Third in the Xander's Curse!verse

Pairing: Xander/Spike  (implied)
Prompt: Week #7 – The early bird catches pneumonia
Warnings: language, implied slash
Rating: Safe/PG
Summary: Willow arrives in Africa, but can she help Xander?

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the BtVS characters. I am just dressing them up and making them play around a bit. It's free for all to enjoy, and fun - please don't sue.

The Ring

C. Woodhaven

Xander paced around the suite for what seemed the millionth time.  He knew he should have gone with Spike, but he had been afraid that even this late at night there would be too many people at the airport.  

Like so much of Africa, it wasn’t too safe in Maputo anywhere, ever.  Instability seemed a part of everyday life.  He didn’t want to risk the ire of overzealous security guards, militiamen or any paranoid policemen on their errand, so he had remained behind.

The trek south through Mozambique to get here had been perilous to say the least.  Night was when the criminal element was heavily active, but Xander was unwilling to travel during the day without Spike as a backup.  So they risked night travel, but compromised by taking the trip in short bursts, and keeping to the most populous areas.    

On Xander’s millionth-and-one trip around the suite, he looked angrily at the plant in the corner.  What kind of self respecting hotel put a live plant in its guest suites?  The cost of maintaining it alone was ridiculous, what with the watering and the pruning.  Plastic was much more economical.  He really would be doing the hotel a favor by helping them get rid of it.  

He pulled off a glove, and reached for the plant, snatching it back at the last second.  What the hell was he thinking?  He wasn’t really even hungry.  He and Spike made sure that he had eaten just before they got to the city.  

He angrily put the glove back on, and threw himself on the couch.  If they didn’t get back soon, he was going to do something harsh…like sit here in the room and continue to get angry.  

Just when he was about to get up and begin pacing again, he heard them fumbling to get the key in the door.  

He bolted up off the couch and turned to face the door just as it opened.  And there she was, like a ray of strawberry sunshine.

“Hey, Will,” he said, his throat tight.

She ran to him, like old times, intent on giving him a hug.  He swiftly backed up and ended up bumping into the end table, and falling flat on his ass.

Spike grabbed Willow from behind to kept her from trying to help him up. “Not safe, witch.”

As soon as Spike ascertained that she was no longer in danger of becoming Xander’s late night snack, he released her and went to help Xander up.

Willow paled. “Oh, Xander, I’m so sorry. I didn’t forget, it’s just...I lost my head.”

“Almost lost more than that, Red,” Spike said contemptuously.  

“It’s ok, Will.  You know what they say: the early bird gets pneumonia,” he said attempting to laugh.  His hands were shaking though, so he gripped his shoulders tightly, hoping she wouldn’t see.  “So how was the flight?”

“Long, cramped and stinky,” she said wrinkling her nose. “You know there were perks to being evil, teleporting being one of them.”  

“Yeah, but that whole ‘go straight to hell, do not pass go’ clause really sucks,” Xander replied smiling.

She laughed and nodded.  “You sure you’re ok?” she asked seriously.

“Been better.  But now that you’re here, I’m hoping that you’ll have that extra-special-y bit of good news that I’ve been waiting for,” he said unable to suppress a hopeful grin.

She didn’t even have to speak, her face crumpled.

“Hey, no big,” he said shrugging.  Spike laid a hand on his lower back, knowing that the comfort of touch meant more to Xander than words.

“So far there’s no way to remove it, not without killing you,” she said, sadly.  Then her face brightened, “Ooh, but I brought you this!”  

She reached in her pocked and pulled out a ring, holding it out in her palm.  It appeared to be gold, and had a large gaudy purple stone set into it.

“Um, Will, I hate to tell you this, but I’m already flush with tacky hand bling, thanks.”  

She laughed, and said, “No, it’s magicked to block your destructo touch .” She frowned, “Wait, you think it’s tacky?”

“Back up a minute, what do you mean block?” Xander asked, hope beginning to bloom in his chest.

“Just what I said, if you wear it, you can be touchy-feely Xander again.” She grinned.

He turned to look at Spike.  “Would you?” he asked.

“Sure, love.”

Spike walked over to Willow and took the ring gingerly out of her hand and brought it to Xander.

Xander took off his gloves so he could put it on and looked at the thing in awe.  He slid it on his finger and expected it to tingle or something, but it felt like a normal ring.  If normal rings were hideously ugly.  

“Now what?” he asked.

Willow opened her arms to give him a hug.  

He shook his head. “Uh-uh…no, not taking a chance with you, Wills.”

He turned to look at the stupid potted plant that had been taunting him.  He walked over and tentatively put a finger on a single leaf.  


He closed his eye just as he felt tiny arms circle his waist and squeeze.  Willow-scent surrounded him, as he felt her lay her head against his back.  

Xander gingerly lay his arms over hers, stroking the living flesh under his exposed fingertips in wonder.  He looked at Spike and smiled, tears welling up in his eye.  

“It’s not perfect, and there’s stuff we need to go over, but it’s something,” she said, her voice muffled against his shirt.

As the tears spilled over and ran down his cheek, he whispered, “Thank you.”

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