Beauty Effulgent

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Sunday Morning Coming Down


Xander realized that he was going in circles the third time he passed beneath the marquee of The Sun. He stopped, trying to figure out why he was walking in the first place, considering that he had driven to the Bronze. Great, now his car was probably being used as a vampire necking place while he wandered the streets on foot.

He turned and headed toward his apartment, thoughts of retrieving his car and the rashness of strolling through Sunnydale after dark rising and then being dismissed as inconsequential.

Willow could bring Buffy back. Her death had been mystical. She was in hell. Xander focused on that last one. He was still trying to get his head around the idea that Willow had somehow known about this hell dimension stuff all summer long and had never bothered to tell anyone but Tara. He remembered trying to help Giles comfort Dawn with the idea that Buffy was no longer suffering, that she was being rewarded for all of her efforts as a Slayer, attempting to give substance to the meaningless, “She’s in a better place.”

And Willow had just sat there and listened, not offering information that it might not be true, after all, and that they should get moving on Operation: ‘Escape from Hell’ as soon as possible. So why hadn’t Willow said anything?

Xander closed his eyes as he remembered Willow’s reactions all summer. She’d seemed the least lost of any of them. Taking control on patrols, suddenly exhibiting a confidence that she’d never had before. She’s been planning this since the day we dug the grave, he realized. He remembered the glow in her eyes tonight as she detailed her plan. He also remembered the distant look on Tara’s face and her more silent than usual silence. But he also remembered that Tara had clung steadfastly to Willow’ hand while the plan had been unveiled. Still…

If Willow had noticed Tara’s less than rah-rah attitude, she hadn’t shown it. She’d just blathered on about urns and spells and how, really, it wouldn’t be that different than re-ensouling Angel.

When? he’d asked, and Willow had said soon, a few weeks, just until after Dawn went back to school. Don’t tell Dawn, don’t tell Spike, and soon Buffy will be back and all things will be made new.

Except that Buffy was dead, and dead was dead. Xander had a quick flash of vampires, zombies and mummy princesses, but dashed it away. He’d held Buffy’s limp, unresponsive body in his arms and lowered it into a coffin. He’d closed the lid over her face with hands that were scratched and bruised and nail scarred from building that coffin. Dead was dead.

And the thought of Buffy somehow walking back to them, smiling, was so creepy it literally made him sick to his stomach. She was dead. He’d had nine Sundays to get used to that idea. She wasn’t gone, she wasn’t away…she was dead.

And maybe if Willow had dropped this knowledge on them from the beginning, it wouldn’t be so hard now to understand. But to let them bury her and mourn her…and then to smile at him like she was going to wiggle her nose and presto – dead no more? But you couldn’t, or you shouldn’t, and, God, I don’t want Buffy to be in hell, but she was dead.

Hell, maybe Willow would have told him earlier, but he’d barely spoken to any of them since they day they carried Buffy’s broken body, wrapped in Giles’ jacket, back to the house. But then Anya had been hurt and Dawn hadn’t spoken for three days and Giles had seemed more broken than the body he’d never taken his eyes from until they put it in the ground. Then one night Spike suggested that they go patrol and Giles had hesitantly agreed. They’d found themselves racing around a cemetery, Willow barking telepathic orders and Tara casting spells, Giles and Spike giggling at each other in almost hysterical delight and the ‘Bot trying to stake everything that moved.

Xander had been following his ‘jump the vamp, get knocked down, hear Anya scream look out!’ strategy that usually more or less worked. That night, he’d been grabbed from behind, his stake pointed uselessly in front of him, hearing Anya babbling behind him and then seeing Spike streak out of nowhere, knocking the vamp off of him and hearing the eruption of a dusting behind him. Spike had moved on, turning back briefly to say, “Gotta be more careful, mate,” and Xander had looked down at the dust-free stake in his hands, wondering for the first time in five years, What the hell am I doing here?

Anya had walked up to him, beating the dust from the back of his jacket, and he had turned to her and said tonelessly, “Dammit, Jim – I’m a carpenter, not a Slayer.”

Anya had nodded back to him absently, breezing over the strange new nickname and said helpfully, “Yes, honey, you’re very good at nailing things.”

Xander looked up, realizing he had walked past his building. He could see the red glow on the balcony and suddenly he was running, taking the stairs two at a time and jerking open his unlocked front door. He saw Spike calmly closing the patio door behind him as he turned to face Xander, any lingering irritation from their fight earlier that day not showing on his face.

Xander felt the sudden energy surge plummet, and he stood unmoving, his heart pounding and his lungs aching with each breath.

“Where’ve you been?” Spike asked as he went to slip his cigarettes back into his duster. “Been waiting here for over an hour and I’ve spent the past several trying to teach the Niblet how to cheat at Rummy while the soddin’ ‘Bot just sat and stared at me, and well, creepy is what that is.”

The ‘bot. The Buffybot that Spike had built because he couldn’t have her any other way.

“So you’ll have to forgive me if my patience is a little thin,” Spike continued.

“Don’t talk,” Xander said, crossing the room to him and bending to take Spike’s mouth in a rough kiss. He’d always been told that he was a good kisser, but he didn’t attempt any technique this time, his lips hard and reckless as they drove into Spike’s. Spike didn’t seem to mind the lack of precision, opening his mouth under Xander’s and using his tongue to fence fiercely back, and then making Xander groan as he pulled away.

“Xander? What…?” Spike asked, attempting to lean back in Xander’s tight hold to meet his eyes.

Xander shook his head, “No words, no words,” he muttered, and he bent his head back to Spike, sucking hard on that full bottom lip until Spike shrugged and pressed back against him, reaching up to grab the back of Xander’s neck and taking control of the kiss.

Xander’ hands slid down from their bruising grip on Spike’s shoulders and slipped beneath his arms to span his chest, his thumbs absently rubbing at nipples that pebbled up beneath a thin t-shirt. Xander tightened his fingers around the hard muscles of Spike’s chest, marveling at the small frame that his hands seemed to make all that much smaller, and at the strength and danger that radiated from it.

Spike moaned happily at Xander’s roughness, and Xander dropped his hands, rucking up Spike’s shirt up to explore bare flesh. He felt Spike’s stomach muscles contract reflexively and then Spike was breaking away, gasping, “Hands are cold, mate.”

Xander backed away, raising his hands so that Spike could see how they trembled. “This is what you do to me,” Xander said roughly, grabbing one of Spike’s hands in his and feeling how warm Spike felt in comparison, “I think about you, about seeing you, about touching you, and my hands start freezing and I start shaking like I’m going through withdrawal and I saw your fucking shadow on the balcony and I got hard, Spike.” He looked up at Spike’s shocked gaze, “What are you doing to me?”

“Nothing you didn’t ask me to do,” Spike said, moving back against him.

Xander backed off again, dropping Spike’s hand, “Then why?”

“Why am I?” Spike asked, pulling his shirt over his head and dropping it and then moving in to rest a palm firmly against Xander’s chest, “Should be obvious.”

He looked up into Xander’s wide-eyed stare that couldn’t quite meet his own. “Think I’m playing you, is that it?” He grabbed Xander’s still shaking hand, drawing it to the hard bulge beneath his jeans. “Can’t fake this, love. I’m not stupid enough to ask you to trust me, Xander, but this,” he said, leaning in to suck softly at the skin of Xander’s neck, “this you can believe.”

Xander shook his head, laughing harshly, “Okay, any port in a storm, right? You want to get laid and I look like the poster boy for desperation. So you get your rocks off and then – what? We hang out – kill monsters, play a few games of pool? ‘Cause I’m really not sensing long term, here. Somehow I don’t see me referring to you as my undead life partner and asking if you want to adopt Dawn.”

“What are you so afraid of, Harris?” Spike asked, concentrating on sliding his hands beneath the back of Xander’s shirt, his fingers working the tight muscles there as his lips brushed softly in the hollow below Xander’s ear, “Rupert’s not here to cast a disapproving eye, no Slayer to dust me for corrupting one of her mates.”

Xander swallowed hard, forcing his thoughts away from Buffy and back to the hypnotic rumble of Spike’s voice, “And Red and her girl? Well, people in glass houses. And somehow I think Dawn would think it was…neat,” Spike finished with a small laugh, his hands sliding down to curve around the seat of Xander’s jeans. “Besides,” Spike said, pulling Xander in to begin grinding against him slowly, “didn’t think you were into long-term, anymore.”

Xander reached back, taking Spike’s hands and tugging then away from him, “Anya…Anya loved me, couldn’t stand the idea of hurting me and gave me everything she had and I couldn’t get away from her fast enough. But you…you piss me off, and then you make me laugh and then you,” Xander’s grip tightened on Spike’s fingers, “you make me want things I never knew I wanted and being here like this makes everything just…shut up for a while and that feels…really amazing and it shouldn’t because I don’t deserve…” he stopped, feeling Spike’s fingers turn in his, holding his hands, the thumbs stroking his wrists lightly.

“’S not about deserving,” Spike said, his voice low so that Xander was forced to watch his lips move to hear the words, “I deserve to have died a long time before you even knew things like me went bump in the night. You deserve to feel like an utter git for not telling demon girl the truth and just getting your happy and moving on instead of stringing her along. But deserving or not, we’re both still here, and we both know how easily that can change. And there are so many things we could be doing, instead of blithering on about whether or not we deserve to.”

Xander jerked his hands away from Spike, spinning back toward the bedroom. “I can’t,” he said, shaking his head as he walked away, “I can’t do this…and I’m not going to. So, sorry I led you on, Spike, and thanks for the ‘happy,’ and, hey,” he said, looking back as he pushed the door to his room open, “stick around, ‘cause maybe there’ll be another sale on diamond solitaires and if you catch me during an apocalypse – who knows?”

Spike followed him into the bedroom, closing the door behind him. He met Xander’s glare with a shrug. “Can’t hurt my feelings, pet. Stakes and crosses – but words will never hurt me.” He crossed his arms over his bare chest, his expression grave but his eyes lighting up a little as he flexed slightly and saw Xander’s eyes follow the motion.

“So Buffy’s dead,” Spike eyes flashed with pain but then he lifted his chin and continued. “Sad, that, but a Slayer’s tie to this world is always tenuous. She fought well, died saving her sis and an undeserving world in the process. You figured out that getting married while still getting used to the novelty of having to shave every day wasn’t, just maybe, the wisest course of action. Your Watcher felt like a world without a purpose wasn’t worth hanging around in and he carted the reality of your indecision off with him. Now you’re wondering why you’ve struggled to fight this fight, when it wasn’t your mission, it wasn’t your calling and it’s rather pointless now and you’re also wondering if you’re the only one who feels that way. And, here’s a bit of ‘dear, God, what have I done,’ on top of all that – you suddenly realize that you’re feeling all hot and trembly, or maybe cold and trembly, in your case, for someone you’d just as soon seen dusted a while back. How am I doin’ so far?”

Xander stared back at him and then dropped to sit on the edge of the bed, lacing his fingers and looking at the floor. “She’s gone,” he said quietly, “She’s gone and I don’t know if I did all of that just for her or because it was the right thing to do but it doesn’t matter, because now I don’t even know what the right thing is. And Giles – he gets a get out of the Hellmouth free card and I’m supposed to just step in – but if I don’t, what happens to Willow and Dawn? Five years, Spike, and I know that’s not a lot to you, but for five years I got to hide in the mix – not having to grow up because I could live the fairytale forever. No one dies and the good guys win in the end and yay us, because that’s the way it supposed to be, and that’s the way it was.”

Xander looked up and met Spike’s gaze and then Spike dropped his arms and walked slowly over to him. His hand reached up and cupped Xander’s cheek, strong fingers sweeping over the curves of mouth and chin, “So, I’ll ask you again, Xander, and remember, you can’t hurt me – or at least you can’t do more to me than others have done before you. What do you want?”

To be able to stand still for a minute and not have to fight anymore. To feel your arms around me and let someone else be the heart, for once, even if theirs isn’t beating. To know that you’re not just laughing at me and that you want me like I want you and that I’m not just a substitute for something that you might get back someday.

And when was last time anyone had cared what he wanted? His lips parted and he said, “This,” and then before either of them could add to that, Xander’s face was pressed against Spike’s hard stomach, his cheek hot and damp as his tears wet the cool skin below it. His fingers clenched around Spike’s hips and he felt a hand hesitantly threading through his hair as he was pulled closer.

Xander cried for Buffy, aloud this time, and for his own weakness in not saving her, and for his guilty relief that with her had died a life less ordinary. He cried for Anya and things he couldn’t take back and for Giles and the sadness and anger and quiet joy he’d felt at his leaving and not having to be answerable anymore. He cried for hating Spike and wanting Spike and at the tenderness he felt coming from him that was so much scarier than the posturing of the Big Bad.

Xander eased back, feeling Spike’s fingers tighten briefly on the back of his neck and then drop away. “Okay,” Xander sighed tiredly, not looking up, “go ahead. Laugh.”

Rough fingers grasped his chin and jerked it up. “I’ve never mocked pain, Harris,” Spike said, his own eyes wet but burning hotly, “I’ve caused it, and I’ve reveled in it and I’ve worshipped at its bloody feet – but I’ve never found it amusing. I don’t need a bleeding soul to feel it, either. Remember that when you’re wondering why I’m still here, waiting to have my teeth kicked in.”

Spike dropped to his knees, his hands running slowly up Xander’s legs from ankle to thigh. “Now, confession’s good for the soul and all that,” he quirked an eyebrow, “what do you want?”

“You,” Xander whispered.

“Thought so,” Spike smiled and then Xander felt himself falling back against the mattress as Spike’s body covered him and cool lips met his.

Spike kissed him with need and want and promise and Xander met him all the way, his hands running restlessly over Spike’s back and then clutching at his arms, his ass, the curve of his neck.

“That’s it, lover,” Spike moaned, feeling Xander arching beneath him and hands scrambling for the waist of Spike’s jeans.

“Don’t call me lover,” Xander mumbled, his mouth opening around Spike’s collarbone.

“That’s it, then, puppy boy,” Spike laughed into the curve of Xander’s neck.

“Lover’s good,” Xander said, his cheeks feeling stiff with tears but relaxing with the grin that tugged at them.

Spike kicked his jeans off and then made short work of Xander’s, his fingers ripping at the over shirt the boy was wearing, sending buttons flying.

“Hey,” Xander complained half-heartedly as Spike shoved his t-shirt up and attacked his chest with his lips and tongue.

“I’ll sew ‘em back on,” Spike breathed against Xander’s breastbone and then raised his head when he felt Xander still beneath him, “Forget I said that,” he mumbled, his lips latching around Xander’s nipple.

“Forget what?” Xander groaned as Spike’s tongue made slow circles and then blunt teeth scraped across his chest. “Hang on,” he said, pushing Spike back to sit up and tear the t-shirt over his head, throwing if off the bed and sending his boxers after it, “Okay, come here.”

Spike fell back against him, rubbing teasingly against Xander, letting his cock drag up Xander’s thigh and then across his stomach, leaving a cool wet trail behind it. Xander bucked under him, his hands trying to map all of Spike’s skin at once. Spike’s hands roamed just as greedily, smiling as he realized that Xander’s hands might be undead cold, but the rest of him was living, blood boiling hot. His fingers found a thick scar behind the crook of a knee, the soft, hairless inside of a thigh, and that trailing his fingers down the cleft between Xander’s buttocks produced a truly cartoonish yelp.

Spike’s lips followed his hands and he decided to fulfill his part of a week-old promise as they encircled Xander’s cock, learning the swell of the head that butted against the back of his throat, tracing the length of the vein that throbbed beneath his tongue. He swallowed around the hardness, hearing Xander moan and then feeling fingers in his hair and lifting his head to see if he was being asked to stop. Again.

He met Xander’s eyes and watched him give a slow shake of his head. “Just proving it was you,” Xander said, lifting his hips to brush his glistening length against Spike’s lips, “More,” he commanded.

Spike chuckled and dipped his head again, waiting until he felt Xander’s cock slide into the back of his throat before leaning forward and using the tip of nose to write his name in Roman script against Xander’s pubic bone. Xander’s hips rocketed up and he made some inarticulate sound that might have been, “Spike” or “Christ,” so Spike ducked his head again, writing it in Greek letters this time and having to relax his throat a bit more to keep sigma from looking like epsilon.

“I don’t know what you’re doing,” Xander groaned, “but don’t stop.”

“Running out of lessons, pet,” Spike said, his lips sliding away from Xander. He looked up again, and then rested his chin against Xander’s groin and wiggled it, feeling crisp hairs tease at his jaw, “What do you want, Xander?”

Xander sighed, shifting his thighs restlessly beneath Spike, “How many times do I have to say it, you egocentric, orally endowed vampire? You – I want you.”

“No,” Spike chuckled, sending shivery vibrations through Xander’s cock. “What do you want to do?”

“Oh,” Xander said in a small voice. He took a deep breath and said, “Left side – behind the blue lava lamp.”

Spike got to his knees, leaning over Xander to fumble along the built-in bedside, his fingers closing over a – half-empty tube of Astroglide. Well, well.

He looked back down into Xander’s flushed face, seeing determination and lust war with fear and embarrassment. Spike tossed the lubricant into the air, catching it, “Sure about this, pet?”

Xander cleared his throat, “Does it hurt?”

Spike’s eyes flashed as remembered rough hands clenching his hips, a punishing hardness ramming into him, slicked up only with blood, or maybe a handful of spit, as well, if Angelus was feeling romantic.

Spike shook his head, clearing it, “Doesn’t have to – not the way we’re going to do it.” He popped the cap on the tube, squeezing some of the gel into his palm. He kept his eyes on Xander’s, easing his hand between them to glide his fingers slowly over the hot length of Xander’s cock and cupping his balls.

Xander jerked. “It’s c-cold,” he stuttered.

Spike stopped, and then reached for Xander’s hand, rubbing the slickness into it and then closing Xander’s fingers over it. He waited a few seconds, letting Xander’s now warm hand heat it up. He opened the fingers again, pulling Xander’s hand down until both of their fingers brushed against the tight opening.

Xander gasped again, this time from the unfamiliar sensation. “Feels weird,” he said softly as he drew his hand away, allowing Spike’s fingers to ease into him.

“Bad weird or good weird?” Spike asked, his voice low and tight.

Xander shook his head, “Don’t know yet. I’ll get back to you.”

Spike smiled and then leaned down, letting his fingers ease in deeper as he parted Xander’s lips with his tongue and kissed him deeply. He felt Xander start to relax against him and added another finger, shuddering at the warmth and the tightness clenching around him. His fingers slid slowly back and forth as he savored the heat from Xander’s body.

He felt Xander’s hand fumbling in the sheets and then heard a soft click. A few moments later, a warm, slick hand was reaching down to glide up and down Spike’s erection, and he arched his back, breaking the kiss to look down at Xander with lust-darkened eyes. “You ready?” he breathed.

Xander hitched against him, his head turning to look at the nightstand and the half empty bottle beer from a couple of nights ago. Hot and gross, yeah, but…

“No,” Spike said quietly, turning Xander back to face him. “I only wanna taste you.”

Xander nodded jerkily, licking his lips. “I’m ready.”

“Won’t hurt you, love,” Spike said, dropping his head to kiss down Xander’s body until he was settled between strong but slightly shaking thighs. No intent to hurt, no bloody mind melting pain, right? he reminded the chip.

He slid Xander’s legs over his arms, lifting them until they draped over his shoulders and pressed forward, easing his way in slowly and feeling Xander tighten around him. “Shh, shhh,” Spike whispered, keeping his body stilled while everything in him told him to find his way deep inside all that glorious warmth. “Slow, yeah?”

Xander closed his eyes, reaching down to take hold of Spike’s hands that rested on his hips, “Okay,” Xander agreed.

Spike pressed harder, feeling a slight give and then suddenly sliding almost all of the way in and stopping with a harsh groan.

“Stop, stop,” Xander gasped, “Burns. It burns.”

“’S okay,” Spike said soothingly, tightening his fingers on Xander’s. “Just let me,” he twisted his hips slightly, drawing back and then pressing in again, feeling Xander jerk against him, crying out in pleasure this time, as Spike showed him something he’d never learned on him own.

“Don’t stop, don’t stop,” Xander gasped again. “Feels good…don’t listen to me. Just do that again.”

Spike grinned and then pulled almost all of the way out and slid all the way back in, giving that little hip twist again and swallowing Xander’s happy groan with a hot kiss. He stayed there, kissing slowly and deeply as his body shook in reaction to the heat. The kind of heat that warmed you from the inside, making you shiver at first and then filling your entire body until you felt like you were on fire. Even his sodding toes felt warm.

He started to move then, easing his hands out of Xander’s grasp and moving them to the boy’s hips to pull him closer. “Come on,” he muttered to Xander, “move with me, let me feel you…oh, bloody hell, yes, Xander, like that,” as Xander thrust back against him, crying out.

Spike knew he wasn’t going to last long. Too long since this acceptance, this want, this feeling. He dropped a still slick hand between their bodies and eased it around Xander’s hard flesh, rubbing faster when he felt Xander starting bucking against him.

“Yeah, love,” Spike sighed, “let it go…that’s it, God.” Spike realized he was getting close to whispering poetry, but didn’t care. The only thing that mattered was the warm body shaking beneath him, the dark eyes staring into his with dawning awareness, the full parted lips that were answering back, “Yes, Spike, oh my God, Spike. Spike.”

Spike thrust harder, trying to ease back because he didn’t want Xander to be too sore to do this again, and soon, but he really didn’t think Xander minded, from the way he was twisting and moaning beneath him.

Suddenly the tightness surrounding his cock clamped down harder and Xander was yelling and this time it was something like, “Jesus, Spike!” which made him grin in completely unholy glee. The smile was wiped off his face as felt hot pulses cover his hand and chest as Xander slammed up into him again, harder and faster.

Spike wasn’t sure if his answering, “Christ, Xander!” was heard, but he was sure the boy felt the shuddering against him and the cool flood that burst from Spike as he rode out his orgasm.

Spike fell across Xander’s chest, and then rolled carefully to the side, pulling him Xander with him. “You okay?” he murmured, brushing his lips across a hot forehead.

Xander closed his eyes, nuzzling into Spike. “More than okay. New favorite thing. Never doing anything else.”

Spike laughed, pulling Xander even closer and curving a leg over a warm, damp hip. “Never say never,” he said, bending to whisper against Xander’s lips. “And don’t forget, you still get to try topping me.”

Xander’s eyes flew open, tired but glowing hotly. “I totally forgot about that. This is amazing. You’re amazing. I feel amazing. I’m going to stop saying amazing, but this feeling is...more than a feeling. I feel a song coming on.”

Spike groaned, closing his eyes, “Don’t. Thought you liked me, now.”

“Like,” Xander nodded back. “There’s like and lust and happy and, oh, kind of sleepy.”

“Go to sleep,” Spike said, dropping a kiss on Xander’s lips and then turning away to push a pillow under his head.

Xander eased up behind him and eyed the slightly stiff set of Spike’s back and then went for it. His arms slid around Spike, pulling him back against him. He felt Spike relax and then dropped his head forward, letting it rest against Spike’s neck.

Fear coiled in his stomach, replacing the feelings of discovery and mindless calm. I could get used to this so easily, he thought, only to lose it. Lose Spike or lose Buffy forever. Only the Hellmouth would ask him to make that choice. But Buffy was already gone, and that hurt had been faced and dealt with…mostly. Bringing her back wasn’t going to answer all of the questions, and Spike was here in his arms, and he was so raw and so open and it wasn’t just about a quick fuck and then a laugh at Xander’s attempts to figure out what it was about. But to break Willow’s heart, and Dawn’s in the process, or lose the only peace he’d known in months...

“I don’t think I could,” Xander said softly into Spike’s now warm skin, not sure which choice he was talking about.

“What’s that, love?” Spike mumbled into the pillow.

Xander tightened his arms around Spike. “I said I feel good,” he answered, hoping Spike would think the shakiness in his voice was just after-glow giddiness.

Spike ground back sleepily against Xander’s groin. “That you do, pet,” he said, dropping a kiss onto the hand that clutched his chest and settled into sleep.

Xander lay awake trying to think his way out of a no-win situation, until a soft yet hard body turned in his arms, a blond head settled into the curve of his neck and a cool hand made slow, gentle circles across his chest, lulling him to sleep.

Part Eleven

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