S/X R-ish
Xander's got a crush.
Spoilers: Through "Lies My Parents Told Me". This story is set after LMPTM but before "Dirty Girls".





In The Mix


by
Yin Again



Prologue

COPYING TRACK 14 of 14 …

Xander’s foot tapped as he waited impatiently for the computer to finish burning his mix CD. Hurry, damn it, he thought. He loved making mix CDs. He had the perfect scenario for listening to this one – a road trip. Granted, it wasn’t a fun road trip, but a trip to LA still meant at least two hours of highway driving – the very best kind of driving when you had a brand spanking new mix CD to listen to. Xander had spent days choosing the specific songs, each one had a special meaning to him.

Two weeks prior, he had traded in his perfectly serviceable, perfectly responsible Chrysler sedan for a convertible. He was sure that his friends thought it a rash reaction to the final breakup with Anya, or a rash reaction to the impending rain of shit that was going to fall courtesy of the First, or a rash reaction of some kind. The truth was that after the breakup with Anya and in light of the impending rain of shit, Xander had decided that he didn’t really care what anyone thought. He wanted a convertible, and he was damn well going to have one. So there.

The computer continued to make those small spinning noises that meant his CD was burning. He hummed happily at the thought that in less than fifteen minutes he would be heading for the highway in his new convertible with the wind in his hair and his awesome new CD playing. He fully intended to sing along, loudly and unmelodiously, and to laugh, scream, cry or express any and all emotions brought forth by the carefully selected tracks.

The final, weak rays of the sun were slipping below the horizon. Spike would be home soon. The vampire had been living in Xander’s spare room for several weeks. After the first few nights, Xander had conceded that the closet was really too small and had cleared the spare room. Spike had arrived shell-shocked and crazy, but had gradually regained much of his personality. Getting out of the school basement, having his chip removed and finally, the deactivation of his trigger had gone a long way in restoring the vampire to his former self, despite the addition of the soul.

At first, Xander had been leery of having Spike in his home again. The last time he’d had custody of the vampire had been unsettling. Xander harbored some embarrassing memories of things that tying Spike up had made him think and feel. The truth of the matter was that he’d quit tying Spike up because of those thoughts, not because the chipped vampire was harmless. He’d worked very hard to sublimate his disturbing thoughts into yet more sex with Anya, and that had worked.

After the breakup with Anya and a few spectacularly bad dates, Xander had decided to take some time to figure out exactly what he was looking for. He’d made exactly zero progress on figuring that out when Spike had walked back into his home. Of course, the Spike who had followed Buffy into the apartment wrapped in a blanket had been a shadow of his former self. He’d been painfully thin, dirty and unkempt. His bleached locks were grown out into two-toned curls, and his brilliant blue eyes shone with obvious insanity.

Xander had objected to having an enforced roommate at the time, but after a few days had realized that Buffy’s pronouncements that Spike had to get out of the school were correct. Truthfully, Spike was quiet, unassuming and little trouble during those first days. Then Xander had discovered why – the vampire was barely feeding and sleeping little, if at all. He’d come home early from work one day to find Spike three-quarters of the way through a pot of double-strength black coffee, staring at a mug of blood that had long since congealed on the kitchen table. The worst part was that Spike had not noticed him at all until he’d pressed the handle of the reheated mug of blood into his hand. At Xander’s touch, Spike had started violently and knocked the mug away, then stared at the spreading stain with a terrifying mixture of hunger and revulsion.

Xander had forced the lethargic vampire to talk, and the halting conversation that followed had revealed that Spike’s soul was interfering with his ability to feed, and that he was forcing himself not to sleep because of horrible nightmares. In the end they had come to an agreement; Xander had promised to watch over him while he slept that afternoon, if Spike would consent to trying to eat just a little. The vampire had managed to drink a small amount of blood, and then had settled into his bed.

Xander felt a twist in his heart each time the blue eyes had opened to check if he was still there – each time he’d smiled and nodded. After the tenth time, the vampire had finally slept. Xander took the opportunity to really look at Spike. He was lying on his back, one hand on the pillow above his head, the other by his side. His black t-shirt rode up a little, exposing his hollow belly and the extreme jut of his hipbones. Spike had started to twitch and make small, scared noises in his sleep. Without thinking, Xander had moved to the side of the bed and reached out and run his hand down the other man’s arm in a soothing gesture. The vampire had immediately stilled. Xander had returned to his chair.

It went on like that for several hours – Spike would stir, Xander would comfort him and return to his seat. Late in the afternoon, Xander was jerked awake by Spike’s voice, keening "no, no, no, no" over and over again in a low monotone. Cursing himself for falling asleep, he’d rushed to the bed, sitting next to the vampire and brushing the hair from his face as his head tossed on the pillow. Spike had reached out blindly, and Xander had unexpectedly found himself clutching the smaller man to his chest and rubbing his back as if he were a frightened child. Spike had relaxed into the embrace and curled himself around Xander, nestling his head down onto the larger man’s shoulder.

Once Spike had calmed, Xander had attempted to lay him back down, but the vampire would not release his grip. Finally, Xander had lain down beside him, both men on their sides. Spike had pressed his face into Xander’s chest and returned to sleep, and Xander lay there, his mind whirling and his hands rubbing soothing circles on the back of his not-quite-mortal-enemy.

An hour later, Spike began to stir, and Xander extricated himself from the cool arms and returned to his chair, where he leaned back and feigned sleep, hoping that the vampire’s senses were still muddled enough not to notice his racing heartbeat. At the pressure of a hand on his shoulder, he’d opened his eyes to find Spike smiling at him. It was a small smile, but it had just a little of the old Spike in it, so Xander had smiled back. Then, Spike had quietly said, "thank you." Xander nodded, and then left the room. He’d heated a half-mug of blood, and handed it to Spike as he entered the kitchen. With a small grimace and a shrug, the vampire had slowly drunk it, then rinsed the mug and placed it in the sink.

On two more occasions, Spike had asked Xander to watch over him while he slept, and Xander had complied. On one occasion he’d wound up with the shivering vampire on his lap in the chair, clawing at some imaginary enemy until Xander was able to soothe him back to sleep. On the other, he’d only had to touch Spike twice; both times he’d subsided quickly. He had not asked again. In the interim, Spike had gotten much of his old spark back – he’d re-bleached his hair, and finally, after his confrontation with Wood he’d returned pretty much to normal.

Spike treated everyone much the same as before, except for Xander. Xander noticed that the vampire had been – well, for lack of a better word – nicer. No insults; the wisecracks had still been there, but without the usual undercurrent of meanness, and they’d even spent some quiet, normal weekday evenings at home, finding shared interest in Quentin Tarantino movies, the Game Show Network and almost anything on the History Channel. They had spent the better part of one evening debating the relative merits of Wheat Thins versus Triscuits and the travesty that was squeeze cheese in a can, when Xander realized that he liked Spike. The thought had derailed his impassioned defense of the Triscuit and caused Spike to crow that he’d won the argument.

Examining his thoughts later, Xander had come to the mind-bending conclusion that not only did he like Spike as a person (or sort-of-person), he was also harboring an incipient crush on the vampire. Well, if that wasn’t a showstopper, he didn’t know what was. He thought about his recent quest to find out what it was that he really wanted. A crush on a male undead person was not exactly the sort of thing he’d expected to find rattling around in his brain, but there it was. He realized that he was about a thousand times more comfortable with Spike than with anyone else he knew and that the vampire was the only one with whom he was truly himself anymore. He also realized that being with Spike made him happy and that happiness was an emotion that he’d been in short supply of for far too long.

WRITING LEAD-OUT …

The quiet "bing" from the computer brought Xander out of his thoughts. A frisson of joy ran down his spine. The CD was ready. For the last week, he’d avoided everybody. He’d put all of his excess energies into crafting this mix. He’d skipped a couple of Scooby meetings, he’d foregone stopping by Buffy’s after work to see what else needed fixing, and he’d ducked phone calls from Willow and Anya. He’d even avoided Spike when he could. Xander knew that this CD, this mix, said everything about him. It was like a time capsule – a specific era caught and sealed away – a frozen moment out of time. It was also a catharsis, a way for him to pour out his feelings and sift through them to try and achieve some clarity. He couldn’t wait to get on the road.

When Giles had asked him to take several texts to Angel in LA, at first he’d been tempted to decline. But then he’d thought of the mix, half-finished at the time. What better than a road trip to try it out? Open road, new convertible, and the mix – a match made in heaven. He’d quickly accepted the books and promised to leave Friday after work. It was now Friday after work, the CD was finished, and he was ready to go. He slipped the CD into a jewel case, grabbed his keys and jacket and flung the apartment door open, startling Spike, who was standing on the other side of the door with his keys out, scowling.

"Hello, Spike. Goodbye, Spike," Xander said, stepping aside to allow the vampire to enter. "I’m off to LA; I’ll be back late – very late." With a long-suffering look, Spike replied, "Hold up there, mate; I’m with you." Xander’s mouth dropped open, and the vampire continued speaking. "I know – you don’t want me with you and I don’t want to go, but Angel’s on one of his fatherly trips and has demanded that I go there. You’re going, so I’m going with you." His tone softened. "Look, Xan, I know it’s an imposition, but I’d appreciate it if you’d have me along, OK?"







He called me "Xan". That’s a first. He rarely calls me by name, and never "Xan". It sounded good when he said it, even though he sounded pissed about going to LA. He was trying to be polite. That’s so weird. Must be the soul. Whenever he does nice things or is polite, Willow refers to him as "Souly McSoul". Not to his face though. He’d probably have a fit if he knew she does it.

OK, so he’s upstairs getting his jacket, and I’m in the parking lot putting the top down. The weather is pretty good for early spring, warm enough for having the top down, but cool enough to feel good. I threw my jacket in the backseat, so it’s there if I need it. There’s no way in Hell I’m putting the top up, so if Spike doesn’t like the wind he can ride in the trunk.

Maybe that would be better. If I play this CD, is he going to figure out that half the songs are about him? If he figures it out, am I going to have to crash us into an overpass to escape my extreme embarrassment? Does he have to look so damn hot in that duster? Shit, here he comes. He told me the story about the duster, and at first I thought it was kinda gross that he’s wearing it again, seeing that it belonged to Wood’s mother and all. He explained it to me though, and I have to say that his logic makes sense, in a twisted, souled-vampire kind of way. He sees the coat as a symbol of his past as a bloodsucking, Slayer-killing vampire maniac. He feels that wearing it forces him to remember what he was and accept it. He doesn’t want to be Angel – he’s not seeking redemption or doing some sort of penance. He was what he was – all of those killings were done by the demon. The demon is still a part of him, but so is the soul. I think that when he realized that the soul isn’t responsible for all of the atrocities committed by the demon, he was able to feed again. And whatever happened with Wood seems to have made a big difference in him, too.

He’s slumped down in the seat, staring out the windshield. He looks like he wants a cigarette, but he knows I won’t let him smoke in my car. "Go ahead," I say, "smoke if you want to – it can’t hurt anything with the top down." He looks at me, surprised. "Thanks. Maybe later," he says, and then he just looks at me for a minute. His eyes are beautiful. It’s hard to look away from them – they just pull you in. Thankfully, he looks away. I pull out of the parking lot and into the gas station across the road. He gets out and starts pumping the gas. I ask him if he wants anything, and he says "whatever". Inside, I gather some road food and some sodas, then pay for them and the gas. By the time I get back, he’s back in his seat, still slumped down. I get in and off we go. After a couple of minutes, I glance at him and laugh. "You’re brooding," I tell him. He scowls at me. I laugh out loud. "You’re brooding like Angel when he can’t get that $14 hair gel he loves." He laughs and sits up straight, which is much better than brooding. He grins and says, "Sorry." I think "Souly McSoul", but I don’t say it.

We’re getting close to the highway. When we stop at a red light, I turn towards him. "Look, Spike," I say, "I know this is weird, but I have to ask you a favor." He glances at me and asks, "What?" I take in a deep breath and just blurt it out. "OK, I have this thing about road trips and music. I made a mix CD especially for this trip, and I want to listen to it on the highway. I need for you to not say anything, and especially not to make fun of any of the songs, because they’re all important to me, one way or another. I had planned on doing this alone – it’s sort of the way I work stuff out." I had to stop to take a breath, which I immediately let out when he just smiled at me and said, "OK, Xander." The lights changed, and I handed him the jewel case. He opened it and slipped the CD into the player. OK, here we go.





Track 1

Like I didn’t know he was a music nut. The kid’s got over 300 CDs. I counted them all one day when I was still trying to not sleep ever again. Then I alphabetized them by artist, then by title. Then I mixed them all up again so he wouldn’t notice. Then I did the whole thing over again. Yes, it was a crazy thing to do, but I was crazy after all. So, he made a CD, he wants to listen to it, he doesn’t want me to make fun of it. I wouldn’t anyway. OK, last year I would have, but not now. Things have changed.

Hey – I know this song – something by Staind – his taste is improving. This is nice - good guitars and drums. I’m so glad that teenybopper pop shit is going out of fashion. One more underdressed waif and I was seriously going to have to consider going back to murder as a hobby.

"How do I feel? I've been here before
I've felt this
Retreat to a place a place within me I need this
Keep it all down bottled inside it breaks me
to torment again and
Torture me like it used to"

"Break the Cycle", that’s the name of the song. He said that the songs all mean something to him. I’m no armchair analyst, but even I get it. Hell, I may be the only one who does – I don’t know if any of the Scoobies ever figured out how many of his bruises came from home and not from demon fighting. My guess is that they didn’t – pretty self-absorbed lot they are. Shit, even when I didn’t have a soul I hated that crap – now I hate it worse. I hate it that he still thinks he deserves to be treated badly. It’s funny – of all of them, he’s the one who has been treated the worst, and he’s still the one with the most compassion.

Look at the way he treated me. Buffy decided to fob me off on him when I was barking mad, and he took me in. Hell, he even cared enough to find out why I wasn’t feeding. He didn’t even crack a smile or a joke when I asked him to watch me sleep. He touched me, calmed me, when none of them would even so much as look at me. He thinks I don’t know that he held me. But I know, and I remember, and those are the memories that let me sleep on the bad nights. Can’t tell him, though. Wish I could.

"So now the waves they have subsided
And my soul is bleeding
I can't take away all the shame I feel
Forgive me"

Would you listen to that? I think they wrote that part about me. Except for the forgiveness part. Fuck that.

"Break The Cycle" – Staind





Track 2

OK, one song down. He looks like he’s thinking pretty hard. Probably dreading seeing Angel. Can’t blame him there, I’m not exactly looking forward to it either. Oh, the next song’s starting. Oh, God – I forgot I put this on the CD. I love the intro to this song – just simple piano music, then John Hiatt’s rough-smooth, hauntingly beautiful voice. Well, mine’s not as nice as his is, but I’ve got to sing along. This one’s for Jesse, and it would be a crime not to sing it for him.

"Friend of mine
Has gone away
Like a light from yesterday
Lost in space
Somewhere they say
This friend of mine"

I was singing quietly, and Spike just leaned over and said, "Go ahead, Xan, sing out – the top’s down and no one can hear you." I didn’t look over, but I did start singing louder. Has he been lying all these years? Is mind reading really a vampire skill and he didn’t want us to know? Is he trying to make me fall in love with him? I’m going to stop thinking and sing this song.

OK, I’m still thinking. I miss Jesse. He’s been gone so long. I used to hate vampires because of what happened to Jesse, but I’ve grown up a lot since then. Now I think I’m just lucky to have not lost all of my best friends to vampires – we do live in Sunnydale. I’ll always miss him, though.

"Take him home
To the light
This friend of mine"

I think Jesse’s soul is in heaven. I think it went there when the vampire killed him. I know that the demon that I killed wasn’t him. It may have had some of his personality, but it wasn’t him. Well, that brings up an interesting thought. I was attracted to Spike when he stayed with me the first time, pre-soul. I had the hots for a demon. That’s a bit of a shocker. He’s different now, though. I wonder what all of that means. I hope it means that he won’t give me shit if he saw me wiping tears out of my eyes just then.

"Friend of Mine" – John Hiatt





Track 3

John Hiatt? Who’d have thought Xander knew about John Hiatt? Huh – I guess appreciation for good music didn’t die before his generation like I thought. That was a good song. I don’t know who he was thinking about, but he sure cared about them. Maybe I’ll get him to tell me the story some day. Hell, it could happen. I never thought he and I would sit on the couch in sweats and eat Girl Scout Cookies and watch "Reservoir Dogs" and laugh til we cried, but that happened. So there’s still hope.

Oh, man – I like this one. It’s Garbage – that Shirley Manson has a great voice. Very evocative. I like this trancy kind of music; it gets into your bones and your blood, makes you feel heavy and sensual. That sort of thing is big with the vampire crowd. This song tears my fucking heart out. It’s everything I felt for Buffy, and I can barely stand to hear it. Me and her, we’re over. We talked about it, I even made a little joke about the dangers of picket fences, but we both knew what it was. We couldn’t be together, not after the things we did to each other. I don’t love her any more.

"See your face every place that I walk in
Hear your voice every time I am talking
You will believe in me
And I will never be ignored"

Funny, that. She did say that she believed in me. It didn’t really help. Too little, too late, I guess.

I will burn for you
Feel pain for you
I will twist the knife and bleed my aching heart
I'll tear it apart

I will lie for you
Beg and steal for you
I will crawl on hands and knees until you see
You're just like me"

God, this song says it well – that’s just how I felt about her. The sad part is that she’s not like me. She’s much more like Angel – tied to an idea, a job title. She’s no more alive than he is. Oh, great – now I’m feeling sorry for Angel. Kill me now. Wait a minute – this is Xander’s mix. Duh. He felt this way about Buffy, too. No wonder he hated my fucking guts. I always knew he was a White Hat, a good guy; but I think I’m starting to realize that he’s a hell of a man. Better than I ever was. I think I need that cigarette now.

"Number One Crush" – Garbage





Track 4

He finally lit up. I guess I never thought about how much "Number One Crush" would resonate for him. Not like he was supposed to ever hear this CD anyway. He looks so cool when he smokes. The wind is winning – it’s starting to break through his armor of hair gel, and little curls are escaping. It’s cute. Makes me want to smooth it back with my hand. I haven’t touched him in forever, but I still remember what he feels like. He’s cool and hard and angular. His hair is soft. It should be like straw from all of the bleach, but without the gel it’s like silk. His skin is, too. I have got to get my thoughts under control; I’m getting hard. Not good. Oh, yeah – music; music is playing.

Piano music, and Michelle Branch’s baby-doll voice. I love her. I know, I know – but her voice is so sweet and her songs are simple and straightforward. Not much is like that for me these days, so I have to take it where I can get it. This is my song for Willow. We aren’t very close now, and I hate it so much. She’s working so hard every day to be ready for the First, and it’s taking everything she’s got to steel herself for the time when she has to tap into her power again. OK, maybe not everything she’s got, because she’d still got time for Kennedy. Kennedy gets on my nerves. She’s bossy and kind of mean and she picks on Spike.

Jesus, I’ve got it bad. Now I’m pissed at Willow’s potential-Slayer girlfriend because she’s mean to my vampire. My vampire – that thought is not doing much to dissipate my hard on. I’ll concentrate on the song.

"Just when you thought you were losing
But you know I’ll always be right there
And I’ll be there through the good times and the bad
And we’ll be there for each other
You’re the best friend I ever had"

It’s true. She’s the best friend I’ve ever had, or ever will, no matter what. Things will straighten out between us. I know she probably still feels all weird about me having to talk her out of destroying the world and all, who wouldn’t? I’ve got to make more of an effort with Willow. She needs to know how I feel about her. That’s one thing I’m gonna do for sure – I’m gonna make sure I tell Willow and Buffy and Giles how I feel about them. I may feel like a giant sap doing it, but they deserve to know.

So, Willow – love her. I’m even gonna try to be nicer to Kennedy, as long as she’s nice to Spike. I can’t believe I just thought that. Yes, I can. In this renewed commitment to telling the truth, I guess I have to tell it to myself. I like Spike. I am attracted to a male vampire. I am also probably certifiably insane. Does this mean I’m gay? Do I like guys in general, or just undead ones? OK, let me think. Guys … guys …. Manny from work – does he turn me on? He’s young, nice-looking … but, no – doesn’t do it for me. Angel … nope. Giles … no way. OK, looks like it’s a Spike-centric kind of thing. Typical – I can’t even change orientation in a predictable fashion.

"I’ll Always Be Right There" – Michelle Branch





Track 5

Why is he banging his head on the steering wheel? That was a perfectly nice song. This one is, too - Joy Division – I’d recognize it anywhere. "Love Will Tear Us Apart". This one’s for Anya. He really couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song.

"When routine bites hard and ambitions are low
and resentment rides high but emotions won't grow
And we're changing our ways, taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again

You cry out in your sleep, all my failings exposed
And there's a taste in my mouth as desperation takes hold
Just that something so good just can't function no more
But love, love will tear us apart again"

I’m glad they didn’t get married, and I’m glad that I fucked her. Not because I was a mess and needed to get laid, either. I’m glad they didn’t get married, because it would have ended badly. I’m glad I fucked her because it was the one thing that guaranteed that they wouldn’t get back together. Is that cruel? I don’t know. But they’d have been miserable in a year or so. Anya wanted to be a human, with all the trappings. She wanted a husband and a family and a house with a white picket fence. But the truth of it is she’d have hated it all in no time, and Xander would have paid the price.

Judging from this song, I’d say he’s pretty much figured out that it wasn’t meant to be with Anya. That makes me feel good. I don’t like to think of him pining for her.

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" – Joy Division





Track 6

Oh, this is a good song – Silverchair "Abuse Me". I put this one on here for Faith. She wrote me a letter from prison. She asked me to forgive her. You know what? I thought about it and realized I’d forgiven her long ago. I wasn’t even all that mad that she’d tried to kill me. I think what hurt the most was that my first time had to be so glaringly not special for her. Sort of killed the afterglow, if you know what I mean.

"Need to ask a question
Calling out my name
Nothing seems to bother
Wish I had a clue

Come on abuse me more, I like it

Well I don't think you like me
Well I hate you as well
No one seems to like you
Wish I couldn't tell

Come on abuse me more; I like it"

I wrote a letter back to Faith. It seemed like the right thing to do. I told her that I forgave her and that I didn’t hate her. I said I was sorry about the way that things turned out, and that I hoped she would believe that I had changed for the better, too. If she writes back, maybe I’ll try to get some information about visiting her. I know Angel goes to see her sometimes.

I feel better now that I’ve forgiven her. It was hard, holding a grudge for so long. I’m too good at that – I guess it’s one more thing to work on. Giles told Buffy once that you don’t forgive people because they need it, you forgive them because you need it. Hey – looks like I learned something from Giles after all.

"Abuse Me" – Silverchair





Track 7

"Beautiful girl,
you must've been a beautiful baby too
Beautiful woman,
you must've had your moments inside the sun
Beautiful girl"

This is a pretty song; the acoustic guitar is nice. This is about Dawn. She is a beautiful girl, especially now that she’s finding her place and she’s not such a hormone-bomb anymore. God, she was a pain in the ass for a while there. I understand that she’s had to deal with a lot of shit in her short life, but all that screeching was hell on the vampire hearing.

I know Xander loves her. He’s singing along and he’s smiling that smile that he keeps especially for Dawn. I bet he wanted a sibling growing up. He hates to be alone, so a sister or brother would have made him happy. Course, with the way his parents are, I’m sure he’s glad to be an only – wouldn’t wish that shit on anyone. He would have gotten himself killed, protecting a sibling. He’d have never let someone else get hurt when he could take the shots instead.

That smile is something special. Open and happy. He smiles at everyone, but there’s always something under it. His smiles at Buffy and Willow are full of love, but there’s a lot of regret there, too. He doesn’t smile much at Giles any more – he’s pretty pissed about the Watcher setting me up with Wood. I’m pretty pissed about it, too. Not that I ever doubted that I could take the Principal down. He thinks he’s tough, but he’s got no idea. He thinks a few weapons and a couple of moves can defeat a Master Vampire, even one as screwed up as me? Daft bugger. He messes with me again and I will fuck him up. And I will enjoy it. I heard what Buffy said to him – that she’d let me kill him. Like I need permission.

He smiles at the potentials and Anya and that blond kid – Andrew – but they’re not real smiles – he doesn’t really see them. He smiles at me – when we’re arguing or goofing or whatever. Those are real smiles.

"Beautiful Girl" – Poe





Track 8

I’m starting to smile as I hear the intro for this song. Spike just recognized it and he’s smiling, too. I admit – it’s a cop-out. I just couldn’t find a song that encompassed all of the things I feel about Giles right now, and I remembered Spike telling me the story about surprising him one night, playing his guitar and singing. Spike said he screamed like a woman.

"If I leave here tomorrow,
would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now.
'Cause there's too many places I've gotta see."

We’re both singing and laughing, and I think laughing is winning. It’s really a good song, but the mental image of Giles shrieking and nearly falling off the couch is killing me.

I just don’t know what to think about him right now. He’s been so different since he came back from England, and Buffy is so mad at him. She gives him the worst looks and she’s always telling him to go deal with the potentials, they still need a teacher, every time he tries to talk to her. It’s cold. I’m pretty pissed myself about him setting Spike up with Wood. Not that I ever harbored the illusion that Wood could ever get the better of Spike – even crazy, triggered Spike.

God, Spike is in hysterics over there. I’ve never seen him laugh so hard. Tears are streaming down his face. He’s beautiful when he smiles, but he’s spectacular when he laughs. He looks like a kid, and his eyes just sparkle. I’ve got it bad.

"Freebird" – Lynyrd Skynyrd





Track 9

"Freebird" – damn that was funny! I thought he was going to wreck the car he was laughing so hard. I can still see the look on the Watcher’s face when I popped up and startled him, He screamed like a little girl. That was great.

Hey - Linkin Park – kid’s surprising me with his taste in music again. Not a Backstreet Boys song yet – I‘m impressed. He’s singing along again, and I’ll admit I’m doing a little staring. He looks happy – his hair’s kind of grown out and it’s blowing in the breeze. He’s squinting against the wind and driving faster than usual. Ever since I told him to go ahead and sing out he’s been doing just that. His voice is nice – not great. He doesn’t always hit all the notes. He sings like he dances – for himself, for the love of the music. Doesn’t really care how he looks or sounds, which is the right way to do it.

I’m flattered that he’s comfortable enough to reveal so much of himself to me. He probably didn’t intend to. He’s probably hoping like hell that I have no clue how much these songs mean to him. Too bad, because I’m really getting it. This one is all about him. "Somewhere I Belong" – that’s only what he’s been looking for the entire time I’ve known him.

"I want to heal
I want to feel
Like I'm close to something real
I want to find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong"

I’m staring again. He’s going to turn his head any minute and catch me looking. I don’t care. He avoided me all week. He avoided everyone, I know because I checked with Buffy and Dawn and Willow. I’m sure they thought I was nuts. I don’t think they noticed ‘til I brought it up, stupid bints. For a moment, I thought maybe he had a new girl and that’s where he was. Then I did a very reliable test – I smelled him. He just smelled like himself – nobody else, so if it is a girl, he hasn’t touched her at all. I’d know.

"Somewhere I Belong" – Linkin Park





Track 10

"I want to hold the hand inside you
I want to take a breath that's true
I look to you and I see nothing
I look to you to see the truth
You live your life
You go in shadows
You'll come apart and you'll go black
Some kind of night into your darkness
Colors your eyes with what's not there"

This song makes me want to fuck. There’s something about the music; it throbs, and it winds itself around me and makes me want to close my eyes and kiss someone deeply. It makes me want to feel lips on mine and a tongue in my mouth. It makes me want to feel hands on my skin and in my hair. The singer’s voice is languid and sweet – it’s like chocolate, melting in my mouth. This song makes my skin tingle the same way it does when someone’s hand is on me, sliding down my belly toward my cock, and I know that the next touch I feel will be the glide of smooth skin against velvet hardness, or fingertips dancing lightly over me, teasing and rubbing. This song is pure sex – the feel of sliding part of me into someone else’s body and connecting us in a primal way.

I had a dream about Spike. It wasn’t too long after the day that I lay with him and held him while he slept. In the dream I was still holding him, but he was strong and healthy again, not sick and thin. We were both asleep, and in the dream I awoke to feel his hand in my hair and his lips ghosting over mine. I tried to talk, but he shushed me and kissed me. It was the sweetest, softest kiss I’d ever been given. Then it got harder and more insistent. Then I was fully awake and kissing him back, clutching his shoulders and pulling him closer.

Then he was on top of me, and our clothes were gone in that magical way that only happens in dreams - where no zippers get stuck and no one is wearing ridiculous cartoon boxer shorts, and buttons just melt away. In the dream, he was touching me – it was so different; he touched me gently, but with such power that I knew he was being gentle for me, because of me. Then his hand was on my cock, and he touched it like I do – like he knew exactly what I needed and wanted before I did. My hand was on him, too – and somehow I knew exactly what to do.

In the dream we came together, and when I really woke up, there was a sticky mess inside my ridiculous cartoon boxer shorts. Right now, inside my very conservative black silk boxer shorts? Raging hard on. If he can smell me, he’s going to know that this song and every one after it on this CD is about him. Holy shit.

"Fade Into You" – Mazzy Star





Track 11

Holy shit. I can smell him. Arousal. Must be a seriously erotic memory attached to that last song. I know what his arousal smells like. Anya kept him half-horny most of the time when they first got together – it was hard to miss. And, I live with him. He’s a normal, young human male who hasn’t gotten any in a while – he wanks off. Hell, so do I. I’ve smelled it faintly in the apartment, and more strongly in the bathroom. I’ll admit it -–a couple of times I’ve used the shower after he’s gone to work and the smell is so strong that it’s made me hard and I’ve followed him down that path. I’ll also admit that it was him I was thinking of when I shot against the shower wall. I had a pretty powerful fantasy of him on his knees in that very shower, blowing me that … Christ, now I’ve got a hard on.

Oh, yeah – music. Matchbox twenty; pretty good band. I think the critics give them the shaft. Nothing wrong with being popular – the music is still good, and Rob Thomas has an interesting voice. I don’t think I know this song, though.

"Something is wrong
With the sum of us
That I can't seem to erase
How can I be
The only one
Without a smile on my face

Well now, you're laughing out loud
At just the thought of being alive
And I was wondering
Could I just be you tonight"

Fairly typical – always wanting to be someone else. Somebody really needs to convince him that being himself isn’t a bad thing. I can understand the insecurity – he’s the only normal one in a life full of Slayers, Watchers, witches and demons. He keeps giving me these sideways glances, like he’s nervous. Oh. Oh! I get it; this must be my turn – this song must be about me. If he wants to be me, he must be thinking about the old me. The new me isn’t so much fun. The old me? Pre-chip and pre-Buffy? He was fun – that son of a bitch had a great time. Hell, I want to be him again.

This soul thing is a major bitch. It’s fucking hard to change a mindset you’ve been in for a century. It’s even harder to not turn into Angel. I can see why he broods so damn much. Don’t get me wrong, I still think a lot of his angst is self-indulgent bullshit, but I understand him a little better now. That whole deal with Wood helped me a lot. I hate him, but he did help me work a few things out. The best part is getting rid of the trigger – I’m glad I’m not the First’s bitch anymore. I was really afraid I was going to hurt someone – Xan or Buffy or Dawn. Could have cheerfully eaten that Kennedy brat though. What a bitch.

"Could I Be You" – matchbox twenty





Track 12

Rush. I love ‘em. I know it’s kind of cheesy, but Getty Lee really has a great voice, and this song is just awesome. It’s got that longing vibe that’s exactly what I’m all about right now. I guess I’m just reacting to all of the bad stuff that’s been happening, and all that’s yet to come, but I just want so much all of a sudden. My whole life I’ve waited to see what came to me and made the best of that. But, now – I find myself longing for things and at the same time less afraid of going out and getting them. Am I growing up, or am I just reacting to the seventh or eighth apocalypse in as many years in a new way? Either way, this song is good.

"I don't believe in the stars or the planets
Or angels watching from above
But I believe there's a ghost of a chance
We can find someone to love and make it last."

Hey, Spike’s singing along with this. He’s hitting all the notes, too. Figures – he’s gorgeous, has a fantastic body, is totally cool and has a good voice. Some vampires get all the breaks. He would probably disagree with me on that, in light of recent events. Hell, he’d probably disagree with me if I said the sky was blue, just for the hell of it. He likes to argue. Not in a bitchy way, but just because it’s fun. We’ve had some great ones: Wheat Thins vs. Triscuits, Yamahas vs. Harleys, Baywatch vs. VIP, cheese puffs vs. cheese curls. He’s fun to argue with. He pushes me and makes me sharper and funnier. We play well off of each other. We had the whole gang falling apart laughing with the puffs/curls debate one night. It was like a well-rehearsed comedy routine, and we brought the house down. That was fun. The fun times have been few and far between lately.

I wonder if there is a ghost of a chance for Spike and me together. It’s pretty unlikely, if I’m being at all honest with myself. I’m a Scooby, he’s a vampire, and we’re both straight males, as far as I know anyway. I mean, I’ve read the books Giles thinks are hidden – I know vamps aren’t so particular about gender, but I’ve never known him to be with a guy. I don’t know if he’d even be interested. Well, I guess I’ll find out pretty soon. The next song is a dead giveaway. I wonder if I should skip over it. Would you look at that? My hand just shot out and hit the pause button.

"Ghost of A Chance" – Rush





Track 13

Ghost of a chance, indeed. I should have figured from the songs – he’s interested in somebody. He probably wanted this time alone to work it out in his head. I wonder if it’s one of the potentials. They’re kind of young, but a few of them seem pretty savvy. I don’t think it’s Anya or Buffy again. Hey – what’s with the pause button? He’s glancing at me again, looks worried. I get it – the next song must make it pretty obvious. I guess he thinks if I hear it I’ll know who he’s thinking about. He’s probably worried I’m gonna give him a hard time. Well, I’m not. I’m just gonna listen to the damn song and figure it out and sit over here and quietly eat my heart out because it’s not me. How pathetic is that?

The wind is whipping, and the song’s still paused, and he’s glancing at me and back at the road, trying to make up his mind. The old Spike would just hit the damn play button and have done with it. I’m not him; I don’t really want to know who it is. Hell, let him decide. Huh, he hit play. I’ve got to give him credit for the ballsy move, even though I don’t know why it’s such a big deal if I know who he’s crushing on.

"People always take a step away
From what is true
That's why I like you around
I want you
Yeah you do you do you do you do you do you do you do
You make me want you
An open invitation to the dance
Happenstance set the vibe that we're in
No apology because my urge is genuine"

Well, it’s a good song; I like the lyrics. I’m still clueless, though, as to who he means. He’s not glancing at me anymore, and he’s not singing along. He’s staring straight ahead, and his jaw is clenched. Oh. I just heard what they’re singing in the background. "Send me all your vampires" and the song is called "I Want You". Oh.

"I Want You" – Third Eye Blind





Track 14

OK, humiliated much? I saw his eyes go wide when he figured it out. I had to look away before I could see if he looked happy or sad or shocked or disgusted or what. I just can’t look at him. Fucking fuck. This last song is the clincher. What the hell was I thinking, putting this song on here? Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. He knows I want him – now he’ll know how much. I don’t think you can get more obvious than "I Would Be Your Slave". And with that thought, the return of the raging hard on.

"I don't sit and wait
I don't give a damn
I don't see the point at all
No footsteps in the sand

I bet you laugh out loud at me
A chance to strike me down
Give me peace of mind at last
Show me all you are
Open up your heart to me
I would be your slave"

Well, that’s it. Now he knows. I’m too afraid to even look at him. The song just ended, and I casually hit the button to switch over to the radio. He’s looking at the lights; LA’s really close. We’ll be at Angel’s soon. I wonder what happens next.

"I Would Be Your Slave" – David Bowie





Interlude

It’s late Saturday afternoon, and I just got up. We only stayed at Angel’s for an hour. I handed over the books, and Angel took Spike into his office for a while to talk. I sat in the lobby and stared at the wall until they came out. Then we left. We got in the car, and he popped the CD out of the player and put in the Eagles Greatest Hits of all things. We didn’t speak a word on the way home. We both sang along to the CD and I didn’t look at him at all. I just couldn’t. I basically just shut my mind off and drove and sang – it was all I could do. We even managed some decent harmony on "Seven Bridges Road" without looking at each other once. When we got home, he didn’t come up to the apartment. It was just after 2:30. He said, "See ya later," and he walked off around the corner, duster swirling. I leaned on the car and got a grip, and then I came up here and went to bed. He didn’t come home this morning.

It’ll be dark in an hour or so, I guess I’ll see if he comes home then or not. I don’t know what to think, so I think I’ll take a shower, then eat something, and then avoid thinking about it. Denial – it’s a valid coping strategy.





I wish the fucking sun would set. There are too many people in this house, and they are driving me mad. I slipped in just before dawn. Before that, I wandered around town, lightly touching the CD in my pocket and thinking about what happened.

Fucking Angel. Just when I think I’ve got that bastard figured out, he turns around and changes on me. When we got there last night he just thanked Xander quietly for the books and gestured for me to precede him into his office. He stepped in after me and when I turned around; he shook my hand and smiled at me. Now, that was disconcerting. Then he asked me how I was doing. I’m sure I looked like a right idiot with my mouth hanging open, and then I smiled back at him and started having an actual conversation with the ponce. Stupid soul.

After a couple of minutes of that, I wound up telling him the whole story about the CD and wanting Xander and everything. I could have cheerfully strangled myself. And then that son of a bitch - God, I hate him – gave me advice. Jesus fucking Christ on a raft. I really am turning into "Souly McSoul". Red doesn’t think I know about that, but I do, and I’m gonna get her for it, too. But not right now, because she helped me out and didn’t ask too many questions along the way. Then I had to call Angel and get him to help me out. Someday I’m going to tell Xander what lengths I went to for him, and he’d better fucking appreciate it. Now, if the sun would fucking set already, I could put this plan in motion.





I knew it. God hates me. It’s ten minutes past sunset, and Giles just called and told me I have to go back to LA. It seems that he needs the books I took to Angel’s, plus a few more that Angel has and it’s terribly important and blah, blah, blah. And the kicker? I have to take Spike with me again. Is there a cosmic measure of the shit I have to take in a lifetime, and someone just took a peek at it and decided I was a quart low? I lay in that bed all night and all day, and I maybe slept an hour. I feel like hell, I seriously think my heart may be broken – which is stupid – and I don’t want to face Spike. I don’t know what I’m gonna see on his face, but I think that if he felt the same way about me he would have told me last night. Key in the door – shit, he’s home.

He just walked in the door, and he’s standing there looking at me. "You look rough," he said. Oh, look – it’s Understatement Man. "I feel rough," I croak, and then get up to go get a shirt. "You can sleep on the way to LA, if you don’t mind me driving the new car," he offers, and I take him up on it. I throw him the keys and go to pull myself together.

When I get down to the car, he’s already got the top down and the engine running. I get in and buckle up, then tilt the seat back. I’m asleep before we hit the highway. I wake up to him shaking my shoulder and we’re parked at Angel’s. We go in, get the books and Spike and Angel disappear into the office for about five minutes. I wait. Spike comes back out, and he looks funny. He looks nervous. While they were gone, I found Cokes in the fridge and drank two. I’m ready to drive home. We walk out to the car silently, and Spike gives me the keys when I hold out my hand. As soon as we get on the highway, he pulls a CD out of his pocket and puts it in the player. It looks just like my mix from last night – I didn’t notice him taking it. It starts to play, and it is the same disk. I have no idea what this means, but I sing along anyway, and so does Spike.





Coda

So, that’s the end of "I Will Be Your Slave". Here’s the big moment. I had Willow put in a longer pause between his last song and the one I added. She’s a handy little thing – she was able to copy his CD and add a song pretty quick. I owe her – mainly for not asking, even though she was curious. If this has the desired effect, it will be worth everything, though. Worth taking advice from Angel, worth asking Red for help and being nice to her girlfriend, worth spending a day on that wretched cot in Buffy’s basement.





Hey, there’s another song on here. I didn’t put another song on this CD. It’s pretty though – nice piano music. Hey – this is John Hiatt again.

"When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark
And have a little faith in me

And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try
And have a little faith in me

When your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
Come here darlin'
From a whisper start
To have a little faith in me

And when your back's against the wall
Just turn around and you will see
I will catch, I will catch your fall baby
Just have a little faith in me"

Oh. I don’t quite know what to do. What do you do when something you want so badly is right there in front of you, freely offered? He could have picked any song in the world – any "I wanna fuck you" or "let’s get it on" song, and he chose this. Since I have no idea what to do, and if I look at him I may embarrass myself or wreck the car, I think I’m just gonna do this one simple thing.

I’m going to reach out and take what’s offered. And then I did – I reached out and took his hand and held it, pulling him closer to me and resting our clasped hands on my thigh. His thumb started making little circular motions on the back of my hand, and I smiled into the wind.

"Have A Little Faith In Me" – John Hiatt




The End



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