Take Care: Pain

By: Highlander II

Rating: R (leaning toward NC-17 for imagery); language, homoerotic sexual situations
Spoilers: None
Summary: Fic-let written as follow-up to a 'Secret Santa' gift for robintcj at the BtVS_Santa LJ. It follows canon through the end of season 5, keeps with canon, but with a little twist. This piece takes place during the events of "First Date" and continues from events in "Later".
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Joss Whedon and are property of Kuzui/Kuzui Entertainment, Mutant Enemy Productions, WB, UPN, FOX etc. etc.
Feedback: Highlander II

"You off?"

He turned to the voice from the stairs and tried not to cringe. "Yeah." He put on his brave face. "Just a trip out for a bit. Hardware store. Buffy needs some stronger wood for new stakes and bolts for the crossbows."

Spike nodded. "Twigs we' been using not cutting it?"

"Something like that." He shrugged on his jacket, more as a sign he was leaving than any weather-related need. "Keep an eye on things."

Spike nodded as Xander turned to go. He pulled the door closed and took a deep breath. Hardware store. Hardware store. He walked down the stairs, down the sidewalk and down the street.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse... okay, well, I thought they were getting better. I met a nice girl who needed some rope to tie up her kayak. I really should know better than to try to help people. Or, at least the beautiful women variety. All that TV I watch, I should know it leads to no good. That 'demon magnet' thing I have.

So, my day went from 'not too bad' to 'absolutely fucking awful'. You don't agree? I'm half naked, tied to some huge wooden wheel and dangling over a giant demonic seal that likes to eat blood. I don't think this qualifies as a good day.

He begged and pleaded; he didn't want to die. It was a long way down to the seal. The ropes were digging red channels into his wrists and ankles. He wanted to go back to Buffy's house; even to hear the thud-thumping of fifty teenage girl feet all over the house. Anywhere but here - he had deviated from 'Amy Yipp at the waterslide park' - this was bad.

Then there was a sharp pain in the right side of his gut. A piercing pain and he could feel the blood - his blood - seeping from his body. He didn't look down. He couldn't. But he knew the blood was dripping onto the seal.

This is such a bad day.

He heard voices and grunts and fists connecting with flesh. Someone was fighting someone else. For a moment he was able to focus enough to recognize one of the voices... "Buffy!" he called. Then one of his arms fell away from the wheel. Moments later his other arm was free, then his legs and a solid body helped him lean against a wall.

There was first aid, lumbering movement, a car, several minutes of calm, quiet darkness, then chattering. Some British guy was talking in his head. "Go away." He swatted at the noise, but his hand stopped moving. "Damn, my hand's broken."

"Shut up, you nit. Your hand's fine. Y'almost stabbed me in the eye. Wake up."

"Huh?" He sat up, patted at his abdomen and winced at the crick in his neck. "Oh. Yay, me." He took a deep breath as he sat back and leaned against Spike's shoulder. "Sleep now. Wake me up when we get there."

"We're there," Spike said with a sigh. "Come on now. Out you get."

He felt rather steady on his feet as he was helped from the car. He heard himself ranting as he made his way into the house. Some of it made sense, but much of it sounded like gibberish to him and something about Scott Bakula.

Giles started yelling; he was paying attention, but mostly he wanted to sleep. He had had a hard day, a long day and rest was looking really good. The yelling and scary flashcards stopped and someone strong and solid helped him up the stairs to a soft bed. He assumed it was Dawn's room - it smelled like her perfume. Then, the sweet mother darkness of sleep wrapped around him and nothing else mattered.

He woke the next morning, tucked into the bed, warm and comfortable. He rolled over and found his wound had been cleaned and bandaged. Looking around the room, he saw he was alone - no potentials, no Scoobies, no Spike. Nothing. Just Xander and a folded sheaf of paper beside his head on the pillow. He sat up carefully and looked at the paper. It was addressed to him in a masculine, yet flowing, hand. A frown fell over his face as he picked it up and unfolded it. It wasn't dated, but it had to have been written recently. The paper was still neat with no creases other than the deliberate fold in the middle. Before he ever saw the signature, he knew who had written the letter.

He took a deep breath and began to read:


Yeah, I'm writing this letter. You told me to.

"Didn't mean you actually had to write a letter," he muttered, then continued.

'sides, it's bloody boring sitting down here in this sodding basement all day with nothing to do. No one to talk to. So, you can see why I might relish any bit of company.

He crumpled the letter and shoved it under the pillow. 'Scooted himself down under the covers again as he heard someone coming to the door. The door slid open and a blonde female stepped into the shadows of the room. He smelled something fruity, flowery. He took another breath and recognized the scent of Buffy's perfume. "Hey, Buff."

"Hey. How're you doing?" she asked, perching on the edge of the bed.

Xander rolled to face her. "I've been better." He stretched his arms and neck and shifted to give Buffy a little more room on the bed. "It's all itchy now," he complained, fingers twitching near his bandages.

She smiled. "You need anything?"

"One year without possibility of apocalypse?" he replied half-heartedly.

Buffy gave him another smile, this one accompanied by her hand resting softly on his. "I'll see what I can do. Anything else?"

He sighed. "Couple more stab wounds and a week locked in the basement with Spike. That should about do me in."

She laughed this time. A soft little chuckle. "Now I know you're okay." She rose from the bed, patting his hand gently. "Get some rest. I'll check on you later."

Xander nodded and watched her slip quietly from the room. He tugged Spike's letter back out and continued reading:

That's not what I wanted to tell you though. Shit, Harris. Do you know I haven't actually written a letter out long-hand in over seventy-five years? Right. Anyway, you said something about confessions. Guess this'll qualify.

First, I'm confused...

"He's confused?"

...you tell me you don't want me, don't want to be with me, but you turn around and kiss me or touch me or give me that look that tells me you want nothing more than to be naked and shagging. (And I thought Buffy's signals were fucked up.)

"Knew he was still stuck on her. Dammit. Why do I even try?" He seriously considered trashing the letter, but a niggling irritation at the back of his mind kept him reading.

Guess that leads to the next bit - Buffy. Or, the end of what was something resembling - though barely - a relationship with her. That night, the one that scared you, the one when I scared you... that was the day she told me it was over. Really over. She told me she was using me and that it was killing her. How could I try to make her stay after that? Of course, I'm not so good with the 'letting go' part of my rage, so you ended up on the receiving end of a lot of it. I don't know how you managed to come back to see me after that. You're either very brave or really stupid. You decide.

"Thanks for leaving me with the 'easy' decisions." He took a deep breath. More letter:

I apologized for that already and I'll do it again if you need me to. My un-life is hard enough. I don't need the shit of the past mucking it up.

He knew there was no stopping at that point...

There's more, but my damned hand is cramping...

Xander stifled a giggle and shook his head. "Only Spike."

...and I'd rather just talk to you. If you'll let me. We don't have to be lovers (though that part was a hell of a lot of fun), but friends would be enough. For me. For now.

Rip this to shreds and throw it at me if you think I'm full of shit. I never was all that great at writing letters.


"Dammit," he muttered and shoved the letter back under the pillow. He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. Did he want to talk to Spike? Did he want to know what the 'more' was?

A voice from the doorway grabbed his attention.

"What?" he asked. Evidently he'd been distracted enough to now need the vampire to repeat whatever it was he'd just said.

"Do you want to hear the rest?" Spike asked. The bleached hair on his head was unruly and curling as though he had been pushing his hands through it repeatedly. The white T-shirt he wore was wrinkled, but the black jeans were the same faded ones he always wore.

Xander pulled his eyes away and stared at Dawn's floral comforter. "Not right now."

"You know where to find me." He heard the doorframe creak softly as Spike's weight shifted.

"Spike," he called and waited for the vampire to turn back to him. "We need to talk about something else first."


"Close the door."

Spike nodded once and stepped into the room, pushed the door close and leaned against it. He said nothing. He just leaned against the door, his arms folded casually cool across his chest.

Xander took a deep breath. "Buffy." He watched for Spike's reaction - a single blink. "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me you were sleeping with her?"

Spike lowered his pale head. "Why didn't you tell your friends or Anya about us?"

"Fair enough. But I'm not done. What is this?" Spike frowned up at him during the brief pause. "Just sex? Or is this going somewhere?"


"Because we need to decide before this goes any further."

"Do you want this to be something else?"

"Why do you always kick this back to me?" Xander didn't care about Spike being with Buffy anymore; that was over. Now he wanted to figure out where this 'thing' with Spike was going. He needed to know if there was any future to it or if they were just biding their time until someone else came along.

"Because I already get what I want from this. It's up to you. I've told you, you can go whenever you want, as long as you tell me it's over before you go."

Spike was still leaning against the door, arms over his chest. It was casually menacing, but at the same time, sexy. Ack! Xander squeezed his eyes shut. "We've played this game. I tell you I can't do this anymore, I leave, but I come right back. Every-damned-time." He shook his head. "Spike, maybe you should go."

Spike nodded. "You..."

"...know where to find you. I know."

The next few days were a real test of his patience and resilience. He didn't want to stay in Dawn's room, apparently she was of that same opinion since she kept skulking by and asking Buffy when she could have her room back, but he didn't want to talk to Spike before he was ready. Currently, not a problem as Spike and Anya had apparently gone 'out'. That was all anyone would say. He was pretty sure alcohol was part of the equation.

Of course, none of that is as bad as this loudness that is Buffy's current pep-talk.

"And now there's a Slayer emergency kit?" he asked Willow as Buffy and Dawn darted up the stairs.

"Yeah. Looks like," she replied.

They collected everyone and pulled items from the bag, then prepared the room for the 'emergency' ritual. Shadow casters, candles, the spinning pedestal and major weirdness with spooky drums and the big book changing languages all kept the tension pretty high. A portal opened where the spinning shadow casters were and Buffy leapt through it.

Xander stared, aghast. His best friend had gone through a portal to no-one-knew-where, but, worse than that, a giant smurf-colored demon had appeared in her place. He pushed himself off the floor and shook his head, wondering how he had gotten all the way across the room without knowing it. Then he spotted the hole in the ceiling - that he would have to fix - and saw the ends of Spike's fingers hanging over the edge. "That can't be good," he mumbled as potentials and Scoobies milled about, some gawking at where the demon had crashed through the wall.

"You know, one of these days, we're gonna learn not to open these Pandora's Boxes," Xander commented over breakfast.

Spike snorted from the doorway. "No you won't. You stupid gits will always open the box, just to see what's inside."

Xander watched every face at the table turn and glare at the vampire. He glared too, just not at Spike.

"Oh come on, don't give me that look. You will always want to know what's in the box, though living on a Hellmouth, you'd figure you'd lean, but you never will. You had to use that emergency kit, just to know what it does. Now you know and you wish you didn't. But next time, you'll open that box and be surprised when a demon jumps out to eat your face." Spike turned and, casually, walked back to the kitchen as he drank his breakfast.

Xander wanted to say something, counter the vampire, even just for the sake of argument, but Spike was right. The next time, they would do exactly what he said - be surprised when a demon bit them on the ass.

"Hey! Ow!" He tried to slap at the vampire on his back, but found his arms would not bend that way. Spike laughed and bit him again. "All right now. Quit with the biting of my ass or I'll take my ass home!" He craned his neck to look over his shoulder. The vampire was pouting at him. "Oh, for Pete's sake, Spike. Do whatever you want, just don't bite me on the ass."

"You're no fun."

"And you're not listening."

Xander watched the rapid blinks as something finally clicked in Spike's brain. "You sure, Harris?" Spike asked with a worried frown.

Xander nodded. He was nervous about letting Spike in, but he wanted to know how it felt. What it was that sent Spike spiraling into an abyss of pleasure. He was beginning to climb toward his own pleasurable peak as Spike nibbled his lower back and stroked his leg.

"Spike," he moaned and the vampire licked his spine. "Please," he tried not to beg, but he wanted it. Wanted Spike. Gentle hands rolled him to his back and slid over his abs - not nearly as perfect as Spike's, but he was working on it. Over his chest, his arms, his neck. Soft lips, warmed by an earlier feeding of microwaved blood, and recent friction, followed the hands.

"Let me know if you want me to stop, okay?"

He nodded. It was the best he could manage while he tried to catch his breath. Heat rolled over his body in waves and he shifted his legs - a subtle hint. Incredibly slowly - so it seemed to him - the vampire slide a hand over his thigh, into the juncture of his legs. Xander wanted to cry out, to demand Spike get on with it, but he also wanted it not to hurt. He figured the more experienced partner might have some idea what he was doing.

As gentle, lubricated fingers made their way inside him, stretching him, he couldn't decide if he wanted to watch or just feel. When he tried to look to see what Spike was doing, the bleached menace crooked a finger and Xander threw his head back, clamping his eyes shut at the amazing sensation that jolted through his body. "Holy shit," he moaned and heard Spike chuckling again.

The bed creaked and Spike was hovering over him, hands pressed into the mattress on either side of his hips. He opened his eyes, pleading silently. Spike smiled, leaned down to kiss the flesh of his chest, then sat back and rubbed his thighs. Xander took a deep breath and held it as he felt Spike enter him. "Breathe, Xander," he heard the vampire whisper. It made him exhale slowly as he opened his eyes. Spike was holding his hips, just sitting there.

"That it?" he asked.

Silence as Spike shook his head. Then he began to move - slowly, gently. Xander's eyes slid closed again. Soft strokes, strong hands, cool body, all there for him to experience. He reached his hands out to touch the smooth chest of the vampire, feel the skin. He rocked his hips a bit, like he had seen Spike do, and nearly howled at the pleasure. He cracked his eyes open and found the bleached bastard smirking. With one half-formed fist, he thumped Spike on the chest. That smirk didn't go anywhere though.

"You okay?" Spike asked. His voice had become a husky whisper after several more pleasurable thrusts of his hips.

"Yes," Xander managed to hiss softly. He caught Spike smiling again. "Stop that," he tried to say, but it came out as a mumbled gasp.

Still smirking, Spike asked, with a hint of panting, "What was that?"

Xander quirked a smile back at the evil undead guy, knowing Spike was enjoying this as much as he was. "Nothing," he breathed and latched his fingers into the sheets. "Shit," he muttered.

"Is he really that good?" Dawn asked as she sat beside him on the porch steps.

Xander wanted to shrink into a ball and die. "Wha...? Huh?"

She smiled at him. "You were mumbling." She took his glare well. "Something about touching and 'Oh my God'..."

"No I...." He gaped at her. "No. There's no... No." He shook his head.

The girl giggled. "Okay. No. Not really. But the mumbling got really close to bad porn dialog."

"Shit." He dropped his head into his hands. 'Lifted it again. "Wait, how do you know about porn dialog?"

Dawn grinned at him.

"Why, Dawn?" His question had nothing to do with porn.

"Why, what?" Dawn tilted her head to one side, eying him.

"Why can't I get him out of my head?"

"Because you love him?" she suggested with that hopeful tone of hers. Because, if it was true, she could tell him she thought it was cute.

He took a deep breath and raised his head. "See," he turned to face her, "that's just the thing. I don't."

"But you want to sleep with him?" she asked, this time a little confused.

"God yes." He caught her gaping at him. "I just said that, didn't I?" A nod. "Fuck."

Dawn giggled and smiled. "That's the general idea, yeah."

He glared again. "You're not supposed to know stuff like that."

"Huh," she huffed. "Worst part is, with this bloody apocalypse," her voice glided over Spike's British slang easily, "I may never know any more about it."

"There's always Andrew." Xander shook his head, startled at having suggested an 'orgasm friend' for Buffy's little sister. Until Dawn responded with a gagging sound.

"Not a chance. I don't think he'd know what to do with it anyway."

"Stop. He's not that..." he caught the look on her face. 'Okay, he's annoying as hell. But, so is Spike."

"Yeah, but Spike's hot."

Xander nodded. "I cannot believe I'm having this conversation with you."

"Since we are, would you be pissed if I slept with Spike?"

Xander blinked a bit while her question traveled from his ears to his brain. "Dawn, why would it matter to me?"

"Same reason it mattered that he was sleeping with Buffy."

"Well, he's not mine. Officially, he can sleep with whomever he wants. But would it bother me? Yeah, maybe. Why, are you gonna sleep with him?"

Dawn shook her head in response. "No, Xander, I'm not. Wouldn't turn him down if he offered, though." She flashed a wicked little grin at him.

"I should be afraid of you."

Another smile. "Yeah. I'm scary." Then she hugged him.

His chat with Dawn about sex with Spike had been interesting, to say the least. Why he had been able to talk to her when he was unable to talk to anyone else, he had no idea. Of course, the whole thing rocketed into crazy when Dawn showed him the tattoo she had gotten when Buffy was 'too busy hating herself to notice anything else.' It was a really nice tattoo, even if he had no idea what it was. Then, the question of all questions, she asked if he had ever thought about getting a tattoo. Once - when he was thirteen, then he found out it involved needles and pain, so he decided against that and opted to fight vampires and demons instead.

Dawn had left on that note of 'going to find Spike for a possible sex romp', which was a little unnerving. He had spent the rest of the day avoiding Andrew and his video camera as much as possible. Mostly that meant talking to Anya. Not a bad option, but she kept asking the questions that he always found hard to actually form answers to. Those questions like: 'Do you still love me?' Yes. 'Do you want to go downstairs and have sex on Spike's cot since he's not using it now?' Huh? What? Sex? Yes. Now.

Hence the nakedness, sweating and panting while trying to keep Anya from actually screaming. Reaching the 'pleasure moment' - fine; pulling an orgasm-causing scream from one's throat, thus alerting everyone in the house to one's actions - not so fine.

He nuzzled Anya's neck, inhaled her scent. She smelled good - female good. Anya good. Not Spike good, though. Her skin was creamy-soft and slick with sweat and she pushed her hands into his hair and panted in his ear. He felt her mouth on his shoulder, teeth gently scraping until her climax, then she clamped down to keep from screaming. The pain in his shoulder was minimal - Spike had done much worse, and to more sensitive parts of his body - as he pushed into her again, reaching his own climax. He pulled her head toward his and kissed her as he rolled to one side. He heard her say something... something about him being 'out of her system now'. He grunted a reply and tried to catch his breath. 'Out of her system', she had said. Did he want her out of his too? He closed his eyes and sighed as she rose from the cot to put her clothes back on.

"Anya," he began, opened his eyes and propped himself on an elbow, waiting for her to face him. "I'm sorry. It's probably not enough, but I am. I wish I could make things better, but I can't."

She nodded back at him, trying to hold back tears. "I know, Xander. Thank you." She gave him a small smile, then turned to climb the stairs. Xander fell back onto the cot, one arm over his face.

He didn't realize he had fallen asleep until he felt the cot shake. He bolted awake to escape the apparent earthquake.

"Not an earthquake, nit. It's just me," a blurry bleached form snarled around a lit cigarette. "What're you doin' down here anyway?"

"Tired. Fell asleep." Xander yawned and started to sit up.

The less-blurry vampire quirked an eyebrow at him. "Naked? On m'cot? You expectin' something?"

"Huh? No. Just more comfortable this way." He yawned again and stretched his arms over his head.

"So long as you didn't jack-off in my blanket, mate. Now, can I have m'bed back?"

"Yeah." He got up and put on his clothes, oblivious to the fact that he was naked in front of Spike. He had been so often, it barely registered. The stupid vampire seemed even less affected; he was more interested in finding out if there was anything gross in his bed. Xander turned to say something, but Spike seemed disinterested. He fixed his shirt, collected his shoes and climbed the stairs.

At the top, he stopped and sighed. He's gonna know. He always knows. But there's never been an exclusivity rule. Another sigh and he pushed the door closed and made his way to the kitchen.

Xander locked Spike's wrist in the cuff, muttering about Buffy waiting to put the chains back up. Kicking himself for thinking such things, because his mind zipped off into fantasy land with Anya, Spike or both and he wasn't sure he could pull himself back without revealing evidence of his brain pictures.

"What?" Spike snapped, a growl in his throat and a snarl on his face.

"Nothing." He finished securing Spike and moved out of reach. Then his brain took off: What the hell was I thinking? The fucking trigger has been there this whole time! He could have killed me, especially when we were alone together. He could have been triggered at any time and torn my throat out or worse. Shit. Okay, dammit. That's it! No more alone time with Spike. Trigger or no trigger. I can't risk getting dead; not when Buffy needs me for this fight. From here on out, I'm not with Spike without Buffy or someone around. Can't be. It's better if I'm not around him anyway. Because, that way, I'm not staring at his hands and thinking about how he could grab my hips and pull me close, tease my body to tingles; or his mouth and all the thousands of fantastic things he manages to think up on the spot; or his eyes as they stare back and... gah! Shit! Brain, stop that! He shook his head and looked up in time to see Spike heave the cot at Dawn.

Buffy punched Spike out while he and Willow helped get Dawn upstairs. Was it just him or were these 'fights' with evil getting more and more involved?

Willow tended to Dawn and conversations about Spike whirled around while Buffy and Giles and the Principal remained downstairs with Spike. He vaguely heard Anya mention something about a 'get out of jail free' card and a dozen Frat boys, but he mostly ignored her - and the potentials. He wanted things to go back to... something else. No impending apocalypse, no triggers, no The First, no evil Trio, no best friend and ex-fiancée banging Spike, even no him banging Spike. He shook his head and poured soda into a glass. "High school was simpler than this," he muttered.

"No kidding," Willow agreed as she entered the kitchen.

"Can we go back? Back to high school? When it was just vampires and demons? I mean, regular vampires, not the super-kind? When the freaky Mayor was our biggest threat? Please?"

A sad smile crossed his best friend's face. "Sorry, Xand', doesn't work that way." Her face brightened and she said, "You can still hate Spike though."

The smallest snort of a laugh escaped. "Yeah. Maybe." He took a sip of his soda and leaned against the counter

"Fuck. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him," he growled, stalking away from Spike's crypt. Then he started running, ignoring the pain in his groin, his chest, his throat. He could not figure out what he had done to make Spike hurt him. He remembered nothing that he could have done to piss the vampire off - not that badly.

His legs started to hurt from the running and the tears in his eyes were making it harder and harder to see. He stopped running. The city playground lay in front of him. He sat on one of the picnic benches. Head in his hands, he let the sobs come. Tears coursed down his cheeks, his breath came in gasps and sniffles.

"Poor little lost boy crying for his mummy," a liltingly familiar voice reached his ears through the sobs.

He lifted his head with a grumbled, sniffle-y, "Huh?" Followed it up with a gasp. "How?" he spat and pushed himself onto the table in an effort to get away.

"Don't be afraid. I only want to play with your entrails." The dark-haired woman extended a long, slender pale hand, decorated with jet-black nails tipped in white. The skirt of her gown was a dark-red velvet that fell to her ankles, the bodice was close fitting and barely modest.

"Drusilla," he began, then took a moment to swallow another sob, "w-what are you doing here?"

The vampire tilted her head far to one side and raised her eyebrows. "The puppy knows my name." Then she frowned. "Do I know his?"

He wanted to roll his eyes, but knew taking his eyes off her could prove fatal.

Drusilla shrugged. "The puppy looks sad. Who hurt you, puppy?" She turned the extended hand over so it was palm up.

"What?" Xander looked up again, Drusilla's hand was on his jaw, turning his head. The vampire woman leaned closer, inspecting his wounds - or preparing to inflict her own. "Um...?"

Drusilla growled. "Spike," she hissed and drew her hand away sharply, leaving scratches on the underside of his jaw. "Sweet William's been a bad boy."

"Uh, yeah," Xander confusedly agreed, touching his fingertips to the marks on his skin.

Then Drusilla began to howl and scream - for about three minutes. He would have run away, but fear of being on the even worse end of the crazy vampire's rage kept his ass glued to the picnic table. She turned to him and said, very plainly, "There's more."

More screaming? God, I hope not.

"Spike played too rough with puppy. Scratches and bruises. Naughty Spike."

"And not in a good way," he added with half a laugh. She gazed at him, a question in her eyes, or she was just getting into her thousand-yard stare. "Okay, maybe not the best time to mention that," Xander amended. "I'll just be going." He tried to slide away, to leave the crazy vampire to her thoughts, but she stopped him.

"No," she said. "William must be scolded."

"Can't you handle that on your own? I really need to be going now." He wanted to run. To be away from the nut-ball vampire and, mostly, nowhere around when Spike came running up to see what all Drusilla's fuss was about.

Drusilla squinted her eyes at him. "Bad dog scared the puppy."

"Yeah," he affirmed, still very confused.

"Go," she waved him away with a hand motion. "Go now. I will scold the naughty boy. And he'll have no supper."

Xander wasted no time launching his ass off the picnic table and into a small clump of trees. 'Good timing too, as Spike sprinted into the open, duster flapping behind him. Xander could see a harsh scowl on Spike's face as he skidded to a halt by the table.

"What the bleeding... Drusilla?" Spike stopped short, gaping at his former lover-girlfriend-consort. "Dru."

She whirled on her progeny and backhanded him across the face. It sent him stumbling into a tree. "Bad boy," she scolded.

Spike got back to his fee, back to Drusilla and back to his scowling. "What are you on about, love? And why the bleeding hell are you back in Sunnydale?"

"You were very bad," she told him crossly. "You hurt the puppy."

Xander saw Spike frown. "Puppy? Dru, what puppy? There hasn't been a puppy since..."

"Shh." She silenced Spike with a finger over his mouth. "Naughty boy. You hurt the puppy. Bad boy. Bad William gets no supper."

Xander listened and watched. Drusilla verbally and physically brow-beat the bleached vampire for a solid thirty minutes. Spike took it all. Everything she laid on him. He gave a few hits himself, though not enough to knock her down. Just enough to get her to back off.

"Drusilla, go away!" Spike didn't hit her or shove her or even touch her. He only told her to leave.

Xander watched some more. 'Held his breath, sure they knew he was there. He was ready to turn and leave, but he heard Drusilla snap that Spike had scared 'the puppy'. I'm really not liking being the puppy. Then Spike responded:

"I know! And worse, I wanted to. I meant to do it."

"You could have made him like us," Drusilla sing-songed and danced around. When she stopped, she cupped Spike's face in her hands. "Do you love the boy, sweet William?"

This part Xander was definitely going to stick around for. The crazy vampire chick had asked the question he had been too afraid to ask himself.

"No, Dru, I don't."

Xander held his breath still. Waiting. He couldn't hear what Drusilla sad back to Spike, but he heard Spike mutter, "But, I just might need him," as Drusilla walked away.

He ran out into the backyard, looking. Spike had been sent to stay with Wood. Giles had taken Buffy on patrol. Xander stood in the backyard, staring at the night sky, trying to decide where to go, what to do. Boots on grass, leather on branches; he heard the vampire enter the yard.

"Hi," Spike said.

Xander noticed a slight limp in the vampire's stride, but ignored it. He approached Spike with a barked, "Shut up," and kissed him, hard. He felt Spike stumble a bit. They managed to keep themselves balanced and Xander pulled him closer.

When Xander let him go, Spike repeated his greeting: "Again, hi."

"I figured it out."

"What?" Spike asked with a frown.

"A lot of things, but why I could go back after you hurt me." His voice was strong and breathy and firm. No shaking. No stuttering. "You needed me. Maybe you still do. I knew this was mutual beyond the sex thing. It's not love, but it doesn't have to be."

"Did someone give you chocolate again, Harris?" Spike asked, very confused.

Xander sighed. "No, dammit. You said it. I heard you."

"Said I needed you?"


Spike blinked. "I said no such thing." A pause. "When?"

"That night. Drusilla kicked your ass and you said it."

"Drusilla did not kick my ass," Spike evaded smoothly.

"Whatever. You said it."

"Why would I do that?"

"How the hell should I know. I only know what I heard."

Spike shook his head. "Well, you heard wrong." Then he started for the house.

Xander turned, gaped at his back. "You bastard." He knew he had heard it. What was the idiot vampire hiding now? Or was Spike still pissed about him sleeping with Anya on the cot?

"Take care of yourself, Harris."

Too angry to speak coherently, Xander flipped a rude finger gesture at the back of Spike's head. Fuck off, you bastard.

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