Repossession by Lazuli Kat



Chapter 14

Great.  Three days before the move and he was trying to destroy what he had.  Want to be rattling around in that big house all by yourself?  No, not for a moment.  But…Spike.  Spike, Spike, Spike, Spike, Spike  Fucking stop it, Harris!  He’s not yours to do that stuff to.  You can’t do that stuff, you’re going to lose everything.

Hell, he was tired.  No sleep last night, up early and into work before it was barely light.  He’d scarcely been able to raise the courage to face Spike, and the vampire…  Well, when Xander had come back from the bathroom Spike had been asleep, turned away from Xander, very much on his own side of the bed for the first time since God only knows.  Was this rejection?  Or maybe just the result of Spike falling asleep by himself for once.  On his own side of the bed?  Okay, so usually if Spike slept by himself it was on Xander’s side, but that didn’t mean anything.  Did it?  But did Spike wake up to say goodbye this morning?  No.  All he’d seen was a tuft of hair between pillow and blankets.  No hello and goodbye, no affectionate look, no sleepy wave.  Oh, fuck, he was screwed.

Spike was changing and Xander had no idea of what he was dealing with and, oh, fuck, he was screwed.

Spike woke slowly, wondering when Willow had been suckered into putting an electric blanket on his bed, but appreciating the thought nevertheless.  He began to stretch but didn’t have the energy so he flopped instead.  Why did he feel so incredibly weak?  What the hell had he been drinking…

Xander.  He was surrounded by the scent of Xander.  A shudder of longing ran through his body and he tried to wrap his mind around the fact that Xander had been here.  Xander, his Xander, his beloved Xander.  And he didn’t remember?

Spike forced himself to relax and concentrated, trying to find a point to fix his mind on, but he was met with an elusiveness that made him feel positively queasy.  Then, in another room, the telephone began to ring and William knew it was Master and he had to answer the call.

Spike struggled to rise as William demanded and the memories returned in an almighty flood, shocking him senseless as he was met by a torrent of horrific and debilitating images and sensations.  For a moment he was overwhelmed, and he was back there, he was blind and dumb, his body kept so cold he had no feeling and the only way he could hold onto his sanity was by slapping frozen hands on the walls and the floor so he could hear because they hadn’t taken that sense away.  Now he screamed.  He screamed because he could.  And the person he screamed for was Xander.

It passed.  The fear passed, the impression of detachment and numbness melted away.  Xander had saved him.  Saved…somebody.  William.  Why William?  No, he was Spike and Xander had saved him and kept him and loved him.  Spike not William, the demon protested furiously.  The anger was what Spike needed to get his emaciated body going, and he flung off the bedclothes, standing, throwing back the head that bore a demon’s face and roaring, roaring back to life.

He weaved erratically to the kitchen, opening the refrigerator and grabbing up a bag of blood, savaging it, drinking it cold and in a few seconds.  He was halfway through the stock of bags before he slowed down and began to warm the blood, reaching automatically for his own mug and smiling when he read the hand-painted ‘Spike’ on the side.  He left a couple of bags for later and headed for the bathroom, running the shower as he stripped, impatiently tearing away the dressings, excited by the pinpricks of pain where the scabs were ripped away too.  He stood under the water for a long time, letting it soften his skin before he flexed, and the last of the splinters squeezed out, washing away in a stream of bloody water.  The huge amount of human blood in his system fed the healing, and he leant against the shower wall, panting, as his muscles filled and the flesh healed.

An hour later he was drying off, repeatedly burying his face in the towel and inhaling because it smelt of Xander, enjoying the frisson of excitement that every thought of the human brought him.  The phone rang again and, once more, it was William who urged him to answer, panicked at the thought of not hearing that adored voice.  It was the panic that made Spike refuse to comply, however much he wanted to talk to his pet.  Master vampires did not weakly scurry around at the bidding of voices in their heads.  And Spike was strong, he was whole.  He was back.

Xander sat in the car staring at his phone.  Spike wasn’t answering.  That was fine, nothing to get concerned over, sometimes he slept through the call.  And he could have slept through both of these.  Xander wasn’t sure how tired a mentally incapacitated, badly injured, frail vampire would be after someone forced themselves on them.   Stop it, stop it, stop it!  Everything would be fine.  Go home, apologise, words of love…  Oh, God, he’d said it, hadn’t he?  After knowing and wanting to for years he’d said it.  Told Spike he loved him.  This Spike or his Spike, he loved them both, sincerely if not entirely equally.  How would his Spike have responded to what he’d done?  A smile crossed Xander’s face.  Wanted more, of course, didn’t believe in half-measures.  The smile faded.

“I love you,” he whispered to the image of his Spike that he kept safe in his mind.  How would it be to hear those words returned?  Spike cannot speak, you moron.  But this Spike showed it with every look, every gesture.  Xander swallowed hard: that may be all he would ever have.  He had better get used to it.

Spike’s mind was in a state of flux and it was irritating the hell out of him.  He’d lost count of the fuck offs he’d delivered in response to William’s reprimands: empty blood bags in the kitchen sink, pizza crumbs on the carpet, dirty clothes and splinters on the bathroom floor, clippings from the haircut he’d given himself all over the basin, nosing through Xander’s personal things.  Now the other voice had shut up he was prepared to clean up after himself, but he had to pry, couldn’t help it.  He was looking for something he’d seen a few days ago, something Xander said was for him, but for later.  Spike knew where it had been but couldn’t find it now.  Xander must have moved it because William, irritating prig he may be, was far too organised (as in anally retentive) to misplace a thing.

He finally found the envelope in the packing box with the CDs and threw himself onto the sofa to stare at it, just happy to be able to read what was scrawled on it, happy that Xander had thought of him and written his name.  You are so wet.  Should be ashamed of yourself.  It took another ten minutes to work up the courage to open it.  Ten minutes of wondering whether this was the love letter or the kiss-off.   Okay…

‘Dear Spike…’  Xander’s scent on the paper.  Want him.  ‘Dear Spike, if you ever revert to your old self I know you’ll be snooping around and will find this.’  Bloody cheek!  Well, okay, point taken.  ‘Hi, welcome back.  Can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve missed you.’  Show me later, eh?  ‘You are so going to love me for what’s clipped to the back of this letter, you’ll even forgive the name, which was convenience…’  Spike pulled off the paperclip and an American Express Gold Card fell into his lap.  He picked it up and looked at the name: S Harris.  Spike snickered.  ‘…which was convenience rather than proprietorship.’  Big word, pet.  Let me show you what it means?  ‘Find the bank statement and see what you’ve got access to – I should be feeling happy vampire tremors in the force about now.’  Spike found a folded statement in the envelope and spread it flat, eyebrow cocking at the hefty six-figure-plus-loose-change balance.  He laughed.  You know me so well.  Hope you’re getting the tremor.  ‘In the basement of this building are a bunch of shops, no sunlight anywhere.  I hope you’re well enough to enjoy.  If you go out remember to take your keys – look on the hook by the front door.’

Spike did, finding a set of keys on a sparkling new keychain, the tab design taken from Xander’s own handwriting: ‘Spike’ it stated adamantly.  The man in question smugly traced the letters several times before slipping it into his jeans pocket.  White gold.  Specially made.  For me.  He did that for me.  Xander was thinking of me.  Xander.  Want him.  Back to the sofa and the letter.

‘If you are still pissed with me and are leaving, take the card and use it to look after yourself.  I’m sorry (that word isn’t enough) for the way I left you so I won’t blame you for reciprocating.  I was a fool, never good enough for you anyway.  Just know that I have always loved you and still do.  I love you so much.’  Soppy git, Spike thought tearfully.  ‘Please take care.  Xander.’

Spike re-read the letter until it was memorised.  He thinks I’m going to do a runner.

“Oh, no, Xan, you’re mixing me up with somebody who has a little pride.  Think you’ll find I’m not going anywhere.”

He found a pen and, after practising the signature a few times on the envelope, signed the back of the Gold Card, chuckling again at the name.  Still, he could live with it: he’d certainly been called worse.  Making a mental shopping list he shrugged the duster on, pleased that it fit again rather than hanging limply on the skeleton he’d been a few hours previously.  Out of habit he grabbed the tail of the coat and ran it through his hands, seriously losing his composure when he failed to locate the picture in the lining.  Then he remembered, turning to the mantelpiece and snatching the photograph – his photograph – of Xander, possessively stuffing it into one of the deep pockets before taking a few minutes to calm down.  Couple of deep, deep breaths…  It’s an affectation, you arse.  …and he was out the front door.

The first trip didn’t take long, and he was back with the ingredients that made him the Spike that he wanted to present to Xander: bleach, hair gel, black nail polish, even managed to find a new pair of Doc Martin’s.  He fished a lock of hair out of the trash so he could dose it up and keep an eye on the bleaching process, deciding against the older and slightly less reliable method of waiting until he couldn’t bear the burning of his scalp any longer to wash the blue gunk off.  And while he was gunking himself blond he painted his nails and listened to the radio, not quite understanding why he didn’t reach for the TV remote, but there you go.

The conversations with William continued until he was convinced of his insanity.  Was this what it was like for Dru?  Was this how the voices sounded for her?  Spike scowled, unconvinced.  The stars and the moon rarely wagged a mental finger at the clock and insisted that there was nothing in the kitchen good enough to celebrate this significant occasion and he had better get his arse in gear if he wanted to get something ready before the luscious one arrived home.  Or poncey words to that effect.

An hour-and-a-half later, thoroughly Spiked, he set off on his second trip to the underground mall; food, chocolate, wine, chocolate, candles, chocolate, flowers.  And maybe some chocolate.  He’d always known the way to his boy’s heart.  Spike stood in the elevator and watched as the doors opened and closed.  Not boy.  Man.  Five years could really change a person – a human especially – and Xander was all grown up.  He’d left Spike and made a new life, living it for five years without him, apparently far more successfully than he ever did with him.  But the letter said…  Spike took another affected breath before poking the button that opened the doors and marching out into the mall, man on a mission.  No.  Xander wasn’t going to move him on.  Wouldn’t, wouldn’t, wouldn’t.  As Spike stood staring at the store plan on the wall – ‘You are here.’  Yes, I know where I bleedin’ well am, just point me at…  Ah. – he noticed two young women out of the corner of his eye, most definitely checking him out.  Oh, yeah, the Spike is still hot.  Or should that be cool?  There was Xander’s voice from years ago, joining him and William in the limited space between his ears: ‘Women have to think you’re hot, men need to think you’re cool.’  ‘And where do you fall?’  ‘Umm…lukewarm?’  Xander.  Hot, cool Xander.  Want him.

Xander stood outside his apartment.  He’d been standing there for five minutes, trying to pluck up the courage to go in and face Spike.  The words he had to say kept turning themselves inside-out and he knew he had to get this right: the promises, assurances, not just I’ll behave, get into bed and let me show you, oh dear, here we go again.

Another five minutes and Xander knew he had to go in, that this was ridiculous.  Spike would know he was there, must be wondering why he hadn’t come in.  Hey, honey, I’m home, get your clothes off and let me suck you dry.

“Hey, honey, I’m—”

Xander knew immediately that something was wrong.  It was just a feeling, the kind of sense that had found Spike for him in the alley.  Dropping his coat and briefcase he ran through the rooms, calling desperately for the vampire.  Nothing.  He tried to think straight, fight past the panic and just think.  Okay.  Most of the blood was gone.  The duster was gone.  The letter…  Gone.  Vampire?  ‘Your loss, Xander.  Fuck you!’   Gone.  Xander sank onto the sofa, breath hitching as he wrapped his mind around the facts.  Spike was well.  Spike was gone.  That about summed it up.  My loss.  He knew.  My loss.

As he walked out of the elevator Spike knew Xander was home, acute hearing zeroing in on a racing heartbeat he would know anywhere.  Well, this wasn’t the way he’d wanted to surprise Xander, but it would have to do.  He opened the door as quietly as possible, rehearsing some choice smart-alec remarks in his head in case things got too heavy, silently crept to the living room and peered around the door frame.  Nope.  The water was running hard in the kitchen and Spike headed there.  The witty comments died on his lips as he saw his friend, supporting himself on the sink, sobbing so hard he’d made himself physically sick.  All he could see was Xander’s agony, knowing he’d been the cause yet again.  He remembered the kindness, the patience, generosity, protection.  He finally remembered the previous night, touching Xander’s silky hair while the man…loved him.

Xander threw cold water onto his face, washed the disgusting taste of bile from his mouth, made another attempt to pull himself together, this time being partially successful.  He grabbed a towel and gave himself a cursory swipe, dropping it as fast and leaning back over the sink as his stomach rolled.  A few deep breaths and he had the pretence of control.

“Hey, honey, I’m home.”

Xander started violently and turned.  Spike.  Looking, sounding, exactly like Spike.  Impossible.  Hallucinating.  Spike: not meeting his eyes as he put several bags on the table, moving in slow motion to drag out the moment until he would have to look.

“Spike,” Xander attempted to say but nothing much came out.  Impossible.  In a day.  From what was to what is, impossible.  My Spike.  Impossible.  Then blue eyes fixed on brown, blue eyes that glittered with unshed tears.  My Spike.  My Spike?

“I’m home.”  Finally.  And look at him.  All grown up and bloody irresistible.  Missed you, Xander.  Missed you.  There aren’t words…

“Spike?”  Nothing much again.  Let it be real, let it be real, let it be…  My Spike.

The slow motion was obviously infectious: it took Xander several minutes to cross a five-second stretch of floor.  One shaking hand rose to touch short, gel-crunchy blond hair, another joined it to push the duster from strong shoulders, and then Xander was kicking the coat aside as he moved behind Spike, roughly tugging up the t-shirt and running his fingers over flesh that had been devastated the last time he’d seen it.

“Don’t stand on ceremony, will you?” Spike smiled as he was manhandled, more than happy to be handled by this man.  Xander touched a couple of small silvery scars that indicated the position of the worst wounds.  “I’m better,” Spike reassured softly.  “Healed.”

Xander pulled down the t-shirt, smoothing it over the finely-muscled back before stepping closer, his left arm wrapping around Spike at shoulder level, his right slipping around the narrow waist.  Spike covered the right arm with his own, hooked a hand over the left, and leant back into the warmth.  Xander’s lips rested on his neck…  My Spike, my Spike, ohmyGod, my Spike.  …and Spike closed his eyes to concentrate on every sensation, every inch of contact.  One of those rare perfect moments.  Which Spike realised with regret would not last long going by the way Xander was trembling, and seconds later Xander kissed the back of his head and took off in the direction of the bedroom to do the bawling, howling bit in private.

On a scale of one to ten, the urge to go after him was in the high hundreds, but Spike sighed and started to unpack the bags of shopping, looking at what he’d bought, cocking an ear in Xander’s direction, sighing again as he packed away the seduction food and kept out the comfort.

Xander was sat at the foot of the bedroom door, the place he always ran to to hide, even when he was alone.  He couldn’t get the raging emotions under control, not this time, and he despaired as he tried to smother the incessant crying, knowing Spike could hear him.  Probably thinks I deserve it.  Spike had spoken.  That wonderful voice, English and deep and low and full of suppressed emotion, even when he’d tried to joke.  He can speak, he’s well, he’s better, well enough to go, he’s better, he’ll go now, he’ll go, your loss, your loss…

“Xander?”  A light tap on the door.  “Xander, let me in.  Or come out.   I’ll make you feel better.  Well, me and two-hundred quid’s-worth of chocolate.”  Spike heard a brief laugh amidst the tears.  “C’mon, Xan.  Please?”

“Not yet,” Xander croaked, having to respond to the please because he’d heard it so rarely from the vampire.

“Okay.  I’m going to…”

“Don’t go!”

“Even as far as the kitchen?”

“Oh.  Oh, yeah.  Go to the kitchen.”

“Xander…”  Spike’s voice sounded closer and Xander realised he was kneeling on the other side of the door, trying to get as near as possible.  “I’m not going to leave.”  Spike waited for a reply but none was forthcoming, just renewed weeping.  I’ve thoroughly traumatised the poor sod, he admitted to himself, touching the door where he imagined he felt the human’s warmth seeping through.  “I’m going to cook something.  See if I can remember what you taught me.”  Taught William.  Spike hesitated in the hope of some response, but had no choice but to slowly rise and return to the kitchen.

Accepting his preparations would be greeted by shock/derision/amazement, Spike set the dining table, unpacking (and thank God William remembered where everything was) a beautiful linen cloth and napkin set that shouted unused house-warming present, the good china service, a painfully cheerful vase that he could remember Dawn picking with a mixture of mischievous spite and glee, and settling for the cutlery in the drawer and the glasses in the cupboard.  Candlesticks?  Not packed or William would know, but he had seen some.  Spike found what he was looking for in the back of the junk cupboard: nickel-plated Art Nouveau swirl-fests that, once again, had the aura of unused gifts.

Table set, food ready, all he needed was to get Xander out of the bedroom, and why didn’t that feel like the easiest task of the day?  But no, if he listened he could hear running water in the bathroom and, unless the human was attempting to drown himself, that meant he was washing up for dinner and on his way.  Spike experienced a burst of anxiety, and just for a moment the past caught up with him and he was in his room at Willow’s, trapped there by pain and confusion and the utter misery of rejection.  Pulling Xander’s letter from his pocket he scanned it until he found words that reassured him: I’m sorry (that word isn’t enough) for the way I left you…  Just know that I have always loved you and still do.  I love you so much.  And Xander’d said it last night.  Said it to William, the snarky demon’s voice in his head said.

“Fuck William,” Spike muttered.  He did, the voice retorted.  Spike growled to himself, turning to the stove and viciously poking the food.

“Hey,” came from behind him, quiet and rough, the product of a throat punished by intense crying.

“Feeling better?” Spike asked, concentrating on the food because he was afraid to look.

“Not much.  Been a hard couple of months.”  Spike accepted that with a brief nod.  Xander stood watching, feeling alienated and wondering why, after all his wishing and longing for this Spike, he felt unable to get near him, to hold him and tell him what he deserved to hear.  “Look at me.”  He hardly recognised his own coarse voice, but Spike responded, despite it seeming difficult for him too.

“Xander,” he said, almost inaudibly, as he turned to face the human.  Everything about his attitude told Xander that Spike was feeling just as vulnerable, just as afraid.

“Sorry.  For leaving you the way I did.”

“You should be.”  Spike took the first few steps toward Xander.  “But don’t be.  Don’t hurt any more for me.”  He held out a hand, wanting Xander to meet him halfway in every sense.  Xander approached cautiously, took the hand and wrapped his around it before bringing it to his mouth and holding it there, warm, uneven breaths tickling Spike’s skin.  Back to slow motion, and Spike’s free hand came up to stroke back the human’s hair before he closed the gap between them, nuzzling Xander’s cheek, inhaling the scent of tears.

“Tell me I’m not dreaming this, Spike.  I’ve dreamt this and it was this real until…until…”

“I’m here.  This is as real as it gets.”

Their arms crept around one another until the embrace was impenetrably tight.  Time certainly passed but neither was aware of it as they struggled with disbelief and guilt and sorrow and joy and hope.  The past hovered, the present consumed, the future…  Who was brave or foolish enough to try and fathom that out?

They gradually drew back and studied one another curiously: Spike exultant, eyes smiling, apparently unaffected by all he’d been through; Xander awkward, tormented, still outside the comfort zone, afraid to blink in case his Spike disappeared as suddenly as he’d arrived.

Seeing the knowledge, the history, in Spike’s face, it was all Xander could do not to break down completely, whereas Spike…  Xander, my Xander, mine.  …now wanted to laugh.  Happiness or hysterics, he wasn’t too sure.  Laugh, or kiss.  Spike wanted to kiss Xander so much but knew it wasn’t the right time and he never could, would push Xander.  Xander, who seemed so broken.

“It’s all right, love.”  The endearment was a shock for Xander and here came the tears again.  Spike wanted to kick himself: he’d spent two years living under Xander’s roof, very nearly perfecting the skill of not saying, revealing, things he shouldn’t.  “Everything’s all right now.  No more tears, eh?  Not for me.”

“You’re joking.  Because I…”

Xander’s voice cracked and he pulled Spike back into an embrace.  Crying harder because Spike said not to, and he’d abandoned Spike and lost Spike, and he’d found Spike but not Spike, and this was his Spike and he was here and he wasn’t supposed to cry?  Even when Xander knew that at last there was a chance he may be forgiven and he could start to heal?

“Missed you, Xander,” Spike whispered, knowing it was another wrong thing to say right now, but if Xander was honest enough to have a nervous breakdown in his arms, surely he could risk displaying a little sincerity too.  “Missed you every minute.”

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Xander sobbed, over and over and over, until Spike’s equally constant shushing noises took effect.  At which point Xander apologised for the apologies and tried to calm down enough to relax the iron grip he had on his…the…his vampire.  Spike still shushed and stroked him, hearing a subdued, breathy chuckle as he shuffled them as one to the cooker so he could take pity on the overcooked risotto and snap off the heat.

“One more dance and I’ll have to go,” Spike offered up the old joke, relieved when Xander chuckled again and eased up on the strangle hold.  “Sit yourself down.  Give me a chance to finish this.”

Xander finally released the vampire and slumped onto one of the stools at the breakfast bar, wiping his face on his sleeve, running his fingers through his hair.

“Can I help?” he asked, amazed his throat was still working at all.

“Nope.”  Spike threw handfuls of parmesan into the pan and turned back to Xander, coming and leaning on the bar beside him.  Taking another good look and recalling Xander’s words from what seemed a long, long time ago, when William was first here.  “I can see now.  Took a bit of time, but I can see.”  Xander frowned.  “How totally fucking gorgeous you are.”

The frown deepened until Xander remembered, then he gave a small laugh and shook his head.  The blush Spike had expected never materialised: his Xander really had grown up.

“Yeah, if you like the washed-out, red-eyed, dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards special.”  Xander paused, considered.  “How can you remember that?  With everything else…”

“William remembers every word you said to him.  It’s coming back all the time.”

“William?” Xander asked, frown returning.  He saw Spike flinch without being aware of it.  “I’m sorry, I promised I wouldn’t say that name.”

“Doesn’t matter.  Not now.”

Xander wanted to argue the point but instead he let himself be coaxed to his feet and guided to the dining room.

“Oh, wow!”

“And who says I’m an unromantic sod with no sense of occasion?” Spike smirked as he joined Xander in surveying the table, justifiably pleased with himself.

“Flowers?  You bought flowers?  Big Bad bought flowers?”

“Oi, Big Bad does flowers.”

“Red roses.  Spike, king of schmaltz.”

“You love it,” the vampire taunted.

“I do,” Xander conceded.  “I really do.”

Words were scarce during the main course, but there were plenty of looks.  Every few minutes one or the other, sometimes both of them, would just…look.

“You said William remembers,” Xander began cautiously when they were into dessert, glancing over to see Spike’s reaction to the name.  Slight start, nothing too bad.

“Irritating little shit, can’t get him to shut up,” Spike growled.

“It wasn’t you?”


“So, you’re telling me that was a whole different person?  That was…”

“William, yes.”

“I’ve been living all this time with someone who wasn’t you?  You haven’t been here at all?”

“That was William.  Except for…” the vampire frowned, concentrated, then shrugged.

“When we were at Willow’s?  With Buffy?”

Even the name caused Spike’s eyes to momentarily shimmer gold.  He nodded.

“But I wasn’t what you’d call conscious.  It was…”  Spike gave an involuntary shudder.  “Strange.”

“You have his memories though.”

“Like I said, coming back all the time.”

“I can’t…  Spike, it was you.”  Spike simply shook his head disinterestedly.  “Okay.  Wasn’t you.  Tell me about William.”


“Because that’s who I’ve apparently been sharing my home with.  I want to understand more about him.  I want to understand anything about him because I’m not sure I can get my head around this.  It wasn’t you.  It was someone else and…  Will it happen again?  Are you going to disappear on me and he’ll be back?”  Spike pushed his plate away and fixed a hard stare on Xander.  “What?”

“I think William has had more than enough of your time.”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Can you get me some more blood tomorrow?”

Xander was reluctant to change the subject but could see how irritable the vampire was getting.

“Of course I can.  Anything else you want?”

“Aside from the obvious?  No.”

“Nothing is too obvious at the moment.  You mean the blood, right?”

Spike’s inscrutable gaze bored into Xander, and it took all the human’s willpower not to shiver.  It was a relief when the intensity shifted and a slight smile transformed Spike’s face into something less intimidating.

“Right.  I mean the blood.”

Spike stood and walked out of the room, leaving Xander with the overwhelming impression that he’d got something very wrong.


The vampire’s dissatisfaction was like a physical presence and Xander chose not to share a room with it just yet.  He took his time washing and drying the pans, crockery and utensils from dinner, spent at least ten minutes staring at the roses while the revised mantra in his head proclaimed Spike’s return, trying to convince a man who couldn’t accept that he might have the thing he wanted most in the world.  And what about William?  Who was and wasn’t Spike.  Who Xander’d lived with all this time and cared for and loved and who was and wasn’t Spike.  Xander tried to put a lifetime’s experience of weirdness to good use and accept what he’d been told, but it was so…  William, he’d been living with William, who was…  How would he have dealt with this ten years ago?  Everything was so screwy I’d have taken it for granted.  Wouldn’t have been grown-up, sensible-explanation-needing guy.  Could he regain that mentality?  Take it for granted?  I could try.  Won’t irritate Spike so much if I do that and shut up about William.  Did that mean forgetting William totally?  Xander thought of the cuddles and the cartoon blinks and the purr and…  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Oh…fuck.

When Xander finally headed for the living room he found himself leaning against the doorframe, studying the vampire’s restless stance as he stared out of the window, curtains open for the first time since his arrival.

“Can we talk?” Xander asked, sounding as undemanding as possible.

“No.”  Long pause.  “It’s…difficult.  Sorry.”

“You don’t have to talk to me, it’s not compulsory.”

“Don’t I owe it to you?”

Xander considered the question.

“You don’t owe me anything.  Why should you owe me anything?”

“For taking me in.  Because, let’s be honest, pet.  You didn’t want me here, did you?”

“After spending five years wishing I’d had the courage to bring you here with me, I think the answer has to be yes, I did – do – want you here.”

Spike swung to face him, definitely perplexed by Xander’s unequivocal statement.

“That’s…”  Xander waited; Spike took a long time finding the word.  “…cruel.”


Yes, it was.  If Spike had suffered as much as he had throughout their separation.  Xander nodded guiltily and walked through the room into the hall, finally getting around to hanging up his coat and retrieving his briefcase.  The pursuit of normality.  Spike followed his movements as he put the case on the computer station and opened it, pulling out files and notepad.  William recognised the pattern as something Xander had done every day since the computer had been installed; Spike’s resentment of William grew and he began to pace, frustration pouring from him.

“What’s wrong?”


“If something’s wrong you’ve got to tell me, so I can put it right for you.”

Xander had said the words so many times over the past months they emerged automatically, and they were guaranteed a warm response from William, which further enraged Spike.  The demon wanted Xander, and he wanted him exclusively, he didn’t want to be usurped by some pitiable nonentity who was mentally buried over a century ago.  He wanted to be the one Xander held and petted and included, he wasn’t going to share with William, even if it was only the lingering presence of his former self that had allowed him to live through…through…  Don’t think of that, don’t go there, don’t let it in…



“Thank God for that, where did you go?”

“Nowhere.  I…I…”  Spike was squashed into the corner of the room but he didn’t remember moving there.  “What happened?”

“You were looking mad as hell, then you went blank and kind of…hid.  What…”

“Don’t ask me, don’t…” let it back, bring it back, send me back “…worry.”

Gentle touches from an unconvinced Xander eased Spike out of his bolthole, and it took only seconds before the vampire was on his feet and prowling again.

“If you’re restless, you could…”

“Go out.  I’ll go out.”

“I was going to say switch on the TV, but…”

“I’m going out.”

Watching Spike slide into the duster and check the pockets for his keys, Xander tried to stay calm as his greatest fear bubbled to the surface; he managed to swallow down the words several times before they emerged, just as Spike’s hand reached for the front door latch.

“Are you coming back?”

Spike came to an abrupt halt, astonished by both the question and the undercurrent of desperation.

“Of course I’m coming back.  What do you think I am, some Grade-A pillock?”  He went to Xander, smiled at the miserable face then kissed a pale cheek.  “Of course I’m coming back.  I’m not the one who runs away from home,” he whispered.  And he left.

Xander stood in limbo for some time.  Apart from the short while earlier that afternoon when he’d been too distraught to take in the ambience, this was the first time he’d been alone in his apartment since pre-Spike.  Pre-Spike.  What was there before Spike? Xander asked himself as he indulged in a few minutes of total panic, convinced that he’d seen the last of the vampire and was now going to face a life alone.  If I can face a life.  He’d done the right thing, not asking him to stay, because he had no right to ask, or beg, or go into the tantrum he’d wanted to.

“So, now you act your age.  Keep cool, do work, wait for Spike to come home because Spike will come home.  Spike’s one home-coming vamp.  Right…work.”

The silence was overpowering and Xander turned on the radio to fill the airwaves.  But that meant he wouldn’t hear Spike’s key in the lock.  The radio went off.  But the silence…  Back to gazing unseeingly at his work, Xander waited.

Spike didn’t even get as far as the elevator before his problems started.

“This is bloody ludicrous,” he muttered to himself as every step away from Xander became harder to take.  William knew that his master did not want him to leave and was petrified of defying the conditioning he’d had tortured into him: William’s terror was mindless and Spike, unable to reason where there was no reason, suffered for it.  Not able to face the enclosed metal space that was the elevator car, Spike staggered into the stairwell and fell against the wall, sliding down into a crouch and leaning his head back with a groan.  Xander would not want me to feel this way, Spike ground out to his alter-ego, but what William wanted was Master, not debate.

“He doesn’t want me – us – clinging to him all the time.  That’s probably what scared him off before.  Me needing him so badly.”

Master,” William wailed within his mind.

“What is all this ‘master’ bollocks?  I have no master.  I won’t…”

William shared why he had to obey, forcing Spike to face up to the horror for the second time within an hour, and the vampire started to shake uncontrollably as he fought the explicit visions.  It was all he could do to crawl away into a shadowed recess, finding the privacy to shatter into pieces.

Xander was sitting staring at the clock radio on the bedside cabinet.  He was on his way to bed, yes, but so far he’d been on his way for one-and-a-half hours.  He kept telling himself to get under the covers, lay down, sleep, sleep, sleep, how good does that sound, hmm?  Okay.  It was pointless trying to con himself into this when he knew the only substantial difference would be vertical awake or horizontal awake.  When Spike came home he would sleep.  Spike’s back, my Spike, MY Spike.  However much the stroppy restored vampire might disapprove, Xander would find a way to get him into bed, up close and preferably purring, and then – only then – would he relax.

“We need to talk,” Xander told the still air.  “I said something wrong and I have to know what or I’ll always be screwing up and he’ll always be walking away.”  Long painful pause followed by a short painful admission.  “I don’t want him to walk away.  Ever.”

A fumble at the front door and Xander was there, opening it and swinging it back.  Spike fell into the hallway, and Xander’s first thought was that he’d gone out and got hammered – quite frankly, who could blame him? – but the frightened face he turned on Xander belied that impression.  Xander closed the door and took a step forward; Spike took a stumbling step backwards.

“What’s happened?  Spike?”

“Something’s not right,” Spike panted.  Panted?  Shit, that was a bad sign.  “Something’s gone wrong in my head.”

Another step forward and a responding withdrawal.  Xander was infuriated at being thwarted: his vampire did not suffer alone!

“Fuck it, Spike, let me near you!”

“I can’t, I can’t, it’s…  I can’t, I feel…”

“What?  What do you feel?”

“I have to…”

Spike held up a hand to Xander, gesturing for him to stay still, then he staggered over and dropped to his knees before him, collapsing into the posture of submission, brow pressed hard to the floor.  Xander took a sharp breath.  The gesture had not lost its ability to shock, and this was worse than ever, because this was Spike.

“No, Spike, no.  Please, no, Spike…”

Xander joined the vampire on the floor, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and trying to raise him.  But Spike was strong and defiant and immovable.  Xander had no choice but to leave him in that degrading position while he stroked the blond hair and returned to whispering familiar words of comfort and encouragement.

Listening closely, Xander waited for the breathing to stop.  He knew that Spike didn’t need to breathe but, in normal life – unlife – used it for effect: he couldn’t imagine the vampire without the drama-queen sighs.  Although he didn’t understand why, he also knew from bitter experience that if Spike was scared or hurting enough he would breathe.  He’d heard it often enough over the last three months but didn’t expect it now, not after Spike making his too-good-to-be-true overnight recovery.  Perhaps that was it.  How could anyone go from what Spike had been yesterday to normality without a glitch?  Rather, what William…  William?  I’m never going to be able to deal with this.  …had been yesterday.  A last deep, ragged breath from the vampire then stillness.

Xander waited another ten minutes before shifting into a better position then using gentle pressure to tip Spike over into his lap, rearranging the vampire and making him comfortable.

“Couldn’t get back,” Spike said eventually, eyes still firmly closed.

“Where did you go?”


“You mean…?  In the building?”

“Never got off this floor.  Couldn’t get back.  He brought us home.”


William.”  The name was spoken with deep-seated disgust.  Spike rolled his head to look up at Xander.  “He’s one hell of a product.  Those bastards saw me off but they couldn’t crush him.  Now all he wants is you.”  The vampire moved fast, up onto his knees, slowing as he sat back on his heels and stared at a totally speechless Xander.  The human watched a shift within the depths of Spike’s eyes, wondered if this was the only outward show of some internal battle he’d unknowingly instigated.  He couldn’t bear to see any more.  Xander stood and reached out a hand, waiting the best part of a minute before Spike took it and allowed himself to be drawn to his feet.  He came close, slipping his arms around Xander and nuzzling his neck; Xander held him unsurely.  Spike or William?  Had to be William.  Who Spike hated.  But Spike was letting William do this.  William, who Xander was still not absolutely clear about.  Confused?  Much.

“Spike?”  No response.  “William?” Xander asked tentatively.  Hefty flinch at the sound of the name.  “Sorry.  Sorry.”

“Master,” came the muted acknowledgment in an impeccable English accent, and Xander knew then that he had to stir up that old Sunnydale mentality, accept, and accept fast.

“Master?” he repeated weakly.


Then the vampire was gone, pushing away and into the living room, through to the kitchen.  Xander followed.  Spike – now this had to be Spike – had liberated a beer from the refrigerator and was halfway through it already, leaning against the counter with a peculiar expression on his face: upset and bafflement and a touch of wonder.

“Want him?”


“William.  Want him?”

“I…  Spike…”

“You touch him, you hold him.  Only him.”

Xander wanted to disprove that immediately, but as he took a step forward, Spike took a step back.

“I can’t get near you!”

“That’s – that’s…  Fuck, that’s true.  All right.”

Spike finished his beer in silence; Xander watched, anxious and wary and a little scared.

“You haven’t forgiven me, have you?”

“I want to understand and I don’t and that really pisses me off.”  Another beer and Spike determinedly faced Xander.  “What did I do wrong?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You left me!”

“I know.”

“So, it’s me.”


“You leave me but welcome him.”

“You.  It was always you.”

“Then what did I do wrong?”

“Nothing!  I was a kid, I couldn’t handle what I was feeling.”  Spike looked, demanded elucidation.  “I was obsessed with you.  Everything began and ended with you.  I was a sad loser with no sense of my own identity, and I was getting lost in you and I had to get out while I still could.”

“So, now?”

Beat.  Xander took what he hoped was a calming breath.

“I’m not a kid anymore.”

“No.”  Spike’s eyes raked Xander’s body, his voice softened, appreciation superseding anger.  “You’re quite the man.”

Xander tried not to shiver at the scrutiny or the tone.

“It’s always been you.  I didn’t know about William, all I knew was that Spike was here, and, yes, he was welcome, and he needed my help.  I tried my best to give you that help.  I tried my best, Spike.”

“But you love William.”

“How could I not love him?”  Xander saw the fury cross Spike’s face as he slammed down the beer, and Xander only just managed to catch his arm and stop him before he hurtled from the room.  “Wait.”  Xander ignored the growl and heavy-handedly pulled Spike around to face him.  “Listen to me.  Listen!”  The growl abruptly ceased, the golden glow faded from the eyes.  “Listen.  I love William.  But I’m in love with you.  I can’t remember not being in love with you.”  Xander was amazed at how easy it was to say the words.  In fact, it felt so good…  “I’m in love with you, Spike.  I love you.”  Okay, pushing his luck now, tears on the way.

Spike was unable to take this in after five years of hating and blaming himself for driving Xander away.  He nodded vaguely, took a single deep breath and shakily released it.  Easing out of Xander’s grasp he wandered into the living room, aware of his human following.

“I need to sleep,” he said roughly.  “Can I sleep with you?”

“You don’t have to ask.”


Xander kept his distance until Spike was settled, then he finally went to bed himself, desperately tired but knowing sleep would be hard to find.

“Tell me again,” Spike said after an hour.

“I love you.”  Without hesitation.

“But…  You and him, last night.”

Xander cringed despite knowing they’d get to this eventually.

“I thought it was you.  I shouldn’t have done it anyway.  I’m sorry.”

Spike shifted toward him, a striking monochrome study in the semi-darkness.

“Can I…  Xander…”

Xander barely had breath for the reply.


The vampire reached beneath the blankets and Xander tensed expectantly, confused when Spike gently took his wrist and drew his arm out, stretching it across the covers.  A cool mouth fixed on the healing cut from the previous night’s feeding, breaking it down until it bled.  Xander groaned at the reaction from his body, instantly erect, skin tingling.  Spike grabbed at Xander’s free hand as it moved downwards, pinning it to the human’s chest.  The vampire slid into game face and played with the wound, teasing it with a sharp fang, leaving Xander shivering and gasping.

“Tell me,” the demon growled.

“Spike…Spike…I love you…I love you…please, drink, please…Spike…”

Spike bit down with infinite care, reopening the scar fully, extending it and sucking hard.  Xander cried out his love, coming and coming until he knew nothing more.