Xander's still not sure how he's taking it but there might be a what or a how building on the horizon. Right now he mostly feels sick and kinda has the urge to take Spike someplace private and check him for injuries, even though he's pretty sure he patted him down and felt him up pretty thoroughly on the motorcycle ride to Sunnydale.
And some of that might be showing on his face because Spike fumbles for a cigarette and jerks his head toward the basement door. "Can't smoke up here."
Xander figures that's the closest thing to an invitation he's gonna get and Spike had him at cigarette-fumbling anyway because there are times when a guy really needs a cigarette and Xander thinks this might be one.
He throws a quick look Faith's way - because it's not polite to bail on the hostess even if she did try to kill you in the distant past. Faith's at the stairs and waving a hand. "I've got a bathroom to hog while B and Giles are keeping the baby slayers busy."
"How many little slayers are we talking about?" Xander falls into step next to Spike.
"More than needs one loo between them."
"I'm gonna be using the bushes, huh?"
Then Spike's pushing open the door to the basement and Xander's walking into This Year's Hovel complete with manacles on the wall. "Nice," he says. "Kinky." And takes his cigarette like a man.
They sit on the bunk and smoke in silence.
Spike's the guy to break it. "Went through a bad patch after I got the chip out." He jangles a manacle. "Wasn't all fun and games."
More silence as Xander takes that in and he suddenly finds himself closer to Spike, their non-smoking arms pressed together, the lengths of their legs touching.
"You didn't say anything," Xander says at last, his exhale forming a cloud around his face. He feels Spike's shrug along his body.
"Haven't been big on the talking, have we?"
The words surprise him or maybe it's the tone, but it's true anyway, and not just of last night, and it feels like something to fix even if he didn't know it was broken, but maybe not here and maybe not now.
"'Sides, it's sorted now," Spike says, and it sounds like, let's do this later, but not like let's not do this at all, so Xander pushes the rest aside and digs up a grin.
"Good as new?" he asks.
"Something like that."
"You sure?" Xander reaches up and runs a hand over a manacle. "'Cause if you need to be chained up again..." Xander rises to his knees and whips around to straddle Spike, grabs Spike's wrist and clips the manacle around it, "I think we could work something out."
He looks down at Spike and sees the signature sexy smirk as Spike reaches up to wrap his left hand around the other chain, putting himself on offer, and Xander means to make with the naughty touching, but finds himself lifting Spike's shirt and checking for those injuries instead, sliding his palms up Spike's back, down Spike's sides, and up Spike's chest again.
"Came to bum a smoke. Wasn't counting on the floor show."
Xander's hands go still under Spike's shirt. He doesn't know if he'll ever be able to hear that voice without it making him jump just a little, but it doesn't exactly help that he's just been caught with a vampire between his thighs - a manacled vampire, to be exact.
Not having to see Faith's face does help, however, so he doesn't turn around and kinda hopes she'll go away.
But apparently Spike's not in on that plan because he lets go of the chain with his left hand, picks the pack of cigarettes up off the bunk and holds them out in offer. "Wasn't counting on an audience," Spike says, but he doesn't sound particularly troubled.
In fact, quite the opposite, judging by a glance at his crotch. And, okay, it's not like Xander didn't already have Spike pegged for an exhibitionist, but it's still on the wiggy side when he feels Faith come up behind him and take a cigarette.
Even wiggier when she sits down next to Spike on the bunk and lights up, inhales deeply and exhales on a smirk. She looks Xander over. "You weren't kidding about the changes."
"This isn't what it looks like," he says automatically. He licks his lips and looks down at his hands still under Spike's shirt. The skin's lukewarm and soft and he really should move, but Spike's left hand is resting on his hip now, holding him in place and there's no point in pretending. "Okay, it pretty much is."
Faith shrugs. "Hey, to each his own, man. This one guy I ran with, he liked me to dress up like a school girl and take this friggin' bull-whip..."
Xander feels Spike shift beneath him and glances down at Spike's crotch again, rolls his eyes. "Do not tell me that turns you on."
The corner of Spike's mouth quirks and he fishes another cigarette from the pack with his free hand and sticks it in his mouth. Faith reaches in between them and flicks the lighter. Spike drags and then speaks. "Think you'd look good in pleats, pet."
Xander's still looking for an answer to that one when a crashing sound drifts down from upstairs.
Faith shakes her head. "No more Starbucks for the wannabes man. They've been spazzing for, like, hours."
"Yeah," Spike says, "does get a bit much up there."
"They're good girls. Just green is all," Faith says and Xander's surprised to hear her sound like she means it because he doesn't remember her for her patience and teaching technique.
"Aren't you supposed to be up there...imparting?"
And, okay, Xander meant for that to sound a little bit less like a hint, even if it was one. But it doesn't matter because Faith shows no sign of taking it.
"That's Buffy's thing. Anyway, I just spent a good stretch of time locked away with a mess of female-types. Kinda had my fill."
Xander blinks. He'd almost forgotten that she'd gone to jail, though he can’t quite say he's sorry about it. He's maybe a bit curious, though. "So how was the Big House?"
Faith takes another drag. "Three squares, nice weight room, protected a few of the weaker girls in exchange for smokes, movie every third Sunday. Could've been worse."
"What movie?" Xander asks.
"Last one was Glitter." Spike and Xander both turn to look at her and she reconsiders. "I guess it couldn't have been worse.”
"You had the power to walk away anytime," Spike says after a moment. "Nothing to stop you."
"I stopped me. I got dangerous for a while." Her eyes skitter over Xander's face for a moment and for the first time it occurs to him that she might be sorry.
"You over it?" Spike asks.
Faith looks at Xander again, steadier this time, as she nods. "I pull for the good guys now."
There's a silence and Xander looks at the three of them on the bed and thinks this is one moment he never would have predicted and Faith lights a new cigarette before changing the subject.
"So, how long's this been goin' on?"
She's looking at Xander, so he can't tell... "You mean the gay or the Spike thing?"
"Since the summer after graduation and a couple of months."
"And how does little Miss Tightly-Wound feel about you getting your naughty on with the undead?"
"Well, it's not like she has room to talk," Spike begins.
"But she doesn't exactly - "
Xander's interrupted by the squeak of a door, followed by rapid footsteps down the stairs. "Hey, Spike, have you seen...?" The footsteps and voice come to a halt and Xander decides not to turn around this time either because he's Mr. Consistency.
Silence all around and then:
"Okay, I knew you didn't come for the coffee maker."
Faith's looking between them and Buffy, and Xander's pretty sure Buffy's mostly just looking at them - so Xander's the only one who sees Faith grin just enough like the old Faith he knew in high school to give him the willies. "B doesn't know?"
Xander shakes it off and shrugs it off and realizes he's still got his hands under Spike's shirt, twists around and looks at Buffy over his shoulder. She's looking at him with the big Buffy eyes that still sometimes kinda make his insides gooey.
He's comfortable with that.
What he's not comfortable with is the crick in his neck from all this looking over his shoulder. He gets up, turns around, and sits on Spike again. For a bony vampire, the guy's not a bad place to sit. "She does now."
"Oh this is good." Faith settles in with her cigarette like it's a bowl of popcorn and Buffy rolls her eyes and rolls up a chair.
The Buffster is impervious to perturbance.
"We've got a plan."
Meanwhile Xander's got Spike's free arm around his waist because there's no point in doing things half way. He looks around at the four of them and Spike and Faith look about as clueless as he feels. "We?"
"We have got a plan that'll knock your socks off," Willow says, coming down the stairs and maybe it's Xander's imagination that the air crackles coming with her and there could be a couple of seconds where he tenses up while Willow considers him and Spike.
They all look down at Spike's hand on Xander and Xander on Spike and Spike slips his hand out of the manacle and crushes out his cigarette. His wrists are bony on Xander's thighs and Xander rests his hands on them.
And if Xander had known years ago how much can be said without saying a single word, he'd have babbled a lot less because Willow's look just says be happy and maybe something about shovels and it's good. Good enough to get the show on the road. Xander clears his throat. "Let's have it. What's this plan?"
Willow sits on the desk next to Buffy and Buffy rests her elbows on her knees. "The plan is us."
"That's more of a 'who' than a 'what'," Xander says and Buffy's looking right at him now. Looking at him like she used to look, like they're going to win because they always win and he remembers exactly what it's like to be willing to follow Buffy anywhere. Any time. "Not that it's a bad ‘who’ as plans go. We've had a good run."
"And we're not going to have a better run if we wait." Buffy looks at each of them and she looks small and fierce, like the tiredness he saw in her when he and Spike got to town only had a nibble on her reserves. "I've got my team. I've got you guys. And we're not gonna get any fresher by waiting. Willow did a little magical recon and I say it’s time we saddle up and take the fight to Caleb."
Spike's hands are tightening on Xander's thighs and Xander looks down at them and at his hands wrapped around Spike's wrists and makes his decision - if the last sex he ever gets to have is with Spike on a motorcycle on a tree-lined public thoroughfare in Oxnard, he's okay with that. He's still looking at Spike's hands while he says, "I'm in."
The cot's gone and replaced by a bed that takes up the whole corner of Buffy's basement. There're still manacles on the wall above it and Xander's saving that observation for a speedy escape from the next awkward silence. There's been a few of those.
And comfortable silences.
This one's one of those and Xander admits it's kinda nice to lay there in the cool and dark where it doesn't matter how much peripheral vision he's got, with a hand on the back of Spike's neck and a handful of painkillers making things seem normal.
It's a normal Xander thinks he could get used to if the world doesn't end.
Spike's lying on Xander's right side and Xander appreciates that and he's a pretty comfortable guy to share a bed with. Doesn't snore, doesn't move, doesn't breathe. And when did Xander start thinking of a corpse as the ideal bedmate?
But Spike's so quiet when he goes and when he comes back down and slides into bed, Xander doesn't notice and there's no telling how long Spike's been glued to his side except the telltale borrowed warmth in his skin which means he's been there a while.
And Xander doesn't mind.
But he does mind there's a chance the end of the world might not wait for him to be in fighting form - because he's only missed one apocalyptic disaster in seven years and that time he had a pretty good excuse.
Not that losing an eye isn’t a good excuse but he doesn't want it to be.
A cool hand pries Xander's clenched fingers off the back of Spike's neck and he lifts his head. "Eye hurting you, pet?" He looks groggy and props himself up in Xander's field of vision and the hand Xander can't see is pushing hair away from his bandages.
"Amazingly, not really. But if you're going to keep rubbing my scalp like that I won't say no."
"Yeah? What else is there you won't say no to?"
Xander's admiring Spike's sense of balance again - straddling his chest without crushing him and rubbing his scalp with both hands - when Spike asks, so it takes Xander a while to make his way from what doesn't come with the super vampy package? to the question at hand. "I'm a man of adventure, Spike. I'll try anything once."
And he's just offered Spike an all-access pass, so he's expecting the unexpected because he's sure Spike's seen and done more in over a hundred years than Fabulous Ladies and its crew could even hint at in Xander's short bartending lifetime - but the unexpected turns out to be different than he's expecting.
Which is a thought that totally makes sense.
The unexpected that he wasn't expecting is Spike flipping over - switching their positions so that Xander's the one on top, straddling. Flipping, switching, stretching and clicking - and the last is the sound of one and then a second manacle closing over Spike's wrists. And then there's a key flying across the room and it lands on the concrete with a clink and Spike says:
And it's true that Xander's adventures have never taken him to this particular destination - except for those couple minutes last week that feel like last year - so he spends a second staring.
Thinking, So much for saving the manacles for an awkward moment.
Except maybe this is one.
Because Xander starts doing his thing. (The thing you're supposed to do when someone's chained naked and helpless in front of you. The thing where you stroke and pinch and kiss and lick and nip to your heart's content and hope to drive your partner out of his mind in the process.) And he seems to be doing that thing well, but there're all kinds of words popping into his head, too, and he's not sure he can say them.
They're bubbling up in his throat and he's not exactly known for his strict internal censor, but there are things guys aren't supposed to say to each other and he doesn't want to be an apocalypse cliché.
He doesn't want to make something out of nothing or something too big out of a thing that was meant to stay small, but it doesn't feel small and it's hard to remember back to when it did.
If it ever did.
The words are welling up inside of him and maybe it's the apocalypse and maybe it's the painkillers and maybe it's the fear that he's half the man he used to be or the old fear that he was never enough anyway...
But maybe it's just Spike.
Maybe it's just right.
Maybe it's just the right thing at the worst possible time - which is better than never - and he's got a captive audience here, but he's not going to tell Spike what he's feeling.
He's going to show him.
But first he's going to do the slow breathing thing he hasn't had to do since he was a teenager or he's gonna have to show Spike really fast.
And the way Spike's looking at him, he thinks Spike would still get it but he's going to do this thing right. And right starts with sliding to his knees between Spike's legs and running his hands from ankles to hips, outside then inside when Spike arches and spreads his legs with a groan.
Which is pretty much exactly what Xander had in mind because it gives him plenty of room to wrap his mouth around Spike's balls and suck and he's got to admire Spike's restraint at not bucking, not wriggling, not even moving. Which is also right on plan.
The plan that's really really simple because it's hard to concentrate with Spike's balls on his tongue and his nose buried against a hard cock that doesn't pulse with blood but still smells like Spike and cigarettes and -
"'S lube under the pillow." Spike says in an accent that could teach his usual accent a thing or two about sexy and deep breathing doesn't work so well with his mouth full.
He tries anyway.
And gets some control back fumbling with the cap to the lube and getting his fingers slick without wasting it on the bed. It's a small tube and he's got plans for all of it.
Spike makes a sound like a cat being gutted when Xander pushes in with a couple fingers.
"Sexy," he says.
"Fuck you." Spike's eyes are closed and he's biting his lip but it looks kinda like he's smiling too and Xander can work with that.
"No - really sexy." Because it is, watching Spike trying to keep control while Xander works in two, three, four and that's about his limit except -
"More." And Spike sounds like he knows what he's talking about except -
"Because nothing says 'I love you' like fisting."
Spike's eyes aren't closed anymore.
And Xander's not breathing anymore.
But nobody gave his fingers the memo and things get tight and silky cool around his wrist. "Fucking hell."
And, "Oh my god."
And Spike's making little movements like he can't decide which way to move so Xander's gonna be the good guy, the right guy, the taking care of his vampire guy and take over with the moving which Spike really really seems to like.
"What's so funny?"
It takes Spike time - time and twists and flexing knuckles - to bite out the answer. "Didn't think you had the knackers." Except there's wetness on his eyelashes and the words are short and sharp and Xander's voice is kinda shaky too.
"I got plenty of knackers, buddy."
"It's wrong - " Spike's legs twitch, twitch, and slide, and his toes curl into the bed. "Wrong to call a bloke ‘buddy’ while you've got a fist up his arse."
"What do you want me to call you?" It's not a question that expects an answer. It's a question that says busy now and get back to you later.
Spike seems to be thinking the same thing. "You'll - bloody hell - you'll figure it out."