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So, a few days ago, I was reading a msg board somewhere. Don't remember where it was, just that they had a link to my website, which is how I found the site in the first place. I was scanning through some of posts, reading about how Xander could be dominant or submissive, but Spike? Was totally a dominant. Seeing him as a submissive -- like, chained up, yes master kind of sub -- was just not true to the character of Spike.

That bothered me. I kinda really like subby Spike, thank you, and I don't think it's really that out of character for him. Granted, I think everybody can be dominant or submissive if the situation is right, but Spike doesn't actually require much finagalling.

So I wrote this. It's unbeta'd. There's ... relatively little porn and a lot of exposition. And how'm I gonna get feedback if I say things like that, huh? Anyway.

Spike as Submissive

Lady Cat

Part One

“I really don’t get it.”

Two pairs of eyes followed Buffy’s hazel ones to look into the other room. Xander was crashed out on the sofa, eye half-closed as he watched whatever was blaring wordlessly at him. Beside hiim—below him—sat Spike, dressed in tight jeans and a tighter wifebeater, leaning against the sofa so his head was just below Xander’s hand. It looked idyllic, really. Two lovers companionably watching television, looking calm and content and perfectly happy just to spend time in the other’s presence.

Except Xander was stroking Spike’s hair.

That wasn’t bad in theory, of course. Most people liked head-stroking, the slow, sensuous massages turning most of them into little piles of kitty-love. It was the way Xander did it. Buffy didn’t know how to explain it better than that. There was something... possessive about Xander’s touch. Something that made Spike seem like an actual kitty, instead of a calm, sated vampire. Something a little darker, a little dirtier than the innocuous action suggested.

Or maybe it was just the collar locked around Spike’s throat that did it.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” Willow said, leaning over Buffy’s shoulder to catch her own glimpse. Her voice was husky, and a little hesitant as she said, “Is it the Spike and Xander thing, because—”

“No, it’s not the Spike and Xander thing. I mean, okay, it is, but not the them being together thing. I get that what I think doesn’t matter, and mostly I think that I don’t matter since they’re so happy together.” That didn’t come out quite right. Buffy frowned, trying to organize her thoughts more clearly.

“You’re not talking about them being together,” Giles offered, helpfully distilling her thoughts for her. “Although, I could object to your not being important. Xander still values your friendship and your opinion, you know.”

Yes, she did know that—although for a while, she hadn’t been so certain of that. But she’d dealt with her own issues and had put a lot of work into her friendship with Xander and she was positive that they were okay with each other again. The way they hadn’t been since ... god, almost ten years ago now. When she’d had Riley and he’d had Anya, before Glory came and helped them mess everything up.

“So,” Willow said, copper eyebrows twitching, “if it’s not Spike and Xander having a relationship, what don’t you get?”

Buffy’s gaze returned to the picturesque scene on the sofa. The way Xander was curled around Spike, despite resting above him, and Spike was canted in Xander’s direction. “It’s Spike,” she said slowly. “And Xander, too, but mostly ... it’s Spike.”

Giles’ cup of tea clicked quietly against the mahogany desk. The new leader of the Council didn’t often splurge funds on himself, but the comforting, dark-wood paneled office with it’s rich furniture—beautiful and comfortable—had been something Giles was adamant about receiving. He had a point, after all. He often entertained important guests and letting them see wealth among the upper echelon—particularly when the other members were scruffy children—but also because three nights out of five he slept in his office. Maintaining a level of comfort was essential.

Leaning back in the opulent, lumbar-supporting chair, Giles eyed Buffy speculatively. “Buffy, you aren’t actually—”

Buffy blinked. Giles was going somewhere with that leading tone in his voice, but she couldn’t figure it out. She looked over to Willow, brows quirked in a silent plea.

Her old friend came through, of course. “Giles! She’s not jealous of Xander for having Spike! Or for Spike, having Xander!” Her indignant expression faltered a little as she turned back to Buffy. “Um, you aren’t, Buffy, right?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I spent two years running away from him because I had the hots for him so bad. You guys!”

Willow looked appropriately sheepish for having doubted Buffy even for a moment, but Giles continued to look thoughtful. It wasn’t a really good look on his increasingly-craggy features, but Buffy dismissed that. She hated remembering anything about Giles getting old.

“Very well. So you don’t object to the two of them together, you don’t object to the two of them being male.” Giles eyebrow lifted. Buffy glared, hard, insulted he’d even implied that. She wasn’t nineteen anymore! Nodding, Giles continued, “You don’t object to them being gay, nor are you harboring any lingering emotions regarding either of them. So what is your problem? And please don’t say ‘Spike’. We all have problems with Spike.”

There would be a time when that joke would go stale. Buffy wasn’t sure when that would be. “But it is Spike,” she said slowly. “It’s the way he acts. The way he’s so ... so ...” Her hands waved, helpless and inarticulate when it came to this. “And Xander’s all into it!” she added, still without truly explaining what she meant. “I mean, okay, I don’t really have a problem seeing Xander as this big caretaker-y person, because he did that for us for years, even though he never did with Anya. But seeing Spike all ... all—!”

She turned to Willow, trusting their best-friends-forever telepathy to kick in and explain what she couldn’t. Willow’s brows furrowed, eyes moving back and forth as she tried to understand—and then abruptly widened. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Oh. Um. Okay. So, Buffy, are you objecting to this, or just, well, confused?”

Thank god her best friend was a witch. A really perceptive witch. “No,” Buffy said, shaking her head firmly. “Definitely not objecting. First of all, not my business. They both seem really happy with it and I am so not calling anyone else on their potentially deviant habits.” Not after Willow had started dating Yolanda, of the tattoos, peircings, fondness for leather, and Tara-like sweetness, among other helpful (and humiliating) learning experiences. “It’s just that this is Spike. Now, you flip them and I can see that, no problem. Okay, possibly still a problem, but I could at least get it, then.”

Swinging her chair around, Buffy was in time to see Giles remove the glasses and start cleaning them. She was so glad that he’d refused the laser surgery Willow repeatedly suggested. How else were they supposed to read Giles, if they didn’t have glasses-cleaning as a barometer? “Ah,” Giles said slowly. “You’re referring to the, ah, method in which Xander and Spike display their affection.”

Willow stood up and closed the door, brushing her fingers over the little blue gem above the door knob that activated a cone of silence-type spell. The magic hummed in the air for a moment, then vanished as Willow curled herself back into the corner of the sofa.

“You’re objecting to Spike being Xander’s submissive,” Giles said plainly.

“Not objecting,” Buffy objected. “So long as Xander’s not hurting him, or being hurt by him, I’m not gonna even think that. And Wills, I love you, but please don’t offer caveats about acceptable kinds of pain. You know what I mean.”

Willow pouted. “Fine, steal my fun.”

Glaring at Willow would only create more of a pout and a ‘talk’ with Yolanda, later. “I’m confused,” Buffy said, hoping to forestall anymore mocking-Buffy games from starting. “I can kind of see why Xander would want that. And why Xander would want that with Spike. But why would Spike ...”

She trailed off, helpless once more as she contemplated the memories of Spike as Xander’s submissive. The one who was occasionally led around on the leash, and who often acted as Xander’s body-servant or butler or whatever the term was. Hell, Spike went statue-silent when Xander told him to! Spike was never silent! And she also knew, due to a very painful and never, ever to be repeated eavesdropping session that Spike was always the, um ‘catcher’ in their relationship. A thought that made her blush every time she had it.

Willow and Giles exchanged glances, falling into that silent communication they’d honed to a fine art over the library table. It had made her feel foolish and immature then and it didn’t help her mood any now.

“Buffy,” Willow said slowly, “are you telling me you’re having a problem with Spike being submissive? With any one? Or just with Xander?”

Thank god, a question she could answer without making herself look like an intolerant bitch. “With anyone,” she said immediately. “Spike really likes being in control,” she explained. “Physically, emotionally, whatever. I can’t see him giving up that control for anyone—even Xander. And no, I don’t mean that Xander’s not good enough or anything like that. Just that Spike likes to be in control and he isn’t going to give that up if he doesn’t have to.”

Giles toyed with the pen she’d bought for his sixtieth birthday. “I believe you’re very much mistaken about that,” he said quietly.

“Really? Cause I’m pretty sure I’m not. Remember, I’ve still got the most one-on-one experience with Spike. Pre-soul, post-soul, the only other person who spent more time with him is probably Angel. I know what I’m talking about, Giles. Spike isn’t going to play bottom. For anybody.”

Firm pronouncement made, Buffy folded her arms over his chest and tried to remind herself that Spike not bottoming for anyone was a good thing. Wasn’t it? Wasn’t being a bottom—or, well, being called one—an insult to guys? Not that there was anything wrong with that, she mentally amended. Just that this was Spike. And no matter what was between her and Spike, seeing him treated like a prized pet was creeping her out. It just wasn’t right.

Giles’ disconcertingly level stare didn’t help matters. Suddenly unsure and afraid she’d said something wrong, Buffy bit her lip.

“You think,” Giles said very, very slowly, “that being a submissive means that you are giving up control. That being a ‘bottom’, as you call it, is the weaker position.”

The tone of Giles’ question told her that saying ‘yes’ would be very, very bad. “Isn’t it?” she asked instead.

Willow’s muttered, “Oh, boy,” didn’t comfort her.

Giles’ sigh was abrupt and forceful. “I had hopes of not having to discuss things of this nature with you lot, you know. Rather, not discussing them again. You were certainly old enough to know the birds and bees before you stumbled into my library. I don’t see why I should be forced to reexplain them to you when you’re well over twenty five—” how nice of him not to mention Buffy’s actually age— “and have had several so-called-deviant relationships yourself.”

“Hey!” two feminine voices cried. Then they both looked sheepish.

“Very well. I could tell you that it is submissives who have the true power in dom/sub relationships, but you won’t believe me. No, really, Buffy,” he said when Buffy opened her mouth to object. “You don’t know how to believe me. Because you have never understood those kinds of power plays. It’s one of the reasons you and Riley had such difficulties, actually. You don’t understand giving up power to gain it.”

Buffy folded her arms even more tightly around her. Thinking about Riley no longer hurt, but the knowledge that she’d hurt him so badly—intentionally or not—still bothered her. “So what can you tell me?”

“That Spike has always been submissive, Buffy,” Giles said gently. “And it has nothing to do with the physical acts he may or may not preform.”

Always a submissive? Spike? Buffy laughed before she realized that Giles was being seriously. “Oh, come on. I slept with him, Giles. He’s not the least bit—that.” Saying the word so much was making her uncomfortable. Discussing the part of her life she hated discussing didn’t help.

“Um, Buffy? Like Giles says. Sometimes it isn’t what you do that decides it,” Willow said. Her eyes were distant, turned inward. “Sometimes it’s all about attitude.”

“Yeah, and he had plenty of that, too,” she snorted.

“Not that kind of attitude,” Giles said sharply, regaining her attention. “Think, Buffy. You’re correct in that you know Spike best of all of us, except perhaps Xander. You say that Spike was overly aggressive with you, and probably very sexually controlling. Did you ever stop to think about why?”

Buffy scowled. Why had she brought this up again? “Because he was a selfish, soulless bastard,” she muttered, mostly to herself.

“One can never forget that, no. Spike is very selfish and he doesn’t always think things through. But I had a chance to speak with him about this and... ” Giles trailed off, his regretful expression pulling Buffy out of her sulk. Why was Giles looking regretful? “I misjudged him very badly. I never gave him credence for having any thought but for himself, when in actuality he rarely does.”

“Um. This is Spike we’re talking about, right?” Willow asked.

“Not when he’s in love, Willow. Not when he finally understands that he’s needed.” Giles tossed his glasses onto his desk with a sigh, rubbing his eyes directly. “Buffy, you were drowning. Without rehashing old issues, you had nothing to cling to and therefore drew everything inside you. Spike was attempting to draw you back out. His methods were not, in retrospect, the most effective, but his intentions were totally valid. Almost honorable, in a way.”

Buffy blinked. And then blinked again. “Spike. Honorable. You, Giles, who tried to kill him in cold blood, just said he was honorable.”

“Yes. I did.” Giles met her gaze, a slight smile setting off a cascade of creases around his mouth. That Giles had so many smile-lines was always a sense of peace inside Buffy’s soul. Her watcher, her friend should have happiness. “You were imploding, Buffy, and he saw it first. He attempted to draw it out the only way he knew how, through pain and fighting and sex. And he was almost successful several times, if you’ll recall.”

She did recall. It hadn’t been all bad, her interlude with Spike. Actually, it hadn’t even been mostly bad. The thoughts of hate and disgust had been in her before she ever kissed Spike, and a decade and more of growing up allowed Buffy to see that even without Spike, she’d have found some way of giving vent to those emotions. It hadn’t been her relationship with Spike that convinced Buffy that she needed to kill her friends to find a sense of ‘normal’, after all.

Oh, he’d made mistakes. Lots of them. And he’d been as selfish as she always knew he could be. But as Buffy sat there, staring at nothing at all, she could kind of see what Giles meant about why Spike had done what he’d done. And why that didn’t give him the dominant position, no matter how many times he’d wanted that, during their marathon sessions.

Then hadn’t been her that got locked in handcuffs.

Willow’s touch made her look up into sad eyes. “It isn’t about control, Buffy. It’s about trust.”

Immediately, Buffy knew that Willow wasn’t talking totally about her relationship with Spike. Or Spike’s with Xander, either.

“Remember when I went crazy? Not when Tara—when I tried to destroy the world,” Willow interrupted herself. “Before. Way before, back when I started realizing how powerful I could be. Do you know what my problem really was?” Willow’s smile was heartbreakingly sad. “I didn’t trust my ability with the magic. And when Tara said something, that only made it worse. It made me into even more of a—a control freak, I guess, and I was so busy convincing myself that everything was okay that it just got worse and worse. And the very first thing the coven taught me was that if I didn’t trust myself—completely trust myself—then I’d never be capable of using magic. Ever.”

It’d taken her years to understand all that, Buffy realized. Comparing this serene, almost yogi like woman with the scarred, battered girl who’d returned from London years before, Buffy could see that that Willow hadn’t gotten it yet. She hadn’t even been close.

Then again, Buffy remembered what she had been like that year. Taking Willow’s hand in hers, she squeezed lightly, taking comfort in the knowledge that as bad as it’d been, they still made it out.

Clearing her throat, Willow made herself smile and squeeze Buffy’s hand back. “What I meant to say,” she said with a teasingly bright grin, “was that Spike wanted you to trust him. He got desperate when you didn’t and acting like a stupid, selfish man—but that’s what he wanted. Your trust.”

Buffy nodded slowly, trying to piece that together in her mind without letting certain thoughts intrude and distract her. Not relevant, not important, and she’d stopped thinking about some of those things years ago, for her own mental health. “Okay. I can kinda see that. Even the aggressiveness as a means of trying to help me. But come on. Spike was with Drusilla for a hundred years.”

“And if you think that Spike was the one with power in that relationship, I assure you, you’re wrong,” Giles told her, smiling proudly at both of them, despite his dry tone of voice. “Spike was never in control, no matter how much he convinced himself of that. Though I doubt he even tried to, actually.”

“But—” Buffy cut herself off, trying to remember the few times she’d seen Spike and Dru together, and then the slightly more plentiful tales Spike had told her of Drusilla. “Huh. Wow. This is kinda making sense. Dru couldn’t take care of herself, so Spike did it for her. Which is a lot like what he tried to do with me, except I wouldn’t let him. And ... ” Her eyes opened wider. “And Xander does?”

“There’s a fascinating study about beta males you could read if you wanted, but essentially, yes. With Xander, Spike is allowed to give all the things he wants to give, because he trusts that Xander wants it. That Xander, well, appreciates it.”

“And with Spike,” Willow added, “Xander gets to do all the things he never could with Cordelia or Anya or even us. He gets to be in control. Not real control, because Spike wants it and allows it and when Spike says stop, Xander does.” Willow flushed rose, but smiled, obviously happy that Xander was so happy—but then, she’d been a big supporter of the Spike and Xander relationship since it first started. “Think about it this way. The one thing Xander’s always wanted to be was the cool, suave, powerful guy. And Spike’s always wanted to be somebody’s. So,” Willow pushed her palms together, “they fit. The beta gets to be alpha, and the, um, other beta understands he has an alpha.”

And the scariest part was that Buffy actually understood all of that. Not just what Willow and Giles were—nicely—beating her over the head with, but all the other stuff they weren’t talking about. Like how Spike and Xander still argued and how sometimes she could see this flash in Spike’s eyes that used to mean someone was gonna get it up against the wall and walk funny for hours afterwards. Which happened, she realized with a start. Their relationship was fluid, shifting depending on their needs. Sometimes they clashed, sometimes they shifted, sometimes it was as perfect as it had been before the door had been shut—just two men so obviously in love with each other.

“Okay,” she said finally. “Got it. But I still have one more question.”

Giles putting on his glasses was officially a sign of the personal stuff being left behind. That was okay with Buffy. She was honestly having a hard time stopping herself from grinning and she felt Willow relax through their still-joined hands. Complicated and often embarrassing stuff over and it was time to regain the funny.

Making herself look as clueless and ‘dumb blonde’ as she could, Buffy pouted at both Willow and Giles. “So why does Spike have to be in those jeans all the time? I mean, come on Xander. You’re missing the entire leather section of the mens store! And the collar? Should have spikes.” She grinned. “It’s appropriate, don't you think?”

Part Two

A companion piece from Xander's POV. And it gets seriously schmoopy.

Xander’s fingers moved in patterns. He didn’t think about them anymore, deviations coming easily, but still pad and nail twisted through the same soft strands they’d visited a few moments before. It could’ve been a sign of staidness, but Xander knew that they both viewed it as soothing. “You think Willow did it on purpose?”

Spike didn’t shrug or otherwise move but Xander could feel his amusement.

“Good boy,” he murmured. His fingers trailed over finely grained skin to slip beneath Spike’s t-shirt to fondle nipple and the ticklish outline of abs. The shirt bulged obscenely around his hand. “You may speak.”

“Probably, Master,” Spike immediately agreed. “She knew that you worried about Buffy understanding and she dislikes the two of you uncomfortable with each other.”

The words were spoken softly. A primness the old Spike never would have allowed himself colored the words, the accent moderated into respectability. Xander liked to hear William’s proper voice coming from Spike’s lips—but that wasn’t why Spike did it. Xander had never once asked or otherwise praised the softer speech or elegant construction. Speaking that way was totally up to Spike; a sign that he had truly relaxed, letting go of things Xander could only guess at, even after so long. Xander reveled in it.

“She wasn’t precisely comfortable with you, either.” Well-trained as Spike was, he shifted imperceptibly closer as Xander’s hand wandered even further south, giving Xander easier access. Xander curled more closely around his boy, knees coming up so they almost brushed Spike’s shoulder, his breath tickling Spike’s ear. He knew how much the warmth and scent of him comforted Spike. “Undo your pants.”

“Yes, Master.”

Xander waited for Spike to undo the buttons, shoving stiff denim away to reveal the prize. His touch remained casual, finger simply running over the cool velvet, occasionally tugging with the same absent air he’d had when toying with Spike’s hair. Beneath him, Spike hardened into desperate need, the tip already starting to grow wet with precome.

“She probably still won’t get it,” Xander mused as he played. “That’s okay. Sometimes I don’t get it.”

Xander never understood how he did it. If it was something in his scent or body temperature or some other unspoken signal—but whenever he wanted Spike to relax out of the rigid series of rules and requests that Xander imposed and Spike worshiped, Spike knew. And always, Spike knew just how far to go before Xander would snap back into the control he’d developed over so long and force Spike back—although sometimes Spike did just that, for both of their pleasure.

Soft lips, petal pink and cool, brushed against his chin and cheek. Blue eyes as bright as the cold winter days Spike never saw gazed up at Xander with what could only be called adoration. There was amusement there, self-possession and intelligence underneath the reverence, and the rock-hard knowledge that this was chosen. Needed, wanted, desired, both the what and the who unshakable. Whenever Xander had doubts—and he did; of course he did—all he needed was that look from Spike and all was well again.

“You understand, Master,” Spike murmured in a voice that said you stupid sod even as it said I love you. “You don’t need to put it in words the way she does, but you still understand.”

Xander snorted lightly, reprimanding by scoring a nail down the underside of Spike’s cock before returning to the absent fondling. “Assuming, Spike? Sometimes I wonder...”

Spike’s hands rose, taking Xander’s free one and began massaging it. The gesture was as habitual and as desired as the patterns with which Xander tugged Spike’s cock, though for a different reason. Crushed into near uselessness in a rockslide, the massage was one of the things that ensured Xander’s continued mobility. That, and allowing Spike to touch him there was almost as intimate—as trusting—as when Spike was allowed to rub around the still-empty socket. Both ached constantly, a low-level pain Xander learned to ignore.

“Master,” Spike purred, bursts of air puffing against Xander’s neck, “not even Giles questions you. And of all of them, he trusts me least.”

Xander didn’t mention that there’d been a time, not all that long ago, when it had been him Giles trusted least. But that was before Sunnydale fell, before Africa, before the mess in Amsterdam that had led him to Spike in the first place. He knew what Spike meant, understood the reassurance for what it was, but...

“Do you miss it, sometimes? Being a dom? Calling me ‘Harris’?”

There was no tremor to betray Spike’s distress, but Xander could feel it anyway. His hand closed tightly around Spike’s cock, warmth and pain mixing into the combination he knew Spike responded to best. Sometimes, privately, he railed against the obvious training Spike had undergone. Both who had done it and how none of those who attempted had ever come close to giving Spike what he needed. And left scars and things Xander had to work hard to undo in their wake.

Lips pressed to Spike’s ear, Xander growled, reminding both parts of Spike that nothing would make Xander relinquish his claim, and added the barest prick of nails to the tight pressure around Spike’s cock. Whether this was previous training or Spike’s own need, Xander had no idea. It’d been so long that it probably didn’t matter anymore.

Spike moaned, high and tight in the back of his throat, then relaxed into the pain.

“Good boy,” Xander said, nipping Spike’s earlobe. “Now then. I was asking you a question, wasn’t I?” His fingers found the indentations his nails had left and caressed them.

This time the silence was that of deep thought. Xander allowed it for a few minutes, cognizant that his friends could open the door to see him stroking Spike off in the middle of Giles’ sitting room. It wouldn’t be the first time, to be honest, but Xander wanted to spare Giles the sight. Willow and Buffy, if past history was any indication, would just watch.

“I wonder how it happened, sometimes,” he said when the silence stretched too long. “It could be me sitting at your feet, Spike. I can imagine it easily. Especially... ” Especially before Africa. That was where he’d finally found that ground he needed to survive, the ability to let go and just relax into the changes Fate threw his way. That’s when he’d given up the bitterness.

“It could, Master.” Spike’s reply was so quiet Xander almost missed it. If not for the rumble of two bodies touching he would have. “I used to think of it, before. When you needed so much... ”

Willow was right, of course. They’d talked about it months ago now, probably years—sometimes Xander’s sense of time was distorted. She’d asked him if he wanted books about what he was doing, or contacts into the ‘scene’ that she could introduce him to. He’d said no. This wasn’t about a scene, where BDSM fanatics punished themselves or were punished by others, no matter how often their play bordered on that. There was nothing a book could teach him that Spike couldn’t teach better. Though he made the rules and enforced him, though he used Spike for his pleasure as often as he was used for Spike’s, though he fondled Spike even now the touch of owner with a beloved pet, though it was Spike who showed his need so obviously—it was Xander’s need that Spike was responding to. Xander was being taken care of, so expertly that if he let himself, he could truly believe that it was the other way around.

So he wondered, sometimes. If Spike missed giving in to the demon’s need for control, the iron-will he’d exerted over himself—although so many would dissolve into hysterics when mentioning Spike and control; they didn’t understand—for so long. “Maybe we could switch some time?” he offered diffidently. “Maybe you could tell me what to do for a little.”

And oh, the option was actually appealing. The thought of doing what Spike told him to for a while. Letting Spike seat him at Spike’s feet, turning his face between wide-flung knees to suck on the offering waiting for him there. To lay bound while Spike rode him, reaching his own pleasure without ever letting Xander find his. To—

“We could, Master,” Spike’s voice interrupted him softly. “If it would please you.”

Xander’s fingers wandered south, finding Spike’s balls to tug and roll them. “The question is would it please you, Spike. You don’t have to belong to me this way to—to belong to me.”

For a moment, one brief moment, Xander swore he could feel sunlight against his skin, hear singing of the most beautiful melody he’d never heard, all wrapped up in the most perfect sense of right that he’d ever felt.

Then he realized that Spike was smiling up at him. That Spike was loving him.

He wasn’t aware when he’d transitioned from stunned amazement and joy to fucking deep into Spike’s throat. He didn’t think Spike did, either, because there was another blink and Xander was sated and dressed, and cuddling an equally dressed—although not sated—Spike in his lap, murmuring words he couldn’t identify the language of, let along the meaning.

It was how the others found them.

Buffy immediately wrinkled her nose, though the way her eyes sparkled made him smile back. “You two were doing icky things, weren’t you?”

“What, I have post-sex face?” Xander teased, rubbing Spike’s collar and neck and threading his fingers underneath it distractedly. It was another gesture done so often it became habit.

“No, but you do have stunned-face,” Willow told him, head cocked to one side. “And Spike’s so blissed out that I don’t need to notice what his pants are not loose enough to hide, thank you so much for that image, Mister.”

“Yolanda says you like looking at him,” Xander dead panned.

Willow brushed sunset red. And then redder still when Xander started grinning wickedly at her. “You two!” she cried, hands pressed to her flaming cheeks. “You’re bad. Very, very bad.”

“Actually,” Spike said, again knowing without any verbal cue that his speech was acceptable, “we’re both very, very good. At least, together.”

And then Xander didn’t have to say he loved Spike back as deeply as Spike loved him. Because Spike already knew.

The End

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