Q & A

Xander: "How can I say this clearly? I don't like you.
At the end of the day, I pretty much think you're a vampire. "

Xander stood across the street looking at Angel's new HQ. OK, he's impressed. The place is huge, it must've cost a fortune, and maybe there is the answer to the mystery of why Cordelia Chase is playing Batgirl to the Dark Knight. He finds that easier to believe than dealing with the idea that his ex, the amazing uberbitch had changed. In his experience people don't change, not really. And when they do, not necessarily a good thing. See: Willow, Faith, Riley...

*Riley, sitting there in the shadows, as a vampire bends over his outstretched arm.*

Only a few windows lighted in the darkness of the Italianate edifice. He checks his watch…2 a.m. Kinda late for Wesley or Cordelia, which was of the good. He's here to see Angel, and the last thing he needs is witnesses.

He crosses the deserted street, and strolls up to the elaborate entrance. The door is open, and a lamp at the desk casts a faint haze of light in the massive lobby, but there's no-one in sight.

"Hey, anyone here?" he yells. No answer.

From outside it looked like the lighted windows were all on the 3rd floor. He takes the elevator, wishing it was a little noisier. Last thing he wants is to have Angel think he's trying to sneak up on him. Cuz, personally, he likes living.

3rd floor, big, broody vampires. When the elevator doors slide open he sees light spilling out of a room into the dark hallway. When Xander peers through the open door he sees Angel sitting at the desk, staring intently at something before him. Whatever it is has his full attention. He lifts his mug to his mouth, sips and swallows, eyes never leaving the desk top. He looks up as Xander steps into the room. Angel licks his lips. Doesn't say anything, and there's something a little glazed, an emptiness in his eyes that makes Xander want to go away and come back some other time...say 5 or 10 years. Say 10 steps backwards to get out of the room, 30 to the elevator...

"Xander?" Angel says finally, his eyes coming into focus.

"Hi," Xander says. He's standing in front of the desk now, and he can see what Angel was so wrapped up in. It's a 8 x 10 of a blond woman, a cop, very crisp in her uniform; it's lying on top of an open file, he can read a newspaper headline "Kate Locksley Youngest Woman to Make Detective."

"She's pretty," he says, making conversation. "Friend of yours?"

"Sometimes," Angel says, closing the file and dropping it into a drawer. Right. From the way he'd been staring at her picture, Xander figures we're talking "orgasm friend", only this is Angel, and that's not supposed to be part of Deadboy's deal. At least it wasn't last he heard. Probably another change Xander didn't get the memo on.

"Kinda late, Xander, what are you doing here?"

The million-dollar question. What was he doing here? Why had he snuck out of Sunnydale and driven for two hours in the middle of the night to see someone he still doesn't exactly like...even if he'd saved his life more than once.

"It's Riley," he says, and stops.

"We've met," Angel says, more than usually deadpan. Wild guess, they didn't exactly strike it off.

"He's been kinda…off lately. Pulling all these risky stunts, when we're out on patrol, that is, when he bothers to show up… Buffy hasn't noticed, cause of all the stuff with her mom…" Angel nods, so Xander guesses Willow is still keeping Cordelia up to date. "Well uh, I saw him going into this warehouse and I thought maybe he was going to get himself into trouble, so I followed him and, uh looked through a window..." It's like talking to a cat, or a wall, no sign of interest in his pale face.

"He was sitting in there, letting this skanky vampire chick suck on his arm. Letting her feed on him. And after awhile he stopped her, gave her some money, and left." No reaction for what feels like a really long time, then.

"Have you told Buffy?"

"Uh, no. She's got a lot to deal with right now, and if I tell Giles he'd try and do something. And Buffy would find out; Giles isn't real good with covert."

"So, why are you here? You want me to talk to Riley?" Angel asks with a papercut smile.

"Uh, No. I just…" Angel waits.

"I just wanted to know.. I wanted to ask you... I thought getting bit *hurt*." Remembering the tears in Willow's eyes after Harmony's attack. "So why the hell would he pay for it? Is it some kind of a S & M thing?"

More silence. Gosh, it must have been fun for Buffy dating laconic-boy, Xander thinks, squirming under Angel's gaze. Wondering if he's ever going get an answer. Angel lifts his mug, but it must be empty, puts it back down.

"Mostly, yeah. If the vampire's just feeding, trying to drain as quick as possible, it's gonna hurt. But it can feel good, really good," Angel says.


"If you like, I can show you."

"What?" Xander backs away. Thinking: whoops, Angelus, and where'd he hide the bodies? But no, he's still sitting there, can't quite manage harmless, but not making any threatening moves. Just waiting. Dark eyes never leaving Xander's.

"Xander, you could have phoned. You didn't need to come here so I could *tell* you what you want to know."

It's fucking embarrassing being busted like that. Having all his lame rationalizations about how he couldn't trust either Giles or Spike to tell him the truth. About how he wanted to see Angel, look into his eyes when he asked him, so he could be sure... Should have known better than to try that bullshit on someone whose been around for a couple of centuries.

"But...you're a guy."

"Are we talking about sex Xander?"

"No! And Hell No!" Takes a step back.

"Long as we're clear." Xander's eyes wander from Angel's face, and notices his hands, huge and pale, flexing on the tabletop. "Only way you're going to really know. But it's up to you." And just sits there, done talking, with that expression that says he's got all the time in the world.

Which should be his cue to turn around, and walk out of there with what remains of his dignity. But the look on Riley's face, as he sat there has been haunting him ever since he saw it. Serenely ecstatic, like the Buddha getting a blowjob. And he just has to know what feels that good; nothing in his whole damn life has ever felt as good as Riley looked.

Mr. Self-destructive. His dad's right, there is something really wrong with him. After all, his life is going pretty good: he's out of the basement, he has a job he actually likes, and there's a beautiful woman in love with him who gives him all the mind-blowing orgasms he can stand. But there's a hollow at his center that nothing seems to fill.

And he knows he's being stupid, no scratch that, he's way past stupid when he steps back toward the desk, and nods.

"O.K., show me."

Angel gets up from the chair. "Take off your shirt," he says.

"What? Oh." Having 2nd and 3rd and 4th thoughts about the whole thing even as he turns his back to obey. When he turns around, Angel is on his side of the desk. Hand out. He takes the shirt, and hangs it neatly over the back of a chair. It's cold in the room, Xander shivers. Can feel Angel's eyes on him, noticing.

"Sorry, still haven't been able to get the heat working. Cordelia has a space heater under her desk. I can go get it."

"No. It's O.K."

Angel shakes his head. "Don't want you catching cold." Steps away into the deeper shadows of what must be his bedroom, and a moment later, tosses Xander a robe. Heavy black silk, way too big across the shoulders, but it cuts some of the chill.

"Sit down." Offering his chair to him. Nice big leather chair. Xander sits down gingerly, jumps when Angel comes up behind him and touches him. Cool fingers brushing softly along his neck. "Here?"

"No!" Thinking of Anya, Buffy, and conversations he really doesn't want to have, ever.

"Yeah, too public," Angel agrees.

"Cephalic? Radial?" Angel murmurs, carefully manicured fingernails tracing the veins in his arms, then down to his thigh. "Femoral?"

"Hey!" Angel removes his hand. Xander suspects a chuckle.

"The arm then, the elbow's best." Taking his arm in a firm grip and turning it upwards, rubbing the crook with a large thumb. Looming over him, and maybe he should have just asked Riley to hook him up.

Angel drops to his knees, presses closely against Xander's leg. The casual strength with which he takes hold of Xander's arm and stretches it out on the table nearly setting off his barely suppressed panic. Angel lowers his head and Xander shivers at the sensation of soft lips, Angel's lips, cool and smooth on his skin. He lifts his head, looks at Xander, giving him one last chance to back out. Xander nods. Takes a deep breath as Angel lowers his head again. Feels something shift and harden against his skin and then...

It hurts. Pressure and pain as the fangs slice through his skin, and it hurts more when he starts to suck. Burning sensation as his blood is pulled out and it fucking hurts, and keeps hurting. He tries to free himself, but it's too late for that, Angel's face is welded to his arm. Tries to say something but the words don't come, because, oh...

The pain recedes, overwhelmed by the feeling of being enveloped, of being taken in and possessed by Angel's teeth, his mouth. Everything fading away, all the frustrations, the old wounds, scoured and sucked away, all of it flowing into Angel. Feels way better than any of the drugs he tried back in jr. high, before becoming a Scoobie gave him something like a purpose. He hears the gulps and swallowing, and part of him recoils, but it feels too good for him to really care. The bones grind together under Angel's hands as he kneads his arm, trying to keep up the flow and Xander wills his heart to push it faster into Angel's mouth, wants to give it all to him, not caring what happens when it's all gone, only wanting this to go on forever... happily letting himself be pulled down into the black hole of Angel's bottomless need. Letting go.

He's a little surprised to wake up at all. He opens his eyes to find himself lying on his back, looking up at the ceiling. He feels faint. There's the smell of...eggs?

"You're awake." Xander turned his head to see Angel, holding a tray. "Made you some food."

Angel with a half smile on his face and Xander much prefers original stone-faced Angel. Xander turns away, and sits up, and follows the enticing smell of food to the table where Angel has set down eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice. Eats it all. Figuring he needs it. He's surprised to find it's actually pretty good. He looks down at his arm. There's a big bandaid covering the wound, so it wasn't as bad as it felt...at the beginning. He shivers at the thought of how good it had felt to be swallowed whole...

"Now you know," Angel says.

Xander nods, still not looking at him.

"Are you going to tell her?"

"No." Glances over at Angel. Who smiles and nods. Satisfied.

"Come on, I'll show you where you can sleep."

Xander got up, and followed him into the darkness of the hotel.


Companion piece: Motive and Opportunity


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