Hard-Bitten


by
Whichclothes



Part Five


“It’s a girl! I’m not sure how much she weighed because they told me in kilos and I still can’t keep metric straight, even though I really should by now, but she’s kind of big, and she’s healthy, and she has the cutest little nose, and—”

“Morning, Will.” Xander tried to shake the sleep from his head. A glance at the clock told him it was 9:30 am, much earlier than he was used to waking up. Spike glared at him balefully and didn’t release his grip around Xander’s waist.

“Oh. Good morning, Xan.”

“Everybody’s okay? Buff and the baby?”

“They’re fine. They’re calling her Emily Joyce, isn’t that nice? We’re gonna do a naming ceremony in a few days, sort of a pan-denominational thing, and Giles is the godfather, which is perfect, isn’t it? Dawnie’s gonna fly in tomorrow. I’m an aunt, Xander! I always wanted to be one. And you’re Uncle Xander. Do you think I’ll be the cool kind of aunt, like the kind she comes and talks to when she’s fifteen and has all sorts of questions she can’t ask her parents, and—”

“I’m sure you’ll be the coolest.”

“Xan? When are you coming home? We miss you.”

“Thanks, Will. But we’re still working on our problems, you know?”

She sighed. “I know. And I haven’t found a cure yet. But I’m looking.”

“Thanks. Hey, give Buff and the new kid kisses for me, okay?”

“Okay. And don’t think you’re going to get out of diaper-changing duty, mister.”

“I’ll be looking forward to it,” he laughed.

He hung up and set the phone back on the bedside table.

“Slayer and sprog all right?”

“Yep. A girl. Hey, you don’t think she’ll be a Slayer, too, do you?”

Spike chuckled. “It’d serve Buffy right, wouldn’t it?”

Xander had a mental image of Buffy arguing with a teenaged version of, well, herself. He smiled and snuggled back down under the blankets and vampire.


~*~*~*~*~


Several more days passed. Xander lost count, because they were all pretty much the same. Sometimes Xander felt like everybody had forgotten about them in their cozy midwestern hideout. They were all so busy with babies and apocalypses.

Spike healed.

They watched lots of tv and argued about stupid things and chatted with the maid when she came to clean their room. They took walks together after dark, but didn’t want to risk another fight, or worse, so they stayed away from bars. In fact, they stayed away from everything, just tromping along lonely streets together, or standing and watching the Chicago River flow under their feet.

Xander went out one afternoon and brought some books back for Spike. No Dracula this time, but instead Christopher Moore (this one was a vampire book, too, actually, but it made Spike snort with laughter) and David Sedaris and Neil Gaiman. Xander was so sick of television that he read, too, actually, voluntarily read, and it didn’t even kill him.

So Xander was reclining on the bed, chortling to himself at Sedaris’s attempts to learn French, when he felt like someone was watching him. He looked up from his book. Spike was in the armchair, staring at him, and now Xander knew exactly how a gazelle must feel when it was stalked by a lion.

“Uh, Spike? There’s lots more blood in the fridge,” he said uneasily. “Want me to heat you some?”

“Not hungry,” Spike rumbled, not in the least reassuringly.

“Um…is something wrong?”

“No. Nothing at all.” Spike slowly put his own book on the floor next to him and stood, and then prowled toward the bed.

“Spike?” Xander squeaked, in a way that couldn’t remotely be construed as manly.

“Xxxxaaaannnnn,” Spike purred, and, in one graceful motion, pulled his black t-shirt over his head and let it fall on the floor.

Xander abandoned his own book and tried to scoot away, but there was only a narrow space between the bed and the wall, and he was pretty sure that Spike would pounce on him the instant he tried to escape.

Spike took another step closer and, one-handed, popped open the buttons on his jeans. He did a little shimmy move that Xander desperately tried to tell himself wasn’t the sexiest thing he’d ever seen in his life, and, with vampire grace, stepped right out of his pants.

Xander had seen Spike nude before. Recently, even. And he’d been sleeping with that incredible bare body glued to his for two weeks. But now Spike was stalking toward him with that look on his face, and Spike’s pupils were so dilated the blue was almost obscured, and his cock, dear gods, his cock was stiff and glistening a little at the tip.

“This isn’t funny,” Xander choked.

“Not laughing,” replied Spike, who had reached the bed.

“Look, Spike, it’s the spell again, you don’t really want—“

“I need this,” Spike said, and he knelt on the bed, then crawled on all fours until he was inches from Xander. “Need you, Xan. Now. Please.”

“Spike….”

Spike blinked at him with eyes as big as a cartoon puppy’s, and, in a hoarse whisper, repeated, “Please?”

You know how that shimmy was the sexiest thing Xander had ever seen? Now it was only second sexiest, and the number one spot was taken up by Spike naked on his bed on hands and knees, begging him. Xander thought it very unlikely that anything was going to be able to top that.

Xander was absolutely unable to form an answer at all.

Maybe Spike took his silence at acquiescence, because he reached out one hand and, gentle as could be, set it on Xander’s left upper thigh.

Xander gathered all his reserves and gave it one more try. “It’s the csípés. It’s making you do this, Spike. You don’t really want to.”

“But I do. I really, really want to.” And he moved his hand. Just a few inches, no big deal, except now it was on top of the prominent bulge at Xander’s groin. “You want to as well.”

It was more of a statement than a question, but Spike didn’t move, and he looked Xander steadily in the eye. Xander understood at once that Spike really would stop if he told him to, that the vampire truly didn’t want to act against Xander’s will, but at the moment, anyway, Spike honestly was frantic for him. Both of them were going to regret this later. But Xander’s will power had its limits.

“Yes,” he said, barely audibly, but Spike heard him and closed his eyes briefly in relief.

Demonically fast, Spike moved so that he was straddling Xander. “Skin,” he hissed. “Want skin.” And he tore Xander’s t-shirt right down the middle. Spike groaned as he stroked his cool palms up and down Xander’s torso, leaving a tingling path from neck to waist. Then he bent down and took one of Xander’s nipples between those soft, full lips and sucked on it.

“Fuck,” said Xander. That wasn’t what he was thinking. What he was thinking was that he was obviously incredibly easy, and right about now Spike could do pretty much anything he wanted to him, and Xander would only plead for more. Which probably wasn’t a wise thing to say to Spike, who was nibbling lightly on that nipple now while rolling the other between his finger and thumb. So it was a good thing that Xander was mostly incapable of speech at the moment.

After a while, Spike ripped at Xander’s sleeves until the shirt was no longer on him, but only under him. Then Spike explored Xander’s upper half with his mouth. He began at his favorite spot on Xander’s neck, but then he moved down a little to trace Xander’s collar bone, and to lick at his shoulders, and to bite softly at his belly. Then up again, and now their mouths were pressed together and their tongues were dancing in a kiss that was leaving Xander breathless and a little dizzy.

All this time, Xander’s hands had been flat at his sides, as stupid and useless as the rest of him. But when Spike sucked on his earlobe, Xander couldn’t stand it any longer, and he cupped his palms onto the vampire’s silky, round ass. Apparently Spike approved because he moaned and wiggled in an entirely satisfactory way.

Xander massaged the powerful muscles under his hands as Spike left a trail of tiny kisses across his right cheekbone, then his left. Suddenly, Spike murmured, “Sod this,” and pulled the patch off of Xander’s eye. He tossed it onto the floor.

Xander tensed. He knew the socket wasn’t pretty. Freakish, really. He didn’t even like looking at it himself, and he never took the patch off in front of others, not even on those rare occasions when he slept with someone. But Spike only continued his kisses, tiny, tender butterfly touches around the empty socket and then across the lid.

And then he was moving again, this time down the center of Xander’s chest and stomach, until he reached the top of Xander’s jeans. Xander had a momentary fear that Spike was going to tear them, too, and that would probably hurt. But he didn’t. He unbuttoned and unzipped them, and then pulled them and Xander’s boxers off together. They joined the patch on the floor.

Spike looked down at Xander’s cock, which was achingly hard and mighty happy to have been released from the confines of clothing. “Pretty,” Spike said. He swooped down and took it in his mouth.

Xander’s overly full head—the one on the top of his shoulders, not the one currently bathed in cold, delicious suction—was as busy as always. Reminding him that the mouth that encircled one of his very most favorite parts housed rows of shark-like teeth, and the vampire that controlled those teeth was maybe kind of unstable at his best, and lately full-blown bipolar or multiple personality or something, and while spell-induced lust was turning out to be a very nice thing indeed, what if it turned into anger or hunger or something considerably less enjoyable on his end? And anyway, wasn’t he just two weeks ago agonizing over the fact that he kinda liked it when a guy smooched him, and that guy turned out to be an evil wizard, and now here he was doing considerably more than smooching with a guy, a guy vampire, but then it wasn’t like any of this really mattered because there’s no way in a thousand hells he was going to try to stop this, because Jesus Christ nothing had ever felt this good, and he lied before, that begging on all fours thing was certainly very sexy but it was only number two, which moved the naked prowling to number three, because number one was definitely, absolutely, the sight of that blond head bobbing at his crotch, and those hungry ice-blue eyes rolled up to gaze at him, and

“Fuck, Spike, I’m gonna—“

Spike pulled off with a loud pop. His lips were swollen and red and Xander absolutely had to taste them right this second. He pulled Spike up until they were face to face and pressed down gently on the back of Spike’s head, then sucked that lower lip right into his mouth. It was as delicious as he’d thought. Spike was humping against him, their wet cocks slipping and sliding against each other.

Abruptly, Spike sat up. Then, still straddling Xander, he rose to his knees. As Xander watched, mouth agape, he slipped two fingers of his left hand into his mouth, moved them in and out for a moment, and then reached underneath himself and pressed them inside.

“Fuck,” said Xander again. It was the only word he knew.

Spike grinned at him and then rocked his hips against his hand. He allowed his head to fall back a little and his eyes to close, and he was chewing on that delectable lip.

Xander reached up and, slightly hesitantly, touched Spike’s cock. He’d never touched another man before, not like this. It was so strange to wrap his fist around a penis that wasn’t his, but it also felt really good, and he liked how Spike’s soft skin moved around the rigid core as Spike thrust himself into his palm.

Unlike him, Spike was uncircumcised, and Xander thought he might like to play a little with the foreskin, see what it was like, but not now. Right now he would rather watch Spike, see his fingers disappear and reappear, watch the play of emotions across that beautiful face.

With his other hand, he cradled Spike’s balls. There, too, soft and hard. Xander wondered what they tasted like, what the sticky liquid leaking steadily from his cock tasted like. He took his hand away from Spike’s cock and licked at his fingers. Spike made a strangled noise and, quick as lightning, flipped them both over.

Underneath Xander, Spike bent his knees and pulled them up and wide. Xander lifted up on his arms so he could see Spike spread out beneath him, writhing and panting, his pink hole stretched and twitching, his belly painted with pre-cum. “Fuck me,” Spike said. “Please, Xan, fuck me, fuck me, fuck me, please….”

Xander had maybe one operational brain cell left. “But…lube,” he stuttered.

“Don’t have any. ‘S okay. Vampire. God, please, Xander!”

Xander took his own cock in his hand and guided it against Spike’s opening. Spike’s eyes flew wide open and his panting increased, and he arched his hips upward against Xander. Excruciating slowly, because if he went fast this was all going to be over embarrassingly quickly, Xander sank inside.

“Fuck,” he said, intelligently. And then, for good measure, “Fuck.”

Spike moaned, maybe partly in pain because this had to hurt, but that didn’t stop him from rocking upward again. His eyes were heavy-lidded and unfocused. “More,” he said. “Please, please, more, fuck me, more, please.”

Okay. We have a new number one.

It was all Xander could stand. He began to piston into Spike hard, hard, and Spike thrashed under him and called out brokenly for more, and harder, and please, and more, and god, yes, like that, and Xander leaned in until Spike was bent almost double, and Spike gripped Xander’s biceps and his fingernails dug into Xander’s skin but Xander didn’t care, and Spike was so tight and so good and so beautiful, and Spike was howling so loud that Xander had to silence him with his own mouth, only the headboard was still slamming rhythmically into the wall, and god, it was so good, and cold liquid spurted across his belly as Spike’s muscles clenched him, and his head was exploding apart in slow motion into a zillion happy little fragments and the explosion ran right down his spine into his balls and his cock, and, fuck, fuck, fuck, and he was floating back to earth like a feather, so slow, so light.

With a final grunt, Xander collapsed on top of Spike. Spike straightened his legs and wound them around Xander’s, and sucked a little on Xander’s neck. Xander was still inside Spike, and it was a nice place to be. Nice enough for just…a little…nap.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, Xander regained enough energy to peel himself up. Spike moaned and clutched at him just a little when he went to withdraw, and then let go. With a groan, Xander collapsed at Spike’s side.

Spike turned and looked at him, his eyes wide, his face solemn. Then he noticed the bloody little crescents on Xander’s upper arms. He leaned over and licked at them with a delicate cat tongue. When the wounds were clean, he settled back on his pillow.

“Sorry,” he said.

“Better now?” Xander asked.

“Much.”

“What brought that on?”

“Was just watching you, reading on the bed. You were…pretty.”

“Huh.”

“I didn’t mean….” Spike sighed.

“Look, I know it was the spell, okay? I don’t think this means we’re engaged or anything.”

Spike reached over and ran a thumb across Xander’s cheek, just under the missing eye. “Wasn’t just the spell. The emotions always start out as my own, don’t they?”

Xander shut his eye for a moment. “I’m sorry, Spike. I could have stopped you. I just…I didn’t want to.”

“Do you wish you had?”

“Not…not for my sake. I mean…wow. And can I just say, wow.”

Spike’s smile was almost shy. “Yeah?”

“I’ve never…not with a guy, you know.”

Spike blinked at him. “I thought you said—“

“Yeah, well, that’s sort of a recent thing, actually. I mean, the admitting I like men, not the actually liking them, because that’s been going on a long time.”

“How long?”

“At least since I tried to pretend that the vamp tied up in my basement wasn’t incredibly attractive.”

Spike smirked. “Knew you wanted me then. Git.”

“What about you?”

“Oh, I’ve always known I’m incredibly attractive.”

Xander slapped him on the ass. “No. I mean, I didn’t realize until today that you liked men, too.”

“I like to keep my options open. I was a virgin when I died—Victorian and all, yeah?—but then after I tried all sorts of things. I mean, Angelus—“

“Wait! You and Angel?”

“Angelus, yeah.”

“Oh, my god. Buffy would have a cow if she knew.”

“No, Buffy would picture the possibilities if she knew, but now she’s a mum and we don’t want to torment her, do we?”

“Hmm. You and Angel—recently?”

“No. Said Angelus, didn’t I? Long ago. Twat’s been too good for me ever since. Besides, wouldn’t want to make him too happy, would I?”

“And you would. Because I’m feeling very happy right now.”

Spike kissed his nose, but then he looked serious. “Look, Xan, you know we can’t—“

“I know. Told you. I’m not ready to pick out colors for the wedding, okay? It was just the spell. But I can enjoy for a few minutes, can’t I?”

Spike looked at him for a long moment, his head slightly tilted. Then he reached over and took Xander’s suddenly interested cock in his hand. “Perhaps we can enjoy a bit more than that,” he said.


~*~*~*~*~


“Dammit, why isn’t he answering?” Xander angrily tossed the phone onto the desk.

“Maybe he’s busy fighting.”

“For, what? A week? We haven’t heard from him in a week, and I’ve left about a thousand messages. Can’t be the apocalypse, because, hello? World’s still here.”

“Pillock probably forgot to charge the thing. Twenty-first century technology is a bit much for him.” Spike stood and stretched, and Xander watched a white line of flesh appear between his t-shirt and jeans and then disappear again. He’d have thought that after yesterday’s adventures he would be pretty sated, but it seemed they’d only made him hungrier for the vampire today. Spike had shot him a leer or two, but hadn’t said anything about yesterday, and certainly hadn’t made any moves. Xander wished he were brave enough to make a move himself, but he was too afraid Spike would laugh it off.

Xander flopped back on the bed in frustration and annoyance. “A few more days stuck here and I’m gonna be crazier than you. There’s got to be something we can do instead of just sitting around.”

Spike grabbed a plastic packet from the fridge and stuck it in the warm water in the ice bucket. He hummed quietly to himself while he waited, drumming his finger on the desk, and Xander wondered what thoughts were cycling through that bleached head. He wished they were normal people and they could just have a normal date, and talk about stuff like dating-type people do, maybe over a nice dinner, or—

Dinner.

Xander sat up quickly. “I sort of have an idea,” he said.

“Sounds dangerous.”

“Probably is.”

“What do you have in mind, pet?”

“Um….”

As he hesitated, Spike brought his glass of blood over with him and sat next to him on the bed. He took a noisy, slurpy sip and smacked his lips. “Pouf gets us mostly cow and pig and that shite. Hardly ever have human. Haven’t fed this well since those wankers chipped me. So. What was this brilliant scheme of yours?”

“I, uh, was thinking of going to dinner with Danny Vega.”

Spike gawked at him like he’d sprouted a second head. “Dinner with that tosser? Then perhaps dancing or a film after? Yeah, that’ll sort everything.”

“It’s just…when I got the Eye, he kind of asked me out. Said he’d knock ten grand off the price if I went.”

Spike lifted his eyebrows. “Did he now? And you were swept off your feet?”

“No, I…I said no.”

“All right, then.” Spike drained his glass and set it on the nightstand.

“But then he, uh, he said what about a kiss.”

“For how much?”

“Five thousand.”

“So?” Spike had folded his arms across his chest.

“So I’d never kissed a guy before, and I was kinda curious, and—“

Spike leapt up and stood in front of Xander. “He kissed you!”

“Um…yeah. Look, I didn’t know then that he’d hexed you or anything, he just seemed like—“

“That fucker touched you!”

Xander scratched his head nervously. “Well, generally you have to touch to kiss, unless you’re, like, blowing kisses, but that probably wouldn’t be worth five thousand dollars.”

Spike began pacing fiercely, like a trapped tiger. “That fucker touched you with his filthy hands and his filthy lips and now he wants to take you out for a bloody dinner and then he’ll likely want to shag.”

Xander was confused and a little scared. Sure, Vega was an asshole, but he didn’t understand why Spike was so worked up over this. It was just one kiss, after all, and—Oh. The goddamn spell. Time for another emotional meltdown. Xander wasn’t too certain which emotion this was, though.

Spike continued to pace and rant. “Of course you’d fancy him. He’s quite a looker, isn’t he? And he has a sodding pulse, and he can go out in the sun. I can only take you dark places like the bloody sewers. Hah! Fine romance that would be. Here. Let me light another candle and wipe the piss off your boots. And while I’m at it, why don’t I try to fucking tear your throat out? Wouldn’t that be lovely?”

Xander just watched him, open-mouthed. Jealousy. This was jealousy. Spike was jealous of Vega, over him. Over Xander.

“Spike, look—“

Spike ignored him. “Stupid fucker with his stupid spells. Thinks he can take my boy, does he? I’ll show him. I’ll rip his bloody heart out.”

Spike veered toward the door, and Xander frantically scrambled to stop him. Spike snarled and tried to push past him, and Xander grabbed his shoulders. “Spike! Whoa! You need to chill.”

Spike’s eyes were flecked with yellow sparks. “Let me go, Xan! He can’t have you. You’re mine!”

“There’ll be no having, all right? Not with him.”

Spike wavered a moment and then tried again for the door. “No! Need to make sure he doesn’t come near you.”

Xander executed a block that would have made the Sunnydale High football coach proud. “You can’t go outside now, Spike! It’s the middle of the day. I’m not gonna do you any good if you’re a little pile of ashes on Wacker Drive, now, am I?”

Spike froze. He was breathing hard, like a racehorse who’d just won the Kentucky Derby. “He touched you, Xan,” he whined.

Xander took a step closer and enveloped Spike in a hug. “Not like you touched me, Spike. Nothing like that.” He was praying to whatever gods would listen that this was the right way to react to an over-possessive vampire.

And maybe it was, because Spike melted against him. “Sorry,” he said into Xander’s neck. “I know I have no right. You don’t belong to me. I know that.”

“It’s okay,” Xander said, rubbing the strong back. “Flattering. Nobody’s ever been jealous over me before, with or without a spell.”

Spike tilted his head a little and sucked on Xander’s neck. He probably just wanted the comfort—Xander was sort of his security blanket nowadays—but it sent a lightning thrill all through Xander’s body, and his legs grew a little wobbly. “Let’s make a deal,” Xander said. “No more apologizing for the goddamn spell, okay? I understand not being in control of yourself. I really do. Hell, I can barely handle myself anyway, and Willow’s managed to zap me with magic more than once. And I was possessed. Twice.”

Spike pulled away. “Possessed?”

“Uh-huh. Once by a soldier spirit or something, on Halloween. Remember that year? Willow was a ghost, and Buff was some sort of princess or something, and you tried—“

“To kill you all. Yeah.”

“Well, actually I think you were mostly after just Buffy that time.”

Spike rolled his eyes.

“But anyway, that night, I was a soldier. I acted like one, thought like one. Didn’t have any choice at all.”

“And the other time?”

“That was before you showed up in Sunny-D, I think. Sophomore year. Hyena.”

Spike’s eyebrows shot up farther than Xander would have thought possible. “Hyena?”

“Yep. I ate a live baby pig, Spike. And I was mean to Willow. I tried to eat some people, too. And I…fuck. I almost raped Buffy.”

Spike stared at him in astonishment. “You…you….”

“Yeah.” Xander walked away and sat heavily on the bed. This wasn’t exactly one of his favorite childhood memories.

Spike came over. “You tried to eat people?”

Xander nodded.

“And you really tried to rape her?”

“Yeah.”

“Why’d you stop, then?”

“Because she was stronger and she clocked me on the head with a brick. If she hadn’t I would have gone through with it. I really would.”

Spike sat at his side. “Oh,” he said.

“Buff and Will think I forgot about the hyena after the possession went away. But I didn’t. I remember it all—how badly I wanted to hurt, to take, to kill.”

“But you hated me so much after I tried—That time with Buffy, when….”

“I did. Partly because you weren’t my favorite person to begin with, and I was pissed that you and Buff had been…together…anyway. Partly because it reminded me of me.”

“And now, Xander?”

“I’m older. Wiser, maybe. I have a little more perspective. And besides, you went and saved my eye and then saved the world. That’s gotta count for something.”

“You don’t hate me any longer?”

Xander put his hand on Spike’s knee. “No. I…. Honestly? I’m feeling a little confused now. But there’s definitely no hate in the mixture.”

“All right, then,” Spike said quietly. “Go have dinner with the wizard.”

“But…but….”

“No worries. I’m not going to have another fit over it.” He turned and looked at Xander earnestly. “I want some answers. I can’t go on like this, and neither can you. See if you can get something out of him, yeah?”

“You can come with.”

Spike shook his head. “No. Wouldn’t be able to stop myself from tearing his sodding head off.”

“Okay. But I promise, it’s just an interrogation dinner thing. No naughty touching.”

Spike put his cool hands on either side of Xander’s face and leaned his own face in very close. “When we get this thing sorted, pet, you’ll go back to the Scoobies, won’t you?”

“I don’t know. I…. You need to have your head clear before we talk about this, Spike.”

“But I can have a kiss in the meantime? I don’t have five thousand dollars.”
Xander smiled. "You can have several. Won't cost you a cent."<





Part Six

It was a pretty nice place, only a few blocks from the Monaco, actually. The booths had high partitions that gave them a little island of privacy, the lighting was flattering, the music was understated and kind of hip.

Vega was already there when Xander arrived. He was wearing an expensive-looking suit and a white, tieless shirt that showed off his dark skin. His black hair was carefully styled. Xander didn’t have a suit with him—didn’t actually own one, in fact, and probably hadn’t worn one since Sunnydale. So he was wearing a pair of khakis and a maroon button-down shirt that Spike told him looked smashing, and that had a collar high enough to hide the mark on his neck.

Spike. He hoped he was okay alone. Xander had left him with a full fridge of blood and the Council’s Mastercard, and he fervently wished that that was going to be enough to keep his temperamental roommate busy for a few hours.

“Xander! I’m so glad you decided to take me up on my offer,” Vega said, smiling broadly. He had very white teeth.

Xander smiled back as pleasantly as he was able and sat down. He ordered a scotch from the hovering waiter.

They had a few minutes of awkward small-talk, and then they perused the menu. When the waiter came back, Xander resisted the urge to gulp his drink, and he ordered a steak. Nothing fancy. He wasn’t a fancy ordering kind of guy. Vega wanted a pasta dish of some kind.

“So,” Vega said after the waiter left. “Have you found your wayward vampire?”

Xander had planned to wait a little while before broaching the subject, but he wasn’t going to ignore an opening like this. “Why do you care?” he asked, trying to block some of his hostility out of his voice.

Vega frowned and managed to look genuinely concerned. “You seemed worried about him. Angel, too. I hate the idea of your friend coming to my city and being…harmed.”

“He wasn’t really my friend. And you can stop the act because I know you did something to him.” He’d meant to take a more indirect route, too, maybe lull Vega into fessing up, but he just didn’t have the patience for it.

The wizard blinked at him. “Me? Why would I—I told you, I never even saw him. What makes you think—“

Xander leaned forward and tried to look menacing. It wasn’t all that difficult, actually. “Cut the crap. It’s time for you to be straight with me, Vega.” He had to hold back a hysterical giggle at his own choice of words. “I may not look like much, but I have some close friends of the kind you really don’t want to piss off.”

Vega looked slightly stricken. He leaned closer, too, and whispered, “The mob? You’re friends with the mob?”

Xander snickered. “Worse, pal. I’m friends with the Slayers. And I work for the Watchers Council.” The wizard’s eyes grew very round and his face was pale. “Now, let’s try for the truth, okay? What the fuck did you do to Spike?” Despite the situation, Xander had to admit he was kind of enjoying himself.

Vega hunched in one himself. “I didn’t want to,” he mumbled.

“What’s that?”

“I didn’t want to. Hell, I was supposed to dust him and I didn’t. And I could have, too!”

Just then, the waiter appeared with their food. He lifted one of those giant pepper grinders and was about to ask if they wanted some when he caught the looks on their faces and obviously thought better of it. “Enjoy your meal!” he said very quickly, and scuttled away. The steak smelled really good, but Xander ignored it. He had bigger prey at the moment.

“What do you mean you were supposed to dust him? Spill, Vega!” He pointed at the man with his steak knife.

Vega sighed heavily and rubbed his face. “Okay. A day or so after Angel called about the Eye, this guy came by my store. He knew Spike was on his way—“

“Wait! Why didn’t you just sell the Eye to Angel over the phone? Weren’t you trying to lure Spike here?”

“No, I really wasn’t. It’s just…I don’t like to sell powerful stuff to people I haven’t met. I want to get a little reading off them—it’s a skill I have, you know—make sure they’re not up to no good with it. I’m not a very strong wizard, but this is the one thing I can do really well.”

Xander put the knife down and crossed his arms. “You want me to believe that, after you fucked up Spike?”

“Yeah, I… Let me tell the whole story, okay?”

Xander nodded skeptically. Might as well hear what he had to say.

“So Spike was on his way, and I’m not all that fond of vampires, you know?”

“Can’t say I blame you,” Xander muttered.

“Exactly. But I’d heard of Angel and Spike, I know they have souls, so I figured okay, at least I can talk to the guy. But then this other dude comes by first, right? He knows Spike’s coming, and he tries to convince me that Spike’s evil. But like I said, I can read people pretty well, and I knew this guy was bad news. So I told him to take a hike.

“So then he gets all scary. He’s kind of short, but he’s really built, and he has these scary ass eyes. Like he’s not quite human. And I know what I’m talking about, because my mom was half Brachen, but she was a nice lady, and this dude was spooky.”

Xander sighed and took a bite of his food. He’d been right. Still a demon magnet. It was good steak, though.

“He tells me that he has some beef with Angel, and he needs Spike out of the picture.”

Xander nearly choked. Fuck! Was Angel in trouble now, too? But Vega was still talking.

“He wanted me to dust Spike. And I could have! I’m not much of a fighter, but I’ve got a few charms that can paralyze a vamp long enough to poke a stake between his ribs. I just have to get close enough to touch him first. Anyway, I told the guy I wouldn’t do it. Told him I was gonna call Angel, too. He got all threatening then, said bad shit would happen to me, and I believed him. I could tell he wasn’t lying, anyway.”

Xander gestured at the wizard with his fork. “But you didn’t dust him.”

“No. I’m not…a murderer, I guess. I don’t kill anyone, especially good guys. It’s wrong, and besides, it’ll always come back and bite you in the ass, sooner or later. But this guy made it pretty clear that if I didn’t do it, I’d be toast, and then someone else would anyway. So I quick came up with an idea. I told him I could do something to Spike that was less than lethal but would keep him away from Angel. Dude thought about it and said okay. Said he’d be back for me if I said anything to the vamps about him. And I’m not, am I? I mean, he didn’t mention you.”

Xander swallowed another bite. “Did he say what he wanted from Angel?”

“No. Just didn’t seem to like him much.”

“Yeah, well….” Xander snorted. “Okay, so Spike arrived?”

“Yeah. And I put a spell on him.”

“A spell?”

“It’s an old one. It makes emotions go sort of out of control, sometimes.”

“And you thought it was a good idea for a vampire to have out of control emotions?”

“No! I thought it sucked. But I didn’t have a whole lot of options. I hexed him, which knocked him out for a little while, and then I left him in the sewers. I figured that was the safest place for him.”

For some reason, Xander was inclined to believe Vega. But still, he was furious. “You cursed him, you dumped him in the sewers and didn’t tell anyone where he was. Very caring.”

“If Angel found him right away, I’d be in trouble with the guy from the shop. What else could I do?” The waiter came by, probably to check on them, but when he heard Vega raise his voice a little he steered himself immediately in the opposite direction.

Xander cut another piece of meat and was surprised to see that he’d already eaten most of it. Apparently, this was hungry business.

“What did you think was going to happen to a half-loco souled vamp in the sewers of Chicago, Vega?”

The wizard looked down at his plate. He hadn’t had a single bite. “I don’t know,” he said softly. “Nothing good.”

Xander just glared at him.

Then Vega looked up at him and cocked his head. “Why are you so angry? I thought you said he wasn’t your friend?”

“He wasn’t.”

Vega frowned and then his eyes went wide again. “You found him!” he exclaimed. “You found Spike!”

Xander didn’t answer.

“Was he all right?”

“Of course he wasn’t all right, you jerk! He was starved and cut to shreds.”

“And now?”

“He’s okay. Physically. But his head’s a mess, and you did that to him. What’s the cure, Vega? How do we fix him?”

Vega winced and rubbed the back of his neck. “Um…,” he said.

“C’mon, you prick! How the fuck do we de-hex him?” His voice was loud and a little shrill, but he didn’t care. Another three seconds and he was going to leap over the table and strangle the guy.

But Vega’s voice was tiny and subdued. “You weren’t friends but now…but now you care about him.”

Xander collapsed back on the plush red seat and looked up at the ceiling. “Yeah. I really do.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I never want to hear those words again,” Xander said. “Tell me how to help him.”

“There’s no cure, Xander.”

Panic and murderous rage surged through Xander’s brain and for a moment, his emotions were nearly as out of control as Spike’s. He clenched his jaw and squinted at the ceiling and tried for a response that wouldn’t get him thrown in prison. But before he said anything, the wizard went on.

“There’s no cure, but I think—I’m pretty sure, actually—that it’ll wear off. If you give it enough time.”

The tinge of hope felt good. But—“How much time?”

“I don’t know.”

“Cause we’re talking about the undead, here, Vega. He’s already 150 years old. Is he gonna have to wait another 150 years to get his head clear?”

“No, no, nothing like that. But weeks at least. Maybe several months.”

Xander took a deep, cleansing breath. Several months. Okay. He could handle that. Spike probably could, too. And Xander could continue to babysit. It’s not like he was desperately needed anywhere else anyway. But they couldn’t just stay at the Monaco. Their patience and the credit card had limits. Besides…fuck. Angel. What was up with him?

In a calm, tight voice, Xander said, “Why didn’t you do something more reversible, if you’re such a great guy?”

“I didn’t have a lot of time. And with vampires, there aren’t really that many viable options.”

Xander sighed. What was done, was done. “Tell me everything you know about this guy who sicced you on Spike.”

Vega seemed almost eager to comply now. “It’s not much. He’s not from around here. He was about your age. Like I said, kind of short, muscular, really good looking, actually. Dark hair, blue eyes. A southern accent, and he was dressed sort of like a cowboy, you know? Pointy boots, big shiny belt buckle, like that.”

“Did he tell you his name?”

“McDonald. He said his name’s McDonald.”

The name didn’t mean anything to Xander, but it might be fake, and besides, he supposed Angel had had plenty of opportunity to collect enemies. Maybe Spike knew who he was.

Xander looked across the table at the wizard. He was still furious with the man, but the heat had gone out of it. He believed Vega’s tale, and he even believed that he was remorseful over what he’d done. It didn’t excuse him, and Xander didn’t forgive him, but there didn’t seem to be much point in taking it out on him either. Let Spike get his revenge if he wanted to.

Xander wiped his mouth with the red cloth napkin and stood. “Thanks for the date. It’s been a blast.”

He was going to walk away, but Vega said “Wait!”

Xander looked at him.

“You’re going to try to help Angel, aren’t you?”

“He’s even less of my friend than Spike was.”

“Yeah, but you’re gonna help him. You’re that type, aren’t you? I can tell.”

Xander snorted but didn’t deny it. He was that type, damnit.

“Let me give you a couple things that might help. I mean, I don’t know what you’re going up against, but I have a couple good all-purpose tricks in my bag.”

“Yeah, you’re full of tricks.”

“Please. Let me help. Let me do this.”

Fuck. “Fine. Fine.”

“Can you stop by the shop tomorrow morning?”

It could be a trap. But Xander didn’t think it was, and if the wizard really did have something that’d assist him…well, he could use all the help he could get. “Okay. Ten?”

“Great. I really am sor--.” He stopped himself and smiled wryly. Then he pushed his untouched plate away and stood. “I’m guessing a good night kiss is out of the question, but maybe a shake?” He held out his hand.

But Xander didn’t take it. “Touching me would be a bad idea. Ramped up jealousy in a vampire isn’t a pretty thing, pal.”

Vega let his hand drop and he nodded. “Okay. Good night.”


~*~*~*~*~


The walk back was pleasant. It had actually cooled off a little tonight, and there was a breeze coming in from the lake. Xander had got some useful information, some faith that Spike’s problem would go away eventually, and he hadn’t managed to get himself turned into a toad in the process. Even the food had been decent.

So he was feeling relatively good as he rode the elevator up, but also worried. What if Spike had flipped out while he was gone? There were no dismembered bodies littering the hallway, in any case, and he took that as good sign.

He got to room 1026, slid his key through the sensor, and opened the door. He stepped inside, through the little foyer near the bathroom, and then he froze in shock.

Nearly every horizontal surface in the room was covered in flowers.

There were bunches of roses on the desk, irises on the armchair, and carnations on the bed. Even the top of the tall armoire held vases full of brightly colored blooms. More—yellow, pink, red, white; Xander didn’t know what kind they were—were scattered around the floor.

Leaning up against the window was a blond vampire. His duster was on, and his arms were wrapped tightly around himself. He was glowering at his boots.

It took several minutes before Xander found his voice again. When he did, it was still sort of a squeak. “Spike? What’s this?”

Spike didn’t look up. “Gratitude,” he growled. “I was feeling bloody thankful for all you’ve done for me.”

The hardest thing Xander Harris had ever done in his entire life was not laugh right then. But he didn’t. Instead he walked across the room, avoiding several pots of African violets along the way, and stood a few feet from Spike. “Thanks,” he said. “Nobody’s ever bought me flowers before.”

Spike snapped his head up angrily, as if he expected Xander to tease, but all Xander did was crook the corner of his mouth in a smile.

Spike’s scowl began to crack, and then his mouth was twitching, and he was smiling, too, and then chuckling. Within seconds, they were both howling so hard with laughter that they’d collapsed into the floor, into each others’ arms. Tears were streaming from Xander’s eyes and he was damn close to wetting his pants.

They eventually caught their breath again. They were on their backs, Xander’s head pillowed by Spike’s hard stomach. Several upset vases surrounded them, leaking water and petals onto the carpet.

Then Xander had a thought. “You used the Council credit card for this, didn’t you?”

“Yeah.”

Xander started giggling again. “Giles is gonna have an aneurysm.”

Spike snorted out more laughter that shook Xander’s head. Xander scooted around until he was lying alongside Spike, resting his head on his shoulder instead. He wrapped an arm around Spike’s middle.

“Did you learn something from that git?” Spike rumbled into Xander’s ear.

“Yeah. A lot, actually.”

“Did he…did you let him….”

“Not a single finger, Spike.”

Spike let out a long and noisy sigh. “Good,” he said, and nuzzled into Xander’s hair. “I know I’ve no right, but good.”

“As far as I’m concerned, if anybody’s going to touch me right now, it’s going to be you, okay?”

“Yeah? Like this?” Spike snaked his hand down, past the waistband of Xander’s pants and boxers, and onto the skin just below the small of his back.

“Like that is nice.”

Xander moved closer. It was nice. Until he’d found Spike, he hadn’t done much snuggling since, well, since Anya. He liked having another body to rest against, and, it turned out, the fact that the body was male was a plus.

They were quiet for a while, and Xander wondered why Spike bothered to breathe. Was it reflex? Did it feel strange if he didn’t? Then Xander had another idea. He turned his head slightly and pressed his lips to Spike’s delicate neck, and nibbled very lightly. He was rewarded with a hissed intake of oxygen and an all-over shudder.

“Bloody hell!” Spike said hoarsely.

“Good touching?” Xander asked with another little bite. Spike only groaned in reply, so Xander slid his arm down, until his palm was resting on the hardening bulge beneath Spike’s fly.

Xander continued to bite and suck and rub, and within minutes Spike was arching and writhing on the floor, little inchoate sounds of pleasure escaping his throat. Xander was enveloped in the vampire’s scent of leather and copper and hair gel and, now, flowers, too.

“Stop!” Spike gasped. “Gonna…make me…come in my trousers.”

Xander didn’t stop, though. He simply continued his administrations by mouth and hand. And then when he took the tender skin in his blunt teeth and pressed down hard enough that he tasted Spike’s blood, Spike roared and bucked, and Xander felt the coolness of his spend seeping through the denim.

Spike continued to quiver for several seconds and Xander gently licked and sucked at the small wound he’d made. Finally Spike was panting, but still. He turned his head to the side and raised one eyebrow. “Pet?” he said.

Xander grinned wickedly. “That was about the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on.”

“Yeah? Let’s see what we can get up to with your kit off, then.”

And, for quite some time, they did.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander swept the last of the crushed flowers onto the floor with his leg and wondered how much he was going to have to tip housekeeping to make up for this mess. He looked around the room at the sea of color and laughed. It was going to have to be a very big tip.

Then he fell back on his pillow, completely drained. There had been the dinner with the wizard, the emotional roller coaster of his vamp roommate (and, he guessed, lover), a couple rounds of entirely enthusiastic sex (assisted by the fact that gratitude-filled Spike had bought lube as well as posies), and then telling Spike everything he’d learned from Vega.

Spike had taken the news of the lack of cure pretty well. He had a moment of anxiety about how he’d manage, until Xander assured him that Xander would stick by him as long as he wanted. Spike had nursed contentedly at Xander’s neck for several minutes after that.

Then Xander told him of the plot against Angel, and of this McDonald guy, and Spike jumped up from the bed and hurled several bunches of flowers against the walls. As tantrums went, it was fairly harmless, and then he crawled back under the sheets and up against Xander again.

“I know the wanker,” Spike said. “He was one of those lawyers.”

“I thought they were all dead.”

“They were. But the buggers tend not to stay dead very well.”

“Huh. There’s a lot of that going around.”

Spike lifted up on his elbows and looked sharply at Xander. “Do you wish I’d stayed dead, Xander? You wouldn’t be saddled with me now.”

Xander squeezed Spike’s bare ass. “This kind of saddling is of the good. I prefer you non-dusty.”

Spike smiled and collapsed back onto Xander’s chest. “I expect the cowboy has a bit of a gripe with Angel. He was working on our side at the end, and Peaches had him shot.”

“Why?”

“Didn’t trust him.”

“So, what? Just, blam, in cold blood?”

“Yeah.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah.”

They said nothing for a long time, as Spike played with the sticky mixture of lube and drying semen on Xander’s belly, and Xander ran his fingers through Spike’s hair. Then Spike sighed. “I have to go help him.”

“I know. We can leave tomorrow evening if you want.”

Spike stilled his hand. “You don’t have to go, pet. Know you can’t stand the pillock.”

“No, I really can’t, but I’ll go anyway.”

“Look, when you promised to stay with me until I’m sorted—that wasn’t taking this into account.”

“Yes it was. Because when I promised, I’d already pretty much figured you’d want to run to the rescue. Besides, I’d meant to go anyway. If for no other reason than I’m pretty ticked at this McDonald guy myself, after what he’s done to you.”

Spike regarded him with serious blue eyes. “Still a white hat, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know what else to be, Spike.”

Spike put his head back down on Xander’s chest, with his ear directly over Xander’s heart. Xander wondered for a moment what it was going to feel like when he had to lie in bed alone again, without this strong body against his, and then he pushed that thought quickly away. He’d have plenty of time to agonize over that later.

“There’s a business center downstairs. I’ll go book us a couple of tickets to LA tomorrow night.”

“Won’t work.”

“Sure it will. Council will pony up for it, if they haven’t cancelled the card over the flowers. I’ll just get us a red-eye so we can avoid incineration.”

“I don’t have ID.”

“Crap. Crap! Giles could get you some—he’s done it for me before, more than once—but it’d take, I don’t know, six or seven days, probably, to get here.”

“It’s already been a week since we spoke to Angel. I don’t want to wait any longer.”

“Okay. I guess it’s a road trip then.”

Spike sighed. “I expect so.”

“Angel said your car was impounded.”

“Won’t be able to get it without ID either.”

“Damnit! Okay, then. I’ll return the rental piece of shit I have now and get something better for a long drive.”

“Make sure it has a big boot.”

“Why?”

“So I have somewhere to go if I get caught in the sun.”

“Traveling with vampires is damn inconvenient.”

“Spent a century, on and off, wandering with Dru, didn’t I? At least I won’t try to name the stars at two in the bloody afternoon, or insist on stopping to buy tea things for my dollies.”

Xander snorted out a laugh. “Big boot it is, then. Anything else?”

“Cooler for blood. Don’t fancy running out in Utah.”

“Cooler. Check.”

“Don’t expect you could dig up some weapons of some sort?”

“Mmm, maybe. Vega said he had some lovely parting gifts for me.”

“Bastard.”

“Yeah. But weapons, check.”

“That’s it.”

“No souvenirs from your visit to Chicago?”

“I’d say I have my souvenirs already, love.”

“I guess so. Me too. I’ve picked up a whole new sexual orientation.”

Spike tickled his armpit.


~*~*~*~*~


Around two am, Xander called Giles.

“Xander! What on earth are you up to?”

Xander suppressed a giggle. The poor man hadn’t even seen the credit card bill yet. “It’s kind of complicated.”

“Please. Enlighten me.”

Xander rolled his eyes. Somehow Giles could always make him feel like he was fifteen again. But Xander told him what had been happening—minus the vampire sexcapades part—and what their plans were.

“Xander, you can’t be thinking of driving across the country with Spike in his…unstable status.”

“I can. I am.”

“Don’t be stupid! It’s dangerous.”

“No more than, say, trying to find Slayer wannabes in war zones.”

Giles didn’t have an answer for that.

“I’m gonna do it, Giles. I’d appreciate your support, but I’ll do it without.”

Giles let out one of his drama queen sighs. “Very well. You can continue to use the card. And I’ll see if there’s anything I can find out to assist you.”

“Thanks. Hey, how’re Buffy and the baby doing?”

“Well. They’re home now. Jack is beaming. Willow is hovering. They’re worried about you, though.”

Xander smiled at the warmth in Giles’s voice that let him know that Giles was worried, too. “I’ll be fine,” he said. “Two thousand miles with a nutso vampire to save another vampire from a resurrected evil lawyer. What could possibly go wrong?”




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