Title: "Addiction"

Part 1 in a 3 part series.

Author: Shawn

 

Summary: Coping with the sometimes unfair struggles life throws at you through addictions is not a way to solve ones problems, and in effect, will only prolong ones despair.

Rated: NC-17

Category: Erotica/Angst

Characters: Buffy, Xander, Faith, and Willow.

Ship: B/X

Timeline/Spoilers: Everything is cannon through the end of both series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: The Series. The only difference is anything said about the Buffy characters whereabouts and activities in the last season of Angel are completely ignored here. After "Chosen" and "Not Fade Away" it's my universe all the way.

Disclaimer: Joss owns it all. I just let them out to play once in a while.

Email: DayShawn1974@hotmail.com

Authors Notes: The need to write something erotic and angsty came over me all of a sudden, and this was the result. You'll find this world of the Scoobies a bit darker, character wise, then you're probably used to in my work. Not darker in the sense of deeds, but of how they see their lives and the lives of those around them. The Scooby Gang are older, battle weary, and none of them are living lives that fulfill them. Unfortunately, there are times in life one builds a crutch to lean on, no matter what that crutch is, just to cope with the day to day struggle of living. That's what I hope to explore here. This is the beginning of a series.

Dedicated to: Brooke, who I know is still wanted me to write "Shhhh," but this came out first. Loves ya bunches:)

 

 

~~~~~~

"Gasping"

 

gasping, clutching, writhing

twisting, jerking, bucking

I am alive

with exploding senses

I am you

you are me

intertwined, mixed-up, conjoined

forever in this moment

I will be

available to fall into it

again and again

eternally

internally

passionate, intrinsic, animalistic

returning to connectedness

with my body

proof of exertion

yet relieved of tension

flows like the tide

upon my psyche

- Symone Gray

~~~~~~

 

 

******

 

******

 

The apartment of Buffy Summers

Monday, October 5, 2005 11:45 PM

London, England

 

 

Restless...

Without within, on yet another night that's left his soul weary, Xander sought the last bastion of peace he knew existed in the world. Through a maelstrom of somber emotion, he sought the light amidst death. Life, thy name is Buffy. And so when he is inside her, he is alive.

Able to breathe again after one of the longest nights in recent memory.

Ever thankful for the deep plush carpet on her living room floor, Buffy rolled her hips over his lap, squeezing around him as she rode slow and sensual, easing her way down from the heights of a quivering climax moments ago. Her hands braced on his muscled chest, nails digging into his sweat dampened skin as she impaled herself on his long shaft, riding him as the simmering heat of their bodies slicked her every descent.

When he arrived at her doorstep twenty minutes ago, soaking wet from yet another of London's rain storm, his eyes briefly conveyed the lost being of an older man. A crushed sprit requiring sustenance, and since he came to her, needed her, the responsibility became her very own.

Of course she could never turn him away, freely giving what she has taken whenever she needed it over the past several months when their world turned that much darker. When the days grew short and the night grew colder, with no end in sight. She expected his arrival as soon as Giles had called and filled her in on what had happened. The storm and the darkness would lead him here. Of that she had no doubt. Tonight, Xander needed her. Needed pleasure. Softness. Comfort. Affection. Companionship. Passion, and that quiet understanding of one who knew his life, could relate to it, and the all to human desire to feel alive. She was there, once, and is again in a different sort of way. So they share their depression, unhappiness, and regret with their merging flesh. Share it through the most hungry kisses, the most elicit encounters, and the unbelievably desperate passion between them, given life out of nowhere.

From the very moment Buffy opened the door and looked into his troubled brown eyes, Xander kissed her questions away. The wet fabric of his jacket soaked into the soft white cotton of her bath robe. He needed, and so she gave freely, secretly pleased that he would seek no other. That no one else would do. Having just taken a long candlelit bath, the Slayer found herself lifted off her bare feet and carried five strides from her front door to the living room. He gently laid her down on the plush Navaho brown carpet, directly in front of the fireplace. So great was his need to be one with her that the bed was simply to far away. Xander towered over her, his snarling breath bathing her belly in trembling waves of heat, his needy eyes ravenous for her as he shed his jacket and shirt, then the rest of his clothing. Not once did he tear his gaze from her, his cock rigid thick with blood, aching before her.

Panting in the wake of his undeniable craving, Buffy felt helpless and wet instantly, the sheer recklessness wafting off of him as if smoke pillowing in the air. Her toes curled as his hunger made her feel small and feminine. She didn't move a muscle when he yanked open the sash on her bath robe. His cock throbbed before her very eyes as he appraised her beautiful body, bared before him by firelight. Her fingernails dug into the soft carpet, grabbing handfuls when he slowly pushed her knees apart. As his head lowered between her thighs and the warmth of his breath brushed her clit the second before his tongue did, she knew he wouldn't stop until he was sated and she was claimed fully as his own.

With a roaring fire nearby and a thunderstorm serenading them outside, Xander ate Buffy to a screaming orgasm that left her crying out on her side, shaking uncontrollably, with his head clutched between her thighs as her hips arched, pumping toward his hungry mouth. Upon recovering, only penetration would do, and he wanted her on top just so he could watch her move.

Mercy, how he loves the way she moves.

As if her glorious body were attuned to some sweet music only he could hear, Xander reveled in the rhythm of Buffy's sirens song. The lusciously soft skin of her exposed neck called out to him every time she threw her gorgeous blonde hair back. Her knees braced on the floor for maximum penetration as her womanhood tightened and released him. Only her low moaning accompanied the crackling logs of the nearby fire. As hot as the flames were, they couldn't begin to compare to the furnace within her, wrapped so tight around him as she rose and fell, time and time again, before descending to him as if a angel falling to Earth, soul-kissing him deeply. His arms trapped her petite frame, his hips now arching higher, lifting her small body with hard up thrusts that literally bounced her on his cock.

"Slower," she requested to calm his lust, and he humbly complied. Using the flat of her moist tongue, lapping his lips in slow licks, Buffy methodically lifted off his glistening hardness. She followed his intensely focused gaze between her legs at the point they are joined, then slammed back down hard, tearing from his throat the most delicious groan. She did it again, her hands gripping his shoulders. "You like that?"

As if she didn't know, the devilishly evil minx. "You know I do."

"Is it hot enough for you?" She shot her hand behind her and clutched his balls, squeezing them, pulling them.

One long probing kiss answered for him, capturing her lips, inhaling the very breath from her lungs. "... so tight," whimpered as the liquid sounds of their mating echoed around them.

In the dead of night. enjoying the darkness of her living room, on the floor they held hands, their fingers

entwined. Buffy's riding with voracious vigor as Xander held on for dear life. Both were on that quivery crest of orgasm, the husky tenors of their voices lifting above them. Minutes blended, one into the other as the flames grew with intensity, seemingly burning out of control the second they climaxed together, their bodies hitching and shuddering. Xander sat up, holding her so close as they rocked and came... they came so hard together in each others arms.

It's always this way. This passionate when the ills of a cruel world began closing in, crushing the air around

them. There were so few things in the world they had any real power over, could change, or effect for

the better. But they did have this. And it more often than not helped them sleep through the night.

Two and a half years post-Sunnydale, and it turns out the Slaying is even darker than before. Relocating to England brought with it excitement, anticipation, and the belief that this was the right thing to do and the right way to do it. But as time passed, with more Slayers came greater threats. With the rebirth of a Watchers Council far more powerful than the one before it, came the return of age old enemies. Angry, brutal, and with a grudge to wage war, they intensified their activities in England, going against the common wisdom that more Slayers would make the Big Bads run.

On the contrary. It made them fight harder.

Months grew into two and a half years before anyone knew it. Slaying that was once literally a walk in the park with friends now became a sweep of the city and surrounding countryside, broken up into sectors. Each team traveling in a heavily armored Hummer, seeking out demons, vampires, and all other beings of hell that dared rear it's ugly head.

The cruelties grew in number. The attacks came far more vicious. The bad guys didn't seem to care about winning or losing so much as killing as many innocent people as they could. The good guys could win the fight, but were steadily losing the war within themselves to truly believe they were making a difference.

The Scooby Gang didn't attend college. None of them went back. None of them had time too. They never got around to taking that month long vacation together they all joked about since 2003. There was only the rebuilding of the Watchers Council, the recruiting of men and women believed to be the kind that could do the work necessary, and their own personal involvement, now deeper than ever before. No, they never found their lives outside of Slaying. Not one of them. As time past they only dug themselves deeper in the grave of this miserable lifestyle.

Dark, angry, hate-filled nights became the norm, with none of them seemingly able to break away, whether they wanted to or not.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons Buffy's sexual appetites sometimes boarded on the rougher side. Ever the primal creature, there are moments she enjoyed affectionate loving pleasure, but craved an angrier form more times than not. Even now, after a brief rest period, Xander's holding her wrists back as he slammed into her from behind on the couch, lunging deeper inside her with every hard invasion. Never the shy type, she's giving as good as she's getting, vigorously humping back at his every thrust, so into it trickles of their combined juices dripped trails of wetness down her inner thighs.

The sinfully intoxicating sensation of his hard flesh spreading her open made his blood boil beneath his skin. A fine sheen of sweat shimmered his body against the backlight of the fireplace. Every time he collided with her ass, the heightened smacks of their flesh slapping together caused him grow that much thicker inside her. Made him take her that much harder, yanking her slim frame back into his savage assault. His jaws muscles tensed, eyes shut to the droplets of sweat sliding down her arched back, cascading off her supple round ass. Her head rested on the head rest, jerking with his every thrust. The erotic purring noises she made encouraged him, burying every inch of his cock deep inside her weeping slit. He could feel her sucking around him, caressing him from within, as if her body willed him to stay inside her, never to leave.

"... harder."

Hunched over her back, he whispered in a ragged breath, "That's what you always say."

"That's how I like it." Fuck, she's filled to exquisite fullness, her body flushed a shade of scarlet as he dominated her just the way she wanted him too. Her eyes closed, her pussy gripping his cock like a hot, slippery vice. He's seized her tonight, ravishing her thoroughly as they fucked.

"You're such a bad girl."

"'Your' bad girl," she chanted over her shoulder, smirking so sexy, then fell forward when he released her wrists. His large warm hands spanned her hips, holding her steady as he pounded into her from behind, taking her so deep, thick and hot, filling her to a fullness that left her sensitive clit swollen. God, he felt big inside her, and had the kind of staying power that made her whimper his name, "... Xander."

Having a lover who knew you so well was a godsend, especially when his hand slipped between her legs, his fingers massaging her clit just the way she needed, weakening her knees as her body convulsed in time with his stroking. Time stood still, save for the harsh grunting over her shoulder as he fucked her faster, grinding against her backside, rubbing her clit back and forth until her legs gave out, she crouched over almost in the fetal position, gripping him in rhythmic rippling waves. "Ahhhhh....ohgod...uhhnnn." Her fists grabbed the couch pillows, eyes squeezed shut, teeth grating, her body liquefying... coming all over his now constantly throbbing shaft. Her heart pounded the beat of a tribal drum. She felt weightless when he pulled out of her, laid her down, covered her again, and pushed inside to the hilt, buried to the end of time.

"Need you, Buffy... only you... need you so bad... always need you," he declared with wet kisses along her neck. The incomprehensible rasping noises she made left him no choice but to tame her. Nothing, nowhere, and at no time ever compared to the writhing woman beneath him. Her kiss swollen lips pursed, desire laden eyes stared at up him. His hips began a savage surging, crushing her into the couch, his lips devouring hers as he relentlessly fucked her until that familiar tension coiled like a snake ready to strike.

Her hands played over the tense muscles of his shoulders, slowly down his back as the solid weight of him held her down. Having gotten off three times already, Buffy wanted this to be so good for him. She slipped her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist, her ankles locked over his lower back, trapping him in her full embrace. She leaned close to his ear, then bit it, whispering, "Cum inside me, Xander. I want to feel you coming inside me. Please."

All hope, sense, and thought fled him as he acted on instinct alone. His cock leapt from her vocal command, the sound of her name escaping his lips in time with every deep thrust, his length pulsing heated satisfying bursts within her, sated at long last, draining himself dry in her.

Loving the way he sobbed her name against her shoulder, Buffy felt his sweet release... felt every thick pulse of his shaft as she claimed him as dearly as he claimed her. An orgasm to it's most pleasurable completion. Drenched in their sweat and combined fluids, they could not move or think, simply allowing the warmth of the fireplace to soothe them down from on high. As always following one of their heated encounters, a long hot shower was needed.

 

 

******

35 Minutes Later

******

 

"Who are you?"

Alone, his hands braced on a small porcelain sink. Xander stared at himself in the bathroom mirror, wondering when the slightly dark circles began to form around his eyes. Sighing, his hand traced over a small one inch scar

along his chin, slightly hidden by stubble. Further evidence of living his life on the edge of sanity and death.

Whereas most guys would have such a injury from a shaving mishap or something trivial, his came in the form of a violent knife attack by a 'blood whore'. London's newest entry into underground world came with a memory of Riley once upon a time. The 'blood whores' sought vampires and allowed them to feed for money, for a time each night, and would rest and be available every other day. In their sickened minds they were doing the world a service. Simultaneously saving lives while curbing the growth of the vampire population.

Often times 'blood whores' were common drug addicts. Prone to violence, without a care for anyone or anything in the world. They needed their fix as much as those they bled for. Some vampires, as time past, wanted to keep a lower profile, and so 'blood brothels' were formed. Less dead bodies and missing persons drew attention away from them, keeping the Slayers at bay.

As he stood before the mirror, reminiscing about the cold blade that marked his face, the scar didn't answer the question he asked himself any more than apparently he could. He's tired... Doesn't smile as much as he used to. Just doesn't want to. The constant raining grated on his nerves every bit as much as the awful English television shows. He can't keep track of the Lakers unless it's online. And after the awful night he's lived through yet again, he'd love nothing more than to walk right out of Buffy's apartment and drive to Heathrow Airport. Then he'd purchase a one-way ticket to anywhere other than here, and just start all over. Somewhere he wouldn't look so old.

At the ripe age of twenty-four, he felt double that. In his eyes he was beginning to look it to. His hair's a little bit longer, though not that much, but enough for Dawn to tease him about his 'Anakin Skywalker Episode 3' hairdo. A few more scars adorn his arms, ribs and back. Badges of honor, some would say, for a man fighting the good fight. And truth be told, he knows it is the good fight. But it's also the fight that's wearing down his sprit by the hour, effectively suffocating him under it's immense weight. This is the life that's stolen Willow's charismatic joy, Faith's wild spirit, Dawn's innocence, Giles best years, and Buffy's ability to believe there is anything beyond this.

This is the life he was always told he wasn't good at. The living breathing liability of the Scooby Gang, an old hurtful voice whispered from the past. Oh, how he wished he'd listened and maybe chosen another path. Now regaled as one of the Watchers Councils top five agents, with security clearance for everything, his presence is both needed and sought after.

He's now indispensable. He soaked up everything the new trainers taught him since the day he landed in London, and sought even more knowledge than that on his own time. No longer comfortable with simply being capable. he put his full focus on being damn good. Mediocre no longer applied. Placing the necessary discipline on himself, it took two and a half years, but he's currently in the absolute best shape of his life, has amazing accuracy with the guns he uses, and is quick thinking and clever enough to command twenty five men and women, broken up into three teams.

At long last, he has his respect.

Still, he's not happy. Not pleased, inspired, or thriving. Sure, he's eradicated doubts within himself, and of those around him, but so what. Anyone could with time, dedication and a belief in ones self. None of those things made you happy at the end of the day. None gave you the peace of mind and a good nights sleep. Not one of them. But he does aid in keeping people alive and safe. He's good at it. Better than most, and still getting better.

Dressed in a gray t-shirt and black sweat pants, ten minutes ago when Buffy asked him through the door what he wanted to wear, he realized that he's spent so many nights in her apartment that he has enough clothes here for her to ask that. They've shared months of something so good in the midst of everything so bad. When he thinks of Buffy and how she makes him feel, the world around him seems to come out from behind the dark clouds. When one is lonely, the other is there... When one needs to rant and rave about an unfair world, the other provides a patient ear... When death surrounds them and only pleasure can give life, their bodies are freely offered, with no expectations any further than that. Theirs is a reckless, passionate friendship-based affair. One he never dreamed he'd share with her, and now can't seem to live without. It's the same for her, spoken from her own lips, and for better or worse, this gets them through.

She's where he is, and so he is not alone, and neither is she.

Buffy exited their steamy shower together twenty minutes before he did, not saying a word, offering him his space and silence. He's ever grateful and appreciative of her in every way. Says it so that she knows it's the truth. She's his safe haven away from a cruel world, and he is hers. Even when Angel relocated to London minus his curse, and Spike disappeared into the night.

Hmmm, still no answer to his question. Staring at yourself in the mirror for longer than ten seconds could be a sign of bad mental health, he smiled to himself, and in that brief moment of curled lips and levity, he saw Xander Harris looking back at him. He's still in there... somewhere. That's enough for now.

Wiggling his toes on the soft carpet outside the bathroom, Xander yawned on the way to Buffy's bedroom. Upon entering he found the powder blue pajama clad Slayer sitting up, reading a book in her lap. No doubt one of her latest Dennis Lehane crime novels. Those beautiful hazel eyes of hers lifted when she noticed him, and he gave a half-hearted wave as a hello.

Having waited patiently for his arrival ever since she left him in the shower, the sight of him now standing at the foot of her bed caused her to imagine if this is what he looked like as a child after a bad dream, seeking his parents for comfort and a sense of safety. What was denied him then would not be here, where she could extend what he has always offered freely to her. She's moving before she even realized it, gathering him in her arms. He fell into her warm embrace, burying his face in the softness of her hair. Slipping his arms around her as she did the same. This quiet moment between friends lingered. There's no passion here, save the passion of giving what the other needed. Companionship and affection. Understanding after the rain. A reason to rise for the new day.

Somehow, some way through the dark convolutions of the night, before Giles even called her, Buffy had known he wanted her. Sensed that he needed her with him at that moment. He's deathly silent as she tenderly stroked his back and waited for him. Sighing, he shifted in her arms, so she released, though not far away. Enjoying the full focus of his attention on her, Buffy lifted her hand to his face, caressing his cheek with her fingers, hoping for a smile... even a little one.

Enraptured by her generous affection, Xander's hand rose, holding hers to his face, as if to explain through his touch that she's vital to him. Then, as if a question sparked within his eyes, he gently turned her wrist toward his face, inhaling the scent of her skin.

"It's new," Buffy answered his unspoken query. "Some Channel sample that came in my newest issue of Cosmo."

Gazing down at her with a softer expression than he came to her apartment with, his careful, tender appraisal of her wrist continued. He pressed his lips there, kissing her pulse three times in slow succession, the hint of a smile on his lips.

Despite her grown woman status, Buffy blushed... "I wore it for you."

His arms gathered her again, flush to his broad chest as he captured her sensuous lips in a long loving kiss. She reveled in the strength of his arms, and the sheer need he felt for her. It's a joy she can't explain because it's not on the beaten path. Perhaps it's as simple as knowing that someone else in this cold, cold world needed you, and that you make them happy, if only for a little while.

"Thank you," Xander offered at last, and for so much more than what happened between them earlier. Her slow accepting nod led him to kissing her once more, then settling back, lying down with his head at the foot of the bed.

"You're welcome." Buffy settled back herself, sitting up against the head board. Her right leg laid alongside his, touching unconsciously as they often did. "Giles called me a hour before you arrived."

No surprises there. Xander thought so. It's common knowledge how much time he and Buffy spend together these days. It's common gossip what they do with that time. Nonetheless, Council business was the Slayers as well. "You could have just told me to go home."

"I'd never push you away when you needed me."

"How did you know I didn't just need the sex?" he challenged more than asked, watching her closely.

"Because you could get sex anywhere, same as me. You didn't come here for that. I don't go to you for that. It might be the cherry on top," she grinned his way, her legs crossed, "But it's not everything. We're bonded, somehow. I don't know, it's..."

Silence. Words couldn't begin to describe the things they've seen, fought, lived through, watched die, and were expected to brush off their shoulders like so much lent only to rise the next day and do it all over again. "We're just close like that."

Simple and to the point. Buffy nodded, having no clearer way to express what they share. "So, you wanna to talk?"

"No."

There's a reason she didn't go back to reading her book. She knew him that well. "Is that the truth?"

"No," he shrugged on his back, yawning again. She has him pegged forwards, backwards, and sideways. Having sated his need to feel alive... to hold her close and know someone was there for him... to experience something soft, feminine, and warm to the touch. Nothing like the darkness he faced earlier in the evening. "We were ambushed," he explained in a even tone of voice, noting Buffy's attention. "It happened in Berkshire. Me, Johnny, Shug, Salene, Cameron, and Timothy were searching a home out in the country. Reports had come in over the police wire about screams heard from the home. We'd already heard of vampires being in the area. We had killed six of them only two nights ago. It was all a set-up, Buff."

So she heard. "What happened next?"

Xander frowned as the images played like a movie in his mind. "We arrived at the home, found no lights on and no one came to the front door. Then we went around back to the barn, and all hell just broke loose. No less than twenty vampires came rushing from the house carrying pitch forks, bats, and swords, while ten more ran from the barn. There were screaming at us, 'Death to the Council.' One of them yelled they knew we were patrolling in the area and they wanted to make a statement. They chose that home for no reason at all and slaughtered a family of five," his voice trembled at the end, searching in vain for his professionalism. "We were heavily armed and efficient, but no matter what you have as far as weapons, thirty versus six is still a disadvantage when they are all rushing you at the same time. During the fighting Selene and Timothy were killed. We destroyed every last vampire, but lost two of our own."

Selene had the prettiest blue eyes and a wonderful singing voice. The nineteen year old blonde who dreamed of exciting missions all over the world. She was trained by Buffy herself. One of the best young Slayers to graduate from her class. Buffy felt her loss as deep as any she's faced in recent years. And though she didn't know the Council agents assigned to Xander's team all that well, she remembers him talking about his friend and the wonderful way he told stories about his past. Timothy was older than both her and Xander. At age 41, the former policeman who just happened upon a underworld case and from that day forth wanted in on that world. A dedicated family man as well. No wonder this hit Xander so hard. Suddenly, Buffy's eyes darted toward

him. "Please don't tell me you..."

"I called his wife and told her myself," he finished for her, knowing how vehemently she disagreed with any of them handling what the Watchers Council had professionals on staff to do. In her eyes they had enough to deal with without dealing with that too. Xander, however, did not agree. "He wasn't just a man on my team, Buffy. He was my friend. He made me his sons Godfather. And now he's... he's..." Fighting off the onset of tears, his hands covered his eyes, wincing painfully as the sounds of Lauren's hysterical sobbing throbbed in his head. "His son's only five months old."

Though she didn't agree with what he did, she sympathized and understood because of the kind of man

he is. "I'm sorry."

"So am I." The bed dipped as she moved across it, coming up on his side, lying her head on his shoulder. She's there for him. Sincerely there for him, and that's everything and more. "It's not like I haven't lost teammates or friends before. Lord knows we did long before we crossed the ocean. And it's not the first time I've seen dead children, as ugly as that sounds. It's just that I'm tired of seeing it. I'm sick of it. I can't seem to get it out of my head when I go home at night. I can't brush it off as duty and life being unfair the way that I used to."

Her hand rested over his heart, the steady drumming a constant reminder to her that he is alive, for her sake as well. She's listening to him express his deepest feelings and frustration. "It's funny how often we didn't think about certain things back in Sunnydale the way we do now. Death was a way of life, but not an everyday way of life. Not a twenty-four a day, seven days a week job that we can't leave behind and just go to the Bronze to relax."

Xander added wistfully, "So many things have changed."

"Time just keeps on passing us by." Buffy fell into her own inner thoughts, wishing away the world she knew for the kinder, gentler one in her dreams.

"Lauren begged me to lie to her and take it all back. She begged and pleaded."

"I can't imagine she's going through. It would be like if someone told me you were dead." Knowing she's revealed a bit to much with that truthful statement, she didn't take it back, wondering where it might lead them.

"If something happened to you..." Xander could not bring himself to finish. "I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels these days."

"Why don't you leave the Watchers Council then?"

"Because my greatest successes in life have come from working for the Council. In a way I feel like if I left I'd go back to being plain old loser Xander, as dumb as that sounds."

"You were never a loser."

"To a lot of people, I was. But the worst part was that for the longest time, I was to myself. That's what's changed over the years. That's one big reason why I haven't left the Council."

"What are your other reasons?"

"What would I ever do without you?" he cheesed her way, hiding behind a smiling face. She's quiet all of a sudden, her fingers tracing over his chest, eyes shut against his shoulder. They're more than just best friends and both know it. Accept it even on some level. The problem is they both know how utterly disappointed, uninspired, and unhappy they are with their lives, and how they've gravitated through depression and passion to one another rather than simply dating. Just how much of this is real, or simply being addicted to the other person to cope with the viciousness of their lives? "Can I ask you something and not offend you?"

Buffy playfully poked him in the side. "I won't know if it's offensive until you ask."

"What's the difference between what you and I are doing these days compared to what you had with Spike in the past?"

His question reached something deep inside her. Something she needed to share with him, and get out in

the open. Buffy turned on her side. "The differences are night and day, Xander," she told him while he stroked her arm, as if assured her answer would not displease him. "I felt that when I died, I was in what I thought... what I believe was heaven. Then I was taken from that peaceful place and brought back here, where I didn't want to be. The life I returned to had no meaning or road map. I was lost. Not only was I still grieving the death of my mother, but still trying to piece together my own feelings, raise Dawn, pay all those bills, keep my house clean, find a job, Slay, and keep up a brave front for all of you that I was alright. When I was with Spike, I didn't have to give a damn about any of that. I could act like that side of my life didn't exist. It wasn't just the dangerous sex, it was that I didn't have to care about him. I could hit him, wail all my anger and depression on him, then take pleasure and for a few hours, forget. So that's what I did until I was so ashamed of myself and my actions that I didn't even recognize myself anymore. I hated who I became and couldn't stop myself. I had no discipline or self-control. Sometimes Spike and I would fight and then have sex. Sometimes we would just fight. He was a punching bag for my failures and insecurities as an adult, and I used him and threw him away when I was done. I paid for it big time, not only with my self respect, but with all of my friends, and later on my own safety," she referred to the attempted rape. "Being with Spike was all about me not wanting to grow up and accept the responsibilities of a adult. I turned into a woman I did not like or respect. I took the easy way out, and I regret it."

"I'm not sure if I've ever heard you explain your relationship with Spike in such detail before."

"I was pretty sure if I did projectile vomiting would be your response."

"Once upon a time, maybe. But years pass and everyone has regrets. I know I do. You live and you learn. And hopefully eat some good food along the way."

Just a sliver of the old Xander... "I was never in love with Spike."

"I never thought you were."

"And now with you..."

"Do tell."

"We're complicated, Xander." Explaining out loud what she hasn't quite figured out in her own head wouldn't be easy. They share their time, bodies, trust, and caring in a way she's never shared with anyone else before. And if this were a different time in her life, or if she were living a different one, then maybe she'd take a look inside that Pandora's Box in her heart. "I trust you more than I have ever trusted anyone. Not only with my body, but my inner most personal thoughts. With my fears and my regrets. I never want to hurt you, or for you to hurt me. I would never take my frustrations out on you. I know that you always have my best interests at heart. I desire you passionately, in a way I never expected I could desire another man. When we're together... however we're together, we share a bond based on our strong friendship and our mutual understanding of the other persons crazy hectic life."

"Sometimes," he paused, stroking his hand up and down her thigh in a soothing manner, "I can't get enough of you."

His admission would join her confession. "I'm right there with you It's like every time we're together..."

"It's..."

"Yeah..." Desperate, reckless, exciting, unpredictable, thoroughly satisfying, and often, best represented their affair so far. Earlier tonight, even though he needed her so badly, she took great pleasure from him. Her body's still humming from what he did to her. "Anyway, when we're together, I never regret it. I never feel ashamed of myself or dirty or like we have to hide our... whatever we are." They enjoyed a laugh together. "If someone came to my apartment tonight and asked where you were I'd say you were asleep in my bed. No hesitation. No awkward feelings or trying to hide it. What we do is personal and intimate between us, and no ones else’s business."

"But we do drown our sorrows in each other."

"We also share our smiles. We make each other laugh. And we talk. We really, truly talk in a way I've never experienced before. I'm so open to you."

"We use sex as a crutch."

"As crutches go, it's a pretty good one if you're both single, healthy, safe, and it's not destroying the person you are inside."

"We never discuss love."

"I never felt we needed to. Do you?"

"No, not really," he replied, a knowing expression written all over his face. A calming truth he didn't need spoken just yet. "I feel... lost."

"You're not alone."

"Do you want more than this?"

"Do you mean my life, or us?"

"Either."

"Yeah... in a way," she replied cryptically enough, enjoying the mystery he could not figure out within

her eyes. Their friendship wasn't cotton candy and sweet walks in the park. Their lives wouldn't allow conventional romance. Their jobs killed anything normal, so other routes were undertaken in secret, enjoyed behind closed doors, and not thought over to deeply because at the end of the day, being together in whatever way best gave them peace and comfort, mattered most.

"I think we take good care of each other, Buffy."

"I do too. I also hope you try your best not to blame yourself for what happened tonight."

"I'm not sure a leader can ever do that, but I am for the most part crushed over Timothy's wife and son. It's not that Timothy himself, or Selene for that matter don't matter. It's just that Selene didn't have any family outside of her friends. Lauren and her little boy will be without Tim for the rest of their lives. And that poor innocent family... Buffy, the bodies were..." He shook his head, unable to continue. "Torn asunder is the word I'd use."

Comfort didn't include all the right words because some situations had none that were of any use. Instead of talking, Buffy nestled into his side, draping her arm over him chest, her head resting on his shoulder. Xander held her preciously, relieved to find a moments rest at long last. Nothing she could say or do would make anything right tonight. But her presence in his life would bring him some form of clarity, some small amount of peace, and affection from a loved one.

Buffy gave Xander everything he needed with her silence alone, simply by being with him.

 

 

******

The End

"Withdrawal" is the second part of this three part series. Coming soon.