Word count: 10,839
Disclaimer: Buffy and Angel are not mine!
This Song and Dance
He saw the world in color for the first time when he was five years-old and on the first day of kindergarten.
At the time he hadn't known how big a deal that was or even what it meant. One second the world was its usual boring black and white; and the next he was blinking at the chaos that had become his eyesight. A boy with...pale skin? It was hard to describe colors when you were five and had never seen them before. But sitting across from him at their little table was a boy and a girl. The boy was staring at him in shock while the girl was crying because she had broken one of her crayons.
He told the girl not to cry and handed her one of his crayons, the one that matched hers. The boy just kept staring at him and it made him blush. The girl smiled and said her name was Willow, the boy mumbled his own name...it was Jesse. He told them his name was Alexander...Jesse had made a face and given him a new name. Xander.
It felt right, perfect even, not to mention it was easier to say.
The three of them were friends by the end of that first week; and pretty much inseparable. Xander still didn't understand why meeting Jesse and locking eyes with him made his world change. He supposed it didn't really matter; maybe it was just something that happened when you started school, and maybe it didn't have anything to do with meeting Jesse.
But it actually did.
It wasn't until the fifth grade when Willow started to teach him and Jesse about soulmates and had chided them for not knowing. Not that he felt soulmates were important, not when they were still kids, and in the fifth grade. If soulmates were such a big deal, wouldn't the grownups have said something before now? Wouldn't his parents-- no scratch that; his parents wouldn't have told him.
Soulmates were a big thing, however, and even at ten years-old Willow had all these romantic ideas about them. She looked at him so hard, so intensely when she told him, and when he only blinked at her and shrugged she nearly cried. Apparently she'd been hoping he was hers...
They learned, from Willow when she wasn't quite so upset, that everyone saw only in black and white, which everyone knew, hello. But the day you met your soulmate and met their eyes for the first time, you start to see in color. He remembered asking her, “So does it happen like a little at a time?” She'd given him a funny look and shook her head. “No silly, everything is just in color all of a sudden. I guess I was hoping it would change...but it’s okay,” which in Willlow-speak meant she hadn't given up on him. Xander, however, had given Jesse a look, because if Xander could see in color because of Jesse, then that meant Jesse could see in color because of Xander...but Jesse looked away and wouldn't meet Xander's eyes.
So he waited until after school, but even on their walk home Jesse was quiet and wouldn't look at him. They had already walked Willow to her door and were almost to Jesse's house when Xander hadn't been able to take it anymore. “Jesse...you can see in color too right?” Jesse had only nodded. “Since the first day of kindergarten?” Another nod. Xander nodded back. “Okay. That's good.”
Jesse finally looked at him. “Why is that good?”
“You're my best friend...I'm glad it’s you.”
And that was that. Xander didn't mention it again and Jesse never said a word. They were only ten and romance was such an alien concept that Xander wasn't worried about it. There was plenty of time for grownup stuff when they were actually grownups.
When they started high school things changed for Xander, he started to have feelings. He didn't just want to be Jesse's best friend, he want to be more than friends, as Willow would put it. Not that he would necessarily make a move just yet, not while still living with his parents, or more specifically with his dad. They'd recently had a 'heart to heart' talk that involved threats of horrible, horrible things if Xander ever brought home a boyfriend. So no boyfriends until after he was out of the house; he could deal with that.
What he had trouble dealing with...understanding...was how Jesse changed. Why he changed. He started to practically stalk Cordelia. Wherever Queen C happened to be Jesse was lurking near her, complimenting her on her everything. It ticked Xander off and made him especially harsh to the girl whenever they quibbled and exchanged sassy barbs. That in turn made Jesse mad at him. He just didn't get it, didn't understand it...Jesse was his soulmate damn it. The freaking color vision proved it. Didn't that mean they were supposed to be together or something? Otherwise what was the point of soulmates?
About halfway into the first semester of freshman year Xander made his decision concerning Jesse and made his move. Harris house rules be damned. He'd do this, if it meant he got to be with Jesse.
So he got Jesse alone at his locker, Willow was elsewhere talking to a teacher about extra credit, not that his favorite genius needed extra credit. Jesse grinned at him and started babbling about how Cordelia looked that day, the clothes she was wearing, how her hair shined and Xander snapped when he really didn't mean too.
“Jesse man, she's not the one, she's not your soulmate.”
Jesse shut his mouth and stared into his locker at that, as if the jumbled mess inside held the answers of the universe, or at least to their lives. “I know.”
“So why? I'm right here man...you're my best friend.” Xander took a breath and let out the secret he'd been keeping. “And I love you.”
Jesse finally looked at him with brown eyes that were a shade darker than his own. “You're my best friend too Xan...but I like girls. I don't like guys.”
For a second he actually thought he heard his heart crack in two, but he didn't let the hurt show on his face. “Oh.” He hated how it all made sense, Jesse's interest in Cordelia, how he never wanted to talk about 'the thing'. Well didn't that just suck?
Something must have shown in his eyes, or on his face despite his efforts to hide what he was feeling, because Jesse tried to make things better with his words...but nothing could really fix this. “Besides Xander, no one has to marry their soulmate; you can find some really hot girl to be with. I know you like girls.”
Xander closed his eyes, to protect himself from Jesse's pleading gaze. “Not as much as I like you.” He opened his eyes, Jesse's were wide in shock, and he tried to smile. “Forget it. I hope you find what you're looking for Jesse.” And he'd walked away, what were you supposed to do or say when your soulmate didn't want you?
By the time Buffy had shown up in Sunnydale halfway through their sophomore year, Xander was an expert at repressing his feelings for Jesse and obsessing over pretty girls. If Jesse could deny the soulmate thing so could he, he'd be even better at it than Jesse. It’s not like he needed a soulmate, people went their entire lives without ever finding theirs. Xander could pretend; he was good at that.
And maybe he shouldn't have latched onto Buffy the moment he saw her, but she was so bright that she nearly shined in the morning light. She did take his breath away, and she was the first girl to do so, the first person besides Jesse to cause that tight feeling in his chest. So he latched on, it was better than hurting over Jesse.
But then everything changed, in the worst way possible, vampires and all sorts of monsters were real and Jesse was taken. The night Jesse got grabbed by Darla...he'd never been so scared. Up to that point anyway. There had been disbelief, denial, and panic. All the while he scrambled to stay alive and he would forever hate himself for not holding onto Jesse tighter. For letting go when another vampire hit him and Jesse slipped from his grasp and Darla dragged him away.
And when he woke up the next morning, with the world black and white once more he was in such denial. It wasn't possible was it? Jesse couldn't really have been dead. Right? After eleven years of seeing in color the world looked so dismal and hopeless in black and white and he hated it. Hated everything, but he was good at keeping things in.
That denial and hate was the real reason he'd followed Buffy into the tunnels. He needed to see Jesse's body with his own eyes. He needed proof that his best friend, that his other half, was really dead. When they found Jesse in the tunnels Xander had just accepted it, here was his proof. Jesse was alive, his eyes were just glitching.
The pain was so much worse when Jesse vamped out on them...because here...here was the real proof that his Jesse was gone. All that was left was this monster with no soul and his Jesse's face.
When Jesse fell on his stake that night Xander was numb. Jesse had been there in front of him, talking, mocking Xander. And then he stumbled and the dust cleared and Xander couldn't feel anything. Later he found himself at Willow's doorstep and confessed everything to her and swore her to secrecy. And even as she held him and let him cry himself to sleep on her bedroom floor she promised not to tell.
He didn't want anyone's pity. And people who lost their soulmates always got pity, in spades.
So time went on and years went by. He fell out of love with Buffy and in love with Cordelia. He had that stupid hormonal fluke with Willow...and then there had been Anya. Interesting and unique Anya who had seemed so perfect in his eyes; even when he could only see her in black and white. He had considered maybe dating a guy, but nixed the idea; there would never be anyone like Jesse. Even thinking about going down that path hurt too much.
Willow had hugged him so tightly the day she met Tara and simply whispered in his ear. “I can see Xan, and the world is so amazing.” He'd kissed her forehead and was happy for her.
“Does he like you back?”
She'd blushed and nodded. “She...she likes me back.”
He held her close and wished her the best.
Some days he thought maybe he should have gone ahead and married Anya, but it wasn't meant to be. Not the way he freaked out and left her at the alter...he just hated that he hurt her so much that she went back into the vengeance gig. He'd never meant to hurt her. Hell he'd left her to avoid hurting her...maybe it was a good thing he didn't have a soulmate anymore...if he could screw up a relationship this badly he didn't deserve a soulmate.
Then Spike tried to...hurt Buffy. God he couldn't even say the word rape. It was a subject that made him twitchy, not out of its own horribleness...but because he'd nearly done the same thing when he'd been possessed by the freaking hyena. Maybe Spike had been out of his mind...maybe he hadn't. Either way he could understand why Spike had run away, run away from Sunnydale when he'd come to his senses. Still...he almost wanted to hit the guy with a wrecking ball for putting that look in Buffy's eyes.
When Tara died...and he stopped Willow from destroying the world...he held her while she cried. Held her the way she had him after he'd lost Jesse. He knew her pain, and if he could protect her from it he would have. Losing your other half wasn't something he'd wish on anyone.
And then...Spike came back...lurking in the newly rebuilt Sunnydale high school, deep in the basement. Xander hadn't seen him yet, but Buffy had, and said he was crazy...bonkers even. Completely out of his mind. Xander didn't smile in front of her, but he was still feeling hostile toward Spike for what he'd almost done.
But then days later he met Nancy, brought her to Buffy's to get bandaged up while she told them about the monster that ate her dog. And then suddenly Spike was there, talking about helping them and Xander looked up, met Spike's eyes for just a second...and his world flooded with color again and left him gaping at the vampire.
It made absolutely no freaking sense. To be his soulmate Spike needed to have a soul and vampires don't...have...oh poop. Buffy had said Spike was LooneyToons in the school basement. What better way to drive a vamp nuts than to shove a soul inside him?
And as Spike stood there, looking at Buffy so intently, searching for something in her gaze Xander decided to ignore the whole soulmate thing once more. What else could he do? The soul that had been Jesse's was originally Spike's and now Spike had it back and was still in love with Buffy and still heterosexual to boot. God his life sucked
Having a soulmate was overrated anyway, so he kept quiet, there was no point. Spike didn't like him and he didn't like Spike. Spike wasn't Jesse and that was the end of it.
He treated Spike the way he always did, and hoped that Spike never commented on being able to see in color. The guy had probably been hoping Buffy was his soulmate, but when they'd run into each other in the school basement and there'd been no change in his vision...but then there had been when he showed up at the house. Spike would probably assume Nancy or Dawn was his soulmate, which gave him time to be in complete denial. Even Spike would never make a move on Dawn until she was older...and as long as he didn't hurt Nancy Xander didn't care if they dated. It wasn't any of his business.
Denial was a wonderful thing...except when Nancy had asked if there was anyone who hadn't slept together...and gosh darn it Spike's eyes met his and Xander looked away because no way was he going there. Denial. Denial was his new favorite life choice.
The next week when Willow came home...he hadn't been that happy in a long time. He could have really done without the magical mishap that kept them from seeing one another, but Willow had been nervous and he didn't fault her for the unintentional magic. It was just one more wonky bit of magic that happened around them. He could have also done without the glowing comment Spike made to Buffy. Oh. And Spike calling him Buffy's boy. He could have done without that.
They got Spike to lead them to the cave their demon of the week was hiding out in, saved Willow and got her back to the house safe and sound. A little ruffed up, but mostly intact. And two days later he finally got a moment alone with her while Dawn and Buffy were at the school, but only because he left the site during his lunch break, with no plans to go back that day. Being the boss had a few perks that he took advantage of now and then.
He came in with a vegetarian pizza, with all of Willow's favorite toppings and plopped on the bed beside her. Concentration and meditation broken she opened her eyes. “How's my favorite Willow?”
Her smile was weak, unsure. “Better now. This for me?”
“Well I plan to eat some of it, and as much as your meditation can help you heal you still need sustenance.” He grinned at her until her smile was a little brighter and they scarfed down the pizza and talked about Giles and England...up until she put her hand on his.
“You seem different.”
“Nah, same old Xander-shaped friend you've always had.”
“Xander.” Her voice took on that chiding tone she'd used since they were kids.
He shrugged. “It’s not anything I want to talk about.”
He groaned. “Wills. You're still recovering from everything...and still mourning Tara and I just...”
She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. “Tell me, what are best friends for after all?”
She always could get the truth out of him. “I can see again.”
Her green eyes widened and her jaw dropped. “Jesse was reincarnated? Oh wow...he must be a baby...or at least a little kid...I'm not sure if that's good or worse.”
“Its worse Wills...his soul just went back to the body it had before Jesse.”
“Spike has his soul back...and I can see in color again.”
“Oh goddess...Spike...is Jesse...Jesse was Spike.”
“They had the same soul anyway.”
“Isn't this a good thing? How can it be bad?”
“Because it’s Spike, but who knows. I'm not thinking about it.”
“Well okay...maybe you don't wanna think about it...but are you gonna do something about it?”
He gave her a look and shook his head. “No. He's still has a thing for Buffy...and I don't like Spike...and he hasn't figured out it’s me...there were two women in the room. Dawn and a girl named Nancy.”
“He will though, figure it out I mean.”
“Doesn't matter. Soulmates we might be...but nothing is gonna happen.”
He took her hand in his. “It’s okay Wills; it’s not that hard getting back into the swing of things. My soulmate has never wanted me anyway.” He didn't cry this time, but he stayed with Willow the rest of the day and they talked about Tara and Jesse.
Things seemed to go downhill from there; they just kept getting weirder and weirder. Spike was still insane, everyone got a dose of crazy flakes, and then Anya gave up her Vengeance gig wanting to undo a slaughter she'd done...He'd escorted her out of the frat house...they'd talked. He'd tried to comfort her...and they...they made a bit of progress. Maybe toward something new and toward being just friends.
And when they parted ways...her voice hit him. “Its Spike isn't it. You can see in color now. I noticed it the night I saw Spike's soul.”
“He'll find out.”
He shrugged. “I don't care...call me if you need me An.” And he'd walked away.
And then the most insane thing in the history of ever happened. Buffy made him take Spike in. Sure he hadn't told her about the color seeing soulmate situation. But why would she put him with the crazy vamp? Eurrg. And then to make things more insane...every woman in his life became obsessed with a teenage boy because of his magic jacket. God he hated living in Sunnydale...maybe he should move.
It was as he and Spike were running away with RJ's jacket and rounded a corner that Spike gasped at him, though he wasn't really out of breath. “We going to talk about it?”
Xander didn't say anything.
“Because I know it’s you Harris. It’s not Buffy. It’s not Dawn, she's still seeing in black and white...and so is that Nancy girl. So it’s got to be you.”
Xander still didn't say anything.
Spike stopped running and grabbed his arm, forcing him to stop. “Harris.”
Xander looked at Spike; surprised to see that Spike was actually a little shorter than him...the vampire had always seemed so...larger than life before. “What?”
“You can see in color. You know that that means.”
“It doesn't mean anything Spike.”
“It means you're my bloody soulmate.”
“And obviously that doesn't mean diddly, you went and got your soul for Buffy. You and I hate each other, and you'll never want me. It’s okay, I'm a big boy, I can deal.”
He started to walk away but Spike still held his arm. “That's it then. No cracks about us? No cruel words?”
“No. Because I've done this song and dance routine, and it hurt the first time, and I don't want seconds. I'm done.” He grabbed the jacket from Spike and left him standing in the street. The damn thing needed to burn.
Spike was severely screwed up...his head getting messed with on all sides, from his trigger that the First was using, the chip malfunctioning...and the mind games from Giles and Robin. Xander didn't even like Spike...not really...but...
Robin never saw him coming; instead he froze at the sound of the gunshot, and stared at the hole in his front door by his head. Slowly he turned to face Xander, whether he moved slowly because of his injuries, or because of caution Xander didn't care. “Most people say hi when they come to visit.”
“I just wanted to make sure you got the message.”
“About Spike. He's off limits.”
“Buffy made that very clear...but what do you care about Spike?”
“It’s complicated...all you need to know...is that I'm a very good shot.”
Xander walked away, got in his car, and went back to Buffy's, he had one more warning to give.
Giles was on the back porch, sitting on the steps, staring at nothing. Xander sat beside him and waited.
“I'd rather be alone right now Xander.”
“Let me tell you a story G-Man.”
“Now is not the time-”
“Shut the fuck up and listen Watcher.” Giles stared at him in shock. “When I was five years-old I met Willow and I met Jesse. You remember Jesse? The boy you never got to meet. The one Darla took and the Master ate and turned. Well the day I met him my world exploded into color.” Giles gasped a little. “It wasn't until we were older that we understood what that meant...and Jesse would barely acknowledge it. And when we started high school he devoted his every spare thought to Cordelia, so I confronted him, asked him why, when we were soulmates. He told me I was his best friend...but he didn't love me. He liked girls. Then he was killed, and my world went black and white again. I thought maybe my brain was damaged because we found him the tunnels...but he'd been turned...and then he fell on my stake that night.”
“Xander I'm sorry, but-”
“I'm not finished...So as the years went by I fell in love, fell out of love, broke a couple of hearts...people we cared about died...Willow went evil...and then Spike came back...and my world exploded into color again.”
“But...” Giles seemed speechless.
Xander turned to look at him. “Spike and I don't like each other...but any one of you tries to take my color away again...and I'll kill you.” And he stood and left Giles sitting there in silence. He never saw Spike gaping from the bushes.
He'd never felt such pain. He'd been hurt over the years sure, but nothing felt like this. Nothing compared to Caleb's thumb popping his eye like a grape. Damn. He'd never be able to eat grapes again. All that pain and Xander assumed he'd die from it...but then a black and blond blur that wasn't Buffy, but Spike, knocked Caleb away from him. Then Buffy and Spike were dragging him from the wine cellar...to some sort of safety.
But he was numb and nothing mattered.
Willow had left and now it was just him and Spike in the private room. He hadn't really expected Spike to show up at the hospital. The guy had done his good deed; he'd kept Caleb from doing anymore damage, what else was there for Spike to do?
“You should have said something.”
Xander looked at Spike, his vision a bit hazy...and the lack of depth perception made him a bit dizzy. “About what?”
“I heard what you told Giles, before you threatened him, the story about your friend.”
“Oh...I threatened Robin too...I'm not sure why I just told you that...must be the drugs...” He tried to frown. “No fair talking to me when I'm loopy.”
“I've seen you try for the things you want Xander. Fight to protect all that you hold dear. And here your soulmate is...and you do nothing. Except tell me you’re tired of this old song and dance routine.”
“Well yeah. I mean what's the point?”
Spike's hand took his. “You didn't even try.”
“We don't like each other. You've never wanted me...You didn't want me as Jesse...and you don't want me as you. What's a guy supposed to do when his soulmate doesn't want him in two different life times?”
“I could learn. I could try.”
Xander tried to pull his hand away. “Why? Why try?”
“You're bloody living proof that I'm not meant to be alone. We exist, so there's still hope for us.”
“There is no us Spike.”
Spike leaned forward, and gently pressed his lips to Xander's. “There could be.”
Xander stared as Spike leaned back. “Can you come back when I'm not high on pain meds?”
“Sure.” He gave Xander's hand one more squeeze and left him alone...Buffy was waiting outside the room. “How much did you hear?”
“So it would seem.”
Her eyes were tired, as were everyone's these days. “Make the most of it Spike, treat him right...and if the two of you survive this war...I wish you the best.”
Spike stared at her. “Thanks...happy I'm able to let you go?”
“Yeah...I didn't know about Jesse being his soulmate, he never told me. Jesse being turned was a big reason he's hated vamps...Angel especially...but that might be because Darla is the one who took Jesse.” She kissed his cheek. “Try not to screw it up this time.”
He nodded and left. Buffy entered the room, but Xander was already asleep.
Spike seemed to always be underfoot after that. He drove Xander home and played nursemaid at his apartment. Xander happily kicked him out for a bit so he could run that errand with Andrew. So he was alone at his apartment when Buffy showed up in a daze. She seemed unhurt, but wouldn't tell him what had happened.
So he tucked her in on his couch and called the house from his bedroom...then he hung up on Giles, disgusted at what he'd been told. That they had kicked Buffy out. Bunch of stupid people.
Spike came back the next night somewhat worse for wear, Andrew in tow, they let Andrew have the spare room and Xander grumbled about it...but left room on his bed for Spike. He waited for some time, dozing, listened to Spike talk to Buffy, listened to her murmur. Eventually he drifted off to sleep, only to wake when Spike lay on top of the covers on the other side of the bed.
“You know what they did?” Spike asked in the dark of the room.
“I know. I hung up on Giles when he told me.”
They lay in the dark, quiet...and then the door opened and Buffy crept into the room, into their bed and slid between them. They fell asleep curled around her.
She was gone when they woke in the morning, but had left a note, saying she'd gone for the weapon Caleb was keeping from her. Xander took the note from Spike and placed it on the bedside table. “Think a weapon will help?”
“I think a weapon crafted especially for the slayer could help a great deal.”
Xander nodded. “You hungry? I have blood in the fridge.”
“In a bit.” Spike moved closer.
“Just a kiss.”
Xander frowned, but didn't move away when Spike kissed him. It was soft, gentle...not at all what he'd expected, and all Spike did was kiss him, moving their lips together. Xander realized he was waiting for Xander to make the next move. 'Just a kiss' he'd said, and that's all it would be until Xander made it more. He parted his lips...ran his tongue along Spike's...and the kiss became more.
It was heated, almost frenzied, and Xander couldn't figure out why they hadn't tried this sooner. He hadn't had a kiss like this since...well he hadn't ever had a kiss like this. Then Spike was straddling him and Xander almost pushed him away, but instead of holding him down, trying to force him...Spike rubbed his ass against the straining hardness in Xander's boxers.
“When you're ready, I want you inside me. All that heat, all that passion. I want it.”
Xander just sort of stared up at Spike in awe...and then the phone rang. “What are the chances that's a telemarketer?”
Spike huffed out a laugh above him. “Better answer it.”
He did...paled a bit...and promised to be there soon. “Let’s go, we've got wounded.” But he rose up and kissed Spike, gentle this time. “Later.”
Spike grinned at him a little. “Can't wait to work myself down on your cock.”
Xander made a strangled noise. “Emergency now, dirty talk later.” And dragged Spike out of bed.
It took a few hours to get the girls patched up after their run in with a bomb, courtesy of the Bringers. Then Buffy suggested he take Dawn off the Hellmouth to get her to safety. Xander snorted, went and got Dawn and dragged her back to Buffy.
“What's going on?”
“What would you do to me if I kidnapped you and ran away from the battle with you unconscious in the car?”
Dawn stared at him. “I'd tase you...and then drive us back.”
He nodded and then looked at Buffy. “Dawnie is getting to be scary. I'm not making her go anywhere she doesn't want to go. Now...everyone is patched up, you have your shiny weapon of doom, if you don't need us I'll be back at my apartment...with my soulmate.” Xander looked to Spike by the window. “If you want?”
Spike nodded, his eyes locked on Xander. “I want.”
Dawn looked from Xander to Spike. “Seriously? You two are...” Dawn punched his shoulder. “Why didn't anyone say anything?”
“Ow!...There was some denial.” Xander murmured. “And there still a few things that need to be said.”
Spike frowned at that. “Let's get going then.”
The ride was quiet at first, and Xander wondered if maybe he should have kept quiet about the whole talk thing. Spike seemed nervous and unsure because of it...but there was something he needed to say, to get off his chest.
“So what else needs to be said?”
Xander let out a breath and with it his unease. “About what happened between you and Buffy...when you almost...”
“Raped is the word you're looking for.”
“I know...and I know you're different now, and I'm not talking about the soul. Things between the two of you got so messy, and there was abuse on both sides...but that night...you stopped yourself. She'd practically driven you mad and you still stopped yourself.”
“Ancient history...nothing I can do can make up for what I did.”
“I agree...but not just about what you did...what I tried to do.”
Spike focused on him rather suddenly. “What are you talking about?”
Xander swallowed and kept his eyes on the road. “You're not the first to try and hurt her...rape her.”
Spike's jaw dropped. “You?”
“Not long after she first moved here.”
“What happened? Why would you...you're not that type Xander.”
“I got possessed.”
“By a rapist.”
He snorted. “No...by a hyena...an Alpha hyena spirit.”
“Well, unlike you I couldn't stop myself...luckily, even though she was terrified, and she was I could smell it, she knocked me out. With a desk, and she and Willow locked me in the library book cage. I got lucky considering what the other possessed kids got up to.”
“What did they do?”
“Oh, they ate Principle Flutie.”
“Bloody hell...you were a primal.”
“Why would you tell me this?”
Xander pulled into the parking lot of his building. “I don't like what you did...but I know what it’s like to be a monster, to not be in control of yourself. If Buffy can forgive us both, then I can move past it too.” He parked into his space and turned off the car. “Okay?”
“More than okay. Race you upstairs?”
“You're on-” Spike stole a kiss, and then was out of the car, running ahead. “Cheater!” Xander yelled after him.
Spike beat him to the apartment, obviously, but Xander still had the key and assumed the vampire would have to wait on him. However the door was unlocked and Spike was inside by the time Xander got there and a pale hand dragged him inside.
“How did you-”
“Anya gave me her key. I'm surprised none of the women in your life have been more objecting about me being your soulmate.”
“Eh, I have a track record of attracting non-humans.”
“Yeah...I'll tell you about all the times I almost got mauled.”
Spike sort of froze. “Mauled?”
“It’s no big deal Spike.”
But Spike cupped his face in his cool pale hands. “Who tried to force you love?”
Xander swallowed. “I was sixteen...and she was a substitute teacher.” Spike growled, his eyes flickering yellow and Xander kissed him, a firm press of lips. “But not really, she was a phony teacher, just looking for virgins to breed with and decapitate.”
Xander shuddered. “She was a shape shifter...and her true form was a preying mantis.”
“Bloody hell Xan, you have way too many close calls.”
“And that's just my love life.”
“Not any more it isn't. It’s with me, and I won't eat you...well...not in a fatal way.”
Xander felt a little thrill go through him. “Promise?”
“Yeah...yeah pet. That's a promise. Come here.”
They shut the apartment door behind them, and Xander locked it. Then they felt and stumbled their way through the dark apartment to the bedroom, hardly taking time to separate. “We need light.” Xander murmured between kisses.
“In the kitchen...there's still one in the bathroom from...well...” He trailed off. The one thing Anya had left behind in his apartment that he hadn't gotten rid of was the candles.
“Draw us up a bath yeah? I'll get the bedroom set up.”
He shook his head. “No hot water Spike, the power company shut down and everyone is evacuating.”
“Damn. Wanted to do this right.”
Xander smiled and pulled Spike to him gently in a full hug, resting his forehead against the vampire's. “We can still do the candles. Need the light anyway, want to see you.”
He could just barely see Spike's smile in the dark. “Right then, let’s make the most of it yeah?”
They moved to the kitchen, found a flashlight and gathered all the candles and holders they could find before they moved them to the bedroom. Soon every surface that could hold a candle without becoming a fire-hazard held one. One by one they lit each candle until the room was filled with a golden glow. And Xander could see Spike just fine.
Spike's duster came off first, slipping from narrow shoulders and flung to the chair in the corner. Xander swallowed and kicked his shoes off, before clumsily going for the buttons of his shirt.
He looked up at Spike. “Yeah?”
“Nothing to be nervous about.”
“Says you...this is the first time you've ever wanted me.”
There was something in Spike's eyes then, or maybe it was just the candlelight. “Says you.”
Spike kicked his boots off, and took off a shirt, then the second. “In case you hadn't noticed, I have a thing for brunettes. As me, as Jesse. Did it ever occur to you love, that the reason Jesse fell in love with Cordelia was because she was like you. In coloring. In attitude?”
“Have you met her? Because my high school sweetheart was fierce and nothing like me-”
“Don't sell yourself short pet, not ever. Who's the boy, the man who made Angelus back down when Buffy was in the hospital?”
“That was just me throwing myself on his proverbial fangs. With absolutely no weapons.”
“Yeah? Well he came back to our hide out in a rage, screaming and ranting. No one pisses him off like you do. I could love you for that alone.”
Xander laughed and the last of his nervousness left him. “We could have bonded over our mutual dislike of Angel years ago. Probably should have.” He finished unbuttoning his shirt and let it slide off. Then with a little mischievous smile he sauntered to the bed and did a little strip tease with the rest of his clothes. Swaying to music in his head while sliding his undershirt off with a twist and shimmying out of his jeans.
Spike's eyes were glued to him, pupils large in the soft light, and his mouth open, tongue darting out. “Where did you learn to do that?”
“Maybe I'll tell you sometime.” And then he slid his boxers off and lay on the bed. Spike stared, eyes hungry, and peeled his own jeans off; there was nothing else to shield him from Xander's gaze. And Spike was very happy to be there in the room with him.
Xander swallowed and motioned to the side of the bed and the nightstand drawer. Spike got on the bed and crawled towards him, skin touching skin as he shimmied closer to Xander and the drawer. He sprawled beside Xander, his cock nestled on Xander's hip, leg throw over him so his thigh was just touching Xander's. Cools lips reached for his while a wandering hand reached for the drawer and pulled out the first tube it found.
When he brought it into view he smirked. “Not even flavored.”
“Anya took the flavored ones with her.”
“Ah.” And then Spike was straddling his waist and had the lube flicked open, a little already on his fingertips. “This is your first time with a bloke, right love?”
“Then I'll receive this time if you don't mind, until you're ready. Never gonna rush you, never gonna take what you're not willing to give.” Spike leaned down to kiss him, while his hand moved behind him. Xander leaned up to meet the kiss, one hand steadying Spike at his hip, the other reaching behind to follow those slender fingers.
“Let me help? I know how to do this part.”
“Oh?” Spike gasped a little, they breached his hole, fingers touching, moving in sync. “Wasn't strictly vanilla between you and your girl?”
“She kept the toys too.”
Spike shuddered a bit. “We'll have to buy new ones.” They each added a finger and he groaned.
“Too much? We just went from two to four there.”
“No, I can take it.”
“I'm not really into pain Spike.”
“Then I'll be gentle with you, but I like a bit'o sting.”
“Oh...so...this is good pain.”
“Very good. Let’s hurry and make it better.”
Xander wiggled his fingers a bit, just to stretch him a little more and Spike growled a little moving into the touch. “Found it.” Xander whispered triumphantly.
Spike grinned, rose further up on his knees and pulled both his and Xander's fingers out of him before adding lube to Xander's cock. Xander shivered and glared at him a little, the slick was cold after all, but then Spike was sliding down on that heated hardness and Xander bit his lip and said not a word until Spike had taken him all.
Spike groaned and then chuckled. “I'll take that as a compliment.”
“Good, because I'm not that articulate during sex.” Xander told him, his hands moving from Spike's hips to wrap around him. “I apologize in advance for a lack of pretty words.”
“Don't need them. I have all the pretty words we'll ever need.” He cupped Xander's face in his hands, an already familiar gesture and kissed him. “I'm more than just a pretty face, with pretty eyes. Graduated top of my class at Oxford.” Spike smiled as Xander's eye widened, surprised as Spike's voice became more cultured, the cockney accent vanishing. And then Spike started to move.
Slowly, rising and lowering himself on Xander's cock, rubbing his own against Xander's stomach. Then those strong hands moved back down his back to his hips to help him move, to speed him along.
“No.” Xander shook his head. “I just want to watch you lose control...I've waited so long to feel you, to see you, to just hold you. I never thought I would get to. That you would want me?”
“You mean Jesse.”
“Hey.” Xander's voice was firm, and he moved his hips, jabbing up into Spike sharp enough to make him gasp. “You're not Jesse. You're Spike. Jesse couldn't love me, not the way I needed him too, and he wouldn't accept my love. How long have you been searching for that love Spike?”
Spike looked down at him, and smiled. “Too long. Jesse was a fool.”
“Not disagreeing with you.”
Spike laughed then rolled them, so that Xander was on top and locked his legs around
Xander's waist. “I'm a fool as well.”
“Aren't we all?” And Xander thrust into him. Spike keened a little and grit his teeth at the pleasure.
“Better a fool in love, than a fool left out in the cold.”
“You'll never be cold again Spike. I'll keep you warm.”
“I always keep them Spike.”
Spike bared his teeth. “Prove it.”
Xander did. With enthusiasm.
Xander woke to quiet voices, familiar voices, speaking near him...wait...he and Spike were in his bedroom...he woke with a start, eye opening and searching the room, to find Buffy sitting in the chair, Scythe thing in her hand.
“Didn't we lock the door?” Xander groaned, sinking back onto the bed, and Spike's arms.
“I have a key.” Buffy smiled. “Just thought you might want to know Caleb is dead.”
He blinked...and grinned. “Really?”
“Use that bit'o shiny on him?” Spike asked.
“Yep. Cut him in half.”
“Alright. You know I'd offer to throw a party and refreshments...but we're suffering from a case of nakedness and I'm not leaving this bed ‘til you're out of the room.”
“Fair enough Xan, besides, I think you two will enjoy a party for two a little more anyway. Come by the house later though, okay?”
Buffy smiled at them and made her way out of the room, and then left the apartment, locking the door behind her.
“How do you feel?” Spike asked him, kissing at his throat.
“Better than I have in a long time.” He took Spike's hand in his. “I told you right, that I'm glad it was you?”
“Yeah. You did.”
“Good.” And Xander kissed him again, pulling Spike on top of him.
They had taken their time getting ready; neither liked the mad dash to the car, Spike under a blanket and Xander rushing to get the door open for him. So they put off the trip to Buffy's as long as possible, until Buffy actually called them and demanded they get to the house for a meeting.
So after a miserable drive, Spike still under his blanket, there was a second mad dash to get inside the house before they made sure that Spike wasn't on fire and then followed Buffy upstairs to the master bedroom where she told them her plan.
“What do you think?”
It was...crazy and Xander told her so. “So...you want to tap into the power of the Slayer line.”
“Buff...the last time we did that...the First Slayer ripped my heart out in a dream and I'm pretty sure I actually died.”
Willow whirled to look at him where he and Spike were piled up together at the head of the bed. “That happened to you too?”
“Me too? She ripped out your heart?”
“No...she suffocated me.”
Giles snorted. “She cracked open my skull and took my brain.”
They all stared at Giles in horror and Buffy made a face. “Eww...she wasn't very vocal...but I took her out...maybe that's why you guys didn't stay dead.”
“Perhaps.” Giles conceded.
Xander nodded. “Okay...but what about the cheese guy? Where did that come from?”
“Hell if I know,” Giles muttered.
“Yeah I never figured that out either.”
“Guys!” Buffy waved around her scythe. “Focus please.”
“Well as long as the First Slayer knows you can kick her butt...and I think it’s crazy...but crazier like a fox than any other sort of crazy.”
“Except for the part where I have to do a butt load of magic.”
“It’s a lot of mojo.” Faith agreed. “But it sounds pretty radical. I'm in.”
“It does rather buck the system we've been living with for years...and I've been something of a rebel. It’s brilliant Buffy.”
Xander shuddered. “As long as we don't have any Ripper repeats from you.”
“Sod off Xander.”
Spike looked from Giles to Xander. “What was that?”
“I'll tell you about Ripper later.”
Dawn made a face. “Wait, is that when Mom and Giles were possessed by candy and had sex on a police car?”
Buffy blushed. “Dawn needs to go do research, like now.”
“Wait, your mom and Giles did the nasty?”
“Yes well...Dawn was right...there was...evil candy...involved and I cannot believe I just said that.”
They left Buffy to hammer out some details with Willow and she joined the group a little later to rally them and include them in the change of plans. Xander could only hope that all of this would work.
She held up the amulet. “Angel said it bestows strength to the person who wears it.” It hung from its chain, shining in the limited light her basement. “Someone ensouled and stronger than human. A champion.”
Xander shivered; a chill going through him at her words. “Oh Hell no.”
“Angel can wear the stupid the thing.”
Spike slipped an arm around him nuzzled at his throat. “My choice.”
And Xander bit back his disagreement. “Fine...but you're not just gonna die on me. We're surviving this. I need my champion.”
Spike grinned at him. “I'll do my best.”
“Do better. I'm not losing you again.”
Spike nodded and took the amulet from Buffy. She smiled a little. “If it’s any consolation I sort of broke Angel's brain when I told him the two of you were having sex...I didn't tell him about the soulmate part.”
Spike snorted and Xander laughed out-loud. “That helps Buff, a little anyway.”
They couldn't get Buffy to leave the basement fast enough and locked the door behind her. It was their last night before the final battle, possibly their last night on Earth and Xander wanted nothing more than to lose himself in Spike or vice versa. Though he stared in surprise at all the lube his lover dumped on the table from his duster pockets.
“When did you knock over a sex shop for its lube?”
“I didn't knock over a sex shop...though if we had time we probably could, it would be abandoned like everything else.” He grinned. “Anya handed it to me. Said that if the world was going to die we should be boffing like evil bunnies...why does she think bunnies are evil?”
“I have no idea, she has bunny-phobia and she never told me why...so...we just gonna stand here and admire the lube or are you gonna bend me over the table?”
Spike staggered a bit, as if his knees had gone weak. “Don't tease pet. Said I wouldn't take anything you weren't ready to-”
“I'm more than ready.”
Spike's eyes flickered yellow. “We did lock the door?”
“Yep...wish we could barricade it though.”
Spike nodded and grabbed some nylon rope hanging on the wall. “Hold that thought.” Xander frowned as he watched the vampire head up the stairs and start tying the rope to the door knob...understanding what Spike was doing he undid his pants, and then slid them and his boxers down.
He took a bracing breath and reached for one of the lubes, not paying attention to flavor or scent. He opened it and coated two fingers and then reached around to prod at his own entrance, sliding one in easily. This was something that he and Anya hadn't done much before as she couldn't achieve orgasm if he was the one being penetrated. But Spike had been a good teacher and soon Xander had two fingers inside and was just managing to wiggle in a third when there was a crash behind him.
He looked over his shoulder, three fingers still in his ass, to see Spike collapsed in a pile of leather at the bottom of the stairs. “What happened?”
“Didn't expect to see you fucking yourself ready for me now did I?” Spike grumbled as he got to his feet, using the stair railing to steady himself. “You trying to kill me before the battle?”
“No...is the door secure?”
“Yeah. Got the rope tied to the knob and the railing, best I can do without a load of bricks.” Spike slipped his duster off. “All ready for me then?”
Xander grinned and leaned forward, the tip of his pinky just breaching him. “You're the expert, what do you think?” And he removed his fingers, wiping them on his jeans. The duster landed on the table beside him and Xander leaned forward a bit more, dragging it over to him so he could touch the aged leather.
“Bit of a leather kink?”
“Only for your duster.”
“Want me to lay you out on it sometime?” Spike asked, cool hands sliding over his hips and up his back under his shirt.
“Sometime-AH!” Xander cried out as something warm and wet swiped and wiggled across his hole. “Jesus what was that?”
“Something I want to explore a bit more later on.” Spike's voice was warm, once again cultured and whispering in his ear as slender fingers breached him. “Quite loose already love, just need a bit more slick I think.” He reached for the lubrication and a moment later something much bigger than fingers started to slide into Xander.
“Easy.” Spike whispered sliding in slowly. “We've got all night.”
“It’s not enough.” Xander grumbled, burying his face in the leather beneath him, fingers curling in it. “It’s not enough time Spike.”
Spike bottomed out and laid down on him, the table supporting their upper bodies. “I know.” And he pulled back, and snapped his hips forward, brushing against Xander's prostate for the first time.
“Hold on yeah?”
Spike rode him slowly, whispering pretty words; he had plenty of them as promised. Bits of poetry and praise slipped from his lips that Xander didn't think he'd remember as they grazed the shell of his ear, but loved nonetheless.
“It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.”
Xander listened carefully as he could to Spike's words, not knowing their origin and not caring a gentle wash of pleasure overcame him and he heard Spike groan above him, felt him pulse inside him.
“It well may be. I do not think it would.”
He lost some time, fading in and out of consciousness as he was undressed and moved to the bed against the wall. It was small, and nowhere near as comfortable as his bed at home, but he wouldn't be seeing that bed ever again, so this one would have to do.
Spike chuckled and Xander clung to him exchanging kisses and soft touches and rolling over until he was on top of Spike, rubbing against his firm body. Happy. Despite everything this was a moment of peace that Xander would cherish for the rest of his life. Short as it may be.
“Going to do something with that?” Spike asked, cupping Xander's face and slipping the patch off. Xander flinched a little, but Spike placed a feather light kiss on the sunken lid. “There now, no worries. Love all of you.”
“I am so glad I found you.” Xander murmured.
“Show me then.”
He smiled and leaned in for another kiss.
The next morning everyone was quiet-ish, but filled with anticipation as they packed themselves into various vehicles and drove to the high school. Drove to the Hellmouth...and not to their deaths...Xander hoped anyway.
Wood led them through the front doors, acting the part of principal one more time. “Welcome to Sunnydale High. There's no running in the halls. No yelling and no gum chewing. Apart from that there's only one rule. If they move, kill them.”
Buffy rolled her eyes a little and pointed down a hall. “Potentials to the basement follow Faith and Spike.”
Xander swallowed and looked at Spike. “Do better.”
“Better than my best.” And Spike kissed him goodbye before turning and leading the potentials away. Hell...this was it wasn't it.
Willow handed her supplies to Kennedy and Wood directed her to his office. He laid down the plan, the areas which needed to be defended; they'd be in teams of two for each location. Wood went one way to be joined by Giles later, Anya and Andrew went another. Dawn went ahead to the atrium where they'd be stationed. Buffy wanted him to watch out for and he would...for the moment though...they were alone.
Three best friends and their mentor. Three kids and a teacher who had lived in Hell. Three young adults who were going to face that Hell together one last time with their mentor turned friend. Four warriors who would give everything they could, to save the world one more time.
If they survived Xander was going to go on a looong vacation. Right now though, he had no idea what to say. Buffy did.
Her words were carefree, and reminded him of days long past, just after the Harvest. “So, what do you guys want to do tomorrow?”
Willow smiled. “Nothing strenuous.”
Xander snorted. “Mini-golf is always the first thing that comes to mind.”
“Really?” Giles asked with a roll of his eyes. “I think we can do better than that.”
They let the silly talk go on for a bit, lying to themselves as they walked away and left Giles behind. Willow separated from them first, going into the office where she'd be pulling off her major mojo...and then Xander left to join Dawn...leaving Buffy to walk alone.
“So here's the part where you make a choice: What if you could have that power...now? In every generation, one slayer is born... because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. (Willow whimpers) So I say we change the rule. I say my power......should be our power.”
Xander flashed Buffy's speech from the day before over and over in his mind as the Turok-Han came at them. He fought; he put everything into his movements, in the swing of his sword. He'd spent just over two decades living with and without color, and now he had his color, he had someone he loved and who loved him back.
He was keeping it, and he was never going to give it up. As long as Spike wanted him, he had something to fight for. He had no idea what the Amulet would do, what it was for, as long as it kept Spike safe...and if nothing else...well Dawn wouldn't like what he'd do...but he'd do it anyway.
And then Xander had his sign. Because there was Jesse, standing before him. Smirking as Xander and Dawn killed monster after monster...and then the ground shook and the flow of uber-vamps stopped.
“She's up to something isn't she?” Jesse...the First smiled. “Tricky that new girl.”
“Dawn, head outside.”
“What about-” Their eyes met. “I get it. You leave here with him or not at all.”
“Run Dawn Patrol.”
She smiled and ran toward the exit. Xander ran deeper into the building, Jesse's image keeping pace.
“This is what you're going to do? Run to his side and die?”
“He's not me Xander.”
Xander flipped it off and kept running. “Nope. He's better.” Jesse's image frowned and faded away, Xander kept running.
He ran past the girls as they made their escape. Passed Faith as he entered the basement. “Xander!”
“He must be a damn good lay.”
He gave her a wild grin. “You have no idea.” And down into the Hellmouth he went, where Buffy was looking at Spike in awe.
“Go on then.” Spike told her. “Look after him yeah.”
Xander smacked the back of his head. “Shut up.”
Buffy blinked in shock. “Xander what are you-?”
“Dawn is safe, go.”
“I'm not going anywhere Buffy. I'm right where I need to be.”
She swallowed back sorrow, hugged him while gripping Spike's hand...and then Xander pushed her toward the steps. “I love you both.”
“Run along now Slayer. You've a life to live.” Spike nodded at her and she ran up the steps. That left them alone in the cavern, light shining down on Spike and emitting from the amulet and onto the Turok-Han below them. “Foolish love.”
“Yeah well, I'm always doing the stupid thing.” He took Spike's hand, intertwined their fingers. “But it’s the right thing.”
Spike smiled at him and pulled him close.
“stand with your lover on the ending earth-
and while a(huge which by which huger than
huge) whoing sea leaps to greenly hurl snow
suppose we could not love, dear; imagine
ourselves like living neither nor dead these
(or many thousand hearts which don't and dream
or many million minds which sleep and move)
blind sands, at pitiless the mercy of
time time time time time
-how fortunate are you and i, whose home
is timelessness: we who have wandered down
from fragrant mountains of eternal now
to frolic in such mysteries as birth
and death a day(or maybe even less)”
Xander smiled and held him tighter, kissing Spike, even as he caught fire and screamed...because the light and fire didn't burn him. It only burned Spike. It didn't even feel hot to Xander. Freaky mystical lightshow. But then it got so bright that he was blinded completely, every sense gone, he couldn't see or hear or feel Spike's burning body in his arms.
They'd reached oblivion...and then there was nothing.
19 days later...
Oblivion didn't last as long as he thought it would...or should...because after an undetermined time of nothing...it all came back. The light, the feel of Spike's body pressed against his, their arms wrapped around one another...Spike's screams of pain...and then they stumbled to the floor...to carpet. Obviously they were not in the cavern anymore.
Spike shuddered and blinked, pupils dilated...probably still blind and Xander held him, kissed his forehead and ignored the voices around them saying Spike's name...until one voice chirped; “Blondie Bear?” Oh God why was Harmony here. They'd ended up in Hell hadn't they?
“Excuse you Xander Harris, this is not Hell, it’s way too stylish.” Huh, he must have said that out loud. “And what's with the eye patch? Are you trying to look cool or something?”
Xander groaned and sat up, pulling Spike into his lap and leaning against...a desk? “Harm. Shut up. I have an eye patch because I only have one eye.”
“Yeah stick with that story Harris; it makes you seem less pathetic.”
Great. Angel. He flipped Captain Forehead off. “Go back under whatever rock you crawled out from Dead Boy.” He cuddled Spike to him. “You better?”
“We made it out?” Spike asked; his voice soft.
“Apparently...though I don't know what we did to deserve the King of Brood.”
“We in Hell?” Spike asked.
“I don't know; they're all just staring at us. Hello people I don't know. Angel Cakes, Wesley...Harm. Where are we?”
Wesley cleared his throat. “You're...in LA. At Wolfram & Hart.”
Spike blinked; his eyes back to normal. “We're in an evil law firm?”
“Aren't all lawyers evil?”
“Major evil Xander.”
But Xander wasn't listening...he was too busy watching the pulse on Spike's neck. He put his fingers to it...and felt the
“You have a pulse.”
Spike growled and his incisors lengthened. “I do not...my game face is gone isn't it?”
“My God.” Wesley murmured. “I thought Dhampiels were only a myth. Was the Amulet supposed to change him?”
Angel shrugged. “No idea.”
Xander groaned. “Probably my fault. Magic never does what it’s supposed to around me.”
“In that case.” Spike reached for the eye patch, and lifted it...and Xander suddenly had depth perception.
“Holy cheese balls. I have depth perception.”
“And a massive scar.” Harmony made a face. “Makes you look kind of dangerous. Better than the patch.”
“Awesome.” He looked at Spike. “So maybe we should track down Buffy...did they make it out?”
“They did.” Angel grimaced. “They're in Europe.”
“Right. So track them down and help out? Or vacation?”
Spike snorted and climbed to his feet, and help Xander to his own. “Fuck that, I'm taking you on a long deserved vacation.”
“That's it? You just suddenly appear in my office and now you're going on vacation?”
“Hey, we saved the world, well, Spike saved the world.”
“It was my turn wasn't it, you saved it last year.”
Xander grinned at him. “Fair enough. Now come on, let’s get to Oxnard.”
“Why the bloody Hell would we go to Oxnard?”
“Because I have a bank account and lockbox there.”
Spike stared as Xander took his hand and led them passed Angel and his confused friends. “Clever.”
“For Xander anyway.” Xander flipped Angel off again.
“You're just jealous Angel.”
Angel snorted. “Of what?”
Xander smiled at the older vampire. “Because we can see in color.” And then they walked out of the office and made their way out of the building...and the sun didn't burn either of them. Life was good and they hailed a cab.
There was a world full of color waiting for them.
Poems that were quoted were: Love Is Not All; It Is Not Meat Nor Drink by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Stand with Your Lover on the Ending Earth by E.E. Cummings.
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