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Chapter 35

“Wake up, Xander. You’ve laid about long enough.”

Xander blinked up at Spike who had just pulled his warm blankets off him, then squinted toward the darkened window. “It’s not even light yet, evil one,” Xander protested and pulled the blanket back up.

Spike removed the covers again, this time tossing them off the bed, and leaving Xander naked. “No. It’s 10 o’clock. It’s raining out.”

“Oh.” Xander sat up and rubbed his face. “You want to spar, huh?”

“Yep. That’s the plan. What do you want for brekkies, and it’ll be ready when you come down.”

“Um… fruit and maybe some oatmeal.”

“What? No pound of pancakes, butter and bacon?”

“No. My system’s started to protest that treatment.”

“And all your new jeans getting tight?” Spike said with glee.

“Shut up, fang,” Xander growled and stood up.

Spike turned away before naked Xander began his habitual morning stretch. “Get your fat self downstairs! I want to fight.”

“Call me fat again, and I’ll give you a fight!”

“Okay, fattie!” Spike closed the door just before the thrown pillow could hit him.


Once in the barn, Xander set down his spare change of clothes and started his warm up.  Spike just popped his neck, then waited.

“What  do you want, Spike? You called this session.”

“Show me your moves and I’ll show you mine.”

“Shouldn’t we go out to a bar for that?” Spike could tell by the way he was joking that Xander was itching to get it over with and talk.

“The only bar I’ll go to with you is a coffee bar.”

“You know what? I still don’t like coffee.”

“I’ll buy you a double chocolate minty something. With ice cream and shit.”

“Leave out the shit, and you’re on!”

For almost an hour, the two grappled and talked about fighting tricks and techniques. They fought as equals, and each learned something new.

Xander stood panting, resting his hands on his knees. “Damn, Spike. I shouldn’t be this winded, I’ve not been out of the arena that long.”

Spike handed Xander a cold water from the fridge. “How long did the trip take?”

Xander took the bottle with a grateful nod and drained half of it before answering. “I’m not sure. Two, almost three weeks?”

Spike pointed up to the loft. Rain still fell, and there was no danger of stray sunlight. “Shall we adjourn to the comfy couch?”

Xander finished the water and nodded. “Yeah. Let me get another one of these.”

Soon they both sprawled on the couch, looking out into the heavy California rain.

“So,” Xander ventured.

“So, what?”

“Are we good, Spike? I… I don’t remember what I did. All I know is I was lonely and sad, and in the caves, the cure for that was sex.”

Spike chuckled. “Always been one of my favorite outlets when I can get it.”

“I groped you, didn’t I?”


“So you left.” Xander sounded almost hurt.

Spike studied Xander as he hid behind a fall of  hair. “Ah, Xander. You would have regretted it in the morning, we both would.”

“We would?”

“Yeah, that’s no way to start anything.”

Xander peeked at Spike. “Are you saying you want to start something with me?”

Spike shifted, and looked out at the rain. “I don’t know about that, but you’re certainly not hard on the eye.”

“Thanks.” Xander watched the rain, too. “You’re not so bad yourself.”

“I know that.”

“So you’re not mad at me for… getting fresh?”

“I’m a bit hurt that you dove into the world of pain that is that damned file without me. And it was damned stupid to have that bottle within a mile of you.”

Xander ducked his head. “I know.”

“Why’d you do it? I didn’t have to go out with Oz.”

“You were so excited and… I’m a big boy. I already felt bad from thinking about… about Anthony’s death. I didn’t think I could feel worse than that.”

“Well, it was a bloody stupid thing to do, and I hope you never do that again, cause you don’t have to face things alone.”

“I know,” Xander said quietly. “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, don’t be bloody sorry.”

“But I fucked things up with everyone else in the house, too.”

“No, not everyone.”

“Okay, Willow and Dawn. God! Did you know I hit on them, too?”

“Willow told me last night. Do you know that girl actually had the gall to pout because you don’t spend time with her? One minute she complains about how you misbehaved, and the next it’s all about her.”

“That’s my Willow. Maybe… maybe I should spend more time with them.”

“Does it make you uncomfortable?”

“Gods, yes.”

“Then don’t.”

“I live under her roof, she’s opened her home to me.”

“You could move.”

Xander looked at Spike. “Move? Where?”

“Anywhere in the bloody world. You’ve got the money to buy a nice house almost anywhere.”

“I guess I do. I hadn’t thought about that.”

“It’s an option.”

“But I don’t want to, Spike. I… I love my friends.”

Spike sighed. “Then sit them all down and tell them what’s up with you. Willow’s acting like you haven’t changed. Dawn had never experienced anything like what you’ve been through. Oz understands, he’s got his own demon. Gunn knows in theory, cause he’s been in the dark shit himself, but he doesn’t know you. Midra knows Africa and respects the hell out of you. Talk to them, Xander.”

“I should. I really should. I mean, Willow deserves to know, and if she thinks I’m spending too much time with you, then, I owe her.”

“I think Willow’s jealous of me.”

“Willow’s…” Xander laughed. “Right.”

“She is.”

“I’ll talk to them, for certain.”

They sat quietly together for a few minutes, sharing the revelations.

Xander broke the quiet. “Tell me your stress relief secrets.”

Spike peered sideways at Xander. “Tell you what, mate. I’ll answer you fairly, but I get to ask what I want, too.”

Xander shrugged. “It was that bad, huh? Okay, I got nothing to hide.”

Spike watched the rain fall for a minute before answering. “I went to the big city, picked up a young man, took him back to my hotel room, cleaned him up, fed him, and had sex with him.”

Spike listened to Xander’s heart jump. “So… you just picked up some random hustler?”

Spike had to admire Xander’s carefully schooled reaction. “No. I chose quite carefully.” He glanced at Xander who nodded for him to continue. “There has always been one street in every city where the newbies wind up. I don’t know why this happens, but trust me, it does.” Spike looked back at the rain. “He was tall, dark haired, broad shouldered, and had only been in the business for a month or so.”

Xander felt his heart skip when he matched the description to his own features. As much as he knew Spike had probably picked up on that, he would keep his cool. He didn’t look at Spike. “I can’t judge you. Hell, I hired enough pleasers in my time.”

“Why call them pleasers? Seems like a soft word some pasha would use.”

Xander shrugged. “It’s just what they were called there. I don’t know why.”

Spike felt Xander’s hesitation. “Ask away, Xander.”

“It’s just that I… I envy you that  you can hire someone when you’re horny. I can never do that again. It’s not right.”

“Did you hire male pleasers?”

“Yeah. I did. There was one… Zack. He’s a Jewish college student, who was traveling abroad to gain new experiences. How ironic is that. He was slim, with pretty dark eyes and thick black hair. He… he liked me because I let him top.” Xander laughed. “I’d play the girl for him, cause the other fighters… well…”

“He was small so they liked to use him,” Spike supplied.

“Yeah. Maybe… maybe we can get him out of there.”

“Okay, Zack is on the list with Morgan. Your turn.”

“Why a newbie?” Xander asked.

“It’s a catch and release program.”


“Before the soul, it was catch and kill. Okay, sometimes it was catch, torture, kill, but you get the idea. Anyway, I learned his problems, what he was running away from. Instead of leaving him in a dumpster, I gave him the number of a good lawyer and put him on a plane back home.” Spike turned to meet Xander’s gaze squarely, daring him to tease. When a smile started to form on Xander’s generous lips, Spike looked away. “Plus, I like the way those new to the game are unsure and fumble. It’s… a turn on.”

Xander blew out a breath. “I know what you mean.”

Spike raised a brow, resisting the urge to picture Xander with his slim lover, and shook his head. “Ever take another vampire lover?”

Xander took the lid off the bottle and drained the last of it. Spike let him fiddle and take his time. Finally, Xander sighed. “No. I couldn’t trust any of them. I was in a position of power, and had to be careful.”

“No offence, mate, but how did you hold that power?”

“I owe a lot of that to Harse.”


“Vampire, big guy. When they brought him in, he got put in a cage with a Nughla demon who had a grudge against vampires. The demon had just rallied the others in the cage to attack him. I don’t know why I did it, but I went in there and pulled them off him.”

“You found a lieutenant.”

“Yeah. Harse was big, ugly, and steady. He had all the common sense you could want, but no imagination. He was called Harse because he mispronounced horse.” Xander started tossing the bottle cap from hand to hand. “It was also because I was liked. I kept things as good as I could for the other fighters. You know, it turned out there was a track in a valley in the mountain they could run on. Hell, I didn’t know about it for three years. Kinda mad at Anthony for not letting me out.”

“I was wondering how you were so tanned after living in caves.”

“It was a dangerous track, but moral increased ten fold.”

“Shall we put Harse on the rescue list?”

Xander shook his head. “No. He’s very much a soulless demon who dreamed of getting out to rip the heads off babies. And he wasn’t good for dinner conversation, either.”

Spike chuckled. “I’ve had plenty of minions like that. One fella was a good worker, but I had to keep ripping out his tongue ever so often cause he’d prattle on so.”


“Tell me about it. Made him a messier eater, too. You need to tell Gunn about the track. It may help us in finding the place.”

“There’s a lot I need to tell him, I guess.”

“In your own time, Xander.”

“Thank you, Spike.”

“What for?”

“What for? For being more understanding than my oldest friend in the world. For… for not turning away from me when I assaulted you.”

“Well, if you look at it another way, you’ve already hired me.” Spike put his hands behind his head and stretched out his long legs. “I mean, we agreed that I would help you over the rough spots…”

“Spike!” Xander sputtered. “Don’t be a tease.”

“Who says I’m teasing?”

“I do!” Xander leapt to his feet. “Now let’s… let’s go another round if you’ve caught your breath.”

“I never lost my breath. Well, once, over a hundred years ago, but if you think you can challenge me this time…”

This round of sparring, Xander was more closed mouthed and focused. Spike could tell he was angry about something. Finally, Xander’s anger caused him to let his guard slip.

Spike knocked him to the ground and straddled him. “There!” he panted. “I knew you wanted me on top.”

The fierceness with which Xander responded to his joke caught him off guard, and Spike found himself on his back.

“I told you not to tease me, Spike!” Xander shouted down at him. “Damn it! Of course I want you on top! I want anybody on top! Or bottom! I’m so fucking horny!” Xander stomped away and leaned with both forearms against the wall and his head down. “And I’m apparently not good enough for you, you had to go off and hire some random whore!”

In an instant, Spike was behind Xander, trapping his hands against the wood with one of his. “You want I should have given in? Huh?” Roughly, Spike tugged open Xander’s draw string pants and shoved them down. “Is this what you want?”

“Let me go!” Xander struggled against the smaller, yet stronger man.

Spike pressed against him. “Make up your mind, Xander! I walked away because I wanted to take! You think it’s easy for me? Do you know how long it’s been since anyone’s touched me with desire without me paying them?”

“Stop it,” Xander said with less conviction, loosing some of the tension in his body.

Spike leaned close and talked low in his ear. “I like what we have, Xander. I left because I wanted…” He let go of Xander’s hands and turned away. “I wanted something base that would have messed that up. You’re worth more than being used as an itch scratcher.”

Xander remained leaning against the wall, unmindful of his partial nudity. He was more embarrassed at his outburst. He hadn’t looked at the situation from Spike’s point of view; he’d been so long on his own. A sob rose in his throat and he let it out. “I’m sorry. I… I didn’t know.”

“No. I didn’t tell ya, did I? I… I’m not used to anyone giving a damn about how I feel or when I come and go.”

Xander cried against his hands, and when Spike touched him this time, it was to gently turn him around. Spike took the big man in his arms and held him as he cried himself  out.

“I can’t stop pissing people off, can I?” Xander asked.

“Sorry about that, mate. You just changed directions too quickly for me to follow. Used to be good at that, what with Dru’s madness and all. I guess I’m out of practice.”

Xander pulled away and rubbed at his face, sniffing loudly. “You saying I’m nuts?”

“Naw. I know for nuts, and you’re not.”

“Thanks. Mind if I pull my pants up?”

“Make yourself comfortable, Xander. That’s all I ask.”

Xander redressed himself and didn’t look up as he tied the string. “I’m comfortable naked, to tell the truth.”

“Then be naked.”

“I don’t want to tease.”

Spike stepped close to Xander and brought his hand up to the back of Xander’s head. For an instant, Xander thought Spike was going to kiss him, but the vampire guided his head down and rested their foreheads together. “I never expected to be lucky enough to be liked by you, Harris.”

“What does that mean, Spike?”

“I mean, I gave you such a hard time long ago cause I could see the big heart you had and how you used it. I knew I’d never be… liked by you, so I did my best to not think about it.”

“Silly vamp.”

“What I’m trying to say is, I like what we’ve got here. I like… holding and being held. Yeah, I may have to run off some times.”

“That’s fine. Just…” Xander moved away, feeling suddenly awkward, “just tell me what’s up. Or at least when you’re coming back, okay?”

“As long as you tell me ahead when you’re going to do something traumatic.”

“Sounds fair. I… I’m going to go clean up now.” Xander turned towards the showers.

“I think I’ll go work on the bike, seeing as I’m all dusty and the like.”

“Hey, Spike,” Xander called him back. “Can we still… I like to share a bed with you. Or at least a  room. I mean, the room’s big enough we could put two single beds in...”

Spike laughed. “Xander, we’re both too old for bunk beds. Let’s just keep it like it is and talk more about us, yeah?”


Once in the shower, Xander wasted no time in acknowledging the erection that he’d been suppressing all morning. He pictured some stranger covering Spike, and remembered the strong, lean thighs pressed against his own. Spike truly thought he was attractive. It meant more to him than he’d realized.

In the tunnel under the garage, Spike took a minute to get his head together. The man truly wanted him. Wasn’t that a kick in the ass? 

On to Chapter 36

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