Fine Tuned

Randy Sex Kitten

Part 1

Spike looked up as an unusual sound caught his attention. Someone was… singing? He dropped the pillowcase down to the ground and dropped the last few feet, pushing away from the tree as he landed. Checking to make sure all of the items he had 'borrowed' were still intact, he moved over to the window, wondering who would be singing at this hour.

As he peered into the Harris’s basement window, he smiled maliciously. “Xander Harris, playing a guitar. Will wonders never cease?” He watched for a moment before slinking back over to the tree and hefting the pillowcase to his shoulder. He slunk off into the night, headed towards Willie’s and a nice glass of human.

Spike stood outside the window, kicking himself mentally for being here at all. “He’s got my blood, only reason.” After lying reassuringly to himself, Spike squatted down outside the basement window and wiped at it with the sleeve of his shirt, looking in.

Xander sat on the pull out sofa, propped up on the back, his bare feel flat on the bed. Spike watched his fingers as they moved along the neck of the guitar. Xander was smiling. A soft smile that spoke of relaxation and comfort. Soft chords filtered through the night air and Spike settled in to listen.

Spike crushed out his cigarette, making sure to leave it on the street before he prowled up the yard, ducking down as the front door slammed open and a couple came out, their voices loud as they argued over a choice of perfume. The pair climbed into the car and disappeared. Spike moved closer to his window, dropping quickly to his knees when the music began once again.

Three weeks of watching and listening and sitting had left its mark. The ground was softer than it once was, conforming to the vampire and offering a comfortable place for him to rest as he watched his human.

Xander was also in his normal position, propped up on his bed, knees bent as he strummed his guitar. Spike watched as Xander’s bottom lip disappeared into his mouth and was nibbled thoughtfully. A few adjustments and Xander stopped, leaning over the side of his bed, reaching for something that Spike couldn’t see.

A notebook was tossed up on the bed, followed by a pencil. Xander flipped through the pages, only picking up the pencil when he came to the page he wanted. Spike listened and watched as Xander jotted down notes, singing quietly under his breath.

Spike noticed the smile that always appeared when Xander played. He tapped his foot in time with Xander’s singing, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.

The phone rang and Xander looked at it reproachfully before sighing and laying down his guitar. “What? Of course I wi… I said yes! Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute, Will, I have to… Ok, ok! I’m leaving!” Xander slipped on his shoes and socks before digging through his closet for a shirt. He moved to the door and disappeared.

His guitar lay on the bed, temporarily forgotten.

Spike watched eagerly from his perch as Xander arrived home. Tonight was the night. After two months of waiting, Spike had finally gotten together enough money. As soon as the basement door shut, Spike dropped from the tree, landing noiselessly. He moved to the window and watched as Xander noticed the box on the bed.

Spike grinned to himself. “Open it, you wanker.” Xander moved cautiously towards the bed, his hand reaching out for the box. He paused and looked at the phone. “No, no, no… Just open it!” Spike encouraged softly.

Xander seemed to come to a decision and sat down, dragging the oversized shipping box into his lap. He tore at the tape, finally succeeding at getting the lid opened. Spike bounced in place as Xander’s eyes widened. “Oh.”

He lifted the case from the box, caressing its smooth lines, looking at the closet guiltily. Xander’s eyes dropped back to the case in his hands. His fingers moved and Spike could hear the locks on the case pop open. Xander raised the lid and gasped. “Oh!”

The case and box tumbled to the floor as Xander pulled out the guitar. Spike began to breathe as Xander’s fingers moved across the wood. Spike had searched for weeks for the perfect accompaniment for Xander’s music and believed that he had found it.

The guitar was a Washburn. It had a Dreadnought body, the front Spruce and the sides and back Hawaiian Koa. The fingerboard was inlaid with Mother of Pearl diamonds and Abalone decorated the body and headstock.

The exotic Koa had cost Spike a bit more, but he had liked the color, the sound, the feel. He moaned as Xander’s fingers touched each inlaid piece and traced the logo adorning the headstock. “So beautiful… But who?” The guitar was suddenly clutched against his chest as he stood, walking towards the windows and peering out into the night.

Spike leaned against the wall, only daring to walk away when he heard the case snap shut once more.

Xander was gone. The basement empty. Spike stood under the tree, which had supported him as he gazed at Xander every night over the past year, enjoying the serenity that surrounded him when his human played.

He sighed, leaning his head against the tree, listening to the music that was forever in his mind. And it was only for him. None of the other Scoobies had ever seen Xander’s guitar. He knew that now. Music was something that Xander didn’t share. With anyone.

Spike crushed out his cigarette and walked back to the street, wondering if Xander would still play now that he had moved in with the demon bint.

Spike walked past their apartment, listening closely. The only sounds he heard were Xander’s voice raised in anger, Anya’s in tears, and the baby’s cries of hunger.

Part Two

Xander lay curled in the dark, holding his precious daughter close. Her tiny fingers clutched and kneaded his thumb, her other little pink hand fluttered around the curve of her bottle. Greedy lusty noises gurgling in the back of her throat.

Leah Quinn Harris, adored by her father, abandoned by her mother. Anya had bailed sometime last night, and Xander didn’t know if she was coming back. He really didn’t know if he wanted her to come back.

Quinn’s murky blue eyes slowly drifted shut, her tiny mouth released the nipple with a quiet pop. Xander smiled down at her, and pulled the bottle away. He rested his palm on her chest, amazed when she seemed to disappear under the breadth of his hand. Quinn’s rapid pulse tat-a tatted against his flesh, filling Xander with a peace he had never known. This tiny child, this fantastic creature, his reason to live.

Part Three

Xander passed Quinn to Willow, tucking the white ribbon of her bonnet back under her chin. She still carried the sweet scent of chrism and oil and freshly bathed baby. Willow gazed down at the trusting infant and sighed, then looked across the room towards Tara. This was their dream, and somehow it didn’t seem fair that Xander was the one to have it come true for. She carefully locked the jealousy away, then handed Quinn to Buffy.

Buffy pressed a quick kiss to the infant’s forehead, and whispered a quiet prayer. She really didn’t have hope that the baptism would protect her almost niece, but after everything she had seen, one more blessing couldn’t hurt. Giles was next, and he cradled Quinn in his rough hands like she was the most precious artifact he had seen. In some ways she was, this tiny child was the embodiment and essence of everything they had been fighting towards. Risking their own lives on a daily basis, in hopes that the next generation would live safer lives.

A quiet noise from the doorway caught Xander’s attention. Spike gently closed the door, and stepped fully into the apartment. Xander stared in amazement at the blonde vampire. Gone was the black t-shirt and jeans, in their place were carefully creased slacks, and a soft gray sweater.

“May I?” Spike held his hands out towards Quinn, Xander noticed they were trembling and paler than normal. He nodded, not trusting himself to speak for some reason. Giles dropped a kiss to Quinn’s head, then placed her in the outstretched arms of the vampire.

Spike gazed down into her alert blue eyes, and felt something sizzle and flicker across his flesh. A knowing, an understanding. This child was special. He brushed his thumb down the bridge of her nose, hissing slightly when the holy oils came in contact with his skin, but didn’t pull away. Xander watched as long moments passed, holding his breath as Spike caressed his daughter’s face.

“I...I wanted to see the priest anoint her with the chrism...but I...” Spike looked up, suddenly feeling foolish and out of place. His eyes caught Xander’s and he held Quinn out to her father.

“She likes you, I think.” Xander smiled, trying to reassure Spike, “I’m glad you wanted to be there, I understand why you couldn’t. But you are here now, and that counts.” He put his hand on Spike’s shoulder, gently guiding him to the rocking chair.

“Hold her while I warm up her bottle?” Xander waited until Spike was comfortable, with Quinn tucked tight against his chest, then began to usher the rest of his guests out.

“Ok, ladies and Giles, party time over. Time for lunch and then a nap!” And all too soon, Spike was left alone with Quinn and Xander.

He looked back down at Quinn, smiling when she began to coo and purr. Two tiny hands reached out to touch his face, petting and stroking the curve of his jaw. From the depths of his memory, he pulled his favorite childhood tale.

In the time of swords and periwigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets-when gentlemen wore ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta-there lived a tailor in Gloucester.

He sat in the window of a little shop in Westgate Street, cross-legged on a table from morning till dark.

All day long while the light lasted he sewed and snippetted, piecing out his satin, and pompadour, and lutestring; stuffs had strange names and were very expensive in the days of the Tailor of Gloucester.

Xander stood propped against the kitchen doorjamb, letting the comfort and peace of the scene wrap and settle around him. And never thought to question it. Spike just looked so right, softly reciting The Tailor of Gloucester to Quinn. Like that’s where he belonged. Xander felt something broken in his heart begin to heal.

Spike glanced up as Xander approached, letting the warmth in his soft brown eyes wash over him.

“Think she’s asleep.” Spike whispered, vague memories telling him that infants woke to sudden sounds. He felt an odd reluctance when Xander reached down to take Quinn from her nest in his arms.

“She takes comfort from you, feels safe in your arms.” Xander smiled knowingly. He had felt the same pulling sensation handing his daughter over to Willow. “I need to put her in her cradle though, she sleeps better there.”

Spike gently handed her over, pressing a light kiss to Quinn’s cheek. Singeing his thumb was one thing, lips quite another.

Xander carried Quinn into their room, standing next to her cradle and holding his daughter tight against his chest. Hoping to somehow express the total love he felt. Spike quietly followed, watching the pair from the safety of the doorway.

”Piercing our hearts with thy pulchritude.” Xander’s muffled laugh told Spike that his murmured words had carried across the silence of the room. Spike retreated, making it almost to the front door before Xander caught him.

“Hey, don’t go.” And just like that Spike was in Xander’s arms. The hypnotic growl and purr of an alto sax drifted in through the open window, and Spike found himself swaying in time to Billie Holiday crooning about stars and Alabama. The steady thumps of Xander’s heart an echoing backdrop to the gentle brassy drums.

“Ya know,” Xander mouths the words into Spike’s crisp golden hair, “I know what ‘pulchritude’ means. Fancy little thing on the ‘net called word of the day. And I’m not.” Spike nuzzles closer, breathing in the mingled scents of father and daughter. Started thinking words like ‘perfect’ and ‘home’. With a start, he realized Xander was still quietly talking.

“I found this word, and thought for the longest time that it fit you, but it doesn’t. Not really.” The music changed, Billie now sang about wandering and finding and being true.

“Etiolate. aren’t. You’re...vibrant and bright.” Spike can hear the crack and pop of Xander’s knuckles as he struggles to not hold tight, to not clutch at the body held close to him. He can smell the loneliness and restlessness pouring out like warm oil.

“M’not breakable.”

Xander stilled, drawing in a tiny muted gasp, then crumpled to the floor. Spike let himself be tangled in a mass of arms and legs tucked Xander’s head under his chin and absorbed his tears.

There were no words, no muffled sobs or pointless recriminations, just the silent tears of an overwhelmed man. Spike waited until Xander calmed, then pushed gently on his shoulders. Xander immediately scooted backwards, the scraping sound of his hard-soled shoes accusingly loud.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have...”

Spike cut his words off with a razor-sharp look. “You are not alone, Xander. I...I’m here.”

Xander stared, eyes dancing between hope and disbelief, then he nods once, quick and jerky motion that dropped his hair down into his eyes.

Spike was home, and that’s all there was to that.

“So, lunch?” Xander climbed to his feet, holding a hand out to help Spike up. As he slid his hand into Xander’s, he felt the same frission and pop that he had holding Quinn. Something special indeed.

The meal was simple, a casserole that Joyce had brought, cookies from Willow, champagne snuck in by Giles. Spike grinned as he popped the cork, Xander ducked when it flew over his head and watched as it landed in the Jell-O mold cranky Mrs. Adman from down the hall had left. A banquet fit for paupers, spread out on the living room floor, bedroom door cracked just enough to hear any stirring noises. Their quiet chatter and soft laughter covered the rumbles and sighing of the wind outside. Quinn’s startled cries timed perfectly with the flash and crack of lightning striking somewhere south of the apartment. Xander was on his feet and through the bed room door before Spike.

While Xander calmed and soothed his daughter, Spike rummaged through the fridge, pulling Quinn’s bottle from the shelf and starting water warming on the stove.

“Thanks Spike.” Xander watched, hip resting against the table, Quinn tucked up against his shoulder. Spike nodded over his shoulder.

“This should be done by the time you’ve got her nappy changed.” Xander laughed quietly, and wondered to himself how he was going to explain to Quinn’s teachers about her other father.