Midnight at LAX


Part Three

He didn't know he passed out until he came to on his stomach, arms stretched wide on the bed. The empty bed. Lifting himself on his elbows Xander glanced around, noted it was going on one o'clock, then the coldness began in his chest like it had done often enough the past fifteen years. He rolled over and out of bed, padding naked to the stairs, noting the soreness of his legs and arms. Good, burning soreness that only came from thorough, intense sex. Nothing felt like it. He hadn't felt either way for a while.

Still he recognized the unsettled state of his nerves for the disappointment it was and told himself to grow the hell up. What? He thought the sun would keep Spike here? It had still been dark earlier. He could have booked without injury if he moved fast. He'd had plenty of one-night stands, and been both standee and stander by turns. Spike's black duffel bag was gone from the middle of the living room and he smirked sardonically. And one fuck for the road coming right ....

"Coffee?" The amused English accent startled an unmanly squeak out of him and he whirled around to see the vampire standing there wearing a pair of black sweat pants that hung low on his hips and billowed around the ankles comically. Hey. Those were his sweatpants.

"What?" he blurted. Spike held up a mug with a quirked eyebrow and for a second he looked so Spike that gooseflesh ran up and down his arms like little mice. "You drink tea." Was the incisive comment that happened next and Spike gave a small shrug.

"Couldn't find tea."

"Oh. Yeah I don't...have any."

"Right, then." The vampire said after a moment and offered the cup again. Xander took it, the delicious smell wafting over to him and making everything much better, like that smell always did.

"I didn't think you were here," he admitted and a struggling-to-be-casual-and-failing look he decided he hated came over the vampire's face. Xander walked over very close, enjoying way the summer blue eyes took in his face and rested on his mouth.

"Want to drink this upstairs?" Xander asked now that he realized last night wasn't going to end at last night.


Mild nod causing the curls to bob and Xander felt a stirring begin, which he severely stopped. Uh-uh, you. No more rolls in the hay until some talking is done and, shit on a shingle, was he talking to his DICK? "I'll get the paper and meet you up there." Spike headed for the stairs sipping at his cup, only the toes of his feet showing and Xander felt a silly smile stretch his lips at the damned cute sight of milky white vampire, baggy exercise pants and floppy dark blond hair. "Going for the fashion award there?"

"They're your pants, git." But the words sounded....shy? Nah. Couldn't be. "You planning on going outside starkers?"

"American ingenuity my British friend." Xander tried a horrible English accent. "Paper goes right in my door. I installed a mail slot."

"Just so your lazy bum won't have to walk down to the curb." Spike called over his shoulder, but heard the smile.

"Hey, I have damn fine bum!" Xander protested and Spike paused and turned on the stairs, an appraising glint in his eyes.

"I know." Xander's mouth went dry at the open lust and, okay, not easy walking with a hard on. Gah! He ran a hand over his face as he walked over to retrieve the thick Sunday paper. He was so out of practice with this. It felt like high school all over again, hiding erection beneath desks and under baggy clothes.

By the time he got upstairs he'd gotten himself under control, and found Spike sitting, legs outstretched and cup on his lap, a faraway look on his face.

"Where'd you go?"

"Pardon?" Spike came back from wherever he'd been with a blink and looked away, taking a sip of his coffee.

"Had that thousand mile stare going." The vampire smiled and didn't answer and Xander gave a reflective nod before flopping on the bed with the L.A. Times.

"Ay! Wanker!" Spike exclaimed, holding the coffee cup steady on the jiggling mattress and Xander laughed at the chagrin on the cut glass features. Once the bed had settled down and they each had a section to hide behind: Sunday Funnies for him, World News for Spike, he spoke again.

"Regrets?" The rustling stopped and he waited behind the colorful circular, staring at Snoopy without seeing the words.

"Do I look like I have any regrets?" Spike's low smoke velvet voice sounded this side of angry and Xander put down the comics, turning to see the News section still held up like a shield. "I bloody started it."

"About that. Why?" Total silence followed and Xander doggedly continued because, hell, he wasn't a kid anymore. He didn't do don't ask don't tell, not about this. "Because if you were horny, or lonely, or whatever, fine. I just want to know the score, all right? Forewarned and all that."

"If you want me to leave just say so." Spike's tight voice came from behind the paper and Xander reached out and crumpled it out of the way. Apprehensive blue eyes met his and he again wanted to cover them with his hand to stop the pain there.

"You can't leave. I haven't even kissed you yet." Such a look of surprised pleasure overtook Spike's face Xander felt something in his chest shift. Oh, man. He had to watch himself because that was not a good sign.

Except, who cared when the beautiful blond vampire in his bed was fixated on his mouth with singular concentration? Xander's gaze fell helplessly to the perfect pink lips, parted a little, as if they were panting. Leaning forward slowly, Xander cupped the square jaw in his hand and brought their lips together.

Chaste brush at first, giving, cool mouth and he slid his tongue along the seam, teasing. Hands fumbled at his chest, then his shoulder, as if they weren't sure where to go before sinking into his hair to mold his skull, pulling him closer, deeper, and oh. The moist cavern tasted like coffee and smoke and salt, sadness, somehow. A small sound was made, it might have been him, and he touched Spike's face, still lost in that amazing mouth. A lightheadedness began, falling, and, oops, air, forgot that, and he tore himself away with a gasp. They had ended up laying down again, somehow, the paper crumpled between their bodies, and in the middle of breathing hard, foreheads touching, eyes locked and searing, someone's stomach growled. Spike's eyebrow lifted and Xander gave a laugh of indignation.

"That wasn't me!"

Spike got a sheepish look and Xander rolled his eyes. "Busted."

"Had to try, luv. Have a reputation to uphold and all."

"Yeah, yeah." A thought occurred to him and he sobered some. "Damn."


"I have less than no idea where to get blood."

"Don't worry about it. I do."

"Do they deliver?" he asked, half joking and Spike nodded, laying his head on the pillow but not looking at him.

"Yeah. They do."

"Well, cool," he agreed, then moved some curls out of Spike's face, more to reconnect than because it bothered him. For some reason he'd felt the vampire start to withdraw and he wanted to bring him back. "I'll have some next time."

The impact of what he said hit them both at the same time and Spike tried to roll away with a false little smile. Xander was having none of it. Refusing to drop the suddenly unreadable blue orbs he threw a leg over a hipbone and gathered the slim man into his arms, bringing them as close as possible.

"Don't do that."

"I don't...."

"Don't zone out on me. Not an option." He saw the Adam's apple on the pale throat swallow and Spike gave a tiny nod.

"Okay," he said quietly before laying a wet smack on Spike's lips.

"Showering. Order the plasma, 'kay?" Rolling off the bed he headed to the bathroom before stopping at the look on Spike's face. Tenderness and sadness and a smile.


"You didn't look a day over eighteen just now. You know that?"

"Spike, you already got in my pants. Overkill not necessary." Xander winked before walking in the bathroom, but he had to stand inside the shut door and clear his eyes for a minute. He didn't think he could take many more of those looks. They were going to kill him.

The pounding needles of the shower felt good and he let the water sluice over him, eyes closed, images of last night, or this morning, overtaking his mind. They'd been there since he woke up. He'd been walking around half hard, and if he could release some tension here, in the privacy of his own shower, he'd be able to keep from attacking the vampire every five minutes.

Reaching for the shampoo he lathered and rinsed his hair and was in the middle of washing his body with one of those plastic scrunchies when he heard the door open. The draft from the room made his skin rash with goose pimples and he called out.

"Spike? Everything all right?"

"Fine," came the low reply and whatever else Xander might have said fled as the door to the shower opened and Spike stepped in.

He'd felt that body in the dark, saw the hard chest and lined stomach, and his mind had developed a fixation on the curve of hipbone just above the waist of the black sweatpants, but he'd never seen the whole thing. Stepping back his eyes devoured the perfection before him as the vampire stepped under the spray, head thrown back, rivulets of water making gossamer trails in and out, down and around the muscled form. Xander lost the battle for control and his cock bobbed heavily, pre-cum already leaking from the head and all he was doing was watching Spike run his hands through the honey blond curls, sheened flat with water.

He made some sound, something inarticulate and rough and Spike opened his eyes, blinking droplets out of them. The sky blue took in Xander from head to toe but all he said was. "Shampoo."

With numb fingers he handed over the shampoo bottle and Spike lathered his hair and rinsed, eyes closed, hands moving the strands around until the water ran clear. Xander felt almost impaled, he was so hard, but at the same time he didn't want to stop watching the otherworldly creature in his shower. It was simply the most erotic, stunning sight he'd ever seen.

Spike finally opened his eyes and, looking deeply in Xander's, he ran both hands over his chest, pulling at wet, stiff nipples, over slender rib cage and hard torso and one hand circled himself, oh look, hard cock, and drew the foreskin slowly up revealing the shining tip.

Xander lost it. With a growl he pulled the vampire in his arms, kissing him deeply, moaning at his taste. Spike gripped his ass with both hands, pressing their groins together, the water making them slide sensuously and Xander had to break the kiss to moan. "Tease," he muttered hoarsely, his hands trying to feel everywhere at once, greedy for Spike, when he felt himself pushed against the cold tile of the shower hard enough to make him grunt. Spike held him there, wicked smile on his damp features.

"No, pet. I deliver." The vampire dropped to his knees before Xander knew what happened and then oh god, Jesus, GOD as Spike enveloped the head of his weeping erection with a cool, wet mouth.

Xander closed his eyes, breathing shallowly, hands scrabbling against the slick surface of the tile as Spike sucked the sensitive head of his cock, then deep throated him in a move the almost made his knees buckle. Firm hands spread his legs farther and Xander felt knowing fingers roll his scrotum around, continue south to play at his entrance. Evil, talented mouth nibbling and licking at him and he finally had to see, had been trying not to for fear he'd come too fast, but he had to. Opening his eyes he saw his cock engulfed in that pink mouth, cheekbones in high relief as Spike moved back and forth and when he thought he'd die from the sight, the starry lashes lifted and blazing molten blue looked back at him, through him. With a whimper Xander thrust his hips, back hunching over the vampire. His hands gripped wet blond hair and pulled and he was fucking Spike's mouth in fierce, scalding strokes, over and over and Jesus, it felt incredible.

"Coming, Spike, coming..." he tried to moan. The mouth on his pulsing flesh took him gullet deep and a finger slipped in his rectum, hard. The world exploded in a burst of color as he shot load after load, unable to stop, and Spike took them all.

Crumpling down the tile Xander tried to catch his breath as he sat on the floor of the shower, nerve endings still screaming from his orgasm. Reaching out he enfolded Spike to his chest, kissing the damp forehead, eyes, mouth, hands holding the sharp cheekbones. Summer blue eyes met his and widened as Xander's hand slipped between muscled thighs and found the weeping red head that made him lose control.

"Ah-hah," he whispered with a smile.

"You don't have to. 'M fine." Spike mumbled, but his lashes fluttered as Xander fisted his hand around the pulsing length, pumping.

"I want to taste you," he said in the delicate shell of ear and Spike quivered, gripping his arm hard enough to bruise.

"Not lasting....that long....Xander...." Hearing the musk and smoke voice grate out the words all disjointed began to harden him again, and Xander ignored it, pumping faster, watching the play of desire on the perfect features.

"Tell me when," his lips whispered into Spike's ear then bestowed a quick lick on the lobe, nibbling. "Tell me when you come, Spike."

"Close, uh..." The blue eyes became unfocused as Xander sped up, arm a blur of movement. "Nearly there...."

"Now," he commanded in a whisper, running a thumb savagely over the leaking head and Spike jerked his neck back, quaking as come flooded Xander's hand and wrist.

"Ye...essss." Spike's moan made the word a drawn out surrender, and Xander kept stroking until the tremors subsided and the body in his arms lay limp and boneless.

"Come on," he said after rinsing his hand on the faucet. He gently helped them both up, and caught Spike when the vampire stumbled. Actually Spike looked decidedly wan after their exertions and Xander held him close, smoothing the damp curls as they stood in the rapidly cooling water.

"Hey. You doing all right? I'm not that good."

"Fine." Spike mumbled into his chest and Xander gave his shoulders a squeeze, walking them out of the shower stall.

"Did you call about the blood?"

"Yeah. Ordered it for tonight.."

"Good." He slipped into a pair of jeans and watched Spike curl up on the still unmade bed, eyes closing, then snapping open, struggling to stay awake.

"Go on." Xander said, walking over to smooth the blond hair out of the sleepy features. "I'll wake you up when the stuff's here."

"Money in duster." Spike muttered.

"Got it." Xander said. Spike was breathing, or not breathing, deeply by the time he reached the stairs.

Part Four

Walking into the living room the tranquil sanctuary of his home settled around him and he felt simple contentment. It had taken him a long time to get over the feeling he was playing dress up with Wils: she was the mommy, he the daddy and no one yelled at little Barbie or G.I. Joe because the toys hadn't been picked up or a beer hadn't been gotten quick enough. The comfortable home was his, the well paying, steady job he enjoyed was his. His father had never had any of those things, and spent much of Xander's life prophesizing Xander wouldn't either. Proved you wrong, motherfucker, he thought, before erasing any more childhood memories.

There was a reason no pictures of his parents graced his mantle.

Rooting around his cupboards for something to tide him over he found a box of vaguely stale Ritz crackers and flipped the tab on a Coke. He had to get some real food in here, man. He could not believe Spike wasn't going for his jugular despite the chip. He used to watch the vampire devour an entire pizza and chicken wings by the dozen, in addition to the blood. Spike hadn't eaten last night, and it was going on three now.

On his way to the living room he caught sight of himself on the wall mirror. Serious bed head, mouthful of crumbs and lips full and swollen from kissing. Kissing Spike.

Stone the fucking crows.

If anyone would have told him last week he'd be in this predicament he would have asked them to please not smoke that shit around him. But the feel of that firm, soft satin skin in his arms short-circuited all his reasoning. And continued to short-circuit it. He'd invited a vampire into his house for Christ's sake. Said vampire was curled up like a kitten on his bed after mind-blowing sex that still had his body walking around in a constant state of arousal. Note to self: never go more than a year without getting laid; wigs out your self-control.

The best cure for that, as far as he knew, was work. Fetching his backpack from the hall closet, because he'd never wanted a briefcase and you couldn't take those on site, he sat at the table to look over the specs for next week's appointments. When the sun dipped beyond the horizon he called in his food order, and doubled it.

His Chinese food and Spike's blood arrived within minutes of each other and he had a tricky moment as he tipped Jimmy, the delivery boy from The Shanghai Flower while the demon with the Styrofoam cooler stood in the shadows. He knew it was a demon, all his long forgotten instincts prickled like gangbusters.

"Thanks, man." He waved to the kid as Jimmy headed back to his beat to shit Toyota, and the person hiding in his bushes stepped into the light.

He would have looked human except for the pale blue skin tone and the vertical pupils. "How much do I owe you?" Xander asked, placing the warm Chinese food on the hall table. The demon told him. Xander peeled off bills from his wallet and the demon gave him the cooler. When Xander checked inside, which the delivery demon seemed to expect, he only saw two bags. "That's it?"

"Inflation, man. Talk to Geech. I just work there."

"No." Xander shook his head. He figured the price of blood had gone up, like everything else. "Is that all he ordered?"

"Yeah. Got it right here." He dug in the pockets of faded jeans and produced a yellow receipt from which he read. "Two bags O-Neg, Mr. The Bloody. That you?"

Xander gave him a mirthless smile. "No. Bring back two more."

"Don't work that way, dude. I got deliveries all over the place..."

"This dead president says you're a flexible young...." Xander surveyed him, "Guy. More if you get it here in an hour." The bill disappeared in the faded jeans and Xander watched the guy hot foot it to the moped parked at the curb. Hell of thing to carry blood in, but who was he to judge.

Setting the blood and food in the kitchen he walked up the stairs.

Spike hadn't moved from his fetal position, and Xander knelt next to the bed, smoothing stubborn curls once again off the closed eyes. Jesus Christ, he was so fucking beautiful. Had he always been this beautiful?

"Spike. Chow time. Hey, buddy." Xander whispered. Sleepy blue eyes fluttered open and the vampire gave him a vague smile before stretching like a lean, white cat. Xander bent down and caught the mid yawn in a kiss that deepened and drew him in until he had to forcefully pull away with a wry laugh. "Uh-uh. Food first. Tonsil hockey later."

"Who kissed who, ay?" Spike asked, but he sat up, scratching the pattern of rib cage before swinging his legs off the bed. Slipping on Xander's black sweat pants again Spike followed him down the stairs.

They milled around the kitchen as he found plates for the Moo Goo Gai Pan, Kung Pao Chicken, Fried Rice and Egg drop soup and Spike scared up another mug to heat his blood. They'd almost finished the meal, with Xander making good-natured faces every time Spike used the blood like dipping sauce, when the doorbell rang. The vampire started so bad he knocked over Xander's glass of soda.

"Whoah. Jumpy much?" Xander stopped the fizzy liquid from reaching the edge of the table with a napkin and Spike jumped up to grab the roll of paper towels.

"Sorry." Spike muttered, wiping up the spill as Xander rose to get the door. "You expecting company?"

"Yeah," he called over his shoulder.

Demon delivery boy stood panting at his door, another disposable cooler in hand. "See, I knew you were a resourceful boy." Xander smiled as the wad of bills disappeared into the faded jeans.

"You were right. Geech said to give you our card with my cell for faster service. We also have spell supplies. You know, Keva innards, Fyarl spleen, ...."

"And way too much of the information there, dude, but thanks." Xander took the cooler and card and nodded goodnight to a tip of Demon Boy's cap.

"Who was...."? Spike stopped as soon as he saw the cooler Xander placed on the kitchen table. Suspicion clouded his brow as Xander removed the two extra bags and he didn't like it immediately. "I didn't order those."

"I did. Two isn't enough, and you're about fade away to nothing, in case you hadn't noticed."

"One shag and you're my soddin' nursemaid now?" Xander froze from where he'd bent over the fridge to put the bags up, then stood and looked at Spike.

"No," he said patiently, as he began gathering up the remains of their meal. "A shag AND a blowjob. It's in the fuck buddy handbook. Didn't you know?"

Dead silence followed and he grabbed Tupperware containers from the cabinets and began to scoop up leftovers with jerky movements. So much for morals exing out the asshole factor.

Gentle, cool hand on his back stopped his actions. He hadn't even heard Spike move. "Xander." Regretful, velvet voice, and what kind of a lightweight was he that the sound of his name in that voice went straight to his crotch?

Firm fingertips traveled their way up to the slope of his shoulders targeting the knots in his muscles, and heat flushed through him like a full-bodied fever. The surface of the counter on his palms was suddenly the coolest thing on him apart from those mesmerizing fingers, and Xander shut his eyes at the unbelievable skill and strength in Spike's hands. In minutes Xander thought he might melt into a puddle of Jell-O on the floor, and that didn't even make sense. Hadn't they been arguing? His mind struggled to pick up the thread of the conversation that had slid away under the ministrations of the vampire's massage. Damn, this wasn't fair. And fuck, he was half hard again.

Turning, Xander slipped his arms around the slim waist and Spike's linked his wrists loosely on Xanders shoulders. They looked at each other for a while, searching for answers to questions not yet asked. So he asked one. "Is that what this is?"

"I don't...I didn't..." Spike faltered then glared at him with exasperated baby blues. "That was your word not mine."

"I'm not your nursemaid."

Spike averted his eyes, then closed them as Xander began rubbing circles in the slender lower back. He could feel the vertebra too close beneath the muscles, felt the body in his arms loosen and lean on him a little.

"I know I don't look like I did." Spike mumbled stiffly and Xander slipped a hand around a cool, pale neck.

"Hey." The sooty lashes lifted. Tracing the smooth chest down to the curve of bone that had him so fascinated Xander gripped the curvature of hip with both hands and gently swayed into Spike, breath catching at the answering hardness. He'd meant to say something, some platitude to tell Spike how beautiful he still was, how the way his skin felt made Xander want to sink in and get lost, but his throat closed up with the heat emanating from their rubbing erections. Spike lifted up on the balls of his feet, lips hovering, teasing around Xander's mouth until Xander latched onto the tantalizing lips, pulling and tasting.

And always this feeling of falling when he kissed Spike, floating in textures with the top of his head about to spin off, again with the forgetting to breathe. Laughing he pulled away despite Spike's hands cupping his face, bringing him nearer. "I'm going to pass out."

"I'll catch you." The vampire murmured, blunt teeth nipping at his lips but Xander pulled back, still chuckling, then noted the faint irritation of red around the pink mouth. He rubbed a finger on the fading blotches. By way of an answer Spike touched his goatee with one nimble hand.

"Sorry. Guess I could shave...."

"Sod that." Spike interrupted with real menace in his voice despite the smile. "Looks good on you, it does. Look like a man. I like it."

"Good." Xander said. He'd been surprised how differently people treated him after growing the trim beard, and how many tried to pick him up. To his discomfort both the men and women who had begun to notice him were extremely young. After one date, when the apple cheeked boy who'd asked him out referred to nineties music as 'oldies', he stopped accepting all THOSE propositions.

They made short work of the dishes, Xander opting not to turn on the dishwasher for the few plates and glasses and he caught himself watching Spike's ass as the vampire bent over to put away the detergent.

Dirty old guy, he chided himself, then realized the irony of that thought. Spike was, and would always be, one hundred twenty years older than himself. He would just always look twenty-something, and a young twenty something, suspended forever thanks to being turned in the first flush of youth. Before the soul his age had been in his eyes, though. Hard, cynical, calculating in turns, the pale blue showed every decade if one cared to look. Something about the naked vulnerability and that damned hair made him seem much younger now.

"Wanna go to a movie?" he asked, trying not to sound a trifle desperate because if he didn't get them out for some air, at least a little bit, he was going to come his brains right out of his dick, and this was getting ridiculous. Holding his eyes, Spike leaned slowly back on the counter on his elbows, the move throwing his clavicles into high definition, bunching up the muscles in his stomach to firm, marble ridges above the low, low elastic of the sweatpants. Xander's jeans tightened, again and he shook his head, looking away with a laugh. "Help me out here."

"I'll bet you have bloody fantastic cable. What d'you want to go out for?"

"Popcorn? Previews?" He approached the still leaning vampire and slipped an arm around a slim waist, running a hand over the sculpted, pale chest. "I wanna show off my hot date maybe?"

"Right." Spike scoffed, but the summer blue was soft again. It was as if he couldn't quite keep up the posing for longer than a few minutes before the fašade fell and all emotion showed transparently in his eyes. "Come out to all your mates 'ave you?"

"A few." Xander shrugged, earning a genuinely searching look from Spike.

"You're serious."

"It's L.A." Xander said. "PC central. They're a good bunch of guys. After I was fixed up with all the sisters, nieces, friends and nothing took they kind of figured..."

"Didn't fancy them, ay?" Spike's head cocked and he traced designs on Xander's chest with the very edge of his fingers.

"Well, you know." Xander replied regretfully. "Was saving myself for the evil undead of my dreams."

Spike snorted but a smile curved the pink lips, a real smile, not a sneer, or a smirk, or a grin dripping with sexuality. He still couldn't get used to that. Couldn't get used to so many things. Reaching up to cup Spike's jaw with his palm he dropped a chaste kiss on those lips. "Come on. You can pick the movie."

"Whatever I want, ay?"

"Yeah," he admitted, belatedly wondering at the many dubious movies Spike could want. He could always claim not to know any porn theaters.



"I can't believe we watched that." Xander said as they left the crowded theater.

"Why not? Thought it was a fine film."

"For a six year old." He moved aside as a harried mother herded four kids all under the age of six out the door. The place had teemed with children and their parents and a few teen-age girls who kept giving Spike the eye. "I mean, Lilo and Stitch?"

"Listen to 'im." Spike rolled his eyes. "I lived with you, mate. Know all about your precious comic book collection under the bed."

"Hey! That's different! Those are collectors' items and....they're .....manly.....comics."

"Funny picture are funny pictures, luv."

"Listen, you...."

"Alex?" A surprised voice sounded from behind them and Xander turned in the sea of humanity to find one of his co-workers making his way towards them with a pony tailed little girl in the crook of one arm and a tow-headed little boy holding the other.

"Patrick. Hey." He smiled, casually nabbing the back of Spike's duster before he could fade away in the crowd. He could feel the discomfort in the vampire, but Patrick had been completely cool about Xander's bisexuality. He could see the curiosity on his co-worker's face at his companion and couldn't really blame him. When he'd come downstairs from changing he'd almost nixed the whole movie idea in favor of attacking Spike anyway. The vampire had changed to new looking painted on black jeans, shiny black shirt and silver chain choker. They made a pretty odd pair. "This is Spike, a friend from back home. Spike, Patrick. We work together."

"Pleasure." Spike shook the hand Patrick held out after shifting his daughter to his left arm.

"Likewise. This is Megan and Mitch. Say 'hello' guys. You remember Alex from the barbecue."

"Hello." Mitch repeated, holding out his hand in a parody of his father, brown eyes earnest beneath the blond bangs. "You have a funny name."

"Mitchell!" His father exclaimed but Spike just grinned and shook the small hand offered to him.

"Sharp lad. It's William, actually, but don't tell anyone."

"You have a coat like that guy in the Matrix."

"Mine's cooler, ay?"

More reticent Megan hid in her father's arms and peered out shyly at the two men, a small fist partially in her mouth.

"Never figured you for a Disney watcher." Patrick laughed and Xander gave Spike a sidelong glare.

"You know me. All about feeding the inner child."

"I wanted to watch The Sum of All Fears, but he insisted on the cartoon." Spike shrugged with wide-eyed puzzlement and Xander rubbed the bridge of his nose in discretion. "He's really a big kid at heart, isn't he?"

"Got you busted now, man." Patrick kidded and Xander nodded good-naturedly.

"Yeah. My rep is shot."

After some talk about the conference Xander had decided not to attend Megan began to fidget and Patrick took his leave. Waving, as they headed for their separate cars Xander scowled at Spike's laughing eyes. "You are so dead."

"Well, yeah." Throwing an arm around Spike's shoulders Xander growled and they stumbled laughing to the car.


Cold in the dark and he murmured, reaching out for the soft, cool body he'd gone to sleep holding.

They'd returned to the apartment later than usual due to a traffic jam and Spike drifted off in front of the late news, not even protesting when Xander hefted him up to carry him up to bed. He thought Spike got tired a lot faster than he remembered, but maybe it was jet lag, or something. He'd read in bed for a while until he got sleepy, then tucked himself around the sleeping vampire, hugging him like a pillow, and it was scary how fast he'd gotten used this presence in his bed.

Which was nowhere to be found now, no matter how far he reached or how broad his search.

"Spike?" he mumbled, lifting up on an elbow, blinking sleep out of his eyes, and there: a sound. Looking towards the bathroom he noticed the sliver of light under the door and swung his legs quickly off the bed. He recognized that sound with the immediacy and intimacy of a deeply ingrained childhood memory: his father after a four day bender, his uncle after New Year's Eve, upheaval of someone being violently ill. He thought of knocking for only a second before opening the door, and the scent of sickness washed over him in a thick wave.

Two steps brought him to the naked figure hunched over the commode, the vertebra and ribs stark in the harsh overhead light, faint blue veins visible under parchment skin. Another retch shook Spike and Xander knelt beside him, knees cold on the linoleum, and lay a hand on his back, rubbing.

For several minutes Xander just rubbed the vampire's back, soothing, slow circles like his grandmother used to do to him, and tried not to be too freaked out at the splashes of brilliant red painting the inside of the toilet crimson. Did vampire's hemorrhage? Who the hell did he call for this if they did? There was so much blood; he didn't even think Spike drank as much as had gutted out of him. After a couple of more times the vampire lay his head on the side of the rim exhausted.

"'M sorry."

"Don't be stupid," he whispered, reaching over to flush. If the blood had gone over, and he got his hands on Mr. Delivery Demon, the smurf reject was going to be sorry he ever graced his doorstep.

"It's not the blood." Spike said as if reading his mind, voice hoarse and weak, eyes shut in a face so pale it looked ashen, and that had to be hard to achieve on a vampire. "'S me. Stomach's been....acting up."

"You okay for a while? Think you can get up?" Xander asked and Spike swallowed, pushed himself off the commode with effort. He slipped an arm around his shoulders and slowly lifted the body up and, Jesus, so light. He was beginning to realize it wasn't just how much stronger he'd gotten since Sunnydale. Cool flesh almost inconsequential in it's frailty. What the hell happened to you Spike? he thought as they began to walk slowly. Why won't you tell me?

"Brush teeth." Spike said in the same raspy tone and Xander stopped in front of the sink where Spike used his extra toothbrush, thought if he lived to be a hundred he'd never get used to Spike having no reflection in the mirror.

Once they reached the bed and he set the vampire down gingerly Xander pulled the comforter up to Spike's chin, and than just knelt there, looking at the closed eyes and disheveled hair.

"Is this why you didn't want more blood?" he asked. Spike opened his eyes to slits and nodded. Sighing, Xander shrouded himself over the vampire and kissed the curls still damp from the exertion.

"You could have just told me. Why didn't you?" he whispered into a smooth, soft temple.

"'Cause I'm a git." Spike whispered sleepily. Xander couldn't disagree with that, and Spike was seconds away from sleep once more, anyhow. Crawling in behind him Xander wrapped both arms around the vampire, over the fetal position he'd taken to sleeping in, and wasn't that strange, now that he thought about it? The vampire made a sighing sound and snuggled back into Xander's lap, but his nether regions were behaving themselves just fine. The image of all that blood spurting from Spike's thin body hadn't quite left.

No more late night trips to the bathroom were necessary but it was still a while before Xander could sleep.

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