Dead Girl Walking
Spike stood in the middle of Xander’s living room, watching as the man made a makeshift bed for Spike on the couch. Xander was so occupied with the task at hand that he wasn’t really paying much attention to Spike, which left the newly female vampire plenty of time to watch Xander without getting caught.
It was a surprisingly pleasant occupation. It had been a long time since he’d really looked at Xander, and he’d forgotten how pleasant the view was.
In fact, it had been almost two years since he’d really looked at Xander, and even now he wanted to gnash his teeth at the memory. He’d been tied to that hellish chair in that hellish basement, and the only thing to look at had been the boy. The first night, stretching on endlessly, staring at taut golden skin where he’d kicked off the blanket, his hands twitching in their bonds, able to look but not to touch. Redefining Hell, and he’d made himself forget about it later, because his unlife didn’t need to get any more pathetic.
Unfortunately, he found himself unable to forget about it now. Sexually, his body was wired the same way it had been, as a male, only backwards. He still walked the straight side of bi, but now that meant that he preferred mostly men, and Xander was, whatever else his faults, definitely male. Spike’s hands itched with the need to touch, and he shoved his hands in the pockets of his borrowed jeans to keep from giving in to the temptation.
Xander finally finished fussing with the makeshift bed and turned around, smiling a little at Spike. His smile was surprisingly… gentle, considering that he hated Spike. At the moment, though, his eyes weren’t shooting miniature stakes of hate; they were inviting Spike to lean a little. Only pride built up from over a century of being on his own kept him from doing just that.
“Bed’s ready,” Xander said unnecessarily. He sort of waved one hand towards it, then returned both hands to his pockets, obviously feeling almost as uncomfortable as Spike was. “That is… if you’re tired?”
“Not really,” Spike said, hunching his shoulders in a half-shrug. “Nocturnal, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.” Long, uncomfortable silence. “Um, I don’t have to work tomorrow ‘cause it’s a Saturday, so if you want I can stay up with you…”
“Don’t need looking after,” Spike snapped. “I’m fine.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Xander said. “I just meant… I could keep you company. With movies, or whatever. If you wanted.”
Spike thought about it for half a second. Considered his already annoying lust for the man. Considered how stupid he would look if he accepted, as if he needed someone to stay with him and hold his hand to keep him from getting hysterical like some chit. Then he considered that he was a chit, and chances were good that Xander’s presence was the only thing holding him together right now, and how much he would hate it if Xander buggered off to bed and left him alone with his thoughts and his all-too-female body.
“Alright,” he said. “Why the hell not.”
It had to be four or five in the morning, Spike thought, but Xander showed no sign of wanting to be in bed instead of watching late-night Law and Order reruns with Spike. Spike was grateful, though he’d rather have his intestines pulled through a needle than admit it.
He was paying more attention to Xander than the telly, though, and he wasn’t oblivious to the fact that Xander was doing the same thing. They kept sneaking glances at each other when they thought the other wasn’t looking, and both refused to acknowledge that they were doing it. Spike knew why Xander was playing coy- evil vampire, newly female, shame and disgust, blah soddin’ blah- but he couldn’t figure out why he was hiding it. He was Spike. He was never shy. About anything, much less about sex.
But this was different. He was still Spike, but he wasn’t. He looked different, though he couldn’t see himself in the mirror and dearly wanted to know what he looked like. He also felt different, though whether that was female hormones or just shock was yet to be determined. He was himself, but at the same time he was someone completely different, and that threw him off and left him not sure of what rules he was supposed to follow.
Finally Xander stretched and yawned. “Sun’s gonna be up in another hour or so,” he said. “And I really do not want to see it. Bad enough when I’m up researching all night, but sitting up watching tv till the sun rises reminds me way too much of freshman year of high school and the accompanying insomnia.” He grinned over at Spike. “I practically sleepwalked through all my classes. Good thing I had Willow to help me out, right? Otherwise I’d probably still be in high school, trying valiantly to remember the difference between an isosceles triangle and a hypotenuse.”
“Thought you blew it up,” Spike said, casually, like the man’s grin hadn’t hit him like a fist to the solar plexus.
“Ah, that we did. Well, I don’t know where I’d be, then.” He stood up, stretched again. “Nor do I want to know. I have many regrets, but passing Geometry is not one of them.”
Spike looked up at him. “Headin’ to bed, then?”
“Yeah,” Xander said. “You should probably do the same. Buffy’s taking us shopping this afternoon, remember?”
“How could I forget?” Spike said. “Hittin’ the mall with the Slayer- now that’s somethin’ I just dream about. Especially at high noon when I can get fried by any passing beam of sunlight. Fun.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Xander said, with an exaggerated and (mostly) faked shudder. “She’s a shopping machine. If she ever turned her attentions towards the military instead of shoes, well, she’d be a general in no time.”
“I’ll look forward to it, then,” Spike said, relaxed a little because of the teasing. Xander grinned at him, then turned to go to bed. Spike resisted the urge to call him back, and just said, “Goodnight.”
Xander turned and looked at him for a moment, his gaze disturbingly acute. Then, he bent down and planted a swift kiss on Spike’s forehead.
“Goodnight, Spike,” he said, still with that observant look, and went into his bedroom, shutting the door behind him.
Spike turned off the telly and sat in the abrupt darkness, wondering why he suddenly felt so alone.
When Xander woke up, it was still dark.
He blinked fuzzily, realizing that he couldn’t have been asleep more than half an hour, and wondering what had woken him up. He heard a creak in his doorway, then, and his glance shot to the area in question, adrenaline kicking in. Late-night visits were generally a bad thing, Sunnydale or otherwise.
“Relax,” a vaguely familiar voice said. “It’s just me.”
Xander relaxed, recognizing Spike. Female Spike, of course, but still Spike. Xander would know him anywhere.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, since suddenly gender-switched vampires didn’t usually come stand in the doorway to his bedroom without a reason, in his experience. Which was admittedly nil, but he still knew Spike fairly well, enough to guess that something was wrong.
“Couldn’t sleep, was all,” Spike said, his voice sounding suspiciously hoarse. “Didn’t mean to wake you. I’ll leave you alone.” A sniff followed his last words, and Xander knew, with a horrible kind of certainty, that Spike had been crying.
Oh yeah. Like his life wasn’t weird enough.
“C’mere,” he said, surprising himself with the invitation as he said it. Spike hesitated, but Xander scooted over, pulling the bedcovers back in invitation.
“I won’t bite,” he said with a little grin that he knew Spike could see, even in the dark. “Don’t hog the covers, though, or I might have to take drastic action.”
Still Spike hesitated. “What’re you doin’, Harris?” he asked, and Xander shrugged.
“A little comfort, is all. You don’t need to get too worried about it. I’ll even pretend it didn’t happen when we wake up.”
“I don’t need-“
“Spike,” Xander said, his patience abruptly expiring. He was exhausted. “I’m tired. You’re tired. You’re obviously not going to fall asleep out there. You probably will here, and if nothing else, you might relax a little. I’m not going to take your vamply virtue, and I’m not going to make a big deal about it later. I will make a big deal about it if you don’t get your butt over here and let me go to sleep. Savvy?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Spike muttered, but he did come over and crawl into bed beside Xander. “Happy now?”
“Delirious,” Xander said, then rolled over and went straight back to sleep.
Spike was twitchy when they woke up a few hours later, but Xander did his best to pretend like nothing happened. Maybe it hadn’t been his best idea, literally inviting Spike into bed with him, knowing that Spike wasn’t dealing well with his female self as it was. But it had been really, really late, and Spike had been wigging, and Xander hadn’t been able to think of any other way to deal at that hour with as little sleep as he’d had. His ability to reason had not significantly improved, but then again, he’d only had a couple hours of sleep and the coffee wasn’t ready yet. Maybe in another ten minutes.
Ten minutes later, he still wasn’t sure what the hell to do with Spike. Besides taking him to the mall, of course, where Buffy would take over and subsume him in her quest for the Perfect Shoe. She’d tried with Xander once, but being a guy, it hadn’t worked. Spike was more at risk now.
Wait. Was that chauvinistic? Probably at least anti-feminist. Cordelia used to tell him that he was a Neanderthal, and didn’t he know that Women’s Lib had happened, or something? Then again, Cordelia herself had been all hyper-feminine and Homecoming Queen and a cheerleader… Though maybe that thought was anti-feminist. And what about Buffy? She was into shopping and big into the girly-girl thing, but she had the girl power thing going on…
“You have the weirdest look on your face,” Spike said, interrupting his train of thought. Xander glanced up from his cup of coffee to see Spike staring at him, head cocked to the side in a classic Spike gesture. The movement called attention to the long, smooth line of his throat, and Xander found himself getting distracted again.
“What were you thinking just then?”
Xander knew that Spike meant before, but he couldn’t help flushing a little. Hoping that Spike didn’t notice, he said, “I was just thinking about feminism.” Spike gave him an odd look, and he added, “And if I’m anti-feminist.”
“You’re the weirdest bloke I’ve ever met,” Spike said. “You dated Anya, then stayed friends with her when you broke up. One of your best friends is a witch and a lesbian. The other takes chick empowerment to an extreme. And you’re worried about being anti-feminist?” Spike snorted. “Harris, you should be worried ‘bout it bein’ the other way ‘round. You’re almost as much of a bint as I am.”
“Thanks, Spike,” Xander said sarcastically. “I have to remember to share more of my thoughts with you in the future, so you can make me feel great about myself.” Wondering why the hell he even bothered, Xander detached himself from the counter he was leaning on and made as if to leave the kitchen.
“Hey,” Spike said, halting him in his tracks. He turned around to see Spike standing there in his ill-fitting clothes, staring at Xander with eyes that were way too big and blue and vulnerable. “I didn’t mean it, yeah? Just… rattled, is all.”
Xander sighed, but he returned to his spot by the counter. “I know. And I know that I should be more sensitive or whatever, but I haven’t had my coffee yet. So I would really appreciate it if you would try to pretend that you don’t hate me, just until this is over.”
“I don’t hate you,” Spike said, looking at him strangely. “You’re alright, for a Scooby. Most of the time, I’m just takin’ the piss. Don’t mean anything by it.”
Xander sighed and leaned his head against the fridge. “Alright. You don’t hate me. And I thought my life was weird before you came to stay here.” He shook his head and sighed. “At least this will all be over in a couple of days.”
Spike looked at him seriously, which was seriously weird. Spike never looked at Xander as if he’d done something clever, because he was always too busy being mocking.
“Thanks,” he said. Xander gave him a confused look, and Spike clarified, “For not saying that I brought this on myself, or making stupid jokes, and for telling me that it’s going to be over soon. It helps.”
“Spike, it is going to be over soon,” Xander said, as if talking to an exceptionally stupid child. “I wouldn’t have said it otherwise.”
“I know,” Spike said, and leaned over to give him a quick kiss in his cheek. “That’s what I meant.”
He was gone before Xander could react with anything other than complete and total stupefaction.
Had Spike really just.... kissed him?
T B C
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