Written for the Un-Ficathon, for altyronsmaker.
The ficathon was the CoSoRanOb Spander Ficathon, and the requirements were as follows: color: kelly green, sound: rain on a tin roof, random object: black panther paperweight, as well as Spike watching Star Trek, some good Xander-speak, and no angst or h/c.
I think I managed all of it but the Xander-speak.
The rain mists down, cool against Spike’s skin. He stands on the balcony, looking out over the green stretch of lawn, looking pleasantly soft and hazy in the morning rain. He’s wearing only a pair of low-slung jeans, and even in the cool air he can feel the heat of Xander’s gaze on him from inside the room.
When he first came to this spot, almost fifty years ago now, there was rain. There is always rain in England. He found the spot and even his demon agreed that it was beautiful. Back then there was no house, just a small shack where he hid from a mob and the daylight, and the rain drummed quietly on a tin roof. Afterwards, a rainbow stretched across the sky, and Spike watched it with something like awe. The night was his time, but the day still held some wonders that could captivate even a creature like him.
He bought the land, and promptly forgot about it when he traveled to America for the first time. He came back to it only twice- once as a safe haven right after Dru was attacked by the mob in Prague, and then for the second and final time when it became home.
“What does it look like?” Xander asks lazily, still stretched out naked on their bed. A cigarette dangles between his lips, and the smoke curls through the air to tease Spike’s nose. Familiar, in a way that incense and roses and madness and blood used to be, before they were replaced with sweat and perfume and fruit shampoo and graveyard dust. Dru, then Buffy, once upon a time.
Nothing compared to this.
“You know those postcards of English estates in the rain?” Spike asks, drawing hard on his own cigarette.
“It’s like that,” Spike says. He doesn’t have to turn around to know that Xander is nodding, thoughtfully, one eye rolling as he thinks (sodding weird habit) and the other staying still- glass is so impersonal compared to flesh. Not Spike’s fault, he knows that now, Xander made sure that he knows. Guilt was never his thing anyway, except for a detour into madness in a school basement. But he had someone fucking with his head- he thinks he could maybe be excused.
“All soft mist and kelly green grass?” Xander asks. Spike nods, not bothering to verbalize his answer, because he knows that Xander is watching him. Xander is always watching him.
He remembers the day he came back to England. Breaking out of a box in the cargo unloading dock, startling a lone worker who fled in terror when Spike flashed fang. His appearance probably didn’t help- torn clothes, ripped skin, splattered with blood- some of it even his. Stumbling out of the cargo bay and into the English night, and he took a moment to just stop and breathe because under the inevitable smog, Spike could smell green. England was so much softer than LA, and he wanted to cry because he'd survived and he was finally home.
Giles welcomed him with open arms at the New Council, no surprise at all on his face, from which Spike inferred that either Andrew had tattled or Angel had made a last call. After a long bath and a very long rest, he learned that it was both, and that there were Slayers in LA cleaning up the mess. Spike felt no guilt for getting out when he did- after all, he’d won the battle, and it wasn’t his job to clean up after himself.
“I missed the rain,” Spike says, his voice as soft as the water drifting down from the sky. “That was the thing I hated most about being in LA. I missed the rain.”
“It rains in LA, too, you know,” Xander says, voice rich with amusement. The cigarette is done now, the butt in the ashtray on the bedside table, and all Spike can smell now is Xander himself.
“Not the same,” Spike says, “and you know it. Rain in LA is as angry as the city itself. It’s never quiet.”
“I know what you mean,” Xander says. “It doesn’t make things grow. It doesn’t heal.”
Healing was hard for Spike, who was more wounded from the battle than he thought. Willow brewed up potions that took care of his physical ailments faster than he could have managed on his own, but the year he spent at Wolfram and Hart hurt him in far worse ways that mere cuts and bruises and broken bones. Willow tried to heal those, too, and she meant well, but she just didn’t understand. Spike spent most of his time avoiding her and her probing questions about what happened and how he felt about it.
Things got easier when Dawn got out of school for the summer. Not only did she distract him from his own problems, but she was also a superb distraction for the witch. She was good enough that it took Spike a full week to realize that she was running interference for him, and Willow never figured it out.
Summer ended though, as all seasons do, and Spike was left alone again with a persistent, well-meaning witch who wanted to fix all his ills. Spike spent a lot of time hiding from her, and London’s graveyards had a frequent visitor. Not that the in-town Slayers needed any help, but… Yeah. He needed to get away.
“What did you miss most?” Spike asks, turning around. He can see, through the balcony windows, Xander lying stretched out on their bed. His skin is criss-crossed with scars, and his grown-out dark hair is silky and tangled from Spike’s fingers.
“I didn’t,” Xander says, stretching a little. The movement does interesting things for his stomach muscles, but Spike is sated enough, and curious enough, to keep himself from getting distracted.
“Miss anything,” Xander says. “When I was in Africa. I assume that’s what you meant?”
Xander showed up just before Halloween, the black patch replaced with a glass eye and his face scarred with three vertical lines on his right cheek. They were only the most visible of marks, and one night, when they were really drunk, Xander stripped down and showed off the rest. Even Spike was a little awed by the marks that covered Xander’s body, and said so. It was like a map of hardships, proud and beautiful. Xander smirked at him and started wearing more revealing clothes after that.
“Yeah, that’s what I meant,” Spike says. “Why, though?”
“There wasn’t much left for me to miss,” Xander says. “Just people, and I could always get ahold of them.”
The day Xander showed up Spike had been in the kitchen, hiding from Willow and trying to convince Mary, the cook, to make him some cookies. There’d been a commotion by the front door, and when Spike went to investigate, Xander was standing there, dressed in worn jeans, gray t-shirt, and a dusty black jacket. Willow was hugging him, crying ecstatically, and when she finally turned him loose, Giles was waiting with a handshake and a manly, back-slapping hug.
Spike wanted to melt away into the woodwork or, preferably, the kitchen, but Xander turned his dark gaze towards Spike, and Spike was frozen in place. Xander smiled at him, one corner of his expressive mouth turning up in a quirky grin, and held out one hand. “Brought you something,” he said, and startled, Spike reached out to take it.
It was a black panther paperweight, and Spike looked up to see Xander still smiling at him. “Got it in Cairo,” Xander said casually. “Reminded me of you.”
“When did you find out that I was back?” Spike asks.
“Just after Andrew did,” Xander says. “He called us all to spill the beans the moment he got back. Took him a couple of days to reach me, but he managed it somehow.”
“What did you do?” Spike says, curious. “When you found out?”
Xander didn’t smile much when he first got back. Spike didn’t know what was going on, but he asked Willow, and she told him that his latest Slayer had just been killed. That explained the lack of smiles, definitely, but it didn’t explain the rest of it. It didn’t explain the new way that Xander moved, balanced and coiled like a fighter, or the way he didn’t say anything unless he had something significant to say. It didn’t explain the feral smile, or the way he spent a lot of his time in the training room, or the skill he’d gained with the sword and quarterstaff. It definitely didn’t explain why he started spending time with Spike.
“You didn’t even like me,” Spike protests. “In fact, if I remember correctly, you hated me.”
“Africa made a difference,” Xander replies. “It strips away everything if you let it, right down to your illusions.”
“And you let it,” Spike says.
At first they were just workout partners, and occasionally sparring partners. Xander didn’t have Spike’s strength or experience, but sometime in the past year or so he’d had training in a style that Spike had never seen, much less practiced, and it evened the odds a little. Spike always won, but it was usually at least a little bit of a challenge, and it was more fun than sparring with one of the junior Slayers, who had a tendency to moon over him a bit.
They mooned over Xander, too, now that he was back. In fact, Spike was all but abandoned while they flocked around the other man, and Spike was both relieved, sympathetic, and unexpectedly jealous. He could easily see the attraction that Xander held for them, and only wished that it didn’t work on him.
“And one of the things that you learned is that you didn’t hate me?” Spike asks. He’s not sure why they’re having this conversation now, but he’s glad that they’re having it at all. Some things have been understood between them since Xander’s return, but that doesn’t mean that Spike doesn’t want to hear the answers.
“Never hated you,” Xander confirms. “Maybe wanted you, and got irritated due to sexual frustration, but never hated you.”
Xander didn’t abandon him for the hordes of gorgeous super-powered girls, however. Instead, he spent even more time with Spike than before, just hanging out, drinking beer, and watching TV. Xander made him watch all the reruns of Star Trek that he could find- once a geek, always a geek, despite Xander’s soul-deep sea change- and Spike had to admit that the show wasn’t half bad. Not that he’d admit that to Xander. Ever.
The worst part was that he was happy. Not that he had anything against being happy, in fact it was a state that he pursued with some enthusiasm, but it was bad because he was happy with Xander. Xander the White-Hat, Xander the ex-loser, Xander the Really Fucking Gorgeous. It was one thing to be attracted to him- irritating, but acceptable- and quite another to actually enjoy his company.
“I didn’t know,” Spike says, still watching Xander from the balcony. “I never thought that you might have wanted me.”
“You probably would have used it against me, if I’d been far enough out of denial and insane enough to admit it to you.”
“Probably,” Spike admits. “That bother you? I was different back then, but…”
“It doesn’t bother me,” Xander says easily. “I would have expected no less, and you didn’t do it this time, which is all that matters.”
When Xander kissed him that first time, Spike honestly wasn’t surprised. Xander had been flirting with him for weeks, and Spike had long ago given up on his irritation with his body’s choice of partner. Xander kissed like he did everything these days- serious, wholehearted, and with a great deal of skill.
Spike gave in and kissed him back, and it was absolutely the best kiss he’d ever shared with anyone. Xander was the one to pull away, and on his face was the most vulnerable expression Spike had seen since he’d returned from Africa.
Spike almost said “I love you,” but it wasn’t true so he didn’t. Instead he said, “I’ve been waiting for that to happen,” and Xander grinned at him like it was Christmas morning and he’d gotten the biggest bike in town.
“I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Julianne hadn’t died,” Xander says, contemplative. “Would I have come back then? If I hadn’t, would you and I still have happened?”
“You might not have come back then,” Spike says. “But you and I would have happened any way Fate threw us together. It was meant to be.”
Spike measured the next part of their lives in numbers. It was a week before they landed in bed together; two weeks before they went out on their first date. Another month before Willow clued in, though Dawn swore that she knew from the start. How she knew when she was at Oxford the whole time, no one was sure, but her emails ever since they got together had contained a disturbing amount of innuendo. Spike toyed briefly with the idea that she’d become psychic, then discarded it as entirely too scary to contemplate.
Two more weeks before Spike gave up on returning to his room in the morning, and just moved his stuff into Xander’s. Six weeks until Christmas, and Spike managed to find a demonic work crew that could do the job he wanted in that time. It was supposed to be a surprise, but Spike always suspected that Xander knew all along.
“Meant to be, huh?” Xander teases. “You really think that every person has a set partner?”
“No,” Spike says, very serious. “But I believe that you and I were made for each other.”
Christmas morning Spike deliberately left no presents for Xander under the tree. Everyone looked at him askance, but Xander just smirked- proof that he knew already, as far as Spike was concerned- and waited. Spike eventually gave in to the unhappy looks everyone was giving him, especially Dawn, and pointed to Xander’s stocking. Xander immediately dug in, and pulled out a key ring with three keys on it.
“Weird gift,” Dawn said, and Spike laughed out loud.
“Not really, Niblet.” He turned to grin at Xander. “They’re for front door, back door, and basement entrance.”
“I think you’re right,” Xander says. “Fate did have a habit of throwing us together. I’m just glad that we caught a clue this time.”
“Me too,” Spike says softly, and Xander smiles at him,
They moved in three days later, into the house that Spike had had built on the property he’d bought almost a century ago. It was both the easiest and the hardest thing that Spike had ever done, but when Xander came wandering into the kitchen in the morning and smiled at him sleepily, Spike knew that he'd made the right choice. That he’d never made a better one.
Silence falls between them, and Spike stubs out his cigarette on the railing. Xander’s gaze follows the movement, as watchful as he’s always been, though Spike never understood it before.
“I love you,” Xander says, and Spike stills. He always knew, but they never said the words before. He’s not sure what it means that they’re saying them now.
“I love you too,” Spike says softly, because he can’t not, and he’s rewarded by the most beautiful smile he’s ever seen. Xander reaches out towards him with one tanned, sinewy hand.
“Come back to bed,” he says, and Spike, without a thought in his head that isn’t about Xander, turns off the light and obeys.
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