“This is freaking California!! It’s not supposed to rain, much less flood! This is so very wrong on so many levels.” Xander couldn’t help but let his voice rise; it was so odd to see streets blocked off due to flooding. He tried not to think about the mudslides further north. He had enough crap going on in his life to worry about his house heading downstream.
For one thing, it was the last day of February and he always had a hatred of the month, and being alone on Valentine's hadn’t helped. It always seemed so damned dark even though in his head he knew that the days were getting longer again.
This February was the worst, though. Buffy was still acting weird, Willow was doing the too much magic thing, and Anya had left for London with Giles after that whole loss of memory deal. Tara had been left in charge of the shop and he was surprised to find that nowadays he spent more time with her than he did with his two best friends. Most nights, instead of facing an empty apartment he went and helped her with the store.
He spent more time with Spike too, which would have been just weird if there wasn’t the fact that during the summer while Buffy had been Gone, with a capital G, they’d become almost friends. They both wanted to protect Dawn and help her through losing her family, so if they worked together sometimes, well, it was easier on the girl if they got along. She didn’t need any more emotional upheaval in her life.
Xander turned from looking out the front window of the Magic Box and went back to where he was boxing up books and items on the lower shelves, just in case. Main Street hadn’t flooded yet but a few areas closer to the coast had, and he’d rather not have to worry about some idiot finding a spell book in a drain and drowning to get a hold of it. The way things were going lately, he wouldn’t be surprised.
After all, the Scoobies were getting their butts kicked by nerds. How bad was that?
He looked up as Tara came in from the back room. “Xander, don’t you think all this rain is a little…freaky? Even for the Hellmouth?” She began going through the day’s sales receipts. Xander stopped what he was doing and went to join her, leaning on the other side of the register.
“I don’t know. Once every ten years or so we get rains like this, but it just feels different this time. It's like…I dunno really, like there’s more electricity in the air or something.”
Tara nodded. “S—something isn’t right. We should probably look into it. Do…do you think we should ask W—willow?”
Xander thought about it for a moment. Personally he thought that they really needed to keep Willow away from the magic stuff in the shop. After the memory spell she’d promised not to use magic but according to Dawn that lasted about a day. “I don’t think so, we can do the investigating ourselves. I may not enjoy reading musty ol’ books but it’s better than being turned into a frog or something.”
They’d had this talk before. They both loved Willow very much, albeit differently. After the memory spell they had both tried to talk to Willow, make her see how overboard she was getting. But Willow just rationalized it away, saying Tara was just mad and Xander was upset with Anya’s leaving.
It hurt, to love someone but not be able to help them. After the last fight both he and Tara stayed away from Willow on the most part, hoping their absence in her life would make her stop and think.
“I can look in the books…see if maybe something like this has happened before. And Mr. Giles will be calling tomorrow for the weekly report on the Shop. I’ll…I’ll mention what’s happening and see if he has anything to say.”
Xander nodded. “Sounds good. I’ll try to figure out Anya’s old computer and find some weather statistics. If that fails I can always just watch the Weather Channel. I may not be totally computer literate but if there’s one thing I know it’s sitting in front of the television and watching.”
Tara laughed, as she was meant to. “Xander! You can do lots of stuff besides watch tv. But that is a good idea. You can do both.”
“Hey!” Xander made only a token protest. He didn’t mind actually, he just loved seeing Tara flustered.
The radio was on in the back room, and it blared one of those annoying EBS tones. They both headed for it and Tara turned up the volume.
”...FLOOD WATCH FOR FLASH FLOODING IN EFFECT THROUGH 600 PM PST TODAY FOR SOUTHERN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY...AND ALL OF VENTURA AND LOS ANGELES COUNTIES...
A POWERFUL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM 250 MILES WEST OF LOS ANGELES WILL CONTINUE TO STEER CONSIDERABLE MOISTURE INTO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TODAY. WIDESPREAD SHOWERS AND SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS WILL CONTINUE ACROSS THE WATCH AREA THROUGH 600 PM TODAY. RAINFALL RATES WILL AVERAGE ONE QUARTER TO ONE HALF INCH PER HOUR...WITH LOCAL RATES OVER ONE INCH PER HOUR IN HEAVIER SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS.
BETWEEN THURSDAY FEBRUARY 24TH AND 12 NOON TODAY...COASTAL AND VALLEY LOCATIONS HAVE RECEIVED 5 TO 10 INCHES OF RAIN...WITH 12 TO16 INCHES OF RAIN IN THE MOUNTAINS.
SIGNIFICANT FLASH FLOODING IS VERY POSSIBLE ANYWHERE IN THE WATCH AREA THROUGH TODAY SINCE THE GROUND IS ALREADY SATURATED AND WATER LEVELS IN STREAM CHANNELS ARE ALREADY HIGH. IN ADDITION...MANY HILLSIDES HAVE BEEN WEAKENED AND THE ADDITIONAL INTENSE RAINFALL HEIGHTENS CONCERN FOR MUDSLIDES AND DEBRIS FLOWS. THE MUDSLIDE POTENTIAL WILL BE HIGHEST IN AND BELOW THE RECENTLY BURNED AREAS...BUT ALL RESIDENTS LIVING ON OR NEAR HILLSIDES OR MOUNTAIN SLOPES SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR POSSIBLE MUDSLIDES AND DEBRIS FLOWS. MUDSLIDES...DEBRIS FLOWS...OR ROCKSLIDES MAY OCCUR AT ANY TIME...EVEN DURING PERIODS WITH LITTLE OR NO RAIN.”
Xander looked at Tara. “Okay, that…is so not of the good.”
Tara nodded, and then bit at her lip. “Xander, S—spike lives in a crypt, that’s really not made to withstand the flooding…”
“God. I bet his lower levels are getting close to flooding. I’ll run by the cemetery and drag his scrawny ass to my apartment if I have to, pride be damned. Besides, maybe he’s heard something. This rain is keeping all the humans inside, that has to be bad for the local vamps. Maybe they’re bitching about it down at Willie’s or something.”
Xander went for his jacket, putting it on and admitting privately to himself that he was a sissy and wanted the hood up. Tara went to the breaker box and turned off the lights outside the shop.
“Good idea. I don’t think anyone else will be by tonight in this kind of weather. I’ll close up early and start to research. Maybe I’ll find something.”
Xander made sure he had a stake in his back pocket and grabbed one of the smaller axes. He looked over at Tara, who was cleaning out the register. “You aren’t going to the bank at night, right? Not without me or Spike?”
“Xander, I may not have lived here forever but I’m not dense. The deposit will wait until morning. Quit being such a mother!”
Xander blushed. “Can’t help it, Tara. You know I have this need to watch over my girls, and you are definitely one of my girls.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. Now go get Spike, he’s always grumpy when he gets wet, like an old tom.”
“Yes Ma’am, Tara ma’am!” He gave a mock salute, pulled the hood on his jacket closed tighter and went out into the wet night.
By the time he reached the cemetery he was soaked through to the bone and all he wanted was a hot sub from Mick’s, a hot shower and a cold beer. He even figured that Mick’s would deliver some good blood for Spike if he paid them enough. He was convinced it was demon owned; the lack of garlic in the calzones and breadsticks and the fact that the food was always hot and fresh even though it took longer than thirty minutes to be delivered was all but concrete proof. It didn’t bother him, though.
Then again, for hot, fresh, made from scratch onion rings they’d have to be Angelus level of evil for him to stop ordering.
Xander was so lost in his own head, trying to decide between a hot roast beef and swiss or a meatball sub, that he didn’t pay attention to his surroundings. Luckily the weather wasn’t fit for man, beast, or demon.
Unluckily he ended up nearly falling into an open grave. He stopped in time but ended up falling flat on his ass in the mud.
“Great. Just great. Can this night get any worse?”
Lightning flashed and Xander wished he had kept his damn mouth shut. He’d lived on the Hellmouth how long and hadn’t learned not to tempt the gods? He got up, trying and failing to scrape some of the muck off his clothes. He hoped Spike appreciated this.
He finally gave up and just went to go get the Bleached Menace. Spike, home, subs, shower. He’d probably not have to work but a half day in the morning due to the weather, yet again, and he could research when he wasn’t as cold and miserable as he was right now.
When he got close he heard voices coming from the inside of Spike’s crypt. He took the chance that the sound of the thunderstorm would disguise his approach, and crept closer. Buffy, and Spike, and Buffy sounded…odd.
“Come on, Spike, you know you want to. Last spring all I would have had to do was lean against the wall and you’d be there. I just want to feel, and I know you can help me, so why won’t you?”
“Give it up, Slayer, you don’t want me. Fuck, you could go down to that rat-hole you lot call a club and get any guy to give it to you. S’not enough, though, is it? You've had a taste of the darkness and that’s all you want now. A little danger to make you feel real. Fuck that. If you want me for a lover, you've got me, you always have. You want me for a thrill ride you can bloody well go bungee jumping with a dildo.”
Okay, ewwww. The mental picture Spike just painted was gross. Plus the fact that Buffy was throwing herself at Spike and Spike wasn’t taking her up on her offer because she just wanted to use him? An even bigger ewwww.
He felt a pang of guilt. Buffy had been having such a hard time readjusting to life and he couldn’t help but feel it had been his fault. He’d thought the idea of bringing Buffy back from the dead was sort of creepy, but he’d gone along with the idea, thinking that Willow, Tara and Anya knew more than he did about magic.
Now he knew better. After Willow’s memory spell he’d done some research of his own. If he had just stuck to his guns or even gone to Spike or Giles about their plans, this whole mess of Buffy’s weirdness and Willow’s out of control magic wouldn’t be happening.
During the next roll of thunder he backed away from the crypt and then started back again. He made sure to talk to himself loudly, swearing at his leaky shoes, the mud on his jeans, about the cold of the rain. Anything and everything, just to give both Spike and Buffy a chance to…not be doing whatever it was they were about to be doing.
“Damn it, I just got these jeans! Spike! You in there? Get your stuff together, you’re staying with me until it stops raining or we have to board the ark.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, Harris?” Spike sounded brittle for once, as if he would be easily broken, and, while they both lived to snark at each other, Xander didn’t think that now was the time.
“This rain is only going to get worse, Spike, and they’re saying all low lying areas are going to flood by noon tomorrow. There isn’t anything lower than underground, I’m surprised your bed hasn’t floated out the door like in one of those Bugs Bunny cartoons. So get everything that’s important to you, we’ll go back to my apartment and I’ll order extra onion rings and four different kinds of subs and get some blood delivered all at the same time. You’ll like the onion rings, they’re better than the Bronze’s bloomin’ onion ever was.”
“Why are you doing this, whelp? Why would you even care?” Spike’s eyes narrowed at him and the vampire pushed himself out of the chair he’d been sitting in to come and stand in front of Xander, as if he could read his mind by looking in his ears or something.
“We got to be friends a bit this summer and I went and fucked it up.” He so wasn’t going to mention that he did it by betraying Spike and bringing his ladylove back from the dead without his knowledge. “Still, we’re sort of friends, the kind that will save each other’s life while insulting each other at least. Besides, we both care about Dawn, which puts us on the same side. Tara would probably offer you a room too but with her moving back into the girls’ dorms you probably wouldn’t like it. So, pack already.”
“Did Glinda put you up to this?”
“Fuck, no! We were at the Magic Box and heard the alert over the radio at the same time and both of us thought of you sitting down here in vamptown. Now come on. I’m wet, muddy, and cold. I want to go home.”
“All right, all right, stop your whining. Gimme a couple of ticks and we’ll go.” Spike started gathering up things from around the crypt and Xander noticed there was a pillow and blankets on the upper level. It must have started flooding down below already.
A few minutes later Spike shoved a duffle bag in his hand as he picked up two others. Everything personal that could be moved, even the ratty old pillow Spike had been using, were shoved in the bags.
“Come on, let’s get out of here before we start to prune. Didn’t you say something about blood and onion rings?”
“Yes, Spike, but can I just say gah! Those two so don’t go together, I don’t care if you are a vampire!”
They fell into their regular pattern of arguing back and forth as they left the cemetery. It was what they did, how they related to each other.
If he had looked back, though, he might have noticed the grave that he’d almost fallen in and seen how the ground around it crumbled and fell into the hole, just a bit.
The next few days were a blur of activity. Because of the rains a lot of his men were unable to work, and Xander did what he could, making sure they had what they needed for their families.
Luckily the State needed people and machinery to help clear up mudslides that were blocking a few roads between Sunnydale and LA and anyone on his crew that even knew what end of a backhoe to use found temporary employment there. Electricians were able to help out the power company, helping to repair lines up and down the Pacific Coast Highway.
When he wasn’t at work he was either at home or at the Magic Box. Surprisingly enough, when approached with the idea that the weather might be supernaturally controlled Spike not only agreed it could happen but started to help him and Tara research. Something Xander was glad for because he’d seen Spike reading through a few of the books that weren’t in English.
He’d always figured the man knew more than he let on, and so did Tara from the looks she gave him. Neither human pointed it out, though.
What was weird, though, was the fact that as soon as Buffy found out that Spike was staying with him, she got almost angry. If he hadn’t heard that snippet of conversation between the two of them he would have figured that she was just being bitchy. Instead though he saw it for what it was, Buffy was scared of being alone and probably jealous that Spike was spending time with anyone but her, convinced he was the only one who could “save” her.
He would have blamed it on her being dead but she was acting an awful lot like she did when she came back from LA. Right after she’d killed the Master. He remembered how dirty he felt, knowing that she didn’t want him, she just wanted to make Angel jealous.
That was sort of how she was treating Spike.
Spike, in the meantime, had made his home in Xander’s apartment. The day after he’d brought Spike home he’d cleared the walk in closet of his woodworking project, moving it to a corner of the living room and he’d gone out and bought a bed and dresser for the vampire. Spike didn’t say thank you or anything like that; it would have been too out of character for the Brit. However, Spike did pick up after himself instead of just leaving his towels on the floor or his dirty mugs in the sink.
And if Xander came home and Spike had just happened to feel like cooking for himself but there was enough left over for a human, he wasn’t going to say a word.
It was late Sunday afternoon and while everything was quiet Xander was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. The rain had actually cleared up for two days, giving the ground a chance to dry up. He and Spike had taken Tara out to the desert the night before, at her request; she needed certain herbs for her own magicks that she could find but not only were there coyotes and mountain lions on the prowl after the long rain, but various demons lurking about. It had just been guard duty but, surprisingly enough, he’d enjoyed it.
The desert looked so different after all the rains. For once it had a carpet of fresh greens, and wildflowers of every kind imaginable were blooming in the valley. The moon was just past full so there was still enough light to see by, and it seemed the stars were brighter and closer out in the open than they ever were in Sunnydale.
Spike seemed to have liked it as well. Some of the tenseness he carried with him in Sunnydale left him and Xander couldn’t help but wonder if the Hellmouth gave off vibes that made demons irritable.
Today it had started raining again and they were in the apartment. Spike was watching a James Bond movie and Xander was valiantly trying not to laugh when the vampire cussed out the villains for being ponces. Xander was working on his latest project in the opposite corner of the living room. One of his bosses and his wife were expecting a baby and Xander had made a rocking chair.
He was in the process of carving a design into the chair, and climbing roses were starting to make their way from the arms of the chair up to the back.
“Blofeld! What the fuck kind of a name is that? S’not gonna strike terror into the hearts of his enemies, if anything they’ll chuckle themselves to death!”
“Spike, these are the same people who came up with names like Dr. Holly Goodhead, Plenty O’Toole, and the ever popular Pussy Galore. They should have just left his name from Rocky Horror, The Criminologist sounds much better.”
“Git. Diamonds Are Forever was made four years before Rocky. If you’re going to be a geek about it get your fucking facts straight.”
Xander laughed as he used a soft cloth to brush off some of the excess wood shavings. “I stand corrected, you’re a better geek than I.”
An empty beer can sailed across the room and Xander ducked. “Oi! Take that back! M’not a geek!”
“Somebody doth protest too much!” He couldn’t help the sing-song tone of his voice; there wasn’t much fodder to tease Spike about other than his hair and his chipless state. The hair had gotten old, and the chip…well, that was cruel now that they were sort-of friends.
“Bugger off, the gratuitous tit shot is coming up.” Spike turned up the sound to the movie, but that didn’t bother Xander. He’d watched it enough to pretty much have a visual without looking at the screen, so he was able to continue working.
Spike getting flustered and not having a comeback was happening more and more, though. Xander figured it was for the same reason he had problems; there were actually areas he didn’t want to tease the blonde over. Picking at him over his Buffy-obsession was too weird to do. Just the other night Buffy tried to get him to patrol with her, alone. Spike’s nostrils had flared oddly and Xander found himself on the end of a rather pointed look.
He then calmly tripped over the smooth, crackless sidewalk and “twisted” his ankle, and Spike offered to see him home.
That had been happening more too, the looks. It was as if there were times Spike could read his mind and vice versa. It was nice, if a bit strange. But since it wasn’t a crime to have good communication skills with one of his friends, he pushed the small voice that wanted to talk about that to himself to the back of his head.
Bond was escaping from the crematorium when the room vibrated, as if a breaker on one of the telephone poles outside the apartment building blew up. Xander jumped, nearly scraping a patch of hide off his hand, and from the sound of it Spike had dropped a cigarette in his lap.
“What the bloody hell was that?” Spike extinguished his lap and then went to one of the windows in the living room, carefully pulling out the blinds to look outside. Thankfully the daylight wasn’t bright enough to hurt and he pulled them open as Xander joined him at the window.
“Dunno. Maybe someone hit a pole and we’re on the lucky end, the people who didn’t lose power? Lightning strike, maybe?”
Spike cracked one of the windows. “Don’t smell no ozone, or anything burning. If anything, I smell wet earth.”
Xander turned to go into his bedroom for a hooded sweatshirt and his boots. “We won’t find out sitting in here looking at Miss Plenty. It’s dark enough for us to do a quick patrol, isn’t it?”
“Suppose. Hate getting wet, though.” Even though Spike was grumbling, Xander could hear him getting his boots on.
“Well, it’s not like I can Scotch Guard your hair. Deadboy’s, sure, but yours doesn’t stick up like his does.” Truthfully, Xander had caught glimpses of Spike coming out of the shower and going into his room to dress and had noticed the blond curls that was Spike’s natural state. His fingers had itched for just a moment to run through them.
Spike snorted. “You could bloody well bounce quarters off the poof’s hair, got enough mousse and hairspray on it for an entire boy band. Stupid really, when you think how flammable that shite is.”
Xander laughed as he gathered his short sword and stakes, hiding them in his coat. “You assume Captain Caveman has something between his ears to spark a thought. He’d have to rub his two brain cells together for that.”
Eventually they were ready and made their way into the rain. Xander was really sick of the rain. It was always nice at first, a change of pace from the monotony of Southern California weather. Now, though, it was a constant annoyance, the hiss of it as it hit the pavement grating on his nerves almost like white noise from the television.
They made their way downtown. The Magic Box, like most of the other shops, was closed. Thanks to the former Mayor, Sunnydale still had Blue Laws in effect and it was illegal to open most places of business on a Sunday. Despite the fact that he’d sacrificed several people to different demons for power, which was really bizarre when you thought about it, so Xander didn’t.
As they got closer to the cemetery where Spike’s crypt was, Spike stopped for a moment and looked through the gloom.
“Bugger. Police and rescue vehicles.” The vampire took off in a lope and after a moment Xander started running, trying to catch up.
When they got close to the cemetery they were in for quite the surprise. A giant sinkhole had opened up and there wasn’t a cemetery any more. The mausoleum was gone too, and part of the street. The row of businesses that had been across the street were now hanging off the edge of a cliff on one end, and Xander could see mud slipping from the side of the crater and falling into the hole.
“You can say that again, pet.”
“Shit.” Spike grinned at him for just a moment and Xander realized that his friend had called him pet. Something to think about perhaps, but not when faced with a sinkhole the size of a small bomb blast.
Xander could see the bottom of the pit if he looked really hard. The bottom was filling with rain and debris and a few intact coffins floated around. He felt his gorge rise at the sight of it. “Didn’t I see this in one or two of the Poltergeist movies?”
Spike snorted. “Looks like it, doesn’t it? Nasty business. We’re just lucky one of them didn’t open up under the high school itself.”
“Could that open up the Hellmouth?” Xander felt himself finding it a hard to swallow. The way the Scoobies had been lately, they could hardly off nerds. If the Hellmouth opened they'd be up a creek without a paddle in more ways than one.
“Do you want to find out the hard way, Harris?” Spike shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his duster and sounded surly.
“I didn’t mean to doubt you, Spike, I’m just…scared. Let’s face it, with all the crap that’s been going on with Buffy and Willow and with no Watcher here, we’d be in trouble if the Hellmouth decided to burp up something nasty. Let’s go make sure the girls are okay and call a Scooby meeting. We’ve got to figure out this rain crap before anything worse happens. And I can’t believe I just said that, now something will happen. Shit.”
Spike grabbed his arm and started pulling him back through the crowd. “Right then, we’d better go. Harder to hit a moving object and all that.”
Xander let the strong grip steer him through the crowd. If Spike thought there was something to worry about Xander figured it was a good idea to make sure his living will was updated. “Shit this is so not of the good. I mean, I know California has earthquakes and mudslides and forest fires with the Santa Ana’s but it’s never happened here. I just figured Mother Nature was giving us a break on account of demons.”
They finally made it though the crowd but Spike still had a hold of his arm, helping him along as they all but ran towards the Summers' house. “Yeah, well, all I can say is maybe someone’s been fooling with Mother Nature.”
“I could go for the obvious joke but I think I’ll leave it for now. I just wish we knew what was going on; from what I can tell from the Weather Channel this is a bit abnormal for California but not totally weird. Happens, like, every ten or fifteen years. But this just feels weird.”
“Dunno about all that, but I do know that there’s a lot more electricity in the air. I can feel it. So can a lot of other demons, and we’re gonna be hip deep in water and enemies if we don’t figure this out soon. The only thing that’s kept the kill rate down in town is that most of you bloody humans bitch and whine about getting a little wet.”
Xander scoffed at his friend as they ran down the middle of Revello Drive. “Like…you don’t like to be warm and dry, you bitch just as much…as I do.”
By the time they reached Buffy’s house Xander was out of breath but Spike still had a firm grip on his arm. He just shrugged it off mentally and knocked loudly on the wooden door. The wind was beginning to pick up and in the east he could see flashes of lightning.
“Willow, did you lose your key again…Xander? Spike? What are you two doing here?” Dawn was dressed in sweatpants and a tee shirt and it was obvious she’d been vegging out on the couch. Xander knew the signs well: lights off in the living room, the sound on the television up too loud and the obvious signs of cheese puffs on Dawn’s fingers and lips.
“What? Can’t we come and visit our favorite Nibblet?”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “You haven’t in a while, no one has. Buffy isn’t here, Spike, and Willow’s gone off with the de-ratted Amy, Xander. It’s just me here. Alone. Like always.”
Dawn’s voice was angry and Xander winced. She was right, he’d been so busy lately he hadn’t come and visited her. He’d been avoiding Willow and Buffy and by default Dawn got left out too. He looked over at Spike and could tell by the set of the vampire’s jaw that he felt just as bad. It was time to fix some things.
“We came here to check on you. Willow and Buffy too, of course, but I was worried about you, Dawnie. When are Buffy and Wills getting back? Maybe we could do the Scooby Slumber party thing.”
Spike rolled his eyes and stomped past him and Dawn and into the living room. “M’not a bloody girl, Harris!”
“Tell that to my bathroom. Hair products, nail polish and nail polish remover, even eyeliner. You bleached your hair the other day, Spike. Might as well buy you a skirt and call you a nancy-boy.”
“Call me an nancy-boy?! You’re the bugger with the construction hat and Cher’s greatest hits album. Might as well get you a feather boa and complete the transformation to one of the new Village People.”
“Hey! Cher is a classic! Besides, I don’t have track lighting and my name isn’t Steve or Troy.”
“Oh, and Xander’s very manly?”
“Alexander the Great was very manly!”
“He also took it up the arse!”
Their playful bickering might have gotten a bit out of control, but it was worth it. Dawn was standing in between the two of them, giggling her head off. “You two sound like an old married couple! Hey, want to stay and watch TV with me? I’ve got chips, some candy I bought at school today and water and some really nasty juice that Buffy bought by accident. She hasn’t been to the grocery store yet this week. But you can have my Snickers bar, Xander! Just…stay, please?”
Xander’s mouth had dropped a bit at the look on Spike’s face when Dawn accused them of acting like a couple but he was quickly distracted by the fact that Dawn was at home, alone, in a house with no food. She was probably hungry and lonely and…damn. He at least had Willow and Jesse growing up but Dawn didn’t have that many close friends to hang out with, due to the weirdness that was her life.
“Tell you what, Dawnie, why don’t you go pack a bag, get your school stuff and all that and you can stay the night with us. I’ll leave a note for Buffy on the fridge so she doesn’t worry about you when she comes home.”
“Really?! I can stay with you guys?! Thanks! I promise I won’t bug you, you won’t even know I’m there! Thanks!” She ran up and hugged Xander and he thought that maybe Dawn had gotten her sister’s strength, she squeezed so hard. Then she ran and threw herself on Spike where he was sitting and gave him the same treatment. Before they could say another word the girl had run up the stairs, the sound of her footsteps heavy in their ears.
Xander threw himself down on the couch with Spike and closed his eyes. This was all his fault. If he hadn’t been avoiding Willow and Buffy he would have seen Dawn needed him. Evidently Spike felt the same.
“Bloody fucking hell.”
“Yeah.” They sat quietly together for a few moments, both lost in their own regret. “We’ll just have to start fixing things, starting with Dawn. We’ll take her home and call and check on Tara from there. Tomorrow after work I’ll track down Buffy and Wills. Then…fuck, I don’t know what then.”
“You’ll fix it. That’s what you do, fix things. People. Sand off the rough edges, make it so they fit together without breaking. It’s what you’re good at, mate.”
“I’m just afraid it’s too broken to fix this time, Spike. Hell, my own life is broken. Anya left me just because Giles kissed better. What the hell does that say about me?”
“That your taste in women sucks. You can learn to be a better kisser, you can’t learn to be a better lover.”
“Thanks, Spike. I mean it.” They sat in silence for a while, the sound of Dawn packing upstairs and the rain hitting the window the only thing in the room besides Xander’s heartbeat. “I don’t think it would have worked with Ahn and me anyway, we weren’t good enough friends. It works out better, when you’re friends and lovers, doesn’t it?”
Spike didn’t answer for a few heartbeats, but there was something in his face that Xander couldn’t identify. “Wouldn’t know about that, would I? Dru may or may not have loved me, depending on what the stars said, or Miss Edith’s dress that day. And the Slayer…”
“She just wants to use you.” Xander didn’t mean to let that part slip out but the thought seemed to make its way past his lips without his permission.
“You know?” Spike had lost his accent, sounding almost neutral and very guarded.
“Some. That night I came to invite you to move in. Which I’m very glad I did because otherwise you might have been at the bottom of the sinkhole. I backed up as soon as I could. I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault. Not anyone’s. It just is.”
“It’s just…not fair.” Xander sighed and Spike said nothing. There wasn’t anything else to say, really. “Do we have something for dinner at home or should we call for something to be delivered?”
Spike jumped on the change of subject and it seemed the elephant had moved out of the room. “Yeah, we got the stuff to make loose meat sandwiches and oven fries. Milk, that’ll be good for her.”
“Good, I’ll go grocery shopping tomorrow between work and staging two interventions for my best friends. It’ll be a fun break where the most important decision I have to make will be paper or plastic.”
“Creamy or crunchy peanut butter.” Spike smiled slightly and Xander was glad to see him relaxing just a bit.
“Hey, I can’t do everything in one day. I’ll just have to get both.”
Xander cursed for the hundredth time as he stepped in yet another puddle. He had a car, but he rarely used it except for work anymore. He'd bought it with Anya and without her extra salary it was hard to keep it in good repair and gas, not to mention the insurance.
But if he had known they’d be walking with Dawn back to the apartment he would have driven because now he was worried about the girl catching a cold from being too wet. Spike had worried too, and had made Dawn put a second jacket on. It was odd, seeing the Big Bad fuss over a girl, but Xander had to admit it was kind of cute.
Now they were walking down the side of the street, Dawn in between them. She was chattering on about school and how Janice was mad at her still from Halloween and about this boy who called her weird. The rain made it difficult for him to hear so Spike was carrying on the bulk of the conversation.
The wind had picked up not long after they'd left Dawn’s house, and he could feel the ozone in the air, as if a huge lightning storm was about to start. He only hoped they could make it back to the apartment in one piece.
The wind seemed to change directions, almost as if a switch had been thrown and Xander’s ears popped almost painfully. Spike stopped suddenly and looked to the west.
“Fucking hell! Let’s go, get inside somewhere, quick!”
They were in the downtown area, though, and all of the businesses were closed. Spike had one hand on Xander’s arm and one on Dawn’s, dragging them down the street and into one of the alleys a half a block from the Magic Box.
Xander was about to ask what had Spike spooked so badly when he saw two trash cans sail through the air. Not roll down the street or get picked up and tossed a few feet but actually start to fly on their very own.
It was about that time Xander heard it. He’d gone to see the movie Twister with Jesse and Willow, he knew what that was. He looked to the west, where Spike had been looking, and saw that the sky there seemed almost darker than the rest. There was a thin grayish line that was getting closer. Too close.
“What the hell!?”
“Waterspout. It’s coming inland. There isn’t enough time to get to the apartment, and most of the drains and sewers are flooded. Here.” They ended up in one of the alleys that had a fire escape and Spike was turning Dawn around, making sure her backpack was secured. Xander pulled off his coat and used it to tie the girl to the metal frame. He had never thought it would do any good; if a tornado could pick up a house it could tear leather or cotton, but fear made him hope.
Spike stood, his arms stretched to hold both of his and his hold tight on the metal ladder he was gripping. Xander could almost feel the his muscles tensing in sympathy. When this was all over he was going to trade in his gas guzzler of a car and buy something economy sized that he could afford to patrol with. Because the dangers of walking around Sunnydale had gotten worse.
The wind was terrible and Xander could see debris flying through the air. Before he could worry too much, though, the wind started to die down. He looked at Spike questioningly but didn’t want to ask if they were safe now, he didn’t want to jinx them again.
Dawn, however, didn’t seem to worry about that. Then again, she’d been quiet ever since Spike had started swearing and latched onto her arm. “Is it over?”
“Yeah. Must have broken up as soon as it hit land. Seen ‘em in the Florida Keys a lot but never here. Fuck. Let’s go.”
It took a while to undo the knots he’d made in his jacket’s arms but as soon as he did Spike had them both in his vice like grip again and towed both Xander and Dawn down the street towards their apartment building.
It wasn’t until later, when he was drying off as Spike fixed hot cocoa for the “disease-prone humans”, that he noticed that both he and Dawn had bruises on their arms from the force of his hold.
They all squeezed into Xander’s small kitchen. Xander figured Dawn wanted reassurance and in the back of his mind he did too. Tornados and waterspouts and sinkholes happened in other places, not right at his front door.
Once they were dry they all gathered around the kitchen table, drinking the hot chocolate gratefully before Xander started to make sloppy joes with fried corn and oven fries while Dawn dug through the cupboards before finding a brownie mix for dessert.
Spike moved through the apartment, gathering flashlights and batteries, candles. All the things they would need if the power got knocked out. Xander worried for a bit that the other man was avoiding them, but he soon came back into the kitchen and sat down at the table.
It was oddly quiet in the apartment. They had turned on the television but the local station was blacked out. The LA and Oxnard stations weren’t talking about Sunnydale except as a footnote on the seven o’clock news so they had turned on the radio. Schools in Sunnydale were closed tomorrow and everyone was being advised to stay away from the sink hole. Homes were being red-tagged due to possible mudslides on the east end of town and two people were dead due to weather-related injuries.
One of them had been one of Xander’s former classmates. Not a guy he really knew or liked but getting sucked down a storm drain was a frightening thought.
“Long-range models agree that yet another Pacific storm will approach the central coast of California Monday and Tuesday, and then move through Southern California Wednesday thru Friday.” Spike got up and flipped off the radio, leaving the room quiet.
“This isn’t normal, is it?” Dawn’s voice was the first to break the silence and Xander jumped at the sound of her voice, just slightly.
“Doesn’t seem to be, or if it’s normal we’re getting an extra topping of Hellmouth on it, Nibblet. We’ve been working to sort it out, it’ll be all right.” Spike reached out and patted the hand that wasn’t painting patterns in the ketchup with a fry.
“Partially it’s El Nino. A lot of the same stuff happened in 1968 and in 1998. But something seems to be making it hit Sunnydale extra hard. We’ll do a Scooby meeting about it tomorrow and you can help us research.”
“I can?” Her voice was so hopeful and once again Xander felt a stab of guilt run through him. That seemed to be happening a lot these days.
But it was Spike who answered her. “Less musty books for me to read the better.”
Xander spent a much longer time in the shower that night than he needed to. There were just so many things going on that he needed to take care of that he wasn’t sure where to begin. Both he and Spike had started fixing Dawn.
Xander had spent some time working on the rocking chair, trying to soothe his nerves, while Spike had actually watched some teen movie with Dawn. He had listened as the other man carefully interrogated Dawn, finding out how many nights a week Dawn spent alone, what was happening in school. The things Joyce would have cared about. It wasn’t much, but it was a beginning.
She now had a key to his apartment and an open invite to use the apartment any time she was lonely or just felt like hanging out. Spike had even said he’d sleep on the couch to let the girl have his bed and had cleared a drawer in the small dresser for her.
There was the weather thing that they’d been working on the past couple of weeks but didn’t seem to get any further on. Xander was beginning to think it was something out of both nature and the supernatural but had no idea what.
Buffy and Willow were both needing help. Willow had gone deeper into magic and had found a way to de-rat Amy, and Buffy wasn’t there even when she was home. The problem was, there were only so many times he could try to help them. It was like the old joke of the guy praying for help in a flood but sending the two boats and the helicopter away. He could only try to help. He couldn’t force them to take it.
He finally left the relative sanctuary of the bathroom, pulling on fleece pajama pants and a warm fleece shirt. March was turning out to be just as dark and wet as February had been. Even after the hot shower he was worried about catching a cold after being soaked through to the bone for the second time in a month.
He pulled on a pair of socks to keep his feet warm and wondered if he was too old for slippers. Or maybe that was too young since the ones made for adults looked like they were for the over sixty set. He bet Giles didn’t have a pair of slippers yet.
He finally wandered back into the living room and flopped down on the couch. He turned on the television and eventually found the channel Spike had been watching earlier that day. This time it was Goldfinger, a title that never failed to make Xander snicker.
After a few minutes Spike came in, handed him a glass of juice and then sat on the far end of the couch. Xander waited for a few moments and then tried to sneak a few looks at the other man from the corner of his eye.
That Spike’s chip didn’t zap him when he’d held so tightly onto Dawn didn’t bother Xander. Which bothered him. Then there were the Looks, which in the past twelve hours or so had graduated to a capital letter Looks. In fact the type and frequency of the Looks had made Xander come to the conclusion that if Spike had tits instead of a dick he would have gotten the idea that Spike had a crush on him.
And knowing that vampires weren’t as picky as humans about which sex their partner was, that meant that Spike had some sort of feelings for him, be it like or lust. Suddenly Xander had an image in his brain that was so weirdly funny he couldn’t help it, he burst out laughing so hard he about fell off the couch.
“What the fucking hell are you giggling about, Xan?” Spike peered at him from his place on the couch. He’d taken a shower and for once hadn’t slicked back his hair and Xander got to see him all curly headed and cute. That just set him off more and it wasn’t until he’d almost stopped breathing and started hiccupping that he finally was able to pull it in.
Of course, trying to tell Spike what he’d found so funny just about set him off again. “I…it’s just, in my head, I could see us as eight year olds, you with your big blue eyes and curls and me with a note that says ‘Do you like me?’ with those little boxes that say yes, no and maybe. It just struck me as silly.”
He’d giggled through most of the explanation, and found himself having to bite the inside of his cheek at the shocked/amazed/frightened look that was on Spike’s face for just a moment before his regular sneer started to replace it. Xander didn’t give Spike a chance, he scooted closer to him on the couch and made his eyes as big as possible.
“So? Do you like me? Yes, no, or maybe?”
For a heart stopping moment Xander was afraid he’d read all the signs wrong, that all the Looks were really just looks. And while he hadn’t made a decision what to do yet he felt a moment of disappointment.
Xander nodded. He didn’t say anything else. The chip, the weather, any and all possible feelings could be dealt with later when both he and Spike weren’t quite so mentally and emotionally fried.
But he did scoot down further onto Spike’s end of the couch, until their sides were just barely touching.
The next day was very surreal. They had both fallen asleep on the couch and they’d been found by a smirking Dawn, who had made blood and coffee. They had breakfast around the table together before heading out. Xander gave up on the walking like he promised and dropped Dawn and Spike off at the Magic Box before going into work. It was gray, but not rainy, and Dawn went ahead and held the door open so Spike could sprint inside to safety.
At work he put in for the vacation time he had been saving for a honeymoon. A week starting Friday, a week in a month and the third week in two months. The crew was going to be busy, both with the usual construction and fixing and rebuilding homes and businesses damaged by the rain. He hoped by spacing it out his absence wouldn’t make it hard for his boss. He just needed some time to deal with…everything.
One thing for sure, the thing with Spike, whatever it was, was going to happen quickly or not at all so he had to deal with the chip thing first. Both he and Spike had an odd history of falling in love fast and then never wanting to let go, which was in a way good, but it would get messy if Spike was going to go back to being the Slayer of Slayers.
Then again, if the chip had been out for a while he’d had plenty of chances to off them all and had done nothing. That would say a lot.
As he drove back to the Magic Box, bringing lunch for everyone from KFC, he wondered why he wasn’t freaked out about Spike. It wasn’t as if Xander had had affairs with men before, much less a male vampire. But for some reason…the expected freakage wasn’t there. He wasn’t even freaking over the lack of freakage.
Maybe it was because he knew Spike. Not in the carnal sense, but he knew that the vampire had a secret fondness for chocolate ice cream with caramel sauce, and that Spike liked to sneak and read books with small print and way too few pictures for Xander’s liking. Despite the fact that he played Sex Pistols and The Clash, Xander had even found an old cassette tape of Mozart under the couch.
It worked both ways. Spike knew that Xander liked long hot bubble baths, that the idea of ketchup on fish was as disgusting to him as it was to the Englishman, and that despite the fact that Xander could afford the name brand he liked the cheap root bear from the store.
It was something he had never had with Anya. Or Cordelia either, for that matter. He’d done his best to learn all about pleasing her but she had never done that for him. It was one sided. And if Spike already knew so much about him as just a friend? As a lover he’d be amazing. Because Spike would go all out for someone he loved, and Xander had always wanted that. Someone to love him with everything they were.
He felt slightly guilty for a moment, because he didn’t want to use Spike just for his own needs. It wasn’t fair to the other man. Then he realized that worrying about Spike’s feelings meant that he cared about him, that he worried about Spike enough to order the good blood for the house and to make sure that he was comfortable in the apartment by putting up good blinds and curtains.
As he pulled into a parking space on the street across from the Magic Box, Xander thought that maybe that was why he wasn’t freaking out. Maybe he was already in love with Spike, and just hadn’t realized it till now.
As he walked into the store Tara was bagging up a woman’s purchases. He nodded at her and then went into the back. Dawn was sitting on the couch, and she looked up hopefully at him and then frowned.
“Oh. It’s just you.”
Xander put on a fake pout. “It’s so nice to know you missed me, Dawn, really.”
“I missed you, does that count?” Spike had come from somewhere or other and moved up behind him, really close. He had pitched his voice low so only Xander could hear him and Xander couldn’t help but shiver. Then he calmly walked over to where Dawn was sitting and gave her comfort, acting as if nothing at all had happened, like he hadn’t just made Xander’s cock twitch and his heart rate speed up. Bastard. Xander was caught between annoyance and admiration. Spike had evidently decided to step up the pace.
In the end he just laughed and sat down beside him on the couch. Spike looked over at him and grinned. Then he nodded his head at Dawn. “Big Sis hasn’t shown up yet, hasn’t called the shop or left a message. You heard from her?”
Xander frowned. “No, not today. Don’t worry, Dawn. We’ll find her. Did anyone talk to Willow? Maybe she knows where she is.”
“I—I did. She didn’t say if she’d seen Buffy or not. Willow said she’d try to stop by, later on.” Tara had slipped quietly into the back, and she sounded nervous. He figured Spike had talked to her, that she knew that Xander was looking to start fixing the Scooby gang up before it became permanently damaged.
“Well, I brought lunch. KFC for everyone, and yes, I got extra drumsticks for you two.” He looked pointedly at both Spike and Dawn. Between the two of them he’d be lucky if he even saw a leg anywhere near his plate, despite the fact that he’d bought extra. It was worth it to see Dawn bounce and to get a real smile out of Spike.
Lunch was fun, even though Xander and Tara took turns running back and forth to the front of the store. It was busy, which was odd for a Monday. Spike said that it was just human nature; everyone was coming downtown to try to get close to the sinkhole, see it for themselves. It seemed as good a reason as any.
There really wasn’t enough time to sit down and talk, when three o’clock rolled around the Magic Box was invaded by about fifteen people and even Dawn and Spike came out of the back to help. Well, Dawn helped; Spike stood in the doorway and glared at people who tried to give any of “his” humans a hard time.
Xander caught him growling at a middle-aged woman who was trying to flirt with him, and couldn’t help but grin. Spike was getting jealous over him. Spike.
It gave him a sort of warm fuzzy feeling, right above the slow arousal that had started at the rumbling sound of the growl. Nice. Spike evidently thought so too because the next time he went near the man there was just a hint of a growl, right before he scented the air and then leered appreciatively in Xander’s direction. Tara caught their byplay and raised an eyebrow and Xander could see her suppressing a smile.
Okay, so they weren’t exactly subtle.
Finally it was getting dark and all the smart little humans cleared off the streets of Sunnydale and they were able to close the shop. Willow still hadn’t shown up, and Buffy hadn’t called and Dawn was torn between worry and anger.
Xander was leaning more towards the angry side. Because if Buffy didn’t notice her sister wasn’t home, well, that was all sorts of wrong. Joyce turning around in her grave type of wrong, and boy, now that he thought about it he was glad that Mrs. Summers was in a different cemetery than the one that had turned into a swimming pool last night.
Tara closed out the register while Dawn and Xander fronted the shelves and tidied up. They were done in a matter of minutes and gathered around the research table. Xander looked at the two empty seats and then Dawn’s big eyes and went and called the Summers’ house, hoping to get either Buffy or Willow.
“Buffy!” So many things Xander wanted to say. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, why shouldn’t I be?” Even across the room Xander could hear Spike’s growl and he fought the urge to start slamming the handset of the phone down repeatedly. Buffy had been one of his best friends going on six years now but sometimes…she was just way too self involved.
He turned his back to the others and hissed into the phone. “I don’t know, maybe because you haven’t seen your sister in a day or two? Or because there was a tornado and a sinkhole in town yesterday and no one knew where you were? What if you were lying dead in a ditch? What would Dawn do then? God, Buff…” He trailed off, his anger replaced by sadness.
“We’re at the Magic Box. You need to get here. Bring Willow if you see her.” He hung up carefully and slowly before going back to the others. Dawn looked as if she’d been slapped in the face and he guessed she had. Spike was petting her hair, all but pulling her into his lap. Tara was biting her lip, as if she was afraid of what she was thinking.
He joined them at the table, not saying anything for a moment. Then he took a deep breath. “Before Buffy gets here there’s one thing we need to talk about. Spike, how long has the chip not been working?”
Spike’s head turned so quickly it was almost funny, and his eyes were almost impossibly wide. Nice, blue eyes. Xander smiled and whatever worry Spike must have felt seemed to disappear.
“Dunno, really. Started out about the time the wonky rain started. Was thinking it was something electrical in the air or something. Weather clears up and it might turn back on. Might not, don’t know. Haven’t gone on a binge if that’s what you lot are thinking. Might have had a nip or two off a couple of muggers and the like. Seems I’ve lost my taste for nibbling on the innocents, never know when they might be one of the Nibblet’s friends, or know Glinda or you. Bloody chip, left me with fucking brain damage.”
Spike was grumbling but Dawn was throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tight enough that if he were human he’d be turning blue. Tara was giving him a congratulations which when you thought about was odd, and Xander found himself grinning goofily at Spike, as if he’d done some amazing trick, which Xander supposed he had. And something in the back of Xander’s brain relaxed and he felt something loosen around his heart.
They didn’t want to start the meeting until Buffy and Willow showed up so Dawn got on the phone to order something for dinner and Tara went along, saying she’d make sure she didn’t go overboard. In reality, Xander figured she was giving them some privacy. She had that smile that said she approved and found their soon-to-be relationship amusing.
As soon as the girls’ backs were turned Spike grabbed Xander by the arm and dragged him back into the training room. Xander rolled his eyes. “You could just hold my hand or something, Spike, no need to act like I’m the bad guy on a cop show and you’re taking me in for interrogation.”
Spike stopped and leaned him against the brick wall. “You sure about that, pet? Wouldn’t you liked to be…. frisked?”
Xander found it hard to swallow, almost hard to breathe. It should be against the law for someone to have a voice that sexy, and then to add that sort of animalistic growl to it? Gibble. “Hell yes, I want to be frisked but preferably at home, with Dawn back with her sister or spending the night with Tara so I don’t have to worry about strange noises and smells.”
Spike was running his hands up and down Xander’s arms and chest, just touching. Almost as if it had been something he’d wanted to do but hadn’t dared. “Weird noises and smells? What the hell are you planning, Xan? Something kinky?”
Xander laughed. “Hopefully sex with a vampire is about as kinky as I’m going to get, at least in the near future. Fuck, Spike, you growl just a little and I get all…and I can just imagine what would happen when you growl and we’re both naked. We are going to be naked, aren’t we? That’s what this is heading towards, us doing naked things together and then having breakfast in the morning, right? Not just a one time thing?”
As he spoke Xander let his arms slip around Spike’s waist, pulling him close and enjoying the feeling of holding another body close. Spike leaned forward and sniffed near his neck and instead of getting nervous Xander tipped his head back and let Spike have access. In fact, instead of panicking Xander felt a tremendous rush, just knowing that this powerful creature could literally take his life from him but trusting him not to.
Spike rumbled in his chest, a happy sort of growl if Xander could tell correctly, and then he licked Xander from his collarbone up to his ear and then spoke softly. “Don’t do one time things, pet. I find someone who gives even half a damn about me and I latch on tight. If you don’t want that, Xan, best say something now. Pretty soon I’ll get to the point where I will never let you go, understand?”
Xander knew what he was implying, that if something happened to him on patrol or something he’d be turned. On one hand it was very frightening, but on the other hand it felt so nice to be wanted that much.
He leaned forward, pressing his lips to Spike’s and just…kissing. Showing how much he wanted the man in his arms. When they finally pulled apart Xander leaned his forehead against Spike’s and looked into the lust-filled blue eyes that could very quickly become an addiction.
“I took a week off for vacation starting after Friday’s shift. We’ll have nine days to…talk and do the emotional sap thing. Hopefully, by then we’ll get the wacky weather fixed, at least. The girls will take longer to fix but we’ll have time for us too. That’s okay, isn’t it?”
Spike stood up and ever so carefully adjusted himself. The sight of that and knowing that he was the cause made Xander’s mouth go dry and all the blood rush to his head. The one that wasn’t on his shoulders. Spike smirked at him and his answer was almost a purr.
“Pet, that will be perfect. So many things I can teach you in a week. Now come on, the Slayer and Red will be here soon.”
Xander was glad that Spike took him by the hand and led him back to the research table. The mental images his, gulp, new boyfriend had just painted made him temporarily blind.
Xander found himself leaning against Spike as they both tried not to listen to Buffy and Dawn in the training room. Well, he was trying to not listen; Spike probably couldn’t help it. Buffy had come in and Dawn immediately went on the offensive, giving her older sister hell for everything from forgetting to sign a permission slip the week before to not noticing she wasn’t home during a tornado.
When Buffy tried to stop her and make excuses, Xander interrupted his long time friend and told her maybe for once she should actually listen to her sister. Tara had stepped up and told them both that the training room was open, and wouldn’t they be more comfortable in there.
So there they were, in the front of the shop, pretending that there wasn’t a whole lot of yelling and crying going on in the other room. Tara was making tea for the girls and getting out drinks and setting out paper plates for the pizza and breadsticks that had been ordered. Personally, Xander thought that she was avoiding talking to Willow, and in a way he couldn’t blame her. But it was obvious that Willow wasn’t going to stop without someone forcing her.
Xander wished Giles was here. Giles knew what it was like to go too far with magic and could maybe get through to Wills. He still had mixed feelings about the older man’s leaving. Not because of Anya so much as the fact that he left to force Buffy to “grow up”. Not only had it not worked but it had left everyone else in the lurch as well.
If he and Tara hadn’t stepped up to the plate the Magic Box it would have been closed or sold to someone else. As it was, Tara had changed to taking most of her classes early mornings or at night or over the Internet to keep the store open.
His eyes moved on to where Willow was sitting at the research table. She was dressed…oddly. Skin tight black jeans and a red silk blouse that showed a lot more of Willow that he ever wanted to see. Add in a bustier and she’d be dressed a hell of a lot more like vamp!Willow from that crazy universe that Cordy and Anya had created.
Spike must have felt his unease. He turned his head and whispered in Xander’s ear. “Don’t worry, luv, she’s just nervous about seeing Glinda I think. She’s nervous about something, at any rate.”
The feel of Spike speaking that close to his ear made Xander shiver, just a bit. Spike must have noticed it because the damned vamp deliberately inhaled and then blew a steady stream of air into Xander’s ear.
Xander gave a full body shiver and bit his lip. He stepped away from his infuriating vampire and gave him a glare. Tara must have noticed because she giggled and Willow was looking at him strangely.
Spike looked like the cat that ate the canary, of course. He’d have to figure out a way to pay Spike back for that…later.
For now, he leaned back against the counter just a few inches away from Spike and ignored him. “Willow, what were you up to yesterday that kept you from being home during the freaky weather?”
Willow's eyes flicked from him to Spike for just a moment before she seemed to get lost in herself. “Oh! It was so much fun, Xander. I went out to the beach and was there when the waterspout tried to form. I’d never seen one before so I sort of helped it along. It was so beautiful, with the lightning and the wind….”
Tara gasped and Xander went back to leaning against Spike, mainly to keep his vampire from jumping across the room and hurting the girl he used to claim as his best friend.
“Willow, you do know that due to that storm two people died, don’t you? I mean, if you hadn’t mucked with the storm pattern it might not have been as bad.”
“What?! No, all I did was play a little. No harm! It wasn’t me!” Willow sounded almost desperate to believe that she was innocent. Xander wasn’t so sure and Tara…
“You broke the Rede again, Willow! How could you? You’ve been warned -- Giles, Xander, me! We’ve all said you were going too far and now…Goddess, Willow! Do you realized what you’ve done? You’ve caused people harm!”
“What’s the reed?” Buffy’s voice was rough from crying and Dawn looked terrible as they came out of the training room. But they were holding hands and Buffy looked more connected than she had in a long time. Tired, thin, but there.
“The Wiccan Rede. It’s a law, sort of, a rule that most wiccans follow. Not all, but most. Basically, it says that as long as a wiccan does no physical or mental harm to anyone or anything they can work any type of magick. Most wiccans use that and the Three-Fold Law to judge whether to use magick or not. That last one states that whatever intent is sent out with magick is sent back to you times three. Remember that love spell I did in high school? That was the Three-Fold Law coming back to bite me in the ass. And when Willow’s spell went wonky and made Giles blind and me a demon magnet? That was another good example. I really don’t want to know what will happen this time. Knowing our luck, we’ll end up in a demonic version of Oz. The land, not the werewolf. Or the prison show on HBO.”
Xander was stuttering by the time he wrapped up his little lecture, basically because Buffy, Willow and Dawn were looking at him like he’d grown a second head. He even checked both his shoulders because, hello, Hellmouth. It could happen. Tara just smiled at him and he could hear Spike making impressed rumbles beside him.
He looked at the three girls, who were gaping at him. “What?!”
Buffy smiled at him for a moment. “You were channeling Giles there for a second, Xan, that’s all.”
He grinned. “No, if I had been channeling Giles I would have used much longer words and more complicated examples.” He turned to Willow. “So, are you the one who’s been playing around with the weather all this time? Or was that just a one time thing?”
She tried to lie, for just a moment, and Xander left Spike’s side and kneeled down in front of her. “It’s time for the truth, Willow. People are dead, other people are homeless and jobless and there’s been a lot of hurt. If this is your doing you need to stop it and start working to make things better.”
Dinner ended up being a very quiet event, everyone gathered around the table in the first time since Xander didn’t know how long. Buffy and Willow listened as the others went over what research had been done, who they had talked to. Xander noticed that both women squirmed in their seats rather guiltily. He couldn’t help but think that maybe that was a good thing; if they were guilty they wouldn’t do what caused that guilt again.
Willow was very distraught about the two deaths. To tell the truth, Xander didn’t know if her playing with the winds the day before had caused it to happen or not but Willow thought so and hopefully that would be enough to stop her from using her magick so recklessly. Buffy had promised to take time out for her friends more, and to pay more attention to Dawn, but only time would tell.
One thing was for sure; they didn’t notice things outside of themselves enough to notice that Spike had his leg around Xander’s under the cover of the table.
“So if it isn’t magick making the weather go creepy, and while it’s El Nina it’s worse than usual and therefore isn’t natural, what is it? I gotta tell you, this weather is doing nothing for my hair.” Buffy’s joke fell flat but at least she was trying.
Tara shook her head. “I—I’m not sure. It’s something, there’s too much electricity in the air, but I don’t know what without some sort of scientific equipment or something like that.”
Dawn laughed. “Too bad this is real life and not cartoons. If it was a cartoon we’d just have to find someplace high up and the villain would be there with some device making things go crazy.”
Xander dropped the slice of pizza that he’d just picked up. He was having one of those things where an idea jumped into his head so fast it almost hurt. “That’s it! That can’t be it, it’s too easy. Unless you don’t think like them, then it would be hard.”
Spike pinched him on the arm and he came out from inside his brain. Everyone was looking around in confusion. “Care to put that sentence in something besides Xanderbabble, pet? The rest of us are confused.”
“Okay, what’s the most weird, unlikely, stupid thing that you can think of that could change the weather? Dawn said it, just a second ago. Some villain with a ray gun in his fortress changing the weather. Well, we’ve got three annoying little nerds who have watched way too many Superfriends episodes and think they’re the new Legion of Doom. This sounds like something the little geeks would do.”
Everyone looked at each other and couldn’t argue with his logic. Buffy finally asked what they were all thinking, though. “But…why?”
“Why not? To play with a big toy, to see if they could do it, to blackmail the State for a payoff of one million dollars. Who knows? It’s just worth a chance to see if I’m right. We can split up, search the town for things like antennae or extra wires. Maybe take a compass with us and see if anything affects it.”
“I could hack into the SCEP&G, see if anyone’s been draining the system or something. No magic! Just illegal hacker know-how.”
Xander smiled. “As long as you’re breaking common laws and not mystical ones I think you’ll be okay. Dawn can help you; from what I’ve heard she’s just about failing her computer class at school and needs the help. Dawnie, if she starts doing mojo, pout at her, okay?”
“Sure, Xander!” Dawn got up and started clearing the trash away from the table and Willow looked once at Tara and then went to get the laptop.
Xander looked at Spike and then leaned forward and took Tara’s hand. “You okay? If you need to go home, I understand.”
“I’m…okay. Really, Xander, it’s just, I want to help her but she hasn’t wanted it.” Tara’s face was hidden by her curtain of hair and Xander brushed it out of her face.
“I know, you can’t help someone unless they want it. Hopefully she wants it now. Maybe…I know that it seems mean but what if you got together the information on the storm from yesterday, the two people that died and all the property damage. It can’t all be blamed on her, but maybe it will make her stop and think.”
Tara nodded. “That might work. If it doesn’t we’ll just have to tie her up and have you argue ethics at her. That was really impressive, Xander. If you wanted to study you’d be a really great witch.”
“Thanks.” He smiled. “Even though I used to think a male witch was a warlock.” At Tara’s expression he quickly backpedaled. “I know better now, it was just all that misinformation from Bewitched, I swear! A warlock is an oath breaker, and a male witch is a witch. See! I actually learned something.”
“You’ve learned a lot, Xander. Thank you.” Tara stole a quick glance at Spike and then quickly kissed him on the cheek. Xander had barely enough time to look amazed when the shy woman did the same to Spike before disappearing into the back office.
Xander grinned at his vampire. Spike had a shocked look on his face too. Buffy, however, seemed to miss the entire thing.
“I guess I’m patrolling, looking for electric things. Xan, I know you worked hard today, so I’ll go with Spike if you want to go home and get some rest.”
There was growling and, surprisingly, it wasn’t just coming from Spike; Xander found himself growling under his breath as well. “Thanks, Buffy, but I’m okay. I only worked a half-day at the site before coming here. Besides, it would probably be better if we either stuck together or all three split up because we'll need to look all around town. After last night I’m all in favor of staying inside the car too. I’m sick and tired of being wet.”
Buffy jumped up from the table and walked over to where her coat and weapons were piled up. “That’s a good idea, you can drive around in your car and Spike and I can check out the places that a car can’t get to! It won’t take too long and if the two of us find anything we can give you a call if we need you.”
Xander felt like banging his head on the table. Once again Buffy was blind. Here he was, nearly sitting in Spike’s lap. Or as close as he could scoot their chairs together and not actually climb on top of Spike. Because if he was going to be doing that, he wouldn’t be just sitting.
Spike must have sensed his momentary withdrawal from the real world, and the reason for it. He was sitting there chuckling under his breath and his leg was just moving up and down Xander’s, slowly. Damn it, he wanted to find the three little freaks that were making it rain so he could go home and learn how to be gay! Specifically how to fit their, as Anya would have said, interlocking parts together.
“Hello! Earth to Spike! Let’s go!” Buffy was waving her hand in front of Spike’s face and Xander realized she was close to losing it. Spike growled at her and shoved her arm away.
“Shove off, Slayer! M’not going with you, I’m going with Xan. You can come with us or you can go by yourself.”
Buffy lowered her head and looked at Spike through her bangs. Xander felt a moment of jealousy. “Why…”
Whatever Buffy may or may not have been going to say was lost in Spike’s growling declaration. “Because I want to be able to snog with my boy while we’re on patrol! That’s why!”
“Well, that was not fun.” By the time they left the Magic Box fog had rolled in, making Sunnydale look as creepy as it actually was. Xander walked side by side with Spike until he got to his car, fished out his keys, unlocked the doors and threw them at the vampire. “You’ve got the super night sight, you drive. My brain is tired.”
“Right.” Xander buckled his seat belt and slouched in his seat as Spike carefully pulled onto the road. It was hard for Xander to see more than five feet in front of the car and he was glad that Spike was there. He just wanted to figure out if the Geeky Trio had anything to do with the weather, possibly let Spike beat the crap out of Warren and go home.
Buffy hadn’t taken the news that he and Spike were together that well. Willow had mainly been mad because he had never told her he was bi or gay or whatever he was now. Now she wanted to have lunch and talk about starting a gay support group for the Sunnydale area, even though he tried to tell her he was still figuring it out.
Buffy was upset that Spike had seemed to change his mind about her, but Xander had asked her point blank if she really wanted Spike, because he really did want the vampire, snarky attitude, overprotective qualities, bloody mugs in the sink and all. However, he knew Buffy; once she had time to think about it, she’d be okay as long as he was happy. And, despite being tired, he was happy.
He looked over at Spike and saw his jaw was clenched just a bit too tight. He bit back a sigh, knowing the other man could clearly hear him. “I want you for you, I need you to know that. Not just for the way you’re beginning to make me feel, but because you know that I like sour cream in my hash browns, and you know that I actually watch the news. You know me, better than anyone else right now. And I’d like for you to know me more, to get to the point where you know everything about me without me even saying a thing and I want to learn everything about you. Even the icky killing stuff and how great you had it with Dru and what you really did with Angelus. I want to learn the stuff that no one has ever taken the time to learn about you before.”
Spike looked over at him and Xander could almost feel the weight of his gaze. He felt weird, saying something like that so early in a relationship. All he needed to do now was declare his undying love and go on for about ten minutes about the blueness of Spike’s eyes to turn into a total girl.
“No one has ever said that to me, not in over a hundred and forty years. Thank you, Xander. I…I want that too.” Spike turned his eyes back to the road and Xander found himself grinning goofily once again. Spike wanted what he wanted. They had similar goals in their relationship. They’d probably even score high on those stupid quizzes Anya used to make him take out of her women’s magazines. It was so sweet that if he weren’t one of the people in the relationship he’d probably be sick.
“I also want to see you, legs in the air, writhing at my touch. Want to pierce your pretty nipples, put gold hoops in there and use my tongue to tug on them, make you scream. Want to learn every kink you ever denied yourself and do every single one of them with you, and then I’ll teach you some new ones. Gonna chain you in bed next week, the first day just to rest but the next few days you’ll still be there and we’ll play. All. Week. Long.”
“You just love having the last word, don’t you?” Xander couldn’t help but shift in his seat as his cock all of a sudden leapt to attention at his vampire’s words. He really, really wanted it to be Friday.
They drove around for what felt like hours, but with the fog and the darkness it was hard to see unusual wires or anything out of place. In Xander’s head there was a picture of giant batteries or a huge wheel with Andrew or Jonathon being forced by Warren to run, creating a big spark, and he realized it was time to go home before his brain got even odder. Spike turned the car around and they went back to what was now their apartment. Their home.
Spike all but carried him into the building and propped him up against the wall of the elevator as they made their way up. Xander was bone tired, so many things had happened today and it was only nine o’clock.
He and Spike had talked more in the car, telling each other stories like the time he’d eaten too much jello salad and puked lime green for two days, or when Drusilla had decided that Spike should play Rocky in a local showing of Rocky Horror and had tried to kill the guy doing the live show while on stage. Xander didn’t know that murder could be funny but since it was in the past there was nothing he could do about it but laugh.
Besides, the idea of Spike in a gold lame underwear and boots was a damn good idea. He could see where she was coming from. Plus there was the added annoyance factor of Spike getting flustered every time he started singing, “Toucha-toucha-touch me, creature of the night!”
In fact that was what he was doing now, under his breath of course. Still, it was causing Spike to grumble and grump as he hauled Xander down the hall to their apartment by his arm. As the door closed behind them, Xander leaned on Spike and giggled.
“Does Drusilla have a cell phone, or even know how to use a phone? Cause I bet I could get all sorts of fun dirt on you from her. I bet she knows all your fun spots too.”
Spike rolled his eyes and Xander could tell he was fighting off a chuckle. “You’re so tired you’re loopy, Xan. C’mon, have a bit of a lie down and see if you make better sense. You should be running screaming from the idea of talking to Dru, not trying to call her up.”
“Like you’d let anything happen to me.” Xander peeled himself off Spike and went to the phone table. He played back his messages while emptying his pockets of the miscellaneous crap he collected through the day. Spike disappeared into the kitchen for blood.
There were three useless messages on his machine, one from his boss confirming his week off, and one from Buffy.
“Hey guys! First things first, we think Willow found the little rats. There’s an old warehouse on the north side of town that’s been sucking down electricity like there’s no tomorrow. It’s either some funky machine or they’re throwing the geek version of a rave, which is a scary thought if you stop and think about it.”
She stopped and Xander could picture her in his head, running her hand through her hair and then pulling on it in frustration. “Listen, Xander, I didn’t thank you or Spike for taking care of Dawn. I’m sorry you had to. So…thanks. And if you guys are really, well, okay with each other I guess I am too. Or will be. It’s just…kinda hard and for a while there it was like Spike was the only one who made me feel alive. I want to feel that again, but I guess I’ll have to find another way. I don’t know. How did everything get so messed up, Xander? I talked to Tara earlier, after you two left. She thinks I might need counseling. I may try it. Just…gimme a call later, okay? I really miss you. And I’ll get okay with you boinking the evil undead after I rag on you about Angel for a week or two, promise.”
Xander had to smile at that last bit. He had to admit; he was in for some major teasing about Angel. He made a note to call Buffy in the morning on a scratch pad beside the phone. While he’d been listening to the messages, Spike had moved from the kitchen and was leaning against the bedroom wall, waiting.
Xander felt a flutter of anticipation as well as nervousness somewhere in his middle. He really did want this with Spike, but he was afraid. Not so much of the whole man on man thing, which again was weird. He was afraid of what he’d be afraid of with any other lover too, afraid of not being enough, of making a fool of himself.
Mainly he was afraid of losing himself to his partner’s wants. That had happened with Anya; he’d been overpowered so much by her demands and her wants that he forgot to think about his own. The only reason he’d proposed was because she’d been hinting at it since Riley had left the winter before.
And Spike was just so powerful, both strength wise and personality wise. It would be so easy to get pulled into his shadow. And Xander didn’t want that this time, he really wanted to be as equal as he could be, considering that Spike had a century of experience and could easily break him like a twig.
Spike must have sensed his nervousness. He pushed himself off the wall and walked over, taking Xander into his arms. “Don’t worry, pet, not gonna do anything tonight, with you so knackered. Let’s just get you into bed a bit early, yeah?”
Xander leaned into Spike and hugged him gratefully. “Thanks, Spike. This is all just so new and my brain is doing weird things and…well, when we make love the first time I kinda would like to be fully aware and not feeling like I have to force my eyes open.”
Spike kissed him gently on the forehead before leading him to the bedroom. “Believe me, Xan, when we make love you’ll be more than aware.”
Waking up with Spike wrapped around him like a vampiric blanket was an odd feeling. Not bad, and something he could definitely get used to, just different. Spike didn’t have the soft round curves that Xander was used to. He was sharp edges and hard muscles. Spike felt heavier than he looked, almost as if he was more solid, more there.
He was tangled up in Spike’s arms and he didn’t need to get up and get ready for work for another hour. Going to bed early definitely had its advantages. He thought for a moment before carefully wriggling his way out of Spike’s arms to make a trip to the bathroom. Any experimenting that might be going on would be much more fun if he was minty fresh.
He’d gone to bed with boxer shorts the night before, but he didn’t pull them back on after he relieved himself and washed up. He very carefully crawled back in bed beside Spike and really looked at him.
His hair was ungelled and was curled into near ringlets. They were platinum blonde with darker roots. The scar that Buffy had told them had come from the first Slayer Spike had killed in his one eyebrow, the beautiful, sharp cheekbones, the wonderful pale pink lips that were curved into a gentle smile. Back up to see bright blue eyes looking straight at him. Xander blushed, embarrassed to be caught.
“Hey yourself. You can look, you know, you can even touch.” Spike smiled and Xander rose up to give him a good morning kiss. It still felt kind of odd, kissing a man, but all thoughts like that went out the window when Spike pulled him closer and twined one arm around Xander to stroke the line of his backbone.
Xander jumped just slightly at the touch, and that just brought him so much closer to the man sharing his bed. He gasped and Spike pulled away, watching him. He purposely lifted his leg and swung it over Spike’s, opening himself up so that their cocks touched. He was rewarded with the sight of Spike’s eyes starting to transform from deep blue to a feral gold. Xander was surprised to realize he wanted that fierceness, wanted Spike out of control.
The next few minutes were lost in a flurry of touches and caresses. Xander set about learning his lover, finding out what Spike liked while at the same time Spike seemed determined to drive him insane. Xander found out that Spike loved having the hollow above his collarbone bitten, and Spike found that spot on the back of Xander’s leg that was guaranteed to have him begging for more.
Finally Xander was panting for breath and he could feel just how aroused they both were. Another movement, another soft touch or nip at this throat and he’d come. He glanced quickly at the clock and saw that he still had plenty of time. He leaned over and licked the outer shell of Spike’s ear before whispering. “If you want, there’s massage oil in the bathroom, somewhere. We can… you know.”
Spike chuckled. “Shouldn’t be doing it if you can’t say it. You sure, pet?”
Xander thrust his cock against Spike’s. “Very sure. I’m going to pop I’m so sure so if you want, better hurry.”
Spike leaned over and fumbled under the bed before pulling the bottle of oil out. “Got this while you were sleeping last night, didn’t want to ruin the mood by having to go through cupboards for ten bloody minutes.”
Xander rolled onto his back and opened his legs as far as they would comfortably go, bracing with his feet flat on the bed. “Good plan. Now fuck me, please!”
Spike moved in between Xander’s legs and poured some of the oil onto the base of Xander’s cock so it could trickle down to his entrance. Xander gasped at the sensation and Spike took the opportunity for another kiss before pulling away to prepare him.
“Not gonna fuck you, luv, gonna make love to you. You’re going to feel so damn good when I’m through with you, you won’t believe it.”
Xander could believe it. The feelings that Spike’s fingers alone were creating almost had him arching off the bed. He’d played with his prostate before, but no one else had and having fingers that weren’t his own reaching for that spot had him impossibly harder. He grabbed at the base of his cock, hoping to keep himself from orgasming.
“Ready, Xander?” He opened his eyes to look into Spike’s and realized that he must have zoned out for a moment or two, trying to keep himself together. Spike was giving him this last chance to back out but Xander wasn’t going to take it. Instead he leaned forward and gave Spike a quick kiss before falling back, his head hitting the pillow with a “whoosh”.
“Ready, Spike, want you inside me. Want you to be part of me.”
The feeling of having Spike enter him was incredible. He’d always thought there would be pain, even a little bit, but there wasn’t. There was stretching and a feeling of fullness, of completion. As soon as Spike was all the way in he wasted no time; he rocked his hips back and let his lover know that he wanted “More!”
He was so close and thought that Spike was too. At the very least, his new lover didn’t tease him in the slightest. That would be for other days when they had plenty of time. Spike just set a fairly rapid pace, holding his legs open and pounding into him. After a few moments Spike changed positions, throwing Xander’s legs over his shoulders while still thrusting in and out. Xander groaned at the change and squirmed. His cock was now trapped between his body and Spike’s and the added friction just felt so good.
Spike got even closer, his thrusts got even harder and he leaned forward to kiss Xander. It was the type of kiss that would have left his toes curling if it weren’t for the fact he was being fucked so nicely that he couldn’t really feel his legs. All his focus was on Spike’s cock going in and out of his channel and his own cock as it rubbed against Spike’s abdomen.
He felt Spike lick against the side of his neck and wasn’t frightened for even a second. Instead he arched his neck, letting Spike do what he wanted. When Spike’s pace faltered he opened his eyes to look into the demonic face of his lover.
“Do it, Spike, I want you to. I trust you.”
Spike closed his eyes tight for just a moment before opening them back up again. “God, Xander, you’re so fucking beautiful like this. All spread out, taking me in, taking all of me. Love you, Xander.”
Xander gasped but couldn’t respond because Spike was suckling at the side of his neck. A cool hand replaced his own around his cock but instead of gripping the base Spike started stroking him in time to his thrusts.
Xander felt as if every muscle in his body was tensing and knew he was about to come. “Please, Spike, I can’t hold on! Bite me!”
Spike growled against his neck and that was it for Xander. He felt his orgasm start just as a sharp pain started in his neck. The feeling of Spike feeding from him was incredible, almost as if he was being taken apart and put back together in a new shape. Add to that the feeling of his own climax and Spike’s thrusting even harder inside him before exploding himself and the satisfaction was just too much. He screamed out his pleasure at the top of his voice.
“God! Spike! So fucking good!”
Xander lay there with his lover as long as he could, kissing and touching some more. Post-sex snuggles. And when it was finally time to get up and get ready for work he was able to embrace Spike one more time and whisper, “I love you too.”
The bite mark on his neck was high and Xander did nothing to hide it. In fact, he’d worn a low-neck shirt under his work shirt and made sure it could be seen.
Work had been a mess of moving work crews that could be used to help clean up from one area of Sunnydale to another and signing paperwork so the workers that weren’t benefiting from the rain damage could get unemployment. Most of his co-workers had noticed the mark but they all just assumed it was a regular hickey. Of course, the grin on his face pretty much advertised he’d had damn good sex.
After work he’d gone home and picked up Spike before going over to the Magic Box to plan what to do with the nerds. Spike had a self-satisfied look to him but if you knew him well enough you could see past the smirk and find the happy smile he was trying to hide.
And Xander was happy to note he knew him well enough.
Dawn was still at school -- classes had gone back to regular schedule today -- but Tara had actually smirked at them. Tara!
Xander was caught between embarrassment and happiness that at least one of his friends was glad he'd “gotten his end away”.
Buffy and Willow were both looking at him oddly, but that was only to be expected. After all, they didn’t know about the chip not working, and Willow had never felt what a bite meant to a vampire and his lover. Come to think of it, the only time Angel had bitten Buffy was that one time when he’d been poisoned; Xander really doubted that he’d been able to control the bite like Spike had.
Spike had made sure that there was no pain with Xander’s bite, only intense pleasure. That was one of the benefits of being a Master Vampire from what little he understood. He’d have to ask Spike to show him all of the others.
Tara closed the shop early as Willow pulled up the address for the warehouse where they suspected Warren and his buddies were hiding. Xander felt sort of sorry for them, well, for Jonathon at least. He didn’t really know Andrew but Jonathon wasn’t that bad, he just needed friends and tended to fall into the wrong crowd.
“Here’s the warehouse, at the end of Oak Street. There are a lot of trees and the like around the area but it’s on the north end of town and is on a hill, well, sort of. It’s higher than most areas of Sunnydale, at any rate. They’ve tapped into the power grid illegally. I created a computer virus that will alert the power company that they’re stealing power, and they’ll send someone out to investigate.”
“Great job, Wills! That’s too cool!” Xander grinned at his friend. It was nice seeing her create havoc without the magic. Tara must have thought so too because she gave Willow a big smile. He hoped that they would get back together, but only if that was what they both wanted.
“Will it be dangerous for them? I mean, what if the power company sends someone out and Warren freezes him, or has Jonathon use some weird spell? I don’t want anyone innocent getting hurt. And it’s not like we can call them up and tell them to watch out for nerds that are armed and possibly dangerous.”
Spike jumped up to sit on the counter. “You can always lie, you know. Works quite well for other people usually. Send a message with that virus that says it’s a white-supremacist group, some sort of cult. Better yet, say that they’re terrorists, even though they’re not you’ll have more police, Army, FBI and three letter word organizations down there than you can shake a stick at. Should scare them silly, even if they’re not arrested.”
Xander grinned and walked over to give his lover a kiss. “Great idea, Spike, positively evil. You’ve still got it.”
Spike brushed his hand against the bite mark on Xander’s neck, making him shiver. “Mmmm, you say the sweetest things, pet, calling me evil. Flattery will get you everywhere.”
Xander laughed and turned so that his back was leaning against Spike’s legs. Willow looked confused but accepting; that was good. Buffy looked jealous, but he knew her and knew that she wasn’t jealous over him or Spike, just jealous that they had each other. She’d get over it eventually. Hell, he got over his fiancée leaving with his pseudo-father figure. He could actually wish them well. It would just take time for them to adjust, that was all.
It wasn’t as if he was surprising anyone with his choice of a demon for a lover. Nothing new there.
“So that’s it. We call the cops, well, email them, and the FBI and whatever, and they get carted off to a nice jail cell where Andrew and Jonathon will most likely crack under pressure and make a deal with the DA and send Warren up the river. And we don’t have to worry about going out and doing the fighty thing?”
He could hear Spike snort under his breath at the use of the term “fighty thing”, but Willow and Buffy got it. They always got his odd use of the American language. Willow bounced in her seat and he was afraid she’d knock the laptop off the table. “Nope, we should be able to do everything from here. I’d forgotten how much fun hacking could be!”
Buffy grinned. “This is good. I almost wish we could do all our slaying from computerland; it doesn’t make such a mess and, let me tell you, after some of the crap I’ve seen at the Doublemeat Palace, I’m sick of messes. You should have been there the other day when they cleaned out the grease pit. You could have hidden whole bodies down there and no one would know. I’m just glad I put the slayage on that old woman with the snake head.”
They all looked at Buffy oddly but it was Willow who asked… “What old woman?”
“Thanks, Spike, that was good.”
“Anything for you, Xan, even god awful teenybopper music.” They’d started really talking at the Magic Box, so after Willow had sent her little whistle-blowing virus they’d picked up Dawn from the friend’s house she’d gone to after school and they’d all gone to the Bronze, Spike included.
It was nice, talking to his friends for the first time in what seemed like ages. Buffy and Dawn doing their sisterly fussing. Tara and Willow talking and not fighting. They still weren’t doing any cuddling or even dancing but they were at least working things out, it looked like.
The Bronze had been nearly empty since it was Tuesday, and finally they had ended up taking the girls home before finally going home themselves. It was still early, but the clouds were clearing up and Xander could actually see a few stars in the sky.
He and Spike had played pool when not talking to the girls or frightening guys away from Dawn, something the teenager was furious about, but most of them were chicken hawks. Buffy would try to scare them but, unless she gave her slayerness away, her physical presence didn’t do it. However, Spike playing with a knife while talking about dangly bits and Xander folding his arms and doing his best glower did seem to scare most idiots away, and if Buffy saw Spike sucker punch that one she wasn’t saying.
The best part about the night, other than seeing Spike’s ass as he bent over to make a shot at pool, was that for the first time since Buffy’s birthday the year before they were all together, just hanging out. Getting to know each other again.
He’d gone off into a corner with Willow and Buffy and just talked, told them how worried he was for them and upset with himself that he couldn’t fix it. By the time he’d rejoined Spike he had to brush away a few tears and his ribs had been tested by slayer strength hugs once again. There was still a lot of work to be done to fix their relationships, but it was a start.
Xander smiled as he rode up in the elevator. He was holding hands with his lover, the same lover both Willow and Buffy had threatened in a friendly kind of way. Then the funny part happened and Tara threatened him if he ever hurt Spike’s feelings. His vampire had looked very cute when flustered like that, he’d have to try to do it himself sometime.
They reached the apartment and Xander went inside to change into some comfortable clothes. Spike piled up on the couch with the remote and immediately started flipping through channels.
“What is that you’ve been humming all night, Xan? It’s getting stuck in my bloody head, you’ve been singing it so much.”
Xander pulled on an old green tee shirt and a pair of cut-off sweat pants and went to sit by Spike on the couch. “What song? I haven’t been humming any song, have I?”
“You have too! It’s under your breath so the others couldn’t hear it but I can and it’s going round and round.” Spike hummed a few bars and Xander couldn’t help the blush that spread across his face.
“It’s an old 80’s song, it used to be one of my favorites and I guess I’ve been thinking about it. I need an everlasting love, I need a friend and a lover divine. An everlasting precious love, wait for it, wait for it, give it some time.” Xander blushed even harder at the Look Spike was giving him. “I guess, well, that’s kind of what I was hoping for, for us, friends and lovers. And…”
Spike stopped him with another one of those toe-curling kisses, nibbling on his lips before dipping his tongue into Xander’s mouth, mapping out all the sensitive places inside. One of Xander’s hands found it’s way into Spike’s hair, loosening the curls from their stiff confines as the other hand found it’s way to the back of Spike’s waist band and just felt the muscles that moved in his back.
Finally Spike pulled away, leaving Xander breathless. Spike looked almost like he needed to breath too, and Xander could see gold glints starting to form in those blue depths, even by the light of the television.
“C’mon pet, we’ll see just how good two friends can be as lovers, eh?”
Spike stood up and, before Xander could say another word, his lover was pulling him into the bedroom. “What is it with you pulling me everywhere? And you left the TV on!”
“Fuck the telly, Xan, and I’m not pulling you anywhere you don’t want to go.”
“Don’t fuck the TV, fuck me. And just because I want you to fuck me doesn’t mean you have to haul me around.”
“Just thought it was time to do that frisking I promised, luv. Now, hands against the wall and spread ‘em.”
Unnoticed by either of them, the television droned on in the living room.
And in local news today authorities arrested three local men who reportedly were engaged in terrorist activities. No word on their identities as of yet, but officials did confirm the presence of several unusual devices, including some possible bomb making materials, and they were apprehended during investigation of a drain on the local power grid. The alleged suspects will be going before the Magistrate’s Office in the morning, but it is possible that their case will be moved to the Federal Courts.
In other news it looks like the weather is finally clearing up. When we return from our commercial break Jim will be telling us all about the sunny spring weather we can look forward to for the rest of this week.
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