rngrdead (rngrdead) wrote in bloodclaim,

Title: Ghost in the Machine

Author: josie_h

Pairing: Xander/Spike
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes later on - ie M/M
Summary: Post Black Thorn and final AtS - The PtBs screw with Spike yet again.
Spoilers: Canon is Post S7 BtVS and S5 AtS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Author’s Note: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators
Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
Previous parts here

With thanks to the lovely petxnd for the wonderful banner

Part 8

Xander instinctively looked around the room as though to check noone was looking then opened the folder he had very obviously labeled ‘My Pictures/Rec Reading” and was genuinely surprised by the contents. Photos of beautiful males in various states of undress, mostly slim blondes, with well buffed bodies and pretty features. Some were definitely *not* ‘worksafe’ but the image that caught his attention was a slim pale hand dangling a set of hand cuffs over a well toned, reclining male torso, obviously an invitation, or in anticipation, he wasn’t sure. The face was obscured but Xander found himself semi hard and imagining a certain vampire dangling said item.

He was in the process of trying to feel mildly annoyed, when the computer pinged indicating a new message making him jump slightly.

“See ya found me pressie.”

Xander quickly closed the image and returned to the conversation.

“Hey Spike and Gahhh! Privacy an issue.”

“Well given that I’m stuck pokin’ around your dirty laundry for a day and some while you lot ‘re out havin’ a fine ol’ time…”

Xander adjusted awkwardly in his seat and quickly shifted from mildly annoyed/aroused to apologetic, “Yeah about that. Look sorry OK? Willow and I just couldn’t get away.”

“So how was it?”

Xander felt on the back foot again, “What? The pictures?”

“No you git, the celebrations, but if the pics gave you jollies, I’m happy to listen t’ the cliff notes.”

“No! and as if I’d… Anyway… Celebrations… all good, and I caught up with Dawn yesterday.”

“The Bit was here? Thought she was studyin’ language in Italy somewhere?”

“Well she was/is but is also a wiccan now and according to Willow is really getting good.”

“She’d be quite the woman now I’d imagine. Got a bloke in ‘er life did she say?”

“No, well I don’t think so. We really didn’t talk about it much.”

“She happy?”

“I would say that’s a big yes.”

“Hmm…Good. Deserves a lot of that.”

There was a pause as Xander rifled around the desk for a photo Dawn had given him of her Buffy and the Immortal decked out in ski gear, standing in front of a pretty chalet the previous winter. He held it up to the camera.

“Oh Bloody hell ruin a man’s day would ya! Be a pet ‘n stick your thumb over that squeeze o’ Buffy’s would you?!”

“You ‘n he not pals then? Thought Buffy said something about you and Angel knowing him at some point?”

“Knowin’ an’ likin’ two different issues mate. ‘N bad blood runs deep with us vampires.”

“Point taken. If it makes you feel any better I’ve never met the guy. Dawn thinks he’s a bit of a hunk but too stuck up for her liking, whatever that means.”

“Just means she’s learned some good taste and sensibilities along the way. All credit to you and the other Scoobies I reckon – and a little smatterin’ o’ advice from yours truly on occasion.”

Xander read the words but also remembered the fierce loyalty, friendship and protection shown by Spike toward Dawn pre and post his ensouling, and simply added, “Yeah, and some lessons just don’t get forgotten, nor do the teachers. You were a true friend and protector Spike. I know you’re not forgotten, especially not by Dawn – or any of us obviously..”

There was a pause in the typing from Spike’s end then a simple, “Cheers mate. Feelin’s mutual.”

There was another pause so Xander took long draft from his beer.

“What I wouldn’t do for a swig o’ the ol’ amber fluid or anythin’ for that matter.”

Xander quickly replaced the bottle to the table, careful to put it out of the sightline of the camera, “Geex Spike, sorry.”

“Don’t sweat it mate, not like it’s gonna happen anytime soon. Just another thing I miss innit.”

Xander glanced toward the door then wall clock. Willow should be in at around nine following dinner, there was at least a couple of hours to wait and he had intended making a quick snack and watching television, but with Spike online it hardly seemed fair.

“Yeah but I didn’t mean to, you know…”

“Tell ya what. Go eat drink ‘n be merry. I’ll still be here when you’re done.”

“OK. Tell you what, I’ll point the camera into the room and put some more lights on, at least then you can see what’s going on. Promise I won’t be long.”

“’ppreciated pet.”

Spike watched as Xander retrieved the beer, drained it quickly then busied himself at the small kitchenette. A frozen instant meal of some sort of casserole and rice was heated, bread and cheese cut, and another beer opened. The man then flicked on the television showing, what was obviously, the evening news, and settled on the couch to eat.

Spike felt strangely happy just to be there. The scene was reminiscent of his time in the notorious ‘comfy chair’ when they shared the boy’s basement, though he was happy to see Xander’s diet had vastly improved. With the extra light in the room he was also able to observe the shelf of finished carvings, the door to what was obviously the boy’s bedroom and the evidence of a busy, single lifestyle.

Photos on the wall were of a variety of people from the past and a few of Africa, or to be more specific Ghana. The latter Spike knew from the log of old Emails in the Inbox, and various photos in the collection in ‘My Pictures’ on Xander’s computer. The boy had a past, and it was no longer a past that included exclusively Sunnydale, but he was the quintessential ‘white hat’ of that there was no doubt.

What bothered Spike more was the subtle undercurrent of sadness in Emails to Willow as one or other relationship failed when Xander had returned to the USA, and the final decision to move to England, apparently an effort to do ‘a geographical’ and find peace in a place that could accept both his Sunnydale history and his personal need to be ‘grounded’ in some fashion.

Spike had previously noted the rave reviews of Xander’s furniture and sculpture making in more recent times, something he felt just a little pride for the man about. He had also almost resolved to tell Harris that Simon was a twonk for leaving him and that Damien was just plain out of his league in the first place, but notice Xander heading for the computer again, so waited for the input.

“I’m just going for a shower if that’s OK Spike. Mr Tired and a bit Stinky Guy here, not that that will worry you I guess, but if I’m going to be up for the meeting with Illyria then I need… anyway, won’t be long, promise.”

“No problem. Be here when you get back, shirt or no shirt ;-p”

Spike saw Xander roll his good eye then give an almost wicked grin, “And so not gonna happen mister! Back soon.”

Xander turned the camera a little and switched on a spotlight to focus on the far wall of completed sculptures and various other pieces of art he had acquired from friends at various art shows. Amongst the display was also a set of framed Sunnydale photos. Some were of Anya, others were the younger Scoobies, shots of the potentials and one of the magic box, with all the usual crew and Spike’s image somewhat obscured in the background.

He stared at it for a moment, saw the steam coming from the bedroom door signaling that showering was in progress and found himself yearning the sensation of hot water pounding over head and back. He wondered idly if the boy jacked off in the shower, and pondered just who might be the image/person that helped the procedure along.

With no sight or sound, or smell for that matter, Spike was left to only imagine hopefully what might have happened, before turning back to the computer he currently inhabited.

He found a variety of files, some from the community college where Xander did some woodwork teaching; some relating to showing and selling his creative work, older files that included a couple of references from employers, yearly tax returns, a saved folder of letters, photos from his time in Ghana; and another containing legal documents such as visa applications, letters of recommendation from the coven and a couple following up the Sunnydale incident indicating that Xander was the sole recipient of the disaster relief fund amount apportioned to his parents and their home.

Spike came back to room-awareness when a wet haired Xander came into view and typed, “Back again, sorry I took so long.”

“Every man needs ‘is ‘private’ time, an’ don’t worry… Virtual Big Bad ‘member? C’n see, hear or smell bugger all – your virtue’s in tact. Still you could give me the cliff notes’ if you like”

“And again with the *so* not going to happen! Anyway figure you’ve been snooping around my computer while I was out… and hello Mr State-the-obvious here. So? Care to embarrass the very single and yes gay guy with the how pathetic statements?”

There was a distinct pause before the next message and Xander found himself bracing for yet another round of either insults or lewd comments. Instead, “Aught wrong with either mate. Batted for the other team meself on occasion, an’ as for single, better that than partnered without love in the mix.”

Xander found himself feeling a little guilty for all the times he had hated the vampire for the relationship with Buffy, not that he necessarily agreed with the bathroom attack, he understood it better after learning some hard home truths from both Buffy and life experiences. Plus he had seen him uber-protective of Dawn, loyal to the Scoobies and then ensouled, fighting alongside them in their final Sunnydale year. Xander also understood what it meant to bear the enormous hurt of broken partnerships, something Xander now recognized Spike had endured just as he had. He took the comment for what it was, and answered in rather the same tone, as a friend.

“Oh?! on the gayness for you I mean, although a few of Giles books…”

“Spun your dial a bit did it… Pole up their arses, bloody Watchers! Bet they left out all the really good bits!”

“LOL Definitely – and no pics.”

“Just as well, wouldn’t want me dangly bits sullied for eternity by some schoolboy lithograph!”

Xander found himself throwing back in his chair with a true belly laugh as he imagined Giles taking off his glasses and polishing them thoroughly more than once as he poured over such a text. Spike watched the mirth and wished he could be in the room to enjoy the sound as well as sight.

Xander eventually calmed and typed, “So you an’ Angel?”

“Have us some carnal fun? He’s, was… me Grandsire, right o’ passage an’ whatnot to start. Later it was even fun like, when we were runnin’ together. All stopped when Bloody Darla and that soul… ‘n then twas just me an’ Dru. Had some on the side here an’ there – no love just playin’ with me food, then after the chip ‘n soul ‘n… anyway… all history now innit. No more fiddlin’ about of any sort for this… whatever I am now.”

There was another pause in the writing and Xander was just trying to formulate his thoughts when Spike started again, “Know what I miss the most?”

“About sex?”

“No you git, well that too… but I miss touch. I miss the *feel* of things, you know: Cold, hot, rough, smooth, wind, water, feel of a mattress under your body, glass to your lips, rollin’ a ciggy, the kind touch of a friend’s hand. All beyond me now. Even bein’ seen’d be a bonus… Listen when’s that witch of yours turnin’ up?”

Xander was still mulling over the previous admission but turned to look at the clock. “Any minute now. I think she was going to catch up with a few of the coven leaders again after dinner – you know, cause they’re all pretty much leaving tomorrow.”

“Red too?”

“No, Wills is here until Friday next week… ten days.”

“Oh, well at least that gives her some time if Illyria comes through with the goods.”

Xander sat for a moment then almost as a shy afterthought wrote, “Look I’ll be back to the usual tomorrow, if your not, you know… busy… I can take the laptop and webcam into the workshop and you could watch, well… me working in real time for a while. You know if that’s something different for a change. There’s Wifi all over the coven and I can just leave it streaming.”

There was another pause then, “Well so long as your precious privacy ain’t bein’ compromised.”

Xander could almost see the sense of relief on Spike’s face then the pleased look of being included, the expressions familiar and almost forgotten from their Sunnydale days.

“It’s a… well not date, but I promise OK.”

“Taa Harris, now go relax ‘til the witch gets here. I’ll amuse meself somehow. Midnight remember.”

“We’ll be here.”

With that Xander moved away from the computer, grabbed another beer and settled in front of the television to wait for Willow.


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