Manifestation by Lazuli Kat



Chapter 17 Attempts

A few blocks from the Woodbury Chapel, Xander parked up and turned to his granite-faced companion.

“Want to get it out of your system?”




“Petulant on top of neurotic isn’t a pretty sight, Baby, want to…”

“Don’t call me that,” Spike finally snapped.  “You’re rushing back to see her and…”

“No, I’m not,” Xander protested.

“And don’t call me petulant, I am not fucking petulant!”

“What would you call it then?  You can’t be jealous because it’s not about Marcie, you can’t be…  Are you angry?  Hurt?  ‘Cause I freaked over the attachment thing again?”

“You’re not going to see her?”

Xander took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he mentally picked over the minefield of words he was about to stumble through.

“If she’s there, I can’t be rude and avoid her.  I do kinda owe her an apology and—  Stop growling, however quiet you think you’re being I can still hear you.”

“She’s the one that owes the apology.  Knows you five minutes and jumps you.”

“It wasn’t like that.  And how do you know I didn’t jump her?”

“Because you looked so shocked about the whole business.  And I don’t think you’re sleazy enough to start it, even if you are sleazy enough to accept the offer.”

“I wouldn’t have…”

“Because of me, you wouldn’t have.  Why can’t you say it?”

“Y’know, I can barely believe it of myself, but I think I preferred you arrogant and expecting me to fall at your feet rather than panicking over some woman who means nothing to me.”

“That’s right, a hot, wet cunt, no complications about being male, or a demon…”

“Not that again,” Xander groaned.  “Have you been brainwashed?  Someone recently managed to convince you that your demonic self is plain icky?”

Icky?” Spike repeated contemptuously.  “Not recently, no.”

“Then why all this crap?  If I’m the not recently and you’re trying to second guess me you’re getting it all wrong, ‘cause since I managed to get my head outta my ass and apparently made room for yours—  And – and…eww, there’s a visual you don’t want to touch.  And I’ve told you this before, and…  Since…  Uh…  Where was I?”

“Fuck knows.”

“Yeah, let’s see the old Spike, okay?  The one who’d proudly get on a table and sing I Am What I Am, and after the last couple of hours we’re talking about in context.”  Spike cocked an eyebrow and Xander stared for a moment before performing a cartoon shake of the head.  “That’s fucking hot too, damn you and your damn, damned sexy self.  It can’t be natural to want anyone this much but once we get into bed tonight I hope you’re not planning on getting out of it again for anything less than Armageddon.”

“Or to periodically talk you back to the sane place.”

“It was only a teeny freak out this time, you have to admit.  Teeeeny.”  Nothing from Spike.  “Okay, you don’t have to admit.”

“Why are you going back?” Spike attempted a return to the pertinent subject.

“To say hi and – ‘cause I know it’s what you want – goodbye; to thank Jo for being so kind; specifically to speak to Erik.  Jo gave me his phone number and I called him this morning when you were asleep, but I need to be with him to…”


“Drive?  Oh, drive.”  Xander started the car.  “Driving.”

“You should have said it was for him.”

“And then what?  You’d be all ‘Oh, my, God, you must be gay and due to your extremely gay gayness you don’t want me you want some guy who means as little to you as Marcie even though I’m a guy and I’m so hot and I like the gayness better than Erik ever would and you don’t want me!’”  Xander whooped in a breath.  “And then you’d cry, and then you’d kill me, and Angel would probably give you a medal but the world would plummet into inter-dimensional war and then you’d blame my dead self for that too.”


“Barely started, Baby.  Oooh, naughty Xandman.  Sorry, Mr Armitage, wasn’t calling you baby, it was a mere slip of the death wish.”

Spike turned in his seat to stare at Xander.

“This?” he demanded of himself in bewilderment.  This is my choice?”

“Choice?” Xander asked, with an accompanying bounce.  “Choice rather than…settling for me ‘cause I’m convenient?”

“An hour ago I could have answered that unequivocally.”

“You went off me in an hour?”

“Don’t underestimate yourself: I went off you in five minutes.”

“’Ka-a-ay,” Xander fake sobbed before snapping to a smile.  “I’ll have to find someone to comfort me.”

“Try that and you’ll also need to find someone to resuscitate you.”

“I did that once, did you know?  Saved Buffy with CPR while Angel stood around being useless and generally dead.  And did I mention useless?  The audience totally went wild for living, breathing, oxygenating me.”

“Deadist.  You said you weren’t.”

“Angelist.  I can’t help myself.  Old news.”  Xander turned the Mustang into the chapel’s parking lot and found an empty bay.  “Unlike the realisation that auto-erotic asphyxiation does nothing for a vampire.”

“You could try it.  Depending on how it went I could either watch and wank, or shag your rapidly cooling corpse.”

“Nine-one-one versus necrophilia.  I can see your dilemma.”

Xander was about to leave the car when Spike caught his forearm and drew him back, speaking softly.

“Try not to get too involved tonight.  I saw how that last connection with Erik’s grandfather left you.  Stop letting this hurt you, eh?”

“Thank you,” Xander told him sincerely.  “I can’t make any promises but…thank you.”  A brief kiss to the vampire’s cheek and Xander was gone.  As Spike followed he caught Marcie’s scent from one of the cars and paused; he was grateful that the desire to eviscerate her and leave her mutilated remains out for the crows had, at least, lessened.  He felt better for it.

Well, that, and petulantly slashing all of her tyres.

It was, naturally, sod’s law that dictated Xander would be giving Marcie a consoling hug as Spike strolled in.  Luckily, post-vandalism, Spike’s frame of mind had swung from insecure to belligerently supercilious and Xander’s anxious glances over Marcie’s shoulder were met with a damned sexy raised eyebrow and a knowing smirk.

The woman’s body language was easily readable to Spike – contrite and embarrassed – and he felt indisputable sympathy for her awful situation now he was reassured that any further advances toward Xander would be rejected.  Everything would be perfectly amiable.  Providing she came nowhere near him all evening.

David greeted Spike and they spent a while discussing the other chapels in their group; Spike wanted to move on, and Xander would let him take them away from Woodbury.  Now all that was required was another location where Xander could keep his head down but still find a little comfort and support from the kind of people he needed around him.  Although David unwittingly helped him make his decision, Spike was too guarded to mention where they’d be going next, and the conversation ended as the night’s session began.

Xander took Erik away to a private area, gesturing for Spike to stay in the main hall when he started to follow.  Spike tried to enjoy the proceedings as he would have in years past, before Xander, but once again found himself either bored because certain mediums weren’t as good as Xander, or finding fault because there was the slightest danger that others might have been better.


The night drew to a close and still no Xander.  Spike stretched out in the back row and concentrated: he could actually pick Xander’s heartbeat out from all those around him, and it sounded fine, calm; the men were probably just talking, no excessive stress on Xander, no  need for Spike to gallantly race to the rescue of a wilting medium and score a few extra popularity points.

“Spike?”  Gold eyes emerged and flickered back to blue in a split second before the vampire looked up to find Marcie’s nervous form beside him.  “May I…?”  She gestured toward the bench beside him, and sat before he had a chance to turn her away.

“I’m not in the mood for you,” he told her with blunt honesty and astonishing restraint.

“I appreciate that.  But I have to apologise…”  Marcie hesitated as Spike snorted in amusement, but pressed on.  “I had no idea that you and Xander were…were…together – are together.  In fact, Jo assured me…”

“You’re digging yourself in deeper, you know that, don’t you?  Bad enough that you betray your bloke by throwing yourself at Xander, but the fact you’d already checked if you had a free run at him…”

“It wasn’t like that.”

“And even if you can’t wait to pull the plug on your old man, that doesn’t give you any right to take advantage of Xander when he’s vulnerable.  A reading that intense and he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow afterwards.”  Not entirely true but Spike was actually managing to convince himself and he liked that.  “Look at us.  You and me.  Think if he was in his right mind he’d look twice at you with me waiting for him?”  Marcie’s pale eyes brimmed with tears and Spike revelled in her unhappiness, applying it as a balm to his hurt feelings of the previous evening.  “Tell you what.  Why don’t you just piss off now and leave me alone before I feel the need to raise my voice in front of all of your lovely friends.  Not everyone needs to know what a slapper you are.”  A shaky nod and Marcie rose.  “Cliff knows, of course.  But I expect you realised that.”

Spike grinned spitefully as he watched the woman rush away to weep in private, letting his expression naturally transform into warm and welcoming as Xander finally emerged with a rather worse for wear Erik.  Xander gave a final comforting rub to the man’s back and, after a final prolonged shake of the hand, seemed to turn instinctively in Spike’s direction, feet already on their way to the rendezvous before the eye had settled on its target.

“Hey,” as Xander sat alongside Spike, moving in close and leaning shoulder to shoulder.

“How’d it go?”

“More counselling than a reading, but I think I might’ve helped him so…worthwhile.”  Xander paused awkwardly.  “Spike…  What you saw earlier, that was simply more comfort, Marcie was feeling bad and…”

“You’re a kind bloke, Xander, I understand.”

“You do?  Well, of course you do, you’re too smart to feel threatened.  No need to give anyone a hard time.  You…er…didn’t give anyone a hard time, right?”

“I had a nice chat with David, half-a-dozen words with Jo in passing, watched some crap mediums and missed you.  Such was my night.”

“They’re not crap.”

“Compared to you.”

“You have a kinky thing for me, you’re not a credible witness.”

“You were just telling me how smart I am.”

“And you have to be a little more selective over which of my lies you choose to believe.”  The entirety of what Spike had said sank in; Xander’s fingers lightly rubbed Spike’s thigh.  “You missed me?”

“Can we get out of here now?  Say your goodbyes and…”

Xander was already on his feet and heading toward the cluster of Woodbury stalwarts that he’d got to know during this brief stay; Spike rose too, not bothering with formal farewells and settling for a casual wave as he strolled to the side exit that led directly into the parking lot, slouching against the doorframe and scenting the night air, unconsciously, and then consciously, listening for any rumbles that were nothing to do with the threatening storm.


Before long a figure against his back nudged him outside and into the shadows between shrubs and building; Xander’s hands kept Spike in place, encouraging him to lean into the warmth of a broad chest, all the while exploring the vampire’s torso, finally squeezing into the front pockets of tight jeans.

“You really think I’m sexy?” Xander asked.  “Memo to Angel, remember?”  Spike nodded.  “Yes, I’m sexy, or yes, you remember?”


Spike’s hands, which until now had been dangling at his sides, reached back and gripped Xander’s hips, pulling their bodies tight together.  He gave a shiver as Xander’s breath fluttered over his neck.

“How much do you want me, Spike?  Just how much?”

About to provide a suitably flattering reply, Spike caught himself and took a moment pondering the curiosity that was Xander Harris, and what this was likely to be about.  He set the lust aside and sighed.

“All right.  Where do you want to go now?”

“This isn’t…”

“Of course it is.

“No, I—  Yeah, okay, but couldn’t you pretend I had you fooled?  Maybe I’d like to think you’d do something for me because I could seduce you into it.”

Spike tugged the hands from his pockets and turned in the circle of Xander’s arms, staring uncompromisingly into the sharp brown eye.

“And maybe I’d like to be consulted, not conned.”

“Is that how it came over?  Like a con?  My seductive wiles are just a con?”

“You want to go somewhere, you tell me.  You want to fuck me into this wall, that’s the time for your seductive wiles.”

Spike oomphed as he was forced up against the brickwork, Xander’s thigh pushing between his legs, allowing them intimately close; Xander’s teeth scraped over Spike’s jaw and the vampire groaned in approval at his treatment.

“Right here, huh?  You, me and the wall?”  An affirmative growl and Xander’s heavy-handed treatment softened, the man falling still as his lips touched Spike’s for the briefest moment.  “Not me, is it?”

“Could be,” Spike encouraged, eyes shot with gold, glittering in the darkness.

“No.  Not while I have the need to stop and make sure your back’s okay where you hit the wall.”

“My back’s okay; short of decapitation or a stake to the heart, anything you do to me will mend.”

“See…  This is where we’re not all the same.  It hurt me – a little, irritating hurt, not a vast, wounded hurt – when you said we’re all the same.  No violence as foreplay, not from me, I can’t do it.”

“The times you’ve thumped me…”

“Weren’t about sex.”


“Weren’t about you and me and sex between us,” Xander clarified.  “I’d hit you again if I thought you deserved it, but it wouldn’t be about you and me and sex between us.”  The first of the raindrops rattled against the leaves of an overhanging tree branch; Xander cupped the back of Spike’s head to keep it away from the wall as he pressed a gentle kiss to Spike’s mouth.  “You have until we get back to the motel to figure out what a disappointment I’m going to be to you.  But I won’t betray myself.  I won’t do anything to you that will need to mend, not when it’s supposed to be about having fun.”

Spike nodded his understanding of Xander’s position, even though he was more than a little perplexed.

“I told you I didn’t need it rough.”

“See…that’s another irritation I can’t seem to…”

“You don’t believe me?”

“I’m concerned you may be betraying your true self too.”

“Just to get my end away?”

“Why not?  Worse lies have been told for less.”

“What did you think would happen tonight?  We’d get back to our room and I’d expect you to turn into a sexual sadist?”

“We’d get back to our room and have sex and you’d be frustrated.”

Spike adamantly shook his head.

“I’ll never ask you to do anything you can’t handle, and I’ll be happy with anything I get.”

“God, you’re so…convincing.”

“Then be convinced.”

“I don’t want you to be disappointed, and I want to be able to live with myself afterwards.  I keep trying to figure out if the two are mutually compatible.”

“I’m astounded.  That I matter so much.”

“Of course you matter,” Xander insisted, “you…  Damn, no, remind me.”

Spike frowned until the reference fell into place.

“It’s over when it’s over,” Spike offered in a distinctly artificial tone.

“Say it like you mean it.”

“How about we get out of the rain?”

“Why won’t you say it?”

“Fucks the ambience; now, shift your increasingly soaked arse before I pick you up and throw you in the trunk.”

“If it’s just sex then why worry about ambience?”

Spike made a move as if to lift Xander and successfully sent him hurrying toward the car.  Spike watched him go and seethed about the ‘over when it’s over’, wondering about attempting a little more of the ungilded honesty that Xander insisted he liked but didn’t always…like.

To Xander’s surprise, Spike suggested they drop in at the club they’d visited on Wednesday night; with relish he recalled the sense of freedom and agreed immediately.  It never occurred to him that Spike had decided that discussions about rough sex and imminent disappointment indicated a severe case of cold feet, and that without a few drinks inside him to loosen him up, Xander would back out of any promised sexual encounter, however enthusiastic he had appeared earlier.

The venue was more crowded this time, being a Friday night, but Xander didn’t feel the need to escape Spike and subsequently avoided being squashed in the midst of the dancers.  They spent the next hour in pleasant conversation, imbibing more than Xander noticed, and he had no idea of what an appealing character he was, inebriated and playful.  Propped up at the rear of the dance floor while Spike revisited the bar, Xander semi-danced alone, but fully smiled at anyone who caught his eye, happy enough when a rather nice man paused to chat for the time it took for Spike to return.

“Did he hit on you?” Spike demanded as he plonked their drinks down on a nearby ledge.

“No, of cour—  Oh.  Wow.  Wow.  I think he might’ve.  You think—”  Xander fixed Spike with a wavering suspicious look.  “Did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Ask him to hit on me?”

“If I’d asked him to I wouldn’t be about to track him down and remove his spinal cord.”


“Don’t lecture me about…”


The pure desire in Xander’s voice chased away any thought of retribution, and Spike smiled in satisfaction at the knowledge he’d got at least one thing right.

“I knew it.  I knew you went for the whole revenge for my honey gig.”

Xander fumbled over Spike’s belt but eventually found enough of a hold to drag the vampire close.

“You wouldn’t do it,” Xander smiled dreamily.  “I like the sentiment so long as you don’t follow through with the…the spinal cordal removaling.”

“I’ll do whatever makes you want me.”

“Right now?  Your presence in the state is probably enough.”

Spike rocked his hips against Xander’s, smugly noting the heat of the man’s arousal.

“You going to change your mind?”

Xander made himself a little space and started to pat down his pockets.

“Nope.  Didn’t bring my mind with me, no chance of getting it changed.  And did we keep the receipt?”  Dissolving into laughter at his own inane joke, Xander flung his arms around Spike.  “My bloke,” he declared, just as Spike had referred to him on their previous visit, following the statement with a copycat kiss.  “’Kay, just here, in here, the club.  My bloke.”  Xander’s lips dragged over Spike’s skin, cheek to mouth, and the giggly, imprecise kiss that followed felt like one of the best Spike had ever received, flavoured by beer and affection and honest lust.  “Betcha wanna get back to that motel room, don’t ya, Spike?”

“Yes,” Spike groaned against Xander’s flushed skin, expecting to be teased as everything he was fixated on was withheld, Xander deciding to dance the next two hours away.  But…

“Me too.”  And Xander’s kisses suddenly meant business, giggly and imprecise morphing to seriously demanding.  “Wasn’t enough.”



“Having you once.”  Xander gently bit Spike’s neck, and it wasn’t coincidence that he chose the spot where, on his own neck, there was a curious scar that drove him crazy when Spike got anywhere near it.  Feeling Spike involuntarily jerk against him gave Xander the courage to ask the question that had wiped out every other scrap of conscious thought.  “Can I fuck you again?  Please, Spike, please, Baby, can I?  I won’t panic, I won’t change my mind, I won’t…won’t…oh, God, please, Spike?”

“You don’t have to ask,” Spike promised.

“Really?  Good.  That’s good.”

Xander very deliberately took Spike’s hand and led him on a weaving path through the club to the entrance, battling through the tide of newcomers, and they were so preoccupied with how the night would progress that neither of them noticed two men who were watching them with a darn sight more than idle interest.


Outside in the parking lot, Xander found a new wall to pin Spike against, caught between laughter and lust as Spike turned them, and was turned, until they rolled along the wall in a blur of kisses and groping.  Coming to a disorganised halt alongside the Mustang, they fell onto the hood, Xander somehow managing to get inside the duster and make a start on the loosening of certain items of clothing; it was only a coarse, derogatory comment from a passing club-goer that forced Spike out of the embrace and into killing mode, Xander grabbing and clinging to the furious vampire in a bid to stop the loud-mouthed idiot from getting the kind of beating that he probably deserved.

“Let it go, Spike, c’mon, better things to think of,” Xander coaxed Spike’s attention away from a potential victim and back toward a potential lover.

“He insulted you.”

“I don’t care.”


“I don’t care.  What does he matter?  Let’s go finish what we started, huh?  Maybe…” Xander managed to pull Spike’s head around, kissing him persuasively until the body beneath his hands lost a little of its tension.  “Maybe the parking lot isn’t the best place for this anyhow.  How good does bed sound?  Bed?  Me?  You?”

Spike nodded and kissed Xander hard, and the restraining grip loosened.

“I’ll drive,” Spike insisted.

“Well, yeah, I’m not completely insane.  Do you ever get really drun—”

Free of Xander’s hold, Spike dashed off after the man who was soon to regret making his smart-arse comments; Xander leaned on the car’s roof and groaned with frustration, resting his head on his arms and pretending that there was nothing about this scenario that turned him on, nothing at all cool about having your over-protective joke boyfriend beating up some lout for calling you unimaginative homophobic names.  And that would be the utterly gorgeous joke boyfriend he was going to fall into bed with within the next thirty minutes and hopefully have painless, non-disappointing, mind-blowing sex with.  And somehow manage not to become emotionally attached to despite the over-protectiveness and mind-blowing sex and excessive consideration, because leaving and possessing and brooches didn’t change the fact that Spike was for him at every turn and Xander saw that, and…why would anyone reject Spike or abandon him or…

“Thank you, Dru, and thank you, thank you, Buffy,” Xander sighed, the silliest grin on his hidden face.

A touch to his back and he tried his best to change his expression to disapproving, but Spike knew him well enough to guess it was all a front so why bother?  A game, yes, and Xander would need to be won over: scared of the vampire’s instincts and frightened for his physical and emotional safety but seduced by his – no, thralled, thralled by…  Damn.  Damn, he hoped Spike liked to play games.

Xander straightened up – face and body – and turned to meet his avenger, only to find himself roughly seized, both arms pinned, a foul-smelling cloth forced over his nose and mouth.  Panic kicked in and the instant surge of adrenalin cleared his alcohol-fuzzed, sex-focused brain, allowing him to snap back to Sunnydale mentality, remembering all the advice and experiences that made him not the easy take he might have appeared.

No breathing, as far as possible, he recalled that, and he fought against the whooping breaths he was desperate to take; pretend to be affected – not difficult as the fumes he’d already inhaled began to blur the edges – and he began to relax his body as if he were verging on passing out; wait for the guys trying to knock you out to be fooled, and Xander thought he might suffocate first, but there it was, the change in how he was being held as he pretended to let himself slip into unconsciousness: restraint became unnecessary, leaving the men to support him by the upper arms, leaving the lower hanging free.

With a sharp move stolen from Buffy’s repertoire, Xander abruptly swung his fists up, striking both men in the lower face, giving himself a vital few seconds head start as he stumbled then raced in pursuit of Spike, shouting at the top of his voice as he went.  A responding roar came a split-second before a Mexican wave of frightened shrieks and Xander could practically plot Spike’s demonically-faced progress in his direction, he only hoped that Spike was faster than the men who…brought him down with a clumsy tackle, dragging his arms behind his back to be bound with a plastic tie and forcing him onto to his feet, slapping tape across his mouth and doing their best to rush him to the parking lot, wary now of every twist and turn, every renewed struggle.

Xander found himself back on the ground as Spike took out the man to his left with a punch to the back of his head that should have killed a human; a synchronised boot to the other man’s thigh sent him reeling, swiftly followed by a kick to the jaw that snapped his head back to a nauseating angle.  Having struggled to his knees, Xander was snatched up and liberated from the tape…

“You okay?”


“They hurt you?”


…although the plastic tie around his wrists would have to wait.  Spike bundled Xander into the Mustang, leaping behind the wheel and almost hitting Xander’s rapidly recovering would-be abductors as he reversed out of the bay and hurtled from the lot with a screech of protesting tyres.

Driving one-handed, Spike pulled a knife from his boot and waited until Xander had shuffled around in his seat and was able to present his bound wrists; a moment of sawing and the plastic tie abruptly parted, Xander hissing as he was nicked by the blade.

“Did I get you?” Spike frowned as he snatched a look.

“It’s nothing, just watch where you’re going.”  A stiff nod and Spike’s grip tightened on the steering wheel as he peered through the windshield into the night.  Xander strained to see out of the rear window, spotting headlights in the distance but having no way of knowing if it was the men who attacked him, or anyone else on the road.  “Why this direction?” Xander asked, hating that they’d lost the last of the town’s illumination.

“Other way was jammed.  Besides, if this comes to a showdown, I don’t want to break any necks in front of an audience.”

The distant lights disappeared, and Xander settled back into his seat, licking the cut on his hand.

“I think you’ve outrun them.  If they were awake enough to come after us.”

“They’d be awake.”  Xander shot a questioningly look.  “I don’t think they’re entirely human,” Spike answered.  “Get any impressions?”

“I didn’t even see them.  But they must appear human: no-one reacted to them.  Not like you in the club.”

“Hear that, did you?” Spike grinned.

“You catch up with that guy?”



“Nothing a month in traction won’t put right.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

A pause, but no lecture.

“You’re not going to tell me off?”

“You are such a bad influence on me,” Xander muttered, and Spike’s grin widened.

The vehicle that almost barged them off the road seemed to come out of nowhere: one moment they were alone, the next there was a mighty, juddering thud as the Mustang lurched and skidded and Spike furiously battled to keep it on course.  Xander belatedly fumbled for his seatbelt, hesitating as he debated ‘through the windshield and torn to shreds’ versus ‘trapped in a crashed and blazing car wreck’ before realising he’d watched way too much ER over the years and clicking the belt into place.

“Get into the back,” Spike ordered.  “Behind me, and hold on tight.”


“They’re ramming your—”

To prove Spike’s point, Xander’s side of the car took another hit, and Xander threw off the belt, tilted his seat, and scrambled into the rear.

“Why can’t we see anything?”

“We’ll worry about that after…”  Spike slammed his foot on the brakes, letting the other car overshoot them and flinging the Mustang into a tight turn, Xander ending up flat on the seat and clinging to the cushions.  “Xander.  Look back now.”

Xander shakily pulled himself up and stared out the window.

“Nothing.  There’s…”  The headlights of a car coming in the opposite direction lit the road for just long enough.  “No, wait, it’s a big SUV, all blacked out, weird kind of matt black.”

“They coming after us?”

“I don’t know, can’t see them now.  They didn’t seem to be moving.”

“There’s a bunch of cars coming our way; perhaps they don’t want witnesses either.”

The lights from the passing vehicles gave Xander the chance for a good look, and he was left completely bemused.

“They’ve gone.  Just…gone.”

“Gone, eh?  We’ll see.”


Back in Woodbury, Spike chose a quiet side street and parked up, waiting in silence to see if the SUV drove past, knowing it would have been too far behind to spot him turning off the main road.  Nothing.  Xander crawled into the front of the car and adjusted his seat, watching too.  Still nothing.

When half-an-hour had passed, Spike nosed the Mustang forward, checking to see if the SUV was waiting for them, but there was no sign of it and he exchanged a glance with Xander before cautiously driving back to the motel.

Spike was talking but Xander wasn’t listening.  He stood staring at the damage done to the Mustang and he could have cried.

“Have you heard a word?” Spike asked as he came to his side.  Xander simply shook his head, too choked to speak.  “It can be fixed, Petal.  Firm’ll pick up the bill, you don’t have to worry about that.”  Xander shrugged.  “Listening now?”  Nod.  “We’re getting out of here and going back to that Gothic monstrosity, stay there tonight, move on at dusk tomorrow.  We’ll leave the Mustang there to be collected, take the company car.”

“Won’t we be sitting targets at the house?” Xander asked hoarsely.  “Not a great reputation for longevity, remember?”

“If they follow us there I can finish this in private.  At least we’ll be armed: there’s a good stock of weapons on the premises.”

“You know that for sure?”

“Yeah, and there’s a subterranean back door.”  Xander gave another brief nod then headed inside to start packing.  “I won’t leave your side,” Spike assured when he joined him, “if there are problems with the voices.”

“I should be fine.  And I did want to—”  Xander came to an abrupt halt and looked over to where Spike was lounging in the doorway.  “What you said – the not entirely human – too much of a coincidence for them not to be linked with Dead Guy?”

“Be a bloody big coincidence under the circumstances, wouldn’t it?  Only thing that doesn’t make sense is their incompetence.”

“Yeah, I thought that.  It was all too easy.  We got away too easily.  At the club, or on the road, either.  Too easy.”

“And now it seems that the present idea isn’t to kill us off…”

“But to take me,” Xander concluded grimly.

“Might mean there’re two factions here: one that has it’s own reason for needing to talk to Dead Guy, and one that wants him left dead and dumb.  Whatever, I can protect you better at the house.  Let’s just…get on with it.”

“Yeah,” Xander agreed quietly, feeling his vulnerability acutely; he went back to his packing, swearing to himself when he snagged and reopened the cut.  It proved to be exactly the distraction he needed.

Xander wondered if Spike could smell the blood across the room, wondered if he remembered how it tasted from the scent.  He didn’t want to ask.  He wanted to know without asking, he wanted to know Spike, however imprudent a step that would be, a step that rang of serious what iffing.  He turned and held out his hand, offering, almost frightened to look at Spike’s face, not wanting reticence, not wanting concern, not wanting…  Spike was there, holding Xander’s hand, stroking the fingers and kissing the palm before licking the bleeding heel.  Xander nudged and there was a freeze-frame moment before Spike’s mouth covered the minor wound and he began to suckle.

Head down, Xander witnessed the first stirrings of the vampire’s arousal, felt the renewal of his own as he relished having such an effect on Spike, and, once again he didn’t know, but he didn’t give a damn if it was a common occurrence, happening every time Spike tasted blood from source, this was here and now and them and…

Convenience was at long last given the boot as the brim of capitulation was teetered upon.  Not only was the Dead Guy event likely to kill him off, but now it seemed like the pre-show entertainment involved possible kidnapping, probable murder, and Xander was finally able to take the danger seriously.  What Spike hadn’t been saying directly was more telling than what he’d openly shared; heaven and hell only mattered so much when the transition date was set.

They really were going to die.

So Xander had little to lose.

Perhaps he could enjoy these final Earthly moments with Spike because there would be no time afterward for regrets, not in the physical at least, and in spirit he could take however long he needed to recover without the pressures of this life being the crushing responsibility he feared every time he was tempted to say yes to Spike’s advances.

Maybe not complete capitulation, but this much gave him comfort, helped him be calm, lessened the fears about attachment.  Nothing like feeling your mortality to help put your priorities in order.  Debateable whether he should let Spike know of this minor major revelation.  Debateable, not because of the outward Spike who was growing progressively more appealing, but because of the inward demon who felt compelled to own.  Xander wanted to be wanted but couldn’t cope with the thought of being owned, and he certainly didn’t want to provoke demony-Spike in any way, or appear to be taunting him with something he couldn’t have: Spike really deserved better than that.  ‘Kay, no telling Spike that the freaking out over attachment was very possibly a thing of the past, just showing Spike he was special, trusted, desirable.  A friend.  An increasingly good and true friend.  After their past, very little could be more emotionally rewarding than that.

Calmer, happier, adrenalin giving way to alcohol, the warm fuzzies were definitely making a comeback and reminding Xander of promises made at the club, frantic kisses in a parking lot.  Manoeuvring closer, Xander nuzzled Spike’s neck, free hand making a tentative approach and lightly brushing the, by now, solid lump in Spike’s jeans.  A tiny noise of satisfaction escaped Spike, but his head rose and the dazed expression lasted only seconds.

“We have to leave,” he whispered, not deflecting the touches, eyes closing as he enjoyed the attention.  “I want to get you somewhere safe.  Safer, at least.  Not sticking around here to have you stolen away from me mid-shag.”

“Tell me again why we’re doing this,” Xander murmured.

“’Cause I’m fucking hot and you want to give me a good seeing to?”

“Mmm, yeah…er…no, the other.”

“Oh.  That.  Saving the world from inter-dimensional war.”


“Preserving mankind.”


“Creating an environment where self-sacrificing mediums and demons can fuck at length and with impunity.”

“That’s the one, that’s the deal-clincher.”

Xander took a deep breath and stood back, fingers itching to resume their previous pursuit.  The sight of Spike licking his lips drew him in for one fast but intense kiss, then it was reluctantly back to business as they gathered their belongings.

Spike couldn’t put his finger on the difference, but there was…a difference.  Even accepting the manner in which their relationship had rapidly progressed, crashing against the self-preserving walls Xander had erected was a common occurrence, but now…  Maybe it was because of the kidnap attempt, Xander needing Spike more, needing that elusive ‘safety’ he provided, or maybe…maybe…  No.  He couldn’t put his finger on it.

Xander was proving better at putting his fingers on things; during the car ride he didn’t hesitate to place a hand on Spike’s thigh, aimlessly stroking, maintaining the contact, squeezing once in an oddly non-sexual way when he turned to give Spike a preoccupied half-smile that reflected, frustratingly for Spike, absolutely nothing of what was going on in that unexpectedly complicated head.

“Talk to me?” Spike had eventually asked.

“Nothing to say,” Xander had shockingly responded before going on to say nothing.


On their previous visit the house had been a novelty, now the very sight of it suggested security; Xander took a more discerning look at the dense, impenetrable walls before paying attention to the leaded windows and noticing that, although they looked as authentic as the old stones surrounding them, they were perfectly aged and distressed modern copies, made from materials specifically designed to keep intruders and missiles out.

He let himself in while Spike drove the Mustang around the side of the house to the garage, and a rush of spiritual activity swamped him as he walked into the hallway.

“Hello Em,” he smiled as he took their bags into the living room, feeling the woman keeping with him, knowing the children wouldn’t be far behind.  “Reginald,” he acknowledged the man by the fireplace, feeling Saul’s presence very strongly as his guide intervened before Xander could be overwhelmed by the speedily mounting volume of messages from the spirits.  Xander looked around as he felt the children arrive, and he knelt to their level, watching as they slowly became visible, developing layer by layer until they seemed quite solid to him.  “And you would be…    Albert.  And…?    Louise - Louisa.  Hello.    No, don’t…!”

The children melted away as Spike arrived.

“Your car’s tucked away, nice and safe.  I’ll get someone to pick it up and…  What?”

“I was talking to the children.  You…”  And he made a vague fists to wide-fingered gesture that apparently represented their disappearance.

“Sorry about that, but I wouldn’t have known, would I?”

“No, you wouldn’t,” Xander agreed.  “You don’t have to be so defensive.”

Accepting that with a nod, Spike sauntered over to Xander, grinning cheekily and drumming his fingers on his fly.

“While you’re down there…”

“I’m down here getting myself up, not getting you up”

Xander stuck out a hand and Spike took it, lifting him into an embrace.

“How are you?” Spike asked, arms firmly around Xander’s waist.

“I’m absolutely fine.”

“Not bothered by…”  Spike twitched his head in the direction of the dining room.  “You did say that ghost was a bit nasty.”

“Not bothered.  Providing the nasty is a bit and not uber I can cope.”  Xander leaned in and gave Spike the merest touch of a kiss.  “Do we have to check this place out?  Or…  We are safe here, aren’t we?”

“It’s the best temporary measure and safe, yes.  You can feel safe.”

“What’s the best non-temporary measure?  Beyond this all being over?”

“Being out of sight.  Y’know, that low profile nonsense I keep on about and you keep ignoring.”

“This time tomorrow we’ll be somewhere new, and I promise…”

“No.  Don’t,” Spike smiled.  “You’ll take the fun out of this if you start behaving.”  Xander returned the smile wearily, hugging Spike and letting him take both their weight for a moment.  “I need to set a couple of alarms, check we’re sun-proof for the morning,” Spike told him.  “You get to bed.”

“I’ll be asleep before you get there if you take longer than two minutes.  I’d forgotten how the scary stuff tires me out.  In Sunnydale I used to sleep like the dead; ironic when you consider that I was one of the few inhabitants who wasn’t dead at any point.”

“Then sleep.”

“But…  I need you, Spike, and I thought you…”

“I’ll still be here when you wake up.”

Xander leaned back and scrutinized Spike closely, a suspicious frown creasing his brow.

“You’re being way too nice.  Again.  Too patient.”

“Yeah, yeah, all of that.  Now, go to bed.”

“You’re not going to wake me up like you did last night?”

“Want me to?” Spike enquired lightly, but the gleam in his eye gave him away.


The gleam faded.


“You know what was wrong last night?  And don’t look like that.  God, Spike, how can you be so…so…fragile?

“I’m not.”

“You are.  And neurotic.  I notice you didn’t even try to deny neurotic earlier.”

“I’ll give you neurotic, yes.  Losing the soul’s a piece of cake, getting the bugger back…”

Spike sighed and Xander stroked a single finger over the vampire’s breastbone.

“I get that.  Can’t really imagine, but…I get that.  Dealing with something new and huge.  Been there.”

“I’ve had no-one to talk to about…anything.  No-one I’ve chosen to talk to for a long time.”

“Well…  I’m here now.”

“Yeah,” Spike said softly, “you are.  And you’re going to tell me what was wrong last night.  Apart from the obvious.”

The expression on Spike’s face subtly pleaded with Xander to let the subject move on.  Xander unwillingly complied.

“What’s the obvious?”

“If it’s not obvious enough to be obvious, I’m not going to point it out.”

“Ohhh, you mean the obvious.  The entire ‘you shouldn’t have done that at all’ aspect.”

“I don’t regret it,” Spike insisted defiantly.

“Neither do I,” Xander admitted, to Spike’s delight.

“You don’t?”

“I don’t…but I do.  Just…  Just the one thing that was wrong.  Two things.  Two things that were wrong.  Maybe…three?”

“Are we going to drag an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope into this?”

“No,” Xander laughed.

“Tell me then.”

“It can wait until…”

“One.”  Xander gave Spike an indulgent look and brought a hand up, fingertips tracing the line of Spike’s mouth.  “Ah.  No kissing, there was no kissing.  And you do like to kiss, don’t you?”  Lips replaced fingers to prove the point.  “Mmm, yes, good point.  Two?”  Xander put his hands over Spike’s eyes.  “The dark, I did wonder about that, but I was trying to be what you insisted you wanted and if you’d seen me…”

“You covered two and three there.”

“I did?”  Spike considered what he’d said, losing his train of thought several times as Xander gently explored his face by touch.  “You’ll have to tell me.  One: no kissing.  Two: no seeing.  Three?”

“Spike pretending not to be Spike.”  Spike nodded briefly before pushing back into Xander’s hands for more attention.  “I didn’t want Marcie, you knew that.”

“Just me?” Spike suggested, and Xander’s fingers helped the sides of his mouth into a smile.

“Just you.  Don’t do anything like that again, nothing so one-sided.”

“To recap…  You want to kiss me.”  Kiss.  “And see me.”  Kiss.  “And no-one but Spike.”  Kiss.

“Unless…  Y’know…”  Xander stuttered to a halt, blushing when Spike cocked an eyebrow.  “Doesn’t matter.”

“Anya was a mouthy bint, wasn’t she?  Couldn’t help broadcasting about what the two of you used to get up to.”

“Don’t talk about her like that.”

“It’s true.”

“I know, but that’s missing the point.  And…and…  What did she broadcast?  Exactly?”

“She might have mentioned, delicately, in a perfectly ladylike way…”

“Okay, she blabbed, but what?”

“The one about two horny strangers stuck in an elevator sounded…”

“Ohhh…fuck.”  Xander’s head dropped onto Spike’s shoulder.

“No worse than me making Harm play at being the slayer.  Better, in fact, seeing as we’ve got a near-empty box room here but no blonde wig.”

“Despite the fact that I appear to have a baseball bat down my pants at the mention of the elevator, what I want…”  Xander’s head came up, and he met Spike’s eyes.  “What I want…is you and me, us, together.  The games can wait.”  Cupping Spike’s face, Xander ran his thumbs over his cheeks, studying him closely and watching as the humour slipped away to be replaced by something far more tender.  “I want…to be with you.”

A last kiss and Xander smiled apologetically before backing away, hastily grabbing his luggage and heading upstairs.  For a full ten minutes Spike was motionless, and he could feel the shock on his face, still, and wasn’t surprised that it had scared Xander off.  But Xander’s declaration appeared to offer so much more than the basic shag Spike had been prepared to settle for and, once again, Spike simply hadn’t thought this far ahead.  He hadn’t been able to see past a Xander who might be persuaded to put lust before common sense; the possibility of a Xander who could put their togetherness before lust and common sense…

The alarms were set at record vampire speed, and Spike raced up to their bedroom, putting the brakes on outside the door and entering with a show of deliberate casualness.  The lamp beside the bed was still lit, but Xander appeared fast asleep, and Spike let out the teeniest frustrated groan as he dropped the attitude.

A last glance out of the window to check that no-one was trying to creep up on them, then Spike examined the heavy, lined drapes, and was satisfied that they would protect him come dawn; finally, gloomily, he undressed and climbed under the covers and eased himself closer to Xander.


The gloom began to lift.

“I thought you were asleep.”

“Nearly.”  Xander’s eye opened and blinked blearily a few times.  “I wanted to stay awake and say sorry.”

The gloom made a distinct u-turn.

“Why sorry?”

“That was such a stupid thing to say.  Not sorry, I mean, y’know, what I said downstairs.  That didn’t sound just sex, did it?, and I know that’s all you want.”

“Xander, really…”

“I saw your face,” Xander chuckled.  “You looked—  Indescribable.  Not good indescribable either.  Stunned, horrified, appalled, can’t quite get there.”

“Stunned, perhaps, but not…”

“Don’t go taking it easy on me.  If this place wasn’t so solid you’d’ve heard me banging my head against the wall when I got up here and realised what – and we must be looking at a nine-point-nine on the idiocy scale – came out of my mouth.  I know if I make the sex sound like more than it is I’ll be sleeping alone, and I really don’t want that so…  Just sex, and that’s great, you’ve made it plain that’s all you want and I accept that, and you’re right, you’re absolutely right, anything more doesn’t bear thinking about.  I should’ve said I want to fuck you, you like it when I say that, your face doesn’t do the…indescribable thing.  I want to fuck you.  That’s it, that’s all.  Sorry.  Tired.  Tired and not thinking straight.”

Xander didn’t question the silence that followed, eye drooping closed and consciousness fading as Spike took his time inwardly cursing his idiotic insistence on just sex and letting this disappointment hit him full force, no longer sure of if or when Xander had been truthful, or lying, or covering, or humouring him.  It was natural that Xander’s fear of attachment should kick in, Spike supposed, especially if he was convinced that his would-be partner was only in this for the physical, and why should he believe any different now?  Spike dearly wished he’d been honest all along and sod the consequences.

Of course, if he’d known that when Xander first reached their suite he’d hidden away in the bathroom in the hope of finding a little privacy in which to despair of himself, Spike might have felt a little better.  If he’d known teetering-on-the-brim-of-capitulation Xander hated that all he’d needed was the courage of his almost convictions and it was starting to look like there was neither courage nor conviction of any degree here, it might have helped.  He might have been interested to know that Xander had decided he had to play a new game, one that featured a considered Xander who wasn’t about to blather mindlessly on, making inappropriate statements and offering sweet sentiments that could be accurately misconstrued as Affectionate on a non-just sexual level; too much running hot and cold and Spike would think he was crazy, and Spike would probably be right.

But Spike didn’t know that.

Or that Xander had forced himself to look at this situation logically – the mere suggestion that he was presently capable of logic where Spike was concerned making him laugh in a short and bitter, completely void of humour way – and seen that it had been too soon for any show of Affection and, although it was possibly in short supply, time was needed to come to terms with how this teetering-on-the-brim-of-capitulation pre-mortality fling was about to unfold; a little more thought was certainly needed before he proceeded to terrify Spike with the unwanted burden of a horny, needy human in impending what if mode.

But Spike didn’t know that either.

All Spike knew was that Xander was as fragile and neurotic as himself but, if he’d handled things better, what he wanted could very well have been there for the taking; trying to out-smart and out-manoeuvre Xander had led to this disappointment and he only had himself to blame.  Add that to the list of things he truly hated.

Now Xander was embracing the just sex, Spike felt he had no choice but to stick with it or he’d scare the man off completely: too much running hot and cold and Xander would think he was crazy, and Xander would probably be right.  Just sex was better than nothing, in fact it might prove to be the very best thing for…  Nope, couldn’t even start to bullshit himself on that one.  Just sex might be wholly inadequate but it would have to do, and knowing that made the need quite urgent, body instantly demanding attention.

“Xander,” he whispered, wanting Xander fully conscious but not actually wanting to disturb him, “want to wake up and fuck me, Love?”

“First door on the left,” Xander mumbled, half in and out of his dream.

“What about it?  That where I left the remaining scraps of my sanity, is it?”

Xander muttered something indistinguishable and shuffled closer, cuddling up to Spike’s side and giving several fumbling pats to his ribcage.

No comfort there for Spike tonight, but he wrapped an arm around Xander and pressed a few distracted kisses into his hair.  A few more senseless words emerged, although these were senseless for a different reason: Spike recognised the shape of an African language, but not the words themselves as Xander muttered a string, shifted, hugged, and sighed into deeper sleep.

Spike’s free hand slid down his own body and wrapped around his cock, looking for a little relief and knowing he wouldn’t get any rest without it; this act would be short, and not so sweet.




Chapter 18 Nooks and Crannies

Spike stood outside the living room, watching Xander.  Waking alone had startled him, firing his protective instincts, particularly after the previous night’s escapade, but Xander was simply downstairs talking to the ghosts, clearly enough that, after a moment’s eavesdropping, Spike was reassured that it was business as usual.  He’d crept down to the hallway, hoping to catch a little of the show, trying not to disturb either the medium or the spirits, and now he remained in motionless silence as Xander carried on an intriguing one-sided conversation with the house’s late children.

It wasn’t until Xander grunted in discomfort and shifted in his chair that Spike could see a cloth held to the upper left side of his face.

“Xander?”  Xander started, Spike approached, and the spirits fled.  “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.  I rolled away from you in the night and my arm was over the edge of the bed.  The children woke me up, pulling at my fingers,” Xander smiled.

“Your face,” Spike clarified.

“Oh.  Yeah, well…”

Spike sat on the arm of the chair and eased the washcloth away, feeling the chunky roll of ice cubes within it.

“Head or eye?”

“Both.  Kinda.  Since the uber-nasty I’ve been having these headaches, and…”

“Why didn’t you say?”

“’Cause a couple of Advil usually gets rid of them, no big deal.  They’re not like the headache when the entity was around, so…”

“You still should have told me.”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Is it worse today?  I haven’t seen you need an icepack before now.”

“Not since you hit me, no,” Xander amiably taunted.

“Straight answer?”

Any humour on Xander’s face slipped away.

“My eye – my non-eye – feels…wrong.  I’m a little concerned that the socket may be inflamed or infected, I d’know.”

Spike ran his fingers into Xander’s hair, pressing them to his scalp.

“It doesn’t feel as if your temperature’s up.”

“I know, it’s just…”  Xander shrugged and relaxed a little, a combination of sharing his worries and Spike’s soothing strokes through his hair.

“Do you need a doctor?”

“No, not until…  I just have to…check it out, clean it up.  It’s something I hate doing: I usually have a few drinks first, but…”

“Want me to…”

“Oh, God, no, Spike, I really don’t.  Bad enough that I have to.”

“It wouldn’t bother me.”

“It would bother me.”

Spike examined the eyelids covering the empty socket.

“No pinking up, no swelling.  Had problems before?”

“No.  And it doesn’t feel bad, just…odd.  I can’t explain it.”

“Maybe what those blokes tried to knock you out with has aggravated your sinuses, or…  What?” Spike asked as Xander’s grin returned.

“You.  Big bad vampire.  Talking about aggravated sinuses.”

Spike twisted and, with a wriggle, let himself slide off the chair arm and into Xander’s lap.

“Big bad vampire’s been around long enough to discover all the nooks and crannies, hasn’t he?”

Xander put the cloth aside and wiped his damp hand on Spike’s jeans before tentatively moving it onto the bare skin of Spike’s back.

“Too cold?”  Spike half shook his head, half nuzzled Xander’s temple.  “How cold would it have to be to be too cold?”

“Colder than you could bear.  I don’t have the same sensitivities as you.”

“But you are…”  Xander’s free hand ran along Spike’s thigh and cupped his groin.  “…very sensitive.  Where it matters.”

“Still horny from last night?”

“You betcha.”

“We’ll see if you still want me in five minutes time.”

“Why in five min—”

Xander automatically struggled as Spike’s hands clamped his head in place, the vampire pressing his mouth over the irritable socket and gently but inexorably pressing his tongue through the tightly drawn eyelids and into the empty cavity beneath.  The freak out meter understandably went off the scale but Xander forced himself away from panic and somewhere vaguely near to calmer when he realised what was actually happening, knowing that Spike was only trying to help, however bizarre a way he chose to do so.  Cringing at the sensation, Xander waited edgily as Spike’s tongue investigated, and knew that Spike must have been aware of the squick factor because his movements were very slow and deliberate.  The balming effect Xander remembered well from previous ‘treatments’ kicked in, and he concentrated on that as the indefinable irritation began to recede.

Spike gradually withdrew, pausing to give the outer lids a little delicate attention before sitting back and studying the area again.  Nodding with satisfaction, he dared to look Xander in the eye, expecting to have lost a few points here, but okay with that as he was able to assure:

“There isn’t an infection, everything tastes normal; mild inflammation, a little excessive heat.  Could be sinuses, could be slight dehydration.”

Xander stared back in silence for a long moment, allowing the desire to scream to pass.  The subsequent interlude of Spike considerately soothing rather than manhandling him, reminded Xander that, in all honesty, he’d had doctors make him feel worse than this, and Spike’s intentions were as touching as they were scary.  Xander had to deal; Xander wanted to deal.  He rubbed Spike’s side, needing a definite movement to cover the fact that his hands were shaking.

“I scratched you.  You made me jump,” Xander explained, slightest tremor to his voice.

“Yeah, sorry about that, but you wouldn’t have let me…”

“And I wonder why.”

“Done now though.  Feel any better?”  Xander gave it a few second’s consideration; a shallow nod followed.  “That’s all that matters.”

“Sure.  That’s all that matters unless I want some kind of say in what you do with my body.”  Unintentionally provocative choice of words: desire flared between them and they both witnessed it.  Xander struggled to hang onto the last of his justifiable umbrage.  “For the record, and my own peace of mind, is there any place you won’t stick your tongue?”

“Doubt it.  We can experiment right now if you like.”

“No, I don’t like, certainly not right now.”

“Just give us a kiss then,” Spike joked, pursing his lips and blowing fish kisses.

“Fuck off,” Xander told him with a breathy laugh before abruptly pulling him close and hugging him tightly.

Spike hugged back, wishing he knew what to say to reassure Xander rather than making stupid jokes to cover his own inadequacy.  Still, some diversionary tactics were better than others, and he went back to nuzzling before progressing to nibbling the rim of Xander’s ear.

“Still want me?” he whispered.

“Depends how fast you can find mouthwash.  Fuck.  I can’t believe you did that.  And I – I let you.”

“Because you’re starting to understand me better.  That’s nice.  Rare.”

“I’m trying.”

“And when you trust…  No half measures, eh?”

“What would be the point?”

“I never got it, back in Sunnydale, why your girls thought the world of you.  I get it now.  Get it; got you: hope you don’t mind me gloating.”  A brisk shake of the head and then Xander was reaching up to pull Spike’s face around, seeking his mouth, kissing him fervently as hands moved to seize whatever body parts they could find as leverage to draw the vampire fractionally closer.  “Want to come back to bed?” Spike broke away to breathlessly ask.

“Yeah,” Xander replied instantly, more legitimately breathless than Spike, reluctantly letting his grasp be loosened so Spike could stand and urge him to his feet.

Xander’s hands were still trembling: Spike grabbed and stilled them.

“Because of what I did?”

“Uh…not so much.”

“Then…  Nervous, are you?” he asked kindly.

“Ha!  Nervous is for wimps.  With my background I’m opting for…full-blown terror.”

Spike guided the hands he held until Xander’s arms were around his waist.

“Your background?” Spike repeated stiffly.  “You telling me someone in your past did this with you and…”

“No, I didn’t mean that, I meant…  Just…nervous.  Us and…nervous, yes.”

“Why?  We’ve done it before.”

“Yes.  And no.  Not like this.  In fact…  All things considered, can we go with selective memory and try for a new first time?”

“Hearts and flowers?”

Xander shook his head.

“No pain, no confusion, no anonymity.  Not too much to ask for, is it?”

Put in those terms, their previous sexual encounters deserved to be forgotten.  Spike effortlessly slipped into the frame of mind Xander wanted: gentle touches, seductive kisses, whispered words.  Playing at a prospective first time, and a legitimate question:

“So…  You ever done this before?”

“I…umm…  How the hell do I answer that?”

Spike laughed and kissed Xander harder, demanding more and having his demands met with gusto.  Still wrapped around one another they stumbled into the hallway, to the foot of the stairs, where Spike lifted Xander into his arms, and the kissing continued as the remainder of their journey to their bedroom sped up considerably.

Spike tipped them both onto the bed, catching himself on his arms before he fell on top of Xander.  Xander stared up at him, ravenously, panting.

“Tell me you want me, Xander.”

“You have to ask?” Xander gasped, and then he was tearing at Spike’s clothes to get at the flesh beneath, ungraciously allowing the vampire an entire minute of not being groped to allow him to strip them both.

Fast forward abruptly morphed into slow motion as Spike rejoined Xander on the bed, both men awed by the pure sensuality of their naked bodies touching.

“You’re…you’re so…” Xander stuttered as he watched and experienced.  “You have…a great body.”

“What, this old thing?” Spike smiled, determined to lighten the moment before Xander figured out the lack of just sex and took fright.  “I’ve had it for years.”

“Sure, but…timeless.  And it matches everything.”

“Drop of a hat and it’ll match you stroke for stroke.”

“There’s a hat?  You accessorised?”

“Not so much hat as…”  Spike steered Xander’s fingers to the head of his cock, encouraging Xander to explore the unfamiliar foreskin.  “…balaclava.”

They giggled together at the silliness, and the smiles gave way to baser expressions as Xander continued to explore, carefully skimming a fingertip over the tip of Spike’s erection, spreading the slick fluid that reassured him of Spike’s excitement, playing with and becoming more adept at manipulating the extra skin that now moved easily with the increased wetness.

“Okay to…”  He glanced at Spike as he began to push the skin back; a rapid nod and Xander fully revealed the rosy glans, letting it rest, twitching, against the heel of his hand as he scraped blunt nails up the underside of the shaft.  Spike creaked, deep in his throat, and began a slow fuck of Xander’s fist as it curled around him.  “Can I ask you something?”

“Only if it’s ‘Shall I do you right now?’.  To which the answer is a resounding yes.”

“Did you – William – like guys?”

“William wouldn’t have even dared to consider that.  Besides, he was a naïve fool, obsessed with romantic love rather than carnal.”

“Yeah, but still…”

“One of those boors he knew slipped a saucy postcard into his pocket once.  Nothing more than a flash of thigh and a glimpse of bosom, and he was…”

You were,” Xander cheekily corrected.

“All right, I was…  Can we have this conversation…”

“Now.  We’re having it now.”

“One look at the girl in the picture, one touch in private and splat, all over.  Whole night worrying about going blind.”

“Dru must’ve been a shock.”

“Dru was a revelation, a magnificent revelation.  Bit like…”  Xander found himself on his back, Spike straddling his body.  “…you.”  A dip of the hips and Spike rubbed their erections together.  “Xander Harris, who’s going to fuck me.  How wrong does that sound?”

“We can stop,” Xander offered reluctantly, “if it’s that wrong.”

“Not what I mean and you know it.”

Stretching out over Xander, Spike lowered himself, wanting to feel Xander’s hands on him and having to wait less than a second for that, wanting to kiss the man and helping himself to several very passionate kisses.  It wasn’t long before Xander’s fingers were tracing the creases where buttocks met thighs, teasing inward and upward, making Spike grind and groan and practically frog-squat to open himself in invitation.

“We have lube, right?” Xander asked in breathless anticipation.


“And you’ll show me what to do?”

“Next time.  Next time I’ll show you, this time…”

Spike sprang up to his knees and snatched the tube of lubricant from the cabinet, dousing his fingers and reaching behind himself to unceremoniously prepare his body.

“I thought I’d be doing that,” Xander said vaguely as he attempted to follow Spike’s movements.  “I wanted to learn.”

“Next time.”

Scant preparation and Spike was shuffling into position, giving Xander’s cock a few strokes and passing on the remainder of the lubricant before edging the tip into place.

“What’s the rush?” Xander demanded as he grabbed Spike to stop him impaling himself.

“Needing this fuck, that’s what.  Inadvertently, maybe, but you’ve been such a bloody tease.”

“I don’t want something that’s over before it’s started; slow down.”

“You were better…”

Spike’s hand shot out and the lights went off; the drapes were so heavy the room was plunged into virtual night.

“No!  I told you…”

Xander’s words were stolen away as Spike pressed down, pushing the head of Xander’s cock inside him, only then slowing to make the penetration a gradual and very erotic experience.  When Spike was finally sitting in the cradle of Xander’s hips he smoothed his lube-tacky hands over the sweat-tacky flesh of Xander’s chest and stomach, smiling at the sensation of muscles quivering beneath the surface.

Xander’s desperate grasp had loosened and the touch that wandered onto Spike’s thighs was light, exploratory, senses other than sight being employed until Spike once again reached out and, with a click that seemed shockingly loud in the silence that had developed, gave Xander the light he’d wanted.  The moment Xander saw Spike his fingers dug into the vampire’s thighs, eye snapping closed, teeth clenching; Spike felt the rigid member inside him swell a little, and was delighted at the proof of his own desirability, knowing that Xander was fighting his climax after merely being confronted with the visual proof of who was riding him.

“Shouldn’t you be looking?”

“Shut up,” was forced through the gritted teeth, and Spike sniggered.

“Did I ever mention…”  Spike slid up a little, down a little.  Wriggled.  “…that you have a splendid prick?”


“Thought I might’ve.  ‘Cause…”  Spike slid up a little, down a little.  Wriggled.  “Splendid.”

Taking pity on his…  Yes, now, think it now, think it now and it’s true.  …lover, Spike relaxed, persuading Xander to once again unclench his grip and bringing up a hand to play with, distracting Xander from his more urgent need.  Spike rearranged his features from smugly ‘fuck me’ to a non-provocative ‘welcome back’, but there was an odd moment when Xander finally dared to open his eye, staring at one another as if they’d each walked in and caught the other out mid-fuck.  Odd, but certainly stimulating.

Spike began to move, couldn’t not move, speeding up and only faltering for the briefest amount of time when he felt Xander caressing his cock and balls.

“Stop.  Spike, stop.”

Spike, in an unlikely show of compliancy, stopped, exchanging a heated look with Xander before giving himself over to His Lover; Xander tipped them onto their sides, pulling Spike’s leg up over his hip, bending his own and squirming closer as their bodies found a near-perfect fit.


Spike nodded, attitude lost in the face of Xander’s kisses and touches, letting His Lover lead the fuck, and it was slow.  Sensual.  Felt.

Xander sought and found where their bodies joined, letting his fingertips ride over his slick shaft as he experienced from inside and out, encouraging Spike to feel this too and then both needing a calming rest.  Not for long though, and soon Xander was rolling Spike onto his back and, still the measured fuck, but this was accompanied by a whole new array of kisses that started with Spike’s mouth and explored his neck and shoulders, collar-bone, chest, and Xander alternately sucked the pert brown nipples as he swivelled and dipped and long-stroked, short-stroked, unconsciously gauging every reaction and soon knowing just where to work his cock for the best results, gliding it over what he guessed was Spike’s prostate until the vampire was almost delirious with pleasure.

And Spike…  Think it, you’re allowed to think it, so long as you only think it, don’t say it, just think it.  …Spike, His Lover, was…  Fabulous.  Not enough of a word for so much of a man, but…fabulous.  Receptive and sexy and abandoned.  The perfect and understandable object of desire.

Too close again and Xander rested for a while, breathing heavily between the gentle kisses he couldn’t seem to stop giving Spike; blue eyes slowly opened and met brown; the men gazed at one another, both searching for whatever was going to ruin this.  And…nothing.  There was nothing.  Xander smiled softly and Spike’s eyes closed in bliss as Xander resumed a long, slow fuck that gradually accelerated to fast and relatively furious; so far past stopping and starting, a muttered exchange established that Spike wouldn’t come before Xander, and Xander wouldn’t come before Spike, and even as they laughingly squabbled over that, Xander, desperate for relief, incessantly fucked that recently discovered spot inside Spike until Spike was one protracted, trembling moan of a vampire.  Balancing on one elbow, Xander slipped a hand between them to play with Spike’s cock; a few tweaks and that previously admired technique and Spike was bucking furiously as he fucked Xander’s hand, and Xander was tipped over the edge by knowledge as much as sensation, that this was him and Spike and he was fucking Spike and Spike wanted him and was coming for him.  And Xander, with an exultant holler, was coming for Spike.

The post-coital doze was, by Xander’s reckoning, about thirty-six hours too short, but he grudgingly woke and shuffled across to where Spike was still snoozing, rearranging pillows to avoid that bony shoulder when he snuggled closer.  Spike’s arms enclosed him, perfectly on cue, and he came to the conclusion that, all other benefits aside, it was great being other than strictly heterosexual just for the advantage of being the cuddled rather than the cuddler.  Entirely selfish, and that was fine, so it was somewhat ironic that Spike’s waking words were…

“Are you always that considerate?”

“Uh…I hope so.”

With a laugh, Spike pulled Xander up for an enthusiastic smooch, turning it into a playful tussle that left them both giggling and gasping and flat out.

“Here, you never told me…”

Xander rolled onto his side so he could see Spike comfortably.

“Why do you always end up on my blind side?”

“Do I?”

“Yeah.  I’m assuming you do it on purpose, to be evil in a very minor, acceptable-even-to-a-soul, way.”

“You say the sweetest things.”

“I never told you what?  Did you even ask?  ‘Cause you have this habit of expecting people to just know.

Spike shifted too, onto his side, nose-to-nose with Xander now and leaning in for a kiss.

“Am I the first bloke you’ve been with?  You sort of hinted yes, hinted no.”

Xander took a moment to consider the best answer.  Truthfully, and Spike would be a pain in the ass.  Evasively and…Spike would be a pain in the ass.

“Like this, yes, the first,” Xander admitted.

“Like this?  As opposed to—  That bloody Douglas, it was him, I saw the way you looked at him.”

“Not Doug, no, and…  How do I look at him?”

“All…adoring and…”

“Admiring, maybe.”

“Has he ever…”

“He’s happily married, he has kids…”

“The trappings don’t mean a thing.”

“Then my word will have to.  No Doug.”

“Henry?  Fucking hell, wasn’t some kind of threesome with Medusa…”

“No!” Xander shrieked as he fell back laughing.  “No.  I promise you, no threesomes.”

“Want me to beat it out of you?”

“Depends on what you were beating me with.”

“Ah.  Need me to fuck it out of you.  I can do that.”

Xander looked at Spike, trying to gauge what was beneath the blasé surface.

“Does it bother you in any way?  Matter other than piquing your curiosity?”

“You know I can’t help feeling possessive: demons are naturally selfish.”

“How does that affect you now?  With the soul?”

“Do we have to do this?  When I said what I did at the motel…”

“That was…out of context.  We’re kinda…contexty right now.”

“I still doubt the answers are anything you want to hear.”

Interest roused, Xander rolled onto his side once again, studied Spike’s disgruntled expression with amusement.

“You have to tell me.”

“Forgot you’re as nosy as me, didn’t I?”  Xander smiled.  Spike sighed.  “What if it puts you off me?”

“That’d be sooo likely,” Xander teased, running his fingers over Spike’s body, throat to navel.  “You can tell, huh?  That I’m seriously in danger of coming to my senses.”

Spike caught Xander’s hand and brought it to his mouth, kissing the presumptive fingertips one by one.

“That’s…  I love the way you do things like that.  Do you have to remind yourself to do that or…  Don’t smirk behind my hand, I can feel it.”

“Answer the question.”

“Answer mine.”

“I was first,” Spike insisted as he tasted himself on Xander’s hand and the smile widened.

“What, no, when, I…  Oh, the guy thing.  That isn’t as important as the demon and soul thing.  And after the demon is explained, maybe the guy thing isn’t.”

“The guy thing.  Please.”

“That’s crafty, the please.  Denying a please from you is the equivalent of shooting an endangered species.”

Spike laughed and bit down; Xander eeped a protest and joined in the laughter.

“Worried it will spoil this?”

“Yeah,” Xander answered immediately and honestly, humour dissolving at the thought of losing what they’d found together, or, God forbid, being back to living on the threshold of hostility.

“It won’t.”

“Tell me about the demon and the soul.  You know I’m not asking out of idle curiosity.”

Deep breath and Spike fixed an assessing look on Xander, feeling the affection and, however unlikely it still seemed, the trust.  He nodded, and wondered where to start alienating his new-found lover.

“If this went pear-shaped it would be easy enough for you to drop me and move on…”

“No, not easy, not at all.  You know that’s why I was so reluctant to get involved, even just physically.”

“Yes.  Not easy.  Possible then.  Possible for you to move on.  But if your moving on wasn’t my choice, the demon would become fixated over reclaiming you.  Anyone who submits to a demon becomes its property, and before you say it, I know there was never any deliberate submission as such on your part but…”

“I remember what you said about the…‘distraught fumblings’, I think it was.  And if they were enough to make you think I’d submitted, then what happened when you came back from LA…  Desperate, submissive, take your pick.”

“I’m glad you can see that without me having to spell it out.  It didn’t – doesn’t – make me think of you as weak, the weaker, I don’t think of you like that, but the demon…”

“Does it help to talk about the demon as if it’s a separate entity?  Sometimes you say ‘I’ and ‘me’, sometimes it’s as if you’re trying to put a distance between you and…uh…yourself.  Okay, that didn’t make much sense, but you see my point?”

“Does that matter too?”

“Only if you’re still worried that I can’t cope with you being a vampire.”

Spike considered that for a moment before continuing.

“Regardless of who or what, mortal, immortal, sire or minion, vampire, slayer, human, once taken, you’re all considered property, and fair game.  No intellect involved, just basic instinct.”

“But you’re not just the demon.  What about the soul?”

“The soul doesn’t stop the way the demon – I – feel.  It can’t always stop me acting on those feelings, although it gives me hell afterwards, and I swear I’m trying my best to…”

“Hey, you don’t have to convince me, having a conscience doesn’t make everything black and white.”

“Does it still frighten you though?  My possessiveness.”

“If it means…” Xander thought aloud, “…that I’m safer, because your instincts insist that you don’t give me up to that entity, then…  We probably need to sound the stupidity alarm here, but, I want you to feel possessive.  A little possessive.  It may be the only security I have.”

Spike studied Xander closely.

“Does it bother you at all?  You don’t seem genuinely bothered.”

“Well…yes, you know how I feel about the thought of being property, it took me a long time to get over the whole Dracula episode.  If you suddenly get insanely proprietary it will bother me, but you’re pretty cool about it, and what’s the point in worrying about any of this until we’re alive and kicking in the wake of the Dead Guy event?  Plus, I can be possessive too.  It doesn’t do any harm to remind myself of that and try to keep away from double standards.”  Xander paused, remembering.  “What you said actually explains a lot about the you before the soul.”

“Not going there.”



“Okay.  Okay, no going there.”

“Ready to tell me about your string of blokes then?” Spike asked, too cheerfully, clearly avoiding a subject he wasn’t prepared to confront.

“What string?”  Xander gave in and agreeably went where he was led.  “It was…  When I came back from Africa I came on the boat rather than flew.  There was a nice guy, there was some fairly juvenile groping, there was…nothing like this.”

“Shipboard romance?” Spike snickered.

“Yeah, how about that?  I’m living every teenage girl’s dream.”

“You knew you weren’t…averse…how far back?”

“Guy on the boat made me realise, really realise, and don’t do the ‘denial’ joke, it’s wasted on me: I never got to Egypt.”

“Not before?  Not in Sunnydale?  Never looked at me and…”

“Never, never looked at you.”

“But if you think back now…?”

Xander’s brain rewound the best part of a decade.

“Oh, God, I really shouldn’t say this,” Xander chuckled.

“Still not me?”

“Still not you.”

“Not Angel?  If you fancied that twat…”

“Eww, nasty Spike,” Xander grimaced.

“Who?  No.  Wait.  Figured it out, don’t say another fucking…”


“…word.  That tosser!”

“In retrospect…  Would have been Riley.”

“He was—  Shame on you, Harris.”

A glance at Spike’s scowl and Xander inched closer.

“Not now.  I wouldn’t look twice now.”

“Assuming you’re back home in a month, tucked up in bed with your hand on your prick…  Who are you thinking about?”

“It’ll be…”  Xander gave the vampire a tender kiss.  “…whoever the page opens on.”

“You’re such a tart: lying here with me, naked and covered in my spunk, and you’re already dreaming about some airbrushed bint.”

“Who do you think, Spike?” Xander asked meaningfully.  “Who will I be thinking of?”

Spike’s hand shot out to hold the back of Xander’s neck, and he pulled him close for a hard kiss.

“Hate the idea of you thinking of someone else,” Spike admitted, and the intensity should have worried Xander.  “Knowing you could be with someone else.  I’d want to kill them.  I’d have to kill them.”

“Stop it,” Xander whispered, “stop that, it won’t get to that.”

“Minute you began to sing, Xander, I had to have you.”

“This again?  I’ll start thinking you’re old and senile if you keep repeating yourself.”

“I was fascinated watching you work, and then you sang and…  My mum coming through changed things for me, made me see you as a person not a messenger.”

“Funny.  I would’ve thought it’d be the other way around.”

“Yeah, would’ve thought.”  Spike paused; Xander amused himself by playing with the vampire’s rumpled hair, twisting two clumps of gelled curls into devilish horns.  “But there you have it: where the wanting began.  I can’t want by fraction.  If I want you at all, I want you all.  I can’t think about you lusting after Riley, or…”

“That wasn’t serious, c’mon, and I…  Wait, go back…”  Xander frowned as what Spike had said sank in, and right then he was enormously glad he’d kept any thoughts of potential capitulation to himself.  “I gave you that message and…  It’s what I am, not who I am, isn’t it?”  His face crumpled in disappointment.  “It’s not me.  This, here, now, it’s not about who I am.”

“It is you.”

“This could have been anyone.”


“It could have been anyone, any…any…medium who brought your mom through.”

“It wasn’t anyone, it was…”

“You criticised Marcie for this and you’re…”

“I’m not.”

“You don’t get it.  Maybe I’m a fool to expect you to when it’s all about you.”

Xander tried to move away but Spike held him firmly; Xander gave up his struggles in less than thirty seconds but remained rigid within the enforced embrace.

“Actually, Xander, Love, I do get it.  You want to be wanted for you.  But I’m not allowed that, am I?  To want you?  Not for anything more than just sex at any rate.  I can’t say that your abilities made me take a fresh look at Xander Harris and let me see the new you, this upgraded version who was going to enthral me.  Can’t admit to that, can I?”

“No, you can’t.  Let me go.”

“I don’t want to let you go.”

Xander gave a humourless laugh as he slumped.

“I’m so desperate to hear those words from somebody.  Why does it have to be you?  You, and right now.”  Xander laid his head alongside Spike’s on the pillow, felt the restrictive hold diminish into one of their usual hugs.  “I won’t be your pet medium.  Cut through the bull, get back to just sex and I can live with this.  For now.  I’m Xander, I’m me, I’m not a freak, I’m not a sideshow, and I’m not…property.”

“I know.”

“Okay,” Xander sighed.  “Hungry and nosy.  Food, couple of hours reading this place, then we should be looking at leaving.”

Xander felt Spike nod his agreement, but neither of them made a move to put the plans into action.  Spike simply dragged the tangled covers over them and tucked Xander in, turning to rest his temple against Xander’s brow and remaining still and quiet for a while.


“The bloke on the boat.”

“What about him?”

“Who made the move?”

“He did.  I liked him, he was a nice guy, but it never occurred to me to look at him in that way until he made the move he made.”

“Didn’t fancy him?”

“Not so you’d notice.”

“What was he like?”

“He was…nice.  Fun.”


“Physically…  About my height.  Big build.  Tanned.  Hair…light brown, and sun-bleached lighter.  Streaky.  Can’t remember what colour his eyes were.  Nice fingernails; funny what you do and don’t remember.”

“But he didn’t…y’know…  You didn’t really fancy him.”

“Not really.  He wasn’t…  Like this.  You.”

The hold tightened again for several seconds until Xander shrugged it loose, trying to tell Spike he wasn’t getting it all his own way, knowing he should move, but…what the hell.

The further dozing curtailed the food/nosiness time considerably; Xander made himself a sandwich and ate as he wandered the house.  Spike followed some way behind and enjoyed the interaction between Xander and the spirits, particularly the moments with the children, although it did leave him wondering how one man could be so loving with kids he barely knew, while a father could be unconscionably brutal with the boy he’d sired.  Ridiculous that the thought of Edmund bothered him so much but, ever since that disquieting contact at the lake, Spike couldn’t help tensing whenever Xander made a strong but unexpected connection.

He saw Xander take a deep breath before entering the dining room, closing the gap between them in case he needed to step in and see off the nasty that lurked in this area, but it was soon plain that Xander had the situation completely under control, to the extent that he took his time patiently explaining to the irascible spirit what had happened to his original house, and why the stones were somewhere alien to him.

“It’s much more difficult,” Xander told Spike as he joined him for a moment’s respite, “getting messages to them, rather than from them, especially when they’re as fixated as he is.”

Spike unconsciously rubbed the spot on Xander’s torso that the medium had referred to as the psychic socket, pseudo-casually withdrawing his hand when he noticed Xander’s indulgent smile.

“Done here, then?”

Xander glanced at the window; the last of the light that had been creeping around the shutters was gone.

“Yeah, maybe we should make a move.  Did you speak to Angel?”

“No news about those blokes who tried to grab you.  He was pretty surprised seeing as the whole case seems flat as a pancake.”

“This going to be one massive anti-climax, isn’t it?  Inter-dimensional war will prove to be a spelling mistake in the original prophecy and I miss out on the timely death that will save me from having to answer hundreds of embarrassing questions about what we got up to on this trip.”

“Want to know how to deal with questions like that?  Make the answers twice as shocking as anyone imagined they’d be.  In fact, if we show a little creativity, you won’t even have to lie.”

Xander rolled his eye and Spike decided the general mood was good enough to see if Xander was approachable; he leaned in and gave him a casual peck, only to be prodded away.  Before he could begin to feel miffed, Xander was turning him and pointing him toward the hallway.

“There.  That’s Em, she’s entirely solid; can’t you see anything of her?  To me she’s…”

Xander squeezed Spike’s shoulders to make the point about how substantial the woman appeared, but Spike could only stare at nothing and shake his head.

“And I have seen ghosts in the past.  Seems that only when I want to see them I can’t.”

“Maybe I affect you too, or the way you affect me affects you.”

“I know exactly how you affect me and it’s nothing to do with ghosts.”

“Yes, it is.  What I am, remember?  Have you been turned on, watching me talk to them?”

“Interested.  Sometimes fascinated.  But it’s now, feeling your breath on my skin, that I’m getting turned on.  Who, not what.”

“You’re just contradiction after contradiction, you know that?”

“Comes from not being allowed to say what I want to.”

“What’s stopping yo—  Forget I said that.”

Xander’s arms slipped around Spike’s waist, and he pressed his lips against the vampire’s neck, remained there as Spike said:

“We’re still leaving, Love.”

“Your point?”

“You have to stop.”

“Duty over sex?  And you think I’m the freak!”

“Think of this as…taking precautions.  The ultimate safe sex.”

“Yeah, I know you’re right, but…  Oh, boy.”

“Good, was it?”

“Way beyond good.”  Beat.  “Wasn’t it?  ‘Cause…  You can tell me.  If it was bad.  If you were disappointed.”

“Can I?”

“Sure.  Just…don’t.”

With a chuckle Spike swivelled within Xander’s hold, looking him straight in the eye.

“Beyond good.”


“Yeah.  So, let’s get out of here and find somewhere new where we can do it again…”

“And again and again.”

“…without worrying about unwelcome visitors.”  Spike ran his hands down Xander’s sides, around to meet in the small of his back.  “Somewhere I can explore more of your nooks and crannies.”  Xander…twitched.  “Ah.  How is your face, by the way, you haven’t mentioned it since I—”  Xander’s expression explicitly told of the folly of putting that into words.  “How is it?”

“Not too bad.  Couple of moments when I’ve been aware of it, but pretty much back to normal.”

“If it helps I’ll do…that thing…that I did…or maybe not.  Fucking hell, if you can send me a look that evil as a human, you’d make a stunning vampire.”

“Spike…  These nooks and crannies…  You thinking about…er…revisiting any, other than the face?  Because…all I remember is how much the initial visit hurt, and I don’t think I can cope with that again.”

“I was thinking more of all the places I haven’t kissed you yet.  Tasted you.  Like…”  Fingers tapped the dip in Xander’s back.  “I want to know every inch of your body.”

“Oh,” Xander murmured, grateful when Spike took the time to close his jaw for him.  He swallowed audibly.  “No-one…  It’s, um…  ‘Kay.”

“When we get where we’re going.”


“So…  Better get packed up, eh?”




“Stop fantasising and start—”

Spike was silenced by a passionate kiss as Xander’s tongue did a little exploring of its own, pressing through closed lips that opened in surprise, sharing his own unique flavour as he experienced Spike’s.  Barely half a step from each of them brought their groins together; a little friction and Xander was groaning at that evocative pleasure/frustration mix he was growing to love and hate, letting it bring thoughts of Spike before and Spike during and Spike now, right now and…and…  Why was he being put aside?  Oh, right, packing, leaving, safety, end of the world.  Balls.  Spike easily avoided the retrieving lunge.  And the next.


“I won’t let anything happen to you,” Spike explained as he backed out of Xander’s reach, and out of the room.  “Ten minutes and we’re leaving; shift your arse.”

Xander wasted two minutes wondering if he could jerk off in five minutes and pack in five, by which time he had to figure out if four and four was an option, by which time…

Xander adjusted himself, went to pack, and grouched, grouched, grouched.


“Xander!  Shut up!”

“I don’t see why we can’t stay here another day.”

“Because people know where we are.”

“Where the fuck are they then?  Why aren’t they breaking down the door or blowing up the place?”

“Bored, are you?”

“No.  But I didn’t agree to the just sex in order to not have the just sex.”

“Your safety has to come first.”

“I don’t care who or what comes first, so long as I get my turn.  Just one more da—”

“If we stay here, I’m going to fuck you,” Spike said bluntly.  “You’ll say no, I’ll say yes, I’ll persuade you, you’ll end up hating me…  How much more of the scenario do you want?”

“You’d do that?” Xander asked quietly.

We would, yes.  You don’t need me to tell you.”


“Can you please be lying?”

“If I admit I’m lying you’ll go back to whingeing and procrastinating.”

“No, I won’t.  You’ve made your point about how much you want us to leave.”

“Have I?”  Xander nodded and remained staring at Spike, the wary expression on his face filling Spike with pointless rage.  “Don’t look at me like that, you know I’m lying, you know I’m just trying to force you out of here, don’t…”  Another glance at Xander’s face and the rage was gone as quickly as it arrived.  “Don’t, Love.  Don’t be scared of me.”

“I’m not scared of you.  I’m scared of what I could be persuaded to do with you, but…”

“You’re not ready.  And I’m not a fool.”

In silence, Xander packed away the last of his belongings.  Spike stayed with him; with him but not with him.  He stared out of the window, rigid and unapproachable.

“That’s everything,” Xander told Spike, not surprised that he didn’t get an answer or even an acknowledgement.  “If you’re gonna be mad at me…”

“I’m not.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, you are.  You got something to say, just spit it out.”

Spike made a slow turn, inscrutable expression giving nothing away.

“I don’t want to see you die,” he said calmly.  “I don’t want to be responsible for your death.  I hate threatening you to motivate you, but I can’t find a way to make you take the threat seriously.”

Xander already had his hands raised in a gesture of surrender.

“I know, I know.  There was a moment yesterday, but since then…”  Xander shrugged.  “I think it’s my past.  Those years with Buffy.”

“Surviving Sunnydale by the skin of your teeth doesn’t make you immortal.”

“Not immortal.  More…impervious?  Does that make sense?”


“And I do feel safe with you.  Safe with you, and with you keeping me safe.  This place, too, very secure, great.”

“Safest is being out of sight.”

“Yes,” Xander agreed firmly.  “We’re leaving.  I’m ready.”  Spike crossed and picked up their bags.  A further softly spoken apology came from Xander as Spike passed by, but Spike kept moving, refusing to even look in Xander’s direction.


The car, identical to the one at the cabin, turned out to be a Cadillac STS, and Xander circled it admiringly as Spike packed the trunk.

“Can I drive?”

“When we’re clear of this place.”

“Can we have just sex in the back seat?”

“When we’re clear of this place.”

“Can I have your complete attention for one entire minute?  Before we’re clear of this place.”

Exuding bad attitude, Spike strolled to Xander, pressing the button on the key fob that started the car’s engine, hopefully making the point that Xander had his one minute and that was all.


“Apparently I’m a pain in the ass.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“But the problem with me being a pain in the ass is your problem.  On this occasion, it’s also your fault.”


“I haven’t been this close to anyone in years, and I wouldn’t be this close to you now if you hadn’t pushed.”

“What then?  Closeness equals death wish?”

“Closeness equals…”  Xander leaned in, somewhat stiltedly, knowing his minute and possibly his luck was close to running out.  Kissing Spike was certainly worth the risk, and when he wasn’t automatically rejected he dared to pull Spike closer, enveloping him in a hug and feeling the moment when Spike began to want him again, when the body language evolved from ‘sod off’ to ‘semi-reluctantly all yours’.  Xander fully-reluctantly broke the kiss before too many unapproved minutes mounted up.  “I am a pain in the ass, and…I think I’ll always be a pain in the ass.  But you shouldn’t start something with someone you know is a pain in the ass and then expect them to be any different.”

“That’s true,” Spike conceded.

“If I’m a bigger pain because all I can think about is having sex with you…”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Is it?  All right?  Are we?”

“We will be, providing you get in the car now and don’t speak for the next fifty miles unless it’s to tell me you’re going to do as you’re told in future.”

“I can…get in the car,” Xander offered, fighting back a grin at Spike’s expected flouncy show of frustration.  Less expected was being jerked into a strong embrace and kissed like it was going out of fashion.

“Get in the car,” Spike snapped as he released Xander.

“This would be why all I can think about is…”

“Get in the bloody car!”

“I am!  This is me getting into the car.”

Xander settled down, clicked the seat belt into place, and watched Spike’s hands on the steering wheel as they drove from the house’s grounds.  Thought about those hands on his body.  Wondered if it was socially unacceptable to jerk off in the passenger seat of a complete stranger’s shiny new Cadillac.