A/N: For Annie Sewell-Jennings, who wanted Spander angst. Thanks to wisacress, who did this before me, and much better, too.
Xander follows doggedly behind them. “Listen, Spike. I don’t know why you think Buffy needs your help.”
“I don’t,” says Buffy. “He just keeps following me around. Like a little puppy.”
“Did you hear that, Spike? Like a little puppy.”
“Yeah, I heard. Now sod off.” He and Buffy keep walking.
Xander stops, finally giving up the chase. What? They’ve got preternatural speed and he’s got the doughnut and large milkshake he ate for lunch. “Buff,” he calls after them. “Just tell him to get lost. Stake his undead ass.”
Buffy shakes her head and keeps walking. But Spike pivots and walks backwards a few steps, duster flaring around him. Even from a distance, Xander can Spike’s smirk. The vampire wriggles his fingers in some cheesy parody of a farewell, then turns back to Buffy.
Xander stands there and stares after them for a while until an old lady waiting for a bus gives him a very dirty look. That’s when he decides that something’s got to give, and by God, for once it’s not going to be him.
He starts walking again.
It’s a melee. There’s no other word for it. He’s never seen the cemetery so busy, and yeah, he’s feeling the guilt a bit. For ragging Spike when it’s clear he is needed. And for not trusting his motives.
Okay, hold on, no. Scratch that last bit. He’s feeling guilty, not stupid. Spike and his motives are nefarious like … like … fuck, he’s always been bad at the simile game as evidenced by Grade 10 English and his supa-spectacular 63 percent. Let’s just say untrustworthy and Spike go together like … no, that’s not gonna work either. Okay—
“Xander!” Buffy runs by the tombstone where he’s skulking, blonde hair streaking out behind her. “What are you doing here? It’s not safe!” She dropkicks a demon with purple tentacles and straddles it. She starts tugging at its neck, but the little barbs are getting in the way. “Spike!”
From across the cemetery, Spike’s white hair and black coat are startling against the grey of so much granite. “What?” the vampire calls. Xander can see a cloud of dust forming around him. “Kinda busy over here, Slayer!”
The purple demon bucks upwards and nearly dislodges Buffy.
“Can I help?” Xander asks. He starts to circle them, looking for a weapon of some kind.
Buffy’s out of breath, but he can still see her irritation. “Didn’t you even bring an axe?”
“Well, no, I actually wasn’t planning on becoming demon kibble tonight. I was a little more concerned with what Spike was up to.”
“Spike?” She punches the demon hard in the face. It roars and spits some viscous green junk at her, just missing her face by millimetres. “Ewwww. Spike!” Then, to Xander, “What about him?”
Xander comes a little closer, crouches down so they can talk better. The demon’s long tentacles whip against the grass in frustration. “Why’s he around all the time? I mean, evil undead, right? Sure he’s chipped, but he’s not defanged. Look at Angel. There’s always a way to get with the Dark Side. Umm … uh … bad example. Listen, Buff … I think he might like you or something.”
“SPIKE! GET YOUR BONY WHITE ASS OVER HERE BEFORE I MAKE YOU WISH YOU’D NEVER BEEN TURNED!”
Xander sighs. Fine, then. Clearly not the best time for a serious discussion.
Spike bounds over, vaulting a tombstone in the process. Show off. “Right, Slayer. Show you how it’s done, yeah?”
She gets up off the demon and steadies it as Spike takes its head in his hands. “See, you hold like this, careful of the goo, don’t want to get that on you. Burns like a sonuva bitch. Right. Hands on head, quick jerk to the left and we’re away.” There’s a hideous snapping sound and the demon’s body crumples to the ground, twitching in its death throes.
“Ewww,” says Buffy, staring down at it.
“Ewww,” says Xander, but he’s staring at Spike. The vampire’s eyes are electric blue. He’s almost shimmering with maniac energy; it’s coming off him in waves.
Spike snorts. “Trouble with you two is, you don’t appreciate true artistry when you see it. That was a clean break. Too hard and the head comes right off. I should know—”
There’s a roar from over by the McDougall crypt.
“On it. Bet I can kill more than you.” He tosses her a sword from a duffel bag.
“In your dreams.”
The two dash off, leaving Xander with the dead demon.
Now he’s got a choice. Does he leave and chalk this up to yet another failure by Xander Harris, another exciting summer evening on the Hellmouth? Or does he stick around and try to press his case with Buffy?
Spike … he’s everywhere these days. Always hanging around them, constantly on Xander’s mind. It’s not healthy; he’s officially decided. And he wants something. He must want something. Spike never does anything out of the good of his heart. Because in order to do that Spike would have to have (a) a heart and (b) some good in it.
He can’t see where Buffy and Spike have got to, but they’ve probably got everything under control. And yeah, she does need Spike tonight, so there’s no point in making trouble. And no, that’s not a pang he’s feeling. Definitely not. He’s not the Zeppo – he’s long over that. He’s a useful part of their crack Scooby team. He’s the … guy. With the … stuff.
Fuck it. He’s going home. Maybe Willow will want to do a movie or something.
Xander turns to leave, and promptly falls flat on his face. There’s a tentacle wrapped around his leg and holy shit, the demon’s not dead after all.
He’s being pulled towards the thing, can already feel the burn of its ooze or whatever the gunk is on his ankle. He flails around, trying to grab on to something, anything; tries to halt his progress towards what are probably very sharp and vicious teeth and claws. But he comes up empty. A lot like his life, really.
Xander opens his mouth. He screams for Buffy. But what in fact comes out of his mouth is “SPIKE!”
Time slows; it reminds him of the one time his mother had tried to bake a cake for his birthday. It was a ginger cake, and the golden syrup had gleamed as it spilled from the jar, slow and silky.
The cake was burned. Inedible. Xander remembers that they went out for Chinese food instead, and that his father was abusive to the waiter at the restaurant. One of the better family birthdays.
He kicks out with both feet, then the tentacles wrap around his waist and he’s there at the monster’s mercy and he feels it: the worst pain he’s ever felt in his life. Tearing, ripping, burning, bloody, fuck it hurts.
“Xander!” He can hear Buffy’s panic and then she’s there with her sword, killing the demon dead a second time. She kneels beside him, hands fluttering uselessly across his chest. “Xander! Open your eyes! Oh, God!”
“Hi Buff,” he says. He wants to open his eyes, but he can’t. It’s much nicer with them closed. He feels a rush of air as she’s pushed aside. Spike’s hands are cool against his face. He can hear frantic scrabbling off to the right.
“Spike, Spike! I lost my cell phone. It must have fallen out of my pocket. Oh God! Xander—”
“Slayer! Whelp’s gonna die unless you move it. Now. Go. Get help.”
“Yes, right, help. Wait. Why me? You go! He’d want me to stay with him.”
“Use your sodding brain for once, Slayer! Who better than a vampire to know how to keep a bloke from bleeding to death?”
“Oh … okay. But—” Xander can hear the open distress in her voice, and he wants nothing more than to tell her it’s going to be all right.
But of course it isn’t. And he’s not so good with the verbalizing right now. So he lays there in a haze of pain-drugged lassitude as she runs off to get the cavalry.
It’s a nice thought.
Vaguely, he’s aware of Spike throwing off his duster, tearing his black t-shirt into pieces. He struggles, and manages to say past the blood in his mouth, “Whattareya gonna wear?”
Spike pauses. “What?”
“Only … got one shirt, right?”
Spike barks out a laugh. It sounds as pained as Xander feels. “You’re a bloody stupid git, Harris.”
“Yeah.” He smiles. At least he thinks he does; his face is kind of numb.
Spike starts doing things to Xander’s chest. Binding things. “Slayer’s gone to get help. Few stitches, bit of borrowed blood, dab of gold paint. You’ll be good as new.”
Xander opens his eyes. Spike is kneeling beside him, bare chest gleaming softly pale in the moonlight. His face is hard, all sharp lines and edges. His eyes are blue, so blue, like the lake where he and Willow went swimming one summer, way back when. Like the lake … hey, he did a simile. Cool.
He grimaces as a wave of agony sweeps over his body. Then Spike’s hands are gripping his arms, so roughly that they eclipse the other pain. Xander's eyes open again to stare up at the vampire. Is he … crying?
“Don’t die on me, Harris. Don’t die. Bloody don’t die. You fucking child. What do you know? What do you know about anything? Don’t die. Don’t fucking die on my watch. Bloody don’t!”
Xander gasps suddenly, feels his heart seize then beat faster and faster to the rhythm Spike is spinning.
He can no longer feel the fingers clutching at him.
“I’m sorry, Spike,” he says.
There’s a muffled curse and then moist, desperate breath on his face. “I could … I could drink you, Xander. Turn you. It’s not that bad, honestly. I’d take care of you. It wouldn’t be that bad. I promise, Xander. I promise.”
It’s the first time he’s ever heard Spike say his name. He smiles again, and from the strange, choked sound the vampire makes he knows that this time he succeeded.
“Thanks.” For offering
“I thought …” He coughs, feels the blood trickle down his chin. Stain on his clothes. Buffy’ll know a trick for getting it out. “I thought … I thought—”
“S’always been you.”
“Fuck! Xander! Stay with me, mate. Don’t fucking die!”
“Spike — Would you—”
A harsh, indrawn breath. “Anything.”
“Would you … kiss me?”
“Oh, God. Love. Xan.”
Then Spike is leaning down, kissing him. And his lips are so soft, so incredibly soft that for a moment Xander wonders if he’s imagining their touch against his. Except Spike moans and presses harder and then, yeah, there’s no doubt, because it’s the best thing he’s ever felt in his whole sorry, stupid life, which is an irony that he just doesn’t have time to fully explore.
Once, last year, he leafed through a book that Joyce left sitting on the kitchen counter. There was a busty heroine and some bodice ripping and a paragraph that made him laugh out loud:
When they kissed it was like dying. Drowning. A fever in the blood. Better than anything he could have imagined. A burning, a claiming. And beneath it all, something deeper. It felt like coming home.
It was funny, then. But now?
Yeah. Sounds about right.