Took Hold 25
Riley was released from the hospital around lunchtime, and Buffy was in full nursing mode. She harangued the former soldier, telling him that he was grounded from patrolling and fighting, and he had to take the next few days off of school.
Xander fixed sandwiches and watched his favorite slayer gripe at her boyfriend then hurry to class. Riley heated up blood for the two vampires, who had headed straight to the basement.
”She really is going to enforce that no slayage rule, you know that, right?” the brunette asked Riley as he piled heaps of sliced sandwiches on a plate and they walked down the basement stairs.
“Yeah,” Riley sighed. “But Angel said he has a way around it. He said I could get over this faster and stay fit if I did Tai Chi. We’re starting this afternoon--” The words died on his lips as the humans caught sight of Spike and Angel, rolling and grunting on the floor.
They watched the sparring vampires leap and thrash at each other for a bit, the humans held spellbound by the ferocity and speed.
The vampires moved like jungle cats, pouncing ferociously then weaving away to prepare the next strike. Both wore black ribbed tanks and the coiling muscles in their bare arms added to the feline effect.
Xander shook his head, trying to erase naughty blonde vampire thoughts as though his mind were an Etch-A-Sketch™. When he turned to his buddy, he saw the awestruck, admiring look on Riley’s face as the ex-soldier watched Angel.
Finally, they called a tie and the four men sat on the training mats to eat. Spike dunked his peanut butter sandwich in his blood, taunting them with a commentary, ”Mmmmm, *crunchy* and delicious...”
The humans each raised an eyebrow at him as if to say “Your point?”
The blonde vampire pouted, “It’s no fun when people don’t whine about it, bloody jaded humans...” He dipped his sandwich again and dabbed some blood on Xander’s hand. The brunette sneaked a glance at Riley and Angel, who were totally wrapped up in each other. Then Xander tipped his wrist at Spike, inviting him to lick the blood off. Spike discretely lapped the blood off the top of his palm.
Xander’s heart raced, feeling the cool tongue move over his skin. The vampire held his hand for a long time, knowing that nobody would notice or mind their contact and Xander reveled in it. When Spike relinquished his hand, Xander scooted closer and dunked his own sandwich in the blonde’s mug. The look on Spike’s face was priceless: the unhidden surprise and puzzlement made the gesture worth it. Without pause, Xander brought the gory sandwich to the vampire’s lips.
Blue eyes softened and Spike opened his mouth and let Xander feed him, chewing thoughtfully and grinning at the boy. The two shared a smoldering, flirty look before being roused by the older vampire’s voice.
Angel picked at the sandwich on his plate. ”You do know that I don’t eat, right?”
“What, human food not good enough for you, Peaches?”
“No...I just...” Against their stares, he got flustered and relented. “Fine.” Angel took a bite, raising his eyebrows and nodding before inhaling the rest. The introduction of twentieth century food was just beginning. Riley, Spike, and Xander ran up the stairs and foraged for snacks, bringing down an armful of goodies. They spent hours having Angel taste test, enjoying the surprise in his face. It was like watching a caveman discover things like whipped cream and popcorn.
“Try this!” Xander held out a bag of chips.
“No, this!” Riley handed him a chocolate cupcake.
“Drizzle blood on that one, mate!” Spike sprinkled marshmallows into his mug of blood.
The older vampire chuckled as they pushed things in front of him to taste.
They enjoyed their guy time, snacking and sharing stories
for a while. In an uncharacteristic show of vulnerability, Riley suddenly opened
“I think Buffy’s going to break up with me.” Amidst a chorus of dismay and disagreement, he continued.
“It’s been rough since I quit the Initiative, and now--”
“--Let me guess, you think you’re too Joe Average for her, so you’re pushing her away all manly-like so you don’t feel like an inadequate tosser. Is that it?” The cigarette wagged on Spike’s lip as he explained. Xander elbowed him, trying to get him to show a little tact. The blonde just snaked an arm out to grab his hand instead.
“Yeah, only...put nicer,” the human mumbled. Riley scooted a little closer to the older vampire as he said it.
“Not like you’d know anything about it. You wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be with Buffy.” Angel tried to defend Riley, remembering the 24 hours of bliss with her that he’d had to give up. The older vampire laid a hand on the sandy-haired human’s back.
“Don’t need to. I’ve got you poor sods to spell it out to me. *You*--” and he pointed to Angel, “always treated her like a little girl. Just because she wasn’t a vampire doesn’t mean that she couldn’t handle a relationship with one. And to *you*--” he pointed his granola bar at Riley, “she was always a superhero in a skirt to you. Neither of you wankers sees her for who she is.”
“Spike!” Xander reprimanded.
“Now, wait a minute!”
“You’re telling me that you’ve *never* talked down to Buffy about her deserving a normal life, and you’ve never put her on a pedestal for being the Slayer?”
Angel and Riley knew they were caught. The older vampire stammered, “It’s–not that simple. Things between Buffy and anyone are...complicated. ”
“Complicated. She’s not human enough for soldier boy and too human for you. Sounds pretty straightforward. Hate to say it, mate, but I know your relationships better than you do.”
“Prove it!” Riley’s eyes twinkled with curiosity.
“Alright, you remember the Gem of Amara? You heard about that bit, Riley?” The human nodded. “Well, what would you do if you had it in your hand right now?”
“Destroy it.” “Crush it.” They spoke at the same time and stared hard at Spike.
The blonde vampire glanced at Xander triumphantly, kissing the human’s hand. A thrill shot through Xander at the public display, and he felt himself blush.
“See? You’re a couple a wasteful bastards who also happen to be noble. That’s why she chose each of you--why she’s still with you, Soldier Boy. Buffy’s not a child, and not a mutant, just the Slayer. But if you keep treating her like a piece of glass--,” he looked at Angel, “--or like Superman, she’s not going to stick around--”
Riley and Angel were staring wide-eyed at him, getting the point. Xander was amazed and proud of Spike’s perception.
“Angel! You’re eating?!” Dawn’s shrill voice got their attention. Her eyes shone with amazement and a tall, good-looking blonde teenager stood right behind her.
BLISS TOOK HOLD 26