"Not that you really need to know this, but the Cullens officially think we're doing the nasty," Xander stated, not looking up from his homework.
"They think we're what?" Jacob demanded in a harsh whisper, conscious of the fact that Rory was sleeping on the same floor.
"Doing the nasty." Xander glared down at the Algebra problem that was clearly mocking him. "I told them we weren't, but you know how that goes. People usually take denial as confirmation." Xander cleared his throat and looked up at Jacob through his lashes. "You're not, uh, mad that they think that, are you?"
Jacob was clearly blushing as he shrugged. He turned away from Xander and looked out the window, one finger fidgeting with the latch as though he wanted to open it and disappear.
"I shouldn't have said anything," Xander said. "Look, it's no big deal. You don't even like the Cullens, so what do you care about what they think? Nothing is going on between us-"
"That's kind of the problem," Jacob interrupted.
"What do you mean?"
"I..." Jacob sighed. "I would do anything for you and I think you know that. And, honestly, this isn't entirely the imprint talking. You need me to be a friend and somewhat of a protector right now. You need me to help you feel safe with this whole mess with your dad. I get that, but...I guess a small part of me is always hoping for something more. I kind of want what those leeches assume we have."
Xander looked back down at his textbook and swallowed. "Oh."
"Sorry. I should, uh, go," Jacob said quickly.
"Wait, Jacob, you don't have to go," Xander insisted. He climbed off the bed and walked over to Jacob's side. "I like you." He winced at the hopeful look that flashed across Jacob's face. "I like you a lot more than I thought I could, but I'm not ready for...that. And, I'm sorry, but I can't promise that I'll ever be ready."
"But...you're implying there's a chance?" Jacob asked.
"Well...yeah, I guess so." Xander had a feeling that he would probably end up giving into the small desires he had to touch Jacob, but he wasn't about to tell Jacob that. He blamed seeing Jacob in wolf form for the feelings he was developing. It was easier than admitting to himself that he was slowly falling for the other guy. "Maybe you shouldn't dwell on that, though. I don't want you getting all depressed over me."
Jacob smiled slightly. "Xander, I could never get depressed over you, just over what you have to go through."
"Oh well, yeah," Xander fumbled, unsure of how to respond. He never knew how to talk to Jacob when Jacob got like this. He understood it was the imprint, but it was still strange to have someone look at him and talk to him like he was worth something. "Listen, I do appreciate everything you're doing for me. I think you and your pack are taking my fear of my father a little too seriously, but I do appreciate it. I don't want you to ever think I'm taking this for granted."
He shifted from foot to foot, before suddenly moving forward and pulling Jacob into a brief hug. Then his cleared his throat nervously and turned back toward his bed. He could practically feel Jacob grinning at him.
"So, uh, know anything about Algebra?"
Xander looked at the clock and let out a long, dramatic sigh. Time was evil. When you wanted things to last forever, it sped up. When you wanted things to hurry up, it slowed down. Xander was certain that a demon was controlling time, because otherwise he'd already be greeting his friends with open arms.
"Stop fidgeting," Rory said with a slight smile. "You look like you need to piss."
"I haven't got to see my friends in forever!" Xander whined, leaning back on the sofa. "Are you sure they can't stay here?"
"I'm not letting two girls sleep in your bedroom," Rory told him, eyes focused on the television. "And while I did like that librarian of yours, I don't really want to have him in my house. They'll be fine at the motel."
"I know, I know," Xander replied. "This is just taking forever. Maybe Giles' crappy car broke down. He doesn't know how to use a cell phone! They could be stranded-"
"Didn't that Willow girl teach you how to use yours? I'm pretty sure she knows her way around technology."
"Stop being so reasonable," Xander grumbled, ignoring his uncle's chuckle. He sat there for a few more minutes, before leaping to his feet. "I'm going to call Jacob."
"You've been spending a lot of time with that boy," Rory commented in a casual tone as Xander headed for the stairs. Xander paused with one foot poised to step up. He considered ignoring his uncle and heading to his room, but he knew that wasn't a good idea. With a deep breath, he turned on his heal and walked back over to the sofa. Rory glanced at him. "I'm not saying that's a bad thing, really."
"He's my friend," Xander offered. When Rory turned to fully look at him, Xander felt a jolt of subconscious fear run through him. He immediately pushed it down, reminding himself that Rory was not his father and wouldn't resort to violence over the slightest, nonexistent excuse. "He's, uh, just my friend."
Rory stared at him for a moment, before cursing under his breath. "You're gay, aren't you?"
"What? No! I'm not...why would you think that? Why does everyone think that?" Xander demanded. "I'm not gay! I don't...I mean, Jacob and I..."
Rory let out a harsh breath. "Calm down."
"No! I'm not going to calm down," Xander insisted. "Just because all of my friends are girls doesn't mean that I'm gay. I'm not. I'm just...Shit."
"It's not the end of the world," Rory said. "I don't agree with that...sort of thing, but you're not really my son so it's not like I have any real say in it. They're always claiming it's not a choice, anyway. Not that I entirely believe that, but...I want you to be happy. I have to admit that you have been happier since you started hanging out with that Indian boy."
"Is this one of those moments where you're implying that I could probably get away with anything right now due to how my life was with my parents?" he asked.
"Hardly," Rory said with an expression that matched the one that often crossed Xander's face. It was a mix of annoyance, amusement, and uncertainty. "I'm just saying you can be honest with me. I'm not going to jump for joy over it and I'll probably lay some ground rules down, but I'm not going to freak out on you if you tell me the truth."
"What's the point, when you already think you know what's going on?"
"Just tell me what actually is going on, Alexander," Rory ordered.
Xander slumped down in his seat and stared at his shoes. "I might like Jacob, just a little. Nothing is going on, though. We really are just friends."
"For the moment," Rory added, scowling. Xander opened his mouth to refute Rory's words. "I'm old, but not blind. I can see the way he looks at you." Rory watched him a moment. "Don't look so scared. I trust you to tell me the truth. When your friends leave, though, we will be having a conversation on some rule changes. Including the fact that Jacob is no longer allowed in your room with the door shut."
Xander flushed a bright red. "Yeah, okay."
The first thing he noticed about Willow was the scent of her hair, just before her body impacted with his own as she threw herself at him in a hard hug. Laughing, Xander held her tightly, one arm reaching out to pull Buffy into the embrace. He took a moment to enjoy the feel of his friends, the fact that they were actually there with him, before he looked up in order to grin at Giles.
"I think you've gained weight," Buffy commented, pulling back.
"Are you calling me fat?" he asked.
"Have you gotten taller?" Willow demanded before Buffy could respond.
"It's only been two months, guys," he said with a bright grin. "I'm the same old Xander."
"Maybe, maybe not," Buffy said, looking at him intently.
"You guys have only been here for five minutes," Xander pointed out. "I doubt that's enough time for your to psychoanalyze my personality and growth."
"So, when do we get to meet Jacob?" Willow asked. "And that Edward guy?"
"Yeah, I wouldn't mind striking fear into the hearts of a new breed of vampire," Buffy said with a grin that was more sharp than happy. Xander rolled his eyes. You could take the Buffy out of Sunnydale, but you couldn't take the Slayer out of her. Xander paused at that thought and frowned, realizing it made no sense. "You've got that funny look on your face that indicates you're thinking something ridiculous."
"Giles, are you going to let them get away with interrogating me like this?" Xander complained.
"Of course he is," Willow said. "He's had to deal with us for, like, ever. We can't torment Oz or Angel, since neither one of them get annoyed easily. Poor Giles has been getting the Xander treatment along with the usual stuffy Watcher treatment."
"In that case, he should be used to it by now," he said. "So go back to bugging him."
"We really should be getting to the motel," Giles piped up. "It's late and we have to start searching Port Angeles for information on the demon we're here to slay."
"Work, work, work," Buffy complained. "I'm on vacation, Giles!"
"There has already been a large case of animals disappearing. It could be people next," Giles began in a tone of voice that indicated he had already gone over this.
"You'd think Forks would be talking about it, since Port Angeles isn't that far away," Xander commented. "And Jacob hasn't mentioned his pack coming across anything."
"Speaking of Jacob, when do we get to meet him?" Willow asked yet again.
"Later," Xander said.
"Or now," Buffy stated, her gaze focused on the darkness that spread out behind Rory's house. Xander fought the urge to curse and knew that since it was nightfall that one of the pack would be just past the treeline. And it also meant that there was probably a vampire hanging out in Bella Swan's bedroom. "There's something in the woods."
"It might not be Jacob," Xander told them. "I told you about the pack watching this area, thanks to Jacob's imprint induced paranoia. There's a good chance it's Paul, which could only lead to a fight, albeit probably a hilarious one."
"You're introducing us," Buffy stated, grabbing his hand and dragging him around the house. The others followed, looking amused, and Xander officially hated his life. He should have known that Buffy would insist on meeting any member of the La Push pack, regardless of whether it was Jacob or not. Especially if they were hanging outside his house every night. He loved his girls, but sometimes they were just as overprotective as a shape-shifter with an imprint.
"This can only end in tears," Xander whined as they entered the woods.
"Alright, wolfboy, time to show your face!" Buffy called out.
There was distinct shuffling off to the side and less than a minute later a human figure was stepping between the trees. It wasn't Jacob Black.
"Oh my," Willow said in a breathy little voice that caused Xander to glanced over just in time to see her face turn bright red.
"I prefer the term wolfgirl," Leah Clearwater stated, crossing her arms. She was in the tiniest pair of cut off shorts Xander had ever seen and her tank top wasn't covering much either. She turned to Xander with a scowl on her face. "Don't you know the meaning of a secret? Didn't that idiot Jacob tell you not to tell anyone?"
"I didn't...I mean, he...crap," Xander tried to explain. "Jacob knows that they know, okay? He didn't seem too upset about it, because they already know about the stuff that exists in the world. They know about the Cullens, too."
Leah narrowed her eyes and looked like she was about to leap into a full out rant.
"Aren't you cold?" Willow blurted out, her face still red as her eyes focused on...Xander blinked in shock as he realized she was staring at the tan expanse of Leah's stomach. Clearly, Willow and he were overdue for a little chat, because he didn't remember her ever looking at a girl like that before.
Leah stared back at Willow for a moment, eyes looking far too intense for Xander's liking, before she smile slightly. "My body temperature runs pretty high, so it's not like I'll catch the flu or anything."
"Can we hold off on the you telling Sam I let out your secret and him killing me thing?" Xander asked.
"He won't kill you," Leah stated, sounding for all the world as though she wished Sam would. "You're Jacob's imprint and apparently that means the entire pack has to protect you. Killing you would be counterproductive."
"Well, I guess that's a relief."
"What's with you, anyway? You feel weird," Leah asked bluntly, turning her gaze to Buffy. "Actually, you all do. I just thought it was dopey over there."
"Yet another strike for the Sunnydale team," Xander said. "You can leave the Sunnydale in California-"
"Wait, what do you mean I feel weird?" Buffy demanded. "Usually it's just vampires that get all oogy around me."
"Oogy?" Leah repeated, smirking slightly. "Nice language you guys have."
"I wonder if that means the Cullens can feel you, too," Xander mused.
"It's perfectly plausible," Giles said. "The negative energy of Sunnydale has probably tainted us, so outsiders who are sensitive to that sort of thing would probably feel the difference."
"Magic, it gets you every time," Willow said, nodding sagely.
Leah eyed Willow once more, who blushed an even brighter red, before shaking her head with a sigh. "Can I get back to my patrol now? Jacob will be here tomorrow night and you all can ambush him then. If he doesn't get in trouble for not keep secrets like he should, that is."
"Alright, Willow, talk," Xander ordered as the duo walked down the small town of Forks in search of food, while Buffy and Giles waited at the motel. Giles was probably forcing Buffy to prepare for the upcoming battle, though Xander wasn't entirely what it was that they were supposed to be fighting.
"About what?" Willow asked, face carefully blank.
"You're not fooling me, I saw how you were reacting to Leah," Xander said. He paused, slightly uncomfortable. "Are things going okay with Oz?"
"Yeah, things are fine," Willow insisted. "Look, I'm just...I don't know. Can I, uh, ask you something?"
"Are you gay?"
Xander stopped walking and let out a long breath. "I don't think so? I mean, I don't really like guys, not really. I just like Jacob. I've found some guys to be attractive, but I never wanted to do things with them. I kind of want to with Jacob, though. Why?"
"I've just been thinking, that's all," Willow replied. "Do you think it's possible to like both genders? Because I love Oz, I really do. I've just been having these occasional feelings towards girls here lately."
"Like when you were staring at Leah."
"Yeah," Willow said in a small voice.
Xander immediately wrapped his arm around Willow's shoulders and thought about what she said. He considered his own feelings toward Jacob and the fact that for the most part he was mostly attracted to women. "Willow, I definitely think it's possible to like both. Just, you know, don't act on it because that would really hurt Oz."
Willow nodded. "I know. Thanks, Xander."
"That's what I'm here for," he said brightly. "Now, let's get those burgers before Buffy starts eating Giles' books."
What happened the next day was all Edward's fault. Xander would hold to this belief for all eternity and there was nothing Edward could do or say to sway him of this. After all, Edward could read minds. Edward knew his friends were at his house, minus Giles who was researching local legends and perusing the newspaper archives of the Port Angeles Post. So, Edward should have known to not be leaning against his Volvo that afternoon, looking like he had just stepped out of a car advertisement.
"Who is that?" Buffy asked, her mouth twisting. He knew exactly what she was feeling at that moment. No doubt she already knew Edward was a vampire, which triggered the ick factor, but he was also handsome. Or so most people thought. Xander might have thought the occasional guy was attractive, but Edward never fell into that category. Jasper, definitely, but not Edward.
When Edward turned his head to glare at him, it was clear he had been reading Xander's thoughts.
"That would be Edward Cullen," Xander said.
"Oh, really," Buffy said with a slow smile. "I've got to meet this guy."
"Try not to mutilate him," Xander said as Willow and him followed her over. "He can be annoying, but it's not worth the trouble."
Edward's visible glare turned harder, before slipping into a pleasant mask as he turned to the girls. "Ladies. I take it you're Xander's friends from Sunnydale?"
"Let's cut to the chase, shall we?" Buffy said, stepping up to the vampire. Edward had never really seemed large before, thanks to the presence of Emmett, but next to Buffy he looked like a mountain troll. Xander smirked when Edward shot him a dirty look. Buffy glanced between them and scowled. "See? That right there? You were reading his mind, weren't you?"
Edward was silent a moment, no doubt debating the intelligence behind lying to Buffy Summers. "Yes, I was."
"Right, well that's going to stop right now," Buffy snapped. "You're going to keep your vampiric little mind fingers out of Xander's head."
"It's not exactly something I can control," Edward said.
"Like hell it isn't," Buffy growled, taking another step forward. "I could hear lots of conversations if I was in a room with other people, but I don't pay attention to them. I don't listen in, unless it's important. You can choose to not pay attention."
"My apologies," Edward started.
"And don't start that old time talk with me, either," Buffy interrupted. "I know old time and you are not it. In fact, I'd say you were pretty young for a vampire, especially if you spend most of your time listening in on other people's thoughts like some kind of...some kind of..."
"Peeping Tom," Willow offered.
"Exactly! Peeping Tom!" Buffy said triumphantly.
"Xander, I thought we told you that our status as vampires was a secret," Edward said with a tired sounding sigh as he looked at Xander with what was probably meant to be disappointment.
"He can tell us whatever he likes," Willow said.
"Besides, he told you about demons," Buffy added.
"It's true, I did tell you about demons," Xander said, nodding. Edward scowled. "Don't get so bent out of shape, they already knew vampires existed."
"So I can see," Edward said, glancing at Buffy with a funny look on his face.
Buffy narrowed her eyes and took one last step closer. If Edward had been a normal vampire then he would have probably been running. She was clearly entering Slayer mode. "You're reading my mind right now, aren't you? Fine, you want to read my mind? Read this."
Edward stared at her, his eyes slowly growing wider. He opened his mouth to speak, but the sound of a door shutting caused them to look over to see Bella slowly walking toward them. Edward cleared his throat. "We'll discuss that bit of information later. Perhaps you'd like to meet my family? My father would be-"
"Enter a den of vampires? Yeah, right, I'm not that stupid," Buffy snorted.
"We're a family, not-"
"Family, den, whatever," Buffy interrupted. "It's all the same thing to me. Whether you live in a crypt or a nice big house, you're still vampires."
"Can we speak of this later?" Edward asked in a low voice as Bella got closer.
Buffy shot Bella an annoyed look, before shrugging. "Maybe."
"Uh, hi," Bella greeted timidly, immediately stepping into Edward's side. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. Xander fought the urge to roll his eyes. If Jacob ever tried any of that protective and yet domineering crap with him, they'd be finished within a minute. Not that they were in an actual relationship...yet...
Xander blinked and focused back on the conversation. "Bella, these are my friends from Sunnydale. Buffy, Willow? Meet Bella. Giles isn't here, he's off being researcher-y."
"It's nice to meet you," Bella replied. "What is he researching?"
"Oh, you know those history types," Xander said evasively, waving his hand around. "He's looking up the past or something."
"Something," Edward repeated with a frown.
"Nothing to worry your sparkly little head over," Buffy informed him. She turned toward Xander, effectively ignoring Edward and Bella. "Come on, Xander, let's get inside. You're supposed to be giving details about this Jacob Black fellow before we meet him tonight."
"You're seeing Jacob tonight?" Bella asked.
"Uh, yeah, he's coming over," Xander offered.
"Oh," Bella said. Xander raised an eyebrow. She blushed. "I just haven't seen him in a while, is all. Usually he's visiting me on weekends, even though Edward doesn't like it. I guess he spends time with you now, instead."
"Maybe he doesn't like feeling like he's competing for your attention," Buffy said. "Now if you'll excuse us."
"Buffy, that wasn't very nice," Willow said as they walked back toward Xander's house.
"Are you kidding me? Those two are in for a rude awakening," Buffy exclaimed, pushing the front door open. "I know what that sort of relationship is like. That girl might feel like a fairy princess right now, but it's not going to end pretty. Please tell me I wasn't like that when Angel and I were together?"
"Well..." Xander trailed off. He thought about that for a moment, wanting to make sure he gave her an honest answer.
"Of course you weren't," Willow insisted.
"Sometimes you got a little blindsided by him," Xander said, "but you never let Angel boss you around like Bella does with Edward. Unlike that girl, you were still an individual person with or without Angel at your side. And while I don't claim to like the big guy, I can admit Angel wasn't as much of a shitty douche-bag as Edward is, either."
"Language, Xander," Rory called as they passed the living room.
Willow was attempting to get Xander to learn how to pass Algebra without her constant tutoring when they heard a soft tap on the window. Buffy looked up from the magazine she was reading and raised an eyebrow. "So, Prince Charming really does come to your window?"
"I told you he did," Xander mumbled, trying to not blush as he got up to open his window and let Jacob in.
Buffy made a small, embarrassing noise when Jacob landed on his feet, wearing only a pair of cut off shorts and displaying his broad, tanned chest to the entire room. Xander scowled, feeling oddly annoyed that Buffy and Willow got to look at Jacob half-nude. He pushed the thought away quickly, before Jacob had time to zone in on his shift in mood like he had a habit of doing. "Guys, this is Jacob Black. Jacob, meet Buffy and Willow."
"Well, hello there," Buffy said with a slow grin. She winked at Xander. "I approve already."
"Really, Buffy? Really?" Xander asked, face growing hot from a blush.
"Yes, really," she said.
"It's nice to meet you, Jacob," Willow said, walking over to shake his hand. Just when Xander started to thank his lucky stars for having his Willow, who usually made a point to not embarrass him, she tugged Jacob down to eye level and narrowed her eyes. "If you hurt Xander, I'll beat you to death with a shovel."
"Uh, I thought he explained the imprint thing to you," Jacob replied with uncertainty.
"Oh, he did, I just thought I should make myself clear," Willow told him.
"I'd never intentionally hurt him," Jacob offered, shooting a glance in Xander's direction.
"Great!" Willow beamed.
"Anyway," Xander cut in, "Jacob, I need to talk to you."
He grabbed Jacob's arm, which felt more muscular that normal (a fact that Xander was sure was just an illusion in his head), and pulled him out into the hallway. He shut the door behind him and let out a slow breath of relief over no longer being under Buffy and Willow's scrutiny. "Man, I forgot how intense those two were."
"They care about you," Jacob said, shrugging.
"And your pack cares about you," he replied. "Look, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry if me letting your shape-shifter status slip got you into trouble. I know we never really talked about it, but I don't keep things from them and they already know about the spooky stuff that's in the world, so-"
"I'm not mad, so you can stop babbling," Jacob interrupted.
"Oh. So, did you? Get in trouble, I mean?"
"Sort of," Jacob said. "It's complicated. Sam's a little ticked off at me for it, but I think he understood in the end. I'll get the crappy places to patrol for a while, though."
"Good, I'm glad, uh, that it'll be okay," Xander said awkwardly. They stared at one another for a moment, before Xander ducked his head and cleared his throat. "We should get back in there before Buffy starts going through my things."
"Sure, sure," Jacob agreed, before reaching out and grabbing Xander's hand. "I just...umm..."
"You have no idea how slow I'm trying to take this," Jacob admitted, face turning red. "I'm trying to go at your pace, be whatever you need me to be, but a part of me just wants to touch you all the time."
He bit his lip, letting his brain process Jacob's words. "I, uh, think I could accept a little touching occasionally."
"How often is occasionally?" Jacob asked stepping forward.
"I think-" he started.
"Are you two done with your secret meeting or not?" Buffy demanded, opening the door. She took in their hands, which were still attached, and how Jacob seemed to be leaning into Xander's personal space. She winced. "Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. Sorry, Xander. Crap."
"It's fine," he said, gently tugging his hand out of Jacob's. "You didn't interrupt. We were just talking."
"Uh-huh," Buffy glanced between them and smirked. "Yeah, next time you're just talking, don't actually tell the person that catches you that. It just makes you look guilty."
It was Xander's first time in Port Angeles and he wasn't really impressed. It was like a less Hellmouthy version of Sunnydale, to be honest, and it left him kind of bored. The only thing that made this place appear dangerous were the heavy clouds that were threatening to rain. He let out a sigh and turned to Giles. "Are you sure there's a demon here? Because I haven't heard of any murders and such."
"Well, I'd hope so," Giles said, blinking behind his glasses, "considering there haven't been any."
"Just missing puppies," Willow said in a sad voice.
"When we say missing puppies do we mean completely missing or disappearing and showing up later...in pieces?" Buffy asked with a grimace.
"The first one, actually," Giles stated.
"Wow, no remains, huh? I guess that leaves out bears," Xander offered.
"Or wolves," Willow added.
"I was hoping we could interview the last owner to report a missing animal," Giles said as he led them through the small shopping district. "They own one of the consignment shops here. If we can figure out where the animal was last seen perhaps we can find some traces of magic or demonic activity that would be overlooked by local authorities."
"It doesn't really sound very dangerous, though, does it?" Willow commented. "As sad as it is that pets are going missing, it's not exactly life threatening."
"There's a good chance it will progress to humans," Giles explained. "It's best to catch it now before it gets out of hand."
"Hey, I'm all for getting the big bad before it has a chance to get all powerful," Buffy said brightly.
"Uh, guys," Xander called, pausing at the entryway to one of the town's moldy looking alleyways. "Is it just me, or is that dog acting really weird?"
"Why am I not surprised that Xander managed to stumble upon something that will make this a whole lot easier?" Buffy asked as they watched the dog. It looked like a spaniel, though Xander wasn't really focusing on that. No, he was watching the way the dog weaved it's way farther down the alley as though it were drunk, whimpering and stiff legged in a way that indicated it didn't want to be going wherever it was heading. Buffy glanced at them all and nodded. "I say we follow the dog."
So, they followed the dog. It didn't seem to notice that it had companions as it led them away from the town proper and toward the woods. Much like with Forks, once the trees started appearing in Port Angeles it was like they took over. One moment they were walking between two gift shops and the next they were in the forest. The dog led them through the trees, occasionally bumping into them. It's scared whimpering grew with each step it took until it brought them to the opening of a cave.
They quickly hid behind the trees, watching as the dog entered the cave. There was a loud roar, an animal's scream, and finally a puff of smoke.
Silently, they moved away from the cave to talk. Xander drew in a deep breath. "Okay, that was creepy."
"Whatever it was, I don't think it wanted a pet," Buffy said sadly.
"I must get back to the motel," Giles insisted, already walking toward the town. "This narrows down our demon alarmingly so, but I can't be certain until I look a couple of things up. Perhaps we could meet again tomorrow and go over whatever information I come up with?"
"You don't want us to help?" Willow asked.
"Willow," Buffy hissed, "shut up, he's giving us free time!"
"Err, right, well," Giles said, clearly ignoring Buffy. "I only have a few books to look over and I'm sure you want to spend time together-"
"In other words, he doesn't want to have to listen to you whine about it being vacation," Xander interrupted. "Come on, girls, it'll be fun! We can go for a hike or...go for a hike. There really isn't much to do in Forks, I'm afraid."
"No, but there is in Seattle and that's only, like, three and a half hours away," Buffy said with a slow grin.
"Oh God, you mean for shopping, don't you?" Xander complained.
"I'll let you bring your wolf," Buffy offered.
Xander woke the next morning bright and early, wishing he had never invited his friends to Forks. Whose idea was it to get up at seven in the morning on a Wednesday in the middle of Spring Break? Oh, right. It was Buffy's. She wanted to make the most of her day in Seattle, which meant leaving at the crack of dawn and coming home near midnight.
Xander could somewhat believe that he had agreed to go along. He knew what Buffy and Willow could do to a person who said no. He was just shocked Jacob had said he'd join them.
Groaning, Xander rolled out of bed and started the tedious process of getting ready. He was in the kitchen, busy stuffing food into his mouth, when Rory entered the room. "I still can't believe you're getting up this early to go shopping."
"Try telling those girls no," Xander said. It came out more as a whine than anything. "I'm just glad Jacob's going with us so I have someone to commiserate with."
"Don't use big words so early in the morning," Rory grunted, leaving the room. He came back a few minutes later and slapped two twenties on the table. "Here. In case of an emergency. Or, well, you can spend it on something else if you want. It's not like I give you an allowance. Just don't expect money every time you go shopping. This is just so those girls don't try to pamper you all day."
"Thanks." Xander smiled and was relieved to find he didn't feel weird about accepting the money. With his father he would have been waiting to see what the catch was. Maybe he was finally starting to relax.
"Yeah, well..." Rory trailed off as there was a knock on the door.
Xander moaned defeat and got to his feet, stuffing the money in his wallet as he did so. By the time he made it to the door the knocking became persistent. Sighing, he opened the door to see Buffy and Willow's grinning faces. "Don't be so happy this early in the morning."
"We're going shopping!" Buffy exclaimed, barely giving Xander enough time to grab his coat before she was dragging him out of the house and toward Giles' sad, beat-up looking car. "You're driving to pick Jacob up and Willow will take the rest of the trip. That way you get to spend time in the backseat with Jacob."
"Don't start the matchmaking, please?" Xander begged.
Buffy and Willow both giggled. That was what he had to suffer through during the ride to the reservation. They pulled up to the Black house, Xander yawning as the girls cheerfully jumped out of the car. He somehow managed to follow them up to the house, where they waited for him to knock on the door. He did so, rolling his eyes at their girlish chatter.
Being in Forks for so long had made him forget what it was like to be the only guy along for the ride. Once again, he had to thank Jacob for agreeing to join them. Though, he knew it was only because Jacob didn't like the idea of his imprint being nearly four hours away by car. Xander was willing to take what he could get.
The door opened to reveal Jacob in what looked to be pajama pants with no shirt. He was rubbing his head and blinking, looking like an overgrown child. Xander fought down the urge to just hug him. When he finally spoke it was with a gravelly voice. "Is it that time already?"
"Yes!" Willow said, pushing Jacob into the house so they had room to enter. "Go on and get dressed. We have a long drive ahead of us."
"Sure," Jacob yawned, "sure."
"He's never been one for mornings," Billy Black's voice commented from the living room as Jacob shuffled back down the hallway. He looked up from the television, where the morning news was playing, and smiled. "Might as well have a seat, it's going to be a while."
"Hello, Mr. Black," Willow greeted, bouncing forward to shake the man's hand. "My name is Willow and this is Buffy."
"Hey," Buffy said with a little wave.
Xander sat down on the sofa, which had seen better days, just as he heard the shower turn on. Somehow he managed to ignore thoughts of Jacob naked and under running water. He shook his head and turned toward Jacob's father. "So, how are things?"
"Just fine," Billy replied. He glanced at Buffy, who had just sat down, a curious expression on his face. The man didn't say anything, though. Xander was thankful. He didn't need anything interrupting Buffy's good mood. "Girls, I give you full permission to tire Jacob out and use him to carry your bags."
"Oh don't worry, that's the plan," Buffy said with a grin.
Xander thought he was going to fall asleep. They had been on the road for about an hour and the girls were in the front of the car, wiggling in their seats to what sounded like pop music. Xander wasn't sure. He was so tired that he couldn't even make out the lyrics. So, he did was any normal teenage boy would do.
Okay, maybe curling up against Jacob and resting his head on the boy's shoulder wasn't what a normal teenage boy would do. But he had been raised around girls, so he figured that gave him a reasonable excuse.
"What was your dad saying to you back at the house?" Xander asked in a tired mumble, knowing Jacob would be able to hear him over the music anyway.
"It's not important," Jacob said quickly.
"With that tone of voice, I'd say it is," Xander replied. "Come on, tell me? Please?"
"Stop begging, it's not attractive," Jacob chuckled.
"Yes it is."
"Fine, whatever," Jacob said with a sigh. Xander could almost feel him roll his eyes. "He was commenting on Buffy. There's something...I don't know. I told the pack and my dad about you calling her a warrior. My dad didn't believe me. Neither did the pack. Leah was the only one who said it was plausible, but that was mostly because she liked the idea of a girl being strong and powerful. Anyway, for some reason all my dad had to do was meet her."
"Yeah, Buffy's special," Xander said. "She looks cute and fluffy, but if you look at her the right way you see what she's hiding inside. A ferocious, shoe loving tiger."
"It's good," Jacob told him. "I think the pack would like her, to be honest. I like knowing she can protect you, too."
"Hey, I can protect myself," Xander protested. His protest ended with a jaw popping yawn, though, so he didn't think that it made that much of an impact.
"Take a nap," Jacob ordered, lifting his arm to wrap it around Xander's shoulders. Xander could see Willow glance back at them with a grin, which he chose to ignore. Instead, he burrowed further into Jacob's side, enjoying the heat. "I'll wake you when we get there."
They were in the middle of a department store when Xander spotted a familiar face. Logically, he knew it wasn't his father, but apparently the rest of him wasn't prepared to see dark hair, dark eyes, and a face that resembled that of the man. He felt like the world was dropping away from him. His stomach plummeted. His vision narrowed down to where all he saw was his father. Or a stranger that looked like his father.
He had a habit of standing in his bedroom, watching through the window for him. He waited on baited breath to see his father's car, the glimpse of his dark head as he climbed out, the sound of his voice as he made for the house. He was always waiting.
Not in longing. Not in excitement. But in terror. Waiting was his worst enemy. It allowed him to think, to remember.
The sight of his father could make him feel like a five years old all over again, cold and alone in a world that didn't care. Because who could care for him? His own father hated him. So, he always waited and as dark hair appeared, familiar eyes would glance up to his window. That's when Xander always knew his fear would be reality.
"Xander? Come on, Xan, speak to us," Willow's voice cut into his thoughts like a knife, shredding the few flashes of memory that had threatened to take over. Xander blinked, glanced over to where the familiar looking man had been, and sighed in relief when he saw no one. Willow was watching him with worried eyes, her voice soft. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said quickly.
Jacob hovered next to Willow, biting his lip. "You're not okay. That's not the first time you've done that around me. Maybe you need to sit down?"
Xander sighed and glanced over the top of Willow's head toward Buffy, who watched the other two practically smother him with worry. He begged her with his eyes to distract them.
"Sitting down is a good idea," Willow announced, reaching out to touch his elbow. "You don't feel faint do you?"
"You're probably hungry," Jacob added. "When was the last time you ate?"
"Guys, I'm fine," he insisted.
"You look a little pale," Jacob replied.
"He does, doesn't he?" Willow agreed.
"You know," Buffy announced, hands on her hips, "Jacob's clothes are a little outdated. When was the last time you got new threads?"
"Uhh," Jacob stammered, glancing between all of them. He was still giving Xander a concerned look, but seemed willing to accept the interruption. He glanced down at his shirt, which was a little thin in places. Xander thought it looked nice, but that could have been hormones talking. "I don't really get new clothes. I mean, sometimes I shift and things get torn apart. It's just easier this way."
"You don't get new clothes?" Willow asked, her mother hen complex immediately switching onto Jacob. "You poor thing. Come on, I saw a shirt that would amazing with your skin."
"But-" Jacob started and Willow grabbed his arm. Regardless of his complaints, he still let her pull him away.
"Thanks," Xander told Buffy as they followed.
"Could you imagine if you had to deal with both at once all the time?" Buffy asked.
"I really don't want to," Xander replied.
Jacob was safely at home, loaded down with a few new shirts and jeans. Xander kind of wished he were with him, because researching never had been his thing. He didn't feel useful when he researched. Sometimes he felt like Giles gave him the books that were clearly not what they were looking for, because heaven only knew that Xander only read about a fourth of what was in his stack.
"The good news is that I know the demon we are hunting," Giles informed them, giving each of them a book. "The bad, of course, is that I'm not sure how to kill it."
"What do you know about it? Because I'm thinking the less I have to read, the better," Buffy piped up.
"The Kalindel is draconian in nature, but it's defenses aren't the same. It has the same body shape, skin, and killing style as a dragon," Giles explained. "It's considerably smaller than a dragon, though."
"Well, that's a plus," Xander said.
"If we can find the Kalindel's weaknesses then I should be able to gather up whatever weapons we shall need by tomorrow," Giles informed them.
"I'll tell Jacob," Xander said, opening his book. "He seems kind of excited about the whole slaying a demon thing."
"He needs to stay out of the way," Buffy reminded him. "I don't want any heroics."
Xander didn't bother commenting. He knew Jacob well enough by now to know the shape-shifter was going to jump into the fray. Especially if it meant protecting Xander. The thought made him smile. He was used to Buffy protecting him, but while she was a wonderful friend it always felt like she was doing it because it was her duty as a Slayer. Even with the imprint, Xander could tell that Jacob genuinely wanted him safe. It was a nice change to some of the men Xander had had in his life.
Two hours later, they had their information. Giles was optimistic, because he had actually brought a silver tipped axe with him. That done, Buffy insisted it was time for them to all walk down to the local diner for lunch. Giles, after a moment of badgering, agreed to join them.
They were a couple of blocks away from the motel when Buffy spoke up. "So, Willow and I discussed it and we've decided that we approve."
"Of what?" Xander asked.
"Jacob, of course," Willow explained.
"Oh." Xander felt a little warm on the inside over this, which was ridiculous because it wasn't like he was in love with Jacob or anything. They'd only known each other for a couple of months and had yet to even kiss. Not that he thought about kissing Jacob...often.
He glanced over at Giles and saw the older man had a pleasant expression on his face, which was all the indication Xander needed to see that Giles didn't mind Xander liking a boy. He was glad. Giles had been the closest thing to a father figure for him for a while. Rory was great and all, but Xander had a feeling he'd always view Giles as more of a father. Fighting the forces of darkness probably did that.
They walked a couple more blocks before Buffy stopped, her body tensing in the way it usually did when a vampire was nearby. Xander scanned the streets, his eyes landing on a familiar pixie haired head. Alice was leaning against one of the Cullen's cars, this one less flashy than the others. Jasper was at her side as usual, his gaze staring at her face fondly as she talked.
"Are they Cullens, too?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah, but they're the ones I like," Xander offered. At his words both Alice and Jasper looked over.
"Xander!" Alice called excitedly, bouncing over to the sidewalk to greet them. Jasper followed at a slower pace. "Are these your friends? Hello! I'm Alice. This is Jasper. It's wonderful to meet you. I heard about your meeting with Edward. Don't judge us all by him. He's so grumpy sometimes. Willow, you're hair is beautiful!"
"Umm, thank you," Willow replied, eyes wide. Xander snickered. Alice's brain jumped through topics of conversation much in the same way Willow's did but aside from Xander, Willow hadn't come into contact with many people who could talk like her.
Xander quickly introduced his Scooby family and hid the amusement on his face when Giles automatically reached out to shake Jasper's hand. Jasper seemed startled by the contact, but managed a short, albeit stiff hand shake.
"What are you guys doing in town?" Xander asked.
"Esme's shopping," Alice replied, gesturing at the grocery store. "She's hoping a large amount of food will lure you into bringing your friends to meet them."
"I hate to burst her bubble, but that's not happening," Buffy said.
"Considering you appear to be no threat to the human population, I must concur with Buffy," Giles said. "It would do best if she remained out of your affairs. Visiting your home would be asking for trouble."
"You're tense," Jasper commented, his eyes on Buffy.
A wave of calm hit Xander and he could tell the others felt it as well. Buffy relaxed for a moment, before immediately tensing up again, even more this time. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't use any of your powers on me. It makes me want to return the favor."
Xander wasn't sure if it was the strong confidence in which Buffy spoke or what she was feeling at the moment, but the calmness dissipated. Jasper nodded, his face blank. "I apologize. It becomes a habit with humans."
"Jasper doesn't like confrontation," Alice offered. Xander nearly snorted. He pegged Jasper for the type to enjoy a good confrontation, especially in the form of a fight or hunt. Just not around humans.
"As long as he doesn't use it on me or anyone who doesn't want the emotional help, then I don't mind," Buffy said.
"Your abilities are fascinating," Giles commented. "Do many lumos vampires have skills like yours?"
"It's rare," Jasper replied.
"Carlisle says it's a reflection of who we were as humans," Alice offered.
Before Giles could ask more the door to the grocery store jingled as Esme came out, bags of groceries filled to the brim in her hands. She smiled at them warmly, before sending her children a frown. "Aren't you two going to help me? Or did you agree to our outing just to get out of the house?"
"Sorry, Esme," Jasper said, taking most of the bags out of her hands and heading for the car.
"You know I couldn't take anymore of Edward and Bella's piano time," Alice said in what would have been a whine on anyone else. "Even Jasper and I don't get that sappy. And before you ask, Xander's friends already refused dinner."
"Be nice to your brother," Esme said automatically. She turned to them. "Are you sure you wouldn't like to come over? I hardly ever get to cook for visitors."
"Tell you what, I'll come over next week and you can overfeed me," Xander offered.
It wasn't until they had already left that Buffy turned to Xander with wide eyes. "I think that was the nicest vampire I have ever met."
Xander glanced over at Giles nervously and wondered why he had decided to stay to talk. He could have gone to the movies with Willow and Buffy. Instead, he decided to talk to Giles. Not because he wanted to catch up, though he did, but because Giles was the best source of advice Xander knew.
He cleared his throat for the fifth time.
"Xander, please turn off the ridiculous television and just say what you need to say," Giles said without looking up from his book.
"Maybe I just want the quality of your company," Xander said, though he shut the television off anyway.
Giles merely look at him over his glasses.
"Fine," Xander huffed. "So, this imprint thing might be going wonky on me."
"How do you mean?"
"I've been feeling...okay, this is going to sound really weird," Xander said, "but it's like when I was possessed by the hyena spirit."
"How do you know that's not what the recipient of an imprint feels?" Giles asked.
"Because I talked to another imprintee," Xander replied. "Emily said she doesn't feel anything like what I described. It's not a constant thing, to be honest, but I can literally feel when Jacob's wolf is at the surface because it's like my inner hyena is at the surface in response. And it's messed up, because I don't have an inner hyena anymore."
"Xander," Giles said with a sigh, "you must understand that primal spirit possession is very rarely documented. Most people who are possessed by one don't allow themselves to lose that spirit. There is also the fact that your spirit was clearly the Alpha female."
He ignored the female comment. He had done his research on hyenas after that incident, so he knew his hyena being female had been a good thing. Xander swallowed. "What are you saying, Giles?"
"Possession, regardless of what kind, always leaves a print behind. I must admit that I expected traces of the hyena to appear in you sooner or later," Giles told him. "What you're describing could simply be that, or the Hellmouth could have twisted it a bit." At Xander's wide eyed look, Giles quickly continued. "Instead of just having slight personality quirks, you're feeling as close to a possession as you can without actually being possessed. You're no longer the hyena, but the imprint with Jacob is allowing those aspects of the hyena left behind to come forward. It's linked directly with that. If it wasn't for the imprint, I don't think you ever would have felt it."
"Is there anything I can do to stop it?" he asked.
"I doubt it," Giles said honestly. "It's not the end of the world and it may actually help your relationship with this Jacob boy."
"If you didn't have the experience of being the hyena, of being an animal, you wouldn't understand what Jacob feels with his wolf side," Giles said. "If anything, this may bring you closer. Have you told him about this?"
"He knows I'm feeling the imprint," Xander said. "He doesn't know about the hyena, though."
"Tell him. Honesty is healthy in a relationship, Xander. I know you haven't seen many healthy couples in your life, but that doesn't mean your relationship with Jacob is going to be like them."
Xander closed his eyes a moment. Maybe that's why he was so hesitant to let his feelings for Jacob go farther. "What if..."
"Xander," Giles said softly, "you're not your father. You have a kind and generous spirit that will guide you in this, if you let it. Don't let your father's mistakes stop you from being happy. Learn from your father's actions and be the better man because of them."
He glanced over at Giles and met the older man's eyes. This was a conversation he never would have been able to have with Rory. He had never expected Giles to bring it up either, but he should have expected it. Giles knew how to get to the bottom of things when he needed to. Xander nodded and gave Giles a slight smile. "Thanks."
He should have been sleeping. Tomorrow was a night of demon slaying, so he really needed his rest. Xander rolled over in his bed for the third time and stared out his window. He wondered where Jacob was, then quickly banished the thought because he was attempting to spend a few hours of his life not obsessing over Jacob Black.
That, of course, meant that Jacob's shadow fell across his bedroom as the shape-shifter appeared at his window like some kind of creepy prince. If Xander didn't adore him, he probably would have been annoyed about having his silence intruded upon. Letting out a sigh, he climbed out of bed and opened the window, quickly shutting it after Jacob entered. Damn, it was cold out there.
"I think I read somewhere that the hotter your core temperature, the harder it is to withstand the cold. How do you manage it?" he asked, keeping his voice low so Rory wouldn't wake up.
"Maybe I'm magical," Jacob offered with a grin.
"You're something, alright," Xander said, grabbing Jacob's arm and tugging him toward the bed. "Come on, we can lay down for our evening imprint time."
Jacob hesitated next to the bed, but at Xander's stern look he kicked off his shoes and climbed in. Xander followed and was immediately surrounded by near suffocating warmth as Jacob automatically wrapped his arms around Xander's torso from behind. He stiffened and Jacob started to pull away, "Sorry."
"No, it's okay," Xander whispered, grabbing Jacob's arm and pulling him closer. He held Jacob's hand, feeling like a ridiculous girl, and forced his body to relax. He could feel the full length of Jacob's body curled against him, like Jacob was trying to touch every bit of him he could get away with. Xander drew in a deep breath, smelling Jacob's earthy scent. "So, uh, I kind of need to tell you something."
"You can tell me anything," Jacob immediately said.
"Yeah, I'm starting to figure that out," he replied. "Giles said I should be honest with you and while I don't usually take other people's advice, I try to take his. Do you remember that talk we had that one night a couple of weeks ago when I told you how I could kind of feel the imprint?"
He felt Jacob nod, the arms around him tightening briefly.
"There's kind of a reason for that," he said. "When I was a freshman I had this situation happen at the Sunnydale Zoo. It was an accident, really. I was trying to stop these bullies from picking on this one kid that was even dorkier than me, if you can believe it, and we stumbled into a ritual without meaning to. I ended up possessed."
"What do you mean by possessed?" Jacob asked, his voice low with worry.
"You know how you feel with your wolf? How you have animal instincts and feelings?" Xander asked. "Imagine if that's all you had, if you were no longer human and you were just an animal in a human body. I was there, yes, but it was like I was caged in my own head. I could feel the animal spirit control my body and even access my memories. I think I might have enjoyed it if we had been balanced, or joined like you are with your wolf side. Anyway, we did a spell that reversed the possession."
"Why do I feel like there's more to it than that?"
"Because there is," Xander told him. "According to Giles, possession always leaves something behind. That's why I feel the imprint and why when I saw you in the woods as a wolf I wanted to..." Xander trailed off. He hadn't actually told Jacob about his animal based feelings in the woods. "I don't know if you noticed, but inwardly I was reacting to you like an animal. It kind of freaked me out a bit, but at the same time it felt familiar. I'm not an animal and I'm not a shape-shifter like you, but because your imprint on me is pulling at those traces left behind...I'm more animal than most humans. I guess we were kind of meant to be, because aside from a fellow shape-shifter, I can understand your mentality more than most people."
"It won't hurt you, will it?" Jacob asked.
Xander shook his head. "I might get growly with you on occasion, though, seeing how you're male and...uh..."
Xander let out a sigh and twisted around in Jacob's grasp. He ended up pressed against Jacob's chest, the shape-shifter's heat practically burning through his thin t-shirt. He looked up into Jacob's face and fought down the urge to kiss him. "The animal I was possessed with was a female hyena."
Jacob's mouth started to curl into a grin.
"Don't laugh," Xander said sternly. "You don't know anything about hyenas, do you?"
"Not really," Jacob replied.
"Did you know that in most wolf packs it's the female that's the main Alpha?" Xander suddenly asked. "That's the real reason Leah is so bitchy. Sure, she's still pissed off about the whole imprint issue with Sam, but most of it is because her wolf DNA or whatever it is that makes you a wolf is telling her that as the only wolf in the pack capable of carrying children, she should be Alpha."
"I didn't know that," Jacob admitted. "I looked wolves up, but mostly to see about eating habits and stuff. Female shape-shifters are so rare, none of us even thought about it."
"So go a little easy on her, okay?" Xander asked.
"Sure, sure," Jacob said with an eye roll. "What does this have to do with you being a female hyena?"
"Hyenas take the female in control thing to the extreme," he explained. "Male hyenas are the bottom of the barrel. The females hunt, protect the pack, and carry the children. The males are there to help in reproduction and pack numbers for the most part. So me having been possessed by not only a female hyena, but the Alpha female of that particular pack? That's not some small feat, Jacob. I'm not strong, not really. I'm not a leader, either, but that hyena recognized something in me and it's that something that is either going to make our relationship amazing or turn me into a total bitch if you try to dominate me."
"Now why would I want to dominate you?" Jacob asked, a glint in his eyes telling Xander that he was partially teasing.
"Because Sam and Leah aren't the only ones with the soul of an Alpha, Jacob," Xander said softly. Jacob blinked in shock at him. "I can feel it radiate off of you."
Jacob let out a sigh. "I was suppose to be Alpha, my family always is, but I just can't handle that kind of responsibility. I don't want to be Alpha, not right now. I let Sam keep the position."
"At least you acknowledge that you have the potential."
"I wouldn't try to dominate you because I'm secretly Alpha material, you know," Jacob said. "When it comes to being an Alpha there really is only one person who can be stronger than you, and that's your mate. The stronger you are, Xander, the stronger I am and I wouldn't expect anything less from you."
"Thanks for the pressure," Xander joked.
Jacob smiled and reached up to trail his finger along Xander's cheek. Xander sucked in a sharp breath. Jacob pulled his hand away and placed it back on Xander's hip. "Sorry."
"No, I..." he swallowed. "I don't want to hurt you."
"It's really hard to hurt me," Jacob said, confused.
"Not like that. I want to kiss you so badly right now, but what if I turn into my father? I can't stand the thought of hurting you like that," Xander said in a quick rush.
"Then don't," Jacob said. "Stay away from alcohol and when you get mad at me, talk it out and don't direct your anger at me. It's that simple. Xander, you're stronger than that. I trust you."
"But with the imprint I could end up hurting you and you couldn't even stop me."
"How would you feel if you did hurt me like that?" Jacob asked.
"Like shit," he said immediately.
"The whole point of you being my imprint is so I can keep you from feeling like shit. I would stop you, because stopping you would mean keeping you from hurting yourself through me."
"I didn't think of it like that," Xander admitted.
"Well, now you have," Jacob said brightly. "So...about that kiss..."
Xander chuckled. "How long have you been waiting for me to kiss you?"
"Since the moment I laid eyes on you, or at least shortly after," Jacob told him.
"You're ridiculous," Xander insisted. He stared at Jacob's hopeful face for a moment, before deciding that laying here nervous wasn't getting him anywhere. He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to Jacob's.
He wasn't sure what he was expecting. Jacob's lips were soft, but definitely masculine. It was clear that the shape-shifter was holding back, letting him set the pace. He kept the kiss soft at first, closing his eyes to intensify the sensation. He felt Jacob's hand tighten on his hip and he parted his lips slightly in response. A soft sound escaped Jacob's throat.
It was the sound that did it. Like a floodgate opening, Xander felt a rush of desire that would have made him dizzy if he had been standing. He immediately reached up and cupped Jacob's face, deepening the kiss and pulling up the courage to flick his tongue across Jacob's lower lip. The groan that emitted from Jacob was thankfully muffled by their mouths. Xander could tell that Jacob was going to be the vocal type. The thought made him smile.
"Xander," Jacob breathed out, before kissing him again.
He wasn't sure how long they spent kissing. It was like a pattern of waves, the kisses deepening to the point of erotic before calming back down to simple pecks, only to deepen once again. Xander knew he was aroused and that Jacob could feel him. He knew because he could feel Jacob's arousal pressed against him, making the fabric of his sleep pants feel outrageously thin.
He pulled back from the latest kiss, head tilting back. Jacob's mouth trailed hotly along his jaw and down to his neck. He felt teeth nip at his skin and a whimper escaped him. In response to the sound, Jacob started growling softly, his teeth sinking deeper, close to breaking skin. Xander gasped, his back arching in response and causing their groins to rub together.
"Holy-" Xander cut himself off, a part of his brain still aware that Rory was one bedroom away.
Jacob's growl morphed into a moan and before Xander could blinked, Jacob was kissing him again, tongue delving into his mouth. Xander slid his hands along Jacob's sides to his bare back, the tips of his fingers digging into the muscle there when Jacob sucked on his tongue. Why had he been resisting this? They could have been doing this weeks ago.
Somehow his hands had traveled downward, his fingers slipping underneath the waistband of Jacob's cutoffs. He pressed in closer to Jacob's body, reveling in the heat and ignoring how it was starting to make him sweat. Jacob pulled back and dropped a few soft kisses just behind his ear. "We should slow down."
"Yeah," he replied. "No."
He pressed his mouth back against Jacob's. His leg bent, curling around Jacob's hip, bringing their groins into contact again. Jacob moaned again against his lips, hips rocking forward. Xander could feel the muscles in Jacob's lower back shift as he moved and if that wasn't the hottest thing in the world, Xander didn't know what was.
It took him a moment to realize Jacob was tugging at his shirt. He pulled back and sat up in order to pull it off. He threw it to the side before diving down on top of Jacob, grinning at Jacob's look of surprise. He pushed Jacob onto his back and straddled his hips, moving in for another kiss. As they kissed, Xander stretched out, ensuring their entire body was touching. Jacob's bare chest touching his own caused a shiver to run through him and he bit down on Jacob's lower lip in response.
"We really should slow down," Jacob whispered, running his hands up and down Xander's back.
"I know," Xander replied. With a sigh he rolled off of Jacob and was pleased when Jacob immediately pulled him into his arms. He buried his face in the crook of Jacob's neck and breathed in his scent.
"Are you disappointed?" Jacob asked nervously.
Xander lifted his head. "Not at all. Jacob, I don't expect us to suddenly start having sex. I'm kind of...uhh, well, I don't know about you, but I'm a virgin."
"Me, too," Jacob said in an easy tone, like it wasn't a big deal.
"Seriously?" Xander asked. "Have you looked in a mirror? How did you manage to stay a virgin this long?"
Jacob blushed and rolled his eyes. "I had my heart set on Bella for a while and then when I heard about imprinting, I just figured it would be better to wait. I didn't like the idea of doing that with someone else."
"Were you sad that you didn't get her?"
"At first, yeah," Jacob admitted, "but then I really got to know you. I think I would have wanted you in the end whether I had imprinted or not."
Xander didn't know what to say about that. So, he scooted closer to Jacob and closed his eyes. They lay there silent in the dark until Xander fell asleep. Sometime in the night he felt Jacob shift away and kiss his forehead. When he awoke in the morning, he was alone.
Buffy was practically vibrating in the seat next to Xander. He knew she had enjoyed her vacation, but a Slayer needed a certain number of hours focused on violence each week. Thankfully, in a couple of hours she would get to chop up a demon to cure her agitation. And if that didn't take care of all her energy, Xander figured he could talk her into attacking a couple of trees.
They were driving up to the reservation to pick up Jacob, though how the massive guy was going to fit into Giles' itty bitty car with them Xander didn't know. Last time it had only been four people in the car. Though, Willow and Buffy were tiny, so they could probably share a seat. He was so busy thinking out the logistics of a comfortable car trip to Port Angeles with five people that he almost missed spotting the group of large Native Americans standing around the Black's front yard.
"Great," Xander muttered. "Okay girls, this is the pack. Please be nice to them. I don't mind you tormenting the Cullens, but I have a feeling I'm going to be around these guys for a very long time."
"Oh, calm down, Xander," Buffy said, throwing the door open. "We're civilized people. Now, can we hurry it up so I can kill something?"
Xander led them over to the group of shape-shifters that were congregating on the porch. He recognized Sam, Paul and Leah, but couldn't remember the names of the others two. Leah was leaning against the porch post and as they approached, she smiled openly at Willow, who squeaked in response. Xander chuckled and poked Willow in the hip, who flushed bright red and shuffled over to hide behind Buffy.
"Hey guys," Xander greeted. "Is Jacob here?"
"He's inside primping," one of them snickered.
"Like you wouldn't do the same, Embry," Leah snapped. Embry scowled at her, but said nothing in reply.
"I'm liking this girl more and more," Buffy whispered.
"Wolves have sharp hearing," Leah offered with a smile, "and thank you. I'll go get prince charming to stop looking in the mirror."
Willow let out a rush of air when Leah was no longer in sight. Xander reached over and poked her again. "Man, you've got it bad."
"Shut up," Willow hissed, face turning even redder.
"Jacob tells me you've fully accepted the imprint," Sam said, completely ignoring their conversation. Everyone's eyes turned to Xander, who felt like he was being examined under a microscope. "That's good."
"Yeah, well, I'm lucky," Xander stammered. "Jacob's...he's..."
"Attractive, wonderful, beautiful, sweet," Buffy said. "I could go on."
Xander rolled his eyes and opted to ignore her. "So, is there a reason you're all over here?"
"We wanted to let you know that if you need us this evening don't hesitate to have Jacob call us," Sam informed them.
"Thank you," Buffy replied. "It shouldn't be an issue, we do this sort of thing all the time, but it's nice to have back-up."
"You fight demons regularly, then?" Paul asked, raising an eyebrow.
"About as often as you shift," Buffy retorted. Paul snorted in response. "Fine, we have the time since Jacob is currently busy."
"Buffy," Giles started.
"I'm not going to fight one of them. I'm just going to give them a little demonstration," Buffy assured, walking back over to Giles' car. They all watched as she grabbed the front of Giles' car and effortlessly lifted it a few feet off the ground. She carefully lowered it and turned to Paul with a smug expression, who was staring open mouthed at her.
"I think you've made your point," Giles said in a tired tone. He was clearly starting to give up on her status as a Slayer being a secret. Xander almost felt a little sorry for him. Almost, because Paul's face was too priceless for Xander to feel anything but entertainment.
"That was so cool," the other boy said, bouncing in place.
"Shut up, Seth," Paul grumbled, turning on his heel and storming inside.
"Don't mind him, he's got anger issues," Seth said. "You should have heard him this morning when Jacob came home from his patrol. Man, I don't know what you two did last night but Jacob was on cloud nine and Paul wanted to rip his throat out to get him to be quiet."
Xander blushed bright red and stared down at his feet to avoid the amused looks being sent his way. A door opened and he looked up to see Jacob and Leah exit the house. Jacob beamed like the sun when their eyes met and Xander wanted to kill himself for suddenly being so taken with the shape-shifter. One make-out session and he was suddenly the puppy following Jacob around.
Not that he really minded. Jacob didn't seem to mind him immediately walking over to stand by his side, either.
"Alright, let's get this show on the road!" Buffy said enthusiastically. "I've got a demon to slaughter, people."
"So, this thing likes animals?" Jacob asked, peering around the tree at the cave beyond.
"Yeah, especially puppies," Willow said in a sad tone.
"Do you think it'll go for a wolf?"
"I don't see why not," Giles replied. "I assume this means you have an idea on how to get it to venture out?"
"I sure do, British man," Jacob said, grinning. Xander fought down a smirk at the nickname. "I figure if I go and act pathetic in front of his cave, he'll have to come out. A beast that eats little animals isn't going to give up the chance to devour a weak wolf."
"I like that plan," Buffy announced. "As long as you promise to get out of the way when it finally does come out."
"Sure, sure," Jacob said lightly. So lightly that Xander knew he was lying. Jacob was so revved up for a fight he was practically vibrating.
"Okay, let's do this," Buffy announced.
Jacob walked away, peeling his shirt off as he did so. Xander pulled his eyes away from the sight, but he could still hear Jacob's clothes shifting as he undressed. A moment later a massive, russet wolf emerged between two trees. Xander felt a strong pull toward him and gave in, walking over. He dropped to his knees and let Jacob sniff his hair. He reached up and slide his fingers through Jacob's fur, before finally wrapping his arms around Jacob's neck.
"Uh, guys," Buffy said.
Xander growled low in his throat at the interruption, face buried against Jacob's neck. Jacob made a soft, calming sound in an attempt to ease him. Xander's brain didn't feel normal, though. It was like his was feeling the world through a foggy, primal lens. He clutched harder at Jacob, the growl in his throat skipping in what almost sounded like a hiccup. Or a laugh. It was soft, but the others still heard it.
"Xander, what-" Buffy started.
"Buffy, give them a moment," Giles interrupted.
Xander closed his eyes and focused on the feel of Jacob's fur. A few moments passed in what could have been mere seconds or full minutes. Finally, he returned to himself and pulled away from Jacob. His eyes darted randomly around them. "Uh, sorry about that."
"What was that?" Buffy demanded.
"A side effect of the imprint," Giles said. "It's not harmful to him, I assure you. Now, if we can get on with this before it gets too late? I have quite a way to drive tomorrow, in case you've forgotten."
"Fine, we'll get you to bed early," Buffy replied with one last confused look in Xander's direction.
Xander stood and stepped back. Jacob watched him for a moment, before he lowered his head and whimpered in the most submissive way possible. Xander wasn't sure whether he wanted to comfort him or dominate him. Instead he took another step back to avoid temptation. Jacob trotted past them and as he neared the cave he began to slow, dragging his feet and whimpering like he was in pain. When he reached the cave entrance he collapsed onto the ground, letting out a yelp.
A hand grabbed his arm. Xander hadn't realized he had started to rush forward. He looked over at Giles, who gave him a small smile. The yelp had sounded so real. He didn't know what he would do if Jacob ever ended up truly injured in front of him.
"Oh my God, it's working," Willow whispered.
A shadow had appeared at the cave entrance, along with a scraping sound, like claws against rock. Jacob appeared to struggle to stand, as though he were trying to get away. Just as he managed to get to his feet, a large, reptilian creature rushed out of the cave and tackled him to the ground. The Kalindel was a deep bronze color, looking like a small dragon, only without wings. It's body was larger than Jacob and easily pinned him to the ground. Jacob let out another yelp, this one real, as one of the Kalindel's clawed paws dug into his back.
Buffy heaved the silver tipped axe and rushed into the fray, quickly swinging the axe so it's blade embedded into the Kalindel's side before it had the chance to spot her. The Kalindel roared, lifting off of Jacob and swinging around to glare at Buffy with glowing yellow eyes. The motion allowed Buffy to pull the axe back and she stepped away, encouraging the demon to get off of Jacob.
The wolf scrambled to his feet and growled low in his throat, circling around to stand behind Buffy. Xander followed the others forward, pulling the long knife he had strapped to his hip out, just in case he needed to assist Buffy.
"Hello, big guy," Buffy greeted, twisting the axe in her hands into a more comfortable hold. "I'm pretty sure you don't understand English, so that means I don't get to annoy you with my clever comments."
She rushed forward and Xander watched as she proceeded to slice into the Kalindel's hide a couple more times before the demon got the better hand. With a loud roar, the Kalindel swiped at her with it's paw, sending her sprawling onto the ground. Unable to just stand idly by, Xander rushed forward, ignoring Jacob's attempt to keep him back. Brandishing his knife, Xander slammed into the side of the Kalindel and stabbed it in the hip.
Another roar echoed through the forest and the demon kicked out with one powerful leg, hitting Xander in his stomach. He felt like the air had been forced out of his lungs as pain erupted in his midsection. The pain was suddenly coupled with a terrible stinging sensation as one of the demon's sharp claws dug into his side, ripping open flesh. He felt his body fly back, followed by a shaking impact as he hit one of the trees.
"Xander!" Willow yelled, rushing over.
He looked up, eyes tearing. Past Willow he could see Jacob's hair stand on end as the wolf snapped his jaws, bared his teeth, and rushed forward.
Jacob tackled the Kalindel from behind, jaws latching onto the demon's shoulder. Jacob's head yanked back, ripping off a piece of flesh in the process. The Kalindel screeched in pain, falling forward as Jacob bit down again.
"Pin him there!" Buffy ordered, picking up her axe and getting closer, carefully avoiding the Kalindel's snapping mouth. Xander saw a glint of silver as Buffy raised the axe. The sickening sound of flesh parting and bones breaking hit his ears just as he registered the axe descending, almost perfectly slicing off the Kalindel's head. Buffy raised the axe again and let it drop one more time, before slumping tiredly.
"Is it dead?" Willow asked from her position next to Xander, one of her hands rubbing his shoulder comfortingly.
"Yes, it appears so," Giles offered.
Xander opened his mouth to speak, but instead whimpered in pain. He looked down at his midsection to see blood blossoming along his side. He glanced up to see Jacob come forward, head lowered in worry. "I'm okay. I think. I'm kind of dizzy, though, and I think I'm going to pass out soon. I've survived worse, trust me. Jacob!"
Jacob had been insistently nudging his shirt with his nose, trying to reveal his wound.
"He needs a doctor," Willow said.
"Rory will freak if he finds out about this," Xander mumbled, letting his head fall back against the ground with a thud. The world was feeling hazy and he suddenly wanted to fall asleep.
"We'll just tell him you got mauled by a bear or something," Willow assured.
Xander said something, but he really didn't know what. He closed his eyes. The others would take care of him. He could sleep for a bit.
Xander awoke to see Jacob glaring. Blinking, trying to adjust to the bright light of the room, it took Xander a moment to realize he was in the hospital. He followed Jacob's line of sight to see Carlisle standing on the other side of his bed, looking down at what appeared to be a medical chart. Xander cleared his throat. "Hey doc, fancy meeting you here."
"Xander," Jacob said, grabbing the nearest chair and dragging it over, "how are you feeling? Do you need anything? Are you in pain?"
"I'm feeling pretty darn fuzzy, actually," Xander replied, letting Jacob take his hand. "Like a thermal blanket."
"That would be the Percocet talking, I believe," Carlisle announced, looking up. "You have quite a bit of bruising around your stomach and side. The gash you received wasn't too deep, thankfully. It's been stitched and you'll have to be extra careful about moving around for the next couple of weeks."
"Been there, done that," Xander said flippantly.
"Don't talk like that," Jacob snapped. "You could have been seriously injured. I can't believe you did that! Don't you value your life at all? What if you had been killed?"
"I'll go let your uncle know your awake," Carlisle said, quickly leaving the room.
Xander sighed and turned to Jacob. "I'm fine. It's happened before. I don't normally pass out, though."
Jacob's jaw visibly clenched. "It's not happening again. This is the last time you go demon hunting, do you understand me?"
"I'm not someone you can just boss around-"
"Giles told me about some of your previous injuries while fighting this stuff. Those shadow vampires I can handle you fighting, especially with them all I have to do is rip off their heads if their fangs get too close to your neck, but Incan mummies, robots, and everything else you've been up against? No. I draw the line there."
Xander was silent a moment. "Fine. It's not like I have much of an opportunity to fight demons while up here anyway. If I do come across one, I'll make sure either you or someone from your pack is with me. Will that make you happy?"
"You being alive and safe will make me happy," Jacob replied.
"You're going to make me blush," Xander teased. "Where are the others?"
"We weren't sure what time you'd wake up, so they went to get lunch," Jacob said.
"Shit, I was out that long?"
"Yes. You nearly gave me a heart attack."
"Sorry," Xander said softly. Jacob stared at him for a moment, before leaning forward and kissing him. Xander kissed back with all the strength he had at the moment and, of course, that was how Rory found them.
Rory looked from Xander's blushing face to Jacob's defiant one, before clearly deciding to not comment. "So, bears, huh?"
"Uh, yeah," Xander replied. "You know how I am. If anyone is going to stumble across an angry bear, it'll be me."
Xander pulled away from Buffy's careful hug and turned to give Willow one as well. "You two be sure to torment Giles all the way home and then some, okay?"
"You know it," Willow said brightly.
"Hey, wolf!" Buffy said, grabbing Jacob's arm. "Walk with me."
Xander watched them walk away before turning to Willow with a raised eyebrow. Willow merely smiled, which was all the indication he needed to know that she knew exactly what Buffy was saying to make Jacob look nervous. "She's not threatening my boyfriend, is she?"
"Would Buffy do that?"
"Yes, and with great cheer in her heart," he replied. "I'm going to go help Giles make sure he didn't leave anything behind."
He headed inside the motel room to find Giles pulling a broadsword out from underneath the bed. He didn't say anything. Giles was always prepared for anything, even if it meant illegally having weapons under his mattress. He quickly walked around the room, picking up Buffy's glittery hair brush and a notebook Willow had left next to the television.
"I do believe that's everything," Giles said. They looked at each other for a moment, before Giles smiled. "You're doing well here, Xander. Injuries aside, of course."
"Thanks. I hate to say it, but I think I could get used to it," he admitted.
That was all the male bonding they seemed capable of for the day, so Xander followed Giles out to the car and threw the stuff he had been carrying into the backseat while Giles quickly slipped the broadsword into the trunk with an ease that indicated he had done so many, many times before.
"So, I guess this is it," Buffy said sadly. "You'll call us, won't you?"
"Every other night, as always," Xander assured.
"And tell that Edward guy that if he continues to read your mind, we have no problem with sending him something very nasty and very cursed," Buffy said.
"Darn tootin'," Willow agreed.
"Honestly, Buffy, I'm sure Edward is old enough in years that he knows when to keep out of other people's business," Giles said.
"He's younger than Spike and we all remember how nosy that guy was," Buffy retorted.
Giles said nothing in response to that, which either meant he was conceding that Buffy had a point or he didn't see the reasoning behind arguing with her. "Shall we?"
"We shall," Buffy said, before diving forward and giving Xander one more hug, this one a little harder than the last. Xander ignored the pain in his midsection and held his breath and hold in a gasp when Willow hugged him again just as enthusiastically. "Well...bye."
"Bye," Xander said with a small wave.
He watched them climb into the car, sort of wishing that he could join them. The idea of returning to the town that his father lived in made the idea vanish, but briefly he wanted nothing more than to be going on a long road trip with his two best friends. Letting out a sigh, he watched them drive off, lost in thought until he felt Jacob's hand rest on his shoulder.
"So what did Buffy say to you?" he asked.
"That expression doesn't look like nothing," he commented, giving Jacob a look.
Jacob winced and shuffled his feet. "She said that if either my pack or I hurt you then she'd find a way to tear me from limb to limb. I, uh, kind of believe her."
"I'd believe her, too," he said, feeling a burst of warmth in his heart knowing Buffy would go to such great lengths to protect him.
Jacob suddenly grinned. "She also said I have her full and complete support to torment, pester and constantly annoy the Cullen family whenever possible."
Alright, that's it. It's finally finished and I'm never writing Twilight again. Unless it's to make fun of it. I can't believe I wrote this...