Xander was missing, and Spike didn’t know how long he’d been gone. He left for work that morning, and never returned home. At first, Spike thought he was running late, so didn’t consider notifying the Scoobies until it was an hour past sunset and Xander had neither arrived back at the apartment, nor called to let Spike know he’d be late.

When Xander still wasn’t home, Spike called the Magic Box to see if he’d stopped there after work because he was running late, and somehow expected Spike to know to meet him there. Probably through telepathy, the vampire thought uncharitably. He hoped he was there. He’d have to punish the boy for not calling, and making him, the Big Bad, worry; but he’d breathe, figuratively, of course, a huge sigh of relief once he knew Xander was all right.

Giles took the call and informed Spike that Xander had in fact *not* shown up there; nor had he called in. Spike disconnected with a growl and headed out. He was going to stop by the construction site to see if they were still working, by some chance. Xander had told him once that if there was a swiftly approaching deadline, they’d work at night under heavy lights to meet it. He didn’t remember Xander mentioning anything about delays on this project–and surely he could be forgiven for not being able to listen to Xander all the time, he got so distracted when he was naked–but he couldn’t think of anywhere else the boy could be. If he wasn’t there, that meant he really was missing.

There was no one at the construction site, nor any vehicles, including Xander’s beat-up jalopy, present. Spike ground his teeth in frustration. As a last ditch effort, he went by Willy’s, the Fish Tank, and The Bronze, but there was no sign of his boy. He headed for the Magic Box to see if they’d heard anything since his last call. The instant he entered the shop, he knew Xander wasn’t there. His scent and heartbeat were missing.

"Has he called?" Spike asked brusquely.

"Who?" Giles asked distractedly, looking up from the book he was reading. "Oh. Xander? No. You haven’t found him yet?"

"No," Spike snarled. Surely it was obvious that he hadn’t found him. He stomped over to the counter and grabbed the portable. He dialed the apartment and let the phone ring...and ring.

"No answer?" Giles asked softly, when Spike slammed the receiver down.

"No," Spike said, nearly overcome with worry and trying to hide it from the Watcher. "I’ve looked everywhere I can think...," he broke off. "He’s missing."

"Who’s missing?" Willow chirped as she and Tara entered the storefront from the back room.

"Xander...," Giles managed to get out before Spike interrupted him.

"You can find him!" he practically yelled at Willow. "You can do a spell and find him! A-a locator spell!"

"Xander’s missing?" Willow asked, confused.

The bell dinged as the front door crashed open. "Giles!" Buffy yelled. "We’ve got a problem."

"Buffy, what is it?" Giles asked.

Buffy looked around the room. "Is Xander here?" she asked, after counting the faces.

"No," Giles said. "What...?"

"Someone has Xander," she interrupted. "They sent a calling card," she added, rubbing the bruise on her face.

"What did it say?" Giles asked.

Buffy just looked at him. "It was more of an actions-speak-louder-than-words kind of thing." She pointed to the bruise.

"Oh. Yes. Of course. How do you know they have Xander, then?" he asked.

"Idiot tried to bargain for his life. Like I make deals with evil demons." She paused. "Present evil demon excluded."

There was a moment of silence while they waited for Buffy to spill, until Spike couldn’t take it anymore. "Well, what did he say, Slayer?" he growled.

"Oh, yeah. He said, ‘she has your friend, and soon she’ll know all your secrets, and how to defeat you’," Buffy quoted.

"Hmmm, I wonder what that means?" Giles mused.

"Who cares?" Spike exploded. "Can we do the bleedin’ spell now?"

"What spell?" Buffy asked.

"Locator spell," Tara replied.

"For who?" Buffy asked.

"For Xander, you blonde bimbo!" Spike snarled.

"Spike said Xander was missing, and...," Giles began.

"You better not have had anything to do with Xander’s capture!" Buffy yelled, grabbing Spike by his duster lapels and shoving him back against the counter.

"No, Buffy," Willow said, trying to pull her off Spike. "He wanted us to find Xander."

"Why do you care?" Buffy asked him.

Spike couldn’t tell them the truth for fear the Slayer’d stake him, so he told them what they’d believe. "Free room and board, and cable, ‘course."

Buffy snorted. "I don’t know why he puts up with you." She turned to Giles. "So, spell?"


The fight hadn’t been difficult or long. A wanna-be-master vampire had moved into Sunnydale, determined to make a name for herself by taking out the Slayer. Fortunately, she hadn’t built up much of a following yet, and they easily dusted most of her minions before the others decided retreat was the better form of valor. Spike left Buffy and the others to take care of the female vamp and a few stragglers, and set off in search of Xander. Following his lover’s scent and the sound of his heartbeat, Spike found him behind a locked door.

He kicked the door open, expecting guards to be hidden within the room, but all he saw was an unconscious Xander tied to a chair. He didn’t smell blood, but didn’t want to take any chances with his boy’s health, so checked him over for bruises and broken bones while he was still out, finding none.

"Xan?" he called softly, then gently slapped his cheek in an attempt to rouse him.

"Spike?" Xander slurred, opening his eyes until they were little slits.

"Are you all right?" Spike asked, reaching around Xander to untie the ropes binding him. Before Xander could respond, the others crowded into the room with them.

"Xander!" Buffy cried. "Are you all right? Is he all right?" She looked him over, and then helped Spike untie him.

"I knew you’d come," Xander said. "Thought it would be sooner, though," he giggled.

"I got here...we got here as soon as we could, pet," Spike said, tugging the last of the ropes from around Xander.

"What did they do to him?" Giles asked.

"Love you, Spike," Xander said, falling forward against Spike’s chest and wrapping his arms around him. Spike froze, then decided to pretend nothing had happened, hoping the others hadn’t heard Xander’s pronouncement.

"He doesn’t seem injured," Spike said, trying to ignore the boy rubbing against him. "But he’s acting loopy."

"Whoa, Xander," Buffy said, trying to pry Xander off Spike. "You’re gonna hate yourself in the morning, pal."

"C’mon, pet, let’s get you on your feet," Spike said gruffly, standing up and pulling Xander with him. "Okay, let’s see if you can walk now."

Xander’s legs buckled. "Can’t," he said. He held his arms out to Spike, clutching at his duster. "Carry me?"

Willow giggled nervously.

"Uh, Xan, I don’t think Spike wants to carry you," Giles tried to dissuade him.

"I’ll carry you," Buffy offered.

"Sure he does," Xander pouted, not relinquishing his grip on Spike’s duster.

"Why’s that?" Buffy asked.

"‘Cause he loves me, too," Xander said.

"Xander," Giles said. "You seem to have been drugged..."

"You think I don’t know, but I do know. Spike loves me." He looked at Spike. "Tell ‘em."

"I don’t think now’s a good time to talk about this, pet," Spike said firmly, feeling a decided tick at the corner of his eye.

"I wanna talk about it," Xander whined. "I want everyone to know," he told the vampire. He turned to his friends. "I love Spike."

"Xander...," Spike warned through gritted teeth.

"What’s he talking about?" Buffy demanded.

"Spike’s right," Giles interrupted before Buffy could take a step towards Spike. "This is neither the time nor place to discuss this. Xander has obviously been drugged. Our first priority is to find out what he’s been given and make sure he is safe until the drug is out of his system. Buffy, do a final sweep of the lair to make sure we’ve cleared out all the vampires. Willow, Tara, look around and see if you can find any evidence of what Xander’s been given. Spike and I will get him out to the car."


Without speaking, Spike effortlessly lifted Xander into his arms and carried him out to his car–which they’d found when they arrived at the vampire’s lair–trying to ignore the lips on his neck. He settled Xander onto the seat and eluded the arms trying to pull him in for a kiss.

"I need to go kill something," he ground out through clenched teeth.

"You just got done killing lots of somethings," Giles protested.

"Need to kill something else," Spike said curtly, and walked away.

"Spike!" Xander called after him, but he refused to look back. "Do you think he’s mad at me?" he heard Xander ask Giles plaintively.


Two hours, five vamps, and one Kracaw demon later, a bloody and battered Spike returned to the Magic Box. Buffy, Willow, Tara, and Giles were sitting around the research table chatting over opened medical texts and Willow’s laptop.

"Where’s Xander?" he asked without preamble.

"Spike," Buffy began, rising to her feet, a stake clutched in her hand.

"Sod off, Slayer." He brushed past her on his way to the training room where he heard his boy’s heartbeat. He pushed the curtain aside to see Xander sitting on the couch, his head bowed and his knees drawn up to his chest. Though he must have know he was there, Xander didn’t look up.

"Xan," Spike said softly.

Xander glanced up. His face was pale. "You look like hell," he said flatly.

"‘M fine," Spike replied brusquely. "You don’t look so good yourself," he added. "How’re you feeling? Drugs all gone?"

Xander lowered his eyes and pulled at a loose thread. "No more drugs," he said. "Giles said it was a truth serum."

"Yeah," Spike said. "Figured."

"What are you going to do?" Xander asked.

Spike frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Are you leaving," Xander’s voice cracked, "me?"

"Why would you think that?" Spike asked, confused.

Xander looked up. "Because you left tonight. You were didn’t want me to tell them, and I did..."

"I wasn’t mad at you," Spike paused as Xander looked at him in disbelief. "All right, I might have been a little...*shocked*, because we discussed this, and made a mutual decision not to say anything to the others. You caught me a little bit by surprise, is all."

"Why?" Xander asked pitifully.

"Why what?" Spike asked.

"Why did we decide to not say anything to them?"

"We discussed this, remember?" Spike said, stepping closer to the couch. "And decided not to say anything that might get yours truly staked?"

"Are you ashamed of me?"

"What? Of course not! Why would you ask that?" Spike wondered if he’d fallen into a Hell dimension.

"Do you love me?"

"You know I do, Xan," he replied, his voice soft.

"You’ve never said." Xander still wouldn’t look at him, his fingers nervously playing with the thread.

"Xander, I love you. I do. You know I do." Spike knelt on the floor in front of Xander, and ran his hands over his thighs, feeling tense muscles beneath warm flesh under the denim.

"I wanted to tell them." His voice was small.

"I noticed," Spike said dryly.

"I mean...before. Even though we decided not to, I wanted to. I wanted to tell everyone. Are you mad?"

"No, Xander, I’m not mad," Spike assured him. "So long as the Slayer, or any of the rest of your goody group, doesn’t stake me, of course. Might be a little mad then," he tried to lighten the mood.

"Are you sure?"

"Positive, luv. C’mere." Spike tugged on Xander’s legs until his feet were on the floor on either side of him. He slipped his hands under Xander’s ass and watched his eyes darken as he slid him forward. "Kiss me?" he asked softly.

"Spike?" Xander raised one hand to cup the vampire’s face.

"Please?" Spike begged. "Was so worried when you didn’t come home, pet."

"God, Spike, I love you," Xander whispered, and lowered his head until their lips brushed. "Love you so much, it hurts sometimes," he moaned against Spike’s lips, and then slipped his tongue between them.

"Bloody hell, Xan," Spike groaned, reluctantly pulling away so the boy could breath. "Love you, too," he growled against his neck before sucking on it. "Need you." He licked the spot he’d sucked on. "Want you." He bit down with blunt teeth and pulled Xander closer, the boy’s erection pressing into his abdomen.

"Ahem," Giles interrupted them. "Sorry to interrupt," he said, not sounding sorry at all.

Spike loathly pulled away from Xander, sliding his hands along his legs before finally releasing him and resting fisted hands upon the boy’s knees.

"What is it, Watcher?" Spike asked, looking into Xander’s eyes, blackened with arousal.

"I just wanted to make sure Xander was all right. They gave him Sodium Pentothal. It might make him tired. He probably needs to get to bed," Giles said.

"Yeah," Spike agreed, laying his hands flat on Xander’s legs and squeezing. "Boy should be in bed."

Xander swallowed hard.

"Ah, I, uh, meant to sleep," Giles said, and Spike could almost hear him polishing his glasses.

"‘Course, that’s what I meant, too," he lied, winking at Xander, hardening even more at the flush that covered the boy’s lovely skin.

"You’ll take care of him, then," Giles said. "I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to him."

"Yeah, Rupert," Spike replied, glancing over his shoulder. "I’ll take good care of him."

"Right. Well, then, we should all be going. Xander, Spike." Spike stood and pulled Xander to his feet, wrapping his arms around the boy, reveling in his warmth, the fact of his nearness, while Giles made sure the back door was locked and the lights were off, and they headed to the front of the shop where the girls were waiting for word on Xander.


"That is *precisely* one of the reasons I’m glad I chose a girlfriend," Willow was saying. "Less chance of mis-communication. Guys just don’t talk!"

"What’s the other reasons?" Buffy asked curiously. "Sensitivity to your needs?"

"Exactly!" Tara chimed in unexpectedly, waving her hands about. "Men are like snowstorms. You never know when he's coming, how many inches you'll get, or how long he’ll last." She nodded as if that said it all.

There was a long moment of stunned silence.

"I, uh, meant emotional sensitivity," Buffy said.

"Me, too," Willow added.

"Oh," Tara squeaked. "That, too."

"And on that note," Xander said. "I think we’ll be saying goodnight."

"Giles." Buffy stood. "Is he all right to go home? With Spike?"

"Yes, Buffy," Giles sighed. "I believe Xander will be fine, now."

"Got anything I can kill?" she asked, her eyes never leaving Spike.

"Back off, Buffy," Xander said softly before Spike could reply. "He’s mine, and I’m keeping him."

"What’m I, a dog?" Spike grumbled, tightening his grip on a still-woozy Xander.

"Xander!" Buffy cried. "That’s the drugs talking... Oh, probably not a good argument to use with truth serum," she said almost to herself.

"Doesn’t matter, because I’m tired, and I’m not talking about this right now," Xander said as firmly as he could with his words slurring from exhaustion. "In fact, I’m not talking about this period. No discussion of my love life. Just accept it." He turned to Spike. "I need home. And bed."

"I can do that, luv," Spike said. "Uh, I’m gonna have to drive your car," he added as he maneuvered Xander to the door.

"Giles!" Buffy yelled at the Watcher.

"What do you want me to do about it, Buffy?" he asked. "It’s Xander’s car."

"That’s not...," she huffed.

"And Xander’s life," Xander muttered, loud enough for the others to hear. "And he wants Spike in it," he added just before the door closed behind them.

Spike stopped walking long enough to lean down and kiss his boy.

"What was that for?" Xander asked as Spike moved him along towards the car.

"I need a reason?" he asked gruffly.

"No," Xander said.

As he settled Xander in the front seat, Spike mumbled, "I...might’ve...wanted to tell ‘em, too."

Xander grinned. "Home?"

Spike grinned back. "Bed?"

"Oh, yeah," Xander groaned, and Spike’s eyes shot down to his groin.

"Hold that thought, yeah?" he asked, and hurriedly closed the door. He needed to get his boy home...and in bed.







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