X Marks the Spot


He'd never been anywhere this completely dark – Drusilla hadn't been a traditionalist and insisted on burying him. It wasn't pitch black – shades of midnight grey – but it might as well have been. There wasn't even a complete lack of air. It was habit that made him breathe – he needed air to talk, to smoke, but his body didn't need it and frankly if he'd still been human he wouldn't even be in this situation. Not that he regretted where it had ended up. Not if he was honest.

He could not have foreseen this – no one could. If he could have foreseen the chip, he would have avoided the toy soldiers like the plague. He could also have done without the initial humiliation of going practically begging to the slayer for shelter. The added humiliation of Angel finding out and describing the chip as a most effective leash, one Angelus would have been proud of. Final humiliation of being tied up in a bathtub – not really the high point of his life to date.

But without any of that, he wouldn't have really met – or re-met – Xander. Got to live with him, watch him, patrol with him. Learned about the dark humour just beneath the surface. The barely hidden bitterness in some of the sarcastic comments that went completely over the slayer and witch's head. The watcher caught some of them but not enough to realise what was happening.

He'd never intended to be the wedge, not this time. Adam had come and gone, and with him his whole Yoko Ono impersonation. He would have thought after that they would be more aware, make more of an effort to be more - inclusive. But patrol led to comradery – you saved someone's life often enough, didn't rub it in that you kept saving them, didn't emasculate them on a regular basis – bound to lead to being more than friends, than just room mates. Drinks and pool led to stories being shared – perhaps tales of a nerdy young man rejected cruelly given a new lease of life upon dying; definitely tales of preying mantis ladies, life sucking mummy princesses, basically any female demon in the vicinity making a point of registering interest; a laughing suggestion that perhaps given their luck with the ladies they should switch teams made awkward by a captured glance and a beat too long before denial and laughter.

Even then, it might have simply turned into a mild flirtation, a pleasant way to pass the time with nothing further going on. Might have if an important anniversary hadn't been forgotten – outraged sadness that a lifelong friend could be so easily forgotten because of new interests in spells and girly friends. And the bitter commentary turned into a diatribe against the whole Scooby mantra that he could do nothing but listen to in stunned silence, offer a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand when it came time to stagger home drunk off his arse.

Drunken attempts to undress and somehow they ended up in an untidy pile of arms and legs, face to face, beery breath, shocked hazel eyes meeting blue. He didn't make the first move – that was a surprise in and of itself – but found himself on the receiving end of a shockingly passionate, exquisite kiss.

And so it became more. No words in the morning – no regrets, no fake amnesia, no stammered denials. Just acceptance, strong arms, more passion.

They didn't mention it – not to the watcher, the slayer or to the witch. Glenda – new spell buddy – looked at them with knowing eyes a time or two, but that was it. And he knew it wasn't shame that kept them a secret – knew HE wasn't a shameful secret. Realised he was the reward for putting up with it all: the constant calls on his time, the lack of interest or concern about how nightly patrols might affect his ability to function at work; the fact that they had no clue where he lived or what he did for a living. Spike became the prize for handling all of that shit and the divide grew wider. He'd never been the reward before, never even been considered that way. And it made him feel good for a long time.

Until Warren and his useless buddies came onto the scene and reminded him that there could be more to all of it. Discovered that the nerdy wanker was an absolute wizard with computers and chips and the like. That in exchange for information on their little blonde nemesis, Warren was prepared to hack into various computers and figure out how certain things worked. And how they could be made to malfunction. X marked the spot for a little electronic interference and if Warren was too stupid to realise he made an ideal test subject to see if the little experiment had proven to be successful, at least he did make an efficient and mildly intelligent Renfield. Andrew and Jonathan were more like cannon fodder minions, something to throw in the Scoobies direction as he made his final arrangements.

He'd never been the reward before and he wanted to do something to solidify that, make it a forever kind of bond. He thought about asking but wasn't sure how he would cope if he was rejected. And what if the knowledge was passed on and the slayer declared open season again? She surely wouldn't allow him to stick around convincing that important person; Willow wouldn't allow an unchipped menace around her beloved Xander-shaped back up plan.

Which meant taking a risk. Potentially a huge risk. There was the possibility he would completely fuck it up: a minion was one thing, a bonded consort was so much more than that. Dru had obviously never shown him how it was done and vampire lore wasn't always reliable. The demon could prove too strong and he might find himself with a beautiful package that barely contained the essence of what he was trying to keep.

But, he reminded himself, stories of surviving possession, talking down suicidal zombies, standing up to Angelus for God's sake. A person capable of doing all of that would come through with the personality intact. They had to – nothing else made any sense.

And, really, did he have a choice? His gruesome minions couldn't seem to help but bring attention to themselves; there was only so long before even the blonde bint would notice her pet chipped vampire getting stronger and even if she never did, the watcher wasn't an idiot; you couldn't keep a secret on the Hellmouth – Willie, the demon underground – better than bloody jungle drums.

Fuck it, he admitted it. He just didn't have the patience.

Turning slightly to his right, he let his eyes adjust to the dim light. Warren's idea of a joke, but strangely enough it was kinda comfortable. Spend eternity together, even down to your accommodation. And it matched the car and avoided questions. In Sunnydale, a funeral hearse was a common occurrence so no one would look twice. Darkened windows meant they were even able to leave before sunrise. Result.

The changes were there but they were minute. The forehead was unwrinkled, his face lax as though he was merely asleep – he really did look like he was resting in peace. Spike had seen the light die in those beautiful hazel eyes as they registered just what he meant about a final reward, a way to escape. He had witnessed the last inhale, the final exhale. Saw the fight drain from the beloved face as acceptance was reached. Funny, Xander had always said he thought he would die at the hands of vampires – guess he'd never expected it to be his vampire.

He had witnessed him passing and had lain next to him through the long hours of waiting as per the instructions. Bonding from the very beginning, a constant presence the demon could feel as it slowly transformed the human host. Surprisingly comfy, this double casket. And Warren checked in regularly to get orders and keep him informed of things outside – wouldn't want the process interrupted at a crucial point. His eyes flicked to his mark – the teethmarks that proclaimed to all within the demon world everything that he was to be to the newly risen vampire.

Sire. Mate. Lover. Consort.

It had been a huge risk he had taken but he had really had no choice. How else were they going to get away from the bitterness and the loss of closeness that was eating away at what was left of that love and affection? Spike didn't even need to act as a wedge anymore – the slayer, the witch and the watcher had managed to do that all by themselves. They had taken all that love, that affection and with their callous behaviour those bloody stupid Scoobies had turned the boy, the ultimate fighting Scooby into someone secretive, someone whose life slowly adjusted until he was nocturnal and he lived almost entirely in the dark. How fortuitous.

It had had to be now – he finally got the money from the gem of Amara treasure, cashed it in and he was flush as could be. Whatever else he might be, he had always ensured that the capability for a home was within his grasp. A house of his own, a room, something, anything that might make Xander see that he appreciated being his reward. That he wanted to remain that forever and a day. Now when the slayer was struggling to figure out who had been watching her home, freezing guards at museums, stealing gems. Like he said, Jonathan and Andrew were the dumbest minions known to any vampire ever and most certainly deserved to be caught.

It had to be now.

The hazel eyes fluttered open. He could well imagine the thought processes, what was going on behind those silent eyes. Adjusting slowly to the midnight grey within the casket. Registering the lack of air and the lack of need for it. Such a calm demeanour – no clawing at the lid, no panicking at the enclosed space, no shock at the changes within. Now that was exactly how he had imagined Xander would react – figure out the facts, the variables, then decide on a course of action. Now all he needed to know was whether the bond had taken or not. Whether he had a companion for life or had fucked up probably the best thing that ever happened to him.

The head turned and their eyes met. So, what was going to be his reward?

The End