Dance for me, he'd said, and she had, long dark hair falling like water around her arms, pale talon-hands with their delicate fingers moving gently down her own body. A body wrapped in velvet and lace and blood...his, hers, some dead person's, who could tell, smelling sweet as roses as he drifted. Eyes of moon-dark-night-dreams, peering at him, seeing him clean and cold and complete, and he knew those eyes, that look, and he was in deep water. Dark and unbreathing and fish by his hair, and she was there, she was everywhere, and those hands on him now, and the broken song she was singing was humming in his bones. Scales crawling over her, one by one like tiny devouring teeth, eating away at her porcelain skin, scabbing her eyes and mouth and stretching her long, as she wrapped a smooth length around his legs. Slithered up his body and he was heavy, sinking in the water, the feeling of green and cool and death and she was whispering, whispering in his ear, and he turned to meet that cold mouth, forked tongue, long-neck-longer-now-impossibly- long. There was blood waiting for him.
Xander hadn't realized, before, how carefully Spike had been treating him. How much more gently he'd been handled, and he appreciated it in retrospect, because if this was the way his lover dealt with the rest of the world at large, Xander was honestly surprised that he'd lived to be a hundred and twenty-whatever.
Spike was in A Mood.
It had started that morning, when Xander had opened his eyes to see Spike, already dressed, lying in his favorite position, hands behind head on his back. Staring at the ceiling. He'd offered a smile and a kiss and been met with cold silence.
"Spike? What's wrong, are you still-"
"I'm fine." Short and clipped, almost forbidding. He'd shrugged and gotten out of bed, showered and dressed, and returned to the room to see that Spike hadn't moved.
"OK, I don't think I've EVER seen you sit still that long. And why are you awake, anyway? It's barely noon." Spike had grunted. "Fine. You don't want to talk, I get that. But what's wrong?"
"Sure. Here, shove over." And he'd crawled right back into bed, and curled himself around the still body, and pressed a kiss to the angle of Spike's jaw. And even when an arm had curved up around his shoulders the way it always did, and Spike unbent enough to kiss him back, Xander couldn't shake the feeling that something was very wrong.
Now, two hours later, and if Devon didn't snap and rip Spike's head off, Xander thought he just might. This went way beyond their normal bickering.
"What, and Oz don't care when you bring some chit home an' shag her in the shower? I can smell it, mate, all over this dump."
"Like it's your fucking BUSINESS? It's my house, I'll screw whoever I want in it, and no, he doesn't care."
"Oh, that's nice, pet. You're a soddin' prince, you are. Got your bit at home, warmin' your bed, and your dick in everything that walks by..."
Xander was devoutly glad that Oz wasn't home, because he DID care, and equally glad that Spike's old-fashioned views on monogamy had been historically proven.
"Fuck OFF, Spike! And why do you even fuckin' CARE?"
"I DON'T, I just get a bit sick of smellin' some skank every time I walk down the hall."
"NO ONE IS ASKING YOU TO STAY, you SHIT!"
"Guys..." Breaking point had been reached, Xander thought.
"Shut UP." Combined snarls drove him back to the couch. They were almost nose-to-nose, now, and if Xander hadn't been so scared, it might have been funny.
"I don't stay where I'm not wanted...oh, hang about, yes I do. So you want me out? MAKE me." Growling, and game-face, and Devon stepped back, shocked. *Forgot what he is, Dev? Because I do that sometimes, too...*
The wind seemed to go out of Devon, and he turned to Xander.
"Keep your pet freak away from me, Xander. I don't wanna see him any more. In fact, find him somewhere else to stay." He moved away, and stomped up the stairs. There was silence in the living room.
"Great job, Spike." Xander knew it was a bad idea, but the words just came out.
"Fuck you, and fuck him. He'll forget about it in an hour." Spike turned too, went up the stairs more quietly, and Xander heard the door of his room slam shut. No WAY was he going up there now. No, he'd just sit here on the couch in the curtains-drawn dimness, and worry, and wonder if he'd manage to survive the Interrogate Xander Session--oh, wait, the scooby meeting, right, and sometimes he truly HATED that name--if Spike didn't dig himself out of whatever hole he'd fallen into, sometime before sunset.
The blood dreams had always fucked with his head, since the chip, and adding Drusilla into the mix...well, he'd barely managed to keep from tearing into Xander's neck this morning, when he'd smelled all that sweet, hot blood, so close to his nose. Remembering the taste in his mouth last night. And Devon...he'd been lucky that hadn't degenerated into something much worse, something that would have left him with a splitting headache and the singer with a limb missing. His demon was snarling and yanking on its delicate little electronic leash, worse than he could ever remember. It had tasted live blood again.
He'd always known, or understood, or something, that the demon was him and he was the demon and that somewhere inside him was someone else, or at least another facet. Someone informing the demon's personality and making Spike who he was, when he wasn't tearing people apart with his hands and watching them gurgle and bleed and die. Lately, that someone had been making his presence felt more strongly. It made sense, he supposed. No feeding, no violence unless on the side of--gag--right, and any proper demon would have gone into hiding just as his had. But now Spike felt his mouth start to water as his mind painted him a vivid picture of Giles, throat shredded and empty weeping holes where his eyes had been, Riley gutted and screaming on the floor, grabbing for his insides with stumps where his hands used to be, and Spike, almost sated but wanting more, sinking fangs oh. so. delicately. into the sun-gold throat of the Slayer, feeling that incredible power and seductive and addictive taste of the richest blood a vampire could ever hope to drink, while Xander looked on sobbing with insane--NO. NO.
He threw himself down on the bed, wrestling his mind back into someplace resembling normal, feeling the tension ruck his shoulders up into knots and tighten his hands into fists. A pull of ache in his side where he wasn't quite healed yet, despite three pints of blood an' however much Xander had given...quite a bit, from his lethargy this morning. Stupid little prat. Stupid, beautiful, insane, delicious little...Spike sighed, flipped over onto his stomach, and willed himself to relax. If that slut across the hall was gonna give him the boot, this might be his last chance to sleep in a bed for a while. And he was still healing...
"Hey, sleeping undead guy. Wake up. Spike." A voice was pulling at him, dragging him out of deep water, and he didn't want to go...mouth full of blood, brain on fire, this was where he belonged, who he was, not going back to that place where he was weak...he moaned as a hand touched him, warm, warmer than his skin. He felt it burn.
"Spike, I'm going out for a job interview. Sun will be down in a few hours, so be ready to head out to Giles', ok?" Shaking his shoulder, and how dare a mortal touch him without permission? He was snarling into something soft, feeling the rage sweep through him from the top of his head down his body in one long shudder, coiling him up with that sweet familiar tension that screamed to him of an impending kill. MOVE and SLAM and teeth against a throat, ready to bite and tear and drink and drink and drink and...Spike woke up. Pressed against Xander full-body on the floor, but not with desire except for the kill. Saw white-ringed brown eyes, smelled terror and confusion and pain, and slowly, slowly pulled his fangs out of Xander's skin. Right where the shoulder and neck met. That spot he'd kissed a thousand times. A few drops welling up, deep red, and Spike couldn't help it, he licked his lips. Sweet. Xander was rigid, hands stiff against his chest, not breathing, not ANYTHING.
"Oh CHRIST, pet..." He rolled off and stood up, running a hand through his hair, not looking at the boy on the floor he'd been SO close to draining dry...
"Spike?" Whispered in a dry throat, and Xander hadn't moved.
"Was havin' a dream...you got all caught up in it...Jesus, Xander, I never meant..." He crouched down now, willing Xander to believe him, reaching out a shaking hand to touch that frightened mouth. /Please, pet, know that I wouldn't hurt you.../
"Holy SHIT..." Xander pushed his hand away and sat up, still scared but maybe a little angry now, too. "You're killing me in your dreams, now, Spike? What the FUCK?"
"No...no. Wasn't killing you, never killing YOU..."
"Great, so you were having a merry little bloodbath in your sleep? And as the nearest warm body I was fair game? And why the FUCK isn't your chip trying its hardest to kill you right now?"
They both froze, Xander sitting on the floor, Spike with one hand still outstretched. /Oh, sweet hell...could it...would it...is it gone?/ Only one way to find out, and Spike wasn't sure he could threaten Xander now if he tried. A blur of motion and he was up and out the bedroom door, slamming through to Devon and Oz's room, one fist cocked and ready to go, seeing Oz's startled face and screaming as the pain hit him between the eyes like lightning.
When he could open his eyes again, Xander and Oz were crouched over him, both looking worried and more than a little pissed off.
"Guess it still works, huh?" Xander didn't sound too displeased about it, and Spike growled at him weakly, still clutching his head. "And way to go for Oz, there, I know he really appreciates it."
"Yeah, man. Very uncool."
"Definitely. And we are SO going to talk about this little dream chip-interference thing, but I've really gotta go to this interview if I ever want to start paying rent here. Think you can manage not to kill anyone while I'm gone?" Xander wasn't really teasing, and the expression in his eyes was...cool. Not the slow burn he was used to seeing there, or the laughter...Spike curled into himself even further, nodded blindly.
"Good. Oz, I'm out. See you later. Spike, we're due at the Scooby meeting at seven. I'll swing by and pick you up. Don't be asleep, ok?"
They stood, stepped over the motionless black-clad figure on the floor, and shut the door behind them.
When had this gotten so crazy, Xander wondered as he walked. When had things gotten so...INTENSE? He couldn't fool himself that this was a normal relationship, never had been able to, from the first time those insanely strong hands had grabbed and held him, the first time he'd seen the glitter of fangs in that full mouth, the first time Spike had tried to bite him while they were fucking. They'd never discussed it, the way the vampire would mouth his neck desperately as he came, the way little pains would sometimes jerk him rigid when they were kissing, betraying his thoughts. He hadn't been moony enough to ignore it completely, though. But this was different; Spike had HURT him, had bitten him and not in passion, and Xander...Xander was ready to forgive him for it as easily as he had anything else.
When had Spike become...everything? Was it the first time Xander had looked up from the TV to notice that there was a PERSON in his basement with him, cursing and smoking and laughing at his jokes? That had come early, during the Anya-days. It was as if an audible CLICK had sounded in his brain, and Spike wasn't The Annoying Enemy any more, he was a person. Just like Xander. Well, ok, better looking, much, and sharper teeth and wildly different diet, but not just a mindless thing. Funny sometimes, and sad other times, and hungry and horny and snarky and smart and mean. And Xander SAW him. Saw him more clearly every day, until the wanting was so strong it drove him out of warm human arms and into this insanity.
*OK, he's a vampire. Maybe not a good idea to forget that anymore. Ever. But he's still Spike, and he's still MINE, and I don't wanna lose him. REALLY don't wanna lose him. Can't. So, fine, go to this interview and go home and be Mr. Forgiveness Man, and maybe we can look into the biting in a less-scary way. Later. Because damn did it feel good last night...*
But when he got back, Spike was gone.
Xander was a little white at the lips when he stepped through the door at Giles', and Willow didn't like the set to his shoulders. She'd been bickering with Buffy about dorm assignments or something, but of course, everyone got quiet when the reason for the meeting came in.
Xander didn't say anything, just looked at them all. Buffy in Riley's lap in the big chair. Giles standing by the kitchen. Willow and Tara on the couch, and Willow scootching over to give him room...he shot her a grateful smile, sat down, and sighed.
"OK, guess we should get this over with." He braced himself, she could feel it.
Surprisingly enough, Giles spoke first, cutting off Buffy before the first syllable.
"Xander...we know you're a grown man, and fully capable of making your own decisions. But as your friends we're concerned, and we want to make sure that, well...that you're safe, and happy. So please understand, we do not mean to interfere. But your choice in partners is...unusual. And we do worry. Spike is a vampire, after all, and he HAS betrayed us. More than once."
"I know he has." Nothing more.
"He's a DEMON, Xander." Riley, there, speaking up for the first time, but he really did look concerned.
"I KNOW that, Riley. The fangs and the blood-drinking tipped me off, believe it or not. And really, not the issue here, I'm thinking. I mean, Buffy dated a demon-"
"Angel was GOOD!-" she broke off under his glare.
"-and Anya was an ex-demon who tortured men for centuries-"
"Key word being 'ex'" Buffy muttered.
"-and I mean, come on, we're on the HELLMOUTH here! Who ELSE am I gonna find to date?"
"Is THAT what this is about? Because I know plenty of...guys...that I could set you up with." Buffy leaned forward eagerly. "Nice normal nondemony guys...and girls. Do you still date girls?" A little frown between her eyes, and Xander had never looked more exasperated in his life, that Willow could recall.
"I don't date ANYONE! I'm in LOVE, and Spike loves me back, and neither of us are dating other people." Willow hoped that she was the only person who heard the tremor in his voice when he said the vampire's name. Something had happened, and she and Xander were gonna have a chat after this. He looked miserable, under the resolve.
"Demons can't love, Xander." Buffy's voice was stern, and Xander exploded up off the couch.
"BULLshit! Did you SEE Drusilla and Spike together? They loved each other, and it was real. And Angel loves, and if you think that's just a soul you're nuts. And Doyle, remember hearing about Doyle? You think he didn't love?" He was panting now. "Spike LOVES me, he does, and he makes me happy, and we're together, and that's IT!" He stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him.
Silence. Broken, so unexpectedly, by Tara.
"I th-thought we said Buffy wasn't gonna talk?"
Willow caught up with him a block away, like he knew she would. *Remind me to tell you later how much I love you, Wills...* He was wandering, hands deep in his pockets, and didn't look at her.
"I'm sorry about that."
"Buffy really does care, you know. She's just...her worldview's a little narrow, y'know? I think it's her job."
"I know. But JESUS."
"I know, it was hard, huh?"
"You have no idea."
"Where WAS Spike, anyway? I didn't think he'd leave you alone to face that...thought he'd be all...GRRR, and 'Back off you wankers,' and 'No one says that to my Xander!'" Xander grinned a little, but it fell away fast.
"What do you mean? Oh, he's still hurt from last night?"
"No, he's gone."
"Gone where?" Willow was honestly puzzled. She'd seen the way the vampire had looked at Xander, and her mind was just not wrapping around 'gone.'
"I dunno. Away. We had a...thing, today. Not really a fight. I don't know. He left."
"Well, did he leave a note?"
Snort. "Wills, this is SPIKE. He could have discovered the treasure of the Sierra Madres, or gone off to Timbuktu, or just be around the corner getting smokes, but he'd never leave a note."
"We don't need no steenkin' badges..." Willow growled. Still trying to figure out 'gone.'
"Heh. Yeah. Very Spike." There was a quiver behind his laughter, though, and she pulled him into a quick, fierce hug.
"Oh, Xander, he'll come back. I know he will. He loves you!"
"Right. In that demony way." Xander had his face buried in her hair, and she could feel the tears dampening it, though he was still so quiet. "Oh, Wills, what if he doesn't?"
"He will. I KNOW he will. Who could resist you?" And he was laughing at her, but everything wasn't ok.
Six days, and Xander had moved past angry and into numb. Spike wasn't coming back. He worked every day, processing film at the local FotoMart, coming home smelling of chemicals and falling into an empty bed to sleep soddenly for hours. He'd stopped pocketing extra copies of the funnier pictures to show to Spike after day three. He listened to music and watched tv with Devon and Oz, and replied when spoken to. He accepted Buffy's stammering apology and Giles' wary smile with a nod. Willow took him out to dinner, and it gave him something to do besides sit and stare at dark blue sheets and the empty cigarette box that still sat on the lampstand. He laughed at Tara's jokes. And went home and cried, quietly, so that Oz wouldn't hear and come in and try to help again.
Eight. He threw up lunch after a bleached-out punk in black leather came in to drop off a roll of film. Wiped his mouth and told himself to GROW. UP.
Nine. This long into it, he'd usually stopped hurting so much, in the past. Nope. Not this time.
Day ten was a Saturday, and he spent it in bed.
*Spike. Come back. Oh, please....*