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First try at writing Spander in BtVS world, and this one's totally AU.
Pairing: Spike/Xander, eventually
Warnings: Bit'o'angst, bit'o'fluff, probably some bad jokes along the way. Nothing too terribly kinky, except some "luv bites" with the vampsex
Summary: Set after finale of BtVS, our boys are both at loose ends... and find in each other that which they thought they'd lost. (cheesy, I know. deal)
Spoilers: Eh, pretty much canon til season 5, after that it breaks off -- see AN for explanation
Rating: R-NC17, I'm trying to push it that way but it might take awhile :P
Disclaimer: Not mine, not a bit. Exhibit A: bank balance $14.37
Author's Note: Right... *cough* I never got to see the last two seasons of BtVS, nor past the first season of AtS, so what bobs and pieces you might recognize are purely the shakey little ideas I've gleaned from other people's fanfics. Sooooooooooo I guess you should just consider this AU and forgive-n-forget?
Also, this is my first try writing for this fandom. The past couple of years, I was obsessed with Snarry (HP/SS) and wrote loads there, but I managed to -- not quite burn out, but singed a bit around the edges. Trying my hand at Spander, cus they're both so damned cute and look *H*O*T* together.
Last, I'm not British (Texan in fact) and have no beta to look after me, so any and every misspelled word, improper tense or bad use of britishism is entirely my fault. This style is sorta new to me too, so be kind, k?
Feedback is welcome, but please limit yourself to constructive comments. Flames will be forwarded to my hormonal teenagers for their weekly bonfire and weenie roast.

Love's Bitches


Part One

:: Spike in Limbo ::

Told the Slayer I was love's bitch. Heh, see where that gets me every time. First with that cunt Cecily, then tossed out by Dru for some slimy chaos demon, then went round the bend to prove myself to Buffy. Shoulda thought out my answer better, but no, shot my bloody mouth off and got saddled with a fekkin soul just like the ponce.

Couldn't even be surprised when she sent him back to LA to be safe, pushing that damned amulet at me. And here was the worst part about having a soul -- I couldn't tell her no. Yeah, part of me will always love the dozy bint. Doesn't mean I want her anymore. Feel all protective of her and the Bit, sure, but... we both deserve better than the half-arsed relationship we used to have.

So she puts this gaudy necklace over my head and asks me to be her Champion, and like a fool I don't even ask 'what's the catch?' Hope she had a good time watching me channel sunlight (and did she forget the bit about me being a *vampire*?), before Sunnyhell imploded.

Saw the former ex-demonette go down, and it almost made me feel bad for Harris. Watched that little blond geek Andrew get smashed up good and proper, watched them drag him back to the bus too. Several of the wanna-be Slayers bought it, but no great loss -- the ones who died were the same ones who gave Buffy such a hard time. Can't say I'll miss them. If I were still there.

Funny that. I'm not alive, or undead. But not dead either. Sorta like a ghost, with way too much time on my hands, and having to see what's left of the group pick themselves up and start over. It's easy to tell how rough things are with most of them. Hell, the only ones who mask it well are Ripper and the whelp, but their eyes are haunted... Yeah, I'm the one to talk about hauntings.

At times I think they know I'm there, watching and waiting for something to bring me back. Course, that's not going to happen anytime soon. Get the feeling that I have to be *wanted* before the Powers kick me out of this inbetween place. Definitely not hell, just hanging around LA and the new Watchers Council headquarters in England. Odd how I can't even control where I am.

Don't much matter, I suppose. See, even in limbo, I'm still love's bitch. I'll be where ever they remember me, and consider myself lucky to know they're still alive.

:: Xander wakes up ::

Not sure how long it took me to stop the internal babble, just a constant stream of 'she's dead she's dead oh my god she's dead', like no one else had figured it out yet. There was no way we'd ever be able to patch things up, get back together, but we'd finally become friends again. Anya, damn I miss her.

By the time I broke through that mindloop, everyone else had already found a new nitch for themselves. Buffy and Dawn are both in college at UCLA, Willow dragged Giles back to restart the Watchers Council, and I think they let Andrew tag along too. That's all? We're missing people... of course we are. Sweet, unsubtle Anya! Eight potentials, the mouthy ones who wouldn't pay attention to what little training they got before the shit hit the fan. Spike... and who'd have figured him for the world-saving hero type?

Gotta admit, being surrounded by all this estrogen (again) makes me appreciate His Royal Pain-in-the-ass self. Even when he was stealing my beer and using all the hot water, at least there was no danger to my person via PMS -- or whatever politically correct term is in fashion for those few days of retribution against any sentient being with a Y-chromosome. See Wils, I paid attention in high school. Big words used properly and everything.

They talked me into remodelling the old Council building, acting as the interior designer. Ha! Buff even made a smartass comment about me being ideal for the job, after that 'gay me up' speech. After all these years, the one time everyone actually listens to me and it has to be *that*one*line*.

If I thought it'd do any good, I'd hang a sign around my neck that said: Disregard other signs and invitations. No kicking, punching, biting, slapping or taunting the stupid human with the target on his back.

Ok, so it's too wordy for a really good sign. Gets the point across, doesn't it?

Damn, if Spike were here, he'd kick my ass for feeling sorry for myself. Or at least snipe at me till I sniped back, then we'd throw beernuts and popcorn at each other and get shitfaced.

Gotta love male bonding rituals, so much simpler (and cheaper) than women's gigs. Cost of booze and snacks: between $20 and $40. Cost of shopping, spa and manicure? I cringe just thinking about the damage my girls can do in one afternoon with a credit card and the nearby mall.

Y'know, I think Giles and Andy are having a thing. Yeah, he's geeky and girly, and the G-man is so not, but... Nope, not going there. Some images should never pass through this poorboy's brain.


Anya's gone. For good this time, no chance for an instant replay, do not pass Go or collect $200. And my girls seem to think I've stepped outside the real world or something, cus it's taken so long to come to terms with that. Guess it isn't really that she's dead... it's the 'never coming back' part. Hey, she was a demon, and we've seen loads of 'that shouldn't be possible' in the past. So I think I've got a damned good excuse to expect to wake up one morning and find her looming over me, ready to cuss me out or toss lime jello on the bed. And no, that will never be explained.

Heard Deadboy's sire-slut got raised from the dead too, and hey, Angel did his stint in a hell dimension, which is sorta death-after-death for vamps, right? Woah..... does that mean that Spike could come back too? Even if we did see him dust.

And hey, what's up with Buffy passing the buck and sending her ex-boyfriend back to safety, pushing his job off on the bleached menace? I thought it was in the job description or something. Be broody, overuse haircare products, neandrathal forehead, saving the world on alternate Tuesdays.

So yeah, maybe I'm even more bitter about the bastard now. I mean, Spike and me weren't the best of buds, but we finally got over alot of that mortal enemies stuff. And who else would watch Red Dwarf with me? And keep me from drinking too much... even though his version of that involved chugging more than his fair share of the booze.

Damn, maybe I need to get out more. When the vampire formerly known as the Big Bad starts looking like my best guy friend, it's time to rethink my standards, right?

:: Still in Limbo ::

Soddin' hard to tell time here. Days, weeks, months, can't bloody keep track. Know it's been awhile since Sunnyhell, just from the progress made on the Watchers place.

Sorta strange, but it feels like something's keeping me stuck here. I'm no great poof, never asked for redemption or nothing. The Powers That Muck Up Everything might as well send me to whatever hell spa is reserved for demons that save their food from mass destruction. And that made alot more sense before I thought it outloud.

Spent some time testing my ghostly status. Can't pull any tricks like that nancyboy Swatze or whatever from the movie. Doesn't seem to be a medium around either. And with the cheerleader comatose, can't even send a message through a seer.

It's a bitch too. Hollywood false advertising at its best. Like that flic Poltergeist, best example: there's no fekkin way for a ghost to jump into a telly and communicate with the living. Can't even make the fuzz fuzzier.

Think being burned to dust saving the world should null my one-way ticket to hell, don't you? Not that I did it for that reason. Just cus the Slayer asked. Buffy. For her and Bit, and Red and the whelp, and even Ripper.

Yeah, even knowing what'd happen, I'd do it again. But I'd have to bitch about it alot more beforehand. Only right and fair. Maybe spend the a couple of days shagging my knackers off first... yeah, woulda been nice...

:: Eighteen months after Sunnydale's disappearance ::

"Really Xander, if you are that dissatisfied with your current situation, perhaps you should seek out other options. I hardly think it is appropriate for you to continue treating the potentials like a bevy of misbehaving schoolgirls. Even when they act as such."

Huh, with all the polishing he does to those glasses, you'd think he'd wear them out. But maybe he's got a point. I could be doing all sorts of things, other than hanging around here watching the twat squad beat each other up.

"Maybe you're right, G-man." And yes folks, there go the eyebrows. Heh, can still shock the Watcher. "Think I'll head back to the states, before I drink too much water around here and start craving scones or something."

Finally the gobsmacked look fades and he responds, "Quite. Heaven forbid you should consume any civilized food or permit yourself a taste of culture." He pauses, looks uncomfortable, and resumes polishing. "If... if you ever need anything... you know where we are. And please don't forget, you have a fair sum from the survivor's allotment to ease your way."

How could I forget. What he pointedly didn't mention was Anya's life insurance policy, which still named me sole beneficiary. A 'fair sum' didn't do it justice. Money-making wasn't just her hobby, not like sex, it was her primary goal. Couple of million sitting in the bank, waiting for me to sign for it.

"No sweat, Giles. You're a stronger man than I, putting up with all these girls all the time. And hey, don't worry bout me, ok? I'm just gonna buy a car, travel for awhile, maybe make it farther than Oxnard this time. Y'know, see places."

Dad always said that real men don't hug. Dad was a dipshit. Ignoring all upright, uptight British protocol, I grab him and hold on for a minute. Sooner than I expect, he hugs back, and it sounds like he's as choked up as I am.

"Yes, well, do let us know you're alright. Postcards are in order, and don't forget to use your cellphone. I'm sure Willow would be happy to deliver messages through email, if you so choose." Drawing back, his eyes are suspiciously bright. Guess mine are too.

It takes an embarassingly short time to pack and say goodbye to my lifelong best friend. She's got a good grip (finally) on the witchy stuff, and has gone headfirst into teaching and all her new Watcher duties. I think Andrew took the longest to tell me bye, and for me to turn him down as gently as possible when he begged to join me.

If I'm gonna do this, it's gotta be solo. A voyage of self discovery, like I had planned just after high school.

:: Somewhere in the Ozarks ::


"Dammit to hell in a handbasket! One of the three places in the entire country that AAA won't make a service call, and I have to get stuck here without a McDonald's in sight."


"Worthless piece of metallic shit. Jeeps are supposed to be sturdy and dependable, don't you know that?"


"Gods, why me... you can take the fuck-up magnet out of the hellmouth..."

In the chill dusk of the mountains, night falls quickly on Xander's rant. Between exhaustion and frustration, his body cries for sleep over the persistant gnaw of hunger. He curls up in the back on his nifty new air matress -- built specially to fit the nifty new (and totally dead) range rover -- and lets himself doze fitfully.

And even after the life he's lead, his subconscious breaks the cardinal rule of hellmouth living. He makes a heartfelt wish that one dusted vampire were here, to fix the rover and just to keep him company.

His breath evens as his body finally settles into sleep, never seeing the brilliant flash of light in the nearby trees.

:: Nekkid vamps get cold too ::

Oh, the whelp's done it this time. Stranded all on his lonesome and no working knowledge of how to fix it. No witch or watcher to bail his bum out either. Almost as good as Passions, this is.

Now now, temper! Gonna hurt your precious footsies like that, ain't ya? Oo ouch, that's gonna leave a mark, it is.

Don't pass out yet, twerp, you're my only form of entertainment these days. Damn, there he goes... sleeps like the dead. And I should know, eh?

Whatthefuck?! Hey now, that hurts! Can't a bloke get any peace, even in this not-life? Bloody buggerin' hell, it's *cold*. What've you done to me this time, you crazy godlings?

"Fuck me running sideways, the ground's wet. Voice? Shite! Right then, taking back half the things I said about ya, ok? But couldn't you have left me with some cloths at least? It's fekkin cold as a banshee's nipple here..."

One hundred and thirty years, give or take a few, had taught Spike to roll with the punches. So, heaving his aching body off the cold, damp ground, he staggered toward the broken down vehicle.

:: Time to pull things together ::

No matter how tired he was, Xander had grown up sleeping with one ear open. It certainly paid to know what was moving nearby, be it animal, vegetable or mineral... or whatever beasties fit in the "other" catagory. And if he's honest with himself, he learned this trick long before his life got tied in with the Scoobies. Thanks for that, Dad.

And so, when that internal radar catches a clue of non-wildlife-y movement outside his makeshift nest, Mama Harris' boy comes to consciousness about the same time it takes for his hand to draw the ever-present knife he'd taken to carrying.

Sure enough, a human-shaped shadow messing with the door handle. Heh, like I'd be stupid enough to leave it unlocked, even out here in the sticks.

Xander lays perfectly still, contemplating his best course of action, when a strip of pale moonlight breaks through the wispy cloud cover. Even with this indirect light, he can see spikey bleached hair attached to milk white skin. His breath catches in his throat, torn between belief it's all a dream and something akin to blinding hope.

A quiet baritone voice interrupts his indecision. "Xan, pet, it's me. Freezing out here, y'know? Lemme in, pet."

Part Two

Special AN for this part: Yes, I'm well aware that Eddie Bauer (or however you spell it) doesn't do jeeps, but hey, it was funny in context. If jeep commissioned a designer like that, I'd have used it... unless they do and I missed something. AU = who cares about the technicalities, right? It's my alternate reality -- I'll abuse whatever I like.

:: Hello, I don't believe we've met ::

All a dream, it's gotta be, just a dream. The high altitude or unsmogged air, or maybe a leftover from that greasy spoon at breakfast. There is no possible way a very naked -- and very dusted -- Spike could be standing outside my rover, goose pimply from the chill. Cus hey, we all know that vamps don't feel the cold like humans, right?

Opening his eyes again, Xander watches in fascination as a splat of some random bird's excrement lands on the blond's shoulder. And if this is really a dream, Xander's memory of his former roommate's extensive vocabulary is much better than he thought. Somehow, just hearing the creative uses of avian entrails brings home that maybe, just maybe, this really is William the Bloody. In all the flesh.

And *gah* that's one image he really didn't need, right? There's only so much denial a man can stand before his brain collapses from the stress.

Slowly pealing back the layers of blanket, he stabs a finger at the interior lights. Yeah, there's no one else who could pull off that swagger while bare-assed and shivering. Another finger lands on the door locks, and he issues an unnecessary invite. "Come on in here before your balls crawl back inside for warmth."

"Thanks pet. Nice to see you care about the condition of me 'nads." A blur of bleached hair and skin later, and Spike is comfortably esconced under the mound of blankets, soaking up residual heat. "Don't suppose you've got a spare set of cloths for your ol' mate, eh? Bloody Powers That Trip dumped me here with nothing, not even a goodbye kick in the arse."

Ignoring the silence from his reluctant host, Spike continues his monologue of seemingly unrelated complaints, "Dunno what you're doing trekking through the eastern mountains in fall anyways. It's cold enough to freeze a whore's fancy, it is. Nice wheels though. Pity they won't move for ya now, right? Guess I should be grateful they didn't drop me from too high up. No telling how long it'd take to recover from that. Leastwise, you're out here in the middle of nowhere, or the locals woulda gotten a bit uppity by all this..."

Sounds like him, looks like him, the accent's right and his use of words and all... but there's something off. The vamp I know would have taken it as his right to occupy my space and borrow my cloths without bothering to ask.

"Who the fuck is Eddie Bauer, and why's his name on your car, mate?"

Definitely not right. Shouldn't be surprised about the possibility of him coming back. After all, he saved the world -- when it should have been Angel's job -- so maybe this is his reward or something. Except, why would he be sent back without cloths, and land just a few yards from me, out in the middle of BFE?

"... taste has improved, I see. And hey! Silk knickers? Damn mate, moving up in the world."

Although... there's proof that he's still undead. He hasn't stopped to take a breath one time. Wait a second! "Dammit, stay out of my boxers, you bleached twit!"

After a short wrestling match (that quickly degenerated to tickle war), the vampire triumphantly holds up a pair of black silk boxers, waving them like a flag above Xander's head. He's already found sweats and socks, and promptly slides into the warm fuzzy cloths.

"First thing in the morning, I'll pop the hood and do a quick look-see, k? Y'don't stay walking round as long as I have without picking up some useful skills, and this baby can't be in that bad a shape. Too new, y'know?"

Xander hums at him, still barely blinking. This new version of his old nemisis-turned-friend is giving him a mid-range case of wiggins.

"Heh, you'd let me burst into flames just to get free mechanic's work? Nice, I like that. Bloody hell, pet, blink or something, prove you're still alive, right?"

If the request hadn't been followed by a sharply pinched arm, the man in question might well have remained in stunned silence.

"Hey, no need to get brutal about it. Damn, you're just as ornery in your third incarnation. And what's up with that? Why'd you land *here* of all places? Other side of the country from Buffy and Dawn..."

That half-asked question turns the tide, forcing Spike to adopt some of the mortal's confusion. "Why would I land on them?"

"Er, cus you're back, and you love her..."

"Oh, that. Yeh, always will. Always love Dru too, don't mean I'd go seek her out, now does it?"

"Ok, confused again. Think you can work on the rover tonight, or do you need more light? Got some tools behind the front seat, not much, but should be enough for basic stuff."

:: Nifty new things found out via accident ::

Shock does interesting things to people, and in Xander's case, it generally helped him sleep. Alright, so maybe that isn't the best method of combatting insomnia, but whatever works, right? Giving his subconscious a mental shrug, he lets himself doze off to the strangely soothing baritone babble. Anything truly important would be repeated in the morning.

Watching his companion drift off to sleep, Spike gives in to temptation. Like he was good at resisting on a good day? He leans over the prone form and brushed the soft waves away from Xander's face, allowing him a good view of the damaged eye. For once, he was glad that the witch hadn't given up magic completely -- there were still scars, but he no longer suffered from the loss of one eye.

Next on the list was a glance through the young man's wallet, conveniently left on the center console. Driver's license, insurance cards for both him and the rover, emergency numbers for LA and London, a tidy sum in cash and traveller's checks. But no photos. The whelp had always carried excess numbers of pictures of his girls, so what had changed? Ok, other than the obvious...

A single set of keys, carrying only those for the jeep, sat beside a map and empty water bottle. No debris normally found in even the newest of cars. Even the expected candy wrappers are missing.

Sitting himself in the driver's seat, Spike ponders the abnormality of the situation. Other than his abrupt return. Xander Harris, found hundreds of miles away from his adopted family, without twinkies or chocolate in sight. Loaded with new cloths, new wheels, new eye, and no ties. As if he'd completely divorced himself from everything hellmouth-ish.

Spike leans his head back on the rest, deep in thought. Even after all his observations as a non-ghost, he still can't grasp what could have happened to cause this gap from the old whelp's normal behavior.

So thoroughly engrossed in pondering the complexities of his friend's changes, he almost misses the glimpse of white in the rear view mirror. The vision hits him like a ten-ton steam roller. His reflection. After all these years, *his* reflection shows up in a broken down car in the middle of nowhere, with his only companion sound asleep.

He has to remind himself that the need to breathe is a human requirement, he's so close to hyperventilating.

:: Sunrise, sunset ::

There's something truly wonderful about not having to live by the clock, Xander reflects as he leisurely wakes in the late morning sunlight. Something he could easily get used to, if only he had some coffee to go along with the lazy feeling of loose muscles and joints voicing their desire for caffeine.

A metallic clink from outside shifts his mental process into high speed, forcing him to recall his unexpected visitor. If that weren't enough, the string of profanity that follows would allay all doubts.


Nope, not awake enough for this. Wonder if I still have that emergency Snickers under the seat... Probably not, since blondie's bound to have already snooped through everything.

Hold the fuckin phone! Daylight, vampire. Vampire in daylight, working on my car. No sounds of spontaneous combustion or other flame-related catastrophe. No smells of burned flesh. What the FUCK?

"Spike," he says, much louder this time. "The hell's going on? Did you suddenly become human or something?" He waits a minute for a reply, and getting none eggs the vamp a bit. "Wasn't that Deadboy's gig, some sort of shansu-ey? Bet he'll be pissed to know you beat him to the punchline."

Still, the vampire doesn't answer. His cursing subsides into some retro punk tune, oddly at ease with the random sounds of wildlife.

Pulling on his shoes, Xander stumbles out of his nest of blankets, on a mission. His feet stop before the rest of him when he catches sight of a shirtless, lightly pinkened Spike, bent over the engine of his jeep. His hips sway in time with the song he's still singing, creating an interesting rhythm that draws Xander's gaze. Target locked, proceed with drool.

Finally, the platinum head withdraws from its mechanical hide-away. A bone-cracking stretch that flexes every muscle group in his torso, then over to touch his toes, Spike has obviously found his walkman CD player. Although... Xander can't remember having any Souxi and the Banshees. Can't remember much right now, what with the view and all. Daylight, vampire. Almost sunburnt vampire with well-formed pecs and a delicious... whoa boy!

So much for preternatural senses. Whelp's been awake long enough to tie his laces, but not quite enough to wipe up the drool. Heh, aughta tease him about that, but hey, after all this time, that one's just too easy.

"Mornin pet. Sleep well? This baby's not in that bad a shape. You musta hit one helluva pothole somewhere, knocked loose a few hoses and rattled your serpentine belt. No problem, was just waiting on you to get up before I started her up, y'know?"

"Uh huh. Sunlight. Vampire. Pink skin. No shirt. No burning or ashes. Explain."

Gods, he's so much fun before his first shot of caffeine.

Part Three

:: The definition of 'explain' ::

"Y'know what woke me up, pet? A beam of sunlight in the face. Thought for a minute I was gonna burst into flames. When that didn't happen, I figured that it was just another fanciful dream. But no, that warm spot of sun just kept getting warmer, never hurting though. And hey, 'm not gonna question this new perk, right?"

Vampire. Sunlight. Spike without shirt, in sunlight, turning pink and looking healthy. Chocolate? Coffee at least?

The clueless expression still wasn't leaving his friend's face. If it wasn't doomed to prove inconvenient, Spike might've prolonged the entertainment just for blackmail material. Since he's been feeling hungry for awhile, he figures that it's best to move them along to the nearest town for breakfast. Or lunch, whatever. Food first, worry later.

Shoving Xander back into the jeep proves to take more effort than he'd first anticipated, especially considering the no caffeine situation. A testament to how gobsmacked the mortal truly is -- he doesn't say a word when Spike gets behind the wheel and shifts into gear. Doesn't say anything for the entire 30 plus miles to the closest little town. Doesn't question the food he's been provided, or that Spike seems to have commandeered his wallet.

And ok, Spike's milking the whole thing for every last second of shock value he can get. It's just too much fun, a feeling that's been in short supply since his dusting. So he eats heartily, reminds Xander to shovel food from plate to mouth and chew, and contemplates where he should go from here.

Changing subjects on his semi-comatose friend, he slops some more coffee into Xander's cup and asks, "Whatcha doing out here in the boonies, eh?"

Thankfully, that question seems to be simple enough for the man's few functioning brain cells to answer. "Taking a trip, seeing the country. Needed a change, somewhere away from giggling potential slayers."

That reply gets him a knowing nod and a raised eyebrow. Said eyebrow is too damned sexy, throws him back into a denial loop. Maybe he shouldn't have asked for the whole 'gay me up' thing. Or maybe it's always been there, and he was too repressed to admit it. And maybe he just doesn't care anymore. His parents were among the few too stupid to know when to jump the SS Sunnydale, and they were the main reason for his homophobic reactions. The Xanman may not be Willow-smart, but he isn't stupid either. He knows from whence come his neuroses.

Breakfast must've tasted good, but he can't remember eating it really. There's a dead undead guy sitting across the table, looking too damned good in borrowed sweats with just a hint of sunburn across his nose and cheeks. This same tangible ghost keeps up a running commentary on the locals, causing them to get less than perfect service. Oh well, the coffee isn't that great. At least they had a full sugar jar to start with.

"So, you can walk in the sun now. Got plans on doing anything special with that?" Yay me, think I just joined the conversation.

"Mmm, dunno pet. Got noplace I really gotta be, no one but you knows o'course. Whatcha say I just tag along for awhile, figure out me options, yeh?" Chewing thoughtfully on his last piece of bacon, Spike almost wishes for a mug of warm blood to finish off the meal. But with that thought comes a powerful wave of nausea. Oh bloody hell.

"Eh Xan? Anyone watching us?" he asks in a low voice, not willing to look behind him for observers.

A quick glance shows that they've been left alone, the one waitress joining the cook for a smoke break. "Don't see anyone. Why, what's up?"

"Gonna shift to gameface, k? Tell me it works, will ya?"

After a century and more, the switch between demon and human facades is painless, so smooth he honestly can't tell how well it's done without a second opinion. Judging from the expression on Xander's face, Spike figures he must have managed pretty well. No surprise, no disgust. Huh? There's always been...

:: Learning new tricks ::

Ok, smoother around the edges, same stunning golden eyes and deadly teeth. What's he asking about anyways? This whole situation is so weird, even for a hellmouth boy. Hmm, on second thought, he doesn't look like the vamp I first met on Parent/Teacher night back in high school. Maybe a younger relative or something. Do demons have genetic resemblences? Gotta ask Giles about that.

"Well, your makeup's on crooked, but other than that, same old same old. What's wrong, blondie? Too many bumps on the head?"

Just as quickly as it fell into place, the demon visage is gone again. "Right then. Had to wonder... was ok in direct sunlight, and the thought of blood made me sickish. Not the same as..."

"... yeah, got it. Won't mention that time, ok? Wasn't much fun for anyone, specially you."

"So, you're seeing the world now. Good on you. What's next on the agenda?"

A year ago, I'd have cringed at the thought of having Spike as my sole travel companion. Now? He's probably the only person -- and isn't it just too weird that I think of him as a person? -- I'd want to join me on this mission of self-discovery. And no, I refuse to admit anything about the scenery being nice.

"Tired of the bluegrass beat, was thinking bout making my way down to see Micky Mouse. You game for that?" Let's see what he does with that suggestion. Hey! It's my trip, I'll plan it however I want. You've just saved the world, what are you gonna do?

First, a small snort. Not derisive, just there. "Just like you, Harris. Loads of dosh, no bevy of bints to tell you what to wear, and you wanna go to Disney's World of Hell?"

He didn't say no. Heh. "Yeah, never been. Wils used to go with her folks when she was a kid, to the one in California. Figured I'd get a day or two at the one in Orlando. Send her some mouse ears with 'Wacky Wicca' on them. She'd get a kick outa that."

Tossing a few bills down on the table, Spike gets up and waits for Xander to follow. Even obediently hands over the keys, now that the man's over his shock. Nothing surprising there. Born and raised on the hellmouth, he's had to adapt and adjust to stranger things than a rejuvinated pile of dust joining his little cross country trek.

Back in the rover, Xander feels compelled to ask, "So... what was it like?"

"Eh?" He's pretty sure he knows where this is going, but he has to be sure.

"Being... where ever you were."

Yeh, that's it. "Not much to tell. Wasn't real, but was more than a dream. Nothing good or bad to tip the scales. Just *there*, y'know? Had to watch you lot rebuilding your lives." A quick chuckle. "Didja know the watcher's doing the geek?"

"GAH! I so did not need to have that suspicion confirmed. Damn you, now I'm gonna have nightmares about them together." The series of shudders makes Xander swerve dangerously across the road. Forcing himself to slow down and straighten up, he glares at the blond. Not that it'd do any good, but it makes him feel more normal. Relatively speaking.

"Fine. No details then?" He snickers at the choking sound from the driver. "Buffy and Bit are doing alright. Real active in college life, doing the whole UCLA student thing. Got themselves a cute little house off campus. Slayer's pulling a part-time gig with the poof, no big surprise there, eh?"

"Yeah, figured as much. And no, no details necessary. Long as they're doing ok." Taking a deep breath, he has to ask, even if he doesn't really want to know the answer. "Not going to talk to Buffy?"

I know what you're really asking, whelp. Won't make it easy for ya. Hell, hasn't been easy for me either. No reason to go into it now. "Eventually. She might care, might not. Won't take up much of her time just to say hi though."


And silence reigned for all of two towns.

Part Four

:: On the road again... or still ::

They make their way back to more civilized areas, letting Xander choose the route (with frequent commentaries from the blond avenger). Big cities and small villages fly past, blurring together at night and barely better during daylight. Once every few hours, they stop for food and gas, streching their legs and sharing a laugh as they try to mimic the local accents.

And yeah, Xander knows he should be going solo. But he's having too much fun to argue so far. And how weird is it, that after a year and a half of life without the former big bad, eighteen months of floating in half-life and watching everyone else move on, that just a few days with Spike have helped bring him back to his own brand of normality?

Not that he'd tell the blond menace that, oh no. Still... this is his friend. A guy friend, almost like poor dead Jesse, but better in some ways. Jesse was part of his childhood -- fragments of innocence, fumbling over their too-big feet as they tried to grow up, stilted and often sullen as any adolescent. Spike? He'd caused alot of the subsequent changes, directly or not. He'd been there to witness what Xander's world had become, thrown in his own assistance (for whatever reasons) often enough, and eventually become as good a friend. Sad that it had taken his death and the destruction of his home town for Xander to realize this.

But trips into reflection down memory lane could wait, right? They're almost to the Florida border, stopping once again for dinner and fuel.

"Hey Spike, whatcha want to eat? Bigger town, we've got loads of choices."

Apparently, the vampire is cruising down his own version of memory byways. He starts at the question, then quickly masks that by changing CDs. "Eh, no matter. Cajun sounds good, but we should wait for New Orleans for that. They don't do it right anywhere else. Maybe seafood?"

Another thing that he found beyond humerous -- it would seem that the new, improved model of William the Bloody had a mild allergic reaction to strawberries. As proven by yesterday morning's all-you-can-eat breakfast. The telling rash is mostly gone now, but Xander allows a mental giggle at the remembered sight.

This close to the coast, they've got an abundance of options for seafood restaurants. Finding a half-hidden little dive, they make their selections and eat in relative silence. Not that it lasts.

"Right then. This is your little trip, pet. Not trying to nose into your business, not really. But you haven't explained why you're *here* when the rest of your group is scattered in either direction." Yeh, he knew I'd ask. But hell, there's only so much introspection anyone should have to take. When it's someone else's gig.

Brandishing his crab leg in the vamp's face, Xander growls around his rice pilaf, "Don't knock it, buddy. This is the first road trip I've taken that didn't have me stranded a hour from home, leaving me at the tender mercies of bored housewives and their husbands' money to get my car fixed."

Alright... where'd that come from? Ah yeh, the much talked about Oxnard experience. Everyone speculated, no one had confirmed facts. "Bored housewives? The horror! Seriously though, something dragged you out of your nice little delusions, sent you running for the hills (literally, from where I found you), and you haven't said two words about Red or Slayer since that first morning."

Xander chews thoughtfully for a minute, dipping his second crab leg in garlic butter sauce and watching the little flecks of herbs dance in their sea of yellow stuff. "Ever have one of those conversations with someone who isn't there anymore, where you ask them all sorts of things and just imagine their responses? Like asking them *why* they didn't get out in time, or what the hell were they thinking? Replaying it over and over to try to make sense of it? But there's no way to get their real opinion, cus they just aren't *there* anymore? Damn, I must've spent more time playing that game in the last year than sleeping or eating, or dodging well-meaning friends trying to get me to talk about it..."

"Don't think the demon chit would want you to do this to yourself -"

"Shut up! You asked me something, and I'm going to try to answer. They're gone, and nothing you can do will bring them back, so the answers are as flimsy as smoke rings in a hurricane, ok? All the why's and what if's, running a marathon in your head, and you can't get the truth cus you can't speak to the dead. And whatever witchy friends you've got think it's 'unhealthy' to even try, so no spells or seances. Like that'd do any good, right?" He pops the cooling piece of seafood in his mouth, gives it a couple of passes through his teeth and swallows without really tasting.

"So your questions keep chasing you, and awake it's bad enough. But what really gets to ya is the dreams. Nightmares. Whatever. Cus that's when your imagination runs wild, and the most farfetched reasons start coming out. Eventually, it's hard to tell what your logical mind comes up with versus the crazed fantasies from sleep, yeah? And it just gets worse when your friends try to rationalize it. They mean well, sure, but they never bothered getting to know the person as well as you did. So all their guesses and excuses don't add up, but they play hell on what you remember that person's motives to be."

Right, Xander-babble. He's more lucid than I'd have thought, but we're still going around in circles. "Alright mate, what's the starting question then? You know Anya's in heaven, right? She died a human, paid her dues -"

Choking on his latest bite, Xander stares at Spike as if he's grown another head. "What makes you think I'm talking about Anya?"

:: And here there be monsters ::

He sees the cogs of Spike's mind trying to wrap themselves around that question. In another place and time, it would be vastly entertaining. Here and now... there's nothing he can do but forge on.

"Here's the thing. I know it needed to be done. I know there were only two choices. But what right did Buffy have to force that choice? It was Angel's job, all that saving the world shit. Did you even stop to think that maybe someone didn't want to see you die? Yeah, so you had loads of guilt from your nifty new soul helping push you into 'doing the right thing'. I get that, I do. But did you *one*time* ask yourself if it was your duty to dust yourself?"

Spike's silence is almost eloquent. The expression on his face ruins the moment by conveying that of a comical fish.

"And everyone else is all 'Oh poor Spike, he did such a wonderful thing, so let's thank the gods that we're still here by never talking about him'. And I just couldn't take it anymore. They've all got lives and missions and *meaning*, and I'm stuck with the questions no one wants to answer. And til a few days ago, you couldn't have said anything if I'd known how to ask them." A couple of sips of heavily sweetened tea later. "So, that's what prompted this little excursion. Satisfied?"

All the nightmares, both during sleep and while awake, flit through Spike's mind as he rehashes that period of time before the final showdown. He tries to remember just when he and the whelp became friends, what hurdle they'd crossed to pass the point of not-enemies into something more. Memories surface, but nothing clear. The only blaring fact he can grasp is the lack of men in this mortal's circle. Witches and slayers and balls of cosmic energy masked as teenaged girls, yeh. Only the watcher to commiserate on the overflow of estrogen, and Rupert remained so aloof, so parental of them all, that he couldn't be counted as the whelp's mate.

So Xander counted him a good enough friend to be angry over this? Interesting. Unexpected too.

"Right then. Dunno what you want to hear first. Was alot of confusion at the time, had no sense of self-preservation left. Only knew that Buffy found a way to save you lot, and that she handed me the key. Was I supposed to tell her no?" Won't get pissed at him. Dunno why I should care, but...

"Might could've asked 'what's the catch' or something! Given us time to say goodbye at least. Gods Spike..." the last came out as half a gasp, before Xander buries his face in one hand. "You've still got my wallet. Pay up when you're through eating. I'll be in the car."

Making his way out to the parking lot, Xander knows he's on borrowed time again. The fleeting sensations he'd had before Sunnyhell's destruction coming to the fore, it's only a matter of time before Spike demands answers. And beyond what he's just told the peroxide vamp, these are the ones he's been searching hardest to find.

Part Five

:: Helluva way to run a railroad ::

After Xander left the table, Spike spends several minutes just staring at the lobster on his plate. The damned thing seems to be staring back, but that's just silly. It's been cooked, right? But there's this accusatory glare on its tiny crustacean face, telling him he screwed the pooch one more time, even if he has no idea how or why.

Whelp's got some kinda idea that I wanted to dust. Crazy that. Demon with a death wish? Hah! Or maybe he's just upset that it wasn't his idea to turn me into a pile of ash... didn't sound that way though. Almost sounded like he... missed me. That's insane. Sure, we might've gotten over the urge to kill each other (as often), but we weren't best mates, right?

A waitress comes by to remove the empty plates, asks him if he'd like another bottle of beer. The interruption is welcomed, forcing Spike to push aside speculation for the time. He deals with the check, makes the obligatory trip to the loo (even vamps wash their hands, folks), and grabs some mints on his way outside.

The brunette is just where he said he'd be -- waiting in the jeep. His face hidden in his hands again, like he's playing peek-a-boo with the outside world, his shoulders trembling just the slightest bit. For a few long moments, Spike simply stares. Lets himself take in the picture, trying to put pieces together. In the end, he gives up, opting for a 'research party' of his own. Hell, if it worked for the Scoobies all these years, it'd work for a centurian vampire, right?

Since Xander is occupying the passenger's seat, the blond slides behind the wheel. He opens his mouth to say... something. Anything that would shake the mortal from his funk. Nothing comes out, so he shrugs and pulls out onto the road.

The passage of scenary changes little, but there's something soothing about the clear gulf air at sunset. Xander's expression gradually relaxes into quiet serenity, simply enjoying the salty breeze through an open window, his eyes mostly shut. Spike hates to interrupt the mellow mood, but he's finally decided what needs to be said.

"About earlier... Dunno how to say this to ya, mate. You've been in the position often enough yourself, yeh? There's a job to be done and you're there. No one else either can or is... expendable enough to do it. Try to believe me, Xan, I didn't go into it hoping to die, k. Was all about making sure Niblet and Buffy and you and Red got out alright. Since the poof skidaddled back to LA, I didn't try to argue over it. Besides, no one told me I'd be channeling *sunlight*, understand."

Breathing deeply, he pulls over to the side of the road and turns toward his companion. "Of all your gang, you're probably the only one who comes close to getting how bloody hard it was on me, coming back with a soul, yeh? Took months to get over most of the crazy thoughts, and you're the main one who got me through it all. Weird yeh, not like soft-hearted Red or General Slayer. You never had much use for me, so you wouldn't let me get off easy like they would. No slap on the wrist or hug to make it all better. And that's what I needed. Never got a chance to say thanks either. Heh, thanks from William the Bloody to a happy meal."

A half chuckle is the only reaction.

"So anyways, it's done. Spent months just watching you lot, knowing you made it out mostly in one piece. Whatever half world I was in, it let me hear and see most things, but only about the people I was closest to." Snort. "Never Peaches though, how's that for irony. You've got questions, so've I. How bout we answer them little at a time then, instead of dragging a muggy blanket of PMS over your lovely road trip, yeh? Figure it out as we go. 'S'way it's always worked best for me."

Finally, Xander lifts his face toward the blond. Those beautiful whiskey brown eyes are shimmering with unspilt tears, but a smirk forms on his lips. "Probably right. After all, when have we ever ruined each other's good moods?"

Spike takes exactly five seconds and two breaths before the snickers start. And if the laughter had a hysterical edge, who could blame them? Apocolyptic humor, REM had it right. 'It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.'

:: Aftermath of a mouse ::

Even on threat of the most vile pus and holy water submersion, Spike would never admit just how much he had enjoyed the days riding kiddie rides and annoying the geeks in cartoon costumes. He'd even let himself be talked into getting a set of mouse ears. Of course, had he known that the whelp would insist on personalizing the stupid scrap of black felt with 'Billy D. Bloody', he'd have probably put up more of a fight. Or not. It had been too long since he'd had as much fun without having to steralize his cloths afterwards.

There had been no more attempts at heart-to-heart chats, and few moments of depression from the mortal. Too many childhood dreams being fulfilled to waste time on such morbid curiosity. At least, that's what Spike hoped.

He'd watched the young man spend a small fortune on knicknacks for his girls, then even more on shipping them off to their respective homes. Priority mail even. Another puzzle piece comes into play, but it doesn't add anything to the overall picture so far, only makes it a bit more blurry around the edges.

So he still wants to spoil them, dole out the affection, whether or not they reciprocate. But he isn't pining for their company... but I'm here. Does that mean he won't show how much he misses them cus I'm around, or that he isn't lonely cus I'm around. Or that he's actually *glad*...

Sporting his eye-damaging neon green Marvin the Martian shorts and a black Epcot t-shirt, Xander stows the few remaining bags of Disney paraphenalia in the back seat. Three days of being a big kid, with no one to tell him to act his age. Hell, the park encourages childlike behavior. But he's seen it, experienced it, and now it's time to move along.

There's been no new emotional scenes since that last stop off before Orlando, and he's actually kinda glad. Sure, he's still got hundreds of questions, but... But Goofy's reaction when Spike growled at him was very real. And Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum may never recover from that unfortunate incident with the 'pink things' and silly string, orchestrated by the same vamp.

Who now walks during the day and forgets to put on sunblock. Who is way too cute with bedhead and snuggles into the nearest source of heat, even if that happens to be one Xander Harris. Who only put up a token protest when pushed toward the Teacup ride, then had to rush to the bathrooms before spewing cotton candy and hot dog residue over himself.

So yeah, he's still got questions, but they're changing some. He's been training his mind to squish any 'mom and dad' thoughts -- the ones that tell him how to live and think, not memories per se. Which is good, personal growth. But it's also bad... Cus this vampire, this *person*, beside him is someone he could easily fall for, and that's more terrifying than another apocolyptic crisis at Slayer Central.

And maybe now he understands a bit more about his reactions to those last months in Sunnyhell. (And isn't it odd how he only thinks of it like that, never SunnyDALE?) Taking care of a newly-souled Spike, making sure he didn't hurt himself during nightmares, making sure he fed and bathed. Listening to his 'love's bitch' speech in the retelling -- more than a dozen times, since it seemed to be a very popular theme. So maybe that's where his mind started connecting the bleached wonder with relationship-y feelings. If he's honest with himself, Xander can admit that he too is a whore for love.

Only now it looks like he's going to have to expand his erotic library some... Man-sex -- so not able to list that on his dating resume.

Part Six

:: What do you do with a drunken sailor ::

They stop several hours later at a small hotel, figuring that it's so out of the way that they wouldn't have to fight for rooms. Wrong. There seems to be some sort of crawfish convention among the locals -- only one room left, and it's a single.

Right, you can deal with this. We've shared smaller quarters before, and a couple of nights on the air matress too. No reason to wig, Xanman. Just cus you're having warm, fuzzy thoughts about the probably straight vampire who looks way too appealing in a tank and tight jeans. So what if he's got a higher body temperature now, making morning cuddles all too inviting. He's the one who curls up so close, and friction is gonna happen, right? Can't blaim me for morning wood either. Healthy young male here, it's normal. And he was turned young, so his is expected too, yeah? Or can I read more into it than that... Dammit, guys are supposed to be uncomplicated!

At least he didn't even raise an eyebrow when I dragged him shopping. He can't wear my sweats all the time, it's unnatural! That body and 'tude demand skin-tight denim and muscle-sculpting silk, and I am sooooooo screwed. Can't even get through a simple trip to Walmart without lusting after the not quite evil undead. Hmm... is he really undead now? Body temp close to human, no flashfires in sunlight, no cravings for blood, no cravings for gorey mayhem either (excluding that incident at the checkout, but we can excuse it... damned Jehovah's witnesses). Sorta sad that I can't replace his Docs and duster. Just isn't the same, y'know?

There's a little bar attached to the motel, and it's tempting. Way too tempting. But if I'm gonna drink, it'll be in the privacy of our room. No sense making a fool out of myself in front of the natives. He doesn't seem to object to the idea either. Not like Spike has ever turned down free booze. So one last stop for us, then back to camp.

Much later, Xander will probably convince himself that getting drunk after having realized his growing attraction to the former serial killer *with* said killer was probably just asking for trouble. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

They drag in bags and boxes, tearing tags off before stuffing new cloths in whatever tote is nearby. The motel's pitiful excuse for a TV plays pay-per-view and local stations only, but that's ok since they can order up some soft core and get buzzed. Like old times. Sorta. And hey, there's beer and whiskey and vodka.

So now they're comfy, laying at either end of the bed, watching a couple of silicon beauties spanking each other while they consume more alcohol than is strictly good for them. Xander knows his mind is wandering, but he's buzzing and can't bring himself to care. Besides, the view is just too enticing... From his vantage point at the head of the bed, he has this incredibly tight ass at the end of long muscular legs, lovingly hugged in stone-washed jeans. Spike stripped out of his t-shirt shortly after they started drinking, which simply added to the eye candy -- the flex and shift of back muscles has never made Xander quite this hard.

And wasn't it just a brilliant idea to watch some porn? Whatever scents of phermones the vamp might pick up can be blaimed on the kinky lesbo action on screen. No need to bring up any other subject. Barring the definite rise in his own pants.

It seems like a lifetime ago that Anya had tried talking him into a threesome with another guy. He'd pitched one helluva fit about that, more than it deserved, really. In his defense, it hadn't been that long since he'd moved out of his parents' sphere of influence. She had tried to understand, but swore she could tell he was interested, however loud he might protest. She's probably cackling maniacally right now, if she can hear his thoughts.

Oooo, a wiggle and clench. Dunno what got that reaction, but I hope it happens again. And remember, boys and girls, vampires are way stronger than humans. So no matter how much bigger you are, Spike would be able to toss you half a block away. Good -- he won't break if we get too enthusiastic. Bad -- *I* might break if he's offended by the idea. Team Bad wins this round, to the crowd's loud boo's.

Ok, so I'm not as brave as I wanna be. Rejection was never my favorite type of foreplay. And this first step into gay territory is made more dangerous by the fact that he really could wrap me around a telephone pole if he gets too pissed off. Strangely erotic actually, knowing how much raw power lies in that slim body. And no, I refuse to admit just how much it turns me on. The danger part. After all, with my relationship history it's no wonder I'm drawn to power, right? Demons and slayers and more demons. So this one's got different equipment and less desire to be 'nice' about turning me down. Murky waters, Xan, tread carefully and stay close to the shore.

:: So early in the morning ::

Huh. Harris buys me cloths, offers smokes and drinks, pays for really crappy porn. Wonder if he realizes how that looks to a demon. Nah, Anya's Viking in the sack has loudly proclaimed his heterosexuality too many times. And yeh, he smelled horny before the movie started, but so what? Whelp hasn't tossed off since I joined his little party.

Can't believe I turned down my favorite cigs though. Guess whatever the Powers did to this new body makes it reject nicotine. Not gonna try too hard, sorta got used to not smoking lately. Yeh, hear the sarcasm in me own head, eh? Whatever. Too much time around that lot will do it to the best of us.

It's tempting to see how far I can push the mood though. No, I'm not the same demon I was... before the chip, before the soul, before... just before. Doesn't mean I don't like a bit o' friction now and again. Mmm, friction! Hell, Xander won't much care if I go find a willing body for the night, right? Would be better with someone who actually gives a shit, but I don't see a line outside the door.

We've made our way through three bottles of Jack and a twelve-pack of beer, feeling nice and toasty. Nice and randy too. Figure I'm outa luck picking someone up at the bar though. This is hicksville, where the men are men and the wildlife is nervous. Don't need to get shot over a fuck. Could just wank here, just gotta roll over and unzip, or maybe take it to the shower. Awful lotta trouble, innit?

"Shove over, pet. Only so much a man can stand o' this before he's gotta get a handle on things, y'know?" Yeh, joining Xan at the other end of the bed jars him out of whatever fantasy he was living, if that blush is anything to go by. "Don't mind, do ya?"

"Er... right. Do whatcha gotta do, fang-... Spike. Want me to leave the room?" And isn't that blush moving farther down?

"What's got your hackles up, boy? Not like you haven't had a wank before. Having shared your past residences, I know better." Ha, do something with that. And while he's thinking up a reply, take a nice deep breath. Lust, embarassment, more lust, and some shame? Well that's new and different. "Hey, never mind, pet. I'll take it to the loo, k?"

Before I can flip off the bed, he's got his arm on my shoulder. It's so wonderfully warm, could get used to that. Not had alot of the good touches since Prague, when Dru got... sick. And she was never warm, not even after a feed.

"Wait Spike, do what you need to. Hey, you know how my folks were... Trying to get past their narrow-minded shit. Whip it out and do the backstroke, I don't care, ok?"

Can't lie for shit, always liked that about him. So I know he's telling the truth now... til that last part. For some reason, he does care. Doesn't *mind*, but it matters. Huh, what the hell? Another whiff confirms the previous one, but his shame's almost gone now. Right, what's that leave us...



Accelerated heartrate and breathing. Sending off phermones like he's calling his pack or something. Dilated eyes, but can't look directly at me. Bloody fekkin buggerin hell, the White Knight's got a yen for some o' me!

How to react. Outraged? Probably expecting that, so no fun there. Aggressive is my usual bit, but if he's only now coming out, it's likely to be too much. Offer to help each other out, cliche but might work best. Could just lay back and let'em look his fill, do that body language thing to tell'em it's alright to look an' touch. Huh, nah... Xanpet's always been a bit dense bout these things.

And maybe I should just lay here and see what he'll do. Enough liquor will bring out the bi-play in most anyone.

Yeh, we've still got a couple full bottles of the hard stuff and over half the beer. Not gonna fuck this up, whatever happens. He'll have to make the first move.

Part Seven

:: Decisions, decisions ::

Think, Xanman, think! How am I supposed to react to this?! Shit, only now admitting that he's attractive *to*me*, and now he's asking if he can jerk off while sitting on the bed beside me, watching porn? Holy fuck... Bound to be a better show than this crap though. I mean, come on! Even I could write better than this. Bet G-man would snort and call it 'drivel', or 'an utter travesty to the name of cinema'. Heh, channeling my inner Brit.

Oh, the Brit in me... gods, I *wish*! Wonder how bad he'd freak if I joined him? Hell, he did suggest it, after all. Slow breaths, act cool. So it's my first time jacking off with another guy, big deal. Oops! If we're gonna do this, better do it right. I know I've got some lube somewhere. Ah right, toiletries bag. Yeah, real smooth, Xan. Squeeze some out, hand the tube over, forget to unzip first. *moan*

Fine, just goes to prove that I'm just as clumsy with this guy thing as I am with girls. But the look on Spike's face... less amused, almost aroused? His eyes did that funky dilating thing, and he wasn't watching the TV. Shitshitshit, gonna cum before I touch myself if he doesn't stop *looking* at me like that!

And he's just petting himself through his jeans. I always wondered what a 'smoldering gaze' looked like, and here it is. Cus damn, feels like I'm burning up. If this is how I die, sign me up for the ride. He's licking his lips and nibbling the bottom one, like he's really hungry and I'm a buffet. And since when does that analogy turn me on even more, when talking about a *vampire*?

Ok, there goes his zipper. Fuck, he must've done some time as a stripper... so slow, letting each tooth click before loosening the next one. Running his other hand across his left nipple, pinching and twisting it. Wonder what he'd do if I did that to the other one? Don't wanna mess this up, but hell, if this is anything but an invitation, I'll eat Buffy's lasagna for a year.

Oh wow, vampires *purr*. And if that isn't the most sensual sound I've ever heard... gotta make him do it again. Mmm, forgot to trim my fingernails again, he seems to approve though. Scraping them down his chest gets a growly groan, almost as good as the rumble purr. Would he let me stroke him, or is that pushing my luck...

Shit, he must've seen the question, cus I don't think I asked it outloud. Pushing my hand down to his pants is sort of a clue though. Think now's the time to admit I've got zero experience at this? He can probably tell, but I don't hear any complaints or snark. His lips are moving like he's trying to say something, or trying *not* to.

"Xan, pet, oh fuckin hell yeh..."

Shivers of liquid heat roll down my spine when I hear him chanting my name, with those simple words of encouragement. Must be doing something right after all. Course if he likes that...

"Christ! Gods, do that again, pet, please..."

Oh yeah, I made him beg. Go me! Who'd have thought a belly button could be an erogenous zone? Fingers are making him beg, but I'll bet my tongue could make him scream. And Anya, where ever you are, thank you for the constant training in bedroom olympics.

Starting at his shoulder seems safe enough. Nothing too serious, no jumping into the main event. Just a lick here, a soft bite there. Avoid his neck, cus hey, vampire? The neck's bound to be some major hot kink. It can wait awhile, I wanna taste first. Mmm, sweet and salty, a strong masculine taste... and sunlight. Heh, that must be new. Down to his pecs, graze a nipple and breathe on it. And oh yeah, that gets a really loud moan. Bet he's the type to get off on piercings too. Hmm, ask later.

His hands are clenched in the sheets, like he's trying desperately not to grab me or something. I'd almost like some direction, but gotta appreciate him letting me explore. Oh look, there's an inny nearby, and hey, a new sound too! What's the name for a cross between growl, purr, groan, moan and wail? Doesn't matter what it's called, wanna make him do that again and often.

What's that on my chin? Oh right... almost forgot I'd undone his pants. *ulp* Well, it's all part of the package deal. No need to be scared, Xanman, you've got one too. Just remember how you helped Anya get so good at blow jobs, and try different things till he makes *that* sound again.

Damn, feels like all the alcohol's rushing to my head, but I know I'm mostly sober now. Guess he just turns me on that much. Huh. I've got a vampire's cock in my mouth, tonguing the slit and chewing on the foreskin (and isn't that something new to play with, kiddies?). And y'know, I could happily keep this up for days. Those beautiful blue eyes are mostly closed now, just slits showing through his lashes. And he's panting. I made the big bad pant! He tastes so damned good though, not like girl juices at all, but not really like *cough* mine either. Ok, so I've tasted my own cum -- most guys do that at some point. Whatever. His pre-cum is more sweet, less bitter, and I'd love to mix that in my hot chocolate. Oh! Chocolate syrup-covered Spike!! *moan*

Hey, that moan must've felt incredible, cus now he's pushing into my mouth. And each time he shoves in, I groan a little around his dick, which makes him push again. Gotta love behavior cycles. Not gonna stop this one either. Wanna taste him when he creams, and I want him to watch that. Yeah yeah, it's a kink. Shut up.

From the way his hips are moving, he must have some awesome restraint. I'd be gagging someone by now. So I guess I'm happy that he's holding back... but not. Enter the danger zone, young Jedi. Right, what feels better than great? Play with his balls a little, which he likes but doesn't send him over the edge. Umm... wonder if I can find that spot that Anya loved to torture me with...

"Bloody fuckin hell!!"

Heh, yep. Got it in one. And look at me, folks. I've got my finger up Spike's ass, and he loves it. If I can just find that little spot... HA! From the squealing scream (won't hold that over his head -- I made the same sound when my prostate was first discovered), I'd guess I did good. Oh yeah, gentle pulses against it for less than a minute, and he starts cumming in my mouth. Alot! Mmm, could get used to this. And my humming sets off another load. Wow...

"Pet," he's panting and gasping, barely able to make out words. " 'S'incredible. C'mere."

He drags me up and holds me to his chest, my head tucked under his chin. And yeah, I was right about his strength feeling so good, safe. Petting my hair and stroking my back, and I've never felt this... cherished. Gods. Don't think I can let this be just a one night drunken game. Hope he... fuck, dunno what I hope. And I'm still hard and leaking. But don't wanna move to take care of it either. That would require me twisting out of his arms. Uh huh, no way man.

Maybe, if I rub up against his hip, it'll fix the problem...

Part Eight

:: Creative Accounting ::

It takes a few minutes for me to stop breathing after what was definitely the most intense blow of my life, unlife too. Can't even say he was that inexperienced, but I'm pretty sure he's never gone down on a cock before. Must be why the demon chit called him a Viking, eh?

Act like that can't be followed by a simple blowjob either. And he's just laying there, slightly trembling against me but curled up like I'm the most precious person in his life. Gotta show him he's special too. Bet I know what'll get him, if he trusts me enough...

"Xan, lemme?"

He makes a soft inquisitive noise, but doesn't fight when I move him around. Shoulders and face on the bed, knees drawn up to his chest and apart... wonder if...

"Trust me, pet?" Feel more than see the nod of his head, good. Grab both of his hands and hold them together at his back, use my other to stroke his warm skin, across his thighs and over his arse. Gods he's gorgeous like this. Not just physical either, he *wants* to be here. With me! He chose this, and that makes him more than... most of my previous lovers.

Huh, lover. Tuck that thought away for later.

Licking my way up his legs, spreading little nips with blunt teeth across his bum, and yeh, he likes that just fine. Bet the demoness never did this though.


Heh, nah, figured she hadn't. Something tells me she was more a receiver, 's'why he was so good.

Don't wanna scare him, but for what I've got planned gameface works better. Longer tongue and all. Hey, I'm no stupid fledge, know how to keep my fangs retracted if need be. And plugging my tongue up his tight little hole is definitely the time for that. Mmm, his muscles clenching around me, makes me want to stick something else up there... but not yet. Don't think he's ready for that. Could be wrong though, cus he's taking to this like a pro.

Not fighting to free his hands either. Interesting... maybe... yeh, there's my belt. And there's a loud moan! Heh, he loves it. Bound and spread open for me, just beautiful. Leaves both hands free to explore and stroke. His 'nads quiver in my palm, but he likes it if the spurt of jizz means anything.

Time to up the ante, pet. Spread his ankles and hold'em down nice and snug, my tongue curled into a point aiming for that sweet little gland. Hell, if I'd known he tasted this good, I'd have taken the poof up on his sire's gift years ago. Marked him proper like, the perfect pet. Mmm, hard again, just for you, Xanluv.

He's moaning nonstop now, yammering in between breaths and begging for more. Does he know what he's asking for?

"Ssssspike... need you..." gasp "... fill me so good.." moan "... more now?"

Well. That's clear enough. Now where'd he toss the slick? Ah yeh, good stuff. Way he's panting and pushing back on me, I almost believe he's done this before. Probably Anya's toys. Nothing like a thick, pulsing slab o' flesh though.

Right, gotta get'em ready first. Let my tongue work his knackers, keep his mind off what my fingers are doing. Takes two easy enough, but I did him good with the rimming first, yeh? Third slips through that snug ring without so much as a flinch. Huh.

" 'S'enough, 'm ready. Want you, please Spike."

His hips almost push me off the bed when I slide a fourth finger up into him. Gotta take care, chip or no, don't want him to regret this. But he's bucking back against my hand, riding sensation like he knows what's what. Or maybe he's just a natural. Eh, don't matter, he's here with me now.

Good thing he didn't complain about that belt, cus I need both hands to steady myself. Been so long... and he's a real treat. Responsive and willing, begging so pretty for me to push my cock inside him. Wanna flip him over, see his face when I take him. 'S'not easy to manuever him into place without untying his hands, but he seems to like that...

Gods! Just about to lose it, looking down on him like this. His eyes are wide open, glazed and filled with passion. Sappy words, but can't think of anything that fits better. Need and lust and something tender that almost makes me tear up. Never been looked at like that, like I was someone's whole world. Wanna keep him... but will he let me?

"Please Spike, now... in me, please?"

He's breathing short and shallow, dick drooling a fountain on his stomach. Hope his arms aren't aching too much, but won't untie him till he asks. So pretty like this. Flip his legs over my shoulders, raises his bum enough to line me up good. He's stopped begging, just watching as I get closer to entering him. There's no hesitation on his face though, just desire. How it should be.

Just nudging his snug little hole, feeling it suck at my slit, but I don't want to start this yet. Not before...

Hope he doesn't go crazy on me, but I gotta taste his lips. Not easy to bend across him without pushing in, but worth it. His mouth is soft, warm, tastes like the warmest honeyed brandy. Keep kissing him, gentle swipes of tongues, as I enter him. Closest thing to perfect I've ever felt. Almost feels like... coming home. Crazy, yeh?

He breaks away, takes a slow breath and nuzzles my cheek. Asks me to let loose his arms now. Can do that, want him to hold on. Can't stop moving inside him, and it's gonna get wild soon. Only he doesn't brace himself, puts his arms around my shoulders, draggin me down to his neck. Can't do that, not yet, not to him. Wet sucking kisses that leave marks, yeh, but no biting.

Forgot I was in gameface, but he didn't bat an eye when we kissed. Huh, maybe...

All the way in now, and he's moving his hips in small circles against me, grounding himself on me. And might be the Powers aren't as bugfuck crazy as I always thought. Might be that this is my reward, my heaven. Sure feels like it.

We move together, feels like a fekkin love poem done right, and he's squeezing the orgasm outa me faster than I wanna admit. Haven't even touched his pretty cock yet, but he's cumming all over us, spreading his scent on me.

His arms tighten, shoving my face against his neck again. This time I don't hesitate. Sink my teeth into that delicious vein pulsing right above his collar bone, only taking a couple gulps, but it's enough to send me over the edge. Think he came again too. Means I didn't hurt him, made him feel good. And how simple am I that it's all I can worry over? He's gonna feel different when he finds out what we've done.

Part Nine

:: There's got to be a morning after ::

Xander drifts in a haze of sated splendor, softly stroking the pale skin nearest his lethargic hands. The temptation to doze off is strong, but he can practically *taste* his bedmate's withdrawal. And after this performance, that just won't do.


He receives a quiet grunt in reply, Spike's arms holding him closer even as his face shuts down.

"Hey you."

Nuzzling into the crook of his neck, the vamp hides his expression.

"Uh huh, get back up here." Wasn't he praising demon strength earlier? Hell with that, it's a bitch when he tries to move the immovable. "Fine, stay there and do... whatever. Gonna say this once, then I'm grabbing some sleep. William the Bloody, lately known as Spike, I am neither stupid nor naive." Interrogatory grunt. "Don't give me attitude, buddy. I've read all the books Giles kept pushing at Buffy, that she never looked at. I *know* what's going on, ok?" Very low whine. "Oh please. Leave off with the flaggelation -- and isn't that some sort of amoeba movement? -- and think!"

Apparently not used to be scolded after sex, some small part of what Xander's saying breaks through the stubborn vampiric mind. He lifts his head just enough to look into those expressive brown eyes.

"Simple terms: I wanted you to bite me, mark me, ok? And yeah, I've got a good idea what that means. So unless I'm... not what you..." sigh "Unless you'd rather just ignore it, I'm good with this course of action. And hey, that sounded adultish!"

:: Take and doubletake ::

He's going to hate me. Again. But worse than before, so much worse, took advantage when he only offered -

"Hey you."

- only offered tonight, no promises, shouldn't be. 'M a vampire, no good for human relationships. Couldn't want more, too pure, he's everything sunshine and healthy green things. Slayer told me often enough how she knew next to nothing bout demon culture, shouldn't expect one of her Scoobies to know more. *moan* still taste him, sun and salty rain and somethin like cloves or spiced cocoa. Don't wanna give him up, but he's gonna run when he finds out.

"- and think!"

He wanted me to... not what I... oh Xan! Nothing else to do but snuggle closer and hang on. Still gonna have to have that talk, but it can hold a few hours.

Misery swiftly changes to tenuous hopeful, and some other expression that flies past too quickly for Xander to catch. He'll figure it out later, after much sleep and some food, and maybe some more incredible sex. For now, he's going to keep hold on this fragile vampire and not let go.

Just as the two exhausted men doze off to their well-deserved rest, another flash of light flares outside their motel room.

Part Ten

:: Please forgive this man ::

And he falls asleep.

Now how ironic is this? Granted, I'm not used to being in a relationship with another guy, but come on. There's gotta be some universal code of conduct, right? Important talk right after earth-shaking sex.

Although... it felt like he was making love to me. All of me, not just my body. Sure, he played that part like a concert pianist, but there's the other things. The way he looked at me, like I was the most important person in the world to him. The way he anticipated what I needed, to feel utterly safe and protected, without being immasculated. And yeah, maybe only another man could understand that last bit, but it's new and different to me. I'm usually the one to comfort and console.

Guess I've been looking for this feeling a long, long time. Never had the same sort of reaction to anyone else though. Not even to Spike, before. Alright, that was a crazy time -- in his case, literally -- and it was hard enough for us to learn how to be friends. And maybe I'm over-analyzing this.

Facts, man, look at the facts. (Shut up, I'll channel McCoy if I want.)

Fine, fact numero uno. When I finally let myself mourn Anya, I kept imagining a certain other blond snarking me back into shape. Second, I *liked* him before, but I like him more now. Drawn to him, see things in him that I'd like in a partner. And yeah, those warm fuzzies have taken up residence in my gut. So maybe I more than like him. Enough to give myself over for a mating claim? Huh. Says my subconscious, the one who yanked his head to my neck during sex. Right, go away hard-on, can't think with you distracting me. Probably more 'facts' to throw in there, but that's probably the main stuff.

Now, his reaction. First there's the seductor... No, first was the skittish sun-proof vamp, learning what he can and can't do. Then the big bad kid dragging me back and forth between roller coasters, not to mention that memorable trip to Wallyworld. Friend, confidant, then lover. Isn't that what couples are supposed to be to each other?

Never was with Ahn. She was never that secure in her humanity to reciprocate the comfort much. Heh, more big words, go me! But she tried, and might eventually have made it. Just not with me.

Gods, what a lover. *moan* Ok, so he's got over a hundred and thirty years experience, and that makes a huge difference, but it wasn't his technique that made it special. Every ounce of emotion, of gentle caring, went into his touches and kisses. Think I could happily spend eternity just kissing him.

Nope, not gonna hyperventilate over that. Say it again with feeling. Eternity. Forever. Til death or dust do us part. And look, still conscious and grinning like a fool. Yeah, I can give him that, happily. Think I could fall in love with you, Billy D. Bloody, William, Spike.

:: Flip side ::

Whelp's thinking awfully loud. Sure he knows I know he's still awake, not like the silence is deafening. He's not tense or worried, smells contented. At peace. Haven't smelt that on him in a very long time. That cus of me?

Yeh, feel close to there myself. Just keep my eyes closed, arms tight around his warm body, and let the rest of the world do its thing.

Only I can't. There's too many unanswered questions. Why am I back. What am I now. Why'd I get sent here, practically falling at Xander's feet. Not that I'm complaining, mind. Can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be, if I'm honest about it. All seems too tidy though.

He asked about shansu a few days ago, and that makes the most sense. Except the prophecy wasn't about me, was missing several pieces. So whatever's happening here won't ruin Peaches' chances for his humanity. *snort* Don't think he deserves it, less than he did two years ago. Letting that little snip of a chit bully him back to LA instead of taking his chance at redemption? Wasn't for me, knew I'd never find that.

So what game are the Powers playing now? 'M not a human, not a true vampire either. Still have my demon, but don't crave blood. Made me nauseus... cept Xan's. One mouthful and I'm addicted. *moan*

Seems I remember a story the Master used to tell about daywalking vampires. He'd snarl and scoff, voice full of scorn, cus they worked with the white hats. Used to tell me and Dru bedtime stories warning us away from them. Dunno how much shit that was though. Weren't they supposed to be 'free' or something? Hell Dru, wish you were here. You always did remember that crap better'en me.

So what's this leave... Xander. His response to me, all of me. So tender and loving, understand what Anya saw in him now. And he's mine whether he knows it or not. Bloody git, giving himself without questions or reservations to a demon. He should know better by now, right?

And what if he does, and wants it anyways. Was a time when I would've grabbed the prezzie and ran with it. Now, all I can think about is how he'll look at me when he hears what we did. Yeh, I bit him, my fault there. But he offered, more than once. Counts for something.

:: Changing channels ::

Enough soul-searching, for both of us. Bet he doesn't know that I can tell he's not asleep. Heh, he breathes in his sleep, purrs too. It's close enough to breakfast time now, think I'll drag him into the shower then down to the coffee shop.

"Hey blondie."


"You smell."

" 'S'not like you're fresh as a daisy either, Harris."

"Yeah, let's go take a shower." With a little effort he gets the vamp's limbs untangled from his own, directing them to the tiny bath. The only response? A raised eyebrow. And when did that get so damned sexy...

He isn't much confused by his friend's cool demeanor. From what little Spike said earlier, their mating wasn't intentional -- which sends a pang of hurt deep inside his chest, but those kinds of thoughts can wait. So, claim marks of the evil undead, volume 12: pet, childe, minion, and mate. And yeah, coulda been the pet type, but he doesn't think so. Those second two are out for obvious reasons. Leaving only the fourth. Maybe he just has to show Spike that he's alright with it.

Grabbing a thin hotel washcloth, he soaps up and applies himself to scrubbing his new lover. And sometime over the past few hours, he's decided that he really wants Spike as his lover. A flicker of memory from one of his high school English Lit classes: lover in the truest sense of the word, alone and in public, committed intimacy between two people on every level. And maybe he's finally ready for that. Or maybe he's ready for that *with*Spike*.

Before he knows it, they're both clean and dried off, the blond having taken charge of towel duty. Good thing too, or Xander might have stayed dripping and chilled in the stall, lost in thought.

"So. What's next?" Bland tone, giving nothing away.

Xander isn't as withdrawn, gives him a grin. "Wanna have breakfast? Or we could stay here and abuse the lube some more." Putting a wicked glint in his eyes, he leers at his vampire. "Or, we could make love again, talk about what's bugging you, then head on down to New Orleans."

Deep sigh puffed out between drawn lips. "Xan, we're not going to get anywhere with jokes. Love that about you, always relieving the tension, but now's not the time for it."

"Always time for a smile, big bad cuddler. 'Sides, whatcha need to talk about? You claimed me, I'm willing, had the most amazing orgasm of my life and would love to practice some more of that tongue stuff." Heh, can a vamp go 'gah' and still look perturbed? He's so cute like that.

"Wait. You're... willing?"

Ah, so that's where he got stalled. "Happily claimed here, can we confirm this with another round?"

"Dammit Harris, put a leash on your libido. And don't bother sulking at me. I mastered that lip decades before your grandmum was in nappies."

"But Spikeeeeee!"

"Come on, Xan, we need to talk about this... "

Fine, he won't let me pout. Willow tactics deployed. "Alright dear, have a seat and we'll talk all you want. Should I fix you some tea? Cookies? Could probably call the office for some room service." Leading the perplexed blond over to the bed, Xander sat them down and took both cool hands in his own.

"Spike, we learned how to be friends before... Sunnydale came tumbling down. Learned how to at least live together, like each other some. I didn't realize how much I missed you till the day you dropped on your butt up in the mountains. My friend, but also someone I admired and enjoyed spending time with. Someone I could share the strangest and most embarassing things with. And yeah, you might spread my secrets out just to get a laugh, but never when they were really damaging.

"And maybe you missed what I said earlier, while you were freaking out so hard. I've read the watchers' journals about claim marks and stuff. I knew what was happening before I offered. That's just it though -- it was my choice to offer. And your choice to take, to accept. I'm not unhappy about this, far from it. Don't we both deserve some happiness these days?"

Only after he stopped ranting did he realize how loud he'd gotten. Spike won't meet his eyes either, sitting apathetically beside him.

With a gentle squeeze to his hand, Xander continues more softly, "That's it, huh. The soul tells you that you don't deserve anything good. Bet the demon says 'take it and run' though." He grins at the startled intake of air. Chuckling to himself, Xander does a mental snoopy dance. Yeah, he knows his vamp. "You told me, just after you moved out of... there and into my place, remember? Told me you were trying to merge your soul and demon into one spirit, like having a balanced conscience for either side."

"What're you on about, pet? Think you took a u-turn back there somewhere."

Snicker. "We talked about how hard it was for you, for the new soul and the old vamp spirit to get along. Don't remember whose idea it was, but it made sense at the time, still does too. Let them merge, puts you on an even keel with us poor mortals. Humans aren't born 'good' or 'evil'. We become, with help from environment and natural disposition. Nature versus nurture, remember?"

"Huh. Yeh, think that was the time we got so shitfaced that Red had to float us back home. She didn't even get chewed up by Ripper for unnecessary magic either."

"Right. So, your soul's got all this guilt and repression from the Victorian era, and your demon's got most of the aggression and passion. If you let them melt together, you'll be better balanced than most humans." And so what if he sounds way too pleased with his reasoning. It's dragging his lover out of the muck, and that was his main objective. "But really," the little twinkle comes back, "I think that's already happened, and you're just too stubborn to give over. You, William aka Spike, are at heart a softy, heart and soul and vamp."

Xander has just enough time to dodge before the blonde snaps out of his shock to thwap him.

Part Eleven

:: Retry, Abort, Fail ::

Dunno when it happened, but Xander bloody Harris found a few homeless brain cells and took'em in. Shouldn't say that about the whelp -- he's always been the heart of the group, findin' solutions outa some cosmic grab bag of bizaar ideas. Just a bit disconcertin', is all. Havin' a human with no special powers tell me somethin' I shoulda figured out on my own.

So yeh, maybe I'm 'whole' now. Don't feel the same struggle going on anymore, just little things. Whether it's a bad idea to thrown him down in front of the fast food patrons and make him squeal -- part of me says 'why the hell not?', but the other part says he'd probably object about being banned from his favorite greasy treats.

Guess part of this soul-having business comes down to patience. Demons rarely have much, if any. Want, take, have -- as our favorite renegade slayer once said. So the soul is my impulse control. Not saying I like it too much, but at least I can recognize what it's for.

And maybe he's right about the other too. Didn't ask for redemption, didn't ask for anything other than making sure my family stayed alive. But maybe... the Powers are givin' it to me anyways.


What the soddin' hell was that?!

:: Blue screen ::

~William, Xander~

Blue eyes meet brown long enough to verify that they are both following this strange event. They nod warily toward the shimmering grey figures.

~Good, nice to see that you've both caught on.~

~Be nice, brother.~ A stern look at the toga-wearing male. ~William, you are quite correct in your theories. We felt it just to reward you for your unselfish acts, and have given you a second chance. Merging your human soul and demon spirit was only the first step. Accepting that you can be and are loved was the major stumbling block, which you have overcome quite nicely.~

"Eh, so now what? Not gonna turn me into a human, are ya?" He turns toward his lover as Xander grabs his hand. "Not that there's anything wrong with being human, I suppose. Just not what I am anymore, right?"

~Not at all. You are still yourself, William. Yet you are more, what would be loosely called a day walker among your kind. A subset of your species that has not been seen in many centuries, but we felt it appropriate for your reward. Especially considering your choice of companionship.~


Xander looks the two figures over, opens his mouth and closes it again, then frowns and starts over. "So, in exchange for letting himself be torched and ashed, saving millions of humans and assorted peaceful life forms, he gets to walk in the sunlight and has no driving urge to feed. Did I get that right?"

A ghostly chuckle brings shivers to both lovers.

~Simply put, yes, Alexander. Although I believe you missed something along the way. He also gets eternity, if he so chooses. With his mate.~

Spike's eyes flicker toward the mortal for one brief moment. He doesn't want to ask the question, but feels he must. "Did you two push us together? Not sayin' I wanna change anything, but it's not fair to the whelp if he's got no say-so in this."

Another eerie laugh.

~Not at all, William. We forced no one's hand in any affection toward you. There were several candidates who missed you, remembered you fondly, even wished for your presence. Your Alexander's desire for a true partner was most pure, and your own feelings -- however deeply they might have been -- tipped the scales in his direction.~


Looking at the blond, Xander asks, "So, these are the spokesbeings for the Powers? What's with the doublespeak?"

"Ssssssshh! Don't-"

"Oh please, Spike. They've been running around in circles since they dragged us here. Not telling us anything we hadn't already figured out."

~You are correct, mortal. This is simply a... what term would you most recognize... courtesy call? William needed to hear directly from us, the terms of his reward and all that entails. Perhaps now you can take over leading him through the various changes and discoveries. Our time and patience is at an end with this little drama.~

~Speak for yourself, brother. I for one intend on following them around for some time. Just in the interest of-~


As the two devolve into some arcane language, bickering, Xander and Spike find themselves back in MickyD's parking lot.

:: In the beginning... ::

They stare at each other for several long minutes, not relinquishing their hand holding.

"So, that was... odd."


"And you're real talkative."


"Spike, listen." Taking a deep breath, Xander turns the other man's face towards his. "You heard what they said, remember? They didn't force either of us into this. Timing is everything... if they'd tried to push me into accepting what I felt just a couple of months ago, it wouldn't have worked. Took dropping me on my head a few times to understand."


"No, just... listen, and stop doubting me please. You deserve this. I deserve this. So the Powers decided to play metaphysical matchmaker, who cares? If we didn't have a decent chance together, you wouldn't be *here* anyways, right?"

"Yeh, guess so."

"Ok then, let's enjoy what we've got, and figure out what they meant by 'daywalker'. That's a term I haven't heard before, though it's pretty easy to grasp where the name came from." Snickering, he lifts the blond's face in for a soft kiss. "Wanna give this a try?"

Like an errant child, Spike scuffs his shoe into the ground, thinking. "We've gotta, don't we? Claimed ya already. Can't just-"

"Spike. Choice. Mine. Yours. Remember?"

"Huh, you take lessons from the werewolf in advanced communications skills?"

"Nah, just enough time around Buffy before her morning coffee."

"Ah, right then. S'ok, yeh, guess we'll give it a shot."

Another gentle kiss, transmitting concern and care and so many other emotions. "And we've got eternity to iron out the kinks. Or discover them." And winking at his lover, Xander throws an arm around the slighter form and leads him toward the golden arches.

The End

AN: It was my intention to go a bit further with this section, however extenuating circumstances have prevented me from being able to write or get online for the foreseeable future. My computer is dead, eating itself apart byte by byte. I've tried to wrap things up as neatly as possible, answering the major questions, but still reserve the right to deal with the rest in future sequels when I can fix this internet deficit disorder.
Hopefully you will all forgive the abrupt ending (and lack of more smut), and will patiently await my return.
The outstanding reviews and comments have truly made my heart warm to overflowing, no sarcasm either. Your kind words have been one of the few balms to this very trying past week. Many hugs and kisses to the lot of ya!

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