Cricket


by Saber ShadowKitten
PG-13 Version







Part Fourteen



Spike threw himself into his work, heralding warrior after warrior without pause. He rarely slept, fed when he had to, and traveled even when it wasn't very safe. He shot off an email to Cordelia and Dawn every so often, letting them know he was still kicking, but he didn't stop to chat. And he completely ignored the emails from Xander.

Trust was the basis of any relationship. Xander didn't trust Spike and, thus, there was no relationship. Even if the boy had professed undying love, Spike could never be with him without that trust.

That lack of trust hurt badly. The old Spike would have said "smart kid." He was a vampire, after all, and vampires were notoriously untrustworthy. But now it just hurt. It was like everything he'd done over the past six-plus years didn't count for beans. It didn't matter that he'd changed. Once a killer always a killer. Only special tossers like Angel got second and third chances because a soul -- not a conscience -- made all the diffference in the world.

Spike knew that eventually he'd contact Xander: masochism was his middle name, after all. He still loved the brunette and, once it stopped feeling like he'd been stabbed in the heart, he'd give Xander his second chance. Until then, the blond would do the job for which he'd been chosen.

The invisible vampire stepped off the elevator on the 42nd floor of the high-rise in downtown Tokyo. Avoiding a couple exiting their apartment, Spike walked down the spartan hallway to number 4211 and knocked. The black painted door opened and Spike immediately touched the Asian human's forehead.

"Come in," the man invited in Japanese once the gold faded and Spike appeared before him. "I have been waiting for you, Herald."

*****

Xander stood slumped by the counter at the Magic Box, idly fiddling with a chicken's foot. The Scoobies had gathered after closing to discuss the recent rash of animal deaths in the area. They were trying to decide if the deaths were caused by human, animal, or other. An emaciated dog corpse was spread out on a newspaper on the round table, with Willow and Giles performing an autopsy while Buffy complained.

Xander couldn't drum up the energy to make gross anatomy jokes. He'd been in a constant funk since Spike stopped talking to him. No matter how many emails Xander sent, or how long he sat online staring at his AIM 'Buddy' list, Spike was incommunicado.

Xander felt bad for not trusting Spike, but that didn't change the fact that he didn't fully trust the blond. Spike was a vampire who'd threatened time and again to disembowel Xander when the behavior modification chip came out. For years, Spike had spouted threats and promises of gory post-chip violence on the population, the Slayer and friends in particular. Until last June, Xander had thought Spike was passing time by assisting the Scoobs, waiting for the day he could go through with his threats. Seeing that there was more to Spike than just being a vampire when they had gone to L.A. had been a huge shock to Xander. Despite nine months having passed, it was still amazing to him.

Xander tossed the chicken foot in the jar with the other feet, dug into his jeans pocket, and pulled out the chip. He'd began carrying it around after the fight with Spike. It was so small, so innocuous-looking. It was odd that such a tiny thing could create so many problems.

"Why can't I find a nice, normal girl to settle down with?" Xander sighed.

The bell above the shop door jingled and a surprised silence followed as Angel walked in. The chip fell from Xander's suddenly nervous fingers to the floor. Oh gods, he thought, taking a hesitant step towards Angel. Oh gods, no, don't let something have happened to Spike.

"Angel, hi. Uh... what are you doing here?" Buffy asked, moving in front of the souled vampire.

Angel side-stepped her without a word. His face a blank mask, he came right up to Xander and stopped in front of the younger brunette.

"No," Xander breathed, a sharp pain piercing his heart as he searched Angel's eyes. "No, please don't tell me he's--"

Xander was interrupted by Angel's fist connecting with his face.

"Angel!" the others exclaimed, shocked. Angel ignored them, his expression easily readable now -- it was twisted in pure anger. Xander waved Willow away, cupping his eye where the vampire had hit him. Xander knew Angel had pulled his punch, or else he'd be halfway across the room. Still, ow.

"Is there a reason you punched me?" he asked.

Angel bent, picked up the chip, then slapped it against Xander's chest. "Do you really think the Powers would let loose an invisible vampire on the population without having some faith in him?" the older man hissed, too quiet for the others to hear.

Xander dropped his gaze, ashamed. "I see what you mean." He touched his swelling eye, and added wryly, "Sort of see."

"He's in the car," Angel told him, then turned to speak with an irate Buffy.

Xander paused for barely a moment as Angel's words sunk in. Then, without a glance at the others, he was out the door.

Glowing Spike was sitting in Angel's convertible -- and why does a vampire drive a convertible, anyway? -- elbow propped on the door and his head resting on his hand. His features were as sunken and sharp as they'd been at Thanksgiving, and Xander could see splotchy shadows -- bruises, Xander realized -- on Spike's cheek and jawline.

"Spike?" Xander ventured tentatively, coming to a stop beside the car.

Spike lifted his head and turned to Xander, tired blue eyes focusing on the brunette. His face lit up briefly, then a mask of indifference slid into place. There were more bruises on the right side of his face that had been hidden by his hand. "I take it Angel made you come out here," he said dully.

Xander reached to touch Spike's cheek without thought and when the vampire flinched away, it felt like he'd been punched in the gut. His hand fell to his side and he took a step back. "Yeah. Angel sent me out to see you. I've seen. You look like shit."

Spike chuckled humorlessly. "Thanks a lot."

"What did you do? Run into a door a dozen times?"

The blond lifted a shoulder in a careless shrug. "One of the warriors had signed up with the other team before I scouted him."

Xander forced the sudden knot of fear from his throat, and asked, "Demon?"

"Human," Spike replied with a shake of his head. "Good thing, that. I'm far from peak form. Had it had been a stronger creature, I would've been carpet grit in a Tokyo high-rise. Almost didn't escape from the human."

"But you did," Xander said, almost prayer like.

"But I did," Spike agreed.

"Let me touch you," Xander begged in a harsh whisper. He had to touch Spike. The news that the glowing vampire could have been forever gone tore at Xander's insides, more so because he realized that, if Spike was still chipped, he would have been dust. It was a painfully ironic lesson, one that Xander was glad hadn't come to fruition. Perhaps the Powers knew what they were doing after all.

Spike got out of the car and Xander was practically on top of him before the car door was fully shut. The brunette slid his arms around Spike's back, under his duster, and pulled him close. Spike reciprocated the hug. His fingers dug into Xander's shoulders, and he shivered slightly in the younger man's embrace.

"You haven't been eating, have you," Xander stated gruffly, nuzzling the stiff blond hair behind Spike's ear. Spike was all bones beneath his clothing. Xander was afraid the blond would break if hugged too tightly.

"Don't take that self-righteous tone with me, Harris," Spike growled, pulling out of Xander's arms. "You can't be mad at me for not eating and also be upset with the thought that I can feed from humans if I wanted."

"Well, excuse me for worrying," Xander said, a little angrily.

"Why should you worry? You think I'm snacking on humans left and right."

"I never said that."

"But it's what you believe," Spike sneered.

"It's a legitimate concern," Xander ground out.

"Bullshit. You don't think Angel's out feeding from humans," Spike said. "What makes him so different from me?"

"I'm not falling in love with him!" Xander exclaimed. He grabbed Spike by the shoulders. The bruises were more livid on Spike's face with Xander closer to him. "I don't care what he does, I care about what you do. I can't let myself fall for you if you're one of the bad guys."

"I haven't been the bad guy for years, Xander," Spike said quietly, meeting Xander's gaze unwaveringly.

"I know," Xander sighed, the wind going out of his sails. "This would be so much easier if it was just sex."

"We would have to have sex first for it to be 'just sex,'" Spike pointed out.

"True." Xander smiled mischievously. "Want to come back to my place and fix that?"

"No."

Xander was shocked. "No??"

Spike shook his head. "As much as I want to, I won't sleep with you until you trust me."

"Are you sure you're Spike, the amoral vampire?" Xander asked jokingly.

"No," Spike said seriously. "I'm just the man who wants to be loved by you."

*****

Xander's apartment was a typical single male's apartment. Not too dirty, but not pristine. Dishes were in the sink in the small kitchen, dirty clothes were piled in the corner of the bedroom, old mags, opened mail and a few empty beer bottles were scattered around the living room and computer room. Spike looked at everything with interest, tossing his duster over a chair as Xander put the newly purchased blood containers in the refrigerator.

"Nice place," Spike commented, touching a framed photograph of the core Scooby gang.

"That's right, you've never been here before," Xander said from the kitchen. The microwave beeped as he punched the buttons. "Well, mi casa es su casa."

Spike took Xander's words at face value and wandered further into the apartment. After a curious glance into the boy's bedroom -- and a longing look at the bed -- he continued into the second bedroom.

The first thing that caught his attention was the giant world map on the wall. It was covered in colored pushpins and string, like a connect-the-dots game. Spike tilted his head and closed one eye. The pattern looked a bit like a camel, if the camel was drunk and listing to one side. Moving closer, Spike noticed the string trail ended where he last talked with Xander a few weeks back. The red string hung limply from the last tack, looking almost... sad.

Spotting the pushpins on the desk next to the computer, Spike finished plotting where he'd been, ending in Tokyo, Japan. It really had almost ended in Tokyo, permanently, which was why he'd come home to lick his wounds. Angel had picked him up at the airport, but instead of taking him to the Hyperion, he'd driven straight to Sunnydale. At that time, Spike hadn't known whether to be thankful or irritated at his meddlesome father. Now, he was very thankful.

"Thanks." Xander came up beside Spike and passed him a warm mug. "I was wondering where you had been, but you weren't answering my emails..."

"Yeah. About that--"

"Hey, no big," Xander interrupted. "You're here now, live and in person, and that's much better than a shoddy email."

Spike fell silent, nodded, and smiled. And the boy who was falling in love with him smiled back.

Spike could hardly believe that love had come into the equation. It was like a dream come true. He felt at peace for the first time in ages. It was as if everything was finally right in the world. He was in love with Xander and Xander was in love with him. Falling in love, Spike corrected mentally. Though that was the same thing as being in love, minus the Eureka moment.

Since they had argued on the street, they hadn't said much to each other. But what was there to say, really? It was wonderful just being with Xander and knowing that the boy actually cared for him as more than just a friend. Besides, sometimes actions spoke louder than words. Like now.

Spike turned to Xander, slid his free hand into the brunette's thick hair, and brought their mouths together. The kiss was slow and wet. Spike immediately lost himself in the feel of Xander's lips moving against his own. The slip-slide of Xander's tongue against his. The hot breaths of air mingling in the kiss.

Xander pulled away first, his lips lingering on Spike's. He sighed softly. "Guess this proves Thanksgiving wasn't a fluke," he said.

"Guess so," Spike agreed, smiling at Xander.

Xander smiled back, and pointed at the mug in Spike's hand. "Drink that."

"Yes, sir," Spike said meekly, a humor-filled twinkle in his eyes. He followed the brunette out of the computer room and took a seat on the couch in the living room. Xander grabbed the television remote and plopped down beside him.

"I have Pay-Per-View," the younger man said, turning on the television. "Feel like watching a movie?"

"Sure, pet," Spike replied, sipping from the mug.

Xander flipped channels until they found a movie they agreed on, and settled in to watch it. Partway through, Xander went to refill Spike's mug and, when he returned, sat closer to the blond, their thighs pressed together. Spike was surprised when Xander took his hand and began to massage it. The boy's strong fingers kneaded Spike's palm, firmly rubbing his cool skin. His fingers were not neglected, and the simple hand massage caused him to relax completely for the first time in months.

*****

Xander caught the empty mug that slipped from Spike's hand before it hit the carpeting. The sleeping vampire didn't twitch at Xander's sudden movement. Spike had fallen asleep not even five minutes after Xander began his hand massage, much to the younger man's amusement. The television was shut off, and Xander retrieved a blanket to cover Spike.

In the few hours that Spike had been there, he and Xander had barely spoken, but it wasn't important. They'd said what was necessary on the street and when they'd first gotten to the apartment. Besides, they were men. A few grunts and scratches counted as communication.

Xander ghosted his fingers along Spike's bruised cheek. The vampire really did look like crap. Again. What Spike needed was a keeper, the brunette decided. Someone to make sure he ate three squares a day. Someone to keep watch so he could sleep undisturbed. Someone to care that he was running himself ragged doing his job for the Powers, and to tell him to slow down. He needed someone to love him.

Xander sighed, left Spike sleeping on the couch, and went into the bedroom. He had to get up bright and early for work in the morning, and should follow Spike's example and go to bed. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, though, not with Spike within touching distance. After weeks of no contact with the blond, having him here at the apartment was playing havoc with Xander's emotions. It was a struggle not to pounce on Spike and show him physically how much he was missed. Only Spike didn't want that. He'd made it clear on the street that sex would not happen unless Xander trusted him.

"Hell," Xander muttered as he changed into his sleep-shorts. He wished there was a magickal trust pill he could take, although that still wouldn't guarantee Spike's non-killing actions.

Angel was right, however. It was doubtful that the Powers would remove the chip and release an invisible vampire on the world, especially if they wanted him to work for their side, if they didn't have some faith in him. If only it was that easy for Xander to have faith.

"I did have Faith, and she tried to kill me." Xander rolled his eyes. "I can't believe I just punned like that."

He headed into the computer room and took a seat at the desk. After turning on the computer monitor, he typed the word "trust" into the search engine. It resulted in over a million hits.

"This is going to take awhile," Xander said, opening the first link on the page.



Part Fifteen



Cricket~

Went to work. There's a key on the counter in case you want to go out. EAT!!! I'll be back around 6:30. If you do naughty things in my bed while I'm gone, be sure to tell me when I get home.

-X



Spike awoke late morning to an empty apartment, the drapes on all the windows pulled shut. The note was taped to the television set. He was still exhausted and, after reading the note and draining a container of blood, he shed his boots, socks, and shirt, and sacked out on the couch again.

The blond awoke the second time in the evening with a hungry belly. He ignored it as he walked groggily into the bathroom and turned on the water taps to fill the tub. Facing the mirror, he rubbed his glowing jaw, grumbling about the still tender bruises. Bruises that would've disappeared long before now if he was at full strength.

"You're a pillock," Spike told the mirror, which reflected the green shower curtain behind him. It was his own fault that he looked like an unfed glow-in-the-dark greyhound. Yeah, blood was scarce out in the sticks, but he'd been in several major cities the past few weeks. Working himself to dust was not the answer to his depression problems.

He wasn't depressed anymore, though. Xander might not trust him yet, but the boy loved him. It was a step in the right direction, and "yet" was the operative word. Spike had an optimistic feeling that things would turn out peaches-n-cream. Either that, or he had gas.

Chuckling to himself, Spike rooted around until he found a towel, then stripped and climbed into the tub. He hissed in pleasure as he sank into the hot water. He'd been cold for weeks, probably because he had no meat on his bones, and the heat felt divine.

Spike soaked wantonly for awhile before using Xander's shampoo and soap to wash up. He wiped a towel over himself and redressed. Dragging his fingers through his damp curls, he searched through Xander's medicine chest for gel or something similar. Of course, the twit didn't have any. Sighing, Spike did his best to comb his hair back and prayed he wouldn't look like too much of a fop when it dried.

Padding barefoot into the kitchen, Spike warmed a mug of blood and settled at the kitchen table. He paged through a woodcraft magazine he'd found as he drank his dinner.

"Hey, sleepyhead," Xander greeted as he entered the apartment a short while later. He put his toolbelt in the closet and shucked his workboots by the door. "Don't move," he told Spike as he passed by on his way to the bathroom. "Let me clean up and I'll join you."

There was a hole in the seat of Xander's jeans, Spike noticed. Plaid undergarments. Spike ogled him appreciatively.

When Xander returned damp and dressed in clean khakis and a tee-shirt, he fetched a soda and a bag of pretzels before taking a seat across the table from Spike. Popping the tab on the soda, he grinned at the blond. "Nice hair."

Spike reflexively put his hand to his head. He could feel the springy mass of dried curls, and sighed. "It's hard to look evil with Shirley Temple hair."

"Good thing you're not evil anymore, huh?" Xander commented.

"Oh, so you believe me now?" Spike said skeptically.

"No, I still think you're evil," Xander replied. "You prevent me from sleeping, you turned me gay, you made me question my beliefs..."

"Oi, you turned me into a shirtlifter, too," Spike pointed out. "I didn't fancy other blokes until you."

A blush spread across Xander's cheeks and he concentrated intently on the pretzel in his hand. "I, uh... yeah." He crunched down on the snack.

Spike snagged one of the salty twists from the bag and dipped it in his blood. He popped it in his mouth in accompaniment to Xander's disgusted noises.

"That's sick," Xander said.

"Don't knock it 'til you try it," Spike told him.

"Let's not and say I did, and I went eew." Xander shuddered exaggeratedly.

Spike shrugged. "Your loss." He picked up his mug and took a sip, watching over the rim as Xander neatly lined several pretzels on the table.

"So...," Xander eventually said.

"So," Spike parroted, setting the mug down at the serious tone of voice.

"About this trust problem," Xander said. "I think I've found a way to solve it."

"Do tell," Spike said warily.

"Okay, um, last night I shot off an email to Cordelia, asking her why she trusted you," Xander began. "I got her reply this morning before I went to work. Do you know what she said? She said she trusted you because you let her paint your nails lilac. Not dark purple. Light, foofy lilac. And you wore it for a week."

"I remember that. She put yellow flower decals on my thumbs, too." Spike shook his head. "Gunn called me his girl for the entire week. 'Me an' my girl are gonna bust your pasty, undead asses,'" he said, mimicking Gunn's speech.

"Well, Cordelia's reply got me thinking--"

"Should I hide?" Spike interrupted with an off-kilter grin.

"Ha-ha. No, really," Xander went on. "I thought that if we shared something personal, where I can say 'I trust Spike because of blank,' I could... well, trust you."

"What kind of blank?" Spike asked curiously.

"How about a secret?" Xander suggested. "One that no one else knows."

"That's why it's called a secret, Harris, because no one else knows it," Spike said dryly.

"I'm being serious here, Spike," Xander said impatiently. "I really want this to work."

"Okay, then," Spike agreed. "A secret."

Xander nodded. "A secret."

Spike tapped his finger against the side of his mug, casting his mind back through the years. He didn't have many secrets to share, especially ones that only Xander would be privy to. Plus, it had to be something which he cared whether someone knew it or not; being a vampire made him rather apathetic.

"I have one," Spike finally said. "I killed someone."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Duh."

"When I was a human, git," Spike said with an exaggerated sigh. "I was thirteen, fourteen thereabouts, just learning what I could do with the dangly bits between my legs. My best mate, Blake, and I were down at the footbridge on Blake's property, horsing around, chatting about the ladies, stuff like that."

"Doing guy things," Xander nodded sagely.

"Exactly," Spike said and continued. "We were there for awhile, talking and whatnot, when Blake said something. I don't really remember what it was, but I remember I got right pissed at him. And I shoved him." Spike's eyes became unfocused as the memories unfolded in his mind. "Blake was sitting on the rail of the bridge and over he toppled. It wasn't that far of a fall, only a couple metres or so, but the riverbed was dry and the rocks were sharp. Blake's head cracked open like an egg. He died before I got back with help."

Spike lowered his chin and fiddled with the mug. "It was an accident, but when his parents asked what happened, I told them he fell on his own," he said. "I never told anyone that I caused my best mate's death. After that day, I threw myself into my studies and pretty much kept to myself. I never made another close friend."

He raised his eyes and found Xander gaping at him. "What?" he said uncomfortably.

"I killed my best friend, too," Xander said. "That's the secret I was going to share."

Spike blinked in surprise. "You're joking."

"I'm not shitting you," Xander said. "Well, okay, Jesse got munched by a vampire, but I'm the one who staked him. He was my very first staking, too. Heck, it was my first face-to-face meet-and-greet with a vampire."

The brunette broke eye-contact, and added more quietly, "I cried every night for almost a month. I hadn't learned that vampires-equal-bad yet, so I really thought that I murdered my best friend. Willow thinks that Buffy staked him. I never told anyone that it was me."

"Must've been harsh," Spike said sympathetically. He wouldn't dare offer any false platitudes. Vampire or not, Jesse had still been Jesse, he had been Xander's best friend, and Xander had staked him.

"Yeah." Xander cleared his throat and surreptitiously wiped his eyes. "So, now we each know a secret, both wiggidly similar, and we'll have to trust each other not to tell anyone."

"Right. We'll have to trust each other." Spike smiled slightly, then stood and, mug in hand, headed to the sink. He felt Xander come up behind him, and his smile grew as the younger man's arms encircled him.

"Cricket?" Xander said in a babyish voice, brushing his lips on the side of Spike's neck.

"Hmm?"

"I'm gonna kiss you silly now. Okay?"

"If you must," Spike said with fake reluctance.

"Oh, I must." Xander forcibly turned the blond to face him and lowered his mouth to Spike's. "I really, really must," he whispered against Spike's lips, and proceeded to do just that.

Spike moaned softly, opening under the boy's oral assault. He wove his arms around Xander's neck, sliding his fingers into the brunette's thick hair. Xander held the vampire flush against his muscular body, his large, strong hands resting on Spike's waist. This was where Spike wanted to be, embraced with warmth and kissed with passion by the man he loved.

Xander hoisted Spike up suddenly, sitting him on the edge of the sink. He moved between the blond's thighs, pressing his sex against the vampire's, only a few layers of cotton separating their flesh. Spike wrapped his legs around Xander's waist and started to hook his ankles, but the movement upset his precarious balance on the edge of the counter and he fell right into the sink.

Spike yelped in surprise. The dirty dishes piled inside clattered and shifted under him, making him slide further into the stainless steel sink.

Xander laughed. "Graceful."

"Sod off," Spike grumbled, shifting on the dishes. His ass was undoubtably covered in unscraped foodstuff, and he only had one pair of trousers.

"I've done a lot of kinky stuff in the kitchen, but no one has ever fallen in the sink before," Xander tittered, stepping back to take in the whole scene.

Spike shot him a black look. "Are you going to help me out?"

Xander snerked and shook his head in the negative.

"Fine." Spike reached back, grabbed the spray nozzle, aimed it at Xander, and elbowed on the water. "Ha-ha!"

A hard shower of cold water hit Xander square in the face. He yipped, turned his head, and tried to block the stream with his hands. Sputtering and laughing, he moved in and battled Spike for control of the spray nozzle. Xander managed to wrench it free and, the moment the handle was released, the water streamed out of the faucet and down the back of Spike's jeans.

"That's cold!" Spike exclaimed, twisting his body away from the water. He slapped down the tap handle and the water shut off.

Xander grinned at Spike, and Spike grinned back. Water drops clung to Xander's nose and chin, and his wet dark hair was plastered to his forehead. The front of his shirt was soaked and molded to his torso.

Without a word, Xander helped Spike out of the sink. Once both of the vampire's bare feet were on the floor, the younger man held out his hand. Spike curled his fingers around Xander's palm, and they walked silently to the bedroom.

Soft light shined from the lamp on the night-stand in the bedroom. Rumpled navy sheets covered the unmade bed. The work clothes Xander had worn earlier were in a pile on the floor at the foot of the bed.

Xander stripped off his shirt, using the back of it to dry off. He tossed it onto the pile of work clothes, and his khakis immediately followed. He stood only in his boxers. The soft lighting highlighted the ridges and planes of his body. Rock-solid thighs and calves sprinkled with dark hair. Brawny shoulders and thick, muscular arms. Thin trail of dark down that ran from his navel beneath the black boxers.

"Arms up," Xander instructed, grasping the hem of Spike's shirt.

The shirt was tossed with the other clothing, and Spike sucked in a breath of air when his belt was unbuckled by Xander. He heard the dark-haired man mutter, "...goddamn underwear...," after his trousers were pulled down. Spike stepped out of the food-stained garment and the jeans joined the pile of dirty clothes.

Xander surveyed the almost-naked vampire from head to toe. "Why do I have the sudden need to give money to Sally Strothers?"

At first, Spike didn't get it. Sally who? Then he remembered the television commercial about the starving children with the very un-thin woman begging for money. Spike tackled Xander in response to the slight. They went down in a tangle of limbs, landing roughly on the carpeted bedroom floor.

"Oof," Xander grunted, shifting under the blond splayed on top of him. "God, you're boney."

Spike slid into gameface and he snapped his teeth at the younger man. "I should bite you for making fun of me."

Xander suddenly flipped their positions, leered, said, "What if I bite you first?", and latched onto the side of Spike's neck. He sucked hard, pulling Spike's skin into his mouth and undoubtably causing a dark bruise.

Spike let out a strangled cry, his body bowing beneath Xander's. Fire licked every nerve-ending inside of him. His hands flew up and down Xander's back, arms, and shoulders. Touching, grabbing, rubbing, clawing, clutching, hanging on for dear life. Leaving gold streaks and fingerprints that slowly faded away. A stream of babble spilled from his lips.

"OhgodXanderXandertouchmeohgodtouchmeXanderXanderXanderXander..."

Xander released Spike's neck with a loud slurp, nipped at his earlobe, and murmured, "I marked you."

His breath was hot against Spike's skin, but it caused the vampire to shiver. Xander shifted slightly and slipped a hand between their bodies. Spike gasped and dug his nails into the brunette's shoulders when Xander pressed the heel of his hand against Spike's covered erection.

"Like that?" Xander breathed in Spike's ear. He began to rub.

Spike managed to get out a few choked sounds of affirmation. His golden eyes rolled back as his system overloaded. He'd waited so long for the boy just to smile at him, and Xander was doing much more than that at the moment....

*****

"Your underwear is going to be the death of me."

Spike scowled. "Swell. You're in the presence of a master vampire, and it's my knickers you're afraid of."

"Yep. They're the only real evil in the room... except maybe the odor of my socks," Xander said. He grinned suddenly and waggled his brows. "I guess I'll just have to remove the threat."

"You are one of the Slayerettes," Spike said logically. "It's, like, your duty or summat."

Xander hooked his fingers under the waistband of Spike's white jockeys. "Then I'd better do my duty, shouldn't I?"

"Xander." Spike put his hands over the other man's, halting the downward direction of his skivvies. Xander looked at him questioningly.

Spike swallowed, focused on Xander's chest, and continued a little roughly, "I know I'm being cliche, but I want you to know that I love you before we go any further than a grope on the bedroom floor."

The vampire then braced himself for a rude awakening, even though the boy had all but confirmed his love already. Spike had lived long enough to know that sometimes it was just sex or the lure of the forbidden, not true love.

"Hey, look at me," Xander directed. Spike warily raised his eyes and met the boy's gaze. "I already know. I wouldn't be here about to get busy with you otherwise."

"Are you going to break my heart?" Spike asked, laying his fears on the table.

"Not in the next few hours," Xander replied in jest. He freed a hand and placed it over Spike's unbeating heart. "Seriously, I can't promise you that I won't, Spike, but I can promise not to try."

"I can live with that," Spike said, entwining his fingers with Xander's.

"Good." Dark eyes glittered hungrily. "Now, I think it's time we got naked."





Part Sixteen



The backs of Spike's knees were ticklish. When Xander brushed his calloused fingers along them, the blond squeaked and squirmed. It was most amusing. It was also making Xander horny again.

Spike was sprawled on his stomach on the bed, arms folded under his cheek, eyes half-closed in relaxation. He looked thoroughly debauched and was sporting more bruises than he started with. The love bite Xander had given him hours earlier was still vivid on the faintly gold skin of his neck.

Rather debauched-looking himself, Xander sat beside Spike, fingers dancing along the backs of the vampire's bare legs. The bedroom smelled heavily of sex, two rounds worth. Virgin no more, Xander was sore and achy in places he didn't know could be sore and achy. After having tried sex with another man both ways, he could state that being on bottom was okay, but being on top was ecstacy wrapped in silk. Yes, he'd enjoyed Spike's fingers caressing his prostate, but having the blond's penis inside him was more of an emotional pleasure than a physical one.

"Spike, question," Xander said, squirting a small amount of Astroglide into his palm. He closed the flip cap, tossed it back on the bed beside him, and slicked himself. "Top or bottom, which did you like more?"

Spike's blue eyes opened fully and he licked his lips when he saw Xander touching himself. "Either is good, but..."

"But...," Xander prompted when the vampire trailed off.

A blush stained Spike's sharp cheeks, and he finished bashfully, "But I really like being on bottom."

"You do, huh?" Xander crawled over Spike's prone form, blanketing his body, powerful thighs bracketing his lean ones. The brunette nuzzled the hair behind Spike's ear before asking huskily, "Why?"

Spike swallowed and replied thickly, "I like feeling you surrounding me. Possessing me. And you warm me on the inside, which feels so bleedin' good."

"You mean, this inside?"

"Yessss," Spike hissed, pushing back against Xander. He was still slippery from the first round of sex, although they had washed with a wet washrag. Xander had learned, to his excited pleasure, that he didn't need condoms when having relations with the undead.

"So, if I did this--," Xander seated himself fully within Spike, "--you'd like it?"

"Oh gods, Xander," Spike moaned, shuddering.

Xander began to move slowly, covering the smaller man. Despite being fragile-looking, Spike easily bore Xander's weight. "You are so damned tight," the younger man growled in Spike's ear. "I could do this forever."

"No argument... from me...," Spike panted.

Xander was surrounding and possessing Spike, just as the vampire said he liked, and Xander could not deny that he liked it, too. His larger body almost completely covered Spike's, both protectively and dominantly.

"Tell me you love me, Cricket," Xander rasped in Spike's ear. "Tell me you're mine."

"Always, Xander. Always," Spike responded, arching his head back against Xander's shoulder, baring his jugular and the dark-colored mark Xander had made. "I'm yours, I'm yours, I'm yours, I'm yours..."



*****



"I hope we don't get stuck together."

It was a short while later that Xander was laying on top of Spike, head propped on his fist, their spent passion 'gluing' their torsos together.

"Wouldn't be so bad." Spike's blue eyes crinkled in the corners as he grinned. "Someone's got a bit of Dom in them."

"And someone else proporting to be a big bad master vampire begged for it," Xander countered with an evil smirk.

"True," Spike said, gently running his hands up and down Xander's sweaty back. "It kind of sounds like a fairy tale: 'The Mortal that Mastered a Monster.'"

"No," Xander shook his head slightly, "'The Mortal that Loved a Man.'"

Spike sucked in air through his teeth. "You've successfully turned my insides to mush."

"Neat." Xander suddenly grabbed Spike under the shoulders and rolled to the left. The vampire was now on top of Xander. "Ah, much better," the younger man said. "Now I can stop worrying that I'm crushing you."

"You weren't," Spike told him, folding his arms on the brunette's chest and resting his chin on the back of his wrist. "But I understand."

Xander reached up and ran his non-sticky hand through Spike's mop of bleached curls. He studied the vampire's slightly battered face, the too-sharp cheekbones, and the sparkle in those blue, blue eyes. Spike seemed much happier than he was yesterday, but still in dire need of some TLC. And Xander was just the man to provide it.

"When do you have to leave?" Xander asked, lightly rubbing the shell of Spike's ear between his forefinger and thumb.

"No time soon," Spike answered, eyelids dropping shut in contentment.

"Good," Xander said, "because you need to gain at least twenty pounds before I'm letting you out of my sight."

Spike grunted non-committally.

"Don't make me turn woman and nag your skinny tushie until you cooperate."

One eye opened. "Tushie?"

Xander slapped his palm on Spike's ass. "Tushie."

Spike closed his eyes and wiggled, a smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth. Xander rolled his eyes, stretched a bit, and played with Spike's tushie.

The blond moaned. "Keep that up, and I'll do anything you want."

"Slut."

"Yeah," Spike agreed with a pleased-sigh, dropping his knees on the outsides of Xander's legs, opening himself to the brunette's touch. He turned his head and rested his cheek on the back of his folded hands.

"No, not a slut," Xander changed his mind. "You're acting like a deflowered virgin."

Spike grinned, eyes still closed. "'S'because I am."

Xander continued what he was doing and smiled in satisfaction at the sounds his lover made.

His lover. Spike was his lover. How wild was that? Xander was officially a homosexual. Or maybe just a Spike-o-sexual. Other men didn't really turn Xander on... well, Angel did a long time ago when Xander was a teen. Then again, like he'd once told Cordelia, as a teen linoleum had turned him on. And he knew he just really insulted Angel somehow, snerk.

Willow must've gone through the exact same experience, minus the penis-part, Xander realized. He suddenly understood why she'd kept quiet about Tara for so long. Accepting that his own sexual orientation had changed was difficult enough without trying to explain it to his friends. His co-workers at the construction company would freak. The Scoobies might be more open-minded than most about the male-male thing, but the vampire portion was a big no-no. One disastrous relationship with a vampire was enough for their little group, so Xander could count on having a problem. And that was before he shared the fact that Spike was unchipped and invisible, never mind that Spike was no longer a bad boy.

How was he going to tell Buffy, Giles, Willow and Tara that he was in love with Spike? And Xander was in love with him. That "falling in love" crap he'd spouted the night before was just that: crap. You were either in love with someone or you weren't. There was no in-between. He just had been afraid to admit it.

Xander sighed mentally and did something else with his hand, which Spike greatly appreciated if the throaty noises he was making were any indication. The blond was so openly responsive to Xander. He didn't seem to hold anything back. It was extremely arousing, and Xander Junior was trying valiantly to rise again... and failing. He didn't feel bad, though. Cricket's wicket wasn't hard, either, despite his vocal indices that he was really liking what Xander was doing.

Too bad he needed to answer the phone.

"Noooo," Spike whined. The blond lifted his glowing ass in the air and wiggled it. "Keep doin' that."

"Can't. I have to answer the phone," Xander said, wiping his hand on the very soiled bedsheets. "The machine's broken and there's currently a mutilating crisis going on." He frowned as he reached over to the night-stand and picked up the phone receiver. "Or there was a crisis last night when you arrived, which may have been de-crisis-ed by now, and there's a new game afoot."

"Just say hello, Sherlock," Spike grumbled, thumping his pelvis down.

"Sherlock's Elementary School, Watson your mind?" Xander said into the phone.

Spike and the person on the other end of the phone line groaned simultaneously. Xander sniggered. I kill me.

"Terribly clever, Xander," Giles said in the brunette's ear. "Terribly terrible, as well."

"Thanks," Xander said with a grin. "What's up?"

"The, er, mutilations, we have discovered, are of a demonic origin," Giles said. "We could use your assistance in searching for the creature."

Xander twined one of Spike's white-blond locks around his finger and tugged lightly. "I don't know. If you need me, I guess okay. Spike's here, though, and I'd really like to spend some time with him."

Spike raised his head and stared at Xander in surprise.

"Spike's returned?" Giles questioned. There was a lengthy pause. "Well, I don't suppose that he would care to join us? He is... welcome."

"Let me call you back in a little while," Xander said and hung up without waiting for a response. He looked at Spike. "What? Did you think I was going to pretend that you're not here?"

"Yes," Spike replied bluntly.

Xander's face twisted. "Maybe I was going to. I hadn't decided until now."

"Embarrassed of me?"

"No," Xander said immediately. "I just don't know how to explain that I'm in love with you to them. Or about the fact that you're a Samuel for the Powers, announcing an upcoming apocalypse, and, ha-ha Buffy, you're not invited."

"You're in love with me?" Spike's voice was filled with wonder. "Admittedly?"

Xander thumped his forehead. "Oh yeah, that's right. I knew I was forgetting to tell you something."

Spike mock-growled. "You think you're funny, don't you?"

"I know I am."

"Uh-huh. Then why aren't I laughing?"

Xander smiled wickedly and raised his hands to tickle-attack position. Spike squealed like a stuck pig before Xander even touched him. The blond scrambled off the bed, snagged his underwear from the floor, and ran from the bedroom.

Laughing, Xander rolled out of bed, slid on his boxers, and followed at a more leisurely pace. "Hey, Spike," he called. "Random thought burp: once you're done collecting all your warriors, what then?"

Spike was in the kitchen, underwear on -- whimper -- removing a container of blood from the refrigerator. "Then nothing," he answered. "I go back to being my normal, non-glowy, gorgeous not-so-Big-Bad self."

"So this is only a one-time deal?" Xander asked for clarification, grabbing his room-temperature soda off the table.

"'S'right," Spike replied.

"Do you think, after you're done, you'll come back here, to Sunnydale?" Xander said casually, dumping the soda into the sink.

A lazy smile tugged up a corner of Spike's mouth. "I might be persuaded."

"You might, huh?" Xander took the blood from Spike, set it aside, and put his hands on the blond's hips. Dropping his head, he placed a soft kiss on Spike's mouth. "I do love you, you know."

"I know," Spike said, blue eyes twinkling. "But it's gonna take more than that to persuade me."

Xander's brow arched, and he silently accepted the challenge. He lifted Spike as if he weighed nothing -- which was practically true -- and set him on the kitchen table. The younger man pushed Spike back until he was laying on the hard surface. Then Xander lifted the vampire's legs and peeled the white jockey's down just far enough to expose Spike.

Luckily, Xander was young and he could get it up a fourth time in an evening. It wasn't that difficult of a task, either, with Spike splayed-out before him with his underwear like that. He shoved his boxers down, stepped out of them, and moved over Spike.

"I love you," Xander stated clearly, looking right at the vampire. Then, he slid home.

Spike reached for him, pulling him into a deep kiss. Their lips met and parted. Their tongues twined, dancing together to music only lovers could hear.

Xander adjusted his stance and, with long, steady thrusts, he took Spike right on the kitchen table.

And Spike took him to heaven in return.



*****

The Scooby Gang was gathered at the Magic Box, deciding who was going with who on their demon hunt when Xander finally arrived. Everyone immediately fell silent, and Xander knew by that that Giles had told them about Spike's presence in town. The silence, however, worked in Xander's favor. He took a deep breath, smiled, and made his announcement.

"I'm in love with Spike."



End