Title: Family Bonds
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, no Season 6 Spuffy.
Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss and Co. Damn them. And bless them.
Other chapters are here
Routine. Xander loved it, and it loved him. Especially the routine of work, which was everything he needed to help him deal with the bizarre life he’d found himself a part of. He gotten back into his routine with a night at the Bronze with his lover and his friends. A near-regular night out and much better than his previous few Saturdays. That was the way a Saturday night should go; no sitting around nursing a wounded vampire, breaking down over extreme life changing discoveries or impatiently waiting out comas. A beer, some crazy, flailing pseudo-dancing that made his beloved vampire roll his eyes and shake his head more than once and a few rounds of pool that made his blushing friends look the other way when they realised that, for Xander and Spike, it could also double as foreplay.
A great night out followed by an even better night, day and another night in and Spike had discovered the answer to his question at the cemetery. A day and a half. Xander’s consorty powers of rejuvenation would hold out for roughly a day and a half before Spike had fucked him enough to shut him up. Monday afternoon saw an arrangement whereby Spike went out to catch up on some work for the Zeeum and Xander stayed in putting the apartment back in order and tending to the more mundane aspects of his new life, cleaning, laundry and restocking the kitchen. This would mean that Monday night and Tuesday were free to spend together as Xander prepared to return to work on the Wednesday.
Monday evening Spike returned, bursting at the seams with energy and bulging at the pockets with cash, after a successful day of tracking down the Zeeum’s defaulters. Xander managed to pin him down long enough to present him with gift wrapped box that Spike was bemused to find held a brand new cell phone. His eyebrow got a good workout when Xander called from his own cell, triggering the personalised tone he’d set up just for his incoming calls. Wild thing… I think I love you… But I want to know for sure…Come on and hold me tight…I love you.
“Harris you sappy git, the other demons will kick my arse well good when they hear that.”
“Yeah, maybe, but you’ll just have fun kicking them right back won’t you?”
“True, love.” He dangled the phone between two fingers as though it may bite him. “And why do I need one of these things?”
“It’s for when I go back to work. In case I miss you too much and I can’t wait till I get home to talk to you and you’re out somewhere.”
“Sap,” Spike snorted, but was pleased.
Tuesday morning, another of Rose’s jars of lotion lay empty on the floor. It had been almost enough to silence Xander but not his stomach, and come Tuesday night, he still had breath enough to request a meal from the Lion.
“Too much effort to forage in the fridge Bleachie, dress me and take me to Rose. Stat.”
“Not my bloody job. Dress yourself you lazy bugger. Now if it was undress, then I’m your vamp.”
“I’m counting on it when we get back. If this is a good date I put out remember?”
Spike remembered and at the pub, plied him with chunks of roast meat and a slab of chocolate cake. Xander put out. It was a given.
Wednesday morning Xander struggled to get out of bed. While he was very much looking forward to returning to work, he was really not looking forward to spending his day without Spike.
“Stop that, I really need to-. Oh, do that again.” Xander linked his arms behind Spike’s shoulders and arched his throat, presenting the long stretch of skin to Spike.
Spike pinched a fold of skin between his teeth, sucking it into his mouth and flicking his tongue over it. “That?”
“Yeah, that’s the-. No! Damn you and your evil lips. Let me up.” Xander tried to pull his legs free and climb out but Spike held him fast.
“Are you sure mate?”
“I’ve spent three weeks away from work and nearly every minute of it with you, so no, I am so far from sure I can’t even see sure with a pair of binoculars and my consorty powers of super sight. That’s why you have to let me go now. If I stop and think about it too much longer, I’ll never get to work.”
“And we don’t want that to happen because?” Spike asked, returning to that spot on Xander’s neck that usually made him squeak.
“Work means money. Money means- oh stop that- money means the evil, yet incredibly sexy vampire has a warm bed, hot running water and many, many channels including the one with the weird British stuff.”
Spike sighed and rolled off him. When Xander climbed out of the bed, Spike immediately rolled back into the warm spot and buried his head in the pillow, pulling the covers over his head.
Xander wrinkled his nose, the air in the bedroom was stale and smelled of sweat and sex. On the way to the bathroom, he opened the window a crack reminding himself to close it again before he left and the sun came around to this side of the building. Last thing he wanted was to come home to a pile of ash in his bed.
As Xander stood under the spray wondering if he had time to get back into bed for just a minute, a cool breeze swirled around his legs as the shower door slid open. Spike stepped in and took Xander in his arms, kissing him without a word. Xander was glad he’d set the alarm early just in case and thanked his powers of prediction- nothing to do with being a consort, just having spent nearly four weeks with Spike he knew what to expect, from both of them. He was doubly glad when Spike dropped to his knees and took Xander’s hard length in his mouth, giving him a farewell that he would be happily reflecting on for most of the day.
It didn’t take long to establish a routine that suited both of them; as much as any kind of routine could suit a vampire. Xander went to work and called Spike during his lunch break, catching him either sleeping, watching soaps or shaking the cash out of the more unprincipled demons and the odd human. With his regular cash from the Zeeum and payments from Giles for services rendered, Spike was able pay the rent some weeks, Xander having relented and accepted Spike’s contributions so long as it wasn’t stolen money he found after killing something. Spike didn’t point out that he pooled all his money so there was no way to tell where the notes actually originated. He was pretty sure Xander knew how it worked anyway, but just wanted to make a point. Humans.
After work they would meet at the Bear and Lion where Rose would feed Xander and sometimes Spike. Once or twice a week Spike would drop in via the tunnels to help Tom out shifting crates, or would pull his ‘door-bitch’ act and clear the pub of overintoxicated troublemakers. Not exactly a job, but in return Tom and Rose were happy to keep Xander well fed, ‘seeing as that lazy William won’t lift a finger to ensure his consort is healthy.’
Patrols with Giles and the girls usually filled several nights and Xander was pleased to be back into that again, without the issues of the recent past. Sure Buffy and Spike were at each other just as much, if not more than usual, now that there was the added bonus of Spike knowing that Buffy couldn’t stake him and Buffy pointing out that a stake didn’t necessarily have to go through the heart. But the edge began to dull on that after a few outings and their insults were mainly confined to criticism of the other’s fighting technique and general appearance. Xander would ignore it until it almost came to blows, then either he or Willow would step in and separate slayer and vampire ensuring they all lived to irritate each other another day.
The girls seemed to have taken on board the fact that both Xander and Spike were less than pleased with their constant questioning of the relationship, and despite a few sly peeks at Xander’s neck and arms and less than sly peeks in Xander’s fridge for blood bags, they left well enough alone. There was the odd occasion where Xander and Spike arrived at the Magic Box and had to help rework a plan that involved putting Spike on the line as though he were expendable. Those times were met with awkward apologies for both Xander and Spike and a compromise that ensured all their safety. Xander could see everyone making an effort to include Spike in normal conversation and had to applaud their continuing attempts even in the face of Spike’s sometimes passive aggressive responses. You could take the chip out of the vampire but not the snark apparently. Not that he would, that spark of the mean streak that Spike sometimes tried to rein in and the possessiveness that he did not, was a part of his vampire’s character that Xander loved just as much as he did the tender, clingy and affectionate parts that only he saw at home.
When they weren’t patrolling, Spike and Xander were often in the nearby park practising with various weapons and trying to force some finesse into Xander to go along with his consorty powers of nimbleness, or ‘just plain fucking speed and strength’ as Spike called it. Xander learned quickly, but in the heat of a real fight, often forgot the finer points of the techniques and earned himself a good talking to on the way home. Not that he minded. Spike was often so worked up after watching Xander fighting that they barely made it up the stairs with clothes intact. Spike had met most of the neighbours while on the stairs; most of the neighbours steered clear of him. He was content with that.
After a few days back at work, Xander had done a deal with Nathan so that he was able to spend one or two days of his week out on the site in a more hands on role with the other guys. He relished getting out in the sun, working with the tools and raw materials and on those days he knew they wouldn’t go to the Lion for dinner and Spike would be at the door of their apartment waiting to pounce on a dirty, sweaty, very happy Xander. Vampires were all about the senses, Spike had explained. Xander looked a treat, shining with sweat and streaked with sawdust. He smelled like a man- musky and sour but woodsy- and he tasted like all kinds of heaven. Xander loved how Spike stuck to his own version of routine and had him stripped naked within seconds and flat on his back moaning on either the table, floor, couch or bed. It was then off to the bathtub where Spike spent a relaxing hour washing away the day to uncover the clean, tanned flesh beneath. Xander’s need for junk food was sated with a phone call for a delivery and the remainder of the evening was spent in front of the television, squashed together on one couch arguing over what to watch. It rarely mattered what channel they chose as it was usually just background noise to their own pants and grunts anyway.
Blessed routine. In a manner of speaking. Still they were thrown for a loop every now and then, when a demon on patrol got in a lucky hit and one or the other took a hard blow. If it was Xander, then no one could get close without getting themselves a snarl and flash of golden eyes from Spike. If on the other hand, Spike had gone down, then nobody wanted to get close enough to see what happened, as Xander rushed to his side, pressing his forearm to Spike’s mouth, having discovered to their mutual surprise, that consort’s blood worked to heal Spike faster than any number of bags could. It took a while for the others to realise that when Xander was hurt, he too was taking Spike’s blood to speed up the recovery. It had gone unnoticed until Anya decided to brave the fangs and push her way to Xander’s side as he lay on the ground nursing an addled brain. Spike made it clear to all present that it was not open for discussion and that was that.
It did however lead to a discussion, much to Xander’s dismay and Spike’s resentment. Buffy brought up the possibility that Spike might accidentally turn Xander by doing that. Spike thought he had been very tactful and patient in explaining why the slayer should pull her head out of her sagging arse and crack open a book every now and then. He found that apparently he hadn’t been at all tactful when Xander cuffed him and Giles again explained the rather obvious need for Xander to be drained before taking Spike’s blood.
All well and good that it wouldn’t happen accidentally, Buffy had opined, but what about if chipfree Spike decides to turn him on purpose? Xander, while upset with Buffy for raising the issue had belatedly realised that in the now eight weeks they’d been together, it was something that had never come up between them. He waited while Spike’s eyes returned to blue and the vampire calmed himself before speaking to the group.
“You bloody people never cease to amaze me you know? The number of things that you think are your business and you have no qualms in raising.” Spike shook his head. “I notice you don’t do it with each other, just me and my boy here. Strange that.”
Most of them had the grace to look embarrassed as they realised the truth in his words. Except Simon the Stockbroker. Simon was now a regular fixture at Scooby meetings and some patrols; he fit in comfortably with the group, calmly accepting the generally unacceptable and never questioned any of it.
Spike shook his head at them and continued. “But as you’re doing it because you’re worried about Harris, I’ll let this one go. I’m not turning him. Never turning him. No doubt he’d make a bloody exceptional vampire, but it just wouldn’t be him, it would be some demon and I don’t want to spend my days without the original, pain in the arse consort that I fell in love with and have right now.”
As completely true as it was, Spike had mentally calculated how many points it had scored him with the consort and he was more than satisfied to be dragged home and shagged senseless, finding his count had been way too low.
One night that week over a rare dinner at home, Xander pointed out that they’d been together two months. After much eye rolling and protesting at how he was too old to be celebrating tiny anniversaries like a love sick school girl, he’d bitten the bullet and spent some of his earnings on a silver identity bracelet for Xander. The chunky chain was broken by a silver plate with the letters ‘S’ and ‘X’ woven together and engraved in the centre. Again, Spike had sorely underestimated the points that little move had scored.
Things had gone smoothly in that two months, aside from the odd injuries, the increasingly rare arguments over something trivial and the occasional ‘butt out of it’ almost-fight with the girls. Xander felt like he was balancing both sides of his life with ease. He loved the work and time with the guys on the site; he lived for the hours at home and on patrol with his vampire. He absolutely did not think for too long about how well things were going. This being the Hellmouth that was just an invitation to disaster.
A couple of times over the last few weeks he’d seen the guy with the long coat and baseball cap who he’d first noticed at the Bear and Lion. A nobody, Tom had said. The next time was when a few of the guys had gone out for quick drink at nearest bar after work to celebrate a fiftieth birthday. Xander had been enjoying a beer and a laugh and had almost missed the man leaving through the front doors. It took a moment to register and for the feeling of familiarity to sink in again, but by then the man was long gone and Xander put it out of his mind. The third time, he was on his way home from a Scooby meeting, with Spike driving, and Xander saw him walking into a bar. There was nowhere to stop and Spike wasn’t about to let him jump out, so Xander let it go. Could be anyone, so many guys had come and gone from the site over the time he’d been working there, it was probably just a old co-worker.
The day after Spike had given Xander the bracelet was outdoors day. The day when Xander came home stinky, dirty and tired and Spike loved it. This week it had been a Friday, a few guys were off with the flu and Xander was more than happy to help fill in. This was a new site, the last contract had finished and now the company had moved on and there was plenty of woodworking to be done in getting together the foundations of the new building.
Xander had been anticipating his welcome and was already hard when he threw open the front door, fully expecting the assault as soon as he stepped inside. He wasn’t disappointed. Several times in fact; once on the floor just inside the door, and again he wasn’t disappointed when he tried to make a break for the bathroom and only made it as far as the dining chairs.
Now, propped up against Spike on the couch, warm and clean from a long hot bath, full of greasy but delicious pizza, Xander was looking forward to a quiet night of relaxing. Quiet nights usually didn’t begin with the words that made his stomach lurch like these ones did though.
“Angelus phoned today.” Spike said casually.
“Angelus or Angel?” Xander clarified.
Spike sighed. “The poof, not the psycho.”
“What did Grandpappy want?”
“Just checking in. Wanted to know how the new branch of the family tree was holding up.”
“Not especially interested love?” Spike asked.
“Not a great deal. Sorry.” Xander ran his fingers through Spike hair. “I’m kinda trying to keep him out of my head.”
“That’s okay. I don’t much like him in mine either.” Spike adjusted himself so he could see Xander’s face. “It got me thinking though love.”
“Yeah? You okay or do you need some blood? An aspirin? Wanna lie down for a bit to get over it?”
“Smart arse.” Spike kissed him and got distracted for a good long while.
Xander eventually pulled away and smiled as Spike immediately went for his neck. “So, Bleachie, you were thinking?”
Spike licked and sucked at Xander’s skin and took a moment to register his words. “Oh right, yeah. Bloody hell you taste good.”
“Thoughts Spike?” Xander prompted again.
Spike sighed and propped himself up on Xander’s chest. “Thoughts love. Family thoughts. Mine, yours. Mainly yours.”
Xander’s eyes narrowed. “What have they done now? Did Buffy say something stupid again?”
“No love, not that family. I mean your folks. You’ve not spoken to them about anything to do with us. I wondered if you’ve ever thought you might want to give them a call and tell them how things are.”
Xander took a moment to answer. This was so out of the blue and completely unexpected, he wasn’t sure exactly how to feel about it. “Spike I have spoken to my mom. I call her every now and then from work.”
“So she knows about us? She have any idea about your life now?”
“Well, no. Not exactly. Or at all. What am I meant to say? Hey Mom, I’m gay, in love with a vampire, oh and by the way, I’m immortal?”
“Not in so many words love, but you don’t want to fill her in a bit? She’s your mum after all.”
Xander snorted. “When she remembers. We aren’t exactly the most functional family.”
“Like I said love. It was just a thought. Your choice isn’t it?”
Xander stared at him for a long while. Nope, no agenda there, just a stray thought that Spike was chasing. “Yeah it is. I’ll think about it okay?”
“Do that love.”
Xander slid down on the couch and turned so he and Spike were pressed together, chest to thigh. “Meantime Bleachie, it’s Friday night. There’s no patrol, no work tomorrow, I’m chock full of pizza energy and I was hoping you were planning on keeping me up all night.”
“Were you now love?”
Xander’s hands slid down inside Spike’s borrowed sweat pants and in no time at all, convinced that him that yes, that had been the plan all along.
Thoughts of grand announcements to almost-estranged family members went clear out of their minds.