Knocking On Heaven's Door

by
Emelye


Xander stood at the cemetery entrance patting his pockets. Stakes, check. Flask, check.

Xander upended it.

He walked in.

Predictably, he was beset on all sides within a matter of moments. Vampires, two or three, and a big grey demon with horns which was a nice touch, he thought. He had no idea what it was, of course, and very little chance of finding out before he was so much ground round, but he appreciated the variety.

The first vamp dusted almost by accident. He was just swinging the stake around and happened to catch a lucky hit. Xander had to smile a little at the symmetry of it all, staking his last vamp so much like his first.

His arms were eventually held down by the others. There was no hope of getting another lucky shot. The grey demon was more or less occupied with one of the vampires. Probably not keen on sharing.

He was a man in demand. It was a flattering way to go.

The demon’s head went flying in an impressive arc of innards and gore. Xander struggled to understand why he was still alive to appreciate it. More fighting. The vamps holding his legs were torn away.

“No, no, don’t get up on my account,” Spike groused, wading into the fray as Xander was dropped on his ass.

He didn’t get up. Xander pulled the flask from his coat pocket and took a drink as a vampire sailed over his head. Spike whirled and taunted and kicked and ducked and Xander was fucking exhausted to watch him. The show was old and he knew how it was going to end. Xander got to his feet—no one was watching anymore—and walked away.

Spike caught up to him about a block away. “Harris! Hey, I’m talking to you, mate!” Spike skidded to a stop beside him. Xander ignored him. Spike kept pace with him, eyes boring holes into the side of Xander’s head. He snorted. “No bother at all. Happened to be out and saw you having a bit of trouble. My fecking pleasure. No thanks necessary for services rendered.” Xander kept walking, realized he had no idea where he was going, and stopped. Spike apparently took this as a sign to continue. “Mind telling me what exactly I just saved your ungrateful arse from?”

Plan A was out the window. Dad’s gun was an option. He didn’t like it much for the mess, but it’d get the job done. Jumping wasn’t really possible. Not enough tall buildings in the Dale. Drowning had promise, but then he’d always been a strong swimmer and there wasn’t a guarantee he wouldn’t panic and then he’d be right back where he started from, only wetter. Hanging maybe. He could get some rope, head over to the old school. That’d be workable.

“XANDER!”

Xander realized Spike had been trying unsuccessfully to get his attention for a while. Xander pulled out his wallet and opened it out of habit before snorting and closing it. “Here,” he said, handing it over to Spike. “Consider us even.” Xander started walking in the direction of the school. Unless things had changed drastically from the last time he’d been around, there should still have been enough leftover fuse to make a noose. “Oh,” he added over his shoulder. “My pin numbers are all Buffy’s birthday.”

Spike didn’t pocket the wallet. “What the bloody hell is wrong with you?”

Jesus, couldn’t a man just kill himself in peace? “I’m pretty sure you’ve got a couple days to max my credit cards and drain my accounts before they’re frozen. Better get a move on.”

Spike threw the wallet on the ground. “I didn’t ask for your money, whelp, I asked you a question! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

This was so much more hassle than Xander was prepared for. “I’m killing myself. Do you mind?”

Whatever Spike had been expecting to hear it clearly wasn’t that. He blinked confusedly a few times. “What do you mean you’re killing yourself?”

I mean my life is worthless and I’m trying to be proactive about it.”

Spike snorted. “An’ you think you’ll be more worthwhile toes up?”

“I have no future here. No purpose anymore. My friends don’t need me anymore, not that they ever did, but certainly not now. I have no education, no job, no family to stick around for. My life is meaningless and empty.”

“Well, aren’t you a sodding barrel of laughs.” Spike bent down and picked up the wallet, brushed it off and stuffed it in his coat pocket.

Xander chuckled silently. “Have a good unlife Spike.” Xander started walking again.

“Wait,” Spike called after him. “Can I watch?”

Xander stopped again. “You want to watch me kill myself?”

Spike shrugged. “Yeah. Vicarious thrill, and all that.”

That was creepy, but, “What the hell. If you want I’ll even let you kick the chair out from under me.”

“Really? You mean that?”

Xander shrugged apathetically. “Sure. Knock yourself out.”

The coil of fuse line was right where he remembered it. It was frayed in places near the center where it looks like there had been a nest of mice. Xander didn’t figure he needed much. He found the end of the line and began fashioning a noose. Xander presumed Spike was watching him. He didn’t say anything. There was an exposed girder in the ceiling with about a two-foot clearance above. Xander tossed the noose over the beam and secured it. Spike helpfully found a chair in one of the burned out classrooms.

He slid it over to Xander. “Here.”

“Thanks.” It wasn’t how he wanted to go out. It was going to be obvious to anyone who came looking what he’d done. He’d liked the idea of going out in a blaze of glory, taking a few vamps with him on his way. Xander looked up the hall. One of the library doors was hanging off its hinge. He remembered the feeling of belonging in that library. Feeling a part of something.

Maybe this was where he wanted to go, after all. “Hey, I changed my mind, can you help me get the noose down?” he asked.

Spike smirked. “Knew you wouldn’t go through with it.”

“Actually, I was just thinking I’d rather do this in the library. For old time’s sake.”

Spike took the noose down.

The skylight was broken. It looked like a mouth of jagged teeth, all the broken glass and framing sticking out at odd angles. Xander managed to get the rope over one of the beams. He dragged the chair over and stepped up.

“Xander, wait,” came Spike’s voice.

Xander sighed. “You’re not seriously going to try to talk me out of this, are you?”

Spike scoffed, scuffing the dingy linoleum with his boot. “Course not. Just wondered if you had any objection to me taking a nip after you snuff it.”

Xander grimaced. “Could you not? It’s going to be obvious to the coroner and I don’t want Buffy to have to stake my corpse.”

Spike sighed and waved him off impatiently. “Well get on with it, then.”

Xander rolled his eyes and tested the strength of the noose a little. The wooden beam creaked but held. He took a deep breath and slipped the rope over his neck.

“Xander…” Spike was turning his lighter over and over in his hands, glancing between it and the ceiling.

“What, Spike?”

Spike finally met his eyes. “Anything you want me to tell the others?”

He thought about it. Xander shook his head. “It’s better if they didn’t know you were here. Thanks, though.”

Spike tilted his head in that way that meant he was going to say something observant, painful and probably true. “Anything you’d just like to say, then?”

Xander thought about apologies. For hurting the others, though he knew that wasn’t really what he wanted to say. It wouldn’t really hurt them, that was the point. Oh, they’d grieve and mourn him, sure, but would they really feel his loss in a week? A month? A year? Not likely. They’d managed without him for months just fine. He thought about other regrets and wrongs he’d committed, people he’d hurt, but again, it never seemed he’d left a lasting impression for good or ill with anyone. The worst thing he’d ever done, he figured, was not telling Buffy about Angel’s resouling spell. Last he heard, Angel was palling around with Xander’s ex-girlfriend—the second place runner up for person he’d wronged the wrongest—and neither of them seemed particularly scarred by the experience of having known him. So Xander thought about Spike. “Go ahead and drain me. And I’m sorry I was a dick when you got chipped. I mean, you were a total asshole and you’ve tried to kill me, but I could have been a little nicer. It wasn’t like I didn’t know what it felt like.”

“What what felt like?”

Xander tried smiling. “Being pointless. But hey, you’ve got that demon hunting thing going for you now. So that’s good. I know it’s not much to you, and it’s not the same, but I remember when I was fifteen and I was still more useful in a fight than Willow and just… It can be good if you let it. Anyway, sorry.”

Spike looked oddly stricken. Xander didn’t give him a chance to respond. He jumped. There was pain, and lights exploded in front of his eyes, then there was falling and crashing and breaking and “Ow…” Xander opened his eyes and looked up. Spike was looking down at him, eyes wide. Xander groaned and blinked a few times. “I’m not dead, am I.”

“Nope.”

“The beam broke, didn’t it.”

“Yep.”

Xander nodded his understanding. It hurt.

“C’mon,” Spike said, extending a hand to help Xander to his feet. Xander took it and Spike pulled him upright. Xander removed the noose around his neck and threw it next to the broken chair and the rotted beam and collapsed ceiling tiles and bits of ancient insulation. Xander snorted.

“What’s the joke?” Spike asked.

Xander nodded to the rubble. “Wondering how long it would take to commit suicide by asbestos.”

Spike frowned. “Look, m’not saying I don’t want you to top yourself, because you’re a bloody obnoxious git on your better days, but have you considered other alternatives to putting paid to it all?”

Xander started walking out of the library, choosing not to answer. It wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have at all, let alone with Spike. As far as Xander was concerned, his immortal enemy playing crisis counselor was a new low in the pathetic and brief story of his life. Again he found himself walking with no clear destination in mind and again he was followed by the sounds of heavy boots on pavement and the rustling of soft, worn leather against Spike’s legs as he hurried at a clip to keep up with him.

“Xander… Xander.” Spike grabbed his arm and wearily Xander stopped. He realized he was breathing raggedly, air hitching in his chest and he quickly pulled himself together before he did something really unforgivable and started sobbing on Spike’s shoulder. “Do you want to die alone?”

Xander didn’t know what Spike must have seen in his eyes as he struggled to answer, but a moment later Spike’s hand was squeezing his shoulder and Xander was losing the battle against his tears. Spike made some vaguely soothing noises and shuffled them to the side of the road as a car passed. “C’mon. Let’s get a drink. On me,” he added with a grin, producing Xander’s wallet from his coat.

Xander nodded in resignation and followed Spike to the Alibi.

They sat in a booth in the back. Spike ordered beer for them both while Xander mindlessly shelled peanuts on the table.

“Turning,” said Spike.

“Excuse me?”

Spike huffed. “S’different than suicide. Gets you dead but it also gets you a brand new bag of tricks. Plenty of blokes who didn’t have much to offer the living found a new lease on unlife as a vamp.” He said this with a strangely furtive look, trailing his finger through peanut dust on the table.

Xander watched him, curious. “You really think I’d make a good vamp?”

Spike flopped back against the seat, posture wide. “Could be, I spose. Course it depends on who turns you, how strong the demon is, but yeah. Reckon you’ve got a bit of an edge. More’n Harm, anyway.”

Xander thought about what Spike wasn’t saying. “No Drusilla here. Can’t say I want to spend death as the slow cousin of your average short bus fledge.”

“I could do it,” Spike said, staring meaningfully at his beer and barely raised his voice above a whisper. “I think I could do it. If you want.”

Xander stared in shock. “You. Could turn me. How long—when did the chip stop working?”

Spike looked up and shook his head with a regretful smile. “Didn’t. But the bite, it’s—not painful, an’ the chip only fires when I intend to kill or do harm. I haven’t really tested it out, but I think I could bite a willing victim. Maybe turn them.”

“Why? Why haven’t you tested it out? Blood from the tap has to be better than butcher and blood bank rejects.”

Spike shrugged uncomfortably. “I don’t know. Just didn’t.”

But Xander thought maybe he already understood. Socialization. Pack mentality. Stockholm syndrome. By any other name, Spike was one of them. “We should have been friends,” Xander said, a lot surprised and a little regretful.

Spike snorted. “Think all the trying to kill each other might have gotten in the way a bit.” Xander nodded into his beer and took a slow drink. “Get turned, though, I reckon you wouldn’t be bad company.”

“Do it.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously. Anything’s got to be an improvement on nothing, and if not, well…”

“You can always clamp a stake to a jumble sale coffee table?”

Xander laughed. “Yeah, there’s always that.”

Spike looked pleased. He downed the rest of his beer and slapped a few bills on the table. “Right then, let’s go.” Spike took his hand and dragged him out of the bar and took off down the street, pulling Xander behind him.

“Spike, Spike wait…” Xander stopped him, pulling hard on the hand gripping his like a vice. Spike whirled around impatiently. “You’re sure you want to do this?”

He huffed out a breath in frustration. “If you’re having second thoughts, just say so, whelp, I don’t fancy a headache tonight.”

Xander shook his head. “If we do this, you can’t help Buffy anymore.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. “C’mon, Harris, we’re burning starlight.”

They loped past the cemetery where Spike’s crypt sat and away from Xander’s apartment. He hesitated saying anything, however, because Spike was dragging him along with such assurance that Xander figured he must have a plan. By the time they reached a storage facility on the outskirts of Sunnydale, Spike let him in on it. “Car’s locked up here. Should be petrol enough to get us a few hours north at least. Be better to do this where we won’t be interrupted,” he explained. Spike opened the heavy door to the storage unit and Xander saw the DeSoto gleaming in the lights from the parking lot. Spike opened the driver’s side door and fished the keys from above the visor, sliding into the seat and turning it over with a healthy rumble and a blast of exhaust. Spike’s smile was reckless and infectious. Xander opened the passenger side door and slid in beside him. The door was barely closed before Spike threw the car hard into reverse and peeled out, Xander holding on for dear life, though it would only be later he’d think of the irony of the gesture. They collected a trunk of Spike’s earthly valuables from his crypt and a few things from Xander’s and drove north until the sun began to rise, putting them in reach of San Francisco.

The city was still quiet in the pre-dawn hours. Spike found them a room at a small, run-down hotel. The air-conditioner in their room was broken but Spike promised Xander he wouldn’t feel the heat in the same way before long. Xander stared at the gray morning light creeping around the edges of the blinds.

“Want to see it then? Your last day?” Spike clarified.

Xander peered out through the window into a stone courtyard surrounded by ivy and shook his head. “There’s only one bed,” he commented, apropos of nothing.

Spike snorted and flicked his cigarette into the ashtray on the dresser.

Xander wasn’t ignorant or naïve about the habits of vampires, particularly Sires and Childer, but until then he supposed maybe he thought Spike and he would be the exception to the rule. It simply hadn’t occurred to him the vampire would have any interest. It seemed he was wrong. Xander looked carefully at Spike, lounging with carefully affected cool against the dresser. It was affected, he realized, recognizing the closed off posture, fingers gripping the sleeves of his coat as he held himself. Xander lay down on the hobnail coverlet making the bedsprings creak and the iron headboard thump against the crumbling plaster. Spike ground out his cigarette in the ashtray, shrugged off his coat and threw it over the back of the chair before crawling over Xander to lay beside him on the bed.

When Xander was twelve years old he and Jesse took their mountain bikes up into the woods along the trails, huffing and straining their legs up the steep inclines, laughing, taunting each other and shouting conversations back and forth. When they reached the peak, Jesse barely stopped before he began careening down the hill. Xander had a moment’s hesitation before he followed, racing down the hill, riding the brake the whole way, feeling the tires skidding on the loose, dry dirt and debris, wondering if every jolt from every exposed root on the path was going to be the one to launch him airborne and break his neck. The woods sped past him at speeds his legs could never have peddled, his stomach felt light, and it occurred to him that were he not so terrified he might have enjoyed it. Heart pounding, he finally skidded to a stop beside Jesse at the base of the hill, grinning and exhilarated.

Spike kicked off down the hill without him, leaning over and gently pulling back the neck of his tee-shirt. Xander felt the earth give way as he turned his neck to allow access to his death. It was coming, and breathless and terrified he raced to meet it. Spike placed a gentle kiss on his throat. Xander gripped the bed, realizing his cock was insanely hard for reasons he couldn’t begin to guess. Spike noticed too. He pulled back and regarded Xander with poker-faced scrutiny before stripping off his shirt. Recognizing the rules of engagement had changed, Xander removed his shirt as well, meeting Spike’s frankly challenging look before unzipping his fly and removing his jeans. Spike smirked slightly and finished undressing, shoving both piles of clothes off the foot of the bed as he crawled up to lay beside Xander again. Hesitantly, he reached out and smoothed his hand along the line of Xander’s torso, over his hip, and back again, eyes serious and his mouth a grim line. The gesture was one of reassurance but he seemed to be steeling himself for the task at hand as much as Xander. Xander leaned forward and gently kissed his lips, noting the indrawn breath as he did so.

“I promise, I’ll still respect you in the morning,” he murmured. Spike laughed silently, shaking the bed with his amusement, and just like that, the tension was broken.

Another kiss and some awkward fumbling and Spike’s hand closed around Xander’s prick and started stroking. Xander moaned into Spike’s mouth and caught up in his pleasure needed no encouragement to return the favor. Spike’s cock was cool in his palm, but undeniably hard and the way he sort of arched into every stroke, undulating his whole body against Xander was just so fucking hot. He’d never been with anyone who’d responded to his touch like that. It was heady and intoxicating and the softer hand around his dick was speeding up and he might have made a mewling sound in the back of his throat but he just didn’t care because in that moment everything was just right.

And then Spike bit.

Xander came hard into Spike’s fist, but felt the pleasure spinning up and out and through him with every pulse of his blood. The pleasure never lessened, teeth sharp in shoulder, but he felt himself detaching from it, drifting away somehow. His vision began to darken, and with sudden realization he gripped Spike’s shoulders. Spike drew deeply on the wound twice more as Xander tumbled down into darkness, barely registering the arms cradling him with unanticipated tenderness.

“Drink Xander. C’mon love, that’s it.” Xander was suckling at Spike’s wrist, taking primal comfort there in his last moments so much like his first. He was cold, and so, so tired, and gradually, as the systems of his body shut down one by one, he fell asleep to die.

“Everything will be better when you wake up, love. You’ll see.”

Xander wanted to smile, to tell Spike it already was, that the despair in his heart had evaporated with Spike’s offer of immortality, and in its place was blossoming something very much like hope. But he couldn’t any longer, so Xander resolved to tell him when he rose, and died instead.



The End