Fandom: BtVS/Firefly
Pairing: Spike/Xander, mentions of FF characters
Rating: R
Word Count: Um . . . look over there!
Notes/Warnings: Spoilers for Serenity.
Summary: Written for [info]darkhavens's prompt, I'd like to claim a snippet of Out of The Blue, because Spike and Xander on Serenity never gets old.. Let's hope not. Partially inspired by this song.



If It Doesn't Remind Me


by
Beetle


Even though he's standing at the crest of a hill that's all weeds and mud, with an excellent view for miles around, in this moment, Spike simply can't believe what he's seeing.

Then, his vague and incomplete memory of a migraine pops up.

“Wo de-bloody-sodding-ma, pet--no playing in the mud!”

Xander looks up from deep contemplation of the mud puddles he's kneeling in, and swatting at with both hands, a daft, delighted grin on his face. That grin—usually accompanied by a hyena sort of laugh Spike's never liked—only sprouts more manic delight, and more teeth as Spike stares.

(He supposes he can only count them both as lucky that Xander's managed not to go into gameface in public for so long before this. It seems he remembers everything except the particulars that make their tenuous existence run relatively smoothly.)

“Spike, this mud is so powerful! This is the first place I've felt it, felt that tingle in my fingers and toes since . . . fuck, since we left Earth. It's like being home,” he says softly, then smiles. He's a lovely, melancholy monster, thigh deep in a mud puddle, and Spike's life is a mess. A perfect, beautiful mess. “I wish you'd let yourself remember it.”

Stepping right over the negligible matter of what he will or won't allow himself to remember, Spike snorts. “Powerful mud? Right. You're such pretty fang zong feng kuang de jie, aren't you?!” A cruelish, unfair-like sort of thing to say, and Spike doesn't exactly mean it. Xander knows he doesn't, and that's more than enough to make Spike feel . . . guilty-ish.

He will never again know Xander as well as Xander knows him. And probably never love Xander as well as Xander loves him. That love is the only thing Spike can't do without, wouldn't sell, barter, or auction away, and he's done worse than kill to keep it. Though he likely needn't have bothered. Xander's heart is as steady as his long memory.

Sort of the story of their lives. Even if Spike can't remember the half of it.

Such bright thoughts on such an overcast day, he thinks, watching Xander sift through handfuls of mud as if searching for gold. Right on cue, the sky opens up above them, plastering Xander's now ruined lightweight brown tweed suit to him in seconds, and doing the same to Spike's off-white linen.

Needless to say, their fine silk cravats, shirts, and waistcoats are fit only for the trash heap.

Spike takes off his yellow-tinted glasses and folds them. Puts them in his soggy right breast pocket. Behind him, down the other side of the hill, the Arrivals Depot is mostly empty, but for a few transports loading supplies. Crew-members grunt and curse, but more out of habit, than anything. Even Spike can barely hear them over the steady beats of their own hearts and the coursing of their blood.

He's hungry. Has been for weeks and weeks, ever since that bloody, gorramn girl. . . .

In any direction, the only paved places to be seen are the landing pads, and the narrow, lonely road that leads off to New Leicester in one direction, and Abney Park Junction (a pretty name for a squalid little mining town that always smells of mud and metals, desperation and depression). All else is muddy cart-tracks and weedy hummocks, with a few stunted, hardy trees to break up the monotony.

All in shades of tan, dark brown, and a rather vomitous green-purple.

He hates Dyton—bloody hates it. Hates that he's been reduced to it by circumstances he should've controlled better, and Xander has to reduced with him.

“I bloody hate Dyton,” Spike growls, not for the first time. But then, this isn't the first time he's been here. The other times, thankfully, were briefer than this stay looks to be, and were only for the maintaining of his business, not the rebuilding of it. Though that last time, he'd left with more than he'd bargained for, in the form of a ratty, teenaged thief who'd tried to kill Spike more than once.

Xander, of course, had thought the little bastard was darling—and he would, since he was never on the receiving end of pulse pistols, poison, knives, or large, falling objects, whatever the hellish foster child came up with—and mothered the boy shamelessly. Spoiled him rotten, and even went so far as to fund (without promise of repayment, in writing) his own tiny business on Persephone. A business that has grown rapidly enough that, before that bad bit of luck on Londinium, it'd begun to Rival Spike's.

Now . . . Spike's got no business to be rivaled. Is practically a pauper . . .

Lord, but he hates the whole bloody Rim, with the exception of Beaumonde and Persephone. Though there is good crime to be done on and with regards to Greenleaf—and even Dyton's got a few places where the graft-and-grift's comfortably profitable--it's only out on the Rim that Xander resembles himself less, and some nature-happy lunatic more. To the point that Spike used to forbid Xander from setting so much as a foot off their ship, when business took them beyond the Borderworlds.

It's a bloody curse, this being right all the time, Spike thinks sardonically, as Xander's trousers and the sleeves of his overcoat get muddier and muddier.

Not that any of that or this is Xander's fault. It was Spike who decided that damned brat wanted taking down a peg, and so took risks both common sense and Xander warned him against. It was Spike's eventual bungling of his business and its growth that got them kicked out of Londinium's very polite society. Spike's fault—and, on a side-note, the brat's for recommending that floating piece of fei wu Firefly, piloted by that bloody awful girl—that they wound up on one of the few planets where his reputation wouldn't have arrived before he did.

(At least according to that thieving lowlife. Xander's precious little darling, his Badger.)

Spike's fault that Xander's going even more . . . bu tai zheng chang. A state which only grows faster out on the Rim, but is no longer halted and contained by sumptuous rooms of a townhouse near the Museum of Art, or the gardens of the country home on Colchester--

Xander bloody loved our gardens. Used to spend whole nights out there, telling the sodding plants, and even that sodding little Badger stories about Earth-that-was. . . .

--Spike's fault, all of it, yes, but Xander doesn't seem to care. And except for his unusually urgent insistence that they get far away from the Firefly and its pilot, he hasn't mentioned any of it once, simply goes wherever Spike decides is best.

Even if that place is Dyton . . . and even if their transport is going on two hours late, and they could easily buy a ride on any of those transports, to . . . anywhere but here.

But no.

There're no sure things on or about the Rim. But Badger's been as good as his word. Better, actually, about keeping them safe and out of sight. Not as any favor to Spike, but because of Xander. If that horrid little psychopath is capable of love or anything like it, he feels the payload, such as it is, for his foster parent.

Who's really peering into that mud raptly, wet hair screening his face.

Spike looks up at the omnipresent cloud-cover that passes as sky. Even through that mess of rain and murk, he can see and sense the great, green ball that is Greenleaf, of which Dyton's a mere satellite. A mere second chance, and likely the last one.

He certainly can't afford to screw it up, anyway.

After covering his face with his hands for a second, he starts carefully down the steep, slippery hill to, if need be, drag the love of his life out of the mud. Mud that Xander's now gleefully rubbing into his clothes, and bringing a double handful of up to his face. He's absolutely fucking kuang zhe de, and Spike wouldn't change him for anything. “Lao tian ye--could you at least refrain from giving yourself a bloody facial with that muck?”

Sighing, Xander drops the mud and looks up at him. His gameface is, as always, inscrutable. “Only if you stop brooding, Mr. Broody.”

(Spike doesn't care which of them's older, but most days, he's certain it isn't Xander.)

“You dragged us off that bloody scow—which your darling, little badger-face paid good money to get us on, too—because some chit of a pilot knew what we are! If I'm brooding, I'd say I've got a bloody good reason to—especially since you haven't bothered to explain why!” He stops at the foot of the hill, his boots half in and half out of the morass of weeds and runny earth. They're waterproof, but still, no sense courting any more trouble.

Xander's filthy hands settle in his lap, and he looks worried. Or maybe just tired. “Spike, I told you why--”

“No, you just said the same thing she said: slayer. What in sodding hell does that even mean? We should've eaten her, and spaced the body! That Reynolds bloke, or his lieutenant could've piloted long enough to get us here before the rainy season. And even if they couldn't, you could have! There was no reason to do a runner—none, whatsoever!” There really wasn't, but what really galls Spike is her face. That self-confident, cool look that not only said she knew what they were, but that she could, if necessary, take them on. That made Spike feel as if he couldn't keep or protect his own, and even now haunts the scant sleep he bothers to take, calling him a failure in those hushed, little-girl tones.

He's forgotten a lot of things—a defense mechanism, Xander calls it, which is chui niu, since forgetting never did anyone a lick of good as regards self-defense . . . though Xander remembers everything, and that's done him no good, either—but he will never, ever forget her face.

If he makes it to the day space-time ends, his second to last thought will be that he found his one and only nightmare in the eyes of a teenage girl. Oh, yes. Yes, he will remember Xander, and he will remember her, no matter what else he forgets. Because no human could--

“She's not human. Not entirely. Not anymore,” Xander says, smiling a little. He's not in gameface anymore, and his dark eyes have that ancient, abyssal look they get sometimes.

Spike's certain Xander's got some kind of short-range telepathy, but Xander doesn't even seem to notice he's doing it. One of many things he simply doesn't notice. “She's . . . not exactly a slayer, but she's the closest we'll hopefully ever see again.”

“For the last time, pet, what's a slayer? Some Earth-that-was fei hua?” Spike demands, helplessly intrigued and drifting closer. Into the mire, and closer and closer, until he can run his fingers through Xander's thick, wet hair. Xander grins, and goes back to peering in the muddy depression. Blunt, long fingers disturb the surface lightly, tracing patterns that mean nothing to Spike's eyes.

“The slayer is . . . the one girl in all the world, who can stop the demons, and vampires. And other things. Horrible things that make you and I look like cherubs, in comparison. The slayer alone has the power to defeat the darkness, and--”

“Wait—the one girl on what world? And—oi, is this something from one of those old movies you like . . . what is it—Trek Wars? The one with all the muppets, and that bint with the scones on her head?”

Which apparently isn't the right thing to say, since Xander capital-G glares up at him, angry gold swimming in the depths of his eyes. “Why do you ask, when you don't want to know? Then take it out on me because the answer's not something you're ready to accept?”

“Maybe because I'm waiting for you to give me a simple answer that makes sense!” Spike snaps, and realizes it's true. Despite the proof otherwise, he simply doesn't believe in good and evil, magic and spells, powerful mud and superheroines. He doesn't believe in anything except what he and Xander feel for each other—doesn't need to believe in anything but that.

Doesn't need to be reminded of bugger-all when it comes to a love that's defined his existence for further back than any but Xander'd care to remember.

Any other answers could be found in a lab, Spike's certain, were he scientifically minded. But he's not, and . . . Xander's right. There's no point baiting the person he loves into giving answers one can't accept.

Eventually, Xander sighs and leans his head against Spike's leg; but one hand still plays in the mud. “I love you, Spike. If I had any simple answers, I would give them to you. I would give you always and everything, if they were mine to give. I would lay contentment and understanding at your feet, and myself with them, in the hopes that I could still catch your eye. I'd--”

Bizui, yu ben de! I understand all I need to understand, and you are my contentment. Even though you're nuts. Huh, maybe because you're nuts.“

Hun dan.” But Xander seems pleased, nonetheless, looking up at him with wide eyes and smile despite the stinging raindrops. Spike tightens his grip, just to watch dark, too-old eyes flutter happily shut. “You're right. Seeing and remembering ain't what they're cracked up to be. But I gotta play the hand I was dealt. So trust me on this, the sooner we were off that ship, the better. She would've killed us and made it stick.”

Spike doubts that very much, but keeps it to himself. He lets go of Xander's hair to caress his wet, stubbled cheek. Wishes they could've shared that huge mountain of a merc between them. Or that pretty, chatty, brilliant Kaylee-girl. She would've died in ecstasy, and in love with them both. Might've even been worth turning, though Xander's adamant against Siring more vampires, and has been for centuries.

“When I looked at her, all I could see was an axe, dripping with blood. Reaver blood, hot and corrosive. I could feel it on me, eating through my skin and muscles. I could feel it in me, breaking down my veins and changing me, and then it stopped. I knew she stopped them.” Xander whispers, shuddering deeply and opening his eyes. He looks scared, something Spike's never seen in all his truncated memories. Xander has a true gameface, fearless and imperturbable. And the eyes of a man who fears no evil simply because he's done so much evil himself. “No power in the 'verse can stop River Tam, Spike. That's all she needs to know, and all we need to know about her. That, and to stay off her territory. We continue to exist at her sufferance, but that sufferance isn't infinite.”

As if the cryptic statements about slayers, Earth-that-was (which Spike, unlike Xander, has hazy, at best memories of) and the occasional fit of random, raving lunacy aren't enough, Xander suddenly flops down flat on his back, in the mud, and wallows.

“I'm not wallowing, Mr. Idol. I'm making mud angels. Come help me--the mud tingles, and sings on your skin. You'll love it.”

No, I won't, Mr. Tiberius, but I love you, Spike thinks, shaking his head, completely bemused and utterly lost. It has to be love or insanity that keeps him from being surprised at anything Xander does, no matter how odd. “Oh, bao bei, you're even barmier than advertized.”

“Only because you love me that way.” Xander mugs ridiculously—endearingly, despite the smear of mud on his forehead. He plants muddy hands on Spike's hips, then presses his face to Spike's crotch, biting and kissing playfully. “Make mud-angels with me, please? The rain'll wash us all clean, afterwards, like a baptism.”

Murmured in low sing-song against the erection Spike's suddenly getting. “Well. Since you're asking so accommodatin'-like. . . .” his fingers find their way into Xander's hair again, and Xander does that thing he learned—God knows where, but bless whomever taught him and may they have many fat babies—where he pulls down Spike's zipper with his teeth. Then he's nosing past the small-clothes Spike's never bothered to wear, and still hasn't.

Spike doesn't last long, and isn't meant to. Which is to say that when Xander's of a mind, he gives blow-jobs like a man who's had six hundred-plus years of practice. And after he comes, Spike does, indeed, flop down in the mud, panting for humid, oxygen-rich air that he craves, but doesn't need.

With a slow, parting lick, Xander slithers his way up Spike's body to kiss him, and nuzzle him. To somehow, almost magically (hah!) turn his cold, mud-slimy corpse into the most comfortable body pillow anyone could ever want. Lets Spike squirm and shift till he's pressed against and half on top of Xander.

A cursory feel shows that yes, Xander's come. Rain and mud aside, there's nothing more Spike needs to feel contented, and he understands that this is the way it'll always be. Everything else is just noise, and will take care of itself in time.

Like the bloody carriage. And the bloody townhouse in New Leicester. The feeds he'd been sent of it show it's a tall, narrow one, and not particularly nice-looking or loaded with mod-cons. There's a garden in the back, that's nothing but weeds and rubbish that'd take a miracle to get anything growing in. But if anyone could get something growing there. . . .

The people of New Leicester, he's been told, can be a bit upright and correct. The kind of people that'd do their best to reform, confine or expel a bright, badger-faced child who shows no interest in maintaining the status quo.

Spike doesn't know what such people'd make of Mssrs. Idol and Tiberius, but he feels, as always, ready for anything. Because for however long, he needs this place. It's secure and isolated, has an underground syndicate that's nominally trustworthy because it's littered with Badger's men--which makes it the one place he can keep Xander reasonably secure till he's adjusted enough to fend for himself.

Only then, can he or will he bother about rebuilding his business.

Xander's soft, unnecessary breaths on his neck have turned slow and even, and he has the kind of corpse-ish feel that means he's fallen asleep.

In Spike's arms, in the mud and rain.

Over the hill, another ship takes off with an annoying, high-pitched sort of drone. When he's awake, Xander can tell what kind of ship it is just by the sound of the engine. He says engines sing—sort of like mud, Spike supposes—and in many different keys. And every engine, in every ship has it's own keys, tones, cadences, pitches, etc. . . .

Spike'd think it was all rubbish, but that Xander's never once been wrong while displaying this talent.

It's magic, of a sort. Magic because it's Xander, not because of that bloody odd go se Xander taught himself to believe when it comes to explaining life, the 'verse, and everything. He sees the 'verse in infinite shades of grey, and every other color. Spike, not thunderingly desperate to know Why?, or even to get up out of this large mud puddle (which has squelched into some particularly unmentionable places) sees the 'verse in the vibrant, chaotic, primary colors from which it was made, and under which, one day, it will be unmade.

If only you could see this 'verse the way I do, bao bei, he thinks, holding Xander tighter, and watching a small, fast-looking ship—probably Hummingbird-class—lift off and disappear into the clouds. If only you could be, without everything reminding you of something from a past that's used up and dead. If only the present and future--our present and future were enough. If only I were. . . .

Spike closes his eyes for a moment.

Lets gameface melt away.

Then, cheerfully emptied with the ease of long, long practice, he lifts eyes that are now bluer than Dyton's sky will ever be, toward the heavens. Tries to remember what he'd been thinking about a moment ago, and can't. Finds that he doesn't want to remember, and stops trying.

So there he lays, Xander safely sleeping in his arms as he watches ships come and go . . . until the portly stationmaster huffs and puffs, and slips and slides down the hill to inform Mssrs. Idol and Tiberius that their carriage has finally arrived.




The End



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