Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Xander has PTSD after rescuing one too many slayers. Spike is recovering (sort of) after the battle with W&H. Fate may have it they eventually find each other - she's funny that way.
Spoilers: Sometime in season five AtS – and possibly late seven BtVS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: 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.
He knew it was a dream and it was getting ridiculous, if that could be said of dreams.
Muddled in with images of long hallways and sets of stairs leading to old fashioned lecture rooms and faces of people he knew from his distant past, were others of Angel, walking in the distance out of earshot, and a feeling of dread as he tried to find something, someone. Spike had the distinct sensation that he was wrapped in something warm, but nude at the same time, the beings around him had noted his unclothed state if the looks of disapproval were anything to go by.
All at once, he was climbing a down a long flight of stairs. He was needed at a ceremony of some sort and had the distinct feeling that he was running late, that he had to be there *now*. The hallways went forever, so he kept turning corners and going through doors, only to find himself back where he started.
The scene changed suddenly to one of a trail on a snow bound peak. He had no shoes on which now seemed important for some unknown reason, but he knew he needed to continue, he was going to be too late.
His footing slipped and instantly he was falling into some sort of abyss. He seemed to fall forever, watching images flashing past until he managed to grab onto something, a branch. He held on tight and strangely when the scenery stilled, he was sitting on the marble floor of a hotel lobby. A faceless form approached him and handed him a key and indicated the stairs to his left. Opening the door at the top he was presented with the inside of the Great Hall at Trinity College with dinner in progress.
The platform in front of the long table was occupied by the Dons of the College, each academic gowned figure a person of Spike had failed and lost, Buffy, Angel, Fred, Charles and Wesley, his mother, and many others on either side of them. But his focus was on the beaten figure standing in front of the main group. At the edge of the podium was Xander, bound, covered in blood, with his head hanging down. The nude, badly beaten body of a girl was at his feet. As Spike approached, apparently by thought alone, as he didn’t feel his legs move, Xander lifted his chin and stared with horror into the distance. His eye socket was raw and bleeding, the other cheek streaked with tears. He started calling to Spike, “Please… Please! I tried and now… Look what I’ve done…”
Spike couldn’t seem to get any closer, he tried but nothing was working, he knew he was failing, but couldn’t let whatever was coming happen! A menacing figure passed by his shoulder toward the horrid scene of his friend, obviously intent on doing the boy harm. He thought he recognized the rear of the apparition. Pavane. It couldn’t be! And finally he could move again.
Rushing forward he tried to grab Xander, but the wraithlike Pavane wrapped its arms around his waist and began hauling him backwards, and where they were joined his skin began to flame.
Xander’s bonds fell away and he fell forward towards Spike, tripping over the body in front of him. They both began yelling at the same time. Spike trying to convince Xander to get up and run to safety, and Xander insisting he could help Spike. In his desperation Spike kicked out only to find that his feet also on fire and were caught up in something. Despite the flames spreading, he struggled desperately to get away from his captor, while the maimed Xander crawled toward him.
Finally Xander’s hand latched on to his wrist, pulling him free of Pavane, and all the flames extinguished instantly. He felt himself falling head first, grasping Xander tightly as he was pulled into an embrace. But then they kept falling, tumbling down into blackness, nothingness, he was at once horrified and relieved that he was now in the bloodied arms of the man he had been so desperate to rescue… And as he did so, his dream world fell away with an abrupt thud.
Two male bodies and most of the bedding had landed in a tangled heap on the floor beside their shared bed.
Xander had landed on top of the vampire and though momentarily stunned, rolled to his side and began shaking Spike’s shoulder, “Spike, wake up! Come on Spike… Wake up! It’s OK buddy… We’re here in our room. It’s OK…”
The vampire was crying and begging as he struggled to consciousness, alternately grasping for Xander and pushing him away. “Xan!… Save you… ::sob::… No!... Burning! Don’t… Not hell…Not… you!… ::sob::…your eye! Can’t leave… Gahhh! Xan!”
With the final call to Xander, the images and panic, and his game face finally retreated, and though Spike continued to take unnecessary gulps of air, he slowly blinked open tear filled, terrified blue eyes.
Xander watched him carefully for a moment, then hauled the smaller blonde half over his chest and held him, letting his free hand slowly stroke up and down the smooth pale back. “Hey, shhh. It was a nightmare… you’re safe, we’re safe…”
They lay on the floor until Xander felt the vampire cease breathing altogether, then waited a while longer. Finally, however, his bladder made moving imperative. “Hey buddy, we need to get up, OK? Just up onto the bed while I go to the little boys’ room OK? Come on, here we go.” With that he reached down to the tangle of sheets, unwound a couple of twists and tugged their legs free. He then sat up, Spike pushing up with him.
Xander extracted himself completely and made for the bathroom while Spike pulled himself up to sit on the bed, legs hanging over the side with the corner of the duvet covering his nudity.
Xander flushed the toilet, washed his hands and splashed his face, then wet a face towel with warm water and returned to the bedroom. He sat on the bed beside a defeated looking Spike and offered the vampire the wet flannel, “Always helps me after a bad night. Don’t know why really, just does.”
Spike still didn’t look at the brunette, but took the towel with an almost whispered “Taa”, and proceeded to wipe his face of all traces of bloodied tears. When he had finished, Xander took the towel from him and dropped it on the floor then took the hand closest to him and squeezed, “You wanna talk about it?”
Spike gave an ironic snort and began to play with their fingers where they were joined. “Don’t even know where to start mate. ‘s the stupid thing ‘bout dreams, innit. You know it’s all bollocks and pretend-like but that whole bloody thing’s real when you’re in it. All half truths ‘n memories mixed in with regrets ‘n hopes ‘n whatever else. Like the bloody First on acid with some special guests for good measure.”
Xander turned Spike’s hand over where their fingers were still interlinked and started to make small circles with his thumb on the slim lines, keeping his focus down, knowing that any closer scrutiny would be unwelcome. He knew from bitter experience how the vulnerability endured after such nightmares, how discussing or being forced to dissect it with another immediately could simply augment the experience.
Eventually Spike leaned into Xander’s warmth, the brunette belatedly realizing that Spike was becoming increasingly cold as they sat silently in the darkened room virtually naked for many minutes. He leaned down, retrieving the bulk of the duvet from the floor, without dislodging Spike’s position against his shoulder, and wrapped it around them both. Spike’s only acknowledgement of the act was to ease further toward Xander’s heat and rest his head on the strong shoulder.
More minutes passed but were finally interrupted by Xander’s stomach rumbling. Spike sat up pulling away slightly, ‘tsked’ at the noise and finally smiled, saying without any heat to his statement, “Bloody hell you and your bodily functions, pet.”
Xander grinned back and the mood of the last half hour or so dissipated, “Yeah well, eat, drink, excrete and repeat, that’s us humans for you. Next you’ll be telling me you’re not just a little bit peckish, I just hope you woke us up early enough for the breakfast we paid for. I’m sure Sally has crumpets and tea all set up for us downstairs. Come on, let’s get this day started. ”
It was the last half hour of the breakfast service but Sally indeed made them most welcome, and did a little better, serving wonderful eggs and bacon and fresh squeezed orange juice, as well as the customary toast with wide selection of preserves. After the requisite refill of their cups of tea, Xander declared the meal wonderful and they both congratulated the chef. The smiling red head shooed them off to their room with instructions that she would be around most of the day should they need anything, but otherwise they were to have a “jolly old time”.
It was a perfect summer’s day in Oxford, clear, sunny and ideal for walking to the city centre and university. Nothing was said regards nightmares or other troubling matters either at breakfast nor as they stepped out for the day. Xander was wearing a tight white T-shirt, faded blue jeans and runners, Spike almost identical but for the docs on his feet, and the open, long sleeved burgundy shirt pulled on at the last minute. Both carried daypacks, Xander’s containing his swimming gear, whilst Spike had his lightweight laptop, small notebook and a ‘liquid snack’.
Xander kept stealing shy glances at Spike’s profile as they walked. The vampire’s ever-present dark sunglasses obscured his eyes, but even from the side Xander could tell the contents of the dream were still bothering the blonde.
“Do you want to talk about… you know… this morning… the dream, I mean?”
“OK, but you can if you want… you know down the track.”
Spike kicked at an imaginary stone. “Yeah, I know… Taa.”
They walked a little further passing by the turn off to the swimming pool Xander was due to visit later in the day. “So what’s with the long shirts and the glasses, I mean, not that it’s not a good look, but I just thought sunshine not an issue and all that.”
“Bright sun hurts my eyes, ‘n don’t fancy a tan.”
Xander abruptly had a vivid image of a pink skinned, sunburned Spike lying nude on *their* bed while he rubbed copious quantities of after sun lotion up and down. He blushed profusely and tried to focus on their surroundings but his body betrayed him. He noted Spike’s smirk as the vampire senses clued in to his thinking. “’Course if I *was* to be all hot ‘n bothered, I have an idea you’d take care of it.”
Xander groaned but couldn’t help returning the suggestive grin he received as they kept walking.
The city centre was busy, particularly the high street which seemed full of backpackers and tourists where normally one would expect predominantly students, but neither man minded as Spike guided them through the throng toward the University and Trinity College.
Xander was reminded of Spike’s extreme age and history as they turned up a narrow alley way into the university proper. While Xander felt like his head was on a swivel admiring the architecture of the buildings and wondering at their age and just who may have wandered the very same path, Spike simply strode on, casually commenting on this or that memory from his time as a student.
They entered Trinity by the side gate and quickly found their way to Jonathon’s office where they were duly welcomed. Spike had already ascertained that Xander would much prefer to spend the next couple of hours exploring the university campus, even contemplating an official guided tour, but there was no need. It seemed that the good professor had ‘worded up’ one of his doctoral students, Richard (Dickie), who was quite happy to show Xander around the university and rendezvous with Rebecca at 1pm for their planned trip to the pool.
Richard stood at least a head taller than Spike, blonde and broad shouldered, giving Xander the odd impression that he was going to spend the day with a direct descendent of a Viking, not at all what he expected of a doctoral student (whatever they were supposed to be like). He gave the man a shy smile as they greeted each other, the look noted by Spike and eliciting a low rumbling growl.
Before the two left, Spike politely excused himself for a ‘quick word’ with Xander, pulling them both outside the professor’s door for a near whispered exchange.
Xander submitted to being led out by the arm, but when they were out of earshot, pulled away looking somewhat annoyed “OK…What’s with the caveman act Spike?”
Spike stood for a moment before replying, “Nothin’, but you going to be OK with him for a few hours?”
“What? Of course, I mean... What? Should I be worried or something? Is that Dickie guy a demon or something?”
“No, nothin’ like that… Just…” Spike backpedalled, not quite able to identify what he was really feeling. He tried again, “It’s just… You’ll be OK… with him, I mean? And at the pool?”
Xander was a little taken aback, and was about to make an angry comment, but thought better of it as he recognized a mixture of worry and something akin to a possessive leer warring in the vampire’s expression. So instead the brunette took a chance and taking Spike’s shoulder, maneuvered him until they were chest to chest. He then looked him directly in the eye before kissing the rather surprised blonde hard.
Pulling back, he simply stated, “There, that answer whatever’s got you all wound up? I’ll be fine! …Look, I’ll see you back at home this afternoon like we said at breakfast, if that’s still OK, ye olde vampire of mine.” Xander smiled through the last statement and released the blonde. Spike took a moment to process what had just occurred and, looking a little abashed, mumbled, “Yeah… course…” He turned to head back into the room, Xander only just hearing the “’m not that old you prat.”
Richard and Xander departed shortly after leaving Spike to his own devices with the professor and three others.