Long Time Gone
“Oh, shit!” Angel exclaimed as the two vampires and two humans walked into the
kitchen. Cordelia was sprawled on the floor, her head resting in Willow’s lap
as her body thrashed from side to side. Dawn sat on the floor next to her with
a pen and a notepad, writing down the words that Cordelia gritted out painfully.
Buffy pushed past the men and went to the cabinet, grabbing a prescription bottle
and a glass. “Vision,” she said to Xander as she filled the glass with water.
Cordelia went limp in Willow’s embrace, then opened her eyes and grimaced. “Ow,”
she said succinctly, taking the proffered painkillers and water from Buffy. “You’d
think the Powers would be a little nicer to me and make that not hurt so badly,”
Dawn helped her up and settled her at the table, where she dropped her head into
her hands. “What did you see?” Angel asked her gently. She grimaced again. “The
usual, death and destruction, blah, blah, blah,” she joked. She looked up at Dawn.
“Drusilla is going to attack the girls, the Slayerettes, in Sunnydale. I think
it’s tonight. I saw her attacking your old house with three or four other vampires.”
Dawn got up and rushed to the phone to call the house and warn the girls. Once
she returned to the table, she looked around the group. “Well,” she said, “I guess
this is what we’ve been waiting for.”
“Yeah,” Cordelia said, “I get that, but why do the Powers care? They usually don’t
give a crap unless they’re involved in some way.” Angel answered her, “There’s
really no way to know, but they are protective of future prophecies. It could
be that there’s someone at the house who is needed later, and that person will
get killed if Dru isn’t stopped.” Buffy broke in, “Doesn’t really matter anyway
– we’ve got to get there. Dawn, how soon can you and Jase and Sara be ready to
go?” Dawn answered, “Soon,” and dashed away to get ready. Buffy turned to Xander.
“We have a van that’s sun proofed, so the rest of us can take that.” He nodded,
and she turned to Willow. “Wills, we need you with us; are you up to doing a little
mojo at the house? Just a few wards and bolstering the de-invite spells?” The
Angel looked at his Seer, whose head was resting on her arms. “Cordelia won’t
be in any shape to travel until tomorrow. Will you be OK here?” he asked. Xander
spoke up, “I think I can find you some company for tonight, if you’re up to it,
Cordy. I think maybe Brooks could be persuaded to come hang for a while.” Cordelia
smiled wanly at his light tone and nodded. With their assignments decided the
group dispersed. Angel swept Cordelia up in his arms to take her to bed, followed
by Buffy, who carried the water glass and prescription bottle.
Xander remained seated at the table. Spike walked behind him and dropped his hands
onto the human’s shoulders. “This is it, isn’t it?” Xander said. “Yes, luv, this
is it. You ready?” the vampire’s voice was soft. Xander leaned back, and Spike
wrapped his arms around his lover, bringing his head down to nuzzle against the
deliciously warm neck. After a moment, Xander’s arms came up to wrap around Spike’s
neck. “I’m ready,” Xander said. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
Willow opted to join Dawn and her family in the SUV, while Spike, Xander, Angel
and Buffy piled into the plain van that had no windows except those in front.
The back of the van was curtained off from the front, rendering it completely
lightproof. Buffy settled into the driver’s seat, and gave Xander a dirty look
when he grinned and looked at her questioningly. “Yes,” she groaned, “I finally
learned to drive well enough for Angel.” At the vampire’s snort from the back
she added, “OK, OK – he still won’t let me drive his convertible.” She rolled
Xander climbed into the back and settled himself next to Spike on one of the two
long seats. Angel sat sideways across the other. Spike and Xander exchanged a
look as Buffy pulled the van out of the parking garage with a squeal of tires.
“We may get killed,” Xander whispered, “but at least we don’t have to sing.”
Shortly after they reached the highway, Spike shifted around in his seat so that
he could lean back against Xander, who obligingly wrapped his arms around the
vampire’s chest, holding him close. He snuggled his nose into Spike’s neck and
inhaled the scent of smoke and rain. Within minutes, both men were asleep. Angel
sighed as he looked at them. He rarely got to see his childe so relaxed. In sleep,
Spike’s features dropped the ever-present tension – he was beautiful. His blond
hair gleamed against Xander’s dark sweater, and a few tendrils of the human’s
sable hair had fallen forward against his pale neck. Xander’s face smoothed out
in repose, and Angel took the opportunity to really look at the young man. The
years had changed him, bringing new lines and furrows to his handsome face, yet
he still had the same cupid’s bow mouth that Angel had noticed the first time
he’d seen the boy. He saw a notepad on the floor of the van and stooped to retrieve
it. It had a pencil secured in the metal coil at its top, and he eased it free
and began to sketch the study in contrasts before him.
The only sounds in the van were Xander’s breathing, Buffy singing along quietly
to the radio and the gentle scratch of pencil on paper.
A covered carport had been added to the Summers’ house on Revello Drive years
before. Buffy pulled the van under its shelter and released her seatbelt. She
parted the curtain behind her and smiled. The two vampires and Xander were all
asleep. Xander was leaning against the armrest of the seat with Spike clutched
to his chest. Angel was sprawled across the back seat. His body was leaned forward;
his head was pillowed on his arm, which rested on the seat in front of him. His
other arm was draped over the seat, and his hand rested atop one of Xander’s,
which in turn rested atop one of Spike’s.
“Angel,” she whispered, “Come on, honey, wake up.” Buffy knew that there would
be a row if Spike woke and saw Angel touching Xander; she was well aware of the
younger vampire’s jealous nature. Angel’s chocolate eyes opened, and he smiled
at his mate. She gestured at his hand, and he nodded and pulled it back. Buffy
leaned further into the back and tapped Xander on the knee. “Wake up, everybody,
we’re here,” she announced in a louder voice. She levered herself out of the front
seat and came around to open the sliding door. The three men yawned and stretched.
As they piled out of the van, Willow and Dawn came out the back door. Buffy hugged
her sister, and then her best friend. “Mojo all … mojo-ed?” she asked. The witch
nodded. “We’re warded out the wazoo, and all vamps except for our two are really,
really uninvited.” Buffy nodded. Angel walked around the side of the van and enfolded
Buffy in his arms. She looked a little surprised, but hugged him back tightly.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” she giggled. He kissed her temple, then released her
and walked into the house. Buffy and Willow exchanged a look. Buffy shook her
head in bemusement. “I don’t know what that’s all about,” she said, “but I am
not complaining.” Willow shrugged. The redhead looked around the far side of the
van for Spike and Xander, and then pulled back, blushing. She grabbed one of Dawn’s
and one of Buffy’s arms and pulled them forward. All three girls took in the sight
of their childhood friend being thoroughly kissed by William the Bloody. Willow
cleared her throat and the two men separated reluctantly.
Inside, the house was controlled chaos. Dawn explained to Xander that she and
Jase owned a house nearby and that the family’s old house was more of a command
center. None of the potentials actually lived there, but someone was on duty at
all times. Most of the potentials had settled down in Sunnydale. Several attended
college, a few of them even had burgeoning families. Dawn took Xander around and
introduced him to those he didn’t know, while Angel and Spike went to the kitchen
for blood. Everyone gathered in the old dining room for a briefing. Dawn took
the floor and explained what they knew, which was not much. A tall, dark-haired
girl reported on the whereabouts of all of the potentials, and it was decided
that they should simply wait for nightfall and for Dru to make her move. The meeting
Xander wandered into the den and settled on one end of the couch. Spike stripped
off his duster and tossed it over a chair. He walked back to Xander, pushed his
knees apart and settled on the floor between his lover’s feet, leaning back and
resting his chin on Xander’s leg. Xander absently stroked the soft hair at the
nape of the vampire’s neck. Glancing over to a pile of schoolbooks on the end
table, he laughed softly. He reached out to snag one and turned it over in his
hands. “I used this book when I was in school,” he laughed. “There’s a poem in
here that I loved …” His voice trailed off as he flipped through the pages. After
a few fruitless minutes, he consulted the book’s table of contents and found what
he was looking for. “You’ll like this one, Will,” he told Spike. “It’s my favorite,
but Shari found it offensive – she took it too literally.” He cleared his throat
and began to read.
“Nothing is plumb, level or square:
the studs are bowed, the joists
are shaky by nature, no piece fits
any other piece without a gap
or pinch, and bent nails
dance all over the surfacing
like maggots. By Christ
I am no carpenter. I built
the roof for myself, the walls
for myself, the floors
for myself, and got
hung up in it myself. I
danced with a purple thumb
at this house-warming, drunk
with my prime whiskey: rage.
Oh I spat rage's nails
into the frame-up of my work:
it held. It settled plumb,
level, solid, square and true
for that great moment. Then
it screamed and went on through,
skewing as wrong the other way.
God damned it. This is hell,
but I planned it, I sawed it,
I nailed it, and I
will live in it until it kills me.
I can nail my left palm
to the left-hand cross-piece but
I can't do everything myself
I need a hand to nail the right,
a help, a love, a you, a wife.”
Spike laughed. “The missus thought you were insulting her, eh?” Xander gave him
a rueful look. “Yeah – too literal. She thought I was bullshitting her when I
gave her my interpretation of it.” Spike held out his hand and Xander passed the
book to him. Spike stood and walked over to the discarded duster, digging his
glasses out of one of the pockets and putting them on. Back on the floor, he read
the poem slowly, twice. “OK, poetry boy, give me your interpretation,” he challenged.
Xander smiled. “It’s about accepting your life for what it is – living in the
house that you built, no matter how shoddy the construction. It turns out that
the poet wrote it while he was in some sort of mid-life crisis. The part I like,
though, is when the house settles for one perfect moment ‘plumb, level, solid,
square and true for that great moment’. Of course, it all goes straight to Hell
in the next second, but that’s not the point. What?” Spike was staring at him
with his mouth hanging open.
“Sorry, pet, I didn’t quite expect the literary criticism. You surprised me.”
Spike raised an eyebrow when Xander’s grin widened. “I like surprising you,” he
said. “Good thing,” Spike observed, “because you’ve done nothing but since you
showed up.” He turned back to the book in his hands, settling himself back against
the warm human. He flipped pages, stopping now and then to read a few lines, and
then moving on. “Here we are,” he said, finding something he liked.
“The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.”
It was Xander’s turn to look dumbstruck. Spike’s voice rolled over the words,
infusing them with heat as they dripped from his lips. Blue eyes met brown, and
a wicked smile curved the vampire’s lips. Xander shook his head. “You could read
the phone book and make it sound sexy, couldn’t you, Will?” he asked. Spike
laid the book on the floor and rose to kneel between Xander’s legs, resting his
forearms on his lover’s thighs. He leaned in and brushed their lips together lightly.
They shared a tender kiss, and then Xander grasped Spike’s hands to pull him onto
the couch. He pushed him to the opposite end, and then leaned down to retrieve
the textbook. Handing the book to Spike, Xander reclined back and plopped his
feet into the vampire’s lap. “Read to me,” he demanded imperiously. Laughing,
Spike opened the book and began reading.
Xander heard a small noise from the door and looked up to see Willow standing
there. She was giving them the dreaded puppy-eyed look that Xander could not resist.
He prodded Spike’s thigh and looked at him questioningly. Not faltering in his
reading, the vampire nodded. Willow was instantly by Xander’s side, kicking off
her shoes and snuggling into the crook of her best friend’s arm. She turned on
her side and draped an arm over his chest. He pulled her close and rubbed circles
on her back. Eyes closed, they both listened to Spike, who read at a measured
pace, his accent returning to the clean diction and precise pronunciation of his
Victorian origins. He finished the poem he was reading and paused. Willow spoke,
not raising her head from Xander’s chest. “Read something epic, Spike. I could
listen to you all day,” she said dreamily. Xander grunted his agreement.
“As you wish, my lady,” was Spike’s gallant reply. After flipping through the
book for a moment he began to read again. Xander drifted, eyes closed, hearing
and feeling the deep rumble of Spike’s voice as he read the opening stanzas of
Book 1 of Paradise Lost. He could tell that his lover was really enjoying reading
to them, and marveled once again in the changes in Spike. The Big Bad of the old
days may have liked poetry, but he would never have agreed to read it to any of
the Scoobies, and certainly not while wearing reading glasses. Xander resolutely
pushed thoughts of the upcoming evening out of his head and concentrated on Spike’s
Xander felt Spike shift, and noticed that Angel had joined them. The large vampire
had settled himself on the floor at Spike’s feet, leaning back against the sofa.
Xander found that he was more surprised by Angel taking such a submissive place
to sit, than by his seeking out company. Over the few days in L.A. Xander had
seen the changes in Angel, too. Where before, isolation and outright broodiness
had kept Angel apart, he had become much more open. The guy still wasn’t outgoing
or anything, but Xander had to admit that he didn’t mind having him around. Just
as Angel settled, Buffy walked past the door of the den. She did a classic double
take, and stood for a moment with her mouth hanging open. At a gesture from her
mate, she walked into the room and folded herself into his arms, resting her head
on his chest and closing her eyes. Spike and Xander exchanged a soft smile and
the vampire continued to read.
NOTE: Xander’s poem is “Love Song: I and Thou” by Alan Dugan; Spike’s is the latter
half of “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell.
Xander was alone, sitting on the back steps of the Summers’ house, waiting. Over
Spike’s objections, it had been decided that he would split off from the group,
hoping to draw Drusilla out. Buffy, Angel and Spike were lurking about, but trying
to stay far enough from the house so as not to be sensed by Dru. Xander lifted
his hand to touch the small gold cross that hung from a thin leather thong there.
Dawn had fastened it around his neck and pressed a stake into his hand as he left
the house. Taking no chances, he’d also stopped by the van to retrieve his chain
whip from his weapons bag, and it was coiled in his pocket, the handle hanging
out for easy retrieval.
By the time Spike had finished reading Book 1 of Paradise Lost, Dawn, Jase, Sara
and two of the potentials had joined the group in the den, listening to the vampire’s
soothing voice. The setting of the sun and the subsequent arrival of more potentials
had broken everyone out of the calm quiet suffusing the room. Back in the dining
room, Dawn gave everyone their assignments, sending the Slayer, the vampires and
Xander outside, keeping the girls safely inside with Willow ready to cast any
needed protection spells.
Xander breathed deeply and tried to stay relaxed. He rose to his feet and leaned
against the porch rail with feigned nonchalance. He heard a rustling noise from
the yard’s periphery and pointedly did not turn toward it. His hand went to his
pocket. A vampire burst from the trees and ran at him. Xander pivoted, drawing
the chain whip from his pocket. He swung it in a complete circle over his head,
and then struck out at the approaching vampire. As the end of the jointed metal
strand wrapped itself around the vampire’s neck, Xander closed the distance between
them and caught the end of the chain whip in his free hand. With a snapping motion,
he pulled his hands apart as hard as he could. The metal whip closed and decapitated
the unfortunate vampire, which dusted immediately.
Xander coiled the whip and placed it back in his pocket before he turned toward
the sound of soft clapping. His breath left his body as he turned and saw Drusilla
standing at the edge of the tree line. She walked forward slowly, still clapping
her hands. Her long black hair curled over her shoulders and spilled down the
front of her plain, black top. She was wearing a pair of plain black pants and
what appeared to be boots. Xander had a sudden thought that he’d never seen her
in anything but romantic dresses, and that she looked infinitely more dangerous
in the modern attire.
“Oh, kitten,” she crooned. “You’ve got teeth now!” Her voice was light, and she
laughed merrily. “My little plaything never had a chance.” Xander took a deep
breath and gave her a sardonic smile that came nowhere near touching his eyes.
“Good grief, Dru,“ he said, “that one still had the grave dirt on his jacket.
Did you make him especially for me? Ten minutes ago?” She moved in closer, and
he turned his body to keep her directly in front of him. Her black eyes were snapping,
and he thought that she looked very beautiful.
“Now, now, kitten, don’t get all growly with me. I just wanted you to have something
to play with. I can be a sweet mummy when I choose. I got you a toy and you broke
it, and you didn’t even say thank you.” Xander snorted, “Oh, sorry – I didn’t
mean to be rude. Thank you, crazy person, for the evil undead toy – it was great
while it lasted.” She tilted her head and stepped closer. Suddenly, her expression
hardened, and her eyes became cold and glittering. She sniffed the air and advanced
another step. “My Spike is here,” she said, “and my Daddy, too. And that screechy
Slayer girl. They’re nearby, wanting to protect you, little one.” She paused and
began circling Xander slowly. He circled with her. She sniffed again, and then
suddenly vamped out. Sniffing once again, she stopped moving and looked directly
into Xander’s eyes. “I see Spike has been doing more than wanting. His smell is
all over you, kitten. Spike’s been a naughty, naughty boy. He will have to pay
for touching you.”
Xander snorted again. “Let’s leave my sex life out of this, OK?” He took a deep
breath and asked the question that had been burning in his brain for six months.
“Why did you kill my wife, Dru?” At his words, she smiled brilliantly, and Xander
thought that it was the most horrifying sight he’d ever seen. Her tongue flicked
out to sweep over sharp teeth and fangs. “Oh, your little china doll,” she sighed
in remembered pleasure. “She was a tasty one, so hot and sweet; and the tiny one
within.” The vampire moaned and licked her lips again, and Xander saw white. He
swung the chain whip again. Drusilla put her hand up before her face and caught
it, not noticing as it cut into her palm. She snatched the weapon from his hand
and dropped it on the ground. Xander stalked closer to the vampire, his words
reverberating with his steps. “Why. Did. You. Kill. Her. You. Bitch,” he demanded,
stopping barely two feet from her.
She looked down at the ground in an almost shy gesture, and then her head snapped
back up, their eyes meeting. She dropped all pretenses of shyness and craziness,
and Xander knew he was looking into the eyes of a pure demon. Her words were as
measured as his had been. “Because. I. Wanted. To.”
Xander lunged at her with his stake, and pinned her to the ground, its point at
her heart. His eyes filled with tears, but they did not fall. “One last question,“
he ground out through clenched teeth, “and I do mean last. How did you get into
my house?” She giggled merrily, and he pressed the stake further into her chest
until she stopped. They stared at one another for a long moment, and then a smile
curved her lips. “Oh, kitten,” she sighed, “what makes you think that was the
first time I had been there? Your little china doll, she was so sweet. So eager
to help the nice lady whose car had broken down. She even invited me in and gave
me a glass of water. That was over a year ago.” Her sparkling eyes looked up into
his shocked ones. “Really, kitten,” she chided, ”you should have warned her about
inviting strangers into your home.” She bucked under him and launched his body
across the yard.
She picked up the chain whip from the ground, walked over to him and dropped it
lightly onto his chest. He lay on the ground, stunned. “It’s not yet time for
you to join me,” she said. “But, be a dear and give Spike a message. Tell him
I can’t wait for him to meet his little brother.” She turned and disappeared into
the trees. Xander sat up on the dewed grass and allowed his tears to fall. When
Spike’s arms wrapped around him, he leaned into his lover and sobbed. Xander hardly
noticed when Angel and Spike hauled him to his feet and led him into the house.
They manhandled him up the stairs and into one of the bedrooms. Angel helped Spike
remove the unresisting human’s shoes and shirt and put him into bed. Spike toed
off his boots and climbed into bed with his lover, enfolding the shaking body
in his arms. He gave Angel a grim smile as the dark vampire left the room, turning
off the overhead light and closing the door softly. Spike leaned against the headboard
with Xander curled into his chest; the two men sat silently in a circle of lamplight.
Spike rubbed soothing circles on Xander’s back, lightly tracing his fingers over
smooth, warm skin. He had been close enough to hear every word Drusilla had spoken.
Aside from that, he had also been close enough to observe her demeanor, and that
scared him most of all. She was even more lucid than she had been at their last
meeting. She was strong, controlled and as sane as he’d ever seen her and he didn’t
know which trait bothered him the most. Spike was positive that he didn’t like
her comment about his “little brother”, knowing that it meant Dru had taken another
childe. A childe of Dru’s that had actually been raised by her would likely be
vicious, unstable and at least partially insane.
Spike sighed and looked down at the stricken human in his arms. Xander clung to
him weakly, his eyes open but unseeing. His tears had stopped, but he was unresponsive.
Spike understood. He knew that Drusilla’s chiding comment that Xander should have
warned his wife about inviting people in was reverberating in his lover’s head.
He could almost hear Xander’s anguish, knowing that he was berating himself for
not telling Shari about his past and the terrible things that he knew to be true.
Spike gathered Xander’s body more tightly against his own and rested the dark
head on his shoulder. “Xan, sweetheart,” he whispered, “come back to me now. You
can’t stay locked up in that head of yours all night. I need you out here with
me.” Warm arms tightened around him, but there was no other response. Spike bent
his head to Xander’s ear and continued speaking softly. “Come on, luv, as much
as I’d love to, we can’t stay like this all night. Come on back now. Please. Can
you do that for me?” Xander sighed and tightened his arms even more, and
rubbed his face against his lover’s shoulder. He drew and released a couple of
shaky breaths, then swallowed audibly. Sighing again he said in a small voice,
“I’m here.” Spike hugged him. “Good. Glad you’re back.”
They sat quietly for a few more moments. Xander shifted, and Spike released him
enough for the mortal to turn so he was lying on his back between Spike’s legs,
with his own legs straightened out in front of him and his back resting against
the vampire’s hard chest. Spike hooked his chin over Xander’s shoulder and kept
his arms wrapped around him in a loose embrace. “She was right,” Xander
said, his voice toneless. “I should have told Shari. I should have warned her.”
Spike stroked a hand lightly up and down Xander’s arm. “God, Xan,” he said quietly,
“what were you supposed to do? ‘Oh, honey, by the way – vampires are real, so
don’t ever invite one in, OK? I’ll be in the basement if you need me.’”
Xander thought for a moment. “How about, ‘I’m going to be home a little late tonight,
so I just wanted to tell you that most of the really creepy stuff in fairytales
is true, and the mouth of Hell is located in California and do I need to pick
anything up on my way home?’” He laughed shortly. “I didn’t want to tell her that
stuff. It should never have touched her.” Spike was happy that his voice was getting
stronger, but he could hear the deep sadness and regret in it. He rubbed his face
against Xander’s silky hair and hugged him tighter. “Xan, you know she was just
pushing your buttons, taunting you. It’s part of the game.” Spike’s voice was
Xander sat up suddenly, throwing off Spike’s arms. He turned to face the vampire,
his eyes alive with anger. “This is not a game,” he gritted out. Spike closed
his hands on Xander’s shaking shoulders and ran them up and down his arms soothingly.
“I know, sweetheart. It’s not a game to you – but it is a game to her. Fucking
Angelus taught it to her. It’s how he made her. He taught her that it’s not enough
to take the one you want; you have to destroy them first.” Spike sighed softly.
“Angelus would spend months stalking his prey. He’d follow them; learn all about
their life, then destroy every single thing that was important to his victim.
Why do you think she’s so crazy?” Spike kept up the soothing contact until Xander
relaxed back onto the bed and leaned against his chest again.
“She wasn’t crazy when he started with her,” Spike mused. “She did have second
sight, but she wasn’t actually insane. The combination of seeing the future and
knowing what was going to happen and then having it actually happen is what broke
her mind. Then he turned her and threw the demon into the mix.” Xander clapped
his hands together. “Blam! Super psycho – just add blood.” His voice was still
strained. Spike nodded against Xander’s temple. “Pretty much. I don’t know what’s
changed, though. She’s as lucid as I’ve ever seen her. She was fucking scary out
there. Those fledges she brought along were just cannon fodder; the two I killed
were fresh out of the grave.” Xander nodded. “She didn’t come here to do any real
damage – tonight was just part of the hunt. Shit, Spike!” he exclaimed suddenly.
“God damn it – I had her – I had the stake in her chest. I could have ended this,
and I let her distract me. Fuck!” He buried his face in his hands. “Fuck, fuck,
Spike rubbed the back of his head. “It’s OK, Xan – she was unlikely to let you
get her. She could have thrown you off at any time. She just let you pin her so
she could mess with your mind. She wants you to stew for a while. She wants you
to be afraid.” Xander turned to face Spike, brown eyes searching blue ones. “I
am afraid, Spike. I’m afraid that I’ll screw up and not avenge Shari and Lex’s
deaths; that I’ll let them down. I’m afraid that she’s going to get someone else
I care about – Buffy or Willow or Dawn or you.” Spike held his gaze, and reached
out to grasp Xander’s hand. “I know you’re afraid,” he said in a low voice. “We’re
all afraid. Hell, I’m afraid. Big Bad Chicken, that’s me.” He drew in a deep breath
and let it out slowly. His eye’s never left Xander’s.
“Everyone leaves me, Xander. Angelus left me and Dru left me and Buffy left me.
Someday you’ll leave me, whether it’s because of you or me or outside forces or
if it’s because you’re mortal and you’ll die someday – doesn’t matter.” He shook
his head ruefully. “I’m afraid of that; terrified, actually. I’m afraid of being
left again, of not being loved enough again. But, damn it, Xan; I’m more afraid
of not taking the chance than I am of the pain. I’ve been hiding for the last
nine years because I didn’t have the balls to take a chance. Then - out of nowhere
- you come to me; and you’re so differennt, but you’re still the same. And I couldn’t
stop wanting to be close to you, wanting you. In nine years, I was never even
tempted to try. Then you walk up to my front door and I was lost.” Xander smiled
softly and laid his hand against Spike’s cheek as the vampire continued speaking.
“I once told Buffy and Angel that I was love’s bitch.” Spike turned his head and
kissed Xander’s palm, then brought his eyes back to the human’s. “Well, I still
am. I know this is terrible timing, and probably the last thing you want to hear,
but I’ve got to say it. I’m falling in love with you, Xander. I know you aren’t
ready to even think along those lines, but I can’t hide anymore – it hurts too
fucking much. But, I can wait for you. I’m good at waiting.”
It was Xander’s turn to reach out and pull Spike to his chest and hold him tightly.
He was stunned at what the vampire had told him. He had already acknowledged to
himself that he was starting to care for Spike, but had pushed any deep analysis
of his feelings away, to be considered after the business of avenging his wife
and son. He concentrated on the feel and scent of the man in his arms, breathing
him in with each breath. He turned his mind to Shari, and realized that the hurt
was not as bad as it had been. He could visualize her beautiful, delicate face
without feeling a sharp stab in his heart. He smiled sadly. He bent his head and
kissed Spike’s temple. “Am I?” he whispered into soft blond waves. “Are you what?”
Spike said softly. Xander smiled. “Earlier, you called me sweetheart. Am I your
sweetheart?” Spike snuggled his head deeper into Xander’s chest. “Yes, Xan, you
are. If you can call me ‘baby’, then I can call you ‘sweetheart’. Sometimes. When
we’re alone. Then I can go buy myself a dress and have my name legally changed
to Nancy. The things I do for you.” Xander could feel the grin on Spike’s face.
They pulled apart and looked into each other’s eyes. When Xander looked into Spike’s
eyes he saw concern, and a little bit of laughter, and what he now recognized
as love. Spike loves me, he thought. And why is this not freaking me out? Their
lips came together in a light kiss, their arms wrapping around to hold one another
tightly. Xander trailed soft kisses across Spike’s face and up to his temple,
and then he rubbed his cheek against it. “I guess we should go down and figure
out our next move, huh?” he asked reluctantly. Spike’s reply was equally reluctant.
“I guess so. Let’s get this done so we can go home to bed.”
It was good to be home, Spike thought, as he dropped their bags inside the front
door. Xander and Willow came up the steps slowly, waving to Buffy as she drove
away in the van. As the two humans entered the house, Spike turned and wrapped
his arms around Xander, who hugged him back tightly. Willow pressed herself against
one side of the hug, and they each shifted an arm to envelop her. When the two
men leaned their heads in and began kissing, she slipped out of their grasp and
closed the front door. She leaned back against it and shamelessly stared at them.
They look good together, she thought, light and dark, yin and yang – but more
hard than soft. Both of them all angles and planes, from their faces and their
chests to Xander’s knee, crooked between Spike’s legs, pressing their thighs together.
Their kiss deepened, and Willow could see their tongues dueling, could see them
licking and nipping at one another’s lips. Spike’s hand carded through Xander’s
dark hair and curled there, pulling just a little. Xander’s hands were on Spike’s
back, pressing and kneading the muscles, one slipping lower to curve around a
Spike’s eyes were closed, his dark lashes fanned out on porcelain cheeks. Xander’s
were squeezed shut, as if he was trying to push his thoughts and feelings into
the vampire’s mind through sheer force. Willow saw Spike’s eyes flutter open,
and the vampire’s brow creased when he saw the intense expression on his lover’s
face. He pulled back, and broke the kiss with some difficulty. As their lips parted,
Xander bent his head and began kissing and sucking at Spike’s neck, while the
vampire stroked the back of his head soothingly. Spike’s eyes met Willow’s. “Guest
room’s the second door on the left upstairs, Red,” he said, “I’m gonna take him
on up.” She smiled and nodded, then walked into the living room to watch TV and
give them some privacy. Spike turned Xander around enough to get him to walk,
and led him upstairs.
Spike closed the door of the master bedroom behind them. Xander had walked a couple
of steps into the room, and stood looking around. The room was not what he expected.
It was decorated in light neutral colors: predominantly cream, white and tan.
The furniture was light wood, a sitting area in the large suite held two chairs
and a loveseat upholstered in cream, strewn with sage green pillows. The bed was
a huge expanse of white and cream, with lots of pillows and a soft down comforter.
Wooden blinds covered the room’s windows, and Xander could see blackout shades
behind the blinds. The bed had a library headboard that was filled with an assortment
of books, a desk in the corner held more books. The floor was hardwood covered
by a faded oriental rug that picked up the sage and tan colors elsewhere in the
room. It was beautiful, soothing and wholly unlike Xander’s perception of what
Spike’s bedroom would be.
Cool arms slipped around his waist, and Xander leaned back against his lover.
“I like your room,” he said, “It’s nice.” Spike hugged him and kissed his neck.
“Thanks, luv.” Xander turned in his arms and kissed him very lightly. Their lips
brushed together gently, then more insistently. When Spike moaned, Xander slipped
his tongue into his mouth and explored, tasting the inside of his lips, and then
running it over his teeth and up against the roof of his mouth. Spike’s tongue
came forward to slide against Xander’s, and he sucked at it, earning a hiss.
Spike broke the kiss and reached down to tug the hem of Xander’s thin sweater
from his jeans and pull it over his head. Xander kicked off his shoes and bent
to take off his socks. As he straightened, the vampire reached out and unbuttoned
his jeans, then eased the zipper down. Xander shimmied his hips and the jeans
fell to puddle at his feet, leaving him completely naked. He raised his hands
and let them rest lightly on Spike’s hips as they kissed softly again. Spike moved
back a step to look at his lover. He took in every inch. His gaze started at tanned
bare feet; it climbed up muscular calves strewn with curling dark hairs to strong
thighs that cradled Xander’s jutting erection. With his eyes, Spike traced the
curved lines of Xander’s hips and every dip and swell of his defined abdomen and
chest. Finally, he looked at his lover’s tanned throat and up to his face. He
couldn’t decide which was sexier; the complete lack of shyness or embarrassment
or the frankly sexual light in Xander’s chocolate eyes. Placing one hand on the
center of Xander’s chest, he said, “Go sit on the bed, luv.”
The dark man did as he was asked, settling himself against a pile of pillows on
top of the covers. He tucked one hand behind his head and left the other one comfortably
on his abdomen. He sprawled slightly, leaving his legs splayed open as his hand
lazily traced the muscles of his midriff. Spike felt the front of his jeans becoming
damp as his cock leaked at the wanton sight before him. He turned off the overhead
light and walked to the window. He opened the shutters and rolled the shade up,
allowing silvery moonlight to spill into the room. Its glow cast a faintly blue
light on the room. Spike stood in the shaft of moonlight. He dropped his duster
from his shoulders, catching it before it hit the floor and tossing it over the
He lifted one foot to the bedside table and propped it there to unlace his boot.
He removed it and his sock, and then repeated the process with the other foot.
He unbuttoned his red shirt, and eased it down his arms slowly. Once it was off,
he pulled his black tee shirt off over his head. He reached down and unbuttoned
the top button of his jeans, then stopped and looked at the bed. “You’re so beautiful
in the moonlight, Xan,” he said, his voice rough with passion. “The only place
you look better is in the sunlight.” Xander smiled at his lover and gestured for
him to continue taking off his jeans. Spike unbuttoned each button slowly and
deliberately, and then eased the tight jeans over his hips and down his legs.
After stepping out of the jeans, he stood and smiled. “Either way, you look good
in my bed.” His tone was warm and possessive. “I promise you, luv, when this is
all over I’m going to keep you right where you are for a solid week.” He bit back
a moan when he saw Xander’s whiskey-colored eyes darken to ebony and his cock
twitch against his flat belly.
Spike walked to the edge of the bed. He groaned when Xander reached out and drew
a finger from the base of his cock to the tip, slowly tracing a line of fire.
The finger eased around the head, then slid back down, tracing the prominent vein.
The single finger was joined by the rest of Xander’s hand, slipping beneath Spike’s
balls to cup and squeeze, then to slide delicately across the sensitive strip
of skin behind them. Spike’s knees quaked at the sensations, and then faltered
altogether as Xander leaned forward to repeat the motions of his hand with his
mouth. “Holy Shit, Xan, so hot – you feel so fucking good,” the vampire panted,
and then yelped as his entire cock was engulfed in wet heat with one swift move.
Xander bobbed his head, sliding Spike’s cock in and out, trailing his tongue along
the underside and scraping lightly with his teeth.
He pulled all the way back and stopped, with the leaking crown just resting against
his lips, and looked up into Spike’s eyes. “I love hearing you talk, Will. I love
the things you say. You make me crazy. Tell me,” he said, letting his lips brush
against his lover’s cock with each word. “Tell … tell you what?” Spike rasped,
his hands clutching on Xander’s shoulders. He could see the fluid that dripped
from his cock shining on Xander’s lips, and the sight made nearly made him come
on the spot. “Anything, everything,” Xander replied, then drew back and deep-throated
Spike as far as he could. Spike’s mind went blank. There was no way in hell he
was going to be able to speak. Not when he could feel the head of his dick pressing
against the edge of Xander’s tight throat. Especially not if he swallowed against
it, which he did. Broken noises fell from the vampire’s lips, and he clutched
Xander harder to stop himself from thrusting.
Xander pulled back again, laughing. “Care to repeat that in English?” he asked.
Spike panted harshly and tried not to fall over. “I don’t think it translates.
It might have been ‘gah’, I think,” he said. “Can I sit down before I fall down?”
Xander slid over on the bed and pulled Spike down to him. He wrapped his arms
around the smaller body and simultaneously rubbed his erection against Spike’s
hip and kissed and licked his neck. “Tell me,” he demanded. Spike’s hips matched
Xander’s rhythm, and he began speaking against his lover’s neck. “I can’t get
enough of you, your heat. You feel so good, Xan. You make me burn. Tonight, when
I saw you kill that fledge, I nearly came in my pants. You were so gorgeous, striking
like a snake. I wanted to run to you and throw you over the porch rail and fuck
Xander groaned, lost in Spike’s words. “Yeah,” he panted, “fucking me blind –
that sounds good. Can we do that now?” The vampire laughed, “Yes, love – we can
do that now. The lube’s in my coat pocket, wanna get it?” Xander kissed him hard,
then scrambled off the bed and crossed the room to Spike’s duster, hanging on
the desk chair. He dug through the pocket until his hand closed on the mostly-depleted
tube. Before he could turn around, one of Spike’s hard hands closed on his hip,
the other snatched the tube from him. “Hands on the chair back, Xan, right now.”
Spike’s voice was low and rough. Xander swept the duster onto the floor and grabbed
the back of the chair, automatically bending over and spreading his legs. He rested
his forehead on the back of the chair and waited.
It was a short wait. Within seconds, he felt Spike’s questing fingers slide down
the crease of his ass and circle his pucker. Spike’s cool lips brushed his ear,
and the vampire spoke in the same rhythm as his fingers circled. “Don’t think
I can wait, Xan… wanna make it good for you, but I can’t wait. You mind taking
it a little rough?” In answer, Xander arched his back and pushed against the slick
hand. “Rough’s good, I can do rough,” he panted, and then gasped and groaned as
two fingers breached him in a fast, strong thrust. He groaned again as the fingers
began to pump in and out of him. “Oh, God, Spike – so good … want you in me –
oh!” His frantic words broke off as a third finger pushed into him. He was reduced
to a keening wail for four or five thrusts, and then a frustrated groan as the
fingers left him altogether. “Can’t wait, have to be in you, can’t wait, God –
you’re so hot inside, burning me, can’t wait,” Spike chanted as he lined himself
up and pushed inside with one long, fast stroke that left him completely buried
in the human’s heat. Xander’s barely prepared ass clenched and fluttered around
the intrusion, and the vampire bit completely through his lip in an effort to
hold back the orgasm that threatened to burst from him at the feel of the human’s
hot softness surrounding him.
For a long second, they were both completely still and silent. Regaining a thread
of control, Spike pulled back, almost completely out of Xander’s body, and slammed
himself back in hard enough to lift the taller man up onto his toes. Xander shouted,
Spike snarled. Spike set a brutal pace, fucking Xander as hard and as fast as
he possibly could, demon to the fore. Xander felt the hardness of Spike’s ridged
face against his back, and Spike’s fingers digging into his hips. His own cock
was crushed between his body and the back of the chair, but he didn’t care. The
raw, primal energy of their coupling had transported him beyond pain. All he could
do was feel, caught up in a maelstrom of sensation and Spike’s cock filling him
over and over again with stretching, burning, aching pleasure. He felt himself
coming without having even touched himself, shooting against the back of the chair
and his own stomach and chest, and knew he was making animal noises, gasping and
crying out his release.
Still Spike’s pace did not slow, as he pistoned in and out of Xander’s hot channel
over and over. He smelled blood, but could tell that it wasn’t much, and he could
smell no fear on his lover, only lust and excitement. He smelled the sharp scent
of Xander’s come, and reached around to rub the human’s stomach, coating his hand
in the slippery mess. He dropped his hand to Xander’s still-hard cock and began
to pump it in time with his thrusts. Xander’s head raised up from the chair back
as his back arched. “Spike,” he moaned, “bite me.” The vampire’s rhythm faltered
a little and he asked, “Are you sure, love?” Xander’s head bent back further and
he said, “Fuck, yes.” Spike clamped his hands down harder, one on Xander’s hip,
the other around his cock, and he thrust strongly into his lover. As soon as he
could tell that they were both close to orgasm, he curled himself forward over
Xander’s body and sank his fangs into the almost-healed spot he’d bitten before.
He snarled into Xander’s neck, sucking his blood and flooding his ass at the same
time. Xander felt himself coming again, splashing the chair, Spike’s hand and
himself. He heard someone screaming, “Fuck, yes!” and only vaguely registered
that it was him.
Xander slowly uncurled his aching hands from the back of the chair and pushed
them both back a step. He fell to his knees, taking Spike with him, their bodies
still linked by Spike’s cock. They knelt on the floor, panting for long moments.
Spike slipped out of Xander’s body with a small moan and laid his head on the
human’s back. He rested his hand on his lover’s thigh. “You OK, Xan? I didn’t
hurt you, did I?” he asked. Xander laughed weakly. “I’m good, baby – but I think
your chair is shot. Shower now?” he asked hopefully. “God, yes,” the vampire replied,
struggling to his feet. He pulled Xander up and wrapped his arms around him, kissing
him gently on the cheek, then turning and leading him to the shower.
Halfway through getting cleaned up, Xander remembered Willow. Unfortunately, he
was rinsing the soap off of his face at the time and inhaled water when his mouth
dropped open in shock. Spike pounded him on the back until he stopped choking,
and then asked him what the matter was. “Crap, Will – Willow is downstairs. I
know she heard us,” he muttered. “People in other states heard us, Xan – you were
howling at one point,” Spike informed him. “Oh, yeah – that,” Xander said with
a shrug and a broad grin. They finished their shower in silence, and then returned
to the bedroom. “We better go tell her it’s safe to come up to bed,” Spike said.
They both pulled on sleep pants and tee shirts and headed downstairs hand in hand.
They found Willow asleep on the sofa fully dressed.
Xander bent down and shook her, pulling her into a sitting position. She leaned
against him and opened one eye blearily. “You guys fuck loud,” she accused in
a slurred voice. Xander kissed her forehead, “Yes, we do, sorry – we can’t help
it.” He stood up and started walking her toward the stairs, Spike trailing behind
them with their bags from the foyer. They took her to her room, and then went
back to the master bedroom. Xander looked at the back of the desk chair ruefully,
and then just hung a towel over the mess. He also stopped to pull the shade and
close the blinds over the window.
They had just settled back into bed when they heard a soft knock at the door.
“Come in,” Spike called. The door opened a crack, and a pajama-clad Willow poked
her head around it. “Are you guys naked under there?” she asked. Both men shook
their heads. “Was the loud fucking on the bed?” she asked. Again, both men shook
their heads. Her expression changed to the dreaded puppy-eyes. “Can I sleep with
you, then?” she wheedled in a little-girl voice. Both men nodded, and she flew
across the room to the bed. Xander lifted up a corner of the blanket and found
himself crawled over by Willow, who settled happily between the two men, snuggling
down into the pillows. Spike and Xander leaned in and kissed over her tousled
head, and then each pressed a kiss to it. They each stretched an arm across the
pillows above her head and intertwined their fingers. “I love you guys,” Willow
mumbled sleepily. Spike and Xander’s eyes met in the gloom, as they both whispered,
Sometime during the night, Xander had begun to thrash from side to side on the
bed in the throes of a nightmare. Spike had awakened to Willow pressing back against
him in her sleep, instinctively trying to move away from Xander. The vampire easily
swept her up and over his body, depositing her on the far side of the bed, where
she settled quietly. Sliding to the center of the bed, he gathered Xander’s body
to him and wrapped the struggling mortal in his arms, crooning wordlessly and
touching him gently until he calmed and fell back asleep.
To his surprise, Spike was the first to awaken again. He could tell that it was
late afternoon. He was curled on his side with Xander in front of him and Willow
behind, and he couldn’t remember ever feeling so deliciously warm. Spike’s arm
draped over Xander’s side, and their hands were clasped against his chest.
Spike’s face was nestled between his lover’s shoulder blades. One of the vampire’s
knees was drawn up to curve along Xander’s backside. The other leg was bent slightly
back toward Willow, she had both of her feet curled around his ankle. Her arm
was draped over his hip, and her front was pressed tightly to his back. The side
of her face rested against the back of his neck and her soft breath tickled the
fine hairs there. Spike mused to himself that here was no force on earth that
could encourage him to move from this lovely, warm nest.
Spike could hear Xander waking; his heartbeat quickened and his circulation sped
up slightly. Stretching, the human turned onto his back and gathered both Spike
and Willow to him, sliding his arm under them and curling his hand over Willow’s
shoulder. He brought his other hand up to trace the contours of Spike’s face,
running his finger across sharp cheekbones and lush lips. Willow began to stir,
and she braced a palm on Spike’s back and pushed. Getting the hint, Spike rolled
across Xander’s body to vacate his spot and move into the corresponding position
on the other side. Willow sighed in contentment and snuggled against her best
friend’s chest. Xander kissed Spike on the forehead and nuzzled at his spiky hair.
The vampire tilted his face up, silently demanding a kiss, which Xander was happy
to supply. The human then carefully extricated himself from the others, pointing
at the bathroom when Spike looked askance at him. When he returned, Spike and
Willow were curled tightly together in the center of the bed, asleep. Xander smiled
softly at them and went downstairs.
As he suspected, the smell of cooking bacon could not be ignored. Before breakfast
was halfway cooked, Xander found himself fending off attacks on the large skillet
full of fatty pork goodness. Willow and Spike both got smacked a couple of times
with the spatula before they promised to be good and busied themselves making
toast, pouring juice and coffee and heating blood. Xander slid plates of bacon
and eggs onto the table and the three ate in companionable silence. After breakfast
was done, Spike and Xander cleaned the kitchen while Willow called the Summers’
house to check in. As she walked back into the kitchen, she was greeted with the
sight of Xander sitting in one of the dining chairs with Spike straddling his
lap. She crossed the threshold just in time to see the vampire place a sweet kiss
on the end of the human’s nose. She grinned broadly and said, “Awwwwww!” Spike
buried his head on Xander’s shoulder, as he patted the blond head and said, “There,
there, Nancy.” Spike punched him in the shoulder and stuck his tongue out at Willow.
The vampire yelped in surprise when Xander stood quickly, still holding him. The
yelp turned into a growl as Xander loosened his hold and allowed Spike to slide
down his body until his bare feet touched the floor. Xander returned the growl
and kissed his lover thoroughly, then turned him toward the door and gave him
a shove in the general direction of the shower.
They trooped into the living room, and Willow reminded them that they were to
be at the Summers’ house an hour after sundown. “Well,” Xander said, smiling grimly,
“we better get moving.” They went upstairs and quickly got ready. Spike and Xander
went to the basement and retrieved a number of weapons, while Willow checked her
magic supplies and packed them into a small satchel. They loaded everything into
Xander’s Mercedes and left just after sunset. Within ten minutes, they were at
a florist’s shop. Willow got a dozen calla lilies; Spike and Xander again chose
mixed roses, this time pink and yellow. None of them spoke until the car was parked
at the cemetery. “Well, let’s go,” Willow said with determination. As soon as
they were all out of the car, she stepped between the two men and linked an arm
with each of them. They exchanged a look, acknowledging that they could both feel
the petite witch trembling.
As they approached the grave, the men stopped and allowed Willow to cross the
last ten feet to the headstone alone. They each turned to face outward, guarding
her. After all, a Sunnydale cemetery after dark wasn’t the safest place in the
world. Willow knelt in front of Tara’s marker, and replaced the faded lilies in
the vase with fresh ones. She rummaged in her bag for a bottle of water and filled
the vase. “Hey, Baby,” she whispered, “I’ve missed you.” She stroked her hand
along the soft grass that grew over the grave, wishing that she were touching
her lover’s smooth cheek. Reaching again into her bag, Willow removed some herbs
and powders, which she crushed in her hands and sprinkled over the grave. She
whispered a few short phrases in Latin and made several hand gestures, then laid
her hands flat in the grass again. Within a couple of minutes, she felt a soft
breeze on her face and smelled a sweet scent. A brilliant smile lighted her tear-stained
Willow looked up as Spike and Xander stepped up to flank her. Xander placed the
roses on the grave and dropped a hand to rest on the top of Willow’s head. The
soft breeze stirred again. “Honeysuckle,” Spike said, “Why do I smell honeysuckle?”
He looked down at Willow, who raised her eyes to meet his. “That’s Tara’s scent
– her spirit is here,” she said, with wonder in her voice. His eyes widened in
surprise and a soft smile curved his lips. Xander whispered, “Hey, Tara,” and
sank down next to Willow and wrapped an arm around her. They stayed for a few
moments, and then got ready to leave, clearing away the old flowers. Willow reached
into her bag one last time and pulled out a completely smooth, palm sized river
rock. She passed her hand over it and muttered an incantation before laying it
on top of Tara’s headstone. As they turned to go, Xander looked at the rock and
ran his finger across the word “always” that was carved across it.