Sometime during the night, Xander turned over in his sleep and wrapped an arm around Spike. Sometime after that, they both found themselves curling deeper into the embrace. Spike could later claim that it was instinct to press closer into a source of warmth for the night. Xander didn’t know what his excuse was; maybe he just missed the presence of another body in his bed. Whatever the reason, it was undoubtedly the most peaceful and comfortable sleep either of them had experienced in a long time.
At least, until Xander’s dreams started looking for content in the deep recesses of his mind. A scaly hand on his neck was making it difficult to breathe as it pressed him flat to the ground. Rocks, and a stray piece of green, broken, glass, were digging into his face, and there was an almost crushing weight across his back. He was pinned so tightly that he could scarcely move, but still he struggled. Then there was the sound of tearing cloth, followed by so much pain it was perceived only as a burning flash of harsh white light.
Xander woke-up fighting against his assailant, not yet cognizant of the fact that the events of his dream were long past, and that Spike, despite his faults, probably didn’t deserve to suffer the brunt of Xander’s rage.
“ Stop! Please, get off,” Xander yelled, staring unseeingly at Spike’s face as he smashed his fist into it. Spike’s head bounced against the mattress, and he twisted his body to try and escape the pummelling. Xander grabbed his bicep, and pulled him forcibly back into range. Spike raised his arms to protect himself from the attack, and at his first opportunity, tried to shove Xander back, hoping the action would break the boy out of his haze. Instead, Spike’s chip decided to fire, and Spike howled as pain shot through his brain, feeling just as sharp as the punches raining down on his ribs and kidneys.
Just as suddenly as it had happened, the beating stopped. Xander drew back, staring horrified at his bruised knuckles. Spike was drawn up tightly, arms holding his head, and eyes screwed tightly shut. The alarm clock chose that moment to start ringing, and Xander, tense as he was, ripped it from the wall. Gradually, Xander’s racing heartbeat slowed, and his trembling became less pronounced. He stood up shakily, and headed for the bathroom. The sound of the door shutting and the shower coming on was Spike’s signal to uncoil, and roll onto his back.
What the hell was that? Spike rubbed at his split lip, and moved the rest of his body gently, checking for any permanent damage. He wasn’t hurt beyond a few bruises, and those would likely be healed by midday. Spike supposed he should feel grateful that most of Xander’s blows had been shallow ones. Of course, the reason he wasn’t suffering more had nothing to do with any mercy on Xander’s part, it simply meant the boy hadn’t been able to get the leverage he needed. That was a rather disconcerting thought.
Spike swung his feet to the floor, and tugged on his jeans. He refused to notice that his hands were shaking as he checked the pockets of his duster for his cigarettes. Lighting one and pulling in the acrid smoke, Spike began to pace. He felt the need to attack something, and tear it limb from limb. The sun was rising however, and besides, it was never a good idea to hunt for prey while in the grips of fear. Whether or not Spike admitted it to himself, he was afraid. Thanks to the chip, when it came to humans, Spike was just another helpless victim. Xander could have beaten him to death, and Spike wouldn’t have been able to stop him. Relying on the compassion of humanity was not a reassuring thought; Spike knew humans could be just as evil as any demon.
Not that Xander had intentionally tried to hurt Spike, at least, not exactly. Spike had expected some mild anxiety from Xander when he woke up in the morning, but the terror that Xander had exuded was greatly disproportionate to merely waking up next to a naked vampire. Something was bothering Xander, and Spike didn’t believe in coincidences. It had to do with the baby.
Xander came out of the bathroom, dressed and ready for another day of work.
“ You can’t smoke in here,” Xander said, busying himself with breakfast preparations.
“ I’d say you owe me this, at least,” Spike said.
“ Yeah, well,” said Xander stiltedly. He really didn’t know what to say to Spike; he had considered apologizing, but then he had wondered what Spike was doing in his bed in the first place. He certainly didn’t want to have to explain his actions.
“ So. You were raped,” Spike said bluntly.
It wasn’t a question, and Xander felt all his protestations die on his tongue.
“ Yeah,” Xander said. He calmly broke a couple of eggs into a frying pain, and sliced some bread for the toaster.
Spike continued to watch Xander, noticing how much control Xander was exercising just to keep from falling apart.
“ You know, a lot of demons, they consider their victims permanent property. This demon could come back for you,” Spike said. He had finished his first cigarette and was lighting his second. Xander glared, but this time he didn’t say anything.
“ How did you know it was a demon?”
Spike shrugged, “ For one, you’re pregnant. Not many humans got the mojo to do that. Second, you could have fought off a human.”
“ Should’ve been able to fight off anything,” Xander mumbled. Spike not only heard, but he could also sense the bitter self-recriminations circling in Xander’s head. No wonder Xander hadn’t told anyone his secret. Xander already felt like a useless part of the group; there was no need to have ‘victim’ stamped across his forehead. “ And the demon won’t be returning. I know what type of demon it was.”
“ Oh really?” Spike asked sceptically.
Xander placed his plate of eggs and toast on the table, and retrieved a knife and fork. Strangely enough, it was a relief to tell someone, even if it was Spike, and he supposed there was little point in keeping quiet now that Spike knew almost everything.
Spike’s mind immediately began accessing the information he had on Broshunk demons. They were big, frequently reaching heights of eight or nine feet tall, with strong muscles. Broshunk’s were grey coloured, and composed of living stone, which made them slow moving, but virtually impervious to all harm. They were also heavily into magic, which was fortunate since they could not create offspring without it. Rumour had it that they had ticked off the wrong people when gathering their magical forces, and had been cursed with the inability to procreate naturally. Broshunk’s had found a way around this; they mated with members of other species, and used magic to cause a pregnancy.
It was a difficult process: if the targeted mate was too strong, the pregnancy wouldn’t occur; too weak, and either intercourse or conception would prove fatal. Since distinctions of male and female mattered little to the pregnancy spell, Borshunk’s typically chose the male of a species, because the males were generally hardier. Broshunk’s were not especially malevolent, save during mating season, and preferred to keep to their own realm. They were sentient, but lacked the intelligence to be truly evil; their ill treatment of other species during mating was instinctual rather than deliberate. Spike doubted very much that the distinction was much comfort to Xander.
“ Jesus… Trust you to come across one of them. I bet there aren’t fifty of those buggers left anywhere.”
“ Yeah, it’s too bad you missed it. Lots of violence, blood, and humiliation… it was a real party,” Xander said sourly.
“ But how do you know they won’t be back?”
Xander shrugged, “ I looked it up over at Giles’. Apparently they can’t control the conception, only cause it. Demon essence mingles crazily with host essence, and the outcome isn’t ever fifty-fifty. They determine on the spot whether or not the child is sufficiently demon, and if it is… Well, I would be with the Broshunk and his buddies right now. Since I was left behind, I know the baby is too human for them to be interested. I just don’t know how human ‘too human’ is.”
He sighed, “ Look, Spike, don’t tell the others, okay? I don’t want… I don’t need them fussing.”
Spike was still deep in his ponderings, wondering just how badly hurt Xander must have been, and how he had kept the situation secret from the rest of the group. Xander’s comment reminded him that he wasn’t supposed to care. Right, mercenary attitude, that’s what was expected of him.
“ And my silence gets me…”
Xander closed his eyes briefly; of course, why would something simple like Spike’s silence come easily? Naturally, the first person Xander confided in would use the information to cause more suffering; nobody knew better than Xander that the cosmos like to kick you when you’re down.
Spike swore he could actually see Xander fold in on himself, and shut down. For some reason, the dead brown eyes that peered up at him scared him more than the attack that morning.
“ Take or do whatever you want. Not that you wouldn’t have done that anyway. I can’t be bothered anymore,” Xander said, his words tired. He dropped his empty plate into the sink, and left the apartment, not once looking in Spike’s direction.
Once Xander had gone, Spike returned to bed, crawling onto Xander’s side with the unlikely hope that some heat remained trapped in the sheets. Spike was accustomed to having his sleeping routines disrupted, so he had gotten into the habit of trying for sleep whenever the opportunity presented itself. He should have been dozing peacefully, but he must have slept too soundly the night before, because he couldn’t get comfortable. It had nothing to do with empty, brown eyes staring back at him imploringly whenever he tried to clear his mind. No, nothing at all to do with that.
Spike got up with a snarl, and gathered his belongings. It was this place that was getting to him; how could anyone not go mad in this depressing atmosphere? And obviously he was going insane if he was starting to consider someone else’s feelings. Not just anybody’s feelings, either, but Xander’s. It made Spike shudder to think of it. So what if the boy had sweet tasting blood and softly yielding lips? There was that whole wretched personality to consider. Okay, so he could sometimes be brave (more like recklessly stupid), loyal (so are dogs), and big-hearted (never to Spike, though), but that was hardly reason to go all soft.
Maybe he was just having an off day. Bound to happen, actually, waking up the way he had. Spike was clearly not thinking straight, and the sooner he ripped something to shreds, the better off everyone would be. Then, when he was back to feeling normal, Spike would come and collect the favour he was owed. And he most certainly would not be asking for another kiss, which was all he seemed to want at the moment. With that decided, Spike stormed out of the apartment, and broke into the basement. A few loud curses, and a lot of loud smashing noises later, and Xander’s apartment block could now boast of having sewer access.
When Xander came home that evening, tired and dusty, he had the surreal experience of feeling disappointed that Spike had left already. Shaking it off as another strange pregnancy-hormone reaction, Xander washed up and started dinner preparations. He was almost glad when his neighbours from below started blaring their music, as the noise drowned out the oppressive silence of his apartment.
Xander didn’t see Spike again for two weeks. He didn’t see much of anyone else either, although Willow came over for dinner one night, ostensibly to check out his new apartment.
“ It’s… umm, well it’s… and you have a TV, that’s nice. Did you see that documentary on the pork industry? Made me want to go vegetarian, except then I’d be a lesbian and a vegetarian, and I think that’s one too many ‘alternative lifestyle’ choices, don’t you think? Or maybe it’s one of those bundle deals, where once you’ve made the decision to be alternative, you get as many…”
“ Using babble to get through tense situations? Willow, that’s so unlike us,” Xander said, smiling. “ I already know it’s crappy, but it’s cheap. On the plus side, being pregnant has made me a better cook. Did you know that you can make carrots taste good?”
Xander had been trying to eat healthier, and the books said that during the second trimester it was especially important. Still, finding healthy meals that he could actually eat had been something of a challenge. For Willow and himself he was making a chicken stir-fry; easy, quick, plus it looked impressive.
“ This is pretty good. Well done, Mr. Homemaker. You should get a ‘kiss the cook’ apron or something.”
“ Tempting, but I have enough gender-identity problems at the moment.”
“ But it would be a manly apron,” Willow said.
“ Is there such a thing?” Xander asked.
“ With manly oven-mitts, and a jaunty chef’s hat,” Willow continued.
They were still laughing and trading witticisms when they left Xander’s apartment, and headed for the Magic Box. It was an easy pattern for them to fall into, but Xander appreciated the moment more than usual because it had been awhile since things had been this tension-free between them.
“ What’s got you two so cheery?” Buffy asked, as Willow and Xander entered the shop.
“ Just hanging with my girl,” Xander said, throwing an arm around Willow’s shoulders. He then saw Tara had already arrived.
“ And by ‘my girl’, I mean the girl who I am attached to in a strictly platonic friend type of way.”
“ What, I’m not good enough for you?” Willow asked, pouting. She went over to Tara and greeted her girlfriend with a loose hug.
“ I personally think you’re quite a catch,” Tara said. The two witches were grinning at Xander who was struggling to come up with a response that wouldn’t get him into trouble.
“ Hey, no fair teasing me, I’m in a delicate condition,” Xander whined. The mirth fled from Buffy’s eyes, and Willow went on the alert, wondering if she would have to intervene again. Apparently the pregnancy subject was still too sensitive to be joking about; Xander could have kicked himself for dragging the good mood down.
It was Dawn who got things back to normal, as she quipped: “ Yeah, he’s soft in the head.”
Xander stuck his tongue out at Dawn, while the others snickered; crisis averted for the time being. Eventually, the small group settled themselves around the table, and listened as Giles described the latest evil to befall Sunnydale.
Giles was interrupted by Spike’s arrival. “ And speaking of evil…”
“ Here comes his slightly irritating younger brother,” Xander finished.
“ Hey! I’m evil. Very evil.”
“ Well, you are inflicting yourself on us,” Buffy said, scowling at Spike.
“ I came to give you lot some information, but I’m more than happy to leave if that’s how you show your appreciation.”
Xander tensed, feeling his face drain of colour and his heart start to pound. Every day for the past two weeks Xander had been awaiting some kind of action from Spike, but not a word had been breathed to his friends about the Broshunk demon. Rather than comforting Xander, however, the fact that Spike was obviously biding his time made him nervous. Was this it? Or was this yet another attempt to drive Xander around the bend with worry?
“ Just spill it, Spike. We’ll judge for ourselves whether it’s worth anything afterwards,” Buffy said, crossing her arms and glaring. Xander was envious of the way Buffy refused to be drawn into Spike’s manipulations, and wished he could be as uncompromising.
“ There’s a new big-shot vampire in town; got the locals stirring up all kinds of trouble. Has a fair bit of money to throw around, and he’s hired himself a real mixed bag of an entourage. Goes by the name of Dent D’Or, and I think he fancies himself the new master of Sunnydale.”
Xander breathed a sigh of relief that his secret had been kept, before wondering, out loud unfortunately, “ Don Door? As far as scary monikers go, that’s pretty lame. Any relation to Wanda Window?”
“ Not Don Door, Dent D’Or. It’s French, you git,” Spike said disparagingly. “ It means gold teeth, or gold tooth, or tooth of gold… Something like that anyway.”
“ So this vamp has a mouthful of metal?” Buffy asked.
“ Other than the fangs, yeah, it’s solid gold.”
“ I think I may have heard of him,” Giles said, rifling through a series of books he kept behind the counter. “ He’s a rather old vampire, is he not?”
“ Not even a hundred, the upstart,” Spike said moodily. “ And does he have two slayers to his credit? I think not.”
“ Ah, here he is. Oh dear,” Giles said, his eyes quickly scanning the page.
“ Does anybody else really hate when he says that?” Dawn asked rhetorically.
“ He has come in contact with one slayer, in the 1960’s, and he killed her. He may indeed prove a threat to you, Buffy.”
Giles handed the book to Buffy, and pointed out the relevant information. Spike snatched the book away from Buffy, and read the passage swiftly.
“ Is this the best you pain-in-the-ass watchers have got? A slayer sure, but when he killed her she was calling herself Sister Moon-Flower, and was so full of drugs she probably thought a vampire was one of her better hallucinations. Bet she tasted right nasty, too.”
Unlike someone else’s blood. Immediately, Spike turned his attention to Xander, almost as though he had no control over his actions. Two weeks had gone by, and still Spike could recall the taste of Xander’s blood against his tongue. Unconsciously, Spike licked his lips, following Xander’s pulse point with his eyes. Fortunately, nobody was paying much attention to Spike anymore, and he was able to wipe away the drool without anyone being the wiser. Damn. This silly little obsession was supposed to have gone away by now, but only minutes in the whelp’s company again, and he was salivating. Hopefully, he was just hungry. Speaking of which…
“ So? What do I get? Think I proved helpful, much as it pains me to play nice with you bunch of tossers.”
A heated debate was occupying most of the members of the group. Buffy, not surprisingly, was pushing for a fast resolution of the problem. She reasoned that it was better to go in now while they had the element of surprise. Plus, power struggles always seemed to play out in unpredictable ways, with innocents being hurt in the process. Giles wanted to get more information on Dent D’Or before they formulated an attack. It was possible that the vampire had more insidious ideas than the ones currently known to them, and it was never a good idea to go into fight without knowing the enemy. Not surprisingly, Spike’s comment about compensation went unheeded.
Rolling his eyes at the injustice of it all, Spike was startled to find Xander looking equally bored with the argument. Their eyes met for a moment, and Xander gave a small smile of commiseration, before focusing again on the discussion. This small act of civility sent shivers down Spike’s spine, and kept him distracted until the next convenient lull, at which time, Spike repeated more forcefully that he wanted his payment for services rendered. Giles, in his distraction, mentioned that there was blood in the freezer, all of it expired human blood from the blood bank, and that Spike could help himself. Spike cheered up immediately, and went to inspect his haul.
Obviously, Giles had intended for Spike to take one or two packets only, but Spike was certainly not about to leave any blood behind. Besides, Giles should know better than to say ‘help yourself’ to a vampire. Spike found a discarded box, and filled it with every single packet. Two packets went immediately into his pocket; he would have those as soon as he found a microwave and a place to drink in peace.
The meeting was breaking up as Spike came out of the back room. Giles did a double take at the box, and Spike smirked, holding his precious cargo a little tighter.
“ Spike, you’ll be taking Xander home,” Giles said.
“ Hey, Harris, you got a microwave?”
“ Yeah, why?” Xander asked warily. Spike didn’t answer, but he looked so pleased with himself, that it was enough to make everyone worry.
On the way to Xander’s apartment, Spike’s good mood continued to show itself. He leapt up onto benches, kicked at mailboxes, and hummed little snatches of songs, all the while never letting go of his box. Xander compared him to a kid on Halloween, greedily guarding a hoard of candy. The analogy made him smile.
Spike was distracted both by the bounty he was carrying and the smile on Xander’s face. In fact the latter almost made him tumble off the wall he had hopped up on; what was it about Xander lately that was making him act so out of character? Before he could think of a response, a heavy body collided with his, and this time he did fall, landing flat on his back on the sidewalk. In seconds, he was on his feet, lashing out at his assailants, and cursing himself for getting so distracted as to not notice they had company. He spared a glance at Xander, who was struggling in the grasp of two tough looking demons.
Spike dusted a vampire, and tossed a charging demon over his shoulder. He made his way over to Xander, and grabbed the demon on Xander’s left side. After a brief struggle, Spike was able to break the demons neck. Meanwhile, Xander was able to twist free from the remaining demon, and he backed away, looking around for a weapon. He didn’t see the demon that was about to come up behind him, but Spike did, and as Xander was pushed out of the way into safety, Spike tackled the demon to the ground.
“ Get out of here, Xander, I got this covered,” Spike said, gleefully ripping the head off the demon, and reaching for another. He delivered a bone-crunching hit to his attacker, and suddenly his head exploded with pain, dropping him to the ground.
Dimly, he heard Xander calling out to him, “ Spike?”
A vampire began laying into Spike with feet clad in heavy army-issue combat boots; he was making sure that every kick inflicted the maximum amount of pain possible. When the chip in Spike’s head began to let up, he snarled and launched himself at the vampire. At the last moment, the vampire dodged, and Spike collided with a human. The chip fired again, making Spike howl.
It hadn’t taken long for Xander to figure out what was happening. Obviously, someone knew about Spike’s inability to hit humans, and had come to this ambush fully prepared. Xander hesitated for a few moments, his instincts telling him to jump into the fight, but he soon realized there was little he could do to help. Not that that would have stopped him before, but he simply couldn’t be so reckless anymore. So Xander turned and ran back the way he had come, hoping that Buffy hadn’t left the magic shop yet.
Buffy was standing on the steps, waiting for Dawn, when Xander came running up to her.
Alarmed, she asked: “ Xander? Are you okay?”
“ Got attacked, around the block. Spike needs help,” Xander said, out of breath.
“ Giles stay with Dawn,” Buffy ordered. She went inside and grabbed a sword, before taking off down the street, a weary Xander following after her.
The assailants had formed a circle around Spike, and were enjoying the fact that their prey was no longer even trying to fight back. Buffy took in the situation and quickly broke the group apart, dusting one vampire and slicing into the neck of a green and scaly demon with her sword. Brandishing the sword high, she eyed the remaining four attackers, two of which were human. This group took one look at the pissed off slayer, and decided to cut their losses. Buffy gave chase for a few minutes, but soon gave up. She returned to the street where Xander was crouched worriedly over a battered looking Spike.
“ He okay?”
“ No, I am not fucking okay,” Spike said hoarsely. He was drifting in and out of consciousness, and he was fairly sure he was going to be sick. He tried cataloguing all the injuries, but that just made his head hurt more, so he gave up.
“ Some of his bones look broken. Is that possible with a vampire?” Xander asked.
“ It takes a lot of force, but it can happen,” Buffy said, matter-of-factly. “ Well, that was fun. You need help getting home from here? I really should get back and assure Dawn and Giles that I’m fine.”
“ What about Spike?” Xander asked.
“ What about him? He saved you; I saved him. I’d say we’re square. Besides, I was wondering why he was so helpful this evening and now we know. It was his own skin he was trying to protect, and sorry Spike, but I’m not getting in the middle of a pissing contest between you and this other master. When you’re done being a wimp, then you can get home on your own.”
“ I’ll be fine Buffy,” Xander said quietly. “ Dawn’s probably going ape, you’d better go.”
Buffy nodded and walked away. Xander waited until she was out of sight before swearing gently. He admired her for a lot of things, but right now he couldn’t help but feel she was being a little bit of a spoiled brat. Whether or not she had adequate reason to be angry at Spike was irrelevant; calling him names, while leaving him to bleed on the sidewalk, was childish and verging on cruel.
“ Can you stand if I help you?” Xander asked.
“ You heard her; we’re square. You can leave and be completely guilt free,” Spike muttered bitterly.
“ She doesn’t know I owe you a favour from before. So get up. Might as well take advantage of the one time I’m on your side instead of Buffy’s.”
Spike didn’t have a response for that, but fortunately he was spared from giving one. The pain as he was helped to his feet was excruciating, and made thinking about anything else impossible. Spike’s arm was across Xander’s shoulders, pressing down heavily. Xander gripped Spike’s waist, hauling the almost dead weight forward with every step. They had to stop twice so that Spike could purge the contents of his stomach, and Xander tried very hard not to cringe when his shoes were soaked in regurgitated blood.
It seemed to take hours, and Xander couldn’t be sure it hadn’t, but they finally arrived at Xander’s home. The stairs nearly did them both in, but somehow Xander managed to get the vampire into his apartment. He dropped him onto the bed, fully aware that afterwards he would need to buy new sheets.
“ She just left me there,” Spike said quietly. “ I knew… I know she doesn’t love me, but she just left me lying there, like she doesn’t care at all. Like she hates me.”
Xander had the unfamiliar sensation of feeling sorry for Spike. Stranger still, he could empathize; it hadn’t been so long ago that Xander had had feelings for Buffy. He had never loved her, not really, and he didn’t think that, deep down, Spike truly did either, but it didn’t make rejection hurt less.
“ Don’t go all ‘Days of our Lives’ on me now, Spike. You’ll only hate yourself in the morning,” Xander said brusquely. “ Now, talk me through this. I’m used to staking vampires, not making them better.”
“ Need blood. ‘M hungry,” Spike said. He was lying uncomfortably across the bed, having not moved from where Xander had dropped him. He heard Xander move around the small bed, and then he felt strong hands rolling him onto his back.
“ Gee, and I thought your face looked bad before,” Xander said. The joke fell flat when Spike didn’t respond. Xander decided he would try to keep his babbling to a minimum, at least until Spike was feeling better. “ Sit up, and I’ll take your coat off.”
Together they managed to get Spike’s duster removed, and his shirt. The shirt was in tatters anyway, so it wasn’t too difficult. The cuts were numerous, the bruises more so. Spike’s right arm hung at an odd angle, and it was all Xander could do not to faint as he watched Spike force the bones to align. They fashioned a splint out of a wooden spoon, a coat hanger, and strips of a bed-sheet that Xander had torn up. By the time this was accomplished, Spike’s eyes were hazy, and his whole body was shaking.
“ Spike, what now? What do I do?” Spike didn’t answer immediately, and Xander started to freak out.
“ Need blood,” Spike reminded him, eventually.
“ How can you be hungry now?” Xander asked incredulously.
“ It’ll help me heal,” Spike explained, not bothering to add on ‘idiot’, though he was thinking it. How often had Xander watched him feed after they’d gotten back from a particularly arduous patrol?
“ Right, I knew that. Blood, blood. I could go back and get the box, it might still be there,” Xander said doubtfully. Spike gave him a look that Xander clearly understood. In Sunnydale, a box of human blood would not go unclaimed for long.
“ Wait, check in my duster,” Spike said. Xander found two packets of blood, undamaged because they were still partially frozen, and heated one in the microwave. While Spike drank, Xander heated up the second pack, and worried that it was in no way sufficient. Spike seemed to be able to read thoughts, for after he downed the second packet, he said: “ It’ll be enough. Least ‘til tomorrow, and I should be able to get my own then.”
“ Okay, good,” Xander said. He untied Spike’s boots, cringing along with Spike when he pulled a little too roughly.
“ Think I broke my leg too. Bugger,” Spike said, nearly biting through his lip when Xander unintentionally bumped against his leg.
“ Oh. Sorry. Do we need to do anything?”
“ Nah, it’s straight. It should be fine. We’re done.”
Xander still hovered, needing to do something to keep himself occupied. He went and got a washcloth and a bowl of warm water. Very carefully, Xander removed the layer of dirt and blood that covered Spike’s face and neck. He decided he would leave the rest for Spike to do when he was feeling up to it – it wasn’t as if they had to worry about infection. Xander wriggled the blankets out from under Spike, and came just short of tucking the vampire in. Spike looked at him, one eyebrow quirked on the newly cleaned face.
“ Umm, can we just blame this on crazy maternal hormones?”
“ Whatever you say,” Spike replied. “ I’m probably going to fall asleep soon, and it’s likely you won’t be able to wake me up. So if you have any questions, you had better ask me now.”
Xander considered asking how many licks it took to get to the centre of a Tootsie-roll pop, but decided that even if Spike recognized the pop-culture reference, it was not really the time or place.
“ I’m good. Get your beauty sleep, because if anyone ever needed it more…”
Spike huffed, and pulled the blankets up over his head. He could feel his body begin to close itself down, in preparation for the major healing that would take place while he slept. Just before he slipped into oblivion, he spoke.
“ And Xander?”
“ I wasn’t going all ‘Days of our Lives’. I prefer Passions.”
“ Right. How silly of me.”
“ Thanks, though.”
“ No problem,” Xander replied.
“ Tell anyone and I kill you.”
“ Right back at you.”
Later that night, Xander climbed into bed, and got poked by the coat hanger strapped to Spike’s arm. He was on the verge of saying that his life could get no weirder, but then he remembered that this was the Hellmouth, and saying something like that was really tempting fate. Apparently, just thinking it was enough however, because at that moment Spike started to twitch and thrash. Healed over wounds began to spill fresh blood, and Spike’s already pale features whitened.
Xander reached for the phone and called Giles.
“ So you say he drank two pints of blood, and then went to sleep?”
“ Uh huh. He seemed to think that was normal, even told me I wouldn’t be able to wake him up for awhile.”
“ Vampires go into a brief… I suppose coma is the best word to describe it, when they have to repair extensive damage,” Giles explained. “ The injuries were that serious?”
“ He’s a mess, and I really don’t think he had enough to drink.”
“ Sounds like a plausible hypothesis. From the symptoms you’re describing, it would seem he’s going into some kind of shock. If vampires go into shock. I’m not sure what else I can tell you. You can try feeding him some more blood, it might help, and I don’t think it could do any harm.”
“ But I don’t have any blood. And I know you don’t either since Spike cleaned you out tonight. Where did you get that anyway? Can we get more?”
“ It was pretty much a one time deal, I’m afraid. I can get animal blood, but I doubt there are any butchers open for business now, even in Sunnydale.”
“ So what do I do?” Xander asked.
“ Try to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself more, if possible. I’ll pick up some blood as soon as I’m able, and come by your place. Until then, you’ll just have to be patient.”
Xander made sure Giles knew the address of his apartment, before thanking him, and hanging up. He watched Spike continue to convulse, and he waited. Spike’s eyes opened, and his pupils were rolled so far back into his head, that all Xander could see was white. Spike was getting worse.
From the closet, Xander retrieved his toolbox and the sharp cutting knife held within it.
“ What do you think, baby?” Xander asked, placing his hand over the small lump in his middle. “ We’ve got a little to spare, right? And he did save the pair of us tonight.”
He took one final look at Spike, and made his decision. He tied a tourniquet around his arm, selected a good vein, and nicked it with the tip of the knife. He made the cut a little deeper and watched the blood begin to trickle down his arm. All the blood was collected into a clean kitchen sponge, and he waited while the sponge got heavier and the colour deepened.
Deeming he had bled enough, he applied pressure to the small incision and it closed itself off. The sponge he carried over to Spike. The closer Xander got, the calmer Spike became, and Xander could see that Spike’s nostrils were flaring, filling with the scent of freshly spilled blood.
“ No way I’m letting you bite direct when you’re this spaced. Hope you like the taste of sponge,” Xander said. He held the dripping sponge over Spike’s mouth and the teeth that snapped into it just barely missed his fingers. Spike sucked hard, his face beneath the ridges temporarily taking on a rosy hue. The sponge was bone-dry when Spike released it, and Xander sat staring at it in complete amazement for a few seconds. Then one strong arm wrapped around his waist, and tugged him flat to the bed.
Xander was rigid with shock as Spike cuddled up against his side. Spike once again slipped back into his near catatonic state, and Xander found it difficult, if not impossible, to remove himself from Spike’s grip. Sighing, Xander gave in. He fought for a corner of blanket, squirmed into a comfortable position, and fell into a dreamless sleep.
Spike went from sleeping to awake in a matter of seconds the following morning. He would have been sitting straight up, if Xander’s sleep-heavy body weren’t weighing him down. He gingerly moved his broken arm, and was pleased with the amount of progress it had made during the night. Spike tested out the rest of his limbs, and found them in similar states of repair. That must have been one hell of a sleep.
Licking his lips, he felt a little tingle. Blood, in the corner of his mouth; sweet blood, young blood, blood he hadn’t expected to get another taste of ever. Xander’s blood. Spike tensed for a moment; the boy hadn’t been so stupid as to let him drink last night? He glanced around the room; he saw the open toolbox and the knife on the table, and the sponge on the floor. Well, that explained why there was nylon caught in his teeth. That was actually quite the stroke of genius; smart boy.
Being over a hundred years old meant Spike had gone through many adaptations and alterations in order to survive. In the past few years, however, he had felt himself changing more than ever before. With Xander’s warmth pressed against him, the rhythmic gust of air against his sensitive neck as Xander breathed, and the pleasurable press of a half-hard cock against his cool hip, Spike knew he was about to experience an epiphany.
A foppish master vampire was encroaching on his territory and all he had managed to do was to get beat up by the human hired muscle. Angel, Druscilla, Buffy… All people he had loved; all people that would have been relieved had he been turned to dust. It was Xander Harris that had picked him up from the ground and dusted him off. Xander Harris that had cleaned and dressed his wounds. Xander Harris’s blood that even now was humming through his system.
Spike shifted closer to Xander, pulling the larger man’s body closer to his own. He would make it up to the boy somehow. Him, and the baby he was carrying, were now under Spike’s protection, dubious though that might be considering how effective he was at fighting last night. Spike made a vow to look after Xander from this point on, in whatever capacity he could, and to keep him safe. Running fingers through Xander’s soft hair, Spike knew it was a promise that he intended to keep.
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