Little Runaway


Part Seven

He stood in the doorway and watched the vampire for a few moments. Spike's room was all dark reds and ambers, with rose-amber paper blinds behind heavier curtains that made the whole room a dim, garnet cave. Dawn's doing, and Spike seemed to like it well enough. Spike moved sporadically, his hands twisting in the sheet, his eyebrows drawn down in a scowl. Xander and Dawn had both learned early on that to walk over and shake his shoulder - touch him at all - was a bad idea. He reacted instantaneously and violently, and getting hurt was bad enough - they then had to deal with a Spike whose mood was beyond foul having been woken by a jolt from the chip. So they'd learned to stand in the doorway to his room and call him.

Do all vampires do that, or just Spike? He always looks like he's having nightmares... The usual corollary - that the evil undead deserved nightmares - didn't follow. Xander suddenly hoped Spike would wake up, because he really wanted to talk to him.

"Hey Spike - Spike? Lunchtime. Wanna get up and have some fish? Spike?" The vampire went still suddenly, and then Spike sat up fast, demon-gold eyes flickering around the room and settling on Xander. A moment of tense scrutiny, and then Spike relaxed and stretched himself - a hard, arching stretch that made every muscle and bone on his upper body stand out in relief and made the thin sheet he slept under slip down to the tops of his thighs. Xander did his best to keep his eyes on Spike's face, although he couldn't help a quick check for fresh bruises.

AND something else. Let's not fool ourselves, here - your day wouldn't be complete without a little mental grope of the evil undead. Xander shifted uncomfortably against the doorjamb, frowning. But it was true. He looked at Spike - a lot - and that was something else he was unhappy about. Spike eased out of his stretch and cocked his head, listening or scenting, Xander wasn't sure.

"Where's the Bit?"

"Next door. She left a note, and yes I went over. She's fine. Want some of that fish we had?" Spike pushed his hands back through his hair, considering. Xander never told him that it didn't do a bit of good - when Spike woke up, his hair was always tousled out of the rigid style imposed by the hair-gel and it wouldn't lie flat again until Spike showered and re-did it. But Xander liked how it looked like this - soft spikes all over his head, a few stray locks curling over his ears and sometimes over the scarred eyebrow. Like today. Xander smiled a little, letting himself look at that for a moment, and then snapped back to neutral as Spike said something.

"Huh?" A roll of expressive eyes, and Spike repeated himself slowly.

"I said, is there any of that soup left, Harris?"

"Oh - oh yeah, sure." Spike nodded and flung the sheet back, standing up and doing another stretch by the side of the bed, and Xander faded back from the doorway before he could embarrass himself, carrying the mental image of Spike's long, lean body with him to the kitchen.

The soup was a tortilla soup, bought at the market from a plump little man with an alarming mustache, and it smelled so good heating up that Xander decided to have a bowl for himself. He leaned against the stove, watching the flames flicker under the pot, thinking about how he was going to get Spike to talk. A lie would probably be best.

Except I'm not too good at that, so a...semi-lie. That'll work

A minute later and Spike ghosted in, silent in bare feet, heading straight for the kettle and the tea-things. He was wearing the loose, striped-cotton pants Dawn had bought him. They were so not the Big Bad, but Xander had to admit he was secretly pleased that Dawn had gotten a size too large, and that Spike habitually wore them with the drawstring barely tied, and without a shirt. Of course, that was a distraction Xander could have done without today, but...

I'll live. Oh fuck. Cuts on his back. Damnit... Xander frowned suddenly, his pleasure at Spike's state of undress effectively quashed by the wounds. They were long, shallow, and regular. In other words - not from fighting. The guy that had roughed Spike up in Guadalajara had friends, and they apparently liked the same sort of thing. Spike sprawled down in a chair and lit a cigarette, seemingly watching the smoke as it drifted up and then was swirled away into nothing by the big, sail-bladed fan they'd put in the kitchen ceiling. Xander ladled out soup, got the fish out of the oven and settled into his own chair. They ate in silence for a few minutes, and then Xander mentally steeled himself and looked up at the vampire.

"Hey Spike..."

"What?" Spike dipped a long slice of pepper into the oil and crunched it - licked his fingers. Xander blinked.

"Listen, I wanted to ask you something." When Xander didn't say anything else, Spike paused with another piece of pepper halfway to his mouth. He looked at Xander, oil streaking down his fingers.

"Well, out with it Harris. What is it?"

"It's just - I was..." Jesus! Just spit it out. Xander coughed - tried again. "Well, not so much me as Dawn was...well... She's worried about you, Spike." Now it was Spike's turn to blink, and he slowly moved the pepper to his mouth and slowly crunched it down, his eyes off in the far distances again.

"Bit's worried about me? Worried about what?"

"Well - about... About how you look. And - act, sometimes. You don't look - healthy. And you wander around in this daze... She's just - a little freaked out. I told her it wasn't anything. Told her you were just - staying out too late...drinking too much." The last thing was total inspiration that Xander had tacked on, because Dawn was a child of her generation and was fanatical about the whole drugs and drinking thing. She didn't like it when Spike drank, but she had come to the conclusion that vampires could drink without the same consequences that humans had to face. Of course, she hadn't told Spike that, because she didn't like it when he was drunk at all. He scared her then. Truth be told, he scared Xander then - more than his drunken father ever had. Spike drunk in Sunnydale had been bitchy and moody and a little comical. Spike drunk here was - vicious and cutting and violent. Spike scowled over at Xander, wiping his fingers on a napkin.

"M'not drinking too much. M'not drinking at all, just lately. What the fuck did you tell her that for?"

"Well, what should I tell her? That you're out letting these - perverts - hurt you and...and you know..." Xander couldn't finish that, but Spike knew what he meant, and he angrily snatched up a cigarette and lit it, snapping his lighter closed and puffing furiously.

"'You know'? Christ, Harris, how old are you? Can't you say the word? Fucked, as in - I'm getting fucked so that you can sit on your ass here everyday. And so the Bit can do her shopping and her - her decorating and -"

"Don't pin this on us, Spike! I have a job, even if it's only part time. It's not my fault I don't have a passport or anything! Oh - wait - that would be your fault, since you didn't bring my ID or anything along! And Dawn isn't even seventeen, she can't get a job." Spike flicked ash onto his plate and glared, and Xander took a deep breath.

"Listen - I'm not - we're grateful, Spike! I understand what you're doing. Dawn understands - what we've told her. But - but that's not the point." Xander hastily held up his hand, forestalling Spike's next comment. "The point is - you don't look good. You look - sick. And these people - whoever they are, they... For fuck's sake, Spike, they hurt you! And they're on whatever drug the guy was before 'cause you come home all - spacey. A lot. And that really freaks Dawn out. I mean - you were goin' on about Dru a couple days ago - saying some really crazy stuff!"

That, in fact, had been the thing that had prompted this whole 'talk'. Spike wandering out of his room at ten in the morning, eyes dilated black and his face alarmingly pale, even for a vampire. Rambling on disjointedly about Dru and little girls, blood and tea parties and his Family... Talking as if they were there, in the room, and getting frighteningly lost in the house - going so far as to try to open a door to outside. Dawn had shrieked and grabbed him and dragged him to his room, agreeing with him when he called her 'Dru', letting him stroke her hair - getting Xander to help him back into bed. Spike had dropped off almost at once, and hadn't said a word when he'd gotten up. When Dawn had tentatively brought it up that evening, he'd said he'd had a bad dream and must have been walking in his sleep - that he did that sometimes. Dawn, who had her own share of bad dreams, had accepted that and hadn't mentioned it again, but Xander had been shaken - had been pretty damn frightened.

What if he had walked outside? What if he'd - Christ! Pull it together, Xander. Focus. Spike was staring at him, and when he lifted his cigarette to his mouth to take a final puff, Xander saw that his hand was shaking.

"You do remember that, don't you? You remember - trying to go outside?" Spike stubbed the butt out in his plate with a little more force than necessary - leaned forward and put his elbows on the table, his head in his hands.

"Yeah, I remember. Fuck, Harris, I was just - just havin' a bad d-dream."

"No you weren't. You were sleepwalking , Spike. You were out of your mind. What the fuck do these people take? Why do you let them hurt you? I mean - the money isn't worth it, Spike! We don't need half the stuff we've got - we can get by on less -"

"No, Harris." Spike squeezed his eyes shut - dug his fingers into his hair. "We aren't 'getting by on less'. Niblet...she's not gonna live in some cramped little hole, worryin' about her next meal. She -"

"I already told you - don't put this on us. It's cheap to live here. You're not doing this so Dawn can have ten pair of shoes. Spike -" Xander stood up abruptly and paced to the stove and back - went around the table and pulled a chair up close, so that he was inches from the vampire, his knees almost touching the long thigh. Spike hadn't moved - was still hunched over the table, eyes shut. Xander reached out, very slowly, and put his hand on Spike's bare shoulder, and Spike jumped like he'd been shot. Xander hastily removed his hand.

"Spike - tell me. We're down here to keep Dawn safe. But you're acting so fuckin' - weird - it's making me nervous! I mean - if something came through the door right now, could you even stop it? I can't do this alone, Spike. But I'm gonna have to try if you won't tell me what's going on. We have to fix this."

"Fuck you, Harris," Spike said, but the usual venom wasn't there at all - in fact, he just sounded tired.

"C'mon, Spike... Please?" Xander added the please deliberately - put his hand back on the smooth, muscled shoulder for completely selfish reasons. Spike heaved a huge sigh - leaned slowly back in his chair and looked straight at Xander.

"I'm payin' off a debt, Harris. In about - two more weeks, I'll have it paid in full. That's why I'm...letting these people - do what they do. It pays triple what just a regular fuck and bite would." That was the last thing Xander expected to hear and he blinked, confused.

"Ookay... What debt? I mean - how the hell have you gotten into debt so fast? It's not - not this house, is it? I mean, we don't have to -"

"No, no, no - sod it all, Harris, it's not the house and it's not you, and it's not Dawn. It's... I found a Yn'n Clan here. They do mojo - very specific mojo, with electricity." Spike was looking at him, his hands tense on his thighs, his jaw tight, and Xander just sat there for a minute until suddenly it clicked.

"You're - doing something to the chip, aren't you."


Xander didn't move - Spike didn't - and they sat there for at least a minute. And then Xander blinked, and slowly rubbed his hand over his face. "Right. Okay. I... Should we leave? Should Dawn and I just - go? Before you do it, I mean?" Spike's eyes went very wide, and Xander swore he got paler, although he didn't think that was possible.

"No. No, you - Harris -" Spike stood abruptly, fumbling for a cigarette, scrabbling after his lighter and almost dropping it. His hands were shaking hard now, and Xander stood up as well - reached over and gently cupped them, guiding the flame to the tip and holding it there until the cigarette caught. Spike's hands seemed colder than they should be, and Xander wanted to hold them - chafe some warmth into them. Instead he carefully let go. Spike drew in a deep lungful of smoke - tossed the lighter down and laughed shortly, a sort of rasping bark.

"Fuck me, Harris, you just - I'm not going to kill you. When will you -? Fuck it." Spike paced over to the sink and stood there, his back to Xander, the cigarette held trembling out over the drain. Spike's back was so tense his muscles were quivering, and one of the cuts had opened. A thin thread of blood tracked slowly down beside his spine, and Xander picked up a clean napkin and walked over to him - carefully blotted the blood up and threw the napkin away.

"You made a point of telling me for, what - almost a year? how you were gonna kill me the minute the chip came out. What am I supposed to think?"

"Maybe you're supposed to think that - that since I didn't give up the Bit to the hell-bitch and since I helped the lot of you for months that I... That you can trust me." Xander stood there for a minute, and his inner voice was telling him two things - one, that the evil undead can never be trusted, and two, that he really, really wanted to just lean onto Spike's back and slip his hand's around that narrow waist - lay his cheek on one cool, hard shoulder. Xander irritably shushed his voice. It really wasn't being terribly helpful.

"You're right. You got Dawn down here - you've been taking care of her... Hell, you've been taking care of me!" Xander walked back to the table and sat down heavily. "Okay - so, let's say I trust you, and you're not going to kill us when you get it out, or whatever. What are you going to do? I mean - are you going to - to go back to being all..." Spike turned around, leaning against the sink, and there was a faint smile on his face as he lifted the cigarette to his mouth.

"Am I going to go back to being a real vampire? Hell yeah. S'what I am, Harris - I can't be anything else! I'm not gonna bathe in the blood of ten virgins every night or anything, if that's what you're wondering." Spike took a last puff and dropped the cigarette into the sink - came back over to the table and sat down again, nabbing a slice of squash and inspecting it. "There's old vamps here - old demons. This country - has a lot of magic in it. They don't appreciate the kind of random slaughter the Family got up to in the old days. Hell, when me and Dru were here last time, even she reined it in. Doesn't pay to fuck with the Old Guard 'round here. And bathing in blood isn't all it's cracked up to be, anyway. It clots too fast." Spike dipped the squash into the oil and chewed, and Xander mulled that information over - made an obligatory 'ewww' face at the blood comment.

"Okay, so - when this happens - you're done with this guy's friends, right? You're done being a damn - gigolo and coming home with fucking bruises and shit, right?" Spike shot him that wide-eyed look again, the manga look, and Xander bit his lip. Why not just go down on one knee, huh Xander? Jesus.

"Well, yeah. They might not actually survive the night it comes out." Spike had a faraway look in his eyes at that, and Xander shivered just a bit.

"And you'll be done with this - spacey shit too, right? You'll be - you'll be normal again? I
mean -" Xander held up a hand and couldn't stop the grin from stretching his mouth wide, "as normal as you get. Right?"

"You git," Spike snorted. "It's the damn shite they take. These people take more fuckin' crap than I did in the seventies."

"Oh." Xander thought about that. "Is that gonna be a problem? I mean - are we talkin' withdrawal and - and undead rehab and that kinda stuff?" Another snort from Spike, who was devouring a tomato slice, and Xander grinned again. He's actually talking and acting the Spike I know and lo- whatever! Go Xander!

"Nah. Can't get addicted, me. Doesn't happen. But I can feel the - come down, I guess you'd call it. But then, I'm all healed up by the next day or so, so I'll be fine once I'm - once it's done. Just a day or two of, you know, the shakes maybe."

"Okay. Good. That's good. I think the idea of an undead Betty Ford Clinic is just too twisted even for me." Spike actually laughed, tilting his head back, and Xander fought the idiot grin that threatened to split his face in two.

God, I'm glad that's over. No bloodshed, no yelling, no - Spike leaned forward, pinning Xander with a calculating stare.

"Right. You got your answers. I want a few of my own, mate."

Oh crap.

Part Eight

Spike watched Xander flush - watch him drop his eyes and lean back in his chair, trying to put a distance between them.

Gotcha, Harris. Some things you don't wanna tell me, I know. But you're gonna. Spike allowed himself a small smirk of amusement as Xander jumped up and started gathering plates and loading them into the sink - putting away the soup. Avoidance at it's best. Spike just ate peppers and squash, watching him until the human suddenly leaned his hands on the sink, wet and soapy to the wrists.

"Well, are you gonna ask me anything, or are you just gonna sit there and - stare at me?"

"You're the one been doing the starin', mate. Every time I move - hell, when I'm not moving - you're starin' at me. What's that all about?" Spike could hear Xander's heart, pounding in his chest. Could smell the sweat, and the tinge of fear. And the blood, because Xander was blushing again, and it made him smell so...damn...good. Spike got up and stalked across the kitchen - stood just behind Xander, close enough to feel the living heat - close enough to see the tremors in the hands that were clumsily washing a plate.

"I'm just - just making sure that you're not... That those people, that they're not...hurting you too much." Spike stood absolutely still at that. Stared in astonishment at the back of Xander's flushed neck and shoulders. At the curls of mahogany-colored hair that were sticking slightly to the damp, tawny skin.

"You... Pet, that's..." A shiver went over the body in front of him, and Spike lifted one hand - let it hover just over Xander's shoulder. Let it slowly down, back to his side.

That's - not what I thought I'd hear. That's something I NEVER thought I'd hear. Not from THIS Scooby, at any rate.

"You care, Harris? Worry 'bout me?" Spike took a step closer - inhaled silently, letting the wonderful scents of blood and fresh salt-sweat and...arousal...roll over his tongue. He closed his eyes for a moment in sheer bliss.

"Well yeah, S-spike. Me and Dawn'd be - pretty bad off if something h-happened to you." Xander tried for cocky, but his voice was strained and hoarse and faltering, and Spike smiled, glad he was behind the boy. Glad he could have the illusion of control, because he was...completely thrown.

What now, then? Never thought... Well, can't be anything more than - curiosity. Spike swayed fractionally closer - felt his chest just barely, barely brush against Xander's shirt. Xander was frozen - breathing in sharp little breaths that hitched his ribcage and made the faint brush of shirt-on-skin come and go; now harder, now softer. Spike lifted both hands - let them delicately trace the air just above Xander's wrists and forearms and biceps.

"That's so, Xanderrr..." he said, letting his voice go low and rumbling. "But that's not why. Tell me why." Xander was shivering now, his hands clenched tight on the sink's edge. Spike edged a little to one side and saw that his eyes were closed, his lower lip caught so hard between his teeth Spike was surprised that he hadn't drawn blood. He let his hands continue their slow, slow caress, and he saw the gooseflesh rise on Xander's arms - saw him twitch, just a little, wanting the touch - anticipating and dreading.

"Don't be scared, pet..." Spike whispered, and Xander let out a strangled, breathy sound that might have been a laugh.

"Oh - okay, Spike. I won't be afraid of - of somebody who -" Xander clenched his jaws shut, shaking his head slightly, and Spike wondered how he'd end that sentence if he let himself. The instinct was to pounce; Xander was naturally prey, and at this moment he might as well have been lost and reeking of blood in some dark street, because the demon was ready to exploit any weakness it saw - ready to put a claw into any tiny crack and pry until the soft, sweet core - visceral or mental, made no difference - was exposed. And Xander...

He's just - a bruise. One deep bruise that's just kept getting hit, and hit until the lightest touch makes him flinch. Makes him...lash out. Makes him raise that heavy, heavy shield... White knight to the end. But there's a way past that. Soft and slow would win him. If I wanted him. The demon wanted - but the demon was as happy to kiss as kill, and Spike felt, much to his surprise, that he wanted Xander to stop being afraid for real. But he couldn't resist a little push, because he was Spike, after all, not William.

"Wouldn't hurt you, pet," Spike whispered, and let his hands settle finally, lightly, on Xander's wrists, let his fingers circle around the muscle and bone and hold, ever so gently. Then he bent his head and put his lips on Xander's shoulder. Let the tip of his tongue ghost over the point of bone that was just there, under the skin. Tasted, for long, long seconds the salt-flesh, and the sweet that was soap, and the underlying taste that was just Xander - something like a plum, something like anise, rich and tantalizing. He pulled away then, letting his fingers trail over Xander's wrists. Turned his head to let the soft lock of hair that was just there, along Xander's neck, brush his cheek.

Xander seemed to have stopped breathing, and as Spike took one step back, then another; Xander suddenly shivered violently, his head dropping down between his shoulders. Spike turned silently and went back to his room - curled into the bed. He was tired, and he was still feeling strung out. But he smiled, as he lay there. Xander hadn't stopped him - hadn't said a word. And the human's arousal and fear had been about equal. Wonder how long he'll deny it? Wonder...what he thinks...when he stares at me.


When Dawn had finally left for her dance - she'd had to model her dress, of course, and Xander had had to take pictures - the house seemed echoingly empty. Xander wandered nervously from living room to kitchen to living room again, thinking and not thinking about the day before. About barely-there touches and that strange almost-kiss, and Spike's voice whispering 'wouldn't hurt you...' He'd started out lying to Spike, and he'd ended on a lie. He didn't check him over for new hurts every morning because of Dawn, or because he was afraid Spike was being hurt too much by his most persistent 'clients'.

Well, okay, YES, that IS one reason. The other reason is...because...I hate it. I hate seeing him like that. He shouldn't have to do that - those people shouldn't be ALLOWED to do that and... I'm not supposed to care what happens to the evil undead! I should be worried about the damn chip! But I do and I'm not and I want to kill those fuckers myself...

Xander ended up on the balcony that looked across the street to the Gulf. It was Marine Day, and there were boats strung with colored lights in the harbor, and a few scattered fireworks going off, glittering like early stars in the soft, damson twilight. The moon was a hand span above the horizon, huge and saffron-gold, and Xander just leaned against the rail and watched it rise, slowly burnishing from copper to silver-white. The damp, sea-salt breeze felt good ruffling through his hair, and he felt he could stay out there all night.

Yeah, just hide out here. Not face...anything. Why do I have to fall for all the WRONG people? I mean... Everybody I've ever liked has turned out to be some sort of horrible monster... Or been ashamed of me, thank you SO much, Cordy. Or...fuck...just wanted to use me for something. And Anya, you fall right in that same category as Faith, even though I didn't plan it. But we didn't have anything between us but our mutual need Some scrap of normalcy so nobody will know exactly how fucked up we are. So where does Spike fit in? He said he wouldn't hurt I trust him?

That was the hardest part. That was the clincher. Xander already trusted Spike, in several different ways that had nothing to do with sex or love or hearts being ripped to shreds and stomped on. Xander trusted Spike to take care of Dawn no matter what. Xander trusted Spike to tell him the truth about pretty much anything: balls-out honesty was one of Spike's better traits. Xander trusted Spike...

And there it is. I TRUST him. I have trusted him. He stood up to Glory and didn't say a word about Dawn. He's helped us, and helped us... He's taken all our shit and never once has he let Dawn down... Or us. He might not seem like a part of the gang but he IS, no matter how much he denies it or...BUFFY denies it. And I'd put him at my back before anybody else on the planet. I trust him in THIS.

Xander sighed and closed his eyes - breathed deeply of the mingled scents of ocean and flowers and damp earth; the acrid stink of fireworks and the subtler smoke of...

Cigarette. Oh! Where is he? Xander listened hard, and was finally rewarded with a soft inhale and exhale, right behind him.

"I know you're there," Xander said softly, and Spike laughed, very low.

"Wasn't tryin' to hide, Xander." Xander took in a small, sharp breath.

He just said my NAME, damnit, he didn't... That shouldn't get to me. "So what - what's the plan for tonight? You...going out?" Another puff and Spike sent the cigarette butt arcing out to the street, tiny coal and trail of sparks like a distant comet.

"No, not going out. I thought I'd stay in. Thought I'd... take up where I left off." Xander opened his mouth to ask 'Left off what?', but he knew exactly what, and his heart lurched into a faster, harder rhythm.

"Spike..." Xander said, and then stopped, and sighed. Because he didn't know where to go from there. He wanted, with all his nerve-endings, those touches and that kiss again. But what else he wanted - what else he might get - he had no idea. And it was too much like Anya, in a way: physical attraction and a pit full of sharpened stakes under there somewhere because could they ever really have anything in common beyond the desire for a fuck? Because whatever Xander thought he was feeling, he was damn sure Spike wasn't, and he really, really didn't want to go down the path of utter rejection once again.

Fuck. I trust him to be himself and I donít think that includes...feelings...for me. Beyond the horny kind. Xander knew, without a doubt, that he was easy. Give him a smile, give him some attention, and he was ready to give away his heart. And he also knew, down deep, that of all the people he might choose, Spike would be the one most able to tear him into the tiniest, most painful shreds possible.

"What is it, Harris? I can practically hear the wheels turning." Spike's voice was still low, but there was a bit of an edge to it now, and Xander turned against the rail so he could see the vampire. Spike was leaning against the doorjamb, looking a little pissed off. Back in the striped pants, his hair still damp from a shower.

Damnit. Not helping. Shouldn't have looked.

"I'm just... What do you want from me, really?" Spike just stared at him for a minute, then his gaze lowered and raked Xander from head to toe and back, a hot light coming up in his eyes.

"Thought that was obvious, mate."

"Right, okay." Xander pushed his hands back through his hair - crossed his arms. He knew he looked defensive, but he couldn't help it. He was defensive.

And I am not freaking out. I am calm. Larry freaked me out because he went from the guy that liked to flatten me the guy who might wanna kiss me. Spike is NOT freaking me out because he...wanted to kill me not too long ago...Jesus Christ. Xander shook himself a little and tried to get back on track.

"Yeah, I get that, but... Spike, I don't think I that. This. Whatever." Now Spike looked more than a little pissed, and he came off the jamb and strode forward, standing right in front of Xander. Close enough to touch, and Xander clenched his fists under his arms and didn't move.

"Can't do what? Can't lower yourself to touch the evil undead? What, I'm beneath you, too? Where d'you get such a fuckin' high opinion -"

"Whoa, wait!" Xander held up a hand, accidentally brushing Spike's arm, and they both flinched.

Where the hell did THAT come from? Hit a nerve...a Buffy-nerve, I bet. Let's not think about Buffy. "I didn't say anything like that. Just - damnit, Spike, I wanna know what you think you're gonna get from me!" Spike stared at him, scowling.

"Get from you?" Spike looked like he was about to say something else, but suddenly he just backed off. "Harris - what's goin' through your head?" Xander sighed and looked down at his bare feet - looked back up at Spike, who was against the doorjamb again, arms crossed as well.

"What's going through my head is... Well, basically all the other people I've gotten involved with. And if you exclude the non-humans, you have one girl who didn't want to be seen in public with me, and...Willow, who became gay. Or whatever. And one girl who tried to kill me and -"

"Who tried to kill you?" Spike looked intrigued and Xander sighed.

"Faith. Remember her? The other Slayer?" Spike's eyes went wide and Xander wanted to -

Want to kiss that look right off his face. Damnit. "And then Anya, who maybe doesn't count as human and just barely noticed that I was gone. Not a good track record. And I'm just..."

"Gun shy?" Spike was smiling now. Smiling in a rather predatory way, but smiling, and Xander felt a wave of warm tingles run down his back at that. It was a nice smile.

Maybe I should be running and screaming. That CAN'T be good.

"Harris - you're only...what...nineteen?"


"Right, twenty. Do you really think you should have found your - one true love by now?" Xander had to laugh - that sounded so funny, coming from Spike.

"Well, no - probably not. But... I like people, you know? And when I like them, I tend to...really like them. And that's just never worked out well for me." Hand him the keys to the castle. Why not? Fuck. Spike's smile had softened now and he moved forward again, slowly. Stalking, maybe, or maybe just trying not to spook him.

"So you're sayin' me," Spike murmured, and Xander had to roll his eyes.

"Well - yeah. But I know you don't. And I just -"

"You know? Tellin' me what I feel, now?" Spike was inches from him again, and he reached out and put his hands on either side of the railing, trapping Xander against it and getting just that much closer.

"Well, no, I -" Xander felt a moment's panic, and he took in a sharp breath as Spike's thigh brushed his. Spike's eyes were half-closed, and his tongue flickered out over his lips.

"That's good. Shouldn't make assumptions, Xander... What I think I'm going to get from you is just..." Spike leaned forward suddenly and kissed him, and Xander froze in complete shock.

Oh my god. Okay. Oh! Do something, idiot! Xander let his eyes go shut - unlocked his jaw and let Spike kiss him, and it was really - quite - "Nice, that's..."

"That's what I'm gonna get from you, Xander. Something nice. Something better than nice. You've been watching me, and thinking about me - 'bout drivin' me crazy with all those looks and...blushes..." Spike kissed him again, slowly, his tongue stroking and tasting, and Xander felt his arms unclench, and he hesitantly reached out - put his hands on Spike's biceps. Spike's mouth was open a little wider, pushing a little harder, and Xander let him in - tipped his head a little and kissed back, tasting smoke and toothpaste, tasting something sweet. He felt Spike's arms move - felt Spike's hands settle lightly on his hips and squeeze, just a little. After a moment he pulled away, and Xander found himself staring at Spike - staring into his eyes and seeing want and maybe...some sort of affection there. Something, he just wasn't sure what.

"Spike - I don't know -"

"I know you don't. Listen, Xander. I'm not your soul mate, yeah? Not your one true love. But I - like you. You might rush in where you shouldn't and you might be a little too mouthy for your own good, but you're brave, and you stand up for what's yours, yeah? I know you'd do anything for the Bit." Spike moved close again, rubbing his cheek along Xanders, gently. Putting tiny, nibbling kisses along his jaw.

"We're here, and we...get along. Told you already - I won't hurt you, pet. Sometime the Slayer'll figure out what's what with Glory and then you'll be goin' home, yeah? And until then...why not just...enjoy this?" His hands had moved, slowly, and they were under the edge of Xander's shirt now - thumbs rubbing slow circles on his ribs and his fingers pressing into Xander's back. Xander knew his own hands were tight on Spike's arms - tight enough to hurt a human, but probably nothing to the vampire.

Why not? There's a lot to enjoy here. And he's probably right. Doesn't everybody get a crush on their...kidnapper? Stockwell syndrome or...oh!...something like that... Xander gasped softly as Spike kissed his throat; wet kisses that trailed down to his collarbones.

"Stuff like this never t-turns out well," Xander muttered, last effort, because he wasn't fooling himself. He knew he was in for a world of hurt. It already hurt, to think about going back to Sunnydale and seeing Spike go after Buffy again. Except he doesn't talk about her anymore. And he doesn't talk TO her... Maybe -

"Won't turn out bad. Promise, Xander. Won't hurt you." Spike slid his hands up the back of Xander's shirt and pulled him close, kissing him hard this time; kissing him like he was drowning and Xander was oxygen and Xander just - let go. It was more than he had in him, to resist the obvious desire. The want that was in that kiss and in the hard body that pressed eagerly against him.

Hard - oh god. What do I - do, what - Spike ended the kiss, laughing softly, his groin tight to Xander's and their mutual arousal pressed between them.

"I can hear your heart, pet. Goin' a mile a minute."

"I'm just a little - a little inexperienced. And freaked out. I don't have any clue -"

"Mmmm..." Spike rolled his hips a little, and Xander groaned softly. "Don't worry about it, Xander. Can't do this wrong. C'mon, come inside." Spike took a step back and his hands trailed down Xander's body - caught one hand in his and tugged. Xander followed, trying to calm down a little. Spike led him into the living room and sprawled down onto the couch - pulled Xander down on top of him.

"Just do what feels good, yeah? Whatever you want." Spike was cool and solid and so there, lying not quite still on the smooth, pale linen and Xander froze for one long second, totally unable to think of anything whatsoever. Then he dropped his head down and kissed, using all the tricks Cordy had taught him and Anya had seemed to like the best. Spike made a small noise in the back of his throat and moved, bringing up one knee so that Xander's hips settled between his thighs and their erections were side by side, pressing hard.

"God -" Xander put his forehead on Spike's shoulder - took a deep breath and kissed the skin there, tasting. Soap and that sweet taste again, like honey or molasses. Thick and dark - delicious. He kissed everywhere he could reach and then squirmed a little lower, and they both gasped at the friction. Spike's hands, that had been kneading and rubbing at his back tightened for a moment and then he was pulling at the edge of Xander's shirt - getting it up, getting it off, and Xander had to slide back up a little, wanting to feel skin on skin.

"So warm..." Spike murmured, and he rubbed his hands slowly up Xander's back to his head - stroked through his hair and pulled him closer, kissing again.

Oh, good kissing - this is really good kissing... Why did Buffy have such a problem with this? Not thinking about that - oh! "Spike!" Xander pushed himself up on his arms, startled to feel Spike's hand at the front of his jeans, slipping under the waistband.

"You don't want me to, Xander?" Spike was wide-eyed and tousled - Xander belatedly remembered his hands burrowing into Spike's hair - and Xander slowly let himself back down.

"No, I - I was just...suprised, is all. It's - all right."

"Better than all right," Spike murmured, and pulled him down again, and then things got...hazy.

Oh yeah, better than all right... Xander's hands were shaking, and his jeans were gone, and Spike was moving under him like a snake, like a cat; all writhe and arch and hiss. The cool skin was like cream and honey, smooth and sweet, and Xander couldn't stop touching it, couldn't stop tasting it, and Spike was making these little murmurs of pleasure every time he licked or sucked or bit, and he really couldn't stop doing that, either. Xander wanted - something - wanted more, and he pushed his cock into Spike's belly and ground against him, panting.

"Spike - fuck, I -"

"Let's go in the bedroom, pet," Spike whispered, and Xander shivered all over.

Part Nine

"Yeah - okay, yeah..." He pushed himself clumsily upright, letting Spike go, and the vampire pulled him in for a hard, hard kiss.

"You're so fucking sweet, Xander, taste so good..." Spike had his hand again, pulling him along and Xander stumbled after. There was a candle lit in Spike's room - a fat, saffron-colored thing with four wicks, smelling of beeswax and citrus and Xander laughed, slightly hysterical.

"Wow - romantic c-candlelight. Were you planning -?" Spike tipped his head a little, eyebrow going up, gaze roving over Xander again in that calculating, greedy way and Xander felt a spasm of want twist in him, making him gasp.

"Just hoping. Can't blame me now, can you? You kept looking, pet, and...thinking, and..." Slow smile, just a hint of that cock-sure twist of the lip. "Can't hardly resist you, love."

"Oh..." Xander couldn't make his voice work, after that - couldn't even put another word after that small and wondering sound and Spike laughed softly, pulling him over to the bed. To the tangle of dark-red sheets and garnet-colored pillows, cotton cool against Xander's palms and knees as Spike laid himself down on his back and took Xander with him; legs wide, knees bumping Xander's ribs, and Xander froze again.

"You... Spike, I d-don't -"

"Shush, love. Already told you - can't do this wrong. Here -" Spike twisted, his body a rope of amber and milk in the candlelight, deep turquoise pools of shadow. Xander hovered, on his knees, watching Spike unearth a glass jar from the litter of books and cigarette packs and newspaper on the bedside table. Watched him unscrew the lid and tip it invitingly towards Xander. A waft of smells - cinnamon, musk, ginger - and he reached hesitantly and scooped some out. Creamy-smooth, cool and heavy.

"Go on then, love - make yourself all slick for me, won't you? Make it so you'll just glide in, love, all hard and slippery and hot..." Spike's voice was a rumbling purr in the dimness, his body arching and open and waiting, and Xander smoothed the cream over himself, gasping a little at the coolness, groaning a little at the delicious glide of his fingers.

"Come on, then Xander, come on -" Spike whispered, and Xander reached out and rubbed the last of the cream over Spike's cock, watching in fascination as the vampire's belly rippled and tensed - as a pearl of clear liquid welled at the tip.

"Spike -"

"Here, love," Spike murmured, and his legs were around Xander's ribs, pulling him close; his hand was on Xander's cock, guiding him, and Xander felt the ridged flesh of Spike's body - felt the resistance that melted to a clinging friction - grasping, cool flesh that seemed to draw him in and he gasped for breath, panting.

"God, god -that's - fuck, that's -"

"Sweet, sweet - little more, love, all the way, come on - need you, Xander, need you right inside - need all of you inside - come on -" Spike's breathy, moaning voice made Xander shiver and he pushed forward, groaning.

Nothing like - Anya, nothing like - anything - that's - god, that's just - Xander suddenly couldn't wait - couldn't stop - and his hips bucked forward, burying him as far as he could go, and Spike arched against him, one leg curling tight around his ribs, one slipping up onto his shoulder. His cock was moving with his body, darker for the blood and Xander stared - drew back and pushed forward and gasped again - watched Spike writhe again; watched his long fingers skate over Xander's trembling forearms and then they slid over his neck - into his hair - and Spike was pulling him down, urging him on and Xander just let his body take over - let his cock and his hips and his mouth dictate what was to come.

Stuttering, hitching glide, clench of muscle, tongue and teeth and lips consuming his own, sucking out his breath and pushing it back in and Xander felt something, small bump of flesh that pressed at his cock-head and he pressed back, twisting, and Spike keened, soft sound of pure delight.

"Oh, fuck - Xander, love, right, right - there, Xan, again, do it again -" murmured into his mouth, hands clutching his back, grinding his hips forward and Xander did it again, again, again, panting and moaning himself, shaking from the sensations, lost in the smoky musk that was Spike's skin and hair, lost in the molasses-sweet taste of his mouth and the crooning voice that told him 'yes' and 'more' and 'love, love, so good, fucking lovely...'. Spike's hand slipped between them and then his fingers were at Xander's mouth, slipping in, and Xander tasted something cool, salt-sweet, and he sucked greedily, flickering his tongue over and around Spike's fingers.

"That's me, that's my taste, love thatís - god - that's how good you are, Xan, make me fuckin' want you so much -" Xander shuddered all over, driving deep, his neck arching, eyes closing. Spike's mouth was cool on his throat - cool and wet and sharp, prickling, and he knew and the knowledge sent spasm after delicious spasm through him.

"Fuck, Spike - yes, yes, yes - fucking yes..." The fangs were like needles of silver ice, sliding in effortlessly and the suck of Spike's mouth pulled at the very root of his cock. His orgasm was like a heartbeat, booming through his whole body in hot, tight waves and he cried out, thrusting furiously.

Beneath him Spike was growling, panting, and Xander pushed in harder, his body locked in the final twisting spasm and Spike arched up hard against him, his cock pushing at Xander's belly and a sudden flood of cool sperm slicking them both. Xander's arms were shaking - his legs were - and Spike just pulled at him, pulling him down, taking his weight between his thighs and onto his chest, kissing and licking and stroking his hair.

"Thank you, pet, so sweet, so good..." Spike murmured, and Xander shivered in delight.

"Jesus, Spike, that was - was so fucking good -" Xander kissed what he could reach - neck and shoulder, jaw - finally found Spike's mouth and kissed him hard - sucked the cool tongue into his own mouth, bit at mobile lips. Old-iron taste of blood and a dark, smoky sweetness. They both jerked a little, startled, at the sudden crump of an explosion, and then the room was washed in scarlet and white, green and gold and blue and electric purple as fireworks began to flare and die over the Gulf. Spike's skin was dyed every color - his eyes glittered like stars and Xander just laughed.

"Did you plan this, too? Fireworks?" Spike ginned up at him - squeezed him tight with arms and legs and the muscles deep in his body and Xander groaned, doing his best to press in closer.

"Sometimes things just work out," Spike murmured, and then they were kissing again and Xander knew he was lost, gone - hopelessly snared. And he didn't care. The next day, when Dawn called Buffy - it was over. Glory was dead. Dawn was ecstatic. Xander...just wanted to die.

The End

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