to hold their head above water....