Pairing: Spike/Xander, mentions of Spike/Buffy and Xander/Anya
Rating/Warnings: Um, probably R, maybe NC-17 for sexual content? But really, nothing too kinky. Just boys finding their way to each other.
Words: 3,117
Disclaimer: So, the other day, I was cruising the internet and came across this story, The Light of Her Eyes, by Joss Whedon. So I start reading, and I'm like, "Gasp! Mary Sue would never make Becky Jo do that in the boys locker room! My characters don't even own a strap-on! How could he write something like that about them?" And then I figured, well, he doesn't sue me when I borrow his characters, so I guess it's okay.

Many thanks to my lovely betas! To [info]celticseductres, for her fast and encouraging response, and [info]fydyan for a wonderfully thorough critique which helped shape this final incarnation.

Going Soft


It wasn't that Spike had anything against sleeping with men. And it wasn't that he couldn't see the attraction, because he could well appreciate the aesthetics of the male form. It's just that he loved women, loved the way they were in bed, giving of themselves and accepting him in. He'd had a handful of encounters with men, strangers with hard bodies and harder eyes, and while there was something satisfying about the rough dirty desperation of those back alley encounters, they just didn't compare to the lush langour of bedding the fairer sex.

And so he hadn't done anything, even though he knew Xander was attracted to him from the very beginning. The boy had done his best to hide it, feigning annoyance when the Watcher turned the chipped vampire over, but the basement had practically burst, packed so full of hormones and clumsy innuendo. He'd walked a fine line, having to tread carefully while dissuading the young man so as not to end up getting poked with a stake instead of the springs of the recliner. After all, the lad was pretty enough, but Spike wasn't interested enough in men to want to do more than look occasionally. Gradually he managed to turn the flirting words into a different kind of teasing, and even got to liking Xander's unique verbal parrying by the time he moved out. The light of Xander's crush had never gone out, but the hope had been replaced with resignation, and Spike knew the fear of rejection would keep him from pursuing anything beyond their turbulent almost-friendship.

Later, when he realized he'd fallen hard for the one girl in all the world, and she didn't want him in return, he wondered if he deserved it. He couldn't help but compare his own hopeless infatuation with the quiet adoration in a certain pair of brown eyes. If he hadn't known better, he'd have wondered if the ex-vengeance demon wasn't back in business and meting out a little personal justice. Spike knew that much as Xander liked Anya, enjoyed her honesty and pretty face, he'd leave her if he thought he had a chance with Spike; it was there, in the way he followed him with his eyes, the way he held his breath when they touched. He ended up leaving her anyway, unable to go through with the wedding when he saw how it might end. Spike knew he hadn't left her because he hoped the vampire would return his affection - that hope had died long ago, replaced with an even stronger sense of self-deprecation, which deepened into misery after the break-up.

Spike was pretty miserable himself. When Buffy had first begun coming to him after being ripped from heaven, he could hardly contain his joy. He finally had her, the girl he'd been wanting for so long, and he had revelled in it. The sex between them was explosive, violent with unleashed passion... Buffy so desperate to feel something, anything, and himself so desperate to have her when he thought he'd never have a chance to again. At first it was enough. The longer it went on, though, the less satisfied he felt after each encounter. Buffy had never had the ripe curves of his Drusilla, but death had whittled her further, made her even harder, colder. Each tryst left him bruised, not just from her familiar fists, but where the bones of her boyish hips had battered him. He'd look up at her while she rode him with a frantic kind of anguish, her eyes squeezed shut against tears, or reality, or both. She'd once seen him as a man; now she didn't see him at all.

When it began, he'd thought she'd hidden her tenderness, her kindness and softness, fastened them behind walls to try and protect herself. As time passed, he wondered if she'd lost the qualities that had drawn him to her in the first place, if maybe the best pieces of the girl were left behind in heaven when she was called back to earth. There was no love in their union, only roughness that bordered on pain, and her grim pursuit of her own joyless physical release; never the sweet joining he'd imagined. She'd finally ended it, and he'd been struck with ambivalence. He didn't miss getting cut on the sharp edges of her self-inflicted punishment, but he missed the girl herself, and mourned for what might have been if circumstances were different.

So when things started to go sour for the betrothed, he was a little distracted. He had too many things eating away at his own heart to worry about theirs. He was aware of it, of course; it was hard to miss their constant bickering. Anya seemed to use shopping as a way to fill the holes, while Xander was trying to single-handedly support the Hostess line of snack cakes. Spike didn't really think about it, though; he added things like 'the chubby hubby-to-be' to his litany of insulting nicknames for the boy, but was too busy nursing a broken heart to see if they had any effect.

It took him by surprise when, after tackling the boy to save him from a hellmouth nasty about a month after the wedding that never was, Xander quickly scrambled away and pulled his clothes back into place. If he hadn't had to dive back into the fight, Spike might've stared at him in shock. Xander never scrambled away. Oh, he didn't push things, didn't try to touch Spike more than neccessary, and it wasn't obvious, but... whenever they did touch, Xander... stilled, as if soaking up the contact. Spike knocked the demon down and waited for Buffy to finish beheading hers with the special enchanted sword. And what was with the sudden modesty? The boy who'd cheerfully paraded about in towels and boxers had been replaced by a blushing man who couldn't pull his shirt down fast enough. Spike caught the sword when it was tossed his way and sliced cleanly through neck and spine, still frowning. Something wasn't right.

The sudden change preoccupied Spike. He started keeping a closer eye on Xander, trying to figure out what had changed. He was still attracted to Spike; it had only taken coming out of the training room with his shirt off a couple times to confirm that. Yet, Xander shied away from any contact with him. And it was just Spike he avoided; the witches touched him all the time, and he didn't pull uncomfortably away from Dawn and Buffy's goodbye hugs. Spike started seeing how far he could push Xander, edging in to his personal space at Scooby meetings and inviting himself over for beer and cable. Around the others, Xander remained unobtrusively jumpy; he'd stand up if Spike sat down next to him, pull back if Spike walked past. And anytime the vampire wasn't pretending to ignore him, he seemed eager for any excuse to leave the room, often running out for snacks or coffee. He never seemed unhappy to see Spike, but it was as if he was nervous about Spike seeing him.

It was a little easier when they were alone at the boy's apartment. With the lights out and Spike's attention safely on an action movie, Xander would sit next to him on the couch. He'd let Spike's hand touch his if they reached for the same thing without flinching back like he did at the Magic Box. Spike kept pushing a little at a time, seeing how much permission the darkness granted him, watching as the weeks rekindled desire in dark eyes. It hadn't been long since he'd carefully doused that hopeful glance; this time, he cupped the flame and watched it build. He made excuses to stay the night, walking around the next morning in unbuttoned jeans and nothing else, and tempered the venom of their conversation with more playful jabs and the occasional compliment. It wasn't even that hard; they'd always had a strong connection, and it didn't take much to turn their almost-friendship into the real thing.

Spike staked the last of a nest of vampires that had set up shop behind the Goodwill drop-off (regular meal service that came with a free grab-bag of trinkets - they really were like Happy Meals on legs) and tucked his stake away. He wasn't really hurt, just banged up a bit, but he was tired after taking them all on by himself. He was closer to Xander's place than his crypt anyhow, and if he knew his pining Slayerette, there'd be blood in the fridge for him.

Xander let him in with a flash of pleased surprise, then concern. The few bumps and scrapes he'd gotten in the battle put Xander straight into caregiver mode, and Spike allowed himself to be led inside and coddled. Normally he hated being treated as if he were fragile instead of invincible, but with Xander it was different; maybe because Xander was so humble and matter-of-fact about his own vulnerability, or maybe just because Xander had seen him at his best and his worst and still loved him, leaving Spike with nothing to prove. He could relax around Xander in a way he couldn't with anyone else.

Xander brought a mug of warm blood over and sat next to him on the couch, helping Spike drink it as if he were at death's door. Spike wasn't about to complain if it meant he got to lean into the heat and scent of the boy. He burrowed closer as the empty mug was taken away, letting his hand crawl up Xander's side while he pressed his face to the crook of his shoulder.

"Mmm. Soft," he murmured, closing his eyes and enjoying the oppurtunity to snuggle. And Xander was soft, the extra weight he'd put on blurring the hard lines he'd had before. Spike found himself wanting to explore that new body, so different from the men he'd explored in the past. Xander stiffened and pulled away though, trying unsuccessfully to dislodge the vampire so he could stand.

"I know," he said bitterly. Spike opened his eyes to look at his boy, face a picture of miserable self-loathing. It sent a pang to his heart, seeing him look that way, and he found himself wanting to comfort Xander instead of seduce him.

"Didn't mean it was a bad thing. S'good. All nice and cuddly like that purple bear Bit pretends she doesn't sleep with anymore." Spike curled around Xander with implacable determination until the other man finally sighed and relented, relaxing into the snuggling blond. "See?"

"Yeah, great." Xander didn't seem that pleased by his comparison to a lavendar stuffed animal, but he didn't make Spike stop, and eventually they fell asleep on the couch, still wrapped around each other.

Spike woke up first, warmed through by that delicious human heat, and roiled in it like a cat in fresh laundry. The movement woke up Xander, who again tried to sever contact, but Spike wasn't having any of that. Even without the quickly rising... evidence, his nose told him how much Xander liked being beneath him. And now that Spike knew how good the boy felt, he could return that desire.

"Don't really want me to let go, do you?" he asked, nuzzling against the boy and nudging his own erection against the cushion of hip. As much as he wanted Xander, he cared about him more. If his friend asked him to stop, he would.

Xander gasped; closed his eyes and pressed up against him and whispered, "No."

"Thank god, neither do I." Spike shifted a little, pushing his jeans down and searching for a better angle; sighed happily when Xander parted heavy thighs to frame him. He stroked leisurely at first, still sleepy-warm and content, strewing kisses over the stubbled face of the man beneath him, but the smell and the heat and the sounds Xander was making as he arched up to meet him quickly became too much. He came, shuddering and letting his weight pin Xander to the couch, sucking against his neck until Xander bit his lip and muffled the noise of his own completion.

They had a week to explore together before they had to face the others. When they showed up at the magic shop before the Scooby meeting started, Willow immediately noticed the difference and asked Xander what he looked so happy about. Spike watched as Xander looked over at him, a question clear in his eyes.

"The boy and I are seein' each other," Spike said, watching as Xander's face lit up in a grin. Spike had gotten enough of secrecy and hiding and shame with Buffy; he had no intention of putting Xander through that.

"Oh!" Willow's eyes went comically wide.

"That's nice," Tara said quietly. "I hope you'll both be very happy together."

"Me too!" Willow said, recovering from her surprise. "This, it's just, it's great!"

Buffy had been quiet, and it took a moment before she looked up. "Yeah, it... really is. I'm happy for you guys."

"Buff... you're sure this is okay?" Xander asked. "I mean... I don't want to, you know, steal your boyfriend or anything... but, you guys said it was over, and it's been a while..."

She gave him a shaky smile. "No, it really is. I'm okay too. And me and Spike, we were just... bad for each other, you know?" Her eyes found Spike's and gave him the apologies she could never find the words for. "This is better. We never would have made each other happy, but maybe you two can." Her words were bittersweet but obviously sincere, and Spike and Xander found themselves filled once again with admiration for the brave and generous woman they'd both loved at one time.

So Xander stopped being quite so jumpy around him at the shop, and they'd sit together and ignore the way Dawn made aww faces at them when they held hands. They still watched movies and argued over the remote; Spike had pretty much moved in already anyhow, but he got to sleep in the bed now, and got to fool around with the sexy young man he shared it with. Xander was still acting a little bit weird though, and Spike couldn't figure it out. By all accounts - and with Anya's mouth, that meant everyone they knew she and the boy had shared a pretty adventurous sex life. It wasn't that Spike was impatient; he knew he was the first bloke Xander had been with, and he could understand why the boy might be a little nervous and want to go slow. Still, that didn't explain why Xander was so demure about everything. He only really relaxed if all the lights were off, and only undressed once they were in bed and driving each other crazy. He never initiated things, waiting for Spike to start kissing and touching him, and left Spike in charge every time. Even Dawn knew that Xander wasn't normally a lights-out, missionary-position, lay-back-and-think-of-England kind of guy.

It wasn't that Spike didn't enjoy the submission, or the sex, because it was good between them. But he cared about Xander, was maybe thinking he could more than care about him someday soon, and he knew something was going on that he just wasn't seeing. He was determined to fix it.

Saturday morning, Spike woke up to find the bed empty and the shower running. He smiled at the thought of the slippery wet body beyond the bathroom door, and made his way in to join him.

Xander jumped like he'd been stung when cool arms snaked around his waist and pulled him back. Spike moved them gently back under the spray of the double shower heads, licking water droplets off his neck.

"Did I startle you, nummy?"

"Sp-spike..." Xander was just as hot and wet as he'd imagined, but he was twisting and squirming in his embrace. "You shouldn't... shouldn't be in here."

Spike arched his eyebrow but didn't release him as the man turned to face him. "And why not? Saturday, so you can't tell me you'll be late for work. Just you and me and hours before we have to go anywhere... seems like this is exactly where I ought to be," he said, emphasizing his point with a deep kiss.

Xander moaned and opened to him, and Spike felt him relax into his arms. The tension swiftly returned when Xander broke away to catch his breath, though. His boy stayed pressed close to him, so he couldn't see his face, but he could feel his heart thudding against where their chests rested together.

"What's wrong, then?" he asked, frowning. He kept one arm around him but used the other to force some space between them and make Xander meet his eyes.

"It's just..." Xander ran his hands over Spike's torso, eyes following hungrily. "You're so perfect, Spike."

The smug grin wasn't halfway across his face before the sadness in that voice stopped it. "But?"

"But... look at you! And look at me." Xander slumped dejectedly against the shower wall. "You could have... anyone you wanted, Spike. Why would you want to stay with this?"

Spike gazed at the tanned skin of his lover, watching as the water ran over the soft flesh. Xander was all sleek curves, like a seal, strong muscles bound in thick layers. All this... this was because Xander didn't like his body?

"I'm looking," Spike said huskily. He touched the deep dimple of a navel, let his fingers delve inside before drifting up the line dividing the smooth halves of Xander's chest. His hand splayed at the sternum, thumb straying irresistably towards a dusky nipple. "Like what I see."

Xander's eyes were disbelieving, and Spike decided to take that as a challenge. He tried to show Xander the truth of his words, exploring with fingers and lips and tongue and teeth, burying his face in the wet supple arcs of his boy, scratching the sensitive places where his skin creased. He let his hands roam the gentle curves, cupping and massaging, then repeated every motion with a slick layer of soapy bubbles. He rinsed and rubbed and whispered his appreciation, biting the soft bulge of skin beneath Xander's chin and almost coming at the helpless sounds that elicited. He got to his knees, nibbling and licking the tender skin of Xander's love handles, and then made love to the one part of his boy that never stayed soft. He dug his fingers deep into the ample thighs and the round full globes of his ass, forcing him deeper into his throat, trying to show him how much he liked it.

Afterward, they sat spooned up against the porcelain, both too sated to avoid the spray. Spike held him and said, "This is the body that made me want you, Xander. You're what I want." Xander turned his head until their lips met awkwardly. The kiss was clumsy, the angle was all wrong, and they were half-choking on the water hitting their faces, but neither of them had any desire to stop or change it. It might not have been perfect, but it was exactly what they wanted.

The End

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