by Lazuli



Spike watched Xander sleep a peaceful sleep.   Happy to lay and watch.   Lay and watch.   Until he got bored and wanted attention and gently stroked back the long hair, caressing Xander’s face until the human got the hint and stirred.

          “Xander.   I couldn’t resist touching you.   You’ll have a lot of that to put up with.”

The dark eyes opened and fixed on him, exhausted and miserable.   The muscles around Spike’s heart clenched.   It’d been too much to hope that Xander could be drawn back from the edge of despair by one vampire’s selfish need.

          “Hey, Spike.”   The voice was nothing like the look.   It had a new warmth.

          “Hey, you,” Spike smiled, encouraged, resuming his stroking of Xander’s hair.  “Give us a kiss.”

          “Why do you want to kiss me?   I must taste horrible.”

Spike carried out a little research.

          “Lime.   You taste of lime.   And toothpaste.   And chocolate.”

          “Still chocolate?”

          “I think I’m conditioned to associate Xander Harris with chocolate.   Pavlov’s dog.”

          “He the one on the album covers?” Xander kidded, much to Spike’s surprise.   “You know, with the gramophone?”

          “Yeah, that’s the one.   His Master’s Voice.   I hope that master had better luck with obedience training than this one.   Don’t give me the innocent look, I know I’m totally stuffed.”

Like every other positive emotion, the humour caused Xander pain.   Spike saw and sympathised.   Learning to live again would be like acquiring a soul.   Not pretty.

          “Tell me, Xander.”

          “What now?”

          “What’s hurting most.   You’re mine and I have to fix it.   Let’s try one step at a time.”

Spike saw Xander hover on the brink of one of his fade-outs but pull himself back.   Spike suspected the answer would tell him whether or not his Xander could be restored or if he’d always exist as a shadow of himself.   It was tempting to up and run.



          “Right now?”

          “Right now.”

          “I…” Xander’s voice trembled and seized up.

          “Tell me, Xander.”

          “After everything…   It’s too selfish.”

          “Be selfish then.   Be selfish for me.”

A few deep breaths and Xander could say it, however apologetically it came out.

          “I’m so hungry.”

Spike felt his eyes prickle with the tears that Xander was incapable of shedding for himself.   For a few minutes all he could do was wrap Xander in a loving, unreciprocated embrace, attempting to offer a little comfort whilst persuading his starving human that self-preservation was not a crime.   Then he tucked Xander up in bed, dressed, and left the room.


Spike returned a short while later with a mug of hot soup, which was barely warm when he finally managed to sweet-talk Xander into drinking it.   They held the mug together so Xander wouldn’t shake the contents all over himself, and Spike made him take the soup one sip at a time so there was less chance of it coming back up.

          “Does that feel good?”

          “Feels strange.”

          “Enjoying it?”

          “I don’t know.”

          “It’ll take some time, I expect.   For you to come to terms with everything that’s happened.   Dying.   Living.   Me.”

          “You wanting me.”



Xander glanced at Spike curiously.   The seductiveness buried in that look was a thing of beauty and the vampire felt a definite twinge as he wondered how many tricks Xander had up his sleeve.

          “Get some rest.   I’ll be downstairs.   Shout if you want me.”

          “Why can’t you stay here with me?”

          “Because we need different things.   You need to sleep, and I need to fuck you.”

That inexplicably jarred Xander.   Was all this just because Spike needed to?   Suddenly knowing became very important.

          “You need to?   Is it a part of the claiming?   Is that all?”

          “Want to,” Spike corrected.   “I want to.   Want you .   I want you, Xander.”

          “You chose me.”   Spike thought he glimpsed some satisfaction in that fact.   Maybe he was projecting.

          “I did.   Was I right to?”

          “I can do this,” Xander told him, a flash of determination bringing the eyes to life for an instant.   “I can do this, I won’t let you down, and I won’t condemn you to being alone.”

That was thrilling.   And Spike was suitably thrilled until he remembered what came next; he began to pace.

          “We’re getting to the bit you won’t like.”


          “I have to mark you before midnight.”


          “There’s no easy way, I just have to do it.”


          “It’ll hurt.”


          “I just have to do it.”


          “I won’t be taking much blood.”


          “But I have no choice.”


Spike span back to face Xander.

          “It would be easier if you wanted me.   This.   I don’t want to hurt you but if I thought it was for us rather than for me…”

          “It is for us.”

          “I don’t mean…”   Spike stopped, hands on his hips, and sighed.   “You’re right.   It is for us.   You getting to live is for us.”

They just looked at each other for a long time, both secretly wishing the other would say exactly what they wanted to hear, both knowing they were hoping for too much.

          “I’ve hated being alone,” Xander admitted uncomfortably after a while.   “And…   We weren’t so bad together.   Later on.   We were friends.   It was better than being alone.”

At that concession Spike went and sat by Xander, leaning down to the startled man and burying his face in his hair, taking a long breath and delighting in the scent and the warmth.

          “You have a duty to live now, Xander,” he whispered.   “I know you’ve never thought very highly of me and when you get stronger there won’t be a day goes by when you don’t curse me for what I’ve done, but I will always have your best interests at heart.   You can trust me.”


Spike drew back slightly to kiss Xander’s cheek, feeling the rebuttal deeply as Xander tilted his head away from the contact.   But as Spike made to withdraw further Xander’s hand landed on his upper arm, employing gentle pressure to keep him close, bring him closer.   Xander offered his mouth, not his cheek, and Spike gladly took it, making such a slow approach, undoubtedly to give Xander time to change his mind, that the human’s heart began to pound in anticipation.   Xander watched Spike’s eyes close and for an instant the vampire appeared so vulnerable it stirred the protectiveness in him, it stirred…more.   Xander clamped down on thoughts and feelings, closed his own eyes and counted the seconds until their lips met with the gentlest of touches, counted the seconds until Spike was moving away again, counted the seconds until the next contact.   Spike shifted and laid his cheek against Xander’s forehead, leaving the human dumbfounded by the simple affection, forgetting numbers as Spike’s serenity filtered through to him.   The moment passed too soon; Xander stirred as Spike kissed his brow and sat up.

          “I am genuinely sorry that I have to hurt you later.”

          “It’s okay.”   Spike stood and turned toward the door, not seeing the frantic gesture as Xander grabbed for and missed him.   “You’re going?”

          “Just downstairs.   Get some sleep, no bad dreams, I promise.”   Xander nodded despite being entirely unconvinced.   “You need your rest.   After all, you’re going to save the world.”

Xander groaned and hid himself beneath the covers.   Spike smiled at the trembling lump in the bedclothes and left him to sleep.




As soon as the sun was down Spike strolled across to his bench – oh, yes, his, proprietary much – and sat, admiring the fine evening sky, waiting for a connection.


A patrol car cruised past and the cop behind the wheel glanced and waved; Spike waved back with a smile, recognising one of the troops from the last battle.   The guy looked about twelve.   Who said you knew when you were getting old because all the cops looked like kids?


Spike felt old.   Tonight he should feel jubilant, but he knew he’d fucked up royally, that he’d fucked up Xander Harris for the next few hundred years or so.   Long old life if you can’t stand the other half, Spike mused sadly, wonder if he’ll ever forgive me.   What was I thinking?   Anything was better than being alone?   Well, excuse my rampant stupidity driven by rampant lust.   Rampant loneliness.   He’d known it was a bit of a risk, choosing Xander, leaving his claim this late so there was no time to even consider anyone else before the Powers-inflicted deadline.   But he’d expected the old Xander, who might have looked at this as if Spike was insane but, hey, nothing better to do this lifetime, why not?   When it came to the choice Spike had taken his time, considered long and hard all the beings he knew, but he kept coming back to Xander, kept wanting Xander, purely, impurely. He wasn’t even sure quite why he wanted him so much.   I’m lying to myself.   I know exactly why, and I’ll have to tell him if he asks.   Sounds bloody daft.   He’ll think I’m due a trip to the funny farm.


But Spike was one bloody act away from having his Consort, his companion, his ally in the war to come.   A man who wanted to die because he’d been manipulated and broken by the weakness and mortality of others.   A man who remembered hating Spike better than learning to like him.   A man who would lie to himself for a fuck, but now he was being honest could only reject the one person…    Vampire, and Xander was always thoroughly enamoured of vampires, eh?   …who truly wanted every annoying thing about him.   Should I ask the Powers to intercede?   Not demand Xander’s love but his friendship.   Friendship would do.   For a start.   If he genuinely liked me…   How genuine would any affection be if it was brought about by the intervention of a greater power?   No begging then.   No intercession.


He thought of being around, on, inside Xander, and if his heart could beat it would have been beating a drum roll. He’d primed himself to fall in love with this exasperating human, reminded himself constantly of his shortcomings (many) and strengths (more) until it was as if Xander had been a part of the falling process.   But, of course, he hadn’t.   And he wouldn’t be.   There would be sex, possibly: when Xander was healthy he’d be as horny as a demon and there was little chance he’d fuck around after his last fateful escapade, so it was Spike or nothing and Spike was reasonably certain it would be him.   Reasonably certain.   Not absolutely.   Perhaps Xander would prove that man could live by masturbation alone.   And Spike would be in Hell on Earth.


Spike felt the familiar tingle that preceded contact and cleared his mind, grateful for an excuse to stop thinking about another life he’d ruined.




Xander guessed it was about nine, nine-thirty when he woke after the promised dreamless sleep; no light at all making it’s way through the heavy drapes.   He stretched, feeling stronger, more alert, knowing his body was responding to the massive indulgence that was a helping of soup.   There was a lamp on the cabinet beside the bed, and he groped out to find it in the darkness, clicking it on before snuggling back into the cosy little nest he’d created and counting the beams of soft light thrown across the ceiling as vague thoughts infiltrated the numbers. Spike’s going to bite me.   A vampire’s going to bite me.   Can I say I’m scared?   Okay, I’m scared.   Do I want this?   Don’t know.   Do I want him?   Don’t know.   Do I want more sex?   Fucking hell, yes, and that’s what always gets me into trouble.   Shit, he felt good.   Do I want to live?   ‘You have permission to live.   You’ll live for me.’   Have I got a choice anymore?   ‘The Powers dictate.’   What do I do?   Spike tricks me into coming here, takes away my freedom, makes me his fucking Consort elect and now he’s going to sink his fangs in me to secure the promotion.   I’m scared.   I can’t do this.   I can’t save the world without Buffy and Willow and Giles. I can’t do this.   I can’t do this.   I have to do this.


No choice.


Barely five minutes had passed when Spike arrived, mug in hand, prepared to cajole or bully Xander into eating more soup.   Xander distractedly accepted the food, accepted Spike sitting close to his side to help him keep the mug steady, he even accepted the myriad affectionate touches.   Soup finished, mug set aside, and they knew what was coming next.   Xander stopped the counting and let the truth hit him with full force.   He was terrified. Spike knew, and he petted and reassured despite knowing how pointless his attempts at comfort were.

          “Do I have any choice about this?”

Spike challenged Xander with a look.

          “Do you want any?”


          “You wouldn’t like to go back to no, no, no?”   Xander sank down into his nest.   “Come on, love, we’ve got this far,” Spike followed Xander, pushing the covers aside so he could get to some skin, licking and kissing between words as Xander lay motionless.   “Gonna set you free, Xander…   You may have to face the odd

demon…   God at a push…   And we know you take the average apocalypse in your stride…   But I’ll scare off the ghosts…”

          “You will?”

Spike’s head rose.

          “If you trust me.”

Spike expected a similar reaction to his earlier use of that provocative word, but Xander looked into his eyes, searched his face for something, someone to believe in.

          “You picked me?”   Spike gave a nod.   “You could have picked anyone?”   Another nod.   “But you picked me.   Why?”

          “Because I wanted you.”



          “It doesn’t make sense.”

          “How corny would you like me to be?”

Xander considered.

          “Pretty corny.”

          “Heavy schmaltz?”

          “I could go for heavy schmaltz.”

          “Okay…” Spike laughed nervously.   “That’d be the truth you want then, last piece of the home, Hellmouth, me, deal.”   Spike paused, returned Xander’s gaze.   “I picked you…because my soul wanted your


And here came the…


          “It called out and you came home.”


          “That’s the truth.   ‘No,’ all you like but that’s the truth.”

          “No choice either way then?   You’re stuck with me?”

          “Not stuck.   I chose you.”

          “But if…   But you said…   Nothing makes sense, I’m too fucking stupid for this,” Xander groaned, pushing Spike away and attempting to retrieve the covers.

          “You think I’m not embarrassed coming out with that?”

          “Then why?”

          “Because I promised myself I’d tell you the truth.”


Xander fell silent, troubled face a testament to his confusion and unhappiness.   Spike backed off, sat cross-legged and watched his Consort’s internal struggles, reminded himself about the time, about claiming, and he was itching to get on with it, longing to taste Xander’s blood.   Reminded himself about the time and what a relief it would be to get out before he subjected Xander to this fate.

          “Are you going through with it?”

          “I’m the one with no choice,” Xander said flatly.

Spike sighed, regretting his need to be honest.

          “If I don’t mark you by midnight you’ll be able to leave,” he said quietly.   “In fact you’ll have to.”

          “But you’ll be alone.”   Spike shrugged.   “Can you save the world alone?”   Spike shrugged.   “Is the saving the world thing true?”


          “How far away?”

          “Three years or so.”

Xander stared at him, appalled.

          “You had me believing we had maybe months if we were lucky.”

          “I didn’t choose the timing of any of this.   I don’t know why tonight matters.”

          “You didn’t tell me.”

          “Fucking hell, Xander, I haven’t known what to say!   You turn up looking more like the living dead than I ever did, you’re shaking yourself to bits, won’t eat despite being starving.   And it’s your bloody choice.   That’s your choice, so I see you making that sort of stupid-arse decision and I’m meant to hand this other shit over to you and see you make another monumentally stupid-arse decision?   I make the decision and I save your life, such as it is.   I tell you as little as possible and con you into this arrangement and you live.   You make the decision for yourself, walk away, collapse and die in a gutter somewhere because no-one else cares.   I – fucking – care!   Xander was staring at him in wide-eyed wonder.   Or possibly horror.   “I know you’ve got your own private hell happening in your head right now.   I know you’re trying to make sense of your life or your death and I’m hoping you’re trying to justify living.   I’d lie, cheat, manipulate you unmercifully if I thought I could help you shed your past and forget what’s dragging you under.   I want you to live for me, Xander, and I don’t care how selfish that is.”   The caught in the headlights look didn’t seem to be going anywhere.   “Didn’t it mean anything? Earlier?   Being that close?   I’m not just talking about it being an exceptionally good shag although…   It was an exceptionally good shag.   No, I mean being…close.   Being for each other.   Afterwards I thought it had really happened: the Consort thing.   I thought you felt it too, Xander, I thought you wanted it.   I thought…hoped …you wanted me.”


Now it was Spike’s turn for silence as he apprehensively waited.  Xander was back in shake free-fall and seemed to be mentally formulating what they’d done plus what Spike’d said and attempting an equals what Xander wants.  

          “Nothing’s changed,” he said at last.

It was Spike’s turn to look horrified.

          “Everything’s changed.”

          “No.   Did you really think a fuck would win me over?   If you wanted this so badly you should have left me thinking that I had no choice.”

          “I couldn’t do that.”

          “Why not?”

          “Because this way you resent me slightly.   If I kept lying now and you found out the truth in ten years you’d probably lop my head off.   And…and…”


          “Being honest with you…matters.   Would’ve mattered.”

          “Maybe I would have preferred you to keep on lying.”

          “You deserved the choice.   And talking of choices…”

          “Yeah, I know time’s pushing on,” Xander sighed.   “Spike…   Did you really think we’d have sex, you’d be soup monitor, I’d sleep a while, and when I woke up it’d all be different?   That I’d wake up as your Consort?”

Unable to meet Xander’s eyes, Spike stared at his hands in his lap, shook his head, spoke quietly.

          “No.   I hoped, I didn’t expect.   I wanted, I didn’t expect.”   A short, humourless laugh emerged.   “You don’t even like me.”

          “I like you.   I do like you.”

The blond head came up and Xander could see that that admission in itself was almost enough to make Spike happy.   He also saw the stress in the vampire’s body language melting away and knew that Spike was coming to terms with not having his Consort, letting go of a fantasy he’d never quite believed in.

          “That means a lot.”   Pause.   “And that shag…”

          “Was exceptionally good,” Xander conceded.

Spike grinned, reached out to touch Xander and knew he shouldn’t because it was over; the hand withdrew at lightning speed.   The heart was a little slower.

          “Before you go we could—   No.   No, of course we couldn’t.   Can we stay in contact, Xander?   That would mean a lot to me, too.   I’ve missed – missed…   To tell you the truth – and make a joke of that – I’ve been a bit lost since Willow and Dawn left, and this new lot hanging around are friggin’ tedious.   I can’t believe I used to complain about…   Will you try and let the past go?   Try and live?   No, don’t answer that,” Spike rambled until he caught himself doing it and brought himself up short.   “If you ever want to, y’know, talk…   About that girl, or about Buffy…”


          “You can.”


          “Thank God for that.   It’s hard to listen to other people’s bellyaching.”

Xander smiled at him.

          “So much for Mr Sensitivity.”

          “I can be sensitive when it’s about me.   Or us.   If there’d been an us,” he corrected quickly.   “That would’ve been different.”   Moving swiftly on.   “Staying around long enough to meet the new slayer?”

          “I thought I had to leave.”

          “Yeah,” Spike agreed, once again unable to look Xander in the face.   “But another day won’t hurt.   You could leave on Monday.   I could drive you home on Monday night if you want to wait for sunset.”

          “What’s she like?”


          “The slayer.”

Safer ground, and Spike made an effort to lighten up.

          “Pain in the bleedin’ arse.”

          “So, she’s…?”

          “Righteous,” Spike said distastefully.

          “Yeah, I can see how that’d be a problem.”

          “But I get my allegedly due respect and that’s a novelty.   Watcher’s a nice enough old duffer but he’s not our Rupert.”

          “Our Rupert,” Xander repeated fondly.

          “They know a bit about vamps but bugger all about demons.   That’s where I come in.”

          “You enjoy it?”

          “It’s not like it was.   It’ll never be like it was, I don’t want to spend time with…”


Spike’s head turned, he looked toward the window as if he’d been called.   His expression became completely open and Xander saw everything that the vampire usually concealed: the loneliness, emptiness, fear, the strain of his entire unnatural existence.   He saw tears well as Spike whispered an answer to the silent question.

          “No.   It’s over.”

          “It’s over?” Xander asked, deliberately tearing Spike’s attention away.   Spike looked a question.   “What’s over?”

The shutters went back up, Spike blinked away the evidence of his distress.

          “Nothing for you to worry about, love.”

          “It doesn’t feel like midnight yet.”

          “No, but…”

          “Then it isn’t over.”   Xander rearranged himself against the pillows, pulling back his hair and leaving his neck bare.   “It’s just beginning.”

          “Xander?” emerged as a broken wisp of sound from the astonished vampire.

          “I said I wouldn’t condemn you to being alone.   I meant it.”


          “And I have a choice about the sex, right?   My body’s my own, I don’t have to let you fuck me.”

          “I…   Xander…”

          “Hey, think you can give me some ballast here before my own stupid body vibrates right off the bed?”

Spike broke out of his shock and fell onto Xander, fast enough to make him yelp with surprise.

          “Do you know what you’re doing?” Spike asked huskily as he nuzzled Xander’s neck.

          “Yeah.   Being set free, right?   That’s what you said?”

          “Shit, there must be more I’m supposed to tell you before this happens.”

          “Do it.”

          “Let me think.”

          “I still have my own life, right?   I can work if I want to, ‘cause I’ll want to.”


          “And I don’t have to call you master?”


          “And I can say no to sex?”

          “If you have to.   Do you want to?”

          “I just need to know I have some control.   It’s not that I don’t want you…”   The final words were smothered as Spike’s mouth covered Xander’s, and his body moved automatically, humping Xander through jeans and bedclothes.   Xander broke the kiss with some difficulty.   “Spike…”

          “Okay.   Thinking.”   And this time Spike made a concerted effort to think and came up with the obvious.   “You’ll have certain freedoms – let’s face it, just about anything you want, I’m not exactly your tradition-bound vampire – but you will be mine.   If you ever betray me you really will die.”   Xander nodded.   “This matters.   Fuck around and you’re dead.”

          “I won’t want anyone else.”

          “No whoring around.   You’re mine.   You’re going to live and you’ll live for me.”

A hint of life in Xander’s eyes now and Spike fought back the howl of delight at the glimpse of the real Xander, his Xander, waiting to emerge.

          “I’ve changed.   I’ll be faithful.   Always.”

          “Keep to that and I’ll do my best to make you happy.”

Spike waited for the familiar look of disbelief, mistrust.   It didn’t happen.   He saw gratitude.   Hope.   Affection. Desire.   Spike kissed him again, slowly, appreciatively.

          “Do it, Spike,” Xander urged between kisses.   “We don’t know the time.”

          “Are you sure?”

          “Do it.”

          “Are you sure?

          “Scared but sure.”

          “Xander, I…”

          “Do it.”

          “It’s going to hurt.”

          “I know that.”

          “Fast or slow?”

          “What’s better?”

          “Better is my cock buried inside you taking your mind off it.”


          “That’s what you said earlier,” Spike pointed out with a teasing smile.

          “Look me in the eyes, Spike.”

Spike did as he was asked, his smile vanishing.   Yes, he could see the difference between the afternoon’s desperate young man who wanted him despite not wanting him, and this Xander who said no and meant it, the Xander who demanded respect and would receive it from this already-besotted vampire.

          “No fucking,” Spike confirmed, satisfied that he’d got this right by the relief on Xander’s face.

          “Fast or slow, you think?”


          “All right.   Fast.   Whenever you’re…”

Spike sank his fangs into Xander, so rapidly that Xander wasn’t truly aware of what was happening until the pain struck him and he took a sharp deep inhalation, eyes watering; then the glorious thrill of the vampire’s claiming coursed through every vein, inflamed every nerve.   It was more than ritual, it was stunningly erotic: to know that Spike was feeding off him, taking him into his body.   Xander unconsciously ground himself against Spike, feeling Spike’s growl of pleasure vibrating through them as he responded in kind.   The fangs withdrew; the licks that followed were equally as stimulating and Xander was quite dizzy with lust by the time Spike stopped.

          “Fuck, I knew I’d forgotten…   Xander, you have to have this, taste this…”

And Spike slit his wrist with a nail.   Xander saw the blood and sobered up remarkably quickly.

          “I have to?”

          “A drop.”

          “Just this once?” Xander asked suspiciously.   Spike nodded and offered up his wrist.   Another hesitation before a muttered…   “What the hell.”   …and Xander covered the wound with his mouth.   Sucked.   Vigorously.

Spike groaned and bucked forward, coming hard and unexpectedly as their union was completed, blearily hearing Xander’s panting and knowing it should sing to him of breathless fucking and a satisfied Consort rather than the frustration of being this close and unfulfilled.   He wriggled off of Xander and his hand snaked under the covers.

          “No, I said no.”

          “Just my hand, just my hand,” Spike soothed, finding Xander’s erection and wrapping his fist around it, deciding to make this fast in a bid to prevent Xander changing his mind.   Silent once again, Xander pressed up into the grip; Spike found Xander’s ear and whispered as he pumped.   “Hope you want me soon, Xander.   Because I want you.   I want to taste my Consort, suck that gorgeous cock of yours until it’s ready to burst and feel you shoot down my throat.”   Spike grinned at the subdued murmur that escaped Xander.   “And I’ll need you to fuck me.   It’s been so long since I was fucked and I’ll be so tight for you.   Will you do that for me?   If I suck you really well will you reward me by forcing this beauty into me?   Share that heat and come…”   And Xander obliged with a stifled moan, thrusting up and falling back, trembling in violent waves as Spike’s strokes milked him and milked him and finally became tender.


As Xander dozed Spike went downstairs and made hot chocolate, weighing it down with sugar and cream, wondering if he could persuade Xander to eat something.   He suddenly saw a mental picture of himself, saw the change of direction in his life.   He had Xander, he had a Consort.   He had company.   It was a wonderful sensation, this knowledge, and it made his eyes well as he bade a hopeful farewell to the loneliness, grinning irrepressibly as he looked forward.   He knew Xander would have regrets eventually but he would deal with that when they came to it.   For now though, he would enjoy.   His eyes fell on the phone.   Enjoy, and possibly even gloat.




Xander felt like he’d spent half his life waking up in this bed.  Some early light was coming through and over the drapes, creating faint patterns on the ceiling that yesterday he had counted maniacally, today he counted calmly.  Which was progress.  No nightmares, no dreams at all that he could remember.  No sensation of drowning, no gallons of blood, no turning to look at one face and seeing another, seeing Buffy, dead because he wasn’t there for her.  No nightmares.  Which was progress.


He glanced over at Spike and felt a whole jumble of emotions bubble up inside his chest and his gut and, yes, his groin.  God, he was confused.  A couple of days ago everything had seemed so simple.  He’d been entrenched in such deep depression, crippled by guilt, that his course had seemed easy: stop eating, suffer, die.  Not suicide, which would be wrong, but atonement, which would be right.  He’d been looking forward to ‘die’ in a classical

‘blessed release’ kind of way.  But Xander Harris had always been a fighter, a survivor, and if he was subconsciously searching for an excuse to live Spike had given it to him.  And maybe that was okay because this was a different brand of atonement, not an excuse to give up and live, nothing he’d been aware of when he turned up.  Why had he turned up?  Did he truthfully believe he had no choice?

          “I had no choice,” Xander whispered into the stillness.

Which he had truthfully believed.


He carefully removed himself from the bed, not wanting to disturb the vampire, and took his fuck-achy body off to the bathroom.  He felt stronger again, amazed at the human body’s recuperative properties when fed with only two mugs of soup, a trickle of vampire blood, and hot chocolate that he’d almost needed a knife and fork to consume.  Spike’s taking care of me.  The thought brought a smile, and that felt weird, as if his facial muscles had just about forgotten how to pull it off.  I don’t deserve it but someone wants to take care of me.  Guardian of the Hellmouth: quite a catch if you happen to like vampires.  And he happened to like this one very much.


His shower was long and hot, and as he lethargically counted tiles he remembered Friday, Spike in the shower with him, already caring, washing his hair and touching him.  Touching him and making an unspoken statement that shattered Xander’s image of himself as loathsome, insufferable, unwanted.  It had made Xander want to ask one thing of the vampire: if, when the time came, he could come to him to die.  Now he was expected to stay with him to live.  To live.  Recognition of that sent a wave of nausea through Xander and he picked up his counting, trying to drum out the growing alarm.  The severity of his shaking increased until he was leaning against the wall, trying to remain upright as his mind reeled and the room span.  This was wrong, he’d known it was wrong from the start, and yet a tiny voice in his head was telling him to get to Spike right now, Spike could banish the fear.  And that was wrong too.


Xander knew he couldn’t stay, couldn’t let Spike touch him again…  I let Spike fuck me.  I wanted Spike to fuck me.  This is Spike I’m washing away.  Don’t want to wash him away but I feel so dirty.  Spike’s clean.  Spike cares and shouldn’t.  …and he certainly couldn’t save the world.  So dirty.  He shouldn’t have touched me.  He’s too good for me.  He’s too good for me.  Jesus, that’s funny.


Back to one.  Numbers to drown out the words.  Quickly out of the shower and Xander despaired when he remembered he had nothing to put on but dirty clothes.  It was somehow symbolic.  He wouldn’t look in the mirror, didn’t want to see the bite mark on his neck or the fading light in his eyes as he lost the little hope he’d mustered, or rather Spike had mustered for him.  He shaved by touch, using the electric razor Spike had bought him, counting at speed as he did so, not wanting to think about the kindness of a demon who didn’t want him to cut himself.


A glass of water, a purloined cigarette, and Xander left the guardian’s house.  The door was never locked, Xander realised as he pulled it shut behind him.  It made the house easy to enter.


It made it easy to leave.




Spike knew.  The second he woke he knew he was alone, and it didn’t feel like the previous day’s alone when Xander was across the road in the park.  He was alone.


He inhaled deeply.  The richest scent came from the pillow beside him, stained with blood from Xander’s neck.  Next was the semen on the sheet.  Beyond that there was soap and shampoo, toothpaste and cigarette smoke.  But no Xander.


Spike rolled and buried his face in Xander’s pillow, taking the stained area of linen into his mouth and wetting it, sucking, chewing, until he’d extracted every last scrap of blood from it.  Then he moved down the bed and repeated the action with the semen.  It made him uncomfortably hard, and he joylessly rubbed himself against the mattress as he suckled, ejaculating with no discernible satisfaction as his mind threw up images of Xander last night, the honest pleasure on his face as he’d come for Spike.


Yes, he’d primed himself to fall in love with Xander, and without force or effort he’d fallen quite naturally, probably the moment his Consort had said, ‘It’s just beginning’ and was believed.  Spike had been prepared to commit himself whole-heartedly to caring for and restoring the damaged man if that was the only way Xander would allow him to demonstrate his affection.  But now…  No Xander.  The shock of lost love.  The pain of losing his Consort.  The desolation of a future non-negotiably, completely alone.


Spike.   Truly love’s bitch.  And love’s bitch wept.




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