'A routine patrol, just a routine patrol.' the words spoken just hours before, echoed through Xander's mind. He couldn't even remember who had said them this time, for all he knew he had been the one to say them. They all had at one time or another, to the point that they had become commonplace for them to joke about it.
They joked about it, because there shouldn't be anything normal about having to patrol the town each night, but it was. It had become routine and normal for them, for those who lived on the Hellmouth and didn't hide from it. That said there was nothing routine or normal about this patrol.
Glancing at where Buffy sat, her head resting on the wall behind her, her injured arm cradled against her body to avoid jarring it farther. He again thought about it and how there had been nothing routine about how badly they had gotten beat this time.
Trying without much success to swallow the lump in his throat, he turned back to the window that he was watching out of. Watching not only for the demons who had attacked them, but also for the others of their group. Just thinking about them made him wonder and worry about them all the more, they were out there alone, or at the very least they were without power or strength.
The attack had been so fierce, too many of them, from all sides, they had been losing ground, when one of them had somehow managed to slip past Buffy's defenses. He, she, it, whatever it had been, had gotten close enough to her to grab her arm. Just remembering the snapping noise it had made, put Xander on the verge of being sick to his stomach. It was then they had made the decision to split up, to try and divide their attackers numbers, hopefully weakening them, but it hadn't worked, it had just put the Scooby Gang on the run, and put him in this abandoned place alone with an injured friend.
"I'll be okay."
Her quiet voice startled him from his watch, from his thoughts. Turning to look at her, he smiled slightly, "I know you will be Buf, you're Wonder Woman."
She smiled in kind, not quite a smile, but not a grimace either, "I won't go that far. Maybe Diana Prince, but not Wonder Woman."
Moving across the room he carefully sat down next to her. With a sigh she lay her head on his shoulder, taking comfort in his strength for once. Pulling her to him he smiled, "And just when did you become an expert on comic books, Buf?"
Turning her head a bit, so that she could see his face, she smiled at him a bit sheepishly, "I used to watch the show, always wanted a superhero costume like hers, the way she would spin around ... and I sound like such a geek."
"Hello? King of the geeks here, and you are so not one of us. You watched the TV show, not the same as reading the comics, trust me on that one. I mean I loved it too, the show that is, but for different reasons I'm sure." She laughed at that, and it made him smile, he loved to watch her laugh, it lit up her whole. But his smile quickly faded as he watched her face contort in pain.
Moving across the room he carefully sat down next to her. With a sigh she lay her head on his shoulder, taking comfort in his strength for once. Slowly he slid them down so he could hold her better. Wrapping his arms around her, Xander pulled Buffy to him. He could feel her shaking, an effect of the cold or the beating she had suffered, he wasn't sure, but he knew that he had never seen her like this before. She was helpless, to a degree, in need of him for once. It wasn't a place that they were in often, if ever, in their relationship, but the longer he held her, the more he liked it.
'This is the way it should have always been.' a voice whispered from a secret place in his heart. It was the voice of his never dying love for her. Pushing the voice back into that place, he tried to think of other things, tried to think of their friendship and how she only saw him as a friend, which was all it had ever been on her part. But as she settled herself closer against him and let out a sigh of contentment, it became harder and harder to suppress his true feelings, the feelings he would always have for her.
But he had to be honest with himself, the feelings he had for her had never gone away. He had just buried them deep inside of himself. She had been everything to him, he would close his eyes and all he would see, would be her. It was why he had hated Angel and Spike so much, because they had what he had always longed for, dreamed of.
He closed his eyes, and saw her there. She looked at him, in his mind, the way he always dreamed she would, as if he was really there, as if he meant as much to her as she did to him.
He was jolted out of it by the sound of her voice. He opened his eyes, looked down at her and stammered out, "W ... what did you say?"
Looking up at him, she winked as she jokingly repeated what she had said, "Different reason for watching it I bet. Always about the sex with you isn't it?" as the words left her mouth; she was a little surprised to see a look of hurt briefly flit across his face.
Then with a sudden grin he started to poke fun at himself, "Yeah that's me, walking hormone guy, always about the sex. Why else would I have been with someone like Anya?"
"I'm sorry Xander." Buffy told him as she sat up, pulling herself away from him a bit, a frown on her face.
Shrugging it off, he reassured her "Hey why be sorry? You were just saying what everyone thinks. Don't even sweat it Buf."
"I will and I am sweating it Xander. I never meant for that comment to hurt you."
"I know you didn't Buffy, I know that." he admitted to her has her took her hand in his. "It's just sometimes I feel as that is all I am to you, a walking hormone, a punch line to a dirty joke." dropping her hand, he pushed himself up from the floor. With a glance at her full of pain, he paced back over to window, standing in the shadows; he stared out of it into the night.
Standing she walked over to him, the confusion she was feeling plain on her face and in her voice, "What's wrong?"
Without turning to look at her, he replied, "I can't do this anymore."
"Do what? I don't understand.
"I can't be this close to you and not have you see me."
Placing her hand on his arm she whispered, "I do see you, every day I see you." A toneless sound came from his mouth, if she tried really hard Buffy could almost call it a laugh, "Yeah you see me everyday Buf, as a friend, good old Xander, always around, your faithful friend."
Laying her hand on his cheek, she turned his face from the window, forcing him to look at her. "Yes a friend, but so much more than that ... " he pulled away from her again, cutting her off.
"Please don't do this Buf, okay?" he begged of her. She could hear the anguish in his voice and so she slowly nodded. Turning away from him she made her way back to the dark corner that they had been sitting in before.
Gradually easing herself back down, she softly asked, "Can you at least sit with me?" Watching him, she was surprised to catch herself hoping that he would say yes, whilst a small part of her hoped that he would say no.
After a few seconds, that seemed like minutes, hours even, he finally nodded yes.
Watching him nod his head like that, she released a breath that she hadn't realized that she was even holding. As he made his way towards her, she forced herself to look at him, to look at him with new eyes, to try and really see him, not as her best friend, but as the man who had saved her life that night, who was keeping her safe.
As she did, she realized that he was right, she didn't see him, and she hadn't for years. She had taken it for granted that he would always be there for her, because he always had been there for her.
Looking at him, she could still see the boy he had been, but now she also saw the man he had become.
'Where had the years gone?' she wondered as he lay down next to her. Unable to keep her eyes off of him she watched as he reached for her, and wrapped his arms around her drawing her close to him. As she felt his heart beating against hers, her eyes finally slid close as a feeling of safety engulfed her.
She was safe in his arms; the feeling of it surprised her. She didn't know that she could feel safe, and yet she did. At that moment it dawned on her, that the feeling was because of who she was with, that she felt safe with Xander, and she always had.
Eyes closed, but in a way finally open, she saw him the way she should have always seen him. 'Why did I never see it before?' she asked herself, the whole time knowing the reasons why, rather who.
It had because of Angel, the one man in her life that had been everything forbidden to her, the one man who was like a drug to her, the perfect boyfriend for a rebelling sixteen year old. And even if he hadn't been in the picture there had always been Willow. If she was going to be honest about her feelings, she had to admit, she had always been attracted to Xander. That is till she realized the depth of Willow's love for him. So she had done the selfless thing and had buried her own feelings about him, and settled for his friendship.
And it had been settling, because there was something about him that drew her to him, and it all went back to the fact he made her feel safe. Not just physically, but emotionally as well.
She had never had that before, not with Angel, not with Riley and most definitely not with Spike. All her life love equaled danger which when divided by sex, equaled heartbreak. It was just the way it was, the way it had always been.
But not with Xander, for one thing there had never been the danger or the sex. Well there had always been the danger, from the moment they had met there had been danger, but never sex. But there had always been love, never anything more then that.
At first it was because of Willow, and then Angel, but that had all pasted. Yet there still was never a time for them, not only were now even more people involved, but there was also the fact that they had fallen into a pattern, a rut as it were, where they were always there for each other through all the bad and the good as well, but as nothing more then friends.
But now lying in his arms, all hope seemingly lost, she finally saw him for what he really was, underneath it all. Under it all, the friendship, the jokes, the everything, under all that was the man who loved her, whom she could love in return.
And underneath it all, she already did, under it all he was the man she loved.
Shifting her body away from his, she turned in his arms to face him, reaching out she slowly ran her fingertips across his cheek.
His eyes opened and he looked into hers, the look he saw there, confused and excited him at the same time. It was a look of pain, but also love. "Buffy?" he whispered in a puzzled voice, "What's the matter?"
"Nothing, I just can't believe..." her voice hitched as she tried to stop herself from crying.
Not understanding what she was trying to say or why she was almost crying, he pulled her back into his arms and rubbed her back tenderly as he tried to comfort her, "Shh, shh, it will be okay. We've been in worse spots then this and we've always come out of it alright."
Her voice was muffled against his chest, but still the words she spoke were clear enough.
"I love you, Xander."
His hand stilled on her back as his mind tried to wrap itself around what she had just said. They had told each other they loved one another many times over the years, but it had always been in jest or just as friends, but this time it felt different.
Pulling away from her, he placed his hand under her chin and tilted it up so that he could see her face. "Do you mind repeating that, but only if you mean it, the way I think you do."
A gentle smile lit her face as she whispered it again, "I love you, Xander."
"Buff..." she placed a finger on his lips, stopping him from saying whatever he was going to say. "I mean it Xander, I think I always have. It just got wrapped up and lost in our friendship, which we will always have, but under it all, there is love."
Moving her finger off his lips, she slid her hand back around to the back of his head. Cupping it in her hand, she pulled him down to her. Their lips met, briefly, softly, barely touching. It was a gentle kiss, sweet, innocent in a way, a kiss that quickly deepened and became more passionate as she pressed her body against his.
Suddenly he broke their kiss, "Buffy, I have to tell you..."
"I know Xander, I know. I've always known, I just didn't see you, but I do now." she told him as she again pulled him back to her. Their mouths met again, even more passionate then before. Buffy could hardly catch her breath, but breathing was the last thing on her mind at the moment. She wanted to feel him, taste him, be a part of him.
Dimly she was aware of him fumbling with her blouse, then suddenly it was gone, and cool air washed over her hot skin. Her bra went the same way of her shirt, and she felt him rasp his palm lightly over her nipple. A feeling of pleasure shot through her body and she dug her nails into his back. Moving her hands to his chest, she clawed at the buttons of his shirt. She breathed a sigh into his mouth as his bare flesh pressed against hers.
Quickly he undid the button and zipper of her jeans, and slowly slid his hand into the opening, curling his hand, he pressed it against her mound, his fingers caressing her already dampened panties. As she arched against his hand in response, he broke their kiss.
Looking down at her he whispered, "Tell me this is too fast, tell me to stop."
Looking into his eyes, she pressed herself against his hand again as she whispered, "Never."
Feeling her move against him like that, he swallowed hard to suppress a groan. He tugged on her jeans and panties, pulling them down her legs. Once they were off, she pulled him back into her arms. Curving her leg around his hip she delighted in the sensation of rough denim against her skin, but it wasn't enough, she wanted him, bare against her. Reaching down between them, she went to work on his belt buckle.
His hand reached for hers and forced it still. He wrenched himself away from her again and slowly got to his feet. Sitting up she watched as he stripped off his clothes. Just enough light seeped through the broken windows to reveal the hard contours of his body, and she felt small, as he loomed, almost larger then life, over her.
Her breath caught as he stood there still, a moment in time that seemed to last forever, before he moved back into her arms. Excitement that had been gradually dimming suddenly flared to back into flames as she felt him pressed against her.
Softly he run his fingers down her body, like butterfly kisses against her skin. His mouth left hers, and followed the path of his fingers down her body. She felt his hands, his mouth, everywhere; the gentle passion in his touch nearly undid her. Then she felt his mouth on her, leisurely parting her with his tongue. All it took was a light flick from it against her sensitive clit and she nearly screamed.
She hadn't expected this, not from him. It was almost too much for her distraught senses. She sank her fingers into his hair as she arched against his mouth, her lower body clenched tight. "Xander" his name came out a harsh whisper, as she felt the coil of desire wind tight inside her.
He drew himself up her body, she felt him sink into her. Moving in her, his flesh in hers, stoking the fire, making it burn brighter, hotter then before. The coil wound tighter and tighter, dancing on the line the separated pleasure from pain. Her nails dug into his back as she moved with him, against him. She didn't think she could stand it anymore, it was too much. She felt it tighten one last time, and then suddenly her climax ripped through her. It wasn't the sweet release she had known with Riley, or even the brutal force she had known with Spike. It was something else completely; it was as if it was all things rolled into one. A sweet, brutal, gentle, pounding release that stole her breath. She could not cry out as the sensations washed over her, again and again. She tried to ride the wave of pleasure that rolled through her, but it rode her instead.
Xander withdrew slightly, the friction of the movement teasing both of them, and then suddenly he thrust back into her. Every muscle in his back went tight beneath her hands as his own climax stormed through him. His mouth covered hers barely in time to catch his hoarse cry. Little by little, he came back to himself, feeling her soft skin pressed against his, her hand idling tracing a random pattern on his back. Pressing his lips to hers, he whispered, "I love you" against them as he gently lifted himself off of her.
Rolling to one side, he gathered her in his arms and then reached for his discarded jacket to cover her with. Feeling her relax next to him, he whispered, "I'm so sorry."
She snuggled closer to him "For what?" she wondered as she lay her head on his chest.
"For this, not for this, because it was wonderful, but for it being here, in this place."
Sitting up she looked down at him, "Don't be, it doesn't matter the where, it matters the why. And the why is because we finally saw what was underneath it all. We finally saw the love."
He smiled up at her and pulled her back into his arms, where she belonged.