Continues from Little Runaway

Thank you, [info]reremouse for the once-over and the Spanish help, and [info]elcazavampiros for the other Spanish!

Little Runaway 2


Part One

For three days Dawn had been bouncing through the house, chattering almost endlessly and Xander was about to lose it. Spike just laughed, watching her; indulging her sudden desires to buy presents for everyone, to start packing now, to call Buffy again, Willow again. Xander understood her excitement, but he was on edge, and it was getting harder and harder to hide.

For the first time in months Xander had actually sat down and talked to Willow, the phone hot against his ear, and heard the whole story. The Council had finally come to its senses, so to speak, and realized that one Slayer simply could not deal with a rampaging Hellgod. They'd begged, borrowed, maybe even stole power and information and had finally found the thing that would defeat her. This after three abysmal attempts to contain her that had lost the Watchers a double handful of their members. The final solution to Glory had been something called a Qui-Gon Jinn Puzzle Box - Willow's voice had drowned a little in static and Xander wasn't sure that that was exactly what she'd said - that had sucked Glory into an alternate dimension that was inside the box. Roomy, apparently, since it had taken a half-dozen of her little troll acolytes and some random demons, as well.

"You should have seen it, Xander! It was all - lights! Camera! Action! Except no actual camera 'cause we weren't there to take pictures except maybe we should have 'cause it was like this amazing tornado or something made out of lights and sparkles and...and fairy dust -"

"Fairy dust?" Xander asked, laughing, and Willow laughed too.

"Well, some sort of highly magical dusty stuff! It glittered, okay? Like in Legend when Una tried to tick Jack..." Willow went off on some complicated ramble that somehow equated a movie fairy with a million-year-old Hellgod being sucked into a cloisonné prison and Xander let his mind wander.

Spike hadn't touched him since that day. Well, that wasn't strictly true. He had touched him, but nothing had come of it. Brushing his hand over Xander's back when they were both in the kitchen - propping his feet close and letting his toes bump Xander's while watching TV - coming up behind him and nuzzling into the hair at the nape of his neck and then slipping away. Xander had yet to touch back - he was nervous about Dawn seeing - and he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. Wasn't sure if this was just some game, to Spike. Some...easy let-down because now they'd be going back to Sunnydale and the Stalk-the-Slayer business would start up all over again and Xander really didn't think he could watch that. He wondered what the likelihood was of him moving to, say, Oxnard and getting his old job back.

Not like he didn't say. Because he DID. He said - we aren't soul mates and we aren't each other' true love. Just - having fun. Just...enjoying it while it lasts and FUCK...why did it have to last such a damn short time?

"Xander? Are you there?" Willow's voice was sharp with - something - and Xander straightened unconsciously in his chair and cleared his throat.

"Yeah, I'm here Wills, sorry, just -"

"Oh, it's okay! I know you're excited about coming home... I can't believe you're finally coming home! It's been so long -" And Willow was off again, detailing all sorts of things, large and small, that had changed since they'd left. Talking about classes and about Tara, talking about some UCS guy Buffy had gone out with, talking about how hard dealing with Glory had been - stuff she had put in her emails but needed to say again for some reason and Xander just kind of zoned out.

"Xander, I don't think you're listening," Willow said, and Xander nodded distractedly before realizing he was on the phone and she couldn't see that.

"I - I guess I'm a little...overwhelmed. Things are just kind of different now, you know? It's kinda...weird.

"Yeah. Speaking of...I saw your mom in the grocery store the other day. She looked - good." Willow's voice was tentative and Xander sighed. He'd asked Willow to print out a letter for him - a story about needing some time on his own and that he was okay, everything was fine. Something so his folks wouldn't worry. They hadn't sent any sort of reply back and Xander had given up asking.

"You did? Did she - I mean...that's great." Willow sighed, and Xander clutched the phone a little tighter. She didn't say anything about me. She didn't...ask. She doesn't... Xander slammed the mental doors shut on that thought hard. He was not going to sit here and think about his parents and get all...

"I'm sorry, Xander. She seemed a little - preoccupied. I - we didn't talk long."

Just long enough to confirm that they don't care. Fuck. Neither should I. Xander rubbed his eyes with one hand, doing his best not to let it get to him. Don't want to care.

"Wills, I gotta go," Xander said, his voice strained and a little hoarse, and he heard Willow take in a sharp breath.

"Xander, I'm really -"

"Don't, okay? Just...don't. I - I'll talk to you tomorrow or something, okay? Bye Wills."

"Bye Xander. Say hi to Dawnie for me." Willow's voice was sad but Xander resolutely clicked the phone off - set it on the table instead of throwing it. He got up and went over to the fridge and got a soda out and stood leaning against the sink, drinking slowly.

I'm twenty, damnit! What they think doesn't matter anymore. I'm...fuck, I'm in MEXICO! I'm on my own and I helped save the fuckin' world and... Xander glared at the floor and blinked rapidly. Think about something else, for fucks sake...think about...anything...

The Council had finally coughed up some cash - reinstated Giles' pay and dealt with the mess that Joyce's death had made of Buffy's finances. They were paying for Giles and Buffy to fly down to Veracruz and bring Dawn and him home. Spike - had muttered something about how he wasn't going to abandon the DeSoto and he was driving back, but there hadn't been an offer of a ticket for Spike in the first place.

Can't believe they'd do that to him, after all he's been through for her...for DAWN. He let Glory torture him! And he... Well, nobody but Xander knew how he'd financed them here, and Xander was pretty sure that if he were to tell Buffy or Giles or even Willow about it they'd be disgusted and angry. Angry because he was biting humans and disgusted because...

Because they would be. They'd think 'whore' and that would be it. But he's just doing...what he can. Selling what he can 'cause he doesn't have a choice. I mean...I don't like it but I understand it. The Scoobies, he was sure, would never understand. And when did they become 'The Scoobies'? I'm still a Scooby...aren't I? Xander sighed, and shook his head. He really wasn't, anymore. Research was mostly beyond him when he had to work two jobs just to stay afloat, and his years of fighting beside Buffy had been more a string of bad luck and near misses than anything else. It was a scary kind of thought. It made him feel - adrift. Like he had no anchor, and no real home.

Two more days and they'll be here. Two more days and I'll be back in Sunnydale. Lost my apartment so I don't have any place to stay... At least Anya put it all in storage for me but...where can I go when I get there? Crash with Giles, maybe... Back in Sunnydale and...I don't even know if I WANT to go back, anymore... Thinking about it all made Xander feel a little sick and he dumped the rest of his soda down the sink and paced around the apartment for a while, jittery and unsettled. Dawn was off with Serafina, getting in as much time as she could with her friend before they left and Spike was -

"Would you stop stompin' around like a bloody elephant?" Spike stood in his bedroom doorway, in those damn striped pants, glaring at Xander with sleep-heavy eyes.

"I'm not-! Oh, fine. I am." Xander flung himself down on the couch and a moment later Spike ghosted over, sliding over the back and settling bonelessly beside him. Xander wanted to get up again - wanted to touch him - but he held himself still and kept his eyes down, concentrating on picking at the threads on the worn knee of his jeans.

"What's troubling you, pet?" Spike said, and the change in his voice - from irritated growl to soft concern - made Xander glance sharply over at him. Spike was looking at him, sitting perfectly still and pinning him with that clear, intent gaze that made Xander want to squirm. Hair every which-way and left-over makeup around his eyes from last night. Double duty at the blood-house because he'd stepped up the de-chipping schedule. Xander couldn't tell if the circles under his eyes were smeared eye-liner or not. He forced himself to stay calm - to meet Spike's look with one of his own.

"I - it's... I'm just...nervous about going back." Xander watched the scarred eyebrow lift itself and braced himself for... something. What, he didn't honestly know, anymore. This Spike was so very, very different from the Sunnydale Spike. Hell yeah, different. And not just the...ohgodsex, either.

"Are you? Why's that, now?" Spike asked, and Xander had to suck in a startled breath.

He's being nice! God I hate this. "Well I guess because... Willow's been telling me how much has changed and...about the Council and everything and... I don't have an apartment anymore or - anything... It's just - weird." Spike just looked at him some more and Xander wanted to bolt. Wanted to take the vampire's shoulders and shake him until the cool, calm look was rattled right off his face. I'm nervous because there's every possibility that once we get back to Sunnydale and you start chasing Buffy again and I start being...HIM again I'll just go postal! Fuck, I might start right here! Xander shook his head, looking away finally, searching frantically for the remote to the TV in an effort to get some noise - some distance - between himself and his thoughts and Spike. He shivered convulsively when cool fingertips touched his jaw - gently cupped his face and turned his head. Spike was sitting up, leaning towards Xander a little and his eyes were wide and open.

"Not as bad as all that, is it?" he said, and Xander felt a surge of hysterical laughter bubble up in his chest and he gritted his teeth against it.

"Jesus, Spike - it's..." And Spike leaned forward and kissed him. It was several minutes before Xander could come up for air.

"You just need a little soothing, yeah? C'mon to bed, pet," Spike murmured, his lips brushing Xander's and Xander just sat there, shivering, his eyes shut and his skin singing where Spike's hand and lips were touching it. "Xander? C'mon..." Spike's hand in his, tugging, and he got up and stumbled into the bedroom after Spike - let him take his clothes off and push him down on the bed. Let him do this slow, crawling grope all over him, the striped pants on the floor and Spike like a snake, heavy and cool and impossible to escape. Lips and fingers, tongue and teeth and Xander was starting to hyperventilate. He jerked hard away from Spike - pushed himself up the bed until the back of his head and his shoulders hit the carved wood of the headboard.

"Xan -?"

"Don't - don't. Just - quit, just -" Xander knew he looked like an idiot - chest heaving and his cock so fucking hard and his eyes about to brim over with tears. But it had hit him like a fist to his gut. Hit him hard. Spike was playing with him. Was - was doing what he did at the blood-house, Xander was sure. The image in his mind - so vivid it made him sick; Spike talking soft and sweet to some rich bitch with a complex - Spike easing her down and smoothing things over and Spike being gentle and it was just so fucking wrong.

"What the fuck is your problem, Harris?" Spike snapped, and Xander took in a hard breath, gasping chuckle.

"Now that's the S-spike I know and love, that's the - that's -" Spike made a disgusted sound and got up - stalked out of the room. Xander laughed again - wrapped his arms around his ribs and looked up at the ceiling, willing the tears to go away, surrounded by the smoky-sweet, musky smell that permeated Spike's pillows and sheets. There was a distant crashing sound and Spike stalked back in - flopped himself onto the bed and grabbed Xander by the back of the neck, pulling.

"Sit up, you git," he growled, and Xander sat up slowly, blinking. Spike pried one of his hands loose from his ribs and shoved something into it. "Drink that," he ordered. Xander looked down at the water-glass in his hand - at the two or three inches of amber liquid inside.

"Jesus -"

"Just drink it, Xan," Spike said, and there was a crack in his voice - a twist of utter weariness and Xander ducked his head and drank. The whiskey burned - the fumes went up his nose - and he choked, coughing. Spike smacked him sharply on the back and pushed the glass at him and Xander finished it. Spike snatched the glass away and set it on the floor and then turned back to him.

"Now tell me what in hell is going on." Spike sounded pissed - looked pissed - but his hand had crept out and was on Xander's knee, just lightly resting there, thumb stroking into the crease behind it and Xander watched, mesmerized.

"You don't have to do this, you know. I mean, I f-figured it out and -"

"Figured what out?" Spike sounded genuinely confused and Xander risked a look up - got the full manga-look of wide, wondering eyes and he groaned. The whiskey was like liquid fire in his belly and the heat was creeping outwards, tingling.

"Look, I know that you do this, okay? That you - act like you...really want - I mean, it's what you do every night, so you don't have to d-do it with me. I'm not a fucking idiot," he added, sniffing. Spike's thumb had stopped moving and his eyes had gone from wide-open to narrow - to pissed off and Xander cringed a little under that basilisk gaze.

"You think this is what I do?" Spike's voice was low and hissing and Xander flinched again.

"Well - yeah. You - make 'em feel good, don't you? Make 'em...want you." Spike just stared at him, as unmoving as a statue and Xander started to inch away, aware that something bad was probably going to happen. His skin was hot, and his legs felt too far away - felt rubbery.

"You think I'm...treating you like some...trick."

"Aren't you? We're gonna leave soon - go back to S-sunnydale and..." Xander turned on his side - grabbed one of Spike's pillows and curled around it. His head was swimming. The familiar - comforting - scent on the pillowcase filled his nostrils and he breathed in deeply - peered at Spike over the bunched case. Spike was still staring at him, but the 'kill you now' intensity of his stare had dimmed a bit to 'maybe I'll just make you cry instead'. An' I probably will. Fuck. This is just so pathetic. I KNEW this was a bad idea...

"What does this have to do with Sunnydale?" Spike asked, and Xander sighed, exasperated.

"Hello - Hellmouth! Where the Slayer lives? The girl you've been stalking for - months?"

"I have not," Spike snapped. "I've been here for months, watching out for the Niblet and you." Spike stared at him and then he sighed heavily, running his fingers back through his hair. "We talked about this, Xander. You said - this isn't true love or anything."

"No, you said that," Xander mumbled into the pillow. He felt - fuzzy. Hot and fuzzy, like a bear.

"You feel like a bear?" Spike asked, and his voice was so bewildered that Xander laughed. And then he stopped and took in a hitching breath, because Spike's hand was back on his knee, cold on his heated skin, nearly weightless.

"I told you...stuff like this never turns out well. I like you, Spike," Xander said, trying to convey what he really meant. Not actually sure what he really meant, but knowing it was true. He liked Spike - a lot. And he was... I am so very fucked. He watched Spike frown a little, his head to one side.

"Harris..." Spike said helplessly, and Xander pushed his face into the pillow and shut his eyes - tried not to want...anything.

"I really like you, Spike. You said you wouldn't hurt me," he added, barest whisper, and he heard Spike heave another breathy sigh. Then the bed was shaking a little and Spike was shifting - was curling up behind him, tucking Xander up in his arms, chin on the crown of Xander's head and his body touching at every point down Xander's back. One cool hand stroked down his shoulder and arm - found his own hand and curled around it, thumb rubbing lightly over and over his knuckles.

"I won't, pet. Won't hurt you. You don't love me, Xander...and neither does she, yeah? It was all - for nothing. You just...just sleep a little now and we'll talk about it later." Xander wanted to protest that - you don't know how I feel! but did he really feel that way, anyway? The stresses of the past few days, and the upheaval he felt to his very soul - and the whiskey all combined to make his limbs heavy as stone, his eyes impossible to open. He sighed, his breath catching a little, and Spike's arm hugged him tighter, and then he slipped sideways and down into sleep.

Part Two

Foolish, stupid...BOY. Human boy...scared boy... Spike sighed, and pushed his face gently into the swath of loosely curling hair that lay over Xander's shoulder, breathing in the scent of himself and the boy mingled together.

Christ, what is he saying to me? What is he...? He can't FEEL anything for me - he hates me! But Spike, Slayer of Slayers and William the Bloody, the vampire who'd not only hunted with Angelus and Darla but survived them, too - didn't lie to himself. Others, hell yes, at the drop of a hat. To himself - never. Xander hadn't actually hated him for a long time - for months, truth be told. It had been a slow shifting of perspective - a gradual awakening to some facts that had previously been ignored or maybe just...deliberately overlooked. But Xander didn't hate. Xander trusted him, and liked him, and by all that was sacred and profane, the boy was as sweet in bed as any Spike had ever had. Sweeter, even, because he came to Spike all new and untried and willing, with nothing held back and no hidden agenda.

And that's a first, isn't it? 'Cause when has anybody ever just said 'here, take me' and not asked - demanded - for something back? Spike sighed again, and shifted a little closer, soaking up heat from Xander like a snake on a rock and Xander moved slightly in his sleep, inching closer. God, it felt good.

He's going BACK. He's going to be with his mates again and he's going to...forget about this. Forget that we almost made a family, forget everything... Fuck. Who was the foolish, scared boy now? He sounded...much too much like William, a hundred and more years ago when he'd told Angelus he and Dru were to be together forever. That it was destiny. Angelus had laughed - had taken Dru away into the other room and he'd had to listen to them fucking the rest of the night.

Angelus isn't here, now - it's just the Watcher and the Slayer and red-witch who'll laugh...and Xander... Fuck, fuck, FUCK. Spike shoved it all aside - wished he'd taken a drink of that damn whiskey himself. It was mid-afternoon, and he was still tired, and he just - Just wanted a little more time... he thought, and closed his eyes, and told himself to sleep.


When Spike woke again he could tell it was hours later - near evening - and he could hear Xander on the phone in the other room. He didn't listen too closely, just eased over into the space Xander had left, feeling the last bit of heat wisping away and trying to capture it. Xander stopped talking - turned off the phone and came to lean in the doorway.

"You awake?"

"Yeah. Who called?" Spike sat up a little, resting on one elbow. Xander was only in his jeans, the fly and button not even done up. Spike's gaze tracked the long, straight hairs that made a path from his navel to the thicker hair at his groin. Xander's heart kicked up a notch and he looked back up at the boy's face.

"It was Dawn. She - wanted to spend the night next door, I told her it was fine." Xander hesitated for a long moment and then he came forward and sat on the edge of the bed. He looked down at his knees, his hands knotted between them, and Spike resisted the urge to reach out and stroke his back.

"Spike, I - I'm sorry. For earlier. I didn't mean to freak out -"

"S'okay..." Spike murmured, and he went ahead and reached out - ran his fingers lightly down Xander's back, pausing to rub gently at the small of his back. Xander shivered just a little. His heart was pounding harder now, and Spike could smell the surge of nervous sweat that broke out on him. "Pet, what is it?"

"Listen, Spike. I - I want... I don't...want...togobacktoSunnydale." He gasped the last bit out and squeezed his eyes shut, head bowed, and Spike took a moment to play it back over in his mind - sort the babble into words.

"You don't want -? I don't - understand." He kept his hand rubbing in slow, slow circles despite the leap of excitement in his belly. Xander sighed and sagged back into his touch a little, his hands clenched tight enough to make his knuckles white. He opened his eyes but kept his gaze firmly fixed on his hands.

"Look, there's just - there's nothing there for me! I don't have a job anymore or a place to live...and I'm not moving back in with my parents. Anya has moved on in such a big way it's not even funny and I don't want that now, anyway...if I ever really did..." He stopped, biting his lip, and Spike just watched him, waiting.

Waiting for what? For him to say he wants...this? Us? Not his one true love. Not his soul mate. He's just a sweet boy, just...fuck...just lonely.

"Can I - can I come back with you? Drive back? And you could just...take me somewhere... I had a job up in Oxnard for a while, maybe I could -"

"Xander..." Spike stopped him - stopped himself. Ruthlessly squashed the excitement that was coiling through him - the emotions he wasn't sure he wanted to feel, again. "Your mates are waiting for you, though. Slayer an' Red - they'll be happy to see you."

"Well, sure. For a few days. And then it'll be back to 'Xander, what job did you get fired from today' and...'Are you dating someone yet?' and...Willow thinks she can fix everything with cookies and Buffy just doesn't wanna know and... I just - can't do that anymore, Spike." Xander's fingers kept twisting around themselves and he kept staring at them. "I liked being here! I liked - being somewhere different, and...and taking care of Dawn... Made me I could really do something. Like I was worth...something. You know?" He finally looked up at Spike, his eyes huge and dark and full of longing - full of need.

Oh fuck. Jesus Christ, yeah. I know what that feels like, love, I know... Spike stared back, unsure of what, exactly, he wanted to say and he saw the shutters go up - saw the shield lift, hiding the bruised little boy behind dented steel.

"I'd rather go back alone, huh?" Xander mumbled and Spike sat up fast - put his hand on Xander's shoulder and squeezed, just a little.

"Now hang on, pet. Not what I said. In fact, I didn't say anything, did I? I'm just... I'm surprised, is all. You really - don't want to go back? Go back home?" Xander shrugged, looking down at his hands again - slowly uncurling them.

"This place has felt more like home - like a real home - than Sunnydale has in a long, long time." He looked back up at Spike, and the need and longing were back, and Spike could feel his resolve crumbling - his denial slipping. Won't last, won't last... First human I take out, he'll bolt... First time I kiss him with blood on my lips he'll scurry for home... Oh FUCK but I want him... Spike was utterly bewildered. His feelings, his damnable, laughable, human feelings - had gone from grudging respect to lust affection. And his happiness at having a family - even a temporary, not-quite-right one had become a craving. An addiction. He couldn't do without now. Didn't want to.

I'm the one said I wasn't true love and here I am actin' like a soddin' girl... Actin' like...a lonely boy... Christ. We're a pair, we are... Always hated being alone.

"I'm goin' back, you know. Stuff there I need to get - some things I...don't wanna leave behind. After that, though... I'm leaving, Xander. I'm done with the Hellmouth and everything in it." Xander gaped at him.

"You... But, you love Buffy! Aren't you - aren't you gonna go back and, you know - stalk her some more?" Tiny bit of a smile in the corner of the boy's mouth and Spike laughed softly.

"My Slayer-stalking days are over, pet. I got out of there - got away from her and... Realized a few things. It's over. It never really was and now it's...over. I'm gonna - do a little traveling. Like the old days, with Dru. Think you can handle that?" Xander's full-on smile, when it came, was slow and sweet and wide open - full of untarnished joy and blooming hope.

"Yeah, I can handle that, Spike. I can handle...a lot." And he shot a look of utter wantonness at Spike.

"Oh, I'll bet you can, pet... Bet you can. Wanna show me what you can handle?" Spike grinned, and Xander finally relaxed and leaned over Spike, laughing. His kiss was confident - devouring - and Spike lay back under him and let him do what he wanted. Let him trace over every inch of Spike's body with his lips and his tongue and his teeth; the rough skin of this callused fingers rubbing with delicious friction over his nipples and ribs and hip-bones - over the insides of his thighs and the tip of his cock. Xander - a child of his generation - seemed fascinated by the uncut state and explored with wide-eyed wonder until Spike thought he was going to explode.

"Christ - Xan - you something...fuck!" Spike bucked and froze when Xander's mouth closed around the tip of his cock, the heat and slippery slide of it making him pant for breath he didn't need.

"That any good?" Xander murmured, lips buzzing against him and Spike twisted the sheets in his fists, his hips just working, slide and twist and grind, totally out of his control.

"It's lovely, pet, it's - fuckin' brilliant -"

"Mmmm..." Xander hummed, sinking a little lower, his teeth catching a tiny bit and his mouth like liquid flame. His hands were stroking Spike's belly - pinching at his nipples and then dragging down his body to his thighs. Xander stroked the sensitive skin in the crease between thigh and groin and then took Spike's balls in his hands, kneading lightly, tugging and rolling, and Spike pulled his legs up, letting his knees fall open wide, sobbing in a breath.

"Xan, please love, need you to -" Xander's eyes flicked up to look at him - a wanton's look from under thick lashes and ruffled locks of hair. His own body was writhing slowly on the sheet, oiled in sweat and all but drowning Spike in musk and anise and salt-sweet scent. God, oh god, just his mouth, just...

"What do you n-need, Spike?" Xander whispered, his breath shivering over Spike's belly and Spike sat up, lifting Xander by the shoulders so he could kiss him - fuck his tongue into that mouth and taste their mingled flavors.

"Wanna fuck me, pet? Like you did before? I want that - want your heat in me -" Xander's eyes were dilated nearly black - his cock was slicked with pre-come and dark with blood, and when Spike put his hand there and stroked Xander quivered all over.

"Fuck - yeah, I - god, god!" Spike froze, and Xander did, and then Xander was scrambling over him to grab the little jar of unguent they'd used before. The ginger-musk-cinnamon of the cream hit them both and Xander breathed deeply - scooped out two fingers-full and smoothed it over himself.

"That's all you need, love, c'mon now - Xan, c'mon -" Spike just wanted him - just wanted him in, just wanted him to push that heat inside him - surround him with it - weigh him down. He pulled his knees up, waiting, and Xander rubbed the last of the cream over Spike's cock, panting now. He lined himself up and pushed slowly - so slowly.

"Oh, fuck..." he breathed, eyes closing, back arching, and Spike pulled his knees wider - arched his hips up as far as he could, willing the boy to move, for fuck's sake.

"Xan - Xan, just do it, just -"

"Yeah -" Xander sounded dazed and suddenly he pushed, sliding home, and Spike heard a thin, breathy wail come out of his own mouth, the burn and stretch and pressure almost too much, for a moment. Xander pushed hard against him, pelvis tight to Spike's ass and then he started to thrust and Spike just gave in, gave up - put his calves over Xander's shoulders and pulled him close and kissed him breathless. The salt-anise taste of Xander's skin was like a drug and Spike licked his throat and collarbones - licked his chest and jaw and kissed him again and again, clenching around the bar of solid heat that was sending him to Nirvana.

"Right? Is this right?" Xander gasped, angling his hips a little, hitting that spot and Spike felt the demon rise, snarling and open-mouthed. Heard Xander's heart skitter-thump and then pound faster.

"Yeah, there, there - gods you're lovely, so lovely pet, so fuckin' good - hard as you like pet, god...Xander, Xander..." Babbling like a fool and fuckin' LOOK at him, like a fuckin' angel, like... oh yes, oh there...

"Spike - sssss...Spike!" Xander's pounding rhythm suddenly tripped and fumbled and re-doubled and Xander's skin was gooseflesh and his eyes were wide and unseeing and Spike felt the pulse of him inside his body - felt the sudden, extra swelling and the jet of liquid heat and he roared, lifting his hips as best he could, fingers scrabbling at the sheets and then at Xander's ribs and back and Xander's hand was on his cock, stroking hard and rough and fuck...

It was ten minutes, recovering from that, and Spike let his mouth move in lazy circles over Xander's shoulder and bicep - over his throat. The weight on him was pleasant, as was the warm throb of battered muscle between his legs and when Xander finally slipped free of him they both sighed.

"Spike...want you to do that to me. Next time, do that to me. You looked -" Xander lifted his head, flushed and sweaty, and his eyes were full of laughter and awe. "You looked like you were in heaven or... Or something."

"Or something, pet. I can do that for you, Xan. I can do that no problem." Spike smiled and put his arms around Xander's body - rolled them on their sides and snuggled the boy under his chin, one leg possessively over Xander's and his arms tight around him. "Gonna be good, pet. Me and you, it's gonna be good."

He could feel Xander smiling into his chest, and he smiled himself and drifted slowly into sleep, counting heartbeats.

Part Three

Waiting at the airport for Buffy and Giles to clear customs, Xander thought he might be sick. He didn't want to tell them - what he was going to tell them. He didn't want to see the looks he was sure he was going to get - the arguments. He just wanted them to collect Dawn and go. He'd never felt so rattled - so shaken - and it didn't help that he had a bruise on his forearm - a bruise from Spike. A bruise from sex and he kept running his thumb over it - pressing it very gently so he could feel that residual ache. Cuddling in Spike's bed that whole night - talking some, but mostly just breathing, just touching. They'd had sex again, somewhere in there - slow sex, with Spike on top of him, riding him, arching his back and pressing his fingers tight into Xander's chest. Murmuring to him in that honey-and-whisky voice, telling him he was lovely, brilliant, beautiful, oh beautiful, pet, so fuckin' good... It still made a pleasant, twisting shiver go through Xander's belly and groin when he imagined Spike's voice in his head, saying those things to him.

God, is that another secret vampire power? That fucking VOICE? Jesus...

Standing next to him, right up against the edge of where they were permitted to go, Dawn was practically vibrating with excitement. They'd sat down the night before and told her that Xander wanted to drive back with Spike - keep him company - and Dawn had been surprisingly okay with it. Xander had sagged with relief, and given her a hug, and she had gone off to go over her packed bags one more time, to see if she'd left anything out or could cram one more gift into them. And Spike had kissed him right there at the kitchen table, his mouth sweet with fresh coconut and palm fruit, his fingers tight on Xander's arm.

Xander sighed, and slid his hand away from the bruise, and suffered a poke to the ribs as Dawn saw Buffy and Giles striding forward with the crowd. They were at once completely familiar and at the same time utterly foreign. Xander felt the tension wind a notch tighter in his belly and he swallowed and grabbed Dawn's arm and pulled her around to where Giles and Buffy were coming through.

"Buffy!" Dawn threw herself into Buffy's embrace and they just stood like that, hugging, Buffy murmuring something into Dawn's ear and Dawn shaking - sniffling. Giles smiled on them for a moment and then he turned to Xander, and Xander saw something - shock? surprise? - go through his eyes.

"Xander - so good to see you! You're looking - remarkably well!" Giles held out his hand and Xander took it - shook it hard, wishing he could hug the older man but knowing Giles wasn't up for that.

"Hey, thanks, Giles! I guess. You - uh - you look the same." Giles didn't look the same, actually. There was a little more grey in his hair than before, but there was also...a lack of tension. As if Glory being gone and Dawn being safe and the Council coming around had eased something. Or maybe he was just glad to be off the plane.

"Xander -" It was Buffy, reaching out to him with Dawn still tucked under one arm and he went gratefully to hug her, wincing a little when Slayer strength squished his ribs but holding on tight for as long as he could.

"I can't believe - Dawn looks great! She's so tan! And I swear she's taller - so not fair!" Buffy's eyes were wet, and she wiped them with her fingers - laughed a little and wiped Dawn's cheeks as well, because Dawn was crying too. Then Dawn squealed and flung herself at Giles, hugging him, and Xander looked Buffy over. She looked the same - mostly. Her hair was shorter, and a little blonder. Her face was a little fuller.

Council pay agrees, I guess. Better than some crappy minimum wage job.

"You look great too, Buffy. How's everybody? How's Willow? Is she doing okay? And Tara?"

"Oh, Willow's great - you should see her! She got her hair cut, this cute little bob - " Chattering, they moved slowly away down the concourse. Buffy and Giles had only small carry-on bags, since they were leaving again the day after tomorrow. Dawn had insisted that they stay just one day so she could introduce them to the neighbors and the ladies down at the market and the dress shop and the book store. And she wanted to take Buffy all over the city - show her how well she could get around - how well she could speak the language. Proud of herself, and wanting to show off. Spike had encouraged her in it, even though Xander had seen the twist of his lips when Dawn had first brought it up the idea of her sister staying.

They were taking the bus, something that made Giles' eyebrows go up, but he and Dawn were old hands, now, and Xander got them on the right one and into seats with ease. Dawn and Buffy just kept talking, with Dawn bouncing in her seat and pointing out the window - telling stories that she'd only get halfway through and then something would distract her and she'd be off again, making Buffy laugh. Giles watched them for a mile or so and then turned to Xander, his expression a little bemused.

"So tell me, Xander, how has it really been? How has - has Spike treated you?"

Xander blinked at the man and took a deep breath. "Well, like I said in the emails, Giles - Spike's been great. Working at that - that bar, taking care of the bills and getting our house... I got a job, too, but since I didn't have a passport or anything it was all under the table, you know..." Xander rubbed his thumb over the ridges of the calluses on his finger and palm from smoothing and sanding and finishing the pretty little details of the furniture he helped make. Custom stuff that was expensive and well made. But he still didn't pull in half the money Spike did. Not that he'd admit to that. He didn't think Giles would believe Spike could make that much at a bar. And the company he worked for installed things, too - custom built kitchens and things - and that was expensive in the States so Giles would believe he got paid more than he did.

"Carpentry, Willow said?" Giles gaze was mild, but the tension was back in him, just a little.

"Well, more like finishing stuff. Custom furniture and stuff like that. Detail work. I really like it." Giles nodded distractedly, looking out the window for a moment.

"And Dawn? How has he...treated her?"

"Like - like a brother, Giles. Look, is there some problem? 'Cause Spike's been great. Like I said." Xander felt his hand close down on his arm - felt the little soreness from the bruise. And he's been letting me fuck him. And he kissed me - kissed me like... Like he WANTED me. Said I could come with him. Don't - don't make me mad at you Giles, please... Giles sighed, rubbing his thumb over his forehead in a gesture so familiar that Xander felt a little pang in his heart.

"I just - well, it's just hard to believe that Spike, of all people..." Giles didn't seem to know how to finish that sentence and Xander didn't know how, either. Spike - was different. Had been different, all along, and the longer Xander had been with him, the more clearly he'd seen it. And the hate...had just made him so tired sometimes. Tired like he'd been around Larry, or his dad; you always had to be alert, on edge - waiting - for something awful to happen. And it never had, with Spike. Physically he'd never done more to Xander than knock him unconscious. And he could have drained me on the spot, but he didn't. He dragged my unconscious body along to the factory and he let us go...he could have just LEFT us there, but he told Buffy where we were... And Glory...and coming here... And I can't tell Giles any of this. He'll think I'm nuts. Oh god - telling them is going to suck. Giles seemed to be as lost in thought as Xander was and he was grateful that the rest of the trip was made in silence.


Walking down their street Dawn was practically dancing, pointing out the little park where she liked to have picnics, talking about the fireworks that had bloomed and burned over the Gulf. Buffy looked relaxed - she looked happy, and Giles was starting to unwind again and they were almost there when suddenly Serafina was popping out of the little courtyard to their house, a huge bouquet of flowers in her arms, her fancy go-to-the-dance white lace dress sparkling in the sun. She rattled off a greeting and presented the flowers to Buffy with a kiss and in the confusion of bouquet-giving and introductions and translations and Serafina's mother, for god's sake, coming out and shaking hands, Xander took a few steps away and drew in a huge, ragged breath, trying to calm down. He looked up at their house and - Spike was there, a pale and indistinct figure in the window that was his bedroom. Xander found his hand going up, unconscious gesture, and for a moment he thought Spike smiled. But then he was gone, the blind and curtain falling back into place and Xander sighed.

The house was a surprise for Buffy and Giles, Xander could tell. What, did they think we'd be in some kind of...rattrap or something? I told them - Xander smothered his irritation at their repeated 'THIS is where you live?' as they walked through the little, arching gateway and crossed the garden to the stairs, Dawn happily telling them about Spike helping her dig holes for the little fruit trees and flowering bushes she'd planted. The first floor was under construction - the landlord was doing some renovation - but being up on the second floor had always felt...safer, to Xander. Like a nest.

Going inside brought more exclamations from Buffy, but Giles seemed to shut down a little, his eyes flicking warily over the rooms. Looking for Spike, that's what he's doing. Spike, of course, delayed coming out, and when he did it was with a carefully blank look on his face and a stiff-backed prowl to the kitchen for whiskey. He leaned in the doorway, his eyes hooded and wary.

"Spike! Look what Serafina had for Buffy - aren't they beautiful? And her mother's invited us for dinner tonight - can you come?" Dawn displayed the flowers to Spike and his expression fell into familiar lines - affection and pride and pleasure.

"That was nice of her, Bit. I have to work tonight, but you go and have dinner," Spike said, touching Dawn's cheek and Xander saw both Giles and Buffy stiffen.

"You sure?" Dawn asked, pouting just a little, and Spike nodded.

"I'm sure. You should show big sis your room, Niblet - show her how pretty you made it." Spike's eyes flickered to Buffy and away, and Xander felt his stomach clench.

"Spike -" Buffy said, and there was a question in her voice - a question and anger and Spike slowly turned his gaze to her, the animation going out of his expression as if a switch had been thrown.

"Slayer," he said, and his voice held the faintest hint of amusement. And then he turned and went back into his room and shut the door, and Xander was pretty sure he was about to drop dead from a heart attack.


Dinner was wonderful - Serafina's mother, Ave Diosdado was an amazing cook - but Xander couldn't taste any of it, and he kept glancing out the Diosdado windows, wondering if he'd see Spike on his way out. But he didn't. The knot in his stomach had grown to epic proportions and by the time Dawn, Buffy and Giles were in bed - Giles was sleeping in Xander's room - he felt like he might be sick. He took a long, hot shower and then spent some time staring sightlessly at the television, hoping he'd fall asleep. But he couldn't, and finally he gave up with a sigh of disgust - fought his way out of the blankets he'd spread on the couch and wandered into Spike's room. The familiar, comforting scents of smoke and spice and leather enveloped him, and he sat down on the edge of the bed, breathing deeply.

I've really - fucked up. I'm going to tell Buffy and Giles I'm not going back with them and...they're going to fight with me and...and how do I tell them why without telling them...? I think I'm... Xander stopped that thought, and sighed, and closed his eyes - leaned over on the bed and curled himself around Spike's pillow. He'd just rest here for a while - relax. Then maybe he could sleep. In a few minutes his breathing had slowed to a steady rhythm, and he was asleep.

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