Xander's Kitten Has Kittens
After a minimum amount of fuss, Xander coaxed the forlorn Angel into his carrying basket and they were ready to leave for the vet's office.
'I'm coming with,' Spike announced abruptly.
'But... it's daylight,' said Xander, wondering at the sudden change of heart.
'Yeah?' Spike waggled the corner of the protective blanket he was holding at Xander, knowing for a fact that the sudden change of heart was because he didn't want to waste being able to see Xander walk around in that wonderful thigh exposing skirt. 'So?'
'Fine,' Xander sighed, holding open the front door for a third body to walk through. 'But don't blame me if the vet tries to neuter you.'
'Fat chance,' Spike muttered under his breath as he exited the front door. ''Salready happened, worse luck.'
The vet's waiting room provided the standard services of waiting rooms the world over: chairs, leaflets, ancient informative posters, a small coffee table covered with dog-eared magazines and just enough room for worried owners to pace up and down. Buffy and Willow took up two of the chairs, talking quietly and watching Xander as he paced. The effect of seeing Xander, their Xander -- his movements, his mannerisms, his facial expressions -- wrapped up in this female body was a little disconcerting to say the least. Neither of the girls had had the opportunity to do any prolonged Xander-watching while in his current state, and now they had it, they were making the most of it.
Spike, meanwhile, was busy tormenting a hissing cat in the corner. The vampire was sheltered from the sun by a tall rack containing the aforementioned leaflets, in this case for flea collars and worming tablets, and he kept his blanket over his head for good measure, not caring a whit for the occasional strange look tossed his way. He was happily preoccupied with slipping in and out of gameface behind the cat's owner's back, terrifying the animal -- 'I don't understand. Felix is usually such an even-tempered animal.' -- until Willow slapped him on the arm and told him off. Like a scolded child, Spike folded his arms and proceeded to sulk, trying to give off the impression that his decision to come here had been a poor one, and he couldn't give a damn one way or the other about Xander's stupid cat anyway.
The clinic was a busy one, and while Xander, Spike, Buffy and Willow waited not-very-patiently, they also watched the continuous procession of strange animals and their owners coming in and out of the vet's doors. There were dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, rats, owls, lizards, snakes, chickens and even a goat.
Buffy turned to Willow in silent question. Willow gave a dazed shake of her head. 'There sure are a lot of animals in Sunnydale.'
'Yeah,' agreed Buffy, 'but a goat?'
'Maybe it's from, like, a petting zoo?'
Buffy arched an eyebrow.
Willow grimaced. 'Yeah. Okay. I concede. Chickens are probably for sacrifices. Owls and lizards and snakes just seem to thrive here. Remember they did that study a couple of years ago and it showed that Sunnydale had something like twenty times more than their fair share of reptiles and predatory birds?'
Buffy nodded, more that just a little squicked by the idea.
'Then there's the cats,' said Willow with a wise little nod. 'Could be familiars. And have you noticed that the pet shops in town are always full to bursting with kittens? And then there's all the strays, too.'
'Yeah,' agreed Buffy, trying hard not to think of her one time reanimated zombie cat, 'but a goat?'
'Hey, I conceded. Didn't you just see me concede? I admitted it and everything. I don't even want to know what somebody has a goat on the hellmouth for, do you?'
Buffy sighed. 'Not unless I have to.'
Just then, a tall, middle aged lady with peroxide blonde hair so white that it put Spike's to shame, tottered past on dangerously high stiletto heels, silencing them. She wore a black and white polkadot dress and a matching hat with a wide brim. Behind her pranced an elaborately coiffed poodle, its head held high.
'I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult,' Buffy whispered, her brow wrinkled in thought.
'Yeah,' agreed Willow. 'And Siamese cats? What's up with that?'
Buffy shook her head slowly, marvelling at the insanity of it all.
'Ooh!' Willow exclaimed. 'The vet's back!'
They rose from their chairs and went to Xander where the vet was greeting him, clipboard in hand. They arrived just in time to see Xander blink in confusion.
'You're telling me that Angel's... what?' Xander was asking.
The vet, a short, chubby, very pretty woman with a gleaming brunette bob, glanced around their little group and tried for a professional smile. 'Pregnant.'
Xander shook his head as though to clear it. 'I'm sorry... he's what?'
The vet's smile became more personal, as she readjusted her hold on the clipboard. 'Ms. Harris, your cat... Angel is pregnant.'
'Pregnant? But-but-but he can't be!'
'I assure you, she can and she is. Due in a few weeks.' Making a series of perfunctory ticks on her clipboard, the vet explained what would happen, how they should take care of Angel in the meantime and what to do when the kittens were born. Xander accepted the information with a series of bewildered nods, and mumbled words of thanks when Angel was handed back to him in his-- in her cat-box.
Willow and Buffy peered through the little door at the docile cat. 'Pregnant?' they asked simultaneously, looking to Xander for an explanation.
'But-but I thought they were both boys,' Xander said helplessly to his friends as the vet walked away with a bemused smile still on her face. 'We did the check and everything!'
'The check?' asked Buffy.
'Yeah, the check. You and Dawn showed me. You pick 'em up and you look at 'em. You showed me!'
Buffy suddenly -- and vindictively, in Xander's humble opinion -- blinked and held her hands behind her back, swaying just a little from side to side. She looked like a virtuous five-year-old who had just narrowly dodged being caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
Spike closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, chuckling behind his hand. 'It's no good, Xander. You're going to be a grandmother and that's that.'
Xander glared at him. 'I don't know what you're laughing about. It was your psycho-cat who got Angel pregnant in the first place!'
Spike opened his eyes again. 'Hey! Don't blame Flick-knife! He can't help it if your cat's a dirty slapper and puts it about for any Tom, Dick or Harry-cat!'
'Hardly!' countered Xander. 'You know he-- she-- Angel spends all her time asleep. Flick-knife probably had his wicked way with her when she was unconscious. I wouldn't put it past him!'
'Oh really?' snapped Spike. 'I've got two words for you: Gender Issues.'
'Ha!' Xander exclaimed loudly. 'In our house? What a huge surprise that is! Please do take the time to note my expression of wonder and amazement.' His tirade came to a screeching halt as he remembered their audience. 'Uh, and by "our house" I obviously mean mine and the cats' and, uh, such a surprise on the gender issues thing because, uh, I'm a girl. Temporarily. Temporarily a girl. That's all.'
'Big girl's blouse, more like,' mumbled Spike, making sure he was just loud enough for Xander to hear him.
Indignant comeback at the ready, Xander opened his mouth to reply but their argument was interrupted by the sound of gales of poorly disguised laughter.
'What's so bloody funny?' asked Spike as both he and Xander turned and scowled at the sounds of merriment at their expense.
'You-you two!' gasped Buffy, doubled over with laughter.
'What about us?' snapped Xander.
'Ar-arguing about who got Angel pregnant!' Willow managed eventually, as Buffy was rendered speechless by another bout of giggles. 'And acting like-like overprotective fathers. It's just too cute.'
Spike and Xander looked each other up and down with something akin to disgust, then back at the two girls who were clutching onto each other for support. Spike shot Xander a look that read "Birds, huh?" and Xander shot one right back that said "I know. Women. Who'd have 'em?"
'Just you wait,' Xander said evilly to Willow. 'You know that Flick-knife has been "playing" with Miss Kitty. Who knows what they've been getting up to.'
Willow had the good grace to look horrified at this for a moment, but then she realised that even if Miss Kitty was pregnant, that would just mean even more kittens, which was just fine by her. Then she noticed the way that both Xander and Spike were standing with their hands placed indignantly on their hips in mid-argument and she melted back into another fit of helpless giggles.
Angel chose that moment to make her voice heard, looking up through the wire mesh of her cage and mewing very pitifully. Couldn't they tell that she was hungry and had grown impatient for her mid-afternoon snack? She'd known she was pregnant for ages and, quite frankly, couldn't see what all the fuss was about.
Xander sighed heavily, realising he was outclassed as they all dutifully headed back out to the car so Angel could be taken home and be fixed a snack.
After all, she was eating for approximately six.
Back at home, Xander made sure that Angel was settled, taking great pains to follow the vet's instructions to the letter. Flick-knife was sent to the proverbial doghouse; a place he had become well used to in his short life. Spike disappeared at sunset to go to the butcher's for blood and to 'get the bloody hell out of midwife central'. By the time he returned, via a graveyard or two for a quick newly-risen-vampire-staking to work out a little tension, Xander was already in his pyjamas and curled up the couch, watching a late movie before hitting the sack.
'Hey, Spike,' he said without looking up. 'Anything new or startling?'
'Uh, no,' Spike replied, stashing his blood bags in the fridge.
The silence behind him became so unsettling that Xander frowned, turning around to see what Spike was up to. Spike stood behind the couch, looking rather uncomfortable, his hands hidden behind his back. Xander looked at him expectantly. Spike found the raised eyebrow and the pursed lips oddly more demanding than usual. 'Uh,' he began eloquently. Xander's eyebrow raised another fraction of an inch. Spike swallowed, and brought out one of his hands from behind his back, thrusting what he was holding under Xander's nose. 'Here, luv, I got this for you.'
Xander looked down. A single daisy was held out between them. He was so taken aback he forgot to scold Spike for again calling him "luv". Not saying a word, Xander accepted the flower with uncharacteristically delicate fingers, and merely held it for a moment, afraid to look up and see the teasing he knew he would see in Spike's eyes.
I won't cry. I won't cry. Bastard. He can't do this to me. Can't make fun of me like this, bringing me flowers like I'm really some stupid girl. It's not fair.
He finally looked up, ready to fight, ready for battle to commence at Spike's ill chosen joke, but the angry words died in his throat.
Spike was looking at him oddly. Almost hopefully. 'What?' he asked, shifting his weight under Xander's scrutiny. 'Humour me, would you?'
'Yeah.' Spike ducked his head, amazing Xander still further. 'I... I don't have anyone to give flowers to. And right now -- temporarily -- I have a girlfriend. So I got you flowers. A flower. It's not roses, but... Didn't think it would be such a big deal.'
Xander couldn't help it. He smiled. 'You... you bought me flowers?'
'A flower, it's only one, and I-I didn't pay for it or anything, but it was pretty, and so are you, so I just--'
Spike couldn't stammer out his explanations any more because Xander was on his knees, leaning precariously over the back of the couch to kiss him -- to deeply, passionately kiss him. The surprised growl that emanated from Spike only made Xander's heart race faster as they drew one another closer.
'Wait!' Xander pulled away, leaving Spike dizzy and blinking at the sudden loss of contact. Leaping off the couch, he covered the distance to the kitchen table in a few skidding steps and carefully laid the daisy down. He held his hands over it in a "stay" motion just in case the flower decided to make a break for it; then turned his full attention back to Spike. Spike, who was standing -- silent as the dastardly creature of the night that he was -- directly behind him. Xander managed a faltering breath at the desire he saw in Spike's eyes. No games, nothing hidden. All his defences lowered, emotions laid bare. Xander suspected very much that Spike was reading the same thing on his face. Xander was lifted easily into a kiss, and carried along the hallway to the bedroom, even as they were entwined together.
Slowly, and with feather-light touches designed not to send Xander running for the hills, Spike traced patterns over fevered skin as he stripped pyjamas away to leave Xander naked and breathless before him. Xander always felt known and aching under Spike's touch, a touch that was both reverent and dominant. Xander craved it. He could never get enough.
'Xander,' Spike murmured, the word a name, a request, a statement and a benediction all rolled into one. He ran his hands down Xander's sides until they came to rest on raised, questing hips. In one deft motion, he flipped Xander on the bed so that a smooth expanse of back was laid out before him. Spike pressed a kiss to the faint scar on Xander's shoulder and lightly touched the dimples at the base of his spine. Xander gasped as the hands continued lower... and lower. He raised his head, letting out a cry when Spike did hitherto unknown things with his thumb and the spread of his fingers.
'Spike,' he groaned, letting his heavy head fall back onto the mattress. Hands! Hands in new places. Oh dear sweet Jesus that feels good. Very strange, but really, really good.
'Like that, pet?'
Xander could only nod wordlessly as Spike continued his intimate caresses. The breath was chased again from his lungs when Spike bent over him, pressing cool chest to hot back. How on earth Spike had managed to divest himself of his clothes while he'd been doing those amazing things to Xander the entire time would forever remain a mystery. Another mystery was how the vampire knew how to do those amazing things so damn well. It looked like immortals really did pick a thing or two up along the way. Xander had considered himself reasonably skilled in the art of pleasing the ladies -- he'd had some demanding teachers and never received any complaints -- but Spike's lusty light of sex outshone his by miles. And yes, it was apparent that Xander's brain was obviously preoccupied with more pressing issues than coming up with decent metaphors just at that moment. Just how much Spike wanted him suddenly also became very apparent as he pressed himself against Xander's back, and just as suddenly Xander realised that he didn't want to wait any longer.
Xander twisted his head back awkwardly to kiss the vampire draped over his back like a second skin. If he'd been thinking rationally, Xander would have realised what a potentially dangerous situation this was for him to be in: naked, without even his natural human male strength to protect him, lying prone and trapped beneath a vampire. But he wasn't thinking rationally. All he was thinking was: more.
With an eloquent grunt, he signalled to Spike to let him up, which Spike did without hesitation. Turning to lie on his back, they shared a moment of staring at one another, each seeing exactly what he had been hoping for in the other's eyes. Xander opened his arms and Spike accepted the invitation.
'I'm ready. Want you. Want you so much.'
'You sure about this, pet?'
'Don't you want me?' Xander teased, pressing up with his hips.
Spike said a few of his rudest swearwords. The ones he kept for special occasions. 'More than anything. It's just...'
'It'll probably hurt. You're a...'
The proverbial light bulb clicked on over Xander's head. 'Oh, maaaan. I'm a virgin.'
'Second time's the charm,' Spike said with a wry smile.
Xander moved underneath him on the bed, letting his legs fall open, expecting the moment of acute shyness to hit, but it never came. He lined up their bodies and pressed himself up against Spike, loving the groan he evoked and the way that Spike's eyes rolled back in his head.
'I trust you.'
'You do?' Spike asked when the power of speech returned to him.
'Always were a daft bugger, Harris.'
'Never denied it, "the Bloody".'
Spike grinned, recovering a little of his composure and curled his body around Xander's, wriggling and arching in a very rude way that Xander instantly loved. Xander shuddered and gripped tightly at Spike's shoulders, scratching with his nails as his hands closed into fists.
'Do it. Do it, please. Don't want to wait.'
Still Spike hesitated.
'What is it?'
Spike dropped his gaze. 'The... the chip. If it goes off... bye bye happy mood.'
'Oh.' Xander hooked his finger under Spike's chin and lifted his head. 'I trust you. I want this. I want you. It won't go off.'
Spike stared deeply into chocolate brown eyes. Searching and seeing and knowing. 'Xander,' he breathed. 'I...'
And he slid inside.
Xander's female body clenched in pain and he held onto Spike for support. The chip remained silent. The moment of pain passed for Xander, melting into something else eminently more pleasurable. He opened his eyes and looked up into Spike's concerned face.
'You okay, luv?'
Xander smiled and pulled Spike down into a kiss. 'No intent to hurt, no slap on the wrist.'
Spike groaned his wholehearted agreement and as one they began to move.
They lay on the bed, tired and sated and vaguely sore in various interesting places. They were tangled lazily together, under only a single, rumpled sheet; Spike toying with the long, silky strands of Xander's hair.
Xander was feeling very... womanly, and for once he didn't mind in the slightest. There was a lot that could be said for multiple orgasms to change a man's mind about a few things. He'd been quietly thinking for some time. 'Why do you stay here, Spike?' he asked softly. 'With me? I mean, some days I think I get you. That I really, finally understand. Then the next day you turn everything on its head again. I get dizzy trying to keep up. But the thought of you not being here just...' Xander ducked his head, the physical stab of pain in his chest too much for him to try and talk through.
Spike looked down at the top of the dark head, considering what Xander had said. 'Y'know,' he began casually, 'there are three things I have learnt in my years spent on the hellmouth. One: Family reunions are generally a bad thing. Two: Never moon a werewolf.'
'And three?' Xander prompted.
'Three? That you can still love your boyfriend even if he occasionally takes it upon himself to turn into a woman.'
Xander's head shot up, his body instantly tensed. 'What?'
Spike's expression didn't change, but Xander could see the warmth in his eyes. 'You heard me.'
'You just said... I mean you haven't since...'
'The tree? The curse of the stupid bastard ancient lighter?' Spike cupped Xander's cheek, rubbing his thumb over the smooth skin of his cheek. 'Neither have you.'
'I didn't... Wasn't sure that was what you wanted. We're not exactly 2.4 children and a house in the suburbs material. When we start talking about love, things get complicated.'
'Things are always complicated. That's what makes it so simple.' Then it was Spike's turn to look away. 'Can't believe that you want a vampire beside you, Xander. A monster. Can't believe you know, or you understand what it is you're asking for. Can't believe you can forget the past. Or forgive the future.'
Their eyes met, and each saw something that they hadn't seen -- hadn't seen so naked and exposed and honest since a night months and months ago, pressed up against a tree after running from demons, when they had first realised. When they had first known.
'I love you, Xander.'
'I love you, Spike.'
They kissed for a long time, softly and almost chastely, bodies tangled in each other, fitted effortlessly together.
Only inches separating them, Xander smiled, touching his fingertips to Spike's lips. 'Does this mean you're moving in?'
Spike smirked. 'I moved in weeks ago. Didn't you notice?'
Xander blinked at this, and then the smile reappeared. 'Does this mean you're going to start paying rent?'
'Nah.' Spike gave a tiny shake of his head, brushing his lips against Xander's. 'I was planning on being a kept man.'
'Oh, you were, were you? It's a good thing I love you.'
Spike grinned. 'Not as much as I love you.'
'Awww.' Xander made a happy, mooshy face and wriggled a little closer. 'Does this mean we need to get pet names for each other?'
Spike drew in his cheeks and attempted a serious scowl. The effect was slightly ruined when Xander wriggled against a few of his more sensitive parts.
'Not if you want to keep your vital parts intact, mate.'
Xander grinned. 'I don't actually have any vital parts just at the minute.'
Spike frowned, and lifted the sheet covering them to look down at the length of Xander lying alongside him, darker skin a contrast to the pale white of his own body. Xander shivered at the wave of cool air that ran over his body.
'Oh yeah, so you don't. But you know... I'd better just check and make sure.'
Xander squeaked as Spike disappeared under the sheet and began checking.
'Don't frown, luv.'
Xander turned, caught unawares, the ingredients of his very late lunch scattered across the kitchen worktop. After endless, energetic hours spent in bed with his vampire lover, the day had almost disappeared, and his rumbling human stomach had eventually persuaded him to get up for something to eat. A single daisy had been placed in water in a small glass vase on the window ledge above the kitchen sink to soak up the last dregs of the evening sun.
'But I'm sad,' he explained. 'When I'm sad, I frown. It sort of goes with the territory.'
'Why are you sad?' Spike tossed a glance his way while he poured the contents of one of his blood bags into an oversize mug and drank it cold, grimacing at the taste.
'Okay, maybe not sad. Maybe pissed off.'
'Yeah?' Spike drained the mug and left it in the sink. He cupped his hand under the cold tap and brought it to his mouth, swished the water around and spat. Xander almost smiled at the gesture: the international vampire signal for "more smoochies imminent with my human lover and aren't I the considerate one getting rid of my blood breath?". Spike crossed the room and reached out cool fingers to smooth Xander's forehead until the frown lessened. 'I still say you shouldn't frown.' He lowered his voice to a furtive murmur. 'Even when you're sad. Or pissed off. You never know who's falling in love with your smile.'
'Oh,' said Xander. 'Oh,' he said again, as his face lit up with a dazzling smile.
'There's my girl,' said Spike, returning the smile.
'Temporary girl,' insisted Xander.
'Yeah,' Spike agreed, brushing his lips over Xander's. 'There's my temporary girl.'
'That's better,' said Xander, and wrapped his arms around Spike's waist, smiling into their kiss.
'What's wrong, anyway?'
'Why the frown?'
'Oh. That. I miss my body.'
'This again? You still have your body.'
'I still have a body. This isn't me. This is... I don't know what this is, but it's not me. I miss my body. I... I couldn't get a mug from the top of the cupboard,' he admitted. 'It was pushed all the way to the back and I couldn't reach it.' A pout. 'Had to get a chair.'
'Oh. I see.' Spike pulled him closer and tucked Xander's head under his chin. 'Not so bad being shorter for a while. I like being able to wrap you up. Feels good.'
'A little Spike and Xander parcel,' Xander said, smiling into cool skin, breathing in Spike's scent. 'How do you always know how to say the right thing?'
''Cause I'm an unrealised genius?'
'Could you teach me how?'
Spike considered this. 'Nah. Gotta be born with it, but don't worry, I'll be sure and share my vast wisdom from time to time.'
'I...' Xander thought the better of whatever he was about to say and buried his face against Spike's chest.
'Don't hide from me, pet. What do you want to tell me?'
Xander sighed. 'I love you,' he said, getting used to how the words sounded in his mouth, relishing them; loving the way Spike's arms tightened around him in response. 'I just wish... No, it's silly.'
'I love you, too.' The clarity of his words, the absolute certainty, the conviction he could hear in Spike's voice made Xander shiver. 'Now tell me.'
'I just wish we could have done our declarations of love thing when I was back in my body.'
'Would you rather have waited to know?'
Xander thought carefully about this, and shook his head.
Spike pressed a kiss to his forehead. 'I keep telling you. It's not the outside that matters. This is nice for a change, I guess,' -- he continued quickly, before Xander had a chance to argue -- 'but it's you that I want. Not what you look like.' He smiled slyly. 'Just lucky for me that you're such top tottie, no matter what gender you happen to be.'
Xander elbowed him playfully in the ribs.
Spike ran his hands down from Xander's shoulder to his arms, holding him still. Then he lowered his head to speak in low, sultry tones in Xander's ear. 'This is nice for playtime, but I can't wait to have you back in your old body. I miss it. It's like an ache in my bones. I miss going toe to toe with you. You're soft and gorgeous like this, but I miss your strength, your rough hands, your hips and your broad shoulders. I miss the way you gasp because the things we do together are so new to you.'
Xander's eyes had flickered shut as he listened to the lulling voice. 'This boy/girl-role-reversal-while-still-managing-to-have-hetero-sex thing was all pretty new to me, as well, Spike,' he said quietly.
'Mmm.' Spike nibbled gently on his earlobe. 'New, yes. Fun, definitely. But still pretty vanilla. You learn fast, but we haven't even started, baby. I've got a lifetime's worth of ways to give you pleasure. Give us both pleasure. The things I still have to show you...'
Xander groaned, dizzy and hot at the mere idea, and cut off Spike's words with a searing kiss, tasting his first sips of permanence.
The next day, a fuzzy-headed Xander dragged himself out of bed at the sound of intruding bells. He'd woken up alone, with a note on his pillow from Spike. The note explained that the vampire had some things to pick up from his crypt so he thought he'd do it while Xander was catching up on his sleep, and he'd be back later. It was signed "love, Spike" and Xander couldn't help but smile and run his thumb over the messy signature. Oh yeah, he had it bad.
He glanced at the clock. That was probably Spike now.
Spike was coming home.
*Ding Dong* *Ding Dong*
'Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm coming. I'm coming.' Xander shuffled to the door in his too-large slippers, clutching his robe around him. 'You know, this really takes away from the stealthy entrances,' he said as he opened the door. 'Have you lost your key again, Sp--?'
'Holy Sham-moley!' Caught unawares, Xander leapt back in surprise at the over-exuberant greeting from his friends. With a mammoth grin on her face, Willow stood front and centre, holding a large bowl awkwardly in her arms. Buffy and Giles brought up the rear, wearing similar enthusiastic smiles.
'Hi, Xander,' said Willow, the grin not abating for even a second as they traipsed past him into the apartment. 'We have a surprise for you!'
'So I gathered,' said Xander as he closed the door behind them. 'What is it? Buy one get one free at Krispy Kreme?'
'Nope. Better.' Willow set down the bowl and faced him, bouncing on the balls of her feet.
Willow shook her head again. 'Better.'
Xander frowned, the first flicker of hope making a practice circuit of his stomach as his friends shared a conspiratorial grin. 'The hellmouth imploded?'
Xander spread his hands. 'I give up. What is it?'
With a smile that threatened to split her cheeks, Willow leaned forward conspiratorially to whisper, 'I got it.'
Xander's heart lurched. He held up one finger. 'Uh, just to be absolutely clear on this, Willow, what is it that you've got?'
'It! I got it!'
'What it?' he asked.
'It! The it what...' She shook her head, trying to get her thoughts in line. 'I got it. The spell. The reversal. I caught Hecate in a good mood and--' Willow glanced at the ceiling and spread her palms solemnly. '--in her gracious and benevolent wisdom--' She looked back at Xander, huge grin blossoming again. '--and she agreed to do it. Xander... I can turn you back.'
'You can...' Shock overtaking his system, Xander sat down too fast, hitting his backside on the arm of the chair he was aiming for, and landed in a heap on the floor.
'Xander?' Willow looked down at him, concerned. 'Are you okay?'
'I'm fine,' he replied, looking up at her dazedly. 'Did you just say you can turn me back now?'
She nodded. 'It's a can do situation. It'll take about fifteen minutes. We can do it now if you like.'
'Now?' Xander bounded to his feet. 'This is great! This is fantastic! What do I have to do?'
'Nothing, really. Just sit down and look pretty and I'll do the rest.'
'Look pretty?' Xander eyed her suspiciously. 'You're so the daddy in your relationship, aren't you? Is Tara okay with that?'
Willow blushed crimson and batted at him with her hands. 'Just... sit. I'll set up the spell.'
Flashing a grin to Giles and Buffy, who were caught up with trying valiantly not to smile at Willow's discomfort, Xander obediently sat and even tried to look pretty, for what he hoped would be the last time ever.
'I think I'll make us some tea,' suggested Giles.
'Don't you have something magicy to do?' asked Xander.
'No, this is in Willow's hands,' said Giles. 'She only wanted me here for the, ah, joyous reunion. And to make absolutely sure that nothing else happened to you.'
'And you don't think anything will?'
Giles glanced at Willow, who watched him hopefully and he nodded. 'Nothing untoward at any rate. I'll be in the kitchen if you need me.'
Buffy sat opposite Xander and stared at him. Xander looked down at himself and then back at her. Nothing was showing that shouldn't be showing, as far as he could see. These days it was pretty easy remembering not to walk around bare-chested. He tugged at his bathrobe and folded his hands together.
'What?' he asked eventually, expecting a quip about his Spongebob Squarepants slippers.
Buffy shook her head. 'Nothing. It's nothing, just...'
She smiled. 'I'm trying to remember the exact shape of your eyebrows. It's very flattering to your bone structure, and at the minute we have kind of the same face shape, so I thought I'd try that next time I got mine reshaped.'
'No, dummy, my eyebrows.'
'Oh,' he said, wondering how many other million and one things that girls did on a daily basis to make themselves look better that guys didn't know -- and didn't want to know -- about.
Buffy nodded. 'And did you know that you're glowing? I mean, you look really tired, but there's definite glowage. What gives?'
'Avocado moisturiser,' he blurted out. It was most definitely time, Xander thought, to become a man again. 'Willow!' he yelled, without taking his eyes off Buffy. 'How's that spell coming? I'm so totally more than ready to be a guy again!'
'Almost there,' said Willow, as she finished her careful placement of crystals into the bowl she'd brought.
Xander watched as Willow seated herself in the middle of the floor after drawing herself some complicated magical symbol -- that Xander knew he'd probably never really understand, and would spend ages scrubbing out of the carpet -- on the floor. He watched in a near daze as she cast her spell.
It was all so simple. A few words. Some spinning crystals. A swirly breeze or two. A flash of bright blue light headed directly for him. Next thing he knew, he was opening his eyes, looking up into the concerned eyes of Buffy, Willow and Giles.
'Wow. I love being unconscious,' he groaned, struggling into a seated position, leaning back against the couch. 'What happened? Did it work?'
'Do you feel okay?' asked Willow, obviously concerned that nothing else had gone wrong.
'Sure. A little lightheaded, but nothing major.' He looked around at them again. 'Will someone please tell me if it worked?'
His three friends shared a conspiratorial smile, and Buffy produced a mirror from behind her back. With a slightly tremor in his hands -- manly, rough hands, he couldn't help but notice -- Xander accepted it from her. He stared deeply into the mirror, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
Hope won out.
'Me!' he squealed. Then he realised that he'd squealed and cleared his throat to say in a much more manly tone, 'It's really me! I'm back. In my fantastically butch and masculine form. This is great. Thanks guys. This is really great.'
He shook off his robe and looked down at his body. Spongebob slippers, check. Manly, hairy legs stretched out in front of him on the floor, check. Boxer shorts that actually fit, check. One girl's t-shirt that was way too tight and now ended somewhere above his navel, check.
'I think I'm just going to go and change this shirt. It's a little... girly.'
Buffy and Willow eyed him appraisingly. The shirt was very small and stretched tight across his chest. They both nodded absently, a faraway look on their faces.
'Mmm,' said Buffy.
'Yeah,' agreed Willow. 'You should probably do that.'
Buffy knelt down and clapped him on the shoulder. 'Yep. You're back to being my Xander-shaped friend again. It's good to have you back, Xander.'
'It's good to be back,' he grinned as he was almost knocked flat on the floor by an exuberant Scooby group hug. A Scooby group hug minus one Giles, who had rolled his eyes in a fatherly, "I say, they are rather adorable" sort of way before excusing himself and going to make more tea in the kitchen.
'Y'know,' Xander said, just as soon as the slayer/witch hugs tapered off to a point where breathing became an option again, 'my life has a superb cast, but I can't quite figure out the plot.'
'I know the feeling,' agreed Buffy, hugging him a little harder.
'Okay,' he said, disentangling himself with a smile. 'It's shirt-changing time. I'll be right back.'
Before getting up, he took Willow's hands in his own. They felt small and soft. 'Thanks,' he said sincerely, conveying both gratitude and forgiveness as he looked into her eyes.
Willow's face lit up with a relieved smile. 'No problem,' she said quietly.
Giles reappeared in doorway. 'Ah, not to break up the happy moment, but Xander?'
Xander looked up, still holding Willow's hands.
'I believe your cat is in distress,' Giles continued. 'I can hear it mewing rather loudly from the other room.'
'Ohmygod. Angel!' Xander jumped up and darted to the bedroom. He fell to his knees and looked under the bed, where he knew Angel had taken to nesting in amongst the dust bunnies and one of his old shirts.
'Angel?' he said, 'what's wrong, boy-- uh, I mean girl?'
Angel mewed plaintively, looking up from her dark cubbyhole with wide, fathomless eyes. She blinked. Looked like her master was back to normal. Good thing too. Now how about he stopped fooling around and helped her out?
'What is it, Xander?' asked Willow from behind him. She wasn't put off in the slightest by having to talk to Xander's boxer-clad behind waving in the air as he stuck his head under the bed to get closer to Angel.
'I think...' came the slightly muffled reply, 'I think the kittens are coming early.'
'Oh.' Willow's eyes widened. 'Oh! Okay. I'll get some towels and-and boil some water.'
Xander twisted his head to look back at her feet. 'Why?'
'I have absolutely no idea,' said Willow in a panicky voice, clasping her hands together. 'What can I do?'
Xander wracked his brain. There really wasn't anything that Willow could do but get in his way at this point. He had his instructions from the vet and he knew how to help Angel, but apart from that...
'You could... create the birthing environment,' he said, wondering what devious entity had placed the words in his mouth.
'The birthing environment. Right. I can do that. Okay.' She grabbed Buffy's wrist. 'Buffy? You're with me. We're gonna need some supplies from the car.'
'Check.' Buffy let Willow drag her from the room. 'Be right back, Xander,' she called as she disappeared.
'And, ah, should I...'
'Relax, Giles. You don't have to do a thing. You could be the... the snacks guy! Apparently this whole process can take a while.'
'I can do that,' said Giles, relieved. 'So, I'll just be... Kitchen. Snacks.' He took off his glasses and polished them furiously at the sound of a particularly distressed miaow. 'As you were,' he said, and bolted from the room.
With a few parting words of consolation to Angel, Xander quickly undressed -- 'Hello, penis! Wow, I missed you. It's so good to have you back.' If it had been possible, Xander would have picked it up and hugged it -- and pulled on an old pair of work jeans and a ratty t-shirt that he didn't mind getting covered with... He swallowed heavily.
This could be a long night.
Ducking back down to the bed, he pulled gently on the shirt Angel was lying on, bringing both cat and shirt sliding out. Angel made no attempt to run away. She only lay there and looked up at her favourite owner, pleading with him to make this terrible pain go away and get those damn kittens out of her this instant!
He kept up a soft litany of chatter to the cat, hoping to calm her, as he checked her over quickly. As far as he could tell, things seemed to be running their course.
Willow rushed back into the room, followed by Buffy. Behind them, a fluffy white cat strolled into the room as though he didn't have a care in the world, but couldn't quite seem to take his icy blue eyes off Angel. He mewed once and seemed to deflate a little at Angel's pitiful reply. Flick-knife went the corner of the room, where he had a good view of the proceedings and sat down. Xander noted this and wasn't fooled for a moment. If Flick-knife had been a human, he would have been biting his nails and pacing. If Flick-knife had been a vampire, he would have been Spike, but that was somewhere that Xander really didn't want to go.
Without a word, Willow set about drawing the curtains, dimming the lights and dashing around the room, lighting candles. A CD of whalesong appeared. Some fragrant herbs were burnt and a quick prayer was said to Maia, the goddess of midwifery, and to Oofdar, the goddess of childbirth. This done, she hovered at the edge of the room, generally looking nervous.
'Hey, Willow,' Xander said when she finally stopped moving. 'Uh, excellent birthing environment.'
Willow smiled briefly, and calmed a little, blinking often, glad that she could have done her part.
Xander placed a clean white towel on the bed. This done, he ever so carefully lifted Angel onto the bed, laying her on the towel in preparation for the arrival of the kittens. Then he made a promise to himself that he would be bleaching both towels and bedsheets just as soon as humanly possible.
The next few hours were spent by Xander in an agony of witnessing his tiny pet suffer, by humans in an agony of fruitless waiting, and by cat in an agony of fruitful kittenbirth. While Angel bravely produced kitten after kitten, the nervous in-laws spent the time in the next room pacing and drinking endless cups of tea and dutifully nibbling the evermore elaborate snacks produced by Giles, with little or no appetite.
All things considered, it was an easy birth, but it was both Angel and Xander's first, and by the end they were both thoroughly exhausted, but were destined to forever see one other in a new light.
As Angel wearily licked her tiny newborns clean, Xander slipped out to tell his friends that it was over. Giles and Willow were asleep on the couch and Buffy was sitting crosslegged, watching TV with the sound turned down low.
'Hey, Xander. How goes it?'
'They're sleeping now,' he said in his best hospital melodrama voice.
'Sleeping kittens?' Buffy whisper-squeaked. 'Can I go see?'
Drowsily, Willow opened her eyes. 'Sleepy kittens?' she said, yawning and rubbing at one eye with her fist. 'Can-can I see, too?'
Xander smiled, catching the yawn from Willow and sending one right back. 'Sure. I'm gonna move them out here to their basket.'
''kay.' Willow smiled and closed her eyes again. 'Lemme know when the kittens get here.'
Buffy helped with the extra-especially careful moving of mother and babies to their designated basket and Xander carried it from his room. It was only then that Flick-knife finally got to his paws and followed them out. When Xander set the basket down in the corner of the living room, Flick-knife hesitated, and looked up as though Xander was going to make fun of him for caring, then slunk over to the basket, where he immediately abandoned all pretence and began purring and licking Angel's face.
This time when Xander felt the tears well up, he couldn't quite manage to hold them in. He continued watching the feline family at his feet and swiped at his cheeks, hoping fervently that anyone watching would be too caught up in the overwhelming cuteness to notice him crying.
He felt two pairs of arms circle his waist.
'I'm not crying,' he blurted out.
Willow and Buffy shook their heads.
'Probably just after effects of the spell,' Buffy said.
'Mmm,' agreed Willow. 'Residual hormone displacement. It's very common in situations like this.'
'Completely temporary, of course,' said Buffy.
'Oh, of course.' Willow nodded emphatically.
'What for?' Buffy asked.
'For waiting.' Xander pushed away another stray tear. 'For not giving up on my spell.'
'Silly sap,' said Willow, hugging him tighter. 'But in a very manly way.'
Xander laughed at this and tried to dry his eyes, but he was exhausted, both emotionally and physically. He'd been with Angel for hours, not daring to leave her alone for a second. And the spell had taken a lot out of him and now it felt like his emotions and hormones had been all mixed up again and would take a little time to settle. Add to that the all-night and most-of-the-previous-day sex-a-thon with Spike, and his exhaustion was complete.
Spike should be here to see this. He'd pretend like he didn't care, but he'd still want to see the fruit of Flick-knife's loins, as it were.
'Xander?' Giles appeared at their side, peering down at the basket of kittens, squinting sleepily without his glasses. 'Did everything go well?'
Xander nodded. 'Mother and babies are doing fine.'
'That's good.' Giles squinted a little harder. 'Oh my. What... what's that?'
Xander looked where he was pointing. 'Oh, yeah, gross, huh? I guess that's the afterbirth.'
There was a loud thump as Giles fainted dead away.
'Oh dear.' Buffy looked down fondly. 'If he wakes up and complains about concussion again...' Shaking her head, she picked up the unconscious Giles and took him back to lie down on the couch.
Xander watched them go... and suddenly remembered something very important.
'I have to call Spike.'
'Spike? Why?' asked Buffy over her shoulder with a grimace.
'Because he should be here. He's... he's the grandfather!'
Willow pushed him in the direction of the phone. 'Go. I'll stay with Angel.'
Nodding gratefully, Xander went to make the call.
A short while later the living room was a quiet, happy haven. Giles was awake on the couch and sipping yet more tea in an embarrassed fashion. Xander couldn't stop yawning and Buffy and Willow were gathering their things together in preparation to head back to their respective homes. In the background, the washer could be heard chugging quietly, filled to capacity with sheets and towels.
The serenity was obliterated as a certain leatherclad someone crashed in through the front door under a smoking blanket.
'Hey whelp-ette,' the person called. 'Where are you? Didn't mean to be so long, pet, but I ran into Clem and a few of the boys, and you know how longwinded they can be. I left as soon as I got your message. Told them we were on apocalypse alert.' A snicker. 'They went home to hide.'
With every ounce of grace that came with his vampire prowess, Spike had managed to get his blanket caught around his head.
'Hey, do I smell Slayer?'
Xander opened his mouth to answer, and instead paused and frowned. 'What's all that junk?'
'You what?!' the blanket scoffed. 'Haven't I taught you anything? Junk is something you throw away three weeks before you need it. This junk is my stuff.' There was a box of records -- Xander didn't own a record player -- a lamp that he recognised as once belonging in his basement, and something that looked rather disturbingly like a ram's skull, with long, curved horns.
'So?' Spike dropped all of his precious possessions in a pile at his feet. 'So, in order never to be caught short, you just keep everything.'
'I've always thought so.' The blanket was finally untangled and hung on a peg beside Xander's jackets. Spike smoothed back his hair and turned around. 'And another thing--' Spike froze in shock. '... Xander?'
Spike blinked. He'd heard the voice, but he just hadn't registered the difference. Xander was standing there. His beautiful boy. In a dirty t-shirt, holding an armful of tiny kittens.
In less than a second Spike had crossed the room. Xander just had time to put the kittens back beside a sleepy but happy Angel before he was engulfed in a pair of leatherclad vampire arms with hands... oh wonderful, strong hands that felt so right back on this skin that he was so much more comfortable wearing.
Spike looked as though he couldn't believe his own eyes. 'You're back.'
Xander nodded. 'Willow talked her goddess into it.'
With one hand keeping a tight fistful of dirty t-shirt, as though he expected Xander to disappear at any minute, the other raised to ghost over Xander's cheeks, sliding into waves of wild dark brown hair. Forgetting the rest of the world, Spike pulled him closer and kissed him deeply. 'God, I missed you,' he said, without even separating their lips.
The three synchronised gasps of total and complete shock from the room's other three inhabitants went largely unnoticed.
Angel looked up briefly to see what all the commotion was. Seeing her two humans with their faces stuck together, she gave the feline equivalent of a shrug. Oh that, she thought. What's the big deal? They do that all the time. Now who wants to fix me a nice big bowl of milk, hmmm? I'm parched.
Buffy quickly took stock of the situation and was the first to regain control over her frozen vocal chords. 'You guys!' She waved her hand frantically in Willow and Giles' direction, even though she couldn't seem to pull her eyes away from the highly alarming sight that was Spike and Xander in a passionate liplock. 'Hey, you guys?' Panic crept into her voice. 'What are they doing? Gross! That's... so gross!' She shook her head, feeling like she was five years old again and about to cry because something frightening was happening that she didn't understand. 'What's Spike doing to Xander? Spike? Spike, you have to stop macking on Xander. He's not a girl, he's... he's Xander!' Managing to finally tear her eyes away, she looked to Willow, who was still rooted to the spot, mouth hanging open. 'Willow, did you do this? Did your spell go wrong?'
Willow looked highly indignant for a second before going back to being overwhelmingly stunned at the sight of her best male friend kissing an evil male vampire. 'This is nothing to do with me!' she stated. 'Absolutely nothing.'
Buffy turned to Giles, her horror reaching such levels that words were fast becoming superfluous, Giles could read it all in her expression. 'Giles, what are they...' She trailed off. Stretching her facial muscles to their absolute limit -- quite a feat for Slayer muscles -- her expression became even more aghast and she raised her hand to point at Giles accusingly. Giles didn't seem all that shocked. In fact, if she knew her Watcher like she thought she knew her Watcher -- and she did -- she'd say that he actually looked guilty.
'Oh my God.' Buffy clapped her hand over her mouth. 'You knew,' she wailed, her voice a cold, clear instrument of the utmost condemnation. 'You knew about this... and you didn't say anything? You didn't do anything?'
Giles held up his hands in a show of contrition. 'Ah, yes, well, I've been meaning to do something about that for some time now.'
'You've been meaning to... For some time now?' Words failed her. She was five years old again. She pointed accusingly in the direction that all the gross happy kissing noises were coming from and stomped her foot at the same time, making the whole room shake. 'Gi-les,' she whined. 'Make them stop!'
Giles was at a loss. He could only shake his head helplessly. Immobile, the three of them could do nothing but watch. Wholly in the zone of being revolted and yet intrigued.
All the while, Spike and Xander were oblivious. When their kiss finally ended, they stood, Spike's fingers lost in the short waves of Xander's hair, Xander holding himself up with handfuls of Spike's shirt, their foreheads resting together, smiling drunkenly at one another. It was Spike who broke the silence first.
'Did the earth just move?'
Xander shook his head. 'I think that was just Buffy kicking the floor.'
'Oh.' Spike smiled guilelessly. 'It's good to have you back.'
'Good to be back.'
'Kittens came, then.'
'Yep. All present and accounted for.'
Spike's face fell as something rather pertinent occurred to him. 'Oh, wank.'
'What is it?'
'You know that thing you've been talking about doing?'
'The closet thing?'
'Coming out of it, you mean?'
'That's the one.'
With a nudge of his head, Spike directed Xander's attention to the near-catatonic Scoobies. Three mouths were open in stunned little "o"s. Three bodies stood frozen in shocked silence, watching their embrace.
Xander felt a sudden burning heat rush over his face.
'Giles!' Buffy's voice had become a petulant wail. 'Giles, do something! I'd start laying the smack-down, but I'm rooted to the spot with horror.'
'Too late for all that throwing your weight around, Slayer,' Spike helpfully informed her, without looking away from his boy. 'It's love. The real deal.' He smiled reassuringly at Xander who was displaying obvious signs of terror in the face of this unexpected public outing, but was clinging to his hand for dear life and seemed to light up as Spike confirmed Buffy's worst fears.
'No. No way.' Buffy backed away, thunderstruck.
'Buff...' Xander took a step towards her, unsure of what on earth he could say at a time like this. He looked to Willow, hoping that he wouldn't have two outraged friends to deal with. Willow was watching him with wide, damp eyes. She seemed hurt by Xander not trusting her with this important part of his life, but from the looks of it she was giving it some serious thought. Xander's load lightened again as Willow reached a decision and nodded, just once, giving him a tiny smile that read "I'm happy if you are. I love you." And, perhaps most importantly of all, "If he hurts you, I'll squash him like a bug. An icky bug with no backbone, probably a slug." A lump came to Xander's throat as he returned the nod to his oldest friend, wordlessly giving her his thanks.
'Willow?' Buffy's neat little cup of denial was down to thimble-sized. 'Not you, too? You can't all be okay with this.' She shook her head. 'It's Spike. Spike! And Xander. Spike and Xander together. In--' She could hardly bring herself to say it. 'In... love. This has to be Willow's fault. Like the time me and Spike were engaged. Right? It's like that, isn't it? Guys?'
Spike shook his head slowly. ''Fraid not, pet.' He gave Xander's hand another squeeze. 'Not this time.'
Xander tried again. 'Buffy...'
'Smile,' Spike whispered confidentially in his ear, 'it confuses people.'
Slowly, Xander extricated himself from Spike's embrace and turned to his friends with a shaky grin.
'Um, yeah, so who wants a kitten?'
Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid.
~ Mary Poppins
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