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

By Trekker
For k

"I used to have such a crush on you," Andrew says. The firelight is flickering on his face as he sits, elbows propped on knees, cheeks propped on curled hands. He's not looking at Xander; Instead, he's looking deep into the heart of the flames. "You know," he says, his voice slow and drowsy and calm, "Back in the 'Dale."

He says it as though three years is a lifetime.

Maybe it is, Xander thinks. They're up at the far edge of the camp in the middle of the savannah, up on a small rise so Xander can see the eight other fires and the shadows of the girls and the other Watchers who sit around them, waiting for midnight, when the battle can be fought. He blinks, feeling, as he does each time, the odd squeeze of his right eyelid pressing into the empty socket beneath it. Yeah. A lifetime.

"So what changed?" he says, even though minutes have passed since Andrew spoke. "Was it the eye? Or did I just get boring?"

He looks over and sees Andrew smile, a small, maybe wistful gesture. "Nah. Guess I just figured out it was hopeless."

For some reason, that sends a small sadness through Xander. He isn't sure what the source is; he's not sure if it's sympathy for the feeling of hopeless attraction, or regret... for what, he's also not sure. And it's either that sympathy or that regret or possibly just polite habit that makes him say, "Hey, nothing's ever hopeless."

Even though maybe that's about the stupidest thing he could say. Or maybe the cruelest.

Right before Giles had sent Andrew to Buffy in Italy, he'd made a cryptic remark about a little hope being a dangerous thing. Xander had just let it pass--since half the things Giles said were cryptic--and when that guy moved in with Giles a few months later, after Andrew was securely settled in Rome, Xander had never made the connection.

Now, with that smile finally touching Andrew's eyes, with Andrew sitting up straight instead of slouched over, Xander gets it. "Oh," he says.

"Oh, what?" Andrew says, breathless and holding very deliberately still.

"Uh, Andrew, I didn't mean-- I just meant--"

He sees the wind go out of Andrew's sails, even as Andrew says, with forced brightness, "Oh. Oh, no. I didn't think-- I mean-- I mean, I know. Sure. Like I said. Gave up."

Now he's got his arms wrapped around his shins, with his chin on his knees. His brow is furrowed and Xander can almost hear what he's thinking, knows it's something harsh, something angry, something self-deprecating. Knows because he had those thoughts himself. Still does, sometimes, but less. A lot less, for which he's eternally grateful.

"I just meant don't sell yourself short," he says. But that's stupid, too. Empty.

"Yeah," Andrew says. The flame reflects on his eyes and the light dances on his curls.

A heavy silence fills the air between them, broken only by the crackle-pop of the fire and the low murmurs of the Slayers. Xander checks his watch. Still two hours and thirteen minutes to go.

Andrew sighs.

When Xander looks, Andrew quickly looks away, focusing somewhere else as though fascinated by something in the nondescript, pitch-dark brush. There's no doubt that crush isn't as gone as Andrew says.

They spend the rest of the eternal two hours alternating between small talk and sci-fi talk and long, awkward pauses.

The battle arriving is almost a relief.


And then it's over and the world's safe one more time and the injured girls have been packed into helicopters and sent home and the rest of them are settling back into camp. Xander has a cut on his arm, but otherwise he's unscathed. Andrew's got a black eye coming on, looking like a misplaced shadow in the grey light of predawn. He's limping. But he's smiling, and laughing. "Did you see her? That was awesome."

His Slayer, Kelly, had kicked three demons across the battlefield. It was a move even Buffy would have been proud of. "Yes, I saw," Xander says, smiling slightly even as he tries to sound irritated. "I saw the last three times you asked me, too."

"My Slayer is the best Slayer ever," Andrew declared decisively, and Xander had to laugh, thinking that if Giles were given to sweeping, hyperbolic statements of that nature, he probably would have declared the same thing about Buffy at some point. Must be one of those Watcher things. Like that whole my-dad-can-beat-up-your-dad thing.

"Hey, com'ere," Andrew says, suddenly sounding serious. "Let me fix your arm."

"I can--"

"Aw, come on. Let me have my moment, here," Andrew says, and even as his eyes sparkle, there's a sudden and surprising calmness there. Almost... maturity. "I mean, even if it is hopeless, I can at least sneak a grope now and then."

"Aren't you supposed to be subtle about sneaky, nonconsensual groping?"

"Nah," Andrew says, as he returns to Xander with gauze and tape and alcohol wipes, "Subtle never worked for me. Besides, now you know all my secrets, anyway."

So, this is Andrew high on endorphins. This is Andrew making a last-ditch effort. This is Andrew taking to heart 'nothing's ever hopeless.'

This is Andrew ordering him to take off his shirt, and not hiding the flick of his eyes, or the way they linger.

And something in Xander stirs a bit. It's been a long time since he's felt that. But maybe not as long as he thought. Because he can't remember his skin tingling quite exactly like that when Anya trailed her fingers over that same skin that Andrew's touching, but he can remember a feeling strangely similar from the time Robin Wood had stepped up right behind him to correct his grip on a sword during a fencing lesson, a feeling he brushed off that time like he had so many times before. It could be post-battle hormones. It could be he's flying just as high as Andrew right now.

But the last time he felt this way, the way he feels now with Andrew ever-so-delicately working the alcohol around the edges of his wound without yet touching the hurt flesh, was... well, he can't quite remember the last time he felt like this, exactly. Andrew's touch is as delicate as bird wings, and his eyes are dark with concentration as he brushes antiseptic over the torn places and then wraps the white gauze around Xander's bicep. His knuckle brushes against Xander's bare side on the third pass.

Just after he secures the tape in place, he touches his fingertips to the bandage, as though blessing it. "There," he says. He tilts his head back to look up and meet Xander's eye, smiling softly. "Not so bad, huh?"

"Uh," Xander says, and Andrew cocks his head just slightly, waiting. "Hey, Andrew, I... think I'm an idiot."

"Huh?" Andrew says, and then he looks confused, no longer smiling.

Xander realizes he likes Andrew smiling. So, before he can think too much, he reaches up, slides his fingers into Andrew's hair and kisses him, keeping his eye open, so he can see Andrew's widen in shock and then flutter shut with pleasure as he relaxes under Xander's hands.

Then Xander kisses him for a long, long time. Until they're crushed together and gripping each other and panting through their noses. Until he feels so good he almost forgets the battle and the  almost-apocolypse. Long enough that he's a little dizzy when they stop.

"Maybe I'm kinda hopeless," he says, and he can still taste Andrew on his lips.

Andrew, leaning against him, shaking lightly, just says, "Oh."