Disclaimers: Don't own em, don't sue.

A/N: Dedicated to Chaser, because she gets all my naked Spike's. Also, this story has slash in it, if you hadn't noticed. Please don't read it if you don't like that. Enjoy!

**

All showers start the same for Spike, these days. They start out cold, ice cold, and Spike wonders every time why people think that Hell would be hot. There's nothing more holy than warmth, not really, because sometimes it's the thing he misses more than ever.

After awhile he turns the hot water on, running his hands over his body and trying to spread the warmth through his icy skin. Glancing down, he's reminded of another misconception...why would a devil be red? Red is the color of life, of love, of sexuality and desire. He sighs, thinking too much again. It's a very bad and dangerous habit for him.

It's been at least a half an hour, and Spike glances at his fingers, pressing the tips together and watching the wrinkling skin as it slides against itself. He idly wonders as he does this how long it will take for Xander to come looking for him. Probably quite awhile, though he's been oddly protective since Spike arrived in his home.

He proceeds to clean himself, making sure he's soaped everything up before rinsing, rubbing at his scalp almost painfully as he tries to get rid of the gel and the bleach and the voices and the memories. With a sigh, Spike turns the cold water off completely, wincing just a little as the water grows painfully hot.

It's suddenly too much, and he collapses, sinking down to sit against the wall, water cascading down his body in long rivulets. His hands are shaking, and he throws the soap to the other side of the tub, finding little satisfaction in the soft thud it makes as it falls back and begins to float towards the drain. He watches intently as it does, imagining that the small bar is dancing to the pitter-patter beat of falling water in a strange and oddly intriguing sort of serenade.

His hair is matted and tickling his eyelashes, and he begins to rub at his face. He remembers Dru talking about how hot water helps get rid of dead skin, and laughs bitterly. If that were true, there'd be nothing left of him, nothing at all. He'd be dissolved entirely, floating down the drain and dancing with the soap suds. He rubs harder, all over his body, wondering how long it would take him to do that, to disappear down into oblivion. Maybe he'd even end up in the ocean, swimming free with fish and dolphins as tiny little Spikey William particles.

He doesn't know how long he's been doing this when Xander finally comes to check on him. The look on the young man's face makes Spike feel a little guilty - he has no right to be here, he knows, and Xander has every right to look horrified. He tries to speak, tries to explain that he'll be going away soon, and no one will worry any more, but all that comes out is a choked laugh.

Xander runs forward and turns off the water, barely seeming to notice Spike's nakedness as he pulls the vampire to his feet. Spike raises his eyebrows and says nothing. He's quite content to stand here forever, if he has to. Xander leaves him for a moment and returns with a towel, and he begins to dry his flat-mate off.

Spike notices that his hands are shaking, though he can't imagine why. It's not as though Xander's never seen what he's got to offer, after all. Spike rather enjoys this, though. He likes the way that for once, someone's skin feels cool against his.

When he's all dry, Xander wraps his arm around Spike's shoulder and leads him out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. He sets his charge down on the bed and goes to fetch another blanket out of the oak chest of drawers, and Spike watches him silently.

Xander returns to him a moment later and wraps the blanket around Spike, pushing him back on the bed. He still hasn't said anything, though his expression is still riddled with worry. He surprises Spike when he lays down beside him, pulling the bundled vampire into his arms and holding him close.

Spike realizes that it's the first time he's been held since his soul was returned, and he can barely hold back his emotion. Xander seems to know this, and he runs his hand up and down Spike's back gently, making soft shushing noises in his ear, urging him to stay, and to sleep, and to...forget.

Spike finds that he's more than willing to comply, and he soon drifts off in Xander's arms, feeling safe for the first time in a long time.