Perchance to Dream


by Saber ShadowKitten
Tiny Smiles 11








The door flew open to the science lab where Giles, Willow, and Xander were performing the spell to give Buffy the power of the First Slayer. A snarling, sharp-toothed demon burst in, with intent to kill. The spell had just been completed, leaving the three Scoobies weak as kittens and equally as defenseless.

[Or not so defenseless,] Xander thought with relief when the Bleached Wonder appeared almost instantly. The crack of the demon's neck breaking was swallowed by the sounds of explosions, gunfire, and fighting coming through the open lab door. It sounded as though the Initiative was going kaput. Xander hoped they would all make it out of the underground facility alive [and unalive.]

The brunette sought Spike's gaze, words of thanks on his lips. But they remained unspoken when he met the blond's eyes, and it was all he could do not to gather Spike in his arms and hold tight. Spike said nothing, nor did he have to, for even Willow and Giles could tell what had happened by the way the vampire stood and the tick in his cheek.

Adam had reneged. Spike still had the chip. [Buffy better have killed that bastard. If not, he and I are going to have words.] Xander didn't think he'd ever felt as furious as he did at that moment. The post-magick weakness vanished in a blink, replaced by barely controlled, shaking rage.

Buffy emerged from behind the wall in the back of the lab, followed by an injured Riley. She quickly looked over all her friends, pausing on Spike. Spike did not move, nor acknowledge her assessment. She suddenly cursed viciously, earning a stunned stare from Riley.

"Okay, people-like persons," Buffy said authoritatively. "Adam's unplugged. We're getting out of this hell hole."

With the Slayer leading and Spike taking up the rear, the "heros" cut a path through the chaos in the Initiative underground laboratory to an exit. Willow, Giles, and Riley collected any still-living humans they passed, and it was a ragged group that spilled out onto the UC Sunnydale campus. Xander was the bloodiest. He was also the only one completely uninjured.

Spike hovered near the blood-stained brunette as the saved soldiers surveyed their rescuers. The camouflaged men didn't try to approach, or even speak, to the vampire, not with the hard glare directed at them by Xander. A glare that read: I. Dare. You.

"Go home," Buffy told them, her expression cold. "You've caused enough trouble for one night."

"You heard the lady," Riley said. "Fall out."

Miller, according to his tag, studied Riley for a moment before nodding. "Let's go," he said.

None of the friends relaxed until the soldiers disappeared from sight. [Good-fucking-bye.] Willow immediately went off like a firecracker. "That was the coolest spell. Wasn't it the coolest? It was so cool," she gushed excitedly.

"It was rather exhilarating," Giles agreed, unfolding his glasses and slipping them on.

"Yeah. Cool." Xander searched the darkness for something to pummel. He could feel the misery radiating from the vampire standing beside him. [GodDAMNit.]

"Will you be okay?" Buffy asked Riley.

"I'll be fine," Riley replied, squeezing her hand. "I know I'll be called in for debriefing, so if you don't see me for awhile..."

Buffy nodded. "Try not to tell them too much about me. The Slayer's identity is supposed to be a secret."

"I won't volunteer information," Riley promised. He glanced at the others. "Thanks, guys."

[Bite me,] Xander thought as Iowa walked away. Riley was just as much to blame for Spike's fully operational chip as the other Initiative jerks. He might have "seen the light" when it came to the idiocy of the government program, but he still thought in black and white: all demons were 'hostiles' to him. It was a good thing Xander had broken up with Anya before Riley came into the picture. He didn't want to see the soldier's reaction to a 1,000-year-old ex-demon.

"Now what?" Willow asked, bouncing like a bunny on acid. "I don't know about you, but I'm wired. No sleeping for me anytime soon. No sleep for Wired Willow. Wasn't that spell cool?"

Buffy laughed. "Yes, Wills, it was way cool. And I'm wide awake girl, too," she said. "Do you guys want to do something? Have a little victory celebration?"

"It's not a victory," Xander said flatly. "We killed Adam, but Spike is still chipped. Our second objective was unsuccessful."

"Rain on our parade, why don't you," Buffy mumbled.

Xander closed in on her, invading her personal space and making her back up a step. "If it wasn't for Spike, we wouldn't even have victory over Adam. So, watch it."

He pivoted on his heel and stalked back to where Spike stood. Spike stared at Xander as if he couldn't decide whether to be awed or if the brunette had lost his mind. [Guess what, blondie, I lost my mind long ago.]

Buffy snapped out of her shock, but surprise at Xander's behavior still underlined her words. "I know we couldn't have succeeded without Spike's help. Although it sucks monkey balls that he still has the chip, I won't lie and say that I'm that disappointed." She gave Spike an apologetic smile. "Without that chip, I'd have to stake you. You know that."

"Yeah, I do," Spike said with a nod. His scarred brow rose. "'Sucks monkey balls,' eh?"

The Slayer blushed and shrugged sheepishly. "Well..."

Everyone laughed, including Xander. But that was only because Spike had entangled his fingers with Xander's, hiding their clasped hands behind his back. It wasn't like he hadn't held Spike's hand before. They held hands in the darkened movie theater and, at times, during car rides. Still, it never failed to make Xander giddy. [I'm holding Spike's hand! Dude!]

"Does this mean mini-party?" Willow asked. [If she doesn't stop bouncing soon, I'm gonna hurl.]

"I think so," Buffy said. "Xan?"

Xander glanced at Spike. [Speak up, bashful, if you want me to say nien.] There was no indication that the vampire wanted solitary cuddling instead, so Xander nodded in agreement. "I'm always up for post-slaying bondage. Movies at my place?" he suggested. Just because he conceded to be with his friends didn't mean he wanted to leave Spike alone at the apartment. [And I can guarantee that Spike won't want to party with us.]

"Spike?" Buffy inquired.

"Not a chance, ducks," Spike replied immediately, complete with disgusted look. [See?]

"How about you, G-man?" Xander invited. "Are you up for videos at Casa del Harris? You can even rent them."

"I take it that's a hint," Giles said with a good-natured smile. "Shall we say one hour?"

The group split up, Buffy and Willow going to their dorm, Giles heading for his convertible, and Xander and Spike to the Bel Air. Tarp draped over the passenger seat so as not to get demon blood everywhere, Xander let Spike drive home, with their hands clasped on the bench seat between them.

In the weeks that had passed since Spike had confessed about his arrangement with Adam, Xander and the vampire had become steadily closer. Spike was still insanely shy, though, and the physical part of their growing relationship was mostly confined to hand-holding and lightweight kisses. [Although every once in a while, I sneak a balls-blueing smooch that sends a flustery Spike for the hills.]

Spike, Xander discovered, was not only a virgin when it came to men, but also in "dating." Mr. Suave-and-Sexy had gone on exactly one date when he was a human, and that had been with his cousin to a county fair when he was eight-years-old. He hadn't beaten Xander's record of rejection only because he'd been as timid a human as he was with Xander now. After being turned, Spike instantly became Drusilla's, no dating involved there, and he stayed with her monogamously for over a century. There were two drunken sexual encounters post-breakup with the dark vampiress, and Harmony glommed herself to Spike on the third. [And Spike didn't even like Harmony.]

But Spike liked Xander, and Xander liked him [oh hell, I love the peroxide twit,] and their relationship was progressing slowly [grass grows faster] but surely. [Woohoo, look how quickly paint dries!]

They arrived at the apartment and Xander stripped to his skivvies outside the door. He left his bloodied clothes in a pile on the ground, entered the basement apartment, and deposited his wallet on the kitchen counter. "I'm taking a shower," he said to the blond rooting through the refrigerator. "If you leave before I get out, just remember to be careful."

"Right, careful," Spike said.

Xander waited a few seconds longer, but when the vampire continued to use the fridge as a cover, he silently sighed and retreated. Spike may be shy but he was still male, and that meant he didn't talk about his feelings all that often. Xander didn't necessarily need to hear the vampire's thoughts, but he knew what they'd be. But he also didn't want to overstep his bounds by presuming to understand. How could he, really? [I can't truly understand, but I can be rock-like and Spike can lean on me for however long he wants.]

Xander paused at the head of the hallway and looked back. His heart twisted painfully when he saw Spike. The blond held a packet of human blood in his hand and was staring at it without expression. The only tell that it wasn't just another meal was the faint trembling of his lower lip. Tears filled Xander's eyes as he watched Spike put the blood bag back into the refrigerator, removed a container of cow's blood, and went about preparing a mug for the microwave.

Xander silently continued on to the bathroom.



*****



Nerd Boy was in the bedroom, glasses in place and nose in a book, when Xander emerged after his shower. The blond was undressed, wearing only his socks and plaid sleep shorts. He was lying in bed, his toes tucked into the springs of the upper bunk, apparently in for the night.

Xander slid on clean comfy-clothes, hung his towel over the closet door, and perched on the edge of the bed beside Spike. Spike sighed dramatically, lowered his book, and looked over the rim of his half-glasses at the brunette. "What?"

[I love you. I'm sorry. I wish I could fix it.] "Nothing."

Spike frowned, the light from the arm-lamp above his head deepening the hollows in his cheeks. Xander dipped a finger in one of those dark wells, brushing the back of his knuckle against the vampire's cool skin. The frown smoothed as Spike turned slightly into the gentle touch.

"You sure you don't want to join us?" Xander asked in place of what he really wanted to say. "You are welcome, you know."

"Nah. Too much Slayer gives me cavities," Spike said. He gave Xander a bashful, tiny smile. "Thanks for inviting me, though."

Xander caught that tiny smile in a tiny kiss, then stood and headed out of the bedroom. "I'll be in the living room if you need me."

"Have fun."

The brunette sent Spike a smile before shutting the bedroom door behind him. He stood in front of the painted wood for a long moment, worrying his lower lip. He was unsure whether to insist the vampire join in the video watching or to leave him be.

With a sigh, Xander turned and headed into the living room. He'd check on Spike from time to time, re-inviting him with each visit. Xander didn't think the blond was suicidal, merely depressed. [God knows, I'd be.] Xander would have to be Supportive Man the next few days, and be prepared for another season of "Drunk Vampire Nightly." It was not Xander's favorite show.

Xander made a quick sweep of the apartment, dumping Spike's couch-found socks in the bathroom hamper and bagging the bloody clothes left in the outside hall. Popcorn was popped and sodas were put out. The television and VCR were set to go. And with good timing, too.

Buffy, Willow, and Giles arrived together, the ex-Watcher most likely chauffeuring the two girls. They were armed with a bag of videos and a bag of goodies [bulls-eyes, sourballs and gummy bears, oh my!] and wasted no time getting comfortable, the ladies on the couch and Giles taking the barcalounger.

"You didn't change Spike's mind, huh?" Buffy commented, folding herself into the corner of the couch. Her twin ponytails and baby pink tee made her look all of five-years-old.

"No." Xander pushed the video into the VCR. "He's hiding out in the bedroom. I might get him to come out later and join us."

"I hope he does," Willow said, pulling her green lightweight sweater over her knees. [So that's what she'd look like with big knockers.] "He deserves some TLC after Adam didn't hold up his end of the deal, the dead poopy-brain."

"I don't know how much we should sympathize with Spike," Giles said, carefully opening a can of soda. "After all, if Adam had completed his side of the bargain, Spike would currently be trying to kill us."

"True," Buffy said. "But until he actually is able to do that, he's one of our own."

"A fringe Slayerette," Willow said. "Or- or one of the extra Scooby characters, like Scrappy or Scooby Dum."

"Sounds great," Xander said, plonking his butt on the floor in front of the couch. "But one of you gets to tell him that he's either the most annoying character on the planet, or an idiot."

Buffy clapped and bounced. "Oh, I will! I will!"

"Buffy, sharrup and hit play," Xander told her with a dramatic sigh.

"I hope we got enough movies," Willow said. "I'm still wired from that spell."

"As am I," Giles agreed.

"I know what you mean," Buffy said. "Sleep is nowhere in my future, either."

"Shh, it's on," Xander scolded jokingly.

A green band proclaiming that the upcoming movie trailer was suitable for all audiences appeared on the television screen. The bright green color cast a sickly glow on the four sound asleep across from the television set.

"Coming soon to home video," the announcer proclaimed loudly, jarring Xander awake.

"I wasn't sleeping," Xander stated, sitting up straight. He quickly glanced back at his friends. [A proper host doesn't go to sleep ten minutes after the guests arrive... but, apparently, it's okay for the guests to sleep.]

Xander smirked. Buffy, Willow, and Giles were already sawing logs. [Everyone must be more worn out than we thought.] Xander grabbed a soda and turned back to the television. A red band lit up the small screen, proclaiming the upcoming trailer was restricted to adult audiences.

Xander heard the bedroom door open and he looked towards the hallway. "Hey, Spike," he called. "The troops are snoozing, if you want to come sit with me."

"Okay," Spike replied. He shuffled into view, game-faced and wearing a striped prison jumpsuit, his hands and ankles shackled by heavy chains.

The soda Xander held fell from suddenly nerveless fingers. It hit the floor and rolled, coming to a stop in front of the entertainment center. Dark soda spilled freely from the open can, seeping under the shelving and soaking the hardwood floor. The carbonated liquid flowed towards the power strip with black plugs rising from the multiple outlets like a nest of snakes.

Xander rose and rushed over to Spike. "What is this? Why are you shackled?" he asked, frightened, as he tugged on the chains. He searched the vampire's ridged face for a clue, and jerked back when Spike gave him a large smile. [Oh my God, his canines are missing!]

"What's wrong, Xander?" the fangless vampire said. "I though everyone liked me better this way."

A loud pop caused Xander to jump and he whirled towards the sound. White electrical sparks and dark tendrils of smoke came from behind the entertainment center. Buffy, Willow, and Giles were still asleep in their respective spots.

"I need to get the fire extinguisher," Xander said, turning back to Spike... only Spike was gone.

The brunette frowned and started down the hallway. "Spike?" he called, stopping in front of the closed bedroom door. The doorknob turned easily under his hand. "Spike?"

"This is extremely complicated."

Giles dropped the old tome on the dining table, dust poofing from the edges. He pointed to a passage, and Buffy, Willow, Riley, Tara, and Spike all leaned forward on their chairs surrounding the table. The rest of the older man's apartment was covered with open books, an air of studiousness surrounding those in the room.

"Este libro nada mas puede ser leido por gente inteligente," Giles said.

"Somos inteligentes," Buffy said. "Estamos en la universidad." Willow, Tara, and Riley nodded emphatically.

"Y yo tengo una lienciatura," Spike added.

"Ya vez, no hay gente sin educacion aqui," Willow said.

Xander stepped into Giles's living room. "Why are you guys speaking Spanish?" he asked confusedly. "And what happened to my bedroom?"

"Continua, Giles," Riley prompted. "Los que tuvimos suficiente inteligencia para llegar a la universidad estamos escuchando."

"Muy bien, esto es lo que dice," Giles began. "'Scooby Dooby Doo, donde estas? Necesitamos tu ayuda ahorrita.'"

[This is too weird,] Xander thought, pivoting on his heel. He went through the open doorway into his apartment hall, pulling the door shut behind him. He turned right, reaching out to grasp the doorknob on the door with a placard that read: CLOSET. Xander opened it and jumped back when something fell out.

"Oh, ha-ha. I get it," Xander said loudly, bending to right the skeleton. "Very funny, guys."

"Glad you think so, dude," the skeleton replied.

"AHH!" Xander dropped the skeleton and it broke apart as it hit the floor. Bones scattered. The skull rolled on the hardwood floor and came to a stop by his feet, its hollow eye sockets staring up at him.

"Xander, is that any way to treat your best friend?" the skull said in a voice Xander hadn't heard in years.

"Jesse?"

"In the flesh," 'Jesse' replied. "Well, bone, actually."

"But you should be dust," Xander said faintly. "I dusted you."

"Yeah. What's up with that?" 'Jesse' said. "I was only a vampire, bro."

In response, Xander turned and fled. [Not real, not real, not real...]

"I could've loved you back as a vampire, you know!" 'Jesse' yelled after him.

Buffy, Willow, and Giles were roasting hotdogs over the fire where Xander's entertainment center had been when Xander tore through the living room. He grabbed the front doorknob, yanked the door open, and ran outside into the garden. Green plants and young trees surrounded him, but he ignored their lushness until he tripped over a sprinkler hose and fell face-first into the soft dirt.

Healthy bushes lined the garden path to his right, bright pink and red flowers decorating them. To his left, rows of perfectly straight trees with green teardrop-shaped leaves ran along the dirt path. Small, square gold packets hung from the branches of the trees. Ahead of him, the path continued on as far as he could see.

"You have to be careful, Xander." Anya stooped over him, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and nothing else. She held a basket in her hands. "You're only human."

"Anya, you're naked," Xander pointed out, pushing himself to his feet. "Why?"

"I got tired of constantly having to take my clothes off, so now I don't wear any," Anya replied.

Xander blinked rapidly as she walked over to a row of trees, her bare bottom swaying enticingly. He cleared his throat. "You have sex that often?"

"All the time," Anya said, plucking a foil-wrapped condom off a tree and dropping it in her basket. "You were right. There are so many different types of people out there. I'm glad you broke up with me so that I could have intercourse with everyone."

"Uhhh..." Xander's head was spinning. [How the hell do you respond to that?]

The pruned bushes on the opposite side of the garden path began to rustle wildly. Any glanced over her shoulder at them. "You'd better go," she said to Xander. "You're only human."

Xander looked at the bushes, trying to see between the branches. He caught a glimpse of something grey and white. [Are those eyes?] "Yeah. I'd better go," he agreed. "I need to find a fire extinguisher anyway."

The brunette turned back to Anya, except she had become a bald man in a grey suit, holding a tray of cheese slices. "These won't protect you," the guy said stoically.

"Right." Xander glanced at the bushes as the rustling grew louder, then nodded to the cheese guy and hurried up the dirt path. He reached the door, opened it, and stepped inside.

Silence surrounded Xander, making his breathing sound loud in his ears. He walked slowly forward, his eyes affixed on the large, ornate stone pedestal in the center of the otherwise empty room. A bright white light shined from the ceiling over the pedestal, bathing the figure upon it in a luminescent glow.

Head down, Spike was on his hands and knees, unmoving. Nude. [Gah.] Xander circled the pedestal, drinking in the highlighted planes and shadowed valleys. His breathing became harsher, echoing against the walls of the empty room. He reached out a shaking hand towards the still figure, wanting to caress the marbleseque skin. He hesitated, fingers hovering over a muscular flank.

Xander abruptly dropped his hand, turned around, and gasped in pain. He stared in shock at the strange woman standing in front of him. Dark-skinned and primitive-looking, she bared her teeth in a feral smile. Without a word, she raised her hand and licked the blood from the still-beating heart she held.

Xander looked down at the gaping hold in his chest and frowned. [That's gonna leave a mark.]

"Xander."

The brunette spun around and saw Willow with her throat torn out standing beside Giles, who had been scalped and had an empty spot where his brain should've been. "Let me guess," Xander said. "New bad guy."

Willow nodded and held out her hand. Xander crossed to her and took it, and the three of them were suddenly back in Xander's living room. Buffy stood beside the unburned entertainment center in full fireman regalia, the word RESCUER written across her sleeve. She had a used fire extinguisher in her hands.

"Hi, Buff," Xander said, taking a seat on the floor as Willow and Giles took their respective seats. "What's the movie?"

"Chick fight," FireBuffy replied, pointing to the television. On the screen, another Buffy in a pretty dress was fighting with the black woman in rags who'd torn out Xander's heart. [Cool.] Xander reached for the popcorn on the couch behind him...

...and suddenly woke up.

Xander sat up straight and looked around wildly, seeing Willow, Buffy, and Giles in equally befuddled/worried states. The television was showing Saturday Night Live, the VCR tape having automatically stopped. [And there's a vampire on my lap.] Spike was also sitting up straight, straddling Xander's thighs and looking wildly at him.

"You're awake." Spike began running his hands over Xander. "Oh thank bloody God, you're awake."

"Why? What happened? Are you okay?" Xander asked quickly, wondering if something really had burned or there was a freaky-looking black chick present.

"You wouldn't wake up," Spike said, a hysterical edge to his voice. "None of you would, and you and Will and Rupert were seizuring. Only Buffy wasn't, but I couldn't wake any of you."

"Hey now, relax," Xander said soothingly, as if speaking to a wild animal. He ran his hands lightly up and down Spike's arms. "We're all awake now and fine. Right, guys?"

"I'm fine," Willow said. "Freaked, but fine."

"A bit shaky, but well enough," Giles added.

"I'm good. I think I kicked butt," Buffy said.

"Really?" Giles said. "You fought someone?"

"Yeah. This tough black chica in serious need of a bath," Buffy replied. "And a new wardrobe. All she had on was rags."

"She was in my dream," Willow gasped. "She ripped out my throat!"

"She was in my dream as well," Giles said thoughtfully.

"Me, too," Xander said, not breaking eye-contact with Spike. The vampire was seriously shaken. Xander wanted to pull him into a hug, but not with the others in the room.

Spike made resisting easy. He abruptly scrambled to his stocking feet and rushed out of the living room. The bedroom door closed with a slam.

Xander stood and followed, leaving the others discussing what appeared to be a shared dream. "Be back," he said over his shoulder.

Spike was curled in the top corner of his bed, thumb in his mouth and tears streaming down his cheeks, when Xander entered the bedroom. Xander firmly shut the door behind him, crawled across the bunk, and sat on his heels in front of the blond. He waited. [C'mon, baby, talk to me. What's going on in that brain of yours?]

The glistening thumb slipped from between pale pink lips and Spike sucked in a shaky breath of air before he spoke. "You scared me to life, Xan."

The seriously wigged expression on Spike's face squashed Xander's urge to laugh. Instead, he put his hand on Spike's ankle and squeezed gently. Spike blinked rapidly and went on.

"I came out to get a drink, and you and the others were seizuring and no one would wake up," Spike said thickly. "I wanted to call an ambulance, but when I checked your eyes they were glowing greenish-yellow, and I knew that doctors couldn't help... and nothing I did helped... and- and--"

Spike slapped his hands over his face and his shoulders shook as he hiccoughed several times. Xander itched to move, to take Spike in his arms, but he didn't. [Not yet. There's more. I know it.]

Xander was right, there was more. Spike dropped his hands and his blue eyes pierced Xander's heart. "I can't lose you, Xander," the teary blond confessed. "You're all I got left that's good."

[Oh god, Spike. I love you.]

"I know I'm acting like a bloody weepy chit," Spike said, upset. "But I just... I- I..."

Xander opened his arms, then, and Spike practically knocked him over. The breath whooshed out of Xander as Spike's arms closed tightly around him. [Ugh. Someone's been eating their Wheaties.] The brunette didn't complain, though. He simply hugged the vampire closely in return.

How could he ever have thought Spike was an unfeeling badass? The vampire had more feelings in his pinkie than Xander did in his entirety. [Damn, what a caring human you must've been, bashful. I bet you wore your heart on your sleeve.]

Spike eventually let go and knelt across from Xander. He gave the brunette a watery smile and dashed a hand across his cheeks. "You'd better get back out there," he said. "If what happened was supernatural, as I suspect, I want to know it."

"Are you joining us then?" Xander asked.

Spike shook his head. "I'm gonna stay in here, pet. Can't let on that I'm a wuss in wolf's clothing."

"Can't have that," Xander agreed with a tender smile. He leaned forward, kissed the blond's nose, then pressed their foreheads together. "But you and me, pal, we're going to do something alone together soonly."

"Oxymoron," Spike said with a tiny smile.

"Am not." Xander echoed the smile. Then he kissed Spike on the lips, softly and innocently. [Sigh.]

Reluctantly [oh so very reluctantly,] Xander broke the kiss, stood, and walked over to the door, putting distance between them. "I'm, uh, going now. Into the other room," he said gruffly. He glanced back at Spike and saw the blond watching him, with big blue eyes and fingers touching parted lips.

Xander had no question as to what his next dream would be about.



End







The translation:

"This is extremely complicated."

Giles dropped the old tome on the dining table, dust poofing from the edges. He pointed to a passage, and Buffy, Willow, Riley, Tara, and Spike all leaned forward on their chairs surrounding the table. The rest of the older man's apartment was covered with open books, an air of studiousness surrounding those in the room.

"Only intelligent people can read this book," Giles said.

"We're intelligent," Buffy said. "We're in college." Willow, Tara, and Riley nodded emphatically.

"And I hold a degree," Spike added.

"See, no uneducated people here," Willow said.

Xander stepped into Giles's living room. "Why are you guys speaking Spanish?" he asked confusedly. "And what happened to my bedroom?"

"Go ahead, Giles," Riley prompted. "Those of us smart enough to get into college are listening."

"Very well, this is what it says," Giles began. "'Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you? We need some help from you now."