Sandy Places Among the Angels

Part Three

Xander spent the next hour reading through Giles' paper and skimming more of his textbook. The paper had some interesting stuff in it, but it wasn't really applicable to the topic he'd chosen. It was weird, however, to see a paper written by Giles when he'd been almost Xander's age. For all the attitude the younger Rupert Giles had reportedly had, once he'd got into the meat of his paper he sounded as earnest and enthusiastic as he did now. The only thing that was different was the vocabulary. He'd used even *more* big words back then, than he did now.

Maggie had continued chatting with him for a bit after sending the paper, then signed off. Xander had no doubt she would be calling her son to check up on Xander, in a few days. It was kinda nice, knowing they were both worrying about him. It was even nicer to realise that he was taking it for granted, that they were.

When he'd finished the paper, he'd taken his textbook over to the couch and tried to read -- but every few pages his eyes would start to close. The last time he let them drift closed, he found himself waking up with a start when someone knocked on the door. He dumped the book on the floor and staggered upright, rubbing his face as he headed for the door. His brain felt like putty. When he unlocked and opened the door and saw Giles standing there, he smiled and leaned into him, wrapping his arms around Giles' waist. He closed his eyes and felt himself slipping back towards sleep.

He felt Giles' familiar chuckle rumble through his chest, as his arms enfolded Xander in a warm embrace. Xander smiled, and settled in. A few seconds later his brain woke up, and he realised he was standing in the doorway. "Hi?"

"Hello." The undercurrent of laughter was still in Giles' voice. "Can I come in?"

"Mm-hm," Xander replied, but didn't move. He was warm, and could probably go back to sleep if Giles didn't say anything for a few minutes. "I was asleep."

"I had gathered that." He hesitated then added, "Perhaps I should've waited until tomorrow--"

"No!" Xander straightened up, and took half a step back. "Now's good. I just fell asleep on the couch, studying." He realised he'd taken a hold of Giles' arm when he'd otherwise let go of the hug. He loosened his grip, then let go, and had to fight the temptation to grab on again. He took another step backwards. "You can come in," he said, feeling utterly lame about the invitation.

Giles did so, stepping inside and then, after a brief moment looking at Xander, opened his arms and invited him back into a hug again. Xander actually didn't move right away. There was nothing more he wanted than to resume Giles-embrace, but he felt guilty. He'd just dragged Giles all the way down to LA -- for what? Because he'd got homesick? He watched as Giles' expression turned concerned. "Xander?"

"I'm sorry," he stammered. "About making you come down all this way. I know it isn't *that* far or anything..."

Giles closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around Xander again. "Don't apologize. It gave me an excuse to do exactly what I've been wanting to."

He didn't fight the hug -- he wasn't completely stupid, even if he did feel badly. "I know I'm not supposed to need this -- I mean, actually make you come down. All part of the moving out and being a real grown up thing."

He knew Giles didn't expect him to stop wanting regular hugs. But he wasn't supposed to actually make Giles drive for two hours to hand them out. It made him feel like he wasn't really ready to be on his own -- because this felt really, really good, and he didn't want to let go.

Giles was saying, "Who says you're not supposed to need this? Everyone needs to feel like they belong somewhere."

Xander didn't *want* to do this without Giles. But he had to, and he hated the way it made him feel like a four year old not wanting to let go of daddy's hand. Even if, at age four, holding daddy's hand hadn't really been high on his list of things he'd wanted to do. "I'm supposed to belong here. I'm supposed to... do this without you." His voice had dropped until, by the last words, he said them so quietly that all of his bewilderment was showing clear as day.

"Dear lord, I hope not."

That startled him. "Wha--?"

"I'm not ready for you not to need me anymore." Giles met his gaze steadily and Xander could see the honest emotion there.

"Me either," Xander admitted. "But... that's why I moved out, right? Time to grow up and all that?" Xander frowned, and hesitated to just forget it all and dive back into Giles' arms.

"Growing up doesn't mean you can't ask for a hug when you need it."

"Not long distance," Xander said dryly. But his hand twitched. "I didn't... really need one," he added, though he knew he didn't sound very convincing.

He did. And he still did. He moved forward.

"I need one," Giles said quietly.

Xander slipped his arms around Giles, and hugged him tightly. "That's all right, then," he said, trying for a light tone, and failing miserably.

"Good." He hugged Xander back just as tightly.

Xander didn't try to move this time. He still felt bad, but he wasn't going to let go until Giles told him to. Or until his arms fell asleep. He looked at the still-open front door, and was glad that they'd at least got inside the apartment. If barely.

Giles followed his gaze and smiled. "Er, perhaps we should..."

Xander tightened his grip, without thinking. Then he felt silly. He didn't let go, but he did let himself keep feeling silly about it.

Chuckling, Giles manoeuvred them so he could reach out and shut the door without letting go.

"It's gonna be tricky to order the pizza from here," Xander remarked. He didn't even try to let go, and he decided he would stop feeling self-conscious about it. Giles had never chided him for needing a hug -- and now that he had one again, he didn't know how he'd forgotten that. "I love you," he whispered.

He felt Giles go absolutely still at that, then hug him even tighter. "I love you too."

Xander's insides went completely gooey, and he couldn't hold back a smile. He didn't understand why Giles had reacted so strongly, though. It wasn't as if... Oh.

It was.

Now Xander tensed, going absolutely still. "I didn't mean... to not say it before now," he whispered.

"I knew how you felt," Giles reassured, in the same soft tone.

"I know. I just... sorry I didn't ever say it." The feeling of guilt rose again; that he had never even noticed, hadn't even tried to start saying it. Now that he was thinking of it, though, he felt like if he tried to say it again he would choke on his tongue. He pressed his face against Giles' shoulder and wondered, briefly, if they would make it out of the entryway that night.

"You said it in ways other than words."

"By burning down my bedroom?"

"By trusting me."

Xander found himself relaxing, and he shifted his grip so it no longer seemed quite so desperate. "Thanks," he finally said, after being unable to think of anything else.

He felt Giles nod, his face brushing against Xander's head as he did so. "Do you think we can go sit down now? Or lie down?"

"Yeah." Xander let go, moving away, but keeping a hold of Giles' arm, this time. He led Giles out of the entryway, then glanced down. "You don't have a bag?"

Giles' expression turned chagrined. "It's still in the car."

Xander laughed, once. "In a hurry?" He grinned, though, unaccountably glad. Not that he would have noticed if Giles had taken an extra five minutes to get upstairs, asleep as he'd been. He kept heading for the bedroom, anyhow.

"Well, distracted maybe," Giles admitted, willingly allowing himself to be tugged along.

"Maybe I should plan this with more warning next time," Xander suggested, almost sheepishly. Almost, because they'd reached the bedroom and he wanted to lie down and get a cuddle. That made him anxious, though, and he tried to ignore it.

"I... uh... actually had the bag already in the car. Just in case."

Xander stopped. He looked over his shoulder, completely unsure if he was touched, or offended.

Giles was avoiding his eyes. "I liked knowing I could come down here at a moment's notice."

Touched. Definitely touched. Xander gave Giles' hand a squeeze. "Still OK if I give you more warning next time?"

"Give me as much warning as you want. But it isn't necessary."

"That work the other way, too?" As he asked, it occurred to him that he *could* have. Gone up to Sunnydale, instead. He wasn't exactly sure now, why he hadn't thought of going.

"You're welcome home any time," Giles replied softly. "You know that, I hope."

"Yeah, I know." He hadn't hesitated to make plans to go home for Thanksgiving, at any rate. Why hadn't he just driven up any weekend he'd wanted? Other than Spike not going with him, and always having something to help Angel with.

He decided that right now it didn't matter. Giles was here, he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, and figuring out his own head really wasn't as important.

Giles was looking at him closely. "You look tired. Have you been getting enough sleep?"

"I'm in college. I'm supposed to sleep?" He pulled Giles right to the bed, then let go of his hand. Xander kicked off his shoes and crawled onto the bed.

"Oh dear," Giles murmured, removing his jacket and then sitting on the edge of the bed to remove his shoes.

"Geez," Xander groused. "First you expect me not to go to bars, now I have to get sleep. Next you'll be wanting me to turn in history papers on time." He lay on his side, hand curled under his cheek. He would have been able to fall right to sleep if his heart would just stop racing.

Giles laid down beside him. "Now that you mention it..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. You and Doyle." Xander reached back to grab Giles' arm, though it didn't seem strictly necessary to encourage him to hurry up and cuddle.

But Giles didn't make him wait, moving to hug him again. "Doyle's the one with the visions?"

"Mm-hmm." Xander closed his eyes. This was fantastic. Better than Spike snuggles, which always involved -- Xander wrenched his thoughts away. Not that there was anything wrong with cuddling leading to things he wasn't going to think about, but it was nice to just cuddle. Without things he couldn't think about with Giles *anyhow*, so there was no point thinking about them.

Thinking aside, this was nice.

Very nice.

"And he's after you to do your homework?"

"He used to teach third grade."

"And now he works for a detective agency owned by a vampire." The undercurrent of laughter made Giles' voice richer.

"Yeah. Talk about coming down in the world. Or coming up? Are third graders more annoying than vampires?" Xander couldn't really remember third grade, and he was pretty sure he'd had a different view of eight year olds when he'd been eight, anyhow.

There was a long pause. "I have no idea. I'm not all that familiar with third graders."

"Really? But don't you... I mean, you've got nieces and nephews and cousins. Before you moved here, didn't you ever see 'em?"

"I saw, them, yes, but not for any length of time."

"Why not?"

"Children never seemed all that comfortable around me."

"Really?" Xander couldn't believe it. He'd never felt uncomfortable around Giles. He couldn't imagine feeling otherwise, as a child. "Where you that much different?"

"Different than what?" Giles asked with some humor.

"Well... than you are since you got here. None of us were ever uncomfortable around you... well, except when we were trying to avoid getting lectured about something. But-- why wouldn't any little kid want to be around you?" Xander heard the slight rise in his tone, and could feel the whine building. Those kids who could have known him when they were little, and hadn't wanted to. Xander hadn't even known anyone like Giles when he'd been little, and would have loved having an Uncle or cousin or whoever, like him.

Giles didn't answer right away, unless you counted tightening his embrace as an answer. Xander lay there silently, as well. Feeling the weight of Giles' arm, and the press of his body behind him. It was like being wrapped up in cotton-covered steel. He never felt like this anywhere but here -- nothing made him feel quite so safe and quite so loved, as Giles holding him this way.

He grinned as a thought occurred. "Uncle Ripper." He laughed, once. "That may have been part of the reason they weren't so comfortable around me." He could hear the smile in Giles' voice.

"But I bet you could have made them behave." He pictured Giles -- Ripper, rather, standing in the middle of the room, looking stern at a group of small children. Hmm. Actually, no, he couldn't see them behaving. He could see Ripper turning them into inanimate objects, though, when they didn't obey.

He thought about asking something else -- something about Giles and his youngest cousins, but he couldn't quite catch the thought. Grandmum had said something, recently, about one of them and Xander wanted to know...

A moment later he opened his eyes and discovered that the sun had risen.

Behind him he could hear Giles' even breathing, letting him know that his guardian was still asleep. Xander was grateful he'd realised he was being cuddled by someone with body heat, before reflexively turning over to give Spike his good morning kiss. He laid still, enjoying the novelty of being the first one to wake -- waking up with Giles still here, rather than up and out of bed and gone, leaving Xander alone. It only took another second to realise exactly why that was a bad thing, and he very carefully tried to remove his guardian's arm so he could slip out of bed.

Giles murmured something incoherent that sounded disappointed, but didn't wake. Xander moved carefully and slowly, and eventually he was able to sneak out of the bed without waking Giles up. He hurried towards the bathroom, doing his very best not to trip or run into a door and end up waking up Giles anyhow.

Once he had the safety of the closed bathroom door between them he allowed himself to relax, leaning back against the wood, trying to slow his heartbeat. There were reasons he loved cuddling with Giles, and reasons he loved sleeping through those cuddles.

On the other hand, there were reasons to prefer waking up with Spike. He decided maybe it was a good idea if he took a shower before Giles woke up. A cold shower.

~~~~~

Spike was probably not trying to be annoying, Xander knew. When he *was* trying, it was perfectly clear that Spike was being annoying. There was never any doubt in Xander's mind when Spike was trying to be annoying. When he wasn't trying, it wasn't always clear that he was annoying -- sometimes he was just exasperating, but cute. Tonight, though, Xander had no idea if it were intentional -- and therefore he wasn't sure if he should just ignore Spike, be annoying back, or give in to the rather obvious invitations to stop whatever else Xander was doing, and have sex.

Xander was determined to ignore him, regardless, for at least another half hour -- because he'd asked Spike to come by at seven, and here it was six thirty and Spike had been at Xander's apartment for twenty five minutes already. At the moment, he was lounging on the couch, acting like he really cared what was on the television.

Xander was determinedly not looking at him, reading the chapters he had to have done for class the next day. Or at least that's what he was trying to do. He'd read the same sentence now ten times and it still hadn't stuck in his brain. He realised he was too busy ignoring Spike to concentrate.

There was the click and change of noise patterns every few seconds, that showed how bored Spike was with the cable's offerings. But he wasn't saying anything, which was at least slightly odd. Normally Spike would criticize the programming, for his own and Xander's entertainment. He couldn't possibly be trying to let Xander study?

Xander continued to try to study for another five minutes but finally lowered the book with an exasperated sigh. "Okay, give. What's up?"

Spike looked at him, with an expression of sincere surprise.

"Don't look at me like that. What are you up to?"

"Watching telly?"

Xander growled.

"What?" Spike pressed a hand to his chest, in sheer aggrieved innocence. "I was! Well, not anything in particular, if that's what you mean?" He sounded confused. Actually confused, and not pretend-confused-because-it-will-wind-Xander-up.

"You come over early to just sit there and not pester me?" Xander asked, the question not carrying as much sarcasm as he had intended.

Spike looked like he'd just swallowed a laugh. Then he smiled, obviously trying to look innocent again. "You've been after me to leave you alone while you studied, well, all semester."

"Which you've never done."

"Yet," Spike pointed out. "Until now, I mean."

"Which is my point." Xander thought that under the circumstances he was being quite calm and logical. "Why now?"

"Finally trained?" Spike offered, with one eyebrow raised. He was fiddling with the remote, absently, as though he was just waiting for the conversation to end so he could go back to surfing channels.

Xander snorted. "Yeah, like that's ever going to happen." He watched Spike for a moment, the fidgeting with the remote beginning to get to him. "Did you just come over to watch my tv?"

"No." Spike fidgeted a bit more, then set the remote down beside his leg. "You said 'seven o'clock', though. Not seven yet." He made it sound perfectly rational.

But Xander was sure he wasn't the crazy one in the room. At least not the only crazy one. "Pretend it is, if that means you'll actually talk to me."

Both eyebrows went up. "You don't want to study?" Spike jumped up from the couch, but didn't walk over. Instead he stood there, waiting. Probably waiting for Xander to say he'd been kidding.

Instead Xander put aside the book and stood as well. "It wasn't working anyway."

Spike grinned and hurried over. He looked like a little kid who'd been told he was getting ice cream. "What were you reading, anyhow?" Spike asked, right before he kissed Xander.

"Just a book Giles gave me last weekend," he replied a bit breathlessly when Spike let his mouth go.

There was the smallest amount of hesitation, before Spike kissed him again, hungrily. Xander thought that was something he should follow up there but with the way Spike was kissing him, thought was swiftly disappearing. Spike pulled back suddenly, and looked at him in eyes fading to grey -- one step before gold. "So, bed before books?"

"Muh?"

"Bed? Books?" Spike asked, patiently. "Unless he wants his book back tomorrow?"

"Who?"

"Giles." He said it flatly, as he leaned in to kiss Xander again.

But Xander pulled back, something in Spike's expression or tone kickstarting his brain. "Is there a problem with Giles?"

"What? Course not," Spike scoffed. But his tone was clearly not sincere. Xander was completely familiar with this tone.

"Let me rephrase that. What problem do you have with Giles?" His stomach was clenching in a not nice way, but he didn't back down.

Spike didn't answer. He didn't look right at Xander, either, the way he did when he didn't care what they were talking about, or when he knew he was right.

"Spike?"

"What? So I don't care for him -- when did I ever say I did?"

Spike put his hands on Xander's waist, and tried to kiss him. But Xander pulled back, his stomach clenching even worse. "You never said you didn't."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Oh, relax. I just meant... I like him fine. As much as a vampire can like his boyfriend's Watcher-father."

"But you have a problem with him."

"Um?" Spike half-smiled. He looked about to say something that Xander knew would make him want to hit Spike, or throw him out after yelling a lot. But then Spike just shrugged and looked away. Which meant that whatever it was, it was serious and not just Spike being annoying.

Mutely, Xander reached out and briefly touched Spike's cheek, not being able to find his voice to ask. Spike said quietly, "Just thought he wouldn't be around so much, once we got down here. I'd finally have you to myself."

Xander swallowed hard. "You make it sound like you're in competition."

Spike looked at him, levelly. "And who did you ask not to come 'round, because someone dropped in *unexpectedly*?" There was more than that accusation in his voice.

Anger flared, overshadowing all the other uncomfortable feelings. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"What d'you think it means? Every time he calls, or comes down, I'm supposed to just disappear. Not even come round until you say it's safe, that he's gone." Spike narrowed his eyes. "Have you ever told him 'not now' because you wanted to be with me?" Spike's tone was hard, but missing an edge of anger.

"I-- If Giles knew about us--"

"Yeah. If he knew." Spike shook his head and stepped away.

"Do you think I want it this way?" Xander demanded, emotion making his voice sharp. "Do you think I like having to hide?"

"So why hide? He *knows* you have a life outside of him. I'm not saying you tell him 'gosh, love to visit, but I've got to go shag a vampire', moron. I'm just saying you could tell him you've got *something* else to do. Rather than assume I've nothing better to do than sit around and wait for you to decide it's time to see me."

Xander stared at him for a long moment. "You're jealous."

Spike looked surprised. "Of course, dimwit! You profess all sorts of... well, actually, you haven't ever professed *anything*. But you act like you'd rather be with Giles, than me -- I'm supposed to just enjoy being seconds you settled for? You think I'm desperate, or something, put up with it because it's better'n hunting after Dru?" His voice dripped sarcasm, and anger -- but inside it, Xander heard the hurt.

"Spike..." He took a step towards the vampire, reaching out, but not quite bringing himself to touch again.

Spike pulled away at the last moment. He sneered, and waved Xander off when he would have tried again.

"You're not second," Xander said quietly. That much he could get out, he wasn't sure if he could articulate any of his other feelings.

"Yeah. I'll make a note of that." Spike still didn't turn back to him.

"I-- You're -- I..." He took a deep breath and tried again. "I care about you. You have to know that."

"Right. Well, good, glad we cleared that up," Spike said, as sarcastically as possible. He started to head back to the couch.

Frustrated, Xander snapped, "What do you want from me?!"

Spike glanced at him. "I want you to answer a question. If Giles phoned, said he wanted to talk -- what would you tell him?"

"I..."

Spike's mouth hardened, and he nodded. "Yeah." He went back to the couch and flopped down in it, grabbing up the remote.

Xander bit his lip, but doggedly tried to explain. "Giles is... important. He's my family. But you--"

"Aren't. Didn't think I was." Spike was flipping through channels again, arm held out in front of him, pointing the remote like a pistol.

"I didn't say that! Look, would you put that damned remote down?!" He walked over and grabbed the remote from the vampire.

Spike just looked up at him, his body language saying he was uninterested. The burning in his eyes, though, said he was.

"Giles is my family," Xander repeated, not looking away from those eyes. "But you... you're my... You moron, I love you!" The words came tumbling out and Xander felt his heart stop when he realized what he'd said.

Spike looked shocked. Eyes wide, mouth open, the expression on his face was almost absurd -- if it weren't for the knowledge of how Xander had made that look appear. "You--" was all Spike was able to say.

Xander couldn't say it again; it had only slipped out the first time because he hadn't really been thinking about it. It seemed that was the only way he could ever say it to the people he truly loved. But he nodded and made a sound that he hoped could be taken for affirmation. Spike blinked, and some of the shock faded. He still looked surprised, but at least he looked as though he wouldn't topple over from the unexpected declaration.

Then Xander saw a tiny, nearly invisible, flicker of Spike's lips. "What?" Spike asked, less of a demand than, as Xander suspected, a way to prevent his mouth from falling into the delighted, dopey grin Xander could see trying to escape anyhow.

"I..." His voice cut off. Nope, still couldn't say it. But he could think it as loud as he could.

But Spike didn't seem to mind. He stood up, and faced Xander, letting the remote fall as if he hadn't even remembered he'd been holding it. He didn't walk over -- he was standing with his weight all on one foot, as if he were about to step forward and just hadn't decided it was the right time, yet. But the tiny, tiny smile was playing about on his lips, again, and his eyes were dancing with delight.

Xander couldn't ever remember seeing a *delighted* Spike. He gave the vampire a tentative hopeful smile in return. In the blink of a human eye, Spike had bounded over and had his hands on Xander's hips. His eyes seemed to be bouncing along with the rest of him, up and down on the balls of his feet, raising himself to Xander's height before dropping again, before rising again.

Xander couldn't keep from laughing at the hyper vampire pressing against him. "You want something?"

"No." Spike's voice was eerily controlled, given how thoroughly his entire body seemed to be vibrating. He did lean forward, though, and touched the tip of his nose to Xander's.

"You sure?"

"Yep." He sounded smug. Or giddy, or something. He pressed his nose to Xander's, again, then asked, "You really do?"

Xander nodded, shyly meeting Spike's eyes.

That seemed to spark a flow of hyper-speed babbling. "'Cause I think I only said it once or twice, myself, and I'm pretty sure you didn't hear me the first time since I had your legs in the air when I said it but I do, too, only I figured you wouldn't want to hear it since the whole you, human, me, vampire, thing was gonna freak you out even more and Angel says that vampires don't feel things like humans do but he's full of it like always but I thought, well, I figured--"

He stopped, and Xander had a moment to marvel that when one didn't have to breathe for more than pushing air across the vocal chords, one could *really* babble at length. It also made him think that he and Spike had been together a long time, because Spike was sounding eerily like *him*.

"I do," Spike said. "Love you. Too. I do. Even though I'm a demon and all that rot," he added, dismissively.

"I know," Xander replied, finding himself smiling widely and reaching for his lover. "I know you do. And I did hear you the first two times," he added, Spike's words jogging a memory that he had *almost* convinced himself was wishful thinking.

"You did?" Spike's eyebrows climbed halfway up his forehead.

"Yep." Still grinning he leaned in to rub noses again.

"Must not have been doing it right," he replied, suggestively. Then, though it was entirely redundant, he rubbed his groin against Xander's.

"You can always try it again," Xander replied, pressing back.

"I could. Perhaps I ought -- apparently I need practice." He ran his hands lightly down Xander's back, and pressed his hips forward -- almost enough.

"Practice makes perfect," Xander quipped back.

Spike gave him a half-lidded look. "You're saying it's not been perfect yet?" There was a low rumble in his tone that made Xander shiver.

"Hmmm..." He made a show of considering. "Hard to say."

"Perhaps," Spike said, then he leaned in to give Xander's collarbone a slow lick. "You need a reminder." He looked at Xander again, and his eyes were dilated and definitely no longer bouncing.

~~~~~

He'd been half-hard already, but that look brought him to full arousal in all of a second. He moaned and grabbed onto whatever part of Spike he could, his head falling back in a gesture of surrender, his body begging, 'Yes, please, ravish me,' loud and clear.

He felt the touch of Spike's tongue on his throat, and shivered again. It was only the tip, and it moved slowly upwards, towards his chin. Spike's hands were flat against his back, now, and Xander was pretty sure Spike was the one holding him up. Then Spike's mouth was covering his, hard and bruising and he whimpered into the demanding kiss.

Spike's hands began sliding upwards, wrinkling his tshirt and exposing the small of his back. Spike moved one hand, pressing it right on Xander's spine, and held it there -- and held Xander there. He kissed a line back down Xander's throat, slow, lingering kisses on his skin that seemed to pull at every nerve ending. Xander's knees were threatening to give out and he grabbed onto Spike's arms.

Spike pulled at him, and suddenly he was in Spike's arms and they were moving towards the hallway. The sensation of being carried was disorienting. He wrapped his arms around Spike's neck and leaned up searching for Spike's mouth to kiss again. He found it, found Spike's tongue pressing against his as he opened his mouth. Spike seemed to stumble a bit, as he walked, then he was lowering Xander to the bed, and leaning over him.

Xander tightened his grip, pulling Spike down on top of him, still kissing him. Spike moved readily, holding himself slightly above Xander, bracing his weight with his hands and knees on either side of Xander. It created a feeling of being caged in.

The thought made him impossibly harder, being surrounded and held by Spike. He arched his hips up seeking more contact. Spike moaned, and lowered himself, touching Xander everywhere he wanted to be touched. Almost perfect -- though there were too many layers between them. Spike didn't seem about to stop kissing him, though, to undress either of them.

He did his best to remedy that, fingers fumbling with buttons and zippers. Spike lifted himself up, just enough to let Xander's hands move inbetween their bodies. He didn't stop his oral exploration of Xander's mouth, chin, neck, collarbone... any place he could reach, as soon as Xander pulled clothing out of the way. Xander got both of their jeans open but started to lose focus after that under his lover's attentions.

He could feel Spike kissing him, and touching him -- fingers, once, most often just the full touch of his body. There was enough bared skin that it was only Spike he could feel, and ignore the occasional brush of denim or the metal scratch of an open zipper. He was losing himself in a world of Spikeness: taste, touch, sound, all of his senses were overwhelmed by his lover.

Spike was moving against him, rhythmically, now. Pushing with his hips, sucking at Xander's neck, then earlobe, then lip, all as though designed to make Xander lose his mind as quickly as possible. Spike was making a noise, deep in his chest, which sounded half-growl, and half something Xander could not identify. Not without concentrating, and he couldn't quite manage, as Spike leaned down again and brushed his erection alongside Xander's.

The sounds coming from Xander's own mouth were things he'd deny being capable of making at any other time than this. But right now they were right and good because they were encouraging Spike to keep touching him.

And if they weren't, if Spike would keep doing it anyhow, then it didn't matter because Xander wasn't sure he could stop. Not when every new touched wrung his body like an electrified proverbial dish-towel, sparks flying as Spike wound him tighter.

There was another bump of cock on cock, and Spike inhaled sharply.

"More," Xander managed, surprising himself with still being capable of speech.

Spike responded instantly, pressing himself down, rubbing hard, and fast, and placing his mouth on Xander's neck and sucking. He felt Spike's tongue, and the vaguest impression of something else before Spike lifted his head and laid it against Xander's shoulder. He reached between them and wrapped his hand around his and Xander's cocks -- not quite distracting Xander from noticing the press of ridges on his skin.

Where once such evidence of Spike's losing control would have frightened him, now it was just another turn-on. He raised a hand to Spike's head, urging him to look up. "Don't hide," he ordered when his lover's yellow gaze met his own.

Spike just looked at him silently -- his expression hard to read, through golden eyes and ridged brow. But that was only because Xander saw it so rarely -- and that was what he wanted to see. Spike moved his head down, a fraction, towards Xander. Without hesitation Xander raised his head, meeting Spike's mouth halfway.

Spike moved his tongue into Xander's mouth quickly, as if thwarting any attempt of Xander's to get his own tongue into Spike's mouth -- where he would feel the fangs. He didn't have much chance to protest, though, as Spike began moving his hand, again, and all Xander's awareness seemed to flee to the length of his cock. Xander's hips bucked upwards and he sucked greedily on Spike's tongue, still wanting more.

Spike's hand tightened its grip, moving more quickly as he pulled upwards with each buck of Xander's hips. He could feel Spike pulling away, breaking off the kiss and disappearing somewhere.

"No--" Xander protested, reaching for Spike.

Spike groaned, and shifted, and there was another level of pressure on Xander's cock, and Spike's body was otherwise utterly still above him, for one heartbeat.

Then there was a sharp, searing pain in his neck. Xander's orgasm rushed through it, his cock in Spike's hand a mere afterthought. It went on and on, each pull at his throat making the pleasure peak yet again. Spike's body was slamming against his, until all at once Spike latched onto him with both hands and the pull at his neck was abruptly gone. Spike's head was flung back and he howled.

On the very tips of his fangs, Xander could see bright drops of blood.

It took a moment for his brain to start functioning enough to make the connection. When it did, he numbly brought a hand to his neck, feeling a sting when he pressed fingers against his throat and seeing blood on them when he pulled them away.

Spike had bit him.

Spike didn't move, for a long moment -- frozen in the last of his orgasm, as if someone had snapped a photo -- or, Xander revised, liked they'd carved him out of stone in this one second of his life. He seemed totally unaware of anything, until he leaned forward and fell, slowly, on top of Xander. His face landed on Xander's shoulder, and he felt the shifting of Spike's features back to human. Spike, otherwise, did not move.

Neither did Xander. He lay absolutely still, one thought echoing over and over in his head. Spike had bit him.

Spike had *bit* him. And Xander was wondering why he wasn't freaking out.

Spike continued to lie very still, as still as only a vampire could. Or so Xander assumed, he'd only ever lain in bed with Spike, had only ever seen him lying so still Xander didn't know if he'd somehow been replaced with a wax dummy.

Xander lay there quietly not freaking out and waited for Spike to move. It occurred to him that Spike could lie still longer than he could -- but that was all right. Eventually Spike would notice Xander was just waiting for him.

As soon as he had the thought, Spike raised his head, slowly. He looked at Xander, with almost no expression on his face. The only thing Xander could see, was the barest flicker of fear -- and hunger -- in the depths of his eyes. It occurred to Xander as he stared back, that he should've been afraid himself. But he wasn't. He wasn't exactly sure why he wasn't, but he wasn't.

Something in his lack of freaking out must have finally sunk into Spike's awareness, and his expression changed, slightly. Still fear, still hunger, but the merest arcing of one eyebrow that invited Xander to go ahead and say something.

"You bit me."

"And you're not staking me," Spike replied. He sounded confused, but like he expected Xander to do so, just as soon as Spike got off his arms and let Xander get at the bag under the bed.

Xander blinked. "I wouldn't--"

Spike went all motionless, again. He stared at Xander, eyes gone blue again. In fact, the only reminder of Spike's change was the drop of blood still on his bottom lip, right beside his now-blunted teeth. With fingers that were almost steady, Xander reached up and wiped that drop of blood away. *His* blood. Spike's tongue flickered out, reflexively, and Xander felt it touch his finger as he brought it away. Spike licked his lip, though, and for a split second his eyes turned gold.

A tremor went through Xander's body at the sight, but it wasn't fear, wasn't even remotely related to fear. Spike's eyes went wide, and his mouth opened slightly. Xander could feel him move, a bit -- finally, breaking the full-body spell of motionlessness. It wasn't much, just a short movement towards Xander, a slight press of his groin against Xander's, and there was unmistakable evidence that Spike was very interested in Xander's reaction.

Xander lifted his head, seeking Spike's mouth, kissing him, the coppery taste of his own blood sliding across his tongue and he shivered again. "Spike..."

"Mmm?"

"Fuck me?"

Gold again, though Xander barely had time to register it before he was thrown back against the bed, legs in the air and Spike was tugging at Xander's jeans as though they'd been drenched in acid and Xander was in danger of losing his legs. Xander braced himself against the mattress, digging his hands into the sheets and staring up at his lover as Spike stripped him.

Spike wasted no time in getting the jeans and boxers removed, flung across the room and positioning himself in front of Xander. There was a moment when he paused, hands on Xander's thighs and tip of his cock against Xander's ass. Then he grinned, sheepishly. "Er, Xan?"

"Spike?"

"Any lube nearby?"

Xander blinked, then went scrambling to open the nightstand drawer. It was awkward, given the Spike didn't exactly let go of him, as he reached for the lube. But he managed to twist around and grab some, and hand the tube over to Spike without breaking much by way of contact.

Spike put his vampiric speed to good use, as he lubed himself, then Xander, then before Xander could even take another deep breath, Spike was sliding inside. The movement pushed out a loud groan from deep in his chest, and he transferred his death grip on the sheets to a deathgrip on Spike's arms. Spike didn't seem to notice, or mind, as he pulled out and slammed in, again. He was watching Xander intently, though for what, Xander couldn't think. He couldn't think at all, beyond "more."

He didn't have to ask for more -- Spike thrust into him hard, again, fingers gripping Xander's legs tightly. Not as tight as he could have, but firmly enough to keep Xander from moving about as Spike fucked him.

Spike's entire body moved with each thrust, leaning back to leverage each delicious slam into Xander's body, then leaning forward tantalising close as he pulled out. Xander whimpered, trying to raise enough to touch when Spike was the closest but didn't have the leverage.

Spike grinned at him, fangs and ridges bared once more, and thrust harder. That sent another thrill down Xander's spine, made him whimper even more and arch his head back, involuntarily baring his throat again.

He heard a growl that went to the base of his skull and the still sore bite in his throat, and made them throb in time with his cock. In time with the slamming of Spike's cock into his ass. He watched as Spike lowered his face, and Xander tensed, eyes fastened on Spike's fangs.

Spike bent Xander nearly double, pressing him in on himself, as he moved in without breaking any contact. He brushed his chin against Xander's knee, keeping his eyes on Xander's face. Xander couldn't have looked away if he tried. He stared up at Spike's golden eyes, and he would've been writhing in arousal if the position his lover had pressed him in hadn't been so restrictive. The restraint just drove his arousal higher.

Spike shoved himself deeper, making stars explode in Xander's head. He felt the touch of a tongue on his leg, and the barest scrape of teeth. Of fangs. That was all it took. Xander yelled, coming so hard he almost passed out from the intensity.

There was an echo in his ears, which might have been Spike. He could feel the pounding in his ass, not letting up until there was another loud howl, then Spike collapsed slowly on top of him.

Xander just lay there, panting, trying to get his breath back.

"Mrf," Spike said, and he pulled himself free. Then he collapsed more fully on top of Xander.

"Oof."

Spike just said, "Mrf," again, and didn't move.

That suited Xander just fine... until his legs began to cramp up. "Ouch."

Spike shifted, without actually raising himself up off Xander. He managed to get his weight off Xander's legs long enough for him to move them, then Spike settled himself back down immediately.

He had a very tight grip.

"I'm not going anywhere," Xander murmured after a moment.

Spike just made a slight 'mmm' noise, and didn't loosen his grip. He was nestled up against Xander as though they hadn't seen each other in months -- or were parting ways come morning.

"Spike?"

"Erm?" He made it sound almost casual.

"Shouldn't we talk about..."

Spike's grip tightened.

"Spike, human here, need air..."

"Sorry." Spike let go immediately, and after a moment's hesitation, he pushed himself off Xander and swung around to sit on the side of the bed, facing away.

"You didn't have to let go entirely." Xander sat up and moved to press himself against Spike's back, wrapping his arm's around Spike's waist.

He felt Spike relax, a little, and Spike's hand brushed his forearm before falling away again. He felt Spike inhale deeply, and readied himself for a long speech. What he heard, was, "Sorry."

Xander knew he wasn't talking about pulling away. "Why did you...?" Spike turned his head to look at him, his expression saying that Xander should have already known the answer. He raised a hand and brushed it along Spike's cheek. "I need you to tell me. I need to know for sure."

Spike's eyebrows curled, pressed towards each other. Xander had the crazy urge to rub his finger over them both, to try to smooth them out. Instead he waited, until finally Spike said, "Last time you asked me to leave. Without coming back."

"And you think I'm going to do it again?"

Spike just looked at him, unblinking, as though he were reading Xander's thoughts from the back of his eyeballs. After a long, uneasy moment, Spike said, "Not sure. Reckon you liked it this time well enough." His voice was inflectionless, and his expression was hard, and gave away nothing except what Xander could infer by knowing him.

"I don't think I've ever come so hard in my life," Xander said, with a half smile.

Spike didn't smile back. His eyes didn't even flicker. It was like being stared at by a vampire.

"So yeah, I... liked it. And even if I hadn't, I wouldn't ask you to go."

"...wouldn't..." was all Xander heard, though Spike's mouth was open, and moving. Not enough voice to even know if Spike were questioning him, or affirming what Xander had said.

"Tried it once, almost killed me to let you go."

There was the barest nod, then Spike turned around, just a bit. "You..." He sighed, and shook his head. "I won't... do it again," he said, in a dismal, and barely convincing tone.

Xander didn't even think before he responded. "What if I want you to?"

"Have to wait two weeks." There was a tiny flicker in Spike's eyes.

"Two weeks?"

"Can't give blood more often than every two weeks, can you? S'a rule from the Red Cross or something. And you have to drink something sugary after," he added, with a slight frown.

"Ooo, you're going to feed me soda?" Xander grinned.

"Only for medical necessity," Spike replied, in an even sterner tone. He even pointed his finger at Xander.

"You do love me." The words came out more serious than the teasing tone he'd intended.

Spike didn't answer, except to kiss him. Xander wrapped his arms around him, and held on tight. He felt Spike's hands press against his arms, briefly, before he shifted again, to return the embrace. He kissed Xander thoroughly, but without any sense of urgency. Not slow and gentle, either, but something just inbetween, where all there was to do was kiss, and touch their tongues against each other, and explore each other's mouths.

Xander lost himself in it, happily so. Part of him was wondering why he wasn't wigging out at what Spike did, but the rest of him just accepted it. Accepted and trusted that Spike wouldn't hurt him. It wasn't hard, with the way Spike was touching him now. Caressing him and licking at his lips, pressing a kiss to his cheek before moving back to capture his mouth, as though there was no other hunger driving him. The hand on Xander's back held him up, fingers splayed on his back supporting, rather than trapping him.

It was easy to forget what Spike was. As though Spike forgot himself, as well. But this was a part of Spike too, as much as the dangerous vampire part was. It just wasn't a part very many ever got to see.

When Spike paused, closed his eyes and rested his forehead against Xander's, there was a moment when Xander could have sworn he heard Spike sigh. He wasn't certain his boyfriend was up to being called 'sappy', though, so Xander said nothing.

"I can feel you grinning," Spike said, after another moment.

"Can you?"

"Yeah." Spike raised his hand, and traced the curve of Xander's smile with his fingertip. "You're laughing at me." Spike didn't sound as though he minded, or was even terribly surprised.

"Would I do that?" Xander asked, his lips moving against Spike's finger.

"Sort of futile asking, innit? Since you are." Spike moved his finger away, and kissed him once, quickly. He moved his arms a bit, settling himself into holding Xander more comfortably. He sighed again, then muttered something softly. Xander heard the word 'mushy'.

Xander laughed aloud at that.

"Oh, it's all right for *you*," Spike said. "You're one of the good guys. You're supposed to get all soft in the head when you fall in love. I'm supposed to be... er... actually, no. I've always been soft in the head when it came to this sort of thing."

"That's all right." He reached up and patted Spike's cheek consolingly. "We all have our faults."

Spike narrowed his eyes. "You're supposed to tell me I'm not soft in the head. Or something. Tell me I'm not love's bitch and make me feel all manly."

Xander looked at him for a long second, then burst into uncontrollable laughter.

Spike looked offended, then hurt. "Oh, it's all right for *you* to laugh. You... you..." Spike stopped, and thought for a moment. Then he sighed again, and put his head on Xander's shoulder.

The laughter faded at that, pushed aside by more intense, more sappy emotions. He felt Spike smile. "I can feel you grinning," Xander remarked with a grin of his own.

"Can you?"

"Yeah," Xander said. "I can."

*****~~~~~

Xander had no idea how he'd got through the entire day without walking into a wall or driving into a lightpole. He'd woken up with Spike wrapped tightly around him, which had lead to slow, sweet, wonderful loving and a very, very large breakfast cooked and served to him by his boyfriend.

Spike had been stern with him about replacing the protein and liquid, which had led to Xander taking just those things back from Spike, and left Spike limp on the bed while Xander got a shower and left for classes. When he'd got to campus, he'd noticed a few looks from some of his non-human classmates, but by lunchtime they'd stopped and by the time he left around four pm no one was saying anything more unusual than "can I borrow your notes?" Actually, he suspected his notes for today were going to be pretty useless, and he made a mental note to ask Julia, tomorrow, if he could copy hers.

'Spike loves me' probably wasn't going to be on any of his exams.

He decided to stop pretending to think about his classwork as he ran up the steps to Angel's office. Doyle and Cordy were both there and looked up when he entered. "Someone looks like they had a good time last night," Cordy greeted him with a teasing smile.

Xander froze, and stared at her with horror. Then he grinned, reflexively, and shrugged. All she knew was that he had a look on his face. She couldn't possibly know *what* they'd done. "Some of us are just lucky," he said, and headed more or less smoothly towards the couch.

"Smug too. It must've been a very good night."

"Did you want details?" Xander asked, with one raised eyebrow. Not that he would tell them, in a million years or to save the world from certain destruction, but he could make stuff up until Cordy threw something at him to make him be quiet.

She made a face. "Ugh. No, thank you. Some things are best left a mystery."

Doyle grinned at her, and Xander sighed, loudly. "Ah, yes... the mystery of--" He cut off as Cordelia raised a notebook and drew her hand back, ready to let fly.

She lowered it again when he stopped talking, a pleased smile on her face. "The training is taking hold I see."

"My instinct for self-preservation doesn't need training," Xander retorted, ready to duck quickly.

"And it's that instinct that can be used to train you," she countered.

Xander hesitated, trying to figure out just exactly how he was being insulted. He glanced over at Doyle. Doyle just shrugged and gave him a commiserating look. Either he had as little idea as Xander did, or he was deliberately not being of help. Xander wondered briefly if that was because he was hoping to stay on Cordelia's good side.

That would imply things he didn't think were true, though, given the way Doyle kept making eyes at Angel whenever the latter's back was turned. He decided to play it safe, regardless, and gave Cordy a cute, can't-hurt-me-I'm-adorable look.

Cordelia just rolled her eyes. "Please. Remember how long I've known you."

He gave her one of Spike's cute looks -- then quickly blanked his expression when she frowned at him thoughtfully. She may not know Spike well, but she had seen him before. He didn't need her remembering where she might have seen that look before. "So! What are we doing tonight? Any demons or monsters or lawyers to kill?" Xander leaned back in the couch, and kicked his backpack to one side. He wasn't going to do any studying, so there was no reason to pretend he needed his books handy.

"Actually, things seem pretty quiet," Doyle said.

Xander frowned. Quiet was good, in an overall world not ending sort of way. But he would have liked *something* to do. "Not even a mousy little rugrat demon we should go harass? Make him pay his protection money?"

Doyle coughed. "I'm usually the... err... harassee in that scenario."

"What?" Xander sat up a little. "You've got bruisers hassling you? Human or demon?"

"It's hard to tell."

"Even for you?" Xander realised that might sound bad. "I mean... um... can I just shut up now and make concerned noises?" He shot a glance at Cordelia, to see if she knew anything about this, and wanted to try and help him out with some eyebrow motions or other facial gestures.

Cordelia however had now turned the frowning thoughtful look on Doyle. "If you're in trouble and haven't mentioned it--"

"I'm not in trouble, really," Doyle began in that diffident manner Xander recognised. "I just owe some people some money, is all."

Xander pushed down the reflex to simply offer him money -- chances were he could easily pay whatever Doyle's debt was. But his grandda had given him a lecture about restraining those sorts of impulses. Buying people out of the trouble they got themselves into never helped, and you could never tell when offering would insult the offeree.

That wasn't to say Xander couldn't make a visit to Doyle's creditors if he was able to squeeze the information out of Doyle. He just wasn't supposed to *offer* to do so, beforehand.

Cordy was frowning, still. "How much?"

Doyle sighed, rolling his eyes nowhere nearly as convincingly as Giles, or even Cordelia. "Not that much. Just a little gambling debt is all."

Xander frowned even more, and a glance at Cordelia said she was just as not convinced it was 'not that much'. "If it isn't that much, then why didn't you ever mention it?" Xander asked.

"The subject's never come up?"

Cordelia shook her head, slowly. "Big knuckle-dragging bruisers don't come to visit for 'not much' gambling debts," she said bluntly.

Doyle replied quickly, "It isn't that much! It's just... well, it sometimes goes a while between payments."

Xander narrowed his eyes at Doyle. "How much do you owe, now?" This time he ditched the Spike mannerisms, and went right for Giles'. Stern dad look. Ought to work.

Doyle's eyes darted away and then he brightened, jumping to his feet. "Angel! So nice of you to join us."

"We're not through with you," Xander told him, but actually was willing to let it drop, for now. He could get Spike to follow Doyle a bit, and see if they could find these knuckle-dragging bruisers. Admittedly Doyle hadn't said he'd seen any recently -- just that he did, sometimes. Xander shook his head and turned to say hello to Angel -- and found the vampire standing stock-still in the doorway, staring at him like Xander had replaced his head with green cheese.

Then Angel's expression turned serious and disapproving. He pointed at Xander. "You. Downstairs. Now."

"What's with Caveman Angel?" Cordelia asked, even as Xander was getting to his feet. He didn't think it a good idea to argue -- Angel looked ready to tear his arms off.

Angel also ignored Cordelia, continuing to glower at Xander as he headed for the door. "What's got your knickers in a twist?" was out of Xander's mouth a second before it hit him. He wanted to hit himself, then, but it looked like Angel was going to do that for him. He stopped -- was it even safe to go downstairs with Angel?

It seemed he wasn't the only one who was worried about that because both Cordelia and Doyle had got to their feet and had stepped forward, looking at Angel worriedly. Angel was still scowling at Xander, then he seemed to realise everyone was looking at *him*. He made an effort to control his expression -- no doubt just long enough to get Xander downstairs.

"What's up?" Doyle asked with deceptive calmness. "If something's wrong we all should--"

"I'm sure Xander would rather we discuss this in private." Angel's glare was back. "Or should I just tell them--"

"Let's go downstairs," Xander said quickly. If he had to choose, he'd rather have Angel pissed at him. At least he wouldn't go through the whole 'What do you mean, you're dating *Spike*' routine. That part Angel already knew, and mostly disapproved of.

"You sure, Xander?" Cordelia asked, looking like she was willing to take on Angel single-handedly. There was even a chance she'd win, Xander realised. But then he'd have to tell *her* what it was about.

"Um, yeah. I'm sure. You can stay up here and grill Doyle," he added with a half-felt evil smile.

Doyle's aggrieved, "Hey!" would've had him laughing... if he wasn't facing a grilling far worse and about something much more serious than owing money.

He cautiously tiptoed towards the elevator, and tried not to flinch when Angel slammed the gate shut. Angel remained silent as the elevator descended to the lower floor. He remained silent as they exited the elevator and entered Angel's apartment.

Xander followed him as far as the living area -- nice big space for ducking and running away in. Then he stood there and waited. He knew he was an idiot -- a complete and total idiot, and he probably deserved to be yelled at for going anywhere near Spike's Sire, less than twenty-four hours after Spike had bit him. But he'd been so determined to act like nothing had changed, nothing was weird so as not to freak out Spike, that he'd decided to follow his normal routine. That meant hanging out at Angel Investigations.

"Have you," Angel began quietly, voice dark with repressed anger, "completely lost your mind?"

"No," Xander said easily. Much more calmly than he felt, though he knew he wasn't fooling Angel.

"I have serious doubts about that right now." Angel took a step toward him. "Xander, you know better than this..."

"Than what? You know how we feel about each other." Xander folded his arms, and tried to look straight back at Angel. He couldn't argue that he knew as much about vampires and their mating habits as Angel. But he knew Spike. Spike wasn't doing anything that would hurt him.

"It's dangerous!"

Xander blinked. "How?" It wasn't as stupid a question as it could have been. *Obviously* it would be dangerous if Spike drank too much. But that wasn't going to happen. Not after last night. Possibly not since they'd begun dating.

"*How*? Oh, we really are in trouble if you're seriously asking that." Angel began pacing.

"Well, you can't mean 'gee, he's a vampire, he drinks blood and kills people'. I know that. I... I know he kills humans for blood."

Something stuck in his throat. He knew, though they never talked about it. Never thought about it, except late at night when there was no one to disturb him. "I thought you meant that *Spike* is somehow a danger to *me* personally."

"If he's biting you, then he is."

"Why?"

Angel just looked at him in disbelief.

"I mean it. Why? If he was safe enough for me to be with all these years -- why is he suddenly not safe?" He couldn't quite believe his own gall, but he didn't appreciate Angel's attitude. Not to mention he was terrified that Angel would decide the only way to 'save' Xander was to tell Giles...

He had to convince Angel it was OK.

"You really don't get it, do you?" The disbelief seemed to be fading, replaced by... something that felt even worse to have directed at him. Pity. "Xander, he crossed a line by biting. And that line is much harder to cross than just taking one more mouthful, feeding for one second more... one second too long."

Xander tilted his head. "You mean like, now he's fallen off the wagon?"

"If you'd like."

"But if he wants more, he can go out and get more. He's never stopped drinking human blood." It astounded him how calm he actually *felt* as he said that. Thoughts of killing aside, the fact that Spike fed from humans didn't bother him the way he'd have thought it would. He wondered if that was the reason for Angel's pity.

"That's not the same thing. That's hunting. What you two are doing it's..." Angel caught and held his gaze seriously. "It's passion. It's like... a drug."

"Love is like that."

"He could kill you without even meaning to."

"I don't think he will," Xander countered. He never broke Angel's gaze, though he wanted to run out of there -- and back to Spike.

"He could."

"So could you. So could Cordelia. So could a thousand LA drivers out on the road--"

"Xander, you're not listening."

"You're over-reacting." Xander folded his arms, then unfolded them so he wouldn't look like a kid who was pouting. "Why would *Spike* do anything to hurt me when he has *never* put me in danger? Ever?"

Angel looked pointedly at his throat. "He did last night."

Xander found himself grinning. "Spike was more freaked out about it than I was. Didn't stop apologising until I-- um, had sex with him again."

"That just proves my point. Even Spike knows he crossed the line."

Xander opened his mouth to respond -- then didn't. It was possible, entirely remotely conceivable that... Angel had a point. Spike *had* freaked out, though it was because he'd thought Xander would ask him to leave.

But what if there was more to it? What if Spike thought he couldn't stop, and someday might not stop? The look on Angel's face said he knew Xander was finally thinking. It was almost smug, but Xander stifled his anger. Before he decided *anything*, he was going to talk with Spike.

"You have to promise me something," he said, skipping the useless middle part of the 'told you so' conversation.

Angel looked wary. "What?"

"You aren't to tell Giles. I'll talk with Spike. I'll... decide whatever I decide. But until I decide to do something irredeemably stupid, you are *not* to tell Giles." Because no matter how much Spike loved him, and didn't want to hurt him -- Giles would *never* allow their relationship to continue.

It was just a question of which of them he would slay first.

Angel frowned. "Xander, you've already done something stupid."

"You have to promise me," Xander repeated. Not that there was much he could do, if Angel thought he had to call. But he knew if he could talk to Spike and figure things out, Giles would never have to know. Never have to be afraid for him, or angry at him.

"I can't."

"Why not? It isn't like Spike is going to bite me *tonight*. He whined when I said he could do it again in two weeks." Xander realised his mistake as he said it. Perhaps the blood loss had affected his brain.

If it was possible for a vampire to pale, then Angel was doing so. Then he turned on his heel and crossed the room -- straight towards the phone.

"What are you doing!" Xander ran across the room and dove towards Angel, grabbing onto his arm and pulling him back.

"I think you know what I'm doing." Angel shook off Xander's hand.

"You aren't even going to give me a *chance*?"

Angel stopped and turned to look at him. "You're already planning on it happening again. Would you prefer I wait and have to call Giles and tell him you're dead? Or worse?"

"I'm not going to end up dead or worse. All I'm asking is that you give me a chance to talk to Spike. I'm *not* going to end up dead or worse." He *knew* he wouldn't, he could feel it in his veins. Spike wasn't going to go any farther than they'd gone last night. Xander trusted him -- but he had to get Angel to stop trying to fuck things up.

"I'm not willing to take that chance with your life."

"Fine! Then come with me. You can glower at Spike as much as you like while he and I talk."

He could see Angel was waffling a little at that. "I don't know. I still think--"

"You can't just ruin everything for me, without *knowing* it's dangerous."

"I'm a vampire. I *know*."

Xander just stared at him, trying to frantically think of ways he and Spike could convince Angel there was nothing to worry about. If they didn't, he and Spike...

But finally, somehow, Angel sighed. "All right. But this doesn't mean I won't still make that phone call."

"I know. Believe me, I know how much of a--" It occurred to him that insulting Angel wouldn't really help. "Let's just go, all right?"

Angel nodded and grabbed his coat on the way out. "We'll have to go underground."

"Gee, really? I was hoping to make you burst into flame and avoid this whole mess."

The dark look Angel gave him, said his sarcastic attempt at humour was not appreciated. "Come on."

They said nothing at all to each other as they walked through the sewers. Xander didn't really know how far it was, but by the time Angel said they were at the right exit, he was ready to inhale three pizzas. Then he wanted to know how Angel knew exactly which was the right manhole cover, recognising his building from *this* angle.

He didn't bother asking, figuring he'd just get a growl for his trouble, and just followed Angel out of the sewer and into the alleyway behind his apartment building. They made their way inside still in silence all the way up to Xander's apartment.

Xander unlocked the door, and the thought occurred -- much too late -- that he might have called ahead and warned Spike. As he pushed the door open, he felt it pull out of his hand and they found Spike standing there. Spike's curious look turned dark instantly, and his gaze went from Xander to Angel.

"What happened?" he demanded.

"That's what I was going to ask you," Angel shot back, glaring at Spike.

Spike glared back, flicked a glance at Xander, then returned his glare to Angel. He didn't step back to let Angel enter, even though the elder vampire had already been invited inside, long before now.

Or perhaps *because* he had so been.

Angel took a step forward until he and Spike were standing toe to toe. "We need to talk."

"Oh, yeah? Here I thought you wanted my green bean casserole recipe." The way Spike glared at Angel, it was almost unnoticeable that he was several inches shorter.

Angel growled and shoved Spike back a step. "This isn't a joking matter."

Xander started to step between them. Then he realised what a stupid thing that would be, and instead pushed past them and headed for the living room. He sat down on the couch, where he could watch.

Angel shoved Spike again, moving them further into the apartment. Xander saw a bag of fritos near the couch, and picked it up. Half-full. He began eating, wandering back towards the arguing vampires in living room while Spike and Angel communicated. Spike was snarling as loudly as Angel, now, but hadn't yet tried shoving him backwards. Probably not enough mass to move him, without vamping out.

The vampires snarled back and forth, Angel shoving Spike back step by step for several minutes. Time to remind Angel that Spike had someone on his side. Xander stepped forward. "Are you two going to actually speak English? Or does this cover the debate?"

"You stay out of this," Angel told him.

"Excuse me? I thought this was about me, too."

Spike moved aside, a step, to stand more between Angel and Xander.

"You've obviously taken leave of your senses," Angel shot back.

Spike gave him a hard shove, and Angel stumbled back a couple of steps. "Whatever your problem, *Angel*, it's with me. I'm the one who bit him."

That got Angel's attention back on Spike. "Which just goes to prove you're still an idiot."

Spike just narrowed his eyes, but said nothing. He looked more dangerous, in that moment, than Xander could ever recall seeing him.

"You can glare at me all you like. Doesn't change what you did -- or how risky it is."

"Risky?" Spike asked, with a touch of defensiveness in his tone. Xander knew he was just wondering which of the many risky aspects Angel was referring to -- eerily a repeat of his own conversation.

"Risky," Angel repeated, his gaze boring into Spike's. "And you *know* why."

Spike made a scoffing sound. "Right; and who's gonna tell him?" he asked, his tone somehow light and all the more threatening for it. Xander shivered and wondered if he could get Spike to talk like that to him after Angel had gone.

Then he told his hormones to shut up while there was an enraged vampire in his home that *wasn't* Spike.

"You should've. At the very least you should tell him all the dangers -- you should acknowledge them yourself as well." Angel was still glaring at him, but it was less angry and more worried now.

Spike blinked, and tilted his head. "Why would I tell his old man *myself*? M'not trying to get myself staked."

Xander snickered, quietly, then put his hand on Spike's shoulder. "He means the other terrible risk. The one about passion and biting and drinking too much."

Angel's glare flickered to Xander for a second before going back to Spike. "The one that he doesn't take seriously," Angel confirmed.

Spike folded his arms and stared at Angel. He didn't say anything, and after a moment, Xander started to worry.

Angel wasn't backing down. "I know you would never intentionally hurt him," he said, voice softening a little. "But that doesn't make less risky."

"I'm not--" Spike began, then he glanced at Xander. He looked worried and a little uneasy. Or was that fear Xander could see? "I love him," Spike said very quietly.

Xander felt something quiver in his stomach.

"I know," Angel replied quietly. "And that just makes it more dangerous."

Spike continued looking at Xander, his gaze steady but troubled. Xander rubbed his hand along Spike's shoulder, and stifled the urge to take him into a hug. Then he wondered why he was stifling the urge, and did so. Spike's arms went around him easily.

He held onto Spike tightly and when he looked up Angel was gone.

~~~~~

Spike didn't move from his embrace for several long minutes. Then he finally raised his head and looked at Xander levelly. "He's gone."

Xander nodded, trying not to worry about that too much. If Angel was going to call Giles, he would've said something, right?

"Did you... ask him over?" Spike asked, his tone cautious.

"He was going to call my dad."

"Oh." Spike gave a tiny nod, and Xander felt him relax a little. But he said, "Thought maybe you'd changed your mind or something."

"And went running to Angel to tell you to stop?" He shook his head. "If I ever did change my mind I'd tell you myself."

There was a pause, then Spike nodded. "Thought you would. But -- wasn't expecting the tortured bat to show up all vengancey and hellfire."

"Isn't that what he lives for?" Xander tried to force joking into his voice but didn't quite succeed.

"He needs a new hobby," Spike replied, sounding equally trying-to-joke and failing.

Xander kissed him; Spike looked like he needed it as much as Xander did. "I'm not worried about you."

Spike's expression didn't change, though. He'd responded to the kiss, then just stared at Xander like he was waiting for something. Or trying to think of how to say something difficult. Xander was suddenly afraid of what that might be and kissed Spike again so he couldn't say it.

After the kiss, though, Spike asked in a worried tone, "Did you want me to--" He glanced away.

"Spike?" He waited until his lover was looking at him again. "Bite me."

Startled, Spike jerked his head back -- as if the suggestion would have made him bite Xander unintentionally. Sounding a tad stunned, he said, "Can't -- hasn't been two weeks."

"Maybe I don't care. Maybe I need you to."

"No." Spike frowned, and Xander knew this expression - stubborn, and unmovable. "I'm not risking..."

"You won't be," Xander interrupted, absolutely sure.

"Look, Angel wasn't just completely making that up -- if I bite you and got carried away, what's going to stop me from--"

"You won't get carried away."

"Are you willing to risk it?" Spike asked, very flatly, gaze fixed on Xander. Xander felt trapped by his eyes -- and wasn't sure that was a bad thing.

He looked back, put every bit of belief and conviction into it that he could. "I trust you."

"What if I don't trust myself?"

"Do you trust me?"

Spike cocked his head. "Huh? Yeah, I trust you."

"Then trust me to not let you hurt me."

Slowly, Spike began to nod. Then he stopped. "Can't," he said, but he was starting to smile. "Batman's gonna be sniffing 'round you, keeping a nose out. If I bite you again he'll know and he *will* slay my arse. And call Rupert."

Xander sighed and let his head fall forward to rest on Spike's shoulder, knowing his lover was probably right. "He's a busybody."

"He needs a new hobby. Or -- maybe we should lock him in a room with Doyle." Spike put his arms around Xander's waist, and settled there like the entire issue was fully resolved.

"Yeah. Let him worry about his own biting."

Spike laughed. "Don't think that'd be a problem. Bracken demons' blood tastes *disgusting*."

Xander raised his head and narrowed his eyes as he peered suspiciously at Spike. "When have you been biting Bracken demons?"

Spike immediately looked innocent.

Xander sighed. "Don't tell me. I don't want to know."

"It was a long time ago, and I was very young," Spike began, earnestly. "And I was drunk. And it was only one night. And he never called, the bastard."

Xander found himself laughing. "Spike, you're..."

Spike pouted, and Xander wanted to suck on the lower lip that was jutting out. "I waited by the phone for days."

"I'm sure you did." Giving in to temptation, Xander leaned in and kissed him.

He could feel Spike grinning, into the kiss. Spike gave Xander's lip a fleeting lick as Xander leaned back, and said, "I'll have to just suck something else until Angel loses interest in us, eh?"

"Guess you'll have to." Xander grinned. "So what are you waiting for?"

Spike's glance flickered downwards. "Your jeans are still zipped up."

He looked down as well. "So they are."

Spike glanced down, then gave Xander a half-smile. "Did you want me to get that?"

Xander nodded, grinning again.

"Right. Don't move." Then Spike was kneeling, and pressing his face into Xander's groin.

Xander felt pressure against his cock, saw Spike moving his mouth... and... oh god. He was unzipping Xander's jeans with his teeth. Xander swallowed hard and concentrated on keeping still.

He didn't do a great job -- weaving slightly back and forth as Spike's mouth pressed against the denim over his erection, and pulled at the zipper. It was going slowly, and was perhaps the most inefficient method of stripping that Xander could think of. He wasn't about to make Spike stop.

He just hoped his knees wouldn't give out before Spike was finished.

Spike got the zipper down almost halfway, before he stopped. The point of his chin was resting against Xander's erection as he looked up. Xander blonked down at him. "You stopped." It came out sounding like an accusation.

"You sounded like you were in pain."

"I did?" He hadn't realized he'd been making any noise at all.

Spike nodded, moving his chin up and down against Xander's cock.

"Oh." He wondered how he could get Spike to start moving again.

"So, wanted to make sure you were all right," Spike said, and the talking made his chin move and his vocal cords vibrate. Since his throat was touching Xander's erection, as well, the effect was maddening.

"I'm fine. Really." Xander wasn't sure how he managed to say it without squeaking.

"OK, then." Spike grabbed the zipper pull with his teeth again, and yanked.

Xander yelped, feeling his knees start to buckle. Spike's nose rubbed his erection, hard, though whether it was in the process of finishing the unzipping, or just Spike being nosy - he didn't know. Blindly he reached out and grabbed onto Spike's shoulders, trying to keep his balance.

"Oi!" He heard, and he felt himself falling sideways. Spike's hands grabbed his legs behind the knees, which only served to make his legs bend -- which didn't help hold him upright.

He felt himself start to topple, going down on top of Spike in slow motion. Spike seemed to be half holding him up, and half holding his legs and pulling him down. Xander had a moment of deja vous -- they were nearly batting 1.000 in the toppling themselves over score.

Then they collapsed on the floor, in a mass of legs and arms and something sharp and bony jutting painfully into Xander's hip. "Ouch," Xander said faintly.

"Your leg is on my head," Spike pointed out, in a muffled voice.

"Your head is sticking in my--"

"Yeah, and your peanut butter's in my chocolate. Shift off, and lemme suck you." Spike managed to say it all very causally.

A shudder of arousal went down Xander's spine at the words and he moved obediently as fast as he could manage. He ended up lying on the floor, jeans mostly open and legs bent, with Spike kneeling between them. Spike had his hands on Xander's thighs as he leaned forward. Spike looked at him, thoughtfully.

"Spike..." Xander said warningly.

"Bad angle," Spike said, and he scrambled over Xander's leg. He knelt beside Xander, and leaned over, putting his face into Xander's crotch.

Xander groaned, letting his head fall back, staring at the ceiling as he concentrated on what Spike was doing. Spike was yanking on his zipper, again, but after three tugs, reached up with his hand. He fumbled for the zipper pull, apparently less able to strip Xander with his hand, than with his mouth.

Xander raised his head again to look down at his lover. "Spike?"

Spike jerked his hand back, and looked back at him, guilelessly. "What?"

"Are you doing this deliberately?"

"Giving you a blowjob?"

"Is that what it was? Because you haven't even got my jeans open yet."

Spike pouted. "It's not my fault! I haven't ever done--" He stopped.

Xander cocked his head to the side, curious. "You haven't what?"

"Er. Donethewahrumun."

"Huh? Could you repeat that in English? Or at least Getherian?"

Spike looked uncomfortable. Xander might have said he looked embarrassed, if he'd ever seen Spike look embarrassed before. "I said, I've never done this before. You know, with the teeth."

"Oh. Never?" He found himself starting to grin as he thought about it.

"Not with zippers. They didn't have 'em back then, and--" Spike scowled. "It looked easy in that movie, anyhow. Are you going to lie still and let me do this, or are you going to yammer at me?"

Still grinning, Xander laid his head back. "Do your worst."

Spike narrowed his eyes. "It's not supposed to be my worst." But he leaned down, again, and tried to get the zipper into his teeth. He managed that part, then gave the zipper a tug. As far as Xander could tell, it unzipped another millimetre. Spike put his hands on Xander's thigh and stomach to brace himself, then pulled again -- pushing his hands down.

"Ow!"

Immediately the pressure on his leg, and more importantly in the middle of his stomach, vanished. "What?" Spike asked. "Did I catch something?"

Xander took a second to catch his breath. "Hard to breathe when you're leaning on my stomach."

"Oh. Er, right. Sorry. Air-breather, forget that sometimes." Spike grinned, then re-positioned his hands, and tried again.

After a minute Xander shook his head. "This isn't working."

"It isn't erotic?"

He shook his head again. "Sorry."

Spike sighed. Xander blinked, and missed what happened next. All he knew was that suddenly his jeans were unzipped and Spike had his mouth on Xander's cock.

"Spi... gah..." He managed to get out before his voice trailed off into a moan. He heard an inquisitive noise, which might have been a question -- but it came out as vibrations on his cock and his brain short circuited before he could decipher the words coming out of his mouth. He let his head full back again with a small thud, hips arching up into Spike's touch.

Spike sucked at him, hard, and long, taking full advantage of the lack of need to breathe and apparent lack of gag reflex. Xander did the only thing he could in this kind of situation -- he whimpered.

Spike put his hands back on Xander's thigh and stomach, but with much less pressure. All the pressure seemed to be centered on the tip of Xander's cock, and it was pulling at him, as though trying to pull Xander's entire body out through his cock into Spike's mouth. He wouldn't be surprised if it did, as all of his being seemed concentrated on his cock and Spike's mouth around his cock.

Spike's mouth was wet -- not hot, and Xander had nothing to compare it to, to know how different it was. It was moving, sucking harder still, tongue wrapping around his shaft like a snake before disappearing once more.

Then Spike's mouth vanished completely, and appeared a second later around each of his balls, sucking them lightly in turn. Xander cried out, his hips bucking upwards, needing more. He felt fingers touching him, then the mouth was back on his cock. Spike went down on him, all the way, and tugged at his balls with his hand.

With a howl, Xander exploded.

Spike didn't remove his mouth, or his hand, sucking and fondling Xander as he came. It wasn't until Xander collapsed on the floor, panting, that Spike finally let him go. Xander lay there, having dissolved into a Xander-shaped puddle. He felt Spike crawl over him, then he laid down on top of Xander.

"Spike." It was all his brain could manage just then, but he figured it said pretty much everything.

He got kissed.

"Spike," he said again, wondering if it would get him kissed again.

It did.

Smiling, Xander said it again. "Spike."

This time he got a nip on the ear.

"Ow."

Another nip, and Spike rubbed Xander's earlobe between his lips. Xander sighed, and raised his arms to go around his lover, one hand feathering a light touch against the back of Spike's neck. Spike moved his head, pressed a kiss against Xander's lips, and whispered, "Bite me?"

Surprised, Xander pulled back enough to search Spike's eyes. Spike looked as serious as he'd sounded, meeting Xander's gaze without any sign of a teasing grin. In fact, not only did Spike look serious, but he also looked extremely aroused.

He leaned down and kissed the corner of Xander's mouth. "Please," he whispered, before moving away.

Xander pulled him back, rolling them over until he was on top. "Yes," he whispered against Spike's lips before trailing his mouth down to his throat.

Spike shivered beneath him, then he lay more or less still, baring his neck slightly. Taking his time, Xander nuzzled and licked at the cool skin. There was a soft moan, and Spike moved his head farther out of the way. His hands moved restlessly along Xander's arms as though looking for a place to grab on.

He moved his body against Spike's as he continued to tease, letting his teeth just barely brush against Spike's throat. Spike gasped, and grabbed onto him, pressing his knees against Xander's legs as well. "Please," he begged, again.

Xander bit down, hard enough to draw blood.

Spike cried out, jerking against Xander. His grip was hard, painful -- there would be bruises later. Xander didn't care, because Spike was writhing beneath him, gasping hoarsely, and thrusting against him as he came in his jeans.

Licking at the bite, Xander shivered at the taste of Spike's blood on his tongue. It didn't taste any different from all the times he'd sucked his own cut finger. But this blood was Spike's and that made it so much more.

He glanced up to see Spike's eyes riveted on his mouth; Spike's lips were slightly parted. Xander darted his tongue out to lick at his own lips, then leaned down and kissed Spike. Spike took in the kiss hungrily -- opening his mouth and nearly sucking Xander in with the touch of his lips, and the touch of his tongue.

He seemed to be searching for every drop of his own blood in Xander's mouth, plundering every inch without concern. Xander loved every second of it, content to lay there and let his mouth be ravaged for the rest of the day. Too soon, though, Spike pulled away and let his head fall back onto the carpet. He gazed up at Xander with an utterly smug, satisfied expression.

Xander sighed and lowered his head to rest against Spike's shoulder. "So, do I make a good vampire?"

"You make a very good vampire," Spike said easily. There was a distant note in his tone, though. He smiled, and leant up to give Xander a quick kiss.

"Not as good a vampire as you." Xander was sounding possessive he knew, but he couldn't help it.

"Course not," Spike replied, smugly. He smiled, though, and there was a happy gleam in his eye. Preening while on his back on the floor, without actually moving an inch. Xander didn't care, in fact he felt like preening himself. Or basking. Or something.

Spike reached up and ran two fingers through Xander's hair. He cleared his throat,then said, "So. Er."

Xander's eyes closed as he leaned into the touch. "Mmmm..."

"I was going to ask if you wanted to do anything else this evening, but if you're going to go all limp on me..." Spike sounded amused, and kept running his fingers through Xander's hair in exactly that way which made all of Xander's muscles collapse.

"Mmm... whu..." Xander said helpfully.

"Right. You fall asleep where you are. I'll get the door when the pizza guy comes." Spike wrapped his arms around Xander and held him.

That sounded good to Xander. He snuggled closer.


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