Repossession by Lazuli Kat



Chapter 5

The trip was less stressful than Xander had expected, the hardest part was getting the vampire to leave the security of his apartment and accept the car as friendly.  In the hours before they’d left he’d done everything he could to make Spike relax; they’d slept, the radio playing softly and successfully distracting Spike from the sound of drilling.  They’d shared a bath, semi-clad Xander sitting behind Spike and washing the vampire’s hair countless times just because Spike loved the sensation.  He’d taken great care dressing the vampire’s wounds, smearing on extra anaesthetic cream so the journey would be more comfortable.  It had been quite a moment when he’d slipped the duster onto Spike and the vampire had run his hands appreciatively over the soft leather, studied it, then looked up with the almost smile that sometimes – only sometimes – threatened to ignite something wondrous in the passive blue eyes.

Once in the car Xander had placed six CDs into the player and showed Spike how to work the controls, remembering how, when Patrick first presented him with this vehicular object of desire, he’d been afraid to touch anything in case he broke it.  Now it was a taken-for-granted, custom-sprayed metallic-burgundy extension of Alexander Harris, all one-hundred-and-thirty thousand dollars-worth of it.  He loved this car: the Mercedes-Benz statement of success.  And Spike would have truly adored it once.  Before it was simply big, red, scary.

They made good time and the sun hadn’t been up long when Xander pulled straight into the garage adjoining Willow’s house, watching in the rear-view mirror as the door closed behind them: Willow was evidently up and waiting.  Xander undid his and Spike’s seatbelts, gently rousing his friend from the doze he’d drifted into.

“We’re there.  Here.”  Spike snapped awake, grabbing at Xander, catching his wrist and holding it as he looked around the murk of the garage.  “Nothing to be scared of.  We’re just going to get out of the car and go into the house.  Willow’s waiting for us, and she’s a good friend of us both.  She’s kind and gentle and is no threat.  Understand?”  Swallow.  Nod.

One foot inside the house and Willow was in Xander’s arms, hugging him ferociously and whispering his name over and over as if she couldn’t believe it was really him.  Eventually Xander was able to cup her lovely face in his hands, looking at her, updating his mental picture before gently kissing her mouth.

“You look great.”

“But you look terrible.”


“Come in, right in.”  Willow drew Xander into the hall and looked past him for Spike, calling his name in her best nurturing voice.  The vampire edged into the light and Xander heard Willow stifle a gasp at his appearance.  “Hi, Spike,” she said, so falsely bright it was painful to hear.  “Come in, too.  It’s…it’s good to see you.  I’ve missed you.”  Willow’s voice trembled and Xander reached out to squeeze her hand.  She squeezed back, as desperate-feeling a squeeze as Xander had ever experienced.  Spike observed the contact and did the blink.  Xander saw, smiled, went to him.

“Willow’s going to show us around, tell us where to put our stuff.  You should see if anything looks familiar to you.”

Spike’s hand knotted itself in the back of Xander’s shirt and his shaking was working along the material in a capillary action.  Not good, Xander thought, but he kept on smiling the reassuring smile that was so past it’s use-by date but still.  Reaching behind himself and prising the hand from his shirt, he kept a firm hold of it and turned back to Willow with a nod.

Willow took them around the house, ending up at Spike’s room.

“Do you want to go in?” she asked him.  “It’s just as you left it.  But clean.  I cleaned it, I don’t mean it wasn’t clean when…”  She stopped and took a breath.  “Go in, Spike.  Xander, take him in.  I’ll…  I’ll be downstairs.  Kettle.  Coffee.  Tears.”

Xander swung the door open and guided Spike into the room, turning to flick on the light.  Xander had never been in this room although he’d visited the house before, and he drank the picture in.  Spike’s home for five years.  So sparse it was more credible that someone had merely used it for a couple of nights while passing through.  The walls were plain, a matt silver-grey; heavy blinds and drapes on the window but Xander could feel a hint of a breeze coming from that direction; wardrobe, dresser, bed, chair.  Furnishings were dark blue, carpet was dark grey.   Half a bottle of JD by the TV on the dresser, remote and ashtray on the chair next to the bed.  All of the ‘ours’ belongings that Xander had sent over from their apartment had obviously been rejected, and the five-year-old hurt that had its own special little compartment in his heart throbbed viciously.

“Remember this?”  Shake.

Xander looked in the wardrobe: a few items of clothing but largely bare.  The first three drawers of the dresser were similarly unused, but the last was filled with mementos, many of which Xander recognised and connections sparked in his mind.  Here were the letters he had written after moving, all unopened but worn enough to suggest they had been held and contemplated time and again.  And there was the gold chain he’d given Spike that last Christmas together, carefully wrapped in a silk handkerchief.

“Something to remember me by.  For when I’m dead and gone.”

“I’m never going to forget you, Xander.  And it’s not like you’re going anywhere.”

Had it been too painful to remember?  Is that why he’d taken it off?  Or had he belligerently chosen to forget the man who’d deserted him?  But if he’d wanted to forget…  Balled in the corner of the drawer was one of Xander’s multi-coloured shirts that Spike always professed to hate, one he remembered throwing out before he moved.  Spike must have retrieved it from the garbage.  To have a piece of him.  As poignant as the empty cigarette pack in Xander’s bedside cabinet?  Xander shakily pushed the drawer shut and went to where Spike sat on the bed looking positively dejected, sitting next to him and putting an arm around his shoulders.  The vampire leant in, hands coming up to grasp at whatever clothing they could fix on, pulling Xander closer.

“I know it’s strange here, but you’ll – we’ll – get used to it.  Listen to how quiet it is.”  Spike listened, nodded.  “That’s got to be better than this time yesterday.  Once I unpack and you see things you know around you you’ll settle down, I promise.  And you have me.  Constantly.”  That hit the mark; Spike found Xander’s hand and pressed his brow to it.  Xander ruffled Spike’s hair and kissed the back of his head.  “Let’s go get some food, and sort out our stuff.  Hey…”  Xander brought up Spike’s face to make eye contact.  “Willow cares about you and wants to help take care of you.  I need you to be brave with her, okay?  Let her help you.”  Spike didn’t look convinced but gave a half-hearted nod.  Xander smiled wearily.  “That’ll do for now.”

Willow had started bringing in the luggage from the car.  She’d found Spike’s mug and was ready to hand it over, filled with warm blood as he and Xander came downstairs.  She offered, Spike looked from her face to the mug, face to mug, face to mug, suspicious but hungry.  Xander recognised the pattern.

“Take it,” he told Spike.

“Nice ‘n’ warm,” Willow encouraged, taking a step forward.

Spike was behind Xander before they saw him move.  Xander took the mug from Willow with a sympathetic look and gave the blood to the vampire, pressing the mug into his hands and guiding him to the sofa.

“Sit.”   Spike sat.  “Drink.”  Spike drank.  “Want me to take your boots off?”  Emphatic nod.  “Sore?”  Nod.

Willow watched the exceptional care Xander took as he removed the soft boots, unlacing and pulling them open to remove Spike’s feet rather than sliding them off.  It reiterated how bad the injuries still were without her having to ask and upset Xander further because, however brave he tried to be, she could feel the distress radiating from him; if she listened hard enough she’d probably hear his heart breaking.  Spike gave several involuntary flinches, but he seemed to take the pain for granted and didn’t even glance up from his food.  Xander stroked Spike’s toes until they wriggled in his hands and the vampire met Xander’s questioning look, giving a brief nod.

Spike touched the lapel of the duster and Xander understood he wanted that off too.  One of the reasons Xander had wanted him to wear it was to lessen the shock for Willow when she saw him: not only was it a fundamental part of the Spike persona, but it also helped disguise his appalling physical state.  Now Spike wanted rid of it and Willow was looking ready to disintegrate into the hopeless, sobbing state Xander had personally visited on several occasions.  Xander took the mug and passed it to Willow, speaking quietly as he did so.

“See this at a distance.”

Willow frowned but slowly moved away to the doorway.  Xander stood Spike up and helped him out of the duster; Willow forgot how to breathe, and she dizzily rocked into the doorframe, letting it support her.  When Xander had used the word skeletal she had thought thin.  But Spike was…skeletal.  And those livid scars on his arms…  New tears welled, and she forced herself to walk away from the heartbreaking vision, straight to the kitchen where she heated more blood.  She ran her fingers over the letters painted stylishly on the side of the mug.  S – P – I – K – E.  The tears fell.

However much a relief it was for Xander to be with someone he could talk to, he couldn’t help wondering if he’d made the right decision or if he and Spike would have been better off somewhere by themselves.  Exhausted by the drive, Xander had barely shifted from the sofa for hours; Spike sat at his feet, head leant on his knee, appearing asleep until Xander stopped running fingers through his hair, then he’d shift uncomfortably until Xander began again.  The couple of times Xander had moved had caused great consternation, and when Xander insisted on leaving Spike behind while he went to the bathroom, Willow had been stunned by the fear in the vampire’s eyes at being left alone with her.  She had calmly explained that they’d shared this house for five years – well, four-and-a-half before he’d disappeared six months previously – sometimes just the two of them, sometimes with others, and that they’d been great friends.  She’d asked if he remembered, knowing full well that he didn’t, but he’d been too frightened to even shake his head.  The gratitude Spike displayed when Xander returned was quite desperate, and it took Xander’s unswerving attention and fifteen minutes of reassurance before he settled again, sliding to sit at Xander’s feet once more despite being encouraged to stay beside him on the sofa.

When Xander heard that Buffy and Dawn wanted to call around later that evening his unresolved hostility toward the slayer started to gnaw away at him.  He didn’t know if he could stand another session of being polite with Buffy – he’d even missed the last couple of Thanksgivings and Christmas’s at Willow’s just so he wouldn’t mope or start a fight the better part of him didn’t want to partake in.  Common sense told him to let it go, Buffy had been too good a friend to let this blow them apart, but the memory of the damage she and Angel had allowed to be inflicted on Spike was vivid, and it was hard to be magnanimous when he couldn’t shake the image of Spike, shattered by the unwarranted betrayal, collapsed and bleeding out on the kitchen floor, could still hear the bewildered voice asking why him.

“You said that Spike made his peace with Angel and Buffy.”

“He did.”


“About four years ago.”



“Talked,” Xander confirmed disbelievingly.

“Talked.”   Willow squirmed.

“Was it particularly…” Xander shrugged, “…violence-based, this conversation?”

“There was an element of violence.”

“Did he kick the shit out of them?”

“There was an element of shit-kicking.”

“Did they, maybe, just let him get it out of his system?”

“Maybe.   And loudly.  Lots of shouting, violence, shit-kicking.  He was satisfied.  He can be very…accepting, Xander.  When he understood the why of it and he’d had the chance to pulp Angel he…accepted.”

Xander launched into a brooding pause that Angel himself would have been proud of.

“Why wasn’t I told?  A quick, ‘Hey, Xan, just need to sacrifice your roomie to a demon, don’t mind the carnage because we think we’ve got a plan,’ would’ve helped me get used to the idea.”

“Spike couldn’t know and…”

“I was suddenly not to be trusted?”

“We didn’t know—”  Willow stopped abruptly, a blush tinting her face.

“We looking at pillow talk here?  Buffy got that stupid idea into your head and you couldn’t get past it?  Fine.  You thought we were fucking and I was going to scream out your secrets in the throes of passion.”

“No,” Willow said patiently through gritted teeth.  “But the two of you were very close, and you’re not great at keeping things from him.  If you’d have known, Spike would have seen something was wrong and pestered it out of you.”  Xander had to concede that point: to Spike, pestering was an Olympic event and he could compete for his country.  “Xander, you have to put this aside.  Right now, getting Spike better is what matters.”

Xander sighed and nodded, feeling foolish and embarrassed that he had to be reminded of his priorities.  He screwed his fingers into Spike’s hair, felt an instantaneous rumble against his leg and leant forward.

“Want to come up here and make things okay for Xander?”

Ignoring Willow’s surprise, Xander let Spike slide onto his lap and snuggle up.  Within seconds a quiet purr started and Xander gestured Willow to them with a tilt of his head.  The watcher slowly moved to sit next to Xander, listening intently.  Xander pressed his face into Spike’s hair and kissed; the purr intensified and Willow showed the wonder of it on her expressive face.

“That’s…that’s…extraordinary,” she stuttered.  She moved a little so she could see where Spike’s mouth had moved to nuzzle Xander’s neck.  “Has he ever tried to bite you?”

“Never.   Well, not in the past two weeks,” he grinned, and Willow grinned back.

“You mind if I tell Giles the purr thing is true?”

Xander shook his head, starting to feel the stupefying effects of the sensation on his tired body.  With his chin he nudged Spike’s head into a comfortable position and rested his cheek in the unruly hair.  His eyes closed and he knew he was passing out rather than falling asleep.

“Just an hour,” he muttered to Willow, vaguely feeling a touch to his arm in reply before he was gone.


As Xander woke he was instantly aware of muted voices elsewhere in the house, and he glanced awkwardly over the back of the sofa to find the door to the living room closed.  Glad that Willow had given him this privacy he gently roused Spike with soft words and touches.

“Hungry?”   Dozy nod.  Snuggle.  “You have to wake up and eat.  You waking up, Spike?”  Nod.  “Now listen to me.  There are other people you have to meet…”  The vampire’s head jerked up.  “More friends.  Just remember that no-one is going to hurt you.  Well, I hope no-one’s gonna hurt you, but people keep on coming out with stupid stuff and doing it without meaning to.”  Blink.  “Never mind.  We’re just going to be brave, right?”  Rock.  Xander smiled.  “Yes, we are, no argument.”  He kissed Spike’s forehead and eased the bony figure from his lap, standing and stretching, all the time watching Spike listening to the voices beyond the door.  Curiosity, that was a whole lot better than terror.  “I’m going to find Willow and get you something to eat.  Staying here?”  Nod.  “Okay.  I’ll be back soon.  No-one will come in here without me.  You’re safe.”  Swallow.  Nod.

Xander went to the kitchen, finding Willow cooking while Buffy and Dawn sat at the table and chatted with her about the obvious subject.  The moment Dawn saw him she was on her feet and speeding in his direction, throwing herself into his arms.  He hugged her back and gave Buffy a genuine smile over her sister’s shoulder.  Buffy’s reciprocal smile was warm and, if Xander was not mistaken, more than a little relieved.  She stood and came to him, prising Dawn away to facilitate her own hug.

“It’s good to see you, Xander.”

“You too.”  For the moment it was true.  “You’re looking well.  Complete.  Head, limbs, nothing missing, no visible teeth marks.”

“And you look like a man who drove all night and slept for an hour.”

“That good, huh?”  Xander set about preparing Spike’s blood.  “Driving all night was nothing.  The past two weeks, that’s where the Alex-you-look-like-shit mantra originated.”


“At work, y’know.”

Buffy and Willow exchanged a look.

“Alex,” they said together with a smile.

Dawn was impatiently dithering in the doorway.

“Can I see Spike?”

“Wait for me.  Go in by yourself and you’ll scare him.”

“But it’s Spike,” Dawn protested.

“Denial,” Willow mouthed to Xander.

“It’s Spike, yes.  But it’s not…your Spike.  Well, maybe inside but I haven’t been able to reach him.  He’s not going to know you, Dawn.”

“But he…  He’s one of my best friends.  We did everything together.”

“That had better not be everything in an everything sense,” Buffy muttered under her breath.

“He has to know me.  He’ll know me.  Xander, he’s going to know me.”

Xander sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, leaving his hands linked on top of his head to stop his brain exploding out.

“Don’t let it upset you, it’s not like it’s deliberate.  There are much bigger issues here to get upset over.”  The microwave pinged and Xander filled Spike’s mug.  “He’s in bad shape.”

“I’ve warned them what to expect.”

“Okay.   What you’ve got to remember is don’t creep up on him, no sharp moves towards him, no loud noise, no TV, and whatever you do, don’t call him—” Xander caught himself, aware of the superior hearing in the living room.  “Don’t call him by his real name.”

“You mean…” Buffy got the superior hearing thing too.  “…the W name?”

“That’s the one.”

“No TV?”  Dawn finally started to understand.  “This isn’t Spike.”


Xander gave Spike the mug and waited for him to drain it.

“They’re coming in now.  They’ll be away from the door, so if you get unhappy you can go up to your – our room.  You know where that is?”  Nod.  “Don’t wait for me if you want to go up there.  I’ll catch you up.”  Nod.  Xander turned to the door and called for his friends to come in.  Willow came in first, clearing the door as they’d agreed.  Dawn entered next, then Buffy, and slowly, slowly, they crossed the room to join Willow.  Spike stared at the new arrivals warily, edging closer to Xander and wrapping his hand around one of Xander’s fingers.

“This is Dawn.”

“Hi, Spike,” Dawn spoke as coached, but the audible wobble in her voice reflected the shock on her face at the sight of her Big Bad.

“And this is Buffy.”

“Hey, Spike,” she said softly, taking half a step forward.

Spike jumped and Xander restrained a yelp, rescuing the finger Spike had jarred and giving the vampire a whole hand.


Willow was concentrating on Spike’s face and she sent a look to Xander to tell him to pay attention.  He did, and was shocked to see the sparkle of gold in the blue eyes.

“That hasn’t happened before.  He hasn’t shown any signs of turning.”

“It’s instinctive.  A subconscious response that would protect him in usual circumstances.  He doesn’t seem aggressive, but…  Buffy, I think you should keep your distance.”

“You want me to leave?”  The slayer deferred to her watcher.

“No.   Let’s wait and see if he settles down.”

Xander took Spike’s chin and turned his head; once focused on Xander the gold faded instantly and the flagrant adoration returned.

“Is there a problem with Buffy?”  Spike refused to relinquish the hand he had a grip on so he carefully passed his mug to Xander, freeing a hand for the ‘not sure’ rock.  “You want her to go?”  The hand rested on Xander’s chest.  “Me?  You mean what do I want?”  Nod.  “I want her to stay, but…”  Nod.  “Sure?”  Nod.

“Spike.”   Spike jumped again at the sound of Buffy’s voice and turned sharply.  The gold flashed in his eyes but he showed more of a need to escape from her than attack: only the physical contact with Xander kept him in the room.  “Spike, I am not going to hurt you.  I may…feel…different from the others, but I promise you I am not going to hurt you.  Xander knows I wouldn’t.”

Spike deliberated and looked to Xander for confirmation.

“It’s true.  You don’t think I’d put you in danger, do you?  Not my Spike.”  The vampire stared at Xander, apparently lost in his own thoughts, but then his gaze dulled and Xander could almost feel him closing down.   “Spike?”  Xander held out the mug and Willow hurried to take it.  Hands freed, Xander cupped Spike’s face, stroking the cheeks with his thumbs, trying to regain contact.  “What’s wrong?  Spike!”  The edge of panic in the human’s voice broke through the haze and Spike came to with a jolt, pushed past the hands and awkwardly slid his arms around Xander.  The embrace was returned with relief.  “This all too much?”  Nod.

“Buffy may be causing an adverse effect,” Willow pointed out in a low voice.  “It won’t make much sense to Spike, but it can’t feel good if the overall impression is fight or run, especially in his…his condition.”

Without further comment Xander gently loosened the vampire’s hold on him and guided him from the room.


Once in their bedroom Xander checked to see if the electric blanket was switched on – yes, Willow must have done that as soon as she put it on the bed – and he helped Spike to change into a big sloppy t-shirt and sweatpants so he’d be comfortable.

“Want me to leave your dressings until tomorrow?”  Nod.  “You want something to eat?”  Shake.  “How many bags today?”  Spike thought carefully and then studied his hands as he made his fingers into the number and showed Xander.  “Six.  Isn’t enough.  I want you to eat lots more tomorrow.  I’ll show you how to use the microwave here to warm up your blood, okay?”  Nod.  “You look so tired.  Are you all right, Spike?”  Nod.  Xander held the covers while Spike got into bed, then carefully arranged them over the vampire.  “I’m going back downstairs for a while, get something to eat, talk to the girls.  Is that okay?”  Pause.  Nod.  “No-one will come in here but me, I promise.  Shall I leave a light on?”  Barely conscious nod.  Xander sat beside Spike and stroked his hair until he was asleep, leaning over to kiss a cold temple before crossing to the dresser and switching on a lamp, turning off the overhead light and leaving the room.

Xander sat at the table and pushed the food around his plate.  He’d been hungry until it came to eating, but then he didn’t have the energy or the appetite.  Maybe if Spike had joined them he’d have managed, because everything revolved around the vampire now, and even if he was only a flight of stairs away Xander felt incomplete and antsy this far apart.  Propped up by an elbow alongside his plate, he rested his head in his hand and closed his eyes, semi-listening to a familiar discussion about these demons and those demons and what Giles had said about them.   It wasn’t until he felt Dawn move close to him that he raised his head and met her eyes.

“I know,” she said in a grim tone.  “I can see it in your face and I feel it too.”  Xander waited.  Dawn took a deep, controlling breath.  “Mourning.  You’re in mourning for our Spike.  I don’t know how you’ve coped this long.”

“He never let me down, Dawnie, not when it mattered.  However bizarre his approach, he was there for me.  He never let me down,” Xander reiterated.  He held up a hand, showing a tiny gap between thumb and forefinger.  “But I’m this close to doing it to him.”

Dawn wrapped her fingers around Xander’s, effectively disposing of the gesture.

“Give yourself a break.  If it wasn’t for you he’d be dead.”

“He is.  You said it yourself.  We’re in mourning because our Spike is dead.  He’s gone.  Maybe it would have been better if…”  Dawn’s hand tightened sharply around his.  “No.  No, I don’t mean it, you know I don’t mean it.  I’m just…”  The pain was so close to the surface now he was terrified someone would brush against it and leave him screaming.  “Tired.”  He retrieved his hand and stood.  “Sorry, Willow, this is great but I’m too tired to eat.”  He left the room before anyone had a chance to respond.


This was better: horizontal, warm, almost-darkness, Spike.  A little sleep would be good too but the mind that was grinding to a halt downstairs was now racing.  However convinced of the benefits Xander pretended to be, he was always going to have problems about being in Sunnydale with a helpless vampire and a large community of demons.  Who was he kidding?  He was always going to have problems being in Sunnydale, period.  However much Willow reassured him, he knew he wasn’t going to get over the Buffy grudge thing any time soon, and what was it about the atmosphere of this place that made him feel like doughnut-boy again?  He’d made it, his life was a success, but bring him back to his roots and he felt like he’d been dragged in on the sole of someone’s shoe.  Fuck them, they had no right to make him feel like this.  He had no right.  For God’s sake, it wasn’t them it was him.  Loser mentality.

A delicate touch to his arm froze Xander, and he realised with a flash of guilt how much he’d been tossing and turning.

“Did I wake you?  I’m sorry, I’m just…wound up, I guess.”  The touch became a stroke, soothing and restful.  Xander took a deep breath and sighed it out, forcing his muscles to relax a little.  Eyes closed, he felt Spike come closer, hand moving to his chest, resting over his heart and, even if Xander couldn’t see the vampire’s fascination, somehow he could feel it.  He moved his arm out of the way and Spike slid to his side, head taking his hand’s place, listening to the steady beat of Xander’s heart and squirming until he was comfortable, half-draped over Xander’s body.  Xander lovingly closed his arms around the frail figure, feeling waves of emotional pain ebbing and flowing as he unwillingly remembered…

Xander was on the way to bed when Spike came in, full of enthusiasm for his latest fight, regaling his friend with an undoubtedly exaggerated account of his part in the battle.  He listened happily, just glad that Spike had returned in one piece.  Herded to the kitchen to serve as captive audience Xander leant back against the counter and enjoyed the yarn, grimacing or laughing at the vampire’s retelling of the night’s events.  Spike suddenly spun toward him and stopped to look.

“You did something different, pet.”


Spike came to him, very close – personal space had ceased to mean anything a long time ago – sweeping his fingers through Xander’s hair, messing up the tidiness, coming to a sudden halt as he looked from Xander’s hair to his face.  The familiarity wasn’t new, but this felt…different.  Charged.  Their eyes met and held, and Xander could see the challenge in the depths of the piercing blue: he’d seen it before, this, ‘want me, want me’, but never quite so transparently or desperately.  Spike leant in so that the entire length of their bodies touched, letting Xander’s strong form take the weight, and he nuzzled Xander’s neck.

“You’re so warm, Xan.  Hot.”  His mouth crept up to Xander’s ear.  “You’re so damned hot.”

Xander didn’t stir, refusing to move his hands from where they tightly gripped the edge of the counter, knowing if he touched Spike he’d be lost, no way back.  He tilted his head away from the cool mouth that was tormenting him.

“You’re right.  I’ll turn the heat down.”  Spike pulled back to meet his eyes once more, and Xander could see the disappointment; the vampire couldn’t make his feelings any more obvious, it was up to Xander to make the move and Xander wasn’t about to.  “Fresh blood in the icebox,” he smiled, being a friend because more was unthinkable.  There was a pause before Spike gently kissed his cheek.

“Thanks, love.”

And he backed off, turning to the refrigerator and throwing open the door, grabbing himself a bag and stalking to the microwave with it.

“G’night,” Xander offered gently, regretfully, as he left the kitchen, turning back to see Spike lean on the counter, body language screaming of unhappiness and frustration as his head drooped onto his arms.

That night Xander locked his bedroom door for the first time.  The next day he began looking for a new job.

He didn’t look locally.

Fool?   Coward?  Loser, loser, loser.  He shivered and came back to the here and now as Spike’s purr vibrated through his entire body, anaesthetising his senses and slowing his mind.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.  “I should have said yes, should have…  But I was always scared.  After everything   I’d lost I couldn’t deal with having you and losing you.  I’d never felt so strongly about anybody, never thought I could until I did.  How would I have kept you after the novelty wore off?  I’m never enough, not me, not Xander.  Novelty seems to be all I have to offer.  Had.  Past tense.  Had to offer.  If it was now, if you’d turned up on the doorstep and said you still…  If…”  Xander gasped as Spike’s mouth came to his throat and nuzzled, sending an unexpected shockwave to stir his long-suppressed libido.  “Hey, no, don’t,” he murmured as he guided Spike back to lay on his chest.  A whole heap of new guilt emerged and it took a few minutes for Xander to convince himself that he was not some kind of monster and that he would never take advantage of Spike and, for pity’s sake, he was only human.  In his head he heard the response of old.  ‘Only human?  That’s being a bit hard on yourself.’  Xander smiled sadly and cuddled his vampire, finally allowing himself to be lulled to sleep by the steady drone of Spike’s contented purring.