THE HEROES FALL
From time to time, Xander relearned that while the tear ducts in his good eye still worked, the socket merely burned with the desire to weep.
He stayed crouched over the crumpled body in the dank and ill-lit alley. It didn't help that she was lovely--skin whiter than a bar of Ivory soap, shock of red hair, tiny hands with the nails tipped in powder-blue polish. He'd tried so hard to find her in time, but no matter how much he rushed or how he threw himself into the travel, he couldn't get to all the new slayers before others who also sensed their natural abilities did.
He'd lost this one by less than an hour.
The sensation of someone staring tickled Xander's shoulder and brought him out of his grief. He pushed himself upright and laid one hand on the water pistol stuck inside the waistband of his jeans. Holy water didn't work against all demons, but it hurt at least half of them, and it really pissed off the vampires. Besides, he didn't have to be that accurate with it--hitting any body part would do.
Something brushed against his bad side, of course. Xander started to turn that direction when something else hit him on the other side. All Xander could think as the darkness slammed into him was how unfair it was to have fallen for the oldest trick in the book.
Connor remembered hunting, remembered how the night breeze, laden with tantalizing scents, had tickled his cheeks, tempted him into action. Remembered the chase and the sound bones made when he broke them--not a loud crack, but a dull thump, louder than any heartbeat.
But he wasn't that guy--or as his friend Victor had taught him--he didn't self-identify as a fighter. A hunter. A killer.
Now, as a bi-sexual man . . . Connor grinned and ducked his head over recent kisses and kept walking.
He knew his parents would freak when he told them, though it really wasn't any of their business. He couldn't help the shudder that overtook him when he thought about what Holtz would have said. Angel though--Connor knew Angel would have been cool about it. Connor could probably have talked with him, and Angel would have tried to give him advice in that really awkward way of his, stammering and choking on words, coming as close to blushing as a vampire could.
But since Angel was no longer around, Connor planned on doing the next best thing--he was going to where Angel had fallen, the alley behind the Hyperion, set up vigil there, and talk with the spirit of his father (even if Angel never talked back,) like he'd done before.
And if by chance someone needed help back there, and if Connor had to hunt and fight and kill, well, he could do that too. As he'd done before.
Just as Connor entered the dimly-lit alley he hear the hollow sound of a body being struck. He dumped his backpack and raced to the fight.
No one else should die in this place.
Two Jlin held what he assumed was a human male between them. A girl had already fallen. That was all Connor had time to notice before he exploded with a flurry of kicks, the deep, dry voice of Holtz telling him where to hit these demons, with what amount of force to disable them, how to kill them.
Connor was never sure how long a fight took. In more than one sense, it wasn't him who was fighting. But the demons seemed to go down quickly this time. Maybe it was because he was worried about the two who had already fallen.
It was too late for the girl--her skin was clammy and chill. Connor could tell from the claw marks that Jlin had been the ones who had gotten to her, not the man.
The man--young man--was wet where Connor grabbed his hip to roll him over. But it was water, not blood. An orange, broken, plastic kid's water gun seemed to be the culprit. Connor checked the alley, but he didn't see a shopping cart. The dirt on the guy's clothes wasn't ground in, worn in, lived in. Plus, there was this patch over the guy's eye, dark against clean skin. The guy wasn't homeless. Just crazy--going into a dark alley with only a water pistol to save him.
Connor rolled the guy a bit more, trying to see where he'd been hit, when the guy's jacket fell open and a stake clattered to the ground. He looked again at the cracked gun, wondering if the water had been blessed.
Connor's first impulse was to leave--grab his backpack, run like hell. He was not that guy. Didn't have to be that fucked-up crazy guy. Angel had changed the whole world so he didn't have to live that way anymore.
But then the guy on the ground moaned and Connor did what he'd known he would when he heard the first punch taken. What he'd always do. What he'd done before, the time he'd found a teen-aged girl in the same conditions--stake in hand and monster at her throat.
He slung one arm under the guy's shoulders and got him to stand, helped him limp down the alley to retrieve the abandoned backpack. Then they walked like a couple of drunken college students all the way back to his dorm.
The guy never really came fully conscious the whole time. He did try to help Connor when he stripped him--cause those nasty-assed alley-stained clothes were not going down on his sheets. But then the guy grabbed at Connor when he tried to leave.
Connor didn't know who the guy was holding onto with the bear's embrace he seemed intent on maintaining. But it didn't matter. He was warm, and already asleep, and Connor didn't mind being spooned. Even if it was by another guy. It wasn't something he'd done before, but he was sure he'd do it again.
He did wonder what the fuck the morning would bring.
Warm. Warm was good. Warm and comfy and not too hot and nice smelling and the feel of silken hair against his cheek and soft skin too near his lips not to be kissed, tasted. A skinny chest, but strong. Not much hair, but nipples that were already responding and a quiet sigh. Xander tried to remember where he'd been--he must have gotten lucky at some club last night. Must have been some night if Xander couldn't remember even those details. His fingers skated down the light trail of hair he found at the center of the guy's torso, toward the guy's navel. Huh. Guy was wearing sweats or something, while Xander wasn't wearing anything. His stroked the skin between guy's navel and his waistband while he tried to think.
Club . . . club . . . being clubbed?
"Jesus! I'm sorry!" Xander said as he snatched his hands back and sat up. Oh shit that was a mistake he thought glumly as the room swam. He had been clubbed pretty good. And the slayer . . . Xander grabbed a bit of sheet to cover himself but he stayed sitting, particularly when the other guy just rolled over on his back and looked up at him. "Hey," he said, his hand on his stomach, fingers tracing the path Xander's had taken.
Xander forced himself to look away from the guy's hand to his face. Pretty blue eyes, long straight hair, bangs. Sharp. Skinny and muscular. Generous mouth, thin lips.
Oh yeah, his type. And Little Xan knew it too, wanted to see more. Xander loosened the sheet around him so nothing obvious would be showing.
"So, ah, what happened?" Xander asked. He didn't know how much lying he had to do until he heard the guy's side of the story. And though he wasn't always the slickest liar-guy, the Council had money enough to back him up when needed. Which hadn't been that often. Really.
The guy turned onto his side to face Xander, resting his head on his right hand. "What do you think happened?" he asked.
Was this guy laughing at him?
"I, ah, work for this real estate corporation that acquires properties. I flew in to do an inspection on this new building." That much of his cover was true. Xander knew construction, inside and out now. It gave him an easy story for always flying around to different locations, and for poking around abandoned buildings and in the alleys behind such places. "You know the Meyer building? It's the bright yellow one over on 8th."
"The one with the sunflowers done in relief under the eves?"
"Yeah--that one. The stonework is all pressed, and the repairs haven't been kept up or done professionally, but I still think it's a great deal. You should see the top apartment. Almost the whole floor was taken over by the previous owner. They gouged the hell out of the oak floors, they put in this stupid drop ceiling, and they painted the foot and a half wide wooden window seats this pukey green color, but the views are spectacular. And the--never mind," Xander interrupted himself. "My name is Xander by the way."
"Connor," said his host, holding out his left hand.
The fingers were still extra warm from where they had been stroking that flat belly and Xander was not going to think about kissing the tips of those fingers and putting them back there, encouraging them to explore farther, say, under the waistband or anything. Not at all. He held onto Connor's hand awkwardly, not able to give it a proper shake, not wanting to release it either. Finally he let Connor pull it away. He found himself watching it again, mesmerized by the light brushing touching pattern the hand had found.
"So you went to look at this building . . . " Connor prompted.
"Ah, yeah. I did the inspection, and then I went to dinner. I was walking to the hotel from the restaurant when I heard this noise. In the alley. So I had to go see. Because I need to know all about the neighborhoods and everything around the properties we're considering purchasing."
Connor nodded solemnly. "Of course you do."
Clearly the guy didn't believe a word Xander was saying. Or at least not that last part. But he had heard a noise.
"That's when I found. Her. The girl." Xander balled his fists and pushed on his legs with his knuckles. If only he hadn't taken that extra time on the phone with the client, detailing what he thought the building needed. If he hadn't gone to dinner but directly to her instead. If only he'd . . .
The warm hand found its way back and wrapped itself around Xander's wrist.
"Hey, dude, it's okay. There wasn't anything you could do."
Xander shook his head. The kid didn't know. And Xander wasn't about to tell him.
"She didn't stand a chance against those Jlin demons."
Xander grew very still before he let himself look up. "Those what?" he asked quietly.
"Look, you went in there with only holy water and stakes, right? Neither of those work with Jlin. Their only vulnerable spots are their neck and eyes. And a stake isn't going to cut it with the triple set of closing membranes they have."
Xander discovered that one of his hands had loosened, and that it now stroked the back of the hand gripping his. He willed it to stop. He knew what was coming up. What always came up. Every fucking time.
"So tell me, how do you know these things?" Xander was proud of how quietly he was able to ask the question. "Actually going to some kind of Hogwarts academy or something? Or are you a demon too?"
The kid cracked a huge grin at him. "Naw, I'm human. Well. Mostly."
Xander nodded. "Of course. Of course!" It no longer mattered that he was naked--Little Xan had grown disinterested at the memory of the girl. Xander stood up, stepped over Connor's prone body and onto the floor, then started pacing. "I think you're cute. This means you must be a demon. Original demon magnet here. Butt-monkey to the universe! Why? Why does this always have to happen to me?"
"Wait--you think I'm cute?" Connor sat on the edge of the bed, his hands at his side, as if either to push himself off, or about to sit on them, depending on which way he wiggled.
Pausing for a moment Xander walked over to the young man. "Yes. You're cute. And you fucking well know it too. Brat." Xander tried to stop his traitorous hand from reaching out and cupping Connor's chin, from brushing his thumb across his smooth cheek. "You see," Xander started conversationally. "It doesn't seem to matter which gender I'm attracted to. It's always demons."
Strong fingers wrapped around his biceps and tugged at him, tugging him down until his forehead rested against Connor's.
"I think you're cute too," Connor said shyly.
"Of course you do. That's your demon blood. If you were 100% human you'd think I was hideous."
Connor kept pulling at him, pulling him down. Their lips were barely touching, more breath and air than contact. It wouldn't take much, just a fraction of smidgen of an inch, and they'd be kissing. Merely pressing their lips together like their hands that had already found holds on skin and hair why was Xander fighting this again?
He pushed forward, through that immeasurable distance and let his lips rest on Connor's. Just for a second. Just for a joyous moment of kissing goodness while his fingers found their way into that silken hair and his tongue found a new trove to treasure and there was this nipple playing hide and seek with his thumb and that lovely gasp from Connor as Xander tweaked it and the earth moved and no it was just them laying back on the bed and . . .
Connor's body tightened as Xander landed on top of him. Some of it was his automatic "fight, fight now" instinct--the only other time someone had covered him this way was when they'd been trying to kill each other. Some of it was excitement, the good kind, the kind that Xander seemed to draw out with every touch and taste and breath.
Some of it was "Shit what the fuck have I done and why did I tell him anything at all."
The tension must have shown because Xander stopped and pulled back. "Please tell me you've done this before."
Connor considered lying--but he couldn't. It was that guy who lied like that. Not him. He shook his head, finding the words were caught in his throat.
Xander nodded like he understood. "Only what you want, okay? Only as far as you want to go," he said, then kissed Connor again, more gently. Xander started nibbling at Connor's neck, and Connor tried hard not to squirm. He really didn't like people touching his neck. His cock didn't seem to notice though--it continued to pulse in time with his heartbeat and push up, wanting more attention.
Xander seemed to get the idea though, and switched to kissing a trail down the center of his chest. Connor willed himself to relax, and thought he must be doing a good job, because Xander stopped and looked at him, smiling. "This okay?" he asked.
Yes. Yes it was okay. It really was okay. It was all going to be okay. It was okay to be this nervous. He wasn't nervous. He was just excited. And tense. Okay?
Xander started back down, and right at Connor's navel, blew a big wet raspberry on his skin.
"Fucker!" Connor said laughing, grabbing Xander's hair and pulling it. That proved to be the wrong place to focus his attack because it left Xander's hands free and tickling ensued. Connor tried to tickle back and found that Xander was pretty squirmy and nearly impossible to pin down. They rolled over and over each other, almost falling off the bed more than once until one or the other of them saved them by tugging the other way. They both laughed and called each other "dick" and "asshole" and laughed some more until they were out of breath.
Panting in the aftermath, Connor lay on his back, with Xander stretched out on his side beside him, lightly trailing the fingers of one hand up and down his chest.
"Why me, Connor?" Xander asked quietly. "Why would you want me to be your first?"
Connor considered the question. He didn't know the answer, not until he spoke it out loud. "Because you know all of me. You know that I'm, well, only mostly human. I've never told anyone else about that either."
Xander nodded, his one eye looking dark. Dangerous. "There's a lot you don't know about me Connor."
Connor shrugged. "There's a lot you don't know about me."
"Just don't tell me you're a former vengeance demon. Cause if you are then I'm walking out that door right now." Xander said it with a smile though, and Connor wondered about what stories he might drag out of Xander at some point. Because there were going to be other nights and days and times.
"My fa-fa-father was a demon. But he tried to do good."
Xander nodded, and his smile saddened. "Don't we all. All of us who are left." They were quiet for another moment, before Xander pushed himself up and over, and then he was kissing Connor again.
The quiet kisses continued, soft, almost sleepy, comforting each other instead of drawing out excitement. Connor wound his hands back around the Xander's broad shoulders, holding on, stroking the soft skin, tracing muscle that he knew were put there by fighting and training. Down to that dip in the back, where sweat from fear and heat and passion gathered and pooled. Up over taunt cheeks and the kisses gained in strength. Connor opened his mouth to Xander, letting his tongue plunge in, find a new home.
Then it was hands. Hands everywhere. Hands at his hip. Hands at his chest, pulling on his nipples, bringing gasps with them. Fingers trailing below his waistband, just two of them, finding his cock. Stroking it gently, teasingly, tapping at the slit, worrying it, tracing the curve of the head, just underneath.
Connor started pushing then. Pushing his sweats down so Xander could wrap his full hand around Connor. Pushing Xander up on his side so Connor had better access. He kissed hungrily now, ravenously, gulping down life.
It took only a little more maneuvering on Xander's part to bring them together. The smooth skin of Xander's dick slid along his own, making Connor gasp for air, as if he'd been choking. Xander pushed Connor's hand away and let their hips take over, holding on and grinding together, faster, spinning the room out of control. Connor held on with teeth and lips and tightening fingers as reality shifted again and again, growing taut and white as blades skipped down his spine and his balls drew up and all he could do was whisper "Xander" before he was gone and shooting through that pure place of power where not even the kill mattered anymore.
Connor was never sure how long it took him to recover, though it had been him, really him, there the whole time. But then there were sleepy kisses and more comforting petting hands cleaning him up and the thought that they could hunt out more things to make them messy and feel good made him smile.
"I take it that was good for you too?" Xander asked, and Connor delighted in the laughter he heard in his partner's voice.
"Yeah," Connor said, finally opening his eyes. Though Xander's smile seemed relaxed, something about his shoulders weren't.
"So, ah, should I--"
"Stay? Yes. Please?" Connor added in a wheedling tone.
"Brat," Xander said affectionately, leaning over to kiss Connor's forehead. Then he looked down. "I, ah, don't fly out until tomorrow."
"Good. Now lay down and turn over."
Xander raised his eyebrow. "So this is where you go all demony on me?"
"No, I'm a growing boy and I need my sleep so I can work my wicked ways on you later."
Xander flashed a grin at him as he rolled over. Connor spooned up behind him, wrapping Xander in the type of bear hug the other man had held him in all night, clutching at what goodness remained, now that the other heroes were gone.