Hi. This is my first shot at writing S/X, so please let me know
think. I will really appreciated it.
I finally started watching the show regularly part way through this
please forgive me for any mistakes I make.
Spike was looking for trouble. He was bored, bored out of his
mind, and that
boredom had sent him out wandering the streets of Sunnydale. Thanks to
whatever those military bastards had done to him, he still couldn't attack any
humans, not if he didn't want to experience shooting, agonizing pain.
If he wanted that, he'd stay home and watch Must See TV.
So here he was, skulking through the streets, hoping to find some demons
engaged in some sort of nefarious activity, so he'd have an excuse to step in
and wreak some havoc, break some bones, end some lives.
Unfortunately, the demons weren't cooperating. He hadn't found
atrocities. Hell, he hadn't found any at all, so he couldn't even try to
convince himself that they were possibly considering committing atrocities and
justify his attacking them.
He was about to give up, and just go back to the crypt he had appropriated,
when he heard a familiar voice. It sounded like one of the Slayer's groupies:
Xander. He hadn't seen the young man since moving out of his dank little
basement almost a week ago.
Screw it. He didn't have anything else to do. Besides, from
the stories he'd
heard, Xander was a magnet for trouble. With any luck, the kid would get
attacked by a ravening hoard of demons. The blond man followed the voice at a
He remembered something else he'd heard. He stopped by Giles's
house a few
days ago, looking to find out if there were any non-humans about that needed
to be persuaded to move on, out of town.
The little red headed witch had made some comment about Xander being
reach for the next week or two. She'd looked a little worried when she said
that he'd told her not to try to get any messages to him through his parents,
no matter how important it was.
Spike hadn't thought much of the announcement. He wasn't living
with the kid
any more; it hardly concerned him. Although...he did find himself almost
missing Xander. He supposed he'd gotten used to living with someone, was all.
A few more days of living on his own, and he'd stop wondering what the
dark-haired young man was up to, if he was remembering to eat, who might be in
the basement with him.
It wasn't as though he cared, after all.
He got a little closer to Xander. He was walking with a man, someone
had never seen before. They were talking, and laughing. The vampire could
see that Xander was still watching out for trouble, even as he chatted; life
in Sunnydale had drummed that lesson into him. Spike took a little more care
to stay out of sight, but within hearing range. It was good practice, if
Who was Xander with? The vampire couldn't remember ever having
seen him out
of the company of the Slayer and her little band of followers before. As he
listened to the young man laugh, Spike decided that he certainly sounded
happier with this stranger than he did with his friends.
He frowned. Xander was laughing an awful lot. Too much for
him to just be
walking along, talking to a friend. If he didn't know better, he'd have sworn
that the kid was flirting with his companion. But that was impossible, wasn't
After following a bit longer, Spike was forced to admit that Xander
definitely flirting with the other man, who was showing no hesitation in
flirting back. What the hell was going on?
Xander walked the stranger to an apartment complex, where they paused
of a door. As the man fumbled with a key, Spike drifted closer, wanting to be
sure that he could eavesdrop.
After the door was open, the stranger turned and smiled at Xander.
Xan," he said, a wide grin crossing his face. "Would you like to come in?
Night's not over yet."
With a grin of his own, Xander shook his head. "Can't, sorry.
I've still got
to finish cleaning up." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Maybe some
The other man laughed, calling out a good night as he shut the door.
waited, and once the lock could be heard slamming home, he turned and walked
back the way he had come.
Spike trailed after him. How very interesting. The last
he'd known, Xander
was involved with that used-to-be-demon Anya, yet here he was, asking for a
rain check after being propositioned by a man. The vampire couldn't leave
now, not until he found out what was going on.
He followed Xander to an out of the way club that he had passed by many
without ever noticing it. The young man opened the front door with a key and
slipped inside. Spike spent several minutes swearing softly to himself until
he was able to find a third story window with a broken lock. He'd had to
dangle from the roof to do it, but he was finally inside.
The club was set up simply. A bar at one end, a dance floor in
and a stage at the other end. Behind the bar, there were a series of offices
and storage rooms. The entire building had extraordinarily high ceilings, so
the club was more one big room, with several smaller partitioned sections,
then anything else. Different lights were suspended from a cat walk near the
ceiling, which Spike used to move around on, and watch the man below him.
Xander was working behind the bar, putting bottles away, wiping up spills,
in general cleaning up. He hummed tunelessly to himself as he did so. Spike
noticed that he was moving rather stiffly, but because it was going on four in
the morning, he figured the man was just worn out.
Once the bar was put to rights, Xander moved on to the rest of the club,
wiping down tables that lined the walls, and sweeping the floor. Once the
place was in order, the dark-haired man grabbed a bundle of clothes and walked
into one of the two areas that was actually ceilinged and walled off properly:
a private bathroom in the office. The other area was the public restroom for
the club. Spike heard a shower turn on.
A few minutes later, the young man emerged with wet hair, dressed in
oversized t-shirt and flannel pants. He walked to one of the storage rooms,
where a cot had been set up. He tossed his old clothes to one side, then
collapsed back on to the cot, wrapping himself up in blankets. He shifted for
quite some time, taking longer to get comfortable than Spike could ever
When it became clear that Xander was asleep, and was going to stay that
Spike took the opportunity to do some snooping around. Yes, the club was
Jeffrey's, a small gay club that featured dancing, and dancers. The vampire
had heard of it, but hadn't ever been inside.
Apparently, this was where Xander now worked, and lived. An evil
at the corners of Spikes' mouth. What a lovely bit of blackmail. Perhaps he
wouldn't have to worry about money quite yet, after all. After all, he
reflected as he left, Xander wasn't going to want this to get out. Things
were looking up.
Spike shrugged into his leather jacket, mildly disgusted with himself. He had
spent most of the day trying to decide which would be most upsetting, what
would cause the most trouble: telling Xander that he knew what the boy was up
to and demanding money to stay quiet, or tell the Scooby Gang that their
little friend was living in the back room of a gay bar, and let them confront
him. Somehow, the vampire just couldn't bring himself to go to the Scooby
Gang. He wanted to see Xander again, and not even the pleasure of destroying
the Slayer's happy little world was worth waiting to get back over to
He drank some of the blood he had managed to buy, grimacing with distaste.
have to drink it from a glass, instead of sucking it from living flesh, hot
and sweet, pulsing with life and energy...
As soon as he figured out how to go about it, he was going to tear those
Initiative bastards apart.
As soon the sun went down, Spike was out, heading straight for the club.
was still early on a Thursday night, so the crowd in the club wasn't all that
large. There were still a good amount of people there, however, more than the
vampire had expected. A single dancer was on the stage, moving frenetically
to the driving beat of the music. He paused after entering, sliding sideways
into the shadows with the ease of long practice.
Locating Xander was easy; the dark-haired young man was behind the bar,
pouring drinks. He was talking with the various men who lined the bar. More
than talking - he was laughing, joking...flirting. He apparently was taking
this whole gay thing seriously.
Spike made his way to a table off to the side, so that he could still
Xander, but remain out of sight until he decided what move to make. His gaze
remained locked on the bartender, never wavering.
Xander actually looked happy. Spike was surprised that he noticed,
but it was
so obvious, he supposed anyone would have. Instead of his usually pensive,
eager smile, filled with tension, the young man was grinning with pure
enjoyment, obviously relaxed. He talked freely with the people he served,
teasing them as he mixed drinks and pulled beers with confidence.
The vampire realized that the member of the Scooby Gang was repeating
gesture over and over. Every time a man leaned over the bar toward him,
trying to engage him in more intimate conversation, Xander would grin, shake
his head amusedly, and point one finger upwards.
The next time he did it, Spike followed the line of his finger, and
saw the sign hanging over the bar.
*Please Don't Cruise The Bartender*
All the rejected men took it well, laughing at the sign and accepting
unspoken decline of their offers.
The dancer on stage finished his shift, apparently; he jumped off the
and made his way over to the bar. Spike recognized him as the man whom Xander
walked home last night. He walked behind the bar, grabbing a bottled water
from under the bar. He and the dark-haired bartender exchanged laughing
comments. As the music picked up in tempo, the two of them began to dance
behind the bar, grinding suggestively against each other.
Spike clenched his teeth, fighting the urge to vamp out. The appreciative
laughs and wolf whistles of the club's patrons shrilled in his ears, grating
against his nerves. How dare they? How dare that dancer approach Xander?
Realizing the path his thoughts were taking, the vampire brought himself
control. What was wrong with him? What did it matter to him what Xander did?
This was great. It provided more blackmail material for him to use against
the boy. He forced himself to calm down, not caring to think about why he had
gotten upset in the first place.
A third man walked behind the bar, and separated the dancer and Xander,
pointing up to the sign over the bar. The patrons laughed and applauded.
Judging from the way everyone was acting, the third man, older than Xander and
the dancer both, was the manager of the club. He handed a loose over-shirt to
the dancer, who pulled it on. The dancer blew a kiss to Xander as he walked
out from behind the bar. Xander went back to mixing drinks.
Spike lost track of time as he watched Xander work. Different
their turns on stage, men laughed and talked and danced all around him, but
none of it caught his attention. All his focus was on the bartender, a trait
that he shared with the other people in the building, apparently. Everyone in
the club returned again and again to the bar, including the dancers and
manager. Xander's quirky sense of humor seemed to go over far better here
than it did with his friends.
A body moved into his field of vision, blocking his view of the bar.
had somehow avoided being approached all night, but his luck had just run out.
With a blatantly bored stare, he looked up at whoever it was. "Go away."
The man ignored him. "Why would I want to do that?" He pulled
back the other
chair at the table and sat down.
Spike really resented the implant. He was about to try a more
when he realized that this man was the dancer Xander had walked home the night
before. Perhaps he could get some useful information out of him. He did his
best to lead the conversation around to Xander, but it wasn't working. The
dancer was more interested in flirting than talking about another person.
The vampire kept trying though. His frustration prevented him
that the bar had cleared out substantially, and the music levels were turned
way down. Very few people, mostly employees of the club, remained..
A voice cut across the dancer's flirtations. "You don't want to
pick this guy
up, Dave. Trust me." Xander stood near the table, staring directly at
"I don't know, Xan, he's awfully cute."
"Yeah, he is, and just as cuddly as a rabid pit bull. Just let him go."
"I'm getting the feeling that you know him."
"You could say that." Xander's eyes never left Spikes. "This
is the guy that
Spike didn't notice the way the dancer drew away from him with an expression
of distaste, or the hostile glares sent his way by the other people who had
overheard. He was too shocked to spare any attention for them. What the hell
was Xander talking about? He hadn't known the boy was gay, hadn't suspected
until he followed him to this club.
"What the hell are you talking about, *Xan*?" he asked, leaning back
"You want a drink?" The bartender walked back to his station,
with no choice but to follow if he wanted to get the rest of the story. The
others in the club moved to the other side of the room, giving them some
"I don't like repeating myself. Exactly what the hell are you
Spike took the shot that Xander poured him, downing it in a single swallow.
The dark-haired man had poured himself a drink as well, but he didn't
shot glass to his lips. Instead, he played with it idly, staring at it
instead of looking at Spike. "Remember when I laid down some ground rules
when Giles said it was my turn to vampire-sit? Do you remember what the
number one rule was?"
The vampire frowned. "Something about never going anywhere your
even letting them see me. So what?"
"So what?" Flickers of anger colored Xander's tone. "So
you apparently broke
that rule the night you moved out. No, that's not right. You didn't break
it. You shattered it, blasted it to atoms." He looked at Spike, and saw his
blank stare. "You don't even remember it, do you?" He laughed a little, a
bitter, resigned sound.
The blond man frowned in thought. What had happened when he moved
sure why he was going along with this instead of making blackmail demands, he
searched his memory. "Do you mean when I ran into that older fellow?"
"Give the vampire a bag of A-positive. That older fellow was my
you also remember telling him to thank me for you for my hospitality? Can
"I might have said something like that."
"Great. Well, as it turns out, my dad doesn't read sarcasm real
Probably one of the reasons why it feels like we speak different languages.
He took snotty-English-vampireness for satisfied-gay-loverness."
"Yeah, that pretty much describes what I went through when I got home
that. My dad confronted me, and accused me of being gay. Mostly with his
fists, although some other house hold objects were involved." Xander picked
up his glass and threw back the amber liquid inside. "So I got mad, and told
him that yeah, I was gay."
Spike stared at him. He hadn't expected this. "Then what happened?"
"Then he finished beating the shit out of me, and kicked me out of the
Fortunately, a friend from high school told me about this place, and I took a
chance. Jeffery needed a bartender, and I needed a place to stay. Everybody
wins." There was no humor left in his voice, just a sort of wistful sadness.
The other people had drifted out of the club as the two men spoke.
shook himself, and looked at those who were left. "Anyone need an escort
home?" he called, voice cheerful once more. "Buddy system rules are still in
"Are you offering an escort home, or an *escort* home?" responded one
Spike had to fight down another surge of irritation. Of course
flirting with Xander. The young man had just announced he was gay; they had
every reason to do so. He just wished they would stop. It wasn't right,
somehow, for them to express interest in the Slayerette.
"My escort services end at the front door," Xander replied primly, even
The manager walked over. "You going to be all right?" he asked,
The bartender waved off his concern. "I'll be fine. Nobody
will be dying
Jeffery nodded, and left with the last group of people. Xander watched them
go, then poured another shot for both Spike and himself. Staring once more at
the glass as he turned it again and again in his fingers, the dark-haired man
said, "So I'm gay. And you found out. I suppose you'll be running along to
tell everyone now. I mean, you can't kill me, so why not try to ruin my life,
right? It's probably some sort of vampiric imperative."
Spike wasn't sure who was more shocked, Xander or himself, when he heard
himself say, "No, I'm not going to do that."
Xander was sure that he hadn't heard the vampire correctly. He
"What did you say?"
"I said I wasn't going to tell anyone." Even Spike looked surprised
This had to be some sort of trick, a part of a larger evil plan.
man had always been fairly good at coming up with evil plans. Still, he had
to ask. "Why not?"
Spike looked confused for a moment, then his usual sneering expression
into place. "Don't stand there and ask stupid questions, Harris. Just be
glad that I'm not going to." He tossed back the last of his drink, then stood
and stalked out of the club. Xander watched him go, too startled to make any
move to stop him.
As soon as the vampire was gone, reaction set in for the young man.
out from behind the bar and sat down abruptly in one of the chairs as he began
to shake. He wanted to make believe that he was fine, but he couldn't. He
wasn't fine, and everything wasn't going to be all right. He was shaken, and
frightened, and worried about the future.
Not to mention more than a little turned on.
Xander was gay. He had finally accepted that about himself.
He had tried to
deny it, all through high school and beyond, and now he could see the disaster
that it had made of his life. He couldn't believe his foolishness when he
looked back at his past relationships.
He cringed when he remembered how much time and effort he had put into
Buffy. The Slayer was unattainable, at least for him, but did he let that
stop him? Of course not. He had acted like an idiot over her for years, and
it was all for nothing. He had pursued her because he'd known he could never
have her. She was perfect: a woman he would never have to touch, a lover
that would never be his. Focusing on her had just allowed him to ignore his
He still wanted to kick his own ass every time he thought of Willow.
friend. Of course he had known she had thought she was in love with him: he
might not be the epitome of smart guyness, but he cared about her, and that
made her feelings obvious. So what did he do? Start pursuing her the moment
she became definitely off-limits. Once again, he had chased her because he
didn't believe she could be caught.
Cordelia was an obvious choice for him to chase: with her Prom
and snob ways, he wasn't sure who was more surprised that she'd actually dated
him, her or him. In the end, it didn't matter. It had been just one more
He wasn't even going to get into Faith. He'd had his Recommended
Allowance of self-loathing for the night, thank you very much.
And now Anya. He had broken up with her right after he had gotten
of his parents' house. He just couldn't stand to live the lie any more, and
she was a major part of it. Xander wasn't sure what had driven him to pursue
her, except for a latent death wish that he didn't seem able to kick.
The dark-haired man stood, and walked back over to the bar. He
began to clean
up, but his attention was fixed firmly inwards. He found it extremely ironic,
and a little frightening, that the men he was attracted to were almost as bad
as the women he had tried to convince himself he wanted. In trying to force
himself into a heterosexual role, he had gone after the Slayer, a witch, a
Prom Queen, various supernaturally-influenced girls, and a former vengeance
The men? There really weren't that many. He'd done a good
job of denial.
Cleopatra had nothing on him.
Angel. Xander was impressed by how well he'd managed to fool himself,
everyone else, into believing that he hated the souled vampire with a passion
that verged on religious fervor.
More like he had wanted the taller man so bad he could barely stand
to be in
the same room and not jump him.
That relationship had been as screwed-up as any he'd ever had with a
More, actually. It couldn't even really be called a relationship, except
maybe in a Jerry Springer sort of way, and Xander refused to believe that his
life was so messed up that it had to be classified in Springer terminology.
And now Spike. Spike, with his delicious accent, his cutting humor,
lovely pale skin. Spike, exuding menace and vampiric sexiness all over the
place, everywhere he went. Sometimes Xander was surprised not to find
physical traces of the other man's appeal on everything he touched, as if his
attractiveness were a substance he actually oozed.
He'd always been attracted to the vampire. He knew that now that
finally admitting the truth to himself. The fact that he didn't have to fear
for his life every time he saw him now only added to his interest. Oh, the
adrenaline-producing edge of menace was still there, thankfully, only now the
unpleasant incapacitating terror aspect of it had vanished.
Xander found himself liking Spike. The blond man's nasty comments
really bothered him; growing up in his house had rendered him immune to verbal
abuse. Hell, hanging out with the rest of the Scooby Gang had made sure he
was invulnerable. He wasn't sure if any words would ever be able to faze
So, to sum up, he had pretty much added a non-souled vampire to his
Jerry Springer class was too good for him.
Xander finished restoring the bar to order and cleaning the club.
all the doors, and officially took himself off duty. He got ready to sleep.
The first part of that was taking a long shower in Jeffrey's office. His
bruises from his final encounter with his father were fading, and the hot
water helped to soothe a lot of the pain away. He was just glad that no
damage had been done to his face; that way, if he didn't want someone to know
what happened, they didn't have to.
Wet hair tousled and sticking up all over, he pulled on soft pyjamas
his way to his cot, shutting off lights behind him as he went. He still hurt,
so finding a comfortable position to sleep in presented a bit of a challenge.
Still, Xander managed. It wasn't as though it had been the worst beating he'd
Xander wasn't looking forward to tomorrow. He was going to go
and talk to
Buffy, Giles, and Willow. He still didn't know what to tell them. He wasn't
ready to come out to them yet, but he was worried that Spike was going to tell
them what had happened, so he thought that he might just have to.
He did need to tell them that he was only really free to help patrol
down the demon-of-the-week in the early evenings; late at night, he was needed
at the club. He liked working at Jeffrey's, more than he thought he would.
He didn't want to lose his place here, or make Jeffery regret giving him a
chance. For about the hundredth time, he realized how grateful he was that
Larry had told him about this place.
He also had to give the Scooby Gang his new phone number. Jeffrey
him a cell phone, so he would always be able to reach his boss, and vice
versa. He needed to let them know that this would be the way to contact him,
since they weren't going to know where he was living.
As soon as Xander thought that, he realized what was going through his
He wasn't going to tell his friends the whole story of the past couple of
weeks. He was just going to tell them that he'd moved out of his parents,
that he had a new job and a new place to stay, and leave it at that. It
wasn't as though they would ask him a whole lot of questions about the
changes: at best, they only showed minimal interest in his non-college-going,
He also realized that this meant he was going to trust Spike not to
anything, either. He called himself every name for fool he could come up
with, but his decision stayed the same. For some reason, he was trusting the
vampire, believing that he would keep his unexpected promise not to tell.
As he drifted off to sleep, Xander wondered what was going on with Spike.
And, just for a fraction of a second, he allowed himself to wonder if there
might be the chance for something more between them, something other than the
usual sarcastic-barb-trading impasse they'd been at for so long.
Xander shifted nervously, gaze flicking quickly from Willow's face,
Buffy's, to Giles's. He avoided looking at Anya. "So, uh, that's about it, I
guess. You've got my new number, and my work schedule."
Blank stares met his announcement. Well, good, then. That
meant nothing had
changed. Xander had been agonizing over how to make the announcement to the
Scooby Gang about his move. After his run-in with Spike two nights ago, he
knew he couldn't put it off any longer.
Fortunately, the news that he was living somewhere else was met with
enthusiasm every announcement he had ever met was: with all the interest that
was usually given to an old man in a nursing home when he started rambling on
about the olden days. He didn't have to give any reason for the move, and no
one asked where he was working, or even where he would be living.
Xander backed up, moving until he was sitting on the arm of Giles's
soon as he was no longer in the center of the room, conversation resumed. The
dark-haired young man sat quietly, trying to dredge up interest as Willow and
Buffy discussed college with Giles. So long as he was paying attention to
them, he wouldn't have to look over at Anya. At this point, he figured the
former vengeance demon would have had time to get over her surprise over their
break-up, and would be well on her way to feeling pissed.
Xander had had enough trouble dealing with angry, fully mortal women;
really didn't want to find out how Anya would decide to make his life
After the meeting, Xander trailed along behind Buffy on patrol.
He'd seen the
concerned look Willow had sent his way, after she'd managed to spare some
attention for him. He really didn't want to answer any of her questions, so
he'd volunteered to go with Buffy. As he had suspected, the Slayer only
wanted to talk about the new guy in her life.
What kind of name was Riley, anyway?
After listening the Buffy prattle on for a couple of hours, he excused
himself, saying that he had to get to work. She had barely noticed he was
going. Xander did wonder if she was just going to talk to herself. At least
that way her audience would be interested.
He walked back to Jeffrey's slowly. There was still almost an
hour before his
shift behind the bar started, so there was no need to hurry. He did something
he rarely did anymore: just walked through Sunnydale. No demons chasing him,
no apocalypse to be averted, no answer to a prophecy-riddle to be found. Just
him, walking the streets. It was almost nice, in a way. It was a tiny bit of
normality in his life.
"Just out for a stroll, then?"
Xander managed to restrain the shriek that welled up in his chest, but
He had lived his entire life in Sunnydale, survived his high school years as
a Slayerette, and somehow Spike *still* managed to appear out of nowhere. The
blond vampire was walking beside him, but refusing to look at him.
The dark-haired young man took a deep breath to steady himself.
not be able to attack him, but that didn't mean he shouldn't be wary. After
all, the vampire still had the power to destroy what was left of his life.
"I'm on my way to work, actually. Just taking the scenic route, I guess." He
glanced at the other man out of the corner of his eye. "And you? You can't
kill anyone, so what are you doing? Window shopping?"
Spike didn't react at all to his jibe. Still not looking at Xander,
man asked abruptly, "Is it true?" His voice was low, intense, without its
usual mocking edge.
"Is what true?"
"Did you really get kicked out of your house because of me?"
Xander wasn't sure how to answer. He wanted to blame Spike for
it, it would
be easier to just pass the blame along and lay it on the vampire, but that
wouldn't be the whole truth. Forcing a grin, he shook his head. "Don't give
yourself too much credit. You started the whole thing, but if I had kept my
mouth shut, I could have gotten off with a beating. Instead, I ran my mouth,
told the truth. That's what got me kicked out." He took a quick look back
over his shoulder, just in case. They were in one of the more deserted areas
of Sunnydale now.
Spike glanced at him quickly, and looked as though he wanted to say
Before he could, the trouble that Xander had been anticipating materialized,
in the form of a gang of purple, horned demons.
Xander took one out immediate, more as a result of luck than anything
How was he supposed to know that whacking one in the nose would knock him out
of commission? The second one took a little more effort, but still went down.
The third? The third was a bitch. Apparently he was upset
taking out his friends, so he protected his nose and did what he could to take
the young man down.
As Xander was slammed into a brick wall by repeated blows, he reflected
being "the normal one" sucked. Why couldn't he have super strength or magic
powers? He was the person that read comic books, damn it; he'd appreciate the
powers, savor them and use them as they deserved.
Realizing the path his thoughts were taking, Xander decided he must
a couple of blows to the head.
Suddenly, the demon was pulled backwards and thrown to the ground with
devastating force. Spike was on top of the purple hulk in a matter of
moments, raining down blows and curses with equal fury. After he began to
repeat himself, the vampire drew himself up and landed a single, decisive blow
on the demon's nose.
Xander glanced around dazedly. The gang was incapacitated; Spike
care of his share of the demons before coming to help Xander.
Strong hands closed on his upper arms. "Are you all right?"
man tried to remember the correct response. The hands shook him gently.
"Damn it, Xander, answer me!"
Shaking his head, he managed to clear his mind up enough to answer.
yeah I'm fine." Which was almost true. He was going to have a few beautiful
bruises, especially where his back had slammed into the wall, but he'd live.
He'd had worse. Compared to some of his encounters in the past, he'd been
lucky. After all, Spike had gotten to him before any real damage had been
done. Give him a few days, and he'd be almost good as new.
Spike held onto him, until he finally had his feet firmly beneath himself.
licked his lips, and met the vampire's gaze. "Thank you." He didn't want it
to sound too serious, though, so he quickly added, "I know you were just
enjoying the whole causing bodily harm to others thing, but it saved my ass,
so I appreciated." He backed away, heading toward the club.
The vampire once more fell in step beside him. They walked in
silence for a
few minutes, then Spike said firmly, "You can't do this anymore."
"What? Get my ass kicked? I've been doing it for years.
I think I'm almost
ready to turn pro, move on to the major leagues."
"Not that. Well, yes, that too, idiot. But I mean you can't
around alone. And you definitely can't be walking people home from the club.
I mean, look at what just happened, and I was there with you. Imagine what
would have happened if you'd had one of those nancy-boy dancers with you. You
could be dead!"
"Hey, I'm a nancy-boy bartender, remember? We poufs need to stick
Xander frowned. Spike sounded genuinely upset. It was almost like he cared.
But that couldn't be right, could it? There was no reason for the vampire to
be so concerned, unless he cared. The dark-haired man decided to push the
issue. "You're right. Sunnydale is dangerous. But if I don't make sure they
get home safe, who's going to?" By now, they had reached the entrance to
Spike stared at him, eyes searching his face for something. What,
no clue. The vampire opened his mouth to speak, then abruptly turned and
walked off, disappearing into the shadow.
Xander stared after him. What was that about? He shook off
his confusion, at
least for the moment. He had a shift to work; he could brood about all this
later, in his bed after the club shut down.
He made his way back to the store room, threading through the dancing
Once there, he pulled on a fresh shirt for work, brushed his hair, and was
ready to go. On his way to the bar, he greeted the patrons that he knew,
laughing at their jokes and telling his own. Xander was mildly surprised to
realize that he enjoyed working, something he had thought impossible. But
this, pouring drinks and talking to people, this he could handle.
Throwing himself into the rhythm of the job, Xander soon managed to
events from earlier that evening out of his mind. By the time the club was
closing down, he was tired, but he was also in a far better mood than he had
Dave walked over to him as he was wiping down the bar, and slung a friendly
arm around his neck. "Xan, buddy, pal, compadre, I need a favor." He smiled
winningly at the bartender.
Well-aquainted with the dancer's tactics by now, Xander shook his head
away the rag he had been using. "Let me grab a coat, and I'll walk you
"Xan, are you psychic?" Dave asked with exaggerated amazement.
Remembering his wishes for a super-power, Xander snorted and shook his
"Nope. You, my friend, are predictable." He walked to the back and caught up
his jacket, shrugging it on as they left the club.
Already feeling the bruises from his last encounter with the evil that
infested Sunnydale, Xander kept a hyper-vigilant watch around them, not
wanting to repeat the experience. The hairs on the back of his neck were
raised, and he couldn't shake the feeling they were being followed. He rushed
Dave as they walked, not wanting to be outside and in danger any longer than
It was only because of his extra care in watching that he saw it.
A flash of
blond hair, lit briefly by a flickering street lamp as the vampire crossed the
street a few blocks behind them. Spike was following them, but didn't want to
Correction: Spike was following Xander.
Xander didn't allow himself to hope. Spike could be doing this
for his own
obscure reasons. Just because Xander had said he was going to continue
walking people home, and Spike had protested that it was too dangerous, didn't
mean that the vampire was following him to try to protect him. In secret,
without Xander finding out. It could be something else entirely.
A grin played around the corners of Xander's mouth. It didn't
But it could mean everything.
For the next couple of weeks, Xander didn't see Spike at all.
didn't come back to Jeffrey's. Xander would have noticed; he looked for the
other man almost constantly, scanning all the back tables in the shadows for
him every night. No slender frame in a dark coat hunched over a beer met his
gaze. No darkly sardonic eyes, no little cloud of gloom concentrated over a
The vampire hadn't shown up at any of the Scooby Gang meetings, either.
Xander had to sit through the little gatherings on his own, avoiding Anya's
angry gaze and listening to Buffy and Willow prattle on about their new
college lives. There was nothing to distract him. No cynical little
declarations of hatred. No scathing sarcastic comments.
No hard muscled body in a tight black T-shirt.
Xander realized he hadn't been quite accurate. He hadn't actually
but he'd known the other man was around. He'd felt his presence, a shadow
that never left him, a ghost always trailing along behind him. He hadn't seen
the blond again, though, not since that first night he'd seen Spike following
The dark-haired man tried to keep himself occupied, so he wouldn't brood
Spike, or why the vampire was following him. He'd been kicked in the teeth
often enough that he didn't want to leave himself open for another blow by
hoping, but he couldn't really help it. There had to be a reason Spike kept
following him. The whole situation was insane; was it really so crazy to
think the vampire was doing it because he cared? Because he felt something
like what Xander did?
So Xander spent a lot of time patrolling, and ducking Willow's occasional
flares of interest in his life. Fortunately, they were experiencing a
freakishly quiet period in Sunnydale, so the fact that he was distracted by
his hidden shadow really didn't matter all that much.
Although a nice little demon attack might have managed to flush Spike
the darkness, if nothing else.
Xander was getting more and more comfortable working at Jeffrey's.
was more a father to him then his own had ever been, and the dancers and other
bartenders teased him as much as he imagined siblings would. And he had
finally gotten the hang of the whole bartending thing. He wasn't Tom Cruise
in "Cocktail", not by a long shot, but he had a few moves of his own that
seemed to be quite the crowd pleasers.
He still made it a rule to walk home anyone who asked him. Like
about to do, he could tell.
That dancer walked toward him, grinning widely. "Xan, my man,"
"I'm not your man," Xander shot back, with a grin of his own.
"That could change, Xan. Just say the word." Dave moved
in close to him,
running a teasing hand up Xander's arm.
The dark-haired man shook his head. "I don't think so, Dave.
You're not the
The dancer nodded. "I know," he said seriously. "But he's
out there, Xan.
You'll find him soon, I'm sure."
Not if he kept lurking around in the shadows, Xander thought, but he
"You bet. Ready to go?" He led the way out of the club, locking the door
behind them. He didn't mind walking Dave home, which was a good thing,
because the dancer often needed him to. It was nice to talk to someone who
genuinely liked him for himself.
As they walked they spoke idly, laughing over things that had happened
night in the club. Xander was distracted, though. Something wasn't quite
right. He began to keep a stricter watch on their surroundings. That was the
only thing that gave him any warning as the group of men charged into the
"Dave, get out of here!" Xander shouted, beginning to run himself.
member of the Scooby Gang he might be, but taking on five guys was definitely
out of his league. Dave made it, getting away clean down a side path. Xander
wasn't so lucky.
Rough hands grabbed him in punishing grips, and he was thrown back against
brick wall. Harsh words in low voices came to his ears.
"...show him what he deserves!"
Ah, not demons then. Just ordinary, run-of-the-mill gay bashers,
bashers who were apparently set on bashing him.
Xander struck back viciously, doing his best to fight his way free.
way of thinking, these guys were worse than demons. They were human beings;
why couldn't they act like it? There was only so much he could do against
five other guys, however, and he knew he was going to get hurt.
"Get your bloody hands off him!"
Spike? No! Throwing a punch that left one of the men down
on the ground,
hands clutching his stomach, the bartender shouted, "Damnit, Spike, these guys
are human. Stay out of it!" The vampire could only get hurt; he wouldn't be
able to defend himself.
Two of Xander's attackers were gone; presumably to take care of Spike.
Working as a Slayerette all through high school had taught him quite a bit.
So had his short experience in being a soldier. Both these things added up to
help him do enough damage to the two men still standing in front of them to
drive them off. They picked up the man on the ground, and staggered away,
back down the alley.
He turned his attention to the remaining two men. He watched in
Spike, obviously in agony, managed to smash one of them across the face with a
length of pipe. Xander didn't wait to see what happened next. He picked up a
discarded piece of wood and began to do his best to do as much damage as
possible. Soon, those two were retreating as well, without even any threats
or slurs to throw over their shoulders.
It was just as well; Xander didn't have any attention to spare for them.
was too focused on the man before him, who was groaning and clutching his
head. "Are you all right?" he asked. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine," the vampire ground out. He allowed Xander to haul
him to his
feet. "It's just this damned chip."
The dark-haired man pulled out his cell-phone. He punched in a
Dave? Good, you made it home, man. No, I'm fine. I'm fine! Don't worry.
I've got someone here with me, and I'm going back to the club. I'm fine!
Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow." He put the phone away. One of Spike's arms
thrown over his shoulder, he made his way back to Jeffrey's.
He was surprised as the vampire allowed him to manhandle him into a
Hell, he was surprised Spike was allowing himself to be manhandled at all.
"Are you all right?" he asked again, hovering worriedly.
"I told you I'm fine." The vampire looked up at him, gaze suddenly
piercing. "Are you hurt?"
"Me? Not really. They didn't have much of a chance to do
anything before you
showed up. Speaking of, what the hell were you thinking?"
"I was thinking that it looked like you were going to get your ass kicked!"
"Those guys were human, Spike. You can't fight against humans,
that implant going wiggy inside your skull." Xander heard his voice rising,
but couldn't stop it. "You should have stayed out of it. You could've been
hurt! I don't want that to happen." He managed to shut himself up. He'd
almost gone too far. He didn't want to reveal too much of his feelings, not
without knowing more about how Spike felt.
He looked away, not wanting to give anything away with his expression.
Sighing heavily, he sat down in a chair beside Spike. He heard the vampire
mutter something, but couldn't make out the words. "What?"
"I said, I couldn't stay out of it." Spike stared down at his
raised his head and met Xander's gaze. "I couldn't just stand there and watch
you get hurt. Damn it, I had to try to do something, anything." He shook his
head, and stared off into space. "I can't let you get hurt." He voice was
low, tight with tension.
Xander stared at him. Couldn't let him get hurt? Hope lit
a flame inside
him, kindling warmth and pleasant surprise. That didn't sound like a
merciless killer. It sounded like someone who felt the same way he did.
He studied Spike's profile carefully. The vampire looked a little
little nervous. It was an honest expression. Xander decided to take a
chance. He stood up slowly, and approached the other man. Spike looked up at
the dark-haired man as he moved to stand close to him, between the seated
Xander leaned forward slowly, telegraphing his intentions as clearly
could. He raised a hand, and placed it on Spike's shoulder, rubbing his thumb
against the pale sweep of the blond man's neck. He locked his gaze with
Spike's, trying to read the dark eyes and the thoughts behind them. He saw
questions there, and the first licking flames of heat. That heat added to the
warmth inside him, reinforcing the hope he felt. He inclined his head
slightly, and closed his eyes as he pressed his lips to the other man's.
He savored the soft contact, but kept it brief. He straightened
legs shaky, his breathing unsteady. Despite his hope, he was worried about
what expression he would see on Spike's face.
Steeling himself, Xander opened his eyes.
Spike held himself completely motionless, still able to feel the warmth
Xander's lips on his own. He wasn't sure how this had happened. He had never
thought he would feel like this for one of the Slayer's friends. Hell, he
never thought he'd feel like this for anyone.
He'd known intense attraction, combined with love and hatred both. Angel.
He'd known obsessive, destructive love. Drusilla.
He'd known lust intermixed with contempt. Harmony.
But he'd never know this emotion before. It was protective, and
There was lust there, of course, but it was tempered with a need to see the
other man happy. He wasn't sure if this was love, real pure love, but he
couldn't imagine anything else feeling any better.
It was strange. He couldn't hurt Xander, but not because of the
his head. That had been the beginning of it, but not anymore. At first he
had tried telling himself that the reason he was following the dark-haired man
was that he wanted to make sure the bartender stayed healthy long enough to be
blackmailed. Eventually, he couldn't convince himself of that any longer.
He tried to tell himself that he was protecting Xander because he couldn't
hurt the Slayerette, so no one else could either. Obviously, he was making
sure the other man stayed alive until he could have the pleasure of killing
Soon, he couldn't believe that lie either. He was protecting Xander,
his nights outside Jeffrey's, or following the bartender while on patrol with
the Scooby Gang or acting as an escort for one of his co-workers, simply
because he wanted to make sure Xander was safe. He wanted to watch him. He
wanted to protect him. He wanted *him*.
All this passed through his mind in the matter of seconds; he had been
brooding over these thoughts for most of the week. Now the time for thought
was over. It was time to act.
Smiling, he looked up and met Xander's eyes. Licking his lips,
he reached out
and placed his hands on the standing man's hips. With a gentle tug, Spike
pulled him closer. Not knowing what to say, he chose to say nothing.
Instead, he stood slowly, invading Xander's space, hands still on his hips.
He kept his gaze locked with the mortal's. He saw no fear in them,
a fact he
found strangely pleasing. Dark brown eyes grew darker as arousal caused the
pupils to dilate. Xander's breath was quickening; Spike was so close he could
feel the rapid pants of air against his skin.
He leaned forward, covering the other man's mouth with his own.
Sweet. The vampire soon lost himself in the sensation, in the smooth glide of
tongue against tongue. He pulled Xander's hips against his, grinding their
groins together. He was vaguely aware of fingers clenched in his hair, a hand
wandering over his back. He let his own hands roam, mapping the lines of the
other man's body, learning by touch what he had been studying with his eyes
for so long.
He wasn't sure how much time had passed when Xander wrenched his head
to the side, breaking contact. He was breathless, lips wet and swollen.
"Is something wrong?" Spike asked, not relinquishing his hold on the
He wasn't going to let him go, not now. Not when they were so close to what
they both wanted.
"I haven't finished shutting this place down," Xander said.
Spike stared at him in disbelief. "You're thinking about work?"
was incredulous. The most stunning kiss he'd ever experienced, a heady rush
of so many emotions he couldn't even track them all, and the whole time the
dark-haired man had been thinking of *work*?
Xander shook his head, and grabbed Spike's head. He kissed the
fiercely, but briefly. He rested his forehead against the blond man's. "I'm
thinking that I want to spend the rest of the night figuring out a thousand
different ways to make you scream and beg for more, and I don't want to have
the fact that I've still got so much to do hanging over my head, distracting
me." His voice was serious, and hoarse with desire.
Hardly able to believe it, Spike heard himself say, "I'll help."
not? It would be over sooner. The two of them made short work of the few
remaining parts f the club that needed to be put to rights. Spike used the
opportunity to bring himself back under control. He was fairly certain that
this was the first time Xander had done anything, with a man, anyway. He
didn't want to rush this. Besides, he told himself, reasserting some of his
evil vampire spirit, just for his self-image, if he hurt the mortal, his
implant would go off.
And that Spike wouldn't be able to.
As soon as they were done, Xander was back at his side, gaze nervous
hungry, locked on Spike's face. The vampire reached out and traced a finger
down his cheek. A thought occurred to him. "You've only got a cot here,
Xander groaned. "Damn it. I forgot." He chewed at
his lower lip. "But
closer quarters are good, right?"
"Definitely right," Spike whispered, lowering his head to nuzzle at
ear, feeling the warmth of his skin, and the brush of soft hair against his
skin. "But if we're going to be looking for ways to make each other scream, a
little breathing room will be good."
The dark-haired man laughed breathlessly. "But I'll be the only
Spike growled at him, and grabbed his arm. "Do you have your keys?"
"Good." The vampire began to drag Xander out of the club.
"We are *not* going back to your crypt," the bartender stated firmly
locked the door to Jeffrey's.
Spike repressed a grin. "Right. We're not going there."
The last demon he'd
come across had quite the hidden packet of money in a back pocket. The blond
man had helped himself to it after breaking its owner's neck. He was having
trouble coming up with a better way to spend it then on Xander. A satisfied
smile played around the corners of his mouth as he felt the weight in one of
his coat pockets of the thing he'd spent some of the money on earlier. At the
time, he had thought it was just wishful thinking that he'd get to use it, but
now he was glad he'd followed through on the impulse.
He led his soon-to-be-lover through Sunnydale, barely able to spare
attention for potential danger, so distracted was he by the feel of warm skin
under his hand as he kept a hold of Xander's arm as they walked through the
When Xander realized where they were going, he stopped. "Spike,"
protested, a blush mounting in his cheeks, "this is a hotel. An expensive
Spike watched his color deepen with appreciation. Standing close
to the other
man, he smiled. "It is where one usually finds beds, isn't it? Of course, we
could always drop by Giles's place, ask if we can use his extra bed-"
Xander shook his head furiously. "Nope. That's not necessary.
good. Sometimes they even give you free mints, and I'm sure Giles wouldn't do
The vampire led the way into the hotel, aware that Xander was still
embarrassed. He surprised himself yet again by not making a big deal about
getting a room, just for the pleasure of seeing the man behind the desk's face
prune up. Instead, he got the room quickly and quietly, and brought Xander
there without drawing anymore attention to them then he had to.
Once inside the room, Spike turned to Xander. Before he could
his mouth was taken in a hard kiss. The vampire responded hungrily, walking
backwards and pulling his lover along with him. The back of his knees hit the
bed, and then he was sprawled on his back, with the warm weight of the
dark-haired man sprawled across him.
Spike busied his fingers, tugging at Xander's shirt, pulling it up and
his head. He grinned at the unhappy noises the other man made when their
mouths were forced to separate. The bartender was quick to reciprocate,
tearing at Spike's clothing until he was bare-chested as well.
Warm hands skimmed over the vampire's chest, and were followed by a
mouth. Spike groaned appreciatively, anchoring his fingers in thick dark
hair. When Xander's tongue dragged slowly across one nipple, then the next,
Spike couldn't remain passive any longer. He flipped them over, moving so
that he was straddling the mortal's hips.
He leaned down and claimed another kiss, refusing to break contact until
worried about lack of oxygen for his lover. He leaned back, admiring the
flushed, dazed face below him, before reaching over and grabbing his jacket,
which was laying on the bed beside them.
"Going somewhere?" asked a rich, amused voice.
"No, love just fetching something for later," he replied, reaching into
deep pocket and pulling out what lay inside. He tossed the clothing onto the
floor and placed the articles on the bed. The body beneath him grew still as
Xander stared at the tube of lubricant.
Shit, had he ruined everything? Was he pushing things too fast?
to regret his actions, then Xander moaned and thrust upwards with his hips.
Relief flowing through him, the vampire ground his own pelvis against the one
below him, gasping at the feel of a hard length against his own.
The dark-harried man reached up and grabbed his neck, forcibly hauling
face down until it was inches from his own. "I hope you didn't bring that
just for show," he breathed, eyes nearly black.
"If you're sure," Spike whispered back, not wanting to risk a
misunderstanding, not when they were so close.
Xander grinned up at him, arching his hips to press himself against
vampire. "What do you think?"
"I think it's time those pants came off," Spike said, reaching down
the buttons. With Xander's enthusiastic help, they were soon naked, wrapped
around each other, reveling in the feel of bare skin against skin.
The blond man nipped and kissed and sucked at every inch of Xander's
could reach, until his lover was moaning continuously, hips thrusting upwards
mindlessly in search of release. Placing his lips beside an ear, the vampire
whispered, "Are you ready?", then licked at the delicate skin.
The body beneath his shuddered, but Xander's voice was firm. "If
"You'll stake me?" Spike asked, lavishing wet attention on the other ear.
Laughing, Xander replied, "I was hoping you'd 'stake' me, but if you
Spike silenced him with a kiss. "I'll be doing the staking tonight,"
kissing his way down the body beneath him. When he reached Xander's erection,
he gently sucked the hard flesh into his mouth, laving it with his tongue as
held the other man's hips still.
When Xander was once more incoherent with need and want, the vampire
out and grabbed the lube, using it to carefully and generously prepare his
lover. He wanted to tell himself that he was doing so to avoid giving the
implant any chance to act up, but the truth was he wanted this to be good for
Xander, so good that the other man would want it again and again. So good
that he would never want another.
He hooked Xander's knees over his shoulders, and slowly pressed inside
other man. Once fully inside, he leaned down and sealed his mouth over his
lover's, nearly gasping form the feeling of the tight heat, the wonderful
closeness. He thrust slowly, deeply, quickening the pace as Xander's moans and
"So good...so right...oh, god, Spike, please..." His voice was
He mercilessly drove both of them toward completion, lunging forward
his lover, swallowing Xander's final cry, and giving him his own triumphant
Spike slumped, collapsing down on top of Xander, exhausted and spent.
wrapped his arms around his lover, rolling over and pulling the dark-haired
man to lie across him, needing the contact.
Xander's eyes were heavy-lidded, his face still flushed. "Wow,"
softly, staring into Spike's eyes.
"Wow, indeed, love," the vampire agreed, running his fingers through
sweaty hair. He saw that Xander was still staring at him. "What?" he asked,
In answer, the other man reached out and traced a finger across Spike's
It was then that the vampire realized he was wearing his game face. "Shit,
I'm sorry, Xander," he said quickly, forcing himself back into human guise,
"it happens sometimes."
The dark-haired man cut him off, not letting him continue. "It's
I understand. You are a vampire," here his voice faltered a little, but he
pressed on, "and it's bound to happen, right?" He swallowed hard, but refused
to look away. "It's part of you."
Spike stared at him. He'd never expected something like this.
Xander. It was time he began to look at the other man as something other than
one of the Slayer's groupies. He'd begun to do so, but not enough, obviously.
Not if Xander's acceptance, or at least will to try to accept, was so
He pulled Xander's head closer to his, sharing a gentle kiss.
He felt the
mortal grow heavier against him, feeling his breath slow as he drifted toward
sleep. Spike held him closer, treasuring the warmth of the sleeping body. He
closed his eyes as well, but he had no intention of sleeping. He'd never held
a lover as they slept, never felt the pleasure and tenderness of watching over
someone he cared for as they lay in his arms. He hoped it was something he'd
have the chance to get used to. Pressing a kiss to Xander's brow, he settled
himself down for the night, experiencing and wondering and loving the man in