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Cartoon Heroes

Authoress Nebula

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Part One

Spike was bored. Well, he was, and he wasn't. Those damn voices just wouldn't leave him alone, and they just wouldn't shut up. They were going to drive him crazy. He snorted. Too late for that, mate.

But the voices weren't all that bad when HE was here. Whether he knew it or not, Xander Harris had become Spike's last cling to sanity. If Buffy hadn't convinced Xander to take the vampire in, Spike was sure he'd still be in that basement. Probably would also be dust. He owed Xander more than his sanity; he owed the young man his unlife. Xander's large closet had become his home, and though Spike wouldn't say he loved it, he wasn't about to leave it, or do something that would get him ejected from it.

Problem was, he wasn't sure if this would result in that ejection.

Spike stood in front of the other closet, the one in the main room, debating whether or not to open it. He'd been living with the man for a month now, and in that time this door had never been opened. Not once. Spike's curiosity had been killing him for the past couple of days, telling him to open it and find out what was inside.

“It's just a bloody closet,” he muttered. But his curiosity had completely overwhelmed him and yes, he really WAS that bored. Glancing around, though he knew that Xander was at work, he grasped the doorknob and opened the closet.

Jackets, a broom, and a vacuum cleaner met his vision first. The second thing that he saw caught his attention.

A white cardboard box on the top of the shelf. No letters, no markings to specify its contents, nothing.

Spike debated with himself, this time over pulling down the box and examining the contents. Curiosity won out again, and soon the white box was on the floor.

From what Spike saw, the box hadn't been touched in years. He pulled his fingers away to find they were covered in dust. Layers of it, actually. Couldn't be very important, if it hadn't been touched in so long. But it had to hold some importance, or else it would be in the trash.

Spike almost growled at himself as he took the lid off. Why exactly did he feel the need to question things so much? He quit his internal debate when he glanced inside and saw what he'd least expected to see.

Papers. Correction: drawings. The box was full of them, all neatly sorted.

And all appeared to be signed 'Xander'.

Spike wasn't sure what shocked him more: the quality of the drawings, or the name signed at the bottom. He supposed it was a combination of both. He knelt next to the box, almost reverently pulling each sheet out to examine it. A lot of images of a young girl that was obviously Willow. A few better drawn ones of the grown witch, and some of a certain blonde Slayer. There was a few of the Watcher, a few of Anya, even a few of him, Spike realized with a start.

All of the pictures were drawn with the person in action, not aware they were being sketched.

He spent the better part of an hour pouring through the pictures, marveling at the obvious talent and wondering why Xander didn't do this professionally.

Spike frowned when he caught sight of a yellow folder at the bottom, worn and weary with age. He pulled it out and was surprised to find its contents colored. Comics. Xander had drawn and colored his own comics, and had done so wonderfully.

They were even numbered. The pages, the entire comic book, all painstakingly numbered. Spike glanced up at the clock hanging above him. He had plenty of time before Xander was due home; what the hell. He'd read the first book.

Half an hour later found Spike reaching for the third book. Xander could not only draw, but he could write as well. The comics told the story of three kids (two boys, one girl) that were searching for a superhero. They soon found it to be the leader of the three, a familiar dark-haired boy who protected the other two. There were quite a few times the hero himself needed rescuing, though, and his friends always came to save him.

The girl was obviously Willow, but Spike had no clue who the other boy had been written after. In the books, he was a best friend to the hero.

He supposed if he kept reading, he'd find out. He finished the third book and carefully placed everything back in the box, before placing the box back on the shelf. He closed the door and headed back to his room, his thoughts diminishing the volume of the voices.

< --- >

Over the next two weeks, Spike read more into the adventures of the comic book trio. Humor, sadness, Spike read it all. Xander had a talent, or at least, had had one, once upon a time. It also looked like none of the Scoobies knew about his drawings. Which meant that he couldn't very well go up and ask them about the boy in the comics. The one whose real-life identity eluded him.

It was in book #62 that Spike finally got his answer. The book was titled 'The New Girl, Part One', and a familiar blonde made her appearance. The hero, not sure of her intentions, kept his powers a secret. He soon discovered that she was a superhero, too, with more strength then the hero. A big fight followed, and the hero's best friend was captured by the new enemy they'd fought. Real demons, this time. Not teachers, not bullies, and not parents. Actual hellmouth demons.

The new superhero and the main hero went out to rescue the best friend, but got the shock of their life. Spike swallowed as he realized that Xander's friend had been turned. Actually turned, into a real, honest to goodness vampire. He continued to read of the showdown to come between the hero and his best friend, who was now an enemy. The hero entered the arena (which looked like a very familiar club), and the bright words 'To Be Continued...' were drawn after the image.

Spike reached into the folder for the next part, only to grasp air. He frowned and glanced down. There were no more comics.

“You've got to be bloody kiddin' me,” Spike growled, searching through the stacks of papers. Maybe it hadn't been colored yet. But there HAD to be a Part Two. Spike nearly growled again. He wanted, no, needed to know what happened next. There were two ways to find out the ending, since the comic in question, which would've been book #63, was missing. One was to ask the girl from the story how it all ended. Willow had been there, obviously, and he had the drawings to prove it.

The other option was to first tell Xander he'd opened the box and examined its contents, then beg for the ending, because Spike genuinely did want to know.

Spike weighed his options carefully, before he finally decided. “Right then,” he said to himself. “We're off to see the witch.”

Part Two


“Yeah, Red?”

“Are you, um...are you okay?”

Spike inwardly gave a cheer, but on the outside gave a sullen shrug. “S'pose. You?”

Willow shrugged as well, taking a seat beside him at the Summers' kitchen table. “I've been worse. kinda look like you hit the worse side of the worser scale.”

Spike gave her a small smile at her babbling. It was good to see that some things never changed. He remembered from the comics how perfectly Xander had written and captured that Willow-babble. The comics. Right. Back on track.

“Just can't figure somethin' out, and it's drivin' me batty. Well, battier then I've been as of late,” he added after a few moments. “But I was hopin' you could clear that up for me.”

Willow blinked. “M-Me?” she stuttered. “I...uh...”

Spike sat up straighter, as if suddenly coming to life. “Need you to tell me 'bout what happened when Buffy first came to town. How you and Xander got mixed up in all of it.”

“When Buffy first...? Spike, what does that have to do with any...and did you just call Xander by his real name?”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Red, please?”

“I'm confused. Why would you want to know? I-I mean, I'll share, sure, but I'm kinda curious as to why you're asking in the first place.”

“'Cause I just...” Spike sighed. “Okay, fine. Got bored, went lookin' 'round the whelp's apartment, found his secret stash of drawin's, and I...”

“You found his drawings?!” Willow hissed, and THAT caught Spike's attention.

“You know 'bout 'em?!” he hissed back.

Willow rolled her eyes in a 'duh' manner. “Hello, I was the first person he ever drew! And they're not his secret stash. I don't even think he knows about them. When he moved into the apartment, he told me to get rid of them, keep them, do whatever I really felt like doing with them. Just keep them away from him. He couldn't stand looking at them anymore. They reminded him too much of...” She stopped and bit her lip, as if realizing she'd said too much.

But Spike had almost gotten his answer, and he wasn't about to be cheated of it when it was this close to him. “Reminded Harris of what? Red, I've read each and every single one of those damn comic books, and there's no indication as to who that other kid is. And I want that stupid 63rd book! Answer, please?” he asked, knowing very well he sounded like a Scooby but not really caring at the moment. If he got his answer, he'd talk like a bloody Scooby for the rest of the week.

Willow was shaking her head now, and Spike's hopes plummeted. “You've got to tell me!” Spike said, and no, he wasn't whining. He was just...asking in an annoying tone. “Red, I need to...”

“If you want your answer, you're going to have to ask the artist himself, because this girl has done enough dirty deeds.” Willow sat back, arms crossed over her chest.

“Ask Xander?!” Spike sputtered incredulously. “He'll dust me if he found out I'd read his stuff! Hell, think he'd dust me for touchin' it or even lookin' at the box. And I don't wanna lose...” Spike stopped, glancing away.

Willow's eyebrow raised. “Lose what?”

Spike sighed, realizing that in his attempt to pull information from the witch, he himself had almost gotten some valuable info taken from him. Unfortunately, he knew that when Willow wanted an answer, she could be just as stubborn as he was. Or just really intuitive.

“He's not gonna kick you out, Spike,” she said softly. Intuitive today, it seemed. “As much as it would pain him to admit it, I think he likes you being there. He's...he's lonely. He's always hated being alone. Tell me you didn't get that by reading those comics? So even if the company is a vampire who annoys him to no end, he won't just toss you out. He likes having a roommate, as much as he may bitch and grumble about it.”

Spike looked up at her, shocked at her language. “Every single time I say something remotely naughty,” the witch grumbled, “I get the surprised look. Good grief. But do you see what I'm saying?”

“Yeah, I see it,” Spike said, sighing. “It's also this...this trust factor we kinda almost have. It's not a friendship, 'cause he would never want that. Not that I would want that either,” he quickly added, before his face fell again. “It's just...what little we started havin', I don't...don't wanna lose. S'all.”

“I think you would be surprised by his reaction, which I'm pretty sure that I know what it'll be,” Willow said with a smile. “Just ask him. Don't bother asking Buffy, because she doesn't know. She was there, but she wouldn't remember. Ask Xander. Promise me, okay?”

“Yeah, all right.”


“Yeah, I promise! Bloody 'ell, Red.”

She turned away to make some tea, a satisfied smile on her face. Spike continued to glare at the kitchen table, as if it held all the answers. Yeah, this'll be REAL fun.


Part Three

Spike smoothed the sheets on Xander's bed once more, then hurried back into the living room. Okay, everything looked fine. He shouldn't be worried. Willow hadn't been worried about it, so why should he be?

“'Cause Red won't be on the receivin' end of a stake if she asks,” Spike muttered. He sighed, glancing around the apartment one last time.

He'd decided to go with a slightly traditional way of asking for it: do Harris a favor, then get a favor in return. The vampire had started cleaning the place as soon as Harris had left for his job, and seriously hoped his plan would work. While he'd been vacuuming the living room, he'd decided to dust the top shelf of the closet, and that meant having to move the white box onto the floor temporarily. He'd treated himself to a quick read of the 62nd book again, then had put it back with more frustration then when he'd pulled it out. He needed to know.

The sound of a key in the lock had him fussing with the coffee table for the last time, re-arranging the magazines just so. Then he was flopping onto the sofa, aiming to look as bored as possible when Xander came into the room.

Xander gave him an odd look, hanging his jacket over one of the kitchen chairs. “Are you okay?” the man asked, before heading towards the fridge.

Spike inwardly grinned. Everything was going as planned. The answer was as good as his. “M'all right, I suppose. You?”

Xander opened the fridge to rummage for a beer. “Um, I...” He stopped, his eyes widening as he stared into the fridge. Spike gave himself a mental slap. Perhaps he'd gone a tad overboard with the cleaning...

Xander pulled away without a beer, turning his incredulous stare onto the vampire. “You sorted and cleaned my refrigerator?”

Yeah, just a tad overboard. Spike shrugged, hoping he still looked bored. “Can I ask why?” Xander asked, closing the door to the newly cleaned fridge.

Spike couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face. Talk about a perfect entry line... “Care to take a look 'round the place? It's all been cleaned. Spotless.”

This was too much for Xander, and he dropped into the chair opposite the sofa. “Again with the why, 'cause not that I don't appreciate the clean living space, but there's gotta be a reason.”

Spike considered pretending to pout and say when couldn't a person help out his fellow roommate, but decided not to. Sounded like something he would've said before the soul. Shaking his thoughts off, he turned back towards the still bewildered man. “There is a reason. Talked to Red before, and she advised that I ask you, but I wasn't sure, so if this doesn't work, feel free to blame her.”

“I'm not going to throw you out, Spike,” Xander said quietly, rubbing his forehead.

Spike blinked. That hadn't been the response he'd been expecting. Red had said the same thing, that Harris wouldn't toss him out. It was nice to hear it from the man himself, though. “You're not a bad roommate to have around,” Xander continued, ignorant to Spike's inner thoughts. “And as tacky as it sounds, it's nice to have someone to come home to. Someone to argue over which TV show is the best with. I'm glad you're around.” Xander's cheeks began to burn, and he glanced away, blushing at his own admittance.

If Spike could've blushed, he would've. He felt like smiling, but knew that would ruin the image he was trying for. He hoped he could keep the joy from his voice. The joy of being wanted, of someone being happy to have him there. “Then I'd like to ask how you learned how to draw,” Spike said. Not too much joy in his tone. He could deal with that.

Xander's face was a priceless Kodak moment. From flushed and looking anywhere but Spike one moment, to wide eyed, mouth open, staring a hole through Spike the next. He tried to say something, but couldn't form the words.

Spike's joy began to deflate. “I, uh, was cleanin' the other day...” Liar! his inner thoughts screamed, but he ignored them. “And I found this white box on the top of the closet shelf. Looked through the sketches, and I gotta admit, they're bloody good.”

And Xander's expression returned to blushing and glancing away. “Anyone else but Red know?” Spike asked.

Xander shook his head. “Just her and me. And now you,” he added, sounding surprised at his own words. He frowned, then looked back up at the vampire. “What exactly did you look through?”

Spike was not going to look away, he was not...oh bollocks. He looked away, finding interest in the just cleaned television. “Drawin's, sketches, and the, um, comics.”

When Xander didn't reply right away, Spike stole a glance at the young man. Stunned was the best word to describe him. He blinked a couple of times, closed his hanging jaw, then opened it again to speak. “You...”

“I just told myself one book, and that was it!” Spike said quickly, in order to cut off Xander's lecture. “And I did, but the first one was a two part, and of course I had to read the second part, and then I was hooked enough that I had to read the third, and why isn't there a 63rd book?!” Spike stopped, realizing his voice had escalated to a shout by the end.

Xander stared, running his hand through his hair. “I was going to ask why you would want to read my poorly drawn comics, but...”

“They're not poorly drawn,” Spike said angrily, surprised that Xander would put himself down like that. Spike would've given his right arm at one point to be able to write the way Xander could draw. Why would Xander think he couldn't draw?

Images of the 'enemies' from the comics sprang to mind, the enemies that had looked a lot like parents, teachers, and bullies. All telling the hero that he wasn't a hero. He was just a plain, simple boy that couldn't do anything right. Suddenly Spike wasn't as surprised over Xander's words as he'd originally been.

That was something to ponder over a different day. He was so close to his answer, and he wasn't stopping until he had it. “The 63rd book,” Spike said, tapping his foot impatiently. “Where is it?”

Xander chuckled, shaking his head slowly. “There is no 63rd book. I never finished it.”

All of Spike's hopes plummeted. Right from the artist's mouth: there was no final book. Spike was stuck on a cliff-hanger for the rest of his days? Spike clenched his fists. No way in hell. “Then tell me what happened,” he said, his voice dangerously soft. “Now, Xander.”

Xander's head snapped up, shocked that the vampire would use his real name. “Spike, I...”

“Don't you dare tell me you can't tell me, 'cause I've already gone to Red, and she wouldn't say anythin', and I can't figure out who the bloody 'ell that other boy was, 'cause your comics wouldn't say, and I have to know how it...”

“His name was Jesse,” Xander said quietly, and that put a stop to Spike's infuriated babbling. Xander sighed and looked down at his lap. “His name was Jesse,” he repeated in an even softer tone, before continuing with his story.

“Jesse was my best friend, the one I could sneak out with at night, the one I could call when things got nasty at my house. He taught me how to ride a skateboard, and how to eat an Oreo right. And I loved him. He was the one with the smarts on how to get into class without being seen if we were late. He didn't call me a baby if I crawled into his arms with fresh bruises from my dad. He'd just let me cry. I think he would've probably made me gay,” Xander said with a soft laugh.

Spike clenched his fists again at the mention of the bruises. These were the things that hadn't been mentioned in the comics. Xander's smile had disappeared again, and he took a breath before going on once more.

“The day Buffy came to town, Willow and Jesse both found a partner at the Bronze, and were led away to 'have some fun'. We got them away from the vampires, and we were running when more vampires came and attacked us. We ran, but Jesse taken. Buffy and I decided that we'd go looking for him the next day. We found him in the sewers, and we headed back up to the surface towards safety, but Jesse turned on us. He'd been sired. Buffy and I barely got out in time.

“That night, we headed towards the Bronze, where this minion of the Master's was keeping a whole ton of prisoners. Just as we were getting them out, I got grabbed from behind. It was Jesse, but it wasn't. His face was...was all wrong. He was talking with Jesse's voice, telling me a Jesse joke, but it all felt wrong. Buffy had given me a stake before we'd left, and Jesse had caught sight of it, telling me I wasn't going to really do it. And I couldn't. I couldn't kill him.”

Xander kept staring down at his hands, clenching and un-clenching them all the while. “I got shoved from behind,” he whispered, and Spike froze. He hadn't, something else had... “I fell forward into Jesse's arms, and he jumped, like I'd kicked him or something. I glanced down at my hands, and saw the stake, embedded in Jesse's heart. I looked up to see Jesse smile at me one more time, before he crumpled into ashes.”

Abruptly he stood, causing Spike to start, then turn his gaze upwards. He felt his heart wrench as he watched the tears slide down Xander's face. “I was supposed to be the hero,” Xander said softly, before chuckling bitterly. “Some hero. I couldn't even save someone I loved.”

Before Spike could say anything, he turned away and headed into his bedroom, closing the door behind him. Spike merely continued to stare at where Xander had stood moments before, suddenly wishing he hadn't been given his answer.

Part Four

Spike kicked at a random stone in his way, ignoring the looks he got from Willow and Buffy. He couldn't have cared less about that now; his mind was still on what he'd learned about when Buffy had entered Xander's life.

It had been three days since Xander had told Spike how the story really ended. Three days, and Spike still couldn't let it go. Xander had stayed clear of him the entire time, as if afraid he would admit even more things. He'd admitted enough to keep Spike's head swirling for the rest of the year.

Spike knew what it felt like to be useless. To not be able to do what you wanted to, because you were held back by something. The chip had made that blazingly obvious over the years. What he hadn't known was how much Xander also felt that way. It was easier to see with the comics, though. Obvious for anyone to see, really. Being the hero, having super powers, hidden talents... Xander's dreams, hopes and wishes were all there. But no one had those types of powers in real life. Thus the comics.

But when Buffy had come, she'd shown him that someone really could have those powers. A real walking, talking person whose strength was unmatched. Whose courage kept others fearless. Who was everything Xander had ever wanted to be. And when he'd seen someone with the very powers he'd probably begged for but never gotten, he'd known that all his daydreams had been for nothing.

Because in the end, Xander was just...well, Xander. Nothing more, nothing less. He'd never been a hero. He never would be.

This realization had been further proved in his mind when his best friend since preschool had been taken away and killed. Xander had failed as a hero.

Spike kicked at another stone. He was surprised Xander hadn't burned the comics. They'd told such a marvelous story, but really, they'd all been lies. Lies that had helped him survive a childhood no one should have had to endure, but in the end, they were still lies.

“What's your problem?” Willow hissed in his ear.

Spike gave her a half-hearted glare, causing Willow's own gaze to soften. “Seriously, I doubt the stones of Oak Cemetery asked to be kicked and scattered all over the place.”

Spike had a quick vision of the rocks standing up and yelling at him, and he almost grinned. Yeah, he was still insane. “I asked him,” he said softly, hanging back away from the rest of the Scoobies. The last thing he needed was for Xander to hear him. When Xander kept walking with the others, he relaxed slightly.

Willow tensed. “You asked him?” she whispered, looking nervous. “Um, what exactly was...”

“Jesse,” was all Spike said, and he couldn't help the little wrench his heart gave as the witch's eyes filled with tears. “You, uh, mentioned that you were pretty sure of what his reaction would be if I told him. What reaction were thinkin' he was gonna give?”

Willow sighed, brushing away the tears in her eyes. “I thought that maybe he'd tell you...”

Whatever she'd been about to say was cut off by the sound of a demonic roar. It seemed patrol would be more then just vampires tonight. Spike started to ask her to finish, but Willow had already hefted her crossbow and was running towards a safe distance to shoot from.

Spike rolled his eyes. This was getting bloody ridiculous. Was it so hard to let him have a straight answer to a question when he asked it? He vamped out, his eyes on the scaly demon in front of him. It was time to work out his frustrations.

With a growl he ran at the demon, dodging its right arm as it swung towards him. Xander tried to get behind the demon for a chance to lodge his blade in its neck, but the demon wasn't being cooperative. Spike heard the man swear as he missed again, then yelp as he barely avoided the razor sharp claws.

“Little help, Buff!” Xander yelled.

“In a minute!” was her response, as she fought against the two vampires that had just arrived on the scene.

Spike thought about sighing and rolling his eyes again, but any thought of showing exasperation disappeared when Xander's sword was knocked onto the grass. Along with Xander's body.

Spike stared at him, watching the blood drip down the side of Xander's face. The demon howled its victory to the night sky and started towards Xander, who was desperately trying to reach his sword. He'd never make it in time.

Images of Xander ran through his head. Him sitting in his chair while telling the story of Jesse, his weariness easy for all to see. His eyes shining with unshed tears at the remembrance of a friend long gone. The small blush on his face as he told Spike that he wanted the vampire to stay with him.

It was that last image that put Spike into motion. With a roar he leapt onto the demon, grabbing its head and wrenching it towards the other way. Away from Xander. “Red!!” Spike yelled, causing Willow to turn towards him. Her eyes widened at she caught sight of Xander, so Spike didn't bother telling her to hurry and help. Besides, he had his hands full distracting the demon.

Spike managed to land a few kicks to the demon's torso before it decided it had had enough. He blinked and found himself slammed up against a tombstone, several yards away from the demon. The demon that was once again turning towards a stumbling Xander and a struggling Willow. Dammit.

“OI!!” Spike shouted, “Big and ugly!!”

The demon turned towards him, growling. Spike grinned. “That's right, you sad excuse for a Dragn'ric, I called you big and ugly. What're you gonna do 'bout it?”

Stomping towards Spike was apparently what it was going to do about it. “Thought so,” Spike muttered, before pushing himself up. He had the thing's attention now, and all he needed to do was keep it occupied long enough for Willow to get Xander out of any imminent danger. He could see the young man out of the corner of his eye shaking his friend off, giving her his patented 'I'm just fine and dandy, don't worry about me' smile. Damn him! He was not fine, couldn't Willow see that? Couldn't HE see that??

Xander stumbled again, even as he headed for his sword. What was he thinking?! He couldn't fight. Xander, please, just head home, Spike silently begged. Get out of here. The Dragn'ric could smell blood like a vampire could. And the blood was still flowing down Xander's face...

Xander reached down and grabbed the sword, before turning back to the demon that was in the process of trying to decide who to go after: the young man, or the vampire. Spike slid to a halt, knowing who the demon would go after even before the demon did. He began to run back towards the demon as it took its first step towards Xander.

Xander grimaced but swung the sword onto his shoulder. Spike couldn't believe what he was seeing, because Xander hadn't been able to get a hit in when he was in top health, and he certainly was in no condition to...

Then his world turned black, and Spike didn't see anything for a long time.

Part Five


Great, now he was hearing things. Wait. He was hearing things! That was a good thing. A good good thing, and bloody 'ell, he was starting to sound like one of those damn Scoobies.


He could hear the voice, but he couldn't see anything. Eyesight was apparently not functioning yet. And the voice was so distant, he couldn't discern if it was a male or a female calling to him. Hey, at least he could hear...well, whoever it was.


Oh, wait, now he knew who it was. The whelp. No, wait, Harris. If he could've used his hands, he would've smacked himself in the forehead. Xander! Xander was his name. He hated it when he got locked in this state of almost/not really being somewhere. He'd forget things. Like why he'd started calling the whelp/Harris Xander instead of his previous names for the boy. Young man. Sod it; he'd remember which was which when he came around.

Spike, can you hear me?

What was he, that bloody Verizon guy that walked all over testing that phone? He could hear Xander just fine. He tried to vocalize his thoughts, but it was no use. His oral organs weren't working yet, either. He really hated it when he got locked in like this.

Dammit Spike, what the hell were you thinking?

Whoa, whoa, what?! If anyone should be yelling at someone, it would be me to you, mate, he wanted to say. Xander had tried to fight again, after receiving a terrible gash in his head. Wait. The fight. The reason he was in this locked void in the first place. Was Xander all right? What about the demon?

You could've gotten yourself killed. Why would you taunt the damn thing? I mean, c'mon, you've gotta have more sense then that.

He wanted to snort in exasperation. He'd been trying to save Xander. Some thanks he gets.

I would've been fine. I've gotten hit before. I wasn't worth you almost getting yourself...yourself killed. You shouldn't have...dammit, Spike, if you don't pull out of this, I will kill you...

Xander sounded almost upset over him being in this locked state. He knew he probably really looked dead, even more so then he usually did. Still, it wasn't anything to worry about. He'd be fine. He always was.


What? What was Xander saying...?

Please, okay. Please, Spike, wake up. Please.

He couldn't even feel his body, and yet he could feel his heart twisting. Xander was crying. He could hear it in the young man's voice, could almost feel tears on his face. Wait. He really could feel tears on his face. He realized that tears weren't the only thing on his face. There were fingers running along his cheeks, then up into his hair. What the...? Okay, face better be working, because he had to wake up. He had to...

Slowly Spike opened his eyes, only to find himself staring into glistening and worried brown ones. The relief in them was immediate, and Xander gave a shuddering sigh. “About damn time you woke up,” he said, glaring at the vampire. “What the hell possessed you to goad that thing on?!”

“Dunno; maybe the same thing that possessed you into thinkin' you could fight it, even when injured,” Spike said, his voice scratchy. He started to sit up, then fell back with a hiss. Apparently, his body wasn't very well pleased with him.

Xander helped the vampire into a sitting position, frowning all the while. “What do you mean? I was fine. I am fine!”

Spike glared at the human, before using all his strength to reach up and poke Xander in his forehead. Xander winced, and Spike felt a small twinge from his chip. “Fine, huh?” he snapped, feeling happy and miserable at the same time as Xander glanced away, his face flushed. “You could've gotten hurt a lot worse then that,” Spike said, his voice softer now. “Your head all right?”

Xander nodded. “When someone's not poking at it,” he said, giving Spike a small grin. Spike gave him a ghost of his trademark smirk, and both men relaxed.

“Doesn't look like you've treated it though,” Spike said with a frown. The wound looked nasty, and he hoped it was smaller then it looked. Of course, he couldn't really tell with all the dried blood on Xander's face. Spike's frown deepened. “Didn't the blood wash off?”

Xander's grin faded, and he shrugged sheepishly. “I was, uh, a little too busy trying to get the unconscious vampire back into my apartment so I could help him.”

“You haven't washed the wound yet?” Spike asked incredulously, leaning forward to scold Xander before he remembered he shouldn't really moving. His vision swam, and he blinked to try and clear it. After blinking twice, he found himself back down on the sofa, concerned eyes looking down at him once more.

“Didn't we do this part already?” he joked weakly, trying to make Xander smile. Laugh. Chuckle. Anything, so long as it took that damned look out of his eyes. It didn't look right on the young man. He didn't want Xander to worry. He wasn't worthy of Xander's worry. Why had Xander even let him stay? He was dirty, disgusting, a monster...

The joke didn't work, and the concerned look only deepened. “Don't you go crazy on me again,” Xander muttered, before rising to his feet and hurrying off into the kitchen. It took Spike a few moments to realize he'd been mumbling his thoughts under his breath, and it took him a few more moments to realize he was still doing it.

He tried to stop, but the voices chose that moment to come pounding back, yelling and screaming and pleading and cursing him, damning him for all he'd done, and they just wouldn't stop. Louder, now, and Spike desperately tried to cover his ears, tried to make them shut up. The voices only got louder, and Spike's mouth opened in a silent scream. No, no, NO! This wasn't how it was supposed to go. He was supposed to be safe here. The voices couldn't touch him here. Why weren't they going away?

Xander. Xander wasn't there to make them shut up. The voices continued to scream, and it seemed like their cries for mercy bounced off of the living room walls, only to come back and slam into Spike. Spike turned his eyes to the kitchen, knowing there was only one way to stop this.

“Xander,” he said, or rather, tried to say. His voice was hoarse, and he knew Xander would never hear him above the other voices.

“Xander,” he tried again, his voice a little stronger now. He needed the young man, he needed his help, he needed...

“Xander, please,” he cried in an almost whisper, shutting his eyes as the voices swarmed around him, preparing to hurt him, make him pay.

Then, they were gone. The only thing Spike could feel was a hand on his shoulder, running back and forth in a soothing manner. Slowly Spike opened his eyes.

Xander knelt beside the sofa, managing to give the vampire a small smile. “I'm here,” he said softly. “I'm here, Spike.”

With a whimper of relief Spike tried to scoot towards Xander, only to have the hand grasp his arm. “Gimme a second,” was all Xander said, before the young man reached underneath Spike, his other arm now under Spike's knees. The hand on his shoulder disappeared, only to appear behind Spike's head, gently pulling the vampire into Xander's arms. Spike whimpered again, leaning into Xander's warmth.

Let him be the Big Bad later. Let him deny being weak and clingy. All he wanted now was to stay in Xander's arms, where the voices couldn't reach him.

Part Six

“Voices gone now?” Xander asked quietly.

Spike shook his head against the young man's chest. It was a lie; the voices had disappeared once more. But Spike knew that when the voices were gone, this little pity embrace would disappear as well. And he was quickly finding out that he liked being in Xander's arms. They'd grown stronger as a result of Xander's construction work. Bigger, stronger, ready to take on the world. Ready to keep Spike safe.

“Is there anything I can do?” Xander said hesitantly, and Spike sighed, cursing his soul for the millionth time. Now he was going to tell Xander the truth, and as a reward for his honesty, get placed back onto the sofa, out of Xander's warm safety haven.

“Disappeared the minute you touched me,” Spike mumbled, closing his eyes. He was just tired, that was all. It wasn't because he didn't want to see Xander let him go. Nope, not at all.

There was a pause, before Xander grasped Spike tighter. Spike's eyes stayed closed as he felt himself being moved, and a few moments later was placed onto a cool...pillow? Spike's eyes opened, and he found himself in Xander's bedroom, being covered with blankets. “What're you...” he said, unable to finish.

Xander stared at him, before shaking his head and chuckling. “You really thought I would stop being there for you because the bad stuff went away? It doesn't work that way. Not if you...” He shook himself again, then flashed Spike his best grin. “Move over bleach-boy; you're hogging the covers.”

Spike didn't even bother trying to hide the enormous smile that was making its way across his face as Xander crawled into the bed beside him. He wasn't going to be left alone. Someone was going to take care of him. He knew he probably looked like an absolute fool, with a foolish grin spreading from ear to ear, but he didn't care. He told himself once more that he'd deal with the repercussions of not living up to his Big Bad image later. At the moment, nothing was more important then this.

Xander merely smiled at him before opening his arms again, chuckling softly as Spike dove into the warm embrace. He could feel the living heat from Xander filtering through his cold body. Hot hands reached around his back, snaking up to run fingers through his loosened curls. “Try to get some sleep that isn't demon-induced,” the human said, his fingers never stopping as they moved through Spike's hair again and again.

Spike nodded, more then happy to take Xander's advice. His eyes closed, then popped back open as he realized something. “The demon,” he said, trying to sit up. One gentle but firm push from Xander put him back on the bed. “What happened to the demon?” Spike asked, shaking his head. He could sit up on his own, for crying out loud...

“It's dead, Spike. Don't worry about it. Go to sleep.”

“You didn't answer my question,” Spike persisted, trying to get up again. Another push from Xander caused the vampire to glare at the human. “What happened to the bloody demon?”

“Spike, it's...”

“Dead, I got that, but what happened to...”

“I killed it, Spike,” Xander said, before glancing away, his entire face red.

Spike blinked. “But how the bloody 'ell did you...Xander, even when you weren't hurt, you couldn't get a hit in, so how did...” Spike continued to stare at the human in shock.

If possible, Xander's face turned a deeper shade of red. “I, um, just got a lucky shot in, I guess,” he said, before clearing his throat. “You need the rest. Go to sleep, Spike.”

“Are you all...”

“I'm fine,” Xander said, cutting Spike off. “Go to sleep.”

Spike closed his eyes, but his mind was whirling with questions. How had Xander gotten rid of that demon? Was he all right? He hadn't really looked for any injuries, but if Xander was seriously bleeding, he should get up and

When Xander was sure Spike was asleep, he smiled and bent his head down, placing a light kiss on the vampire's forehead. Gently he extricated himself from Spike's grasp and headed to clean his own wounds, now that he was sure Spike would be fine.

Part Seven

Willow jumped from her seat on the sofa as the front door was slammed open. She rolled her eyes before throwing a glare at Spike. “That wasn't really necessary, you know,” she scolded, but a few seconds later her frown turned upside down. “I'm glad you're feeling better.”

Spike gave her a small embarrassed yet pleased smile, before taking a seat next to her. “Glad we're on the same page. Need to ask you 'bout what happened last night.”

“What's to ask?” the redhead queried, sitting back. “You got knocked out, the demon got killed, you got healed.”

“Ah, but that's just the general stuff,” Spike said, leaning forward. “How'd the demon die? How?”

“I think you have the answer to that, too,” Willow said, raising her eyebrows at him.

Spike sighed. “All I found out was that Xander had killed it. But it doesn't make sense! How could he...that demon couldn't be touched when Xander was in top shape, and...”

Willow began to shake her head rapidly. “Uh-uh. You are NOT getting the answer from me. I've already given you answers to your previous questions. This genie is out of wishes, pal.”


“No! No more!”

“Willow, please!”

Willow blinked at the mention of her real name. The pleading look on his face caused her resolve to crumble, and she sighed. “I saw you running towards the demon, and then the demon just turned, I swear that's all he did. You went flying, Spike. Straight into a crypt, and I could hear the crack even from where I was standing. I turned to get Xander out of there, and the look on his face...” Willow winced at the memory. “He looked like he'd gotten stabbed, that kinda wide-eyed shocked look, you know? And then his gaze turned on that demon, and I wanted to step away from my best friend, 'cause he was giving me the wiggins. The demon never knew what hit him.”

Spike stared at her, his jaw hanging open. Xander had done that? For...for him?

“After the demon was dead, he just dropped his sword and took off for you,” Willow continued, ignoring the stunned look on Spike's face. “He didn't even bother with his own injuries as he grabbed you and hurried back to his apartment. I went with him, since Buffy said she'd be okay patrolling on her own. She looked...worried about you,” the redhead added hesitantly.

Spike could've cared less at the moment. He made a hurried 'go on' gesture, not catching the tiny satisfied smile Willow had on her face as he ignored the Buffy mention. “He was really worried, and he kept talking to you, trying to get you to wake up. I told him that you were probably in some sort of vampire healing slumber, but he still looked scared. I helped him as much as I could, and then I left. And that's all,” Willow concluded, crossing her arms.

Spike sat there in silence, trying to process everything she'd just told him. Okay, Xander being worried about him had been a surprise. A big one. Is it really? a voice in his head asked, but he ignored it for the time being.

Xander taking out the demon on his own was another shock. He hadn't known that the young man had had it in him. And he'd taken it down singlehandedly. Injured, no less.

But for Xander to stay worried about him, to help the vampire, to be there for him even after Spike had awakened...Spike turned to Willow, and he was surprised to see a small smile on her face. “You don't get it, do you?” she asked quietly.

This bewildered Spike even more. “Get what? Red, what're you talkin' 'bout?”

“Give it some thought,” she encouraged him. “You'll figure it out.”

Spike was about to say that he'd rather she figured it out for him, but his inner voice smacked his inner head and told him to follow her advice. But he couldn't even begin to grasp what she might be talking about. Maybe if he went a little further back into their conversation, he'd puzzle it out. Besides, he had a feeling he had to if he wanted the answer; it didn't look like she'd be sharing anything anymore.

They'd been talking about Spike, Xander, and the demon. Okay, the demon's dead. The answer's not there, so it has to be either about himself or Harris. It couldn't be about himself, or else he'd know, right? So it had to be Xander. Right.

She'd told him about Xander hacking the demon to pieces by himself. A noble feat, but there wasn't really anything to get about that. Xander looking like he'd been stabbed. Something coiled inside Spike's gut at the thought, and he had to suppress his shudder. He didn't like thinking about Xander being stabbed. Bad thoughts. He seriously hoped his answer wasn't there, because he didn't want to think about that anymore.

Xander rushing over to carry him home. Xander taking care of him, neglecting his own wounds so he could take care of Spike's. Xander being there for him. Xander holding him so he'd sleep. Xander being all around sweet and kind and gentle with him. Not traits he'd usually put with the man. Well, he'd seen him act that way with Anya of course, so he knew Xander was capable of being that way, but until recently, Spike himself had never been on the receiving end. He still didn't get what he was supposed to

Spike's jaw dropped for the second time in the space of ten minutes, and he turned to Willow with a disbelieving look. Her smirk was enough to confirm his beliefs. “How long?” he managed to choke out.

Willow scrunched her forehead as she thought, before she glanced at Spike, smile back in place. “I think the first time he mentioned it to me was when he went down into the basement to ask you about me. Supposedly it started earlier then that, when he was helping Buffy pull you off of a cross or something? I wasn't back at that time, so I don't know. But I know he told me how much he hated seeing you in that basement. I think the whole him giving Buffy a hard time about you coming to stay with him was when he was going through his denial stage.”

Spike blinked. “He helped Buffy get me off that cross?” he sputtered.

Willow frowned. “You didn't know?”

“What do you think? I was insane and outta my mind at the time. I draped myself over a cross, for cryin' out loud. I didn't 'member nothin', except for someone pullin' me off, sayin' somethin' 'bout bein' careful, but I thought it was Buffy, not...bleedin' 'ell,” he mumbled, collapsing against the back cushions.

Willow waited a few moments before continuing in a soft voice. “I know it's kinda hard to take in, but it wasn't easy for him either. And then to know that you hate him, it's just gotta...”

“I don't hate him,” Spike said suddenly, turning to her with a frown. “He's all right, I guess.” Liar! the voice in his head screamed at him. He was really getting tired of hearing that voice.

Willow raised her eyebrows again. “Just 'all right'?” she asked.

Spike sank further into the sofa, shrugging. “Just 'all right'?!” she demanded again, showing her stubborn streak. “Spike...”

“All right, he's better then all right! He's likable, I s'pose.”

“Likable enough that you feel the same way as he does?” she asked, her voice soft once more.

Spike started to argue, then stopped himself. That was the question, wasn't it? If someone had asked him two weeks ago, his answer would've been raised eyebrows and a remark along the lines of 'I may be crazy, but I'm not THAT far gone'. But now...

“Whatever your decision is, I think you should talk to him,” Willow said. “Let him know how you feel, and how it has to stand. Don't let him hope for nothing, Spike. Please. I've seen him get hurt too many times.”

“Jesse...I think he probably would've made me gay.” An image of Xander sitting, a miserable smile on his face, flashed through Spike's mind, and he flinched. “I know,” Spike said quietly. “I know.”

The two sat, each lost in their own thoughts. “He'd rather...that you were honest,” Willow said tentatively. “He knows, as do I, that you've gotten hurt lots of time, too. It's one of the reasons he hasn't told you about he feels, you know. He knows you might get spooked by the idea of...well, anything like that because of previous experiences, and he doesn't want to be the cause of it. He won't say anything unless you do.”

It was those softly spoken words that made up Spike's mind. He stood abruptly, glancing down at the redhead. “I'll tell him tonight,” he said, heading to the door. He paused, grabbing his blanket before turning back to Willow. “Red?”

Willow frowned. “Yeah, Spike?”

“...Thank you.”

Willow smiled. “You're welcome.”

< --- >

He had three hours before Xander came home. How the hell was he going to tell him? Hey Harris, I know your secret, and we have to talk about it. Hey Xander, talked to Willow today, and she told me something interesting. Xander, you like me; we need to talk.

Spike groaned and flopped onto the sofa. That wasn't going to work. He wanted to tell Xander, but he wanted to tell him just so. He couldn't figure out how to best put it into words, though, without it coming out wrong.

Well, he could clean things up again, but things were pretty much still clean from the last sweep through. He'd run the vacuum anyways; it would do the room good. The vacuum which was stored in the closet out of the corner of his eye. The one with the white box in it.

Spike sat up straighter. There was really only one way he could tell Xander what he wanted to tell him. He began to smile as he headed over for the closet, pulling the white box down. He had three hours to get this done before Xander came home. If he didn't get this right, things were going to be awkward for the both of them.

But if he did this right...

His smile growing, Spike set to work.

Part Eight

Xander was a little late getting home. 'Little late' ended up being almost two hours after he usually arrived home. One look at the sour face that walked in the door sent Spike scurrying for his closet. He'd wait there until Xander got to the point of noticing the surprise.

Banging in the kitchen told Spike that the reason Xander was late wasn't a good one. Yeah, he'd just stay in his closet.

He could hear the banging stop, and then an aggravated sigh from the young man. The refrigerator opened, then was slammed shut. Sounds of feet pacing back and forth on the tile, and then another sigh as the feet stepped from tile to carpet. The sounds of a jacket being shrugged off, and Spike froze. This was the moment of truth. Xander always, always put his jacket on his bed, then sat down on the comforter to take his shoes off. The vampire blinked as he realized how many of Xander's little rituals he actually knew. He shook himself, listening as Xander groaned and sat down on the bed.

“What the hell?” he heard Xander exclaim, and Spike smiled. Show time.

Slowly and softly Spike made his way from his closet towards Xander's room. The shuffling of papers told Spike that the young man had found his surprise, so Spike dared a peek into the room.

Xander sat on the bed, just like Spike had thought he was, the bewilderment obvious on his face. He glanced at the top page and started to set it down, but froze as he caught one of the names on the page. The papers were brought in front of him again, and Xander began to read.

Spike remembered each word, each paragraph perfectly. If Xander wasn't going to finish the comic book tale, then someone had to.

So Spike had.

He'd written down how the hero had staked the demon that had destroyed his friend, how the hero had lost his superpowers for awhile due to his grief for his lost friend. How the new girl had taken over his duties, and the adventures that had gone on with the new trio.

Then the arrival of a big, bad, monster lord. He saw Xander grin even as tears gathered in his eyes, and Spike knew he'd reached the part of the vampire's entrance. Maybe Spike wasn't the big, bad, monster lord anymore, but he was the writer here; he had the power to write whatever he wanted.

The story went on to tell how the hero and the monster had disliked each other instantly, but over the years had formed a tentative friendship. Then, the monster had gone away, and when he'd come back, he'd been hurt. The hero had seen this, and had decided he had to help the monster. He'd taken the monster in, helped him heal, saved the monster from the ghosts that were hurting the monster.

Spike watched as the tears rolled down the young man's face. His bottom lip quivered as his breathing became hitched, but his eyes never stopped reading.

Spike bit his bottom lip. Xander was on the second to last page now. This was the moment of truth.

The story was now at the part where the monster was injured, about to be destroyed by another demon, but the hero had jumped in and saved him. And when the ghosts had come to finish the monster off, the hero had destroyed them. The monster was saved, but there was something important he had to tell the hero.

Xander flipped to the final page, then frowned. He checked both sides, his frowning deepening even as he sniffled. Spike suppressed a grin and stepped into the room. “Havin' problems with the endin'?” he asked calmly, causing Xander's head to whip up in surprise.

Xander wiped his eyes on the back of his sleeve. “Something tells me that there is no ending,” he replied, giving Spike a look. He set the papers down and sighed. “Is this payback for me not giving you a 63rd book?”

Spike couldn't hold the grin back anymore. “Well, that's part of it, I'll admit. But see, you were nice enough to finish your story for me, so I'll do the same.

“The endin's not right, though,” Spike said, tapping his foot and pretending to look frustrated. “See, the hero's real curious like, wantin' to know what the monster's got to tell him. The monster says that he already knows, though.”

Xander frowned. “What are you talking about? I don't read minds, Spike.”

“Maybe not, but you still know what I'm talkin' 'bout. See, the monster went and talked with the hero's best friend of many years. She helped him figure somethin' out. Helped him figure out somethin' that was right in front of him, and had been for awhile. The monster just hadn't seen it.”

“Seen what?” Xander asked, but he looked a little more suspicious now.

Spike swallowed. It was now or never. “Seen that the hero thought about the monster in a more then friend way.”

Xander's face paled yet flushed at the same. His jaw dropped, and he sputtered for a response. “I-I don' isn't l-like...I-I...” He muttered a curse under his breath and dropped his head.

After a few moments, the vampire knelt down in front of Xander. “The monster wanted to know if it was true,” he said softly.

“You're not a monster,” Xander muttered, catching Spike off guard.

“That's debatable, I s'pose, but you're not answerin' the question. Is it true?”

“Yes!” Xander said, before dropping his voice down to an almost whisper. “Yes.” He sighed and ran a shaky hand through his hair. “I didn't...didn't want you to know about...I'm...I'm sorry, Spike, I really...”

“Then the monster wants to tell the hero something,” Spike said, cutting the young man off.

Xander snorted. “I told you, you're not a monster. And I'm not a hero. Never was, never will be.”

“That's not true,” Spike said, clenching his fists. He was torn between knocking some sense into the man in front of him or just holding him and keeping him safe and wanted. “Look at me. Dammit Xander, look at me.”

Slowly Xander raised his head to meet Spike's eyes. “You might not think you're a hero, but I know that you are,” Spike said softly. “You saved me last night, Xander. You were hurt, you were tired, you were bleedin' and limpin', but you killed that demon. All on your own, from what Red told me. How exactly did you do that, anyways?” Spike asked, frowning.

Xander gave a sheepish shrug. “I, uh, just grabbed my sword and started towards it, and I figured that no matter how tough it was, it wouldn't be getting up if its head wasn't attached to its neck. So I, uh, sliced it off.”

“Must've been some powerful magic you had goin' on to help you,” Spike commented, raising an eyebrow.

If possible, Xander looked even more sheepish. “Um, it really was just me that took out the demon. I just got this power surge and went with it.”

“Sounds like adrenaline,” Spike said, inwardly crossing his fingers. “It's usually for flight or fight, and it sounds like you took the fight option.”

“I had to,” Xander said suddenly, his face and tone serious. “If I didn't get rid of it, I couldn't...couldn't get to you,” he added in a quieter tone.

Spike gave an inward cheer. So Xander had fought the demon for him. He'd assumed, but he'd wanted to know for sure. “That's what I was talkin' 'bout. You killed the demon because of me, Xander. So I wouldn't be in danger. Then you brought me back here and took care of me even before you took care of yourself. And when I needed someone, you were there. You got rid of those voices. You saved me, Xander. Maybe you didn't save Jesse, but you saved me in more ways then one.”

By the time he was through, Xander's eyes shimmered with unshed tears. Xander swallowed, and one lone tear rolled down his cheek. Gently Spike reached up and brushed it away, then turned back to the young man. “Maybe you don't think so,” he said quietly, “But if someone asked me to choose my hero, I'd point 'em to you every single time.”

Xander swallowed again, the tears freely flowing down his face now. He took a few deep breaths, trying to get his emotions under control, before he asked his question. “What was the...the important thing you had to t-tell me?”

“It's more of an askin' thing really,” Spike said, leaning in closer. “The mons...” He stopped, shaking his head. “I wanted to know if it was possible to gain a kiss from the handsome hero. Because you see,” Spike whispered, even as Xander's eyes widened in disbelief and hope, “I think of the hero in a more then friends way, too.”

Xander sniffled and leaned forward, closing the gap between the two. He pressed his lips against Spike's, his shaking hands coming up to grasp the sides of Spike's face. Xander pulled away after a few short kisses, his breathing hitched and uneven. “Y-You're not just saying this b-because...” Xander started.

Spike chuckled softly and reached up to take Xander's hands in his. “No, I'm not sayin' any of this 'cause I pity you, 'cause I don't. I'm sayin' it 'cause it's true.” He paused. “I think I could fall in love with you,” he said softly.

That was all it took for Xander to lose control. Choking back a sob, Xander slid from the bed and into Spike's lap, burying his head in the vampire's chest. Spike wrapped his arms around the human and murmured, “I'm here, Xan. I'm here.” The arms around the young man tightened, never letting go even as Xander's body shook.

When the sobbing turned to sniffling, Spike bent down and placed a small kiss on top of Xander's head before clearing his throat. “Not to bring up the worst question ever, but, uh, where exactly do we go from here?”

Xander sniffled again, then began to smile. Spike could feel his insides turning to mush over that one beautiful smile. Yeah, he could fall in love with Xander.

Xander sat up, reaching for the papers on the bed. He pulled out the final page, the blank one, then twisted around to open his nightstand and pull out a pen. He bit his lip, then began to draw.

Spike tried to glance at what the young man was drawing, but one glare from Xander had him holding his hands up in surrender. He'd wait. He'd waited before for his answers, so he could wait now.

Xander's smile grew as he drew the final components, writing something next to the figures that had Spike craning his neck again to see. Xander rolled his eyes and handed the paper to Spike, then sat back against the bed. Spike grinned in triumph, before turning his attention to the drawing.

It was a sketch of two hands intertwined with two speech bubbles below the drawing. The top bubble had the words 'where exactly do we go from here?' in it. Spike stole a glance at Xander, who was picking loose threads from the carpet, looking anywhere but at Spike. Spike glanced down at the second bubble and froze.

Written in the second bubble were the words 'anywhere, so long as it's together'. A small heart was drawn at the end of the sentence.

Spike glanced up at Xander, who was now looking at the vampire nervously. “Too much?” Xander asked, when the silence began to stretch on for too long.

Spike's response was to toss the paper to the side and lean forward, capturing Xander's lips with his. His tongue darted out, licking Xander's bottom lip. Xander groaned and reached around to pull Spike closer.

Spike's tongue slipped inside, finding Xander's own tongue with ease. The two dueled for dominance, and it was the human who won. Xander tilted his head, allowing his tongue to slide into Spike's mouth even further. The tip of his tongue roamed around the vampire's mouth, even while his fingers were digging into Spike's back.

“Easy with the nails, Xan,” Spike chuckled when they pulled away for air.

Xander grinned sheepishly, even as his face began to color. “Sorry. No nail usage, check.”

“I'm not goin' anywhere,” Spike said quietly, his hand coming up to cup Xander's face. Xander's grin slid away, and he closed his eyes as he leaned into the touch. “I mean it, pet,” he continued. “Just like you said before; not gonna leave when the bad things come or go. I'm stayin' for good.”

“Promise?” Xander whispered, opening his eyes to glance at Spike.

Spike smiled. “Promise. On one condition,” he added after a moment.

Xander frowned. “And that would be...?”

“Write the final comic, please?”

The End

A Cartoon Christmas

A gift for alice23kate.

Spike pulled out his keys, opening the door without a second thought. It had only been a few months since he'd officially started living with Xander, but Spike couldn't think of any place he'd rather be. Xander's apartment was home.

“Xander?” he called, stepping into the hallway. He frowned, glancing around. Kitchen: nope. Living room: no one. But Xander's heartbeat was there... “Xander?” he called again, growing slightly worried.

“In here!” Xander shouted from the office, and Spike relaxed. He was fine. Just trying to give Spike a second death with worry, but that was no different then any other day.

Spike took off his coat as he headed into the closet that had once been his room. After Spike had moved into Xander's bedroom, the two had converted the closet into an office, with two desks, computers, and anything else they might need.

Xander's head was bent over his work, etching out the final plans for a new building. He spared a glance at his lover, giving Spike a quick smile before turning back to his work. “How was patrol?” he asked, growling at the plans that weren't being drawn perfectly.

Spike stifled a smile as Xander began erasing a tiny line. “Uneventful. Buffy inadvertently stepped on the stone the demons needed for the risin' of their master, and that was the end of that.”

Xander rolled his eyes, brushing away bits of eraser. “At least there's no apocalypse headed our way. It'd be nice to have a Christmas where something evil isn't coming to visit.”

Spike smirked. “The only thing evil that'll be comin' this Christmas will be me after we...”

“Spike,” Xander warned, glaring at the vampire. Spike merely laughed and bent down, wrapping his arms around the human's shoulders. Xander unconsciously leaned back into the touch, directing his glare towards the drawn plans. “I screwed it up again,” he muttered, throwing his pencil down. “It's a simple enough thing to do, and I can't do it.”

Spike's heart twisted at the words, but said nothing, only tightening his hold on his lover. Xander had come a long way in realizing and believing that his drawings were worth something. Every now and then, though, he'd slip back, thinking himself nothing more than the loser he'd been told he was throughout his life. Spike would always be there, ready to stop the self-degrading thoughts.

“Doesn't look simple to me,” Spike said softly, glancing down at the plans. And it didn't; the plans were full of carefully laid out angles that in turn were clearly marked by degree numbers. Every line where it belonged, every curve meticulously drawn. “Looks extremely complicated. I couldn't do it.”

“That makes two of us,” Xander said, his shoulders dropping.

“Tell me what's wrong with it,” Spike murmured. “Show me, because I can't see it.”

Xander waved his hand over the paper. “The reason you can't see it is because you're too close to it. You'd have to back up so you could see the entire thing.” He sighed, rubbing at his eyes even though Spike's arms were still around him. “I just want to draw anything and have it be worth something,” he said in a tiny voice.

“Shush,” Spike whispered, swiveling the chair around so Xander was facing him. He reached up and pulled the the young man down into his embrace, Xander's head resting against Spike's chest. “There's nothin' wrong with that drawin' up there, I assure you. Got the eyes of an eagle, 'member?”

“Yeah, but even an eagle can miss something if he's not looking at it close enough. I've been staring at that thing for hours, Spike. It's a piece of crap.”

“And how exactly would you know that?” Spike asked, rubbing small circles on Xander's back. “Maybe all that starin' has started makin' you see things that aren't there. Maybe you think it's rubbish 'cause you're just used to seein' perfection all the time,” he joked, smiling.

“Or maybe I know it's worthless because Xander Harris drew it,” Xander mumbled.

Spike's smile quickly disappeared. “What brought this on?” he asked gently, frowning down at his lover. Normally Xander's thinking didn't go this far. Something must've happened for him to seriously think this way.

“Nothing. Just the knowledge that I'm...I don't even have enough words. Pathetic? A screw-up?”

Spike didn't want to listen to anymore. His fingers cupped the young man's chin, forcing Xander's gaze to meet Spike's. “You listen to me,” Spike said quietly, both hands going up to tangle in Xander's hair. “Xander Harris is not a screw-up. Xander Harris is a beautiful, talented young man, one I'm lucky to be livin' with. His talent with a sword is amazin', and his talent with a pencil is even more incredible. But it's this talent...” Spike gently placed his hand over Xander's heart, “...this talent that renders me speechless. 'Cause every time I look in his eyes, I can see it, that devotion, care, love...all of it for me. And I still can't believe it.”

Xander's eyes began to flood, but his gaze never wavered from Spike's.

Spike's smile turned into a smirk. “'Course, there's this one talent he's got with his tongue, and when applied in the right places...”

Xander gave a hitched laugh, wiping his eyes. “Idiot,” he mumbled, but he was smiling now, and that was all Spike cared about.

Your idiot,” Spike corrected, his smile softening.

“My idiot,” Xander agreed. He sniffled, letting Spike brush away the few last tears.

“And your drawin's aren't worthless,” Spike continued.

Xander's smile faded. “Aren't you required to say that as my boyfriend?”

Spike gave the human a stern look even as his heart did a few leaps at the word 'boyfriend'. He'd heard it a dozen times already, and yet every single time, he was still amazed. “No, I'm not. I could very well say they're rubbish, but they're NOT. 'Sides, they've gotta be worth somethin'. Brought us together, didn't they?”

Xander blinked. “They did, didn't they?” he said, his voice full of realization and awe.

“Yeah, they did. Now, are you gonna tell me what brought all this on?”

Xander sighed and leaned forward, mumbling something into Spike's chest. “Try again?” Spike asked, frowning.

“Your Christmas present,” Xander said a little louder, not lifting his head.

Okay, not the response Spike had been expecting. “Can I ask why?” he finally managed.

Xander shifted uncomfortably in Spike's arms. “It being our, you know, first Christmas and everything, I just wanted it to be...something...special.” Xander's voice had slowly dropped to a barely heard whisper, his misery once again obvious to see.

“Why wouldn't it be special?” Spike asked, bewildered.

“Becaw I may it,” Xander mumbled against Spike's chest. Spike understood him this time, however. Xander had made him a Christmas gift. He began to smile, before pulling Xander away to place a light kiss on his forehead.

“Why don't you let me be the judge of whether it's special or not,” Spike whispered. “Go get it and lemme see.”

“You just wanna see your gift early,” Xander grumbled, but turned around and opened the bottom drawer of his desk. He pulled out a small vanilla folder, then stared at it for a few moments. Spike remained silent, watching Xander wage a silent war in his head. The human finally handed the folder over, albeit reluctantly. Spike sat back to open the folder, his eyes widening at what he saw.

It was a comic book. A comic book written by Xander Harris. On the cover was the hero standing tall and proud, with a new person right behind him. Reverently Spike touched the image, eyes glistening at the image of the new person with white hair, black clothing, and a smile directed at the reader. It was him. Xander had drawn him.

Spike glanced up at Xander, who was looking anywhere but at him. He was biting his lower lip, fidgeting from his spot on the floor. Spike turned once more to the comic in front of him and carefully opened it.

The first page was a dedication. To my lover, my strength, my everything. A very Merry first Christmas, with many more to come. I love you. Your 'hero'

The next page was the introduction to the 63rd comic, but Spike didn't bother looking. He was falling apart as it was; no need to dampen the pages with his tears.

Carefully he closed the folder, already glancing back up at the fidgeting human. “I-I had something else in mind,” Xander started, still not looking at him. “B-But it didn't seem right, and then I-I remembered what you'd said awhile ba...”

With a yelp Xander fell back against the floor, a very happy vampire on top of him. “Luv, it's perfect,” Spike whispered, knowing he was grinning like an idiot. “Just bloody perfect.”

“You like it?” Xander asked nervously.

Spike pulled back to look his boyfriend in the eye. “I love it, you git! Best Christmas gift I've gotten since I was a human,” he admitted.


“Really,” Spike confirmed.

Slowly Xander began to smile. “You really like it,” he breathed.

“Yeah, I do. S'beautiful, Xan. And it's mine,” the vampire added in a hushed tone. “You drew the final comic for me.” He crushed Xander against him once more, not needing to look at Xander's face to know that he, too, was wearing a goofy grin.

Spike stole a peek at the folder. He wondered when he could sneak off and read it. Xander looked pretty tired, so he was bound to go to bed soon. His grin widened. He'd have the comic to himself tonight.

“You can have it Christmas morning,” Xander said, apparently having read his mind. Spike's grin promptly disappeared.


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