Truth or Dare


“We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?”

Xander rolled his head so his eye was focused on Spike instead of the television screen. “We are not a pair,” he said.

“Figuratively speaking.”

“I don’t want anything to do with your figure.”

“ ’T’s a phrase, berk.” Spike shifted as much as he was able, which meant he moved his shoulders a bit and resettled his head on the pillow. A broken spine hadn’t been much fun the first time around, and he wasn’t enjoying the rerun any better. “I only meant that everyone else is out there, fighting the good fight, and here we are. Me with my bloody useless body and you with … being mental.”

Xander’s eye narrowed. “I’m not mental, Bleach Brains. They’re panic attacks. Perfectly understandable after a guy survives a dozen ends of the world. And the meds are helping. I’m just not … not real reliable in battle right now.”

“Like I said. Mental.” Spike smirked.

Xander huffed and turned back to the telly. The announcer was nattering on, trying to appear calm when he was scared half to death. Spike didn’t understand why the boy was bothering to watch—wasn’t as if he was going to learn anything new. Perhaps he simply preferred that rubbish to conversing with Spike, which was nearly the only alternative.

For half an hour or so, Spike stared at Xander. The boy had a few gray hairs sprinkled in among the dark, and little crinkles at the corner of his eye. He hadn’t shaved in a couple of days. He looked tired. Worn out. Should really be on holiday, not hiding out in a bunker with a paralyzed vampire. Of course, holidays were out of the question for anyone at the moment, and Xander would probably have been recruited to fight again despite being slightly barmy, except Spike needed a minder. Couldn’t even hold his own blood packets yet. Maybe never would again, if matters outside their refuge didn’t take a turn for the better.

And then the power went out.

“Goddamn it!” Xander said, and knocked something over.

Even Spike could barely see anything in the faint orange glow of the single emergency light. “There’s a torch on the table to my right,” Spike said. “Oi! You needn’t trod on me to get it.”

A light clicked on, giving Xander’s face an eerie glow. “If you wore something besides black I might actually have a chance of seeing you so I wouldn’t step on you.” He sighed and collapsed, sitting on the thin mattress next to Spike’s. “I’m guessing this isn’t because someone forgot to pay the electric bill.”

Spike tried to shrug. “Could be our own lot who cut the power. Those Lensmi wankers need juice at least as much as we do.”

“Yeah, it could be us or it could be another fucking step to the end.”

Spike couldn’t argue with that, so he didn’t reply. It was Xander who finally broke the silence. “Your blood supply’s not gonna keep with the freezer out of commission.”

“It’ll last a day or two, I reckon.”

“And after that? We got a zillion cans of peaches and tomatoes and chipped beef, but none of that’s gonna help you any.”

“ ’T’s not a problem for a while, Xander. One crisis at a time, yeah?”

“Yeah. I guess.”

“You’re not going to …”

“Blow a gasket? Nah, I don’t think so. I have a paper bag handy if I start to hyperventilate.” Xander moved around until his back was leaning against the cement wall. The torch was a big square one, and he set it on the narrow strip of floor between their mattresses, where it illuminated the dusty spider webs on the ceiling. “This wasn’t how I pictured going out,” he said softly.

“You fancied a blaze of glory? Overrated.”

“No, not glory. Just not … like this.”

Spike jerked his chin toward the door. “So go out and join them. They might appreciate another soldier, even half-blind and half-loony.”

“I’m not gonna leave you alone, Spike.”

That surprised Spike. “You hate me.”

A long, aggrieved sigh. “I stopped hating you about three apocalypses back. And anyway, it’s my job, babysitting you. You’re one of us—you don’t get abandoned.”

“Oh,” Spike replied and turned his head away. His throat felt a bit tight. Stupid, getting choked up because Xander Harris included him in his circle. Stupid, but it was still nice to be told that he belonged.

“I guess I should probably conserve the batteries,” Xander said.


Xander reached over and turned off the torch, leaving them again in almost complete darkness. Another long silence stretched between them, marked only by the sounds of Xander’s breathing, the slight lub-dub of his heartbeat.

“Are you asleep?” Xander finally asked.


“Me either. I’m not sleepy. Too much going on in my head, maybe. And no cracks about my head, either.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

Xander made a sound somewhere between a chuckle and a snort. Then he sighed again. “Not a lot of entertainment options here, are there?”

“Least you can wank. I can’t even scratch my sodding nose.” And now he wished he hadn’t said that because his nose began to itch.

“I am not gonna wank!” Xander sounded indignant, which made Spike smile.

“Why not? Been ages since you got your end away. Have you lost your libido along with your mind?”

“I haven’t— No. And since when do you keep track of my sex life, anyway?”

Spike wished the boy could see him grin. “Not much to keep track of, is there?” Then he relented a bit. “We’ve all been living in close quarters for months now. Shagging hasn’t been anyone’s first priority.”

“It hasn’t been my priority since Anya,” Xander muttered.

“That’s been ages.”

“Can we just change the subject? Please?”

Xander sounded miserable and pathetic, which would once have amused Spike, but now made his conscience twinge. “I could recite poetry.”

“No way. Not unless you want me to break into Merle Haggard’s greatest hits. You want me to begin with Cherokee Maiden or Okie from Muskogee?”

“Cheers, but I’d rather dust right now.” Spike tried to make the infuriating tickle on the tip of his nose go away by moving his head from side to side. It didn’t work.

There was another long silence, which Xander again broke with a roar of frustration. “Gah! This … just sitting here, waiting to … waiting for whatever. It’d drive anyone nuts. And honestly, Spike, neither of us is the poster boy for mental stability.” He thumped his head against the wall three times. Hard. Then he went still again. “Hey. What … what do you think is waiting for us? You know—after we kick it. ’Cause I know you’re Resurrection Man, but I’m thinking this time there’s not gonna be much world to come back to.”

It was an issue that had crossed Spike’s mind more than once, especially of late. “Dunno. I reckon you’re bound for eternal peace and happiness. Isn’t that what the Slayer said that time?”

“Yeah. Except … Buff’s a certified hero. Me, not so much. I’ve done some stuff—”

“You’re as big a bloody hero as any Slayer, git. Stayed in it to the end, didn’t you? No matter how much you lost. If that doesn’t earn you your eternal reward, don’t know what will. Now, me, I’ve seen the coming attractions and I don’t much fancy them. I’d prefer a more temperate climate.”

Xander paused and then awkwardly patted Spike’s shoulder. Spike could just barely feel it; if the world weren’t about to end, the slight return of sensation below his neck would have been comforting. Xander said, “Jesus, Fangface. There’s no way you’re going to hell.”


Xander chuckled. “Some of my best friends are demons. Anyway, I don’t think whoever runs the place is prejudiced. You’re a pretty major hero, too.”

Spike found himself grinning like a lunatic and he was glad that Xander couldn’t see. “Let’s change the subject again, shall we? We’ll find out soon enough what’s in store for us—or the day will be saved once again and we’ll find out a bit later. What if we play a game instead?”

“A game? I’d be happy to move your little metal shoe around the board, except we don’t have a board. Or a little metal shoe. Why didn’t they at least stock the place with a deck of cards? A guy should be able to play a hand of poker during Armageddon.”

“There are loads of games that don’t need supplies. Proverbs, Forfeits, Similes … Parlor games.” Then inspiration struck. “We could play a more modern game instead. Truth or Dare.”

Even in the darkness, Spike could tell that Xander swung his head around to stare at him. “Truth or Dare? Didn’t realize that was a popular pastime among the undead.”

“Spent enough time around the Bit and the baby Slayers, haven’t I? So, what will it be, Harris? Truth, or dare?”

Xander was quiet so long that Spike feared he was refusing to play. But then the boy said, “Dare. I guess.”

Honestly, Spike hadn’t expected that. So he had to consider for a moment, but when an idea came to mind he smiled. “Right then. I dare you to let a vampire bite you.”

To his credit, Xander didn’t run away screaming. Of course, there wasn’t far he could run. He did swallow loudly, though. “Bite?”

“Just a nibble.”

“Um …” Xander sniffed. “Okay. Fine. I never expected to buy the farm without feeling a fang or two anyway. But, uh, how …”

Spike hadn’t expected the boy to acquiesce so easily and he had to fight to keep his voice steady. It had been ages since he’d had fresh human blood. “Just put your wrist against my mouth,” he said gruffly before shifting his face.

After a brief hesitation, Xander did just that. Up close, his skin smelled of sweat and dust and canned fruit. Spike craned his neck just a bit—thankful he was able to do so—and sank his teeth in.

“Ow!” Xander said, but didn’t pull away. “That hurts! That … Oh. Jesus. Jesus Christ.” He stopped speaking and groaned instead, deep and growling.

The boy tasted brilliant, but Spike took only a few heady swallows before turning his head to break the contact. Xander left his arm in place for a moment and then slowly removed it. Spike licked at his lips, enjoying the lingering taste, and shifted his face back.

“That was … not what I expected,” said Xander. “I’m suddenly thinking death by vampire isn’t such a bad way to go.”

“Rupert has a theory about it—he thinks perhaps we inject something when we bite. Makes sense, I reckon, if your prey’s sanguine about being drained. Explains why some tossers become addicted. Rupert meant to do some testing of his theory, but then the Lensmis’ scheme went into action and …”

“No time for science either. If the world is unexpectedly saved, I’m so gonna volunteer to be a guinea pig on this one. But now it’s your turn, and I’m gonna have to go with a Truth.”

Spike waited while Xander thought. His nose had stopped itching, at least, and he imagined he had gained a bit more feeling around his shoulders and upper chest. And for the first time in ages, he felt warm. Fresh human blood was a wonderful thing.

“Okay,” Xander said at last. “You’re almost completely paralyzed and the end is nigh, and there you are, cool as a cucumber. I’ve seen you in a lot of scary situations, actually, and you never lose it. So here’s what I wanna know: what terrifies the Big Bad. What’s your biggest fear, Spike?”

Spike didn’t have to think at all to come up with the answer to that one. Still he hesitated, fearing Xander’s ridicule and chiding himself for being a pansy. But the game had been his idea, hadn’t it, and Xander had played along properly. “Being alone,” Spike whispered.

“Oh,” replied Xander. There was a pause and then a brief flurry of movement, during which Xander relocated the torch somewhere and shoved his mattress up against Spike’s. He resettled himself inches away, with his fingers just barely touching the fabric at Spike’s shoulder.

“Doesn’t mean I have to actually be physically connected with someone all the time,” Spike said, meaning to sound cross but not managing it. He didn’t fool Xander either—the boy simply reached over and ruffled Spike’s hair. Spike had to clear his throat. “Right then. Truth from you. Have you ever shagged a bloke?”

“And here we are, back with my sex life. Yes, Spike. I’ve mostly preferred the fairer sex, but I’ve crossed to the other side now and then. Kind of as an experiment at first and then I … dabbled. Never quite made it a hobby.” He didn’t sound embarrassed by it, and Spike wondered if the other Scoobies knew. “You?”

“Is that my Truth?”

Xander laughed. “Sure. Why not.”

“Dabbled a bit myself when I was a lad. Boarding school. Just a bit of groping in the dark now and then, yeah? After I was turned, there was ’Gelus—”

“You and Angel?” Xander asked incredulously.

“Angelus. And a few others after. And now it’s your turn, innit? I dare you to kiss me.”

Spike still half expected Xander to refuse, so he was relieved when the boy simply chuckled. “If this is a seduction, it’s a pretty damn weird one.”

“Not much use seducing in my current state,” Spike replied wistfully. “I only—”

But Xander was already leaning over him and then hesitantly pressing his lips to Spike’s. Spike could feel the stubble on Xander’s cheeks and he wished he had the use of his hands; he would have liked to twine his fingers in long hair and hold Xander in place. But at least the boy wasn’t showing any inclination to move away. In fact, he was running his tongue along the edge of Spike’s teeth and then along the roof of his mouth. He was propped on one arm but he traced the fingers of his free hand along Spike’s cheekbone and jawline, then stroked the tender skin just under Spike’s ear. If Spike’s toes were capable of curling, they would have.

“You taste way better than I thought you would,” Xander announced when he pulled away. Spike couldn’t help but notice that the boy’s heart rate had sped considerably.

“See? Take away the telly and you gain an education,” Spike replied.

“And I’m kinda wishing I’d turned off the set a long time ago. So, Truth now, pal. Is this an apocalyptic, last-gasp-in-the-face-of-final-death thing? Kissing Xander Harris because he’s possibly the last non-Lensmi left on earth?”

Spike turned his head and craned his neck as much as he was able, just barely managing to brush his lips against the back of Xander’s hand. “No, pet. It’s not.” He considered admitting to the boy that he’d been watching him for ages, trying to judge whether those glances really were slightly lingering, afraid to make a fool of himself again over unrequited love. He decided to hold his tongue. No use spending possibly final moments regretting what hadn’t been.

Spike opened his mouth to speak, but then his sensitive ears caught distant sounds. They were too far from the bunker for him to identify—could be the Scoobies, could be anyone else—and they were coming closer. Xander couldn’t have heard the noises himself, but he must have sensed Spike’s sudden tenseness. “What is it?” Xander asked.

“Dare, Xander. I dare you to hold me in your arms and keep me there, no matter what happens next.”

Xander’s throat clicked when he swallowed, but he scooted down on the mattress and gathered Spike in a tight embrace. Spike couldn’t really feel it very well, of course, but the solid weight of the boy was immensely comforting, as were the puffs of warm breath against his face. “I’m not panicking,” Xander said with wonder. “All I got is an armful of disabled vampire but I feel … calm. Like everything’s gonna be okay. How stupid is that?”

The sounds came closer, very fast.

So little time left. “Let me give you a Truth,” Spike said quickly. “There’s nobody I’d rather be with right now than you.”

Xander kissed Spike’s cheek. Tenderly, which almost made Spike cry.

Yelling and banging, but the thick door muted it enough that Spike couldn’t tell whether the voices were familiar ones. A huge crash made the entire building shake. Then another.

Spike looked Xander in the eye and hoped the boy could see him. “I dare you. If we survive this, I dare you to fall for me.”

A third crash, this one so loud Spike could barely hear Xander’s laughter. “Done. And you know what? I’ll give it a shot even if we don’t survive,” Xander shouted.

And the door flew open.

The End