Word Count: 4,020
Xander jingled the car keys, waiting for Kylie. She was ready to move on to another party, but wanted to say good night to a few of her friends first. He'd lost sight of her as she drifted to and from various spots but he was always aware of the general vicinity she was in.
So, it took him by surprise to see a guy reach out and grab onto her arm, jerking her toward him. Even at night with only one eye, Xander could tell the movement wasn't a gentle one. And it wasn't meant to be either.
Xander gave the guy a minute, assuming he was drunk and had Kylie confused with someone else. When that was obviously not the case he started toward them.
"I saw you before you went into the gym," he heard as he approached.
"Me and a few dozen other girls from school, Scott."
"You looked nice."
"Thank you," she said, sounding truly flattered. He couldn't see her face just yet to know for sure. "I didn't see you."
"I didn't go to the dance. I was just sitting in the parking lot, watching."
"Don't be. I could have asked someone else if I really wanted to."
So, this guy had asked her and she'd said no? Xander wasn't sure how he felt about that. Bad for the guy, for sure, because he knew what it felt like to get the nerve up to ask 'the girl' and be shot down. However, he was here as Kylie's date not to do any male bonding over the mindset of women and the choices they make.
And besides, if she'd wanted to go with him she would have said so and told Xander she'd changed her mind or something. It wasn't as if they were promised to one another or anything. With that in mind, he did what any real date would do, he swooped into rescue the damsel in distress.
"You ready to go, Kylie?" Xander said, deciding that pretending he hadn't seen the rough way the guy had handled Kylie. If he let on he'd seen, well he wasn't sure he could contain himself. Or that the guy still had said hand on her arm, though it didn't look like he was hurting her. The last thing he needed was to have Bill called out here because Xander punched a minor.
"Yeah," she said, sounding relieved he'd come.
"No," she said.
"You sure," he prompted.
"Scott was just telling me I looked nice earlier."
"That you did, and I'm sure he'll understand that while I still have you as my date for the evening I'd appreciate it if he kept his hands to himself. Because I'd really hate getting mad right now, and I'm sure everyone else here wouldn't appreciate Bill or any of his deputies having to come out here and ruin the fun they're having."
The guy released her arm then, backing away. He didn't say anything else. Xander just offered him a smile and draped his arm around her shoulder. He wasn't really the possessive type, but it seemed appropriate and he was pretty sure Kylie would appreciate it.
He handed her the keys since she was going to drive to the next location. He didn't mind letting her drive since she knew the roads better than he did. Letting her drive to dinner and prom hadn't seemed right, though, so he'd pretty well insisted he do the driving earlier in the evening.
She slid an arm around his waist, letting her head rest against his side. She was short enough that she fit against him nicely. She was colder than she'd let on, too, because he felt her shiver this close.
"Okay then, let's get you to the car so you don't freeze to death."
The other guy snorted. Xander did the best to glare at him with the one eye he had available to do that with.
"Night Scott," Kylie said, letting Xander guide her toward the car.
"Who's that?" he asked once they'd walked out of earshot.
"No one. I mean, just a guy I go to school with."
"Huh," Xander said.
"He's nobody, really. Just someone who asked me, thinking I'd be desperate to go. So when I said I had a date and it wasn't anyone from school, he thought I was lying."
"And came to see if you were?"
"Something like that."
"Why would he think you were lying?"
"Well, we lost a lot of people you know. It wasn't just my parents and sisters. There were more. Lots more. I was sure that night leaving the scene with Bill and Starla that we were the only three left. It wasn't as apocalyptic as all that, but it still took its toll on our already little town."
"So, not a huge selection of willing guys to take you to prom?"
She laughed. "Yeah, sums it up pretty well."
He had to admit, it would be interesting to find out why there'd been so many survivors. Why hadn't they been infested? Had they fought back as Kylie had? Had they been passed over? Or had they just not been gotten to yet?
He walked her to the driver's door, opening it for her before getting in on the passenger side.
"So, where to now?"
She shook her head as she started the car. He noticed she turned the heater on almost immediately.
"You aren't telling?"
"Nope. It's a surprise."
"Okay then," he said.
He let his head fall back against the headrest, watching the road but not really paying attention. Until they turned onto a road familiar to him even though he'd had few occasions to travel on it.
"Kylie," he said softly, knowing now where she was taking him.
He didn't say anything else. Maybe there was a party at one of the few other houses along the road.
Nope, sure enough she turned onto her driveway. The mailbox still marked it as belonging to the Strutemyer's. It did still belong to them, he realized, just one of them now. Kylie. He wouldn't be surprised to see her sell the house one of these days.
There were no lights on, predictably since no one lived here. Anyone in the area knew she didn't so turning any on would be futile.
He had to admit, he liked the house. He'd only been inside of it once for about an hour, but it was nice. Her parents clearly did well with their farming.
Kylie opened her purse and reached to the bottom where she'd safety pinned the key to the lining earlier. She hadn't expected Bill to search her purse, but she wouldn't have put it past him either. He would have seen the key if he took everything out, but under her silver cell phone, the key didn't really stand out.
She wasn't sure what Xander was thinking. Or what he was feeling. She really had no idea why she was doing this. It had been one of her friend's ideas. Kylie had dismissed it at first until last night at dinner. She sat there listening to the plans her friends had with their guys after the dance and she'd decided.
She opened her door and got out before he could say anything. He didn't seem like he was going to, but she could just picture what was going through his mind.
She was tempted to ask him if he was going to stay in the car, but was a little afraid of the answer. So, she kept her back to him as difficult as it was to do.
She unlocked the door, glancing behind her when she heard the car door close. God, he was cute. She'd seen cuter and most would probably think the patch took away from his looks. She didn't think so, though. Maybe because he didn't treat it as any big deal. She remembered in the restaurant one night when he'd covered his good eye and pointed at the menu as a way to decide what he'd have to eat. And she knew how he'd lost the eye. He'd trusted her enough to tell her things that she was pretty sure no one outside of his circle of friends knew about.
She felt him stiffen as she touched it out in front of the diner last night. She hadn't meant to, but her fingers had been touching his hair and there the strings were. She had no idea what the eye looked like under the patch. She wouldn't think to ask such a thing, but after what she'd seen here in Wheelsy she doubted too much could gross her out.
"I thought Bill left the power on?" he asked softly when she proceeded through the front door into the house without flipping a light switch.
"He did. I don't need lights," she whispered.
"Why are we whispering?"
She gave a soft laugh. "I don't know. I guess habit from when I was coming in from doing something wrong."
"Did you do wrong things often, Kylie?"
"A time or two. Nothin' real bad. I wasn't out whoring around or anything, if that's what you're asking."
"None of my business even if you were," he said.
"Just my parents were so strict, they wouldn't let me do anything."
"So you took it upon yourself to do things."
"Right. Exactly," she whispered, glad he seemed to understand without judging. "Did you have to do that much?"
"Yeah. If you were helping Buffy I'd think you'd have had to."
"Well, yeah, but that's assuming my parents were sober enough by dark to even notice our house was on fire let alone my not being in bed asleep."
"I'm sorry. I forgot, I shouldn't have…"
"Kylie, it's okay," he said with a shrug. "No big, right? I'm here, I survived. Who really has a normal life? I told you about our friend Cordelia's parents. One of her friends got turned."
"Yeah, you know, made a vamp."
"Oh," she said simply. "You were friends with people who became vamps?"
"Well, sure, just like you said about Wheelsy not being that big, neither was Sunnydale. It didn't happen real often, but sure. Buffy had to stake a friend of hers she'd known since grade school."
"Ouch," she said as she stopped just inside the family room. She took a deep breath. This was do or die time. She could still turn back, take him to another room and he'd never know she had gone to any effort to prepare for this. "I can't believe that's real. I mean, I lived through something no one would believe if they didn't see."
"Well, most anyone then. And yet, I still find it hard to believe the things you talk about are real."
"They're real. I'll show you one day."
"Really," she said, not wanting to sound too hopeful. But that meant he was thinking of seeing her again. One day. Who knew when? But at least he wasn't leaving here after the weekend putting her out of his mind permanently.
"Sure. You already know about us, no harm in showing you some things."
She picked up the matchbook from the table and struck a match, using it to light a few candles that she and her friends had set out earlier. The house was still furnished so she could have chosen any number of rooms in the house. Like her bedroom, but she thought that'd just freak him out beyond reason. She didn't want that humiliation. Not tonight anyway.
"Kylie," he said but she continued what she was doing.
Blowing out the match, she lit another one, moving onto more candles until she could see him pretty clearly with the light they put out. Her last stop was the entertainment center where the stereo was. The TV was in her room at Bill's house now, but the stereo was still here.
"How long did it take Claire to get your hair like that anyway?"
She smiled, turning to face him after finding the station she wanted. Not her usual choice, but tonight was different.
"Not real long. I don't know how long it's supposed to take."
"Never had it done like that before?"
"Nope," she said, adding mentally that she probably wouldn't have reason to again anytime soon. That's why she'd left it up. She liked it, thought it made her look not necessarily older but, just different.
He took in their surroundings. It wasn't the most romantic setup, which made her feel a little self-conscious. The family room had been setup for comfort not romance or coziness. Though the coach was comfortable for snuggling. She'd used it a couple of times for that purpose.
"Why?" she asked.
"Just curious, it looks nice and it's stayed put pretty well."
"That's more the hairsprays doing than Claire's I think. I'll probably need to wash it a couple of times to get it all out."
"I admit, I like it down, though." He smiled then, his gaze finally coming to rest on her. "When did you have time to do this?"
"This morning. I had some help."
"Yeah. A couple of friends. Are you mad?"
"Mad?" He shook his head, tilting it a little as if thinking. "Why would I be mad?"
"Well, you said that…"
"I said that's not why I'm here. I didn't say I'm not attracted to you."
He scoffed. "Yeah, I'm here, aren't I? You think I'd fly here from London to take someone to prom I wasn't attracted to?"
"You could be…"
"I'm not just being nice, but this," he said, gesturing to the room. "Isn't why I came here, Kylie."
She walked to him then. The rush of him admitting his attraction to her fueling her feet to start moving. She took his hands in hers and drew him toward the blankets she'd placed on the floor where the great big, oak coffee table usually was. She and her friends had moved it out of the room earlier.
She nibbled a little on her lower lip, thinking this through. She wasn't trying to give him the wrong idea, and she had the feeling that whatever did happen tonight would be due to her prompting not his.
"Just sit down for a minute," she said.
"All right," he said.
She waited until he actually sat before going into the kitchen. So far so good. He hadn't run away or told her he was taking her back to Bill's place.
She got the few things she'd bought at the store earlier together and returned to the family room. He was still sitting on the floor. She set the tray down and started back toward the kitchen.
"You've got more?"
"Just one more trip," she said.
"All right," he said, glancing at the tray. "This is a lot, though."
It wasn't that much. Just some fruit. Okay, a lot of fruit. She wasn't sure what he liked so she'd gone all out and bought a little of everything she could think of.
She went back to the kitchen to collect the last of the stuff.
"You didn't buy that today," he said when she came back.
"No. It's my parents. I don't know what they had it in the fridge for."
"Bill left a bottle of champagne in your fridge?"
"He pretty much threw out anything that would spoil and left the rest. I don't think he thought of my coming out here."
"Or at least not with a guy, huh."
"Maybe not." She handed him the corkscrew as she joined him on the floor. His back was resting against the couch, which was what she'd pictured when imagining this scene. "Here, you can do it."
"Are you trying to get me drunk, Miss Strutemyer?"
She gave a soft giggle. "I'm not trying to get either of us drunk. I just wanted to do something special to remember this night by." And you, though she left that part unsaid. "Besides, if I have to get you drunk, I wouldn't want you anyway."
He slid a hand to her shoulder, cupping it before he slid it to her neck. He brushed the back of his hand against her throat, causing her to shiver before he let his palm rest at the nape of her neck. He drew her toward him, kissing her lightly.
"You wouldn't have to get me drunk. I promise you."
"Thank you," she said, knowing she was blushing profusely now.
He drew away, putting the corkscrew to use and opening the bottle. He poured them each a glass in the flutes she'd brought in with the bottle.
"So, the fruit?" he asked.
"Can't drink on an empty stomach," she said with a shrug, grabbing a cherry and eating it.
He reached for a strawberry. He didn't eat it, though. Instead he dipped it into the champagne and after withdrawing it, held it to her lips. She took a bite, groaning softly at the bittersweet taste the combination offered her and at the little bit of juice that coated her lips. He drew the stem away.
"That tastes good," she whispered as he leaned in to kiss her.
"It sure does."
She kissed him then, arms going around his neck as it deepened. She groaned softly as his lips opened a little. She dipped her tongue into the opening, shivering at the sensation. This was way different than his kissing her in a parking lot. They were alone here, no one was watching. There was no doubt he was doing this, kissing her because he wanted to not so she could save face in front of her friends or anything.
This wasn't about sex and he seemed to know that just as well as she did because he remained a perfect gentleman. They kissed and talked about whatever came to their minds and kissed some more but he never tried to push her further. The bottle of champagne was emptied at a leisurely pace and the fruit was picked over and nibbled on as the mood struck them.
His hands never strayed where they shouldn't have. She could tell a couple of times he was tempted, but he always stopped before she had to worry about whether she should let him go any further.
She learned more about Sunnydale and his life there while she told him more about herself before Wheelsy had been invaded. She told him about Bill and Starla and how happy she was Claire'd come to town when she had.
Eventually, once the candles she'd lit earlier had burned down to practically nothing they fell asleep.
Xander woke, unable to move his arm. He opened his good eye, trying to remember where exactly he was. There were no bounds holding his arm down. It was merely the weight of a sleeping Kylie. One of them had drawn one of the blankets around the both of them at some point. She was still sleeping soundly as far as he could tell.
It had been a long time since he'd slept with a girl. Just slept. He couldn't remember the last time. And, as odd as it may seem to some, it was more beneficial to him than any sort of sex they could have engaged in the night before. Being surrounded by women who could beat him in fist-to-fist combat and save the world without breaking a sweat didn't lend itself well to stroking the old ego.
He wasn't sure what it said that he found that in a not quite yet legal aged woman. He'd say it was comfort, but it was more than that. He felt like a piece of him that had been laying dormant since before Anya died felt alive. He felt wanted and needed, things that despite the skills he had to offer the Council he just didn't feel all that often anymore.
And he hadn't even needed sex to feel those things.
Not that the thought hadn't crossed his mind when he realized this was where she was bringing him. It would have been relatively easy for him to push just that little bit more. He was willing to bet she'd have caved. He didn't want that, though.
He stood, slowly disengaging his arm from under her. She gave a soft groan but otherwise remained asleep. He walked to his jacket and pulled out his cell phone. It was past sunrise so there was no way Bill wasn't already awake, wondering where Kylie was. This was a phone call he dreaded making, but he had to do it.
The sound of the doorbell stopped him from going any further than scrolling through his contacts list to her home number. There weren't very many people who would come out here, knowing the house was vacant and ring the bell. It narrowed it down to Bill, Claire or one of Bill's officers.
He padded to the front door, running his hand through his hair as he went. He must look a disheveled sight. At least his patch had stayed in place. He hadn't slept with it on in a long time.
He was relieved to see Claire standing there.
"Hi," he said. "I was just about to call," he said, showing her the cell phone as if it was some sort of proof that the scene was not at all what it looked like.
"I thought you'd be here."
"I suspected. Bill got called away to an accident out of town a bit so he doesn't know she's not home yet."
"Well, let's fix that. I swear nothing happened," he said, holding the door open for her. He led her to the living room where Kylie now sat on the couch, obviously awake and fearing that it was Bill not Claire coming to read her the riot act.
"Hey," Kylie said simply.
"Hi," Claire said, eyes taking in the scene before her. It was clear they'd slept together but Xander was pretty sure it was obvious that's all they'd done.
"Why don't you take her home and I'll clean up here. Bill would expect the both of you to be home."
"That's nice of you," Claire said. "I don't want him to worry."
"Why isn't he here?"
Claire glanced at Kylie, realizing she didn't know. "There was an accident."
"Was it bad?"
Claire shrugged. "I don't know. I just know he got a call real early and he left right away. He didn't even kiss me goodbye, so I'm guessing it was serious."
"Are you going to tell him?"
Claire laughed lightly. "Not in this lifetime. You may not be his, but one day we might have one or two that are his. I don't want him worrying about things he has no control over before they even start. Let's get going," she said, leaving them alone in the room.
"I woke up and you were gone," she said softly.
"I'm sorry. I woke up, saw that it was daylight, and knew I had to call."
"You weren't awake long?"
"I bet my side of the floor was still warm it hadn't been that long at all."
"That's the second time you asked me that. No, I'm not mad," he said, sliding a finger to her chin. He tilted her face up so he could kiss her. "I had a good time."
"Me, too," she whispered, pulling away. "Will I see you later?"
"I'm in town for two more days yet and I have no one else to see but you, so yes."
She smiled, stretching up to kiss him again. "Come over for lunch."
"I'll be there."
"Good. And thanks for cleaning up."
"No problem. It's not a big mess or anything and Claire's right, you need to get home so Bill doesn't know or he'll forbid me from seeing you the rest of the time I'm here."
"And that would be bad?"
"It would be," he said with a nod.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com