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17 Shopping & Poetry

“Man, that smells great!” Xander said as he came back to the kitchen with his long, wet hair pulled back into a neat braid once more.

“Cheese burgers with three kinds of cheese, grilled onions, mustard, and a thick pickle on the side,” Willow smiled. “Your timing is perfect.”

Instead of sitting by Spike, Xander dropped into the chair beside Oz. “Remember when we’d have ‘cheeseburger in paradise’ nights?”

Oz nodded. “We were all broke, but when everyone chipped in five bucks, we all ate good.”

Willow frowned at the snub to Spike, but placed his full plate before her friend. “As long as Giles didn’t get stuck with the clean up, I think he liked it, too.”

“I need to call him,” Xander said as he wrapped his hands around the soft bun.

Willow took what should have been Xander’s seat beside Spike. She patted the withdrawn vamp on the arm before she answered. “He’s supposed to chat me on the computer tonight. Do you want to talk to him then?”

Xander nodded, took a big bite, then let his eyes roll up in an expression of pleasure. They all smiled at Xander except Spike who was picking the label off his beer bottle. They chatted a bit, reminiscing about the burger and research parties at Giles’.

Once his food was half gone, Xander turned the conversation to the Gazebo. He gave Oz a breakdown of what he thought needed to be done and how long it might take. He hoped to complete it before winter.

“The first thing we need to do is get you established back in the world,” Gunn said. “I have started the paper work with the authorities, but they’ll have to see you in person.”

“Oh. Yeah.” Xander’s mood fell a bit.

“Hey! I almost forgot!” Willow chirped. She got up and rummaged in her pocketbook. She came back and held out a silver key chain with several keys on it. “Ta da!”

Xander swallowed his bite of pickle and took them. “What’s this?”

She leaned over his shoulder and pointed them out. “House key. Master key to all outbuildings except the foundry. Manual override key to the gate. Key to my car, just in case.”

“Oh, Willow!” Xander pulled her into a hug. “Thank you!” He was touched by this physical manifestation of  being “home.”

“You’re staying here now. We can’t have you getting locked out at all odd hours. Look at the fob.” Xander turned over the silver oval to reveal an etched silhouette of the original Enterprise form Star Trek. “I looked for Babylon 5, but this was the best I could do.”

“Gee. I guess I need some pants with pockets, now.”

“It’s still early on a Tuesday. The mall should be fairly dead, if you want to go.”

“I don’t know…”

“Come on. We’ll just get you enough clothes to make it safe for you to work properly at the Gazebo.”

“Bare feet and power tools are of the unmixy.” Oz put in sagely.

“True, but… I don’t have any money.”

“Yeah, you do,” Spike spoke up. He didn’t look at Xander, but rolled the now-empty bottle between his palms. “Several of your gems have sold. I’m holding the money in a special account until you can establish a bank account of your own.”

“Less your commission?” Xander snapped.

Spike glanced up sharply. “I’m not getting commission, remember?” He got up and left before Xander could say anything else. Shortly, a door slammed upstairs.

Xander didn’t meet anyone’s eyes, but returned to eating.

Willow bit her lip and started to tell Xander to go to Spike.

“Work clothes can be put on the company card,” Oz said. “It’s better than having the place shut down when you drop something on your foot.” He gave his wife his patented ‘don’t meddle’ look.

Xander shrugged.

“Come on,” Willow coaxed. “I want to go to the bookstore anyway.”

“Sure. I guess so.” He straightened. “It’s time I went out in the world anyway. No. Wait. I don’t have clothes to wear to go out clothes shopping.”

“You’ve got good enough clothes to go to Wal-Mart.” Willow said.

“First day back out in the world and you want to take the man to Wal-Mart?” Gunn asked.

Xander looked over at him. “I’ve fought Giftox demons in the ring. I can face Wal-Mart.”

Gunn thought it over. “That’s the only qualifications I would take. Still, be careful.”

Now excited, Willow hopped to her feet. “I’ll make a list, and then we’ll take you upstairs so I can measure you. It’s not good to start out not having a clue about sizes.”

Oz leaned in and said quietly to Xander, “Be brave, man. If you start to wig, you know she’ll bring you right back.”

“I know. That’s why I can bear to go.”

Xander finished his meal and let Willow take him upstairs to Midra’s sewing room for a good measuring. In his room below them, Spike easily heard their conversation about shopping and Xander joking about driving. He closed his eyes to dampen the unreasonable anger. Xander was going to go out driving with him. Then he suddenly knew what Willow had meant. He had to apologize.

Sod it! One thing Spike wasn’t good at was apologies. He listened to them walk down the stairs and leave the house. He followed their progress to the garage and listened to the car drive away. Spike picked up his notepad and pen and went upstairs to Xander’s room. The door was standing open and the man had not told him to stay out.

Spike crossed to the sun-lit chair and sank down upon it. He bit the tip of his pen and started to write.


As Willow turned out onto the main road, she looked over at Xander. “Tell me when you want to go home, okay?”

“Home. I will. Did you know I kept the keys to my apartment? Even after Sunnydale went all hole, I carried the keys. Not my car keys, though.”

“Huh. I did, too. I still have a key to Ravello drive somewhere.”

“You’ve built quite a home for yourself, Willow. I’m flattered to be a part of it.”

“Xander.” She reached over and took his hand. “you’ve always had a home in my heart.”

He squeezed her hand and let her reclaim it and put it safely on the wheel. “Thank you, Wills. But do I really rate the biggest room?”

Willow laughed. “Do you want a smaller room? There are three more to choose from. All guest rooms.”

“I do like that room…”

“Then stay there. Share the window with Spike and no one will have a problem with it. Well, Buffy might complain, but she enjoys that.”

Xander laughed. “Yeah, I can share the window.”

“He feels bad, you know.”

“I know. But… I can’t let him walk all over me, Willow.”

“Just know that he’s fragile, too. He hides it, but his soul digs at him.”

“Yeah. I remember.” Xander cast about for some way to turn the topic of conversation. “You say we can talk to Giles over the computer? Through a crappy little picture?”

“Oh, Xander!” He knew he’d hit on her love of computers. “You don’t know all the good technology there is now!” He relaxed and let himself worry secretly about Spike as Willow went on about bandwidth and new micro chips. His attention snapped back when she brought it back to shopping. “We could buy you a lap top of your own! There’s a wonderful computer shop in the mall and the new…”

“Whoa! Slow down. I don’t need a new toy just yet. Let me get some clothes, first.”

“Okay. But I do have an old one I can set you up with. It’s not super fast, but you can learn on it. You were talking at dinner the other day about all the music you need to catch up with. The whole house is wireless. I can get the old laptop out and you can download what you want. I even have a MusicBox I’m not using but it only holds a hundred songs. I got it free with my new laptop, but I have a better one.”

“A hundred songs?”

And so they talked and shopped.

Xander returned home wearing new clothes with an arm full of bags. He and Willow soon drew everyone into the living room with their happy chatter. They recounted how Willow turned the tables on a woman who was looking down on Xander’s shabby clothes by telling her Xander had lost everything in a fire. On their brief trip to the mall, a pretty bookseller shamelessly hit on Xander; practically following him around and carrying his purchases to the counter for him.

“I think it was because I was buying so much,” Xander blushed.

“Bull!” Willow cried. “You’re hot, Xander.”

“No. I’m not.”

“Riiiiight. Hey! Where’s Spike? She told me one of the books he’d ordered was in.”

“He went out a little while after you did,” Gunn said. “Don’t know where.”

Xander’s good mood crashed. “I think I’ll take some of this upstairs.”

“I’ll call you for dinner,” Midra said.


Upstairs, Xander immediately found the neatly folded note. It was sitting on a chair which had been set in the middle of the rug.

Xander chewed his lip as he opened it, and was puzzled to find a verse of poetry.

Too often between brothers a word

Wounds more deeply than a sword.

Perhaps another word, spoken in due haste,

Can heal the rift, and avoid the waste.

I’m sorry I mocked what you hold dear

I hope this makes our course again clear.


See you tomorrow.


Poetry? When had Spike had time to find the right bit of poetry? Still, he had apologized. His mood lifted, Xander wondered when he’d be back.

On his way down to dinner, Xander stopped at Spike’s room. In his chat with the admittedly attractive and intelligent bookseller, he’d told her about the bike Spike was restoring and she’d shown him a book about the history of the Indian motorcycle that had just come in. Xander didn’t think she worked on commission, but it looked like something all the guys would enjoy. He sat it on the floor and leaned it against the door where the vampire would find it. He jumped when the unlatched door opened, letting the heavy book thump to the floor. Xander started to just close the door, but curiosity got the better of him. 

There was not much in the room. It was very simply and tastefully decorated in warm browns, tans, and punctuated with blue the color of a Siamese cat’s eyes. Absently, Xander noted how the blue matched Spike’s eyes at times. The room was smaller than his own and heavy curtains blocked the sun from the one window. A few pieces of clothing were scattered around. The blankets had been thrown into place, or perhaps Spike slept on top of them. A sword in its sheath leaned in the corner. A stack of books lay on the bedside table and more were in a sloppy pile under the window. A little TV with a video game attached sat atop the dresser.

Xander knelt down and looked over the titles of the books, wondering if the poetry book Spike had quoted was there. Of course, there was a whole library in the room above, but he thought the book would be here.  They were fiction novels and surprisingly a few biographies. No poetry.

Xander turned off the light, closed the door all the way, and left the book as he had intended.

After the meal, Gunn took Xander into the tidy office and went over details of Xander’s location and the timing of the event. He was very careful to stay away from any personal details. After three hours, a couple of phone calls, and several visits to various government websites, Gunn declared him pretty much back in the land of the living. The following week he had to appear in person at the court house.

“You should call your mother before the government does, Xander.”

He sighed and ran his hand over his hair. “Yeah. I should. First thing in the morning, okay?”

“I’ll print out the information you need and you can call when it feels right. Thanks, Xander. I’m sorry I had to do all this…”

“Gunn, I am more grateful to you than you know. I was worried about a media circus. I really don’t want to make the rounds of the talk shows.”

“I’m a pro. It won’t happen. Want to raid the cookie jar?”

“I’d love to.”

Willow intercepted them. “Xander! Do you want to talk to Giles? It’s almost G-Time!”

Xander moaned. “Oh, Willow. I do. I really do. But, tomorrow? Can I talk to him tomorrow?”

“Oh. Sure. I guess you’ve been digging things up.”

“Yeah, “ Xander laughed dryly. “I’m alive again. Now I know how Buffy felt.”

That night, Xander lay awake. Thoughts about talking to his mother haunted him. What could he say? “Hi, Mom! Guess what, I’m not dead and you have to return the insurance money. By the way, how was Dad’s funeral?”

And Giles. He loved Giles like a favorite uncle. There were times the man literally laid his life on the line for all of them. He had been the last person Xander had talked to before he set out on that fateful shopping trip. And the stroke? How could he face that?

He hoped Spike wasn’t mocking him with the poetry. He had seemed almost jealous when he’d mentioned reading poetry with Anthony.

Xander looked at the shape of the stack of books on the table. One of them was the complete poems of John Donne. Anthony had an often voiced regret that he’d never been able to get this hands on that very book. Travelers so rarely read poetry. Now Xander could read all those poems Anthony only barely remembered. The loss hit him again, hard. He punched his pillow in anger.

Damn Spike. He’d lost people before. He’d seen the vamp when Buffy died. Maybe they could talk about it. Suddenly, often-suppressed tears welled to the top. He rolled to his side and hid his sobs in the pillow. Jessie, Mrs. Calendar, Joyce, Buffy, Anya, Anthony, his father, the potentials and new slayers he’d barely gotten to know, the past five years of freedom… all his losses surfaced.

And he let it go. When the tide finally subsided, he lay as one washed ashore, wishing he could call out for Spike and see how his friend felt. He wanted to talk about that hard summer after Buffy died and to apologize for shutting him out. He wanted to know of another’s losses.

But Spike wasn’t there.

18 Mom

Oz snuggled up behind his still-drowsing wife and kissed the back of her neck.

“Oh, James,” Willow said, pressing back against him, playing a running private joke, and naming a movie star she’d once called cute.

Oz nipped her neck and growled a little. “Not James,” he said through his teeth.

“No. No. I said… Rains. Supposed to rain.” She giggled, rolled over, and kissed his nose.

He growled again, nipped at her and rolled over on top of her. “Mine!”

She smiled and bared her throat to him. “Of course, my love. Always yours.”

He kissed her neck and shifted down to lay with his head on her chest. Theirs was a comfortable marriage, full of  humor and security. Every morning they took a few minutes to themselves.

“Spike didn’t come back last night, did he?” Willow asked.

“No. I didn’t hear him. I hope he hasn’t done a runner.”

“I doubt it. He knows Xander needs him.”

“True. I hope Xander knows he can come to any one of us.”

“I’m sure he does. I wish you’d let me go to him last night.” Oz had heard him crying, yet kept Willow from investigating.

“If he needs us, he’ll come. He’s not one to run from trouble any more.”

Willow sighed and ran her fingers through Oz’s short red hair. “He’s the same and yet he’s not. You should have seen him with that tree branch. I almost wet myself.”

“I’ve watched him fight, I can believe it.”

“I just wish we could catch a break and get the bastard who did this to him.”

“We will, sweetheart. Xander himself has been giving us lots of data.”

“Speaking of data, I’m going to give Xander my old laptop.”

Oz shifted and looked up at her. “Just make sure all the pictures are off it.”

Willow giggled. “I’m going to reformat it and give him a blank slate.”

“Good. And when do I get to take pictures of you in that new outfit?”

Xander heard Willow’s laughter as he passed their door. He smiled warmly and moved on to leave them their privacy.

No one was downstairs, so he grabbed an apple, some juice, and a pop tart and headed out to the barn. He used his new key and let himself in the empty building, climbed the ladder to the loft, and pushed open the doors that were once used to hoist up hay bales. He sat on an old sofa that partly made up a sitting area and looked out over the lawn to the misty trees.

He had eaten his snack and was enjoying the sun’s morning warmth when he heard a noise below him. Silently, he dropped to his knees and scurried to the edge of the loft. He peeked over the side and watched as a door below him opened. Spike stepped through with a package under his arm. He was wearing black jeans and a long sleeved black shirt. Xander wondered briefly why he didn’t wear his coat anymore and made a mental note to ask. Xander grinned, and without hesitation, dropped the fifteen feet to land behind Spike.  He knocked the startled and suddenly gamefaced vampire to the ground.

Spike rolled, leaped to his feet, and crouched as his opponent did the same. Instead of an assassin, he found Xander, his hair free and wild, matching his crouch. “What’s this, whelp?”

Xander quirked an eyebrow. “Payback, perhaps?” Xander charged and Spike dodged.

They grappled, almost playfully, for fifteen minutes, then Spike stood off a little distance after recovering from a nice rolling toss. “What’s the matter? Still mad? Didn’t you find my note?”

“Yeah. I did.” Xander paused, wanting to ask about what poem it came from, but during a fight didn’t seem right.

Spike tongued the back of his teeth. “Couldn’t you get anyone to read it to you?”

“Old joke, Spike. Almost as old as you!” Xander grinned and charged again, sending them both to the floor. Spike tried some of his more slippery moves, only to find himself countered again and again. They rolled into the weapons rack, and sent staffs and stakes flying. Xander wound up on top of Spike and was the first to grab up a stake and press it to Spike’s chest, deliberately off-target by a good four inches.

“Yield!” Spike called. Xander dropped the plastic stake and grinned down at his friend.

“Got you, didn’t I?” A triumphant Xander put his hands on Spike’s shoulders and pinned him. His hair fell around them like a tent.

“Yes, you’ve got me” Spike said. The air seemed warm and he resisted the urge to grab Xander’s hair with both hands and pull him down for a sarcastic kiss. “Now, are you going to let me up or are you enjoying yourself up there?”

Xander shrugged and bounced just a little. He could feel Spike’s sharp hipbones and ribs. Suddenly, he remembered straddling another vampire he fought with like this. Quickly, he got to his feet and held out a hand for Spike. “Something to sit on,” he mumbled.

“Something to sit on,” Spike echoed as he let Xander help him up, hiding his disappointment with more snark. “There are more interesting things to sit on.”

Xander got back in their game, smirked, and started picking up to the weapons. “I know.” They tidied up the barn together. “So where did you go?” Xander finally asked.

“To town. Let off some steam. Ate an attempted rapist. Picked up a bike part and my book. My book! Damn it, Harris, you better not have damaged it.” Spike stalked over to his dropped package and picked it up.

“Sorry if I did.” Xander followed him. He just glimpsed a colorful cover before the vampire tucked it back in its bag. “What cha got?”

“Birthday present for Niblet. I was going to hide it out here. It’s fine. Lucky for you.”

“Sorry. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

“You got me good, I’ll give you that. You need to tell me more about your mysterious trainer.” The more the concepts of sex and vampires surfaced, the more certain Spike was there had been more than a professional relationship there. Of course, the bite scar on Xander’s leg said that, too.

Xander’s smile faded. “I will.” He looked away. “He was a good man, Spike, for all his nature.”

Spike cursed himself. He wasn’t going to bollocks it up again. “It happens, you know.”

Xander met his eyes. “I know, Spike.”

Spike ducked his head. “Sorry I said bad things about…”

“It’s okay. You got distracted by something shiny and forgot to not snark.”

“Yeah. That was it.”

Xander felt the need to hug his friend, but just slapped him on the back instead.  “Wanna see what’s for breakfast?” Spike hid the book up in the rafters as Xander dusted himself off.

Spike and Xander opened the outside and the basement doors into the kitchen at almost the same time, making Midra jump. “Xander! I thought you were still upstairs asleep. Spike! When did you come back?”

“I went out to the barn to watch the sun come up.” Xander said.

“Just got back,” Spike smirked.

“Well, you may as well sit down and eat while you’re here.”

“Just a bit of tea for me, Luv,” Spike said as he sat down.

“You know I don’t keep tea ready. I’ll put the water on, you make your own.”

“Bloody Americans.”

Midra grinned. “I passed that test with flying colors. Did better than you!”

“Why should I keep up with who the bloody hell votes on things? Not like I vote.”

The rest of the household shortly filtered in and Xander relaxed in the familiar banter.

After breakfast where they all talked and laughed, Willow and Dawn dragged Xander off  to the office to introduce him to his new laptop. Spike quietly recovered his package and went upstairs. He hid the new book and picked up a battered paperback. Hearing that Xander was still downstairs, he went up to read in the sun.

When Xander finally broke away from the ladies, he came back to his room with the new computer under his arm. He paused in the door when he discovered Spike with one of his new graphic novels open before his face. “Now who’s reading comic books?”

“I am, now shut up and let me finish.”

Xander chuckled and set his new toy on the table. “Gunn is looking for you.”

“Oh?” Spike said without looking up.

“He’ll be in the office.”


Xander left the vampire and went into the bathroom to shower. When he came out, the room was empty. Several of his graphic novels lay on the chair. He sat down at he table and turned the laptop on. Willow’s instructions swirled in his head, but he managed to connect to the Internet. He typed in his new password, jellyfilled1, and stared at the screen. So much was out there, where to start? He looked around the room and his eyes settled on the folded paper he’d left by his bed. He could find where Spike’s poem came from and one-up the vamp.

He found Google, and typed in the first line in quotes as Willow had showed him with no results. Puzzled, he tried various phrases with equal lack of luck. After fifteen minutes, he gave up and looked for naked pictures of Seven of Nine.

When Willow knocked on the partly open door later, she found Xander sprawled on the bed reading one of his new books. She sat down on the bed beside him. “Catching up with the X-Men?”

“Uh-huh. This Weldon guy is great.”

Willow picked one up and looked at the cover. “Whedon,” she corrected. “Hey! You need to watch the Wonder Woman movie he directed. She’s gorgeous!”

Xander put his book aside and smiled at his friend. “Show it to me, soon. Okay?’

“It’s a date. Oh! Gunn says to remind you to call your mother.”

“Eep!” Xander sat up and picked up a pillow. “I don’t know what to say to her, Willow.”

“How about ‘Hi, Mom. I’m home.’”

“That’s better than some of the ideas I’ve had.”

“Come on. I’ll be right here with you. It’s like the homework you never wanted to do. Just get it over with.”

“You’re right. Where’s a phone?”

They crossed the hall into the library where a few comfortable chairs sat here and there. Willow pulled  a piece of paper out of her pocket and handed it to him. “Here. You want me to stay?”

“No. Thanks, Wills. I’ll… I’ll be okay.”

Willow gave him a quick hug and left him alone.

Xander fell into one of the chairs and stared at the phone like the alien thing it was. The last time he’d talked on one was the day he’d been abducted. The connection from Africa to England was staticy and Giles had been distracted by some disaster Andrew had caused. He sighed and picked it up. Carefully, he punched the numbers and leaned back when he heard the ringing on the other end.

“Hello?” Came the well-remembered voice.

“Hey, Mom, it’s Xander. I’m home.” His voice cracked and he felt his throat tighten.

“Xan... Xander? Baby? Where? Where are you?”

“I’m in California, Mom. My friends… my company rescued me.”

“Where have you been, sweetheart? I… Did you go native?” She asked with an uncomfortable laugh. “Mr. Giles told me how they searched. Then we couldn’t find you after so long, we thought…”

“I was held captive, Mom. I wanted to come home, I was on the way, but I was kidnapped and… kept.”

“Oh, my poor baby. How are you  now? Are you being taken care of? Are you healthy?”

“Yes, Mom. I’m with friends. Good friends. I’ve got a lawyer who will take care of all the legal things.”

“Good, that’s good. I’m doing well. I…” She paused, and Xander closed his eyes, just knowing what she was going to say. “Baby. Did they tell you about…”

“Dad,” Xander rasped. “Yeah. They did. I’m sorry, Mom.”

“The big idiot. We always knew…” She was crying and laughing at the same time. 

“Yeah, we did. What are you doing now?”

He heard her sniff and blow her nose. “I’m here in Houston with my sister. You know, Kitty? I… I got my license to sell real estate like I always wanted to. I’m doing real good. And I lost twenty pounds!”

“Oh, Mom! I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks. Oh, Xander. I always knew you’d come back.”

“I always hoped I could.”

“Um… I hate to do this, but I have to show a house in thirty minutes, and…”

“It’s okay, Mom. We’ll talk soon. I love you, Mom.”

“I love you, too, Xander. I always have.”

Xander hung up the phone and sat staring at nothing. His mother sounded happy. She wasn’t just sitting around, and he was very pleased for her. Now he just had to talk to Giles, sign a bunch of papers and he’d be back to being a real person. Whatever that meant.

He went to his room, dressed in his new work clothes, and collected Oz for a business walk up to the Gazebo. He felt best in the open air where freedom was all around him.

After dinner, where Spike teased Dawn about her birthday gift, Gunn took Xander aside for a bit more paperwork. Afterward, Willow whisked him off to the theatre room to watch “Wonder Woman,” eat too many snacks, and recuperate from his busy day. When the movie was over, Xander found himself yawning and looking for Spike.

He carried the empty popcorn bowl to the kitchen. Midra was just closing the refrigerator. “What’s got you up so late?”

“Gunn wanted a cold drink. My man doesn’t always get around as well as he’d like.”

“Oh. Sorry to hear that.”

“Don’t you worry none about him,” Midra smiled. “He’s never been happier. You looking for that vamp of yours?”

“Who? Oh, Spike. Yeah. I wanted to ask him something.” Xander couldn’t stop wondering about the poem.

“He’s out tinkering on his bike again. You could always go help.”

“Nah. I got up early. It’ll keep.”

“Take your time, Xander. It’s a good thing,” Midra said as she left the brightness of the kitchen for the dim hallway.

Xander shook his head, puzzled. The woman was sweet, but said strange things sometimes. With a yawn, he switched off the lights and went up to bed.

19 Drusilla

Spike hesitated outside of Xander’s door. He could hear the human asleep inside; his heartbeat slow and even. Spike didn’t want to wake him up, but he wasn’t sleepy and his book was on the chair where he’d been reading in the sun earlier. Spike turned away, then back. He wanted his book, as he only had two chapters left. Decision made, Spike slowly pushed the door open. He heard Xander’s heart speed and his breathing quicken for two breaths.

“Spike?” came the sleepy voice from the bed.

“Yeah, mate. Sorry I woke you,” Spike stepped into the dark room and crossed to the chair.

“What’s up?” Xander said in fluent pillow.

“I just want my book. Go back to sleep.”

“You don’t have to.”

Spike picked up his book and paused. “Do what?”


“Well, I’m not sleepy, and it’s at a good part.”

Xander rolled to his side with his back to the room, and curled up around his pillow. “You can talk to me.”

“But you’re already asleep.”

“’m not. Not much.”

Spike chuckled. “Okay.” He sat on the chair. “What shall we talk about?”

Xander flopped an arm and patted the empty mattress. “Com’ ‘ere.”

Spike hesitated then went around the bed to sit down. “What’s up?”

“No,” Xander said and lifted the blanket. “Come here. Lonely.”

“Oh. Give me a second, let me get comfortable.”

“Not too comfy.”

“I’ll keep my hands above the covers,” Spike said with a smile.


Spike took off his boots, socks, and shirt, then slid under the covers. He lay with his hands under his head and watched the ceiling fan turn.  He listened as Xander’s breath deepened, but the young man did not fall asleep.

“Spike?” he finally said.

“Yeah, mate?”

“You said you’d tell me about Drusilla some time.”

Spike turned his head to look at Xander’s closed eye. “What brought this up?”

“Last night I was thinking about people I’ve lost. We’ve lost. Tonight, I was thinking about sex. About firsts: Anya.”

“I thought Faith was your first.”

“Yes… first sex. Not first… love making.”

"Why are you thinking about me and sex anyway, fancy me maybe?" Spike risked a joke.

"Wasn't. As if.” Xander calmly countered. “I was thinking about me and sex and the mental paths somehow crossed. Faith… Anya… you and Anya… you and… others… you and Drusilla.”

Spike could hear no anger or accusation in Xander’s voice when he mentioned his one time indiscretion. “I am sorry about that, Xander.”

“’bout what?”

“Anya, me, Magic Box.”

“Oh. It’s long over, Spike. We were on a break. ‘sides she was hot. I can’t blame you.”

“So, what led you to thinking about Drusilla? You think she was my first?”

“I dunno. Wasn’t thinking about that. I’m sure you had no trouble getting dates.”

Spike watched Xander breathe for a minute, wondering at the changes once more. The man wasn’t teasing or mocking. He honestly thought that. “Dru was my first,” he confessed, looking away.

“Really?” Xander’s eye popped open. He studied Spike’s sharp profile in the dim light.

“Really. It was the Victorian era, mate. I barely had any idea what a woman looked like without clothes on. If it weren’t for the woodcuts in the family bible, I would’ve had less of a clue.”

“Damn. You were, how old? Thirty-five?”

“Oi! Twenty-six. Have I ever looked thirty-five? No.”

Xander giggled and closed his eye. “So you died a virgin yet you teased me about how little I got in high school.”

“I’m evil. It had to be done.”

Xander blew him a raspberry. “So, Drusilla, huh?”

Spike sighed. “My black princess. I more than made up for a breathing life of chastity in the first month, even.”

“How long?”

“Oh, one time we fucked for maybe three days straight.”

“Uh. No. I mean, how long were you together?”

“A hundred years, off and on.”

“I thought you were constantly together.”

“No. We’d have our spats and she’d send me away. The longest we were apart was a year. But we always came back together like two strong magnets.” The pain of the loss of Dru washed up anew and he pressed it down. “Sometimes I wake up alone and my first instinct is to find Dru and make sure she’s safe.”

“That sucks.”

Spike shrugged. “It’s not so bad any more.”

“When’s the last time you saw her?”

“Three years ago. I was up in Seattle on business when I felt someone following me.”


Spike had felt someone near, watching him all night. It was like an ache from a sword through his gut. It pained him, but at the same time it was oddly comforting.

He spent an hour at a bar, slowly sipping a drink and hoping his tail would show. When he grew impatient and left, turning toward the ocean, and attempting to lead his stalker into the open by the docks. Once near the water, he ducked into an alley and waited atop a heavy machinery crate some ten feet into the shadows. Finally the ache grew stronger and a well-known silhouette appeared.

“You can’t hide from me. The fish will always whisper where you are.”

Spike felt his chest tighten and he jumped down from where he’d been perched. “Drusilla!”


“I didn’t think it was her dogging my steps. Don’t know why. I think maybe I didn’t want to be let down when it wasn’t her.”

Xander could hear the longing in his voice.


She glided down the dank alley towards him. “Did you bring me here because of our first date? Such a pretty boy you were. Effulgent.”

Spike stepped toward her, his hand out in the courtly gesture they’d always shared, but she wrapped her arms tightly about her black corseted bosoms and turned away with a pout. “Dru…” he said softly over the tightness in his throat.

“You’re effulgent again. You went and found it. Wrestled it from the ether for her. You swallowed it down and now it chokes you like the fog you were born in.”

“Yeah. It does, princess.”

“Not your princess.” She turned sad eyes on his slumped shoulders. “First Daddy, then you. Grandmummy came back and I was her mummy, then she left again. It was her sent me to you. And you, bad boy, played and gave me hope.” Drusilla was suddenly before him, glaring up into his face with all the spite she had.


“She mocked me for getting a soul. For getting it for Buffy. She reminded me that Angel had left her when he got his, too. Then Darla brought back and gone again. Poor Drusilla. All alone in the world. Truth be told, I was surprised she was still around. Pleased, but surprised. She gave me one of her cryptic warnings about Angel. I tried to tell him about it, but he never put as much store in her powers of seeing as I do. Stupid bloody fool never listens.”

Xander wondered again about the rift between them, but that was a conversation for another night. Spike closed his eyes, forced out a breath, then continued.


Spike looked into her eyes and once more saw the spark of the woman he loved under the evil and the madness. He reached for her as they had always reached for one another. “My princess…”

She hissed and her carefully painted nails dug deep furrows into his cheek. “Don’t, Spike! I asked you once to return to me and you held wood to my chest. She’s gone now, left you for cinders, and you’re all alone. Tried to play with Daddy like I did, but he’s gone, too.”

Spike ignored the blood running down his cheek and dripping onto his coat. He easily translated Dru’s babble. “Angel’s not gone. I saw him last week.”

“Daddy’s gone. Never coming back. Angelus is finally caged.”

He learned long ago to respect her visions. “What are you saying, Luv?”

“He doesn’t want to play vampire games any more. He wants to play house and own a doggie.” She giggled and whirled away. “He wants to play house with a doggie.”

“His girl? The werewolf?”

“Yeah. Only I know the secret.” She pouted again and plucked at her skirts.

“Tell me, Luv,” Spike coaxed. “If you care even a little?”

“If he doesn’t let the demon out for a run, the demon will take him out for a run.”

Spike pondered this. “If he ignores his nature?”

Drusilla nodded and her mad laugh bubbled up, sending a tingle down Spike’s spine. “The stars tell me. Something less than Angelus will kill daddy.”

“Oh,” Spike filed this away. “Dru, luv. Where have you been?”

“Everywhere. Children don’t taste the same everywhere. Remember Spike?”

Spike clenched his fists in his pockets at the upsurge of his soul. He looked away from her. “Yeah. In India they’re sharp from the spices on their skin.”

“In America they’re sluggish like lard from all the sugar. Remember the games, Spike? All the pretty, pretty games? The orphanage where we got some watchers too?”

Spike nodded, then lashed out at the crate beside him. It exploded into splinters and bubble wrap. Without realizing it, he snatched a broken board and clenched it in his fist until blood dripped from it.


“She reminded me of all the bloody, horrific fun we used to have. The innocents we corrupted together.” Spike paused and Xander studied his profile. “A part of me, Xander, wanted it back" he said softly. "Bloody hell, even after all the gnawing from my soul I just didn’t want to be lonely any more. A mad part of my mind wondered how much more evil I would have to do before my soul gave up and left me in peace. Or left me entirely.”


Drusilla waltzed over to him and lifted his shaking hand to her lips. Their eyes met as she licked the blood from his knuckles before holding the stake between them with a point at either end pressing their chests. Slowly, she licked her lips. “My Spike. My bold knight. You never really left me, did you? Come kiss me and let our dust mingle as our lips meet.”

Spike raised his other hand and pressed it to her cheek. “Dru, you mad thing, it would only kill me and not you. Your point’s not over your heart.”

“Oh,” she pouted. “It doesn’t beat, so I forget.”

Spike stepped back slightly and tossed the stake away. He pulled her into his arms before she could protest. Their hands were everywhere as they pushed at each other’s clothing. Spike wrapped his long fingers around her tiny waist and carried her to the rough wall. With remembered ease, he navigated under her complicated skirts and thrust inside her. She wept into his shoulder-length hair as he morphed to the demon and bit her neck, tasting again the blood of his sire.

He tasted youth and vigor and knew she’d killed a child this very night. He reached a hand down to where their bodies joined and twisted her clit in the way he well knew. She screamed and bit into his neck as they both came, feeding on the shared pleasure and angst.

Spike’s chest heaved as he met Drusilla’s still-yellow eyes. “You taste like sunshine, Spike,” she said sadly. “When I was a little girl, I liked to hold flowers to my cheeks and lick the pollen from my fingers. That’s gone.”

Spike let his softening cock slip from inside her. He placed her gently on her feet. He found his cast off t-shirt and carefully cleaned his emissions from her thighs. Reverently, he placed a kiss at her moist center and lowered her skirts, soothing them over her narrow hips. He re-pinned a lock of her hair and rubbed a bit of blood from her chin before pressing his forehead to hers.

“Drusilla. You will always be in my heart.”

“And your soul.”

“Yes. In my soul. I do admit there are times I wish I could cast it aside and go back to our days of play…”

“But you never will. I tried to ignore the stars but they’re too loud.”

Spike pulled back. “Good bye, Dru,” he said softly. He took one last in her mad brown eyes, at the woman he loved once last time, then picked up his coat and headed back to the empty room he was calling home.


“I couldn’t resist and I had her again, up against the wall, with all the passion and blood of the old days. God, it’d been so long. I should have killed her. I knew it was the just and right thing to do, but I’ve never been a sodding white hat. I loved her too much. Sometimes I hear news reports of missing children and wonder just where in the world she is. Feel bloody rotten about it, but I could never kill the one person who ever so totally loved me. Makes me feel like maybe one day I could be loved like that again.”

Xander knew that emptiness, the desire to be with a lost lover again. He envied Spike this opportunity which he could never have.

Spike heard Xander sniffle and looked over at him. He caught the warm brown eye brimming with tears before the big man rolled over and out of bed. “Be right back, gotta pee,” he muttered.

Spike rubbed the heel of his hand over his eyes, dashing away the tears there. Damn the boy for stirring things up. Still, it was good to have someone to talk to about such things. Hell, at this rate, I should maybe refund part of my pay… Nah.

Xander went to the bathroom and closed the door. He looked himself in the eye and considered what he’d heard. Spike is lonely, as lonely as I am. For some reason, he had never considered this. Since he’d come back, he hadn’t seen any signs that the vampire was anything but happy in his role of lone wolf soldier for hire. Xander felt his stomach do a little flip, but pushed any notion of an idea of that flavor away. Spike is my friend, my pal, my fighting partner, nothing else. Xander blew his nose, relieved himself, and looked himself in the eye as he washed his hands. Just like Anthony was… Xander’s brow bunched angrily and he snapped off the light, ridding himself of the treacherous Xander who was feeding him such comparisons before memories of the lean body pinned beneath him earlier could resurface.

When Xander came back, the bedside light was on and Spike was sitting against the headboard with his book open before him.

Wordlessly, Xander climbed into bed and made himself comfortable with his back to the vampire without looking at him. After fifteen minutes passed and Spike still hadn’t turned a page, Xander rolled over and sat up. He looked Spike straight in the eye. “You don’t have to wake up alone if you don’t want to,” he said in an almost commanding tone.


“Yeah. You can stay in here with me if you want. If I want to be alone, I’ll tell you and you do the same. The bed’s big enough and it doesn’t mean anything other than camaraderie, okay?” Xander babbled.

“Thanks, Xander.”

Xander abruptly turned his back again and pulled up the covers. “Don’t thank me.” He said briskly. “I’m being selfish for once. I'd been meaning to ask you if you wanted to stay once in a while. I just remembered to.” He fluffed his pillow and settled down. “And keep those cold feet off of me!”

“Yes, Xander." Spike happily picked up his book to read for real. "Dear.”

20 Norwegian Wood

Xander awoke to find a reassuring weight at his back. From shoulder to hip, Spike was pressed against him, with the smaller man’s spine fitting below his. He closed his eye again, unwillingly comparing this body with another’s. In the caverns it was safest to watch one another’s backs, even when asleep.

Xander let out a great sigh and pushed nostalgia aside. He noticed the newness of Spike’s body. He wasn’t as bony as Anthony and not even near as tall. Spike tended to breathe in his sleep which was something Anthony did only if dreaming, and that was rarely in Xander’s experience. Inwardly, he laughed to himself. Two years he’d known Anthony, and only one of them had they been… together. How could that be considered any great length of experience?

Xander frowned in annoyance at his morning wood that twitched happily at the reflected warmth and comfortable presence. Go away, you. That’s not him. it can never be him. His erection twitched again, throbbing the message that it didn’t care, it would like some of that lean muscular body and nicely dimpled cheeks anyway. Shut up. That’s not the agreement we have and Spike would run for the hills if I suggested it. A throb and a drip said what if he doesn’t? I... We don’t have that kind of relationship. Can’t go there. Besides, I miss Anthony. His erection told him to move on already or at least get some.

Behind him, Spike shifted, pressing his buttocks closer. With a shock, Xander realized Spike had removed his pants some time in the night. His firm ass pressed against his own. Xander’s cock bounced happily as of having had its argument proved right. Xander lay still, hoping Spike would just go back to sleep.

Spike lay still for a few minutes, then moved, shifting as if to roll over. Xander had a sudden vision of Spike’s own morning wood being presented to him, or even worse pressed against him. Xander tossed aside the warm covers and dashed for the bathroom.

Spike rolled over and caught a glimpse of Xander’s bare buttocks disappearing into the bathroom. “You okay, Whelp?”

“Yeah. Fine.”

Spike frowned and stretched. His hand encountered a moist place on the sheets. He grinned and brought his fingers to his nose. Xander’s arousal exploded in his predator’s senses. Spike moved his other hand to his own hard cock. Norwegian wood, isn’t it good? Poor boy was being all shy. He stroked himself teasingly and waited to see if the man would shower and wank off or just suppress, come back, get dressed, and leave real quick.

He listened to Xander brushing his teeth, relieving himself, and washing his hands. To his surprise, Xander walked back in still naked with his manhood proudly hanging free and sat on the bed on top of the covers with his back against the headboard. “Morning, Spike.”

“Morning.” Spike felt his own erection give up the challenge and fade away. “What’s on your busy agenda today?”

“Nothing definite. I think I’m going to talk to Giles today.”

“He’ll like that, Xander. I think he was starting to feel slighted.”

Xander blushed. “It’s awkward, Spike.”

“Didn’t you part on good terms?”

“Oh, the best. It’s just… I’m different now. I’m a different person. What I’ve done…”

Spike sat up and glared at him. “You really think that the man sometimes known as Ripper will turn his back on you for surviving? I can’t believe you still view him as a mild mannered shopkeeper. I know you’ve seen the fire in those eyes.”

Xander picked up Spike’s pillow and hugged it. “You’re right. I know you are.”

Spike felt a twinge of  jealousy for the pillow being pressed to Xander’s body. “Of course I am. Call him today.” He stretched.

“I will. Thanks.” Xander looked away from where the blanket had slid low on Spike’s body, revealing his smooth chest and that wonderful line at the bottom of the abdominal muscles that point downwards… “Did you finish your book last night?”

Spike smirked as he watched Xander flounder. Oh, yes. Biology will win out if nothing else. “Yeah, I did. Thank you for the book on motorcycles, by the way.”

“I want to look at it some time if I could.”

“Of course you can, Xander. Mi libre es tu libre,” he pigeoned.

“Thanks.” Xander was still looking anywhere but at Spike and he kept the pillow clutched to himself. “I like the new laptop, but I had trouble finding any naked pictures.”

“I’m sure Willow deleted them all off the hard drive.”

“Huh?” Xander gawped at him.

“Joke. Kidding. The Osborne’s aren’t into kinky porn.”

“Spike! Don’t even joke like that! They’re my friends!”

“They’re an earth witch and a werewolf,” Spike shrugged. “Deny what you will.”

“Grumble. Stop that.”

Spike chuckled. “So you want naked pictures? Of anyone in particular?”

“Well, I was looking for Seven of Nine…”

“Is the child lock on?” Spike tossed aside the covers and watched as Xander quickly looked away. Oh well, maybe I’ll wear the boy down. Then again, I really don’t want to mess up what we’ve got. Whatever it is.

“What’s that?”

Spike pulled on his discarded jeans and crossed to the computer, conveniently keeping his back turned to the man so he could put some pants on. “Keeps nasty and naked things from popping up in image search. Must protect the kiddies.”

“Um, I don’t know.”

Xander logged on and Spike started sharing computer tips and passing on some of his favorite URL’s. Xander quickly relaxed and marveled at Spike’s computer knowledge.

Soon, they were searching for strange things and laughing at the results like teenagers.

Jokingly, Spike typed in “skinny guys” and the screen filled with images of boney men, many in obscene situations. “Funny, Spike.”

He shrugged. “I thought so.” Then he saw Xander’s embarrassment. So the man wasn’t completely out yet.  “You know, the Internet is a good place to look for song lyrics, too.”

“And poetry.”

“You were looking for something in particular? I noticed your Donne’s poems among the comic books.”

“They’re graphic novels, thank you very much, and I was looking for something."

“Collect a bunch of comic books and put them in one cover doesn’t change what they are. What were you looking for?” Spike’s long fingers poised over the keys, ready to fill in the empty search field.

“You seemed to enjoy reading them. I was looking for the source of the apology poem.”

“I do like them if you must know. I was just mad back then because you wouldn’t let me read any of them you had in plastic. What’s an apology poem?”

“Too often between brothers a word wounds more deeply than a sword,” quoted Xander.

“Oh.” Spike’s hand’s slipped to his lap. “That’s... that’s an obscure poet. He didn’t publish much.”

“Huh. I like it and wanted to read more. What’s his name?”

“You won’t find him on the net,” Spike said quickly.

“Well, unless it’s a huge conspiracy, I’d still like to know.”

“William Aurelius,” Spike mumbled.

“That’s an unusual last name,” Xander pulled the laptop over in front of himself.

“Hey! Do you know about Live Journal? Lots of cool porn there. All the fan fic you can stand.”

“How would you spell that? A r e l i o s? No. Why does it sound familiar?”

Spike sighed and spelled it out. He watched as Xander hit enter and the results filled the screen.  Among the entries for Marcus Aurelius was a listing for “the family tree of Angelus of the line of Aurelius.” 

Xander looked over at Spike. “That’s where I’ve seen it. Angel is a poet?”

“No.” Spike got up and went to the comfy, sunny chair. He picked up another of the colorful graphic novels and flipped through it.

Xander gave him a puzzled look and clicked on the link. After reading a few lines he called out to Spike, “Hey, these people know a lot about Angel!”

“Associates of Wolfram & Hart,” Spike explained. “For a while he kept getting it taken down, but they’d just put it up again.” His fingers tightened  on the book  as he hoped Xander wouldn’t read much more.

“So are you part of his tale?”

“Family, aren’t I?” he muttered.

Xander scrolled down, paused when he found Spike’s name and read some of the early entries. “Ew! You did not feed off an orphanage?”

“Which time?”

Xander turned and looked at him, admittedly a bit shocked. “1889?”

“Yeah. That was mostly Dru and Angelus, but I helped.”

“I think this site is not what I’m looking for.”

“Who wants to know about the poof anyway? Want me to show you Live Journal now?”

“No. Later.” He looked at the list of bloody exploits and remembered something. He searched the page for the name William and there it was.

“London, 1880: A young gentleman named William Blooden was turned by Drusilla. Little is known about his life prior to becoming the vampire known first as William the Bloody and later as Spike. Records show he earned high marks at Cambridge in Classical Studies and Foreign Languages. For two years he served as editor of the monthly student-published booklet ‘The Shield’ that collected submissions of poetry and essays.”

“You wrote it,” Xander said softly. “You wrote me a piece of poetry.”

Spike put down the book. Now that he’d been outed, he may as well take the mockery Xander would dish out. “I did.”

Xander turned to look at him. “Wow. You’ve been published, too?”

Spike shrugged. “Here and there over the years. Never anything much.”

“That’s cool, Spike,” Xander grinned. 

“Wait. You think it’s cool that I write poetry as a hobby?”

Xander came over and sat on the end of the seat. “Sure. It’s hard to write. I admit I tried a few times, and Anthony was encouraging, but…” Xander trailed off and chewed on a nail. “I can’t do it. Thanks for writing me something.”

Spike tilted his head at the suddenly shy man. “I didn’t know how else to say I was sorry.”

“It worked.”

“Hey Xander.”


“You tell anyone and I’ll have to slowly kill you.”

“Fair enough." 



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