Quantum Xander 2
In Wake of the Curse


by
Jameschick



Part Thirty-Six

Xander blinked and then snapped out of his shock. He didn't know what the hell had just happened. Well, sex, yeah. Biting too - at least on Spike's part. They had reaffirmed their blood bond. So why the cold-shoulder all of a sudden?

Xander went down the hall and stopped outside of Spike's bedroom door. He thought about knocking, about demanding an explanation for what had just happened but he wasn't sure if he wanted to hear it. Spike was hard to figure out on good days, and this wasn't a good day. What had happened in the bathroom was good and all, but he was still horny and he really missed sex.

"I should have just let Angel fuck me." Xander muttered to himself and walked away. He barely got a foot inside his bedroom door before he was pressed face first against the wall.

"Gee, this seems familiar."

Spike pressed harder and Xander stopped talking. He didn't know what this was all about, but he wasn't going to do anything to aggravate the blonde further.

"Should have let Angel fuck you?" Spike snarled and then dug his fangs into Xander's neck. He didn't drink; just left them buried in the flesh as he kept Xander pinned to the wall. Xander didn't know whether to try and break free or push himself further into the possessive embrace of his mate. Spike withdrew his fangs and licked over the seeping wound to close it.

"I don't know how that other Spike feels, but I don't share. You're mine, Xander, body, blood and soul. You don't fuck with anyone but me!"

"I didn't! I told him that we hadn't... that he couldn't. Not without you."

"Want to be claimed then, Xander? Want me to finish what you started? Take what's mine?"

"Yeeessss!"

Xander pushed his ass back against Spike's naked groin. He could feel Spike’s hard cock as it twitched against his towel-clad ass. He groaned as Spike growled softly in his ear.

"You gonna scream for me, Xander? Scream my name as I fuck you hard and fast?"

"Yes, Spike. Oh God, yes!"

The towel was suddenly gone and so was Spike. Xander had only a moment to protest the loss of that cool strong body before it was back, and wet slippery fingers were probing him. And none too gently either.

"Gonna take you, Xander. Fuck you; claim you all proper like. Gonna make you scream, make you mine. No one can take you from me after this."

Spike's fingers withdrew from Xander’s body and were instantly replaced by something much larger as Spike pushed his way inside. Xander muffled his scream by biting on his tongue. It had been awhile and he could have used a little more preparation than that. Still, it was good. It was rough and hard and fast, but it was Spike inside him, inside him and making him his.

"Fuck! Oh God! Right there, Spike. Shit yeah!"

"Like this, love? Like my cock inside you, splitting you open? Gonna stay buried in you all day long, Xander. Gonna wake you up every hour and just fuck you and fuck you."

Xander clenched around Spike's cock and screamed as Spike wrapped his fist around his cock and stroked him hard. He was so close, so fucking close. If Spike would just bite, he would be in heaven.

"You like that idea, Xander? You want me to sleep buried inside you? Want to wake up to the feel of me stretching you open? I can do it, you know. Stay hard while I sleep. You want that, Xan? Answer me."

"Yes. Fuck yes. Please, Spike."

"Yeah, you like that. Gonna scream for me, love?" Spike bit Xander hard and Xander screamed as he came. He was pretty sure his neighbours wouldn't call the cops; they'd gotten used to the noise when he had been with Anya, but all the same, he needed to try and remember not to be so loud. He felt Spike's orgasm as it washed through him and then the emptiness as the vampire pulled out of his body.

"Relax, Xander. Just gonna put you to bed. You might have lost a bit more blood than what's good for you. Stupid of me to drink from you again. Sorry 'bout that."

"Mmm, s'okay. Love you."

"Yeah, pet. Love you too. Into bed with you." Spike laid Xander down and then left the room. Xander worried that he wasn't going to come back, but before he managed to sit up, he heard the vampire return.

"Just gonna clean you up a bit." Spike wiped him down with a damp cloth and then climbed into bed beside him. He pulled Xander back against his chest and wrapped his arms around him.

"Sorry, love. Didn't mean to be so rough on you. Demon was clamouring to be inside you; it's not natural to mate with someone and not claim him or her physically. You okay?"

"Mmm, better than. Was good."

"Sleep, love."

"You'll stay?"

"Yeah, pet. I'll stay."

"Um... What about..."

Xander trailed off but rubbed his ass into the vampire again. Spike chuckled, lifted Xander’s leg and slid inside of him.

"Better?"

"Yep. Night, Spike."

"G'night love."

Xander drifted off to sleep almost immediately. Spike stayed awake for the better part of an hour just marvelling in the fact that Xander was his. That he had finally claimed him. And all it took was Buffy to tell him he was useless.

He snorted, and Xander stirred briefly. Spike grinned and slowly withdrew his cock until it was just barely inside before sliding back in. Xander moaned and pushed back against him. Spike pulled his mate closer and peppered kisses all over his shoulder and the side of his neck. He did tell the boy he was going to wake him up and fuck him; wouldn't want to lie to his mate now would he?





Part Thirty-Seven

By sunset, Xander had been woken several times - just as Spike promised. He was sore, but it was a good kind of sore. The kind of sore that made soaking in a hot bath feel like heaven. Even better when you were joined by your lover.

The two were silently reclined in the large tub, surrounded by hot water and sandalwood-scented bubbles. Xander was resting against Spike's chest with his eyes closed. Spike was running his hands gently over the human's chest and purring softly. It was the very picture of domestic bliss. But Xander being Xander had to ruin it by speaking.

"What happened last night, Spike? You were... strange."

"Not so much. Just not the Spike you're used to."

"Huh?"

"You remember a few years back when we first met? The night Angel wanted us to eat you - and not in the fun way? That was me. That was a century of being a demon, socialising with demons, living in Angelus' shadow. It's who I was, all I was."

"And now?"

"Now I'm different. Even before the soul, I knew that I had to be more than the demon if I was going to survive the chip - If I was going to keep the slayer from staking me. Had to draw on my human memories; that little part of William that survived my turning. I came to realise that you lot were not what I had thought you to be. I mean, a bunch of bumbling teenagers kept spoiling my plans? I was embarrassed for my entire species."

Xander chuckled and Spike kissed the top of his head.

"Then I got to be part of the group, saw how things worked. You were just children, yet you fought things that would scare the living hell out of most adults. And you did it because you wanted to. Had to respect that. Made me take a closer look, and when I did, I liked what I saw. I fell in love with Buffy because she's more than a slayer, more than a killer of my kind. She's unique, our Buffy. Had to give Rupert credit as well; for a watcher, he's an all right bloke. Taught his charge to think for herself, not to just blindly follow orders like most other slayers. Red's always been a bit of all right. Stood up to me even when I was drunk and out of my head with grief over Dru; would have kept her that night in the dorms. Probably not what you want to hear though, is it?"

Xander shook his head.

"Not really."

"Right. It's the truth, though. Always liked Anya, too. Fellow outcast and all that. 'Sides, she embarrassed the hell out of you and Rupert. It was better than telly some days."

"And me?"

"Couldn't stand you."

Spike chuckled as Xander tried to pull away from him. He held him tighter and shook his head.

"No you don't. You asked and you're going to listen. Got that?"

"Fine."

"The reason I couldn't stand you was 'cause you were always bein' smart with me. You called me names, constantly reminded me that I was damaged - impotent. By the way, I really should smack you for that. I'm not - nor was I ever - impotent."

"Yeah, I know."

Xander squirmed slightly, his tender bum reminding him all too well of how not-impotent the vampire was.

"I think, if things had been a little different- if you hadn't been so outwardly hostile to me - we might have been friends. We did have the most in common. You being the only male in the group. Well other than dear old Rupert, but he doesn't count 'cause he's like the father figure to all you pups."

"Yeah. You're probably right. The one Xander I met was already gay and he and that Spike got together right after they had been forced to live together."

"Mmm hmm. See, so if you had only been a little nicer to me, we could have been shagging each other these past couple years and saved ourselves a lot of trouble. There would have been no almost-wedding, no me falling for my natural enemy, I certainly wouldn't have run off and gotten my soul for someone who doesn't even want me."

Xander turned his head and kissed Spike lightly on the lips. He didn't want to hurt Spike, but he couldn't regret the last couple years either. His time with Anya was something he would always treasure, and if not for her, he never would have met his Spike.

"Yeah, but even with all of that, I wouldn't change anything. I've seen my other options and I like my life just fine the way it's turned out. Curses, broken hearts and all."

"Suppose you would. You have any luck in L.A. with that spell you were looking for?"

"Oh! Shit I forgot to tell you. I have it. Angel has some weird green demon guy that works with him. He reads auras if you sing for him, so I sang. He gave me a spell, but it has some really rare ingredients and if it weren't for the fact that he's you, it wouldn't even work."

"How's that?"

"It calls for the blood of the subject of the spell. Actually it needs my blood, your blood and Angel's blood. Dru's would have worked too, but Angel was willing, so it was easier."

Spike didn't say anything while Xander rambled on about the rare things he'd need to perform the spell. He was still stuck on the fact that Xander had found a spell. He wasn't so sure he wanted the other him here. He had only just fully claimed Xander and he wasn't sure if he was ready to share him just yet. Truthfully, he didn't know if he wanted to share him at all. He'd done the three-way relationship before with Dru and Angelus. It hadn't worked out in his favour. Even decades after Angelus had left them, he was still first in Dru's heart. He doubted things were any different here.

If it hadn't been for the other Spike, he wouldn't be with Xander right now. They never would have shared blood and accidentally started this bond. It was obvious by the excited chatter Spike could still hear, that Xander was looking forward to having the other one here. Spike wondered briefly what Xander would do if he refused to give him his blood.

"Water's cooling off, pet. We should get out."

"Mmm, I guess so. I like it in here though; you're comfy."

Spike smiled and squeezed Xander tightly before shifting him forward and standing up. He pulled Xander to his feet and led him out of the tub. After drying himself off he turned around to find Xander looking at him with a strange expression on his face. He cupped the man's cheek and stepped closer to him.

"What's wrong, love?"

"I'm sorry. I just... I realise how hard this must be for you, what with me prattling on about the other you, but I miss him, you know?"

"I know. It's fine."

"No, it's not. I hurt you, didn't I? Just now?"

Spike lowered his eyes and nodded his head slightly.

"A bit. It's just... What are you gonna need me around for once he's back? I've been through this with Dru and Angelus once before; I don't think I can do it again."

Xander pulled Spike into his arms and held him. He kissed his head, his shoulders, his neck and then tilting his head up, he kissed his mouth.

"It won't be like that. I promise. I love you for you, Spike. Not because you're him. You really aren't, you know. He's different. You're different."

"I just don't want to be pushed aside. I don't handle rejection well."

"No? Really?"

Xander grinned and Spike had to chuckle at him.

"Alright, so when do you need my blood?"

"I have to make a few calls, try to find some of the stuff. Wills gave me a list of people to call, so hopefully it'll only take a few days."

"Alright. Well, come on. We have to go see the slayer and Rupert. Christ I hope that Andrew isn't there. Bleedin' git keeps giving me the eye."

"Hey! I wanted to ask you about that..."

Xander followed Spike out of the bathroom and into what he was now thinking of as their room.

"... How long has he been at Buffy's?"

"Since just after I got back from Africa; why?"

Xander groaned and hung his head in his hands.

"Because he doesn't belong there, and I seem to be the only one who realises it. Well, other than Anya."

"Another spell?"

"Vengeance wish. Halfrek."

"Eh, the kids harmless. Who cares?"

"Yeah, you're probably right."





Part Thirty-Eight

The last couple of days had been better all the way around. Buffy had apologised to Spike - and to Xander for what had happened in his absence. Xander came out - both about his magic and about Spike. Giles was stunned and asked a million questions; Buffy looked hurt, like she had just realised what Spike meant to her and that she had lost her chance with him. Dawn squealed and jumped around the room chanting 'I was right' over and over again. Willow smiled. She was just happy to have her best friend back.

Faith and Buffy were getting on okay; things had been a bit strained at first, but they came to an understanding. They were slayers, and they needed to work together on this.

Xander kept a close eye on Andrew; he soon came to the conclusion that he was harmless. Andrew just wanted to belong to something - a feeling that Xander could identify with - so he left him alone about the wish and just let him carry on caring for the S.I.T's. He wasn't a bad cook, either.

Tonight however, Xander was on his own. He had to go to L.A. again, this time to pick up some supplies for the spell. He had wanted to take Spike with him, but Giles insisted on doing some ritual to reveal what the trigger was that the First was using on him. He assured Xander that it was harmless and Willow agreed. Spike told him he'd be fine and to go to L.A. without him, but not before taking him aside and making sure he knew to avoid Angel while he was there. Spike wasn't ready to share with his sire yet - head of the clan or not.

Xander had chained Spike to the wall as requested, kissed him softly, and then whispered in his ear about getting a set of manacles for their bedroom before he left. The smouldering look Spike gave him in return was enough of a reason to conduct his business quickly and get back home as soon as he could. Ever since Spike had taken him that first night, they had spent every spare moment they had in bed wrapped around one another.

It didn't take nearly as long to get everything as he thought it would. In fact, there was only one more ingredient he had to wait for before he'd have everything he needed. Willow's contacts were amazing; if they didn't have it, they knew where to get it. Even the final ingredient - something called gherystic, -which turned out to be a plant that only grows in a certain demon dimension. He was glad he had worked things out with Willow, otherwise he never would have gotten everything so quickly. It could have taken months of searching to find that - as it stood, it was being shipped from somewhere in China that night and should arrive in a couple of days.

Xander headed home with a smile on his face and a song in heart. He was happy. Happier than he had ever been in his life. Yeah, he knew things wouldn't be easy at first - living with two Spikes was going to be a real test of his patience - but the pros would far outweigh the cons of the situation. He would finally have his Spike back, and he wouldn't lose this one either. Xander had never pictured himself as the kind of guy to get involved in a triad relationship, but then again, before the curse, he'd never pictured himself as the kind of guy to get involved with another man, either. Or a vampire. Now he was involved with two of them. Yep, he was definitely a demon magnet.

He pulled into the driveway of the Summers' house and got out of the car. He was met by Buffy on the front porch. She didn't look happy, and Xander wondered what had set her off.

"Hey Buff. Spike here?"

"No. He's probably at your place."

Xander nodded and turned to go, but Buffy called after him.

"Xander, wait. Can we talk for a minute?"

"Sure, Buff. What's up?"

"Actually, that's kinda what I wanted to ask you?"

"What do you mean?"

"What's the deal with you and Spike? I mean, you told me you were trying to find a way to bring back the other one, so why did you hook up with this one, and what happens to him when the other one gets here?"

"Ah."

Xander sat on the step and Buffy joined him.

"It's not easy to explain, Buffy. I love Spike, both of them. I never considered getting involved with this Spike at first; he was in love with you, still is, but things changed. There's a lot about vampires that you don't understand; claims being one of them. When I lost my Spike it nearly killed me - seriously. There's a link between us, and when it was severed it affected my health. One of the other Spikes I met up with helped me. He gave me his blood."

Buffy scrunched up her nose in a classic 'eeew' face and Xander smiled softly at her.

"I knew you wouldn't get it. The point is, when I got back here I was okay for a little while because of what that other Spike had done for me. Then it started again; it might have been worse because I had been practising with my power as well, but I'm not sure. Spike... he cut himself - now that I think of it, it was probably on purpose which means he somehow knew before I told him, and boy are we going to have words about that - and I took his blood. That was the beginning. Then there was the incident where he bit me - you remember I told you about that?"

"Yeah. So what? That made it final? He drank from you and that's it? You're mated?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, there were words and all that with the other Spike, but we knew we were doing it - claiming each other. This was sort of an accident. It wasn't complete either. Not until... "

"I get it! No need for details! Um, when did you ... complete it?"

"The morning after I went to L.A. I came home and ran into Anya; she told me what happened, what you said to him. I looked for him all night but finally gave up and went home - he was already there."

"Oh."

"I didn't do this to hurt you, Buffy, I did this because I love him. Because he was hurting - you have no idea what you did to him that night - and because I wanted him. It would have happened sooner but he was still hoping that the two of you had a chance."

"And you were okay with that? You're his mate, Xander, and would have just stood back and let me be with him?"

"Yes. If he was happy, if you both were happy, then yes. But that time has come and gone Buffy. I can't do that now. Not now that we've completed the bond. It would destroy me."

Buffy shook her head sadly and leaned into Xander's side. Xander put his arm around her and squeezed.

"I really screwed up, didn't I?"

"Yeah, Buff. You did."

"I've lost any chance I ever had with him, I know I told him it was over, that we could never be together, but I was scared. I loved Angel and looked how that ended. Every time we see each other we cause the other pain. Then Riley; I pushed him away because I was afraid to let him in. Now I've done it again with Spike. Am I ever going to find the right guy, Xander? Or have I already found him and let him go?"

"Nah, you'll find him. The right guy is out there; you just have to wait till he finds you. Or maybe..."

Xander trailed off and grinned at her.

"You ever think about switching teams, Buff? That Kennedy seems to have taken a shine to you."

Xander ducked as Buffy threw a playful punch at him.

"Go home to your vampire, Xander. Things got a bit out of control tonight; there was an incident with Robin..."

Xander tensed and turned cold eyes on Buffy.

"He's fine. Robin's mother was Spike's second slayer, he was looking for a little payback; he didn't get it. Spike could have killed him, but he didn't. He won't try it again, I made sure of that."

"Thanks, Buff. I'll see you tomorrow. Oh, and tell Robin, that if he does try again, he better learn to like Cat-Chow."

Xander jumped back into the car and drove away. Buffy shook her head and stood up. She looked up at her front door and wondered if she had done the right thing by not telling Xander about Giles' involvement.

"My life just keeps getting more and more complicated. Things were so much simpler when I was dead."





Part Thirty-Nine

When Xander got home, he found Spike sitting on the sofa and staring at the television. He had a half-full bottle of beer in his hand, but it looked as though he had been holding it for some time. Xander sat next to him and gently removed the bottle and set it on the coffee table. Spike turned his head and looked at him.

"Things go alright in L.A.?"

"Yeah, fine. How was your night?"

Spike barked out a bitter-sounding laugh and shook his head.

"Peachy. Had a nice trip down memory lane, nearly killed Buffy's boss, and oh yeah - got the trigger taken care of."

"Er, that's... good?"

Spike snorted.

"Yeah, well, I'm my own man again. No more being the First's bitch."

"What was the trigger?"

"A song my mum used to sing to me. Was her favourite."

Xander took Spike's hand and intertwined their fingers. He knew that this had to be hard on him.

"You alright?"

"Fine."

"And Wood?"

"I let him live. On account of I killed his mother."

"The slayer back in the seventies?"

"One and the same. Bugger tried to off me tonight. I walked him home - he led me into his garage to kill me; it was full of crosses. He played the song. Unleashed the beast in me."

"Fuck."

"Yeah. Made me relive my first night as a vampire. I sired my mum, she was sickly and I wanted to make her better, stronger, like me. I killed her, gave her a demon, and then I had to dust her."

Xander didn't know what to say to Spike. Sure, he had dusted his best friend - a boy he was in love with but didn't have the guts to tell him. But to have to stake his own mother?"

"I never was a good demon - too soft. Angelus always knew; he saw right through me. I became Spike to erase the man that I was, the man who even as a vampire wanted his mother. He never called me Spike - always William. I hated him for it. For reminding me of who I was, of what I had done. The things she said to me, Xander. They were horrible."

"Shh. It wasn't her. It was the demon; your mother loved you. I'm sure of it."

Xander pulled Spike into his arms and held him. The vampire went willingly. He knew that Xander wouldn't judge him for his weakness, for needing the comfort of being held.

"She did. I figured that out tonight. All these years I've been carrying that around with me, thinking that my mum didn't love me. The First used that, got inside my head and brought out all that rage and anger."

"But it can't now? The trigger is inactive?"

"Yeah. It's gone. I know now that that wasn't my mum that said those things to me. I've made peace with my past."

"I'm glad. You want me to turn him into a kitten? You could bet him in a poker game and purposely lose."

Spike chuckled.

"Nah, pet. Bloke did me a favour actually. I guess I owe him for making me figure things out. 'Sides, Buffy's right pissed with him; he's blown his chance with her - should be punishment enough."

They sat in silence for a little while, Xander holding Spike to him and running his hands up and down the vampire's back in a soothing motion. It was comfortable, relaxing. Spike shifted a bit till he could look up at Xander. He smiled at him as their eyes met, and slowly leaned in to kiss him.

The kiss was soft, a mere brushing of lips. When it was finished, Xander licked his lips and grinned.

"That was nice."

"It was. Let's go to bed, love. I want you."

"Okay."

They turned off the television and the few lights that were on. Xander locked the door as Spike emptied the remainder of his beer into the kitchen sink. There was no mad dash for the bedroom. No frantic kissing and pulling at clothes. It was routine - domestic. The bedroom door closed and they both helped the other to undress. There were kisses and soft words of love exchanged and when they were finally naked, they climbed into bed and reached for each other.

Lying on their sides, face to face, they held each other and kissed softly. It wasn't about passion this time, it was about love. It was Spike finally accepting that he was loved by Xander, no matter what happened. The world could end tomorrow, but tonight they had each other and that was enough. More than enough; it was everything.

Spike withdrew from the kiss and buried his face into Xander's neck. He sucked on his mark and then kissed his way up to his ear. He ran his tongue along the shell of his mate's ear and then nipped the soft lobe.

"I want you to take me, Xander. I'm ready. Make me yours."

Xander moaned at the husky tone of his lover's voice.

"Are you sure?"

"Very sure. I want this, love. I want you."

"Okay."

Xander rolled them over so that he was on top of the smaller man and resumed kissing him. He really liked kissing Spike; it was something they hadn't done very much of before the other night, but after the first night that Spike had taken him against the bedroom door, they had shared a lot of kisses.

Xander reached blindly for the nightstand and managed to get the drawer open and find the lube while never leaving Spike's lips. He opened the tube and squeezed some out onto Spike's belly. The vampire jumped slightly at the cold sensation on his skin but quickly forgot about it as Xander moved his lips across his cheek and down to his neck.

As he licked and kissed and sucked on the pale skin of Spike's throat, Xander coated one of his fingers in the puddle of lube and gently began circling Spike's pucker. After a moment he slowly inserted it.

"This okay?"

"Yeah, love. S'good. More."

Xander withdrew the finger and returned it a moment later with another one. He began to slowly pump them in and out of his lover, stretching him carefully. He twisted them suddenly and Spike arched off the bed.

"Fuck! There again! Do that again!"

Xander smiled and repeated the action, rubbing his fingers over Spike's sweetspot. He lowered himself so that he was lying between the vampire's spread legs and could watch his fingers as they disappeared into his mate's body again and again. Spike was purring and thrashing his head on the pillow.

"More, Xander! Please!"

Xander added another finger and at the same time moved up so that he could take Spike's cock into his mouth. The dual sensations were too much for Spike and he vamped out and screamed as he came. Xander swallowed everything and continued to finger-fuck his lover as he brought him to full hardness again with his lips and tongue.

"Are you ready for me, Spike?"

"Yes, love. Ready. Now."

Xander slicked himself against Spike's stomach and then positioned his cockhead at Spike's opening. He locked eyes with his mate and then slowly pushed inside.

"I love you."

"Love you too, pet."

Spike wrapped his legs around Xander's waist as the man slowly thrust in and out. The heat was like nothing he had ever felt before. He could feel Xander's pulse beating inside of him, as if they were one being.

Xander never wanted this feeling to end; this connection he felt with the blonde was overwhelming. He leaned forward further and captured Spike's mouth with his own, kissing him deeply as he continued to make love to him. He didn't care what problems tomorrow brought because right here, right now, everything was perfect. Spike was perfect.

"You are so perfect, Spike. So right and beautiful. I love you. So much."

Spike closed his eyes and felt his chest constrict with emotion. He had never felt so cherished and loved as he did at this moment, with this man. He knew then, that no matter what the future held, whatever happened when the other Spike came back, he would still be wanted by Xander, would still be loved. It was enough to bring tears to his eyes.

Xander saw the tears as they leaked from the corners of Spike's eyes. He kissed them away gently and then kissed each closed eyelid.

"Spike?"

"M'fine, love. Just... that was ... no one has ever said such things to me. Thank you."

Spike leaned up and pressed their lips together again. Xander smiled into the kiss and reached between them to grasp Spike's erection in his fist. He felt like he had been hard forever and desperately needed to cum. He wanted his mate to cum with him.

"Can't last much longer, Spike. You feel too good. Cum with me; I want to feel your muscles as they squeeze me tight."

"Fuck, keep talking like that and I will."

Xander chuckled and picked up his pace slightly. He kissed Spike again as he shifted slightly to make sure he was hitting the vampire's prostate on every thrust. Spike growled and bucked up to meet each thrust as Xander began to pound into him harder and faster. Spike's eyes bled to yellow, his fangs dropped and his ridges came out. Xander purposely nicked his tongue on one sharp canine and thrust his tongue deep into his lover's mouth. Spike sucked on it eagerly as he bucked and thrashed underneath him. Finally, he released Xander's lips and tongue and roared as he came.

Xander watched his lover's face as his eyes flew open in unseeing ecstasy. He felt Spike's muscles clamp down hard on his shaft as Spike roared and spilled over his fist. It was too much and Xander threw his own head back as he came inside of his mate for the first time, claiming him as his own. He collapsed on Spike's chest, panting for breath. He felt Spike's arms come up around him even as his legs flopped down to the bed.

"Bloody hell, Xander. That was amazing. I could feel your heart beat inside me."

"Mmm."

"You're so damn warm, too."

"Mmm."

Spike chuckled softly and hugged his mate tight.

"That all you can say, love?"

"Nope. Love you."

"I love you too, Xander. Thank you."

Xander lifted his head and looked into Spike's eyes. He frowned a bit and then asked,

"What for?"

"For accepting me. For loving me. Even when I'm acting like a git. I'm sorry about the other night; I was being an ass."

Xander was still confused. Then realisation dawned on him.

"Oh, you mean when you walked away from me right after the blow-job without so much as a kiss or a thank you?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry about that."

"I'm not. It got us here didn't it? I mean, if I hadn't been a little pissed at you, I wouldn't have made that crack about Angel, and you wouldn't have stormed in here and taken me against the door. True?"

"True."

"So it's all good then. No regrets."

"None at all."

"Not even Buffy?"

Xander had to be sure that Spike was okay with not ever being with her again. He needed to know that it was over from Spike's perspective, as well.

"Not even Buffy. She'd never love me the way you do, the way I wanted her to. When she looks at me, she'll always see the vampire who tried to force her to love him - the monster who tried to kill her again and again. She's a slayer; I'm a demon. It would never have lasted. I still love her, Xander. But I'm no longer in love with her."

Xander rolled off of Spike and pulled the smaller man into his arms. He tilted his head up and kissed him. When he pulled away he smiled.

"I'm glad you're not in love with Buffy anymore. I understand that you love her; I do too, but I'm not in love with her either. I'm in love with you."

Spike's shocked expression made Xander laugh and he rolled out of bed and pulled Spike to his feet.

"Come on, we're in desperate need of a shower. I'll wash your back if you do mine?"

Spike nodded and followed him into the bathroom - a goofy smile on his face.





Part Forty

Things were going to hell. There was a new player in town; a preacher, named Caleb. He sent Buffy a calling card in the form of a half-dead potential. She had an interesting scar burned into her neck.

Buffy had been fired from her job as counsellor at Sunnydale high - something about being where she was needed the most, and the kids all skipping anyway. Xander was pretty sure it had more to do with Robin using what little control he had over Buffy to prove a point to her. Either way, it didn't matter; people were starting to pull out of Sunnydale like rats leaving a sinking ship and Buffy was needed at home.

So here they all were, gathered at Buffy's house and about to go into battle. Caleb said he had something that belonged to Buffy and she was dead set on getting it - whatever it was - back. Which was why Xander was now giving the S.I.T's a lesson in weaponry and where to hit to cause the most damage.

"Now remember, we're looking for killing blows only, people. So, chest and throat if it's a vampire. Stomach, chest and face if it's a Bringer."

"What if it's something else?"

"Could happen. Something otherworldly. And here's a handy rule: don't go for the flashy tentacles just because they're waving 'em about trying to get attention. Go for the centre - brains, heart, eyes. Everything's got eyes."

Dawn spoke up from the corner of the room.

"Except the Bringers."

Xander nodded his agreement.

"Except the Bringers."

"I don't want there to be tentacles. I'm not good with squishy."

One of the potentials - Xander couldn't remember her name.

"I don't care if it's Godzilla. I want to get this thing."

Kennedy. She was all warrior, that one. If anyone was taking this whole calling thing seriously, it was she. She would be a good slayer someday. When she realised it wasn't about the fight, it was about what she was fighting for.

"Godzilla's mostly Tokyo-based, so he's probably a no-show."

Xander turned to look at Andrew and shook his head sadly. He wondered how much like him he might have turned out if it weren't for Buffy opening his eyes to the real world around him and giving him a purpose. He couldn't help but take Andrew's side after Rona started in on how Mathew Broderick killed Godzilla so he couldn't be all that tough.

"Matthew Broderick did not kill Godzilla. He killed a big, dumb lizard. That was not the real Godzilla."

Rona started a whole big conversation on how they were all nuts, that she came here for protection not to go looking for the bad guy in his own lair. Xander reminded her that she signed on to fight - that they all did. Then he started to tell them a little bit about Buffy - about the slayer who had died twice to save the world, and about the girl who held the lives of her friends and family above everyone else's, including her own.

"I've been through more battles with Buffy than you all can ever imagine. She's stopped everything that's ever come up against her. She's laid down her life - literally - to protect the people around her. This girl has died two times, and she's still standing. You're scared? That's smart. You got questions? You should. But you doubt her motives? You think Buffy's all about the kill? Then you take the little bus to battle. I've seen her heart, and this time - not literally. And I'm telling you right now, she cares more about your lives than you will ever know. You gotta trust her. She's earned it."

"Damn, B. I never knew you were that cool."

Everyone turned to see Buffy and Faith standing in the doorway. Xander smiled at the look of honest love and friendship on her face.

"Well, you always were a little slow."

"I get that now."

Buffy turned and addressed the room.

"All right, let's saddle up."

The walk to the old vineyard was quiet and tense. Buffy and Faith took point, the S.I.T's in the middle and Xander and Spike brought up the rear. They were all nervous; this was the first time the girls were going into battle and for all his faith in Buffy and her abilities, Xander didn't like the situation at all. It smelled like a trap.

"Spike, I don't like this. It's too easy."

"Yeah. Seems like it, doesn't it? You want me to talk to Buffy? See if she'll pull out?"

"Would it do any good? She's hell-bent on this, Spike. Whatever it is this guy has, Buffy wants it."

"All right. We follow the slayer into battle, then. But, Xander? Don't die on me."

"Same goes for you. You be careful."

"I will."

Spike kissed Xander and headed off to the front of the group with Buffy. Buffy turned and looked over the group.

"Okay. Set up a perimeter. Guard the door. I don't want anything getting in behind us. My team goes in first; we check the place out. You guys are our safety net. If this place is a trap, we give the signal, you guys come in, guns a-blazing."

Xander cleared his throat and waved his hand at Buffy to get her attention.

"So, what's the signal?"

"I'm thinking lots and lots of yelling."

"Got it."

Buffy turned and led her team inside. Xander stood outside the door, waiting for the signal - hoping it didn't come. He felt a charge in the air around him - one he had come to associate with Anya when she 'popped' in on him. He turned around to greet her with a smile and it dropped off his face as he saw Halfrek standing there.

"What the hell do you want?"

"Vengeance. What else is there in life?"

"You've had yours, now fuck off."

Xander turned away from Hallie and hoped to God that she would just go away. He didn't have time for that.

"Is that what you really think? That you suffered enough for what you did to Anyanka?"

"Anya has forgiven me for leaving her at the altar. She's a happy little vengeance demon again and all is right with her world, so your need to avenge her is misplaced."

"Is that what you think? You think this was about you not marrying her? Honestly. It was never about that. It was about you ruining her. You made her human, all of you with your little plans and spells and smashing her amulet. You took her away from me, and then you made her want that existence. Teaching her to love and be happy and how to fit into society. You ruined her."

Xander was honestly confused. He had no idea what Halfrek was talking about.

"Look. I'm extremely busy right now. My friend and my lover are both inside fighting big evil. Can we do this later?"

"No. We can't. Do you realise it's been weeks since Anyanka has granted a wish? And the last one she did grant? Hrumph; the woman wished her husband to be turned into a frog. Do you know what Anyanka did? Well, do you? She made him French. From France. Not a single wart or anything. You made her soft. D'Hoffryn is not going to put up with that kind of behaviour. He'll replace her, and you don't want to know what they do to defunct vengeance demons."

"So, let me get this straight. You cursed me because I loved Anya, not because I left her?"

Xander crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her.

"Yes. Your love made her want mortality, if you had only acted like a man and used her for your own sexual pleasure and then discarded her, she would have returned to the fold years ago and none of this would have happened."

"So, what do you want me to do about it?"

"Make a wish. Wish that you had done just that. I'll even let you remember enough of this timeline to leave Buffy dead and buried so none of this will happen. It's your decision. Your happiness or the world's safety."

Xander looked around him at the frightened girls in his care and then back toward the door where Buffy and Spike and the others had gone. He could spare them all this horrifying ordeal. All it would cost him would be Buffy and his mates. They could lose this battle and the whole world would suffer, or he could agree - make the wish - and get to start over. It was a hell of a decision to have to make. Keep his mates, let Buffy live and possibly set the First Evil loose on the world, or give up Spike - both of them - and leave Buffy to rest in peace, and possibly save the world.

Xander knew what the right thing to do was… Buffy wasn't supposed to be alive; the world shouldn't have to suffer because of his and Willow's mistake. If he did the right thing, he would lose his mates, but his happiness would be a small price to pay for the world's safety. He took a deep breath, looked Halfrek straight in the eye and spoke.

"I've made a decision."




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