Pairing: Spike/Xander
Rating: FRAO

Disclaimer: They aren't mine, I'm not making any money here.
Archiving: My webpage (http://www.graphousa.net/rsadelle/fiction/), anyone else should ask. Archived versions must retain all headers.
Summary: Anya gets her old job back and leaves Xander a girl to take care of.
Warnings: Heterosexual sex, same-sex kissing, pregnancy.
Author's Note: Thanks to Melle, Sky, and varying Escapade attendees for encouragement. Thanks to Sky and Molly for beta/read through services.



Love Me Like A Man


by
Ruth Sadelle Alderson


Day 0

It started with the appearance of a demon, of course.

"D'Hoffryn!" Anya came out from behind the counter. "What are you doing here?"

"The vengeance business is in a sad state these days, Anyanka." D'Hoffryn glanced around the shop. "The workload just keeps getting higher and higher, and my staff just can't keep up with it." He held out a small box. "I need you back."

Anya opened the box and drew out the pendant. "Oh, D'Hoffryn." She held the pendant up to the light. "Do you really mean it?"

"I don't make offers of employment lightly."

"Anya." Xander finally came around the table and up the three steps to stand next to D'Hoffryn.

Anya looked from the gem to Xander. She wrapped her arms around him. "I love you, Xander Harris," she said. "You've been good to me. I promise I won't leave you alone. I'll leave you someone to take care of." She stepped back and dropped the necklace over her head.

"Oh," she breathed. "Oh, thank you, D'Hoffryn."

Xander didn't really know what she was like before she was fully human, so he couldn't tell if the way everything about her brightened was her natural state or just relief at having her powers back.

She didn't even say goodbye before she and D'Hoffryn disappeared into nothingness.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 1

"Spike?"

Dawn's astonished question made them all look up.

Those were Spike's clothes all right. But the rest of it wasn't quite right. For starters, the person in the clothes was standing in the beam of sunlight shining through the door. The hair wasn't quite right. The expression on the face actually looked a little scared. And there was something else, something different.

"Breasts!" Xander was too surprised to be embarrassed by his outburst. "You have breasts!"

"Oh, yeah, hadn't noticed that." Spike's new voice was a lot like his old voice, sarcastic and a little rough around the edges. The sarcasm couldn't quite hide the fear. He turned his glare on Willow. "What'd you do to me, Witch?"

Willow's eyes widened. "Me? I didn't do anything!"

"Yesterday I was a bloke," Spike growled, "and today I've got these." He let the duster flare out behind him and gestured at his chest. "Has to be some kind of mojo at work."

"It wasn't me, I swear!"

"Anya!"

Xander's head whipped around.

"Oh, no," Buffy said, "she's not here." She gave him a lopsided, apologetic smile. "But she did say she'd leave you someone to take care of."

They all turned to look at Spike.

Spike defensively crossed his arms over his chest. "Don't need some half-grown boy to take care of me."

Dawn came over to hover around Spike. "You're not dust," she pointed out. "That means you're not a vampire anymore."

"Don't need anyone's help," Spike sulked.

"Yes, you do," Dawn said with the firmness that only a teenager could muster up. "You will. You can stay with us. Right, Buffy?"

"Dawn," Buffy hedged, "I don't know."

"She, er, he, er, Spike will need some place to stay," Giles said. "A crypt is no place for a, um, young woman to be living."

"And clothes!" Dawn all but clapped her hands together. She eyed Spike speculatively. "I don't know if anything of mine will fit you, but Buffy has more clothes than she needs."

"Come on," Xander said to Spike. "They'll be fighting about clothes for a while now." He took Spike down to the table. "Sit down. You look like you could use a rest. Are you hungry?" Without waiting for an answer, he grabbed up a paper plate and dished out a little bit of everything from the Chinese food cartons spread all across the table.

Spike eyed the food skeptically, but once he started eating, he wolfed down the whole plate. Xander refilled it without being asked.

"Feeling better?"

"Can't get used to this body," Spike admitted. "Hurts."

Xander frowned. "Where?"

"All over."

Xander put his hands on Spike--weird to feel him warmer than room temperature, weird to feel him at all, really--and pressed his thumbs into the soft spots at the base of Spike's skull. He drew his hands down Spike's neck and out onto his shoulders. He kept working his way down Spike's spine. Spike seemed to be relaxing, but then he jerked away from Xander's touch and out of the chair.

"We goin' or what?" The shaking in his voice was enough to stop the argument Dawn and Buffy were still having.

Dawn put her arm around Spike. "Yes," she said. "We're going."

Buffy scowled, but she went with them.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 3

"You have to do something!" Buffy slammed the door closed behind her.

Giles looked up from where he was helping a woman who couldn't decide if she needed sage or stinging nettle. "I'm with a customer," he said, "and I'll thank you not to further damage the premises."

Buffy stopped her headlong rush toward him and smiled at the woman who had hurriedly picked something. She paced around the edges of the shop while Giles rang up the woman's purchases.

"I can't stand it!" she burst out when the woman was finally gone. "They're driving me crazy!"

Giles took off his glasses and wiped at them with a handkerchief. "Perhaps you could start at the beginning, or even somewhere closer to the middle."

"Dawn and Spike," Buffy said impatiently. "Dawn's PMSing and Spike's such a bitch. They won't stop and they keep ganging up on me."

"Oh!" They all turned to look at Willow. "Spike could be PMSing."

Xander pounded the hammer into his thumb instead of a nail. "Damn!" He dropped the hammer and stuck his thumb into his mouth.

Willow, Buffy, and Giles all turned to look at him and then turned back to each other.

"She could be right," Giles opined. "If Anya did turn him into a woman, we have to assume he will, ah, experience all that comes with that."

"He did say he hurt," Xander volunteered, even though they weren't really including him. "That could have been cramps."

They turned to look at him again.

"Spike actually told you that?" Willow asked.

"Yeah." Xander looked from her to Buffy to Giles. "I think he was a little upset."

"Maybe you could talk to her," Buffy suggested.

Xander shrugged. "I can try. I don't know what makes you think I'll be able to do anything."

The bell rang, and Buffy made a face as Dawn and Spike came through the door.

"Bitchy," Spike greeted her.

"Spike," Buffy ground out.

"Anything goin' down?"

"Nothing we need you for." The fake sweetness made Xander cringe.

"Course not." Spike threw himself into a chair.

"What's this?" Dawn asked about something she'd found on a shelf.

Buffy took it away from her. "It's not your homework." She pointed Dawn toward the table. "Homework first."

"I bet you didn't do your homework first when you were my age."

Xander tuned out the argument and went into the back to run some cold water over his thumb. He grabbed the Tylenol on his way out.

"Your new body still hurting?"

Spike scowled at him. "Get bent."

"I'll take that as a yes." Xander got a glass of water and shook two Tylenol out. "Start with this." He went back to the training room and rummaged through the various first aid supplies until he found a heating pad. He tossed it in the microwave and juggled it back into the main room. "This'll help too. Sit forward a little." Surprisingly enough, Spike did as he was told and Xander slipped the heating pad between the chair and the small of his back.

"What's that supposed to do then?"

Xander looked to the rest of the room for help, but everyone else was suddenly busy. "We think you're going through some really rough PMS."

Spike gaped at him.

"The heat should help you relax. You can try it against your stomach too and see if that works better."

"PMS?" Spike found his voice again. "You think I have PMS?" If Xander didn't know better, he'd think those were tears starting to gather at the corners of Spike's eyes. "I swear, Anyanka, if I ever get my hands on you." He left the threat unfinished.

Xander put his hands on Spike's shoulders. "I know this is tough," he said. "I remember when Anya went through some of this." He pushed his thumbs into the tight spots he remembered from the first day Spike had been a girl. "We'll help you through it."


~*~*~*~*~


Day 7

Xander left Dawn and Spike chatting on the stairs and went to the adults consulting a book on the counter. "Did anyone give Spike the safe sex talk?" he asked into a pause.

Horrified looks were quickly exchanged.

"No," Giles said. "I don't believe we'd considered that."

Xander nodded. "While we're on the subject," this time directed at Buffy, "have you had that talk with Dawn?"

Buffy looked even more horrified than before. "No. She's too young for that."

"Buff, she's sixteen," Xander pointed out. "I'm thinking that you can just give them both the talk."

"Me?" Buffy shook her head vigorously. "I'm not giving them the talk."

"You're raising Dawn. It's your job."

"Anya gave Spike to you to take care of," Buffy countered.

They turned to look at Willow.

"Not me," she said. "I already explained tampons to Spike."

The three of them turned to Giles.

"Giles," Buffy wheedled, "you're a teacher."

"I'm afraid this not an area of my teaching expertise." Giles looked up at them. "And more to the point, I won't do it. You'll have to work it out yourselves."

"They're girls," Xander pointed out. "They'll be more comfortable with you."

"I can't talk to my sister about sex," Buffy insisted.

"Ewww," Dawn said from behind her. "I don't want to talk to you about sex either."

"See?" Buffy said. Xander could tell she was trying not to smirk openly.

"What's going on?" Dawn asked.

Everybody else looked down at the books, leaving Xander to answer her. "Saturday," he said, "after lunch. This means you, too, Spike," he said loud enough for it to carry. "Somebody has to have The Talk with you, and everyone else is too cowardly to try."


~*~*~*~*~


Day 9

"You so owe me for this," Xander hissed at Buffy as she escaped the house. He took his paper bag of supplies into the living room.

Spike and Dawn protested when he snapped off the TV--"We were watching that!"--but Xander ignored them and sat down on the other side of the coffee table. He put the paper bag down next to him.

"I'd rather be at home watching TV, too," Xander said, "but we get to do this instead." He pulled a book out of the bag, opened it to the marked page, and put it on the table between them.

"First step," he said, "biology." He pointed to the book. "Body parts, proper names, ask if you don't understand something."

Almost as one, Dawn and Spike slid off the couch to sit on the floor in front of the coffee table.

"Why," Spike asked, "are we lookin' at diagrams of the human reproductive system?"

"He's giving us The Talk," Dawn explained, which only served to confuse Spike further.

"Which talk is that then?"

"The sex talk," Xander supplied.

Spike looked offended. "I'm a dozen times older than you two children. I think I know about sex."

"I think you don't," Xander said. "You were a man, and you never had to worry about safe sex."

"What," Spike scoffed, "like don't get staked while doing it?"

"No," Xander said evenly, "like don't get pregnant, don't get sick, don't do anything you don't want to do." He stared Spike down until he gave in with an irritated grumble.

"Don't want the Bit gettin' herself knocked up."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Body parts. Giles said you could hang on to the book for a couple of days." He flipped the page. "This is where babies come from." He pointed at the diagrams. "Sperm meets egg, nine months later there's a baby."

"Little short on details there," Spike observed.

"I'm leaving the book. That's the part you can read about." Xander looked from Spike to Dawn. "You can ask questions later." He settled back.

"If you ask Buffy," he said to Dawn, "she'll tell you you shouldn't have sex until you're thirty." He smiled ruefully. "I think we all want you to wait until you're thirty. We don't even want to think about you having sex," he said to Spike. It made both girls laugh.

"None of us are exactly poster children for waiting until marriage, so I'm not going to give you that lecture. But don't have sex just because you can. It's not-- You see it on TV and in the movies, and it's always perfect. In real life, it's not. Sometimes it's good, but sometimes it's awful, and first times are notoriously bad."

"Was yours?" Spike, of course, was no less capable of asking tough and embarrassing questions as a human woman than he had been as a male vampire.

Xander shrugged. "It was kind of a blur," he admitted.

"Who was it?"

Xander looked from Spike to Dawn and back again. "Faith."

Dawn gaped at him. "Faith? Crazy slayer Faith?"

He nodded. "Yeah. That's the other thing about it. Everything's more complicated on the Hellmouth."

"Even sex," Spike filled in.

"Especially sex," Xander corrected. "If you find out your significant other is a demon or a vampire or something else that might kill you, come tell one of us." He glanced at Spike. "We also have experience with the bad things that happen when we don't tell each other about things like that, so don't keep it a secret."

Dawn raised her hand to interrupt his lecture. "But what about the non-Hellmouthy stuff?" She blushed. "Like how do you know you're ready for sex?"

"Um, well. You just know, I guess. Not a great answer, I know," he said, forestalling the objections he could see forming on both their faces. "But no one else can tell you when you're ready."

"That mean we're not s'posed to listen when some bloke says, 'If you loved me, you'd do it'?"

Dawn and Xander both turned to stare at Spike.

"What?" he said. "I watch daytime TV."

"Yeah," Xander said, "and that doesn't make it any less disturbing. I don't think anyone actually says that, but if they do, don't listen to them. If they really love you, they'll wait until you're ready." He made a face. "I don't think I could be any cheesier if I actually were on daytime TV."

"At least you said it with a straight face," Dawn said.

"Able to jump cliches in a single conversation, that's me." Xander smiled weakly at her. "Any more questions of an emotional nature I can answer with cliches? Or even, possibly, real answers?"

"Don't do emotional questions," Spike said, twisting his fingers in the way that Xander was learning meant he wanted a cigarette.

Dawn just shrugged.

"Okay, moving right along." Xander pulled a stack of brochures out of the bag and dealt them out on the table. "STDs, birth control, Planned Parenthood services, rape crisis hotline," he explained as the stacks grew taller.

He reached into the bag again. He tossed one box of condoms to Spike, who caught them, and another to Dawn, who fumbled the pass.

"The condom," he explained, "is the basic unit of safe sex. When used properly, condoms are about eighty-six to ninety-eight percent effective in preventing pregnancy. They're also the best thing to keep you from getting an STD. They're not perfect, but if you're having sex with a man, use one." He pointed at the boxes. "Those are yours to keep. If you don't use them by the expiration date, throw them out. They're no good after that."

He paused to pull a small bunch of bananas out of his paper bag.

"You got a kitchen sink in there too?" Spike asked.

Xander grinned at him. "Kitchen sinks don't have much to do with safe sex." He pulled the bananas apart and handed one to each of them. "Don't eat that." He reached into the bag for a handful of loose condoms. "This is the practical portion of the lesson." He picked up one of the condoms from the table. "If you don't put it on properly, it won't be as effective."

He tore the condom wrapper, pinched the tip, and slid it down his banana.

"Your turn," he said, pushing a condom at each of them.

Spike got it on the first try--"Seen a lot of porn, haven't I?"--but he had to make adjustments to Dawn's technique. And the less said about that the better. This was embarrassing enough as it was.

"If you want to," he said, "you can learn--" He had to stop and catch his breath. Spike's condom-filled mouth was almost all the way down over his banana. "To do that," he choked out.

Spike backed off of the banana, leaving the condom in place. "Lot of porn," he explained.

Xander forced down his reaction and swept the remaining condoms back into the bag.

"If--" He had to clear his throat and start over, pointedly ignoring Spike's smirk. "If you do decide to have sex with a man, you'll probably also want to go on the Pill, especially if you're in a monogamous relationship. If you're on the Pill, and you know you're both clean, you can do away with the condoms."

He reached across the table and took Dawn's hands in his. "If you decide you want to go on the Pill and you don't want to talk to Buffy about it, come to me. I'll take you to Planned Parenthood."

"What?" Spike protested. "I don't get the special treatment?"

Xander let go of Dawn's hands and sat back. "If your cramps are that bad next month," he said to Spike, "you're going on the Pill whether you like it or not."

Spike screwed up his face in what was really a very cute expression of confusion. "What's that got to do with contraception?"

"The Pill," Xander explained, "works on your hormones. It can help with cramps." If he ever got tired of construction, maybe he could get a job at good old Sunnydale High. He had to be better at this than Mrs. Wilson.

Spike's eyes burned with the fire of unholy excitement. "Take me to get some of that now."

"Willow thinks they might have been bad only because it was your first time. We don't know if drugs will affect you differently, so we don't want you taking any unless you have to." He reached out and patted Spike's hand. "If they're bad again, we'll get you drugs, I promise."

He looked down at the table and then forced himself to look up. "Pregnancy is about the only thing we've never had to deal with. If you do get pregnant, we'll help you." He nodded at Spike. "This goes for both of you. If you get pregnant, we'll help you no matter what you want to do."

"You condoning abortion?" Spike asked. "Wouldn't think it of you, what with the saving of lives and all."

"If you get pregnant," Xander said, to them both, "and you want an abortion, I'll drive you to the clinic and hold your hand."

Dawn reached across the table and hugged him. "You're a good brother, Xander."

Xander hugged her back. "I'm about to be a better brother." He reached into his bag for the last thing. "This," he said, holding up the box, "is a too little known secret of safe sex."

"Saran wrap?" Dawn asked. "How does that help?"

Xander took a deep breath. "The basic idea of safe sex," he said, "is to keep from exchanging fluids. If you're--" He stopped to think about how he could express this, and decided to be direct about it. "Oral sex," he said. "Condoms for a guy, saran wrap for a girl."

Spike cocked his head. "That right?"

Xander tore off a length of saran wrap and tore it in half. "Put that over your hand," he instructed, "and, um, lick."

They looked at him like maybe he was going crazy, but they did as he said.

Dawn made a face. "That's weird."

Spike raised an eyebrow and licked a broad stripe across his palm. And then he did it again. "Nice," he decided.

Xander reminded himself that this was Spike. Evil. Planned to kill him a couple of times. Newly female and shouldn't be taken advantage of.

"That's about it," he said when he could breathe again. "Don't get sick, don't get pregnant, and check Brown's Demon Compendium if you have doubts about your date's humanity."

"Can we can still ask you questions?" Dawn asked.

Xander gave her a soft smile. "Of course you can, Dawn. Any time you need to." He extended his smile to include Spike. "You too, Fangless."

"Thanks," Spike said dryly, but Xander could tell he actually meant it.

"One more thing," he said to Dawn. "It might be best if you don't tell Buffy I gave you condoms. I'd like to live to see my next birthday."


~*~*~*~*~


Day 32

Xander kept one eye on the game while he went to answer the door.

"Had a fight with the Slayer," Spike said sullenly, and were those tears in his eyes? "Can I stay here?"

"Yeah, of course." He was always a sucker for a damsel in distress, even this one. He closed the door behind Spike and followed him to the couch. They watched their way through a second down. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No, I don't bloody well want to talk about it," Spike snarled at him.

Xander let it go. "You want pizza for dinner?"

"Pepperoni," Spike said, and that's what Xander wanted too, so that worked out well.

Spike barely spoke to him--"Give me another slice." "Got any soda?" "I'm not sleeping on your couch."--while they finished off the pizza and the Raiders lost.

It was easier to let Spike borrow a t-shirt and boxers and crawl into his bed than it was to argue with him.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 33

Xander wasn't too worried when Spike was still sleeping when he left to work; it wasn't even five-thirty and the only people awake at that hour were people who had to be at work.

He was more worried when he got home at three and Spike was still in bed. He knelt down on his bedroom floor and looked into Spike's drawn face.

"Spike? Are you okay?"

Spike opened his eyes and glared at Xander. "My cramps aren't any better this month. You promised me drugs."

Xander's hand stroked through Spike's hair without his brain telling it to. "I did." He went back out into the living room and looked up the number of Willow's gynecologist. That was another conversation he preferred not to think about. The woman was able to squeeze Spike in before closing.

Xander went back to the bedroom to gather up clean clothes. "You have an appointment in half an hour," he told Spike. "I'm going to take a shower first." His hand did the thing where it stroked Spike's hair again. "Get dressed."

He waited in the aptly named waiting room while the doctor examined Spike, but he went in afterwards to hold Spike's hand, literally and figuratively, while the doctor explained his options and wrote him a pair of prescriptions.

"Do you want me to drop you off at Buffy's while I have these filled?" Xander asked on the way out to the car.

"Not goin' back there," Spike said, and Xander pointed the car towards the nearest drugstore.

Spike fidgeted endlessly while they waited in two of the drugstore's three chairs. Xander sat back and watched him. He liked Spike as a girl. Spike as a girl was pretty, and Spike as a short-haired girl in combat boots was hot. He'd always liked strong women. And, yeah, Anya was right. He liked to take care of people. Some part of him he didn't usually acknowledge regretted that he never made a full-time job out of taking care of Willow.

"Let's find you some water," he said after he paid for Spike's drugs. Spike swallowed down a painkiller before he even finished the sentence. "Or you can take it dry."

"Let's go," Spike growled.

Xander obligingly took Spike home. He filled a glass with water and made Spike drink it and follow it up with an apple. He left Spike curled up on the couch and went to the bathroom to run a bath.

"Come on," he said, hauling Spike up by one arm. "There's hot water. It'll make you feel better until the painkillers kick in." He pushed Spike into the bathroom and tried not to listen to the moan that accompanied Spike's descent into the water.

He had dinner ready when Spike came back out, dressed in his clothes again. Xander made a mental note to stop by Buffy's and pick up Spike's own clothes. This was driving him crazy.

"Feeling better?" he asked.

Spike shrugged. "Little." He dug into his share of dinner and didn't seem inclined to talk.

There wasn't anything good on TV, but they watched anyway, Xander sprawled over one end of the couch and Spike curled up at the other. He turned it off when he realized Spike was almost asleep.

He steered Spike into the bedroom and tucked him in. His hands pushed Spike's hair back from his forehead before he could stop them. He backed away and went to brush his teeth.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 34

Spike was awake and blinking sleepily up at him when he got out of the shower in the morning.

Xander crouched down to put himself at the same level as Spike. "Hey."

"Hey." Spike's voice was still rough and sexy with sleep.

"How are you feeling?"

Spike half shrugged. "Okay."

Xander couldn't keep himself from stroking Spike's shoulder. "The painkillers are in the medicine cabinet, and there's cereal when you're ready for breakfast." He shook Spike lightly. "Don't spend the whole day in bed." He stood up before he could let himself touch Spike anymore.

"I won't."

Xander's efforts didn't work, and he had to touch Spike's cheek before he could leave.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 56

Spike went back to Buffy's with surprisingly little grumbling. For a while, things got back to what passed for normal in Sunnydale.

Xander was late to the Scooby meeting where the balance was upset again.

"What's going on?" he asked Dawn with a nod toward the center of the shop.

Dawn leaned up against him. "Angel wants to take Spike with him."

"Xander!" Cordelia slowed down for the last two steps that brought her up to Xander. "Hi."

"Hi, Cordelia." Xander met her with a hug.

"They've already decided to ignore Spike," she said, gesturing to where Wesley and Giles were nervously watching Angel and Buffy argue. Spike was sulking around the edges of the room.

"What're the odds?" Xander asked.

"Buffy's got the advantage," Willow said.

"Wesley's not the wimp he used to be," Cordelia added.

The four of them surveyed the scene.

"Could you do something with Spike?" Dawn asked.

Xander nodded. "I'll try." He caught up with Spike in the middle of the room.

"What do you want?" Spike snarled at him.

"Want to spar a little?"

Spike's eyes gleamed. "Yeah."

Xander was made to understand, on a regular basis, the wisdom of learning to fall. He'd also long since gotten over the indignities of being beaten by a girl. He was reminded of this every time he sparred with Spike.

The fourth time Spike took him down, he didn't rush to push Spike off of him. "Feeling better?"

Spike sat back on Xander's thighs and considered. He'd lost some of the hysteria. "I'm not going with him."

"No," Xander said.

"Slayer agrees with him, can I stay with you?"

Xander put his hand on Spike's hip. "Yeah."

Spike nodded and then pushed himself up. "Get up, Harris."

Xander groaned loudly. It wasn't that much of an exaggeration. "Swords?" he offered. It might take Spike a little longer to take him down that way.

Spike bared his teeth in a fierce grin that looked surprisingly natural. "Yeah," he breathed. He grabbed a pair of wooden practice swords from the wall and passed one to Xander.

Spike had the advantage of having lived in a time when swords were a regular combat weapon, but Xander was stronger and more comfortable in his own skin, so they were still chasing each other around the floor when Buffy and Angel brought the argument in to them.

"You're coming with me," Angel said to Spike.

Spike wasted no time in bringing the point of his sword to Angel's chest.

Xander lowered the point of his own sword to the ground. "Hold, Spike."

Spike didn't move.

"Spike," Xander warned, "you agreed to the rules." When Spike still didn't move, he said, "If he hurts you, I'll hold him still so you can get the perfect angle. Right now, he's just being an asshole."

Spike lowered the sword and handed it over to Xander. He passed them on to Dawn to be put away.

"Not going anywhere with you," Spike sulked.

"I'm your sire," Angel said. "You're coming with me."

Spike planted his feet and crossed his arms over his chest. "You sired Dru. She sired William the Bloody. Willa Joyce's a different person." He smirked. "Got a social security number and a driver's license and everything."

"Spike," Angel said with exaggerated patience, "we can try to find a way to fix this."

Spike stepped back. "Don't know that I want it fixed." He shrugged. "Things aren't so bad. Livin' with the Slayer and the Little Bit, Harris got me some nice painkillers, Watcher's givin' me a job. Get to see the sun."

"I'm not going to lock you up in the basement." Xander could almost hear Angel's teeth grinding.

"I'm not going with you."

"You have to," Angel insisted.

"Spike doesn't belong to you," Buffy said. "You can't just order her around."

Angel growled almost too low to be heard.

Xander slipped himself between Spike and Angel. "Did anyone tell you what happened?" He smiled at Angel. "My ex-ex-demon ex-girlfriend told me that she'd make sure I had someone to take care of. The next day, Spike woke up a girl." He reached one hand back toward Spike and was pleased when Spike folded it into both of his. "I'd say that means that unless he decides otherwise, Spike belongs to me."

"Wow, Xander," Cordelia said. "I don't think you've ever said that much to Angel."

Xander flashed her a quick grin. "You can't take him against his will anyway," he said to Angel. "I'm sure the LAPD would be very interested to hear about you kidnapping an innocent woman."

"See?" Spike said. "Not goin' anywhere with you." Xander could almost see his smirk.

"Spike," Angel said, but it was clearly a last ditch effort. He looked over Xander's shoulder at Spike and finally shook his head. "Fine," he said. He stepped around Xander to look directly down at Spike. "If you change your mind, you can always come to me."

Spike nodded. "Get out of here, you great poof," he said. Angel scowled even as, or maybe because, Spike stepped in closer to Xander.

Spike refused to let go until sometime after Xander gave Cordy a one-armed hug goodbye.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 76

"Why are we watching this anyway?" Xander asked.

"'S a horror movie," Spike pointed out. "Got lots of mayhem and death."

"Spike," Xander said patiently, "it's a bad horror movie. We killed things scarier than that last night."

Spike reached for the popcorn. "A tradition, though, innit?"

Xander took the bowl back from Spike. "What's that? Stealing my food? Low-level torture?"

Spike swiped the popcorn again. "No, you idiot. Date night. Popcorn and horror movies."

Xander stilled in the process of taking the bowl back. "So this is a date?"

Spike looked sideways at him. "Yeah," he said. "Thought you knew that."

Xander relaxed back against the couch. "Okay," he said, "and a horror movie is your idea of a good date?"

"Mayhem and death," Spike explained. "Get to snuggle during the scary parts."

"For that to work, this would need to have actual scary parts."

Spike watched the movie meditatively. "Could always pretend."

Xander scooted over and put his arm around Spike. "Sure," he said, and Spike relaxed against him. "This is a terrible movie," he said after another ten minutes of horror that wasn't.

Spike twisted against him. "There's 'nother acceptable horror movie tradition," he said. "Could just snog." He tipped his face up to Xander.

Xander put one hand on Spike's face, palm over Spike's cheek, thumb brushing over Spike's lips. It wasn't like he hadn't been wanting this. "Yeah," and the word was barely out before he was kissing Spike.

It was awkward at first, as Xander learned what Spike felt like, but after that kissing Spike was fantastic. Spike fit comfortably against him, one leg thrown over Xander's and breasts pressed against Xander's chest.

Spike shoved Xander down onto his back, and he'd always liked strong women. Xander held Spike to him, one hand in his hair, one on his back, and worked one leg between Spike's. He let the hand on Spike's back slowly slide lower. Spike was predictably shameless and he pushed hard against Xander.

A scream made them jerk apart, startled and wary. Xander figured it out first and laughed.

"The movie," he said. Spike stared at him, wide-eyed and panting, for a long moment before he turned to look at the girl dying a gruesome death on the screen.

"Not very realistic."

Xander leaned up and brushed his lips along the line of Spike's jaw. "If working for Giles doesn't work out, maybe you can get a job consulting for horror movies."

Spike shivered under Xander's touch. "Couldn't afford me." He reached out and groped for the remote. "Damned thing," he muttered, fumbling for the right buttons.

Xander took it from him. "It's the big round one." He clicked the TV off and dropped the remote onto the floor. He tried to pull Spike back down onto him, but Spike pulled away and stood up.

"Wha--" And then he forgot how to breathe because Spike's shirt was halfway over his head and Spike wasn't wearing a bra. Spike. Was not. Wearing. A bra.

Spike dropped the shirt onto the floor. "Come on," he said, with a little jerk of his head towards Xander's bedroom.

Xander nearly fell over himself getting up from the couch. He cupped one hand around the back of Spike's head and kissed him. His other hand worked its way over Spike's stomach and up to cup one breast.

They stumbled their way into the bedroom. Xander stepped back to pull his shirt off and was greeted, upon his emergence, with the vision of a now naked Spike reclining on his bed.

He knelt on the bed and slid his hands all the way up Spike's legs, ankles to thighs. "There's--" He jerked his chin toward the nightstand. "In the drawer."

Spike propped himself up on his elbows. "Haven't done this with anyone since the demon bint changed me. Not like I could get sick when I was vampire. You know I'm on the Pill."

Xander bent down and kissed the inside of Spike's thigh. "I'm clean." He waited until Spike relaxed down onto the bed to apply his mouth to Spike's cunt.

"Wait, wait," Spike said after Xander had been tonguing him for a while.

Xander dragged the flat of his tongue over Spike's clit. "What?"

Spike's breath hitched. "Want you in me."

"And this is where being a girl has its benefits. You get both, no waiting." He didn't give Spike a chance to answer but ducked down to lick and suckle at Spike's cunt until he was arching off the bed.

He pulled himself up the bed and let the curves of Spike's body cradle him. He took advantage of Spike's gasping and kissed him before he could say anything.

"You're still wearing trousers," Spike said when Xander let him breathe again.

"Yeah." Xander slid one clothed leg against Spike's naked skin. He pulled away from Spike, climbed off the bed, and pushed his pants off to join his shirt on the floor. He let his boxers fall too and went back, naked, to the cradle of Spike's body.

"This might hurt," he warned.

"Might not. I, um--" Spike, amazingly, blushed.

"Indulged in a little self-lovin'?" Xander suggested.

"Yeah."

"I can't believe you're blushing." Xander put his hands on Spike's cheeks to feel the heat of his blush. "I like it. It makes you look human. Cute." He had a right to say things like that now. He could see Spike gathering up a protest, so he nudged Spike's thighs just a little farther apart and pushed slowly into him.

"You okay?" he asked when his cock was fully sheathed in the warmth of Spike's cunt.

Spike opened his eyes. "Yeah. 'S different, is all." He hitched one shoulder in a half shrug. "Been a long time since I was with a man."

"I've got to tell you," Xander said, "this is not the context I want to talk about Angel in." He thrust gently into Spike to make his point.

Spike curved his hands around the back of Xander's head. "You're already better 'n he ever was." He pulled Xander down to kiss him.

Xander had to close his eyes to keep from coming right then. "You're incredible."

"Yeah." Spike's voice was strained and gasping. "Just do it." He leaned up and rained kisses all over Xander's face. "Come on. Fuck me."

Those words on Spike's lips were almost too much for Xander, and he did just what Spike said. On a hunch, he bent his head down and sucked at Spike's neck.

Spike stopped speaking, almost stopped breathing, but his cunt clenched around Xander. His next breath in came out as a low moan.

Xander paused for breath and then renewed his efforts to leave a mark on Spike's neck. And, okay, so it wasn't that politically correct, but he was fucking Spike, and Anya had left Spike to him, and that meant it was his right to leave his mark on Spike. It's not like Spike minded. In fact, Spike was enjoying it quite a lot if his moans and gasps were anything to go by.

He stopped thinking and let his rhythm just carry him along to a truly satisfying orgasm. He paused to catch his breath and then reached down between them to bring Spike off with a few circles of his thumb over Spike's clit.

Xander pulled himself slowly out of Spike and moved to the side to let Spike catch his breath. "Hey," he said when he realized Spike's breaths were on the verge of becoming sobs, "Spike, you okay?"

"Yeah." Spike made a visible effort to calm his breath. "Yeah, I'm okay. Just been a while since anyone fucked me."

Xander propped himself up on one elbow and caressed Spike's cheek. "Angel, right."

Spike leaned over to kiss him, and his breath was evening out now. "You're a million times better than he was."

"I'll take that any day." Xander returned Spike's kiss. "You staying?"

"Yeah. That all right?"

"Yeah." Xander dropped a kiss onto Spike's cheek and got up to turn off the light.

This time, sharing a bed with Spike meant he got to pull Spike's body, naked and curvy, against his. He'd always liked to cuddle, and Spike's hands came to rest over his.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 77

Xander silenced the alarm just as it went off, but Spike's eyes were open when he got out of the shower.

"Hey." Xander brushed a hand through Spike's hair.

"Hey." Spike pulled Xander down and kissed him. "Gonna come back to bed?"

"I have to go to work." But Xander kissed him again.

"Could call in sick. Could fuck me again," as if the temptation of his sleepywarm body wasn't enough.

Xander groaned into a third kiss. "I will. Later," he promised. He kissed Spike again. "Have a good day." He escaped before Spike could lure him back into bed, but it took the better part of his drive to the site to force his erection down. Even then he spent the whole day thinking about Spike and only narrowly avoided nailing his arm to the building they were putting up.

He was disappointed to come home to an empty apartment, even though he knew Spike had to work, but there was a guy selling flowers on the street between Xander's apartment and the Magic Box. Xander dithered for a while and then bought what he wanted to buy without worrying about what message it might send.

Spike was helping customers, so Xander just stepped in at the end of the line and waited until it brought him up to Spike.

"Hi." He handed the flower, a single red rose, across the counter.

He'd managed to surprise Spike. "You bought me flowers?"

"Just the one, actually."

Spike hitched himself halfway over the counter, jerked Xander toward him, and kissed him hard. Xander made a mental note to bring Spike flowers again. Spike let go of him to ring up Mrs. Burnam, who was watching them the way middle-aged suburban housewives always looked at affectionate young couples. Xander gave her his second most charming smile and Spike his first.

He went into the back to find some kind of water holding container to put the rose in and came back just as Buffy and Dawn came in, arguing over Dawn's homework.

"Wow, Spike," Dawn said, interrupting her own protests, "that's some hickey."

And of course Spike was wearing one of those tank tops with skinny little straps so there was nothing even close to covering up the mark on his neck. Xander's mark, which Spike was stroking with a faraway smile on his face.

"Yeah." The smile turned into a self-satisfied smirk. "Demon bint was right about the boy."

It took Dawn a few seconds to decode the Spike speak. "Xander gave you the hickey?"

"Boy's a real Viking in the sack."

"And we continue the tradition of my friends knowing way too much about my sex life." Xander reached around Spike to put the rose, now in a tall glass vase, next to the register.

Buffy started paying more attention to them. "You're sleeping with Xander?"

"Who's sleeping with Xander?" Willow asked as she came through the door.

Spike raised his hand. "That'd be me."

Willow's eyes got big. "Oh! Since when?" She frowned before anyone could answer. "Who do I give the shovel talk to?"

"Yesterday, and consider it given," Xander said. He put his hands on Spike's shoulders. "But I don't know if Spike's had the pleasure."

"Oh, I've had my pleasure," Spike purred, and his hand was reaching back to caress parts of Xander that really shouldn't be caressed in any place more public than the back row of a darkened movie theater.

Buffy stared at them. "This is going to be strange and disturbing, isn't it?"

"Probably," Xander admitted.

"Right." Buffy clapped her hands together. "Dawn, you have homework to do."

They wandered back to the table, arguing about homework again. Willow stayed and frowned at Spike and Xander.

"Remind me to give you the shovel talk," she said to Spike. "Did Jensen's Herbal come in today?"

Spike shrugged. "Might've done. Haven't opened the boxes yet."

"Do you mind if I look?"

"Could put things on the shelves too, you feel like it." Spike handed a pair of scissors across the counter.

Willow laughed at him. "That's your job."

Xander pressed his lips against Spike's hickey. "Come on, Fangless. I'll help."

Xander ended up shelving more merchandise than anyone else. Willow stopped when she got to her book, and Spike got to leave them to help customers.

Giles brought pizza for dinner, and Spike took every opportunity to flirt at Xander from across the table.

"Strange and disturbing," Buffy said pointedly.

Riley showed up and took Buffy out on a patrol date. Willow and Tara consulted each other over Willow's new book. Giles stayed at the table to suggest additional resources and oversee Dawn's homework.

Xander finished shelving the last box of books while Spike helped a couple of after-dinner customers.

"Come on," he said, when things seemed to have slowed down, "let's log some practice time."

He liked to spar with Spike, and doing it with his expanded knowledge of Spike's body only made it better. He thought he stayed on his feet a few seconds longer than he had been able to before, which was definitely of the good. Taking Spike down in a few short minutes was a satisfying boost to his ego, but a bit worrying considering that usually it took a long time and the correct alignment of the stars.

"You okay?" he asked, reflexively running his hands down Spike's arms to check for damage.

"Yeah. Just got a little distracted is all." Spike's hands worked their way under Xander's shirt and up his chest in a way that had him instantly hard against Spike's thigh. "Yeah," Spike said, and rubbed up against him.

Xander let Spike draw him down into a deep kiss before he pulled back. "Wait."

Spike transferred his attention to Xander's neck. "You said later. It's later."

"I remember that." Xander caught Spike's hands just as they went for the button on his pants. "I also remember that the rules we both agreed to say no sex in the training room."

Spike nipped at Xander's earlobe. "That was to keep the Bit from walkin' in on Big Sis and Iowa."

Xander persisted in his attempts to be the sensible one. "I'd rather she not walk in on us either."

"Mmm." Spike dragged wet kisses over Xander's collarbone. "Might further her education."

"I'm not interested in furthering her education." Xander ran a slow hand down Spike's side, breast to hip to thigh. "I'm interested in doing this right."

Spike stared up at him for a moment. "How about you take me home and show me," he said in a breathless, raspy voice that almost had Xander abandoning his better judgment.

He stood up instead, and held out a hand to help Spike up. "Yeah, come on."

He kept Spike's hand in his as they said their goodbyes, and let Spike handle most of the talking. That was a good indication of how far gone he was; had he thought it through, he would have realized that Spike would make sure that everyone knew exactly why they were leaving. Xander rolled his eyes and protested in all the right places and let Spike tease him about it all the way home.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 115

Spike's things slowly made their way into Xander's apartment. Xander gave him a key early on and was rewarded with a blow job.

Willow invited Xander to the Espresso Pump for mochas and waited until they were seated to say, "Buffy said Spike's moving in with you."

"Maybe," Xander stirred an extra packet of sugar into his mocha. "He's brought a lot of his stuff over."

"But you haven't had the whole moving in conversation?"

"No." Xander sipped at his chocolatey coffee goodness. "I don't know if he isn't ready or if he thinks I don't want him there."

Willow looked up at him from where she was blowing on her coffee. "Do you want him there?"

"Yeah, I do." Xander looked down into his coffee and only looked up when Willow put her hand over his.

"If he hurts you, I'll beat him to death with a shovel."

Xander turned his hand up and squeezed Willow's fingers. "Thanks, Wills, but I like him breathing. Even if he hurts me."

"In that case, I'll just maim him a little."

Xander gave her a little grin. "Leave me the face."

"Xander!"

He laughed. "I like the face."

"You've become accustomed to it," Willow said with a sly smile. They'd watched that one on cable late on Thursday night during one of their many shared summer vacation evenings of doing nothing.

"Exactly."


~*~*~*~*~


Day 138

Xander came home and followed the small sounds to their bedroom. Spike's day off, so he was already there, naked on the bed, hands between his legs.

"Xander," Spike moaned. "Yeah, Xander, yeah."

It was a little too practiced to be absolutely real. Xander folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the door frame to watch.

Spike eventually cracked one eyelid and looked at him. "Are you just going to stand there?"

Xander smiled at him. "I was enjoying the show."

Spike opened the other eye. "We encourage audience participation," he said, and he dragged one hand up his cunt.

Xander shrugged self-consciously. "I just came from work. I'm all sweaty and gross."

"I don't care." Spike spread his legs a little farther apart. "Come and fuck me."

Spike had definitely seen a lot of porn. "I think you've got that backwards." He pulled his t-shirt over his head. "Fuck first, come second." He stripped off his pants and toed off his shoes.

Spike was almost unbearably tempting, but Xander stayed where he was, leaning back against the doorjamb. He wrapped one hand around his cock and drew it slowly from base to tip.

"Thought you were gonna fuck me," Spike said breathlessly.

"Was that the plan?" The banter was getting harder to keep up.

"Yeah," Spike breathed. "That was the plan." He lifted one hand from his cunt and beckoned Xander toward him.

Xander finally made his way across the room and into Spike. "Better?"

Spike tilted his hips to better accommodate Xander's body. "Yeah." He looped his arms around Xander's shoulders. "I like your cock." He brought Xander down for a kiss. "Like your cock in me."

"My cock likes being in you." Xander chose a rhythm that was hard and fast. Not that he didn't like fucking Spike, but the afternoon quickie was a dating tradition they hadn't taken advantage of yet.

"Yeah, Xander, yeah," Spike said, and this time it was real. Xander could only imagine what the neighbors thought. On second thought, he couldn't really imagine much, what with his whole attention focused on the warmth of Spike's cunt around his cock.

Now that he was in Spike, he couldn't wait. Even though he knew he was supposed to, that it was the polite thing to do, he couldn't. Fucking Spike in their bed in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday was too much for that. He let himself come, and how hot was it that they didn't have to use a condom? Really hot, and Spike must have thought so too, because it didn't take much of a touch on his clit to make him come.

Xander flopped down onto the bed next to Spike. "God, that was good."

"Yeah." Spike's fingers twitched against Xander's side. "Wish I could have a smoke."

Xander flung one arm out to let his hand rest on some part of Spike's skin. "Gotta keep those lungs clear."

"Yeah, too bad." Spike moved Xander's hand until it was cupping his breast.

Xander obligingly squeezed down on the soft flesh. "Good," he said. "Keeps you breathing." He let out a deep sigh and stroked Spike's soft skin. "I don't think I can move."

Spike put his hand over Xander's. "S'posed to meet the girls at six."

Xander twisted his head to look at the clock. They had time. "Nap, then shower."

"Right."

Xander didn't sleep. Instead, he spent the time just looking at Spike, touching him, enjoying the way his body curved, the way he looked resting on the sheets Xander had picked out. He'd had other beautiful women in his bed, but that didn't mean that he didn't sometimes get caught up in the awe that Spike was there. Spike who turned him on so much. Spike who was his to touch. Spike who had seen a lot of porn. Spike who asked tough questions. Spike who sometimes looked at Xander like maybe it was love.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 160

Xander didn't worry so much the first night. Spike sometimes stayed over with Buffy and Dawn, and it only took a short phone call to track him down. He didn't worry on the second day, either, when he came into the Magic Box and Spike accepted a peck on the cheek but otherwise shied away from his touch. Spike needed his space sometimes.

But on the fourth day, when Spike clearly wasn't speaking to him and carefully avoided his touch. Well, that just wasn't normal.

"Hey, come on," he said, taking his attempts to reach Spike into the Magic Box. At least this way Spike couldn't walk away from him without getting on Giles' bad side. "Spike." He caught Spike's arm as he was rearranging a display.

Spike jerked away from him and headed back across the store.

"Talk to me." Xander followed Spike. "Come on, Spike. At least tell me what I did wrong."

Spike slammed down a stack of books and turned around. "I don't want to talk to you," he said, carefully enunciating every word.

"Spike, please," Xander said, and he was almost begging. No, to be honest, he was begging. "Just tell me what I did wrong and I'll fix it." It was only the fear that it would push Spike farther away that kept him from reaching out and holding onto Spike as hard as he could. "Please."

He must have finally sounded desperate enough.

"Watcher," Spike said, "goin' on a break. Mind the till."

"Yes, of course," Giles said, and Spike was free to stalk back into the training room.

Xander followed him back and closed the door softly. Spike was all the way across the room, arms folded tightly over his chest.

Xander took one step into the room and stopped, watching Spike's tension-filled shoulders hunch a little more.

"What'd I do?" he asked. "I mean, I don't remember doing anything, but that doesn't mean I didn't. Should I have brought flowers? Cordelia and Anya always wanted flowers."

"It's not you." Spike sounded like he was swallowing glass, and Xander really looked at him.

"What is it?" he asked, forcing himself not to betray his panic.

Spike tucked his chin down against his chest. "I'm pregnant."

Xander stopped breathing for a moment, and then he took an abortive step toward Spike. "Pregnant?"

"'S not my fault. Been takin' the pills."

"Spike," Xander said, and now he really couldn't stop himself from going across the room and touching Spike.

Spike allowed himself to be held, and even clung to Xander for a moment, before he stepped back and looked up at Xander.

"What are you going to do?" Xander asked.

Spike took another step back. "Guess you hold my hand at the clinic."

"I promised you I would."

Spike crossed his arms and hunched his shoulders. "Right," he growled. "I get an abortion and we forget all about it."

"If that's what you want." Xander put a hand on Spike's shoulder. "If you want to have it, I'll be there for that too."

Spike shook his head. "I can't afford to have a child."

"I can." Xander slid his hand around the back of Spike's neck. "I'm management now. I even have health insurance."

Spike let his forehead rest against Xander's. "I'm not anyone's idea of a good mother."

Xander cupped his hands around Spike's face. "You're mine. I want this," he said in a sudden rush of uncontainable honesty. "I want you to be the mother of my children. I want to take care of you and the baby. I want to be a father." He brushed his lips against Spike's. "But I want you to be happy more. If you want an abortion, I'll go with you and hold your hand.

"I love you," he said against Spike's lips.

Spike jerked away from him. "What? Because I'm pregnant with your child you think you love me?"

"No," Xander said. "I loved you before I knew you were pregnant."

"I killed people," Spike said. "With my bare hands and my teeth."

Xander nodded. "I know. You worked with Adam. You tried to kill us. You even kidnapped me once." He waited for a moment and then said, "You're not my first ex-demon girlfriend, you know."

Spike sneered at him. "I'm just a substitute for the girl, then?"

"No," Xander said, resisting the urge to reach out to Spike again. "I loved Anya, but she's gone. She's not coming back. I love you because you're you." He took a couple of steps toward Spike. "You love being human. You throw popcorn at crappy movies. You laugh at eighties sitcom reruns. You love hot chocolate with the little marshmallows. You swear when you cut yourself on something in the shop, even if it's not magical and dangerous. You come so hard when I go down on you. I love all of it."

Spike pressed himself all along Xander's body and kissed him deeply. Xander closed his eyes and let Spike control it. Deep and soft, and it felt like Spike loved him too.

But then Spike twisted away from him and drew in a sobbing breath. "I can't decide now."

Xander waited to follow Spike back out into the shop until he felt like he could look at Spike without needing to hold on to him and never let go.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 165

Ignoring the blinking light on the answering machine was a bad habit, but he figured that anyone who wanted to talk to him could wait until he'd had a shower.

There were only two messages, and he hit play while he was still shaking water out of his hair.

"Hi, Xander," Buffy's voice said to him out of the speaker. "Spike's having a really bad day. I don't know what's going on with you two, but if you can make her feel better, I know we'd all be happier."

Like he didn't already feel bad enough.

"Xander, Spike's been crying all day." Dawn, trying not to sound scared. "She won't even talk to me. You have to do something."

Xander hit the erase button and headed over to the girls' house. Dawn answered the door looking as if she might start crying too.

"Hey, Dawnster." Xander gave her a hug.

"Hi, Xander." Dawn was just a little too cool to actually cling to him. "Spike's upstairs."

"Thanks." Xander ruffled her hair a little, which she was also too cool for, and went up the stairs to the guest room. Spike was, as the messages had said, crying. Xander sat down on the bed next to him and rubbed Spike's back until he sat up and burrowed into Xander's arms.

"I couldn't do it." Xander's shirt muffled Spike's voice. "I couldn't even make the phone call." He took a deep, sobbing breath. "Couldn't even-- How can I bring a baby into this? I'm not a mother. All those vamps and demons out there. Some of 'em still have a grudge against me."

Xander stroked Spike's hair and all the way down his back. "You'll be a great mother. You're so good at loving people and taking care of them. We can protect the baby until it's big enough to hold a stake." He kissed the top of Spike's head. "It'll be okay. We'll make it work."

Spike snuffled into his shirt a little more, and then looked up and said, "Really got enough money for this?"

"Yeah." Xander couldn't resist Spike's upturned face and bent to kiss him. "You can't give up working for Giles completely, but we'll be okay.

"I love you," he murmured into Spike's hair. "So much." He kissed Spike again, drinking him in. He pressed his hand against Spike's flat belly; there was something in there that was both of them.

"Will you come home with me?" he asked.

Spike nodded against his chest. "Yes."


~*~*~*~*~


Day 420

"Okay," Xander said, for what seemed like the thousandth time. "It'll be okay. Just breathe."

"It won't be okay." Spike let out a tired half-sob. "I haven't hurt this much since Dru."

"You're doing great, Willa," the nurse said while Xander wiped a wet washcloth across Spike's forehead.

"Spike, Spike, it's Spike!" Spike's insistence on his name ended in a scream. "Oh, God, this hurts."

"Isn't there something you can give hi-- her?" Xander asked the nurse.

The nurse patted his hand sympathetically. "I'll ask the doctor about it, but we've already given her a pretty high dose."

"I can't do this," Spike sobbed. "I can't."

Xander leaned in and pressed his lips against Spike's cheek. "Yes, you can. I know you can." He took Spike's hand and moved their joined hands down to Spike's stomach. "You have to. This is ours."

"But it hurts."

"I know, I know." Xander kissed Spike's cheek and forehead frantically. "If I could, I would take all your pain away."

"I don't want to be human anymore."

"Shhh," Xander said. "Shhh, Spike, don't say that."

"I can't--" Spike screamed with the next contraction.

"Yes, you can."

"Okay," Dr. Green said as she came into Spike's room, "let's see how you're doing." She lifted up the drape.

Xander squeezed Spike's hand. "You can do this."

"We're getting close," Dr. Green said. "Spike, on your next contraction, I want you to push."

After an eternity of the doctor encouraging him to push, Spike pushing and yelling, and Xander doing his level best not to yell himself, one of Spike's yells was echoed by a baby's cry.

"You did it," Xander said. "You did it. I'm so proud." He bent down and kissed Spike, everywhere he could reach. "I love you so much." Spike kissed him back while Dr. Green and the nurse did whatever it was they did to clean and weigh and measure the baby.

When she was done, Dr. Green put their daughter into Spike's arms.

"Oh," Spike barely breathed. "Oh, she's so tiny. Look at her."

"She's beautiful." Xander brushed the back of one finger over the baby's forehead. "We made that."

"Yeah," Spike said. "Yeah." He cupped his hand around the back of her tiny head. "We made you," he said to the baby. "You're ours. Really ours." He shifted her around so she could close her tiny lips over his nipple. "Look at that," he marveled. "You know exactly what to do, don't you, missy?"

He looked at Xander. Xander looked back.

"We can't put 'Missy' on her birth certificate," Xander said reasonably.

"Melissa?" Spike asked. "That'd give her a real name if she wants to use it later, and we can still call her Missy."

"Melissa," Xander said, trying it out. "Hi, there, Melissa."

The smile Spike turned up at him made Xander catch his breath and lean down for the softest touch of his lips against Spike's.


~*~*~*~*~


Day 512

Xander draped his suit jacket over the back of a chair and loosened his tie while he made his way through the stuff that just accumulated when there was a baby around.

"Hey." He toed off his shoes just inside the door of their bedroom and padded over to the bed.

"Hey." Spike tilted his head for a kiss. "Look, sweetheart, Daddy's home."

Missy gurgled up at them from her place on Spike's chest.

"Hey there, sweetie." Xander loudly kissed Missy's cheek, and then dropped down onto the bed next to Spike. "What have you two been up to today?"

"I've been watching her all day," Spike said. He gave his hands to Missy to play with. She wrapped her tiny fingers around Spike's fingers and brought them up to her mouth.

"I never knew I could love anyone this much." He wiggled his fingers, and Missy gurgled and tried to catch them in her mouth. "I never loved Dru this much. I never loved Angelus this much." He stopped to watch Missy explore his hands. "I don't love you this much," he whispered.

Xander propped himself up to look down at Spike. "Is this the part the books talk about where I feel lonely and unloved?"

Missy started to fuss. Spike pulled his shirt up and shifted her around so she could nurse.

"Do love you," he offered, once he had Missy settled. He took Xander's hand and brought their twined fingers up to hold onto Missy.

"I know that." Xander stroked Spike's fingers and Missy's back. "I didn't really mean it."

Spike refused to look at him. "Sure?"

"I'm sure." Xander cupped Spike's cheek. "I love you. I love her." He nuzzled into Spike's neck. "I know you love me."


~*~*~*~*~


Day 824

When Xander got home and found it empty, he showered, changed into patrolling-or-hanging-out clothes, and headed out to find his family.

"Never fear, the Xan-Man is here," he announced before the bell on the Magic Box could stop ringing. "What's going on?" he asked when no one even smiled.

Willow came toward him with her hands out. "Xander."

His smile dropped away. "What is it? Is it Missy?"

"No, no." Willow took his hands in hers. "Missy is fine."

"Spike?"

Willow's face told him he'd hit on something.

"Where are they?"

"Xander," Willow said, "I think--"

"Where. Are. They?"

Willow let go of his hands. "They're in the back." She stepped aside to let him get to the training room.

Spike was standing, so it couldn't be too bad, whatever it was. Spike was also wearing Xander's clothes, which was strange since Spike pretty much only did that at home anymore. His hair was shorter.

"Spike?"

Spike turned around, and Xander's first thought was that at least he knew Spike would never try to drink from Missy. Then he realized that Spike was standing in the sunlight filtering in through the small window, so he didn't have to worry about Spike trying to drink from anyone. He pushed his mental picture of Spike on his knees in front of him to the back of his mind and focussed on the issue at hand.

"So," he said, "you're you again."

"Yeah," Spike said, "looks like." He crossed his arms over his chest. It wasn't as menacing in Xander's too-large clothes.

"Are-- Are you okay?"

Spike shrugged. It looked odd without the breasts. And the hair. He still had hair, of course, but it was different.

Xander took a few steps forward. "Can I-- Is there anything I can do?"

"S'pose not." Spike hadn't moved from his end of the room.

Xander shoved his hands in his pockets. "What--" He didn't know what he wanted to ask, so he just stopped.

Spike stepped away from the couch so Xander could see Missy, napping in her car seat. "That's what she meant," he said. "Your girl to take care of." He gestured at Missy, and suddenly Xander got it.

"You bastard." He shoved Spike back against the wall. "Is that what you think of me?" He slammed his mouth down onto Spike's. "That's not the way this works." He kissed Spike again, his hands hard against the sharp edges of Spike's cheekbones. "I love you. She's yours too. You're not leaving me to raise her myself."

"I'm going to need a new wardrobe." Spike's voice came out heavy and choked.

Xander leaned his forehead against Spike's. "So we'll get you one." His lips curved into a shaky smile. "All the other moms will be jealous."

Spike didn't return his smile. "Be hard for her, having two dads."

"We live on the Hellmouth. Having two dads is probably going to be the least of her problems." Xander cupped Spike's cheek.

"Really think this is the best idea?"

"I do. I know it is." Xander pressed his lips against Spike's. "I love you. I don't want to lose you." He gripped Spike tighter. "You can't leave Missy. Even if--" He had to stop before he lost it. "Even if," he tried again, "you leave me, you still have to be her father."

"Do love you," Spike said. He took hold of Xander's face, and this time he initiated the kiss. "Want us to be a family."

"We are." Xander kissed Spike and kept kissing him. "We are. I promise."




The End





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