Welcome to "Hoarding Colored Rags"! We got the inspiration for this title from the quote:

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food. ~ Austin O'Malley

Spandypants ([info]misspandypants) is playing Spike, and Drusilla
BrynSpikess ([info]spikess) is playing Xander.

Hoarding Colored Rags

Spikess and Misspandypants

Part One

"God, could this night get any more boring?" Xander remarked, flat of the axe he carried bumping his calf with every other step. They'd been patrolling for over an hour and hadn't come across any evils, not even a single vampire. Well, other than the bleached menace striding beside him.

"Sure it could, all you need to do is keep talking." Spike smirked at Xander, but the usual sting just wasn't in it. He was just as bored as Xander and he was getting slightly frustrated. He'd thought there would be plenty of demons tonight, seeing as how they'd hardly had anything for weeks. Something was definitely off, and Spike didn't want to stick around to find out what kind of nasty was killing off the competition.

"Feel like going home and catching a movie?" He didn't have anything better to do, so Spike thought it might be fun to make Xander pay for some entertainment. What was the use of living with the human if he couldn't take advantage?

Xander considered for a moment. "I guess so. Doesn't look like we're going to see any action tonight." He actually looked forward to watching movies with Spike: they had the same tastes in movies, and they both liked making snide comments at the screen. But it wouldn't do to let Spike realize that he enjoyed spending time with him; their verbal sparring was too much fun. "But you're paying for it." Before Spike could give some excuse, he continued, "And I saw Giles pay you yesterday, so ixnay on the bumming money-ay - I don't get paid until next week."

A sudden paranoid tingle on the back of his neck was his only warning before they were attacked.

Spike felt the blow to the back of his head, but the sledgehammer made no difference when he realised exactly what was attacking them. He had to get Xander out of here, hopefully more alive than dead. Bronicthal demons were dangerous and deadly and for some reason Spike was scared shitless that when Xander had been knocked to the ground...

He had to concentrate, had to fight these bastards and get Xander away right now. So he summoned up all the anger and strength he had in him and waded into the fight, swinging the sword in every direction and trying to get enough damage in to distract them from the body that was lying at his feet. There was one thought flashing through Spike's brain.


It was strange. One moment he's talking to Spike, the next he's laying on the ground. At least, he thought it was the ground. It felt like grass, but it could be that astroturf or something. Or maybe he'd been abducted by aliens who wanted to test the authenticity of their own hybrid strain of grass... With difficulty, he tried to pull his mind back in. Faintly he could hear the sounds of fighting around him, and he realized that he could tell which noises and grunts were Spike's. Huh. He hadn't known that he'd memorized those sounds. Weird.

Just then the word 'fighting' filtered through his brain, and he tried to get up, tried to open his eyes to find his axe and help Spike out, but it was like the link between his mind and his body had been disconnected. He couldn't move. Couldn't even blink or flex his fingers. His whole body was tingling, electric shocks coming from the back of his head shot through his body. Something warm and wet and smelling like pennies tasted was trickling down the side of his face, but he couldn't find the energy to worry about it. Spike was there, Spike would make sure he was all right. He could feel himself sinking, as if he'd just turned off the alarm clock and was going right back to sleep. He had one last thought before the darkness enveloped him. Spike.

When Spike felt Xander's heart slow and breathing switch he knew the boy was giving in to the darkness. He had to get to him now, keep him awake. With a mighty effort he finished off the demon he was fighting, grabbed Xander and ran. It wasn't often the Big Bad ran away from a fight, but Xander was more important than his pride.

Spike was running as fast as his inhuman strength would allow him, leaping over anything in his way. His only thoughts were about keeping Xander awake, so he kept on a running commentary, afraid to think of what would happen if that faint heartbeat got any fainter.

"Go on Xan, hold on. Just stay awake, you don't want to fall asleep. Sleep is bad. When we get you cleaned up I'll buy you all the chocolate you want as long as you don't fall asleep on me. You want chocolate don't you? Please please just stay with me Xander."

Xander moaned as his body was jarred slightly on one of Spike's leaps, the pain making the darkness recede for a moment. He could hear Spike talking now, hear the worry in his voice, but Xander couldn't figure out how to make his mouth or body respond. This would be a good time for my telepathic powers to manifest, he joked to himself. He clung to that voice as his other senses slipped away, the sound of it comforting him even as he lost track of the individual words.

Spike felt Xander stir in his grip and he knew this was his only chance to keep the boy with him. So he increased his speed and shook Xander a little while he still kept up the running commentary.

"Come on Xander, I know you don't want to give up on me now. I'll never let you live it down. You have to stay with me, you can do it, you're strong. You know you're strong enough to do this."

Spike didn't even know what he was saying anymore. It was just too important for Xander to make it through. And as much as he wanted to tell himself that the only reason he was so concerned with the boy's wellbeing was because Buffy would stake his ass if he didn't, he knew that he'd come to mean something to him. He just wasn't too sure what exactly it was.

He wasn't sure how much time passed - it could've been minutes or hours that he drifted. Occasionally he'd catch snippets of conversations around him, "...head trauma...blood pressure...normal, but...concussion..." The words didn't make sense, so he let the voices fade in and out, listening for the one he'd heard before...

Ahh, there it was. He focused on the Voice that felt comfortable and familiar. A name was on the edge of his memory, but he couldn't quite recall it. With a mental shrug he let the shred of memory go, and relaxed. The Voice was back, the Voice meant he was safe.

Spike was going to rip out the doctor's throat if he didn't step aside. He'd already lied to the nurses at the front counter and told them he was Xander's "life partner". Did this incompetent fool want to waste precious seconds making sure again when he could be saving Xander?

Spike's knuckles shone white and his forehead was flickering backwards and forwards. He wanted Xander fixed, he wanted him better. He wanted to be at home watching Pardon My Zinger and explaining the funny bits. He wanted to be eating popcorn out of a bucket that they both knew was covering his erection while they watched porn together. He wanted to kill Xander for doing this to him.

Drifting was fun, but it got boring after a while. There was something he was forgetting, something he should be worrying about, but he couldn't quite figure out what it was. As comforting as the Voice was, the nagging feeling also increased whenever he could hear the Voice. Huh. The Voice. Maybe there was a name attached to that Voice? He tried to remember, but again no name came. That's something weird, isn't it? He should remember the Voice's name, shouldn't he? He could remember the names of clouds and trees and flowers. Cirrus, willow, tulips. He almost giggled. Tulips. Tuuuuuulips. Two Lips. In a flash he remembered two lips: two thin, pale pink, perfect lips. Utterly kissable. The memory slipped away before he could see the rest of the face though. Darn.


Spike heard Xander's heart picking up the pace and knew the boy was close to waking up. He shut the doctor up with a glare tinged with gold and snapped back around.

"Xander. Go on whelp, wake up. Come back to me." He gave Xander a slight shake and let his hand linger on his arm. The boy looked so frail and deathly white and it was disconcerting.

Suddenly Xander stirred and Spike thought he'd said something about two lips. At least the stirring was a good sign.

"He's waking up."

Mmmm, the Voice was back, and this time it was accompanied by a touch sensation. He heard the other voice talk, and for the first time since he found himself drifting, words made sense. Yeah, he could wake up. That was do-able. 'Bout time; he was probably late for something. He yawned, testing his limbs and was surprised when they responded, fingers and toes curling and stretching, albeit weakly. Happy that his body was finally obeying his wishes, he opened his eyes.

And froze.

He was in a hospital bed, and there were two other people. His gaze passed over the man in white scrubs - doctor - and rested on who he assumed to be the owner of the Voice. Who happened to be caressing his arm. Who also possessed those nummy lips he'd been thinking about earlier. And whose name he could not remember worth anything. For a moment he wondered why he'd remembered the lips and not the man's stormy blue eyes. It seemed like they would be the most unforgettable thing about him.

Then the reality of the moment sunk in. He might've shrunk away from the strangers, except the blond man felt so damn familiar, as if he could draw that face with his eyes closed. It was infuriating that he couldn't remember the guy's name. Well, there's more than one way to find out. He smiled at the blond.

"Who are you?"

Spike didn't know if the boy was kidding or if he really had gone off his rocker. Then he realised that head wound and soft human head were probably not the best of friends. So not only did Spike have to deal with a concussed Xander, he had to deal with an Amnesiac Xander. He squashed the wave of pity he felt for the boy.

"Spike." He answered shortly, not wanting to go into too much detail with the doctor there. "Go on whelp. You remember old Spike don't you?" He smiled uneasily.

Turning to the doctor he gestured obviously to the door, but the man wouldn't budge.

He turned to Xander and Spike held back a growl. "Xander? What's the last thing you remember?"

Huh. Spike. Weird name. And his name was Xander? God, did anybody have normal names? He glanced at the name tag on the Doctor's scrubs. Dr. Richardson. Well, that sounded normal at least.

Woah, wait a minute. Back up. His name was Xander? And he didn't already know this? Forgetting somebody else's name was one thing, forgetting his own was something completely different. And much more worrying.

This Spike guy was still waiting for an answer, and looking more impatient as the seconds ticked past. Xander frowned as he tried to remember. He'd been listening to them talk, before that he'd found tulips outrageously funny but he wasn't sure why. Before that he was just drifting, and before that.... a blank. He couldn't remember anything. Couldn't remember who he was, or who this Spike guy was, or what little accident had put him in the hospital. This was so not good.

"Um... tulips?"

Spike's concern was growing exponentially. If the confusion that attacked his acute sense of smell was anything to go by, the boy didn't remember much at all. And he had a feeling that the memory loss was a reality.

"Xander, do you remember Buffy or Willow?" He thought the best way of getting a feel for what Xander knew would be to go through stages of his life. "Jesse?" Each one of those marked a particular year. If Xander didn't remember Buffy then he wouldn't remember demons and that would lead to a few sticky situations. He just wished the girls would get here already because, although he would never ever admit it, he was starting to freak out.

Buffy? Willow? Jesse? He guessed that answered his 'did anybody have normal names?' question. What were their parents thinking? Was everybody very stoned when they decided to name their kids? Xander shook his head slowly. "Um, willow is a type of tree, or a magically midget in that one movie..." he watched Spike's face and could tell, "But that wasn't the answer you were looking for. Nope. Sorry. No bells ringing." He probably should be worrying more about his lack of memory, but Spike seemed to be worrying enough for the both of them. And besides, it was kinda fun to be calm and collected around somebody who is fraying at the edges. On second thought, that was kinda harsh. Immediately he felt guilty for making Spike worry. After all, the guy was probably his best friend...then again Spike still hadn't removed his hand from Xander's arm. He didn't think extended touching fell into the realm of friends who were guys, but maybe it was something else he was forgetting.

A nurse bustled in with a clipboard, nodding at the doctor before smiling at Xander. "You're awake, are you now, dearie. That's good. Your boyfriend was so worried."

Spike would have found the look on Xander's face hilarious under any other circumstances. It was like something out of a cartoon. He expected to see the little duckies flying around on top of his head too, and knowing that this was the Hellmouth it wasn't that far out of the question.

"Xander. Honey. You're awake." He did it for the benefit of the nurse and the doctor. He grinned when Xander spluttered and made it even more worth it.

Now that the light entertainment was over though, he wasn't sure what he was going to do. Buffy and Willow still weren't here and he just wasn't good in these kinds of situations. Did he tell Xander everything and fill him in on what he was missing? Did he wait for the girls so they could do a better job?

Boyfriend? Yeah, he'd been wondering, but to have his suspicions confirmed? He didn't think he was gay. He didn't feel gay, did he? Although as he stared at Spike, there was a little interest in the nether regions. So maybe he was.

"Um," he said to the doctor and nurse, "Can I have a minute alone with my boyfriend?" he almost stumbled over the last word. Not that there was anything wrong with being gay, it's just... a lot to take in at once, finding out that you had hot sweaty monkey sex with someone you can't remember... oh, shit, now he was getting mental pictures...

At exactly the wrong moment too, because his polite request and Spike's glares apparently were enough to get rid of their audience, and the moment they left, everything about Spike jumped up a notch. His boyfriend wasn't a large man, but he had this intensity about him, that Xander found himself in awe of, and a little frightened by. Maybe asking to be alone with Spike wasn't the brightest idea ever...

Xander had surprised him when he'd asked to be alone. But of course the boy wanted some answers, wanted to know what was going on. Spike still wasn't sure what to tell him. And he'd let him know he wasn't his boyfriend. Because he totally didn't find Xander looking at him like the sun shone out of his ass in any way hot. Hot and Xander LaVille Harris in the same sentence? Totally not happening.

All of which didn't explain why he reached over and grasped Xander's hand in his. And why he looked down at the boy and whispered almost reverently in a voice that would normally make him spew. "Xan? Are you feeling okay? Don't worry, help is on the way, we'll fix what ails you quick smart. Just don't fall asleep on me again."

Bloody hell. Spike was the queen of the pansies.

Oh yeah, this was much better. All alone, just the two of them, holding hands... maybe a little kissing soon and some of that hot sweaty monkey sex... Come on, man, get a hold of your hormones, he thought to himself, you don't remember anything about this guy! He could've found you knocked out on the street and is pretending to be your boyfriend as part of some nefarious scheme. Like when MacGyver got amnesia and was told he was the other guy, his worst enemy, whatshisname...dammnit, this amnesia stuff is not fun.

But he's being so nice!
a second voice popped up in his head, He's holding your hand and talking all nice and gentle and reassuringly. If he wanted to hurt you he could've done anything while you were out-of-it. Why would he pretend?

Voice 1: Two words. Nefarious. Scheme.

Voice 2: But if he were a stranger, why would you've remembered his lips before you saw him?

Voice 1: He could still be your arch nemesis. You'd know his face, and he'd have a nefarious scheme going where he pretends to be close to you. And the only reason you thought about his lips is 'cause you were thinking about tulips.

Voice 2: But would you have thought the villain's lips were kissable?

Voice 1: Allure of the dark side. But the first voice was rapidly losing confidence.

"No worries of that. Not really feeling tired." Confused, worried, and annoyed at not being able to remember, yes. And a little aroused too. But definitely not tired.

Help is on the way? Oh, probably the afore mentioned Buffy, Willow, and Jesse. More people he wouldn't remember, oh joy. That is assuming the names belonged to people. They might be his pet cats or something, which would explain their names. Then again, he couldn't imagine burdening a cat with the name 'Buffy'. Maybe it was Spike's cat? But didn't most hospitals frown on bringing pets in? "Um, this help you speak of, it would be of the human variety, yes?"

Xander must really be going off the rocker. What other kind of help would he think of bringing? Oh! Maybe the boy was remembering demons?

"Don't worry Xan, all human, no demons here. Well maybe just one." He was about to tell him about the whole vampire thing but thought better of it, so he hurried on as if he hadn't said anything. "Willow is your best friend, she's got the flaming red hair. Real powerful little witch, doesn't even know it herself yet. Buffy is the little blonde one. Real chit she is, but she's your best friend too. Me and her don't get along, reckons I'm bad for you. Then there's Giles, he's the British pompous arse. Like a father figure really."

He could see he was losing Xander, so snapped his mouth shut. Then thought he'd better explain himself. "Don't worry Xan, we'll explain it to you when they get here, it's all very complicated and I don't want you getting your pretty little head in a spin about this." He squeezed Xander's hand when he realised it had gone a little limp.

Xander started to feel lightheaded. Demons? A best friend who was a witch? Had Spike knocked his head during whatever happed to land Xander in the hospital too? And his two best friends were girls? Oh yeah, he was so gay. And another person with a weird name, Giles. He wondered briefly if Giles was maybe Spike's father, 'cause of the British accent he could hear in Spike's voice, but he figured he'd be able to tell if they were related when the new arrivals arrived. Which brought back the unfunness of looking forward to at least three more strangers he couldn't remember. And apparently one of his bosom buddies didn't like his choice in significant other; he could only imagine the tension that would manifest shortly. Joy. Was there anything else?

Voice 2: He said your head was pretty!

Voice 1: He also said it was little. Not something a guy likes to hear. The first voice was starting to sound snarky. Xander wondered if it was mad about losing ground in the previous fight.

Voice 2: It's a saying. 'don't worry your pretty little head about it' or some variation thereof. It's the pretty that's important.

Voice 1: It's something guys say to girls.

Voice 2: Which just proves my point that he's your boyfriend. Voice 2 sounded smug. Admit it, you like holding his hand.

Stop it! It was hard enough living in his own head for the last however long he'd been awake; he didn't need an argument brewing there too. Several questions were plaguing him, but he settled for a follow-up to some of the information Spike had already provided.

"So, Jesse isn't coming?" Stands to reason that if your other friends are girls... "What, she and I have a fight or something? And while I'm on the topic, mind telling me what happened that I got knocked out and put in the hospital in the first place?"

Spike absently stroked his thumb across Xander's palm and thought about how to answer. Xander look confused and he had a feeling the boy was beginning to get a little freaked out. So he decided to go with the less is more policy.

"Jesse was a guy, your best friend before Buffy came to town. He's... he's dead. But it's better to be dead than undead. You got knocked out while we were... we got into a fight. I took care of them but they got you first." Spike looked imploringly at Xander. He looked even more confused. Damn less is more, he was always bad at it!

Xander barely restrained a shiver. The palm-stroking was really really nice... No! He was strong, he could resist his boyfriend's charms for five minutes and focus on this missing-memory thing. Well... maybe two minutes, max.

Okay. This is me focusing. So, one of the names was a guy. Spike's almost hesitant reply made him wonder if Jesse was his ex, or maybe an unrequited love whose death brought him out of the closet. But that didn't explain why Spike stumbled over the reason for the hospital visit. We weren't doing something illegal, were we? Xander thought suddenly, Oh merciful Zeus, maybe that's it. Maybe we were in the middle of a drug deal gone wrong!

Voice 1: See? He could be the person you were dealing to, or maybe he's your supplier. And he's just here to make sure you don't remember what happened.

Voice 2: Oh, shush. He would have a better cover story if he was pretending.

Voice 1: I still don't like it. He's hiding something.

Xander watched Spike closely. "There's something you're not telling me."

Oh gods! Xander was looking at him as if he was some kind of crack dealer or something. But he just didn't know what to tell the boy that wouldn't freak him out too much. He had read somewhere that it wasn't a good thing to spook someone with amnesia. Made them go crazy or something equally undesirable.

"Look Xan, I want to tell you everything but... well there's stuff I can't tell you 'til the others get here. I'm no good with this, but Rupes will know what to do. We're all... well you could say we're in a gang. We patrol the streets, keeping people safe. That's how you got into the hospital, we were in a fight with a nasty and it knocked you around." Spike squeezed Xander's hand subconsciously, trying to make Xander understand.

Voice 1: Told you!

Voice 2: He didn't say anything about drugs.

Voice 1: Yeah, but you're in a gang. How very... vigilante.

Xander couldn't remember watching a crime tv show, but didn't the kind of nasties that a gang would beat up on, usually have friends who would strike back? What if one of the nasty's friends found out he was in the hospital and decided to finish the job? Suddenly Xander wanted to be as far away from the hospital as possible.

"This nasty wouldn't by chance have any friends who might target the wounded and hospital-ridden for revenge, would they? Oh, and who's Rupes?" It seemed like every time Spike talked, he mentioned somebody else who was going to drop by.

Spike groaned and felt a sudden urge to bash his head on a wall. He wasn't a bloody babysitter, he didn't know how to answer all these questions. Telling Xander about things that live under the bed probably wasn't the best idea if he wasn't even taking the gang thing well.

"Rupes is Rupert. Rupert Giles. He's your father figure. And don't worry, if someone comes by I'll kick their bony white ass. I could do with a bit of a rough and tumble."

Xander was looking a little freaked out and Spike had no idea how to fix this. He frowned and wondered what the most non-threatening and yet most comforting gesture would be. While he was deciding his hand absently ran through Xander's hair and he gently ran circles around Xander's thumb.

Okay, so maybe he was asking a lot of questions. But it was weird not knowing things. When Spike groaned at the latest round of interrogation, Xander bit his lip to restrain the rush of longing. He really wanted to make Spike make that sound again, but in passion instead of frustration.

Okay, so three strangers total were on their way. He can deal with that, as long as Spike kept touching him. And maybe he should start worrying how much he liked Spike being all protective and violent. Spike's declaration made Xander's insides feel all warm and gooey. Okay, you really need to get a hold on yourself. It would not be a good thing to be making bedroom eyes at Spike when your disapproving friends show up.

Xander was trying to figure out a way to do just that when he felt Spike's fingers thread through his hair. All thoughts of amnesia and strangerly friends left his head, and his eyes fell closed as he tried to swallow a whimper. Oh dear god, don't ever stop doing that, please. His boyfriend had talented hands.

Spike heard the whimper before he felt it vibrate through his skull and his fingers. He glanced down at the boy and felt his heart shudder. He was like a kitten, pressing against Spike and whimpering. Spike was never going to stop if this was what stroking his hair did.

"I'm sorry Xan. I know I haven't been too forthcoming. But don't worry, we'll figure out how to mojo your memory back and you'll be right. Willow will fix it, no matter what it takes."

When Xander looked a little scared at the mention of Willow Spike got confused. But then he realised what it must be like for Xander, how confusing. The boy had no idea where he was or what was going on, the only person he remotely knew was Spike, and the gang was going to storm in and he just knew they would start asking questions a mile a minute. Poor Xan was going to be swamped!

"Listen, Xan, when they all come I'll get them in one at a time. And I'll stay here, if you want. Wouldn't want you getting overwhelmed." There was something about helpless brunettes with big brown eyes that melted his stony little heart. Damn kid. He kept up the stroking and squeezed Xander's hand again.

The voices tried to say something, probably arguing about Willow and what sort of contacts a gang would have, but he shut them up. Spike was doing delicious things to his scalp that sent tingles through the rest of his body, and he didn't want to miss a moment of it listening to those two squabble.

"Okay. Yeah, that would be good. With the you staying, and the one at a time..." Xander trailed off, enjoying the sensations. If he'd kept talking it would probably've ended in a moan. For the briefest flicker of a moment, everything was perfect.

And then there was a knock on the door. Damn Murphy's Law.

Spike's head snapped to the door and he gave Xander's hand a last squeeze before darting out the room. Willow, Buffy and Giles stood outside and Spike didn't like the looks on their faces. It was as if they thought he had been responsible.

"Look, we ran into some demons and Xander has amnesia. He's really confused so you can only come in one at a time. You first Red." He took her by the arm and led her in before anyone had time to object. He was quite proud of himself, taking care of them like that. Until the door burst open and a very pissed off Buffy took a step in.

"Spike, I'm going to shove a stake so far up your ass that it will dust you. What did you do to Xander?"

When Spike brought the redhead in, Xander couldn't help edging away from her a little. She was looking at him with eyes full of worry and sorrow, that he was quickly having second thoughts about seeing anyone but Spike. Maybe he and Spike could run away and go to Hawaii or something. His boyfriend could sure use a little time in the sun.

Things Xander was relearning: his body apparently had a built-in self defense procedure, as Xander yelped and jumped when the door banged open. Unfortunately that was enough to send him over the edge and he fell off the bed. That was graceful. Xander leapt to his feet quickly, wincing as his head and ass began to throb and the room started spinning. This is so not good. And on the topic of his ass, there was a rather unpleasant draft. Damn hospital gowns. Xander grabbed the sheet from the bed and wrapped it around his waist, and then leaned against the bed for support while the room continued to slowly roll and dip. Now, to deal with the blonde.

Run away! was the first thought that ran through Xander's mind. A second thought followed on its heels, Who the hell does she think she is, talking to my boyfriend like that? Smash her fucking face in. Both thoughts scared him a little. He wasn't a wimp, was he? But on the other hand, he didn't think he was overly violent. But then again, he was in a gang. But he could barely stand up - wasn't really in the mood to fight anyone. Xander didn't exactly understand the words the blonde used, Stake? Dust? Maybe they're slang for something. Gang, remember? We've got our own lingo, but the threat was obvious in her voice. Hey! Nothing goes up his ass but me! Unless, of course, I'm the bottom. Maybe we trade off? But this was neither the time nor place for lusty Spike thoughts. There was a potentially violent woman that had to be dealt with, and there was no way he was going to let her get away with threatening his boyfriend.

"Spike," Xander began, his voice tight with pain and restrained anger, "has done nothing but be a perfect gentleman. He has made sure I received proper medical attention and informed me of the basics of the situation at hand." He turned a cold glare on the blonde, "You are Buffy, I presume. Please refrain from using that tone of voice and threatening him, or I will have to ask you to leave. At least Spike has not burst through my door or threatened those who are trying to help me."

Spike was caught by surprise with the tone Xander was using. It was cold and threatening and he was giving Buffy a glare that he hadn't seen in a while. Especially not directed at his chums. He felt a swell of pride about being stood up for, it had been so long since anyone had bothered. And it felt foreign, Xander choosing him instead of Buffy.

There were a million thoughts flying around his head when Buffy finally spoke.

"But Xander... that's Spike!" The way she said his name, the venom and hatred in one little word. Spike wasn't hurt, he wasn't. But he glared at her and hissed a little, moving closer to Xander.

Seeing how uncomfortable the boy was made him forget the situation. He put a hand on Xander's shoulder to steady him and directed him back towards the bed.

"Come on Xan, time to get you back in the bed. You're not looking too crash hot, you need to get your rest." Subconsciously he lifted Xander up a little to help him get in and patted his hand gently once he got settled.

"Xander. That's Spike! Why are you letting Spike touch you?" She made a move towards the bed.

'Me and her don't get along'? Understatement. She must really hate him if she didn't bother checking to see if her best friend was alright, just went straight to the accusing part.

Xander cast a quick grateful smile at Spike for the help, before turning back to Buffy, his voice still cool and firm despite his shaking body. He really didn't have the energy to keep this up much longer. "I am well aware that the man who just helped me was Spike, and who I let touch me is none of your business." At that, he grabbed Spike's hand and squeezed it briefly and held on, taking comfort from their connection. "If you were actually my friend, as Spike informed me, you would be more concerned about my current state of health and would be helping me instead of bursting into rooms and scaring people into hurting themselves further. I'm beginning to think he may have been inaccurate as to his assessment of our relationship. So far, your presence has only caused me discomfort. If you cannot remain civilized, I will not hesitate to call hospital security to remove you from the premises." Hey, look at me! I'm using big words! He almost laughed, but as that would ruin the effect he was going for, he remained stone-faced. So far the other two strangers hadn't bothered him, but he would not tolerate anyone dissing his boyfriend. The hand not holding onto Spike slipped under the edge of the covers to wrap around the nurse call button, just in case she made another move.

Spike didn't know where Xander got all those big words from, but they sure were working well in getting Buffy to shut up. Her mouth fell open and she looked like she was about to cry, then shook herself and glared at Giles.

"Spike's done something. He must have put a spell on Xander or something! Fix it!" She was glaring so hard that Spike thought he might see sparks soon.

Giles stuttered and looked everywhere but at Buffy. "How are you feeling Xander? Spike told us you were having trouble remembering." Spike felt a new surge of respect for the man. Buffy obviously didn't like being ignored.

"But," Buffy looked from Spike to Xander to Giles and threw her hands up in the air.

"Are you okay? Do you need anything? I'll bring you some chocolate, maybe chocolate will make you feel better. I know how much you hate hospitals, we'll get you out of here soon Xander. Don't worry okay." Willow was a flurry of action, finally snapping out of whatever daze she had been in.

Xander raised his eyebrow briefly at the word 'spell', but shrugged it off. He'd ask Spike about it later. It looked like Buffy was calming down a little, so Xander let himself relax a fraction and let go of the panic button. He didn't let go of Spike, though.

Xander couldn't help smiling at Willow. The 'stranger' fear factor had crumbled in the face of her babble, and he could easily picture being friends with her. He still wasn't sure why he was friends with Buffy, though.

This time his voice was much friendlier. "I'm fine, no, chocolate sounds good but I don't know what kind I like, and thanks. I can't wait to get out of this place." he replied to her flurry of questions, before turning to the older gentleman. "Rupert Giles?" The man nodded slightly in conformation, and Xander continued, "I'm doing all right, as far as I can tell. I can remember a few things, but it's mostly general knowledge stuff, like that the sky is blue, and never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line. I couldn't remember my name or anything about myself before Spike told me, nor did I recognize him or any of you."

Voice 1: Well, that's not completely true. You remembered Spike's lips before you saw him.

But Xander had already decided to try not to mention anything about his relationship with Spike - he didn't want to entice Buffy into getting mean and bossy again. He glanced back at Willow, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"Spike said you were a witch. So, do you actually ride around on a broomstick?"

Spike almost choked with laughter when Xander asked about broomsticks. This Xander was so different in so many ways to the Xander he knew, and yet at his essence he was the same quirky little boy lost in a man's body and experiences. Spike wondered what Xander would have been like if he'd never found out about demons and monsters and vampires, if he'd never met the almighty slayer, if Willow had never discovered her inner witch. It made him feel a little wistful, because no boy should have to be thrown into a big scary world with no one to protect him. Spike squeezed Xander's hand under the covers, just to let him know he was still there and ready to come to his rescue.

Willow looked like she was about to burst into tears, but then her face morphed into the resolve face and she smiled a little. "I don't really use broomsticks much. Giles drives me around."

Spike grinned and gave her a thumbs up, then caught himself and changed it into the finger for Buffy. Buffy glared right at him and took another threatening step forward.

Xander smiled back at Willow, and squeezed Spike's hand back under the covers. See? This wasn't turning out so bad after all. "Cars are cool. They're all... four wheely. And there's the joy of sitting, 'cause I'd think it'd be hard to balance on a broomstick. And where's the fun of using cleaning supplies for transportation? It's not like you hear tales of people riding vacuums or mops around." He saw Buffy take another step out of the corner of his eye, Damn it, she's not intimidated easily, and I'm in no condition to fight her physically. Gotta find some way to distract her...

"Hey, Rupert? Do you mind speaking to the doctor? He was not very forthcoming with Spike, and I would like to know how long I'm going to be stuck here." The faster he could get out of the hospital, the sooner he could be alone with his boyfriend and happy again.

"Buffy, why don't you tell be about yourself? How did we meet?" Maybe he could figure out why he was friends with her. Plus, a little fill-in-the-memory-blanks might help.

Spike wondered what that warm fuzzy feeling was, and why it kept happening whenever Xander squeezed his hand. Then he stopped to wonder why it was that Xander was squeezing his hand in the first place. In fact, the whole night had been rather bizarre, he and Xander had been very touchy feely. If he was going to be honest with himself, he was touching Xander because he kind of liked the boy. He'd been scared in the fight, scared that something would happen and he would lose Xander. And now he was trying to reassure himself that everything was fine, that Xander was alive and well. If he was going to be even more honest, he hadn't had anyone touch him for the longest time. Not in the soft, sweet, nice way that Xander touched him.

Xander was asking about how Buffy and he got to be friends and he got the feeling that this Xander didn't like Buffy very much. He couldn't blame him, he wasn't used to the bossy bint trying to keep everything under control. He just wished that things could be different.

Buffy looked at Xander, then at Giles, then back to Xander. "Well, I moved here a few years back. We kind of... meshed." She laughed nervously when Giles shook his head subtly. Man was smart, not wanting to overwhelm Xander with too much information too fast.

"I'll go talk to the doctors and we'll see when you can leave. I think maybe we should leave you alone to get some rest." Giles took Buffy firmly by the arm and beckoned to Willow.

Xander vaguely remembered reading somewhere that birds communicated by sharing feelings and establishing a mood of community. That they were basically saying "I'm here, where are you?" to which another bird would reply, "I'm here... where are you?" That was kinda like the communication between him and Spike, Xander thought idly. Each hand squeeze was letting the other know they were there. It was nice. Really nice.

Xander noted the silent exchange between Buffy and Rupert, and filed the information away for later. Oh yeah, they're hiding something. He was about to call them on it when Rupert made a move to leave. Xander weighed the options in his mind: demand to know what they're keeping secret and have to deal with Buffy longer, or let them go and remain blissfully ignorant while trying to convince Spike to join him on the hospital bed for a bit of cuddle and snooze. There was really no contest.

"Thank you, Rupert. I appreciate it."

Spike sighed in relief when everyone filed out of the room. The dangerous glare from Buffy he could shrug off, but that look from Rupes was something he needed to decipher. It was asking all sorts of questions that Xander really didn't have the answers to. What was he doing holding Xander's hand? Why did he care about what happened to the boy? Why did he want to protect him and care for him and fetch him cool glasses of water? This wasn't like him at all and he wondered what had gotten over him.

He looked down at Xander once they were alone and that was all he needed. That's what had gotten over him. The trusting look in Xander's eyes made him want to do absolutely everything to keep the boy safe, to never disappoint him, to make sure he had everything he ever wanted. Xander Harris had powerful eyes.

Spike shook himself when he realised how pale and tired Xander looked compared to the white of the hospital sheets. He'd been selfish, he needed to make sure Xander was comfortable.

"I think it's time for you to get some rest, Xan. You need to get nice and refreshed for tomorrow morning. I'll go too, if you want me to."

Xander unconsciously tightened his grip on Spike's hand when he offered to leave. "Actually, I was kinda wondering if you..." Spit it out, man! What's the worst thing he could do? "...might join me?" He shifted over in the bed a little to make room for Spike, while careful not to fall out again. He didn't want to guilt-trip Spike into staying, but he also didn't want to let go of his only anchor. He looked down at his lap, afraid that there might be rejection in Spike's eyes. "I'd feel better if you stayed."

Spike's jaw fell open at the offer. What was this Xander thinking? Why was he acting so warm and... dare he think it, loving? He was so confused because it was igniting things in him that had been smouldering for a long time. When Xander shifted across the bed Spike knew his decision had been made for him. No way could he refuse that kind of an offer, and he was just grateful that Xander had moved over to give him some space because he was about to fall over from the sheer strangeness of this.

When he noticed that Xander looked like he thought he might just be rejected, and the sadness that had overtaken his features when Spike had paused, he hastened to fix it. Anything to make Xander happy again. "Hey. Xan. Of course I'll stay. Just didn't want to make you uncomfortable, since technically you don't know me, never even saw me until you opened those pretty eyes of yours." He plopped down onto the bed and left a sliver of air between them to let Xander make the next move. "I'll always be here if you need me Xander." And it was the truth. Gods, but he may have fallen for Xander LaVille Harris.

His heart ached so good, and Xander couldn't help but blink back the prickling of tears that Spike's promise had caused. How did he get so lucky to find such a kind and wonderful man? He leaned back against Spike, resting his head on his boyfriend's shoulder. Cuddle and snooze? Check. Xander closed his eyes, sinking into sleep.

"Not technically." he murmured, snuggling into Spike.

Spike almost gasped out loud when Xander snuggled into him, but then decided that maybe someone up there or down there really liked him and held Xander tightly. He was afraid that if he let go Xander would disappear, or at least move away. So he held on tight and let his fingers tangle in Xander's hair when the boy rested his head on Spike's chest. This closeness, this togetherness, it was so right and so perfect that he thought his heart would break because surely it wouldn't last. Nothing ever lasted when he got involved in it.

When Xander muttered something Spike missed it because he was concentrating too hard on committing every single detail to memory.

"Not technically what?" he whispered, pressing a tiny barely-there kiss to the top of Xander's head.

Xander was halfway to asleep, but he pulled himself back enough to answer, "Dreamed about you. Before I saw you." He listened for his boyfriend's heartbeat to lull him back into slumber...and listened...

Huh. That was weird, right? Xander pulled away just enough to press two fingertips into Spike's wrist, even though every particle of him was protesting moving a fraction of an inch away from Spike. Xan waited for the tiny throb. Huh.

He opened his eyes and blinked sleepily at Spike, too tired to get freaked out. "Am I missing something?"

Spike was almost asleep when he heard Xander say that he'd dreamed about him before opening his eyes. Out of all the people Xander could have remembered - Willow, Buffy, Giles, Jesse, his parents - Xander had remembered him. His chest swelled at the thought and he sighed happily.

The dead silence that was followed by Xander frantically pressing his fingers onto Spike's pulse point almost sent him into a panic. But he decided that it would be best to just get this bit over with, Xander would have to find out eventually anyway.

"You're missing quite a bit, luv. You know how I said Willow was a witch? Well I'm a vampire." Xander looked equal parts scared and disbelieving. "I don't feed from people any more." He added that as an afterthought and gathered Xander to him, trying to will understanding through his arms and into the boy.

What did he remember about Vampires? Bloodsuckers. Fang marks. Sunlight. Ohhhhh, so that's why he's so pale. And this explains Buffy's staking threat too.

Of course there was the mandatory second of panic, but it was as weightless as a feather and blew away as easily. Every moment in the presence of this man had only made Xander like him more, and Xander trusted him. Not to mention, he must be a good guy, if Xander had dated him before the amnesia. "Okay." he finally said, closing his eyes and snuggling back into Spike. At least he hadn't tried to hide information again. "Thanks for telling me."

Spike gaped at Xander. Who was this Xander? He'd just accepted the vampire thing without a second thought, no threat of staking, no jumping out of bed and calling the nurse, no claims of insanity. Spike's respect level jumped a notch and he held Xander closer. He reminded himself that this Xander was really the same one as the usual one, just with fewer memories. He'd never known this side of him, never guessed that inside Xander was the most trusting and sweet boy.

Spike sighed happily and rubbed his hand over Xander's back while the other ruffled his hair. He could get used to this, in fact he might already be getting used to this. And it wasn't necessarily a good thing, because if he got used to this Xander then what would he do when the other Xander came back? He shook himself and decided that he would deal with that when it happened.

"Go to sleep Xan. I'll be here when you wake up."

"Mmm." was all the reply Xander could manage. Oh yeah, this was the kind of cuddling he'd been hoping for. He unconsciously arched a little into Spike's touch as he fell asleep. Xan. He has a pet name for me. Well, of course he has a pet name for me, but I don't remember him ever using it before, so it makes me feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy. I wonder what my pet name for him was. I doubt he was born with the name Spike. Yawn. Maybe I'll ask him in the morning... One more snuggle and he was sound asleep.

Spike couldn't get to sleep and didn't quite know what to do with himself. Being so close to Xander forced him to think about the boy, and all he wanted to do was bundle him up and cuddle the stuffing out of him. Not very manly big-bad vampire thoughts. But Xander looked so pale and needy, it brought out feelings in Spike that he didn't know he still had left in him.

Sighing, he closed his eyes and concentrated on running his fingers through Xander's hair, calming him subconsciously. Before he knew it he was asleep and the only sound in the room was a deep, low purring that vibrated from Spike's chest and into Xander's, then back again.

Xander found himself sitting in a chair behind a small desk, facing a large chalk board. There was no other chairs or people in the room, and Xander checked his watch. The teacher was obviously late. In some part of his mind he knew this was a dream, but he didn't try to break free of it.

A young girl with long reddish brown hair peeked in the door. "Xander! You're late! They moved the class for today!"

"Hey Wills," Xander heard himself reply, standing and slipping on his backpack. "I figured as much when the teacher didn't show." He followed her through a maze of hallways, until he lost sight of her around a corner. Spinning around, he saw that one of the doors along the wall was open, and stuck his head inside.

It looked like the classroom he had just left, except there was a guy already sitting in the single desk, and a woman with long dark hair was drawing a diagram of river erosion on the chalkboard.

She looked up at him. "Oh hello, kitten. Lost your homework, I see. Do you need a map?"

"I'm sorry, I don't know who you are."

She smiled. "I'm Drusilla, dear boy, and you are the kitten who stole my Spike's heart." She turned back to the diagram, labeling the different parts.

"Drusilla." Xander repeated the name, trying to make sure he remembered it. He turned to the guy at the desk, who was busy trying to make a thin slice of cheese stand up on its edge. The cheese, of course, would flop over every time he let go of it.

The guy glanced up at Xander. "The cheese cannot stand alone." he stated seriously, and went back to trying to prop the cheese up on its edge.

"Really. That's important to know." Xander humored him, and left the classroom as quickly as possible.

Spike snapped upright in bed. Had Xan said Dru's name or was he imagining it? Glancing down at the boy he could tell he was dreaming by the rapid movements behind his lids. It was possible that Xander was remembering something, but why would he remember Dru first?

"Drusilla." Hearing the name again startled Spike out of his thoughts. He had no idea what to do at a time like this, didn't know if it was Xander remembering or Dru invading his dreams. A chill ran up and down his spine and Spike grasped Xander, shaking him.

"Don't warn the crickets!" Xander exclaimed, some shred of his dream vocalized by the rough awakening. Awareness began to set in. "Geez, Spike, what's with the earthquake? You're disturbing my REM cycle."

He noticed the genuine worry on Spike's face, and instantly became serious. "What's wrong?" Had the doctor stopped by with bad news while he was asleep?

Spike wasn't sure whether to be horrified or terrified. Drusilla had obviously invaded Xander's dream, but he could only guess why. Spike hoped she didn't mean any harm to this human, only he wasn't going to be examining exactly why that was.

"Sorry Xan. It's just... do you remember what you were dreaming about? Does Drusilla ring any bells?" He tried his best to ask casually, but the spark of worry sent his voice hitching.

Xander could hear the worried hitch and raised his eyebrow, but obliged and thought back. "Um... Drusilla... scary chick with long dark hair. She was a geology teacher? She asked me if I wanted a map, 'cause I lost my homework." Xander frowned. She said that I stole your heart. Was she right? She called you 'my Spike'. Who was she? Did you love her before me? "She kept calling me 'kitten'."

Spike gripped the sheets and let his head droop forward. It must have been Drusilla, but what did she want? There was nothing he could think of that she could possibly want from the boy, and it frightened him.

"Xander, can you remember anything else? It's really important that you try." Spike had a feeling that Xander wasn't telling him something.

Damn, his boyfriend was way too perceptive. And apparently really upset about this dream girl. What was the big deal if he was remembering his boyfriend's ex? Do you still love her? Are you still hers? "Um, there was a guy with cheese..." But that was obviously not what Spike was interested in. Remember, you were getting all bad moody when he was withholding info, this is no time to be a black kettle. Xander took a deep breath and said, "She called you her Spike, and said I'd stolen your heart." Xander bit his lip, confusion and worry bubbling acid in his stomach. What had happened to the happy cuddling? "Who is she, Spike?" he asked, careful to keep his emotions out of his voice.

Spike noticed Xander's agitation and without realising it began to stroke his hair again. It helped him relax.

"That was Drusilla. Xander, tell me if you ever see her again. She's a vampire love, a powerful one. Could control you if she really put her mind to it. She was my everything for the longest time. She left me, must have thought she could have gotten me any time she wagged her finger. She knows I'm over her."

Xander felt like his heart was torn out of his chest, ripped to pieces, and stomped into the ground. Spike's everything? He heard Spike say it was over, but how could something as involved as that sounded like it was just end? Damn insecurity issues. Xander knew his jealousy was baseless, but he couldn't help it. How could he ever measure up against something like that? And she was a vampire too - what if they shared some special vampire bond that he couldn't even conceive of? And the worst part was that he didn't even really know the exacts of this woman he was taking the place of, and Spike didn't seem overly eager to share. Maybe Willow can fill me in.

Spike's hand in his hair wasn't as comforting as it had been moments ago. What if he only sees this as a fling-type relationship? He's probably not looking for anything permanent after being with her for so long. And how scary is it that she could control me? She could have the power to make me do things against my will. Xander didn't dare follow that thought any more. With effort he pushed the paranoid insecurity complex away. If he didn't care about you for more than a booty call, then he wouldn't have been so nice and stayed with you, so accept his word like you've accepted everything else he's told you and stop being a stupidhead.

"So what? You think my dream was just some telepathic phone call from her to say, 'Hi, how you doin'?'"

Spike felt Xander go rigid and he thought back to what he'd said. Maybe talking about Dru had a subconscious effect on Xander, maybe without even realising who she was he knew what she was capable of. Or maybe it's because you're acting like a big sod and playing house and making him think you're... Spike didn't let his mind take him in that direction.

"Not exactly love. Dru is my sire, means she made me. I was her bitch, and maybe now... maybe now she knows that I've cut myself free. I don't need her like I used to. That's what might be setting her running. She left me, and now that I've finally moved on..."

Spike tugged Xander closer against him and sighed. Damn Dru. Why couldn't she just let him be happy?

See? He's moved on... to me. he thought, his insides melting. He let Spike tug him near and relaxed into Spike's embrace. Snarky voice number one piped up, Sure. Relax. Don't think about how your boyfriend has a territorial ex who could take over your body if she wanted to, and make you... Xander could almost feel a shaft of cool wood against his palm, could taste ash on his tongue, and he shuddered in horrified nausea. God no. Please... no. He blinked away the vision, reassuring himself with every touch between him and Spike. See? He's here. He's not dust, she didn't make you kill him, you're both safe and together.

Xander desperately wracked his brain for a new topic of conversation. "Did the doc say how long I'm stuck in this joint?"

Part Two

Spike noticed the abrupt change in conversation but he wasn't going to say anything about it. He'd get Giles to have a look into Dru later, what Xander needed now was some rest.

The doctor had said that Xander needed to be in for at least another night for observation, and after that he would need constant attention for a week or so, just to make sure the head injury wasn't worse than it had at first seemed. So who would do the constant supervision? The boy wouldn't want to stay at Buffy's, this Xander seemed to dislike her. The girls had school anyway, and Willow wouldn't want to take any time off. That left Giles, who Xander was obviously uncomfortable with. Spike made a decision.

"Another night here, then back home. But you're going to have to stay in bed." he grinned before adding, "I'll wait on you hand and foot."

Bed was fine as long as he got to keep his comfy Spike-pillow. The hand and foot comment started leading his mind into places that involved a lot more energy and a lot less clothes, but he yanked his thoughts away. There would be time for that later, right now he'd enjoy the cuddling. Tomorrow they could leave. He realized that he had no idea what home looked like. It was freaky, how he didn't even realize he'd forgotten things until he tried to think back and found a blank. "Tell me what our home looks like. We do live together, don't we? Or do you have a separate place for your coffin?"

"Oi! I don't bloody well have a coffin, I like a good bed just like any other vamp. And yeah, we're shacking up together, love." Spike smiled a little, thinking about how naive Xander sounded, wishing for a moment that he could keep Xander's memory wiped, so he wouldn't have to remember about all the people they couldn't save, all the bodies he'd seen, all the blood he'd shed.

But then the boy needed to know, needed to be kept safe. There was nothing worse than not knowing, pretending to live your life but really living a lie. No. It was good that Xander knew, that Xander fought on the good side. He was special. For every person he didn't save, ten mothers didn't have to bury their children.

Now that he thought about it, Xander-blood-Harris was a hero. And for some reason Spike had an insane urge to be a hero too.

"No coffin. Check." One of these days he'd have to quiz Spike to see how much of the vampire myth he remembered was real. Or maybe he'd do his own experiments, drop a few seeds or steal his left sock, see for himself. But even though he hated the holes in his memory, he was starting to get tired of asking questions. Feels like every time I talk it ends in a question. He'd been hoping Spike would describe their home - was it a large house, or a cozy apartment? Did they have plants? Pets? Weed growing in the basement? Books lining the shelves? Part of him wanted to be able to picture their home, fill the memory gaps with details. The other part just wanted to doze off listening to Spike's voice.

Spike smiled down at Xander's attempt to get him to elaborate. Alright. So the boy wanted to know where he lived. Might send him to sleep too, so it would be killing two birds with one stone and all.

"No coffin. But there is a highly comfortable but really ugly fold out couch. And a dead fern too." He thought about the basement, and wondered what Xander would think about still living with his parents. "It's not much, but it's home. Your folks are upstairs, but they don't come down. You've got a great tele, cable and everything. There's a rug, but it's gotten a little sticky, what with all our nights in lately."

Ugly couch and a dead fern, complete with parents. What a palace. "Sounds homey." He said, trying to sound optimistic. Maybe he could try his hand at a little redecoration. Replace the fern, reupholster the couch, clean the rug. Add a bead curtain and a disco ball - those things were snazzy. Speaking of the rug, a blush started creeping up his neck. Xander wondered if there would be any 'nights in' during his bed-confinement, and as much as he was enjoying thinking about it, the actually doing of it made him feel kind of nervous. What if he wasn't any good without his memories?

"It's not exactly homey but it's home, for now. You were looking for a good job so you could move out before all this happened. Well, you were looking for any job that didn't involve grease and cheese, really. But I reckon you could go into construction. Told you to give it a try, but you thought... well anyway. You should give it a try when we get all this sorted." Spike smiled down at Xander.

Suddenly Xander's heart rate picked up, so something had the boy a trifle worried. For some reason, he wished he could help somehow, make all this easier for Xander. Bloody hell. He was really starting to get under his skin, and Spike couldn't say he didn't like it. This playing at being friends, being nice, being close... gods but it felt good. He just hoped that Xander wouldn't stake him for it when he went back to normal.

Xander was trying to not freak over his sudden lack of experience in every department. What if he was really good before, and now he totally sucked? A visual popped into his mind and he smiled a little unconsciously. Well... maybe sucking wouldn't be so bad. He suddenly wondered if Spike was a screamer. Hell, he wondered if he was a screamer himself.

Xander sighed. This train of thought was going nowhere, just bringing up more questions. Was there any way he could subtly gauge what he'd been like before. He snuggled into Spike like a child waiting for a bedtime story. "Tell me how we met, please?"

Spike smiled down at Xander and stroked his hair. So the boy wanted to know how they met, eh? It occurred to him that Xander was probably reading into this. In fact, if he was going to be honest, then Xander thought they were a couple. Well, why the hell not? He was evil. He could have a little fun with this. It's because you have the hots for the boy. It's because he's pure and beautiful and warm. Maybe he'll fall in love with you and he won't care any more. Spike wasn't a dishonest vampire, most of the time. And he was going to stick to the truth. Maybe he could get Xan to fall in lo... into bed with him, without having to lie.

"Funny story. I was trying to kill Buffy, so to stop me Angel pretended to be Angelus and offered you to me. Had me hard for a week."

He'd figured an attempted murder was probably how a human began a relationship with a vamp. Xander felt a little thrill of pride that he'd made Spike that aroused. It must've been some meeting. And just what did 'being offered' entail? Xander swallowed hard, his head filled with images that he wasn't sure were fantasies or memories. Then he promptly fell into a hole in his memory. "Angel pretended to be Angelus?" What the hell was Spike talking about? Another person he couldn't remember?

Oh bloody hell. He kept forgetting that the boy was forgetting.

"Angel's a poof, is what he is. Long story short, Angelus was evil for years and me, him and Dru had a good time. Ate a gypsy, got cursed with a soul, became Angel and ran around brooding for a while, got with Buffy, lost the soul when they got it on, and now he's in LA and gets to brood full time."

Xander processed this new information. "He lost his soul when he had sex with Buffy?" Xander repeated, waiting for Spike's confirming nod before continuing, "And then he went to L.A. to brood." This so wasn't making sense, and for some reason Xander didn't think it was his memory deficiency that was confusing him. "Why did sex trigger it, and why did he leave and brood when he lost his soul? You'd think he'd go evil again or something. And what is a Poof? Is it kinda like a vampire?" The word Poof hadn't rung any bells in what little he remembered of myths and legends, so it was just one more thing he was forgetting. Apparently Poofs are soulless evil gypsy-eaters that like hanging around vampires, Xander thought, filing the information away.

Spike tried to fight it, tried to look fierce and mean, but the confused look on Xander's face when he'd called Angel the royal poof... he let out a chuckle, followed by another, until he was wiping tears from his eyes.

"A poof isn't really anything much. It's slang. For wearing so much hair gel you could re-sell it. Anyway, it's not important, why don't I tell you Buffy the Vampire Layer: The Story?" Spike smiled gently down at Xander who looked a little put out by all the laughing, rubbed a hand over his forehead to check for a temperature, fluffed his pillow to make sure he was comfortable, then settled back again. "When Angelus got the soul he went crazy. Ran around for a hundred years doing nothing. Then he came to Sunnyhell and met Buffy. They got hot and heavy, and when he reached a moment of perfect happiness, pop goes the soul and hello Angelus. He got his soul back after being all evil, and Buffy of course forgave him. He didn't forgive himself. So off to LA he went."

Spike gave Xander a moment to take all this in.

"Angel in the City of Angels." Xander chuckled. "Ironic. So, Angel is a vampire, which is also chock full of irony. You'd think vamps would have scary names. Angel doesn't really strike fear." Xander grinned. "Now, 'Spike' on the other hand, that's definitely an attention-grabber. Do I even want to know how you got that name?" And he'd figured he wasn't the only human to ever sleep with a vampire, but he hadn't really expected to find out that Buffy, the chicka who had a yen to murder his lover, slept with and apparently loved a vampire herself. He found himself wondering if Willow had ever tried the vampire lovin'.

Spike's good mood dissapated and he thought about what he was going to tell Xander. He didn't know that Spike was an evil, dirty bastard. He didn't know how many people Spike had needlessly killed just for the hell of it. He was aware that Spike had obviously murdered, but he wasn't even close to knowing the extent. And for some crazy reason, rather than rant and rave about killings past, Spike suddenly wished he could erase that bit of himself. He didn't want to be the soulless, evil killer. He wanted to be some guy who just happened to have a sun allergy and pointy teeth.

"It's a long story. But I earned it Xan, I earned it." Spike was afraid to look down at Xander and see the disappointment. He couldn't believe that he wasn't lying about this. What the hell had happened to him?

Xander heard the sad seriousness in Spike's voice, and mentally backed away from that topic. I might be taking the easy way out, but ignorance can be bliss, and I've got every right to be ignorant at the moment. Time for a topic change. Or, really, time to get the topic back on track. "You were telling me how we met. Why didn't you kill me right away? How did we become friends?"

Spike thought about it for a second. "Well the first night, Angel double crossed me, so there wasn't really much time." He considered telling Xander how much he'd wanted to just take him, to ravage him and drown in him and never let him go, but he wasn't even admitting that to himself yet. "After that I left town, didn't come back for a while. When I did... I was broken. And you..." the truth "And you hated me. You hate me."

Okay. No real surprise there. Spike said himself that he'd been trying to kill Buffy, who apparently was a close personal friend, no matter how hard it was for Xander to accept it. So it was understandable that he'd be disliking him. But something big must've happened, must've changed for Spike to be so nice and be all pillow-fluffer and everything, and for Xander to feel so at ease with him. He reached up a hand, fingertips following the curve of hair behind Spike's ear. "Maybe I hated you before, don't remember. Makes sense, hating someone who tried to kill a friend. Don't hate you at this particular second, though." Might even be in love with you, but I don't think I'm ready to say that, not so soon.

Spike's heart shuddered in his chest and he was humiliated to find his eyes getting wet. Damn, but Xander had no idea what he was doing, what he was saying. Because all Spike had ever wanted was for someone to forget about everything they knew about him, to take him as he came. He wasn't a monster and he wasn't evil and he wasn't Spike and he wasn't William. He was just... just himself. And he was ashamed and sad and lost and lonely Gods he was lonely. And Xander had just so sweetly and innocently tumbled into this thing.

"When the Initiative got me I wanted to just die. They stuck a chip in my brain, it stopped me from harming humans. Stopped me from feeding. I thought... I thought maybe someone would help me. But the people I came to for help passed me around like a sack of potatoes. Then you took me in and sometimes I almost thought we were friends."

"There. See?" Xander smiled. "I wouldn't have taken you in if I hated you." Probably just a tough-guy act, or maybe he'd still been in the closet at that point and hiding behind macho masculinity. Was that how they'd become lovers? Roommates who spent enough time together to find someone worth loving in each other. "Who's 'the initiative'? Some secret vampire-hater cult?"

"Part of the military, actually. Super secret. Run around experimenting on demons. They poked around in my head and they put that thing in me... Christ Xan, I can't even bump into people without getting a migraine. And I was one of the lucky ones." Spike sighed and thought about all the fantasies he had about wiping out the initiative, making sure than no demon ever had to handle that shit again. "I used to kill things. But they... they torture. No demon would be as evil as they were."

Mmmm. Nothing like a good old-fashioned government conspiracy theory. Xander could easily imagine a secret government lab, all sorts of fantastical creepy crawlies that go bump in the night, safely tucked away in cages with their own ID numbers. He hugged Spike tight for a moment, wishing he could relieve some of the pain he knew Spike had endured. "I'm so sorry."

Spike squeezed Xander tightly to him and sniffed at his hair. He was going to have to remember this, so he committed every detail to memory. Damn it, but he may have a crush on Xander. Oh gods, he was in trouble now. But the gentle soapy smell of Xander's hair, and the soft feeling of his skin beneath Spike's fingertips, and the gush of his breath on Spike's neck... he could get used to this. "No worries love. I'm going to track down every last one and rip out their intestines, even if it kills me."

The thought of Spike killing didn't squick him, which was strange. But then again, they hurt his lover, so maybe Spike wouldn't mind if he helped out a little with the intestine pulling when the time came. Xander yawned, not even realizing how tired he'd become or when his eyelids started drooping. He closed his eyes, happy to be in Spike's arms. "What do my parents think of us?"

Spike curled his fingers through Xander's hair, coaxing him into sleep. "They don't even know I exist." he whispered, gently rubbing circles on Xander's back. He'd had enough new information for the night, and the droopy eyes were enough to tell Spike he was desperately overdue for some shut-eye.

Xander slipped into slumber, knowing he'd be safe with Spike next to him. Everything was happening so fast that a bit of rest would be a welcome break. He slept deeply without dreams this time, unconsciously snuggling closer to Spike while he slept. Morning would come too soon, so Xander enjoyed this quiet time with him while it lasted.

Spike had been awake for hours just watching Xander sleep. He'd looked so peaceful and at rest that he wanted to remember it. Because once he was out of hospital and back to being a Scooby Xander wouldn't have time for rest and sleep and looking that fuckin peaceful. He probably wouldn't have time for Spike either. So these memoryless moments were to be treasured and remembered. Spike didn't think they were going to last much longer.

Xander slept, drifting, wrapped in comfort and happiness like a large warm soft blanket. Random things crossed his mind but he let them pass, not wanting to spend energy to concentrate just yet. That's what tomorrow was for.


"Tulips? What about them, Xan?" Spike stroked Xander's hair back from the face as his eyelashes fluttered against his cheeks. Xander was a strange and funny boy sometimes.

Xander's eyes fluttered open, and he smiled sleepily at Spike. "Two lips." he murmured, his fingertips coming up to brush across Spike's lips. Xander's mind woke up and he froze, mid-stroke. Oh, no. Had he just crossed a line he shouldn't have? He couldn't deny that kissing Spike had been one of his first thoughts when he woke up, but he was afraid that maybe he was moving too fast, wanting too much too soon. Afraid that Spike would reject him.

Spike was frozen in place with Xander's finger resting against his lips. Well, this was new. His eyes closed of their own accord and someone was letting out a soft murmur of appreciation. Oh. That was him. "Xan?" he whispered, careful not to dislodge the finger. "Are you..."

Oh, God. Xander trembled when he felt Spike's lips move. Was he what? About to lose control and do something phenomenally stupid or earth-shatteringly good like kiss those lips? Probably, yeah. He just hoped it wouldn't totally screw up the friendship that was flourishing between them. He didn't think he could bear it if Spike turned down his advances. The split second of doubt was almost enough to make him not risk everything.

Oh, fuck it. Xander closed the little space between them and softly kissed Spike.

Spike's world was a blank. Thoughts swam in and out as his mind tried to catch up to his lips. Which were at this very moment mashed against Xander's, trying desperately to climb inside through his mouth.

"Xander. Oh Xan... Gods..." He wanted to say something, wanted to somehow let Xander know that he was being torn apart, that he was exploding.

He couldn't stop long enough to even form a mental sentence, because Xander's lips tasted like fire and burned like the sun. Every movement was in slow motion, every brush of Xander's tongue against his was magnified and amplified and it was all Spike could do not to rip himself apart because this was too much. He'd never felt this before, not ever. Not with Dru, not with Angel, not with anyone. Xander's lips were bringing him back to life, were making his heart beat again, were making him gasp for breath.

"Xander. Please." He didn't even know what he wanted, but the feeling that he was combusting had him shuddering and shaking and pressing himself against the boy, wanting to pound himself so deep that Xander would never be clean of his scent. His demon was raging.

Tell me...Oh Spike.... again what I was... god, yes, right there... so worried about? Xander thought to himself. He hadn't noticed anybody toss him in a vat of ice water and then electrocute him in the last few moments, but that's what he felt like. Tremors were radiating from his mouth through his body, and every place their bodies touched tingled. Earth-shattering, oh yeah, and his entire body was quivering with the aftershocks.

"Spike." Xander moaned, arching into him, Spike's shudders vibrating into Xander and bouncing back, growing in intensity. One hand was threaded into Spike's hair, tugging gently at the roots and massaging his scalp while the other was running down his spine, pausing at the waist of his black jeans before slipping under Spike's shirt and caressing the small of his back.

This felt so good, so right. How could he ever have doubted it?

Xander's hands on him made Spike so hungry he didn't know if he could hold himself back. how did... where did he... was he going to... oh gods... Coherent sentences wouldn't form and Spike didn't know what he would say if they did.

His entire being was on fire from the boy, everything about him was screaming that this was right, this was perfect, this was where he was supposed to be. He'd been so stupid, because it was this that he had needed all along. He didn't think he'd ever need anything again as long as Xander's mouth didn't. Ever. Stop. Xander his entire body was moaning the name. He'd never thought that it would be like this, never suspected anything to ever feel this good. A hundred years and a hundred partners and none of them had literally blown his mind before.

"Xander." He knew he sounded needy and desperate, but he was going insane and in a sudden moment of clarity he realised that he needed them both to be naked. "Xander. Gods, Xander. Clothes. Off. Now." he was practically growling but he didn't care.

Xander's head jerked and Spike realised with a start that his lips were bleeding. His eyes rolled back in his head and the demon raged to the surface. Xander's blood.

ohgodohgodohgodohgod, Xander chanted, drowning in the sensations. His own name that he hadn't even recognized yesterday had now become a prayer, a plea, a word of power that broke him apart and made him new every time it escaped Spike's lips.

"Spike," he groaned, willing and ready to obey Spike's command, but... Shit. Hospital. We can't... not here... But he didn't want to stop kissing Spike, didn't want to stop touching him, stop hearing Spike's warm honey gasps and moans. A snippet of Yoda's advice drifted through his memory, Control, control, you must learn control. And even though every fiber in his being was protesting, he knew he had to stop. This wasn't the right place, they had to wait. He had to figure out some way for them to regain control, until they could find a place to lose it again.

He was never going to stop if Spike kept kissing him like that. Quick, like pulling off a band-aid. One, two, three! Xander jerked his head away from Spike, his breath coming in short, shallow gasps. He bit his lip, hard, hoping the pain would clear his head a little, but he overestimated and his teeth tore into the tender flesh of his lower lip. Blood pooled up and Spike made a sound, somewhere between a purr and a growl. Shit. Blood. Vampire. Not good. Xander's eyes widened as Spike pounced, pressing him hard into the bed while licking and sucking the blood from his lip. Xander writhed, unable to keep from rubbing against Spike, yearning for friction.

The gold glittering eyes were different, as were the ridges that had appeared on Spike's forehead. Curious, Xander slipped his tongue inside Spike's mouth and ran it along one of his fangs. Oh yeah, those babies were wicked sharp. Xander whimpered as the razor edge of Spike's fang cut into his tongue. So good... can't stop...

Spike didn't have enough hands, because he needed to touch Xander everywhere at once and he couldn't and that drove him insane even further. How could he have not known the boy was this passionate before? How could he not have seen this pure fire bubbling just below the surface? Now that he'd had a taste he couldn't get enough, couldn't pull away, and growled in frustration when Xander yanked his head back.

His eyes glowed golden and he was just about to say something when he recognised the smell. Blood. Xander was bleeding. From his lips. He lost all control. The pounce on top of Xander was heavier than he meant it to be. When his tongue found that perfect little stream of blood, Spike thought he was going to dust just from the heat of it. Gently, afraid it was all a dream and wanting it to last, Spike ran his tongue along Xander's split lip.

"Oh. Oh Xan." It was a prayer. He was worshipping Xander. Because no human could possibly taste this good, and Spike couldn't get enough. His hands came around Xander's face to keep him from leaving again, and he pressed into the boy hard, rubbing himself all over him, wanting his scent marking him. Gods, marking him? Am I a fledge?

Xander was suddenly grinding up against Spike and running his tongue along his fangs. "Xander... Gods... Driving me... insane." And suddenly blood erupted onto his tongue, and Spike was going to do something embarrassing because it felt too good, felt like he was alive, tasted so perfect...

Spike's eyes flashed yellow before rolling back in his head, and the moaned Xander was so harsh that he knew it was the demon calling.

Okay. Forget what he'd said. Blood plus vampire equaled very good, if the delicious noises Spike was making were any indication. Xander would have preened over how much he was affecting Spike, except Spike was having the same affect on him. "Black pottley kettle." Xander mumbled around kisses. Spike was driving him insane with those hands and that tongue and that voice. Speaking of hands...

"Spike!" Xander cried out, muffled by Spike's mouth covering his. They really had to stop. Any of the hospital staff or his supposed friends could walk in any second, and Xander didn't really feel much like an exhibitionist. But being so close to Spike, touching him and being touched in return was rapidly shutting down his higher brain functions, and losing control was looking better every second.

What the hell. What were the chances of anyone walking in and disturbing them in the next few hours? Mineswell have a little fun... Xander was pulling at Spike's shirt, trying to get it off when there was a knock.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the knob turn, and the door start to open.

Spike was going to bugger the chip and kill whoever was at the door because oh godgodgod I am now a worshiper at the shrine of Xander Xander had the hottest lips ever. Seeing Willow's perky little half-smile didn't help matters. Especially when that perky little half-smile turned into a mouthed "oh", then a slammed door and a knock.

"Gee Red, please, do come in. No need to knock," Spike grunted sarcastically.

Willow stuck her head around the door again, eyes squeezed shut. "Is it okay to look? Because I can totally not look. Didn't see a thing. This is me, not looking, because seeing would be bad." She was babbling and it worked a little of the tension out of Spike.

"What the bloody hell you want, Witch?" Well, maybe he was still a little on the grumpy side. Couldn't blame him, really.

"Just came to see how Xander was doing, thought I might keep him company. Only you're keeping him company. With your tongue. Not that I saw anything!" Willow's gaze darted from Spike to Xander. "So Xander, how are you feeling? And nice to see Spike's tongue has been such good company."

Xander grinned, blushing a little. Really horrible timing, but it was probably for the best. "I'm feeling fine, Wills." he said, using the nickname from his dream. "Spike's tongue, and all his other body parts, have been very good company. Is there any news?"

"The doctor said that you could go home in a few hours. We tried to get you released now, while it's still daylight, but they have all this red tape and policies and stuff." Willow glanced at Spike. "Sunset we're going after the rest of the Bronicthal demons that attacked Xander yesterday. Will you be able to get him home safe?"

Spike was surprised that Willow hadn't made a bigger deal out of the whole tonsil searching he'd been doing, but decided she probably didn't want to upset Xander in his condition.

"I'll get Xander home and in bed. Lots of rest. Plenty of fluids," he replied, eager for her to leave so he could pick up where he'd left off.

"Oh, I'm sure he'll get plenty of fluids." Spike almost blushed at her stern look. "Just make sure they're the right kind. Because I have a shovel at home with your name on it Spike."

Xander leaned a little closer to his vampire. Don't worry, I'll protect you from the mean ol'witch. He was sure he must look a sight: flushed face, kiss-swollen lips, disheveled hair, and hospital gown askew.

"Hey, Willow?" Xander asked, "Mind getting me some clothes, please?" Not that he was at all anxious to be putting anything between him and Spike, but the errand might buy them a little more time to enjoy Spike's parts. Especially his tongue.

Willow nodded. "They're on their way. You have ten minutes before Buffy gets here." Stern look again, still directed at Spike. "Try not to get caught in a compromising position."

Xander flopped back in the bed and groaned unhappily. He might've still been able to make out with Spike in front of Willow, but there was no way he'd get away with it in front of Buffy. No amount of big words or fancy speeches would stop her from dusting Spike if she got pissed.

"Why don't I just step outside and get myself something to drink." Spike muttered, then wished he could kick himself. Smooth Spike, get something to drink when all you drink is blood. When Xander looked alarmed, he raised his hands in defeat. "Bagged, not human." He was so well trained it almost made him sick. But then Xander blew him a little kiss and Spike decided that maybe being trained wasn't the worst thing that could happen to him.

As soon as Spike walked out of the room, Willow rounded on Xander with resolve face firmly in place. Her face softened when she took in Xander's disappointed look.

"Xander I know there's something going on between you two. I mean, obviously what with the tonsil hockey and the..." Willow cleared her throat and turned a rather bright shade of red. "You've had something brewing, I've seen the way you two have looked at each other for months now, even before the amnesia thing. And I can handle it, sort of, in the kill-him-with-a-shovel kind of way. But I think you should slow things down. I don't want you getting hurt, and you don't even remember half the stuff that's happened so you can't possibly be making educated decisions here. Just slow down. I know Spike is manly and hot with his rudeness and his badness, but I just want you to think before you do anything you'll regret."

Xander sat up in bed and nodded, considering what Willow said. From Willow's intervention, to Buffy's reaction to them touching, Xander gathered that they must've been keeping their relationship secret for a while. Not very well, if Willow had been noticing looks, but enough so that no one knew they were already together.

"But that's where you're wrong, Willow." Xander said. Calm, collected, adult voice, check. "I don't remember any of the stuff that's happened, but I'm not retarded. I can make educated decisions. In fact, the amnesia only helps me to make an unbiased decision. And I'm not being drawn in by his rudeness and badness - he hasn't been rude or bad at all. He's been sweet and kind and caring and thoughtful and nice, and there's no way I can regret loving such a good man, vampire or not." Shit! I said that I loved him! Let's hope Wills didn't notice that part. "Thank you for caring enough to worry, but I'll be all right. From what Spike has told me, we live in a world full of vampires and demons, and we fight to save people. Risking death is nothing new. But I can't slow down. I was really hurt during whatever gave me amnesia - what if next time I'm killed?" Cue sad puppy-eyes. "Please, Willow. Let me have this bit of happiness while I can. I promise I won't be mad at you after I get my memories back."

Willow sighed in resignation at the look on Xander's face. Just as she suspected, there had been something going on before Xander's amnesia. She hated it when he didn't tell her this stuff.

"Okay Xander, it's your life. But I just... I just wish you'd told me. I would have been worried, sure, I would have tried to tell you how crazy you were, but in the end I would have just accepted it. Because you're my best friend, all I want is for you to be happy. And if loving Spike makes you happy then love him. Just don't do it in secret."

Spike stood frozen outside the door. Did he just hear... did Xander say... and then Willow said... Oh. Gods.

Spike wasn't sure what to do or say in response to that. The whelp loved him after what, all of five seconds of memories? Now that he thought about it, it made him angry that Xander could only admit it, could only feel it, when he had no idea about Spike's history. Why should it matter, when he had changed now? Why could Xander only feel okay sharing himself when he didn't know the whole story?

But then Willow's babble calmed him a little, and her acceptance stunned him, but most of all her deduction that Xander had felt that way for a while shocked him. Could it be true?

Spike schooled his features to neutral and walked back into the room. Xander's pale face was enough to have him rushing to his side and slapping a hand onto his head.

"Taking your temperature. Hold still."

"Why does everyone tacitly accept the hand-over-forehead test as medically reliable?" Xander grinned, happy that Spike was back and touching him, happy that Willow accepted their relationship, happy that he'd be leaving the hospital soon. Taking care to not hold still, he squirmed and pulled until he ended up with a lap full of Spike. See, Willow? Not gonna keep it a secret anymore. And in full view of the redhead, he started licking Spike's lips, trying to tease Spike into responding.

Spike squeaked and jerked his head away. Was the boy insane? Had he gone crazy?

"Xan, I mean this is the nicest possible way, but are you on drugs?" He looked on wide-eyed when Xander just took that as more incentive. Damn it, but he was a vampire! He wasn't used to resisting these kinds of blatant come-ons! In fact, if Xander insisted on doing that with his lips, then it would be his own fault when Willow killed them both.

Spike gave in and stopped trying to avoid Xander's lips.

Xander almost giggled at Spike's startlement. Bad and rude my ass. He's about as rude as a kitten, especially with that bit of fluffy hair sticking up from either sleeping or making out. And whatd'ya know? Guess I am a little bit of an exhibitionist. Xander continued his ministrations until his boyfriend started returning the kiss. Hey, maybe we'll have time to get into a compromising position before Buffy gets here. Show Will how not-secret-having I can be. A mental picture of Buffy's face if she walked in on them made Xander chuckle, and his body started shaking with mirth while he slipped his tongue inside Spike's mouth.

The world disappeared again and all Spike could think about was how good Xander tasted, how warm he was, how much he loved being here and how afraid he was at what he was feeling.

Just as Spike thought he was about to drown, Xander began laughing. Obviously Xander hadn't been enjoying this as much as he had.

Spike pulled away and nibbled on Xander's ear. He'd just have to make it harder for Xander. "What are you laughing at, boy? You think this is funny?" he was whispering and nibbling and licking at the same time. "Because I am going to eat you up."

Willow's eyes flashed and she jumped up from the chair. "Well I'd better go now! Have to find the others, make sure they know where you are. I'll knock when I'm back. Really loud. Oh gods, umm, just..." Her eyes squeezed shut and she slammed the door on her way out.

"You are a cruel cruel boy, Xan," he grinned then nipped at his ear again. "That's why I love you."

The change from amused to aroused was like the flicking of a lightswitch. The moment Spike started doing wicked things to his ear, he became a warm and moaning puddle of Xander-goo. Oh yeah, missed this. The - what? Ten minutes? - without it was wayyy too long.

Then there was the ice-water feeling again, but it was different than the last time. "You... you love me?" Xander whispered, his heart choking his throat, half afraid he'd been hallucinating Spike's casually dropped comment. He loves me? The thought blew his mind, made him feel like the floor was gone and he was falling. He was dizzy, ecstatic, scared, jubilant. He felt like a firecracker right after explosion, all blinding glittering light.

Holy mother of crap. Had he said that, had he really opened his big fat mouth and said it? More importantly, had he meant it?

Spike thought about it for a moment, considered what he'd been feeling. Before this amnesia thing, they'd been friends for a while. And when Xander got hurt... Spike shook himself. Okay. So he'd been having lusty thoughts about Xander for ages - he was a virile healthy vampire, for crying out loud! But he'd also been having fluffy feelings, the same ones that snagged at his heart when he'd seen Xander pale as a sheet. He wanted to protect Xander. Although he'd probably need the most protection from me. So he guessed it was love. But was he going to tell Xander this, when he was going to get his memory back and start hating him again? Was he going to let the boy taunt him with it for the rest of his miserable unlife?

"Ah. Yes?" Sometimes his mouth and his brain weren't connected.

Prickling sensation, and Xander blinked. Not going to cry. Nope, not me. He couldn't describe the pure and utter joy that was swelling his heart. He kissed Spike slowly, gently, before pulling back to look in his eyes. "I love you, too." he said solemnly.

"Fuck Xan." Spike didn't stop to think about the wonderful feeling in his belly from hearing those words finally directed at him. "You don't love me, you don't even remember me, you don't even know that you like me! You can't just say something like that and... and..." Spike paused and swiped at the tears threatening to fall from his eyes. "You can't just say it and not mean it, not properly."

His heart was breaking and he couldn't take this any more, couldn't pretend or lie to himself.

Xander almost flinched at the raw pain in Spike's voice. "I do mean it." he replied firmly. "Properly, knowingly, whole-heartedly, and any other -ly you wanna tack on there. I may not remember every sordid detail of our pasts, but I do know you. The kindness you have shown me tells me all I need to know about your heart." His hands were shaking with the depth of his emotions, and he brushed Spike's cheek with a thumb. "I love you."

Spike didn't know what to say. He knew that Xander couldn't understand what he was doing to him. His heart was threatening to pop right out of his chest and he hated not knowing for sure. For the first time since this all began he wished Xander would have his memory back, just so he'd be able to tell him straight.

"Xander, I..." Spike began. He was just about to tell him how he felt, explain it all.

The door burst open and Buffy looked like she was about to get staking. Willow kept tugging at her sleeve and Giles was frowning.

"It's not like that, come on Buffy, let's go and get you a coffee!" Willow's voice quivered and Spike was getting a little freaked out.

Not as compromising a position as I'd hoped, and that look isn't as funny as I thought it would be. Does she have to make a dramatic entrance every single time? She must be majorly athletic to be strong enough to slam the door open like that. Xander glanced at Spike, We're going to continue this conversation later, buster, and hopefully by then I'll have found a way to shove my love through your thick skull. Bastard. Smile. Love him.

He sighed, facing the intruders. "Greetings and salutations Willow, Rupert. Buffy." He nodded at each of them when he said their names. "I have an announcement to make. I love Spike." Oh yeah, that was plenty to stop Buffy and Rupert in their tracks, shocked. No more hiding, right, Willow? And maybe the fun scary public confession will knock some sense into Spike.

Xander's gaze landed on a package Giles was carrying, and his eyes lit up. "Ooo! Clothes!" Finally. He was getting sick of this hospital robe.

"He doesn't mean... that is to say... He's been hit on the head!" Spike wasn't sure whether he was going to kill Xander or kiss him. He thought he was being cute, but damn it he liked his manly bits attached and his chest unstaked.

Spike pinched Xander beneath the covers and smiled in an obviously fake way. "Doesn't know what he's saying. Completely out of it! Aren't you Xander?" Spike gave Xander a long and meaningful look that said please just smile and nod because I don't want Buffy to kill me when I can't even put up a fight.

Xander's smile told Spike that he hadn't got the message.

"Nope." Xander smiled at Spike. Tell me what I have to do to prove my love for you, and I'll do it. "I know exactly what I'm saying."

"See, Giles? I told you Spike put a spell on him!" Buffy exclaimed when she finally got over the shock. Rupert was busy cleaning his glasses. Xander thought about making out with Spike in front of them - maybe it'd make Buffy and Rupert leave like Willow had earlier. Then again, Buffy seemed unusually violent for a girl of her size, so there was the chance it would piss her off enough to head for the curtains or a bit of wood, whichever was closer.

"You think that because I love Spike, I must be under a spell?" Xander said. "Do you even have eyes? Look at him." At which point Xander took the opportunity to leer appreciatively at his boyfriend. "He's compact, but well muscled. And maybe he's an evil vampire, but you should see him naked. I mean, really." Xander finished with an evil glint in his eye. Yeah, maybe he hadn't yet had the chance to see Spike sans clothes, but he hoped he would in the near future. And maybe if Buffy thought they'd already had hot naked sweaty fun, she'd be less inclined to interfere - damage was already done, and all that rot.

Spike looked around the room and swallowed nervously. Buffy looked murderous. Giles seemed to be holding himself back from something. Xander was grinning happily at him from his spot on the bed. And he was so staked!

"You took advantage of Xander while he was sick?" Buffy took a step forward. "You've convinced him he loves you?" If looks could kill, Spike would be half way to Hell by now. "And you made him see you naked?" Before he could blink she was pinning him to the ground and looking deadly.

Okay, so maybe he'd miscalculated on the whole "damage is already done" theory. "Hey! There was no making of seeing or advantage taking!" Shit. He had to break this up and Willow and Rupert were looking too shocked and angered by his naked comment to be of any help. Here goes nothing.

Xander rolled and fell off the bed, this is so gonna hurt, aiming at the spot where Buffy had pinned down Spike. She was pulling out a stake at the moment of impact, and his momentum was enough to knock her off of Spike. Xander hit the floor and lay gasping in pain, lying between Spike and Buffy. Bad idea. It worked, but owwwww...

"Please try to remember, Buffy, that I have amnesia. I am not retarded. I am fully able to make logical decisions and deal with the consequences of my actions."

If Spike's unlife hadn't been flashing before his eyes at the sight of a stake getting intimately acquainted with his chest, he would have seen Xander pull that stunt. Damn it, did the boy think he was unbreakable? He pushed Buffy away and scrambled to Xander's side, pushing his hair back and checking for any obvious injuries.

"Geez Xander, are you bloody fuckin' insane? Are you okay? Come here." He grabbed Xander around the waist and hoisted him back up onto the bed.

Xander smiled a little. Spike was touching him again and wasn't currently dust - that was worth a little searing pain, wasn't it? "Not insane... seemed logical... at the time." Xander explained, still breathing a little hard and wincing. Damn floor. Damn Buffy for being stake-happy, and damn himself for getting knocked out and into the hospital in the first place. He rubbed his arm where it had slammed against the floor, trying the work the pain away. Noticing Spike's half worried half angry expression, Xander shrugged. "Consequence of my actions. I'll deal."

Xander glanced at Buffy who had by this time gotten back to her feet. "Do I really need to go through the entire speech from your last visit, Buffy? 'Cause it all still applies."

Spike's undead heart felt like it was about to jump out of his chest and start tapdancing on the floor. He couldn't leave the boy alone for a second without cushioning the room. Sure, Xander was concerned, but he could defend himself, he could keep Buffy at bay.

"Xan, as much as I appreciate the life risking, mind warning me next time you take a dive off the bed? I'll send Buffy to cushion your fall."

Xander laughed. "And keep me and the floor from our intimate interludes? How will I ever survive?" You'll survive quite well, the pain throbbing in various parts of his body assured him.

Over Spike's shoulder, Xander could see Buffy scowling as she looked from him to Spike and back again. "I don't like this at all." she muttered, but at least the stake had disappeared into her pocket again.

"I'm not asking you to like it." Xander replied. "Just stop condemning it."

Buffy let out a low growl. "Xander, you don't know what you're doing. This is Spike.."

Spike growled right back again. The way Buffy said it, he felt like he was something dirty and disgusting. He may not have been the world's best person. But dammit, he liked Xan, maybe kind of sort of cared about him, wanted to take care of him. It wasn't fair that his feelings counted for less.

I swear. One more thinly-veiled insult at Spike and I'm calling hospital security to kick her ass out. Sigh. "Again, I'm not retarded. I do know what, and who, I'm doing. I hate to go all Disney on you, but if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all, okay?"

Huh. He could remember Disney. Xander searched the snippets that were slowly starting to come back to him, trying to recall as much as possible. Bambi was a deer, who was friends with a rabbit and a timid but friendly skunk with the bluest eyes... Xander's gaze caught on Spike's eyes and he stared for a moment, awed. Flower. Pretty flower. Which was weird, how right it felt, considering Tuuuuuulips.

Damn, this was not the right time to collapse into a fit of giggles.

Part Three

Spike could almost see the cogs turning in Xander's brain. He must be remembering, but Spike wasn't sure if it was a happy occasion or not, he dreaded what Xander would say when he remembered everything about Spike.

"What are you remembering Xan?" he whispered so only Xander could hear.

He's gonna laugh, he's gonna point, throw back his head, and say 'Ha ha!' Xander thought to himself. He briefly considered fibbing or going with the ever popular answer of 'nothing', but he couldn't lie to Spike. "Bambi." he admitted reluctantly.

Now that he thought about it though, it really did make sense. Spike was like Flower. Flower might be a skunk, but it was mostly all just a bad rep - he was sweet and kind and loving on the inside. And not to mention Spike's hair did sorta look like a rumpled dandelion. Geez, what's with all the flower references?

Spike smiled and gave Xander's hand a squeeze. He could tell that Xander was apprehensive, probably thought he was going to make fun of him. Little did Xander know that Spike had cri... err... gotten something in his eye when Bambi's mum had died. They'd been watching Disney movies for a few weeks now, partly as a dare and partly because Disney was quality entertainment. So sure, Ariel's ample attributes were pretty damn memorable.

"Makes sense you'd remember Disney! But I thought Twinkies would be higher on your list."

Twinkies? Xander frowned, trying to remember, but there was nothing. He had no idea what Spike was talking about. And how come it makes sense to him? It still doesn't really make sense to me, why I'm remembering Disney. No fair.

"As intriguing as it would be to find out exactly what you do and don't remember, I'm afraid dusk is near and it's time for us to be off." Giles interrupted. He handed Xander the bundle of clothes and sent a quick Ripper-glare at Spike, to make sure he behaved. "We can trust you to make sure Xander makes it home safely, I presume?" The 'or else' warning was crackling like lightning behind Giles' eyes.

Spike's eyes flared and he gave Giles an extra evil glare. "I'll take care of him," he growled.

"Good." Giles replied. "We have to go, but Xander, if he so much as touches you, all you have to do is call."

"If I touch him Rupes, it's not your name he'll be calling." The look of disgust on Giles' face was worth its weight in gold.

Xander shivered in delight. Come on, Spike. They're leaving, so play nice, or else they may just decide that staying here would be a better use of their time.

"Don't worry, Rupert. I'll be fine. If I need you I'll call." Except I don't know your phone number and I haven't a clue where any phones are or if you have to dial nine or something to call outside the hospital. But I'll probably be too busy making out with Spike to call you. At least I hope that's in my near future.

Xander pasted on a smile and waved a little as Willow, Giles, and Buffy started to leave.

Spike was frustrated and angry and a whole bunch of other things he didn't care to think about. Why did they get to him so much? Why did he let them bother him? They didn't understand him and never would, so why did Spike keep on hoping they'd suddenly turn around and be nice for once?

He shook his head to clear it and grabbed Xander's hand. "How do you feel about leaving in about ten minutes? Sun's almost down, then I can get you home safe and sound." He smiled reassuringly, trying his best to make it reach his eyes. He didn't want Xander to think he was a ponce.

Alone again at last. Xander smiled shyly right back at Spike. "Sounds like a plan."

Xander enjoyed the feel of Spike's hand in his own, and nervously excited butterflies were doing the macarena in his stomach. And hey, lookie, their hands were in the right position for his thumb to stroke oh-so-casually against Spike's palm. "I can't wait to get home." his voice was quiet, with an edge of seduction in it. Not too much, or he'll think you're easy, but enough to let him know you're... wanting.

Spike was lulled into a deep calm by Xander's stroking of his palm when he heard the faintly suggestive come-on. He grinned at Xander and squeezed his hand again.

"Are you coming on to me pet?" His eyes were flecked with gold at the thought. Somewhere along the line Xander had become the most desirable man in the world to Spike. Huh.

He leered at Xander, just to let him know he was joking.

Xander blushed a little, but didn't stop stroking. "Maybe." he said after a heartbeat. Good things come to those who make 'em happen. Xander shot a crooked grin at Spike. "Is it working?"

Spike's eyes shot open and he grinned down at Xander.

"Never knew you to be this forward, pet. But yeah, I think it might be." He took a deep but useless breath and leaned forward, his lips hovering over Xander's. "What is it exactly that you want?"

Xander nearly groaned when he felt Spike's breath ghost over his lips. His body trembled, but his voice remained steady. "Funny, that. Can't seem to remember at the moment." Time to raise the stakes. Let's hope this works...

Xander leaned in slightly, halving the distance between his lips and Spike's, but still leaving the tiniest space between them. "Why don't you show me what you've got, and I'll let you know if I like it?" Xander challenged.

So Xander was playing games, was he? Spike was never one to back down, especially when they were playing for such deliciously high stakes. So he leaned forward and grinned evilly before claiming Xander's lips.

Oh Gods, so much better than I remembered it.

He stopped thinking when Xander's tongue snuck out to meet his.

Mmmmm... like this. Like this very much. Please, sir, can I have some more? Xander's thoughts were rambling off, but his body was much more focused on the present. One hand reached up and behind Spike's neck, pulling him closer, deeper into the kiss.

Damn. Need air. Xander broke away, breath coming in shallow gasps. "Good. I like. What else've you got?"

Spike shook his head to clear it and set his jaw in what he thought was a bit of a good copy of Willow's resolve face.

"Nothing until we get you home, in bed and with a mug of tea." The boy was turning him inside out and he needed some time to think. Oh, and Xander needed to get home and start remembering, because there were some questions Spike wanted to ask him and needed informed answers to.

No! Not like! Don't wanna stop! Xander pouted, but it didn't look like Spike was going to give in. I thought vamps were all into instant gratification. Y'know - want, take, have. Xander sighed, giving in. He'd change into his clothes, check out of the hospital, and then they'd head back to the dingy basement with a sticky rug and a dead fern. And maybe there'd be a possibility of making the rug stickier.

Xander opened the bag of clothes and pulled out a clean dark green t-shirt and jeans, and his wallet. Xander bit his lip as his thoughts whirled. It seemed kind of rude to ask Spike to turn around while he changed, but it seemed worse to ask him to leave the room, considering Spike had probably seen him naked lots of times before the amnesia, and they'd been pretty frisky after the amnesia. Besides, his head still swam a little from both of his impacts with the floor, and he wasn't sure he could get dressed by himself. But maybe it was going a little too fast just to strip down in front of Spike after he'd firmly said 'stop'. Seconds ticked by as Xander tried to make a decision.

Xander looked uncomfortable for a moment and his heart rate picked up, and Spike was concerned. Had the boy changed his mind? Did he want to call the others back and go home with them?

He bit his lip and tried to sound confident, and why the bloody hell was it so hard? "You okay pet? Need me to get you anything?" He got up and started rifling through Xander's bedside drawers. Probably best to pack up for the boy now and let him do the particulars later. He turned back around just in time to see Xander bite his lip and look determined about something. Huh. Wonder what's got him looking so perplexed.

"Everything okay there, Xan pet?" he asked again, not even noticing the endearment slip in.

"Everything's fine, Spike. Would you mind checking with the nurse, seeing if there's anything I need to sign for them to release me?" Wimp! Xander's inner voice chided, but he ignored it. He stuffed the clothes back in the bag and tucked it under his arm as he slid his legs over the side of the bed. Best make a trip to the bathroom and get a little cleaned up before dressing.

Ahh so the boy doesn't want to get naked in front of me. Better off that way, or we'd never leave.

Spike walked out and signed all the forms that needed signing at the front desk. He gave Xander a few moments, then opened the door to the private room to see if Xander needed any help.

Huh. He was met by the sight of Xander hopping into a pair of pants with his bare butt completely on show. Huh.

Xander spent a long time in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at his reflection. So that's what I look like. he thought to himself, memorizing his own features. He had lots of little scars here and there, and a few bruises that were dark purple under his skin, but he didn't look too banged up.

Shit, Spike'll be back soon, and I haven't started getting dressed. Glad he was in a private room, Xander slipped off the hospital gown and strode nude back to the bed, so he'd have something to lean against as he stepped into the jeans. No boxers in the bag. Either Rupert forgot, or else I'm known to go commando... which, if it's true, I don't even wanna know why Rupert knows I don't wear underwear. He'd slid into the jeans alright, but was having trouble getting them up all the way. I feel like a girl, trying to squeeze into the two-sizes too small jeans for her big date. I hope all my jeans aren't this tight, or else I foresee a shopping trip in the near future. Xander held his breath and finally managed to get his ass in the jeans and get them zipped up, mindful of the merchandise. Damn, they look like they're painted on. Score one for the 'Xander was a slut before the amnesia' category. Xander grabbed the t-shirt and slid it on, glad that it was a bit looser than he'd expected. He turned towards the door to start keeping an eye out for Spike's arrival, and nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw Spike already standing in the doorway, watching him.

Xander blushed. Oh, shit, how long has he been standing there? I didn't hear the door open. "Any paperwork I need to sign before we can get out of here?"

Spike tried to get his jaw working enough to answer Xander, but his body had decided that the brain didn't need any blood when there were more... pressing matters to take care of. He needed to take this slow, but Gods, but he'd never thought... how had Xander managed to hide that hot piece of ass under all those clothes? And those pants left nothing to the imagination either.

"Ah." Well, the plan to get more blood to his brain definitely not working. And all of a sudden, with no permission at all, his legs were moving him in Xander's general direction, not stopping until they were definitely encrouching on Xander's personal space. "These seem a little tight. Need some help?" he purred, ready to rip them off and suck Xander all the way down. Huh. Score one for going slow, Spike.

Eep. The smouldering look in Spike's eyes had pinned Xander in place, keeping him still as Spike approached. Xander swallowed hard, Spike's sultry invitation making his jeans feel even tighter. Guess the waiting for bed and tea plan just went out the window.

"It's all right, I got them on." Xander said, stumbling over the words. Spike was so close that Xander was having a hard time concentrating on anything else. Unless he was offering to help with something else... Xander gulped, nervous excitement humming across his skin again. He was starting to see the appeal of skin-tight jeans.

Spike groaned and grabbed Xander around the waist, invading his mouth with the hottest open mouthed kiss he'd had in longer than he cared to remember. The boy was going to be the death of him. Again.

Gulping in useless air, Spike took hold of Xander's hand and began pulling him out the door. "Home. Bed. Tea. Rest. You and me naked. Now."

"Oh yeah." Xander followed Spike out of the hospital, head still reeling from that really hot kiss. No hospital staff tried to stop them so Xander figured that Spike had taken care of the paperwork. Good. Because I don't think I would be able to stop for anything. He ached to be touching and kissing Spike again, so he poured his frustration into speeding his pace, and kept a good grip on Spike's hand. He let Spike walk a half-step ahead, figuring out where 'home' was from the direction Spike was walking. Please let it be not far away. Don't wanna wait any longer.

Spike could smell the arousal drifting from Xander's body and it just made him hurry. He wasn't paying attention to anything but that want assaulting his senses. How he wanted the boy, how he wished he could just rip their clothes off now so he wouldn't have to wait. He wanted to lick every place on that gorgeous body. He wanted to make Xander scream his name. He wanted... he wanted a cold shower before he got them both killed.

"Not long now, Xan," he assured. "Just around the cornAHH!"

"What the-" Xander exclaimed as Spike stumbled, a dart with a feathered tip sticking out of his shoulder. Five men in army fatigues quickly surrounded them, weapons armed and ready.

"Step away from Hostile Seventeen," one of the guys said to Xander.

Didn't Spike say that he'd been captured by some secret government project? Oh man, we're in trouble. Xander pasted on a grin and made his voice sound nonchalant. "What, is it Halloween or something? Aren't you guys a little old to be trick-or-treating?" Stall, make time for Spike to think up a plan. Except there had been something in the dart that was affecting Spike. Xander slid his arm around Spike to steady him. "Don't know what you boys are going on about, you're the only ones acting all hostile, pointing those things at us. So what do you say we'll be on our merry way and forget this whole thing ever happened?" Xander took a step and the commandos raised their weapons a little, a silent threat to shoot if he didn't stop walking. Xander froze. Need a plan. Spike, you got a plan?

Spike tried his best to ignore the stabbing pain in his neck and clear his head before it was too late. He had to think, had to find a way to get Xander to safety. But the fear was so overwhelming that he suddenly had no idea what to do, drew a perfect mental blank. Just one thought was going through his mind, one that had been in the background but shot to the fore every time danger was near Xander. Protect.

There was only one thing for it. Ripping out the dart, Spike launched himself at the soldier boys, trying to think of ways to get in as much damage as possible with as little pain to himself as he could. The world went up in a ball of flame and he had just enough time to choke out a hoarse "Run." to Xander before the world went black.

Like hell I'm going to run. Xander thought to himself, punching the nearest commando as hard as he could. The move was unexpected and the guy dropped like a stone, out cold. Unfortunately that seemed to royally piss off the second-closest commando, who slammed the end of his weapon into the back of Xander's head. Xander cried out as he fell to the sidewalk, pain immobilizing him long enough for the commando to get a few swift kicks into his stomach.

Through the pain haze blurring his vision, Xander could see Spike, crumpled on the ground a few feet away. Spike had managed to knock out another guy, but that left three able-bodied soldiers while he and Spike were defenseless. The leader who's spoken first pulled away the guy kicking Xander.

"That's enough. Back to base." He turned and picked up Spike's limp body, slung it over his shoulder and walked off. The other two commandos picked up their fallen comrades and followed the leader, leaving Xander huddled in a fetal position on the sidewalk.

God, no, what the hell just happened? Gotta get up, gotta rescue Spike. Oww, shit, can't move. Gotta call Rupert, don't know his number, don't know where any phones are, shitshitshit... Spike, hold on, I'll get you back... Xander whimpered, trying to get the pain under control. I'll find you, Spike.

Hearing Xander enter the fight had been devastating, and Spike didn't know what to do. Was the boy okay? Had they done any permanent damage? Spike was terrified and for a moment all he wanted to do was curl up and turn to dust because he knew whatever these bastards did to him would be worse. But he knew that he had to gather his strength, he knew he couldn't let them win.

Spike could feel the pain in his semi-concious state. He could feel every single nerve in his body sting with the shock. He was being carried away, dragged somewhere, and he wanted to scream. Please help me Xander, please please please save me.

Xander didn't know how long he lay on the sidewalk. After a while the pain faded enough that he was able to think clearly and get to his feet. Okay. Gotta figure out a way to rescue Spike. Maybe there're weapons at home? Gotta figure out where home is. Spike said it was nearby. Xander pulled out his wallet and looked at the driver's license, and then at the sign marking the street he was on. Luckily, the names matched. About time something goes my way.

It wasn’t difficult to find the correct number, and the key in his wallet opened the lock on the door. He was about to step inside when he heard a voice behind him.

“Hello, kitten.”

The kitten, she had found the kitten that would help her get her bloody knight back. Oh how lovely he shook, like a leaf.

"Kitten, we must save him from the clutches of the bad place, the stars are crying." She glanced at Xander and smiled, for she knew this kitten was capable of great things. "You are strong, kitten, I can feel it like a wave."

"D-Drusilla. Hi." Xander stuttered, adrenaline whooshing through his veins and his heart throbbing in his throat. Oh yeah, that's the chick from my dreams. Spike's ex. Dangerous vampire who could control me if she wanted to. Except apparently she knows he's in trouble and is here to help. I told Spike it was a psychic telephone call.

"You know Spike's been captured. Any ideas on how to break him out?" No harm in asking, right?

"We must trace the star trail that has been left by those nasty men. The stars always show us the way. Follow me, kitten, we have chickens to slaughter. We shall paint the walls with red and set the rabbits free." She walked ahead, already knowing he would follow soon after with his shiny silver toys.

Drusilla could taste the excitement of the fight, could smell the sweetness of the blood that would be shed. Her Spike would be freed, and he would leave her for the arms of this kitten. But she would not interfere. A strange magic was in the air, and the planets told her such things about the kitten.

Okaaaaay. Xander thought to himself. Don't remember Spike mentioning that Dru was a few eggs short of a dozen. But although what Drusilla said didn't make sense, it sort of did make sense at the same time.

"I guess that's as good a plan as any." Xander replied. "Be right back, let me just grab something sharp and damage-inflicting first."

Xander slipped inside, glancing around the basement for a weapon, any weapon. He quickly searched cabinets, drawers, the closet and under the bed, but only found two small knives and an axe that had been hidden behind the washing machine. While he was searching the closet he also came across a pair of army fatigues. Xander quickly changed into them. If we're going to break into the base, might help me blend in. Plus, I think those jeans were starting to cut off my circulation. He also came across a phone, but he didn't see Rupurt's number written anywhere. Guess it's just me and Drusilla.

He stepped back outside, locking the door behind him. I'm coming, Spike. Hold on, love. We're coming to rescue you. "So, where's this star trail?" he asked Drusilla.

So the boy had more light in him that she had first thought. Drusilla was not often wrong, but now that she looked deeper into him she could see it clearer.

"The trail will lead itself and I will lead the trail." And she set off, sniffing the air every once in a while, checking with the pretty stars. Her stars told her many things, whispered that they should hurry.

"You must hurry kitten, they're opening him up and picking at his insides, and my Spike does not like that. His screams are only pretty when they come from inside me." She shivered at the delicious noises he was making but hurried, knew instinctively that if they did not get there in time... Miss Edith would know what to do. "Miss Edith always knows what to do."

You must be crazy, blindly following her without asking any questions. Xander ignored the voice and continued following Drusilla, growing more worried as they walked and she talked. His mind was filled with thoughts of Spike, screaming as men in white lab coats cut him open. Tears threatened to blur his vision, but he blinked them away. "Miss Edith?" Xander asked, trying to get his mind off of the torture scenes.

"Yes, she knows all but sometimes she is naughty and does not tell me. But enough. We are almost there and the stars reflect some chickens on the watch." She looked up at the sky once more and gasped. "And they do not want to have tea."

Yes. These chickens would have to be punished.

Tea. I was supposed to have tea, and rest, and a naked Spike. he thought wistfully. Xander caught sight of two armed guards standing by a door that looked like it led underground.

The element of surprise is in our favor. I can probably get one of them knocked out before they realize what hit 'em, and if Dru got the other one... "Hey, Dru..." Xander looked around, wondering where Dru had disappeared to. He looked back at the soldiers and saw Dru walking up to them. Or maybe Dru will just take 'em both out while I formulate plans behind this bush.

"You silly chickens, will you bleed for me?" Dru floated across to the chickens holding their shiny toys and laughed when they yelled. "Never fear, the stars will punish you, you are fragile." She flicked her hands and both the chickens had broken necks.

"Come kitten, take their metal sticks for you will need them." Dru turned back around and winked at the kitten. "You are a sweet one, but we must hurry. They are sticking things in my Spike and soon it will be too late, best be there before Miss Edith cries."

"What the hell are we waiting for?" Xander replied, pocketing the electric tasers, and followed Dru into the base. We're coming, Spike. Please don't let it be too late.

He stayed close to Dru, tasering the few people they came across. The hallways all looked the same to Xander and he felt like a mouse in a maze. Dru kept walking, as if she knew exactly where she was going, so Xander followed her lead. Maybe she can sense him, feel his presence in this place. Maybe Miss Edith is telling her where to go. Or maybe she's just picking turns at random and hasn't a clue where Spike is. I just hope it's not too late. Hold on, Spike. We're almost there.

Spike wove in and out of consciousness, his head always throbbing. He threw up so many times he'd lost count. He couldn't remember much, tried to strain himself. He was so scared.

He didn't know if anyone was coming to get him, wasn't sure if he'd ever be saved. Men in white coats kept touching him, hurting him, and each time he retreated further into his mind. He didn't know who he was anymore, only an image kept him sane. An image of a beautiful boy with sad brown eyes. Save me he begged. He didn't know if anyone heard him.

This is all so wrong, Xander thought to himself, walking down a hallway. Both sides of the hallway were glass-fronted cells, and he was trying not to look too closely at the myriad of different creatures in the cells. If it wasn't humanoid and pale-skinned, he went quickly to the next. Halfway down the hallway, he came to a cell that was empty. No, wait... there, in the corner, was a naked, huddled figure. Oh, shit.

Spike's skin was so pale it was verging on white, blending into the spotless walls and floor, except for the welts, bruises, and various other wounds scattered all over his body. Oh, God. Xander felt like he was going to throw up, but footsteps approaching put him on alert.

"You. Soldier. What are you doing in this section?" A man in a white lab coat approached him. Xander spun around, taser pressed into the guy's neck before either of them could blink.

"Open this cage right now, or else I swear to fucking God I'll shoot you and break your neck, and take the key from your worthless corpse." Xander's voice was low and smooth like velvet-covered steel, with an edge of 'crazy' to spice things up.

The doctor actually had the balls, or the stupidity, to refuse. Xander was about to pull the trigger when Drusilla laid a hand on his shoulder. "Let me." She moved to stand in front of the doctor, and waved two fingers in front of his face hypnotically. "Look at me. Be in me." she murmured, smiling after a moment. "Open it." The doctor went over to the keypad next to Spike's cell and swiped a card through, typed in the password. The glass door slid open, and Drusilla snapped the guy's neck.

Xander felt a brief flare of jealousy, I wanted to do that, but it was overwhelmed by the deep need to get to Spike, to make sure he was all right and to get him out of this hellhole. As worried and freaked as he was, he forced himself to move slowly as he got closer to Spike. You're dressed like the enemy and he's been tortured - more than likely he won't recognize you at first. Careful, don't spook him. "Spike?" Xander called quietly, taking another small step towards him. "It's me, Xander. Do you remember me?"

Spike whimpered and retreated as far back into the corner as he could get. Another one, there was another one and he was going to be hurt. He didn't want it to hurt any more. This one was wearing soldiers clothes, not the white lab coats, so maybe this kind of pain would only be external.

When it spoke to him, spoke what he thought his name might have been since it was only a distant memory by now, Spike shivered and let out a high pitched whine. Don't hurt me. He retreated back into himself and thought of the warm brown eyes that had kept him sane throughout this, thought of a man that would come and save him. Please hurry.

The whine made Xander's heart break. He crouched down so he was at eye-level with Spike, and spoke quietly and calmly. "It's just me, Xander. You don't have to be afarid of me. I'm here to help you, get you out of here. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Xander slowly reached out to touch Spike's shoulder.

Spike flinched away from the man, trying his best to be as small as possible. But something made him look up, and when his eyes connected he thought he must be imagining things. These were the eyes from his dreams, this was the man that was supposed to save him. But why was he wearing the same clothes as those men that had hurt him before? Had he really gone insane? Spike was so confused and he just wanted to fall asleep and never wake up.

"Not real," he whispered. "Can't hurt me."

"That's right, I can't hurt you." We'll work on the 'not real' thing later, we're running out of time. Shitshitshitshit... This is taking too long, somebody's going to find one of the dead bodies and set off the alarm. We gotta get out of here. Xander looked around but Dru had wandered off. What do I do now?

"I'll be right back, Spike." Xander backed away from Spike, stopping at the body of the doctor. He quickly stripped the corpse of pants and lab coat, and then worked his way back towards Spike, trying to stay on the same eye-level and look as harmless as possible. "We need to get you dressed and out of here, get you somewhere that's safe. Okay?" He set the clothes on the floor and pushed them towards Spike. "Can you get dressed for me? Please? As soon as you get dressed we can get out of here and go home."

Spike latched onto some of the words the man had said. Safe and home, and Spike wanted to be safe and he wanted to be home and he was so scared. But something was telling him that maybe this was real, maybe he'd finally been found and was going to be saved. He clung in desperation to those brown eyes and somehow understood what was being asked of him. He tried to put the white coat on but his hands were shaking too hard and felt tears slide down his face. He'd failed, and now the man was going to leave him here.

"Don't go," he could only whisper, begging with his eyes. "Please."

God, Spike, don't cry! Before he'd even thought it, he was moving to help Spike. The jacket was a little too big, but it was better than too small. He fasened the buttons in front and then kissed Spike's forehead gently, blinking away tears of his own. "I'm not going to leave you here. We're both going. Can you stand up?" He slipped his arm around Spike's waist to provide support if needed.

Spike didn't know what was happening, which way was up, who anyone was, who he was, but he knew this man was helping him, saving him, had stopped the pain.

"Nice." He murmured, leaning on the man with the beautiful brown eyes. He wanted to thank him, wanted to beg him to take him away, wanted to do anything, but he couldn't even stop the tears from sliding down his face. "Broken." He looked up at Xander, he said his name was Xander and for a moment the pain went away.

"Don't worry. We'll get out of here and back to my place where it's safe and then we can fix everything, okay? Ready to go?" Xander helped Spike walk, and they made their way out of the cell and back the way they had come. Xander remembered a few of the twists and turns, and on the ones he didn't remember, there were dead bodies down one path to lead the way. They found the exit and Xander helped Spike out, leaving the door cracked open. He hadn't seen Drusilla on their way out, but Xander trusted that she would be able to take care of herself. His main concern was to take care of Spike. "You doing okay? We're almost home."

Spike was shaking with relief and tension. They were finally out of that terrible place, and the fresh air felt and tasted so good that he wanted to stay out here forever. But he was so scared that they'd catch him again, do all those awful things, poke around in his brain some more. He hurried his steps and tried not to wince every time he almost tripped, leaned more heavily on the boy at his side and shuddered every now and again when he sensed the smell from the place in the air.

"Scared," he whimpered, looking into Xander's eyes and silently begging for protection.

Okay, the one-word sentances are really starting to worry me. Xander swallowed hard, hugging Spike closer to his side. "Don't worry, I won't let anything happen to you." Even though I wasn't much help last time you were captured, so we'd better get inside before we get caught again.

He breathed a sigh of relief when they made it to the basement, Xander not letting go of his hold on Spike as he unlocked the door and they went inside, locking the door behind them. "Home sweet basement, even if I don't remember it." He led Spike over to the bed, both of them sitting down. Xander was exhausted from the stress and the worry and was still recovering from being in the hospital, and Spike looked much worse than him at the moment.

Spike clung to Xander in a desperate attempt to convince himself that everything would be okay. They were safe as far as he could tell, no strange smells, no neon lighting, just this boy who had saved him. And the place... it smelt familiar, not like the sterile hospital smell in the cells.

He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself, tried to be strong. But he was still so scared and he couldn't keep still. He looked up at Xander imploringly, not even sure himself what he wanted but hoping that the man would know.

What the hell happened to him? Xander almost couldn't believe that the person at his side was the same man who'd been so full of confidence and spitfire. Now Spike was looking like a lost kitten, and obviously wanting something but Xander couldn't figure out what.

Xander's stomach rumbled and he shot a glance at the kitchen. Okay, food first, then we're both changing clothes - the less reminders of the Initiative, the better. "Are you hungry? I'd assume that there's some food here for you. Wanna check it out?"

Spike felt a rumbling in his belly and he knew that meant he was hungry. He just couldn't force himself to do anything about it. Didn't matter if he was hungry as long as Xander stayed with him. Didn't matter as long as those warm brown eyes made him feel safe. Everything was confusing him and memories kept on pushing at his mind, but he kept is closed off, didn't want to remember about all the places they had poked sharp things at.

Spike shivered and held on to Xander's shoulder when the man began to move away. If there was one thing he was sure of, it was that he felt safer with Xander. "Don't go." he whispered and tugged on the shirt in his grip.

Xander used the one arm that was still wrapped around Spike's waist to hug him tightly for a moment. "I'm just going to go over to the fridge-" he noticed Spike's grasp on his shirt tighten, "And you're gonna come with me. C'mon," Xander helped Spike stand and they made their way over to the kitchenette. Xander opened the fridge with his free hand and scanned the contents. Eye catching on plastic packets full of suspicious red liquid, he grabbed several bags and nudged the door closed with his foot. Xander glanced at the microwave, and then at Spike. "Don't suppose you know how long to nuke these for, do you?"

Spike shook his head, relief making his knees wobble. He wasn't alone, Xander didn't leave him, this wonderful man was helping him, holding him. It would all be okay as long as he didn't let go.

The sight of blood instinctively brought his demon to the fore and Spike hid his face behind an arm, afraid that when Xander saw the monster he was he would leave.

Not wanting to over or under cook it and ruin the blood, Xander found a pot and filled it half-full with water, and put it on the stove to heat. "There. It'll take a little longer, but there's less chance of it exploding in the microwave or something."

His own stomach was rumbling, but he was too worried about Spike to eat anything at the moment. Everything will be all right. We're together, so everything will work out... I hope. He smiled reassuringly at Spike, and then frowned when Spike kept hiding his face. "Hey now, what's wrong?" he ducked his head to catch Spike's gaze, and saw the 'grr' face. He couldn't help but touch, running his fingertips over the ridges and bumps. The face was horrific and magnificent, but he couldn't be scared of it when he remembered what happened the last time he'd seen it. "So beautiful." Xander murmured.

Spike gaped at Xander and felt tears gather behind his eyes. This man was amazing. He was beautiful and strong and he was so accepting. He clung to him tighter, not trying to hide any more, and sought comfort the only way he knew how, nuzzling the human's neck and covering it in tentative licks. The smell and taste of Xander calmed him, was like a drug to him.

"Thank you," he whispered. "Thank you."

Thanks, for what? Xander bit back a moan when Spike started licking his neck. Oh, God. Missed this. "No problem, my pleasure." he replied, breath and heartbeat speeding up.

Shit, no, we can't do this, hafta figure out what's going on first. But it had been a long few days and his willpower was close to running on empty.

Spike needed Xander to comfort him, wanted more than anything to feel the primal kind of relief that he instinctively knew Xander couldn't give him. But it was enough to just stand in the circle of his arms and lick at his neck, not marking but making his presense felt. He was hungry and could feel the blood pumping just below the surface, but for some reason there was something stopping him from lowering his fangs and taking his fill. Can't hurt.

"Can't hurt." The whisper was serious and Spike squeezed Xander even tighted. "Don't want to."

Can't hurt? Xander thought, confused. A moment later realization dawned. You're letting a hurt and hungry vampire lick your neck. What, are you mentally challenged? Xander kept his arm around Spike but pulled away enough to check the stove, where there was steam pouring off of the pot. He pulled the warmed bag of blood from the pot and snagged two mugs from the cupboard with one hand. Using his teeth to rip open the bag enough to pour the contents into one of the mugs, he tilted the pot to fill the other mug with hot water, before dropping a second bag of blood in the pot to heat. He passed the mug of blood to Spike, then grabbed a tea bag from the counter and dunked it in the mug of water a few times. Tea's made, blood is warming, what the hell am I supposed to do now? "Is there anything else I can get you?"

Xander was taking care of him, feeding him and calming him and making everything seem okay again. He didn't have to think about the white rooms where his screams echoed and the smell of his pain filled his nostrils. He didn't have to think about anything except the here and now. Spike hungrily finished the blood in the mug and felt the hunger abate. But he still wanted more, and Xander could read his mind because there was now another bag on the stove.

He was so tired, and all he wanted to do was bury himself in some dark place and go to sleep. But only if Xander joined him.

"Sleep?" he murmered against Xander's neck.

Yeah, okay. Sleep. I can do that. "All right. But one more mug first." Xander yawned, his body agreeing to the plan. The second bag was warmed up by now, and Xander tore the corner open and poured it into Spike's mug. He had no idea how much vampires were supposed to drink, but if Spike was full enough to prefer sleep, then he wasn't going to force-feed him. He turned off the stove and sipped his tea as he watched Spike drink. There was a roll of trash bags sticking out from a drawer, and Xander grabbed one and stuffed it in his pocket. I'd prefer to burn these clothes, but I guess a hearty throw-away is going to have to do.

When Spike was finished, Xander put both their mugs in the sink, and stuck the rest of the blood bags in the fridge on their way to the bed.

Spike shuffled behind Xander, keeping close enough to feel heat soaking into him. By the time they got into the bedroom Spike's eyes were barely open and his body was forcing him to get rest and recuperate. He knew instinctively that a good sleep was going to do him a world of good, but he was afraid that if he fell asleep Xander would leave.

"You'll stay?" he asked. "You'll sleep with me?"

God. Xander swallowed hard. Spike's words would have sounded like a come-on if they hadn't been said in such an uncertain, child-like tone. "Of course I'll stay." Xander replied.

"I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get rid of these clothes." he said, peeling the cameo jacket and shirt off and shoving them in the trash bag. I don't think he'd going to let me leave him long enough to find other clothes to sleep in, so I guess we're snoozing in the nude, 'cause there's no way in hell we're sleeping in these clothes. And I probably should be embarrassed that we're both going to be naked, but there's no real point. He walked in on me dressing at the hospital, and I saw him naked at the lab, so there's nothing really to hide.

Who the hell am I kidding? I want what was promised to me: Tea, bed, and naked us. So I'm weak, is that so wrong? And besides, we're just going to be sleeping and cuddling, nothing else.
"You need any help?"

Spike was watching Xander, slack jawed and completely surprised. What was going on? Were they going to bed? Why was Xander taking off his clothes? But somehow it seemed to be exactly what he needed, exactly what was going to take his mind off that big, white room and those tiny, sharp needles.

Spike looked down at himself, grimaced at the clothes. He wanted to take them off, wanted Xander's skin on his own, but he knew that the man would be horrified, probably disgusted, when he saw the methodic lines of purple bruises and deep cuts that hadn't had time to heal yet. Spike was broken, and Xander would surely hate that. So he stood still, looking lost, and felt tears fill his eyes.

"Broken." he repeated. "Don't want to be."

Xander cupped Spike's cheek, brushing away a straw tear that had fallen. "We'll fix it, darling. We'll find a way to fix everything." He unbuttoned the white jacket slowly, careful not to rub it against Spike's skin and irritate the wounds further. He peeled away the coat as he went, gently kissing each bruise and cut as it was revealed. "My darling, so hurt. I'll find a way to make it better somehow."

With the last button undone, Xander moved behind Spike and helped the jacket slide over his shoulders and kissed each wound, before sticking the lab coat in the trash bag. Then he opened the fastening on Spike's pants, working them over his hips and down his legs. He stood and helped Spike step out of them, and then quickly shimmied out of his own pants and stuffed both items of clothing in the bag, and tied it closed.

Everything was a little fuzzy and all Spike could think about was how good it felt being cared for, how much better he felt. He had to be strong, had to get himself under control. He wasn't stuck in that awful place anymore. He wasn't being poked and prodded and cut and hurt. He was home with Xander, and he was being looked after and protected. Xander wouldn't let anything happen - had said so himself.

His hands reached out for Xander, seeking both the warmth and the comfort. He would be strong tomorrow, because today he just needed to be held.

Xander let himself be drawn into Spike's arms, and held him close. He knew intimately the comforting power of cuddling, and both of them were in need of comforting. They stood with their arms around each other, chests pressed skin to skin. Xander stroked Spike's back, careful not to cause more pain. He buried his face in the crook of Spike's neck, trying to keep a firm hold on his emotions. God, he's hurt so much, I could've lost him. Don't know what I'd do if I'd lost him. "Ready to get some sleep?"

He held Xander for a moment longer, blocking out everything apart from the warmth, then stepped away. He felt the loss instantly, felt cold where Xander's chest had kept him warm. He shivered, nodding his head, hoping that maybe Xander would hold him some more soon.

"Bed." he murmered, looking anywhere but at Xander. "You too?"

"Me too." Xander replied. He climbed into bed and held the edge of the sheets up for Spike to slide in next to him. "Come on, let's get some rest."

Spike scrambled into bed quickly, not wanting Xander to change his mind. He lay on his side, almost falling off the edge but not daring to get any closer. His arm stretched out slowly and his fingers hovered just beside Xander's ribs. So warm.

Xander snaked an arm around Spike's waist and tugged him closer. "You can't lay on the edge like that, you'll fall out, and I've already fallen out twice to know that it isn't fun." Xander smiled, wrapping himself around Spike and snuggling in. Everything will look better in the morning, it has to. We're together, we'll find a way to fix everything.

Spike held himself still and stiff. He knew that this was impossible, that Xander couldn't be this welcoming and wonderful and loving, no one could love a dead, disgusting, soulless creature like him. He was afraid that as soon as he moved everything would fade away and he would realise that this was all another trick, he was back at the... the... it's called the Initiative. A wave of misery enveloped him and he forced his body not to shudder. At least he could enjoy the dream while it lasted, save some memories for when he woke up again.

Okay, something's bothering him again. Proper cuddling needs to be requited. Xander thought to himself. He studied Spike's face, trying to find some clue. "Tell me what's wrong, darling. What can I do?"

Spike smile was soft, barely there. "Darling," he repeated. It sent a wave of longing through him and I'm a ponce brought tears to his eyes again. "But you're not real." His entire body shook with a shuddering sob and he buried his face in the pillow, barely whispering "Alone again."

Oh yeah, the 'not real' thing. I'd almost forgotten about that. Xander pulled Spike's face from the pillow, running his fingers through Spike's hair and shushing him. "I'm real, darling. I'm real and I'm here and you're not alone, okay? Touch me, smell me, taste me. I'm here and I'm yours. I love you, remember? You're not alone."

Spike broke, wrapped his arms around Xander and squeezed him too tightly, tears ran down his cheaks in a rush and he shuddered again. "Love me?" He didn't think it was possible, was sure that Xander had made a mistake.

He was so afraid of touching, but his hands moved of their own accord, didn't seem to want to listen to him when he told them stop. The man felt real under his fingertips, didn't disappear as his fingers brushed over skin and muscle. He frantically ran his hands up and down Xander's back, buried his head in his neck and considered it for a moment, then shook his head and nuzzled Xander's throat. His tongue darted out and he did just as Xander had suggested, he tasted the man, sucked his skin in, probably raised a sore red bruise but Gods he tasted so good, so real.

"Love me?" he asked again, desperate.

I think I finally said the right thing. he thought, the object of his desire suddenly responding, the cuddling very requited now. Xander groaned, babbling as Spike sucked on his neck. "God, yes. I love you, my darling, my Spike. I love you and I'm real, and I'm not leaving you, ever."

The beautiful words rushing from Xander were so wonderful that Spike rubbed his body against the man, sucked harder on his neck, pressed his fingers deep into his back. He didn't want to hurt him, couldn't stand the thought, but he needed to be closer, needed to feel all the things Xander was talking about and wanting to tell Xander he felt the same way.

"Love you." Spike whispered, knowing that he didn't remember much, knowing that everything was fuzzy, but knowing that only someone he loved, only someone that meant the world to him, could have kept him sane with just an image of his eyes in the Initiative.

Oh, God. He'd been hoping Spike would say it again, but he hadn't been sure... those two little words shifted the world around them, made his heart ache with the pleasure of it. He still had more gaps than memories in his head, and he had no way of contacting Rupert or Willow to let them know what had happened, but none of it meant a thing. The only thing that mattered was that this beautiful creature in his arms, this wonderful man he loved and was loved by in return.

Spike press himself closer to Xander, hoping that breathing wouldn't be an issue but just needing the extra comfort. Now that he'd said it, he wanted to show him, wanted Xander to know for sure. "Love you," he said again. "Yours." It was quieter, almost inaudible, and Spike was so scared that Xander would reject him or not understand how important that was. "Xander's."

Xander enjoyed the press of skin against skin, but the intensity in Spike's words brought him back. He focused on Spike, looked deep into his eyes. "Mine." he claimed, unsure of the way he was saying it, but he knew deep down inside that the truth behind it shone through, no matter how he said it. "You're mine and I'm yours."

Spike almost sobbed in relief. "Mine," he responded, buried his face in Xander's neck once more and inhaled deeply, tongue snaking out to lap at the puncture point. "All mine." Xander wouldn't leave him, wouldn't hurt him, wouldn't lie, they belonged to each other now. A tear slipped past his lashes and dripped onto Xander's skin. He lapped it up, groaning as the salty taste of himself joined with the tang of Xander's skin.

"All yours." Xander confirmed, eyes drifting closed as he surrendered to the sensations for a moment. "Spike's." he murmured, and knew it was true. He was Spike's, heart and mind, body and soul. He'd do anything for Spike, walk to the ends of the earth to keep him safe and happy. He clung to Spike, basking in the love that flowed between them, such a powerful force that kept threatening to owerwhelm him. "Loveyouloveyouloveyou..." Xander chanted under his breath, peppering kisses along Spike's neck and shoulder.

Spike clung to Xander as hard as he could without crushing the boy, buried himself in the scent and the feel of him, and finally relaxed. He let himself believe that it would all be okay, let Xander's beautiful words wash over him, and he responded in kind, murmuring "Love you Xander, I love you..." over and over into Xander's skin. He thought that maybe his words were being absorbed into the man, surrounding him as much as they surrounded Spike. "Love you..." he whispered again, then as he sunk into a deep, healing sleep, "Mine."

"Yours." He was almost afraid that this was a dream, that maybe he was still in the hospital, unconsious, dreaming about tulips. But he trusted his eyes, trusted the weight of Spike in his arms. He watched as Spike fell asleep, his breath slowing to a stop. He wondered if he should be creeped out, for all intents and purposes he was hugging a corpse. But he had no memory of ever lying in bed with someone who breathed, so there was nothing to compare this with. Xander yawned, his eyes starting to feel heavy. "Love you." We'll figure everything out tomorrow, but for tonight, it's time for sleep. He rested his head against Spike's, nuzzling a little to get comfortable, and fell asleep as well.

Spike woke up the next morning feeling fuzzy and slightly ill. He knew that it was one of those mornings where something big hit when he least expected it. He played back memories of the night before and came to a dead end. What had happened? He remembered snuggling with Xander, declarations of love, he remembered the Initiative and the fear, but he didn't remember anything beyond that. He knew who he was, what he was. A few faces swam to the surface only to drift away again.

"Bloody amnesia?" he yelped. "Un-fuckin'-believable."

Xander stirred at Spike's exclamation, but he was still mostly asleep. "Five more minutes." he yawned, snuggling into Spike. He felt warm and safe and loved, and he wanted to hold onto that feeling for a little longer, didn't want to wake up and face reality. Although, reality has Spike, so why the hell am I still asleep? Xander opened his eyes, smiling at Spike. "Good morning, darling."

Spike was going to grumble and growl and say nasty things, but then he saw the sweet little smile and he called me darling. "Morning. Don't know about good though." He smiled at Xander and wondered what it was he'd done in the hazy past to get here. "Don't remember anything."

"Well, at least you remember that you don't remember. That's a start." Not to mention you're talking in complete sentances, not that one or two word thing like last night. Xander sat up and stretched his hands high above his head, sheets falling to pool around his waist. He brought his hands down and half-turned to look at Spike. "Y'know, The whole you-having-amnesia-too joke isn't very funny."

Spike was momentarily distracted by the enticing slice of skin Xander had revealed, but his brain finally caught up to Xander's mouth.

"What? Who has amnesia too?" It was all so confusing and he suddenly had the feeling that all he wanted to do was climb back under the covers and never come out again. His smile wavered and I'm the beggest ponce in the world he had a sudden urge for a hug.

"Me, you nit-wit." Xander said affectionately, and noticed Spike’s smile slip. Oh, hell, it isn’t a joke. Whatever those bastards did to him gave him amnesia. Well, I guess it’s a good thing he doesn’t remember all the nasty stuff they did. Xander found Spike’s hand and squeezed it, holding on. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. We’ll figure everything out.” He smiled encouragingly at Spike. “What do you remember?”

Spike took comfort from the hand squeezing his and rested his head on Xander's shoulder, taking a moment to regroup.

"Ah. I remember last night," he coloured slightly, then rushed on, "and I remember a white room, and they were... they were sticking needles into me, poking around in my head... and it hurt." His eyes filled with tears at remembered pain and even worse, the fear, and he dropped Xander's hand and looked down at the bedspread, studying it as if it held all the secrets to the world. "That's all. Remember you though. Some blonde chit too, and a redhead, and an old bloke. And someone big and dark... Sire."

Damn it. He does remember what they did to him. I wish I could take your pain away, darling. Xander's dropped hand slid around Spike's waist, and Xander one-armed hugged him. "Well, at least you remember more than I did when I got amnesia. The redhead is Willow, the blonde is Buffy, and I'm assuming the old guy is Rupert." Xander said, deciding to stay away from the Initiative memories. The less said about them, the better. "You said Drusilla was your sire, and she's dark but she isn't really big..." Xander searched his few memories, trying to figure out if there was anyone else Spike had mentioned earlier that might ring a bell. "Oh! The poof! He's a vampire too, so he might be the one you're remembering. You said his name is Angel, although I still think that's a bad name for a vampire."

Spike thought about it for a moment, mulled the names over in his head. Yeah. They sounded right, gave him a strange kind of feeling that told him he'd said them a lot in the past.

"Okay." he said, trying to think hard, to remember and fill in the gaps. "Okay. But what happened before? I mean... before... you know. It's like I hit a wall..."

Xander shrugged. "I can't tell you much. I got knocked out in a fight and got amnesia. When I woke up, you were there. You filled me in a little on what was going on, I met the gang, that was about it. On our way home from the hospital, you were captured by the Initiative."

Spike nodded, tried to gather his thoughts and order everything, put it into boxes and get it all figured out.

"So are we... that is... you and I..." Spike didn't know how to finish his sentence because all of a sudden he felt inexplicably shy, like a girl with her first crush. "Are we shagging?" he tried again, going for bravado but ending up a little shakey.

Shagging? Xander was confused for a spit second, before his patchwork memory replayed a clip from Austen Powers. Oh. He blushed. "Um, no... I mean..." he took a deep breath. "When I woke up, you said we'd been dating before the amnesia thing, and since then we've messed around a little, but we haven't, erm, 'shagged'." Not that I'd mind if you wanted to, he thought to himself, enjoying the sight of shirt-less Spike. Several of the smaller wounds and faint bruises from yesterday were gone, and what was still there was starting to heal. "You hungry? There's more blood in the fridge, and it seems to help you heal."

Spike's stomach rumbled and answered the question for him, but though he was ashamed to admit it, he didn't want to leave the bed. Xander was so warm and sweet-smelling...

"Not hungry," he grumbled, inching a little closer to Xander hoping he wouldn't notice, arm reaching out beneath the covers. "Not hungry at all." His stomach rumbled again.

"Really? 'Cause I think your stomach is disagreeing." Xander said. Gonna take care of you, get you healed, get our memories back. Won't help nothing if we're both starving. He reached for Spike's hand and tugged it, and swung his legs over the side of the bed. "Come on, let's find some food, and then we can nap a little more if you're still tired."

Spike tried to hold back the whine that he felt rising in his throat but was too late. It was sad and pitifull and high and he didn't care because he didn't want Xander to leave him, didn't want to be left alone.

"Don't wanna!" he repeated, tugged on Xander's hand hard. "Don't go!"

Change of plans. "Okay, okay." Xander quickly climbed back into bed, pulling the covers up and lying against Spike's side. "Whatever you want, darling. I'm not going anywhere."

Spike was going to act manly and strong, but then the thought of Xander leaving him alone to fend for himself swamped him and he could do nothing more than paste himself to Xander's side, snuggling into his shoulder.

"Sorry," he whispered. "Just get scared." He knew somehow that admitting it was wrong, but for the moment he just didn't give a damn.

"Nothing to be sorry about." Xander murmured, running a hand through Spike's hair. He pressed a kiss to Spike's forehead. "I'm scared too." he admitted quietly.

It occured to Spike that they were in a sticky situation. Neither one remembered anything, so what were they going to do about money? About food? About clothes and all those other necessities.

"We're screwed, aren't we pet?" It was a statement, he knew they were. "What are we going to do?" His voice sounded bolder and he was proud of himself, pretended he wasn't squeezing the breath out of Xander.

Xander shrugged. "Not sure. Maybe Rupert or Willow will drop by, and they can help us out. Or maybe we'll find stuff around here that'll tell us who we are or trigger memories." he hugged Spike tight. "We'll figure out something, no worries, yeah? As long as we're together, we'll be fine."

He thought about protesting and nitpicking all the things that could go wrong with the plan, but then decided that he had a warm human he loved next to him, so things couldn't be too bad. He squeezed Xander closer and nudged him into the perfect position, so he could swing his leg between Xander's and wrap his arms tightly around him.

"Okay, will be okay if you say so."

"I say so." Xander replied with a smile. Denial, thy name is Xander. But he couldn't bring himself to care about the ourside world when he had Spike safe in his arms. He let Spike nudge him into place, and sighed happily when Spike settled in. He caressed Spike's back. "Love you."

Everything felt right, as if all the pieces had fallen into place and Spike let out a contented sigh. It was all going to be okay, Xander was going to make it all okay. He would take care of him, make sure that if something was wrong... if he cried...

"Love you too Xander."

Part Four

Xander felt blissful. He was exactly where he wanted to be, and with exactly who he wanted to be with. To be honest, he didn't care if they ever got their memories back, as long as they could stay in this moment forever. A tiny part of him was still worried about making sure Spike had enough to eat and was healing properly, but a larger part of him was focused on keeping Spike happy and doing anything in his power to never hear that horrible heart-breaking whine again. "Anything I can do for you?"

Spike snuggled deeper in Xander's hold and sighed heavily, knew that he had to eat. He was secure in the knowledge that Xander would come back if he left, but he just didn't want to lose the body heat.

"Hungry." he mumbled it on purpose, so that if Xander didn't hear he could pretend it was fate.

Xander almost laughed at the irony. Spike was hungry, but he didn't want Xander to leave the bed. And since Xander was not Inspector Gadget or Stretch Armstrong, he couldn't reach the fridge or the stove without getting out of bed. So, what could he do? How could he feed his vampire without leaving the bed?

Xander frowned as thoughts turned into a bad plan. But what else could he do? "Show me your fangs."

Spike glanced up at Xander in surprise, wondering what he was up to. It was an odd request, and truth be told Spike was a little embarrassed. He was scared that if Xander saw his fangs, knew what he really was and was forced to see it up close... But Xander wouldn't.

Spike shook his head as he morphed, tried to pretend he was shivering because he was cold.

Xander cuddled close to Spike, positioning the crook of his neck at Spike's mouth. Let's hope like hell this works. He didn't want the chip to hurt Spike, but it hadn't gone off when he cut his tongue on Spike's fangs, so it stood to reason that... "Open your mouth."

Spike looked at Xander, face flickering between durprise, disgust and fear.

"I can't hurt you. Don't want to hurt you." He shook his head hard and tried to rein in the demon that was thrashing inside him, screaming for Xander's blood.

"Shhh." Xander murmured, caressing Spike's hair. "You won't hurt me. Not you, never you, understand? Let me help you, let me feed you. Please, baby. Open your mouth."

Spike wished that he was strong enough to resist, wanted to say no and think of all the reasons this was a bad idea. Only he was so weak and so hungry, and Xander's blood smelt so sweet.

He lowered his head and delicately licked at the juncture of Xander's shoulder and neck, then as gently as he could sunk his fangs in cleanly, trying his best to be careful.

But as soon as the blood touched his lips Spike felt his demon take over, prayed to anyone listening that his instinct would take over when his mind was away, and lost himself in the most perfect taste...

Xander felt the fangs cut into his neck, and gave a quick prayer of thanks that the chip wasn't hurting Spike. "Oh, God." his eyes closed and he moaned, overwhelmed by the sensations. The fangs had slid in so smoothly that he had only felt the briefest prick of pain, and now it was all pleasure. "Yes, that's it, darling. Drink. Drink and be strong."

Spike was flying, nothing was real anymore except the way Xander smelt and the way he tasted. Rich and sweet and a touch coppery and Spike was gone, because this was amazing.

Xander was lost, drowning in waves of electricity, and he couldn't stop his body from writhing. Gently, so as not to dislodge the fangs in his throat, he started rocking against Spike, seeking release because all this pleasure was almost too much to bear.

He didn't know how long he could go on like this, wasn't sure what he was doing, it was like his body didn't exist, the world didn't exist, the universe was centred wholly upon SpikeandXander, and he didn't know where he ended and Xander began.

"Spike." Xander managed to form the word, eyes shut and head thrown back as thoughts fled and he could only feel. It felt like every molecule that touched Spike was tingling, the sparks heating his skin. Spike's lips were warmer now, as the liquid fire masquerading as Xander's blood streamed into his mouth. He could feel Spike sucking the wound, swallowing him down. "Yes." he hissed.

He thought faintly that maybe this wasn't the best idea. Xander wasn't in peak condition, and the way he was feeling, Spike wasn't sure he had enough self control to pull away before the boy passed out from blood loss. But then Xander pressed himself harder against him, and Spike's mind went blank.

Xander was more than willing to let Spike suck on his neck forever, but his senses began to reel gently and just in case he'd made a bad miscalculation and let Spike take too much, he wanted to kiss Spike one more time before passing out. He grasped Spike's hair and tugged hard, trying to break Spike from his stupor.

Some part of Spike's mind was screaming at him, but Spike didn't know what the matter was. He was in heaven, or as close to it as an evil soulless vampire like him could get. But he had to... he needed to...

Dang. Spike could really be persistent when he wanted to be. Xander smiled, but didn’t let up on his grip of Spike’s hair. “Hey, don’t take it all,” he murmured, nuzzling Spike’s neck and nipping at the spot where neck curved into shoulder.

Xander's voice cut through Spike's stupour and he had to wrench himself away from the heady scent and all-encompassing taste of blood. He had to stop himself, had to make sure that he didn't hurt Xander, but he was beyond frazzled and seemed to have forgotten all the self-control (admittedly totalling very little) that he had learned in his years.

"Sorry." he rasped, voice harsh and brittle. "Didn't mean to... wanted to stop, I really did!"

"Shhh, baby, it's okay." Xander assured him, the hand in Spike's hair stroking instead of tugging now. He kissed Spike, licking a few remaining drops blood from his lips. "You feeling better?"

Spike shook his head to finally clear it and nuzzled into Xander's neck, sniffing delicately at the skin, lapping at the wound to close it quickly.

"Aherm," Spike replied. "Just perfect. You've lost a lot of blood though, I didn't realise how much I was taking."

Xander whimpered in pleasure as he felt Spike's tongue swipe gently across the wound. "S'fine." he grinned, happy that Spike was happy, and that Spike was talking in full sentances again. That was a good sign, right? Now, if only they could figure out how to get their memories back... "If you're still hungry, I could go heat up some-" He started to move as if to get up, but the room suddenly spun and he collapsed back on the bed with a woosy giggle. "Or maybe not."

Spike was struck with a crippling bout of guilt when he saw the state he had left Xander in. He'd promised not to hurt him, and here they were five seconds later and already Spike couldn't control himself.

"I'll get you some orange juice," he sounded angry, and told himself to stop taking things out on Xander. "You need the sugar."

Xander's smile wilted a little at the anger apparent in Spike's voice. Everything had been so good a few minutes ago, and now Spike was all angry and Xander couldn't help feeling a little pathetic and stupid and weak. A small voice in the back of his mind wanted to crack a joke about sugar and kisses. Instead, he took a deep breath. In a controlled voice that didn't give away the guilt and misery he was feeling, he said "Uh, we don't have any orange juice, or at least I didn't see any when I fixed your blood last night."

Spike groaned and rubbed at his temple. He knew it was completely unreasonable to be angry with Xander, his boy had done nothing but the best for Spike. So he took a few deep breaths (unneeded), counted to eleven (ten didn't work), and leaned over to kiss Xander's forehead.

"Sorry, love. I didn't meant to be abrupt. But you should eat some fruit. Something with lots of sugar. Maybe protein?" he grimaced at the thought of an orange and steak sandwich and quickly added "Not at the same time."

"All right." Xander replied. He was feeling a bit weak from blood-loss and he didn't really want to argue with Spike. He glanced at Spike, feeling a little bit better when he noticed some of the bruises had lightened and the worst wounds were healing quickly. "I'll eat whatever you find in the kitchen, as long as you have some more blood from the fridge."

Spike tried to gracefully make his way to the kitchen, but his reflexes were not quite what they would have been in peak condition. He pretended that Xander hadn't noticed his stumble and made it to the kitchen and back with minimal accidents.

"Eat this," he commanded, shoving a bag of chocolate chip cookies at Xander and greedily slurping at his mug of blood. He grinned when Xander didn't argue but eyed the cookies in a way that made Spike rather jealous.

Certain that Spike was drinking, Xander obeyed his sudden surge of appitite and tore into the bag of cookies. He scarfed them down, and then proceeded to lick crumbs and melted chocolate off of his fingers.

Watching Xander slurp at crumbs on his fingers made Spike even hungrier than he was before, but he attempted to ignore the need to take the boy again and tried to focus on getting himself strong enough to walk properly. Wouldn't do to look weak in front of his human.

Once the last trace of chocolate was gone, Xander folded the bag and set it aside, already feeling some strength and energy come back as the suger coursed though his system. He grinned at Spike, the mini-fight already forgotten. "So!" he chirped, bouncing slightly on the bed and enjoying the slight woozy reel of his senses as if it were an amusement park ride. "Wanna play Scrabble?"

t b c

misspandypantsand I are still writing this, but because of hard-to-mesh scheduals, it takes a while(*cough*months*cough*) to update. But never fear, someday it will be finished! Check back for updates!

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