Xander knew he was walking around with a big goofy grin on his face. He couldn't help but know...when he'd met Buffy and Willow and Tara for dinner after depositing Spike at Giles', they'd all immediately asked him what was going on. Well, Willow had asked with a little smile, Buffy had demanded, and Tara had nodded. He'd just kept on grinning, and shaken his head. Smiled through the mu shu pork, through the interminable chatter about shoes and spell components and agreeing with Willow's assessment of the waitress as "hot," through not being able to chip in on the check. Treating Xander to meals was becoming a regular Scooby tradition these days. And he pulled Willow aside as they left the Oriental Garden, holding her a step back from the others, and whispered in her ear.
"He LOVES me!" That was it, but it was really enough, what with the grin and all.
"What? Who? Oh, God, Spike?" She'd rolled her eyes at him, but squeezed his hand. "Of COURSE he does, Xander."
"No, I mean he told me. Last night. The words and everything." He could feel himself bouncing on the balls of his feet. His cheeks were starting to ache.
"Wow...I don't know what to say. Um...congratulations?" She still looked a little uncertain, but there was a smile lurking around her eyes.
"Thanks!" The bouncing got higher. Perhaps he shouldn't have had those three Pepsis. "It was the most amazing thing...he wasn't telling me before because he didn't want ME getting too attached. He said something about vampires moving around a lot, and not wanting to hurt me, or get hurt himself. Can you believe it? And I told him it didn't matter, that I loved him for real, and then he admitted it." Xander knew he was babbling, oh yes, he knew. But it felt so good to tell SOMEONE...
"Xander..." She was laughing out loud, now, and tugging at his hand so they could catch up with Buffy and Tara. "Come ON. It's great, I'm happy for you, even though I'm still not quite comfy with the idea of my best friend having snugglies with a creepy undead evil guy. But we've gotta get back to Giles' for the research session." She let go of his hand when he started walking, though, and sliped her arm around his waist, and gave him a squeeze. "I really am happy for you," she whispered. "Just be careful, 'kay?"
"Oh, you know me." He squeezed back. His Willow. "I'm Mr. Careful. I give careful whole new depths of meaning. Careful and me go around hand in hand, you know."
"Not so much, usually..."
He grinned again, and kept it up all the way to the research session.
/Well, ain't I the bloody bollocks?/ Here he was, sitting pretty as you please on the watcher's couch, mug of blood in hand, not a bathtub in sight. And all he'd had to do was offer to translate a scroll from the Weequay, an' brag a bit about the 'fighting' he'd done to protect Xander the night before /not that I WOULDN'T fight to keep something big an' nasty off the boy, mind/ and just like that, back in Watcherly good graces. Waiting for the kiddies to get back from wherever they were stuffin' their gobs /an' Xander isn't eating nearly enough these days...caught myself counting ribs this morning, I did./ Hmmm. Maybe time to get the brat another job so he could have a bit of dosh and get out of Devon's clothes. One that preferably didn't overlap too much with Spike-time.
"Please take your feet off the couch. That's real leather, you know."
"Right, mate." He was willing to be agreeable. To a point. His boots hit the floor with a THUMP that made Giles wince from his easy chair. Spike grinned, sipped, and went back to pondering his current favorite subject while staring blindly at the scroll in front of him, relaxed in the dim light and the slight sleepiness of early evening.
He'd gone entirely 'round the bend, that was the only explanation for it. Always a sucker for the big dark eyes, him, and couple that with a delicious arse and a quirky sense of humor and strong if slightly inappropriate courage and you had a recipe for Spike-disaster. Love's bitch, indeed. But the way Xander always fell asleep sprawled all over him, an' the way he tucked his head under Spike's chin when they collapsed, spent, on the bed, an' the way he was always reaching out to touch him when they were alone or even just a little hidden and the look in his eyes when he did...like he said, he'd always been a sucker. And he'd HAD to tell the boy, hadn't he? He was an honest demon. Well, mostly. Sometimes. Fine, once in a very long while. But love was the one thing he'd always been fairly straightforward about, never saw the point in beating 'round the bush.
So there he had it. Love. Long-time, ever-afterin'-it love, even when the whelp came to his senses and shoved off for greener and alive-r pastures. And much as Spike wanted to believe him when he said he wouldn't, he knew in his bones that day would come. Unless he turned Xander, and that wasn't an option. The one time he'd even tried to nibble his lover's neck he'd been shot in the brain by lightning, or felt like. Not that he'd even want to change him, but it would be nice to mark the boy as his, at least. His. For as long as he could hold him.
The door slammed open, and the puppies tumbled in, dragging his attention from his thoughts. Buffy laughing at something Xander had said, Willow and Tara holding hands and giggling, shedding purses and bags in the entryway. Xander hauling two giant shopping bags and grimacing in pretended pain as he dropped them with an exaggerated "OOF."
"Had a spot of shopping, girls?" Spike hadn't moved, but had to smile at the sight.
"Oh YEAH." Willow bounced over and plopped down on the couch next to him. "While you old fogeys were in here reading, we went to NEIMAN- MARCUS."
Spike's eyebrows were doing their best to crawl off his face. He might look a bit domestic here, yeah, but he couldn't recall the witch ever just comin' up to him and settling her cute little bum in for a chat.
"Er, I take it it was a success, then?" And did Rupert look just a bit pained at all the animated chatter that was suddenly filling his flat?
"Giles, they were having a 50% Off sale on shoes. SHOES! Do you know how many pairs I go through, with the demon-gunk and the ashes and everything?" Buffy was perky enough that she didn't even glance at Spike as she crossed her legs and folded to the floor. /Guess we can skip the traditional insults, then./ Xander was rummaging through the fridge, and called in from the kitchen.
"I wasn't there, but from the weight of those bags it was total carnage, G-man. It couldn't have been pretty."
"Xander, PLEASE, I've ASKED you not to call me that..." Deep sigh.
"Sorry. Anyone want a Coke?" Xander strolled into the living room three red cans in hand, flopped down on the couch, grinned at Willow across Spike. "Is Oz coming tonight?" He asked the room at large.
"I don't know, Xander, you saw him last." Willow ran a hand through Tara's hair, where the blond had rested her head on her knee. A comfort-motion, Spike thought, like when he stroked the back of Xander's neck.../None of that, now. Behave./ "Anyway, I thought he had practice tonight. That's what he said on the phone."
"You guys are chatting again?" Buffy sent a worried glance couch- ward. /Always protective, the Slayer. Even when she ain't got to be. An' don't _I_ know it./
"Yeah. It's...good. We're both happy with other people now. And we're being grown-ups." She planted a kiss on the top of Tara's head, and her girlfriend smiled up at her from the floor.
"Wait, you KNOW about Oz and that...that...never mind. Of course you do." Buffy broke off, took a beverage, started muttering. "The whole world really IS gay..."
Xander choked on a swallow of Coke, wheezed, doubled over, and was pounded on the back by Spike.
"You all right, mate? Breathe slow, now..." The pounding turned to stroking, and Xander turned teary eyes to him from where his head was resting on his knees, and Spike yanked his hand back. Settled back into the couch with a grumble, ignoring the grin from Red.
"I hate to interrupt this lovely little party, but can we please TRY to concentrate on the matter at hand." Rupert was looking at them all with affectionate frustration, as he began to hand 'round the books. "Perhaps Spike could enlighten us as to the demon he encountered last night? Is it the same one that's been leaving slime trails all over the bus stops?"
"Nah, this was your standard Fyarl demon. I was gonna come get you, Watcher, so you could get a bit of bonding time in, but I pounded it hard enough that it scarpered off." He shrugged, shifted a little on the couch...there. His leg was pressed against Xander's, under the gigantic leather-bound book he'd been given. Xander grinned at him, sideways, and pressed back.
"Well, that could be a Fyarl, right? They're slime-oriented demons, aren't they Giles?" Buffy with hopeful-face.
Another sigh. "Well, yes I suppose they are. But their slime hardens on contact, and the demon we've been tracking leaves that rather nasty iridescent stuff. Right then. Crack the books, let's get on with it."
It really wasn't so bad, being here, Spike thought, even as he flipped pages idly, looking for slime references and trying to figure out a way to get his hand under the book and onto Xander. A bit too quiet, and he was sitting still, but he had a warm human up against him, and a bellyful of blood, and maybe Angel had something with his whole cooperation bit.../oh SHIT!/ Wasn't he just about the most pathetic thing EVER? He jerked up from the almost-doze he'd fallen into, and growled a little. Growled more at Xander's questioning look. He was NOT turning into his soddin' nancy-boy of a sire. Never. He'd stake himself first. He was here under protest, damnit!
"This is bloody useless." He tossed the book onto the coffee table with a bang and stood up. Moved to the back of the couch, brushing by Willow without a glance, and started pacing. "Do you lot KNOW how many kinds of demon there are that leave slime trails? More than you've got in these books, I'd wager."
Willow sent Xander a what-set-him-off? look, and Xander shrugged helplessly.
"Spike, sit down." Giles was glaring at him.
"I don't think I fuckin' will, Watcher! I've been around a BIT longer than you, an' I'm telling you, the only way you're gonna get this slimy bastard is to go out and GET him. So let's get ON with it!"
"Spike...bathtub!" Xander squeaked. The whole room was staring at him, and Spike didn't care.
"I'm not a soddin' librarian, an' the only reason I'm here is that you're bleedin' MAKIN' me. All this sittin' around and communing is makin' my head hurt. So can I go?" Stopped his pacing, stood still, staring challengingly at Giles.
Buffy was frowning now, fingering the stake she always carried in her pocket, and Xander was looking at him over the back of the couch with wide, baffled eyes. He just wanted to get OUT. Away.
"I'll go with him." Willow's soft voice shocked all of them. "On...on patrol, I mean. We can make a sweep, see if there are any more clues?"
/Great. Company. Don't care, as long as I can get out of this HOMEYNESS./
"Fine. C'mon, Red, let's go."
"Stop right there, Spike. We never said you could..."
"Bite me, Slayer."
And he was out the door, hearing the murmur of voices behind him. Willow followed him out silently, stood by while he lit a cigarette, and trailed along when he stomped out into the street.
After a few blocks, he couldn't stand the feeling of eyes on him anymore.
She was silent.
"Spit it out, Red, we haven't got all night."
"I was just thinking...it's scary sometimes, isn't it?"
"What the HELL are you babblin' about?"
"Love. It's scary."
"Dunno what you're talkin' about."
"Right, Spike. You're feeling all gooshy about Xander, and it's making you mean."
"I'm not mean, I'm EVIL. Why can't you lot REMEMBER that?"
"You don't really have to try so hard, you know. We like you better un-evil."
He snarled and spun to face her. "I don't CARE if you like me, witch. I don't give a bloody SHIT if you hate my guts! I'm not a member of your little gang, an' I don't wanna be, an' that's FINAL."
She didn't flinch, which just infuriated him more.
"I think you do, Spike. Xander loves us, and you love Xander, and you don't even want to be nasty to us anymore, do you? Well, maybe Buffy. But that's different. Anyway, is that what crawled up your butt and died?"
He stared at her, speechless, then couldn't help it. He started snickering. Then laughing, until the tears almost came. When he finally got his breath back, he was leaning against a lamppost, and Willow had a small, uncertain smile on her face.
"Ah, Red. You ARE a treat sometimes, you know?" /An' so damn perceptive it's scary./ He shook himself off the lampost, and turned to keep walking, falling into step beside the witch. The silence was much more companionable now.
"If you hurt him, I'll stake you myself."
Still no clues found, and Xander was going slowly insane wondering what Spike and Willow were doing *no, what they're talking about* out there. Spike LIKED Willow, he knew. But still.
"A-HA!" Buffy's triumphant crow, FINALLY. "It's a Dirgah Demon. Big, but very very stupid and slow, and hangs around public transportation for some reason. Take THAT, Spike!"
"What kills it, Buff?" He was eager to get started on finding his *suddenly psychotic* lover.
"Um...not much, unfortunately. Giles, what's that?" She handed the book over, pointing at a picture.
"Er...that's the Wand of Handir, I believe. Magical implement, been lost for centuries. Why do you ask?"
"Because THAT is what kills it."
"Oh dear." Watcher nose-rubbing. "Is there anything else?"
"Well...it's got a particular fondness for vampires. Eating them, that is. Hey, maybe it'll eat Spike!" Xander could have smacked the gleeful smile right off her face as he suddenly tensed all over.
"Spike's with Willow, Buff." He saw Tara go tense, too. "We'd better get out there and find 'em."
"Right, you go looking for them. Just keep your distance if you can, I'll look into the question of killing it."
"OK, Giles!" Buffy jumped up, all eagerness for action, and pulled Tara and Xander along in her wake.
"Bus stations, bus stations..." Xander muttered as he strode along, much more rapidly than his normal laziness usually allowed.
"Xander, slow down! If it's concentrating on snacking on Spike, I'm sure Willow will have time to get away." Buffy missed the poisonous glance he threw her, but Tara reached out and patted his shoulder. He looked at her, startled, and she offered a small, comforting smile.
"We'll find them, Xander." And he was almost astonished enough at her first unprompted words to him to forget the gnawing worry that was edging closer to panic with every minute. He KNEW something was wrong. He could just feel it. And as they rounded the corner to bus station number three, he froze. Could feel the blood draining from his body, leaving him cold.
Willow was chanting frantically, helplessly, from the ground where she lay sprawled in a tangle of skirts and blood. Spike was dangling from what looked like a broken leg, screaming suddenly, held aloft by something...HUGE. Huge and grey, and oozing. No eyes that he could see, but a beaklike mouth that was snapping at Spike as he flailed and twisted in its hold. He got one arm up around its..tentacle...and was shaken off carelessly, brought in closer to that beak...
"Spike..." and he didn't know if it was a breath or a scream, but he was running, hearing Buffy pounding behind him and seeing Tara angle off towards Willow. Good. He was there now, under Spike, seeing the glazed yellow eyes as the vampire dangled over his head, as he threw himself at a gigantic grey blob of a body with a stake in one hand and what Giles had told him was a smallsword in the other. Funny how his mind seemed to slow down in moments of utter terror. Smallsword, but it didn't LOOK small as it sank into greasy, ashy flesh to the hilt, as he pulled it out and danced out of the way as Spike came crashing down where he had been standing. He could hear Buffy cursing, hear the thumps as she kicked and punched it *oh, for just a little of that strength,* and it moved back. He was between it and Spike now, hacking at one tentacle while trying to stay out of reach of another, striking out with the stake when the sword got too slippery to hold *it bleeds slime. Wonderful,* and barely feeling Buffy when she pulled on his arm.
"Xander, gotta GO, can't kill it, come ON!"
He breathed, turned, grabbed at Spike's duster and YANKED. Picked the vampire up with strength he didn't know he had and sprinted for the clear. Felt a tentacle catch the back of his head with a SMACK and send him sprawling, with no hands free to catch himself. Rolling to land on his side, and up again, and running, still holding Spike in his arms. Following a bobbing blond head that was all he could see.
She stopped about a hundred yards away, where Willow had stumbled, and if Xander had had any oxygen left in his body he would have thanked her. As it was he stood, heaving chest sucking at air, holding an unconscious vampire. Buffy turned back to watch for pursuit, and he finally collected himself enough to lower Spike gently to the grass.
"Spike...Spike...C'mon, Spike, wake up. Wake up. You have to, I haven't had a chance to yell at you for being an asshole earlier. C'mon."
But Spike lay still, blood starting to creep out to stain the grass beneath him, bones in his face standing out sharp and clean. Eyes closed. Pale as final death, and not moving. Xander swore sharply, bitterly, and pulled at one sleeve of the duster, manhandling Spike out of it. He felt hands helping him, and looked up to see Willow and Tara hauling at the coat. He cast them a grateful glance, not stopping.
"Yeah, it's just a scratch...oh, Xander, that looks really bad." Her voice was shocked.
It looked like the demon had had a snack after all, Xander thought numbly. Beyond the leg that was lying at an unnatural angle *compound fracture, I remember Health class!* a huge bite of flesh had been taken out of Spike's side, leaving gleaming, splintered ribs exposed to the air. *Oh no ohnoohnononono* He hauled his own shirt over his head, pressing it against the wound. Even folded just twice, it barely covered the damage.
"Blood, he needs blood..." he looked around frantically, as if a Red Cross truck would suddenly appear. Saw Buffy approaching instead.
"Guys, we should...wow, that's kinda nasty." Her nose wrinkled up.
"Back off, Buffy." He didn't recognize the snarl in his own voice as he bent back to Spike, but saw the look of astonishment in her eyes. "Knife...does someone have a knife? He's bleeding out...I don't know how much they can lose...Tara, can you run back to Giles' and get the blood? And a car? And will someone please give me a KNIFE?" He stared up at them, feeling Spike's blood wash over his hands, felt the cold body cooling even further, feeling his heart race with adrenaline and panic and his own blood. Willow nodded at him once, handed over her penknife.
"Be careful, Xander. Not too much."
"I know, I know..." he muttered distractedly as he held up one wrist.
"What the HELL is going on here? Xander, give me that!" Buffy's eyes were flashing, and her hand grabbed at his arm. "Do NOT tell me you're gonna cut yourself for that blond freak-" He stood up, cutting her words off and shaking her hand loose.
"Don't you DARE call my lover that."
Silence. Shock. He stared at her, mouth tight with anger. Then knelt back down by Spike, looked up again at Tara.
"Tara...Wills...the blood and the car? Please?" Tara spun and took off at a run. Willow looked like it would take a towtruck to shift her from that spot.
"Whaaaaatt?" Buffy, behind him, but he didn't have time to care. He rolled Spike over onto his back again, careful not to dislodge the crude bandage. Settled the blond head on his knees, made a quick slash with the knife *doesn't hurt doesn't hurt* and held it to Spike's mouth.
"Come on, Spike. Drink. Come on. You're wasting it now. Fresh and human. Please, love. Drink." He was chanting, now, soft words that he hoped were getting through, hoped with the part of his brain that wasn't screaming. Rubbed his bleeding wrist against a cold, white mouth, staining it red again. There was no response. "No, Spike, don't do this to me, please, come on..." He took a finger and collected the blood trickling down his arm, and pushed it into Spike's mouth. Felt the tiniest suction. Replaced the finger with his wrist again, and this time the mouth latched on, and he felt the pull. Weak at first, then stronger, as Spike began to suck in earnest. Drawing the blood from his body, and Xander's free hand found its way into soft white hair, tangling in the curls, holding the mouth to his wrist. Because it felt...like nothing ever had, before. He wondered vaguely if this was what nursing mothers felt. The steady suction on his torn wrist tingled up his arm, crawled up the back of his neck and ran down his spine in a shiver. Came to rest in his cock, which felt each pull, each lap of the tongue, as if it was being applied directly...THERE. Xander could feel the moan in his throat, wanting to get out. Felt his thighs clench under Spike's head. Wished suddenly, savagely, that they were somewhere private, alone, not here on bus-stop grass with two girls looking on.
"Xander...I think that's enough. His eyes are open." Willow's hand was gentle on his shoulder. He shook his head, not wanting the feeling to stop. "No, Xander, enough." She pulled his arm away from Spike's mouth, and he blinked away sudden dizziness. Looked down at Spike, who was staring up at him, eyes still a little blank, but AWARE.
"Oh, love..." Xander stroked his face with one hand, feeling the stolen warmth in his cheek. "Don't DO that to me."
Spike remembered...pain. Pain in his leg, and a ripping, tearing agony in his body, and then...Xander running at him with a sword. That couldn't be right. And then nothing, until the sweet hot taste of blood in his mouth, deliciously, freely given, he could feel it in the texture on his tongue. And now he was here, looking up at stars and a worried boy, who was holding his head on his lap. There was Red, looking terribly concerned. And the Slayer, with banked rage in her eyes and her hands in fists. He made a convulsive movement with his head, and sank back gasping as pain shot through him again.
"Shh, Spike, it's ok. She knows. I told her. Just relax, I'm not gonna let anything happen to you." And somewhere in Spike's mind, he was pathetically relieved to hear that. He hadn't felt this bad in...well, a very long time. He looked a question up at Xander.
"The demon dropped you when we started in on it. It's gone. Tara's going to get the car and more blood for you, so just rest easy."
/More blood. Wonder how much I lost. Wonder how I'll get that swill down my throat after tasting Xander./ He let his eyes fall shut again, and rested easy.
The ride back to Giles' house was made in relative silence. Xander sat in back with Willow and Spike and Tara, and if he hadn't had the vampire on his lap it would have been crowded. He was bent over his lover, still murmuring things too soft for Willow to hear, ignoring the tense silence and Giles' worried glances in the mirror. She wondered what it looked like, since Spike wouldn't show up, obviously. And she worried about the tense set of Xander's head, the angry clench of Buffy's jaw, and the fact that Spike seemed to have slipped into unconsciousness again, and she could see blood dripping down his side. *Huh. That might be Xander's. That is SO weird.* They pulled up to the house, and Xander crawled out from under Spike, pulling the limp body after him and hauling him into his arms again, staggering just a little.
"Bring him in here." Giles led the way into the living room, cast a despairing glance at his leather upholstery, and indicated that Xander should put Spike down on the couch. Xander looked exhausted, Willow thought, drawn and worried and much too old. She wished Buffy could have dealt with this a LITTLE better.
"Here's the blood, Xan. It's been microwaved." Tara to the rescue, looking as beautiful as ever, even with a smear of blood on her face and her hair all wild and poofy. Willow stood beside her behind the couch, held her tight.
"He saved my life, you know." Spoken quietly, but loud enough that Buffy, slumped sullen in a chair, could hear. "The demon grabbed me first, and he pulled me away and tossed me far. That's how I got the scratch. But I think throwing me made his chip do that zappy thing. That's how Slimy got him."
"Well." Giles was kneeling by Xander, examining the gaping hole. "We're certainly not going to let him bleed to ashes. Especially not on my couch. Here, Xander, bring that blood packet up here. You try to get it down him, I'll see if I can find something to stitch the wound."
"Giles!" Buffy sounded appalled. "They're...they're...Spike's SLEEPING with Xander."
"Yes, Buffy, I gathered that in the car. Now if you don't mind..." He brushed past her and headed upstairs to the medicine cabinet. Buffy slumped back down, glaring.
"Doesn't anyone else see how WRONG this is? Willow?"
"Shh, not now, Buffy. I think he's finally drinking." All eyes were fixed on the white throat, swallowing, supported by Xander's hand. Giles came stomping back down the stairs, a huge roll of gauze and miles of medical tape in his hands. At Tara's raised eyebrow, he shrugged.
"I'm a Watcher, or ex-Watcher, at any rate. With a slayer and friends to look after, I've found it pays to be prepared." He gently shifted Xander up, and started in on wrapping and taping. Spike finished off the bag of blood, and at Xander's glance, Tara went to get another. Came back with a bag, and a Coke and some pretzels for Xander.
"You're sup-supposed to eat after giving blood." She handed them to him with a firm nod, and retreated to Willow's side. Willow grinned at her, and gave her a quick kiss. Now that Spike wasn't bleeding any more, the atmosphere was getting much lighter. Xander sat back on his heels with a sigh, leaving his hand on Spike's neck.
"I think he's gonna be ok. He's warmer. Thanks, Giles."
"Not now, Giles, ok? Just...give me a minute." He looked down, seeming to notice for the first time that he was barechested and covered in blood. "I just wanna get cleaned up." He stood, shakily, and wandered up the stairs.
"I gather from your remarkable lack of reaction that you knew about this, Willow?" His voice was stern, and Willow ducked her head.
"Ah." Dry as dust, his tone, and she squirmed. "Well, what's past is past. Now we just have to figure out what to do with...this all."
"I know what to do. We stake him so Xander can get his brain back!"
"Thank you for that extremely helpful input, Buffy, but I really don't think that's an option now. Xander's obviously...very attached...to Spike, and we have to respect his wishes."
"RESPECT his WISHES? Giles! This is SPIKE."
As if reacting to his name, there was a groan from the couch.
Giles rolled his eyes and crouched back down by the couch.
"Spike? How are you feeling?"
"Like utter shit, thanks SO much for asking." His eyes were only half-open, his head still lolling back on the couch cushions.
"Well, you're still a bit pale. More pale. Try not to move. You just had the last of the blood, so you'll just have to heal with what you have."
"Right. I think I can handle the not moving part. Where's Xander?"
"Well, I wanted to speak with you about that, actually..."
"Spike!" The delight in Xander's voice as he came down the stairs towelling damp hair brought Giles up short. He trotted over to the couch and slid onto the arm. Looked down and smiled.
"How are you?"
"Shitty. I keep saying that, but I don't think you lot are listening to me." But Spike's eyes krinkled a bit as he looked up at Xander. Krinkled even more as Xander reached down and ran soft fingers through his hair, and then he remembered their audience, and froze.
"It's ok, Spike. They know. Well, kinda."
"Yes, please do enlighten us, Xander. What exactly IS going on here?" Giles had his best School Administrator tone on, and Xander looked beseechingly at Willow. She smiled at him.
"Go ahead, Xander. They've figured most of it out."
He squared his shoulders, but kept his hand in Spike's hair.
"Spike and I...we're, well, together."
"Not to sound too terribly juvenile here, but 'duh.' What I really want to know is, Xander...is this...well, is it what you want? He IS a demon, you know."
"A dead demon." Buffy muttered. "WHAT?" when all eyes swung to her. "I'm sorry, but I never even knew Xander was gay, and now he's suddenly screwing SPIKE? Spike tried to kill us all, Xander, in case you'd forgotten. This is probably just some elaborate game he's playing with your head."
Snarl from the couch, though Spike couldn't raise his head yet.
"For your information, Buffy, I went to HIM, not the other way around. And we've been together for over a month already, so if he was going to play with my head he'd have done it by now." A grunt from below. "Well, you would have. You were never so good with the waiting, Spike."
"A MONTH! Why didn't you tell us, Xander? You could have been in danger!"
"I didn't tell you because I knew you'd react just like this. No staking Spike, Buffy. I mean it. I'll try to stop you, at least till the chip comes out, and then he can do it himself." Willow was a little amazed at the firmness of Xander's voice, and Buffy opened and closed her mouth a few times, then sank back, defeated.
"Fine, if that's the way you want it. But if he makes one move towards your neck, Xander, all bets are SO off."
"Hear that, Spike? No necking." Spike snorted with laughter, and Willow covered her mouth to hold in a giggle, and even Giles cracked a smile. Buffy just glared at Spike, and he narrowed blue eyes right back at her.
"Right." Giles heaved himself to his feet. "It's been a trying evening for us all, and I think we'd all better get some rest. We'll worry about the Dirgah tomorrow. Er..." They all stared at Spike. At Spike and Xander. Willow rolled that around in her mind a few times, and it sounded pretty good. Spike and Xander.
Xander tugged on white curls. "I think I'll take blondie here home with me, if no one objects?" Spike grinned.
Sigh from Giles. "Quite. And I suppose you'll need a ride?"
"I dunno, are you offering?"
"I rather think I am. Gather up your...vampire, there, and let's go."
"I DO have a name, Watcher." Grumbling as Xander propped him up to a sitting position, then wincing as he made his wobbly way to his feet.
"As do I...William." Giles arched a meaningful brow at Spike, who sneered at him amiably and stumbled to the door, hanging off Xander. "Buffy...can you make sure Tara and Willow get home safely? It's rather late."
"OK, Giles." Even Buffy sounded a little tired, and made no further protest as they all trooped out, locking the house behind them.
They'd fended off Oz and Devon's shocked offers of assistance, and Rick's (the bassist) offer of strong painkillers, and had made it up the stairs and to the bedroom. *Feels like forever since this morning,* and once again, Xander was stripping Spike. MUCH more carefully this time, though.
He urged the vampire to sit on the edge of the bed, and bent to undo the laces and buckles on his boots.
"They look bad ass, Spike, but how do you have the patience for this every morning? These buckles are almost rusted shut. How old ARE these things?"
"Dunno, pet. Older than you, most likely." Spike's smile was tired. "An' image is important, or haven't you learned anything yet?"
Snort. "Spike, look at my wardrobe. Well, my ex-wardrobe. Did it LOOK like I gave a shit about my appearance?"
"Now that you put it that way..." The second boot fell to the floor, leaving Spike barefoot, in jeans and the tattered remnants of his shirt. He stared down at it mournfully. "Bloody hell, I LIKED this shirt."
"Yeah, well, I like your intact skin better. Here, raise your arm." With infinite care, Xander undid the buttons, one by one. Slid one sleeve off of Spike, then the other, letting the rags fall around his waist. "Spike..." he whispered, trailing a finger down the center of that pale, hard chest, stopping when he hit bandage. Shook his head, and went to work on the jeans, only a little distracted by the fingers that touched his lips, briefly. Buttons undone "You HAD to have button-fly, Spike?" "Image, luv, image..." he pulled them down, gently sliding over the already-healed leg *must be nice*, slim ankles, long feet. Stopped to kiss the arches, one after the other.
Spike was just sitting still, looking pale and exhausted through the smile, so Xander shed his own clothes quickly, and slid one leg 'round behind so that he was straddling Spike's hips as he sat. Ran gentle hands in long, soothing strokes over smooth shoulders, up the neck, down to the sweet spot between shoulder blades, where he pressed his thumbs in firmly and smiled at the gasp. Kept the gentle massage going until he felt muscles soften to butter under his fingers, and Spike's head dropped back to rest on his shoulder with a sigh.
"C'mon. Bedtime for wounded vampires." Gently tugging, he pulled said vampire back onto the bed, laid him flat, and started on the final step of Making Spike Feel Better. Xander laid a kiss in the palm of each small hand, then closed Spike's fingers around them, ignoring Spike's questioning look. Trailed butterfly kisses over wrists and arms, pausing with delight at the sharp line of collarbone and the little hollow at the base of his throat. Sucking a bit at the soft skin there, feeling a breath catch in the place below his tongue. Xander kissed each nipple, biting gently at each one, and pausing, for just a moment, with his mouth just resting in the center of Spike's chest. Felt hands come up to hold him there. Just for a moment.
"I can't believe you have enough blood in you for that," he half- laughed as he pulled back and looked down.
"Oh, always, pet. Not up for gymnastics tonight though, I'm afraid."
"No, you just lie still. Let Xander take care of everything." With a grin, he slid down, and, not wanting to waste time with teasing tonight, swallowed Spike whole. Kept his hand pressed against Spike's belly, just below the bandage, to hold the buck and thrust he knew were coming, and they did, but Xander didn't want Spike hurting himself.
"Xanderrr..." Hissed through fangs, and Xander dropped one hand to fondle soft balls, rolling them between his fingers as he sucked and licked, moving up so only the head got attention. Noted with satisfaction that Spike's hands were clenched white around fistfuls of sheet. He sucked on the head of Spike's cock like it was a lollypop, letting it slide in and out, off his tongue, then swirling it around and dropping back down. Spike was panting now, short hard breaths, but still hanging on, arching his back and pushing every time Xander drew back. *Beautiful, even wounded, even as a vampire, and here, and mine.* And Xander let one slick finger slide down under, and in, and Spike screamed.
Xander had only tried this a few times, never certain enough of technique to know if he was getting it right, and too embarrassed to ask. And Spike never requested much in bed, just letting things flow most times. But he'd asked Oz, in a spare moment of complete humiliation, and gotten a straight *bent* answer, and here he was. Pushing in with one finger, then two, crooking them and thrusting, and Spike was losing. his. mind. What was left of it, anyway. Xander smiled, even as he kept the lick-suck-lick rhythm with his mouth, and the push-push-stroke of his fingers, as he watched the white body writhe and moan under him. And one final, deep suck, and Spike was shuddering and heaving and coming hard, arching his whole body off the bed and HOWLING. Xander swallowed, and again, and gently slid his fingers out to rest on Spike's thigh, near where his head had come to lie.
"C'mere, Xan." Hoarse, tired British voice, and Xander had never heard such a tone in it. He eased up Spike's body, careful of the bandages, to tuck his head under Spike's chin. The vampire grabbed his left hand, brought it to his mouth, kissed the healing slash there.
"You...tasted so sweet, Xander. I could have taken too much. It was a stupid thing to do."
"I'll never just let you go, Spike."
"I do love you, Xan."
"I love you too."
"I know. It was still stupid."
"Spike, shut up and go to sleep."
"Right. Do we have to talk to the Slayer tomorrow?"
"Yes, Spike. Sleep."
"She's gonna stake me."
"NO, she WON'T. Now SLEEP!"
"Fine then. See how you like fuckin' a pile of ashes."
"I love you."