Title: Morbid Curiosity

Author: DC – devils_symphony@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: If I had created Buffy', I wouldn't be here. Don't own, don't sue. Cept the plot. No one can claim that but me. No pain, no gain. I didn't experience any pain. I have no gain (except for cool reviews, YOU GUYS ROCK!), no profit, no evil lawyers. Except Lindsey, he's allowed.

Author's Notes: It's taken me a while, but here it is, chapter seven, aptly named Another Sunday. So sorry its taken me as long as it has, I seriously suck, but so do exams, and I'm pinning all of the blame on them. But hey, I achieved a bunch of high scores, so taking a break from the computer and its wonderful fruits was at least somewhat worth it. Oh, and this one gets a teensy bit more graphic, but I know avid S/X followers won't mind. It's within FF.Net reason, so yeah. :)

---

Another Sunday

---

The movie had taken the group well into the night. It was the lengthy Shawshank Redemption, and everyone, even the ever-restless Faith, were yawning by the end of it. After a few bathroom runs and sleep bag gatherings, the lights were switched off. The boys had gentlemanly given up the couch to the girls, who took it together, head to foot. The boys slept in a row, Gunn near the couch, Xander in the middle, and William near the TV. The DVD was still playing a CD, the volume turned down. For some reason, the album was the soundtrack to The Lion King, a CD that had some how got mixed up in the medium sized collection Xander had brought over. Faith – yes, Faith – had been the one to whack it in there, and now no one really could be bothered turning it off.

The group had talked for a while, in the dark, about slaying, about Tara's magick, about the locator spell that was yet to be used, about Gunn's family, until they had realised that Gunn had fallen asleep, soft snores indicating this fact. They continued the chat, but the spaces in between sentences grew longer, until Tara stopped talking. William had gone silent, but indicating his wakefulness by chuckling at some statements Faith and Xander made. Finally, after five minutes of waiting for an answer to a question he had forgotten, Xander realised that Faith was asleep. The Slayer was breathing deeply, back turned towards him. Xander closed his eyes, pulling his sleeping bag up to his chin, listening to the instrumental that was playing, feeling sleep tug at the bonds of consciousness, when he heard shuffling behind him. He turned to see William sitting up, placing his glasses on top of the TV, obviously unaware he was being watched. He was illuminated very vaguely by the green glow from the DVD player, the lime coloured numbers indicating what song was playing and how much of it had played.

"I don't remember this bit," Xander whispered vaguely, not wanting to wake the others up. William didn't jump or turn sharply towards him. He just slid back down to horizontal in silent acknowledgement of Xander's consciousness.

"What bit, luv?" he asked, formal speech diminishing with tiredness.

"This bit. This music. I don't remember it," Xander said softly, one arm crooked and cushioning his head. William mirrored his position, and though Xander couldn't see the boy's eyes, he just felt watched.

"When the lion cub's father died," William said automatically, hesitated just at the end of the sentence, like one would if they had just realised that they shouldn't know this sort of thing. "I'd wager," he added, covering up ineffectively.

"It sounds sad."

"It is."

"Mm." Xander sounded sleepier than he felt. He shifted, propping himself up by and elbow and shifting his pillow closer to William, before shifting himself in the same direction with slight difficulty. William did the same after a moment, taking Xander's hand into his own, a moment that would have been obnoxiously sweet if Xander hadn't loved it. He closed his eyes for a second – they felt like they needed a rest – letting himself be close to the boy and the gentle tunes, melancholic and pretty. He was about an inch from being a sleep when he felt William kiss him. The feeling was so distant, he was so sleepy, but it woke him up a little more, and it felt realer. Xander wondered briefly how the boy was able to find how mouth in the near darkness, before kissing back. After a few seconds, he untangled his hand from William's and reached out blindly, hand resting on his boyfriend's waist, covered in the silkiness of his own sleeping bag. He attempted to pull him close, but his hand easily slipped over the slippery surface. So Xander moved closer.

William had apparently taken the gesture to mean that Xander wanted him to move closer, so he did, so the two boys were nearer than expected. Xander didn't mind, and by the way William had started kissing his neck, the Brit didn't mind either. Xander reclined his head back, exposing more flesh, wrapping an arm around the smaller boy, feeling like way too many layers were separating them. Then it happened. It just happened. Xander wasn't sure whether he himself had pulled William up, or William had slid up, or both, but suddenly, William was lying on top of him, Xander's lips captured in a harsh kiss. Xander stopped himself from moaning, just in time, not wanting to wake the locals. Now there were definitely too many barriers.

He reached sightlessly for the zipper to William's sleeping bag and pulled. William broke off the kiss to pull the thing away, and after a moment's struggle with a few muffled chuckles of frustration and slight hilarity, Xander's was gone as well. He instantly pulled William back down on top of him before the Brit got all English on him, capturing Will's mouth in a kiss that was both deep and perhaps slightly possessive. William let a leg fall between Xander's, and Xander bit back another moan as he felt William's erection again his hip, stirring up his own. William ducked his head, but not to kiss his neck, but it seemed like he was hiding. Xander guessed that if there was light, he'd probably be able to see a blush settled across William's features. Not sure how to evade the boy's possible embarrassment, Xander rested a hand on the small of William's back, under the thin black T-shirt. William shifted under the hand, obviously in favour of the contact, and Xander lifted his knees absently, and Will let out a soft moan, that was instantly cut off. It was definitely a turn on, this close to being discovered, forced to keep quiet.

Trying to be as silent as possible, Xander rolled over, forcing the other teenager under him. There was a dull thud as William's head connected softly against the carpet, and both winced at the sound. But no, the three hadn't woken up, Faith was still snoring softly, Tara and Gunn were still breathing heavily and steadily. Unlike Xander – oh no, the breathing was heavy, it was the steady part that he couldn't get.

"We need to stop right about now," William whispered.

"Why?" Xander whispered back.

"Because we have three friends within a three metre radius of us and we have every chance in the world of getting caught," he pointed out logically. Xander really hated logic at these moments. He sighed to indicate that he was against this entirely, kissed William again and rolled off of him, and started wrestling the sleeping bag back on. After a pause, so did William, until both were back where they started. Xander reached out, groped the air blindly for a second, before locating William's hand and holding on to it. "We're not very good at timing," William said, stating the obvious.

"Spontaneity does that to a man," Xander said absently, closing his eyes again, absently running a finger over the cold of William's ring.

"It's catching, I recall."

"Uh-huh."

Xander wasn't sure if William had said anything after that, because about a moment later, he was asleep, just as the song on the DVD came to an end.

---

"Round or funny shaped?" Xander blinked. He had woken up about fifteen minutes ago, and though he looked conscious, he felt like the walking dead, and not the bumpy-brow pointy-teeth type. He lifted his head from the breakfast bar surface, arms crossed.

"Is this one of those say what first comes to your mind' games, cause I'm not so sure you'll get very good answers. My brain's still sleeping on the living room floor," he said.

"No, I meant, round pancakes or funny shape pancakes?" she said, tilting the bowl she had in her hand to show a smooth, creamy mixture. "See? Pancakes. Breakfast. Important meal of the day. I make. So, round or funny shaped?"

"Square."

"Don't be difficult."

"Pancake-shaped."

"You're not a morning person, are you?"

Xander let his forehead collide with the breakfast bar by way of explanation. He heard Tara giggle and walk away to make pancake-shaped pancakes. If Xander did get a shot of coffee, or perhaps an injection of java directly into his bloodstream, he was pretty sure he was going to fall off the stool he was sitting on. He was still wearing his night clothes, and he had the clammy feeling one may get after a sleep over. And while he looked like a guy with a hangover in his boxers and old T-shirt, she looked energetic and cute in her kitten patterned PJ's, strawberry blonde hair looking like something from a shampoo commercial.

"Tara, how long have you been up?" Xander looked up to see William sit beside him, looking about as dead as Xander felt. At least Xander wasn't alone on the Not A Morning Person front.

"Half an hour or so. Round of funny shaped?"

"You woke up half an hour ago and you're bouncing, making breakfast and smiling at the same time? You are human, aren't you? Round." He stifled a yawn, resting his head in his hands, elbows on the bar. Tara gave him a half-smile, pouring some more mixture into the pan. "Anyway, where's Charles and Faith?"

"Faith's in the shower and Gunn's packing up his stuff to leave," Tara answered, grabbing the spatula out of a drawer as if she knew the kitchen like the back of her hand. She peeled of a pancake, put it on a plate and placed in front of Xander. "I think I may have invented the first pancake to not look pancake-shaped."

"That's possible?" asked William, glancing over. "Ah, I guess it is."

"Got syrup?" asked Xander, looking between Tara and William.

"No," William said.

"Yes," corrected Tara, opening the pantry and pulling out a bottle of maple syrup. Xander thanked her and grabbed it, pouring a truckload onto his breakfast, while William blinked.

"I do? Hey, I have syrup. Fancy that." He sighed. "I'm so tired. I need coffee." He stood and walked around the breakfast bar to turn on the electric kettle. "Tara?"

"Hot chocolate, thanks."

"Xan?"

"Ditto."

There was a pleasant sound of general relaxed business in the kitchen, and soon, the smell of percolated coffee filled the air, as Xander dug into his breakfast. "You have pancakes with your syrup, right?" Tara asked sarcastically, smiling as she sat down with William's and her own plateful. Xander glanced down at his plate and grinned.

"Yeah, but I'm going easy on the pancakes this time, gotta keep up my nutrition and all."

"Ah, I see I got funny shapes instead of rounds?" William asked, sitting down where he had been before, setting out the three mugs. Tara grinned without a trace of guilt, taking a sip from her hot chocolate.

"You'll make a great housewife," Xander said encouragingly. When Tara gave him a dark look, he quickly backtracked. "Who is also smart and perfectly capable on her own without depending on a man to be prime breadwinner."

"Just eat your pancakes," William advised, leaning over towards the herb and spice rack.

"What'cha doing?" asked Tara when he grabbed two shakers for cinnamon and thyme.

"Just a thing," he said vaguely, tapping a very small amount of thyme into his coffee, and gave a few good shakes with cinnamon.

"'Cause thyme really adds that summer essence to black coffee?" Xander said sarcastically.

"Is it a Wiccan thing?" asked Tara brightly.

"No, yes," William said, answering both things at a time.

"What for?"

"Don't worry," the Brit said firmly, with a flicker of a smile, before replacing the herbs, just as Gunn and Faith entered the kitchen. Gunn looked as alive as Tara was, but Faith slumped against the wall, rubbing her left eye childishly, her dark brown hair wet and dripping onto her red tank top. "Oh god, another morning person," William said when Gunn poured himself a glass of water, with no signs of dampened hand-eye co-ordination or any other symptoms of sleepiness. "They breed like rabbits."

"Man, I need coffee," moaned Faith. "We were up later than I get home, and that's saying something. Like, we got to lights out mode at, what, three A.M.? Then you guys," she pointed at both William and Xander, "kept shuffling about and whispering, and I was too tired to throw something at you." Xander thumped William on the back, who had choked on his coffee at Faith's statement. "What were you doing down there anyhow?"

"You didn't hear us?" Xander hazarded, and Faith wearily shook her head. "Ah, we were..." He glanced at William, who had recovered and was now watching him with an amused expression, awaiting the lie Xander would concoct. Bastard. "Just talking, and then fighting over the last crisp. It wasn't pretty."

"A man's gotta eat," said William, with sarcasm only detectable if you knew the truth. Xander kicked him lightly under the table when he spotted the Brit rolling his eyes slightly. "Anyway, there's a pot of coffee waiting, Faith." She automatically started towards it, pouring herself a cup. "Help yourself," he said ironically, taking a sip of his own great American brew.

"Anymore pancakes?" asked Gunn hopefully, leaning against the closed door of the pantry.

"The mixture's over there," Tara said. There was a long pause, before she sighed melodramatically and got up and heated the pan again. "You're getting funny shapes, mister," she said, mock sternly as she poured the mixture haphazardly.

"Wouldn't have it any other way. And hey, I gotta go in about half an hour if I'm gonna meet Willow on time," Gunn announced to the world in general, bouncing slightly.

"Look at him, all bouncy at this time of the morning after a night such as ours," Xander said, scowling with a lot of exaggeration.

"Despicable. There should be a law against morning people," William agreed.

"They should be sentenced to insomnia, or something," Faith added, before downing her moderately warm coffee in one go, before immediately pouring herself another. "And hey, converting to business talk – when are we gonna hunt down Leather Pants and his lovely assistant?"

"Angelus and Buffy," translated Tara absently, flipping pancakes as she did so. She looked over her shoulder at the Slayer, who was now perched on the bench beside the sink. "We'll probably do the location spell on Monday, though Ethan hasn't said anything about it yet."

"Ah. Um, Mr. Rayne..." William paused, and rephrased his sentence. "The location spell has already been taken care of. We just need one more night or so for it to activate." Everyone stared at him, and he ignored the gazes, knifing the last of his breakfast, before looking up. "What?"

"Ethan didn't tell me," Tara said, more curious than offended.

William shrugged with unease. "He was probably going to say something on Monday."

"So...he didn't need me? I thought that he wanted both of us to do it."

"Not necessarily. We only needed the spell to be activated, which he did on his own, and I-I helped." There was a pause, and he sighed. "What is it now?"

"Nothing, just that we thought it was a group thing," Gunn said. "The whole spell."

"I thought it'd be done on Monday, and then we'd go off and hunt down Dead Evil," Xander added.

"Locator spells don't need a few days to be activated," Tara argued lightly, putting Gunn's pancakes on a plate and handing them to him. "Not usually. Not the normal ones I've read about."

"Well, this one did," William said shortly. "And you wouldn't have read about it, it was in the book Ethan lent me." Tara gave him a disapproving look, which the Brit ignored, downing his coffee and standing up. "Anyway, it's done and that's all that matters, right?"

"I don't like that book, Will," Tara said, shaking her head. "Besides, I thought you were only reading it to get two opinions on the matter of magicks. A-are you practising spells from it?" William shrugged ambivalently, standing up to rinse off his dishes. "Because if-if you are... Just be careful."

"I will, I mean, I-I am, just..." He sighed, running the hot water tap, and Xander decided that it was probably I good time to change the subject.

"So, Gunn, date, Willow, where?" he asked, and both Faith and Gunn happily embraced the change of conversation, while William kept his back turned as he started cleaning up, Tara looking at him with a worried motherly expression. Faith took over where William had been sitting, and Gunn lent against the closed pantry door, rolling up one of his pancakes into a thick cylinder so it resembled a spongy cigar.

"There's this café a block away from Sunnydale High," Gunn went onto explain, unable to stop grinning. "We're meeting there, and I guess we'll stay for a while and have shakes or something, and then I'm taking her to a movie, and then whatever."

"I'd have never pinned her as your type, but its works, somehow," Faith said.

"She's funny, funnier than most people think," Gunn said, on the verge of babbling. "And cute, and really smart, and cute, and funny, and I did say that she was cute, right?"

"It may have been mentioned," Xander said, exchanging an aww, innit so adorable you could throw up?' glance with Faith. "Gunn's smitten, and its kind of frightening."

"Hey, I'm not smitten," Gunn said defensively, jabbing at the air with his rolled up pancake, granules of sugar spraying off. "Smitten' is for people like Tara, or Will, or someone who's not me."

"Excuse me?" asked Tara and William at the same time, both having put the late conversation behind them as they glared at Gunn comically.

"Point being, I like her, but smitten' is going too far," Gunn finished, before taking a bite out of the pancake. Faith shook her head, laughing slightly.

"My god, Harris is right, Gunn is smitten."

---

Gunn was the first to leave, having to have to drop off his belongings at his house before meeting Willow for their date. Or perhaps he just wanted to escape the various taunts of smitten kitten' and smitten like mittens' and bitten smitten guy' and any other bad rhyme the Scoobies could think of to annoy the hell out of him. For about an hour, Xander, Tara and Faith remained, until William pointed out that he wanted them gone before his father and mother decided to come home, so Tara left next, for homework reasons. Xander had hung around as long as possible, waiting for Faith to leave so he'd have at least five minutes to say see ya' alone.

But it was at that point Faith had uncovered William's Playstation which had been rotting away in a cupboard, and she and Xander had gotten into a death rally, both lying on their stomachs, eyes glued to the screen. William had settled down on the couch to read, ignoring them entirely.

"Argh, I can't get passed this bit."
"Harris, it's easy. Look, I'm way passed you."

"Whatever, Ms. Super-Slayer-Reflexes."

"Somehow I doubt that playing video games is part of my special slaying powers."

"Well, if you need to save the world by winning a death match in this against Satan, then I would think it would be – argh, I died!"

"You know, I have better games," William said from where he was, glancing at them from his book. "Frogger' is not one of them. In fact, it was given to me by my oldest aunt about four years ago and I haven't touched it since."

"Aw, this is a classic!" Xander said, rolling onto his back to look at the Brit, who had an eyebrow lifted. "Come on, play with us Or just Faith, because I suck at this game, apparently."

"Nah, I should run," Faith said, turning off the TV and Playstation. She stood, stretching out cramps. "Drama homework, it seriously sucks." She rolled her eyes and walked out of the living room. "I'll just get my stuff." Once she was gone, Xander got up and sat down next to William on the couch.

"What'cha reading?" he asked, putting an arm across the top of the couch and William leaned his head against his comfortably.

"Ethan's book," he said. Xander ignored the flicker of doubt and worry that was inspired from the words, and he looked down at the yellowed pages. The print was simple, slightly spidery and blotchy and very, very small, like in a Bible. One the left page was a translations page, with one column consisting of English words like war' and sickness' and wealth' and hate', and the other column displaying symbols next to the English translation.

"What are these?" he asked, reluctant to touch the book in case he jerked away from it again.

"Oh, dark versions of the runes," William said, switching to lecture mode. "Evil sorcerers use them frequently for curses, but most, like the ones with asterisks next to them, are used for fortune readings of the darker kind. Mostly their used for simple but evil charms, like a practitioner of the dark arts may carve the symbol for death' in a black candle, light it, chant a few things, burn a picture of someone over it then hide it in that person's room. If this warlock or witch is skilled, that person could die in a matter of days. If they're not particularly skilled, then someone related to that person would die in the space of thirteen days. Interesting, isn't it?"

"More like mucho creepy on the evil spectrum," Xander said, wrinkling his nose.

"I take it your find it disturbing?" William asked dryly, rolling his head lazily to the side and giving Xander an arch look.

"Only in the here's Johnny' kind of sense, although maybe a little bit more subtler." William chuckled, closing his eyes and ducking his head. Xander smirked a bit, and lifted William's head up with two fingers, before pressing his lips against William's, the sensation warm and familiar and, as they opened their mouths to each other, moist. And delicious. He heard a thunk as William tossed the heavy book onto the glass and metal coffee table, a few empty cans of Coke skittering away and landing on the carpet. Xander curled his arm around William's neck, the one that had been lying out on the back of the sofa, his other hand entangled in William's hair. He arched his back against William's hand when he felt it slip up his back, under his T-shirt, raking his fingernails down Xander's spine.

Suddenly, the contact was gone as William quickly scrambled to the other side of the sofa, grabbing his book off the coffee table. "Heard Faith coming," he said in explanation, a blush settling on his face like a permanent feature, just as Faith strode in, bag over her shoulder.

"Okay, I'm off, you boys don't do anything I wouldn't do, which isn't a hell of a lot." She strode over and gave William a one armed hug from behind, which he returned awkwardly, and she flicked a hand up in a brief wave for Xander. "Later, fellow Scoobies." She turned and started out.

"What's the rush?" asked William over his shoulder.

"The only bus for the next two hours is gonna leave in, like, five minutes a block away from here, and I'd rather run to catch it than walk home," she explained. "See you on Monday." With that, she was gone. William shook his head, putting the book back on the coffee table.

"She's quick to escape, not that I'm complaining," he said conversationally, crossing his legs Indian style. "When are you leaving?"

"I'm not due back anytime soon," Xander said, distracted with the sight of William with a just-kissed look about him.

"Well, my parents should be home in about two hours," William said, leaning back onto the arm of the couch. Xander grinned. Two hours. Cool. He got to hands and knees and fancied that he noticed William's medium blue eyes go a bit darker as Xander crawled over. There wasn't much of a pause between then and Xander kissing him for the second time that morning. He felt William's hands on his shoulder, gripping onto Xander's T-shirt as Xander placed his elbows on the arm of the couch beside William's head for balance. Wanting to continue what was left the other night, Xander balanced awkwardly on his knees in front of the cross legged in front of him, grabbed a fistful of William's T-shirt at the front and slid an arm around William's waist. With that, Xander fell backwards, dragging William along, placing both of his legs between the Brit's as they quickly scrambled to become uncrossed. William blushed even deeper when they ended up with Xander lying down and he straddling his hips.

Uncertain now, Xander sat up, propping him up. "This isn't too girly, right? I don't want you, y'know, feeling less manly or anything." William mutely shook his head, before kissing Xander as hard as possible. Xander let out a muffled cry of surprise, before he tilted his head to deepen the kiss, moaning as William's hand became entangled in his hair. Xander lay back down and William went with him, not breaking the kiss. As William adjusted himself to the new position, Xander felt his own arousal grow, figuratively and literally, wrapping his arms around William's slimmer waist.

With that, Xander tilted his body so that his back was pressed up against the back of the sofa, and William went onto his side as well, breaking off the kiss. Careful, so that they didn't fall and crash into the coffee table (no matter how funny that may be), Xander rolled on top of William, shifting them so that they didn't have to worry about gravity dragging them down to the depth of the floor. William smirked, despite the blushing that had settled down to start up a new kind of eternal skin colour, lifting his knees, which Xander's legs were settled between.

Xander kissed him again, with all the intent of someone not wanting the kiss to stop, feeling William wrap his arms around Xander's neck. Xander ran under William's shirt, across the Brit's abdomen, loving the warmth and feel of William's scrawny frame beneath his broader one. Too bad breathing was a factor. Xander broke away, both boys panting slightly. "We need to stop, or we'll both have to have c-cold showers, erm, f-for a month," William stammered, looking way too cute with his hair mussed and glasses askew, trying to say a sentence that implied and mentioned both of their arousal.

Xander grinned, kissing him briefly. "And what'll happen if we, say, don't stop?"

"Um..." William sounded distracted, probably because of the way Xander was kissing his neck. "W-we'll have to-to have cold showers f-for every day of this m-month, as mentioned. And perhaps be sent to hell, depending on your god," he added sarcastically.

"I meant before that, nimrod," Xander insulted lightly, earning a small whap on the back of his head anyway. "Nowish, kinda. Like, if we don't stop, what'll we be doing in the next ten minutes?" he went back to kissing William's neck, tongue flicking out now and then.

"W-well, what would you, erm, like to do?"

"What do you want me to do?" Man, when did he get this suave?

"Nothing I'm not uncomfortable with." Damn, William was good at this game. Ah well. Time for here's Johnny' kind of subtle.

"What about this?" Xander kept kissing his neck, just to hide the pulsing red blush on his face, as he pushed his hand onto William's thigh – under the Brit's track suit pants and boxers. Imagining what Xander would like done to him, he started massaging it, hand inching towards the centre of William's arousal.

"Oh...ah...oh..." Was all William said.

"I think he'd like to buy a vowel, ladies and gents," Xander joked, lifting his head to kiss William softly, removing his hand before it could get any closer. "Tell you what," he said after the kiss, "how about we stop now, settle for cold showers for a month straight and not get sent to hell, depending on our god?"

"Sounds good to me," William said weakly, as Xander climbed off of him. "But, wait, Xander..." Xander stopped from where he was standing, about to walk away and get dressed into actual clothes, not just his sleep wear. "Next time, we don't have to stop. Okay, maybe not next time, after that, perhaps, or more so in the future, but..."

"Yeah," Xander said, comprehending. "Whenever we're both..."

"Ready," finished William. They shared a companionable smile, before Xander walked off to get dressed.

---

Xander grinned dopily as he rode down the streets of Sunnydale, his sleep over bag hanging precariously off of his shoulder and resting on the rack behind him on his bike. His lips still burned in a good way from the goodbye kiss William had given him, just outside of his house, in full view of anyone who might've walked passed, though no one did, but that wasn't the point. Humming the Lion King themes under his breath, Xander turned a sharp corner, almost running over a couple off teenagers walking down. After a few more minutes, he was home, and his dopey in-love feeling ebbed away as he rested his bike against the side of the house, hearing familiar yells.

Sighing, Xander grabbed his bag and opened the door that was unlocked, the volume of his parents' fighting heightening as he did so. "The story of my life," he muttered as he shut it behind him. But no, that wasn't true. William was another chapter, and that didn't consist of yelling, of drunken threats or of insults and lies. Even the vampire hunting section was a lot more fin than this. Xander walked down the hall, kicked open his door, threw his stuff inside before trudging to the kitchen.

He poured himself a glass of water, leaning against the bench as he sipped at it, staring at the door that led into the living room, where his parents were yelling at each other. His mother's shrieks were nothing compared to his father's roars. Xander sighed again, downing the water before starting out towards his room, where he could play music loudly and surf the net, just as the door banged open, his mother, Jessica, stomping in, looking more furious than scared, as Tony followed in, his face red, sweating profusely from being so inebriated.

"Don't walk away from me, you little ungrateful cunt!" Tony yelled, and Xander winced at his least favourite word, one he had learned at age seven and had sworn never to use. He still hadn't, though, when his father was drunk enough and angry enough, the word and other ones like it spouted out like water from a tap.

"Ungrateful for what, Tony?" yelled Jessica, turning her back on Xander to face Tony. "For slaving away? For watching you get shitfaced in front of the TV? You asshole, you have no idea the hell I go through for you!" The yelling was worse, somehow. Both adults were roaring drunk, and louder and meaner, now.

Xander started backing towards the exit, wringing his hands so that they didn't tremble so badly. "You need me, you bitch, and if I didn't have a son who needed to be taken care of, or a household that needs cleans, or maybe a good fuck once and a while, I'd leave, right now!"

"God, I hate you," whispered Jessica, but Tony was too plastered to hear it. Xander did. Trying not to cry from sheer despair, he ran out of the kitchen, out of the house, grabbed his bike and was pedalling furiously down the streets in a matter of seconds, letting the tears flow but refusing to actually cry. In record time, he was back at William's house again, only now, in the driveway, was a beautiful silver car, some sort of pretty European style. This indicated that his parents were home. Xander wondered if they ever fought like his own parents did.

Hesitant now, Xander rode down the path up to the door, set his bike against the wall and rang the bell. As soon as he did, he suddenly realised himself, and wiped away his tears, just as it opened. William looked at him curiously, dressed in grey jeans and a white T-shirt, letting him in. "Xander, what are you – no, I mean, what's wrong?" he asked as Xander walked in, unable to stop trembling.

"I just need some where to hang for a while, if that's okay," Xander said uncertainly.

"That's fine, Xander, what happened?" asked William, reaching over to touch Xander's cheek, when someone entered the entrance hall, causing the boy to jerk it back. "Oh, um." Xander looked over, and blinked. It was obviously that he was looking at William's mother – the same eyes, the same mouth, though she was a little bit fleshier, not so chiselled. And she was scary in the way that primary teachers are scary. She wore a dress suit, that would be sensible if it wasn't a violent blue, to the skirt wasn't so short, revealing very well sculptured legs, shown off with strappy, yellow high heeled shoes. Her hair was wavy, like William's, and dyed a brilliant red. The woman seemed to be entirely made up of primary colours, and she smiled wildly, looking cheerful, despite the black circles around her eyes, a universal indicator of a hangover.

"Hello," she said, "William, who's your friend?" Her accent was exactly William's. She walked over, her heels clopping on the tiles like a horse's hoofs, holding out her hand for Xander to shake. He glanced at her long nails, painted blue like her suit.

"Mum, Xander, Xander, Anne Wyther, my mother," William said shortly, looking anywhere but at them, as if he were embarrassed by his mother's clothes and appearance.

Unsure, as if approaching a rattlesnake, Xander took her hand and shook it firmly. "Hi, Mrs. Wyther," he said meekly.

"Ha!" she said, waving her other hand. "Call me Annie, I do hate formalities, there are none in this house. Are you a school friend? Ah you part of the Will/Tara/Charles/Faith quartet I get bombarding this house so often? Is it now a Will/Tara/Charles/Faith/Xander quintet? Is your full name Alexander? Where were you before Sunnydale?"

Annie reminded Xander of a very colourful, very friendly, very enthusiastic machine gun.

"Um, yes, yes, yes, yes, L.A," he answered, striving to answer them all and succeeding.

"Oh, lovely, I do like Los Angeles, so many shoes," she said, letting go of his hand. Xander glanced over at William, who had a lord-smite-me-with-lightning-bolts-NOW expression. "I got this one pair that were about four inches high and completely glass. Damn things so expensive, so impractical, but I just had to buy them. I've sold a couple of dresses at the same store, in fact. Yes, L.A, very nice place indeed. I got a few things sent over from there when we were living in England, some three-quarter length trousers, very popular in the summer, went great with the glass shoes, very retro-Cinderella. Dear me, that collection was utterly fabulous, no idea why it didn't become popular."

"Mother?" interrupted William, sounding desperate.

"Hm?" She turned her attention to her son, saw his expression and burst into a fit of giggles. "Oh, silly me, babbling on, you're probably bored silly. Now, I'm sure you boys would like to do whatever it is teenagers do these days without the likes of any adult interrupting, so I'll just go and change my underwear, the party last night was slightly wild. Bye!" With that, she flounced off.

A silence filled the room, and William had an eternally humiliated expression on his face. Xander broke into a grin. "You're mom is so cool!" he exclaimed, earning a death glare from his boyfriend. Xander's laughter echoed in the large room.

---

Xander felt the bed tilt as William sat down beside him, a warm hand massaging the nape of his neck softly. He looked up from where he was staring at the carpet, staring at William who tilted his head, confused. "Tell me what happened," the Brit requested. Xander looked away, glancing around the interior of William's bedroom, where they both sat on the edge of his eternally unmade bed. The computer on the desk across from him was on and displaying the Hotmail main web page, a half finished cup of tea still lightly steaming next to the mouse pad. Xander sighed, turning back to William, shrugging.

"Parent stuff," he said vaguely. "They were arguing, figured I should get out of the line of fire for a while." William nodded slowly, obviously unsure of what to say to that. "They were kinda drunk, and I didn't wanna get in the middle of it." Xander saw the flash of undisguised sympathy in William's eyes, and he sighed, leant over for a soft, lingering kiss, then added: "Don't pity me."

"What? No, I don't- I didn't-"

"You do so," Xander interjected, with a quirk of a smile. "Everyone nice enough does if they find out. Just don't, it's not really what I need right now."

"What do you need, then?"

"Just somewhere to crash for the day, ooh, and then we can go vamp hunting later on, nothing like a spot of violence to rid you of angst!" He gave the kind of grin that a man on a coffee ad might, earning a short, unsure laugh from William. "Or we could go to the Bronze and get plastered on caffeine."

William winced, looking regretful. He drew his hand away. "Mum doesn't like me going to the Bronze on Sunday nights, just before the start of the school week, sorry," he said. Xander shrugged. "Hungry?"

"After the loaded plate breakfast we had today, washed down by a very big cup of hot chocolate?" Xander asked sceptically, then grinned. "Starving."

---

"You look so drab, like a rainy day in London," Annie was saying as her son pawed through the pantry in search for something unhealthy. "All greys, and blacks if you think I don't notice." William turned to give her a look before resuming his task. "Honestly, one of these days I'm going to burn every single item of clothing you own that's colourless."

"Or you could do something more useful, like shop for a bag of Oreos, or a bag of crisps," William argued, "Lord, we have absolutely nothing in here."

Xander, who was sitting at the breakfast bar where he had been given pancakes only a few hours ago, was trying not to laugh, and wasn't making a very good job of it. Annie glanced at him with a pretty smile and a wink, indicating she was planning to annoy her son as much as possible. This only sent Xander into a few hopeless, quiet chuckles. She had dressed down into jeans and a bright yellow peasant styled shirt, her fire red hair swept up in a ponytail. She lent against the bench next to the pantry, a half-finished cigarette between two fingers.

"We have plenty, William," she argued, taking a drag out of the cigarette, "look, jam, flour, sugar, eggs-"

"If I were planning on making a strawberry danish, than yes, we're well stocked," William interrupted sarcastically. "Aha!" He pulled out a bag of chocolate chip biscuits. "Amazing what you find if you look hard enough." He opened it and offered one to Annie, who took one, before he settled down on the stool next to Xander, who happily grabbed a few.

"Anyway, I don't see why you insist on wearing clothes that make you look like a black and white motion picture," Annie continued. "You shouldn't be afraid of colour, dear, Lord knows I'm not."

"We can see that, Mother," William said, deadpanned. "Besides, it all your fault, y'know, if you didn't make me wear all of those designs every school day, maybe I wouldn't be scared of colour. Now, I'm completely traumatised."

"I just want some of my work out in the open," she said, holding up her hands in a defensive gesture, her blue eyes wide with innocence. "Besides, I think they look very smart on you."

"I'm also a laughing stock."

"Only by unfashionable people, dear."

"Yes well-" William didn't bother finishing the sentence, as he looked over at Xander and kicked him in the shin. "Stop laughing, it isn't funny," he said with mock firmness. Xander continued to laugh happily as he got more cookies out of the bag.

"Oh, that reminds me, I have a present for you, Will," Annie said, walking over to get more cookies as well. William eyed her warily, and when he didn't answer, she continued. "Just a coat that I had imported from New York."

"Oh God, what colour is it?" William asked, looking fearful.

"Black," she said, with a flicker of a smirk. William looked about ready to drop the half-eaten cookie he held in his hand. His eyebrows furrowed, and he tilted his head.

"Who are you and what have you done with my mother?" he asked.

"Well if that's your attitude, I think I'll withhold it from you for a while, until you're dying with curiosity," she said impishly. William opened his mouth to object, when Annie turned to Xander. "So, dear, what is your interest in fashion?" Xander gaped, not sure on how to answer this.

"Um, non-existent?" he answered.

"Good, a teenage boy at your age would be considered a wanker for taking interest in fashion at this day and age," Annie said, and Xander grinned. He really liked her.

---

Xander watched as Angelus walked into the woods, retreating from the Scoobies. "Hey, we should go after him," Xander said, looking around the group. William handed him something – Angelus's ring. Where did everyone else go? They leaned in for a brief but smouldering kiss, and William wrapped Xander's hand around the silver ring.

"Go after him yourself," the Brit advised, stepping back. Before Xander knew what he what he was doing, he was running through the forest after Angelus, heart pumping so hard that it took up the sounds of his feet stomping through the greenery and foliage. Thin branches whipped out, hitting him in the face no matter how hard he tried to protect himself from it.

"Don't walk away from me, you little ungrateful cunt!"

His father's voice rang in his ears – it only made him run faster. "Don't pity me," he whispered.

"Welcome to the Hellmouth, I'm sure you'll make loads of friends!" Faith's sarcastically cheerful words echoed through the trees, and suddenly, Xander wasn't sure if he was running in the right direction anymore.

"Ungrateful for what, Tony? For slaving away? For watching you get shitfaced in front of the TV? You asshole, you have no idea the hell I go through for you!" His mother's shrieks came from the right, so Xander veered left, bounding over a fallen log, the forest even darker than before.

"Isn't kissing more common to boys and girls rather than boys and boys?" Yeah, that's it, run, to William. Xander's shoulder brushed against a tree's trunk, and he almost fell, but he kept running, unsure of where we was running to. Or from.

"What's the matter? Miss me?" Buffy's impish remark filled his senses, and Xander closed his eyes for a second. All noises were gone, except for his heartbeats, and all he saw was black, and her, standing there, smirking, dressed all in black. Buffy through back her head, laughed, before turning a yellow eyed glare to him, mouth wide and fangs glistening. Then, Xander opened his eyes, and he tripped over an unearthed root of a tree, and fell.

Suddenly, fluorescent lights and sun through a window replaced the dark of the night. His mother and father stood, glaring at each other, Tony red faced and sweating, eyes bulging furiously as he shouted at his wife. "You need me, you bitch, and if I didn't have a son who needed to be taken care of, or a household that needs cleans, or maybe a good fuck once and a while, I'd leave, right now!"

"God, I hate you."

Xander turned away at his mother's words, walking towards the door, passing between them. He yanked it open, and looked out into the dark woods. Xander was about to turn back into the house when he heard the shatter of glass, another drunken yell of frustration from his father, the sobbing that had started from his mother. Gritting his teeth, Xander ran blindly into the night time forest, holding up his hands to stop the branches from whipping his face.

"That's what you were implying, wasn't it? That my best friend was killed and drained by some blood-sucking fictional character?"

His own words repeated back to him.

"Not a fictional character, boy." Xander stopped and turned to see Angelus there, leaning against a tree, smirking. "I'm as real as the bruises your mom gets every week or so. As real as Buffy Anne Summers' tombstone. As real as the blood you'll be spilling."

"What blood?" he asked numbly.

"That's up to you," Angelus answered cryptically. Xander glared, before rushing passed him, wanting to get back home...well, maybe somewhere else, but he wanted out of the forest.

Suddenly, he stumbled out of the thick of the woods and into a clearing. Vampires, at least thirty of them, standing around in a circle, game faces on, all ignoring Xander like he was invisible. Angelus stood in the middle, flanked by Buffy and two other male vampires Xander didn't recognise – one blonde, one dark haired. Looking around widely at the huge amount of vampires, Xander quickly slid back into the shadows, gripping onto a branch. He gasped and pulled away, as the rough wood had cut a shallow slice into his hand, and fresh blood trickled down his arm. Gulping, he turned his eyes back to the scene, taking in more detail.

They all wore black – oh, the originality. Buffy was clothed in a very gothic dress of silk and lace, with a sash made of the same material resting on her head like a veil. She looked deadly and beautiful – a look Xander would never have pinned for his oldest of friends. He remembered the days when she'd come to school with her hair in cheerful French braids and wearing pink and blue. Broadly grinning, voice always laughing, arms widespread and asking for a hug...

"Tell me," Angelus was saying to the vampires, snapping Xander out of his own memories, "what do we want? To end the world, and all of existence, and ourselves with it?" There was a murmur, though Xander wasn't sure of what the vampires were in favour of. He watched as Buffy's flickered over towards Angelus, a devilish smirk on her lips. "No, of course not," the dark vampire snapped, drawing a deep silence from the vampires around him who gazed at him respectfully, yellow eyes glowing in the darkness. "We want progress, as well as keeping the old ways of vampires." There was a collective nod, also from the two vampires flanking him. Xander set his eyes on the blonde of the two and he stared back, blue-green eyes locked with his. Suddenly, William's voice whispered through the trees.

"The sun, it shines down towards him, Like Heaven's opening, like a yellow grin. Tall, sandy hair, green eyes, sea-deep dye, Voice to die for, to fall asleep by. Love cannot be contained in a mere wink, But it's this that he conveys, missed in a blink." That poem...no, William couldn't have been talking about a vampire, of all boys... And besides, it clearly states that the sun shone down on William's past crush, and that couldn't happen to a vampire without it getting all dusty, right?

Trying to block out these worrisome thoughts, Xander turned his focus back to Angelus. "Maybe it's just me, but I don't want to listen to some wrinkled bastard who rules from the depths of the sewers, now do I?" Angelus asked rhetorically, earning some nervous laughter. "No. But we'll take a leap forward for vampiric kind. We'll just do it a lot more efficiently than he ever could." More nervous laughter. "So, here's what I want you to do for me," Angelus said, more business like. "Bring me the Slayer. I've sized her up; I know her better now. She has one weakness that I can tell – her friends. Remember this. Now go."

At once, the vampires started to depart. The two that flanked him glanced at each other, back at Angelus, before turning to leave as well, disappearing into the shadows. Xander bit his bottom lip and glared as the blonde one glanced back, eyes locking with Xander's for one more fleeting moment before he disappeared into darkness.

Rolling his eyes, Xander focused back onto the vampiric duo in the middle of the clearing. Buffy smiled enticingly and walked towards Angelus, hips swaying, green eyes sparkling. "I have no idea about any of this mystic stuff, but it sounds pretty cool. Think it'll work?" she asked, playfully running a finger down his jaw.

Suddenly, he grabbed it in a bone-crushing grip, the young girl wincing visibly. "It'll work," Angelus said firmly, before devouring her mouth in a ferocious and seemingly painful kiss. Gritting his teeth, the cut on his palm throbbing, Xander closed his eyes, willing himself to wakefulness. Opening his eyes again, the gloom of the woods became a grey, grey and black blur.

It wasn't a sudden awakening. Xander just opened his eyes to find himself staring at the ceiling, legs tangled in his sheets and his T-shirt damp from sweat. Shuddering, his mind slowly woke up, striving to part his dream from reality, trying to remember that lying in bed wasn't part of that chase through the woods. Closing his eyes again, he rolled to his side, trying to will the images away. They'd been so vivid – William's words of poetry still seemed to ring in his ears, and while the sound of his boyfriend's voice was somewhat comforting, it was also eerie.

The cold of the woods still left a chill in Xander's spine, the scent of the dirt still lingering, the throb in his hand from the cut still throbbing away like hell... "Wait," he whispered. Shaking, Xander sat up and switched on his bedside lamp to inspect his hand. A deep red line ran down his palm, and though it had stopped bleeding, it still ached.

"The hell...?" He ran a finger down the cut, heart thudding heavily, and Xander glanced around warily, as if someone was going to walk in at any moment and complain about the racket his heartbeats were making. Unsure if this occurrence was news worthy to the point of ringing up at that moment or not, Xander slid back down under his sheets after turning off the light. Balling his hand into a fist, as if to dull the pain of the cut, he closed his eyes, remembering the image of Buffy and Angelus standing there, in his dream, locked together in a brutal kiss. This memory sparked an anger inside of Xander that he had felt only once or twice before in his life – a hatred so intense that he doubted he'd getting any sleep that night.

Then, there was the blonde vampire William had written about. Yeah, what's up with that?' Xander thought to himself, scary and disturbing images vanishing with the thought of the rather good looking sandy-haired vampire that had apparently captured William's heart and some stage or another. A flicker of something else flared up amongst the hatred for Angelus and the demon Buffy had become...was it jealousy? Ludicrous, but possible, it seemed. The cut on Xander's hand and the too vivid dream was momentarily forgotten as he drifted off into a restless sleep with one thought imprinted in his mind:

Would he write a poem for me?'

~~~

Hey, I hope that was satisfying for you lot. Hopefully chapter eight won't take me as long (though I'm going away for ten days, so don't except anything until after then). Yes, we will find out who this mysterious blonde vampire is, just not yet. I love cliff hangers (except when reading them) so shoot me. Anyway, I apologise so much for taking so long to get this one done, and thanks for your patience.