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Ghost in the Machine #24

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


And a huge thank you to all those who so kindly commented and read this story

Part 24

Xander was bundled into the Wolfram and Hart sponsored limousine along with Matti and The Mistress Yollanda.

The hastily composed contract was on his knees, but Xander was in no fit state to interpret the legalese, nor in any mindset to sign anything, so had ‘fobbed off’ Lilah at the last hour, claiming he needed to consider his options, given his obvious impediment.

Lilah was left dissatisfied but reassured that it was probably only a result of the man’s recent accident, and confident that their generous offer would be accepted.

The opening had been a triumph for gallery owner Brigette, and had promised favorable off spins for Adrianna’s regional gallery. Several of Xander’s more important pieces had been sold and two of Matti’s. All in all the coven was on the map as *the place* producing up and coming sculptors in the south of England.

Minutes after arriving home Xander’s residual fatigue got the better of him and he excused himself to return to his private abode.

He slept until dark and only vaguely heard the crunch of tires on the coven driveway. He heard his front door click and moments later his bedroom door slammed open.

A silhouetted male figure in a long coat stood with the light from the lounge behind him. Xander thought he was dreaming, he could swear it was Spike the vampire of the Sunnydale variety. He decided to ask, and said in quiet voice still thick and croaky with sleep. ”Spike? Tell me you didn’t get vamped again…”

Spike moved over to the bed, leaned down and gave him a kiss on the forehead and his injured arm then dove for his lips to give a ‘proper snogging’ that had Xander gasping for breath and composure, before replying, “Nahh, just improved the image Pet… nothin’ like feelin’ the part.”

Xander leaned over and flicked on the bedside lamp as Spike sat on the bed and smiled.

Clearing his throat and pushing up on the mountain of pillows that seemed to have migrated to his side of their king sized bed, Xander stared in wonder at the man he had come to cherish. “Well… you look amazing… Did everything go OK?”

“Better than Pet… But figure you’re gettin’ some beauty sleep so…”

“I’m fine… better than now that you’re home.”

“Feelin’ ‘s mutual.” Spike leaned forward and kissed him soundly before adding, “Got you a pressie.”

Spike pulled out two small packages, both elegantly wrapped by the respective shops, and placed them on the reclining man’s lap. Xander struggled a little with the wrappings of the first, his still wrapped injured hand causing problems.

It was obviously a tiny box from master jewelers Adler® with the characteristic thick shiny white paper and gold ribbon with a sticker “Mémoire du monde” fixing the parcel together. Inside was a glorious diamond and natural ruby encrusted ‘Infinity swirl’ pendant on a thick white gold chain and matching tiny ruby centered, diamond surround pair of earrings. Both sparkled brightly even in the poor light. “Goddess Spike these must have cost a fortune!”

“Nothin’ you don’t deserve Pet. Here I’ll put them on you.” Spike undid the clasp and put the piece around Xander’s neck then undid Xander’s old sleeper from his pierced right ear, slipped the back off one earring and slid the piece home, fixing it gently. “You look a treat Luv.” He placed a chaste kiss on Xander’s forehead before turning a little and revealing he had had his ear pierced while away. “T’other one’s for me after the hole heals in a week or three… we’ll match. Soppy I know but… hope you don’t mind.”

Xander stared in wonder at the tiny crystal on a surgical stud in Spike’s ear then whispered, “Ghod Spike, it looks… just right.”

Spike grinned knowingly. He was still getting used to being able to see his own reflection but had been pleased with the result at the time. Xander’s approval was just a little affirmation that his judgment of appearances was still in tact.

“Well now… this one is none too exciting, call it functional. Just hope it all fits.”

The second package was a larger, less elaborately wrapped box from Caran d'Ache®. Xander lifted the lid and inside was a black leather eye patch and a pair of men’s leather gloves. It wasn’t until Xander picked up the second that he realized the black kid leather had been modified. The right hand glove had been neatly adjusted to fit his two fingered hand. “Wow?! But this is…” He smiled up at Spike in wonder.

“All part of the service Pet. Now I know you can’t put it on just yet, but I figured once all the bandages are off you might need some dress gloves, you know, keep the digits warm, the scars comfy, an’ pryin’ eyes from the scars, yeah?”

“Oh…” Xander stared down at the gloves and at his bound injured hand. “They’re gorgeous Spike, but how…?”

Spike looked a little worried, afraid he had inadvertently offended his friend, “Hope you don’t mind Pet, just thought… Had a nice fellow at d’Ache adjust ‘em for you. Amazing what you can do if there’s money on the table. Don’t have to wear them if’n you don’t want to.”

“Of course I want to! Just… This is too much!”

“Never too much for the reigning hero of the day. And hopefully still a friend, possible lover. What c’n I say Luv… Hope you’re still that…”

“Are you kidding? Tell me you don’t doubt…”

Spike leaned down and was pulled into a warm hug followed by a firm, possessive kiss. “Don’t worry your pretty head. Here for the long haul is me – just need to hear it now ‘n then. Missed you Pet.”

Xander visibly relaxed, “Missed you too… Ghod how I missed you.”

“Well… man ‘o substance now. Can’t keep me boy waitin’.” With that Spike straddled Xander, pushed the presents out of the way and began to make up for lost time, kissing him soundly and in a way that, even in their imagined forms on the beach, Xander could not have anticipated. There was ownership, desperation, love, and something more Xander could not quite place but that sent a message to Little Xander that had him instantly hard and wanting.

Spike lifted a little and looked down then smirked a little, “Need some help with that Pet?”

“Ghod you have no idea!”

Spike obliged by scooting down the bed, swiftly taking Little Xander in his hot mouth and began to service his friend with a well educated, enthusiastic mouth. Xander arched immediately, groaned loudly and gave in to the exquisite sensation, coming in seconds.

Spike collapsed shortly after Xander, not coming himself, but satisfied by the “I love you. Thank…” from the injured man, and the relaxed sleep that followed.

The morning saw a different scenario, Xander divulging all that had occurred at the opening and days that followed and handing Spike the contract from Wolfram and Hart so hastily drawn up regards his commissioned piece.

“Bloody Hell Luv… They’re obviously up to something… And Dru deserves better than even a sculpture of herself bein’ with that lot. Although if she came back ‘n bit ‘em it could be funny!”

“I… I really had thought of that… but…? I don’t think they’ll give up somehow… Adrianna has rung twice since I got home.”

“P’raps it’s time to call in the invalid card Luv. Tell ‘em you’ve got a lot of rest and recuperatin’ to do before you’re ready to promise anything.”

“I guess… But how do I…?”

“Reckon the Mistress is just the ticket Luv. Sort of like your Mum ringin’ the school when you’re poorly.”

“My Mom never really did that… Well once.”

“There you go then. Now I don’t know about you but shut eye is all I need at the mo’.”

Xander visibly relaxed, kissed Spike then mumbled, “Yeah, shut eye all of the good.”

…………

The Mistress was more than happy making the call to Wolfram and Hart, and two days later took off for Finland and the Solstice celebrations. And Xander recovered.

His students at the community college were happy to see him back, and those new in the summer course listened intently as he gave his usual ‘safety with power tools’ lecture, convinced that his missing digits were somehow related.

And while Xander recuperated, Spike struggled with coming to terms with his new human status. He wrote and read, and made some effort to assist Xander and Matti in the workshop but was only marginally interested and took to fetching cold drinks and generally complimenting the craftsmen on their skill. The majority of his time was spent on the computer or cell phone, his financial interests apparently something he felt more than comfortable dealing with.

One rather wet and dreary weekend, he and Xander took a drive to find his family grave in Surrey, something that seemed to both comfort and upset Spike in equal measure. They visited the tiny marker for his younger sister Mavis, who had died of measles aged three; his mother’s grave that Spike knew contained nothing, not even her ashes; his father’s, who died of typhoid courtesy of the Thames from a time it was rife in London; and his own, the grave he had dug out of spitting mud to be met by Dru and Angelus on a wintery evening in 1880.

Tears had been shed and a very quiet Spike drove home that evening, Xander worried that the visit had been a mistake, but also unwilling to broach the issue with Spike who was designated driver (license courtesy of the Mistress and just a little magic) until he was ready.

The report from the Mistress upon her return from the Solstice celebrations was a positive one. Amongst other things Willow had sent her love, and the joint covens had agreed to accept Spike into their fold as an honorary member, freeing up the Mistress to offer to train him in the Gaia’s arts should he so desire. Spike was touched and two weeks later began private lessons with the Mistress, and a day later Giles contacted Xander once more.
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