By Fit of Pique
Sequel to Reprieve
Summary: Xander freaks out. A lot.
Story notes: Events in this story take place during the episode Get It Done.
Disclaimer: All hail the mighty Joss, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, and revered affiliates.
Acknowledgments: Thanks, as always, to my helpmeet saussy for the beta and the unconditional love. And thanks to janedavitt and circe_tigana for the encouragement along the way.
If you missed the first three stories and want to read them now, they are here:
Andrew is baking his third batch of blueberry muffins. Buffy, Willow, and Dawn are leaning against the counter talking in hushed voices about money, or the lack of it. The potentials are swarming like a plague of locusts, consuming their combined weight in Twizzlers, Doritos, and Twinkies. And Spike is holding up the wall, not really listening to Anya, who’s lecturing him on the importance of investing for immortals.
He hasn’t so much as glanced in my direction since we walked through the door.
I’m leaning against the fridge, not really paying attention to anyone, half-listening to Andrew, who’s talking non-stop about the new Rawhide Kid comic books and how they compare to the originals and doesn’t everyone think it would be really hard to get on and off a horse in such a tight leather outfit? I’m mostly just trying to keep it together when what I really want to do is shout, “Hey! I think I might be a gay necrophiliac!” and then wait for life as I know it to end. But I don’t do that. Instead, I compulsively sneak glances at Spike.
As I watch him, Spike seems to become this bright shining thing, absorbing all the light around him, making everything and everyone else fade into the background, like old wallpaper you don’t even notice anymore.
And still he won’t look at me.
My decision not to worry about last night disappeared first thing this morning, along with the lingering post-orgasmic euphoria. I went to work as usual and then spent the entire day mentally cataloguing the millions of reasons why my getting naked and horizontal with Spike was the world’s worst idea.
By the time I got home, I had worked myself into a state of exquisite panic. I showered and changed and after, when Spike came out of his room, I could barely look at him. He asked me how I was and I knew what he meant, but I was too much of a fucking coward to talk about it. What the hell was I supposed to say? I can’t stop thinking about you. I nearly nailed my hand to a wall today thinking about you. And now I am well and truly screwed.
I’ve done stupid things before – that’s common knowledge – but this, this was so very exceptionally idiotic. Maybe if I had seriously thought that something would happen between the two of us, I would have been prepared. But I refused to believe that I really wanted Spike. I mean, yes, I’d fantasized about him an embarrassing amount since that night when I first kissed him – so much that I strained my wrist, for Christ’s sake – but I just thought it was a thing, a weird kink that would work itself out in time. I never imagined that the two of us would actually end up in bed together, that the hands of a killer a thousand times over would bring me to the world’s most mind-blowing orgasm.
Where was I again? Right, my boundless stupidity. Even if I could fool myself into thinking that Spike really did want me, which is an “If” so big you can see it from space, I shouldn’t want him.
It doesn’t matter that Spike has been weirdly nice to me since he got his soul. I shouldn’t be thinking about that night a few weeks after he moved in, when I was up until the wee hours of the morning poring over flawed blueprints, and Spike slipped out without a word and came back with coffee and donuts. It’s a waste of time to recollect that he occasionally brings home my favourite brand of beer, which he hates. It’s pointless to think about the way he touched me after I was skewered by my demon date, the way his hands lingered when he bandaged me up. And it’s just plain stupid to spend any time remembering the way he kissed me last night, the way he looked at me after we...you know. Because everyone knows that in the heat of the moment eyes can lie, right?
It doesn’t matter if being with him felt right. The whole thing’s just wrong.
All the freaky new kindness and consideration pales in comparison to the cruelty he inflicted on us for so many years. I can probably remember every snarky thing Spike ever said to me, every cutting remark, and I know that he meant every single word. And I meant every terrible thing I ever said about Spike...to Spike. I hated him. Hate him. I hate what he is, what he’s done, but what I hate most of all is the way he’s turned me into the world’s biggest hypocrite overnight. I can barely stand to think about the way I lashed out at Anya and Buffy...I’m obviously going to hell. Or maybe I’m already in hell. That would explain a lot. At the very least, I’m losing my mind.
Suddenly it’s all just too much. I have to get away from everyone—from Spike—or my head is going to explode. I walk into the hall and slip through the door and down the stairs into the blessed silence of the basement.
* * *
I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been down here – maybe an hour, maybe longer – I’m so intent on beating the ever-loving crap out of the punching bag that I don’t hear the door or the footsteps on the stairs. I don’t hear anything but the furious pounding of my fists against leather until Spike leans in and speaks directly into my ear.
“I think it’s dead, Harris.”
I whirl around to face him, fist cocked, and then I bend over, hands on knees, trying to catch my breath. And if my heart is hammering in my chest, it’s because I was working out hard and then I was startled, not because Spike’s voice, his presence in the room, makes every organ, every nerve, every cell in my body lurch into overdrive.
I raise my head, and Spike’s standing perfectly still a few feet away, looking intently back at me. I stand up straight and try to mimic his cool gaze. It seems we’re in a sort of staring contest, and I wonder if we’re ever going to move or speak. I know I can’t. I can barely think, and when Spike drops his gaze to my mouth and the tip of his tongue comes out to moisten his lips, I can’t think at all. But I can feel everything – my hands throb from the beating I gave the bag, beads of sweat trickle slowly down my back, and my cock goes from dormant to alert in less time than it takes Spike to close the short distance between us.
Spike’s eyes are impossibly blue. He’s so close I can smell my soap on his skin, which makes my dick even harder. Then he leans in and reaches over my shoulder to steady the still-swaying bag. Looks at me. Closes his eyes and breathes in deeply, nostrils flaring. And that’s it. I'm fucking lost. I don’t care if this is wrong. The only thing I care about now is how long I have to wait before he kisses me.
Seconds. Maybe five. And then he crushes my body to his and claims my mouth in a bruising kiss. I’m driven by the same urgency, pressing into him with an almost punishing force, and all I want right now is...everything. I want everything. But I’ll take this. Spike’s tongue plunging into my mouth and tangling with mine. One hand slipping under my sweat-soaked t-shirt and running smoothly up my back, the other clasping my jaw tightly, taking the kiss even deeper.
And it’s good. It’s fucking amazing. But I need more. I pull him closer, snaking one arm around his back and pulling his hips flush with mine. I trace the hard muscles of his chest with my fingertips, teasing roughly at his nipples until he gasps and bucks against me. And then his hand is tangling in the hair at the base of my skull and tugging my head back hard, exposing my throat to a bruising assault.
Spike’s mouth is everywhere: licking and sucking at my collarbone, moving wetly up my throat, biting along my jawline with blunt teeth. He’s not trying to be gentle, and I must be a sick fuck because it’s driving me crazy, making me grab hold of his ass and thrust against him again and again.
And then we’re kissing again, rough and hungry and so deep, and still it’s not enough. I’m painfully hard now, so hard I’m thinking of saying screw the apocalypse and dragging Spike back to my place for more of last night’s naked touching and whatever else he might want to do. Quite frankly, I don’t think I’d be able to say no to anything Spike suggested right now, and isn’t that a disturbing thought? Just my luck, I don’t get to pursue it for long.
The sound of the door opening at the top of the stairs propels us in opposite directions. I’m leaning innocently against the stair railing and Spike’s jabbing at the punching bag when Dawn’s disembodied face appears above me.
“Buffy asked me to tell you two that we’re having an emergency meeting.” Her voice is thick and when she tucks her hair behind her ear, I can see that she’s been crying. That can’t be good.
“Did something happen, Dawnie? Is everyone okay?”
“Chloe,” she sobs a little as she says the name but clears her throat and tries again. “Chloe…she’s dead. Buffy and I found her. She...she hung herself.” She wipes at her eyes and takes a deep, shaky breath. “You better come up.”
The door swings to behind her and I start walking toward the stairs, trying to adjust my jeans as I go. I’m halfway up before I realize that Spike isn’t behind me. I turn and see him standing right where I left him, hands in pockets, looking at the floor, his face tense and kind of pained.
“You coming?” I ask. My voice sounds shaky.
“Yeah. Be up in a minute. I just need to...” His voice trails off and then he looks up at me and smiles, a sad little smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. It makes my heart stutter painfully in my chest. I almost give in to the desire to go back down the stairs and take him in my arms, but I don’t know if he’d want it. So I tighten my grip on the railing and climb the last few stairs. By the time I’m through the door, I’m in passable Scooby mode, but I can still taste Spike’s kiss. I brush my fingers over my lips and – I can’t help it – I wish I were already home and alone with him again.
* * *
Hours later and my head is still spinning from the night’s insanity. I’m leaning against the porch rail, draining one beer and holding another against my scraped and throbbing face, listening to the sounds coming from the house. The fridge opening and closing, water running, shouted words of good night and, finally, silence. I’m doing a piss-poor job of pretending that I’m not waiting for Spike. I'm pathetic.
When Buffy gathered us all in the living room, I was expecting an impromptu wake, a few words for a sweet girl. Imagine my shock when I found myself at the Slayer’s pep rally from hell. Which quickly turned into the puppet show of doom. Which opened the portal of primeval despair. And of course, Buffy had to jump in, only to be returned when Spike had hunted down the demon exchange student from whereverthehell and dropped his sorry carcass back into the freaking portal, which had been magicked up by Willow – complete with hair colour change and terrifying but thankfully temporary loss of control.
But that wasn’t even the night’s biggest thrill. Far from it. The real killer was watching Buffy tell Spike he wasn’t big and bad enough anymore, that she needed a killing machine, not a tortured soul. She wanted the old Spike back. The one who tried to rape her, though she didn’t say that, of course. Spike got mad, stormed out, but some things never change. Spike will do whatever it takes to make Buffy happy. So he gathered up his tattered masculinity, dug out his stupid sexy leather duster, wailed on the demon, and saved the day. Buffy’s big hero.
But at what cost? He must be suffering from the world's worst case of metaphysical whiplash. And, I hate to admit this, but I'm also wondering if the kindler, gentler Spike—the guy who might possibly have wanted me—is gone for good. I think it’s safe to assume that Big Bad Version 2.0 won’t so much as give me the time of day. But who am I kidding? He’s just Spike. Same guy he always was. Same immortal vampire in love with the same Slayer. Forever and ever amen.
I never stood a chance.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I’m Normal Guy. Always have been. And that’s great if you’re looking for someone with an inappropriate sense of humour who has a way with power tools and never forgets to bring the snacks. But really, those things aren’t essential. Watching the three superfriends in action tonight really drove that truth home. I’m the guy you can live without. Cue the violins.
I’ve almost resigned myself to a life of heroic celibacy when Spike walks out, wearing the coat. I ask him if he’s ready to head home, and he can’t seem to make himself meet my eyes when he replies.
“Not sure I’m ready to turn in yet. Think I’ll make a quick sweep of the cemeteries, try to get in a bit more aggro before bed time.”
I shift the beer I’m holding against my cheek to the back of my neck, where tension is cruelly tightening its fingers. I try and fail to keep the bitter edge from my voice. “Yeah. Right. Don’t want to waste your mojo sitting around at home. You should go out, make the rounds, let everyone know the Big Bad is back and dying for action. Who knows? Might even get you what you’re after.”
I hear a boot heel cracking wood and suddenly Spike is right up in my face. I whip my hands out in front of me, still holding the beer, and he swats it out of my hand. I watch it arc through the air and roll across the lawn before I turn back to face him. My heart is pounding in my chest, in my throat. For a second, he’s not even Spike, just a chipless vampire in full game face. Then his human features slide back into place. Still, scary as fuck.
“What am I after then, Xander?” He’s smiling tightly and his eyes are hard and electric blue. “Tell me. Because I sure as hell don’t know.”
I try to say it. Buffy. But I can’t do it. He’s looking at me, really looking at me, for the first time since the basement, and I just want to keep him here.
“Nothing, Spike. I’m sorry. I don’t know what I’m saying.”
Something softens in his gaze and he lifts his hand, touches my face, the lightest possible brush of fingertips against my swollen cheek, and then he lets his arm drop, the leather of his coat making a familiar rustling sound as his arm settles against his side.
“You alright, Harris?” He tilts his head and examines me, head to toe, and I appreciate the sentiment, I really do, but it’s not enough.
“I’m okay, Spike. You?” He nods absently, but he’s already thinking about something else, and as I stand there, I can almost see myself fading from his eyes. And I may be stupid, but I get this, and the best thing for me to do now is try to make a graceful exit.
* * *
It’s 3 a.m., and I’m wide awake, tossing and turning, wondering if the night is ever going to let me sleep, when the phone rings out like a gunshot in the silence of my bedroom. For a split second, I’m convinced it’s Spike. I fumble around in the dark trying to find the damned thing, stubbing my toe hard on the night table in the process. I finally answer it on the fourth ring. When I realize who it is, I have to congratulate the gods of irony.
“Xander? You sound out of breath and cross. Were you masturbating?”
“Anya? No! I– What’s wrong? Is everything alright?”
“Oh, nothing’s wrong. As long as you’re not masturbating, everything’s perfect!” She sounds delighted with herself, or maybe with me, but I’m not sharing the joy. I don’t think there are words to describe how inappropriate it is for your ex-fiancée to call you up in the middle of the night and ask if you’re having a nice date with the sock puppet of love. I try to keep my voice calm.
“Anya, what are you talking about?”
“This is a booty call.”
“A what now?”
“A booty call. You know. I call, I offer you booty, and then we indulge in some ill advised but undeniably hot sex. What part are you finding confusing?”
I really don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t think jumping into the sack with Anya is the answer to any of my problems right now. I try to be diplomatic. “Um, I’m not so much confused as I am…shocked. Well, more like surprised. I wasn’t expecting you to…what made you decide to…to make such a generous offer now?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, and I’m horny, and you’re always horny, so I figure now’s the perfect time. Spike’s here, probably having make-up sex with Buffy as we speak, so I know you’re alone over there, and I’m alone over here. It just seems silly for us not to–”
“I said, I’m alone over here–”
“No, before that, what did you say about Spike?”
“Oh that. He showed up here about an hour ago and disappeared into Buffy’s room. There hasn’t been a peep out of them since.”
“An, I’m sorry. I’ve got to go. I can’t. I have to...sorry. Bye”
I drop the phone on the bed. I can still hear Anya talking, though her voice is faint and my blood is rushing in my ears.
“Xander? Are you there? Are you saying no? What’s the world coming to– ”
I find the button and hang up the phone. Somewhere deep inside me, I feel the minuscule flame of hope or optimism or whatever the hell I’ve been stupidly nurturing for who knows how long flicker and then fade into nothing. I lie back on the bed and stare blindly into the darkness.