Manifestation by Lazuli Kat



Chapter 19 Attached

“What is it?” Spike demanded.


“In your head.”


“That explains a lot.”

“You told me to be quiet and I’m being quiet.”

“I didn’t mean for…”

“I can’t tell you I’m going to follow your orders like some sort of automaton so I’m shutting up.”

“I didn’t mean that either.  Well, I did, but…”

“And I have…”  Xander peered at the milometer.  “…sixteen miles to go before I regain the power of uncensored speech.”

“Very unnerving: a silent Xander.”

“You should have thought of that before you started issuing commands.”

“I don’t want to care, have you thought of that?  I wasn’t looking for any kind of attachment either, but now it’s there…”

“It isn’t there,” Xander untruthfully protested.

Now it’s there, I don’t want to see you suffer a horrible death.”

“I’m not listening,” Xander insisted and turned away, frigid back to Spike, but a grin on his hidden face.

Spike glanced over.

“One of us has a reflection, wanker.”

Xander began to giggle and gave up the charade, relaxing and throwing a hand across to rub Spike’s thigh.

“Wanker, huh?”  The hand crept higher.  “Maybe, but can you afford me?”

Spike wriggled down in his seat a little, giving Xander room to manoeuvre.

“I’ve given you a thousand dollars on deposit, get to it.”

The hand withdrew as Xander grimaced.

“Oh.  Oh, yeah.  About that.”

“The wank or the money?”

“The money.”

“What?  You lost it?”

“No, I’m not that irresponsible.”  Beat.  “Quite.”


“We had that fight over the brooch, and I went out and…  Umm…you’re right, I lost it.”

“What did you spend it on?” Spike sighed.

“I lost it.”

“It’s not like it matters.”

“It doesn’t?”

“I don’t care whether you lost it or spent it.”

“You don’t?”

“Unless it was spent on the most expensive whore in the county.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

Spike thought over that particular day…

“We fought, you went out, we ended up at Jo’s…” and Xander saw him figure it out: “You gave the money to the chapel, didn’t you?”

“Will that make you mad?”


“Then, yeah, I did.  They were raising funds to buy cushions to make the seating more comfortable for the congregation.  Doesn’t sound like a great cause, but I know the older members will really appreciate it, so…”  Xander shrugged.  “You’re really not mad?”

To Xander’s relief, Spike began to laugh.

“That is so typically you.  Putting old biddies’ bums before your own safety.”

“Do you have any more money that I can give away?  ‘Cause we have a few projects at the Stokes that…”

“Don’t push your luck.”

“I thought you weren’t mad.”

“I’m not, but I sometimes wonder if you are.  Clinically.”

“How clear is clear?  Clear of that place?  Are we clear yet?”

“Want me in the back?” Spike asked with a satisfied smile.

“Yeah.  I was thinking in the trunk.  Then my questionable sanity and I can drive the rest of the way without being insulted by a man who thinks the best way to keep a low profile is to have hair that attracts moths.”

“Don’t start on the hair.  Not when yours looks like it’s been cut with a knife and fork.”

“It practically was, that’s why.  It was much longer than this and I got fed up with it and cut it myself.”

“Why not get it done professionally?”

“That would have meant going out, and I don’t like to go out,” Xander admitted self-consciously.  “I’d have been trapped with the hairdresser’s biography in one ear and their entire departed family’s in the other.”

“I’d forgotten.  Your life, your real life.”  Xander shrugged and went back to silently staring out the side window.  “How about you have it done this week?  I’ll keep you company and…”

“No.  It’s okay, I don’t need anything fancy.”

Spike nodded, accepting.

“The way it is: I do actually like it.”

“And I don’t actually care.  What does it matter how it looks?  Not as if I’ll be having an open casket.”

Xander clutched at his seat to steady himself as Spike swung the car off the road and slammed on the brakes, finding himself grabbed and brought around to face Spike before the Cadillac had stopped moving.

“None of that.  You go into this manifestation thing with that attitude, you’re bound to get yourself killed.”

You think we’re going to die.”

“I don’t know what to make of what’s going on but I certainly plan on living through it, and not alone,” Spike finished pointedly.  “You think I’ve seen so many people die to let that happen again?”

“I hate this.  If I die and you don’t you’ll never forgive yourself.”

“I wouldn’t deserve forgiveness.”

“This is…  This is way too heavy for me, I don’t want this.  I don’t want to think about either of us dying, I don’t want to think about either of us being left behind, I don’t…”

“Either of us?”

“Yeah, either of us.”

“It never occurred to me that you’d feel anything if I died.”  Xander stared at Spike in utter disbelief.  “Why should you?”

“I can’t believe you said that.”  Spike shrugged.  “Spike…  I…”  Xander shook his head, looked away and back.  “Speechless and not for good reasons.  Just…”  He waved a hand at the windshield.  “Drive.  Let’s just…go somewhere.  Drive.”

“Not until…”

“What do you think of me?” Xander suddenly demanded, trapped between exasperation and upset.  “What kind of person do you think I am that we could spend this time together – this kind of time together – and I wouldn’t care if you died?”

“You would, then?” Spike asked hopefully.

“Trying to get a rise, yeah?”


“Trying to…  You need me to say I care, is that it?  You tell me to be just sex and I’m trying to be what you want or not so much what you don’t want and I’m trying not to ‘what if’ and—”  Xander abruptly stopped, considered his situation, juggled with courage and conviction.  He could do this.  I can do this.  “Spike, I have to tell you…  Since I figured out we’re going to die, I…”

We’re not going to die.”

“It’s okay, you don’t have to make it easy for me.”

“I’m not.  I think it could be rough and, I admit, at one point I had a pretty bad feeling about it, but I’ve totally swung back the other way since we came across those tossers in the club car park.”

“Okay, if the end of the world was in the hands of those guys we wouldn’t rush back from lunch, but they’re not the ones waging inter-dimensional war.”

“Yeah, but if they’re all that’s stopping us getting the information to prevent it happening…”

“Wait, wait.  We’re really not going to die?”

“I don’t think so.”

“All of the ‘what happens to Spike’ was for nothing?”

“Looks like it.  At least this time around.”

“And…I…you…we…  Ah…fuck.  Fuck!

“You’re not pleased?”


“I thought you’d be pleased.”

“Why are we running then?  All that stuff at the house…”

“Was true and it has been from the start.  Low profile, safety, blah, blah, blah, I’ve said it until I’m sick of my own voice, and that’s rare for someone as narcissistic as me.”

“I thought it was all settled, I was…  Never mind what I was, I can’t be now and…  Fuck.”

“Were you looking forward to going?” Spike asked quietly.  “That face-to-face meeting with Saul and Jesse you spoke about?”

“No, it’s not that, it’s…  I’m pleased, I am pleased.  Relieved.  And…unattached,” Xander finished weakly.

Spike looked at him strangely for a moment before his head jerked around and he was lowering the window, listening hard.

“Can you hear that?”

“Actually…I think I forgot to pack my bionic vampire ears.”  Xander watched Spike listen, relieved to pass over a conversation that bore a rather disturbing message of continued life and resurrected the unwanted necessity of emotional caution.  “What is it?”

“Let’s find out, eh?”

They cruised up to a police roadblock, Spike parking at the side of the road before the nearest officer could begin to gesture.  Xander pulled on his eyepatch and, windows down, they waited to be approached; a weary, grim-faced individual crossed to the driver’s side of the Cadillac, taking the car’s documentation that Spike had ready and handing it over to a sidekick to be validated.

“Hi,” Xander said.  “What’s happening?”

“Can I see some identification, Sirs?” the officer requested, firmly but politely, and wallets were found, cards passed out.  The cop – undersheriff by the insignia on his uniform, Randall by the name plate – studied what he’d been given before crooking a finger, standing back as Spike, then Xander, climbed out of the car.  “Do you have any objection to a search of your vehicle?”

“Knock yourself out,” Spike offered.

Spike handed over the fob with the car’s controls, and this was passed to another officer who performed the search as they stood aside, both exceedingly grateful that there was no blood on board.

“Where are you folks headed?”

Spike waved a hand in Xander’s direction for the explanation.

“We were visiting the spiritualist chapel in Woodbury, and we’re on our way to the chapel in Lestor.  I can give you contacts if you need to check us out.  I’m based at the Stokes Chapel in New Forest; we’re all a part of the same group.”

“So, you’re…?”

“I’m a medium.”

An eyebrow rose curiously as the cop took a better look at Xander before turning to Spike.

“And why does Mr Harris need a private investigator with him?”

“I’m not here in an official capacity; we’re old mates and I’m along for the ride.”


“American citizen,” Spike reminded him as he pointed to the ID card Randall was re-reading.

The sidekick returned with the car’s documentation, glancing over Spike’s ID in the Undersheriff’s hand to confirm the name against what he’d been given by the registered owner.

“Friends of Mr Lincoln,” he told his superior.  “All checks out.”

Randall made a couple of notes, took Angel’s, the Colbergs’ and Jo’s telephone numbers and returned the IDs, just as the cop searching the car found the stake Xander had carved, and waved it at his boss.

“What’s that for?” Randall asked.

“Vampires,” Spike and Xander said together.

“Vampires,” Randall repeated slowly, looking over their frighteningly sincere faces before he gave a nod for the stake to be returned to the trunk.

“Can you tell us?” Xander urged.  “What’s happening?”

“Course he can,” Spike said.  “After all, it’s going to be all over the local news.”

Randall stared up the empty road for a moment, his expression deeply troubled.

“Missing person,” he finally told them.

“Can we help?” Xander automatically volunteered.

A tired smile crept over Randall’s face.

“I don’t think the sheriff would be too happy with a psychic…”

“No, as a medium I’ve never done that, I wouldn’t know where to start, I meant if there are any searches.”

“We won’t be here, Xander.”

“Yeah, but it’s not like we’re on a set itinerary.”  Xander turned back to Randall.  “I come from Sunnydale, you know the place that…”  Randall was already nodding, so Xander was able to stop before he delivered his least convincing lie.  “Well…missing person, kinda hits a raw spot, even now.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I think we have it covered.”

“Happened before, hasn’t it,” Spike said quietly.  “This one isn’t the first.”

Randall didn’t even bother trying to deny it.

“How do you know that?”

“I can see it in your face.”

Xander tensed, worried that Spike was pushing the man too far, but the cop smiled again, genuinely, sadly, and he nodded.

“You sound like you’ve been there.”

“There’s always one,” Spike sighed.  “Always one that gets away.”

“I’m hoping this isn’t mine: this is the case I want to crack before I retire.”

“How many victims?”

“This would be the fourth.”

“Get any back alive?”

Randall paused, just for a telling second.


“I’m so sorry,” Xander told him.  “I wish we could help.”

Xander, you can’t help everyone.”

“I can try,” Xander retorted belligerently.

Spike rolled his eyes and held out his hand to the cop, sharing a firm shake.

“Best of luck.  You’ve got our numbers if the Sheriff starts hankering after a good medium.”

“Sure.  Or if it turns out to be a vampire.”

“Especially then,” Spike agreed.


Two minutes along the road, Xander had to ask:

“What did he call you?  As we drove off?  Mr…whatever it was it wasn’t Armitage.”

“Hang on.”

Spike dipped into his inner pocket and once again pulled out his wallet, handing it over so Xander could rifle through the detritus to find the ID card Spike had used.  The minute Xander found it and read the name he began to laugh.

“Did you choose this?” he wheezed as the laughter finally died down.

“Angel.  He called it the Sunnydale grand exit persona.”

“He has a sense of humour.  I never knew that.”

Angel’s involvement made it funnier still.  Another glance at the card and another guffaw.

“I thought it sounded rather dignified,” Spike grinned.  “William Burns.”

They found another faceless motel – this one on the outskirts of Lestor – and the moment they had access to their room, Xander rushed in to switch on the TV and try to discover more about the case they’d stumbled upon.

As Spike had predicted, the local station had half-hourly updates, even if there was little new to say on the subject at this hour.  The missing person was Tania Varley, a nineteen-year-old student, home early for the Christmas holiday.  Her pretty face smiled brightly from a recent photograph, in contrast to the ashen and devastated appearance of her family as they spoke to journalists the previous evening, desperately pleading for the person who had Tania to return her to them.

“That ever happen?” Xander asked Spike. “People being returned?”  The vampire simply snorted in response.  “Yeah, I figured not.”

“Let it go.”

“That’s not so easy.”

“Turn the telly off, and let it go.”

Spike deliberately got between Xander and the screen, constantly moving to block the view as Xander attempted to see past him.

“Will you get out of the way!”

“Not until I have your complete attention.”

A focused glare was better than being ignored, and Spike smiled the enticing smile that might, with a bit of luck, get him exactly what he wanted.

“I’m not in the mood, okay?” Xander snapped.  “Now, will you…”

“Hang on a minute.  You wind me up for hours and then you’re not in the mood?

“I want to watch this.”

“We’re not going back.”

“Okay, we’re not going back, but I still want to watch this.”

Spike slowly peeled off his t-shirt and held it out to his side before letting it drop.  He stretched and flexed, ran his hands over his chest and stomach, down to rest on the waistband of his jeans.  He heard Xander swallow.

“Not in the mood?  Fair enough.  Have to take care of myself then, won’t I?”

“Do that.  And do it away from the TV.”

Remaining exactly where he was, Spike took his time with the button, then undid his zip, tooth at a time, guaranteeing there was an erection waiting to push past the unfastened material and be delicately caressed by waiting fingertips.  Xander gazed on in dumb lust, wanting to be the one touching, wanting Spike on his back, simply…wanting.  But he was going to live through this, and he was already fatally attracted, and attachment was only a hair’s breadth away, and…

“Sorry, Love, am I distracting you?”  Spike took the tiniest step aside.  “That’s it.  You watch your telly.”  An obvious case of ‘TV?  What TV?’ as Xander’s attention went with Spike, practically drooling as the vampire squeezed out the first dewdrop of pre-come.

“Tell me,” Xander said, throat tight and dry.

“Lie to you, you mean?”

Tell me.”

More bullshit, but Spike good-humouredly went with it, even tried to sound convincing to ensure they both got what they wanted.

“Just sex.  Over when it’s over.”

That was enough, and Xander virtually leapt at Spike, yanking him into an embrace and kissing him fervently.

“In the mood, in the mood,” he earnestly explained as he edged them toward the bed and toppled them down, kissing Spike some more, and then some more again as he fumbled over clothes and footwear, trying to find ways to strip them without stopping the kisses.

And there it was.  That awesome moment when they were naked and pressed together, hot against cool, hard against hard, rocking their hips and murmuring with too-long-delayed pleasure.

“Going to fuck me?” Spike panted.

“Can we just…”

Xander eased Spike onto his back and went with him, copying everything he’d learned from Spike and confident this was okay for them both, because he wanted okay and he wanted to get off and he wanted…just about now.  Grinding their cocks together, he was acutely aware of every barely-there touch Spike trailed over his flushed, way-too-sensitive skin, eventually halting the flow of kisses long enough to take a few breathless breaths.  The hands on him crept around to cup his buttocks, squeezing the firm globes encouragingly, and Xander groaned as he thrust and wriggled a little harder, so close now, so close.  A single fingertip of Spike’s dared to go further, and as it tickled the opening to Xander’s body he abruptly came, yelping with protestation and surprise, wanting less and more and squirming uncontrollably until he finally collapsed onto Spike in a quivering heap.


Not aware of dozing off but jerking awake with a start, Xander instantly began an inner tirade about his own selfishness, muttering apologies to Spike before moving aside and reaching for the vampire’s cock.

“You don’t have to.”

“Yes, I—  Oh.  Don’t.  Have to.”

“You think I could have resisted coming with you?  That display would have got a statue off.”

“Display,” Xander repeated with embarrassment.  “That’s great, I’m…”

“Sexy as hell; let me enjoy it, eh?”

It was just about impossible to resist the smugness brought about by that comment, but Xander covered it by making a big show of wiping them down and getting comfortable.  He stretched out alongside Spike and admired the view, wanting to touch but knowing where touching would lead; of course Spike had been absolutely right that Xander could be persuaded into anything, and Spike now had this reputation that intimidated Xander a little, but…  After this encounter, how believable was that?

“Six hours, my ass,” Xander taunted.

“Is that an offer?”

“We can all last six hours if we don’t have to prove it.”

“I don’t have to prove anything.  Besides, it’s your fault I was so het up.”

“No, I don’t think het is the word you’re looking for.”

“Was it an offer then?  Six hours of your arse?”


“Predictable, predictable, pre…”

“I’d never walk again.”

“I’m willing to pit my sexual prowess against your ambulatory priorities any time you like.”

“Uh-huh,” Xander murmured distractedly.

The TV was still playing in the background, and Xander’s attention had been caught by an item documenting the history of the case that Undersheriff Randall was trying to close.  Giving Spike an inattentive pat, Xander sat up to watch.

“You need some sleep,” Spike pointlessly told him.

“Yeah, I know, I will.  Don’t worry about me.”

“You mean I can instantly stop worrying because you tell me to?  I wish I’d know that a couple of weeks ago.”

Xander smiled at Spike’s snarking, not noticing as it grumbled into silence, too troubled by what he was seeing on the television.  It wasn’t in his nature to not help, and maybe it was fortunate that he couldn’t figure out any way to do so, unless the girl was dead and able to contact him as Wayne had but that was the last thing he wanted.  The latest footage of the search for Tania Varley was shown, the Sheriff taking time out to speak to the reporter; by his side was Randall – John Randall, the text at the foot of the screen revealed – and in the glare of the lights the man looked grey and haunted, far older than he could logically be, even if he was headed for retirement.

Doing his best not to disturb Spike, Xander turned off the TV and left the bed and the zone, semi-dressing and moving to the far end of the room; he leaned against the wall, concentrating on his connection with Saul.  Maybe he was too tired or disturbed to convey exactly what it was he needed, but no help there, just the usual cacophony of voices that had no bearing, and no loved one present to listen.


“Come back to bed.”

Spike’s voice startled Xander, wrapped up as he was in his own private world.  He inhaled deeply, released the breath slowly, scrubbing his fingers in his hair before leaving his hands linked on the top of his head.

“No point.  I can’t sleep.”

“You don’t have to sleep.”

Xander was about to snap a terse reply but the glare he threw in Spike’s direction discovered the vampire rearranging the pillows as Xander did when he sat up in bed and talked.  It made Xander feel good, and it made him feel bad.  Cared for was great, cynical bastard was…not so great.

“I apologise, wholeheartedly,” he told Spike as he crossed to and dropped onto the bed.


“Thinking you were talking about sex.”

“Talking about talking.  Although, sex…”

“Ruin the moment, why don’t ya?”

Spike smiled, only teasing, and they both knew it.  Up and swivelling, he sat cross-legged alongside Xander and surprised him by taking his hand, stroking it in a seemingly unconscious act as he focused on the man’s troubled face.

“So talk,” Spike encouraged.

Xander hardly knew where to start until a factor common to them sprang into his mind.

“It reminds me of Dawnie.”

“That girl is nothing like Dawn.”

“When Glory took Dawn, we had Buffy on our side, and we knew that somehow Buffy would save her; together we would save her.  But I remember how bad it felt: the waiting, the fear.  All Tania’s family has is the knowledge that a serial killer has their daughter, their sister, and the chances of getting her back alive are barely this side of zero.”

“I’m not unsympathetic, but…I have to be objective.  Apart from almost getting lynched last time you interfered…”

“Don’t exaggerate, and…  Hey, helped not…”

“Plus you need to be constantly available for the Dead Guy event and…”

“I’ve heard it all before, Spike, and it means as little to me this time.”

“Yeah, I know,” Spike sighed.  “Bloody tedious, aren’t I?”

“You’re good at your job.”

“C’mon then, give me the details.  Tell me how you think you can help.”

“Details, I can give you, but how to help?  Haven’t a clue.  My only chance would have been the residual energy in the area she was taken from, but as nobody is exactly sure where that is…”

“Does that mean this is all about beating yourself up for being useless?”

“No.  I can be realistic.  And I can be unhappy for the right reasons; this isn’t about me.”  Their fingers knotted together, hands falling still.  They sat in silence for a while.  “How would you go about this if it was one of your investigations?” Xander eventually asked Spike.

“The trail’s already cold so…  I’d start with as much information as I could gather, take a look around her home, the last places she was seen, talk to her family and friends, compare the previous cases.  All pretty basic and obvious.”

“Couldn’t you…”

“They don’t want our help, Love.”  It took a while before Xander could nod an agreement to that.  “Why don’t you concentrate on what you can do, the difference you can make?  We’ll visit the chapel tonight, and they’re bound to ask you to muck in: that’s where you’ll find people to help, and you’ll do it brilliantly.”

“I d’know.  Maybe not tonight.”

Yes, tonight.”  Xander looked curiously at Spike.  “You need it, Xander, you need to feel your worth.”

“As if the mindless fluffing from you isn’t enough.”

“My fluffing is well considered, I’ll have you know.”

A gradual smile lifted Xander’s expression from the depths of gloom.


“Good, cheerful again!  Now, about this sex you mentioned…”

“I didn’t…”

Spike sprang down to the foot of the bed and, leaning over to grab Xander’s ankles, had him flat on his back in one quick yank.  A giggled protestation was quietened by Spike prowling up Xander’s body, passionate growl strengthening as he morphed into his true face and comically pounced on Xander’s neck.  A joke, but he’d picked the side with the scar, and as he brushed over it Xander gasped and his hands shot up to clamp Spike in place.

“That was accidental,” Spike immediately assured.

“Do it…un-accidentally,” Xander requested shakily, turning his head to emphasise the offer.


“It feels…  I have no words for it.  I’ll settle for extraordinary.”

“Know why?” Spike relaxed onto Xander’s body and the demonic features reverted to human.  “To make sure our food is obedient.  Our saliva heals flesh to keep our food fresh; this…sensitivity ensures our prey doesn’t turn us down when we come back for another snack.  It might feel erotic but it’s about maintaining you as a victim.”  Xander turned his head back, blinked away the lust and studied the honest expression on Spike’s face.  “You’re no victim, Xander.  I don’t want a victim.”

“But if you know that – we know that – and it feels…like it feels…  Doesn’t that make it kinda harmless?  Just a little…kinky?”

“Harmless?  If you’d been able to stop drooling over him long enough, you could have asked the smorgasbord that was Riley Finn when you had the chance.  Course there’s nothing to say he’d’ve been able to concentrate long enough to answer you, not after you’d put the idea into his head and he’d started craving another fix.”

“Shut up about Riley, I was teasing you over him, and that’s all.”

“He might have hated me for it, but I did him the biggest favour.”

“That’s right, you’re all heart.”

“And I’m doing the same for you.”  Shifting his weight onto one elbow, Spike’s free hand moved to caress Xander’s face, brush back his hair.  “You don’t want to be addicted, do you?  I thought you valued your free will.”

“Yeah,” Xander agreed.  “I guess I wasn’t looking at it like that.”

“If it were…  Oh, I d’know…  A game, on the other hand…”

Blue eyes twinkled suggestively, and Xander stopped feeling ridiculous over the bite just long enough to start feeling ridiculous for a whole new reason.

“Maybe, if I knew you better.”

“If you…!  How many times do you need to unload up my arse before…”

“It’s not about the physical.”

“You think I’m contradiction after contradiction.”

“Why is this—  No, forget it, you have that killer look on your face that says you’re going to be right even if rightness isn’t on the same continent as you.”

“Killer look?”

“It’s all…don’t fuck with me, and…and…”

“Hot?” Spike smirked, and twitched his hips.

“I hate you.”

“I know.”  The smirk morphed into a pout, all prettiness and fake sympathy.  Pooooor Love.”

They stared at one another for a moment, barely able to retain straight faces.  Then, with a theatrical sigh, Spike pushed off of Xander and, flopping onto his back, flaunted his much admired body with a smooth, luxurious stretch that left Xander gawping and appreciating and, very especially, lusting.  Spike smugly saw it all, and in that same, liquid manner, wrapped a few strands of Xander’s hair around a finger and used them to draw the man to him for some passionate kisses.

Even at his most naïve, Xander would have known that he was in danger of losing a grip on what he could and couldn’t have.  Spike had such a wonderfully seductive way about him, a physical availability that assured Xander he could ease Spike into the perfect position and enter his body without hindrance or objection.  Fantasy.  The vampire was more fantasy than reality, the partner that took and took more, took and wanted, wasn’t afraid to show the want.

It was hazardous in a way that Xander wished he could refuse to see, but if he was going to live through this….  Abandoning the sensual delights on offer, he sensibly, reluctantly, rolled away and stared at the ceiling, concentrating on quelling the desire so his fuck-addled brain could start to deal with the barely manageable problem of wanting Spike in more than a physical sense.

“What’s up?  Other than this?”  A nail traced over Xander’s erection and he shifted onto his side to face away from Spike, vainly hoping to make himself just a little less accessible.  “Xander?” Spike coaxed, using the soft and silky voice that the human seemed to have no defence against.  “Talk to me.”

“You don’t want to hear this again.”

“Try me,” Spike encouraged.  Soft.  Silky.  Irresistible.

“I’m…  I am so bad at the sex only.”

“No, Petal, you’re good, very good,” Spike contradicted as he moulded himself to Xander's form, intentionally missing the point.

“Don’t be…!  Aren’t you supposed to be being obnoxious?”

“Can’t bear to think of you hating me again.  A month ago you thought you hated me and…”

“A month ago I never thought of you at all,” Xander assured.

“Now?” Spike purred as he nuzzled Xander’s ear, beginning a slow rub of his erection against Xander’s backside.

“Now?  I…I…oh, God…”  Xander hastily turned and fell onto Spike, between thighs that were already opening in welcome.  He felt his cock being cooled by a handful of lubricant as the passionate kisses were mindlessly resumed.  “Now…” he gasped, as he was manhandled into Spike’s body.  “Now…I never stop.”

Blow.  Job.  Xander’s brain slowly dragged itself back to consciousness after an insufficient six hours sleep.  Blow.  Job.  Blow job.  Blowjobblowjobblowjob.  Blooooooooow job.  Yep, had that sussed out.  One of Spike’s finest, he judged, although they were all Spike’s finest as far as he was concerned, and he confided that in a mumbled nonsensical way that left Spike chuckling around him.

Close to coming and Spike’s fingers, somewhat predictably now, wormed between Xander’s cheeks, and even if Xander didn’t want to be penetrated again it didn’t make Spike’s attempts to get him accustomed to this kind of attention any less horny.  Xander knew he’d have to remember to use the same technique when he finally got to go down on Spike and…

The thought of sucking Spike, the sensation of a fingertip fucking him, and Xander was back to verbal nonsenses as he spurted into Spike’s throat, body spasming as it tried to deliver yet a little more at the sound of one of Spike’s purrier growls.

“Enough,” Xander panted at the vampire’s continued coaxing.  “You’re gonna kill me.”

A naughty snicker and Spike was crawling up Xander’s body, licking and nibbling his way to Xander’s mouth and thoroughly amused by the face the human pulled when Spike moved to kiss him.


“You just…  I don’t want to taste me.”

“Ah, come on, you might like it.  I do.”

Another try for a kiss and a comical tussle before Spike gave up his not-entirely-serious attempt.

“Mouthwash,” Xander urged as he tried to prod Spike off the bed, “mouthwash.”

Spike sighed and snuggled up to Xander’s side, nuzzling and kissing his shoulder.

“You’re not a very gay gay,” he observed.

An unconvincing expression of shock swept over Xander’s face.

“I’m not gay.  Whatever made you think that?”

“No idea.  Shall we ask my well-reamed arse?” Spike grinned.

“I like to think of myself as…” Xander took a moment to think before saying, with satisfaction, “hetero…flexual.”

Spike chuckled.

“That’s good, I like that.”

“Anyhow, I doubt you count, you’re as pretty as a girl.”

“No point in arguing about my exceptional good looks, but when it comes down to brass tacks…”

Spike rubbed his hard cock against Xander’s hip, and Xander slowly smiled.

“Better make that homo-flexual.”


“Although it’s not really about men or women, it’s about…”

“Just sex,” quickly Spike finished for him, averting a conversation about people who were special enough to be wanted, regardless of gender; a conversation that could lead, dangerously, to admissions or confessions, or to the uttering of unwisely affectionate words that would cause an emotional withdrawal as Xander defended his precariously balanced unattached state.

“Now we’ve established that I’ll swing any way the wind blows, how gay would you like me to be?”

“Enough to let me in you,” Spike said softly, knowing that he was taking a chance by bringing this up, and barely disappointed as he watched Xander’s smile fade into the anticipated troubled expression.

“It really hurt, Spike.”

“It won’t be like that again.”

“You’re right.  It won’t.”

The implication was plain: it wouldn’t be like that because it wasn’t going to happen.  Still, Spike wasn’t about to let a little more denial on Xander’s part spoil his fun and refused to let the presently not happening become an obstacle: attrition, as ever, would solve the problem for him.  Meanwhile…

“Give us a tug then.”

“Can I try…”

Xander pushed Spike onto his back and moved down his body, reversing and copycatting Spike’s movements from shortly before.

“Oh, fuck.”


“I didn’t think it was even worth asking for this.”

“Why?  Because I don’t want to taste myself?  Doing this for you is different, and I guess I’ll even get used to the me-flavoured kisses in time.  If we have time.”  Spike leaned up on his elbows and they exchanged an understanding smile.  Xander’s fingertips ran up and down Spike’s shaft, transferring his attention to the twitching member.  “I’ve never done this before.  Tell me if there’s anything…  Well, just…tell me.”

“Do what you like best.”

“You want me to go for ice cream now?

Spike slumped back down and laid his arms across his eyes.

“See, Angel, it’s like this: we haven’t got a live medium anymore because Harris tormented me by—”

The remainder of the sentence was lost to gasped encouragement as Xander’s mouth tentatively surrounded the crown of Spike’s cock, and his tongue took its time considering the flavour and texture of the swollen flesh before experiencing the first tang of pre-come.  His eager fingers played with the foreskin as he lapped, and all the while Xander catalogued reactions, loving the groan of pleasure when he grew a little bolder and took the whole cockhead into his mouth, the tensing of Spike’s body as, confidence growing, Xander’s head bobbed up and down and his touches transferred to the balls that tightened in response to his teasing caresses.

And, yes, Xander remembered what he’d promised himself he would: his fingers crept down and back, and, as far as they could, Spike’s legs opened like a switchblade in offer.  An offer that was carefully yet firmly accepted, Xander stroking the puckered skin to check it was still slick from their earlier bout, before pressing through the strong muscles to gently explore the cool, clinging passage.  A shiver and a moan from Spike as Xander found the bump he was searching for and persistently massaged it, and then Spike was fighting the urge to thrust up, tugging at Xander’s hair, graciously allowing Xander the choice of whether to take this experience a stage further and not caring a jot when Xander’s mouth abandoned him, the man quickly shifting to bring both hands into play, the right now enthusiastically finger-fucking, the left pumping the vampire’s rigid cock until streams of opaque semen spattered over his belly and chest.

Xander was transfixed by the sight, and it took Spike grabbing his wrists and moving his hands away from a now over-sensitised body to put an end to the stimulation.

“Sorry,” Xander murmured, “I’m…  It’s…  This…”  Xander stared along Spike’s body and eventually encountered his face.  “You’re so fucking hot.  I never thought seeing another guy come would be so…so…”  Xander shrugged and smiled a stunned and stunning smile.


Spike scooped a little of the semen from his stomach and offered it to Xander, expecting reticence and being pleasantly surprised when Xander took the finger into his mouth without hesitation to taste the vampire.  That was one well-blown finger, Spike admitted to himself before he withdrew the lucky digit and used the liberated hand to draw Xander up the bed to him, kissing him instantly and passionately.

“You obviously don’t mind how you taste,” Xander observed when they finally parted.

“I find this erotic.  Very erotic.”

“Yeah, I’m starting to see that it might be.”

With a contented sigh, Xander let his body go loose, slumping bonelessly over Spike, more spaced out by Spike’s orgasm than his own, and happy in the knowledge that this was one partner he didn’t have to worry about squashing.  Halfway to the next snooze but not quite able to complete the journey, he formulated a ludicrously simple question in his head a dozen times and still couldn’t bring himself to ask.

“I can practically hear you thinking,” Spike said as he smoothed his hands over Xander’s back and shoulders.

“Uh…  Maybe.”

“Yes, it was good,” Spike answered the unasked yet obvious enquiry.

“It was?”

“It was.”

“I’ll get better: I learn fast.”

“Hmm, I bet you do.”

Spike listened as Xander’s breathing slowed and evened out, wondering if he should point out that they’d be stuck together by the time he woke, but that would mean Xander moving to wipe them off and…  He settled for stuck.

“You know what?” Xander asked sleepily.


“If I took six hours to make you come I’d know I was doing something wrong.”

“Yeah, but she wasn’t trying—”  Spike shut up as he felt Xander begin to tense; he felt obliged to attempt a few soothing words and, after all, what did he owe Buffy?  “Wasn’t like us, Love.  She was never there for me, not like this.”


“She wouldn’t even let me hold her until after I got the soul.”

“Not one moment like this?”

“Want the truth?”  Xander nodded.  “I’m not sure there’s ever been a moment like this.”

“You mean there’s never—  Oh, bad Spike, taking advantage of Xander’s brain leaving the building.  You almost had me believing you.  Bad Spike but gooood liar.”

Xander chuckled and squeezed and gradually dozed; Spike enjoyed being dozed upon, relishing the fact he was able to touch this man, running his fingers repeatedly through Xander’s hair simply because he could, knowing that Xander wouldn’t be one to hack it all off just to spite him.

Not regretting for a second that every word had been true.

“When we’re like this,” Xander said ponderously after taking ten minutes to wake, “the quiet is…more.  There’s a wonderful tranquillity when we’re intimate.  Helps me to understand how what happened between us at Chrissie’s happened.”

“You never seemed to regret it.  Whinged a bit, but…”

“I didn’t regret it.  The whingeing was probably more about not understanding it.  I don’t usually deal with problems by humping the nearest unsuspecting guy.”

“I like that.”

“What?  Me humping the nearest guy?”

“The turn of phrase: when we’re intimate.”

Xander was immediately flustered and un-sticking himself, rearranging the covers, attempting to be, basically, less…intimate.

“I didn’t mean the sex, ‘cause that didn’t sound just sex, and…”


“Not trying to fool you into…”


Xander fell still and turned a wary gaze on Spike.  Who raised the sexy eyebrow and watched Xander melt.

“Um…yeah…chapel?  Yeah?”

“It’s always a choice, eh?  Sex with me, or a visit to the sodding church.”

“Timing.  Our timing is pretty bad.”

Spike nodded resignedly before glancing at the bedside clock.

“Running late.”

“I know, I shouldn’t have fallen asleep.”

“Save time if we shared the shower,” Spike suggested, a veritable picture of helpful innocence.

“You…bastard.  I’m going to be horny all evening now, just thinking…”

The muttering disappeared into the bathroom with Xander and Spike laughed to himself: he wasn’t so much taunting as ensuring ongoing interest, nothing a soul could object to.  In Xander’s absence Spike switched on the TV and flicked around the channels, stopping when he caught a passing glimpse of Tania Varley.  Keeping the sound low so as not to draw Xander’s attention, he listened to the expectedly negative news: no sightings, clues, or new information.  It was as if the man responsible had stolen the girl and vanished from the face of the earth.  Knowing all he knew, Spike seriously considered whether that was indeed a possibility.

In a hurry, but Xander wasted time after his shower staring at his reflection, wondering, for the umpteenth time in a few weeks, what the fuck.  That guy in the mirror, that guy he knew, was not one to shirk the truth; weddings excluded, he didn’t run away from difficult or dangerous situations.  His intestines were screwing themselves into knots as he tried to avoid being honest with Spike, and he hated it, hated this, didn’t care if not just sex screwed them up, didn’t care if Spike’s warped ideas about owning Xander were encouraged, because anything, anything had to be easier to deal with than this.

“I still might die,” Xander whispered to himself, hoping that the prospect of death would, once again, make things simpler.  “In fact…bound to.  All out of lucky escapes.”

“Stop muttering to yourself and let me at the shower,” Spike grumbled through the door, startling Xander and causing the emerging honesty to shrivel.  “Unless you want to lick me clean.”

Xander tried thinking pure thoughts and opened the door, finding himself nose-to-nose with a naked vampire who seemed anything other than grumbly as he smiled seductively and leaned in for a kiss.

“No,” Xander fended him off.  “No kissing, no – no licking, not until after…after…”  He groaned as Spike’s mouth brushed over the skin of his neck, tongue leaving a damp trail along his freshly shaved jaw.  “Spike, this isn’t fair.”

“I know,” Spike crooned, employing the phoney sympathy that always made Xander smile.  “Terrible thing about demons: not the way they kill and maim, but the way they leave you with such a terrific stiffy you can’t get your flies closed.”

“Evil,” Xander agreed, tilting his head back as Spike gently sucked, leaving the faintest trace of a hickey.

“I was wrong,” Spike whispered against Xander’s flesh, causing a rush of goosebumps.  “About what you need.  Not the chapel.  Me.  I can show you your worth, Xander, let’s just stay here and…be intimate.”

Xander heard the smile in Spike’s voice, but his teasing response disintegrated as clever fingers rolled and pinched his nipples into rigid little peaks, such a turn on because no-one had ever touched him quite like this before, brought his entire body to fever pitch, discovering unlikely erogenous zones where their knees met, where warm feet came into contact with far chillier toes.

The honesty that had shrivelled in dread reconstituted itself, expanded, overwhelmed.  Spike made Xander feel more alive than he’d felt in years, and he deserved to know, deserved the credit; how could Xander deny him – them – the truth?  Whatever the consequences?  Yes.  Yes.  Whatever the consequences.

“Spike…Spike…  Will you stop!”  Spike reluctantly did as he was asked, regarding Xander with that infuriatingly beautiful seductive expression of his while he waited for the man to catch a little breath and speak.  “I have…”  Xander faltered, then forced himself on.  “I have a confession to make, and…”

“What am I now then?  Your priest?”

And ping! into Xander’s head came possibly the naughtiest game of all.  Moveonmoveonforfuck’ssakedon’tstopthere.

“Uh…  I, um…  Yes, confession, and…you’re not going to like it.”  The humour faded from Spike’s eyes, to be replaced by…nothing, Spike’s face becoming expressionless as the protective shutters came down.  Xander’s hands shot up to caress the clenched jaw.  “Oh, God, don’t look like that, please, I can’t…I can’t help this, I…”

“Get on with it, Petal,” Spike said, pseudo-reasonably as he jerked his face away.  “I’ve got too close, so I can guess what’s coming.”  Break my bloody heart.

“Maybe I shouldn’t, maybe…”


“Yeah, okay, okay.”  Xander swallowed hard, blinked hard, steeled himself.  “Okay.  You’re not going to like this, but it was always going to happen ’cause…’cause…well…me.  Me, and…  Not…not…just…sex,” he finally ground to a hopeless halt.

Expressionless wavered momentarily, and Spike appeared to have a difficult time hanging on to the nothingness.

“Let me get this straight,” he said in a strained voice.  “When you say not just sex…”

“Me, not you, I know for you it’s…”

“You don’t know anything!” Spike snapped.  “You’ve refused to hear—”  Pulling himself up sharply, Spike studied Xander’s panicked face.  “Why be honest now?”

Xander shrugged.

“There are games I like to play.  And games I don’t.”

“This particular game you’ve been playing…?”

Xander shrugged again

“What I thought you wanted, I guess.  But I can’t be like that, like you, sleeping with someone and it just being about the sex and…  Sorry.  Your obnoxious needs a lot of work, by the way, because…no.  Not.  At all.”  They stared at one another, Xander feeling naked and vulnerable despite the towel wrapped around his waist, Spike completely naked, strong enough to carry it boldly, and intimidating in his surety.  “Nothing has to change, Spike, I’m not asking for anything, I’m not about to debate the over when it’s over, I simply don’t want to have to pretend until we get there.  And…and…you deserve better.  Even if you don’t want it.”

A very Spike pose, Xander observed, as the vampire stood with his hands loosely on his hips, head dropped forward to mask his emotions.  Not a pose Xander liked, simply because of the degree of privacy it gave Spike, not that he resented Spike some privacy but right now, he needed to see how badly he’d fucked them up, whether he was alone in his bed tonight, or whether he was travelling home alone tomorrow.  He needed to know precisely how alone he was, because for years before Spike it was all he’d known and at this moment in time he dreaded having to face the loneliness again.

“Attached then,” Spike quietly observed.

“Yeah,” Xander replied in kind.

“Last thing you wanted.”

“I want it now,” Xander assured him shakily, a little scared – okay, a lot scared – over this, because attachment was the biggest deal to him.

More waiting before Spike’s head slowly rose, and there was a tenderness about his expression, and there was…pain?  Reaching for him once, twice, before finally plucking up the nerve to step forward and hold Spike, Xander prepared himself for a rejection that never came, and he couldn’t control the breathy, relieved laugh when Spike eventually relaxed and his arms came up to hold Xander back.

“Thank you, Love.”

“Don’t thank me for anything, that’s…  Just don’t.”

When Xander took another look at Spike’s face he was thankful to see that the pain, assuming his interpretation had been correct, was gone; there wasn’t time to formulate a question around that assumption.

“Get ready,” Spike told Xander, attempting to manhandle him aside in a bid to get into the bathroom.  “I won’t be long.”

“We’re going out?”

“Yeah.  You won’t be that late.  In fact…”  Spike glanced at the clock.  “…all you’ve lost is half your gossip time.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I was until it began to look like I’d be stuck in this doorway all night.”

Xander stepped aside and finally let Spike through, watching admiringly as Spike stretched and flexed his body while he waited for the water to hit the required temperature, too short a display before the vampire stepped under the spray and out of sight.

Closing the bathroom door to prevent Spike witnessing the victory dance, Xander got that little tribute to candour out of the way as he bounced his way around the room.  He came to a halt by the dresser and rummaged for something appropriate to wear, tossing aside the towel and staring down at himself, grinning as he considered terrible demons that didn’t kill and maim but left you with terrific stiffies.  Okay, he could get his flies closed this time, but it was like being a teenager again: much more of this and he’d be back in baggy jeans that disguised every lack of control.

While Spike was still supposedly showering (but was, in fact, leaning against the stall and wondering if: a) getting exactly what you wanted should be this massive a shock to the system, and b) the trembling would stop before he had to face Xander again) Xander finished dressing, tidied his hair to the best of his ability, and gravitated toward the TV.

There was that face again, on the first channel he picked.  His stomach lurched at the prospect of bad news but this turned out to be more of the constant rehash of what little information the local news stations had.  Tania Varley continued to smile at Xander from a corner of the split screen as the kidnapper’s other victims were, once again, reeled past, all of them young and lovely and smiling at Xander, each of them having needed a Buffy, but having had to settle for a hard working, well-intentioned, but completely flummoxed police force.

And there was John Randall, another repeat of that same interview, and Xander felt desperately sorry for the man, unable not to empathise when he knew he could be in as hopeless a situation shortly, facing dire consequences for a whole lot more than a single community if he screwed up the reading with Dead Guy.

Preoccupied, he didn’t so much as glance over as Spike emerged from the bathroom and dressed, barely aware of him at all until he sat beside him on the bed and wriggled most of his fingers into Xander’s clenched fists, using a single spare to prod the TV remote button that thankfully made the troubling images go away.

“Concentrate on who you can help, remember?” came the welcome advice, and Xander grabbed at it with both metaphorical hands.

“Keep reminding me.”

“I will.  Remind you.  Show you.”

Spike stood and drew Xander to his feet to face him.  It was instantly noticeable that the last traces of the man’s guardedness were gone: the open expression that, until now, he’d only seen in passing was there and unwavering.  And within that open expression…

Xander cared.  As decent a man as Spike could hope to find, cared.

The fickle doubts, the absurd fears that Spike had shared the shower with, were swept away by that simple realisation.  Fighting for the restoration of his soul had been about making himself acceptable, worthy of trust and love.  Years of lonely reflection had made Spike wonder whether it had been a futile act, but…it had led to this moment, given him this chance with Xander.  Xander, who was studying the fluctuating emotions on Spike’s face with a growing smile.

“You okay?” Xander checked.

“I’m okay,” Spike confirmed, more than okay: glad and smug, elated, excited, and just about…  Ten.  Feet.  Tall.  Going by appearances, he wasn’t the only one.  “Y’know, for a man who got exactly what he didn’t want, you look inordinately pleased with yourself.”

“I’ve hated being dishonest.  It’s such hard work.”  Spike agreed with a nod, and Xander turned and headed toward the door.  “But I meant what I said: nothing’s changed about the over when it’s over, I’m not going to try and forcibly ‘what if’ you into my future, you don’t have to worry about that.”

“I’m not worried.”

“I know that our lives – real lives – are completely incompatible, and…and…  Y’know, I thought this would make me weaker, but I feel stronger already.  Friendship can do that for you, huh?”

“Certainly can, Love,” Spike agreed as Xander rushed off to stake his claim on the driver’s seat of the Cadillac, leaving his companion strolling leisurely behind.  “Over when it’s over,” Spike pondered, offering the words up to the frigid night air, methodically dissecting them.  Quick adjustment to his attrition mode, a slight change of focus, would deal with that undesirable concept, because…

“Over when it’s over?” Spike snorted.  Bollocks!





Chapter 20 Observance

If the Woodbury was a more chapely chapel, then the Lestor venue shouted church, very loudly and very clearly.  The expected warm welcome didn’t detract from Spike’s sense of unease when he glanced around to catalogue the many statements of overt Christianity, unconsciously counting the large ornate crucifixes adorning the walls, a stark contrast to the sparse selection of understated crosses that the other chapels had worn.

He’d never spoken to Xander about religion, strange as that may seem, and he’d have been completely honest if asked how he felt at this moment: he didn’t like seeing Xander surrounded by the trappings, and he hated the fact that the old boy who appeared to be the leader of this community was pressing one of the symbols on Xander as a gift, despite the polite refusals.

“Spike, isn’t it?” the patriarch asked when he came over to follow up their earlier fleeting introduction.  “Walter Battin,” he reminded Spike with an amiable smile that Spike had a difficult time matching.  “I haven’t forgotten you.  Please, as a token of our fellowship…” and he offered Spike a similar jewellery case to the one he’d insisted on giving Xander.

“Not for me, thank you, Walter.  I appreciate the gesture but…”

“All of our friends, new and old…”

“I don’t want to offend you,” and that was true, especially with Xander throwing concerned looks in his direction, “and I do respect your beliefs.  But they’re not mine, and I ask you in turn to respect that.”

The case disappeared into Walter’s pocket instantly and he clutched Spike’s hand in a firm hold.

“Please forgive my presumption.”

“Forgiven,” Spike confirmed with a tight smile, and pounced on a change of subject.  “I’m looking forward to tonight.  I assume you’ve asked Xander to participate?”

“Indeed, and he seems more than happy…”

“Hang on, I think someone’s trying to get your attention,” Spike interrupted, pointing vaguely and successfully sending the man away to pursue a non-existent hail.

Spike now focused on Xander, staring unwaveringly until Xander felt obliged to excuse himself from the conversation he was in the middle of to come and discover what Spike’s problem was.  As Xander approached, the stare switched from his face to the crucifix that lay on his chest.

“What’s wro…”

“I hate that on you.”

Keep your voice down.”  Xander ushered Spike to a slightly more private spot.  “This is just for now, okay?”

“Take it off.”

“Hillary insisted on putting it on for me, I couldn’t just…”

“Yes.  You could.”

“No.  It’s a gift; I don’t want to offend anyone.”

“Anyone but me, obviously.”

“It’s not offensive to you, don’t try that.”

“It is: offensive and tacky.  You know if that business had happened in another era, you’d be wearing an electric chair around your neck.”

“It’s a symbol of faith, Spike, it has meanings beyond the…”

“Want me to whip out a symbol of my faith?  Check out the level of tolerance in this place?”

“You don’t have faith.”  Xander paused, frowning.  “Do you?”

“Well, let’s all thank the presumptuous halfwit for asking,” Spike snarked.  “My faith presently lies in two demons and a medium who are about to save the world.  That’s real faith, Petal, that’s legitimate.”

“Symbolised how?” Xander asked, not entirely sure he wanted to know the answer; a flash of gold eyes and the cruel smile that twisted Spike’s mouth proved him right.  “Let’s not see the fangs in church, huh?  As a favour to me?”

Spike considered that.

“As a favour…” he mused.  “Will it be reciprocated?”

“Sure.  But…later?”

“How about now?”


“One touch from you.  One meant touch.  In this place where, if our…truth were known, there’s every possibility you’d be as abhorred as this vampire.”

Spike saw and heard Xander nervously swallow, and he waited with barely concealed sneering superiority for Xander’s refusal.  With his back to the growing congregation, Xander had no way of knowing they were being ignored but, eye fixed on Spike’s and defiantly accepting the challenge he saw there, he took up Spike’s hand and rubbed it between his own, before bringing it to his mouth and kissing the fingers.

“You have a lot to learn about tolerance,” Xander told Spike coldly.

“And you apparently have as much to learn about prejudice.”

Xander was strangely reluctant to drop Spike’s hand, taking strength from the contact he needed strength to deal with; tolerance may have been the ideal, but he wasn’t naïve enough to try kidding himself about the prejudice.

“Assuming we’re not about to be thrown out…”  Only now did Xander cautiously peer over his shoulder and heave a sigh of relief at not being discovered.  “Can we sit down and appreciate the readings?”

“Back row?” Spike smiled suggestively but nicely, and Xander found himself gawping at the rapid change in Spike’s demeanour.

“Much more of you and I’m going to be begging to die,” he muttered.

“Begging for something,” Spike muttered in turn, and he caught the filthy look that Xander threw before stomping off to find a good place to sit, good being roughly translated as the opposite of where Spike would choose.

Xander sat near the front of the nave, and Spike took the hint, finding himself a solitary spot as far from the medium as possible.  Before the readings began the community was asked to join in prayers and blessings that left Spike’s skin crawling, and it crossed his mind that this was one reason why Xander had wanted to be away from him and any bitching that ensued, but he saw Xander look around for him, check with several glances that he was okay, and that degree of consideration made Spike feel a lot better.

Walter Battin effortlessly progressed from prayers to readings, and Spike grudgingly acknowledged how proficient the man was, but his bias wasn’t about to be shaken, and as far as he was concerned no-one was as good as Xander; he refused to relax and enjoy until Xander was introduced and on his feet, chatting amiably to the congregation as he felt his way into the first contact.

“Music,” Xander said as he listened.  “Music was very important to this person, and he’s letting me hear…  I know the tune but don’t know the name of the song.”  Xander proceeded to hum until a gesture from the audience caught his attention.  “You can understand the relevance?”

“Yes, I can,” the woman, who Spike couldn’t actually see, confirmed.

A smile for her from Xander and Spike was immediately jealous, thinking of Marcie, and of Xander kissing someone other than him.

“Magnolia…drive…  That’s either a street called Magnolia Drive, or a drive with magnolias?”

“Where we lived when we were first married.”

“Yes, married in…nineteen sixty-seven,” Xander grinned, “and you wore a mini skirt so short it barely covered your…”  Xander laughed at the spirit’s description.  “…dignity.”  Spike worked out the woman’s age from that reference and felt a little better.  “San Francisco.    You went to San Francisco to…get married?  No, you married here and…  San Francisco was meant to be a two week honeymoon but you didn’t come home for…eighteen years.”

“That’s right.”

“Was your husband a musician, ‘cause we’re back with the music.”

“Yes, he was.”

“And there’s another tune, it’s associated with…  Ah.  Have to…”

Xander came into the congregation, to the woman, and Spike stood to watch as Xander whispered something privately to her and she laughed, automatically hugging the bearer of the message.

Now Spike could see her, and she was no threat, an aging hippy who looked like she’d lived, and lived hard, but his possessiveness flared and was barely controllable as Xander laughed too and hugged her back.  Despite being aware that his presence was required in case the uber-nasty returned for another shot at Xander, Spike knew that he was more likely to disrupt proceedings when it became impossible not to yell at some unsuspecting mourner to keep their hands off his boyfriend; he could already feel the beginnings of a demon-sized tantrum bubbling in his gut, the slightest provocation would trigger an outburst Xander would surely never forgive him for.  Waiting until Xander turned and presented Spike with his blind side, the vampire silently left, hoping that his departure wouldn’t be noticed, and that Xander wouldn’t be left feeling vulnerable because of it.

On a bench outside the church, Spike could hear well enough to vaguely follow the proceedings – he’d certainly know if Xander was in any kind of trouble – and he half-listened as he let his mind wander.  He took time out to eavesdrop on passers-by, eventually engaging a young couple in conversation to find out about local entertainment, and being quite happy with his discoveries.


Listening closely by the time the service came to an end, Spike rolled his eyes contemptuously at the prayers, ignored the attendees as they emerged from the building, and was just emotionally preparing himself to return and claim Xander when the man in question sat alongside him on the bench.

“Finally got bored with me, huh?”


Pause.  Xander shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  Removed the crucifix and returned it to its case.

“Spike…  I had no idea this set up was so intensively Christianity-based.  I wouldn’t have come here if I’d known, at least not with you.”


“Isn’t it obvious?  You weren’t comfortable in there, not for a moment.  It may be my work, but on this trip it’s also your fun.  Tonight…that wasn’t fun.”

Spike shrugged, hard-done-by demon rather than peeved boyfriend, that worked for him.

“Get back to the car, shall we?  Before your fan club mobs you.”

A gesture from Spike directed Xander’s gaze to a small group of people who’d been in the church and, once he’d acknowledged them, they rushed across to thank him for the readings.  Xander gratefully accepted their appreciation and encouragement, but was equally grateful when they left and he could catch up with Spike, who’d wandered off toward where they’d parked in the countryside that skirted two sides of the church.

“Wait up.”  Xander ran to join Spike, who seemed to hunch inapproachably into his duster.  “Are you mad at me?”

“No.  Bit narked with myself.”


“Questions I should have asked.  Obvious ones.”


“Do you believe in God?”

“Oh.  That kind of question.”


“I’m asking it now: do you believe in God?”

“I don’t want to discuss this.”

“It’s simple: yes or no.”  Xander hesitated over his answer until Spike pressed for it.  “Yes or no?”


“Okay…”  They walked a little further as Spike thought.  “Can I re-phrase that question?”

“Why do you have to?”

“Do you know there’s a God?”

Another hesitation by Xander, but this time Spike waited it out.

“It’s one of those things…I don’t want to know.  I prefer to believe.”

“That’s interesting.”

“No, it isn’t.  It’s just the way I am.  Obvious example is choosing to believe that Anya’s in heaven rather than knowing…something else.  Belief gives me strength that knowledge can’t.  Whether it’s regarding a divine spirit, or Buffy’s ability to kick the bad guy’s ass.  And I’m really not comfortable talking about this, so can we change the subject?”

“Your version of faith’s a damn sight better than that claptrap tonight.”

“I guess it’s pointless asking you not to be so disrespectful on this one.”

“I was polite when it mattered, despite that wanker trying to foist his dodgy wares on me.”


“Don’t Spike me, not in that tone of voice.  Demon, remember, it’d be wrong if I didn’t hold religion and its morals in contempt.”

“The demon thing is just an excuse; you have your own version of morality and, whether you like it or not, I got to see it before the soul.  Tonight you’re just pissed because this caught you by surprise and ruined the show.  Get over your hissy fit and maybe we can talk about it.  Or preferably not.”

“What that bloke was peddling…”

“Basic Christianity, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  There’s nothing wrong with religion.”

“Now you sound like an idiot.  Religion is responsible for more bloodshed than any other cause in the history of humanity.”

“No, that’s people using religion as an excuse.”

“And this piece of tat…”  Before Xander could stop him, Spike had the box containing the crucifix out of Xander’s pocket and was hurling it as hard as he could into the scrub that bordered the road.  “…has no place on your body.”

“Spike!” Xander screeched furiously as the case disappeared into a cluster of straggly bushes.  “You had no right to do that, I wanted to keep that.”

“It’s not you.”

“I don’t care whether it’s me or not, it was a gift!”

“I’ll buy you gifts until they’re coming out of your ears.”

“I don’t want anything from you,” Xander snapped as he tentatively ventured into the undergrowth.  “Come and help me find this, the moonlight isn’t strong enough to…”

“Sod off.  If you don’t want anything from me, then you don’t want my help.”

“That isn’t…”

“I’ll be in the car.  Ten minutes I’m waiting, and then you’re walking home.”

“Spike!  Will you—  Ah, fucking hell, Spike!”

Spike slowed a little at that last exclamation, hearing defeat in it and hating that from Xander in any context.  Circling back he joined Xander’s search for the cross, finding it easily with the advantage of his night vision, and handing it back in resentful silence, Xander receiving it with much the same attitude.

“It’s not as if I’ll wear it again,” Xander said quietly as they resumed their walk to the car.

“I know,” Spike sighed.  “Not what it is, but what it represents.”

“Yes, and not in a religious sense.  They could have given me a brick out of the wall and it would have meant as much.  It represents something I belong to, somewhere I belong, the people I…”

“You don’t belong to them, you’re—”

Spike bit his tongue and the men glanced at one another.

“Want to finish that sentence?” Xander enquired lightly.



“Because it’ll…I d’know…scare you.  Anger you.  It’ll sound worse than it’s meant, at any rate.”

Xander stopped walking and waited for Spike to wander away, wander back, face him.

“Could you cope with that?  Being told you belonged to me in the least romantic sense of it?”

The point Xander was trying to make slipped away into the night at the sudden longing on Spike’s moonlit face.

“Tell me.  Tell me, and mean it, and let’s see.”

“You can’t want that,” Xander weakly protested.

“Let’s see.”



“Emotionally?  You betcha.  Not just sex is one thing, this’d be a whole new something else and I don’t want…”

“Anything?  You don’t want anything, that’s what you keep saying, but we both know you’re lying.”

“Anything from you,” Xander corrected.

“Shall I let you in on a little secret?”

“Do I have any choice?”

“Something you said to me after that business with Marcie…”

“Ah, Jesus…”

“Something I hated.”

“…let it go.”

“Something I’m still trying to understand.”  Xander sighed and accepted the inevitable whinge, waving it on.  “You said that you were lonely.  Xander…  You’re with me all the time and yet you’re lonely?”

Okay, that surprised Xander, not at all what he was expecting.  He shrugged awkwardly.  Then, with no relevant point to make, no explanation he could easily give, he simply shrugged again.  Spike studied him closely and, once he’d realised that was all he was getting, turned his disappointed self away and this time, they made it as far as the car.

“I wasn’t trying to be hurtful when I said that,” Xander assured as he leaned against the driver’s door before Spike could get it open.

“I know.  It would have been easier to deal with if you were.”

“Why do you need to deal?  Why can’t you ignore?”

“It’s not in my nature.”

“It is when it suits you.”

“Yeah, fair enough.”  Spike inched his way closer to Xander, and Xander automatically held open his coat, welcoming Spike inside.  “Are you lonely now, Love?” was murmured as Spike nuzzled a scar-free patch of Xander’s neck.

Xander twisted them and flattened Spike against the side of the Cadillac, catching the back of his head and holding him in place to be kissed.

“No.”  Kiss.  “Not lonely.”  Kiss.  “Wasn’t then, not in the sense you mean.  The sense you thought I meant.”

“Then what…”

Kiss, kiss, kiss.

“Lonely for the familiar.”  Kiss.  “Missing people rather than lonely.”

A glimpse of approaching headlights brought the kissing to a halt, and Xander reluctantly let Spike go so they could climb into the car.

“But you’re not missing anyone right now?” Spike asked the moment they were settled.

“I’m fine now.”

Spike patted Xander’s thigh, gave him a patently unconvinced smile…


…and patted his thigh again.

“I’m fine.”

“Right.  You’re fine.”  Spike briskly switched his attention and started the car.  “We’re going to the pictures.  The crossroads we came through getting here tonight?  Turn north and there’s a complex about five miles away.  Cinemas, bars, restaurants, nightclub, take your pick.”

“Umm…  Yeah, movie would be great.  Any idea what’s on?”

“It won’t matter providing we’re in the back row.”

“You think?”

“Haven’t you noticed the change in you?”

“What change?”

Spike chuckled and drove.

“It’s not only me that’ll be grateful for the back row.”

“Uh-uh, not in public.  We watch the movie and you behave.  Promise me.”

That deceptively innocent smile from the vampire and Xander was already getting hard.  Harder still as Spike took a deep breath and the smile became somewhat less angelic.

“You smell lovely, Petal.  Let me…”

Xander slapped away the inquisitive hand that bee-lined for his swelling crotch.

“Stop it.  And…and…promise.”

“All right: I promise.  I promise to behave exactly as you want me to.”



Xander slid down in his seat with a groan.

“I am so damned.”

Back row, and even if this was the first movie Xander had seen in years that wasn’t disrupted by the voices in his head, he swiftly lost track of what they were supposed to be watching as Spike mercilessly toyed with his body.  ‘One kiss, just one’ had rapidly become a passionate interaction, Xander unable, or perhaps unwilling, to fend off the kisses, the teasing mock bites, the touches that began quite innocently but had soon proved how sensitive his nipples could be when given some persistent attention.  Spike was obviously determined to send him mindless with lust, working his cock for a long time through his pants, scratching his balls, squeezing and rubbing his shaft, playing with and pinching the glans until the denim was damp and Xander was panting with the need to come.

It was all about lessening resistance to the moment when Spike adroitly popped open the button of Xander’s jeans and began to slowly tease down the zip.  A movement elsewhere in the almost empty auditorium, and Xander automatically reacted, grabbing Spike’s hands to stop himself being exposed; Spike growled, a muted, lust-filled rumble that went straight to Xander’s groin, and the already inadequate defences weakened, allowing Spike a little access as his head bowed over Xander’s lap, face pressing into the half-undone fly and making Xander stifle a gasp as the head of his cock was mouthed through the cotton of his boxers.

Another movement and once again Xander tried to put a halt to Spike’s actions, but tugging his head away merely gave his hand time to rearrange Xander’s clothes a little more before ducking back down, and now Xander gasped aloud as a cool tongue tickled the eye of his cock, lips tightened around the naked crown.

More overpowering than the sensations Spike was creating was the troubling sensation of being watched, and Xander made a final concerted effort to drag Spike upright.  He leaned in to whisper in Spike’s ear as he scrabbled to refasten his clothes.

“Not here.  Not joking.”

Spike studied him for a moment before giving a brisk nod and standing, grabbing up their coats and waiting for Xander to follow him into the corridor outside of the auditorium and bustling him into the nearest restroom.  Spike threw open a stall door, hurled their coats onto the closed toilet seat, and gestured.



“Fuck me.”


“Why not?”

“Uh…  Maybe…”

Still feeling quite breathless, Xander grabbed the last of his loose change from his pocket, scattering coins as he fumbled for what he needed.

“What are you doing?” Spike demanded tetchily.

Xander nodded toward the machine on the wall.

“They’re lubricated, and with some lube we can…”

Spike made a fist and hit the machine with the side of his clenched hand.  It obligingly opened with a dull clang and Spike grabbed a handful of condoms, stuffing them into Xander’s grasp and herding him into the stall.

“Want you so fucking much,” Spike panted between ardently kissing and groping Xander, loosening their clothes, making all the important body parts accessible.

“Getting there,” Xander assured as he dropped all but one condom and ripped open the foil, hands shaking as he rolled the fine rubber over his rigid cock.  “Want me to sit down, so you can…”

“Do me up against the wall,” Spike ordered as he turned and braced himself against the stall partition.

The tiny objection that reared in Xander at the crudity of this was immediately squelched by the force of his desire when presented with Spike’s body, ready and wanting, and he nudged Spike’s feet as far apart as possible, given the restrictions of the tangled jeans.  A lightly probing touch reminded him of the lack of preparation and he tried to turn to pick up another condom but Spike reached back and tugged him into place.

“I don’t want to hurt you.  I’ll use the lube from…”

“Do it!  You can’t hurt me, not really.”

“I don’t want to risk it.”

“You had me earlier, and you overdid the slick then.  I’ve still got half a tube of the bloody stuff inside me.”


“You’ll find out when you fuck me.”  Impatience gave way to a persuasive purr.  “C’mon, Love, have me.  Fuck me.  Want you, Xander, want to feel you in me.”

With a groan that was an unbalanced mix of reluctant capitulation and downright horny, Xander lined his cock up with Spike’s opening, nudging toward a tentative penetration until Spike took matters into his own hands and rammed backwards, and as Xander froze in sensory overload, Spike happily used the man and fucked himself.

Less than a minute before Xander was drawn into the action and, Spike having been proved correct about the lack of hurting, he began to compliment Spike’s rolling actions with his own movements.

“Hold me,” Spike told him.  “Do it right.”  ‘Doing it right’ was rather daunting, Xander having barely learnt the basics of gay sex, but he took a guess, grabbing onto Spike’s hips to give himself better leverage and being relieved at the approving nod he received.  “Now…fuck me.”  Spike leaned his crossed arms against the wall and nodded again.  “Fuck me.”

The cautious beginning gave way to growing fervour as Xander stopped worrying and started enjoying, encouraged by the low grunts of pleasure that were forced from Spike by the stronger thrusts, grinding himself deep as he bent forward to kiss and nibble on the back of Spike’s neck.

“Fucking awesome.”  Spike snapped into protective mode at the strange voice, upright and masking Xander as best he could, backing him into the wall behind them as he glared upward.  To discover your average teenaged pervert, wearing a uniform that stated popcorn stall and a badge that introduced Tyrone, watching their coupling from an exceedingly good vantage point leaning over the top of the partition.  “No offence,” the young man said with a dopy, probably doped, smile.  “Saw you inside and…whoa…fucking awesome.”

“Let’s get out of here,” Xander grumbled into Spike’s ear as he tried to shift the vampire in any direction that would lead to having the space to dress and flee.

“Like this, do you?” Spike said, shocking Xander with the humour in his voice.  “Like this?” as he grabbed his cock and waggled it at Tyrone.

Predictably, it was…

“Fucking awesome.”

Spike slid his hands back to grab Xander’s and wind their fingers together, squeezing encouragingly.  With a low chuckle he started to ride the cock that was still inside him, feeling it spring back to full hardness at the stimulation.

“You’re not serious?” Xander whispered, even as his own hips once again matched the vampire’s actions.

Taking Xander with him, Spike guided the hands he held to his waist and then braced himself at arm’s length against the partition wall.  He grinned provocatively upward as he whispered.

“Serious, Love.  Xander.  Fuck me.”

Knowing he should be mortified, yet hopelessly aroused by Spike’s cavalier nature, Xander ignored the stranger and concentrated on the smooth glide as, time and again, he sank deeply into Spike’s body.

“Can I suck you?” Tyrone asked Spike, and Spike laughed as the grip on him tightened.

“Touch him and I break your arms,” Xander snarled.

“Touch me and he breaks your arms,” Spike repeated, still laughing, “And I really think he will.”  His hand dropped to his cock and he began to pull on it with long, enticing strokes; the man licked his lips.  “Pretty thing, ain’t it?”


The partition trembled as the Tyrone unzipped himself and jerked off in time with Spike.

“Nearly as pretty as Xander’s, but you don’t get to see that, that’s all for me.”

“Let me see Xander’s.”

“I’ll only break your arms, Spike’ll go for your neck,” Xander warned.

“Whoa.  Awesome.”

“Yeah, fucking awesome,” Xander agreed.  “He is.  Completely deranged but fucking awesome.”

Spike leaned back against Xander, turning his head and chuckling into the possessive kisses that accompanied some equally possessive fucking.  As Xander grew close to his climax the verging on painful grip became a tender embrace, hands affectionately caressing as they crept over cotton-clad chest and stomach until his arms encircled Spike’s torso, holding him firmly against his chest as the thrusts slowed in a bid to postpone the inevitable.

“You going to shoot in his ass?” Tyrone demanded, “I’d like to shoot in his ass.”

“And I’d like to shoot in yours,” Spike added, “although my weapon of choice would be a Magnum.”

“Ah, fuck, ah, fuck…”

“Yeah, all right, don’t need the commentary.”  Spike’s flippancy was short-lived, Xander’s fist wrapping around his cock and pumping like he meant it.  “Love…” Spike groaned, closing his eyes and concentrating on clenching his inner muscles around Xander’s erection, highly successfully if the sharp intake of breath was any gauge.

“Can’t wait,” Xander desperately whispered, “Spike…”

“Don’t wait, don’t.”

Spike’s hand covered Xander’s and he began to jerk quickly forward into their joined fists, back onto Xander’s cock, letting the shuddering breaths and concentrated heat within his body as Xander gave up the fight bring his arousal to a peak.  Xander clumsily shifted, just enough to drop his head and bury his face in Spike’s shoulder, hiding from public view as his expression contorted with the searing pleasure of his orgasm.  No such modesty from Spike as he blatantly fucked himself on Xander, staging a mind-blowingly erotic show that culminated in his semen spattering across the partition wall, his ardent growls and groans alarmingly loud in the confined space.

Xander’s kisses were soft on Spike’s neck as they recovered, and the vampire’s eyes opened to slits to view the face of their voyeur; Tyrone’s flushed features were slack with spent lust and he was panting with exertion.  Lazily scooping a fingertip-full of his semen from the wall, Spike flicked it at their audience, an accurate shot that landed on the corner of the man’s mouth.  It was immediately and greedily licked up.

“Fucking awesome.”

“Going to clean off this wall when we’re gone?” Spike asked, and Tyrone swiftly answered with a wobbly nod.

“Yeah.  It’ll be fucking awesome.”

“Get down from there,” Xander said sharply.

“Hey, Xander…”

Get down!

Tyrone wavered for a moment, before giving Xander a wide grin and wrong-footedly tumbling out of sight.

Xander pulled out of Spike, automatically removing and knotting the condom, stopped by Spike from throwing it into the toilet pan.


Spike took the condom and casually tossed it over the wall.

“Fucking awesome,” came the dazed response from outside, and before Xander could voice his obvious disapproval, Spike was distracting him with intense kisses, lips, face, neck, before dropping to his knees and instantly taking Xander’s softening cock into his mouth.

“Oh, fuck, careful, no,” Xander protested as he pushed Spike away, “sensitive here, Dumbass!”

Spike looked up with an amorous smile, and Xander tried not to notice, adjusting his clothing and urging Spike to do the same.


Leaving the stall, they walked straight into Tyrone, who was impatiently waiting for them.  At this level he was short, scrawny and – Xander thought – way too young to be doing something as potentially hazardous as hanging out in restrooms to watch strangers go at it.  Not that Tyrone seemed to have any concerns about his dubious pastime.

“Hey, Spike, do me now, huh?” the young man pleaded as he gazed longingly at Spike.

What?” Spike responded with exactly the level of incredulity Xander was expecting.

“Y’know…do me now.”

Spike chuckled nastily and shook his head.

“Now, pay attention, Boy.  You, Tyrone, are a pug ugly, inadequate little wanker.  Xander, on the other hand, is bloody gorgeous, thrill-a-minute and, whether he likes it or not, presently owns me, body and soul.  Given the choice…”

“Stop now,” Xander told Spike firmly, wanting to save Tyrone from the stream of insults he knew Spike was building up to.  “Let’s go.  Leave him, Spike.  Let’s go.”  He turned to Tyrone.  “Try to be careful,” he pointlessly advised.

“Will you do me?”

Xander sighed and nudged Spike out into the corridor.

For a moment they stood in silence, regarding one another curiously.

“Are you angry with me?” Spike asked warily.

“Angry with you?  For turning our sex life into a spectator sport, encouraging a kid to lick your come off the wall and giving him a condom full of mine to do God knows what with?”  Xander’s tense expression broke into a smile, and he laughed.  “This is the most fun I’ve had in years.  Fucking awesome.”

Wariness became smug satisfaction, and Xander laughed again at that.

“Want to catch the rest of the movie?”

“I can’t even remember what we were watching.”

“Club then?”

“Yeah,” Xander agreed happily, “why not.”

Spike turned away and back, meeting Xander’s eye and asking, in all seriousness:

“Will you dance with me?  Openly?”

Xander considered the proposal.  Although he hated admitting it to himself, it made him a little nervous; before he could be as honest with Spike he took another look at the vampire’s expectant face.  Xander couldn’t truly understand why it should be so important, but it was evident just how much this meant to Spike.

“Yeah.  That’d be good.”

Spike turned away again, unconsciously treating Xander to an incongruously coy glace before they began to walk toward the elevator that led to the nightclub.

Distracted by a strangely out-of-place café that promised ‘home-baked’ delicacies at a time when he was getting sorely tired of diner fare and take-out, Xander found a table and ordered a pot of coffee and a selection of what the menu promised were delicate pastries.

“Don’t build your hopes up.  The definition of delicate in this town probably means you don’t break more than three teeth.”

“And why has this town pissed you off, precisely?” Xander asked as he picked up a  local paper and stared at Tania Varley’s face for an incalculable time.  He didn’t notice the not answering that followed his question, didn’t actually notice anything beyond the article he was reading until the smell of strong coffee drew his nose from between the printed pages.  “Okay?” he asked Spike with a frown, unsettled by the vacant stare that was focused on nothing in particular.

“You’re not overly religious, are you?”

Xander demolished an iced pastry before getting around to replying.

“Not overly.  If I’m honest, that was too much for me tonight.  Spiritualism doesn’t exclude any faith and I don’t like it to feel…”  Xander shrugged.  “…hijacked by any single one.  But it didn’t make the people any less nice.  And just because I don’t agree with their approach doesn’t make them wrong.”

Spike gave a distracted nod, mind already having moved on.

“When you say meditate, do you mean pray?”

“No.  When I meditate, I meditate.”

“Do you pray?”

“Sometimes.  Not for me.”  Xander filled the subsequent silence by munching his way through another pastry.  “You have to try one of these,” he nudged the plate in Spike’s direction.  “I’m not about to turn ultra-holy and cast the demon out, if that’s what’s bothering you.  Baby,” Xander finished with a smile.

“There’s a degree of affection suggested by that endearment,” Spike said coolly.  “If you don’t mean it…”

“I just did.”


Spike didn’t cover his surprise at that admission well, and Xander got a glimpse of his unguarded emotions before they were concealed behind a chocolate butter twist.  It was quite moving to see Spike so touched by a minor show of affection, but Xander knew better than to comment on it, and went back to what was supposedly the ongoing topic.

“The basic principles of spiritualism,” Xander explained, “cover the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the communion of spirits, and the ministry of angels.  Personal responsibility is in there along with the continued existence and progression of the human soul, and I’m starting to hope that includes human souls with good guy demon accessories.  Acceptance and toleration are important to us; treat others as you want to be treated is a big deal.”

“That explains the change in you.  I’ve thought it was a hell of an evolution: from ‘Vampire!  Kill!  Kill!’ to…acceptance and toleration.”

“It was a hard lesson, but one I had to learn – one I’m still learning.  Very necessary if I’m to grow as a medium.  And…as a person.  I guess I shouldn’t forget that.”

“Is this why you didn’t give me a hard time over the brooch?”

“Oh, I wanted to,” Xander admitted with an embarrassed chuckle.  “For a while I wanted to share how it had left me feeling, but…  You looked as awful as I felt, and…there was no way you’d deliberately do that to me, there was no logical reason.  I’m glad I walked away, it gave me time to calm down a little, see things more clearly.  I know we had that bust up at Jo’s, but I knew I trusted you, despite everything.”

“You want me to throw it out?  The brooch?”

“No.  It’s a memento, it means something to you other than…than…what I…experienced.”

“I can live without it.”

“You don’t have to.  And you don’t have to humour me.  When this is over I’m sure it will mean more to you than the stake I carved.”

“I’m not.”

A long look passed between them, saying so much and so little, only broken when Xander closed his eye and rubbed his temple.

“Don’t do this to me,” he said under his breath, and Spike chose not to hear.

“Headache?”  Xander nodded as he frisked his coat and found the painkillers that now accompanied him everywhere, downing a couple with his coffee.  “Club’s out then,” Spike sighed, but Xander was already shaking his head.

“No.  I’m looking forward to it.  To working off some tension.”

“That’s a shame.  I was looking forward to building up a little more.  The right kind, naturally.”

Xander despaired of himself as he felt his body responding to Spike’s cheeky smile.

“We dance twenty feet apart.”

“You said you’d dance with me.”

“I will be dancing with you.  Just…twenty feet away.”

Spike gave a humorous snort.

“Like you can resist me.”

“I can resist you.”

“Really?  Do I get to see you try?”

“No,” Xander answered immediately, and began to laugh because this was all so preposterous.  “I’m going to dance until I’m hot, sweaty and wholly unattractive, then I’m going to jump you.”

“You’re never wholly unattractive.”

“Hey, that’s right.  I’m bloody gorgeous and thrill-a-minute,” Xander sourly repeated what Spike had said to Tyrone.  “Think in future when you want to take a shot at someone you can avoid doing it at my expense?”

“What do you mean?  Your complimentary vampire was…”

“You know exactly what I mean.”

“No,” Spike frowned.  “I wasn’t lying, if that’s what you think.”

Xander abruptly stood, turning a tight circle as if he was looking for escape and finding none, stopping and glaring before looking self-consciously away.

“As you pointed out earlier, some of us do have reflections.”


“It’s not funny, all right?”


“Pay for this, will you?”  Xander walked away, muttering to himself.  “Let’s hit the club, see all the pretty girls line up for Spike.”

Spike did as he was asked, exchanging a few polite words with the young woman who had waited on them and noticing, as no doubt Xander had, other than businesslike interest in her eyes and smile.  It was with some difficulty that Spike stifled the urge to take his annoyance out on the girl, admitting to himself with some difficulty that ever since…

“It’s true, y’know: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Look at you.”

“The last thing I want to do is look at me.  I’m afraid that if I look too closely I’ll see that you were right.”

“I was right?”

“Mmm.  Freak.”

…he’d known, and refused to know, just how bad Xander felt about his appearance.

Turning his back on the café, Spike headed for the club but came to a premature halt so he could take a good look at Xander.  The human was staring out of a plate glass window, pretending to be interested in the complex’s surroundings, but his body language said…crushed.  Yes, crushed.  Spike knew that wouldn’t last, it never did, and when Xander perked up his spine would straighten, shoulders pull back, he’d stand tall.  Superficial appearance…

“Bloody gorgeous,” Spike murmured, knowing he’d got that right all along.

It didn’t matter about the ill-cut and windswept hair, it didn’t matter that the eyepatch had been in place since before their visit to the church, Xander was unquestionably attractive and…  Sod the superficial.  …it was the kind of attractiveness that ran deep.  He doesn’t know.  Oddly painful, that.  Xander didn’t believe he’d spoken the truth when he’d explained to Spike that his lifestyle, the difficulties associated with his new abilities, kept people away.

Spike knew he had better get Xander back to the motel, to some privacy, because they were going to fight about this, and he was going to bombard Xander with the truth until…until…  Xander hated him again?  The oddly painful pain resurfaced.  No.  No, they weren’t going to fight.  Xander couldn’t hate him.  He’d find a way to deal with this, but not at any cost.

“All right, Love?” Spike asked cheerily as he arrived at Xander’s side.


“Want to go in?”

“I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“Being…”  Xander shrugged.  “Jealous.  For sulking.  For calling you a liar when I know you’re just trying to be nice.”

“I’m not nice.”

“You’re not?”

“No.  And I wasn’t trying to be nice.”

The implications were obvious, but it seemed like Xander didn’t want to fight over this either; he kept quiet and followed Spike into the club.

Xander’s brief funk was quickly forgotten, and he seemed more than happy to be with Spike.  They propped up the bar, or they danced, usually together and always closer than twenty feet; they were, understandably, approached by women, and bearing in mind Xander’s feelings about himself, Spike jokingly insisted they dance with a few.  As he was unable to pay attention to anyone other than Xander, it didn’t take long for Spike’s partners to grow disappointed and go looking for less distracted company; Xander seemed permanently uncomfortable – naturally Spike refused to notice that a vampire’s constant scowling scrutiny might be a major part of the problem – and it wasn’t long before Spike cut in and took Xander back, seeing off any further interested parties.  He only needed Xander’s company and arrogantly decided that the feeling was mutual.

Xander got the message fast, and Spike felt the difference.  One minute the atmosphere between them was a couple of mates on the town, the next they were more, they were together, and Spike was pleasantly surprised that Xander wasn’t afraid to show it.

Every time they danced Spike became a little more turned on and, Spike being Spike, Xander had to be reminded who was responsible for his condition and told in graphic terms how Spike would like to relieve those persistent erections.

Four in the morning and they were in each other’s arms, gently swaying, brows and more touching, wonderfully ignored and anonymous in the midst of the gradually thinning crowd.  Both fully aroused by now, Spike pressed their bodies together, murmuring about ending this delicious torment in terms that left Xander trembling with desire.

“I’m desperate to be in you,” Spike groaned, a split second’s weakness, certainly something he hadn’t intended saying.

Xander manoeuvred them to a quieter spot and Spike waited for the inevitable rejection.

“Will you hurt me?”


“Desperate to be in me but will you hurt me?”

No.  I want you to want me, Xander, to keep wanting me.  This has to be about pleasure so you’ll keep wanting me.”

“I’m…I’m…”  Xander took a deep breath and huffed it out.  “I’m sorry, I’m…”

“I know.  I didn’t mean to say that, just…”

“A little worked up,” Xander grinned.  “Yeah.  Know the feeling.  Boy, do I.”

Spike returned the smile, glad that no damage had been done, and he drew Xander back to the floor.

Xander thought about it as they danced – what Spike wanted – getting harder still as Spike’s body ground against him, eager to be close; Spike loved to be close, yet Xander knew that he’d back off with a word.  Little to be scared of if he could reconcile himself to the possibility of a backside sore from welcome use rather than necessary abuse.  The slightest encouragement and Spike was kissing him, seductively, because Spike kissed seductively, not because Spike was trying to seduce him.

Not being seduced was enough to tilt the scales, and he dragged Spike back to the fractionally quieter spot.

“You know what you did before?” Xander asked awkwardly, glad he was flushed from dancing so his blushes would go unnoticed.  “When I was sore?”

“Stuck my tongue in you?”

“If you did that before we, or rather you…”  Xander took a deep breath.  “If you did that prior to fucking me, would that make sure it didn’t hurt?”

“I have no intention of hurting you.”

“But would it?”

“I’d do it anyway, just to have you wriggling around and…”

“Would it help?”

“…hard as a rock.  Liked it, didn’t you?  Hard isn’t the word – beyond hard; could’ve cut diamonds with your prick.”


“I don’t know what difference it would make.  Vampire saliva heals humans.  If there’s nothing to heal, and I don’t intend to leave you needing that…”

“Okay,” Xander blurted out before he could change his mind.






“You mean…  Okay?” Spike repeated weakly.

“When we get back to our room.”

“Say it.”

“You can fuck me.”

“Say it.”

“You can fuck me.”

“Xander, say it.”

“I want you to fuck me.”

Another move, now into denser shadows, Xander kissing Spike passionately and knowing exactly what was needed: whispering about the thrilling prospect of being fucked by a demon, being fucked by Spike, being full of Spike, Xander massaged the vampire’s steely cock with the heel of his hand until Spike was clinging to the wall in a post-orgasmic daze.

“Xander…  Love…  You have no idea what this means to me.”

“I think I do.  I hope I do.”

Spike kissed Xander, so gently their lips barely touched.

“Say it.”

“I want you to fuck me.”

“Say it.”

“I want you—”

Another kiss stunted the sentence.  Leaving Spike with exactly what he wanted to hear.