The Holly King


Part One

Nearly three months and Spike still hadn’t grown accustomed to the warmth of the sun on his arms and face, of the heat of his boy—his king—as they walked arm in arm. The brightness of the sunshine on pale vampire skin was a wonder, but no more so than the brightness of his lover’s smile, or the happy confidence that shone from Xander all the time now. Deep in his undead heart Spike knew these miracles couldn’t last, knew a demon’s joy was meted out stingily, even if the demon had regained his soul. So he treasured every dazzling moment, hoarding the memories as a dragon hoards gold.

Xander bonked his shoulder into Spike’s as they strolled down the sidewalk. “What’s with the silent treatment this afternoon?”

Spike glanced over at him with a scowl. “ ’M not brooding.”

“I would never accuse you of such a thing. But what gives? You were quiet all through the meal too. Unhappy with the quality of the onion rings today?”

“Was watching you.”

“Xander Harris eats lunch. Top-flight entertainment.”

“You were making a fuss over that baby.”

The young couple sitting one table over had been accompanied by a quiet boy of perhaps six or seven and a baby who was anything but quiet. The younger child had fussed and cried and thrown her crackers onto the floor, at least until Xander had focused his attention on her. He made silly faces and did a passable imitation of a drunken Hyrefli demon, and soon the baby was chortling with delight, her chubby little hands waving in the air and drool running down her chin. The parents were obviously relieved to be granted the chance to eat in peace; instead of casting wary glances at the one-eyed nutter who wore a stocking cap in mid-June, they had smiled gratefully at him.

“She was cute,” Xander said. “And it was a lot better than listening to her screech.”

“She took a liking to you.”

Xander stopped in front of Spike, blocking his way. “Are you jealous of a baby?” he asked incredulously.

“Course not, pillock. I only … I wondered if you were wishing you had one of your own.”

Xander’s expression turned horrified. “Oh God! You’re pregnant! There’s been some kind of mystical curse or something and I knocked you up and—”

Spike punched him in the shoulder, not especially gently. “I am a dead man,” he said very firmly. “I am not with child.”

Xander’s shoulders drooped with relief. “Thank God.”

“You don’t want a rugrat of your own?”

“I am a Harris, Spike. You remember Tony and Jessica? Well, they were paragons of parenthood compared to the rest of the clan. We should have stopped reproducing generations ago.”

“But you and that baby—”

Xander set a hand on Spike’s shoulder. “Yeah, sure. For fifteen minutes in a restaurant I was cool. Doesn’t mean I want one of my very own. What’s with the sudden concern, anyway?”

Spike couldn’t meet his eye. “You’re … you’ve developed this knack for growing things. I reckoned that might include small humans. Reckoned you might want to settle down …”

“Spike. I kinda thought you and I were settled down. Aren’t we?”

Spike twitched one shoulder. A few weeks earlier, Xander had convinced him to give up his flat—he hadn’t been spending time there anyway—and move into Xander’s house. Xander had seemed pleased enough with the new arrangement, not even complaining too much about bloodstained coffee mugs or cold feet in bed. But Spike had not been able to shake the conviction that this was a temporary thing, that Xander would grow tired of him and toss him out. Gently, perhaps, because Xander wasn’t cruel, but it would hurt Spike all the same.

Now, Xander grasped Spike’s other shoulder and stood very close, heedless of the passersby. “Are you jumpy ’cause you know I dumped Anya that time?”

“ ’T’s not that. That was ages ago. You were hardly more than a boy.”

“Then what?”

“Keep thinking you’ll come to your senses and realize what you’ve been shagging, that’s all.”

“Jeez, Spike. I did come to my senses back in March. That’s when I seduced you.” He held up a hand to stop Spike’s protest. “I know exactly who you are and it’s you that I want, okay?”

Spike felt ridiculous for having this conversation, especially in the middle of the sidewalk. But perhaps after so many years of being rejected he needed reassurances. He nodded slightly.

Xander smiled and leaned his forehead against Spike’s. “Do you need a ring or something, Fang? Some sign that I really, really mean it?”

“ ’M not a bloody girl.”

“Guys need guarantees too, sometimes. Even vampire guys.”

Spike didn’t answer. He felt too foolish by far. But Xander cupped one hand around the back of Spike’s head and held him there for a moment. Then he stepped away, grabbed Spike’s hand, and dragged him home.

Once they were inside the house, Xander undressed Spike slowly and reverently, as if he were unwrapping a priceless piece of art. He kept his own clothes on, having apparently sussed out that particular kink of Spike’s long ago. Then he pushed Spike down onto the living room floor and worshiped every inch of his body with tongue and fingers, until Spike was writhing and swearing and very nearly crazed with need. Only then did Xander strip, unearth a nearby bottle of slick, and climb onto all fours, waving his muscular arse enticingly.

They curled up together on the couch later, both of them sticky and sated, and Spike sighed as Xander pulled a blanket over them. The sex was brilliant, but he was old enough and wise enough to know that good shagging didn’t presage an eternity spent together.

“Now what?” Xander asked, running his fingertips through Spike’s damp pubic hair. “You want to go another round? Just give me a few minutes. I get to top this time.”

“No, this is lovely,” Spike said, and leaned back against Xander’s chest.

“But you’re still not convinced I love you.”

Pretty words, Spike thought, and sighed again. “Sorry I’m being such a prat. Don’t know what’s come over me.”

“I do.”

Spike sat up and turned so he could see Xander’s face. “Oh? Do tell.”

“You’re falling apart a little ’cause you’re safe.”


“I've been thinking about this. You’ve always had to be really tough. The big bad. ’Cause either you were on your own—and it’s a scary world out there, even for vamps—or you were taking care of someone else. Even when you were with Buffy, she was pretty … well, I guess fragile isn’t the best word for her, but you know what I mean. You kept an eye on her. But now you have me and I’m all Oak Kinged up, and you don’t have to take care of me. Plus you know that if you let yourself fall a little, I’m here to catch you. So fall, Spike. It’s okay.”

“I’m not weak!”

Xander shook his head. “Never said you were. You’re just human. Well, close enough anyway.” He leaned over and kissed Spike’s cheek. “It’ll all be okay. Really.”

Spike was frowning, but he couldn’t resist reaching up to caress one of Xander’s horns. They were small horns, rounded at the tip and smooth to the touch. Spike fancied them very much. He liked to hold them when Xander was sucking his cock and he liked to stroke them when they lay together. “Since when did you become such a bloody optimist, Pangloss?”

“I have no idea who that is, and I don’t know. It’s just … I feel it in my bones. Feels good.”

“ ’T’s nearly the summer solstice. You’re meant to be deposed by the Holly King, whoever that is. You could die.”

“I could get hit by a bus before then, or a meteor could fall on my head. But I don’t think any of that’s gonna happen, and even if it does, I’m happy now. Way happier than I ever thought I’d be, and I think that’s pretty damn fantastic. So I’m gonna glass-half-full it until that meteor conks my noggin, okay?”

It was difficult to argue with cheerful sunniness, especially when the optimist in question still had his hand under the blanket and was now gently squeezing your hardening cock. So Spike fell back against his lover again and allowed himself, however briefly, to be caught.


Now that Spike and Xander were a couple, Spike had to spend loads more time sitting in Rupert’s cramped living room, listening to the Scoobies natter on about demons. The experience wasn’t as bad as it could have been, however. Xander’s friends seemed, if not enthusiastic about the two of them, at least resigned—with Willow and her girl even going so far as to coo that they were cute together. Angel still gave Spike the stink-eye, but he’d been doing that for well over a century now and even an occasional kick by the Slayer hadn’t quite broken him of the habit. Besides, Xander was so comfortable showing his affection for Spike, so free with the smiles and the little touches, that Spike couldn’t help but preen a bit with the novelty of being openly admired. It was almost as heady as being able to go out in the sun.

Tonight’s monsters didn’t seem terribly dire. Xander had pulled Spike close to him on the sofa and was dozing with his heavy head on Spike’s shoulder. He had already put in a full shift at the grocers earlier in the day and then spent nearly two hours working in the garden, pulling weeds and deadheading spent blooms. In Spike’s opinion, Xander should currently be home in his nice warm bed with his nice warm vampire, but for some reason Xander had insisted on coming to the Watcher’s house. And now he was drooling on Spike’s shirt.

But when Angel and Buffy fetched a pair of axes from Rupert’s storage area and began sharpening the blades, and Willow and her girl were peering at their laptop screen, Xander sat up and stretched and yawned. “Hey Giles?”

Rupert looked up from his book. “Yes?”

“Do vampires ever … well, get married? I mean, I know the whole church thing is pretty much out of the question, but do they ever have an equivalent?”

Everyone in the room—Spike included—stared at Xander, who seemed unfazed.

“Why do you ask?” Rupert said, although judging by the look on his face he knew the answer perfectly well.

“ ’Cause I wanna propose to Spike. If I just come right out and ask him he’s gonna roll his eyes and call me something British. And generally be too much of a weenie to say yes. But I figured if he heard there was precedent he might go for it.”

Spike wanted to throttle him and snog him at the same time, but that was nothing new.

“I ... I’m afraid I’ve never read of any, erm, ceremonies,” Rupert began.

But Angel interrupted. “Vampires do not get married.”

“No,” Spike snapped. “They turn into idiot humans who stick their great bloody heads in where they’re not wanted.”

Angel growled and Spike growled back. They both began to stand, and a fight would have soon followed—Spike would have won. But Buffy tugged Angel back into his chair and Xander kept Spike pinned to the sofa. “Not even civil commitment ceremonies?” Xander asked brightly.

Rupert shook his head. “I don’t believe so.”

Xander pursed his lips, perhaps regrouping. “ ’S all right,” Spike said quietly. “You don’t have to—”

“I do! I need to make you see that we’re real, Spike. There’s a former Victorian under all that bleach and hair gel and he wants someone to wear a goddamned white wedding dress and recite goddamn vows.”

Spike was going to argue, pretending that Xander wasn’t spot on, but Willow’s eyes grew large and she began to bounce in her seat. “Ooh! Ooh! I know!”

All heads swiveled to look at her and she smiled confidently. “A few years back my Aunt Judith married this guy who was sort of a lapsed Mormon but they both wanted a fancy ceremony—I think they were hoping for lots of presents—so they went with her faith and got married in a synagogue. You guys should do the same.”

“A synagogue?” Xander asked.

She huffed impatiently. “No, Xander. I meant get hitched in your faith.”

“I, uh, didn’t know I had one.”

Willow’s girlfriend was a curvy brunette named Melissa. She had corkscrew curls and pretty brown eyes and was usually so quiet that Spike nearly forgot she possessed the power of speech. But now she nodded. “You’re the Oak King, Xander,” she said in her whispery little voice. “I think that automatically qualifies you as Wiccan.”

She had a point, Spike thought, and Xander seemed to agree. He slid off the couch and went down on one knee in front of Spike. His eye was full of warmth and his lips were curled in a smile. “Will you marry me, Spike? In a same-sex interspecies Wiccan sort of way?”

Spike felt foolish again. But Xander was sincere and, while Spike didn’t reckon any of this would quell his own fears, it might at least satisfy his lover for now. “Fine. But you wear the white dress.”

The girls clapped and Willow and Buffy rushed forward to smother them with hugs; even Rupert looked surprisingly pleased. Only Angel scowled, but that was likely because of the meaningful glare the Slayer shot in his direction. She’d been mooning over bridal magazines lately and the poof seemed considerably more hesitant than Xander to tie the knot.

All talk of demons was abandoned as the girls began to discuss wedding schemes. Xander beamed and Spike held him tight and the Watcher shared his second-best whiskey all around. Angel drank three shots. Spike waited impatiently for Xander to take him home for a celebratory shag.

But first, apparently, a date had to be set. “How about the fifth of never?” Angel mumbled, earning himself a whack on the head from the Slayer.

“It has to be next week,” Willow announced. “Solstice. Couples jump over the Litha bonfire to ensure a long and happy marriage. It’s very powerful magics.”

Spike didn’t much fancy the idea of hopping over open flames, nor did he think that distracting themselves on the night Xander was meant to be deposed was a good idea. He opened his mouth to say so, but Angel grunted and said something under his breath about wastes of time, so Spike grinned and squeezed Xander’s shoulders. “Next week it is, then.”

The celebratory shagging that night made it all worthwhile.

Part Two

Dawn was still studying in Japan and couldn’t make it to Nebraska on such short notice. She had sent three angry emails about inconsiderate kings and vampires who wouldn’t wait to get married, and then an apologetic email telling them she loved them and was positive they were incredibly hot together.

They had decided to perform the ceremony in Xander’s back yard—which, he kept reminding Spike, was now Spike’s back yard as well. Rupert and Angel lit the fire while the Slayer and Rupert’s girlfriend, a university professor named Lilia, arranged trays of strawberries and fresh vegetables in honor of the beginning of the harvest. Willow and Melissa placed small dishes containing various fresh herbs near the edges of the yard as offerings to the fairies. “I thought we were the fairies,” Xander sniggered, which made Willow briefly give him the evil eye.

Apparently, neither of the grooms had to wear a dress, although Willow insisted that they  be barefoot. The evening was quite warm, and Xander ended up wearing nothing but a pair of silk trousers that matched the greenish hue of his horns. Spike suspected that purchase had been Willow’s doing and he was thankful for it; Xander looked magnificent, the tan skin of his bare chest turned golden by the bonfire’s flickering light. The Slayer had appointed herself Spike’s groomsman and attired him in tight leather trousers and a red silk shirt. He couldn’t admire his reflection in a mirror, of course, but Xander had grinned wolfishly as soon as he caught sight of him, so Spike assumed he looked passably handsome. Melissa had set garlands of yellow and white flowers on Xander’s and Spike’s heads: St. John’s wort and elderflowers, Xander informed him, showing off his botanical knowledge.

All of the women wore skirts and blouses of gauzy cotton, while Angel sweated in poncy wool trousers and a bespoke shirt, and Rupert wore tweed. Willow had originally suggested they all go skyclad, and Spike had nothing to hide, but Angel—who had put on a few pounds since becoming human—had flatly refused, and Rupert hadn’t seemed especially keen on the idea either.

As Xander and Giles fussed over some papers—Xander had nearly given him apoplexy by asking him to officiate—Lilia came wandering over to where Spike stood beside the gifts. Buffy and Angel had given them a pair of very nice battleaxes, the witches had provided several bottles of what they assured the recipients were useful magical potions, and Dawn had insisted that her sister buy the First through Sixth Doctors on DVD. Rupert gave them an antique tea service that bore a striking resemblance to Anne Pratt’s, as well as a complete ten-volume set of Peaberry’s Compendium Evertorum. The second edition, which was loads better than the first.

“You look scared to death, Spike,” Lilia said. She was a slightly plump thirty-something with caramel-colored skin and very sharp brown eyes.

He scowled at her. “ ’M already dead, and I am not scared.” Actually, he was terrified.

She patted his arm. “Even living men get cold feet on their wedding days. You’ll be fine.”

He didn’t bother telling her all the things that could potentially go wrong. The Holly King could show up and harm Xander. An unexpected demon apocalypse could erupt next door. Or Xander could suddenly realize what a fool he was being, and how easily he could find a thousand prospects more promising than Spike. Instead, Spike gestured at the set of crimson satin bed linens. “Cheers.”

“I know it’s kind of over the top but I couldn’t resist.”

He couldn’t help smiling at her—she really was a lovely woman, too good for Rupert by far—and she patted him again before wandering off. When Spike looked up again it was Xander standing before him, his generous mouth quirked a bit on one side. “I’m not gonna dump you, Fang.”

“I know. Perhaps you should.”

“No way.” Xander grabbed Spike’s lapels and dragged their bodies together. “I promise you, this is gonna work. And you know what? If I get hit by that meteor tomorrow I’ll be okay with it ’cause I’ll go out knowing …” He took a deep breath, let it out. “Knowing we had this tonight. Had each other. God, Spike, you’re the poet, not me. You find the right words.”

“How about simply I love you?”

“That’ll do, vamp, that’ll do.” Xander chuckled in a way that made Spike’s skin tingle and trousers tighten, and then Xander nuzzled at his neck. Spike remembered what Africa smelled like, bright and hot and full of old life, and that was exactly how Xander smelled now. But now no torturous trials awaited; only a ceremony, and then after that … well, whatever came next.

“Holy crap! What’s that?” Xander’s voice was quiet, more amazed than alarmed as he gazed over Spike's shoulder. Spike turned slowly to look behind him.

Twinkling colored lights, rose-petal pink and lilac and buttercup and mint, and they fluttered about like drunken fireflies. Spike squinted and could just make out the creatures themselves. They were tiny things, no bigger than hummingbirds, their little faces sharp and pointed and with multicolored fluffs of hair on their skulls, like bits of wayward candyfloss. “The fairies, I expect,” Spike said.

Real fairies? As in Tinkerbell?”

“Your witches invited them, didn’t they?” Spike and Xander watched as the fairies loop-de-looped before diving at one of the little dishes of herbs. Xander took a half step forward, but Spike held him back. “Leave them be, pet. They’ve horrid sharp teeth and aren’t to be trifled with.”

“But … they’re really small. And cute.”

“And a pair of them once deviled Dru into such a tizzy that it took me the better part of a year to calm her down. Remember the children’s stories, Xander. They’re fickle folk who can bring good fortune or bad.”

“Yeah, okay.” Xander relented. “Who cares about fairies anyway when I have my very own undead guy waiting to tie the knot. Let’s do it, Spike.”

Spike gazed into a single eye, brown with flecks of gold and, every now and then, just a hint of green. “Right then,” Spike said, and took Xander’s hand.

Spike didn’t pay much attention to the phrases the Watcher intoned. The witches had dimmed the fire so that it was only glowing embers, and the light from those coals made the thin film of sweat on Xander’s torso glisten, made his white teeth shine, made the little rounded horns sparkle. Xander was radiant: with happiness, with love, with life. And Spike could feel that brightness sinking into his own carcass and warming him more thoroughly than the sun ever had. Xander was right. Spike could dust tomorrow and be at peace, because he’d saved the world and found someone who cherished him, and what more could anyone ask fate to bring them?

When Rupert paused expectantly, Spike fumbled in his trouser pocket and found the ring he’d hastily had made. It was heavy gold and quite simple, but the jeweler had followed Spike’s instructions—and the illustration Spike had forced Angel to make—and inscribed around the band a vine twining sinuously about a stylized railroad spike. Spike slipped the ring onto Xander’s finger, and Xander grinned when he made out the design. Then Xander produced a ring from somewhere and placed it on Spike’s finger. Spike’s ring was silver—no, he realized, platinum—and had a braided design worked into the metal.

With the rings properly placed, Rupert seemed done with his speeches. Spike surprised Xander with a short poem he’d written himself. Spike would have blushed if he were able, embarrassed at his own nancy-boy soul, but Xander was pleased with the verse and even Angel nodded somewhat approvingly.

Xander didn’t have any pretty words of his own. Just: “I love you Spike, and I’m really glad you’re willing to take this step with me.” Which was plenty pretty enough, especially when it was followed by a deep and heartfelt kiss.

Still slightly breathless, Spike and Xander joined hands and leaped over the remains of the bonfire.

The cold slammed into Spike while he was still in midair. It felt as if he’d plunged into an icy pool, and the shock of it was so great that for a moment he lost all sense of himself. His bare feet thudded hard against the ground and he would have fallen if a strong arm hadn’t caught him. His body felt unfamiliar; his chest hurt and his head was too crowded. Voices broke in waves around him but he couldn’t understand them at all. He wrenched away from the arm and immediately tumbled to his knees. The sweet scents of apple and honey reached his nose: chamomile. Familiar and calming. He blinked and tried to focus his vision.

Several people were crowded around him. Three of them were the Goddess’s daughters; he inhaled sharply at the power he could feel in the one with flame-colored hair. He hissed even more loudly when he noticed the fourth woman. A Slayer! Older than most, he thought; and he noticed her eyes were narrowed, assessing him. There was a tall man who smelled of bergamot and dusty paper, and another tall man who looked human but wasn’t quite. Or perhaps he was—he smelled human, but far too old. The puzzle of his identity became inconsequential, however, when the final person crouched down.

“Spike? Are you all right?”

Spike—Spike?—growled and scrambled to his feet. The bones of his face shifted in an odd and not entirely unpleasing manner and he bared his fangs at the Oak King.


He shook his head to clear it and the Oak King fearlessly stepped forward. “What’s going on?” he asked. He was strong and beautiful, with dark tousled hair and tanned skin. Only a single eye, but that eye was filled with concern and … love?

He was the Oak King and he had to die tonight.

“Spike? C’mon, buddy, talk to me. What the hell’s wrong? Did I—”

“There’s something weird about him,” interrupted the Slayer. “Xander, be careful!” She stepped forward meaningfully and Spike spread his legs into a fighting crouch.

But the Oak King stood between them and raised his hand to stop her. “Back off, Buff.”

“But he’s—”

“He’s mine. I’ll handle it.”

Twin urges tore at Spike’s mind, each of them irresistible. He needed to tear the Oak King apart. He needed to hold Xander in his arms. Spike moaned and clenched his hands tightly enough to draw blood. Christ, his head bloody ached and voices inside him screamed at one another and he couldn’t understand any of them and wasn’t sure which one was his. “Losing myself …,” he rasped.

Xander smiled gently. “Then let me help find you. I told you. I’m here to catch.” And he clasped Spike’s forearm.

The spark that briefly flared and the jolt of energy that flowed between them would have killed them if they’d been human. Searing heat flowed into Spike’s body, burning him to the core, while Xander gasped and shuddered. Ice blue eyes locked with warm brown.

“Oh God,” one of them groaned. Perhaps both of them groaned in unison. And then they were on each other.

Silk was shred and leather torn. Spike didn’t remember falling, but now he was down on the soft lawn, as was Xander, and they were rolling over and over one another, desperate cries escaping their throats, cold flesh rubbing frantically against hot. Some dim corner of Spike’s mind was aware that they had an audience, but he didn’t bloody care—wouldn’t have cared if a herd of Chorago demons had come thundering through.

“In, in, in! Christ, Xan, need, need …”

“Me … God, Spike … me too. Please!” Xander grabbed Spike’s shoulders and rolled them over again so that Spike was on top. Then Xander canted his hips and wrapped his legs—long, strong legs—around Spike’s waist.

Spike nearly gave in to the urge to thrust, but stopped himself just in time. “S-Slick,” he stuttered through a throat that barely worked.

“Never mind.” Xander squirmed frenziedly, almost impaling himself. “Don’t care. Now, Spike!”

It was all the permission Spike needed. Dimly thinking to himself that under these circumstances, the spilling of blood was a good thing—was always about the blood, wasn’t it?—he grabbed his cock in one shaking hand, lined it up properly, and with a single hard push buried himself balls deep in Xander’s willing body.

They both cried out. It hurt—Xander was so goddamn tight and hot—and the rough entry must have hurt Xander even more than Spike. But Xander immediately dug his heels into Spike’s back as if Spike were a horse and looked imploring upward. “Fucking move! Please!”

Spike moved. There was nothing tender about their coupling this time, none of the gentle teasing or slow caresses that usually passed between them. This was brutal, an act as primal as a vampire—or a hyena—tearing out the throat of its prey. But Christ, Christ, it was so brilliant: the clutching muscles, the maddening friction, the melding of hot and cold, of life and death. The hoarse screams that harmonized from two mouths like a demented battle cry.

Spike became blind with ecstasy, insensible to everything but the feel of his body inside Xander’s and the sounds they made together. Xander writhed beneath him and clawed furrows into Spike’s biceps. More blood flowing, and that was good. Blood sliding down their skin and mingling with sweat and with salty tears. Then Spike’s hips jerked erratically and he and Xander howled and Spike’s seed filled Xander’s body while Xander’s boiled between them, smearing their bellies and chests and mixing with the other fluids to soak into the earth beneath them.


Spike only regained awareness again when his back began to smoke. He shouted with alarm and so did Xander, who was still squashed beneath him. Half stumbling, half dragging each other forward, they raced the sun’s first rays to the shelter of the enclosed back porch.

“I guess not so much with the light-proof anymore,” Xander panted when they got to safety.

Spike craned his neck to examine his back and arse, which were very slightly singed. “No,” he replied regretfully.

“But hey! You’ve gained nifty new accessories!” Xander reached up to Spike’s head and tugged gently at what he found there.

Spike reached up as well and was only mildly surprised to discover he’d sprouted a pair of horns. “Do they match yours?”

“Yours are prettier. Sort of silvery sparkly, like ice.”

“Sparkly?” Spike scowled.

“In a very manly way, of course,” replied Xander, patting Spike’s sore rump just hard enough to make him yelp. “So I guess this means—”

“I’m the Holly King.”

“Wow. That’s … wow.” Xander grinned. “Congratulations, Your Majesty. I guess this means you’re in charge for the next six months.”

“I expect I am.”

“Um … weren’t you supposed to kill me? Not that I’m complaining or anything because last night—holy shit! Definitely no complaining. But according to Willow’s books I should be dead now, not just walking funny for a couple of days.”

Spike considered this, and as he did he looked at his lover’s naked body, and then down at his own. They were both filthy, their skin smeared with grass stains and mud and ashes, with blood and dried semen. “La petite mort,” Spike said when realization hit him.


“The little death. ’T’s an old metaphor for orgasm.” He closed his eyes and recited a poem he thought he’d forgotten a century earlier:

Sweet love doth now invite,
Thy graces that refrain,
To do me due delight,
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die,
With thee again in sweetest sympathy.”

“So … shagging me to death is the plan?”

“More or less.”

Xander gathered Spike in his arms and whispered into his ear. “I can live with that. It’s way better than a meteor.”

Spike allowed himself to lean against his lover’s body. It was a bit of a shock to find himself turned into pagan royalty, but not an entirely unpleasant one. In fact, he could feel the Holly King’s powers itching beneath his skin and he looked forward to discovering what he could do. But not now. Now he was knackered and enormously relieved that Xander—his lover, his partner, now his literal other half—was safe. “Let’s shower and get into bed, yeah?” he murmured.

“It’s a plan.” But Xander stopped after taking a few steps. “Um … what do you suppose happened to the gang? ’Cause they were there last night and then the two of us, um …”

Spike smiled wickedly. “Reckon they may have stayed to watch the show, then scarpered when we blacked out.”

“Oh.” Xander was especially fetching when he blushed, Spike decided.

But as they entered the house a heavy scent hit Spike’s nose, just as his gaze fell on a pair of lacy green knickers that were discarded in the middle of the kitchen floor. Xander saw them too. “Um … Spike?”

Spike inhaled. “All of them. Not together, but in pairs, everywhere in our house. Looks as if we sparked a bit of an orgy, pet. They’ve gone home now though.”

Xander’s face went through a series of interesting transformations—ranging from intrigued to horrified—as he no doubt imagined the activities that had taken place a few hours earlier. “Oh,” he said finally. “Well, I guess the wedding was a success then.”

“I have you, love. That’s all the success I need.”

Xander gave him a blinding smile and dragged him into another embrace. “We don’t have to clean up right away, do we? It’s our honeymoon, after all.”

“Sorry I can’t take you someplace more exotic.”

“Hey, Lincoln, Nebraska is the honeymoon capital of the world. Didn’t you know?” Xander gave Spike’s cheek a messy kiss. And then he froze so suddenly that Spike began to worry that something was amiss. His worry dissipated, however, as Xander nearly doubled over with laughter.

Spike waited for the guffaws to fade to chortles. “Yes?” he said.

“Last night when you … when we touched. There was that huge spark, right?”

“Was hard to miss.”

“Yeah. And it was … you were cold. Not just undead guy climbing into my bed cold either. So I kind of … It was self-defense, all right? I didn’t plan it.”

Spike cocked his head. “What’d you do?”

“I … It’s sort of my weapon. Like when I sicced the rosebush on those demons?”

What’s your weapon?”

“Life. Growth.” Xander twitched one shoulder. “When all that cold touched me I lashed out with that.”

Spike glanced back over his shoulder, although he couldn’t see the back yard from here. “Didn’t notice any rogue shrubbery, love.” Though admittedly he’d been a bit too distracted to notice much.

“I, um, don’t think that’s the effect I had this time.”

Spike raised an eyebrow and Xander shrugged, then grinned. “I’m not sure, not yet. But … let’s just say I won’t be especially surprised if a couple more weddings are in our near future—and if these weddings are more the shotgun type.”

It took a few moments for the meaning of what he’d said to sink in, and then Spike began to laugh as well. “Can you imagine the bitching we’ll hear from the Slayer when she’s too fat to fit in her tiny dresses?”

“Or the faces Giles and Angel will make when they’re stuck changing diapers?”

They hung on each other for a bit, snorting inelegantly. Xander was still chuckling when he said, “I think they’ll make good parents, though. All of them. And Willow and Melissa will be happy to babysit.”

“And you’ll make a brilliant uncle.”

“I … yeah. Hadn’t thought of that. We’ll be the cool uncles, Spike. The ones who buy the kids drum sets for their birthdays, and get them hopped up on sugar and then send them back home to mom and dad.”

Uncle. Spike was nearly rocked off his feet as he suddenly realized what he’d become, what he’d gained. He had a mate, a home. A family. He grabbed Xander’s hand and began to haul him towards the bedroom. “C’mon then. ’T’s time to pay proper respect to the new king.”

Xander allowed himself to be tugged. “Fine. But in December it’s your turn to bow to me.”

“Might do,” Spike replied with a smile. And, actually, he was looking forward to it.

The End