Part Eleven   How Far

Spike continued to sit in his not really dark seat, amazed that Xander had been able to both anticipate and assuage his fears.  Not with condescension or derision, but by explaining his own fears and not being afraid of them.  Just like he always was, fearless in that scared out of his mind way that he had.

Once he would have berated himself for having fears of a relationship with a human-- for wanting a relationship with a human.  In the more recent past, he would have berated himself for having fears, period.  The Big Bad did not have fears, not even of scientists and too- white cells, or dank little caves in Africa.  Nightmares did not mean fears.  Now, he wasn't the Big Bad anymore.  Just bad.  A Bad Thing with a century and a half of horrible acts behind him.  He was berating himself for still being unalive.  There was rarely room for the thoughts of touching someone that way again.  It had gotten better, his foray into madness and move from the mouth of Hell helping to ease the transition. Xander had helped, which in and of itself was scary and fear inducing.

He told himself that it was over and there was nothing he could do, no matter what the voices told him, that could change it. He told himself that he was strong and the guilt was something he could deal with.  Everything he had done was, if not forgettable, and he had made sure nothing he did was forgettable, it was forgivable, by someone.

Except the acts that had driven him to seek the soul.

There was still so much he didn't understand, so much that had been wrong.  The only thing he knew for sure is that every time he had touched Buffy she had gotten worse and he should never touch anyone again.

Xander broke the tension of the pre-previews sort of quiet. "Want some?"  He shook the tub of popcorn in Spike's direction.

Spike shook own tub back at Xander in response.  Xander reached into his coat pocket and produced a flask. 

"Here."  He handed it to Spike. 

"Xander?"  Xander brought liquor?  To the movies? 

"It's for you."  Not liquor, the flask was warm.  Besides, Xander never drank anything harder than beer.  Spike opened the flask and the scent hit his nostrils.

"You brought blood?"  That was even more shocking than the liquor.

"Thought you might want a snack.  A real snack."  Xander shrugged.  Just then the lights dimmed and Xander's attention was riveted to the screen for the next four and a half hours.  Spike's was riveted to Xander.


When the films ended and the house lights came up, Xander and Spike waited until the theater had emptied before slowly rising and leaving.  They discussed the films and the lesser quality ones they had spawned on their walk home.  Spike noticed Xander stifle a few yawns during the walk, but Xander didn't comment. He mostly just kept talking and Spike kept not looking at his tongue when he formed certain letters. And he did not try to work words with those letters into the conversation.

When they entered the flat, Spike took off his duster to the musical accompaniment another yawn failing to be stifled. "Tired, Pet?"

"Yeah, woke up early." 

"More dreams?"  Spike didn't know if they had continued, but he hadn't found Xander hunched over the sink recently, so he hadn't been too worried.

"No.  Nerves."


"About this.  Tonight."

"Why?"  Did Xander regret asking him?

"Wanted it to go well."

"Did it?" Spike tried not to sound needy, but he cringed at the tone in his voice as the words spilled out too fast.

Xander smiled. "Depends."


Xander leaned forward and placed a light kiss on Spike's lips.  After just a few seconds, he leaned back.  "Did you like it?"

Spike nodded slowly.

"Then yeah.  I think it went well."

Part Twelve   Dreaming Again

Spike lay in his bed, staring blankly in the darkness.  If that was what dates were like, he should have done this long ago.  There had been little physical contact between the men, no pansy hand-holding that Spike had wanted/ feared.  But Xander had remained close to him, closer than he usually walked during their nightly 'constitutionals', as Xander had taken to calling them, pronouncing the word with a faux... something accent and that irresistible curve to his lips.  When they had chosen their seats, Xander had angled his body slightly so that their knees or shoulders were almost touching.  Spike could feel the slight heat from Xander's body as they sat, hearing the boy's heart speed and slow in time with the plot.

When Xander produced the flask, full and almost body temperature from being in his pocket, Spike had been stunned.  It wasn't the first time Xander had done something like that, not even the first time that night, but the small acts surprised him so much that he was left nearly speechless each time.  Spike was beginning to feel like all he did was avoid looking at Xander and nod. Maybe Xander should put him on the dashboard of his car and tap his head every so often.

When Xander began to yawn, Spike assumed the evening would be ending quickly, Xander falling into bed as soon as they got home.  Instead the walk had taken more than twice as long as it should have due to Xander's slow gait.  They talked, the easy insult-peppered conversation they always had and sometimes complete silence accompanying them, shoulders and fingers barely brushing on every third or fourth step.  Then every second or third step.

Spike snuggled down into the bed remembering the magical feel of the kiss.  Soft lips, still tasting of salt and butter-flavor.  Enough pressure to be felt, but no more than necessary. Just lips, no tongue, not even really open-mouthed.  The kiss had only lasted a moment, but Spike had never felt so loved in all his unlife.  It was nothing more than a kiss, holding no expectation, yet it was so full of promise, of possibility.  Spike drifted to sleep memorizing and rememorizing every movement, every smell, every sightsoundfeeltaste of the night.


Spike entered Xander's bedroom, dark except for the faint night-light in the far corner, mimicking the needed moonlight for the human's eyes. Shadows fell across the bed, highlighting Xander's hips, covered barely by the thin cotton sheet. Spike could see boy's chest rising in time to his soft snores.  Slowly he climbed into bed, lying half on top of Xander's nude form.

He began to move gently against the man, rocking until he felt him stir and harden under his thigh.  Xander woke and pulled Spike tightly to him, readjusting their bodies. Spike lay between Xander's thighs, thrusting and being thrust against.  Spike's moan of pleasure swallowed by Xander's mouth, the kiss rough and devoid of any feeling from the one they shared earlier.

Strong hands grabbed Spike and flipped him face down into the mattress.  Hot fingers dragged down his back and probed him harshly until they found his opening, scratching hard.  Broad, hot length replaced hands as Spike began to struggle.

"Want this.  Know you want this."  Xander's voice was mean, cruel as he drove into Spike, hard and dry except for the blood seeping slowly from scratches and rips.  Spike's struggles slowed as tears began to fall.  It was always worse when you resisted, the added friction for some perverse reason only prolonging the pain.

Xander's pounding sped as the chanting changed.

"Thing.  Cold dead pretty thing.  Never want you.  Never love you.  Thing."

Then Spike was on top, with no recollection of when the position changed, or how, or why. His true face was now marring his features, holding Xander in place, ankles near his ears, ribs protesting and spine maybe a little dislocated.  No matter really.

"You want it.  Give you what you want."  This time Spike was doing the talking, the taking.

"No."  Xander's voice small, bruises forming around his neck in the shape of Spike's hands.

"No?  Make you then, Xan. Make you."

"Please.  Spike, don't."  Xander's sobs wracked his body, making it useless for Spike to thrust.  Oh, but thrust he did; Xander hadn't learned this lesson, hadn't learned not to struggle. Someone else's blood covered him now, smelling of life and sun, not Spike's but Xander's. Slamming home each time, ripping a little more, tearing a little farther until squishy sounds were replaced by splashes.

"Spike, please.  Please, Spike."  So lost, so far away.

"No." Claws rent Xander's flesh, pulling skin from muscle, muscle from bone, bone from socket. Up to his elbows in Xander's sweet hot blood, not coming from a flask or a baggie but a vein.

Stop? Couldn't.  Wouldn't.  No no no.

Spike shot out of sleep, waking with real Xander's hands on his shoulders.

"Spike.  It's okay."  Spike was in full vamp face, snarling and crying and shaking all at once.  "Hey, you're okay now.  It's over, and I'm here."

"Get out." He could smell that smell, the blood. Hear it pumping, running frantically under the skin. So good, hot. Sweetthickhot.

"No, Spike, you were screaming.  You-"

"Get out." Xander couldn't stay.  He would hurt him, had to make him leave before he could do it, destroy again.  Stake himself before he did that to Xander.

"Okay.  Sorry.  I'm... sorry."  Xander left the room, pausing at the door to look back at the vampire. 


Spike refused to turn to him.  He could contain himself long enough for Xander to leave, but not if he looked at him. He would not turn around.

Xander shut the door.

Part Thirteen   What Happened

Xander stayed in bed until late Sunday afternoon, tossing and turning, not able to sleep despite extreme exhaustion. Xander was not sure what had happened but knew from the screams that he was responsible.  Had he pushed things with the kiss?  He had been having such a wonderful time, turned on in that innocent way caused by a first date going well. Spike had watched him all night, and Xander could see the feelings in his eyes. Whoever said he was soulless before had never looked into those eyes, seen themselves reflected there.

Spike had looked so concerned when he thought the nightmares were what kept him awake. So relieved that they weren't. So damn beautiful the whole night.  Xander needed to kiss him, had to show him how much he wanted this.  Show him how perfect he was, remind him that while the vampire may have forgotten, Xander hadn't. 

Instead he had caused Spike nightmares, ones that from the sound of the screams made his actually look like the girls and daisies variety.  And Spike wouldn't let him help, wouldn't even look at him.  Certainly now whatever had been starting had been ruined by Xander's stupidity, trying to rush things like he always did instead of doing what he promised and taking it slow. He didn't want to be the type of guy that equated sex with love, and he had harbored no delusions of getting into Spike's pants that night, but maybe that's what Spike thought. After all, he hadn't asked for this attention. 

When remaining in bed became completely pointless, he went to the kitchen to start the coffee, hoping the smell would bring Spike out so they could talk.  He would apologize and things would go back to how they were, how they should be.  It would be hard to refrain from flirting with Spike, but Xander could always ask for more work to keep him out of his way.

He returned to the living room and turned on the television.  After cycling through the stations for half an hour and still finding nothing on, he turned off the TV. He put his head in his hands and waited. Got some coffee and waited. Started towards Spike's door and then stepped back. Waited.

Before he could decide whether or not to knock on the door, Spike came out of his room.  He met Xander's eyes for just a moment, obviously not expecting him to still be there in the silence.  Spike lowered his head and continued to the bathroom, pressed against the wall. 

Xander heard the lock click into place behind him.

Things continued much the same for the next few days, Xander attempting to talk to Spike, but the refusals giving way to complete avoidance.  By the end of the week Xander had spent so much extra time at the office he was ahead of schedule and had to re-delegate the remaining projects to give himself something to do.  He gave his secretary the next day off and stayed at the office Thursday night.  And Friday.


Spike spent the week leaving the apartment as soon as Xander came home, knowing the man had stayed at the office until well after dark so as not to have to see him.  But he couldn't go until he knew Xander made it home safe.  Once he did, he couldn't stay there, with Xander wanting to talk to him and make things right.  Things would never be right.

He did his not-patrolling now as viciously as he had when he first found out he could still kill. But this time he took no pleasure in it, since he always won the fights.  He wanted to find something that could take him, keep him away from Xander.  This not being the hellmouth, it was difficult to find a creature that could best a Master vampire, souled or otherwise.  Not even one with a partial death wish.

When he knew he would greet another day, he made it to Xander's apartment just before dawn, Xander already at the office.  He would stand outside his bedroom, in the hallway in front of the always open door-- just like Xander--  smelling his still-lingering scent and punishing Spike better than death ever could.  Then he would cry, throat-tearing, cough-until-you-puke-even-though-you-hadn't-fed-and-didn't-need-to-breathe sobs.  He hoped this would exhaust him enough that the nightmares wouldn't return.

Of course they did, worse each night until the night Xander didn't come home, and Spike couldn't tell which part was the nightmare since he wasn't asleep.


Saturday afternoon Xander returned to the apartment at the same time Spike was leaving his room.  Spike's duster was on, pockets full to avoid the bulkiness of a bag. Xander watched as Spike set his key on the table and walked to the door.

"Spike."  Xander found his voice, but didn't recognize it.  "Stop.  You can't leave."

"I bloody well can."  There were no emotions to his voice.  "You said so yourself."

"No. I mean, yes I did, and if you can't be here anymore, that's..." Not okay, not fine.  "You can't go.  It's three in the afternoon.  I'll leave."

Spike hadn't realized this, his senses not working anymore. Nothing worked anymore.

"Don't.  It's your flat."

"No, dammit.  It's our flat."  Anger coming now, overtaking the hurt and confusion.  "Do you think I would have ever chosen to live in another fucking basement?"

"Yes, since you chose this place without even asking me first."  He didn't know why he was arguing this point.  The apartment had been the best gift anyone had ever given him.  He loved this place.  But he had to go, had to leave before he ruined Xander.  If making him mad was the only way to do that, then that's what he would do.

"That's not..."  He didn't know what to say.  "I'm so sorry.  I don't know what I did, how to fix it.  Just tell me how to make it better."  If Spike would just tell him, let him take back the kiss, he could keep him here, know he was safe.

For Spike, that was the last blow.  On top of everything else he had done, knew from the dreams he would do if given the chance, now Xander was blaming himself.

"It doesn't matter.  What time it is.  I'm going."

'At least I won't be with you.'

"No!  If you can't be here, fine. But you will not go out there now.  You won't do that."  Tears stopped stinging, started falling.

"Why?"  Not expecting an answer, never gotten one before.

"Because I love you."

"No, Xander."  Heavy sigh.  He was not accepting a statement made from guilt; one that would hang uncomfortably until Xander thought he was strong enough and it could be undone.  "You can't love something that's done what I've done."

"You're not a thing.  And don't you dare doubt me.  Not about this.  When I say I love you, I mean it.  I want you.  I need you.  If you walk out that door, I die too.  I love you." This wasn't the way Xander had wanted to do this, but Spike was talking to him, he had to tell him.

"I... can't."

"Doesn't matter."

"I want to."

"Then do."

"Xan, no, I can't."

"Of course you can, baby.  Just why can't you."

"I can't." he pleaded.  "I... What if... if you didn't... didn't want to."  The hurt in his eyes made Xander's heart break.  That's what this is about? 

He tried to smile, to play it off.  "Have you ever known me not to want to?"  He failed miserably.

"But when you don't..."

"Then we won't."  Spike shook his head, still not looking at Xander.  "Spike, what's this all ab... Buffy."  Spike flinched.  Yeah, Buffy. Probably all the rest, too, but mainly that one, for now.  This was going to be fun.

"Spike, what you did then won't happen now."


"No, it won't, can't.  When I say no, that's exactly what I mean.  You'll never have to try and figure that out."


"No, listen to me, Spike.  What happened then was wrong.  What you did was wrong.  There's no getting around that."  If anyone ever made Xander put that look on Spike's face again, he'd kill them, wrongness or not.  "But what she did was wrong, too.  And you weren't trying to hurt her, I don't think."

"You don't know, Xan, you weren't there."

"No, I wasn't.  But I'm the outside observey guy, and I know both of you pretty well.  I know how she gets when she's using someone.  I have some ideas about what went down."

There it was again, the almost look at Xander cut short by the shame, the hurt, the confusion.

"The way I see it, you spent a lot of time, most of your unlife, taking care of someone who couldn't tell you what she needed, right?"

Little nod.

"So you got pretty good at figuring out what she needed, rather than what she wanted, or said she wanted, yeah?"

Again with the little nod.

"So, that's sort of the way you approached your... relationship with Buffy."

"I didn't mean to..."

"I know.  What she wanted and what she needed were two different things.  You were just trying to give her what she needed, like you had done before.  When she had said no, but hadn't meant it."  Xander waited.  He had his theories as to what had happened, but it wasn't the kind of thing you talk about.  'Hey Buff, now that we're not so much on speaking terms, wanna tell me what happened that night my boyfriend tried to rape you?'  Yeah, lead balloons going over all around that statement.  He needed confirmation that he was on the right track.

"Spike, look at me.  Please."  There were tears in his eyes, but Xander knew he was right. 

"No.  Can't hurt you, Xan.  It would kill me.  Should do it first."  Spike was begging. It was horrible.

"You won't."  This Xander knew.  Spike could never hurt him like that.

"The soul?"  Spike asked.  That was what made all this possible, after all, wasn't it?

"Spike, I didn't ask you here because of the soul. It's not like I've never been hurt by people with souls before.  It's not the soul I trust. It's you, all of you."  Spike finally looked at him, tears shining in his eyes and on his cheeks.  "I promise you, that isn't how it works with us, okay?  If we don't want something, we say so, and that's that.  I'll always be honest with you, and you'll always be honest with me, okay?"  Please say okay, please.  They both needed to get this out of the way.

"Yeah, okay."  And it wasn't, not really, but maybe it would be. 

"Love you, Spike."

"Love you, Xan.  Never hurt you."  Tears flowed freely now, neither man trying to hide from the other.

"I know, baby, I know.  Come here, let's go to sleep."

It hadn't happened before, but this was not sex, not romantic or for pleasure.  This was comfort, connecting.  This was need so deep that past, future, nothing mattered but the need for... sleep.

So they went. Spike pulled off the duster and Xander took his hand and led him to his bed, crawling in after him, never relinquishing hold of his hand.  He pulled Spike to him, holding him and reassuring him there would be no more staying at the office, no more separation.  For the first time feeling comforted by Xander's smell so close, Spike relaxed into Xander's warm body, hearing words whispered in that wonderful voice, knowing he loved and maybe, just this once, he could be loved back.

Part Fourteen   Waking Up

Xander woke later that evening, knowing his internal clock was going to take some readjusting, but it had been worth it.  There was still more than a whole day before he had to return to work, and now that Spike was here, staying here, and it didn't matter anyway.  He tightened his hold on the smaller man and was rewarded by a slight snuggle into his chest.  Then Spike froze and Xander knew he was awake, memories of the past week coming to him quickly.

"Hey." he kept his voice soft, not wanting to startle him.

"Hey."  Spike shifted away and Xander reluctantly let him go.

"Sleep well?"

"Better." Spike played with the hem of the sheet, not wanting to look at Xander.

"Me, too."

"Is this... Are we... Do I stay here now?" Spike asked, hating that he sounded so weak, so unsure. But he was, and he needed to know. What did Xander expect from him?

"Here, or here here?" Xander tried to clarify.

"In your room."

Xander wanted to figure out what Spike wanted. He wanted him to stay in his room, in his bed, always, but he didn't want to push him into anything he wasn't ready for yet. He knew it would be quite some time before Spike was ready to become more physical, both due to what had happened before, and to his newly acquired emotional baggage. He shifted up on the bed so Spike could snuggle down with him some more, always having been a big fan of the cuddles. But Spike resisted. "Do you want to?"

"Xander, please just answer the question."  Spike was still afraid that Xander's words had been said out of guilt, out of pity.  He couldn't take the risk.  He needed Xander to know.  He needed Xander to be in control.

"I meant what I said out there, you know."

Spike didn't answer, because no, he didn't know.

"I love you, Spike."

"Are you sure?"

"Never been so sure of anything in my life."

Spike sat up fully then, breaking all contact with Xander.  "I don't think... I don't think I should stay."  Xander sat up too now, ready to protest and point out the time.  Only now it was well after dark, and if Spike wanted to go, Xander couldn't stop him.

"In here, in this, your room.  Not... yet." He clarified when Xander's heart sped and he felt like he was about to grab him and force him to stay.

"Oh.  What about here? The apartment?" Xander relaxed and Spike heard him release the breath he had been holding.

"Yeah, I want to stay.  Can I?"

"Don't even think about leaving."


"It wasn't a command, Spike."

"I know."

"I love you, Spike."  Xander pulled him back down, lying with him again in that warm comfortable unfamiliar way. Spike tensed.  "Don't say it back right now.  You don't have to unless you feel like you can.  I know you do."

So Spike didn't.  And he did.


When they moved again, after a long moment of holding and being held, Spike rolled onto his stomach to watch Xander. Xander looked back at him, with that tender look he'd seen sometimes for other people, but never expected to receive.  He realized they were both still dressed, the duster somewhere in the living room. 

"Never been in bed fully clothed before." He observed, again fingering the hem of the sheet.

"No?" Xander let his hand come down to play along Spike's back, gently rubbing down his spine and across his shoulders. Spike resisted the urge to purr, and tried to resist pressing himself tighter to this man, who had in such little time offered him nearly everything he wanted.

"You have?"

"Yeah, lots of times." Xander's hand dipped lower and caressed the small of his back. Spike arched up a bit into the contact, losing the battle with himself, and wanting Xander to always, always be touching him.

"With someone, I mean."


"Like this?"

Xander frowned.  "Like?"

Tell me you want me here with or without my clothes, Xander.  Tell me you want me here all the time. Tell me you want me.  "With someone you... loved."

"Yes."  Xander was sad now. 

"I'm sorry." Spike closed his eyes, not wanting to see Xander sad, and knowing he caused it.

"There was Willow, of course, even though it wasn't love like this. And then there was...  It was.  I'll tell you about it sometime."  Xander promised.  He wasn't hiding from Spike, he just couldn't tell him about Jesse.  It was too much. Too just not now.

"Okay." Spike wanted to change the subject, wanted to bring back Xander's other look, with the smile on his lips and concentration in his eyes. The one that said he saw something he liked and wanted to see it some more.  "Pet, are we going to get out of bed today?"

Xander laughed, a full sound that shook the bed and made Spike smile in response.  "I don't want to. This is... have you ever missed something you never had before? Felt empty without it, even though you'd never had it? That's what this is.  But, yeah.  I'm starved."  He stopped, looked down at Spike.  "When was the last time you ate?" He brushed his hand over Spike's forehead, down his cheek and to his neck. Perfect, cool silk under his fingers, and he could never get enough of this feeling.

Spike stopped smiling, stopped looking at Xander. 

"That long, huh?  Come on, let's go."  He pulled Spike up and pushed him towards the shower.  "You first, then me.  You can do your thing while I'm in the shower and then we'll go out." Xander reluctantly let go of Spike as he drifted toward the shower. Things were definitely looking up. One might even say, boding well.

Part Fifteen   Like It Was A Vacation

Spike did eat while Xander was in the shower, grateful that Xander was occupied elsewhere and didn't have to see this. This was when no one could deny what he was, and Xander's reassurances would do little in the face of the fact that he was a thing, and nothing more. He'd always hated feeding from a bag, like a tamed animal, but now, now it was a struggle to bring himself to eat this, especially when Xander was trying to help and brought him human blood, outdated or rejected by the blood bank. It only served as a reminder of what he was, that no matter how much food he swiped from Xander, death was all that kept him alive.

When Xander came out of his room, dressed casually, but not sloppily, and that was going to take some getting used to, they walked to the Chinese place from that night so long ago. Spike cocked his head and reconsidered. Seven weeks, not even two full months. Definitely not so long. In fact, this was far more similar to the Victorian-era courting he grew up with than anything he'd experienced since. Without the whole gay-undead-confusion issue, of course.

Spike shook off his inner musings and took a final drag off his cigarette with shaking hands.

Xander noticed. "This okay?"

Spike stubbed out his cigarette and tossed it in the ashtray outside. Not on the ground, not flicked near the small groups of people passing the restaurant, but in the properly authorized receptacle. Xander was once again reminded of the differences between old Spike and this Spike. While they weren't as different as Angel and his evil alter-ego, there were definite discrepancies.

"Where else would we go?"

"Exactly."  Xander asked the hostess for the same booth from before.  She rewarded him with not only an 'of course', but also a hand on his arm and a bright come- fuck- me smile.  Spike resisted the urge to growl. Public displays of demonic possessiveness probably didn't rate high on Xander's list of things to do over dinner. He did, however, step unmistakably close to Xander as they were led to their table.  The hostess didn't seem to notice as she handed the menu to Xander with an unnecessary amount of finger-brushing. She patently ignored Spike.

Spike wasn't sure weather to be offended or jealous, but he was one of the two, and whichever one it was was growing with every giggle directed at his... what was Xander? Boyfriend? Date? Companion?

Once they had ordered, Xander proceeded to tell him about the new projects he'd been assigned and the talk  among his colleagues that a promotion was in the works.  It was very similar to the first time, if Rod Serling had hosted.

"You've earned it, Pet."  Yes, Xander had been furthering his career while he had been dying again. Good to know.

"Thanks.  I think I have."  He smiled.  "But they'll have to expect less.  There will be no more all-nighter pulling for me." 

"Right." Spike snatched Xander's egg roll and proceeded to tear it to shreds, not even bothering to eat it.  Appease the poor needy vampire, Xander.  He needs all the coddling and pity you can spare.

The hostess came back to check on them. Again. It was completely uncalled for, and this time Spike did growl.  She left quickly, but not before giving Xander another too-friendly arm squeeze.

Xander looked mildly annoyed, but said nothing and quickly returned to the conversation.  "So, what did you do this past week?"  As if he had been on vacation, had wanted to spend the week apart.

"Oh, was that directed at me? I thought for a moment you were speaking to your girlfriend over there. Such a friendly bloke, you are."

"Come off it, Spike. She's not even my type." Xander smiled indulgently. Spike was a jealous lover, he knew, but if he really thought he had to worry about that girl, he hadn't been paying much attention recently.

"Oh, I, you know, read some. Watched the shows. Patrolled."  Spike stretched the word out, knowing Xander would noticed he used the forbidden phrase.

"Patrolled."  Xander rolled the word around his mouth as if to sample a wine.  It must have turned because he spat out, "Yeah, I heard about the increased noises around the cemeteries.  Thought it must be you.  Cause, you know, you're Mr. Helpful and all."

"Just doing my part of humanity, luv."   Of, not for. He had not misspoken.

Xander's face closed, hard and cold.  Spike knew he had pushed it too far with that one, hitting upon the reason the word went unused.  In Sunnydalese, patrol more often than not meant sex, and they had refused to cheapen what they did, the conversations and silences, the closeness they formed that way, by unspoken agreement.  But Spike saw too late.  He was hurt and angry and jealous and still very confused, and the only way to deal with that was to drag Xander down, too.  So he had.

"Xander, I'm-"

Xander interrupted him by signaling for the check, even though his plate was still half full.  When the waitress got to them, he handed a few bills to her without even checking the total. 

As he was leaving, the hostess sidled up to him, her telephone number already written on a business card. 

He shouldered past her and pointed at Spike.  "I'm with him."

Spike followed Xander, catching him quickly, even with Xander's abnormally long strides. 

"Xander, can you just-"

"Stop.  This will be continued when we get home."  That tone.  So cold, so final.  This was the outside the Magic Box tone.  This was bad.

This was wonderful.



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