Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Price Of The Key
By Just Human
For Buddy

So we were sweeping up glass, and I was remeasuring the living room window, again after the latest attack on the Summers' house. This place had seen way too much destructive action in the last couple of weeks, but as 'Xander Harris, personal handyman to the Slayer', I was bound and determined to pick it up and put it all back together again.

I had to anyway, because it took my mind off the things I wasn't going to be able to put back together - like Willow's guilt about last summer and Dawn's seemingly doomed childhood. Let's not forget Buffy stressing over Spike - 'scuse me while I spit - and my ex, who was having trouble dealing with everything, but especially me.

It ripped my heart out knowing how I hurt Anya. It ripped my heart out knowing how she hurt me back with Spike - 'scuse me while I spit. It ripped my heart out knowing that we were never going to figure it out and be together again.

In all the heart rending madness and evil researching, we came to some conclusions - well, Willow came to some conclusions, and the rest of us listened, because Willow = brain. Among the other nastiness of the First Evil, the Hellmouth was headed for an unscheduled grand re-opening. In good sidekick fashion, we all went, "What!" when Willow announced it. It wasn't like it was written in any kind of prophecy, but the unholy sacrificing going on indicated that the Hellmouth could be opened if you had the right kind of mystical key. We tried not to look at Dawn, really we did.

Fighting ensued followed by whining, fuming, more fighting and phone calls. We couldn't get a hold of Giles or the Council, which left us with one other supernatural channel - Angel Investigations.

On top of all the normal reservations, it was raining fire in LA. It had been going on for about a month. It came in the form of occasional showers, but the sky was almost always dark. Angel was able to tell us, and Willow was able to confirm, that what they had was one of the beasts of the First. It was part of a matched set along with tornadoes to the east of the Hellmouth and earthquakes to the north. That left water in the west - where we keep the entire Pacific Ocean - still yet to come. Angel was teaming up with some old enemies in LA to bring down the fire beast - if they did that, the water one might be stopped.

After long debate, and that pinching feeling of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, we made a decision. It was still better to send Dawn to LA than to leave the Key in the lock of the Hellmouth. The LA phones cut out before we could finish making all the arrangements - they stopped working when an actual firestorm hit. We figured that we knew enough.

So a few days before Christmas, Dawnie and I took off for Lala land in the hopes of finding safety.

What we found was a war zone. Wrecked cars, burnt out buildings, looters, the works. Power was constantly out in part of the city, but the area around the Hyperion still looked to be in fairly good shape when we parked under a nearby overpass - the firestorms were hell on your paint job. Wondering if I would ever see my car again, Dawn and I hurried along the street to the hotel's front door.


"Xander, let's turn around and go home. We'll tell Buffy that we made it to LA and didn't find Angel." Dawn was giving me her best sales pitch.

"Well, Dawn," I said in parental-Xander mode, "We could do that if we actually got to the point of looking for Angel where he's supposed to be. That, and then not finding him." Oh no! Not the outraged, deep sigh of frustration - Kids today, still thought that worked. Kinda like I did a few years ago. When did I get old?

"Dawn, I know you want to be home fighting next to Buffy, but the First Evil is specifically after the Key to finish the opening of the Hellmouth. For once, we're doing the sane thing and taking what the big bad wants out of town and someplace safe." There, reasonable, adult.

"Alright, but I don't think going to the place where it's raining fire qualifies as safe." Her voice was whiney and angry. More importantly, she had stopped moving and was glaring at me with her arms crossed in front of her chest - on the war-torn street with god knows what lurking in every shadow.

I had been putting up with this attitude for the entire car ride and was a bit fed up. "Ah, we're back to the part that I so love, where I have to defend Angel and admit that he's good at what he does. Oh, and not to mention the fact that he's still so gaga over your sister that he'll do anything to make Buffy happy. He's mixed up in all the crap that goes on in this damn city, and if he didn't think that he could protect you then he'd have said so." Taking a deep breath, I calmed down. "Look Dawn, I'm sorry, but we can't protect you at home from the evil takes the form of your bestest buds."

Dejectedly, Dawn said, "Fine." Of course, declarations like, 'fine' just beg trouble to come. We were not disappointed as some elfy looking vampire kid jumped between us. Well, I figured vampire, considering how high he had jumped. Fortunately, being from Sunnydale, we were well armed - with ballpoint pens? What had happened to my stake?

"Don't be afraid." The vamp obviously needed better opening lines.

"Yeah, right!" Dawn had her stake and she's charging. I was trying to get behind the vamp, but damn-it, he was fast.

"That's the Hyperion and the vampire Angelus lives there - you can't go in."

"Yeah, minion, I'm sure that you want to keep us safe from the big bad vamp - keep all the nummy goodness for yourself." I smoothly gave the bloodsucker the score.

"Hey! Think about staying still you undead...guy." Dawn, not so good with the quippage.

Now vampboy looks all indignant. "I'm not a vampire. I kill them."

"For the living, you kinda move like, I don't know, the undead." Perhaps my observation got to him, because we couldn't get near him. For some unknown vampy reason, he didn't seem to be attacking. He just kept trying to get between the hotel and us.

"Xander." I turned at the sound of my name, and there was Cordelia. Finally, a friendly face around here. "Cordy, good to see you. Like the haircut, you look good blond and..." Why did these things always hit me only after I opened my mouth? " ...pregnant." And why is it I can't stop them when I see 'em coming?

Cordy was apparently not interested in the niceties. She was heading toward vampboy, and I really hoped that there was this invisible weapon in her hand because otherwise, her hand was glowing on its own. "Good, you've brought the Key. Connor, your part in this is done. You may leave."

Christ! I was there trying to protect the Key, so I jumped in to cover. "Yeah Cordy, Dawn and I have brought the spare key to Buffy's house and that's the only key we have." What was she, nuts? Even if LA wasn't the home of the Hellmouth, you don't go around announcing that you've got nifty mystical girls with you.

The vamp kid got all agitated, stepping between Cordelia and us, but he had got his back to us, like he was in some kind of protect mode. "Run! You both should run. If the demonic harlot wants you, it can only mean destruction."

"Melodramatic, much?" Dawn and I said simultaneously and grinned at each other. Regrouped we looked at each other confused. Okay, I was the adult. I was supposed to be the calm one. Wasn't happening anytime soon, as the scene was suddenly crawling with black clad ninja types. Was "Crouching Demon, Flying Vamp" being filmed around here? Could the night have got anymore fucked-up?

"Dawn, I've got no idea what's going down. If we get separated, try to get into the hotel and find Angel. If nothing else, he won't let Buffy do-" I didn't finish my sentence, because a ninja had just knocked me on my ass. Dawnie staked one in the arm. He squealed and looked angry because a) not vamp and b)arm not the right target. I managed to kick ninja boy in the back of the knee and roll away long enough to check the rest of the scene.

There was about half-a-dozen ninjas getting tossed around like twinkies by Cordelia. This made it sink in that there was something wrong with my ex-girlfriend - besides the being pregnant part. She was headed straight for Dawn, who I was supposed to be protecting. Dawn and vampboy, meanwhile, both obtained some random car parts from a burned out wreck in on the street. I smiled for a sec because damn-it, they looked good together fighting evil.

That was when I remembered that I was supposed to be paying attention to the guy I was fighting. More specifically, I remembered when he landed a right cross. I saw stars in my future as the guy wound up again, when suddenly Angel was there sending ninja boy flying.

"Ah, thanks, Angel." That probably could have sounded more sincere, but hey, I didn't like the guy.

"Hi Xander. Uneventful trip...until now?" Angel was pummeling a ninja heading for vampboy's back.

"More or less. Uh, that glowy look Cordelia has?" Kinda curious, a lot.

"Holy avenger. Think opposite of Acathla. Force for good who wants to save the city by burning it to the ground."

"Cordy?!" Okay, there definitely needed to be some explaining here, but there was no time for it. The ninjas were trying to divide their time between Cordy and us. It wasn't working from either point of view, and the holy avenger was starting to get back into range.

Angel shouted to vampboy. "Connor, get her out of here and keep her safe." Angel trusted vampboy? Well, there was the part where he looked good fighting evil with Dawn.

"Xander! Angel!" Dawn was all panicky. Vampboy was looking defiant. Angel was fighting two ninjas at once, and Cordy had just tossed away her last obstacle on the way to Dawn.

No time to think when you're being a hero. I jumped in front of Cordy and tried to win her with my charm. "Cordy, long time no see. I see things have changed. Firestorms have brought a nice glow to your skin." She tried to dodge me at first, but I kept jumping in front of her. Then all I could see was her glowing hand hitting me in the chest.

Everything became slow and quiet. The glow was warm at first and then suddenly, it was about remembering an punishment. Brief painful flash for stealing Willow's green magic marker. Hot dagger pain in the arm for pushing Jessie into a locker and then claiming I tripped. Ball of fire in the gut for lying to Buffy about restoring Angel's soul. Flaming sword through the shoulder for kissing Willow out of turn. The last agony was colorfully imprinted with Anya in her wedding dress, alone at the altar. It was that fiery lance through the top of my skull that finally caused me to pass out.


I was sure that someone was pounding nails into my skull. Groaning - there was definitely groaning, and what was worse, I was pretty sure that it was coming from me. Cracking open an eye was a big mistake. It just made my migraine intensify.

"Good. You're awake."

In my humble, but first hand, opinion, there was nothing good about being awake or anything good in general. Suddenly, there was cold on the top of my head. Cold bad! Pushed cold away. Cold was being held in iron grip. Wait, cold dulled pain; cold good.

"Come on, let me help you sit up, and we'll pour some painkillers down your throat. You know, you're lucky; last couple of guys Cordy did that to didn't wake up."

The voice was familiar. The voice was promising painkillers, which automatically qualified the voice for sainthood. Cracking open both eyes this time, I caught sight of Angel, up close and personal, as the vampire helped me into a sitting position. I considered protesting, but then there was some little burnt orange colored pills under my nose and a glass of water to wash them down with. Finding I was capable of human speech, I asked,

"How long was I out?"

"Two hours. Like I said, not bad. Better than dead or on your way to a funny farm."

"What the hell did she do?" I had my eyes open a bit more. I was sitting on a sofa in what looked like the lobby of a hotel. Angel was sitting on a chair right in front of me, looking like he was watching for signs of me falling over. Okay, I'm not saying it was an inappropriate concern.

"She burned the sin and wrong doing out of you. It's a permutation of the demonic power she picked up on her last birthday."

"You guys go all out for gifts. I only ever gave her a cheap locket for Valentines Day when I was dating her."

Angel was frowning. I could never tell with Angel if that confused look was him living in an earlier century, or him simply not acknowledging the wonder that was Xander Harris. "It was the Powers That Be. The visions were killing her and the only way to let her live was to make her half-demon."

Great. It was official. Preying mantis teacher, Inca mummy girl, ex-vengeance demon, hell, even the affair-that-wasn't-an-affair with Willow was still with a witch. Cordelia had been the shining example that I could live a normal life. Not that I could live a wise life that kept me attached to the girl I loved, but normal none-the-less. It wasn't even like I hung out with normal girls. Buffy was the Slayer, Dawn was the- Shit!

"Dawn! Where's Dawn?"

"She's safe for the moment - "

"What do you mean, moment? Where is she?

"She's with Connor - he'll keep her safe. It was really a heroic thing you did with Cordy. It gave them time to get away."

I was not comforted by these words. "And Connor is the vampire like teenager who told us not to come in here because you're evil?"

Angel took a deep breath and looked like he was going to start explaining when he hung his head and stopped. Then he looked at me again. "Connor is incredibly complicated. I can tell you all about it while we look for him and Dawn. The simple version - he's human, but with all the speed and strength of a vampire. He's my son."

Of all the things that didn't make sense in that simple explanation, I latched onto one thing. "Did you lose your soul when you had sex again?" Again, it lacked all sorts of respect and tact, but Christ, I was sitting here alone, undefended and wounded in front of a potentially soulless vampire. I had a right to know.

"No, I didn't lose my soul." Gee, Angel sounded like he heard that one a lot, tough. "Look, we should get moving soon. Cordy'll recharge her battery and be on the streets in no time."

"Right." I thought about standing, but didn't actually do it. As the mental fog of Cordy's demon power was wearing off, the world was coming more and more into focus. Suddenly, I was feeling guilty about every bad thing I ever did and got away with - or at least, didn't pay for. Angel was watching me, waiting for me to get up. Watching me with those big brown, mournful eyes. I felt it rising in my chest trying to burst out my lips, and I couldn't stop it,

"I'm sorry! I lied to Buffy and told her that Willow said to kick your ass when I was supposed to be telling her that Willow was cursing you again."

He looked at me confused for a minute - like that last part wasn't as clear as mud. "Acathla? You're apologizing for being pissed at me five years ago when I was actively trying to destroy you and your friends, oh and not to mention the world?"

"Er...yeah. I don't know...I've never felt guilty about it before." Never, as in, except for a couple of weeks ago when Buffy told us it was the hardest thing she ever did, killing Angel and was still haunted by it. But that was different. That was me feeling guilty about hurting Buffy, not guilt about sending Angel to Hell - at least until now. There was something else there too, but it wasn't showing its face. Whatever it was, I didn't want to see it.

"It's okay; I deserved it. Look, what's happening to you is the aftereffect of Cordy's power. You probably feel guilty about cheating on math tests right now." Angel reaches out and squeezed my arm, friendly like. I'd like to say that I did the manly thing and didn't flinch, but that would be lying.

Math. Then there was this clear picture of me looking over Willow's shoulder. "God, you're right. Does this mean I have to track down Mrs. Donahue from the third grade and confess?" And by the way, he was still holding my arm.

He laughed at me, which I guess I deserved, and hey, he was smiling and not that demonicy 'I'm going to kill you all' smile.

"I...I can't tell you what you're going to have to do. I think, if you hold off, a lot of it will settle back into place, at least, the little stuff." Finally, he let go of my arm, and I tried to figure out why I was feeling a little less happy without the grip, when Angel jumped in again.

"Been working out since I last saw you - nice."

Oh, oh, my brain was reading way too much into that because Angel was not flirting with me, and, despite that voice in the back of my head, I did not want him to. This was bad. I was beginning to understand what that other feeling I had had before might be.

"Thanks." I coughed a little and put an extra foot or three of distance between us." Construction work. I'm...I'm good at it; foreman in charge of rebuilding the high school." Hey, I was having a proud adult moment. Go me.

"Yeah? Maybe when we've rescued Dawn and the harbingers of the Apocalypse have been put in their place, you could do some estimates for this place. Third floor is practically condemned and the rain of fire? - not helping." Hey! An out of town job, not too far out of town.

Angel was testing weapons on the other side of the room. He handed me a mace. Right! Rescue, stop the end of the world, then job; I had my priorities straight. "Does the whole place have the same art deco style working, cause it's good - except for maybe the really huge red pentagram on the floor." See, there were things that never boded well.

"Funny story about that..." Angel was being all casual - not. I gave him the patented stare of disbelief. He cracked. "Well, not so much funny, more...complicated. Come on, let's hit the sewers in case the firestorms start again. I'll tell you the complicated bit on the way to Connor's place."

It was funny. Angel the brood boy was being communicative and even - friendly. Was it a sign that he had changed or was it that I had just become one of the adults?


To avoid the possible firestorms, Deadboy and I had been walking the sewers of LA for at least twenty minutes or so. They were big city sewers, not like the ones at home built by maniacally evil entities intent on moving and hiding the undead populace. No, these were rat-infested metropolises all in their own right. Along the way, Angel filled me in on the 'complicatedness' that was apparently life in LA.

With the exception of a few facts, I though I was finally getting a handle on this supernatural version of Geraldo. "Okay, so I get the evil lawyers. I get them raising Darla, turning Darla, and don't get, but will temporarily accept, the not-so-virgin birth. Kidnapping and portals to other dimensions, sorry to say, every day kinds of things. What about them reject ninjas?"

"Minions of the evil lawyers."

"Okay." No, not okay. "I thought you said that you had a truce with them. Why where they attacking everyone?"

"My truce only extends as far as stopping Cordy and a couple of select prophesies. It doesn't go as far as Connor or any other mystical thing that lands in town that they're interested in. I should have realized that they'd be interested in Dawn. I'm sorry, I should have never told you to come."

Angel's hand was on my shoulder, stopping me in my tracks. While my natural instincts told me to crack a lame joke, I stayed quiet for once. Twice, actually. The sewers were really crowded these days, go figure with it raining fire on the surface. This was the fourth time Angel had stopped, sniffing the air like the Hound of the Baskervilles. Hey? Where'd that reference come from? I was making some English teacher somewhere happy.

Now of course, I didn't keep my mouth shut the first two times and had nearly got us killed, or at least me killed, by attracting some gangland demons. Funny thing was, everyone down here seemed to know who Angel was and, not that it was easy to read the expression on the face of something with one eye and two mouths, but I couldn't figure out what they were thinking. Some of them looked afraid in that 'please don't slaughter me' kinda way. Others were disgusted, but most of them kept backing up like Angel was carrying the plague. I could sympathize with that attitude having felt it myself. In fact, I would have been getting more of the warm fuzzies, if that was what I had been feeling now, but hate and disgust wasn't what was welling up in me.

The third time we had stopped, the other time I had actually kept my mouth shut, he pulled us into a side tunnel and had both of us face and lean up against the one wall that was shadowed. Problem was that the shadow was thin, and he wrapped an arm around me, pressing me tight against the cold stone to keep us hidden. A combination of the danger and the arm on my back was making me feel things that guys shouldn't feel in the company of other guys. Angel must have felt me panicking, because he pressed me harder against the wall and pulled me closer against his side.

Something that smelled like week old socks and sounded big shambled passed. We stayed against the wall for a while longer, Angel completely still except for the fingers that held the ribs in the middle of my chest. The fingers kept stroking me, in a 'let's comfort the terrified human,' kinda way. And the whole time, I'm trying to stop myself from humping the cold wall with my badly timed erection.

And now, this time there wasn't any side tunnels, so he grabbed me and pushed my back into a narrow alcove, pinning me in place with his body. This, I would like to note, woke up that erection again. He whispered to me,

"Pretend you're a little dazed, just like Parent-Teacher night."

When his breath tickled my ear, I was suddenly rock hard. I don't know if it was the physical sensation or the mention of Parent-Teacher night. Vividly, like the nightmares that came back every time Angel or Spike suddenly arrived in town, I remembered what it felt like to be sandwiched between the two of them, terrified and more horny than I had ever been in my entire life.

I could hear whispered voices,

"Man, we ducked in just in time before that shower started." There was laughing.

"Yeah, everyone except Petey. Did you see him rolling in the gutter, trying to put himself out?"

Third voice, "You'd think a vampire would have enough sense to come out of the fire." Now all of them were laughing and Angel was pulling back my head, licking my neck while grinding a hard thigh into 'little Xander,' who at that moment wasn't so little.

The vamps were still joking and getting closer, but I couldn't hear a word they were saying because my heart was pounding too loud in my chest and my entire attention was focused on what Angel was doing to my dick and my neck.

"Fe Fi Fo Fum, I think I smell...lunch." The vamps had gotten to us, and Angel spun away from me in game face. I was having no problem acting dazed. What I was having a problem doing was not whimpering over the loss of body contact. Fuck, what was wrong with me?

And while I should probably have been paying attention to the life and death threat in front of me, my brain decided to go down guilt street, a side alley of memory lane. I was suddenly seeing myself, watching Buffy and Angel engaged in adult activities. The guilt brought on by Cordy's damn demon power this time was all about being jealous. The scary part? I'm not jealous that it's Angel with Buffy, like I had always told myself. It was all the other way around.

"I'm not big on the sharing, boys, keep walking or you'll be too dusty to do it." There was this hot growly thing going on in Angel's voice that was at once making me afraid of him and, god help me, more horny for him.

The vamps skeddadled with Angel watching their backs for a while. Then Angel pulled back his beefy mitt, which had been pinning my shoulder, and slid back into human face. It occurred to me that he probably noticed the erection when he was grinding his thigh into it, a sensation that I was really missing at the moment. But he played it cool and backed off a couple of steps.

"You okay?" He was asking me if I was okay? I was crawling demon filled sewers, discovering that Willow wasn't the only member of the 'We Hate Cordelia Club' with gay inclinations.

"Yeah, I'm good." I knew it was a lie, he knew it was a lie, but this was classic guy denial stuff and we were apparently both good with it.

"We've got another block and we'll be there. Let's go." Dutifully, I followed, wondering if the life would be easier if I tossed myself out into the firestorm.


After walking through a scary looking warehouse of animal heads and other assorted parts, we entered a back room set up like a mini-apartment. There wasn't much to it, and even with the industrial feel, it still was better than my parents' basement. Angel was standing pretty quiet in the center of the room, doing his bloodhound routine.

Now that we were in the light, I took a good hard look while he was otherwise occupied. He really hadn't changed much, one of the benefits of being undead - if there were any benefits to being dead. Anyone could tell at just a glance that there was power hidden under all those dark clothes. What wasn't as obvious waw the grace and dexterity. After having followed him through occasionally rough terrain in the sewers, I knew there was nothing clumsy about him. Overall, a great package if you could let the hair thing go. I stopped and wondered when the hell I started checking out other guys.

Needing to really get out of this mind frame, I started talking. "So, you getting any? Er - anything! Are you getting anything?" Oh, yeah, and when was the last time my mouth had gotten me out of trouble. He'd been looking at the bed and seemed startled when I spoke, like he'd forgotten that I was there. Maybe there was hope that he didn't actually hear what I had just said. He tried to cover the inattention by moving around the room.

"No. It's been a couple of days since Connor was here. Cordy stayed here a while ago...I can still smell her." And there was something seriously creepy about his face that made me mosey to the other side of the room, by the door, and start poking at empty soda cans.

"Yeah, and what about other women - say seventeen year-old sisters of the Slayer?"

"No one has been here for days, and from what I can determine, Connor was here alone." I jumped back three feet and nearly shit. Some guy with an English accent had snuck in behind me, not making a sound.

"Not bad, Wesley, I didn't hear you until you hit the stairs. Metal treads are a killer when you're out for stealth." Angel's voice sounded pretty condescending to me, but Wesley was smiling.

Shit, that was Wesley? Since I'd taken up the habit that day of checking out other men, I figured that I might as well enjoy it before my brain exploded. He was not all suit and nervous geek anymore. He was wearing jeans and a long sleeved T that was a little too tight around the shoulders. He definitely had been working out. With the glasses gone, he looked more confident - confident in a way that felt menacing.

"I'll take that as a compliment. Cordelia knows this place; Connor wouldn't have brought the Key here." Angel was staring at the bed in that creepy way again, and I didn't like Wesley talking about one of my friends as a thing.

"Hey, why don't we skip all the fancy titles and call Buffy's little sister, Dawn, because it's her name and that's what we usually do with human beings. Wouldn't want anyone getting the wrong impression and start devaluing a human being." Okay, there was still some bitterness where Wesley was concerned.

It took everything I had to hold up to the icy stare that Wesley gave me, because Christ, it made me want to go hide under that bed that Angel was so fascinated in. When the hell had Wesley gotten scary? Oh! No, not now! It was all bubbling under the surface again, and I bit my lip trying not to let it out.

Too late, it all rushed out at somewhere near the speed of sound. "Wesley, I'm sorry we treated like crap on the bottoms of our shoes. And...and I'm sorry I laughed every time Faith called you Princess Margaret."

I wondered if I had grown a second head, 'cause that's how he was looking at me. Angel came to save my ass. "Cordy burned the sin out of him. It's the guilt over treating you bad that's coming out." Okay, so maybe 'save' was a less than accurate description.

Wesley started doing that knowing Watcher nod thing as he strolled over to me and gave my arm a manly squeeze. A really tight manly squeeze; he really had been working out. "Xander, I appreciate that you'd rather go on just hating me, but since you went to the effort of saying it all, you're forgiven." Still holding my arm, he looked at Angel. "Forgiveness is such an elusive quality nowadays." Okay, these guys obviously had issues with each other and I was thinking that I didn't want to be in the middle of them.

I was trying to think of the best way to get away from Wesley while maintaining an air of cool. That was when Wes let go of my arm and smiled this evil looking smile at me. "No need to apologize for the Princess Margaret comment. I do suppose I was rather prissy." Hello? What was with him stroking my cheek with one of his prissy fingers?

"If you didn't think he'd come here, why'd you come?" Thank God, Angel broke the tension - cause honestly, it was sexual tension and that kind of tension with Anya or the Playboy Playmate of the month is one thing, but with Wesley, it's something completely different. And strangely enough, it was different than the sexual tension between Angel and me that was going on. I wondered how the fuck I could get out of this. Followed immediately by, how the fuck did I get into it?

"I came here looking for other clues for where he might be. In case you've forgotten, I'm a detective." Okay folks, welcome to Deathray Match 2000. Glad I wasn't caught in the middle of that staring contest. So of course, I decided to open my mouth.

"I thought you guys were friends." Great, now they were both looking at me, and I got the added bonus of the sexual tension they had for each other.

Wesley started picking up random objects while he talked. "Quite a lot has passed between Angel and I recently. Really, we're much more like family - you can't develop this much enmity between friends." There was this roller coaster ride of emotions going through Angel until he finally settled on a nasty looking glare. Thankfully, it was for Wesley.

"Oh come on, Wes, we both know your girlfriend has got this place bugged. Don't tell me that you actually had to come here to confirm the facts."

"I'm not here for Lilah. More precisely, I'm here in spite of her." Wesley tossed what looked like a mini-camera onto the bed. Something clicked from Angel's earlier story.

"Isn't Lilah the bitch queen of the evil lawyer place?"

"While I'm sure she'd happily answer to 'bitch queen', her actual title is 'Division Head of Special Projects'. The point is that I don't work for Lilah or anyone else." Okay, he was back to glaring at Angel. "Lilah wants to get her hands on...Dawn," Hey, Wesley acknowledged me with a look. Score one for team Xander.

"So what were you going to do with her?" Angel was looking at Wesley hard like Wes had a nasty little thing for teenaged girls. Wesley sighed and gave Angel this long-suffering look, just like the ones that Giles used to give me anytime I opened my mouth.

"I was going to get her on a bus out of town to anywhere else. She's no safer here than at the Hellmouth. Based on what I've been able to piece together about Cordelia's mission, she's made it an agenda item to destroy the Key - to kill Dawn." Now he had my full attention and apparently Angel's too. I beat the dead guy to the punch.

"Why the hell would Cordy want to kill Dawn? What the hell is her mission?"

Wesley did the Watcher thing. "Her mission is to give birth to a demonic champion that will bring the Beast to its knees. Along the way, she can do anything else to fight for the Good. Apparently, the methods or the number of innocents that are lost along the way are inconsequential." Wesley was looking at Angel and there was something almost sympathetic in his eyes. "She needed the seed of the Destroyer, Connor, to do it."

Angel was livid, pacing around the room, looking for something to break. He chose the bed, and started shredding the cheap mattress. For once, Wesley and I were on the same page. What Angel really wanted was to be beating the two people who had had sex there.

"We all know she slept with Connor." Angel was pointed at the remains of the bed and this explained some of the creepier looks earlier. "It was less than a month ago. Wesley, she looks eight or nine months pregnant!" Deadboy had a point there.

"Angel, the baby is part demon on Cordelia's side. She's about to give birth and if you think that the city is in trouble now, you haven' t seen anything." And as fascinating as all this was, it wasn't getting to the point I needed to get to.

"None of this is helping us find Dawn. Angel, you said she'd be safe with Connor, but call me cynical, I'm not convinced."

Wesley answered. "Angel is right. Connor will keep her safe - at least as safe as a seventeen-year-old girl can be with a randy boy of nearly the same age. Hopefully, he's learned about condoms since the incident with-" My fist stopped the rest of that sentence. I didn't give a fuck if it was probably true and that Wesley seemed to be on my side. I managed to turn his head, but he didn't move otherwise. Christ! I had put a lot into that punch, and he barely blinked.

"You don't talk about Dawn that way. You don't talk about Dawn at all. I saw enough of your style with the box of Gavrok and how freakin' easy it was for you to give up Willow. Unless you have something useful to contribute, maybe you should take off and let Angel and I get back to work."

Wesley looked up at me in full vamp face and gave me this shit-eating grin, wiping a trickle of blood from his split lip. I had the good grace to be scared shitless.

Before I could think of anything, he heading toward my and had licked my lips before plunging right in with his tongue. Most parts of my brain were screaming to push him off. Apparently, the brain was not in contact with the body that was urging me to grab hold of Wesley. There were definite growls in the background when I surfaced from the daze of pleasure. I heard Angel's voice,

"What would your girlfriend think, Wesley?"

Wesley laughed, "Do you really want to know what Lilah would think?"

All I was thinking was that a sandwich would go good about now, a Xander sandwich with vampire bread. I was begging God for anybody to help me. Taking a hint from Angel's growl, Wes seemed to be backing off, which was good because he recognized Angel's claim on me. Why did my brain think this was a good thing?

Wesley laughed at Angel and at me and then he tossed a piece of paper in my direction. It was some kind of ticket to a concert or something. "What the hell is this?"

Notice how I stayed focused on the mission and didn't get caught up in other things, like why was Wesley a vampire.

Wesley kept backing off. "A ticket to a rave. Despite the decided lack of safety in this city, it seems that young people still need a place to gather for loud music, bottled water and 'E'." The arrogant bastard sauntered to the door and turned back to Angel. "Be careful what you drink - oh, I guess it really doesn't matter." Angel was growling again. "You know, Angel, if you change your mind, Lilah would love a present like that." Wesley was looking at me, and I knew I was turning six shades of red. Then he was gone.

I turned to look at Angel, and hey, didn't have to look far because he was practically on top of me. He held my hand...up to look at the ticket. Still, I wasn't seeing a need for all the distracting bodily contact.

"Angel, why is Wesley a vampire, and why haven't you staked the poor soulless bastard?"

"Come on, Xander, we're wasting time."


We were on the surface streets. Keeping up with Angel was just as rough as trying to keep up with Buffy when she was on the move. Finally, I caved,

"Angel, hold up." I leaned against the wall of a building, bending over with my hands on my knees. I was breathing too hard to hear whether or not he stopped, so it came as a shock when there was a large hand on my shoulder.

"Sorry, I forget." Angel's hand was stroking my back; he might as well have been stroking my cock. Finally catching my breath, I stood up, hoping Angel would back off.

"You know, I think I can manage this without the assistance. Thanks anyway."

Okay, my back was now against the wall and there was a vampire in my face. Apparently, I didn't adequately convey my issues with our relative positions.

"You smell like, Wesley." This was all done with a creepy quiet voice around my face and neck.

"Well, I guess if you have a sense of smell than a great Dane and are on top of me, I suppose you could-" I had to stop, because he was licking my mouth. Fuck if I didn't open up for it too. Suddenly, I felt like the neighborhood hydrant that all the dogs needed to mark. I shoved really hard against Angel's chest. He backed off, but left me with the distinct impression that it was only because he wanted too.

"So are you kissing me or Wesley?" My mouth has never been my friend. I realized it years ago and now blame friends for not beating me into silence. "What I mean is-"

"You. Wes just knows how to piss me off, touching what's mine."

"Stop!" I had both hands in front of me as if my pathetic efforts would somehow stop the really strong and potentially psychotic vampire. "'Mine' is such a possessive word - used on it's own. I'm sure you meant something like more like 'my' as in, 'My look, there is the friend of the love of my undead existence.'"

Okay, now his hand was on my cock, if you didn't count the protective layers of cotton and denim. Not that the situation wasn't looking dire enough, but we were still out on a public street with various unsavory and displaced individuals passing by. Not much protesting I could do, with Angel's mouth covering mine. After a few minutes, there wasn't any protesting that I wanted to do. Was it impending apocalypses that brought out the sex maniac in Angel?

While I had never gone to the effort to prove it, I had always suspected that guys would do, well, just about anything to get off. This constituted extreme on many levels, but I was starting not to care. Perhaps more scary was that I was already past liking it and was at wanting and needing it. Before I could protest the lack of body contact, he had pulled me into an alley and had pinned me against another wall. I guess this was what passed for privacy in the big city.

My hands were locked around the back of his neck, trying to hold him in place so that my mouth could explore his. I wanted to return the favor of what he was doing to me, rough caresses all over my mouth as he tongue-fucked me into desperate moans. When he started sucking on my tongue, there were other immediate thoughts of the better uses that mouth could be put to. My hips were rocking off the wall trying to grind against him, but the bastard was just far enough away to keep me wanting.

Fire ripped through me as something sharp burned my tongue in pain and pleasure. Oh my fucking god, he had bitten me! With half opened eyes, I could see him staring at me with golden eyes as I bucked wildly off the wall. God, every time he sucked more blood out of the wound, the tiny needles of pain fueled the fire in my cock. Some muffled voice from somewhere said, "Quit being such a god-damned tease and fuck me!"

Oh, that voice had come from me.

Yellow demon eyes were boring into me, his lips shiny with my blood. Dazed with need, I could only stand there and wait for him to act. It wasn't long before he was moving again. The button of my jeans ricocheted off somewhere, never to be seen again, while my zipper flew apart. I didn't think I could get any harder, but Angel was on his knees in front of me worshiping my cock and balls with his tongue. Long rough strokes were pulling out moans and whimpers that I just couldn't help.

The friction that I had been so desperate for was now so close, but the bastard kept teasing me with his tongue. No one could be as needy as I felt at that moment. With every wet swirl of his tongue around the head, he made me into a bigger basket case. Oh fuck! An iron hand wrapped painfully around the base of my cock! Damn-it, there was no way that I was coming with that vice-like grip. I was about to shove him away, when he started sucking me off. Not that Anya had needed lessons, but apparently, she was only a talented amateur, or maybe it was just the nasty inconvenience of needing to breathe that had slowed her down.

The pain and pleasure of the experience were short-circuiting my brain, and all I could do was beg. "You fucking bastard! This is too fucking good; let me come. I need to come." Angel was looking up at me and laughing with his eyes. Next thing I knew, I was trying to push my ass through the bare brick when he started slapping my balls. All I could manage was a mixture of incoherent babbling.

Angel slowed down a little, alternating massaging and squeezing my balls, varying the pain and pleasure. Losing all track of time, I had no idea how long he kept me on the edge. At some point, I could hear the clink of metal and the slide of leather as he opened his own pants. I could have really cared less since the only thing I could concentrate on was what his mouth had started doing to my dick when he gently scraped it with his teeth and fangs.

Cold! His mouth was gone. I looked down and there was this wicked smile on his face. His hand still had me in the deathgrip that was not letting me come.

Oh! There was this sudden fantasy image of me spurting all over him just like we were now, with him on his knees - huge turn on.

But I was getting the distinct idea that I had no control whatsoever in this situation, mostly, because I had no control whatsoever in this situation. He shifted, and I glanced down further. Impressive. Porn star impressive. Despite years of straight living topped, apparently, with huge amounts of denial, I wanted to touch him. Hell, I'd have been happy to suck him off. This was all, of course, contingent on me getting off first.

It shouldn't have been that arousing for me to watch him stroking himself, but damn me if it wasn't. The thumb that was massaging the underside of my dick was probably not helping this impression. I watched in rapt fascination as he used the glittering drops of pre-cum to lube himself up. Then he was raising one of those drops on a fingertip, close to my mouth. I backed off, but then it was too tempting. Bobbing my head forward, I took in his finger like it was practice for what I'd like to do to his dick. I sucked on his finger in the hopes he would take the hint and go back to working on me.

Instead, he spun me around to face the wall, barely letting go of my cock to readjust for the new position. He started grinding his enormous dick into the fleshy part of my ass. Some tiny part of me still didn't think that I should like this, but overall, loving every minute. Suddenly, the death grip was gone and he was working me with both hands, as I panted, looking for relief up against the cold bricks. It only took a couple of seconds, and then I was coming into his hand.

All I wanted to do was cuddle with the bricks for a minute, but one hand was holding my hip still and the other was setting off all kinds of alarms as it slid between my ass cheeks. "Angel!" There was panic in my voice - rightly so. Then his mouth, that talented mouth, was sucking on my neck. Vampire, neck, it should have all been a bad thing, but God help me it wasn't.

"Relax," Angel said. 'Relax for what?' I thought. Then his finger lubed with my own come was sliding into my ass. Before I could decide on an appropriate reaction, there was a second finger next to the first and they were angling around looking for --- Holy Shit!

I didn't have to wait long for a repeat. Damn-it! Shouldn't the health videos at school have told me about that spot? I didn't know if I was doing anything right, but my ass was sliding around, trying for more contact. Those fingers were working me, becoming three and doing some scissoring. I wanted more, but I had no fucking idea what 'more' might be until there was something hard and round and slick paused where those fingers had been.

"A..." I let out hesitantly, hoping that somehow the lack of language would still voice all my concerns.

He told me to relax again and started slowly pushing in. Like everything else he'd done to me that night, it was pain and pleasure all mixed together. I tried to relax, but that was not the easiest concept. He stopped periodically and licked my neck, letting me get used to the feel. One of Angel's hands wrapped around and started stroking my half-hard cock, as he pushed in the rest of the way.

The sensation of being filled was...oh God. I wanted to stand there a while and enjoy it, but Angel had other ideas. He was sliding in and out when the angle shifted, and he was pressing the magic button again. At the same time he was stroking my cock. I felt like I was going to fly apart with all the sensation, cock, ass and neck.

My fingers bleed because I clawed the wall so hard. If that wasn't bad enough, there were brick marks on my face.

"Mine!" He kept repeating in my ear as he literally fucked me into the wall. "Say it, Xander. I want to hear it."

Why the fuck did he think, I was capable of human speech? Some part of me wanted this to go on forever and if keeping my mouth shut made that happen, then I could be quiet.

Except for the deep breathing...and the moans..."Damn!" And the nips at my neck. I was shaking my head and not giving in.

"Mine!" he growled and shifted my whole body so that he was pushing at a new angle. All I could see were stars and all I could hear was the pounding of my own heart. Apparently before, he had only been grazing my magic button - there's got to be a name for that - and suddenly there was an explosion of sensation happening in my body with every thrust. Fuck! It hurt so good!

"Yours! God, Angel, you own me, yours, yours." He kept pounding me hard as I unloaded against the bricks, clenching every muscle in my body. He roared and pinned my chest against the wall, as he started slamming in with no regard for my comfort. Somehow I knew that I was going to remember this as good, even though I wasn't going be able to walk straight afterwards.

His arms were tight around my belly as he came in my ass. At the same time, he was biting the back of my neck where it joined the shoulder. No doubt there was blood, but it wasn't like he went for the major arteries that were so nearby.

We just stood there quietly, sharing the night as the reality of the neighborhood sounds filtered back in. Angel licked the wounds he had inflicted on my neck. "Xander, I've wanted to do this to you for years. Always knew you'd be a damn good fuck."

"Not that I've had any experience in the arena of manly love, but that was amazing enough for me to want to do it a couple of weeks when I get my strength back. Hey, don't wiggle like that 'cause I might have to start liking you if it keeps when it's down."

My mouth had apparently won the argument with my brain. The rest of my body was cheering in victory as well. Not that I wanted to be around Angel long term, but he had certainly opened my eyes about some old anxieties, like Larry and leaving Anya at the altar. Of course, I wanted the short term to last a little longer; I'm a cuddler by nature. Angel had other ideas though, because he was tucked in and zipped up before I could even push off the wall.

I was about to protest when he smacked me hard, in a good way, on the ass. "Come on, Xander. We've got to find Dawn."


"Oh shit!" I gaped at him in disbelief for letting me get diverted like that. He smiled this shit-eating grin because he was able to do it. I'm dressed in thirty seconds flat. Angel didn't give me a chance to yell at him and took off down the alley at a pace I could just about follow at.

The ticket we were following was over a week old, but sure enough, there was a serious party going on at the warehouse a few blocks away. We scoped the bouncer and the crowd of teens clamoring to get in. Angel frowned.

"They're not in there, but I bet they're nearby." He started scanning the rooftops while I looked at the lousy section of town we were in. What the hell could they have been doing if they weren't inside dancing and hopefully avoiding drugs? What had just happened to me in a local alley flashed into view, but I was really hoping Dawn was too much of a girl to put up with a dirty alley.

"Touch him, Wesley, and I'll rip off your arm." My thoughts, in order, were, 'Why is he calling me Wesley? Who am I gonna touch that will cause Angel to break my arm? And, hello, how the hell did Wesley sneak up on me again?'

Wesley walked passed me, close, but he didn't touch, saying, "You smell familiar now, don't you?" With great dignity and a complete lack of a comeback, I remained silent.

Wesley said, "Some of the teens spotted them earlier, but they're no longer inside. I suggest -"

"The roofs." Angel filled in. "But where to start?"

"Indeed." Wesley started scanning the skyline with my favorite Deadboy. What? Spike had lived in my parents' basement with me for weeks and the only managed to traumatize me by shrinking the laundry.

I, being more contrary by nature and much more of a ground dweller, started looking in the crowd again. Looking until I spotted what looked like a pair of giant fire worms crawling up the side of building in on the cross street.

"Ah, guys?" I pointed.

Both vamps swore. Angel in English and Wes in, well, English, but it sounded completely different. They both bolted for a fire escape on the opposite side of the building. I followed as fast as my non-preternatural legs could carry me. "Anyone want to tell me what those things are?"

Apparently not, both of them were charging up the fire escape like they were cheetahs moving on flat ground. Completely ignored, I made my way up at my own pace. I was panting by the time I reached the top, and Wesley helped pull me over the ledge into the frantic arms of Dawn.

"Xander! Are you okay?"

Pulling out of her chokehold, I pushed her back looking for obvious damage, bruises, cuts, empty condom wrappers. God! Buffy was going to kill me. "I'm okay, what about you?"

"Worried about Connor. Let me have that mace; I want to go help!"

Wesley decided to be helpful, not. "I believe that Angel owns Xander's weapon you should really ask-" Overcoming my terror, I got in Wesley's face and whispered,

"Angel, he touched me."

"Ah, hello!" Dawn hated being ignored. "Don't you think we should help with the evil caterpillars?" We both stopped glaring at each other long enough to watch the fight. Angel and Connor were actually laughing as they bounced off the various roof features distracting the bugs. Wes and I both said, "No." Then we both took two steps away from each other, completely creeped out.

"Fine, but the least one of you two could do is explain what's going on." I opened my mouth and nothing came out because honestly, I didn't have the full story. Fortunately, Wes still had the annoying Watcher gene with all the answers.

"Dawn, as you know, the First Evil wants to use you to open the Hellmouth. The Fire Beast here in LA would be more than happy to assist with your return to Sunnydale. The fire worms are here looking for you. By the way, that means that Cordelia won't be far behind."

"Xander!" I'd got arms full of nervous girl, and I quietly filled in the rest of the blanks.

"And Cordy is working for the opposite side and thinks the only right thing to do is destroy the Key." Dawn looked between the two of us and pushed off me so she could rant better.

"It's just like Glory and the Knights of Bad-clothes-sense all over again. What you're telling me is that not only do I have no shot at a normal life, but I'm doomed to repeats?"

Wesley handed her a big manilla envelope. "I can't promise you anything, but I can offer another option. Those are false ID's for Connor and you. I gave you both the same last name so you can pass for brother and sister or as a married couple - there's also a marriage license and quite a bit of cash. You should both get on a bus and head east or south."

Connor and Angel had finished slagging the worms with only a minimal singeing. I was looking over Dawn's shoulder at the papers, when Connor snarled and launched himself at Wesley,

"Undead beast, get away from her!"

A big knife appeared in Wesley's hand out of nowhere as he dropped into a fighting stance, game face an all. Angel grabed Connor by the shoulder and hauled him back a few steps. Dawn looked like she wants comfort, and Uncle Xander was waiting with open watch her rush over to Angel Jr.

"It's okay, Connor," she said. "I've been practicing staking with Buffy; she's been training me." Then she did that thing girls do when they want to pump a guy's ego. "I mean, I can take care of myself if I have to, but you're so good, I'd let you stake vamps for me."

The vampires and me rolled our eyes as Connor took the bait and puffed up like - some kind of cocky male animal that puffs up when the female of the species is interested. He also immediately lost interest in slaying the ex-Watcher. I debated the goodness of that.

Wesley was aware of the potential danger of sitting around up here and broke the mood, thank God. "Connor, you're in almost as much danger in LA as Dawn is. I've just given her everything the two of you need to get away from here."

"I'm not afraid, and what makes you think they wouldn't follow?" Connor not happy with Wesley.

Angel heaved a sigh. "He's right, Connor. Cordelia, the fire beast, and the First Evil are all locked down in this area. Take Dawn and get away."

"Xander!" Dawn was hanging on my arm. "Take me home to Buffy. She needs us. We'll find away to stop the First."

I wanted to tell her yes, but Angel went to sit on the edge of the roof, watching his shoes like he knew that there was a decision that he didn't want to make. When I looked at Wesley, I could see that he had already made it. He was going to side with Cordy on this one if he had to.

Connor must've seen it too because he walked right over and glared at Wesley, who glared right back. "You can't destroy her. It would anger Lilah. What would you do if your demonic lover left you? But you're a demon yourself, you don't know anything about love."

Wesley laughed at him. "Yes, Lilah would very much like to get her hands on the Key and the child of two vampires. But you have a lot to learn about love, lad. Part of my husbandly duties are to thwart her plans so that we can fight and have fabulous make-up sex, which by the way, is only mildly better than the sex I would get if I brought even one of you home as a present."

Dawn, who was hiding behind me, apparently thought that Wesley would expend his energy pummeling me if she pissed him off. "Someone married you?"

Wesley laughed some more. I was glad someone was having a good time. "Technically, no. But, after your girlfriend is turned in to a vampire and then left on your bed as a present along with the ax to kill her, one starts reevaluating. I couldn't dust her; she turned me and didn't kill me. Love by any other name." Wesley was looking me in the eye the entire time he spoke.

Dawn was ewwing, and Connor rushed to comfort her. I broke off my stare with Wesley and turned to Angel who was already looking at me with smoldering eyes. It was all starting to come into focus. It was all about strings of dead fish and rose petals and carefully posed lovers. I was a dead man and if Connor and Dawn didn't get out...

Nodding, I turned back to Dawn and Connor. "Dawn, for the sake of the fucking world and because of all the bad things that are going to happen if you don't, you're getting on a bus and heading far away from here. And Junior, unless you're some kind of coward, you're getting on the bus with her and are going to protect her."

Dawn and Connor argued with Wesley and me all the way to the bus station, but my persistent arguments convinced Dawn to get on the bus and Connor felt compelled to follow. I waved until the bus was out of view and turned to Angel who had a possessive hand on my shoulder. Wesley had vanished, leaving us alone.

"What made you lose the soul?"

He backed away and frowned at the ground. "Connor and Cordelia having sex." Angel snorted and shook his head. "Kinda the opposite of a moment of perfect happiness. Wolfram & Hart say that I still have it, but I can't feel it. They're pretty excited because the souled vampire is acting dark."

"So would you like to kill me now or kill me later?" God, that cartoon used to be funny. Angel was back on top of me with his hand on my face, pulling me into the shadows near the terminal.

"No. Family is all gone. I...I need someone to be with me for all time; someone who won't leave."

Dead was one thing. Being something that Buffy would have to stake was another. I started to fight. When he pinned me against the wall, all I could see were the glimmer of fangs and golden eyes. It was all slow motion after that.

My hands were trapped above my head as I performed my death dance, chest to chest, with the animal that was going to consume me. Angel's free hand was almost gentle as it pulled my head to one side, exposing the precious arteries. He licked the spot hard, making the blood rise up as if my pounding heart needed any help. Pain and pleasure - no different then the sex had been. I was crying because I didn't want to die, but some twisted voice inside was urging submission. The voice won. My captive hands strained to hold Angel and not push him away.

As I felt the last of my life draining into Angel's mouth, I heard Wesley's voice penetrating the darkness.

"See you soon, little brother."