Summary: After his relationship with Anya fizzles out Xander and Spike become lovers. Xander’s insecurities lead him to seek help from
Notes: AU begins S6 replacing Hells Bells. No Dawn, Buffy didn’t die, and Season 6 Spuffy? Eewww no.
Feedback appreciated and lusted for
Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss and Co. Damn them. And bless them.
Other chapters are here
Beta thanks to kitty_alex
Xander did his damnedest to ignore any feelings of fear or vulnerability as he ran with Spike in his arms. Unarmed, Spike’s axe laying on the ground by the Fewoi, he would be an easy target. In the back of his mind he dared any demons, vampires or humans with a death wish to confront him. His anger, fear and worry, combined with his developing skills meant he would put up a hell of a fight. But that would mean putting Spike down, leaving Spike. That would never happen, so he just ran.
All the way to the car his whispered litany continued- not dust, not dust, not dust. Not moving, not awake, not yelling at him for being so stupid as to venture in without a weapon. Not calling him a nancy for panicking and worrying. Not looking at him with the clearest, deepest blue eyes and telling Xander he loved him. Nothing. Not a twitch in his face, not a ripple through their new bond. But again, not dust.
Back at the car, he struggled for a moment before hoisting Spike over his shoulder so he could unlock and open the door. Eyeing the front passenger seat, reluctant to leave Spike alone, Xander had to concede that the back seat was the only sensible choice. He gently lowered Spike through the door and laid him out on his side, legs folded up. He secured the door then ran around to his side, stopping with his hand on the driver’s door and looking longingly back at the still body. Reaching out, Xander found himself opening the back door near Spike’s head and dropping to his knees.
He ran his fingers through Spike’s hair, along his cheek and leaned in to place soft kisses on his face, punctuating his words. “I’m sorry. I know you won’t let me say it later. I’m sorry, Spike. I love you. Please wake up.” He rested his cheek against Spike’s, waiting for a response. He was met with silence. One more kiss and Xander was struggling. As he felt the familiar burn behind his eyes, he quickly stood and shut the door, climbing in behind the wheel. No more indulgence in guilt, get Spike some help.
After several deep breaths and a quick glance into the backseat, Xander was again calm enough to start the car and pull away. No question about who to seek help from. He would love to have been able to go to his friends with this, but Spike was too important to risk; he would not chance his future on Buffy’s whims. The only people he could trust, that he knew for certain would be there for them both were those he had know the least amount of time. Tom and Rose were his safest option.
Not far to go, yet much too far. Xander readjusted the mirror wanting to be able to see Spike at a glance; panicking when the backseat appeared empty, swerving onto the shoulder as he twisted violently, fully expecting to see a pile of dust. He cursed his stupidity when he realised his mistake. All the way to the pub he kept up a desperate monologue; he apologised to Spike until he was sure his vampire would wake up, climb over the seat and throttle him. He talked of his love for Spike and fruitlessly hoped his vampire would wake up, climb over the seat and kiss him. The silence and stillness from the back tore at him.
Nowhere to park at the front of the Bear and Lion, but a U-turn secured Xander a space directly opposite. He threw open the back door and manoeuvred Spike out. Hefting him into his arms, Xander ran across the street and backed in through the doorway. “Tom!” he shouted.
At the urgent sound Tom immediately came out from behind the bar and seeing Xander cradling a limp Spike, shoved the kitchen door open and called through to his wife. “Heads up Rosie, clear the table.” He ushered Xander through, holding the door. “What the bleedin’ hell has happened to him now?”
“Fewoi demon,” Xander panted, trying to get Spike through the doorway. “I didn’t know what to do.”
“What? Has the silly bastard got a target on his arse or somethin’?”
“No, that would be me.” Xander laid him on the table. “Rose, please, he won’t wake up.”
“Ok, let me see.” Rose came to Spike’s side and cast an experienced eye over him. Again she had Xander help peel the duster off and ran her hands over Spike’s arms, lifting his shirt and rolling him a little to examine his back. She didn’t push Xander out of the way, just gently moved him when he hovered too close for her to see.
Xander was horrified and sickened to see the burns on Spike’s hands and arms, more so to see the jagged lines burnt into his chest and back. The energy from the demon had left a charred path over Spike’s body and Xander could only assume the parts still concealed by his clothes would be the same. Too concerned with getting Spike to help, he hadn’t noticed the damage earlier and hoped it was no worse for his rescue efforts.
Rose saw the alarm on Xander’s face, heard his faltering breaths and stopped her examination to hug him. “Oh chooky, settle down now. These are nothing. They’re only surface burns, not deep at all and they’ll be gone in no time.” She held him and rubbed soothing circles over his back. “He’s been on regular human blood hasn’t he?” At Xander’s nod she let him go. “Then don’t worry about these, we can put something on them, but William will heal quite well by himself I dare say.”
“He’s not waking up. If it’s nothing then why?”
“Fewoi, you say?” Rose asked. “What happened Xander.”
He explained as best he could, swallowing down the lump in his throat as he told how Spike attacked the demon before it could claim him. “If I hadn’t been so stupid and forgotten my weapon this wouldn’t have happened.”
“No you idiot it wouldn’t have.” Tom laid a hand on his shoulder and spoke firmly but not without kindness. “If you’d taken a weapon then likely Spike would be chargin’ in here with your dead carcass in his hands or would be stakin’ himself over you havin’ been claimed by another demon.” Tom shook his head. “You think you would be able to take on a Fewoi and survive, you great twit?”
“Thomas that’s enough now,” Rose chided him. “We’ll be alright here, how about you take yourself back out to the bar and mind your clientele.”
The door from the bar squeaked open and Tom frowned as Bilarl stuck his head in. “Better have a bloody good excuse for bein’ behind my bar there Billy.”
Bilarl nodded nervously. “Yeah Tom, um, Xander’s car. I, um, its, well, the doors are still open and I was going to lock it all up for him, if, um, he wants.” Bilarl’s eyes widened as he saw Spike on the table. “Is his master okay?”
Tom stuck a hand in Xander’s coat pocket and pulled the keys out, tossing then to the young demon. “Never you mind about his master. Go lock that car up there’s a good boy.”
Bilarl backed out with a brief glance at Xander. Seeing Xander’s apprehension, Tom patted his back. “Don’t you worry, Spike’s put the wind up that boy so many times now, Billy’s too scared of him to give you any trouble. He’ll just worship you from a distance. Now you stay here with our Rosie and get this one seen to okay?”
Xander nodded and turned back to Spike. He was so still, so quiet. Xander leaned over the table and pressed his lips to Spike’s forehead and whispered. “Come on Bleachie, Rose says this is nothing. Wake up now.”
Xander felt Rose’s hand on his shoulder. “Xander the burns are nothing. But if he’s been in contact with a Fewoi for that long then that’s the least of our concerns.” She pulled out a chair for him. “Come and sit down, chooky.”
Xander moved the chair next to Spike and sat, taking Spike’s hand in both of his and gently stroking over the cold fingers, feeling his heart sinking with every touch. Burns. Burns everywhere, some charred, some red and blistered, but there was something worse. Sit-down worse. He refused to meet Rose’s eyes, just focused on Spike hand.
“Xander, William has absorbed a huge charge from that demon. It would have killed anyone else. But he is still with us. He hasn’t dusted remember?” She smiled softly at him. “The injuries on the outside are minor, I know they look bad but they aren’t. I think there’s more on the inside though and those will need longer to heal.”
Xander dropped his head down onto Spike’s hand. “How long?”
“I’m sorry chooky, I don’t know.” She smoothed her hand over his hair. “I can’t help him this time. I can treat the burns, help them heal faster, but the rest he’ll have to do himself.”
“Why can’t you help him Rose? This is what you do isn’t it? What if he doesn’t wake up?” Xander hated the desperate tone in his voice but was powerless to change it.
Rose was full of sympathy for him, but unapologetic about her options. “You want me to cut him open and look? That’s what I can do Xander. And when I do my advice to you will still be the same. The charge will have damaged him internally, he needs time to heal. That’s why he isn’t waking. But Xander, he will heal.”
Xander turned his head and looked at her through damp lashes. “What do I do?”
“You wait Xander. You take him home and wait.” She stood and kissed his cheek. “I’ll give you something to rub on his skin, it’s not really necessary but it won’t hurt and I’m sure you’ll feel better doing something.”
“Blood? What about blood? Do we do that with the tube again? I need to do something. How do I just wait?”
“If he has been feeding as you say, then we are not going to need to poke him with tubes. He can recover from this on his own. And you will wait. You will make sure he is comfortable, you will protect him and watch over him and you will not sit there blaming yourself for this.”
Xander turned Spike’s hand over and pressed the palm to his face. He was getting tired of this feeling. Of being in Rose’s kitchen, trying to patch Spike up after another round of injuries that could be directly linked back to him. Tired of people trying to make him believe he was not the cause when anyone should be able to see otherwise.
“Xander, you know every time you do that you take something away from William.” She met Xander’s enquiring gaze with a no-nonsense stare. “You blaming yourself for William’s actions, makes him less. You are telling him that he acts only because of you. That you are making his choices, his decisions and he is not in control of his own actions. Is that what you want him to think?”
“No! No, I-.”
“You may have demons after you. From what you boys told me, that’s a fact. But that is not your doing. It was done to you. If a demon attacks you it is not your fault. If William chooses to defend you from that demon it is not your fault. That is William showing you his strength, his love, his desire to keep you safe. You could even say it is William being selfish and looking after his own interests.”
“But this wouldn’t keep happening if I wasn’t spelled. These things happen because of me.”
“You do him an injustice Xander. You belittle him, his demon, his intentions. You take responsibility for that which you can’t control.”
Xander sat up and met Rose’s eyes, unsure of whether to be angry or hurt at her words. “You don’t pull any punches.”
She smiled “It’s not my way chooky.” Rose took his hand and fixed him with a stare that demanded his honesty. “How did William react when you thanked him for his interventions? When you told him how proud you were of his strength? When you praised him for his unswerving devotion to you, to your wellbeing and to your relationship?”
“I-, I haven’t-, I never-.” Xander felt like he had been slammed in the chest. “Oh, fuck.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Sorry Rose,” he apologised automatically. “I’ve never said those things. Why did I never say that?”
Rose shrugged. “Don’t ask me. Just fix it. If you love him, tell him. If you’re proud of him, tell him. If he goes into battle for you, then, well, just love him that much more. He’s a master Xander. Treat him that way. Especially if you’re going to be a consort.”
“I have to be subservient?”
“No of course not, he wouldn’t want that. But respect what you have. A master vampire who loves you and is willing to fight for you. Acknowledge the loyalty and commitment that speaks of instead of taking blame for it.”
“I screwed up.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake Xander, its been two weeks. You haven’t messed up, you’re both still learning each other. Take your vampire home, look after him.”
Rose left him there and moved off to her medical supplies, mixing ingredients together in a jar. Xander looked Spike over. Master vampire. His master vampire. Rose was right. He should be proud, he was proud. Twenty plus years of self esteem issues was not going to be an easy fix, it was hard to see past taking the blame and accept things at face value, but that’s what he needed to do now. Try to move past the guilt, maybe just ignore the guilt, feel more of the pride and love.
He let Spike’s hand go and turned to Rose, scooping her into a heartfelt embrace. “Thanks Rose.”
“You’re welcome chooky.” She pushed him away with a smile. “Now get this thing off my table and go home. If he’s not dust by now, he’ll be fine.”
Rose handed him a jar of a thick white cream and instructions for its use. Stuffing it into a pocket, he lifted Spike from the table, taking care to avoid the worst of the burns and waited while Rose draped Spike’s duster over his shoulder and opened the door. Out in the pub, Bilarl jumped to his feet and went ahead to open the main door.
“I have your keys Xander. I’ll open the car for you.” Bilarl waited till Xander was outside then ran across the road, beeping the locks and holding open the back door. “Is your master going to be okay?”
“Yeah Bill, he’ll be fine, just having a rest is all.” Xander laid him across the seat, kissed his forehead and turned to thank Bilarl. “My car probably wouldn’t be here anymore if you hadn’t taken care of it. I appreciate that Bill.” Xander held his hand out to shake, but Bilarl backed off with another wide eyed look.
“Oh, no. That’s okay Xander. Not touching the-.” Bilarl frowned and stepped a little closer to Xander, concentrating. “Consort? No, not quite a consort, but geez Xander that, that, um, vibe off you, that would be enough to fool more than a few demons.” He sighed with envy. “Consort. Wow.”
Xander had to agree. “Yeah, wow.” The edge taken off his panic and worry over Spike, Xander took a moment to appreciate his position. Just a minute though and the he was desperate as ever to get Spike home and safe and begin waiting.
“Thanks again Bill, but we need to get gone.” Xander climbed in and waved to a besotted demon who still stood in the middle of the road as he drove off.
He managed to get Spike upstairs, again draping him over his shoulder to get inside the apartment, another monologue accompanying him.
“Okay Bleachie, we’re home. Gonna put you into the bed and wait. That’s what Rose says, we wait.”
In the bedroom Xander laid Spike down on the bed and removed his clothes and boots, making sure the beloved coat was hung properly in the closet. Xander noted the bulging pockets, but wasn’t about to go rifling. He collected towels and a bowl and gently washed Spike down, taking care around the burns. Setting Spike down in the arm chair, he quickly changed the sheets, stripped his own clothes off then arranged Spike as comfortably as he could in the bed.
Grabbing his coat, Xander found the jar of cream from Rose. He recalled her instruction- whenever you feel the need, just massage it in. Xander smiled to himself. He was pretty sure that this was completely unnecessary but Rose had humoured him, recognising both his need to feel useful and his need to be in contact with Spike.
“Spike I hope this won’t hurt you, I’m sure Rose wouldn’t tell me to do it if it did.” He leaned down and placed a soft kiss on Spike’s lips. “I love you, please wake up soon.”
He sat back on his heels, a pained expression on his face as he saw the lines of burns crisscrossing Spike’s entire body. Where to start? They were everywhere. Feet. Might as well start at the bottom and work up. Xander dipped his fingers into the cool and slick cream; it reminded him of the paste they’d used for his injuries before, but this one was a much milder scent, more spicy than herbal. It reminded him of Spike’s own smell.
Rubbing his hands together he softly stroked over Spike’s feet and up his calves, the oily cream spreading easily. His hands glided over the skin, feeling the hard muscles beneath. Working the cream gently into Spike’s skin, he could tell that the burns were already healing, the lines fading. The worst would still be there for a while yet though. Xander was heartened by this. If the outside was healing at Spike’s normal rate then he had every reason to assume the inside was too.
Xander continued with the cream talking softly to Spike. He spoke of nothing consequential, just memories, thoughts, ideas, hopes. He covered every inch of Spike’s skin, his touch light, cautious. Spike’s body shone from the oil in the lotion and Xander smiled at the picture it made. Despite the injuries his vampire was still breathtaking. Rose was right; Spike deserved more than Xander had been giving him. As he worked, he calmed, appreciating how Rose had recognised what this simple task would do for him.
He worked the cream into Spike’s hands, lingering over the long slender fingers. The burns were worse here for having held the axe handle, but even these Xander could see were beginning to heal over. Job done, some anxiety still there but much less, Xander covered Spike, switched on the blanket that he loved and took himself to the shower.
Towel around his waist, one rubbing through his damp hair, Xander wandered out to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water before getting into bed with Spike. In the darkness, a flashing light caught his eye. The answering machine indicated an enormous number of messages. Xander played the first.
“Xander its Willow, please-.” Delete, next.
“Please, Xan, call us as soon-.” Willow again. Delete.
“Xander, we’re worried-.” Buffy. Delete.
Xander hit the button and deleted all the remaining messages.
He took a bottle of water from the refrigerator, went back to the bedroom, dropped his towels and climbed into bed. Sliding over to Spike’s side, he laid a hand on his cheek, turned his head and kissed him. “I love you, wake up soon.” He curled into Spike’s side, his face pressed against the cool neck and slept.