Rating: NC-17 overall
Warnings: a bit of adult language...nothing special
A/N: Sorry this took so long. I have another WIP and I needed to update that. But, here's the next installment of MoS and I apologize for the delay!
It wasn’t until he’d gone all the way upstairs that he realized something was wrong. The house was quiet. No Spike lecturing, no Dawn arguing, no dinner smells or any of the hundred other little things that he’d grown so used to in his new life.
Grabbing an axe propped casually in the corner, Xander hefted it and began to stalk through the house. Drawing on his long gone military self, he cleared the upstairs room by room. Slipping his shoes off, he crept down the stairs with his back pressed to the wall.
Nothing in the house was out of place. For a corpse, Spike kept a damn clean house. No signs of struggle or any other untoward activities. Just a normal wholesome house, filled with cheerful clutter and teenage girl happiness, as far as Xander could tell. Pictures of various members of the Scoobies sat around the living room, shiny children’s faces that refused to believe in death. Dawn’s books stacked neatly on the dining room table next to the second-hand laptop Willow had acquired for them. Dishes in the drainer, sink wiped to a shine, and bright red apples piled in a wooden bowl stood guard over the kitchen.
Xander lowered the axe in bemusement. Huh, his tired mind teased, there’s nobody here. No evil demons waiting to disembowel me, no crazy women wanting to suck out my soul, no Hellmouthy goodness anywhere. Just…a quiet house.
Xander went back up the stairs, stripping as he pondered the improbabilities of an empty house. Spike only left after they were all asleep, patrolling the Hellmouth alone. Not that the Scoobies hadn’t offered to help, but Spike refused every single offer. Said he wasn’t Buffy and he didn’t the Wonder Friends trailing him while he hunted. Willow had confided later that she thought Spike refused to let them help because he was worried about them.
Yeah, Xander could see that. Not that he and Spike were close or anything, but somehow Spike always managed to convey that he…cared. In a way, Xander thought that Spike included them in his promise to Buffy. All that Buffy had protected, Dawn, the Hellmouth, and the Scoobies, now belonged to Spike.
“I’m not sure,” Xander murmured aloud as the tub filled, “if that makes me feel better or worse.”
So, where was Spike? Dawn could be out with Willow and Tara, or over at Janice’s house. But Spike stayed close to the house these days. He was still Spike, still a badass vamp with a major attitude problem. But, he was more serious, more focused, than Xander had ever seen him.
What was it that Angel had said about him? Xander tried to remember, but it had been so long ago. Those days of being a team, sitting around the library and saving the world, were so insubstantial now. Xander shifted in the hot water, his muscles slowly unknotting. Angel…now there was a vampire Xander didn’t want to think about.
Stupid pillock, Spike called him and Xander agreed. Not that Angel was evil, at least not anymore. It was just that for all his “doomed romance” crap, he hadn’t done much once Buffy died. Showed up in Sunnydale for the funeral and then lit out like he was being chased by an angry mob. Willow, who kept up with Cordelia, said that Angel was on a spiritual retreat in Tibet. Way to keep up the good work, Xander snorted. Don’t stick around and help, just take off. Sort of Angel’s signature move, running away.
“You keep scrunching your face up like that and one day, it’ll freeze like that.”
The words ground Xander’s train of thought to a halt. He turned and stared at Spike, seeing the vampire but not comprehending what he was seeing. Spike, in the bathroom, watching him. It was sort of difficult to wrap his head around and Xander just gaped.
“Right,” Spike sighed. “Tubby time’s over, Harris. Wouldn’t want your delicate skin to get all pruney. Hop out, there’s a good boy.”
Xander stood up, and watched in morbid fascination as Spike wrapped a fluffy towel around his hips. It wasn’t real, he told himself. He’d fallen asleep in the tub and this was some really bizarre dream. Any minute, Spike was going to morph into a duck and tell him to buy Aflac.
But, Spike stayed stubbornly unducky and led an unresisting Xander to his bedroom. Quickly, Spike dried him and tossed him a pair of workout pants. Xander dressed, dazed and exhausted.
“All right, downstairs. Let’s get some food in your belly and we’ll work this out, yeah?”
Xander nodded dumbly and followed Spike. Anytime now, he reasoned. Quack quack anytime now. Come on, brain! Let’s finish this dream up and get to the part where I wake up all sweaty and shivering.
Spike silently handed Xander a plate and stared at him. Xander ate, not really tasting his food. When the first plate was empty, Spike handed another one, face implacable. Xander continued to eat until Spike decided he’d eaten enough.
“Now,” Spike finally spoke,” we can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way.”
“Do what,” Xander choked out.
“What’s wrong, Xander? You walk around here looking like death warmed over, and trust me,” Spike said firmly,” I know exactly what that looks like.”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Xander protested. “I’m just tired. I’ve been working a lot and…”
“Bollocks,” Spike contradicted him. “You’ve been having nightmares and I know damn good and well you barely eat. So like I said, you can either tell me or I can get you stinking drunk and hoodwink it out of you.”
Xander goggled at him, and Spike pulled out two bottles of Jack Daniels.
“Your choice, but you aren’t going anywhere until I know what’s going on,” Spike assured him.
With a sigh, Xander reached for one of the bottles. If Spike was going to force him into a huggy sharing session, Xander figured that being shitfaced would make it a little easier. Well, that and he’d have better deniability tomorrow. Spike quirked an eyebrow as Xander tossed back his first drink. Yeah, definitely made things easier…