PART FOURPart Five
Spike pushed himself up, avoiding Xander’s horrified stare, although he couldn’t miss the erratic heartbeat and
strangled gasps. He bent down next to the chair, fishing through the refuse for another bottle. He opened it, flinging the
cap across the room, and took a huge – manfully – inhuman swig.
“You…you kissed me,” finally choked out through the gasping behind him.
“Did not,” Spike said, turning to look at Xander, seeing the shocked eyes, the patches of white standing out against
alcohol reddened cheeks.
Xander stumbled to his feet. “Yes! You did! You…were…and there were tongues…and, oh my God, Spike…I
just broke up with my girlfriend and you get me all drunk and try to,” Xander gave a full-body shudder. “Press
your vamp lips and your undead…parts all over me?!”
“You’re drunk, Xander,” Spike said calmly. “You’re imagining things.” He shrugged, raising
the bottle. “Can’t drink with the big boys? Don’t belly up.”
“Wait,” Xander said, bracing himself against the tomb. “You, Evil Undead, my new, favorite, best buddy type
guy, kissed me and then you said it was a bad idea. Like it was my bad idea.”
Spike held up two fingers, turning them toward his eyes and then toward Xander’s, wriggling them slowly. “Never.
Xander frowned, shaking his head. “Spike. Blurry, suddenly gay Spike, you do not have the power of thrall. You cannot
make me forget – ack – you, who do not even like me, tonguing me like you were trying to get to my chocolaty center.
And, ew, why am I still talking?”
Xander started to make his way out of the crypt, steadying himself with, well mostly crashing into, the few items that could
be called furniture in the room.
“Harris. Wait,” Spike said, grabbing at Xander’s arm as he drunkenly staggered past. “You’re
“Back off!” Xander yelped, jerking back and almost losing his footing as he fell over the chair. “I don’t
know what you thought, but this – huh-uh. Not what I…I mean, I know we got all giggly and sharey, but I never
meant to…and you were just the only one I thought…”
“Xander,” Spike bit out impatiently. “You can’t drive. You can barely walk. You’re not going
Xander stood up, forcing himself to stand without swaying. “Not driving. Nope. But walking? Got it. See?” He started
away from Spike with slow, carefully measured steps and heard Spike sigh behind him.
“Right, then. Hang on a mo’. Let me find a marker so’s we can write ‘Bite Me, Please’ on your
shirt, in case some of the slower fledges don’t clue in from the lovely cocktail of booze, fear and ‘hurt me’
you’re puttin’ out there.”
Xander turned an uncertain gaze toward the door, and looked back at Spike, considering. He seemed to be finding the unknown
army of fledges the lesser of two evils. Spike bit back an irritated curse and raised his hands, backing away.
“Just…listen, you can stay here.” Xander looked back at him, his eyes heavy-lidded and dazed, but still
fearful. “It was a mistake, Xander.” Spike smiled at him wryly. “My mistake. Won’t happen again,
right? So, c’mon then, sit down before you fall down.”
Spike pulled Xander around the chair and shoved him none too gently into it, smirking as Xander brushed his hands away. “’S
all right, Harris. Go to sleep.”
Xander nodded sleepily, twisting around in the chair to get comfortable, his gaze still on Spike and still slightly suspicious.
Spike held up two fingers again, pointing them first toward his eyes and then Xander’s, pushing the eyelids gently down.
Xander smiled in spite of himself. “Yes, Master,” he said, grinning woozily, and then he was out, his eyes closed
tightly, mouth slightly open.
Spike stood staring down at him for a moment, and then turned and found his way down the steps to his bed below.
He pulled the black t-shirt over his head, tossing it across the room and then grimacing as it landed in a puddle left from
last night’s rain. Right. His boots were carefully removed and placed as far away from the leaking area as possible.
He unbuttoned his jeans and shoved them down his legs, draping them over the end of the bed. Naked, he lay down in musty,
cold, empty sheets and crossed his arms behind his head. He stared at the ceiling, making designs out of the patches of mold,
and trying to pinpoint exactly when his life had entered the realm of complete, buggering insanity.
When was the last time he’d just sat and talked to someone? Had to have been Dawn, her so scared that she was something
wrong and evil, that it had made him seem almost fluffy in comparison. If he tried hard enough, he could twist some of his
shoving matches with Buffy into actual conversations. Before that? One didn’t converse with Dru…one danced and
sang and shuddered with dark passion, but a cuppa and a chat? No. And somehow he and Angel never managed to work in a pint
and a trip back through the glory days between the demon raising, world ending and cuckolding the other vampire was bent on.
So. Bleedin’ Harris, the Slayer’s droopy-eyed lap-dog, decides to be the big man and put aside over three years
of brawling and spitting and generally trying to annoy the hell out of each other. Shares a drink like a regular mate and
doesn’t snicker when Spike told the tale, complete with grandiose Shakespearean overtones, of the love of a vampire
for a slayer. Then the boy goes and decides to live and part of that living is not lying to himself anymore, so he cuts his
girl loose before he hurts either of them further. Noble, one could call it, well, possibly not in the demon bint’s
perspective, but honest in any event.
So he comes to tell his new pal Spike of his life changing decision, because Spike has shown him the light that somehow it’s
better to suffer for want of real love than live with a pale imitation. And then he drank. Bloody hell, the git could drink.
Must be hereditary, Spike thought, remembering the trash bin overflowing with cheap liquor bottles outside the boy’s
basement. Shares whiskey with him, bares his soul and listens to Spike tear Angel a new one with a happy grin and ready quip.
And just when Spike had relaxed and decided that maybe one of the few positives of losing Buffy would be that he could build
new…alliances with her mates, he did what he always did. He wanted more. More than Xander was ready to give, and really
more than Spike had meant to ask for.
But he’d sat there comfortable, laughing for the first time since he’d watched a lady fall from a tower like the
grimmest of fairy tales, and he’d recognized it. There, beneath the mist of Jack Daniels and dust and sweat and all
of the lovely aromas of human skin, he could smell it. Want. Rolling off of Xander, just as it used to from Buffy. But different,
because Buffy had been trying like all hell to hide hers, and Xander wasn’t really aware of his. But it was there, faint,
musky and sweet, telling Spike everything he needed was in touching distance. Acceptance. Interest. Affection.
Irritated at his own borderline broodiness, Spike flipped angrily over onto his stomach. Okay, so he had. Touched. And the
moment his lips had taken Xander’s, he’d known it had gained him nothing, and had probably bloody well cost him
anything that was left.
Xander woke with a taste in his mouth like some tiny woodland creature had crawled in there and died a slow, lingering death.
He sat up slowly with a groan and then stilled. Moving. Moving triggered pain. His back muscles spasmed, unable to hold the
pose for long, and he fell back against the chair as the pain behind his eyes flared again.
Okay. Hangover. Not the first one, this was just the advanced class. His head pounded, his eyes burned and every muscle in
his body felt like it had been ripped out and shoved back in, wrong. Ah, yes, evil whiskey of the evil kind. Why in God’s
name had he…oh, fuck. Anya.
He’d told Anya he couldn’t, and then just let her walk out. And then he had gone to Spike’s…oh, fuck.
Xander jumped out of the chair, instantly regretted that decision, and stood for a minute as blood pounded from the giant
knot of horror in his head to flow back into areas that had long been without.
Legs mostly working, he crept carefully to the door and opened it to find suddenly lethal sunlight frying his eyeballs. His
heart contracted with horror. Oh, God, I’ve been turned! Oh, oops. Still just the hangover.
His eyes squinted almost shut, he limped back to his car and turned the ignition. A sudden thrust of his fist cracked the
volume button as, “Oh, Mickey, you’re so fine!” blared out of the worth-more-than-the-whole-damn-car speakers.
Evil noises of dubious pop silenced, he peered at the time display. 11:50 a.m.
So, where to now, Plan Guy, he thought to himself. Home was where the shower and the aspirin lived, but home was…Anya.
Shit. It wasn’t fair to feel this bad when you felt this bad. He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel until
even that noise vibrated in the massive wall of pain that had once been his careful, Mr. Reliable brain.
His hands tightened on the steering wheel for a minute and then he was putting the car in gear and backing out. He was going
where he should have gone in the first place. A place with no possibly vengy jilted fiancées, no evilly cheerful sunbeams
stabbing into his head and no confusing thought-he-was-my-friend demons with naughty…gah. He was not thinking about
that. He was the only asshole he could take right now.
The Summers’ house was cool and blissfully dark and not the home of demonic sunbeams. It was also really quiet, which
was a surprise. Though a house of mourning, it was usually rattling with the strains of sugary pop and shoe theft accusations.
Xander walked into the kitchen, hoping to find aspirin, and instead found his best friend, stirring honey into a cup of tea
with the air of a guru awaiting her pupil.
“Xander.” He watched as her eyes took in his rumpled and stained clothes, his blood-shot eyes and his shaky legs.
“Look pretty bad, huh?” he asked, leaning on the counter.
She shrugged lightly, taking a sip of her tea. “’Bout like you smell.”
“Thanks.” He walked over to the cabinet next to the sink, hunting for painkillers, possibly pain obliterators.
“Kinda quiet. What’s up with Tara and Dawn?”
“I sent them on to the…woods,” Willow said quietly. “I told them we’d see them after.”
Xander closed his eyes as his hand gripped the bottle of pain medicine. Oh, shit. Sunday.
He turned around and saw Willow still watching him carefully. “You know, huh? About Anya.”
“Yeah,” Willow said softly, and then suppressed a sneer. “She came by at 6:00 a.m. this morning to demand
our keys to the Magic Box and said we wouldn’t be having our ‘demon killer’ club meetings there anymore.”
Willow smiled a little snarkily, tapping her spoon against her cup. “Can’t wait to see what Giles says about that.”
She sighed, turning to face him again. “I know, Xander. I know that she’s hurt, anyway. I’m not going to
repeat the words she called you, because I think the blush has finally faded from hearing them.”
Xander winced, nodding cautiously.
“Wanna tell me what happened?” Willow asked, reaching out to take his hand in hers.
Xander squeezed it briefly and then let it drop back into her lap. “I came home from mowing to find Ultimatum Anya waiting
for me.” He looked at the cute little Willow crinkles forming on her forehead and smiled sadly. “At the Magic
Box…the day we went to face Glory?” Willow nodded back slowly, the worry in her eyes deepening, “I asked
Anya to marry me.”
Willow’s chin quivered for a minute and then she swallowed. “And you didn’t tell me – us – why?”
Xander sighed, “Because she turned me down. She made me promise to ask her again when we all didn’t die, to prove
that I meant it and it wasn’t just some grand gesture.” He rubbed his hands roughly against his stubbled cheeks.
“Turns out it was some grand gesture.”
Xander spread his arms wide, a fake smile stretching across his pale face. “That’s me, Will. In love with love.
So I played the big romantic, feet-sweeping-off-of guy. But that’s not me. I’m no Riley, no Angel.” He grinned
half-heartedly. “Hell, I’m not even a Tara.”
Willow blushed and grinned a little at that.
“So…what now?” she asked, knowing that Xander was in a lot more pain that he was showing and that there
was something…a lot of somethings he wasn’t telling her…hadn’t been telling her for a long time.
Xander shrugged. “Right now? I was hoping I could use your shower and that you’d possibly boil these clothes for
me. Then I thought…there are things Anya and I have to say, that she needs to know. I didn’t, um, handle it well
last night. I just kind of let her walk out without explaining anything.”
“And crawled into the nearest dive for some liquid comfort.”
Xander ducked his head, looking at his muddy sneakers. “Yeah, right,” he muttered bitterly. He looked back up
into Willow’s face, which was segueing from worried into slightly freaked-out. He grinned gamely, shrugging. “Okay,
off to get the funk out of…everything.” He reached up, tapping Willow’s cheek gently. “Thanks, Will.”
Willow smiled back and then jerked away from him, laughing. “Eww. Get out with your fingers of stinkiness.” They
smiled at each other uncertainly beneath the teasing and Willow reached out to give his hand once last squeeze before she
turned back to contemplating her tea with a thoughtful frown.