Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Fitful Selves
By JainieG
For Charmin

He looks bad.

And he looks... well, bad.

A rushed-sounding call in the middle of the night and, as Buffy's bringing him back from the warehouse, I almost mistake him for some random victim guy she'd picked up on the way. If anybody ever had a talent for stumbling on random victims - if there was such a thing to start with - the Buffster would have it. But anyway ... back to this stranger.

Something in my gut lurches when the natty green blanket covering him from head to mid-thigh slips down off his head, revealing a shock of wet, blond hair. Peroxide blond. Platinum, An used to call it. But it's caked with dirt and blood, and it's all matted and just basically a mess.

Buff's got one arm around his waist and is holding his other arm, which is hooked around the back of her neck, by the wrist. She's not leading him or helping him; she's practically dragging him through my door, into my place and he's shaking like a junkie. His skin is bone white, and it looks like pieces of him would just break off if you even touched him.

He sways on his feet like a punch-drunk boxer, and I catch a glimpse of pale chest beneath the blanket. My eyes start moving downwards before I can stop them and land on his filthy jeans: covered in blood and grime and mud and God knows what else. His jeans and his boots are all he has left.

And his duster - the legendary duster ... but I have that.

What's green and white and red all over? A souled vampire who's just had the bejeezus tortured out of him by ... some thing, that's what.

There's a lot of different sayings that I could use, if the person suffering was in fact a person and not a vampire. I could say he looks like death, but - already dead. Same goes for 'death warmed over.' Basically anything with 'death' or 'dead' in it is out.

The only saying that might come close is 'you look like hell'... then again, that one seems a little redundant. The guy just got tortured by the First Evil. Or maybe one of the First Evil's lackey guys... I don't know.

I feel my stomach lurch painfully, bile burning the back of my throat when I see the marks on his chest. They're deep. Deeper than the ones Glory left behind. And there's ... there's angry pus-filled blisters at the edges of them, like something was put on them to keep them open. So... so he'd bleed more.

Okay, shudder time.

I hang back, long enough that Buffy can get him through the door, and then I shut and lock it after them. As soon as I'd hung up with her, I'd made sure to go in and close all the blinds in the living room - sunrise was already on its way by then -- so she could bring him in without him getting that extra special kind of toasty.

Although, at this point, I'm thinking extra toasty is nothing compared to what's happened to him the past two days. In fact, I think Spike might prefer it to being like this. I know it's not his fault - and I can't believe I just said that, but it's not - it's just so hard to look at him right now.

It looks like the Hellmouth with teeth Will is always talking about finally got him. Chewed him up and spit him out again.

His face is worse, too, than when Glory tortured him. It looks like five pounds of raw hamburger... shoved into a cannon and shot against a brick wall at close range.

For a second - for just half a second - I think to myself, Good. After what he did to Buffy, it's about time he knew what it felt like to hurt. Still, he looks so much worse than I could have imagined. And, for a second, I find myself thinking that maybe... maybe he didn't deserve this.

No. No. Evil dead guy. Killed hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people. Slept with your girlfriend - fiancee! Okay, ex-fiancee and even ex-girlfriend - ex-everything - now, but that's not the point. The point is. EVIL.

He just... he looks so bad.

"Xander." Buffy's voice is like a two-by-four right between the eyes, shocking me out of my own headspace.

"Yeah, Buff?"


"Huh?" I blink and shake my head, trying to clear away the fuzziness - not only from being woken up at such an insane hour of the morning again, but also from the shock of seeing Spike looking the way he looks right now.

"Blood, Xander. Does he have any blood here?" Buffy says again, and she sounds impatient, like she's not in the mood to keep repeating herself. She carries Spike into his room and gently lowers him down on the bed. He moves like every inch of him hurts, and as far as I can tell, every inch of him is hurt.

"Oh, uh... yeah. Yeah, it's in the fridge," I say, hovering in the doorway.

I always feel useless when somebody's hurt like this. I mean, I'm a man and I have big hands that can press down hard on wounds to stop them from bleeding, but Buffy's the slayer - she's stronger than me and can press harder. Will can heal somebody completely - so that you can't even tell they were ever hurt - with just the flick of one of her little hands. For me, it's always more work.

Buffy glances over her shoulder and glares at me in that Slayer-type way, like, Well? Why aren't you moving yet? I jump a little, still not fully awake, and trundle into the kitchen to heat up some blood. I hem and haw, trying to figure out how much I should fix. I don't know about vampire healing and never really wanted to know. I don't understand it, but Buffy wants him to be okay - I can tell just by the way she's being with him, how careful and gentle - so I've just gotta go with the flow.

I split the difference and heat up half of the blood in the fridge. Even then, it doesn't amount to much. I frown. He hasn't been eating much since he moved in here. No human food and hardly any blood.

It's not enough. Especially right now.

I heat up the remaining bags and pour it all into a big plastic coffee decanter to keep it warm. For a second, I feel queasy, when I really start to think about what it is I'm doing and who for. I take a deep breath and screw the top onto the decanter, then take it and a large mug into Spike's bedroom.

Spike is laying back on the bed, blanket spread out around him, every second of agony he's endured in the past 48 hours right there in front of me. I turn my eyes away for a second, swallowing hard. When I turn back and open my eyes, it's like I expect something to be different. Like I expect Spike not to be laying on his bed, bleeding everywhere and looking like he's just seconds away from crumbling into a heap of dust.

Like I expect Buffy not to be sitting there beside him and holding his hand with tears in her eyes. I want to say something, something I would have said before - before he got his soul, before he got used for a hellhound chewtoy - back when he tried to rape her. Something that... would have been more true. Then.

Still, I can't find any words. Instead I just kinda tiptoe into the room and place the decanter and the mug on the table. When I glance at Spike, I feel a faint chill when I realize... he's not moving anymore, he's not even shaking. He's just still. Buffy hasn't noticed it - or, if she has, she refuses to let on that she does, refuses to accept what it might mean - and she places his hand back down by his side on the bed. She doesn't acknowledge me, either, doesn't say thank you, doesn't say a word as she opens the decanter and fills the mug half full.

Placing the decanter back on the nightstand, she glances up and our eyes meet for just a second. Hers are blazing with determination and tears, but somewhere deep down in there, there's a very scared little Buff looking back at me. She turns her attention back to her patient, slipping a hand under his neck and lifting his head so that she can drip a little of the blood into his mouth. She and I both let out tiny sounds of dismay as we see it come streaming right back out one side of his mouth.

I think for a second I almost hear Buffy growl as she grabs a ratty old beach towel from the floor beside the bed and wipes his mouth off with a corner of it.

Uh-oh... now he's made her mad.

She wants to save him, and dammit, if Buffy wants to save him, he's gonna be saved. She's kinda stubborn like that.

She tries again, same result. Tries again, same. Spying the drops of blood getting spattered all over the pillow case every time he doesn't swallow, I can see this is quickly going to turn into a serious laundry situation, if he keeps up like this. The fourth time, though, turns out to be the charm, when we hear this wet choking/clicking sound and see his Adam's apple bob up and then down. A little raspy cough, and he's back. He's not out of the woods, yet, but at least we can get some blood into him now, so that he can heal. Buff and I both breathe a sigh of relief.

What? Okay, so I hated the guy. I'm not even gonna try to lie and say I didn't. But... things have changed. He's got a soul now. And yeah, I know, Angel had a soul, too, and I still hated him, but... the thing is, even if Angel had been human, I still would have hated him. He was like all of those jock guys at school, who all the girls mooned and crooned over and totally ignored me for. Cool and slick and everything I wasn't.

That would have been bad enough, only he managed to turn the Buffster's head like I never could.

Spike turned her head, too, but... even though we never really let him know it, Spike was a part of the team in a way Angel never was, never could have been. Spike let us get to know him. Sure, when we got to know him - unsouled-him, anyway - he was a prick, but at least there wasn't any mystery. With Spike, what you saw was what you got. And even though he's got the soul now, he's still the same, that way... at least I think so. These days, I don't really know who the hell he is. I don't think Buffy knows. Hell, I don't think he knows.

But, anyway, my point is - I feel for the guy. Wills said once, a long time ago, that we couldn't let Spike poof himself because we knew him. That it'd be icky or ooky or some cutesy little Will-word, but now I can kinda see what she means. We do know him.

I watch as Buffy smoothes Spike's matted hair off his forehead, revealing a deep, nasty cut, and I can't help but wince. I know him. I mean, it's not exactly like I'd miss the guy or anything, but... it'd be too weird, to see him die or get all dusty or whatever.

Buff manages to get one mugful into him and then another; halfway through the third one, he turns his head away, blood trickling over his cheek as the mug loses contact with his mouth. Buffy's lips press together in a thin line, but she doesn't say a word. She just wipes away the tiny splatter of blood with the towel, pulls the covers up over him, and stands.

Through the whole thing, he hasn't opened his eyes. Not once. Whether he can't... or won't, I don't know, but it's spooky.

"He's gonna need more blood," Buffy says, wiping her hands on her jeans.

"Sure, Buff," I say quietly, eyes moving fom Buffy to his face. I guess he's sleeping. Or he could be listening to every word we're saying; I don't know. It's not like we can tell if he's really sleeping or just playing possum.

"I don't know how long he's going to be like this, but he's gonna need a lot," she says, not really hearing me. "I can ask Will to go get some when she gets back from her classes, and I can go before work." She looks at me then, the determined light back in her eyes. "I need you to watch him."

"Yeah, sure, whatever you want," I nod, straightening up. The shock still hasn't worn off. At this point, Buffy could ask me to strip naked and streak around the construction site at the high school in broad daylight wearing nothing but my hard-hat and I would go along with it.

"He's not a prisoner, Xander," Buffy tells me firmly. "This isn't like... before. This isn't like that Thanksgiving when we tied him to a chair, this isn't like just a few days ago when we tied him up in my bedroom. He needs our help, and he's gonna get it." She stared down at him, arms folded over her chest. "Whether he wants it or not."


Over the next week, I put together a shiny new routine for myself. I get up, drain the lizard, brush my teeth, shave, and take a shower. Then, freshly scrubbed, I go into the kitchen and make our breakfast. Spike's and mine. Toast and coffee for me, at least three bags of blood for him. Buffy calls me almost every day, reminding me over and over again that he has to keep eating, that I have to make him eat if it looks like he isn't going to be any help. So, three bags in the morning and however many I can get into him after I get home from work, to make up for missing lunch.

Funny, but I've never even thought about whether Spike is a 'lunch' kinda guy. I mean, that time of the day, usually, he's sleeping. Well, most vampires it would be - for Spike, it's usually Passions time.

I wonder if vampires have some kind of nighttime equivalent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guess it's 'feeding time' any way you slice it.


Every day, Spike looks a little bit better. A few more of the bruises fade, and I can see that the cuts are healing over. His face is looking a little less like ground chuck, and I can see those killer cheekbones peeking through again.

I can tell he's getting better, but Spike isn't acting like someone who's getting better.

He's still shaking ... and he still won't open his eyes.

Buffy stops by every couple of days, usually on her days off, to see him. She'll sit with him for a while and hold his hand, talk to him like he's still in there somewhere. He shakes and snuffles and makes sleepy animal noises, but he won't talk to her.

She never stays for very long. And Dawn never tags along with her. It's hard enough for Buffy to see Spike this way, I guess; I couldn't even think about what it might be like if the Dawnster came over too. I know she's still mad at Spike because of the stuff I told her about what happened between her sister and Spike, but I can see the walls starting to wobble. Deep down, Dawn still cares about Spike, even after everything. And, really, the more I think about it, the more I realize that Dawn probably isn't mad at Spike for hurting her sister, the only family she has left in the world - although that's still a part of it - so much as she's still sore at him for taking off afterwards. The Summers sisters, complete with kung-fu grip and built-in abandonment issues.

For some reason, An refuses to come over and Spikesit while I'm at work during the day. I ask her why, and she just changes the subject - usually to something about money or my helping to rebuild the Magic Box for her. Wills is back on track at UC Sunnydale, but she's still on probation. She's too busy scrambling to keep her grades up to take care of Spike.

It seems like - apart from Buffy and I - nobody else really has the time to help him. But mostly, I guess, they just don't want to. After the whole crazy Manchurian Candidate retread, it was looking pretty bad for soulful Mr. The Bloody. Up until that point, it was no secret that I didn't trust Spike and didn't like him. Even after Buffy brought him back to her place. The same night he took her to that house and told her he'd killed all sorts of people and didn't even remember doing it.

But when I got that second late night call... and saw the bleached-blond heap of rags and bruises that was supposed to be my sorta-roommate, well... things were different after that.

That's not to say I put on a "Kiss the Carpenter" apron and flitted around, making pancakes with special blood syrup for him every morning. But... I'm just... not as mean to him, I guess. Call me crazy, but after what he'd been through, my smart-ass remarks would be in poor taste, at best... and, at worst, I'd get my ass whipped by a pissed off Buffy once she found out about it. Not my idea of fun.


A week went by, and I noticed that Spike's wounds had stopped healing. I didn't know if vampires could even get infections, but the cuts and burns were starting to look pretty nasty. Spike still hadn't opened his eyes or even spoken to anyone. When he slept, I could hear him whimpering and sobbing, balled up in the middle of the bed, covers all clenched around himself, begging in not-exactly-words for the pain to go away. The only problem was, the pain - or at least what caused it - had gone away, but the hurt inside hadn't.

The construction at the new high school is almost finished - just a few more small jobs that the guys could handle on their own without any high-falutin' supervision of the me kind - so I've decided to nab a few of my well-earned sick days.

It isn't, I tell myself, so I can play nursemaid to the sick little vampire. No. I'm taking a break. Copping a little R'n'R. Taking it easy, like the man of leisure I someday hope to be.

Okay, so I'm taking off work to watch Spike. Big deal. Like that means anything. I'm just doing it to make sure he doesn't wind up getting a burial courtesy of An's Hoover and to avoid getting my ass kicked by Buffy for letting him get that way.  

Those first few days after Spike had moved in, I'd taken to keeping a stake under my pillow, just in case. After the whole kooky First Evil brainwashing thing, I was patting myself on the back, all smug-like, glad that I'd known enough not to trust him, even with his fancy soul.

After Buffy brought him in just a week ago, I took the stake and put it in my night table drawer. Spike couldn't even walk on his own, let alone bite anybody - he did still have the chip, after all, and the Buffster had told me it still worked. So, nothing to worry about there. If he did try anything, the chip would go off, and all his shouting and swearing would be like my early-warning system. I'd have plenty of time to push him off, grab the stake, and jam it where it oughta go.

Now, I grip the stake in my hand as I sit by Spike's bedside, watching him. He's laying on the bed, perfectly still, one hand resting on his bare chest, the other lying limp at his side, eyes closed, like always.

I'm sitting here, feeling like that guy in that story by that raven guy - Poe. Yeah, that's the guy. He wrote that story. The one about the guy with the dead vulture eye and the kid who wants to kill him. The kid tries to creep into his room, but this little bit of light from his lamp falls on that dead eye and it just stops him, like a deer in headlights. And he just sits there, watching, waiting for something to happen. Kinda like I'm doing now. Good old Edgar described it better than this, though, I think.

Instead of staring at a dead vulture eye, I'm watching Spike's hand, the one on his chest. There are still marks on his wrists and arms where they tied him down - I don't know what they used to do it, but it left angry red stripes criss-crossing and intersecting all up and down his arms. There are chafe marks and scrapes on his one wrist, like it had come off some other person and just been stuck onto his arm and sewn there, like Frankenstein's monster. It doesn't move, doesn't twitch or shake, just sits there, looking like some broken-off piece of an ivory sculpture from some Italian museum.

It looks broken... and kinda sad, just sitting there... in a weird sorta way. Like the rest of him.

My own hand with the stake rests on my thigh, the cool, smooth wood fitted perfectly into my palm. It's one of my own personal stakes - sanded and polished, with a special textured grip on the end. Just something I've been fiddling around with. I thought I might show one of them to Buffy sometime, to see what she thinks. I mean, it's wood, right? Carpentry is what I do.

And I'm doing the old-school Willowbabble... in my own head. I guess it's better than thinking about Spike's hand or... Spike's anything else.

Compact, but well-muscled...

Eyes not roaming, not roaming.

A man shouldn't use immortality as an excuse to let himself go...

But he has. Let himself go. The washboard abs the Buffybot loved so much are pretty much history. Not that he's all flab and bloodbelly. No, he's just... softer.

Guess it kinda fits, what with the soul and everything.

And he'd so kick my ass if he heard me thinking that. But he can't do that - kick my ass - and not just because of the chip, either, anymore.

He has a soul. A soul he went and got himself... for Buffy.

The idea is still so 'wow' to me, you know? I mean, Angel had to get cursed to get his soul back, but Spike went and got his. He's putting himself through all this hell... for a girl.

I don't know whether it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard or the most romantic. He's either the biggest sucker, the biggest schmuck or... the biggest sucker and the biggest schmuck.

I guess it's not so bad. I mean... maybe I haven't given him enough credit. From what Buffy told me, Spike said it wasn't just a matter of going up to some demon guy and saying, "Sir, I'd like my soul back, please," like Oliver Twist or something. He had to fight for it.

I sit back in my seat and think about that for a few minutes. If An and I were still together, and I got vamped, would I go and get my soul back for her? How much would I have to love her?

All I have to do to know the answer to that question is to look at Spike - at his battered, torn down, newly-souled self - and the answer is: pretty damn much.

I look at him a bit more closely. It's been a few days since his wounds have been taken care of. The last time was when Buffy came to visit nearly four days ago. I don't know if it'll do any good, but God knows, at this point, it can't hurt.

Carefully placing my stake on the desk behind me, I go into the bathroom. I fill a small plastic bowl with water and grab a clean cloth and some antibacterial salve from the first-aid kit and head back into the bedroom. I take a seat on the edge of the bed, putting the bowl and the tube of ointment on the night stand and pull back the blanket draped around Spike's shoulders.

I dip the cloth in the cool water and dab lightly at the cuts on Spike's chest, working my way out in a circular fashion. He doesn't move or make any noise; if any of this is hurting him, he's not letting it show. Of course.

The water is tinted red as I dip the cloth into it again and wring out the excess. I wipe carefully at his collarbone, where there's an ugly purple and blue-ish, green-ish, yellow-ish bruise. It's just about the size of a fist... nearly the size of mine. I can practically see where each finger would be. My stomach grumbles, and I cover the mark with the cloth, putting it out of sight long enough for me to get my stomach back under control.

I'm leaning over him, now, washing the arm farthest away from me, trying not to press too hard and reopen the wounds or disturb the burns that look like they're finally starting to heal.

His face is looking a lot better. He looks about like he did after Glory had her fun with the Hellgod Torture Kit, but he still looks a lot better than he did a week ago. His face is mostly covered with bruises - not many cuts, like the rest of his body - but his lip was split and his nose was broken. Buffy managed to set it the night she brought him in - since there was no telling how fast it would heal. We didn't wanna leave it for a couple of days and wind up with him looking like Picasso-painting guy.

The split in his lip is still looking pretty gnarly, but it's not as swollen as it was when Buffy first brought him over. It still looks really tender. I wince in sympathy; I know I always hate it when I get split lips. A few months before, one of the guys on-site smacked me right in the kisser with a wooden beam, and my lip swelled up until it looked like the headrest on an inflateable pool cushion.

But yeah, his mouth... it... looks tender. Tender, but ... still... good.

And can somebody tell me why I'm kissing Spike? Anybody?

It's so light, even I can barely feel it - just enough so that I can feel the difference in temperature. He doesn't move, doesn't bolt up out of the bed, ranting about poofy Americans or whatever. I wish he would. 'Cause the more my lips rest against his, the more we keep on kissing - or, I guess, the more I keep kissing him - and the more I want to keep kissing him.

I can taste him... salty and sharp, like the tears guys always cry alone... and there's something else, like a copper penny on the tip of my tongue.

Blood. His. His blood.

When my brain finally figures that out, I jerk upright, and my elbow bumps against the bowl sitting on the night table. It damn near knocks the thing off. Water sloshes up over the side and goes all over the place. Cursing in my head, I wipe up the water and gather up everything in my arms. I empty the pink water into the sink and rinse out the bowl, then rinse the rag and throw it back into the bowl.

My hands are shaking.

I lean on the counter for a second and try to catch my breath. What just happened there? I mean, Spike's unconscious, so it's not like I was under his thrall or anything... right? I mean, they can't do that stuff in their sleep, can they? Shit. I don't know.

I see myself in the mirror - white as a sheet, eyes looking all wild and spooked and... there's a smudge of red on the corner of my mouth.


I grab a clean washcloth from the stack by the sink, soak it in hot water from the faucet and scrub. The smudge comes off as easy as you please, but... I can still taste it. I can still taste him and the blood - not his blood, he stole it or borrowed it or whatever. My tongue sneaks out and rubs over the place where it was just a few moments ago.

Shivering, I tear my eyes away from the mirror as I rinse out the washcloth and hang it over the hand towel rack by the sink. I rub at my eyes. I'm just tired. That's all it is... all it was. Just ... tiredness. Bed. Gotta go to bed.

I shut off the bathroom light and walk to my bedroom on shaky legs.

I lie down and stretch out, trying to get comfortable.

And when my hand reaches down to stroke my dick, I'm not thinking about Spike.

What?! I'm not!


Three days, and still no change. Spike hasn't moved or opened his eyes. He'll drink blood if you feed it to him, but he doesn't do much more than that.

Once he's all healed up - if he's still like this, by then - maybe I should see if he's all poseable like Dawn was when she got scratched by that Gnarl thing. He'd sure make an interesting piece of furniture... Spike, the big, bad coatrack.

Buffy keeps giving me this look. I don't know what it is. I mean, it's not like she could know about... no. It feels more like she's blaming me - like, why can't I do more, why can't I make him better?

I'm the Zeppo, though... remember, Buff? I can't do anything right. So why am I the one who has to make your undead honeypants better?

And when Buffy grabs the first-aid stuff and heads into Spike's bedroom to clean him up herself, I don't say anything. I just grab my briefcase and go into the living room to look over the plans for our next job, trying to look grateful that somebody else is watching the blond pest for a change.

The weird little twinge I feel in my stomach is just ... me, being hungry. For food. That's all.


It has nothing to do with the fact that I was going to clean Spike up, myself, tonight before bed. Or the fact that I'm still having mental reruns of that kiss. Nothing to do with any of that. Nope.


I put my weary bones to bed and lie there for what feels like hours, trying to ignore the almost painful hard-on tenting the sheets. I scrub my hand over my face and punch my pillow as I roll over onto my side, trying to get more comfortable.

It's funny... when he moved in this time around, it was just like before, I barely noticed him... but lately... I can feel him in the other room. Crazy, huh? I mean, how can you feel somebody who's not even moving, right? But I do.

Just knowing that he's there, in the next room - so close - no more than 25 steps away... it's... definitely not helping my hard-on.

I'm sick. A very sick Xander. Thinking about him like that - especially in the shape he's in right now - hell, thinking about him at all.

I'm up and leaning in the doorway of his room before I even realize I got up out of bed. I'm still so hard.

Seeing him there, lying in bed, naked under the sheets (and I know he is, because I was the one who took his clothes off so we could get a better look at his injuries), I think about walking in on him during his 'exercise' again.

I knew what he was doing - or, at least, I had a pretty good idea, even if I didn't know at the time that it was InvisiBuffy he was boning - but some part of my brain just refused to accept it. The way he moved when he... he moved. And it was so slow. With both of his hands flat on the mattress and I could see almost everything; even the white sheet covering him from the waist down didn't leave a whole lot to the imagination.

Then I had to go and ruin it by saying something. His name, I think. And he glanced over his shoulder at me and looked me dead in the eye, and something in me started to freeze and boil at the same time.

He stood up on the mattress, holding a snow sheet around his waist that almost matched the color of his skin, and I caught myself right in the middle of a stare. I was staring. At a half-naked - well, mostly-naked - vampire. And... I wasn't minding it so much.

I gave him the heads up about Buffy going all Claude Raines, trying to keep things all professional, and made a crack as I left about how he really needed to get himself a girlfriend.

Because girlfriends are good - they keep you occupied so that you don't get yourself in trouble... one way or another.

I sit down on the edge of the bed and just watch him for a while. My brain keeps nagging me, telling me that I'm some kind of perverted molester guy, like those crazy nurses that mess with their patients, and why can't I sit over in the chair; I can see him just as well if I'm sitting in the chair, can't I?

But the answer to that is very much a no. Because all the lights are off and I'm human, so I don't have the fancy nocturnal scopes like Spike does. So I have to sit closer. 'Cause, you know, I'm just making sure he's okay.

I really wish he'd... breathe or move or something. I don't know. Even his eyes aren't moving under his eyelids to let me know if he's sleeping or dreaming or wondering what kind of freak I am, just sitting here on his bed, watching him. Still, I almost kinda like him better this way; he's not being a snarky asshole and he's not talking the crazy talk of the crazy, he's just quiet. It's weird, but nice... in a weird way.

I'm a sick, sick man. Of course I think this as I'm leaning over him, telling myself I'm not leaning in to kiss him, I'm just... checking for REMs. Vampire REMs. Yeah. And it's just kind of an on-purpose accident type of thing as my lips touch his again.

Buffy was here earlier today and unless... no, won't say that - I remember the last time I said something that dumb, Spike came barrelling into town with Dru that first time - unless she calls or comes over for some reason, I'm in the clear. No interruptions.

God, this is so bad and so screwed up. What am I doing?

What is it they say again? It's best to let sleeping vamps lie? Well, nobody would ever mistake me for someone who takes the good advice... because I'm still kissing him. Only now, I'm making it worse, because it's getting a little more involved; my tongue's sneaking out and brushing against his lips again, looking for that tiny taste of something, of him. Pushing past his lips now - and what the hell am I doing? - coming up against the solid, slick barricade of his teeth. Maybe if I just... god, this is so wrong!

I cup his chin and gently open his mouth a bit, tilting my head to one side so that I can taste him more. That's all I want - just a little bit more and I'll be able to forget about this, forget that I ever wanted this, that any of this ever happened. And, I mean, the guy's unconscious! Bad and wrong, bad and wrong.

A couple of seconds later, I feel a heavy, room-temperature hand resting on the back of my neck, fingers gripping at my hair clumsily. Which I guess is to be expected, since he's been in a sorta-coma for the better part of nearly 2 weeks. That concept kinda zooms right over my head, though, in favor of, 'ack - Spike awake - kissing Spike - bad bad run away!' I move to sit up - to better facilitate the running away, you understand - when the hand, Spike's hand, tightens and keeps on tightening. It's almost to the point where I'm thinking that his chip's going to go off for sure any minute now, when I hear this growl. And then I feel his mouth opening under mine, tongue creeping out to touch my lips.

He pulls me down as he tilts his head up, and we're kissing, hard -- the right way, this time. It feels almost like my bottom lip is going to split any second, and then we'll match, but there's another growl, and he's pulling his mouth away from mine. Something in my head reminds me that I had to breathe and that he probably knew that, since he's probably screwed hundreds of humans, but then I think, well, the old Spike wouldn't be that nice. But maybe, though... maybe this Spike would? If so, thank you, new, nice Spike... thank you for letting me catch my breath.

He's nibbling and nipping and tease-biting along my jaw and down my neck. A hard nip right over my jugular makes me start and shiver; I lift my head up to tell him it's okay, but stop when I see his eyes.

They're yellow. Nearly-gone-into-gameface-here yellow. Fuck.

I let out a startled yelp, and something's changed here. His hands are gripping my shoulders, and it hurts. And I'm thinking, oh fuck - he's gone all killing machine again; and I can't stop looking at his face, at his eyes, and the words in that Poe story dance through my brain again, and, god, I wish he'd let go, 'cause this is really starting to hurt. Sleeping vamps lie, sleeping dogs lie, and don't you wish you'd stashed a stake somewhere in here, now, Harris?

"Spike, I'm..." I manage to get out. I'm what, though? Spike, I'm just cleaning your teeth - with my tongue - don't mind me? Spike, I'm just molesting you while you're injured and helpless? Ugh. Never mind with the 'I'm'...

But this means something... this means something. He's had his eyes closed ever since Buffy brought him back. Hasn't opened them even once. So that means... this whole time he's been...

... shaking...


... quiet...




Oh fuck.

I struggle harder, but I still can't tear my eyes away from his face, so when I see his lips start moving, I'm able to make out what he's trying to say.

"Kill me... kill me... killmekillmekillme..."

I can't - oh, god, I can't do this - no, I mean... no. I can't. All I wanted was - I don't know what all I wanted was, anymore, but I can't do this. Can't do that.

And he's still mouthing the words to me, even as he's trying to pull me down, get me close enough to bite, and he's shaking so hard it's shaking me, and my teeth are almost rattling. Talk about your mixed signals.

I look down and see his chest... with the marks still not healed... and I've got it. That's why he stopped healing. They bled him, and they probably weren't considerate enough to think about feeding their prisoner... sure, we've been drowning him in pig's blood and cow's blood since Buffy brought him back, but how much actual nourishment could there be in that stuff, really?

Soul or no soul, chip or no chip... he needs human blood.

And I'm not thinking what I think I'm thinking. I can't be. Hello, starving vampire vs. big Xander buffet - I think the scorecard's gonna read: starving vamp: 1, Xander buffet: 0. But he won't let go! And... well, maybe if I give him a little, he'll let me go long enough so that I can call Buffy and tell her and ask her to find some human blood somewhere.

I can just tell her that Spike came to and told me. No need to get into what led up to me figuring this all out. Nope.

I twist around as best as I can in Spike's steel-hard grip - geesh, for a half-dead undead guy you'd think he'd be a little weak or something - and lie down beside him on the bed, half on top of him, since he won't let me be any further away than that.

I turn my head to the side, baring my throat. The shaking starts to even out, and his grip is loosening, tightening, loosening, and one of his hands reaches up and cradles my head, the fingers of his other hand closing, opening, closing on my T-shirt as he pulls me down. Even with his eyes all yellow like that, I can see the 'no' in there, him begging me not to do this - not to let him do this - begging me to do something else instead... like stake him.

But I can't... well, because, hey, caught in the clutches of a vampire so hungry he's half-crazy - or, considering he was already pretty nutty to start with, mostly crazy - so I couldn't reach for a stake, even if there was one right next to me. But... I guess what it comes down to is... I don't want to. Buff told me what Riley told her about why he'd started going to those vampire girls and having them bite him. I never understood it before, but... now I think I do. Riley was just as lonely and confused and down as I am... as Spike is. But Spike is hurting right now, real bad... and I can help. I can help make it not hurt... at least for a little while. This is something I can do. Me. And some little something starts filling the holes in me again. This is something I can do.

I let myself go limp in his arms, my throat still bared, and brace myself. It happens so fast, all the breath goes wooshing out of me - I can swear I almost hear a crunch as he bites into me, like I'm this fresh, red, juicy apple. It hurts me and I wonder if it's hurting him, which I really hope it's not, because that kinda defeats the whole purpose of this thing.

It gets to the point where I'm ready to start trying to struggle again, because I don't think I can take this and it was a stupid, stupid, bad idea, really. But then... oh, god... and then...

It's better than a thousand of An's best blowjobs all rolled up into one, all at the same time... no, wait, better make that ten thousand of An's best blowjobs.

I can feel him pulling on me, drinking me, taking me into him, and I can feel every drop of me as I land on his tongue and fill his mouth, and he swallows me down. And my whole body is moving. I'm grinding against him, I think, but I can't feel my body; everything from my shoulders down is numb, but yet it's not, because I can feel my cock pressing against my shorts, and I'm so hard it hurts, and he's drinking my blood, and I'm dry-humping him like my life depends on it. When, really, it's his life that's depending on it.

His arms are around me, now, pulling me closer, pulling me so that I'm completely on top of him - to get a better angle at my neck, I guess. His right hand slides down and grabs my hip, holding me in place but letting me keep thrusting, while his left hand cups the back of my neck.

And... I'm starting to feel... a little woozy. Ohh... but ... who gives a shit about wooze when there's this? Who gives a shit about anything but this...?

I feel it building in the pit of my stomach, like a snowball rolling out of control down a hill. The feeling just keeps getting bigger, coming at me faster. I've still got all my clothes on, and he's hardly touching me at all and not even moving, so how the hell is he doing this?

I guess... it's not that he's doing this... it's that... we're doing this. I mean, don't get me wrong - this doesn't feel like love, this doesn't feel all gooshy and romantic or anything like that. It feels really, really good, yeah... and I may not ... hate him as much I did before... actually, right now, I kinda like Spike a lot, but... no love.

And I think I might be... oh, Jesus... oh, god... ohhhh, god... I'm coming, but I can't move. The way he's holding me, I can barely move, but he's letting me... he's letting me come. Letting me come on him, coaxing it out of me, pulling me hard against him when I moan, my hands flailing all over, trying to find something to hold onto. I grab the sheets under him on either side and I'm ... moving... like he moved. And I might not be able to feel my face, but I can feel the hot, sticky wetness on my stomach, in my shorts.

I hear him growl again down low and he's still ... holding me... and drinking. My entire body is starting to feel really heavy, now, but I can't really feel any pain anymore... it's just... kinda making me sleepy. It feels like I'm covered with sweat. I don't ever remember getting this sweaty, even when I first started working for the construction company. It's a good kind of sweaty, though, I guess.

Spike lets out one last, soft growl, and I feel every last centimeter of his fangs as he pulls them out ... and oww, what's up with that? I can feel my body again and my neck is all achy. Ugh. So far, not crazy about this part.

Riley should have been a guy and done me a guy's favor. Y'know, taken me aside before he left - or when he came back that one time last year - and said, "If you ever get bitten by a vampire, or actually want to get bit, it's gonna hurt." I mean, I know, I've been a Scooby for how many years now - I should know the getting bitten thing is gonna hurt, but... I never really have been before. Bitten, that is.

Spike's hands are moving again, and every last hair on my body prickles and sings hallelujah as his palms slide against my skin where it's bare. He takes hold of my shoulders and eases me off him. Dear old gravity takes over, and I slump over onto my back next to him on the bed, and hello, ceiling tiles. Lovely weather we're having, huh? So... is this the 'we just had sex' awkward silence, or the 'I just drank your blood' awkward silence or is it the 'we just had sex' awkward silence with the awkward conversation chaser?

It's bound to be that last one... and I don't think I can take this quiet stuff much longer. I glance over at Spike and almost gasp as I see the wounds on his chest closing right in front of me. Quick peek at his face, and all the damage there is healing, too.

And there's this tiny, almost kinda proud voice in my head saying, I did that. It was me he needed.

He's not shaking anymore. His eyes are open and they're still a little yellow, but that's fading now, along with all of the cuts and burns, leaving behind this soft, dark blue. He's staring up at the ceiling like I was just a second ago, but he doesn't have the kinda stunned, kinda happy look I feel on my own face right now. In fact, he looks kinda... worried, almost. It's too hard to tell; there's too much going on there - been too much going on there since he came back.

"You're welcome," I say, and my voice is barely a croak, so I doubt the snarky-but-not-mean-humor of it came across too clearly. Whoa, I can feel these weird aftershock-type things going through me when I talk, the muscles in my jaw and neck tugging at the sore tissues and skin around the bite.

"I love Buffy," he says, and his voice is just as melodious as mine is from being out of it for so long. He sounds almost like he's apologizing. I wanna laugh, I really do... but... I don't know. I'm too tired, and I've lost way too much blood to manage it.

I could also be a real snarky bastard, pull a standard put-down out of my hat and make him feel bad. There are a lot of things I could say to make him feel bad. Like, "Yeah. Flowers, candy, what girl wants that stuff? Violent assault on the bathroom floor, now that's how you win a girl's heart."

Like that.

But I won't.

Because now, I know better.

"I still love Buffy," he says with some effort, and I see what he's trying to get at. This isn't love or a pretty thing or the start of a 'special friendship' for him and me.

"I know," I say, eyes rolling back up to ceiling gaze with him.