The 2005 Spander Christmas Album
Xander looked up from where he was seated on the floor, threading the last in a series of popcorn string decorations. It was the forth Christmas Willow and he had spent in this house, the last two with David, and it had become a tradition to string the tree with popcorn only a few days before Christmas Eve. He couldn’t remember how or who had started it.
“Looking good guys, excellent hanging of the popcorn.”
“Thanks, Xander,” one of the two young boys smiled over at him, then scowled at his friend, Charlie, who’d thrown a loose piece of their decoration at him, “You’re going down!”
“Not near the tree, he’s not, David,” Xander was ignored as the boy grappled his opponent with a cry, locking his arm around head and neck, “If you’re planning on that, go out. Willow will be sad if you hurt the tree.” That was low, but worked, as David immediately tried to haul his catch away.
Xander looked around and sighed at the sight of the mess he was left with. He was stuck with cleanup duty again.
He was getting to his feet when the doorbell rang; he straightened up and wondered if Willow had forgotten her keys on her rush out the door. He heard the semi-outraged cry as David unceremoniously dropped Charlie and opened the door in the front hallway. He listened to David question the visitor on who he was, and was moving to intercept when David came back in the room,
“Strange guy at the door, says he’s a friend of yours. I told
him to come in.”
Xander shot David an exasperated and worried look, “You know how dangerous that is!” He tapered off when the visitor appeared behind David and took the liberty of moving around him to give Xander an unimpeded view. Xander knew his mouth had dropped open in shock. He swore the room suddenly contracted and expanded.
In the course of the time it took Spike to acknowledge him with an equally breathless, “Xander,” and cover the distance between them, Xander relived all the pain and confusion of the past three years and found himself completely ignoring it all in favour of letting Spike stop in front of him, wrap an arm around his back and almost but not quite press his entire body up against the length of Xander’s.
As Xander blinked in stunned surprise, he found his own arm around Spike holding just as tightly, closing the gap between them, his other hand being held by Spike’s own as it gripped at the back of the lounge where it had obviously sought purchase to help keep him upright and not on the floor.
“Xan,” it was almost a whisper, and it accompanied the softness of kisses, right on his mouth. Xander’s breath hitched and every part of his body decided right then and there, as Spike slowly kissed him, that being hard against Spike while melting, was entirely possible and he should give it a go.
“Wow, Xander, I didn’t know you were gay,” as the kiss ended, and Xander blinked again, he followed Spike’s somewhat bemused glance over at David, who was still standing near the living room entranceway, Charlie behind him with an equally surprised and somewhat amused look on his face.
Xander raised his eyebrows at David, and dared a rather close look at Spike, who was looking back at him, and smiling the little smile that crooked the side of his mouth up. The one that Xander had decided a while back was quite sweet, “It was something I was thinking about a few years ago. But it became a moot point,” so close to Spike, it was impossible to miss the guilt that swept across his face.
“Boys, kitchen. Now.”
Xander turned his head, “Do it,” David glared, and Xander swore he was about to pout, when Charlie pulled him by the elbow with enough force to make him step backwards. With a last pleading look, which Xander shot down, both boys left. Xander knew well from past experience, that neither of them were going to end up in the kitchen and instead were going to try to eavesdrop.
He looked back at Spike, whose arm was still around him and hand still holding his on the top of the lounge. Xander hadn’t relinquished his hold on Spike either.
Xander managed to slip his hand out from under Spike’s. He punched Spike’s left shoulder,
“Don’t do that again.”
Spike continued to stare, “What, Love?” Honest confusion and Xander closed his eye, at the simple but effective endearment that Spike had apparently no qualms about using.
“Leave. Not again. Don’t you fucking dare.”
Spike seemed to relax into Xander’s embrace that little bit more at Xander’s words, “No. Promise, Xan.”
“Where the hell were you?”
There should have been more hitting, or yelling, or the throwing of Willow’s things at Spike’s head, while this was happening. That’s the way it had always played out in Xander’s mind, all those years he’d thought about why Spike had run away. But in his mind, he’d never entertained the idea Spike would be his utmost sneakiest and kiss him before he could get up a righteous anger.
Now all Xander could manage was a deep hurt, while his body continued to ignore how his heart felt, and just enjoyed being held by Spike. Sneaky bastard for kissing him.
“Nowhere I wanted to be, trust me, Xander.”
“Three years, you bastard!”
Spike raised his hand from the lounge and cupped Xander’s cheek in a move that had Xander wanting to close his eye and just feel.
“Wanted to be here. Wanted to be with you,” there was a kiss to his jaw and Xander realised he had closed his eye. Another kiss and fingers stroked along the stubble on his jaw. He opened his eye and really looked at Spike. Saw the fatigue, the worry, the stress and the hurt, mirror images of his own.
“You’ve grown up,” Spike said with a bit of wonder.
“So have you, in a ‘haven’t aged a single day’, kind of way.”
He didn’t think it possible to pull Spike closer than he was, but the next kiss proved him wrong. They stood for a few seconds, the kiss heating up until Spike took Xander’s encouraging moans to heart, and managed to gently tip him over the back of the lounge, and manoeuvrer them until Xander was lying lengthways along the cushions.
Spike broke the kiss long enough to stare down at Xander, “Xan. Love,” he kissed him again and pressed his weight down on Xander.
“I didn’t know Xander was gay, Mom!”
“Neither did I. Though I had to admit, I’d wondered.”
Xander was sure he’d heard a similar exclamation not too long ago, then remembered where he was and that David and his friend were in the house, and that he really shouldn’t be kissing Spike like he was, while minding them.
He pulled away from Spike and they both looked up, into the face of his oldest friend. Willow was home. Looking at him lying on the lounge in the middle of a pretty heated make-out session with the vampire they were all beginning to think they would never see again.
He grimaced, “Hey, Wills,” and waited for the yelling to begin.
“I’d ask to explain why you thought this was okay behaviour in front of the kids, Xan,” Willow’s eyes flicked to Spike. Xander couldn’t see his face, the way it was turned upwards, but Willow smiled at the ‘Red’ that was given as greeting,
“But considering whom it’s with, I can understand. Still in serious big brownie point loss here, but, it’s almost Christmas, so, a little cheer can be forgiven.”
Willow left Xander’s field of sight, still talking, as, Xander assumed, she walked out of the room, “I’m keeping the boys upstairs for fifteen minutes, no longer. When we come down we’re all having chocolate milk, which you shall both be joining us for. Great job with the popcorn,”
Xander was listening but he couldn’t help run his hands up and down Spike’s arms, and touching fingertips over his face, wanting to pull him into another kiss, as he waited. Spike looked equally fixated. When he thought Willow had left, Xander had to smile into the kiss when Willow’s voice added, “By the way, Hi, Spike. I’m glad you’re home.”
Fifteen minutes was not enough time to do anything that was going to relieve Xander’s growing need to get off with Spike in the messiest and most satisfying way.
“Fifteen minutes! Girl’s got no idea!” Spike obviously felt the same.
There was a sense of surrealism as Spike watched hot chocolate being handed around. He watched Red and Xander and the two boys interact and felt the loss of his three years more keenly than he’d felt them in the two days since he’d been back.
He remained a silent partner, and kept his eyes on Xander, the reason he was here. For the most part, Xander kept his eye on Spike. Giving Spike hope that even the snogging on the couch hadn’t.
Soon, the boys were sent off to bed and Spike straightened his shoulders, knowing he was in a fair amount of trouble.
“Mum?” he got in first and internally cheered the blush that stained Willow’s cheeks and eased the daggers she’d been sending with her eyes as soon as the boys were gone. He’d guessed that Willow wouldn’t be able to resist talking about the boy she obviously adored, and who returned the affection.
“Yeah. Adoption. David was a friend’s nephew who’s been living with us for the past two years. Long sad story, but luckily for all of us, it comes with a happy ending. The legal confirmation just came though the other week.”
“Best Christmas present,” Xander chimed in and Spike wanted
to touch his face and feel that smile of proud love directed at him.
“I really want to ask you all sorts of things, Spike.”
“And I really want to smack you. You too, Xander, because it’s obvious now that I’ve seen what I saw, why you were acting like your dog had died when Spike left. Neither of you said anything!”
Spike was interested in how Xander was going to explain the situation.
“Wills, there wasn’t actually anything to tell. We,” Xander shot Spike a look, “were still getting ourselves sorted, I guess.”
“What he said,” Spike caught Xander’s eye and stayed there, hoping what he wanted to say was being portrayed openly enough, and not enjoying, but allowing for expedience, the fact that Willow was more than likely reading him like an open book, at the same time.
“I’m going to check on David and Charlie, they’ve probably managed to stage a toothpaste war or something. Then, I’m going to bed. There’s time tomorrow to grill you, Spike. And tonight, I think that honour should go to Xander,” she gave Xander a kiss that Spike wanted to replace with a more intimate one.
Willow walked past Spike on her way upstairs. She grabbed him in a tight squeeze, her lightweight frame belying the force of the pressure around his waist. It felt right to hug her back, and Spike hoped again that she was correct in her first greeting and that he was indeed, home. He watched Xander over Willow’s head, the entire time.
It was an excuse, Xander knew it, knew Spike knew it, and was all the more nervous when Spike let it slide and even helped him in silence, as they started to clean up the kernels of un-popped corn and the tinsel that managed to materialise on everything after being placed on the tree three weeks before.
Everything was dropped in a bowl and then they were finished, the silence growing as they stood there. Neither one sure about things now that there was space between them.
Xander spotted a missed piece of corn and bent down to pick it up. At the same time, Spike moved forward, “Xander, I think,”
Xander stood up quickly, and they collided. There was a crunching sound and Xander swayed back, “GOD!” He put a hand up to his nose as he swayed backwards, his sight going on him as his face was swamped in pain. Spike caught him and as blood dripped through his fingers, he felt himself being lowered to the floor to rest against the wall.
“Let me have a look, okay?” Xander allowed his sticky hand to be held as his focus came back. He watched Spike crouched down with him, looking at his nose, a frown and resigned distress showing plainly on his face. He touched the throbbing skin and Xander cried out. Spike sat.
“Willow still know that bone mending spell? You’ve got a broken nose.”
“Swell.” Talking pulled his muscles and hurt his face even more. He didn’t think he’d ever had a broken nose before.
“That’s exactly what it will do. Both your eye sockets will be swollen like rotten fruit, come tomorrow.”
Through pain and a steadily bleeding nose, Xander tried to display his disgust at Spike’s analogy. It must have worked because Spike looked contrite and edged forward until his crossed legs were touching Xander’s own. Hands came out to rest on knees, and thumbs started a sweeping motion that under less painful situations would have worked towards Xander wanting more skin and less clothes.
“Let me set the bone?” Xander opened his eye wide, “Know what to do, I’ll be quick.” Xander hesitated. Having a bone set hurt. “Better than getting it done at the hospital.” Xander closed his eye in defeat, and with a little nausea.
Xander thought that Spike would say something more, try to calm him down a bit before getting on with the procedure, but there were fingers on his face, touching a nose that felt like it had expanded to fit the space between his ears, and then there was a pressure that had him yelling, and then more pressure and a crack that he felt right to the back of his head.
When he came too, he was being cradled in Spike’s arms, and wanted to enjoy that, but the persistent thubbing and rapid swelling that was making his eye close up, wouldn’t let him.
“Back with me?”
Xander murmured and felt Spike chuckle against him, “Not funny,” he breathed.
“Not that. Excuse the humour, Xan.”
Nothing else was forthcoming so Xander again roused himself, “What?”
“The Godawful shirt you’re wearing is covered in blood. It’s ruined.” Xander again failed to see the humour. Spike, seemingly picked up on this, “You’re wearing a shirt with a giant Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer face on it. It is now covered in your blood, from your own red nose.”
“’Spose not. Still, at least the shirt’s a loss. Don’t go to sleep, Xander. We need to get Willow to do her magic mojo and check you for a concussion,” there was a pause as Spike carefully rearranged Xander in his arms without jostling him, “Should get you a little cleaned up though.” There was a hushed tone to Spike’s voice that made Xander open his eye as much as he could and he managed, with a little pain, to turn his head and look at him. Spike was staring at Xander’s mouth with a look on his face that made Xander shiver.
“You could let me lick you,” Spike’s eyes opened wide as if he’d just realised what had come out of his mouth. His body seemed to fight between letting Xander go and holding him tighter. Xander realised he was waiting to be shot down, maybe even violently.
“That’s seriously gross, Spike.”
“Only if you take it in a certain context,” Spike seemed determined now and Xander didn’t have the heart to stop him, “If it’s like this,” Spike slouched a little, so Xander didn’t have to tilt his head, “it’s not so gross.”
Spike moved in and with careful lips and careful tongue gently mouthed him. With his eye closed, the pounding in his head was worse, but there were Spike lips and when he opened his mouth, sweeps of Spike’s tongue along his, and that felt more than nice, more than good. It soothed and made Xander feel light-headed and happy. There were licks along his upper lip and under his nose, which, while strange and still a bit yucky when he thought about why he was being licked there, didn’t make him want to move away, or want to make Spike stop. He kissed back with minimal movement, slow curls of his tongue against Spike’s when it slipped inside his mouth, and he was moaning, and Spike was still so gentle. Caresses against the side of his face with cold hands that felt wonderful against his hot skin.
When Spike pulled back, Xander’s head swayed in his hands. Xander gazed at Spike and smiled, feeling a little drunk. He was picked up and placed on his feet and together they got him up the stairs. Minutes later, an exasperated Willow was placing glowing hands across his nose and the pain was flowing away, although his nose would remain tender for another day. He was cleared of concussion with another spell. Tomorrow he would be given a compress for the swelling that she couldn’t fully take away.
“You won’t be going carolling tomorrow with Buffy, Dawn and Peter. Standing up for that long, even a day after this spell, is invitation for keeling right over. David will be disappointed.”
“Thanks, Willow. I need the guilt trip.”
Able to walk on his own now, Xander had Spike follow him into the guest bedroom after he’d cleaned up in the bathroom.
“Big bed for a guest room,” was the comment as Spike eyed the bed. True, it was slightly too big for the room it was in, but Xander didn’t care.
“It’s unofficially my room. I had a smaller bed until about a week ago. I spend so much time here, I thought I’d go with a bit of luxury.”
They looked at each other, Spike with undisguised interest. Xander remembered he’d taken off his ruined shirt in the bathroom and was standing there bare-chested.
With minimal outward fuss, but with heart hammering, Xander allowed Spike to climb into bed with him. As soon as he felt Spike spoon up against him, he started talking even as he settled back into Spike,
“Peter is Dawn’s boyfriend,”
“I was wondering. Is he any good for her?” Spike rubbed his face against the back of Xander’s neck, making the short hairs stand up as he breathed in.
“I don’t know; I’ve never met him. You can help me intimidate him as we find out.” Spike’s hand splayed itself across Xander’s chest,
“Don’t know about that, Love. Three years. May have lost the rights.”
“You’d be surprised what can be forgiven, Spike. You’ve just got to ask.”
“Is that all I have to do?” Spike’s voice was soft. Xander wanted to turn to face him, but the hand on his chest had tightened.
“If the blood-nose kiss we shared down stars didn’t tell you anything Spike, I will tell you now. You are forgiven,” the hand helped turn him this time, and even with a newly healed nose, Xander did not complain when the kiss they shared was fierce and all teeth.
Even with Willow’s compress of herbs across his face for most of the day, and Spike’s mouth on other parts of him as he rested in bed, with strict instructions placed on David and Charlie by Willow, not to disturb Xander’s rest, his face still managed to feel tighter than a drum, even if the rest of him felt as flexible as a wet piece of pasta. It was an odd combination.
Meeting Peter and seeing Spike say ‘hello’ to Buffy and Dawn went much like Xander had expected.
He stood back and watched Spike be squealed at, jumped on, hugged and generally forgiven for the past three years, in the score of a few minutes. He watched Spike take this seemingly in his stead, but could see the moisture that filled his eyes when Dawn simply slapped him, much as Xander had done, and hugged him stupid, after calling him such. Buffy’s was a more subdued but equally pleased response.
Xander ignored the stretch of already over-tight skin and puffy eyes, and couldn’t help but grin.
His amusement knew no bounds when he was introduced to Peter, a tall dark haired, somewhat shy young man. He seemed a bit taken aback with the black and purple bruising, accompanying the eye patch as Xander stepped forward, introduced himself, and pumped his hand in an overly extravagant fashion. He knew he was coming off as a bit of a loon, but the look of total embarrassment on Dawn’s face and the smirk on Spike’s egged him on. It was even more amusing when Peter was introduced to Spike. As it turned out, Peter was from Sunnydale and had been in the giant exodus. He’d seen his share of weird and knew Spike was a vampire. Xander upped his estimate of him when he bravely shook Spike’s hand. It was Xander’s turn to smirk when Peter rubbed his hand after Spike let it go.
Spike caught Xander’s chuckle and sidled over to him, “Doesn’t seem too bad a sort,” they both watched Dawn and Buffy get hugs from David as Charlie stood nearby.
“No. From Sunnydale. That could be a bonus.”
“Or a hindrance. No telling what he’s picked up. Place was like a stain.”
“That is my hometown you’re talking about, you know,” they’d moved closer while talking and had stopped watching the others. A quiet, ‘Hah!’ had them turning to see Dawn with a triumphant look on her face,
“Now, listen you two. You will stop your campaign against Peter right now.”
“What campaign?” “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t give me that. Leave off, or I’ll start my own against you both. You’re together and I’ll use that in ways you don’t want to know. I like this guy, okay? Give me a chance to spend some time with him before you scare him away.”
“Okay, Dawnie.” “Fine.”
Dawn snorted and rolled her eyes, but smiled at them as she took Peter’s arm as they followed Buffy and Willow into the next room. Xander looked at Spike,
“If Dawn hadn’t come from a family where strong cluey women were the rule, not the exception, and she hadn’t spent so much of her youth hanging around you, I’d wonder how she deduced we were together just from that.”
Spike kissed him, “Thanks for the compliment.”
There was such a thing as too much Christmas Cheer, and Xander found the silence when everyone had bundled up and left out the door into a foggy evening, a blessed relief.
“Head hurting still?” Spike came up and brushed a hand through Xander’s hair in concern, pushing the hair off his forehead.
“Bed, then?” It was with a definite gleam that Spike said those words, and Xander laughed.
In bed, with the only thing between them a sliver of air as they moved, Xander felt bold enough to ask his question,
“Where were you?”
“I was stuck in another dimension.”
When Xander could speak through the plain horror such a statement simply spoken had evoked in him, he asked, “Are you okay?” There were so many things to ask that came to mind, but this was the most important.
“Sure. I’m back now, aren’t I?”
“Three years, Spike! No one, not even you, would have gone through that and not have some kind of issue.”
Spike looked at him sharply, “Is that what you think this is? An issue? For me it was only about three months. No big deal.”
“I don’t think we’re an issue. An item, sure. Three months.” Xander thought, “So, you go away and it seems like it’s not that long but when you get back, everyone’s had three years you haven’t been a part of. No wonder you said I’d gotten older. That must have been quite a shock.”
“Not a bad kind.” Spike’s smile was rueful, as was Xander’s replying one,
“Did Angel know? Of course he did. He was the reason you left that night,” Xander felt an old hatred bubble up, tempered with a new anger, “I asked him where you were and he had the nerve to look me in the face and say he didn’t know.”
“Don’t blame him,” Xander frowned at Spike’s defence, “I asked him not to tell you in case I got stuck. We knew there was a chance, and I thought it would be easier on you if you thought I was just off somewhere here, not in another dimension. I didn’t want you worrying. You went up to LA and spoke to him face to face?”
Xander ignored Spike’s pleased question, “You thought I wouldn’t worry? You’re an idiot! We were just getting somewhere! We’d just spent the most enlightening night of my life together and the next one, you’re off to see the guy you’ve actively hated for more years than you can remember, and then you’re gone, and you thought I wouldn’t worry? I had Willow put a highly dangerous spell on Angel to make sure he was telling the truth when I asked if he’d killed you!”
“Why didn’t you ask him if he knew where I was, while he was under the spell?”
“Because its set-up meant I could only ask one question.”
“Red risked her safety for me.”
“I asked her,” Xander would not shy away from the enormous responsibility that came with what he’d done that day.
Spike was silent for a long time. Xander was going to let him go, but Spike had shifted closer.
“I didn’t know.”
“For the longest time, I didn’t know. What it was between us.”
“Pleased do not tell me you jumped into a portal because you thought sex between us meant nothing.”
“I wasn’t sure.”
“Then be sure, now, dammit! There’s another thing you don’t get to do. You don’t get to lie to me. Ever again.”
“I’m a vampire, Xan. Lying comes with the territory.”
“Not about the big things, Spike. Stuff like that. And you don’t get others to lie about those things for you either. Otherwise this ends right now,” at Spike’s continued silence, Xander felt a bit panicky but pushed,
“Not ever again.”
“No. Not ever again. I promise you that, Xander.”
“What do you want, Spike?” the curious gaze that held him, turned into one of speculation, “Tell me.”
Spike shifted out of Xander’s hold and laid on his back, limbs open and inviting, “I want to lie here, and have you fuck me. Is that okay?” There was such a strange mix of strength and vulnerability in what Xander saw as he looked at Spike, that his throat closed up and he could only nod, before moving over to Spike and kissing along his shoulder,
“Yes. I’ll fuck you.”
“It’s Christmas Eve in two hours,” Xander lifted his head from where it lay on Spike’s back, looking over at the clock on the table. He moved off and out of Spike and both groaned at the feeling, “Do you think the others heard us?” They turned over and lay on the bed,
“Don’t care. Besides, who do you think put the lube in your bedside table?”
“Sometimes Willow scares me.”
“Could have been the Bit. She’s the one with the boyfriend.”
“Images I do not need in my head!”
“Merry Christmas, Xander.”
“Merry almost Christmas, Spike. Spike?”
“At the risk of being overly sentimental and girly, I’m just going to say, that this is shaping up to be the best Christmas ever.”
“Broken nose, included?”
“And the moment’s gone.”