Pairing: Spike/Xander
Rating: NC-17
Feedback: Yes, please.
Concrit: in comments
Disclaimer: No money, no malice
Warnings/Squicks: futurefic, dark, ugly in spots
Summary: Anger's good. Anger keeps you warm.
Notes: Posted here because I adore [info]darkhavens

Spander porn originally written for [info]luvsphoenix (like, over a year ago) as anonymous comment fic. Warning - it's kinda dark and mean.

Anything of Nothing

Yin Again

1. Hate

The compact, muscular blond guys are the easiest to hate. He can hate them the most, hate them the best. Hate their pink lips and white teeth and blue eyes. Even when their eyes are green or brown, they’re blue. The hair may be honey or caramel, or sandy or ash, but it’s always platinum to him. It’s always short and ruthlessly slicked back, and the hands are always long-fingered and tipped with black, stained with nicotine. The accent is always British and the tone is always low and mocking. When he hates them, he hates them a lot.

He lets them fuck him so he can hate. He never lets them prep him well, so the searing pain is there, hot and sick and sweet in his guts. Bringing the hate. Sometimes they protest, but he just pushes back, and no guy is going to pull away from hot and tight and rough and so. fucking. eager. Open. Offered. He puts his face in the pillow, fists his hands in the sheets and mutters the same things, over and over. The same name, the same words. The words he couldn’t say - couldn’t even think in the presence of the real thing. The words that fucked him up and made him into this seething ball of hate.

He lets them have their way, but if they dare to try soft and sweet on him he’ll reach out, grab a wrist. He’ll dig his fingers in as hard as he can, down to the bone and tell them what to do. Fuck me, you bastard. Like he did. Hurt me. Make me hate. Let me hate. Turn me around and tear me apart. Pull me away from my friends and show me the dark places inside myself. Teach me to love this pain, this heat, this ache. Rip me to shreds and nail me back together. Pull me close and push me away and feed the darkness inside. Show me what I am, what I can be.

When they’re done, he’s usually done, too, striping the motel sheets and pressing his burning face into the pillow. He doesn’t do goodbyes, just turns his face away and tells them to fuck off. They usually go quickly; confused, angry. He doesn’t care. Once they’re gone he gets up and locks the door, then cleans himself up ungently, getting rid of sweat and spit and lube and sometimes blood. The rough washcloth on his raw skin makes him wince. It sometimes makes him start to get hard again.

He never checks out at the desk, simply leaves the keycard on the dresser and grabs his coat. He walks to his car and drives home, still hating but calmer, the omnipresent tightness in his chest eased a little. The garage is dark and cool, and he wonders if one day he’ll just leave the engine running and lie down on the seat, content with the idea of waking up dead. It’s not to be tonight, though. He fishes the slim gold band out of his pocket and puts it on before letting himself out of the car and into the kitchen.

“Anya, honey – I’m home.”

2. Indifference

“I’m in here.”

She’s at her desk, working away in front of her computer. Windows for E*Trade, CNNfn, and chat are open, and he can see that she’s hooked into her firm’s network, checking reports, sending email, watching the ticker scrolling at the bottom of the screen – the markets are open somewhere. They always are.

He kisses her on top of the head as he passes. “Good day?”

“Average,” she replies. “You?”

“Long. Annoying. The usual.”

He goes upstairs and into the cedar-lined walk-in closet. His suit goes on a hangar and is filed away on the bar – one more wearing before dry cleaning. The tie goes on the rack, the shoes on their trees, the belt on a hook. He crams his boxers into the wicker hamper and pulls on pajama bottoms. He checks his back in the full-length mirror. No marks, so no shirt. In the bathroom, he washes his face with whatever’s on the sink – she always makes sure he has the right stuff for his skin type or star sign or whatever the fuck. He brushes his teeth, staring sightlessly into the mirror. Spit. Rinse.

Two drops in the left eye, lubricating the prosthesis that is an almost perfect match for his real eye. He resists the urge to rub it – the same urge he resists a thousand times a day. He leans in to the mirror. A couple of grey hairs show at his temples, but his face is still young, mostly unlined. His skin looks pasty – he could get outside more. He checks out his chest and his flat abdomen – still hard, still able to get him what he needs.

Downstairs, she hasn’t moved. He pads to the bar and pours three fingers of scotch over a single ice cube and rattles it. “You want one?” he calls.

“Sure, thanks.” Her voice is sharp, but no more sharp than usual. He pours her an identical drink, slugs his own down, grimacing at the flare of heat and the lingering mint of toothpaste, and then refills it. She takes her glass with an absent smile, her eyes never leaving the screen. He eases himself into the leather wing chair, wincing at the pain in his ass. If he sits just right, he can still feel Sp… the guy from tonight there – big and fast and achingly hard.

Looking at Anya, he’s aware that he’s a failure. Aware of what he’s done to her – what he’s taken from her. He’d been so sure – after the battle under the school he’d been so sure that marrying her was the right thing. After Andrew had died saving her and Spike had died saving them all, it seemed appropriate in a way that so few things in his life ever had. It seemed true and good and clean and so very happy in a world of sadness. He could still remember the joy on their faces – the faces of his girls. Anya and Buffy and Dawn and Willow and even Faith, clustered around him in a silly chapel in Vegas. He’d still been wearing the patch then, and Anya had still been recovering from her injuries, but they had been so happy, his girls.

Him? He’d been numb. Still was. He drains the glass and shoves himself to his feet. “Going to bed. You coming?”

“Later,” she says. Another kiss to her carefully colored and tousled hair and he’s off, taking the glass to the sink and himself up the stairs. The bed’s big – so big that they don’t have to touch if they don’t want to. It’s like sleeping alone and he hates it.

3. Loneliness

Lying in bed, he lets himself remember. He needs a memory that will hurt his heart, one that will keep the hatred strong; feed that burning ember in his chest. He flips through and finds it. A night on patrol, a night after he’d left Anya at the altar, a regular night. The edges of the memory are worn from rough, frequent handling.

“Can’t stay away, can you, pet?” Spike’s voice is mocking him. His cigarette smoke, his posture, his expression, hell, his hair they’re all mocking Xander. And he deserves it. He says over and over that it’s done, he’s not coming back, it has to end. He’s a liar. He’s weak. He keeps coming back. Standing in the graveyard, just past Lena Andrews 1945 – 1988, cheekbones like the edge of a dagger in the moonlight is Xander’s poison, Xander’s drug.

Xander doesn’t answer. He doesn’t have to. The cigarette is flicked away and Spike strides closer, stupid mouth moving, stupid words coming out.

“Could smell you all night, hard for me, your cock dripping into your stupid boxer shorts every time you looked at me. You can’t hide it, you know.” He’s close now, close enough to brush and idle hand over the bulge, making Xander quake. “I see everything you do. I know what you want, even while you hide behind the Slayer’s skirts and your righteous indignation. You see my hands move, you see me touch anything and you remember what it feels like to have my hands on you. You know what those fingers feel like, pressed up in you, twisting and turning.” He’s even closer, raising a hand to trace the collar of Xander’s tee shirt. “You know how it feels when I wrap my hand around your throat at just the right second, cutting off the air while you come. You know how it feels to be on your righteous little knees for me, opening your mouth, your ass for me. You keep saying it’s done, that you don’t need it, but you’re a fucking liar, aren’t you?”

Then the memory blurs and folds and all Xander knows is after that they were in Spike’s crypt and he did every single thing he said he would and then some. They’d been at it so long now that the chip only protested blatant, deliberate pain and they’d found that, with Xander on his knees on the sarcophagus, Spike standing behind him twisting his fingers, too many fingers and then, impossibly, his whole hand inside, making them both scream and bleed and come for what felt like forever.

Spike had blacked out - whether from the chip pain or the orgasm Xander didn’t know. Didn’t care. As he’d fallen to the floor his hand pulled out of Xander’s body, renewing his screams. As soon as he was able he’d stepped over the crumpled form on the floor, cleaned himself roughly with Spike’s shirt, dressed and left. It had taken him two weeks to heal, two weeks of no patrol – he faked a sprained ankle that would cover the limp and he spent the two weeks relegated to research.

His first night back on patrol, he went to Spike’s crypt.

The bedroom door opens and Anya tiptoes in. Xander listens to her nightly routine of washing and moisturizing, brushing and flossing. She slips into the bed and turns her back to him, three feet and a world away.

They rarely make love anymore. In the first years after their marriage they were at it all the time – the surprise and joy of survival and the American dream making them wild for one another. They had left the gang, left the group, gone out into the big world and made their way. Anya’s career as a stockbroker took off and Xander found that construction management worked for a guy with one eye. They got the house, the cars, the pricey china, the perfectly manicured lawn and spotless housekeeping done by others.

The constant rutting never took. Anya wanted a baby, and despite best efforts, she never quickened. Doctors and testing followed, until they found out about D’Hoffryn’s final price. The demon had been displeased to be summoned, glaring through the green smoke and gleefully savage as he informed Anya that she would never have the longed-for child before disappearing in a burned-out circle on their Brazilian Rosewood floor.

After that, things had changed. All of Anya’s softness had turned hard, and she made work her priority. Three years later she was a Vice President, and Xander, along for the ride, was a division manager for a major engineering firm. They had it all and they had nothing. Sex twice in a month was a rarity, and neither complained. He assumed that she found her release elsewhere but never asked, and the distance between them widened.

He hears the soft breathing that means she’s moved into sleep and he inches closer, just to feel a little of her heat against his back. In her sleep, she rolls toward him and reaches out and places her palm on his shoulder. It nearly makes him cry. The streetlight is too bright and the pillows are too soft and sleep is much too far away.

4. Annoyance

He hates running. Hates the sound his feet make as the stupidly expensive shoes hit the padded deck of the treadmill, hates the sweat that defies gravity to rise up from his scalp, following each hair to some carefully defined apex before running down his face. His legs hurt, his lungs hurt, his eyes sting from the sweat, but he keeps going, keeps running and refuses to wear a sweatband or wipe his eyes. All the burns are good, in a bad way. The gym is full. There are young hardbodies and heart patients, gym rats and perky girls, groaners and gigglers and everything in between.

He’s spent his life running, so it seems as good a way as any to keep fit. Running from his father, running from vamps, running full-tilt away from Sunnydale – they’re all the same. Feet pounding, breath burning. He never listens to music, only the thudding of his own feet and heart. Depending on the day, the rhythm speaks different words to him. Some days it’s “loser” over and over; other days it’s “hypocrite” or “bastard.” Or, a personal favorite, one that can frequently make him top ten miles and nearly break himself – “vampire.” That particular song leaves him puffing like a bellows and, often as not, vomiting in the locker room.

The running makes him lean and hard. It melts away any bits of extra flesh and keeps him slim. Anya compliments him on the fit of his expensive suits; his coworkers on his endurance and dedication. He gets invited to run in charity 10Ks, but he always turns them down. He knows that if he had to, he could run away from anything that wanted to give chase. But Xander’s not about running away anymore, he’s about running toward.

5. Anticipation

He feels it coming. It happens every now and again. Work, life, marriage – everything – gets to be too much and he needs more. More than the anonymous fuck; more fuel for the fire. It’s coming, building. He snaps at his secretary, makes cutting remarks to his subordinates, barely veiled sarcastic ones to his boss. He ignores Anya, and she seems happy for it. He drinks too much. He’s having to reach too far for the hate, and that won’t do – he needs it close, needs the fire, needs the pain.

Anya’s out of town, a trip that Xander encouraged. It’s casual Friday, so his black jeans and black tee shirt aren’t out of place at the office. He’s got a blue chambray shirt over them, unbuttoned, and sneakers on his feet. The workday is interminable – meetings and contracts and schedules and small talk that grate across Xander’s stretched nerves. By 4:30 everyone’s gone, trying to beat traffic like the thousands of other commuters. By 5:00 Xander’s office door is locked and he’s stretched out on his sofa, trying to calm his racing heart. His rest is fitful, but he manages to sleep until nearly 8:00.

The sneakers come off, replaced with Doc Martens, the overshirt discarded. His gym bag yields a small mirror and he peers into it as he spikes his hair up with a little gel. The blue shirt becomes a towel for the excess. He digs in the bag for a kohl pencil and lines his eyes, smudging it to make him look dangerous and slightly dissolute. He packs everything away and heads out to the car. The parking lot is empty.

Inside the trunk is a plain, sturdy white box. The gym bag goes into the trunk, and he flips the lid on the box, inhaling the crisp tang of leather, tinged with just a hint of cigarette smoke and beer and other, muskier scents, left over from the last time. The duster is supple, slick and black as death. It’s heavy, and Xander swings it by the collar in a practiced motion. It slides onto his body as if called there. It’s finely made and fits like a dream, hugging broad shoulders, tapering at the hips before flaring down to end below his knees, just skimming his boot tops. The weight is reassuring, the jacket holds him, makes him feel armored, protected.

Xander checks the pockets, makes sure everything he needs is there, before sliding into his car, the leather of the coat slipping against the leather of the seat. The glove box yields a flask, and two quick sips of whiskey settle any lingering nervousness. He flicks buttons until the CD player gives up something with a driving beat and a dangerous bass line that matches the thudding of his heart. At a red light, a pretty girl gives him the eye. For a moment he’s in high school again, unable to process the signals of a pretty girl finding him attractive. By the time he gets his cool back the light has changed and the girl is gone.

He stops at a nondescript chain hotel and checks in, using the credit card he keeps for just such activities; the bill comes to the office. The room is generic, loud bedspread, bad art; the usual. Xander removes condoms and lube from the duster pocket and puts them in the bedside drawer, right on top of the Gideon Bible. He leaves the bedside lamp on and turns out the overhead light. The club is nearby, so he can leave his car in the secured deck and walk.

He reaches the club and the flask is half-empty and he’s feeling smooth and detached. He heads to the door with a rolling gait, head up, shoulders back, fuck-you expression firmly in place. The goon at the door lets him in without a second glance. It’s early yet and the dance floor is nearly empty, so Xander finds a spot at the bar. The skinny, long-haired boy behind it gives him a nod and is quick to bring the requested Jack Daniels. They give each other a look that says, ‘thanks, but not my type’ and Xander hands over his Platinum Amex and opens a tab. He slides to a spot on the wall and waits, watching. He’s looking for something special. It’s like art – he may not know a lot about it, but he’ll know what he wants when he sees it.

After two drinks it’s time to dance, and Xander slips off the duster, trusting it to the care of his new pal behind the bar, who places it gently on a hook on the back wall and pockets the fifty Xander slips him without looking at it. The floor is vast and only moderately full – plenty of room for window shopping. Xander spots something likely and moves toward it. Slim, blond, moving effortlessly to the music. The smaller man doesn’t even jump when Xander’s hands find his hips, he simply keeps moving, leaning back to allow his shoulder blades to brush Xander’s chest, letting his head roll against a collarbone.

Xander isn’t stupid, he maneuvers the guy in front of the bar mirror and does a reflection check before he even thinks about going any further. He may go looking for trouble, but not that particular brand. The mirror shows a reflection. The guy is pretty; round-faced, with pouty, girlish lips and chin-length waves. His eyes are light – blue, green, grey. Doesn’t really matter. His hips twitch back to nestle in the curve of Xander’s own, and the scratch of denim starts things on the rise. So far, so good.

“You here alone?” Xander asks into a soft, pink ear.

“With a friend,” the guy answers in a soft tenor voice. “But he could get lost.”

“What’s your friend look like?” Xander says.

“Dark, bigger than you. Butcher than her.” He nods his head toward a lesbian who looks like she could top Xander in an arm-wrestling contest. “What are you interested in?”

Xander makes a little humming noise into the guy’s ear and follows it up with a flick of his tongue. Tastes sweat and hair gel and smoke. “Can I have you both?” he murmurs.

“I think that could be arranged,” the guy says. “I’m Greg.”

“Angel,” Xander replies, flicking his tongue down Greg’s neck in a warm little pattern, soft like a spiderweb.

Xander feels large hands cupping his hips and a face brushes his. “I’m Alan.” The voice is as scratchy as the neatly trimmed goatee brushing Xander’s neck. This guy is huge, and Xander’s sure the three of them make a pretty picture; stair steps. He surreptitiously drops a hand to Alan’s wrist and lets it slide away once he feels a pulse. Alan moves closer and Xander feels a hard cock against his ass. He closes his eyes and lets the music take him. It’s like art.

6. Oblivion

It’s as close as he gets to a moment of clarity. It’s as close as he gets to feeling real. The hotel bed is a tangle of sheets and pillows, the garish bedspread hits the floor a second before Xander’s jeans do. Alan gives him a hard shove that sends him sprawling, a second brings Greg into his arms, the slim blond giggling and squirming out of his clothes. Xander stops the noise with a hard bite to his shoulder and pinching fingers at his chest while the big man stands at the foot of the bed, watching and undressing.

The mattress dips and Xander shoves clothes away and swims toward the bed table, unspooling a strip of condoms and opening the new tube of lubricant. He has Greg’s cock in his hand in an instant, pumping hard, showing no mercy. He shakes off attempted kisses until his point is gotten, so the other two kiss over his shoulder while Xander sheaths Greg, first in latex, then in his own hot mouth. A twitch of his hips sends the proper message to Alan, and he pulls off to demand, “Fuck me” sooner that the other man thinks prudent. He only has to snarl it twice before he’s filled, stretched painfully, grunting against the flesh in his mouth, sawing his body back and forth between the two men.

He doesn’t care to look up, only squeezes his eyes shut and sucks for all he’s worth, doing everything the way he was taught. Moving his tongue just so, keeping the pressure on, opening his throat and taking it, taking it, taking it.

That’s right, pet. Take it, take me in. Yeah, harder now, little bit of teeth. Bloody hell! I’ve taught you well, boy, so well. You love it, don’t you? Take it, take it, take it.

Alan’s a polite guy, his momma raised him right, and he gives Xander the customary reach-around that he’s too far gone to deny, making Xander shake and buck and come. They hold him up between them as they finish, and the submission, the feel of being used is too much, too good, so Xander just lets it happen – over him, through him, in him until all three collapse in a heap.

Xander can’t stand the puppy-pile for long, can’t stand the touch of hot, sticky skin. He drags himself off the bed and toward the bathroom.

“Let yourselves out,” he says flatly over his shoulder, grabbing his jeans on the way.

7. Contemplation

In the bathroom, Xander runs water in the sink and cleans up. He’s sore in all the good places, a little bloody but not bad. He’s calm. The guys were good. He’d never admit it, but in his mind, they were Spike and Angel, gleaming gold in front and glowering dark behind. He doesn’t actually want Deadboy, Senior – never really did. He just likes the idea of the two of them, focused on each other, using him. If he’s a sick fuck, then he’s a sick fuck – won’t be the worst thing he’s ever called himself.

Wanting Spike, now that’s a given. Wanting, hating, needing, other things… his mind skitters away from it, too much, too close. He welcomes the hate, but he’s too fragile in his newly fucked state to take the rest of it, too open. Spike always knew, too. Always knew that Xander was twisted, always knew that there was darkness behind the goofy smile and he always wanted to dig it out, expose it, feed it. The son of a bitch could never leave well enough alone – wasn’t content with having Xander’s body. Spike wanted his mind and heart and soul along with it, and he used every weapon in his arsenal.

Xander shakes it off, not wanting to harsh the carefully constructed pseudo-serenity he’s got going for him. It’s like keeping the lights dim and not shedding the post-fuck lethargy; each is designed to keep reality at bay for just a little longer. The fantasy is seductive – soft and warm as a cherished blanket, and Xander needs the armor, the respite for just a little longer. So he washes his face and dries it on the scratchy hotel towel and pulls his jeans on before heading back into the room to gather his things and go home to his empty house.

He’s feeling good; bouncy, a little high from the romp, a little buzz left over from the drinks, a little bit invincible. Every trace of those feelings evaporates when he enters the room and finds Spike standing with his back against the closed door.

8. Disbelief

Words rise unbidden, but Xander’s got more control now; the babble won’t make it outside his head. He eyes Spike coldly, noting that his duster is not the old one – this one has a few years’ wear, but not the thirty or so of the original. He’s whipcord thin as always, and he’s moved up to black pants instead of jeans, and his shirt is white and crisp – must be an evil undead drycleaners nearby.

Xander pulls on his own shirt, still slightly damp from dancing and sits on the bed to put on socks and boots.

“What?” he asks finally, tugging the hem of a jeans leg down over the top of the Doc. Spike doesn’t answer, and Xander doesn’t care. He gets up from the bed and walks slowly to the door, stopping with their chests just brushing and stands there, breathing slowly and evenly. Spike doesn’t turn away.

“’Least you’re safe,” he finally says, voice dark and low, oddly flat. “Can smell the latex.”

Xander neither moves nor answers, but his mind is whirling. He’d known that Spike had come back from the dead, had known that he’d survived Angel’s apocalypse, had known that he was still around – Buffy and Dawn had let things slip in casual conversation. Funny, though – he’d been pretty sure that he wouldn’t see Spike again.

“Why?” Xander says, keeping his eyes trained on the vee of that starched white button-down, eye tracing the lines of stitches.

“Why what?” Spike says, and it occurs to Xander that he’s stalling.

“Why are you here? Why are you following me?” Why did you fuck me and twist me up inside and make me need it (you), want it (you), love it and then why did you stop? Xander holds his breath, holds the words in.

“Wanted to make sure you were OK.”

At that, Xander steps back and throws his arms wide. “Take a look. Do I look OK to you?” he asks. He turns his body from side to side and his lips curl into an angry twist, his eye never leaving Spike’s face.

Spike shrugs, and Xander wonders when he became such a pussy, when the Master vampire started looking like he was uncomfortable with a challenge. Xander closes in again, and his hand twists itself into Spike’s shirt.

“What do you want, Spike? You want your pound of flesh? With interest?” Xander presses him against the back of the door and Spike lets his head fall back, eyes on Xander’s face.

“I… I wanted to make sure you were OK,” Spike says, and Xander shakes him just a little, his face registering his displeasure at the repetition. The anger rises in him, fast and cold, and he turns and shoves Spike hard at the bed. He can’t get his elbows under him before Xander is there, on top of him, grinding down.

“Is this what you wanted, Spike?” he asks, teeth gritted. “Your turn at me? You can have that, you know. I’m not all that particular. I learned from the best, you see. You want to fuck? I can take it real nice, just like you showed me.” He grinds again, and his body registers that neither of them is hard. “Or is it something else?” Xander grits out, and in a single, smooth motion he’s back on his feet, a foot away from Spike’s sprawled body.

“I…” Spike struggles to a sitting position, and absently straightens coat and collar.

“You what?” Xander snaps, voice dripping venom, eye blazing. “You… fucking… what, Spike? This had better be good.” He crosses his arms over his chest and glares.

“I… wanted to apologize,” Spike says, looking down at his hands and then back up.

Xander punches him in the face.

9. Veracity

Xander is almost to his car when he’s pulled around by one elbow.

“Not finished talking to you,” Spike says, and he drops his hand off of Xander’s arm at the black look he receives.

Xander crosses his arms over his chest and leans back against the wall. “Talk, then.”

“You gonna punch me if I apologize?”

“Possibly.” It’s all Xander can do to speak calmly. He can’t believe that Spike is standing in front of him, head lowered. Can’t believe that Spike tracked him down, sought him out. Can’t believe that Spike still looks exactly the same, smells exactly the same, feels exactly the same. It’s obscene. It’s disturbing. It’s just wrong.

“Look, after the soul I…”

“You made yourself perfectly clear then, Spike. After the soul you crawled back up next to Buffy and you didn’t need to get your jollies with me anymore. I got that.” Xander would uncross his arms, but his hands are shaking so badly, and he doesn’t want to show that weakness, as if Spike were a dog that could sense fear. “Though I guess I do owe you for making sure I kept one of my eyes.”

Spike flinches, and Xander feels a surge of – something – something dark and oily and slick, churning in his guts and he wants to fan the flames. “Matter of fact, I think that’s the last time you ever touched me. Might have been the last time you looked me in the face,” he spits. Spike raises his head then, and Xander feels all the tension go out of him. Spike’s eyes are sad and shining and soulful, and Xander can see - can almost touch - the regret there.

“I’m sorry I made you hate me,” Spike says quietly.

Xander looks away, focuses on something over Spike’s shoulder. “Would have been easier,” he mutters.

“Easier than what?” Spike asks, tilting his head.

10. Understanding

Xander turns to go, turns back to his car.

“Wait,” Spike says. “Can we go somewhere? Talk some more?”

Without turning back Xander runs a hand through his hair and sighs. “Why are you here, Spike?”

From behind him Spike’s voice is low. “Been on my own for the last couple of years, trying to figure things out and I keep coming back to you. I killed hundreds of people, people in my head screaming for blood, people I did unspeakable things to.”

“Yeah, murderer, I know,” Xander says, his back still to Spike.

“Yeah, but here’s the problem,” Spike says, and Xander feels him step closer, feels a hand ghost over the leather at his shoulder. “I feel guilty about them, but I feel the worst about you.”

Xander’s head comes up then, and his shoulders tense and the flaring brightness of hate is back. “Fuck you,” he grits out.

The hand touches his shoulder fully, spins him around, and Xander finds himself face to face with something he hasn’t seen in years: a fully game-faced vampire. He pauses and really looks at Spike, really sees him. The soulful look is gone, and Spike’s unblinking golden eyes are pure demon. Xander stares hard at the ridges, the way the transformation warps the scarred brow, the way Spike’s lips pull back from his fangs, the corner of his mouth still bloody from the punch.

Xander raises a hand and softly touches the furrow between Spike’s eyes with one finger, then trails it down to wipe the streak of blood from Spike’s lip. “I think I like you better this way. This is your real face, isn’t it? The other’s just a mask.”

“Does it make a difference?” Spike’s voice is lower, harsher when he’s like this.

Xander shrugs and lets his hand drop to his side, wiping Spike’s blood onto his jeans. “Seems more honest.”

“Oh, now you want honesty?” Spike’s tone is sharper, and he rises up onto the balls of his feet a little. “I’ve got your honesty. I’m a vampire. When I didn’t have a soul I did some shitty things.” Spike shakes his head and Xander watches as the game face falls away. “I did shitty things and I enjoyed most of them. But the man was in there, too – even before the soul. I always knew what I was doing, who I was hurting – the soul just made me feel it.”

“So now you’re sorry?” Xander fights to keep his voice from rising. “Good to know. I’m sorry, too, Spike. I’m sorry I was too weak to kill you when I should have.”

Spike nods. “That’s fair. But you didn’t, and we’re both still here. What do we do with that?”

Xander feels the anger leave him in a rush, and he feels empty without it. For the first time in a long time, he feels sad and tired and vulnerable, but he can’t even muster up enough emotion to care. “Nothing,” he says, defeated. “You said your piece, offered your apology.I guess we’re done here.” He turns back to the car.

He’s got the door unlocked when he feels Spike’s hand on his shoulder. He freezes and waits.

“I didn’t know what to expect from seeing you, Xander,” he says, and Xander feels himself stiffen a little at the use of his name. Spike doesn’t use his name, calls him “Harris” or “boy” or worse. The fingers on his shoulder tighten.

“I thought you’d be happy,” Spike says. “I thought you’d have forgotten all about me.”

Xander laughs and is appalled at how close to a sob it sounds. “I didn’t forget a thing,” he says.

“Didn’t forgive a thing either.”

“No. Can’t,” Xander says quietly.

Spike squeezes his shoulder, and Xander has a sudden flash of the memory of what those unyielding hands feel like on his body. Spike’s other hand comes up, and Xander finds himself being turned around, finds himself staring into Spike’s eyes, seeing the softness there, but also the heat.

“Yeah,” Spike says softly. “Still want you, too. Don’t think I ever stopped.”

Xander closes his eyes and leans his forehead against Spike’s and takes and releases several deep breaths. “You got a car?” he asks.

“Bike,” Spike says, and Xander smiles a little without opening his eyes.

“Go get it. Follow me.” He pushes away and Spike lets him go. Xander looks into Spike’s face, searching. “I don’t want to talk about the past – that’s the way this works – the only way this works, OK? I don’t want to deal with anything, I don’t want to discuss anything, I don’t want to hear one more fucking word of apology, get me?”

Spike nods.

“So, follow,” Xander says and gets into his car without looking back.

11. Fantasy

Xander pointedly doesn’t watch his rearview mirror, does not look for Spike behind him, does not think about what will happen when they reach their destination. It works, and he surprised to find himself pulling into his own driveway so soon. He parks and gets out of the car, leaning back on the door to watch Spike dismount the bike. It’s an older model, minimalist and black, not much chrome, not a lot of accessories. It fits. Spike shrugs his shoulders to resettle his duster and gives Xander a smile that, in another lifetime, might be kind of shy.

Xander pushes off of the car then, and gestures. “Come on around back.” He won’t invite Spike into the house, that wouldn’t be fair to Anya, and he’s got no desire to open up his home to any and all vampires in the area, not even the one following him.

The path is lined with small lights that come on automatically when the sun goes down, and Xander leads the way to the back of the house. Once on the terrace, he flicks some switches and the path to the pool is illuminated. Spike follows him down that path, too. At the gate, Xander pauses and works the stubborn latch for a moment, and Spike winds up very close behind him. He has to fight the urge to lean back and feel the hard press of Spike’s chest until the latch gives and he can swing the gate open. Inside the gate he flicks more switches and the pool lights up. The area is beautifully landscaped and steam rises from the surface of the water.

“Heated?” Spike asks.

“Oh, yeah,” Xander says. He plays with the controls until the floodlights are off and the only real light comes from under the water and from the strings of large, clear bulbs in the trees. He gestures toward the small pool house. “Stereo’s in there, if you want music,” he says.

Spike wanders inside and Xander shrugs out of his duster, hanging it over the back of a large, upholstered double chaise. He sits to take off his boots and socks and then shrugs out of the rest of his clothes. Soft music starts, the oldies rock station, and Xander heads toward the recessed steps that lead into the water. By the time Spike returns, he’s swimming toward the deep end with slow, powerful strokes. At the wall, he executes a perfect turn and rides out the thrust, knifing cleanly through the water almost halfway down the length of the pool.

Three laps later he stops and stands in the low end, shaking his wet hair out of his face. Spike is still standing there, the toes of his boots just touching the coping, a look of wonder on his face.

“You coming in?” Xander asks, and watches as Spike slowly strips in the half-light. His body hasn’t changed. He’s still perfect – lean and hard and cut and so very beautiful. His erection juts out from his body and Xander’s answering one twitches when Spike turns to toss his clothes and boots toward the chairs and he sees the dip at the base of Spike’s spine and the pale curve of his ass.

Spike turns back to the pool and walks to the steps, that same look still on his face.

“What?” Xander asks, watching as Spike eases himself into the water.

“You’re like a selkie, all sleek and wet,” he says, reaching a hand out toward Xander, who stands still and lets Spike close the distance between them. Cool fingers skate over his collarbone, trailing in the drops of warm water that cling there. “Gorgeous,” Spike says.

Xander catches his hand then and brings it to his face, pressing Spike’s thumb to his cheekbone and his fingertips to the hinge of his jaw. His own hand goes to Spike’s hip, feeling the bone fit into his palm like it was made to go there, like hand and hip were a single stone, cleaved by a sculptor’s chisel.

Xander tilts his head and looks at Spike, who is staring at him in his intense way, eyes boring into his face as if he’s looking for something. It’s Xander who leans in to brush their lips together, Xander who opens his mouth and licks at Spike’s until given entrance, Xander who steps closer and brings his other hand up to clasp the back of Spike’s neck.

It’s the first time they’ve ever kissed, and it’s good.

12. Acceptance

It seems to go on forever, and the kiss is soft and sharp and sweet. Xander loses himself in it, in the touch of cool lips and the exquisite feel of Spike’s body under his hands. His skin is like the fine silks that Anya used to wear to bed, and the heat of the water and the friction of Xander’s palms warm it. Hips and obliques and the ridges of Spike’s abdomen, the solid curves of muscle that blanket his back; the skin seems almost alive under Xander’s fingertips. The hand on his jaw stays still, and the other rests lightly on his shoulder, clenching rhythmically, in time with the motion of their mouths.

Spike’s lips are full and his tongue is soft and wet, gliding under Xander’s and licking at him, tasting him. They’re both hard, erections bobbing in the water, brushing, pushing against each other as Xander moves and Spike does not. They keep some space between them, reluctant to take the final step, to be in each others’ arms.

“Touch me,” Xander says, and Spike does so with gentle strokes, tracing the lean lines of his chest and stomach and shoulders and neck.

Spike breaks the kiss and looks down, watching his fingers as they skim across Xander’s ribs. “Look at you,” he says, voice husky. “You’ve changed. Not a spare ounce on you.”

Xander doesn’t answer, just leans in and kisses Spike’s neck, bends to nip at a collarbone and trace his tongue over the skin stretched tightly there. Spike’s mouth is close to Xander’s ear, and he makes a tiny noise, somewhere between a gasp and a moan. Xander presses in for one more rough kiss and then starts walking Spike backward toward the steps, pushing him down to sit. Xander sinks to his knees on the bottom step and leans in, capturing Spike’s cock in his mouth.

“Jesus!” Spike’s hands fist in his hair and tug lightly, encouragingly. It’s been so long since Xander’s had a bare cock in his mouth, so long since he’s tasted this taste – bright and salty and a little bitter from the chlorine. He gets a hand down and draws back on Spike’s foreskin, baring the wet head to his tongue, trailing his fingers down to cup Spike’s balls under the water and roll them against one another. He opens his throat and takes Spike in all the way, feeling the slight pain of being so full, the tiny thrill that goes through him as his air supply is obstructed.

Before he can get too far into it, Spike is tugging his hair more purposefully; pulling him off. He trails his tongue up the long vein, drawing abstract swirls all the way until he’s looking at Spike, whose eyes are nearly incandescent with the reflection of the sparkling pool.

“Stand up, Xan,” Spike murmurs, and Xander climbs slowly to his feet, only to jerk up hard onto his toes like a marionette when Spike’s mouth swoops down and sucks him in.

“Oh, fuck, Spike!” Xander’s mind can’t catch up to his body. Spike’s mouth has been warmed by their kisses, and he sucks down hard with three quick bobs of his head and Xander feels the crown of his cock bump soft, fluttery skin. Spike swallows and Xander quakes. It’s too much. Like kissing, this was not something they did. Spike didn’t suck, he got sucked. Xander didn’t fuck, he got fucked. Somewhere in the part of his brain that hasn’t rushed straight to his dick, Xander recognizes this for what it is. He’s forbidden Spike to utter a word of apology, so Spike is improvising, stating his remorse without a single sound.

Xander wants to scream, wants to cry, wants to come. His mind is whirling, and for once he’s filled with something other than hate, some sort of primal joy that has his pulse racing and his heart and blood roaring and pounding. Spike’s fingers are curled loosely on his thighs, his eyes are open and his hair is gleaming in the silver moonlight. Clamping down hard on his emotions and ruthlessly suppressing his need for release, Xander gently pulls away.

“Out of the pool,” he says at Spike’s quizzical look. “Need you.”

Xander is a little stunned when Spike gently takes his hand to lead him up the steps and to the double chaise, and shocked speechless when Spike drops to his hands and knees in the center of it.

13. Apprehension

Speechlessness lasts for a long moment, as Xander simply looks at Spike. Looks at the contrast of white skin and dark upholstery; looks at the line of his back, the way his head hangs down between his arms, as if bowed in supplication or for execution. There’s tension in that whipcord frame, muscles and tendons in sharp relief, and when Xander lays his hand between Spike’s shoulder blades, he can feel the fine tremors that wrack his body.

It’s the trembling that rings the bell, and Xander is momentarily both elated and horrified, and the word “sacrifice” flits across his mind. He’s got no doubt that Spike wants him, but this posture and the fear in it make his nerves jangle and his heart constrict. Part of him wants to clasp the back of Spike’s neck in one big hand and cover him, fuck him, tear him apart with blood and pain and revenge and hate and take back everything he’d willingly given so long ago. But that part is small and is easily swept away on a wave of tenderness that shocks Xander so much more than the hate that he feels tears prick at his eye.

He flattens his hand on Spike’s back and draws it down with a firm stroke, then lifts it up and repeats the touch. It’s not sexual – it’s comforting, and Xander needs it as much as Spike does.

“No,” he says, stroking evenly down Spike’s spine. “It’s not going to be like that. Remember? This isn’t about the past – it’s about now.”

He feels Spike relax under his hand, but he makes no move to alter their positions, he just arches up slightly into the touch.

“Do you want this, Spike?” Xander asks. “Do you want me like this?”

The tremor is back for a second, and then Spike takes in a breath and lets it out, stilling. “I do, Xan. It’s just…”

Xander remains silent, keeps stroking, and Spike turns his head to the side so that he can look Xander in the face.

“Never done it this way, not… voluntarily.”

Xander gets it, probably always knew, but now he gets it. It’s like schoolyard stuff, or hazing, he thinks – you do what was done to you to the next lower order, sometimes worse than you got, just to prove something to yourself. It’s a bully’s mentality, and Xander, in a rare moment of honest clarity, realizes that he’s not as above that sort of thing as he’d always believed.

The sudden introspection threatens to swamp him, and Spike must know that, must recognize something in it, because he chooses that moment to give Xander a frankly appraising look and say in a low voice full of truth and passion, “Want you, Xander. Want you in me.”

Now Xander’s the one shaking; shaking with fear and want and need – blinding and absolute. Without taking his hand from Spike’s back, he finds his duster pocket and removes the small tube there and tosses it onto the chaise. He takes a deep breath and gets his hand up around Spike’s jaw, cupping his chin, and kisses him the way he never knew he wanted to.

14. Passion

Spike rises up onto his knees and Xander wraps his arms around him and just keeps kissing. Slow, fast, soft, deep, teasing, biting – every kind of kiss. He kisses the corners of Spike’s mouth and the scarred eyebrow and a spot below his ear that makes him shiver. He brushes his lips across his broad forehead, under the blades of his cheekbones, along the line of his jaw. He dips back into that beautiful mouth and sucks out the gasps and moans and low, almost pained noises and replaces them with his own.

Spike can’t stay passive forever. Xander can tell that he’s trying – trying so hard that he’s practically vibrating with the tension of restraining himself. He can practically feel Spike’s hands on him the way they always were: hard, demanding, taking. For a moment he wants it to be that way again, wants all of the uncertainty and questions taken out of his hands, want to be positioned and placed, told what to do and where to be and what to feel. His submission to Spike had been total and it had been voluntary – every. Single. Time. There was safety in it, buried below the shame and rage and anger. Xander had never doubted for a second that Spike would hurt him, but had also never doubted that he’d be taken care of. Spike’s hands had given cruelty and comfort in equal measure, building Xander up and breaking him down with precision.

He can feel all of those things, swirling under his skin – can feel himself tensing to find the words that will throw them back into their past dynamic – can feel himself trying to hide in that dangerous haven. He pulls back, takes a deep breath and almost speaks. He stops when he looks into Spike’s eyes and sees something new. He sees something he’s only ever seen in his own eyes in the mirror, back when he had two of them.

“Say it again,” he says quietly. “Tell me again.”

Spike blinks, and the tip of his tongue comes out to moisten his lips, or to taste Xander there, and his body sways forward slightly. “Want you in me,” he says, and the need is shining in his eyes like a new penny at the bottom of a wishing well, harsh and bright and unmistakable.

“Yes,” Xander says. “Want you, too. Never stopped.”

In his head - in his heart - Xander knows it would be so easy to lose himself in this, but he doesn’t want that. He wants to remember every second, every motion, every single sensation. So he dips his head back down and kisses Spike again; lets his tongue map out this new territory while his hands trace every sinew in Spike’s neck and arms and shoulders and chest. Spike’s hands move slowly across his flesh – lightly at first, and then with more tension, dragging sounds from Xander that are soft and needy and clean and sharp in their intensity.

They can’t hide anymore, not so close – not with their bodies and mouths connected, and suddenly Xander understands why they never did this before. Between them they can maybe make one whole heart – each so damaged and broken and torn that alone they are hollow, yet together they build something that didn’t know it was halved until it was joined. And, once joined, is so right that tearing it back apart could destroy both halves.

They whisper and beg; meaningless words. Words like “yes” and “want” and “need” and “oh” and high sounds and deep ones that echo between them, caught and released and caught again. Fingers and lips and tongues touch, taste, tease and retreat only to roll back in again, as inexorable as any tide.

“Please,” Spike says, for the first or fortieth time, and Xander answers “Yes,” again and again until they are back where they started and Xander is nearly biting through his lip with the impossible pleasure of sliding inside and touching Spike in a way he never imagined.

Spike is trembling again, but there’s no fear in it. Xander shakes, too, with his own brand of fear and with passion and with the strain of waiting, of making it good for both of them. His control is stretched to breaking when Spike arches and pushes back and takes him all the way in, before dropping his head down between his arms again and simply breathing – the act incendiary in it’s utter uselessness.

It’s the breathing that undoes Xander, and he wraps his arms tight around Spike’s body, and holds him in a punishing grip that wrings even more words and sounds from his mouth. They trade lines – Xander is begging “Please,” Spike saying “Yes.” Both gasping and struggling until they find release and fall in a heap and lie there entwined, listening to the harsh sounds of their breathing and the delicate, silver-soft noises of the water in the pool.

15. Solace

It’s strange, holding Spike. Though he is physically smaller, his outsized persona makes it feel odd. Xander doesn’t care, though, because he can lie there with Spike in his arms and feel content, feel peaceful. He’s old enough and jaded enough and weary enough to just take it, hold it close, not question this fragile peace. He’s surprised when Spike turns over without pulling away and pillows his head on Xander’s chest and arranges them so he’s draped against his side, arms and legs twining in a loose tangle.

“Spike?” Xander says, his voice quiet. “What’s a selkie?”

“’s a Celtic myth,” Spike says. He raises one hand and lets it drift through Xander’s still-damp hair. “Seal people who can shed their skins and be humans or fairies when they want to. Legend says you can capture them by taking their seal-skin while they’re in human form.”

Xander leans into the touch. “Why would you want to capture one?”

“For a mate – they’re beautiful, like the Fae. It’s said they’ll stay as long as you keep the sealskin hidden, but once they find it they’ll always return home to the sea.” Spike’s eyes were closed, his voice dreamy. “It was one of my favorite stories, when I was young.”

“Do you think they’re real?”

“No. I’ve never seen any, and they don’t get any mention as being real in the Watchers’ documents.” He lets his fingers slide down to Xander’s neck and draw tickling patterns there. “I guess some of the fairytale creatures get to stay in the fairy tales, yeah?”

Giving in to a whim, Xander shifts, settling himself in a more upright position, pulling Spike tight against his chest with one hand, freeing the other to slip down his side and over his hip with languid strokes. “How come it’s the fairy tale creatures that don’t want to kill and eat you that get to stay in the books, huh?”

“I don’t know, just is,” Spike says.

Xander shifts again, and grimaces when he realizes just how sticky they are. He hugs Spike to him for a quick second, and then pushes himself even more upright. Spike grunts in protest.

“Come on, let’s get in the pool and clean up, or we’ll be glued to this chair,” he says.

“OK by me,” Spike says, and Xander can feel his heart speed up, knows that Spike can hear it and feel it, too.

He plays it off with a laugh. “Not so OK by you when the sun comes up.”

Spike allows himself to be shoved onto his feet, and stands there blinking as Xander ducks into the pool house. He laughs when Xander emerges, almost dwarfed by an enormous float shaped like a flower.

“Don’t laugh – this is the best float ever,” Xander says, tossing into the pool. He feels a little shy about it, but he reaches for Spike’s hand, and they walk down the steps into the steaming water together.

Cleaning up becomes a water fight, and the water fight becomes a dunking match and the dunking match becomes two men in a frantic embrace of arms and legs trying not to sink under the water while kissing.

“Get on the float,” Xander gasps, and as Spike does so he pulls himself out of the water and returns to the chaise for the lube. Spike paddles to the edge of the pool and they manage to launch the float with both aboard without too much bobbling and flailing.

Xander gets onto his back and pulls Spike down on top of him. There’s more kissing, and Xander still can’t get enough, he tastes Spike’s kisses like a drowning man tasting air again.

“Want you,” he gasps. “Want you so much.”

Spike answers with a full-body shudder and a low moan, but he’s not stupid. He finds the tube and slicks his fingers, then stops. “You sure?”

“Yeah,” Xander says, guiding Spike’s hand to his body.

That’s all that is needed, and Spike draws out his preparation, watching avidly as Xander’s head tosses against the plastic of the float, the longest strands of his hair trailing in the water. He makes Xander beg, but not like in the past – this begging is desperate, yes, but there’s no fear or hate in it.

The float bumps against the pool wall, and Xander finds enough coherence to pull them to a corner and brace his hands and feet to anchor the bobbing float, so that when Spike slides into him they have a little leverage.

This is another thing they’ve never done – being face to face, and they can’t stop kissing, can’t stop moaning into each other’s mouths and talking in broken phrases of want and need as their bodies roll together and turn the pool into an ocean of small waves. They make it last, bringing each other to the brink time and again with their movements, with their words, with their kisses; but then backing off, taking a long moment – forehead pressed to forehead – anything to prolong this, anything to make it so that it doesn’t have to end.

But it does have to end, and it does – in near-silence. Xander pants harshly, shaken, his mind reeling as Spike’s body rises and falls on his chest while he looks up into the sky and wonders if he could count the stars.

They drift for a while, hands and feet dangling in the water. They don’t speak, but the silence is comfortable, comforting, and their fingers are white and waterlogged when they finally drag themselves to the chaise and fall asleep, curled together like exhausted children.

16. Reflection

When Xander wakes, the sun is coming up. He panics for a second, then realizes that Spike has gone, slipping away in the last vestiges of the night. He can vaguely remember a soft kiss and quiet footsteps walking away. He’s covered with one of the oversized beach towels from the cabana, and his clothes are folded and stacked neatly on the table: boots, jeans, tee shirt.

The lights and the stereo are off. The pool gurgles and the ridiculous flower float twirls lazily in the tiny eddies of the current created by the filter and the breeze. There are birds singing. It’s a normal suburban morning – too early for the over-zealous lawn crews, too late for the late-night party crowd. He stretches, and he feels good. He feels loose-limbed in the way that you feel after a good fuck and a good sleep. His stomach isn’t clenched and his head isn’t throbbing and he feels… good. It’s enough.

For once, he doesn’t feel the hate churning inside. His mind is clear for the first time in what seems like forever. There are things to be decided – he’s got a life to figure out, it seems. He gets up and folds the towel and places it next to his clothes on the table. He looks around for the tube of lube, but it’s gone. So is his duster. It isn’t in the pool house either, but that isn’t what stops him in his tracks and makes him stare. What provokes that particular reaction is the telephone number written on the mirror with one of Anya’s expensive eyeliners. Beneath the digits is a scrawled “S”. The eyeliner is lying on the counter, next to his wedding band, which had been in the duster’s pocket. He looks at the band for a moment, then at the phone number for a longer time, thinking of soft words and gentle touches and stories about creatures that shed their skin.

The End

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