Through the Looking Glass by Kimberly


"Well, you did the same thing!"

Xander had been holding back the big guns, but if Spike was going to continue to be such a prick about the stalker issue, even after more than a week had passed, then fine. Time to blast away with the biggest of the big guns. Well, except for the vampire gun. Because that was a gun Xander was not yet willing to fire.

Spike just narrowed his eyes suspiciously in response to Xander's first salvo.

"With Buffy," Xander continued in righteous indignation. "You hid behind a tree in her front yard and watched through the windows. Don't think we didn't see you! And you showed up at the door uninvited, showed up to parties uninvited, showed up at the Magic Box..."

"Hold up then. Magic Box?"

Xander backpedalled. "Uh. Yeah. Magic. You know, like gag stuff."

"And I went there." Spike sounded dubious.

"Anya and Giles owned it, so we were all there a lot."

"I thought 'Giles' was the high school librarian..."

"Well, yeah, but ... wait! We were talking about the fact that you were a stalker, and so being pissed at me is hypocrisy. You are a hypocrite, mister! A hypocrite!"

"How can I be a hypocrite if I don't even remember the damn thing?"

"Because you still did it! You were a stalker. So quit giving me shit about it."

Spike just shrugged, one shoulder rising and falling gracefully. "Fine."

Xander looked at him in shock. "Fine?"

Spike shrugged again. "Fine."

"Okay. That was easier than I thought it would be."

"Wouldn't want to be a hypocrite, now would I?" Spike was smirking, just a little, and Xander knew he was off the hook.

They sat in silence for a minute or two, making sure the argument was over, and then Xander picked up the remote and turned on the television.

They'd been watching infomercials for almost half an hour when Spike said suddenly, "Uninvited?"

Xander turned to look at him, confused. "What?"

"You said I showed up every place uninvited. That I was a stalker, just following Buffy" -- he winced slightly -- "around. Sounds like I wasn't such great mates with you lot, after all."

Xander didn't know what to say. Spike's voice was carefully casual, which probably meant that he'd hurt his feelings. At least, that's what it would mean if Xander sounded that way. But Spike deserved to know the truth.

Or part of it, anyway.

"Um ... okay ... so I may have exaggerated a little bit."

Spike nodded slowly. "I see."

"But you really did live with me."

"Uninvited?" Spike's eyes were dark and vulnerable.

Xander looked away as he half-truthed, "Uh ... no ... I definitely invited you in."

"Right." Spike sounded resentful and defensive now. Damn.

Xander moved to sit on the couch next to Spike. Not too close, but close enough to get Spike's attention. "Look. That doesn't matter, okay? So you were kind of a jerk. I am, too, sometimes. Okay, so maybe you were more of a jerk than me..." Spike raised an eyebrow and Xander realized he was getting off-track. "The point is who you are now. It's like you're getting to ... I don't know ... start over or something. So it doesn't matter if you were a stalkery asshole back then. What matters is what you do with your life now."

During the final bit of this little impassioned speech, Spike had been watching Xander's eyes closely, and Xander had made himself not look away. He wanted Spike to know that he meant what he was saying, that it was the truth and there wasn't some kind of lingering hatred or anything. Because, oddly enough, there wasn't.

And then their faces were unexpectedly closer than he'd realized, and then Spike's lips were on Xander's lips and they were kissing and Spike's hand moved up to wrap around the nape of Xander's neck to pull him closer.

Xander couldn't help responding, his lips and -- oh! -- tongue sliding slowly against Spike's, his hands coming up to rest on Spike's shoulders as they leaned in toward each other on the couch.

When he remembered reality, remembered where he was and who he was and who Spike was and everything, he pulled away abruptly and Spike's hand slid down from from the back of his neck. Spike's eyes were heavy-lidded, his lips wet and pink. Xander fought an irrational urge to dive right back in and grab him for a far more aggressive kiss. Maybe press him back on the couch.

But that would be taking advantage. Good guys don't bend amnesiacs over the arm of the couch to grind against them, especially if there are all kinds of half-truths and outright lies in the way. Especially if the whole thing is probably happening just because the amnesiac doesn't have anyone else and he's just grateful or something.

"So," Xander said, not finding any other words in his brain.

Spike raised an eyebrow, not leaning forward anymore, sitting back casually as if nothing had happened. He ran a hand through his hair, barely disturbing the tight blonde curls.

Xander was feeling horrendously guilty. He'd been lying about everything, and now Spike kissed him?

Hell. Maybe it was time to bring out the biggest gun, after all.

* * *

In the two weeks afterward, Spike didn't attempt to kiss him again, and Xander didn't have the nerve to make a move of his own.

Sure, once or twice they passed each other in the narrow hallway and Spike's gaze flickered down to Xander's lips and then quickly back up to meet his eyes, but they always sprang apart almost immediately to go their separate ways.

On Spike's nights off, when they were both home, Spike often spent the evening reading in the guest room -- now his room -- instead of watching television or otherwise interacting with Xander. He was almost like a ghost, insubstantial and evasive. Xander didn't know if he was hurt or embarrassed or -- god forbid! -- angry about what had happened ... and about what had not happened but which Xander had wanted to happen.

As time went on, the guilt grew and built until it formed an unbearable mass inside Xander's chest. He was exhausted by the lies and the secrets, and he'd come to honestly like this new Spike and didn't want to be dishonest with him. It felt like crap.

As long as he was being this dishonest, he didn't feel right about the kissing. And he wanted more of the kissing.

And so it was guilt -- and kissing -- that landed them on a field trip to Colma in the middle of the night.

"What the hell are we doing here, Xander?"

"What ... you don't enjoy the scenery?" Xander could hear a slight tremor in his voice. God he was nervous. And scared. Not scared of any fledges they might meet ... scared of telling Spike the truth.

"It's a cemetery, Xander. In the dark. What scenery am I meant to be enjoying?"

"Look. This shouldn't take long. At least, I don't think it will..."

"What are you rattling on about? And why did you give me this stick?" Spike twirled the wooden stake in his hand.

"I just ... you need to see..." Xander didn't know what to say that wouldn't sound stupid. Spike needed to see it for himself if he was going to understand. And even then he might still not understand. It was pretty freaky stuff.

The moon was full and bright, and the headstones and crypts and monuments were clearly visible. No vamps yet, though. Xander just hoped he wasn't about to get them both killed. It wasn't as if they had Buffy to back them up if things got hairy.

Spike sighed with annoyance and stopped walking. "Is this some kind of joke?"

Xander looked him in the eye and said, "No. I swear. I'm completely serious."

Spike held his gaze a long moment and then nodded slightly. Trusting him. As if compelled, Spike took a hesitant step forward, and in the next second Xander was leaning forward, reaching out to cup the back of Spike's head and pull him into another blazing kiss, much more passionate than the first had been.

So of course that was the moment that a fledge decided to make an appearance. "How sweet," he lisped through his new fangs.

Xander turned to face the vamp, wielding his stake warily. Behind him, Spike said, "Piss off, mate." The vamp only bared his teeth and laughed. Spike froze in confusion.

"It's a vampire," Xander hissed quietly without turning his head, keeping his eyes always on the fledge.

"No such thing as vampires," insisted Spike, though his voice sounded less certain than he probably would have liked.

The vamp grinned. "No such thing as vampires. That's rich." And then he flipped through the air to stand behind them, nearer to Spike. Both Spike and Xander turned around quickly to face him. Spike was looking a bit green now, because that flying leap was difficult to explain away as human. And the fledge was baring his teeth again. "Let me show you how real I am." And he reached forward quickly to grab Spike, but Xander darted in front and pushed Spike behind him, waving his stake at the fledge.

"I've got a stake and I know how to use it!" he warned.

The vamp rolled his eyes. "Pathetic humans. You think you can do anything to me with that twig?"

And with that, his hands moved almost faster than could be seen, and the next thing Xander knew he was in the vampire's grasp and fangs were sinking into the side of his neck from behind. No Buffy to bail him out this time, and he couldn't get his stake around to do anything effective with it. All he could do was cry, "Ow!" and struggle in vain.

But a moment later, the pain disappeared and Xander was abruptly showered with a fine dust. He turned to look, and Spike stood behind him, his face pale in the moonlight, the stake held tightly in his extended hand. He didn't say anything, and the raised arm was trembling visibly.

Xander watched him, worrying. Spike didn't look well at all, and Xander couldn't really remember exactly how he'd felt when he'd first learned vampires were real. It was so long ago. But from Spike's expression, he was having a tough time of it.

Add to that the fact that he'd just saved Xander's life, and the whole situation was even more intense. His instincts had pressed the stake home on the first thrust, though he probably couldn't remember how or why.

After a moment had passed with the two of them watching each other in the moonlight, Xander realized that they were easy prey for another vamp, and so he said gruffly, "Let's get out of here." And Spike walked -- docile, silent -- beside him until they were safely out of the cemetery and on their way home.

And even then he didn't speak.

* * *

Xander was blotting the two puncture marks with hydrogen peroxide when Spike walked into the bathroom.

"What happened out there?" he asked, uncertainty in his voice.

Xander turned away from the mirror to look at Spike earnestly, hoping that he could somehow radiate truth after so many lies. "A vampire grabbed me. You saved my life."

Spike nodded absently as if he hadn't really heard or understood. "A vampire."

Xander nodded. "A vampire."

"And you knew that there would be a vampire."

"Well, I guessed. I mean, it's a cemetery. And it was dark. Past experience seems to indicate that cemetery plus dark equals vampires."

Spike was nodding vaguely again. "Why?"

Xander frowned, confused. "Why? Well, because vamps get buried in cemeteries and so when they wake up hungry, they..."

Spike shook his head. "Why did you take me out there if you thought there would be ... vampires." He looked like he was still having trouble believing any of this.

Xander looked into Spike's eyes. "Because you needed to see it for yourself."

"Why? There's no such thing as vampires. It was all a joke."

Xander took the washcloth away from the side of his neck and gestured to the two bleeding, bubbling injuries. "Then what did this to my neck, Spike? You saw that guy. You saw what happened to him when you pushed that stake into his heart. There are vampires, Spike."

Spike's arms were crossed now as if he were cold, though the apartment was warm. "And?"

Xander frowned and ran a hand through his hair. The wounds on his neck were still bubbling with hydrogen peroxide, but he threw the wash cloth into the sink. He turned to look at Spike and put everything he had into his gaze. All the honesty he had held back for too long.

"Okay, the thing is," Xander paused to lick his lips nervously, "...uh ... when I knew you before ... back in Sunnydale ... you were ... you were a vampire."


This time, Spike didn't come home for a week. This storming out and not coming back was getting a little old, but Xander couldn't really feel too offended when it kept being things he'd done that pissed Spike off and drove him away.

And Xander was worried enough to consider stopping by the Boy Toy or -- less embarrassing -- the library, just to make sure Spike wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere, but the previous conversations about stalking kept him from doing it.

Eventually, Spike just turned up again, acting as if nothing had happened ... except for the silent treatment he was giving Xander. Now when they passed in the hall, Spike's lips tightened and he averted his eyes, moving past as quickly as possible. There wasn't any television together, or talking over dinner, or anything else that remotely resembled friendship. Spike was gone a lot, and when he was home he stayed in his room. It was just like last time, except worse.

And so one morning Xander was tightening his tie, getting ready to head in to work for a meeting with Gary to prepare for the afternoon's meeting with the Senior Vice-President of Overaa, when he saw Spike sitting on the couch. In the dark.

This was weird.

"So you think you can just lie to me about everything?" Spike asked without turning his head. The dam was finally breaking, the silent treatment coming to an end. But Xander really couldn't be late to this meeting. Damn!

"Spike, while I appreciate this effort to initiate a discussion about how much of a prick I am, I really don't have time right now. I have to get to work."

Spike turned to look at him, though his eyes were shadowed in the darkness of the living room. The light from the hall didn't reach that far, stretching in long shadows as if trying to touch Spike, unsuccessfully.

"Well, then, just explain why you lied and then be on your merry way." Spike was still watching him out of the darkness.

Xander ran a hand through his hair and sighed. He stayed standing in the brightly lit hallway, not sure if Spike would bolt if approached, and said, "I didn't think you'd believe..."

But Spike obviously wasn't listening, despite his demand, because he interrupted, "Did you really think I'd buy that? And why did you drag me all the way out to that cemetery, anyway?"

Xander was frowning now, confused. He loosened his tie. "I thought ... you needed to see ... so you'd understand ... so you'd believe ... And when that fledge..."

Spike interrupted again, "Fledge?"

Xander glanced hopelessly at the front door, then back at Spike. "Yeah. A young vampire. One that hasn't been vamped very long." It was like Vampire 101 For Amnesiacs.

"And was I a 'fledge'?" Spike asked, apparently not noticing that he wasn't arguing the point anymore.

Xander blinked, and then walked into the living room and tentatively sat on the edge of his favorite chair. Gary was going to have to wait, even if he was the boss. He'd understand. Or something. Not about fledges, but about lateness. Xander was always on time, and everyone was late once in a while. Right?

He took a deep breath.

"No. You weren't a fledge, Spike."

"So how old was -- am -- I, then? Supposedly."

"I'm not sure. The books, I guess, said you were vamped in the 1800s."

Spike's eyebrows went up. Xander's eyes had adjusted to the darkness now, and he could see Spike's obvious disbelief and denial. "Books? You're trying to say there are books about me?"

"Well, not entirely about you, but about some of the older vamps."

"So I was supposedly one of these 'older' vampires?"

"I guess so. There were -- are -- lots older, though."

Spike's head tilted in annoyance. "Well, let's see one of these books, then."

Xander scratched his head nervously. "Um ... I don't have any. Giles has..."

"'Giles'? The school librarian?"

"Well, yeah..." Xander suddenly realized how absurd this all sounded. Was there any chance Spike was going to believe any of it? Maybe he really remembered something, bashing around in that blonde head? Maybe he would just magically decide that Xander was telling the truth, and they could dispense with the torturous grilling?

Spike's voice was nearly dripping with disbelief as he said, "So the school librarian believes in vampires."

"Yeah. We all do. The Scoobies, I mean. Vampires killed my best friend. The 'neighborhood watch' group ... we were fighting vampires."

"And I was fighting vampires, too. Despite being a vampire."

"Yeah. I mean, not at first. You were a pretty scary-ass vamp when we first met you -- you were trying to kill Buffy -- but at the end there, yeah, you were fighting the good fight. And then you got your soul..." Xander trailed off, knowing he was giving too much information and just making things sound even more like some kind of monster movie or tv show.

Spike was silent a long time, but then he said, "For argument's sake, let's say you're right. And I'm not saying that, not by a long shot, because I think you've gone completely crackers. But let's just say you're right. Let's say I was a vampire." He paused, and then continued in obvious confusion, "Then why am I not a vampire now?"

Xander watched Spike's face in the dim light. He looked lost. "I don't know," Xander admitted apologetically, wishing he had some kind of answer to give. "I'm sorry, Spike, but I just don't know."

Maybe Giles would have some answers. Maybe it was time to call him.

But somehow Xander couldn't make himself do it.

* * *

They didn't talk about the subject again, and the tension between them was palpable. The apartment was chock full of awkwardness and silence for a few weeks. But there's only so long that can continue when you're living in close quarters, and eventually they started to relax around each other again, doing small things like going out for a beer or simply watching "Charmed," which was one of their favorite ridiculously mockable shows. Second only to "Passions," in Spike's unspoken opinion.

Xander, of course, never commented on the fact that one of the reasons the show was ridiculous was because he happened to know that magic didn't work that way. He didn't think Spike was in a mood to hear about the fact that the nerdy computer whiz also happened to be a powerful witch. The high school librarian being a vampire expert had been quite enough, he figured.

Plus, he didn't want to bring the whole subject up again and send Spike storming out of the house for days on end.

Sometimes Spike even read his books -- he was reading something gigantic in Russian right now -- sitting on the couch in the living room, which Xander found somehow extremely cozy. He didn't pull out his comic books, because reading Shazam! next to Spike's Russian novels just felt embarrassing, but he still liked it, as if Spike was really making himself at home. It felt good.

They watched movie marathons every weekend with Frank and Luba ... and sometimes Xander pretended to himself that it was a double-date. He knew he was in trouble, that he was obsessed and that Spike most likely didn't feel the same way, especially now, but he liked how Spike filled a void in his life. It had been so long since he'd really cared about someone ... he'd forgotten what it was like.

This particular movie marathon was on the theme of werewolves, and Xander was once again forcefully holding his tongue -- almost literally, once or twice -- lest he make a fool of himself and cause awkwardness with Spike. Of course, he hadn't told Spike about Oz, but still. All "monsters" seemed like taboo.

Luba was popping Jiffy Pop over the stove -- she was "an old-fashioned girl," she explained -- while Frank was composing a plate of steamed dumplings, when Luba yelled from the kitchen, "So, how're the housemates? You guys have been living together for a few months now. How's it working out? You seem happy."

Spike and Xander exchanged a look and then both inexplicably burst out laughing. Trying to explain how complicated everything had been -- and continued to be -- was ludicrous to both of them.

"We're fine," Spike yelled back, making Xander look at him in curious surprise. "The flat is quite comfortable."

Luba came in with the popcorn in a big bowl and smiled. "That's good to know. I hope you get along with your landlords." She grinned.

Xander rolled his eyes. "Oh, they're so annoying! Always feeding us and showing us movies. Can't get rid of 'em!"

At that point, Frank entered the room and Xander exclaimed excitedly, "Oooh! Barbecue pork buns!", making Spike and Luba laugh.

They all sat together on Frank and Luba's large couch to start with An American Werewolf in London, and Xander noticed that his thigh was pressed up against Spike's. He didn't know if Spike noticed, but it was very distracting.

He didn't know how to recapture the easy camaraderie that they'd had before the vampire incident, but he wanted it. Badly.

He was going to have to figure out something or go insane.


They liked to go to O'Malley's on the corner to play pool. The pool table was in a quiet back room where there wasn't much traffic because there weren't any tables, so they didn't have to worry about people getting in the way to mess up their shots. It was a nice change from places like The Bronze.

Out of old habit, Xander had ordered spicy chicken wings, and Spike looked very impressed after taking a bite. "We'll have to get more of these," he mumbled around a mouthful.

Xander grinned. "Yeah, well, you always did like them."

Spike raised an eyebrow. "Vampires eat normal food, then?" Somewhere along the way, he'd relaxed about the vampire thing, primarily on the evidence in the cemetery, though he still often expressed his suspicion of Xander's assertion that Spike had been a vampire himself. He'd at least stopped the annoyingly insistent use of "supposedly" in every sentence on the topic.

Xander glanced around to see if anyone was listening -- Spike wasn't exactly being discreet -- but no one was paying them any attention. "Most vamps don't, as far as I know, but you always did. You mooched from me all the time when you lived in my basem... apartment."

Spike was nodding thoughtfully. "Can vampires live that way? On food?"

Xander shook his head. "Nope. They still need to ... uh..."

"Kill people."

"Drink blood."

"So before this whole thing started, I went around killing people." Spike didn't usually get this direct and personal about the issue, so Xander was surprised. True to form, he couldn't help but start babbling.

"Well, you got this government chip in your head, so you couldn't hurt people anymore. And then you got your soul back. Of course, when you got your soul back, you went kind of crazy -- guilt, I guess -- and The First Evil brainwashed you. Got you to kill even more people."

Spike didn't even seem to have heard the confusing first part of what Xander said, he was so fixated on the killing. "Even more people," he repeated doggedly.

"Well, yeah, but you didn't mean to do it."

"How many people you figure I meant to kill, all told?"

Xander flinched. Talking with this Spike about murder just seemed wrong. "You mean..."

Spike's face was grimly determined. "How many innocent people do you think I killed? Total. Come on ... I really want to know."

"Hell, Spike! How am I supposed to know?"

Spike just waited.

Xander sighed. "Well, you were a vamp for at least 100 years before we met you, so ... I don't know ... lots?"

"I'm thinking thousands."

The silence was uncomfortable.

"Quite a prolific serial killer, don't you think?"

Xander didn't reply, having no idea what Spike wanted him to say.

Spike continued doggedly, "So that sent me 'round the twist, first time around, eh?"

Again, only awkward silence.

Gesturing, his face tense, his eyes dark, Spike demanded, "Why would I want to remember all that again? Maybe that's why my memory's gone, so I don't have all those horrors in my head. Maybe I don't want to remember."

Xander frowned. "So you're saying you don't..."

Spike slumped, defeated, looking away. "I don't know. I want to remember what happened to me ... who I am ... but if what you've told me is true, it doesn't sound like I'm anyone I'd want to remember."

* * *

They were just leaving the pub when Spike unexpectedly pulled him into the alley that ran alongside the building. It was narrow and dark and smelled rather pungently of the contents of two large garbage dumpsters. The fog was dense and wet around them.

But a moment later, Xander was pushed up against the wall and Spike was kissing him with a desperation that spoke of strong emotion redirected. Xander couldn't help but think this was really about the conversation they'd had in the bar, and so he reluctantly pulled away to look Spike in the face.

He looked frustrated. And really really hot, despite the lingering scent of wet garbage.

"Spike, I think this might be just because we were talking about..."

Spike silenced him with another long, deep kiss, complete with a bit of grinding him against the wall, their hips working against each other in slow thrusts and circles. Xander couldn't help grinding right back ... and he forgot all about the garbage.

But he pulled away again, worried. Not wanting to take advantage. Not wanting to do something that would have Spike storming out of the apartment again tomorrow, not coming back until who knows when.

"Spike, we should probably talk..."

"I don't want to talk, Xander." And then Spike's hand was cupping him through his jeans and Xander lost all interest in pulling away or having heart-to-heart talks. His eyes closed and he breathed out a husky sigh of pleasure as Spike's hand moved, stroking him through thick denim. And then nimble fingers were at the snap, at the zipper, and then a hand was sliding inside for a more intimate caress.

Xander opened his eyes at that, looking at Spike again. His face was intent, his eyes watching Xander as if soaking in every expression, every movement, every trembling response. Xander looked him in the eyes and slipped his hands inside Spike's coat, stroking his hands slowly down Spike's chest through the soft cotton of his t-shirt. He could feel the hard peaks of Spike's nipples, and so he pinched them lightly, and then -- at Spike's encouraging noises -- harder. Spike bucked against him, pressing him tighter against the brick wall, his hand pressed between them, his fingers tightening around Xander's cock, causing Xander to groan.

A moment later, Spike's jeans were open as well and they had pushed each other's underwear out of the way sufficiently to get skin on skin. Xander didn't care that they were in an alleyway or that Spike might be emotionally vulnerable because of their earlier conversation. All rational thought had been swept away on a tide of long-denied lust. Too many movie marathons with knees bumping, too many glimpses of Spike dishevelled and shirtless in the morning, too many nights watching Spike bend over that damn pool table ... he couldn't fight it now.

He stroked Spike's cock with a tight grip, feeling the foreskin move over the thick hardness, reminding him of how Spike had looked doing the same thing in the peepshow booth. The thought should have made him ashamed, but it only increased his excitement, feeding his current arousal with memories of that unforgettable night. Just touching Spike was almost enough to make him come, especially with the images playing in his mind, the memories of all the nasty things Spike had said and done. Xander stroked faster.

Spike was breathing heavily now, and his hand on Xander's cock was tight and quick, almost painful but not quite. It seemed that he, too, was looking for quick release, for whatever reason. He leaned in for a hard, thrusting kiss, his lips almost biting in their intensity. Xander gave as good as he got, and the kiss grew increasingly heated as their hands continued to move between them. Xander's free hand snuck up to clutch the back of Spike's head as if to keep him from escaping, as if to pull him impossibly closer than they were already pressed together. Spike's hair was damp from the fog, and at the touch he moaned into Xander's mouth and his hand sped up even more.

It was all Xander could take, and he found himself pressed flat against the wall, his head flying back to connect with the bricks in a way that would probably hurt later, but right now all he could feel was the orgasm tearing through his body as Spike's hand continued to stroke him.

As he slowly recovered, he realized that his own hand had stopped moving, but that Spike's cock was still hard in his grasp. Determined to return the favor, he resumed his stroking, whispering hoarsely, "I want to make you come just like that. So hard you can't see straight."

Spike moaned, "Yeah. Make me come. Like that. Faster."

And so Xander sped up his strokes, feeling Spike's body begin to tremble slightly, hearing his breathing become increasingly uneven. He leaned in for another prolonged kiss, never stopping the movement of his hand, and Spike stiffened. His cock began throbbing heavily in Xander's hand, and then he came, pulling away from their kiss in order to groan loudly. When his orgasm had finished, he slumped forward, his forehead coming to rest against Xander's shoulder. The moment of weakness was brief, though, and soon he was upright again, and they were pulling their hands out of each other's pants, tucking their cocks away, and looking for something to wipe their hands on. They both ended up having to settle for their shirts.

Spike was having trouble meeting Xander's eyes, which suddenly made Xander even more certain that this had been a bad idea, and that Spike was most likely regretting the whole thing and planning to leave the apartment for days -- if not weeks -- on end.

But then Spike stepped forward, keeping his hands at his sides, and kissed Xander slowly. When he pulled away, Xander smiled at him, relieved, and stepped forward himself to slide his hands back inside Spike's coat to enjoy his warmth and the feel of his muscles beneath soft cloth. He initiated a langorous post-orgasmic kiss that sent subtle shivers all through his body.

When he pulled away this time, Spike was smiling, too.

"All right, then," he said smugly.

And then they walked home.

* * *

They were lying on the lush grass at the park after weeks of the unrelenting drizzling fog, lying out in a brief afternoon of sunshine, when Xander finally asked something that had been nagging at him. They weren't talking, just lying there gazing up at a brilliant summer-like sky, so the question sort of came, literally, out of the blue.

"Why do you work there?"

Spike turned to look at him, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, his hair almost white in the sunlight. "What ... the library?" he asked innocently.

Xander could feel his face burning as he grumbled, "No. The other one."

"My, aren't we coy? 'The other one,' eh? Well, I've gotta earn money somehow, put Cheet-ohs on the table and whatnot."

"But why that?"

Spike shrugged. "Not a lot of jobs'll hire blokes without the proper paperwork, all official-like. Best I've got's a fake I.D., and that won't get you far."

"So ... wait ... oh ... you don't have a social security number or anything, do you?"

Spike touched his nose and pointed at Xander. "Got it in one."

"That's why you work there?"

Spike puffed up his chest a bit. "That and I'm good at the work."

Xander looked away, hoping to hide a guilty expression that might betray his knowledge of how very true that statement was.

Xander took a deep breath and let it out. It was time to do something he'd been dreading. He looked at Spike again.

"What if I knew somebody who could help out with the paperwork thing?"

Spike looked at him, then lowered the sunglasses to peer over the rim. "You offering to make up some unlawful identification materials, good little Xander?"

Xander frowned. "Well, it's just ... I know somebody..."

Spike grinned and shrugged. "I'm in." Then he settled his sunglasses back on the bridge of his nose and lay back on the grass again, gazing up at the sunny blue sky.

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