Title: Treading Water
Summary: Xander accidentally releases a "genie", and in a state of melancholy, gives in and starts making wishes. But Spike's not going to let his claimed boy belong to anyone but him, even if he doesn't know it.
Warnings: LOTS of pre-series Xander/Jesse. Oh, and Xander/Bad!Dude for a little bit, but that hardly counts, right?
Disclaimer: I do not own these character, and I do not own Yankee Candle.
The jinn was gone. Back to its candle, which was somewhere in this apartment. But that could be dealt with later.
The immediate problem stood right in front of him.
“Hell’s Gates, Harris.” His whisper was sheer venom, something in him boiling at the sheer idiocy of this boy he’d once thought so… unwavering. So infallible in his commitment to his bloody White Hat cause. Yet, here he was. Shacking up with a fucking jinn, when he of all people should know that nothing comes free on the Hellmouth. “Are you out of your bloody skull?”
“Just go away, Spike.”
“Like Hell.” His mouth curled into a snarl that, thankfully, only expressed very controlled amounts of his current rage. “Do you realize what almost happened here tonight? That thing would’ve taken every innocent soul in this town, including yours—”
“Did I stutter?” Harris forced out through gritted teeth, refusing to look at him as he crossed the room to his now busted glass coffee table. It looked like debris from a UFO. “Leave. Get out. I don’t want to hear what a fucking screw-up I am, okay? I already know.”
He fumed, every muscle in his body quaking with the urge to vamp out. His fangs panged with the want to emerge, but by some power of will he could barely recognize, he forced it all back and chose to grab the boy roughly by the wrist, all with very controlled, very stable anger. “Harris—”
Ripping his arm away, he spun to face him, eyes welling with pain and anger and grief… and something dark, dark, dark that made Spike suck in a breath as though he needed one. “Why did you come here?” He asked, voice cracking but anger keeping it level. “Why you? Why not Buffy, or Giles, or even…”
His snarl faded slowly, something in those eyes making it impossible to hold onto. Bitterness and grief, the kind that had wormed its way in too deep to heal. There were no words. They both knew why Spike was the one to come.
Lips going thin and jaw setting tight, the boy nodded to himself, closing his eyes against the knowledge. “They didn’t want to see him.” A soft, caustic laugh choked from his throat, and he turned back toward the shattered table. “They didn’t want to see him, and see me, and watch me do it again. End him myself.”
Spike’s anger simmered deep, toxic, but it hurt like hell to see him like this. His hand moved of its own accord, landing on Harris’ shoulder softly, not really gripping him, but… letting him feel him there. Through all that acrid frustration still twitching through his nerves, he was there.
“Guess they know now, huh?” He breathed out slow through his nose, a sigh of bereavement, as though he had nothing left. “What he was to me?”
“They…” He heard himself whisper, his own voice gone with the moment. Clearing his throat, he stepped a little closer. “They know he wouldn’t’ve taken the form of someone you…”
…Didn’t want. His grip tightened on the boy’s shoulder, body suddenly seizing with the frustration that had been bubbling since he’d first realized Harris had asked for that body, had asked for it first, out of all the fucking things he could’ve asked for. Want like nothing else on this earth…
“I’m in for a long, hard therapy session with G-Man.”
“There may be some awkward lecturing in store, yeah.”
“Jesus, Spike…” He whispered, shaking his head at the broken glass before him as if looking up and facing the vampire would be too much. “It’s like- like I’m in this rowboat, with one oar, and I’ve been rowing in this pond like forever, trying to find a dock. But the pond’s an ocean, a fucking ocean, and I’m right there in the middle of it with this one stupid oar, floating there, rowing in one direction, and then another, and another, but there’s no land in sight, and it’s been me treading water for six fucking years—”
The smell of salt tears stung his nose, and he breathed it in, shaking his head slowly as the whole story unfolded. From what little he got at the Box, this Jesse had been around before the Slayer ever called Sunnydale home. And when the kid met Xander’s stake, well… Boy hadn’t taken it like the others. Red said she’d grieved, Rupert as well, but they’d both confirmed that Harris had been a mess. Never quite came back from it.
Seemed he’d been trying to grieve for a long time, and no one was letting him. They’d painted over him, so to speak, started fresh. Moved on with their lives, forgotten. But Harris hadn’t.
Who could forget their first lover?
His grip on the boy’s shoulder tightened a little more, enough to make the chip hum in warning. “Need to work on your metaphors, Harris.” He whispered, clearing his throat again. Trying to draw him back from tears.
“What?” He asked faintly, turning his head in his direction, but not quite enough to look at him.
“Boats don’t tread water.” Stepping a little closer, he let his other hand touch the boy’s hip, guiding him slowly away from the broken coffee table. “Boats float. Swimmers tread water.”
With a soft snort, Harris turned to face him, once more hitting him with those dark-as-sin eyes. “Well, obviously I jumped ship a long time ago, Spike.”
God, it was intoxicating, all that darkness bottled up in something with such natural light. His frustration heightened, feverish with the demon inside of him calling for a taste. Roaring at the thought of someone getting there before him. Grip hardening, he steered the useless Scooby to one of the off-clear plastic chairs shoved into what looked to be a small dining nook. “Then I guess it’s time to climb aboard again, boy. Because I’m not playin’ ‘round with another thing that looks like that tosser.”
As expected, the kid kicked out of his chair, pushing into his face and looking completely livid. “That was my best friend, you—”
“No.” Spike sneered, just as livid, though God knows why. “That was a fucking demon. What you just sent away was a thousand-year-old soul-collector with yer lover’s face pasted on. By your own request, I might add.”
With that, he turned away and let the boy stew for a moment, stalking into the rest of the apartment in search of a candle that smelled like forest. There were a couple red ones in the remnants of the coffee table, but they definitely weren’t it. A strange cinnamon cent wafted from the boy’s bedroom, but when he found the strange purple candle, he immediately discarded it. Beeswax… He threw it aside, and when he did he noticed the tumbler on top of the boy’s dresser.
Good Ol’e Yankee Candle… He grinned a ruthless fanged grin, picking up the tumbler and sniffing it just to be sure. Yup. Apparently “Mistletoe and Fig” was why the damned jinn had smelled like a bad Christmas tree.
Tossing the thing from hand to hand, he wandered back into the living room and found Xander had picked his way past the debris and thrown himself onto the ugliest couch Spike had ever seen in his whole unlife. Every last vestige of the vampire’s Victorian sensibilities decried the orange and brown plaid wonder’s existence, but staring at it was like watching a train wreck. Impossible to look away from. The boy looked small and frail against it, all sunken in like that. Exhausted, but wide awake; the familiar look of someone settling in for what they knew would be a sleepless night.
He knew right then that he couldn’t leave him there. He couldn’t.
He set the candle down on the dining table.
“Think I killed somebody on that couch. Thirty years ago. Somebody’s fondue party.”
Cracking open one eye, Harris scoffed a little, but didn’t seem to care otherwise. He stretched out a little, and Spike’s gaze followed the way those muscles flexed. Pied Fucking Piper… His brain chided him, even as he narrowed his eyes and licked his lips in lechery.
“Really, though. Swear I remember it.” He continued, stepping over the remnants of the coffee table and falling down next to the boy, legs stretched out wide, hands resting on his thighs as they always did. “And if there’s any goodness in the world at all, there should not be more than one of these. Yeah, pillow batting, the high back—felt like I had to push my knees up to sit properly.”
“It was thirty bucks, Spike.” Harris murmured, rolling over onto his side. “You could’ve fucked on it for all I care.”
There was silence for a minute, and Spike used it to stretch out, look around. The apartment was dark and sparse, full of clutter that it didn’t need, and missing… something. Something that would’ve made it Xander’s. He didn’t know what it was, but it was making him uncomfortable.
Finally, Xander spoke. In a soft, soft voice that made it obvious how long he’d debated whether or not to ask. “Think I’ll ever get over him?”
The frustration, the anger he’d been fighting all night, riled up again full-force. He gritted his teeth. “Don’t know, don’t care. Figure it out and get yourself sorted.” The words came out harder, colder than he’d intended them. Fisting his fingers into his jeans, he looked to the mess on the floor.
Xander’s own voice came harder than he’d expected. “What the hell is your problem?”
He found himself snarling again. “A fuckin’ idiot who summoned a jinn—”
“No. You know what? That’s not your problem. Come off it, Spike, what’s your real issue? Because quite frankly, you’re being a fucking douche—”
“Just can’t believe you fell for it.” He cut him off, growling low, not wanting to snap but not sure he could hold back if he kept on this line of thought. “Of all things, that fucking form. That’s what made you turn. That fucking form.”
Tension took over, and the realization hit him square in the face—because once he’d said it, it was hard to deny what this was really about—so he tried to get up, get out, get away, but before he could even move Xander’s hand had wrapped around his wrist, pulling him back.
He didn’t want to look at him. Didn’t want to see the answer in his eyes. But he couldn’t get out of it, so he turned and met it head-on.
The boy spoke, voice faint with shock.
“You wanted it to be you.”
It hadn’t happened on purpose, God no. He’d… Hell, he’d lived with the boy for a while, hadn’t he? All tied up in that recliner, the smell of sex and Harris setting his teeth on edge. The urge to claim what his Grandsire had promised was half of his mind most days, taking over so much that he could barely function without wanting a taste of that sweet halo buzz. And he’d played with him, making fun, bantering back and forth so easily that it was simple to insert a suggestion here or there—certainly enough to let the thought stick in his mind. And, yes, he’d shown off a bit, giving him a good long look at his body on occasion. But still, as much as the boy ogled at him, bantered with him, and took care of him during his crazy-faze, he never crossed the lines of attraction Spike had been baiting. He’d figured if the boy was anything but completely straight, he’d’ve had him panting by now, and the claim would’ve been long-ago cemented. But here was this demon with a face that apparently Xander wanted to make love to. A male face. That wasn’t Spike’s.
It hadn’t happened on purpose. But there it was.
He’d lost his mind over Xander Harris.
“Oh My God.” The boy whispered, holding onto his wrist in a grip too strong for Spike to worm out of. “You’re jealous. You wanted it to be you—”
“It should’ve been me.” He cut him off with a growl that was more frustrated than anything, yanking his wrist away. “You know it, too. After all the back-and-forth, all the bloody games, pretending you hate me and I hate you… You’re mine, Harris. You were mine from the day ‘Gelus gave you to me. Don’t know what went on before that, an’ don’t fuckin’ care. Ev’ry moment after, you’ve been mine. It should’ve been my face on that jinn’s, not some long-dust product of Sunnyhell.” Seething, he stood, towering over the boy as the last of his reserve broke. “So why the fuck wasn’t it? How the fuck can you want him an’ not—”
“You still—” The boy cut him off, so quietly he barely heard him, and when he turned to listen, he was even more quiet than before. “You still have some… some sort of—”
“’Gelus offered ye to me. Even if you didn’t want it, you were mine then.” He whispered, almost ashamed of himself. “But I never… never claimed you proper-like. Because you don’t want to be mine.”
The boy’s fingers touched his face. Soft, quick, tracing the angular points of his cheekbones. And when he turned to look at him again, he found his face clasped in rough, heavy hands. Dark eyes searched his face, and he tensed as the boy leaned closer, murmuring “Don’t tell me what I don’t want,” and suddenly they were connecting.
Jesus— Jesus Fuck—His mind snapped, then shorted out again, little blips of phrasing that didn’t quite make sense. Mostly because this didn’t quite make sense. But it was happening, those calloused fingers raking up through his slicked back hair, crunching it between them as his lips sucked hard and dangerously good on his own. But before Spike could even think enough to participate, he pulled away, dark eyes searching his face slowly, carefully.
“Don’t tell me what I don’t want.” He said again, hands falling to the nape of Spike’s neck and dragging him in again.
This time Spike gave up thinking.
A half-hour later, they lay locked together, sticky and lazy, but still hungry for every touch and taste. The first time was frantic—fuck, Spike barely made it out of his jeans before he lost it—and the second time was all about him. All about this. He’d spent the last twenty minutes licking the damn jinn’s taste away from every corner of his boy’s skin, making certain his claim was sealed. Boy belonged to him now.
Stretching out beneath him, Harris leaned over and plucked the remote from the wreckage, flipping on the TV. Spike took the opportunity to wedge himself nice and tight around his prize. “So, any chance I can convince you to stick around for the night?”
Spike snorted. “Right. Like I’m goin’ anywhere.” His eyes slid to the candle on the little plastic dining table. “Gotta take the candle to Rupert, though. Right eager to get his hands on it, he is.”
Rolling back up, Harris wrapped a strong, muscled arm around his back and followed his line of sight. “The Christmas candle? Really?”
He smirked a little, running his fingers through that lovely dark hair affectionately. “Yankee candles. Made with paraffin. Best thing for trappin’ demons, since they’re man-made, not natural wax. Demons are fairly good at manipulating nature—but trap ‘em in a man-made box and they’re stuck.”
Harris grinned back, grazing his fingers down the center of Spike’s spine. God, he was beautiful like this—all fucked out and happy. And Spike had every intention of keeping him that way. He leaned in, dragging his teeth along the lobe of his ear and whispered, “Don’t think we’re gettin’ off this couch for a while, ey?”
“Prob’ly not.” The boy grinned, settling in against him. They fit together so easily, it was like they’d been laying this way all their lives.
“I just flew in from a biology lab!”
“What-?” Eyes widening, Harris immediately tensed beneath him, rolling over again to stare at the screen, where there was a slightly insane-looking bat creature with wires sticking out of his head was beginning what would apparently become a musical number. “Oh My God.”
Frowning a little, Spike watched the screen, looking for what his boy was so excited about. “What?”
“It’s-” The boy broke off in a sigh that bubbled with laughter. “Don’t worry, alright? It’s a really good sign.”
Grinning wide, Spike rested his head on Xander’s shoulder and dragged his fingers down his stomach, skimming the edge of the mess he’d made there.
He’d take all the good signs he could get.