Disclaimer:I own nothing. Joss owns all. You know the drill.   All characters from the Buffy and Angel television shows are the sole property of Joss Whedon, UPN, WB, Mutant Enemy, and all other affiliates.
Written for the Schmangstathon, for .



Real


by
Nash


Xander stumbled home, so tired he felt like he was about to drop and just never get up. Two years after the Sunnydale disaster, the new Council was finally getting on its feet. Xander had somehow found himself in charge of the new Slayers. When he’d tried to protest, Giles had played him like a fine violin, giving him a small lecture on the one who sees being best suited to training the ones who act. Xander could swear that after he’d agreed Giles had seemed almost Ripper-like in his satisfaction.

“Stupid Watcher and his stupid compliments,” he muttered as he struggled with the curry container. He finally managed to pry off the lid, still muttering on about Watchers and seers and stupid resolve faces that had him working until nine in the evening instead of watching the half-naked women of Charmed like any hot blooded male of his age should be doing.

Grabbing some naan bread and a beer, Xander plopped on the sofa and turned on the television. Time for some mindless entertainment.

“Angel? Please don’t do that. Come on Angel, get your pooffy self together. You killed a dragon, you can handle th- Harris?”

Xander snapped straight, spilling a plateful of curry in the process. He could have sworn he heard Spike talking to Angel. But Spike was dead, he’d seen the ashes. The Scoobs with about two dozen slayers had gone to avert the apocalypse but for once they’d been too late to save their own. He’d seen Spike go down. He’d seen the dragon slice his head off.

“It’s all in my head. Too much curry, not enough socializing,” he said, his voice sounding unnaturally loud in the sudden silence of the apartment. “I should sleep. Sleep would be of the good. No dreaming of dead people though.”

“Angel snap out of it! I’m telling you I saw Harris. You remember Harris, right Angel?”

“Spike?”

This time, Xander didn’t only hear Spike, he could see a faint outline of a body standing in front of him, facing the other way and looking down.

“Harris? You can see me?” The surprise in Spike’s face could be seen clearly. “Listen, there’s something going on we’re not…”

“Spike, you’re fading…” Xander started, pausing when he realized that Spike was gone. “…away.”

The moment he was sure Spike wasn’t coming back, Xander hurried to the phone. He quickly dialed the number, waiting impatiently until Giles picked up.

“Giles? I see dead people!”

“Xander, really, that joke got old in the movie, there’s no need to keep repeating it.”

“No, I swear this time it’s not a joke, Spike was here and he was talking to Deadboy and oh here they are again!”

“Xander?” Spike’s voice was panicked, as if he had been yelling for a while but gotten no answer. “Xander!” he exclaimed when he finally saw the human.

“Quick, tell me what’s going on before you fade away again,” Xander said urgently, stabbing at the phone until he found the speaker button.

“I don’t know, I thought I was dead and then Angel was there and…he’s not dealing, I don’t know what to do or how to bring us back. We’re…it’s like limbo. There’s nothing, just nothing. This is the first time I saw or heard something other than my own voice in a month. Xander please…”

Then he was once again, gone.

“Oh goodness gracious,” Giles could be heard over the phone, amazement fighting with distress in his voice.

“You heard him too, right Giles? I’m not going crazy?”

“Yes…yes I did. I’ll call Willow, we’ll come over as soon as we can.”

Xander waited for Giles and Willow to arrive, pacing around the apartment, expecting Spike to rematerialize at any moment. No sign of him though and Xander wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried. He looked obsessively at the spot where Spike had shown up last time, willing the vampire to show up again. He’d only found out Spike hadn’t died at Sunnydale when he saw him turn into dust in front of him. Giles and he had gone through a rocky patch then, with Xander accusing him of all kinds of things. Giles had known how Xander regretted not talking to Spike before he died, he’d known but he hadn’t said anything about Spike being back. They finally reconciled when Giles admitted that he’d been a ‘sodding idiot and I promise never to interfere with your private life again’. It’d been too late to talk to Spike by then but Xander could never hold a grudge against his loved ones.

When the doorbell rang Xander nearly jumped out of his skin and hurried to open the door.

Instead of the expected Giles and Willow, a whole army of people trampled into his apartment, whipping out bits and pieces of machinery and waving them around.

“You brought the scientists? Why did you bring the scientists?” Xander whined. He had a clear understanding with the science and magic departments of the Council, they didn’t experiment on him and he didn’t test out his slayers’ new abilities on them and their equipment.

“We need to know the how and the why Xan. What if it’s the First coming back?” Willow said, walking in behind the last lab coat.

“But it’s my apartment! Hey! What’s that guy doing to my couch! That’s curry you nimrod, leave it alone.”

Xander spent the next hour following the scientists around, protecting his apartment from all the little beeping machines. They counted molecules and measured space-time or whatever but did any of them clean the curry off his couch? Hell, no! Did they find a trace of Spike? Nope, didn’t even do that.

When the last scientist finally left the apartment, Xander sat down, ready to relax.

“Come on in, guys, it’s our turn,” Willow chirped, breaking the blessed silence.

“What?” he demanded as he jumped up. “You brought the magic department too? Spike so owes me for this!”

The witches were at least less noisy than the scientists, their chanting always much preferable to the beeping of the infernal machines. Xander was petrified of being caught in the crossfire of one spell or another so he joined Giles in the kitchen, tapping his foot impatiently until the witches too departed.

“XANDER!”

“Oh fuck, he’s back.” Xander sprinted to the living room coming to a stop in front of Spike.

“You keep disappearing, and I can’t find you and Angel is getting worse!”

Spike sounded nothing like his usual snarky self, desperation and sheer pain coming off him in waves.

“Spike, it’s only been a couple of hours. The apartment has been combed over by witches and scientists and we’re working on getting you back. Willow and Giles are here too, see?”

Xander spoke soothingly, trying to calm Spike down. Never thought the Zeppo would be calming down the big hero he thought as Spike looked wildly around.

“I can’t see them. I can’t…it’s been days Xander. Not hours, days. Angel is…he’s nearly gone. You have to help us, please, you have to.”

Seeing Spike brought to tears was not as pleasant an image as his teenage self would have thought. Xander stepped closer, reaching out to touch Spike, but his hand passed through him without making any kind of contact.

“They’re here, Spike, we’re working on it ‘kay? Just keep Angel calm; can you do that for us? Keep Angel with you and we’ll get you out.”

Xander barely had time to see Spike nod before he’d faded away again.

“He keeps doing that, just fading in and out all the time. Did you hear him? He said it’s been days for him. We gotta get him back.”

Xander had never thought he’d utter those words but there they were. His own unresolved issues aside, Spike had died to save the world and now he was stuck in limbo, hearing and seeing nothing…it wasn’t right.

“I was going to tell you before Spike popped up. I know how to get him back,” Willow said softly.

“It’s a spell similar to the one we used to get Buffy back,” Willow explained, eyes clouding with guilt for a moment before resolve face won. “The science equipment found some kind of molecular trace but it was fading fast. We tried to track it using magic and found him trapped in some kind of gap between dimensions.” Willow looked to Giles for support and he nodded his understanding.

“If humans are not destined to die as of yet they would normally be returned to their bodies. With vampires, there is no body to return to so it’s possible they would be placed in limbo so to speak, to await their time,” Giles explained thoughtfully.

“That’s cruel!” Xander exclaimed, horrified at the thought of Spike being stuck like that for years, maybe even decades. “I can’t believe the bastards left him there like that, he saved the freaking world, and this is what he gets?”

Willow looked about as upset as Xander was before resolve face won the day. “We can help him. When we…when we brought back Buffy we…I…her body was reconstructed. We can do the same here but without all the evil and darkness, right Giles?”

“So what are you waiting for then, hop to it! Come on, be all magical and stuff. D’you need muscle power? I have thirty Slayers on site until Friday.” As he spoke, Xander kept looking around the apartment, expecting Spike to pop up at any moment.

It wasn’t until Giles and Willow had left to make arrangements for their spell that Xander wondered why Spike would show up here, in his home and not in Italy where Buffy was.

“Xander’s coming. Xander’s coming. Xander’s coming”

Xander hadn’t realized he nodded off until the voice woke him up. He looked up in time to see Spike fading in, sitting on the floor this time with his knees drawn up close to his chest and his face buried between them.

“Spike?”

“Xander…Am I dreaming you?” Spike’s expression wavered between hopeful and lost.

“I was just about to ask you the same thing,” Xander laughed sadly.

Spike leaned forward, as if to divulge a great secret.

“I lost Angel. You told me to keep him close but he’s gone and now I’m being punished for losing him.”

“No, Spike, no. Willow and Giles are coming and they’ll bring you back, I promise. You won’t get lost like Angel, you hold on and we’ll bring you back. Just hold on for me, okay? Tell me.”

“Hold on for Xander, just hold on for Xander,” Spike repeated obediently as he faded.

Xander paced around the apartment, unable to sit still. Spike had seemed so defeated and hopeless. He hadn’t seen him like that since the summer Buffy was dead. The moment he heard the knock he hurried to open the door, ushering Giles and Willow in quickly.

“Hurry up, he thinks he lost Angel, he’s…I think he’s gone crazy.”

“Willow will perform the spell, I’ll act as her balance. We need a focus for the spell, a human anchor if you will. Perhaps you could…”

“Sure, anything, let’s just save the guy,” Xander agreed before Giles could even finish his sentence.

Willow moved quickly and efficiently, setting up her circle, lighting the candles, handing Xander a candle and directing him to sit in the centre of the circle she made.

“Don’t move until I break the circle, okay?” she instructed, waiting for Xander’s nod of agreement before sitting down across from him. “Okay…here we go…”

Xander stayed quiet, fighting the anxiety he always felt when there was magic heading towards him. Willow’s voice rose higher and higher and then, after a sharp staccato of phrases she was quiet. Xander looked frantically around, expecting Spike to fade in but getting nothing. Just as he was about to ask if they had failed, Willow started chanting again. This time as she chanted he could see dust motes coming together in a little whirlwind right in front of him. He watched, horrified, as the dust begun to coalesce, turning into thicker matter and then forming bones, muscle and finally skin. Spike materialized before his very eyes, still rocking himself and muttering to hold on for Xander.

Xander started to reach out for Spike but Giles shook his head at him and he subsided, looking anxiously at the muttering blond. Despite the noise Willow made and the smell of the candles, Spike seemed to be locked up in his own little world, unaware of anything going on around him.

Willow’s chanting reached a crescendo once again and stopped. She opened her eyes and at Xander’s anxious look nodded. Before she could even finish the movement Xander was reaching out for Spike. He touched Spike’s shoulder and the blond’s head snapped up, staring at him uncomprehendingly.

“X-Xander?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m…I can feel you.”

“Yeah.” This time the word was said with a smile. Xander was expecting a lot of things, ranging from Spike jumping up and stalking off to Spike telling Xander to back off but he never expected the blond to jump into his arms and burst into tears. With a wild look in Willow’s direction, Xander gingerly wrapped his arms around the slender form, petting Spike’s back in an attempt to soothe and calm. He could hear Spike muttering against his skin but the words were incoherent and unclear.

Xander concentrated on making sense of Spike’s mutterings about ‘Angel’ and ‘lost’ and ‘never find them’. He didn’t realize Willow had moved until he felt her touch his arm. He looked up to see her holding a blanket and gesturing towards Spike. Xander tried to move his arms away only go have Spike scramble to get even closer, his arms tightening painfully around Xander’s neck.

“Spike, human, need to breathe,” Xander wheezed out and the arms loosened marginally, just enough to let him gulp in air. “We only want to put this around you, okay? You’re all naked and that can’t be good. I’ll just move my arms for the blanket to go round and then I’ll put them right back, okay?”

The brief hesitation before Spike nodded was heart breaking. Xander looked up at Willow and Giles, eyes wide in shock and dismay that the Big Bad was reduced to clinging like a limpet to a mere human.

Willow reached out hesitantly and laid a hand on Spike’s shoulder. The blond flinched away from her touch, pressing himself closer to Xander, relaxing only when Willow stepped back.

“Spike? We brought blood. Would you like some blood?” Willow asked softly, speaking as she would to a scared animal.

Another brief hesitation and a nod from Spike and Willow hurried to the kitchen. Giles approached the pair on the floor slowly, coming into Spike’s line of vision. Less than a second later Spike was clinging to Xander again.

“Perhaps we should go,” Giles suggested, looking at Spike sadly. “You seem to be the only one he feels safe with. Maybe a good night’s sleep will help calm him down.”

Willow returned from the kitchen, coming close to them to offer the mug and prompting another clingfest from Spike.

“Spike? Blood for you, nice nourishing human blood,” Xander cajoled, taking the mug from Willow and carefully bringing it closer to Spike. He barely noticed the tears running down Willow’s face as she retreated to stand next to Giles.

Spike unwound one arm from around Xander’s neck, the other grabbing hold of Xander’s shirt as if afraid to let go. He tried to take the mug but his hand was shaking too badly to keep a hold of it.

“Here, we can both hold it together, okay?” Xander whispered, putting his fingers over Spike’s on the mug, holding the weight and letting Spike direct the movement.

“Xander?”

Xander looked at Giles questioningly.

“We’d best be going.”

 He nodded at Giles, watching as they left the apartment, Giles’ arm over Willow’s shoulder, holding her steady as they went.

The moment the door closed, Xander’s full attention returned to Spike. He waited until the mug was empty before putting it on the floor next to them.

“You want more?” he asked softly.

Spike shook his head, going back to hiding against Xander’s neck.

“Right…okay…” Xander tried to figure out what to do next. Giles had talked about a good night’s sleep. He looked outside to see the gray light showing that the sun was about to rise. “We should probably sleep. The slayers can live without me for one day, right Spike?” He waited for some kind of reply but Spike remained silent. “Right. Come on, we need to get up and get in bed.”

Spike shuffled up with Xander, keeping maximum contact between their bodies.

“Spike you need to let me go for a while, we can’t walk like this,” Xander said firmly, trying to take a step away from the vampire.

“If I let you go you won’t be real.”

The words were spoken so softly Xander had to strain to hear them.

“Spike, I promise I’m real. You can touch me, can’t you?”

Spike only looked more doubtful and scared.

“Doesn’t mean you’re real. I dreamed of this before. It wasn’t real.”

Xander let Spike hold on to him as he tried to think of a way to get him to let go. He finally settled for picking Spike up and carrying him, blanket and all, to the bed. He ignored the shocked look on Spike’s face and the way he stared at Xander on the way.

“You picked me up,” Spike said as Xander sat on the bed with Spike in his lap.

“Well you wouldn’t let go!”

“Xander?”

“Yes?” Xander replied, trying to take off his shirt without throwing Spike down.

“You’re real,” Spike whispered in awe, a soft smile gracing his face.

Xander finally managed to get one of the sleeves out, and put his sleeveless hand onto Spike’s thigh, holding him steady as he attempted to remove the other sleeve.

“I know,” he said absently, concentrating on removing his sleeve.

He was shocked to feel two cool hands cup his face and tilt it so that he was looking straight into Spike’s eyes.

“You picked me up.”

“I did,” Xander agreed, letting out a triumphant sound as the other sleeve was tugged off, leaving him in a white vest. “You’re going to have to let go a little okay Spike? I can’t take off anything else and I sure can’t put on anything with you on my lap.”
 
Xander braced himself for another clingfest, but Spike, still staring at him with wide blue eyes, shuffled off of him and onto the bed, his hand immediately grabbing hold of his arm.

“Well, okay then.”

Xander turned off the lights, trying to ignore the cool hand clutching at his bicep. He was about to nod off when he heard a small whimper.

“Spike? You okay?” he asked cautiously.

His only answer was another small whimper.

“Spike, what’s wrong?”

“I can’t see you,” The voice was a mere whisper. “You’re real?”

Xander shivered at the quiet desperation in Spike’s voice. He turned the bedside light on and looked at Spike, taking in the desperation in his eyes.

“I’m real Spike, I promise,” he said softly, tugging at Spike’s hand to bring him closer. Spike followed the movement, curling into Xander’s body and pressing his face on Xander’s shoulder.

“You believe I’m real, right?” Xander couldn’t help but ask. Spike pressed his body a little harder against Xander’s as if to confirm its solidity and nodded.

“You’ll be okay if I turn off the light?” Xander could practically feel Spike vibrate with tension and the brief shake of the head came as no surprise.

“We’ll leave it on then,” he continued, putting an arm around Spike to reassure him that he was real, this was real.

Naked vampire in my bed, wrapped around me like a pretzel because he’s scared of the dark…Never mind, I’ll freak about it tomorrow.


~*~*~*~*~


When Xander woke up the next day, it was to find Spike gazing up at him strangely. In his most drunken moments he may have admitted that some tiny little part of him had been dreaming of having Spike hold on to him like that but the reality of it was disconcerting to say the least.

“Hey there”

“You saved me.”

“Yeah, well…Willow and Giles did all the work, I just sat there and looked pretty,” Xander replied uncomfortably, “Speaking of the magic duo, I gotta give them a call. Grab a pair of sweatpants will you? There’s only so much I can take without having a breakdown.” Getting turned on by Spike is not one of them, he added silently, getting up and leaving the room before Spike could react.

Xander quickly dialed the number and played with the string of his patch mechanically as he waited for Giles to pick up the phone.

“Rupert Giles speaking.”

“Giles, I can’t deal with this. He keeps staring at me with this look and he’s too quiet and what am I supposed to do with him?”

“Good morning to you too, Xander.”

“Giles! This is no time for politeness! I have a naked Spike in my bed and I don’t know what to do with him!”

Xander heard a snicker escape and could just picture Giles trying to control his himself.

“Not funny, Giles.”

“Yes, yes it is,” Giles disagreed and on came the giggles.

Xander contemplated slamming down the phone. His thoughts were interrupted when a panicked Spike burst out from the bedroom and tackled him to the ground.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Spike kept running his hands down Xander’s body, pressing down at times, just enough to meet resistance.

“You’re real, thank fucking hell you’re real.”

Unsure what to do, Xander relaxed and allowed Spike to complete his examination.


“Xander? Is everything alright?”

Giles’ voice reached his ears and Xander reached for the phone again, trying to ignore the cool hands exploring his body.

“Yeah Giles, Spike was just…confused for a moment.”

“All joking aside, perhaps you should bring him in today. We must run some tests, make sure he’s okay, physically at least.”

Xander nodded in agreement. “We’ll be right in.”

He hung up the phone and turned to Spike.

“So…feel like taking a walk?”

Xander quickly got dressed as Spike hovered around him, reaching out to touch him nervously every few minutes. Then he waited within touching distance as Spike got dressed, looking ridiculous if a bit cute in Xander’s too big clothes.

“Ready to meet the big rescuers, then?”

Spike hesitated a little but in the end could practically see the Big Bad taking shape. He watched Spike march to the door and wrench it open.

“What are you waiting for, Harris?”


~*~*~*~*~


They were barely inside the building when Willow showed up in front of them. She hovered close to Spike, smiling that nervous smile of hers.

“It’s okay Red, I won’t freak out.”

“Oh thank God, Spike,” she breathed, her smile turning happy as she threw her arms around him.

Xander took a step back, fighting the urge to push Willow away and grab Spike himself. He was not being jealous or possessive of Spike of all people. Just because he wasn’t sure he was entirely straight and Spike had looked at him like that and he was damn hot, even in the ill-fitting clothes and his body was so yum and…he was not lusting after Spike and that was final!

Willow was finally finished with the Spike-hugging, thankfully before Xander had given in to the urge to act like a Neanderthal.

“Come on. Giles is waiting,” she said happily.

Xander couldn’t help a small smirk when, instead of holding on to Willow, Spike stepped closer to him, grabbing hold of his hand.

“By all means, let’s not let Giles wait,” he said, in a truly horrible British accent, smiling at Willow’s giggle and Spike’s smile.

They found Giles sitting at his desk, frowning down at something in his hand.

“Presenting for duty Mr. Giles,” Xander said cheerfully ignoring the stab of disappointment when Spike let go of his hand.

“Yeah, what do you want, Watcher? Another suicide mission for the vampire? Want to get rid of the thorn in your side again, do you?”

Xander was surprised to hear Spike speak so like his old self.

“I wanted to make sure you came back alright Spike, though for the life of me I can’t remember why I cared!”

Xander had no time to react to the quickly deteriorating situation. Spike took a very deliberate step back, bringing his body into contact with Xander. He was obviously not scared of Giles, the movement wasn’t a retreat. In fact he was still glaring at Xander.

Giles must have noticed the movement because he took a step back himself, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“I’m sorry Spike,” he muttered.

Spike shrugged sullenly, pressing back against Xander a little more firmly.

“We need to run some tests, make sure you’re okay. We just want you to be okay, Spike,” Willow said earnestly, reaching out to touch Spike’s shoulder.

“Okay. Fine. What do you want from me?”

Willow looked at Giles before she replied.

“We…we need you to know where you were.”

Before he even realized what he was doing, Xander stepped forward, coming to stand in front of Spike protectively.

“I thought you said you knew where he was! You can’t just ask him to relive all that; you saw what he was like when you brought him back.”

“We do but we only have theories. We can’t help if we don’t have facts, Xander. We need to know how he got there and what happened before we brought him back. We wish to avoid what happened with Buffy when she returned.” Giles’ voice was calm and reasonable and Xander calmed down, assured that this was necessary.

And why do I care about Bleachboy’s wellbeing again? Xander caught sight of the barely concealed desperation in Spike’s eyes as the blond visibly tried to hold on to the Big Bad. He just looks so damn fragile. He needs me.

Xander’s attention snapped back to the present as Spike started to speak.

“I don’t remember how I got there, I was just there. Angel was there too, I couldn’t see him but I could feel him, and I tried to keep him with me, I did!” he said wildly, as if trying to convince himself as much as the others. “There was nothing there, absolutely nothing. I don’t remember how long we were there for but then Xander was there but only for a moment, he was gone for so long after that…I thought I made him up.” Xander reached out to touch Spike, wanting to assure him of his realness, “I promised to hold on, I promised Xander and I tried to keep Angel with me.”

Spike’s mental condition visibly deteriorated and he started slowly rocking himself back and forth, his arms going around his own waist as if to comfort himself. Xander immediately reached out, pulling Spike into a fierce hug.

“It’s alright Spike, it’s over, this is real, we’re real, I promise,” he said, trying to comfort Spike.

No, no I lost him, I found you and you said to keep Angel with me but I didn’t, I couldn’t and I lost him, he’s gone now, I lost him

Xander glanced over Spike’s head at Willow, not sure how to say what he had to say. He finally settled for the simple truth.

“Angel’s not gone, Spike. He’s in Chicago, still playing vampire detective,” he said, pulling back to look into Spike’s eyes.

“But he was there,” Spike protested, looking a little bewildered.

Xander simply shook his head.

“We made it to L.A. in time to save him from the dragon. You’re the only person we failed, Spike.”

Spike stared quietly for a while.

“He’s okay,” he said, more of a statement than a question.

“He’s okay,” Xander affirmed.

Spike nodded, taking a deep breath and bringing himself back in control.

“There’s one thing I don’t understand,” Giles interrupted, tapping the end of his pen on his notes, “Why Xander? Why not Buffy or Willow or even me for that matter?”

The change in Spike was startling. He went from upset and fragile to angry and strong in seconds.

“None of your business,” he growled, glaring at Giles.

“Spike, we only need to know to-”

“No, I don’t care why you need to know, some things are private,” Spike snarled, flashing into game face for the first time since his return and stalked off, leaving a very puzzled Xander behind.

“Well, that was…” Willow started, trailing off before she finished the sentence.

“Weird?” Xander supplied, still staring at the door in shock.

“Not really,” Giles replied.

“You don’t think that was weird?” Willow questioned.

“No.”

This time Giles sounded positively smug.

The door was slammed open again to reveal a very irritated-looking Spike.

“Well? Are you coming?”

“Erm…sure,” Xander replied, throwing an apologetic look at the others and following Spike. The moment the door was closed he felt a cool hand grab hold of his sleeve.


~*~*~*~*~


The rest of the afternoon passed fairly uneventfully as Spike had his tests done and Xander showed him around the building, introducing him to a couple of slayers on the way. The girls’ reaction to being introduced to William the Bloody himself, amused Spike to no end.

“Never thought I’d meet a Slayer who squealed in joy when she heard my name,” he commented, watching the last one walk away, still looking over her shoulder at them.

Other than the frequent touching and holding of Xander’s hand, Spike seemed to have reverted to his old self.

Limpet Spike didn’t return until they went back to the apartment. The light bulb at the entrance flickered off and in the few seconds it took for Xander to walk to the next switch and turn on the kitchen light, Spike had been plastered all over him.

“Hey, it’s fine, the light’s on, see?” he comforted, wrapping one arm around the blond. The only reaction he got was a tightening of the embrace before Spike released him.

“So…dinner?” Xander suggested, trying for a cheerful tone. “Willow left extra blood last night and that covers you. I think I’ll go for cereal. It’s good for you, has all sorts of vitamins and oh! Milk!” he babbled, getting the blood and cereal as he did. He handed Spike the warmed up blood and sat at the table to eat his cereal. At some point he glanced up, intent on breaking the silence, only to become mesmerized by the movement of Spike’s throat as he swallowed the blood. His mind immediately provided a thousand images of that throat working to swallow his cock, his blood, his anything.

“Seen something you like, Harris?”

“What?” Xander jumped, startled by the harshness in Spike’s voice.

“Seems to me you’re wanting a ride. Like the thought of sticking it to me, Harris? Or do you want to be ridden. Want to take advantage of the poor defenseless vampire? Think you should be repaid in kind for your help, do you?”

At first Xander could only stare at Spike, shaken by the venom and scorn directed at him. Then anger came to his rescue, hot and red.

“Fuck off, Spike,” he snarled, his anger growing when he realized he couldn’t deny everything Spike said. He stormed off, slamming his way into the bathroom.

Xander took a long shower, giving both himself and Spike time to calm down. Neither of them had the best of tempers but he still couldn’t understand where those accusations had come from. He was sure he’d done nothing to make Spike think he would be asking for any kind of repayment. He was sure.

Fifteen minutes later, a calm but confused Xander wrapped a towel around his waist and left the room. The moment he stepped out, a low whimper reached his ears. Eyes widening in alarm, Xander struggled into a pair of sweatpants as quickly as he could and followed the whimper, looking for Spike. He found him wedged between the sofa and the wall, holding one of Xander’s shirts and rocking back and forth.

“Spike?”

“It’s real, smells like him so it has to be real,” Spike was muttering over and over again, holding the shirt close to his face.

Xander kneeled close to Spike and, taking hold of both his hands, pulled him close and onto his lap. He held the vampire close, whispering in his ear, telling him how real this was, how sorry he was to have left him alone like that. Spike slowly calmed down, his whispers and whimpers subsiding to nothing.

Xander breathed a sigh of relief and held Spike like that for a few more minutes.

“We should get some sleep,” he said, letting go of Spike, “Tomorrow we have to go back, Slayers need to be trained and all that.”

Xander let Spike get up, watching as he went into the bedroom. He waited a couple of minutes to allow Spike time to change and followed, finding the blond in bed staring at the door. Spike’s eyes snapped away as soon as Xander showed up.

“I can leave the hallway light on and turn off this one. It’ll still be light, just not as bright.”

“Sure,” Spike replied, a study in indifference.

Xander turned off the light, waited a moment to make sure that Spike was okay with the soft light and got into bed.

The moment he closed his eyes he felt his hand be taking into two cool ones.

“’night Spike.”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander woke up to the most delicious sensations all over his body. Something was rubbing gently against his nipple, a wet trail was being formed down his stomach and his balls were being massaged so fucking perfectly.

The wetness left his stomach and he moaned sadly, chasing the sensation. The wetness returned to engulf his cock just as his balls were pressed more intensely.

Xander’s eyes snapped open as he arched up just in time to see his cock disappear into Spike’s mouth.

“Spike, what, no,” he tried to say, his hands tangling into Spike’s hair, intending to pull him back. Spike chose that time to hum around him. “Fuck,” he groaned. Then his entire cock was swallowed down Spike’s throat, and Xander was lost, bucking once more as he came, shouting his release.

Spike lifted his head to face an obviously distressed Xander.

“Why did you do that? I didn’t want you to do that.”

“You saved me,” Spike said solemnly, uttering the three words guaranteed to freak Xander out.

Xander scrambled away from Spike, getting up to stand next to the bed.

“So this was what, your payment? I never wanted payment, I thought you knew that!” The colour totally drained from Xander’s face. “That’s what you said before, you said I wanted payment. Oh God, I should have told you. I should have…Fuck."

Xander finally noted the anguish in Spike’s face, quickly schooled into apathy as soon as the blond saw him looking.

“Look, you obviously know I want you otherwise I wouldn’t have…” Xander gestured at the rumpled bed. “But not as payment, never as payment. If you…” Xander took a deep breath, trying to work up the courage to go on, “If you want me, I…but not payment, you…I saved you for you not for payment.”

Xander watched warily as Spike got up and came close to him.

“I do want you,” Spike said, pressing his body against Xander in a way that left no doubt as to his physical interest.

“Only because you think I’m some sort of rescuer. The old Spike wouldn’t have done that, not to donut boy Harris,” Xander insisted, still stung by Spike’s earlier declaration.

Spike’s only reaction was to lean in and nuzzle Xander’s neck.

Xander took a step back, shaking his head. “I can’t Spike…I can’t.” He started leaving the room, pausing at the door, “I’ll make breakfast, then we can go to work, okay? Train with the slayers.” So saying, Xander left the room.

Breakfast was subdued, both of them eating silently and as quickly as they could. Xander fought the urge to babble the silence away and managed to remain silent until they reached the New Council. As they entered the building a young girl fell into step next to them. She looked around sixteen, brunette with a ready smile and a bounce in her step.

“Hey, Xan. What are we doing today?” she asked cheerfully, so very obviously a morning person.

“You know Kat, one of these days you’ll wake up grumpy and I’ll be there to taunt you in a very peppy way…” Xander grumbled.

“Yeah, yeah old man, tell it to someone who hasn’t seen you every morning for the past two years.”

“And the pep goes on!” Xander said dramatically. “Today we have a guest speaker.” he added, answering her first question.

“Oh God no, please tell me we’re not getting another one of those stuffy watchers talking, I can’t stand those buffoons!”

Xander heard a snicker from his right and smiled at Kat. She’d made Spike laugh and he was willing to ignore the peppiness for the return of a more normal Spike.

“Actually you’re getting William the Bloody,” he said, grinning at her.

“No shit! I thought he died at the last apocalypse! I remember, you were all upset and uncommunicative for mhmph!”

“I’ll remove my hand if you shut up. I’ll even introduce you to Spike if you shut up. But you gotta promise to shut up. Notice the trend of the sentences?”

Xander ignored the eye-roll preceding Kat’s nod and removed his hand.

“Katerina Stylianou, meet William the Bloody,” Xander said and stepped into the classroom, wanting to avoid Spike’s considering look. So he’d been upset they’d lost Spike, no need for Spike himself to know exactly how upset.

By the time Kat let Spike go, the rest of the girls had come in and Xander was off the hook.

The rest of the day was spent with Xander avoiding being alone with Spike in any way he could. He had Spike talk to every single class, got Kat to talk him into training with the Slayers in the afternoon as Xander watched and directed in his usual coaching role. He was sitting in the sidelines, watching Spike teach yet another dirty move to his girls when Willow wandered into the training room and sat next to him.

“Make with the smoochies yet?”

“What? How could you, why would you? Why?” Xander spluttered, looking at Willow in shock.

“I talked to Giles, he says he thinks Spike has a crush on you and that’s why he showed up in your apartment and not at Buffy’s,” Willow said, smiling smugly at him.

“He only wants me because he thinks I saved him,” Xander replied morosely, watching Spike as he threw one of the girls over his shoulder.

“Oh…” Willow said dejectedly, then perked up, “but he didn’t know you’d rescue him when he showed up did he?”

“No but still…he said he only did it because I saved him,” Xander said without thinking.

“He only did what?”

“Nothing, gotta go.” Xander hastened to leave before he revealed too much.

Less than five minutes later he was back to grab Spike’s hand and drag him away. No way was he letting Willow get a chance to talk to him.

“He only did what?!” Willow yelled after them.


~*~*~*~*~


The next few weeks passed fairly quietly. Giles officially hired Spike as a trainer for the new Slayers and Spike seemed to grow into the role, training the girls harder than Xander ever did. Xander was left to deal with the less physical side of training, and they often worked together fielding the girls’ complaints that they were killing them with training and lessons.

Every night they would sleep in the same bed, Xander lying so close to the edge that he nearly fell off, Spike looking at him sadly from his side until they both fell asleep. Some time during the night Spike’s hand holding Xander’s would turn into Spike’s body wrapped around his.

Every time Spike tried to broach the subject, Xander would babble and retreat, leaving the issue unresolved.

It all came to a head when Xander left the New Council for an errand and didn’t return for three days. He was only supposed to be gone for a few hours but he’d finally gotten a break at a prophecy they’d been working on for months and he chased it without thinking.

By the time he returned Spike was a bundle of nerves, pacing around the building and ignoring all attempts to calm him down. Xander saw the state the blond was in and moved to soothe him only to find himself dragged into his office and slammed against the wall. Spike’s tongue forced its way into his mouth and took everything he could give. The kiss wasn’t about passion or lust, it was more about punishment and need. When the kiss was over he pressed his face in the crook of Xander’s neck, taking a shuddering breath.

“You don’t fucking leave like that. You don’t, I need you, you can’t leave like that,” Spike muttered against Xander’s skin.

“Spike no, you don’t really need me, not like that, you just think you do,” Xander tried to correct Spike, tell him how things really were, “only because you think I saved you.”

“No,” Spike was crowding him now, pushing him close to the wall. “Want you and I’m gonna have you.”

Xander tried to deny Spike’s words again but wasn’t given a chance. The blond swooped down and captured his lips in a hot wet kiss that had Xander hard and panting within seconds. Every time Xander tried to protest Spike would kiss him again until all he could think of were Spike and the things he did to his body.

Spike’s hands were everywhere, pushing under his shirt, cupping his ass to pull him closer, moving to his groin to press against his cock, flicking his nipples and making him moan in pleasure. Xander’s body hijacked his brain and he couldn’t think anything beyond wanting Spike as soon and as hard as possible.

“Touch me, Xander,” Spike whispered, “Been wanting you to touch me.”

Xander’s hands, lying by his side until then, moved into action, one hand curling around Spike’s nape and pulling him in for another kiss while the other burrowed under his clothes to finally explore the body he’d been wanting for so long.

One of his hands brushed against Spike’s groin and, encouraged by the intense reaction to his inadvertent touch, Xander returned to massage and pull at Spike’s cock through the fabric. He felt Spike’s hand work on his jeans and had a moment of clarity. He tried to move back but Spike chose that moment to moan and press agains his hand, still pressing against Spike’s cock.

“Please Xan, don’t stop, want it so bad, please don’t stop.”

The breathless need in Spike’s voice pulled Xander back into the torrent of feeling, allowing Spike to unbutton his jeans and pull them down. Feeling the cool hand wrap around his cock, Xander moaned loudly and reflexively tightened his hand around Spike’s own hardness.

“Oh, hell Xander don’t stop, fuck…please”

The need in Spike’s voice drove Xander on and he leaned close, capturing spike’s lips in another kiss, delving inside to explore and taste him.

“Need to feel you Xan,” Spike muttered and quickly undid his own jeans, pushing them down to his knees and stepping forward to press Xander against the wall. Xander felt Spike’s cock press against his own and pushed forward to increase the sensation.

“Fuck,” he breathed against Spike’s ear, making the blond grin at him in triumph. Spike grabbed Xander hands and placed them on his ass, whispering at him to pull him closer. Xander reflexively obeyed then nearly came as he felt Spike’s cock drag against his. He could honestly swear that he had never felt that good in his entire life. His brain quickly devolved into utter mush, as he pushed harder and faster against Spike, his hands massaging and pulling at the blond’s firm ass, trying to get as much friction as he could. He felt Spike’s ass freeze in his hands and his body tighten up then slump against him. Xander thrust frantically once, twice then burst into orgasm, finally finding the release he’d been craving for weeks.

For a few moments everything was perfect as Xander basked in the physical joy he’d experienced. Then he remembered Spike’s words last time this had happened.

You saved me

Xander pushed away from Spike, shaking his head as he frantically rearranged his clothes.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” he muttered angrily, turning his back to Spike.

“Why the hell not?”

Xander turned back to face Spike, upset at the anger in the blond’s voice. What right did he have to be angry? Xander was the one who had to resist everything he felt for Spike just because Spike couldn’t tell apart real feelings and gratitude for some fake saving thing.
 
“You said it yourself didn’t you? Payment, I saved you and that was payment.”

“I didn’t mean that, it’s not true,” Spike tried to explain but Xander would have none of it.

“No? If you didn’t believe it then why did you say it?”

“Because I was angry!” Spike snapped, “Because I’m a bloody vampire and I’m not supposed to shake when it’s dark and I sure as hell am not supposed to cling to a fucking human to feel better. I couldn’t even leave Xander, I needed to touch you, I know this is real but I still need to touch!”

“Exactly! The old Spike wouldn’t have anything to do with me, you can’t just change like that!” Xander insisted.

“Will you stop it with ‘the old Spike’? This is who I am, pet. I can’t go for more than ten minutes without touching someone and I’m bloody scared of the dark but I’m still Spike. And Spike wants you.”

Xander shook his head, denying Spike’s words causing the blond to huff in annoyance.

“What will it take to convince you, Harris?!”

“Go see Buffy and Dawn. They missed you. I-if you come back it won’t be because you think I saved you or because I’m convenient.”

He looked at Spike to find him looking right back at him with an inscrutable expression on his face.

“Very well then,” Spike said and stalked off, leaving Xander to slide down to the floor and say goodbye to him silently.

Before the first tear had a chance to slide down his face Spike was back, dragging Giles with him.

“If you won’t believe me maybe you’ll believe him,” Spike snapped, pushing Giles forward, “Tell him what you told me.”

“I would be very happy to tell him whatever you wish me to Spike, if only I knew what the sodding hell you’re on about!” Giles snapped glaring at Spike. He took one look at Xander and his eyes went distinctly colder. “It also appears that you broke our agreement Spike.”

“Oh no, you can’t lay this at my door,” Spike protested, pointing at Xander accusingly, “This is the result of his own damn stupidity.”

Xander stared at the two of them, trying to figure out what was going on. Spike and Giles had a deal? What deal?

“Now tell him what you told me before you turned all Ripper on me.”

Giles looked suspiciously at Spike until he was satisfied with what he saw, then sighed and turned to Xander.

“Very well then. Between Spike’s information and my own research, I managed to determine which dimension he was trapped in. The Krangasha dimension operates much like a black hole in that it draws things in and holds them.”  The more Giles talked the more he seemed to warm to his subject. “The main difference is that the Krangasha appears to be semi-sentient and sensitive to the deeper nuances of its contents’ emotions and thoughts. I theorized that the dimension is comprised by small pockets of reality and -”

Xander was beginning to lose focus in a way that was oddly reminiscent of the long research sessions at the library.

“In simple English Watcher. My boy may be smart but you’re speaking a whole other language there.”

Xander smiled slightly at spike. He still wasn’t sure what was going on there but Spike had called him his boy. No matter how misguided the claim was it was nice to hear it.

“Very well…Put simply, Spike was contained in a jail of sorts. The jail was sensitive to Spike’s feelings and desires and reacted accordingly.”

Xander still couldn’t understand what that had to do with him and his confusion must have shown on his face because Spike let out a frustrated groan and Giles hastened to speak again.

“Spike wanted to be with you and the Krangasha got him to you!”

Xander looked first at Spike then at Giles uncertainly.

“I wanted you before you saved me you git!” Spike snapped.

“Yeah I got that. I’m trying to figure out how to get Giles to leave so I can finally fuck you silly,” Xander replied, eyes growing wide in shock when he realized he’d said that out loud.

Giles let out a long suffering sigh and left the room without saying another word.

Despite his earlier words, Xander couldn’t get his body to move, and stared awkwardly at Spike. Spike made no move to touch him which was weird in itself.

 “Spike…I kinda need to know this is real,” Xander said finally.

Before he could even finish the sentence, he was wrapped in Spike’s arms, held as close as humanly possible.

“Oh, it’s definitely real, Xan. Real as I can make it.”




The End




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