Apple Tree Wassail
The vampire didn’t come with the house, Xander thought. He was an add-on. He looked out at Spike standing in the snow, singing to the apple tree in their little postage stamp of a backyard. Xander had mentioned how disappointed he was that the tree only bore crab apples, and Spike had said, “We’ll see about that,” and heated some cider on the stove. He added cinnamon and nutmeg to it, until the whole house smelled mouth-watering. He had gone outside and poured the hot cider out on the roots of the tree, and now he was singing.
“Huzza, Huzza, in our good town
The bread shall be white, and the liquor be brown
So here my old fellow I drink to thee
And the very health of each other tree.
Well may ye blow, well may ye bear
Blossom and fruit both apple and pear.
So that every bough and every twig
May bend with a burden both fair and big
May ye bear us and yield us fruit such a store
That the bags and chambers and house run o'er.”
Spike had a clear tenor voice that Xander would have expected of a choirboy, but not of a pack-a-day smoker, even if he was a vampire.
Three Weeks Ago
Xander wandered through Harvard Square, bags in hand. He had just finished his Christmas shopping. It was only the first week in December, but the girls were all overseas, and their gifts would take a while to get there by regular mail. Xander was doing okay, there was no lack of work for a carpenter in Cambridge and Boston, but it was better to send the presents early and save on postage. As he ruminated on the vagaries of the U.S. Postal system, he came to the corner where the street punks hung out. He shifted his bag to one hand, digging in his pocket for change to give them, when he stopped dead in his tracks. There, sitting on the wall with all the other street punks was Spike. Spike who had been burned to ash in Sunnydale six years ago. Xander dropped his bags.
Spike wandered back into the house, rinsed the cider mug, and put it in the dishwasher. He lit a cigarette and leaned back against the counter. He didn’t say anything about the singing.
Xander sighed and said, “How did we get here? I mean with you standing in my kitchen, a continent away from snarking at each other in Sunnyhell?”
Spike smirked. “You met me on a street corner and took me home, remember?”
Xander nodded. “Yeah I remember. It just seems so… improbable.”
And indefinable look crossed Spike’s face. “Having second thoughts then?”
Xander quickly shook his head, “No, no, it’s not that.”
Two Weeks Ago
“Spike, we need to go bed shopping for you, if you’re going to stay. I wouldn’t condemn anyone who’s not actually related to me to the bed in the spare room.”
“Is that an invite, Harris?”
Xander looked nonplussed. “I didn’t think you needed one.”
Spike took a step closer, invading Xander’s personal space. “Doesn’t mean I don’t want one,” he raised his hand to Xander’s face, hovering over his cheek without touching.
Xander blushed and turned his head away. “Umm… W-will you stay?”
Spike smiled, a real smile that Xander didn’t see, and dropped his hand. “Yeah, pet. I’ll stay.”
They stood there in the kitchen, each remembering the same moment. Xander broke the silence that had fallen over them. “I'm glad you decided to stay.”
“Yeah, Xander?” Spike took a small step closer.
“I hadn’t noticed how much I missed you when you were… gone.” Xander couldn’t bring himself to think of Spike as having been dead. Even if he hadn’t been dead most of the time that Xander thought he was. Umm… Yeah, not thinking about dead Spike. Thinking about sort-of alive and close-enough-to-feel Spike.
“You missed me?” Spike sounded amused, but his eyes burned into Xander’s. He couldn’t look away.
“Yeah,” Xander breathed. He reached up and thumbed a bit of melted snow from Spike’s eyebrow. “I really did.”
Spike grabbed Xander by the belt loops, and gently pulled him forward, smiling when Xander acquiesced. They leaned into each other. When their lips were mere centimeters apart, Spike murmured, “Show me?”
Xander did. Finding the taste of spiced cider, cigarettes, and Spike to be addictive, Xander curled his tongue up to Spike’s palette to tickle and taste. The kiss was slow, and languid. Hands drifted, Xander’s cupping the base of Spike’s skull, Spike’s up under Xander’s t-shirt to his back.
Xander pulled back for air, and put his head on Spike’s shoulder. Spike wrapped his arms around Xander, squeezing gently. The moment passed, and Xander lifted his head.
“You gonna be here when the tree bears real apples?”
“Is that an invitation?” Spiked smirked.
“You want an engraved card?” Xander quirked an eyebrow, smiling.
“Yeah, I’ll be here, pet.” Spike was suddenly serious.
“Good.” Xander laid his head back down. They both watched the snow fall on the apple tree, and mused on the promise of spring.
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