Xander closed his eyes
against the bright artificial light that suffused the plane. The
low murmur of conversation was undercut by the strangely muted
roar of the engines and the hum of the air conditioner. He'd loved
flying the first time he'd been, eighteen months ago, after the
destruction of Sunnydale. The way the plane shuddered and vibrated
through his whole body, the way you were pushed back into the
seat when it took off, the feeling of leaving it all behind. He
didn't particularly like the thought that there was no-where
to run if and, let's face it, probably when, they were attacked
by demons, or terrorists, or the engine just went and fell off
the plane, but as long as it he concentrated on not thinking about
that, it had been a lot of fun.
it was starting to lose its appeal. After months travelling to
England, Europe, back to L.A., back to England and thence all
around Africa--and he could only thank Christ the Watchers had
agreed to spring for first-class, such as it was, all the way
around that continent--he'd almost fainted at the relief
when he'd realised he was back on civilised flights where the
passengers weren't allowed to smoke. He could honestly say it
was not as much fun as it'd cracked up to be.
pressed his fingers to his temple as though that would somehow
magically push the ache that had developed a good fifteen hours
ago out of his head. Surprise, surprise, it wasn't working. It
sill amazed him sometimes that his empty eye socket could hurt
so much. Probably would have been more sensible to wear his glass
eye, but he just couldn't do that when he was flying. Dawn had
jokingly remarked that you wouldn't want the pressure to change
suddenly while you were in the air and have it explode all inside
your head. Which, okay, would so never happen, but really, gross
much. He could practically feel his heart pounding out a steady,
flaring beat behind the patch. He'd already taken more paracetamol
than a healthy human being probably should, and at this stage
he was wondering if he shouldn't fall back on that old classic;
shitloads of alcohol.
was the air, mostly. That artificial, recycled smell that after
a while made him feel like
he was back in the boy's locker room after gym class in winter.
That, and the lights, the air hosts, or whatever the hell they
were calling them these days, who were alternately rude and irritating
or over-friendly and cloying, the tiny little television screen,
the total lack of sleep...
he could admit that little problem had less to do with
the headache and more to do with thoughts of a certain blond vampire
he'd left behind five months ago and who he could theoretically
be seeing in less than two hours.
that he thought Spike would be there to meet him at the airport
or anything. Last he'd heard from Spike had been last Friday,
when he'd called for their weekly conversation. He'd left a message
with Harmony the day before yesterday saying when he'd be in,
but hadn't heard anything after that, although granted he had
been on a plane like twelve hours after he'd called her. He'd
spent the last twenty or so hours telling himself firmly that
he was not going to pick up the weird looking phone in
the back of the seat in front of him and call ... anybody. Spike
either got the message or he didn't and he'd either be there or
he wouldn't and Xander really didn't care either way. Really.
There was no part of him that went all gooey at the thought of
Spike slouching against a pillar, his arms folded across his chest,
watching all the people with that kinda creepy speculative gaze
he got when he thought no-one was looking. And if he could see
in perfect, technicolour detail the way Spike would straighten
when Xander came out of the gate, the small smile that would curve
his lips and paint sparkling lights in his eyes ... then it was
just 'cause he knew Spike really well ... and he wouldn't be there
anyway so he had to get his kicks where he could. Not that he
cared either way. Yeah, that was it.
and opened his eyes, looking out the window. There was still a
slight pinkish tinge to the sky behind them, but they were flying
directly into darkness. Who was he trying to kid, really? Next
he'd be trying to convince himself that his flight was arriving
at LAX a couple of hours after sunset just by chance. He'd given
up on that argument a good hour ago.
seen Spike in five months. Four weeks they'd had, one whole month
for that thing that had started when Xander came back from the
past with Spike's mystical cure for ghostliness. On the whole,
it had been fucking fantastic. He snickered silently to himself.
In more ways than one. Spike, it turned out, was almost as much
fun as Anya when it came to sex. And it had been nice to be able
to think of her without all the accompanying sense of loss. He
knew that as long as she always held a piece of his heart, she
would have wanted him to have someone. He could only hope that,
where ever she was, she knew that she did. But while Spike wasn't
nearly as old as she had been, in one hundred and some years he'd
worked up a pretty thorough list of interesting ways to have sex.
There were even a few things Anya had never talked about.
again, the great sex hadn't really come as such a surprise, it
being Spike they were talking about. What had been something
of a revelation was just how well they worked together all the
rest of the time. That is to say, he'd known they were capable
of getting along and he'd been shown firsthand on several occasions
just what a good person Spike was, but still .... after three
years of mutual pig-headed dislike, he kept expecting taunts that
these days were closer to teasing, arrogance that was just plain
cute when it wasn't directed at him and derisive dismissals that
never even looked like they were planning on showing up.
that there weren't arguments. Hell, they wouldn't be Spike and
Xander if there weren't arguments. He couldn't imagine being in
any relationship where he wasn't fighting with the other
person a good fifty percent of the time. But they were friendly
arguments, as in the sort that friends have, because that's what
they were. Friends. Not acquaintances, or allies, or roomMates--although
there had been a fair bit of that going on, too--or even two people
who disliked each other but used each other to get off; they were
had taken Xander out to dinner, eventually, had even paid for
said dinner. Xander had gone out and bought Spike breakfast, heating
it up and giving it to him in bed. Sometimes they'd swapped and
Xander had ordered the dinner and Spike had made breakfast. It
was a whole food thing. And that had made it seem more ... respectable,
somehow. You didn't nick off with someone else's sweet and sour
pork if it was just a one night stand, or, okay, more than one
night, but still ... food meant relationship, Xander was sure
week long relationship which had ended with Xander agreeing to
help with finding the slayers in Africa. He hadn't thought it'd
take all that long, and even if it had, he hadn't figured it could
be all that hard to maintain a long-distance relationship until
he got back. Spike had been pretty pissed when he'd told him what
was going on, but that was okay. Xander would have been hurt if
Spike hadn't seemed to care one way or the other. And he thought
he'd seen something in the other man's eyes as they'd said goodbye.
Something like loss, or pleading, or maybe, when he was alone
in a cold, unfamiliar bed in the middle of the night, something
that had looked like love. It was what had kept him going, given
him hope. Sure, they talked once a week, but it wasn't the same.
Every time, he wanted to end the conversation with 'I miss you'
or 'I love you' but he never did and the closest Spike ever came
was asking quietly when he'd be back. After three months he'd
stopped asking even that.
everything that had happened at Wolfram and Hart over the past
months and Spike knew more about Africa than he'd probably ever
wanted to know. They talked, they laughed, they occasionally reminisced
or got a little wistful and knew they were both wishing they could
at least be on the same continent, but damn it if they didn't
both manage to act like totally straight men and never actually
talk about anything they were feeling.
even sure they were still, like, a couple. It wasn't like they'd
made any commitments or anything. It was like that look
in Spike's eyes. Like everything that'd been all explicit but
unspoken five months ago. He'd swear to anyone that asked him
that they'd had an understanding, but five months down the track
he was starting to wonder just what exactly it was they
had both understood. It was all kinda ... hazy. Or not hazy, but
... they were just pictures in his head. Every time he got them
out to study they seemed smaller, further away, and he couldn't
help but wonder just how much of what he remembered was what had
actually happened and how much was pure wishful thinking. Something,
let's face it, he really didn't suck at.
was this corner of his mind carefully preparing itself for the
fact that Spike had moved on, found someone else. That was frantically
building brick walls to keep out the crushing disappointment that
threatened every time he thought, quite reasonably, that there
was no reason to imagine Spike would have waited for him, that
he'd probably slept with heaps of people over the past few months.
have been different if they'd ever called themselves anything
but friends. But they hadn't. They hadn't been boyfriends, or
lovers, or partners, or anything even vaguely suggesting serious,
monogamous, long-term relationship. That was another one of those
things Xander had just gone and taken for granted. Assumed Spike
had taken for granted, too.
was, he hadn't started questioning it until seeing Spike in a
matter of days had become a certainty. Then, the insecurities
had decided they'd been ignored long enough and banded into a
union to diligently plague his every goddamn waking thought and
all of the sleeping ones he could remember.
want to hope. Hope was for suckers. But god he wanted Spike to
be there when he got off this plane.
Spike wasn't there.
himself walk through the doors and down the ramp to the seating
area before he let his eyes flicker around all the milling people,
glancing over families and friends and a few anxious faces, but
not really seeing any of them. He wasn't there. He would have
been pretty unmistakeable.
wasn't disappointed. Really. Hope and expectation were two entirely
different things, and this was nothing more than he'd expected.
He squared his shoulders and glanced around for a sign to point
him the way to the baggage terminal. And was shocked to see a
young man in a black suit holding a plaque with his name on it.
For a split second he wanted to ignore it. He had to clench his
jaw to get rid of the tears he could feel pricking the back of
his eye. Harmony must have sent it, which meant she hadn't forgotten
he was coming, which meant she would have told Spike, which meant
Xander couldn't imagine Spike wasn't here because he didn't know
he was supposed to be ... That is to say, didn't know when his
flight was getting in.
a forced mental sneer at his foolishness, he slung his backpack
over his shoulder and changed direction to stride over to the
knew what he looked like. Not especially tall, maybe, but months
of travelling around Africa with various slayers had done wonders
for his muscles, not to mention the dark tan, the black clothes,
the eye patch. He just hadn't been able to resist the whole dangerous
secret agent look. He wouldn't generally wear this stuff by choice,
but it was funny, damnnit. A good Angel-ish glower, a bit
of Spike-ish stalking, and he was giggling inside his head as
the kid paled and seemed to shrink back into the wall.
Harris?" the man said faintly.
cleared his throat, fighting back a smirk. "That's me,"
he replied shortly. "And you are?"
he squeaked, his eyes going wide. Xander raised an eyebrow and
waited. Peter straightened up, took a deep breath and tried to
face him squarely. Xander grinned inwardly and gave the man a
mental pat on the back. "Peter Hawley, sir. I'm with Wolfram
and Hart. Miss Kendall told me I was to take you to your hotel,
or anywhere else you want to go."
smiled a little as he opened his backpack and rooted around for
his phone. He looked up at Peter curiously. "You must be
man nodded a little uncertainly. "Uh, yes sir. I started
a few months ago now. I was told you were, that is, you know Angel,
you're part of the Special Projects."
narrowed his eye, slowly raising his head to stare at the young
man. They were all terrified of Angel. Deadboy had apparently
had to kill a few clients, a few employees in his first few months
as boss. They'd probably been evil, chances were, considering
they worked for an evil law firm and all, but the buzz from Harmony
was that people generally tried to stay out of Angel's bad books
these days. He tried on one of Spike's patented evil smiles, feeling
just a little bad about it when Peter got a slightly panicked
look in his eyes, but he figured, hey, the kid was going to meet
things scarier than him before too long, and most of them wouldn't
just be playing with him. Fear was only going to get him killed.
So he held the man's gaze as he flipped open his phone and hit
the speed dial for Harmony's desk. "Oh, the boss man and
I go way back, Pete."
and Hart, Angel's office, this is Harmony, how may I help you?"
Harmony's voice chirped in his ear and he dropped the scary killer
act and grinned.
Harmony! It's Xander." He turned his attention to the conversation,
smirking inwardly when he saw Peter staring at him in shock.
How are you? Are you in L.A. yet?"
dead on my feet, Harm, something I suspect you can relate to,"
he grinned. "My flight just landed, and can I just express
my deep and abiding gratitude for being on the ground again. I
don't think my ass is ever going to be the same."
giggled. "Eeew, Xander. That is so much more than I needed
to know. Did you find the car I sent for you?"
he replied, "that's why I'm calling. Let me just put him
on." Peter was looking at him with wide eyes, but didn't
seem overly surprised when Xander handed him the cell phone.
listened closely. "Uh, good evening Miss Kendall ... Peter
Hawley, ma'am ... Yes, ma'am ... Ah, Faure, In Paradisum,"
he hummed a few bars, "yes, ma'am ... Of course not ... Thank
you, Miss Kendall ..."
took the phone back with a wicked little smile. Peter swallowed,
but met his eye. "So, am I set, Miss Kendall?" he asked
into the phone.
good, Xan," she reported cheerfully. "That's the one
and sent Peter a genuine smile. It apparently wasn't as reassuring
as he'd meant it to be, but the man did seem to relax a little.
"Cool. I know I can trust you to hunt him down and make sure
he dies in all sorts of painful and disgusting ways if I turn
up missing or dead." He didn't stop smiling, but Peter was
apparently not stupid enough to miss the fact that he was entirely
serious, judging from the way he turned a little green around
Xander, that's so nice of you." He smiled, but couldn't help
rolling his eyes. She might be a mean, self-centred, not highly
intelligent bitch, but he had to admit, there was no-one in the
world quite like Harmony.
for this, by the way, Harm. I think being an evil creature of
the night has truly helped you grow as a person," he teased.
laughed. "You coming in to the office, Xan? We all can't
wait to see you."
a moment as he had to quash the immediate desire to ask whether
or not Spike was there. "Is, I mean, is everyone there, then?"
Jesus Christ, even to him that sounded pathetic. He jerked his
head at Peter and they started walking towards the baggage carousels
as he kept talking.
knew about his and Spike's ... thing. They all did. Not that they'd
told anyone, but Fred had taken all of two seconds to figure it
out, Wes and Gunn had caught them making out in the elevator and
it had all just gone downhill from there. Although, as the whole
elevator thing had shown in high quality digital video all over
the building, neither of them were all that worried about keeping
it a secret or anything, Spike's protestations aside.
she said, sounding suddenly apologetic. "My god, Xander,
I completely forgot! Spike's been out of town the past couple
of days. Emergency thing up in Cleveland. He won't be back until
later tonight. He was, like, so pissed when Angel told
him no one else could go. I think he really wanted to be here
to meet you." Harmony was actually all for their relationship.
Apparently anyone was better than the Slayer, complete
with distasteful grimace. Personally, Xander thought she was so
chuffed about the whole thing because it made her little Blondie
bear gay, but whatever.
had to clear his throat of the lump that had suddenly formed.
He was aware that he was now grinning stupidly. "Is everything
okay? In Cleveland, I mean. Nothing to worry about?"
it's all good, I think. Just a little apocalypse. Nothing that
Faith girl can't handle, according to Angel and Spike."
well, that's, that's great then. When is he getting in?"
I wrote that down... um, oh! Here we are. Five fifty am. Flight
452, gate 34." Xander grimaced a little. He so didn't
want to sit in the airport for the next ten hours. He was already
practically falling asleep on his feet. And Spike would probably
need to get some rest, anyway. He wouldn't want to be met at the
airport. That was probably just way too needy and girly and he
really didn't want to push or anything. He'd go to his usual hotel
room and hook up with Spike and all the rest of the gang tomorrow
after he'd had some sleep.
um, okay, then. I need to get some sleep, but I'll come in first
thing tomorrow. Do you think you could tell him I got here, when
he gets into the office? I mean, tell everyone."
sounded a little surprised. "You're not going to meet him
at the airport? You haven't seen each other in like five months.
Oh my God! Xander! You didn't break up, did you? Spike never said
anything. And he's always talking about you. You guys were so
cute together. That would be just so sad."
Spike talked about him? That was ... that was good. "No,
Harm, we haven't broken up I don't think. It's just ..."
Suddenly he needed to tell someone. "I don't know
if he still wants me." And could he sound more like
snorted. "My god, Xander, are you, like, totally deficient?
This is Spike we're talking about, right? Men! You never want
talk about anything. Shouldn't you be all share-y now you're both
then ... That was even better. He felt his headache start to ease
up. Maybe he really was worrying for nothing. He took a deep breath
of wonderfully fresh air as Peter led the way out of the building.
The car was parked directly outside the doors. Illegally, except
that they had one of those passes that let them park anywhere.
"Okay, well, I really do need some sleep, but maybe I will
try to make it back here. Five fifty, you said, yeah?"
34. He really did miss you, Xan," she said sincerely.
he said, choking back way too many emotions. He was tired, physically
and mentally exhausted, his head was better, but was still killing
him and with Harmony, of all people, being so quietly understanding,
he was pretty sure that if the conversation went on for too much
longer he was just going to break down right here in the car park.
"Thanks, Harm. I'll see you tomorrow."
prob, Xan. Have a good sleep."
the phone shut and closed his eyes for a moment before turning
to where Peter was holding the door for him. All his stuff was
already in the trunk. He slipped into the front seat and waited
while the driver got behind the wheel. When he turned his head
Peter was looking at him strangely, like he'd suddenly discovered
that grown-ups were people, too. "Home, sir?" he asked
He was still exhausted when his alarm went off nine hours later.
He could hear the beeping invading his dreams, but it took him
a while to wake up enough to reach over and fumble around with
the button to make the thing shut up. Not bothering to open his
eyes, he heaved a deep breath and rolled onto his back. He took
a minute to seriously wish he could go back to sleep, then reluctantly
dragged open his eyelids. Resisting the impulse to just lie there
in the dark until his brain decided it wanted to start working
again, he pushed back the covers and sat up with a soft groan.
Getting up to meet Spike at the airport had seemed like such a
idea last night. Right, Spike. Going to meet Spike. The thought
woke him up a little more and he carefully got out of bed, rubbing
his hands over his face as he staggered out of the bedroom, bent
on finding himself some coffee.
into the living room as he made his way over to the kitchen and
stopped short. There was someone lying on his sofa.
brain wasn't up to cognitive thought this early in the morning,
but luckily his feet suddenly developed a mind of their own and
before he knew it he was standing in front of the coffee table,
staring down at a face he hadn't seen in way too fucking long.
the longest moment he was just frozen, looking, soaking him up,
letting his presence just wash over him, seep into him and suddenly
Xander was lighter than he'd felt in a long time. The figure was
on his back, his head cushioned on one soft leather armrest, his
pale, bare feet just resting on the other, one arm dangling over
the edge, one curled against his chest and his skin was so smooth,
so clear, catching the moonlight and floating like fallen leaves
against all that darkness. His eyes were closed, but his face
was open. It was one of those things that had fascinated Xander
back when. How he could look so young. In the dark, in the calm
embrace of peaceful dreams, that was when he'd smiled at the little
glimpses of William, who was always there, but wasn't always so
thought took an age to form in his mind, but as it did he smiled.
It was running around his head. SpikeSpikeSpikeSpike. And
there were ... things ... he should be ... but ... Spike.
And he was grinning, or maybe he was crying, but probably not,
'cause Spike Spike would laugh at him if he did that, so
grinning, and loosing control of his knees and landing with a
bump on the coffee table and Spike -Spike- was opening
his eyes, long fingers curling, eyelashes that he couldn't see
fluttering, but he didn't need to see them, he'd forgotten about
them, couldn't believe he'd forgotten about Spike's -Spike-
eyelashes, but he remembered them now, remembered everything now
... Spike SpikeSpikeSpike ... and eyes ...
Spike was awake, from asleep to fully alert, but relaxed, staring
at him, and he was still grinning.
didn't move, didn't do anything, but suddenly there was a sparkle
in his eyes and Xander couldn't believe he'd forgotten that, too.
He'd thought he'd remembered it, but it had faded and this was
better, best, his and he was back to -Spike-.
Xan." Rough, smiling, and Xander was shaken back to something
approaching rationality by the so faint no one else would even
think to hear it undercurrent of hesitation in Spike's voice.
grin faded into a smile. "Hey, Spike." Warm, trying
to be reassuring and okay, maybe just the tiniest bit teary.
silently sat up so they were facing each other and Xander reached
out a hand to his shoulder. He had to stop uncertainly before
he got there, but a look at Spike's carefully bank face had him
finishing the movement and then there was black fabric but underneath
there was corded steel and that muted warmth that was like nothing
he'd touched in five months and the tip of one finger tracing
over satiny skin.
breath hitched and it was laughter, probably laughter, because
Xander wasn't crying either, he was smiling, grinning, laughing
and pulling Spike into his arms.
had to stand up, because there wasn't enough contact and the exceptionally
small part of Xander's brain that hadn't melted into a little
puddle of goo when Spike's arms had gone around him was wondering
just how much pressure human ribs could take before they cracked.
Thankfully, though, it was being cheerfully ignored by said puddle
hands were in his hair and running over his back and Xander could
feel him breathing, his chest making jerky movements and soft
exhalations against his cheek and his neck and then his knees
buckled because Spike kissed him.
had doubts, he could remember having doubts. And he was sure they'd
come back, 'cause that's what doubts did, but for the longest
moment there was just Spike, kissing him, and it was ... it was
kissed back, tracing his lips over Spike's, pulling back then
plunging back in and letting himself be taken, taking back. It
was soft and wet, cool and warm, and tasted like smoke and salt
and Spike and yes, like sex, but that was for later, because now
they were crawling inside each other, lost and found and clear
to break away, breathless, laughing, buried his face in Spike's
neck, heard the whispered confession, "I missed you, god,
I missed you," and goddamnit, it was his party and he'd fucking
well cry if he wanted to.
was someone in the back of his brain coming up with semi-witty
comebacks to that; 'Are you sure? I never would have guessed',
'Well, naturally, who wouldn't miss my gorgeous self', 'Awww,
I knew you loved me'. Thankfully, or maybe not, the record hit
a groove at that point and another looping track was added to
the -Spike- that still circled in search of resolution.
they must have been behind all those brick walls he'd been working
on, because someone in the front of his brain took it upon themself
to make sure he didn't entirely screw up this relationship and
murmured in Spike's ear, "Good, 'cause I missed you too."
his head back to find Spike smiling at him, just smiling, like
he was happy. It was a smile that needed kissing, like most of
Spike's smiles, come to think of it, but Xander was sure that
was beside the point. He grinned, it wasn't like he needed an
excuse in any case. It was gentle, this time, slow and a little
hesitant and almost like learning the shape of his lips, the curve
of his teeth, the sweep of his tongue and all the hidden spots
that made him moan and mewl and make his eyes slip shut all over
again. All those things he'd almost forgotten to remember.
own eyes slipped shut and for a while he just ... lost himself.
It was soft and sweet and so much like all those dreams that had
accompanied his every sleeping moment in Africa, that he'd always
tried to go back to, had hated to wake up from, because when he
did Spike was never there.
in his dreams Spike never stopped kissing him and he was left
momentarily disoriented as lukewarm lips pulled away from him
and lukewarm fingers traced patterns over his face and urged him
to open his eyes
He honestly didn't mean to sound that surprised and grimaced when
Spike raised an amused eyebrow.
yeah. Just who exactly did you think you were snogging?"
Xander shook his head to clear it. "Just so's I know who
to go out and kill, you understand."
rolled his eyes. "Spike, what are you doing here?"
smirked and raised an eyebrow. It was dark enough that Xander
almost didn't see the hurt that flashed through his eyes. "Heavens,
you really haven't been payin' attention, have you? I'll fill
you in, shall I? Don't know what you were doin' before, mind,
but I was asleep, woke up to find you staring at me, then we pretty
much moved into the snogging, which you apparently missed because
you were thinking about something else."
Spike, I mean why aren't you on a plane about to land at the airport,
where I was going to meet you, after having gotten up at some
ungodly hour, and are, instead, here in my hotel room, sleeping
on my couch. When did you get back?"
eyes softened and he shrugged. "Got an earlier flight. Harm
called, told me when you'd be in. Wanted to see you. Wanted to
meet you, but the Poofter put paid to that plan. Next best thing,
really had wanted to meet him. He would have been there. Xander
hadn't believed ... he'd hoped ... and this, yeah...
the next best thing.
right," he said stupidly, conscientiously not letting the
enormous grin building in his chest break out on his face. He
was cool, he was calm, no girly men here, no sirree. "So,
uh, cool. How, how've you been then? I figure if you're here the
apocalypse must be all averted and stuff." He immediately
felt like a complete moron, but Spike didn't seem to really be
paying attention to what he was saying. Matter of fact, he'd be
pretty damn surprised if the vampire had heard a single word he'd
said. And with Spike staring at him like that, like something
precious, he was hard pressed to remember
was something they were talking about
only watch helplessly as long, cool fingers brushed airily over
his neck, traced the line of his mouth, combed through the hair
falling over his forehead. Spike wasn't looking him in the eyes,
but he couldn't look anywhere else. Blue eyes followed the path
of fingers, soft, surprised and suddenly Xander wondered if Spike
had forgotten him, too. But that couldn't be right, could it,
'cause Spike was a vampire and vampires remembered everything.
But his eyes were bright and happy and his face was almost like
a mirror, reflecting the joy at having found something you'd worried
mind had fallen silent. There was nothing but this. Then Spike
met his eyes.
remember moving forward, wasn't even aware of the intent, but
then it didn't matter anyway because Spike was pressed up against
him and was devouring him, hands gripping savagely, tongues delving
passionately. Desperately. Then thank fuck they were moving
towards the bedroom and there was no need for conversation, which
for once was a good thing, 'cause there was only one thing going
through his head right now.
His fingers fumbled at the buttons of his shirt, or possibly Spike's
shirt, it was all good, especially when the damn things finally
decided to cooperate and he could run his hands over smooth, cool
skin. Spike gasped as he raked his fingernails down his chest,
flicking over his nipples and leaving faint red marks that were
probably fading even as he was busy not caring a damn and licking
his way from the little dimple in Spike's chin, over the cut glass
shelves he liked to pretend were cheekbones and to the little
scar that was the only thing he could never see William in.
practical individual that he was, took the opportunity to suck
on his neck. The minute part of Xander's brain that was still
capable of rational thought took a moment to wonder that he didn't
even bother to worry about that any more, wondered at how easy
it had been to trust Spike, after everything he had done, everything
he was. If he had been more rational, he might have wondered whether
or not that was truly a good thing.
his mouth away with a breathless laugh when Spike started teasing
the skin of his neck with the tip of his tongue. Right now he
couldn't even remember what he'd been worried about. Spike tucked
his fingers under his waistband and smirked at him as he continued
to walk them back into the bedroom.
ain't gonna start babbling are you, Mate?"
him a moment to get that, but then he smirked right back. They'd
been in this room the first time they'd had sex. Spike had almost
put an end to the whole thing when he'd realised Xander had been
babbling and assumed that meant he was nervous and didn't want
to go through with it. This time, Xander recognised it for the
out that it was and was struck again by just how thoughtful Spike
could occasionally be. He was always tempted to call him on it,
but figured that was probably the right way to pretty much guarantee
it never happened again.
it had occurred to him to wonder if they should be taking about
this at all, but jeez, he was still a guy. Sex now talk later
had always worked in the past. He ignored the snide little voice
that said, 'Yeah, if never counts as always,' and murmured,
"Spike, up 'till two seconds ago, I was officially speechless."
raised an eyebrow. "Well, I might just have to make note
of that in my diary, Luv. Thing like that happens once in a lifetime."
glared at him, although he could feel the laughter sparkling in
his eyes. "Spike, you're babbling."
eyes widened, and Xander could feel the grin as he bent in an
attempt to swallow the undoubtedly droll comment on his lips.
A quick glance over Spike's shoulder told him they'd managed to
make it to the bed, so he promptly pushed the other man backwards,
grinning at the startled expression and grinning wider at the
lascivious leer that took it's place a moment later. Spike propped
himself up on his elbows and spread his legs.
mouth went dry. Spike was probably smirking. Spike was always
smirking, damn, evil, undead ... guy ... His fingers were sure
as hell smirking at him. They were also undoing buttons and a
zipper and oh so thoughtfully getting rid of jeans and briefs,
though, so Xander thought he might be prepared to forgive them
just this once.
dear." Xander's head snapped up. Spike was regarding him
with amusement. "Lost you again, haven't I?" he said,
shaking his head regretfully. "Keep this up, I'm gonna start
thinkin' you're not happy to see me at all."
at that, he was right about the smirk after all, Xander thought
distantly. His fingers went to his jeans. Spike's eyes followed,
grew large, dark and maybe something else, but then Xander was
stepping out of his jeans and his boxers and onto the bed and
since his vocal chords didn't appear to be working figured he
could safely use his mouth to show Spike just how really not unhappy
he was to see him again.
and nipped his way around Spike's navel, relishing the little
spasms as muscles clenched and relaxed, marvelling as always at
how cool the skin was, how the blood rose to the surface with
just the barest suggestion of heat and suction and disappeared
almost instantly as he moved his mouth away, the way Spike's chest
heaved, sucking air like his life depended on it, though if he
didn't Xander supposed he might have a harder time making all
those little moans that always managed to turn him on faster than
a teenage boy in a room full of naked women, or a room full of
naked Spikes. Mmmm, a room full of naked Spikes ... he took a
nipple between his teeth then proceeded to suck thoughtfully as
he devoted a little brain power to that mental image.
brought rather rudely back to himself when Spike apparently decided
that that just wasn't good enough and growled at him. He looked
what were we thinking about this time, Luv?" Spike asked,
his voice dark, his eyes intent, his fingers combing softly through
knew he had a good answer this time, and he spoke without thinking.
"You." He got a kind of a weird feeling at the look
Spike got in his eyes. To cover it, he grinned. "A room full
of naked Spikes, and they were all mine."
growled again and flipped them over, moulding his body over the
top of Xander's. "Better believe it Xan," he muttered,
so soft Xander barely heard it. But before he could let it sink
in, they both gasped as their dicks bumped against each other.
They thrust at the same time. Xander's hand found it's way to
the back of Spike's neck and pulled him down for a searing kiss,
even as his hips continued to move restlessly.
he froze as something suddenly occurred to him. He noticed that
Spike stopped moving almost as soon as he did, but didn't give
it much thought. He looked up into eyes that were oddly blank
and grimaced. "You'll never believe what I haven't got around
to buying any more of yet."
however, notice when the body on top of his relaxed suddenly and
even in the half light from the other room he could see that relief
that was instantly quashed. Not really knowing what else to do,
he wrapped his arms around Spike's torso and started moving his
hips again. Part of him wanted to frown, wondering just why Spike
was being so considerate. If he really hadn't got any in the last
five months, shouldn't he be as eager to get this done as Xander?
Although, he wasn't being considerate so much as he was being
... hesitant, which was just weird.
Spike was grinning and leaning over the side of the bed to dig
around in his jeans, or so Xander assumed, 'cause a second later
he reappeared with a little tube that looked brand new and would
so not last them very long, but was more than good enough for
grinned back. "Well, aren't you the regular little Boy Scout,"
he said, plucking the little tube from Spike's fingers to break
when Spike's eyes went dark with memories and promise. "Oh,
I got knots they never taught you in the Scouts, Mate."
could personally vouch for that. Not that they'd had much time
to explore that particular kink, but the couple of times Spike'd
tied him to the headboard and fucked him through the mattress
he had certainly made a point of saying just how impressed he
was with the man's knot-tying skills. 'Course, he'd then had to
threaten to withhold sex to keep Spike from telling him where
he'd picked up said oh-so admirable skills, but it had certainly
been worth it.
smirked. "Well, in honour of this little trip down memory
lane, you got a preference, Spike?" he asked, already squeezing
the lube onto his fingers. He knew what he wanted. He wanted to
be inside Spike, like that first time, right here in this hotel
room, in this bed. Wanted to pound into him as he stared into
his eyes and forget that they hadn't seen each other in five months
and that he didn't know what that meant for them, what Spike was
thinking, all the things that might have changed ...
Spike was kissing him and rolling off him and looking at
him and waiting and wanting and he didn't say anything,
but it was enough for Xander. Then Spike bent his legs and placed
his feet flat on the mattress and a little corner of Xander's
brain commented, 'Well, you don't get much clearer than that.'
Spike's cock as his fingers pushed into Spike's body, slowly sliding
in and out, stretching, and it was so tight, just like that first
time. He didn't take his eyes off Spike's face, couldn't, as the
other man's eyes slipped shut and he moaned deep in chest. Then,
when he didn't think he could take it any longer, he moved his
body over Spike's, his fingers slipping free even as Spike's eyes
slipped open and smiled at him, even through the haze of desire
and need and impatience. One leg draped itself easily over his
shoulder as the other gripped him tightly around his waist. Then
he was guiding himself inside and Spike was arching up and gripping
his arms and his hair and their teeth crashed together as he slid
in as far as he could go.
propped himself up with one trembling arm and, not taking his
eyes from Spike's face, set up a slow rhythm. Spike met him thrust
for thrust, repeating "Xander" over and over again,
Xander groaned, his hips speeding up in spite of himself. Viking
or not, he hadn't had sex in months and with Spike actually here,
with him, under him and so goddamn much better than dreams or
memories he'd be lucky to last minutes. But from the look on Spike's
face, the way his hips were slamming upwards, maybe it didn't
really matter. "God, Spike."
now, both of them on the edge, Xander looked into dazed eyes,
snaked a hand in between them to place his hand on a cock that
felt almost harder than his own, if that was possible and with
a rough pull murmured, "Will," because even after all
this time he knew what that did to Spike and because it was at
times like this, when there were no defences, no shields or masks
that he could see him, see all that Spike was, all that he had
been and all that he always would be, no matter how hard he tried
to deny it.
Spike shouted and arched up, shooting streams over Xander's hand
while his ass clenched around Xander's dick and drew his orgasm
from him along with a muffled groan.
lay panting, slick with Xander's sweat for a long moment before
Xander could work up the enthusiasm to pull out and roll over
to the side.
stretched languorously, grinding his head softly into the pillow
and smiling contentedly. "Fuck, that was good, Mate. Been
way too long."
made a soft noise of agreement, turning his head slightly to look
at the man beside him. Spike's hair was sticking up in little
untidy gel-filled clumps. Before he'd left he'd been working on
making Spike give up the whole hair product fetish, but it was
pretty obvious he had given up on that with very little
in the way of second thoughts. It was a shame, really. Spike had
such nice hair when he wasn't trying to make it resemble a piece
of plastic. He reached over and fingered a little patch into a
stiff spike, mostly ignoring the giddy feeling when Spike just
turned his head to give him better access and smiled at him sleepily.
feel his own eyes start to lower the longer he lay there not moving
and as much as he really wanted to stay awake to savour this moment,
there was just no way ...
his mouth to speak, but had to roll a wry eye as it took that
moment to release a jaw cracking yawn.
chuckled and moved to thread his fingers through the hand Xander
was still resting near his head. He raised it to his lips before
pulling it onto his chest. "Plenty of time for that now,
Xan," he said softly and Xander had to smile as he realised
that there really was.
going anywhere," he murmured even as his eyes slipped shut.
quiet, "No, Luv," followed him into his dreams.
They didn't get into the office 'till just before dawn the next
day. Angel glared at them, looking all disappointed that Spike
hadn't come straight there to tell him about what had happened
in Cleveland, but like he hadn't really expected anything better
from his irresponsible childe anyway. Spike rolled his eyes and
ignored it, Xander grinned suggestively at the man, snorting when
Angel grimaced at him. He didn't know what Angel found more distasteful,
the fact that he was sleeping with Spike, or the fact the Spike
was sleeping with him. Either way, it was pretty damn funny.
rest of the gang met him with smiles and hugs. Fred was bouncing
around the office, Lorne had an arm slung over his shoulder and
Wes and Gunn were standing watching them with matching grins on
their faces. He noticed in a vague way that Eve wasn't there,
but didn't give it much thought.
had greeted him with a bone crushing hug the second they'd stepped
out of the elevator. He'd had to look pleadingly at Spike over
her shoulder when he couldn't pry her arms away from him. Spike
had smirked and simply tapped her on the shoulder.
you squeeze all the air out him I will have to kill you horribly,
Pet," he'd said mildly, a dangerous glint in his eyes.
had had to roll his eyes at the utter absurdity of dating a vampire,
but Harmony had let him go, so he figured he could let Spike get
away with it this time.
chatted for a little while, but everyone had jobs to do, so with
promises to meet sometime for drinks, Angel, Spike and Xander
were left alone on the office. Xander stood up and wandered over
to the window. He had something he wanted to say, but he really
wasn't sure how Angel would take it. He could practically feel
the other vampire drilling holes in his back with his eyes, so
he turned around, schooling his face to a neutral expression,
or at least as neutral as he could make it.
a deep breath he moved to stand in front of Angel's desk. "Spike
told me about Cordelia." He closed his eyes against the tears
he could feel welling. It had been less than a month ago Spike
had called and told him about what happened to her. It had hit
him harder than he had expected it to, not that he'd thought about
Cordelia dying much, but it was the old feeling that everyone
he loved ended up hurt or dead and there was nothing he could
do to stop it. He knew it wasn't true, not really, but Buffy,
Anya, now Cordelia. It was almost a relief Spike was already dead.
Or, at least
it would be if he was in love with him
which he wasn't. He didn't think. But he'd known Angel was in
love with Cordelia as well, or had been and against his better
judgement he'd found himself feeling for the vampire. 'Course,
he knew Angel wouldn't appreciate his sympathy, but he had to
say something. For Cordy, if for no one else.
was just looking at him, his face stony. Xander didn't let it
bother him too much. It wasn't like the man had a whole lot of
expressions to draw on. "I want to see her," he said
quietly, meeting Angel's eyes. "I need to say goodbye."
looked a little surprised, his mouth opened once, slipping shut
a moment later. He supposed Angel had been expecting him to say
he was sorry, which he was, but he knew that wasn't what the vampire
needed or wanted to hear. He was sorry she was dead, sorry he
hadn't been there to see her before it happened, sorry for a lot
of things really, but it wasn't his fault, and his regrets had
very little to do with Angel. Truth was, he wanted Angel to take
him to where they'd buried her, but he didn't know how to ask
for that. Didn't really even understand why he wanted it, except
that here was something they had in common. Not something good,
exactly, except that it was, kind of. It was Cordelia. Suddenly
Angel looked away, but Xander thought he saw something there,
something old and tired and inexpressibly sad. "Of course,"
he said quietly. "I'll take you tonight."
his thanks, finally smiling and relaxing. "I'll come by at
sunset. In the meantime I s'pose you'll want Spike to tell you
all about that whole averting the apocalypse thing he tells me
he's been doing, which I am deliriously happy to say I do so not
need to hear about, so I'll see you both later." He flashed
a grin at Spike and took a step back towards the door. Spike,
slumped in one of the leather armchairs in front of Angel's desk,
just smirked at him.
interested in hearing about how the world almost ended this time,
rolled his eyes. "No, no I'm not. If I didn't see it, it
didn't happen," he said firmly.
frowned. "That's not really a very productive attitude, Xander."
leaned back, put his hands behind his head. "Thought saving
the world was like your mission statement or somethin', Mate,"
he grinned. "Shouldn't you be all over this, report back
to the Council and whatnot?"
and took another step back towards the door. He knew they were
only teasing him. Or at least, he knew Spike was. Who the hell
knew what Angel was thinking? "Hey, don't you be telling
me about saving the world. Or do I have to remind you both that
I am the only one in the room who hasn't tried to destroy it?"
Spike interrupted, "When did I ever try to destroy
smirked at him. "The Judge?"
looked surprised. "Huh, right, forgot about that." Then
his face cleared and he waved a hand dismissively. "Doesn't
count, anyway. Wasn't going to destroy the world, was just going
to kill off all the humans. And it was mainly Dru's little project
anyway... and yours after you showed up, Wanker."
just raised an eyebrow. "Planning to kill off humanity doesn't
count? Wasn't that what The First was going to do? Guess you really
didn't save the world after all then, huh Spike?"
turned to glare at Angel. "Certainly didn't save it from
becoming a peaceful paradise to the eternal gratitude of the most
evil organization in the world."
tensed up and glared right back. "I've been saving the world
for the past five years--"
spending how many decades with a soul sittin' around feelin' sorry
for yourself? Whereas I was savin' the world when I
was still evil..."
rolled his eyes. This sounded distinctly like an old disagreement.
It never ceased to amaze him how two people who had been alive
for so long could turn into five year olds when they got together.
He couldn't help but wonder what they must have been like back
in the day, then snickered silently as he imagined a five year
old Angel and Spike running around in those silly billowing shirts,
playing knock and run, obstructing traffic, picking pockets, killing
small animals ...
his throat as it looked like they were both about to get out of
their chairs. Although he couldn't help the abstract thought that
these two could probably keep him in a job if he just let them
go around smashing the furniture over each other. He almost gave
into the smirk as they turned to glare at him. "Guys, let's
bear in mind that I've been saving the world for longer than the
both of you. Good forty percent of my life, I'd say. You two've
got nothing but catching up to do."
frowned dismissively. "But you're not a vampire, with or
without a soul."
did smirk then as he raised an eyebrow. "No, no I'm not.
So what does that say about me?" He had to wonder about these
two sometimes. Half the time they seemed to have no idea why they
were bothering to fight at all, although Xander knew he'd explained
it to Spike at least once. They both looked at him, frowning.
you're an idiot, right an' proper," Spike eventually chuckled,
relaxing back into his chair. Xander had the fleeting urge to
step over and leave him with a kiss on the cheek. Angel was giving
him an odd look, but strangely enough it looked like he actually
understood the point Xander'd been trying to make, not that he
cared either way. It wasn't his job to make sure Angel didn't
stray from the path to redemption or whatever he was on, or to
reassure him about his actions. He'd do it for Spike because it
was, well, Spike, but that was different. Besides, Angel wasn't
as stupid as he looked, something Xander was slowly coming to
understand. Being around Spike seemed to shave a whole lot of
points off his IQ, but no one stuck around this long, kept fighting
even through all the shit Angel'd been through, without some understanding
of why he was doing it.
you off to, then?" Spike asked as Xander made to turn back
towards the door.
he said philosophically. "Not my most favourite of activities,
but this puny human frame of mine needs sustenance and the supermarket
is the only thing that's going to be open at this ungodly hour
of the morning. Then I dunno. Call me when you're done."
felt his insides go all pleasantly mushy at the way Spike smiled
at him then. "Will do, Mate." It was the one that reminded
him of William, that made him think things like 'love' and 'forever'
and, oddly enough, didn't fill him with an unholy terror akin
to standing in his tuxedo waiting to get married to the woman
of his dreams. But then, he didn't really see it often enough
for that, and the feelings it inspired were only ever fleeting.
He knew Spike didn't see him that way. They weren't in love, certainly
weren't planning on getting married and could hardly be together
forever in any case, what with the whole, him getting old and
dying. Which was fine with Xander. Just because it wasn't going
to last forever didn't mean it wasn't worthwhile.
back. "You two try not to kill each other. Although if you
do feel like destroying some of the building, bear in mind that
I've just got back and will be looking for some work to pass the
time. Considering they're a worldwide institution and two of my
very close friends are rebuilding it, council pay is shit."
don't worry Mate," Spike leered, "I'll look after you.
We'll just sell a few of those videos."
winked right back, much to Angel's disgust, if the grimace on
his face was anything to go by. "You mean you'd share me
with all those people? Why Spike, I think I'm hurt."
shrugged, smirking. "Ah, you're probably right. Should save
'em for when we really want The Poofter, here, to do something.
Just imagine what he'd pay us to destroy them forever."
snorted at the pained expression on Angel's face. "We do
have work to do, if you two don't mind," Angel suggested
stiffly. "I need Spike's report on this apocalypse. Xander,
I'll see you this evening."
and Spike exchanged an amused glance, but Xander obligingly opened
the door. "Yeah, yeah. Later, vamps."
It took Xander almost fifteen minutes of concerted arguing to
get Spike to stay home when he left to meet Angel that evening.
He had no idea why it was so hard for the man to grasp the concept
that he didn't really want the person he was currently sleeping
with to be there while he visited the grave of a girl he had once
been in love with, especially when Spike couldn't even give him
even a moderately good reason why he wanted to be there so badly.
He just kept saying that he didn't want Xander wandering around
graveyards in the middle of the night without any protection.
He hadn't even seemed all that reassured when Xander promised
to take a stake and his sword with him. Or by the fact that Angel
was going to be there, but then Xander didn't really put much
stock in that either. Not that he thought Angel wouldn't give
him a hand if something attacked him, but ... it was Angel.
As if that was reason enough in and of itself.
hadn't known better, he might have thought that Spike was jealous
of the time he was spending with the other vampire, but he so
didn't want to imagine where he could have got the idea that Xander
was in the least bit interested in Angel as anything other
than a kind of annoying, occasionally useful, friend only in the
strictest sense of the word.
as it was that Spike wanted to spend time with him, it wasn't
like they were joined at the hip. And as much as he was looking
forward to some serious renewing their friendship time, it wasn't
like they didn't have plenty of time for that sort of thing now
that he was back.
Spike had eventually backed down, apparently finally accepting
the fact that this was something he needed to do by himself, and
Xander had made his way back to Wolfram and Hart about equal parts
annoyed, confused and nervous. The whole thing hadn't really started
out as a big deal. It was sad, sure; they'd been friends, he'd
loved her, she was yet another piece of his past that was lost
forever, but he supposed he hadn't really been giving it that
much thought. Spike making such a scene over it seemed to have
blown it up in his mind, because he found himself oddly jittery
as he left the hotel.
Angel was being even more reticent than usual and didn't seem
to notice the complete and total lack of anything even resembling
conversation as they made their way to a small cemetery on the
north road out of the city. The one that would have led to Sunnydale,
if Sunnydale had still been there. The one that led to the big
hole in the ground that stood in for the grave of the other woman
he'd loved with all his heart and soul. It was hard to believe
it had been almost two years since it had happened. Maybe Spike
would come with him when he visited her. Spike had known Anya,
at least. As far as he knew, the only times he'd met Cordy he
was trying to kill her. Didn't allow for much in the way of sympathetic
reminiscing, or even stoic silences, which he figured was about
all he could expect of Angel.
oddly enough Angel did have something to say and once again they
spent a night swapping stories. By the time they made it back
to the hotel, Angel seemed almost relaxed, and Xander was feeling
more comfortable with the other man than he had since they'd spent
a similar night swapping stories about Spike and William and getting
Spike opened the door and growled at them, he just rolled his
eyes and turned back to offer Angel genuine thanks. Once again
Angel surprised him by merely glancing over his shoulder at Spike,
nodding calmly and pretty much disappearing into the night like
Batman. Just this once, Xander stopped himself from smirking.
around, he found Spike watching him, an odd look on his face.
"Hey, Spike," he smiled as he dropped his jacket over
one of the couches and dragged himself into the bedroom. Now that
he was here, he could feel the adrenalin draining out of him.
He'd been up for almost twenty four hours now, not counting a
nap in the middle of the day, and he was practically dead on his
followed. "You okay, Xan?" he asked. "You've been
shrugged, rotating his shoulders, and smiled a little. "Yeah,
it was good, thanks. I'm glad I got to do that." He didn't
really notice as Spike narrowed his eyes and took a step closer
to him. "I'm thinking of going out to Sunnydale in a couple
of days. You wanna come?"
up when Spike didn't respond, and blinked to see the other man
staring at him with narrowed eyes, his head tilted, like he was
trying to puzzle out something not entirely pleasant. "And
is Angel coming on this little trip, too?" Spike asked stiffly.
blinked again. What the hell was wrong with Spike this evening?
He was starting to think maybe he should rethink that whole jealousy
shtick. "Why would Angel want to come? I don't think he even
met Anya. Maybe that once when he came to help Buffy, but I'm
pretty sure they didn't get all that close."
Spike said flatly.
narrowed his eyes and took a closer look at Spike. Was he being
insensitive or something by wanting to visit the graves of his
friends? It wasn't even like Spike hadn't gone with him before,
the last time he'd been in L.A.
I thought I'd take her some flowers, say 'Hi'," he said carefully.
"Maybe some for Tara and Joyce and Jesse. I'd take some for
you, but it's just not the same when you're standing right there."
He reached out, hovering just short of placing his hand on Spike's
arm. "Don't have to come if you don't want to, but ..."
he paused, noticing when Spike tensed up a little. He honestly
didn't understand what was bothering the other man so much, but
he could see that he'd have to say something to fix it. It occurred
to him that Spike was acting kinda William-y, which he really
only did when he was really relaxed, or really insecure.
So he swallowed his manly pride and said what he thought Spike
probably needed to hear. "I'd like to have you there with
me. It was your home too, for a while. It's what we've got in
common ... one of the things we have in common. Cordy is the only
thing, other than you, that Angel and I have in common. But you
know that place. We spent most of our ..." he hesitated,
before setting on, "relationship," with a small grin
that Spike echoed somewhat reluctantly, "there. You died
there. It's ours." And because if the deep and meaningful
went on for very much longer he was afraid he might just turn
into a girl, he added with a smirk, "In retrospect, in any
just looked at him, eyes narrowed, for a moment. "Relationship?"
he eventually repeated with a smirk. Xander relaxed a little.
Well, apparently that'd done the trick. Who would've guessed Spike
would get so insecure over something like this? Still, he had
always felt things pretty deeply, and Xander had been hoping not
forty-eight hours ago that their relationship had meant enough
to Spike that he'd remember it, that Spike still wanted to give
what they had a shot. He knew that he cared about Spike more than
he'd thought he was going to, so it was kinda nice to see that
maybe he wasn't the only one.
an eyebrow and moved forward to loop his arms loosely around Spike's
waist. Spike leaned into him a little. "Well, I was gonna
say our period of mutual pig headed loathing, but it just didn't
have the same ring to it."
tilted his thoughtfully. "You could be right at that, Luv.
Aren't you glad we got over that?" he added with a suggestive
leer, moving in to lick a line over Xander's lips.
shuddered and lowered his eyelids. "Yeah, glad you don't
loathe me anymore," he murmured.
snorted, clearly getting his insinuation, and Xander grinned briefly.
"Yeah, Luv, I'll come with you. I'd like that. Now, about
that relationship of ours. What's say we move it along a little?
Direction of the bed, perhaps?"
could only moan his agreement as Spike's hands went around his
head and pulled him for a deep, powerful kiss. He was panting
when Spike finally let go of him, his eyes wide. Jesus, Spike'd
never kissed him like that before. He could really make this whole
jealousy thing work for him. "Mmm." Spike licked his
lips, his eyes watching Xander intently. "Love the way you
snapped out of his daze with an almost audible click and suddenly
he needed Spike naked. Naked and writhing and begging and
spread out over him or under him or what-the-fuck-ever...
just so long as the fucking happened in there somewhere. Not particularly
wanting to take the time to explain all this to Spike, he spared
a brief micro second to thank god he wasn't wearing anything with
buttons as he yanked his T-shirt over his head, shucked his pants;
then thanked Spike for getting the message and dealing with own
clothes so quickly by taking his cock in one hand and his head
in the other and doing his level best to kiss Spike like Spike
had just kissed him.
They fucked, they talked, they watched tv, Xander taught Spike
a thing or two about playing Donkey Kong, Spike took the opportunity
to teach Xander a thing or two about knots and why you should
always let the other person win at least once. He'd been kinda
surprised at how easy the whole thing was. Sitting there throwing
insults and popcorn at each other it was almost like it had always
been this way. Like all those times they'd done the same thing,
back when Sunnydale was more than just dust in the wind, they
hadn't really meant it then either. Like if he concentrated hard
enough he'd be able to remember all the fantastic make-up sex
that went on afterwards.
while sometimes he'd look at Spike and it would hit him, how long
he'd been gone, how much they'd both been alone, mostly it was
as though he'd never left.
the day Xander searched for an apartment, seriously considering
taking Cordy's old place, but not entirely sure Dennis would appreciate
what went on in the bedroom. Angel didn't say he couldn't, but
when he mentioned it to the man, he had gone all dark and brooding
and the next day Lorne had set him up with an estate agent.
looked for a job, something to pass the time. There was a headquarters
for the Council in Los Angeles, where he'd be spending some of
his time training a few of the girls, but that was only a couple
of hours a day. He didn't really want anything permanent, either.
He wasn't sure if or when he might have to go back to England,
so he didn't want anything tying him down if Buffy or Willow said
they needed him.
weeks later he was installed in a nice, very domestic looking,
small, two bedroom, forth story apartment not too far from the
centre of the city. It would have cost a small fortune for most
people, but Lorne had been pulling strings with clients and stuff
and had got him a fantastic deal for it. He was also doing part
time work for a big handy-man company and getting to know the
L.A. girls he was meant to be helping train.
been itching to get back out on the streets for days now, do a
little violence, feel like he was helping to make the city a better
place and all that. Somehow they'd just kept putting it off. Spike
always had something else to do, or wasn't in the mood, or they
got distracted by sex, which Xander had to admit wasn't exactly
a bad thing. But it was Friday, which meant no training, no work
the next day, he was pretty sure they had no plans for the evening
and Spike had been in at Wolfram and Hart all day helping Angel
with something, so he figured now was the perfect opportunity
to work off a little of that excess energy the old fashioned way.
he got in Harmony informed him that yeah, Spike was in with Angel
and they'd finished up with the Psakids about half an hour ago
and were done for the day as far as meetings and stuff were concerned.
was sprawled in his usual chair, Angel behind his desk, when Xander
opened the door. They turned as one to look at him. Spike jumped
lightly to his feet and smiled at Xander. Xander pretended to
sigh and slump in relief. "There was no yelling, I thought
you must be dead." Angel frowned defensively while Spike
smirked and rolled his eyes.
you're a right chuckle, aren't you Mate?"
and shrugged modestly. "Well, we all have out superpowers.
So, didja have a productive day? More importantly, are you finished
and when can we leave?"
shrugged. "Yeah, Mate, I'm done. You got something in mind
he grinned, "want to go kill something. I feel my white hat
has become more of an eggshell recently." He turned to Angel.
"What you got planned for tonight, then, Angel? Brooding
and paperwork, or can you take an hour or so off and come patrolling
with us?" Xander smirked inwardly at the bemused expression
that Angel immediately wiped off his face. He obviously didn't
know what to make of the request, which was, of course, precisely
why he had made it. There was very little in this life more amusing
than watching Angel's face as he struggled through a puzzle.
over to Spike, his eyes twinkling, expecting to see the other
man smirking at his sire as he had so many times in the past.
But Spike appeared distracted. Xander sidled over and nudged him.
Angel followed him with his eyes. "Hey Spike, everything
alright?" he murmured.
looked at him for a moment, then scowled, though Xander got the
impression he was angrier with himself than at anything Xander
had done. "Fine," he growled. "Lets go then, Angel."
He gestured impatiently when Angel continued to sit there, looking
even more confused than before. This time, Xander was right there
with him. Spike was acting truly weird and Xander couldn't figure
out what the hell had set him off this time. Most he could figure
was that Spike hadn't wanted Angel to come patrolling with them,
either that or he hadn't wanted to go patrolling at all. But last
time he'd been here Spike had been all keen for him and Angel
to get along, which they had, mostly.. Xander had assumed it was
because Angel was the closest thing Spike had to family these
days, apart from all the Scoobies, and knowing how important family
had been to William, he'd been prepared to make the effort. He
really couldn't see Spike suddenly going back to hating Angel.
That just wasn't the sort of person he was. And he was sure that
he would have got a long and impassioned speech on the complete
wankeryness of Spike's bloody pathetic excuse for a sire if Angel
had done something to piss him off that much anyway.
other hand, maybe Spike had just wanted to spend some time with
him alone. In addition to the past couple of weeks that they'd
mostly spent both literally and figuratively joined at the hip.
Although, if he'd wanted that, all he had to do was say something.
And it sure as hell wasn't like Spike to just quietly go along
with things he didn't really want to do. He might still do them,
but they could expect complaining at the very least.
the look that Angel threw him and shrugged philosophically. Angel
flicked his eyes back over to Spike, who was now looking impatiently
at the door, holding himself tightly, his face oddly blank, and
tapping his foot. If he hadn't known better, Xander would have
said it was a nervous movement, which was just ridiculous.
watched him intently for a moment longer, and Xander almost thought
he saw Spike flinch under that gaze, but then he swivelled around
in his chair and got to his feet, moving around the desk.
as Angel started moving, Spike was stalking out the door. Xander
blinked at his back, glanced at Angel, who didn't look at him
either, shook his head and walked out the door. He was starting
to think he would never understand vampires. One minute everything
was completely normal, and the next everyone was dark and brooding
and swishing away in black capes. He felt a wry smirk steal over
his features as he hurried after the retreating form of his friend.
Every now and again, Spike was just as inexplicable as any woman.
to catch up and thread his arm through Spike's, make the man tell
him exactly what was wrong. But his extensive experience with
Anya and Cordelia had taught him that not knowing what was wrong
could be just as big a sin as whatever he'd done wrong in the
first place. 'Course, it was possible Spike'd just tell him if
he asked, but Xander wasn't taking any chances when it came to
he dropped back to fall into step beside Angel. He didn't say
anything as they walked across to the elevator, which Spike had
called and was currently holding impatiently, glaring at them
as they crossed the lobby. None of them said anything as the elevator
descended to one of the basement levels, although Xander did move
to stand a little closer to Spike, watching Angel as Angel watched
Spike with narrowed eyes. But when Spike once again hurried ahead
to the weapons room, he fell in beside Angel and murmured curiously,
"Now, why do I think you've got some idea what this is all
didn't say anything, but Xander hated to admit he was actually
getting used to that particular annoying habit. He waited. After
a moment, when Spike had disappeared around a corner, he said,
"I don't know, Xander."
narrowed his eyes. "But you have an idea," he pressed.
hesitated, but replied, "I think you should talk about this
gave him pause. Basically, that meant that whatever it was, it
was about him, or him and Spike. He stopped and turned to face
Angel, his eyes hard, cold, and this time it wasn't just an act
to scare the new kid. "You're right, I should, and I will.
Question is, is he going to tell me? If there's something wrong
I need to know, Angel. Spike is my ... he's ... I ... I care about
what happens to him, and so do you, I think. "
didn't look particularly impressed, but maybe all that bonding
they'd done last year hadn't been worth nothing because he did
respond. "Spike is a vampire, Xander. No matter what else
he might be, he's still a vampire."
raised his eyebrows in confusion. "Yeah? So are you."
right, I am. We ... see the world differently sometimes."
Xander opened his mouth, but Angel had already walked away from
him. He shook his head bemusedly and followed.
was handing Angel an impressive array of weapons when he walked
into the storeroom. He smiled a little when Xander walked over
to him. Xander took it for the apology it probably was and smiled
back. He didn't miss the fact that Spike still seemed a bit tense,
but he didn't seem so angry, which had to be a good sign.
are we going tonight then?" Xander asked as he picked his
favourite long sword off the rack. Bending down he grabbed a couple
of stakes off the bottom shelf and stuffed them into his pockets.
Standing up he glanced over to Spike with a smile on his face.
Spike was looking at him oddly.
all you're taking, Mate?" he asked pointedly.
cocked his head curiously. "Ah, yeah, this is what I usually
take, Spike. I know it's been a while, but I'm pretty sure I remember
how it works."
frowned. "You don't think maybe you should wear some protective
clothes or something? Do you even have a cross? Holy water? Fuck,
this place has got some of the most powerful magic-users in the
bloody world, one of them must be able to come up with some protective
charm or some such shit. Bloody hell, why didn't I think of that
earlier? Maybe you should just come next time, Mate."
narrowed his eyes as Spike started to usher him out the door,
seemingly unaware of the fact that Xander wasn't interested in
going anywhere. He merely glanced up in annoyance when Xander
refused to move. Xander waited until Spike was looking him in
the eye. "Are you saying I can't protect myself, Spike?"
he asked, his voice low, calm, intense.
blinked, seemed surprised by the suggestion. Xander was about
to smile and apologise when he said, "Well, you are only
human, Mate, and lord knows you never were much of a fighter."
Then he smiled, like they were sharing a private joke. Xander
didn't. Matter of fact he wasn't quite sure how to react to that.
Spike," he said lightly, his eyes hard, or maybe hurt, "I
had no idea you thought so little of me. So much for 'he can take
care of himself' huh?"
shook his head, exasperated, and took a step forward. Xander tensed
inwardly and waited for the hand he knew was coming. Sure enough,
Spike reached out and gripped his bicep hard, almost enough to
bruise, although Xander didn't think he was really aware of how
much he was hurting him. But Xander didn't waste time thinking
about it. He just gripped that arm with his other hand and used
the leverage and his body to throw Spike to the floor, coming
to half kneel, half stand over startled blue eyes. It wasn't a
new move, although it was one he'd been practicing while he was
in Africa. It was something he'd used on dozens of vampires in
his day, and while it didn't generally put him in position to
stake them, it did put Buffy in a position to come to his aid.
He wasn't stupid enough to go out patrolling on his own, but he
did know how to work as part of a team, and he knew how to keep
glowered at him, but didn't make any move to free himself. Xander
smirked, "If you'd wanted to get me on the floor, Spike,
all you had to do was ask."
rolled his eyes, but he seemed to have relaxed a little. The smile
slipped from Xander's face and he stared down at Spike seriously.
"I can take care of myself, Spike."
not let Spike try to lock him away from the world, keep him from
anything that might get him hurt. Not that Spike had really suggested
anything of the sort, but he could see it happening. Just like
Buffy had done, trying to keep him away from the danger, stop
him from helping her, helping anyone, because she didn't want
him to get hurt. He'd always hated it. At first he'd just ignored
her. He and Willow had gone rushing in despite what she said because
they wanted to help. It had been a long time before he started
to understand why she did it, why she needed to keep him safe,
and after that he'd tried to respect her wishes. It had been even
longer before he'd been able to accept the fact that she was right.
He was weak. He was the weakest of all them, except maybe Dawn,
physically anyway. But that didn't mean he shouldn't fight, shouldn't
sighed, closed his eyes briefly. "I don't want you getting
cocked his head. "I don't want you getting hurt either."
blinked, didn't say anything, and for a moment Xander thought
he'd gotten through to him. But Spike smirked a little, confused,
amused. Condescending. Xander froze, hot prickles running over
the back of his scalp even as he willed himself to believe that
Spike didn't really mean what he knew he was about to say. "'S
hardly the same thing, Mate."
wasn't any surprise, not really. So Spike didn't think he could
take care of himself, they'd pretty much established that. So
Spike was an arrogant, tactless bastard, something he'd known
for years. So they were never going to be able to approach this
thing on an equal footing, well, he never should have thought
he'd be able to fool himself about that for any length of time
anyway. It had almost been easier when he was in Africa, in that
smile slipped from his face as he carefully got to his feet, automatically
reaching out a hand to help Spike up off the ground. He stared
at he hand that slipped into his absently. His mind felt empty,
kinda stuck. He found he wasn't really angry at Spike, or at himself,
although he probably would be. He knew that once he let himself
start to think about it, the thoughts would crowd, flinging themselves
around uselessly, making him doubt, making him wonder, making
it hard to put on a blank face and an empty smile and pretend
that nothing was wrong.
he stared at long, pale fingers, cool, strong, confident, even
now turning their grip around so that Spike was the one doing
the holding, Xander the one being held. He always did that, Xander
thought. He'd noticed, never really minded, but it was all part
of the same thing, really, wasn't it?
hand holding his fingers squeezed and Xander looked up to find
Spike watching him curiously. He quickly made his face relax into
a genuine grin. "Right, sure, I guess not. Listen, why don't
you guys go on without me. Now I think about it, I am a bit tired."
Spike nodded, pleased, and Xander felt his stomach clench a little
bit tighter, but he didn't let it show on his face. Angel didn't
say anything, but Xander looked up to where he had stepped back
into the shadows. He could barely see Angel's face, but he could
feel those eyes on him, wondering, weighing him up, but cold,
calculating and he knew he shouldn't kid himself that Angel really
cared about him. About Spike, maybe, but not about him.
then," he said brightly, turning back to Spike. "I'll
see you later, then." He wanted to say 'be careful', wasn't
entirely sure why he didn't. "Have fun."
about to turn around and leave, so he was surprised when Spike
stepped forward and placed a soft kiss on his lips. "Get
some rest, yeah Luv? 'S always next time, right? We'll have a
chat to the Ex-Watcher, see what we can come up with."
absolutely, we'll make me invincible yet." He flashed Spike
a last smile, then turned and hurried out of the room. Away from
Angel followed Spike quietly as they made their way through the
sewers. He found himself thinking about Xander and his boy, something
he'd always tried his hardest to avoid doing. But what he'd seen
this evening ... He'd never really thought that Xander might love
Spike, or that Spike might love the irritating kid back.
him wonder, though. Would this have happened if he'd stayed with
Buffy, if he'd actually had a chance with Cordelia? Sooner or
later it was always going to come down to vampire and human and
whether or not it was possible to fit those two worlds together.
Spike stalk cheerfully through the tunnels, humming some god awful
piece of punk rock that had to be scaring away half the things
they'd come down here to kill. He looked happy. Certainly didn't
look worried, like Angel knew he should be. Didn't look like he
had any idea that the punch he'd thrown this evening had cracked
the glass of his relationship with the kid or that if he kept
going the way he was, that relationship was going to shatter into
a million tiny, painful and irretrievable pieces.
Angel couldn't decide was whether or not he cared enough to try
and stop it. And even if he did, who was to say they wouldn't
both be better off without each other? He couldn't honestly see
Spike changing his attitude enough to suit Xander. Being a vampire
did mean you were stronger, more capable than humans. It was only
natural that Spike would want to protect the person he was in
love with, all the more if that person was too weak to protect
themselves. Which, he had to admit, Xander really wasn't. He'd
been patrolling with the kid a few times, before and once after
his little trip to Africa, and the most Xander'd ever come away
with was some serious bruising. The kid could take care of himself,
especially if he was working as part of a team. But still, he
could understand Spike's urge to keep him out of harm's way.
didn't see it that way, obviously. And Angel figured he could
also understand the boy's desire to feel like an equal in the
relationship. Whether or not he understood Spike's protective
urges, sooner or later they were just going to feel patronising,
confining, irrational and he had a feeling that wasn't a cage
the boy would be prepared to live in.
putting Xander in danger would tear Spike up inside as much as
being parcelled away and catered to would Xander.
knew that this was really only the tip of the iceberg.
he started thinking about it, there were so many things that just
wouldn't be resolved, no matter how much passion, determination
and dogged ignorance they were determined to show.
a little at Spike's back. He was aware that he was being unreasonable,
being annoyed by the fact that somehow Spike had managed to make
him think about how he was fucking up his relationship with Xander,
and because it was Spike he had to care, which made no sense,
seeing as he really had no interest in caring about anything that
bracing himself for the conversation. Damn soul. Spike turned
to look at him curiously. "So ..." Angel said vaguely,
before realising he didn't really have anything planned.
raised an eyebrow and fell into step beside him. "Something
on your mind, Mate?"
well, actually, I was thinking about Xander. You and Xander, I
mean," he qualified, although he couldn't imagine even Spike
could believe he'd be interested in the boy for any other reason.
He grimaced at the very thought.
looked surprised. "That right? And what astoundingly insightful
conclusions have you come to?" he sneered. "Somehow
I thought I might have managed to pick one you didn't want to
take away from me this time. Don't tell me I was wrong? Always
got the impression the boy managed to piss you off almost as much
as I do," he smirked.
just ... doesn't really seem like your type, if you know what
raised an eyebrow. "My type? Well I s'pose you're probably
right at that. Few years ago I wouldn't have looked at the bloke
sideways. 'S probably the soul talking, really. I was practically
in love with him back when I was actually alive, even though I
only knew him for a little while. But I saw him then, same thing
I see in him now. There's more to that man than you'd think, once
you take the time to look."
couldn't help but frown at the look on his boy's face. The way
his eyes softened and the smirk fell from his lips. Like they
way he'd looked at Drusilla, but more .... more human. It was
truly disconcerting thought. "Since when have you been into
guys anyway?" he asked, looking to cover his discomfort.
sent him an odd look. "Ah, since what the bloody hell difference
does it make anyway? I'm not going to shag him just 'cause he
hasn't got tits? What d'you think I am, shallow? I'll have you
know it wasn't actually about sex first."
I can well believe," he muttered.
what, exactly, Mate," Spike snapped dangerously. Meaning
he knew Spike either did completely casual sex, or went and fell
in love with the object of affections practically before making
any moves at all, but he was hardly going to say that out loud.
"You can't tell me you haven't noticed him."
snorted. "Jesus Spike, I wouldn't touch the man with a ten
what he'd said pretty much when Spike grabbed a handful of his
jacket and slammed him up against the nearest wall. Fortunately
they were, as per usual, wandering around alleys and there was
no one there to see them. Not that anyone would have raised a
finger if they had been. There were probably only two people in
the entire city who'd step in to stop an alley brawl, and they
were about to be involved in one of their own. But for once Angel
figured if he really wanted to talk to Spike they could maybe
try to avoid the bruising and lacerations.
stayed mostly still and managed to keep from rolling his eyes
when Spike growled, "You seem to be tryin' to imply somethin'
about my Xander, Mate."
Xander?" he asked before he could stop himself, aware he
sounded slightly incredulous. He'd seen it, of course, but he
hadn't expected Spike to admit to it just yet.
scowled, but loosened his grip when Angel continued to just stand
there. "You heard me, Angel. You keep your hands off him.
I've seen how you two've been getting along. This one's mine.
You so much as look at him the wrong way and I'll stake you so
fast your dust won't have time to blink."
narrowed his eyes, shrugging off the hands on his coat as he took
a step forward. "And how's it going between the you two,
Spike? All peaches and cream?"
the uncertainly appear in Spike's eyes with a certain callous
satisfaction. "What the bloody hell are you talking about?
'Course it's fine. Just as long as you keep your bloody interferin'
nose out of it."
scowled and pushed past Spike. Why the hell did he think helping
Spike out would be such a fantastic idea again? Well, fine, the
boy didn't think he needed it, Angel could give a damn. "You
got it, Spike. You've successfully reminded me why I truly couldn't
give a shit. Let's just go find something to kill."
good. Just so long as you understand that."
the confusion that the cocky sneer couldn't entirely hide. Let
him screw up his relationship; Xander'd sure as hell be better
off for it in the long run and right now he couldn't care less
what Spike might or might not need.
man had unequivocally reminded him, it was none of his damn business.
Whatever Spike and Angel had talked about while they were out
hunting, it apparently hadn't helped. Xander hadn't been tired,
naturally, something Spike would have known just by looking at
him, assuming he'd bothered to look. But Xander was trying not
to think about that. Actually, that wasn't true, he was trying
to think about it, about all of it. He knew he had to, but he
also knew he didn't want to, presumably because some part of him
had already worked it all out and he just wasn't prepared to face
any conclusions it might have come to.
gone back upstairs after Spike and Angel had left, mostly because
he didn't want to have to go home by himself. It had taken all
of one glance to convince Wesley to leave his books, which told
Xander just how bad his face must look. Not that there was really
much to say. The conversation had pretty much started and ended
with Xander saying, "Spike didn't want me to go with them.
He says he's afraid I'll get hurt. You can probably expect him
coming around looking for a spell or something that'll protect
me." He'd shrugged, looking down and giving a little humourless
laugh. "Or maybe not. Wouldn't be surprised if it slipped
his mind somewhere in there."
looked up to see Wes watching him quietly, the compassion showing
only in his eyes. "He's a vampire, Xander, you must have
known where this would lead."
grinned, or tried to. "Yeah, sure, I guess. Got no one to
blame but myself, I know. And it's not like he hasn't got a point,
I am only human, he is better than I am. At the whole fighting
thing, I mean."
been a little harder to maintain the humorous façade when
Wes winced in sympathy. "Oh dear, he didn't say that, did
he? And you know that's not what I meant."
sighed. "Yeah, Wes, I know."
was, that didn't make it any less true.
made the one mistake he'd never been able to understand when Buffy
had told them what she'd been doing with Spike. The one thing
he'd thought he'd never be able to do. He'd forgotten that Spike
was first and foremost a vampire. It wasn't that he couldn't understand
why he'd done it. Spike getting a soul, wanting to fight
the good fight, because there were people in the world he loved
enough to want to save. Maybe he hadn't realised it at the time,
but those things had gotten inside of him, changed him, the way
he thought. Then with William, who was so human, and so vulnerable
and so very much a part of the Spike that he knew that it was
almost impossible to draw a line down him and say that this was
where the human started and the vampire ended. And with everything
he'd already been feeling he just hadn't bothered. Spike just
was who he was. But he was also what he was. And as Angel
as Wes said, what he was, was a vampire. A demon, strictly speaking.
he'd been thinking about it all evening and he'd come to the conclusion
that maybe it didn't really matter anyway. Relationships were
all about compromise, at least in his experience. If you cared
about someone enough to stay with them, you were inevitably going
to have to give something up to make it happen. And when it was
something you just couldn't let go of, or you had nothing left
to give, that was when relationships ended.
if Spike didn't want him to go out patrolling without some protection?
What, he was going to get all grief-stricken over not being allowed
to get battered and bruised on a regular basis? Shit, he should
be happy that Spike cared enough to try and protect him from himself.
question was, what was it worth to him? Was he prepared to leave
Spike over something as inconsequential as this? Sure, Spike was
stronger than he was, faster, more capable. So he might not be
able to go out patrolling with them, he could help people in other
ways. And maybe Spike was a vampire, a demon, Xander was sure
he'd never hurt him, was sure that Spike really did care about
him. He wanted to see where this thing with Spike could
go. Maybe it wouldn't go anywhere and Xander would be back on
a plane to England none the worse for wear. But as long as it
was just this one little thing, then he decided he couldn't really
see what the problem was.
spent much time with Wes, wanting to be back at his apartment,
like he'd said he would be, when Spike got back from hunting with
when Spike got back he was weird, twitchy, kept looking at Xander
like he wanted to say something, but never quite worked up the
courage. Even when Xander asked him what was wrong he just hesitated
and said it was nothing. Eventually, Spike stood up, kissed him
soundly, and said he should be heading back to his place. Xander
didn't argue, although he did pull him for another passionate
kiss before he let him out. Whatever was wrong would either sort
itself out or would be all but forgotten by the time they saw
each other the next day. In Xander's experience that was the way
things generally worked in relationships, too. Besides, if it
was really important he was sure Spike would have said something.
It wasn't like the vampire to not say something just 'cause he
wasn't sure of the reception it would get.
enough, a couple of days later Spike had settled down. Every now
and then Xander had caught him looking at him suspiciously, or
reflectively, or something anyway. Like he was looking for something.
Every now and then he'd look like he wanted to talk about it,
too. It did, in fact, occur to Xander that it could have, probably
did have, something to do with the way he'd reacted to Spike's
concern the other night. But Xander had decided nothing had changed,
so as far as he was concerned there was nothing to talk about.
And his determined relaxation was apparently convincing, because
eventually Spike decided there wasn't a problem after all and
things went back to normal.
It was Saturday morning, a few days later. Xander's eyes flitted
open in a dazed sort of way. He felt good this morning. Rested.
Not the wide awake but still somehow exhausted feeling he usually
got after a good seven hours sleep. He'd switched off the alarm
last night before they went to sleep and turning his head slightly
he saw that it was after nine o'clock, hours later then he usually
had to get up.
the need to stretch, he spared a glance and a fond smile for the
rumpled blond head smooshed into the pillow beside him, decided
he didn't want to risk waking it and carefully manoeuvred his
way to his feet before giving in to the urge to work out some
of the kinks. With a final roll of his shoulders and a relieved
sigh he kicked aside the comforter that was currently warming
most of the floor and reached for a pair of sweats and a t-shirt.
He slipped into the pants, considered the shirt, dropped it back
onto the floor with a shrug and made his way quietly to the kitchen.
opened the curtains a crack as he waited for the water to boil,
humming softly to himself. The curtains were almost always closed
in here these days. Spike stayed over more often than he didn't,
showed up at some truly weird hours and the last thing he wanted
was to come home to a pile of dust because he'd forgotten to close
the curtains when Spike turned up smoking on his font doorstep.
Last month the electricity bill had been almost double what he
was used to. He didn't mind, generally. It was just a thing. Same
way he would have gotten rid of all the ... plants, or something,
if the person he was living with had hay fever, or whatever. As
much as he liked the sunlight, there was hardly anything he could
do about it now. Besides, he worked outside most of the time anyway.
It wasn't a big deal.
... He glanced at the bedroom door, tightly shut, feeling guilty
for even thinking it, then amused at himself for feeling guilty.
He could feel the sun on his fingers where they were still holding
back the curtain. There was just the smallest sliver of light
shining in a line from his shoulder to his waist and it felt so
good, so warm where his skin still hadn't heated up. He turned
his face back to the window and took a long look outside.
probably wouldn't be up for hours. He'd shown up just after nine,
and they'd gone to bed pretty soon thereafter. But Xander had
been too tired for more than one round of sex and had drifted
off, near as he could figure, around eleven. Knowing Spike, the
man had stayed up for hours after that, doing whatever it was
he did all alone in the middle of the night. Probably read, or
watched him sleep, and hello creepy thoughts.
by the whistle of the kettle, Xander shook his head and smiled
wryly. The creepy thing was that it wasn't so much creepy as endearing,
and that was truly disturbing.
up his coffee, Xander shrugged and walked out onto the balcony,
leaving the curtains open a couple of inches, checking to make
sure the light went no where near the bedroom door and parked
himself in front of the gap, so he'd be easy to spot, prepared
to soak up a few rays.
this was nice.
spent hours like this in Africa, just sitting, being warmed by
the sun. Although Africa hadn't been so much with the warm sun,
cool ocean breeze thing as it had been blazingly hot, still,
sweat-inducing rays. And the flies; dear god the flies
had been enough to send him packing off to a little plastic bubble
where he'd never have to see a bug or a germ or a spider or especially
those creepy giant dragonfly thingies ever again. Then there was
the fact that bronzed Californian skin aside the first month he'd
spent in a haze of painful sunburned skin before the very attractive
bright red faded to a tough, sun-resistant brown.
his eyes drift shut, feeling the sun pulse over his eyes in time
with his heart. He slumped lower in his chair so he could rest
his feet on the railing and placed one hand on his stomach, smiling
at the heat there. That was the other thing about Africa. All
that sun, all that dark brown skin had just soaked it up. He'd
had nothing on the natives, of course; touching their skin after
they'd been outside for any amount of time had been like putting
your hand directly into an open flame. His tan had faded, but
there were still echoes of that fiery heat beating under his skin.
Must be awful to be a vampire and not have that.
himself wondering idly if Spike missed it. He remembered how much
William had enjoyed being outside, soaking up the sun, and he
knew that Spike liked being able to see the sunrise from inside
Wolfram and Hart. It was probably just one of those things you
got used to, like drinking blood. And it wasn't like Spike couldn't
go into the sunlight, he just couldn't do it for as long. Without
bursting into flame, anyway.
there like that, eyes closed, relishing that familiar prickling
over his skin that told him he'd be nicely bronzed after a couple
of hours, feeling the sun creep further up his body, warming the
top of his head, sipping his coffee and letting his mind wander
until he heard the bedroom door open and someone wander out into
the living room.
to move, honestly, and he did manage to force his eyes open, but
that was about as far as he got before his body decided to put
in a serious word. Rolling his eyes at himself, Xander did a twisty
little stretch in his chair and got to his feet with a smile.
Scooping up his coffee cup he squeezed between the little gap
in the curtains before pulling them firmly shut, shivering at
the immediate chill on his skin as he did so.
was sitting on the kitchen counter sipping blood out of his blood-glass.
He'd pulled on a ratty old pair of jeans, but hadn't bothered
with much else. His hair was still sticking up in rumpled little
spikes and he was scratching his bare chest absently as Xander
Spike," he smiled.
Xan," Spike responded with a sideways smirk. "You been
hidin' from me out there where I can't get to you?"
grinned, "Nah, just soaking up the rays." He came to
a stop directly in front of Spike, so their chests were only a
few inches apart. Spike's eyes widened and he shivered. Then,
before he could do more than rest his glass on the bench, Xander
placed his hot hands on Spike's chest, over his nipples and leaned
forward to kiss him. Spike was almost cold against him and he
shuddered at the contrast.
broke away with a gasp. "God, Xan, you feel like you're on
fire." Spike ran fingertips over Xander's chest, leaving
shivers and goosebumps in their wake.
just grinned again. "Well, this manly tan of mine is good
for more than attracting all the ladies after all." He took
one of Spike's hands and directed it to touch his hair, taking
the opportunity to step forward and press their chests together.
Spike almost snatched his hand back from Xander's hair, but then
there were legs around his waist and fingers in his hair and cold
lips opening him up, stealing all his wonderful warmth.
a moment he pulled back, smile still firmly in place. The heat
had almost faded, but he could still feel it in his blood, clean,
soaking into him. "Pretty cool, huh?"
God, Pet, you taste like sunlight, it's like nothing ..."
raised an eyebrow. "Sunlight has a taste?"
Spike didn't seem to be paying much attention. Or at least, wasn't
paying attention to what Xander was saying, which was just
fine, 'cause he was being positively studious about licking all
the skin from his chin to his shoulder blades.
squirmed when Spike hit a particularly ticklish bit of skin at
the base of his neck. Spike pulled back at looked at him, his
face shadowed by an odd sort of ... longing, Xander thought. "I
wish--" Spike broke off suddenly, a hint of sadness in his
eyes and Xander tightened the arms around his waist.
knew what he was thinking, had thought about it himself. Today
was a perfect beach day. Time was he would have packed up with
Anya or with the guys and made a day of it, swimming, sunbathing,
wandering along the pier, making out in the sand--with Anya, that
is. Not with Buffy and Willow and Tara and Riley and Dawn. Although
come to think of it he was really only opposed in principle to
making out with Dawn. And Tara. She was Willow's. And there was
a part of him that was ... disappointed that he would never be
able to do those things with Spike, but this was a compromise
he'd come to terms with a while ago.
self-deprecatingly and looked at Spike from under lowered lashed.
"Hey, plenty of non-flammable skin to share between the two
of us, right?" He considered Spike seriously for a moment.
"I don't mind, if it makes a difference."
just did that little shruggy head-tilt thing he did, his mouth
compressed into an unhappy line. "What if something happened
to you out there? I can't protect you in the sunlight. I can't
be ..." Xander resisted the urge to frown at that. They were
back to the protecting thing again. At night with monsters abounding,
sure, he got that, but he was gonna start getting really offended
if Spike didn't drop the helpless card at some point. But Spike
shook his head. "Ah, can't be safe out there, where can you?"
He still didn't look very happy, but was apparently prepared to
let it go for now. "An' if a couple hours sunbathing gets
you like that I reckon it might be worth the risk." He leered
pretty convincingly and Xander waggled his eyebrows in response.
"Made you all cold now, though, haven't I?"
chuckled. "I may be many things around you Spike, but let
me assure you that cold is never one of them. Besides, it wasn't
you. It doesn't last that long once you're in the shade again."
He found himself momentarily caught in Spike's eyes. Dark blue,
pale skin, white hair; he glowed at night ... "I'd like to
see you in the sunlight," he murmured absently, running fingers
through the hair at Spike's temple. A second later his mouth caught
up to his brain and he blushed, clearing his throat self-consciously.
smirked. "We'll get you an open fire. It'll be much the same,
whapped him in the arm and stepped away with a wry smile. "Yeah,
that's right, mock my sentimentality. See if I ever buy you a
bunch of flowers." He moved around the bench into the kitchen.
Spike crossed his legs and swung around so he could continue to
watch him. "You'd probably look all pasty and corpse-like
am all pasty and corpse-like. Dead, remember?"
half-grimaced, half-smiled. "Matter of fact, I do my best
not to, you know, Spike. One thing to be having sex with a vampire,
quite another to be having sex with a corpse." He paused,
held up the bread knife and looked at Spike inquiringly. Spike
shrugged, nodded. Xander dug the bread out of the bread bin. "At
least if you were a corpse I wouldn't have to feed you,"
Spike snort behind him. "Someone's gotta stop you from eating
all that bloody food you insist on buying, Mate. Can't really
see myself wantin' to shag the marshmallow man through the mattress."
chuckled obligingly at that, but he felt a little flicker of ....
something, doubt, regret maybe, at Spike's words. He'd always
known Spike wouldn't want to stay with him forever, wouldn't want
him forever, but he was finding himself increasingly reluctant
to look that far ahead. Like if he didn't think about it, it wouldn't
have to happen.
over to the fridge, glancing at Spike as he went past. "Well,
seeing as a day at the beach is out then, what you want to do
with this wonderfully work-free day'o'mine? You going out with
made a non-committal noise. "Eh, poof wants to patrol. Might
go." Xander was suddenly very glad he had his face in the
fridge. His stomach tightened and he knew that Spike would be
able to see the blood rushing to his face. He hadn't been out
with them since the aborted attempt nearly four weeks ago. Spike
went every second night or so, but Xander had flatly refused to
bring it up or think about it or be anything but happy that Spike
wanted to protect him. Spike didn't seem to think anything was
wrong with his attitude and as far as Xander was concerned it
could just stay that way.
didn't explain why he glanced over at Spike as he tossed the roast
beef onto the bench and remarked, "Patrol, huh? I could go
for that." There was a tiny bit of him that crowed at the
flicker of fear he saw in Spike's eyes before he turned back to
their lunch. That loved the fact that he'd hurt Spike like Spike
had hurt him. That he refused to acknowledge existed, because
he understood, he didn't hate Spike, didn't resent him. Didn't.
so wrapped up in ignoring himself that he didn't hear Spike slide
off the bench and come to stand behind him. Although chances were
he wouldn't have heard him anyway. He jumped when a hand landed
solidly on his shoulder and the knife he was holding went flying
from his hand. He, like any even half-sane person would have done,
hurriedly moved out of the way of the flying utensil. Spike's
hand shot out and caught the thing blade-first, two inches from
it in the sink as a little pool of blood welled up from the small,
shallow cut across his palm. Spike looked at his hand and gave
a disgusted roll of his eyes. Xander just chuckled. "Some
creature of the night you turned out to be, huh?" He carefully
picked up Spike's hand and licked off the blood, placing a kiss
on the already closing cut as he pulled away. "And here I'm
the one not allowed to go out and fight the bad guys with knives."
grinning as he said it, and it took him a moment to realise that
Spike wasn't. Wasn't smiling at all. Was looking concerned and
stubborn and underneath it all Xander could still see the arrogance,
the condescension, the I'm-a-master-vampire-and-you're-just-human-and-I-know-what's-best-for-you-now.
He wondered where all that warmth he remembered soaking into his
blood had gone.
looked him in the eye. Xander couldn't look away. "Luv, you
know you can't. It's too dangerous. I can't be sure I'll always
be there to protect you." His voice was soft, sincere and
Xander was getting lost in endless pools of blue. Drowning, wanting
to. There was something happening, it felt like something inside
of him was ... dying ... being folded up in pieces of Spike, and
for a moment he struggled, but Spike never stopped looking at
him and Spike was everywhere, everything ... "You know that,
Xander. It's for the best." And suddenly he did know it.
Knew it right down to his soul. Spike only cared about him, didn't
want him to get hurt. Xander was weak, human, he did need someone
to protect him, he'd always known that, after all. Why had this
been bothering him so much?
relaxed. "Sure, Spike, I know, I was just kidding."
tilted his head and regarded him seriously for a moment, before
giving a relieved smile and stepping back. "Good, right then.
Only want what's best for you, Xan."
chuckled. "You see now, if you hadn't just mocked me for
my lovable romantic nature I'd say you are what's best for me,
but you've gone and lost your chance now, buster."
to roll his eyes at the sappy look that appeared on Spike's face
and gave into the urge to lean in and kiss him. His eyes slipped
shut as Spike took his face between his hands and proceeded to
devour his mouth. He felt his knees buckling and had to grasp
at the bench behind him to keep himself from falling. Spike didn't
let up, just stepped closer, pushing him back and the sharp corner
of the granite connected painfully with his back. He barely noticed.
He did notice the hard length that was currently digging into
his hip. For a moment it was all he could feel. The tongue in
his mouth and the erection grinding so close to his own and his
concentration was blown. He forgot to keep breathing through his
nose and after a moment had to break away, gasping, while Spike
just moved onto his neck, licking and biting and dropping tiny,
barely there kisses.
... Spike," he tried again. He put his hand into that crispy
white hair and used it to yank Spike's mouth off his neck. Spike's
head came up with a growl.
mouth dropped open, but suddenly he had nothing to say. Spike's
eyes were almost black; passionate, needy, demanding. Wet. Confused,
and he loved that Spike could be such a contradiction, could be
thrown by such an offhand comment. He shifted, wanting to get
closer, and remembered what the problem was. "Ow," he
grimaced, pushing them forward so he wasn't sandwiched against
the bench. It pushed him into Spike and their cocks collided.
They both shuddered.
Luv," Spike murmured into his ear. It took Xander a moment
to figure out he was talking about the bench.
problem," he gasped. "What's one more bruise? So I take
it you've figured out what you want to do with the rest of the
you," Spike growled. "Always want you."
didn't protest as he was pushed towards the bedroom. "I think
we can work with that."
Xander was relaxing in front of the tv with a bowl of chips and
a can of root beer when his cell phone rang a couple of days later.
Spike wasn't there yet. Xander was expecting him eventually, but
he was out patrolling with Angel again, so there was no telling
how long the two vampires might be. Angel had shown up at their
front door just after sunset, which had quite possibly been the
single biggest shock of his existence, then topped that by asking
point blank if Xander wanted to come with them, didn't he care
about helping the helpless any more? Spike hadn't been there for
that part of the conversation, getting his weapons from the bedroom.
frowned again as he thought of Angel's expression. He'd looked
... well it had either been concern or suspicion, but either way
he hadn't known what to make of it. And when he'd chuckled and
pointed out that he was hardly the best person to go patrolling
with them, Angel's face had gone carefully blank.
had just shot him a confused look and perched himself on the back
of the sofa, crossing his arms over his chest. Hadn't Angel said
just the other week that he hadn't wanted Xander to go patrolling
with them? Had something changed? "Come on, Angel, we both
know I'm hardly superhero Material. Hell, I am only human. Spike
can't be there to protect me all the time."
been distracted then by Spike sauntering out into the living room.
He thought he caught the tail end of a look that seemed almost
angry directed at Spike, but when he turned back there was just
the usual blank mask in place, and Angel gesturing at Spike that
it was time for them to be leaving. He did notice that Angel never
took his eyes off them as Spike leaned in and placed a hard kiss
on his mouth and couldn't stifle the faint thread of unease that
seemed to be trying to worm its way through him ... to tell him
something ... but Spike was drowning it out, turning his head,
pulling away with a smile and it just faded into the background
then disappeared completely as he looked into Spike's eyes.
fun," Xander had grinned, then added thoughtlessly, "Be
careful." And Spike had grinned back and left him to an evening
by himself on the couch.
him a moment to figure out where the ringing was coming from.
He had to go hunting through his tool box before he was finally
able to dig the thing out and press it to his ear.
he said cheerfully enough, figuring it was one of the guys from
work. They were the only ones who had his number, after all.
treated to a burst of static that had him wincing and holding
the phone away from his ear, then, "Hello? Xander? You there?"
eyes widened and he had absolutely no control over the grin that
immediately appeared on his face. "Willow?" he exclaimed.
was a pause, then the line seemed to clear suddenly. "In
the flesh. Or the voice, in any case." He could hear her
grin, could see it just as clearly if she were standing in front
of him. And he could feel it, as something in his soul warmed,
loosened, just as it always did whenever he heard her voice. "But
not for very much longer, which makes it sound like I'm about
to lose my voice or die or something and that is not what
I meant, let me reassure you right now."
grinned even wider and flopped down onto the couch. He could tell
that nothing was wrong, or at least, nothing was, like really
wrong, as in someone was dead or dying or had gotten a really
bad hair cut or whatever. So he let himself just sit back and
enjoy the sound of his very best friend in the world being happy.
"Consider me reassured, then and tell me right this second
why you haven't called me once the last month? I'm almost completely
convinced you've run off with some gorgeous Brazilian and forgotten
all about me."
no!" she exclaimed immediately, sounding almost frantic.
Xander just smirked. "It's not that, I would never forget
about you, none of us would, it's just that there's been this
thing and come to think of it, just who, exactly, hasn't called
whom, mister? 'Cause unless my answering machine is possessed
and has been eating all my messages, which it isn't, there haven't
been whole heaps of calls from you either, buddy." He could
hear her grinning again and chuckled happily.
Will. I kept thinking about it and not doing it, you know how
it is. 'Sides, Spike's been keeping me kinda busy."
sighed. "Yeah, I know how you feel, we've been swamped trying
to figure out this big bad evil that's supposed to be coming--and
wait, what? What do you mean Spike's been keeping you busy?"
Xander reiterated, "you know, Spike, blond hair, blue eyes,
bloody annoying ..."
huffed impatiently. "I know who Spike is Xander. The question
is, why is he keeping you busy? I know you said you talked to
him pretty often while you were in Africa. Have you two been spending
lots of time together?"
raised an eyebrow. "Well, yeah, what with the sex and the
occasional half-assed date and the practically living ... together
..." He trailed off suddenly as something occurred to him.
There was a disturbing sort of silence from the other end of the
phone line. "Ah ... I did, you know, mention this, didn't
silence stretched and he winced in anticipation of the explosion.
"Alexander Harris!" Ah yeah, there it was. "How
long has this been going on! Why didn't you tell me! Oh my God,
who else knows? Does everyone else know! I can't believe you didn't
tell me! You didn't even tell me you were gay! Not that that's
really the issue, it's not like you haven't, you know, ever seemed
entirely opposed to the idea, but I'm still your best friend and
.... Spike! Spike! Oh, I have to sit down."
was a thump that he took to be Willow doing just that and he was
about to open his mouth and relate what was sure to be a reasonable
and coherent explanation of what had happened and nothing at all
resembling a babbling apology when there was a funny sound and
a new voice said, "Xander?"
mouth snapped shut. "Buffy!" He slumped in relief.
what the hell did you do to Willow?" She sounded worried.
And pissed, but then Buffy generally sounded pissed when she was
Xander', he heard in the background. 'He ... they ... Spike!'
There was a pause, then Buffy spoke up again. He curled into his
seat a little at her tone and thanked Christ that she was currently
on the very opposite side of the world. "Xander, why does
Willow sound so surprised to hear that you and Spike are together?"
was a very good question that he was absolutely prepared to answer
right now. "Um ..." he tried.
apparently wasn't satisfied. "Xander! I can't believe you!
Why on earth didn't you tell her? You can't have been worried
about what she would think. You know we'd love you no matter what,
Willow especially." She sounded hurt now, and Xander felt
frantic tears stinging the back of his eyes as he finally found
God, no, it wasn't that! I just ... I told you what had
happened between me and Spike before I went to Africa, because,
well, you know ... and okay so maybe I didn't tell anyone when
it was actually happening but it was just new and yeah, a little
weird, not really because I didn't want you to know but maybe
just 'cause I was getting used to it and then it was like it was
over, or on hold or something and ... I guess maybe I thought
you'd tell them, but then, I don't know, I guess it never really
came up and after a while I just didn't think about it ... I'm
really sorry. I do want you to know, all of you ..." He trailed
off miserably, waiting to hear Buffy's judgement.
was a pause. "No, I mean, you didn't have to tell us, I guess."
Xander winced at the guilt that immediately sat up and started
poking little wooden stakes in his conscience at that statement.
He couldn't believe this was happening. It was true he'd hidden
the him and Spike thing from them at first. The last thing he'd
wanted was a Cordelia rerun. So, really, he guessed it was kinda
karmic or something that that was exactly what he was getting,
except Willow didn't hate Spike, he didn't think, so that had
to be points in his favour, surely. He'd had to tell Buffy about
them. It had been eating him up inside that she might still have
feelings for Spike. He'd played it down, or maybe not, seeing
as it wasn't like he and Spike had been all hearts-and-roses and
ever-after, or any of that stuff, really, whatever he might have
wished or thought or imagined he might have seen in Spike's eyes.
And if it hadn't exactly ended when he'd left for Africa, neither
had they promised to do much more than to keep in touch while
he was away. He'd talked to Buffy and Willow maybe a couple of
times a month, though he'd kept up to date with what was going
on through Giles and Andrew in England, and the truth was it really
had never come up.
I really am sorry. I ... I don't know what to say. Tell Willow
I promise to tell her everything."
was a soft chuckle from Buffy, then Willow, still sounding a little
dazed, said, "Buffy's right, Xander, I'm sorry I got all
blah. It was just a surprise, although thinking back on it I've
got no idea why. She's wrong about the you not telling us, though.
Mark my words, mister, you are so going to tell me everything
I've been to thick-headed to pick up on the past couple of months."
could hear her smiling again and relaxed. "Absolutely, Will.
All the torrid details of my thing with the bleached wonder will
be laid out for your viewing pleasure."
she stated firmly, "glad to hear it. You can start composing
the stories in your head now, 'cause the whole point of this call,
before your little coming out speech, was to tell you we'll be
there, in L.A., on Monday. You might wanna warn Spike, too."
That was his Wills, making with the scary friendly voice. He was
shivering even as he was smiling.
he was just shivering as Buffy added, "Or not." He didn't
have to be there to see the smile that all of Dawn's dates had
got over the years. It occurred to him he must be on speaker phone,
which was just freaking wonderful. With his luck Dawn and Giles
had been in the room all along. Although, come to think of it,
if they'd been there, there would have been a whole lot more squealing
and swearing, so maybe he was safe.
ignored both of the not-so-subtle ultimatums. "Yeah?"
he asked, delighted. "Cool! Big crisis is there? Or didja
just feel like paying me a visit?"
you're just the icing, Xan, though visiting you and Spike,"
Willow hesitated over the name a little, "has suddenly made
it to the top of the things to do while in L.A. list." She
was still sounding kinda dangerous, of the veiny, black eyes variety,
so Xander just grimaced and kept quiet. She hmphed a little at
his silence, but went on to explain that the latest big bad was
hellmouth bound. The hellmouth they'd all assumed was closed for
good and the fact that they couldn't get away from the damned
thing even after collapsing a town on it seriously sucked, a sentiment
he was careful to share in verbose detail.
hung up a little while later with promises to call and reiterated
threats towards himself and Spike if beans weren't spilled soon.
Xander just smiled, shook his head and promised to pass them on.
glad they knew. It felt like a weight he hadn't been aware of
carrying had been lifted.
occur to him until later to wonder if Spike would have wanted
them to know too.
"So, there you go, Will, the hentire story." Xander
flashed her a grin, watching calmly as she processed all the facts
of the Spike and Xander saga, which hadn't been so much saga-y
as pretty damn ordinary, when it came right down to it.
was all she said for a moment. "Huh, so, that's really kinda
His eyes widened in confusion as he smirked at her. "Which
story were you listening to, Wills? 'Cause in my version? Not
so much with the romance."
Willow had that faraway, smiling happy expression that he just
knew meant she was thinking about, like, white horses and towers
and thorns and stuff. He glanced at Buffy, looking for a little
support, but she just shrugged, sipped her sea breeze and grinned,
"I dunno, Xan, it sounds kinda romantic to me. Think about
it. Lifelong hatred cast aside on the eve of the end of the world,
only time for one first kiss before he dies, you braving magic
and danger to travel back to the past, where his human self falls
in love with you just in time for you to disappear from his life
forever, so you can bring back what you need to resurrect him
now. Then meeting again, both unable to forget that first kiss,
him only now remembering that there was a second over a hundred
years ago, snatching a mere month to be together before you're
torn apart once again, then finally reunited after months only
to discover that all those feelings are just as strong as they
used to be. What would you call it?"
didn't ... that's not," he spluttered.
laughed. "That's what you just said happened, Xan."
yeah, but not like that. I am not living a Harlequin romance!
There's not nearly enough swooning, for one thing."
nodded sagely. "No, he's right, Will. Neither of them have
nearly enough taut, rippling muscles to pull it off."
we do so have rippling muscles! I mean, that's right, weak and
puny, that's us."
huh." Willow continued to smirk at him.
glared at her, but she sipped her drink innocently and eventually
he sighed. "Okay, fine, so maybe it was kinda ... unconventional
... but, Spike has to be the girl."
Xan," Willow nodded agreeably. "You da man." Xander
just screwed up his nose at her and squelched the urge to stick
out his tongue.
or two later, they had moved from the bar and appropriated a few
of the couches lining the back wall in friendly little clumps.
They were also somewhere to the left of sober and giggling madly
as they surveyed the crowds. Having moved on from Spike, received
a glowing report on Kennedy, they were in the process of scanning
for possibilities for Buffy.
haven't been on a date in forever," she said wistfully. "I
bet you and Spike go on dates all the time, don't you Xan?"
Xander didn't take his eyes from the people. "Don't date
so much, really, anymore. Spike's all busy with Angel and stuff.
Used to, though, sometimes, when we weren't busy with all the
sex and stuff."
Buffy punched him in the arm.
He jumped, alarmed. "Oh, ah, I mean ... that is ... yeah."
you don't get flowers and chocolates and poems and jewellery and
cute little axes and daggers and things? Or go out to, like, restaurants
and shows and whatever? That's sad. I don't either. No little
weapons for Buffy."
her on the head, which made her poke him, and pointed to a guy
sitting at the bar. She grimaced. He went back to the search.
could come on patrol with me and Will, Xan," Buffy piped
up after a minute. "That's like a date, right? With the walking
and the, you know, talking. I bet Spike takes you patrolling with
him all the time."
shook his head again. "Nope, don't do that. Finally got it
into my head that crappy fighters like me shouldn't be patrolling.
Spike's right, I don't want to get hurt." He nodded decisively,
ignoring the tiny part of his brain that was trying to make him
wonder what the hell he was saying.
twisted around to look at him. "But you're a good fighter.
You didn't hardly ever get--got hurt when you went with me. Well,
not lately, anyway."
"Spike doesn't like it."
looked at him for a moment, then slumped back into her seat with
a frown that was trying to be thoughtful. "Huh, guy's are
Xander agreed. Willow nodded from Buffy other side. "You
got the right idea, Will."
was slumped against Buffy when her eyes widened suddenly. "Hey,
wait, if Spike's a girl, does that make me gay, then? Huh, 'v
never been gay before, but it's okay, isn't it? You'll still love
me even though I'm gay, won't you guys?"
looked so worried; Xander put his arm around her in a comforting
sort of way. Willow leaned over and patted her hand. "Of
course! We can be gay together!" Willow exclaimed.
nodded. "We love you no matter what," he stated definitively.
"'Though I'm not sure if sleeping with Spike makes you gay.
I mean, it makes me gay, doesn't it? Or does it make me straight?
'Cause Spike's not really a girl." His eyes narrowed
just Xander's girl!" Willow grinned, pleased.
of the devil. Spike Materialised beside them, glaring. "What
Buffy cried, falling forward, catching herself on the coffee table
with enviable slayer reflexes. Xander didn't think he'd've managed
to catch himself, but then he wasn't moving, so it was all good.
"We were just talking about you! I haven't seen you in forever.
Before this afternoon, I mean. Not since you were all incorporatial
and you told me you didn't think you still loved me and I was
so sad, but happy, 'cause I was glad you're moving on. On and
on, but not me, 'cept we think maybe I'm gay now, or maybe not,
which'd explain why I haven't had so many dates, really. Oh! Wait,
Spike'd know! Willow, ask Spike."
head snapped around. Xander thought maybe she'd been staring at
Buffy's chest, but he didn't want to mention it. "What? Spike!
When did you get here? Hey! Spike, we've been meaning to ask you
this thing. It's this thing, you see. You see, the thing is, are
you are girl?"
blinked at them. "What? Am I a what?"
girl," Xander added helpfully. "Y'see, I didn't think
so, but if you are then that makes Buffy gay."
Willow sounded a little too enthusiastic about that.
glared at her and went on. "So you see, we need to know so
we can be all supportive and stuff. And find her the right sort
of date. Girl-type dates."
all looked at him expectantly. Spike seemed to be having trouble
forming words. He'd crossed his arms over his chest and was glaring
at them some more. Xander smiled encouragingly when Spike glanced
at him. "Oh, f'r ..." Giving up, Spike rolled his eyes
and threw himself into the seat beside Xander. "You lot are
bloody tanked, aren't you? No, I'm not a bleedin' girl. Though
with the shit that I put up with I sometimes gotta wonder."
frowned and leaned into Xander. "Not even Xander's girl?"
anyone's frickin' girl! Not a girl!" Xander giggled when
he saw a few heads turn their way, choking it off as Spike turned
to glare at him.
I'm not gay, then? Huh, an' I was jus getting used to the idea,"
Buffy sighed. "Guess that means you were right, Xan, no romance
for you." She patted him on the chest consolingly, leaving
her hand there longer than was strictly necessary. It occurred
to Xander that she was really kinda drunk. Especially when Spike
about done here, Harris?" Spike didn't look like he expected
no for an answer. Xander tensed, preparing to stand.
Willow frowned at Spike. "Don't you want to visit with us,
Spike? Don't you care about us? I haven't seen you in, well, hours,
but before that it was months! Months and months and months and
years even! You could have a drink! They have lots of drinks here.
We've only tried not very many of them, but they were all pretty
bad." She grimaced as she took another long sip of her screwdriver.
Or maybe that was the last drink?
Spike," Buffy added belligerently, tugging on Xander's arm
to keep him beside her. "Go 'way if you're gonna be all party-pooping.
We're having a drink with our Xan. You stay right there, Xan."
found himself faced with a rather onerous decision. To stay with
his girls, or to go with Spike? He tried to work out the pros
and cons, but he was coming up pretty much even. On the one hand,
Buffy and Willow would only be in L.A. for a few weeks and he
wanted to spend as much time with them as he could. Spike would
be there for ages longer than that. Plus, he was having fun. How
often was it these days that he got to reconnect with them like
this? And then, on the other hand, Spike had said he wanted to
go home, and home probably meant sex, which was never a bad
idea, especially if you added Spike to the mix.
at Spike. The vampire was watching Buffy with narrowed eyes. Matter
of fact, he looked pretty damn annoyed. Xander wondered if something
had gone wrong while they were patrolling. "No, Slayer, my
Xander is coming home with me right now," he said softly.
narrowed his eyes, not entirely sure he liked that statement.
He was about to open his mouth and insist that Spike wasn't the
boss of him, when Buffy surged forward and pinned Spike with a
suddenly disturbingly sober gaze. "I kinda think that's his
eyes were dark, dangerous, when they fell on him. "It's late,
I want to go home, and I don't want him have to get home by himself
after dark. It's not safe."
Xander nodded as everything fell into place. He wasn't sure he
liked being bossed around like that, but that was an argument
he couldn't fault. "Fair enough." He got to his feet,
swaying a little. Spike was there in a heartbeat, hands gripping
his biceps hard enough to bruise, but certainly keeping him from
falling. Xander just smiled through the pain and said to the two
faces regarding him with some concern, "I'll give you a call
tomorrow, guys, we can go somewhere with Giles and Dawn and Angel
and the team, maybe."
they said goodbye and watched as Xander was marched firmly out
of the bar.
Spike didn't say anything the whole drive home. For once, Xander
didn't feel the urge to fill in the silence. He still felt ...
annoyed, torn, uncomfortable, like something bad had happened
but he couldn't quite put his finger on what. His arm was bothering
him where Spike had gripped hard enough to grind into his bones.
just glowered and sneered when Spike slammed the door and stalked
into the apartment without looking at him. He didn't care if it
was childish. Spike was being a jerk for some inexplicable reason
and to be honest he was getting just a little sick and tired of
these damn mood swings with Spike lording it over him and just
expecting him to jump every time he crooked a finger.
not tonight, buddy, he thought rebelliously, deliberately not
looking at Spike as they walked inside. He carefully hung up his
coat, got himself a glass of water from the kitchen and only after
making a point of drinking it with a couple of aspirin and washing
out his glass turned around to face Spike.
wasn't even in the room. Xander felt another surge of childish
irritation and stomped into the bedroom to find Spike pacing in
the shadows, his duster thrown over the chair beside the bed,
but otherwise fully clothed. Which was good.. Yeah, he wasn't
putting out 'till he at least got an apology.
got time to open his mouth to issue the ultimatum before Spike
was pinning him to the door, devouring his mouth hungrily, angrily,
gripping his biceps and pulling his hair, points of pain that
stood in stark opposition to the pleasure that was spiralling
through him as Spike ground into his hips and his groin and ran
his tongue over his gums and his teeth and his chin and made him
wonder if he'd played hard to get long enough.
didn't even give him the chance to reciprocate. While he was still
reeling from the first kiss, Spike had him tossed onto the bed,
just barely managing to not knock him unconscious on the headboard.
Xander opened his mouth to comment on just how pleased that made
him, but Spike was faster. There was a tongue in his mouth and
hands opening his zipper and rubbing his hard-on through his pants
and all those exceptionally witty things he'd had lined up would
just have to wait for another time.
apparently wasn't in the mood to take the time to make sure all
their clothes weren't ripped to shreds, but one glance at the
intense, almost angry expression on his face convinced Xander
that maybe he didn't want to bring that up either. However, the
expression itself was unfortunately not to be ignored. "Spike--"
He broke off with a sharp cry and arched up off the sheets as
Spike leaned down and wrapped his lips around the head Xander's
erection. Then he could only hold on and hope that Spike didn't
suck what was left of his brain out as Spike lavished the sort
of attention on his dick that he normally only reserved for Passions
and bitching about Angel.
only when his hand found its way into the crunchy mess that was
Spike's hair that Spike let up. He raised his head with a growl
and jerked his head out of Xander's grasp. It brought him back
to himself enough to notice that although Spike seemed to have
relaxed a little, he was still looking more pissed off than anything
else. Shaking his head, he reached up and touched Spike's cheek.
"Okay, Blondie, what's wrong?" he demanded, slightly
breathlessly and possibly with less enthusiasm than the situation
warranted, but hey: he was a guy in the middle of having sex,
he was doing the best he could.
Spike stated shortly.
Xander scoffed. "Right. Seriously, Spike..."
up, Harris," Spike growled. "Only thing that's wrong
is you keep interruptin' me fucking you."
blinked, surprised. "Geez, sorry," he muttered. Well,
fine, Spike wanted to have non-talky sex, he could do that.
took Xander's hands and thrust them above them his head. "Keep
'em there." Xander obediently wrapped his hands around the
bars of the headboard and kept his mouth shut. Spike almost smiled
at that, although it wasn't a particularly nice smile. But then
there were three lubed fingers shoving into his ass and Xander
pretty much forgot that there was something he was supposed to
be concerned about.
out at the sensation--which was apparently okay, because Spike
didn't mention it--the burn eclipsed when Spike found his prostate.
His fingers tightened around the headboard compulsively and his
eyes fluttered shut. They flew open again when Spike raked nails
down his chest, across his nipples and wrapped fingers tightly
around his cock. Spike was hovering over him now and Xander was
momentarily distracted by the thought that for someone who was
about to have their dick up his ass, Spike didn't actually seem
to be looking at him. Then his hips were being lifted up, the
fingers were gone from his ass and Spike shoved into him, hard
and fast, barely giving him the time to get used to this new,
bigger, sensation before he was thrusting, pounding into him,
grunting in his ear and digging rough fingers into his hips.
gave up thinking then and just held on for the ride, letting the
always unbelievable feeing of Spike inside him drive him closer
to the edge. The muscles in his arms were screaming from the effort
of hanging onto the rails of the bed head, from the effort of
not reaching down and pulling at the erection that Spike was still
ignoring. He was just about to break this self-imposed little
silence and voice his displeasure when Spike finally got a clue
and pried a hand from the bruises he was undoubtedly leaving on
Xander's hips and started fisting his dick as his thrusts became
harder and more erratic. Xander shouted out his orgasm just as
Spike finally lifted his head up far enough to look him in the
face for a moment before lowering it to his shoulder once again.
cried out again as Spike bit harshly into the fleshy part of his
neck. It was almost equal parts surprise and pleasure, but in
the heat of the moment the pain didn't register until Spike threw
his head back and growled as he thrust one final time and came.
a moment for Spike to slip out of him and fall to his side before
he raised one arm heavily and placed his fingertips over his pulse.
He was aware of his heart racing, the rapid pounding just under
his skin, then there was a sharp pain and when he moved slightly
he became aware of the slick sensation under his fingers. Without
really thinking about it, he pulled his hand away and saw the
little drops of red that could be nothing but his blood.
stared at it as he tried to process this. Spike had bitten him.
Bitten him right over his jugular, hard enough to draw blood.
Spike was a vampire. If he'd been wearing his fangs Xander would
probably be dead right now. It was a seriously disconcerting thought
and he felt his breath hitch in is chest, his fingers curling
other hand, Spike hadn't been in game face. That had to mean something,
right? He'd found out ages ago about Spike's little neck fetish,
hadn't thought much of it, truth be told. Biting went on during
sex all the time, it was just ... kinky. Wasn't like Spike was
trying to rip his throat out, no matter that he could,
given the incentive. Spike would never hurt him.
his head, confused. The movement apparently disturbed Spike, because
the next thing he knew, there was a "Fuck," and Spike
was sitting bolt upright, staring at his neck. There was blood
on his chin.
lowered his hand slowly. He still felt kinda ... disconnected.
He looked at Spike. "You bit me."
eyed him warily. Rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Yeah,
looks like. Uh, sorry about that. Got, you know, caught up, I
guess. Vampire thing. You, ah, you alright, then?"
shrugged. Vampire thing? What did that mean? Spike didn't want
to turn him into a vampire or something, did he? "Why ...
ah, that is, you wouldn't ..."
gaze hardened. "Wouldn't what? Wouldn't drink you? Mark you?
Make you mine?"
kill me." He tried to keep it light, but Spike stiffened.
He looked at Xander so steadily that after a moment Xander dropped
his gaze and shrugged again. There was that tiny niggle in his
brain that was shouting, 'deliberately kill me', but he ignored
it. Spike would never do that. He wasn't sure what to think about
.... marking, was a little disturbed to find it didn't actually
disturb hi sas much as it probably should, but he was the king
long as you don't do it too often, it's no big deal, right? Doesn't
mean anything, we'll just add it to our repertoire of kinky sex."
realise he was holding his breath until Spike said shortly, "Yeah,
sure, no big deal."
was up and off the bed in a blur of pale skin, disappearing into
lay there and wondered just what, exactly, he had been holding
his breath for.
Xander stumbled into his apartment some time after midnight. He
threw his jacket onto the hall table as he wandered towards the
living room, giggling a little drunkenly as it slipped off and
fell to the floor, but not bothering to pick it up.
actually had all that much to drink. More than he usually did,
sure, but that wasn't saying much. He liked the occasional drink
as much as the next guy, but he'd never got the hang of getting
well and truly sloshed. Even after he'd left Anya at the altar
he hadn't been able to bring himself to do it. That would have
smacked of his parents even more than betraying and hurting the
person he loved and that whole thing, on some level, had been
about not following the sterling example of his mother
and father. Somehow losing himself in the bottom of a bottle would
have been almost as bad as what he'd done in the first place.
he'd gone out because he was looking to have a little fun, what
with Spike all unavailable with the whole protecting humanity
thing Xander was no longer allowed to participate in, the girls
busy with their own monster-finding fest, and it was just possible
he'd gotten a little carried away.
on the living room light, then looked up in alarm at the muted
growl he could hear from across the room.
was standing by the window, still half in the shadows, seriously
pissed if the crossed arms and tense posture were anything to
go by. Xander relaxed, placing a hand over his now racing heart
and throwing Spike a wry smirk. "Geez, Spike, you scared
the life outta me. Lurking much."
stepped into the light, crossing the room in a few long strides
to stand in front of him. Xander was surprised to see fangs, although
they melted away in the time it took for Spike to reach him. Up
close, Xander frowned. "You okay, Spike?" he asked,
concern colouring his tone and clearing his head. "You look
..." Actually, if he hadn't known better, Xander might have
said he looked scared, under all the righteous anger. "Did
something happen while you were patrolling?"
didn't seem to hear him. One hand came up to clutch at Xander's
arm roughly, the other clenching at his side. "Where the
hell have you been, Xander?" Spike demanded harshly.
only stare in shock for a moment. It was one of those weird moments
when he could just feel all the good humour draining out him,
like someone had turned on a heat lamp over his head and it all
just melted away. His eyes narrowed, the smile fell from his face.
Almost without thinking, he twisted himself away, out Spike's
grip, stepping backwards. "Out," he replied stiffly.
"I left you a message on your cell to let you know where
I'd be." Actually, he'd called Wolfram and Hart and Spike's
cell half a dozen times trying to get a hold of him. He hadn't
wanted Spike to worry, after all, when he wasn't able to get a
hold of him. By the end of half an hour he had been edging on
seriously irritated and had eventually given up. In retrospect,
his message could probably have been a little more specific, but
by that stage he'd figured that if Spike didn't want to talk to
him, then he was really not interested in talking to Spike either.
Spike, gone out for a drink with the guys, should be home just
after midnight'? Not good enough." Spike was starting to
look downright dangerous and Xander took another unconscious step
himself, starting to get just a little angry himself. "Well,
if you'd wanted to know where I was going to be, maybe you should
have answered your phone. Or, and here's a novel idea, you could
pick one up and give me a call once in a goddamn while!"
again, Spike seemed to ignore him. "I asked you where you
I think I pretty much said fuck you, Spike!"
this was so not the way to solve anything, but suddenly Xander
was angrier than he could remember being in a long time.
eyes narrowed and faster than he could blink Xander was pushed
up against the wall. "Who were you with, Xander? Huh? I can
smell them on you, you know. You're mine, now, and you don't get
to forget that, Pet," Spike growled, his breath coming heavily
against Xander's cheek, his voice thick with more than just anger
straightened, but didn't attempt to extricate himself. "Is
that right, Spike?" he bit out sarcastically. "You can
smell them, can you? And just who is it exactly that you can smell?
Steve? What about his wife and their five kids? Can ya smell them,
too? No, I know, you can smell Travis and his girlfriend Fiona,
can't you? Sixty-five year old George? Andrew? He tends to get
pretty ripe after a hard days work, what with all that extra weight
he's carrying. Maybe it's him you can smell!" He felt a dark
thrill of satisfaction as he noticed that Spike had backed up
under the force of this rant. "No? Well, maybe it's Angel
you can smell on me. Oh, wait, no, that'd be you, wouldn't
realising he'd backed them up almost to the middle of the room,
Xander stopped. Some of the anger in Spike's eyes had fled, as
the corners crinkled in confusion. He opened his mouth, but nothing
came out. Xander scrunched his eyes shut for a moment, before
looking back up at Spike. Truth was, he was almost as surprised
he'd said that as Spike obviously was. He'd never really thought
there was anything going on between the two vampires, although
his subconscious had evidently been devoting some time to it.
But that wasn't even remotely the issue and Xander knew it.
trusted Spike enough to not mention it when he wanted to spend
all his days and most of his nights with another man, a man he
had the sort of history with that Xander had been so good at failing
back in high school, but Spike didn't trust Xander enough to let
him have an after work drink with the boys without starting a
had been coming on for a while, now, ever since Spike had said
he didn't want him patrolling without extra protection that somehow
they never got around to getting. There had been a whole litany
of little things, from Spike not wanting him out alone after dark
to Spike butting into his conversations when he was talking to
a strange woman, or a man, when they were out together. Not usually
rudely, but obviously. Not wanting Xander to go out with anyone
if he wasn't there. Not enough to comment on, but often enough
that eventually Xander couldn't help but notice.
they really had been little things, insignificant compromises
that taken one at a time were so easy to forgive and forget and
just move on. This, though, this didn't feel so trivial. And as
much as Xander'd really love to just let it go and hope it worked
itself out, there was a point at which even he could admit that
conversation kinda did become necessary. He'd left it way too
long last time. Maybe nipping it in the bud this time wasn't such
a bad idea at that.
he said a little awkwardly, "I didn't mean ... It's just
that what you think, Xander? Is that how much you trust me?"
Spike sounded hurt, angry, confused and Xander felt something
flash in his brain, something irrational, incredulous.
don't know, Spike, is that how much you trust me?"
what'm I s'posed to think, huh? Do you even care about this relationship
of ours at all, Xander? What does it mean to you, anyway? 'S far
as I can tell it's all just some temporary arrangement for you.
You're here with me now, but the second the slayer or Willow says
jump, all you can say is how bloody high."
narrowed his eyes. "Is that what this is about? You don't
trust me because I want to be there for my friends?"
sighed. "I do trust you, Xan. It's just, I don't want to
lose you. What if you'd gotten hurt? I can't protect you if I'm
not even there. You go wandering all over town by yourself, anything
could happen. We talked about this." Spike sounded so rational,
like he'd thought this out and anything Xander said must be wrong
because he just didn't have all the facts. And Xander could feel
himself caving. He was so angry, so hurt, wasn't thinking clearly.
Maybe Spike was right. He knew Spike only wanted to protect him,
he'd explained that, proved it, over and over.
his head, the confusion flashing through his eyes. Spike took
a step towards him, leaving them almost touching from the waist
down. Apology fresh on his lips Xander looked up just a second
too soon, and froze. The triumphant, self-satisfied expression
melted into a smile almost before he saw it. But not soon enough.
of frozen calm flooded him as feelings he didn't have time to
deal with right now threatened to overwhelm him. Oddly enough,
he didn't feel even a little bit drunk anymore. He stepped back.
"Do I belong to you Spike?" he asked softly.
eyes darkened. "You're mine, Xander. Not sharing you with
anyone. Ever." Xander shivered at the dark tone, the barely
you own me, Spike?"
appeared in the other man's eye's. Xander didn't react. "Might
not put it that way, but yeah, I guess so."
would feel like a punch in the gut later. Much later if he had
anything to say about it.
rushed on before he could say anything. "Look, Xan, it's
not like that. It's just a vampire thing, I guess. We see something
we want we take it. Simple as that. 'S what Angelus taught me.
You gotta claim something if you don't want some other vampire
to come along and take it off you. Makes you my responsibility,
makes it so anything would have hell to pay if it even thought
about lookin' at you sideways."
cocked his head to the side. In the cold void of his mind he could
admit that didn't make no sense. "So, you own me because
you don't want anyone else to have me," he said eventually.
just looked at him. "No one else gets to have you, Pet,"
he said fiercely.
like he might say something else, but Xander had one more question.
One thing that could still make it all alright. "Do you love
blinked in shock and took a step backwards, his mouth opening,
but no sound coming out.
gave it a full thirty seconds, counting along inside his head,
before his heart shut down. And once again Spike reacted a second
too late. "Of course I do. You know that. How could you even
have an answer for that. Didn't really believe it. Didn't know
if that should be breaking his heart or not.
a second later it all became obsolete anyway.
cell phone rang. Spike turned away from him to pick it up. The
conversation was brief, Xander watching impassively as Spike went
from to irritated to concerned to frantic in the space of less
than a minute. Hearing the words 'thirty-third street', 'church',
'be right there'.
coming back to himself with an almost physical shock as the pain
seemed to lash through his soul. Buffy, screaming for Willow,
Willow, screaming for Giles and all of them so afraid.
he gasped out, spinning and racing for the door, pausing only
long enough to open the hall closet, fumbling blindly for his
sword, no thought but the need to get there, to be with them.
hand on his arm didn't even register at first. In retrospect he
thought there might have been words. It was only when Spike hauled
him up and slammed him into the wall for the second time that
night that he came back to himself enough to really see the other
was glaring at him furiously. "Where the hell do you think
Buffy, they're in trouble," he bit out. "Let go of my
arm, I need to leave." He pulled at his arm futilely.
growled at him. "Have you not heard a bloody word I've said
tonight? I'm not letting you go out there. You can't protect yourself
and I won't be able to stay by your side the whole time."
go of my fucking arm, Spike!" he exclaimed harshly.
no. You have to understand, I can't lose you. Not to something
like that. Please, Pet, please, you have to stay here. I'll protect
them. You know I will. I would never do anything to hurt you."
sounded so desperate. Any other time, any other situation, Xander
knew he would have given in. He wanted to give in. Spike
was right. He couldn't protect himself. He knew he needed Spike
to look out for him.
Willow, Buffy, Giles, they were pieces of his soul. And if there
was one thing that he would never forget, one thing that would
always be more important than any partner, any friend or any lover,
it was the ties that bound them, the promise that they'd made;
they would always fight beside each other and if it came to that,
they'd die together.
looked into the eyes of the vampire who might have loved him and
said, "No. Not this time. You can't keep me here, Spike."
grip loosened, even as his eyes filled with pain and Xander felt
his heart break a little more at that look, felt the almost overwhelming
desire to just give in. He opened his mouth, an apology on his
lips, his eyes begging for understanding.
Spike tensed, stepped back. "I'm sorry, Luv," he said.
with inhuman speed and calculated force his fist swung back, forward,
the last thing Xander saw as the world faded to black was broken
blue eyes stepping forward to catch him.
His eyes fluttered open before his mind managed to catch up with
what was going on. Enough time for him to recognise that he was
in the bedroom, on the bed, lying on his back fully clothed with
the doona covering him from the waist down. The door was open
and there was a light on in the living room, bouncing strange
shadows off the mirror opposite the bed. His head hurt, like he'd
been unconscious and his jaw ached, like it was ...
he was sitting up, flinging the covers to the ground and before
he really had time to think about it standing by his couch, staring
at the LED on the VCR. Twenty minutes, it had been twenty minutes.
His mind went inwards, searching for something, anything, and
there, the tug in his soul, weak, but alive and thank god he wasn't
out of time yet.
the room a final cursory glance he picked up the axe that was
still exactly where he had dropped it and without a second thought
opened the door and raced out into the night.
His eyes wouldn't open this time. He'd tried, but the effort was
too much, and there was a little corner of his mind that was warning
him that he didn't want to wake up anyway, not with the beating
let himself drift, paying the voices and the noises and the soft
rustles of movent no mind. But suddenly his mind drifted to Buffy
and Willow and the light flared behind his eyes as his heart sped
up and he needed to get his eyes open now, damnit. Pain
flared along his ribs, his legs, concentrated in his neck and
flashed like lightening into his brain and for a second it almost
dragged him under, but then his eyes opened, thank fuck,
and he could see. He couldn't do more than gasp when he tried
to sit up, the air trying to tear itself from his lungs, because
he needed to find them, needed to go, now.
were hands holding him down, strong, cool fingers digging into
his shoulder and he was frantic, so desperate he barely heard
the, "Xander, Xander, calm down, you're alright now, we've
head veered around and he stopped. Just stopped, frozen, before
slumping in relief. "Buffy, oh god, Buffy, thank god you're
went to get a coffee. We're fine Xan," she said quietly,
running her fingers over his face, lightly over a spot on his
shaking as he lay back down. "What about Giles? Dawnie? Is
sighed and his gut clenched. "Yeah, well, Giles is just down
the hall." He realised suddenly that they were in a hospital.
"He was hurt pretty bad, magical backlash, but Willow says
he'll be okay. Dawnie's fine, you got her out before anything
could happen. Anything worse, anyway. Kennedy should pull through.
Will's been sitting with her, you know, when she isn't in here
or with Giles."
his eyes for a moment and waited for the relief to wash over him.
It felt like it was taking all of his energy with it and it was
harder than it should have been to open them again. He shook his
head, trying to focus, but Buffy was fading in and out. "What
happened? What were those things?" he muttered, but suddenly
the room was full of people and he was tired, so tired and falling
into the darkness and remembering ...
Running out of the building and there was a cab waiting. Snapping
off the address 'thirty-third street church'. Then minutes, fifteen,
longer, shorter and all he knew, all he could hear, feel, was
the strings around his heart thrumming with fear and pain and
yelling, screaming at him to hurry.
eyes staring at him from the rear view mirror. Bouncing the handle
of his axe on his knee. Tires squealing into the distance and
blending into the screaming coming from behind the two solid oak
doors that marked the entrance to the church.
paused then, he remembered, a second for his mind to weigh the
options; front door, side door, surprise, recon, numbers, good
guys, bad guys. And his feet were taking him around to the rectory,
past the corpses; demons, which meant he wasn't the first to come
this way and he just followed the blood 'til it took him through
a door by the altar and showed him, let him see ...
the first thing he'd thought had been, 'fuck'. It was a big church,
old fashioned, one of those high ceilings, big columns, stained-glass
windows numbers. Like the sort they'd had in England. And in the
centre, amid broken stone and scattered pews there was a hole.
He'd always reckoned a black hole would look kinda like that.
Except this one wasn't sucking anything into it.
crowded the corners, pulsing and straining and watching...
and fuck but shadows shouldn't be allowed to do that.
it all in. Willow, standing behind the altar, chanting, glowing,
light pushing at darkness. Giles, beside her. Buffy, Kennedy,
front line, fighting the .... the things that were pulling
themselves out of that hole, horrible, bent, gnarled and clawed,
slow and huge, going down but still pushing forward. Wesley,
Gunn, Dawn, second rank. Two vampires on the floor, out for the
Willow had known it the second he stepped inside. He heard the
words inside his head. 'I'm nearly ready.'
Buffy, 'Xander, get them out, now!'
forward, keeping low, as Buffy and Kennedy stepped up the attack,
buying them time. "Dawn, Wes, Gunn, Buffy says out, now.
Now!" As the two men had hesitated, Dawnie just nodding and
motioning them to pick up an unconscious vampire each.
followed them, last out, paused as one of the demons got through,
parried, thrust, ducked under it's guard and buried his axe in
its neck, wrenching free with heave and a solid boot to its chest.
it had been so easy, so natural. Strength and skill and for an
instant he'd looked at Buffy, known he could never be that good,
that effortless, but known deeper that he could do this.
he'd remembered fighting, patrolling, making a difference over
and over again. Remembered winning, taking down the vamps,
by himself, with the guys, with his only human hands. Remembered
loving it. And remembered giving it up, without an argument, without
trying to make it safer for him, easier for Sp--him, without a
second thought, because ... because he'd been told to.
for a second everything that had made so much sense twenty-four
hours ago made no sense at all. Why had he given in without a
fight? Why had he let Spike convince him he couldn't do this,
couldn't fight, needed to be protected? Why had he believed it?
hadn't been time then. He'd turned, ducked through the door, seen
the vampires were coming around, holding their heads, hunched,
breathless, but standing, which meant it was time to leave.
been going to leave. He could hear Willow in his head telling
him to get out, they'd be right behind him, told the others and
watched as they hesitated only a moment before nodding, turning
and making their way outside, leaving just him and his vampire.
then, he was ready to leave, wouldn't have waited, but suddenly
it came again, the tearing in his soul, a sudden spike of fear,
desperation and he knew that Buffy was down and Willow and Giles
weren't going to make it in time.
moved. There was no decision, no doubt, no time. No time for the
hand on his arm and the desperate, "No, Luv, you can't go
back in there." And no time to argue with the corner of his
soul that he now understood Spike owned, owned completely. That
Xander had given him and he in turn had taken and used and twisted
to make Xander what he wanted.
time to know it, but no time to feel it, so it was with no sense
of irony, no sense of anything, really, that with brutal force
his fist had swung back, forward, and connected.
gone down, and Xander hadn't waited to see if he'd get up.
after that was a blur of light and shadows. Flashes of illumination;
Kennedy standing over an unmoving Buffy, drenched in blood, falling,
failing, but up again in a burst of light; Willow standing, head
thrown back, glowing, the light around her getting brighter, painful,
expanding; Giles, chanting fiercely, glancing at the demon getting
closer, lumbering around an already frantic Kennedy, stretching
its claws out and stopping suddenly as Xander's axe cleaved it's
head as easily as a buzz-saw through a plank of wood.
he might have grinned then, just once for Giles, thought he might
have heard himself laughing as he swung his weapon and stepped
up beside Kennedy, but he hoped even he wasn't that freaking insane,
so maybe not.
of the blows didn't register, really. The claws raking over his
leg, the powerful fist that glanced off his shoulder as he ducked
too late, the jarring pain as his axe connected again and again.
They weren't really important. He was used to getting hurt, knew
when to worry and when not, and knew anyway that if he didn't
keep standing for the next thirty seconds that his friends would
die. All the family he had left in the world would lie bleeding
on the flagstones of this crumbling church while the shadows devoured
their souls and the demons picked over their corpses. There was
nothing more important than that. They'd have to cut his
legs out from under him before he stopped fighting.
the light washing over him, was aware of the shadows screaming,
falling back into the hole they'd crawled out of, of the demons
retreating, uncertain, now their masters were gone, knew that
the portal was closing, that they'd done it, they'd won. And it
was because of that he could remember so clearly the talon that
lashed out, even as Kennedy skewered its owner's bulk, and buried
itself in his chest, wrenching down as the creature fell to the
floor. He'd watched as it had torn a hole from his shoulder to
his heart before slipping out. Remembered the way the blood had
welled up, spurting in time with his heartbeat, drops of red on
his fingers, on his lips, his life dripping away to pool on the
fallen, gasping. Had lain on the floor, dying, alone, wanting
to cry out. And then he'd been there. Spike. Kneeling at
his side. There had been tears in his eyes. Xander remembered
that. His hands had been frantic, pulling and pressing and covered
he remembered. "God, Xan, what have you done? You fucking
idiot, what have you done?" He'd known then, now when
it was probably too late. Maybe Spike had seen something in his
eyes. Hell, maybe it had been some freaky vampire death sensing
thing, but he'd cried out, "No! You are not going to fucking
die like this, you bloody moron! I won't lose you like this! I'll
... I can turn you. Keep you with me. We'll work it out, get you
your soul, maybe." He hadn't even been looking him at that
point. Xander tried to shake his head, tried to say no, that wasn't
what he wanted, that Willow could fix him, could save him, but
Spike wasn't hearing it. "It'll only hurt for a minute, Luv."
never forget the face of the man he loved as it twisted, contorted,
stayed exactly the same, and lowered to his neck to sink fangs
into his flesh. Xander had felt his heart slow, his breaths shorten,
struggled with all the strength he had left.
nothing, as the body was ripped away and his eyes slipped shut,
leaving him nowhere to go but the darkness.
The pain in his neck was loud, throbbing, calling attention to
itself like an accusation or a warning and although he screwed
his eyes shut and tried to block it out, his body was one of those
things that he just couldn't run away from, no matter how hard
run from his thoughts, either, but at least he was better at ignoring
them. And the soft murmur of voices promised to distract him,
at least for while, so he opened his eyes.
dark in the room now, just the faint lights from the corridor.
It hadn't registered earlier, but the venetian blinds were still
opened far enough that he could see the lights of the city glittering
outside his window. At his soft sigh, the voices fell silent,
and he turned his head to see Wes and Giles getting up from mismatched
chairs at the end of the bed. Looking around, he could see that
he'd been put in a single room.
what little he could see, Giles looked like crap. Tired, old,
and he'd never really thought of Giles like that. Giles turned
slightly and the light passed over haggard features and a smile
that was typically British, in that you could only see the relief
and the pleasure with years of practice. Xander smiled back, raising
his eyebrows slightly, grinning when Giles did that little self-deprecating
mouth thing that at once dismissed his appearance and scolded
Xander for drawing attention to it.
his eyes over to Wes, who was looking just as relieved as Giles,
moved closer, sitting lightly on the side of the bed. "Xander,
you're awake at last. How are you feeling?"
went to shrug, stopped when the movement jarred something in his
shoulder and sent little stabbing pains through his neck. He couldn't
stop the sharp intake of breath, grimacing wryly. "Not too
bad, I guess. Except for all the excruciating pain, but hey, still
alive, right? No, really, right? Not dying of some internal bleeding
thing or something?"
smiled and patted his hand. "No, Xander, you'll be fine.
You took quite the beating, and there was a fair amount of ...
blood loss, but nothing you won't recover from." Xander caught
the hesitation over 'blood loss'. So Giles knew what had happened.
Of course he'd know, he was there, after all. But Xander didn't
want to talk about that. Not yet. Not before he could figure out
what it meant. So he nodded and glanced down. He could feel Giles
watching him, waiting. Heard him sigh, finally, and looked back
up. "Thank you, Xander."
surprised. Not what he'd been expecting. "For what?"
snorted a little, affectionately. "For saving our lives.
It was exceptionally foolish of you to go rushing in there like
that, but had you hesitated we would all be dead right now."
blinked, then chuckled. "Hey, you know me, King of the distracting
pummel. At least I'm learning to pummel back. That's a step in
the right direction."
gave him a wry smirk. "Indeed. And may I say, a much more
effective method of distraction it is."
just raised his eyebrows and grinned. "So, Buffy said everyone's
okay. I didn't dream that, right? We're all dancing merrily along
the road to recovery? 'Cause no offence, Giles, but you look like
shit. Should you even be out of bed? Last I saw you were busy
making the floor your new best friend."
no offence taken, of course." Giles was giving him the exasperated
look. Gee, he'd missed that look. As per expectation he put on
his innocent face. Giles maintained the look for longer than Xander
would have given him credit for, smirking reluctantly before becoming
serious again. "No, you didn't dream that. Yes, everyone
will be fine. But you were unconscious for nearly three days,
Xander. You woke up only this afternoon. We have been very worried
Three days? Wow, no wonder the Buffster was up and about."
..." Giles hesitated, glanced at Wesley. Xander felt his
stomach clench, couldn't say anything. "Xander, we were wondering,
that is ..." The glasses came off as he looked down. Wes
wanted to ask you about Spike," he said plainly. Xander looked
away, down, anywhere but at the two men patiently waiting for
him to say something. Eventually he just took a deep breath, let
go of the life preserver and looked up.
"Sure, what'd you want to know?" Cheerfully, carelessly,
which made Giles look up sharply and pin him with a suspicious
gaze. His smile wanted to crack, but he persevered.
for a start, why didn't you arrive at the church with Spike? We
know you were there when Angel called. He asked for you specifically."
Angel had asked for him? Wanted him to come? Spike hadn't said.
Then again, it had been a pretty short conversation and what with
being all distracted by the crisis, maybe Spike just hadn't heard.
"Spike said he could take care of it. He ... he asked me
not to come."
was looking at him. Just looking; like he could be all psychic
and see all the things Xander wasn't saying. Hell, maybe he could.
Being all watchery and looking at his ... body language and stuff.
"I see. You didn't care that you could feel we were in trouble?"
looked up sharply at the harsh tone. "What!? No! Of course
I cared! I was running out the door the second I heard you! I
got there as fast as I damn well could, Giles. I just got, you
delayed! You know, that thing that people get when they live in
a big city with lots of traffic and stuff? I'm sorry I was late,
but at least I was there!"
did this delay have anything to do with the fact that you were
unconscious for about twenty minutes right after Willow opened
the link, Xander?" Giles had moved away, was looking at him
like he was some sort of abused wife that couldn't admit anything
was wrong. "Did it have anything to do with the bruise on
your jaw that the doctors reliably informed us was about an hour
older than all your other injuries?"
winced and looked down, running a hand through his hair. It hadn't
occurred to him they might have felt that. So, they knew everything
then. He wondered if they knew what to do about it. Preferably
something that didn't involve telling Spike to stay the hell away
from him. Knowing Buffy and Giles, probably not.
was, he wasn't entirely sure they'd be wrong.
sighed. "Xander, I'm sorry. When I learned about you and
Spike the other week I was honestly going to try to be supportive,
but I'm not sure I can do that anymore. And it's not just this.
We're almost certain Spike has been controlling you somehow. Granted,
not to harm you, but I'm not sure that makes it any better."
looked up, broken and trying not to be, but he knew Giles would
be able to see it. "Giles, it ... he didn't mean to. I don't
think .... He just wanted to keep me safe ..."
an excuse and he knew it. He didn't want to believe Spike could
do something like that, but it was too late to pretend there was
nothing there. Giles was right, whatever Spike had done to him,
it had made all the doubts, the need to help people, just disappear.
He hadn't worried about it, hadn't thought about it at all, most
of the time.
four nights ago his friends had almost died because of Spike's
fear, his arrogance and yes, his love. He supposed that was why
he'd been able to break out of it. There was no way Spike's little
mind tricks would ever stand up against the onslaught of the Scooby
bond and Willow's magic.
had held him, laughed with him, loved him ... Controlled
him, looked down on him from his vampy pedestal, kept him from
the people he loved, from anyone, really, from the sun, put him
in a little box to protect him because he was only human and couldn't
be trusted to protect himself ... Could go in and play with his
mind, even without fucking meaning to, hurt him, bruise
him with a careless grip. And then four nights ago Spike had hit
him, deliberately knocked him unconscious and for an encore sank
fangs into his neck and tried to kill him.
he loved him and wanted to keep him safe.
closed his eyes on the tears, spoke softly. "Where is he?"
matched his tone. "Xander ..." Torn, hopeless.
his eyes. "I know ... Giles, I ... I know, alright. Just
.... where is he."
upstairs," Wesley broke in. "We're in the medical ward
at Wolfram and Hart at the moment. He's been pacing Angel's office
for the past three days. Buffy wouldn't, couldn't stake him. She
tore him off you before he could drain you completely. Willow
kept you alive until the ambulance arrived. But .... she wouldn't
let him see you. A stance none of us could much fault. Xander,
Spike tried to kill you, are you certain this is advisable?"
let out a despairing sort of huff. "He doesn't want me dead,
Wes. You know that."
frowned, but relented. "Yes, I suppose you are right about
that. Will you consent to having Willow or Buffy in the room,
then, while he is here?"
only hesitated for a moment. "Yeah, sure, Wes." He wasn't
sure it was such a bad idea anyway. "They can stand just
outside, alright?" It broke his heart that they were talking
like this. Talking about Spike like this. Like he was some
criminal and Xander was the victim about to come face to face
with his tormenter. It broke his heart that he didn't have the
strength to argue.
lay there as Giles and Wesley left, Giles giving him a final pat
on the arm, not saying anything. They both knew he couldn't say
what Xander wanted to hear; that he would support him no matter
what he decided to do. Xander was just as glad he let it be.
on the light and sat up as much as he was able, then suddenly
he could hear hurried footsteps in the hall; heavy, thudding boots
and two lighter treads. And he screwed it all up, everything he
was feeling, thinking, that was screaming to be let out,
and buried it. Shovelled blank thoughts and meaningless memories
over them, just in time to turn empty eyes to the black-clad figure
bursting into his room.
it was almost too much. Just that and his carefully built walls
were already threatening to collapse.
Spike looked terrible. It occurred to Xander that he really must
have been pacing Angel's office for the last three days. Literally.
The duster was gone, there were weird greenish stains on the shirt
and jeans. Demon blood from the other night, apparently. Xander
wondered if there were still reddish stains on the dark Material,
too, but cut off that train of thought. His hair was 'sticking
up in messy little gel-filled clumps...' as bad as Xander
had ever seen it get. His fingers clenched with urge to run through
it, to make little spikes and smooth it out, to feel Spike move
his head into the pressure and smile unconsciously.
his eyes looked just as broken as Xander felt.
... Oh, God, Xan. Thank God you're all right. They wouldn't let
me see you."
Spike was holding him, kissing him and for a moment it all just
fell away, before his body cried out at the abuse and he wrenched
away with a gasp of pain.
pulled away immediately. "Sorry, Luv."
shrugged, tried to smile. "Hey, Spike." Had to look
just smiled back. That beautiful turn of his lips that Xander
knew made his eyes sparkle. The William smile. God, but he loved
that smile. Spike leaned in to kiss him and he couldn't stop it.
Didn't want to stop it, wanted to freeze this moment so that all
the ones that happened after it would never have to happen. Spike
pressed harder, brought his hand up to grasp Xander's chin. It
was like ice. Flashing through his brain and sitting heavy in
his stomach and Xander winced and pulled away with a jerk.
his eyes opened, Spike was regarding his chin with a rueful expression,
his hand hovering just over the skin. Xander had to stop himself
from flinching away.
the shiner, eh, Luv?" he chuckled. "Sorry about that.
Though you must have quite the thick hide there. Didn't think
you'd be up and about so soon. Which was right reckless of you,
come to mention it. Can't have you doing anything like that again.
Still, long as you're alright, this time--"
Xander interrupted, the ice spreading into something like incredulity.
"Spike, look, we have to talk." The smile fell from
Spike's face as confusion bled into his eyes. For a moment Xander
was really fucking happy that that little cliché existed.
He didn't know if he could do this with Spike smiling at him.
what, Luv?" he said, perching on the side of the bed.
what happened," Xander frowned. "You don't think maybe
that merits a little discussion?"
looked at him oddly, seemed kind of annoyed at the question. "Look,
Pet, I'm sorry I hit you, but I didn't want you getting hurt."
what?" Xander's eyebrows climbed his forehead, shocked.
narrowed his eyes. Almost glared. "You could have been killed,
Xander. I wasn't going to let you get hurt."
was rendered momentarily speechless. God, since when was Spike
this fucking stupid? "You didn't want me getting hurt?"
he exclaimed. "And getting punched in the face was a walk
in the goddamned park?"
started to interrupt, but Xander could see the defensive retort
on his lips and knew in a flash that he did not want to hear it.
Spike would listen to this, damnit.
hurt me all the time, Spike," he glared. "That's the
point. I know you don't mean to. I know, alright! You're a vampire,
super strength and all. But for someone who isn't allowed to go
out and fight the monsters anymore, I've got a whole damn lot
of bruises marring this lovely skin of mine."
heard you complaining too much before now, Pet," Spike commented
snidely, moving away a little.
narrowed his eyes and tried to sit up, not allowing the flash
of pain show on his face. "And if it was just that, then
yeah, I'd get over it and move on. It's not like my life hasn't
been full of cuts and bruises for as long as I can remember,"
he sneered sardonically. "But it's not just that, Spike.
You ... you act like I'm some ... thing, that you own.
You say it's not like that, but what the hell am I supposed to
think? You won't let me patrol, you barely even let me out on
my own. How are we ever supposed to have any sort of relationship
if you're always in control and I'm like some kid you have to
watch over every fucking second of the day so they don't fall
over and scrape their knees? Fuck, you rolled my mind, Spike ..."
Xander could feel himself breathing heavily, the blood pounding
through his neck, sharp little points of pain, but it didn't matter.
This had been a long time coming.
was standing now, glaring down at him. "I didn't bloody well
know that, did I Xan!" he shouted. "I didn't even know
I could do that! Besides, you're the one who drank my fucking
what, you just figured I was being a good little boy and doing
what I was told?" Xander yelled right back.
thought you understood! How the fuck was I supposed to know about
that? I'm sorry, alright? I'm really fucking sorry, but can't
you damn well understand that I didn't do that deliberately?"
you just accidentally went and controlled my mind. Wow! And what
if it happens again? What happens when you do decide to do it
deliberately, Spike? How the hell do you think it makes me feel
to know that one wrong step and you'll have me twisted around
your little finger?" He stared at Spike, more desperate now
for the other man to just explain himself, to say... something...
that would make all this better, would make it all just go away.
jerked back like he'd been slapped. "Is that what you believe,
Xan?" he said softly, incredulously. "My God, is that
how much you trust me?"
winced and dropped his head, the anger draining out of him, and
all it left him was tired and hurting. "No. No, I guess not.
I'm just ... I want to believe you so damn much and I'm ... I'm
just not sure how much I trust myself."
stared at him, his eyes intense. "All I ever wanted was to
protect you, Pet. You're so fragile. For years I've watched you,
when we went patrolling, seen you coming home with bumps and bruises,
barely getting away with limbs all intact. And for years I didn't
care. Hell, you know what we were like back then, Luv. But that
changed. And I hate it, Xan. Hate knowing that someday I might
be too slow, you might not see some blow coming and I'd lose you.
God, Pet, it was like a knife in my bloody gut every time I thought
of it. I couldn't do it, couldn't let you go out there when you
couldn't protect yourself."
it made sense. God help him, but it made so damn much sense. How
often had he sat waiting at home for the day Spike got caught
unawares, for the phone call that told him to come and pick up
his pile of dust, for the day when Spike just never came home
at all? How much would he have loved to say to Spike his work
was too dangerous and he wasn't going to allow it? How often had
he wanted to pick up his axe and never let Spike face his demons
more to the point, how many times had he actually done it? Ignored
what Spike wanted and needed and forced him to do what kept him
safe instead? He knew he could have, with threats and pleas if
not with direct violence. But he hadn't, 'cause Spike was a vampire
with a soul and a conscience and there were some things he needed
again he found himself wanting to cave. Even more than the last
time. But it was too late and there was just too much and maybe
they could work it out and everything would turn out for the best,
but not right now. Once again he'd lied to himself and his partner
and hoped the truth would just go away. Right now it was time
to fix that.
ignored the tears in his eyes and said as firmly as he could,
"I can, you know, Spike. I know I'm no vampire. I don't have
slayer strength or witchy powers, but I can protect myself from
the demon monsters and the human monsters better than most people
will ever be able to." He stopped, looked at Spike's unreadable
face. Took a deep breath and prepared to finish it. "But
I can't protect myself from you. I love you, you know. I love
you so much it hurts, Spike. I realised it, in the church. All
the things you did, do ... and all I could think was you were
doing it for me, only ever for me. I know you never meant to hurt
me. But you do, you can, and you can't seem to stop yourself.
I'm only human, you said it yourself. And I can't take it, anymore.
I can't live like that, locked away in your little cage. I won't.
I deserve better."
had backed away. Was looking at him with something like fear,
Xander thought. "I could never hurt you, Xan. I love you."
sighed, looked the man straight in the eye and said, "Maybe
you wouldn't. But you could. I love you too, but Spike, you could
snap my neck faster than I could open my mouth and ask you to
stop. You proved that much in that church."
was silent for so long, Xander wondered if he was just going to
walk out then and there. When he did speak, Xander had to strain
to hear. "When I bit you. Xan, I'm so sorry about that. I
never meant ... I thought you were dying. Hell, you were
dying, Pet. I could hear your heart slowing down. I just ... I
couldn't lose you, not when I was able to save you."
were so many little things, but this, this was the heart of it.
The one thing he just couldn't get his mind around. "Spike,
you ... you were going to kill me. And I know that shouldn't be
a big deal considering my past relationships and all, but fuck,
I ... I don't know how to make that okay."
stared at him, horrified. "Kill ...? Xander, no, I wasn't
going to kill you. Bloody hell, is that what you think?"
Xander looked up to see him running a hand through his hair.
stuck your fangs in me and tried to drain me, Spike. You were
going to turn me. What else would you call it?"
call it saving your life, Luv! Yeah, I was going to turn you,
make you a vampire. Like me, remember? You were bleeding out your
life in front of me. What the hell did you expect me to do, just
sit there and watch you die?! Don't you bloody get that I can't
do that! I love you, you flamin' moron. And I am not going to
stand by while you give up the bleeding ghost!"
had tears in his eyes. Like when he'd found out they'd brought
back the love of his life without bothering to tell him. It broke
his heart, but it didn't change anything. "I'm gonna die,
Spike," Xander responded harshly. "One day. I'm human,
remember? No extended shelf life for me. No matter how hard you
try to protect me, I'm still gonna kick that bucket in the end.
It's just the way it is."
the way it has to be, though, is it?" Spike responded desperately.
"Why the fuck would it be so bad, Xan? I would stay with
fumbled to a stop. Spike wanted him forever? He couldn't ... he
couldn't even imagine it. How did you love someone forever? It
all fell apart sooner or later, that was just the way of the world.
No matter how much it felt like looking into eternity at the beginning,
things were always going to happen, get in the way, and life would
rear its ugly head and fuck your perfect world all to high hell.
even if they lasted a hundred years, longer, what then? He didn't
want to be a vampire. Didn't want to lose his soul. And so maybe
Willow cursed him, in what possible way was that going to make
everything better? He could be with the man he loved for as long
as possible, just so long as he never wanted to risk being happy?
And what about the rest of it? Having to suppress the urge to
kill his friends; drinking blood; never being able to go
out into the sun ... Okay, sure, if it happened, he'd deal with
it, but he'd seen too much the past decade to want it.
that really what you want?" Xander had to know.
screwed his eyes shut for a moment, like he was trying to hold
himself together. Xander shivered under the intensity of his gaze
when he opened them again and took a tiny step forward. "I
want you, Xan. That's all. However bloody strange it is to hear
myself saying that, it's true, Luv. I feel like I've loved you
forever. Since you walked out of my life a century and a half
ago. I can't imagine not having you there. The thought that I
could lose you ... it scares the unliving shit out of me."
were silent for a long while then. Xander thought he could see
the light go out Spike's face. He knew there was none left in
his own. "Yeah," he said eventually, no longer quite
sure what he was agreeing with. "Yeah, I know." And
he thought maybe he did. Spike had said Xander belonged to him,
but he was starting to think it was possible that he had just
as much invested in Spike as Spike did in him. It had only really
been two months, but coming back from Africa, back to Spike ...
it had felt like coming home. Easy. Right. And even when
everything was so fucked up, when it'd felt like they were falling
further and further away from each other, he hadn't made himself
face up to any of it because he hadn't been able to imagine any
longer what it would be like to live without Spike.
thing was, he was starting to think that maybe now ... now he
I ... I'm sorry. I love you, I do, but I need some time, please
..." Spike's face went blank, then, dead, and Xander's stomach
turned to lead as the wind rushed through his head and horrified
tears sprang up behind his eyes. God, but he wanted to take it
back, fuck he needed to take it back and he was such a fucking
coward ... His head screamed and his mouth wouldn't form the words.
bumped into one of the visitors chairs as he moved away, back.
And Xander wanted to open his mouth, to say something,
'cause that wasn't even Spike, anymore. It was clumsy and stiff
and broken and when it spoke it was empty, eggshells broken underfoot
and nothing left but the pain. "I wish you'd told me some
of this earlier, you know? I could have done things differently.
You could have at least given me a chance to explain. It's Anya
all over again, isn't it? You keep it all bottled up inside until
it's too late and destroy what could have been ... You should
have given me a chance, Xan. I am what I am, and I know that I
fucked things up, but it didn't have to be like this. I just ...
it didn't have to be like this."
He watched as Spike waited, watched as he turned and watched for
the eternity it took him to cross the floor, saw his shoulders
slump as his hand touched the handle, listened as he fumbled open
the door and shut his eyes so he wouldn't have to know that he
never once looked back as he found the corridor and walked away,
his footsteps echoing long after the silence fell.
Angel shuffled into the elevator as it opened onto the car pool,
rolling his neck and staring blankly at the panel for a moment
while his brain played catch up.
spent the past few days cleaning up after the demons that had
opened the portal in that church, hunting down what was left of
the little society that had planned on raising whatever hell-beastly
demonic thing had been next on the list of things to bring down
before they brought about the apocalypse. He was just glad they'd
nipped it in the bud this time, relatively speaking. Buffy, Gunn,
Wes, even Willow had gone with him when they could, researching
back in the office to find out where the rest of the fuckers were
holed up when he put his foot down and insisted they needed a
didn't like to leave Xander alone, anyway.
his eyes wearily at that thought and snorted as he marvelled at
just how well and truly Spike had managed to fuck up this time.
Not that he was all that surprised.
had been holed up in his office for days now. Pacing and muttering
to himself and demanding that he be allowed to see Xander, asking
every five god damn minutes for updates, cursing the slayer and
the witch and whoever else happened to be in the room. After the
first twenty-four hours he just hadn't bothered going back in
there. Used Wes's office for meetings, or at least those he couldn't
cancel, and made himself scare the rest of the time.
he was just standing in the elevator, he opened his eyes and reached
out to push the button to take him to his apartment. All he wanted
right now was a shower, some blood and at least six hours of uninterrupted
sleep. But it seemed he couldn't do it. "Fuck," he grimaced.
"God damn stupid idiot boy. I don't care. Serves the moron
right." He considered knocking his head against the wall
'till he fell unconscious, decided that was more trouble than
he was prepared to go to right at this moment, cursed himself
for a fucking soft-hearted vampire and pressed the button for
out the ride, trying to think peaceful happy thoughts, or at least
trying not to think violent homicidal thoughts, which was generally
as close as he ever got when it came to Spike. The doors opened,
he squared his shoulders, put on his best don't-fuck-with-me-boy
expression, and stepped out, prepared to face the latest little
frowned. Spike was sitting on the back of the couch staring out
the windows. Angel was used to the whole preternatural stillness
bit, used it himself all the time, but not from Spike. The lights
were off, the doors closed and if he hadn't been a vampire and
actually looking for it, he might not have even noticed
Spike was there.
was ... not what he'd been expecting. Harmony had been keeping
him updated and the last she'd reported Spike was still tearing
around the office trying to find an outlet for his frustration.
There was only one thing that could have changed, then. And if
that was the case, where was the drinking, the swearing, the breaking
glass bottles over heavy objects?
he started. Spike didn't move, didn't seem to have heard him,
and he moved further into the room, trying to fight back a wave
of honest concern.
"'Lo, Mate. You alright there?" Angel's feet moved him
over to the window, but he wasn't paying them much mind. Spike's
voice echoed through his thoughts. Soft ... empty. No antagonism,
no snark, not even concern, just ... nothing.
what the hell are you doing there?"
snorted, tilted his head to peer at Angel sideways. "No idea,
Mate. Lookin' at all the pretty lights. Thinkin' about how shit
my life has been since I hooked up with you bloody do-gooders.
Workin' up the enthusiasm to go out an' get good and hammered,
mostly. I'm thinking give it a couple of minutes, should be out
of your hair soon enough."
took a step closer in spite of himself. He'd promised himself
he wasn't going to get involved in this. Course, that hadn't stopped
him from trying to find out what was happening with Harris, why
he suddenly dropped practically off the map. And it hadn't stopped
him needling Spike about it every time they went patrolling together.
Xander might be a pain in the ass, but he still qualified as one
of the good guys, which meant Angel had to look out for him, no
matter what he thought of him personally.
to think of it, if he was going to get himself involved, he should
be going down to visit the boy, not standing here about to actually
try to have a conversation with Spike. Sure he could understand
why, but Spike had tried to kill Xander, had hit him, too, according
to the doctors, which meant that technically the other man was
about due for a good staking.
when it came right down to it, Spike was ... family, and there
sure as hell wasn't going to be anyone else looking out for him,
let alone any one who might come anywhere near understanding.
the headache forming behind his eyes and lowered himself into
the couch with a sigh. To his surprise, Spike actually turned
around and this time did look concerned. "You sure you're
alright there? Smell like you've been paddling around in slime.
And you're bleeding."
waved it off. "More demons than I'd expected. I took care
of it. It's only a flesh wound. Be closed by tomorrow."
nodded, shrugged. "You want Harmony to get you some blood?"
his head. "Got some upstairs."
was apparently it for the small talk. Angel sat there feeling
increasingly uncomfortable as Spike just went back to staring
out the window, completely unaware of the tension.
he turned so he could at least see most of Spike's face and bit
the bullet. "So, ah, how's Xander then? Have you heard anything?"
miss the way that body immediately tensed up, but probably only
because he was looking for it. "Yeah," Spike said flatly.
"Woke up again 'round nine. Went down to see him just before.
He's all better, apparently." Angel heard the bitterness
there. After a moment he got up and poured both of them a drink
from the whisky he kept stashed in his desk. Spike took it without
comment as they settled beside each other on the couch.
Spike laughed harshly, "how did I even get here? I mean,
for fuck's sake, Xander bloody Harris? What the bleedin' hell
was I thinking?" Angel resisted the urge to add his incredulity.
He had a feeling it probably wouldn't help. Although he still
hadn't quite figured out why he was helping. "He should be
nothing to me. I'm a vampire, not some sodding little nancy
boy to fall head over heels for the first pretty face that looks
at me with a bloody smile. What sodding self respecting vampire
falls for a human in any case? I'm bloody well better off without
smirked and raised an eyebrow at this little temper tantrum. He
resisted the urge to point out that it was this very attitude
that'd got Spike into so much trouble in the first place. "Don't
tell me you got dumped by disaster boy? And here I didn't think
you could get any more pathetic."
immediately pinned him with a glare that had more life in it than
anything he'd seen yet. "Back off, peaches. This is none
of your damn business."
narrowed his eyes slightly. Spike could be an ungrateful bastard
sometimes. Or most of the time. "Oh, so you mean he didn't
toss you to the curb like so much useless waste?"
to field the punch the Spike's growling seemed to indicate was
about to be thrown his way, but Spike just jumped to his feet
and kicked the couch in passing as he started to pace the office.
"Yes, he left me, you ponce. The bastard bloody left
me. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
left because you drove him away, Spike," Angel shrugged.
"You should count yourself lucky you got off as lightly as
you did. You've got no idea how close Buffy came to staking you
in that church."
snorted, hung his head. "'Bout as close as she came to staking
me not two hours ago, I imagine, Mate." Angel knew that that
had to be eating Spike up almost as much as the Xander thing.
Spike and Buffy were hardly the best of friends, but she didn't
seem to hate him as much as Angel might have liked. And he knew
for a fact that Buffy was torn up inside about it. Whatever might
have happened between her and Spike, she'd trusted him. Trusted
him with Xander, which he knew meant more than Spike probably
just shrugged and took a sip of his drink. "Can't say it's
much of a surprise, anyway. Even to you, surely."
Spike seemed startled. "What the hell are you talking about
Mate? 'Course it was a bloody surprise. Things were ... fine."
blinked, watching as Spike shifted uncomfortably. "God, Spike,"
he said incredulously. "Were you even a part of that
relationship? Things were not 'fine'. Things haven't been fine
for a while now, from what I've seen. What the hell did expect
the boy was going to do? Just suck it up and let you lord it over
him for the rest of his life? If you'd wanted that you either
shouldn't have picked a human, or you shouldn't have picked Xander
was starting to look really angry. "I wasn't 'lording it
over' anyone, as you so eloquently put it. I was lookin' out for
him, din't want him getting hurt."
human, Spike," Angel said pointedly. "They get hurt,
they die. Happens all the time"
flinched, looked away. "And, what, I'm supposed to just let
it happen? I'm supposed to want it? Never gonna happen,
shrugged again, leaning back further into the couch, easing his
aching muscles. "You know, Spike, I just have to know. What
is it, exactly, that you find so appealing about him? I mean,
Xander? 'Cause I gotta say, I just don't get it."
flashed him a suspicious glance, but he was careful too keep his
face just mildly interested. "Haven't we had this conversation,
raised an eyebrow. "So remind me. Is it that he reminds you
of Buffy? What?"
snorted. "Yeah, 'cause Xander looks so much like the slayer.
He's nothing like her. For one thing he didn't beat me and use
me for sex," he said wryly.
ignored the flash of jealousy and disturbingly ambiguous anger
and nodded. "Buffy's a champion. A warrior. Xander's just
than all of us bloody combined, Mate," Spike finished softly.
Angel didn't comment, and after a moment Spike went on. "I
ever tell you about that first night when I kissed him? We all
thought we were going to die. Hell, I did. And he ... he was drowning.
Pain and misery and darkness all over him; eating him up, I thought.
I saw him, then, falling apart at the seams and I figured
it was all over for him, it'd just been too much. Happened to
all the rest of them, after all, no surprise the boy was any different.
He knew he was gonna die, I could see it in his face. And you
know what he did? Accepted it. With a bloody smile in his heart
because he knew why he was doing it. They all did, I guess,
but he made me understand. He had nothing, and he fought because
he loved them too much not to. We do this because we have something
to prove, but I think ... I think he just did it 'cause it was
..." Spike fell silent for a moment, then shook his head
as he sank back down into the cushions. "There's no darkness
in him, Angel. Not right down where it counts. I loved that from
the moment I saw it, I think, before we even made the effort to
get to know each other the old fashioned way."
stared at Spike for a long moment. "You're a moron, you know
that, Spike? You're absolutely right. Xander is a white hat. Always
has been. And you took that away from him. I repeat, just what
the hell were you expecting him to do? I'm starting to think he'd
be better off without you." He shook his head. "Just
... what were you thinking?"
let out a tired puff of laughter and rubbed his forehead with
his fingertips. "Hate to say it, but I reckon that might
be givin' me more credit than 'm due. I dunno, Angel. I just ...
I saw him lying there in a pool of his own blood. I heard his
heart stopping, an' I just, I just couldn't do it. I watched Buffy
die, but it was ... it was nothin' even like the same, you know?
I was nothing to her, but Xan ... He's mine. What the bloody
hell gave him the right to die? I wasn't going to let him just
leave me, not like that."
a moment Angel truly sympathised. He knew that Dru had left because
Spike had compromised with Buffy. Hadn't been able to be the vicious
killer Angelus was. Buffy for just the opposite, although he knew
that had as much to do with her as it had to do with Spike. He
tried to be exactly what they wanted him to be, but it was never
you go all Drusilla on him, punch him in the face, which I'm sure
he probably deserved, half-kill him and he leaves you like this
instead. Yet another brilliant plan from the master brains trust.
You come up with that all on you own, Spike?" He didn't bother
to put any antagonism into the words, and when Spike turned to
glare at him just gave him a wry smirk.
responded reluctantly and leaned back, cradling his drink. "Yeah,
well," he sighed. "And hey! Why didn't I know I could
do that mind control thing? You never told me about it. Coulda
saved me a whole lota grief if you'd decided to clue me in on
rolled his eyes. "And just when was supposed to have found
that out, Spike? During that century when I didn't see you more
than a couple of times altogether? Why didn't you know?"
fine, okay, but isn't it like some vamp thing? Never had much
cause to go round feeding me blood to humans." He gave Angel
the eye. "Then, neither've you, I suppose."
was true enough. Angel shrugged, "Wes could probably find
out. Could have something to do with Dru, I guess. After a century
and a bit you were bound to pick up some of her quaint little
nodded, and Angel got the impression he might actually bother
to ask. That made him frown. He knew Spike'd never bothered to
ask Wes about the protection spell for Xander. Maybe ... maybe
this wasn't as hopeless as it looked.
shouldn't have hit him, Angel. I said I never wanted to hurt him
and punched him in the face."
didn't have anything to say to that. He understood, really. He'd
done it himself, knocked one of friends out so they wouldn't follow
him and get hurt. It was for their own good, because he was stronger,
more capable and the battle was his to fight, not
theirs to die in. He'd also been told on more than
one occasion what an arrogant, selfish bastard he was for doing
so. He liked to think maybe he'd gotten the message, that they
had as much right to battle the evil in the world as he did. But
then, he wasn't in love with any of his friends. That probably
tipped the rational thinking scale to the insanely protective
side more than he really had to worry about.
uncomfortably as he tried to find the words that Spike needed
to hear. "Spike ... We're still vampires. No matter how human
we try to be, it's always going to be there inside of us. The
demon. That ... that want, take, have, mine urge that made everything
so simple, so clear. But ..."
off, not sure how to say what he wanted to say. Still, he wasn't
surprised when Spike continued. "But it's not that simple
any more, is it, Mate? It can't be. Xander ... He wasn't not fighting
it, me, 'cause he didn't want to ... He wasn't fighting me 'cause
he couldn't. I ... I didn't let him. I didn't ever give him the
chance. I just ..." Spike's eyes had widened and he was slumped
in his chair looking at the opposite wall with something like
like what you are, Spike." Angel said firmly, mercilessly.
"The problem is you acted like that's what he is, too. I've
done exactly the same thing," he admitted, none to pleased
at having to revisit the memories. "You treat them like they're
less than you because you figure that until and unless they prove
they're not, then that's exactly what they are. It's a vampire
standard, and unless you want to drive them away, like I did once
upon a time to most of the people who loved me, then it's something
that you have to get past. As long as we're like this, as long
as we don't want to live our lives alone and miserable, and let
me say right now that that's not all it's cracked up to me, then
we've got to live by some of their rules. Not all of them, but
... it's got to be different."
that's it?" Spike sounded lost ... broken. "I can be
with him so long as I'm prepared to watch him die?"
stifled his impatience. "No, you can be with him as long
as you're prepared to let him try."
seemed to think about this for a moment, but eventually turned
and gave him a twisted smile. "Assuming he hadn't just dumped
me, in any case. Can't be with him at all, now. That ... God,
that shouldn't hurt so much. It shouldn't ..."
are you going to do?" Angel asked after a long while.
shrugged. "Dunno. Somethin' tells me hittin' him over the
head and dragging him back home is gonna do more harm than good."
tilted his head in agreement. "Chances are."
he wants 'time'. Time," Spike scoffed, staring at his knees
and picking at a thread that had frayed loose in his jeans. "Said
he loves me," he added quietly. "Never said that before,
you know? How can you even tell someone you love them and fuck
off in the same bloody breath? Meant it, too, I think. But ...
there was no light in his eyes."
felt moved to reach and place his hand on Spike's shoulder. Spike
didn't seem to notice and after a moment he took it away. "So
give it some time. This doesn't have to be the en--"
doesn't matter, Angel." Spike interrupted hollowly. "It
doesn't fucking matter. If this is what he wants, then I can bloody
well live without him." He threw back his drink and glared
doggedly at the bottom of the glass.
thought about that for a long moment. He knew he couldn't tell
Spike what to do, but he also knew that anything he said right
now did matter.
about Xander, found himself wondering for the first time in a
long time what the boy actually wanted. Thought about how he and
Spike had come alive around each other, even with everything that
had ended up dragging them down. Thought about everything that
had driven him and Buffy apart, all the reasons why vampires and
humans should stay as far the fuck away from each as other as
universally possible when it came to relationships.
knew that if he had half a chance with her any more, even after
all that'd happened, he would go,he'd chance it; he'd have
was peering up at him, wary of his silence, waiting for ... something.
made a decision, looked his grandchilde in the eye and said, "Spike,
you've got the rest of eternity to live without him."
Six days later they didn't tell him he could leave, but they also
hadn't tied him to the bed and drugged him so he couldn't move,
which, as far as Xander was concerned, was the next best thing
to kicking him out of the hospital and telling him he'd never
be sick again.
walked in on him while he was wondering how he could manage to
put on his pants without bending over. After five minutes, he'd
pretty much resigned himself to much agonising pain for the greater
good. He shrugged, not like it'd be the first time, and at least
this way he was getting something out of it, too.
His head whipped up and he had to resolutely squash the little
bit of himself that wanted to feel guilty when it saw the worry
etched all over Willow's face. He told it firmly that with that
sort of attitude they'd never get out of this damn place. "Xander,
what are you doing? Did the doctors tell you you were allowed
to get up? Are you getting dressed?" The worry didn't disappear,
but it did get covered with a good amount of suspicion and what
looked unfortunately like the beginning of a resolved face. She
overrode him before he could work up a convincing tale. "Xander,
you know you're not strong enough to be up and about yet. I know
you don't like being here, but you nearly died. Until the doctors
let you go, I really think you should just wait."
his arms in preparation for some good old fashioned stubborn-as-a-mule-ishness,
but at the look in Willow's eyes, he hung his head and sighed.
She was right, he didn't want to be here and being Willow she
knew exactly why, for all he'd pretty much refused to talk about
it. And alright, fine, he knew he shouldn't be leaving yet. People
who couldn't put their pants on without considerable pain were
probably people who shouldn't be walking around, but ... "Will,
please, I know you're worried, but I can't stay here. I just can't."
He knew it probably sounded a little too close to begging for
comfort, but by this stage he wasn't entirely sure he cared.
face seemed to cave a little and he felt a flare of hope. "Xander
it's been a week, now," he interrupted before she could just
say no and it would all be over because as much as he wanted to
get out of this place, he wouldn't go if she was that worried
about it. "I know I'm not all better, but look! Standing
without falling down! That's got to worth something, right?"
She grimaced. "Will, please, I'll come stay with you and
Buffy and Dawn, or with Giles, whatever you say. I won't budge
myself from the couch until I'm back to full fighting strength.
I promise you can wait on me hand and foot for as long as it takes,
but please, I have to get out of this place." He knew he
sounded desperate now.
took a step closer and he didn't know whether to be pissed off
or grateful for the sympathy he could see in her eyes. She hesitated.
"He hasn't ... he hasn't been down here to see you again,
has he?" Her face went hard, then, and it almost made him
want to grin, cause on the one hand it was his little Willow and
on the other it was Willow, who could turn just about anyone
into a toad faster than he could blink. "'Cause I swear,
if he's so much as laid a finger on you, that vamp's going to
wish for the good old days of being sucked down into hell."
her a fond smile. "Nah, I haven't seen him. It's just kinda
ooky, thinking about him being here, too." Truth was, every
time the door opened there was a lurch in his gut that he just
couldn't ignore, that was convinced that at any moment Spike was
going to walk in and do ... something. Sometimes he was convinced
he could feel Spike walking around above him. He didn't know if
it made it better or worse that there was a good chance he actually
no idea just what, exactly, he thought he was afraid of. Because
honestly? He wasn't scared of Spike. Really.
maybe it was that voice inside of him that he sometimes had to
spend all his energy ignoring. The one that told him he was being
stupid, that Spike would never hurt him, that Spike only ever
wanted to protect him, that if he just picked up the phone or
turned his thoughts in the right direction, Spike would be here
and everything would be better, everything would be right again.
Because he didn't know where that voice had come from and if he
let himself think about it for too long, he couldn't deny the
fact that he was terrified that it didn't come from him at all.
in any case, he couldn't see how it was so much to ask that he
not have to face the person he'd just broken up with. It'd be
all uncomfortable and polite or there'd be yelling and accusations
and trying to get him to change his mind, or worse not trying
to get him to change his mind and until he could work out just
what all this meant, what he was going to do about any of it,
he just didn't want to have to deal with it.
looked at him intently. "You did the right thing, Xander."
away before she could see the cynical expression on his face and
picked up his shirt. The pants could wait. Shrugging into the
arms and ignoring the burn in his shoulder, he gave himself a
moment to paste a convincingly cheerful grin on his face before
turning back. "Sure, I know. Need a bit of time to wrap my
head around everything. So! We good to go then? I get my pants
on, you go get the piles of paper and we get the heck outta here?"
..." she sighed. He just waited, studiously not clenching
his fists or grabbing a hold of her and pushing her out the door.
After a moment she nodded and he had to sink down onto the bed
the way the tension just drained out of him. "Okay, Xan.
I'll get the doctor and then we'll get you out of here. Give Buffy
a call, tell her we'll be at the house as soon as we can. Probably
a few hours."
nodded as she gave him a final concerned smile and disappeared
to find the doctor. Now that he was finally leaving, he had to
close his eyes to block out the barrage of regrets that suddenly
threatened to swamp him. The awareness of Spike seemed to slam
through him, leaving his fingers clenched in the sheets and tears
leaking from the corners of his eyes. It was like Spike was standing
in the room with him, or they were standing in a room in his head
together and he could see him and smell him and it would be so
easy to just reach out and touch him. The Spike in his head stepped
forward, his hand held out, his heart in his eyes. He looked ...
betrayed. Lost and broken and betrayed and this was why
he couldn't stay here any longer. How could he have done the right
thing if this was what happened as a result? And it was so real.
As much as he wanted to believe it was just his mind tormenting
him for once again being a stupid fucker and screwing up a fantastic
relationship, the doubts simmered under the surface. Partly because
he knew in his heart that everything had been far from perfect
but more because, sometimes, he would swear he could still feel
Spike inside of him. Like when Spike had controlled him. And he
needed to get away from it.
time, when he bent down, the pain in his shoulder was almost a
relief. He grasped onto it like a lifeline, used it to turn his
mind away from the images in his head. He absently glanced out
the window, noticed it was just getting dark, and this time the
pain was all the kept him from laying back down. The only thing
that kept him from giving in to the thought that he shouldn't
be out at night by himself, without Spike, that he could get hurt,
that he wouldn't be able to defend himself if something attacked
him, it was better if he just stayed where he was, he was happy
right here, there was plenty of time to be out and about when
it was safer.
so much more out of him than it should have to just jerk his head
so the pain shot through his neck, his arm, flooded through his
thoughts until they were drowned, buried, gone for now but always
ready to come back.
spent the past six days trying to block them out. Cursing Spike
for doing this to him, for making him give up a part of his mind.
Understanding, in his more reasonable moments that he couldn't
really blame Spike for it, not in a murder one premeditated crime
sort of a way. Still, maybe he hadn't deliberately taken away
his freedom, his choices, but that fact remained that he had done
it. That he'd done it by accident was big with the really not
helping at the moment. Especially seeing as Spike had deliberately
bitten him, hit him, nearly killed him and basically said that
Xander was beneath him but he'd take pity on a poor defenceless
human and look after him anyway.
maybe it hadn't been quite that callous, but Xander had seen the
superior look in Spike's eyes more than once and it had made him
feel like he was nothing, just a thing, a possession that
Spike couldn't lose face over by letting get hurt. He thought
maybe it was kinda like Riley had felt before he left Buffy, which
wasn't all that encouraging, really.
his head desperately and shoved his feet into his sneakers, picking
up the bag with all the rest of his things as he strode over to
the door. There was no way in hell he was staying here another
damn second. At this point, the further away he was from Spike
hours and one fairly pissed off doctor later he and Willow were
finally walking through the motor pool to the car Angel was apparently
letting them borrow and Xander was finally starting to relax.
It was always easier when Willow was there, anyway. She hadn't
closed off the link between them and Buffy and Giles completely
and Spike always felt further away when he concentrated on that,
instead of the other presence in his mind.
starting to wish they hadn't left the wheelchair at the elevator
as the pain flared through his shoulder once again. The gash in
his leg was throbbing and every time he put his foot down the
pain behind his eyes flashed brighter, stabbing into his brain.
He knew that Willow was talking to him, but he could only hope
that it wasn't important, because right now he was doing well
to not let his knees crumple and leave him a little Xander-shaped
puddle of pain on the floor. Whose fantastic idea had it been
to leave the pain medication 'till he was safely installed at
home, in any case? Still, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder,
closed his eyes and ignored it as best he could.
was his first mistake. His second was opening them when he felt
Willow stiffen under his arm and suck in a harsh breath.
..." Spike. Naturally. Why did the universe hate him so much?
Spike looked surprised, and just as uncomfortable as he felt.
"What are you ...? I mean, you're feeling better?" Xander
frowned and looked closer. Spike sounded tired, but he also sounded
... better. Sure as hell didn't look it, though. It was obvious
he hadn't slept for days. In the dim light of the garage his skin
was almost luminous, it was so pale. Xander had to quash the urge
that immediately had him wanting to step forward, take Spike in
his arms and hold him until he was back to his old self. He didn't
have that right any more. Spike was nervously fingering the keys
in his hand and bouncing his knee in that way that Xander knew
well enough to know meant he was itching to step forward and do
something. He wasn't carrying any weapons, and Xander wondering
fleetingly what Spike'd been doing, but told himself firmly that
it didn't matter.
his knees and spoke past the lump in his throat. "Um, yeah,
thanks. Much better." He tried a patented Xander grin, but
decided it was too much work. There was no one here who couldn't
see straight through it anyway.
frowned. "You're still injured, Xan, and it's late, you ..."
Xander stiffened immediately and he felt Willow's concern as she
opened their link wider. Because he knew what Spike was going
to say, and he knew that without her there would be pretty much
no chance he'd be going anywhere without Spike. And it made him
so fucking angry that Spike would do this, after everything
that had happened, but he'd be damned if he'd let it control him.
was shocked when Spike stopped suddenly. The look that flashed
through his eyes was despairing, resigned and just for a moment
Xander thought he could see begging, pleading for ... something.
But the expression was shuttered before he could do more than
notice it and Spike seemed to step back, even though he never
moved. "You sure you'll be alright?"
think we can manage to go twenty minutes in a car to the hotel,
Spike. We're not helpless." He tried to hide his surprise
behind the hostility, not that he thought he'd been all that successful.
Spike nodded. "Right," he said, his voice oddly empty.
"Yeah, okay then."
pain behind his eyes was getting worse and the longer they stood
there the more he wanted to step forward and run away and it was
too hard ... Because in his mind he could see Spike; standing
under a tree in the Summers front yard, his eyes sparking with
light and hope and surprise, hips lips wet from an unexpected
kiss; William, who was nothing and everything that Spike was;
Spike's eyes as Xander got on a plane that was going to take him
halfway round the world, his eyes after Xander stepped off the
one that brought him back ... And always the flash of yellow and
the gleam of fangs and the sharp pain in his neck.
shook his head, tried to disperse the images, regretted it when
his body protested the lack of quiet stillness. "Look ..."
he started, his voice strained.
Spike said at the same time.. He stopped, but Xander nodded, indicating
he should go on. Spike shot him an uncomfortable glance, but straightened
his shoulders and seemed to come to some sort of decision. "Look,
I wasn't going to do this, alright? I mean, 's not like you haven't
made your feelings perfectly clear." Xander winced at the
bitterness he heard there and opened his mouth to interrupt, but
Spike glared a him and he decided maybe he'd wait to see where
this was going after all. "But I've been thinking and I've
decided that while you're not entirely wrong, you're not entirely
right, either, Luv." He paused, and Xander could see him
struggling with himself. Spike didn't usually win when it came
to trying to keep his mouth shut. Xander braced himself for the
outburst. "Christ, Xan! If you'd just bloody listen
stepped forward suddenly. "That's enough, Spike," she
said softly, sounding equal parts heartbroken and bad-ass don't-mess-with-my-friends.
He knew how she felt.
rounded on her. "Stay out of this, Red. It's got nothing
to do with you." Even Spike seemed to realise the absurdity
of that statement, because he paused before ducking his head with
a wry expression. "Alright, yeah, fine, you're friends, makes
it your business and all that, but Xan," turning back to
him, "you don't have to do this."
just looked at him. "Yeah, Spike, right now I do." He
didn't know how to make it any clearer than that.
stepped in for him. "Spike, he's told you what he needs.
If you love him as much as you say you do you'll leave him alone.
You took a part of him away, and that's not just going to miraculously
thought she might have gone on, but all of a sudden he realised
that she'd left him with nothing to lean on. It was okay for a
moment, but then his vision started going grey around the edges
as the pounding in his head reached fever pitch and the sound
of the conversation faded in and out around the roaring in his
ears. He barely had time to make a faint noise of protest in the
back of his throat before his knees finally gave up and he was
heading for the floor with nothing to grab a hold of.
caught him. One second there was the anticipation of concrete
meeting his head, the next he was being gently held in strong,
agonisingly familiar arms. And at the moment he was too grateful
to be worried about it. "Spike," he murmured, his face
buried in a muscled shoulder, his lips so close to skin that would
taste of smoke and salt and Spike, that would leave it's owner
shivering if he reached out and licked it just there ...
It hurt so goddamn much and it'd be so easy...
it was just his injuries, but for the first time he couldn't hold
it in. The tears crept down his face and no amount of screwing
his eyes shut could stop them. Spike didn't say anything, but
Xander lifted his head, aware that the arms that were holding
him so gently were also so tense a normal person would be in pain.
And Spike was breathing, short jerky breaths that he could feel
against his chest and by his ear.
was looking over Xander's shoulder, staring desperately at whatever
was behind him like it held the answer to the mysteries of the
universe. And Xander stared at the twin tracks glistening on Spike's
cheeks and didn't know what to do. Because it was too soon and
nothing had changed, but he didn't want it to matter, why did
it matter, why did any of it matter? "I love you." He
knew he'd said it out loud when Spike's jaw twitched and despair
seemed to settle briefly over his features.
only vaguely aware of it when they moved, even the pain as Spike
lowered him onto the front seat of the car that had appeared from
somewhere was inconsequential. But it was only as Spike moved
away that he put out a hand to stop him, and it was only then
that Spike turned broken blue eyes to look him in the face. "I'm
sorry," Xander whispered.
smiled sadly and reached out to run his fingers gently over Xander's
jaw. For the briefest moment Xander let himself lean into the
touch, before it was gone. "So 'm I, love. Gonna make it
up to you, though. I swear." Spike's voice went William for
a second as he said that and for that second Xander believed him.
Then Spike was straightening and stepping away, the pain nowhere
but his eyes. "Look after yourself, yeah?"
there was so much desperate pleading in just that one casual phrase
that Xander nodded, vowing to himself that he would. "See
you, Spike." Then Willow was patting his arm and pulling
out of the car park. But he ignored it, all of it, as he fell
into the dark room inside his mind, where Spike was waiting for
It took weeks for Xander to recover from his little brush with
death. He was pretty much mobile by the end of the first week,
but he had to mind the gash in his chest to make sure he didn't
pull all his stitches and open the damn thing again. That was
never fun. Even healing nicely it was going to leave one hell
of an impressive scar. Though he couldn't work up much in the
way of angst over that. Wasn't like he didn't already have a sizeable
a long stay, the gang had put themselves up in the downtown house
that was serving as the Council presence in L.A., for training
slayers, housing them if they lived out of city or state, generally
being all office-y, so it was hardly the best place for an extended
convalescence, but on the other hand, lots of slayers handy, which
could hardly be a bad thing.
him a whole lot longer to get over ... everything else that had
saw Spike. Not once in the six weeks they spent in the city. He
didn't call, although neither did Xander, Xander didn't go back
to Wolfram and Hart and although Angel, Wes, Gunn and Fred showed
up on his doorstep at various times, Spike was never with them.
then, he didn't have to be.
bit of Spike that had somehow managed to find its way into his
head never went away. He'd clung to it for days, retreating into
his mind so he wouldn't have to deal with the fact that he'd so
thoroughly screwed up that chances were Spike would never want
to talk to him again.
girls were all very supportive of his depression, telling him
he should take all the time he needed, tiptoeing around him, making
sure never to mention anything that might remind him of Spike.
For a good week he wallowed in the comfort of fluffed pillows
and constantly refreshed tea and all the sympathy a teenaged girl
who'd just been dumped by her first boyfriend could ever want.
Thankfully, that got old fairly fast.
it was when he decided that enough was enough, that he discovered
that the presence in his mind was not to be so easily dismissed.
spent the past week inside, in bed, in absolutely no danger at
all, it hadn't really proved much of an issue. But the first time
he tried to walk outside after dark he started to understand just
what was happening. It wasn't so much a voice as it was a compulsion.
Like there was something inside him urging him to stay inside,
that it wasn't safe, he couldn't protect himself, he should wait
for Spike, ask Spike, Spike would take care of him. It had been
like that for weeks now, ever since that innocuous morning when
Spike had cut himself and Xander had unthinkingly licked up his
blood. Even more so since Spike had bitten him, once he came to
think about it.
that first time he hadn't been able to force himself to do it.
Dawn and a couple of the younger slayers had been with him, but
Buffy, Willow and Giles weren't even in the house. It had been
so subtle, so normal that he hadn't even questioned it. They'd
gotten to the front door and he had suddenly realised that he
wasn't really up to this right now, they should go on without
him. It was only after the words had left his mouth that he'd
wondered why he'd said them, only after the others had left that
he'd realised what was going on. He'd fought against it then,
and when he was concentrating he discovered he could get past
it, but it was so much harder than it should have been. That night,
at the church, with Willow and Buffy and Giles tugging at his
soul, it had been nothing, easy, but without that, without them,
he wasn't strong enough to just dismiss it.
pissed him off.
bad enough Spike could do this to him in the first place, but
that he could keep doing it even after Xander had gotten away
was just unfair.
made a point of doing any number of little things to deliberately
set it off. He wasn't an idiot, didn't go out patrolling in the
middle of the night, still injured, all by himself, but he did
go out on early evening rounds with the girls every so often,
once he'd gotten his strength back. He met up with the gang for
drinks almost every night, never mind the fact that they were
all living together anyway. And every night, after it got dark,
no matter what else he might be planning, he went to the front
door, opened it and sat on the front porch for fifteen minutes,
by himself, stake in hand.
he found himself pacing the front deck and wondering if a night-time
trip to the cemetery would make the fucking thing piss off, he
decided that it was probably time to tell Willow what was going
the best Willow could do was tell him that his mind was probably
more susceptible to these sorts of things after having been possessed
and magicked so many times, not to mention the frequent head trauma.
She could help him block it out, could to a spell to try to make
sure supernatural things couldn't just go in and take him over,
but apart from that, the best she could think was that time and
distance were going to be the best solutions.
they asked him if he was going to be coming with them back to
England, he jumped at the opportunity.
there, he settled back in fairly easily. There was still plenty
of rebuilding to be done. Literally. The council building had
been completely demolished and they needed somewhere big enough
to house and train all the slayers that were still constantly
showing up. They gave him a place to stay, an office in the new
Council headquarters, paid him not too badly and he was always
near Buffy and Giles and Willow.
months into his stay he was sitting with Buffy on the back veranda
of the old hotel he was slowly doing up, chatting and watching
the sunset. Eventually they fell into that comfortable silence
that only happened between old friends.
he finally looked over at her, he found her gazing at the scar
on his neck, one hand unconsciously touching the matching one
on her own. She jerked away when his head, moved, ducking her
head in embarrassment and giving him a wry smile. "Sorry,"
shrugged, grinned at her. "No problem, Buff. You're welcome
to ask me to take my shirt off any time so you can stare at all
my manly scars."
chuckled and elbowed him lightly. "Just so long as you don't
expect me to do the same."
his eyes. "Well, I dunno, tit for tat, Buff, seems only fair."
out loud and waggled his eyebrows when she turned to him equal
parts amused and shocked and exclaimed, "Xander!"
Did you think I meant ...? Oh, Buffy, where does your mind go?"
He shook his head despairingly, then grinned at the outraged expression
on her face. Leaning back to try to find a comfortable angle on
the wooden bench, he glanced over at her. "So, what's got
you staring at my neck this fine morning?"
twisted around so she was sitting sideways and looked at him directly.
"Nothing, well, nothing really. I just, you know, noticed
it. You usually try to keep it covered up. And I guess it just
made me think. That night ... he could have killed you."
looked at her, concerned. She was staring at his neck again, lost,
he supposed, in the memories of that night, or countless others
when she'd lost, or nearly lost, people she loved. He sat forward
and placed a gentle hand on one seriously tense shoulder. "Hey,"
he said, waiting for her to look at him. "There's a lot of
things that might have killed me that night. Might have killed
you and Will and Giles. But they didn't. I saved you, you saved
me, it was a whole big saving thing, which is what we do right?"
He smiled gently at her, relaxing when she sighed and gave him
a sad smile back.
couldn't believe it, you know, when you didn't come with Spike.
The whole thing nearly fell apart right there when we felt you
just disappear, when Spike h-hit you." She said it hesitantly,
like she still couldn't believe that something like that could
happen. Xander didn't react. He'd come to terms with it a while
ago. Nothing made it alright, but he understood why Spike had
done it. "And then when I saw him drinking you and I just
... god Xander, I froze. I'm so sorry. For a second it was like
my mind just ... couldn't put the pictures together. And then
... if I'd been any longer you'd be dead, now."
he said, taking her hand firmly. The horrified expression on her
face was too much for him to take. "Buffy, no. It doesn't
matter now. You saved me. You did. You got him off me in time
and I'm fine."
should have killed him then." She shook her head despairingly.
"God, after what he did, I know I should have. I had my stake
over his heart. But I just, I couldn't, you know?" She looked
up at him then, her expression tired, sad, regretful even. But
always determined. She might regret the necessity of an action,
but she always followed her heart and so she always knew that,
ultiMately, she'd done the right thing.
never could kill him, could you?" he said wryly. "Not
when he was helpless, even when he betrayed us, nearly raped you
and, let's not forget, when the first had him killing people left
right and centre again. Although, yes, that wasn't exactly his
fault. He's given you enough reason, though, hasn't he? But you
love him, which pretty much means Spike gets a get out of staking
free card, something I'm actually fairly happy about, him being
a dickhead aside."
smirked. "I guess so. I mean, I don't love love him,
not like he wanted, like he deserved." She looked up at him
suddenly and got that intense, I've-worked-it-out expression,
like when she figured out why the demons were attacking or something.
"Like you do." Then she laughed softly and looked down.
"I don't mean to be, you know, mean, but I'm not sure I'll
ever get used to that."
thinking about everything he'd done the past few months to get
Spike the hell out of his head. "Heh, well, that makes two
of us, then."
narrowed her eyes sharply. "That mind control thing's not
still bothering you, is it, Xan?"
was surprised. He hadn't thought anyone had noticed anything.
Being so far away from Spike, the meditations Willow had him doing,
having the Scoobies around him most of the time. Mostly it had
faded. The most he could really say was that he was more careful
about going outside now that he might have been, which, rationally
speaking, wasn't exactly a problem. Besides which, Willow
had assured him that, with the spell she'd performed, as long
as he didn't want it, Spike would never be able to do anything
like this again and that from now on everything should be fine.
just let her think that it was. It was easier, and as long as
he wasn't in any danger, he wasn't too keen on doing any rigorous
the truth was, that weird feeling that some part of Spike was
still inside him never went away. And after the anger and the
frustration had played themselves out and he'd come to terms with
what had happened between them, he'd realised just how much he
relationship hadn't been all about control and fear and misunderstanding.
In all the in between bits he'd been honestly happy. Now that
he didn't have to think about the look in Spike's eyes as his
fist came flying out of nowhere, he could think about the look
in his eyes every time Xander kissed him, made love to him, every
time they caught sight of each other across a crowded room. It
was all sickeningly romantic but exactly how he felt.
loved Spike. Still loved him. And as long as he was able to close
his eyes and find that little room deep inside of him where Spike
waited with a smile that went all the way to his blue eyes, he
couldn't imagine not loving him.
that ... well, he wasn't quite sure how he felt about that.
frown had deepened as she waited for him to answer. "Nah,
it's not bothering me," he replied. "Well, I mean, 'bothering'
is probably not the right word. It's just ..." He broke off
uncomfortably, not sure he really wanted to talk about this with
her. Then he caught sight of the scar she had been touching so
very recently, peeking out from the edge of her top and it made
him realise that if there was anyone who could possibly understand,
it was going to be Buffy. Not only had she been with more than
one vampire, she'd been with the same vampire he was, and okay
that thought wasn't helping. Still ... "Do you ever feel
like ... like he left a part of him with you," he said hesitantly,
watching her face for her reaction.
just watched him thoughtfully. "Angel, you mean? When he
bit me? Well, I don't know. I mean, for years it felt like I was
carrying a piece of him around inside, but it started before that,
I think. I guess maybe," she said doubtfully. "But I
never drank from him, so I don't know if it'd be the same."
She trailed off and Xander just shrugged, prepared to concede
the point. Before he could do so, her face lit up. "Oh! Wait!
smiled triumphantly. After a moment he prodded her. "What
about Dracula, Buff? The fact that he made me his little monkey
boy?" This had so better be going somewhere, because that
was one experience he had no desire to revisit.
no," she said impatiently. "Well, maybe ... but I was
talking about when he made me drink his blood!"
at her with renewed interest. "Really? You never told me
that. So what happened? Could he like control you and stuff with
no," she frowned. "He thought he was going to be able
to, but for some reason it didn't work like that on me. It's probably
a Slayer thing. Although, you remember he did come into my room
and put the whammy on me the night before when he drank my blood.
But the point is, when I drank his blood, I could feel him inside
of me. It was seriously creepy, like he was in my mind, in my
blood ..." She shuddered at the memory. "I could feel
him trying to control me, but there was no way in hell I was going
to let that creep go all Master Vampire on me. It pretty much
faded when I ignored it, and when I killed him it went away altogether."
She looked at him hopefully.
... why hasn't Spike just ... faded away then?" he asked.
"It's been months, Buffy. I mean, I know Will said I was
all susceptible to stuff like this, and okay, you are the Slayer,
natural defences probably abound and all that, not to mention
my iron will is something closer to the consistency of jello,
but ... what point was I trying to make?"
should be happily Spike-free?"
Why can't I get him out of my mind?"
just looked at him for a moment, like she was trying to puzzle
something through. It made him want to squirm in his seat and
protest that no miss, the dog really did eat it. "Xander,"
she started. "Xander, you still love him, right? And I know
you miss him. So, have you ever thought that maybe you can't leave
him behind because part of you doesn't want to? I mean, how would
you really feel if you woke up tomorrow and he just wasn't there?"
at her. Then he stared at her some more. She sat through it patiently.
How would he feel? Well, he'd feel great, wouldn't he? No more
Spike. No more doubts and struggles ... that really, honestly,
hadn't been bothering him for months. Still, he wouldn't have
to close his eyes and feel Spike waiting for him, wouldn't be
able to forget the world around him and just let the knowledge
that Spike would always love him, always be with him wash through
his soul. He'd be alone, honestly and truly alone and fuck but
that thought scared the shit out of him. He loved him and these
past months he'd been doing everything he could to forget that
short of letting Spike go.
... because he didn't want to. Maybe, just maybe, that bit of
Spike belonged inside of him. And maybe Spike had forgotten about
him, maybe he'd been terrified that this was all he was ever going
to get, but suddenly ...
I ..." He stood up, barely registered her startled expression.
"I have to go make a phone call."
Spike wasn't going to suddenly decide to turn on his cell and
pick up, Xander determined after the sixth phone call. Well, okay,
that was kinda discouraging, but there was more than one way to
skin a cat. He tried Spike's apartment. He cursed Spike for never
getting an answering machine, thought about it a little more and
decided that humiliating himself on tape was maybe not the best
way to go anyway, not to mention the fact that this whole thing
could get kinda expensive if he had to keep ringing back and leaving
messages. Maybe he should have used Giles' office.
no Spike at home, no Spike on his cell, that left one other option.
He flipped through the rolodex on his desk and found the number
for Wolfram and Hart. Yes, okay, fine, he knew it off by heart,
he was just ... checking.
picked up. "Wolfram and Hart." He cleared his throat.
Hesitated. "Hello? Is someone there?" Oh, god, what
if Spike was there, what was he going to say? 'Hi, Spike, I know
I broke your heart, but how'd you like to drop everything and
come take me back?' ... Okay, yeah, that worked. "Okay, I'm
transferring you to the Psychic and Spiritual Research Department.
If you're a client, welcome to Wolfram and Hart, if you're not,
you're in for a world of hurt, you creep."
"Harmony! Wait! It's Xander," he exclaimed hurriedly.
"Sorry, I just ...sorry. Hey, Harm!"
was silence for a moment. Then, "Xander? Oh my God, I can't
believe it! Where are you, how have you been? Hey, I'm totally
mad at you, buster! You broke my poor Spikey's heart. Not that
I don't understand, because you know how he treated me,
but he was moping around here for like ever... well, before
he left, that is. So, what can I help you with? You want to talk
shook his head bemusedly. "Um, actually, I wanted to talk
duh, I just said he's not here. I'll put you through to Angel."
no, Harm! Put me through to Wes--" There was a click as she
as it was picked up on the first ring. "This is Angel."
this was fine, he could do this. Angel wasn't sounding too overly
broody or anything. He'd just find out where Spike was and that'd
be the end of it. Angel wouldn't have to ask him about the state
of their relationship, he wouldn't have to share and with any
luck there would be a whole lot of no death threats all around.
It was all good. "Hi, it's, uh, it's Xander."
Angel's voice went flat and that could so not be a good sign.
Oh, yeah, this was in no way uncomfortable. "So, um, I was
looking for Spike."
not here," Angel cut in abruptly.
I know, I mean, Harmony said. But I wanted to talk with him and
I thought you might be able to tell me where he is." He was
an adult. He was not going to be pushed around by big broody vampires
who weren't even on the same continent as him.
he doesn't hear from you for five months and now you want
to talk to him." For someone who had two expression altogether,
Angel could certainly put a world of scorn into one short sentence.
cringed at the tone. So much for being a big manly-man. But he
stuck to his guns. "Yeah."
was a big heavy meaningful silence at the other end of the line.
Xander was sort of annoyed to notice that he was holding his breath.
"Fine," Angel stated eventually. "I'll let him
know you called."
the phone went dead and Xander was left wondering if that was
going to be a good thing or a bad thing. He contemplated calling
back and getting Harmony to let him talk to Wes or Fred, but knowing
Angel he'd have told her to forward any calls straight to him.
call back tomorrow. With any luck Angel would be asleep. He could
wait one more day.
He was lying on the grass in the middle of the backyard, looking
up at the sky. It was eleven seventeen. He'd promised himself
he wouldn't call before midday. He'd taken his watch off and placed
it beside his head. Oddly enough, it wasn't making the time go
by any faster.
were plenty of jobs he might be doing, should be doing, really.
Fact was, he'd been up since before five o'clock coming up with
a schedule. Unfortunately, it involved actually involved doing
any or all of the things he was supposed to be doing. Things with
hammers and nails and probably chainsaws and really big pieces
of glass and he had to admit that in this state, he be dead before
the new gym was even halfway paned.
was passing the time by lying in the sun, watching the clock and
quietly going insane. It was all Buffy's fault.
were voices from inside, doors opening and closing and it occurred
to him that he'd been drifting. Turning his head he saw that it
was eleven thirty. He could go to his office now. It wasn't too
early. Standing up, he closed his eyes and stretched his hands
over his head, twisting his body and moaning in appreciation as
he shook his head and let his hands fall to his sides.
down to swipe his phone, he turned to the porch door and froze.
Blinked. Shook his head and tried very hard to stop seeing things.
It wasn't working.
...?" His feet moved him forward. His body was six feet away,
but his mind was still lost in somewhere in the backyard.
Spike smiled at him. And it was like the world started turning
Was standing in the doorway. Crunchy bleached hair, black duster,
arms crossed uncertainly, head tilted cockily, soft smile ...
And Xander couldn't move, couldn't speak. He had a feeling his
mouth was hanging open.
smile turned wry. "'Lo there, Mate," he said softly.
him out of his stupor and he realised he'd done it again. He'd
thought he'd remembered, but he hadn't remembered everything.
Hadn't remembered it right. He wanted to kiss him. Now.
It was a good thing his brain wasn't connected to his body at
the moment, except that it really, really, wasn't. But there was
no way in hell he'd be able to stop the smile he could feel spreading
over his face.
raised an eyebrow and moved half a step closer. "Heard you
wanted to talk to me, Luv," he said, the amusement dancing
in his eyes.
shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. "Yeah, I ...
Angel said you weren't there ... how did you ... I mean, that
was only yesterday." He trailed off, rolling his eyes at
himself. Spike snorted gently and Xander lifted his head up, so
they were just looking at each other. "Let me try this again,
huh? It's so good to see you, Spike," he smiled.
ducked his head momentarily. "Yeah, Luv, 's good to see you
grinned. This was all so ... he hadn't even thought about actually
seeing Spike. Have a bit of a chat, try to find out where
things stood, sure, but this? This was so many million
times better it wasn't even funny. Unless Spike wanted to see
him in person to tell him it was finally over. But it didn't feel
like that. It so
didn't feel like that. Maybe things wouldn't go back to what they
were. And that would truly suck,
but he knew in his heart that Spike didn't hate him, and he obviously
wasn't worried about staying the hell away from him. Anything
else ... well, that'd get worked out. There was still plenty of
still shady under the veranda. "You wanna sit?" Xander
gestured to the bench by the back door. Spike seemed to hesitate
for a moment, then nodded and sat in the middle of the seat. Xander
felt a twinge of remorse, but took it in stride and pulled himself
up to sit on the railing opposite. "So, Angel actually told
you, huh? I wondered, after talking to him. He's pretty pissed
at me isn't he?" he said wryly. Not that he could blame the
vampire. If someone had walked out on one of his friends, no matter
what the reason, he wouldn't be all ready to make with the nice.
snorted. "Yeah, well, for some reason the bloke's finally
decided he's got some kinda duty to look out for me. Sorry if
he snapped at you."
shrugged uncomfortably. "Nah, I deserved it, I guess. I mean,
I did ... leave you." He winced. This wasn't how this conversation
was supposed to be going.
you did, Luv." Spike was looking at him... staring
at him... and Xander suppressed the urge to squirm. Finally
he cut his eyes away. "With good reason, though. I ... I
understand that, Xan. I wanted you to know. I made things impossible
for you, didn't I? I'm ... I'm sorry about that."
just shook his head. "Forget about it Spike," he said
sincerely. "It took me a while, but ... I get it now. I'm
just sorry I never bothered to say anything at the time."
Spike seemed to relax a little. Xander took that as a good sign.
"So," he grinned, slapping his knees and straightening
up. "What've you been doing? How'd you get here so fast?"
could see the caution in his eyes, but Spike sat back and stretched
out his arms across the back of the seat. It was a position that
was not good for his libido, but they weren't up to that part
yet, assuming they were even moving towards that part, so he gave
himself a mental slap upside his head and tried to pay attention.
"Was in Spain, actually. Called to check in, Angel told me
'bout your call. Got the Wolfram and Hart bunch in Madrid to lend
me jet and hopped on over."
Spain. What were you doing there? I hope you didn't leave any
apocalypses unaverted just 'cause I called," he joked. And
was somewhat alarmed to see Spike looking a little uncomfortable.
"Spike! I know you work for an evil law firm, but--"
Luv," Spike chuckled. "Earth's still safe, far as I
know. Though I'm not sure I wouldn't 'a blown it off anyway. Been
waiting for you to call for five months." Suddenly Spike
was gazing at him intently, waiting, for something. And Xander
didn't know what to say. 'I'm sorry' didn't really seem to cover
it. And ravishing Spike right there on the bench might just be
overkill, although his dick didn't seem to be entirely opposed
to the idea. He shifted slightly and ignored it, telling himself
firmly that that had in no way been an invitation. After a moment,
Spike smirked and broke the tension. "Went to see Dru, actually."
okay, that was quite possibly the last thing he'd expected
to hear. And he was not jealous. Even if he and Spike were
still together, Spike had been over Dru for years. Never mind
that they'd been together for over a century, he had a soul now,
he wasn't going to go back to her. "Ah, oh-kay. Isn't she
still evil?" And that might have come out a little harsher
than he'd intended. Spike was back to shifting around looking
guilty and he was starting to feel seriously worried. "Spike?"
winced and looked at him briefly. "Well, 's this mind thing
I did, yeah? Angel didn't know nothing about it and Wes says that
it's not, like, common, or anything, so, we figured it might have
somethin' to do with Dru. She's still barmy as a fruit bat,"
he said fondly. "And she was none to pleased about this soul
of mine. But she did help. Knew I was coming, she did. Takes a
lot to surprise my princess. Anyway," he went on hurriedly
after looking up to find Xander glaring at him, "seems like
it was kinda the same as what she can do, 'cept it probably wouldn't
'a worked on too many other people. Taught me how to control it,
too, or tried to. Haven't had much chance to test it out, obviously."
Spike shrugged and glanced at him, looking like he was waiting
for the axe to fall.
Xander was once again speechless. Spike had actually gone out
and tried to ... change? To help? To make sure it didn't happen
again? That was ... amazing. "You ... you did that for me?"
looked at him sharply, leant forward. "Course, love. I'd
never ... It'd never happen again."
why did it happen to me?"
hesitated. Xander narrowed his eyes. "Well, according to
Dru, she said--far as I could tell anyway--my blood might have
done it, but .... it happened like that 'cause ... 'cause you
loved me. You wanted ...."
Xander finished softly. "I wanted you. I wanted to let you
Spike said uncomfortably. "Even then, she was said it was
snorted and ducked his head. "Not so, according to Will.
Apparently, what with living on the hellmouth and everything,
I'm kinda more susceptible to that sort of thing than most people
would be. She's been teaching me to shield so it ... so it couldn't
happen again." And now they'd both basically said they wanted
to put themselves in a position where any of this might be an
issue. That was good. Hell, that was fucking fantastic.
seemed to have realised it too. He was standing, although it looked
like he wanted to be pacing. "Xan, I ... I know you said
you wanted time, and I understand why, honestly, but ... I love
you. I know you have to fight. It makes you what you are. It's
part of what I love about you. I should never have tried to stop
you. But please ... I don't want to have to live without you."
squeezed his eyes shut. Smiled. He wanted to kiss Spike so much
it hurt. After a moment he opened them to find Spike looking at
him, drinking him in and it made him smile wider. "You ...
I could you feel you in my head for months, you know, Spike, even
after I came here," he started. "It ... it made me so
Xander cut him off. "And I've spent most of that time wondering
why I couldn't get past it, why you weren't just fading away.
Then yesterday, thanks to our favourite slayer, I realised that
I was a complete moron. And that would be your cue to disagree,
Blondie," he added with a smirk when Spike just continued
to look grave. Spike glared at him. "I realised that you
were still there because I didn't want to let you go. I'm sorry
for what happened. I know how much I hurt you. But I guess I want
to know, is it too late? I love you, Spike and I don't want to
have to live without you, either. It's kinda like you said; you're
mine," he finished quietly.
Spike's eyes widen. He knew exactly what he was offering. An equal
relationship. Not one person owning the other. Waited for Spike
to realise it, as his head tilted and his body stilled and Xander
thought he was going to drown in the blue of his eyes. "You
belong with me," he eventually replied just as softly.
stood up slowly. Spike didn't move. It left them just inches apart.
He couldn't take his eyes from Spike's lips. Couldn't stop his
fingers from tracing over Spike's neck, savoured the shudder that
followed like the first drop of water after months of thirst.
Then cool, painfully familiar fingers traced an opposite pattern
over his own neck, over the scar that he knew would never fade,
would always be a part of him and he closed his eyes at the flash
of emotion that poured through him. When he opened them he looked
Spike in the eye.
worth a try," Xander murmured. Then it was just a matter
of tilting his head and taking Spike's lips with his own. There
was no hesitation, no awkwardness. Just heat and love and tongues
twisting and stroking, hands cradling and grasping, hips clashing,
and two people who knew nothing more than that this was right.
That it was coming home.
eventually had to break away. He rested his forehead against Spike's,
breathing heavily. Spike drew back, leaving his arms around Xander's
waist and smiled. "You sure about this, Love?"
I am. Just ..." He hesitated. Spike tensed, but tilted his
head inquiringly. "Are you? I can't give you forever, and
I ... I don't want you to turn me. Can you live with that?"
He didn't think he'd ever been this scared. He honestly didn't
know how Spike would respond to that ultimatum, but it was the
one thing he couldn't deal with, had to stay firm on.
the pain flash through Spike's eyes, but there was no hesitation
as he nodded. "Yeah, Xan. Long as I can have you."
sagged with relief. He hated that this was so hard, for both of
them, but however long they had together would be worth it. He
knew that, above everything. "Love you."
smiled and captured his lips in a soft kiss. "Love you, too."
They lost themselves for a while, but eventually Spike broke away
with a smirk. "How 'bout we don't scar that nosy bunch lookin'
in at the window for life, Luv?"
snorted. "What, they're all there? Geez, so much for privacy,
got that look on his face like he was planning something evil.
"Got something for you in India, love. Cost a pretty penny,
too. What say we give it a go?"
smirked. "Will it get us away from prying eyes?"
waggled his eyebrows and reached into the inside pocket of his
duster, a feat that was made slightly more difficult by the fact
that neither of them wanted to move far enough away from each
other to give him more room. Xander watched curiously as he pulled
out a braided leather thong with a dark black stone hanging like
a pendant. Spike slipped it over his head. His own head. Which
made it a pretty sucky present as far as Xander was concerned.
Spike, you got yourself a necklace for me. You shouldn't have,"
Spike said it affectionately. "Let's go."
stepped away and headed for the backyard. Xander turned, but didn't
move. "Uh, Spike, sunlight?" Spike just grinned and
before Xander could do more than widen his eyes in horror, stepped
out into the bright midday sun. He was over the railing and about
to tackle the flaming vampire back into the shade when he realised
that the vampire wasn't, in fact, on fire at all. Wasn't even
smouldering. Was, however, grinning like the cat that had polished
off the entire gold fish pond.
lasts a couple of hours. Needs to be recharged and whatnot. So,
feel like taking a stroll, Pet?"
was still having trouble moving past the his-boyfriend-was-not-actually-a-pillar-of-flame
thing. "What, how, why?" He reached out a shaking hand
to cup Spike's cheek.
face immediately softened. "Sorry if I scared you. Said you'd
like to see me in the sunlight, didn't you, love?"
well, things to remember. If you want Xander to live to a ripe
old age, don't scare him half to death by leaping into the sunlight."
His heart was finally slowing down. God, Spike could be such an
insensitive bastard sometimes. Then the rest of what he'd said
sunk in. "You remembered that?" God, Spike could be
such a sweet romantic sometimes. And always a paradox. It made
regarded him seriously. "I want to be able to follow you
everywhere. Not just to protect you, but to be with you.
I want to able to share everything with you, love. Plus, I never
did get to see if I'd freckle," he grinned.
couldn't help it. He laughed. It was so long since he'd just felt
... happy. "Well, that's certainly something we'll have to
explore. You'll be happy to know you're nearly as pasty and corpse
like as I was expecting. Although, if you're going to be spending
time in the sun, we might have to buy you some clothes with actual
colour. The black on white thing is not a good look."
their fingers together and led the way to the back gate. "Oh,
no, I never tried to make you change you wardrobe, there's no
way in hell I'm letting you anywhere near mine."
Blue. You've worn blue before. I love you in blue. It brings out
Well, maybe blue, but that's it. And only if I get you into some
sexier than leather."
didn't get much further than the park half a block down the street.
Didn't work out all the problems between them. Didn't say all
the things that needed to be said. By the time they made it back
they didn't even have the time or the energy to make love to each
other in all the ways they were both desperate to rediscover.
that was okay, too. They had each other and as for the rest, well
... there was still plenty of time.
appreciated, so please,