Author: Rowaine (email@example.com)
Summary: Sometimes even seasoned veterans get tired, completely fed up with the world around them. When that happens... all you can pray for is to survive.
Rating: Overall rating R, with splashes of NC-17 along the way. The first few chapters are mostly a strong PG-13.
Pairings: Mentions of various canon pairings, but mainly Spander. As if I'd write anything else. *snort*
Spoilers: Through all seasons of BtVS and AtS, with a few modest adjustments. It's called artistic license -- but we all know it's just 'cus Joss was on drugs when he killed off certain characters.
Warnings: Starts off fairly depressing. And except for the occasional dark humor, it does eventually seem to get better. Character death (major and OC), mentions of prostitution and drug abuse, child abuse and neglect, and assorted aspects of the homeless (aka transient) subculture. This is not an attempt to bash any canon characters, but it doesn't show certain ones in the most positive light.
Disclaimer: Since Joss has no boobs and is equipped with an extra dangly bit, I fail to see a resemblence between us. His toys, his world, my delusions.
Author's Note: You folks don't need the whole horrifying sob story of the past 16 months of my life. Suffice it to say that I must be working off the combined karma of Hitler, Khan, Hoffa and Dahlmer. Here's the next chapter of Surviving, with more to come... provided no more apocolypses rain down on my head :P
Anyways, here we go. Sorry for the wait!
Previous parts are found at the following links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 & Part 6.
From last chapter
"Xander, I have made numerous decisions in my life, with many regrets along the way. You also know that there is no love lost between Spike and myself. However," here he paused, as if at a lost for the right words, "however, it was not my intention to leave him adrift forever. I... I was going to look for a means to return him to the physical plane. But with our weekly apocalypses, magical crises, and the cyclical disaster of too many mature females under one roof... I must confess --" his blush was heard across the world "-- I forgot."
It took a minute for the declaration to sink in. Of all the possible ways this could've gone, those two simple words hadn't even made it into the Top 100. "You... forgot..." shell-shocked, his voice monotone, "Spike -- souled, died in a blaze of Holy sunlight -- and you forgot?"
"I-I-I will most assuredly begin the search at once!" Flustered but rallying, Giles tried to redeem his poor choice of inaction. "There must be a ritual that would recreate the body of an immolated undead-"
"Giles, he's got his body back now," Xander made himself interrupt. It just felt... off, hearing the Watcher stumble around for ideas to return a vamp into being. "And he knows that you told Angel off for asking for help."
A soft snort came down the phone line, and Xander felt better all at once. That's Giles' snort of disbelief! He and Angel never got along, especially after the whole torture thing, so of course they'd butt heads about this, just like everything else.
As if reading his mind, Giles returned with a slightly scolding tone, "Really Xander, that is not how events occurred. Not at all. If you have the patience, I am quite sure I can recall our distasteful conversation accurately enough."
Relieved beyond belief, Xander found himself chuckling out loud. "Sure, I've got a few hours to spare.
"Very well. If you think you can withhold any loud outbreaks of hysteria until a natural pause in the story." Giles manfully ignored the giggles, ready to begin his tale. "It was late one evening. I had just closed a file to be sent off to our sister coven concerning an odd surge in energy that they had expressed concern over..."
After his long talk with Giles, Xander realized two things. First, that his cell phone from the Council was in desperate need of recharging. Second, that he really didn't have time for so much as a catnap before needing to wake Corey up before breakfast and school. With a grin and a sigh, he went to take a quick shower to help himself stay awake for another hour or two.
Ah well, at least now I don't have to stress out as much over G-man's motives. It's sorta a relief too, in a weird way -- finding out after all this time that Rupert Giles, Watcher Extrodinaire, is only human... Cus yeah, the whole 'forgetting Spike's problem' is a bad, bad thing, and Spike is gonna be rightfully pissed about it. But in the grand scheme of things? I'd rather find out he 'forgot' than had intentionally left Spike to the Fates through maliciousness. Just hope my fine blond friend will see things the same way.
He stepped out of the shower with a towel draped across his hips, detouring first to knock on Corey's bedroom door to wake up his boy.
"Hey Corey, wake up and get dressed, hun. Then we can figure out something for breakfast, k?"
A muffled 'hrmph' came out from behind the door. Xander had to chuckle a bit -- he well remembered the trials he'd gone through getting his body used to school hours after a long break. Not that he'd ever had such enthusiasm toward school as his bright-eyed boy, but especially after hooking up with Buffy...
And there was another call he needed to make. But not yet. His cell was going to need several hours of quality time plugged in to the charger, and he needed to form a game plan of sorts to keep the topic on track. Only truly disturbing thing I learned talking to Giles is that, while Buffy and Dawn were kept in the dark like me, Willow and Andrew knew from the start. And how's that for news to get the blood pressure rising? Blah. Too damned early to deal with. Need coffeeeeeeeeeeee!
Shorts and t-shirt were found, which he tugged into place over still-damp skin. He finger-combed his hair and called it well enough. Then slipping his feet into a worn pair of sandals, Xander headed toward the kitchen, stopping long enough outside Corey's room to make sure the boy hadn't turned over to go back to sleep.
"Daddy, can we make funny faces for brek'fus?"
And there's my answer. He laughed silently and went to find the youngster. This parenting thing might not be as hard as I'd feared. Oh gods, tell me I didn't just jinx myself!!
By the time Xander parked his truck in the driveway, he was well and truly beat. Just call me Mr. Toasty, cus this brain is too crispy without a thick layer of butter and jam... Yeah, that makes no sense even in my own mind. He turned off the ignition and opened the door, nearly gutting himself as he tried to disembark without releasing the seatbelt first. A gasp and soft chuckle drifted from the Lowenski's front door.
"Dear boy, you look absolutely exhausted! Please tell me you're going straight to bed." Myrna's amusement was good-natured, but her worry was just as evident. "You haven't much time for a nap before retrieving Corey from school, unless you'd like to call and let them know he may be picked up by his doting grandmother...?" She left the question hanging, and the offer itself warmed his tired heart.
"Actually, that sounds like a wonderful idea, thanks," Xander said around a yawn. "I was up half the night catching up with an old friend, then the other half discussing things with my boss. Who happens to be overseas, so he's on a different timetable, and there was quite a bit to cover-"
Deftly interrupting, the old lady helped guide him to his door, assuring, "Of course you have things to take care of, love. A man is defined by the manner in which he handles his responsibilities. And you, Xander Harris, are a fine young man." She caught him as he stumbled through the doorway and landed in a rough pile on the couch. Handing him the phone, she searched through speed-dial to find the school's listing. "Here you are, sweetling. Just tell the good secretary that Gabe and I will be picking up your little one today, then you can rest. We'll keep young Corey occupied til after lunch before letting him wake you, alright?"
Xander's drooping eye watched the dear Myrna carefully placing his phone back in its charger. He felt a light throw land across his legs and torso, but he missed her caring smile as she slipped out the door. His sleep was deep and blissfully dream-free.
A grumbling stomach woke him several hours later. Xander stretched and listened to his body crack back into place. He felt remarkably rested for having slept on the couch. Vaguely remembering the conversation with his neighbor, he felt no worries about Corey. That left him with a little free time to grab a bite and maybe a quick shower. I would have to be one of the human furnace types -- doze for more than a few minutes and my body temp goes up ten degrees. Spike'd get a kick outa that, and whoa, watch where you're heading, brain'o'mine!
Before he could fluster himself too much, Xander stood on shaky legs and refolded the throw. He went on autopilot to the kitchen, quickly making a sandwich and eating it on his way to the shower. The necessaries taken care of, it was time to collect his son and spend some time reading or doing homework. Still working through the weird of that. But hey, maybe I'll learn more vicariously through Corey's education, catch up with the rest of the world. Ha! And maybe I am just a one-eyed carpenter, but go me with the big words.
Reaching into his closet for fresh clothes, he chuckled at the realization that his five year old had better fashion sense. So letting Corey pick out my clothes is a good thing. And definitely less painful than going shopping with my girls. Not that I should be thinking about them right now. Nope, definitely not.
So humming an off-key tune, Xander slid his feet into sandals and went to join his new family outside. There would be plenty of time for less pleasant thoughts, after he and his boy were more settled into a routine. And maybe, just maybe, he might get to spend a bit more time with a certain blond before the real world had a chance to bite him on the butt.
That night went much the same as the previous. No take-out, but Xander and an over-helpful Corey fixed dinner, placing it on the table only a minute before Spike knocked on the door. This time, Corey was the one to answer. With a shriek that would've made Dawn proud, he leapt into the vampire's arms with a wrenching hug and dragged the blond inside, babbling about school and the latest backyard project with Pappa Gabe.
"Hey bit, looks like you've had an eventful day," Spike grinned at his bouncing barnacle. "Got plans for a treehouse, eh? Those are always great fun."
"Uh huh! And Daddy says we can work on it every afternoon once homework's done! Wanna help?"
Big blue eyes begged so prettily, but Spike couldn't give him the answer he wanted. Trying hard to find a plausible excuse, he was saved by a smirking Xander.
"Sorry pup, but Spike's job won't let him free until sundown most days. Maybe he can help with some of the smaller details at night, like braiding the ropes for your ladders."
Blue eyes rolled loudly, but the boy accepted the explanation and went on to regale his audience with every minute detail of his future treehouse. Over his head, Spike and Xander shared a relieved glance at having benched the undead topic for now.
Xander felt it was a minor success, getting through a chapter a night in Gulliver's Travels. Between a five year old and a Master vampire with the same attention span, it was nearly unbelievable that they had so few interruptions. Every once in awhile, Corey would break in to ask what a word or phrase meant, but he soaked up the knowledge so quickly that the same question was never asked twice.
By the end of the week, he was almost feeling optimistic about... everything.
After tucking his boy into bed each night, he and Spike would sit on the couch, watching a movie or just talking. The easy familiarity was weird, disconcerting, a sign of upcoming apocolypse? odd but nice. Neither man had experience with such a comfortable relationship. And maybe that's why we're both acting like scared little virgins here. Dammit, I wanna snog! And omigod, where'd that come from and who can I hide behind, but it's true and very real and... And Spike looks just as nervous as I do, which makes me feel better. Gods, I'm a sick puppy.
The blond in question had been watching his friend for several minutes. During the silence it was easy to see how deep in thought the mortal was. At first, Spike was worried -- when dealing with Xander Harris, thinking often led to Very Bad Things. But a warm hand kept inching towards his cooler one, seemingly of its own accord. And the not-so subtle glances. If Spike were a mere mortal, he'd almost call them cute. Before he gave in to some very Dawn-like squeals, not that he would of course, his hand reached out and snagged Xander's.
A quick gasp and their eyes met. Speaking softly, Spike whispered, "If you've gotta talk yourself into it, luv, we're doing something wrong."
Brown hair bobbed wildly as Xander denied the uncertain question. "Nononono, was trying to talk myself out of it. Cus, y'know, you said slow. And how slow is slow? Me and Anya, well, we had one really weird first date at Senior Prom, then she's gone for the summer, and when she comes back it's with an economy size box of condoms, explaining that she needs to 'interlock parts' to get me off her mind."
Squeezing Xander's hand, the blond laughed outloud before lowering his volume with a sshhh! and head nod toward Corey's room. "Sorry luv," he gasped out betwen silent chuckles, "But I can just imagine her doing that. Your demon girl, she was something special."
Xander waited for more, holding his breath. Their new, deeper relationship was full of minefields. It struck him like a slap to the forehead that he wasn't upset about the incident at the Magic Box anymore. That was about comfort, feeling some kind of connection with another person, both in pain and wanting to forget for a short time. Huh, maybe I've grown up more than I thought since Sunnydale collapsed. And Ahn, she wouldn't want me to be alone and miserable for too long. Just long enough so she didn't feel forgotten. Anya, sweetheart, you are so completely unforgettable!
"She really was. And I screwed that up in a big way. Spike..."
The blond's other hand came to rest against his lips, quieting the words of regret he tried to voice. "None of that, luv. She understood, eventually. Pretty sure she got it early on, but habit had her taking it out on you. Patron of Scorned Women, right?"
Nodding, Xander had to admit how right it sounded. "She's probably leering down at us now. Ahn always wanted to be in the middle of a threesome with you and me." At the stunned look his comment provoked, he had to laugh. "Oh yeah, she was on about that up til the last week. How, as much energy and passion as we put into fighting, there would be explosions in the bedroom if we ever let loose... And I'm thinking she could be right."
Slow just isn't working, and coy isn't my thing. Un-subtle flirting though... Come on, Spike, take the hint!
In all the years he'd known the Master vampire, Xander could count on one hand the number of times Spike had stalked his prey. Fast moves were more his forte` -- hit first, fastest, hardest. But now, everything was in super-slow motion as the blond leaned forward and tilted his head. Targeting acquired! Houston, we have lift-off...
Twin groans sounded, but Xander was already vaulting over the couch toward his son's room. Another nightmare. Haven't had one of those in a couple of days, so we're making progress. But dammit, Spike and I were about to make progress of a different sort. Yeah, this is me, grown-up Xander, pouting like a toddler whose lolly was taken away.
Blankets untangled from the cocoon that had scared Corey, Xander made his way back to the living room. The TV was off and everything had been cleaned up. It took a minute for him to locate his blond... standing near the front door, and putting on his duster.
"Hey, you don't have to leave. Corey just had a run-in with his covers, nothing earth-shattering."
Cool fingers against his lips stopped the babblefest. "No worries, luv. We were winding down for the night anyways, yeah?" Spike stepped a bit closer til his breath could be felt. Xander watched those full lips with a kind of morbid fascination. He wanted, oh gods how he wanted, but it didn't look to be happening tonight.
Moving slowly, Spike's arms came up and around the brunet's shoulders, pulling him into a loose hug. He whispered softly against Xander's ear, "I'll be back tomorrow night, Xan. Maybe take us out somewhere for a movie and dinner, the three of us. Then after the tyke's tucked in, we can take a walk down by the beach. Your neighbors won't mind keeping an ear out for him, will they?"
Xander's entire focus was on the cool air passing his ear, the strong arms wrapped so gently around his shoulders. Finally snapping out of his haze, he answered, "No, I can honestly say that they'll be thrilled to have him stay with them."
Blue eyes blinked in confusion. "That wasn't what I said-"
"Nope," Xander chuckled, "But how is it for a back-up plan? That way we can come back here and spend a little cuddle time, hmm?"
Spike closed his eyes, a soft smile on his face. "Nothing fast, but yeah. Guess we're ready for more'n holding hands."
Xander's eye watched each syllable come from those wonderfully pouty lips. Don't care if it's too fast, I'm tasting him Now!
His head tilted just a bit, Xander lowered his lips the couple of inches that separated them. Such a short distance, but one that seemed as wide as the Grand Canyon at the same time. His breath hitched at the first contact so soft, unbelievably soft!, and he inhaled a bit more of the unique leather, whiskey, blood smell that was Spike.
The blond's mouth fit to his like two things that fit really well together, made for each other, and gods I'm going to start writing poetry interlocking parts. Ahn, hun, why didn't you nag me into trying this years ago? Were you worried that I'd like him better? Never happen. But maybe we could've moved him in with us. Me and you and Spike, we're all the same in some ways. Need to be needed, love to be in love. Hope you've found it wherever you are, sweetheart.
With that final goodbye to his best girl, Xander's focus snapped entirely to the trembling connection he'd instigated. Which one of them was shivering? Perhaps both, if the charged contact was anything to go by.
Spike let out a soft murmur before his arms tightened, his lips opened, and Xander found himself being devoured. Not that there were any complaints. The beating of his heart was fast enough, hard enough that he felt like they were sharing it. Blood rushed to his head, making him dizzy. Of course, it rushed south as well, but an answering hardness pressing against his shorts cancelled out the embarassment.
I know what he'd like. He'll know what I want. So much simpler than a girl. And gods, so very hot! Whatinhell've I been waiting for all these years?
The same tongue he'd watched curled around Spike's upper teeth on so many occassions now sought to wrap around his tonsils. They stroked, they duelled, they teased and fought and loved, oh this is caressed.
While Xander may be the one needing to breathe, Spike was panting just as hard when they finally separated. Eyes opened, each stunned at the intensity of their first kiss.
"Bloody hell, luv, s'no wonder why demon girl was always braggin' 'bout ya!"
Xander's blush only tipped his ears -- he hadn't heard much about Anya's boasts in a couple of years, but that was one thing that never went away. She was always so vocal about sex. He'd had his immunizations against most blush-worthy things. Coming from Spike, though...
"So, I rank then, yeah?" he asked, looking up through his mass of wavy hair.
With a wicked twinkle, Spike readily agreed. "Oh yeah, you definitely rank. And seeing as how you're now off the market, think I can rub it in a few folks' faces?"
Wary of the blond's intentions, Xander stopped to think for a moment. Of course, he's probably talking about Deadboy. Which is kinda cool, actually. And since no one from the Council is speaking to Angel right now, it's probably safe. Not that I'm at all ashamed of Spike! But with the 'stake first, ask questions never' approach that Buffy has, and Willow's always going to rely on spells to double-check me... Better safe than sorry until I can figure out how to keep my vampire undusty. And wow, not even a flinch at that. He wants to brag about me. Me? So cool! Anya, I hope you're getting all the orgasms you can handle while hustling the PTBs up there. But seriously, sweetheart, it's ok for me to move on, right?
Internal monologue aside, Xander was quite interested in how Spike handled the silence. Those sweet, soft lips were mapping his neck and ears, laying a scent-claim to anyone who was sensative to that sort of thing. And it wasn't weird at all. Hell, Xander thought he might like to do the same, so he pushed aside all extra wool-gathering for later and began mirroring the blond's motions.
From time to time their lips reconnected, letting them taste the saltiness of their own skin in the other's mouth. Hands stayed above the waist, stroking shoulders and chests, but never venturing into sexual territory. Xander could handle a bit more, but he still agreed with the 'slow' part. This was a totally new area for him, and however right it felt and boy, does it! there was plenty of time to get to the finish line.
Another half hour of kissing and petting, and they broke apart.
Panting through barely opened lips, Spike's smile was gentle and soft pure, that's what it looks like, wow. "Should be getting back, luv. Will pick you and the bit up tomorrow evening, yeah? 'Bout the same time. We'll have dinner first, someplace with a buffet so Corey can get however much he needs, then find a kiddy show."
Xander nodded, his mind and body still tingling with energy. "Sounds good. I'll talk with Myrna and Gabe tomorrow about him staying overnight." Looking thoughtfully into blue eyes, he made a decision. "Stay with me? After the beach and all... We don't have to do anything more than tonight, but... just be here, with me?"
Before the words ended, Spike's lips were on his again, more passionate than ever. As they broke away, the blond's voice was husky but still quiet, "Wild horses, luv, couldn't drag me away. 'Bout to say 'fuck slow', y'know? Just don't want to mess this up."
"Don't think you can, sweetheart." Xander grinned, remembering his earlier 'talk' with Anya. "Almost feels like we were blessed by someone."
Another few quick smooches and the vampire was gone. Xander locked up for the night and nearly floated off to bed. He didn't remember shutting off the lights or even taking off his shorts. His sleep was deep, peaceful, and wonderfully free of the terror he'd carried around for years.