“Cheers, mate,” Spike held out a bottle of beer in front of him and Xander clinked his against it.
“I can’t believe it’s been a whole year.”
Spike nodded slowly, “Goes quick dunnit?”
They sat in silence for several long minutes, Spike lost in his own thoughts and Xander just enjoying the peace and quiet. It was Spike that broke the silence.
“Does it still feel weird?”
Silence descended again until Xander continued.
“Sometimes it feels like I’m dreaming. And it’s a wonderful dream...but I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up any second.”
Xander laughed at himself, “Stupid really.”
“Naah, ain’t stupid. Makes sense.” Spike trailed off, unsure of what he should say next.
Xander looked around the room. “Gets a bit lonely here though, you know, every now and again.”
“I know the feeling, mate. Don’t get me wrong, I luv me own company. I mean if you can’t be around yourself, then you can’t expect others to like being around you, right?”
“Bloody right it is, but…sometimes it’s nice to have someone around.”
Spike realised that he was beginning to sound morose and he made a real effort to sound a little cheerier.
“Just be nice to have someone to brighten up the old crypt.”
Xander fixed his friend with a questioning stare.
“How do you stand it? It must be so cold and damp.”
“No better than that bloody basement. Least the crypt don’t smell like old socks.”
Xander’s jaw dropped and he threw a handful of potato chips at the smirking vampire.
“It didn’t smell like old socks!”
Spike dodged the ammunition and laughed. “Oh it so did! And I bet it still does. C’mon, I’ll prove it.”
Xander jerked back from Spike’s outstretched arm.
Xander gave himself a mental shake and looked apologetically at Spike, “No, Spike, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap. It’s just that…I can’t go down there.”
Spike’s brow wrinkled in a concerned frown.
“Have you even been down there since…?”
“So everything’s just as you left it?”
“Yeah, except there’s probably more dust now and perhaps a few more spiders.”
Spike tried not shudder, but it was involuntary and Xander caught it straight away.
“Oh. My. God. You’re scared of spiders!”
“I bleedin’ ain’t!”
“Oh you so are. I can’t believe it. This is priceless.”
“Yeah? Well your face is gonna be priceless in a minute when I belt it into next week…..Shit sorry, you know I didn’t mean that.”
Spike held an expression of disgust for himself and Xander tried his best to look serious and tell the vampire that it was ok and that he knew that Spike would never raise a hand to him. But somehow, he just couldn’t do it. All he could do was picture Spike standing on a chair squealing “Shoo, shoo!” at the floor. It was all too much and he burst into a torrent of hysterical laughter.
“I know…Spike…it’s ok…Spiders!”
Spike shot to a standing position. “Where?!”
“Nowhere, idiot. I just can’t believe it. I bet you’re one of those people that mistakes a piece of fluff for a spider and runs a mile. I can just see the headlines now: Big bad flees in terror from tomato top! Oh, Spike you kill me.”
Xander continued to giggle and Spike could feel the good humour tugging up the ends of his lips.
“That can be arranged you know, Harris.”
Xander laughed some more and wiped at his eyes before his expression became thoughtful again.
Spike sat back down, opened two more beers and passed one to Xander.
“That’s just it, Spike. Nothings up.”
“It just feels good to be able to laugh. I never could before, not in this house, not when he was alive.”
“Shame that, pet. You got a gorgeous laugh.”
“Yeah. I love to hear it.”
Spike shuffled around the coffee table and settled next to Xander.
“Brightens any room, luv. I can’t believe that your parents wouldn’t wanna hear it.”
“Not seen and not heard, that’s how they liked it.”
“Well…don’t matter now, eh? They’ve gone. You can laugh all you like now, do whatever you want, be whoever you want. And I’m glad. You’re you now, the real you.”
Xander felt a rush of different emotions rise to the surface. Sadness. Relief. Happiness. Loneliness. He shook his head and realised that Spike was still speaking.
“You ever hear from your Ma?”
Xander snorted. “You’re kidding, right? Haven’t heard from her since the funeral. The insurance came through, she ran off to pastures new *and that was that*”
Xander sounded almost glad, but his eyes gave him away. Spike could see that he was hurting.
“Spike. C’mon. Don’t give me the sympathy look.”
“I think I know a sympathy look when I see one. I’ve had enough of them over the years.”
“Sorry, mate. I didn’t mean…”
“It’s ok. I guess a bit of sympathy now and again doesn’t hurt.”
Spike smiled at his friend and brushed a lock of sable hair from his eyes. “I could give you sympathy anytime you liked,” he whispered
Xander smiled back and unconsciously leaned closer to the vampire. “I’d prefer pizza?”
“I could give you that too. No problem”
Silence descended again.
“Spike? You don’t really wanna live in that crypt anymore, do you? What with all the spiders an’ all. You wanna move in here? Could really use a housemate. Sympathy and pizza on tap would be quite nice.”
Spike thought about it for no more than a second. Dank, dark, lonely crypt versus warm, clean house complete with nummy treat.
“Luv to, thought you’d never ask, pet.”
Xander couldn’t help but stare in wonder at Spike. He had stayed right by his side while he went through so much over the past year, helping him deal with his father’s death and all the emotions that went with it.
Xander had felt torn between feelings of grief for the man that had never loved him back and feelings of relief that it was finally over, that Xander could go on and make something of his life without his father breathing down his neck and beating him down all of the way.
Then, his mother had left. She had got her hands on the insurance money and had taken off leaving Xander with a bucket full of debts. He had nearly lost the house and had fallen into a desperate cycle of depression, feeling that even his own life was way out of his control.
It was Spike that had dragged him out of his black pit of despair, shaken him, and forced him to finally get a grip on his life. Why had Spike helped him? Who knows? Maybe Spike saw something of himself in Xander. Maybe he felt sorry for him. Or maybe it was just because they were friends.
“Xan? What is it?”
“I may regret this when you slap me, but…”
Xander leaned in towards Spike. Tilting his head slightly, he placed a brief, soft kiss onto Spike’s lips. Pulling back, he assessed Spike’s reaction. The vampire’s face was unreadable.
“Don’t be. Liked it.”
Spike wrapped cool arms around Xander and tugged him closer. He pressed their lips together again and breathed in the unmistakeable scent of Xander, Cheap soap, chocolate and sunshine. It was nearly intoxicating and Spike found himself needing more. He needed to touch and he needed to taste. He slipped his hand beneath Xander’s shirt and stroked gently at his back, when Xander parted his lips and gasped at the touch, Spike slipped his tongue inside.
When the cool hand slid inside his shirt and caressed his burning skin, Xander thought he had gone to heaven. It was such a simple touch, yet there was something in those fingers, in the way they touched him, that made the contact so much more. It was electric yet sensual, and it threatened to consume him whole. He gasped at the sensation and felt a slick, cool tongue slide into his mouth.
The kiss was slow and tender. Spike mapped out Xander’s mouth with an eager but restrained tongue and Xander responded with equal eagerness but slightly less restraint. He brought trembling hands up to caress Spike’s face, ghosting over a pale neck and a sharp jaw, and finally came to rest in Spike’s hair, entwining ice blond locks around impassioned fingers. Gripping tightly, Xander deepened the kiss and tasted every part of Spike’s mouth, groaning every-time Spike’s tongue duelled with his for dominance.
Spike was on fire. Kissing had never felt like this. Their mouths just seemed to fit like it was meant to be, like they should kiss forever and never let go. He couldn’t help but wonder if other parts would fit just as well.
Xander slowly released Spike’s hair and mouth, “Sorry, got carried away.”
Spike gazed at the flushed human, “Don’t be sorry. Was me that that carried yer.”
Xander laughed. “Like you, Spike.”
“Like you too, pet. Glad your Dad snuffed it.”
Xander chuckled and grabbed their drinks. He passed one to Spike and held his own in the air.
“Ok, then. Here’s to my Dad. One year ago today, you died. Now I am happy. Now I am me. Thank you. We are glad you snuffed it.”