Pairing/Characters: Spike / Xander
1 4 3
1 Conversation in the Bar
“You ever think about getting married?” Xander gestured vaguely with his beer bottle.
“You know, before?”
“Unlike now, when I’d likely burst into flame during the ceremony?”
“Well, you know, you could do the Jewish thing – break the glass…” Xander broke off when Spike gave him an incredulous look “Anyway, we’re not talking about your potential flambé. Did you ever think about it?”
They were sitting in a nearly deserted hotel bar. Spike had promised Dawn he’d check up on Xander, and make sure he didn’t do anything dangerous. So he’d reluctantly come down, and found Harris, sitting in the bar. Jacket slung across the back of the padded chair, tie askew – ordering another beer. He’d signaled for one himself, and sat down in the adjoining chair.
“What are you nattering about?” Spike asked impatiently, taking a swig of his own beer. He’d thought this was only Xander’s second beer. He had no intention of joining Harris’ pity party – not even to keep Dawn off his back.
“Just curious if you had ever thought about it, you know, before the death and mayhem”
“Is there some reason you’re asking me this, Harris, other than the obvious?”
Xander was quiet for a few moments. Then he started distractedly picking at the label of his beer. “I never did” he said finally. Turning his head he caught the surprised look on Spike’s face. “What? You look surprised?”
“Well, yeah” Spike said, gesturing at the small jewelry box that sat forlornly off to the side, keeping the stale pretzels company.
Xander glanced at the box and then the corners of his mouth turned up in a strange little smile.
“Look, Harris, maybe I should go up and get one of the girls?” Spike started to get up.
Xander laid a warm hand on his shoulder “Look, sorry man. Stay. Open bar, get sloshed on someone else’s tab… ”
“Your tab,” Spike corrected, sitting back down. “Never thought you’d be buying me a drink”
Xander smiled that strange smile again.
They sat in an almost companionable silence for awhile. The bartender stopped by to drop off a couple of fresh bottles.
“You know your bartender is a Krelx demon?”
“Huh, that would explain why he was so cheap. How can you tell?” Xander peered down the bar, looking for horns or a tail.
“Clan tattoo on his wrist, ink's mixed with virgin blood to enhance their empathic ability. He must have had it done recently, I can smell it from here” Spike paused for a moment then asked “Why’d you want to know?”
“He mentioned something about my first-born son, I thought he was joking. I keep forgetting we’re on a Hellmouth.”
“No, ‘bout the other thing…marriage?” Spike said it in an offhand way, but Xander could see the tension in his body.
“Like I said, I never really thought about marriage. You know how girls seem to have every detail of their weddings planned before they turn fourteen? I never thought about it. It was just something that everybody did. The only thing that filtered up was that I was going to be better than my folks, which wasn’t much of a commitment.”
Spike nodded, remembering the frequent drunken shouting matches.
Xander continued, “Then there was Anya, and the world was ending, again, and she was so needy. And I needed to be needed. I thought we were perfect. But I was going through the motions. Even after I left her at the altar, I never gave up the thought of the picture postcard. Because that’s all it was, a Kodak moment: Xander at Disney, Xander eating the world’s largest hotdog, Xander getting married.
“And then today, again with the wedding that never happened. I thought so much had changed, but really, nothing has for me. I was still chasing the picture postcard. So I was wondering if it was a guy thing, or just me?” Xander finished, and took a sip of his beer.
Spike looked at him for a minute, as if sizing him up. Then he abruptly reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out his cigarettes and a lighter, and lit up. Before he’d even snapped the lighter shut, the bartender dropped off an ashtray, and slipped away. He inhaled deeply, and then said “Things were different then,” before exhaling the bluish smoke.
Xander rolled his eye.
“For all you know, Harris, I was married to a dozy cow of a wife who squirted out dozens of rug rats”.
Xander chuckled, “Who are you kidding, Spike, you turned your mom.”
Spike would have been seriously pissed, but the look on Xander’s face was full of mirth as opposed to maliciousness. “Git,” Spike said, tapping the ash off the end of his cigarette.
“And what exactly is a git, anyway? You English people have seriously lame insults.” Again, this was said mildly.
“Are you possessed?”
“Um, not as far as I can tell. Usually though, I can’t tell,” Xander paused thinking for a second, continuing “Or if I can tell, I lie about it.”
"We’re having a conversation. Don’t you find that a bit,” Spike paused, looking for the right word “odd?”
“Odder than the fact that I’m willingly sitting on a Hellmouth being served by a demon recently tattooed in virgin blood, after being jilted at the altar by a slayer who once tried to kill me?”
“She tried to kill you?”
“High school, old news…Don’t change the subject”
Spike looked at him exasperatedly, “You hate me, Harris”
“I don’t hate you.”
Spikes eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline.
Xander turned to look at Spike earnestly. “Standing on that hill, facing Willow down, I thought ‘this is it.’ Every time she tore into me, I thought it was going to be the last time. Even losing my eye didn’t hurt as bad. But I was ok with it, because it felt right. I knew that I was going to die, but Willow would make it, and the world would be ok.
“The absolute clarity in that split second when you realize you’ve chosen to stay and die. Knowing for certain that your choice is not about being heroic, or dramatic – but because it’s right. You’re so sure that this is how you were meant to go out. This was how the movie ended.” Xander paused for a second, and then continued, voice becoming a bit more subdued “But somehow it didn’t end. And you’re left feeling like, even though you saved the day, your sacrifice was somehow less – tarnished because you survived.
“That’s why I don’t hate you, Spike. We weren’t chosen. We chose.”
Spike was floored. He remembered the gut wrenching feeling he’d had when he realized he’d rematerialized in Angel’s office. It had been a bit easier to take when he’d been all ghostly, but once he’d become solid again, the feeling of ‘no longer worthy’ had been the main reason he hadn’t gone to Buffy. It never occurred to him that Harris had gone through the same thing.
Xander drained the last of his beer, and set the empty bottle on the counter. “Bar’s paid up for another couple of hours. Stay, have a few drinks on me.” He grinned “It’ll be like when you used to steal my wallet and go to the Bronze.”
Xander slid his chair back from the bar and grabbed his rumpled tux jacket off the back of the chair. He placed his hand on Spike’s shoulder, “Thanks for coming down. I know Dawn forced you, but I appreciate it. Tell them that I’m leaving first thing in the morning and I’ll call when my flight lands.”
If Xander’s hand lingered more than necessary, Spike didn’t notice it.
When he reached out to stub out his cigarette, Spike noticed that Xander had left the jewelry box on the bar.
He turned and called out “Xander, you forgot…”
Xander cut him off “Don’t need it. Keep it. Sell it. Whatever.” He didn’t even turn around, just continued walking out the door.
Spike picked it the box and cracked it open. Nestled in the padding was a wide, unadorned titanium band, something practical to wear while slaying. On a whim, Spike plucked it out of the padding and examined the underside of the band, where he found the numbers 1 4 3 etched in elegant script. Frowning, he put the ring back in the box.
When he left the bar, he slipped the box into his pocket. He figured he’d give it back to Xander at some point, after things had calmed down a bit. They were bound to run into each other sometime.
The number bugged him though, 1 4 3. What the hell did that mean?
2 Conversation in the Parlor
Summary: Spike's hurting, and Xander comes to offer support. Takes place about two years after their conversation in the bar.
“You know everyone is terrified to come in here.” Xander said as he walked through the door shutting it behind him.
Spike was standing at the window, standing in the half-light of the fire staring somberly at the rain spattering the window panes. He was wearing a lightweight cream colored turtleneck, and some soft grey pants. His hair was still bleached, worn softer now with a slight wave to it. His face looked drawn, almost haggard. Moonlight filtered through the rain, dappling his skin in the places the firelight didn’t reach, making him look like an exotic spotted cat. He took a drink from the tumbler in his hand before he turned to look at Xander.
“You think they’d feel better if I were breaking things?”
“They’d deny it, but yeah. They don’t know how to deal with a quiet Spike”
“And you do?”
“Not really, I just wanted a drink. You mind?” Spike shook his head and turned back to the window.
Spike heard a thump as Xander set his duffle bag down, followed by the tinkle of glass on glass as the boy poured himself a drink.
“’Bit call you?” Spike asked, although by his tone, it was barely a question.
Xander took a sip of his drink, and then joined Spike by the window. “Should I even bother to lie?” a half smile ghosted Spike's lips “She’s worried about you. So was I”
“So instead of coming downstairs and talking to me, she has you and the watcher sprint across the globe so you can have a chat with me.”
“Not Mark, just me. And please, don’t call him the watcher. It conjures up images of Giles that I truly do not need.”
“What, you two have a lovers spat?” Spike was surprised. Mark and Xander had seemed fairly happy. All the emails he ever got from Xander indicated things were going well.
“If by spat you mean ‘no longer seeing each other’, then yes we had a spat. He doesn’t understand…” Xander paused trying to find the right words “He doesn’t see you like I do, all he sees is vampire, and I can’t really fault him for that. Not too long ago, I was him, so no stone throwing” Xander didn’t seem overly concerned about the demise of his latest relationship. “Are we done with the small talk yet?”
They sat in amiable silence, watching as the rain crept down the glass.
“Do you know how it happened?” Xander finally asked gently.
Six simple words, and Spikes felt the hole in his heart rip open again. The urge to break and rip and tear and rend was almost overwhelming as the grief rolled over him. And as he had for the last couple of days, Spike ruthlessly clamped down on those feelings. But for the first time since he’d found out, he realized he also wanted to talk. Since their strange conversation in the bar a couple of years ago, they had fallen into an odd sort of friendship. He finally answered tersely “No, not the details.”
“How’d you find out?”
“Angel and I both got couriered packages that arrived at the same time, we’re pretty sure they were sent by whatever’s left of Wolfram and Hart”
“Do I even want to ask what was in them? I’m having flashbacks to Se7en.”
Spike smiled, and felt the knot around his heart loosening a fraction. “Couldn’t send us her head, now could they?” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a stained piece of black velvet ribbon. “They sent Angel a cameo he’d given her, something he’d taken off a shopkeeper pretty soon after she’d been turned”
“And by ‘taken off a shopkeeper’, you mean ‘ripped from their dying body’, don’t you?”
“Pretty much,” Spike smiled affectionately “It was one of the few things she had that survived Prague.” He gestured with the ribbon “This was one of her hair ribbons. She used to discipline her dolls with it when they’d been naughty.” He caught Xander’s bemused gaze “What? It was a thing. Kept her happy, didn’t it?”
“So it was a two for one deal, kill one vamp, payback against you both?”
“Looks like. Thing is, some part of me knew when it happened I just didn’t want to believe it.”
Xander marveled at that. “And all this time we thought that Sire-Childe bond thingy was just a wishful thinking by those weird vamp groupies.”
“It wasn’t some sort of mystical bond, git” Spike scowled slightly. “It was like…old marrieds’… I always knew that she was out there and all right. And then – she just wasn’t. Couple days later, we got the packages.”
“I’m sorry. I know that some part of you thought that you’d end up back with her somehow, someday.”
Spike looked at him sharply.
“What? You think I don’t know that forever is a long time? Angel’s lost his soul twice in the ten years or so since I’ve known him. Three times if you count the drug thing. The odds of you losing yours at some point and joining back up with Dru weren’t that bad.
“In fact, Dawn just cleaned up in the pool we had going. We thought she was nuts sitting on ‘never happen’.”
“You lot had a pool going on me going evil and getting back with Dru!?” Spike was incredulous.
“Well…yeah.” Xander was practically bouncing. “I so cleaned up when Angel lost his soul last time. He hit both my markers – ‘world save-age’ and ‘willingly gave it up’. He’s so predictable. I bought an iPod” He grinned.
“And what did you have for me?” Spike asked, quietly, absently twisting Dru’s ribbon in his fingers.
Xander smiled, “I was parked firmly on ‘spell damage’.”
Spike laughed genuinely for the first time in days. He slipped Dru’s ribbon in his pocket and walked over to refill his drink. Xander walked over to top his off as well. As Spike poured, Xander saw firelight glint off the ring Spike was wearing.
“You still have that?” Xander gestured at the ring.
“Oh, yeah” Spike looked down at his right hand, then said apologetically “I’d been carting the box around, planning to give it back to you, but I almost lost it in Jakarta hunting a clan of G’nrda demons. Just started wearing it after that, easier than keeping up with the box. Here,” Spike set his drink glass down, and went to pull the ring off.
Xander placed a hand on his arm. “No, don’t worry about it. It looks good on you. Bet you’re glad I didn’t go with something girly. I can’t believe it fit you.” He paused a strange expression crossed his face “Almost like it was made for you,” he said softly.
Before Spike could even wonder what that meant, Xander walked over to the fireplace, and sat down in one of the overstuffed chairs placed in front of it. Spike sat down in its mate, opposite him.
“Been meaning to ask you – what’s one hundred and forty-three?”
“Um…the number after one hundred and forty-two?” Xander responded, looking confused “Is this a trick question? Have we gotten to the trick question portion of the evening already? ‘Cause,” he faked a yawn “damn am I tired.”
“Daft git.” Spike said exasperatedly “The number you had inscribed in the ring...one hundred and forty-three…what the hell does it mean? I’ve checked every spell book and numerology reference I can find, and can’t figure out what the blazes it refers to”
Realization dawned in Xanders’ eyes, as he began to laugh good naturedly “Not one hundred and forty-three - One … Four … Three” he said slowly. “You really researched that?” Xander sounded almost…wistful.
“Well yeah I researched it, after I asked Red, and …” Spike broke off suddenly.
“…Faith.” Xander finished “You can say her name you know. She and I are good, no worries. It was something I was going to tell her on the honeymoon.”
“So…spill” Spike motioned for him to continue.
“So then tell me already”
“It’s just something that I came up with when the jeweler asked me if I wanted it engraved” Xander shrugged, unwilling to explain further.
“Two bloody years I kept up with this thing and you're telling me it doesn’t mean anything?!?”
“I didn’t say it doesn’t mean anything. It actually means everything, at least to me. The jeweler asked me what I wanted to say to the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and it was the first thing that popped into my head.”
“You’re not even going to give me a hint, are you?” Spike said resignedly.
“Uh – uh, buddy. Tell you what, why don’t you keep the ring until you figure it out. If you still want it after that, it’s yours.”
“You want to spend the rest of your life with me?” Spike said teasingly
Xander snorted, but Spike caught the unmistakable whiff of arousal from Xander, and heard his heart speed up. Spike’s shoulders tensed, this was an unexpected complication. Not entirely unwelcome, just…inopportune.
Xander noticed the change in Spike immediately, and had a pretty good idea of the cause. “Look, I’m really tired, and I need to go to bed.” He stood up, “I’m really sorry that she’s gone, Spike. I know you loved her. And don’t worry about the one four three thing. You’ll figure it out eventually. When you do, just…” Xander paused as he put his glass down on the bar, and slung his duffle bag over his shoulder “Just know that whatever you do with the information is fine with me.”
And with that, he was gone again, leaving Spike alone with his thoughts.
3 Conversation in Flesh
Xander gets back to his hotel and gets a surprise. Takes place about a year after Conversation in the Parlor.
It was beyond late when Xander got back to the hotel. It was a testament to how late he was, because the lobby was deserted, and no one ever slept in Madrid. He’d been out all night in the outskirts of town tracking down a set of ancient spell books that may have survived the Inquisition. He’d managed to find them concealed behind a false panel on the altar of a crumbling church. Giles was still trying to rebuild the council’s library, so even vague rumors of mystical books were ruthlessly investigated.
He headed to the front desk. He knew he looked grungy with his eye patch, and too long hair. And his clothes had gotten dusty from poking around the old church. The books were thankfully dust and grime free. They were now safely nestled in his backpack.
He was looking forward to taking a shower and going to bed. And he was seriously thinking about skipping the shower. Dawn mentioned sending him something, but she’d been cryptic about what. Xander had to wait at the counter for several minutes before the night clerk wandered back to the front desk from where-the-hell-ever. Xander was exhausted, and really didn’t want to deal with the language barrier. “Mensajes. Dos cero tres” he pieced together in his limited Spanish. He knew he was asking for messages, but he honestly couldn’t remember the word for packages.
Instead of a package as he’d expected, the clerk handed him one of those cardboard envelopes for an electronic room key. He opened it but all he found was a room key, no message, and in the space labeled Sitio/Rm was the number 143.
He was confused. He thought he’d said the right room number. He had his own room key, number 203. He reached back and confirmed that it was still in his back pocket. He shook his head, and tried to hand the other keycard back, but the clerk was insistent.
“Sí, sí,” the kid repeated firmly. Then he said “Alejandro” he said pointing to the key, and then at Xander “Para Alejandro”.
Xander looked back at the key, trying to get his exhausted brain to figure out what the hell was going on. And then it clicked. 143… Spike.
Spike was here, and had figured out the inscription. Xander’s heart sped up, his exhaustion forgotten. Spike was here, and he had figured out the inscription. Spike had invited Xander in his hotel room after he’d figured out the inscription. Room 143. It couldn’t be a coincidence, could it?
He thanked the kid, and headed off toward the elevator. He was anxious and nervous, but above all, full of hope.
He stood outside the door, suddenly nervous, unsure what to do. He wanted to knock, in case he’d misunderstood, he could just fall back into the supportive friend role. But Spike had given him the key, so he had obviously wanted Xander to come in.
“Screw it” he said, and slid the key into the lock. It took an eternity for the light to flash from red to green. He pulled the card out, opened the door, and went in. The door swung automatically shut behind him, closing with a snick.
“Took you long enough.” Spike said teasingly. He was standing well away from the door wearing only a pair of loose drawstring pants. Xander swore his heart skipped a beat.
“Apparently you were spending the extra time getting the honeymoon suite ready” Xander joked back. Every flat surface in the room had several fat white candles flickering merrily, and on one table sat a bottle of champagne chilling in a bucket.
Spikes jaw tightened, and his face fell a bit. “I thought…”
Xander cut him off “…Right. You thought right,” he said reassuringly. “I spent the last few minutes in the hall hoping like hell I didn’t misunderstand. Please tell me I didn’t misunderstand.”
Spike held up his left hand. He’d moved the ring to his ring finger. “One…Four…Three” he said simply.
Xander’s bag dropped.
One was the number of seconds it took for them to be in each others arms.
Four was the number of seconds it took for them to frantically get all their clothes off.
Three was the number of times they bumped into furniture in their haste to get to the bed.
They tumbled into bed, hands roaming ceaselessly. Lips met, tongues touched, then separated as they wandered off to caress and taste any bit of flesh they could find.
Xander rolled them over, so he was on top, cradling his hips between Spikes splayed legs. Both groaned as their sensitive flesh came into contact, grinding their hips together.
Xander felt his skin tighten, suddenly two sizes too small, making every touch like fire. Pre-come slick-smoothed the way as their cocks danced frantically. Slip up – press forward - slide back. Over and over again – tempo increasing deliciously as their need increased.
Xander wanted to slow down, savor this moment that he’d been too afraid to hope for, but he couldn’t hold on. Spike was licking and nipping at his face and neck, his hands cupping Xander’s ass tightly, pulling him closer even as he ground his hips up savagely.
Then their lips met again, crashing together, tongues wetly stroking. Both were moaning incoherently. Spike slid a hand up Xander’s back, threading his fingers through the dark hair, tightening his hand into a fist as he drew Xander’s head down even closer.
The passion and desperation in that act was too much for Xander. He spilled, bathing Spikes belly and cock in his release. The hot rush of cream baptizing Spikes cock triggered Spikes more tepid release, seemingly in endless spurts.
They both came down, still thrusting wetly, sensitive flesh twitching in pleasant aftershock. Kisses became more gentle, until Xander pulled away and rested his head on Spike’s shoulder.
“Mmmm” Xander said, bringing his hand up to stroke the hair at the nape of Spikes neck. “Love this. Love you” he murmured. His brain was getting muzzy. He tried to shake his head, to remain awake, but Spike was stroking his hair gently.
“Shh, love. Go to sleep. ‘m not going anywhere.” Gentle kiss placed on the top of his head.
“M’kay” was the only response before Xander’s breathing evened out, and he fell into a deep sleep.
Xander woke lying on his side, with the cool sensation of Spikes tongue wetly tracing patterns on his back, and his hard cock gently grinding into the cleft of his ass.
“Thought you’d never wake up” Spike said playfully, nipping at his shoulder blade. He maneuvered Xander over onto his belly, placing a couple of pillows underneath Xander’s hips.
Spike knelt between Xander’s legs, and that sweet tongue returned, no longer tracing playful messages across his back, but sliding purposefully down the valley of his spine. When it reached the swell of his ass, Xander felt Spikes cool hands come into play, spreading him open. He heard a swift intake of breath as he spread his thighs slightly wider to give Spike more access. His cock, already at half mast from the tongue bath he’d awakened to, began to fill completely.
Using his knees, Spike gently nudged his thighs even further apart. Gently his thumbs stroked Xander’s sensitive crease. As the cool air of the room caressed his balls, Xander realized that sometime while he slept, Spike must have cleaned him off. The thought of Spike touching him so intimately while he slept made him even harder.
“So beautiful,” Spike murmured, one thumb moving to brush gently over Xander’s hole, pressing in slightly, then moving away. He repeated the gesture, alternating thumbs until Xander was thrusting his hips up in anticipation of the next contact. On Xander’s next up thrust, Spike kept his thumbs dancing on the edge of the sensitive flesh of Xander’s hole, pressing lightly. He stroked his tongue against the opening.
Xander tried to simultaneously open himself even more, and thrust up against the slick muscle that was gently bathing his anus. Spike would rasp his tongue against his opening while sliding his thumbs down to stroke his perineum and brush his sensitive balls.
It was maddening. As soon as Xander felt like he had processed one new sensation, Spike was moving on to stimulate him in another way. A cool pointed tongue probing, slipping gently in, morphed into a rough tongue just grazing the now twitching puckered flesh, replaced by a cool breeze of forced air. Finally, Xander was reduced to brokenly pleading “Please” over and over.
He never even heard the tube of lube snick open. He just felt a single slick finger gently breech him, slowly working back and forth.
“God, yes. More baby, please more” Xander thrust back, impaling himself on the invading digit. He rocked back and forth, loving the feeling of being stretched. A second finger joined the first, scissoring back and forth, opening him even wider. Every few strokes, Spike would brush against Xander’s sweet spot. Swift addition of a third finger, and Xander could barely speak.
“Ready for me, sweet?” Spikes voice was ragged. “Say yes. Please say yes. I need you, precious, need to be in you.”
“Yesssssss,” Xander hissed, nearly sobbing, “need you, too.”
Spikes fingers slid out, and he quickly slicked himself. He lined his cock up and pressed just the head in, trying to be gentle as he forced himself through the guardian ring of muscle. As soon as Xander felt Spike’s thick cock begin to breech him, he pushed up onto all fours, and thrust back as hard as he could, impaling himself fully. He felt his burning internal muscles rippling and clenching, trying to adjust to the size of Spike’s cock.
“Christ, yeah” Spike swore. He couldn’t hold back any longer, he gripped Xander’s hips hard, pulling him back and forth brutally, thrusting himself in and out with wild abandon. Xander swore he saw stars when Spike suddenly switched the angle of his thrusts, and was banging forcefully on his prostate. He barely felt one of Spikes hands leave his hip and gasped when the cool hand grasped his leaking cock, slip-sliding down the shaft, then back up, roughly dragging across the sensitive head, and back down again.
Their frenzied coupling intensified with Spike's grunts becoming peppered with breathless whispers, “Come on, sweet. Come for me. Want to feel you come, hot in my hand, clenching tight around me.”
The hand on Xander’s cock slid all the way down to the base, thumb rhythmically pressing slightly into the crease, while the rest of his fingers curled to cup Xander’s balls, alternately stroking and squeezing the tight sack gently. The sensation was too much, and Xander came. Spurt after spurt shot out soaking the pillows and sheets below him.
As soon as he felt Xander’s muscles clench and release tightly around his cock, Spike roared. He brought his hand back up to Xander’s hip, and savagely thrust in – once, twice, three times before his orgasm overwhelmed him and came pouring out, bathing Xander’s insides with his release.
Xander slumped on the bed, bringing Spike with him.
Hours later, both were freshly washed, and housekeeping had re-sheeted the bed. Xander was lying nude on his belly, facing the TV, watching Scooby-doo. The sound was muted, because he’d tried watching it in Spanish, but that was just wrong.
Xander was relaxed for the first time in what felt like forever. Head pillowed on his arms, comfortably sore in all the right places. Every time he thought about the bruises that dotted his hips, he grinned and got half hard.
Spike was lying on the bed next to him, head propped up on one hand, idly doodling on his back with his other. When a commercial came on, Spike spoke “I never really answered your question. The one about marriage,” he paused for a moment, reflecting “I never did think about it. Before, I mean. It was like you said, just a picture, something that was expected of me. This is what I thought about, though, all the time, being warm.” He paused again, and said softly. “Being loved.”
Xander turned his head, to look at Spike. “That’s ok. I never told you that I knew that Faith was going to walk out on me. She never said anything, but I knew.
“I’d been thinking about you ever since Andrew said you were back. I knew we’d probably never have a shot, but I hoped. I honestly thought you’d pawn the ring, or give it to Dawn or something. The 1 4 3 was just…wishful thinking. Hoping things might eventually go my way for once. I was shocked to see you were wearing it. Mark and I had just broken up because I couldn’t get over thinking about you, and he knew it. I wanted to tell you so badly what it meant that night when you asked. It was like a sign that things might change into something more for us, but …”Xander broke off
“..it wasn’t time” Spike finished.
“So, how did you figure it out? The 1 4 3?” Xander asked, curiously
“You said it meant everything to you. One day, ‘bout six months after you left. ‘Bit made a comment about how similar you and I were.” He smiled “We’d both sent her the same birthday card.”
“The one with the guy, and the thing? Damn…it took me forever to find that.”
Spike chuckled “’s not the point,” and smacked Xander gently in the back of the head “Point is…it made me realize what meant everything to me.”
“So what brought you here, though?” Xander asked, hesitantly, as if he was afraid of the answer.
“Knew you were interested, just wasn’t sure I was.” Spike paused when Xander tensed, and kissed his hair. “Not really looking to get hurt again,” he admitted
Spike didn’t speak. He started doodling on Xander’s back again. Xander realized after a few minutes that Spike wasn’t randomly tracing patterns on his back; he was spelling something out, over and over. When he realized what he was writing, Xander smiled and counted… I (one) Love (four) You (three).
When Spike realized that Xander had gotten his message, he stopped writing and curled around Xander, wrapping his arm around him and resting his cheek on Xander’s shoulder. He answered “It’s worth the chance.”
A/N: The origin of 1 4 3 (as far as I know) is from a guy I used to work with. I believe he had it engraved in his wedding ring and his kids used to write it in the pictures they would draw him. It drove me nuts because I could never get him to say what it meant. When I finally figured it out, I thought it was so sweet, but also such a guy thing. I thought it would be something perfect for Xander, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he wouldn’t want to jinx himself by putting his feelings into words.
Epilogue - Anniversary
“Spike…Where’d you put the…” Xander stopped suddenly. The bed was covered in red rose petals and one, very pale, very naked Spike.
“What were you looking for, love?” Spike asked, innocently.
“Got you a gift.” Spike slowly ran his long fingers down the bare expanse of his chest, over the rippled muscles of his abdomen. Instead of coming to rest on his thick length, Spike lifted a black velvet box from the comforter.
Wordlessly, Xander crossed to the bed, taking the proffered box.
“It’s been ten years, love. ‘Bout time you wore a ring.”
The silver metal glinted dully in the lamplight. Xander smiled when he saw the numbers 1 4 3 engraved on the outer surface, twisted together like an elegant monogram. “It’s heavy.”
“It’s tungsten. Won’t ever break.”
Spike took the ring and slipped it onto Xander’s finger. “So…what were you looking for?” he asked, casually.
Xander pressed a kiss to his lover’s lips. “Doesn’t matter. I have everything I need right here.”
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