Spike hated witches.
Not because they were bad or anything. Just, you know, because they were so easily pissed off. And Spike very easily pissed off most people.
So him and witches? Not a great combination.
How was he supposed to know that she was a romantic, lover of the olden days? How was he supposed to know that her wart and hairs were real? He thought she’d been dressed up for Halloween.
But noooo. She’d gotten all pissy about it, telling him that he was ‘doomed’ to be in this form until he had ‘true love’s first kiss’. Well, wasn’t that swell.
Who the hell was going to kiss a cat?
He hissed at a nearby dog, making it turn tail and run. Spike flicked his tail in annoyance, wondering when this horrible day was going to end.
First had been the Scoobies, and hadn’t THEY been a pleasure to deal with. Buffy had been moaning about something, Willow had been wrapped up with Tara, Dawn had been pissed about something at school, Giles had been lost in inventory and books, Anya had been helping him, and Xander had been…well, Xander. Annoying. Hateful. Spiteful. And suspicious, on top of that. He hadn’t stopped staring at Anya and Giles the entire time they were there.
“Worried that your girl’s found someone better?” Spike had sneered.
Xander had whipped around, rage and hatred in his eyes. “Just because you can’t keep a girlfriend, don’t assume that the rest of us can’t.”
Spike had snarled at him, spitting out, “If she’s lookin’ at the Watcher, the better for her. You’re a pathetic human that couldn’t love anyone, couldn’t care ‘bout anyone except himself. Hope your bird DOES come to her senses and start shaggin’ Rupert.”
Xander’s face had turned red, whether in rage or humiliation, Spike hadn’t been sure. He’d left a little after that, a few minutes later, had found himself in feline form.
Dammit. Now he was going to need the Scoob’s help to get him back to his normal form.
“What are you doing out here?”
Spike gave a silent groan and glanced up at who had found him first: Xander. The human was kneeling in front of him, giving a soft smile. “Are you lost?” he asked. “Because seriously, the cemetery is not a good place to hunt. There’s bigger predators than you out here.”
Spike fought the urge to roll his eyes. He was sorely tempted to talk to Xander and freak him out, but he wasn’t really sure if he could talk at all yet, and hearing meows instead of words wasn’t going to help his mood any.
“You don’t look like you have a tag,” Xander mumbled to himself, leaning forward. Spike hissed, feeling the hairs on his back stand on edge, and Xander slowly backed away.
“Easy, little guy. I’m not going to hurt you.” Xander frowned, staring at him. “When’s the last time you had anything to eat? You’re looking a little on the starved side.”
Spike growled, the rumble growing from the depths of his throat. He didn’t need to be coddled, especially by Harris. This was bad. This was very bad.
Xander was still talking. “…you somewhere warm and dry, and talk to the pound, see if anyone’s missing a cat.” He reached over, gently picking Spike up. Spike hissed and began clawing at Xander’s hands.
“Ow!” Xander exclaimed, but didn’t let go of Spike. “Easy, little one. I’m not going to hurt you, okay? I promise. We’re gonna get you some food and somewhere warm to sleep until we find out who you do belong to, okay?”
Spike continued to fight him, knowing that eventually, Xander would let go and throw him somewhere else to tend to his hand. He was impressed that Xander had held on for this long.
He kept fighting until he realized they were at Xander’s apartment building. Xander just kept murmuring soft words in an attempt to soothe him. They finally wound up inside, with Spike still in Xander’s clutches.
For good measure, Spike sank his claws into Xander’s hand. Deep. Xander flinched, but surprisingly, didn’t tighten his grip on Spike. Once the door was shut, Xander gently lowered him to the ground. Spike took off like a shot, trying to find any way to escape.
The windows were closed. The door out to the patio was locked and shut. There was no way out.
“I’ve got something for you,” Xander called from the kitchen. He came out a few minutes later, with a little paper plate and bowl of something. On the plate was some compacted meat, and the bowl held water. “I’m out of milk, but I think that’s bad for adult cats anyways,” he commented, setting the things down on the floor. Spike sniffed, immediately recognizing the meat as tuna.
“Eat up, little guy,” Xander said with a smile, and Spike desperately wanted to sink his claws and teeth into Xander’s leg. ‘Little guy’ indeed. And the bastard was smiling.
Xander headed out then, and Spike was tempted to spread the tuna and water all over the place. That was until his stomach caught up with his brain. He began munching, warily sniffing for any types of poison.
Why would Xander poison it? He didn’t know that it was Spike. Just a stray cat that clawed the living hell out of his arm.
Wondering what Xander was up to now, Spike headed and followed Xander’s scent, which led him into the bathroom. He glanced inside, really hating how much bigger everything was.
Xander was sitting on the floor, putting antiseptic on his hand. He flinched a few times, then began bandaging it up. His First Aid kit was looking a little on the low side. Well used, Spike could tell that.
Xander glanced up, and Spike was surprised when he smiled again. “Feeling any better?” he asked. “I’ve got some more, if you’re still hungry. I’ll head out tomorrow and get something like catnip or something. Plain old tuna’s gonna get boring after awhile.”
He didn’t seem at all mad about the scratches. Weird. Spike turned his tail and sauntered away, thankful that cats could really give that air of disgust.
The next day, Xander headed out for work, still giving Spike smiles that made Spike want to hurt him. Badly. He had to settle for clawing the sofa while Xander was gone.
When Xander came back, he only raised his eyebrow, shook his head slightly, then headed into the kitchen. A few minutes later, he returned with a plate of food and another bowl of water. “I asked a couple of friends on site, and they told me this was the best thing for you,” he said, daring to reach out and lightly scratch Spike’s head before turning away.
Spike hissed after him, then sat down and munched. It really was pretty good stuff, and he immediately closed his mind as to what exactly he was eating. It tasted good, was probably good for him, so he was set.
A few moments later, as he was licking up some water, Xander came hurrying in, running for the closet. Spike warily watched him, blinking when he pulled out an axe and headed for the door.
The human paused, glancing back at Spike. “I’ll be right back,” he said with a small smile. “Just, you know, gotta slay them pesky demons. There should be enough water left in there for you.” Then he was gone, leaving Spike staring at the door, desperately wishing he could go and slay ‘them pesky demons’. He’d thought being a chipped, neutered vampire was bad, but this?
Spike hopped up onto the sofa, curling up and feeling extremely sorry for himself. He started thinking of who could give him that ‘first kiss’. It had to be ‘true love’, but what exactly did that qualify as? A past lover? A lover he never stopped thinking about? Someone that secretly loved and cared about him?
“Never gonna find someone like that, since Dru’s gone,” he muttered, then froze. That had been his voice he’d heard. Not in his mind, but out in the room. He could talk. He could talk!
“Well, then,” Spike said, slowly grinning. “This doesn’t suck too much.”
When Xander came home, it was to the smell of Chinese food. He blinked, staring at the various cartons around the floor. The cat was curled up between them all, looking very satisfied and well-fed.
Xander shook himself, hanging his jacket in the closet, wincing as the movement tugged at his abused shoulder. He should have a disclaimer for the demons: Xander was not a throw-toy.
Well, he wouldn’t have been a throw-toy if Spike had bothered to show up. Where the hell had the annoying vampire been? They’d even gone by his crypt, and not seen any sign of him. His duster had been hung over the chair, but everything else had disappeared. Including the vampire himself.
Xander turned back to the cat, who was regarding him with suspicion again. Poor thing; he had probably been hurt and abused by someone else. At least he wasn’t looking so thin anymore.
“Feeling any better?” he asked the cat, placing the axe back in the closet. He cringed as he moved, feeling the ripped shoulder scream in pain.
He blinked a few times, clenching his fists and desperately tried to will the pain away. He didn’t realize just how much the Scoobies needed Spike. Willow would’ve been dead if Xander hadn’t shoved her out of the way, and Buffy had taken twice as long to take it down.
He’d called Buffy to ask her about cats, and instead had gotten a panicked request for him to hurry and help them. He’d hated to leave the little cat by himself, but he didn’t seem to like Xander anyways. And hey, at least he’d found the Chinese food in the refrigerator.
Had Xander even had any Chinese leftovers in the fridge?
He began moving towards the bedroom, stopping when the phone rang. He really didn’t feel like talking to anyone. He’d let the machine pick it up.
After several rings, the machine kicked in. The message was played, and a tiny beep was heard. Then Anya’s voice came through. “Xander? It’s me, Anya. I really don’t know how to go about saying this, because I actually don’t want to hurt you, as strange as that may sound coming from an ex-vengeance demon. But we’re…not together anymore. I think you knew that much, but I wanted to let you know that I’m with Giles, and I’m happy.”
Xander just stood where he was, staring at the phone.
“I…um…well, you know me. I’m not good at talking like this, but it’s not you. Giles said you might feel like it was, and it makes sense. I could see you thinking that it’s your fault; you really think you’re unlovable, but you’re not! It’s just not me that should be doing the loving. We had a lot of fun together, Xander, and I’m not going to forget any of that. So thank you for all those times. I’ll, uh, see you at the Magic Box tomorrow.”
The click of the phone cutting off rang in his ears. He blinked several times, then sighed, trudging for the bedroom. “Guess Spike was right,” he muttered, closing the door behind him.
He was a pathetic human, and even though Anya had told him that it wasn’t him, that he wasn’t ‘unlovable’, it still felt that way. That he hadn’t been enough for her.
He really didn’t seem to be enough for anyone. Couldn’t help Buffy slay a demon, couldn’t save Willow without getting hurt…
He was beyond pathetic.
Spike stared at the closed door in surprise. He’d never really expected Xander to truly believe his words, but it appeared like he did. Dammit.
For the first time in a long time, Spike truly felt sorry for Xander. What a mess. He’d suspected that Anya was flirting and having a good time with Giles, but she’d had Xander to come home to, the heart of the Scoobies, someone who loved and adored her.
To anyone else, it was simply a difference of interests. Anya just wanted to try something else, and it really wasn’t Xander. It was just her own whims she was following.
But Spike knew Xander wouldn’t see it like that. Xander would see himself as the one to blame, the one that was second best to everyone. Spike’s words from the other day probably didn’t help any.
Well, they hadn’t been true, Spike knew that much now. Xander had taken in a stupid cat, for crying out loud, one that could’ve been loaded with diseases. One that had clawed him and made him literally bleed.
And what did he do for that cat? Be gentle with him, kind, caring, giving, taking care of him, feeding him, even giving him his softest sweater to sleep on.
Xander had more feeling in his baby finger then most people did in their entire bodies.
If he could’ve changed back into his normal body, he would’ve taken Xander out for a beer and a game of pool and let him win. Something to make Xander believe that he was truly important to someone.
He headed for the door, and found it mostly closed, a tiny crack revealing the darkened room. Spike nudged it open and headed inside.
Xander was sitting on the side of the bed, a picture frame in his hands. His head was bowed, and he looked miserable.
Spike paused for a moment, staring up at the human. He wasn’t cursing Anya out, didn’t appear to be blaming her or hating her in the slightest. Just…saddened by what he’d lost, and the reason he thought he’d lost it.
Xander glanced up and saw him there. He gave a small smile, setting the picture down on the nearby nightstand. It was a picture of him with Anya, big smiles on both their faces. “Did you need anything, little one?” he asked. “You probably could use some more water, huh?”
Hurting and probably feeling rejected, Xander was still thinking about a cat first. Spike jumped onto the bed, pausing next to Xander. He leaned over then, rubbing his head against Xander’s side and purring. Anything to make that damn sad smile go away.
Xander didn’t do anything for a few moments, then he reached over, gently running his fingers from Spike’s head down his back. It actually felt pretty good, and Spike found himself purring even more.
“Wasn’t expecting this,” Xander said softly. “Was pretty sure you hated me too.”
Too? What was the ‘too’ for? Who else hated Xander? How could anyone hate him? Maybe it was the purring. Maybe it was the petting and the soft lulling voice.
Whatever it was, Spike found himself enjoying Xander’s company for the first time in a long time.
The two of them sat there for awhile, just lightly soothing the other.
Over the next couple of days, Xander would leave and come back with something from a take-out place, like pizza, buffalo wings, or Chinese. He’d make sure the pieces were small enough, then he’d lay the plate down for Spike. Then Spike would have the hard part: eating it, of course. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
Xander went out to the Magic Box and came back with a small, sad smile on his face, later explaining to Spike that he and Anya had talked about things, and Anya really was happy with Giles.
No mention if Xander was happy or not: just that Anya was happy. Spike had spent the next two hours curled up on Xander’s lap, trying to soothe the human.
There was still no mention of Spike. It just seemed like no one cared that he’d up and disappeared, which did no wonders to Spike’s self-esteem. No one had probably even gone around to his crypt to see if he was dust or not.
He moped around all day, barely touching his food whenever those thoughts came around. They were probably happy that he was gone. They were probably ecstatic that they didn’t have to deal with Spike anymore.
When Xander brought home pizza, Spike didn’t even touch it. He simply headed into the living room and curled up in one of the corners. Maybe it was better that he was a cat. Then no one had to deal with him.
A soft rustling sound in front of him, and Spike glanced up into Xander’s concerned gaze. “What’s up, little one?” he asked softly. He was laying on his stomach, propping his head up on his hands.
“You didn’t even touch any of that meat-lover’s, and I know you love picking the sausage off and eating just that. What’s going on?”
Spike just laid his head back down. He didn’t really want to have to deal with Xander right now. Or anyone. Then they wouldn’t have to deal with him.
There was a pause, then Xander was lifting himself and Spike up, cradling Spike’s little cat form against his chest. “It’ll be okay,” he murmured. “Whatever it is, it’ll be okay. I promise.”
Xander slowly rose to his feet, settling down on the sofa, resting Spike in his lap. He began stroking Spike’s fur. “Guess we’re both worried about something,” Xander said softly. “I’m…well, technically, we’re looking for someone. He disappeared a few days ago, and we still haven’t been able to find him.”
Spike froze, glancing up at Xander, who looked…genuinely upset? “He’s a vampire, and his name’s Spike,” Xander continued. “And generally, a huge pain in the ass.”
Spike rolled his eyes. Yeah, love you too, Harris.
“But he’s really become a part of the team. He makes Dawn laugh, Willow smile, and Tara blush. He helps Giles out with the shop, and talks to Anya about demon days. He helps Buffy train, which in turn has really helped her abilities. And I…”
Xander paused, and Spike looked up, wondering what he’d say.
“I’m the one he hates,” Xander finished softly. “We’ve almost been friends a few times, but then one of us usually opens our mouth, the other takes offense, and we’re back to each other’s throats.
“The other night, the last time I saw him, I wasn’t at my best. I knew that Anya wasn’t with me anymore; I mean, her and Giles were so obvious. But I just didn’t want to admit that she didn’t want me anymore, you know? And then Spike, of course, had to pick up on it, and as always, comment. The worst part of it was, everything he told me that night was true.”
Spike leaned forward, rubbing his head against Xander’s chest. No, it’s NOT! Spike yelled in his mind. I was the one that was wrong, Xan. Not you.
“But I said stuff too, and I just wish that…that I hadn’t. Because I didn’t want the last thing I said to him to be that. He didn’t deserve that. If I’d had the chance to really tell him how I felt, I would’ve told him that I admire him, think he’s awesome, that he’s really…likeable. And sweet when he wants to be. And generally, a great guy. That still hates me,” Xander added. “But, you know, just to let him know that I liked him. Probably a little more than I should’ve,” he muttered under his breath.
But Spike heard him. Slowly his gaze turned upwards, where Xander was indeed sporting a tiny little blush. Xander had a crush on him.
That took awhile to process, so he stayed on Xander’s lap, mentally going over his words over and over...
…And over, and over, and over...
…over, over, over, over…
Two days later, Spike had finally come to a few conclusions.
One was that Xander, on a whole, was a very nice guy himself. He was sweet when he wanted to be, kind and generous, and generally, a pain in the ass. But he was a likeable pain in the ass.
The second was that Xander was beyond likeable. Spike could very easily see himself kissing Xander. Holding Xander. Staying with Xander every night.
He really, truly, did like Xander.
Just how much? He really wasn’t sure how far that ‘liking’ went.
He’d just work it out over the next couple of days. That was all. He apparently had plenty of time; the witch hadn’t set a deadline on his form.
When Xander was a few minutes late after work, Spike was still eating the last of the cold pizza. When Xander was an hour late after work, Spike started glancing at the clock.
When Xander was three hours late, should’ve been home from work too long ago, Spike started pacing. Maybe he should call the Slayer. Ask her if she’d seen…
The front door opened, and Xander stumbled inside. Spike hurried over to greet him, then froze at the smell of blood. Too much blood.
Xander was quickly shutting the door behind him, gasping for breath. He headed into the kitchen, grabbing the phone with trembling hands and dialing. A few moments later, he began talking. “Buffy, there’s a nest of demons in the cemetery, Spike’s cemetery. They’re too close to the main entrance, and someone walking by’s gonna get hurt. Yeah. Um, I’m actually a little busy with my work right now, but you can handle them. Just three demons from where I can see. Yeah. Good luck.”
He hung up, glanced over at Spike’s bowl, which still had a good amount of water in it, and headed for the bedroom. He stumbled, and grabbed the couch for support, panting heavily.
His entire left pant leg had been shredded, as had the leg underneath the pants. There were claw marks on his face, and a nice gash on his forehead that was steadily oozing blood. He was pale and shaking, and Spike couldn’t even see how much damage his torso had taken.
His leg gave out underneath him, and he crumpled to the floor, curling up and closing his eyes. Spike hurried over, taking in the extensive damage. Seemed like someone had already had fun with the three demons near the entrance way. He knew who had been the ‘someone’ walking by the entrance.
And he couldn’t help. At all. His paws were too tiny, and he was a stupid cat, probably wouldn’t even be able to reach the phone now to call for help (he’d only gotten it down to call for Chinese out of luck) or be able to reach the First Aid kit.
Xander opened his eyes, and Spike could tell he was on the verge of unconsciousness. “Hey, little one,” he croaked, reaching out to gently stroke Spike’s head. Spike purred, his worry reaching new volumes. There had to be something he could do.
He needed his human hands. He needed some way to help Xander.
“I’ll be…b-be fine,” Xander murmured, slowly closing his eyes.
“No, dammit, stay with me!” Spike yelled, leaning forward and nuzzling Xander’s face with his head. He didn’t care if he was talking anymore. If it kept Xander with him, then he’d do a bloody loop-the-loop.
But Xander was already slipping out of it. “C’mon Xan, stay with me,” he pleaded, gently reaching up with his paw to touch Xander’s pale cheek. “Need you, Xander. Please, just…just stay with me…” He leaned forward, gently pressing his mouth to Xander’s lips.
Just stay with me…
When Spike blinked, the world looked a lot smaller. Normal. He glanced around, immediately noticing his human hands, black t-shirt, black jeans, very human legs. “About time,” he muttered, turning back to Xander.
Who didn’t even look like he was breathing anymore. Spike touched his neck, reassuring himself that yes, Xander still had a pulse, then hurried into the bathroom for the First Aid kit, praying it was stocked enough to deal with this.
It was, for once. He slid back down in front of Xander, pulling out various bandages, hearing Xander’s heart beating now that his vampire senses had returned to him. He’d be fine. Xander would be fine now.
He gently reached around, pulling Xander into his arms, slightly settling him on his lap. Now that everything had been dealt with, he could just hold Xander. Because…because he really needed to hold Xander, dammit!
He didn’t even realize what the implications of his turning back meant until three hours later, when he was still holding Xander.
True love’s first kiss. Well, that had definitely been a first kiss that he and Xander had had. But…but true love? Seriously?
He glanced down at the mess and tangle of brown hair, and couldn’t help but smile. This might just work.
Then Xander opened his eyes, and they widened slightly upon seeing Spike. “Where have you been?” he asked, his voice sounding scratchy.
“Decided to piss off a witch and spend a few days as a feline,” Spike said, raising his eyebrows.
It took Xander only a few seconds to get it. “You mean you were…?”
“Did you understand everything I said?”
“Did you…” Xander paled slightly.
Spike smiled and nodded. “You’re smiling,” Xander said, sounding and looking bewildered. “You heard what I said about you, and you’re still smiling.”
“You know, I believe I am,” Spike said after pretending to ponder it for a moment.
If anything, Xander looked even more bewildered. “But…”
Then Spike was kissing him, gently at first, then harder and more insistent. Xander wasn't pushing him away, was in fact holding onto the back of Spike’s neck, pulling him down for a tongue duel and a lip bruising…
“That was even better then I’d thought it would be,” Xander murmured when they parted.
“Me either,” Spike agreed, but his mouth was still a little numb and out of it. It came out sounding much more like ‘meow’. He froze, eyes widening in horror.
Xander’s laughter rang throughout the apartment.
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