Pairing: Spander
Rating: R
[info]hc_bingo Card Prompt: sexual extortion - to protect someone else
Summary: Season 5. “Its okay,” Spike said, clearly faking his careless tone. The vampire looked away, his hands clenched into fists where they were held above his head. “I won’t let them hurt you.”
Warnings/Notes: Non-con, minor violence. Title from Adam Lambert’s Soaked.



Take Shelter and Hide Forever


by
Wolfelements


Xander would always claim at a much later date that he had liked Spike before they found themselves held captive in the dank underground that filled the Sunnydale sewer system and branched out into the warehouses and basements across the small town. He’d claim that he had liked Spike, but it didn’t have any truth to it and they both knew it. He had a good reason behind the lie, however, because there was no other way his friends would understand how he could go from hating the vampire one night, getting captured and tortured, and coming out of it practically in love.

But they hadn’t been there. They didn’t know what Spike had done to save him, to protect him. They never would know.

It all started with Anya, which hadn’t surprised Xander all that much. She had spent three hours in his new apartment gathering her things and packing them, occasionally sniffing as she explained to him just why she was leaving. He’d stopped listening thirty minutes in, knowing that nothing he did would fix whatever he’d done to screw things up. So he’d sat there, occasionally nodded, helped her carry her things out to her car, and then went to the liquor store. He ran into Spike on the way home.

They exchanged rude commentary for about a block before Spike started trying to peek into his paper sack.

“Hands off the booze, blondie,” he said, glaring.

“Hey now, is that any way to treat the savior of your life?” Spike asked. “Who was it that kept that vampire from eating you last week? Oh, that’s right, it was me.”

“I’ll have you know that me getting attacked like that was all a part of a plan,” Xander defended.

Spike snorted. “Never took you for the suicidal type, though considering how pathetic your life must be…”

Xander could do nothing but glare in the vampire’s direction as he rounded the next corner, clutching his bag to his chest to ensure that it was out of Spike’s reach. There was a moment when Xander was caught up in the bright glow of Spike’s hair as they passed a streetlight, but it was swiftly overtaken by shock as something hard slammed into him from behind.

He fought, he knew he had to have fought, but in the end it did nothing but make him tired and sore and easier to knock to the ground unconscious. Distantly, he remembered Spike cursing a mean streak and letting out a bellow of rage, which gave Xander the fleeting thought that if Spike was being brought down in such a fashion then that meant they were truly screwed. And then everything went black.


~*~*~*~*~


There were strange growling noises echoing around the room, making Xander’s head ache in a way that indicated he either had a concussion or had drank far too much tequila. He attempted to open his eyes, but pain that shot through his head was enough to encourage him to keep them closed. He drew in a slow breath and tried to not gag on the thick and musky scent that invaded his nostrils. That done, Xander went about his usual process of ensuring he had all of his limbs. He was cataloging the various aches in his left leg when he heard Spike groan.

“Bloody hell, I’m going to kill that bus driver,” Spike mumbled. Xander felt something heavy hit his side and he pried his eyes open once more to see that Spike had rolled over and the heavy thing pressed against his waist was Spike’s arm.

Blue eyes flickered open, closed, and then re-opened wide. Xander suspected the look of dawning horror on Spike’s face matched his own. Spike pushed himself up into a sitting position, hand paused half-raised to rub at his forehead as he scanned the room they were in. Xander shifted, hissed in pain, and looked toward the sounds of growling.

He immediately regretted it.

Four very large demons were congregated around the bars that lined the cage Spike and him were trapped in. They were bulky with small horns protruding from the most bizarre places. Two sets of eyes resided on their foreheads and their mouths were lined with bright green teeth that clashed with the orange tint of their skin. They were growling—or, Xander supposed, talking—to one another, occasionally glancing between the bars at their captives.

“Spike,” Xander whispered, “do you know what they’re saying?”

“I wish I didn’t.”

“Why? Oh God, we’re going to die, aren’t we? I’m going to die in a dark, dank cell with the Fangless Wonder!” Xander exclaimed, no longer worried about keeping his voice low. Not that it mattered since the demons didn’t bother to acknowledge his outburst. He attempted to sit up and with a groan of pain, fell back down, preferring to glare at Spike from the floor. “I really do hate you.”

“Me?” Spike demanded. “What the hell did I do? I didn’t get us into this mess. It’s the wonderful Slayer’s fault that we’re here.”

“Oh, really? How did you figure that one, Spike? Because I’m not seeing her anywhere and those look like demons to me.”

“Shut it!” Spike hissed. “I’m trying to hear them, you bloody moron.”

Xander managed to fall silent and curled his legs up toward his chest, hoping it would stop some of the ache he felt. He had a feeling that he had been officially beaten to a pulp and the realization wasn’t as much of a shock as it should have been. Sighing, he watched Spike watch the demons, the vampire’s mouth moving occasionally as he translated their strange overly-guttural language.

At one point, Spike started glancing at Xander with a vague hint of worry. Xander didn’t notice it at first, of course, as he had started to feel pretty tired, but when Spike visibly swallowed Xander felt his mind perking up to pay attention. He narrowed his eyes. “What? What are they saying?”

“Look, Xander,” Spike began, which nearly sent Xander into a heart attack because Spike never said his name, “you’ve got to understand something first. Most demons don’t realize that the Slayer is, well, extremely unorganized. They view her as some kind of logical fighting machine, right?”

Xander tried to wrap his mind around that while simultaneously attempting to predict where Spike was going with his explanation. “Huh?”

“They want information on the Slayer,” Spike finally said. “They want her battle tactics, allies, and her goddamn psychological profile.”

“Okay, since when are demons involved in that much preparation?” he asked.

“That’s part one of the bad news, I’m afraid.” And shit, Xander knew things were bad if Spike had started to talk all proper.

“Just explain what’s going on, please?”

“It seems some big bad is trying to take over the demon underground. The Master was the last Lord of Sunnydale, sort of anyway, and now these blokes’ leader is thinking he’ll come in and take over since there’s no one seated on the throne,” Spike explained in a low voice, pitched to not attract the demons’ attention. Not that it would have mattered since Xander didn’t think they understood English. “The best way to take control of an area like Sunnydale is to remove the main threat to your future followers, which just so happens to be the Slayer.”

“Right, okay, I get that,” he replied. “But why did they capture us? I’m pretty sure I don’t look like Buffy.”

“From what I can gather, we’re meant to give them the information they want so they can go out and kill Buffy,” Spike said.

“I take it they aren’t going to just ask questions and offer us pleasant refreshments.” At Spike’s expression, Xander sighed. “Let the torture commence.”


~*~*~*~*~


Later, he’d feel guilty for being so flippant over the idea of being tortured. It wasn’t that he had thought it was a good idea; it was more than he had never realized how bad being truly tortured really was. Despite being the best friend to the Slayer, Xander hadn’t really faced much by way of true torment.

If he had known…hell, if he had known what was going to happen he would have been on his feet within seconds of waking up and attempting to get Spike out of there.

After a very long session of growling and possibly arguing the demons had decided to interrogate Xander for information. He hadn’t been all that surprised, seeing how he probably appeared to be the weaker of the two. The weak tend to break easily, after all. He had been surprised, though, when Spike had jumped to his feet and moved to stand between Xander and definite pain. Spike had said something in their language which had resulted in a strange form of laughter from their guards.

“Spike, what are you doing?” Xander asked, warily. He had managed to stand, but for some reason the room was spinning at a strange angle. He reached out a hand and grabbed the back of Spike’s duster. “I’ll be okay. Buffy will come rescue us.”

“You don’t know what they’re planning,” Spike had said, before speaking to the guard once more.

It wasn’t until the guards had grabbed Spike and dragged him through the open cage door that Xander realized that Spike had been trying to talk them into taking him instead of Xander. Strong hands took hold of his arms and lifted him a foot off the ground. He struggled, his eyes stuck on the sight of Spike being stripped of his duster. As Spike’s arms were being lifted toward the manacles that hung from the ceiling, Xander began to kick at the demons holding him.

“Let me go!” he yelled. “Spike! Why are you just giving in? What the hell is going on?”

Spike didn’t reply, but he knew that those blue eyes were locked on him as he continued to fight his way free. The hands on him tightened just before he was swung around and slammed face first into the nearest wall. Blood erupted from his nose and he clenched his jaw to hold back a yelp.

There was a rumble of speaking behind him before one of his arms was wrenched up behind his back. Spike replied to them, his voice low and deadly. Xander wished with all his might that he could understand what they were saying. He turned his head to see Spike and what appeared to be the head demon staring one another down.

He pushed back against the demons holding him, pressing his foot into the wall for leverage. A wail of pain escaped him as his arm was twisted up higher and a loud pop echoed through the room. Agony shot through his shoulder as the joint dislocated and he sagged, feeling the fight suddenly rush out of him. He was pressed hard against the wall, the cool surface making him tremble.

The demon talking to Spike suddenly laughed and called something out to his companions. The hands holding Xander lessened their grip and he shuddered when one hand began to trail up and down his spine. His eyes widened when the hand slipped under his shirt, the painful position of his dislocated arm keeping him from doing more than pulling barely an inch away. Claws stroked down the length of his spine, before plucking at the waistband of his jeans.

“No! Don’t touch him,” Spike snapped, before growling something in their language, his voice filled with rage.

The head demon held out a hand, stopping the ones holding Xander just before they could pull his pants down. Xander felt his body sag in what could have been relief. He felt disconnected as they pulled him away from the wall and turned him to face Spike. He met ice blue eyes, which held a hesitation and hint of fear that he had never thought Spike capable of feeling.

“Spike?”

“Its okay,” Spike said, clearly faking his careless tone. The vampire looked away, his hands clenched into fists where they were held above his head. “I won’t let them hurt you.”


~*~*~*~*~


He wanted to cry. He wanted Spike to take back what he had said and let them hurt him, because watching the pain Spike was going through was worse than anything they could have done to him. He wanted to close his eyes and not see, but he couldn’t.

Because closing his eyes would leave Spike alone in this.

Xander had always known that demons were evil, but he’d never thought to connect them to the worst crime a human could ever commit. That was until now.

Now, when he could see the blood dripping down the inside of Spike’s bare thigh. Now, when he could pinpoint the exact moment that Spike gave into the pain and screamed. Now, when he could smell the distinct scent of sexual release in the air. Now, when the laughter of the demons around them seemed to be drowned out by grunts and moans of agony.

They taunted Xander at first, making it clear that what Spike was grudgingly offering was the only thing that kept them from turning to him for entertainment. He wondered, at the beginning, why they hadn’t bothered to try and interrogate them like Spike had said they would. Then he realized that they were taking their time. Spike, as a vampire, would survive most of what they could throw at him and simply watching the violation of the vampire was enough to make Xander want to spout every secret Buffy ever gifted him to hold.

He knew Spike would survive this, physically. Mentally, however, was a different story.

He watched. He focused on meeting Spike’s gaze, somehow keeping the vampire from looking away, trying to silently show him that he wasn’t alone. It was all he could do.


~*~*~*~*~


Spike hadn’t spoken since they had been dumped back in the cage, left to think and worry and obsess over what had just happened. He knew that they would come back. They had yet to get their information, after all. But in the meantime Xander was left in a cold cage, sitting with his back against the wall and holding his injured arm steady as he watched Spike lay on his side and stare off into the distance without a glimmer of true emotion on his face.

He wanted to touch the vampire, but he couldn’t bring himself to even inch closer. He remembered a girl in high school, back when he was a freshman and didn’t know anything about demons and Slayers. She had vanished from school one day, only to return two weeks later looking like a skittish mouse. She never spoke to anyone, except when the teachers forced her to answer a question in class. He had later heard through the rumor mill that she had been in the hospital after being drugged and attacked outside one of Sunnydale’s less popular clubs. He remembered how she had often stared off into space, much like Spike was doing now. At the time he had wondered if she was remembering or just trying to forget.

She had killed herself a month later.

That was Xander’s only real experience with rape. He felt helpless, as useless to Spike as he had been to the girl whose name he couldn’t even remember.

He stared at Spike’s head, watching the rise and fall of his chest with each unneeded breath. Spike’s lips parted, moving to form some senseless word. Xander lifted his hand, reaching out to touch the bleached hair, jerking back before he could actually come in contact.

He wouldn’t let it happen again. He would never be able to live with himself and he hated that he was worried about his own reactions instead of Spike. But he didn’t know what to do for the vampire.

There was one thing he could do, though, and that was to make sure no one else touched Spike. They’d have to go through him first.


~*~*~*~*~


He had repeated the words over and over again in his head. Protect Spike. Save Spike. Get Spike out of there. Don’t let anyone touch Spike.

It shouldn’t have surprised him, then, that when rescue finally came he had reacted violently to his own friends reaching for the vampire. What happened didn’t really register in his brain. He remembered Willow’s attempt to calm him and the tremble of Spike’s skin just under his fingertips, which the vampire tried to hide with a rude comment about how long it took for the Scoobies to arrive.

He had helped Spike to his feet, assisting in ensuring the vampire’s clothes were fully on. Giles stood off to the side, rubbing his jaw. It took Xander a moment to realize that he had hit the man.

“Sorry,” Xander whispered, not meeting Giles’ worried gaze and trying instead to focus on his own pain.

And then they were free. Xander didn’t know what to do with himself. Some part of his brain had settled on the thought that they would be held as captives for much longer, possibly forever. They all stood outside in the Sunnydale night, the darkness barely keeping the summer heat away. Buffy was cleaning the demon blood off her axe, looking pleased with herself, while the others stood around like sidekicks waiting for her next command.

Xander looked over at Spike. The vampire was standing up straight, almost as though a rod had been fused to his spine. It was the only indication of Spike’s discomfort. “Spike?”

Blue eyes glanced in his direction, which was all the acknowledgement he needed.

“How about you stay with me for a while,” he offered, ignoring Buffy and Willow’s look of surprise. “I think I have some blood left in my freezer.”

Spike was silent a moment, before he nodded curtly. “Yeah, okay, but you should get that arm looked at first.”


~*~*~*~*~


Spike didn’t talk to him the first week. Instead, Xander went about his business, trying to pretend that everything was normal. He spoke to Willow over the phone, ignoring her questions concerning Spike. He could hear the taint of suspicion in her voice, but couldn’t bring himself to put her at ease.

He didn’t know what to think. His sudden desire to fix things for the vampire was maddening because he understood, at some level, that there was nothing he could do. Spike was the only one who could fix himself and all Xander could do was stand by and try to be supportive.

Despite all the time he spent prepping himself to do and say the right thing, Xander wasn’t that shocked when he stuck his foot in his mouth.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted out between bites of his pizza. Spike jerked in the seat next to him, but otherwise didn’t react. For some horrible reason, Xander kept talking, “It should have been me. They should have…it should have been me.”

Spike stood and finally, after days of acting like a ghost, looked down at him. “Don’t you bloody well ever say that to me again.”

“But, they were…it was…” Xander trailed off.

“What?” Spike snapped, slamming his empty, blood stained cup onto the coffee table. “Do you think it would have been better? They would have killed you! You wouldn’t have survived it. Do you really think that would have been better for me?”

He stood, reaching out to touch Spike’s shoulder before thinking better of it. “I just…I don’t know how to help you. I don’t…I want to take it away.”

Spike drew in an unneeded breath. “I made the decision, Xander. I understood what they were asking and I made that choice.”

“But, I…” Xander swallowed and, after a moment’s pause, allowed himself to voice his thoughts for the first time since it had happened, “I don’t understand why.”

Blue eyes looked at him, searching his face. Whatever Spike was looking for he must not have found it, because seconds later he was turning on his heel and walking away. Xander felt something in his chest crack as Spike stormed off, grabbing his duster and slamming the front door in his wake.

Drawing in a shaky breath, Xander debated sitting back down and waiting for Spike to return. He shook his head, trying to clear it, trying to figure out what the hell he thought he was doing. He couldn’t even begin to understand his own actions at the moment, let alone Spike’s. Looking around the living room, Xander felt the first stirring of paranoia enter his brain. Refusing to give in, he snatched his keys up from the table and headed for the door.

He needed to get out. He needed to just not think for once.


~*~*~*~*~


“When are you going to tell me what’s going on with you and Spike?” Willow asked, peering over her drink at him. At her side, Tara shot him a sympathetic look, but otherwise made no move to save Xander from this conversation.

“What’s to tell? We got captured, he saved my life, and now I’m trying to make it up to him…only it’s not really working,” Xander mumbled. He turned his gaze to the small group of people dancing. The Bronze wasn’t very busy, but he shouldn’t have expected to be able to get lost in the crowd on a Tuesday night.

Out of the corner of his eye he could see Willow slowly, yet surely, developing her resolve face. He bit back a groan.

“You still haven’t told us what happened to you guys in there,” Willow pointed out. “Spike looked bad when we got there, but he was standing so I didn’t see the point in bugging you then.”

“And now that time has passed you want to know?” he surmised.

“Darn tootin’.”

“It’s…” Xander sighed and reached for his beer. “It’s complicated, Willow.”

Willow glanced over at Tara, the two of them sharing a silent conversation. After a moment of staring, Tara turned toward Xander with a small smile. “Maybe what happened isn’t important anymore. Maybe you should concentrate on what’s happening now.”

“Yeah, well, between Spike being all moody and my foot in mouth syndrome? That’s kind of difficult,” he replied, downing the last of his beer. He stared at the bottle for a moment, wondering if it would be a good idea to get another.

“Spike likes to take credit for things,” Tara mused softly. Her blue-grey eyes locked with his. “If something goes right, you can rest assured that Spike is going to claim responsibility, but have you ever noticed he avoids admitting to being involved if things don’t go the way he wants them to? He doesn’t like to feel out of control.”

Xander pulled away from her gaze and focused on where his hand was pressed against the table top. They knew something bad had happened, of course, but even Tara’s gentle words couldn’t bring the truth out of him. If all Spike had undergone was a beating or a little torture then things would be different. Xander would have made sure he healed, and then started kicking his ass over being a lay about. Now, though…

He couldn’t help but think that Spike was justified in doing nothing more than sleeping. The fact that Spike even left the apartment on occasion was a shock. He kept waiting for Spike to not return one day or to come back looking like hell from some kind of fight.

That, really, was what terrified Xander the most. Spike overreacted over practically everything. He could take a small, insignificant issue and turn it into the world’s biggest drama. But now? Spike was silent. He didn’t complain and he didn’t show anger anymore. When Spike had slammed his cup down on that table it had been the most Xander had seen from him since they had been captured.

He didn’t like it. He actually missed the old Spike.

“I just want to fix things,” Xander admitted.

“Xander…I thought you didn’t like Spike,” Willow said tentatively.

He cringed and tried to come up with some sort of explanation, but words failed him. He shook his head instead, refusing to meet Willow’s eyes.

Willow sighed. “Why would you hide something like that? I wouldn’t judge you for liking him, you know. I don’t get it, especially after what you had with Anya, but I’m not going to tell you that you can’t like him. Hell, we’ve all had dangerous relationships so it’s not like any of us can really talk.”

“Whoa, don’t jump the gun there,” he said. “We don’t have a relationship. We just…Spike still hates me. At least, I think he does. But, if he hates me, then he wouldn’t have protected me…right?”

“I don’t have an answer for that, Xander,” Willow replied.

“His reason for protecting you might not even make sense if you did know,” Tara offered. “What matters is that you accept what he did and give it the respect it deserves.”

“Shit. I’ve already messed that part up,” he realized. “I just can’t stand that he protected me like that.” He let out a breath and looked up at their worried faces. “They wanted me. Spike, he just…demanded that they hurt him instead and they did. God, what they did to him…and all I can do is tell him that he shouldn’t have stepped in like that. I haven’t even said thank you.”

“Well,” Willow said, placing her hand on top of his, “it looks like that should be the next thing you do.”


~*~*~*~*~


The thing was that in the end, Xander was a guy and didn’t do heart-to-hearts very well. So, his first priority upon deciding to sit Spike down and thank him for his sacrifice was to actually make the moment guy-worthy. Which meant alcohol and, because he was feeling kind, a packet of human blood rejected from the local blood bank.

All that was missing was the vampire in question. Xander sat on his sofa, staring down at his beer and wondering at the intelligence behind planning this conversation without knowing if Spike was even going to be there. For all he knew, Spike wasn’t going to come back. He hadn’t heard from Spike at all since their small conversation.

“This was a bad idea,” Xander mumbled to himself. “Hell, this was a bad month.”

He spent another four hours drinking his beer and watching something utterly ridiculous on television. He tried to ignore the worry that was building in his chest over the fact that Spike wasn’t home yet. It was stupid. Technically this wasn’t even Spike’s home. Spike was probably back at his crypt, arguing with his television and trying to get it to tune in properly so he could watch some stupid show like Passions.

Xander frowned down at his beer and glanced at the two empty bottles on his coffee table. Well, the positive side was that he had yet to get drunk. That was the last thing he needed.

Another hour passed and Xander soon found himself falling asleep on the sofa.

He was brought to awareness by the door shutting, instinct kicking in just enough to get him to open his eyes. It took him a moment before the world came into focus, but when it did he was able to see Spike standing behind the sofa, looking over its back at him with a funny look on his face. Xander blinked and just like that the expression was gone, before he could figure out what it meant.

“Uh, hey, I bought you blood,” Xander croaked out, literally rolling off the sofa and regretting it when it made him dizzy.

Spike didn’t say anything, which only served to make Xander feel even more nervous than he did when he had planned up this conversation.

“Fine, just make this conversation even more difficult than it needs to be,” Xander mumbled, walking around the sofa so he could stand in front of Spike.

“Didn’t realize there was going to be a conversation,” Spike replied, eyes narrowing. “You should do yourself a favor, droopy, and stop while you’re ahead. There’s no need for you to go sticking that bloody foot of yours into your mouth like a dumbass.”

“Hey!” Xander protested. “Fine, I won’t apologize for being an insensitive jerk.”

Spike blinked and looked away, before clearing his throat. “Oh. Well, if that’s what you want to do, who am I to keep you from it.”

Sometimes, Xander just didn’t understand Spike at all. He tried, but he had finally come to the realization that he’d never get the vampire, even with Tara and Willow’s help. He sighed and rubbed at the side of his face, feeling a headache come on. “Look, I just want you to know one thing, okay? I promise I’ll let it go, after I say this.”

“Well, get on with it, then.”

“It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing I should be thankful for, seeing how much they hurt you, but I recently had someone point out that I should stop being a total ass and appreciate the fact that you wanted to protect me,” Xander said in a rush. His eyes darted around, landing everywhere except for on Spike’s face. “So, thank you. For, uh, doing that. I always thought you hated me.”

“I thought I did, too,” Spike told him, before walking past him and out of the room.

Xander didn’t really have a response to that.


~*~*~*~*~


Now that Xander’s accepted the fact that Spike had helped him and made a point to tell Spike’s so, he noticed that Spike seemed a lot more relaxed around him. It came as a bit of an epiphany, but Xander finally realized that one of the reasons Spike had been so silent around him was because the vampire thought he was being judged.

At first the idea was ludicrous. It wasn’t like Spike had much of a choice in the matter. Those demons would have done that—would have raped--one of them, Spike just happened to be the one to know what was happening. Spike understood enough to try and control the situation, if only in a very small way that ensured Xander’s survival.

Then Xander thought of the girl in high school and the occasional after school special he had seen on the topic. It didn’t take him long after that to realize that it wasn’t meant to be logical on Spike’s part; the vampire felt the way he felt because he did, and that was that. He felt ashamed, like it was his fault for what had happened to him, and nothing Xander could say was going to fix that for Spike.

No matter how much he wanted to just make things perfect again.

Xander suspected that was a perfect example of why he was letting this affect him too much, because the life of a Harris was never perfect.


~*~*~*~*~


For the most part, Xander enjoyed having Spike occupying his space. It had been two months since the incident in the underground levels of Sunnydale. Those two months had been filled with work, comfortably silent evenings, and frequent funny looks from Willow. Buffy, miraculously, remained oblivious to the fact that Willow and Tara were suspicious about Xander’s need for Spike to live with him. From what Xander could gather, Buffy thought Spike was somehow paying rent.

Seeing how Spike was usually demanding payment from them, Xander didn’t see how she could think that, but this was Buffy. Sometimes she was a special individual.

So, life was slowly and yet surely returning to what counted for normal in Xander’s life. It even seemed normal for Spike. The vampire had actually started telling the television off the other night and walking around without a shirt on again. Xander, stupidly, allowed himself to fall into a false sense of security.

And then one Saturday night Xander was interrupted during his pathetic attempt at ignoring the fact that he had no social life when Spike literally slammed through the front door, throwing it shut behind him hard enough to cause the walls to rattle. Spike didn’t exactly look angry. No, he just looked really, really drunk. Xander didn’t want to think about what that plus vampire strength had done to his door hinges.

Xander had experience with drunken people, but that didn’t seem to stop him from doing the stupid thing and walking over to Spike to see if he was okay. He’d seen his mother end up in the path of violent anger enough times to know not to step right in the path of someone drunk beyond belief. So, carefully, he stood off to the side but close enough for Spike to notice he was there. He chuckled weakly, “What did the door ever do to you?”

Spike turned and glared at him, eyes showing a faint hint of yellow that did more to terrify Xander than the growl emitting from Spike’s chest. “You’re a bloody pest, did ya know that?”

“So I’ve been told once or twice,” Xander offered.

“You never,” Spike took a step forward, “fucking,” hard hands suddenly shoved Xander backward until he hit the wall, “go away!”

Xander winced when his back impacted with the plaster, but fought to not reach up and rub at his chest where Spike had pushed him. He was definitely going to end up with bruises there tomorrow. It was testament to how drunk Spike was when the vampire didn’t do more than twitch when the chip reacted to the pain he had caused. He managed not to deflate when Spike stepped closer to him, close enough to touch and smell the liquor on his breath. “I live here, Spike. Where am I supposed to go?”

Spike growled and took another step toward him. “And you never shut up. Wish I could shut you up once and for all.”

He swallowed, unsure of what to say to that.

“You act so strong, but you’re not,” Spike told him, glaring. Xander didn’t know where Spike was going with this and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know, but he remained quiet all the same. “You were scared, weren’t you?”

“I—” Xander frowned in confusion. “I’m usually scared about something. I hang out with Buffy, remember?”

“I’m not used to people being scared for me,” Spike said.

“Spike—”

“Shut up!” Spike snapped, reaching out and grabbing the front of Xander’s shirt. Spike pinned him to the wall, invading his space in a way that set Xander on edge. The part that terrified him the most, though, was the fact that he kind of liked it. Spike stared at him, nostrils flaring. It took Xander a moment to realize that Spike was actually scenting him and he quickly hoped he had put on deodorant that morning. After a moment, Spike seemed to collapse into himself, result in his body slumping forward and practically pressing against Xander’s. “I’m not supposed to care.”

Xander drew in a slow breath and asked, “Care about what?”

“You,” Spike whispered, not looking up.

He gazed down at Spike’s bleached head and chewed his lower lip in confusion. “That’s bad, huh? Caring about me?”

“I cared enough to protect you, obviously,” Spike said, though it was slightly muffled from where Spike’s face was almost flush against Xander’s chest. “I…shouldn’t still care, damn it. I shouldn’t still care about you. You shouldn’t…you weren’t supposed to be nice to me afterward.”

“You expected me not to be thankful?” Xander asked, unbelieving. Sure, he and Spike had never really gotten along, but he didn’t think that he was so much of an asshole to the vampire that Spike would have thought he could be so cruel.

“No,” Spike snapped, lifting his head. “I just didn’t think it would bloody well last this long, you moron!”

“Oh,” he said. “I’m not…I mean…Spike.”

For a brief second, Spike smirked in response to his inability to talk. Then the vampire frowned. “I think the booze is wearing off.”

“You’ve probably had enough for one night, anyway,” Xander told him, softly.

“Yeah.”

They looked at each other. Xander leaned back against the wall, Spike’s fists still curled around his shirt, and waited. He was normally the fidgeting type, but he found that for Spike he had the ability to wait. Maybe it was the fact that Spike was even more ADD than he was.

“Sorry,” Spike mumbled.

“For what?” he asked.

“This.” Seconds later, Spike’s mouth was pressed against his. He tasted like liquor, which wasn’t the best taste in the world, but Xander’s mind wasn’t really focused on that. No, he was thinking about the fact that Spike was kissing him. He must have stiffened or let out some kind of noise, because Spike suddenly pulled away with wide eyes.

Without a word, Spike rushed to the spare bedroom that had essentially become his, leaving Xander to stare after him.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander couldn’t sleep. That wasn’t much of a shock, considering the evening’s activities. At around five in the morning he gave up all pretenses and wandered into the kitchen to make some coffee. The stuff tasted nasty, but he needed to be more of a zombie if he was going to make it through the day. He sat at the kitchen table, coffee mug placed before him, and stared off into space until a noise in the living room caught his attention.

The sliding glass door opened and closed with a swoosh and click, followed by nearly soundless footsteps. Xander leaned forward enough to see Spike’s dark shadow move past the sofa and towards the bedrooms. The shadow paused, head tilting. Spike’s body seemed to settle into stone, unmoving and lifeless, before the vampire turned on his heel and made for the kitchen.

Xander wasn’t sure how he managed to stay sitting as Spike approached. He focused on gulping down his coffee, ignoring the fact that it had turned cold, as Spike came to a stop in the doorway. “It’s not like you to be up this early.”

“I could say the same for you,” Xander replied. “Shouldn’t you be dropping off into oblivion around now?”

“It’s winter,” Spike said. Xander raised an eyebrow in question. “Idiot. I’ve got a couple of hours before the sun comes up.”

“Oh, right.”

“Bloody hell, how is it I like you again?” Spike demanded, stepping into the light of the room. He continued talking, but Xander had stopped listening. Spike was barefoot. The vampire had lived with him for weeks now, but Xander could honestly say that he had never seen Spike walk around without his boots on. It made him look oddly vulnerable. “You’re not even listening to me, are you?”

“I—what?” Xander stammered, before catching the amused curve to Spike’s mouth. Xander felt something flutter in his chest, which, really, he had always thought was something a person only heard about in romance novels. Gulping, he lurched to his feet and started inching his way around Spike and toward the door. “I should go take a shower. I have to go to work in, oh, three hours and…I should be clean! Yes, clean.”

A strong hand grabbed his arm. Xander found himself propelled backward until he impacted with the wall. Spike loomed over him, eyes narrowed thoughtfully as he closed in. Xander shivered and hunched his shoulders down, trying to look smaller.

“There’s no need to be afraid,” Spike literally purred, “but don’t let me stop you if you want to be.”

“I’m not scared,” Xander protested breathlessly. And he wasn’t scared. He was just really turned on and it was freaking him out. Wasn’t Spike supposed to be avoiding him? Xander almost missed Spike being depressed, because at least then Spike wasn’t trying to torture him all the time.

Spike's fingers trailed down his arms until they could wrap around his wrists. Spike easily lifted them and pushed them back, pressing his arms against the wall at his sides. Despite the fact that Spike was clearly shorter than him, at that moment he appeared to be taller and larger. Xander drew in a sharp breath and instinctively looked down, avoiding Spike's gaze. Of course, the problem with dropping his gaze was the fact that his eyes once again landed on Spike's bare feet.

It felt like a bizarre version of a showdown, only with less gun toting violence and more body tingle inducing staring.

“Umm,” Xander finally said, “Maybe you should let me go.”

“No,” Spike replied, a thoughtful look on his face. “I don't think I will.”

“Are we going to do this again?” Xander demanded, struggling for a moment in Spike's grip. “Didn't we do this the other night? It ended in kissing. I don't think you want to repeat that.”

“You're so sure of that, huh?” Spike replied, leaning his head closer. Xander sucked in a sharp breath in response to Spike's proximity. Spike's mouth twitched, curving briefly into a smirk.

“You like this,” Xander blurted out. “You like this weird dominant game you're playing.”

Spike blinked and shrugged. “Shouldn't be that much of a shock, whelp.”

“I bet it's making you feel all sorts of powerful, huh?” Xander demanded. “You're trying to win your manhood back!” A sinking sensation rushed through him and he nearly passed out from the feeling. He knew what he had just said was probably the stupidest thing he'd ever done. He didn't need the suddenly blank look on Spike's face to tell him. “Shit, Spike--”

A low growl cut him off and Spike's hands tightened around his wrists. Before the strength of Spike's hold could cause pain, Spike dragged him forward and shoved him out of the kitchen. Xander hit the back of the sofa and gasped, tripping on his own feet and hitting the floor. Spike was on him in a second, easily pinning him face first against the floor. Fear rushed through Xander's veins and he bucked back against Spike's heavy weight, but nothing could dislodge him.

Spike's hands pressed firmly against his back, holding him down as he leaned forward. “I could show you what it's like, Harris. You've been begging me to, haven't you? I could take you right here and there is nothing you could do to stop me.”

“Maybe,” Xander whispered, clenching his eyes closed. “But there are two things that could get in your way.”

Spike's mouth brushed against his earlobe, “And what's that?”

“Do you think you could really live with yourself if you did that?” Xander asked. He paused, before adding quickly, “And I doubt your chip would sit back and let you hurt me like that.”

“I could make you enjoy it,” Spike replied, before sitting back, “but you're right.”

And then Spike's weight was off of him. Xander immediately rolled over, looking up just in time to see Spike disappear out the door, a bang echoing behind him.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander had managed to avoid speaking with Spike for a few days, but when he stepped into his apartment to find Spike passed out drunk for the fourth time he decided it was time to actually sit down and have a little talk. He knew enough about vampire physiology to know that it took a hell of a lot of liquor to send Spike into a near coma. Staring down at Spike's unconscious form he had no idea as to how to wake him up.

Biting his lip he lowered himself to one knee to get a closer look at Spike's face. In sleep, Spike looked softer. The cheekbones that normally looked like they could cut glass seemed less sharp and more like gentle curves. The sight fascinated Xander for a reason he couldn't quite bring himself to come to terms with. He leaned closer as Spike's eyelashes fluttered, watching the dark lashes hit porcelain white skin.

A soft sound emitted from Spike throat and the vampire's body jerked. Xander pulled back and drew in a slow breath, closing his eyes in an attempt to get a hold of himself. “Shit, Xander, stop this.”

“Talking to yourself is always a bad sign,” Spike said softly, his eyes slowly opening. “Is there an actual reason you're staring at me?”

“I...” Xander sighed and sat down on the floor. “No, not really.”

“I think you're lying.” Spike rolled onto his side, eyes focused on Xander. He stared at Xander for a moment, unblinking. “I think you're over thinking all of this, Xander.”

“I don't know what you're--”

“You know exactly what I'm talking about. Look, what happened underground--”

“--stays underground?”

“No,” Spike snorted. “You need to let it go Xander. You're letting what happened to me effect you far too much. I went from being the bane of your existence to being your roommate to being...whatever it is that's making you watch me while I sleep. Just let it fucking go already.”

“How can you say that? How can you even begin to let something like this go as though it's no big deal?” Xander asked.

“Because it's not!” Spike snapped. “It's not the first time I've been...”

Xander felt his throat constrict and for a moment was certain that he was going to throw up. “Spike, that makes it worse.”

“You're too human for your own good,” Spike mumbled. “Xander, I wasn't always a master vampire. I became a master vampire so I could ensure that I could easily fight that kind of treatment by older vampires. What happened was more of a hit against my bloody pride than anything else.”

“It's still wrong,” Xander insisted.

“No shit,” Spike replied with an eye roll, “but it happened and thanks to the Slayer the demons that did it are dead, so I can't avenge myself. There is nothing else I can do, pet. So please stop treating me like it's made me an invalid and stop letting it eat you up inside. It's bloody annoying.”

“I'm sorry,” Xander offered. “I don't mean to say half of the crap that comes out of my mouth. It's like I have no filter when I'm around you. It doesn't help that you're being so out of character by acting nice to me. When you're not drinking, that is.”

“I do like you,” Spike admitted grudgingly. “I don't like it, but it's true. I'm nice to the people I like. I tease and torment them, yes, but it's never out of real hostility.”

“So...you like all of us,” Xander suddenly said cheerfully.

“I do not!”

“Yes you do! You like me and Willow and Giles, I can tell. Buffy is on the fence and I know you can't stand Riley, but you adore the rest of us,” Xander accused, grinning.

“I like Tara better than the lot of you put together,” Spike said, glaring. “In fact, I think I like her more than you right now.”

Xander leaned forward. “Liar.”

Spike frowned, eyes still focused on his face. Then he darted forward and kissed him hard on the mouth, a complete counter to the low pitched conversation they had been involved in. Xander grunted in shock, his mouth parting without conscious thought. Spike took full advantage, his tongue delving inside and gliding smoothly across the roof of his mouth. Shock quickly shifted to arousal and Xander pressed forward, meeting Spike's tongue with his own as his hand reached out to grip Spike's shoulder.

Spike reached out and pressed against his chest, sliding off the sofa and pushing Xander against the floor. Xander fell back, nearly hitting the coffee table in the process. A sound escaped his throat when Spike's weight settled on top of him. He reached up and grasped Spike's face, palms cupping Spike's sharp jaw. He opened his mouth wider, deepening the kiss.

He had expected Spike's mouth to be on the cool side of room temperature, but it was almost heated and was growing hotter as their kiss continued. Xander wandered just how hot he could make Spike from contact with his skin and if it would work all over. The thought brought a moan from deep within his chest and he rolled them, pressing Spike into the carpet and rolling his hips.

Spike pulled back, drawing in a sharp breath as his head dropped back and exposed his neck. Xander let his mouth trail down, along his jaw and to the curve of his Adam's apple. His tongue darted out, lapping at Spike's smooth skin. A soft sound escaped the vampire and Xander could feel his muscles rolling as his back arched.

“Oh fuck,” Xander groaned, giving into the desire to ground his hips down against Spike. Xander groaned, feeling Spike's hardness against his own. “Spike.”

“Yeah, love?” Spike purred, arching up against him again and grinning when Xander shuddered.

“You're evil,” Xander gasped out, reaching down to grab Spike's leg. He lifted it, giving him more space to fit his hips between Spike's thighs. “So very evil and sexy.”

“Yeah I am,” Spike breathed out, hooking his leg over Xander's hip.

“This is okay, right?” Xander asked, nibbling at Spike's earlobe. “Please tell me this is okay because I really, really want you right now.”

Spike growled and rolled them again. He grabbed Xander's wrists and pinned them to the floor, bringing their faces close together. “Xander, stop trying to hold me with the bloody kiddy gloves.”

Xander squirmed. “You really like pinning me like this, don't you?”

A sly grin appeared on Spike's face. Spike leaned closer and kissed him, tongue darting out to slide across Xander's lower lip. “Maybe I do. Squirm harder for me, Harris.”

“Freak,” Xander gasped out. He spread his legs and thrust his hips upward, pleasure sparking up his spine when Spike's hands tightened to a near painful hold. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Spike, come on, please?”

“Please what?” Spike asked, biting lightly at Xander's lip. “Beg me for it, Xander.”

“I'm not really sure I know what I'm begging for here,” Xander managed to say as he swallowed back another moan. “I've never done anything like this before.”

Spike released his wrists and slid strong hands down his arms, past his shoulders and sides, in order to slide underneath his t-shirt. Xander let his head fall back and closed his eyes as Spike caressed the soft flesh of his stomach. Clever fingers scrambled for his jeans, quickly unbuttoning them. Xander blinked up at Spike, catching blue eyes as Spike slowly lowered his zipper. The tips of Spike's fingers slipped underneath his waistband just as Spike dropped a soft kiss on his lips. “There's a first time for everything.”

Xander frantically nodded, unable to give a vocal agreement to whatever it was they were about to do. He couldn't bring himself to actively think of the act. The idea of doing anything of that nature with Spike of all people left him feeling a strange mix of nausea and excitement. Xander, however, was the type to regret things in the morning instead of while he was doing it. That was his only excuse for reaching out and pulling at Spike's shirt until the vampire pulled back far enough to take it off.

Xander stared at the pale expanse of chest, heart catching in his throat as a rush of desire went through him. It hit him hard and fast and before his could think he was shooting forward and kissing Spike hard on the mouth, shoving his tongue into the warm cavern and tasting the mix of flavors that lived there. Xander groaned low in his throat, pleased to hear an echoing sound from Spike, and pressed his palms flat against Spike's chest.

He ran his hands up and down Spike's chest, taking care to feel every dip and curve of muscle. Spike pushed forward, encouraging him to touch more. He felt Spike's hands grabbing at his shirt and before he could move there was a ripping sound filling the air. His shirt slid off his shoulders, now in tatters, and Xander couldn't bring himself to care. Instead he focused on wrapping his arms around Spike's torso and bringing their chests together.

Spike's body had felt warm from their contact, but when met with Xander's own heat the vampire's skin was like a cold press weighing against him. Xander let out a sound of shock at the sensation, the gasp swallowed by yet another deep kiss.

“Want you,” Spike growled, pushing Xander back against the carpet and reaching once more for his jeans.

Finally a moment of fear crept its way into Xander as he felt hands tugging at his pants. His body tensed and, in response, he saw Spike still. Xander pulled in a slow breath to calm himself. “Sorry.”

Spike leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his mouth. “I'm not doing this just for myself, Xander. You've got to want it, too.”

“No, I know that,” Xander quickly said. “I do want this. I'm just scared because I didn't think I could want it, you know? Never with you. Despite being an evil blood-sucking demon, you're still kind of out of my league.”

Spike stared at him a moment, before closing his eyes briefly. “And here I was thinking you thought I was bloody broken or something.”

“No, just bruised,” Xander whispered.

“Come on, get up,” Spike suddenly said as he stood. “Let's go to the bedroom. I don't know what we were thinking trying this on the floor when there's a bed one door over. Damn stupid, the both of us.”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander propped his head up on one arm and looked down at Spike's sleeping face. He had expected Spike to immediately try to get into his pants when they got into the bedroom, but instead the vampire had proceeded to kiss him gently and curl up against his side. The change in behavior was so strange that Xander couldn't sleep.

Instead he stayed there and stared, chewing on his lip thoughtfully and trying to come up with some kind of excuse to leave. Not because he didn't want to be there, but because the fear he had felt earlier had returned. Only this time instead of being afraid of intimacy, he was afraid of his own emotions.

Spike had been hurt beyond anything Xander could ever endure, but Xander understood emotional pain better than most. Spike, despite all of his talk, would probably never survive being raped again mentally. Xander didn't think he could personally survive feeling used by yet another person who was supposed to love him. In the end, they were both bruised and hurt.

The thoughts filled his brain and made him feel claustrophobic, but he didn't move. He was enjoying the weight of Spike's arm around his waist too much to dislodge it.


~*~*~*~*~


“What would you do if you wanted something, but knew that everyone around you would probably dislike it?” Xander asked, glancing at Tara out of the corner of his eye. Normally this would be a topic for Willow, but he knew his best friend enough to know that she would freak out over him liking Spike if it became an actuality. Tara was safe territory.

“I suppose it would depend on how much the object of my desire meant to me,” Tara offered. She was silent a moment, watching him with calm eyes. “Is this about Spike?”

“Shit, you know?”

“It's not obvious,” she replied with a chuckle, “but he is still living in your apartment. That has to mean something, Xander.”

“It's not just that anymore,” he said. “He's, uh, sleeping in my bed, too. For the past eight days.”

“Oh.” Tara blinked, then blushed. “Does that mean...?”

“No!” Xander blurted out. “I mean, we've done...stuff, but not that. I don't even know if I want to. Okay, so that's a lie. I totally want to do that with him, but should I really want that? Buffy will kill me, or him...most likely him and Willow will give me the worried face. I can't handle the worried face.”

“I think you'd be surprised with Willow,” Tara said with a slight smile. “She commented on the two of you and didn't seem that upset about it.”

“No, that just means now she'll give me the 'upset I didn't tell her sooner' face. That's almost as bad.” Xander sighed and rubbed at his face. “I don't know what I'm doing anymore, Tara. I feel like I'm not myself. I used to be the biggest supporter of vampire execution and now I'm curling up in bed with one every night.”

“Sometimes you just have to let change happen,” she told him. “Just trust your instincts, Xander. They won't let you stray off your course. And it's okay to like Spike. It's okay to even love him.”

Xander stared at her for a moment, before feeling something in his chest relax. He let out a slow breath and gave her a real smile. “Thanks, Tara.”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander stepped into the apartment, expecting it to be empty. Instead he found Spike hovering by the door, a worried look etched into the vampire's face. Xander frowned at him and quickly made his way to the kitchen to stuff the blood he had bought into the fridge. Then he turned to look at Spike expectantly. “What's wrong?”

“You're late,” Spike said, his worry already turning into a scowl. “It's nothing, you were just...late.”

“Yeah, I went to pick you up some blood,” he replied. “Are you okay?”

Spike shook his head and walked out of the kitchen. “Fine.”

He followed the vampire into the living room, watching Spike's tense shoulders. “Okay, I'm confused.”

Spike dropped onto the sofa and glanced up at him with a blank expression. After a moment Spike shrugged. “It's nothing. I'm being a bloody moron, alright? Let's just leave it at that.”

“You were worried about me,” Xander surmised, sitting next to him. “That's...kind of sweet.”

“Shut up.”

He chuckled and reached out, setting his hand on Spike's thigh. In response Spike leaned closer, his head nearly resting on Xander's shoulder. “I like you, too, Spike.”

“You let me stick my tongue down your throat, Harris, I figured you did,” Spike snorted.

Xander darted forward and kissed him, briefly, and wondered if he was going to regret this decision in the future. “Spike, I want you to stay. I mean, uh, stay forever. Or as long as you think you want to. What I'm trying to say is that I think that I want to try this thing that's between us...if you want, I might be reading too far into things, but I really do think that maybe--”

“Stop babbling, Xander, I understood the first time,” Spike said with an eye roll. “I suppose I could stay, but only if you give me my own space in the closet.”

“Oh, yes, for your two shirts,” Xander replied with his own eye roll. He smiled over at Spike, watching the last of the tension drain from the vampire's body. He knew that the calm wouldn't last and that something else would pop up to either stress them out or try to kill them. He had a feeling it would be worth all the effort, though, and not just because Spike made a hot boyfriend.




The End



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