Spike waited for Xander to come home. They had settled on a division of responsibilities they could both live with. Spike cleaned and cooked, Xander did laundry and shopping. They both picked up after themselves. Spike wasn't too fond of cleaning, but he wasn't about to live in squalor. Xander hated doing laundry but the fact was, Spike couldn't get the hang of it to save his unlife. Neither of them wanted their things shrunk or faded. So they each did one thing they hated and one they liked. Xander loved grocery shopping, Spike was a surprisingly good gourmet cook.
So Spike waited for Xander, not the other way around, because Xander worked during the day and Spike worked at night. Spike was an enforcer now. He kept Cleveland quiet. You broke the rules, you dealt with Spike. Simple, easy. Spike liked his job.
It also kept them from fighting with each other. Xander came home at six p.m. Monday through Friday. Spike went to work at nine p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. They had time together and time apart. It worked out well. But it did lead to some problems.
Spike was sure Xander was hiding something from him. But what it was he couldn't say; it was just a feeling. Xander fiddled with his patch at the oddest times. Spike knew a tell when he saw it. He just wasn't sure what the tell was for.
Xander opened the door to their apartment and called to Spike. He liked his job with Rosenberg, Harris, and Giles. He'd always thought he'd be a laborer all his life so how he'd ended up a lawyer was beyond him, but he liked it. When Spike left at nine, he could do his research and case reading in peace. Not that Spike wouldn't keep quiet if needed.
"In here, pet. Ran you a nice bath. Hop in and I'll give you a chance to soak. Then I'll be in." Spike took Xander's things and hung up his jacket, then put his briefcase in the office. How to domesticate a vampire? Have him fall in love.
Xander settled into the tub and fiddled with his patch. His socket ached and he wanted to remove the patch but then Spike would see his secret. A secret he protected carefully.
The water was just hot enough. Xander relaxed and started to doze off. He didn't bother stirring when Spike eased into the tub beside him. They weren't crowded, the tub was a mini-jacuzi built to hold two comfortably. He had his seat, Spike had the other. Seated head to tail they faced each other, which allowed for some very hot kissage. Xander hummed happily.
Spike watched as Xander sweated, the tub hot enough to do that. They both liked it hot, but it made Xander sweat. Xander picked up a wash cloth and wiped the sweat off. He dislodged his patch slightly and hurriedly readjusted it.
Spike blinked. What was that about?
Xander settled the patch back in its place then tightened the strap holding it on.
Spike settled into kissing Xander into compliance. If he did things just right, Xander would be so limp that he'd do what Spike asked before he thought about it. And Spike was determined to see what Xander was protecting so fiercely.
"Beer? I'll get you one too, if you want." Spike heaved himself out of the tub and headed for the kitchen at a leisurely saunter. Xander eyed his swaying hips in a daze. "Xander . . . beer?"
Xander hauled his eye from Spike's backside and his tongue back in his mouth. "Beer . . . yeah . . . beer good. Fine, thanks."
Spike got out a pair of bottles and returned to the tub. Xander took a gulp of his beer and wondered what Spike was up to. The only time they drank in the hot tub was when Spike was up to something.
Spike watched as Xander figured out that he was up to something. The beer had been a dead give away, now that he thought of it. He always was good at cocking up a plan. Even a simple one. He was way too impatient. So he just bit the bullet and asked.
"Pet, you're hiding something from me and I want to know what it is. We agreed . . . no secrets, right? So. Tell."
Xander fiddled with his patch. He didn't want to do this. He'd lose Spike. He was sure of that. His beautiful, perfect Spike. All he had to do was tell and Spike was gone. He'd know. Know that Xander wasn't beautiful, or perfect, or even whole.
He knew that Spike knew; after all, no one wore a patch over a perfectly good eye, did they? So he made sure that Spike never saw his imperfection.
Spike wondered what the hell was so important about keeping that patch just so. So important that Xander was constantly fidgeting with it. Then, with sudden pain, he realized.
Xander was always telling him how beautiful and perfect he was. Spike knew that he wasn't beautiful or perfect, but that didn't make any difference; all that mattered was that Xander believed it was so. He also believed that his small imperfection was much greater than it was.
Spike touched Xander's patch. Xander flinched away.
"Stop it, pet. Want to see."
Xander put one hand over his patch protectively, fending Spike off with the other. "No. Leave it."
Spike caught Xander's hand in one of his, then he took the other hand off the patch. "Let me see," Spike wheedled softly. "Come. Let me see. It can't be all that bad. It's been healed for years."
Xander shook his head, an expression of horror on his face. "No. It healed . . . wrong. It looks . . . ugly." Xander started shaking.
Spike gently gathered Xander's hands in one of his and held them, careful not to bruise him. "Can't be ugly, it's part of you. You're handsome."
Xander shuddered. "Not either. It's all sunk in. It . . . I . . . please."
Spike gently pulled the patch off, even though Xander resisted by turning his head away. Spike took Xander by the chin and turned his face back. The socket was covered by the eyelid, which had sealed shut. All there was to see was a flat expanse of skin. It wasn't ugly at all. Spike lightly kissed the spot. Xander flinched at the touch of Spike's lips and whimpered softly.
Spike rubbed Xander's back gently. "Hush, pet. Stop that."
Xander hid his face in the crook of Spike's neck.
"How can you bear it? It's so ugly. I'll just stay here while you pack."
Spike cocked his head, puzzled. "Pack? We goin' somewhere?"
"You are, aren't you? Now that you see it. I knew you'd leave when you realized how . . . damaged I am."
Spike snorted. "Damaged? Pet, you look like a sexy pirate with the patch. Without it you just look . . . I dunno . . . sad?"
Xander raised his head and gave Spike a hope filled look. "You're not leaving me? You're staying? Really?"
Spike shrugged. "Sure, I'm stayin'. Can't go. You got somethin' of mine and I don't think you're givin' it back any time soon." Xander gave him a puzzled look. "At least I hope not."
"What? If you want it back, I'll give it to you. But I don't remember taking anything of yours."
Spike smirked at Xander. "Didn't take my heart, I gave it free an' clear. Don't want it back. Now, come ere, you stupid git."
Spike gathered Xander into his arms and cuddled him as Xander slowly realized that in Spike's eyes he really was perfect.
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