Written for Spring with Xander, 2006
I am the Bug Man
Xander fingered his neck as he stared in the bathroom mirror. He scowled and dropped his hand to the cool tile of the sink. The smooth, unbroken skin mocked him. He twisted the faucet on and haphazardly splashed water on his face, wishing he could wash out his thoughts as easily, but he couldn't shrug off his guilt or the oppressive feeling of never being good enough. He roughly toweled off his skin before leaving the tiny bathroom to return to the dingy living area of the basement. Flopping down on the couch, he pressed the buttons on the TV remote, hoping for something with action or sex enough to distract him. He glanced at the ceiling, imagining his parents semi-conscious in the den above him, and internally cursed at needing to keep the sound low as he flipped through the channels.
"Fucking vampires," he muttered, mentally excluding Spike from that invective. Then he changed his mind and threw him in with the rest.
Unable to focus on the infomercials pouring from the television, he got up and yanked open the door to his mini-fridge. He had brushed his teeth until his gums bled, but the taste of bug parts still lingered on his palate. Empty. Damn. Gum, he needed gum. Or maybe he could just sit down with a tube of toothpaste and suck on that till his mind forgot that daddy-long-legs tasted better than houseflies.
A quick rummage through the basement turned up no gum or mints of any sort, so he shrugged and grabbed the toothpaste from the bathroom and settled back down onto the couch.
He stared at the tube in his hand and fought down the urge to go out and pummel something, anything. Check. No more butt-monkey. Buffy's laughter reverberated in his head. Two seconds alone with the Dark Mast...with Dracula, and he had basically rolled over and presented his underbelly, ready to do anything to win the approval of that undead bastard. Xander shuddered. Hyenas, Halloween costumes, fucking vampires. Seems like he was just born to give up control. He quashed the feeling of acceptance, of being chosen, wanted, that still crept in as he remembered being in thrall to the legendary vampire. It's this whole thing where I get to be immortal. Thinking back, he realized that promise was never spoken by the vampire himself. Somehow that only made it worse. He really was just one of Drac's bug-eaters. One of those poor saps he and Spike had mocked only several weeks before.
"He makes them eat bugs??" Xander sputtered through his coughing fit. At least he had managed to keep from sending beer spouting through his nose when Spike mentioned that tidbit. "You mean that Renfield movie stuff is true??"
Spike racked the balls on the pool table and grinned.
"Don't know about Renfield himself, now, but I did meet a few bug-eaters in my time. Handy to have around." Spike lined up his shot and took it in a quick, smooth motion. "Better than exterminators, those guys were."
"You're so full of shit, Spike." Xander set down his beer and reached for his cue, sternly telling himself that he was not watching the denim-clad ass leaning over the pool table. "You never met Dracula."
"Did so. Wanker owes me eleven pounds."
"Oh yeah? What for?"
"Sure you wanna hear this?" Spike purred. "It's a tale of seduction and blood. Not for the faint of heart."
Xander rolled his eyes. "Hello. Went out with a life-sucking mummy Princess and nearly got eaten by a giant preying mantis, not to mention dated an ex-vengeance demon . I'm no stranger to blood or seduction."
"Right then." Spike grinned to himself as Xander took his turn at the table. So far, so good. A month of summer evenings pounding on fledglings followed by beer and pool at the Bronze had brought the two men closer together. Anya had left the boy and returned to the vengeance fold over the Initiative drama, claiming that the mortal world was full of too many unstable sickos, and Spike had decided to follow up on her tantalizing "Viking in the sack" description of Xander. The boy had grown up nicely, not that he hadn't always had a dark beauty, and Spike knew he had an inexplicable thing for dark hair and eyes. Drusilla, Cecily, hell, even Angelus. At the same time, he couldn't help but be drawn to the purity of heart, the loyalty that underlay the man's relationships to the other Scoobies. Spike resonated with that devotion. He had felt the same toward his vampire family, when they let him, and he struggled against the temptation to let himself fully feel the same toward the Slayer's little family. Nothing was worse than being devoted to someone who rejected that devotion, and he knew that he hardly made a welcome addition to the Slayer circle.
Spike watched Xander lean down to take his shot, and he considered how to spin out this tale. Tonight he planned to get a read on just how immune Xander Harris was to the thought of a bit of rough and tumble with another bloke, specifically with him, and the last encounter with Dracula would provide a gauge on whether Harris would be squicked or intrigued. Of course, he had his suspicions, and this little game was hardly necessary, but making the boy blush and struggle to mask his arousal was just too much damn fun to pass up.
"Must have been around 1915, early on in the war, Dru and me were in London. Just got into town after things got a bit hot in Russia. Bloody curfews made feeding there a nuisance."
Xander snorted unsympathetically, which Spike ignored.
"'Course back home in London, Dru got all nostalgic for her Daddy. Stupid ponce had been gone for 20 years, and soon as we get into town, she decides the stars are telling her that he's waiting for her to come back to where he found her. Couldn't get her out of that soddin' convent for weeks. She knew Angelus had a thing for nuns. Funny as hell watching her play with them, made 'em into friends for Miss Edith."
Xander missed his shot, and Spike moved to play his turn.
"Not that I'm not loving the trip down memory lane, but Dracula does make an appearance in this story, right?"
"Keep yer shorts on. I'm setting the stage here." Spike concentrated on the cue ball and shot. "I got sick of being surrounded by all those silly bints caterwauling, but Dru refused to let me kill 'em, saying we had to save 'em all for Daddy or he wouldn't come. Daft girl." Spike smiled fondly, then scowled. "So I left her there, playin' dress up, killed a couple of the priests and went to get pissed. Only no one told us that the good Count had taken up in London, and my luck being what it is, I stumbled into his favorite haunt."
Spike sunk the eight ball and leaned his cue against the wall. He gestured Xander over to a table, swigging from his bottle of JD as he followed, lamenting the baggy cargo pants that obscured Xander's ass. They settled in chairs opposite one another, and Spike placed the bottle down between them.
"I'm sitting in a dark corner of this pub, watching, drinking an almost decent pint of bitter, when this couple walks in. Sodding gorgeous, the both of 'em, clinging to each other. And the misery, fuck, it was beautiful. The bloke was an officer, all dressed up in uniform, perfect. He leads the woman to a table, goes to the bar to get drinks, and she can't take her eyes off him, watching him walk through the crowd, tears sliding down her cheeks until he turns around and smiles. He comes back to her, and they just sit, heads bent together, despair pouring off 'em. I know they're gonna be mine. I watched 'em for an hour, him gently brushing his fingers through her hair, stroking her face." Spike ran his fingers suggestively up and down the side of the whiskey bottle, noting Xander shift in his chair. "Then they get up to leave, and I follow them outside when a fucking bat flaps by me and, poof, there's this gypsy bugger all black cape flowing and smoldering eyes. He tells me to back off, go back to the gutter, that the girl is his. Pompous ass. Then he won't even stand still and let me pummel him like a decent vamp. Does his whole dissolving into smoke shite."
"Wait a minute, bat? Smoke? You're joking. Hellmouth boy here, remember? Vamps only do that in the movies." Xander shook his head.
"Showy gypsy stuff. Nothing to do with being a vamp. Now do you wanna hear this?"
Xander swallowed and shifted in his seat again. He couldn't help but watch Spike's delicate fingers around the neck of the bottle as he tipped it up to his mouth. He blinked. Must have had more to drink than he thought if the listening to Spike lust after this soldier guy and his girl had him worked up.
"Yeah, by all means, go on," he affected nonchalance.
"So I tell him that I don't need some trumped up ponce of a vamp to give me permission to feed, and he laughs at me. Says I couldn't take either of 'em even if he let me. See he'd been doing his whole thrall thing, seducing the girl, turning the guy into one of his bug-eaters, not that he called him that. But I saw the guy reach out and pluck a spider off the lamp-post they were standing under while the Count was busy expostulating. Bloody funny that. Girl never saw a thing, and the guy looked like he'd just swallowed Slayer blood, virgin Slayer blood at that. So I bet him my bar tab that I could get either one of them, and he stepped out of the way all smug-like."
"How did you know you could do it?" Xander couldn't help but be skeptical.
Spike smirked and raised an eyebrow.
Xander rolled his eyes. "Right, forgot you're sex on a stick."
"Ah pet, you say the nicest things," Spike purred, enjoying the flush that spread up Xander's cheeks and the musky arousal that tinged the air. He watched the man swallow the remainder of his beer, throat undulating attractively. Rather than pursue the arousal, he surreptitiously adjusted his own erection and returned to his tale.
"So bat boy flutters off to the rafters, and I follow my prey till the bloke leaves his chit at her place with a goodbye kiss."
"And she just invited you in for a night of madcap monkey love?" Xander snorted, amused at his own joke. When Spike looked at him oddly, he glanced at the beer and tried to remember how many he had had that night. There was a chance that he was just a little bit drunker than he meant to get.
"Nah, wasn't after her, was I?" Spike winked, and there went that luscious blush again.
"You went for the bug eating dude?"
"This from the git who actually dated a bug-woman," Spike drawled.
"Touché." Xander acquiesced and reached for the whiskey bottle, taking a long drink. If he was gonna have to listen to Spike recount man on man action, maybe he wasn't drunk enough.
"'Sides, there was a lot more to this bloke than just munching on spiders. He was a right treat all done up in his uniform. All despairing dark eyes and a mouth made for snogging or howling." Spike's eyes glazed over as he remembered following the scent of desperation and sorrow that trailed off the man. "But the bug bit worked in my favour, as it turns out. Gathered up a couple of roaches and a spider or two." Spike snorted in amusement. "Drac's thrall didn't discriminate about where he got the critters, and all I had to do was drop a couple in his hand to get his attention."
"Okay, and that is in no way the most disturbing method of seduction I've ever heard of." Xander shuddered and brushed at his arms as if he felt the bugs from Spike's story crawling up his arms.
Spike's eyes crinkled with laughter, but he continued without comment. "After that, it was no trick to get him talkin' about shipping out, leaving his girl, feeling scared and lonely, not to mention unsatisfied by the proper bint who wouldn't dream of a bit of slap and tickle without a white wedding first. 'Course, he didn't say it in so many words. Easy enough to tell he was hard and wanting."
"How did you get him to want you instead of her?" Xander spoke without thinking, his mind already tossing out images of Spike swapping spit with a dark-haired man.
Spike slid his fingers suggestively up and down the neck of the whiskey bottle once more, remembering the feel of the soldier's warm skin as he had offered comforting touches.
"Pulled him after me into an alley, pushed him up against the wall, and snogged the breath out of him," he grinned fondly. "Hell, Xan, I'd forgotten what it was like kissing a human, all that heat."
The smoldering arousal flared into an erection so hard it suddenly ached as Xander heard his name slip from Spike's pale lips. He managed to stifle a gasp at the desire to taste those lips himself, and he felt an unexpected jealously toward that faceless man from so many decades ago. He forced his thoughts away from vampire kissage.
"So you what, drained him and brought the body back to Dracula to win the bet?"
"What kinda vamp do you take me for?" Spike affected an affronted look.
Xander responded with another roll of his eyes. "Right, forgot you're the not-so-big-bad."
"Shut it, you wanker." Spike took an angry drink from the bottle, not sure why Xander's stark description of the encounter bothered him so much.
Recognizing that he had offended the vampire, Xander frowned. "Sorry. Your story. I'll shut up now."
"I didn't kill the bloke, alright? Sent him off to war with a few good memories, a couple bite marks, and a sore ass. No idea if he ever made it back to his girl." He shook off the melancholy. Stupid to be concerned about a one night fling taken up on a dare, no matter how appealing the man had been. Christ, he really was going soft.
"Wow, that's almost a nice story."
"Yeah, well, never got the money Drac owed me. Poncy bastard didn't even have the decency to admit that I'd beat him. Said it didn't count if the prey walked away. Fucking wanker." Spike swigged from the whiskey bottle.
"Damn, I thought Dracula was supposed to be all cool and mysterious. There goes another childhood myth."
"Sorry to disillusion you, mate."
Xander shrugged. "So, erm, did you do that a lot?"
"What?" Spike struggled to follow the man's line of thought, but the recurring blush and sharp arousal had him distracted once more.
"You know, um, with guys?" Xander cursed his stammering and blamed the booze for blurting out the question in the first place. And yep, there went that damn sexy eyebrow quirk again.
"Only the ones that strike my fancy." The vampire practically purred. Oh yeah, he'd have the boy eating out of his hand in no time.
The evening ended soon after with the bartender making last call. Escorting Xander back home may not have had them encountering any demons, but raging erections brought their own distractions that found relief only much later in solitary and separate beds.
"Evenin' Slayer." Spike leaned up against the mausoleum and took a deep drag from his cigarette before tossing it aside.
"Spike, what do you want now?" Buffy hardly spared him a glance as she gazed around the cemetery.
"Heard you ran into an old pal of mine last night." He moved to stand directly in front of her, ignoring the other Scoobies with her.
"What are you talking about?"
"Dracula," Riley interjected. "Seems he and Spike here go way back."
"That's right," Spike didn't bother looking at the ex-commando, fixing his gaze instead on Buffy's neck. "Look's like you let him get awful close to you, luv."
Buffy's left hand flew to her neck as she shoved the smirking vampire away with her right.
"Have you eatin' bugs, too, did he?"
"Hardly," Riley snorted. "Xander's the bug-man. Buffy kicked Drac's gypsy ass right outa town while Giles made time in the vamp chick pit." He grinned at the memory of the very British librarian drooling over three vampire tramps.
Spike's eyes flew to Xander, who refused to meet his gaze. Instead he shifted his weight from one foot to another and stared fixedly at the stake he twisted in his hands. Anger and shame poured off him.
"Is there anything else, Spike? 'Cause otherwise I've got an appointment with some demons who are actually dangerous." Buffy cut the conversation short, not wanting to dwell on the conversations she'd had with Dracula. The two enemies stared one another down.
"Uh, fascinating as this is, I think I'm gonna call it a night, Buff. Gotta get up early for work and all," Xander interrupted the staring contest, flashing a weak attempt at a grin.
"Are you alright to walk home?" Buffy turned quickly.
"Sure, got my trusty stake, and a healthy sense of self-preservation. No worries for the Xan-man."
"See you tomorrow?"
"Sure, yeah." Xander waved over his shoulder as he headed back toward the road.
"Let's go, I'm suddenly feeling the need to pummel something that can hit back." Buffy set off across the cemetery with Riley trailing behind.
"Looks like I'm never gonna get that eleven pounds back," Spike sighed and stalked off after his miserable friend.
He caught up with Xander at the cemetery gates.
"Come to give me a handful of roaches? Let me tell you, they're not half as good as spiders." Xander didn't turn to look at the vampire trailing after him.
The bitter comment took Spike aback. "Huh?"
"All that shell gets in the way of the blood." Xander turned and slammed his fist into the brick pillar of the cemetery gate. "Fuck!"
Spike reached out to grasp the wounded hand before Xander could punch the pillar again, but Xander yanked away. The vampire stilled as he watched the man struggle to control his frustration.
Xander stared at his scraped knuckles, transfixed by a drop of blood sliding slowly down a finger and over the back of his hand.
"Xander?" Spike spoke quietly, not wanting to elicit another outburst.
"Wanna taste?" Xander shoved his fist toward Spike, causing the vampire to recoil in surprise. "No? Not good enough for you either, is it." Before Xander could pull his hand back, Spike reached out to grasp his wrist.
"That what you think? Gypsy wanker didn't kill or turn you and it's 'cause you're not good enough?"
"Fuck off, Spike. You don't know anything." Xander couldn't bring himself to meet the vampire's eyes though he certainly felt the gaze that bore into him.
"Then tell me."
"Leave it alone. Leave me alone." Xander pulled away and stumbled slightly when Spike let go of his wrist.
A low chuckle brought them both up short. "So once again we see that what is mine cannot become yours."
Spike didn't bother with a verbal response as he launched himself toward Dracula, pleased to have a focus for his anger at being rebuffed by Xander. He bounced off the headstone behind the vampire as Dracula discorporated in swirls of smoke.
"Stand still you poncy bastard!"
"Like this?" Dracula's smooth tones sent a shiver down Xander's back as the vampire solidified behind him. He struggled to move away, but couldn't resist the pull of the enigmatic Dark Master.
"Xander, walk away. This is between me and bat boy here." Spike spoke in low, urgent tones. As much as he didn't like the idea of the man walking alone across Sunnydale, he liked him being around Dracula even less after what he had heard from Buffy and Riley.
Xander began to ease away, but hadn't walked more than a few steps before Dracula's voice stopped him. "No, stay."
"Leave him out of this."
"Why? You have already proven that you cannot take this one from me any more than you took the other."
"Uh, guys, there will be no taking of Xander. Not by Spike, not by you, Mast..." Xander choked off the honorific that jumped to his lips unbidden.
Spike growled as he watched Xander respond helplessly to Dracula's command.
"Now, you will watch as he comes to me." Dracula pushed up the sleeve on his left arm and quickly sliced across it with his right forefinger, causing blood to well up. Xander turned toward the intoxicating scent, desirous and repulsed simultaneously. He flashed a panicked glance at Spike. While he still couldn't speak, he hoped that the vampire could read the plea for help in his eyes. This was so wrong. Once again evil's butt monkey, and part of him wanted it, wanted desperately to be wanted, taken, owned. He couldn't fight against both himself and Dracula without help. He took another step toward the thick red blood that called to him.
"Xander. Xander!" Spike's command broke through the red fog that enveloped his senses. He flashed a glance at the other vampire only to have his gaze become fixated on the blood that welled in a matching cut on Spike's forearm.
"That's right, pet. Come to Spike." Spike spoke in a low croon, internally cursing the fact that he never had the thrall power that his sire had possessed. Hell, if she had been here, he would have had Dru thrall the boy to get him away from Dracula, no matter what the fallout would have been afterward.
Xander stood immobilized between the two vampires, fighting against the yearning to drink someone's blood, anyone's. As Spike took a step toward him, he noticed Dracula mirror the action on his other side. Despite the fact that he still couldn't speak, his internal monologue continued going strong. I don't want this. Don't want to drink blood from a vampire. Don't want to drink anyone's blood,his mind insisted against the overriding compulsion that seemed to control his body. Don't want to drink anyone's blood. His body wasn't listening as he kept breathing in the intoxicating scent of blood that surrounded him. He knew that he would have to make a choice, but the implications of that choice, the possibility of belonging to one or the other of the vampires, kept him momentarily immobilized with dread. Recognizing that he couldn't overcome the need for blood, he suddenly had a plan.
The two vampires stood impossibly still, waiting for the man to move. Suddenly, Xander reached into his back pocket and with quick, shaking hands pulled out his pen knife, flicked it open and dragged it across his own arm, allowing blood to spill across his skin. Before it could pour down his arm, he raised the bleeding wrist to his mouth and drank deep.
As the warm metallic taste released him from the blood lust fogging his mind, Xander darted his glance from one vampire to the other. Both stood with the same stupefied expression, staring at him, and he couldn't help it. He laughed, only to choke on the blood filling his mouth, sending it painfully spraying out his nose.
"Ouch! Out the nose! Out the nose!"
Spike stared at the giggling, coughing man and strode over to whack him on the back a couple times, partly to help with the choking, partly to give over to the urge to thump him for the idiocy of his actions.
"Bloody hell, Harris." Spike shook his head and grabbed the bleeding arm, wrapping it with a handkerchief that he pulled from the depths of his coat.
"This one is too strange and off-putting. You may have him."
"Gee thanks," Xander struggled to control the giggling as he wiped a sleeve across his face to remove the blood he had snorted out his nose. "But I'm kinda thinking since the only blood I drank was my own, that there's not so much with the belonging to any vampire tonight." His voice turned hard. "So maybe you should just fuck off to Transylvania or wherever Buffy can't find you if I decide to tell her about tonight."
Dracula glared but transformed to a bat in a puff of smoke and flew away.
"Wanker." Spike shook his head and continued to apply pressure to Xander's wound.
"Guess you're still not gonna get that eleven bucks."
"Pounds," Spike corrected distractedly.
"Yeah?" Spike finally looked up to meet the condemnation he expected to see in his friend's eyes. He found confusion and exhaustion instead.
"What would you have done if...if I had...you know..." Xander's eyes slid to the still bleeding cut on Spike's arm.
"You mean, would you have become my 'butt-monkey'?" Spike smirked only to soften his expression as Xander blushed and began to draw away. "Nah, pet, wouldn't have done anything. A taste of vamp's blood isn't gonna do you any harm. Probably wouldn't do you much good either, come to think. But that wasn't about blood, just about Drac trying to have some control over you. He woulda made you believe that his blood had some kinda power. My guess is my blood woulda done the same thing yours did. Just break the thrall with a taste of reality."
"Oh." Xander gently pulled his arm from Spike's ministering hold. Spike cocked his head and considered his companion. He sounded almost disappointed. Before Xander could fully turn away, Spike stepped closer, not touching but bringing his body scant inches from Xander's own. He reveled in the heat that emanated from the man, and his thoughts turned back to the seduction that had been progressing so promisingly before Drac swooned into town.
"Don't need to drink your blood to want you, Xander. Don't need you to drink mine to bring you to me, do I?"
Xander shivered at the low, provocative voice. "You want..."
"Wanted you for months. Watched you. Waited for you. Wasn't gonna give you over to that gypsy bastard." Spike hooked three fingers over Xander's belt and pulled their groins together, enjoying the hardness and heat. "Wanted you for my own."
Xander's arms moved to encircle the hard body in front of him without him making any conscious decision to do so. His heart hammered in his chest, and he felt intoxicated, unsure as to whether this moment was any more real than the illusions woven by Dracula. He let his face dip forward to rest in the crook of Spike's neck, breathing in the vampire's scent as he attempted to make sense of the sensations and desires coursing through him.
"Want you," he mumbled into the cool skin. Please let this be real. Want to be wanted. Need that.
"Shh, pet." Spike stroked calming hands over the shuddering back. "Been a long night. Let's get you home." Xander nodded against his shoulder before taking a deep, shaky breath and moving to step away.
Spike stopped him before the man could put any distance between them. He looked into wary and wanting eyes and without any further thought, he leaned forward to press his lips against Xander's in reassurance and promise. The kiss deepened as tongues made silent, slippery vows to one another.
After long moments, they separated and without further discussion began the walk home, where this time, the anticipatory mutual erections had the promise of finding relief together.