It's Just a Jump to the Left

Kimberly A

3 Set It Right

The first time he'd found himself naked with Spike, Xander had been pretty damn freaked out. But now he felt almost…almost comforted by the fact that Spike was okay, and he was okay, and everything was happening exactly the way it had happened before. Nothing that had happened last time had hurt him, and he'd survived the experience, and so it really didn't seem quite so bad.

And, yes, a world in which I describe having Spike's dick up my ass as 'not so bad' is a world gone indescribably crazy.

Okay, so maybe naked romping with Spike was still more than a little disturbing, but it was infinitely less disturbing than both of them getting hacked to bits. There was a time, not all that long ago, when Xander would have sworn that he would rather die than have sex with Spike…but now he knew from experience that it was most definitely not true.

So he found himself much more rational this time. He was naked. Spike was naked. Naughty penetration was likely to happen soon. But Xander had other problems to think about.

Okay, have to think. What's going on here? What's the deal with the sex, then the dying, then the sex again? Are these nightmares? Am I having big time hallucinations? Am I actually really dead, and this really is hell?

But by that time, Xander had walked across the room and was kissing Spike, and the experience was just as distracting as it had been the first time. Spike's mouth was by far the most talented he'd ever kissed. Okay, so he hadn't kissed all that many, but you'd think a gaziliion-year-old vengeance demon would have learned a thing or two over the years. Maybe she'd been sort of hampered by the whole vengeance-against-men gig. It probably didn't really attract dates. Except, apparently, Xander. Huh. Well, he'd always had odd taste.

Spike's kisses were like nothing Xander had ever felt, as if their mouths were sliding against each other in an extremely pornographic dance. It was like having the hottest possible sex…with just your mouth. Xander could feel his cock rubbing against Spike's belly, brushing against Spike's cock occasionally in a touch that made his toes curl.

I was thinking about something. What was it? Damn…I can't remember…Oh god that feels good! Oh…I was thinking this might be hell. But…uh…if people get kissed like this in hell, then I wouldn't mind going. I mean, as long as it's girls I'd be kissing like this. Right.

Xander pulled away from the kiss to catch his breath, panting heavily, staring into Spike's eyes. And without the panic of last time, Xander noticed that Spike looked sort of strange. His face was all tight and his eyes were shiny. Spike raised his chin minutely, as if daring Xander to mock him for something.

Does he get a lot of people cutting him down after kisses like that? Man! No wonder I get so little play, if that's mock-worthy in today's market!

But now Xander was sliding down Spike's body, running his hands again over the familiarly muscular chest and stomach. Spike really was in good shape. As a guy, Xander could notice such things, without it being gay.

Of course, sucking on Spike's cock…well…that was arguably a little more into the 'gay' territory. But it was less scary the second time around. It still definitely gave him the wiggins, but it was a slightly less wiggy wiggins.

I can't believe I'm giving Spike a blow job again. Wasn't it enough I did this last time? And, you know, it's making my mouth sort of tired. Other than that, it's not so bad. I wonder why so many girls think it's gross. I mean, I hear that and read it in magazines and stuff…that's the problem with having friends who are girls. And I so do not think I'll be sharing this particular experience with them.

Being less distracted this time, Xander noticed that Spike's hips were making small bucks and thrusts whenever he fondled Spike's balls while sucking especially hard on his dick. And Spike moaned softly sometimes, too. That was kind of cool.

Not that I like giving him head, of course, but I guess at least it's kind of nice to know that I'm not terrible at it. Wait. That sounds kind of weird. Well, it would be sort of embarrassing to have repeated sex fantasies that involved me trying to give Spike head and him falling down laughing at me. Yeah. As far as sex nightmares go, this one's pretty tame. Or hallucinations. Yeah, probably a very vivid hallucination. Wait. Don't crazy people have hallucinations? Like…um…Son of Sam?

And then Xander was manhandled onto his knees on the fake Persian carpet and Spike was kneeling behind him. A burst of unexpected and utterly humiliating excitement hit Xander as he realized that Spike was just about to take hold of his cock.


And there it was, right on time, Spike's hand all slippery and tight on Xander's cock, stroking him slowly. Xander heard a moan come out of his own mouth. Yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking.

This time the wet touch against his asshole wasn't quite as much of a shock, but it still made something inside Xander squirm with nervous fear, though fear of what he wasn't sure. He did his best to think deep thoughts while Spike worked slick fingers inside him, firmly stroking his cock all the while.

It could be…uh…gah!…maybe I've gone crazy…oh! do that again! oh, right, he can't hear me…oh! but he did it again anyway! god!…maybe…it was all that…masturbation…unh! yeah!…aren't hallucinations a symptom?…oh god!…uh…my brain just couldn't…uh…uh…oh god!…yeah, maybe I'm…ready for the…oh sweet jesus…funny farm…

And then he couldn't think anymore, no matter how determinedly he tried, because Spike was inside him, Spike was fucking him and kissing him, and the kiss was even better than the one before, because it was softer without losing any of the urgency. Xander couldn't do anything except feel, with Spike in him everywhere, touching him, stroking him, making him feel…everything, all at once. It was as if he were drowning in sensations over which he had no control. He wondered what would happen if he were to come from this. Would his body come? Or would it just be him, in his thoughts?

Spike pressed into him a bit deeper and Xander arched his back, moaning, so close…so close…but then Spike's hand pressed too hard against Xander's head bump and Xander winced and thought, Youch!


"…worth listening to. Nothing but tripe now, though…lyrics like the worst kind of poetry, all simpering love-sick crap."

Xander nearly fell down, his body still reacting as if it were nearing orgasm, as if his limbs were all disjointed with passion. And his dick was undeniably very hard in his pants. As he stumbled, though, Spike stopped talking and caught his arm, keeping him from falling. Xander glanced around them in utter confusion, then looked directly at Spike, who was still holding his arm as if to steady him.

"What?" gasped Xander abruptly, still looking around. "What?" He just couldn't seem to find more words to express his confusion. He had died, and then had the sex hallucination again, just like it was before and making no more sense the second time around, and now he was back just walking along with Spike like nothing had happened? The insanity option was looking more and more likely. Xander hoped they had a nice padded room with cable TV. Maybe even pay-per-view.

"What're you asking, Harris?" Spike was looking at him uncertainly.

Xander looked around some more. Normal cemetery. Normal Spike…head attached…fully-clothed version. Nothing was weird. Nothing except Xander.

His voice quiet and uncertain, Xander asked slowly, "What just happened?"

Spike raised an eyebrow. "Nothin'. Just patrolling. Talking about that bloody Jonathan Richman. What, did my talk about his putrid poetry make you come over all sickly-like?" Spike smiled a sort of good-buddy kind of smile. But when Xander didn't laugh at the implied joke or respond in any away, Spike stopped smiling and just watched him with thinly-veiled concern, waiting.

Xander thought a long moment, aware of Spike standing impatiently, his head cocked to one side. Eventually, Xander looked up and said grimly, "Spike, I think I've gone crazy."

Spike raised both eyebrows in surprise. "Well!" he admitted with a sort of huff of breath. "Wasn't expecting that one."

"No, I'm serious. I might be a danger to self and others." Yeah, and I might spontaneously have butt sex with random hot vampires. I should be locked up to protect the innocent…and the evil…and my butt.

Once again, they weren't all that far from Spike's crypt when the rain started. Right on cue. Xander had decided that all of this – or something like it, anyway, but which made more sense – had probably really happened once, but his brain couldn't accept it all, and so he was just going around and around and around with these crazy thoughts. It must have been the sex. I must have had sex with Spike, and it drove me insane. Bats in the belfrey. They're coming to take me away, ha ha hee hee ho ho…

When they got inside the crypt, Xander stood dripping on the cement while Spike went downstairs. He reappeared a few moments later and threw a towel at Xander's head. It hit him smack in the face, and he pulled it down and glared at Spike, who was vigorously toweling his hair so that it stuck up in wet curls. Xander started drying his hair carefully, not wanting to press too hard on the bump he'd gotten earlier.

Tossing his towel onto the nearby chair, Spike took off his duster and draped it over a wall sconce. Then he abruptly stripped off his shirt and tossed it aside, beginning to towel off his naked upper body. Xander just stared at him.

This is exactly what he did last time! Everything exactly the same! Maybe the Spike sex drove me insane, and so I imagined the rest, and that's why it's all the same but weird. Maybe I only imagined getting him dusted, like revenge or something.

"Enjoying the show?" Spike's voice sounded amused, and Xander looked up in embarrassed surprise. Okay, so this time he actually hadn't been ogling the Spike nudity, so he shouldn't get mocked for it.

"I wasn't looking…" Xander started to say, but Spike interrupted him with a wave of his hand.

"Relax, Harris. I know you're not lusting after my luscious bod. Your loss." Spike grinned and kept toweling his hair and chest.

A long moment passed, during which Xander kept running over possible ways to begin explaining the problem to Spike, but every idea got discarded once it got past a certain point. He felt like he was panicking, but wasn't sure exactly why or what to do about it.

Well, you see, Spike, I keep seeing the same stuff over and over again, and none of it makes any sense. Thus far, I've seen two things twice: one is us here, and one is us rutting like crazed weasels on the floor of my bedroom. So what do you think it means?

Spike's voice interrupted his spinning thoughts. "I'm gonna go get into some dry clothes. Make yourself at home." Spike gestured to the chair and television. Xander nodded vaguely.

Vivid hallucinations. I'm having vivid hallucinations. Pretty soon I'll be talking to mailboxes and piling newspapers to the ceiling. My apartment could be like a newspaper maze. I suppose that could be sort of fun. Add a bit of adventure to every day. Being crazy might not be so bad. I'll bet it never gets boring. Especially if I'm going to keep having sex hallucinations. Because I might call those a lot of things, but I wouldn't call them 'boring.'

Spike came back up the stairs dressed in his usual uniform of black jeans, black T, and red shirt. But, lucky him, they were all dry. Xander shivered. The crypt really wasn't much warmer than outside in the rain.

"Storm should pass pretty quick," Spike said, walking over to the crypt door and peering out.

Xander nodded morosely. "That's what you said last time." His panic had distilled into something small and still and frightened. On its way to resigned, but not quite there yet.

"Last time?"

"Yeah, the last time we did this. Right before we died."

"Right before we…died." Spike's voice sounded awfully dubious on that last word.

"Yep. Died. We went walking out of here and ran into the demons and then I got my throat cut and you got your head torn off. It all pretty much sucked." Xander was still shivering. He wished Spike had a space heater or something.

"And you 'saw' this, did you? Like a vision?" Spike was eyeing Xander now with a familiar sort of speculation.

Xander walked away from the crypt door, holding his arms around himself and shivering slightly in his wet clothes. "I'm not your freaking Drusilla. I'm not some loony psychic vampire."

"No, of course you're not," Spike crooned comfortingly, but Xander only scowled, batting Spike away when he got too close and then scuttling to stand against the far wall.

Xander stared at Spike from across the room. "I told you I'm no longer riding the Sane Train. I don't know what happened, maybe it was the bump on the head," or the big gay vampire sex, "but I'm obviously looney tunes now."

Spike frowned. "I'm not so sure. There's a lot strange in the world, especially in the demon world. Tell me what you saw and I'll tell you what I think."

Xander sighed heavily. "Spike, I don't know what the hell's going on, but the only answer that makes any sense is that something funny is going on in my head."

Spike's face was unusually serious when he said, "Well, you're not bonkers, Harris. I'm infinitely well-acquainted with bonkers, and you're not it. Something insane might be happening, but you are not crazy."

Xander stilled, peering at Spike, waiting for the mockery. But it never came. "You really think so?"

Spike nodded.

Xander looked down at his feet and swore violently.

"What was that for?" Spike was clearly surprised at this reaction.

Shaking his head in frustrated anger, Xander explained, "Well, then, if I'm not crazy, then what about us both dying? It was real, Spike. It was real. I saw your head get torn off. I saw you turn to dust. Maybe we weren't friends to start with…okay, yeah, we were sort of enemies…but I've gotten used to having you around…you're probably the closest thing I have to a real friend lately…and I've gotten kind of used to having me around, too…and I don't want either of us getting murdered."

Spike looked a bit taken aback at this little speech. His eyes were a bit wide, his face almost slack with something that looked a bit vulnerable. Even during those difficult months of silence, Spike had always seemed a bit distant. Like he didn't want anyone to know what was going on inside his head. But right now, it was pretty clear that Spike was shocked at Xander's words. Xander felt a little bad that he hadn't said something before this.

So maybe I hadn't ever actually said that I consider Spike my friend, but it was pretty obvious, wasn't it? I mean, all these months of hanging and patrolling together, watching each other's backs. I mean, I don't suppose I'm much good at the back-watching thing, since I mostly get knocked down, but, still, I try. And there's the whole comfortable silence thing. You don't get that with just anybody. And he was going to teach me how to throw knives.

Spike cleared his throat and his face suddenly looked as blank and clear as usual. "Well, I'm not so easy to get rid of. Maybe somebody's projecting stuff into your mind. Making you doubt yourself, making you doubt me. Something like that. Maybe somebody wants you to think you're off your nut."

"But who would want that?"

"Don't know, do I? I'm just throwing out ideas for consideration." Spike collapsed into the room's only chair, dangling one leg casually over the arm. He pulled out his knife and began tossing it idly, looking deep in thought.

Xander shivered again in his wet clothes, pulling his t-shirt a bit away from his torso and trying to wring it out with little success. It would be easier if he just took it off, but…well…actually, there didn't seem to be much reason not to, considering that he'd already hallucinated sex with Spike twice. What's a little partial nudity between friends?

Stripping his wet t-shirt off over his head with a slick plop, rather like turning a plastic glove inside out, Xander tossed the shirt onto a small table near him, then began drying his chest and arms with the towel.

"Nice pecs," smirked Spike, probably just trying to mock him. But he'd stopped tossing the knife.

"Thanks," Xander replied distractedly. "I've been working out. So you think maybe somebody is putting these thoughts into my brain?"

"Dunno. It's possible. Don't have much information to work with, do I? Tell me about what you've been seeing and we can try to figure it out." Toss. Catch. Toss. Catch. Xander still wanted to learn how to do that, but it was not one of his top priorities at the moment.

"What do you want to know? Where do I start?"

"Well, you said I repeated myself earlier. So what else did I say 'last time'?"

"Um…let me remember. You said you would teach me how to throw knives, and you gave me a sort of first lesson…and we talked about…oh! Right! We talked about Jonathan Richman some more…and you said something like 'the punk and the poet are the same' or something weird like that."

Spike was suddenly rigid. The knife, strangely enough, clattered to the floor. Spike wasn't usually so uncoordinated. His voice was tense. "I said…what?"

Xander shrugged, "It's probably just my craziness talking, so you shouldn't get all freaked. But the way I remember it, you were acting really strange and you said something about 'the punk rocker and the sensitive poet' being not very different."

Spike was staring at Xander as if he'd grown slimy antlers on top of his head. Xander looked behind him, looked up. Nope. No antlers. "What? Why are you looking all weird again?"

Spike stood and turned his back, his head lowering. Xander didn't notice the muscles in his back. He really didn't.

When Spike was quiet for a long moment, Xander frowned. "Hey. What's the deal?"

Spike shook himself slightly and turned around, his face set in careful lines. "Nothing," Spike lied. Xander could tell he was lying. Spike was a shitty liar once you knew him. "So what else do you remember?"

"Look," Xander began in offended frustration, "I'm telling you all about my crazy thoughts. Not to mention the fact that I watched you die, and I'd always thought that would be one of my top ten fun things, but in fact it really really sucked and I hope I never see it again. And I told you that you're probably the best friend I have. I think I deserve a little respect in return. Or am I the only one who thinks we're friends?" Xander crossed his arms over his chest, still not wearing a shirt, but not particularly caring at the moment, because he was pissed.

It looked like Spike was gritting his teeth. A little muscle twitched in his jaw, and his eyes were dark and angry as he stared at Xander. "Fine," he spat out. "I was a poet."

Huh? Not what I was expecting him to say, not in a million years. Xander frowned and asked, "You were a poet? When?" Here we are in bizarro world again. Doesn't it look familiar? I think maybe I'm just going to start living here full-time.

Spike lifted his chin slightly, obviously waiting for the mockery. "When I was human. Wrote all manner of horrid doggerel."

"Um…doggerel? I'll assume that's a poetry thing? Probably nothing to do with dogs, right?"

Spike rolled his eyes and chuckled despite himself, which had been sort of what Xander was going for. It lessened the tension a bit. "It's shite poetry, Harris."

Xander nodded slowly. "So when you said whatever that was about the punk and the poet…you were talking about you?"

Spike sighed. "Yeah, probably."


"So I'd say it's unlikely you would have just imagined that. I probably actually said it."

"Anybody could have made up something about punks and poets. It's sort of alliterative, after all."

Spike shook his head, "But to imagine me saying it, and behaving strangely at the same time? No…that doesn't seem likely, and I've never told anyone about the poetry before, so no one else would know to put that in your head."

Xander stopped dead and stared at him. "You've never told anyone?"

Spike rolled his eyes. "Don't turn into a big girl and tell me how much that means to you, eh, Harris? 'Cause I had some blood recently and I'd rather not toss it on your shoes." Spike leaned over to pick up his knife, then sank gracefully into the chair again.

Fine. I won't say anything. But that doesn't change the fact that I feel sort of…honored…or something. It feels nice. Spike's my friend. He tells me secrets. Wow. A year or two ago, I never would have believed that would make me happy.

But Spike was all business. "What do you remember about these demon fellows?"

That certainly brought Xander's attention back to the matter at hand. "They were the same spiny demons from earlier tonight, but the little one had brought three new big ones with him, and they were massive. Really strong, too, apparently. The big guys beat you up pretty bad. The little one was the one who was after me, and he seemed like the boss of the others. He kept saying something about wanting to touch my jewels." Spike snorted in amusement. "Oh, ha ha, Spike. Let's see you laugh when a creepy demon with a knife is coming at you ranting about your jewels. It's not so funny then."

"I doubt they were after your precious stones, Harris. More likely there's an actual gem or two they're looking for. Sunnydale seems to have a lot of magical objects floating around, especially in these crypts. What exactly did he say about the jewels?"

"He said I'd touched them…but I don't remember touching any jewels…oh, he also said something about my heart and his hand. I didn't really understand it all."

"Not much information to go on. You couldn't have listened a bit closer, could you? This sort of stuff is a bit important, especially when it means my head getting torn off."

"Well, they were trying to kill me. I sort of had a lot on my mind. I don't really think very well during a fight."

"We've all seen the proof of that often enough."

"Shut up."

Spike was quiet, seeming to be thinking about something. Then he looked at Xander, but seemed distracted. "Some demons can cause distortions in time," he mused. "It's possible that's what these demons are doing, perhaps even unintentionally. Just by having contact with them, you might be getting caught up in some kind of time loop or something."

Xander frowned. He noticed he'd been doing that a lot during this conversation. "But then why aren't you seeing the looping, too? You had contact with them the same as I did."

Spike's answer was thoughtful. "I don't know. Maybe it's only the little one who has the time effect."

Without thinking, Xander continued, "That wouldn't explain the other…uh…" he slowed down, realizing that he really did not want to discuss the other…thing…

"Doesn't explain the other what?" asked Spike.

Xander looked around, saw his t-shirt, and picked it up, beginning to wring it out vigorously.

"Doesn't explain the other what?" repeated Spike, refusing to be ignored.

Staring at the wet t-shirt in his hands while he twisted it and sent water pouring to the floor, Xander muttered, "Other hallucinations." He glanced at Spike nervously, and saw him leaning forward curiously.

"What other hallucinations?"

Xander found himself heartily regretting ever starting this entire conversation and frantically tried to think of something to say which would allow him to deflect Spike's questions without actually telling the truth. How about vagueness? Would vagueness work?

"Okay, after I saw us both die, then I had this other…hallucination…before I ended up back in the cemetery talking to you again." Xander bit his lip. He hoped he wasn't blushing.

"What sort of hallucination? Were the demons involved?"

Xander concentrated harder on wringing out his shirt, though it had probably lost as much water as it was going to. It was still pretty wet, but wringing wasn't accomplishing anything anymore, except to give him something to do with his hands. Well, there was one demon involved, but not like you mean.

Xander just shook his head, his eyes looking everywhere but at Spike. "No. It was…at my apartment. I was…doing stuff there. And then all of a sudden I was back here again."

Spike's eyes had narrowed now, as if he sensed that Xander was hiding something. "You know I'm too stubborn to let it go, brat. May as well just tell me now."

Xander pulled his damp shirt over his head and pulled it down with some difficulty. It was all wrinkly and the wet cloth didn't want to slide easily over his skin, but he would really rather not be bare- chested for this conversation. "Well, I was here in the cemetery, with you, and then I had this weird vision where I was at my house, and then all of a sudden I was back here again, and then we got killed, and then I was back at my house again, and then I was here again, and now here we are." Xander realized he'd been babbling like a crazy person. Hmm. Maybe the insanity theory was still viable.

Spike took a deep breath and then spoke very very slowly. "What. Happened. At. Your. Apartment?"

Xander squirmed. At least, he thought he squirmed. He felt like he squirmed. He felt decidedly squirmy. Was this what Spike felt like when he was hounding him about the poet thing? Well, hell, Spike could step up to the plate…so could he. Xander's voice was abrupt in the silence. "Sex."

Spike's eyebrows went up immediately. "Sex? So you had a little vision of both of us dying, then took a bit of a psychic break to get your end away before popping back here?"

Xander's voice was quiet now. "Sort of."

"Sex with who?"

Xander squeaked. He knew he squeaked. He couldn't help it. He squeaked, "What?"

"No, the question is 'who'. Although I suppose it could be a 'what', if you're into creatures of indeterminate gender." Spike was smirking uncontrollably now. The smirks were just all over the place, taunting Xander, making him want to flee.

"None of your business!" Xander replied, and he sounded about four years old, but he didn't care.

Spike nodded slowly, a calculating look in his eye. "Demon girl?" he guessed, watching Xander's face closely. "One of the witches?" Suddenly Spike's face became harder as he hissed, "The Nibblet?"

That one make Xander jump. "Jeez, Spike! No! I would never have sex with Dawn, not even in a hallucination! It would be like…um…incest! And pedophilia! Incestual pedophilia!"

Spike was still watching him appraisingly. Then he grinned. "Both the witches at once?"

And that one made Xander blush, because, okay, so he'd had a fantasy about that once or twice. But Spike seemed to think he'd hit upon his answer, because he relaxed and stopped staring at Xander so intently. He just lounged in the chair, grinning evilly.

Xander cleared his throat. "Shouldn't we be focusing on the demons who want to kill us? Because if this is some kind of 'time distortion' thing, and we showed up here again, then aren't they out there again, too?"

That wiped the grin off Spike's face. "Good point. But the time distortion idea doesn't really work well with this little three-way nooner you have going on between. Perhaps it isn't a simple time loop, but something more complicated."

Xander just listened, nodding as if he understood. It sounded a little bit like the time-looping in the movie Groundhog Day, except that the sex stuff in his apartment just didn't fit in at all. So maybe it wasn't a time loop at all. But what else could it be?

Spike suddenly shrugged. "If it's a time distortion, and the demons are doing it, then we just need to kill 'em and it'll go away." He smiled, pleased with the simplicity – and violence – of his solution.

"Just kill them," Xander repeated.

"Yep," replied Spike happily.

"Just kill the guys who dusted you and slit my throat. Just like that."

"Yep. Let's get ourselves some weapons." And with that, Spike bustled downstairs where he apparently kept his weapons chest. Xander stood without moving. Just kill them. Oh, yeah. I'm sure that'll be easy. He shuddered, remembering the feel of the knife against his throat, remembering the sight of Spike suddenly disappearing into dust.

Spike came back up with a couple of large axes. "These should do the trick. I already fought one of these guys earlier tonight, so I have a bit of a feel for how tough they are. I'm sure they just caught us by surprise."

Xander was nodding, but he wasn't nearly as confident as Spike. He took one of the axes and leaned it over his shoulder to balance the weight. While Spike was still busy putting on his duster, Xander walked toward the door and noticed the silence.

"Um, Spike? When did it stop raining?"

"Dunno. Why?" And then Spike was opening the door and stepping outside. As Xander stepped out after him, he saw Spike being set upon by three very large, muscular spiny demons, and a small demon stood only a few yards from the crypt door, watching Xander gleefully.

"You have been touched by the Jewel," Little Creepy Guy said. "And you shall lead me to it."

Oh fuck! They're here! They're here already! He noticed Spike swinging ferociously with his axe, surrounded by the three hulking spiny demons. I've never been much good at thinking when someone's trying to kill me, but Spike said it was important. So remember it! This guy said I was 'touched by the jewel' and that I would 'lead him to it.' Might be important. Remember!

The little demon reached out to grasp Xander's neck and pulled him from the crypt doorway, Xander's axe falling useless to the muddy ground. The demon turned him easily so that his arm wrapped across Xander's chest and kept him immobilized, facing away so that his throat was fully bared. Not far away, Xander could see Spike fighting desperately, one of the large demons apparently dead on the ground, one of the others clearly weakening. The third demon, though…that one looked as strong as ever, but Spike was clearly hurt. Xander watched with growing horror.

"You have been touched by the Jewel," small demon guy said from behind him, speaking almost into Xander's ear. "And when I hold your heart beating in the palm of my hand, you shall lead me to the power I seek."

And then the knife was rising, shining silver in the moonlight, and Xander's thoughts were racing. I have to remember what he said! Memorize it! He wants to hold my heart beating in the palm of his hand. It'll lead him to the power he seeks. I have to remember. Spike told me. I have to remember. And then the knife was at his throat, touching him so very gently, and Xander saw Spike start to run toward him, saw him stopped by the remaining two demons, saw the stronger demon raise up Spike's own axe and swing, saw Spike's face staring at him suddenly turn to ash. Somewhere during that time, the knife had slid along Xander's throat, and he found himself thinking crazily, Is that Spike's knife? Or did these guys bring their own this time? and then his eyes closed.


Xander opened his eyes to see a naked Spike standing very close to him, looking very pissed off. But he was alive. Or undead. Or whatever you wanted to call it. Xander was alive and Spike was un-dust, and that made Xander want to whoop aloud with happiness. But, of course, he couldn't, because he was back in the strange sex scene where he was only able to watch and feel. He couldn't actually change anything.

Hey! But I can change things in the other reality. So if it's really a time loop, which is looking pretty likely, then I can make things different! Maybe I'm like Sam on Quantum Leap, jumping around in time in order to 'set right what once went wrong'. Hey! That would make a lot of sense, since I saw us die! Maybe I'm going back in time to make that not happen, so that we both live! But…uh…what does that have to do with the butt sex?

Pissed-off Spike was now on the other side of the room, standing beside the bed. "Got any lube?" he asked abruptly, his face tense and angry. But Xander thought Spike's expression was a little bit like when he talked about being a poet. Like he was waiting for Xander to get in a cheap shot.

Xander heard himself say, "In the cabinet by the bed," and for the first time noticed that his voice was quiet and firm and sort of…gentle. Maybe reassuring?

Don't I have enough to worry about with homicidal demons apparently fucking me up in time…now I have to worry about me fucking up Spike's sensitive feelings, too? Not to mention the actual literal fucking. What the hell is going on around here? And how can I get back to my normal life? Where, admittedly, there has been very little fucking for quite a while now. But this is all too weird and I don't want to die again and I just want to go home. I hope this time around I can fix whatever's wrong and stop all the craziness. No more sex with Spike. 'Cause that's crazy.

And he and Spike must have said things to each other while Xander was busy thinking, because now he was walking across the room and he knew that in a moment he would be kissing Spike and in some very secret, private part of himself he admitted that…well…he actually wouldn't mind doing this part again.

4 The Details

Xander had decided that Spike was right. The only way to find out what was going on and how to fix it was to start paying attention to the details. Even here, in the bedroom, naked with Spike, he needed to try to figure out what was happening. There was no way he was going to discuss this particular stuff with Spike, but at least he could try to figure things out for himself. So he tried to notice details.

Like Spike's hair. As Xander walked across the room toward him, he noticed that Spike's hair was soft and fluffy. It looked like it didn't have any gel in it at all. Xander had never seen it so soft-looking. Sort of like a baby chick or something.

Heh. Spike looks all cute and fluffy. Well, except for that whole scowling thing he's got going on. Maybe a sort of evil baby chick.

When they began kissing, when Spike's tongue was exploring his mouth and his tongue was exploring Spike's, Xander distantly noticed that Spike's mouth tasted like Aquafresh.

What are the chances he uses the same toothpaste as me? Well, maybe he thinks striped toothpaste is cool, too. Because…hey…stripes! Neat!

And then Xander stopped noticing much of anything except Spike's tongue for a while. Though there did seem to be infinite things to notice about it. For example, it was wicked. Xander had never used that word honestly before – he'd only used it in a joking way, like "I shall have my wicked way with you!" – but Spike's tongue was definitely wicked. It made Xander want things. He couldn't even quite imagine all the things it made him want, but it made him want. Kissing Spike made Xander want to cling to him and do every secret thing he'd ever had a wet dream about, every private shameful thing he'd ever fantasized about in the shower or in the dark in his bed. Spike's kiss, Spike's tongue, Spike's lips…they made Xander weak. And they made him feel…wicked.

I've never felt wicked before. Well…maybe when I was possessed by the hyena, but that doesn't really count, because it wasn't really me. I just…I guess I'm not a wicked guy, as a rule. Now, Spike…he's a wicked guy. Even now that he's not so evil, he's still got that sexy wicked thing going on. Not that I ever noticed that he was sexy. And I think I'm fine in the sex department, too. I just, I've had sex lots of times, but it wasn't wicked sex. I never felt like this…like…an animal…desperate…hungry. I want. I want and want and want. I want to pull Spike down on the ground and hold on tight to his hair so he can't move and then I want to bite his stomach muscles and just do very nasty things to him.

Okay…wait…maybe this whole 'noticing the details' thing would work better if I stick with the external stuff. Yeah. Good. Right. Ahem.

As Xander slid slowly down Spike's body, his fingers trailed curiously along Spike's chest and stomach, and he felt Spike's stomach tremble slightly at the touch. He tried not to think about what it would be like to test his teeth against those muscles. Instead, his nose close to Spike's skin, Xander noticed that Spike smelled faintly like Irish Spring.

Huh. What are the chances that he uses the same toothpaste as me and the same soap? I think we'll have to assume that Spike has showered here. Why? When? I mean, is this next year sometime, after I've had some kind of spontaneously gay life change…and Spike has stopped overusing hair products? Or is this something that could happen, but needs to be prevented? Or…oh my god…is this something that needs to happen in order for the time loop thing to stop?

Sucking on Spike's cock was less traumatic each time. Xander found that knowing what was going to happen next made the whole experience less frightening and…well, in all honesty, pretty interesting. And the fact that none of it had any lasting effects, since Spike never remembered any of it, eradicated any anxiety.

In fact, he found himself occasionally frustrated with his inability to control his own movements. While they'd been kissing, he'd wanted to slide his fingers into that fluffy yellow hair and hold Spike's head closer to him. While he had Spike's cock in his mouth, he wanted to repeat everything he did that made Spike gasp or shiver or suddenly clench his fists.

It wasn't like he would want to do any of this stuff in real life. But it was like a fantasy. You can do anything you want in a fantasy, and no one has to know. It doesn't mean anything. It's just in your head.

When Spike pushed him down onto his hands and knees on the fake Persian rug, Xander noticed a pile of clothes over by the door to the living room. And tossed off to one side was his gray t-shirt with the Babylon 5 logo on the front. The t-shirt he'd put on under his work shirt this morning. The t-shirt he'd been wearing when he was walking through the cemetery with Spike when they got killed.

Oh fuck! So this is the same day! Well, I do wear that t-shirt sometimes, so it isn't a guarantee, but it would be a pretty freaky coincidence otherwise. So…this is the same day! But where does this fit in? We just swing by my apartment for a quicky before running back out to get hacked up by monsters? This makes no sense!

But now Spike was fucking him again. Fucking him and kissing him and Xander thought, My neck should really hurt, turning at this angle to look back at him, but it doesn't. Maybe that's because he's holding my head in his hand. Or maybe it's because nothing hurts much when everything else is feeling this good.

And then the hand on Xander's head pressed just a bit too hard, making the bump throb, and Xander winced and thought, Youch!


"…worth listening to. Nothing but tripe now, though…lyrics like the worst kind of poetry, all simpering love-sick crap."

Xander stumbled – that transition always seemed to leave him disoriented – and found his erection (thankfully) wilting almost immediately at the realization that he was now back in the reality where he was likely to meet up with throat-slitting demons.

"Okay, fuck this!" spat Xander, his hands clenched in frustrated fists. "I am sick and tired of getting killed in this fucking place!"

Spike had stopped walking, his knife still held ready to continue tossing. He looked bemused at Xander's sudden outburst.

"And put that fucking knife away!" Xander insisted, rubbing his throat nervously. "It's freaking me out."

Spike raised an eyebrow and tucked the knife away somewhere inside his coat, watching Xander as if certain the boy had suddenly lost his senses.

"We need to get to the crypt right away," Xander said, looking nervously around the cemetery.

Spike asked gently, "My crypt?" His voice was slow and patient, as if he were speculating on the state of Xander's sanity. He sounded like he was talking to a rabid dog…or maybe a sniper with a gun on the bell tower. Or maybe he'd just talked to Dru like this all the time.

Xander exhaled noisily. "No. Napoleon's crypt! Yes, your crypt, bloodbreath. It's the only place nearby where we can talk with at least a little bit of privacy."

"Oookay," Spike's voice was still smooth and soothing. "Why'd we be needing privacy, ducks?"

"I have to tell you a lot of stuff and we have to figure out what to do so we don't both get killed." Xander knew he was talking too fast, but being back in the cemetery and having everything be just the same as it was right before he'd died…twice…well…it was a bit disconcerting, to say the least.

As they walked toward the crypt, Xander commented, "We'd better hurry before it starts raining."

Spike patted Xander's arm in an excruciatingly patronizing manner and assured him, "No chance of rain tonight, luv."

Xander rolled his eyes and just pulled on Spike's arm determinedly. "I don't like to be wet."

They were only a few yards from the crypt door when the rain starting pouring down. Spike stopped right where he was and stared in shock at Xander, the water drenching them both. After a moment, Spike seemed to remember himself and bolted through the door into the dry crypt with Xander right behind him.

Xander was standing a little ways inside the crypt, grumbling to himself. "I fucking hate being wet. And I fucking hate getting killed. And I hate this whole fucking thing and I just want a beer and a pizza and a hot shower and my nice warm bed."

At that, Xander pulled his soaked t-shirt over his head and began vigorously wringing it out. "Okay, we don't have much time. We have to figure out what to do."

Spike walked slowly past Xander, further into the crypt, and stood next to the armchair, his eyes watching the boy closely. "How'd you know it was going to rain, Harris?"

Xander exhaled in frustration again. "Because I'm stuck in some kind of fucking time loop and I've been here twice before. Why don't you go ahead and go downstairs to change into dry clothes, then bring me a blue towel and throw it at my face, eh?"

Spike frowned in confusion. But he nodded slightly – he didn't like wet clothes any better than Xander did – and went downstairs, trusting that the Scooby nutjob wouldn't run out on his own before Spike got back.

Xander continued to wring out his t-shirt until it seemed about as dry as it was going to get. He draped it across a wall sconce to let it air-dry a bit more before he had to put it back on, and then he threw himself down in Spike's chair, letting one of his legs dangle over the arm.

Huh. This is pretty comfortable, actually. No wonder he always sits like this.

When Spike emerged from the downstairs, he noticed Xander bare- chested in his chair and raised an eyebrow. He threw a towel at him, though it hit Xander in the chest instead of the face.

"Your aim's off this time, Spike," Xander ribbed him.

Spike smirked and ribbed back, "Must have been distracted by all your tasty manflesh on display."

Okay, that had Xander blushing, which had probably been Spike's intention, but for different reasons. He began vigorously drying his chest and hair, not meeting Spike's gaze.

Xander cleared his throat. "Back to the important stuff. We need to figure out how to not get killed and how to fix this time looping stuff. Any ideas?"

Spike leaned against a low windowsill lined with candles and asked, "What the bloody hell are you talking about? You haven't made a lick of sense since you started babbling about all this time stuff."

Xander took a deep breath and forced himself to slow down. Of course this Spike didn't know anything about the situation. So he explained. The little demon from earlier in the night. Its gigantic new friends. Them taking Spike's head off. Them slitting Xander's throat. The whole being dead problem. And then the whole thing starting again. He left out the sex. Didn't seem important. At all.

Spike's face didn't look promising. Xander could tell he didn't believe him, so he just kept talking. Maybe Spike would understand eventually. "The last time, you said that some demons can sort of mess with time. And maybe that's what was happening here, and if we killed the demons, then it would solve the problem."

Spike's eyes lit up then. "Dunno about all this time crap, but I'm all for killing stuff. Let's get some weapons." Spike started to head downstairs, but Xander stopped him.

"Last time, we took weapons, and we still got our asses kicked. Well…I mean…our heads…sort of off. So I think we need to look at this more closely. They never attack before the rain starts or while the rain is still falling. At least, the past two times that's been true. They attack after the rain. The time when we left the crypt right when the rain stopped, the demons caught us almost at the entrance to the cemetery. But the time when we stayed here even after the rain stopped, they eventually came here to get us."

Spike was frowning in thought now. Xander didn't know if he believed about the time looping, but he was willing to plan a good attack.

"So," Spike mused, "we might be able to catch them unawares while it's still raining. If we can find them. What sorts of weapons are they using?"

And so they talked logistics for several minutes and eventually came up with a plan to take not only the axes from before but also some smaller knives. Spike stashed many of the weapons in pockets and through loops inside his coat, but he gave Xander two of the knives, as well, then gave him a cursory lesson in how to throw a knife in a fight, though the likelihood that such a brief introduction would be enough to really improve Xander's aim seemed slim.

"Oh!" Xander suddenly remembered just before they were going to leave the crypt into the still-pouring rain. "Last time, you told me to listen to what the demons were saying. The little guy said that I had touched the jewel and I would lead him to it. He also said that when he held my heart beating in his hand, I would lead him to the power he seeks."

Spike nodded pensively. "So he's after some kind of powerful artifact, and thinks you can take him to it. That explains why they're after you. They probably don't give a toss for me, then, except that I'm in their way."

Xander gulped, wondering if he should tell Spike to stay behind, so that they wouldn't both get killed, but he just wasn't that selfless. He knew he couldn't beat the demons by himself.

Spike had been watching Xander's face, and smiled slightly. Xander didn't know if Spike had been able to tell what he was thinking, but suddenly he was feeling the buddy vibe, so he smiled back. Spike came up, clapped an arm around Xander's shoulders, and said, "Let's go kick some demon ass."

Of course, it didn't end up being quite that easy. The fight took a bit longer this time, and Spike injured all three of the huge demons pretty badly. Xander actually had a chance to throw a knife, but it bounced harmlessly off the forehead of the small demon who was walking toward him. In fact, it only seemed to piss the little guy off. He grabbed Xander and turned him, just as he had the other times, so that Xander faced away from him, faced Spike battling the other demons.

The creepy little guy said all the same things as before, and Xander tried to memorize them even more clearly. He also tried to memorize everything he could about what the demons looked like – yellow eyes, slit pupil, no nose, sharp teeth – hoping desperately that some of this information might somehow help them next time. Because by this point he knew that this time around was probably a loss.

"You have been touched by the Jewel," the creepy demon murmured to him as the knife lifted so that Xander could see it shining silver in the moonlight. He once again found himself wondering crazily, Is that one of Spike's knives? Is he going to kill me with one of Spike's knives? Because Spike would be so pissed. "And when I hold your heart beating in the palm of my hand, you shall lead me to the power I seek." Xander once again repeated over and over and over again in his mind exactly what the demon had said. Spike had said it could be important, and he trusted Spike. How weird was that, that he trusted Spike? But he did. Even before all this happened. He trusted Spike.

Spike who was over there fighting three huge demons. For him. For Xander. Spike knew he might die, but he came anyway. Xander felt himself suffused with gratitude, remembering a million good things about Spike. His friend.

But those thoughts had all passed in the space of a moment, and the knife was now at Xander's throat, and Spike was racing toward him, vamping out, shouting something, but it all seemed unreal. The knife against Xander's neck was just a gentle touch, and its smooth travel across didn't seem very terrible at all. But now the wetness was flowing down Xander's chest – he thought vaguely, This bastard ruined my Babylon 5 shirt – and Spike was tearing at the demons who had caught him, he was raging at them with fists now – they must have taken his weapons – and it all seemed in slow motion as Spike looked over at Xander at the last moment, and his face was human again and his eyes were wide and seemed to glisten with tears – though that could have been the moonlight – and Xander didn't even see what happened…his vision was getting dark and fuzzy…but then Spike was gone and there were only demons and Xander felt like he just wanted to sleep, and there was a buzzing, sort of like the static on the TV late at night, and Xander was so very tired that he just closed his eyes.


When he opened his eyes to Spike naked in front of him, looking decidedly pissed off, Xander wanted to throw his arms around him and sob. Sob because Spike wasn't dust. Sob because Xander wasn't dead. Sob because Spike had been a good friend to him and he'd never even thanked him and maybe now it was too late because they were both just going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. Sob because Spike had gone up against the demons with him, even when he didn't have to. Sob because Spike had come running to try to save him when the creepy demon had him, even though the big demons were right on his tail.

Basically, Xander just wanted to throw his arms around Spike and feel the realness of him, the solidness, the here-ness. He didn't care that they were both naked. Faced with being dead, being naked seemed pretty fucking unimportant.

For the first time, Xander understood a little bit of what Anya had meant about death making her want to do something about creating life. He still didn't want to make babies – he still felt sorry that he couldn't be that for Anya, but it just wasn't what he wanted – he still didn't want that, but he did want to be close to Spike, to sort of revel in their non-deadness.

So this time he didn't try to catalogue details. He didn't try to memorize information for future use in fixing the time loop problem. This time, he just let himself be glad that Spike and he were both alive, that they had the option to do this, that they could do things that felt good, that they could be close to each other, that it wasn't too late for them to say the things that Xander suddenly felt like he wanted to say. Not that he loved Spike, necessarily, but that he liked Spike, that he was grateful for everything Spike had done, that he was sorry for having been a prick sometimes, that he wanted Spike for his friend, that he was goddamn fucking TIRED of watching Spike get killed, because somewhere along the way, Spike had become someone who mattered. He might have seemed invisible, silently folded in on himself in all these months since Buffy died, but Xander had been right there with him, and they'd had that companionable silence that Xander thought meant they were in this together, that they understood each other somehow, and somehow Xander had ended up caring. He'd ended up not fucking wanting Spike to die!

So on the outside, Xander kissed Spike, sucked him off, got down on his knees for Spike's cock…on the outside it all probably looked the same. But on the inside, Xander was wanting to grab on to Spike's body, push and pull and squeeze and grip him, make sure he was really there, he was really whole and okay and there.

He kissed Spike the same as before, but on the inside he was thinking, You were dead…I saw you die…you bastard…I saw you die! I don't ever fucking want to see anything like that again. You are too fucking tough to die. His tongue was tangling with Spike's, their thrusts hard and hungry, but Xander was reveling in the taste and feel and sounds, not caring if this was a hallucination, not believing – really – that it was. It was like some kind of respite, some kind of reward for putting up with the hell of watching Spike die over and over again.

On some level, Xander knew he'd probably be embarrassed for this rush of emotion later, but right now it didn't matter. No one would ever know. And right now he needed this…this drowning in the realness of Spike and of himself. He needed it to comfort himself. Because if he had another round of demon death coming up, then this was something to appreciate and hang onto as long as possible.


Unfortunately, the next few times around were much the same. Xander developed a sort of brief summary to try to catch Spike up to speed each time. Spike was always dubious, but the prospect of killing demons always perked him up. Xander stuck to Spike's initial theory that the demons themselves were causing the time looping, and that they therefore needed to kill the demons to set everything right.

Unfortunately, killing the demons was turning out to be more difficult than it sounded.

They tried all different approaches: going after them in the rain, going after them before the rain, waiting in the crypt until long after the rain had let up, walking different routes through the cemetery, bringing various different combinations of weapons, pretty much everything they could think of. And each time, Xander had to tell Spike which options they'd already tried, before they could start brainstorming a new approach.

One time, Spike came up with an elaborate plan, full of camouflage and dodges and feints and fake-outs and surprise attacks. They'd both ended up just as dead as before.

Another time, Spike had come up with a plan that required Xander to throw knives, since he had gotten very slightly better at it after trying repeatedly. Spike gave him a bit more training in preparation. But that plan didn't work so well, either, since the little guy turned decidedly mean upon finding a knife protruding from his shoulder.

Around and around and around they went. And every time, Xander had the sex hallucination in between. And every time, the sex seemed less strange, less uncomfortable, less embarrassing. He sort of forgot that "gay" should be something to be ashamed of. He didn't really think anymore about the fact that this was sex with a guy. It was just…Spike. And every time he saw Spike die, he felt just a little more happy to see Spike alive again. The whole "gay" thing just seemed…stupid. Irrelevant.

Xander had lost count of how many times he'd seen them both die. Maybe a dozen? Maybe more? He was sitting in Spike's armchair with his head in his hands, thinking as hard as he could. They'd tried everything they could think of. They needed something completely different.

He leaned back and laid his head on the chair back, staring up at the cobwebby ceiling. He knew Spike was standing nearby, but they hadn't spoken for a few minutes now, both thinking. And then suddenly it hit him. Xander knew what they needed to do.

"Okay. Fuck trying to fight them," he said grimly. "That isn't working, and I'm really tired of getting my throat cut. It's time to pull out the big guns."

Spike's face lit up eagerly. "Flame throwers? I don't have one here, but I can get one…"

"No, not flame throwers," Xander interrupted, and then explained with one determined word: "Willow."

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