orchidluv (orchidluv) wrote in bloodclaim,

Title: Nothing the Same
Author:  orchidluv
Chapter: 20/?
Pairing: Spike/Xander
Rating: PG 
Feedback: yes, please
Concrit: any and all welcomed
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Anything from Season 1 on. 
Summary: AU from The Harvest. Xander doesn't deal well with Jesse's death and everything changes from there.
Notes: Based on the plotbunny posted awhile back by
[info]wickedchocolate. I took the first part of the bunny only: Xander never got over Jesse’s death. After he dusted Jesse, he was never the same. Xander isolated himself from Willow and wanted nothing to do with Buffy.
previous parts


Chapter 20

Leaving the bar with Xander, Spike gave no outward indication that he was thinking hard, rapidly weighing and discarding options. He’d suggested that he and Xander go somewhere more private but didn’t actually have a plan for where to go.

He wanted more than just a quick snog in the car. Truth be told, he wanted a comfortable bed, a full night and a selection of toys but Xander wasn’t ready for that. Reluctantly letting go of that pleasant image, Spike ran through the possibilities. The factory was out; between the minions hanging about and Angelus, who wouldn’t be able to resist making comments sure to either embarrass or enrage Xander, there was no chance of the mood surviving. Xander’s house was also not a possibility; his parents were nearly as bad as Angelus at shutting up and minding their own bloody business. He wondered if Xander would be open to the idea of getting a hotel room or if they should just find a deserted park.

“Spike, there’s something you need to know.”

Spike answered absently, still considering the relative merits of a couple of nearby parks and missing the worry in Xander’s voice. “What’s that, pet?”

“Buffy and her Watcher know about the factory.” Xander blurted it out in a rush like he needed to get it out quickly or not at all. “I’m sorry, I had to tell them about Angel. He…he killed one of my classmates and I couldn’t stand the thought that it might have been because Buffy didn’t know where he was.”

As they reached the DeSoto, Spike removed his hand from where it had been resting on Xander’s back and leaned against the side of the car, crossing his arms and frowning darkly at Xander. “Told the Watcher and the Slayer where I live, eh? Trying to get me killed?”

Xander shook his head, looking anxious. “No! Mr. Giles said Buffy won’t attack the factory, said she wasn’t ready to face Angelus alone, let alone somewhere where there are a bunch of other vampires.” He bit his lip, dark eyes pleading. “I’m really sorry but I had to tell them. I can’t just sit by and let Angel kill my classmates, not when I know something that might help stop them.”

Spike moved like lightening, grabbing Xander by the shoulders and reversing their positions, until Xander’s back was against the car and Spike was leaning into him. “Think you owe me something for that, pet,” he purred. Xander had instinctively raised his arms defensively and Spike grabbed his wrists, pinning them against the car. He moved closer, aligning their bodies from knee to chest and let a tinge of yellow show in his gaze. “Don’t you?”

Xander looked completely shocked for a fraction of a second then burst into laughter. He struggled half-heartedly to pull one hand free with the obvious intention of hitting Spike but relaxed when Spike refused to let go. “Jerk! God, I thought you were serious for a minute there.”

“I’m very serious, luv.” Spike leaned harder and let Xander feel his growing erection.

Xander’s laughter died but the sparkle of humor remained in his smiling eyes. “It’s….possible that having accidentally exposed you to mortal danger from the Slayer, I owe you something.” He screwed up his face in mock thought. “Letter of apology?” he suggested, lips twitching with barely suppressed laughter.

Spike glared. “Have to do a lot better than that, mate.” He thrust his hips forward to emphasize the last word and was pleased when Xander gasped. Spike grinned ferally as he felt Xander’s cock twitch and smelled the first hint of arousal in the night air.

Spike was amused that Xander managed one more come-back, despite his obvious and growing response to Spike’s proximity. “Detail your car?”

“Complete silence for half a mo’,” Spike countered and ensured compliance by closing the narrow gap and kissing Xander hard. He released Xander’s wrists and slid his hands into the dark wavy hair, holding Xander still while his mouth attacked Xander’s.

Xander opened his mouth under the assault, letting Spike’s tongue dart inside. His own arms closed around Spike, clinging to the sharp angles of Spike’s shoulder blades. Spike could feel Xander’s erection against his and pushed forward harder, feeling the heat of Xander’s arousal through layers of cloth. Xander’s hips were thrusting up against Spike’s now and Spike dropped one hand to Xander’s ass, cupping it and pulling them closer together. His lips devoured Xander’s as their tongues danced in a complicated rhythm that was as old as time but new and fresh between the two of them.

Xander’s hands began exploring Spike’s back, tracing along the wiry muscles and learning by touch the slender, compact build of the vampire. Two sets of hips rubbed and thrust against each other as tension built until Xander stiffened and jerked, his hips stuttering against Spike’s as the slightly salty aroma of semen rose around them and Xander’s cry was swallowed by Spike’s mouth.

Spike lasted only a moment longer. His hips thrust hard against Xander’s and he reached orgasm in a silent rush, surrounded by the tastes and scents of the boy he had desired for so long.

Their lips parted and for a long moment neither moved, simply leaning against each other in the heady aftermath. Xander’s warm breath puffed against Spike’s neck as his hands continued to trace lightly over Spike’s back. Spike took several deep, unnecessary breaths reveling in their mingled scents.


“So,” Xander finally got his wits back enough to speak. “Does that mean you’re not mad at me?”

Spike looked confused for a second and Xander couldn’t help smiling at the thought that Spike had been as effected by the kiss as he was. Understanding and amusement flared in Spike’s eyes. “Furious, pet. Gonna take a lot to make it up to me.”

Xander’s smile broadened into a satisfied smirk. “I can work with that.”

“Cheeky bugger.”

“Seriously, Spike.” Xander reluctantly stirred in Spike’s arms but relaxed contentedly when Spike tightened his hold, keeping him prisoner. His own arms slid down into a loose embrace around Spike’s waist. “Giles said Buffy wouldn’t attack the warehouse but I really don’t want to have caused you any trouble.”

Spike shook his head, looking unconcerned. “Watcher’s right, be suicide to storm the warehouse. No, she’s more likely to lurk about outside and try and take Angelus on one on one than anything else.”

“I think Giles is right about Buffy not being ready to take on her ex yet. She’s sure not showing any signs of wanting to fight him.”

Spike finally released Xander, turning to lean his back against the car shoulder to shoulder with Xander. He rummaged in his pockets, pulling out his cigarettes and lighter, only to stare at them for a second before tucking them back into his pockets again, unused. “Probably true, pet. Humans get completely fashed about things like killing ex-lovers. All sorts of sentimental twaddle gets in the way.”

Xander laughed. “Yeah, we’re funny that way,” he agreed.

“Let me know if she thinks I’ve violated the truce though, eh, luv? Need to know if I have to start watching my back against the Slayer.”

“I will. I don’t think Mr. Giles thinks you have but I’ll make sure and let you know if Buffy does.” That was easy enough to promise, Xander thought, relieved that Spike wasn’t angry or upset over Xander telling Giles about Angel living at the factory. Spike didn’t even seem worried about it so Xander figured he could stop feeling like he’d done something wrong.

In the relief that followed, Xander suddenly became acutely conscious of the fact that he was standing there in cum-stained jeans. He blushed beet red and snuck a quick peek down at Spike’s jeans, vastly relieved to find that Spike was in no better shape. Looking up, he groaned as he realized Spike had seen what he was doing and, from the smirk twisting Spike’s lips, knew exactly why he was checking out Spike’s groin. Why wasn’t there ever a hole big enough to swallow you around when you needed one?

“Maybe we should go home,” he suggested.


Spike eyed the boy sitting beside him on the worn vinyl seat singing under his breath to some godawful tune he’d found on the radio. He wanted to get Xander something nice for St. Valentine’s Day, coming up in two days. Humans loved sentimental shite like that, but he didn’t really know what to get him.

Drusilla had been easy to buy presents for. If it was a surprise, she’d loved it. Jewelry, pets, clothes, she’d received them all with childlike excitement. He’d long ago suspected she simply liked unwrapping and opening the boxes, regardless of what she would find inside. Dru’s visions had so often shown her what was to come that Spike figured it wasn’t really unusual that she had taken such delight in the small surprises hidden inside the wrapped parcels. Spike had showered her with gifts in their years together, partly because she didn’t remember them for long. The clothes would be discarded, torn and bloodstained on the floor, the pets died of starvation and neglect, and the jewelry would as often be draped over lampshades as worn on Drusilla’s slender body.

He didn’t know what kind of a present to get for Xander. Xander didn’t seem to expect anything from him except friendship which was unheard of in Spike’s experience. He had enough of a picture of Xander’s life to know that there had not been a lot of loving generosity shown towards the boy, especially recently. Despite the fact that he knew he was acting like a besotted fool, Spike wanted to do something to make Xander happy.

Spike grinned as a thought crossed his mind. Xander enjoyed getting out of town and experiencing new things. Spike could do that.

Satisfied he had a plan, Spike spoke casually as he pulled to a stop outside Xander’s house. “Got anything planned Thursday night, pet?” he asked. Thursday was St. Valentine’s Day.

“Homework, tv, the usual,” Xander shrugged.

“Pick you up here at 6?” Spike suggested. “Maybe finish that game of pool you interrupted to avoid losing.”

“Hey! I so would have kicked your ass if…, um,” Xander stumbled to a halt in embarrassment, remembering how the pool game had ended.

Spike flashed him a wicked leer. “If my incredibly sexy body hadn’t caused you to throw yourself at me?” he finished helpfully.

“You wish. I gave you a peck on the lips which you totally took advantage of,” Xander rallied with a grin.

“Well, yeah, I’m evil. Taking advantage is my specialty.”

Xander climbed out of the car and leaned in for a second. “Spike,” he said seriously. “thanks.”

Spike tilted his head curiously, wondering exactly what his boy was thanking him for. “Any time, pet. See you Thursday.”

Xander nodded and shut the door turning to walk up to the house. Spike watched until he was safely inside, then sped away from the curb.

He needed to make some calls.


The Valentine’s Day dance was the main topic of conversation around the school. For once, Xander was grateful for his loner status that put him outside the groups of gossiping students discussing dates and outfits for the dance. He had no intention of outing himself and inviting Spike to the dance. There lay badness in so many directions. It might almost be worth it to see Willow and Buffy’s reactions but Buffy’s reaction was likely to include violence and Willow’s would surely involve recriminations and hurt looks and just no. Not going there. He wasn’t ashamed of Spike and proud to be dating the vampire, but he wasn’t going to put the fragile peace to the test of a public meeting.

With Angel’s history pretty much investigated and the werewolf crisis behind them, there was a lull on the research front. Apparently nothing big was brewing and Giles had Buffy doing far more training than patrolling.

Angel wasn’t doing anything more than any other vampire, at least so far, and thankfully wasn’t living up to his reputation for mayhem. Xander just hoped that didn’t mean the vampire was biding his time, working up to something big. So far he seemed content to play mind games with Buffy - sending her flowers, telling her mother they’d slept together, lurking around in the background. With the noted exception of murdering Teresa, it all seemed rather petty, like something a jilted teenager would do not something a demon with Angelus’ reputation should stoop to. On the other hand, Xander couldn’t argue with success. Buffy’s reactions seemed out of proportion for the relative insignificance of the incidents, leaving her off balance and an emotional wreck. Which, Xander supposed, was the point. Frankly, rather than coddling her, he thought Mr. Giles should be shaking some sense into his Slayer but Xander was so not going to express that thought to anyone.

The week of joint research which had thrown he and Willow together every day had eased the tension between them. Buffy and Spike were off limits as conversation by mutual, silent accord and Xander found they were drifting back into being friends again. It was different, their old easy companionship was probably beyond repair, and they were both holding things back and treading lightly. But it was better than it had been in a long time.

Unfortunately, the timing sucked. Willow was practically dancing with excitement over her first “real” dance with a date and Xander was getting the brunt of her enthusiasm. Willow was really trying to not openly display her happiness in front of Buffy out of consideration for Buffy’s boyfriend issues but she was wound up and had to talk to someone. Xander had apparently been nominated as the person Willow was getting share-y with since Buffy wasn’t available and it would be too “spazzy” to talk about it in front of Oz. So he walked beside Willow in the halls, nodding and smiling in all the right places, long years of habit kicking in with reminders of the best way to handle Willow’s enthusiasm over something Xander had no interest in. From Barbie dolls and goldfish to incomprehensible Bollywood films and chemistry, Xander had had years of practice in half-listening to excited babble about things he didn’t care about.

His renewed friendship with Willow meant he was also spending a fair bit of time with Oz and that was of the good. He and Oz had talked a few times without Willow as well, just casual stuff: Oz’s band, the school paper, the swim team’s prospects, but there was, at least on Xander’s part, a growing feeling of trust and the tentative beginnings of friendship that Xander welcomed. They hadn’t talked of anything personal since the day Xander had learned Oz was a werewolf, but he had a feeling that he could tell Oz about Spike and that Oz would greet the revelation with the same unflappable calm that was his reaction to almost everything. He’d had the chance to see Oz and Willow together a lot and Xander liked the way Oz treated Willow, especially the way he could gently stop Willow when she was in full flow without hurting her feelings. It was a skill Xander had never possessed and, more than anything else, convinced him that Oz would be good for Willow.

Still, other than getting to know Oz better, it was a school week he could have lived without. He was comfortably sure that he wasn’t in a relationship that called for all the Valentine’s Day foolishness. After all, one of the perks of being gay had to be that all that mushy stuff was completely left out of the relationship. Plus, Spike was a vampire, no way were vampires into celebrating Valentine’s Day. Dating a gay vampire had to be the best way ever out of Valentine’s Day expectations.



Xander got out of the car reluctantly. “Spike,” he asked, appalled. “Why are we here?”

Spike surveyed Sunnydale’s mall with resignation. “Gotta pick something up. Won’t take more’n a couple minutes.”

“How about I just wait in the car?” Xander suggested hopefully. When Spike had picked him up tonight, he’d been expecting a quick trip to the bar. A stop at the mall had been the last thing on his mind.

“Won’t do, luv. Need you to watch my back in there. Don’t want you grousing because I lost it and killed a bunch of crazed bints in a shopping frenzy who got on my nerves.”

Xander grumbled but closed the car door and slouched over to join Spike. “Don’t count on me stopping you,” he muttered. “This better not take long. I hate malls.”

“You’ll survive,” Spike informed him unsympathetically.

Xander really did hate malls. Trailing behind Spike, he wasn’t even particularly curious about what Spike needed to pick up. He didn’t like shopping and he usually couldn’t afford to buy anything anyway, so malls were just a giant waste of time in his book. Xander didn’t care about clothes, so long as they were comfortable and relatively clean. He knew that he was generally regarded as a hopeless geek in general and he knew he dressed like a loser, but he wouldn’t have a clue about how to dress fashionably even if he could afford it or wanted to.

He did vaguely envy Oz and Spike, neither of whom dressed in anything like what Xander dimly understood as the current fashion trends, but somehow they both just had a certain coolness factor that Xander couldn’t compete with. Oz didn’t actually dress all that differently than Xander but somehow Oz was both accepted and cool when he dressed that way, whereas Xander was just a dork. Spike wore t-shirts and jeans, but his body made them infinitely sexy in a way Xander knew he’d never possess. Xander was a realist and had long ago given up any hope he’d ever had of being one of the cool kids. He sighed, grateful that Spike liked him despite the way he looked.

To Xander’s surprise, Spike led him to the men’s department in one of the more expensive department stores and began rapidly sorting through clothes, pulling out several shirts in rapid succession before moving to a display of jeans.

“You’re buying clothes?”

“Just one or two things, pet. These should do, come on.” Spike gathered up his selections and headed for the dressing room.

“That’s ok, I’m good out here,” Xander said hastily.

Spike snagged his wrist and began towing him into the dressing room before Xander could do more than splutter a protest. “Need you to try these on, luv. There for you.”

“What? You’re buying me clothes? Why?”

“Have to,” Spike explained as if it was the most logical thing in the world. Xander was pretty sure he was missing the logic of the situation as he was firmly tugged into a dressing room by Spike who closed the door behind them. “Have to get you some better kit than you’re wearing or they won’t let you in.”

“They’ve always let me in before.”

“Not going to the bar, got a surprise planned. Come on, let’s see if these fit.”

“Um, Spike? I usually do the changing thing alone and I don’t know about this whole buying clothes thing.” Xander didn’t even look at the clothes Spike had draped over a chair. He knew his clothes were Goodwill crap, but he didn’t need charity. “You don’t need to spend money on me, my clothes are fine,” he said stubbornly.

“Not like it’s my dosh, luv. Stolen, innit?”

“You want to buy me clothes with stolen money?” Xander sighed. “Does it make me a sociopath that it does make it seem better somehow?”

“Knew there was a reason I liked you. Come on, we’ll be late if you keep dawdling.”

“Where are we going?” Xander asked suspiciously. He glanced at the clothes Spike had picked out and froze. “No. No way. I am not wearing a silk shirt, I’ll look ridiculous. You’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt, why do I need something different?”

“Xander,” Spike’s voice was tinged with exasperation. “My clothes fit.” He reached out and snagged the waistband of Xander’s jeans, tugging to demonstrate how loosely they fit. “Could fit two of you in these bloody things.”

“They’re comfortable,” Xander said defensively, swatting at Spike’s hands which were busy unfastening the top button.

Typically, Spike ignored him and Xander found himself grasping the waistband to keep Spike from tugging his pants off. “Spike!”

“What’s the problem, luv?” Spike actually stopped and looked searchingly at Xander like he honestly didn’t understand what was wrong.

Still holding his pants up, Xander’s jaw tightened, embarrassed at Spike’s insistence. “Putting me in fancy clothes isn’t going to change the way I look.” He refastened his pants and started to push past Spike, intent on getting out of the dressing room. He should have known Spike was embarrassed by him. Why on earth had he thought that someone who looked like Spike wouldn’t mind that Xander was just ordinary.

Spike blocked his way. “Nothing wrong with the way you look, Xander. You’re a good looking bloke. Only problem I see is that no-one can see how handsome my boy is when you wear those atrocious rags.” He smiled at the surprise in Xander’s eyes. “Come on, give them a try. No-one here to see but the two of us.” He leered flirtatiously and Xander had to smile.

“Ok,” Xander gave in reluctantly sure that Spike was going to be disappointed. He toed off his shoes and turned slightly away from Spike as he took his pants off. Spike handed him a pair of jeans and he slipped them on. They were way tighter than anything he was used to wearing and he struggled with the button fly for a second. “Spike, these are too small.”

“They’re just right. Slide out of your shirt now and try this one on.”

Rolling his eyes, Xander did as instructed, pulling the cotton sweater off over his head and taking the dark blue shirt Spike pushed into his hands. He had to admit the silk felt good, cool and slippery and he gave a little shiver as the fabric slid sensuously along his skin. He buttoned it up and looked into the mirror and almost jumped in surprise as he found himself alone in the room. Startled, his head snapped around to see Spike standing behind him.

Fascinated, Xander’s gaze swung back and forth from the vampire to the mirror. “That is so weird,” he breathed. Spike just gave him an exasperated look. “Hey, I knew vampires didn’t have a reflection, it’s just the first time I’ve seen it for myself.”

“Stop looking at me and finish dressing,” Spike ordered.

“I’m not looking at you,” Xander countered. “I’m looking at the not-you in the mirror. And I am dressed.”

Spike just shook his head. “Tuck the shirt in,” he instructed.

“Fine.” Xander decided to just get this over with and did as ordered. “Happy now?”

Spike looked him over carefully. “Ecstatic.” He turned Xander around firmly, pointing him at the mirror. “What do you see, luv?”

Xander made a face. “Me.” He felt Spike move to stand close behind him, could feel Spike’s body pressing up against his and was again distracted by searching for any trace of the vampire in the mirror. He could feel Spike’s hands on his shoulders and watched fascinated as his shoulders squared under the touch of invisible hands. He shivered as the hands traced the length of his back and came to rest on his hips. Spike’s voice sounded quietly in his ear.

“Style isn’t really about what you’re wearing, it’s about how you present yourself. If you walk into a room as if you own the place, you’re halfway to ownin’ it.”

Xander thought about that. Spike oozed self-confidence and didn’t seem to care what anyone thought of him. It was part of what made the vampire so attractive. “Ok,” he said slowly, “but then I should be able to wear anything I want and still get into this place you’re taking me.”

Spike snorted in his ear. “Some of it is the actual clothes, luv. Even I couldn’t carry off those rags of yours. Think of it as a picture in the right frame, or in your case, taking the sheet off the sculpture so people can see what’s underneath.”

Xander closed his eyes and leaned back into Spike as the vampire trailed his strong hands over the tight jeans. “You look good in these, pet. Let me buy them for you and show you off in them.”

Xander sucked in his breath as Spike cupped his groin, hearing Spike’s appreciative little chuckle in his ear. “Ok.”

Spike spun him around and kissed him quickly. Then he scooped up the remaining shirts and sorted through the jeans, picking out two more pairs. He kissed Xander again, stopping the automatic protest before Xander could get the words out. “Might need the spares, luv, in case there’s pool tables in the back.” He laughed at Xander’s embarrassment, and hauled him out to the cashier.


Spike spun the wheel, turning sharply into the parking lot and bumping recklessly through the pot holey gravel until he found a spot to park. Looking around curiously, Xander couldn’t see anything special about the place. Just a low, industrial looking building in the middle of nowhere.

“You made me get dressed up for this place?”

“Bouncer’s a phrintok demon, very snobby.”

“This place has a bouncer?” Xander hadn’t ever been somewhere that had a bouncer but tv and movies had led him to expect long waiting lines at places with bouncers. Except for the cars, the place looked deserted, shabby and barely lit. Not the kind of place Xander would ever think needed a bouncer.

Spike shrugged, clearly unimpressed by the idea. “Owner’s worried too many humans will find out about the place,” he explained. “Not many humans are allowed in.”

Xander was dubious. “And you think they’re going to allow me in?”

“You’re going to get us admitted, pet.”

Xander stared at Spike in disbelief. “What? No, no, no, no, no,” he said rapidly, the syllables cascading over each other and blending into a single word. “I’m just going to be the invisible guy in your shadow while you talk to the undoubtedly scary bouncer.”

“Not happening, luv. You get us in or we don’t go.” Spike gently pushed Xander’s shoulders back and smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of the silk shirt. “Just remember, luv. You own the place. These people are lucky you agreed to come to their little establishment.” He gave Xander a small push in the direction of the door. “Go on, get us a table. I’m starved.”

“Right, lucky.” Xander muttered, then squared his shoulders and looked grimly at the door. He started walking slowly across the parking lot, thinking about how he was going to carry this off. He considered trying to imitate Spike’s attitude but sighed in despair knowing he could never carry off the dangerous, sexy swagger that was so much a part of the vampire. Maybe he could channel his inner Oz, going for that Zen calm the older boy wore so well. Plus, not a lot of talking in that scenario and talking would be Xander’s downfall. Well, unless the bouncer was laughing so hard at Xander’s complete lack of cool that he forgot to actually keep them out. Yeah, that was likely.

He hesitated before the door, taking a deep breath, grateful for Spike’s close presence at his back and muttered quietly to himself: “I own the place. These people are lucky to have me here.” He swung the door open before he could chicken out and found himself in a large foyer, empty except for the really big, really scary looking demon leaning against the wall, somehow managing to look bored and menacing at the same time. Like he was bored but the thought of violently tossing humans out of the place was perking him up.

The demon sneered, displaying fangs that would put a vampire to shame and said curtly, “no humans allowed.”

Xander drew himself up to his full height, almost reaching the demon’s chin, and did his best to sneer back. Hoping desperately the demon didn’t have the kind of hearing and smell vampire’s did so that it couldn’t hear his pounding heart, he said coldly, “don’t really care about your rules, now do I? Table for two.”

The demon straightened up and the top of Xander’s head went from almost chin height to somewhere around chest height. Oh, boy. The demon loomed over him, glaring down at him and Xander firmly clamped his jaw shut to stop himself from saying anything stupid, crossing his arms and glaring back at the demon, tapping one foot impatiently, hoping he looked like someone who couldn’t imagine not winning this confrontation and not like someone who had to pee badly.

After what felt like forever, but was probably only a few seconds, Xander was afraid the demon was going to win their silent staring match by default. Conversationally, he said, “You know, the last time a bouncer tried to keep me out of a place, it didn’t go well for him. He’s still trying to find work even as a dishwasher in the restaurant business. Lost his job and was booted out the door before we’d even reached our table. Which place was that again, Spike?”

Spike’s amused voice smoothly filled in the gaping hole in his story. “Vrosh’ta’uin’s club, luv. Old Vrosh was more than a bit put out that his bouncer didn’t recognize you.”

Xander cocked his head inquiringly at the bouncer. “So, table for two or the unemployment line. Your choice. Either let us in now or be prepared to explain to the little woman why you aren’t bringing home a paycheck after tonight.”

The demon gave a short bark of what Xander fervently hoped was laughter. “Got balls, little boy, trying to get inside with that crock story. Still, first person tonight who’s made me laugh.”

To Xander’s astonished disbelief, the bouncer opened the door for them, giving him a friendly clout on the shoulder that almost knocked him off his feet. He stumbled through the door and heard Spike’s warm chuckle in his ear as the vampire kept him from falling flat on his face. “Good work, pet.”

Flushed with victory, Xander looked around the dim interior. “What kind of restaurant is this?” he asked curiously, seeing the abnormally wide aisles with waiters pushing little carts down them.

“Ever heard of dim sum?”

He looked at Spike over his shoulder. “That’s those Chinese restaurants where they bring little carts of food by your table, right?” He brightened even further. “Cool! I’ve always wanted to eat at one of those.”

“Well, it’s kind of dim sum for demons, luv.”


As he followed Xander to the table, Spike smiled at Xander’s glee at successfully getting past the bouncer. Spike had been ready to step in if necessary but it hadn’t been. Having Xander handle the situation had been a spur of the moment impulse but Spike was glad he’d thought of it. His boy needed more self-confidence and watching him practically bouncing his way to the table, excitedly checking out the dishes being served in the enormous dining hall, Spike was reminded of his own first waking after death. The vitality of unlife had been a heady elixir, power surging through him until he’d felt like he could do anything. The unaccustomed strength that had filled him had given Spike confidence and a cocky assurance he’d never had as a human. He’d felt free of all the constraints that had bound him since childhood, indifferent to worries that had once plagued his existence, and had wanted to seek out and destroy every reminder of the pathetic existence he once had.

Xander was having a brief taste of the exhilaration that came from winning a small victory on sheer bravado alone and was clearly relishing it. Spike thought it would be good for the boy. He let his eyes trace along Xander’s frame, lingering on his boy’s ass which he was getting his first decent view of. Xander was utterly scrumptious in the close-fitting new clothes that showed off his lean frame. His old baggy, unpressed, untucked disasters had been shoved into the trunk and Spike had only refrained from burning them with an effort. Once Xander learned to stop slouching self-consciously as if trying minimize his presence and learned to carry himself with self-confidence, he would be a knockout. It still amazed Spike that the boy had no sense of how attractive he was. Whether it was because he still had a typical adolescent’s lack of coordination - although the self-defense lessons were already helping with that, or because he was genuinely oblivious, Spike didn’t know. Boy just needed a little guidance in how to dress and carry himself. He’d pick it up in no time.


Heading home from the restaurant, Xander collapsed limply in the car, leaning back against the seat oblivious for once to Spike’s crazed take on driving. “I can’t believe I ate so much.”

Spike laughed. “I can’t believe you ate some of the things you did, pet. Good on you.”

Xander groaned. “I ate parts of the body I didn’t even know existed.” He rolled his head in Spike’s direction. “Damn sneaky vampire. Can’t believe you wouldn’t tell me what those things were first.”

“Wouldn’t have tried them then, would you?” Spike asked reasonably. It had been fun, and Xander had gotten into the spirit of the place, blindly choosing dishes based on what they looked or smelled like or based on Spike’s recommendations. He hadn’t even blinked when Spike ordered human blood for himself, which they served in enormous balloon glasses like oversized wine goblets. Spike had had fun gleefully informing Xander what it was he’d just eaten and that had led to conversation about the wide variety of demons in the world. Spike had pointed out the thirty or so different species in the dining hall as well as describing the species that made up some of the dishes on the serving carts. Xander had choked when Spike told him that he was eating Telrynta toes, eating them with great relish, dipping them into the traditional sauce and eyeing the laden carts for a second helping. For a moment Xander had stared, appalled at the half eaten one in his hand. “This is a toe?” he’d asked, incredulously. Spike had assured him that it was and after a long stare, Xander had just shrugged and finished the pastry-wrapped digit. “’s really good,” he’d mumbled as he finished it.

They’d lingered for hours over the table and it had been a carefree interval such as Spike had rarely known since coming to Sunnydale. For the time being, all thought of the problems that loomed on the horizon for both of them had been pushed aside.

Looking over at his boy, Spike smiled softly and reached across and tugged Xander closer until he was resting against his side. The human warmth of the drowsy boy was lovely and he surreptitiously dropped a kiss on the top of Xander’s head. He’d been hoping to end the night differently but his boy was too sleepy for anything. He was really going to have to get used to the fact that humans didn’t have the stamina of vampires. Barely 3 a.m. and his boy was out on his feet. He tucked Xander even closer to his side and drove through the darkness, anticipating the time when he could have this lovely warm body in his bed permanently.


Returning to the factory after taking Xander home, sated and content even without a sexual end to the evening, Spike was relaxed and careless in the familiarity of home. He didn’t notice Angelus lurking near the back wall of the main room as he entered. If he had, he would have seen the way Angelus’ nostrils flared as he smelled Xander Harris’ scent all over Spike. And he would have seen the calculating look in his Sire’s eyes before Angelus faded back into the shadows and silently left the room.





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