Hero Chapter 7

Hero Chapter 7 (7/8)

Will woke slowly, muzzy from a late night.  Second night of a gig and it had been great - they'd stayed up and partied and taken a walk on the beach, having a blast.  They were - where?  Somewhere near L.A.  He couldn't actually remember.  He grinned to himself a little.

*Getting old, if I can't remember where I am.  Not like I did any real partying.*   And he hadn't partied, because...  Will stretched a little, and then snuggled back down, curving himself closer around the furnace-warm body that was pressed against him, back to chest.

*Because getting wasted with Xander around is a bad idea.  And I don't need to get drunk when I've got this.*  Will ran his hand slowly up and down Xander's forearm - linked their fingers together and let his lips rest on the silky hair that was tangled over Xander's neck and shoulders.   

Four months, since - everything.  Four months since the hospital and Xander finally calling him Will.  And they were finally sleeping together.  Not sleeping together - just - sleeping, cuddling.  Frustrating each other to no end but they both wanted to go slow - they were both a little scared.  Xander was still prone to slipping, a little.  And Will - was just afraid of hurting him, of pushing him too far, too fast.  Xander still had that little-boy quality about him for all he was only three years younger than Will, and it made him feel protective and...

*Makes me wanna be responsible.  Makes me wanna do it right.*   Will had had his share of sex - you got a lot when you were in a band, even if the band wasn't famous.  Groupies of both sexes waited outside your dressing-room door or by the van.  Kids who just wanted to touch that other world for a while - wanted to be up there with the stars, even if it was all a sham.

But with Xander - he just wanted it to be...right.  Wanted to make it perfect and Xander was nervous.  He wasn't a virgin - or so he said - but he confused what he'd done with what his other had done, and he couldn't be sure. 

*But I can wait,*   Will thought, and inhaled deeply the warm scent of the boy - musk and sweat and smoke from the club - a little lavender oil and clean cotton.  Too tired to shower last night so Xander had just pulled on a clean t-shirt and underwear and fallen into the bed, and Will the same except no shirt for him, because Xander was so warm, he didn't need to.

*Not even naked!  Devon would laugh his ass off.*   Devon did laugh, from time to time - he'd heard the stories and knew Will had his 'past'.  But as funny as he thought the shrinking virgin routine was, he didn't say anything about it around Xander.   Nobody did.  They all took their cue from Will and his dad, and treated Xander as if his occasional slips into the world of vampires and demons was just - someone telling war-stories, or talking about a book they were writing.  Even Tara - when Xander had grabbed her hand one night and pulled her into a hard hug - told her he was so glad she wasn't dead.  She'd just - hugged him back, told him she was glad too.  Will had left her a ten-dollar tip, that night.

Xander was getting better - he really was.  He was really living in this world now - taking part and pushing the other stuff away.  Coming to terms with it and letting it be what it was - dreams that seemed real, but weren't - couldn't beHe wasn't letting them take him over, anymore.  He'd even looked up his foster-dad and gone for a visit.  He'd made Giles and Will come, and they'd met in the park.  The other man - Wood his name was, Robin Wood, a tall African-American man - had stood stiff and still, ex-military obvious in his bearing.  And then he'd broken down and cried, and hugged Xander too him, called him son and told him how much he'd missed him - how he'd been trying to find him and help him but Social Services didn't know anything, and all the red tape, and how was he, was he okay?  Xander had been on cloud nine - had remembered that man, and how much of a father he'd been.  Had remembered love.  They got together now - they were trying to bridge the years when Xander had just been gone, and Robin - was becoming part of the family.

 Xander was twitching just a little - his breathing was getting uneven - and Will got up on one elbow, leaning over him.  Rubbing his shoulder and chest, trying to calm him.  He was having nightmare, Will was sure, and he wanted to try and get him out of it before it got bad.

"Xan?  Love, wake up - it's okay.  I'm right here, love it's -"   There was a sudden, low rumbling - a bone-deep sound that hurt, somehow, and then everything in the room shuddered.  The bed vibrated, slipping sideways, and the soda cans and assorted junk on the dresser juddered and rattled, skipping towards the edge.

"Christ!  Xan - wake up!  Xander, come on, we have to -"   Xander jerked in his arms - lifted his head and stared, wide-eyed.  Will scrambled awkwardly over him and hauled him out of the bed, dragging him towards the bathroom doorway.

"C'mon, Xan!  It's a quake!  Just a - little one - come on -"   Xander stumbled after him, his hand clutching Will's in a bone-cracking grip and they both braced in the doorway, watching their toothbrushes and combs bounce to the floor - watching the plaster over the toilet crack and rain down a fine veil of dust. 

A minute later and it was over.  Will could hear the wailing of car alarms - fire and police sirens - and he took a deep, gulping breath, sagging back against the doorframe, his heart pounding painfully fast.

"Fuck!  I don't think I'll ever fuckin' get used to that," he said, grinning over at Xander.  And then not grinning, because Xander's face was white and he was sinking to the floor - he was shaking and Will felt the dread rise up - felt his stomach knot.

*Oh god - fuck - what now, what now -*

"Xander?  What is it, love?  It's all over now -"  Will crouched down next to him, reaching out to touch his shoulder and Xander shuddered - lifted his eyes to Will's and they were wide and empty.

"It's gone," Xander whispered, and Will squeezed his shoulder.

"What's gone, love?"

"S-sunnydale.  It's - gone, it's...just a hole, just a p-pit-"  Will thought his heart stopped for a second, and then he was shaking his head, feeling the sweat break out all over him.

"No, it's not!  Xander - c'mon love, just...  It's not gone, Xan, that was just a tiny little quake, that wasn't anything."

"No - Will, no, it - it's gone, it's - they were fighting it, they were fighting something so - so terrible and Spike - oh god, oh god -"  Xander curled down around himself, crying now, and Will had the desperate urge to shake him - to shout at him, and knew it wouldn't do a bit of good.

*Get yourself together, damnit!  He doesn’t need you losing it, too!  Nothing's wrong back home - they probably didn't even feel that, he's just - having a nightmare, not awake yet, he's - bloody fucking HELL, it's not real!*  But it felt real, or at least the fear did, squeezing his throat tight and making his stomach roil.  Because despite everything it was still so real for Xander, and sometimes - sometimes deep inside, in the very darkest part of the night, Will thought it was real, too.  And that scared the hell out of him.

"Xander?  I'm - I'm gonna get the phone.  Just don't move, okay?  Don't move."  Will scrambled up and across the floor - retrieved the cell from where it had fallen, cushioned by a tangle of dirty clothes.  He hit memory one and got back to Xander fast, getting down on the floor next to him and pulling him close.  Staying under the door-way just in case there were aftershocks.  The phone rang once - twice - a third time. 

*Fuck, I don't even know what time it is!  He's probably asleep, damnit -*

"Hello?"  His dad's voice, sleep-fuzzed and hesitant, and Will let out a shaky breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding.

"Dad?  Hey - dad - s-sorry I woke you up, I -"   Will could hear his voice - trembling and small - and he knew he was probably freaking his dad out but -

But Xander was crying, damnit, Xander was shaking like a leaf and it was freaking Will out.

"Will?  What's wrong?  Is everything all right?  Are you hurt?"  Instant awareness - his dad's voice getting sharp and a little loud, and Will took a deep breath, calming himself down.

"Yeah, I - we're fine, everything's....  Listen, dad, I'm sorry.  We just got - there was a quake.  Just a little one.  We just got woke up by it and -   Well, Xander really - freaked out.  He said - he said Sunnydale was gone, just a big - pit - and... I kinda lost it, too."  There was long moment of silence on the other end, and then Will could hear rustling - could hear his dad getting up, probably, or at least sitting up in the bed.

"Bloody hell," Giles murmured.  "But you're all right - the two of you are all right?"

"Yeah, we're fine.  It was a small one.  Just - you know - a little plaster dust in our hair."  Beside him Xander shuddered, scrunching closer, and Will rested his cheek on Xander's hair - hugged him tight.

"It's okay, love - it's okay..." he whispered.

"What was that?  You're all right.  And - I'm fine as well.  I understand - well, it's perfectly normal to be a little - overwhelmed.  But I can assure you," his dad said, and there was an edge of laughter to his voice, "that Sunnydale is fine.  I didn't feel a thing so I'm sure that - that your quake didn't even reach us."

"Yeah - okay.  God, I'm sorry, I didn't meant to - to call you and freak you out, I was just -"

"It's all right, Will," Giles said softly.   "I'm glad you called.  Let - would it help if I spoke to Xander?"  Will thought about that for a moment.

"Yeah - it probably would.  Hang on, okay?"  Will set the phone down and got his hands on Xander's shoulders - made him sit up.  Xander's face was still shocked and pale - he was crying, but silent, so silent.  Will wiped at his cheeks, smiling at him a little.

"Love - love, hey, it's okay.  Xander?  My dad's on the phone - he wants to talk to you.  Sunnydale is fine, love - it really is.  Would you - would you talk to him?"  Xander stared at him - sniffed, and wiped his nose, and took a hard breath.

"I - I saw it -"

"I know you did, love.  But - here is fine.  Here's here, love. It was just a dream, yeah?  Just another dream, love.  Will you talk to him?"  Will held out the phone and Xander looked at it - reached a trembling hand out and took it.

"G-giles?"  Will watched him - watched him sag in shock and relief as his dad answered him.

"Okay - okay..." Xander whispered finally, and handed the phone back - leaned into Will's chest, shuddering.

"I guess I'd better go," Will said, and he could hear water running.

"All right - call me when - well, call me later.  I'm going to watch the news - see how much damage was done.  It might be difficult to get out of there for a couple of hours."

"Yeah.  I'll call in a while.  Thanks, dad," he said softly, and he heard his father sigh down the line.

"Of course, Will.  Thank god you're all right.  Do you - would you like me to come down? I can, if -"

Will laughed, and it was shaky and a little strained, but it felt good.  "No, that's okay - we'll be okay.  Be home soon, I hope...  Love you, dad."

"I love you too, Will.  Goodbye."

"'Bye."  Will clicked the phone shut - put his arms around Xander and held him close.  "Now tell me, love - tell me what happened." 

Xander sniffed - sat up a little, wiping his eyes.  "God.  I was - I mean, he - the other one.  He was - in the school.  They -rebuilt it, you know? In the same damn - place.  And - something was there - something...horrible.  It was killing - all these people, it was - it was telling them lies and... It had you - it -   I mean, it had Spike, it hurt him, it..."  Xander took a deep breath and pushed his hands back through his hair, and Will put his hand on his knee, rubbing gently.

"It's okay.  Just go slow, yeah?"

"Yeah," Xander said.  "Anyway, there was just - these monsters.  Everywhere.  And - S-spike was the only one...  He was the only one who could save them all.  And I - he - was c-crying because...  He had to die.  He had to -   God, Will - he's dead.  Spike's dead, and Sunnydale is gone and - and I - he - he just wants to die, too."  Xander looked up at him, pain and loss etched across his face, and Will felt a lurch of fear and horror go through him.  That other - his double?  His - self.  Was dead.  It was...creepy.

"Oh, love - I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry."  Will pulled Xander close for a hug - kissed his temple and they both leaned there for a minute.

"I - I don't know what to do, Will.  He's so unhappy...  He just wants to - to jump down into that crater...  It's a fucking crater, Will!  The whole damn city is just - gone, and Spike's gone and...everybody's crying but..."

"Maybe - maybe you can make him feel better?  Maybe - I dunno...  There's magic there, love - maybe he isn't really dead.  Maybe...  I mean, he's a vampire, right?  Maybe he'll survive it."  Xander was shaking his head but finally he stopped and sighed - wiped impatiently at his face.

"Yeah, maybe.  I mean - they brought Buffy back.  She was dead and Willow - resurrected her.  So maybe..."  He sighed again, and then raised a small smile.  "Sorry I - I scared you. I didn't mean to."

"Oh, honey, it's okay.  I don't care.  Hell of a way to wake up, huh?"  Will had to laugh - nerves and tension and left-over adrenalin from the quake and Xander laughed with him, the both of them holding on to each other and rocking back and forth until someone pounded on the door.

"Will!  Hey, Will, Xander - you guys okay?"  It was Oz and Devon and they pushed inside when Will opened the door, laughing as well, grabbing them and pounding them on the back - hugging.  Oz and Devon were both in jeans, water on their arms and backs, hair wet.

"We were in the shower when - I mean, Jesus!  Oz is fuckin' awesome but I never came so hard the building shook!" Devon said, and Will thought he'd hurt himself, he was laughing so hard.  Xander blushed bright red but he was laughing too, hanging on Oz's shoulder while Oz just rolled his eyes, as unruffled as always.

"Christ, Devon - only you," Will choked out.

"Hey - I really did think it was Oz for a minute," Devon said, slinging his arm around the shorter man and kissing his cheek and Oz poked him in the side.

"You're such a dork," Oz said.  "So you guys are okay, right?  It wasn't too bad."

"Nah - we're fine.  Just freaked us out a little.  We were sleeping.  Did you turn on the news?  Think we'll be able to get out of here any time soon?"   Will went over to the TV and turned it on, and they all settled on the beds to watch CNN - to see fire trucks and ambulances threading their way through the streets.  Not bad, really - a small quake and some damage, but nothing horrific.  Xander went to take a fast shower and came out brushing his teeth and Will got a shower too, dressing while some anchor-woman showed them the extent of the quake.  And his dad was right, the shocks hadn't even been felt in Sunnydale.   Xander ginned at him, pulling on clean jeans, and Will grinned back.  Things were - just fine.