A Boy Named Xander


by Saber ShadowKitten
Series: The Interviews, Story 1




Prologue




My name is Angel. Yes, that's right, Angel. No, I'm not an angel, more like a devil with a conscious. A long time ago I was known as Angelus O'Reilly, then Angelus, the scourge of Europe. Now, however, it's just Angel.

I am roughly 255 years old, give or take a few years. How can I be that old? Well, I'm a vampire. Yes, a vampire named Angel. You can stop laughing at any time now.

What? You don't believe that I'm a vampire. How's this? Wait, don't scream, I'm not going to hurt you. How can you be sure? That's a good question. I could give you my word, if you'd like. No, I guess the word of a demon isn't too promising. Here, take this. Yes, I know my hand is smoking, just take the damn cross. Feel better?

What do I want? I want to tell you a story, have you record it for me. Sort of a biography. No, you don't sound like Anne Rice. I'd do it myself, but as you can see I can't see, and I have yet to learn braille. How can a vampire lose his sight? I'll get to that, if you decide to stay. You will? Well, then I guess I'll start my story.

It's about a boy named Xander.



Part One




It all started in Sunnydale, California, which is better know to the undead as the Boca del Inferno, or Hellmouth. It is a place where vampires are drawn to try and harness the power. None have succeeded.

The reason it started in Sunnydale is because of a girl. The Slayer. One Buffy Anne Summers, a blond-headed, hazel eyed, Californian who was the one girl in all the world with the strength and skill to defeat the forces of darkness. I was trained to help her, to aid her quest against the demons.

In 1898, I was cursed with a soul by a gypsy clan for killing a favorite daughter of the people. After more than one hundred years of death and destruction, I suddenly felt guilt and remorse for all those lives I took. The perfect punishment. Every day I had to face what I had done, and the demon inside me refused to let me die, refused to let me walk out into the sun. For ninety odd years, I fed on rats, barely surviving night to night as the memories of my actions weighed heavily on me.

Then, I met Whistler. Or actually, he found me. He is a demon who helps keeps the balance between good and evil, and he claimed the side of good needed more, well, good guys. And I was good guy of the week. But I didn't want anything to do with him. All I wanted to do was suffer like I was suppose to, so he made me an offer. Go with him to California to see something, then decide. So, I went.

And I saw heaven.

Heaven bundled in a bright orange jacket, sucking on a lollipop, blond hair bouncing as she walked. Buffy. She was called that day, told of her destiny, forced into a life of pain and hardship, and she was only 16. After seeing her, I decided to take Whistler up on his offer. I decided to become somebody.

It hurt.

Whistler warned me that it would. He was right in saying the more I was around humans, the more the fact that I was not one would stand out. I found that the first time I kissed her. I lost control of my human mask at the touch of her lips. I had not kissed anyone in close to a century and the feelings that simple act invoked brought my true face to the foreground.

She screamed. I ran. It hurt.

But this is not a story about Buffy, although she plays a major role in it. So do a few others. Whistler, Rupert Giles who is Buffy's Watcher. A Watcher is a mentor/trainer/researcher all rolled into one man or woman who aids the Slayer in her duties. Rupert, or Giles as the others call him, is the best Watcher of all time. Maybe when we're finished, you can hear his story. He doesn't live that far.

Then there's two more women who share the lead - Willow Rosenberg and Cordelia Chase. Both polar opposites, but now good friends. Willow was shy, sweet and brainy while Cordelia was popular, trendy and snobbish. Willow is now married to a Oz, a member of Dingo's Ate My Baby. Yes, that Oz. Yes, I'll get you an autograph next time I see them, or maybe I'll set up an interview for you. You're welcome.

Joyce Summers, Kendra, and Faith have peripheral roles in this story, as do Spike and Drusilla. Joyce is Buffy's mother, although now she's Joyce Summers-Giles. Both Kendra and Faith were Slayers. Kendra died in 1998 and Faith in 1999. I will get to how they died in my story, as well as how they came to be Slayers. Spike and Drusilla are my children or chider, depending on your vampire terminology, although Dru has been gone for ten years now. I am the one who sired them, the one who made them into vampires. No, I wouldn't recommend you talk to him unless Buffy was around to keep him in line. He tends to have a violent dislike of reporters.

And then, there's Xander.

Alexander LaVelle Harris. Misfit. Non-conformist. Uncool. He was all of those things when I first met him, still is, with his boyish looks and his off-kilter smile. He's a lot more built than he was back then, has many more scars, both physical and emotional, but deep down, he's still the same Xander that everyone loved.

I told you that I trained to aid Buffy with her fight, and when I arrived in Sunnydale I set out to do just that, warning her of the danger her first weekend in town, giving her the cross that would ultimately save her life and the lives of many others. Normally, Slayers work alone, closely guarding their chosen status to protect both their lives and the lives of their families and friends. But Buffy wasn't like most Slayers. All the people I mentioned knew she was the Chosen One, as did one other - Pike, a friend from before she came to Sunnydale - and each helped her one way or another.

That's how I met Xander. I had gone to the Bronze, which is a local teen club in Sunnydale, to warn Buffy about the Anointed One's rise that night. The Anointed One was just a fancy title given to the boy who helped free the Master from his prison beneath the town.

Buffy was on a date, which I gleefully interrupted. Yes, I was jealous, although I wasn't suppose to be. As I was about to tell her the trouble, Xander and Willow appeared for the same reason.

My first impression of Xander was 'cute kid' as was my assessment of Willow. They both babbled as they tried to get Buffy to go with them, while I stared at her. What can I say? She was beautiful. She still is.

I didn't see him again for almost six months, during which time I fell in love with Buffy, although she did not know that. I was still 'Cryptic Guy' to her, a vampire with a soul who helped her patrol at times and warn her of danger.

When I did finally see Xander, it was in the midst of rescuing him. Along with Willow and Giles, he was trapped in the boiler room at the school with a broken gas pipe. I remember how pale he looked because of that gas, and I suddenly found myself feeling concerned about him. But I dismissed that felling as being special because all three were potential friends. I was worried about all of them.

Then came the day I really took notice. He had forced his way into my apartment, brandishing a cross and pretty much told me off. Buffy had gone to face the Master on prom night and he wanted me to lead him through the sewers. You see, Xander was in love with Buffy, as was I and probably every male on the face of this earth, human and vampire. You will, too, if you ever meet her. She exudes sexuality and power, as well as instilling loyalty. And Xander was very loyal.

Which is why I noticed him.

There he stood before me, all full of anger and fear, demanding that I help him. Do you know how stupid it is to threaten a vampire in his lair? Yet there he was, and I realized that this boy no older than 16 was going to become one hell of a man. A very good looking man.

Because he was a very good looking boy.

As we hurried through the sewers to help Buffy, I couldn't help but look at him. His hair was a little on the long side, flopping over his brow as he frowned with worry; his brown eyes darted around the shadows, searching for danger; his teeth were white against his bottom, pink lip as he chewed on it nervously; the prominence of his Adam's apple stood out along the column of his neck.

He caught me looking at him. Told me I was checking out his neck. I denied it, of course, even though I was checking out his neck. Vampires have a thing for necks, beyond the obvious use for feeding. To a vampire, the neck is a highly erotic and enticing area. When we look at necks, it's like humans looking at the whole package. You can tell a lot by looking at someone's neck. Xander's was a combination of smooth and rough, a light sheen of sweat was over his skin from nervousness.

He persisted, then told me I should have eaten before we left.

And that's when I started to fall for him.



Part Two




Buffy left for the summer to visit her father in Los Angeles. Vampires don't like summertime that much. The sun sets later, it's hot outside, which makes it harder for us to blend in, and there is a sort of lethargy that comes with the summer months. But some vamps don't care, so I spent my summer keeping the population of Sunnydale safe. Especially one boy in particular.

Xander and Willow never knew I followed them every time they went out after dark. Neither of them had cars, so they walked to the Bronze or to the school to help Giles. I knew they carried crosses and holy water. They would be dumb not to, especially after all they've witnessed. Still, I followed them, slinking through the shadows as only a vampire can.

I tried to convince myself, as the summer wore on, that it was because we'd become friends that prom night, going to the dance, then getting together to pack up Giles' occult books before the construction workers began on the destruction in the library from the battle with the Master. But that was a lie.

It was because I was attracted to a boy named Xander.

Now, vampires on the whole tend to be bisexual. We lack the inhibitions enforced by society, and the entire morality issue is pretty much moot point. Granted, I do have a soul and a conscience, but after a hundred years of swinging both ways, it doesn't make much of a difference. I always liked my male lovers to be young and masculine without being overly so. Spike, who I mentioned before, is a perfect example. Ice blue eyes, chiseled features, lean hard body, and young. He was no older than twenty-two at most when I made him.

Xander is actually more like me than anyone else. Dark hair, dark eyes, larger build, but he still possesses that boyishness I find very attractive, even after all these years. And my attraction to him hit me ten fold the night Buffy returned to Sunnydale.

Everyone reacts to death differently. Some people kill themselves, some hide their feelings and some lash out. Buffy was no different. She came back from LA a real bitch. No one was happy to be around her, though Giles understood more than the rest of us. She had died, almost caused her friends to die, then killed her strongest enemy. And she still was only 16 years old.

When I saw her at the Bronze dancing with Xander, my world slipped on its axis. She was practically mating with him on the dance floor to a song called 'Sugar Water' by Cibo Mato, the guest band that night. I was jealous. Extremely jealous. But not just because she was arousing Xander, the boy who probably fantasized her doing this very thing every night.

It was because I wasn't the one arousing Xander so strongly I could smell it from across the room.

Of course, I did the manly thing when I realized that. I turned tail and ran. Then, I repressed my feelings, retreated into my cave, or whatever psychobabble you want to label it. I fixated my attention on Buffy and tried to ignore the boy completely.

That lasted for two weeks.

Because the prodigal childe returned.

In a black DeSoto.


*****


Spike and Drusilla. Two vampires who had loved each other for a hundred years. My children. When I heard they came to Sunnydale, I knew my friends were in trouble. Trouble with a vampire who, by all rights, should be heavily medicated to calm him down and the other institutionalized with the insane. It didn't help that I was the one to make Dru insane by killing her family and friends, then turning her on the day she was to take her holy vows.

The first thing Spike tried to do was kill Buffy. He had killed two other Slayers, so he was no stranger to the undaunted task that usually was. But, like I said earlier, Buffy wasn't like most Slayers. She wasn't alone in her fight against the darkness. And that's how I ended up with Xander in a headlock, offering him to my childe as a bluff.

He called me an undead liar guy.

It would have been funny, if I wasn't so scared. Good thing I wasn't human, or Spike would have heard my heart pounding a mile a minute because I what I was trying to do. I happened to be outside when Spike attacked the school, searching for Buffy. Xander came running out the back way and crashed right into me. I sized up the situation, grabbed his head, and pulled him into the school.

What I really wanted to do was hide him away so he wouldn't be harmed. But Buffy needed help, and Xander was right there, so I went with it. Spike didn't buy my bluff.

Later, after we had been bandaged and compared notes, he asked me what would have happened if Spike bit him. He didn't notice, but I actually shuddered at the thought. I gave him a flippant answer and walked away. But, he followed me for the first time of his own free will, curious as to what a sire was, and how I knew Spike. We actually held a pretty decent conversation that led to a tentative friendship between us. I wanted more, but it was a start.

You want to know something funny? The next time I saw Xander, he was wearing lipstick. I guess the fraternity brothers of Delta Zeta Kappa had a time with him before moving on to their more devious tasks involving Buffy, Cordelia and a giant snake demon called Machida. I almost laughed my head off when I saw him.

The next night, I went to the Bronze to ask Buffy out on a date and caught him bashing me. It was pretty cute. He didn't skip a beat when he saw me standing there. But that's Xander for you. Clever, witty and sarcastic. What's not to love?



Part Three




There's nothing sexier than a man in uniform. Even if that man was only 17 years old.

Ethan Rayne, an old pal of Giles', decided to wreak havoc on Sunnydale by having everyone turn into their costumes one Halloween. Buffy dressed as an 18th century noble woman. It was terrible. She looked like a brown headed...noble woman. Can you sense my dislike of the noble class?

Willow looked good. Dressed in this naughty outfit, her mid-drift bare, hair piled on her head. She was quite the sexy little red head. I bet many a man took a second look at her that night. Cordelia, too. She was wearing this tight, striped cat suit. But, then again, Cordelia always turned heads.

But Xander. Wow. Military fatigues. Tight, green shirt. He even had a tattoo. I'm surprised I didn't slip in my own drool when I saw him in Buffy's kitchen. Plus, to add to that package was a take-charge soldier. I wanted him to order me around and...

I'm sorry. I digress. You can just say that I thought he was cute before Halloween, but afterwards I was sunk. Even though I still loved Buffy, a part of me had fallen for Xander. Hard.


*****


I remember the first time I told him not to call me Deadboy. That's his pet name for me. Along with several other wonderful words. Fang face. Blood breath. Anything related to my hair. You get the idea.

Willow, Xander and I were on our way to check out this vampire-wanna-be club. Of course, we didn't know it was a vampire-wanna-be club until after we'd gone in. It really freaked me out. These teens, these kids wanted to be something I spent most of my existence wishing I could change. I was glad that my friends knew the difference between reality and fantasy, no matter how awful reality really was.

Xander looked at me in a different light that night as we walked back from the club. I told them how I became a vampire. I hadn't told that to anyone before, although Whistler probably knew because of who he is, or rather what. I told them how I had just wanted to see the world, preferably on the arm of a beautiful woman, and what I got was never ending death.

Of course, I was a lucky. I got my soul back, even if it was a cursed one. I'd rather live for eternity with a conscience than one day without one. However, I did live without one, for six months. But that will play a huge part later in this story in the relationship between Xander and myself.


*****


Did you ever meet anyone so annoying, you wanted to rip their tongue out and slap them with it? Well, my childe is that person. Spike has got to be the most infuriating pest on this planet. And I'm the one who made it for him to be around forever. I don't know what I was thinking. Yes, I do. I was thinking with my dick instead of my brain. But, such is the curse of men.

Drusilla was sick, and I don't mean she was just insane. A mob in Prague had attacked her, almost killing her, which was why Spike came to Sunnydale to begin with - to use the Hellmouth's energy to help her. He did so love that woman, even though she was nuttier than a fruitcake.

To cure Dru, he needed me, or more specifically, my blood. So he sent the Order of Teraka against Buffy, kidnaped me, and skewered my hand to Dru's. That's when things started to go bad.

I didn't really see much of anyone other than Buffy after that incident. I had lost massive amounts of blood and my life-force, which took a long time to heal. I saw Xander briefly at Buffy's seventeenth surprise birthday party, but I saw that something was up between him and Cordelia. But it didn't matter anyway, because that night I lost my soul.

My demon was free again.

And I lost any chance I had with the boy named Xander.



Part Four




Two times stick out in my mind from the six months my soul was gone. The first was Valentine's Day. I had gone out to see what I could do to terrorize Buffy and found Xander, instead. I remembered my fuzzy feelings for him and it pissed me off. I was going to hurt him. Badly. But fate intervened in the form of Drusilla because of a spell gone awry, so he was saved.

The second occurrence was much bigger. It happened at Sunnydale Hospital. Buffy had gotten the flu, and me, being the evil nasty vampire I am, wanted to pay her a visit. And lo and behold, there was Xander, Buffy's White Knight. I could hear his heart pounding, smell his fear, and yet, he stood up to me. To this day, I am proud of him for doing that. It took balls.

However, that's not the reason that episode sticks out in my mind. The real reason was because I was this close to planting a big wet one on him. With lots of teeth and tongue. Boy, would he have been surprised. I don't know exactly what stopped me at the time. It may have been the raging hard on under my leather pants that I'd have preferred the entire mortal race not to see. Or it could have been because he didn't back down. Whatever the reason, I didn't kiss him. In fact, I didn't kiss him until six years after that day at Spike's bachelor's party. Yes, he had one despite protests by his then-soon-to-be-wife. What can I say? He's weird.

Now that I look back on that time, I realize that Xander was probably the safest person in Sunnydale. I had no desire to kill him, not even to turn him. I had Spike, albeit a crippled Spike, but Spike none the less. I didn't need another male to take care of, even though Spike would swear up and down I did nothing to aid him.

In the end, it didn't matter that I didn't want to hurt Xander, because I hurt him inadvertently. I killed Jenny Calendar, who was Giles' girlfriend as well as one of the decedents of the gypsy's that cursed me; I organized the raid on the library that killed Kendra, the second Slayer; I rendered Willow unconscious and broke his arm that same night; I tortured Giles for hours. Xander has great respect for the Watcher, as both a mentor and a friend.

How come there was a second Slayer to begin with? Simple. When one Slayer dies, another is called. Buffy died by drowning the night she faced the Master, the night I first took notice of Xander. Even though she was revived, the next Slayer was activated. Thus, when Kendra died, Faith was called, and so on down the line. However, if you want to know more about the intricacies of Slayer lore, you should ask Giles.

To go back a bit, the reason I organized the raid on the library was to capture Giles because I was planning on sending the world to Hell, but I didn't know how. Yes, I know that wasn't a very good plan, and I am really glad I didn't succeed. And the reason I was unable to succeed was because of three people - Buffy, Spike and Whistler.

Whistler had told Buffy that when it comes down to the end, all you have is yourself. That advice saved her from my sword piercing her brain. She had come to the mansion to stop me from opening Acathala - the portal to Hell - and we basically got into a good, old-fashioned sword fight. But before the fight, Spike brained me with a tire iron. You see, he teamed up with Buffy to stop me from ending the world. That's probably the only reason I still tolerate him. Well, that and because of Buffy.

As you can plainly see, the world didn't grind to a halt that night, but someone did get sent to Hell.

Me.



Part Five




Hell is not what you think it is. There is no fire and brimstone. There are no fork-tailed devils running around poking sinners with pronged staves. It resembles nothing like the seven levels in Dante's Inferno. What it is is nothing.

That's right, nothing. A big, black, empty nothingness. You can't see anything, there's no one else there to hear. You can lie down, sit or stand. Pace, walk or run, but it still leads to the same thing - nothing.

I was in hell for approximately one hundred years, give or take a few decades. Time in the demon dimension moves differently then on this plane. There I was, shoved into the nothingness on the tip of a sword with only my thoughts for company.

One hundred years of reliving my past, of singing every song I knew, of making up stories, of picturing anything to distract me from the black nothing. There is really no way to describe how mind blowing Hell really is. You don't need to sleep or eat, so the only thing to do is think. Try locking yourself in a closet sometime for twenty-four hours and you'll see just a minute amount of the feelings it creates. I pretty much lost all sense of reality, my mind folded in on itself. Drusilla actually was sane compared to me when I got out.

Sorry, I have no idea why or how I returned to this plane, only that I did. And the only reason I'm not a basket case was because deep in my mind and returned soul I hung onto my love of two individuals - Buffy.

And a boy named Xander.

Of course, Xander disliked me before I lost my soul, but now he hated me, even though Willow recursed me. The first night I saw him after being in Hell was one of the worst nights in my long life. The others are: the night I was turned, the night I regained my soul, the night I lost my soul, the night I was sent to Hell and that night. Although losing my sight is no picnic, either.

My former friends all had come to the mansion where I'd been staying after my sojourn to Hell because of a glove which would give the wearer unbelievable power. Buffy managed to destroy the woman who wanted that power and the five of us - Xander, Willow, Buffy, Faith and myself - found ourselves alone together for the first time since I'd returned.

It was a very tense situation. Both Xander and Faith were itching to drive a stake through my heart and the only thing stopping them was Buffy. I remember the exact moment I felt a piece of my heart die. Xander pulled me aside before everyone left and told me that if he ever ran into me alone outside the mansion, he would stake me on sight, no matter what the consequences.

I cried that night for a love that was lost to me before it had a chance to be found.


*****


I left Sunnydale for Los Angeles soon afterwards. Buffy and I needed to stay away from each other, and I needed to put some distance between myself and my former friends. In reality, I was running. Running from the pain I felt each time I saw Xander.

Xander was in a bunch of trouble of his own. I did so want to take him in my arms and comfort him over the loss of not one, but two girls. That idiot childe of mine returned to Sunnydale and basically made a mess of everyone's love life. He kidnaped Xander and Willow, the former having realized his best friend was a woman, and they were caught by their respective other halves making out in the factory. Thus, Cordelia broke up with him and Willow figured out that she loved Oz and not Xander, like she had thought.

I can't give you much detail on the whole Xander/Cordelia relationship, because for most of it, I was trying my damndest to terrorize Buffy and crew. But I do know that Xander was hurt, and I wanted to be the one to make him feel better. Alas, I couldn't. He still hated me. So, I left.

And every night, the first person I thought of when I woke up was a boy named Xander.

It would be four years before I would hear from him again. Four years of fighting, of atoning, of not getting close to anyone. Willow, the wonderful non-wicked Witch that she has become, made sure that my soul was forever anchored to me, but I refused to let myself relax. Maybe deep down I knew I was waiting for someone special.

Then, out of the blue, I received a letter.

From Xander.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the return address with his name on it. I think I fell into a chair and stared at the envelope for an hour before I had the nerve to even open it. I didn't think I could be any more astonished than I already was until I read the letter.

Dear Deadboy, it started. The combination of those two words had me in stitches. Of course, the rest of the letter was equally amusing. He was bored out of his mind and decided to entertain himself by taunting me through the US Postal Service. I didn't even know he had my address.

Xander had joined the Army right out of high school. He quickly rose through the ranks because of the abilities he developed while fighting the forces of darkness in Sunnydale. When I got his letter, he was Captain of a special forces outfit, his own private team of mercenaries. He actually credits me for many of the maneuvers he used on various missions. Well, me when I didn't have a soul. He had hated me so much when I returned from Hell, he'd stolen Giles' Watcher's Diaries and read up on all the details of my past. I wasn't a nice man.

I'm still not, though you'd be hard pressed to tell.

I wrote him back at the address listed, telling him about how surprised I was to hear from him, some of my exploits as a demon hunter, what I knew about Willow, Cordelia, Giles and Buffy. By then, Oz and Willow were married as were Giles and Joyce, Cordelia was a world renown designer, and Buffy had allowed herself to finally fall in love again. Granted, I personally wouldn't have picked the man she chose, then again, I'm prejudiced because he's a control- challenged vampire with bleached hair. But that's not my story to tell.

However, I will tell you that if it weren't for those two love-birds, I would never had kissed Xander. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Forgive me.

I had just written Xander back, not expecting anything in return. Guess what? He wrote back. And he continued to write back each time I wrote him. He told me about some of his missions, about his crew, about life in the Army. I promised to buy him a drink when he was promoted again in 2003. He told me he'd hold me to that promise the next time he was stateside, causing me to fall onto the floor in shock.

Then I received a telegram that Xander had been injured severely during a mission, and that I was listed as person to contact in case of emergency. He was to be transferred to a VA Hospital in Los Angeles and his belongings were to be shipped to my address.

I called the VA Hospital everyday, waiting for him to arrive. Of course, he had to be admitted one morning around 10:30 a.m., so I couldn't get over there until the sun set. I chewed my nails down to the quick that day, as well as annoying any one of my friends that I could get in touch with.

My friends. Don't ask me how or why I managed to gain my friends back. Willow, Giles, Cordelia - each should never had wanted anything to do with me again. Buffy doesn't count. She became my friend by default, because we could no longer love each other, even though the feelings were still there. Of course, now she's in love with a soul-less moron, so if we really had wanted to, we could have had a relationship.

As you can probably tell, I really can't stand Spike. Although we try to get along for Buffy's sake. You don't know how hard it is not to want to poke his eyeballs out after being in a room with him for five minutes. Or shove a flaming, hot poker up his ass. Xander agrees with me, which is just one of the reasons I love him so much.

The second the sun set, I was on my bike, racing to the hospital. Yes, I have a motorcycle. Vampires have to get places too, you know. I chose a bike for two reason - one, in California you can ride between the cars and two, it added to my mysterious, tough guy persona. Hey, I may not have seen my reflection in over 250 years, but I know what I look like.

I got to the hospital in record time and after another hour of waiting, which I don't do very well, I was brought up to see him.

The first thing I noticed was that he needed a shave. Six years had passed since I last saw him, and there he was lying in a small, twin hospital bed and the first thing I thought was that he needed a shave. So sue me. Afer eight hours of waiting, I wasn't thinking too clearly.

I remember I put my hand over his and called his name, hoping for a response. The nurse told me he'd lost half his side in a grenade explosion and it was a surprise he was even alive. But then, Xander had always been stubborn.

My face lit up in a small smile when his eyes opened into slits and he looked at me. Then he said two words and I knew he'd be just fine.

"Hey, Deadboy."

Relived that he was conscious, I sat down on a chair next to the bed, my hand still covering his. I noticed his tattoos then, the ones not covered by the hospital gown or blankets. He had matching bands around both biceps, not the barbed wire like ones that were so popular, but two plain lines set an inch apart with a broken line circling through the center.

There was one on the inside of his forearm, as well, just below the elbow, that amazed me. At first, I didn't realize what I was looking at, I thought it was just a symbol. Then the letters at each point on the star clicked in my mind - A, B, C, G, W. Angel, Buffy, Cordelia, Giles and Willow.

I was shocked, to say the least. I would later find another tattoo that would shock me even more, but at that time I was stunned. He noticed what I was looking at and his lips curled up at the corners.

"I almost put ‘D,'" he said. I started to laugh then, from the wry humor and relief that he was ok. Xander was to be in the hospital for three months, and each night I would visit him, sometimes alone, sometimes with one of our friends.

The surprise on his face when he saw Spike hovering no-so-unobtrusively behind Buffy kept me laughing for hours. We had been writing to each other for two years, and he knew about the relationship, but seeing it for himself was quite an eye opener. You should have heard the jibes he shot at the blond vampire and Buffy. I'm surprised they didn't do something to make him stay in the hospital longer.

The day he left the hospital was also the day he was honorably discharged from the Army. He was going to live at the base, but with the discharge, he found himself homeless. And being the guy I am, I told him to just move in with me, since all his things were at my place anyway. As you can see, it's not like I didn't have the room. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was still in love with him.

So, in Xander moved. The boy who had once hated me was now sharing a bathroom with me. I always knew my life was strange, but that really took the cake.

He pretty much slept the first month he was here, so we didn't see each other except for quick hello's as I went about my business. I was still a demon hunter, which kept me out all night and then I'd sleep all day as vampires tend to do. But one night, things changed.

He was sitting on the couch when I emerged from my room, wearing a pair of old sweats and regulation T-shirt. I greeted him, which he returned, then motioned me to join him. Surprised, I took a seat and watched him as he avoided my eyes for a few minutes. Then, he took a deep breath and met my gaze.

"Deadboy," he said. "I hated you for a long time, first because you had Buffy, then because you hurt Buffy, Willow and Giles when you lost your soul. But then I realized that you, as a person, are a million times better than some of the men and women I've led my team against. When you lost your soul, it wasn't by choice. These so-called humans had one. I couldn't go on hating you any more, not after all you've done pre and post soul lossage. That was the day I wrote you. It was time to regain a friend that I had started to like having around, even if it was because you made a good verbal punching bag. That was also the day I got this tattoo, the stars linking the five people who had the most influence on me, good or bad."

When he was finished, he gave me one of his boyish grins as I sat staring at him.

Staring at a man named Xander.



Part Six




After that night, I saw him more and more. I made myself get up earlier to spend time with him before I had to go to ‘work.' He started to workout again regularly, and I joined him, even though I didn't need it, my being a vampire and all. Basically, we bonded, becoming close friends, much to everyone's surprise.

Then came the bachelor's party. Like I said before, my childe's weird, but I can't blame it all on him. Oz and Spike were good friends, so when Spike decided to make an honest woman out of Buffy, the chosen best man threw a bachelor's party. To this day, I don't know why those two got married. Vampires don't do that, especially one's without souls. More especially to a mortal. Even more especially to a vampire Slayer.

Kids.

Anyway, we were invited to the party held at, of course, a strip club, where we proceeded to get plastered. For some odd reason, Oz tape recorded the whole thing, which Buffy used to blackmail us quite nicely. I didn't even know I knew the words to that R.E.M. song, ‘End of the World' or whatever it's called.

It was as I was trying to unlock the front door when it happened. Xander was leaning against the wall, eyes closed, dressed in a pair of camouflage pants and dark green T-shirt. Remember how I said nothing is sexier than a man in uniform? Add that to my liquor addled brain and my long hidden love for him and you can tell what happened next.

I kissed him.

It wasn't some knock down, drag out kiss. It was just my lips pressing gently against his for less than a second. Nine years after I fell for him, I finally kissed him.

I remember his eyes flew open, the deep brown reflecting a mixture of curiosity and surprise. I honestly expected him to deck me or hate me or anything but what he did in response.

He told me to do it again.

If I had been functioning on all six cylinders, I would have been shocked into a stupor at his request. Luckily, I was sloshed and I sent up a prayer of thanks to Spike and Oz before I kissed him again.

Now, this kiss started out gently, but soon escalated to that knock down, drag out point, especially after he grabbed the back of my head and held me to him. He's only a few inches shorter than me, as opposed to Buffy who was a full foot shorter, and we fit together perfectly.

Eventually, we had to stop. Having sex in the hallway was not something either of us wanted to do. However, I was so flustered by then I couldn't get the door open. Xander's rough hand closed over mine and helped me turn the key in the lock. When my eyes shot up to his, I saw a small, tender smile on his face, as if he knew something I didn't. Which, of course, he did.

When we got inside, I simply did not know what to do next. He took the matter out of my hands completely by seizing my hand and dragging me down the hall to his bedroom. Then, before I could say anything, I found myself pressed bare chested against him, our lips locked together in a passionate kiss. I could feel his erection through the material of our pants as we kissed and I was slowly losing my mind. I had dreamt about what was happening for so long, then to finally have it happen...

As they said in Cinderella - a dream is a wish your heart makes. And my wish came true.

Making love to Xander that night was like seeing the Sistine Chapel. Awe inspiring. Beautiful. Beyond comprehension. His body was large, muscular, and very masculine, riddled with scars and the stitches from where they sewed his skin back together on his left side. He was the one who took the initiative, the one to excite me so much I exploded within a few moments of his mouth around me. I have been having sex for over 230 years and he made me react like a sixteen year old virgin.

He tasted like sweat, all salty and wet. The groan he made when I took him in my mouth was music to my ears. I felt his hands gripping my hair as I bobbed over him until his hot semen poured down my throat. Then he pulled me up to kiss me, tasting himself on my lips. I was already aroused again, and I pressed against him, feeling the hair on his body tickling the underside of my erection. Without breaking the kiss, I heard him reach over and open the night stand drawer, then the sound of a substance being squeezed from a tube.

His hand slipped between us and caressed my cock with the lubricant. My fingers joined his until they were slick, then I slid them under him, preparing him for me. We broke the kiss only long enough for me to pull his legs up with my arms, his knees resting in my elbows. I entered him slowly, and we groaned into each other's mouths. As I thrust, I went to stroke him, but he blocked my attempts. He wanted me like I was having him, and that thought caused me to soar over the edge, my true face flickering into existence as I came. I buried my head in the pillow behind his head, not wanting him to see me that way, not yet. He must have sensed my desires, because all he did was stroke my back until I calmed enough to move out of him.

Face human once again, we brought our mouths back together, Xander's hard shaft pressing against me. He broke the kiss, then pulled the extra pillow down to waist height next to us on the double bed. I moved off of him and onto the pillow on my stomach, watching him out of the corner of my eye as he picked up the tube again before moving behind me.

His digits penetrated me first, one then two fingers and I squeezed my eyes shut in the pleasure/pain. It had been a very long time since another male had entered me, but I was practically giddy with anticipation. Then I felt the tip of his large erection enter me and I hissed, pushing back on my knees to fully sheathe himself in me. He pushed me down until I was almost flat, then laid over me, his hot body pressed to mine. I could hear his heavy breaths in my ear, feel his heart pounding against my back. Suddenly, he came with a shout of my name, filling me, his body straining in ecstacy.

Xander collapsed on top of me, but I didn't mind his weight. After he had come down, he moved out of me and laid back on the bed, a relaxed satisfied expression on his face. I turned onto my side facing him, one arm propping up my head. He opened his eyes and met mine, and I watched as one side of his mouth slowly arched upwards. Then he said something that still amazes me to this day.

"I've been wanting to do that for nine years, ever since you started following me the summer after Buffy faced the Master."

Of course, me being the suave, sophisticated, worldly vampire that I am, responded appropriately. I said ‘huh'?

Xander's whole face lit up with amusement and he burst out laughing, holding his still healing side. When he finally stopped, he explained to me that the reason he went after three girls at the same time, along with the entire female population, human or otherwise, was because he was confused about his feelings for me. He didn't like me, but he wanted to touch me. It took him a bit of growing up to figure out that he was bisexual and that there was nothing wrong with that.

I was still stuck on the nine years part.



Part Seven




It never fails. I was about to tell Xander how I felt when the phone rang. I rarely receive phone calls, so I knew something bad had to have happened. Call me a pessimist, or better yet, a realist, but the phone always bears unpleasant news. I wasn't wrong.

Oz was calling from the hospital. Buffy was seriously injured from one of her patrols and he needed me to take Spike home before the sun came up. We've had this happen before, where Buffy was hurt and Spike refused to leave her side. Oz and I had to literally drag him from the well-windowed hospital.

Xander was up and dressed before I finished telling him what happened. When Buffy is involved, everyone jumps. I told you earlier, she instills that kind of loyalty and love. I had no doubt that Willow, Giles, Joyce and Cordelia were all at the hospital, as well. However, I was reluctant to leave without saying something about what had just happened between us. So, as we were leaving, I stopped him, looked him right in the eye...and froze.

I remember how he arched one eyebrow and gave me on of his patented ‘spit it out, Deadboy' looks. I'm going to miss those. Anyway, he gave me the look and I managed to find my tongue, then blurted out that I've been waiting nine years, too. You know what he said in response?

"I told you you were checking out my neck."


*****


Let me give you a bit of commentary on my childe. I still love Buffy very much and would do anything for her. But my love, even back in its peak, doesn't hold a candle to Spike's love for her. Maybe it's because he doesn't have a soul. I know Giles has researched this phenomenon, but he didn't turn up anything.

Of course, because Spike loves Buffy so much, it makes it really difficult to get through to him when she's hurt enough to require hospitalization. Until Xander.

It was amazing. He went from lover to friend to soldier to Major as he walked down the sterile corridor at the hospital. Lover while we were still alone, friend when we joined the others, soldier when Oz and I decided it was time to leave. Then came the Major. I've never seen anyone command respect like Xander did that night. Oz and I were prepared to bodily drag Spike out of there when Xander entered the private room. His entire physical presence shifted, becoming more commanding, but he didn't raise his voice. He spoke in a low, authoritative tone that brought no argument.

Spike walked out of the hospital, head hanging, but on his own.


*****


Buffy got better, Xander and I got closer and things seemed to be going relatively smooth. The wedding went off without a hitch, held on a quiet Saturday night. At the reception, we ate, drank, danced and generally had a good time. As the closet ‘relative' to Spike, I got to tell embarrassing stories of the non-gruesome times we'd spent together. Of course, he had equal amounts of dirt on me, so I planned on never getting married. Lifetime partners, however...

As I said, Xander and I grew closer after our night together, but we both avoided the ‘L' word. Yes, I did love him, I had loved him for years. However, once you cross that line, there's no turning back.

Then I saw the tattoo.

Now, you might think that I had to have been blind to have missed it. God, that was bad. Yes, you can laugh. Xander would if he were here. Anyway, this tattoo is located on his right shoulder. It's not very small, but not near as large as mine. You want to see it? Here. Yes, it was very painful. It'll take awhile to heal. I would have been dead if I wasn't a vampire. As it is, I don't know if I'll ever regain my sight.

Back to the story. Xander and I continued to make love every night, however, I never entered him from behind. He must have read that I like to be able to kiss my lovers. But I didn't see it when we were making love, I saw it when I went to give him a back rub..

I remember he was laying on his stomach on his bed, garbage can full of used tissues, cold medicine, nasal spray and cough drops on the night stand. He had a terrible cold, and I wanted to make him feel better by rubbing Vicks on his back as Joyce suggested. Vampires don't get sick, so I turned to the one person of our group of friends who had any parenting experience - Buffy's mom. Joyce swore the stuff would ease his cough and smelled really good to cold victims. I don't know what she's talking about, the stuff reeks.

There he was, looking all miserable, and I gently sat next to him on the bed, uncapping the jar. Careful to avoid his healing side, I began to rub it on his back. That's when I saw it.

A tattoo identical to mine, with a ‘X' instead of an ‘A'.

I must have gasped because he pried his eyes open and looked over his shoulder at me. When he saw my expression, he gave me a wink, his mouth curving into a boyish grin.

"Like it?" he asked.

Of course, all I could do was stare at him, a dumbfounded look on my face. I finally managed to ask when he got it and he told me just before the ‘incident,' meaning his injury. Then he told me why.

Because he'd fallen in love with me.

Through the mail.

Stunned does not come close to describing how I felt at that moment. I remember my mouth dropped open, my eyes widened and I looked at him unbelievably. He sat up, the smell of the Vicks wafting from his back, and kissed me softly on the lips.

I told you at the beginning of the story that Whistler gave me a choice if I'd go with him to California. I chose to become somebody because I'd found heaven.

That night, I touched heaven.

Through a man named Xander.



Part Eight




Five months ago, on our fourth anniversary as a couple, I was ambushed on my regular patrol. I was hurrying to get home when it happened. I may be a formidable opponent, but I'm not invincible. They ran me through, severing my spinal cord and blinded me by pouring molten metal over my eyes. For fun.

I was crucified three weeks later in an abandoned church and left for the sun to end my long, unnatural existence. As you can see, they failed. Willow, Oz, Cordelia, Giles, Joyce, Spike, Buffy and even Whistler worked night and day to find me, friends that I'd once thought I'd never have again because I lost my soul. And they were led by a man who grew up with a painful family situation, who saw countless atrocities all over the world, who is loyal to a fault, who loves with all he is able, who I've loved for thirteen years, ever since he was...

A boy named Xander.


*****


"Hey, Deadboy," Xander said, entering the luxury apartment. "What's up?"

"I've been sharing a story with my friend here," Angel told him, smiling in his direction.

"Hi, friend," Xander greeted the reporter sitting on the couch next to Angel. He looked at the vampire for more explanation, but got a yawn instead. Chuckling, he ruffled his hair. "It's time to say goodnight, Deadboy."

"Goodnight, Deadboy," Angel mocked.

Xander rolled his eyes at the reporter and stepped behind the wheelchair. "Give me a minute and I'll see you out."

The reporter nodded and watched as the handsome, 29 year old pushed the eternally young vampire towards the bedroom. He could hear quiet voices and the sounds of Angel being settled into bed. Soon, Xander returned, running a hand through his short hair.

"So, Angel was telling you a story about me," he said, taking a seat on the couch next to him. "Well, have I got one for you. It's about a vampire with the name of Angel...."


End

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