This was the first story I'd written, finished about two weeks ago, before I figured out how to post to Bloodclaim. So apologies if you've already read some where else. (although this is the first time it's been posted since being beta'd)
'The Skin You're In'
Xander reached out to Spike, grabbing his hand and pulling him in for a quick deep kiss, that he hoped might say all the words that were currently choked up in the back of his throat. He pushed Spike back a little and gave him a sweet smile and a kiss to the tip of his nose before letting go and sweeping Buffy up into a tender hug.
Giles gave into his emotions then and gently laid a hand on each of their shoulders before Buffy and Xander looked at each other and then pulled him into a group hug. “I’m so sorry Buffy. Can you ever forgive me? All of you” he said, looking at both Xander and Spike to make sure that they were included in his apology. “I should never have left. I….I had thought that I made it harder for you, being here and not allowing you all to stand on your own. I was wrong, I can see that now.”
Buffy pulled herself together and gave Giles a small smile. “I should have asked for help, Giles. It’s not like this is all your fault. We’ve all done things and kept secrets. If I had told everyone what I was going through then maybe I would have been around more to see what was happening with Willow,” Buffy pulled away from Xander and Giles, moving to sit at the table, where Spike had already settled himself.
Xander sat on the bench next to Spike and felt a small thrill when Spike pulled him closer and wrapped an arm around his waist. Giles watched with a warm smile, before sitting next to Buffy.
“Hey, it wasn’t only you either Buff. I mean, I’ve known Wills practically since birth, and I knew she was getting out of control when Tara left. I just got so wrapped in the wedding, and Anya, and all my own fears that I never got around to having out with her, ya know? We’ve all made mistakes,” Xander said quietly, reaching over to hold her hand and giving reassuring squeeze.
Spike could see how exhausted everyone was and brought the conversation round full circle. “So what’s to be done about Red, then, Rupes?“ he asked not unkindly.
Giles sighed and removed his glasses for a much needed polishing. “I’m not quite sure actually. Like I said before, she’ll sleep now until I can teleport her back to the coven. I’ll most likely stay there with her for a few weeks, until she grasps the severity of this problem, and can accept that she needs real help and training for her powers. I can only hope that she’ll recover. The truth of it is, the magic is a part of her now. The coven can transfer it to a vessel for a short time, but the magic will by its very nature flow back into her over time. The coven is a powerful group, and will in fact determine her fate. I can only help to guide, in the end the decision is theirs alone.
It is possible that she will be able to recover, if not however there are few options for controlling such a powerful Wicca.”
“But she’ll be ok right?” Xander asked, starting grow more concerned about his oldest friend. “I mean they can just take her powers? Or.…or bind them or something right? Just make her plain old Willow again. What kind of options are we looking at here, G’man?” Xander said, trying his hardest to lighten the mood.
“Xander, you must understand, the power is a part of her. They could not remove it with out risking her life. If she refuses the help the coven offers her, at best she will remain there, as prisoner of sorts. She would be well looked after, but for all intents and purposes she would be lost to us. The coven would be forced to put her into a type of stasis, if you will, she would be only partially aware and unable to move or speak.
Other options are even more dire I’m afraid. I am sorry Xander, but there is the chance that the coven will choose to send her to an alternate dimension or……be forced to….to kill her, I’m afraid,” Giles said miserably.”
“NO! You can’t do that!” Xander screamed. Spike pulled him close and wrapped his arms around his boy, when Xander started to sob.
“Not Rupert’s fault, pet. Hush luv, t’will be all right. Shh now, c’mon. Red’s a smart bird, luv. She’ll get her head on straight and she’ll be fine. It’ll be all right luv, you’ll see,” Spike crooned gently to him, as he rubbed his back and tried to comfort his love.
Buffy watched in silence as her most recent lover comforted her best friend. ‘He really loves him,’ she thought with a small pang of regret for what might have been.
“When…..will you take her?” Xander asked as he finally got his emotions under control.
“Now. It’ll be easier to do it now while I can teleport the both of us back with the power the coven loaned me,” Giles said.
“I want to talk to her. Before you take her, I want to talk to her. I….I might not get another chance, please Giles…..let me talk to her,” Xander quietly begged.
“Of course, Xander. I can lift the sleeping spell but it might be best to keep the silencing spell on her for now,” Giles said, trying to make it clear that it might be dangerous to them if Willow’s voice was returned now.
Xander silently nodded his understanding, and turned to look at Spike. “Go on, luv. I’ll be here for you when you get back Xan. Promise,” Spike gave him a soft kiss before pushing him to follow Giles towards the training room.
Spike waited until Xander and Giles had disappeared behind the closed door to the training room, before standing and starting to pace. He pulled out and lit a smoke as he tried to figure out how to help his boy through this. ‘Picked a hell of time to tilt the boat, Red. Then again, wouldn’t have my boy now if weren’t for you bollocks’ing up another sodding spell.’
Buffy cut off his inner diatribe by stepping in front him, and taking hold of the hand not currently half way to his mouth with a fag. He stopped trying to pace, and waited for the inevitable stake to the heart, and was momentarily shocked when it didn’t immediately come.
“You really love him, don’t you?” she asked wonderingly. “I mean Anya said you did, but….I guess I thought she was crazy. But you do, don’t you? How…I mean when, when did you fall for him? And….and I thought you liked girls!” Buffy said with a kind smile.
“Guess Angelus never shared our torrid past with ya, eh?” he said with a smug smirk.
Buffy’s eye’s got wide, and her face was a lovely shade raspberry before she said indignantly, “Never. Tell. Me!” When it looked like Spike might speak she raised her hand. “Nuh uh. Never, never, ever tell me!”
Spike let loose a bark of laughter and looked at her noticing that she too was trying to hold back a laugh. “Sure, slayer, spoil all my fun, why don’t you.” Spike said with a fake pout. “But did you ever notice how if you kissed that one spot behind his left ear, he would kinda shiver all over. Or how you could feel that tattoo of his with your tongue?” he asked innocently.
Buffy backed away from him, shaking her head. “Eewww, Spike! I said, Never tell me! Evil dead guy, now I need to bleach my ears,” she huffed, while desperately Not wondering if Spike knew about that ticklish spot behind Angel’s right knee.
After a few minutes when they had clamed down some Spike turned to her with a serious expression. “Yeah, I do,” he said, quietly referring to her earlier questions. “As for when? Tonight, last year, when Angel offered him to me maybe….don’t know really. But as for the how, that one I can tell you. I love him for all the same reasons I thought I was in love with you. Except more…..bloody hard to describe. With you, I….I wanted to pull you into the darkness with me. To keep you there so I wouldn’t be alone anymore. But Xander makes me feel like I’m bathed in light. Poncey as it sounds. I don’t want to keep him in the dark with me, I want to follow him into the sun,” Spike quirked an eyebrow at her. “Does this make any bloody sense to you?” he asked.
“Yeah, it does,” Buffy said with slight smile. “And since Willow is kind of out it, I guess that means I get to be the one to give you the ‘Shovel Talk’,” she said with a gleam in her eye as she walked towards him and pointed a finger in face. “I have a shovel and I know how use it mister! If you hurt our Xander, I will hit you over the head with it, or in your case break the handle and stake you with it,” she looked at him and shrugged. “It’s much more intimidating the way Wills does it, but I think you get the general idea.”
Spike stared at with wide unbelieving eyes. “Did you just….give me permission to date Xander?” he asked.
“Maybe,” she answered coyly. “I mean if I was gonna let someone date my best friend and almost brother……I guess he do worse than a Champion.” she said with a smug smile.
In the training room, Giles pulled Xander over to the couch along the opposite wall from where Willow was sleeping on a pile of exercise mats.
“I will wake her for you in a minute,” Giles said when Xander looked questioningly at him. “I want to ask you a few questions first. Are you in love with Spike?”
Xander looked embarrassed to have to talk of his love life with his father figure for a moment but then nodded ‘Yes’, afraid of what Giles might say about his feelings for Spike.
“And does he love you, Xander?” Giles asked calmly
“I think he does, Giles,” he said softly.
“Good,” Giles said, surprising the hell out of Xander. At Xander’s look of confusion, Giles continued.
“The coven’s seer told me about the new Champion of the hellmouth, Xander. She said that an un-souled vampire, would be loved by a human, pure of heart. I admit at first I thought they meant Buffy, but once I arrived here I could see the way you and Spike looked at each other. It’s you, Xander. A human, with a pure heart who loves an un-souled vampire, who will in turn one day save the world. A Champion, Xander.
A vampire who can love is a very rare thing, my boy. If it were anyone else I might be concerned about him now that he is with out the chip, but I have a feeling that won’t be necessary now. I think that you are both very lucky to have found one another, Xander. I want you to know that I am so very happy for you, for you both…son,” Giles added quietly.
Xander sat in shock for a moment, tears slowly traversing his face. He sat quietly, taking deep breaths before tying to find his voice. In the end the only thing he could think to do was grab Giles up in a bone-crunching hug.
After a few silent minutes Giles asked him if was ready to speak to Willow. Xander wiped away his tears and nodded.
Giles walked to where Willow lay, pillowed on the foam mats. He gently touched an object to her head and whispered, “Release,” then stepped back to give Xander some privacy.
Xander watched sadly as his oldest friend slowly came awake. Her wrists and ankles were bound in the vamp-proof chains Giles kept in the weapons trunk back here. He silently wished that she could talk with him but understood the reasons that she had to be kept with her voice disabled.
When she was awake he sat on the floor next to her, and just looked into eyes for a moment before speaking.
“Hey Wills, kind of hard to know what to say when you can’t talk back to me. I think I’m going to miss the babble you know? I liked that I was only one who understood what you were saying most of the time.
I want to understand, Willow, why couldn’t you just let us work things out with out adding magic to the mix? I know you were upset about Buffy, we all were, but that doesn’t give you the right to try to change everything to fit your choices. And Christ, Wills! What you were willing to do to Anya? Just so you could have some perfect fantasy life. I just don’t get it.
I love you Wills, magic and mistakes and babble and I love you. Why couldn’t you just love us too? People grow up, they change, they do things you might not like, but you don’t just throw a little magic at it and hope it all goes your way instead. We’re your friends, I’m your friend! And tonight you tried to hurt me, hurt the people I love, and I don’t get it! You’re so stuck your own head space that I don’t know if you think about any of us at all before you make up your mind to change the things you don‘t like.
Was it worth it. Willow? You tried to turn Anya back into a demon, so that you could make Buffy and Tara forget the things you‘ve done. You made us all forget who we were because you wanted to cover a fight you had with Tara. You wanted to make Buffy forget about being heaven, because you helped to pull her out of there. When does it stop Willow? When will be good enough for you? When there’s not enough of the real us left to complain? To question you, to have opinions that differ from yours?
Remember when we were in third grade? And you stole Jessie’s Superman doll that his dad gave him for his birthday…..remember you put in your desk before lunch and when we got back you to wanted to give it back to Jessie but it was missing? Remember that big bully Mark took when you weren’t looking and he wouldn’t give it back. So what did you do huh? You walked right up to him and said ‘gimmie that back or else!’ with your best third grade resolve face. And when he pushed you away and said no, you didn’t cry, no you stood right up to him and kicked him in the shin and when dropped that damn doll you scooped it up and ran back to Jessie with it. Then you cried.
See, Wills, I love you. I love doll stealing Willow, and I love bully kicking Willow, and I love crying Willow ‘cause you felt so bad for almost losing that stupid toy. I love you Willow, no matter happens I love you! I just wish you could love us like that too.” he said with tears in his eyes.
Willow was silently crying and pleading with Xander to forgive her. Xander grabbed her up in a hug, and just held her stroking her hair as she cried hot tears against his shoulder.
When he finally pulled back, he looked into her eyes and knew that his Willow would be ok now.
“Go with Giles, Wills. Let this coven help you get this under control and then come home to us, ok?” She nodded jerkily as a fresh bout of tears sprang to her eyes. She mouthed ‘I’m sorry Xander’ far more sincerely than when she had been pleading with Tara in the shop.
“It’s time,” Giles said quietly from over Xander’s shoulder.
Xander gave Willow a quick kiss on the cheek before Giles said bent and once again put a charm to her forehead and said “Sleep,” quietly enough that Xander almost didn’t hear him. Willow’s eye’s closed immediately and her breathing quickly turned to the steady shallow breaths of any sleeping person.
“Tell Buffy that I will call her in a day or two, once Willow is settled in with the coven,” Giles said resting on a strong hand on Xander’s shoulder. “I think she’ll be alright now, Xander,” Giles said with a comforting smile. “Now go on, hadn’t you best get your vampire home before dawn?” he said with a cheeky smile. He then moved back to Willow, touched her arm and with a few soft words, and loud POP they were gone.
Feeling better than he had a few hours ago, Xander walked back through the training room and into the storefront. Expecting everything from arguments to a potentially dusty lover, Xander was unprepared for the sight that greeted him.
There at the research table sat Spike and Buffy. They each had an empty shot glass in front of themselves, and a bottle of Giles secret stash was on the table between them. Spike had a cigarette dangling from his mouth like some 50’s punk in a movie, but when he said “have any 8’s,” and Buffy responded by filling his shot glass and telling him to, “GO FISH,” Xander was pretty sure he must have hallucinated the whole dammed night. ‘Cause no way in the world did he just see the vamp of his dreams, down a shot of whisky, while playing a drunk rendition of a child’s card game. With the Vampire Slayer!
As Xander edged closer to the madness, the hallucination continued. “Got any Jacks,” Buffy asked in wide eyed innocence knowing that his 2 jacks would give four of a kind to lay down, moving her that much closer to a sweeping victory!
Spike grudgingly handed her one Jack and tried to hide the other inconspicuously behind a lowly 3. “Ha that’s a double shot buddy! I know you’ve got one more. C’mon hand it over,” she said smugly.
‘You bloody bint, when I find out how you’re cheatin’, no power on this earth will be able to save you,” Spike with a low desperate growl.
“Oh, please,” she said as she dismissed his threat with a wave of her hand. “You’re the one who wouldn’t teach me to play poker, serve’s you right for being so mean to me….”
Xander closed his eye’s and counted to ten. Taking a deep breath he popped one eye open to see Spike suddenly laughing at something Buffy said. ‘Ok, this is getting scary,’ he though to himself.
“Ok, who are you pod people, and what have done with my friends’ ” Xander said only half jokingly.
“Xander!” Buffy said excitedly. “Hey, tell your boyfriend to give me that Ace he’s trying to hide or…...or I’ll wash his underwear in holy water,” she said menacingly.
Xander smirked at her starting to get in on the funny, now that he could see that they weren’t really possessed. Probably.
“I don’t know Buff…..does he even wear underwear?” he asked thoughtfully. Before Buffy could stop it an appreciative smile and a dreamy “No” escaped her.
Xander sat next to Spike and slung a companionable arm across his shoulders, but at Buffy’s look Xander tightened his arm and mock growled, “Bad Slayer! My Vamp, get your own!” he said.
Buffy tried to act indignant and give her ‘Ewww’ face but the closest she managed to get, still looked an awful lot like her ‘Aawww’ face.
“Hey, wait a second there buddy! How do you know he doesn’t wear underwear?” Buffy asked.
Spike turned to leer at him, and Xander was only able to answer with a blush and a squeak. “Uh, basement?” he said.
Spike snickered and pulled his boy in for a sweet kiss. “Well, enough with this rot, eh pet. Let’s get you home yeah….”
“Yeah, I’m exhausted. Let’s go home, Spike,” Xander said with a huge jaw cracking yawn.
“Come in Spike,” Xander said quietly as Spike hovered outside the doorway for a minute.
“You sure mate?” Spike asked feeling self-conscious after their long night together.
Xander reached back through the open door and gently pulled his vampire inside. “Yeah Spike, I’m sure,” Xander said as he kicked the door shut behind Spike. Pulling Spike in for a gentile kiss, Xander soon found himself nearly being devoured by Spike’s hungry mouth.
Xander gently pulled back from Spike. Not wanting to break the kiss, but not able to do more just yet. “Spike, I love kissing you….but I’ve been up for about 24 hours now. I need sleep, sweetheart. Nuh uh, don’t give me pouty lip, and I invented the “puppy eye’s” thing so it’s not gonna work on me, buddy,” Xander said to his pouting vamp.
“I’m gonna make the bed, why don’t you go have a shower?”
“You gonna come wash my back for me, pet?” Spike tried to entice him.
“Oh god, No! I don’t think I could handle a naked, wet you right now. I want you, Spike….you know I do. But I want to be able to both participate and remember the first time we make love,” he said gently.
Spike smiled at that. ‘Don’t think I’ve actually made love before. It’s always been a shag, or a fuck. Get in, get off, get out. Even with Dru, it was always about doing what she wanted, and as much as I loved her…..we never made love,’ he thought sadly.
“Yeah, luv. I want that too. I’ll save ya some hot water then, yeah?” he said before kissing Xander softly and going into the bathroom for a shower.
Once Spike was in the bathroom, Xander made sure that all the windows in the apartment were covered with blinds and heavy blankets to keep his vamp safe. He then changed the rumpled linens on the bed, not wanting Spike to feel uncomfortable by smelling Anya’s cloying perfume around them as they slept.
By the time he had finished and was undressing he could hear the water in the shower being turned off. He turned when he heard the bathroom door open and was gifted with a vision of pale unearthly skin, backlit by the light in the bathroom. Spike emerged from a wall of steam, with hair curling slightly, and water dripping into rivulets, coursing over his chest and pale perfect nipples. Dressed in only the low slung towel around wet glistening hips and Xander had to fight to remain standing, and forcibly reminded himself to breathe, as this image of immortal perfection strolled towards him in a lazy, hip-swaying strut.
“Spike,” Xander said breathlessly. Spike stopped a few feet from Xander and looked his fill, of tight, hard earned muscles. Xander was bare foot in only his well worn and faded blue jeans. Spike imagined running his fingers through all that thick dark hair while he held his lover under him. Xander had filled out since their days in the basement, no longer a boy with clumsy unsure movements, he was now man who wore his body with confidence even if he, himself didn’t realize it.
Xander’s body was the perfect counter point to Spike’s own thin frame. Thick, well tanned muscles, usually hidden by baggy clothes, moved fluidly as Xander reached to place his now discarded shirt in the laundry basket behind him. A light scattering of dark hair on his chest made a near perfect triangle pointing to the treasure trail just below his navel and moving downwards below the waist of jeans. Spike wanted nothing more than to drop to his knees and follow that trail with the edge of his tongue, to map out all the places hidden from his hungry gaze.
“You’re so beautiful,” Xander said as reached out to follow a single drop of water with his finger as it flowed down to the towel around Spike’s hips.
Spike hissed at the single fleeting touch. His body craving the warmth of the man in front of him. He took a step closer, reducing the distance between them to mere inches.
“So are you Xander,” Spike said as he leaned in to taste the taught skin of his boy’s neck. He savored the flavor gathered on his tongue for a moment. The taste of earth and salty skin, with a hint of power and strength lying under the essence of a healthy, human male. Spike moved closer again, so that now their chests were in contact and he could feel Xander’s heat radiating into his own cooler body.
Xander was trembling slightly from the erotic feel of Spike’s damp skin gently rubbing against his. With them both barefoot he noticed how he was actually an inch or so taller than Spike, who always seemed larger than life. ‘Must be the coat,’ he thought to himself, as he wondered where his exhaustion had suddenly run off to.
Xander felt one of Spike’s hands move up into his hair and shuddered when the hand quickly closed into a fist and was used to gently pull his head to one side. ‘Vampire’ his mind supplied. “My Vampire” his heart said, also his mouth….he realized as Spike suddenly took a gasping breath. Xander swallowed, his throat suddenly dry, and brought his hand up to Spike’s face. “My Vampire,” he said again, looking deeply into Spike’s beautiful dark blue eyes.
Spike brought their mouths together in a sensual kiss that seemed to last for an eternity. Only pulling back so that his love could breathe. “I love you, Xander,” Spike said before crushing their mouths together again.
When Xander pulled away for air several minutes later, Spike continued to pepper his cheeks, jaw and neck with soft biting kisses. “Want you, luv,” he said. “Want to mark you, make you mine, Xan. Right here,” he said raising the skin in suckling kisses where shoulder met neck. “Want to feel you surrounding me, feel your blood in me, feel your love inside of me. Please Xan, let me make love to you tonight,” Spike whispered reverently against the skin of Xander’s neck.
Xander collapsed onto the bed when the back of his knees hit the mattress. ‘Didn’t realize we were even moving,’ he thought wonderingly to himself. He looked up into Spike’s almost feral eyes from his prone position on the bed. And new with certainty that if he said no, his lover would calm and not argue and just let it be his choice. Spike was unlike anyone he had ever been with, and he knew already that Spike would be a more generous lover than he’d ever had before.
Xander raised a hand from the bed in a silent invitation. Spike didn’t hesitate to bend and remove Xander’s jeans and boxers before sliding onto the bed next to him. They held each other and quietly explored each other’s bodies with hands, tongues and teeth. Learning each other through each quiet gasp, and soft moan. There was no loud whimpering or crying out for more, just the silent promise of one body to another…..‘I feel you, I love you’….all that and more as their bodies spoke to each other, through shivers, and panting breaths, racing heart beats and gentle caresses.
Spike gently and lovingly prepared Xander’s virgin body, silently coaxing him into being taken for the first time. There were no dirty words or obscene grunts. Just a breathless sigh as two finally, slowly and lovingly became one. Their orgasms were like a silent prayer, made with kisses and tears of love and happiness, rather than screams of ecstasy.
They made love, that first night and many nights after. Of course over time there would be the hard slamming and claiming of a playful fucking…..but for now, it was only about the love they felt as two incomplete beings, became one whole entity.
On Spike and Xander's five year anniversary, (four years since the fight with the First, Spike's near dusting and the closing of the Hellmouth) Tara and Willow, with their beautiful two year old twin daughters, stayed well after the celebration to give their gift in private. Without explanations the two women each handed over a small box.
Spike and Xander opened them curiously and were stunned by the platinum wedding bands that were revealed. Each band had a row of three diamonds, set within what looked like a Celtic knot pattern woven over the width of the band. On the inside of each band was also the simple inscription S/X Eternally.
"Few years behind aren't you, Red?" Spike asked, with his trademark raised eyebrow.
"Not really, no." she said with a mysterious smile, while Tara grinned broadly next to her.
"You have to put them each other," Tara said sweetly.
Spike and Xander looked at each other then at the bands and gave in with humoring smiles. Xander carefully placed the ring he held onto Spikes left ring finger, followed by Spike swiftly doing the same for Xander.
After admiring the ring on his hand for a few seconds, Xander's finger started tingling and itching. "Will's, why does my finger feel like it's got poison ivy all of a sudden? And, OOH, Owww starting to burn?" Xander said, starting to panic when he saw Spike trying desperately to pull his own ring off.
"Bloody Hell! What did you two do to us?" Spike yelled.
Tara placed a calming hand on his wrist. "Just give it a minute, don't take them off. You'll like the surprise, I promise."
Tara was right, in a matter of moments the burning stopped and their fingers felt normal again.
"Oh, Xander! I'm so sorry, we couldn't tell you first. We didn't want to get you're hopes up if it didn't work. But it did work! That's what the tingling was, it worked!" Willow squealed happily, pulling Tara into a hug.
"What worked?" Spike asked with growl, still somewhat uncomfortable with Willow using magic. Even after two years of her magical therapy and training, her use of magic often set him on edge. However he trusted Tara completely. It had taken time and tears but she had forgiven Willow, and never let her cast with out help and guidance.
"You're gift," Tara said simply. "Willow and I wanted to do something special for the two of you. We know that you you never want to turn Xander, Spike, but that you've been looking for a way to extend his life." she said.
"So we found a way to bind Xander's life to yours." Willow finished for her. At Spike's worried look, she continued. " Xander loves you Spike. We talked about it a while back, and sorry for blabbing Xan, but he said if you ever dusted.....he'd die too. And I know you feel the same way Spike. You've already told everyone that you'd walk into the sun if he died......so we fixed it. Sorta. Look at the rings now," she said softly.
The white diamonds on both rings had changed to a stunning ocean blue, that perfectly matched Spikes eyes.
Xander looked from Tara to Wills questioningly before asking, "What does it mean?" in a choked whisper.
"We bound you're life to Spike's. You'll live as long he does. You'll never get older or weaker, but if Spike dusts you'll die too. It was the only way to make the magic work, there must always be balance in nature," Tara said with a gentle touch to Xander's arm.
"But there's one other thing you need to know. Spike, Xander is still human, and will always be human, but the spell, sorta pulls bits from one essence to share with the other. And we don't know for sure what all the changes might be, but we know one.....for certain," Willow said in a rush. She moved to crouch in front of where Spike and Xander were seated on the couch and took one of each of their hands before continuing. "The one that we know for certain, Spike, is that you'll be able to walk in the sun," she siad with an emotion filled voice.
After several long, silent minutes, Spike turned his now tear streaked face to look at Xander's matching one. Then pulled him into a rib crushing hug.
That night after settling their daughters into Spike and Xander's spare room to sleep, Willow and Tara waited with Spike and Xander on the front porch swing. They watched as the sun began to crest distant hills, feeling Spike's body tensing slightly as the first rays of light crept towards them.
Spike was ready to flee into the safety of the house as he felt the heat from the sun caress his face for only the second time in close to a hundred and fifty years.
Xander gasped and hugged tightly to his mate as the sun highlighted un-gelled white blond hair and sapphire blue eyes. There was no smoke, no burning, no flames. Just tears of joy as Spike moved to stand in the light of the dawning day.