Xander was. . . hugging him. Trying not to shift nervously, Spike wondered if he’d ever been hugged before. He’d hugged other people—his sister, his mother, Drusilla. Dawn, sometimes, especially early one summer when the world stopped for a while. But he couldn’t remember a time when someone had actively held him.
“You’re thinking too hard,” Xander murmured. “One might even say brooding.”
“Thought I told you not to compare me to Soulboy down south.” The words felt pre-programmed in his mouth. This is a good thing, bein’ held. Innit?
“Would I do that?” Xander answered easily, lifting his chin to tuck Spike’s head underneath it.
Confused at this new position, Spike obligingly turned his head so it rested flat along Xander’s shoulder. “Liar,” he murmured, his lips brushing against the slightly rough skin of Xander’s neck, right below where he shaved.
Not a kiss, Spike thought. Just. . . tastin’ him, is all.
Xander shivered when he spoke, but didn’t respond. Maybe held him a little closer.
“Can let me go,” he said eventually. More shivering, but Spike didn’t want to move away. Stubble whisked along sensitive skin, prickly incentives.
“Sure. Because, you know, you’re struggling and complaining so much.”
The amusement should have bothered him. Being laughed at was something William had had enough of, the demon always quick to take offense. But it was hard when a warm, strong chest accepted his weight without comment. When the amusement was so clearly not an insult and more like a joke to be shared.
“You’re good at this,” Xander said quietly. “Cuddling. Anya was, too. She’s always so bossy you’d never think so, but. . . she liked it.”
“Come on, luv, don’t you fancy a cuddle after? You’re so warm and soft. Let me just get the blankets from the bed and we’ll—”
“Don’t touch me, Spike. Ever.”
The memory was a shock of ice-water. Any attempts to treat Buffy like a lover—tucking a strand of hair behind her ear or even just kissing her palm—had been met with freezing dismissal. Spike pulled away, surprised that Xander let him, grabbing his clothes and heading into the bedroom to get changed.
He wasn’t sure he could handle Xander trying to offer him those same things.
Dressed, Spike stood in the center of Xander’s bedroom at a loss. He should be leaving. The sun was down, or near enough, and he’d repeatedly told himself that was all he was waiting for. That once it was dark enough, he’d slip back into his crypt and—and he’d do something. He’d figure out what, later.
Balls. I am brooding.
The quiet knock made him start. “You okay?” Xander asked without coming inside.
“What am I, one of your sodding women? I’m fine.” Right. Because angry mood-swings were a bang-up way to prove his masculinity.
“O-kay. Right. Wanna explain how me having a good memory with Anya makes you wig?” Pushing open the door, Xander leaned against the frame with his arms crossed comfortably.
A year ago, he would have responded with a quip or a snarl. Anything to deflect the question. Now. . . while the demon raged and the soul quietly encouraged him, Spike found himself telling the truth. “Just remembering. Buffy.”
“What else am I not allowed to call you, then? You really want me to yell out ‘Slayer’ when I’m comin’ inside you? Or is that how you get your kicks, after all? Listening to the Big Bad vampire heel like a good doggy.”
“Big bad? You so wish.”
“Ah. Right.” Oh, look, I’ve made the boy uncomfortable. Mildly disturbing, that—Xander had been oddly calm the whole day, despite several unnerving revelations.
“I. . . You know what?” Xander continued in a rush. “I’m hungry. I think I’m gonna make myself dinner. You want something?” He waited for maybe an entire second before disappearing into the kitchen.
The room smelled like Xander and just a little bit like Spike. The sun was literally moments from setting and he could leave at any time.
He went to the kitchen.
There was a hunk of raw meat on the counter, two large patties on a plate next to it. Xander was shaping a third when he came in. “Cooking was pretty much Anya’s forte, but I’m slowly mastering the art of the Foreman Grill. Really, really dead burgers sound good?”
Human food. Not blood, which Xander had so tactfully not mentioned, but normal, human food. Spike blinked, trying to remember the last time he’d had human food, other than the junk from before. He was halfway through his one attempt to actually give Buffy something edible when he decided that reliving that memory was probably a bad idea.
“Sure,” he said aloud. “Sounds good.”
Xander’s grin made him feel warm.
They worked together companionably, chatting about the game while meat was cooked, a salad made—Spike was a deft hand with a knife, preening a little under Xander’s appreciative gaze—and buns toasted nicely. It was all very domestic. Spike couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it.
Half-way through eating burgers that tasted better than they probably should have, Xander blinked and sat up straight. “Spike? How’d we get home last night? Cause I’m pretty sure I was doing a great impression of a drunk.”
A dr—oh. Meaning dear old Dad, then. “Bike. Motorcycle,” he clarified when Xander just looked more confused. “You passed out. I, uh, parked it ’round the back. Just leaned it against the wall by the dumpster, didn’t want to take anyone’s spot.” The soul sometimes had the oddest notions about propriety.
Brow still furrowed with confusion, Xander nodded agreeably enough. “Which means my car is still out there, probably becoming a shiny new home for some drunk. Crap.”
“You drove?” Knowing full well that he was going to bury himself in a case of bottles? Spike could feel his eyebrows climbing unto his hair while his eyes widened in that ridiculously effeminate expression he couldn’t ever control. Of all the moronic, bloody stupid— “Are you totally insane?”
Xander just looked at him. Blinked a little. “Please, please tell me that’s your soul talking,” he said eventually.
Well, yes, partially. Which he didn’t have to tell this frighteningly perceptive version of Xander. Instead, he snatched up a pickle spear to use as a pointer; if he didn’t have something in his hands, he was afraid he was going to do something sentimental like grab at Xander, just to reassure himself that the human was still there. And William had outgrown that kind of thing long before he’d met up with Drusilla. Really. “D’you know how many vamps play ‘suck the drunk’?” he sneered. “Wait for some poor bastard to drive his car over the rail an’ when he’s passed out from pain and drink, they come up and off him? Christ, pet, you coulda been somebody’s dinner!”
Xander grabbed the pickle and bit it, although he did have the grace to look sheepish. “I had stakes with me!” he protested. “And people know I’m a friend of the Slayer.”
“And you think that makes you safer?” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this upset for someone else. “Xan, that was a sodding demon bar. Friends of the Slayer come with their own targets painted on their bloody backs! And do you have any idea how biteable you look?”
Furious and oddly frightened, Spike pushed away from the table and out of the room. He hadn’t meant to say that. Didn’t understand why he’d even been thinking it then. But he could see it played out so clearly. Xander, passed out on the bar. Something gets close enough to get a hint of the Slayer-scent that hangs all-bloody- over him. Something who’s favorite fledge got staked up Sunnydale way, or maybe it just wants to prove how big an’ bad it is, or maybe just fucking hungry. An’ with him still passed out—
Xander tasted like hamburger and ranch dressing and the caramelized taste of solace.
Warm hands cupped around his waist, pulling him in close while the breath no vampire needed was sucked out of his lungs. Distantly, he wondered if kissing had ever been like this. Soft and gentle and just this side of chaste. Fully hard in his jeans, but with no desire to do anything about it. Just enjoying the feeling of anticipation and Xander’s mouth on his.
“Hey. I’m fine. You got me home, safe and sound. See?”
“Don’t do it again.” He wished he could blame it all on the soul, but it was never that simple. He’d always been a pathetic ponce when it came to those who—whatever the hell Xander was to him. A friend, maybe. But the thought of him getting hurt. . . “Just don’t.”
“You know, I think I’m outgrowing my bar-hopping phase. I mean, really, what’s to do there, other than get completely drunk and your pockets picked when you pass out?” Stepping back slowly, Xander offered a small grin. “Can we just go get my car first? Before it becomes a shiny new box under a bridge.”
“Do you even have bridges in Sunnydale?” The bantering was automatic, something Xander had to have known. Just like he’d known when to back off, before. And when to press. He’s. . . taking care of me, Spike realized slowly. The way he takes care of the girls.
It was just a touch unnerving.
“Well, we have overpasses. . . somewhere. Okay, no bridge, but come on! Do you know how long it takes to get the smell of vomit out of upholstery? And every time we get covered in demon-goop it’s always ‘Xander, can we have a ride back home?’. I’m surprised my car doesn’t smell like ass. Although, that might be a good way keep homeless guys out of it. Think I could market that? Car-alarms not good enough for you, try this handy bottle of DemonName blood! Guaranteed to keep car thieves and other unsavory types at least twenty feet away, comes complete with a free pair of nose-plugs for the driver!”
He’d never noticed how effective Xander’s babbling was. A clever, self-effacing way to usher them over the rough spot and out the door. Usually, he’d just wanted the boy to shut up.
Sunnydale was always quiet in the summer. The humidity of the day evaporated at sundown, creating what should have been the perfect hunting—but it wasn’t. The occasional vamp came out for a bite, but most of them were just gone. Spike didn’t know where they went and had never cared to look.
They walked together easily, Xander occasionally making a random comment but letting it die out before it became a full-fledged conversation. Talking wasn’t necessary, just habitual. Spike thought idly about nicking a pack of cigarettes—ignoring both the turned up nose and the rumbled approval when he didn’t. He didn’t need monitors anymore.
It took nearly an hour to reach the bar from last night, which explained why Xander had wanted to drive there, at least. The car was sitting right where it’d been parked, seemingly no worse for wear.
“My baby,” Xander crooned when they came up to it. “Are you okay, baby?” he asked, draping one arm over the roof for an odd, side-ways hug. “I’m so sorry I left you here.”
“I’m bloody well not,” Spike groused. The walk had calmed him, but he was still annoyed that Xander had done something so—so common. Scoobies weren’t supposed to go that way, dammit. They had to stick around for the big fights. “How’d your ‘baby’ feel if you wrapped it ’round a damned tree?”
“Gasp! You wound me!” Did he actually say ‘gasp’? “How can you say such things in the presence of my brand new Honda Accord?”
It took a raised eyebrow for Spike to realize he was being teased. “You’re bonkers,” he answered, grinning. “Lucky for you I’m good with bonkers. Come on, then, pet,” he continued in the low voice that had always worked with Dru. “I’ll drive you home, take right good care of you.”
The sudden wall of pheromones caught him completely off guard. The hell? Too surprised to think of an answer, Spike just stood there, staring. Me acting like a pathetic tosser turns him on?
This time, Xander’s babble was even faster.
“Movie?” he asked with a nervous laugh. “I think something suitably manly is playing down at the Rex. Wanna watch shit get blown up? Always good for a laugh. . .or we could patrol. If we do it fast we probably won’t run into Buffy or Dawn. Did you know that she’s patrolling now? Usually with Buffy, but I think she sneaks out later. I’ve caught her a couple times by herself and she’s always yelling at me to come over and have dinner with her and Buffy before I can yell at her for being in the cemetery by herself. . .”
Spike allowed himself to be herded into the car, not commenting one way or the other. Could that really be it? He’s not askin’ for it, been careful about that. But that can’t be all; there’s always a string somewhere.
When the car stopped, they were less than a hundred yards from the crypt he’d picked out for himself. The one with the dirt floor, hard coffin-bed, and thick cobwebs. The one he’d chosen as a form of penance.
Except Xander didn’t seem to think he needed that.
Opening the trunk revealed a small arsenal. Xander made a point of picking up a long dagger for himself, handing over a host of stakes Spike immediately stashed in various places around his body. Times like this, he missed the duster with all the pockets and catches he’d sewn in the lining.
He wasn’t sure he wanted it back, though.
Armed, the two men headed into the first of four cemeteries. Patrolling felt normal, natural. Something old and familiar and good. There was no set pattern they followed, just wandering past headstones and small tombs, idly reading epitaphs they’d long ago memorized.
They staked only three vampires.
It occurred to him that for Xander, no meant no. There was just red or green, no yellow to confuse the issue. Minds could be changed, of course, and he’d fight to change them—but the final answer was just that. Final.
Meaning for the first time since he could remember—the choice was his.
Soul and demon bickered uselessly while they circled back to the car.
Driving home was automatic, neither of them realizing their destination until a battered motorcycle gleamed in the headlights. “How’d you get that to Africa?”
“Boat.” After driving around most of the country, searching for any kind of information. Spending time with Dru gave him a few more contacts than usual, but rumors of his chip and helping the Slayer had closed a lot of doors. He was surprised the thing worked, actually. Weren’t a lot of roads in the desert. “Like to fly one day. See the world from top.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
Back in the apartment, Spike followed as Xander went into the kitchen and stared at the empty cupboard near the toaster. The one that used to hold a large assortment of bottles. Their dirty plates and dishes were stacked up in the sink, unwashed.
“You don’t want that.” There was more, if he needed to say it, but he hoped he wouldn’t have to.
“No. I don’t.” There was no guilt or shame in his voice, just a hint of wonder. “I. . . what do I do now?”
His choice, right? Usually, he didn’t have a choice. He’d fight for one, clawing his way through whatever he could, but it was never him that was chosen. And if, by some miracle, he was, there was always a catch. A price that rendered everything sour and dull.
But not this time. Maybe. Because Xander had told him clean slate and it felt like he meant it.
“What do you want to do?” Spike asked carefully.
“Dunno.” Closing the cupboard, he glanced at the sink and shuddered. “Maybe there’s another movie on?”
“Xander. What do you want?”
He didn’t let his voice drop. Hips staying straight underneath his shoulders, expression as neutral as he could make it. It was tempting to load the dice, had a hundred years and more of practicing just how to do it. Seducing Xander was easy.
When have I ever wanted somethin’ that was easy? Except Harmony.
“Huh? Spike, what are you—” Xander swallowed abruptly, eyes dilating. “I think you need to spell this out,” he said roughly. “I’m used to blunt. And I won’t play games.”
Neither would Spike, not anymore. “I want to be inside you, Xander,” he said calmly. “And I want you to want me to.”
The sound Xander made was wordless, but definitely not a negative. This time it was Spike who initiated the kiss, drawing Xander into it with gentle licks and nips. That weirdly elongated mouth turned full with friction and Spike knew he was pressing hard enough to bruise. Xander just slid a hand behind his head, pulling him hard enough that their teeth clacked together.
Not doing this again, neither. “Hey.” Pushing gently on Xander’s shoulders, it required pulling his head back to actually break the kiss. “We’ve all night, pet,” he said, stroking his thumbs along the collarbone.
“I want you,” Xander whispered, voice hungry.
“And you’ve got me.” Not even that much heat could hide nervous fear. “I want to make this good for you, Xan. You said you weren’t a virgin last night, but—”
That got Xander to stop trying to touch him and allow Spike to push them further apart. “Right, that,” he half-laughed, shame swarming up beside the fear. “Funny thing.” He flushed so darkly that Spike was afraid he’d pass out—particularly since most of his blood had long ago rushed south. “I’m not technically a virgin. I’m—” His lips moved, but no sound came out. Coughing once, he tried again. “Ahn—”
The nervous glance at the cutesy salt-and-pepper shakers on the table finally clued him in.
Right. ‘Ahn’ and her toys. “You have met Dru, yeah?” he asked with a small laugh, trying not to imagine the ex-demon all blunt and dominating while Xander took it like a well-trained puppy. Leaning in for another kiss, Spike didn’t let him go until he was sure the blush had faded. Then he started moving them towards the bedroom. “Gonna make this good,” he whispered between stumbling steps and scorching kisses. “Never gonna want that fake stuff again.”
Xander groaned, low and desperate in the back of his throat. “Please. I want. . .”
“Wanted a real one, did you? All hard and heavy inside you? Filling you the way plastic never could? Oh, yeah, pet, you’re gonna love this.” He stroked along damp sweats, feeling solid heat jump under his fingers. “Shhh, easy. Not too fast. Got time.”
Xander was panting again, hips jerking involuntarily as he was pushed onto the bed. “Not gonna last—I want—”
Kissing was better than talking, especially when Xander was saying silly things like that. It’d been a while since his last human male, true, but it wasn’t like he’d forgotten. And you didn’t last as long as he had without picking up a bag full of tricks.
When he pulled back, there wasn’t enough air between them for words—though the glazed eyes and kiss-bruised lips seemed to indicate thinking wasn’t really possible, either. It made Spike realize just how in control Xander had been last night, how careful he’d been to make sure that they were both enjoying it.
Odd, being the seducer again, when he’d been so adamant about avoiding it before. It didn’t matter that Xander was hardly aware of anything but the sucking kisses on his neck or the hands that stroked over nipples turned hard and aching. What mattered was Xander wanted this. The rumbling purr that shivered through his skin, the barest hint of menace as teeth closed hard—but never broke skin.
Watching him thrash in such total abandon, Spike could truly believe that Xander trusted him.
Shirts and pants were removed quickly, Spike keeping his jeans on for an added measure of support. This wasn’t about him getting his rocks off, no matter what Xander probably believe and he doubted vampiric control could stand up to the wanton picture Xander made on mussed blue sheets.
Curly black hair tickled his nose as he slowly made his way down Xander’s body. Didn’t spend nearly enough time on small brown nipples and he wondered if he’d have a chance at a repeat. Xander was incredibly sensitive there and Spike wondered if he could make him orgasm without ever touching Xander’s cock.
But that was for another time, if it ever happened. For now, Xander made a noise of confusion as he was rolled onto his stomach, spreading his legs instinctively. “Shh,” Spike soothed. “Trust me.”
The first drag of his tongue made Xander go very, very still. “Um, Spike? I don’t—”
Resting his chin on one very tense buttock, he kneaded at the other. “Want me to fuck you?” he asked bluntly.
“Then let me do it right.”
He waited until Xander nodded, laying his head down on folded arms. Sliding one hand underneath to tug and fondle Xander’s erection, he delicately licked from balls to back—chuckling when hips suddenly thrust back at his face. “See?” he leered with another long lick, circling around the tiny entrance. “Told you.”
The capitulating groan turned into a shout as Spike pushed his tongue inside.
Sweet, silken heat gripped him, making him throb alarmingly in his jeans. He stopped rocking his hips against the mattress with a mental slap. Xander, he reminded himself. This is about Xander. For all the earlier words about acceptance and desire, the tense muscles that tried to squeeze his tongue out of his mouth told him that Xander was extremely nervous. Nothing less than he’d expected, of course.
Fortunately, rimming was one of those things few men ever disliked.
His head was buried in a pillow, thick fabric doing little to stop the volume of his moans and cries. His hips were working helplessly, riding Spike’s tongue before driving forward into Spike’s obliging fist. Spike kept at him until he was on the edge of that mindless place, where the need for orgasm overrode the little things, like consideration for ones partner. All that mattered was coming and soon.
Timing was everything.
“That’s it,” Spike crooned, biting gently on his thigh. If he stretched, he could just reach the box he knew would be under the bed. Groping around for the catch with this right hand, he continued to squeeze and stroke Xander with the left. If he could just find that little tube. . .
Releasing Xander’s throbbing cock, he rammed his tongue in deep while squeezing hard around his balls.
Xander was apparently a screamer. His body jerked like he’d touched a live wire and for a moment, Spike thought he was going to stop breathing entirely. Then he made a noise like a sob, melting into the bed.
Spike quickly popped the top, slathered three fingers with strawberry-scented lube and pressed all of them into Xander’s extremely relaxed arse.
“Oh, my god!”
“Not moving—I’m not moving, Xander. Relax.” Not that it was possible to stay tense after that kind of orgasm, but lax, sated muscles were still doing their best to try. Stroking a sweaty back, Spike kept murmuring reassurances in a low voice. “Just get used to it, that’s all. You already know you like this. Just gotta get past this one bit. . . ”
“How many?” Xander croaked. “This is. . . bigger.”
“Three.” He glanced down to where his fingers disappeared into Xander’s body. It was incredibly erotic. “Just three.”
“Oh, god. . .” He waited until his breathing calmed before clarifying, “Anya could barely get two in.”
“Mm, so it was her who did it?” Spike asked, carefully spreading his fingers. “No little toys she strapped on?”
This time there was no blood left in his face to flush, but the shift in his body communicated embarrassment clearly enough. Also returning arousal. “Both,” he muttered quickly.
“Then it’s just been a while.” When his fingers spread more easily, he started moving them back and forth. Inhaling sharply, Xander pushed up onto his hands and knees to look between his legs.
“I’m hard again.” Something cracked through the amazement, riding on the edges. The near-constant moaning faded into the sounds of breathing.
A thousand responses, each more flippant than the last, flitted through his mind. None of them were appropriate. Leaning down to the center vertebrae, Spike concentrated on opening Xander up. His fingers were moving easily, now, his other hand free to trace the back of Xander’s balls and tickle his perineum.
“Ready?” he asked eventually. Sex was supposed to be a loud, messy affair, where both partners came so hard their brains dribbled out their ears. Buffy had always been quiet, hating when he talked even if it wasn’t dirty. An edge of desperation and loathing always filled that silence.
Without Xander’s moans and lust-fogged words, he wasn’t sure what he was thinking.
“This way’s easiest,” he said nervously. “You on your knees.” And he’d botched that up completely, the way Xander tensed. He hadn’t meant it that way. Faltering under the continued hush, he added, “Up to you, Xander. We’ll do whatever you want.”
Sighing, Xander pulled his body away from Spike. Vampires didn’t get goosebumps easily, but after being in such vivid heat, Spike could feel the wet skin on his fingers crawling in cold. With sure, deft movements, Xander pushed him down onto the bed, opened his jeans, pushed them down, and slathered his cock with more lube. Then he lay on his back, yanking Spike halfway on top before understanding dawned and Spike started to help.
Xander opening his legs and wrapping them around Spike’s naked waist was one of the most erotic things Spike had ever seen. Or maybe it was the way Xander’s big, warm hands grabbed his cock and lined it up.
Or maybe it was the way he gently stroked Spike’s face, the kindness in his eyes not eclipsed by lust. “I want you in me, Spike. Please?”
His hips moved without conscious command, slowly sinking halfway in. Xander gasped at the penetration, clutching his shoulders while his body reacted. “Wait,” Xander panted, pressing his forehead up to Spike’s.
Hot breath like Brazilian winds on his face, the moisture beading on his skin in place of sweat. Wet heat, like velvet lava, wrapped around him so that every nerve sung. Pressure so intense it was nearly crushing, molding around him.
He couldn’t have moved if Xander begged him to.
The first coupling with Buffy had been as much triumph and hate as it had been physical sensation. It had taken multiple occurrences before the poet that had never truly gone away attempted to translate the feel of being inside Buffy into paltry, halting stanza.
There were no words for this.
Xander felt. . . Xander felt good. There was no emotional baggage to mar the perfect feel of flesh surrounding him. No need to perform or pretend. There was just Xander.
Then Xander was moving, trying to get more of him inside. Forcing himself under tight control, Spike eased forward until he was as deep as he could go. Xander gave a broken gasp, eyes opened wide. “Never—never felt like this.”
Spike wanted to agree but couldn’t figure out how to inhale enough air to speak.
There was no more talking after that. Nothing but the sound of harsh, panting breaths and the sound of moving flesh disturbed them. The pace was measured and slow. No hurry in their movements, no urgency as Xander rocked up and Spike thrust down. Just the feel of that tight heat stretched wide.
Spike never knew how long it lasted. Probably hours, but it could have been minutes. It didn’t matter. Xander’s gasp told him when he’d found the right angle and he concentrated on hitting that spot again and again and again. . . Until the perfect moment when the body beneath him was trembling and it was time to wrap his hand around Xander’s erection. Swipe a thumb over the wet head, massaging the shaft with soft, gentle rhythm. And Xander came.
When his body finally stilled, Spike was still hard within him.
“Hey. Moron.” Voice almost completely gone, Xander’s lips quirked slightly on one side, eyes glowing in the darkness. “You were supposed to enjoy this.”
“So how come you didn’t—” The smile turned wicked, muscles that had to have been sore clamping down with punishing force.
When the white cleared, Xander was a warm, heavy weight in his arms. Tilting his head enough to see his face, Spike traced the small smile there. The relaxed expression. That he’d put that there.
Closing his eyes, he wondered if this was how it was when Angel lost his soul.
TO BE CONTINUED...