Sandy Places Among the Angels

Part One

Xander stood in the middle of his apartment. His. His apartment. All his. He would have jumped up and down and yelled 'who-hoo' but there was a vampire lounging in the living room, trying to be seductive or sultry or *something*, Xander wasn't sure which. He did know that if he stopped digging through his box of books for a victory dance, Spike would interpret it as 'come undress me'.

Xander had to stop for a minute, and figure out why that was a bad thing. He stared at the packed box of books, and tried to remember. Unload books, have sex. Unload books, have sex. What was he missing, here? Oh, right -- he'd already stopped and had sex five times, now, in the last three days instead of unpacking. At this rate he was going to be living out of boxes for the foreseeable future.

He glanced over at Spike again and tried to remember why that was so bad. Spike was slouched in the chair -- it looked like he'd even slid down another inch or two, to appear even more wanton than he had a minute ago. He wasn't doing anything, just sitting, looking around, as if he were waiting and ever so slightly bored, but resigned to waiting patiently.

For someone to stop unpacking, and jump him, no doubt.

Xander determinedly wrenched his eyes from his boyfriend and turned back to the boxes of books. He was *not* going to stop and jump Spike again. He *had* to get this unpacking done. Besides, it was Spike's turn to do the jumping.

His indolent boyfriend didn't seem to realize that, though. Or if he did, he was demonstrating a definite lack of interest in fairness. Big surprise there, Xander told himself. Although when it came to sex, Spike was generally willing to do... anything if it meant getting to have sex. Even being fair. So if he weren't jumping Xander now, that either meant he was in favor of Xander getting a little unpacking done before the weekend -- or he was planning something.

Considering Spike had never been big on interior decorating -- abandoned warehouse was his idea of chic -- Xander was willing to bet it was the latter. That left the ball in Xander's court. Did he keep working, try to get as much done as he could, before Spike struck? Or act now, and disrupt the vampire's plans?

Unless that was Spike's plan. Play the innocent and make Xander do the jumping. That way Xander couldn't protest he should be unpacking. So that meant, if he wanted to disrupt Spike's plan, he should keep unpacking.

If it *wasn't* Spike's plan, then it would force Spike to make the first move. Either of which would mean Spike would have to get his ass out of the chair and do *something* to get sex, other than sit around and look hot. Not that Xander minded Spike looking hot. Just... sometimes Xander wanted to be the one looking hot enough to get jumped.

Spike shifted a bit, in the chair, but otherwise made no move. Not getting up, not turning to watch Xander, not unzipping anything. Perhaps Xander would find out just how long it took before Spike got utterly bored? See how long he could sit still? He smiled at that thought; knowing how hyperactive his lover was, Xander was sure he could wait him out. Especially if he actually concentrated on the books he was unpacking. Already he'd found one or two volumes that Giles must've slipped in when he wasn't looking.

He was pretty sure it had been intentional -- not because they were books Giles didn't want, but they were books which had various important references or interesting and topical prophecies in them. Sort of like making sure your new collegiate had enough underwear and cash, before heading off to school. For the ex-Watcher, that meant making sure Xander had a copy of the "Doragotahe", in case he got attacked by little blue beetle demons, or found a suspicious-looking enchanted dagger.

Spike was sitting still, now, as if aware that Xander was testing him. Ha. Xander continued to unpack.

He focused so tightly on what he was doing, that he actually managed to shut out Spike's presence for several minutes. Then he heard Spike shift again, and he glanced back to see Spike throwing one leg over the arm of the chair. As if Xander needed a view of Spike's crotch, having forgot what it looked like in the last ten minutes? Well, buster, two could play at that game. Xander stood and stretched, then bent over to pick up more books, knowing that it would give Spike an excellent view of his... um... assets.

The was the sound of denim sliding on upholstery, then nothing. Xander could feel Spike not moving. Very, very hard. He grinned, knowing that Spike couldn't see it, and stretched and bent again. There was silence, followed by the sound of shifting fabric on fabric again. There was a very quiet sound, like someone had swallowed.

It couldn't be this easy, could it? Xander tried to sneak a peek without looking like he was sneaking a peek. He saw Spike trying to act like he wasn't openly gaping at the sight of Xander's ass. Hiding a grin, Xander bent over a little more.

There was a slight noise of denim sliding on upholstery again, then nothing. Nothing, until suddenly there was a hand *on* Xander's ass, and another moving around to his front. "Want something?" he asked, even managing to sound casual as he stood up -- not precisely to give Spike better access to anything, but just... because.

Spike answered by squeezing the hand that was on Xander's ass, and moving the other hand to the zipper of Xander's jeans.

Xander caught his breath. "I'd take that as a great, big yes."

"You wanted help unpacking, right? Looks to me like you're packing something." Spike's fingers found the zipper, and pulled it down, brushing hard against Xander's growing erection.

Xander made a sound deep in his throat, but still made a token protest. "That wasn't what I meant."

"Er? Oh, so I shouldn't do this?" Spike pulled Xander's jeans open, and pulled his underwear down. His erection popped free, and into Spike's cool, waiting hand.

Xander's hands tightened on the edge of the book shelf. "Reurg," he said coherently.

"Bad Xander. No speaking demonic languages I don't understand." His fingers squeezed again in unison on Xander's cock and ass. "I'm pretty sure that wasn't Fyarl, unless you're hoping I'll *bring* you a dead rabbit."

"Ew. No."

"Didn't think so." Spike was moving his other hand, now, rubbing it up and down Xander's ass. Xander pushed back into the touch, wriggling encouragingly. "Here, now, weren't you putting those books away?" Spike scolded, lightly. He slipped his hand inside Xander's jeans, and cupped his ass through the thin cotton of his underwear.

"Books?" Xander repeated, his brain losing the ability to process complicated thought as all his blood seemed to be rushing south. Then there was a soft kiss on his neck, and two hands rubbing either side of him, and Xander decided he didn't *care* if he could process thoughts. Even though this meant Spike had apparently won.

Spike winning, meant Xander got sex. How was that bad, again? He wriggled again, hoping to entice more touches. Fingers started doing things -- fun, interesting things. Moving around like Spike was looking for pennies in the dark, fingers were groping spots of his anatomy like he'd hidden something just under his skin and it was Spike's job to find it all.

"Merurgh," he encouraged, shivering at the sensations running through him.

Another kiss on his neck. "Oo, you *are* kinky."

"I'm letting a vampire feel me up," Xander said in a sudden burst of coherency. "Of course I'm kinky."

"Letting? Didn't think you had a choice, the way you were bending over like that." There was a moment of silence, and Spike's hands stopped moving. "That doesn't sound right," Spike said thoughtfully.

"You stopped."

"Sorry. Thought you wanted me to, earlier." Spike began moving his hands again, stroking Xander's erection again and slipping his other hand now inside Xander's underwear.

"Wa-wa-want..." Xander stuttered, then broke off in a groan as Spike's fingers slid down his cleft.

"Want something?" Spike asked, casually as he pulled Xander's clothes down, out of the way, and started moving his fingers up and down in opposite directions, making Xander's head spin. He went with it, turning his head towards Spike.

"Wha--?"

Cool lips pressed onto his. A tongue slipped into his mouth, and now the fingers on his body were stroking in time with the tongue. Or maybe it was the other way around. Xander didn't care; he was surrounded by Spike, losing himself in the taste, the feel of his lover.

Spike seemed to be everywhere -- touching him, growling softly against his chest, running his tongue all over Xander's mouth, then down his jaw bone and down his neck to his collarbone. Hands moving everywhere, jerking him off slowly and methodically, fingers toying with the flesh around his asshole. Xander heard someone moaning, babbling, begging in what sounded remarkably like his voice.

There was another voice, that sounded remarkably like a very aroused Spike, whispering "Yes" in his ear.

"P-please..." That had been his voice again, wanting something, wanting more, wanting *Spike*.

The fingers on his cock loosened their grip, ever so slightly. Xander whimpered. The fingers on his ass circled slower, dipping closer, before moving slowly away.

"*Spike*!" he growled.

"What?" came a tone of utter, aggrieved innocence -- simultaneously with a finger slipping inside him. He pushed back against it, a sound of pure need coming from deep in his chest. The hand on his erection tightened its grip, and as he moved, he slid inside Spike's fist. Then he made that sound again, repeating the motion.

"Oh, hang on," Spike said, and *both* hands disappeared.

Xander cried out in protest, trying to turn, and having to grab onto the book shelf to keep from falling.

"Forgot the lube," Spike explained, then, before Xander could form any coherent protest against *waiting* while Spike dug around for the lube, Spike was on his knees behind him, and a cool, wet tongue was laving his asshole. Xander's grip on the shelf turned white knuckled, as he concentrated on staying standing.

Spike's tongue licked in the same slow, maddening circles as he'd traced with his fingers, before slipping inside. Xander whimpered, his knees threatening to give out. There were fingers digging into his butt cheeks, spreading them open, and he could feel Spike's nose bumping him, every so often, as he pressed his tongue inside. He pushed back into the touch desperately, his body shamelessly begging for more.

Spike seemed of no mind to refuse him. The tongue kept pushing its way in, wriggling, then sliding out halfway, almost all the way, or fully out before Spike would fuck him again. Xander whimpered again, wanting to say something encouraging, but all that came out were more wordless noises. Spike pulled out, and gave him a slow, long lick up one butt cheek. Then the other. Then a nibble.

"Spike!" Oh good. A word.

"Mmmm?" Spike replied, though it was more of a growl than a question. A lick, a nibble, and Spike's tongue was nowhere near his asshole anymore.

"You stopped again." He looked back over his shoulder, only seeing the top of Spike's head.

"Erm?" Spike looked up at him, blue eyes dilated wide as they focused on him. He still didn't answer him, though -- leaning forward to place his open mouth on Xander's ass, while still looking up at him, not breaking the gaze.

Xander found himself caught in it, unable to look away, losing himself in the blue depths. Spike's tongue was pressing against his skin, moving about in patterns as the tip of Spike's blunted teeth barely dug in. His hands shifted to grip Xander's thighs, fingers digging in again as though Spike were unable to completely prevent himself from biting and could only redirect the urge.

It was... headrushing. Amazing. He knew he should feel an edge of danger, but he didn't. All he felt was... trust. It was something of a shock to realize. Spike looked away just then, and something broke. A connection, maybe. But Xander didn't have time to say anything because Spike's tongue was playing at the entrance of his body, again, and making Xander's body thrum.

All thought disappeared from his brain again. This time, Spike pushed his way in and stayed there -- moving his tongue around, pushing as far as he could, hands kneading Xander's thighs as Spike fucked him. Xander lost himself in the sensations, everything fading away except what Spike was doing and the pleasure it was causing.

He felt a whisper of a touch on his aching cock, and jerked forward instinctively. He heard a chuckle from behind him, even though the tongue never stopped its motion. Xander moved desperately, instinctively between the two sensations: forward into Spike's hand and back onto his tongue. Spike's hand closed on his cock, but it didn't move -- just held him, steady. The tongue kept fucking him, but Spike was torturing him, with his hand.

Xander cried out, words beyond him, but needing to convince Spike to move, to give him what he needed. Spike just held him, tightly -- as if ready to pinch down at the first sign Xander was going to reach his orgasm. Spike's tongue kept thrusting in furiously, driving him harder; then Xander wailed as it crashed on him.

Instantly, Spike's hand clamped down. It was only for a second, before Spike was turning him around and his mouth was clamping down where his hand had been and there was cool, wet, sucking in its place. Xander's wail increased in pitch and volume as Spike drove him impossibly higher. A finger suddenly took the place of the tongue that was wrapping itself around Xander's cock, sucking every last drop out of him as though it were blood. It was too much. The pleasure overwhelmed everything as the world went grey.

He was dimly aware of hands, again, and being held against something not-warm, then the floor was under his back and someone was tugging at his jeans. "Mrmm, hrm?" he managed.

Jeans still being pulled down, and legs raised into the air. A position even Xander's fuck-adled brain could recognise. He moaned something that was supposed to be encouragement, managing an enticing wriggle. Spike raised his legs, propping Xander's ass on something that wasn't completely soft. Then fingers were wriggling inside him, and Spike was muttering something under his breath.

Xander tried, but couldn't make out the words. Two fingers entered him, wriggling and moving around like he hadn't just been rimmed until his brains exploded. Spike, however, was still looking around as if he'd lost something. Like lube. Again.

"Gah," Xander offered, then frowned and concentrated. "Shelf," he finally managed triumphantly.

"Right!" Spike leapt to his feet, leaving Xander with his legs in the air and his ass hanging in the breeze. Vampiric speed worked on his behalf, though, because sooner than soon Spike was kneeling between Xander's legs, again, snapping the cap open and inserting two unlubed fingers in his ass again.

"Merg," Xander encouraged, wriggling again. There was short pause, then the fingers were removed and something else -- bigger and harder and slippery -- was inserted. A sound halfway between a groan and a purr came from deep in Xander's chest as he somehow got his arms to cooperate long enough to reach up for his lover.

Spike moved forward, putting his arms down on either side of Xander, resting most of his weight on his hands, and thrust, hard. Xander wrapped his arms around Spike's neck, gasping at the penetration. There was no tormenting, or teasing, now. Spike pushed into him, hard, fast, and Xander could see the muscles of Spike's arms and shoulders tensed as Spike held himself up and fucked him.

Panting in time to the thrusts, Xander held on tightly, his eyes never leaving Spike's face. Somehow Spike managed to thrust harder, as his eyes lit on Xander's. His mouth opened, slightly, as if a preface to gasping for air he wouldn't need.

Exerting himself, Xander leaned up and kissed him. Spike's mouth opened immediately, taking Xander in even as he heard a groan building deep in Spike's throat. The groan broke into punctuated muffled gasps, as Spike fucked him harder, one last time, and came. Xander continued kissing his lover the entire time.

Spike started to collapse forward, onto him, and locked his elbows at the last moment. "You can, you know," Xander murmured inbetween even more kisses.

"Mmur?" Spike opened his eyes and tried to refocus them.

Grinning, Xander tugged gently, encouraging his lover to rest his weight on him. For a second he resisted, then all at once Spike fell onto him. He latched on, arms and legs wrapping around Xander. Xander sighed in contentment, holding onto the vampire tightly.

~~~~~

Grinning, Xander tugged gently, encouraging his lover to rest his weight on him. For a second Spike resisted, then all at once fell onto him. He latched on, arms and legs wrapping around Xander. Xander sighed in contentment, holding onto the vampire tightly.

"Smurgbuk," Spike muttered, as he snuggled in closer.

"You're welcome."

There was a pause, then a muffled laugh. "Said, m'lying on a book." Spike shifted a bit, moving his knee back and forth.

"Oh." Xander snuggled for a moment before Spike's words really penetrated. "What book?"

Spike sounded a bit foggy as he said, "Can't tell. Red, gold letters that look like drunk ants peed everywhere."

Xander frowned as he tried to place it. Then he yelped and dumped Spike on his ass as he scrambled to check the condition of one of the first editions his grandmother had given him. "Ow! What the bloody--?" Spike glared at him and rubbed his hip. "Oh, I like that. Rather read a book than cuddle your lover," he said piteously.

"It's all right," Xander said, sighing with relief and hugging the book to his chest.

Spike sniffed. "*It's* all right. Don't care enough to not leave it lying on the floor, but let a poor vampire get into a post-coital snooze, and all of a sudden it's a priceless rare edition."

"It *is* a priceless rare edition. It's also a gift from my grandmother."

There was a pause, then another sniff, though this time more subdued. "Fine. I'll just go cuddle myself, then, in a cold chair." Spike moved towards the chair he'd been sitting in earlier, watching Xander unpack.

"Oh come here," Xander said roughly, after putting the book carefully on the shelf.

But Spike retained his 'poor unloved me' expression, even as he slowly, reluctantly, reversed direction towards Xander.

"We could always do something radical like go use the bed," Xander offered.

"Can't," Spike responded, as he resumed his earlier Xander-glomming position. "Bed's covered in boxes."

"Oh. Right." Because when he had tried to go unpack the bedroom, someone had distracted him. When he'd tried to unpack the kitchen, someone had distracted him. Same for the bathroom, living room twice now, and the foyer. "Your fault," he muttered, but without much heat.

"My fault? I wasn't the one who put boxes all over the bed."

"You're the one who distracted me when I was trying to unpack them so I could get rid of the boxes."

There was no response.

"Spike?" Xander raised his head to look down at his lover.

"Can't think of anything that isn't an admission of guilt."

"Oh." He brightened. "Does this mean I win?"

There was another pause, then, "Win?" Spike sounded honestly confused.

"I was right. It was your fault," Xander explained.

"Of course you -- what're the stakes, again? And no funny jokes," Spike added.

"You want unfunny jokes?" Xander said with an innocent expression.

"From you? Be most-- hey! Watch the hands, wanker!"

Spike didn't actually try to move *away*, or get out of Xander's grip. He didn't even move an inch out of his snuggling on the floor position. "Can't watch them. Not and hug you at the same time."

Spike reached back, grabbed Xander's hands, and held them -- for two seconds. Then he scooted them down, about an inch, and let go. Xander's hands were now almost touching the curve of Spike's ass where his legs met his buttocks.

"Uh huh." Xander pretended nonchalance. "Can't watch them there either."

"Bloody hell," Spike groused, as if he'd actually been hoping that had helped. He wriggled upwards, a bit. "Better?"

"Depends on what you're trying to do."

"Help you unpack," Spike said in a bright tone that belied the limp way his body was draped over Xander's body.

Xander raised his head enough to look at the boxes lying all around them. "You're not doing a very good job."

"Am so. Help keeping you from getting bored, with all the 'take book out of box, set book down. Take book out of box, skim book, set book down two hours later.' On and on..."

"It's got to be done."

"Mm-mmm." Spike wriggled again, tightening his glom on Xander. Then he lay absolutely still.

Xander sighed, giving up the thought of getting any more unpacking done in the immediate future. Of course, this wasn't really a bad thing, was it? It wasn't like he really *preferred* unpacking boxes, to lying on a cold, albeit carpeted, floor with a naked, albeit not-so-warm vampire on top of him. "Um, Spike?"

"Hrm?"

"I'm cold."

Spike responded by snuggling tighter.

"That doesn't really help, you know."

"What d'you want me to do, go dig out some electric socks?" Spike's hand slid down Xander's body, until it was resting underneath his ass. Not surprisingly, Spike's hand felt no colder than his butt.

He was beginning to get goosebumps. "Electric socks?"

"Don't you own electric socks?" Spike raised his head and peered at him with drowsy eyes. "How'd you stay warm, otherwise?"

"I don't usually lie naked on the living room floor with a vampire on top of me."

Spike blinked. "Not even in the privacy of your new bachelor apartment?"

Xander paused to think about it. "Well..." There was a noise of triumph from Spike, and he ducked his head back down into the crook of Xander's neck. "I'm still cold," Xander complained.

"Oh for god's sake," Spike complained back. But he pushed himself up onto his hands, looked around, then his feet were under him and he was moving away.

Xander pouted. Now he was cold and *didn't* have a vampire on top of him. He sat up, intending to see what his undomesticated vampire was up to.

"Hey! Lie back down," Spike called from the other room.

"Why?"

There was no answer, though. Xander could hear Spike moving stuff around, shifting boxes and -- surely he wasn't actually unpacking boxes in the process of looking for whatever it was he was looking for? Curiosity starting to overcome him, he started to stand up. Spike came hurrying back into the room, and stopped, dismayed expression on his face, when he saw Xander getting off the floor. "Sorry," Xander muttered and settled back on the floor, feeling guilty and slightly foolish for it. "Sorry."

"Yeah, well, I should say," Spike began, but he sounded more like he'd just found a new toy and wanted to use it on Xander, than miffed. He came over and dropped an armload of blankets next to Xander.

Okay, that would work to keep him warm when vampire embraces wouldn't. "For me?"

"Not quite." Spike was down on the floor, again, and pulling blankets on top of them, and suddenly they were rolling. When they came to a stop, Xander found himself mummified in blankets, with Spike right back where he'd been, before, glomming him.

"Oh," he said faintly. He could see the advantages of this. It was warm, and it was certainly comfy, as long as Spike kept his knees from poking him. Much better than unpacking.

"Xan?"

"Hmmm?"

"M'hot."

Xander considered swatting him, but settled for just sticking his tongue out. "Deal."

Spike lay quietly -- for ten seconds. Then he wriggled one arm free of the blanket-burrito.

"Now what?"

"Cooling off," Spike explained, as he wriggled free of the blankets down to the shoulder. Apparently not caring that this freed parts of Xander from the blankets, as well.

"You're going to make me cold again."

"You just said I should deal with being hot. I am -- by being not hot anymore." He wriggled some more, and one leg was now exposed.

"Kinda defeating the purpose of bringing all the blankets out, if you're just going to kick them off," Xander pointed out.

"Who was it started complaining?" Spike demanded, kicking his other -- and both of Xander's -- leg free of the blankets.

He pouted. "Fine, if you're going to kick them all off, you can find another way of keeping me warm."

"They're not *all* off. Your tush is still all covered."

Xander reached up and tugged on Spike's ears, pulling his face down to his. "I don't think you heard what I just said."

Spike looked at him, then blinked in slowly dawning comprehension. "Oh!" A second later every blanket was scattered about the room, and they were lying, naked, on the floor.

And Xander was getting cold again.

Spike grinned. "Have to warm you up, then?"

"Now you're getting it." Xander grinned back.

"Want me to go order some electric socks?"

Xander smacked him.

"Oo! Kinky." Spike leered, and leant down to kiss him. He wriggled his ass. Xander kissed him back and obligingly smacked him again.

~~~~~

Two hours, one shower, and a nap on the cold, hard floor later, Xander was trying again. Unpacking. He was standing beside a box, he had it open, and he was, by golly, going to pull a book out and set it on a shelf.

If Spike would just move his hand.

Before he could explain the order of events to Spike, the phone rang, and he jumped a foot. Spike was halfway to the phone before Xander could react. "No, no, no, no," Xander chanted, diving for the vampire, tackling him before he could reach for the receiver. Spike laughed, and caught him even as they both fell to the floor. Xander pulled himself up at least far enough to lean on his elbows. "No answering the phone, you're not supposed to be -- watch the hands!"

"I'm not supposed to watch the hands?" Spike shrugged from beneath Xander, and began doing more intricate things with those wandering appendages.

The phone was still ringing. "Let me up," Xander demanded, wriggling to get free. "Got to answer the phone."

"Oh, all right. But if it's the telemarketers again, you're on your own." Spike let him go, and put his hands behind his head, lying back to stare up at Xander. He didn't quite look the picture of innocence. The leer on his face pretty much took care of that.

Xander glared at him then scrambled for the phone. He didn't try to move too far away from Spike -- at least staying close enough that he could be ogled, and picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Xander!" Giles' rich voice sounded warmly in his ear. "I was about to give up."

"Sorry -- I was on the other side of a wall of boxes." He gave the naked vampire on his floor a glare. Spike gave him a bewildered 'who me?' look back. Like Xander hadn't stopped falling for that one the second time they'd met.

"How is the unpacking going?"

"Oh... slowly. It was a lot easier when I had no stuff. Or when I had people helping me." He gave Spike's leg a careful kick -- careful because he was barefoot, not because he didn't want to harm Spike's delicate body.

"Yes, I remember what it was like when I first moved to Sunnydale. Took me over a month to get everything sorted."

Xander grinned. "Did that include getting stuff out of boxes?" He looked around the living room -- he couldn't actually tell that he'd emptied any boxes, though he did remember breaking down a couple, at least, so he must've.

"A couple of weeks' worth. Mostly books. The drawbacks of having a private library." He could hear the smile in Giles' voice.

"Only two weeks?" Xander surveyed the room again, dismayed. He'd been at this for a week, already. He had his toiletries, some clothes, a handful of books, and two settings of dishes unpacked. Of course, Giles probably hadn't had a cute, naked, smirking vampires watching him and distracting him from getting any work done, either.

He had a sudden foreboding about getting any of his coursework done on time, once classes started next week.

"Well, I did have some experience with moving flats. It'll take a few times to learn how to do it easily."

"I have to do this *again*?" Xander whined -- though he did intend to do this moving thing at least once more. Move back home. But after that, either he was burning all his books or he was never moving again. "Moving three times isn't enough?" he whined again, anyhow, just to hear Giles laugh. He got the sought after laugh. "I fear that you'll have to move at least a few more times."

He pouted, but aimed it at Spike. "I don't think I like moving. I think I'll just never be good at it, and should learn to live with the disappointment." Spike was crawling onto his hands and knees, and staring at Xander. Or perhaps it was Xander's *mouth* he was staring at.

"How about next time, I give you hand?" Giles offered.

Xander took a wary half-step back from the approaching Spike. Not to get away from him, but to try to delay in the pounce he was planning, for as long as possible. He hadn't talked to Giles since yesterday, and Xander missed him. "You could give me two," he suggested, dividing his attention between trying to make Giles laugh again, and trying to discourage Spike without pissing him off.

"Tell you what, if you haven't finished by the time I come down the weekend after next, I'll help this time as well."

"And I'm supposed to get unpacked, *now*?" Xander joked, stepping back again out of Spike's reach. Spike didn't seem daunted, though, crawling forward again, slowly. He looked up at Xander, the very picture of lust.

"Depends on how you want to spend my visit," Giles replied easily. "Or... how long you want me to stay?"

"You could stay til I'm ready to move back," Xander offered cheerfully -- ignoring the way his heart flipped when he said it. Spike laughed silently at him, and continued advancing.

There was a long pause on the other end of the line and then Giles said quietly, "I would if you need me to."

"I... I know." Xander glanced down at Spike, and was surprised to find he'd stopped his prowl. Still on his hands and knees, but waiting.

"Or even if you want me to." Giles was obviously trying to lighten his tone.

"I *could* use some help carrying my books to class," Xander joked. Spike looked affronted, and gestured towards himself as though a mere vampire couldn't carry a few textbooks. Xander mouthed the word 'sun' and Spike shrugged. Then he grinned evilly, and Xander backed up another step.

"I could always see if Dobb's College needs a slightly worn librarian."

Xander heard a voice in his head asking why they hadn't thought of that before. But as he watched Spike -- and backed up some *more*, barely keeping his leg from being grabbed -- he knew it wouldn't be fair. With real regret, he said, "Yeah, but then you'd have to see if they needed a sightly worn Slayer, too. And a slightly worn Slayer's best friend and best friend's boyfriend..." He grinned. "I'd need a much bigger apartment."

"And you don't want to have to move again." The words were softly said, their real meaning in the tone rather than the context.

"Yeah. I mean, I've already got three boxes unpacked," Xander said as lightly as he could manage. He swallowed a yelp as something licked his leg, and he reached out blindly to kick his boyfriend in the head. "There'd be no point in repacking them *now*."

"Ah. I'll just have to content myself with lots of phone calls and the occasional visit."

"You can still help me unpack," Xander said quickly, though he didn't actually know if he meant it.

"You sure you don't want me to come this weekend?"

Xander opened his mouth to say yes. Then he had to kick Spike, again, for licking his leg. He glared down and mouthed "I'm talking to *Giles*" as though Spike didn't know. He couldn't say no, because he'd be busy -- even if Spike did seem to have plans to keep him naked and worn out from fucking, for as long as possible.

But therein lay the whole 'did you know my boyfriend moved down here with me' thing.

On the other hand -- did he really want to say no? "You could," he allowed, trying not to sound too eager or hopeful.

There was a brief silence on the other end and he thought he could picture Giles' expression. "Is Friday night too early?"

He couldn't stop the grin that made it very hard to form a response. "Yeah! I mean, no. Not too early. I can even..." He glanced around the living room. "Have no place cleared out for you to sleep. Huh. I don't see the couch."

Giles chuckled, the sound as warm and welcome now as every time before. "I'm sure we can improvise."

"Yeah. If we stay up all night unpacking, we won't have to worry about it." There was that licking, again, this time on his other leg. He glared downwards, and found two round, wide, impossibly innocent-looking eyes staring up at him. As though the mouth below those eyes weren't attached to Xander's leg.

And Willow had asked him if he wouldn't want a cat, to keep him company. Cat, vampire, apparently all the same thing, right? Maybe he should put a dish of blood down, on the kitchen floor to tempt Spike away from his leg.

"So, um, I should probably..." Xander started to stammer what was becoming his usual method of saying goodbye to Giles, on the phone. He didn't mind so much spending hours talking to Giles -- but not with Spike now licking his way *up* Xander's leg.

"Ah. Yes. Of course. I'm sure you're busy..."

He almost said 'no', he wasn't. Keep Giles on the phone with him and... kick Spike out? He didn't want to kick Spike out. He tried to think of a way to say he wasn't busy, he did wanna talk, except he did have to go -- then Spike was licking the inside of his thigh. "Yeah, sorry, I gotta go."

"I'll call before I leave on Friday then. Let you know I'm coming."

"Yeah! OK, good." He wriggled, trying to get his naked bits away from Spike's tongue long enough to not say anything horribly embarrassing over the phone.

Something was coming through in his voice however because Giles sounded puzzled and a little... disappointed. "All right then. Good bye."

Xander barely had time to say 'bye', before the phone line went dead. Xander frowned at the receiver, then gave Spike yet another useless glare. He pulled free of Spike and hung up the phone, ignoring the way Spike looked after him, confused, still kneeling on the floor. He didn't -- he hadn't meant to hurt Giles' feelings, but it sure sounded like he had.

"Oh, what?" Spike's taunting voice interrupted his musing. "You're gonna see him on Friday. Isn't that enough?"

"He thinks I didn't want to talk to him."

"Because you've talked to him for at least an hour every day since you moved down here?" Spike laughed, once. "He's a big boy, Xander. He knows you've got a life of your own, now."

Xander shook his head, pacing away, automatically dodging around boxes. "But he thinks I didn't want... that I was trying to get rid of him."

"Er, weren't you?" Spike sounded amused. "Seem to recall one of the house rules was no having sex while Xander's on the phone with anyone who'll want to slay me for it. Er, which includes everybody except Dru, come to think of it."

"That's what makes it even worse!" He was pacing in earnest now. "I got rid of him just to have sex."

Spike blinked. "You didn't want to have sex?" Spike's gaze dropped, a bit to the half-erection Xander had been sporting since Spike had started his licking.

"That isn't the point!"

Spike tilted his head, and looked at him. Xander could almost see the little gears in his head spinning. Or maybe it was the sound of Xander's teeth grinding.

"It isn't," he insisted. "I've been having sex with you all day. I had only talked to Giles for five minutes. Then I blew him off."

"To get blown off," Spike said with a smirk.

"Spike!" Xander yelled exasperated. "Is that all you think about?"

"Mostly." Then Spike rolled his eyes, and leaned back to get to his feet. He walked over to Xander, and asked in a serious tone, "You wanna call him back? Kick me out for an hour or so?"

Xander could hear a hint of the same thing he'd heard in Giles' voice. "It's daylight," he pointed out, not really answering.

"I could hide in a closet," Spike offered, still sounding serious, but somehow Xander knew he wasn't. This was the preface to a pout, and a 'you don't want to shag me anymore, and that's fine, I'll go throw myself out into the sunlight and become ash'. He'd heard it before, often enough -- from Dru, which was totally scary.

Xander tried to head it off by narrowing his eyes and accusing, "Is that some kind of gay vampire reference?"

Spike looked surprised, and shook his head. "No point in that, is there? Never met a vampire yet who didn't shag on both sides of the fence." He started walking towards Xander, sliding across the floor in that 'I am sex' way he had. It annoyed Xander that Spike could turn him on, by walking.

Then he thought about what Spike had just said. "You mean Angel has-?"

Spike laughed. "You thought he *hadn't*?"

"With who?" The question was blurted out before he thought about it. Spike raised one eyebrow. "You want a list? 'Cause I'd have to call him for some of the names."

Xander opened and closed his mouth a few times. "Um, no. That won't be necessary."

Spike smirked. He moved forward again, in that sexy, edible, must throw you down now sort of way that was making it tricky for Xander to remember that he was irritated. Spike raised his hand to Xander's arm, then, oddly, placed two fingers on Xander's wrist and began walking them up his arm.

"What are you doing?"

Spike looked up at him, head still tilted downwards, fingers still walking up Xander's arm. "Can I shag you now?" he asked with all undue innocence and modesty.

'Irritated,' Xander reminded himself. 'You're irritated.' "Why should I let you?"

Spike's hand stopped. "Don't have to let me. I could just seduce you," he offered, smiling in a mildly leering way. He leaned forward ever so slightly, as if ready for Xander to decide to kiss him.

"I should be unpacking." Even to himself the protest sounded weak.

Spike nodded. Moved infinitesimally closer. "Yes, you should." It was weird, Xander thought, how he could feel neither body heat nor breath from the vampire -- yet there was *something*. Something he could feel when Spike drew so close. Presence, maybe. Aura. Sexual magnetism...

What was the question again?

~~~~~

Spike moved just his mouth forward, as though it was no longer connected to the rest of his body. As if Xander would have to reach out to find anything other than the lips that were *almost* pressed against his. Without conscious thought, Xander leaned forward the remaining distance to touch his lips to Spike's.

There was a moment when all he was touching were those lips and the two fingers still resting on his forearm. Four points of contact that should not elicit such a fierce reaction. Shouldn't but did. He moaned as Spike's tongue touched his lips, then moved in to explore his mouth.

The two fingers were replaced by Spike's hand, gripping his arm. Spike pulled away, tongue slipping out of Xander's mouth and Xander caught himself trying to catch it, and keep it. "So I can, then?" Spike asked, lightly, but overlaid with the sound of arousal Xander knew so well.

"Huh?" he said intelligently.

There was a brief press of lips on his, and before he could focus on the kiss, Spike was asking, "I can shag you, then?"

"Isn't that what you're already doing? Well, pre-shagging..."

"Didn't want you to yell at me afterwards, though, that you'd rather have been cranky."

Xander grinned. "You'll just have to take your chances."

Spike frowned at him, weighing his options. One finger on the hand gripping Xander's arm was rubbing, back and forth, as though in time with Spike's thoughts. When Xander thought he would have to kick his boyfriend in the head, again, Spike finally mumbled, "Shag now, yell later... yell now, shag later. If it's dark by the time he starts yelling..."

Xander growled.

Spike stopped, and made an inquisitive noise. "Yell now?" One eyebrow had gone up, and Spike's expression was pure politeness. As if he weren't naked, and angling for a shag.

It was becoming easier to remember being irritated with Spike, if for different reasons, now. "You're got five seconds," he said bluntly, "or I'm going to go unpack."

Spike blinked. "To finish or start?"

"Four, three--"

Spike spun him around, and -- somehow, supernatural vampire at work again, no doubt -- was pushing an erection into the very entrance of Xander's ass. Xander gasped, breaking off his countdown.

"Damn, don't have any lube," he heard Spike muttering, even as he slid himself in another half an inch. His hands were on Xander's hips, and quite probably the only thing keeping Xander standing.

"Used it earlier," Xander reminded him, with a gasp.

Spike pushed himself all the way in -- as he'd had to have known he could, since he'd been fucking a well-lubed Xander less than twenty minutes ago. "So I did," he said with the merest hint of a gasp.

"Gah..." Xander replied.

"Gah... what?" Spike asked, pulling back and thrusting back in.

Xander just groaned, panting hard. He couldn't even figure out what Spike was asking for, much less form a coherent response.

Spike thrust again, then stopped, fully sheathed in Xander's body. He leaned forward, plastering himself up Xander's back, and whispered in his ear, "Gah what? Gah-t off me? Gah-dzooks?"

"Spike!" Xander managed, exasperated and desperate.

His shout was rewarded with a quick, hard thrust. Then Spike pulled almost completely out, and said in a half-casual, half-breathless tone, "Spike doesn't begin with a 'gah' sound." Then he slammed himself inside before Xander could respond. Xander's brain had turned off all language functions by this point so he made some kind of non-verbal sound that was meant to be encouraging. Of course, Spike stopped again. "Er, what? You want me to move left?"

He growled, which he thought was quite eloquent for his the level of his thought processes at that moment.

"Um, right?" Spike shifted to the right, and pushed again. "That better?"

Another growl.

"Seems better," Spike said thoughtfully, but still breathlessly. He pushed in two more times, carefully, as if to check his angle. "No, I think it-- oh, fuck it," he exhaled, and thrust in, hard.

Xander continued making nonverbal sounds, but now he meant them less as 'you are evil' and more like 'don't stop.' Spike either understood him, or wasn't listening at all, because he kept thrusting. The hands on Xander's hips were gripping harder, now, and Xander had a fleeting thought about whether they would both fall over.

Spike was making soft noises, now, too -- preverbal ones which meant things like 'I'm never going to stop doing this'. At least, that's what Xander hoped they meant. His entire body seemed to be screaming at him to stay like this, just this, for as long as possible. He'd grow old and grey and die of a heart attack at age seventy, still being fucked. Then he stopped thinking and concentrated on what he was feeling, what Spike was making him feel.

It was worth not being irritated at him. Fun as that was, it didn't compare to the rush of being fucked, hard, in the middle of the room with practically no warning -- at least no foreplay. Leg-licking might have been foreplay, except he'd been on the phone with his *dad*, hello -- no sex on the phone, unless it's phone sex.

He had a brief thought of phone sex *with* Giles, and he dropped his head. Bad thought. Bad, bad thought. Bad thought not making him *any* less interested in what Spike was doing. Spike -- think Spike, think cool hands and low grunts and the crisp accent when he says "oh, god, Xander" just like that...

He had to open his eyes and look at the pale hands on his waist, focus on them as Spike fucked him and whispered into his ear. Focus on not thinking, on the sensation of Spike thrusting into him over and over. Spike's hands tightened their grip, and Xander could hear the hitch in Spike's moans that meant he was about to come.

Xander tried to catch his own breath, wanting to hear his lover's noises without the interference of his own harsh breathing. The tight groans and the harsh, half-whimpers were sounds he never heard, outside of this point -- right as Spike was coming, and he seemed to lose all control over his vocal cords until he couldn't make any particular sounds but partially formed noises of any number of vocalisations.

He sounded as though his brain were short-circuiting and the only thing he could do was open his mouth and keep fucking. It fascinated Xander, and he figured it would fascinate him even more if he ever had the brain power to really concentrate at these moments. Given that it only happened when Spike was fucking him, that was never going to happen.

He heard another gasp, something like a whispered word, which Xander could sometimes make out, sometimes not. Not a full word, but enough that it always made him shiver, and usually made him come from the sound of it. The first syllable of his name, caught on Spike's breath as his orgasm struck him.

The shiver became a full body event, the sound of his name on Spike's tongue in that breathy wondering tone pushing him closer to his own climax. One hand let go of his hip, and reached around to his cock. Spike had barely had a chance to grip him, before Xander was thrusting his cock into Spike's fist, and shouting Spike's name, as well. Xander's legs gave out, then *Spike's* legs gave out. Xander yelped as they collapsed, Spike falling on top of him.

Somehow, they managed to avoid hitting the wall on the way down. They didn't avoid, completely, hitting a couple of boxes. It felt as though Spike tried to catch them, or change their trajectory -- or maybe he was just going for one last grope before they killed themselves on Xander's kitchen utensils and dishware.

They ended in a tangle of limbs on the floor, Xander seeing stars from where his head had hit the floor with a surprising loud thud. "Ow," he complained faintly.

"Uh? Thought it was pretty good, myself," Spike mumbled, not trying to move off of Xander.

Xander glared at him, reaching up to rub at his head. It hurt. So did his elbow and his hip, which had also had strong contact with the ground.

Spike looked back, blankly for a second, then he realized what had happened. "Oh. Sorry. Guess you were right about the 'not unless we're near something soft' thing. Um... maybe you should buy lots of thick rugs for your whole flat?" He looked around. "And possibly unpack, get rid of all these boxes."

Before Xander could thump him, Spike had pulled Xander to him, and rolled onto his back so that Xander was on top of him. He began kissing Xander's forehead, then face, as if covering every possible owie.

"What have I been trying to do all day?" Xander responded, though not with quite the edge he had been trying for.

"Buy rugs?" Spike asked in between kisses. He was now working his way down Xander's arm, towards his banged elbow.

"Unpack."

Spike looked up at him, with an expression of mild confusion. "But I'm not packed. My stuff's already in my own place--"

Xander glared at him. "For some reason mine's still mostly in boxes."

"Well, luv, you've only been here for a week. I got moved in almost two weeks ago. And, er, I don't own quite so much stuff." He craned his neck around at all Xander's boxes. "Still, you've hooked up the telly, and pulled out the toy box, so what more d'you need?"

"Books," Xander replied without thinking.

There was a pause, then Spike sighed, a sigh of the truly down-trodden, and he stretched out his arms on the floor. "God, why did I hook up with a bibliophile? Someone just stake me." He raised his head a bit and gave Xander a dirty glare. "And it's not like I can just give you a gift certificate to Waldenbooks for your birthdays and Christmas, is it? Couldn't read mass market pulp and make it easy on a guy?" He thumped one of the nearby boxes. "Think how much lighter that'd be if it was full of Don Pendleton."

"I don't make fun of your reading habits." Xander paused. "Do you have reading habits?"

Spike glared. "You just did!"

Xander gave that comment all the respect it deserved. He stuck his tongue out at Spike. Spike snatched it, and Xander had a feeling he was still not going to get anything more unpacked.

~~~~~

Xander told himself he was being ridiculous. Giles was due in town any minute -- possibly half an hour from now -- and Xander was frantically moving boxes around, making it look as though he'd gotten more unpacked that he really had. Spike had seen to that.

Not, really, that Xander had minded at the time -- or minded now, even if he was a bit sore, and grateful for a whole weekend without getting carpet burns. But the whole reason Giles was coming down was to help him unpack -- so why was he trying to make it look like there wasn't much unpacking to be done? He didn't want it to seem like he couldn't unpack and get settled in without Giles' help. But he didn't want Giles to think he'd wasted the trip, either.

Xander realized he was getting possibly a bit hyper. Maybe he should have let Spike stay hidden in the closet, so they could have had one last body-numbing round of sex before Giles arrived. Though with his luck Giles would have showed up in the middle of the body-numbing round of sex and that would have been bad.

And how many times did that make it that he'd thought of Giles and sex in the same sentence this week? He decided to stop counting. If he didn't, he'd be at number 'ten' and he'd be talking to himself about it out loud when Giles--

Someone knocked on the door. Xander bounced over two boxes, around a third, then grabbed the doorknob and yanked the door open. Giles was standing there, hand upraised in midknock.

"Dad!" Xander leapt forward and grabbed him by the neck with one arm like he hadn't seen the man eight days ago or talked to him four hours ago.

Giles chuckled and the arm that wasn't holding his bag went around Xander in return. "Hello."

"Been a long week," Xander apologised, half-grinning. He let go and backed up, so Giles could come in.

"Yes, it has." Giles stepped by him and glanced around the room. "I see we're going to be busy this weekend."

"Sorry. I tried unpacking, but every time I pulled a book out--" Xander shrugged. He *had* been distracted that way at least four times. "And I went out to see the sights," he added, since he had gone out two nights, with Spike, and for lunch every day he walked down the block to the local cafe. That sort of counted as a distraction, right?

"Perhaps you can show me around then at some point."

"Yeah. There's Bernie's Grill, and the newstand, and -- oo! I found a bookstore that has a back room -- not that kind of backroom. The good stuff you can talk about in front of your parents without blushing. OK, maybe not *your* parents, I think grandma can *still* make me blush."

Spike had taken him to the bookstore last night, Xander suspected as an apology for making Xander nearly knock himself unconscious after sex. Or maybe as a new way of preventing any more unpacking, once they'd run out of lube.

"My mother has an innate gift at embarrassing people." Giles was watching him with a tiny grin of amusement and fond affection.

"I only hope she learned it because *her* mother embarrassed her. Otherwise -- so not fair." Xander made sure he'd locked the door, then followed Giles into the living room.

"Oh, she definitely came by it honestly." Giles sat his bag down on one of the boxes. "My grandmother was a real terror."

"Oh, good!" Xander felt immensely cheered.

His guardian chuckled, eyes a little distant with remembering. "You would've liked her. She was the only person I ever saw make my mother squirm."

"I guess it's the prerogative of parents to torment their kids." Xander stopped, and gave Giles a stern look. "Notice I didn't say *adoptive* parents."

"No, adoptive parents are tormented by their adopted kids."

Xander gave him a wide grin. "See? It only took me three years to train you. You *used* to roll your eyes and sigh at me when I tried to do stuff like that." Xander began pushing at boxes with his foot, trying to clear a place where Giles could set his bag down out of the way. He realized he had somehow made slightly more of a mess trying to get ready for the weekend, then there had been when he'd first unloaded his car. "I didn't bring this many boxes with me. Do they multiply?"

"I've often wondered that myself." Giles looked around him again. "Shall we see if we can make some headway?"

"Unless you'd rather head out now for a sandwich and Reggie's Books?"

"Which would you prefer?"

"You have to ask? Geez, it's only been a week and you already don't know me."

For a brief moment, a sad expression flitted across Giles' face. It was gone so quickly that Xander wasn't sure he'd actually seen it. Then his guardian was smiling wryly at him. "So we'll be going out then."

"Well... you'll be here all weekend, right?" Xander glanced around at the boxes again. He knew he *ought* to be unpacking. But he should have been unpacking all week, and Spike assured him he *could* live out of boxes for years as long as Xander had all his books unpacked. Now, though, between the two of them -- since they would not be stopping for sex every ten minutes, and wasn't Xander grateful to have thought 'Giles' and 'sex' yet again in the same sentence -- it would go much quicker.

"Unless you kick me out, yes I will be."

"I won't kick you out," Xander said quickly. He'd got Spike to promise to not come around until Monday night, and he was pretty sure Spike was actually going to do so. There would be no reason to get rid of Giles until he had to go home.

Giles smiled, just as briefly as the disappointed expression had been. "Then we can play hooky this afternoon."

"See, I knew I could corrupt you." Xander started searching his apartment for the wallet and keys he was pretty sure he'd set down someplace where he could find them. If Spike had moved them, Xander was gonna kill him.

"I was corrupt long before I met you," Giles replied, watching him searching. "Um, do you need help?"

"Do you see a wallet and keys anywhere?" Yes, Spike was a dead man. Dead vampire. Deader vampire. If he had to explain to Giles how his wallet got left in the freezer again...

Giles began to search as well -- and quickly found them on top of a box nearest the door. Mutely he handed them over.

"Gee, I think I remember leaving them there. Maybe I should get one of those little tables by the front door to hold my stuff. Do those have a name? Or are they just little tables by the door to hold stuff?" Xander smiled, wondering if he sounded as lame to Giles as he seemed to, in his head.

"How long has it been since you took a break?"

"Uh... that implies I've been getting anything done other than changing my mind about where stuff should go." And having sex, which, at least he'd cleaned everything up from *that*. He realised that that, in itself, had taken a bit of time. And he'd actually thought of sex without thinking of Giles in the same sentence.

Giles just smiled at him. "I can see it's going to be an interesting weekend."

"Oh, like things were never interesting living on a Hellmouth?" Xander pocketed his keys, headed for the front door, then realized he needed his keys and pulled them back out.

"It has its moments. Though you were the one that said it was horrific, but predictable."

Xander paused at the door, and tried to remember saying it. He shook his head. "Not only do you see and hear everything, but you remember everything. I'll have to watch what I say around you from now on." Even if he wouldn't have much opportunity to get himself into trouble with Giles, anymore. He viciously kicked that thought into the back of his brain as Giles chuckled, and they headed out into the hallway.

The hallway, like the rest of the building, was well-lit and well-kept up -- Angel hadn't even let him consider moving someplace cheaper, without threatening to hire bodyguards to live next door. Xander's neighbors, whom he mostly hadn't met, seemed quiet and not all entirely-human. Dobb's College was just a few blocks away, and some of the graduate students lived in the building. Enough that if some weirdness followed him home some night -- and he would be surprised if it didn't -- it probably wasn't going to get him evicted.

"I don't remember everything," Giles told him. "Just the important things."

"And anything that involves me getting myself into trouble counts as important?" Xander teased. "I shouldn't mention the bar I found, then, should I?"

One eyebrow went up at that.

"Kidding! Come on, let's go get some lunch. Or dinner, if you've already eaten." He tugged at Giles' arm. When his guardian's expression didn't greatly change, Xander added, "I've only been here a week. How could I find a bar that admits minors that fast?"

"You've always had a gift for finding trouble." Giles paused. "As does almost everyone from Sunnydale, now that I think about it."

"Yeah, I think there's something in the water." Xander finished locking all the locks behind him, tapped the 'discourage evil intent' ward on his door, and pocketed his keys. He found Giles looking interestedly at the spell's trigger. "Oh, that. Standard in the building. I don't think it actually works any better than the third elevator which squeaks and takes forever and makes you think the cables are about to let go." It wasn't that bad -- but it did squeak, and sway.

"If you want, I can see if I can help you reinforce it before I leave."

"Yeah! That'd be cool." Xander bounced. He'd intended to see if he could do it sometime during the upcoming semester -- one of his classmates might turn out to know stuff like this. He'd noticed a couple of doors along the hallway had stronger wards on their doors, and knew it could be done. "Only nothing too fancy. I don't need people hanging outside my door thinking I know people who do really neat magic. It's bad enough Bubba likes my truck." He shivered at the thought of giving in to the Murgle demon's request and lending his truck to a large, bulbous demon that oozed pink stuff.

"Bubba?"

"Murgle demon, lives downstairs. Friendly, but -- no way is he getting inside my truck."

"Ah. Yes. A wise decision," Giles said, with that oh so familiar understatedness. It had only been eight days, how could Xander have grown to miss it so quickly? Even their phone calls hadn't seemed to capture this... whatever it was about being with Giles. Maybe the telephone simply couldn't transmit his tone of voice as well. Maybe it was the way Giles walked right beside him so that they could almost touch.

Or maybe -- Xander moved his hand slightly towards him, and couldn't hide a smile when Giles took it -- maybe it was that they *could* touch. He stifled a sigh. It was going to be hard to let him go, at the end of the weekend. But Xander knew he had to, because the alternative was making Giles put his own life on hold, for Xander's. "So. Has Angel made good on his threat and called you with updates every day?" he asked, forcing a casual air.

Giles glanced sideways at him. "There hasn't been much to update yet."

"Uh-huh. That doesn't answer my question." Xander stabbed the elevator call button, and hoped it wouldn't be the third one down that responded first.

"No, you're quite right, it doesn't."

"You two are worse than mother hens, you know that? I should have accepted at a college in the middle of the continent, far away from you, Angel, or grandmum and grandda, just to see how you'd manage to keep an eye on me."

The second elevator doors pinged, and Xander grinned triumphantly. Maybe there was a way to spell the third elevator to never respond? It might not squeak *that* badly, but there was something about the floor shaking beneath you that made him think of taking the stairs.

"I can't say I'm unhappy you didn't," Giles said quietly as they stepped aboard and Xander hit the button for the ground floor.

"Yeah -- can you imagine having to move halfway across the country just so you'd be within commuting distance for weekend visits? Unless you know a teleportation spell you haven't told me about?"

"Not a reliable one."

"Ah. Best we don't try it, then. Bad enough when the airline loses your luggage."

"Yes. There are some things you just don't want to risk being scrambled."

The elevator reached the ground floor without any third-elevator-esque incidents. Xander held the doors open for Giles then followed him out. "So, uh, I didn't actually ask if you were hungry. Food, or books first?" Xander paused in the lobby, because one meant walking, the other meant heading for the parking garage.

Giles considered. "Food, I think."

Xander was pretty sure he wasn't scaring Giles with the force of his grateful smile. "Bernie's makes the *best* taco salads," he began, leading Giles towards the side door. "And vanilla cokes -- have you ever had one of those? I think the Sonic closed before you arrived and no one else could ever make a decent one, in Sunnydale. And he makes this roast beef sandwich that's *this* big." He held up his hands. He caught Giles' amused expression, and grinned sheepishly. "I haven't actually gotten around to unpacking enough of the kitchen to cook, so I've had lunch there every day."

The amusement faded into one of those fond smiles. "Working your way through the menu?"

"Working on getting a frequent diner's card. One free sandwich for every $100 spent."

"Is that a roundabout way of asking for a raise in your allowance?"

"I still get an allowance?" Xander was pretty sure he'd have remembered if that had been part of the going-away criteria. He knew his trust fund, ala grandparents, was supposed to pay for his expenses while in school and had already let Willow calculate out a weekly budget for him for the next three years, to make sure he didn't go broke the first month. Granted, Giles could be teasing him, which, big surprise there. He got ready to stick his tongue out at the first hint of a smile.

But Giles answered seriously, "Just because you're not living at home doesn't mean I'm not still responsible for you."

"Really?" He grinned. Bounced possibly once. "I get an allowance, still? Because legally and financially speaking you don't have to anymore." He tried to slap his mouth shut, because what was up with talking Giles out of taking care of him? Not that that ever *worked*, he'd noticed.

"You'll still get an allowance as long as you're still in school."

"Can I come home and bring all my dirty laundry for you to wash, too?" Willow had described all the traditional college student rituals she hoped to engage in this year, and they'd all decided that the laundry thing was one of the best. After free meals, and no parental supervision. Less, rather, considering how often Giles was apparently calling Angel.

Giles glanced at him. "I might be persuaded to *help*," he allowed.

"Except with the stuff I get slimed, doing experiments?" Giles had years ago drawn the line with actually touching anything so slimed. He'd offer advice, and help Xander look up ways to get rid of such stains, but he wouldn't touch the clothes. If Xander got covered in the exact same slime during a fight, he'd help. Xander had always complained about the double standard, but all it had gotten him was investing in a thicker lab coat.

"Except that, yes."

"Even if it was an assignment?"

"Consider it part of your homework."

"Man," Xander sighed, and shook his head. But -- allowance! He was still getting an allowance! He tried not to squeeze Giles' hand as they continued down the sidewalk. It did occur to him that they were getting some strange looks -- but around this neighborhood it might as easily be because they were human, as because they were two guys holding hands.

He'd have to make Spike hold his hand sometime, so he could make Spike growl at the people giving them funny looks. Of course, getting Spike to hold his hand at all would get him some funny looks from *Spike*. He grinned. It would be fun.

"I bet you'd buy lunch, too," he said, suddenly thinking of it.

"I can probably be persuaded," Giles replied with a faint smile.

Xander just grinned at him. He knew he ought not take complete advantage of Giles' generosity. He also knew he *liked* it, and that Giles was going to darn well do it anyway. As long as he thought Xander needed or wanted it. He stopped bouncing, a bit, and they walked silently for a few yards. Giles seemed content to let him think his way through to his next question, as if knowing Xander wasn't just waiting for Giles to talk.

"Are you--" he finally began. He bit his lip, then tried again. "Are you ever gonna tell me it's time to be a grown-up and stop making you be all parental for me?"

Giles didn't respond right away. When he did, his voice was soft. "When it's time, I won't have to."

Somehow, that was more reassuring than simply hearing 'yes'. Xander looked at him, smiling, and caught Giles' expression turning ruefully amused.

"That's not to say I *will* stop. If my own parents are anything to go by I'll continue to parent you until you're ninety."

Surprised, Xander heard himself ask, "And if I'm still in school, I'll still have an allowance?"

"We may call it something else when you're ninety."

"I think they call it a pension."

Giles chuckled. "I believe you're right."

"Course I -- hey, here it is!" Xander pointed to the small cafe. The front window was painted with a simple 'Bernie's' and blinds in the front door were pulled open. Xander hurried forward and pulled the door open, standing aside to let Giles enter.

Which Giles did, throwing an amused look, Xander's way.

"Wait a minute," Xander said, and grabbed Giles by the back of his jacket, tugging him back outside. "If you're buying lunch, you should be opening doors for me."

"I should?"

"Don't you British people have any manners?"

Now he was getting the "isn't he cute" look from Giles. He stuck his tongue out. "Just go through the door, Xander."

Xander went through the door without further comment.

~~~~~

The cafe was mostly a typical greasy spoon diner. It was a lot cleaner than the usual greasy spoon, and the decor much more tasteful. Xander headed over to one of the booths, eschewing his usual spot at the counter. He wanted to be able to look at Giles, see him smile and rolling his eyes as they talked.

"So what else have you discovered besides a place to eat and a bookstore?" Giles asked as they sat down.

"Um." Xander didn't bother with the menu, since he knew what he wanted. Working his way down the list, he was up to number 8. He had no idea what sandwich #8 was, and didn't care. "Found some empty cabinets in my kitchen."

"Ah." Giles nodded and reached for a menu for himself. "So you haven't been exploring the neighbourhood, then."

"Angel said if I wanted to, he'd come over and go with me. Show me some sights, and stuff. Did I mention he's being very over-protective? Are you paying him or something?" Xander gave Giles a measuring look.

"I didn't have to."

Xander pretended to be shocked. "You didn't threaten him?" But he grinned before Giles could sputter a response. "He's actually not being that bad. He gave me a map of LA and showed me all the neighborhoods I wasn't allowed to go without him," or Spike, and there had been a whole area they couldn't go, even together, without Angel. Spike had snarked about it for an hour, but Xander noted he hadn't invited Xander to visit those spots, either. "He shaded other places as 'OK to go alone in the daylight' and 'OK to go alone at night'. Which, pretty much - my apartment building and one route to school."

Giles blinked. "Really. He's been rather..."

"I think he knows he'll be the one calling you if anything happens to me." Xander was still grinning, but he understood all about the serious stuff behind Angel's fretting. It wasn't just fretting over Spike being around, which Giles couldn't worry about since he didn't know. It also wasn't that Angel was a friend who wanted Xander to be all right. It was a little bit of everything, all wrapped up in Angel's feeling responsible for the entire world, and trying to do everything he could to be the only one who suffered.

At least that was what Spike said. Xander thought maybe Angel just needed something to do.

"Nothing's going to happen to you." Giles' tone was low and fierce and he seemed as surprised by it as Xander did.

Xander frowned. "Yeah, I know. But how am I supposed to find those strip joints and skip class for weeks at a time with you and Angel watching over me?"

"You're not going to do that."

"I might."

"No."

Xander narrowed his eyes. "I happen to know LA has strip joints."

"You've been checking the Yellow Pages?"

"Er-- no. Someone told me." Spike. Talking about where they should go, listing clubs and joints and all sorts of places Xander was pretty sure Spike was naming just to watch Xander act like a prude when he said 'Eew! No!'

It hadn't stopped Xander from saying it.

Giles raised an eyebrow. "Who?"

Xander grinned. "Gee, Dad, overprotective much?"

"You didn't answer the question," Giles merely pointed out.

"Relax," Xander leaned back, and smiled up at Susie, the waitress. "Number eight, please." She returned the smile and didn't write anything down. Xander peeked and saw she'd written '8' on the ticket already. She looked at Giles, but before Giles could place his order, Xander said, "I don't even know his name. I have his phone number..." He began patting his pockets as though searching for it.

"Xander," his guardian admonished, then turned to Susie and said, "I'll have the same, and a cup of tea. Thank you."

"Sure. You want lemon, red zinger, orange blossom or chamomile?" Susie asked.

Giles blinked and then sighed. "Earl grey?" he asked hopefully.

She blinked, and shook her head. Xander decided to take pity on Giles, and said, "He wants black tea."

"Oh! Liptons, yeah, we got that. Be right out." She seemed pleased to have figured out what Giles wanted, and moved away to turn in their order. "Every time I begin to forget I'm in California and think I'm somewhere that makes sense..." Giles complained with a sigh.

"You aren't," Xander said commiseratingly. He reached over and patted Giles' hand. "But at least we have import shops."

"Oases in the desert."

"I thought ice cream shops were the oases."

"Perhaps for you. Each man has his own version of what qualifies as an oasis," Giles said, using his teaching voice.

Xander propped his elbows up on the table, and gave Giles a rapt look. "Ooooo. Really?"

Giles frowned. "You're mocking me."

Xander blinked. Then he looked at his watch. "Well, yeah. It's that time."

"Are you telling me you schedule mocking me?"

"For the weekend, yeah. Back home I pretty much mocked you whenever the occasion arose. Or less often. But today - lunch, mock Giles, bookstore, dinner, unpack a box, snack break--" He broke off as Susie brought over a cup of hot water and tea bag, and a giant soda for Xander. "Oo, look! Your oasis has arrived," Xander said. Then, "See? Still 'mock Giles' time. Give it five more minutes and it'll be over."

Giles sighed, and sipped at his tea with an air of long weary patience.

"Like you never tease *me*?"

"Only when you deserve it."

"Implying that you don't deserve to be mocked?" Xander scooted forward and grabbed the straw, and swallowed two inches' worth of soda.

"And how much of that have you been consuming since you moved out here?"

Xander started to tell him -- no more than usual -- then instead, he whined, "Da-ad! I'm legal, now. I can drink this stuff!"

Giles muttered, "Dear lord," under his breath.

"Too much hyper-Xander for you all at once?" he asked, pretending to be concerned. "I know it must have been nice and quiet the last week -- except for the Bofshcicf demon attack Willow told me about unless she wasn't supposed to in which case she didn't."

"It was quiet," Giles replied, suddenly serious. "I'm not used to quiet."

Xander knew what he meant. Not that Giles was normally loud and hyper -- but even with Spike around almost constantly, it wasn't the same. The apartment was empty in a way he knew he couldn't fix by just getting everything unpacked -- it suddenly occurred to him that might be why he was dragging his feet so much about it. "I'm not used to not having anyone to be loud for." He half-smiled. Spike was used to him, and rarely even commented on Xander's behaviour. Unless it involved Spike directly, of course, or was something Spike decided was foreplay.

"It's going to take some adjusting," Giles allowed.

"I--"

Giles smiled at him. "When it gets too quiet, I can always call."

Xander nodded, even though that hadn't been what he'd been about to say.

"And it won't be the same." Now Giles' voice was quiet as he reached across the table and briefly squeezed Xander's hand.

"No," Xander agreed. He couldn't think of anything to say, to any of this. He hadn't planned on the weekend getting solemn or depressing -- even if, deep down, he'd known it would be hard when Giles left again. Fortunately Susie chose that moment to bring their sandwiches over -- corned beef, with fries on the side.

They both were silent for a bit while they concentrated on eating. Xander found that the corned beef was just as good the other items he'd tried. Maybe not as good as Giles' cooking, but... But if he let himself think things like that, he'd never stop. Or so he'd been reminding himself all week. So far he'd done... okay... with remembering not to dwell on it.

As annoying as he could be, Spike *was* good for keeping his mind off missing Giles. Come Monday, Xander suspected, he'd need an extended Spike-therapy session. The thought made him grin.

"What are you smiling about?" Giles asked curiously.

"I'm glad you're here. I was so... all fired up to do the move away to college and do my own thing... thing. But I'm glad you're here." His voice had dropped at the last.

His hand got squeezed again. "So am I."

Xander returned the hand-squeeze, then pulled his hand free and picked up his sandwich. Time to change the subject and get away from talking about this stuff. "So -- anything interesting happen in Sunnydale in the last... forty eight hours?"

Giles smiled and paused while he chewed and swallowed. "If there has been, they've kept it from me. No apocalypses at least."

"Wow. That's, what, a whole three months since the last one? And, shocked that you would think any of us would keep stuff from you about apocalypty things."

"*You* wouldn't at least."

"Because I *can't.* You know how hard it is to keep secrets from you?" He blinked as he heard what he'd just said. Ignoring the fact that he *was*, had, and had got himself into most of his trouble by doing so.

"You never really wanted to keep secrets," Giles informed him in a once-again serious tone. "That's what makes it so hard to do so."

Xander looked down at his sandwich. Good as all the rest of them, but suddenly the taste in his mouth was more like sand. It was encouraging, in a way, to know that the secrets he *did* want to keep, he could. Might be able to. God, he hoped he could, or Giles was never going to speak to him again. Would he disown him, or exorcise him? Lock him in the basement until he swore off dating Spike?

OK, so Giles didn't have a basement. But for this, he might go out and acquire a place that did just to lock Xander in it. Xander picked up a fry and dipped it in the small cup of malt vinegar Susie had brought out for him, and ate it. Fries were easy when your stomach was suffering emotional turmoil, he reminded himself. You could always eat fries. Just like there was always room for ice cream, no matter how much you'd had to eat, you could always eat fries.

He looked up and found Giles just watching him with that amused expression again. Xander raised one eyebrow -- knowing that if Spike were around he'd have busted out laughing and pointed, saying something like 'oo, Spike brow!' which was OK, because the vampire had picked up a few habits from *him* too. Humming country songs, for one, heh.

Luckily for him Giles wouldn't recognise the pilfered expressive habits.

"One would almost think you were British." Giles nodded towards the malt vinegar.

Xander looked down at it. "Like you weren't there when grandda said 'go on, m'boy, try it.' for ten minutes before I caved?" Or when Xander had admitted it was all right, or been there at the end of the week when Xander had reached for the malt vinegar instead of the ketchup, and had to endure Giles chuckling at him throughout lunch.

And every time he'd done it since, Giles had looked at him with that same amused expression.

A thought suddenly occurred to him. "Besides, you *don't* like malt vinegar on your fries. British Man."

"Perhaps I'm just attempting to fit in."

"Uh-huh." Xander continued to give Giles the eye. He waited.

Giles sighed. "I ate far too much of it in my misspent youth."

Again with the Spike's eyebrow. "Malt vinegar as a instrument of juvenile delinquency? I would have guessed switchblades and black magic."

"We had to eat something while we were sharpening our switchblades and researching our black magic," Giles pointed out reasonably.

Xander just gave Giles an interested, all ears, swear I won't repeat it to Buffy and Willow look, as he kept eating his malt vinegar and fries. Giles sighed and rolled his eyes, but obligingly started relating stories from his "misspent youth."

Xander noticed that both the sigh, and the eye roll, were completely faked.

~~~~~

Xander looked down into the box, amazed. It was empty. Totally, completely, no boxes in it, empty. Even more amazing was that all the books that had been in it were on the now bookshelf. In order. He looked over at Giles. "This calls for some sort of celebration. A break at least."

He didn't seriously intend to take a break -- they'd only been back at Xander's apartment for an hour, and hadn't actually started any unpacking until fifteen minutes ago. They'd managed to stay at Bernie's through lunch, dessert, and three cups of tea, then stayed at the bookstore for almost two hours. Xander had come back with only a small bag of books, mostly because Giles had bought himself several books, and for once Xander wanted to be able to tease *him*. Besides, he could go always back to the bookstore on Monday and get the rest of what he'd wanted to buy.

"How about we try and get the living room done before we take a break?" Giles counter-suggested, moving on to the next box in his stack.

"But I emptied out a whole box! That's like, a record for me." Granted, he didn't have anyone trying to seduce him this time -- and he had to spend a few seconds trying not to say 'Giles' and 'sex' in the same sentence, before he could look up at Giles again.

Giles looked up from what where he was kneeling. "I'd ask you what you've been doing this week, but I have the feeling I don't want to know."

Xander was pretty sure he was going to swallow his tongue. He'd *cleaned*. He knew he had. There was no way to tell what he'd been doing -- oh god, had they been over in that corner where Giles was standing? Had he missed something incriminatingly obvious?

"You might want to consider breathing," Giles said, dryly.

"Uh?" He took a breath and realised that, yeah, he'd been holding it. Way to inspire belief in his innocence, he told himself.

Giles smiled at him. "Relax, Xander. Angel mentioned Bork had moved to L.A."

"You knew?" he squeaked. And he wasn't dead?

"You thought I didn't?"

"How long have you known?" Xander had tried so hard to not say anything damning all summer, not wanting to earn himself the lecture about everything Giles would find wrong with shacking up with a boyfriend whom Giles thought was a perfectly normal demon instead of knowing he was a evil vampire, which would get Xander more than just a lecture. If Giles had known all along... Xander was going to shoot Angel. He was the only one who could have told on him.

"Since the night you left Sunnydale. Angel let it slip when I called to check u-- talk."

Yes, Angel was a dead man. "Oh, th-- um, oh." He thought maybe he shouldn't call Giles on the checking up on him, because he'd spent half an hour debating calling Giles himself, that same night, before Spike had shown up and distracted him. "He doesn't live here," Xander stammered quickly. There was still a lecture to avoid, even if for some reason he hadn't got it before now.

Giles smiled understandingly. "I know." He stood and moved over to Xander, reaching out to lay a hand on his shoulder. "You're not in trouble."

"I... didn't think I was. I just -- you know, lectures about responsibility and do I know what I'm doing and all. Got it from Buffy already, don't really want the grown-up version." He'd also got it from Angel, but his had been more of a 'if you let him live with you, every vampire in town can just waltz right in and I don't wanna have to tell Giles you're dead, two nights after you arrive. So don't." which didn't really count as a *lecture*. Just growling.

Giles was still giving him a gentle smile. "No lecture. And you already know my views on responsibility. You've proven yourself to me over the last year. I know I can trust you."

Xander let out his breath. He was pretty sure Giles couldn't tell his heart was racing. Right? No Watcher super-powers? Then he grinned. "Which is why you called Angel to check up on me?"

"I wasn't checking up on you," Giles protested, then immediately relented. "Well, all right I was. But it's not because I don't trust you."

"I know," Xander said, letting him off the hook. A squirming Giles was an adorable Giles -- but Giles also had a tendency to retaliate. "I don't actually mind," he added, in a quieter tone, and he looked down at the second box and fiddled with the edge of the tape holding it closed.

Giles offered diffidently, "Good, because I don't think I could stop."

Xander didn't know what to say to that, really. He was glad, and didn't really think he needed to freak Giles out by saying how glad. He pulled the tape free to unseal another box, instead, and looked at what he'd packed in this one. Books. Gee. Imagine that. Just how many boxes of books did he have? Had he packed anything besides books? He seemed to recall doing so, there had been clothes at some point, but he couldn't remember much else. "Giles? Did I *leave* any books at home? Because I'm thinking maybe not." He looked around the living room, counting the boxes still unopened. At least he'd managed to buy enough bookcases. He looked at the three six-foot bookcases standing side-by-side along one wall, catty-corner to where the TV and stereo were set up. They'd been set up practically the first thing, thanks to Spike.

Leave it to him to set those up and leave Xander to lug boxes.

Giles was chuckling. "I still have one or two volumes at the flat."

"Oops?" Xander gave Giles a cute grin. "I can come back and get those."

"That's entirely all right." Giles turned back to the box he'd been opening and when he continued it was in a voice quiet enough that Xander wasn't entirely sure he'd been meant to hear it. "If you came back I'm not sure I'd let you go again."

Xander stood up, left the box alone, and walked over to Giles. When Giles looked up, a faint expression of surprise on his face, Xander just reached out and hugged him. After a second or two, Giles hugged him back.

When Xander let go of him, he didn't meet Giles' eyes. He instead just moved back to where he'd been opening boxes and unloading them into the bookcases. There was nothing to say. They both knew how the other felt and they both knew that Xander needed to be here. They both knew that if either of them said anything more, Xander would be packing up again to go back to Sunnydale. Instead, Xander resolutely emptied the box of books, and inter-filed them in order on the shelves.

They managed to empty all the boxes which had been marked 'living room'. Finally, Xander stood up from breaking down the last of the empty boxes, and looked around. It looked like a real, actual, living room. "Wow."

"Doesn't look so bad, if I do say so myself," Giles agreed, standing and stretching.

Xander nodded. It looked homey -- it was kinda weird to see it, but it was definitely homey. "I should call the pizza guy now, before we get really crazy with this unpacking thing and finish the kitchen, as well."

"I think we can leave the kitchen until tomorrow." His guardian moved over and sat on the couch. "And why am I not surprised that you already have a pizza place picked out?"

"College handbook. Says I'm supposed to buy textbooks, pick out a mentor from my major department, and select one pizza place from an approved list."

"Really."

"Wanna see?" Xander actually had picked up a handbook, when he'd gone by the college to get his stuff for classes. He'd enrolled last spring, as Professor Calgrn had advised, and had only had to pick up textbooks and a handful of forms and brochures they required of all incoming freshmen. He'd called Willow and they'd compared their handouts, over the phone. Eerily enough, they were very similar, differing mostly in what counted towards meeting the foreign language requirements.

"I would actually, yes. I'd like to see anything you want to show me."

"It's real exciting stuff. OK, I'm lying. It's probably important, though." He looked around, wondering where he'd left -- ah. Right. "Check the bathroom counter," he told Giles, and went to order their pizza. Xander didn't have to look to know that Giles was giving him that puzzled, affectionate look that he always did when Xander did something weird. "It's the only place I knew I wouldn't lose the paperwork," he explained before the pizza guy answered the phone.

Xander ordered a large spinach and garlic pizza -- a rare indulgence. He wouldn't be kissing Spike for two more days. He also ordered another litre of soda, and breadsticks, then hung up to go see if Giles had found the stuff. He had, and was back sitting on the couch, going through Xander's freshman packet like he was the one going to college. Xander went over and sat down beside him, and leaned over Giles' arm. Xander had read everything through already, without much luck, but maybe Giles knew something about deciphering the paperwork that neither he nor Spike did.

Giles looked up at him. "Questions?"

"A dozen. Prof Calgrn said I had enough credits from correspondence to be a sophomore. But it's my first actual year so I'm a freshman." He pointed to the incoming student requirements and expectations. "I can't figure out what I'm supposed to do."

"The credits mostly count when you're picking your courses. There's some you can opt out of because you've already met the college's requirements."

Xander had to restrain a smile as Giles went into his helpful librarian mode. He made an encouraging noise, though, because letting Giles figure this stuff out and explain it to him was gonna be a lot easier than re-reading the papers and figuring it out on his own.

"The social stuff is easier. Just consider yourself a freshman and react accordingly." Giles looked up at him. "A freshman with common sense," he stressed.

"They have those?" Xander asked, surprised.

Giles just looked at him.

"I'll be the first?" he offered.

"You better be."

Xander leaned back in, against Giles' arm, and stared at the brochures he was holding. "Ah, you'll still love me if I get expelled." He was joking, and knew Giles would know he was joking, but he wasn't quite prepared for the tight feeling in his stomach as he heard himself say the words.

"Of course I will," Giles answered matter of factly, giving him a brief hug and a soft kiss on the side of his head. "But you don't necessarily need to test that theory."

The tight feeling in his stomach didn't go away. In a lecturing tone of his own, Xander replied, "Every good scientist should test, and re-test, his theories." Then he tensed, ready to jump up, in case anyone tried to tickle him.

But all Giles did was answer softly, "Some things you should just know."

"Because grandmum can tell me how it worked out for you?" he asked in a tone of all innocence, still trying desperately to ignore that feeling in his stomach.

"I did not get expelled," Giles said, all wounded dignity.

"Because grandmum talked your headmaster into giving you another chance."

"She did not." He looked suddenly uncertain. "Did she?"

Xander leaned back, against the couch, and stared up at the ceiling. "I'm not telling," he sang.

"No?"

Xander scooted back, an inch or so. He could spring off the couch at a moment's notice. "Nope."

Giles suddenly dove for him. Xander yelped, and leapt forward -- not quite fast enough, he discovered, as hands grabbed his waist and he went crashing to the floor. Then he dissolved into laughter as he was tickled mercilessly.

He was saved -- much later, and long after he was convinced he was going to pass out from lack of oxygen -- by the ringing of the doorbell. Giles let go, and Xander scrambled to his feet. Saved by the pizza. Giles got up as well and reached for his wallet.

"I've got--" Xander began, as he reached the door. He slapped himself. "What am I saying?"

His guardian chuckled and handed him some money.

"Apparently living on my own is teaching me bad habits," he complained, then opened the door and surprised the delivery boy with the size of his tip. Xander handed the pizza box off to Giles, and took the soda and breadsticks for himself.

"Dishes?" Giles asked, as Xander headed past him.

Xander looked back. "Dishes?" Then he glanced down at the soda in his hand. Right, they needed dishes. "There's two clean glasses in the sink."

He got a long look. "Kitchen next," Giles declared as he headed for the room in question.

Xander just grinned, and followed him.

Afterwards, they ended up finding not only all the dishes Xander had packed, but putting them and everything else away. Xander remarked that at this rate there would be no unpacking to do for the rest of the weekend. Giles merely replied that he wouldn't mind being a tourist, and finding out just how many bookstores there were in a ten miles radius.

With the kitchen looking habitable, and plans made for tomorrow morning, Xander realised he had absolutely nothing to use to make up the couch for Giles to sleep on. He had an extra pillow -- Spike's -- but nothing else. Giles was wiping the counter down and caught sight of his expression when he turned around. "What's wrong?"

"Um. I don't actually... I think we're gonna have to share the bed. No extra sheets," he explained, gesturing towards the couch.

"Oh." Giles blinked.

"I mean, you can... but, um, not like I've never slept with you before." He grinned. "This may just be the first time no trauma precedes the event."

"If it's... well, I could always go stay at a hotel," Giles offered.

Xander was pretty sure he managed not to look stricken, but he babbled, "Do I kick?"

"Of course not. Well, not too badly." Giles was obviously fighting a smile.

Xander was torn between giving him the stricken look anyhow, and letting Giles off the hook. It occurred to him Giles might be more comfortable at a hotel. He shrugged. "Well, you can if you want. You don't have to. But -- you can." He tried to sound like it really didn't matter either way.

Giles looked at him, head cocked slightly to the side. "Do you want me to stay?"

He shrugged again. "It isn't like there's not room." He didn't think he should admit how badly he did want Giles to stay.

He felt Giles' eyes on him, watching, assessing. "All right," he finally said. "I'll stay."

"I'll try not to kick." Xander also tried not to grin, but was pretty much failing.

"I know you will."

Xander started to nod and head for the bedroom -- then he looked back at Giles. "You know I will which? Try not to, or kick anyway?" he asked, suspiciously. It suddenly occurred to him that Spike had never mentioned that Xander kicked. Was Giles lying? Or did Spike enjoy that sort of thing? He was suddenly a little hesitant to ask.

"Try not to kick." Giles said conversationally, as he picked up his bag and followed Xander.

Somehow Xander managed to not act like he was completely awkward with getting ready for bed, with Giles there. He had to keep thinking about Bubba, or Ms. Furgeson, his second grade teacher who -- looking back -- might actually have been a real troll. He managed it mostly by ignoring Giles and acting like there was nothing weird about what he was doing. There wasn't, really. Two guys, getting ready for bed.

Just because he wanted a full body cuddle as soon as they hit the sheets...

They settled in the bed without any horribly embarrassing moments for which Xander was grateful. They automatically settled into the positions they had usually ended up in when Xander had snuck into Giles' bed at home. For a long moment, Xander just lay there -- too wired to actually fall asleep, but not about to move. It felt like he'd been gone for much longer than one week, somehow, wrapped now in Giles' arms. He'd missed this too much for it to have been so little time since the last.

In the quiet he heard Giles sigh softly, contentedly. Like he had missed this as much as Xander had. "I guess we'll have to schedule visits more often than we thought," Xander said, intending to joke, but it came out soft and serious.

"You'll think differently once your classes start," Giles replied quietly."Not if I want help with my homework," Xander countered. "You think Angel is gonna be able to help me with that?"

"Depends on the class."

"True. History of Carnage he could probably ghost write papers for me." He laughed as Giles nudged him in reproach. "OK, I won't ask him."

"You shouldn't have any trouble. Not if you apply yourself. Which I know you will." Giles' voice dropped to a warm caress.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Xander, you can do anything. I know," Xander half-teased. He squeezed Giles' hand. "Doesn't mean I can't still joke about it."

Giles chuckled. "I would be worried if you didn't."

Xander just smiled into the darkness. It felt so strange, and so... good, to lay here and talk. They usually didn't talk when Xander had had to curl up in bed with Giles -- there was comforting and 'it was just a dream', but no real conversation.

They talked at other times of course, but there was something about this, about lying close together in the dark and sharing their thoughts. It made him feel brave, made him think he could say anything and it would be all right.

It made him realise he had things he wanted to say.

He pulled Giles' arm more tightly around him, Giles moving easily to accommodate him. Giles didn't say anything, and after a few more moments of staring at the shadows, Xander stammered, "What if I--" Then he stopped. Was it a dumb question? Was it one he wasn't supposed to realise was going to come true?

"What if you what?" Giles asked softly.

"End up not wanting to--" He stopped, and had to force himself to even whisper, "to come home?"

Giles didn't answer right away. "That won't happen," he finally said, firmly. "Everyone wants to have a home to go to. It's just... sometimes where 'home' is changes."

That was exactly what Xander didn't want to hear. "But I don't want to not want to come home..." He didn't want to find himself not wanting to go home to Giles, not wanting -- not needing -- Giles to hold him.

"Then you won't." But he could hear the words Giles didn't say: 'Not until you're ready.'

But that was the part that scared him. To think that he would, someday, be ready. In the same way that someday Giles wouldn't have to tell him it was time to be grown-up, someday he would no longer consider Giles home. He didn't want to be grown-up, if it meant not needing Giles this way.

"Xander?"

"Yeah?" He was only partially interested in knowing what Giles wanted. He didn't want to talk about it being OK because when he was grown up he wouldn't *mind*. He minded *now*, and didn't want to think about it coming true.

Giles hugged him tighter and didn't say anything more for a bit. "Home can be more than a place. It can be people as well. That kind of home I don't think we ever stop needing."

"Do you still--" He bit his tongue as he realised that what he was about to ask was probably not a good idea, given that Giles lived so many thousands of miles away from his parents. He asked anyway. "Still need hugs from your mom?"

"Why do you think I call her every week?"

"Because if you don't, she calls you," Xander pointed out. But he knew what Giles meant. The revelation made him feel a little better -- even if he didn't want to be reduced to getting his hugs over the phone from a continent and ocean away.

"Just like I'll call you if you forget to call," Giles said easily.

"I don't think I'll forget." That wasn't to say Spike would always leave him alone long enough to call -- but then, he *had* been calling Giles every day since he'd moved. Spike's patience must be wearing a little thin.

"When you get caught up with your studies and social life, you might."

Was that insecurity he heard in Giles' voice?

"I don't think I could ever forget something like this," Xander replied, tugging on Giles' arm.

"No?" Giles asked softly.

"No." Xander smiled again, and closed his eyes.

He heard Giles barely breathe, "Good."


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