As it happens, Xander winds up writing a lot more letters than he'd expected to. A new job appeared, steady construction work for the next several months at least and Xander realizes, with something like shock, that he really does enjoy it.

Outside of providing entertainment for Anya, outside of getting a check, and even outside of being offered a -- and he hates saying the word, like some sort of jinx -- permanent position with the contractor... he likes it. He likes being out in the sun, and working with his hands. He likes feeling stronger with each passing day, and coming home with a good, solid, full-body ache that has nothing to do with monsters or exes or anything of the kind.

And if he thinks, maybe this isn't quite it, maybe there's something a little more, or a little more specific he'd like to do, it's OK, because he's in that family.

And it's OK.

Even if he can live without his father's dubious approval, or his mother's tears when he finally moves out. It's OK. Anya is appreciative of his manliness in an increasingly distant way, which, God help him, is also OK. He's beginning to feel like a phase in her life, which she is calmly, matter-of-factly growing out of. Her looks are often fonder than warm.

And something in him responds to that, powerfully. It's easier to be with her now, and joke with her. She really, really enjoys football, and he likes enjoying it with her. She hates bitter beer, and Xander can torment her with her affection for Ricky Martin. He really likes hearing her laugh, watching her, too -- she always looks so surprised.

And with all that he's only been up to see Oz once more, and Xander had been much too tired for more than a night of kissing. Which was strange, not really like anything else he'd ever experienced. They'd taken a break at one point to shave, neither of them particularly fond of beard-burn.

A joking affair, with a lot of flicked shaving cream, and several comments about the massive bag of disposable razors Oz kept behind the toilet, because:

"Sometimes it really pays to buy in bulk, Xand."

They hadn't gone right back to kissing, though, instead ordering a pizza and consuming it with slow, steady seriousness. Xander easily accepted the fact that the vast majority of his pepperoni would be stolen, and settled into the other flavors. Gave himself to really contemplating the pizza, the spices, and the way mozzarella changed to an almost entirely different cheese when cooked.

He shared his observations and gradually Oz morphed to that halfway state that Xander was coming to think of as his, somehow. Still Oz, but bare. And they talked about pizzas they had loved, and Oz held him, and sniffed him thoroughly, and the kisses that came tasted wonderfully of pepperoni.

A night and a long morning of sleep and Xander had gone back home, smiling and sleepy, and made slow love to Anya, and later still gone out to dinner with Anya's friend Ros.

Ros was a Geroth demon who liked to argue about why, in fact, bitter beer was better, Ricky Martin was gay, and the Niners wouldn't win another championship for at least five years. She's a bouncer for Willy, and the three of them go out reasonably often.

So Xander writes letters, and Oz writes long letters. It turns out he's fond of the way words can change the entire meaning of a piece of paper, and they talk about things. Xander writes about adventures in world-saving, and Oz writes about his theories on the kind of people who go to used book stores, and the books he's reading. Sometimes there's a package with the letter and Xander doesn't just feel stronger, he feels smarter, too.

The next time he visits, he plans on making a snowman, though he's not entirely sure about the idea of a snowball fight. He'll give it a try, though. Anya is writing down her memories, slowly, and with many questions on style and the like. Xander suggests she stay as straightforward as possible. One day he came home to find Giles in his apartment, looking over his tiny-but-growing bookshelf, and Xander confesses that he's been writing to Oz.

It earns him a long look and Giles asks him to send his regards, and may he borrow this book? And it's... really kind of whoa, actually, and then Giles goes back to discussing the Plague years with Anya, and Xander pops out one of those make-a-meal things and they have a nice dinner together. Giles agrees with Ros about beer, and this is not surprising.

The next thing he knows, Giles is giving him books, too. Shockingly, almost none of them have to do with the occult. They talk about them, too, kind of gingerly, and sometimes Giles smiles at him with this mixture of pride and surprise and pleasure that makes Xander want to simultaneously hug him and beat him to death. He settles for smiling back.

He talks about this with Oz, too, who also sends his regards, and a mint condition Cream album for Giles' birthday. Oz understands wanting to beat up Giles, and suggests talking about it with Giles. Which is just a little more, maybe a little fast... Oz sends something like an understanding nod through the mail, and a buried wondering about when Xander is next coming up?

He takes the long weekend, unsurprised and pleased to be so when Anya simply kisses him goodbye and makes him promise to read over her Thoughts on Vengeance essay, which she plans to submit to the Watcher's Council.

He meets Oz's boss Yves, and have coffee together at one of those upscale deli/jazz club places Xander wishes he had the money to eat at all the time. Fresh salmon and Xander winds up buying several bags of the coffee to take home. Oz's apartment had grown more weird little things, including several interestingly shaped fragments of bone. Which is, OK, disturbing, but also Oz.

His Oz. And the kissing this time is purposeful.

Extremely so, and it's this struggling sort of race, watching Oz fight to stay human while sucking Xander's cock and they both make way too much noise and Oz doesn't quite make it but watching him lose it makes Xander come hard, and yelling.

And Oz apologizes over and over until Xander begs for him to stop, that it's OK, that it turned him on so much. Later on his belly, and Oz licking him all over, tongue curling around his toes, hot breath on his balls. Xander trying so hard to writhe in place, so as not to miss one minute, one second. It still surprises him when Oz slips his tongue inside, and the sounds he makes are raw.

Pushing up into the killing intimacy, begging, knowing it only makes Oz hungrier. Knowing that whoever Oz loves, it's Xander and only Xander on his mind right that moment, making him growl and thrust.

And it's weird that he doesn't ask before tugging Xander to his knees, before lining himself and pushing but the feel of fur against his skin tells Xander all he needs to know.

So he says the words to himself. Relax, breathe, breathe and oh... feeling muscles pull all over as his body tried to adjust and understand and

"oh, God..."

Oz inside of him, so deep, hot and hard and this. This is getting fucked. This is getting fucked by a werewolf who likes mystery novels and pepperoni and trip-hop and Xander. Likes him so much he just wants to eat. him. up and oh he almost tries to fight it when the first wave of pleasure comes because.

Just too much to need it like that, but it's really too late to be worried about that so Xander lets it hit him.

Again, and again, letting it be open-mouthed and needful and working his own cock and pushing back and everything is this slow, incredible burn except that it's not very slow at all and he knows he's saying Oz's name.

Saying it a lot and earning deeper thrusts that catch him just where he needs it and make him call again.

And it's so good...

Kisses to the back of his neck, at least he thinks they're supposed to be kisses. Rough nuzzles and loud wolf purrs and Oz wraps his arms around Xander's chest and holds him so tight. Unexpected but not painful force as he thrusts and thrusts and Xander thinks it m ight not end and Xander thinks that it's maybe OK to be like this:

Hands and knees and spread and fucked by Oz, who likes him a lot.

And his body knows it's good and his cock is competing with it for goodness, drooling slick and rigid in his fist and finding a rhythm sends molten gold down his spine to pool somewhere just behind his cock, and his mouth is still wide open and his sounds are wordless.

Gonna blush everytime he sees that look on Anya's face when he drives into her, know it for his own and remember -- oh fuck remember.

And knowing he'll be able to feel that ache on command, knowing that there could be an again for this, and that the heat behind him is hunger and that the cock inside him is smooth and thick and slick and tastes so wild. Taste inside him now, feeling him, taking him and it feels like something breaks in his throat when he comes, something sharp and mindless and utterly unimportant.

Just shaking there, then, and trying not to collapse as the strokes get ragged and hard and fierce. Flat short growl with each and still driving Xander insane until the last thrust makes him yell again and

"oh, ffffuck..."

Oz coming inside him, hot and strange and somehow shocking. Something he hadn't considered and feeling it begin to leak is kind of ew and also blush-worthy.

Xander skips out on cuddling to shower, and Oz completely understands, communicates that with a rueful smile. Slipping back to human but still with a sheath and God. Just God.

Xander comes back with a warm, wet cloth to wash Oz down, but finishes the job with his mouth. The taste and feel of it, the strangeness and weight and wild gripping pulse of the sheath. By the time Xander leaves off his jaw is sore, and they're both hard again and Xander.

Wants it again.

And Oz makes it slow and hard this time and Xander is fisting the sheets and thinking: can't stop won't please don't stop again. Mostly human Oz, fingers tracing over the muscles of his back, cupping and scratching gently at the cheeks of his ass.

Spreading them further.

Whispering hot little words of want that are somehow also complete sentences, if short and breathy. Oz's voice like this is thick and stretchy as toffee, and Xander wants to bathe in it.

This time it really does last forever. Until the sheets are wet with their sweat and Xander's moans descend to helpless low gasps and he can't quite remember what it was like not to be skewered like this, pinned down and taken and held so thoroughly.

Later, they shower together, slow and tired and careful and kissing wet, eyes closed. Strip the sheets from the bed and sleep between two soft down comforters, tangled together and silent.

Waking in the circle of Oz's arms, Oz's forehead pressed against his back and Oz's scent everywhere, absolutely everywhere. The weekend passes much too quickly and he feels Oz not wanting him to leave, but he has to.

And the letters change, more behind the words, more books, more everything and it's not a surprise to open his door one night and find Oz there, chatting with Anya, helping her and Giles with a jigsaw puzzle.

Giles had given him more chairs as an apartment warming gift and it's... really nice to come home to a house full of people he likes and who like him. Even though it's really strange, too, and both Giles and Anya have very long looks for him.

And later, with Oz crashed on the old foldout, and the moon shining down on him and Anya through the tiny window into his bedroom... and it's that thought that does it. That pronoun. Anya has always had her own place, but the bed had always been theirs and she certainly spends more time in Xander's apartment than her own and now it... isn't.

Their bed. Not enough together time on it, though they still make love. Occasionally.

And he's thinking this when she says:

"Have you had sex with him?"

And the only thing to say is yes.

"So you're bisexual?"

"Um... I haven't really thought much about it..."

"I think I have to break up with you about this, Xander. It is cheating."

"I know, Anya, and there's no excuse and I'm sorry --"

"I want to have sex with women now."

"And... OK?"

"But only with ones who appreciate the horror of astroturf. The rest are all boring."

Xander blinks in what he hopes is a helpful manner and doesn't really know whether to laugh or pull her closer and beg her to reconsider because... because she's a really good friend, and she's beautiful, and he loves her.

Just maybe not the right way so what he does say is:

"Can we still be friends?" Which is just lame, but Anya doesn't seem to care.

"Orgasm friends or other friends?"

"Um..." And that is a tough question. The healthy thing to do would be... what? "Whichever you're comfortable with, Anya."

"I think I'd like to continue having sex with you sometimes. You always make me orgasm, which I understand is rare."

"I... um... try?"

And she snuggles him, and he can feel her simple, happy smile against his chest. "Will you have sex with Giles, too? Can I watch?"

"Er..." If you want? No, wait, that wasn't it. It was... uh... hmm. "I don't know?"

"That's all right, I'll give you time to think about it. Good-night, Xander."

"Good-night, Anya. I love you."

"I know." And a kiss on his chest. "Do you think Willow would like a threesome?"