Pairing: Pre-slash Spander.
Disclaimer: I definitely don't own Buffy. I can't even pretend to that level of badassery. 
Rating: PG-13 cause I used the F-word.
Warnings: None. Except it's un-betad. Feel free to point out mistakes so I can fix them.
Summary: A brief perspective piece - a moment in the middle of the first night. Basement of Doom preslash.
Feedback: Delights me.

Notes: I needed a quick little break from RaPH and this happened. It was a lot cuter in my head, in fact, a few hours ago when it started, I even said a pre-emptive little "aaw". Not sure how well it translated, but I hope you enjoy it.



Tension


by
Rayne Jelly


He didn’t sleep very deeply at the best of times. With Spike in the room, Xander worried he wouldn’t sleep at all. He’d finally gotten the vampire to shut the fuck up by threatening to tape his mouth shut, but even with the lights out and the curtains drawn tight over the high grimy windows, Xander couldn’t shut his eyes. He laid in bed, breathing as quietly as he knew how, stretched out like a lie and all too vulnerable, listening cautiously for every shifting creak, every rustle of heavy leather, waiting for the moment Spike got out of the chair.

His imagination was a little fuzzy on what would happen next, whether the vampire would go straight for the kill, rip his throat out nice and easy and leave his corpse in Giles’ bathtub, or if he’d draw it out, mock Xander with the chance to talk himself out of it and rip it out from under him again and again, kill him by inches. There was a creak, the decades-old chair groaning under the weight of an unfamiliar backside, and Xander breathed. Slowly, deeply, because giving anything away now would belie his playing possum. Xander was very, very still.

He hadn’t survived for nineteen years by being fearless. Xander was afraid of everything, and it helped, in his line of work, to know when to cut and run, usually screaming like a girl. But not Buffy, of course, or even Willow, who never seemed to be afraid of anything. Fear didn’t mean not doing what he had to; it didn’t mean not chasing bad guys into the shadows or not stepping up for his duty in the puffy suit, it just meant… fear. That high, thin thread of adrenaline that left his bones feeling hollow and his heart pumping like a steeplechaser, and a near-constant lump of panic in his throat, sometimes so thick he gagged on it. Xander wasn’t stupid enough to be fearless.

There was a lion in his bedroom because he hadn’t been courageous enough to say “no” either. When Giles had asked him, quite reasonably when it came to it, to take Spike off his hands for a few nights, he’d griped about it, moaned about having a giant mosquito buzzing around, but he couldn’t say no because he’d sooner cut off his dick than admit that Spike scared him, especially after all the noise he and Buffy made about the cuddly-wuddly neutered vamp. It was one thing in the daylight, in the warm comfort of Giles’ apartment with the Slayer half a foot away and Spike scowling like thunderheads from the relative safety of his thick, black chains. It was something else here in the dark crawling shadows of the basement, listening to Spike not-breathe and knowing he’d turned his back on a wild animal, something capable of ripping the flesh from his bones with its teeth. A horror movie monster that watched him with dead eyes while he crawled into his fold-out couch, exposing his belly and the shivering arc of his spine. And what the hell had he been thinking, making a crack about being deliciously edible when the beast hadn’t eaten in days. Spike might be harmless, but they only had his word for that.

A slithering scrape, this time followed by a soft impatient gust of air, swam in Xander’s ear, the sound of a body quietly straining against a rope, and Xander made himself breathe, made himself lie still, lie loose and unconcerned in his skin, despite his muscles wanting to be rigid with terror as his eyes rolled in the dark, staring at the soft blue cotton line of his pillow. It would be better if Anya were here as a distraction, letting him lose himself in her soft snores and occasional gurgle. But the vampire had driven her away, first with lewd innuendo that she’d responded to a little too enthusiastically, then by playing on Xander’s slightly more prosaic sensibilities until he’d had to send her away or risk death by mortification.  When he’d dragged out the ropes and Spike started again with the bondage jokes, Xander had been tempted to go hide under the stairs with the creepy boxes of his mom’s old needle-point experiments, tangled up in discolored coils of dusty string until morning.

Tying Spike to the chair was an exercise in studied indifference. His skin was cool and dry brushing across the backs of Xander’s fingers, and suddenly the weave pattern of a double constrictor slipped away from his grasp and left him tying a shoddy snuggle hitch around Spike’s deceptively narrow wrists and ankles while the vampire laughed at him and griped about being tied up at all. The whole time, Xander felt eyes creep across his back, lingering like they were now on his neck, but he wouldn’t turn and look, wouldn’t turn on the light, or give Spike the satisfaction of seeing his fear.

Then there was a thud and a crash, a few thunderous footsteps, and Xander felt his whole body lurch in tune, nerves strung like a lute and singing with tension because the noise had come from upstairs. He felt himself suck in a sharp, ragged lungful of air and silently cursed the normal noises he’d forgotten to be leery of. And he hoped Spike hadn’t noticed while he forced his body still, forced his lungs to do their regular work, deep and slow and natural as a wide river, listening. Listening, rigid with tension for the flick of a switch, footsteps at the top of the stairs, the pop and crackle of shredded nylon rope or his mother’s voice echoing through the pipes, listening from both directions, so intently that his ears were filled with the white noise of dread and he almost didn’t hear the low hiss of “Harris” from across the room. He didn’t move, couldn’t, and Spike whispered a little harder, “Harris” asking for acknowledgement.

“What?” It was barely a word – he trusted the predator’s senses to pick it out of the noise from upstairs, the creaking floor joists that Xander tracked in his mind. Kitchen, living room, kitchen…

“Calm down,” Spike whispered, low lion’s growl at the edge of hearing, but if he was talking from across the room, he wasn’t hunting.

“What?” This time with a little energy lent to him by confusion.

“Your heart’s pounding like a bass drum.” He sat up, wincing as the bedspring chimed, eyes making out Spike’s silhouette, and he could almost see him, white skin and white hair and white ties lending him light. His eyes flickered away, landed on the doorway. He’d forgotten about his heart. “Nothin’s gonna hurt you. Calm down.”

“I’m not…” he didn’t finish the thought, watching the door at the top of the stairs while Spike watched him, and he knew he was arcing his neck, knew he was practically inviting the vampire to take advantage of the moment, but his stomach was in his throat, and he was listening.

“You’re safe, Xander.”

“Okay…” he whispered back dumbly, distracted, ignoring the strange harmonics because Spike was still in the chair. “Thanks.”

“You’re safe.”

Xander listened to the squeaking floor, and in the morning after he’d fallen asleep, no one said anything.

That last line was my little nod to "Hush" - sorry, just appreciating my own nerdery here.




The End



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