Spoilers: AtS season 5
Rating: Adults only
Summary: Xander just can't seem to settle down.
Disclaimer: the characters are not mine, they belong to Joss Whedon
He and the Democratic Republic of Congo don’t work out. He tries really hard to hang in there, but after a week, he’s on the phone to Giles. “G-man,” he says, “Could I get a transfer? I’ll go to Mongolia, Burundi, anywhere but here.”
“How do you feel about Thailand?” Giles asks.
Who wouldn’t want to spend time in Thailand? What obviously foreign guy with a tell-tale eye-patch doesn’t want to be spotted trawling the streets of Bangkok, asking where he can find a couple of teenage girls? After three weeks of trawling, he finds said girls and the cops find him. They can’t seem to differentiate between slayer rounder-upper and tourist with dubious intentions.
“Do I at least get to make a phone call?” he asks the officer taking mug-shots of him back at the station.
He gets to make his one, precious phone call. “Giles, I need a transfer, like, now.”
Within two hours, he has legal representation in the form of Sean Banks. Sean’s one helluva guy, and also an excellent lawyer.
He falls in love with Kenya, but has an up and down relationship with Betsy. Betsy is the moody, beat-up Land Rover in which he roves from one remote village to the next, making contact with slayers. June and July fly by. August is hot. Kenya is an inferno in August. He and Betsy bounce along a pot-holed dirt track, driving for miles through fields of savannah grass. For hours that’s all he sees, grass shimmering pale yellow in the august heat under a deep blue Kenyan sky. The dirt track ends, the shimmering fields don’t and Betsy typically chooses now to conk out.
He knows the routine by now, knows he has to leave Betsy, unleash his machete and hack through the shoulder-high grass to reach the next middle of nowhere. It’s a minor inconvenience, just the kind of small, annoying thing to make him fall out of love in a big way.
He opens all the doors to let air into Betsy’s oven, rings Giles on the satellite phone and asks for a transfer.
Johannesburg is not the crime capital the media hypes it to be. He doesn’t get mugged, burgled, shot at or car-jacked. He gets Malaria, four times. He’s holed up in his apartment at the tail end of bout four, feeling shredded and lying on the fever-drenched coverlet. No one called and no one dropped by to make him fortifying chicken soup.
He crawls out of bed to make his own damn soup. No soup packets in his kitchen cupboard. He can’t believe he’s out of soup at a time when he needs it most. He blinks at the nearly bare cupboard trying to decide what to have instead…and feels a pin-prick on the back of his hand, a mosquito bite. From a mosquito that is no doubt carrying malaria.
That’s it. That’s the final straw right there.
He flips open his lap-top and e-mails Giles, asking for a transfer.
Very well, Giles responds, come to London. You’re due for a career evaluation meeting anyhow.
“Burn out,” Giles announces at the end of the evaluation.
Is that what they’re calling lonely these days – burn out? Being an outsider is a lonely place and he wants to tell Giles this, wants to say, I’m not built for the one-man-show gig. This isn’t something you say when your dedication to the cause is under the magnifying glass. He keeps schtum.
Giles makes notes on his file. “I’m assigning you light duties for the next six months.”
Light duties are miscellaneous. He never knows what’s going to hit his desk from one day to the next. Today, an airplane ticket and a small package hit his desk.
“It’s a negligible assignment,” Giles says. “Just deliver the package into Angel’s hands.”
Seriously? He’d opt for getting burgled, mugged, shot at and car-jacked, all in one morning. He opens his mouth to ask for a transfer, but Giles frowns at him over the top of his glasses. “Is there a problem, Xander?”
“No,” he picks up the phone and books a cab to Heathrow.
So here he is, in the swanky Wolfram and Hart building.
The phones are ringing off the hook. Harmony ignores them so she can squeal, “Xander?” from behind the reception desk.
“Harmony. Long time no see – thankfully.” He places the small package on the desk. “For Angel, see that he gets it?”
“That’s the second mysterious package this morning and Angel’s grouchy about the first one. I don’t get paid enough to have my head bitten off.” Harmony smiles sweetly and pushes the package back to him, “Down the hall, follow the grouchy voice.”
Sighing, he reclaims the package and follows the angry voice to the door with a gold-plate on it. CEO, the letters on the gold-plate say.
Angel is raising a ruckus behind the CEO door. “Shanshu is about me. I’m the champion. You’re a champion pest and I guess that’s only gonna get worse now that you’re…hey…hey! Don’t you walk away when I’m yelling at you!”
He smiles. Anyone who can get Angel yelling – and a tad whiney - is a friend of his. The door swings open and a compact body barrels into him. He would know that body anywhere. Disorientated and in the grips of the malaria fever from hell and he would still recognize that voice saying, “Look what the cat dragged in.”
He steps back and adjusts his eye-patch. Nervous habit. “Hi Spike.”
“I combust saving the world, bloody painful it was too, and that’s the best you can come up with, hi Spike?” Spike’s manic – more than usual. His grin is blinding and his eyes are bluer than an august Kenya sky.
“You’re in a good mood Spike, won the lottery?” His vocal chords are dry, strained.
“Better than that, I’m corporeal,” Spike says. “Solid, all over. Go on, have a feel,” he puffs out his chest.
He humors Spike, molding his palm to solid pec, trailing down corrugated abs and across to curl on Spike’s hip. He looks into Spike’s face and knows Spike’s thinking the same as him. It doesn’t come as a surprise.
A surprise is flying to LA on a tedious assignment and finding Spike undead and well. He is still reeling from that happy surprise. Seeing his want reflected in Spike’s eyes doesn’t surprise him. It makes him hard. It’s not the first, second or even third time he’s been hard for Spike, and it’s not the first time Spike has looked at him like he’s fixing to bend him over the nearest couch. But back in those days, well, he’d been so deep in the closet as to be in Narnia. Then along came Sean.
Man of the world now, literally. He squeezes Spike’s hip, “I fly back tomorrow.”
Spike nods and steps round him, sauntering to a closed door. “Wesley! I’m corporeal again.”
He does a double take when Wesley comes out of the office, cannot identify this buff guy as the weedy watcher. They shake hands, trade small talk. Three more people join them; a tall black guy – also buff, a slim brunette and a green demon-type in a yellow suit. Angel makes introductions: Gun with two n’s, head of legal. Fred, head of research. Lorne, public relations.
“This is Xander, who’s here to…?” Angel waits.
“To place a package in your hands,” he slips the package into Angel’s breast pocket. “From Giles without love.”
Angel folds his arms and looks around. His gaze sharpens, “Where’d Spike go?”
They all glance at each other, shrug.
“Son of a bitch,” Angel takes off at a run.
Because he knows Spike’ll eventually turn up, he sits in reception, thumbing through a magazine. The phones haven’t let up; they are messing with his tranquil vibe. He goes to the desk and asks Harm to do her job. She totally over-reacts, springing at him over the desk. The bitch-slapping days are long gone. He dents Harmony’s forehead with a marble paper weight, shoves her off him and steps over her unconscious body.
Gunn comes running round the corner. “It’s a war zone, man. Can you fight?”
Hell, yeah! “Got a spare weapon? Machete, club, armored tank?”
It’s some kind of demonic Ebola virus. People are bleeding from their eyes and trying to throttle the ones that aren’t eye-bleeding. He’s right there with Gunn, Wesley and Fred, part of the action, helping, and it feels good. Beats sweet-talking Betsy hands down. When the infected are in restraints, he and Wesley hang in Angel’s office, wondering what the hell happened to Angel and Spike.
They soon find out. The vampires drag themselves in covered in blood, cuts and bruises. Angel doesn’t look at anyone as he crosses the room and sits on the edge of his desk. Spike can’t keep the smirk off his face as he leans his shoulder on the doorjamb.
“The leads were false, Wes. We got to the cup, but Shanshu turned out to be mountain dew,” Angel says to his chest.
“We?” Spike softly snorts. “We got to the cup, Angel?”
Angel jerks his head up. His reply is explosive. Spike doesn’t miss a beat, he’s volleying cusses back at Angel, calls him a fucking sore loser, double underline the loser. The shouting match spirals, it’s intense and ugly and the chemistry between Spike and Angel is beautiful. Wesley puts a stop to it, the killjoy.
Spike shakes his head, chasing away his game face. He’s breathing hard. “Want to grab a drink?” Spike’s looking at him.
“Sure,” he shoulders his overnight bag. He’s breathing harder than Spike.
They walk past bars, go into the first pharmacy they see then into the first hotel they come across.
“I’ll get it,” he fishes out his wallet.
“I pay my own way,” Spike growls. He tosses a credit card at the receptionist. “Double room for a week. West facing windows.”
“Certainly, Mr…” the receptionist peers down at the card, “Mr Angel.”
It’s not until they’re in the elevator that he lets out his laugh. He startles himself, hasn’t laughed in months. “How is using Angel’s credit card paying your own way exactly?”
A twisted smirk is Spike’s only reply.
In their room, Spike squanders some more of Angel’s fortune, raiding the mini-bar and goading him to do the same. There’s no lead up. One minute he’s uncapping a bottle of beer, the next he’s flat on his back on the bed, Spike pressed along the length of his body, hand screwed into his hair and wet, open mouth sucking at the pulse point in his neck.
Way he sees it, sex should be fun. Sex with Spike is not fun, it’s devastating. It’s an exercise in self-destruction and Spike is the detonator. Spike works him over, takes everything he has to give and pushes for more, makes him wait, beg. Makes him come so hard he just about passes out. The afterglow is more like after-burn. Aching muscles and twinge in his ass. Sensitized skin, raw almost, chafing on the high thread-count sheets. He feels fantastic, really, no sarcasm intended.
“Isn’t the soul supposed to nix the wild animal in you?” he asks when he can speak.
Spike goes through a full body stretch. “Could ask you the same thing.”
Point taken. Spike has more bruises than when they fell on the bed, welts down his arms, and a bite mark just above his nipple. He’s freakishly pleased to see his bite mark on Spike and weirdly dissatisfied to see it fading. He wants to lean over and re-fresh the mark. He does it. Spike arches up and spreads his legs in an invitation he can’t refuse.
The rain wakes him up. Fat rain drops pitter-pattering on the window. He showers, eats, lazes around watching day-time TV. Actually, he’s watching Spike. Barefoot and swathed in a hotel bathrobe, Spike’s standing in front of the window, looking up at the overcast sky. He hasn’t touched the curl-control gel they bought yesterday and his hair is a mess of platinum curls sticking up all over his head. So, yeah, he watches Spike because it uncoils something sweet and hot in him to see Spike naked this way.
Spike bows his forehead to the window, the back of his neck a tempting arch pale and exposed. That sweet uncoiling becomes the fierce spread of whisky through his belly. He checks the time. 5:20 pm. He won’t make his flight if he doesn’t leave soon.
He grabs the lube, walks up behind Spike and lifts the back of his bathrobe. Grinds into Spike’s bare ass while licking a warm, wet stripe up the tempting arch of neck. Spike’s shiver runs through him, hums under his skin. Whatever plans he had of fucking Spike quick and dirty against the window, those plans disappear, they are gone when Spike turns and initiates the kind of kiss people write songs about.
He kissed me, and the rain stopped. He kissed me, and heaven smiled.
He kissed me, and I missed my flight to London. He figures it’s worth it just to have Spike’s legs wrapped around his waist. Sheathed slick and tight inside Spike, stroking into him slow and deep, mingling his groans with Spike’s as their tongues rub, twine, explore. And the pleasure, that pure, god I’m going to die pleasure melting his bones? So worth it.
He and Spike go to a bar. According to Spike, they are in LA’s seedy underbelly. It’s not bad, as seedy underbellies go. The beer’s ice-cold, the blood’s not human – or so Spike swears – and the band’s decent. Spike’s still psyched about being able to touch things, he does a lot of touching. They’re only small touches, a light punch on his shoulder, a thigh briefly nudging his thigh under the table. It’s the small things that give you the incentive to make an overdue phone call.
He pulls his cell phone from his pocket. “Hey Giles, something came up and I missed my flight. The thing is, I don’t think I’ll make tomorrow either…”
Giles cuts through his excuses, loudly expressing his disappointment at no longer being able to rely on him. “When will you be back?” Giles huffs.
“Never, the way he’s going on,” Spike has apparently been listening in. “Tell him to get stuffed.”
He does. Questioning his sanity, he tells Giles to get stuffed. Not in those exact words, something more along the lines of, “You said it Giles, I’m burnt out; used up, clapped. Put me out of my misery already and accept my resignation.”
He snaps the phone shut, hasn’t felt less burnt out in a long, long time. He smiles at Spike, “Same again?”
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