Little Runaway 2


by
Tabaqui



Part Four

Spike stood in the doorway to his room, watching Xander. Xander, who was twisted up in Spike's covers, wrapped around Spike's pillow. Silly git. And what if the Slayer or the Watcher walked in here? He'd probably have heart-failure, tryin' to explain... Spike sighed and winced. Rough night, and his ribs ached, and his head, and his ass. Fucker was out of control. Three more days. Three, that's all, then... Spike smiled, imagining the carnage. He was going to pay every last one of that little clique a visit when the fucking chip was out.

But for now, he had a warm boy in his bed, sighing softly, hair tousled over his cheek and neck, hand loosely splayed on the sheet. Spike stripped and showered, looking with a slow, seething rage at the cuts on his thighs - the bruises everywhere. He wondered if the Slayer would notice - if she'd think they were from fighting or fucking. Watcher might notice - but then, what could he say? Christ, hope Xander calms down today. The boy's frantic heartbeat had driven Spike half mad - he'd listened to it from across the room and wanted to go to him - touch his cheek and run his fingers through his hair and tell him it was all right.

Well fuck. I'm well and truly lost, now aren't I...? This is only going to hurt, damnit. So tired of hurting... Spike toweled himself off roughly and stalked through the house to his room. The dim, saffron light of the rising sun was glowing behind his blinds as he curled into the bed behind Xander - snuggled close and took a deep breath of the sweet anise scent that was just him, was just Xander. Warmth radiating back to him and soaking into him and Xander stirred - sighed - inched closer.

"Spike," his voice fading and falling away, and Spike rumbled a noise down in his chest, purest pleasure. Xander jerked a little. "Spike?"

"M'here, pet," Spike murmured, kissing his shoulder and Xander stiffened for a moment and then wormed closer, his hand finding Spike's and pulling it up to tuck under his chin.

"Can't let them find me in here," he said, so soft, and Spike heaved a huge sigh, knowing the boy was right. But wanting just a little more - a little more of the heat, and the musky-sweet scent, and the faint salt and cloves taste of clean skin and soap.

"I know, love, just let me...just for a minute..." Spike whispered, and Xander nodded, making a little humming sigh of pleasure, one Spike couldn't help but copy. He closed his eyes and just held on.


~*~*~*~*~


Something - touching him. A rough, shaking grip and Spike flinched away - learned response, awareness rocketing to the surface. But not fast enough. A voice - 'Buffy, don't -!' Touch again, harder, and he snarled and lashed out, instinct taking over, sending his fist into a body that yielded with an 'ooof' of expelled air and then no, no nonono! acid and fishhooks, raking him from crown to heels and he shrieked, arching hard off the bed. His eyes snapped open but he only saw flashes and flares of red - sparks of white as the pain arced through him. Then it was done, over. His whole body felt as if it were on fire and he propped himself up on one elbow, gasping in a breath, pushing his palm hard into his forehead in an effort to make the jagged bursts of residual pain stop. Even the dimness of his room was hurtfully bright right at that moment and he closed his eyes. There was a confused babble of voices - Xander, Dawn, Buffy, Giles.

"Jesus, Buffy - told you not -"

"Buffy, you hurt him! I said I-"

"Guys, it's just Spike, he'll -"

"Isn't that a bit of an extreme -" And then Xander's voice over all, brittle with some emotion that Spike wanted desperately to be worry - to be...

"No, it's not extreme, Giles! I sill remember you almost clocking Willow that day when she surprised you in the library after - after what Angel did -"

"Angelus -"

"Whatever! The point is - we told you not to touch him, Buffy; we just call his name from over here and he wakes up. That way nobody gets hurt."

"Has someone been hurt?"

"Yes, Giles, Spike has been hurt." Spike felt a rusty, reluctant chuckle bubbling up in his chest and he stifled it. That's it, boy - tell him! Why are you telling him? Did they find you in bed? His brain felt sluggish and too bruised to work right and he flopped back down onto the pillows, inhaling the lingering traces of anise and salt that meant always means Xander. Never gonna shake this, how'd I let him get IN so fast? Pathetic sod...anything for... But he wouldn't let that word form even in utter silence behind closed lids and he sighed in relief as the voices moved away - as Buffy and Giles and Dawn left the house.

A moment later the edge of the bed sagged a little and he felt Xander's hand - hesitant and warm - stroking the hair back off his forehead - stroking through and through the rumpled strands.

"Sorry, Spike. I tried to stop her -"

"Mmm..." Spike opened his eyes and looked up at Xander - saw the defeated droop of his shoulders and the sadness that made his usually lively eyes dull and dark. "Not your fault, pet. Not much stops the Slayer when she wants to do somethin', you know? You tried. More than most would do."

"I... I just..." Xander seemed to be having a sudden rush of severe self-doubt and Spike curled himself around Xander's hip and thigh - put his head on Xander's knee. Get what you can. I'll let him off the hook, make it easy.

"Listen, Xander, you don't have to tell them - anything. You should just fly back with them. Easier all around, don't you think?" Spike felt Xander's hand stop - felt his body stiffen and his heartbeat skip up a couple of notches.

"But - but I -" His voice was shaky and Spike sighed.

"It's all right, pet, it'll be fine."

"Stop it. Stop it, Spike! Don't - oh, fuck!" Xander jerked himself away and stood up fast, pacing to the window.

That's it, then. Go on and spit it out, boy... Spike curled into the lingering warmth left behind and rested his head on his folded arm. Trying not to look...as desperate as he felt. "Xan -"

"No, wait. Do you want me to - to go back with them? I thought...thought you -" Xander turned away from the window, curling his hands into fists, obviously trying for some sort of control. "I thought - you wanted m-me -" He stopped then, just looking at Spike - looking with those dead eyes, the color gone under his tan so he looked ill - looked - broken.

Oh, fuck. FUCK. It won't be good...can't be good... Spike wanted to tell him 'no' - wanted to tell him go home to his family and his life. Wanted to - tried to. But what came out of his mouth when he opened it to speak was the truth, the damning truth and Spike was already seeing the miserable inevitability that would come from it.

"Course I want you, love. I'd be daft not to." Xander just stared at him - stared for so long Spike wondered what, exactly, had come out of his mouth. The life flooding back into Xander's face was - sunlight through mist, all glowing edges and soft shadows and Xander smiled at him - smiled and took five long strides to the bed and kneeled down, and put that smile and that sunshine straight into Spike with a kiss as eager as it was all-consuming. Spike gave himself up to it, not caring, anymore, where it all might lead. The now - was too sweet to be denied.





Part Five


"So I've decided that - that what I'm going to do is go back with S-spike. Ride back with him. Instead of you guys." Xander could feel his fingernails digging so hard into his knees he wondered if they'd actually gone through the denim. He braced himself and waited, watching his news percolate through their brains. Giles - got it. Buffy was - almost there - ding!

"Xander - are you seriously saying that you want to stay down here and ride in that deathtrap for days with Spike?"

"Yeah, that's what I'm seriously saying, Buff. I just -"

"And Spike is letting you," Giles interrupted, and Xander blinked and wet his lips.

"Well, yeah, he - he's fine with it. I can drive during the day like I did coming down here and -"

"Xander. You do know Willow's waiting for you? I don't get it. Spike can get home just fine - or stay here - Glory's gone, it's not like we need him anymore -"

"Buffy!" Dawn looked furious and Buffy looked over at her impatiently.

"What? We don't actually need him. It's not like I was all - helpless and stuff before he got himself fixed!" Xander wanted to slap Buffy for that - was glad that Spike was already gone for the night and couldn't hear her. And his stomach hurt. Literally hurt, because this...was worse than the yelling he'd expected.

"Besides, Xander hates Spike. Why would he want to spend any more time with him?" Buffy turned a sudden gimlet-eyed look on him, frowning. "Is he blackmailing you? Did you - do something or - or is he holding something over your head -?"

"Buffy! Jesus!" Xander shot to his feet, pacing away from them, pushing his hands back through his hair in frustration. God What Buffy was saying was suddenly making him feel like he was a kid - like he was too stupid to realize just what he was doing. "What in hell could he be blackmailing me over? Do you think I've done something - something bad or something? I mean -"

"No, Xander, calm down." Giles sat forward on the couch, absently rubbing his forehead. "We know you didn't do anything...uh...illegal or - or bad, but - you've been alone for some months and probably - very lonely and -"

"I haven't been alone, Dawn's been here and Spike's been here -"

"And we're friends -" Dawn added, but Buffy shushed her.

"Fine, fine, you're all buddy-buddy. Which is really kinda weird." Buffy sighed and shook her head - looked at her watch. "It's late, and the plane leaves early. I dunno why you want to hang out with Spike but - fine - do it." She made a sort of throwing-away gesture with her hands. "Dawn's got school again in a couple of weeks, and I'm going back to school too, so..."

"So what you're doing is more important, yeah," Xander said, shrugging, and Buffy looked pissed off for a moment.

"Well if you were coming back with us, you could do something - important too! But you wanna stay down here, so - fine. I'm going to go get cleaned up and go to bed. C'mon Dawn, let's go pack those shirts we bought." Buffy stood up, impatient, and Dawn rose more slowly, biting her lip. Oh, so much worse than yelling, 'cause Buffy...just didn't care.

"Are you - sure you... I mean, I'm gonna miss you, Xander. Why can't we get Spike a ticket?" Dawn turned to Giles, a pleading look on her face, but Xander interrupted the older man before he could answer.

"Spike doesn't want to leave his car down here, Dawn. You know that. We won't be long behind - I'll bring you a souvenir from every state we drive through, okay?"

Dawn sighed, but then she smiled a little at Xander, looking tired. "Yeah, okay. I just... Okay." She started to follow Buffy out of the room and then darted back to hug Xander hard. "I'll miss you, is all," she whispered, and Xander hugged her back.

"Miss you too, Dawnie. G'night."

"'Night, Xander. 'Night, Giles."

"Yes, yes, goodnight, Dawn." Giles rose as well and went into the kitchen - retrieved Spike's bottle from the cupboard and poured himself a drink. He leaned there against the counter and Xander leaned opposite, watching him. "You know, Xander... When I was younger, I did - a lot of foolish things. Ethan Rayne comes to mind and Eyghon..." Giles took another sip, his eyes on some middle distance. "These things - made for trouble, in the end. They made me wish quite desperately that I'd done otherwise." Giles looked straight at Xander, his eyes mild and calm but something there - some spark of something that Xander felt might burn him to a cinder if he wasn't careful.

"Giles..." Xander stopped, and considered everything. Considered the feeling of Spike curling up behind him in the bed, just wanting skin-on-skin, just wanting him there. Considered what Spike had been doing, these past three months. What he had been doing. Considered how he'd felt only a week ago - and how he felt now. "I'm not doing anything I'll regret, Giles. I promise." He looked back at the older man with, he hoped, the same mild gaze and Giles finished his drink - set his glass in the sink and slid his glasses off, tucking them into his shirt. He stood there for a moment, and then he shook his head ever so slightly.

"Well. Goodnight then, Xander," he said, and turned and walked out of the kitchen. And his tone - his look - was so disappointed, so dismissive - Xander felt a rush of panic. Felt that he'd just lost - whatever he might have had with Giles. Whatever friendship that might have been growing between them.

"Giles -" Xander said, but too soft. Giles was gone. For a moment Xander wanted him back. Wanted to tell him everything that had happened - wanted to confess how he felt and what he'd done - wanted to tell him everything about Spike. About him and Spike. If there even is such a thing... But - he didn't. He listened to Giles going into the bedroom - listened to Buffy and Dawn in the bathroom and then to Giles in the bathroom - listened to them settling and the house becoming silent. He could never tell Giles about what Spike had done - was doing. About the blood-house, or the chip - any of it. And he didn't want to tell Giles about Spike...about kissing him, or holding him, or just...talking with him. That was his, his own secret, his own little bit of warmth against the coldly dismissive Watcher and against Buffy's total lack of caring. Spike's mine. Not theirs. He...choose me over Buffy. I think. He...ASKED me, he... I won't betray his secrets and I won't tell mine...

That made him feel...totally alone. After awhile he went into Spike's room and curled up in the chair in the corner - let his eyes run over the books Spike had acquired while they were there. Volumes and volumes bound in dull, old leather - faded greens and blues and reds, dirty browns. One lay on the shelf out of place, with a piece of newspaper marking the page and Xander reached and picked it up - opened the book.


"...the General seized Martine's hand and held it for a long time without a word. At last he said:
"I have been with you every day of my life. You know, do you not, that it has been so?"
"Yes," said Martine, "I know that it has been so."
"And," he continued, "I shall be with you every day that is left to me. Every evening I shall sit down, if not in the flesh, which means nothing, in spirit, which is all, to dine with you, just like tonight..."



The words made his throat hurt for some reason, and he held the book and lay and his head on the chair - stared out the window at the lights of the city, waiting for Spike.


~*~*~*~*~


"Xander? Wake up, pet..." Soft voice - soft fingers easing the book out of his grasp - brushing his hair back. "You need to wake up now," Spike said, and Xander sighed and burrowed a little closer into the heavy, silky fabric of the chair.

"Don't want to," he whispered, and he heard Spike doing something - heard the heavy sound of his coat being tossed on the bed, and then Spike was worming into the chair, dislodging Xander and pulling him half onto his lap - wrapping his arms around him and burying his face in Xander's hair.

"Did you tell them, then?"

Xander sighed again, opening his eyes. The room was lit with a dim, greyish rose light and Spike smelled like whiskey and like blood, and like oranges. "Yeah. I did."

"So you been up half the night, havin' some sorta - argument?" Spike's mouth, close enough to his neck that he could feel the brush of cool lips, and breath stirring his hair.

"No. They didn't - argue at all. Buffy was too concerned about getting back home and... Giles..." Xander let his eyes close again and fought the surge of anger and pain that came with the older man's name.

"What about Rupert, pet?" Spike murmured, and his arms hugged a little tighter.

"He - I think he kinda...knows. And he gave me - an out. Gave me a chance to tell him - everything - and tell him... Tell him I'd made a mistake." Xander opened his eyes again because Spike's arms had squeezed just a little too tight for a moment. He looked at them, crossing over his belly, almost glowing in the filtered light, ugly bruises like dapples up his forearms.

"What -" Spike started to say, and Xander squirmed in his grip - twisted and slid down until he was on his knees, his hands on the arms of the chair, Spike's thighs on either side of him. He leaned there for a moment, looking up the several inches into Spike's face. Watching the vampire turn his head away a little, watching the wide-open eyes shutter and darken.

"I told him I didn't have any regrets. And he - walked away." Spike stared past him - stared at the window or the bookshelf for a long, long moment, and then he shifted and turned his head - looked at Xander with no expression on his face whatsoever.

"So, you still gonna - come back with me?" Spike asked, and Xander let his hands slide down off the chair-arms and up Spike's forearms and biceps - let his fingers thread into Spike's mussed, ragged hair. Tugged him gently forward, until their foreheads were just touching.

"Yeah. I am," he said quietly. "Wouldn't miss it for the world." He could feel Spike smiling, and he lifted his head just a little and pressed his lips to Spike's - delicately kissed until Spike made a hrummph sort of noise and pulled him in tight, kissing him hard. Kissing him like he just couldn't get enough. Xander knew exactly how that felt.

The quoted lines are from 'Babette's Feast' a short story in 'Anecdotes of Destiny' by Isak Dinesen





Part Six

The house was so quiet, after they left. Still. Like a tomb, Xander thought, which led inevitably to thoughts of Spike, the resident undead. Doesn't even make me flinch, anymore. Undead. So what. Xander stood on the balcony, knowing he was hiding, a little. It was just after nine in the morning and Spike couldn't come out after him - the balcony was flooded with the hard, hot sun of a late-summer day and it felt...really good. But I'm still hiding. I'm alone with him now like I wanted to be but... What do we - do? Xander felt just a little ridiculous but he couldn't force himself to go in, not just yet. He was still trying to process the morning, anyway. The goodbye scene which hadn't really been a scene but had been...something...


"Dawn, we have to go in ten minutes! Are you ready?" Buffy impatiently checks her watch - pats the row of luggage by the door and then looks up, frowning, as Spike as Dawn walk into the living room. Spike is saying something - talking low in her ear - and Dawn is sniffling already.

"Here now, none of that," Spike says gently, wiping at Dawn's face with his fingers and tucking her hair back behind her ear. Dawn just looks up at him, her eyes so big and hurt and lost, already. "Look, I've got you a present." Spike is holding a - book? No - more like an album and Dawn takes it with a look of surprise - sits down on the couch and opens it. Xander leans over to see and Spike just watches Dawn.

The album is full of pictures. The first is their house, and Xander recognizes the picture they saw in the want ad - how it was before. Only this is a color picture, probably the one the realtor copied to make the ad. The house looks so - barren. The next page is a new picture of the house, only this time it looks as if it were taken days ago, with the plants and trees and flowers that Dawn picked out and they planted together - with the old stucco re-painted a soft terra-cotta, the rails and little benches and gate and archway all done in the turquoise Dawn liked so well.

The rest of the pictures are the same - shots of the house as it was when they moved in - all dull walls and bare windows - and shots taken who knew when with the sun coming in soft and golden through the blinds, glowing on the walls. Spike's room in plum-red and amber, Xander's in the navy and cream and soft mocha-brown Dawn had persuaded him to. The gold and green kitchen, the bathroom all blues and pearls. And Dawn's room, yellows and creams and small, vivid bits of scarlet. Dawn wipes repeatedly at her eyes until she comes to the last page; herself and Serafina in their white party dresses, Xander and Dawn sprawled on the couch in 'movie-mode' and Spike, sitting and smoking at the kitchen table, small smile and tilt of his head. Then she just breaks down and sobs, and Spike moves instantly to kneel beside her and rub her shoulder - offer a tissue from the box on the end table.

"Please come back with us, Spike -" Dawn wails, and Spike looks taken aback - looks uneasily at Xander and hugs Dawn gently. Buffy is watching from the door and silently fuming - Giles is staring silently out the double doors to the balcony, probably not seeing the white-capped water of the Gulf or the ships that are churning slowly by, his shoulders tense under his light summer shirt.

"Now Bit, you know I can't. Can't leave my darling down here, can I? It'd be a heap of rust in a month, pet. I'll be back before you know it. Now pull yourself together, Bit; don't want to be all splotchy on the plane. Go wash your face, yeah?"

"Spike! Stop that! Stop trying to just - just -" Spike sighs, offering more tissues, and Dawn snatches a handful and mops her face.

"It can't be helped, pet, so better to just leave off, yeah? Just - don't think about it. Look - you've got pictures of all your hard work right here to show your mates back home. Bet they'll be askin' you to do their rooms up next, yeah? And Serafina said she'd come see you soon, and -"

"I’m not a CHILD, Spike!" Dawn says, but the wobble in her voice betrays her. She swallows and clenches her fists around the sodden tissues. "You don't have to distract me with - with TOYS." Her voice is hard but her hand is gentle with the album - closing it carefully and stroking its red leather cover. "This is really nice," she says, but then skewers Spike with a hard look. "You ARE coming back, right?"

Spike makes an astonished face - manga-eyes and open mouth - and Xander almost laughs. Buffy makes some sort of snorting noise.

"Bit! How could you? Would I lie to you?"

"Of course you would, Spike. It's time to go, Dawn." Buffy strides over and snatches the album - crams it into the top of Dawn's carry-on and jerks the draw-string tight. "Go use the bathroom if you need to, Dawn, the taxi's here and we have to go." Dawn stares up at her for a minute and then she grabs Spike in a huge, hard hug, burying her face in his neck. Spike shoots Buffy a glare - a kind of 'don't you DARE' look - and hugs her back just as hard.

"I'll miss you. Be careful and - and take care of Xander, please don't - don't let him get hurt. And - I love you, Spike," Dawn gasps out, then she's pushing to her feet and running for the bathroom and Spike is left crouching there, a look of utter disbelief and wonder on his face. Five minutes later they're gone, and Xander waves a last time from the balcony.



~*~*~*~*~


Xander shifted a little and sighed - leaned on the railing, idly watching the Gulf and a handful of gulls dart and dive, finding lunch in the sand near an outdoor café.

"Going to hide out there all day, pet?" Spike's voice was like a caress of cool velvet and Xander shivered a little - turned and looked into the house, waiting for his eyes to adjust. Spike was standing there in his oldest jeans and tightest t-shirt, his hair still mussed from his shower, his eyes sunk a little into bruised-looking sockets. Nobody had said a word about the ladder of cuts going up his arms, but now Xander felt a slow, twisting knot of anger in his gut. He pushed away from the rail and went straight up to Spike - hesitated for one long moment and then hugged him close. Spike's arms came up around him immediately and he made a small gasping sound.

"Fuck, you're so hot, that feels so good -" Spike was burrowing into him - getting his hands and arms up under Xander's shirt, searching for the sun-bought heat and Xander let him - pressed close and just held on. "C'mon to bed with me, pet, yeah? You gotta start keepin' vampire hours an' I'm..." Spike didn't finish that but Xander knew what he was saying. Not 'I'm tired', although he probably was but; 'I don't want to be alone. I'm cold. I'm...lost.' It was how Xander was feeling anyway, and he went willing along with Spike to the warm, ruddy-gold of his room. Somehow, taking off his clothes didn't make him feel self-conscious anymore, and slipping into the musky, smoky nest of sheets and blanket was a relief. Spike pulled him on top - got arms and one leg around him and it was like a cocoon almost except Xander didn't care. He pushed his face into Spike's neck and just breathed in the scent that was rapidly becoming the scent of home to him - of comfort and safety.

"I hope Dawn's okay," he murmured, and Spike's arms tightened around him.

"She'll be fine, pet. Niblet's stronger than she looks. You'll see." Spike's hands were rubbing in slow, easy sweeps up and down Xander's back and he shifted and sighed and kissed the smooth skin that was under his mouth.

"Spike..." he said, and then didn't know what else to say.

"What is it, love?" Spike murmured.

"I...I want..." Xander stopped again, feeling a rush of blood to his face - to his whole body. He knew exactly what he wanted, but asking - was hard. Asking opened him up for rejection.

"Ask me, Xan. Anything you want."

Don't be so stupid - he's right here! He's holding on like...like you want him to hold on. Just... "You said - next time... You said you would - show me...what it's like?" There was a moment's silence from Spike and then he shifted a little and Xander felt a cool hand under his chin, lifting his head.

"You want me to - be inside you, pet? Is that what you're asking?" Spike's eyes were dark in the dim room - were half-shut and fathomless and Xander couldn't make a sound, so he just nodded - stretched forward a little and kissed Spike's jaw, then his lips, slow and soft.

"Please?" His voice cracked a little and he paused, taking a long breath in. "I... It feels like I just..." Want you to be in charge. Want you to just take care of me - just for a little while. Just - long enough. Please...

"Course I will, love," Spike whispered, and Xander shuddered with relief and longing, kissing Spike again only deeper, and harder.

God...please don't let it hurt... Please let me do this right...

"I can hear your heart, pet - it's beating like a drum. You're not afraid of me, are you?" Spike asked, and Xander shook his head - took another deep breath, letting his forehead fall to Spike's shoulder.

"No, I'm just - I don't wanna - mess this up."

Spike laughed but it was quiet, not mocking. "Told you already - you can't. But this is for me to do, yeah?" Spike rolled them both a little - got Xander on his side and got himself up on his elbow and leaned there, looking at him. Xander couldn't stop the hand that reached out and lightly traced the curve of collarbone and pectoral and bicep.

"Trust me, pet?" Soft question - easy question, really. So frighteningly easy to answer.

"Yeah. I do," Xander replied, and Spike smiled.




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