Sweet Memories
by Kayla

Disclaimer: Mine? Nope. :)

With a sigh of relief, Xander tossed the last of his things into his beat-up car. Slamming the door shut, he walked back into his home of almost 20 years. Making his way into the living room, he stopped in front of his mother, who was currently absorbed in her soaps as she finished off yet another bottle of gin.

"Well, Mom, I'm outta here." He waited, getting only a grunt in response. "Yeah, um, it was...nice." Stuffing his hand into a pocket, he pulled out a sealed envelope, placing it on the table next to the drunken woman. "Mom? Anya is supposed to be by later tonight, give this to her, please?"

Glazed eyes turned to him, then looked at the envelope blankly.

"You know, Anya? Short, blonde, good looking? Just...give her that, ok?"

A wobbly nod was his answer.

Shrugging, Xander left the house, feeling lighthearted. Finally, free at last!

Not long after sunset, Spike slammed out of the Watcher's place, muttering under his breath.

"Bloody stupid git, what's the idea givin' the whelp my entire supply? Just 'cause his little fuck buddy is visitin' is no call to be treatin' me like this!" He kicked violently at a can as he strode briskly down the deserted sidewalk. Damn! Hate havin' to depend on these humans for my dinner. S'not bloody fair!

Not too much later, he arrived at the Harris residence. He stared at the front door. About to knock, he was slightly startled as it was flung open and a bedraggled head poked out. Bloodshot eyes looked him up and down, lingering on his hair. Then a grimy hand appeared and shoved something against his chest. The head withdrew, and the door slammed shut.

Spike blinked. What the hell was that...thing? He shuddered. Looking down at the crumpled item in his hand, he turned it over. Blank. With a shrug, he ripped the envelope open, and a key dropped into his palm. He pulled out the enclosed note, reading it.

Hey, babe! Finally made it out of the basement!
Why don't you bring your gorgeous blonde self
over to my new place? We can...celebrate. Here's
the key, just come on in.
342 North Briary Way, Apt. #313
Love and kisses

Spike snickered. Boy must have meant this for the demon chit. Aw, too bad. But, looks like I got myself an official invite! He headed for the boy's new apartment, fangs tingling a bit with hunger. Hope he's still got my blood!

Xander grimaced as he tossed a stack of bloodbags into the back of his refrigerator. Geez, why do I always end up having to feed the pet vamp? He sighed, then turned to the rest of his things. Basic groceries were quickly unpacked and stored in the small kitchen.

Next, the bathroom stuff was put away, and Xander smiled as he laid out two toothbrushes next to the sink. On to the bedroom, where he unpacked his assortment of baggy shirts and pants, putting them away. Boxers in once drawer of the dresser, socks in another, shoes lined up on the floor. And of course, condoms and the assorted lubes that Anya prefefrred were neatly deposited in the bedside table. In the corner, he left a stack of boxes containing junk that he wanted to keep. Those could wait for later.

Out in the living room, he set up his TV and VCR, then unpacked his stereo. Plugging it in, he flicked it on, tuning in to a station playing soft music. Finally, he collapsed on the sofa, staring around his apartment. My apartment. Wow, cool!

He had been shocked when he'd checked the place out. Due to low rent charged, he'd figured the place would pretty much be a dump. But it was...nice. Not huge, but way better than the basement. And for not too much more. Even better, he'd managed to save enough to be able to afford the place for a couple of months before he really had to worry about income.

Good thing, too, considering I just got fired...again! But no way was I staying in that basement any more! He smiled as he looked around his new place.

The bathroom wasn't too big, but it had a bathtub and shower. Small kitchen area, which wasn't really a problem considering he wasn't much of a cook. The living room was mid-sized - just large enough for a couch, an easy chair, a coffee table, and the entertainment center for his TV and such. And damn, he was proud of that entertainment center! Who knew Goodwill had such nice stuff?

And so what if the place wasn't exactly located in the greatest part of town? Not like it can be much worse that living with my oh-so-loving parents! Sure, some of his neighbors looked a bit...iffy. But hey, live and let live, right?

A knock on his door made him look up. Visitors? Anya would have just come in, and none of the other Scoobies knew of his change of address yet. Curious, he went to the door, unlocking it and cracking it open. "Yes?"

A beaming, middle-aged woman stared at him, eyes glowing with humor. "Alexander Harris?"

"Um, yeah. Who are you?"

"Oh! I'm Mellie, I live three doors down, in number 307. Noticed you moving in today, thought I'd bring you some pie. Sort of a welcoming present." She kept on grinning.

Shrugging, Xander opened his door wider, accepting the pie that was thrust toward him. "Thanks. Oooh, apple! I love apple." He sniffed it appreciatively, mouth already starting to drool.

"Well, it's nice to have you here. We don't often get humans who want to live with us, you must be a very interesting person."

"Yeah, well I - woah, wait a sec! Um, what exactly do you mean by 'us'?" Damn, I knew this was too good to be true!

"Oh, well you know. Us. Hmm, let's see." She looked thoughtful as she began to tick of the residents on her fingers. "There's a couple of Marqel demons, some V'lorns, the occasional vampire, we even had a werewolf stay here for a while." She smiled in rembrance. "He was such a sweet boy. Dyed his hair the oddest colors, though."

Xander stood there openmouthed as Mellie continued to list the various non-human residents of his apartment building. When she paused for a breath, he managed to get a word in. "So, you know, just out of curiosity, what exactly are you?"

"Me? Oh, I'm just your regular run-of-the-mill half-breed. My dad was human, and my mom was Kcsterk."


Mellie chuckled brightly. "No, Kcsterk." Her features blurred, turning light blue. Soft, feathery tendrils replaced her hair, and her eyes became slit-pupiled, changing to a luminous violet color. Then she shifted back, once more looking completely human.

Shit! Shitshitshit! Someone fucking tell me I am not living in an apartment surrounded by demons! He blinked furiously, trying to reign in his shock.

Now-normal eyes peered at him in concern. "Are you ok? You look a little...pale." A tiny frown graced Mellie's face. "Oh, no one told you about any of this, did they? You thought we were all..." She trailed off, sadness flooding her features. "Oh dear, you're not...scared of us, are you? We demons need homes, too. And everyone here gets along so well, you don't have anything to worry about. No one's going to pick on you because you're human."

Xander stared into that earnest face, unable to see anything fear-inspiring in it. "Um, no! I mean, you seem really great. It's just...I've kind of had some bad experiences with people of the non-human variety. You know, all wanting to kill me, rip my heart out, tear me to shreds. That sort of thing."

Mellie sniffed. "Bullies. You always run into that type, wherever you go. No need to judge the rest of us by those standards." She had a faintly superior look on her face.

"Yeah, right, I'll be sure not to do that."

"Well, good! Anyway, suppose I'll be off. You probably have plans what with the whole first night here and all."

Xander grinned sheepishly. "Um, kinda." He flushed slightly.

Giggling, Mellie grinned knowingly. "Let me guess...short, brunette, and gorgeous!"

"Blonde, actually, but yeah."

"Well, I'll just toddle on off, then. You have fun now, hear?" Winking, she turned and made the short trip back to her own apartment.

Shaking his head in bemusement, Xander went back into his own apartment, carrying the pie into the kitchen and placing it in the fridge. Sweet lady. Kind of strange, but seems nice.

He stretched, yawning. He wrinkled his nose in distaste as he caught a whiff of himself. Ew. Probably should do something about that if I want some Anya lovin' tonight. Whistling softly, he headed for the bathroom.

Anya knocked on the front door, waiting impatiently. She frowned when no one answered. Moving to the side, she peered in a window. "Hello? Person waiting out here. You're supposed to answer the door when I knock."

Frustrated at the lack of response, she went around to the back of the house, knocking at the basement door this time. "Xander? It's your girlfriend. I'm coming in now." She opened the door and went inside.

"You told me you had a surprise for me. What's the surprise?" At the bottom of the steps, she stared around the room in amazement. Gone! Everything was gone! Well, not everything, but all of Xander's things were conspicuously missing.

"Xander? Is this a game? I'm not finding it very fun. Can we stop playing now?" Still she received no answer. She searched the room, trying to find some clue as to what had happened.

Nothing. Not even a note. Tears welled up in her eyes. Oh my god...I've been dumped! That could be the only explanation as to why her boyfriend had vanished without a trace. He'd ditched her and moved on to greener pastures. And he didn't even have the balls to tell me to my face! Ooooh! Men...pigs! She stomped back up the stairs, wiping furiously at her eyes.

Well, I don't care. I don't! Who needs him anyway? I can find somebody else to give me orgasms. I wonder if Giles is doing anything...?

Spike stood outside Xander's apartment building, staring in mild disbelief. Wonder if the whelp knows what kind of place he's roomin' in? He snickered softly. Bet he'll just love gettin' to know his neighbors!

He went inside, making his way down the short hallway. The elevator was out of service, so he walked up the two flights of stairs. 313, 313, where the bloody hell is 313? A door opened and a short woman came out into the hall. Eyes on a book, she didn't notice Spike and crashed into him.

"Oh, dear! I'm so sorry!" She bent to pick up the book that had dropped, brushing herself off as she straightened. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, fine. Hey, where's 313?"

"Three doors down, on your right, sweetie."

"Thanks, luv." Spike made his way to the door indicated, fishing out the key he'd confiscated and letting himself in.

Mellie watched with a small grin on her face. Well, well. Looks like young Alexander doesn't have quite the problem with non-humans as he makes out! And he was right...blonde and gorgeous!

Xander stepped out of the shower, wrapping a towel around his hips. Dripping, he left the bathroom, heading back to his bedroom. "Hey, Spike."

He stopped abruptly, whirling to face the smirking vampire. "Spike! What the hell are you doing here? And how'd you get in?"

"Came for my blood, didn't I? Wasn't gonna starve. And you invited me."

"What? I did not! I think I would remember inviting a vampire into my new apartment. Especially you."

"Did too. Got proof. You gonna keep drippin' on the floor like that? Might ruin the rug."

"I...you...what?" Xander blinked in confusion.

"The floor, pet. Of course, if you really enjoy standin' in front of me half-naked, feel free to continue." Trust me pet, I don't mind. You're not half bad on the eyes.

Xander looked down at his scantily clad form, then back up at Spike with a glare. "You wait here. Don't move." He turned and strode into his bedroom, slamming the door shut behind him.

Spike shrugged and began to walk around the apartment, exploring. Walking into the bathroom, he rolled his eyes at the neatly arranged things. Aw, ain't that cute. Matching toothbrushes. Gag me. He looked into the steam-covered mirror, noting the lack of even a blurred reflection.

With a snort, he reached out and began to write on the normally reflexive surface. Stepping back, he admired his handiwork. 'William the Bloody was here' was now proudly scrolled over the mirror.

Oh, yeah, real threatenin' there, mate. Scoffing at himself , he headed for the kitchen. Pulling the refrigerator open, he smiled when he spotted a stack of bloodbags. Pulling one out, he emptied it into a glass he'd pulled from a cupboard. A brief stint in the microwave, and he had a nice warm meal. Well, as nice as pig's blood can get, anyway.

Back in the living room, he sat on the sofa, propping his feet up on the coffee table as he drained his glass. Looking around, he spotted the remote control and used it to turn on the television. He was flipping through the stations when Xander emerged from the bedroom.

Xander glared at Spike. "I thought I told you to stay put!" He gestured meaningfully toward the mostly empty bloodstained glass on the coffee table.

"What? I was supposed to starve while I waited for you? Not bloody likely, mate." He leaned back, arms behind his head. "You know, this place ain't half bad. Could use a few bodies, maybe some cobwebs or something, but otherwise, not bad at all."

"Gee, thanks. I was hoping for your approval. I would hate for my apartment not to meet your exacting standards." He stomped his way across the room, looming over the seated vampire. "Now, how the hell did you manage to get in here? Without an invitation?"

Smirking, Spike pulled a folded piece of paper from one of his pockets. "See, handwritten by you, inviting me over."

Xander snatched the note. "Hey! Where'd you get this? This was for Anya!" Oh shit, Anya didn't get the note. I am so screwed!

"This really horrid looking bint shoved it at me when I showed up over at your place - old place I guess I should say." Spike shuddered in remembrance. "Really seemed to like my hair, though."

Oh, god. Can my life get any worse? My mom thinks I'm dating him? "Spike," he started calmly. "She was supposed to give this to Anya. Not you. Absolutely not you. So, since we've cleared that up, why don't you go away now, while I try to find Anya and fix this."

Spike refused to budge. "Could've fooled me. Here," he pointed at the note, "says 'gorgeous blonde self' - me obviously - and here says 'come on in'. Ergo, you invited me, and I'm stayin'," he finished smugly.

Xander gritted his teeth. "You-" he stopped as he remembered something. "Spike, give it to me."


"The key."

"What key?"

"The key that was in the envelope with this note!" He thrust a hand out. "Give it."

Spike sighed, then tossed a key at him. "You're no bloody fun at all, mate. Don't see what the fuss is about."

"The fuss, as you so lightly put it, is that I just moved here and haven't exactly told anyone yet. It was going to be a surprise. Anya was supposed to get the note so she'd be the first to find out. You messed that up, and by now she's probably been to the basement, found that I've left without a trace, and jumped to some very incorrect conclusions. How's that for a fuss?" By the end of this, Xander was fairly yelling in frustration.

"Psshh. Whatever." Spike shrugged.

"Argh!" He tugged at his hair. Taking a deep breath, he went back into his room, grabbing his jacket, wallet and keys. Pulling the jacket on, he slipped the wallet into the back pocket of his pants, and the note and key he'd reclaimed from Spike inside one of the jacket pockets. Then he went back out to the living room, where he yanked Spike off the sofa, ignoring his protests. "Let's go, bleach-boy."

"I wasn't done with my dinner!"

Xander picked up the glass, stomping into the kitchen and emptying the remains into the sink. After rinsing out the glass, he turned around. "There. You're finished."

Spike pouted. "That was very rude."

Xander gaped at him. "You have got to be kidding! You...you break into my apartment, make yourself at home, and, let's not forget, completely ruin my chances of getting lucky anytime in the near future, and you're talking about rude?" He struggled to remain in control, grabbing one of the vampire's arms and dragging him out of the apartment. "Not. One. More. Word!"

Spike snickered.

Xander stared at his car in dismay. Ok, one flat I can deal with, but three? I'm cursed. That settles it, I'm totally cursed.

"Looks like you need new ride, pet."

"I am not your pet. And my car runs fine, thank you. It may look like crap, but the engine is good."

"Yeah, well, obviously the tires weren't."

"Oh...shut up." With a weary sigh, Xander turned and walked across the street.

Spike caught up with him. "Where you off to?"

"Hello? Must find Anya, grovel. Car broke, must walk. Simple enough?"

Spike fell in beside him. "I'll just keep you company, then."

"Oh, goody. The thrills."

The two fell silent, briskly walking down the sidewalk. Casting a sidelong glance at his reluctant travelling companion, Spike silently and unobtrusively slipped a hand into Xander's jacket pocket, easily removing both the note and the key, once more storing them on his person. He assumed a nonchalant look as Xander glanced over at him.

"You're up to something. What are you up to?"

"What makes you say that?"

"Because you're trying to look innocent. It's not something you pull off well, and it kind of gives you away." He narrowed his eyes at Spike, staring searchingly.

"I'm not up to anythin', mate. You're too paranoid."

"Yeah. Sure." He was about to continue when he saw Spikes eyes widen, appearing to be drawn toward something behind him. "There's something behind me, isn't there?"

Spike nodded mutely.

"Big? Nasty looking? Slimy, perhaps." More vigorous nodding. "Right. Well, why don't I take a look-see." He turned, yelling as he jumped back and clutched at Spike, who didn't even bother to shake him off. "Spike? What the hell is that!"

"Well, judging from the glowing red eyes, four arms, numerous slimy tentacles growing from various parts of its body, and really bad temper, I'd have to say it's a Grun-thak demon." As he spoke, Spike backed slowly away.

"Uh-huh. Not nice guys, I'm assuming." He joined in the vampire's retreat, trying not to spook the monster that was glaring at them.

"No. Not really."

"Great. So...what do we do?"

"I dunno 'bout you, pet, but me?" Spike turned and began running.

"Right. Good plan." Very quickly, Xander caught up with the vampire. They pounded down the street, aware of the heavily breathing monster following them. Making a quick turn, they found themselves in a short alley facing a large brick wall. "Ok, so what now?"

"Truth?" He thought briefly, then shrugged. "We die probably. Don't worry, it only hurts the first time." Sighing, Spike turned to face their attacker.

"Yeah, easy for you to say. You've already done it once!" He yelped as the demon drew closer, snarling and muttering harshly.

"Um, better watch it, mate. They got some serious mojo, don't let him point at you."

"Great. Thanks." He dove to the side as the demon lifted a scaly hand in his direction. "Spike! Do something!"

"What exactly is it you'd like me to do? Ask it nicely to go play somewhere else?" He jumped away as a burly arm lashed out at him.

"You're the vampire! Hurt it! Make it dead!" Xander punched and kicked ineffectually as a grasping tentacle wound its way around his torso, pulling him closer to a snarling face full of extremely pointy teeth. "Ack, bad demon! Didn't your mother teach you to brush?" He gagged at the stench that washed over him as a blast of warm breath hit.

"Well you're the Slayer's pet. Didn't she show you anythin' useful?" He punched a tentacle that had latched onto his leg. "Hey, while you're up close and personal like, go for its eyes!"

"Thanks," Xander grunted as his ribcage was squeezed tightly, "for the advice." He gasped for breath, then lashed out, managing to poke through one of the demon's eyeballs. He grimaced as he felt it pop around his finger, pulling back quickly. He was dropped, landing painfully on his butt, covering his ears at the high-pitch shriek that echoed in the alley.

"Hey, good job, mate!" Spike barely moved out of the way of the two arms that tried to catch hold of him. Listening to the creature's pain-filled hissing, he looked around for a weapon. "Hate to tell you, pet, but I think you made it mad."

"Oh goody. You mean it wasn't before?" He sighed, then launched himself back at the furious Grun-thak. Clinging to its back, he managed to get an arm around the demon's neck, attempting to strangle it.

"Um, this may not be the best time to mention it," Spike shouted as he dodged the writhing tentacles, "but Grun-thaki don't," he grabbed a tentacle, wrenching the demon forward, "breath through," grabbing a rusty bar from nearby, he punctured the appendage, "their mouths!"

Xander was tossed from the creature's back as it screeched in pain. He grunted when he came into contact with an unyielding wall. "Great. Thanks for telling me earlier!" A discarded piece of broken plywood became his next weapon of choice as he bashed a reaching arm. "Hey, watch where you point that thing, mister!"

Spike pulled the bar back, and quickly moved out of the way of the bright ichor that gushed from the wound. "Ooh, nasty that. You should get it seen to."

"So how," whack, "exactly," whack, whack, "do they breathe?" Whack, thunk, thud. Xander picked himself up off the ground, shaking his head to clear it before once more going after the many tentacles undulating around him. "And while you're at it, how do you kill this fucker!" His pitch of his voice was raised in desperation.

"Gill type things. In their sides. And puncture its heart, only way to kill one."

"Great," Xander muttered, making his way closer to the demon's body. Yelling loudly, he threw himself at it, shoving the piece of wood through its chest.

The Grun-thak snarled, reaching down and grabbing Xander by the neck, flinging him away. It pulled the makeshift stake out of its body, tossing it aside.

"Didn't work! New plan!" He scrabbled back from a hand, doing his best to avoid it.

"Bloody hell," Spike sighed. "Its heart, moron, not its liver!"

"What? I did!" He grabbed onto a few tentacles of his own, trying to keep them from moving too much. He blanched as he heard the sibilant murmuring start up again.

Spike dropped his bar, snatching two tentacles and quickly tying them together. Picking up the bar again, he jumped at the demon. "Actually," he brought the bar down hard on an arm, the snap clearly audible, "you didn't. Its heart," a quick movement, and another arm was decommissioned, "is about...here!"

The Grun-thak continued muttering quickly as it struggled to free itself. It had almost finished when Spike shoved the iron bar through it's stomach. The demon's eyes bulged out, and it made a grating, rattling sound, then toppled, unmoving. As the corpse lay there, a wave of iridescent fog burst forth from it, enveloping its victorious foes.

When blue tendrils wrapped themselves around his ankles, Xander yelped. "Spike! What's happening?" He tried to brush them off, but they clung tenaciously.

"Dunno. I bet the mojo got buggered when we killed it!."

"No, you think!" He tried to back out of the alley, but his feet were held in place. "Spike, get this stuff off me! Ow!"

"Hey, I got enough problems to take care of!" Spike cursed as the same foggy tentacles clutched at him. He could feel something jolting his skin wherever it touched, like little pinpricks of energy.

Xander looked up, having just enough time to see a large plume surround Spike's head. Then, as he gasped in a breath, the mist invaded him, sending sparks of electricity shooting through his veins. Pain struck him, and the last thing he heard before darkness hit was Spike's howl of agony reverberating through the alley.

Then, all was quiet save for the soft hissing as the Grun-thak slowly melted, bright orange ichor puddling around its corpse. Both men lay still as the sparkling mist slowly receded.

The brunette stirred, shaking his head. "Oh, man, what hit me?" Grunting, he pushed himself into an upright position. His hand slipped in something, and he lifted it up, peering through the dim light. "Eew." Grimacing, he wiped his hand on a clean patch of concrete.

At a moan, he looked around, seeing another figure sitting up. Making his way gingerly over to the blonde, he grasped a shoulder. "Hey, you all right?"

"Gah. My head feels like someone shoved a spike through it, and I've got the most vile taste in my mouth." Blue eyes blinked up into brown, and equal looks of confusion appeared on both faces. They both looked around the alley, noticing the rapidly spreading puddle of orange goo. They looked back at each other again.

Simultaneously, both men asked, "Who are you?"

They stared blankly at each other, frowning. They opened their mouths at the same time, about to speak. Then the brunette held up a hand. "Me first."

The blonde nodded.

"Ok, who are you?"

The other man blinked a few times, a confused expression washing over him. "I...I dunno. I...can't remember."

"Oh, boy. That doesn't sound good. All right then, I'm-" he paused, thinking. "My name is..." He scratched his head. "Shit. What the hell is my name?"

The two stared at each other again. Finally, the brunette straightened, holding out a hand to the blonde. "Come on."

"Where we goin', mate?"

"Beats me. But anyplace has to be better than here." He cast a glance at a twitching green tentacle, which chose that moment to fizzle away into another orange mess. "And I so don't want to know what that was."

The blonde shuddered. "That's something I wouldn't mind forgetting, myself."

"Tell me about it." Glancing up and down the street, the two quickly made their way to a nearby bench. Seating themselves, they commenced staring once more.

"Um, no offence, but this is getting sort of weird. I mean, are we just gonna stare at each other all night?"

The blonde shrugged. "You got anything better to do?"

"Well, we should probably try to figure out who the hell we are."

"Ah. Any suggestions?"

The brunette shrugged, thinking. Then he brightened. "Empty your pockets."

"I - what? Why?"

"Well, we must be carrying some sort of identification, right?"

"Sure. Unless we got mugged."

"Just...do it."

They each went through their clothes, pulling everything out of their pockets and laying them on the bench between them. With a crow of success, the brunette held up a wallet. "Jackpot!" He opened it, flipping through until he found a driver's license. "Alexander Lavelle Harris." He looked up, dismayed. "Lavelle? God, my parents must've hated me!"

"So, you got a name. What about me? I didn't find a wallet or nothin' like that." He plucked through his things, pouting slightly.

"Well, what do you have?"

"Um, some smokes, a lighter, a bit of quid, a key, and this note." He held up the slip of paper.

"Does it say anything?"

"Hold up." He unfolded the paper, then read it. "Got an address - 342 North Briary Way, Apt. #313. No signature, no name." He looked up. "Not much help."

The other man looked at the note. "I wouldn't say that. I mean, someone there obviously knows you, your girlfriend by the looks of things. She can help you figure everything out. You should head over."

"What about you?"

"Well, there's an address on my driver's license. I'll go there, see what I can find."

They sat for a few more minutes, replacing their things. Then the blonde looked up. "Hey, Alexander."

The other man wrinkled his nose. "I don't like that - doesn't sound right."

"It's your name, innit?"

"Yeah. I dunno, maybe I go by something else...Alex most likely." He thought about that, turning it over in his mind. Then he nodded. "Yeah, that sounds better."

"Well, Alex then. We still have a problem. I mean, we got these addresses, but...where the hell are we now and how do we get to them?"

"Oh." He looked up and down the street. "We need to find a gas station or something. Someplace where we can buy a map. We can figure it out from there."

"Sounds good to me."

The two men traced lightly over the map of Sunnydale that was unfolded between them as they sat on the curb under a streetlight.

Alex pointed. "Ok, we're here. And about here," he pointed to a spot on the other side of town, "is the address on my license."

"Right. And the other address is 'round here." The blonde pointed to a spot about a half-mile from their current position. "Looks like I'm closer."

"Yeah." Alex sighed, looking discouraged.

"Hey, look. Why don't you come with me, and we'll see if you can crash there for the night. I don't fancy the thought of someone walking so far this time of night. 'Specially with nasties like that thing back there lurking about."

"You sure? I don't want to be any trouble."

"Well, yeah. I mean, we must be chums or something. We did wake up in that alley together."

"Right, with that hideous gunk everywhere."

"You know, I hate to break it to you, but your clothes have seen better days." He looked at his own attire. "So 'ave mine, for that matter."

"All right then, let's go. Maybe we can shower or something when we get to your girlfriend's."

"Right, then."

The two men stood in the hall outside apartment #313, staring nervously at the door.

Alex glanced sideways at his companion. "Well? You've got the key, open it already."

"Maybe we should knock first." The blonde licked his lips, trying not to fidget.

"Oh, for-" Alex reached over and plucked the bit of metal from the other's hand, inserting it in the lock. A faint 'click' sounded, and he turned the doorknob, pushing the door open. He gave a half-grin to the blonde. "After you."

Swallowing hard, he stepped inside the dark apartment, fumbling along the wall for a light switch. He flicked it on, and the room brightened.

Alex scooted in behind him, closing the door firmly. He looked around. "Not bad. Anyone home?"

"Don't think so. I don't hear anyone." He prowled through the few rooms, confirming the absence of anyone else. "Looks like it's just us."

"Huh. That's strange." He noticed the answering machine that was placed on a small table flashing. Walking over to the other man, Alex gave him a nudge. "There's a message on the machine. Maybe it's for you."

The blonde chewed on his lip. After a moment's hesitation, he walked over and pressed the 'play' button.

"Alexander! It's Mellie down in 307. I noticed you going out earlier and thought I'd just leave a message so I didn't disturb...anything when you get back." There was a muffled giggle at this point. "Anyway, I wanted to let you know about Friday night. All the residents here like to have a kind of welcoming party for the new people, make them feel at home. That, or we just like an excuse to party! So, you're the guest of honor. We were planning on this Friday, about 9:00 in the evening. Is that good? Stop by and let me know." A brief pause, then in a hushed voice, "Oh, and I ran into your blonde. You're right, he is gorgeous!" Another giggle, then the message ended.

Both men were wide-eyed, gaping at each other.

Alex fiddled with his shirt. "Ok, I'm wigging here."

"Yeah, well, I think that bird made it bloody obvious that this is your apartment." He sounded a bit put out.

"You figure? So why did you have a key?"

"And why did that bird call me your blonde?" came the rejoinder.

More staring ensued, then they both raced for the bedroom. The room gave little indication of anything out of the ordinary. No obvious signs of any...prior interludes.

Alex tilted his head. "You don't think that we're...?" He trailed off, leaving the rest open for interpretation.

"Dunno. I don't feel...you know."

"I think maybe she got the wrong idea."



"That doesn't explain this." He pulled out the by now rather crumpled note. "See?" He thought for a moment. "Hold up." A quick trip back to where the phone was, then some rummaging around in the drawers. Brandishing the pen and notepad he found there, he walked back over to Alex. Thrusting the utensils at him, he said, "Here. Write something."

Bemused, Alex complied. Then they compared handwriting.

Alex heaved a sigh. "Ok, so I wrote the note. And gave it to you, apparently, although it would have been helpful if I'd put your name on it. And I'm...flirting. Or making veiled suggestions, at any rate."

"So, I mean, we probably are..."

Alex swallowed, but forced the word out. "Gay."

The blonde nodded wisely. "Bent."



They were both grinning a bit at this point.



Alex opened his mouth, paused, then chuckled weakly. "Sorry, all out here."

Grinning, the blonde went on, ticking them off on his fingers. "Arse bandits, pansies, sausage jockeys, shirtlifters, pillow biters, bum boys, -"

"All right! We've established that you have a much more extensive vocabulary than I do. Geez." He ran a hand through his hair. "You did leave one thing out though."

"What's that?"

"Together. Us. From all indications, anyway."

"Oh. That."

An uncomfortable silence descended as the two looked at everything except each other.

Finally Alex cleared his throat loudly. "Ok, if I live here, then I say we just put this on hold, clean up, then get some sleep. Maybe things will look better in the morning."

"Sounds good to me. You gonna shower first?"

Wrinkling his nose, Alex shook his head. "No offense, but you look worse off than I do."

The blonde shrugged, then made his way over to the bathroom. Before the door closed, Alex called after him, "I guess just put on something of mine when you're done, since most likely none of your stuff is here." The response was muffled, but affirmative.

Picking at his shirt again, Alex poked through the kitchen, looking for something to eat. Opening the fridge, he shoved some food aside. A deep ruby-colored object caught his eye, and he pulled out the package.

Oh, dear god, tell me this isn't... He stared in distaste at the packet of what appeared to be blood. Do I even wanna know?

Stunned, he let it drop onto the counter, sinking onto a stool and contemplating the possible meanings behind its presence.

A crash from the bathroom drew his attention, and he stood. Tapping on the door, he called, "You ok in there?" Not hearing anything, he cracked it open. "Hey? What's going on?"

"I think you better get in here, mate."

Worried at how upset the man sounded, he stepped into the small room. "Hey, what's wrong?"

Mutely, the towel-clad man pointed a finger at the fogged-up mirror.

Alex looked. He could barely make out the words scrawled on the surface. "William the Bloody? What's up with that?"

"S'not the point. Look."

Alex peered closely, then shook his head. "What? I don't see anything."

"Exactly. See, I got out of the shower, saw that little message, and went for a closer look. Watch." He swiped a hand over the mirror, rubbing a clear spot. He left his hand next to the glass. "See? No reflection."

Alex felt his jaw drop as he realized that the only person reflected was himself. His mind began to make a few subconscious connections. "No reflection. No reflection?"

"Don't look like. Something is really strange here, Alex."

"Geez, you're telling me, William."

"Who? William?"

"Duh." Alex indicated the smudged remains of the message on the mirror. "I'm not William, and as far as we know, you're the only other one who's been here."

"Huh. It's just...William. It sounds kind of poncey. Sort of familiar, but not like...me."

"Maybe you have a nickname. Like Willie."

"Um, somehow I think not."


A brief pause, then a decisive, "Wil."

"That's what I said."

"Now, you said 'Will', clearly with two 'l's. I said Wil. One 'l'."

Alex rolled his eyes. "Fine. Wil, then."

The newly dubbed Wil nodded, then turned back to the mirror. "I'm still not liking this part. You think the mirror's broken?"

"I...don't think mirrors actually break down like that. And besides, you think that's weird? Come here." He led the way over to the kitchen, pointing out the red baggie on the counter.

"What's that?"

"Best guess? I'd say it's blood. Don't know whose, though."

"Blood." Wil frowned, studying the object. "Alex? Why do you have a bag of blood on your counter?"

Alex snorted and wrenched the refrigerator open, displaying the stack of similar bags lined up on a shelf. "Do you have any idea the major case of wiggins I got when I saw this?"

Wil carefully set the bag back down, going over to stand by Alex. "Maybe...maybe it's not really blood. I mean, maybe it's that fake stuff, or something."

"Why do I doubt that?"

Wil was about to reply when something tickled at his nose. Sniffing the air, he slowly rotated.

"Wil? What is it?"

"I dunno. There's something..." He cocked his head, then bent down over the trash bin. Reaching inside, he fished out a crumpled plastic baggie.

A baggie that still contained a few drops of drying, scarlet fluid.

Catching sight of it, Alex grimaced. "Ok, major ick factor here."

Wil said nothing, just sniffed the baggie. Something began to gnaw inside the pit of his belly, and he turned to Alex, holding the nearly empty packet out.

Alex gasped, eyed growing huge.

"Mate? You don't look so good."

Something clicked into place, and Alex edged back slightly. "I...may have figured something out. About the mirror, and the...blood."

"Well, spill."

Breath quickening and heart pounding, Alex gulped. "I...I think you're a vampire."

Giles wrung his hands as Anya sobbed brokenly on the sofa in front of him. The ex-demon had dropped by unexpectedly a few hours before and done her best to kiss and grope him. She'd then proceeded to fall apart when he'd fended off her advances and demanded an explanation for her behavior. Unsure of how to cope with it, he hurried to make a phone call to Willow, hoping she and Tara could come over and sort this out.

He squinted anxiously at the clock, then turned his attention back to the sofa. Hesitantly, he patted Anya's shoulder. "There, there." Another quick peek at the clock. What the bloody hell is the holdup! He heaved a sigh of relief when his door flew opened, admitting the witches.

Willow and Tara gaped at the distraught woman. The redhead turned to Giles. "What's wrong? Did something happen?"

Giles shrugged helplessly. "I haven't the foggiest. She just showed up and started this. I've been unable to get anything coherent out of her."

Tara sat down beside Anya, tugging her sideways and wrapping her arms around her. She rocked gently, murmuring words of comfort.

After a few minutes of continued weeping, Anya calmed a bit, raising her head and sniffling loudly. Willow held out a wad of tissues, which she accepted gratefully, dabbing at her blotchy face.

Sitting next to Anya, Willow stroked her arm softly. "You wanna talk about it?"

Anya sniffled some more, then blew her nose. Her hands dropped into her lap as she looked down. Her breath hitching, she began to speak in a scratchy voice. "I-I...Xander d-d-dumped me!" Her lower lip began to tremble as she shredded the tissues clutched in her hands.

Willows eyes widened. "But...why? I mean, he really likes you!"

Silent tears began to flow once more. "I...I don't know. He...he told me to come over tonight, that he had a...surprise for me." She wiped a hand over her cheek. "And I got there, and no one was there. All his s-s-stuff was gone from the basement. And he didn't even leave a n-n-note!" Harsh sobs ensued.

Willow started to get even more worried. "Gone? Everything?" She looked over at Giles, who was doing his best to pretend there wasn't an ex-demon breaking down in the middle of his living room. "Giles? Do you have any idea what this is about? Have you spoken with Xander lately?"

"Well, I-I saw him yesterday, and he did seem inordinately happy. Said something about the 'freedom of a new life', but wouldn't give specifics." His brow furrowed. "You don't suppose he's...skipped out?"

"Who's skipped out?"

Everyone turned to the doorway, where Buffy stood with Riley. "Was there a meeting tonight I forgot about?" Buffy frowned thoughtfully. "No, that's not it. And why is Anya crying?" She tugged her boyfriend inside, kicking the door shut behind him.

Anya turned her tear-stained face toward the newcomers, then slouched down miserably.

Giles went over to her and whispered, "Domestic strife. It appears that Xander has...vacated his basement and left no indications of his whereabouts."

Buffy blinked. "Um, you mean he's gone, and you don't know where he is?"

"I believe that's what I said, yes."

She rolled her eyes. "Why don't you ask his parents, I'm sure they could tell you."

"Um, well actually Buffy, you see-"

Buffy waved her hand, cutting Willow off. "Oh, I'll do it." She went over to the phone, putting it on speaker and dialing the number for Xander's house. After about seven rings, the line was picked up.

"What?" a gruff, masculine voice rasped out.

"Hello? I'm looking for Xander. I'm a friend of his."

"So? Think I care?"

"Could I talk to him. Please." She bit the words out.

"He don't live here no more. And good riddance."

Hands on hips, Buffy glared at the phone. Through gritted teeth, she hissed, "Well, could you tell me how I can get ahold of him?"

"How the fuck should I know? I finally got that pansy boy out of my house, why would I care where he is now?" There was a derisive snort, then a click as he abruptly hung up.

Buffy snarled and turned the speaker off. She made her way over to the sofa, trying to look sympathetic. "Don't worry, Anya. We'll figure out what's going on, and get you and Xander back together."

"What the bleedin' hell do you mean, I'm a vampire!" Wil gaped at the brunette in blatant disbelief.

Alex kept inching away. "Well, you um, your eyes, they're kinda...all yellow. And your face...sort of bumpy. And...well, you...you've got...fangs." He reached into the drawer behind him, fumbling around and pulling out a wooden spoon. He stared at it a moment, then held it up threateningly.

The plastic bag fluttered to the floor as Wil reached a hand up to his face, running it hesitantly over the ridges on his brow, then lightly touching the tips of his fangs. "Holy Christ!" he yelped. Focusing on Alex, he finally noticed the other man's defensive posture. "What are you doing?"

"Um, defending myself?"

Wil stared at Alex's chosen weapon. "With a spoon?"

Alex shrugged. "It's wood, isn't it? Wood, vampires...bad combo."

"So what, you're gonna try to kill me?"

"Well, you are, you know, a vampire. Vampires are bad."

Wil's bottom lip trembled slightly. "You...you don't like me?"

Alex sighed, lowering the spoon a bit. "Ah, Wil. You seem like a great guy, but...hello? Vampire? Aren't you gonna try to, I dunno, suck my blood or something?"

Wil thought about that. "Can't say as I have any great desire to, no." He felt his face sort of...relax, and noticed Alex become a little less tense.

Once Wil's face had returned to looking human, Alex felt more comfortable. Then he narrowed his eyes. "You don't?"

"Um, not really."

Alex set the spoon down on the counter, then folded his arms over his chest. Head tilted to the side, he gave Wil a measuring glance. "Really?" A hand moved up to his neck, stroking the smooth skin. As his fingers danced along his jugular, he watched the other man. "You mean you have absolutely no desire to bite me? Drain me dry? Hold me down and make a meal out of me?"

As he watched Alex caress his neck, Wil's eyes dilated. He started panting lightly as he listened to those suggestive words pronounced in a husky voice. He shifted as his growing erection began to press uncomfortably at the rough towel covering it.

Alex felt a glimmer of triumph as he noticed the intense hunger that was directed at him. "Ha! See, I knew it!" He frowned as Wil shuffled, and his gaze drifted down. He caught his breath at the bulge evident beneath the towel. His face flushed a fiery red, and his eyes snapped back up to meet brilliant blue ones.

"Sorry," Wil whispered, turning away in shame.

Mentally smacking himself, Alex was quick to move to Wil's side. "No, it's...it's ok. Um, I just...I didn't mean to...jeez, I'm so sorry!" He chewed his lip, worried.

Wil lifted a shoulder in a casual-seeming shrug.

"Don't be mad, please? It was just a bit of a shock to see you like that, I think I got carried away." Tentatively, he laid a hand on Wil's bare shoulder, rubbing gently.

Wil relaxed, turning around and looking up at Alex. "I would never hurt you, Alex. Never."

Alex smiled. "No sucking on me?" His eyes widened at Wil's groan. "Um, I mean, eating m-er..." He ran a hand through his hair, flustered. "Are there any ways of saying this without sounding suggestive?"

"Feasting on your blood until there's nothing left of you but a withered, desiccated corpse?"

"Uhhh, yeeeah. That'll work. So...no desiccated-corpse-making?"

"Nah. Well, not of you, anyway." Wil grinned at Alex's pensive look. "Joking." He stepped back from the other man, trying to regain his composure. "'Sides, looks like I stay pretty well fed with whatever kind of blood you got stocked in there." He pointed at the fridge, grimacing a little at the thought of drinking blood.

"Oh yeah, right. Ok, then."

They stood staring at each other, both feeling vaguely uncomfortable. Finally, Wil cleared his throat. "Ah, I should probably, um, get...dressed." He saw Alex's eyes flicker down, and another blush spread over the man's cheeks.

"Um, yeah. Good idea. I'll just...go take a shower. In the bathroom. Yeah." He turned and rushed to the bathroom, nearly tripping in his haste.

Wil looked down at the floor, noticing the discarded bag. He picked it up and returned it to the trash can, then went into Alex's bedroom. Rummaging through the closet, he pulled out a white t-shirt and a pair of black silk boxers. Pulling them on, he went back into the living room, seating himself on the couch and leaning back, staring at the blank TV screen.

After about ten minutes, Alex came out of the bathroom, walking silently to the bedroom. When he reappeared, he too was clad in a t-shirt and boxers, although his were blue. He sat on the opposite end of the sofa, glancing over at Wil. "So, um, guess we should probably hit the sack now. Been a tough day...well, at least what I can remember."

"Yeah, good idea mate."

They sat there, unmoving.

"I...I guess I can sleep on the couch here. I just need a pillow, some blankets."

Alex frowned, examining the piece of furniture. "It's kind of small. It wouldn't be very comfortable."

Wil shrugged. "I'll manage."

Alex struggled with himself briefly, then stammered out, "You, uh, you could sleep with me." He flushed deeply. "I-I-I mean...shit, that didn't come out right." He groaned, covering his face with his hands. Voice muffled, he continued, "I meant, you could share the bed. It's a king, so it's plenty big." He winced, but lifted his head determinedly.

"Well I...I mean, if you don't mind. Yeah, sure."

Nodding, Alex stood, leading the way back to the bedroom. Once they were both inside, he shut the door, then frowned. He pulled open a dresser drawer, then shut it, repeating this process until he emerged with a heavy blanket. Going over to the window, he draped the blanket over the curtain rod, arranging it to cover the window completely.

Wil watched these strange antics. "What's that for?"

Alex tossed him a look that clearly stated his low opinion of the question. "You vampire? Sunlight bad. At least I think I remember that much. Unless you want to fry?"

"Oh. No, no frying. Um, thanks."

"Don't mention it." He picked up the pad of paper and the pen that had been left on the bed earlier. He tossed them to Wil. "Here, stick those in the bedside table there, would you?"

Wil grabbed the items, and pulled the indicated drawer open. Looking at the contents, he froze.

"Wil? What is it?" Alex went around to the other side of the bed, peering over Wil's shoulder. "Oh." He could feel his face heat up again as he stared at the jumbled assortment of lubes and condoms residing in the drawer. He swallowed hard, then reached out and briskly shut the drawer. "N-never mind." He plucked the pen and paper from the blonde's lax grip, dropping them on the top of the little table. Doing his best to act nonchalant, he threw back the covers and climbed into bed, scooting over to the far side. "Hit the light before you get in, would ya?"

Wil nodded, eyes still glued to the closed drawer.


His head twisted around, and he stared dumbly at the brunette who was snuggled down under the covers. "Huh?"

"Lights. Off. Makes the room dark, easier to sleep."

"Oh." Dazed, Wil walked over to the light switch, flipping it off. His eyes adjusted rapidly to the darkness, and he had no trouble getting back to the bed. Climbing in, he pulled the covers over him, turning on his side to face Alex. "Uh, night Alex."

"Night, Wil."

Alex yawned and rolled over in bed. He curled around the person beside him, throwing his arm over the cool, still chest.

His eyes flew open and he sat up, scrambling to turn on the lamp by the bed.

"Aaaahhh!" Oh god, dead person. Cold, non-breathing dead person in my bed!

Wil jerked as the yell pierced his sleep-muddled brain. "Huh?" He leaned up on an elbow, blinking fuzzily at the hyperventilating man sitting next to him, staring at him with disbelieving eyes. "Alex? What happened?"

Alex scooted to the far end of the bed. "Y-Y-You were...dead. All cold, and not breathing. Extremely corpsey." He squinted closely. "You're still not breathing!" he accused.

Wil looked down at himself, noticing for the first time that Alex was right about his lack of respiration. He thought about that, then shrugged. "Correct me if I'm wrong, mate, but don't vampires generally tend to be rather...non-living?"

Alex's jaw dropped as he gazed at the blonde. "Oh. Um, right. Sorry, forgot about that." His face reddened sheepishly. He cleared his throat nervously as he looked again at the blonde sprawled out in his bed, then tore his eyes away. "So...um, morning."

Wil tilted his head as a strange, spicy scent wafted past his nose. It made him...hungry. He shook his head to clear it, then shoved the covers away, climbing out of bed. "You know, now I think about it, it'd prob'ly be a good idea if we figured out what this whole 'vampire' thing includes. Things I should avoid, and whatnot."

Alex nodded briskly. "Good idea. We can find a library or something, get some books." He hurried to the bedroom door.

"Pet? Daylight? Me? Don't wanna burn, y'know."

Alex paused. "Well, you know, we don't really know if the whole sunlight deal is true. I just thought it would be better to play it safe last night."

"Forgive me if I'm a bit hesitant about testing these things, would you?"

"Nonsense." Alex waved a hand dismissively. "We can just do some tiny experiments, nothing major."

Wil grimaced. He rubbed at his stomach as it gurgled unpleasantly. "Can it at least wait until after breakfast?"

Alex grinned. "S'pose so." He headed for the kitchen, making sure to close the drapes on the windows and turn on the lights instead. "I'm cooking. Whattaya want?"

Wil followed. "Gee, lemme think about that," he deadpanned.

"Oh. Right." He shuddered as he opened the fridge, plucking out one of the bloodbags and holding it between thumb and forefinger as he offered it to the blonde.

Wil took the bag, then watched Alex rattle around the kitchen, pulling out pans and scrounging through the food in the fridge. Bacon was set to sizzle, and eggs were cracked into a bowl to be mixed together with some shredded cheese. The concoction was dumped into the frying pan after the bacon was done, and within minutes, Alex had a mound of steaming, fluffy scrambled eggs.

He stared mournfully at his bag of blood, sighing heavily. S'not bloody fair. Wil trudged across the kitchen, opening cupboards until he found a mug, then tore open the bag and poured the contents into it. He looked at the thick, dark liquid, then tentatively stuck a finger into it. Wrinkling his nose, he lapped at the coated finger. Bleh. Needs... He stuck the mug in the microwave, then waited for it to heat.

Alex poured himself a glass of orange juice and took his things to the table. He seated himself next to Wil, watching in amusement as the other man sipped from his mug. "Good?"

"Hnn," came the noncommittal reply.

"I'll bet. Now me, I'll stick with these delicious eggs and crispy bacon, rounded off by a cold glass of citrusy goodness." He reached for his fork, yelping as it was snatched away from him. "Hey!"

Wil used the fork to spear some of the eggs, easily evading Alex's hovering hands that he used in a vain attempt to protect his breakfast. He popped them into his mouth. "Mmm. These're good."

"Gimme my fork back, you egg-stealing...vampire guy!"

"Aw, don't be like that, pet." Wil grinned. "Didn't anyone ever teach you to share?" He leaned over for another forkful of eggs, pausing a moment before dunking them into his mug of blood.

"Eew!" Alex watched disgustedly as Wil slurped the dripping eggs into his mouth. "That is about the grossest thing I've ever seen!"

Wil swallowed his mouthful, licking his lips. "Don't knock it 'til you tried it." He snagged another bit of egg, letting the fork hover over his mug. "You should, you know."

"What, try that? Are you nuts!" He shook his head violently. "Huh-uh. No way."

"S'only fair, mate. Make you a deal. You want me participate in your little experiments, you gotta taste this." He dipped the fork, then held the blood-coated morsel out toward Alex.

Alex gulped as he stared in mild horror at the fork. "I-"

"Ah! Gotta try it."

Alex wavered, then looked into bright blue eyes that were sparkling with amusement and...challenge? He narrowed his own eyes, then leaned forward and scraped the food off of the fork. Sitting back, he hastily chewed, stomach quailing slightly at the heavy metallic tang.


Swallowing, Alex ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth. "Kind of salty. Actually, the taste seems sort of...familiar. Which is not a thing I want to examine right now."

Wil shrugged. "Makes sense if you think about it, though."

Alex arched an eyebrow before getting up to get himself another fork. Back at the table, he started shoveling his breakfast down. Mouth full, he mumbled, "Wha' y'mean?"

Fidgeting, Wil looked around the room, taking occasional sips from his mug. Then he sighed. "Well, you know. If we're...together. I mean, we probably snogged some, and I bet sometimes I'd just...eaten. So the taste wouldn't seem so strange."


The blonde drained his glass, moving away from the table to place it in the sink. "Yeah. You know? Swapped spit? Made out? Kissed?"

Alex nearly choked on his food and stopped chewing, blush rising to his cheeks once more. Coughing, he reached for his glass, chugging down about half of the drink. Then he wiped his mouth, obviously struggling for a casual attitude. "Um, yeah. That's...that's probably it." Not thinking about kissing him, not thinking about kissing him.

Wil sniffed the air delicately, once more detecting that tantalizing aroma. God, what is that? He shook his head, ignoring the shuddery feeling in his belly. A loud clatter caught his attention, and he turned to see Alex dumping his dishes into the sink. "Experiment time now, I s'pose?"

Wiping his hands on the cloth by the sink, Alex nodded. "Yeah. From what I can vaguely remember - in a fuzzy, amnesiac sort of way - vampires can be hurt by sunlight, garlic, crosses, holy water, and wood. We should probably test the sunlight thing first. No use keeping this place in the dark if we don't have to."

Wil blinked. "You...you mean you want me to stay here?"

"Um, duh? Where else are you gonna go? It's not like you know where you live, and apparently, you're my...significant other, so I'm not gonna toss you out. Of course you're staying here!"

The blonde smiled timidly. "Ok." He went to stand by the curtain in the living room, making sure to stay well away from the sliver of sunlight peeking through. "Well, let's do this then."

"Right." Alex stood next to him, watching as Wil extended a hand until the beam of light hit it. It immediately began to sizzle and smoke, and Wil pulled back with a sharp yelp.

"Ow! Bugger it all!" Wil pouted as he examined his slightly blistered hand, and used his uninjured hand to whap Alex upside his head.

"Ouch! Hey, what'd you do that for?" Alex rubbed his head, glaring at the blonde, who returned his look unwaveringly.

"It bloody well hurt, you git! And this was your idea."

"Well, would you have rather figured it out when you walked out for a breath of fresh air this afternoon?" He softened as he noticed how Wil was cradling his hand to his chest. "Is...Is it really that bad? Lemme see it." He took Wil's hand, turning it over and brushing his fingers across the pale skin.

Wil's eyes widened as he sucked in a breath, shivering at the whispery touches of warm flesh gliding over his. "I-I'm ok."

"You sure?" Alex reluctantly released the abnormally cool hand. He stepped back a pace, reaching up comb his fingers through his hair.

"Yeah. No problem. Just...let's not do that bit again, ok?"

"Right. No more sunlight. Sunlight bad."

"Look, not to ruin your fun or anything, but can we skip the rest, too?"

Alex snickered. "What, I can't try staking you?"

Wil's eyes dilated, unconsciously drifting down to the other man's crotch before he pulled them away.

Alex winced, biting his lip. "Fuck. I did it again, didn't I? Sorry. I...I don't mean to keep saying stuff like that, it just sort of pops out." He closed his eyes, groaning. Gritting his teeth, he forced himself to continue. "Look, forget I said any of that, all right? And we'll forgo any more potentially painful tests and just assume that all that stuff will hurt you."

"Sounds good."

They stood awkwardly, neither one sure what to do next.

Then Wil rolled his eyes. "Oh, sod this. You wanna watch the telly?"

Relieved, Alex agreed. "Sure. But I get the remote."

Wil snatched it before Alex had a chance to, flipping on the TV and surfing through the stations.

"Hey! I called it first! And it's my apartment!"

"Yeah, well I'm the guest, so I get visitor's privileges." He clutched the remote to his chest, sticking his tongue out at the human.

"Ha! You're not a guest, you're my boyfriend, so hand it over!"

They both realized what he'd said, and stopped arguing, staring deep into each other's eyes.

"We can share," Wil offered softly.

Alex grinned shyly. "Ok."

Wil and Alex sat next to each other on the sofa as they watched cartoons, legs barely touching and hands occasionally brushing up against each other. They'd had a little chat - full of blushes and stammering - and decided that, no matter how close they'd been 'Before', they should probably take things slow now. It was obvious that there was an attraction between them, but neither wanted to rush into something unprepared. So they were...dating. While living together, sleeping together, and not having sex together...at least not yet.

Sex. There was another big blank for them both. Here they were, healthy adult males, and as far as they could remember, they were both virgins. Which, granted, wasn't really likely. But for all practical purposes...

So there they sat, almost-but-not-quite holding hands. Occasionally peeking at each other before turning back to the television. This went on for about an hour as they watched their program, carrying on trivial conversations during the commercials. Which wasn't exactly as easy as it sounded considering the state of their memories, but they managed.

At the end of the show, they both reached for the remote control, and their hands collided. Wil stared at the warm hand resting on his own, and lifted his head to look into Alex's dark eyes. His own widened at the veiled heat he found there, and he unconsciously licked his lips.

Alex drew in a quavering breath as he saw the pink tongue emerge to moisten full lips. He swallowed hard, then leaned marginally closer to the other man. Just a kiss. That's slow. It's not like we're going to do anything else.

Wil gasped softly as their faces inched closer together. He could feel warm puffs of breath caressing his cheeks, and that spicy, tantalizing scent was in the air again. His lips parted slightly.

A loud knocking on the door startled them, and they scrambled off the couch, jumping apart. They stood there, staring ruefully at one another, listening to the knocking continue.

Alex forced out a chuckle, wiping his palms on the front of his boxers. "I'll...I'll go get that."

As he went to the door, Wil watched closely, admiring the muscular curves of his back and how his boxer seemed to perfectly frame the round globes of his- Bloody stop that! Groaning, he flopped back down on the sofa, pulling a small pillow into his lap and curling up around it.

Alex opened the door, taken aback by the cheerful, bubbly woman there. "Yeah?"

"Alexander! Good, I didn't wake you. I was hoping I could talk to you about the party Friday night. You did get my message, didn't you?" She slipped past Alex into the apartment, not seeming to notice his attire, and looked around curiously. Her eyes lit on the blonde huddled on the sofa. "Oh, your boyfriend is still here. I didn't...interrupt anything, did I?"

"Um, no, we were just, you know, watching some TV."

"Good. That would have been so horribly embarrassing." She bustled over to the sofa, extending a hand. "Hi, I'm Mellie, I live just down the hall from Alexander. We bumped into each other last night."

Wil took her hand, giving her a bashful smile. "I'm Wil."

"That's 'Wil', not 'Will'. Only one 'l'," Alex added with a roll of his eyes.

Mellie gave him a strange look. "Well, of course it is. I heard the distinction clearly." She beamed at Wil again. "My, you are a handsome one, aren't you? Alexander certainly is a lucky young man." She made herself comfortable next to the vampire, leaving Alex to take the chair nearby. "You are coming to the party with Alexander on Friday, aren't you?"

Wil shrugged. "I-I dunno. I guess, if Alex wants me to."

"Geez, what kind of idiotic this is that to say? Of course I want you with me! You're not leaving me alone with a bunch of strangers." He glanced at Mellie. "Um, no offense."

Mellie waved a hand. "Pish. None taken. Besides, you two make such a cute couple, it would be a shame to separate you even for one night." She slapped her hands, rubbing them together. "Now, you boys don't have to do anything, just show up. It'll be in the lounge room downstairs. We figured 9:00 would be a good time, since we have more than a few residents who prefer the night life, and Wil's not the only vampire who'll be coming. There's one living on the 5th floor, her name's Jenna and she's shy around strangers, but she does like a good party!" She narrowed her eyes. "Between us, I think she had a bad experience with the Slayer, and it really got to her."

Alex and Wil gaped at the woman. Shock clear on his face, Wil sputtered out, "V-v-vampire? I-I don't understand. How did you...?"

"Slayer?" Alex broke in. "What's a Slayer?"

Mellie blinked. "You don't know about the Slayer?"

Both men shook their heads.

"Oh dear." She frowned, then settled back into the sofa. "Didn't your Sire tell you?"

"My...Sire?" Wil looked at her in confusion.

"The...the vampire who turned you." She looked incredulous at the continued lack of comprehension on Wil's face. "Oh, my. This isn't good. Are you...are you a fledgling? I mean, if you're new, it's understandable, but..."

"I...I don't..." Wil slouched down, miserable.

Alex heaved a sigh, moving so he sat on the arm of the couch, gently rubbing Wil's shoulder. He gazed earnestly at Mellie. "See, it's just...something happened last night." He smiled as Wil snuggled back against him, shifting so the vampire's head practically rested in his lap. "There was this...thing. And we woke up in an alley, and we...sorta...couldn't remember anything. So, see, we kinda don't actually know about Sires or Slayers or even vampires, really. I mean, we were able to figure some things out, stuff that was obvious, but the rest? Total blank."

Again Mellie blinked. Staring intently at them, she sensed that Alex was telling the truth. "Well. Dear me, that is a fix." She thought a moment, then asked, "What happened? What do you remember from yesterday?"

Wil glanced up, careful not to dislodge the had that had begun to stroke the back of his neck. "Slime. Lots of disgusting orange slime."

"Yeah, and these wiggling tentacle things that kind of melted. And it smelled bad."

Mellie closed her eyes as she tried to think of what it could have been. "Tentacles and orange slime. You know, it sounds rather like you met up with a Grun-thak demon."

"A what?" both asked simultaneously.

"A Grun-thak demon. Nasty creatures, they like to eat internal organs." She shuddered. "Plus, they're magic users. Usually very powerful. It's amazing that you came out of an encounter with one of those intact."

"Well, not quite." Alex tapped his head.

"Hmm. I've never actually heard of this happening. There must have been a pretty powerful spell involved, especially if the effects have lasted after the death of the one who cast it." Her expression grew regretful. "I'm sorry, I don't really know how I can help. Magic isn't my thing. You might just have to wait until it wears off."

"But..." Wil glanced up at Alex anxiously before continuing. "What if it doesn't? What if we never remember?"

"I don't know. I guess you'll have to adjust."

Alex leaned down and hugged Wil encouragingly. "Hey, we'll manage. We've done pretty good so far."

"But there's so much we don't know about! Like this whole vampire thing, and-" he broke off, shooting Mellie an accusing glare. "How did you know I was a vampire?"

"Well, dear, it's one of those things my kind is sensitive to." She chuckled at the blank looks on their faces. "Oh, right, you forgot about that. How do I put this?" She scooted closer, taking hold of one of Alex's hands between her own. "Alexander - or, Alex I guess you prefer - currently, you are the only human in residence in this building. Now, don't get upset. We're friendly; not like that demon who did this to you." She smiled gently. "I know it's a bit much to absorb, but I can introduce you to everyone tomorrow night at the party. I'm sure they'll love you."

"Um, right." Then Alex frowned again. "Ok, back up now. What was that you mentioned about a Slayer? Sound dangerous."

Mellie's nose wrinkled as she stood with a disgusted sniff. "The Slayer. Yes. Brief version, she's a human girl with special abilities who goes around killing vampires and other demons."

Wil gasped, bolting forward. "K-k-killing? Vampires?" He turned worried blue eyes on Alex, who slid down to pull him close.

"Oh, now don't you fret about it. We stick up for our own, she'll have to go through the lot of us to get to you." She patted Wil's cheek soothingly. "Now, I don't know much about vampire lore and all that, but I'm sure I can persuade Jenna to fill you in. In the meantime, it might be safer for the two of you to stay around the apartment complex. No telling what trouble you might run into and not remember how to handle."

All smiles once again, Mellie stood, leaning over to give both men a peck on the cheek. "Don't get all gloomy, now. Take it easy today and tomorrow, rest up for the party. Tomorrow night, 9:00. Just bring yourselves, we'll take care of everything else." She let herself out, looking back with a wink. "Have fun, boys!"

The door clicked shut, leaving Alex and Wil staring bemusedly. Then Wil cleared his throat. "I like her. She interestin', don't y'think?"

Alex laughed, nodding in agreement. "She's definitely unique. Very...motherly. In a wiggy sort of way."

"Hm." Wil settled back against Alex, who still had his arm draped loosely around the vampire's waist. He tilted his head up to look at the brunette. "Alex?"

"Yeah?" Alex turned his head, his nose brushing up against a soft cheek before he was captured by the startling blue gaze.

"Can I kiss you?"

"Do you think this is a good idea?" Willow nervously chewed her lip as she clutched Tara's hand with her own. "I mean, he's probably sleeping, or...something." She glanced over at Buffy, not particularly wanting to go into details about Xander's family.

The trio of girls stood outside the Harris residence, the late afternoon sun shining brightly down on them. Birds were singing merrily, and children could be heard laughing in the background. Such a light-hearted, happy scene. But it wasn't going to last.

Buffy narrowed her eyes grimly. "Well, then. I guess it's time for his wake-up call." With a toss of her head, she strode up the steps and rapped firmly on the door. Her entire posture screamed irritated impatience as she waited for a response.

Willow and Tara stood - they weren't hiding, definitely not hiding - behind Buffy, wincing as loud footsteps clomped their way ever closer. The door was flung open, and a scruffy, unshaven man stuck his head out, glaring at them through watery, bloodshot eyes.

"What!" the man snarled, his angry expression slowly replaced by a disgusting leer as he looked the girls up and down. "Well, well, what can I do for you?" He lounged against the doorframe, licking his lips as he continued to gaze hungrily at them.

Unconsciously, the witches took a step back, cringing away from those eyes that seemed to crawl along their skin.

Buffy just crossed her arms over her chest, jaw clenched as she glared back, not even fighting the low growl in her throat. Eyes narrowed, she sneered at the disheveled man. "We...talked last night. About Xander? Where is he?"

There was a soft snort as Mr. Harris rolled his eyes. "Oh, yeah. I remember you." He stared hard at her, smirking as he lingered over the curves of her hips and her bare legs. ""Mmm-mm! If I'da known you were so fine, maybe we coulda worked something out." He peered over her shoulder at the other two. "You ain't so bad either. Maybe we can all go inside, have us a nice little...discussion."

Buffy shuddered. "Um, eww? That has got to be the grossest thing I've ever heard. Look, we just want to know where Xander is, so just tell us, and we're out of here."

"Hmph. Your loss." He shrugged as he stepped back inside and began to close the door. "I don't know where the little shit is, and I don't really give a fuck. So go annoy someone else." The door slammed shut.

Buffy muttered under her breath as she led the other two away from the house. Shaking herself, she rubbed her hands over her arms. "Gah, I think I need a shower. That was a seriously creepy man."

Tara nodded in agreement, taking a deep breath as she continued to clutch at Willow's hand. "He w-was very...icky."

"Yeah. I never liked visiting Xander when he was home. He scared me." Willow held on tight to Tara, casting a last glance at the house her friend had lived in for so long. "I'm...kinda glad Xander finally moved out. I just wish we knew where he went!"

With a determined glint in her eyes, Buffy stated "We'll find him. Don't worry about that. I don't give up on my friends. Now...I need ice cream. That guy's attitude left a bad taste in my mouth. C'mon."

Alex swallowed hard as his breathing hitched, his eyes fixating on the other man's lips.

A faint hint of sadness flickered across Wil's face when he received no response. "Guess not, huh?" He tried to move away, startled when strong arms gripped him by the waist and pulled him back.

Alex held Wil close to him, not letting him escape. Tugging lightly, he moved the blonde around so he could get a better angle, then bent his head. He stared into clear blue eyes that widened as he drew closer. His lips hovered over Wil's, then his tongue slipped out and passed gently across them.

Wil gasped a wet warmth brushed over his mouth. His eyes drifted closed, and he moaned softly when he felt Alex's lips settle lightly on his. The gentle nibbling that began caused him to hiss in frustration, and he twined his hands around Alex's neck to guide him closer, attempting to deepen the contact.

Alex complied, increasing the pressure and sucking Wil's lower lip into his mouth. He laved it thoroughly, then proceeded to thrust his tongue into the blonde's mouth.

Opening himself eagerly, Wil brought his own tongue into play. The two mobile digits danced over each other, tasting, licking, probing every recess of their joined mouths. Wil wiggled around, turning and straddling Alex's lap, never losing contact with the burning pressure of his lips. His hands gripped the brunette's shoulders, fisting into the fabric covering them. A loud groan escaped him when he felt Alex's hands slide down to cover his ass, kneading firmly.

The sound broke through Alex's haze, and his eyes snapped open. With deep regret, he released the mounds of flesh that he'd just noticed were cupped in his hands. Cradling Wil's head instead, he pulled the vampire away, whimpering as lips clung to his briefly, and a tongue made a last, desperate attempt to engage his once more. Panting harshly, he managed to gasp out, "Wait, wait, slow! We said slow!"

"Fuck slow," Wil snarled, jerking his head out of its confines and darting back in for another searing kiss.

An all-too-brief kiss it turned out, as Alex twisted his own head away. "Wil, we decided-"

"To hell with what we decided!" Wil tried again, growling when Alex continued to elude his attempts to resume their previous activity.

"Do you really mean that?" came the soft query.

"Yes!" Wil pouted, then sighed, ceasing his efforts. He relaxed, pressing his forehead against Alex's. "No," he murmured, "but it feels so bloody good!"

"Yeah, tell me about it," Alex muttered ruefully.

They continued to cling to each other for a while, until Alex's breath eventually evened out. Finally, the brunette gave a weak laugh. Rubbing his hands down Wil's back, he said, "C'mon, why don't we watch some more tv? He nodded toward the show that had been playing unnoticed all the while.

Reluctantly, Wil loosened his grip on Alex's shirt, making as if to shift over to the other end of the couch.

"Hey! Who told you to go anywhere?" Smiling, Alex settled Wil back against his chest, arms draped lightly around his waist.

Wil grinned, managing to sneak in one last, soft kiss before turning to watch the television. "You know," he offered, relishing the feel of warm arms wrapped around him, "I'd say we pretty much established one thing today."

"Really? What's that?"

With a smirk, Wil shifted against the hardness digging into the small of his back. "You gotta admit, pet...we are definitely gay!"

"You sure 'bout this, luv?" Wil frowned worriedly as Alex pawed through his closet, discarding item after item in an untidy heap on the floor.

"Yeah, I've gotta do this." The response was muffled, only becoming clearer when Alex withdrew his head. As he continued to pick through his clothes, he went on. "I mean, I lived there. Probably for a while. Maybe even with my family. I have to find out what I can about then. And why the hell don't I have any decent clothes!" He tore at his hair, glaring at the gaudy pile of shirts and pants he'd flung out behind him.

Wil snickered quietly as he too examined the variety of dubious styles and colors displayed. "I get the feeling you didn't have a whole lot of fashion sense, mate."

Alex glared over at him, then smirked. "Yeah, well, since you don't have any clothes, guess what you're gonna end up wearing?" He held up a fluorescent orange shirt, waving it meaningfully.

Wil blinked, wincing, then swore softly. Grimacing, he shoved in next to Alex, digging around in what was beginning to seem a futile search for something decent to wear. Eventually, though, they both managed to find some plain-colored pants, and a couple of shirts that weren't quite so likely to blind anyone.

A few more minutes were spent back out in the living room, with Wil lounging on the couch and Alex nervously checking out the window. When it was dark enough, he stepped back, taking a deep breath and wiping suddenly damp hands on the front of his pants. "Sun's down now."

"Guess we should get going, then." Wil stood, map in hand, and walked over to Alex. "We don't have to do this, y'know."

Alex slipped an arm around Wil's waist, burying his face in the curve of the blonde's neck. "I know. But...I mean, I should at least try. Y-you don't have to come with me, though. If you don't want to."

Wil snorted, hugging Alex close. "Like I'm gonna let you go off by your lonesome. Who knows what kind of trouble you'd get into without me watchin' your back?" He stroked a hand through dark, silky hair, rumbling deep in his throat.

Smiling, Alex relaxed against the trim body. You're purring."

"Hm?" came the distracted response as Wil inhaled deeply, relishing the scent of the human in his arms.

Alex placed a hand on Wil's vibrating chest. "You're purring. I like it." He pressed closer in. "My big kitty cat."

Wil mock-glared at the top of Alex's head. "Kitty cat?" he asked with a curl of his lip.

"Mmm. Big kitty cat. Wild cat? A lion...or panther maybe." He kissed the soft, cool skin of Wil's neck, suppressing a chuckle as the purring got even louder. Then he heaved a sigh. "We should go."

They parted slowly, grinning shyly at each other. Hands clasped together, they left the apartment, locking it behind them.

Alex gulped as he looked up at the dark house. "You think anyone's home?"

Wil cocked his head, listening. "Yeah, I can hear two people inside." He glanced at Alex, who was now staring at him in surprise. "What?"

"You can hear them?"

"Um, yeah." Wil shrugged bashfully, scuffing his feet.

Alex grinned. "Cool." The grin slipped as he once more turned back to the house.

"We can still leave."

"No. I'm not backing out now." He shuddered briefly. "It's just - this place makes me feel really uncomfortable."

"Want me to go knock? I can check things out, you can stay off to the side and watch."

Alex wavered, then nodded gratefully. "Thanks," he whispered, giving Wil's hand a last squeeze before letting it go and walking over to the corner of the house.

Wil straightened, marching up the steps and rapping loudly on the door. He waited, pasting on a smile when the door creaked open.

"Yeah?" A frizzy haired, exhausted looking woman peered out at him.

"Hi, I'm a friend of Alexander's, and I-"

"He don't live here no more."

"Um, yeah, I know, I was just-"

"Who's at the door, woman!" The shout echoed through the house, then the woman was shoved aside, a scruffy man taking her place. "What do you want?"

Wil forced himself not to cringe under the derisive glare. "Yeah, I'm a friend of Alexander's, I was wondering-"

"Look, how many times I gotta go through this?" He took a menacing step forward, poking a finger into Wil's chest. "That useless bastard doesn't live here! And good riddance. He was the most worthless excuse for a child it was my misfortune to produce. So stop fucking annoying us about him!"

The door slammed shut, leaving Wil standing in shock. He looked over at Alex, biting his lip when he saw how the brunette was hugging himself, tears shining in his eyes. Wil growled, then raised a fist and banged on the door again.

"What!" came the snarl when it was wrenched open again.

"Forgot somethin', mate." Wil drew his fist back, then let fly, clipping the man solidly under the chin and sending him crashing back to land unconscious on the floor inside the house. Wil glared at the still form, then wheeled around and hurried over to Alex. He pulled the human close, gently stroking him until his agitated quivering stopped.

"He...he...they..." Alex stared at the still-open door, eyes wide with betrayal.

"Forget 'em, pet. Again. They ain't worth it." He pressed several kisses to Alex's face, licking at the wetness seeping from the dark eyes.

Alex clung to Wil, breath still hiccuping softly. Finally, he calmed, sighing when Wil pulled away slightly.

Wil brushed a hand down Alex's cheek. "C'mon, luv. Let's go home.

Alex stepped inside the apartment, immediately feeling a profound sense of relief. They stopped in the middle of the living room, staring through the open doorway to the bedroom at the hideously colored pile of clothing.

Wil cleared his throat. "Think we could do a spot of shopping?"

Alex wrinkled his nose. "Definitely. And then maybe a ritual burning afterwards." With a shudder, he crept over to the bedroom, gingerly closing the door. "What about money, though? I don't remember seeing much in either of our wallets." He tried not to lick his lips when Wil got that cute little wrinkle between his eyebrows as he thought. Oooh, wanna nibble that. lick, and suck, and... He cut that off, not wanting to embarrass himself, and assumed an expression of nonchalance.

"You know, I think..." Wil walked over to the table where the phone was located, sifting through the drawer. "Yes!" He turned, flourishing what was obviously a checkbook. He tossed it to Alex, who caught it easily.

"Hey, cool. Hope I kept it balanced." He flipped it open, checking the balance. "Woah." He sat abruptly in a chair, gaping.

Wil leaned over his shoulder to get a better look. "Wow, you're rich!"

"Well, not rich, but certainly not ad off. A few thousand dollars might not last long, but we'll be ok for a little while. And we can afford a minor shopping spree, which is definitely of the good."

"W-we? But...it's your money," Wil stated quietly.

Alex frowned, turning and pulling Wil over the back of the chair so the vampire toppled into his lap. "Ours. We're in this as a team, got it? We share."

Wil laid his head on Alex's chest, listening to the steady 'thump, thump' of his heartbeat. "Got it." Then he lifted his eyes, opening them wide and adding a pout. "Shopping? Clothes?"

"Yeah, yeah. Up." They clambered to their feet and back out into the hallway, where they paused. "Um, where to?"

Wil shrugged helplessly. "I dunno. Ask Mellie."

Alex hesitated, then smiled in agreement. They moved down to her apartment, and Alex knocked lightly.

The door opened, and cheerful eyes twinkled up at them. "Well, hello boys! Fancy you stopping by for a visit. Did you get a chance to eat some of that pie I dropped off yesterday?"

Alex nodded vigorously. "We wondered where it came from - didn't think I'd made it! It was delicious."

"Oh, good. So...what can I do for you lovelies?"

Wil spoke up. "We need to do a bit of shopping, pick out some new clothes and whatnot. Any suggestions where would be good?"

Mellie tapped a finger against her chin. "Now that you mention it, I need a few things myself, and there's one of those 24-hour Wal-Marts not too far away. If you give me a couple of minutes to get myself together, I can give you a ride over."

"Sure, if it's not too much trouble or anything."

"Pish." Mellie waved her hand. "You boys just hold on, I'll be back in a jiff."

The door closed again, and Wil and Alex leaned back against the wall to wait.

Mellie shooed the boys down the stairs, following sedately behind. Out in the parking garage, she led them toward a sporty looking car, unlocking the doors. "Well?"

Alex and Wil stared at the vehicle in semi-shock. It had been pretty much assumed that the middle-aged, practical lady would be driving something, well, practical. They had not expected...this. It was...shiny. And red. And sporty enough to make any girl...or guy...positively swoon.

Chuckling softly, Mellie winked. "Not what you expected from little ol' me, hmm? Well, a girl's got to have a hobby. Come on, get in already."

Alex grinned, running a hand along the sleek lines of the car. He glanced over at Wil. "You want the front?"

Wil shook his head. "Back seat."

Frowning, Alex leaned over to peer in the back. "Not much room."

"I know." Wil looked Alex up and down, then licked his lips. "There's somethin' to be said for close quarters."

Alex stared at him wide-eyed, then blushed. Clearing his throat, he shrugged at Mellie, then scrambled into the back seat. Wil followed, squeezing in beside him.

Mellie just rolled her eyes and got in the driver's seat. She fastened her seat belt and started the engine, adjusting her rearview mirror so she could see the backseat. "Now, don't you boys do anything that will ruin my interior, hear?" Then, flooring the gas pedal, she squealed out of the garage.

Wil was thoroughly enjoying Mellie's driving, especially when a sharp turn pressed him up against Alex. The other man didn't seem quite so happy, though. In fact, he looked a bit...green. Uh-oh. Think this calls for a distraction. Wil shifted even closer, turning Alex's face to him. "You ok?"

Alex swallowed, wincing as the car sped by a pedestrian, only inches away. "Um...yeah." His eyes locked onto pale blue ones that glittered in the scant light. He could feel a hand snaking down his back, pulling him sideways.

Wil tugged Alex closer, then nuzzled his heck, licking softly. With his lips, he could feel the human's pulse jump, and started sucking.

Alex let his head drop back against the seat, baring his neck for further exploration. The blonde took him up on the offer, and laid a path of damp kisses along the exposed flesh. After what seemed an eternity, Alex felt the barest whisper of touch against his lips, and opened his mouth eagerly. A slick tongue darted inside, and he reached up, hands locking into silky hair as he dragged the vampire into his lap.

The two continued to kiss and touch frantically, and amazingly enough, managed to keep their hands above waist level. Of course, when Wil wiggled just so in Alex's lap...

A loud coughing finally broke through their haze, and they noticed vaguely that the car was no longer moving. Wil twisted around, coming face-to-face with an amused Mellie.

"Glad you had fun on the drive over. Hate to break it short, but we should get inside and start shopping. It may take awhile."

"Oh," Wil whispered, then looked back at Alex. He gave the flushed man a quick peck on the lips, pried his hands off warm skin, and crawled out of the back seat through the now-open door.

Alex frowned, quickly following after. He hesitated, then reached for Wil's hand as they all began walking toward the entrance.

Once inside, Mellie grabbed a cart. "I'm going to head over to the pharmacy section, then get some groceries. You boys get a cart a head for the men's clothing, I'll meet you there in a little bit." With that, she walked off briskly.

Alex let go of Wil's hand so he could get a shopping cart. The two walked slowly, staring around the store. Wil pointed to the left. "Looks like clothes are over there, pet."

Alex nodded and pushed the cart down the aisle. They looked around at the assortment of clothes, deciding where to start. "Shoes and socks?" Alex asked.

Wil agreed, and dropped a few packs of plain white socks into the cart. In the shoe section, they each picked out a pair of serviceable sneakers, and Wil even managed to talk Alex into getting himself some black boots that were similar to his own. Then it was over to the underwear section, where they halted.

"I've got enough boxers of my own, but you look like you might be smaller, and mine probably aren't that comfortable. You should probably get some."

Wil shrugged agreeably. "Don't know what size I need, though."

"Oh." Alex thought a moment, then asked, "Well, what size were the ones you were wearing when we first changed last night?"

Wil looked away, embarrassed. "Wzntwrny" he mumbled unintelligibly.

"Um, 'scuse me?"

Scuffling his feet, Wil repeated himself in a barely audible whisper. "I wasn't wearing any."

Alex felt his brain blank as the image of Wil walking around commando while wearing skin-tight jeans flashed in front of him. Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm himself, scolding his unruly imagination. Although, if I'd known then, I'd have tried for a better look. Giving himself a mental slap, he managed a nonchalant grin. "No biggie. You probably wear almost the same size as me." He scanned the rack of boxers, choosing a pair and handing them to Wil. "Here, try these."

Wil took them and headed for the dressing rooms. A few minutes later, he emerged, handing them back to Alex with a nod.

"Good. Now, pick out a few more pairs, and we can get down to the real shopping." He helped Wil sort through the different styles, hissing softly when his fingers slid over something soft and smooth. Pulling them out, he saw that he'd come upon the selection of silk boxers. The ones he was currently holding were a deep red color, and happened to be Wil's size. Grinning, he pawed through the rest, finding a jet-black pair, also in Wil's size, and a couple of deep blue and a black pair in his size. Spoils in hand, he turned and dumped them into the cart.

"Oooh, nice!"

Alex jerked his head up to see Mellie smiling wickedly as she inspected the contents of their cart. He blushed.

"Oh, don't be bashful, now. Where'd Wil get himself to?" She glanced around, beaming when she spotted the blonde. She waved the vampire over, taking the items in his hands and tossing them into their cart. "Come on, let's get to the good stuff!" She hustled them over to the stacks of jeans, eyeing them both critically before sniffing in satisfaction. In seconds, she'd extracted two pairs of jeans, both a faded black, and thrust them at the bemused men. "Shoo! Go try them on already!"

They obediently took the jeans and headed into separate dressing rooms, leaving Mellie to guard the carts.

Mellie folded her arms, waiting impatiently. After what she deemed an adequate amount of time, she called out, "Aren't you two ready yet?" She grinned at the muffled responses of 'Bloody hell!' and 'They're too small!' and responded forcefully, "Nonsense. Now get out here and let me see!"

Slowly, they stepped out of their respective rooms, halting as they caught sight of one another.


Numbly, they complied, then resumed gaping at each other's snugly clad forms, not even noticing Mellie's apreciative whistle. As one, they said, "You're getting those."

Mellie clapped her hands delightedly. "Of course you are. I am a mother, I'm an expert at picking out clothes. You two stay here, I'll get some more."

And so it went. Alex and Wil were shuffled in and out of the changing rooms, trying on everything that Mellie brought them. And she was good. She picked out styles and colors that looked stunning on them, occasionally throwing in something that fit so perfectly, they almost drooled at the sight of silk-clad chests, or curved butts encased in denim.

Hours later, they finally called a halt, changing back to their original clothes and sitting, exhausted, on the floor. Neither could believe the stack of clothes spilling from their cart, and groaned at the thought of lugging it all back up to their apartment.

Mellie chuckled, knowing what they were thinking. "Oh, come one! You two are young and strong...it should be a breeze!" She pulled them, groaning, to their feet.

Checkout took a while, and Alex was grateful that they'd managed not to wipe out his bank account. There was a sizeable dent in it, though. Still, when he thought of his closet with its soon-to-be-displaced wardrobe, he figured it was worth it.

Out in the parking lot, Wil stared dubiously at the small vehicle.

Mellie nudged him. "Have faith, dearie." Opening the trunk, she managed to arrange most of their purchases in the seemingly tiny space. The rest were loaded into the front passenger seat. Alex and Wil climbed into the back seat once again, where they simply lay tiredly in each other's arms, dozing lightly.

Smiling indulgently, Mellie drove carefully home, actually obeying all the traffic laws. Back at the apartment complex, she turned toward the back, melting at the almost innocent picture the two men made. Light and dark, snuggled close together. Reluctantly, she reached back to shake them awake.

She loaded them down with their many bags, then herded them upstairs. Snagging Alex's key from his pocket, she unlocked their apartment, escorting them inside. She held back a giggle when the bags cascaded to the floor, and the two men blinked sleepily. Mellie managed to keep them from collapsing as well, guiding them into their bedroom and seating them on the bed.

Feeling very much like a mother all over again, she tugged off their shoes and socks, then tucked them in. With a kiss to their foreheads, she turned off the light and backed out of the room. A last glance showed them back in each other's embrace, sleeping deeply.

Still grinning widely, Mellie carefully skirted the mess in the living room and let herself out.

Alex collapsed on the bed in relief. "Done. Finally." He stretched tired muscles, glad to have finished the monumental task of reorganizing the closet. There were now two garbage bags crammed full of rejected items, and his and Wil's new wardrobe was noticeably less...vivid.

Wil sat next to him, bouncing slightly. "Wow. Looks good." He scooted closer, grinning when Alex wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him down.

Alex nipped an earlobe. "Yeah, it does, doesn't it?" His tongue swirled out, flicking over cool skin until it brushed against Wil's lips. He kissed the vampire softly, mouths barely touching as tongues ghosted over each other.

They cuddled for a while, until Alex noticed the time. Eyes wide, he sprang up from the bed, pulling Wil with him. "It's 8:15! C'mon, we have to get ready!"

Wil groaned as Alex immediately began to ransack their closet, destroying the neat arrangements of clothes. With a roll of his eyes, he moved behind Alex, kissing the nape of his neck. When the man paused and looked back at him, he tilted his head toward the door. "I'm gonna go shower, get cleaned up."

Alex nodded and went back to his task of choosing the perfect outfit for the party. He had just decided on a pair of pants that outlined his ass perfectly and a dark button-down shirt when he heard a soft noise. Turning, he gulped at the slightly damp, towel-clad man in front of him. He watched a bead of water slide down a smooth chest, catching briefly on an erect nipple. He gaped as the vampire moved to the dresser.

"Shower's free, luv."

Alex blinked. "Huh?" He shook his head to clear it, flushing darkly as he backed away. "Um, yeah." Turning, he fled to the bathroom.

Wil watched him go, smiling. His nose twitched as he once more detected the scent he'd come to associate with Alex being aroused. Humming happily, he made short work of picking out his own outfit. Towel discarded by the door, he was about to step into his boxers when the apartment was fairly flooded by the same scent as before.

Standing still, he listened closely, just barely hearing the sounds of flesh sliding over flesh through the pattering of the shower. He sunk shakily down on the bed as he realized that, at this very moment, Alex was touching himself. Remembering how he had awakened just a few hours before, cradled by the heat of Alex's body, he felt himself harden considerably.

Concentrating on the faint sounds from the bathroom, he closed a hand over his erection, stroking slowly. Closing his eyes, he imagined Alex in the shower, water cascading over his muscled body as he touched himself, one hand around his cock and the other playing over his chest, toying with hardened nipples. Wil stroked in time to the rhythm he could tell Alex was using, moaning when he heard Alex whimper softly.

Lying back on the mattress, he spread his legs wider, matching his movements to what he pictured Alex doing. Breathy little grunts and moans escaped him as his fingers danced over the taut flesh of his cock, spreading the leaking fluid over it as he increased the speed of his stroking.

He pressed against the dripping head, rubbing it, then reached lower to capture his balls and roll them between slender fingers. He heard Alex's breath catch in a gasp, then a low moan of his name, could smell the human's seed sharp in the air.

Thrusting his hips up sharply, Wil shuddered, cum spurting out to coat his belly. Then he lay exhausted, panting for breath he didn't need. Lifting his hand, he smeared it over the mess on his stomach, bringing it to his face. Not even thinking about his actions, he sucked in each digit, cleaning the sticky fluid off his skin. He dimly heard the shower shut off, but it didn't really register. Busy cleaning himself off, he didn't become aware of another presence until a sharp gasp captured his attention.

Startled, the vampire looked up, meeting brown eyes huge with astonishment. He jerked upright, staring mortified at Alex.

Alex just gaped at the naked form sprawled on the bed. Granted, he'd just been jerking off to a mental image of that very thing, but to be met with the reality... And it wasn't too difficult to figure out what Wil had been doing, either, not from the smell in the room. Or the lingering traces of evidence on the blonde's hand and stomach and softened co-. Alex flushed deeply, reluctantly averting his eyes. "Um, s-sorry. I-I just-" He fell silent.

Wil was at a loss for words. He couldn't believe he'd just been caught like this by his boyfr- Hey, wait a minute. Why is this a bad thing? Wil grinned, relaxing into a lewd display. He licked his lips, eyes lidded, and whispered huskily, "I heard you tossin' off in the shower, pet. Heard you say my name."

Gulping, Alex found his gaze drawn back to Wil, and his breath caught at how the blonde had assumed an inviting pose. "Wiiil..." he groaned, taking a step forward before halting.

Wil shifted, drawing attention to his cock, which wasn't nearly as soft as it had been. "I thought about you when I came, Alex. About touching you, tasting you." He dropped his eyes to stare at the tenting of Alex's towel.

By this time, Alex figured he had acquired a permanent red hue. Not to mention the perpetual hard-on. He closed his eyes, purposefully turning away from Wil once again. "Wil, w-we agreed..." He heard a loud sigh from the bed, then a rustling as the vampire got up and pulled on a pair of boxers. A soft touch on his back made him twist his head around.

Wil shuffled his feet, repentant look in his face as he timidly nibbled his lower lip. "I know," he whispered, "but you just looked so...and I only wanted to tease you a bit." He shrugged diffidently.

Alex felt like a complete heel for putting that anguished look on Wil's face, so he pulled the other man into a hug. A hug that ended rather quickly as bare chests met and hard cocks brushed against each other, sending a flash through each man that had them jumping away from each other in an attempt to control the surge of desire that bolted through them. Clearing his throat, Alex waved toward the clothes he'd picked out earlier. "I'm, uh, just gonna...get dressed."

Wil nodded, watching him intently, making no move to turn away. Alex blinked, then hesitantly let his towel drop so he could pull on his own boxers. When he straightened, Wil was grinning cockily at him, eyes twinkling with a mixture of humor and desire. He smiled back somewhat bashfully, then finished dressing.

Wil too dressed, pulling on his tight jeans and sleeveless white t-shirt, adding an unbuttoned short-sleeve shirt over that. Done, he whistled admiringly at Alex, making noises of approval as he eyed the human, who obligingly struck a pose to show off his outfit. Laughing, they managed to pull on their shoes and make it out of the apartment without totally breaking down.

Wil and Alex practically clung to each other, amazed by the variety of species evident at the party, and not wanting to get separated from each other. That plan was ruined, though, when Mellie appeared with a pale-haired woman in tow.

"There you are! Boys, I'd like you to meet Jenna. Jenna, Alex and Wil." She nudged the woman forward. "Now, Wil needs you to explain a few vampire things to him, and I'm going to introduce Alex around." Matching actions with words, she took hold of Alex and led him away, ignoring his pleading looks back at Wil.


"Nonsense, he'll be fine. Now don't dawdle, there's a lot of folks who want to meet you!"

As Mellie steered him past the buffet table, Alex managed to grab a few of the more edible looking snacks. He stuffed one in his mouth just as his self-appointed guide turned to him.

Mellie took one look at what he was eating, and a strange expression crossed her face. "Um, do you know what that is?"

Alex paused, hastily swallowing the delicious treat. "Do I want to?"

"Probably not."

"Well then, why don't we just let me keep on believing it was something very normal and innocent. It will be easier on everyone that way." Determinedly not thinking about what he might be consuming, he finished off the other bits of food he'd grabbed.

"Hmm." Mellie's mouth twitched into an almost-smile as she watched him polish off every crumb. She rolled her eyes, then scanned the nearby crowd, waving madly when she spotted a tall, sophisticated looking woman. "Oh, it's Sophia! Come on, Alex!"

Alex stared up at the woman, who had to be at least seven feet tall. "Um, hi."

Sophia smiled, making her entire face light up. "You must be Alex. My, my. You are a pretty one." She brushed a slim finger over his jaw. "I'm Sophia."

"H-hello, Sophia." Alex stuttered.

Laying an arm across his shoulders, Sophia glanced at Mellie. "I'm going to steal him away from you for a moment, darling. Don't worry, I won't hurt him!"

"I'll be back to collect him in a bit, then." Mellie shooed them off together, then went back to her mingling.

Leading Alex off into a semi-private corner, Sophia studied him intently. "So, Alex. Tell me. Are you working?"

Alex blinked. "Well, no, not at the moment."

"Ah. See, I have a few openings, and trust me, you'd be an absolutely divine addition. You could make a fortune."

"Wow. Cool. What...exactly would I be doing, though."

Sophia tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Well, starting off, you wouldn't get any of the more eclectic customers, not until you felt you were ready. Your contract would be for three months, renewable if you like every three months after. And you'd only have to accept customers you feel comfortable with. You'd keep 60% of what you earn, and any extras are automatically yours."

Alex considered this explanation. "Um, sorry if I got this wrong, but...it sounds like you're offering to...to be my pimp."

"Well, yes. Essentially. Although I find that such a vulgar term. Everyone who works for me does so completely voluntarily, and only stays as long as he or she wants. I don't force them to work for me, merely give them the opportunity. Like I'm doing now."

"Oh. Well, you know, I'm really flattered and all, but-" He searched the room, then pointed with relief. "See that blonde vampire talking with Jenna? He's my b-boyfriend, and we're kinda...um, exclusive."

"Ah. Pity. He's quite the lovely one himself. Are you certain? You could work together, you'd have all the customers fighting for a moment of your time."

"I...don't think so. Um, thanks for the offer, though."

Sophia sighed. "Well, it was too much to hope for, I suppose. I must say, my customers did get a bit spoiled with that one boy who worked for me. Danny was a werewolf, you know, small but very energetic. Everyone was sad to see him go. He was a favorite among the customers, and all the residents here loved him." She smiled, lifting a hand to show Alex the shimmering blue polish on her nails. "He recommended this color to me, you know. Said it would suit me much better than it did him." Another sad sigh. "We all miss him terribly."

"I'm sorry. He sounds like a great guy."

Mellie reappeared beside him. "So, you two have a nice chat?"

Alex blushed, but Sophia simply giggled and answered, "I'm afraid I've been turned down, darling. Such a loss."

With a superior sniff, Mellie responded, "Well, I told you that you wouldn't be able to pry Alex and Wil away from each other long enough to entertain anyone else." Then she smiled warmly. "They're in looooove," she whispered loudly, much to Alex's further embarrassment. Laughing, Mellie dragged him away again, and he waved at the disappearing Sophia. "Come, come, lots more to meet."

Wil watched helplessly as Alex was dragged away by their insistent neighbor. Controlling the urge to sprint after them and drag him back, he shifted his gaze to the lovely woman beside him. He gave her a half-grin. "Um, hey."

Jenna flicked a glance up at him through long, pale lashes. "Hi," she replied softly, then went back to an intense study of her feet.

Wil nodded, then started studying the room. Unsurprisingly, his eyes seemed drawn toward Alex, and he watched as the human was led over to a tall woman and engaged in a conversation that seemed to leave him rather disconcerted.

"That's Sophia," came a shy whisper, and he once more turned to look at Jenna.

"Yeah? Who's she? Not tryin' to hit on my Alex, is she?"

Smiling briefly, Jenna shook her head. "No. Probably trying to recruit him, though."


Brushing her hair behind her ears, Jenna finally looked at him straight on. Her brilliant, violet eyes startled Wil momentarily, but he quickly recovered. "Uh-huh. She's always on the lookout for new additions. She's, um, she's...a proprietor."

Wil blinked. "Proprietor? Y'mean a pimp?" He bristled, all set to go snatch his lover from the woman's evil clutches.

Jenna giggled, eyes sparkling merrily. "Not really. She just, um, arranges...dates. Between her clients and willing employees."

"Sounds like a mighty fancy way of sayin' she's procuring johns for her herd of hustlers."

"Mmm, not really. I mean, everyone who works for her is willing, they pretty much call the shots on the 'dates', and no one has ever gotten hurt...except for once when Sophia went after a client who marked up one of her boys. People were finding pieces of that guy around town for weeks. Sophia is very protective."

"Huh." Wil brightened when he saw Alex point his way while shaking his head at the woman. He held still as she assessed him, giving her a cocky grin.

Again Jenna giggled as she watched the by-play. "Oh boy, now she's probably gonna try to get you both as a two-for-one deal."

"Yeah, well, she's gonna be out of luck, then," he growled, relieved when Mellie finally returned to lead Alex off in another direction. "So," he said, changing the subject. "Mellie said you could tell me a few things. Y'know, about bein' a vampire an' all."

"I guess. Um, big stuff. Sun is bad, stay away from pointy bits of wood, losing your head will dust you. Fire is a big no-no too."

"Right. Pretty much got those figured out on my own." Wil grimaced as he was jostled by a passer-by. "C'mon, let's move out of the way." He led Jenna off to a less occupied area, snagging a couple of glasses of blood that were carried by on a tray. He handed one to the other vampire.

"Thanks." Jenna sipped gratefully, then asked, "So, what did you need to know about, then?"

Wil thought about it. "Well, what about this 'Sire' thing? What's that?"

"Ok. See, once a vampire is strong enough, he can sire either minions or childer. Minions are generally pretty dumb, they do the dirty work. Childer start out as fledglings, and are smarter and stronger, generally because they get a bigger dose of the sire's blood during the turning process. Plus, the vampire who sires them tends to sort of take the fledglings under his wing, so to speak, but minions are pretty much left to fend for themselves."

Wil shrugged. "Sounds simple enough. What's all this about some Slayer girl, though?"

Jenna gasped. Her glass slipped trough trembling fingers to shatter against the floor. Sorrow-filled eyes gazed blankly at Wil, and he stepped closer, concerned.

"Hey, you all right?"

Jenna backed away a step, shaking her head. Her chest rose and fell quickly as she took sharp breaths of air. Frowning, Wil hustled her away from the large gathering, searching until he found a deserted room. He pushed her down into a chair, patting her cheeks gently.

Blinking, Jenna slowly came back to awareness, looking around in confusion.

"What happened?" Wil asked, taking a seat beside her.

"I was..." Jenna rubbed at her nose, sniffling. "I was...remembering."

"Remembering what?"

Jenna didn't respond for long moments, then she visibly braced herself and began to speak. "Three years ago, I died. And then I woke up again."

Continued at my site kaylafic(dot)livejournal(dot)com because of upcoming NC-17 activities. And because the formatting gets too difficult to do here.