Listening and Lies
Xander was practically skipping toward the factory the following night. This had been a great day. Great day! And getting a C+ on a chemistry test was actually the least exciting part of it. Everything else was even better!
His mother had been home when he woke up that morning and she had made him waffles for breakfast. Xander couldn’t remember the last time his mom had made breakfast. Then he answered a question about Hemingway correctly when he was unexpectedly called on in English class, and Willow had turned around and flashed a smile at him that caused a tremendous feeling of pride to flow through him. Then he was the one who found the information about the new demon in town during the Scooby research party after school, which allowed Buffy to know, not only where to find it, but how to kill it. Great day!
And that wasn’t even the best part! He couldn’t wait to tell Spike. He reached the factory quicker than usual, and it wasn’t until he was at the door that he realized he had forgotten to go by the butcher. Well, maybe there was still some leftover blood from yesterday. The vampire didn’t always drink everything in one day. He slid open the factory door and ran in, excited to tell Spike what was going on.
“Spike! Guess what happened…”
But the vampire wasn’t in the main room. This was supposed to be where he was sitting when Xander came by. Most of the time reading a book, or sometimes just staring into space, but he was always here. Xander turned toward Spike’s bedroom. Just then he got the surprise that he figured Spike had been talking about yesterday.
Spike came walking toward Xander out of the bedroom. Walking. Actually more like sauntering. He had his thumbs hooked into the belt loops of his jeans and he was moving just as slowly and casually as he had before the chair. Like absolutely nothing had happened. He stopped about two feet in front of Xander and held his arms out from his sides as if to say ‘check me out!’
“Do you like the surprise?”
“Good surprise! High marks!” Xander squashed the disturbing urge to close the small gap between them and hug the standing man. “How long?”
Spike put his arms down and crossed the room to the table to lean on a chair. “Couple of days, now. Once I was able to stand up without shaking, the rest came pretty quickly.”
“This is really great. I’m shocked and amazed. And impressed. So…this means you’re back to normal, right?”
“Great! That means you can leave the factory. Get yourself some cigarettes and…blood. You can hunt and feed again. That’s just…great.”
Spike took three big steps toward Xander and stood a few inches from his face. “Yeah. That’s what it means. But that’s not the deal, is it?”
“So, you’re leaving, then? We made a deal. I help get you better, then you leave.”
“That’s the arrangement. What’s the matter, kid? Gonna miss me?”
Xander backed a couple of steps away from the vampire. “Well…kinda got used to you being around.”
An odd silence fell between them. Xander couldn’t remember a time when they had nothing to say to one another. They were always talking.
Spike walked back to the table and sat on the edge. “Was there something you wanted to tell me? You were about to say something when you came in.”
Thankful for the distraction, Xander perked up when he remembered his own news. “Oh! Yeah! Hey! You’ll never believe it - Cordelia and I are back together!”
“Cordelia? The bitch that dumped you on Valentine’s Day?”
“That’s my bitch! She was standing in the middle of her Cordettes and they were insulting me as per usual, when she suddenly snapped. Called Harmony a sheep or something. Told them that she could date any loser she wanted and bam! she was walking down the hall on my arm. Got some major kissage tonight, too!”
“Well, this is a good day for both of us, innit, mate? I’m walkin’ and you're snoggin', right?”
"Yeah." Then the awkwardness was back. Xander had to find something to say, so he addressed the elephant in the room. “So, when are you leaving?”
“Couple of days, I guess. Hadn’t thought about it much, yet.”
“Okay. Do you know where you’re going?”
Spike hadn’t thought about that, either. He had actually been pretty excited to show Harris that he could walk again. It had been a hard secret to keep. He had waited until he was no longer off balance and everything was back to normal. He had completely forgotten that things were now…back to normal. So, where was he going to go? Where was there to go?
“Well, I could go back to England. It’s been a couple decades. Might be good to see the Mother Country again. I don’t know, really.”
“How about South America?”
“South America. Isn’t that where Drusilla said she was going? To see the jungles? If Cordy and I can get back together, that must mean there‘s hope for you two.”
Dru. Now that was a thought. “Not sure she really wants me. She fell apart after you killed Angelus.” Spike found himself remembering that night. He had hoped that the week’s worth of alcohol had eradicated the memory, but he realized it had just buried it for a while. And now, here it was - resurrected. “When word got back to us…she shrieked. Literally. Like a banshee, she was. I tried to comfort her, but she ran from me and locked herself in the room they shared upstairs. She didn’t stop shrieking for hours. When she finally came downstairs, she told our last minion to pack up her things. She took him and my car and never said a word to me. Not one word. She just left. I don’t really know if she went to South America.”
Xander had moved to lean against a pillar in the center of the room. Spike looked up at him and listened to his heartbeat. The time he’d spent with the kid this past month had been the most civilized he had ever been in 120 years. He had a vague memory of this kind of sane calmness when he was human. It was terribly wrong for a vampire to be this much in touch with his human side, so perhaps South America and Dru were good ideas. Get himself back in the vamp game.
But this heartbeat. And this boy. An actual friend. He’d grown accustomed to him. Looked forward to his visits. Liked telling him stories and even hearing the kid’s. There was so much more to tell and hear. That hyena story, for one. Would love to find out what that was all about. But if he stayed, then he could never feed. He had promised the boy.
There had to be some way. Some way to be a vampire and still keep this heartbeat near him. Spike could kidnap Harris. That was an option. But, then he would have the boy but not the heartbeat. Not the same kind of heartbeat. Kidnapping would scare him too much, Spike was sure of it. And fright meant fast beating pulse. If he wanted a fast beating pulse, he could get that from anyone. This boy was special. Wasn’t scared.
“You okay?” Harris asked after Spike’s eyes had glazed over with thought.
“Shh,” Spike was trying to figure this out and wanted to concentrate on the heartbeat quietly for a while longer. It occurred to him that this was probably the last time he would hear it. He really had no choice. Couldn’t find a way. If he stayed, he would have to start eating again. That would upset the kid, and he would stop coming around. Probably get dusted by the Slayer, too. Bump-bump, pause, bump-bump, pause. He was really going to miss that.
Miss this boy, too, he had to admit. Spike couldn’t keep the heartbeat, but maybe, just maybe…
Spike focused his eyes onto Harris. “Gonna miss you.”
Xander’s eyes widened slightly at that. “Yeah. Me, too. So you'll give South America a try? Maybe you can…write me? Tell me how you are. If you found Drusilla.”
“Yeah. I could do that. Have you ever considered…coming with me?”
“You know, get out of Sunnyhell. I could show you.”
“Show me what?”
“The world.” At that, the kid’s heart started to race. “What’s the matter?”
“You wanna turn me, don’t you?” The question was panic-stricken. Harris had pressed himself further back into the iron pillar and had an honest-to-god look of fear on his face.
“Hey, no!” Spike crossed the room instantly and grasped the boy's shoulders lightly. “No. Not what I was saying. Calm down.” The heartbeat continued to race. “Listen to me, Harris. Calm down.” It wasn’t helping. The heart continued to beat fast. Spike was not liking this. This was not the boy he knew.
"Xander…," he choked out hoarsely, placing his left hand gently on the boy’s chest. “Listen to me. You have to calm down. Do you feel this? Your heart. Do you feel your heart?” Xander nodded looking directly into Spike’s eyes. “This is why I won’t turn you. Your heartbeat. I like when it’s slow. It’s usually slow. Make it slow again. Can you do that, mate? Calm down for me.”
Xander took a deep breath. He continued to stare sharply into Spike’s eyes and apparently found what he was looking for. The heartbeat started to slow down. A relative calmness spread across the boy’s face and soon the pulse was back to its usual bump-bump, pause, bump-bump, pause.
Spike smiled and kept his palm resting on Xander’s chest. This was good. For the first time he was actually able to feel it. He closed his eyes and let the sensation of touch and sound fill his body. It was so quiet in the factory. Just Spike and this heartbeat. He created a fantasy in which he could pull that beautiful heartbeat from the boy’s body into his own. The thumping of Xander’s heart pulsated against Spike’s fingertips and palm and he wanted more. So much more.
Spike slid his right hand across the boy’s shoulder until his thumb was resting on the jugular. Miraculously, Xander kept his pulse steady. He opened his eyes and saw the kid was still staring at him with that same calmness. Never had a human trusted him so much.
“S’why I like you, Xander. This heartbeat. I hear it all the time. As soon as you’re close to me. I’ve been drowning in it for weeks. Won’t you come with me? Wanna keep you close. Safe. Wanna protect this heart.” Spike was suddenly getting very aroused. Okay, where is this coming from? He moved his lower half away from the boy slightly. This was not the message he was trying to get across. It wasn’t about sex, and he didn’t want Xander thinking that and getting scared again. “Come with me.”
Xander slowly raised his hand and rested it lightly on Spike’s neck, in the same place Spike had his hand on Xander’s. “No,” he answered. And it was a final, definite no. A no-arguments no. A no-more-heartbeat no.
Spike felt a kind of sad emptiness sweep through him. He was tired of losing the things that made him happy. He lost his human love. He lost his mother. He lost his poetry. He lost Angelus a century ago. He lost Drusilla. And now, this heartbeat. This boy. NO! Not the boy. I won’t lose the boy.
The feeling of loss must have showed on his face because Xander said, “Don’t be sad. It doesn’t look good on you. Doesn’t look right.”
Spike laughed a little. “Yeah. Gonna miss you.” Xander dropped his hand, seemingly expecting Spike to do the same, but he wasn’t ready yet. Still wanted more. Needed more.
“Hey, Spike. Wanna back away from me, now? This is getting a little weird.”
Spike pressed his hand more firmly into Xander’s chest. “No. Want to feel this more. Let me? A little longer?”
The kid gave him a skeptical look. “You’re wiggin’ me out, here.”
“Not meaning to. Leaving soon, and I want to remember this. This heartbeat.“
“I don’t understand. Will you explain?”
“Tired of explaining. Just let me feel. Okay?”
Spike closed his eyes again. If it was over, really over, he had to take something with him. Make it part of him. He opened his eyes and smiled at Xander. “Can I have a taste?”
“Taste. Ya know, one for road.”
“Promise I won’t have any human blood ‘til I’m out of the country. But give me a little something to sustain me. You know it’s been weeks.”
“Gonna make me beg, Xander? Don’t have to ask, ya know. Could take it right now if I wanted.” The boy’s pulse started to speed up a little. Spike moved his right hand from Xander's neck to his cheek. He stroked the boy’s skin slowly with the back of his hand. “Shh. Stay calm. Not gonna, though. Want your permission.” Xander was able to slow his heartbeat back down quickly.
“You’re not gonna get it.”
“Ya know…I think I am. Know why? I think you want me to. Bite you. You want to know what it‘s like. You‘ve been studying vamps for a long time now. You keep asking me questions about my past. Want my stories. Want to know about blood. Just one little bite. For you - so you‘ll know. For me - for strength, and memory.” Xander was looking at him thoughtfully.
“W-will it hurt?” he asked quietly.
“Not if I don’t want it to. A small bite. A little blood. Virgin blood, right?” Xander nodded slowly.
Spike moved his hand from Xander’s cheek, down his left arm and held the boy’s forearm tightly. “That a yes? To everything? A little taste before I go?” Xander licked his lips. Spike knew the answer before the kid said it, and he got even harder with anticipation.
“Yes,” came through Xander’s lips so softly that Spike wouldn’t have heard it if he weren’t a vampire.
This was too good. The chance to drink slowly from a warm body. To feel that calm beautiful heartbeat pump into his veins. He wanted this right now more that anything he could remember.
“Promise me something?” Spike asked into warm brown eyes. Xander nodded. “Promise you won’t get scared. Not gonna hurt you, so no reason to get scared, right? Just stay calm, okay?”
Spike broke the stare that they had shared for the past several minutes. He let his eyes fall to the pulse point that his thumb had been resting on. Joyfully, he watched the kid tilt his head to his right slightly to give better access. Good boy. That’s what I want. Spike moved the hand that had been resting on Xander’s chest down to grab the other forearm. An instinctual move to immobilize the victim. No victim here. Willing. Offering. Want. Take. Have. Good. Still, though, Spike kept his hands firmly on the boy's arms. Just in case.
He leaned down slowly and put his closed mouth on Xander’s neck. The feel of the pulse on his lips was exhilarating. Spike ran his tongue across his own lips which moistened the skin on the boy, as well. Xander gasped briefly, but the pulse didn’t quicken at all. So much control his boy had. This is just so good.
“Good,” Spike growled as he let his demon come out. He ran his fangs along Xander’s vein and felt the boy shiver beneath him. But still the slow and steady bump-bump, pause, bump-bump.
He opened his mouth a little wider and pushed into Xander’s skin. A small ‘pop’ signified entry, and the blood started flowing down Spike’s throat immediately. The boy’s pulse quickened slightly for a few beats then slowed back down. When the blood was back to its normal rhythm, Spike had to suck hard to get it to flow out of Xander. He took his time, though. Didn’t pull out more than each beat offered.
Then pin pricks, little pin pricks. Throughout his entire body. And warmth and heat and heartbeat. That glorious temporary heartbeat.
Soon the fantasy he had created for himself a few minutes earlier was coming true. Spike’s own veins were pumping slowly in unison with Xander’s. It was as if he had taken the boy’s entire heart and replaced his own dead one with it.
And he was alive. Bloody alive! Power - immortality - strength - want - need - sex - violence - kill - blood. And this time it would last. Last just a little longer. It was slow and good. He could take his time. Just stay calm, little boy, stay calm, for a little while longer. Just a little while longer.
Pop. Ow! That hurt! He said it wasn’t gonna hurt. Stupid vampire…Okay - it’s okay now. Wow. This doesn’t hurt. Doesn’t hurt anymore. Feels weird. Feels… wow…good. Feels good. Oh, god…feels so warm. Shouldn’t blood loss feel cold? I feel so warm. And…horny? God, not going there. This is good. Why didn’t we do this before?
Because he’s a vampire, WonderBoy! Or did you forget? Oh dear god - there’s a vampire sucking my blood. Not good! So not good. But feels good. Feels so good. I could do this for a while. Just a little while longer. Good…
Xander allowed no thought to enter his brain. Spike was making disturbing sucking noises, but other than that, there was no sound in the factory at all. The world was still. For a little while…
Okay. Wait. Too long. Too long! Getting colder now. This isn’t right. None of this is right.
“Wait.” No response from Spike. “Wait. No - wait - wait. Stop.” Xander felt the vampire grip tighter on his forearms. Really tight. Dad-bruise tight.
“Spike! Enough - stop now!” Still no change. Xander was getting scared. But Spike told him not to get scared. This wasn’t right, though. Not good, not good, not right. This is more than a taste. Scared now. Really, really, scared!
But he could feel his heartbeat wasn’t speeding up. He tried to make it go faster. Spike doesn’t like my fast heartbeat. Go faster and he’ll stop. But it wouldn’t go faster. Just wouldn’t. Oh, god. I’m losing too much blood. Not enough in me. Getting even slower now, isn’t it? Oh, god.
“Stop. Please, stop. Please. Spike, please, stop.” Xander tried to move. He tried to push his arms forward. He tried to twist his body down and away from Spike’s fangs. He tried, he really tried. Was it Spike’s strength? Or was he just too weak, now? Was he really trying hard enough? Too strong. Too weak. Oh, god. Wait.
Xander felt his legs start to shake. Not strong enough. No. Not ready. Not strong enough. He could feel the blood leaving his body now. Could feel each strong pull from Spike’s mouth. He was so cold. The rest of his body joined his legs in shaking. Spike’s mouth was so warm. Xander involuntarily pushed his body up toward the vampire’s mouth to get some of the warmth back. Spike moaned.
“Cold. Help me, Spike. I'm so cold.” Xander began sliding down the pillar. He thought he was falling. But it was too slow. He was being pulled. Pulled down. Then he was sitting on the floor and Spike was sitting in front of him. Fangs still buried deep into his flesh. Strong hands still held too tightly onto his forearms. Xander wanted to cry. He made a small effort to find the Mean-Xander buried deep within him, but it chose this time to not make itself available.
“Please. Stop. So cold. Spike. Help me.” Okay. This is silly. I’m on the floor. I think I should leave now. It’s time to go. “Think I’ll go home now.” Xander’s head fell backward and hit the iron pillar. “Ow.” He felt the grip on his arms lighten. “Can I go home now?”
The pulling was less now. Spike was still warm. The strong hands left his arms. Xander blindly reached up and rested a hand on the vampire’s chest. He felt a beat. Two beats.
Xander let out a gasp when Spike took his teeth out of his neck. He stayed still for a few moments. Two more beats from Spike’s chest. He lifted his head off the pillar and looked at the man’s face in front of him. Smooth sharp features. Blue eyes. Blood on the mouth. My blood.
“Wanna go home, now, Xander?” Spike asked softly.
Neither moved. A beat from Spike’s chest.
“That’s not fair,” Xander tried to focus on the vampire's blue eyes. “Not fair.”
“What’s not fair?”
“You stole my heartbeat.”
Spike smiled. Xander saw blood coating the vampire’s teeth. My blood.
“Not for long,” Spike brought a hand up and covered the one sitting on his chest.
“I thought -” Xander took in a sharp breath and Spike wrapped his fingers around the hand his was covering. “I thought we were friends.”
“I really hate you.”
“Not for long.”
“Did you get what you wanted?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
“I really hate you.”
“Not supposed -” another two quick sharp breaths and Xander started shivering again. This time Spike shuffled closer to him and wrapped an arm around his slightly shaking shoulders. His other hand still held Xander’s against the vampire’s chest.
“That better?” Spike asked.
Xander nodded. “You’re warm.” The shivering lessened. My blood. My blood made him warm. “Not supposed to go like this. I‘m one of the good guys.”
“Not for long.”
“Can I go home, now?”
“Yeah. Close your eyes.”
Xander gazed at Spike and marveled at the blue eyes sparkling with life. “I don’t trust you.”
“No reason you should, mate. Close your eyes.”
Xander was tired. He closed his eyes. I’ll go home and this won’t be happening anymore. My blankets will keep me warm and this isn’t happening anymore. He felt Spike let go of his hand. Time to go. Go home now.
Another ‘pop’ sound. Then something was against his mouth. An arm? A wrist. And it was wet. And it was warm. Good... Xander parted his lips. And it was wet. And it was warm. Soon there was nothing.
Read the Sequel
Fledglings and Family
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