Disclaimer: So not mine. Just playing with the characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Co
Beta: umbralillium, sublimatedangel and angelicvampyre. Thanks so much guys for the help you gave me.
Summary: Xander arrives to LA in council business. There are a few surprises waiting for him.
The plane ride had been unbelievably dull. There had been some movies but they had been some romantic crap that really didnít interest Xander one bit. He had also been forced to have a few layovers since there werenít any flights straight from Kenya to LA. Xander thought that the council would have had enough money to give him tickets for the business class, but no, he had flown coach. On the longest flight he had been crammed between two people their mass combined also filled Xanderís seat.. It really hadnít been comfortable. Xander had been travelling for almost two days and two nights and all he wanted now was to find a soft place where he could sleep for the next week at least. Unfortunately he was here on Council business and Giles had said that there would be someone picking him up from the airport.
When he had finally managed to retrieve his bags and cleared the customs where his eye-patch had caused him extra careful examination, Xander made his way to the waiting area. As soon as his eye landed on the people standing there he was already planning on turning back and begging them to allow him back on the plane. He now understood why Giles hadnít said just who would be meeting him. He had known that contact with this person would have to take place at some point, but he had held onto the small hope that he would be allowed to get somewhat settled before that. Now it seemed that wouldnít be happening. Xander took a few deep breaths before heading towards the familiar figure.
"Nice to see you made it here alright. Was your flight nice?" Angel asked, looking uncomfortable.
"Look, I know you really arenít interested in that so can we just cut the crap? Iím tired and I just want to have a chance to eat, sleep and shower." The fact that Xander was annoyed could be heard in his voice. "Iíve spent two days on airplanes and in several airports. I really am in dire need of a shower."
"The car is waiting outside." Angel gave a vague indication towards the door. "You got everything you need?"
"Yeah, just show me the way."
Angel turned and walked towards the doors at a brisk pace, Xander did his best to keep up. He wasnít too surprised that Angel hadnít offered to help with his bags. Xander was very aware of the fact that the dislike he felt for Angel was mutual. Xander was bumped from the left as he attempted to dodge the crowd that was in the airport. It seemed that no matter how late it was you could always find people at an airport. Someone else bumped Xander from his blind side as he looked up watching Angel dodge the humans, Xander almost lost sight of a few times during the trip out of the airport, his annoyance growing, and irritation forming as the vampire didnít even bother to check to see if he was keeping up.
When Xander finally reached the parking lot he could see Angel waiting beside a car, as he got closer he could see that it was a stylish sports car. A puzzled expression crossed his face, according to his knowledge Angelís Wolfram & Hart gig was over and the car surely didnít look like something you could buy when you were practically penniless. Angel obviously read what Xander was thinking from his expression since he offered an explanation.
"This was one of the cars that Wolfram & Hart gave me. I managed to salvage it before the whole building went down and destroyed everything." There was clear defence in Angelís voice. "You still think Iím working for them. I can assure you that they donít want to have anything to do with meÖ well not unless it has something to do with killing me. And that feeling is mutual."
"Hey, Deadboy. I really donít care." Xander lifted a hand in a show of surrender. "Iím here strictly on Council business. I come I do the business and I am out of here as fast as I can."
"But isnít your purpose to see what we are doing and make sure you can trust us? I thought that was why Giles sent you here." Confusion masked Angelís face. "He told me that he was sending someone here to check up on us. He didnít mention it was you. I probably would have sent someone else to pick you up if I had known. I know how you feel about me."
"Crap! Giles never told me what my business here was. Calling him when I get settled and get the rest of info. So this means Iím stuck with you for now?"
"Yeah, it seems we are stuck together for some time." Angel couldnít help the smirk.
Then what Angel had said before struck Xander. He opened the passenger door to the car, sat down and addressed Angel.
"What do you mean you know how I feel about you? Iím pretty sure the feeling is mutual. You just said that you would have sent someone else to pick me up if you had known Giles was sending me."
"Yes, I did say that and I would have done that because I know you canít stand me." Angel answered. "I just thought it would have been easier for you to be picked up by someone you could at least tolerate for some small amount of time. As to my feelings towards you, I donít hate you." Angelís voice changed into a gentler one. "I know youíve helped. I know I havenít really shown it but I respect you. The way you behaved after I lost my soul might have been a bit foolhardy but I still admire the way you stood up to Angelus."
That made Xander go quiet. He had never heard Angel praise him. He had had no idea that the vampire thought those kinds of things about him. He had always been sure that Angel couldnít stand him and only tolerated him because of Buffy. Now it seemed things werenít as black and white as he thought. The rest of the drive was made in silence. Xander didnít pay much attention to where they were driving, too lost in his thoughts.
Finally they stopped in front of an old looking building. Xander couldnít see any signs indicating what the place was, so he gave Angel a questioning glance.
"I own this building." Angel explained. "I owned it before we took over Wolfram & Hart. Itís an old hotel. There are plenty of rooms and Iím sure you will find a suitable one. I donít think you should spend your money on expensive hotels since you can sleep here. It also gives you a good chance to see what we are doing."
The thought of spending all his time in LA in such close vicinity to Angel didnít really appeal to Xander but even he had to admit that what Angel was right. He had a certain amount of money from the Council for his hotel expenses, but it probably wouldnít be enough if he had to spend several nights in town. If he accepted Angel's offer, he would have some more money for all his other expenses.
"Okay, lead the way, Deadboy!"
Angel gave him a glare for the nickname but turned around and went inside the building. Xander followed him a while later. The lobby impressed him. It was obvious there had been some work done there. He really hoped the rooms were also in good condition even though he would have been able to sleep almost anywhere since he was so tired. There wasnít anyone in the lobby and Angel had disappeared somewhere. For a while Xander stood in the middle of the lobby and didnít know what to do.
"Iíve prepared a room for you." Xander jumped as Angel made an appearce behind him. "Only a few of the rooms are in use so there shouldnít be any interruptions. Iíve placed you away from the other occupied rooms."
"Okay, thanks. Could you please show me? Iím exhausted." A yawn interrupted Xander for a while. "I think I can wait to see the rest of your crew until morning, not like I donít know them already."
Xander didnít miss Angelís small wince but he didnít have the energy to think about it right now. Getting some sleep was a bigger priority for him. Anything else could wait until he had had some rest. He followed behind Angel when the vampire slowly ascended the stairs to the upper floors. The rest of the hotel seemed to be gloomier but still clean.
After some walking they stopped in front of one of the doors and Angel opened it. Xander could see that the room was quite spacious and nicely furnished. The bed looked very soft and inviting.
"This is your room during your stay here. Bathroom is through that door." Angel said with a wave towards the door on the other side of the room. "Is there anything you need?"
"No thanks. I think sleep is the first priority."
"Fine. If something comes to mind, my room is the first one in this corridor. Just come and knock on the door if I can help you with anything."
Xander acknowledged that with a nod and stepped into the room. He was just turning around to say to Angel that he really was fine but the vampire was already gone. Xander just shrugged and closed the door. After a cursory wash he buried himself in the covers and was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Xander had no idea what time it was when he woke up. All he knew was that he was pleasantly surprised to notice that for the first time in a long time he felt well rested. For a while he just lay on the bed and thought about things. When he finally managed to get up he went straight to the bathroom and took a shower. It helped him to get rid of the remnants of sleep from his eye and made him ready to face the day.
After the shower Xander drew aside the heavy curtains that covered the window. There wasnít much view from his window but at least Xander could make sure it was daytime. He made his way to his bag and retrieved his watch. It showed the time to be two in the afternoon. Xander also retrieved some clothes and put them on. It was about his last set of clean clothes so he would have to find some place to wash his clothes. He was pretty sure Angel could help him with that. Xander drew a few deep breaths before making his way out of the room. He wasnít too enthusiastic about seeing Angel again or his gang. On his way downstairs, Xander cursed Giles in his mind for not warning him about what the mission was all about. Of course, if he had been told he would have refused to go, so, in a way, he could understand Gilesí motivation.
Xander descended the stairs at a slow pace. The first person that he saw was Angel who was busily going through some papers at the front desk. As soon as Xander was close enough the vampire lifted his head and gave him a small smile.
"Good afternoon, Xander. Did you sleep well?"
"Yeah, I slept fine. Thanks for letting me sleep in." Xander added a full body stretch. "I really needed it."
"No problem. There really isnít that much activity in here before midday." Angel explained. "We usually start working sometime in the afternoon since some of the work must be done after sunset."
"Angel, is there any place I could get some food?" Xanderís request was followed with a rumble from his stomach.
"Donít worry about that. There is stuff in the kitchen. Just go and help yourself."
"I canít eat someone elseís food!" Xander almost yelled.
"It isnít anyoneís in particular. It has just been bought from the store and anyone can eat it."
Giving up, Xander headed towards the kitchen. He was so hungry that there was no energy in him to argue anymore. He made a firm decision to replace everything he ate. He didnít want to be in debt to Angel. The kitchen was actually pretty well stocked with everything needed for a well balanced diet. Xander prepared a few sandwiches for himself before sitting down at the table. There were a few magazines there, so he started leafing through them while he ate. He almost jumped out of his skin when he suddenly noticed someone standing beside the table. Xander had already opened his mouth before he looked at the person any closer.
"You know itís polite to make some noise and not creep on people like that!" Xander admonished.
"Human customs confuse me." A weird voice answered him.
Only then did Xander really looked up from the magazine he was reading and was instantly up from the chair and backing up until his back hit the counter. There was some weirdly clad thing in front of him who was measuring him up and moving in a way that brought very vivid memories to Xanderís mind about a certain substitute teacher in high school. Blue outlined and streaked down the front of the creatures hair and face. It took Xander a while to be able to say anything, but when he finally got his voice back he made good use of it.
The vampire was in the kitchen in a flash. For a moment he looked around but then looked puzzled.
"What is it, Xander?" Angel asked confused. "You sounded like there was something wrong. You look absolutely terrified!"
"C-canít you see that thing?!?"
"What?" Still confused.
"That blue person... femaleÖ thing standing right there!"
"Illyria?" Angel gave a dismissive shrug. "She's one of my crew, sort of."
"Whatís wrong with her? Why does she move like that?"
"Xander, Illyria is an ancient demon-god. She sort of joined our group last year."
"There were no mentions of demon-gods when Giles sent me here!" Xander was still terrified.
"Thatís because he didnít know about Illyria. Just relax. She wonít harm you." Then Angel added a little quieter. "well I donít think so anyway."
"You donít think so!?!" Xander yelled.
"Iím pretty sure about it. Just finish your breakfast and then come back to the lobby."
Then Angel turned to face the third person standing in the room.
"Illyria let Xander finish his breakfast." There was a pleading tone in Angelís voice. "I promise you can get to know him later."
Xander watched as Angel herded the blue thing out from the kitchen. It still took some time before he was able to calm his heart rate enough so that he could continue eating. His thoughts were filled with what he had just seen. Was Angel really harbouring some ancient demon here? It wouldnít look good on the report that he needed to make for Giles. How could you be working for the good side if you had demons working for you? Admittedly, Angel was a demon too but since Xander didnít trust him it didnít make any difference.
Slowly Xander finished eating and then made his way back to the lobby. Angel was standing behind the counter again and the demon Angel had called Illyria was at a cabinet where Xander could see all kinds of weapons. She was obviously checking them out. Xander cleared his throat to announce his presence.
"So where is the rest of your crew?" Xander inquired. "Canít wait to see Cordy again!"
The stricken expression on Angelís face puzzled Xander. He started to get a bad feeling about this.
"I thought someone would have told you." Angelís voice was soft and sorrowful. "Cordy passed away last year. Iím sorry."
"What? When? How?"
"Iím sorry, Xander. I really thought they would have told you. She slipped into a coma a bit over a year ago and never woke up. She passed away last winter."
"What happened to her? What caused the coma?" Xander was frantic.
"There was this godlike creature that caused havoc here last year. She was using Cordy as a host. When we realised that something was wrong it was already too late. We tried to get her all the help we could, but she still didnít make it."
Xander didnít know what to say. Cordy had been his first girlfriend and even after their break-up they had stayed close. Okay, it was Willow who had kept in touch the most, but there had been the odd e-mail and a phone call occasionally. Somehow, Xander managed to make his way to the sofa in the middle of the room before slumping down. He buried his head in his hands. There were a few lonely tears that fell out of his eye. After a while there was a comforting hand on his shoulder. Xander knew it belonged to Angel and he was grateful that the vampire wasnít saying anything but just offering silent comfort. Finally Xander was able to get himself under control again. He lifted his head and gave Angel a wobbly smile.
Then his attention was directed towards the stairs where he could hear some noise. He could see Wesley coming down the stairs. His progress seemed to be quite slow which puzzled Xander a little. In a flash Illyria was up the stairs and helping Wesley. Xander got up from the sofa and went to greet the man he hadnít seen for years now. There was no sign of that insecure Watcher in this man. There were obvious battle scars on Wesley and his pose radiated confidence even if his movement seemed to be slow.
"Nice to see you again, Wesley. Are you alright?"
"Nice to see you as well, Xander. So, you are the person Giles sent here to check up on us." Wesleyís composure changed a little. "I was hurt a bit in the battle and am still recovering."
Angelís indignant shout startled Xander.
"A bit, Wesley?!? You were practically at death's door!" Angel joined them and his distress was clear. "Only Illyriaís intervention saved you. If she had arrived only a few minutes later, you would be dead!"
"All that is in the past, Angel. Iím recovering well now." Wesley defended. "There is no reason for you to keep yelling at me!"
Angelís voice was back to soft and caring.
"I just donít want you to write that incident off like it was nothing. I worry about you."
"Yeah, I can understand." Wesley sighed. "How is our other patient doing today?"
"Donít know. Havenít checked on him yet. Now that he is doing a bit better he is already becoming tiresome. He keeps requesting stuff all the time and being really cranky." Angel sighed deeply. "I guess I better go check before he starts a scene and begins shouting obscenities at us all again."
"How about Gunn? Have you seen him yet?"
"No, he is probably still sleeping." Angel guessed. "He went out last night to check on a few rumours we had about vamp nests. I donít know what time he came in."
Xander had followed the discussion with interest. The name Gunn sounded familiar but he had never met the man. According to Xanderís knowledge, there was only one more person in the group but from Willowís talking, Xander had thought it was a woman. Okay, with the name Fred you could never be too sure. There shouldnít be any people in the group other than the ones already present, and possibly this Fred, so the person they hadnít mentioned by name must be some new person. His thoughts were interrupted by Angel.
"I better go check on our patient before he throws a fit. If you hear some weird noises or stuff being thrown, come save me." There was a definite smirk on Angelís face.
Angelís announcement was met with a few chuckles from the other people in the room. Xander wondered what this mystery person was like. He sounded quite annoying. Reminded him of a certain vampire from his past. Angel disappeared to the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with a cup in hand and headed upstairs. Xander would have liked to follow him to see this mystery person but he didnít think it would be proper to disturb someone he didnít even know. He would just have to wait until a chance to meet him was presented to him.
Silence fell in the lobby after Angel left. Illyria had escorted Wesley to sit on the sofa that Xander had vacated. Xander decided to take the opportunity to make the call to Giles. He did know there was a time difference but couldnít remember which way it went. He just hoped Giles wouldnít be too cross with him if he happened to call too late.
As it came out it was already midnight in London but Giles was surprisingly forgiving about that. Xander could guess it had something to do with the fact that Giles felt guilty about sending him to Angel without telling him anything about it. The call was over pretty fast but Xander managed to get the most important facts. He decided to cut Giles some slack about the fact that he hadnít told him what his mission was beforehand.
After the call Xander still sat in the lobby for a while but finally the silence started bothering him, Xander decided to go back to his room. He still needed to take care of his laundry. He hoped someone would be able to tell him where he could go to wash it.
He excused himself and slowly made his way up the stairs. When he made it to the second floor he could hear voices from somewhere. His curiosity won out and he headed towards to sound. He promised in his mind that he would just peek in to see what kind of guy they had there but not disturb them any more. The voices got stronger the closer he got. Finally he was able to see an open doorway and he slowly crept closer until he was just at the door. The sight in front of him made him gasp. Angel was sitting on the edge of a bed. Xander was able to see just a glimpse from the other person but it was enough for him.
"Spike!" He yelled.
"Hello, whelp!" Spike greeted him.
"But you died!" Xander was still yelling.
"Been dead for over a hundred years, your point?."
The familiar smirk was grazing Spikeís lips and Xander suddenly remembered why he couldnít stand the guy.
"Ha, ha, very funny fangless." Xander feigned a laugh. This was feeling familiar.
Now it was again Angelís turn to interfere.
"Xander, it seems you werenít informed about Spike returning either. He popped into my office from that same necklace he was wearing when he burned with the Hellmouth. He has been with us for almost a year now, it seems longer however."
"You mean the others know about this? They didnít bother telling me?!" Xander was almost yelling again and quite angry.
"Donít know who knows about my return." Spike answered him. "Andrew knew at least, since he saw me when he came to LA for that insane slayer. Never knew if he told anyone, Iím sure at least Giles knows. That little prat wouldnít be able to keep his gob shut."
Xander felt betrayed. It seemed he had been totally out of the loop during his time in Africa even if he had his regular phone calls to Giles to report his progress with retrieving the slayers. It seemed Giles hadnít seen it necessary for him to know about Cordyís fate or about Spike returning back to unlife. Xander was shaken from his thoughts by Spikeís voice.
"You going to hover in the doorway for the whole day, whelp?"
"Could you please not call me that, bleachboy?" Xander answered, annoyed.
"Goes both ways, pet." Spike tilted his head a little.
"Not your pet either."
"Just a figure of speech, pet."
Xander couldnít understand how everything Spike said seemed to get on his nerves. They had achieved a reluctant truce before facing the First but the snarking had never ceased. Xander slowly made his way inside the room and ended up standing beside the bed. Spike was lying deep under the covers and only his head, arms and shoulders were showing. Xander couldnít see anything wrong with him there but since it seemed the younger vampire was bed bound there had to be something wrong. Of course Xander couldnít ask even that without a small insult slipping.
"So you are just laying here and letting everyone wait on you, or what?"
"If I had the choice I would prefer being out of here as fast as possible." Spike pressed his head down. "Unfortunately my severed spinal column and broken legs donít agree with me. You should already know that being forced to stay still would drive me crazy. I donít expect you to do anything for me."
Xander could detect a small amount of hurt in the vampireís words and felt a bit bad for being so harsh. He actually did know that Spike needed something to do all the time or he would flip. He was sure that being forced to lie still for a long time was really getting to the younger vampire. Xander tried to amend his earlier words a little.
"Look, I didnít mean anything bad with my words." Xander said apologetically. "You know me. My mouth runs faster than my brain and I say things I donít really mean. If thereís anything I can do for you, all you have to do is ask. Iím pretty sure I will be spending a few weeks here. Giles said that I should examine the crew's work here very carefully. He didnít give me any deadline when I have to be back."
"Thanks. Didnít mean to snap at you either." Spike says quietly. "Itís just that Iíve been forced to lie here for weeks now, ever since that battle. Itís really starting to get to me. It'd be nice if you could find time to come and talk with me occasionally. It'd be nice to have a new person to talk with while the others are busy with running the agency. I do understand that you have your responsibilities too but in case you have time on your hands I would appreciate the company."
Xander was sure it was difficult for Spike to admit that he craved something as simple as someone to talk to, especially to Xander. He decided that if Spike was ready to make the effort to be civil he could do it as well. He always had the option to walk out if the vampire got too annoying. Xander decided to start trying to make an effort right away.
"Has there been any progress with the healing?"
"Yeah, there have been some advances. Peaches here was kind enough to give me some of his blood. It's better than the pig's blood I have to drink otherwise. I would imagine that in a month I should be able to get up from the bed, at least for short periods of time. That is if Peaches keeps giving me his blood."
Angel joined into the conversation again with some annoyance in his voice.
"Spike, I already told you that if you donít stop calling me that, you will have to do without my help."
Xander couldnít help the snigger that escaped his mouth. As his reward he received an annoyed glare from Angel and an amused one from Spike. It lightened the uncomfortable atmosphere in the room and Xander could breath a little easier. He had never been comfortable in Angelís company and even though he had achieved some kind of truce with Spike, Xander still couldnít forget the fact that he was a vampire.
During the following weeks, Xander realized that he was spending quite a lot of time with Spike. Since the vampire wasnít able to move at all they concentrated on telling each other about their lives. Xander was surprised to notice that the stories Spike told about his years terrorizing the world were actually quite interesting, as long as all the worst gory details were left out. Spike had seen so much of the world and experienced so much that Xander found himself envious of the vampire. He would have given anything to be able to experience all that. Okay, he had seen quite a lot of Africa during his year there, but since he'd had a job to do and a tight schedule, he hadnít been able to enjoy the new places or see much of them. They also shared the moment when Spike realised that he was able to wiggle his toes a little and could feel something when Xander poked his legs with his fingers. Xander was genuinely happy for the younger vampire. He could believe that being forced to lie still for such a long time must have been a pain.
To his surprise, Xander noticed that he was also telling Spike about quite a lot of his life. He told him about the different places he had managed to visit in Africa and about the people he had met. The most surprising thing was that Xander really felt that it was easy to talk with Spike... so easy that one day he blurted out his deepest secret, which he hadnít even shared with Buffy or Willow. The moment he realised that he had revealed to Spike that he was bisexual, he cut his talking short and wait for the ridicule to start. Xander was sure that Spike couldnít resist an opportunity that good. The vampire, however, just sat still and waited for him to continue. When Xander stayed silent a concerned frown appeared on Spikeís face.
"Pet, is something wrong?" Spike enquired. "You were just in the middle of a good story. I want to hear the rest of it too."
For some reason Spike comment made Xander see red. He was sure Spike was already mocking him in his mind and just wanted Xander to blurt out more material Spike could torture him with at a later date. Xander surged up from the chair he sat on.
"Yeah, there really is something wrong!" he yelled. "You pretending to be all nice and stuff while I know you're just a monster. I know you donít care about me and my stuff. Youíve probably just listened my babble so that you can ridicule me later with everything Iíve said and twist it all around."
There was a puzzled expression on Spikeís face. He tipped his head a little and regarded Xander.
"Pet, what happened? We were having a good conversation here. I canít understand what made you get that upset."
"You just think Iím still that stupid zeppo who everyone can make fun of, but you are wrong!" Xander could feel tears welling up in his eye. "Iíve grown a lot and I now know that Iím a human too and I donít have to take crap from everyone just to be accepted."
"Of course, Iíve never thought you were stupid." Spike tried to say calmly. "You just couldnít use all your potential in the Slayerís shadow. Iím sorry if Iíve implied anything different."
"Oh, youíve never thought I was stupid?!? What about all that time you had the chip in your head and needed our help in surviving? I never heard a friendly word out of your mouth." Xander directed an accusing finger towards Spike. "You were always making fun of me then. Why would it be any different now?"
Now even Spike was starting to get angry. He had no idea what had happened to make Xander change from the nice person talking with him to this raving person who kept throwing inappropriate accusations at him and behaving pretty weirdly. Spike knew that his eyes were now at least tinged with gold.
"It was my defense mechanism. You canít say you were exactly friendly with me either during that time." Spike voice started rising in volume. "You were making fun of me all the time too. I just gave as good as I got."
"So you're saying that if I hadnít made fun of you, you wouldnít have ridiculed me at every turn?" Xander faked a laugh. "Yeah right, if you think I believe that you're the one who's stupid here!"
Spike tried to rewind back to come up with some reason for this outburst. He tried really hard to remember what the last thing he or Xander had said before this all began. Then it struck him.
"So, is this all about the fact that you told me you like to shag guys too nowadays?"
Spike managed to get some smirk into his question. He knew it probably would rile the boy even more but Spike was pissed off now as well. He didnít care about Xanderís feelings anymore. The boy had gone too far.
"I knew it! I knew you were going to use that small slip to get back at me for everything." The tears were really close now. "I hope you have fun. I should have already learned to keep my mouth shut in your presence."
"Why would I care about you shagging blokes? Hey, vampire here. We like to shag everything that moves, at least on two legs." With a lower voice Spike added "and excluding you."
He didnít say that quiet enough. Xander caught what he said, and it angered him even more.
"Oh, now you are saying Iím not good enough for you?! Like I would fuck you even if you offered or begged. I wouldnít touch you even with a meter long pole."
There was again a smirk on Spikeís face.
"Oh, pet, I think you're exaggerating your measurements a little right now. Remember, Iíve lived in the same place with you. You donít think I sneaked a peek occasionally?"
That made Xander go red in the face. At the same time Angel raced to the room to see what the commotion was about. Xander used the distraction to his advantage and left the room. He went straight to his own room and locked the door behind him. He didnít want to see anyone right now. Xander couldnít believe that he hadnít learned his lesson yet. Spike was just an evil creature and would never be anything else. Xander just hoped he would get his assignment done quickly so that he could return back to Africa where there wouldnít be any annoying sexy blond vamps bothering him. Then Xander stopped on his tracks. He had NOT just thought the words sexy and blond vamp in the same sentence. This really required some actions right now.
Xander decided to resort to a remedy that had helped on previous occasions, drinking. He was aware of the fact that he was worryingly following his fatherís steps here, but right now he didnít care. He left his room and hoped that he wouldnít meet anyone on his way out. He managed to make it to the front door before he heard Angel calling for him. Xander didnít stop. He knew it was still light outside so the vampire couldnít follow him. When he had cleared the door, Xander broke into a run to make sure that he wouldnít be followed. He didnít want company.
The neighbourhood wasnít familiar to Xander, but since LA was a big town, he was sure he would stumble across a bar sooner or later. Usually there were more bars and pubs than needed in these big cities. Xander's guess proved to be right, and it didnít take him too long to find a few places. He, however, went past them since he wanted to get further away from the hotel to lessen the chance of anyone finding him. Finally he found a place that didnít look too suspicious. He went in and headed straight for the bar. There werenít many patrons in there. Xander bought a beer and a shot to start him up and retired to a corner table to enjoy his drinks.
It didnít take long before both glasses were already empty. Xander again went and bought a new beer and two shots. It didnít take long for him to drink those either. It was beginning to get frustrating for Xander since it seemed the alcohol wasnít working. He still kept thinking about Spike and seeing the vampireís face in front of him. It was really annoying him. Something more was needed. Xander again ventured to the bar. This time he ordered a whole bottle of the strongest stuff they had. A weird green bottle was set in front of him. Xander turned the bottle to see the label. There was the text ĎAbsintheí in large letters there. Xander had never had Absinthe before but he had heard that it was good stuff. He paid for the bottle and retired back to his table.
He was given a few weird glances when he sat alone at the table with the bottle but Xander didnít give a damn. He wanted to forget everything and the liqueur was going to help him do it. Xander opened the bottle with a twist and poured the first shot glass full of the stuff. The person tending the bar had given him some sugar with the bottle so Xander assumed he was supposed to add that to the glass. Then he threw the shot down his throat. It burned on its way down and Xander was surprised by the strength of the stuff. He had drank raw spirits before but this was something different.
After quite a few shots Xander found himself having a conversation with the old man pictured on the label of the bottle. He was good conversational company since he never argued with whatever Xander said. Actually the old man didnít say much. Xander found it a bit strange and maybe a bit rude. He had tried to be friendly but the other one just stared at him. After a while Xander didnít care. He just kept pouring more of the booze into his glass and downing the shots with considerable speed. Soon Xander was sure that he already had several old men to talk to. For some weird reason, they all looked the same. Xander found this a bit peculiar but since there seemed to be many bottles of the stuff left, Xander didnít mind. He didnít think the old men were drinking too much of his Absinthe.
This went on for a while before someone stepped into his light and Xander lost most of the old men he had been talking to. Irritated he looked up. He could see several hulking figures standing beside his table. He tried to squint to see more clearly but the men beside the table just multiplied from that, so he gave up. Then it seemed that all the men beside the table spoke at the same time
"Xander, are you alright?" A concerned voice asked him.
Hmmh, Zander. That sounded familiar. Wonder if he knew someone who was called Zander. He didnít think it was a very common name so he should remember if there was someone called that but for some reason he couldnít come up with anything. He tried to articulate clearly in case the hulking guys beside the tables didnít understand him. To his own ears the result sounded a bit slurry.
"Shorry, buddy. There ish no Zander here. Has you ashked the other people. Wonder isf my companionsh here knew him."
He gave a general wave towards the old men he had been talking with. It seemed they were moving around at the moment so he couldnít be absolutely sure where they were exactly. For some reason the hulking figures seemed to sigh all at once. He found it weird. Was there a problem of some kind? Then they all talked at the same time again.
"Xander, I think itís time to go home now." The same concerned voice.
Weird persons. They were again talking about this Zander guy even there werenít anyone of that name here, at least not that he knew of. Then his attention was drawn to totally different things when he was grabbed, hauled up and suddenly the world seemed to be upside down. He thought it was unfair for the world to go upside down just when there was so much going on. By sheer luck he still had a firm grip on the Absinthe bottle. The old men had mysteriously disappeared. He thought they probably wanted to avoid any trouble and had therefore left at the first sign of complications. He thought it a bit rude since they didnít even say goodbye to him. Then the room seemed to move and his table was getting further and further away all the time. He could hear some noises around him but he couldnít hear what was being said.
Then he was already outside for some weird reason. The world was still upside down and he really couldnít understand what was going on. Suddenly the world tilted upright once more and he found himself sitting in a car. There was a hulking figure standing beside him. Now there seemed to be just the one. The others had obviously gone somewhere else. Although, if he tilted his head a little he thought he did see a few lurking around. Something was again being said but he couldnít catch the words. Then one of the hulking figures was sitting beside him and the car was moving. There was something familiar about the figure but he couldnít grasp what it was. The car moving was worrying him. Where was this person taking him? This was kidnapping!
"Hey, buddy! Whatsh thish about?" Xander tried to yell. "Where are yoush taking me? Iím going to shcream!"
"Settle down now, Xander. You are drunk and Iím taking you home." There was a tinge of annoyance in the voice. "You need to sleep that off."
Again this weird Zander guy. And what was this talking about home? How did this guy know where he was living? Or maybe this guy was a stalker that kept following him and had finally decided to take the final step and was taking him to some horrible place for torture. He tried to grab the door's handle to get out of the car but before he managed to do more than get the door a little open the car swerved and finally stopped.
"What the hell do you think you are doing you moron!?!" Angel yelled.
There was something weird on the guy's face right now. It looked quite a bit more angular and the teeth looked pretty weird. There were a few longer than the other ones.
"Iím getting out of thish car! Youíve got no right to take me anywhere!" He tried to point an accusing finger towards the hulking figure but he wasnít sure which one of them to point at. "Iím going to inform the copsh about you!"
"Oh, shut up now! Iíve got no patience for this! So happy when I can get rid of you! Canít wait until I have you tucked in bed."
That sounded pretty scary. He watched while the hulking figure went around the car and did something to his door before getting back behind the wheel and starting to drive again. He again tried to open the door but nothing happened. He was truly trapped. The hulking guy was talking about getting rid of him and tucking him into bed. He was aware of the fact that he had had relations with men before but he had no desire to have anything with this strange guy. Also if there were plans of getting rid, of him it really didnít sound too good. His thoughts were interrupted by the car stopping in front of a big building. He strengthened his hold on the bottle. At least he could use it as a weapon if it came to that. He wasnít exactly sure if he could overpower this guy since it seemed he occasionally had some clones helping him, but he wasnít going to give up without a fight. The door on his side of the car was opened.
"Can you walk by yourself or do I have to carry you again?"
He tried to take a fighting stance but for some reason failed miserably and ended up staggering against the car. Then the world was upside down again and it seemed he was moving somewhere. This time he realised that this hulking figure was carrying him. He didnít like the idea and started hitting all reachable places with the bottle he still had in his hand. It, however, seemed that his hits didnít have any effect on his kidnapper. It might have had something to do with the fact that most of his swings didnít hit their mark. Then they were inside the building. After a while it seemed they were going up some stairs. He deduced that this was as good time as ever to start screaming.
"Shomeone, help me!"
"Oh, really, shut up Xander! You need to sleep until your head clears."
The rocking motion was starting to make him feel a bit nasty. It felt like something was crawling out of his stomach. Finally he could keep it inside himself anymore and ended up heaving all over the back of the guy carrying him. Served him right for kidnapping him.
"Oh, fucking hell!"
Suddenly he found himself on the floor. He tried to crawl away when he heard the cursing behind him but for some reason his hands and legs didnít want to co-operate with him. In the end he just decided that the floor would be a very nice place for him to rest for a while. He lay down while cradling the bottle against his chest. When he closed his eye he could still hear colourful cursing coming from many different directions. Then everything was dark around him.
When Xander woke up he really hoped he would die. His head was pounding, and he was pretty sure there were some alien life forms trying to fight their way out of it. It really wasnít a pleasant feeling. Gradually he started noticing things around him. He was laying on something soft that he thought must be his own bed. He didnít have any idea how he had ended up there. When he thought really hard he could remember going out for a drink but then everything was kinda hazy. For a while Xander pondered really hard if it was worth the agony to try to open his eye. Finally his bladderís needs forced him on the move. Very slowly he pried his eye half open. Even though the room was completely dark, a flash of agony struck him and he had to close his eye again.
After a while he tried again. He again started opening his eye at a very slow pace. This time he got the eye all the way open but then he needed to lie still for a while to let the wave of nausea pass. With slow measured movements Xander started moving his limbs in order to make it to the bathroom in the near future. He ached all over. Finally he was sitting on the bed, so that was an accomplishment. He needed to rest for a while before continuing. It took him quite a while to make it to the bathroom but finally he was standing in front of the toilet taking care of his business. He did sway a little but managed to hit the toilet bowl and not pee all over the bathroom.
His next goal was the bathtub. Shower would have been quicker, but Xander didnít think he could manage to stand on his legs long enough to take a shower so his only option was a bath. The thought of being able to soak in warm water for a long time sounded really nice. He started the water and then started stripping off his clothes. They were totally rumpled since he had slept in them. He also could smell a faint smell of puke so it seemed he had been sick at some point. It made him shiver and really think about how he had made it back to the hotel. He really didnít remember anything after the first shots of that Absinthe. Even the thought of that vicious liquid made Xanderís stomach churn. He very soon realised that he had to heave again. Luckily he was near the toilet. As soon as he made it there he emptied the rest of the contents of his stomach.
After quite a long time Xander felt it was safe to move further away from the toilet. He flushed it and stepped to the bathtub. By now it was pretty much filled up, so Xander cut the water flow and stepped into the tub. The water was quite hot, but it just felt wonderful on his skin. He gradually sank all the way into the tub so that only his face was above the water. He could feel the calming effect of the water seeping into his muscles and he felt quite relaxed. It was a wonderful feeling. If nothing would disturb him, he would spend quite a lot of time here.
His peace was, however, disturbed quite quickly by someone pounding at the door. He could hear some distant yelling but couldnít decipher the words. Xander just kept hoping that whoever it was behind the door would leave soon. He didnít have any interest in talking with anyone right now. To his horror, Xander could hear the door opening and finally Angelís voice calling for him. Xanderís only hope was that when Angel didnít find him in the room he would give up and leave. His hope proved to be in vain when the door to the bathroom opened and he could see Angel standing there.
"Glad to see you up, Xander. How are you feeling?" Angel sounded quite concerned.
"Just peachy. Can I please have my bath in privacy?"
"Sure. When you're done, go see Spike. Heís been yelling at us to go fetch you quite some time now. Itís getting on my nerves really bad now."
Xander gave some thought to what he could remember about the previous day and made his decision.
"I donít think so, Angel. I have no desire to see him. I actually think that Iím pretty much done here. Iíve got all the information I need, so I can return back to London to give my report. I'll be out of your hair soon. I just need to place a call to the airport and see when I can fly out."
"So you're leaving us?" Angel sounded quite surprised.
"Yeah, there's nothing for me here anymore. Iíve followed your actions for a few weeks now and seen what you're doing here. I can well return back now. Iím sure Giles already has a new assignment for me.Ē Xander paused for a while. ďNow if you'll excuse me I'll go back to enjoying my bath. I'll join you downstairs when Iím done. I'll try to place a call to London as soon as possible."
"What should I tell Spike?"
"I donít really care. Just let him know that Iím gone and he doesnít have to see me ever again. Iím glad for him that he got another chance and Iím sure he'll be an asset for you once he has healed completely." Xander turned his gaze away from Angel. "I, however, donít have anything to say to him anymore. I think we said everything necessary the last time we saw each other."
"You know, heís sorry for yelling at you."
Xander was beginning to get frustrated. His relaxing bath time was proving to be anything but that. He gave one resigned sigh before speaking again.
"Look Angel, can I please finish my bath? I'll be downstairs in a minute but I need to relax for a while."
"Yeah sure, sorry I disturbed you. Iíll see you in a while then."
Then the door was finally closed and Xander could go back to enjoying his bath. Now it was, however, disturbed by all kinds of thoughts. It was clear that he wasnít needed here anymore. He had more than enough material to present to Giles when he returned. He had never been comfortable in Angelís presence so leaving would be a good idea on that front too. The other members of the Angel Investigations team were nice and Xander had enjoyed their company, even if Illyria still kept creeping him out occasionally. Her movements and patterns of speech were so different.
Then there was Spike. Xander had thought that they had become something resembling friends, but their fight the previous day had proven him wrong. Spike still despised him and thought of him only as a completely useless guy. It wouldnít be a problem otherwise, but Xander could remember something else about the previous day as well, or, more precisely, about the last few weeks. He had enjoyed Spikeís company a lot and it had been fun remembering the first days of Spike being forced to ask for help from the Scoobies and the many years of co-operation that had followed.
Then, of course, there were the thoughts that had taken control of his mind after the fight. The thinking of Spike as sexy had thrown him bad. Even now, dangerous pictures were conjured up in his mind. There were pictures of Spike being half naked and prancing around like he had done during the time in Xanderís basement. There were pictures of the post-soul Spike when he was totally messed up. Xander was very distraught when he realised that he was thinking that Spike had been quite adorable then. Then even more dangerous pictures started coming. From the deepest part of his mind Xander conjured pictures of Spike laying naked on the bed with a hungry glaze over his eyes. It was very disturbing when Xander could feel his cock stirring into life. It had been a while since he got laid, so probably anything would have made him horny, but for some reason his imagination just kept providing him with more pictures until Xander was forced to grab his cock and start stroking it. It didnít take long for him to come. What escaped his lips scared him even more. Even if it was just a whisper, Xander did realise that he had just spoken Spikeís name and that was what had helped him over the edge.
After he had had some time to calm down, Xander quickly got out of the tub. The only thought in his mind now was that it definitely was a good idea to get out of LA as fast as possible. He really didnít want Spike to find out about this. He would never see the end of it if the vampire found out that Xander might be harbouring some feelings towards him. The horror picture of that was enough to convince Xander that he needed to get out of here right now. He quickly got dressed and started walking down the corridor to make it downstairs. He would phone the airport immediately and hopefully he would be able to buy a ticket back to London very soon.
He hadnít made it far down the corridor when he realised that to get downstairs, he would be forced to walk past Spikeís room. He also noticed that the door to the room was open wide so it was very probable that the vampire would catch a glimpse of him if he walked past. He was still thinking of what to do when he made it to hearing distance from the door. There was obviously someone in the room with Spike. That someone proved to be Angel.
"Angel, did you ask him to come to see me?" Xander could hear Spike asking.
"Yeah I did, but if I were you, I wouldnít keep high hopes of that happening." Angel answered quietly. "He told me to tell you that he is leaving on the first possible plane. In his opinion, his work here is done. I got the strong impression that he had no plans of seeing you before he went."
"I guess I hurt him pretty bad yesterday." Xander thought he could detect some sadness in Spike's voice.
"That's quite probable, especially since I found him in this seedy bar with a half empty Absinthe bottle beside him. He was so wasted that he didnít even recognise me. I donít think he even recognised his own name. It was quite a strain to bring him back here. He kept trying to escape all the time."
"I would at least want an opportunity to apologise. I was really mean and said a lot of things I really didnít mean. I donít want us parting on angry terms." A small pause. "Itís been fun talking with him during this time. It's made the time go so much quicker. He's made laying here so much easier. Canít you carry me downstairs so that I would get a chance to see him once more?"
"Spike, you know what the doctor said. You shouldnít move at all. It might hinder the healing process. Youíve made so much progress already. I donít want anything bad happening." Angel thought for a while. "I'll try to talk with him again and try to convince him to come and see you before he goes."
Xander was listening to this conversation with interest. It really sounded like Spike was sorry for all the things he'd said. Come to think about it, Xander also needed to apologise. He'd said some pretty nasty things to Spike. His own slip up had just made him so mad. Since he was sure some ridicule was about to come, his defense mechanism had kicked in gear. With Spike, insulting him had always worked. Xanderís mind had been set on hurting the vampire before Spike had the chance of doing the same to him. The next sentence caught his attention again.
"Xander is actually looking pretty nice nowadays. I guess the time in Africa really was good for him."
Xander would have very much liked to know what Spike meant with that comment but the more polite side of him won, and Xander stepped to the doorway so that both vampires could see him. They were both obviously surprised to see him standing there. Xander wanted to get the things he had come there to say out of his mouth as quickly as possible. Then he could get rid of this town for a long while.
"Look Spike, Iím sorry I yelled at you yesterday. Something just flipped in me and I was being unfair. Can we put it all behind us and be civil again?"
Angel obviously thought this was his cue to leave the room. When he went past Xander he whispered that he was going to start calling the airline companies to see when he would be able to get a flight out. Xander nodded his thanks and then turned his attention back to Spike. This was the moment of truth. This would be an ideal chance for Spike to either throw it all into his face or be civil about it and they could return to the tentative friendship they had going on before the fight. Not that it mattered a lot since Xander was leaving, but it would be nice to know that if they happened to meet someday, they could talk like civilized persons should. Then Spike answered him.
"Xander, I should also apologise. I shouldnít have yelled at you either. I said things that I really didnít mean."
The vampire sounded sincere. Slowly, Xander went to stand beside the bed and offered his hand.
Spike grabbed his hand immediately and shook it firmly.
"So how are you feeling? Your toes still working?"
Xander could see Spike concentrating and then the covers moved clearly just where Spikeís toes should be. To Xander it looked that there had been even further progress and he was happy for the vampire. It wouldnít take long before he had his full movement back. Xander was sure Spike was already impatiently waiting to return to be a full time member of the AI team. He gave Spike a bright smile.
"Itís looking good. You'll be up from there in no time."
The expression on Spikeís face became serious.
"Xander, do you really have to leave? I hope you're not leaving because of me." Spike voice was a bit pleading. "I already told you I was sorry for saying those things. I donít want you to leave because of something I said when angry."
The expression on the vampireís face was actually pretty sad. It hurt Xander a bit since he knew he was the reason for the expression. Even if he had tried to deny it, it was actually Spikeís fault that he was leaving. The reason wasnít their fight the previous day but the feeling Xander had started developing towards the vampire. He didnít want to stay here where there was the danger of Spike finding out about his feelings. He couldnít take the ridicule that would most certainly follow. Spike had made it quite clear how he felt the previous day when he had said that vampires would fuck anything with two legs but had dismissed Xander in the same sentence.
"Spike, I have to go. I think Iíve actually already stayed here too long. Iím sure Giles already has some other assignments for me. Iíve seen the way the team does its work here. That was my assignment and now that Iím done, Iím needed elsewhere. My decision has nothing to do with our fight, other than it made me realise that it was time for me to go. I donít resent you or anything like that so donít be scared about that. Itís just that I have a responsibility to the New Council. They are my employer now."
As soon as Xander had stopped talking, Angel appeared at the doorway.
"Xander, I called all the airports but unfortunately the flights to London are all booked full for two weeks. Thereís been some strikes and such. I did try using some of my connections but it was no use."
"Crap!" Xander sighed. "I guess I donít have a choice then. I think I'll get out of your hair anyways. Since Iíve done my job already, there's no need me to hang around here being a nuisance."
"No Xander, I insist you still stay here." Angel came closer. "Your presence has actually helped us a lot. Spikeís been a lot more manageable when youíve kept him company. Earlier, we didnít have time to be with him so much and he was feeling lonely. That in turn made him irritated and it caused a lot of fighting and yelling. Itís been so much more pleasant here during these weeks."
"But Angel, I canít keep using your hospitality. Youíve already fed me daily without accepting anything in return. Youíve also offered me a place to stay. Let me at least pay you something."
"Xander, first of all we're friends, at least I hope so, and I canít accept a payment from you. Secondly, youíve already helped a lot by taking care of that irritating Childe of mine..."
Spikeís hurt voice interrupted Angel.
"Oi, Iím still present in the room, you know!"
Angel just gave the smaller vampire a tired glance and continued.
"As I already said, youíve helped a lot with Spike. It has given me more time to take care of my actual job. It has done good for the agency. Youíve been more helpful than you can even imagine. Therefore, there will be no talk about leaving this place before you're forced to leave for the airport."
Xander still opened his mouth to protest, but the glare Angel gave him convinced him that the vampire was ready to bodily restrain him from leaving so he just snapped his mouth shut and gave Spike a look that clearly said, "How do you deal with this guy?" Spikeís answering snigger and the lifted eyebrow were answer enough. Xander couldnít help but smile. In his mind he made a promise to himself that he would just have to be careful around Spike so that the vampire didnít find out about his feelings. Two weeks wasnít too long. He could make it. If the temptation got too strong, he could always escape to his own room. There were always excuses that he could use.
Everything seemed to go fine. Xander spent most of his time with Spike. They shared even more stories, but Xander made sure he kept his stories of his sexual life to himself. He didnít want to remind Spike about them. He didnít want another fight. He also didnít want Spike again telling him that he would fuck anyone else but him. Especially now that Xander was aware of his own feelings towards the vampire, he didnít want to hear it. He did know it, and it hurt, but hearing it would hurt even more. Neither of them mentioned the fight again or any of the things that had led to it. Spike continued gaining motor skills. It seemed that every day he could move a little bit more. Xander, however, suspected that there still was a long way to go and he was pretty sure that he would be gone before Spike would be able to walk again.
One thing that Xander found very disturbing was the fact that he seemed to dream about Spike all the time. Almost every night he had some x-rated dreams and in the morning he woke up with an insistent erection that wouldnít go away and Xander was forced to take care of it in the shower. It was getting really frustrating. Xander was, however, happy that he was able to restrain his thoughts in the vampireís presence. He was very aware of the fact that vampires had a very keen sense of smell and he was sure Spike would smell him if those x-rated thoughts made an appearance. Xander was also happy that Angel was taking care of changing Spikeís clothes and bathing him once in a while. If Xander would have been forced to be in close vicinity of a naked Spike, he probably wouldnít have been able to control his urges.
After a week Xander was in for a surprise. He had had his morning shower. He had gotten rid of his morning wood caused by the dreams again and his breakfast had been eaten. He was heading for Spikeís room. When he opened the door he was faced with Spike sitting on the bed. There was nothing new about that since Spike had been able to change his position by himself almost the whole time. The difference this time was that Spike was sitting sideways on the bed with his legs hanging over the edge.
"Spike, what are you doing?" Xander almost yelled. "Didnít the doctor tell you that you shouldnít strain yourself too much?! You'll hurt yourself!"
"Xander, Iíve been working out by myself during this week in secret." Spike answered calmly. "I didnít want to tell you before I was completely certain, but now I want you to be the first one to see this."
Then Spike took hold of the bedside table and slowly pushed himself up. In no time, Spike was standing beside the bed on his own two legs and without any support. Xander was overjoyed for the vampire. He quickly went to him and helped him to sit back on the bed. Then Xander surprised even himself by giving Spike a hug. One thing led to another, and suddenly Xander found himself kissing Spike. The vampireís mouth felt wonderfully cool under his own. As soon as Xander realised it, he reared back. He was horrified. Spike was surely going to kill him for this as soon as he had his full mobility back. In a flash, he was out of the room. He could hear Spike calling his name but he just ignored it. He went straight to his room and started throwing his belongings to his bag. He needed to get away from here. He knew there was still a week until his flight back to London, but he would surely find some hotel where he could spend the rest of his time. He couldnít stay here. That was certain.
Luckily he didnít have much stuff so he had packed up pretty quickly. In fifteen minutes he was racing down the corridor. He ran past Spikeís door and continued his way downstairs to the lobby and made his way towards the door. His advancement was, however, halted by a strong hand on his arm. When he looked behind him, he could see Angel with a grim expression. Xander tried to shake the vampireís grip but Angel didnít let go.
"What did you do to him, Xander?" Angel was seriously invading his personal space.
"Nothing!" Xander tried to defend himself.
"Xander, he is being totally impossible." Angel was sounding frantic. "I caught him trying to crawl towards the door. He was yelling your name. It took a lot from me to get him back to the bed and settled down. Itís your fault if he has managed to hurt himself again and his healing slows."
Angel was yelling now and it made Xander cringe. He was very sorry if he had managed to hurt Spike but he just couldnít be here anymore. It was obvious he had managed to upset Spike pretty bad with his stupidity.
"Please Angel, let me go." Xander tried to plead. "Iím sorry if I managed to hurt him. I never meant that. I tried to control myself but I was so happy seeing him able to stand on his legs that I couldnít help it. I promise you wonít see a trace of me anymore. I'll go into a hotel somewhere and in a week I'll be out of town."
Xanderís voice was pleading and he was close to breaking point. He didnít want Angel to find out what he had done. The older vampire would surely be disgusted with him. The frown on Angelís face smoothed down a little. Now there was also some concern for Xander in there.
"Xander, what happened? Did you fight again? What did you say about him standing? Youíve got to tell me!" Angel was nearing a state near hysteria with his questions.
The commotion had attracted even more people to come to the lobby. Xander could see everybody there and staring at him. It made him very uncomfortable. Now everybody was going to find out what a pervert he was. Taking advantage of a person that wasnít able to defend himself or leave the scene. Since it looked like Angel wasnít going to let him go, Xander just pressed his head down and muttered.
"Please, Angel, donít hate me."
"Xander, I promise I wonít be mad." Angel tried to speak calmly. "Iím sorry I yelled at you just now. Spike is my favourite Childe and I worry for him. Itís been a long time I saw him in a state like that and it made me panic. Just tell me what happened."
"Can we sit down first? And preferably somewhere private."
"Sure, letís go to my office. We can talk in peace there."
Angel obviously didnít trust him not to do a runner since he motioned Xander to go first. When they reached the office Angel closed the door behind them and went to sit on his chair behind the desk. Then he just sat silently and waited for Xander to start.
"You were probably aware that Spike has been able to move his feet a little for some time now. He has also been able to feel it if I touch his legs. Apparently, he has been practicing even more without telling anyone." Xander paused for a while. "This morning when I went to his room, I found him sitting sideways on the bed. I tried to get him to get back under the covers and told him that he shouldn't strain himself too much. He, however, didnít listen me and just continued moving. Before I even realised it, he was standing beside the bed without holding on to anything. I was so happy for him. I went to him, helped him to sit back on the bed and then I hugged him."
Then Xander fell silent. Angel was quiet for a while before saying anything.
"Xander, there is nothing in your story that would spring as strong a reaction as I saw in Spike and in you. There had to have been something else." Angel was getting impatient again. "Youíve got to tell me everything."
Xander pressed his head down and quickly muttered really quietly.
"What was that? I didnít hear you properly."
Xander took a few deep breaths before lifting his head again. He stared right into Angelís eyes.
"I kissed him! I think I love him! You happy now?!"
Angelís reaction was something totally different than Xander had expected. He had expected anger, resentment, disbelief. Almost anything other than the deep laughter he heard. First, Xander thought Angel was mocking him but there was nothing mocking in the laughter. It was just an amused laughter. When it finally appeared that Angel was beginning to get himself under control, Xander dared to speak again.
"Now that Iíve told you, can I go? I really canít face Spike anymore. Please tell him Iím sorry."
Angel nailed him in place with his stare. For a while they were both silent.
"Xander, Iím gonna make a deal with you." Angel stared right into Xanderís eye. "I want you to go upstairs and talk with Spike. He has the right to speak to you. You canít leave without speaking with him. If you still want to leave after youíve talked with him, I wonít stand in your way."
Xander looked at Angel amazed. The vampire really wanted him to face Spike again. Was there no limit to his cruelty? He must know how Spike would treat him. Angel obviously wanted to humiliate him even more.
"What if I wonít agree?"
"I will drag you there and force you to talk with him. You need to clear this with him. He has the right to know." Angel was sounding quite determined.
"So I go up there, face him, listen to all the mockery he has in store for me and then Iím free to leave?"
"I give you my word Xander. Once youíve talked with him, you are free to do anything you want. Iíve already fed him some of my blood, but would you please take some more from the fridge for him? That way, there is no reason for anyone to disturb you and you can talk in peace."
Xander got up from the chair and headed towards the kitchen. In his mind he thought that the talk with Spike wouldnít take long so there was no worry about someone disturbing them. He, however, warmed two bags and headed upstairs. Right before he reached Spikeís room he stopped to take a few deep breaths. He had been listening to mockery and insults all his life. What would a little more be? He could take it like a man. He stepped to the doorway. All he could see from Spike was a few strands of blond hair. Everything else was buried under the covers. He carefully cleared his throat.
"Angel? Please say you caught him?!?"
Xander drew a deep breath before launching into speaking a mile in a minute.
"No, itís me. I guess itís again time for me to apologise. Iím sorry for the way I behaved. I was just so happy for you. It looks like you'll be walking again in no time. I'll be leaving the hotel. I'll be staying somewhere else until my flight back to London. You donít have to be afraid of me assaulting you again. Iím sorry it had to end this way."
Then Xander was already turning around to head out of the room. He hoped to make it out before Spike had a chance to say anything. Just when he had his back turned, Spike spoke.
"Xander, please close the door and come here.Ē Spike asked quietly. ďThere is something I want to talk to you about, and I donít want the whole place hearing it."
Xander did what Spike asked him to, but in his mind he swore. It was obvious Spike had quite a lot to say to him. Maybe he should be happy that Spike asked him to close the door. Now he could leave the place with at least some dignity, where everybody wasnít aware of the things that were surely going to come out of Spikeís mouth. After the door was closed Xander walked to the bed. He didnít dare to look at Spike. When he reached the bed he waited for what was to come.
"Xander, please look at me."
Slowly Xander lifted his eye so that he was looking somewhere near Spikeís chin.
"Xander, I meant my eyes, you know."
Xander breathed deeply a few times and then looked straight into Spikeís eyes. He was surprised that there was no mocking there, just some concern and maybe impatience. Silently Xander waited.
"Now that I finally have your attention, itís my turn to talk. There are some things I need to clear. First of all that kiss earlier..."
Xander had to cut into Spikeís talking.
"Iím really sorry about that. I should have never taken advantage of your inability to stop me..."
"Xander!" Spike yelled
"I thought I said it was my turn to talk."
Xander just nodded. Spike sounded really pissed off. This didnít sound too good. He could have taken ridicule and mockery, but anger from Spike was something else. Suddenly Xander was happy that Spike couldnít move from the bed. It might have been dangerous for him if the vampire had his full mobility.
"There's no need for you to be sorry." Spike placated. "You did it in the spur of the moment. You were happy for me. What I want to know is, was there something behind it?"
Xander was unsure if he was allowed to talk now but when Spike just kept looking at him he thought it was safe to answer. Not that there was much he could say. There was no way he was going to admit to Spike his feelings. He wasnít stupid.
"There was nothing behind it. It was just in the spur of the moment, just like you said." Xander explained quickly.
"If there was nothing there, why were you leaving again? Why didnít you talk to me?"
"I was so sure you would be disgusted with me."
Then there was suddenly an expression on Spikeís face that looked quite unsure to Xander. He couldnít understand what Spike would have to be unsure about. It wasnít like he had done anything wrong.
"Xander, what would you say if I told you I would want to kiss you again?"
Xander stared at the vampire with his mouth hanging open. That definitely wasnít what Xander had expected Spike to say. For some time he couldnít get a word out of his mouth. To Spike he probably looked like a fish that had been stranded with his mouth going open and closed without any sound coming. Finally he recovered and managed to get some sound out.
"I asked you to kiss me again." Spike answered quietly. "It's quite possible Iím making a total fool of myself here but for some time now Iíve felt something deeper towards you. The kiss gave me hope that you might feel something towards me too."
And Xander was speechless again. He couldnít be hearing right. It sounded like Spike had just admitted he might have some feelings towards Xander. That couldnít be true. The vampire had made it quite clear during their fight. An insistent thought popped into Xanderís mind that he had himself said things that he didnít mean then, so it was possible Spike hadnít meant some of the things he had said. Xander, however, pushed that thought away. He didnít want to believe it. Spike was making his own conclusions about Xanderís silence.
"I guess I was wrong then. I hope you have a nice life. Tell everyone I said hello."
Then Spike was already turning in the bed so that his back was towards Xander who still couldnít get a word out of his mouth. The disappointment in the vampireís voice, however, shook him.
"Spike, wait a minute. Iím still processing things here. I came here expecting you to ridicule and mock me. Instead of that, you tell me that you have feelings towards me and you want to kiss me again. I think itís understandable that Iím a bit shaken up."
Xander made a decision. He knew that it was possible that he was making a mistake but he didnít care anymore. He needed to know the truth. He silently went around the bed so that he was situated on the other side where there was more room. He kicked his shoes off and got on the bed. Spikeís head, that had been buried in the covers until this, popped back up and Xander was nailed by two amazingly blue eyes.
"Iím ready to try that kissing thing again if you still want it. Iím just warning you that if this is some joke of yours, Iím going to get really cranky."
Xander didnít want to hear anything from Spike, so he leaned over him and pressed their lips together. He was surprised when Spikeís hands were immediately around his neck pulling him down. Xander went with it. Next, Spikeís tongue was feeling Xanderís lips. With a gasp Xanderís mouth opened and Spike used the change to his advantage and started mapping Xanderís mouth with his tongue. Soon Xander joined the battle and fought for dominance with his own tongue. Spike gave him some room but quickly pushed Xanderís tongue back a little. Finally Xander needed to breath and he drew back a little. He was panting. What was more fun was that Spike was panting as well. Xander felt maybe a bit proud of himself since he had made a vampire that didnít need to breath, pant.
Spike was staring right at him with his blue eyes. There was some uncertainty there which puzzled Xander. Was there something wrong after all? Didnít Spike want to kiss him now? Suddenly Xanderís head was full of questions that needed answering but he didnít know how to voice them. He was sure Spike was already regretting the whole thing. He started backing up from the bed, but when a hurt expression made a brief appearance on Spikeís face before being smothered, Xander froze.
"Spike, please tell me, did I do something wrong?" Xander asked, concerned.
"No, pet. I guess I shouldnít expect anything from you, but I couldnít help hoping." Spike directed his gaze towards the covers. "Maybe that will come along someday."
That answer puzzled Xander even more. What was the vampire talking about now? This wasnít making any sense anymore. His voice was almost pleading when he spoke.
"Spike, youíve got to tell me what you want. I canít read minds, you know. If there's something that's bothering you with us kissing you need to tell me. I donít want to do anything wrong here."
Spike averted his gaze before speaking with barely audible voice.
"I kinda wished you would have said you had feelings towards me too. I understand that you donít, but it would have given me some hope."
Xander almost laughed. So this all was just because he hadnít said the words. He had just thought his actions spoke for him. Obviously talking wasnít always overrated. He gently took hold of Spikeís chin and turned his face again towards himself.
"Silly vampire, of course I have feelings towards you. I wouldnít have kissed you otherwise, not now and not before. That was the reason I fled after the kiss. I didnít want you to find out about my feelings because I thought they werenít reciprocated."
A faint glimmer of hope sparkled in Spikeís eyes. Xander wanted to get Spike to forget all his worries, and pressed their lips together again. He never wanted to give this up. Spikeís mouth tasted so wonderful. Gradually, Xander lay down on the bed so that he was partially blanketing Spike. When it was time for a breathing break, Xander lifted his head a little but kept his eye on Spikeís face to see if there were any traces of uncertainty anymore. This time the vampire looked quite happy. His lips were all puffed up from the kissing and Xander couldnít fight the temptation to nibble on them a little. That made Spike moan a little and it spurred Xander on to explore what other sounds he could get out of his vampire. He hadnít gotten very far in his exploration before Spike stopped him.
"Xander, pet, hold on a little."
Xander lifted his head again so that he was facing Spike.
"What is it, Spike?" Xander asked.
"What are you going to do now?"
Xander was again puzzled. What was Spike talking about now?
"What do you mean?"
Spikeís gaze again averted his and the vampire turned his face away.
"Your job with the New Council..."
It was like a light bulb going on in his head. It was only natural for Spike to think about Xander returning to London. That was all he had been talking about for the last week. He gave a light kiss to Spikeís temple before answering.
"What do you want me to do? If you want me to stay here with you I will stay." Xander gave another kiss to Spikeís temple. "If you want me to return to London and give you time, I will do that. I would prefer staying here but itís up to you."
Spikeís eyes were immediately back on Xanderís face. There was just one word from him.
Then they were again kissing. Xander could feel some stirring in his pants but he knew there was nothing he could do about it now. He just hoped Spike wouldnít notice it. He of course forgot all about vampires' superior sense of smell. When they came up for breath the next time, Xander could see Spikeís nostrils flaring and then a smirk spread across his face. Before Xander could do anything, Spikeís hand was cupping his half-hard cock.
"This for me, pet?"
Xander hid his face in the spare pillow. This was so embarrassing. He was acting like a horny teenager who couldnít keep his hormones in check. Spike was still recovering from a bad injury. He also wanted to take things slow and not jump into sex straight away. Spike gently coaxed his head from the pillow but Xander took advantage of his position and hid his face next to Spikeís shoulder.
"Pet, come on. There's nothing to be ashamed of." There was a small bit of laughter in Spikeís voice. "That's a completely natural reaction to my charms."
Xander couldnít help but chuckle to the vampireís never ending high self-esteem.
"I just donít want to put any pressure on you. I want us to go slow and with the pace we're both comfortable with."
"I know, pet. Iím willing to take this slow as well."
He gently wrapped his arm around Spikeís torso and just held tight. This was feeling really comfortable and Xander was able to relax. For a while, they just lay there, until there was noise from the door. When Xander lifted his head from Spikeís shoulder, he could see Angel at the door. There was an obvious smirk on his face.
"I take it I can cancel your plane ticket?"
Xander didnít bother answering. It was obvious Angel had known about Spikeís feelings and had set the whole thing up. He just buried his head back to Spikeís shoulder and said.
"Go away, Deadboy."
Spike chuckled. Then they could hear to door closing behind Angel. Xander relaxed back to Spikeís side and just enjoyed the feeling. Things had happened so fast. It was only a week ago he had realised he might be harbouring some feelings towards the vampire. It had only been an hour since their first kiss and just a half an hour ago when Xander had found out his feelings were reciprocated. This was all new to him. Xander was sure there were problems ahead, but he didnít want to think about them now. Now he just wanted to enjoy the feeling of cuddling next to Spike. It would still be a few weeks before Spike had his full range of movement back. They would have a lot of time to get to know each other. The kissing had been really nice. Xander couldnít wait to get to the other things.
Here is the request I received.
Characters/Pairings you want the story to focus in. Xander/Angel or Spike/Xander
Characters/Pairings you want in the story too. Choice of Spike, Illyria, Wesley - or all three would be nice. *g*
Things you want: Set post-Not Fade Away. An inappropriate argument. Absinthe. Xander knowing that heís bi-sexual.
Things you donít want: Violence
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