"Xan luv, got your favourite here," Spike winked as he set the tray down next to the bed. The old man smiled back; his soft brown eyes grown more faded with age but still able to summon a mischievous twinkle on occasion.

"What've you been up to pet, hmmm?" Spike asked as he helped Xander to sit up, adjusting his pillows, straightening the sheets. "I'll wager it was trouble. Here we go pet, that's it. Comfortable?"

Xander nodded awkwardly and gave the same quiet half smile.

"Still tired pet? Well, let's get some food into you and get you fattened up in case I need to eat you." Xander's eyes crinkled slightly. He made a low noise that Spike recognized as laughter.

"Chin up then pet," Spike tucked the linen napkin in the neck of his pyjama top and moved the tray to Xander's lap. He carefully brought up a spoonful, blowing on it gently, before offering it to the older man.

Xander ate five mouthfuls before turning his head somewhat to indicate that he was full. He lay back against the pillows, eyelids drooping.

"No more then pet?" Spike asked quietly. Xander shook his head as much as he was able. Spike moved the tray to the nightstand. He gently took the napkin and carefully wiped the lips he knew so intimately.

"Do you want to sleep again luv?" Spike stood but Xander lifted his hand slightly with a distressed sound. "All right luv," he caught the lifted hand, stroking the aged softened skin carefully with his thumb. "Shall I read to you then?" Xander's hand squeezed weakly. Spike moved his chair closer to the bedside; seated, he turned to the marked page. Xander's eyes closed and his breathing slowed as he fell asleep listening to the voice that had soothed him over the years.

Spike finished the chapter, closing the book and sombrely watched his sleeping lover. His mind wandered as it often did at these times. He remembered the good times and the bad, snippets of conversations, bits and pieces of their life together through the years.

* * * * * * *

"No, we can't paint the bedroom red and black. I am not sleeping in a bordello."

"Human's have no sense of style."

"Apparently, neither do vampires."

"Right, so I should take the silk sheets back to the store then?"

"Well, let's not be hasty."

"Thought so."

* * * * * *

"Well, go ahead, open it."

"Bloody . . . how?"

"Do you like it?"

"Yeah, yeah, I like it. I like it, a lot."

"Hey, are you okay?"

"Better then okay, the best!"

"Whoop! Yeah I guess you are!"

* * * * * *

"I got the job Spike! They accepted my bid!"

"Well of course they did. They'd be bloody idiots if they didn't"

"Get your coat, we'll go out to celebrate."


"Nevermind, let's stay in an celebrate instead."

"Great minds think alike eh luv?"

* * * * * *

"I can't believe Dawn's actually getting married."

"If he hurts her I'll bloody well kill him."

"If he hurts her, I'll help you."

"Stop fussing with your tie, you look fine"

"I've never walked anyone down the aisle, pet."

"Me neither; ready?"

* * * * * * * *

"Well, what did Willow say, damnit Spike if you aren't going to tell me, give me the phone!"

"No you don't luv."

"What is it a boy or a girl?"

"Blimey! The nibblet's had twins!"

"Twins? Hey, one for each of us!"

* * * * * * *

"She's gone Spike."

"I know pet. I'm sorrier then I can say. Red, well she was a real lady."

"Thanks. She was, wasn't she; she'd get a real kick out of you saying that, a real kick."

"Shhh, lean on me pet."

* * * * * * *

"All I'm saying is that unless you get clumsy or unlucky, you'll outlive me. I want you to outlive me, promise?"

"Yeah, sure all right, I promise, now c'mere and give us a kiss luv."

* * * * * * *

"I'm sorry but the chances of Mr. Harris recovering from the stroke are slim."

"When can I take him home then?"

"He'll need almost constant care, are you sure?"

"Yeah, doc, more sure then I've ever been of anything in my entire bleedin life."

"In that case, I'll get the paperwork started."

* * * * * *

Xander jerked slightly and Spike sighed wearily. He moved to the bed and lay down, tenderly wrapping his arms around his companion. He rested his head on the pillow, concentrating his senses on the man lying next to him. He lay still, listening to the slowing heartbeat. He made low soothing sounds as much for himself as Xander. With a last sigh Xander passed peacefully.

Spike lay next to Xander watching the sky outside the window gradually growing lighter. He carefully pushed the thinning hair back from Xander's face, giving him a last kiss, then took a deep unneeded breath and walked to the window. He stood and watched as dawn approached.

" 'I want you to outlive me, promise?'" He glanced back at the bed and slowly closed the curtains.

The End