Fandom: BTVS, Spike/Xander
Rating: soft R. Shmaltsy schmoop.
Feedback: Always appreciated.
Disclaimer: Don't sue. I kid because I love.

This is for Werewindle's New Year's Fic Challenge, listed here:
From the options offered, I chosethe Blanket fic option. I offer three ficlets loosely bound together by a common object, a wool blanket. This starts out roughly post Him, and goes AU from there

P.S. I almost forgot! These fics include homage to practically every blanket fic I've ever read; and also to Bed Mice by Sithkitten

Three Blankets


One - December 30, 2002

Fluffy clumps of wet, sticky snow fell, covering everything in a thick blanket of white. The silence of the scene was broken by the sound of furious swearing.

"Damnit Spike, what the hell were you thinking? What would I have told Buffy? That we can always come back for you after the spring thaw?"

Xander helped a half-frozen Spike collapse stiffly into the passenger seat of the car, then jogged around to get in on the driver's side. He quickly started up the car and cranked the heat up as high as it would go. Only then did he acknowledge the tiny ball of fur plaintively meowing his lungs out in Spike's arms.

Spike gladly relinquished his charge to the warmer man and hovered over the heating vents. He thought it wasn't supposed to get this cold in California, but he'd never been in timber country before. He couldn't remember ever feeling this cold. He was actually trembling with it. He hadn't done that since he was human; he thought vampires couldn't get cold enough to shudder with it like this.

"It's OK, kiddo. You're safe now." Xander took off his mittens and used them to dry off the distressed kitten as best he could, then stuffed the tiny tabby inside his jacket. The kitten immediately stopped crying and began to purr, kneading his claws rhythmically into Xander's flannel shirt. Spike envied the little bugger, tucked away all snug and warm.

Xander continued in a stern voice, "Hey little feller, do you have any idea how lucky you are? You ran right in front of the car! I could have run you over!"

Xander abruptly turned to the vampire plastered to the heating vents on his dashboard. "And you! Could you have at least let me stop the car before you jumped out?"

Spike replied through chattering teeth, "Don't know what you're grousing about, you were right behind me! You seemed more then willing to help me cut him off."

"Well yeah, until we hit the edge of the pond! When you ran out onto the ice, I could hear it cracking! Why the hell did you keep on going?! What are you, nuts? It's just a stray kitten, Spike, he's not worth dying for."

"Already dead, Harris; I can't drown... Pond wasn't all that deep anyway." Spike mumbled, squeezing water from the bottom of his T-shirt in a futile attempt to dry off. "Poor guy doesn't deserve to freeze to death, or starve... I didn't know how much longer you'd let me try to chase him down before you'd want to give up and leave." Spike reached stiffly over and scratched under the kitten's chin, determinedly avoiding looking Xander in the eyes. "We’re in the middle of fucking nowhere. Couldn't just leave him there. I... I just couldn't." A muscle in Spike's check twitched as he steeled himself for the mocking he was sure to get. Looking down at the bedraggled little face peeking out from Xander's jacket, he decided he didn't bloody care. It had been worth it.

Instead Xander sighed. "No, clearly you're far too pig-headed to let a little thing like vampire hypothermia stop you." He looked over the violently shivering vampire and wanted to kick himself for feeling sympathy for the evil undead. Just then, the kitten patted his cheek with one paw, shooting him a begging look that reminded him of those 1960's paintings of the starving Parisian waifs with the really big eyes.

With another sigh, he kissed reason goodbye and sent it packing. "Get your wet things off, I'll be right back." Xander got out and rummaged around in the trunk, then came back with his arms full.

"Take this." He threw a blanket around Spike’s shoulders, tucking it around him, then tossed a bulky sweater into his lap. "It's ugly and smells like fish, but at least it's warm and dry." As Spike tossed his T-shirt onto the back seat with a little squelch and pulled on the sweater, Xander pulled out a pair of big thick socks with a rueful smile. "You're lucky I went fishing with the guys from work last weekend. I don't usually keep my electric socks in the trunk." Xander handed Spike the socks, then grabbed the vampire's hands in alarm.

"Holy Moly, your hands are cold!" Xander tugged the socks over Spike's hands while Spike just sat there stunned, and wondering if he hadn't sunk to the bottom of that pond after all. Maybe he was hallucinating all of this, it was the only thing that made sense.

"Who are you, and what have you done with the real Xander Harris?"

"Shut up deadboy. It's not like I suddenly want to be bestest buddies or anything... I just think that anyone who'd do what you just did, well... maybe you might not be all bad." At Spike's look of disbelief, Xander added, "What, can't a guy revise his opinion once in a while?"

The sweater did smell of fish, and felt uncomfortably scratchy against Spike's bare skin, but compared to the sodden T-shirt it was deliciously warm. Spike made a cursory attempt to undo the buttons of his jeans, then turned to Xander and held up his socked hands with a smirk. "Wanna lend me a hand here, Harris?"

For just a second, Xander began to blush and his heartrate sped up. Then he broke into a grin and replied without rancor, "Ha ha, very funny. Once the socks warm up your hands you can take them off and do it yourself." Spike immediately schucked off the socks and started unbuttoning and peeling off his jeans with a half-hidden smirk of his own.

Xander buckled himself in, determined not to look over Spike's way until he was completely bundled up in that old blanket, and not flashing all that smooth, pale skin. Xander continued, "Besides, it's a long drive home; I'll need you to watch the kitty while I run into the next gas station we can find & pick up some food and water for the little guy. He must be starving. Looks like he'll be spending the New Year with us."

With a grin and one last scratch behind the ears of the now comfortably warm and sleepy kitten, Xander put the car in drive and turned back onto the interstate. "Looks like we'll get back to Sunnydale with that old book Giles needed and a little extra bonus. Just wait till the girls hear about this! Brave Sir William – Slayer of Slayers, Protector of the Key - and Savior of Wayward Kittens." Xander added with an exaggerated sniffle, "Wayward smelly kittens. When we get home, both of you are getting a hot bath." He looked down at the little furry head sticking up from the vee of his jacket. "Hey listen up, little buddy! You better not decide to take a piddle in there, if you know what's good for you."

Two - December 31, 2003

The campfire's logs sparked and crackled, warming the chilly air and casting a golden glow over the trees that loomed around the campsite.

Spike and Xander huddled close together under their blanket. Xander was ostensibly teaching Spike the tried and true tradition of roasting marshmallows; but underneath the blanket hands were clasped affectionately, and occasionally roving and exploring in a mad contest to see how far they could go without being detected.

"See, the whole point is to get it nice and golden brown, but not let it actually catch fire or go all black. They don't taste as good when you burn them."

"Not exactly haute quisine to begin with, Harris. I'll take more of that hot cocoa if it's going, though."

Fred smiled as she topped off his cup from her thermos. "Were you a cub scout, Xander?"

Xander smiled ruefully. "Nope, my parents never could afford to send me. But Willow used to go to Girl Scout camp every summer, and when she'd get back she'd go out into the woods with me and Jesse and show us everything she'd learned. She taught me how to tie knots, how to find my way in the woods without a compass, and how to bake bread in a coffee can." At Fred and Gunn's wistful looks, he added, "Thank God she showed me how to use a camp stove, or I might have starved to death before I hit puberty. My mom isn't exactly the best cook, ya know?"

Fred replied, "I never got to join the Girl Scouts. The closest thing I got was Science Camp. And 4-H. It's different when you grow up on a farm... you never have time to do anything fun like camping, unless it's hunting season - and going hunting with the boys was never my idea of fun. Until now, anyway."

Gunn grumbled, "I'm a city boy. All this timber is sorta creepy. I never could understand why somebody would leave the comfort of a nice warm bed to go sleep in a tent. You could get rained on, snowed on, attacked by a bear." Spike shuddered, and Xander's arm pulled him in a little tighter. "I could be home right now, watching Dick Clark in my jammies and eating Haagen-Daz straight out of the carton..." He shrugged. "I know it sounds sucky, but at least it's warmer."

Wesley slid a little closer to Fred and remarked, "This is still the best New Years' Eve I've had in years. I've never been much on big parties, myself." He nibbled around the edges of the gooey confection Xander had lovingly called a "smore."

Fred chuckled. "Most New Years, my brothers would get some beer, and around midnight we'd go out into the field and shoot our own fireworks." Her smile faded. "But then one year Cousin Jeb lost two fingers when a "Black Cat" went off in his hand, and after that Ma never allowed fireworks on the farm. I never realized before how much I missed that."

The conversation paused at the sound of a lone wolf in the distance, howling at the moon.

Gunn slid his charred weenie into a bun with a little grumble. "How much longer are we gonna have to wait for this thing to show up? My butt's frozen solid."

"It'll come when it comes." Angel responded. Silence fell as everyone returned to staring at the fire.

After a moment, Fred's reedy voice broke out into a half-hearted chorus. "Kum-ba-ya, my Lord, Kum-ba-ya…" But at the chorus of groans, she fell silent and went back to roasting weenies.

With a sympathetic look at Fred's sad face, Xander cleared his throat and started to sing.

I'm a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

To his surprise, Spike and Gunn started humming along, and joined him on the chorus.

See them tumbling down
Pledging their love to the ground
Lonely but free I'll be found
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Cares of the past are behind
Nowhere to go but I'll find
Just where the trail will wind
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

I know when night has gone
That a new world's born at dawn.

I'll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Fred clapped her hands, and everyone laughed, grateful for the tension breaker. Suddenly, a huge flapping of wings nearly blew out their campfire. In the blink of an eye, crossbows, guns and a flame-thrower were pulled out of concealment and the giant vulture-demon barely had time to wonder what hit him before he wasn't alive to wonder much of anything anymore.

"So, anyone for more marshmallows?"

Three - January 1st, 2004

Xander woke with an odd feeling. At first he couldn't place it, even thought it might be heartburn for a second, before he recognized that warm gooey feeling in his chest for what it was. For the first time in his life, he was content. He didn't feel lonely anymore. He'd finally found the happiness he'd always been looking for, in the very last place he'd ever have thought to look. Who could have known that the most stable, loving relationship he'd ever known would be with a vampire, let alone this one?

He wanted to memorize this moment in time, to savor it, because this was what life was all about. True happiness wasn't wealth or fame or power. He knew with absolute certainty what the true meaning to life was.

It was getting the last twinkie in the box. Snuggling on the couch and watching Stargate SG-1 reruns. Successfully making a good joke at just the right moment to get Spike to snort beer up his nose. Coming home after a back-breaking day to a good hot, home-cooked meal, made by a vampire wearing nothing but a "Kiss the Cook" apron.

Lying spooned up behind his lover, warm and snuggly under several layers of wooly blankets. Knowing there was no work to go to today, so he could lay there, snooze and cuddle all day long if he wanted. Sheer heaven on earth...

Waking up just in time to observe Bob the Wonder Cat padding over on silent paws to curl up into the sliver of space between the nape of Spike's neck and Xander's chin, purring himself to sleep. After a couple of minutes, Spike began an answering purr that vibrated through Xander's chest, and made a definite impression on his nether regions.

Oh yes, Xander thought. It just doesn't get any better then this. His arms tightened around his lover and he sighed with sheer pleasure. One hand leisurely began to wander lower, stroking along the taut muscles of the vampire's stomach, until he reached the nest of satiny curls and encircled Spike's thickening erection. Still feigning sleep, Spike ground slowly back against Xander's leaking cock, then thrust forward into his lover's tight fist with a gasp.

Suddenly a flying furball launched itself straight up in the air, bounced off the side of Spike's head like a springboard, and attacked the "bedmouse" twitching underneath the covers at approximately crotch level.

By the time Bob was caught and gently but firmly dumped off the side of the bed, Spike was having a hard time keeping up his scowl in the face of Xander's giggles.

"Now, you're quite sure we shouldn't have named him Demon?"

Thwarted from protecting his humans from the dreaded bedmouse threat, Bob contented himself with trying to shred and eat Xander's sneakers. He knew from the noises they were making that it would be quite some time before he could get back up on the bed without the risk of accidently getting kicked or rolled on. But once his human pets finally moved their fun into the shower, that lovely warm spot on the bed was all his.

All in all, he thought, he was one hell of a lucky cat. He had a full belly and a warm home (with no dogs!) and two humans who he could con into giving him anything he wanted. He had a whole basket of kitty toys all to himself, catnip pretty much on demand, and a nice warm spot on the bed with his name on it. Chomping down on one shoe and bunny-kicking it hard, Bob purred in satisfaction. Oh yes, Bob thought. It just doesn't get any better than this.

The End

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